Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jayne & the Satanists --Chapter 20

With the camera crew, I moved to the stage. Ed was pointing the two cameramen to their POVs. They panned over Betty in her magnificence. I held a mini-spotlight and held it on Serena, who waved inebriatedly in its glare. Fumbling around, I managed to get the pistol in my hand. I kept my eyes on Scream, who stood with his arms outstretched presenting thiswretched tableau. The Japanese drumming pounded in my ears. This was it. I laid down my spot and stepped toward Scream. The pistol was concealed in the folds of my cape. I was going to put the gun to his head, tell him to call it off and hope for the best. It was the best I could come up with, and I realized as I moved that it had been my plan all along.

Ed would just have to disavow any knowledge of my intentions. Tom and Pete would get us to the van and we’d have to take it on the lam.

Scream’s mask turned to me, his arms faltering in their invocation. Then his arms clutched at his crotch. I did not know what he was trying to indicate. When he raised one of his hands, I saw it was stained with red. On his gold lamé, a stain appeared. Then he dropped his hands again to his crotch and sagged to the stage floor.

Ariana, in her glowing garb ran to him. Only now was the crowd starting to notice. Their eyes had been trained on Betty as she had been sweeping her bullwhip around Serena, drawing nearer, building anticipation for that first bite of leather into flesh.

I stepped backward and made like I had not seen and was merely adjusting a light. I jammed the gun back into my pants. Only then did the crowd noise register above the music. Costumed men leapt to the stage as Ariana’s cry rose above the din. A stampede surged toward the back door.

I grabbed Ed. “Okay, Ed you stay here with Betty, me and Tom and Pete are going to get Serena and fuck off.” He nodded.

* * *

Tom started the van. “What the fuck did you do? Shoot the guy in cold blood?” he yelled as he checked behind us and gave the van the gas.

“I didn’t do anything,” I said shaking my head and wrapping Serena in my cape. “Now get us the fuck out of here.”

“Where to?” he shouted.

“Bleeker and 13th,” I said. We had no stronghold, but I figured LaVey would be prepared for most anything. I kept waiting for the sounds of police cars or an ambulance, but I heard nothing but the rush of cars beside us.

* * *

As soon as we pulled up in front of the Lavey’s black gate, the house door was thrown open and LaVey ran out. We got the wasted Serena out of the back and hustled her into the house. I shoved some cash at Tom and Peter and told them to ditch the van in an alley at least a mile away, then make themselves scarce for a few days.

With the door bolted behind us, LaVey ignored me while he hugged and kissed Serena and put her to bed with a dose of Thorazine. I made my way to the bathroom and got the makeup off my face. I’d had the presence of mind to stash some spare clothes in the van and got out of the ridiculous vampire getup. When I came back to the living room, LaVey had regained his imperious composure although he was pacing the floor, not perching in his throne like usual. “Thank you, Daniel,” he said. “How did it go? Did she escape unsullied?”

“It was the craziest thing,” I said. “I was just going over to put a gun in Scream’s face and suddenly, he went down. Someone had shot him in the crotch. We just seized the moment in all the confusion and scooted Serena out the back way. We didn’t do sweet diddly.”

“Did anyone recognize you?”

“No, not with all that makeup on. Ed will be in a bit of trouble, but he’s just going to tell them that the other guys and I were just some rummies he picked up and that he doesn’t know an address.”

* * *

I caught a cab home and Lex seemed particularly happy to see me. I called Betty’s number, but she wasn’t home yet. Then I called Ed. It sounded like there was a party going on there.

* * *

“There’s a party going on here,” Ed yelled into the phone.

“What the hell are you partying for?”

“Because we got some money,” I gave one of the honchos the gears about paying for rented equipment and said we weren’t leaving until we got it and everything was in such a state of confusion that he whipped out his wallet and gave us $200 and gave Betty even more. Whoohoo, party time.”

“Ed, who shot Scream?”

“Who shot Liberty Vallance? I dunno. It wasn’t you. Your conscience is clear. They didn’t even peg you for taking Serena. They lay all the blame on Tom and Peter, who I said I didn’t really know. They can’t call the cops and report the kidnapping of someone they already kidnapped. As far as I can see you’ve come out of this scot-free. C’mon over and party. Bring the blue chick if you want. She looks like a good time.”

“Yeah, right, Ed,” I said. “Anyhow, I might be along in a while. How’s Betty doing?”

“She’s lit up like a house afire, havin’ a hell of a good time.”

* * *

I hung up from Ed and dialed up Jayne. “Any word on what happened to Scream?” I asked.

