The Simple Art Of Graverobbing
Supernatural/Kiss Kiss Bang Bang crossover. I was trying to think of things that would really confuse Sam and Dean, and two things guaranteed to do that would be Harry Lockhart and Gay Perry. Also, Dean has a canon fetish for girls in liquor ads, and he would recognize Harmony in an instant. Told from Harry’s perspective, like the movie was, and because he’s simultaneously the best and worst narrator in history. Title paraphrased from a Raymond Chandler essay.
R for language, and not entirely gen, because of the characters involved.
January 22nd, 2009
See, it’s usually never me that questions anything we do; it’s always Perry, or sometimes even Harmony. It’s always what the fuck is wrong with you, Harry, or what were you thinking, or hey who said you could touch the guns, dumbass?. Whatever. My point is, I rarely get to say what cases we take, but when I do, they’re sane. They’re about stakeouts or following somebody and they’re boring. I mean, in comparison to the thing last Christmas. Shit. Everything’s boring, compared to that, no matter who you ask, and it all happened right after Perry fuckin’ makes a point about how boring his job is. Jesus. So I should probably question stuff more often but there’s no point since I usually get slapped in the back of the head. Except, you know, now, when he’s telling me some shit about hanging out in cemeteries. Hard to follow people around cemeteries since they’re dead.
This all really happened, by the way. I could make up better. I promise.
“The sheriff in West Hollywood says someone keeps desecrating graves,” Perry said in a tone that suggested that I’m an idiot and should just shut the fuck up. “He doesn’t have the manpower to keep an eye out, and it involves a few passingly famous people. Nice boring legitimate work for us, pays well, gives me a chance to call in a favor with said sheriff somewhere down the line if I need it. And with you around, I will need it.”
He put a lot of emphasis on manpower, but, he’s Gay Perry. Catch up, here, people.
“Where’s the sheriff of West Hollywood get our names in the first place? And don’t they have a neighborhood watch? That’s what neighborhood watches are for.”
I have every right to ask these questions. If we’re getting that famous, then, I should know about it.
“No one in the neighborhood cares if stiffs are being dug up and set on fire,” Perry said with his back still turned. “If it’s not their own dearly departed, then it may as well not be happening.”
He turned to me and looked me up and down like he usually did, because the guy doesn’t just look at me, he’s gotta check to see what I’m fucking up even if I’m standing still. You’d be surprised what I can fuck up just standing around. I am. What’s that line, that thing about believing six impossible things before breakfast? Replace ‘believe impossible things’ with ‘fuck things up’ and that’s me. Harry Lockhart. Narrator extraordinaire, semi-dating a hot actress, former thief, former New Yorker, LAPI. Well, almost. Still gotta let those priors kind of drop off a little before I can get licensed. Maybe.
I add lots of shit in while I’m talking…try and deal.
Anyway, Perry looks me up and down a lot, like I was saying. He didn’t say anything this once, about what I was wearing or how I was standing, so I took it as a small personal victory.
Then he‘s gotta drop something on me. “You’re not afraid to hang around a cemetery after dark, are you, Frodo?”
See, he’s started calling me that every now and then because he thinks it’s clever. Get it? Frodo? Nine fingers? Fucking hilarious. I’m glad it was a door that did it and that it didn’t get bit off, like Frodo’s did, but still. Didn’t feel any better. Me and Harmony agreed that we’re not going to tell people the truth when they ask, because she still feels a little guilty (and she should) and I kind of think it’s a stupid way to lose a finger. Problem is, we can’t decide on the story, like did it get shot off, or what?
Better a finger than some other things, right?
“I’m not afraid,” I tell him, because for whatever reason, I have to. Anybody who hangs from a coffin off the edge of an overpass is not afraid of much. Watch the movie, I’m not getting into it again. “I just don’t get why we care about a little grave robbing.”
“So you’re trying to tell me you don’t care,” Perry said with one of those little smirks he gets, like he knows something I don’t. “You save moths out of pools, and girls you don’t even know from being groped by assholes, and purposely chase and kill anybody who shoots me, rather than run away, but you’re completely beyond caring, aren’t you.”
