The Acting Couch from Ghost Stories from the Ghosts’ Point of View, Vol 3.

The Acting Couch

Hollywood is frequented by untold numbers of emotionally empty, desperate souls seeking the limelight. Yet the light they seek can never be found in the studios, production back lots, stage spotlights, movie theaters or television studios they endlessly haunt. There are thousands of ghosts patrolling the sidewalks of embedded stars, moving in and out of seedy bars that line Sunset and Vine, seeking that last desperate sip of whiskey or that last hope of fame. Other ghosts are stuck in the decades-old homes that elegantly grace Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Los Feliz, and the Hollywood Hills. They also fill the less glamorous condos, bungalows and apartments throughout Hollywood and the greater Los Angeles area.

Foreshadowing the Darkness

The cinematic ghosts of Hollywood who have so colorfully lit up the silver screen do not hold a candle to the apparitions who constantly frequent the homes of the living, looking for help, or recognition. However, there are other ghosts, those unexpected souls who have no idea that they live in an empty city of dreams, and although they may be trapped in a different dimension they still want their most basic dream to come true.

Perhaps my level of insight made me rather wistful as I agreed to help my new clients who live not too far from Hollywood Boulevard.

“Hi Tina, Conrad and I got this newly renovated condo and we need you to look at it. Since we moved in, things have not been the same between us. We love each other, but we fight all the time. Both of us feel ‘off’, you know? Like something is terribly out of balance and we just can’t make it right. Oh, and we feel sad. Sometimes we feel nauseated with stomach pains for no reason and then suddenly the pain is gone. This condo is so weird. Conrad has agreed with your remote viewing it. He feels all this peculiar stuff too.”

“Sure, Julie, I’ll be glad to look around and see what I can do. Is there anything else you want to share and at the same time, not give me too much detail? I don’t want to ‘find it’ because you already told me it was there.”

“Well, we seem to be having a constant problem with that nagging sense that there is someone there. That shadow out of the corner of your eye never seems to be gone.”

“Thanks, time to get to work.”

Even before I began I also felt a sickening and oppressive sense of sadness that seemed to cloud the edges of my moments right before I began the remote view. I could feel – something. Something unseen but not un-felt, something that needed resolution and an unusual level of compassion.

“Are you an agent?”

I had no sooner started working on this condo when I saw her standing there, complaining to no one in particular about how unhappy she was with her life. She seemed to notice me immediately.

“Have you come to help me get a part? Are you an agent? How did you hear about me? I guess you already know that my name is Belle Lawrence.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Belle.” She may have never had an acting part, may never have had her name known by anyone other than her landlord, but her presence could be easily felt even 75 years after she left that space.

She was old, perhaps in her late sixties when she presented herself to me but that actress aspect never left her personality. Her dream kept her in this apartment.

“Um, I’m not exactly the kind of agent you’re thinking of, but I can help you. I do represent someone pretty high up. Is Belle your real name?”

“No, I made up that name so that it would look good up on that there big screen in them movie houses. I wanted my family to see that I did come to some good. My daddy said I would always come to no good but that ain’t true. I – I could have made it. I know it.”

I could hear her, almost as if she turned away from me and began talking to herself again, as if she was still pacing the floor of (what would have then been) her apartment. “Can you tell me what happened to you in this apartment? Did you ever get any acting parts?”
“Help me please! I don’t understand! How come there was always a couch in the producer’s office? How come my acting ability, pretty face and body weren’t enough for that producer or director to know that I could act the part, do the job, hit my marks, know my lines? All I wanted to do was to be in them silent pictures! I wanted my family back home to see me up on the big screen in that movie house and know that I made it!”

“I know, Belle. I can only imagine how hard you tried. Tell me what happened to you. Please.”

“I tried to tell my family, a whole bunch of times, especially after. You know . . . after.”

“No, I’m sorry, I don’t know what you mean. I’ve got plenty of time. Tell me what you mean when you say the ‘after’ time. Perhaps you had better start at the beginning, when you decided to come to Hollywood and be famous.”

Stars in My Eyes

“My papa always said I had stars in my eyes and that was how come I never could see clearly. Papa said I would come to no good. I don’t know why he always treated me so bad but he told me that over and over, you know, that I was ‘no good.’ But I didn’t believe it. Mama said I was such a pretty young thing and so smart. How could Papa see me so different like; I reckon he didn’t really see me at all.

