Written by Rudy Wurlitzer
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Slow Fade, 1984
The BMW pulled away from the curb into the flow of traffic heading for the San Diego Freeway, and for the first time Walker noticed the driver. She wore dark glasses over a thin sensual face and her black hair was pulled behind her into a bun. A professional, Walker thought. Like Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep, although Lauren Bacall hadn’t really been professional or was he thinking of another movie? It had been a long time since he had thought of a movie at all but whoever she was like, she was certainly calm and contained, not saying anything or even looking at him.
She drove past the freeway and turned north on La Brea. It was evening and there was a line of office buildings that hadn’t been there two years before reaching up into the smog and the dark shadows of the Hollywood Hills. He was almost sure they weren’t going toward his father’s house in Beverly Hills, and making a great effort that caused a slight stammer, he asked if his father had moved.
"He still lives on Mulholland," she said in a soft nonprofessional voice. "He wanted me to take you up to the Griffith Observatory before going home. He said that you might be spaced-out or disassociated or something and would need some time. He gave me a list of instructions for your reentry."
"I’m sure he did," Walker said.
The Griffith Observatory was where they had shot Rebel Without a Cause, a handle his father had often used on him and an association Walker was sure his father had been aware of when he dictated his list of reentry instructions. He became suddenly panicked when he couldn’t remember James Dean’s companion in the film.
"Do you remember who the kid was in Rebel Without a Cause with James Dean? He died at the end."
"Sal Mineo. They called him Plato. He was killed a while ago. In real life, that is. Some kind of fag drug scene."
© 1984 Rudy Wurlitzer; New York: Alfred A. Knopf; 2011, Chicago: Drag City