Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jayne & the Satanists --Chapter 20

With the camera crew, I moved to the stage. Ed was pointing the two cameramen to their POVs. They panned over Betty in her magnificence. I held a mini-spotlight and held it on Serena, who waved inebriatedly in its glare. Fumbling around, I managed to get the pistol in my hand. I kept my eyes on Scream, who stood with his arms outstretched presenting thiswretched tableau. The Japanese drumming pounded in my ears. This was it. I laid down my spot and stepped toward Scream. The pistol was concealed in the folds of my cape. I was going to put the gun to his head, tell him to call it off and hope for the best. It was the best I could come up with, and I realized as I moved that it had been my plan all along.

Ed would just have to disavow any knowledge of my intentions. Tom and Pete would get us to the van and we’d have to take it on the lam.

Scream’s mask turned to me, his arms faltering in their invocation. Then his arms clutched at his crotch. I did not know what he was trying to indicate. When he raised one of his hands, I saw it was stained with red. On his gold lamé, a stain appeared. Then he dropped his hands again to his crotch and sagged to the stage floor.

Ariana, in her glowing garb ran to him. Only now was the crowd starting to notice. Their eyes had been trained on Betty as she had been sweeping her bullwhip around Serena, drawing nearer, building anticipation for that first bite of leather into flesh.

I stepped backward and made like I had not seen and was merely adjusting a light. I jammed the gun back into my pants. Only then did the crowd noise register above the music. Costumed men leapt to the stage as Ariana’s cry rose above the din. A stampede surged toward the back door.

I grabbed Ed. “Okay, Ed you stay here with Betty, me and Tom and Pete are going to get Serena and fuck off.” He nodded.

* * *

Tom started the van. “What the fuck did you do? Shoot the guy in cold blood?” he yelled as he checked behind us and gave the van the gas.

“I didn’t do anything,” I said shaking my head and wrapping Serena in my cape. “Now get us the fuck out of here.”

“Where to?” he shouted.

“Bleeker and 13th,” I said. We had no stronghold, but I figured LaVey would be prepared for most anything. I kept waiting for the sounds of police cars or an ambulance, but I heard nothing but the rush of cars beside us.

* * *

As soon as we pulled up in front of the Lavey’s black gate, the house door was thrown open and LaVey ran out. We got the wasted Serena out of the back and hustled her into the house. I shoved some cash at Tom and Peter and told them to ditch the van in an alley at least a mile away, then make themselves scarce for a few days.

With the door bolted behind us, LaVey ignored me while he hugged and kissed Serena and put her to bed with a dose of Thorazine. I made my way to the bathroom and got the makeup off my face. I’d had the presence of mind to stash some spare clothes in the van and got out of the ridiculous vampire getup. When I came back to the living room, LaVey had regained his imperious composure although he was pacing the floor, not perching in his throne like usual. “Thank you, Daniel,” he said. “How did it go? Did she escape unsullied?”

“It was the craziest thing,” I said. “I was just going over to put a gun in Scream’s face and suddenly, he went down. Someone had shot him in the crotch. We just seized the moment in all the confusion and scooted Serena out the back way. We didn’t do sweet diddly.”

“Did anyone recognize you?”

“No, not with all that makeup on. Ed will be in a bit of trouble, but he’s just going to tell them that the other guys and I were just some rummies he picked up and that he doesn’t know an address.”

* * *

I caught a cab home and Lex seemed particularly happy to see me. I called Betty’s number, but she wasn’t home yet. Then I called Ed. It sounded like there was a party going on there.

* * *

“There’s a party going on here,” Ed yelled into the phone.

“What the hell are you partying for?”

“Because we got some money,” I gave one of the honchos the gears about paying for rented equipment and said we weren’t leaving until we got it and everything was in such a state of confusion that he whipped out his wallet and gave us $200 and gave Betty even more. Whoohoo, party time.”

“Ed, who shot Scream?”

“Who shot Liberty Vallance? I dunno. It wasn’t you. Your conscience is clear. They didn’t even peg you for taking Serena. They lay all the blame on Tom and Peter, who I said I didn’t really know. They can’t call the cops and report the kidnapping of someone they already kidnapped. As far as I can see you’ve come out of this scot-free. C’mon over and party. Bring the blue chick if you want. She looks like a good time.”

“Yeah, right, Ed,” I said. “Anyhow, I might be along in a while. How’s Betty doing?”

“She’s lit up like a house afire, havin’ a hell of a good time.”

* * *

I hung up from Ed and dialed up Jayne. “Any word on what happened to Scream?” I asked.

“Sadly, whoever shot him missed his knackers,” she sighed. “There were some doctors there and word was that he was shot cleanly through his upper right thigh.”

“Will he be going to hospital?”