“Mama said it was probably because he done wanted a boy and I was just another useless girl. It weren’t my fault I was a girl. I guess when you ain’t wanted, when you ain’t worth nothin’, you gotta’ go prove you’re ‘somebody.’

“I loved them picture shows. Them beautiful ladies looked like they was havin’ so much fun. They looked happy and I ain’t never really been happy. So I saved up all my egg money and set out for Los Angeles from my tiny town in Iowa. I just knew there was more to life than farmin’ an raisin’ livestock.

“I got me a one-way bus ticket to LA – that’s what I called it, – to Los Angeles so I could be in them picture shows on that there big screen. Then lots of folks would love me and finally I’d be somebody and Papa and Momma would be proud of me. Then he’d be darn proud that I was a girl, now, not a useless girl.”

The defiance in her tone, showed her stubborn resolve to make something of herself.

“And Belle, what happened when you got here? What year was it? What was it like for you at that time?”

Belle looked at me and then looked around her apartment as if it still looked like it did then. She sat down on what would have been the only chair she had in the room back then. Then she looked up at me with such anguish. Very probably her lament was the same for thousands of other young ingénues who believed that they could become the next Mary Pickford or Greta Garbo. The years before the Depression were so hard and it was especially difficult for single women to make a living. Hollywood must have looked so easy, so inviting. All you have to do is memorize your lines, learn your marks and you can become a star! There was not even that much acting to do with silent pictures. If only it were all that simple.

“I ‘member gettin’ off of that bus and feelin’ the pure glory of that warm California sun. It was April 1925. My dream had come true. I was here. I had started! I did what I said I’d do! But I had no place to live so I found me a boardin’ house to stay in and then I quickly got me a job waitin’ tables. I had heard that if you waited tables, that maybe a big time producer or director would see you and you could be ‘discovered.’ That was my dream.

“There were other young women there, livin’ at that boardin’ house and one of them asked me if I could ‘act.’ I said yes even though I couldn’t really act. She said I was lucky because she went on a casting call and was told that she couldn’t act and she didn’t get the part. So I got me another job to pay for actin’ lessons. I couldn’t afford many but I figured they were silent pictures and I had watched so many of them pretty girls just mouthin’ their lines. After a couple of weeks I felt like I could handle it, so I kept the second job and then got a real tiny cheap apartment. I worked my jobs so that I could go on all the casting calls and I’d be okay.”

“Did you get many casting calls? How did you find out about them?”

“Them studios posted the jobs they had for extra folks and even real actresses on a bulletin board outside of the entrance of the studios. I studied those posts every day. I went on every casting call. It was all so excitin’ I guess until – until it wasn’t, well I just wasn’t prepared for it that’s all.”

“What weren’t you prepared for Belle?”

“I – I wasn’t prepared for all them producers or directors, or whatever they was called. I didn’t know. Nobody warned me. I didn’t know what to do.”

The Lamb in the Lion’s Lair

Her face contorted into a pout. Something happened to her. I had a sick feeling I knew what it was.

“I remember that on one castin’ call, this here producer said that he liked my face and he called me over. He said that I might be right for the character I was reading for even though nobody was ever gonna hear my voice.

“I was so excited, I couldn’t breathe, you know? Finally, someone saw me. I was somebody! I couldn’t believe it. That there director said that there was a love scene in the movie and he wanted to see if I could act. He told me to come back later that day so I could rehearse with him.”

“And did you go back and rehearse with him?”

“Yeah, I did. I put on the only real pretty dress I had. Another actress did my hair and put a little makeup on me, so you know, so that I would look professional-like and I was there, right on time, ready to rehearse. And he was there, working on scripts or somethin’ and he had me wait for a while before he called me in. He told his secretary she could leave. She looked at me real funny, not friendly like at all. I couldn’t understand why. I felt a little uncomfortable bein’ there alone with him. But I wanted that part so my papa would be proud of me.”

“What happened?”

“He finally called me in and I stood there for a few minutes ‘til he looked up at me. Then he told me to turn around real slow-like. He said he wanted to see ‘how I moved.’ So I did that.

“Then he handed me a script page and asked me to read it out loud to him. I was confused ‘cause I thought all I had to do was mouth the lines, but he said that real soon, sound was coming to the movies and actresses would have to talk out loud and he wanted to hear how I sounded. He said he wanted to see if I was everything the part required.

