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L.A. Lit 2000

Work in Progress

April 16, 2000

Norma Desmond whispered in Asia's ear. They'll laugh at you, dear. "You're crazy," Asia spoke aloud. No more than you, Norma Desmond said, fading out.

Asia heard something real. A scraping sound.

She made straight for the hallway where she tripped the Westec armed-response alarm on the wall console. Another button doused all the lights inside and out. Then, just like the girl in "Terminator," she tiptoed to the padded water boiler in the kitchen and reached behind for the Remington double-barrel 12-gauge shotgun. She jacked it once, twice.

Silently she headed for the sliding door nearest the pool and stepped out. Automatically the front driveway of her long low Paul Williams-designed house exploded with white halogen, a brilliantly lit stage with a mountain backdrop like a Wagner opera.

Asia angled the shotgun so the heavy stock rested on her hip exactly as she had played the dykey cattle queen in her lover Emmett's smash hit, "Fast Lady In A Slow Town."

"What's that in your hand?" she shouted at the human thing frozen by the light on the wrong side of her spiked electrified wrought-iron gate.

The thing dropped to the ground.

"Is that a bomb?" she demanded.

He was black. Young. On his knees, hands raised.

"Let's hope not," he said, carefully nudging the object toward her.

It was a damn script.

Clancy Sigal is the author of the unpublished novel "Morocco Junction." His previous works include "Going Away" and "The Secret Defector."

*

DEAN KOONTZ

Bartholomew Lampion was blinded at the age of three, when surgeons reluctantly removed his eyes to save him from a fast-spreading cancer, but although eyeless, Barty regained his sight when he was thirteen.

This sudden ascent from a decade of darkness into the glory of light was not brought about by the hands of a holy healer. No celestial trumpets announced the restoration of his vision, just as none had announced his birth.

A roller coaster had something to do with his recovery, as did a seagull. And you can't discount the importance of Barty's profound desire to make his mother proud of him before her second death.

The first time she died was the day Barty was born.

January 6, 1965.

Dean Koontz is the author of "From the Corner of His Eye," to be published next year by Bantam Books. His previous works include "Fear Nothing," "Seize the Night" and "False Memory."

*

ELIZABETH FORSYTHE HAILEY

My dearest family--now and future:

This letter is undated because I want you to read it as if it were written yesterday. I pray, however, that I am writing it years, even decades, before my death. I will not tell you my age at the moment because, more and more, I find any chronological measure irrelevant, at least when it concerns human life. Suffice it to say, I am of sound mind and strong heart. My legs no longer take me everywhere I want to go, but my imagination happily still does.

This afternoon as I was looking over my will (something I make a habit of doing every year as soon as I have finished my income tax--perhaps to reassure myself that I still have a few dollars left to disperse among my heirs), it occurred to me that I have something more valuable than money to bequeath you, the members of my family, my proudest accomplishment. Indeed every individual fortunate enough to enjoy old age should feel an obligation to pass on to succeeding generations whatever hard lessons life has taught. I have chosen to do it in the form that comes most easily to me--a letter, a letter I am leaving sealed in my safe, to be opened on the day of my death.

Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey is the author of the unpublished "A Woman of Small Rebellions." Her previous works include "A Woman of Independent Means," "Joanna's Husband and David's Wife" and "Life Sentences."

*

GINA B. NAHAI

Listen.

I will tell you a story you will not easily forget--one you cannot turn away from, or deny, or leave behind in the folds of my hands and on the edges of my lips.

It is the story you have searched for all these years, the one you resolved to uncover no matter what the cost to yourself or others. You have traveled the world looking for an answer only I can reveal, and now you are back, armed with a long-ago fury that has cooled and hardened and turned into rigid morality, certain of my guilt, intent on proving it to the world.

You have come to destroy me--you who once saved me with your silence, who believed in me before I spoke in my own defense. You have come to destroy me and all I can do to absolve myself is to offer you my words as I once offered you my skin, to take your hand and guide it over my memories as if they were my flesh, as if I could seduce you with my passion.

Is Truth more urgent than Desire?

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