Fallen Star, Live-In God
Rachel R. Walker

People are attracted to the famous. But that attraction works both ways--and not always for the best.

All I hear is Jenny's breathing, now slow and steady. All I feel is the cool twisted sheet coiled about my ankles.


I never used to mind that Jenny didn't keep newspapers or magazines around. After a while you get sick of reading about yourself. Same with her apparent lack of a television. You don't have to see those tabloids, either.

And I didn't care that we never left her apartment. At first I didn't even want to leave her bedroom. But now I'm starting to wonder.

"Jake, this way!"

"Jake, let's see that smile!"

"Jake, is it true what they say about you and Hope Shelley?"

Everybody thinks I lost my virginity at 19, when I starred with Hope Shelley in Walking Away. Hope believes it, too. But Jenny found me at 16.

"Jake, over here!"

"C'mon, give us those teeth!"

"Jake, how do ya feel?"

I grew up in Dundee, Illinois, near Chicago. When I was 14, my oldest sister Maggie got me a part in a college play she was in. I tell interviewers that I felt something special the second my foot touched the stage boards. It's a good line, but I've used it so often I can't remember if it's true.

I remember the audience cheering. Thunder filled the theater and echoed between my ears.

Chicago isn't New York, thank god, but it's true that you can do enough theater in Chicago to make even Hollywood take notice.

At 16 I landed my first big role. City of Lights wasn't supposed to be my picture, but after opening night everybody was talking about Jake Dooley, an astonishingly brilliant presence as flash addict Mickey Randall. And after the premiere party at Spago, there was Jenny, a surfer chick exalted by a teenager's imagination into a goddess. Goddesses probably don't wear Cal Tech T-shirts, though. And they sure don't lean close to sixteen-year-old boys and whisper, "How would you like me to make you howl?"

"Jake! Jake, I love you! I love you, Jake!"

"Jake please look this way Jake please c'mon pleeeez!"

"Jake! Omigawd! Didja see? He looked at me!"

Why does she keep the second bedroom locked?

After City of Lights, and after Jenny's apartment, I didn't see her until A Name For Baby--the second flick of my first three-film contract. The critics were kind to me. "A finer actor than this movie deserves." "With a better script, Dooley would've shone again." Dressed in flowing gray, Jenny found me at Roxwell's after the first week figures came out. Once more she ushered me into her Nissan and blindfolded me--and I didn't care. I felt I deserved a firing squad. Instead, when the blindfold was removed, I blinked the dust away and squinted in the candlelight that set Jenny's heavy-curtained bedroom aglow. "You deserve something special tonight," she whispered, pulling me to the yet-untangled sheets, guiding my hands to her. "Let me hear you howl."

"And the nominees for Best Actor are... Jake Dooley, for Silent Drums..."

My next-oldest sister Eileen used to give herself screaming nightmares from reading scary bedtime stories. Mom finally had to throw out the book with the Bluebeard stories. Didn't help. Eileen kept opening all the doors to make sure there weren't any cast-off wives shut away in our creaky house.

What does Jenny keep behind her locked door?

A father.

"It's me, Sean. Remember your ol' dad?"

A son.

"Very pleased to meet you, sir. Sorry you have to leave so soon. I guess old habits are hard to break."

The open road.

"You force me to go on this crazy trip and you didn't bring a map? You learn to drive the same way you learned to be a father?"

Together, maybe, they'll find... Points To View. Starring Robert Harrigan. And Jake Dooley. Coming soon to a theater near you. Rated PG-13.

I never liked The Bough: too noisy, with service worse than the music. Roxwell's is where I usually take my meetings, but the Roxwell's staff would pay too much attention to me. The Bough people see so many celebrities that I was almost anonymous. Exactly what I wanted for this meeting.

