"Johnny Tone want to be famous, Laura wants to be loved, this is a match made in hell"
Reviewed by Shellie Surles
Posted June 29, 2016
Humor | Thriller
Johnny Tone thinks he should be making the greatest videos in
the world. His only failure is he hasn't found the perfect
dancer yet. Laura is beautiful beyond belief and a great
dancer, she once danced on Broadway. The only problem is Laura
is a little crazy, she was only recently released from a
mental hospital, and she isn't quite right. Johnny's not
right either, when his girls don't dance the way he wants them
to he tends to kill them.
This pair of people is beyond messed up and when you read
their backstories they deserve each other. Thing is everyone
in this book is messed up. It seems to be dysfunctional people
are us. Not a bad read though just some really messed up
people. Lord help humanity if people like this get together
and work together. I'd like to say the police are on top of it
doing their jobs, but the ones in this book should be jailed
themselves, at least Roy should. Laura's supportive sister,
well not so much.
Psychopaths and sociopaths are out in full force, the only
question is who walks away alive at the end of the story. THE
VIDEO KILLER will have you hoping that no one does, but I
won't give away the end, you'll have to read it for yourself.
Have your therapist on speed dial, you may need some
reassurance that there is good in the world. Interesting, very
interesting, she said in an evil tone, is the best way to
describe what Dave Eisenstark has created in THE VIDEO KILLER.
WANNABE MUSIC-VIDEO director Johnny Tone believes his
next-door neighbor, Laura Causely - beautiful, suicidal,
just released from a mental institution - is his ticket
ONCE A professional dancer, Laura had the moves Johnny
craved, and for her part, she's convinced he could rescue
her from her controlling sister, good-for-nothing
brother-in-law, and the demons that scream in her head.
LAURA IS not the first pretty young thing to fall under
Johnny's spell. What happened to those old flames was a
secret horror but she had her own bloody past to
ONLY ONE of them can survive.
WHO WINS in a fair fight, the psychopath or the
ExcerptSAUCY ITALIAN blood flooded his veins, sweat stung his
olive eyes, a police siren deafened his pepperoni-pink
ears. He smashed a trash can, forcing a running-back spin
against a garage wall just before the fire-white cop
beacon lit up the whole filthy alley. The 27-inch
Magnavox in his arms jabbed his chin and knocked his
knees. Johnny Tone loved TV—not his own TV—but somebody
A SIREN obliterated The Late Show's first punch line.
Lottie Krantz howled. 10:35—time for folks to be in bed.
Her swollen feet shuffled onto the front screen porch.
Even at night and at ninety-three—Hilltown's oldest
living resident—and even with her TV glasses on, she
clearly saw the man's short, powerful body scamper across
the street. Going too fast, up to no good, too hot for
Johnny burst through a fence gate, raced across the
Reverend Thompson's backyard and reached the next alley.
THE POLICE car screeched to a stop. Patrolman Roy
Hampton's blood boiled, excitement flamed behind his
eyes, his right leg twitched, demanding he crash the
fence, through the house if necessary.
Michelle Maynard grabbed Roy's hand on the steering
wheel. She was forty, Roy was twenty-five—he never
"Don't, Roy, please," Michelle begged her partner.
The adrenaline wouldn't stop, the leg wouldn't quiet.
This was why Roy had joined the police in the first
place: the thrill of the chase, the mind clicking at
lightning speed, fiery nerves perched right smack on the
edge of mayhem.
"Damn!" Roy cursed. "That's the fifth TV this month."
"Let's try on the other side," Michelle suggested.
Roy slammed the car in reverse, scorching the tires.
JOHNNY HURDLED a low fence into a maze of alleys. He
turned when he heard the car hit gravel. A green pickup
loomed in the drive. A red brick wall closed one side and
a wood-slat fence faced the other. Not enough room, not
with the TV. Johnny whirled. The police beacon raced down
LOTTIE KRANTZ dragged herself through her living room.
Balance and order—the secret of her longevity—were
threatened once again.
ROY PUSHED the patrol car into a slide.
"Darn it, Roy," Michelle shouted. "You're gonna get us
But Roy knew just what the vehicle could take, and as
soon as it rested comfortably in the Harrison's new
chain-link fence, he jumped out, service revolver in the
JOHNNY CROUCHED behind a garbage can. The sound of two
pairs of boots on gravel excited him to the bone.
"Put the gun away, Roy, please," Johnny heard.
"Shh!" Roy commanded, and Johnny could tell the cops were
coming his way.
Johnny searched the darkness. The thought of leaving the
Magnavox and crawling under the truck never occurred to
him. The gun worried him even as the thrill of it bolted
up his spine like a good episode of Hawaii Five-O.
Something else...a sound, what? From the next house over.
Lottie hobbled onto her back porch. A pinpoint of
moonlight caressed deep wrinkles in the woman's forehead.
Lottie Krantz, Hilltown's oldest living resident.
"Police officers! Come out with your hands up!" Roy
Lottie squinted into the darkness.
