Search Results for: by Stephen Wolcott

Blast from the Past by Stephen R. Wolcott

We all stared in shock at this guy under the table, shaking, freaked out.

“It’s okay,” Janet said, trying to calm him down.  Most of us were into our fifth or six beer at this festive barbecue on a Silver Lake hilltop home when, hearing the explosive sounds nearby, the most macho dude of the bunch suddenly dove for cover, on instinct, reliving another time.

“They’re just fireworks from Dodger Stadium, across the canyon. They do that after the game.”  He started whimpering, full of shame, Janet holding him.

She turned to me, mouthing the words, “He was in ‘Nam.”

© Copyright 2016 Stephen R. Wolcott. All rights reserved.
• • • • •
Stephen R. Wolcott is an award-winning writer producer, whose credits include 5 Star Trek Specials, hundreds of DVD/Blu-Ray documentaries, and a few bits of fiction on this site.

#79 Afterthought by Stephen R. Wolcott

When they saw the young, dark-haired man frantically waving his hands from what looked like a small makeshift raft, Mr. and Mrs. Beaumont showed amusement rather than alarm. “Oh, it’s one of those boat people, I think,” said Georgina Beaumont. “How exciting!” Douglas Beaumont concurred, peering intently from the aft deck of the Grand Excelsior ocean liner. Only a handful of passengers occupied this deck, and most of them were busy huddled around the bar. No one else had been staring out to sea. “Ah, yes, I presume the brave soul hopes to paddle to our shores,” he said. “Guess he didn’t get the memo. Poor guy needn’t go to so much trouble.”

In celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary, the Beaumonts had been one of the first to sign up for an exclusive, luxury cruise to Cuba. This, following the U.S. government’s renewed diplomatic ties with the country. What a thrill to embark on such a momentous voyage, they thought. A somewhat safe gamble for the Beaumonts, who came from an affluent Pasadena lineage, shielded from much of society’s ills, and generally accustomed to the finer things in life. Their knowledge of the island’s history was hazy at best. “I can’t wait to light up one those great cigars,” said Douglas. “I believe Gloria Estefan has roots there,” added Georgina. And they were familiar with those ‘boat people’, who risked their lives to escape Castro’s oppressive dictatorship and seek freedom in America.

The figure in the raft drifted off, and so did the Beaumont’s attention, due to raucous shouts at the bar. “A toast! A toast! To ending the embargo!” someone shouted. The tipsy travelers hoisted drinks in the air and roared with approval.

Strolling casually towards the front of the huge liner, they basked in the comfortable ease that a ship like this has offered wealthy passengers for decades. They enjoyed the thrill that comes from a majestic, commanding rush as steel hulls churn through ocean torrents. The misty sweep of salty raw sea air tickled their noses and tingled their flesh. All within safe perimeters. It seemed to match their stature somehow, as if the Beaumonts represented an elite sector of society who samples the real world at a comfortable distance, protected by unseen forces. They drew close to each other, momentarily vulnerable to unbridled and unaccustomed sensuality.

When they reached the large pool area, with his its towering slide, a commotion interrupted the Beaumont’s alluring trance.

“The last time I saw him? I’m not sure,” said a panic-stricken woman to a deck hand. A crowd hovered around her. “All he said was ‘I’m going to grab an inner tube and go wild,” she said. “He’s bit of a daredevil, you see.” The deck hand nodded nervously.

“But he’s not here and I’ve looked everywhere. I mean everywhere!”

“Can you describe him for us,” said the deck hand. “Uh, well, he’s about 5 foot 8 inches, 160 pounds, black hair.”

Georgina faltered a bit, forcing Douglas to grab her elbow. Images of a clock, with hands moving fast, like in an old black and white movie, raced through both their heads.

© Copyright 2015 Stephen R. Wolcott. All rights reserved.

wocottStephen R. Wolcott is an award-winning writer/producer with over 100 television, behind-the-scenes “making of’ and documentary projects to his credit. In addition, he’s interviewed a wide range of celebrities and notable figures, including William Shatner, Richard Gere, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Gary Sinise, Robert Wagner, JPL/NASA scientists, Whoopi Goldberg, and almost every cast member from the Star Trek films and television series. In print, his work as appeared in Emmy Magazine, Now Playing and The Pasadena Weekly. He also enjoys traveling cerebrally to his former Craftsman home in Pasadena’s Bungalow Heaven.

