The Vigilante

the Punisher

Frank Castle, the Punisher – Artwork for the cover of Punisher vol. 6, 1 (Jan, 2004 Marvel Comics). Art by Tim Bradstreet.

Jiki Commons was at the top of his career and he was only fourteen years old. Ever since his first hit movie “Imps” which was released in 2011 when he was only eight, he was in high demand. Every film he starred in was a huge success. He was already a multi-millionaire and seemingly his acting career had no place to go but up.

But Jiki had a dark secret, actually he had two, but only one person knew about the second.

It had happened for the first time when the boy had just turned ten. A very well-known, very rich, very successful producer named Eric “the Red” Patterson wanted Jiki for his next film about a group of kids who get trapped in a haunted house on Halloween. Jiki talked to his Dad and he talked to his agent, and they both thought it was a great idea. It would be a real boost for the boy’s career.

There was only one catch. “Red” said that he had to pass a “test,” to see if he was ready for Hollywood’s “big leagues.” He said it was perfectly normal in Hollywood for fifty-five year old men and ten-year-old boys to have sex, but Jiki had to swear not to tell anyone. Otherwise, he’d never work in movies again. On the third day of filming, Jiki was in his trailer on location when Patterson opened the door and walked in. He locked the door behind him and Jiki’s silent tears streamed down his cheeks as the producer sodomized him.

But as the story goes, that was only the first time. Yes, “Red” approached him again, but he wasn’t the only one. Patterson said Jiki could really get his career moving if he’d just cooperate with other men “in the business.” The were called “the Ring.” They weren’t all producers. Some were directors. Some were studio heads (the irony of that title was not lost on Jiki as he performed oral sex on three of them in a back bedroom at a cast party). After a while, it didn’t matter who they were. Jiki was on their list, a covert and closely knit group of men, Hollywood moguls who enjoyed sex with young boys (and some with young girls as well).

At twelve, Jiki’s “behavioral problems” were interfering with his acting, that’s what more than one adult director and producer had told his agent. His agent told his Dad, and his Dad arranged for Jiki to go into counseling.

Regardless of his experiences in “the industry,” Jiki was only twelve. While behaving pseudo-mature in public, on the job, with his agent, and most of the time with his Dad, inside he was still just a kid who wanted to have fun and who resented kids not in the business, kids who got to keep their innocence, kids who didn’t know what it was like to taste a man’s semen in their mouths or feel their anus tear when roughly entered by a man’s engorged penis.

Finally, Jiki told and then the police were called.

Jiki made a full statement on tape. He named names. He gave dates. He told locations.

The police wrote reports. The reports were filed with the District Attorney’s office.

Weeks passed. Months passed. The tapes disappeared. The reports were misfiled. There was no evidence. Nothing happened.

Except…except men kept coming to Jiki and Jiki kept having to give them sex.

“We’ll ruin you,” they said. “You’ll never work again,” they threatened. “We’ll make sure your Dad never works again,” even though his Dad wasn’t in the business, well not that business. “Keep your fucking mouth shut,” they yelled, “that is unless we want to put something in it,” they leered.

The police reports disappeared, but Jiki made sure he wrote down everything he ever told them about his abuse. He recorded every detail. Then the only man he could trust said, “I’ll take care of it. I’ll make sure everyone in Hollywood will be so afraid that none of them will ever hurt a kid again. I promise.”

He was ex-Special Forces, seventeen confirmed kills during two tours of duty, but that was a long time ago. He kept a hidden collection of firearms and other weapons which were particularly unpopular in Hollywood. He never showed them to Jiki. He didn’t want to involve the kid. He just wanted to make the bastards pay.

Eric Patterson was the first. He was driving his Porsche too fast along a winding section of Mulholland late one night. At first the police thought it was a blow out, but the shooter had taken out the car’s left front tire with an M21 sniper rifle. Patterson’s Porsche violently swerved off the road and tumbled down three-hundred feet to the canyon floor. The car didn’t explode like in the movies, but it landed on its top, crushing “Red’s” corpulent body into something that looked like chunky salsa.

“Big Tony” was next. He died in his car too, a brand new Mercedes SLR McLaren. Tony had been waiting in the parking lot behind an exclusive club for his connection when an unknown assailant walked up to the driver’s side of the car. First shot from the .357 Magnum hit him in the genitals and the second splattered his brains all over the car’s leather interior. The coke dealer Tony had been waiting for heard the shots and ran the other way. By the time someone else came out to check on the “backfire,” Tony was dead and the shooter was gone.

During the next nine weeks, seven other men, all top film studio executives, producers, directors, even one major “A-list” actor died violently. They called him the “Tinseltown Serial Killer,” and he was targeting Hollywood’s wealthy major talent. Unlike in Jiki’s sexual abuse case, law enforcement pulled out all the stops to find the murderer.

The owner of a major studio put up a ten million dollar reward for any information leading to the capture of the killer.

However, two things happened within a relatively short span of time.

