I Killed Sal Mineo
By Rodger Jacobs
Sal Mineo peered through my bedroom window last night. Well, actually, it was the ghost of Sal Mineo because as you know he’s been six feet under since 1976 when I plunged a knife through his heart in the carport of his apartment building on Holloway Drive, not far from where I live.
Whether Sal was looking in my window because he knows I’m his killer or simply because West Hollywood is a small community and his spirit just kind of floats around here is a question that’s been bugging me all day long. When I was on the phone today with a Pac Bell collections rep making payment arrangements on my past due bill all I could think was: “Does he know it’s me?” I must have spoken those words out loud because the Pac Bell lady said, “I beg your pardon?” and I said something like “Sorry, I was talking to someone who just walked in the room” but of course no one ever walks into my room. I’ve never had a visitor to my apartment since I moved in back in 1974.
I live in the rear corner unit of a small apartment building north of Sunset, up the hill from Tower Records and from where Spago’s used to be. I worked at Spago’s for awhile as a waiter but I couldn’t stand the attitude in that place so I hit the high road. I mean, how many struggling actors disguised as waiters can you expect one guy to put up with in a day? I gave up my acting aspirations years ago - decades ago, if you really want to get down to the nitty gritty of it – and most of these knuckleheads would be wise to do the same. There are only so many acting jobs and too many wanna-be actors. Do the math.
But I was telling you about Sal Mineo. Yeah, it was me who knifed him. What of it? And I’ll bet you want to know why I did it. To tell you the God’s honest truth so much time has passed by that it’s all a bit fuzzy to me. I do remember that I had bought a big ass bottle of Jack Daniels at Gil Turner’s on Sunset and Doheny that night. I parked my beat-up Camaro down on Holloway and sat there in my car drinking straight from the bottle, thinking about how the universe is a funny thing and how only so many of us can have true great success because you have to have people to do the grunt jobs in life. I mean, we can’t all be movie stars, can we? And then I started thinking about my ex-girlfriend who got some weird patriotic bug up her butt and took off on a jaunt following the Bicentennial train across the country. You probably don’t remember the Bicentennial train but it was all part of the big celebration in 1976 of our country’s birth and this train had all these Americana things on display, like a copy of the original Declaration of Independence. Anyway, Laura followed that train all over the country, just her and her dog in an old Road Runner. Life is strange. Laura is strange. I would write a book about Laura but I have enough trouble writing a grocery list, let alone something as ambitious as a book.
So it was just me and Jack Daniels parked under a street light on Holloway. We weren’t bothering anybody. Whenever a police cruiser glided by I would duck the bottle down under the seat. I don’t remember what time it was. It was late, though. I was pretty damn drunk - I know that’s no excuse and I’m not offering it as one - and I saw this little guy getting out of his car in his parking spot just a few yards away. I don’t know what came over me but I grabbed the switchblade that I kept in the glove compartment and I got out of the car and I walked up to him, quick as can be, like a man with an important mission only I didn’t really know what I was doing or why. He saw me coming at him and he began screaming really loud, like he knew what I was going to do before I knew it myself. I felt the knife plunge into his heart and he screamed again, not so loud this time, and I pulled the knife out and he fell flat on his back on the concrete. Only then did I recognize him and I thought, “Oh, man, you killed Sal Mineo.” But then this weird calm suddenly came over me. I simply walked back to the Camaro, got in, fired her up, and drove back to my place at Sunset and Horn Avenue.
They ended up framing some poor black guy for Sal Mineo but it turns out the guy was a hardened criminal in the first place so it’s not like some miscarriage of justice was carried out or anything like that.
I’ve kept a pretty low profile for the last twenty-eight years. I do odd jobs here and there to supplement my disability payments. I even worked as a maintenance man for awhile in the same apartment building that Sal Mineo had lived in. That was creepy.
I spend most of my extra money on Sal Mineo stuff. I just bought the DVD of “Giant” and I’ve already watched it seventeen times, though I much prefer the younger Sal in “Rebel Without A Cause”. Reminds me of what I was like when I was a teenager growing up in L.A. Sal was also in the pilot for “Harry O”, that David Janssen cop show from the 70s. I really like “Harry O” but they haven’t released any of the episodes on VHS or DVD yet. I can’t wait until they do because when they do I’ll be the first one in line down at Tower Records to buy it and then next time Sal Mineo looks in my bedroom window I’ll say, “Hey, Sal, come on in and have a seat. The ‘Harry O’ shows are on video now.” I’ll bet that’ll make him happy.
© 2004, Rodger Jacobs
All Rights Reserved
E-Mail Rodger at firstname.lastname@example.org