Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Aboard Flight from Seattle-Atlanta

I've always liked this poem. Needless to say, it was a bleak time in my life. Still, I think it has some merit.

Aboard Flight from Seattle-Atlanta Jan. 12, 1985, 12:24 a.m.

There is no rest for men like us

In rooms like these

Sleeping, beyond hope

Reading, beneath interest

Friends, beyond effort

Women, beyond consideration

There is no sleep for men like us

Rest, beyond memory

Pills, too tolerated

Fingers, too yellow

Eyes, too red

They see us next day

And shake their heads

While snug they cuddled

Dreaming dreams in young heads

There was no rest for men like us

Alone in our rooms

Staring across at our wall

Brothers under the skin

Not knowing at all

Of the thousands of others just like us

Who come home from work

No hope for a smile or a joke

Who sit and we smoke

And wait for morning to come

Our eyes never shut,

Behind them runs a continuous movie

Of whatever it was that crushed out our dreams once and for all

So we stub out a butt in a tray full of dust

And brush at our teeth

And maybe pick a clean shirt

An extra day’s baggage hung from our eyes

And head to the streets

A little more worn

There is no rest for men like us

Who sit through the night

As quite simply we must.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Jayne & the Satanists --Chapter 3

* * * *

We pulled up in front of the black Victorian house in Whitley Heights. It was the normally San Franciscan LaVey’s L.A. pied-a-terre. “Should we leave Lex here?” I asked.

“No let’s take him in to his old stomping grounds. He’ll want to say Hi to Zoltan.”

The small front yard sported a carefully disarrayed show of weeds, not a blade of grass. “Nice lawn,” I cracked.

“Anton says, why create something artificial, let the land be true to its nature, these are the indigenous plants of the area. Except for that,” she said pointing to a clump of Devil’s Club. “That’s for show.”

The windows had been blacked out, which made the house stand out on the old working-class residential street. Sharply peaked dormers gave the place a cathedral-like facade. The black wrought-iron fence had spikes along the top. Someone had impaled a doll’s head on one of the tines. Flanking the top of the stairway, two concrete winged gargoyles snarled at visitors.

LaVey opened the door, his patented glower in place. Until he saw Lex, whereupon his face broke into the most incongruous grin of glee. “Ah, Lex,” he said, taking the cat from Jayne and holding it to his chest, burying his goatee into the black fur. Smelling it. When Lex’s full throttle purr began, I felt a pang of jealousy.

LaVey showed us into a living room. Then he called, “Selena, can you see what our guests would like to drink? Canadian rye for Miss Mansfield, if I’m not mistaken.” Then he turned away. “Give me five minutes with Lex and I’ll be right with you,” he said, walking out of the room.

I looked at Jayne inquiringly. “He likes animals better than people,” she said. “He says there is no hypocrisy in animals, that they are true to their savage nature. Lex is a valued companion, they’d been together a long time.”

Before I could ask another question, a young woman entered the room. She had wavy blonde hair to her shoulders and a pale, pretty face though with striking bone structure and luxuriant lips. She wore a black gown to her feet, which were bare. She smiled graciously and introduced herself, then took our drink orders and swooshed off efficiently.


“No, Selena is LaVey’s current girlfriend and acolyte. She’s nice.”

“Just a real cozy little homestead here in Transylvania.”

Our drinks came and Selena smiled and asked how I was enjoying Lex. Then without waiting for a response, she slipped away to other pressing matters. I killed time by looking around the room, which was dim as dung. I jumped a bit when I noticed the coffee table was made of a large headstone of some guy who died in 1892. The walls were draped in what looked like black velvet and on little tables were small grotesque statues. Many, I noticed, featured prominent penes. On the walls were several framed prints that I identified as being from etchings by William Blake. One framed item was a calligraphy quotation from Blake’s Proverbs of Hell: “Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.”

After five minutes, LaVey entered the room. He certainly played up his part with his shaven skull and meticulously manicured jet black Van Dyke beard. He wore a long-sleeved black shirt buttoned to the neck, black trousers and slippers.

“Mr. LaVey, the reason I’m here...”

“No need to explain, Mr. Holcomb, I understand the situation completely. You wish to know about the pikers, the charlatans, those who use Lord Satan’s name in vain.” He cocked an already arched eyebrow. “Those whom I despise. Yet, in this befuddled era, in this confused town, who command the minds of the rapacious and ignorant.”

“That’s pretty much got it,” I said.

* * * *

La Vey told us that the Evil Angels congregated at Szandor Scream’s mansion in Beverly Hills. That they met late on Saturday night, so they could catch the important spell-casting hour before midnight, could party and desecrate throughout the Lord’s Day morning and could get their chauffeurs to pour them into their limos, drive them home in time for a nap, a hair of the dog and a good night’s sleep before wielding the power in Hollywood’s boardrooms come Monday morning.

He was hesitant to give Jayne a contact for fear that she might enlist with those he loathed. She gave me the nod and I said I felt these people might have had something to do with a death of a good friend. He smiled that slow malign smile, opened a book, and wrote a number on a page and tore it out. I folded it, noting it was Bible parchment, and slipped it in my pocket.

Taking Jayne by the hand, he went through a door. As I started to rise, he said, authoritatively, “No. You stay here and look after Zoltan.”

I sat there and when I reached for a volume from the bookshelves, the panther would snarl. Getting to the bathroom was impossible and when Jayne returned, flushed and smashed, my kidneys were aching. LaVey looked drained. He settled into his throne and stroked his cat. When Jayne said, “Sayonara,” --she thought it sounded worldly-- he flipped his hand dismissively.

In the car, I asked her what she had done. She said she had scored Scream’s private number. “I had to go, anyhow.” She laughed.

* * * *

When Jayne had sobered up enough to use the telephone at my place, she called the number. I was impressed with her acting ability. She got through to Scream’s secretary and told her she wanted to consult with the master in order to further her career. She said she had cut all ties with the Church of Satan and wanted something more powerful. She had heard about the Evil Angels’ Saturday night black masses and wanted to attend one in the company of her clandestine lover --who was in no way associated with the police.