“Sadly, whoever shot him missed his knackers,” she sighed. “There were some doctors there and word was that he was shot cleanly through his upper right thigh.”

“Will he be going to hospital?”

“I don’t think so. He would obviously try to avoid being traced. So it doesn’t look like you’re going to reveal Batman’s secret identity tonight, Scoop. For a second there, I thought you were going to pop him, but the shot definitely came out of the audience.”

“Did anybody see who did it?”

“Are you kidding? In all that turmoil and argybargy? There were people having sex without anybody noticing.”

“So what did you do after it happened?”

“I just went and found Mickey and we waited about ten minutes to get our car and then we buggered off and got home and into some sensible clothes.”

“I didn’t know Mickey was going?”
“Well, you weren’t going to be my date and I didn’t want to go unchaperoned.”

I thought of something. “What did Mickey go as?”

“He was great. You should’ve seen him. He was Julius Caesar, with his hair all combed forward and a brass breastplate and one of those little skirt things that barely covered his business, sandals with thongs up his legs, a real sword and this great red cape that almost strangled him while he was driving. He got so pissed off he threw it out the window on our drive home. We got all the stuff from the Fox costume department. They’re going to be pissed when I say Mickey lost the cape.”

“Sounds hep,” I said. “Which way did you come home?”

“We just zipped along Sunset, missed all the traffic and everything. Why do you ask?”

“Just wondering. I got stuck in traffic.”

“But you got Serena, didn’t you.”

“Yeah. She’s at home with Anton now. He’s probably trying to wash that blue crap off her.”

“That’s super. She sure looked messed up. I wish Scream had been shot in the nuts.”

“Me too. Then he would have had to go to hospital and I could trace him down. Anyhow, I think I’m going to head over to Ed Wood’s and have a drink. He’s having a party because even in the eye of the maelstrom, he managed to get paid.”

“Is she going to be there?”


“You know, the Bettie Page lookalike that you’ve been porking.”

“Is that the green-eyed monster I hear?”

“Just don’t give me a dose next time we get together,” she said and hung up.

I sat back and stroked where my mustache used to reside. Lex jumped up in my lap and I stroked his lustrous black fur, feeling its crackle of electricity. Brass breastplate. A perfect place for concealing a pistol. A big cape. Perfect for concealing the shot. Then discarded to get rid of the bullethole. Mickey had motive. He wasn’t with Jayne when the shot was fired. I figured there were pretty good odds that our man Mick was the one who saved my bacon by taking the initiative.

Enough detective work for one day.

I got up and quickly typed out five hundred words on the party and its upset. I felt like a drink or six.

I dropped off the copy at the paper and picked up my messages, then I skedaddled before anyone tagged me for an assignment.

* * *

When I got to Ed’s it was like a scene from Satyricon. Betty shone like some heavy-lidded goddess of dissipation among the gargoyles that were Ed’s social circle. Even the fortifying effects of wearing ladies clothing seemed to have failed Ed as he staggered from guest to guest proclaiming his genius and pontificating on new projects and the stupidity of the Hollywood moguls who refused to finance them.

Trixie, the daemon film student, came up to pour me a drink. Wasted, she looked even more terrifying, but she kept pushing her ample chest against my arm and I felt myself warming to her.

Betty emerged from the bathroom, her nose a fetching red. I excused myself from Trixie and went over to see Betty. The dagger eyes I received from dismissing Trixie sent chills through my groin.

Betty had managed an interesting look with baggy harem-style sweat pants pulled over her garters and nylons, her feet were in running shoes. However, on the top, she still wore her leather corselet. Her black hair was wild, the room’s humidity having returned some of its natural curl. A sweat-damp forelock fell over her forehead where before there had been perfect bangs. The goddess reserve was gone, too. She shrieked when she saw me and barged through the crowd to throw a hug around my neck that almost snapped it. Her leather-clad breasts almost poked holes in my chest.

“Watch it or you’ll hurt somebody with those,” I gasped.

She pulled back with an ear-to-ear, rubber-lipped grin. “Oh Danny, we did it,” she giggled.

“Or, at least, somebody did it,” I said.

* * *

“Let’s get out of here and go back to my place,” Betty slurred. “I’ve still got some nose candy left and I feel in the mood for fun. The ogres around here look like they’re going to start throwing up soon.”

We gathered up Betty’s stuff and said good-bye to Ed, who was barely registering social interaction by this point. As we exited, I looked over at Trixie who stuck out her tongue at me. This would have been unremarkable, but for the length of the appendage. It dropped past her chin and then the tip curled toward me and waggled independent of the supporting tissue. I knew that picture would stick unbidden in my mind for far too long.

