Friday, June 13, 2008

Jayne & the Satanists --Chapter 24


I blessed the day that I had picked a house with an enclosed garage.  I spent the rest of the night wiping out the back seat and hammering down the jagged metal edges where the bullet had torn through my roof.  Tomorrow I’d get some Bondo, then I would have to ante up for a paintjob.  Maybe I would get a contrasting color so I would not have to pay for the whole car.  Now I only had to figure out what to do about the powder-burned hole in my ceiling upholstery before I took it into the paint shop.

     As for Lex, he fell into a contented sleep.

     The sun was coming up as I finished my cleanup.  I put on a pot of coffee, showered, shaved leaving my mustache stubble alone, changed my clothes and grabbed a fresh towel from the linen cupboard.  I spread the towel on my bed and unloaded my jacket pockets of the thug’s possessions.  Driver’s license said he was Johnny Fine, thirty-two years old, resided at apartment 103-1263 LaBrea.  Business cards said he was a security consultant -self-employed, so that was no help.  Sixty-two dollars in cash.  His watch was a Lumina, no inscription.  He had worn a gold Masonic ring with a small sapphire and silver ring in a celtic design with a small cross on it.  Gorgons flanking the cross indicated that the cross was upside down.  The pistol was a .38 Colt Detective Special, ordinary ammo.  Handkerchief, pocketknife, brass Zippo lighter no engraving, black pocket comb, keys to a Chev and probably his apartment and post box.  A half-full pack of Luckies.  A full bottle of benzedrine tablets. 

     I did not give a shit that he had died.  He was a man who tried to hurt me.  Bravo Lex.

     I called the residence number on his business card.  No answer after a dozen rings.  If I got over there pronto.  I could probably get in, check his apartment all before the body, which had by now probably been reported and picked up, was identified and before he was noticed missing at work at nine or so.

     Leaving Lex to slumber.  I hopped in the car.  I parked two blocks from the apartment building.  I let myself into the building and up the stairs to his apartment.  No one was in the halls.  I jimmied the lock and entered the apartment.

     What kind of screwball lived here? I thought, switching on a light. 

     The entrance hallway was lined with religious icons.  Dark things, featuring monks in varying settings of penance and self mortification.  The livingroom was dark until I found a lamp.  In the light, I could see that the windows had all been papered over.  The decor was early horned masks.  African masks, Mexican, North American, all depicting horned mythological entities.  There was a cheap black sofa and a black wooden coffee table.  In the kitchen, there were pots in the sink.  I pulled on gloves and opened the refrigerator.  There were three bottles of Budweiser.  I opened one and took a swig, felt the bubbles burn down into my empty stomach.

     I went into the bedroom.  Here, another decor predominated.  Black and white, eight-by-ten pictures of Ariana, framed in cheap black document frames.  She was solo in all of them.  Dressed as a high priestess, as a domina, smiling poolside in a black bathing suit.  In some, she looked beautiful, in others, disconcertingly bizarre.  Fine’s bed did not look posturpedic.  It was a wooden pallet with a single gray flannel blanket thrown over it.  Beside the bed was a candle in a holder, a full ashtray and a tube of Vaseline.  The place reeked of incense that could not quite conceal the scent of body sweat.  I got the impression that whatever obsessed Fine did not allow him much peaceful sleep.

     I lifted the pallet and there was a manila envelope.  Sex pictures of a man I presumed to be Fine being dominated in all ways by Ariana.  Girl got around.

     In the bathroom, I found a bottle of Seconal, probably to offset the bennies’ jitters.  I sipped my beer and looked around.  There was another bottle, liquid, I opened it an whipped my head away before the amyl nitrite knocked it into another dimension.  Jeez, was I the only one who did not think this stuff was real healthy?  I put both bottles in my pocket.

     Back in the livingroom, I noticed a small bookshelf.  All occult arcana.  That was about it for the apartment.  As I was leaving, I checked the hall closet.  I thought that his bedroom closet had been overstuffed.  In here stood a metal file cabinet.  It was locked, but I appropriated a butcher knofe from the kitchen that I used to pry open the drawers until the latches torqued out of their settings.

     Files, just like the ones in Scream’s office.  I grabbed a few and noticed duplicates of the ones on me, Betty, Chambers and LaVey.  I saw some more names I recognized and pulled them.  In the bottom drawer, I found a good Leica camera, some Zeiss binoculars, some ammunition for the .38.  I knew if I started going through files, I’d end up with far too much to feasibly smuggle out.  I didn’t know what to do with the beer bottle so I put filled it with water and put it back in the fridge.  I put the camera and binoculars around my neck, the bullets and files in my briefcase and I got the hell out of there.  It was six-fifteen when I stepped out through the apartment building’s doors without having seen anyone.

No comments: