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True Hollywood Story

Jacob knew he had to work quickly.
When the last breath exited the body, it was only a matter of time before the electrons in the nerve centers of the brain ceased to fire. At that time it would all be too late.
"Move back!"
He pushed his way forward through the gathering crowd of people to the spot where the police had cordoned off the scene. The police were noble in their efforts to block the body from the gawks of the Hollywood street, but it was a futile act. The flashes of photography had already started and the headlines were tweeted through cyberspace to newsrooms of the gunshot outside the studio. It was only a matter of time before the blogs caught hold of it--selling exclusive photos of another Hollywood suicide.
Jacob flashed his archivist badge to the nearest officer when he pressed through the last of the crowd. The officer took a look at it, glanced at the bag Jacob held, and nodded him forward with a hint of disgust.
"Be quick," the officer said as he lifted the police tape up, allowing Jacob to pass underneath. The detectives had already passed the case off to the coroner. Jacob's heart missed a beat.
Was the gunshot to the head?
There wasn't much Jacob could do if the brain had been damaged. He was good at his job, but the fragmented information that occurred when there was damage to the tissue was not an experience that Jacob liked to go through. It was hard enough to sort out the normal streams of information, but with damage, it was like jumping into a cold sea in the dark and being asked to find a special grain of sand.
Jacob nodded casually at the two detectives who stood aside from the Coroner and the body. They worked on uploading their case notes and took slow drags off cigarettes. The officers regarded him only for a moment.
"You're a bit late on this one, Jacob."
The Coroner was hunched over the body. Jacob could always count on seeing Tim on the West Hollywood side during the night cases.
"How long?" Jacob asked as Tim pulled the plastic gloves off his hands in two clean movements.
"Long enough, I'm afraid. You aren't going to get much from her. She didn't do the head though, which is good for you. She'll still make a pretty corpse." He paused. "You got five minutes, Jacob. We need to get her out of here."
Jacob sighed. Getting the right cases meant having to bribe the right people. Everything took money, and unfortunately for Jacob, that was one thing that he was getting lower on with the purchase of the new stimulants.
Jacob opened his bag and knelt down as the Coroner stood aside. It was the first time that Jacob really looked at the suicide. She was pretty. But like all the others, he knew that their looks were an empty facade. A body separated from its soul after years of Hollywood stresses.
Jacob pulled out a small handheld computer with electrodes. Her gunshot was to her chest. Was it some sort of a symbolic gesture? He didn't have time to mull over the implications. Jacob attached a series of electrodes to the young woman's temples and the other to his own. He waited for a moment until "Ready for Input" flashed across his vision.
Jacob moved his palms forward in a command. To his disappointment, his vision remained his own. This wasn't going to be easy; his newly purchased stimulants were already going to have to be put to work. He took out one of three syringes in his bag and used his knee to support her as he brushed her hair away from the back of her neck. He had only used these stimulants once before, but he already braced himself. Jacob jabbed the syringe into the base of neck and depressed the yellow liquid into the dead actress.
The entire actress's life flashed before Jacob's eyes. He was her. Her father's alcoholism. The failures. It was all there for him, as him, as her. Each image flickered only for a moment before it faded. Whatever time the stimulants gave him was self-destructive. After the image left, he would not be able to get it back unless it was properly handled.
He saw the glint of the gun in her purse through her eyes and knew he found it--what she was about to do to him, to her.
"Gotcha!" Jacob smiled.
Jacob entered his apartment. The lights in the dining and living area turned on. His apartment was a mess--a clutter of unused equipment. That would have to change soon.
The television that hung on the wall was muted. The headline read "Exclusive Footage--A celebrity suicide." He watched the reel that he had taken from the earlier Archiving display on the screen.
It was from the actress's eyes, a short, choppy video that showed the moment she elected to take her own life and ended with the act of the gun in her hands. It was good, Jacob thought. Really good. And would be replayed on all the channels until the next high-profile case. The people loved this stuff.
Before he had returned home, Jacob uploaded the footage to his employer and was delivered a nice bonus for the profile of the case. Most of the time the deaths he covered only pushed him into the next job. He was set for a while now, however. Jacob would've thanked the starlet if he could, but he at least thought he did the next best thing--immortalized her after death. That's what they all really wanted anyway.
Jacob frowned a moment as the loop replayed the footage a second time.
He forgot to get her name.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, August 17th, 2011
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