It started to sound suspiciously like he was sort of talking me up, so I knew there was more to it. I kind of edged away out of arm’s length. Perry doesn’t go being nice to anybody unless he really likes someone or needs something from them, and neither of those things applies to me anytime soon.
“Get your ass in the car,” Perry said. So I did.
“First one was Julie London, in Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills, on January 17th. The not-so-safely vaulted remains of one Ms. London - who died in 2000 - were dug up in such a way as to suggest that whoever did it had done it many times before, and the remains were left in place but set on fire. Here’s the thing: it’s hard to completely burn a corpse.”
Perry wasn’t really catching me up on things. He was just thinking aloud. There are about a million cemeteries named Forest Lawn or Sunset Hills or Hillside or whatever, because someone thinks that sounds restful, I guess.
“Who’s Julie London?”
“Shut up until I’m done,” Perry said. I hear that a lot. “Do you know the temperatures required to actually cause calcination of the human skeleton?”
“800 Celsius or higher.”
Okay, so, I read a lot. Stuff is interesting. I’m not as dumb as everybody thinks I am. Perry looked at me for a moment like I might have surprised him, so it was worth it.
“Wow,” Perry said. “That was a rhetorical question, but wow. Burn a lot of corpses in your time, Harry?”
I just shrugged a little instead of saying anything. I was sort of basking in knowing something and getting Perry to lose his train of thought for a moment.
“So whoever’s doing this isn’t doing it for fun,” Perry continued. “They know what they’re doing, and they’ve had a lot of practice. Could be revenge on someone still living, could be a warning, could be some idiots worshiping Satan. Who cares? We have to figure out where they’ll be next.”
“You said ‘the first one’,” I said. “Who else has there been?”
“You actually heard anything I just said?” Perry said. “I’m amazed. Usually you’re just like that one Far Side cartoon where the guy is talking to his dog, and all the dog hears is ‘blah blah, Ginger, blah blah blah, Ginger.’”
Sometimes Perry reaches a little far for his insults, but it’s not like I’m going to call him on it. You’ve seen how he acts. If I just wait him out a little he’ll give up and actually tell me stuff.
“The next was Helen Forrest, at Mount Sinai, just down the road from the first cemetery, on the 18th,” Perry said. “Another singer, not that damn far from the first. Died in 1999. So now it’s not random, there’s a pattern, and now we can take a guess at where the next one will be.”
I kind of like it when Perry says ‘we’ for any reason, but I was too pissed to care about it right then.
“So it’s not all one cemetery?” I said. “You’re just guessing? We’re gonna sit in some random cemetery and hope these assholes show up?”
“You have a better idea?” Perry said. He said it sort of ‘I’m all-knowing and this is how detective work is, moron’ and it’s not like I would have passed the whole thing up and stayed back or anything, but a guy likes to know he’s going to be freezing his ass off in some graveyard for probably no reason all night, and have a say, you know? Fuck.
“What’re we gonna do with them, when they show up?” I said.
“Let them get started, then point our guns at them and call the cops, idiot,” Perry said.
“What if they’re not people?”
I say shit sometimes before I can pass it though the filter it should go through, if I have one. I don’t know. I’ve seen a lot of horror movies. A lot. All of them. And after some of the stuff I’ve seen in real life, there just might be a possibility of things out there we don’t understand. I’m open minded like that. I’m just saying.
There was a long pause, and then Perry said “I don’t happen to have a crucifix on me. Do you?”
He didn’t even sound sarcastic, which meant it was too ridiculous for him to bother.
“Maybe we can find you some Popsicle sticks, and you can make one,” Perry added.
“It’ll just drive you off, and I don’t wanna get stuck with this one all alone,” I said. It was kind of a lame comeback, but he is sort of hellspawn, in a way. And not because he’s gay. I don’t care about that shit. You can’t care about that and hang out with Perry, because he is really really gay. It says Sentron on the business cards, but underneath, it really does also say Gay Perry.
“Bitchy,” Perry said.
