Monday, June 16, 2008

Jayne & the Satanists --Chapter 25


I went home and hid my recent acquisitions in the false ceiling of my closet that actually was the access to the attic.  I swallowed a couple of the benzedrine and thanked Mr. Fine for giving me enough of a stash to start a serious drug addiction.  I took two more.  When I looked at the camera, I saw that it had five exposures left.  So, I shot the remainder of Lex as he slept, woke, ate Dinty Moore and eventually posed for what was going to be a portrait that I was looking forward to seeing.

     When I got to the office I checked the police bulletins.  Nothing yet about a body found on the I-? 5  Then I headed for the dark room.  Under the red light I printed the roll.  The nineteen shots that Fine had taken looked like surveillance photos.  I was shocked to see three of Al Stirling and two of Bianca Hughes.  What most intrigued me though were the shots of Lex.  In the one of him asleep there was another image of him floating above the main one.  The ones of him waking and eating were normal, but the portrait in which he was looking directly into the lens was odd in that there was a bristling simulacrum surrounding him, spiking out as much as three inches in places.  I was definitely going to have to ask LaVey about that cat.

     I took the prints back to my desk and thumbed through them.  What could I figure from this.  Fine was Scream’s hired gunsel?  And maybe a bit of a detective?  Perhaps an assassin? 

     As I was fiddling around, the report finally came in.  White male found on the side of I-?, four miles east? of the entrance to Zuma State Park, face and neck slashed by a wild animal presumed to be a puma. No ID.  Lee called over to me to run the standard check with Dom Simone to see if it could be anyone of interest to our readers and to also scramble up a story on wild animal attacks. 


“I haven’t seen anything like it for years,” said Simone.  His voice had some quality in it that a pro observer such as myself knew was worth probing.

     “What do you mean in years?”

     “Well, there were a series of these attacks about five years ago in the hills.  Savage attacks attributed to a rogue puma.  No spoor, only some fur, unusually black, strange for a puma.  The victims were all low-life types, dealers and such.  We questioned zoos and movie animal wranglers, but nobody was missing anything.  Even talked to that LaVey guy you wrote about, because he keeps a panther, but it was locked inside when any of this happened.  Weirdest thing, no tracks or puma crap, no wildlife seems to have been killed.  And the animal didn’t feed on the corpses, except it seemed to have a taste for the eyeballs.  The corpses were all found missing their eyeballs.”

     My stomach dropped about five floors.  I made some calls and got the dope on wild animal attacks and lashed them together with some ardent speculation about the return of Bigfoot, references to lycanthropy and possible UFO involvement.  I did not want to imply any personal knowledge and I certainly did not want to implicate my pet.  I threw the copy into Hy’s in-basket, then I dialed Jayne.  She said we could meet at Ciro’s.


*  *  *  *


No surprise, she looked radiant in a pink mohair sweater and white pedal-pushers that you could not have slipped a dime in as she slid into the booth.  She ordered a strawberry milkshake with a double shot of white rum.  I ordered a martini and a corned beef sandwich.  “That’s a hell of drink,” I said.

     “Papa suggested it for me.  He called it a velvet daquiri.”

     “Papa Who-I-Think-You-Mean?”


     I was seriously impressed and would have like to have heard about that meeting.  Then I decided Jayne would not have let that knotch on her garter belt slip by, so I did not ask.  “So, Jayne, have you ever been to one of Scream’s weenie roasts at Zuma Beach Park?”

     “No.  I don’t go places where situations can get too outside.”

     “Ever hear of one of Scream’s associates who wears a Pacific Northwest Indian mask?  Black guy?”

     She stopped stirring her drink.  “Whoa yeah?  Hoxhok.  He’s one bad negro indian.  Claims that he’s part Haida from up in Canada.  His name comes from the cannibal crow of the mythology up there.”

     “Who is he really?”

     “Whoever knows with these masked men?  Clayton Moore in blackface?  I dunno.  Could be a pimp or a doctor in real life.  He’s no one to mess with though.  I think even Scream gives him a wide berth.”

     “Scream was hobbling around Zuma while Ariana and Hoxhok bumped uglies in the middle of some ceremonial shindig that involved barbecuing a skinned dog.”

     “Fuckers, I hate anyone who would harm a dog.”

     “Me too.  And speaking of pets.  What’s the lowdown on Lex?”


     “He saved my life the other night.  At great cost to the person who was going to harm me.”

