Back in the mid-1980’s I worked two jobs for a short time. One job was at the phone company: that wonderful place of myth and legend paid my bills, and allowed me a certain measure of freedom. The other job was at “Dangerous Visions Bookstore” in Sherman Oaks. That was a science fiction specialty bookstore where I was paid in books. It was a part-time job. You can’t live on books (not that I haven’t tried).
I would come in to the DV Bookstore on a Thursday afternoon and do a shift-change with my fellow employee. The woman I took over for each Thursday was none other than Linda Mayfield. She was a science fiction fan (and horse enthusiast) who I had met first at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. Linda was an artist who did artwork under the name “Cody”. She had some professional success as an artist. She told me once that she sold (at least) one small illustration to The New Yorker magazine for $700. Most of her success was in fandom. For example, she (as “Cody”) did several covers for APA-L.
I had known Linda for a couple of years before I started work at DV. She did not work at DV for very long. Linda soon got married to a quiet, nerdy guy named John Sohus. I only met John once. John was a computer guy. He did some computer work for Harlan Ellison. As I understand it, John Sohus was in charge of Mr. Ellison’s computerized address list for the “Harlan Ellison Record Collection”, Harlan Ellison’s recording venture in which I am member number “002”.
Shortly after Linda married this Sohus guy, things went south.
Linda Mayfield Sohus quit her bookstore job. Soon, she and her husband disappeared. The bookstore owner, Lydia Marano, got a postcard from Linda & John saying that they were in France. They never returned. There was a rumor that Harlan Ellison had to break into the Sohus house to retrieve his address list data. (Some Ellison rumors are more believable than others.)
Time passed. They never returned. John’s mother died. They never returned. The Sohus house was sold. Eventually the new owner did some yard work and dug up some human bones. The bones were identified as those of John Sohus. This is the story as best as I can figure it: Linda murdered her husband and skipped town. There is some chance, I suppose, that both Linda and her husband were murdered with Linda’s body being, as yet, undiscovered. The postcards from France, however, seem to rule that out, if Linda wrote them.
The TV show “Unsolved Mysteries” did a report on Linda and John Sohus. The TV show presented a lot of information that I never knew. Here is an overview of that show:
Unsolved Mysteries (segment name: “Chichester”)
“John and Linda Sohus disappeared in 1985 after proclaiming they had been enlisted by the government for some top secret work. Strangely shortly after their disappearance friends and family began receiving postcards from the couple sent from Paris, France. John’s alcoholic mother, Didi, had claimed that John and Linda’s former tenant Christopher Chichester was providing her with exclusive information that John and Linda were on a top secret “mission”. Then just as mysteriously Chichester broke off contact and he too vanished. In a final bizarre twist in May of 1994 the remains of John Sohus were found buried underground on his own property.”
---Pip R. Lagenta
Historical note, April 28, 2013:
History has moved on since I wrote the above blog entry. I have long known that "things are always more complex than they at first appear to be". And with the above, BOY... are things more complex in this case! At the time that I wrote the above blog entry, for example, I had never heard of Christian Gerhartsreiter. I leave the above unchanged as an artifact of history, fully aware though I am that the assumptions that I made for the above blog entry were wildly in error. Friends of Linda Mayfield Sohus are quite angry with me for accusing a victim of being a perpetrator. To them go my profound apologies. I did not know Linda as you did. While I attempt, for the most part, to not "be a dick", this is one of the occasions on which I failed. I have had enough experience with humans to know that some people have a very dark side buried deep within them. Making an error about who does and who does not have a dark side can be quite catastrophic. At this point I can tell you that Christian Gerhartsreiter has been convicted in a court of law for the murder of the husband of Linda Mayfield Sohus. Linda Mayfield Sohus continues to be listed as missing.
---Pip R. Lagenta