He calls me a bitch every now and then, too. Because guys love it when you call them a bitch.
That was sarcasm, by the way. It doesn’t come through as well when you can’t hear me. And using emotions is kind of weird, in a story. I guess.
I kind of suspect that Dabney is in on this, somewhere, because even though the famous people had been dead a long time, they were still famous, and likely related to or somehow connected to famous people who were still living. Or, he was going to develop a script out of the idea of grave robbers being thwarted. Depending on whether the grave robbers were really serial killers, or really hot.
Yeah, I said ‘thwarted’. That’s a word. A word that legitimately comes up in my current profession.
Okay, like the movie, it’s taking a fucking long time to get to the action. Sorry.
We ended up waiting across from Holy Cross cemetery in Culver City - where there seemed to be a couple of old-time singers, like the first two ’victims’ - for a little while until it got dark, then hid behind one of the mausoleums because that particular part of the cemetery had a couple of old-time singers in it. That’s what Perry said, anyway. It was cold and dark and not really all that spooky, or not as spooky as you’d think it would be, to hide out in a cemetery after dark. There were no moaning winds or cracking branches or the sounds of crypts being slid open. No hands came up from below and grabbed our ankles. Probably because we were hanging out behind a mausoleum, and the dead people were inside there, and above ground. Probably also because that shit doesn’t actually happen in the real world. Not even in California.
Maybe in New Orleans, with all the voodoo. Or Wisconsin. I hear there are more ghost stories per capita in Wisconsin than anywhere else in the US. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s the cheese. I don’t get that, either.
Anyway, it got boring fast. I couldn’t talk because we were outside instead of being in the car, because waiting in the car across from the cemetery meant we wouldn’t see anything unless the grave robbers came by car, which would be dumb of them since the front gates were closed to cars anyway, and they’d be seen from the road if they just parked right out there, and we couldn’t park inside the cemetery and wait on one of the paths because we’d really be obvious then. Perry hates being obvious about anything except about being gay.
He didn’t explain any of that to me; I figured it out.
I sat and thought about how hard it is to dig someone up, too much work, so you had to really want to do it for some reason. Any reason. Necrophilia, robbery, to piss someone off, fetish, worship of some really creepy deity. No one does that for a hobby. So, singers? Long out of the spotlight, older, once-famous singers? What was that all about? Fetish. Had to be a fetish.
Oh, and necrophilia. That’s so messed up. Even I can get laid, when I want, so, resorting to cold, dry, very dead people makes me kind of judgmental. What the hell is wrong with you, when you like the idea of -
“Shut up,” Perry whispered. “I can hear you thinking stupid thoughts.”
Crap, I can’t even get away with thinking loud.
“So you did some research,” I whispered to Perry finally. I can only go so long without talking, I mean, it’s unreasonable to expect otherwise. Plus, he talked first, setting a standard, so it‘s not my fault. “Not every cemetery around LA has a famous old-time singer in it. A lot might, but there’s not that many to begin with.”
“Shut up,” Perry said.
Not like I expected much more. But I’d had to ask.
Am I switching tenses? I don’t give a fuck, and I’m not going to fix them. Perry bitches at me about that, and if you don’t like it, fuck off, seriously. It’s about the story.
I might get a little uptight about that stuff, sometimes. Sorry. And I mean sorry about getting uptight, not for anything I said. Whatever.
Okay, well, we were there for a long time before anything happened. There weren’t any security guards patrolling, and you’d think there would have been after two other nearby cemeteries had been messed with, but it hadn’t hit the news, so I guess it wasn’t that big of a deal. They weren’t really big stars or recently dead. Then I thought about how it’s bad enough with the recently dead, but these broads had been dead a long time, so if it did turn out to be necrophilia, I really didn’t want to wait to catch anybody in the act.
We didn’t hear a car, but we were pretty far back in the cemetery, and we did hear two guys walking just before I saw them. I smacked Perry and he leaned around his side of the mausoleum. Two guys, dressed all dark for getting up to weird shit, actually had shovels over their shoulders. They both had flashlights, too, and were going grave to grave along the rows nearby.