Her name sufficiently impressed the secretary that she was put through to the grand poobah himself and she reported that he sounded imperious, yet happily invited her to be his special guest at this Saturday’s meeting. Cocktails at ten.

* * * *

People knew my byline, but only the cops, the stars and their handlers knew my face. Although I assumed the occasion called for basic black, Jayne outdid herself. When I picked her up, there was the usual griping and yelling in the background. But I was too astonished to much care. Jayne zipped through the door and said, “Just get in the car.” I could hardly work my feet. Jayne wore false eyelashes, black eyeshadow and black lipstick that accentuated the angularity of her face. Her blonde hair was pulled tight in a topknot ponytail. She wore long false nails, black. Under the black leather trenchcoat, lurked who-knew-what, but the black fishnets dripped into black patent stiletto heels foreshadowed something memorable.

The silence spun out as we drove the few blocks to the wrought iron gates of Scream’s pad. “Anything wrong?” I asked. She turned to me, her eyes dead, her expression imperious, mocking, superior. Cold as death, she intoned, “If I crack a smile, I’ll ruin my makeup, so just stand back and watch the high priestess in action. I figure if I scare the shit out of them they’ll be less inclined to fuck with us.”

“You’re nasty.”

“I’m plastered.”

“My name tonight will be Vic Paris, and I’m a waiter between jobs right now. We met at Chasen’s and the restaurant might not want to remember me because I considered myself better than their standards. That way if anyone calls to check on me and they claim not to remember me, we have a cover.”

Jayne looked over at me, “Baby, when they see what I’ve got under this coat, nobody is going to be able to stop the slobbering long enough to ask any questions.”



“No bar.”

“No preview. Besides I’m in deep trouble with Mickey just to help you out here.”

I was feeling feisty. “I’ll make it worth your while.”

“Make the check out to my landlord.”

We parked beside Jags and Rollers, but any sneers at the Rambler were quashed by Jayne stepping out. “Put this in the trunk,” she said, as she pulled off the trenchcoat. She was wearing a black leather corselet with a black leather tennis skirt. “Tie this on me,” she said and held out a black leather strap that I realized was a mask. “Watch the damn lashes,” she said as I tied a reef knot at the back of her head. “I need a drink,” she said, and stormed to the front door. I pulled on a dime-store Lone Ranger mask and skittered behind her. I arrived in time to witness a slight confrontation. The doorman asked who he should announce. Jayne shoved his face back and said, “She who will not be denied,” and stormed through. I followed, quickly, in her wake.

* * * *

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jayne & the Satanists --Chapter 2

* * * *

I had hoped the cat would be gone, or at least under the chesterfield when I got back in, but it was right atop it, and gave a welcoming hiss as I walked back into what I once thought of as my private residence. In the basket, there was some kibble in a paper bag, some canned salmon and Jayne’s addled idea of cat food, some cans of Dinty Moore stew. I poured myself a drink and the panther’s golden eyes watched my every move. When I came back from the can, I found the cat licking out my martini glass. It looked at me and something of the savage fire was dimmed from its eyes. Then, it yelped at me, no normal sound for a cat, but better than that malevolent purr.

I put its basket on the floor and it trotted over and rubbed its neck glands on it. Pulling open the kibble bag, I found a small silver spoon and a bowl that I almost dropped once I realized it was the top of a human skull. I opened the salmon and held it out to the cat. It shivered and huddled down. I thought I’d have the Dinty Moore myself, but, when I opened it, the cat began its hellacious purr and actually ran up and stroked my legs. I scooped some into the skull dish and set it on the floor. The cat lapped it up, all the while making ecstatic gustatory noises.

When it finished, it came over to me, licked the remnants of my drink, sniffed my crotch, settled down in my lap and fell into a quick snooze. Somewhat similar to its former mistress, I thought. Though she provided sex in trade and did not snore.

* * * *

I was in the shop at six a.m. reading transcripts of the police-radio overnights. Hy had been there for two hours and assigned me to check on a homicide just found in the alley outside the Hi-Lo Club and then to check out the woman who had been suspected of ‘napping her kid. She had called at 3 a.m. saying she’d be straight in the morning, but was mightily concerned about her kid right then. The graveyard secretary did not figure it was worth waking any staffers. “In a real dark night of the soul, it is always three o’clock in the morning,” said Hy.

“Sure, that’s a glib line, Hy, but will it get readers?” I decided the cops would be better interview prospects than the hungover honey about now.

By the time I got to the Hi-Lo, Pat Kennedy was heading for his car. When I asked him for the dope, he just looked at me, made the sign of a camera and pressed the shutter. “Piss off, leech.”

I knew his tantrum would pass, so I ran over to the meat wagon. “Guy’s name?”

The attendant said, “He’d been rolled pretty good by the time we got to him, no ID.”

“Can I see him?” They flipped back the sheet.

Through the blood and dirt, I recognized Al Stirling.

* * * *

Terrance Weigel, the editor of the Free Press, made my acquaintance over the blower. I devastated him with the news. Stirling was an ace legman. Weigel said today’s edition would just have to be late and he would talk to me. What more could there be about this missing babies story? Angry fathers? Illegal adoptions?

“Ritual murders,” he said, sighing.

“Yeah, I know about the dogs and stuff.”

“Killing dogs ain’t called murder,” he replied. “Al was the consummate reporter. He may have let you in on some of what he was researching, but he didn’t give you the whole story. Come down if you can,” he said.

I called Hy, said I was on the case and had a major lead, so I might have to phone this one in to beat deadline. He said no problem. The deadbeat mom probably was not going to crack an eyeball this press day anyway.

* * * *

The editor had obviously taken a couple of restorative drinks while composing Stirling’s encomium. When I walked in, his eyes were red either from tears or scotch. I sat for five minutes while he hammered the typewriter with vast experience. When he slipped the take into a vacu-tube to the typesetter downstairs, he turned to me. He asked how I knew Al and what we’d done that day. “While you were driving over, I got a call from the coroner. Al was beaten brutally. His fingers broken, his tongue cut out.”

“Mob style,” I said, “special treatment for rats or the yellow press.”