#75 The Leave Behind by Stephen R. Wolcott

Before Lewis could speak, the executive lifted a finger and made that ‘shush’ gesture. “Audiences love the edgy stuff,” the executive yelled into his Bluetooth headset. “Taste has nothing to do with it. His last two films killed.”


Lewis looked around the office, decked with stark white and grey furnishings, except for some colorful posters of recent, top-grossing films. The one sheets might have been from a parallel universe, Lewis thought. A world he didn’t know, and certainly didn’t care for.

“Alright, we’ll do the bestiality bit off screen and push for a hard PG-13,” the executive shouted. “Then release the unrated version in Blu-Ray.” Continue Reading

#64 Mailer Daemon by Stephen R. Wolcott

You recently tried to email an anonymous address. After repeated attempts, the message failed. Please check the…

Webster scowled at his MacBook screen and the message from “anonymous” at “mailer daemon.” The fury in him rising to a level not felt since his mother mistakenly threw away his mint condition Yugioh trading cards ten years ago.

Now 20 and holed up in a cheap, grungy studio apartment behind the 99¢ Only Store, Webster’s obsessions often ostracized him from any potential social activity. His hobbies ranged from bottle caps to Happy Meal collectibles to hand-painted Warhammer figurines. He spent hours at Comic Odyssey flicking through racks of comic books and vinyl (soundtracks only).

Continue Reading

#44 Peep Me Out by Stephen R. Wolcott

“Hmm, the dog walker’s havin’ fits with Buster again,” Jesse said, peering intently out the dining room window that faced the street.“Watch. He’ll break free. See!”

A compact, big-boned blonde in a pink jumpsuit wrestled with a tangled mass of rope hooked to three Rottweilers. A fourth frothy beast veered off from the pack, untethered.

“And Becky will dive on him as if she were ropin’ a steer,” Jesse continued, bemused. Sure enough, the woman skillfully nabbed her elusive prey.
“How do you know her name?” I asked.

Jesse, riveted to the neighborhood scene, didn’t hear me or didn’t want to answer. I shifted in my chair uncomfortably, sitting across from him, my wife Lynda, and her 95-year old grandmother, who needed constant supervision as of late. Various family members had agreed to take turns watching this feisty matriarch, who vowed to live at the Pasadena ranch home built by her late husband some 60 years ago. This week, her son Jesse served as nursemaid, paying a rare visit from Arkansas. We made the trek from Torrance to cook dinner for them. Lynda never talked much about her uncle, except that he was a Vietnam Vet and hunted anything that moved, including squirrel. I had no idea what he did for a living.

“5:15. That hot Asian masseuse gonna pull up right…about…now,” Jesse announced, snapping his fingers. Sure enough, a silver Celica stopped just shy of the house with an attractive black-haired woman behind the wheel.
“Just come from Drummond’s house,” Jesse said, smirking. “He calls her a ‘physical therapist.’ Uh-huh.”

“Pete Drummond. On Washington near the library,” Iris muttered, her memory as shaky as the finger pointing toward a house on the corner. “Fell off the…the…”

“The roof. I remember that,” Lynda chimed in. “Gosh, how long ago was that? Thirty years? But he didn’t seem so bad off at the time. You’d think by now…”

Jesse hushed us.

“Now I figure she done stop to pull herself together,” he assessed. “Crosses herself, takes a deep swig off a plain wrapped container. Pounds the dashboard. Big deep breath, then takes off.”

As the Celica sped away, I shifted uncomfortably again, trying to figure out what was more odd: the mysterious driver or Jesse’s acute observations. At 60-something Jesse looked rugged and fit. Clean-shaven. Short dark hair with only a hint of gray. Oozing with Southern hospitality. Had all his teeth. Maybe if I knew more about his background…

Iris suddenly coughed violently. Lynda instinctively jumped to her side.

“You okay, Grandma?” she said with alarm.

She coughed again, her frail frame ready to break apart like brittle candy.

“I’ll get some water,” I said, bolting for the kitchen.

“She’ll be fine,” said Jesse calmly. “Happens a couple times a day.”

When I returned, Iris was sipping a juicebox. I must have missed that.

“Got it covered, but thanks anyway, Brad,” Jesse said.

“Oh,” was all I could muster, staring dumbly as he dabbed Iris’s mouth with a napkin. She sniffed the air suspiciously.

“What’s that smell?”

“I brought your favorite, Grandma,” Lynda said, leaning into her. “Roast turkey and dumplings.”

“Oh, aren’t you the sweetest,” Iris said.

