Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Unkindest Cut of all...

[Second in a series about the surgeon, writer, and wife of a Hollywood producer, whose unpublished murder mysteries were allegedly predicated on real life killings she was believed, but never proven, to have committed. Based on interviews, court records, police records, archives and journalistic research that have only partially been made public. All names, and some locations, have been changed for legal reasons.]

She wrote of women who murdered men during
the act of lovemaking. Who killed men for sexual pleasure.
Was she writing about herself?

Book Deal

     Lane Dalquist knew how to use a blade.
     She was about to prove she knew how to use an IBM Selectric.
     Nina, a senior editor at one of the three largest publishing houses in the 1970s, had just read a draft of "Cut to the Kill."
     It was a sexy, murderous and gritty manuscript by Dalquist.
     Between Nina's recollections of the meeting years later, and Lane Dalquist's uncovered diary entries about their talk, a good record of the publishing discussion on the manuscript can be put together.
     "Not at all what I'd expected from you, Lane," Nina recalled telling Dalquist after she had read the manuscript.
     Dalquist, who had approached Nina through a friend, wasn't sure what to make of the comment.
     "Did you think it would be dreck? Or do you think it's dreck?" Dalquist's diary entries stated was her initial response.
     Nina, a scion of the publishing industry with a keen sense of what is good, and what sells in any market, had problems with the unpublished novel. But quality of writing wasn't one of them.
     The editor, attractive in the dry, intellectual way good looking women in the publishing industry often were, thought it was anything but "dreck."
     "Dreck. What a laugh. This is better than most of what we publish in the murder genre."
     "Than, you were surprised I could come up with something of that...caliber?" Lane responded.
     "I see I have to choose my words carefully with you Lane. What I meant was...your work's so real. It's frightening.
     "Good fiction doesn't have to be so believable, so plausible, so real, to be successful. But yours is. Normally, that would be frosting on the cake," Nina said. She let the implication of something askew sink in.
     "'Normally'," Lane repeated, picking up on the implied issue. "So it's not a positive? Am I sensing a problem?"
     Nina remembers cracking what she called a Kate Hepburn smile, pulling the glasses down on her aquiline nose, and looked Lane in the eye.
     "Lane. If you were only a writer, there would be no problem. If that's the word one wishes to use.
     "The fact is, you are a surgeon. Rare not only in that you're renowned, but you're also a woman in that still glass-celing-ed profession."
     Lane probably saw it coming.
     "So I'm a good...okay, excellent, surgeon who happens to be a woman. Does that mean I can't also write?"
     "Let's not play dumb, Lane. If anything, you are not lacking in acumen. You are a top surgeon, writing about a female surgeon who enjoys killing men when she's not saving people on the operating table. Hell, you could have made the protagonist a man, and we could have gotten away with it. But it's an attractive woman. People reading this are going to wonder if this isn't you?
     "If they realize you aren't out on Saturday nights picking up guys to slice, like a Jean the Ripper, they'll wonder if you wish you were."

Dalquist wanted her murderous femme fatale stories
published. Were they too realistic? Too believable, for a woman
like her to dare write?