“Except that when they took his pants off they found that someone had carved a pentagram in his left calf.”

* * * *

After talking to the coroner on Al’s phone and typing out the story on Al’s Remington, I phoned it in to a secretary at The Insider. Then I drove back to Hollywood, with Al’s files on the seat beside me. I’d cut a deal with Weigel that in return for the files I would phone in a few stories on the investigation of Al’s death and would continue his research on his story. To avoid conflict with the Insider, my Free Press stories would be bylined: Staff Reporter.

I only knew one person who had any connection with the witchy world. The hack from The Bugle would have gone to the office a couple of hours ago and she would probably just be rising from his sheets.

Jayne was surprised to see me, but she was ready to roll, fresh as a pink orchid, already holding a small gin. I had a slug of the competition’s stock and she suggested we head back to the Pink Palace.

“Won’t Mickey be there?” I asked.

“Oh probably,” she said, “but he won’t mind.”

I’d been on the receiving end of the dagger eyes that Mickey Hargitay, Jayne’s regularly cuckholded boyfriend, shot at those he suspected of bedding his girlfriend. He wasn’t as easygoing about the whole matter as she thought.

The Pink Palace was the small mansion that Jayne maintained to give the impression of stardom. It cost a bundle, which added to the financial strain of supporting kids, dogs, cats and birds, as well as the live-in stud. Everything was pink: walls, curtains, carpet, furniture, even the pool. Slipping in unobtrusively was impossible with the welcoming baying of the hounds and yapping of poodles. I immediately asked to use the pink toilet when I heard Hargitay shouting a restrained welcome. Through the door, I heard raised voices and I perused Jayne’s medicine cabinet, pocketing a couple of white cross-tops, until I heard a door slam and Jayne called all clear.

We sat in a room decorated like a wad of cotton candy. I asked her about her connection to the Church of Satan. She recounted that she had started attending Anton LaVey’s Friday night meetings when she first came to Hollywood in order to advance her career. She ended up bedding LaVey, who also claimed to have slept with Jayne’s idol, Marilyn Monroe. When LaVey’s meetings grew, and he formed the Church of Satan, he made her an honorary priestess. The priesthood was bestowed on a number of celebrity acolytes including Sammy Davis Jr. She rarely attended meetings these days.

“What goes on there,” I asked.

“Bunch of ugly people dance around naked and try to fuck the good looking ones. Some men go with men, some women with women. Anton dresses up in his high-priest robes and tells us Satanist philosophy and about Alastair Crowley, the Great Beast. Lot of reefer, lot of cocaine, lot of codeine. Everybody gets feeling pretty weird and we ask Lord Satan to help us in attaining our ends. A lot of well-known people attend. But, I get sick of ugly warty guys walking up to me with their dicks in their hands.”

She said that she doubted the spiritual sincerity of most participants. LaVey, though, was a sincere guy, involved with a deeply held belief system. When I asked about the image of human sacrifice, she snickered and mentioned that one night LaVey had got a small piece of human thigh from a morgue attendant and that he had fired it up and they had each taken miniscule bites as a sacrament. “But as for sacrificing virgins, there aren’t any in Hollywood to the best of anyone’s knowledge.”

“Do you think LaVey has ever killed anyone for his rituals?”

“He gets asked that all the time and he refuses to answer. I think he’d like that image, but I don’t think he’s that inclined to action. Tony’s more of a thinker and a talker.”

“Would he talk to me about his beliefs.”

“He’d do anything if I did my little trick for him.”

“What’s your little trick?”

“He loves blondes, and me especially, and he loves to see women pee.”

I was momentarily flummoxed, but mimicked Jayne’s easygoing acceptance of this fetish. And they call me a yellow journalist. Carry on, I thought. “Is there anyone more radical than him.”

“Yeah, he get righteously pissed off when he talks about what he calls the fallen brotherhood, a group called the Evil Angels. They’re led by this guy who used to be Tony’s disciple, who calls himself Szandor Scream --that isn’t his real name-- and his buddy Ambrose Lynn. Scream always wears a ceremonial mask, horrible looking thing, supposed to be some demon, Pasuzu. There’s rumors that they sacrifice dogs and cats and stuff, so naturally I think they’re total scum.”

“Could you contact them.”

“There isn’t a door in this town that’s closed to the Boys,” she giggled.

* * * *

By Request: Johnny Leathernards

Johnny Leathernards is a short story designed to make you cringe. It became quite a cult favorite at the Emily Carr School of Art and was made into the animated short Below the Belt produced and directed by Liam Hogan and Trevor Watson, and featuring renowned actor Graham Greene. Below the Belt toured the world as part of the 1998 Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted Film Festival.

Herewith, the legendary Johnny Leathernards:

Johnny Leathernards

by Les Wiseman

He called himself Johnny Rocco, though his actual surname was Leathernards. He came from British stock as far back as the ninth century. In those days of famine, some ancestor provided for his family through the sport of ferreting: a popular diversion in which men competed for substantial purses. The sport consisted of contestants wearing large trousers with the cuffs tied tightly. Two food-deprived ferrets were dropped into the trousers and the waistband tied shut. The competitor who endured the fighting in his nethers longest was considered the winner. Times were tough.

Despite wear and tear on the nards, this ancestor begat progeny who followed in his footsteps. After the Norman conquest of Britain in 1066, it became fashionable that citizens take a surname. Many took their occupation’s name, such as Smith, Miller and Carpenter. It seemed natural for a ferreter to brag of his prowess. Thus was the noble name Leathernards coined. Ferreters kept to their own kind and thus intermarrying reinforced prized characteristics.

Though by 1960 the sport had fallen on hard times, the endowments of champions were being passed on when John came down the chute. These characteristics included a high degree of genital retraction and an epidermal layer like Naugahyde over the genitals. John took an unwarranted amount of abuse in the shower room and vowed to change his name the minute after graduation. He chose Rocco because it sounded tough head to toe.

* * * *

Johnny held his bankbook and moaned. His unemployment insurance had run out and his last check had gone on a night out with his now ex-ladyfriend. When you have genitals that retract at the slightest hint of anxiety and have the texture of cowhide, you try to keep any girl who will tolerate such.

