Jim Stinson

Double Exposure, a Stoney Winston mystery


Film Props Incorporated is a two-acre attic in west Hollywood stuffed with moose heads, spectacles, armor, space suits, and the lab equipment of half the mad scientists in movie history. Rummaging for props to rent, I once found a gun belt marked “Mr. Wayne” and a parlor lamp labeled “Tara”. That’s as close to the big time as I ever get: fondling saintly relics of my faith – finger bones and hanks of hair from movies long since canonized.

Today, I’d collected two surfboards and a volleyball set for Harry Hummel’s cola commercials (“Kids at the beach, okay? Lotsa tits and teeth”) when ancient Merv behind the counter called me to the phone. I walked through this sanctuary with honest reverence, threading past rubber swords, plowshares, plastic Tikis, and a flyblown gorilla, toward the front of the musty building.

The call was from Hummel: “Winston, get your ass over here.”

“Harry, you won’t believe this: I found a surfboard from Gidget
Goes Hawaiian


“I’d love to use it, but the design’s too dated.”

“What? What is this? Will you get your ass over here?”

“You said that.”


I sheathed the surfboards in the hatch of my ancient yellow Rabbit (1975 was not a vintage year for Volkswagen), flagged their protruding sterns to mollify the law, and struggled east on Santa Monica Boulevard toward Finart Studios, the ramshackle production lot on which Hummel rents an office.

As I rattled through the smog, the next few days unreeled before me, predictable as death: out to Malibu Beach with two trucks, a generator, and station wagons full of “talent” and wardrobe. Two days playing film director in sand-filled shoes, the sun broiling my dismaying new bald spot into a dime-sized plate of scrambled eggs. Two days more in my editor hat, faking the footage into some kind of sense. Then three weeks of unemployment while hustling another job.

Dear Mama: I am in Hollywood. It is fun. I am a big director now. You were wrong.

Oh yes: scrambling at the grubby edges of the Industry, presiding over cheap local commercials and droning industrials, writing training films to keep afloat and feature scripts for agents to reject.

I paused at the studio gate, to find One-Arm Willard snoozing as usual in the gatekeeper’s booth.


His sleeping finger stabbed reflexively at a button and the gate lifted to admit me. Riffraff come and go unchecked while Willard slumbers on.

I should have stuck with acting. I’d be just as poor and pointless and just as much a whore, but at least I could work a nice warm brothel, instead of ankling around the streets.

I chugged along the tarmac road dividing scabby bungalow offices from sound stages that resembled stucco hangars. The Rabbit wheezed to a grateful halt in a parking spaced marked HARRY HUMMEL LIMITED. The perfect adjective for my employer.

Hummel was lurking in his scruffy office, behind a midden of crumpled production forms and take-out food wrappers that hid a grandiose pre-war mogul’s desk, now rapidly shedding its oak veneer.

As always, he skipped the pleasantries: “You line up the location,

“How about Coronado for a change?”

Selected Works

Tassy Morgan's Bluff
A wry. funny introduction to the quirky inhabitants of a small town on the breathtakingly scenic northern tip of California.
College textbook
Video: Digital Communication and Production
A complete introductory course in professional media production
Double Exposure, a Stoney Winston mystery
A missing girl, a porno ring, and a randy evangelist lure Stoney into arson, murder, and other inconveniences.
Low Angles, A Stoney Winston mystery
Mayhem and murder on location, as Stoney helps produce a Hell's Angels biker epic.

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