Lucas tossed his pale hair out of his bleary eyes. "Ya sure y'want this?" He glanced nervously about The Bough. Everybody was watching Hope Shelley (a brunette this season) dancing with her latest. "I mean, y'don't even drink." His hands were shaking worse than when we made Louisiana Air; their rhythm clashed with the pulse from the speakers. "Whatcha want with TZ? Not even a stellar trip. Just knock ya' assward. Gimme couple more days--I'm a great shopper." He snickered, then put on an ill-fitting sober expression. We still looked like brothers around the eyes, but his were now shadowed and gaunt. "Meet me here again Tuesday, and I'll have guaranteed DEA-pure anything. No extra charge." A wavering craftiness lit the silvered blue depths. "Maybe you could talk to Deni 'bout takin' me back. I c'n still work. Whaddya say? F'get the TZ. Lemme getcha somethin' better."

"I'm buying it for a friend."

"And the winner is... Jake Dooley, for Dixie Wailing!"

I knew she'd be looking for me. I stayed alert until I spotted her glittering in silver and blue, tall and blonde, as graceful and supple as when I was 16 and Hollywood was my new playground. Maybe I'd get her surgeon's name for future use.

It wasn't easy to cut through the worshipping surf of the crowd. If each touch had been a drop, I'd have been soaked by the time I reached Jenny. But she never minded waiting. I slid a hand through her silky hair and pulled her ear close to my mouth: "How would you like me to make you howl?"

All I hear is Jenny's breathing, now slow and steady. All I feel is the cool twisted sheet coiled about my ankles.

Slowly I slide off the mattress to the carpet, careful not to knock the two empty tumblers off the bedside table. Pants, Rolex--gotta watch the time. Her keys. I take the glasses and rinse them out in the kitchen sink, just like Ari did when he played crooked client to my idealistic defense attorney in On Closer Inspection. Though this isn't a murder story; no one will care about what made Jenny sleep.

8PM HBO MOVIE (CC)-Drama 2:15

"Blood and Oil" (R) Young intelligence agent (Jake Dooley) clashes with commanding officer (Ron Cliffords) in this absorbing look at the Gulf War.

Jenny must have bought this lock herself; it doesn't match the other doorknobs in her apartment. The fourth key I try clicks. I step inside and flip on the lights.

Three of the walls are covered with posters.

City of Lights. Walking Away. Louisiana Air. Silent Drums. Dixie Wailing.

And more: Below the posters sit two low bookcases, each with two shelves apiece. One filled with paperbacks, the other with scrapbooks.

The fourth wall is covered by a giant screen TV, almost as big as the one I have at home. A VCR or laserdisc player underneath, and a tall cabinet on each side of the screen. Next to the right-hand cabinet, under a Mad/Ave poster, is a stereo and a filled CD rack. My bare feet are cold as I cross the well-varnished floor to check the titles. All soundtracks. My mouth twitches when I see the 'Blading album. If only the movie had done as well. Maybe I should have done my own stunts.

Now the cabinet next to the TV. I pull open the doors and tilt my head to read the videotape spines, the titles on the shelf matching the posters on the walls. All here--even Smoke Test and A Name For Baby, and Dixie Wailing--

I snatch the tape, frowning as I check the back. The studio seal gleams beside the copyright infringement warning. Not a bootleg. I check the picture on the front: There's me and Whit with our saxophones in the New Orleans cemetery, a smaller version of the poster hanging to my left. Gold letters celebrate my win from earlier tonight.

This isn't out yet.

My agent would know. She always gets me a piece of the back end.

I slide the tape back onto the shelf, not slamming the door for fear of waking Jenny, TZ or no. I investigate the other cabinet. These shelves are filled with home videotape dubs, carefully labeled in Jenny's tight compact script. My TV guest shots. Interviews and profiles, organized by show and date. I close the door, a niggling thought tickling the back corner of my mind. I cross to the bookshelf with the paperbacks. Top shelf: movie novelizations, complete with full color photos from the major motion picture starring Jake Dooley. All clearly read many times, a few held together by green rubber bands. I don't recognize the stuff on the bottom shelf.

