Fate of a Floozy by Wayne Zurl

Wayne Zurl
By Wayne Zurl May 9, 2012 14:13

Fate of a Floozy by Wayne Zurl


Sam Jenkins investigates the shotgun murders of an aging movie star and the younger man with whom she was having an affair. Two of the suspects include the woman’s husband, a Hollywood producer, and the young man’s father, a high-powered attorney. His inquiry spans the nation, from California to a prestigious country club in Knoxville.

According to the author, this book contains non-violent, non-graphic kinky sexual preferences.

The author has rated this book R (not suitable for those 17 and under).


On a cloudy Thursday morning in late May, I stood in Helene Redpath’s bedroom looking down at her naked body laying next to a man more than twenty years her junior. They were dead, of course, killed by two blasts from a horribly expensive double-barreled shotgun.

Helene Redpath spent more than four decades portraying a floozy. She appeared in major motion pictures, TV movies, cable features, and even on British television where they’ve never been squeamish about primetime sex or showing lots of skin. As a young actress everyone remembered her face, but I’d be surprised if many people knew her name. Helene worked steadily for years, but spent most of that time on the “B” list. Whenever a studio needed a beautiful girl with a figure to make Miss Universe jealous, they cast Helene as a cheating housewife, an oversexed career woman, a hooker with a heart of gold, or a scrumptious drunk.

Then, as she aged and the world watched her career declining, Ms. Redpath landed a part in the film Cover-up, playing the alcoholic mother of a soldier killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. Suddenly the critics realized Helene could act, and she won an Oscar for best supporting role.




Jackie Shuman and David Sparks, crime scene investigators from the county sheriff’s office, worked the bedroom with the efficiency of well trained automatons. The assistant medical examiner, Dr. Morris Rappaport, and his helper, Earl Ogle, conducted field tests on the bodies and prepared them for their trip to the University of Tennessee’s forensics lab.

“Got a time of death, Mo?” I asked the pathologist.

“For once, Sam, I can give you a definite answer. This young man likes to make love wearing a watch. A shotgun pellet stopped his Tag Huerer at exactly 10:28 last night.”

“Hard to controvert that.”

“By this afternoon I’ll be able to tell you if there are any factors beyond the obvious.”

“Thank you, Morris. You’re my favorite M.E.”

“Such an honor.”

I next spoke to the evidence technicians.

“Talk to me, Jackie. What do you know so far?”

“Well, as y’all kin see fer yer own self, there weren’t no break. Either the door was open or the shooter had him a key. The shotgun, it’s layin’ over yonder.” He pointed just beyond the foot of the bed. “It’s one sweet weapon. Musta cost more’n I make in a month. I believe it came from the cabinet downstairs in the den. Check it out. You’ll find the door open an’ only seven of the eight slots filled.”

“Dust it yet?”

“David did. Wiped clean. Cabinet, too.”

“Okay. When you finish and write all this up, stop at the P.D.”

“You got it, Chief.”




The bedroom looked like a featured display from a museum of Early American furniture. Not the kind of things you’d buy in an antique mall, but rather what you’d acquire from a dealer who wears a double-breasted blazer and silk bow tie and pays fifty bucks for a short haircut every three weeks. A lot of thought went into decorating the room, but Helene would never enjoy it again.

Prospect, Tennessee had always been one of the vacation spots favored by some of the nine million people who visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park annually. Those who desired a more tranquil atmosphere, a place without music halls, outlet malls, or bumper car rides, visited my town. The travel brochures called us “the Peaceful side of the Smokies.” It is peaceful . . . if we’re not investigating double homicides.

When a small resort named Blackberry Farm, a place not far from where I lived, was named the number one holiday destination in North America by a famous travel magazine, the rich and famous began invading the hotel in force, totally oblivious to the nightly rates that topped off at $3,400. As Blackberry Farm gained popularity with people whose faces appeared regularly on shows like Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood, these celebrities decided they’d like a chunk of the Smokies for themselves and started purchasing their own private getaways.

Soon, the demand outweighed the supply, and farmers owning land with spectacular mountain views put the family homesteads on the market. Realtors began making commissions that allowed them to replace their four-door Chevys with top-of-the-line Land Rovers. Little communities within the Prospect postal district with traditional names such as Gamble’s Woods, Cutter’s Gap, and Keeble’s Chapel were overshadowed by upper-crust subdivisions called Yorkshire Dales, Worthington Cove, and The Cedars at Whispering Mountain.

Helene Redpath, herself a country girl originally from North Carolina, was one of the glamorous west coast celebrities who discovered our corner of east Tennessee. In the years following her Oscar Award, she landed several more parts that made her a multi-millionaire. Two years ago, she and her husband paid a premium for the property I found myself visiting, a 200-year-old farmhouse surrounded by 100 acres of choice land. Once she saw the house in which she eventually died, Helene became determined to buy it out from under a horde of hungry developers bent on carving up the land and creating another up-scale neighborhood in beautiful Prospect.




I found Helene Redpath’s husband, Trevor Ridley, owner of a California movie production company, sitting on a love seat in the living room only an inch away from draining a glass once full of scotch. PO Bobby Crockett sat across from him on the matching sofa to keep Trevor from wandering around to places where the evidence technicians hadn’t already been. Bobby had gotten the call at 9:53 that morning and investigated. After taking all the information Ridley could offer, the two men sat in silence, Bobby killing time and the victim’s husband sucking down the single-malt. I took a seat next to Crockett.

Copyright© Wayne Zurl. All rights reserved.

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Wayne Zurl
By Wayne Zurl May 9, 2012 14:13
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