     Jayne’s penciled eyebrows arched into twin inverted Vs.  “Uh oh,” she said.  “As I understand it, Lex wouldn’t hurt anyone, at least not just hurt someone.”

     “What’s the story, Jayne?”

     “We better let Anton tell you that.  Order me another drink, no milkshake this time, just soda and ice.  I’ll ring Anton and see if he’s up for a visit.”


*  *  * 


LaVey served tea that tasted like someone had dropped cigarette butts in it.  The cups were black bone china, of course.  Serena came into the sitting room to thank me for my efforts.  She had managed to scrub most of the blue dye off, though she still had a vascular pallor. She was dressed in black cotton lounging pajamas and wore a tight black turban on her head.  She looked like she was nursing the tail end of foul hangover.

     “Tell me Lex’s story,” I asked LaVey.

     He smiled and put down his teacup.  “You won’t believe me,” he said.  “But, Lex was always meant to be yours, at this time.  He is very old.  He was born in a monastery in northern Italy.  The monks were a rebel sect, the Catharists.  They claimed to be descended from the Crusaders.  Their beliefs mixed Christian doctrines with many of the pagan beliefs brought back from the East by the Crusaders.  When the papacy learned of their practices, they were deemed heretical and an inquistion ruled that they should be destroyed.  Many were burned at the stake, many drowned in dunking trials.  Those who saw the end coming, dispersed throughout the countryside and traveled to France England and Turkey.  Lex was smuggled to England with a Brother Constantine who fell in with the heretical cults abounding in those parts.  Lex was six years old at that time, in his full maturity, his prime of strength, health and wisdom.  He was accepted into the cults with Constantine and soon became a sort of mascot for the Brotherhood of Samhain.  He took part in many ceremonies.  He tasted human blood.  He had congress with a human woman.  He stared daemons in the face.  He grew canny and physically superior.  He became a favorite of the dark forces from the other side.  They bestowed gifts upon him.  He ceased to age.  Certain humans came to be able to understand his language and he theirs.

     “In an imbroglio, Constantine fled to France and he became a consort to Marie Antoinette.  You have undoubtedly heard the tale of the Maine Coon cat....”

     I shook my head.

     “When matters went sour for Marie, she planned to escape to America.  A ship was prepared and her five favorite Persian cats were stowed aboard.  Unfortunately for Marie, she was imprisoned before she could get to the ship.  Learning of her imminent demise, the captain set sail.  The ship landed in Maine.  Now legend has it that the Persians were set free in the forest and that they mated with racoons and the offspring became what are known as the one true indigenous American cat, the Maine Coon.  Scientifically, this is impossible.  However, how did these strong, hardy, self-reliant, twenty-pound cats with persian fur and mottled herring colored markings come to be?  Constantine was aboard that ship when it sailed.  With him was, of course, Lex.  I put it to you that Lex was the nigger in the woodpile, if you will, that he is the father of all Maine Coons, that all are his progeny and his blood runs in all their veins.  These were cats that lived in the forests and fended for themselves, fought off savage enemies many times their size, hunted for their sustenance and survived the hardships of harsh winters on their own with only their thick coats and signature ruffs and snowshoe paws to protect them from the elements.

     Constantine grew old in Maine and his name can be found in the records of the witch trials.  Happily, he eluded the persecutors and died peacefully abed with Lex purring him on to the other side, chanting his soul to another plane.

     “At this time, Lex moved in with a witch named Hyapatia from whom he learned much and taught much.  She had children and, when she died, Lex was handed down to the new generation.  One of these children grew up to be a very wealthy man and Lex was taken with him into Boston society.

     “There Lex became an initiate in the court of the Golden Dawn and,when his master died, Lex became the mascot of that gentlemen’s club.  He was a favorite of the frequent visitor Alastair Crowley, who it is said saw Lex and immediately sat down and had a two-hour conversation with Lex to the exclusion of all other gathered to meet the great man.  Crowley came away from the meeting quite shaken but formidably impressed.  From then on, whenever he entered the club he immediately asked for Lex.


“It is said that when Crowley died, Lex mourned for a week.  When the Golden Dawn club had to be closed because of public suspicion, I had already become a member.  I asked for and was awarded custodianship of Lex. I was required to take a solemn oath of fidelity to the cat, enforceable by death.  And so Lex came to California and became a part of my home and The Church of Satan for eight years now.  But I always knew he was destined for another.  Jayne had told me about you and without reason, I knew that you were the chosen one.  Lex came to you for he was always destined for you.  Just as he was destined to save your life the other night.”

