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.

* * * *

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