     Dalquist must have taken an extra breath before answering. Nina was a friend of a friend who was doing Lane a favor. Lane didn't wish to cause problems for that friend. Or blow the connection.
     "Nina, do you think I've a secret desire is to hang out at sports bars on weekends, pick up men to screw, then stick knives into them? I'm flattered, but..."
     Nina remembers cutting Dalquist off.
     "Not in the least. You forget, I'm an editor. I know writers. The psychotica I've seen come out of people's heads on their IBM Selectrics long ago ceased shocking my Radcliffe sensibilities. I understand the creative process. At least to the extent I know that writing about something doesn't mean you want to do it. Most of the time anyway"
     "This is a business Lane. You, whether you're aware of it or not, are also in a business. Colleagues, prospective patients, reading this, or know that you have written it...well, you would see problems in your own field.
     "But in publishing, critics would be the first to snipe. Talentless dipsos wishing they knew how to write something other than a grocery list. They'll tear you apart. If we were Playboy, the controversy would be perfect. But, we're a bit more stately than that. Stodgy, if it makes you feel better," Nina said she took pains to explain.
     "Controversy sells," Lane protested.
     "Sure. If you're Mandy Rice Davies. Or a notorious starlet. But if you're a respected member of society, publishing this type of book would be like throwing your career, your life, in a garbage disposal to sell a novel. It's unseemly. We won't participate in that kind of publishing. And neither should you."
     "I like writing murder mysteries," Lane said, with enough obstinance her own diary makes a note of it.
     "Make it a...a National League baseball coach who kills opposition players. Or ex wives. But not this Lane. It doesn't work. Not for us. And not really for you."
     "What about a surgeon who kills book publishers for not printing her books," Lane said with barely enough humor to avoid offend, Nina chuckled remembering.
     "Cute Lane. Look, I love your writing. It's amazing. But, given who you are, this subject matter just won't fly. Unless you get a pulp publisher interested, you'll find I'm not alone. Everyone will tell you this."

Hollywood Party

     About 10 months after the meet with Nina, Dalquist and her husband were at Perino's.
     Rob, an executive producer, had the cache of a lovely wife who, even in her early 40s, trumped the most beautiful Hollywood trophy wives.
     She not only looked ravishing, but could walk, talk, and trade wit with the most droll Hollywood types. Their marriage was even considered intact. A rarity by Hollywood standards.
     And, basically, it was. Rob, a rakishly handsome salt and pepper-haired player in the town, would dally, but with only the most discretion.
     Aware that his wife "probably strayed once in a blue moon" as well, Rob for the most part thought Lane's extra curricular activities were limited to traveling to different cities for medical conferences. And to get away to write her steamy, unpublished, slasher novels. Which he had never actually read.
     His lack of interest in reading her endeavors didn't prevent him from trying to help her. He had introduced Lane to one industry friend, who knew Nina at the publishing house. Nina who, unfortunately, turned down  Lane's first work.
     But Rob truly loved his stunning, intelligent wife, and was taking another shot at helping her this evening.
     "Stu, you've met my wife, Lane."
     "Right. In passing at the benefit last summer, no?"
     Lane nodded and extended her hand.

In 1981 Lane's sexy, murderous female protagonist was 10 years
ahead of her time. 10 years before 'Basic Instinct', for instance, would be made.

     "Blows my mind I didn't mention it, but, Lane here's been writing for awhile. Novels. A cut above the crap we crank out. But I'm sure something might be scriptable. Nice and bloody. Lotsa sex. Maybe she'll let you see a page or two," Rob promoted. All the while, never having read a word of her stuff himself.
     "Leave her to me," Stu grinned as Rob excused himself to make the rounds.
     Years later Stu would recall candidly, "I thought, okay, he's leaving me with his wife. Cool. She's gorgeous. But a writer? Every jackhole in Lalaland is a writer. I'll humor her while copping a few looks down her dress."
     After a few minutes, though, he was more interested in reading her manuscript than grabbing a look.
     "In Hollywood you decide everything in five seconds. Actors are a dime a dozen. A CD (casting director) can make a decision in seconds without having to waste their day. Same with everyone in the biz.
     "I was expecting Lane to be a slightly more intelligent than bimbo-grade chat. After all, I'd spoken with her before. She knew her own name, so she wasn't your typical idiot. I asked her what she had cookin' on the page. After two sentences I thought, 'Shit, Rob married a few floors above himself with this doll.'
     "It had an edge. Best, she wasn't trying to sell herself. She'd been turned down by Random House because her stuff was too good. Sure, I hear that crap all the time. But, you know, you can tell when someone's jacking you."
     The seasoned scriptwriter had Lane get a copy of what she'd been working on lately over to him the next day, and said he was more than impressed.
     "It was...hate to say it, too good. If I could crank out crap like that I'd never have to do TV again. This was major league.
     "Of course, what can you do with a natural like that? No one's gonna produce a newbie. Someone who hasn't paid dues. And this was a hobby for Rob's wife. But I wanted to see something come of it."
     Stewart said he hoped to get her piece into any project. Just to get her some cred, if nothing else. So she'd be a step up with her next script. If she wanted to go that route.
     "I found a chapter that could be inserted into something being shot around town. Her writing was like a screenplay already. Visual. Nice dialogue. I could format it and shoot it to someone, and bang. She'd have a resume."