I cross to the bookcase under the Louisiana Air poster with its cypress swamp and air-brushed faces. I give Lucas and my twenty-year-old self a sardonic grin, the one I used as the rowdy younger brother who had to be steadied by Lucas' character. Ha.

I pull out the first scrapbook. Newspaper clippings, sealed behind plastic, from my Chicago theater days. Even a review of that first University play.

She is dedicated.

Chronological order? Probably--

Dixie Wailing in the tape cabinet. The niggling thought leaps from the wings to center stage. The dates on the interview dubs.

Chronological order.

My hands are trembling worse than Lucas'. I take the scrapbook from the far right end of the shelf and flip through the plastic pages. Ticket stubs. Reviews. Glossy eight-by-tens. Profiles from fan magazines. Familiar headlines capturing slices of my life flick past, until I reach the biggest, blackest one of all:

Oscar Winner Jake Dooley Murdered

Film Star Shot to Death Outside Roxwell's

Police Hunt For Mystery Assailant

There's a three-column photo of a sidewalk chalk outline next to a studio portrait of me. My Dixie Wailing character. I look at the date above the headline.

Welcome to the Jake Dooley fan discussion group. This file will
serve to answer some questions users frequently ask in this area.

Among the topics covered in this file:

Back to the other bookcase and the bottom shelf. I have to remove each book to see the titles--the spines are cracked white with over-reading.

The Jake Dooley Story. Fallen Star. The Comet Life of Jake Dooley. God of His Generation. Where Were You?: Remembering Jake Dooley. Death Comes Unexpectedly: Losing Hollywood's Brightest. Even a novel: not a novelization, but something unfamiliar with the strange title of Jake Dooley's Doing Fine on Callisto.

The copyright dates.

My hands are shaking. I check my watch; Jenny should stay under for another 15 minutes or so, if Lucas can be trusted. I carefully put the books back in place and leave the room, locking the door behind me. In the living room another bookcase stands near her desk. "Just stuff from school," Jenny had told me once on the way to her bedroom. "Nothing interesting."

Nothing interesting then. But I'm not 16 anymore. Time to see what Jenny's been studying at Cal Tech.

Space, Time and Gravitation, by Arthur Eddington. A Quantum Mechanics Primer, by Daniel Gillespie. A Most Ingenious Paradox, by Chandrapal Sarasvati Kumar. Other authors: Stephen Hawking. Rudy Rucker. Poul Anderson. Fritz Leiber. H. G. Wells.

I sink to her couch, ignoring the lumps and springs. The date above the headline. The dates on the books and the tapes. I'd believed Jenny to be about my current age. But if she's in her mid-twenties, and I'm here, I'm really old enough to be her father.


The plot can change. I've demanded rewrites before--and I always wanted to direct.

I won't let the screen fade to black on me. All I have to do is wait for Jenny to take me back. She's built a shrine in there. She's worked hard for this opportunity--I'll take the offered chance. I settle back against the lumpy couch and laugh. Every good actor controls his exit.

Oscar Winner Jake Dooley Murdered

Film Star Shot to Death Outside The Bough

Suspect in Killing to be Arraigned Today


Caitlin Marie Anscom, girl, to Harper and Paula Anscom.

Avery Kirby Dewey-Ingraham, girl, to William and Diana Dewey-Ingraham.

Jacob Dooley Townsend, boy, to Jennifer Townsend.

Rachel R. Walker (rwalker@awod.com) was a lifelong Midwesterner until she moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where she lives and works. Her short fiction has been published in Vision SF and Alternate Hilarities. She has also published non-fiction articles on such varied subjects as the Native American tribes of the Southeast, carpal tunnel syndrome, and architecture.

InterText Copyright © 1991-1999 Jason Snell. This story may only be distributed as part of the collected whole of Volume 4, Number 5 of InterText. This story Copyright © 1994 Rachel R. Walker.