     I was aghast.  “So how old are you saying Lex is?

     “Perhaps six hundred years.”  LaVey leered over his teacup, obviously gleefully enjoying my shock and disbelief.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Jayne & the Satanists --Chapter 24


I blessed the day that I had picked a house with an enclosed garage.  I spent the rest of the night wiping out the back seat and hammering down the jagged metal edges where the bullet had torn through my roof.  Tomorrow I’d get some Bondo, then I would have to ante up for a paintjob.  Maybe I would get a contrasting color so I would not have to pay for the whole car.  Now I only had to figure out what to do about the powder-burned hole in my ceiling upholstery before I took it into the paint shop.

     As for Lex, he fell into a contented sleep.

     The sun was coming up as I finished my cleanup.  I put on a pot of coffee, showered, shaved leaving my mustache stubble alone, changed my clothes and grabbed a fresh towel from the linen cupboard.  I spread the towel on my bed and unloaded my jacket pockets of the thug’s possessions.  Driver’s license said he was Johnny Fine, thirty-two years old, resided at apartment 103-1263 LaBrea.  Business cards said he was a security consultant -self-employed, so that was no help.  Sixty-two dollars in cash.  His watch was a Lumina, no inscription.  He had worn a gold Masonic ring with a small sapphire and silver ring in a celtic design with a small cross on it.  Gorgons flanking the cross indicated that the cross was upside down.  The pistol was a .38 Colt Detective Special, ordinary ammo.  Handkerchief, pocketknife, brass Zippo lighter no engraving, black pocket comb, keys to a Chev and probably his apartment and post box.  A half-full pack of Luckies.  A full bottle of benzedrine tablets. 

     I did not give a shit that he had died.  He was a man who tried to hurt me.  Bravo Lex.

     I called the residence number on his business card.  No answer after a dozen rings.  If I got over there pronto.  I could probably get in, check his apartment all before the body, which had by now probably been reported and picked up, was identified and before he was noticed missing at work at nine or so.

     Leaving Lex to slumber.  I hopped in the car.  I parked two blocks from the apartment building.  I let myself into the building and up the stairs to his apartment.  No one was in the halls.  I jimmied the lock and entered the apartment.

     What kind of screwball lived here? I thought, switching on a light. 

     The entrance hallway was lined with religious icons.  Dark things, featuring monks in varying settings of penance and self mortification.  The livingroom was dark until I found a lamp.  In the light, I could see that the windows had all been papered over.  The decor was early horned masks.  African masks, Mexican, North American, all depicting horned mythological entities.  There was a cheap black sofa and a black wooden coffee table.  In the kitchen, there were pots in the sink.  I pulled on gloves and opened the refrigerator.  There were three bottles of Budweiser.  I opened one and took a swig, felt the bubbles burn down into my empty stomach.

     I went into the bedroom.  Here, another decor predominated.  Black and white, eight-by-ten pictures of Ariana, framed in cheap black document frames.  She was solo in all of them.  Dressed as a high priestess, as a domina, smiling poolside in a black bathing suit.  In some, she looked beautiful, in others, disconcertingly bizarre.  Fine’s bed did not look posturpedic.  It was a wooden pallet with a single gray flannel blanket thrown over it.  Beside the bed was a candle in a holder, a full ashtray and a tube of Vaseline.  The place reeked of incense that could not quite conceal the scent of body sweat.  I got the impression that whatever obsessed Fine did not allow him much peaceful sleep.

     I lifted the pallet and there was a manila envelope.  Sex pictures of a man I presumed to be Fine being dominated in all ways by Ariana.  Girl got around.

     In the bathroom, I found a bottle of Seconal, probably to offset the bennies’ jitters.  I sipped my beer and looked around.  There was another bottle, liquid, I opened it an whipped my head away before the amyl nitrite knocked it into another dimension.  Jeez, was I the only one who did not think this stuff was real healthy?  I put both bottles in my pocket.

     Back in the livingroom, I noticed a small bookshelf.  All occult arcana.  That was about it for the apartment.  As I was leaving, I checked the hall closet.  I thought that his bedroom closet had been overstuffed.  In here stood a metal file cabinet.  It was locked, but I appropriated a butcher knofe from the kitchen that I used to pry open the drawers until the latches torqued out of their settings.