“I remember he nodded his head at all the stuff I did and he said I was doin’ a great job. Then he handed me another script page and it was a love scene. I had been standin’ all this time. He says that he’ll ‘run lines’ with me if I just sit on the little couch he has right here.

“So I did. I sat on the couch and then he sat next to me. The scene called for a kiss. I remember those movin’ pictures and people just barely kissed so I figured that was all he wanted.

“But it wasn’t all he wanted. He pulled me toward him and I resisted. He said movies were changin’ and that love scenes were becomin’ more and more visible, especially with ‘talkies’ as he called them. He had to see how I would react in a real love scene with a real man. He pulled me to him, this time real slow and I – I let him do this. And he then began to put his arms around me. I felt myself pull away from him, ‘cause somethin’ felt wrong about this.

“He was a short, fat, ugly man. His breath smelt like cigars an’ coffee and his black hair was all greasy. He told me I had to ‘run my fingers through his hair’ ‘cause that’s what the scene would call for. I was gettin’ more and more nervous like, you know?

“But I did what he asked. Then he said I had to really kiss him, not fake it, but really give him a kiss – on his lips. Well I ain’t never kissed a boy even back home, so I give him a peck on his fat cheek. He laughed out loud. I felt real stupid and I was gettin’ a scared feelin’ in my stomach.

“He took his time and he pulled me to him and he made me do this over and over till I got it right. Then he made me kiss him over and over and he made the kissin’ part more forceful like. He was a strong man. I reckon he done kissed me maybe 10 times and he made me start over and over where he pulled me to him and he kissed me.

“Then there was the final time that he pulled me to him and he kissed me real hard that time, harder than before. I tried to pull away, but he was so fast, he turned me around and laid me down on his big brown couch and he said he wanted to look at me lyin’ there. Then before I knew it he took his pants down. I ain’t never seen man parts like that before and then . . . he took terrible advantage of me.

“I believed that your ‘first time’ was supposed to be special, not violent like this, not make me want to vomit.

“I didn’t think it would ever be over. He smelled of BO. I started to cry when he was doin’ this to me. And then I – I couldn’t stop cryin’. He got mad at me and yelled at me to shut up.

“Then he screamed at me to get out, that I was a terrible actress and I wasn’t right for his part. I remember thinkin’ that all I had to do to be an actress was mouth my lines. . . .”

If only that was all you had to do. What this young woman never quite realized sitting on the farm in her flat Midwestern state, was that you also had to navigate through the male-dominated politics of the studio system. You especially had to gauge how to handle yourself in the offices of the barely concealed rapists that would describe many a Hollywood producer and director. These men routinely took reckless and disgusting advantage of these hopeful young women.

Denial

“Belle, how did you recover from that rape? Did you report him, tell the police, or tell anyone?” I already knew the answer, but I had to ask her, had to help her get her story out.

“No, no, I didn’t tell nobody. I felt like I didn’t know who I was, that the ‘Belle’ who walked into that office died in there, and another girl walked out. I went home and took a bath and I cried for a long time. I didn’t go on auditions for a week and then I got up my courage and tried again. I told myself that it would be different in the future. I understood how things worked now.”

“Were things different for you Belle? Did you finally get parts?”

“No, it wasn’t parts I got. It took me a while to realize, that what I got, was pregnant. I didn’t think you could get pregnant the very first time you had sex. I guess I

was denyin’ it at first. I was pretenden’ I was just gettin’ fat. I wore big clothes to hide my belly. I didn’t know many people, didn’t have many friends, certainly not friends I could ask for help. I was one of them girls who got ‘in trouble.’ I was so ashamed.”

‘In trouble’ was that cruel label used to describe a girl pregnant outside of wedlock.

“I lost my figure real fast. I knew there was such a thing as getting’ rid of the baby, but I didn’t know who I was gonna’ ask. I had no money to pay anyway. What was I gonna’ do?

“My two jobs barely paid for my apartment and the little bit of food I allowed myself. I still wanted to go for auditions but as the weeks and months passed, my belly began to show, and I had to stop going to the studios. I counted myself lucky to still have my waitressin’ jobs.