The taller one stopped in front of one grave three rows up, and the other one came over, and then they put their shovels down and took their jackets off. I figured that was a good time to check my gun.
I barely even heard the click it made, so how the hell either of the grave robbers heard it, I’ll never know. I said they might not even be people, remember? They froze and looked toward us, and Perry shoved me down a lot harder than he really had to, and I whacked my head on the side of the mausoleum. People say ‘ow’ when that kind of shit happens, anybody would, and when I looked up again, the guys were gone. Not a lot of places to hide, because most of the headstones were level with the ground and the monuments weren’t really close together. That was some kind of Batman shit. Perry had his gun out and had crouched down, and I was sitting there rubbing my head when I got grabbed.
I didn’t get a gun pointed to my head or anything, which was new, because that’s what usually happens when I get grabbed. I won’t say it happens all the time, but maybe more than it should since I’ve been working for Perry. Often enough that I finally learned how to fight a little, and figured out how to make shit difficult for people. So I kind of hooked one leg back around one of the taller guy’s legs - leverage, right, that’s how it works - and then grabbed his shirt in one hand and the other guy’s shirt in the other and dropped like I was dead weight. Nobody fell, at first, but they both went way off balance into each other and the taller guy was trying to hold me up for a second before the whole thing went down like a house of cards.
They fucking fell on me, of course. I didn’t so much plan for that. Then I know there were guns out because Perry started shouting and one of them was shouting back and somebody flipped me over and there was a fist headed for my face.
“You hit him, I’ll ventilate your head,” Perry said. He can be kind of a scary bastard when he wants to. He threatens people all the time, me included, but you can tell when he means it.
The fist stayed in midair and I could see I was right, there were guns being pointed all over, but nobody moved for a moment.
The taller one said, “Who the hell are you?”
I said, “What’re you digging people up for?”
The guy sitting on me and about to hit me dropped his hands and used them to shove himself off me, the bastard, and he sounded like he was laughing. “Gotta be kidding me. It’s a neighborhood watch.”
Kind of insulting since I’d just made him fall over.
“You wish,” Perry said. “Guns down, wiseass.”
“You first,” the taller one said. He didn’t sound worried. Nobody did. That meant I was gonna get to lie there on the ground while some big pissing contest went on for awhile.
“You’re just people, right?” I said. “You’re not digging anybody up to eat them after you roast them?”
The guy who’d been sitting on me sounded outraged, so that was a good sign.
“And you’re not fucking them either, right?” I had to know. “Because then you have to roast them to kill the DNA you left behind.”
Perry made one of those noises he makes when he‘s beyond being able to deal with anything. “Shut up, Harry!”
“Jesus, dude, what the fuck,” Sits On Me said. “Gross.”
“Definitely not cops or security,” the taller one said. He sounded like maybe he was going to laugh.
“I’m thinking we should be protecting this place from you,” Sits On Me said.
“Everybody shut the fuck up,” Perry said. “Guns down, sit down on the ground, and be glad the cops are coming to get you.”
“No way,” Sits On Me said. “You toss the gun and your phone over here, and when we’re done, you try and find a head shrinker who can cure your friend of his messed up kinks.”
Not fair that I was the one getting accused of shit. I sat up. “I’m not the one digging them up, you sick fuck!”
“We got work to do and we don’t have all night,” Sits On Me said, sounding all pissed, pointing his gun at me. “Face down, Harry, hands on your head.”
“I’m not dead yet, so I guess you’re not gonna fuck me, right?” I said.
Everybody but me made a kind of exasperated sound. One of the necrophiliacs said something that sounded like ‘Crisco’ which was even scarier. Was that what they were greasing corpses up with?
“Don’t move, Harry,” Perry said. “You dipshits get out of here, quit digging people up around LA, and I don’t give a fuck what you do after that.”
“We’re not leaving,” the taller one said. “And since you obviously have zero authority and there are no cops already running in to save you, you’re gonna do what we say.” Sits On Me leaned in and dragged me to my feet, and there was finally a gun to my head.