“Much better than what Josie’s been carting home,” Jesse said, pointing to the house directly across the street.

“Josie?” I asked.

“Take-out, every night I been here,” Jesse explained. “Mostly Church’s fried chicken. And guessing by her slim figure, she don’t eat it. Just her husband, who shuffles in come ten, eleven from working at Target. Pulling in the driveway now, check it out.”

I stared at Lynda, whose look of concern was now matching my own. What’s with this guy? His Peeping Tom antics were starting to creep me out.

“Now she’ll get out of the car, but won’t go in the house,” he continued. “Not until she goes to the truck, grabs the sunshade for the dash. Never mind that it’s overcast.”

Lynda tried to change the subject. “Hey, Jesse, have you heard from your wife since you been here?” she asked, but he ignored her. He relished playing puppeteer to all the action in the neighborhood.

“Now here’s the sad part,” Jesse said. “Frank Beecham next door sees Josie and walks over to say hello. But she’ll completely ignore him and make a beeline for the house. Some bad blood there.”

We all were caught up in this voyeuristic scene. I couldn’t help feeling like James Stewart in Rear Window. Jesse continued making keen observations about everything in view—from the hair growing out 16-year old Billy’s birthmark to the psychological analysis of Ginger, a chain-smoking single mom with implants.

“She took a second on the house to help pay for the pair of ‘em,” he said, matter-of-factly.

I finally had to chime in.

“Excuse me for asking, Jesse,” I said. “But I’m curious why you know so much about…” I faltered, but Lynda quickly jumped in.

“Um, Jesse, I think Brad’s just wondering how you know so much about the neighbors,” she said gingerly. “After being here only a few days.”

Jesse chuckled. “Well, I guess it comes with the territory.”

I didn’t catch his drift.

“Since Mom’s asleep most of the day,” he said. “I got plenty of time to canvas the area, get a good read on things.”

Please tell me this guy isn’t a perv. Lynda, however, came to a realization.

“Are you saying, that it’s kind of like instinct?” she asked. “Based on what you used to do, day in, day out?”

“Right,” Jesse said matter of factly. “The training never leaves you. And a sheriff never ever really retires.”

I slumped back in my chair, befuddled.

“Well, not much action for a couple of hours,” Jesse whispered, leaning into me. “Until that cross-dresser rolls in. Who’s hungry?”

© Copyright 2010 Stephen R. Wolcott. All rights reserved.

Stephen R. Wolcott is an award-winning writer/producer with over 100 television, behind-the-scenes “making of’ and documentary projects to his credit. In addition, he’s interviewed a wide range of celebrities and notable figures, including William Shatner, Richard Gere, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Gary Sinise, Robert Wagner, JPL/NASA scientists, Whoopi Goldberg, and almost every cast member from the Star Trek films and television series. In print, his work as appeared in Emmy Magazine, Now Playing and The Pasadena Weekly. He also enjoys traveling cerebrally to of his former Craftsman home in Pasadena’s Bungalow Heaven.

#22 Anybody Home? by Stephen R. Wolcott

Of the 32 homes on our block in Bungalow Heaven, only one reeked of mystery. 914 Chestnut. I swear my 10-month old son, Jack, sensed something odd about the place, too, whenever we’d trot past in the jogger stroller. “Dat!” he shouted on cue when I’d slow down to stare at it. Everything appeared relatively normal. The dark brown single story structure with forest green trim was in need of a new paint job and the faded lawn could use a gardener. But the shades were always drawn and I never saw a soul go in or out.

Then, one muggy August morning, after driving home from a trip to Crown City Hardware with Jack, I saw a Pasadena police car in front of 914 and a half dozen neighbors milling about, gossiping. I had to pull over.

Jack squirmed excitedly in my arms as we walked up to our nosey neighbors.

“I heard some bums were living inside and somebody tipped the police,” Beth Spritzer said.

“I bet someone’s dead in there,” Hank Buford said dryly.

“Know what happened?” I asked.” They all shook their heads ‘no’.

“They letting anyone inside?” I asked. Another ‘no’ consensus.

“Dat!” Jack blurted out, spying a cop jotting down notes.

“Yes, that’s Mr. Policeman,” I acknowledged, moving towards him. “Let’s say ‘hi’.”

“Excuse me,” I asked gingerly, “may I ask what’s going on?”

“Private matter,” the cop said, without looking up from his clipboard.

“Sorry,” I said. “It’s just that, as head of our street’s Neighborhood Watch committee, I was concerned.”