When he awoke after blowing his financial wad, his girl had split, but not before telling him that he was good for nothing. That set his course.

He knew he was good for one thing.

He had known it in his bones --in his skin. But ferreting wasn’t in the Yellow Pages. He had to find a match.

* * * *

Redneck havens would be where he might find the remnants of this sport. Places where they still had cockfights, dogfights and men chewed plug tobacco. He rang up a major chewing tobacco company and asked where their largest rural sales were. From there, he called local newspapers. A reporter in the Ozarks township of Voll Holler leaked that there existed an underground cockfighting industry that was orbited by an active card of ferreters. The reporter said that the games surfaced when a participant had to be rushed to Little Rock hospital. Most participants were hillbillies too stupid to wipe their own asses. Though he did allow that some major coin revolved around the matches. A self-styled southern colonel named Byron Worthington was the honcho behind it and he was as corrupt as Satan, about as ancient, and likely richer. Johnny got the old gent’s number.

A phlegm-lined drawl that spoke of juleps and stogies barked over the line, "Worthington, how may I help you?"

"Mr. Worthington, I was wanting to speak to you about ferreting."

"Ferreting? Sounds like something you might do after eating beans. What is that, hunting ferrets?"

"No sir, ferreting is a sport around which gentlemen wager. I heard you knew something of the history. There might be some money in it."

"Well, son, my bells are ringing. I might know something about history. What’d you say yo name was, boy?"

"My name, sir, is Leathernards, Johnny Leathernards." Johnny heard a surprised intake of breath.

"Leathah-nahds, are you funnin’ me, son? Leathah-nahds is the most legendary name in the heraldry of the sport."

"I am the true scion of the line, sir. That’s why I called you."

"Why, whaddya mean?"

"I want to get back into... competition."

"If you really are a Leathah-nahds, I’d back you from here to Thursday. But how do I know?"

Johnny paused, stymied.

"How large is your male organ, Mr. Leathah-nahds?"

"In what position, sir?"

"In repose."

"About three inches."


"About 1/2 inch, sir. And the terminology is ‘in play.’"

"By God, you may be a Leathah-nahds. Take your penis out son, and tap it against the phone."

Tap tap, he knocked it against the transmitter. Suddenly, a horrid blast barked from the phone and Johnny’s johnson retracted instantaneously. "Johnny, you there?"

"Yes sir," said Johnny.

"Tap your tallywhacker against the receiver."

"There really isn’t anything to tap, sir," said Johnny.

"Well, I’ll be," said Worthington, "You really ah a Leathah-nahds."

"Yes sir," said Johnny looking down at his crotch, his dick a stubby thimble in the sleek sheen of horny skin that enshielded his genitals.

"Boyah, if you want to resurrect your ancestors’ honor, we need to toughen you into fighting trim. I’ll put you on the next flight to Little Rock."

* * * *

Johnny sat in the sitz bath, his genitals immersed in warm brine. For five weeks he had been Worthington’s guest. Competition was four days away. Alternate days he endured a half-hour genital and thigh whipping with willow switches. Around the clock he wore roughened chain-mail jockey shorts to build up the callus layer.

Worthington invested largely in fighting stock. He hired top animal wranglers to turn the little blighters into 18-inch lengths of spring steel with rapier claws and miniature mako fangs. Rabbi, Lorena and Vienna Boy were the most vicious demon-eyed vipers Johnny had ever seen. His old fella went into in-play mode at mere mention of their names. They were fed mountain oysters, shaved white mice and quail eggs. They were part of a team. These ferrets went into his opponent’s trou. He hoped his opponent had recruited older ferrets with timeworn teeth and stubby claws.

Worthington briefed him on the match. Otto Da Fe was a 400 pounder. His goolies were so encased in fat that they were protected. "But remember The Shawshank Redemption, Escape from Alcatraz, The Great Escape...?" Johnny did. "They were all about tunneling. I’ve been training our ferrets. I’ve had a cow cadaver solidified with concretion chemicals and those little buggers have been slipping through those intestines five hours a day. They know how to get the goods." Worthington lifted a dangling phallus and testes made of sausage and tossed it to Vienna Boy. "The Goods!" he laughed as the ferret tore into the sausage.

Johnny thought, "I’m having ferrets down my pants and he’s the madman."

* * * *

In the ruts outside the old barn, the BMWs and Mercedeses were outnumbered a hundred to one by pickups.

Johnny stood in the tent attached to Worthington’s trailer. The setting Arkansas sun’s rays turned him fiery orange as his two cornermen oiled his nude form.

Worthington looked him over. "Son, you are the Cassius Clay of ferreting. Why, your loins look like fine Corinthee-an leath-ah."

Johnny felt pumped. Every part of his loins was tight and insignificant, shriveled and wizened, locked in a tough unfeeling carcass of callus. His cock was a corn, his balls a bunion. His nards were leather.

The combatants came to the ring in their sailcloth trousers. The ferrets were brought in. Bourbon-reddened cheek by tobacco-stained jowl, the patrons howled for some jostling of the Jockeys, some fracas of the Fruit Of The Looms, some nether-gnashing, scrotum-scissoring ACTION.

"The main event, the best of one round, featuring the ferreting champeen of Pine Bluff, Otto Da Fe!" The crowd went wild: a lather of beer, sweat, whisky, reefer and flatus. "An’ in this corner, the true scion of the sport that crossed the waters on the Mayflowah, Johnny Leahthah-nahds."

Johnny felt the blue blood rise in his veins, the landed gentry would be displaced by a true lord. He felt his nethers snap shut like new Samsonite.

When his ferrets came out lashing like short-circuiting power wires, his cornerman handed him the traditional pint of rum and he slugged half of it back in two swallows. The only sanctioned anesthetic.

Then he saw the rival animals. They coiled and lunged like amphetamine-crazed rattlers, their little eyes red as the blood they craved. Johnny felt everything go loose inside him.