A mediocre film, 'Lassiter', was in production at the time.
It was a strange flick to put one of Lane's 'woman snuffs man'
erotic scenes into. But, that's exactly what would happen.

     Asked what the piece was about, the veteran scriptwriter turned red.
     "Ya know, I could tell you without blushing if it had been badly written. But, it was like, you were there. That made it believable. Like I was in the room watching. So...get my drift?"
      What else could make a veteran Hollywood scriptwriter blush? Stewart went into what had been in Lane's chapter.
     "It was, and this freaked me out, about this hot forties-something chic surgeon, who picks up on this guy at the Century Plaza bar. Takes him up the coast to some motel past Malibu. Screws his livin' brains out. Way she wrote it, I was in the room. Fuck. You can't make up stuff like that. I thought, Rob, you are one lucky s.o.b. ."
     But that alone wasn't what embarrassed the journeyman writer.
     "After she does him, they rest. Get their strength back, and have another go. This time, it's 'Basic Instinct.' But this is 10 years before that flick ever came out. She was ahead of the curve by a decade. And, believe me, this was better."
     The second time around in the Malibu bungalow, the reader is made aware the woman has stuck a spike-shaped surgical instrument into the bottom of the mattress where, during sex, she can easily grab it. Stewart tells what's next...

Lauren Hutton plays a Nazi killing a British spy as she made
love to him in 'Lassiter'. Virtually, exactly, out of Dalquist's
unpublished chapter. Was it written from Lane's
own real experience?

     "The kinky thing is, she is hot for the guy. Not just sex. Ya think she's gonna hit this guy with, 'Let's run away together.' But, nahhh.
     "Instead, she reaches down, pulls this thing out of the side, or under, the mattress, and as she's screwin' him from here to eternity, she pulls his head up to her breast. He starts kissing her. She's, like, on the road to nirvana. I'm not talkin' about a Hope and Crosby picture.
     "What does she do? She puts this spike behind his head, and as she's fucking him good, she sticks it into the base of his skull. She's a surgeon, so she knows what she's doing. He's not aware he's been nailed while he's nailing her. But he knows something just happened.
     "The guy looks at her like, 'What was that?' She looks back, into his eyes...I can't describe how she wrote it. Like she's in love with the guy. And she's in love with killing him. The whole thing gets tender. Weird. Super kinky.
     "She caresses him. Lowers his head back down on the pillow while he's dying. They're both lookin' into each other's eyes, and, as he's kicking the bucket, she has her orgasm. He's still barely alive while she's comin', and she kisses the poor schmuck between the eyes as she has her final chills and thrills. And as she's done with the big O, he finally dies. She whispers somethin' sweet to him. And it's all over."
     "What do you do with something like that. After I took a cold shower, I thought of a few projects around town that could use a 'she kills him' scene. Detective. Psycho thriller. Horror.
     "You'll never believe who had a slot for it?"
     Stewart said a Tom Selleck project for the big screen was in production, with Lauren Hutton as a sadistic Nazi spy. "Not a bad flick. Nothing you'd pay to see. And no one did. But, if you watch it, there's one scene in there (that) leaves the rest of it behind."
     Stewart said it was the scene he rewrote from Dalquist, and messengered over to the production office.
     "I didn't know too much about the flick. I just got Lane's pages into script form and to 'em so they could have their boys do something with it that worked. Apparently, it inspired the best couple of minutes of the entire thing."