“Then the baby came and labor was hard. I was so alone. I took a cab to the hospital and had the baby. I left as soon as I could. When they handed me this pink, wigglin’ little girl, my heart sank ‘stead of bein’ filled with delight. I named her Sarah Jane but I don’t know why I picked that name – maybe after Sarah Burnhardt?

“I didn’t know how to nurse no baby. There was no crib, or baby clothes. This wasn’t ever going to work. The baby cried and cried. I couldn’t stand the cryin’. I bought rat poison and fed it to the baby until she died – which wasn’t very long.

“I killed my baby. I told myself I would have been a terrible mother anyway. I had always been a good Christian girl and now – now I had killed my baby.

“I worked real hard to get that pregnancy weight off my body so I would look good in clothes again. I went to more auditions. I was gettin’ better and better at this acting stuff, learnin’ lines and understandin’ what the studios wanted.

“But always there was the sex part with the director, producer or casting director. I began to wonder who I was. I never did figure out how to meet with these men and not get taken advantage of, you know in that private way.

“You ain’t gonna believe this, but I got pregnant three more times. I had a baby every year for four years. I named them JoJo, Frank and Baby Mae. And I poisoned each of them right after they was born ‘cause I couldn’t ever go back home to the Midwest with them. My family would never have accepted me with four bastard kids from four different fathers. The scandal! Oh my mamma and papa would have disowned me. I’da been an outcast in my own small town. My ‘children’ weren’t never gonna’ be accepted. Everyone would have called them bastards.

“I didn’t want to go home a failure; still “good for nothin’” as my papa believed. I reckon that givin’ up and denyin’ my dream was not something I could face at least the first three times. Sometimes I felt horrible for what I did. Sometimes I simply didn’t feel nothin’ at all when I thought about how I murdered my own kids. It was almost as if sometimes I guess I was plumb separated from that murderous woman I had become – almost.

“I disposed of their little bodies by wrapping them in old newspaper and puttin’ them in a trashcan down the street. I’d slip out in the middle of the night so that no one could see me, could see how horrible a mother I was.”

Getting Away with Murder

“After killin’ the 4th child, Baby Mae, somethin’ inside of me died with her. I gave up on my dream, my bein’ an actress. I took the last of my waitressen’ money and bought a ticket home. I cried that whole bus trip back to Iowa. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I sure weren’t no Belle Lawrence: actress. I went back to bein’ Becky Sue Jones.

“Becky Sue or – uh – Belle, what did you decide to tell your family on that long ride home?”

I imagined that trip was her final descent into downheartedness: dreams shattered, body violated, sense of self, destroyed.

“How was I gonna’ face my family, especially after I had told them about all of my auditions? They was so excited for me. What could I say? I knew I would face the shame of havin’ failed at makin’ my Hollywood dream come true, but I plum didn’t have it in me to face another producer and his damned couch. I couldn’t bear to have another baby and kill another little body.

“I thought long and hard about what to tell my mamma and papa but when I got there, I walked in the house and said I was home for good. I reckon there was somethin’ about the way I said it that they didn’t ask me no more questions. No one ever mentioned Hollywood again.

Life After Hollywood

“Becky Sue, how did you live the rest of your life?”

“I never got married. I couldn’t bear to be with another man, no matter how kind. I didn’t deserve to be happy. I spent the rest of my life takin’ care of my parents and the farm. Hard to believe that them four short years destroyed my life. I am a failure: God’s gonna’ punish me because I got away with murder. No one ever found out it was me who killed them babies.

“One day my breasts got real sore, not the way your breasts get achy when you’re pregnant but a terrible kind of pain. But I waited and waited until these horrible oozing sores were all over my breasts. The doctor said I had breast cancer. I passed away before my momma died.”

“Becky Sue, can you tell me why you named each of your babies? Wouldn’t it have been easier if you hadn’t named them?”

“Do you think I wanted to give a name to them babies I killed? I had to give the nurse a name for their birth certificates. She kept askin’ me what I was plannin’ on callin’ them. I had no choice. I still remember their names. They haunt me even now that I’m dead.”

Maybe her cancer was the metaphoric relentless nagging of her conscience sickening her to the point of death. Breast cancer can represent a deep emotional sickness, guilt, or shame made manifest by an unwanted growth of some type of tumor.

“So Becky Sue, if you died in Iowa, why are you still here in this apartment in Hollywood, California?”