"Don’t worry son, you’re a shoo-in," cackled Worthington, stifling Johnny’s response with his bite-plate. A referee banged a bell and the cornermen each grabbed a waistband lace and led Johnny to center ring. The rum slammed into his brain like a White Freightliner. "Fuggit," he thought. "Within 10 minutes, I’ll either be $20,000 richer or a eunuch bleeding from every major artery below my waist." Otto was going to get Lorena and Rabbi, definitely the two meanest of Johnny’s team. Then two snarling, spitting fur stoles were waved in front of Johnny’s face. He gave the crowd the thumbs-up.

In the next moment, he felt a flurry in his pants and the laces tied tight. The game was afoot. Showing good form, both contestants clasped their arms behind them.

What was scary to the audience was genital loss. Indeed this concerned the competitor, however more common injuries involved major arteries in the groin and upper thighs. If a couple of those got slit, there was a serious possibility of bleeding to death before first aid could be administered. Thus, if the ferrets kept at each other, the contestant would suffer only minor contusions. If they got separated and went down a separate leg, the ensanguination could be immense as they clawed up from the tied ankles and vented their frustrations on any accessible flesh.

Johnny felt scratches on his oiled, horn-callused skin. The lads were engaged in their own business. He looked at his opponent. From ringside, he heard Worthington shouting, "Tunnel, you little beggars, dig for gold...!" Bless rum, thought Johnny, feeling removed from the scrimmage in his skivvies. Johnny looked on as his opponent’s shoulders trembled until Otto began madly tearing at his laces, his seconds running in with linoleum knives. Weighted netting was thrown over Otto while two wranglers with snap-nets snagged the ferrets.

"A submission!" shouted the referee from gore ground zero.

* * * *

In the dressing room, Johnny’s nethers were ministered to. The damage was viewed as merely nominal by Worthington. "Son, I’ve got something special for you." Johnny felt like a hero, like his world had come to an epiphany. He knew now he was no bull-teat.

"This here li’l missy is the legendary Ferret Queen." Worthington pulled over a silicone-enhanced bundle of tan curves sheathed in a pink satin bandeau and hot pants. She looked like a hard-lived Daryl Hannah on steroids.

"Johnny," she husked with a little shimmy running through her abundance, "ferreters turn me on. I know how to deal with their special... needs." Her tongue lashed around her lips like a hound fresh from a gravy dish. Johnny felt his loins ungird and prepare for a different sort of match. Worthington shoved a goblet of champagne, a check for $20,000 and the keys to the Little Rock Motor Inn’s bridal suite into Johnny’s hand.

* * * *

A month later, Johnny had a six-figure bank account and the Ferret Queen was "Miss Lisa" to everyone in the entourage.

His rise to prominence had not been without pain, however Miss Lisa ministered to his wounds and made his off-canvas life a hedonist fantasy. Indeed, some thought the sport was rising in popularity more as a result of her pneumatic presence in his corner than for anything that happened in the ring.

Johnny and his bloodthirsty ferret pack had humbled the eight best in the field and the organ of the sport, REAL Cockfighters, listed him as number two.

Gears were turning for an off-The-Strip Vegas winner-take-all world championship, best two out of three, over three nights against Frenchman Toni "The Iron Jock" DeSulka. The Euro champ had 12 wins, though he had lost five. Five that, as Johnny watched the videos, set his own nethers snapping shut like a giant clam. DeSulka had refused submission until his lips and fingernails had turned gray and the ref had stepped in to save his life. The Frenchman had blown most of his winnings at Monte Carlo’s baccarat tables. The Vegas matches would make or break him.

Though undefeated, Johnny knew Toni DeSulka was one tough, or desperate, son-of-a-bitch not to have cried "Uncle."

Johnny turned off the tape of DeSulka’s most recent match. Lisa had stripped and covered herself in heavy oil while watching the match. She was listening to her Walkman, her massive breasts swaying like bowling balls on polished silk.

Johnny loved her. His fantasies of menages-a-trois were indulged with Lisa procuring other women and uninhibitedly sexing them while Johnny watched or participated. Now, she caught his aroused ogling and smiled widely, standing, shimmering before him. Suddenly, from the street, a horn honked. Before he retracted, Lisa grabbed him like a retreating gooey duck and in her mouth he felt himself become a normal man again.

* * * *

Las Vegas. Neon city where on the back streets you could place a bet on a circle jerk. Johnny had revived ferreting to unheard of popularity. Though it was still an illegal activity, Johnny had been contacted by Playgirl and Numbers with big buck offers to do nude pictorials. Porn director Ron Jeremy was negotiating a Johnny and Lisa video and Rolling Stone said that Hunter Thompson would conduct an exclusive interview.

Of course, if he lost these matches he could end up being a nutless wonder begging on street corners.

* * * *

DeSulka arrived and met the press. He seemed drugged and apathetic.

Johnny, Lisa and Worthington watched from a hotel room via a closed-circuit link. When it was over, Worthington poured them all a stiff one and toasted, "To a match already won."

This looked like a cakewalk. Something wasn’t right.

* * * *

Night one, of three consecutive nights of pugilism of the pants, rodent rivalry, mayhem of the Munsingwear, a scrotal scuffle supreme.

Johnny came out like a god: tan, oiled and buff. DeSulka came out wan, bloated and fey.

The Frenchman never gave any indication, but the refs called it when, two minutes into the bout, he lay against the ropes, his eyeballs rolled up like venetian blinds and his trou whirling like a food processor.

As Johnny joyously watched replays of the match, Lisa drained away any turgidity that might have raised its head on the morrow.

* * * *

Next night, in the third minute of the second match, Johnny felt his confidence waver. DeSulka was grimacing, pouring sweat. A referee was standing by. Lorena and Rabbi were doing their stuff.

But then Johnny felt teeth penetrate his callused hide and a ripping sensation with tugging surges like a shark hitting a swimmer. "Oh...NO!" he thought. His trou erupted into a flurry the like of which he had never felt and when he looked down he almost brought up. His white trou were sopping with blood. He felt his knees go and he righted himself before he fell back against the ropes.

A new fury erupted in Johnny’s trou and he felt something slip in its casing. Fangs penetrated a testicle and without thought he screamed and the scream formed the word.

* * * *

When he came to, Worthington and Lisa were beside him. "Am I...? have I...?"