The theory had arisen that Lane Dalquist had done
the murders she so convincingly wrote about. Men killed
during intercourse with her. For her bizarre, erotic pleasure.

     In the movie, Stewart says, Nazi spy Lauren Hutton is in bed with a British spy. Doing it. With almost no dialogue, the rest of the scene plays out like what Stewart said he'd read from Lane's chapter.
     "I kept my rewrite tight. And whoever shot the piece, probably second unit, took the ball and ran with it. The rest of the movie plays like Magnum P.I. takes a trip to World War II. Hokey.
     "But this piece. Maybe less than a minute, it's hot. Might get you an 'X' rating even today. Plays like a snuff film. Lauren Hutton in her peak offing a guy as she fucks him? As she comes?
     "Whatever Rob's wife wrote, I just passed it on, and it was hot enough they left it alone, and put it into that movie. Don't ask me how she came up with it. (I) still get the chills thinkin' about the first time I read it."

     Asked about later theories that Lane Dalquist had written autobiographical accounts for that chapter, and other novels which were uncovered years later, after her suicide at 55, Stewart defers.
     "I'm a Hollywood writer. I wouldn't know reality if it bit me in the ass. And I still have a lot of friends in this town. The answer to your question, from me anyways, is, that lady sure could write. That's all I'm gonna say."
---Reston Cane

[to be continued...]

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Surgeon's Daughter

[From court records, journalist records, published and unpublished, unreleased police records, and other published material. Names and locales have been changed per legal requirements.--Reston Cane]

The Surgeon's Daughter

Lane Dalquist was the strikingly attractive daughter of a respected Swedish surgeon and his operating room nurse wife.

The parents had met while saving lives at St. Erik's hospital in Stockholm, at times under highly stressful conditions.

Lane's tall, good looks were not attributes appreciated at university in the United States, where she pursued her medical career. A career not as a nurse, but as a surgeon.

In the U.S. of the early 1960s, the idea that women were equals in the medical field, particularly surgery, was not widely held. Especially for women, such as Lane Dalquist, who looked like Debra Kerr or Grace Kelly.

However, Dalquist had several attributes swinging the odds back in her favor. A searing intellect. And a just as searing drive to succeed, which she received from her father.
Additionally, support from her parents, who had moved to the U.S. when Lane was four, was strong.


On a late 60s summery night in Chicago, Rod Allen was out for a drink after a long day trading. Rod was a 34-year-old financial specialist born and raised in the windy city, who worked hard trading stocks for his clients in a mid-range financial institution.

Nice looking, smart, friends and associates chided him for working too hard and playing too little. That work ethic resulted in not only his being single, but without a girlfriend and dateless since joining the firm almost a year earlier.

Rod Allen ended up in his local pub for a drink,
and to watch the Cubs lose another. Instead, he
would meet 'her'

Rod cut a nice figure as he walked into one of his regular sports bar haunts late after work that summer evening.

Smartly dressed even as his tie hung disheveled after a long day on the exchange, he took a quick look around the bar before sitting down. He chose a chair not too close, but not too far, from a good-looking blonde nursing an umbrella drink, and watching the Mets trounce the Cubs on the tv over the bar.

"A Schlitz on tap and keep the tab open Sully," the bartender later recalled Allen saying.
In between staring at the dismal game on the oversized tv, and slurps of Schlitz, Rod snuck glances at the woman down the bar. She had on attractive, if conservative, expensive clothes.

No wedding ring. And very nice legs. They were crossed, forcing the below-the-knee skirt to expose her legs up to the mid-thigh. Rod was a leg man.

The woman returned a few looks that were not unfriendly. Rod eventually made direct eye contact, and called down the bar.

"If you're collecting umbrellas, I'd be happy to get you another one of whatever you're drinking. I'm a collector myself," he joked, successfully.

He couldn't keep his eyes off her legs. They
would turn out to be deadly legs.