     Files, just like the ones in Scream’s office.  I grabbed a few and noticed duplicates of the ones on me, Betty, Chambers and LaVey.  I saw some more names I recognized and pulled them.  In the bottom drawer, I found a good Leica camera, some Zeiss binoculars, some ammunition for the .38.  I knew if I started going through files, I’d end up with far too much to feasibly smuggle out.  I didn’t know what to do with the beer bottle so I put filled it with water and put it back in the fridge.  I put the camera and binoculars around my neck, the bullets and files in my briefcase and I got the hell out of there.  It was six-fifteen when I stepped out through the apartment building’s doors without having seen anyone.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Jayne & the Satanists --Chapter 23



When I opened the car door, Lex was nowhere to be seen, but I heard a trill from the hidey-hole.  Then, I felt a circle of cold metal pressing into my neck.

     “Don’t try anything tricky.”  The voice was high and wispy, but definitely male.  “Now, what are you doing out here?”

     I swallowed.  “Nothing wrong with a guy taking in the air.”

     “Entering a state park at this time of night is illegal.”

     “What are you, a park ranger?”

     “Very funny.”

     I felt a hand in my hip pocket.  “Take the money.  Just don’t shoot me.”

     “Maybe I’ll do both.  But mainly I’m just interested in who is out here watching things he shouldn’t be.  Daniel Holcomb of The Hollywood Insider.  Hmm, Scoop, I don’t think we’re looking for any coverage of this evening’s gala.”

     “Leave me alone and I promise I won’t write a thing.”

     “Well, I’d say we’ll have to go see our press relations director about that.  Open the back door.”

     I complied and then he told me to get behind the wheel.  He got in the back.  “Don’t be looking in the rear view mirror.  You don’t want to know who I am.  Now drive back to town.”

     I fired up the car and pulled a U-turn and headed back down the highway.  “You can put some gas into this thing,” came the voice behind me.  “There’s no cops out here this time of night.”

     No cars, either, I thought, hoping to see some headlights that I could swerve in front of, or a car behind that I could stomp on the brakes for.  But my headlights were the only holes in the darkness.  “Who are we going to see?” I asked.

     “A person with a passion for privacy.  Now, keep your mind on your driving,” he said.

     The silence spun out like silken kite cord as we raced back to L.A.

     Then, he yelped.  “What the...?”  And a yowl drawn from damned soul filled the car.  Where before all had been stillness, the back seat was now a flurry of activity and horrible sound.  Lex’s battle cry cringed my nards into hitherto unknown heights.

     I stomped on the binders and tried to get the car over onto the highway shoulder without fishtailing out of control.  The thug was screaming horribly.  When I finally got stopped I leaped out of the car.

     What I saw then, I can hardly believe now.  Lex was a black blur seemingly triple his usual size.  In the moonlight, I saw his eyes glint and saber-like claws flash.  Flailing again and again over the gunsel’s face.  The noise was so horrible my hand flew to my ears.  Then a shot went off and the roof of my car exploded.  Then there was silence.  “Lex!” I screamed.

     My heart was doing a Mexican hat dance in my chest and I pulled open the door with hands that were jittering out of control.  The gunsel’s body slumped out onto the road.  His face was slashed beyond recognition and where his eyes had once been, were now only raw bleeding holes.

     Peering into the back seat, I saw Lex gobbling down what appeared to be an eyeball.  He turned toward me and snarled, his ears back, fangs bared.  Then as he finished his gory mouthful, his ears came back up and he looked at me, his pink tongue lashing around his gore soaked muzzle.  Then he arched his back and raised his head to me and that macabre purr began again.  “Lex,” I said.  “Good fucking cat!”

     Lex lifted a bloody paw and began to lick it.  Then he stopped and cocked his head and looked me in the eye.  Now it may have been a digestive noise, or a cough, but I’ll swear to my dying day that the noise that came from his mouth was a victorious “Hah!”

     Though my mind was trying to mesh, the normal Lex before my eyes and the huge swirling dark form of vengeance, I thought I had seen in the struggle, I had bigger fish to fry.  My cat killed a guy, I kept thinking.  That, and I better get the fuck out of here.

     I pulled the body around the back of the car and grabbed everything that was in his pockets.  I took his watch and rings, and gun.  Then, I dragged the body into the ditch.  It rolled into some knee-high weeds.  That would have to be good enough.