I was the envy of anyone who looked in the car as I drove to Betty’s. She could not sit still and was dancing around in the car to little pop tunes that she was humming. She looked wild, dangerous and delicious.

When we got back to her place and I was dragged into the bedroom, I became a man of the world. Every which way from Tuesday.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Jayne & the Satanists --Chapter 19

“I think it’s Serena,” Betty whispered. “But she’s so out of it and Scream wouldn’t let me alone anywhere near her to ask. They’ve shaved her bald and, dig this, they’ve dyed her blue.”


“From head-to-toe, Daddy-O. Blue as a vein.”


“And what she’s whacked on, who knows, but she ain’t in Kansas anymore, Toto.”

“Will we be able to get her out of here?”

“If you can get at her, it’s just a matter of hefting her over your shoulder. She has no idea of where she is, or even that anything is wrong. And she’s bald and has blue skin, mind you. You won’t get any cooperation from her, she’s so zoned that Scream had to take a leak, told her to open her mouth and he used her like a urinal. I’m in the degradation business and that was the weirdest, I’ve seen.”

“So what about the snatch?”

“How fucked up are you? It’s shaved, too.”

I rolled my eyes. “No, you nitwit, getting her out. Can we do it before or during?”

“Before will take some doing. During, I could say we need more drugs or she’s going to barf, actually that wouldn’t stop anything. They’d probably like that. But it might work.”

“Where’s Scream now?”

“He’s gone back to the main house to get dressed.”

“Then take me back.”

“Can we risk it?”

“I’ll take some electrical cable with me, and some tools, and you be ready to drop the bathrobe if anyone sees us.”


“Distraction. I suppose you know this, but you look so gorgeous I’d crawl over broken glass to lick your kneecaps.” Which gave me an idea.

* * *

The walls were simple gray concrete and there was no use slithering along them. If I was caught here, we would have to tapdance fast with the excuses. Betty took off the robe and I was mesmerized by her tiny waist cinched into the sleek leather corset, her hard butt bobbing along with only a whisp of panty making it a panty at all. Her legs were long and beautifully muscled shining in black silk stockings. Her heels clicked abominably loud in the hallway. She looked over her shoulder at me and laughed as she caught me ogling her butt. I quickly held a finger to my lips. She was persona grata here. I was the one who was where I shouldn’t be.

As we walked along she suddenly stopped dead, reaching back with black satin-gloved hands. I immediately saw what was happening. A light was growing larger at the intersection of our corridor and the next. “Stay!” I whispered in her ear and hunching low I shuffled back as quickly as possible. My knees creaking and my running shoes squeaking like hungry gulls. I didn’t think I’d make it, but I got back to the previous intersection and whipped around the corner. Then I sank to my knees and peered around.

Betty was leaning against the wall, one stockinged ankle lifted, inspecting the buckle on one of her shoes. Then the light flashed down the corridor and I pulled back behind the corner. A deep voice rumbled out, “Ah Miss Payne, having a problem. Perhaps I can be of assistance.”

Then Betty’s voice, “Not unless you can design more comfortable high heels. I’m fine, you’re just getting a behind the scenes shot of the glamour. The star getting a blister.”

“Can I get you a small bandage.”

“I have some in my dressing room, thank you. I’m just taking a load off for a second. Please, carry on.”

“As you wish. I’m very much looking forward to tonight’s performance.”

“Thanks, I’ll try to give it my all.”

The light faded from the hallway and I waited a few seconds and peaked around. Betty was waving come on.

I hurried back to her. “That guy, whoever he was, will probably be coming back shortly, let’s get to the dressing room.” She peaked around the corner to make sure he was gone and we shuffled back up the way he had come. Finally, we got to a closed door and Betty opened it. I was pulled in to a room about sixteen feet square. It had a plain dressing table with mirrors against one wall, a couple of chairs and a couch and carpets on the floor. A small icebox stood in one corner and a door led to a toilet cubicle. Betty bolted the door behind us and turned to grin at me. “So far so good,” she said. “Time for a little lash.”

“Don’t joke, Betty. I don’t want to be whipped right now.”

“I like the emphasis on ‘right now,’” she said, with an evil cock of her eyebrow. “But what I meant, was the white lady.” She lifted the lid off a butter dish and there, layed out, were a dozen little rows of white powder about the size of small drinking straws. She produced a short glass tube and put it in one nostril and closing the other nostril with a finger, she snuffed up one of the rows into her nose, then she moved the tube to another nostril and inhaled another row. “Your turn...” She held out the glass tube.

White lady, cocaine, but I was no dope fiend, so I waved it away. “We don’t have time.”