“I don’t think so. He would obviously try to avoid being traced. So it doesn’t look like you’re going to reveal Batman’s secret identity tonight, Scoop. For a second there, I thought you were going to pop him, but the shot definitely came out of the audience.”

“Did anybody see who did it?”

“Are you kidding? In all that turmoil and argybargy? There were people having sex without anybody noticing.”

“So what did you do after it happened?”

“I just went and found Mickey and we waited about ten minutes to get our car and then we buggered off and got home and into some sensible clothes.”

“I didn’t know Mickey was going?”
“Well, you weren’t going to be my date and I didn’t want to go unchaperoned.”

I thought of something. “What did Mickey go as?”

“He was great. You should’ve seen him. He was Julius Caesar, with his hair all combed forward and a brass breastplate and one of those little skirt things that barely covered his business, sandals with thongs up his legs, a real sword and this great red cape that almost strangled him while he was driving. He got so pissed off he threw it out the window on our drive home. We got all the stuff from the Fox costume department. They’re going to be pissed when I say Mickey lost the cape.”

“Sounds hep,” I said. “Which way did you come home?”

“We just zipped along Sunset, missed all the traffic and everything. Why do you ask?”

“Just wondering. I got stuck in traffic.”

“But you got Serena, didn’t you.”

“Yeah. She’s at home with Anton now. He’s probably trying to wash that blue crap off her.”

“That’s super. She sure looked messed up. I wish Scream had been shot in the nuts.”

“Me too. Then he would have had to go to hospital and I could trace him down. Anyhow, I think I’m going to head over to Ed Wood’s and have a drink. He’s having a party because even in the eye of the maelstrom, he managed to get paid.”

“Is she going to be there?”


“You know, the Bettie Page lookalike that you’ve been porking.”

“Is that the green-eyed monster I hear?”

“Just don’t give me a dose next time we get together,” she said and hung up.

I sat back and stroked where my mustache used to reside. Lex jumped up in my lap and I stroked his lustrous black fur, feeling its crackle of electricity. Brass breastplate. A perfect place for concealing a pistol. A big cape. Perfect for concealing the shot. Then discarded to get rid of the bullethole. Mickey had motive. He wasn’t with Jayne when the shot was fired. I figured there were pretty good odds that our man Mick was the one who saved my bacon by taking the initiative.

Enough detective work for one day.

I got up and quickly typed out five hundred words on the party and its upset. I felt like a drink or six.

I dropped off the copy at the paper and picked up my messages, then I skedaddled before anyone tagged me for an assignment.

* * *

When I got to Ed’s it was like a scene from Satyricon. Betty shone like some heavy-lidded goddess of dissipation among the gargoyles that were Ed’s social circle. Even the fortifying effects of wearing ladies clothing seemed to have failed Ed as he staggered from guest to guest proclaiming his genius and pontificating on new projects and the stupidity of the Hollywood moguls who refused to finance them.

Trixie, the daemon film student, came up to pour me a drink. Wasted, she looked even more terrifying, but she kept pushing her ample chest against my arm and I felt myself warming to her.

Betty emerged from the bathroom, her nose a fetching red. I excused myself from Trixie and went over to see Betty. The dagger eyes I received from dismissing Trixie sent chills through my groin.

Betty had managed an interesting look with baggy harem-style sweat pants pulled over her garters and nylons, her feet were in running shoes. However, on the top, she still wore her leather corselet. Her black hair was wild, the room’s humidity having returned some of its natural curl. A sweat-damp forelock fell over her forehead where before there had been perfect bangs. The goddess reserve was gone, too. She shrieked when she saw me and barged through the crowd to throw a hug around my neck that almost snapped it. Her leather-clad breasts almost poked holes in my chest.

“Watch it or you’ll hurt somebody with those,” I gasped.

She pulled back with an ear-to-ear, rubber-lipped grin. “Oh Danny, we did it,” she giggled.

“Or, at least, somebody did it,” I said.

* * *

“Let’s get out of here and go back to my place,” Betty slurred. “I’ve still got some nose candy left and I feel in the mood for fun. The ogres around here look like they’re going to start throwing up soon.”

We gathered up Betty’s stuff and said good-bye to Ed, who was barely registering social interaction by this point. As we exited, I looked over at Trixie who stuck out her tongue at me. This would have been unremarkable, but for the length of the appendage. It dropped past her chin and then the tip curled toward me and waggled independent of the supporting tissue. I knew that picture would stick unbidden in my mind for far too long.

I was the envy of anyone who looked in the car as I drove to Betty’s. She could not sit still and was dancing around in the car to little pop tunes that she was humming. She looked wild, dangerous and delicious.

When we got back to her place and I was dragged into the bedroom, I became a man of the world. Every which way from Tuesday.

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