Parental Advisory Rating: V, L & S
Break out those V-Chips, everyone!
Director – XWPFanatic
Executive Producer – Tonya Muir
Writers - XWPFanatic, TNovan and Tonya Muir
Episode One: Powder Blues
I check my equipment one last time, adjusting the camera on my shoulder. Doesn’t matter how much padding you put under it, it’s still heavy on the shoulder. The Sony Betacam weighs over fifteen pounds, without accessories. That isn’t much compared to prior models, so I can’t really complain. Especially since the Betacam has withstood a lot of abuse from my travels.
In addition to the camera everyone sees, I have a micro-camera clipped to my belt. It’s smaller than a pager, with a lens the size of a dime. But it gets sharp color images and sound. It’s powered by a nine volt battery, also tucked into my belt. If I have to ditch the big camera for any reason, I won’t be totally blind. This has happened more times than I care to think about.
I have a partner on crew, Jimmy Parks. Everyone calls him Jimmy Olsen because he has red hair and he’s junior on staff, fresh out of film school. The red hair is his own damn fault. It actually looks more orange than red. This is especially incongruous since Jimmy is of Korean descent. Jimmy sits in the van and monitors the feeds. Both cameras are live right now. We’re about to go in.
The cop next to me listens to the wire in his ear and nods. He gives me a thumbs up and I follow him closer to the house. We’re standing in the middle of Beverly Hills, on the huge front lawn of Tyler Sagemore, Hollywood’s hottest star of the moment. Tyler is about to be arrested for a number of felonies. He’s known to be sourcing coke to his much younger leading lady on the set. He’s known to be screwing her too, which wouldn’t be so bad except she’s underage. He’s not aware of that fact; she lied on her resume and to him. Ignorance is not bliss in this instance.
My contacts in the LAPD let me know this was going down tonight. Working for TrueTV has given me a lot of friends on the force. I see them all the time when I ride along as they arrest the rich and famous. I admire the job they have to do here in Lala land, where nothing is real and everyone thinks they are Someone Important.
The action begins. I point the Betacam at the front door where the officer in charge is knocking loudly. "Mr. Sagemore, this is the LA Police Department. Please open the door, we have a search warrant for the premises." Two cops stand to either side of the office in charge, in case something goes wrong. I am a little farther back with another four cops.
I can’t help but hope that something will go wrong. No one wants to watch an easy arrest. Hell, I don’t want to film an easy arrest.
As the first gunshot rings out, I get my wish. I hear the click of the shoulder mike and then the words, "Shot fired! We’re going in."
I trigger the camera as two of the officers move from behind me with the battering ram. It’s the only thing around here heavier than my camera. I’m glad I’m not wielding that. Two hard blows send the door crashing open.
"Move, move, move!" The team leader calls as the officers rush in. I have a good shot of them making entry and so far I am very pleased. I’m sure my cop buddies don’t feel the same way.
Though my brain is telling me to duck out of the way, my instincts tell me otherwise and send me hot on the heels of the officer closest to me. I wield my camera as he does his automatic pistol, knowing myself to be just as adept with my weapon of choice. It has led me through many harrowing situations.
While I am doing everything I can to stay out of their way, I am still making sure to get good shots. I know better than to charge ahead of the officers. O’Reilly, my buddy on this team, would have my head if I were to do something that stupid. I’m not willing to take that chance no matter how badly I want the story. Not because I fear for my own safety but because I don’t want to burn bridges with O’Reilly or these men.
As we step into the darkened front hallway, the rush is palpable and has a deep rich flavor that tingles on the back of my tongue providing a better high than any of the drugs I experimented with. The hall is a room that sets the atmosphere for the rest of the house: overwhelming and austere. To our left is a large winding staircase of gray and white marble leading to the second floor hallway which is little more than a balcony overlooking the entranceway and the formal living room beyond. The stone walls are lined with glowing brass sconces and it is obvious to even me that the interior decorator was going for the "too much money to have taste" look. The small part of the house we see reeks with it.