That’s how we ended up tied up on the grass and watching the weirdoes dig up someone named Helen O’Connell. She had died in 1993.
“So what’s with the singers?” Perry said. “This is number three, right? They don’t have anything else in common except that they had a vinyl-only option for recording, if they recorded at all.”
“You wouldn’t get it,” Sits On Me said. “So shut your cakehole.”
“So you’re gonna dig this woman up, and then toss us in when you burn her, right?” I said. I was just trying to get things straight. I’m not cool with surprises, most of the time. I get a lot of bad surprises.
Sits On Me straightened and leaned on his shovel. They were already a couple of feet down. “Holy crap,” he said. “What is wrong with you guys? No one‘s killing anybody. Just shut up. Take a nap or something.”
“How do you get into this type of thing, anyway?” I said. “A dare? Listening to Ozzy? Bad ‘shrooms?”
“He does shut up sometimes, right?” the taller one said.
“No,” Perry said. “It’s our version of waterboarding. Give up now, or the torture continues.”
So we’re sitting there tied up, getting colder by the minute, in the damp fucking grass in January in a cemetery, and everyone’s bagging on me. Another fabulous day.
I typed fabulous right there, didn’t I. That’s kind of gay. You hang around with Perry for a year or so, you start picking things up by accident.
“Well, fuck you all very much,” I said.
There was more digging, and then the sound of metal on cement, really annoying, and then Sits On Me said “Need the sledge, Sam. We’re there.”
“Sam?” I said. “What kind of serial-killing corpse-fucker goes by a name like Sam?”
“That thing I said about not killing anyone is gonna expire,” Sits On Me said, all growly. Damn, touched a nerve.
“So, how long have you two been together?” Perry said.
“They can’t even see us, and they think we’re gay,” Sits On Me said, sounding genuinely pissed. “That’s getting old. We’re brothers, you douchebag, not that it‘s any of your business.”
“That’s even sicker,” I said. “You’re fucking your brother?”
Sam snorted. I know he did.
“You shitheads are worse than the damn Ghost Facers,” Sits On Me said. He stepped back while Sam started whaling away on the cement vault with the sledgehammer. Perry hmmed a little like maybe he approved of the display, and I tried very hard not to think about that.
Cement cracked and started flying all over. Sits On Me looked into the hole, then got a shovel and started jamming it down there. Wood splintered. Sam picked up a nearby gas can and started pouring gas in.
Then, the wind picked up. Yeah, I know that sounds all cliché, and you probably think I’m going to say that a thunderstorm suddenly rolled in out of nowhere. It didn’t, but it got really, really windy when there wasn’t even a breeze before. Sits On Me started cursing and went to pick up a couple of cylinders of something, but there was already some weird sound heading right toward us, fast, lots of high-pitched screaming.
I probably don’t remember the next part all that well. Sam ran over and cut us loose and told us to run, which was pretty damn strange all on its own, but then something came up the hill at us so fast and screaming so damn loud and high-pitched that it wasn’t hard to do what he said. Somewhere, dogs and tiny animals were exploding from that noise. There wasn’t really anywhere to run, but we ran anyway, and later on Perry said the thing went right after me, instead of the guys with the shovels, and really that’s pretty much my luck. It was glowing and it looked like pieces of it were getting pulled off by the wind, and it never touched the ground. I hadn’t been drinking, at all, not while we’re on a case, Perry would have killed me. I don’t know what the hell it was, but all I saw was this huge, gaping, glowing mouth all shrieking at me and heading right for me, and anybody would have screamed. Even Johnny fucking Gossamer.
And it got cold. Like, artic…arctic? Antarctic? Whatever, it got really damn cold.
Next thing I remember, I was waking up on the ground with a huge fire in the open grave nearby, and Perry was sitting there with one hand on my forehead and the other under my head. He looked kind of worried. Sam and his angry, Crisco-using brother who he may or may not have been fucking were standing a few feet away with shotguns and Perry was calling them idiots.