Back on the shoulder, I looked at the ruined roof of my car and figured it would take a pound of Bondo to fix it up, not to mention how I was ever going to clean the back seat.  Lucky it was vinyl.  When I slammed the back door, Lex was in the passenger seat.  I jammed the car into gear and we headed off down the highway, fast at first, then slowing to the speed limit after a few minutes.  “Thank you, Lex,” I finally said.  “But we’ve really got to have a little talk one day soon.”


*  *  *  *


Jayne & the Satanists --Chapter 22


I phoned Dr. Alex Grant’s office.  His secretary said that he had left for the day, but that I could make an appointment for Thursday if it would wait, or she would give me the number of the nearest hospital emergency room if I required it.  I took the Thursday appointment under the name of J. Gatsby.  I said the J. stood for Jay.

Then, I drove back to the Insider office.  I returned some calls and checked some contacts on various film shoots.  Got some good leads that I could turn into tales of dissension on a couple of sets.  Then at five, I headed out.

     I drove over the Club Demon and cruised down the back alley.  There was a back door and a stairwell to a basement. I found a parking spot where I was not too conspicuous and could vaguely see around a dumpster to watch whoever might be coming and going from the club’s rear.  Lex made a good companion, but got bored after an hour and shuttled back to his hidey hole.  Shortly, I heard a faint echo of his snoring.

     I wondered how long Ariana could keep herself away from her favorite haunt.  How long would I be wasting my time sitting here?  About 8:30, a van pulled up and three obviously drunken sailors poured out.  At nine, the van pulled up again.  This time three women got out.  Judging by their apparel, I’d wager they were hookers.  At ten, a limousine pulled up.  A man about Scream’s height and build got out and held the door for what could only be the wraithlike form of Ariana.  She wore a leopardskin coat, high black boots and big black sunglasses.  The guy who might be Scream had his collar pulled up and his fedora pulled down.  He too wore oversized sunglasses.

     The chauffeur angled the limo into a park job between the club and the alley and then he cut the motor.  Then he got out and lit up a cigar.  I did not recognize him as one of the security goons from the party.

     I got quietly out of the car and put the leash on Lex.  Then I opened the pint of Old Crow from under the seat and took a healthy swallow.  Then, without closing the car door, I set out for a stroll down the alley.

     The chauffeur looked me over as I approached him.  I came to a halt.  “Nice night for a stroll,” I said.  I took a swig and offered him the bottle.  He looked me up and down then reached out for the bottle.  He took a good swig.  “Much obliged,” he said.  Jeez, I thought, does he get his dialogue from westerns?  “Don’t usually see many people walking their cats around these parts.”  These parts?  Yep, fancied himself a cowpoke alright.  Giddalong, liddle Caddy, yeehah!

     “It’s all in how early you train ‘em,” I said.  “They’ll be obedient as a dog, if you start ‘em out about three weeks old.  Here, I’ll show you Lex’s tricks,” I said handing him back the bottle, urging him to have another drink. 

     I bent down and whispered to Lex, then unclipped the leash.  “Watch this,” I told the chauffeur.  Then I stepped in front of Lex and tapped my shoulder.  Lex quivered in preparation, then he leaped to my left shoulder, making a perfect four-point landing.

     The guard stepped back, shocked.  “Whoa, that’s got to be handy,” he said and took another swig off the neck.

     “Watch this,” I said.  “Lex, foe!”  Lex arched his back, bared his fangs, raised a clawed paw and hissed a horrid yowl.  The chauffeur actually jumped back this time.  “Lex, friend!” I said.  Lex settled right down and rubbed his head against my neck and kicked over his unholy purr.

     “I reckon not many dogs chase that cat,” drawled the Caddy jockey.

     “None that want to keep their eyes,” I chuckled.

     “Jeez, that’s some cat.”

     We talked easily after that icebreaker, passing the bottle back and forth until it was gone.  “I hear there’s some pretty strange stuff go on in that club,” I said.

     “Yeah, it’s a club for rich folk to come down and act weird in the company of their own kind.”

     “Good place to buy some reefer?” I asked, conspiratorially.

     “No doubt there’s lots in there, but you gotta be a member to get in.”

     “Strange that it’s for rich folk, place is an absolute shithole on the outside.”

     “It’s not much better on the inside, but they want to keep what goes on in there pretty low-key.”