“How long did that take, ten seconds? Do it,” she said, “It’ll make your senses sharper, give you more energy.”

“I don’t want to get woozy,” I insisted.

“It doesn’t work that way. Just do it. You won’t regret it.”

I didn’t have time to waste in an argument, so I did like she showed me. No big deal, but then I felt a gagging sensation at the back of my throat. Maybe I’d ODed. I asked her about it and she said that was normal.

“Okay, I’ve indulged you,” I said. “Now where’s Serena?”

“She’s down a couple more intersections. But how are you gonna get in?”

I held up my lockpick, which had come in handy over my career. “I hope this will work.”

* * *

She wasn’t there.

“Did Scream say anything about moving her?”

“Not to me.”

“Then where the fuck is she?”

Right then though we heard some voices coming down the hall. I pulled the door shut and we hustled back to the first intersection and ducked into the shadows. “Quick,” whispered Betty, get down on your knees.

“What?” but she shoved me down and pulled me to her crotch, grinding into my face. Just then a light flashed on us. “Ah Miss Payne,” then the light traveled down to illuminate me as I got the idea and labored on.

“Get the fucking light off me,” shouted Betty and then moaned, “I’m gonna come, so leave us alone.” She bucked and quivered and let out a a series of moans. Then her woice rang out again, “I told you to get fucking lost. Now do it, you fucking pinhead!” Through slitted eyes, I saw the light move away. “Sorry, Miss Payne.”

“That’s Mistress Payne to you, you peeping-tom piece of shit, now run!” And I heard hustling footsteps receding.

She gave me a final grind in the face and pulled me up. “Quick thinking,” I said.

“Yeah, as a domina you learn to be a bit of a drill sergeant. Nobody fucks with me. Especially when I’m having sex.”

“Who was it?”

“It was that muscley thug. Anyhow, I think we better get you back to the show. They know someone is down here with me and that can’t be good.”

I could hear the blood rushing in my ears and I was torn between my sudden arousal, the dope in my blood and fear of being caught. “Let’s get back to your dressing room.”

Inside the room, Betty grinned, “You’re going to have to redo your lipstick.” I looked in the mirror and saw that my red mouth was smeared all over my upper lip and chin.

“I’ll scout around, try and get in the main house” and report back to you.”

Betty walked me back to the stage and I saw Muscles giving me the eye and then shaking his head in congratulation, as much as disbelief, at what he’d just seen. Betty glared at him imperiously then winked and broke out laughing as she turned her back and disappeared into the catacombs.

* * *

My senses seemed unusually sharp as I pressed myself against the wall and sidled toward the sound. The music was from those pan flutes that I had seen in National Geographic. Eerie stuff with strange shrilling harmonics that oscillated against each other. Easy listening music for vampires, I mused. The surroundings seemed a bit familiar and it struck me that the room I was approaching was the one where I’d been with Ariana before when Scream had left us to go have his way with Jayne.

A purple light filtered into the darkened hall from under the door. The noise of the flutes covered any sounds I might make and I turned the knob and cracked the door slightly. The whole room was lit in an unearthly violet. Inching the door open, I felt like I had been hit with a mallet. Standing in profile in front of a metal stand holding a smoking incense burner was Ariana. My heart had stopped because every inch of her from her white floor-length gown to the lengths of her hair had a slightly green irradiance. Her arms floated delicately through the incense smoke and, although I could not hear it over the pipes, she seemed to be chanting. She was staring at a goat skull that was glowing with the same unearthly light and seemed to be floating in mid air about three paces in front of her.

A ghost? I’d never seen anything like it. I wondered if that white lady that I had snuffed up my nose was making me hallucinate. I watched her sway and gesticulate. What the hell was this?

I’m not much of a believer in ghosts, but since I’d associated with LaVey, my convictions about matters supernatural were being eroded. Whatever the apparition was, it was not helping me with my quest. I skittered out the door and shut it as best I could. My nerves were jangling like I’d bitten into an electrical cable.

I slithered along the walls wishing I had a vampire’s powers and could crawl along the ceiling. When I came to another door, I cracked it and, checking that it was vacant, I slipped in. Here again was another desk and although the room was much smaller than Ariana’s lair, it had a more businesslike air. Filing cabinets were along one wall. No occult knickknacks. This was probably where Scream did business. The doors to the other rooms could be shut and this would be where guests from the straight world would be met. I hurriedly closed the door behind me and flipped the deadbolt.

