McElroy is who contacted me: A young woman who kept up the appearance of being one of the cool kids even though you could tell it was more an aspiration of desperately not wanting to hit bottom again. Act as if. Long black hair and with a just so tightly wound lean but not too skinny look.
She called from Houston – about a murder – something about pills. Which reminded me I had not been by train to Texas yet. But then she started talking about Atlanta, which doesn’t really have a train, but she started talking about an Atlanta debutante who was going to throw a ball to raise money for a young man named Adam who she believed was wrongfully convicted in TN. And maybe it’s my effect on people, but before long she was confiding she was ELAN. Meaning she had been through a certain special purpose school, which sounded like a spy school; but Elan was not that, it was a last resort, far away from home, rehabilitation clinic for rich kids. Where those like Michael Skakel, a Kennedy, may or may not have confessed to killing his 15 year old Neighbor Martha Moxley etc. It was all over the press though much effort was made to keep it quiet. Or one could say ELAN.
“Where in Tennessee,” I asked.
“Grundy County,” she said – I could here her breath stop – she was waiting.
And quickly I found online that by Grundy, she was talking about the location of the trial, the county Courthouse where whatever wrongful conviction she was talking about took place. Me, I wanted the murder scene; and found it as McElroy started talking again. A god awful looking dirt town called Tracy City. Population 2400, median income – low – meth and drugs – high I’m sure. While McElroy continued talking I discovered that the Google Street-view Car had been to this hole in the fall of 2007, right around the time of the trial. And as I followed its photographic journey I was stunned at how thorough the driver was , hitting the smallest of dead end roads – and seriously doubt any other outsider had ever been allowed back there to photograph to get pictures like this – but then it could be that when the locals saw the Google Car, no one knew what it was up to.
The panoramic views down thin mountain roads was thrilling. Just wonderful street view photos of obscure rural Tennessee scenes in the late fall – the ground covered in fallen leaves of deep reds and purples. And oh so wicked trees jutting to the icy wind swept skies, whose barren limbs no longer keeping hid their mountain shacks, still strewn with old cars and laundry
“I wonder if the driver got out alive?” I typed into the text box.
“What?” replied McElroy.
“Oh nothing, I found some pictures.”
But Tracy City itself was sort of a dump, and how some estranged debutante like McElroy could be compelled to this shit hole is sort of concerning in the first place.
The whole county is oblivious pretty poor; but maybe had some money once. The old mining town getting it’s name from New York financier Samuel Tracy when the coal mines started – it is famous for arson and lost cars – houses being frequently “burned out” for insurance money and murder coverups . This seemed so mob-like. From tidbits in local online threads I gleaned a childlike anarchy as locals complained of the corrupt Sheriff’s stealing their drugs. The “Accidental” death rate I noticed was two to three times the state average. And as it was put to me – “I heard that there was more to it.” Accidents are plenty.
“Sounds like a fun place.” I said to McElroy. Knowing her northeast upbringing was sure to catch the sarcasm.
“And I hope the debutante ball went well.” I continued.
“Money.” I said.
“Oh yes, I know – you need money.”
As crazy as this ELAN alum might be I did have a project I needed funding, a film, and in the entertainment world waiting to meet a sane person to get backing from could mean forever. Though I didn’t really find her more nuts than anyone else I guess, and truthfully, sane people bore me – I bore myself when I act sane.
But I do have to interrupt to mention one quite peculiar thing she does when things get dicey. I first noticed it, well it would be hard to miss, but I first saw it when we came face to face with our first criminals up there – she started taking her clothes off. And not the way you do when one changes outfits.
It was at the make shift film office at the Fiery Gizzard Trail head, there was a youngish blonde haired spitball of a woman named Kasey who came either to audition, or to ague about the house I put on the movie poster – and when she got talking at me she suddenly realized in making her argument she had just said too much about being at Malcolm’s house around the murder. The air stood frozen — it was a lonely intersection for sure where I could tell her and her boyfriend were thinking we might be cops or lawyers. And off at the side I see there’s McElroy, half naked taking her clothes off. It was the first time I saw her nice round breasts though and I have to say the whole thing was getting me hot even though I thought there might be guns pulled any minute.
But the blonde woman’s green eyes, without looking, saw what was going on – she opened her mouth to speak:
“Oh, OK – well don’t let us bother you folks any more.” and she and the man just left.
I’m thinking about it now, maybe McElroy’s spontaneous striptease saved us both from getting shot. Can’t imagine what those two said to each other when they got in the car; though the woman did wind up pregnant pretty soon after that.”
“Maybe they got aroused.” I said to McElroy.
“What? Your disgusting.”
I told McElroy: You know – if we go up there we are going to have to take a dip into that gene pool. Get it on with some of the line-bred.
“Ewe,” she said in disgust – and I heard what she said, but I knew there was more to it.