Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jayne & the Satanists --Chapter 31

In the morning, as I shaved, I noted with some satisfaction that my mustache might actually be called a mustache now.  I felt a burning from my arm and noticed that my slave mark had reddened during the night.  It was hot to the touch and I washed it with some alcohol and covered it with a bandage to avoid it chafing against my clothes.

     I had no idea what I was going to do as far as this whole occult issue.  But, it had been eating into my job hours.  So, I did what any good journalist, even one of my caliber, would do.  I went into the office, sat down at the typewriter and over the course of the morning wrote a three-thousand word feature on the issue, lashing together all my loose ends with the speculations that had been flailing around untethered in my subconscious.  By noon, I had quite a story, involving an unnamed prestigious moviemaker who was a Satanist poohbah, his vampish moll, the ritual preparation for the Feast of Hermaphrodite, the abduction and branding of a young private investigator (I didn’t want to get myself involved), ancient lore requiring child sacrifice as an emollient to the daemons and the unidentified human remains found in a park at LaBrea and Franklin.  And I implied that a reporter who had gotten too close to the source had ended up dead, as did his ex-ladyfriend.  I mentioned no names.  Just that Los Angeles should be on the look out for some secret ceremony somewhere nearby on the night of November 28th.

     I handed it in to Hy and went across the street for a Reuben sandwich while he edited it.

     As I was wiping my mouth, Hy sat down across from me.  He ordered a coffee, folded his hands and stared across at me.  I felt my stomach sinking.  He was going to kill the piece.  Too many informed sources, not enough proper attributions.  Too macabre for even our audience.  Too much speculation.

     “What’d you think of your piece?” he asked.

     “I thought it was a serviceable piece, exciting in its own way, the sort of offal that our shark readership would gobble up.  Why, what’d you think?”

     He stared balefully at me.  And ran his hands over his hound-wrinkled face and sighed.  “Y’know, you’ve been on waivers the last few weeks.  I didn’t think your stuff had zap.  I thought you were getting soft and complacent --sleeping with movie stars, farting through silk.  But, this piece really hums.  I think it’s the best thing you’ve done in years.  We’re going to publish it page one tomorrow and L.A. is going to be quaking in fear.  We’ll sell a zillion issues.  I’ve added an extra press run.  There’s real passion in that piece.  I had to cut a bit that was litigious, but we’re running it almost full length as you wrote it, with me having turned your punctuation into something the rest of the world could understand, of course.”

     I was bowled over.

     “But, and this is a big but, you know that if this comes out, you will be putting yourself at risk.  Even if you want me to kill your byline, it’s still going to rain shit on us for a while.  Are you up to it?”

     “Sure, I’ve been shit on by the best.  I’m willing to take the chance.”

     “Good.  So am I,” he said, picking up my lunch bill.  “Let me get this.”  He got up, leaving me sitting there, shocked and elated.  Wondering what can of worms would spring open tomorrow when the paper hit the streets.


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