     “You mean like sex stuff?”

     He eyed me and then looked at Lex who perched contentedly on my shoulder.  “Somethin’ like that.  You sort of ask a lotta questions.”

     “Just passin’ the time, maybe looking for a bit of reefer.  This ain’t no police dog on my shoulder.”

     I could feel Lex’s claws dig into my shoulder and his fur bristle against my neck.  Then, the club’s back door squeaked open.  Quickly, I said, “Well, looks like you’re back on the job.  I’ll see you around.”  With that I turned around and wandered back down the alley.  I walked past my car and around the corner onto the adjacent street.  Looking back, I could see the lights of the limo come on.  When it started off the lane away from me, I doubled back and got in my car.  “We’re on the chase, Lex.”

     I managed to keep the limo in sight and followed it as it maneuvered out of the city onto the Pacific Coast Highway.

After the first half-hour I knew we were in for a long one.  We motored on, into the night.  Lex’s eyes glowed in the lights of oncoming cars.

The limo picked up speed and after we passed Malibu, I figured it might be heading for Zuma Beach.  Sure enough, it pulled off into the state park.  I pulled the car over to the shoulder before I got to the park turnoff.  I debated whether or not to take Lex with me and decided I could not risk it, despite his obvious desire to go.

     I took my penlight and my gun.  Then I started down the dark road to the park.  It was pitch dark and I turned on the penlight every hundred feet to catch my bearings.  Vaguely, I heard the sound of drums coming from my left, quite far away.  When the road opened up to the parking lot, I saw about a dozen cars in the moonlight, including the limo.  The chauffeur was sitting in the car with the inside lights on.

     I hunched down and skirted the lot, finally finding a path through the woods that veered off in the direction of the drumming.  I could smell a fire.  Eventually, I could see its flickering light through the trees.  When I could see the actual fire and people standing around it I left off the path and circled around through the woods.  Hunkering down, I looked at the various individuals.  I could recognize only Ariana with her long hair billowing in the wind, and Scream, now wearing his mask.

     The man who was at the center of the ceremony was wearing a traditional Northwest Indian mask with dark eyeholes, a prominent bird beak and hair and ruff of what was probably shredded bark.  Before him was a wooden altar, about waist high.  He was chanting and before him on a wooden platter lay the body of some sort of skinned animal, probably a dog.  In the firelight, I could see it was the shimmering viscous crimson gray of freshly killed meat.  Whooo boy, I thought.  Fido kebabs?

     The gathered all joined hands and they started swaying to the chant.  The sound might have been mesmerising if I hadn’t been scared spitless of getting myself caught.

     Ariana broke from the circle and disrobed by the fire and then she began to dance around the blaze.  I had seen the magnificent body in Al Stirling’s photos.  She annointed her body with some dark grease from a chalice on the altar.  Her skin shimmered in the firelight, but to me she looked like she was covering herself with crankcase oil.  My mind hitched when I realized there was probably blood in the grease.  Then she bent over the altar and the man in the native mask shed his robe and penetrated her.  His chants became louder and more frenzied.  Two other women came up and took some grease from the chalice and began massaging it in to his thrusting body.  Ariana moaned and growled like an animal in heat.  Then the others disrobed and came to the couple.  With no apparent regard for gender protocol, the assembled began to caress the couple.  Some fell to their knees and licked the copulating forms, reaching for their thrusting genitals, lifting Ariana so they could suckle her breasts, kissing her face and shoulders.  This went on for a long time.  The guy was obviously quite a swordsman and his thrusts indicated quite a sword.  Ariana seemed in the grips of orgasm several times.  When he climaxed, a couple of the women captured his jetting essence in a chalice.  Men and women serviced his organ to get the last drops.  Then Ariana raised the chalice to her mouth and drank.  All this time Scream had stood impassive and clothed, only observing the orgy. 

     The naked leader then sliced the meat of the dog and handed some to each participant.  Raising the carved dog over his head, he hurled it into the fire.  It must have been stuffed with gasoline bags, because when it hit the flames it sizzled for just a few seconds before bursting into a billowing full flame.

     Then naked and half dressed, the participants left quickly up the path for their cars.  After a few minutes, I could hear engines starting.  I stayed hidden and quivering as the dark man, still in his totem mask stepped by my vantage point and walked to the parking lot.  When I heard his engine start, I cautiously stood.

