فصل 09

مجموعه: کارآگاه لنی ساموئل / کتاب: فیلم در لوس آنجلس / فصل 9

فصل 09

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CHAPTER NINE

Recoleta

‘We start shooting tomorrow at nine, at the Recoleta Cemetery,’ Rik said to me quietly, during dinner. ‘I’ve hired a very good Argentine security company to search everyone who’s working on location. I want you to stand with the security guys at the cemetery entrance, Len. You’ll soon be able to recognize everyone.’

So the next morning at half past seven, I was standing at the entrance to the Recoleta Cemetery on Calle Junin, opposite Plaza Alvear. The Recoleta district is one of the richest and smartest in Buenos Aires, and the richest people in B.A. are buried in the graves in the cemetery. We were going to shoot a scene in the cemetery, a scene in which Gail - as a private detective - had a meeting with an international criminal -Brent.

That morning, Calle Junin was closed to traffic. Trucks full of movie equipment, buses for the extras, mobile dressing-rooms for the stars, and catering trucks were all parked in the Calle Junin. Electric cables joined the lights and the other equipment to powerful generators outside the cemetery.

Standing next to me was a man called Jose Luis, from the Argentine security company. His men and women were searching everyone as they arrived. In my jacket pocket was Gail’s gun, in a mailing envelope. Fortunately, no one had decided to search me.

Gail and Brent Foster came from their mobile dressing-rooms, and stood at the cemetery entrance. Gail was looking worried. As soon as she had been searched, I gave her the mailing envelope.

‘Excuse me, Miss Lane,’ I said. ‘This package is for you.’

Gail took the package and smiled at me for a moment. Then she walked into the cemetery.

By nine o’clock, Carla was ready to begin shooting. Huge lights lit up the front of one of the biggest tombs in the cemetery. The tomb was built of white stone and it was the size of a small house. The front of the roof was decorated with life-size white statues.

Two cameras were going to shoot the scene. One camera was lifted up in the air on a crane. Another was on metal rails, laid on the ground. When she edited the scene back at the studios, Carla would edit together shots from the two cameras.

Carla sat in a big folding chair with DIRECTOR written on the back. When everybody was ready she shouted, ‘Cameras! Action!’

Brent Foster, wearing a white raincoat, walked along a path towards the camera on rails. Then he stopped by the front of the tomb. After a moment, Gail came running up to Brent.

‘Cut!’ Carla shouted. ‘Brent, I want you to look a bit more nervous. Gail, that was great - but I’d like you to look a little more excited, please.’

They repeated the scene seven times before Carla was satisfied. Then we all stopped for coffee. The make-up artists repaired Brent and Gail’s make-up. The cameras moved to new positions. Soon, another scene was being shot in front of the tomb. This time, it was a conversation between Brent and Gail.

I wasn’t really bored, but there wasn’t anything for me to do. Annie and Arabella were there to look after Gail, so I decided to take a walk around the cemetery. The tombs were magnificent. There were many styles of architecture, but all the tombs showed the wealth of the people buried in them.

I must have been walking around for half an hour before I decided it was time to go back and check on the shooting. I went towards the tomb where the movie crew was working. I was thinking about Gail, and the messages she had received when I saw someone dressed in black lying on the ground beside the back wall of the tomb. I ran quickly to see who it was. It was Annie! Her hands were tied behind her back, and there was tape across her eyes and mouth.

I looked around carefully. I felt that someone was watching me, but I couldn’t see anyone. I walked very quietly along the side of the tomb, towards the front. At that moment, something made me look up at the roof. Was someone hiding there? All I could see was the line of white stone statues - statues holding flowers, statues holding plants, statues holding books, statues holding huge stone balls. Then one of the statues with a stone ball moved. Was I dreaming? No! The statue took a step forward towards the front edge of the roof and then stood still again.

I ran around to the front of the tomb as fast as I could. Gail and Brent were still standing there, in the bright lights of the set. I looked up and saw the statue right above them. The heavy stone ball was now raised above its head. I dived forward, pushing Brent out of the way and throwing Gail to the ground.

‘Cut!’ shouted Carla.

Crash!

The heavy stone ball hit the ground just where the two stars had been standing. At that moment, Arabella jumped on top of me.

‘Stay away from Miss Lane!’ she shouted as she pulled me away from Gail.

‘What do you think you’re doing?’ Carla shouted at me.

‘There’s no time to explain,’ I replied, running around to the back of the tomb, closely followed by Arabella.

But we were too late. The statue had gone. Arabella untied Annie and took the tape off her face.

‘What happened?’ Arabella asked.

‘Someone jumped on me from behind,’ Annie muttered angrily. ‘I don’t know who it was.’

‘Was it him?’ Arabella asked, pointing at me.

‘I don’t know,’ Annie replied. ‘It could have been.’

We walked back to the set. I explained to Carla what had happened. Gail and Brent were OK. Gail was laughing nervously and Brent looked a bit shocked.

Then I found Rik and told him what had happened.

‘I knew trouble would find you, Len,’ Rik said with a smile. ‘I was right!’

‘No,’ I replied. ‘I was just lucky. I’m pleased that I was able to save Gail. But it was only luck. Why don’t you call the police?’

Rik looked away from me. ‘No, Len,’ he said quickly. ‘We don’t want to involve the police. We have to go on to Istanbul in three days’ time. We can’t change the schedule. We can’t wait for an investigation.’

‘OK, but there’s another thing,’ I said. ‘I’m meant to be advising Gail on how private detectives behave. I haven’t had a chance to speak to her about that yet.’

‘Making you her adviser was just a way to get you onto the set,’ Rik answered. ‘Still, I suppose you’re right. Gail and Brent are going to a tango show tonight with Carla and me. Why don’t you come along with us? You can talk to Gail there.’

‘OK,’ I said. ‘And one more thing. I need some transport of my own. This is a big city and I need to be mobile if I’m going to protect Gail.’

Rik thought for a moment. ‘We can hire a car for you,’ he said.

‘A motorbike would be better,’ I replied. ‘It will be much quicker in heavy traffic’

‘I’ll see what I can do,’ Rik said.

I spent the afternoon on the movie set. I watched Brent and Gail acting the same scene again and again. Movie schedules are made up of short periods of hard work, followed by hours of standing and waiting. But no one tried to kill Gail. No one tried to sell her any photographs. Gail didn’t need the gun. Arabella and Annie didn’t attack me. No statues moved. I was bored.

When shooting ended for the day, Gail came over to me.

‘I’ve got to talk to you,’ she said, looking around to see if anyone was listening.

‘Not here,’ I said. ‘There are too many people here. How about tonight at the tango show?’

She stared at me. ‘How did you know about that? Our visit to the tango show was meant to be a secret.’

I laughed. ‘I’m a detective!’ I said.

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