Sunday, September 7, 2014


Here's a new excerpt from my novel BLOWTORTURE. BLOWTORTURE is a dark tragedy about a washed-up child actor who is now a grown man prowling around the Hollywood Hills, torching celebrities' faces with a blowtorch, destroying their good looks and ruining their careers. This particular excerpt takes place about halfway through the story. It includes provocative ideas about the Manson family, Helter Skelter, the 1969 Rolling Stones Altamont concert, the Rodney King trial, the George Zimmerman trial and America's racial divide. Any comments and criticisms/feedback is welcome.


Malone and Henderson had been up practically all night dealing with the Billy Daniels case so their first destination upon arriving back at Hollywood Station was the break room where they hoped there would be a full pot of coffee waiting for them. As luck would have it, there WAS, indeed, some coffee waiting for them, but there was only about a half a pot and it wasn’t exactly fresh. The coffee had likely been cooking on the hot plate for several hours, probably left over from the night shift. But even if the coffee was overly bitter, there was no less caffeine in it, so it would have to do for the moment. 

Henderson put three sugars in his coffee and lots of powdered cream. Malone took it black with no sugar.

“We’re getting close now,” Malone said to Henderson. “So close I can smell the propane…”

“That sketch may have been our big break.”

“That sketch gives me the creeps.”

“Yeah, no shit. What the hell do ya think this guy’s story is?”

“I don’t know. I just hope we don’t have another goddamn Manson on our hands.”

"Hmmmm…a new Manson Family is on a blowtorching spree in the Hollywood Hills…torching celebrities’ faces…ruining their careers in Hollywood…sounds like it would be a good movie…"

Malone gave his movie-obsessed partner a stern, all-business look.

"Call Tiffany. See if she can ID the man in the sketch."

“I’m one step ahead of ya, boss. I called her while you were giving the press conference.”


“I got voice mail.”

“Keep trying. If you need me, I’ll be in my cubicle hiding from this doomed world.”

“Roger that.”

Henderson took his styrofoam cup of coffee and proceeded his way back to his cubicle. 

As for Malone, he also took his coffee, along with a sleeve of Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies that somebody had left behind—he was starving as hell and he figured the cookies were better than nothing. Cookies in hand, he retreated to his cubicle so he could sip, munch and regroup.

For some reason, Charles Manson was still haunting Malone's mind as he made his journey to the cubicle. Malone realized that this Blowtorcher had the potential to be "the next big thing" but he also realized that was Hollywood-talk right there and he hated that crap. What he meant was that the "Blowtorcher" had the potential to gain about as much notoriety as the 1969 musician-turned-mass-murderer. Well, Manson himself wasn’t the murderer - he technically just ordered the murders, but it didn’t really make much of a difference. Throughout his years in the Los Angeles police department, Malone had heard all about the Manson murders, the stories of which were passed down from the elder detectives whom had long since retired. 

One of the most bizarre stories he heard was from one of his senior detectives named Ronald Johnson, a man whom Malone essentially considered to be his mentor. Ronald had been one of the detectives assigned to the Sharon Tate murders and he had become obsessed with Manson, “The Family”, Helter Skelter and also the Beatles White album, even well after Manson and the rest of the family were locked up behind bars. 

One day, Ronald pulled Malone aside and discreetly told him about a theory he was working on proving, a theory that was going to be absolutely incendiary if it actually turned out to be true. See, Ronald was convinced that Charles Manson was a product of a secret CIA mind-control program called MKUltra. He said that Manson (a hippy) and the family (a group of hippies) were essentially created through brainwashing and other mind-control methods in order to discredit the hippy movement, which - in the late 60s - was starting to grow, gain tremendous momentum and become a threat to the “powers that be". The "powers that be" mainly wanted the general population to be acting as soulless human resources who cared more about making money for the corporations; they didn't want people acting like free-thinking human beings who cared about love and peace, unity, and equality etc. So the CIA took a quintessential hippy musician - Charles Manson - gave him some LSD, put him through hypnosis, maybe even used a little shock therapy on him, and basically created a monster that would preach all this mumbo-jumbo about how the Beatles White Album prophesied a great race war (which he called Helter Skelter) and then he would round up a family of hippy disciples, start a hippy commune and go around murdering high-profile people in Hollywood to get the most attention, the most press, thus discrediting the hippy movement, making it appear to be a sinister, evil sham.

Ronald also yapped something about how Helter Skelter and the great race war functioned to enhance the racial divide in America, shattering any progress that the hippies and civil rights activists had made during the 1960s civil rights movement. The media couldn't get enough of Manson and his swastika carved into his forehead and all his racial bigotry. There was just one sensational image after another, of Manson sticking out his tongue, looking like the devil incarnate, yapping about white supremacy. It was really thrown into the face of the public. Americans were bombarded with these demonic images. And all it did was add fuel to the racial fire...

In conjunction with Helter Skelter, Ronald also insisted that "Altamont" was another event manufactured by the CIA to further widen the racial divide in America. Altamont was a free Rolling Stones concert held in December 1969, only a few months after the Manson murders. Held at the Altamont racetrack in San Francisco, the Stones concert was basically a follow-up to the enormously legendary Woodstock concert that had also taken place a few months earlier. The concert was free, tons of hippies were coming and everybody expected it to go as smoothly as Woodstock went. But they were wrong. Things went sour when a white member of the Hells Angels (the Angels were hired as the only security guards at the event) stabbed and killed a black gentleman who was waving a gun in the crowd and that moment was widely viewed as the moment when the peaceful 60s ended. The seemingly racially-motivated event discredited the peace and love emanating from the hippy movement and it reestablished the racial divide that had been getting smaller and smaller, ever since JFK, Martin Luther King and other key figures gave momentum to the civil rights movement in the earlier part of the 60s.