I opened the desk drawer first. Standard stationery supplies. Then I went to the file cabinets. Manila folders were neatly labeled and as I thumbed through them I recognized the names of prominent businessmen, city council members, even cops. This was the motherlode. Cracking a file open I saw that there were ledger sheets and photos of a particular councilman in a dark robe engaged in some witchcraft ceremony. There were also handwritten notes. A cursory scan of these indicated that this councilman favored drag queens as dates and poppers as his drug of choice. There were files on Al Sterling, Jayne, the mayor, LaVey and myself. I grabbed what I thought would be a concealable number of files and shoved them into my cape’s pockets. You hear about detectives rummaging through someone’s files until they find something that will solve a case. Well, I had found something, I did not know what, but I did not have the guts or nerves to stay in the room. Any minute someone could come in and find me and then where would I be? I shut the cabinet and took the egress.

Feeling the files flap heavily against my body, I lurched for the way back to the dressing rooms.

When I knocked, Betty opened the door and I could see she was on her way to Slursville. Unfortunately, that merely made her more attractive. Her eyes glittered mischievously, their lids slightly heavy. Her face was flushed, her lips seemingly poutier. She giggled at my undead appearance.

I shoved the door shut and swung my cape off. Then I pulled out the files and started going through them. “Betty, we have something here. I dunno what, but it’s something.” I told her about the various honchos mentioned in the files. I handed her a file with her name on it. Meanwhile, I checked my own dossier. I was referred to as “a muckraker, hatchet man and career assassin.” My esteemed publication was denominated “the city’s top asswipe.”

Betty hissed at references to her as twenty-buck whore and has-been never-was with a remarkable resemblance to a former celebrity. She read to me that it also claimed she would be easily manipulated through supplied drugs. I shrugged and looked meaningfully at the mirror of white powder on her dressing table. She curled her lip at me.

I opened a six-by-eight envelope and the world dropped out from under me. I refused to look at more than the first couple of photos. My lost evening had been graphically documented and what I saw was enough to build my rage to a level where I wanted to burn this fucking house down to the ground. But I could not process that right then.

With hands that I hoped Betty would not see trembling, I shoved the envelope back into the folder and tried to concentrate on the next file. It was not hard when I saw the name Merlin Chambers, a top attorney known for his ability to get celebrities off their legal troubles. I think he’d been the first choice for defending Mitchum on his gage bust, but someone else was chosen and Bob went to the crowbar hotel, albeit briefly. I called Chambers’s office regularly for details on stories. At first, I was put through to the man himself and his response was always the same: “Fuck off.” These days, I got no further than his secretary and she had picked up the same refrain.

I found it hard to hold a contiguous train of thought. My concentration kept flickering with images of what was in my personal file. But I kept on with Chambers’s file when I saw the notation, “Magik name: Yog Saltar. Third ring of daemons. Grand master. Familiar: Golem. Vices: gin and erotic asphyxia.”

Betty tossed her folder over to me. “What’d it say about you?” she asked.

“That I was a loathesome hack who enjoyed destroying careers. But, more interestingly, Scream seems to have some fairly powerful associates involved in his little coven. He’s also taken the time to list all their naughty little secrets. So these will be very helpful. Trouble is, they don’t do us much good right now. By the way, I saw Ariana’s ghost.”

“What?” Betty shrieked incredulously.

I told her what I’d seen and asked her if the drug might have caused me to hallucinate. “Not unless you’d been awake for four days doing tons of it,” she assured me.

What the hell had I seen?

A knock came on Betty’s door. “Entrance in 30 minutes, Miss Pain.” said a voice. Betty yelled that she would be ready.

“I’d better be getting back then,” I said, secreting the files back into my cape. I still don’t know what we’re going to do. I certainly don’t want you doing what Scream wants to Serena.”

“That makes two of us. Think fast.”

I nodded and headed out the door.

* * *

The room had filled substantially. Probably three hundred masked revelers thronged the area. No one in our crew would be construed as even remotely out of place. There were vampires and Vampiras, daemons and dominas, sorceresses and mages. The predominant motif was black. The favored jewelry the inverted cross so favored by Satanists. LaVey told me that he thought the symbol was stupid since it had been a Christian symbol, the cross of St. Peter who had requested to be crucified upside down in order to appear lower than his Lord. LaVey disdained sham.

Ed was running things expertly. I could not get over how, when he put on women’s clothes, he immediately ceased being quite such a screw-up.

He pulled me over into a corner and asked, “What’s the play, Shakespeare?”

I felt horrible; I did not know.

There were torches everywhere and I briefly thought I should just set the place on fire, but that seemed too broad a stroke. Making off with Selena somehow was the only way. I went over to one of the klieg lights and untaped it. I put the .32 in the back of my waistband.