     What the hell had that been all about, I wondered.  I would certainly have something to ask LaVey about.  I waited there in the darkness for a quarter hour.  Then I made my way out of the park.


*  *  *  *


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Jayne & the Satanists --Chapter 21


Next day, I was tired, yet elated, as I drove down the highway to the Santa Monica Free Press.  Lex was a worthy copilot.  His black fur bristled with health in the morning sunshine and he poked his head out the window enjoying the breeze for brief periods.  His head zigged from side to side as he observed all the passing traffic.  Every once in a while, he would look over at me and meow and I would fill him in on the events of the previous day.  When I told him mano-a-gato about Betty’s lessons in lust, he started to purr and bobbed his head.  Unnerving little guy.

Terrance Weigel was at his desk.  I wondered if roots had grown into his chair yet.  I told him that a satanist honcho had been shot, but that he had not been hospitalized.  “No story there, then,” he said.  “If there’s anything on the wire we’ll pick it up.”  I was sorta miffed that he didn’t want any of my sterling prose, but I had other matters that concerned me.

I asked him what he knew about Merlin Chambers.  “Good looking son-of-a-gun,” he said.  “About forty.  Beautiful wife named Bunny.  About thirty.  They both come from old money, heritage families.  One kid named James, about sixteen, bit of a delinquent, I hear, but his dad keeps the reins on him.  Been on council for six years.  Up for reelection year after next. He’s known to be a friend to developers.  Probably has some dough in development as well, but likely well hidden to avoid conflict-of-interest allegations.”  He sat back in his typists chair.  “There.  Need his shoe size or inseam?”

     “You’re a good man to know,” I said.  “Any rumors of impropriety in these development deals?”

     “Nah, every one of those sons of bitches has something crooked going on sub rosa.  As long as they don’t get caught with their pants down, no one makes a fuss.  Plus, they hide things pretty good through holding companies, making distant relatives the signing parties and such.”

     “But, since he’s a public official, I could get a list of all his holdings at city hall.  It’s all public record.”

     “Certainly, you could see the ones directly attached to him.  But, if he’s smart, which he is, you’d never connect the hidden properties to him without a paper trail like a labyrinth.”

     “But his IRS records would show something, wouldn’t they?  Cash income?”

     “Only if he cashed something in.  Maybe a small bit of capital gains.  But if he was smart, he would pay the taxes for his puppet executives and let profits be registered to them.  When there were significant profits, he would quickly put them into other real estate.”

     “Like, maybe, Szandor Scream’s mansion.”

     “Possibly.  You could work backward from the registered owner of the house and see if it led you to Chambers, but it would be a bitch of a job.  Besides, what would that get you?  So what if he owns it?”

     “Probably nothing.”  But Bianca Hughes worked in records and maybe Al Stirling was tracing down satanist land holdings and stumbled onto something.


*  *  *


Lex and I stopped for a burger on the beach before heading back to the city.  Lex enjoyed some hamburger patty, a small french fry and a drink of vanilla milkshake.  On the way home, he contentedly let fly with that buzzsaw purr of his.

     I pulled to a drugstore where I checked the gymnasiums in the area surrounding Scream’s home. The one closest was an upscale health club called Arnold’s.  I drove there and went in.  I said I was thinking of joining and a strapping lass called Jeri gave me all the sales dope.  Then she allowed me to look over the workout floor from the little health food snack bar mezzanine.  Immediately, I recognized “Muscles” from Scream’s security staff.  What I was really looking for was someone who might be Ambrose Lynn, Scream’s beefy lieutenant.  Any number of the dozen or so muscleheads who were working out fit his description.

     I told Jeri that I recognized Muscles from somewhere.  She told me his name was Ted and that he was a bouncer, like many of these guys.  He worked at a nightclub on Sunset, called Dino’s.  I said that must be where I had seen him before.

     I sat in the car and petted Lex while I waited for Ted to leave the gym.  When he did, he hopped in an old Ford sedan.  I trailed him back to a bungalow on South Fairfax.  I waited and eventually he came out wearing his working clothes: black T-shirt and beige dress slacks.

     Again, I followed his car and this time it was obviously headed to Scream’s, so I doubled back and returned to the bungalow.