"Maybe I don't collect umbrellas. Maybe I collect men," she said with a dry, but beckoning edge.

Rod was bright, and liked the wit. And the edge. He didn't find too many powerful women in the corporate world who, despite their intelligence, could joke about themselves.

"A dangerous woman," he smiled. "I like it."

The woman was seated in the mid part of the bar, where the light was lower. If anything, she did not make an effort to have her face seen. One patron that night recalled, "she seemed to me to want to check others out, but didn't like the visa versa."

Apparently she wanted to be seen by Allen, and the two ended up in a dark booth together, not paying attention to the beating the Cubs were taking.

They were pegged as leaving the bar in the ninth inning. That struck the bartender as a change of pace for Allen, a semi-regular at the pub.

"The guy was such a regular Joe. Which around these parts means, die hard Cubbie. He got lucky that night, but still. I'd never seen him leave before the final nail was in his Cubs coffin," the barman recalled.

A tall, attractive, well-dressed blonde was apparently, and understandably, of more interest to Allen than a perpetually losing home team. Even one he loved.

He left with the woman, arm about her waist, walking her to her car.


If Rod Allen thought he won the lottery by walking a lovely, intelligent woman to her car, he was in for a bigger surprise.

"If your car is close by, why don't we find a secluded spot to enjoy the harbor. I'm a tourista. You're the hometown boy," his new friend suggested.

Rod and his new lady friend took off in his Camaro
to find a secluded spot on North Lake Shore Drive.

They walked across to Rod's '67 Camaro, and took the romantic drive of his life. Literally.

Whatever the 34-year-old, good-looking and lonely bachelor thought was a romantic secluded spot, didn't meet the criteria of his lady friend.

Rod was happy to please, and kept driving until finding what she preferred.

It was the definition of secluded. "Hope we can get her started when it's time to go. Might take a couple of days for someone to find us here," he quipped with an hint of friendly sarcasm. Rather than take offense, the remark pleased his friendly passenger. It was perfect for the tryst she had planned.


"So, I never asked what you do," Rod awkwardly small-talked as they looked out over the Chicago Harbor.

For all his handsome looks, savvy trading on the exchange, and easy rapport in social situations, he was not as confident, or at ease, regarding romance.

Allen would have no problem this evening, thought. At least not in being desired by his date.

She chose the place along the Chicago Harbor where
they would be alone. Truly, dangerously, alone.

"You don't have to make small talk," she reassured.

She moved close and took his chiseled jaw in the long, slender fingers of her hands. Her fingers were so long and beautiful Allen thought they were those of a concert pianist. Or surgeon.

Rod was soon in the heaviest make-out session in a car since high school. He wasn't complaining.

Wet kisses were accompanied by her guiding his hand between her long, well-formed thighs. Where Rod expected panties, there were none.

"Does that bother you?," she smiled warmly, as he did a double take.

"No...uh, no. I just thought tonight was going to be beers and Cubs. This is a very nice left turn."

She continued the hot kisses. He continued returning them.

And the woman didn't force his diffident hand up past her thighs, but let him proceed at his own speed. To where she wanted him to touch her.

Penetrating Experience

Allen's jacket was off. Removed by the blonde as she ravenously kissed him.

The stock trader would not need to push his conversational skills any further this evening. It was all going his way.

He had joked about her being a dangerous woman.
Rod Allen had no idea, as she kissed him, how dangerous.

A welcome break from the romantically solitary life he had been used to since his last girlfriend. Four years earlier.

This blonde, despite her passion, was something of a mystery. She wasn't from Chicago. Other than that, and that she dressed well, expensively, and was beautiful, he knew nothing about her.

Would he see her again? How far would they go tonight?

As these questions bounced around his head, Rod felt something. Some sort of sensation, below his chest.

It seemed to be inside him. Maybe not. Maybe she was just grabbing him. Giving him a massage with her long fingers. While she raped him with her mouth.

