“Reality Came to the Community of Fantasy-Makers”
A fantasy by
Looking for Mabel
The fog clung to the grass so only the gravestones were seen; it was as if they were floating in a still gray pool of milky water. It was strange how it always seemed 10 degrees cooler inside the gates of the cemetery. In the dark, the coolness seemed eerie, not the kind of coolness that a sweater could protect me from; it reached inside to my very core. The light posts wear halos and even with a flashlight it is hard to find the way down the path to the main mausoleum at the very back; past the tombs, headstones and little lake; looking down, both the path and my feet seem to disappear.
Why was I here, what possessed me to come? Now it seemed rather foolish to visit a graveyard at night but the ghosts didn’t appear in the sun, the night was their element. So here I am, wanting to disprove the stories or deep down where I don’t visit often, near where my logic stops and my imagination reigns, I wanted the stories to be true.
Is the man, William Desmond Taylor, trying to find his way back to the
Stories, Hollywood stories, the
These are not my stories but the tales told;
Over the Labor Day weekend, the gorgeous, former fashion model-turned movie actress with an endearing smile by the name of Virginia Rappe died under rather confusing circumstances. She attended a party given by a friend, Roscoe Arbuckle, at the
Henry telephoned from
After a private service, the shroud was replaced with an evening gown, said to be designed by Virginia herself. Flowers were placed in her hair and gifts from friends, many from the movie colony, were placed in her casket. The pallbearers were: Larry Semon, Oliver Hardy, Dave Kirkland, Norman Taurog, Frank Coleman and Frank Olin. She was interred at the
Henry told reporters and anyone who would listen “
The steps leading into the mausoleum are low and widely spaced, making visitors slow their pace to the cadence of a mourner; how many coffins have come up these steps and entered the small chapel?
Once a year, the faithful gather to remember the great Valentino. I have been told the phantom that wanders the echoing corridors is thin with a military air, not a dashing Valentino. It is William Desmond Taylor--I am sure it must be him. He was placed near the door just to the right of the entrance. Did I feel something as I entered?
He called Mabel Normand’s house and left a message that he had 2 books for her. At 6pm he was served dinner by his servant Peavey…about 7pm Mabel’s driver took her to pick up the books… she rang the bell…Peavey opened the door…Taylor was on the telephone after he hung up Mabel and Taylor had a drink and a chat…at 7:30pm the dinner dishes were washed and Peavey left… 7:45pm Taylor left his door open – walked his friend to her car with the 2 books (“Rosa Munde & Other Stories” by Ethel Dell and “A Critical Work On The Writings Of Frederick Nietzsche”)…they said good night…he walked back to his bungalow.
At neighbors heard a sound that could have been a gun shot…they saw a figure walking away from
Thursday February 2, 1922, Peavey opened the door and found Taylor’s body on the floor dead – a bullet had entered his back and passed into his lung…all hell broke loose.
It has become a parlor game, Who Killed Taylor? The man, himself is forgotten with the frenzy over his killing. Mary Miles Minter was interviewed with her mother Charlott…that evening: blame, blame, blame…A woman or a man? a known or an unknown? Was it Sands a thieving ex-valet?
All the personal details of the man’s life now became public domain. A dignified, private man was now a public deviant. There had been a brief coroner’s inquest with a verdict of murder by person or persons unknown. His spirit waits and paces, trying to go back to the studio or find…a person or persons unknown.
The funeral was held at
Perhaps Virginia Rappe or William Desmond Taylor haunt the visitors, which come to remember and honor them. I sit on the hard stone bench near the mausoleum and wait. There was no wind, the lights from Santa Monica Blvd. appear as if seen through a white satin sheet creating a glow within the clouds that encompasses me, like stories of the London fog; drops of moisture form on my jacket, they look like crystal pearls…the sounds of the city, which surround me seem muffled.
I can’t be sure, did I hear the wind passing though the trees, I don’t feel any wind and yet I feel a chill. Where was the chill coming from…there it was again a soft moaning. It is an unfelt breeze in the unseen trees, nothing more…yet, could it be, no that’s silly; I am letting my imagination play tricks on me, I need to leave this place, I am not afraid exactly, well maybe a little but terribly sad, terribly, terribly sad all of a sudden, I almost feel I am going to cry…