The first was that for the past two months, Jiki hadn’t been approached by any men asking for sexual favors or threatening his career if he didn’t put out. Jiki couldn’t have known this, because the victims never talked about it, but over a dozen other child actors between the ages of six and seventeen also surprisingly experienced and sudden and lasting relief from sexual harassment and abuse.

Besides the shooting victims all working in the film or television industries in Southern California, the police couldn’t find a common denominator, but Jiki could (that was his second big secret). So could the other child victims. The dead were all part of “the Ring,” a group of influential men who preyed on little boys and girls. Men who were fabulously wealthy, incredibly powerful, men who the average movie patron admired and respected because of their success, men who believed that they could get away with anything and that no one could touch them, even to the point of bribing city, county, and state officials to destroy or surrender any evidence of their “excesses” with some of the most famous children in the world.

Finally, only one member of “the Ring” remained, and he was scared to death. He knew he was next on the killer’s list, but he dared not tell the police because they’d want to know how he knew. He might be able to pay off the cops, but even if he could find out who the serial killer was, this was a guy you didn’t buy off. The killer didn’t care about money, he was some sort of vigilante, a crusader. The Hollywood big shot knew why the others were being killed because it was only members of “the Ring” who were dying.

He ran. He cashed out and ran, bought a phony identity, hid his money in offshore accounts under different names, and then he became a ghost and vanished.

The second thing that happened was that the killings stopped. After a reign of terror of over nine weeks, suddenly the Tinseltown Killer went silent. Weeks passed by…months. No other shootings, no other deaths, at least none that fit the serial killer’s pattern. Hollywood breathed a collective sigh of relief. Behind the scenes, so did Jiki and over a dozen other child sexual abuse victims who were all major cinematic stars, but for a completely different reason.

What the law couldn’t or rather wouldn’t do, the serial killer did. He wasn’t a hero, he was a murderer many times over. But this murderer was the only one who stood up to the hidden violence happening to the children you see on the big screen each time you go to the movies.

Six months later, a villa on Lake Como, Italy. Dino Lancenzo stepped out the front door dressed only in his robe. The fifteen year old boy he’d picked up at that dive in Menaggio last night was still asleep upstairs. He’d been very energetic, which Dino liked, but he’d still have to pay him off and cut him loose after breakfast. Dino bored easily and there were always other street urchins who would be willing to go to bed in exchange for a few Euros.

He enjoyed watching the sun come up over the lake. After what he’d been through in the States, after everything he had to give up, he deserved a little peace. That’s when he noticed the car in the driveway, a rental by the looks of it. Who the hell had the nerve to park their heap here?

“Good morning, Mr. Bruno.” The voice came from behind him. Whoever it was knew his real name.

“Don’t bother turning around. I just came to tie up one last loose end. You.”

Bruno heard the shot, felt a strong impact in the middle of his back, powerful enough to throw him forward face first onto the asphalt. There was just time enough for him to hear the next shot before his head exploded like a rotten melon.

“Pleasant dreams, you scumbag.” The shooter wiped his prints from the gun with a handkerchief, walked to the edge of the nearby pier and threw the handgun in the water. Then he got in his car and drove back to Milan. He had just enough time to return the rental and catch his flight.

The boy Dino had sex with last evening wouldn’t find the body for another two hours.

Back home, it was eleven at night and Jiki woke up from another nightmare. They were happening less frequently. His counselor told him to expect them to return every now and then but in time, they’d finally disappear.

After reading a story about actor Corey Feldman called FLASHBACK: Corey Feldman Named His Abusers In 1993; Police Did Nothing, I started to get pretty angry. The Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment/abuse scandal has opened (reopened, actually) the whole dirty underside of the entertainment industry, including what has been called “Hollywood’s alleged pedophile network.” Feldman had been sexually abused as a minor (click the link and read about it for yourself) and even though he reported it to law enforcement in 1993 naming names, all of the evidence managed to “disappear” from police custody.

Money and power seems to beat justice every time.

I’ve written stories before about child sexual abuse such as The Girl from Svay Pak and What Kind of Hero, referencing child sex trafficking in Cambodia and child sexual abuse in Hollywood respectively, but this time I decided to focus on how difficult it is to stop the cycle of child abuse in the entertainment industry and hold the very rich and powerful accountable for their crimes.

For inspiration, I loosely based this story on films such as Death Wish (1974) and Star Chamber (1983) as well as the comic book character The Punisher. I also kept the identity of the “serial killer” in my story vague. If the pedophiles in Hollywood can get away with forever hiding in the shadows, then so can the (fictional) vigilante who stops them.

I’m not advocating murder. I’m writing more out of frustration than anything else. This is why we have stories about vigilantes, though. This is why films like Dirty Harry (1971) exist. We like to think that we can protect children, but there are people in the world who believe the laws don’t apply to them. When the law doesn’t work, what other alternatives are left?

Oh, any similarity between my characters and real people, living or dead, is purely a coincidence.

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