Sunday, January 6, 2008

Jayne & the Satanists --Chapter 14

We found Lex lying by Zoltan’s cage. The two seemed to be enjoying each other’s company. The sixteen-pound cat and the four-hundred-pound cat. Selena came to say goodbye and she picked up Lex, gave him a good fluff that set him purring, then handed him to me. “Take care of our Lex,” she said. “And he’ll take care of you.”

* * *

Back at my apartment, Jayne and I made our way through a bottle. Lex curled up in a corner and dreamed, his legs twitching in his sleep.

“Do you think anything will come of our little ceremony?” I asked.

Jayne smiled slowly and marvelously, loaded and peaceful. “You felt the wind.”

“There are such things as fans and hidden vents. It could be easily faked.”

“But it wasn’t. You’ve got to have faith for these things to work. Faith is the most powerful force in the universe.” She leaned her head on my shoulder and her rich perfume warmed me. She began undoing the buttons of her jacket. “Jayne, I don’t think I’m up for this...”

“Have faith,” she said. “Have faith in The Boys.” And she shrugged off her jacket revealing a spectacular pink bra. She pulled my head to her rich, scented cleavage.

And my healing began.

Chapter 14:

I got back to work, chasing down errant movie stars, speculating in print on their dalliances and personal habits, caught the usual amount of flack from incensed managers and publicists. A story I did on Rita Hayworth received some particularly vicious comments from her manager, Lee Ellroy, who seemed a volatile type.

I even did a nice big feature on LaVey, who, in the interview situation, was a complete gentleman, articulate, sincere, though always mysterious and cryptic. I asked him if he had ever killed anyone and he had shrugged and said, “I don’t get my hands dirty, circumstances kill people. I may have arranged some circumstances. If people die, it is because of their own stupidity or carelessness. One must always be alert in this life, for there are forces forever conspiring against us and one ignores them at one’s own peril. We must learn from the animals who are always alert and wary.” We ran the piece with a front-page picture of LaVey hugging a snarling Zoltan. It was a big seller.

Neither the cops, nor I, were getting anywhere on the baby/Stirling/Hughes business. Pat Kennedy had interviewed LaVey and various other Satanic types. Scream, it was claimed, was vacationing in Haiti.

Jayne was ever optimistic about her career, though the movies she was doing were decidedly third string and she was relying more heavily on corporate work, supermarket openings, nightclub appearances. She still came by, though we never quite hit the sexual peak that we had that night after my run in with Ariana and LaVey’s hex ceremony.

My dreams were tortured things, loaded with perverse sexuality and indistinct faces. I would wake with my sheets soaking. Yet, in the morning, Lex would always be there.

Since I had no interest in dating, I spent my evenings at home with Lex as my desired company. I also spent my time reading books that LaVey had recommended to me.

Occasionally, I would employ a hooker. My male desires had not left me, merely my willingness to go through the whole sham of conversation and dinner. A friend at work once cracked that men hired hookers not for sex, but in order not to have to talk afterward. I felt there was something to that. I found I wanted anonymous sex and the less personality the woman revealed, the better I enjoyed the experience. After I paid them, before we began, my first words were always, “Don’t talk.”

Eric Boyer’s byline came back in The Hollywood Pipeline with regularity. Terrance Weigel and I called each other less often and he hired a replacement for Al Stirling.

And so time passed until, early one morning, I was in the office checking the overnight stories and noticed one written by one of the staff reporters. At 3 a.m., a convertible Cadillac going at high speed on the Coast Highway had run into an insecticide tanker truck that had stalled angled on the road. The impact cleaned the top off the car, the driver was beheaded, the head smashed beyond recognition. However, the driver was identified as Ariana Blaquelord, a figure known in local occult circles. After the initial shock wore off, I let out a resounding single laugh, “Hah!” I scrambled to the phone and got the overnight reporter out of bed. Grudgingly, he gave me the details in a half-asleep growl. Dom Simone had done the on-site and the body had been identified a short while later. There was no family. The body was at the morgue waiting to be claimed.