I use the Betacam as an extension of myself, seeing through its lens as easily as I see with my own eyes. I track up the staircase and over the balcony, listening intently to the chatter around me, silently urging them to speak up. Though my personal preference is stunning footage, spectacular sound is something I won't turn down.
The officers are doing a search of the downstairs while I stay only feet from where I entered the house, letting the Betacam do my searching for me. It would appear that nothing is going down on this level. My intuition tells me to follow the cops going up the steps to the second floor so I do. My instincts are always good and I learned long ago never to ignore them.
"Upstairs room? Which end?" the officer in charge mutters to his microphone, back plastered against the wall in the middle of the stairway. I stand beside him, and I realize how exposed we are in this large echoing room. I hope they make a move soon because I know any action that happens here won't be in my favor. It would be like shooting rats in a trashcan. I watched my older brothers do that as a kid and never quite understood it, but find it an apt analogy right now.
"South West end," crackles back. "Shots are out of the South West window."
Cool. I adjust the Betacam, tap the micro-cam on my belt to reassure myself of its presence. We're moving again in seconds, slinking up the remainder of the staircase. We're still sitting ducks here if Sagemore decides to come to the front hall instead of taking potshots at the cruisers outside but this knowledge only excites me further. I love the danger of my job, something I'd feared wouldn't be possible for a camera person. Thank God for Jerry Springer and trash TV. He set up a pattern of sensationalist journalism that gives me the ability to do what I'm doing today. Life on the edge: shut up and jump.
We arrive at the landing and duck into a room. Scanning it quickly, it proves empty of anything but bad taste and expensive baubles. Here we wait for word from the street. We hear a few more shots and they sound louder now. I creep closer to the open door and peek around the jamb with the Betacam. I think he's in the room at the end of the hall, or just beyond it. I will him to open the door so I can get footage of the infamous Sagemore with a weapon in his hand. We could sell such a clip for a handy profit, ensuring me a healthy bonus. The thought brings a grin to my face and I know my teeth glint in the fading light. I brush my hand through tangling hair, flipping a long ponytail over my back.
I'm still focusing on the door when two more officers slide behind me into the room we've taken over. I glance back at them to see they have blueprints of the house. Quickly I spin the Betacam around, making sure to take in the atmosphere of the room on my way: the officers hunched over the rolled out blueprint, their weapons still drawn. Viewers will be able to feel the tension in the room and it makes me smile. So far I couldn't have asked for a better night.
I focus on the map, zoom in on the room where we are and then pan over to where Sagemore must be. Then I go back to my position by the door. He's still taking shots out the window, apparently. The chatter on the radio confirms this.
"Come to me, come to me," I chant, wanting the door to open. "C'mon, c'mon."
I've never prayed to a deity and I certainly don't now but by some grace of some god, the door I'm watching creaks open. It reveals Tyler Sagemore’s handsome face, peering through the crack.
All right! I grin as I zoom in on him. I know I should be ashamed of my blatant happiness about the fact that this man is an idiot, but I wanted a good story and I’m gonna get it now.
"Damn it, Tyler! Put the gun down!" The officer beside me in the doorway commands. It isn’t until Sagemore pushes the door open further that his costar is revealed at his side. "Let the girl go!"
Cool! Hostage too. Oh happy day. The actor is dressed in white terry cloth shorts and nothing else. I zoom in on his face to capture his wide eyed drug stare and then come back out for the full effect of the actor holding a weapon on the slip of a girl in front of him. It's a Smith and Wesson forty-four magnum, light gleaming off well polished silver. He must have reloaded during his haphazard shooting because even from here I can see spent cases on the floor in the room and his hand clutching a ripped open box of ammo at the young woman’s shoulder while he pins her small body to him. He has at most six shots before he has to resort to the box but we have no way of telling how many bullets are in the gun itself. If his hands weren't shaking so much and the angle were right, I could try to zoom in and count the empty chambers. I love this.
I take the opportunity to focus on the girl, her blonde hair tied back in a ribbon, her caramel eyes seeming to focus on everything and nothing. It’s obvious that they are both strung out. The girl has to be. She’s far too calm. She makes no sound as he growls at the officers and jams the weapon into her temple.