Angel of Mercy is a complex story that involves a diverse cast of characters. Here are the main players as described in the book by Matthew Cruze, protagonist and narrator. The photos are the actors I would cast for the part should Hollywood ever come calling (and allow me to voice an opinion).
Investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times
If you looked up “average” in the dictionary, there I’d be. Single, 35 years old, white male, 5’11, 175 pounds, size 11 shoe, size 8 baseball cap. I have my mother’s eyes and unfortunately, my father’s nose. Like I said, average, in every sense of the word. My father’s name was Richard Cruze, Junior. My mother called him Richard. His mother called him Dickie and his father called him Junior, even as an adult. With the last name Cruze many thought he was a Spaniard until they met him in person and saw the pale skin and reddish hair common to the Irish line of Cruze. Fortunately for me the Cruze DNA diluted with each breeding. There was just a hint of red in my hair and I could hold a tan fairly well, something my father and grandfather could never do.
Hollywood mogul, creator of Angel of Mercy
Cronenburg moved from behind a large glass desk and stuck out his hand. He was wearing wrinkled chinos and a black Polo with the collar upturned. His feet were bare on the thick carpet. There was a pair of well-worn loafers kicked off in front of the desk. I did not see socks. He didn’t look like the most powerful man in the business, but looks can be deceiving. He let go of my hand and motioned for me to sit in one of the overstuffed chairs in front of the desk. It had been a couple of years since I’d seen him up close. He was in his mid-forties now, a little grey showing at the temples, some faint webbing at the corners of the eyes, but still a good looking guy, even by Hollywood standards. He had a welcoming demeanor that made you like him immediately, no matter how hard you tried not to. And there was the rub. I did like Marc Cronenburg, even though he had more than once threatened me with bodily harm and financial ruin. He smiled as if he knew what I was thinking.
Former oncologist, heart-throb host of Angel of Mercy
My eyes lingered on the larger-than-life image of Dr. Adrian Zoebel, host of Angel of Mercy and the biggest star in the Cronenburg sky. On the poster he was shown from the waist up, big smile, eyes twinkling, blue scrubs with a stethoscope draped around his neck, shaved, muscular arms folded over his chest. The Angel of Mercy logo was at the top of the poster; the slogan “He’s changing lives!” at the bottom. He’s changing lives, seriously? Changing lives by putting an end to them was the version of the slogan I had used in my book that had the same title as his show. I was still a little surprised that Cronenburg let me get away with that one without a call from his lawyer. It was easy to see why female viewers – who I was sure made up the majority of Zoebel’s audience — would be attracted to the good doctor. I don’t even think he had to be Photoshopped for the poster, he was that good looking. Square jaw, dark skin, bright blue eyes, perfect teeth. There was no shortage of women who would throw themselves at the good doctor given the chance. Even Charles Manson and the Menendez Brothers got marriage proposals while in prison. Women love bad boys. Especially L.A. women. Maybe that was why I was still single. Probably not.
Adrian Zoebel’s former nurse and love interest
The last time I’d seen Susan Harris she was a pretty, robust girl with bright blue eyes and a welcoming smile. Now, just a few short years later, I couldn’t help but notice how small she seemed. She was probably a good five-five, five-six, but her posture made her seem shorter. She walked with her shoulders hunched, her back bent. She shuffled her feet. I remembered her being thin, but not this thin. She was wearing pink scrubs and Crocs with pink ankle socks. Her arms had very little meat on them and there was no curve to her hips or backside. Then I noticed the pink and purple scarf wrapped around her head, knotted at the back of her neck. It was at that moment I knew she was dying.
Marc Cronenburg’s personal attorney
Allen Grumman was Marc’s attorney and personal legal pit bull. He had orchestrated Zoebel’s release from jail and the ultimate dropping of charges against him. He was also instrumental in getting California’s Death with Dignity Act passed, paving the way for Cronenburg’s groundbreaking reality show, Angel of Mercy, starring Dr. Adrian Zoebel. He hadn’t change much in three years. He was short and stout, built like a fireplug; with thick arms and a barrel chest that strained against the fabric of his expensive suit coat. His face was reddish; round and clean shaven. He had a large diamond ring on his left pinky and a heavy bracelet around his right wrist. He was playing with the ring as he smiled at me. He looked more like a mob lawyer than someone who spent his time negotiating television deals.
Marc Cronenburg’s head of security
A very large shadow of a man appeared at the other side of the smoked glass door. He took his time walking toward me, like he didn’t have a care in the world and no particular place that he had to be. He stuck a key in the door and opened it just enough to give me a hard look. It was my first encounter with Ahmed Omar, Cronenburg’s head of security. At the time I had no idea who he was. He was a good head and a half taller than me and wore a dark suit that strained at the width of his shoulders. His neck was thicker than my thigh and his hands looked like mitts. I followed him to the elevator. Even from behind he was one intimidating son of a bitch. He had played for the Raiders back in the day, recruited out of Michigan State his junior year. Back then his name was Levon Ricketts. He changed it after a few years in the pros to be cool. I was sure it had nothing to do with religion because he’d broken most of the commandments since getting kicked out of the pros for excessive violence. They had called him ‘Freight Train’ during his playing days because he liked to run over opposing players. Now, if you knew what was good for you, you’d call him Mr. Omar.
Reuben Morales had even less tolerance for bullshit than I did. The difference between him and me, other than several inches of height and a good forty pounds, was that Reuben had a gold shield and didn’t mind pushing hard when push came to shove. He was a third generation Latino-American who still spoke with a mild accent. His knuckles were rough with the scars of his youth and his eyes could go from friendly to menacing with the flip of a switch. I was glad he was on my side… at least for now.
Assistant District Attorney
Assistant District Attorney Stansfield Lynch was wearing a blue jogging suit and tennis shoes with black socks when he arrived a little after six. His thinning hair was standing up all over his head. He wore thick glasses that kept sliding down the bridge of his nose. He kept pushing them back into place with his thumb. He was smart; he brought his own coffee, a big one from Starbucks. He leaned against the door frame rather than coming in to take a seat. He did not look too thrilled to be out this early on a Saturday morning. He lifted his eyebrows at me from over the cup and said, “This better be good, Mr. Cruze. For your sake.”
Producer of Angel of Mercy
Across the lobby a set of elevator doors opened and a pretty girl who didn’t look like she was spat from the Hollywood mold headed my way. She was wearing faded jeans and a black t-shirt with the Blue Man Group on the front and a pair of black Converse tennis shoes with lavender trim. She wasn’t like other girls you’d meet in Los Angeles on any given day. Her makeup was modest, not slathered on with a trowel. She wasn’t pierced anywhere that I could see other than her earlobes or wearing clothes that were three sizes too small. There were no overinflated boobs struggling to break free from the top of her blouse and no Botox tracks on her face. She was a natural beauty, with welcoming dark eyes that were aimed in my direction.