Sunday, July 6, 2008

Jayne & the Satanists --Chapter 26

“Whether you believe me or not, you have seen that Lex can come in handy and is a good defender.  That is all you need believe.”

     “I heard from the medical examiner that there was a series of puma attacks a few years back.  That the victims were found missing their eyeballs.”

     LaVey’s eyebrow arched.  He sucked his cheeks in and ran his forefinger and thumb along the outsides of his Vandyke.  He locked his eyes with mine.  “So?”

     “Well, I noticed that Lex likes eyeballs.”

     “Yech!” piped in Jayne.

     LaVey waved his long fingers in a dismissive figure eight.  “Cats of all kinds eat the soft tissues first.  Surely, you’re not suggesting that Lex went on some sort of killing spree.”  It was not a question.

     “I suppose not.  I don’t find it any harder to believe than what you’ve just told me....”

     “Lex is a good cat.  That is all.  Now, you had some other matters to ask me about.” 

     And the matter was terminated.

     “Yeah, I snuck out to Zuma Beach the other night and saw a little ceremony that Scream also attended.  The newly resurrected Ariana was there too, dancing around and eventually boffing the presiding emcee, a negro fellow in a Pacific Northwestern Indian mask.

     “Ah, Hoxhok,” sighed LaVey.  “A piker, a charlatan, but a very dangerous psychotic, as well.  A believer in cannibalism, based on the Kwakiutl mythology of the Pacific Northwest.  He takes his name from the cannibal raven god.  He claims to be working on some transubstantiation of the human body to godness.  A mere criminal, I can assure you.”

     “But what is the significance of him pouring the pork to Ariana?”

     “There may be little meaning to it.  Sexual congress has always played a major role in pagan rites.  Or, they may be trying to meld their powers in order to perform an extreme spell.  Ariana is a very powerful woman, far more powerful than Hoxhok.  She may just have wanted to sample his wares, as it were.  Maybe she is excited by the exhibitionism of the act.  Or she may believe that Hoxhok is more powerful than I have expressed.  If it is the latter, then there is likely a reason for that.  Let me look into it and get back to you.”  With that, he stood and the interview was over.


*  *  *  *


Out in the car, Jayne spoke up.  “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this.  But there was some suspicion that Lex was involved in those puma attacks.”

     I nodded.  “I figured LaVey might be hiding something.”

     “The people who were killed were low echelon Satanists who used animals in their rites.  There was talk of... bestiality... being involved in the rituals.  They were horrible people.  They wanted to feel an animal die while they were having sex with it.  They thought they could absorb the creature’s essence or something stupid like that.  Anyhow, Lex got loose for a few days and various of these people turned up dead.  Doesn’t seem hard to make the connection.”

     “Sounds like they had it coming.”

     “Fucking right.  I hate people who harm animals.”

Jayne had pets at home that needed to be groomed and kids that needed to be looked after.  But she did not have any of her whirl of appointments today, so I persuaded her to take an hour off and go to the beach with me.

     We drove to Venice and she tied up her hair in a kerchief and popped on big bug-eye shades.  She rubbed her lipstick off and she borrowed an old windbreaker I kept in the car.  Try to keep the boys from attracting too much attention.  There was a nice breeze blowing, which kept the lovely sunshine from becoming unbearable.

     We walked to a little cantina and ordered beers and hot dogs.  Because of her physical attributes, a lot of people did not give Jayne much credit for brains.  She actually had an IQ of 163 and had studied at Southern Methodist University,  University of Texas at Austin and UCLA.  She, spoke five languages, and was a classically trained pianist and violinist.  She was very funny and witty and a great gal to chat with.  “Where do you get that amyl nitrite stuff?” I asked her.  “Seems to be a lot of it connected with this case.  I realize you probably get the ampules from a doctor or a pharmacist, but some of the people involved in this cult business have big bottles of the stuff.  Where would they get that?”

     “There’s a lot of chemists around town that make stuff like that, amphetamines too.  But the main guy is called Mr. Roderick.  He’s a swish that has a storefront on The Strip.  He makes beautiful sexy lingerie that he sells off the rack, but he also sells stuff from his back room.  If you want a catsuit made out of black rubber, he’s your man.  Want a foot-long dildo, or an artificial pussy, a man or woman doll with serviceable orifices, a special lubricant with Spanish fly mixed in it that will keep you hard for hours, or enough poppers to supply your next orgy, then he’s the man you go to see.”

     “Illegal drugs, heroin, cocaine?”

     “No.  Strictly stuff for sexual purposes.  He figures you can get your own illegal stuff.  What he does is relatively within the law.”

     “So if I went in there, would he sell me what I wanted?”

     “Sure, he’s not a crook.”

     “Does he make the poppers?”

     “Yeah, he makes it at home in his basement.  Some people make wine.”

     “Still, if they lit a cigarette, wine wouldn’t blow up half a city block.”

     “Some of the vino I’ve tasted sure would.”

     It was a pleasant idyll, but Jayne had to get back to her kids and menagerie.  She gave me a kiss redolent of beer and hot dog and sun-warmed woman.  I dropped her off at her car. 

Then I headed over to Mr. Roderick’s of Hollywood.


*  *  *  *


The shop was all glass and chrome with mannequins in feisty lingerie crowding the window.  Each appealing ensemble spurred me to reach for my wallet in order to drape Betty in its enticing texture.  But, I was aware that I’d blown too much dough on her recently.

     The swish behind the counter wore a blond rug styled in a Liberace pompadour.  He had one of those pencil-thin mustaches that always made me wonder how guys trimmed them so perfectly.  Maybe it was drawn on with eyebrow pencil.  His shirt was a satin blaze of pink carnations and his trousers were white and tight.  His physique was sylph-like.  He smiled like a frog about to tongue a fly.

     “A buddy of mine, Johnny Fine, said I could buy some amyls here,” I opened.

     He nodded and reached beneath the counter bringing up three sizes of vials.  “Personal size, party or orgy?” he asked. 

     “Party,” I said pointing to the middle bottle.

     “That’s four dollars,” he said.  “Will there be anything else?”

     I handed him the bills.  “I’ve been looking for Johnny,” I said.  “He doesn’t answer his phone, these days.  Any idea of where he might be found?”

     “You a cop?”

     “Nah, just wanted to get together with Johnny for some good times.”

     “I see.  Well, I don’t know that Johnny has many good times.  He keeps pretty much to himself.  I know, he sometimes stops over at the Hellfire Club to stare at his idol.”

     “You mean Ariana?”

     He looked surprised.  “You do know our Johnny.  Yes, I think his life revolves around Miss Ariana’s scraggy butt.”

     “You sound like you don’t like her much.”

     His brow knotted up into burls of skin.  “I deal in fantasy,” he said.  “There’s some people who don’t know where fantasy ends and step over the line and try and make their reality fantastical.  Those sorts of people are out of their minds.  Ariana takes fantasy too far, from a little harmless whimsy into a twenty-four hour a day lifestyle.  No, she’s not one of my favorite people.  I think she’s dangerous.  Anyhow, now she’s dead.”

     “Wasn’t she part of some witchcraft cult or something?”

     “Yeah, a bunch of sickies.  I wouldn’t go near them.”

     “Another buddy of mine, Ted, big muscle guy says he gets his pops from you.  I think he works for Ariana....”

     “Yeah, I know Ted.  What’s your point?”

     “Just seems that Ariana’s people use a fair bit of your product.”

     “Well, as you well know,” he said, pointing to the bag he had handed me.  “Andybody who’s had sex with pops ain’t going back to normal sex.  It’s just too good to step back.”

     I nodded, with what I hoped was credibility.  “Anyhow, on to other topics.  Do you know a dame who goes by the name of Betty Pain?  I was wanting to get ahold of her for a stag I’m throwing for a buddy.  This looks like the sort of place where she’d shop.”

     “Sure, I’ve made custom stuff for Betty.  Leather stuff.  She’s a great gal, life of the party.  If she comes in, I’ll let her know you were looking for her.  Have you got a number you can leave with me?”

     “Is she expensive?”


     “Maybe I better look for something a little more affordable.  Keep Betty for my dreams.”

     I could see the disgust and suspicion rise in his eyes.  “Yeah, well, enjoy your poor man’s cocaine.”

     I nodded and headed out the door.  I went down the street to a tavern and ordered a beer while I wondered what I’d learned, if anything, from my conversation with Mr. Roderick.

     I went back to the office.  The editor told me it was time for an on-set piece.  I phoned around and sussed out who was amenable to a reporter showing up on their set.  A few seemed okay with the idea.  There was a horror flick being shot over at Santana Studios.  It starred Shannon Mitchener, a good-looking young guy who was taking his career places and Blondie Bean, a ditzy young comedienne who was spectacular looking and was seen to be a smart cookie who was really going to make something of herself.

     On-set interviews are a pain in that nobody is ever on time for their appointments because the schedule is always behind.  I have waited eight hours only to have five minutes with some thespian before they are called back to the set.  It’s quite frustrating, so I always take along a book and a pint of whisky for nips in the bathroom.  I made an appointment with the unit publicist and set off prepared for a dull afternoon.


*  *  *  * 


Santana Studios was not a major, but I had to give my name at the security kiosk just past the pearly gates.  I checked in with the administration office and the publicist, a drab woman who probably made a pauper’s wage but whose elbow rubbing with stars had given her an imperious mien, came out to escort me to the set.

     The movie was called The Dark Corridor, something about a dumpy cop, played by the great Kenneth McMillan, who was trying to track down a murderer, played by Mitchener, who was making himself crazy with drugs.  The object of his homicidal obsession was a hometown cheerleader who was the belle of the gridiron played by Bean.  McMillan had declined to be interviewed by me.  He had read my work.

     I was escorted to a chair by the craft services tables where I could see into a kitchen set where Mitchell had kidnapped Bean and was going through some insane-person rant.  McMillan stood nearby, occasionally raising a paper cup of coffee to that terrific bulldog face.  I got a glass of soda and excused myself into the bathroom where I knocked back a stiff highball.

     Watching acting is one of the more painful experiences one can have.  With all the repetition and retakes, I remain constantly astonished that movies ever actually get made.  I sat where I was told and cracked a book.  It was a good one, the new Steinbeck.


*  *  *  *


Time finally came when the director called a break and I was escorted over to a dressing room to interview Blondie Bean.  When the publicist left us alone, I was momentarily stunned by the woman’s beauty.  The camera did not do her justice.  She had long wavy blonde hair framing an incredibly cute All-American girl face: big eyes, turned up nose, lush lips and a golden tan.  Her body was tanned and toned, set off by a simple white T-shirt and shorts.  She padded around the dressing room barefoot.

     We started with the basics: what she thought of this role, what it would do for her career, how she came to the current level of her career, what she aspired to.  Then I got personal.  Any boyfriend?  No.  The studio set her up on dates for appearances at premieres and parties.  Didn’t she want a boyfriend?  Yes, but there wasn’t much time for that sort of thing.  Blah, blah, blah.

     When I got to talk to Mitchener, it was the same thing.

Journalism is like baseball, the legs go first.  After a while, you have asked the same old questions so many times you can predict the answers.  You just can’t get it up for research anymore.  Which was why I appreciated the creative aspects of my paper.  By next issue, Bean and Mitchell would be in a simmering cauldron of passions birthed on the movie set.  They would not be offended.  Any publicity is good publicity, as long as their names are spelled right.

     The publicist had left for the day by the time I wrapped up.  I swilled the last of my flask in the washroom and, feeling like I had done a good day’s work, I set out in the twilight wandering among the studios and sets.  Runners ran script sides onto sets from the hovels where writers were holed up.  Gaffers and grips ran chunks of boats and buildings from carpentry shops to soundstages where facades were being built.  Actors in monster suits, carrying their heads under their arms, shuffled past, their energy for the day gone, with hours of night shoots before sleep.  No security guards were hustling around being efficient.  It was a magic time in a place that made magic.  I felt mellow as a warm cat.

     I was walking past a huge airplane hangar, when a side door burst open and several men in expensive suits burst out in a blather of arguments and cigar smoke.

     One of them used a cane to help him hobble along.  He was heavyset and bald.  The familiarity of his gait, the physique.

     I watched the men walk away and round a corner.  Then I stepped into the soundstage they had just left.  I nabbed the first workman I could see.  “Who’s that exec who just left?  Bald, uses a cane....”

     The guy nodded.  “That’s Mr. Bluestein, the producer.”  My head spun.  Bunny Bluestein, one of the most powerful men in Hollywood was quite possibly Sandor Scream.



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