The Stargazers II: Melody and Jack

Melody Ridgeway had it all at the age of 22. In Hollywood, a town where everyone was scrambling to reach their own private pinnacle, Melody had achieved her's before she became of legal age. A teenaged "punk-rock" journalist, Melody went on to become the youngest staff writer for The Hollywood Reporter, doing a column entitled 'On the Scene'.

During her twenty-second year Melody's car careened over a cliff in the Hollywood hills and smashed on the rocks below. She spent six months in a hospital, during which she learned to walk again and cope with the spinal damage caused by the accident. Then she went to her parents' ranch in the San Fernando Valley, where she spent the next two years recuperating. It was then that she started to write film scripts, and a book on the history of punk rock/New Wave music.

Melody met Aurora Lawson during those years, when Aurora was a college student. An aspiring photographer, Aurora was working as a supermarket clerk, and taking concert photographs for a local promotions company in her spare time. In 1985 the only person who wanted to get out of California more than Melody Ridgeway was possibly Aurora Lawson.

In July of that year, Melody acquired a literary agent in New York. That was where the adventure that was nearly the end of Melody and tragically, the end of Aurora, began.

By the spring of 1986, Melody had another agent in London, and a British publisher for her book. She and Aurora decided to go to London and do some books together. The first was to be a biography of a band from Scandinavia who had made it big in England and then the world. Everything went so well during the months before their departure, Melody felt she was recovering the astonishing good fortune of her earlier years.

Her optimism was more than a little premature. The first months Melody and Aurora spent in England they lived on almost nothing and survived only through a series of complicated schemes, some far less than legal. By the time Melody's contract was signed with the publishing company the two girls had become far closer than mere friends. They moved into an expensive townhouse, and embarked on writing two books together and spending too much money.

Aurora's grip on reality began to slip when the proposed biography on the Scandinavian rock group, VALHALLA, fell through. She became obsessed with Marc Hasler, the lead singer of the group, and was convinced that once she met him they would be a lifetime couple. When the biography fell through, Aurora's opportunity to meet Marc slipped away, and she became determined to find another. None of the other men she met in London were of any interest to her -- she wanted Marc Hasler and no one else.

This was at the beginning of 1987, and just after Melody returned to California for Christmas, leaving Aurora alone in London for three weeks. Feeling abandoned by the woman she had come to look upon as her family, Aurora withdrew into herself and spent every day on the telephone with Melody, and every night getting drunk with her friend, Anthony Lewiston. At a Christmas party, Aurora met Ned Lewiston, the younger brother of Anthony. It was Ned who would come between Aurora and Melody and eventually destroy their friendship and business.

The same time the biography deal fell through, Paramount Pictures became interested in a film script Melody was writing. It was Aurora who first took them the script, which made later events even harder for Melody to comprehend. While Melody and Aurora continued to work on their books together, Melody could feel Aurora pulling further and further away. She started spending more time with Ned and his friends, and Melody began to panic as her funds at the bank started to dwindle. Her British publisher had never delivered the two international contracts they had promised her, and Melody was beginning to wonder what she and Aurora would do.

In late spring, the bank cut off Melody's funding, and she could no longer pay the rent on the townhouse. Her publisher had run into monetary problems in the publication of the book, and Paramount had barely begun work on the script. The last week in May, Aurora moved to Ned's house in West Hampstead; and when Melody realized she could only buy enough food for her two cats, she left them several large bowls full and slit her wrists. Discovered by a neighbor, Melody was taken to the hospital, where the doctor advised her to return to California to recuperate. She managed to raise the money to get there, but left most of her possessions and her work with Aurora; who assured her she would try to get them funds over the summer.

The reports Melody received from Aurora during that summer were strange and contradictory, but by the autumn their business affairs seemed to be looking up. Aurora had several possible television contracts for Melody and a proposed magazine column for them to do together.

In October of 1987, Melody returned to London accompanied by another friend; an artist named Natalya. Natalya was told by Aurora that she had arranged a showing for her at an Arts Center in London, and made several valuable contacts for her at galleries. But when Melody and Natalya arrived in London, it was to discover Aurora was working for an escort service and they had nowhere to live. Despite her dubious work, Aurora had no money. Her expensive camera equipment was gone and so was Melody's furniture and over half her personal possessions.

Natalya and Melody attempted to sort things out, but with no money and nowhere to stay, they were frustrated at every turn. After two weeks they realized they would have to return to California; the day before she left, Melody learned that Aurora was addicted to Cocaine, and she realized then where the money and possessions went.

After Natalya and Melody arrived back in California, they looked for jobs there. Melody did temporary office work and began a correspondence with Jack Hayward, the film star who was interested in her script, Paradise Lost. Paramount didn't have the money to launch such a huge production, for which the budget had been set at 30 million pounds; but Hayward caught the interest of a large studio in California. Despite this, Melody was depressed by her continuing lack of money and everything she lost in England.

In February of 1988, Melody's life and the lives of everyone around her were changed forever when she won 5 million dollars in a Reader's Digest Sweepstakes. During the next several months Melody, Natalya and her mother went mad, buying new cars and a townhouse for Melody; and having her parents' house remodelled. Natalya quit the low-paying job she had managed to find, and went to work for Melody, as her assistant. Once she no longer needed the money, the movie deal went forward, and Jack Hayward invited Melody to come to London and meet him.

