about the author

Michelle Meyers’s writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Atticus Review, Juked, and The Adroit Journal, among others. She has received awards and honors from Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and Wigleaf and was a 2015 PEN Center Emerging Voices Fellow. Her debut novel, Glass Shatters, was published in April 2016 and selected as an Editor’s Pick in Literary Fiction by Foreword Reviews and a Finalist in Literary Fiction by Best Book Awards. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama’s MFA program in Creative Writing and lives in Los Angeles.

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How to Murder in the City of Angels

Michelle Meyers

1. Toss the Body in a Water Tank: Find a hotel with a storied past, keys with teeth, a single Do Not Disturb sign for the entire floor, a building that only still exists as a projection of the collective imagination burrowing deep into L.A.’s Downtown. Make sure said hotel has a water tank on the roof. Select a woman of small stature, easy to hoist—you don’t want to throw out your back again.1

2. Dress as Santa Claus: Don the beard, the coat, the jaunty hat. Practice your “ho ho ho’s” with gusto and verve. Obtain the address for your ex-wife’s annual holiday party. Arrive at the front door with a semi-automatic handgun and a pressurized fuel tank disguised as a Christmas present. Be careful with that firebomb or else the Santa suit may melt into your flesh.2

3. Partner with Another Septuagenarian Widow: Put roofs over the heads of two homeless men who used to camp out by the First Presbyterian Church. Feed them hot meals of goulash and flannel cakes. Let them soak in sudsy bubble baths without scrubbing the rim. Take out millions of dollars’ worth of life insurance policies. Years later, let yourselves be a cliché, drugs in the tea, just to sedate. Drag them into the alleyway. Make it look like a hit-and-run: spinal lacerations, broken ribs, and fractured bones should do.3

4. Fake a Robbery at the Silent Movie Theater: Accept the money from the projectionist. $25,000 is more than enough. You don’t need to know why he wants to murder the owner. You don’t care. Blast the motherfucker with a .357 Magnum in the lobby while the audience guffaws at a comedy short about a hamster and a trampoline. Turn your weapon on the concessionist.4

5. Call Yourself the Angel of Death: Study to become a respiratory therapist. Get a job at Glendale Adventist Medical Center. Realize that there’s just too much damn work on the graveyard shift. Check the patient board on particularly busy evenings. Determine who’s in the worst shape. Show up at their bedsides to administer lethal doses of paralytic drugs into their intravenous lines. Initially claim that you’re putting these patients out of their misery. Later compare killing them to shoplifting gum.5

6. Leave Behind a Glove. Nobody Will Care: If your ex-wife’s getting on your nerves, slice across the neck, larynx exposed, head barely hanging on to the C3 vertebra. Stab anybody else in proximity. Don’t concern yourself with the DNA evidence. It won’t matter anyway. Ten years later, publish a book entitled If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer. It’s all hypothetical. The public will understand.6

7. Team Up with Your Brother: Grow up in Beverly Hills. Play tennis in the morning. Play tennis in the afternoon. Play tennis in the evening. Feel your entire body callous. Blame your sharkish businessman of a father for your troubles. Resent your mother for her subservience. Shoot your parents point blank in the living room with sawed-off shotguns, popcorn still in a bowl on the coffee table, an episode of Full House on the television. Go on a shopping spree with the family fortune until you are apprehended by the authorities.7

8. Form a Club of Billionaires in Name Only: Call yourselves a club even though you’re a Ponzi scheme. Call yourselves billionaires even though you’re a million dollars under. Wear designer suits. Buy fast cars. Rent a fancy condo in Westwood. Hang out at the trendiest night spots like the Hard Rock Cafe at the Beverly Center. Botch a blackmail by accidentally suffocating the guy. The next year, take out a con man who got your asses good. Wrap him in a comforter and bury it forty-five miles north of the city.8

9. Start a Family: Stick a gaggle of goosey-eyed hippie kids from the Haight on a bus. Soothe their insecurities with your lapping tongue until they are no more than sticky white spunk in your right hand. Convince them of the impending race wars, of Helter Skelter, and the need to slaughter the piggies gorging from the slop trough. Order them to kill the famous, to kill the unknown, to kill the unborn. Blood raining from the ceilings, from the walls, from the floors, tin heartbeats frozen in time.9

10. Assassinate a Kennedy: Assess the remaining Kennedys. Select Robert. Definitely Robert. Attend a victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel in the Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles after he wins the California primary. Watch side-eyed as the maître d’ leads Robert through the kitchen, the pantry. Past the ice machine. Past the steam table. Burst out from behind the low-tray stacker. Fire. Fire. Fire yet again. Change the course of history.10

11. Make It Gruesome: Find a young broad, a wannabe actress perhaps. Bludgeon the head because you can. Saw her in half because you can. Drain the blood because you can. A Glasgow smile, slashes from the corners of her lips to her ears. Rinse but don’t repeat. Fade like a figment of the imagination into the night. Conspiracy theories will take care of the rest.11

12. Whack a Mob Boss Before He Goes After Your Lover: Of course they call him Bugsy. You’re doing this for Bee. You’re hoping after Moe kicks the bucket she’ll take your hand in holy matrimony. You spot the guy through the window on the floral sofa at his girlfriend’s Beverly Hills home. He doesn’t look like the king of all gangsters in that matted robe, skimming a crinkled newspaper. Your aim is good. The .30-caliber military M1 carbine fires smooth. You hit him in the head, the torso, the right cheek. One across the bridge of his nose that blows out his left eye socket. They’ll never catch you, and five years later, you’ll marry Bee, till death do you part.12

13. Drive the Wrong Way on Sunset Boulevard: Marry a Greek vaudeville and early motion picture producer who will name a theater after you. Drink the dregs of well whiskey until you’re shit-faced because you have nothing better to do. Drive the wrong way on Sunset. It seemed like the right way at the time. Run over a gardener, but don’t worry, it wasn’t your gardener.13

14. Live in the Attic above Your Mistress for Ten Years: Fall in love with the Milwaukee housewife of a dour apron manufacturer. When they move to L.A., cave it up in their attic like Batman. Write stories of lust, mystery, and adventure by the wavering wick of a candle at night. Make love and bathtub gin by day. One evening, overhear the apron manufacturer and his wife in a bedroom spat. Scale the ladder. Clock the husband. Arrange the crime scene to look like a burglary. Wait out the statute of limitations and walk free, a grin wrapped around your head.14

1. See the unsolved murder of Elisa Lam, 2013
2. See Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 2008
3. See Helen Golay and Olga Rutterschmidt, 2005
4. See Christian Rodriguez, 1997
5. See Efren Saldivar, 1989-1997
6. See O. J. Simpson, 1994
7. See Eric and Lyle Menendez, 1989
8. See Joe Hunt, et al., 1983-1984
9. See Charles Manson, et al., 1969
10. See Sirhan Sirhan, 1968
11. See the unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short, a.k.a. “The Black Dahlia,” 1947
12. See Matthew “Moose” Pandza, 1947
13. See Lois Pantages, 1929
14. See Otto Sanhuber, 1922

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