The music was some weird recording of a Japanese drum ensemble, very hypnotic and complex. It was also giving me a throbber of a headache.

A nubile nymph, the fairy kind, in a diaphonous body suit came up to the stage holding a tray of drinks. Some were shotglasses of mushroom tea, but I avoided those. I helped myself to two glasses of rose champagne. The nymph pointed to the little crusted sugar skulls and dropped one into my champagne. It fizzed and she made a motion to drink it right down. It was quite delightful. Ed made his way over and tried the champagne with a skull. He too found it pleasing and gobbled two more glasses in short order. Then a fey young man dressed in a winged helmet and a loin cloth, and holding a caduceus came by with a tray of hors d’oeuvres. The crew descended and the tray was picked clean in short order. With a raised eyebrow, Hermes skepped back through the service entrance.

Though I had not seen it, there must be a kitchen back there somewhere.

Suddenly, the drumming ceased and there was a peel of trumpets. Spotlights flashed the main stage and the twin beams crossed to cause a brilliant X on the wide altar-like podium at the center of the stage. I checked the ceiling and saw on either side, projection booths set in the upper walls.

I was expecting a theatrical entrance and I was not disappointed. With a concussive boom, the altar exploded in an arc of golden sparks. From our vantage point, we could see what the audience could not. Scream raced out from a concealed doorway at the back of the stage. When the flares abated, he stood there glorying in his cheap trick, his arms raised. He wore his daemon mask as always and a pleated gold lamé robe that, with his arms outstretched, looked like an inverted Japanese fan.

The crowd erupted into applause and hoorahs at the sight of him. “Flashpots,” said Ed, beside me. “They’re rigged on the floor behind the altar. Gunpowder and smoke compound, set off electrically. I’ve used them in a couple of films.”

I nodded. My vision still bore the blue arcs imprinted on my eyes by the flashes. I was glad I had not had any mushroom tea or my brains would be melting out my ears.

Scream’s amplified voice cut through the cheering. “Welcome disciples of darkness. Tonight, we gather in celebration of Samhain, the feast of the elder gods. Tonight, we pay obeisance to Lord Satan and thank him for the success and wealth he has given those of us who have been faithful and devout in our worship.

Amid cheering, he continued. “We who worship him know that some of life’s greatest pleasures are those that conventional society is too weak to grasp. Tonight, we will celebrate our Lord with revenge. There are those who claim to be our brethren, yet who actually oppose us and hinder our cause. Tonight, they will feel our wrath. Bring out the infidel!”

Two muscled goons brought a naked Serena onstage. She was not resisting. Her eyes were almost rolled up into her head and her steps were faltering. Betty came up beside me. “Well, what’s the plan? I don’t think we can hesitate any longer.”

The audience gasped at Serena’s bald and blue appearance.

Then Scream said, “And to oversee the penance for those who oppose us, I conjure up one from the nether realms. The lights went out for a second and the flashpots flared again causing some of the more timid princes of darkness to let out feeble shrieks. And through the darkness onstage a greenish white blur appeared. As it moved toward the front of the stage and became gradually distinguishable the audience gasped as one. There stood Ariana, regal and haughty. And glowing like a lightbulb. As the lights came up, she seemed to solidify and gain a more corporeal form.

A chant began. “She is risen; she is risen....” I heard Ed’s voice beside me. “Phosphorescent skin paint. I’ve used it in a couple of my films. Pretty impressive. They’ve impregnated her clothes and her hair, the whole ball of wax. But, uhm, who’d they pull out of that car wreck?”

“Beats me,” I whispered. “But it was obviously a plant. Which means that murder can definitely be connected to Scream.”

“Not materially,” said Ed.

“No, not yet.”

“And now, the high priestess of pain, Miss Betty Payne. Betty slunk onto the stage to applause and gasps. She looked spectacular in her shimmering leather, her hair glistening, her eyes made up wildly in shades of red and purple. In one hand, she carried a bullwhip that she cracked over the heads of the audience. Still, she kept glancing furtively over at me, wondering what to do.

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Friday, March 7, 2008

Jayne & the Satanists --Chapter 18

From their caverns in his skull, LaVey’s eyes lit up when he saw Betty. “My Lord, Miss Payne...,” he stammered.

Betty held out her hand as he ushered us into his living room. “How do you figure into this mess?” asked LaVey.

“I better field that one,” I said, as we took seats. Lex slid out of my arms and scuttled off to see Zoltan. “We think Scream has Serena. Betty and a friend went over to meet him in regards to filming part of his Halloween party.

