During the wildest days of the 60s, time has fallen apart. Timequakes have fractured Los Angeles. Time Ravelers jump from place to place, from time to time, sorting out mysteries and disasters. One Time Raveler, a Vietnam veteran, is charged with finding out what happened to the lost boys of West Hollywood. It plunges him into a hidden landscape of desire and rage. In The Quake Zone is one of David Gerrold's most harrowing novellas, one of the best of the year.
"David Gerrold does it again. You'll find yourself rooting for the protagonist as he makes his journey from time-tremors to self-discovery and to love."– Amazon review
"One of the most powerful pieces of short literature I've read. I'd say this book has the power not only to bring out new ideas and thoughts, but to actually sway the opinions of the reader about subjects upon which their mind is already made up. The not-yet-forgotten setting does a lot to expose how selective we can be about remembering the past."– Goodreads review
Then one hot night in an August that still hasn't happened, Charles "Tex" Watson gets out of the car up on Cielo Drive and someone puts a carbon-fiber crossbow bolt right through his neck, even before he gets the gun out of his jacket. The girls start shrieking and two more of them take bolts, one of them right through the sternum, Sexie Sadie gets one in the head. The third girl, the Kasabian kid, goes screaming down the hill, and some redheaded kid in a white Nash Rambler nearly runs her down, never knowing that the alternative was having his brains splashed across the front seat of his parents' car. I didn't do it, but I knew the contract, knew who'd paid for it. Approved the outcome.
That was the turning point. After that, the judicial system learns to accommodate itself to preventive warrants, and most of the worst perps will be safe in protective custody weeks or even months before they have a chance to commit their atrocities. The question of punishment becomes one of pre-rehabilitation—is it possible? When can we let these folks back out on the streets? If ever. Do we have the right to detain someone on the grounds that they represent potential harm to others, even if no crime has been committed? The ethical questions will be argued for three decades. I don't know yet how it resolves, only that an uneasy accommodation will finally be achieved—something to the effect that there are no second chances, it's too time-consuming, pun intended; a judicial review of the facts, a signed warrant, and no, they don't call it pre-punishment. It's terminal prevention.
Meanwhile, it's the big agencies that get the star cases—save Marilyn and Elvis, save James Dean and Buddy Holly, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, Mike Todd, Lenny Bruce, RFK and Jimmy Hoffa. Stop Ernest Hemingway from sucking the bullet out of his gun and keep Tennessee Williams from choking to death on a bottle cap. Save Mama Cass and Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin and John Lennon. Some of those names don't mean anything yet, won't mean anything for years, but the size of the up-front money says everything—but we don't get those cases. The last one we bid on was Ramon Novarro, beaten to death with his own dildo by a couple of hustler-boys, but we didn't get that job either; and later on, after the Fatty Arbuckle thing, and that was a long reach back anyway, all of those cases went through the Hollywood Preservation Society, funded by the big studios.
No, it's the other cases, the little ones, the unsolved ones that fall through the cracks—those are the ones that keep the little agencies going. Most families can't afford five or six figure retainers, so they come to the smaller agencies, pennies in hand, desperate for help. "My little girl disappeared in June of '61, we don't know what happened, nobody ever found a trace." "I want to stop the man who's going to rape my sister." "My girl friend is going to have a baby. Can you stop the conception?" "My boy friend was shot next November, the police have no clue." "I was abused by my step-father when I was a child. Can you keep my Mom from ever meeting him?"
The Harris Agency had three or six or nine operatives, depending on when you asked. But some of them were the same operative, inadvertently (or maybe deliberately) time-folded. Eakins was a funny duck, all three of him, all ages. The Harris Agency didn't advertise, didn't have a sign on the door, didn't even have a phone, not a listed one anyway; you heard about it from a friend of a friend. We took the jobs that people didn't want to talk about, and sometimes we handled them in ways that even we didn't want to talk about.