     I parked down the street and wandered up the quiet residential street.  I let myself in the back door using a slim-jim.  The kitchen counters were covered in large vitamin bottles and jars of protein supplements.  Ted obviously spent large amount of jack on his body.  Not so much on his surroundings, which were meticulously clean, but spartan.  In the single bedroom there was a bed and bedside table.  Under the bed, I found stacks of bodybuilding magazines including a number of male nudist magazines that looked particularly well-thumbed.  In the bedside table, I found some lubricants and a box of amyl ampules.  Also a glass bottle containing a liquid that when I sniffed it sent my head skyrocketing.  Pure amyl nitrite in liquid form.  Funny how everyone seemed to use amyls.  Jayne, Chambers, now Ted.

     Pulling myself together as the amyls wore off, I searched the dresser and found some pay slips.  Black River Holdings and Dino’s Supper Club were the names of the issuers.  Ramsey was Ted’s last name.  I copied down the bank and account number of Black River Holdings as well as the signatory who was someone named S. Mitchell.  Then I slipped out.

     I drove to the Insider office and was immediately handed an assignment on a pair of star sisters who were rumored to be lesbos.  I spent an hour making phone calls and cobbling together some ill-founded rumors and insinuating speculation.  I think it was one of my better works.

     Then I got on the phone and managed to jump through hoops to get to Pat Kennedy at Hollywood homicide.

     “I’ve got some leads for you,” I opened.

     “Was it you who tried to blow off Szandor Scream’s nards last night?” asked Kennedy.

     “No, though I’ve heard the gossip.  How’d you hear about it?”

     “Stuff comes around,” he said.  “What do you want?”

     “Any word on the Hughes killing?”

     “Nope.  That one seems to have gotten away clean.  But, of course, we’re still working the suspects.”

     “How about the mutilations?”

     “We’re not doing so well there, either.”

     “Have you ever heard of Black River Holdings?”

     “No, who is that?”

     “I think it might be Scream’s company.”

     “How so?”

     “I found out that one of his freelance muscle men, Ted Ramsey, works for Black River.”  I was as much as admitting to a break in.  “Maybe you could check on this Ramsey fellow.”

     Kennedy wrote the name down.  “You think he shot Scream?”

     “Might have, but I think he’s just hired muscle.  What I want to find out is who Scream really is.  Then I think a bunch of things will fall into place.”

     “For you or for me?  I don’t recall getting a directive that the LAPD was now the research department for errant reporters.”

     “I just think the Hughes homicide is connected to the Stirling homicide and that somehow they are connected to Scream and that he somehow has something to do with the mutilations.”

     Kennedy sighed, noncommital.  “I’ll check out Ramsey and get back to you if I find anything.”

“No wonder you’re a legendary deductive detective.”


*  *  *  *


The receptionist at the West Hollywood morgue didn’t despise me as much as most cops did.  I was a regular down there and brought her a kruller and a coffee.  She was impressed that I knew celebrities -some in the biblical sense.  She was not bad looking and good for my ego.  Her name was Lacey.

After a few minutes of largely fabricated celebrity gossip, I wandered down to Dom Simone’s domain.

     The coroner was in the lab, or the chop shop as it was known.  I wandered in, grinning endearingly.

     “What the hell you doin’ here,” asked Dom as he looked up from some naked human that I kept my eyes well off.

     “I just wondered how sure you were about that Ariana Blaquelord.”

     Simone hitched slightly, then put his tools down and stared at me.  “How sure about what?  She sure was dead.  I’m sure of that.”

     “A friend of mine went to a Satanist shindig last night and saw Ariana alive and well, glowing with health you might say.”

     “The hell you say?”


     “She’s six feet under.”

     “And handily cremated, so we can’t check out the body.”

     Dom was a great guy.  Not much escaped his scientific gaze.  He and I had worked closely before.  He often gave me the inside track when some star punted.  Nothing that wouldn’t be released a few hours later.  Just stuff that might get me the jump on the other papers.  I’d wangled him some tickets to events and premieres and he had met some of his favorite celebrities.  Dom was stone crazy for the movies and the stars were like gods to him.  I guess he needed some glamor in his life to offset his days immersed in the gruesome.

     “She was IDed by her doctor.  She had no next of kin and no registered address.  She had no employer.  She was a persona non grata, but her doctor was the only one with any links to her.  There was no need for a dental records check or anything like that.  I mean she was messed up pretty bad, but she was identifiable to someone who knew her.”

     “What about fingerprints?”

     “No need.”

     “I’m getting a pain.  I think I need to see a doctor.  Know of one offhand?”


*  *  *  *