"You called it in time, Johnny," said Worthington. "You’re whole. The doc patched you up. You’re going to have some pain, but you’ll be able to go the distance tomorrow night."

"Again," Johnny muttered. "I’ve got to go in there tomorrow!"

Worthington raised his eyebrows. "That’s the million-dollar deal."

Johnny fell deathly silent; his eyes drooped shut. After a while Worthington and Lisa left. Johnny’s eyes snapped open and he grabbed the Yellow Pages. A bank machine wouldn’t make the nut. He looked up jewelers and pawnbrokers in the city that never sleeps. Then he grabbed the phone, his gold card and his checkbook.

* * * *

DeSulka’s goons were left in the anteroom ogling Lisa’s electric turquoise sport bra and hot pants set in hostess mode. Their boss’s safety seemed a far away concern as Lisa bent over with a tray of juleps.

In an adjoining office, DeSulka accepted a glass of red wine before sitting across the desk from Johnny. They both looked like death.

Johnny reached forward and uncovered a dozen small glistening diamonds set on a black velvet cloth. "Tax free, easily transportable, $60,000, redeemable anywhere in the world. Your manager need never know. You go 90 seconds, cry submission and you slink away, crying on the outside, laughing on the inside. I win. Seconds later, I retire. You’re number one in the world. I go legit and we never see each other again."

"My wife would kill me, we’ve been saving...."

"Look, you don’t get it. These diamonds give you a take-home only about $10,000 less than I’ll make as winner and you automatically command world-champion coin on your next match. Guaranteed. I’m taking a loss on this, but I’m still out of here with a down payment on a fried chicken franchise and I never hear the word ferret again."

"How do I know you will not betray me?"

Johnny stood up and undid his belt letting his trousers drop. DeSulka gasped. The left nut was bad. But the refs would pass it because of the amount of hype and money riding on this match.

"When this is over, I’ll lose the nut, but a guy can function with one. I’ll get a prosthetic for cosmetics and marry my Lisa."

"If you’re in such a bad way why should I throw the match?"

"Because you’re in a worse way. If you lose, you can barely afford plane fare home. Physically, you’re a wreck, too. This eliminates the risk for both of us."

DeSulka sipped his wine.

"You mustn’t tell anyone about this, not your manager, not your wife," said Johnny. "At least, not until we’re both out of the country. If you betray me or I find that you’ve told anyone, I’ll expose the scheme. You’ll be ruined in the sport... and I’ll just be ruined. No one would stand to gain.

"My manager will never know. I’ll pay him his cut and be out of his life. After nine centuries, I just want to get my family name out of this racket victorious."

"The ferrets might be more crazed than usual."

"That’s the chance we take. But no matter what, we have decided the outcome of this match."

"But your nard?"

"It’s a goner anyhow. We’ll sneak a shot of industrial-strength anti-inflammatory in before I leave the hotel."

DeSulka cringed as one who knows. "Why are you doing this?"

"I want to have something left. Most every ferreter thinks they’ll get out after one more match and they end up bleeding to death or with some artificial plumbing that never works as well as the original. I don’t want to have to turn a tap to take a piss; that’s the heart and soul of it."

DeSulka picked up the diamonds.

* * * *

That night, as Johnny took the ring, he looked convalescent. He didn’t want to appear confident. Besides, his injured nut was broadcasting a loud personal farewell to his brain.

He looked across at DeSulka who was similarly deathly. Sports fans loved the Grim Reaper’s presence though and the crowd was hollering like orangutans with sunburned asses.

When he felt his seconds pull the laces tight and the rats begin to roil he knew all that would save him was DeSulka’s decision.

Lasting 90 seconds with his left nut throbbing like a turn-signal to agony would be no stroll in the sun. He only hoped it wouldn’t slip out of his shrivel-pouch and be crunched like a Jordan almond. He glanced at DeSulka. His trou were popping like Orville Redenbacher’s best and his thighs were already stained with blood. "Probably could’ve won this honestly," Johnny thought, and before he knew it, DeSulka unlocked his arms from behind him and started to slap at his crotch. Then Johnny’s ears were filled with the most beautiful sound a ferreter can hear. "Submission!"

Johnny felt his arms raised by the referees. He made his way back to the dressing room. Yessir, he thought, the way out of this stupid sport, out of nard pain, into some suntanning and a pina colada without end. Lisa ran toward him in bulbous tangerine spandex. He was happy.

He saw Mrs. DeSulka approaching him, her lips wide with a twisted grin. "Oh shit," he thought. "She found out the arrangement. Oh well, as long as she keeps her trap shut until...."

...the explosion of the gun and... the nards, the genetic gift of generations, felt wet, burning, loose, and major supreme PAIN... and he stared into that crazy DeSulka bitch’s face, the smoking revolver, eyeballing death. Then his screen went gray.

* * * *

Johnny Leathernards’s eyelids raised like the granite lid of a crypt. Magnificent pain was there. Lisa, Worthington, DeSulka too. DeSulka asked for a moment alone. "We should have told my wife," he cried. "She was counting on this win for my operation."

"What operation?"
DeSulka moaned, "Every man gets into this sport for some reason that makes him think he can win. You have your tough skin. I am... transsexual; my wife is... lesbian. It is our dream that because I didn’t care about this thing between my legs, I could be a winner in this sport and finally raise the money for my operation, so we could live as a female couple. But in Europe, trying to increase my winnings by gambling I lost much money. This match would have given us enough. Because I could not tell her, she blamed you for robbing us of our future."

Johnny groaned. "So what was your plan?"

"I was going to go from the winner’s circle to the Las Vegas Dr. Sid Scissors Clinic for the sex change...."

* * * *

Johnny called for a private moment with his manager.

"How bad am I, Worthington?"

"You’re bad, Johnny," Worthington shrugged. "You’re lucky that the gun was a small caliber, but there’s nothing left down there. Still, you’ll heal and you’ve got nearly half a million in the bank that you didn’t have yesterday."

Johnny thought and he thought again and then he called in Lisa, who, to show her distress, was in a jet black lace bodystocking.