“And the party’s centerpiece is to be the sexual humiliation of a woman. I think it’s probably Serena and that Scream wants to film the act so he has something to lord over you, to keep you in your place.”

LaVey stood, barely containing his fury. His shoulders trembled with rage. “I’ll kill him,” he shouted. “I’ll destroy everything he’s ever loved. I’ll see his eyes plucked out and his teeth smashed down his throat. I’ll burn his house to the ground.”

“We have a way of infiltrating the party, Mr. LaVey,” I said, trying to calm him. “We’re in charge of the film crew that’s been hired to document this and Betty has been offered the job of dominatrix. She’s on our side, a key operative.”

LaVey stroked his beard. “So what the hell does that get you? You have access, then what do you do?”

I felt myself flush. “I don’t know. Presumably, we infliltrate the place, ascertain that it is Serena, get to a phone and call the cops. We have possession of the film, so Scream doesn’t get it and the bulls bust him for kidnapping.”

“That house of Scream’s has dozens of hidden chambers,” said LaVey. “Serena would be secreted away at the first sign of trouble and no one would ever find her. Then, he would know that someone was working from inside and the most obvious shills would be your filmmaker and Betty. They wouldn’t get out alive.”

“What’s the alternative? Do we go in armed and try to hold an entire party and his security goons at bay while we nab Serena?”

“You couldn’t get guns in the house, his security goons would check everyone extremely well. He’s known for that.”

“What about a curse,” I asked.

Betty guffawed, “A curse.”

LaVey stared at her for a moment, then turned back to me. “A spell would take too long to take effect. The concerns of mere mortals are not a top priority for the unseen ones. We don’t have time to wait on the whims of a lesser demon.”

“Well then what?”

“Let me think....”

* * *

I let Betty off at her house. “Would you like to come in?” she asked.

“Sure,” I said, then joked, “but I don’t have much cash left after the other night.”

She locked eyes with me and unleashed a glorious smile. “Oh well, some other night then.” She turned and headed up her walkway.

I was devastated, but started up the car and drove away. Was this how it always was with her? Hell, Jayne Mansfield found me attractive enough to boff without being paid. Then I started wondering about that. Jayne got paid in publicity. Was I deluding myself? Did women only see me as a means to an end? Betty’s quick remark had thrown a wrench into my self-esteem.

I drove around and cruised hookers for an hour and talked to Lex who moved into the passenger seat, fascinated with the smells coming in through my window and with the glittering lights of Hollywood Boulevard.

I wracked my mind for a plan.

* * *


Ed and the camera crew arrived two hours before the party was to start. When I had left him, he was done up like a ten buck hooker. Blonde wig, mint green angora sweater with impressive falsies, calf-length gray gabardine skirt, black high heels. Betty had done his makeup, so he looked good --as drag queens go. Somehow his gear loosed him from the binds of something that always distracted him and he was all business, more professional than I’d ever seen him before. Betty was in a plain black sweater and pleated slacks, her leather and silver domina gear folded in her overnight bag.

Ed’s crew were two young rummies, Tom and Peter, that had been warned to be on their best behavior with the promise of a bottle each at the end of the night. A UCLA film student named Trixie Thomas was handling continuity and setups. This was a bit of a joke, since how much continuity could there be in a straight one-camera loop? But Ed liked her and wanted to milk Scream’s pocketbook. Trixie was a rough piece of work. She made her tuition by hooking. I thought she looked familiar, as if I’d seen her on the street. She was blonde and stacked and had a hatchet face, all sharp angles and nasty looking eyes under tarantula lashes.

Ed had stashed my gun and another .38 I’d picked up in the body of a tower lamp. We’d wrapped them in insulation to keep them from getting too hot and to hide them even if someone happened to open the light. We’d use it as an extra and just have it lying on the floor. I’d removed the screws on the lamp’s backing and held the back on with gaffer tape for quick access. It didn’t look out of place with the rest of Ed’s well-used equipment.

Jayne had been advised of the guns’ location as well, in case anything happened to me.

Betty the beautician had done a good number on me as well. I was pretty confident of my disguise. I’d shaved my mustache. With a Beethoven-length black wig, slick white pancake makeup over my face and my eyes and lips made into black holes, I was a fearsome vampire. I also had a cool cape and Ed advised me that if I felt my disguise slipping, just hold the cape over my face. “It worked for me in Grave Robbers,” he said, completely unaware of how that gambit had not worked for him in Grave Robbers.

To give the crew continuity, the light and sound men were given the vampire treatment too. They didn’t get swell capes though.