“I said the others didn’t attack us,” Sits On Me said. “You see why it’s a good idea to torch these chicks, now? You still gonna try a little citizen’s arrest?”
Perry took his hand off my forehead and snapped his fingers at me, just above my nose. “Wake up, Harry.”
“No point waking me up if they’re just gonna kill me anyway,” I said. “What the fuck was that?”
“The pissed off ghost of Helen O’Connell,” Sam said. “Or, actually, just some part of it. I don’t think all of her can be summoned after all this time.”
Like that made sense, or something. Crackheads.
I sat up and Perry looked like he couldn’t decide between helping me or smacking me. Maybe it was just the way the bonfire that used to be Helen was lighting him.
He still had his hand on the back of my head, so, he was probably just marking the spot to smack me.
“So getting her to 800 Celsius or higher is going to take care of it?” I said.
That’s how we ended up down the road at Saints and Sinners on Ventura together - haha, ironic - getting shitfaced. That’s what you do after getting tied up and then attacked by some paranormal shit, and burning a body and burying it again, and pretending none of it happened. Sam and Dean aren’t all that bad when they’re not pointing guns at people and insulting them.
Wait, I skipped some stuff. Okay, Sits On Me is actually Dean and Sam is actually Sam, and they hunt angry ghosts for a living. Or, not really a living, since they don’t charge for it (Perry was outraged) but they do it anyway. And once we all got into the light, Perry looked at them both and flat out propositioned them. Sam wrinkled his forehead like maybe he thought it was pretty funny and embarrassing at the same time, and Dean looked like he might cry. They’re both pretty built and strong-jawed and scruffy looking, and I think Perry has a thing for that. Sometimes. Hard to figure out what Perry’s into in any given week. And by into, I mean balls deep into. I don’t get to run into his dates. I think we’re equally okay with that.
Dean’s the first person who thought it was cool that I was missing part of a finger. I told him it was chopped off by a mobster trying to get me to give up a witness. I could tell he didn’t believe me, and I already know I’m the worst liar ever. He didn’t call me on it, so, it doesn’t matter.
Sam was quieter but he watched everybody, kept an eye on the door, made everybody think he’s safer to deal with because of the dimples. And he’s really fucking tall. See, I’ve been working on being a better detective.
Sam and Dean told us some big crazy story about some frustrated musician using pretty bad ways to call up the spirits or something of a bunch of old-time singers because he thought it was going to give him a way to steal whatever they’d had, but the spirits were actually getting pissed off and killing people.
Turns out they got the angry ghost off me by shooting it with rock salt, by the way. That’s why Perry was yelling at them when I came to. Sorry I missed most of it.
“What he was calling up isn’t actually sentient,” Sam told us, and he sounded like he believed it. “The souls have already gone wherever it is they were bound for. But something lingers on or around physical remains, and as long as there’s something physical, there’s some part of a personality left. It just might not be the best part.”
That almost made sense, but, I was kind of drunk by then.
Harmony called and I told her where we were, and apparently I said a little too much about ghost hunters because she said she wanted to come check them out. She loooooves all those shows.
Twenty minutes of watching Perry flirt with both ‘brothers’ followed, and then Harmony blew in. There might have been angels singing and sparkly shit that accompanied that, but I think that was all just in my head.
“Holy shit. You’re that Genaro’s girl.”
Dean would recognize her right away. Again, my luck.
Lots of instant love for him from Harmony.
Know what? I kind of hate Dean. Any points he got from the whole finger thing were cancelled out by fawning over Harmony with his…strong jawedness and builtness and ruggedness.
I keep sounding gay, don’t I.
I have nothing to feel threatened about. I get to carry a gun sometimes and I’m pretty tough, and I have an actual job. So I get to go home periodically with the hot beer commercial girl.
I mean, Harmony is hot. Not the beer. Shit, I’m gonna quit while I’m at least even.
And hey, I don’t believe in ghosts, because that’s all bullshit. It was just light that refracted off something. Magician stuff.
I would know.
Perry’s yelling about something, so, gotta go. Love thy neighbor; just not enough to dig them up and do creepy shit to them.