"Lisa," he said, "you’re bisexual, right?" She nodded. "And you want to be looked after, right?"

She nodded. "But Johnny, what I love about you is your soul...."

"Well," he said, "that’s intact.

"Lisa, I have an idea. I’m an adaptable man. I made all this money by adapting to what fate has handed me...." He paused. "Lisa, call the Dr. Sid Scissors Clinic for an appointment." He managed a laugh. "And, by the way, do you have the number of the surgeon who gave you those excellent hooters?"

-- 30 --

Friday, October 19, 2007

Jayne & the Satanists -- Chapter 1

Jayne & the Satanists

by Les Wiseman

“It’s sufficient just to know that sometimes, in the shadows of dusk, felines on huge paws still creep across the land.”

--Gary Turback

CHAPTER 1: The Boys

The phone woke me from disjointed night thoughts into my real-life dream. It was Hiram Lee, my editor at The Hollywood Insider. “Kid, get over to LaBrea and Franklin. Cops have found some viscera in a vacant lot, looks like it’s from a human baby, probably thrown from a car.”

“I’ll be there in fifteen minutes, Hy.”

“Make it ten,” he said and hung up.

I looked over at Jayne Mansfield, snuggled by my side. I nuzzled into her blonde hair and kissed her neck and ears. She smiled in her drugged sleep. I pulled her toward me and let the sheet slide off those magnificent breasts. Last night, she had made me the happiest man alive and I guessed tonight it would be the guy from The Bugle’s turn. She spread her favors around pretty thin and I fell into the rotation about every ten days. It always made my week.

As I shrugged into my clothes and grabbed my notepad and camera, she came out of her coma and lifted herself up on her elbows, not covering her chest. She slowly drew her lips into that luscious smile. “No time for an eye-opener, Danny Boy?”

I almost quit my job right there, but Jayne rarely favored boys without credentials. “’Fraid not, Sweetie,” I sighed. “Help yourself to whatever’s in the fridge and lock the door on your way out.”

I stepped over, pressed my lips to hers and felt my resolve fading, but I pulled away and turned to the door.

“Danny.” I turned back to her. “Say goodbye to the boys.” She held her breasts up and forward, her mouth puckered in a mock pout.

I ran back and gave each a kiss and a lick. “Oh Jayne, they’re so beautiful.”

“Thank you,” she chirped, pleased, and satisfied gave me a push to the door. “Get to work, and don’t forget my story in tomorrow’s Insider.”

* * * *

I zipped the Rambler to the curb behind a line of cop Chevs and spotted Pat Kennedy, the bull screw, standing in a group of uniforms. No other reporter around, yet. I hustled over. “Hey Pat, what’s the scoop?”

“Leave your lenscap on, Holcomb. Nobody’s taking pics of this mess.”

I shouldered between a couple of guys and stared down onto a black velvet square on which had been neatly arranged some internal organs. “Cripes, you sure they’re human, Chief? Look like they could be a dog’s or something.”

“Dom here says that he’s pretty sure they’re from a human baby, possibly newborn.”

Dom Simone, the old negro coroner, looked up from where he was kneeling. “I’ll know for sure within an hour of getting all this back to the morgue. Call me there, you’ve got my number.”

“Thanks, Mr. Simone. Any idea why they’re arranged like that?”

His expression was hard to read behind a surgical mask. “Could be some maniac’s idea of a joke, or maybe some of that ritual crap, like they’ve been finding around North Beach and Venice.”

Kennedy said a kid walking his dog had found it and that it appeared to be fresh. I could hardly look at it, but asked and was told what the individual organs were. “No heart?” I asked.

“Maybe the dog took a souvenir,” said Kennedy.

It was ninety minutes before deadline, so I would head for the office. Knowing Hy would give me hell for not getting a shot, I readied the camera and rested it on the passenger window ledge. When I had drawn up to the group, I tapped my horn. They looked toward me and I pressed the shutter. To a round of curses and shaking fists, I sped off.

* * * *

“One picture of cops! I give you the day’s top story and you bring me a picture of some cops standing around?”

“Hy, you wanted a picture of guts?”

The Insider was not the most high class of rags, but we drew an estimated four hundred thousand readers in greater Los Angeles with our natty blend of showbiz gossip and crime scandal. Good taste was not our strong suit. At twenty-seven, I was one of the golden-haired boys in the reporters’ ring. I’d written some doozies. Maybe you read Cary a Fairy? or Rock Rolls Both Ways? Still the cops liked me because I didn’t try to cook the murder stories and I knew when to buy a drink.

The fluff of the job was the daily grind stories of Hollywood. I stared at the new eight-by-tens that Jayne had supplied. They would sell papers, no matter what dreck I wrote beneath them. The girl was a marvel for publicity. She didn’t care what you wrote as long as the picture prominently displayed The Boys. They had made her a star and had maintained her in the hearts and shorts of every red-blooded American male. But, she had more than worn the dumb blonde roles out and no one was hiring her for much else. She was making a few bucks appearing at supermarket openings and car shows, but her earnings were having a hard time keeping up with habits like champagne baths, feeding three kids and about a dozen dogs and cats, as well as making the nut on her legendary Pink Palace. Booze and anxiety kept her from sleeping, downs put her to sleep and ups got her rolling in the morning and booze took the edge off the ups. She also felt that she was gaining weight and now the ups were not just for reveille, but were replacing dinner more often than not. But, I would keep writing about her as a glowing star in the Hollywood skies as long as I could stare down on that beautiful face while she bucked her hips and moaned and told me I was the best. Our unspoken agreement was: A lie for a lie.

* * * *

I got off the blower with Simone as the copy runner reached my desk. I typed in that the organs were definitely of human origin, an infant about a month old, and handed the take-sheet to the kid.

Time for some coffee. So I skipped down to Chasen’s to read the legit press’s morning editions. They’d all gone to bed before the viscera had been discovered. With any luck I’d scoop the other midday papers, especially that shmuck from The Bugle who covered the same beat and was probably going to be doing the horizontal hula with Jayne tonight.