It didn't hurt. But it was some sort of undefined sensation. He opened his eyes from the kissing, and saw her staring into them. Her own eyes seemed to dance. To be looking into his soul.

She pulled back, millimeters from his mouth. And breathed in his breath. Looked deep, searchingly into his eyes.

His own eyes questioned what he was feeling. There was no real pain. But, nevertheless. It was curious.

"Relax. Everything's going to be okay. I'll take care of you," she said calmly.

Sex for her involved more than just physical intimacy.

Strange. She was reassuring him. How did she know he needed reassurance? What was happening?

Or, what was she doing?

Rod was about to ask what she meant by, 'relax'. But then, all of a sudden, he felt very relaxed.

Even faint.

He tried to look down, but she caught his mouth in hers with a wet kiss, and stopped him.

When she was done with that, she held his jaw with her left hand. Her right was somewhere else. She still prevented him from looking down.

"It's okay. I'm here with you," she cooed.

The woman could see he was weakened. Under her control. Completely now.

She removed her hand from his jaw, and he immediately looked down.

Rod Allen was incredulous. Shocked at what he saw.

He saw red. And lots of it.

Literally. Red. Below his sternum. Somewhere down there. He didn't know, or see exactly where.

Blood had been let loose as if a dam were opened.

The entire front section of his shirt below the chest, his expensive white Arrow shirt, now looked like half an American flag that had been badly printed. Red and white.

Out of the mess he could see her beautiful hand holding something. Her long fingers wrapped around something black. A handle of some sort?

Allen soon found out.

Quickly, and expertly, she pulled whatever it was out, and then smoothly, and with specificity, put it back into him.

He was woozy. But he could make it out.

It was a knife.

He had a knife in him. And Allen had just seen her pull it out, and place it back into his body.

Oddly, he had felt next to nothing. Was it an illusion? Had she dropped acid into his drink at the bar? How could she have just stabbed him twice, and he barely felt it?

No pain. Only a mild sensation. And now he felt like he was fainting.

He was fainting.

The Evening Ends

Rod understood now. Not fully. Not why.

But, he understood that she actually had stabbed him. He was sure he was now dying.

After it was over, she walked away from the Camaro,
into the night. Found a hotel, where she called for a cab,
and got a ride back to her car. She would never see Rod Allen again.

He didn't have time to even ask her what was going on.

Why she did it.

He was now so faint from the loss of blood, he could only look into her beautiful eyes. They were wild. Manic.

Allen hadn't realized it, but the sensation, of the stabbing, had occurred just as his hand had gone into her.

Between her legs. Into her wetness. Her sexual organs.

His mind, his life, was going. But he realized she stuck her knife into him, at the moment he was, with her encouragement, putting his fingers into her.

As their eyes looked deep into each other, he saw her begin to shudder. He hadn't hurt her. He hadn't raped her. Done anything against her will. Why was she...

Then he knew.

She was having a climax. An orgasm.

His fingers still in her. He, too weak to remove them.

She was climaxing as she was killing him. Indeed, it appeared she was climaxing as a result of killing him.

As this all patched together in his mind, Rod saw her fully realizing her orgasm.

In an abrupt motion, and as she pulled her knife from him, which would accelerate the inner bleeding ending Rod's life, she covered his open mouth with hers.

Thrust her tongue deep. Their tongues wrestled.

Rod yielded, for lack of energy, to her powerful, hungry motions. She sucked his tongue into her mouth. As if it were a penis she wanted deep in her.

Now he could feel himself dying. Painlessly. Losing consciousness.

Whatever she had done, she had done it well. Expertly. As well as a surgeon might have.

Finally, he felt the end. Her mouth pressed deep, wet against his own. His fingers in her. Feeling her lovely wetness.

Then, for him, blackness. Nothing.

She had killed him. It had been a murder.

And, an act of sex. Even love. Perhaps.

[first of a series from, 'The Surgeon's Daughter']