Friday, June 1, 2012

Remembering Kimberly Lynn Layfield

So...where to start. My morning was spent running around getting things ready for a big School Closing Sale we are doing. Our Non-profit Arts School (and primary source of income) has been on the ropes for the last few months and after a failed attempt to move it to a new location, my wife and I decided to shut it down. It has been a very slow and sad process. Anyway- I was checking my emails and getting ready to post about our online sale, when I saw a strange message in my inbox. It was from someone supposedly working at KING 5 News. At first I thought it was spam, like some spammer trying to get my attention by putting KING 5 News as the emails sender. The email heading was just "KIMBERLY LAYFIELD."  Kim was one of the stars of my feature film Hot Rod Girls Save The World. My first impression was that someone had hacked Kim's email and start spamming everybody on her contact list with a fake KING 5 News signature.  Then I reread the entire email and decided to call the contact person listed.
It read-

"My apologies for contacting you thru this medium.
In doing a search for online information about Kim, I cam across a website that indicated that she did some work with you on a film. Would you be willing to speak with a reporter?

Thanks so much and please accept our sincerest condolences on the loss of your friend."

Loss of my friend? I didn't get it. Rereading the email now it seems very obvious, but I think a part of me was certain that this was just spam. Maybe because it was so out of the ordinary in language and source. I decided to call the number in the e-mail. An official sounding gal answered and said it was indeed King 5 News. I told her who I was and asked what was the e-mail in regards to? She got quiet.
"You don't know?" she said.
"Is this about Kimberly?"  I asked, "did something happen?"
She got very quiet, then measuredly spoke in a strained tone. "I am so sorry...she was...murdered yesterday."
"Kimberly LYNN Layfield?" I asked her in disbelief.
"Oh my God, what happened?"
"Did you hear about the shooting at Cafe Racer yesterday?"
"Yes, I heard a blip about it on the car radio."
"Kimberly...well she was one of the victims."
I instantly felt my throat tighten. It was an automatic reaction, like someone flipped a switch or something. This was violent death. This was headline death. The most ugly and irrational sort of randomness. My eyes started to water. It was pure emotion, pure sadness. All I could say was "Oh my God." Thats all that would come out.
"I am sorry you had to hear it this way, this is a part of my job that I really don't like," she said in a calm compassionate voice. She paused and then continued,"Do you know the details? Word is just getting out about the victims identities. Kimberly's family was notified this morning. Are you OK to answer a few questions?"
"Yes I think so," I stammered.
"Are you sure?"
She explained she had found my email address through the Hot Rod Girls Save The World website while doing a Google search on Kimberly. She asked how it was to work with Kim, what kind of person she was, her acting and her passions. I told her that during the filming of Hot Rod Girls we had become friends, though recently we had only talked on Facebook a few times. I told her about how Kim was a hard worker and a real sweet person, who really seemed to enjoy life and was extremely positive for the entire four years it took to complete filming. Occasionally I would get choked up and have to stop for a minute. The King 5 gal was very patient.
She asked if I had any still images of Kimberly from the film. I said I did and could actually put together some high quality film clips for that evenings King 5 newscast. She said thank you and that another person would be contacting me about the clips shortly. After I got off the phone I really cried. I hate crying, most guys do. I think it makes us feel weak and sissy like. But I couldn't help it.
I went to tell my wife the grim news. She instantly started tearing up. She, like I, really liked Kimberly. It's easy to say that about a dead person. We've heard all the cliches, "So and so was a good man," or "He loved life and all those around him." But in all honesty, Kimberly was a sweetheart. She really did love life. Thats why this shooting seemed so personal and ugly to me.

A few minutes later I got a call from a guy at KING 5 with an email address to send stills and clips. I went to my hard drive and quickly made some sequences that highlighted Kim's work in Hot Rod Girls Save The World. and sent them off. Her role was tough, mostly because the character she played, Betty Petty, was a mute.  On top of that Hot Rod Girls was a campy B-Movie. How do you play a pissed off non speaking drag race mechanic credibly in a strangely dark hot rod comedy? In the end she pulled it off better than I ever imagined. Kimberly and J Maki (who introduce me to Kim) were two of the only "trained" actors in the film. Most of the cast were musicians, car builders or friends who wanted to help make a movie.

After I sent off the clips to KING 5, I noticed an email from the Seattle Times. I quickly called, and being more prepared this time, answered questions about Kim. The gal at the Times told me additional details about the shooting spree. I guess that is the job of print media, to get more in depth about a subject than a prime time newscast can. When I was talking to the Times Gal, I was very careful not to promote my film projects. Sometimes I really do sound like a walking commercial for my film company Go-Kustom. This is a survivalist flaw in my personality, created by years of self promoting my bands, writing and more recently films. But by the same token, Kimberly would want me to promote Hot Rod Girls. It was her dream to be a known actress. I think she was proud of the work she did in Hot Rod Girls Saves The World. We made the film to be seen.

Twenty four hours later, I am still in a bit of shock. I can't really explain all of it. I had several epiphanies about my own personal problems. Closing the school and being jobless in a month doesn't seem like such a big deal now. Every second of your life counts. Treasure what you have. Live in the moment- for that's all you really have.


Unknown said...

Wow! Thank you! Thank you for being honest and sincere in your writings regarding this. It's not easy to do, always, but will really help many that you were! I wanted to locate something "REAL" and down- to-earth about her. Thank you for providing that for us!

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your honest opinions. I'm very sorry for your loss.

Unknown said...

Unbelievable tragedy. My heart is saddened to hear such beautiful loving soul has been taken. Thank you for sharing and i send u warm energy as you mourn your loss.

Fibro Monster said...

I'm sorry not only for your loss, but to hear about your school as well - I've missed a lot lately. This is such a tragedy that will be on our community's mind for a long time, even for those of us it didn't directly touch. As man I know crying sucks but it helps the healing process, and in time you will heal.