Monday, October 29, 2007

Jayne & the Satanists --Chapter 3

* * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

“Mr. LaVey, the reason I’m here...”

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

“That’s pretty much got it,” I said.

* * * *

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

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

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

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

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

* * * *

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

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

* * * *

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

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

“You’re nasty.”

“I’m plastered.”

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

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



“No bar.”

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

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

“Make the check out to my landlord.”

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

* * * *

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