Mulholland Drive was about a 45 minutes away. It wound endlessly through the Santa Monica Mountains. Billy stopped at the address. He got out of the car and surveyed the area. A man in one of the homes looked at him peculiarly. Billy returned to the car and drove the address on Coldwater Canyon Drive.
It was a small property. The house was large and hidden by trees and plants. He pulled into the driveway, but a gate kept him from going further. He got out of his car and walked up to the intercom. There was a sidewalk gate next the driveway gate. It was ajar. Billy walked through it.
Billy knocked lightly on the door. There was no answer. He located a doorbell behind some ivy and pushed it. He waited.
The door opened. There was a casually dressed man in his early 80s. He wore white pants, a red blazer with a black ascot beneath a white shirt.
“How did you get past the gate?” he said.
“It was open,” Billy said.
“What is it you want?” he said.
“Are you Dean Emerson?” Billy said.
“Who wants to know?” Emerson said.
“My name is Billy Smith,” Billy said.
“Now, Billy,” Emerson said. “What can I do for you?”
“Years ago you lived beside Marcel Smith,” Billy said. “You gave me to her.”
Emerson squinted, stepped outside and closed the door behind him.
“How did you find out about that?” Emerson said. “Like I said, I’m the boy.”
“What is you price?” Emerson said. “We’ll dispose of this quickly.”
“No price,” Billy said. “I don’t want money, an apology, or notoriety. I just want to know where I came from, that’s it.”
“How can I be sure?” Emerson said.
“Check me for hidden microphones and do you see a film crew tagging along?” Billy said.
“Claudette is not well, Mr. Smith,” Emerson said. “I don’t want her upset.”
“Than tell me about me,” Billy said.
“Let’s walk around the side if you don’t mind,” Emerson said. As they walked to the side of the house he looked over his shoulder to be certain no one observed. “This will be good.”
“So you are the boy I gave to Marcel,” Emerson said.
“Yes,” Billy said.
“As empty as this sounds,” Emerson said. “I’m glad to see you well. Now what is it you want to know. I‘ll try to help you.”
“Why did you get rid of me?” Billy said.
“As I think back on things it was all a terrible, terrible mistake,” Emerson said. “I don’t know what I was thinking to begin with. There is not a lot of maturity in Hollywood.”
“Claudette wanted a child,” Emerson said, “but did not want to have a baby. She wanted a child that was beyond infancy. She didn’t want to put up with diapers, bottles, and sleepless nights, even though we could have afforded a live-in baby sitter.”
“I confided in some friends Claudette’s strange desire. Word got around and before I knew it somebody had a child to sell. A hoodlum who was in just about everything told me he could get a three year old boy for $5,000. So we did.”
“It was stupid. We thought we could do what ever we wanted. We were brash and carefree and thought little of the consequences to others. And it pains me to know that you were apart of our folly.”
“We didn’t know how you came about or anything about you,” Emerson said. “We did know that you were already an orphan. You weren’t kidnapped. As retched as we were or you might think we were we would not have stooped to that.”
“I’m making not judgments sir,” Billy said. “I just want to know about me.”
“We knew it was a mistake in a matter of days,” Emerson said. “Claudette and Marcel were friends; she was our neighbor. I suppose you know that already. We agreed to turn you over to Marcel for $5,000 and $2,000 a year. That assured us that you would not be tossed away by Marcel. I had to see you once a year before writing out a check.”
“Where did I come from?” Billy said.
“I don’t know,” Emerson said.
“What was the name of the man who sold you to me?” Billy said.
“Parker, Wade Parker,” Emerson said, “ended up dying in prison. He was from back east; Boston, I think.”
“Did I ever say anything about where I was from or say something that may have given some clue as to where I came from?” Billy said.
“The only thing I remember you saying peculiar was “’water,’” Emerson said.
“That’s it?” Billy said. He removed the necklace and medallion from his neck and handed it to Emerson. “Does anything inscribed on this mean anything to you?”
“No,” Emerson said.
Billy’s head dropped. He studied the ground beneath him. He retrieved the necklace and medallion and handed a business card to Emerson. “If you should think of anything could you give me a call?”
“Sure,” Emerson said. “I’ll walk you to the gate.”
“That’s okay,” Billy said. “I’ll see myself out.”
Billy reached the gate and turned. “Mr. Emerson!”
“Yes,” Emerson said.
“Thanks,” Billy said.
“I wish it was possible to tell you more,” Emerson said.
“No,” Billy said. “For providing for me and seeing I had care all those years.”
“Billy,” Emerson said, “if you find out let me know, okay.”
Billy smiled, nodded, and walked away.