Roy crept around the corner of her house.
Michelle's flashlight struck chrome and glanced off the
Lottie spotted Johnny behind the trashcan. She gasped,
grabbed the string overhead and pulled. The porch light
flared above, searing a yellow image of Lottie's shaking,
pointing finger into the cones at the back of Johnny's
"There he is! Get him!" Lottie screamed.
Roy whirled and fired, blasting the bulb, raining glass
and tungsten on Lottie's gray hair. She dropped to the
"No! Don't shoot!" Michelle yelled, wrestling her partner
to the ground, grasping desperately for the gun.
Johnny wondered: what the hell are they doing?
"Release me!" Roy croaked, face burning anger, brain on
fire. She's surprisingly strong—
"Please drop the gun," Michelle begged.
Johnny peeked at the two cops struggling on the drive.
One crazy chance you gotta take.
Johnny shot out from behind the truck. His left foot
crushed Michelle's hand, his right stomped Roy's ankle.
Shouts of pain pierced the night as Johnny made good his
escape down the alley past the parked patrol car,
Magnavox firmly in hand.
Roy disentangled himself and jumped upright. He tested
his ankle and surveyed the area.
"Saddle up!" he shouted to Michelle.
Shaken, her knees aching, Ms. Krantz crawled back inside
Johnny fought the burn in his thighs and bounded up his
back steps. The door was unlocked—except for Johnny,
Hilltown was virtually free from crime. The door slammed
shut, the siren complained again and the great, white
search-beam on the patrol car knifed the wall over
Oughtta buy curtains for that door.
He was short, thank God, five-four, his salvation once
again. He stood granite-still, not daring a single muscle
twitch despite the ache. Focus on the future. This is
just a prelude, a stepping stone to greatness. No pain,
no gain. Think of the fame that'll blanket you like the
early morning fog wherever you go. Worth it, Johnny
decided, even as the light-shaft refused to move and the
low voices of the police came to him, unintelligible and
"You could have killed her," Michelle said.
"I had to neutralize the light," Roy explained.
Like a supernova moving through the galaxy, the circle of
light crawled off the wall over Johnny's head. He heard
the patrol car creep down the alley and the siren fade. A
cruel grin slipped into Johnny's mouth. He stood that way
for a few minutes, a cool-down after exercise. He checked
his watch. Six-minute mile with a forty-pound handicap.
He counted the pulse pumping through his neck,
calculating the aerobic benefit.
"You're gonna bust a vein," Michelle warned as they
"Negative!" Roy shouted, his face turning even brighter
"Are too," Michelle muttered to herself.
"Keep a lookout!" Roy ordered.
Michelle knew what they looked like: Frick and Flack,
Laurel and Hardy, Andy and Barney, Keystone Cops in an
Interpol world. All because Roy insisted on making
Apocalypse out of every little encounter with crime.
JOHNNY SWUNG the TV by his side and hefted it into the
sitting room. It was an ordinary place extraordinarily
furnished, filled with desks and end tables, each holding
a TV, sixteen with the Magnavox. There were Zeniths,
RCAS, GEs, Hitachis and one gorgeous, near-new Sony
Bravia which filled Johnny with pride.
IT HAD started by accident a month earlier. Johnny had
been jogging up one of the steep inclines that gave
Hilltown its name. A young couple, graduates of the local
teachers' college, moving to a bigger city, smaller
apartment and larger aspirations, had left their Quasar
unattended at the back of a yellow rental van. Johnny had
picked it up in stride. The weight was nothing; he
exercised daily when he wasn't working and he hadn't held
a job in two years. He approached thirty years of age,
but that was his secret. Except for the scars on his
face, he still had his boyish good looks, most of his
black, curly hair and a magnificent body. He had
developed his own revolutionary new exercise program,
stealing a couple of TVs a week, starting close, now
picking targets a mile from home. An easy warm-up jog, a
short wait by the window until a commercial signaled the
victim's trip to the refrigerator, then Johnny slipped in
the unlocked front door—no break-ins, he insisted—before
the sprint back to his house.
There'd been problems. DVRs were a constant hazard and
the new cable hookups could be treacherous. Johnny's
first one was screwed right into the set and even his
massive biceps couldn't wrench it free. The victim,
forty-year-old car mechanic Sam Teller, had tried to make
it to both the refrigerator and the bathroom during one
commercial break—not even station identification—and had
wandered back mid-theft, adjusting his fly with one hand,
grasping a cold hot dog with the other, which Johnny was
sure the poor sucker waved at him as Johnny absconded
with his Panasonic. Since then Johnny carried a pair of
wire-clippers. That's what he liked: a new challenge
every night. Tonight, for instance, Johnny had
encountered the police for the first time. A worthy
opponent, he felt, physically fit in an old-fashioned,
calisthenics kind of way, but burdened by legal
restraints, moral scruples and narrowness of vision.