“Vandals broke a window,” he said matter-of-factly, then looked up at me.

“Probably a kid, hey—do I know you?” His gruff exterior seemed familiar. I stared at his badge. Officer Roger Clark.

“Sure do,” I said. “You came to my house to speak about crime prevention.”

“That’s it, you’re the writer,” Clark said, his mood mellowing.

“Right,” I said. “I interviewed you that night for a piece in the Pasadena Weekly. Got great feedback thanks to you.”

“Oh, well, good,” Clark said.

“You certainly make us feel safe around here,” I said. “Isn’t that right, Jack?”

“Dat!” Jack spat out emphatically.

“Well, needn’t worry about this place,” Clark said. “Except…” He trailed off staring back at the house, than back at me and back to the house again. I caught a glimpse of a shadow moving behind the shades.

“Is that the owner?” I asked, pointing to the window.

The cop hesitated before answering. “Look,” he said, “I’m not supposed to do this, but—” He stopped, then smiled at me. “What the heck. You wouldn’t believe it even if I told you.” Clark motioned me to come with him into the house.

“Believe what?” I asked. Walking in the front door, the first thing to hit me was the dust. Must have been an inch-thick. I fought back a sneeze, staring through a thick haze at the living room and dining area.

“The original owners lived here until 1941,” Clark said. I noticed Mission-style furniture, built-in cabinets, lamps and pottery with floral designs. The shadow figure I’d seen through the window—a tall, pale, balding guy in his 50’s—was inspecting a Batchelder fireplace.

“He’ll fill you in,” Clark said. “Just don’t touch anything.”

“Dat!” Jack shouted, and the man turned, startled.

“Uh, hi, I’m Scott and this is Jack,” I said holding my hand out. The man shook it, warily.

“Ben Whitman,” he said.

“He’s okay,” Clark said. “Just curious about the house.”

“Looks like time stopped still around here,” I said with a slight chuckle.

“Well, that ain’t far from the truth,” Ben said. “The original owners, Rose and Rachel Blake, came here in 1912. Then in 1941, right after Pearl Harbor, they panicked. In fact, a lot of people in the area panicked. Thought that the Japanese would attack the mainland.”

I never knew that.

“So the Blakes packed in a hurry and left,” Ben continued. “Never came back.”

“You’re kidding,” I said.

“Nope,” Ben said. “Gone. Poof. Been this way ever since.”It took a moment for this to sink in. An odd feeling gnawing at my gut. Like I’d stepped through a time portal.

“You’re telling me no one’s lived here since 1941?” I asked. “No one’s been in this house at all? What about family?”

“All their kin lived in Nova Scotia and didn’t want to come out,” Ben explained. “The place was paid for, too, so no bills, mail, no upkeep. Only instructions Rose left were to tend the outside, so arrangements were made. Things got lost in the shuffle, I suppose.”

I walked through this bizarre museum piece awe-struck. Everything exactly as it was for more than fifty years: a chestnut vanity dresser with half-filled perfume bottles, the faded white crochet-patterned bedspreads, an Arts and Crafts vase of dead flowers with a small hand-written note next to it: “Please change water.” I realized there more notes scattered around the house (to whom?), but the writing was illegible. A few simple print dresses hung in the closet. A medicine cabinet contained a few antique dark blue pill bottles, like you’d find at swap meets.

Jack was getting fidgety, so we decided to end our tour.

“Where do you fit in?” I asked Ben.

“My grandfather was the original caretaker,” he said. “I tend to it now.”

“And no one’s ever wanted to sell it after all these years?” I said.

“Don’t know, “ Ben said. “All I get is a small check in the mail once a month from the Blake estate in Canada. Kind of on auto pilot.”

I took in one more view around this perfectly preserved artifact. My life experience made it difficult to understand the emotions the Blakes must have felt in ’41 when they rushed out, leaving everything behind. Never coming back.

“Dat!” Jack said.

“That’s right, Jack,” I acknowledged. “I want to know more, too.”

© Copyright 2009 Stephen R. Wolcott. All rights reserved.

Stephen R. Wolcott is a writer/producer specializing in behind-the-scenes making-of documentaries on the film industry (view samples of his work on his website). His passion for interviewing and love of movies extends to a blog, The Interview Maestro. He also writes magazine articles, and can occasionally be found reading original stories at spoken words events. The story above was inspired by an actual incident Steve encountered working next to an abandoned Craftsman house. And yes, people in L.A. panicked. (See related story.)