Betty backcombed Trixie’s hair and sprayed it with temporary flame red. Then she dabbed her with pancake white and made her eyes up in red and black, with black strokes outlining her lips and pulled down at each corner to give her a perpetual frown. It worked spectacularly with her own face’s contours and she looked remarkably like some insane banshee fresh from the fires of Hell. Her costume was only a red body suit that showed off her awe-inspiring figure. Sex and damnation embodied. I thought she was giving me the eye, but in that getup, I didn’t want to meet her eyes. Too damned scary.

Vampire Tom drove the truck over to Scream’s and, as instructed, we pulled around the back to the service entrance. Two muscle boys patted us down for weapons and showed us where the action would take place. It was where the ceremony that Jayne and I had attended had been held. The sex thing was set up in a slightly raised alcove to stage left from the podium. There were two bondage crosses, Christian and inverted. There was a stocks. Chain manacles had been attached to the rear wall. A tubular metal harness chair was shoved against one wall. At the back of the stage was a black leather chesterfield and a couple of giant mirrors, one angled over the stage to give a bird’s-eye view to the audience. The alcove was about ten feet deep with exits to backstage and the dressing rooms on either side. Lord knows what sort of tableaux had been enacted here before, but this was a serious setup. A black velvet curtain could be drawn across the front of the stage, which was why I had not noticed the area on my previous visit.

Tommy asked where the power was and one of the muscle boys showed him an outlet, but, as we had planned, Tommy shook his head and threw a coil of electrical cord over his shoulder. “We’ll have to see the fuse box,” he said. “To see where your 220 volts comes out. We might have to run a line from the stove or hot water tank outlet.” It was complete bafflegab of course, designed to get us familiar with the house layout. “You there,” Tommy yelled to me. “Come with me.”

The goon looked doubtful, but shrugged and we went backstage, past the dressing rooms and down a corridor. I recognized a furnace room and a laundry, but it was a labyrinth down there. Finally we came to the end of a dark hallway and Muscles stepped up a flight of wooden stairs to a platform landing. He opened a door there and the outside light came in. “You need some light to see things,” and he showed us the fuse box and beside it the massive breaker for the whole house. Tommy looked things over and then pointed to the wall. “That’s your 220 right there,” he said. “Perfect.”

“You’re not going to fuck anything up, like the lights or the kitchen or anything are you. The boss would get fairly shirty if that happened.”

“Hell, no. The 220’s on a whole different circuit. There’ll be no problems.”

I looked out the opened door and saw there was a stairwell running up to ground level. I ran up the stairs and saw the truck and the service entrance. “We’ll probably have to go in and out here a bit to get set up, saves us traipsing through the house, okay?”

Muscles shrugged, “Just stay on the pathway or you’ll get lost down here. And a lot of the rooms are off limits so don’t go snooping. Everything valuable’s locked up anyway.”

“We’re not thieves; we make movies; we’re respectable.”

“The fuck you are, Muscles laughed. “I know what you’ll be filming tonight and it ain’t fuckin’ Ben Hur. Besides I’ve seen a couple of that Wood guy’s movies at the drive-in. They’re the worst pieces of crap I’ve ever seen.”

“Well, regardless, we’re not out to steal nothing, this could work into a regular gig for us and the bread is good, so we’re not going to fuck it up.”

“Okay, pay attention on the way back.”

“I’ll just run the cord back,” said Tom and he plugged into the 220.

Always good to have 220 volts at your disposal, I figured, though I hoped no one would plug it into anything, it would fry any of our equipment.

When we got back to the stage, Peter and Ed were setting things up. I nodded to Betty and she and Trixie grabbed Muscles and set off to find out about Miss Payne’s dressing rooms and the modicum of cocaine, reefer and champagne she had demanded in final negotiations. Presumably Scream was going to put the moves on her and he wanted her as whacked as possible. Betty was also to ask for a glimpse of her submissive and then be able to tell us definitely that it was Serena. Once Betty had engaged Scream’s attention, he would be easily maneuvered away from me, who stood as the only real liability in this crew.

Betty buttonholed Muscles and he was happily led away when she asked where she could change into her costume and lifted a corset out of her bag. Muscles waddled as fast as his musclebound thighs would allow him, waving Betty to follow.

I fell back into the sidelines with Peter and we made chalk marks on the floor, marked spotlights and essentially did nothing stuff under Ed’s watchful eye.

* * *

When Betty returned, she wore a black satin kimono over her gear, though her hair shone and her face was done up in extreme dominant makeup. Even without her body exposed, she was the ebony glass of sex.

She cocked an eyebrow at me and made a motion for the curtains to be drawn and I shouted, “Rehearsal, please.”