It wasn't a job really; Johnny despised the idea. He
hadn't made a dime stealing TVs and didn't plan to. He'd
had his fill of jobs from the time he was sixteen:
loading, hauling, counting, hammering, putting things
together and taking them apart. By living simply he was
rid of money cares and planned to stay that way.
Stealing TVs wasn't sport, either—not organized anyway;
Johnny hated that too. Rules, equipment and uniforms—he
was done with that. Stealing TVs was a habit like
brushing your teeth, taking your vitamins or watching
reruns of Maverick.
Johnny added the new set to his collection, plugged it in
and screwed a cable to the back. He sank into the
tattered green couch and clicked through the channels:
The Office, Tonight Show, Taxi, Into the Night,
Nightline, Hart to Hart, TMZ, Video Log, Mad Men, Evening
at the Improv—a cornucopia of entertainment offerings and
most nights any of the shows would have served, but
tonight, in his excitement, Johnny wanted more. He
switched to the DVD. Rock 'n' roll throbbed—The Scuds,
It's not what you are, it's how you're lookin',
Give me a song and I'm cooking.
I'm your man and you ain't nothin',
Shake your butt, quit your cussin'.
An' BLAST ME! I said BLAST ME!
She was stunning, young and spectacular, over six feet
tall, even higher in spiked heels. She danced in sixteen
different-sized TV images, strutting like a wild ostrich
across Johnny's eyes.
Fry your brain like an egg on a pan,
You ain't heard rhymin' like your man can.
It makes you hot fit to boil,
Set to explode, like a snake in a coil.
So BLAST ME! I told you—BLAST ME!
Her name was Terri Beales. She flashed a sultry look into
the camera, a fan blew her thick brown hair over one
auburn eye. She smiled and winked and her wide mouth
moved upward on one side. Thick red lips pursed together
into a lemon-nasty kiss, an aqua g-string outlined wide
hips and giant, jutting buttocks. Long leg-muscles fought
a pink corset, white garters and black-lace stockings.
Her legs were ravishing, yet Johnny loved her breasts
most. Wrapped in a ruffled, electric-blue bra three sizes
too small, nipples pressing fabric, the zeppelin-shaped
protrusions flew to the beat, down and up, side to side
and once—Johnny switching to slow-motion—flying apart
like great globes repelled by electrostatic force, arcing
out and away, nearly knocking Terri off her feet, a pair
of planets bursting free at the first big bang. There was
something fundamental about her breasts, Johnny believed,
like the shape of Mother Earth, or the original apple
plucked from the first tree.
I snatched you like all the rest.
When you do me, you do the best.
When you're with me, there ain't no others,
'Cept slimeball geeks and dipshit mothers.
So BLAST ME! (Didn't you hear me, woman?)
It looked like a rock 'n' roll video all right—backlit
smoke poured in from the side and colored lights flashed
blue and orange. But the image stayed frozen and Terri
occasionally drifted off-screen. Then the camera panned
awkwardly, revealing the edges of the cheaply painted,
city-street backdrop, cutting Terri off at the knees,
then the neck, threatening to lose her altogether.
Johnny thought: beautiful. Classic. A statement—like a
good beer commercial.
The dry-ice vapor curled up Terri's nostrils until she
choked and coughed. The camera followed as she bent
double in convulsions. She waved the mist away and
stumbled off the set. The unrelenting camera stuck to her
like wet tar as she clamored up the basement stairs
seeking oxygen to fill her starving lungs.
Johnny clicked off the DVD. He was beginning to tire of
her. Too loose, too uncontrolled, too big. She possessed
none of the dancer's discipline and never would. Still,
her body was devastating and for the time being, in
Johnny's mind...she'll have to do. If she just had an
ounce of talent. Suck it up; it's your responsibility to
inspire her, to bring the best out of her, to find the
"You're the director!" Johnny boomed out loud. He jumped
off the couch, pumped his arms and worked himself into a
pep-rally fervor. Johnny checked his watch. 11:00 p.m.
Nightline going off, Rockford coming on. "It's time,
Johnny descended the creaky stairs to the hot, dank
basement. He stepped into the one large room, pulled the
string on the overhead light and illuminated the city
street backdrop propped against a rusty central pole.
Stage lights covered with colored gels pointed at the
scene, a video camera stood ready to shoot.
And Terri Beales slumped in front of it all.
Johnny crossed to the three horizontal freezers in the
corner. He opened the Amana. Cold, frosty air spit up at
him. He reached to a hook on the wall, jerked down his
leather gloves, pulled them on like a surgeon and seized
a huge hunk of dry ice. His muscles tightened, his face
turned red. With a groan, like timber straining in a
great gale, the ice broke free. Johnny threw the ice in a
bucket of water. The vapor rose. He switched on a fan and
blew the mist onto the set.
Her mouth gagged, her hands tied behind her back, her
breasts wrapped in shiny-aqua acetate, Terri Beales
slowly opened her pale, brown eyes—just barely.
A tiny, pitiful moan escaped Terri's blue, bloodless
"Wake up, Terri!" Johnny exclaimed. "It's showtime!"
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