In May, Melody and her mother went to London. Melody's mother Marjorie left to visit her cousin in Brighton, and Melody met Jack Hayward. They continued the friendship they had begun by letter, and Jack took Melody to a party and a nightclub. One night, shortly after her arrival, Melody went out to dinner with her friend Dorothy and Dorothy's daughter, Beth. Dorothy told Melody that Aurora was dead, from an overdose of heroin.

Melody didn't believe Aurora was dead, and when she learned that Aurora's family never recovered her body she consulted Jack, who advised the hiring of a private detective. Jack asked Melody to marry him, although they had never been lovers. She refused, but they did consummate their relationship and discover they had the potential to love one another. Melody wasn't certain, however -- Jack's initial reason for wanting to marry her was so that neither one of them would be hassled by potential suitors in pursuit of their money; a reason Melody found singularly unromantic.

Jack took Melody to a party where she met Marc Hasler, the rock star who had been the object of Aurora's obsession. Although their meeting was not particularly propitious, Marc would prove to be an important factor in Aurora's life.

Two weeks later the private detective returned, with the news that Aurora was living in a flophouse in Brixton. When Jack and Melody found her, Aurora was half-dead and in a state of withdrawal. They took her to a private sanitarium in Sussex. During the rescue of Aurora, Jack was confronted by Ned and shot him in the groin, leaving him for dead.

Although Aurora improved in health, and her drug dependency was being conquered, she seemed to have lost the will to live. Melody didn't know how to give it back to her, and wondered what would happen to Aurora when she, Melody, returned to California -- Aurora refused to go back.

At a benefit with Jack, Melody ran into Marc Hasler again, and told him the story of Aurora. He offered to visit her at the hospital, thinking it would be one visit to cheer the girl up. When he saw Aurora, however, Marc fell in love with her, and continued to visit her frequently.

Natalya arrived from California with a report for Melody on their business there. Natalya found Melody a new agent -- a large agency with offices in Los Angeles and New York, with whom Melody gratefully signed. They then took over negotiations for Paradise Lost with LucasFilms.

While Natalya was in London, Melody introduced her to Nathan Carter, a friend from when she was first living there, and they immediately hit it off. Just before Melody returned to California with Jack, Natalya informed them that she would be staying in London, and was going to marry Nathan. Overjoyed, Melody helped her plan her wedding, and she and Jack also planned to return for the wedding, in the fall.

Jack offered to employ Aurora in his corporation, which was headquartered in New York but would be opening an office in London in the near future. Melody was skeptical about Aurora's ability to work or to be a good employee, and one night, before a date with Marc, Aurora overheard a conversation between Melody and Jack regarding her future. She disappeared that night, and even Dick Morris (the detective) couldn't locate her.

Melody returned to California, accompanied by Jack. Although she still refused to marry him, the lovers reached a loose arrangement to travel and live together...sometimes. It was Marc who located Aurora, and when he did he didn't give her any options -- he moved her into his townhouse, and under his supervision she was cleansed of her drug abuse.

While in California, Jack introduced Melody to his friends Cameron and Diana Prince. Diana and Melody became good friends, and Cameron arranged to direct Melody's second movie, The Faerie Queen. Diana returned to London with Melody in the spring; Jack followed them when Paradise Lost finished filming.

A year after their meeting, Jack was still hoping Melody would marry him one day, but realized that his objective had been achieved anyway -- they were such a famous couple that no one ever approached either one of them. In London during the spring of 1989, Melody's book Punk Retro was released. Neither Melody nor any of her friends knew anything of Aurora since Marc Hasler rescued her the previous fall -- at the release party for the book, he told Melody that Aurora was in Norway with his family, and they were going to married.

In the summer of 1989, Melody and Jack returned to London for the opening of Friends House -- Melody's rehabilitation center and halfway house (a project which was completed mainly by Diana Prince, Natalya, and Melody's friends Reggie and Dorothy -- hence the name). It was there that Melody finally saw Aurora again. Aurora and Marc were now married, and Aurora was pregnant; something that amazed Melody -- she had been told Aurora couldn't become pregnant without having an operation that terrified her. Apparently she had gone under the knife for Marc, and now her entire life was centered around him.

Melody's friendship with Diana Prince, and her relationship to her volatile husband, helped Melody realize that not everyone was as independent as she; Aurora was a weak-willed woman who needed the assistance of a very strong man.

After becoming involved in a battle between Cameron and Diana Prince that nearly ended in the couple's divorce, Melody and Jack entertained them at the London house. Aurora showed up in the middle of the night, beaten and bruised -- her story was that Marc nearly killed her after she fell down the stairs and lost the baby. But when Marc showed up later that same night, more bruised than she and with a vicious knife-slash down his face, it became clear that Aurora was the psychopath in their odd coupling, and a pathological liar into the bargain.

Aurora went to see Cameron's psychiatrist at his insistence, but when it was determined she was well enough to return to Marc, she attempted to strangle him and then jumped into the Thames from the Hammersmith Bridge.

Melody and her friends went on to fund a number of Friends Houses in London, and to make plans for some in the U.S. Melody enjoyed success and the love of Jack, but never forgot Aurora and the unique friendship they shared, even for a short time.