Vintage cover of a 10¢ pulp comic, My Secret Confession, “Yes, Darling, it’s me … and very much alive!” “No, it can’t be … they said your plane was  … oh, David, I’m Married!”

When I was a security dispatcher at Hollywood & Highland, we kept our dispatch log on a computer.

I’d sit there in the surveillance room and talk to security officers on the radio while watching a large monitor in front of me that was fed by 82 cameras around the property.

I had a switching console so that I could call up any camera feed I wanted, and a “camera officer” sat nearby at a similar monitor and switching console.

As I kept the dispatch log, I’d make entries like this..

0700: Ofc Bollomy reports code 4 north restrooms level 3.

0715: McCarthy Construction commenced work on grand stairway, informed dispatch that portions of stairway to be inaccessible to public through remainder of the work day.

April 25th of 2002 was a slow day, so I decided to keep myself entertained by typing the security log up a little differently. I called it..

If a pulp fiction novelist worked part-time as a security dispatcher.

The shift started at 0600. At 0615, I’d gotten out of briefing and settled into the dispatch chair.

Thus our story begins..

0615: Twenty-one uniformed security officers and their pint-sized sergeant sat in hushed silence as Captain Craig Delanoy strode into the room. The blue of their uniforms matched the blue mood that swept over them as Delanoy spoke swiftly yet eloquently of terrorist threats and the need for officers to be alert.

The Captain knew his stuff, having served as a Marine, and later, a sheriff’s deputy in Cook County Chicago. He ate terrorists for breakfast, with a dash of petty thieves as a garnish. The men respected him.

Tossing out a final warning as nonchalantly as one tosses a quarter to a grateful panhandler, Delanoy left the room, his words lingering in the air like the smoke of a candle that had just been blown out, a necessary candle that had illuminated the sins of mankind.

0630: Officer Graham reluctantly surrendered the dispatch console to Corporal Rhodes. A bit of idle chit-chat provided a thin veil for the deeply passionate feelings Graham harbored when it came to the throne of surveillance, and his longing to return to that throne once night should fall again.

He had been keeping vigil at that station for the past year, waiting for anything to happen, but nothing ever did. This tedium was at times too much for him, and he yearned within himself for a mere trespasser, nay perhaps even just a wayward vagrant, to appear and confront an associate so that Graham could hail constables to the rescue and be lauded as a hero for once, rather than just a dreamer of such things.

Officer Mitch Dakin took his station at the alternate surveillance monitor, a sense of urgency buzzing around him like a cloud of angry mosquitoes, needling him to do better, do BETTER, and not let Delanoy down. Not again. Not ever.

Captain Delanoy’s words of exhortation during the morning briefing had made a deep impact on Dakin, who strove to be just like Delanoy someday and was even now reminiscent of him in his youth, a daring young man full of promise and not lacking when it comes to matters of the heart and soul, along with a steadfast dedication to the art of observance when it came to the miscreants who frequented the area.

0632: Who would think that an entire golf cart could turn up missing? Yet the half-hour mark found Officer Ernie Valdez standing forlornly in the cavernous depths of the parking structure, calling on his radio in a hollow voice as he described to Corporal Rhodes how empty the space looked where once stood a shiny, beautiful golf cart, full of hope and the distant promise of mobility.

Rhodes was no fool, and he could sense the layer of fear wedged into Valdez’s thick, Hispanic accent. Fear that the cart would never be found, and that he would be relegated to some far-flung boundary of the complex for the remainder of his watch, to idly pass the time by counting passers-by and tossing inane greetings at them as one tosses baseballs at lead bottles with the hope of winning a stuffed chihuahua at the county fair.

Corporal Rhodes acted swiftly, dispatching his full complement of roving security officers in search of the wayward cart. Time dripped like molasses to the forlorn Valdez, who was elated when he heard the happy voice of Officer Chessley Schmidt pierce the darkness and call out that the cart had been located in the valet area of the parking structure.

To Valdez, Schmidt had become a hero in one fleeting moment. Never mind that Schmidt was a hero already, beloved by all who called upon his services as they witnessed how quickly he brings each task to fruition with a relish.

To Valdez, Schmidt was now his personal hero, and no one else’s.

0647: Escalators are mere machines. Soulless contraptions that don’t care one little bit whether you go up or down. Escalator #25 is no exception, and it sits in a funk. A non-moving, gloomy little escalator funk. Fortunately, Corporal Hernandez is the funk remover and is on his way with the de-funking key.

0652: While en route to cheer up Escalator #25, Corporal Hernandez noticed that Elevator #8 appeared to be in a funk also, but upon closer inspection it was revealed that some mischief maker had maliciously engaged the fire-switch on it, causing poor old Elevator #8 to sit just where it is, pondering whether or not it would ever slide its smooth walls up and down that silky shaft once again.

This would be a job for Ted from Fujitech, a man known not only for his ragged sense of humor and wonderful wit, but also for his fanciful head full of elevator whimsy.

Surely, with a deft twist of his wrist and the employment of the correct tool from his satchel, he’d elevate the mood of this downtrodden machine so that it would once again slide up and down, up and down, up and then down, all the day long, to the pulsating rhythm of the music piped within, bringing shoppers to a climax on the fifth floor.

0654: As Corporal Hernandez arrived at Escalator #25, he flashed fondly back on that day in tenth grade when he had handed his English report to Miss White and she flung a pretty smile his way, praising him for the hard work he’d obviously poured into such a fascinating piece.

Who knew that the Gettysburg Address could ever be made to seem so alive, so vibrant? It was just a boring old piece of American historicity in most minds, but not after Danny Hernandez had tackled it with his pen.

Miss White was not known to graciously dole out grades that matter, but she slapped a triumphant A-PLUS on Danny’s paper that day, sealing in him a desire to perform above and beyond the call of the daily grind.

Four-score, and seven minutes after the original call had been placed, he inserted his key into the little slot at the base of Escalator #25 and it roared to life.

Grinning like a very special breed of Cheshire cat, Danny was now certain within himself that he’d earned yet another in a life-long string of As with the accomplishment of this task, along with the never-ending admiration of Miss White, who…

At this point, the watch commander walked into dispatch and looked over my shoulder.

“Rhodes, what are you doing?”

“I’m composing the dispatch log as if I were a pulp fiction novelist working here part-time.”

“You won’t be working here at all if you don’t knock it off.”

I printed a copy of what I had so far, then went back and rewrote the entries in the usual format.

Work. They just don’t let you have any fun.


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