I felt too jittery to stay in the office, so I lit out saying I was going to check on a few stories in person. I drove over to a diner and loaded up on steak and eggs while I waited for it to be a decent hour to call Jayne and LaVey. I had gone to a place where I could get a shot and washed down bites of steak with swallows of scotch. Then I cruised the streets. I felt reborn, alive and vital. I found myself in an area where a few streetwalkers were trawling the commuter trade. When I saw a young lady with long black hair, I got her in the car and she took me to a hotel room where I paid extra for some back-door action. It was worth it. I was insatiable.

After that, I drove back to my place. I danced Lex around for a while. Then I called Jayne. She was just getting it together and when I told her the news, she replied, hesitantly, “That’s good, I guess.”

“You bet it’s good, Jayney.”

“Sorry, I’m just not good at sounding cheery at the news of someone’s death.”

“Me neither, but I’m getting to like it. I’m going to call LaVey.”

“Sure, do what thou wilt.”

I hung up and called LaVey. He was, of course, cool about the news, though he could not resist a dry cackle. “At 3:30 a.m., of course, just then I was repeating the ceremony. I believe at that time I was just cutting up a picture of Ariana to add to the sacrificial fire. I remember cutting her head off at just that time. Well, Baphomet has claimed that which I prepared for him. I’m sure he is enjoying our lady Ariana in his corner of Hell right now.”

* * *

I was sure that Scream was behind the baby mutilations, Stirling’s and Hughes’s deaths, Boyer’s beating. But, I had been afraid of him. He was likely involved with whatever Ariana had done with me during my blackout. He probably held photographs of me in compromising situations. I had simply retreated from the problem like a sick kitten. I reported on the cops; I didn’t do their work for them. But they did not have the information to make the Scream connection. And since the blackout, I did not care for them to make it. Let Kennedy get ahold of those photos and I’d be ruined in this town.

Still, Ariana’s death had given me some kind of closure to that incident and that period of sick loathing in my life. I had taken out one of Scream’s top operatives, perhaps even his lover. He had reason to be afraid of me now.

I called up Bianca Hughes’s former employer, Chris Canyon. I asked who owned the house at 14569 Visconti. It was a legal question, anyone could ask. He called me back in five minutes saying that it was owned by a Sharon Michelle of Baltimore, Maryland, that whoever resided there was likely a renter or a houseguest. He gave me Michelle’s phone number. I called it and hung up when someone answered, “Dark Corridor Books.” Hmm, sounded like an occult shop.

I called in to the office for messages and the secretary gave me a few numbers including one for my old pal Ed Wood Jr. Woody was a character on the Hollywood scene, a down-and-out writer and filmmaker who worked for chump change to feed a relentless booze habit. He had been a wonderfully handsome fellow, though these days he was bloated and wasted. His looks had given him a fondness for women that somehow twisted around into him wanting to be like them. He liked to wear women’s clothing, especially angora sweaters.

He wasn’t queer as far as I knew, always had a girlfriend. He had made some movies that were laughed out of the studios, such as Grave Robbers from Outer Space, which starred that old junkie Bela Lugosi. Lugosi had died during the filming and Wood had employed his dentist to complete the scenes. To disguise the change the dentist walked around with his cape drawn over his face below the eyes. Still, I liked Woody. He probably could have made a pretty good movie if someone had given him the right budget. These days he was making ends meet by cranking out sordid little paperbacks. And he could whip off a 200-page novel in a weekend. Trouble was, they often focused on his obsession with transvestism. Still there must have been enough closet pretty boys out there that bought them, because he published dozens of these trifles.

When he called me, there was usually another film in the works, or he was hungover unto death and wanted to hit me up for a hair-of-the-dog. I called him up and I could tell he was hurting, but he was upbeat about a new project he was working on called The Sinister Urge. He wanted to meet at Sharky’s, a seedy bar on Sunset. Why not? Eddy had given me a bunch of good leads. He always knew who was queer and who enjoyed wearing nylons under their business suits, who was on the hop or puffing reefer. Ed was a piece of work.

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