Some of the other reporters were already there and I slipped in with them until I recognized a massive back and shoulders in a sharkskin jacket at the far end of the counter. I went over and slapped him on the shoulder. “Hello, Al. Long time no see.”

Stirling rotated on his stool and exhaled a faceful of booze. “Daniel, good to see you.” We caught up on old times since we had both left The Valley Times and he had gone over to The Santa Monica Free Press. I asked him what he was doing in town and he told me he was following a story about some babies missing from local hospitals. He had come down to check out a mother who had left her kids with their father and come to Hollywood to become a star. Now one of the kids had gone missing from a playground and he wondered if she’d had a change of heart and snatched the kid without telling the father, who had written her off as a gin-guzzling slut. Nothing had come of it, though.

I asked how old the kid was. Nearly a year, he said.

* * * *

That morning we knocked heads over our stories trying to find more similarities, but none were apparent, though he filled me in on some of the bizarre beach bonfires they’d been finding around his area and Zuma. Cops had found fire pits on the beaches and in clearings in the woods. Dog skeletons were found in the ashes. In one instance, they found a dog’s body, but a goat’s skull and horns. Near there, a group of kids had found a dog’s stomach. Police were notified and when the stomach’s contents were inspected they were revealed to contain strips of human flesh and skin that had apparently been taken from Caucasian people in strips one inch wide by two inches long. On the skin were tattooed pentagrams. Witchcraft shit.

This was grist for my mill, especially since none of it had passed the editor of the more respectable Free Press. I felt an award-winning series of investgative articles coming on. But, I had to go back to the office and hack out a few column inches on a well-known Cuban band leader who had drunkenly kicked the hell out of a stagehand for zipping up his TV-star wife’s dress.

I got home after five and was on my second gin, celebrating that none of the other rags had added anything important to my viscera story and none had any sort of picture, when the doorbell rang. It was Jayne, dressed to kill in a severely cut suit that locked every curve into lethal position. Trademark pink, of course. My hope began to rise.

She rushed in, whomped me into a liplock, then took the drink out of my hand and drained it. “Another?” she asked.

“Why not.” She was obviously speeding.

“Can’t stay for long. Got a dinner date.” My hopes crumbled, but I built the drink and handed it to her.

“Jayne, I’d give anything to have you all to myself.”

She smiled and tipped her glass into her wide mouth. She winked and popped her eyes in amusement. “That was a good one,” she gushed. “Yes, Danny, I know you want me for your own, but so does most of America, and you do actually get me. Loved your story today. Though I wished I’d got more than seven inches.” She arched one brow. “Anyhow, you’re such a good boy I brought you something to keep you company when I can’t be here with you.”

She set a basket down on the table and pulled off the tea towel that was covering its contents. Black lightning shot out at my throat and I dove to one side, cracking my knee on the couch’s arm and sending my drink crashing into the wall. Hissing atop the couch, its back fur spiked and tail cracking like a bullwhip, was the nastiest looking, biggest black cat I’d ever seen.

I looked back to Jayne. She was quaking with laughter, eyes bugged wide, drink splashing in one hand, the Boys held in check with the other.

“Nice kitty,” I said, as the cat tore a strip off the antique taffeta chesterfield I had been willed by my mother.

Jayne controlled her mirth enough to say, “His name is Lex and he hasn’t been fixed, but he doesn’t spray. He’s a total doll once he gets used to you.” She walked over to him and petted his head and I was astonished to hear a huge purr like something from a lion or a small motorcycle. Old Lex’s fur lay down like black silk and he wasted no time in insinuating his head between The Boys. “Sexy Lexie,” cooed Jayne.

“He’s yours?”

“No, silly, he’s yours, now.”

“Jayne, no, I’m never home....”

“You’re home more than anybody I know. You have the most regular job of anyone. And I brought food for a week.”


“Because you need somebody to cuddle with between my visits. Besides, I’ve got too many pets. Much as I love them, they take time away from me being a star. This morning my poor babies were all hungry because I spent the night with you.”

Her pupils buzzed around in their orbits like wasps and I could tell there was no reasoning with her. “How about a box,” I asked, defeated.

“It’s in the trunk.”

I pulled my suspenders over my undershirt and, in my slippers, I trotted out to the pink Caddie convertible that let the neighborhood know about my journalistic ethics. (And made men green and women curious.)

I felt conned. “Who else is getting a cat?” I said as I lifted the box to the retaining wall. “Hell, there’s turds in here? Couldn’t you have cleaned it out.”

“They need a familiar scent to get used to the box in a new place,” she said. “If you must know, I’m going to have dinner with Eric Boyer.”

“And then you’ll fuck him and tomorrow noon I’ll see my story on you paraphrased in The Bugle. Is he getting a damned cat?”

She shrugged, as if she’d never thought of the idea, but that now it had some appeal. “No, this is a special cat and you need him. That’s why I’m giving him to you.”

“I better get head next time I see you.”

Her mouth twitched. All the neighborhood was out now looking at the Caddie, the star, the hack in his undershirt and suspenders. “Okay, I have one left and though this is usually for studio heads, I want you to be happy about this.” She pulled herself to me. Worked her arms between us and held up an ampule. “Get ready, and I’ll tell you everything. She snapped the ampule, took a huge inhalation and held the glass under my nose. “Take a big sniff.”

With a chest full, I felt on the business end of two armed torpedos. The buildings melted around me. Jayne shoved her tongue in my mouth and there was nothing else and my trousers felt like they would rip apart. “Oh Jayne,” I moaned.

“Listen, that is a very special cat. Tony gave it to me and he said that I would never own it, that it was its own person. Lex isn’t his original name, that’s something else that you don’t want to know. Take care of the cat and he will take care of you. Take another hit.”

I sniffed again. I was rocketing into the sun. She kissed me again and I was vaguely aware of a crowd cheer starting from the various stoops and porches.

She pulled away. “I gotta go, baby. Are you okay?” I never felt less okay in my life. My head was spinning and my knees were weak. “It’ll wear off in about thirty seconds,” she said and stepped into the driver’s seat.

“Who’s this Tony you got the cat from?” I managed to get out.

“LaVey,” she said and pulled away from the curb.

* * * *