“I – I reckon that I didn’t feel welcome at home. Once I died and left my rottin’ body, I didn’t feel comfortable watchin’ my parents grieve me. I didn’t rightly deserve anyone’s tears. Next I know, I’m back in this here apartment rememberin’ those horrible four years. Those dirty, cruel years that destroyed my whole life. I weren’t never the same after that.”

“When you found yourself back here, did you notice any other ghosts?”
“No, I’m here alone. Ain’t nobody here with me.”
But Becky Sue wasn’t the only ghost that I could see there, although for now, she didn’t need to know that. Her physical and emotional suffering shut her out from all other souls, living and dead.

I quietly brought in an Angel of Transition to escort her to the Heaven World. I wasn’t quite prepared for her reaction when she saw this gorgeous being.

“Hey, is that an angel standin’ there?”

“Yes, this angel is for you, to guide you to the Heaven World. Go ahead and take the shawl she’s offering you.”

“No ma’am. I don’t be deservin’ of any pretty angel or that – that there golden shawl. No, I murdered my babies, all four of them. Ain’t no good ever comin’ to me. No way. I read the bible, I know I’m goin’ to hell.”

“My dear, God welcomes all his children home, even you. And it doesn’t matter what you think you deserve, this angel is taking you across that Light Bridge. It’s all right now. There is help and hope for you.” I said this as I nodded to the angel to take her home.

She looked up at the angel and tears flowed from her eyes in an unending stream of grief and perhaps the relief that she could finally leave the hell of her shattered dreams and the murderous shadow that haunted her personality. She crossed over without another word.

Conceived in Rape

“Is she gone now?”
I turned to the tiny, tiny voice that asked this question.
“Yes, your mother’s gone now. You’re safe.”
I gazed at the four babies, each laying on the bed with faces contorted in pain, laying there where they died. A horrified shudder ran through me as I looked at them. Immediately, I brought in four angels to pick up and wrap each little body in a blanket of healing light. Because these warming blankets came from the Heaven world, they began to restore each baby’s soul and remove the wrenching pain they felt in their tiny stomachs. I could feel them relax as the warmth seeped into the inner reaches of their souls. Then the angels turned beaming smiles toward each tiny face and begin to hum sweetly as they gently rocked each child.

“Why did she do this to us?”

I could not tell which child was which. They all looked almost identical so I addressed them all.

“Could you all see her?”

“Yes, we could but she couldn’t see us. We didn’t really want her to see us either in case she would try to kill us again. Do you know why we were killed? Is that what being ‘unwanted’ means – that your mother kills you? When we were inside of her, we could feel that she didn’t want us.”

“I cannot answer for the cruel actions of your mother. Right now, what I can do is to offer all of your little bodies the healing light of these Divine golden blankets and the gentleness of these angels. Are you all feeling better? Let me assure you, that although your mother may not have wanted you, God loves you and wants you. It’s time to return home to the Father.”

I gave the angels the nod and they lovingly carried those precious babies into the Light of the Divine.

Epilogue

Becky Sue’s four newborns were also haunting the condo, since this is where each of them died. Two of them lived only a few days; the last two children died barely a few hours after returning home from the hospital. We will never know the emotional pain and physical trauma these children experienced because they were each so profoundly unloved. Conceived in rape, they were unloved and unwanted from the very moment of conception.

Not wanted: what a terrible energy to give to any child for nine long months. They never knew even a moment of compassion. I cannot comprehend their individual pain or the karma of such a birth. Surely Becky Sue would have known what that felt like since she too had been an unwanted child. However, it is not up to us to judge her.

The murdered babies had no idea what to do after death. They stayed there, crying for decades of mortal time. However, for these babies, there was no time, there was only the moment immediately following their deaths as they slipped out of those bodies. It is knowing that they are now in the Heaven World, that enables me to continue to face these poignant situations.

I took a deep breath and returned to my work. I systematically cleared the energetic echo of this actress and her dead children from the condo. The walls will no longer be able to talk to any psychic or fill the spaces with the energy of Becky Sue’s tragic life and the deaths she caused.

My clients were pleased that their condo was now free of these dead souls and the energy of murder and despair. How simple that sentence yet how powerful that service is to those souls who now reside in the Heaven World.

By Tina Erwin Copyright 2012, All Rights Reserved