Of course, Malone was only about in his early 30s when Ronald was telling him all this conspiracy-theory crap, so he thought the man to be eccentric, if not totally off his rocker. But over the years it kind of lingered in his mind, gestated a bit and seemed to make more and more sense. He could at least see Ronald’s rationale behind what he was saying. Whether it was the Rodney King trial or the George Zimmerman trial, the media always seemed to be needlessly building up non-racial (or minimally racial) events into something overly racial, for what reason he did not know, unless they were, indeed, assisting with an agenda to widen the racial divide and make blacks and whites hate each other. After all, if you really thought about it, all the attention that the media gave to stories like Rodney King and George Zimmerman, O.J. Simpson/LA. riots…all that relentless attention accomplished in the long run was make blacks hate whites and then when blacks acted like assholes towards whites, the whites would then hate blacks, and thus the racism swelled into something greater and greater, never alleviating the problem or addressing the problem or helping the problem but always simply making the problem worse.

So it always seemed to Malone that the media - and maybe even the government-types who were drawing attention to these questionably racial events (like Barack Obama in the case of the Zimmerman trial), making them seem overtly racial - had a hidden agenda up their sleeve. Maybe they DID really want to keep people divided and more powerless so they could do God-knows-what, have more control over them or make more money or take over more countries or God-knows-what. After all, you can’t conquer until you divide…

But such thoughts were not important right now. There was a madman on the loose in Los Angeles and Malone needed to do his job and find out who the “Blowtorcher” was and, God, the media really got lucky with that name. Usually the names they came up with for serial killers or rapists were rather silly and stupid, but he had to admit that “Blowtorcher” was pretty damn good, even though he hated to admit it and hated how the media sensationalized everything.

Malone took a seat at his cubicle and took a look around to make sure nobody was looking. He poured a swig - OK, maybe a shot’s-worth - of Jack Daniels into his black coffee. That’s what he really needed to wake him up on this not-so-fine morning. Caffeine wasn't enough; he needed the one-two-punch to the face, liquor-caffeine-boom.

Brrrrp...brrrrrrppp. His phone started chirping. He picked up line one.


It was Peg, the secretary for the detective’s department.

“Hey Willy, it’s Peg here.”

“Morning, Peg.”

“I have a…um…a Dr. Simons on line-two. He says he has information about the Blowtorcher. I dunno...he sounds pretty legitimate.”

“OK, send the call over.”

“All right, one sec.”

Malone dropped the phone back on the receiver and then, after a moment, there was another chirp. Line Two was flashing. He picked the phone back up and went to line two.

“This is Detective Malone speaking.”

“Yes, Mr. Malone...I think I know who you’re looking for.”

Needless to say, Malone’s attention had been captured.

“Who is this?”

“My name is Dr. Simons. I’m a psychiatrist at the Los Angeles County State Hospital. The sketch that was on the television...I have reason to believe that he’s a former patient of mine.”

“I see.” 

Malone took a long sip of his Jack N' Coffee. The burning from both the heat and the hard alcohol felt good as it washed its way down his throat - just what the doctor ordered.

“How sure are you?”

“I’m about seventy-five percent sure.”

“Seventy-five percent?”


"That's pretty confident."

"Yes, I'm pretty confident.”

“So you were his psychiatrist? Is this guy a real nut-job?”

“Well, no, yes…I don't know. See, that's why I'm only seventy-five percent confident. I never thought he'd do something so violent. He was troubled, though I never deemed him violent. But I must say...that sketch on the TV looked just like him."

"Tell me where he is."

"With all due respect, this man needs to be approached delicately. Perhaps it's best that I bring you to him."

"These matters are best left to the authorities, Dr. Simons. He could be dangerous and we can't be held liable for your safety."

"But he knows me. I can keep him calm."

"We'll handle it, doctor. We're trained to keep people calm. We know what we're doing."

"Yes, yes, I see."

Malone had enough beating around the bush and he wanted to get down to brass tacks. All he wanted to know was where the hell the potential Blowtorcher could be found so he could get the guy behind bars and he could go home and get some goddamn sleep.

"So, doc…where can we find this guy?"

Dr. Simons sighed. He took his line of work very seriously and when he failed to help a patient of his, he took it personally. In the case of Adonis, Dr. Simons had always thought that he could have done more, or at least could have done things differently. He had prescribed the young man a cocktail of antidepressants; first it was Prozac and then when that didn’t seem to work much, he prescribed Zoloft and eventually Lexapro. In hindsight, Simons realized that his prescribing of such drugs was probably done prematurely and he probably could have gone the slower route and done more counseling first. Deep down, he knew that the drugs only made the young man’s brain more toxic and propelled Adonis further and further down a psychological downward spiral. If it was true that Adonis was responsible for these brutal assaults occurring in Hollywood, Dr. Simons was going to feel horrible about it. He was going to feel that it was all his fault and that maybe, if he had done things a little differently with him, MAYBE Adonis would have turned out OK. 

But, alas, what needed to be done, needed to be done…

"You can find him at 3121 North Beachwood."