Thursday, July 17, 2008

Jayne & the Satanists --Chapter 28


I had noticed an occult bookstore downtown over the years.  So, I drove over there.  It was a typically gloomy place and the guy behind the counter obviously idolized LaVey and tried to look as much like him as possible.  The walls were covered floor to ceiling with books and there was a central glass table with a locked glass chamber so you could look at, but not touch, the most prized tomes. 

     “Do you have a book here that would tell me about Hermaphrodite?” I asked the ersatz LaVey.

     “Oh yeah.  There’s been a real run on those, recently.  Over here,” he said, getting off his perch.  He led me to a corner and pulled out a volume called Hermaphrodite: Unbound by Shah Ali Madrain.  “This is the most popular one,” he said.

     “When you said there’d been a run on material on this subject, how many customers are we talking about?”

     “Oh, a good couple of dozen.”

     “Why would there be a run on this subject?”

     “The Feast of Hermaphrodite is coming up, I suppose.  These things come in fads.  Before this season, we hardly sold any on this subject.  Some months everybody wants something on Pan.  Other times on Samhain.  It comes and goes.”

     “Anything you’ve noticed about any of these people?”

     “Nothing in particular, though one dame came in here with a big hat and dark glasses.  Could’ve been a movie star or something.”

     “What color hair?”

     “Jet black, knockout figure, spike heels, very nice,” he grinned a sickening faceful of leering man-to-man lust.

     “Did a black guy come in and buy anything.”

     “Now that you mention it, a black man did come in here and bought a very special old book on Hermaphrodite from the rare books case.  Why are you asking so many questions?”

     “I’m a screenwriter.  I pitched a script based on Hermaphrodite to a studio.  I’m just worried about people trying to steal my idea.”

     He nodded.  Well, that girl could have been in the film industry.  A few muscle boys came in too.  They might have been stunt men.”

     “That black guy, what did he look like?”

     “Oh I can’t remember that.  Black as strong coffee, normal size, normal clothes.  Obviously had dough though.  The book cost five hundred bucks.”

     “Must have been one hell of a book?” I gasped.

     “All of them in the glass case are special.”

     “Got another one?”


     “What was it called?”

     Arcanium Hermaphroditus.”

     “By who?”

     “The Comte Ste. Germaine.”

     “Who’s he?”

     “He is a being who surfaced in the 16th Century.  It is said he still exists, that he is the eternal man.  The most powerful of the adepts.”

     I thanked him for his time and bought the Hermaphrodite: Unbound edition.  “You really look a lot like Anton LaVey,” I said as I left.  He blushed and tried to stifle a pleased grin.


*  *  *  * 


I called LaVey from a payphone at a nearby tavern.  I asked him if he had the Comte Ste. Germaine book.  He did and said I could have the rare privilege of studying it in his library.

     I whipped right over.

     From LaVey’s demeanor, I knew a great honor had been bestowed upon me.  We sat at the library table and, with suitable pomp, LaVey opened a wooden box and withdrew a leatherbound tome.  “This edition is far more valuable than the one they had in that shop,” he announced.  “Turn its pages with care.”  He handed me a pair of thin cotton gloves.

     “Mr. LaVey, who is this author, Ste. Germaine?  The clerk gave me some cock-and-bull story about him being an adept who has lived for centuries.”

     Steepling his fingers, LaVey looked down the sharp planes of his cheeks at me.  “I have little doubt that, in a nutshell, that is true.  There have been many reliable reports of Ste. Germaine surfacing.  The one I put most store in is Lex’s.  He claims to have crossed paths with Ste. Germaine, several times.  I would say that man, or whatever he may be, would comprise one of the few chinks in Lex’s armor of fearlessness.  A man of consummate evil, Ste. Germaine has been at the root of many of the great horrors of the last four centuries.  There have been reports from, as those in your craft say, informed sources that have placed him at the Ford Theater on Abraham Lincoln’s fateful night and there is a great deal of information that he was a close associate of Hitler and Krepps.  He walks the world with all the leisure of an immortal and what unholy pacts he has made with the great forces to ensure his longevity can hardly be dreamt.  I have never, ever, claimed to have met Satan face to face and, perhaps, I have never wished for such.  However, legend tells us that Ste. Germaine has, in fact, had that honor.”

     “Would he be what they call the antichrist?”

     “No.  That would be too flashy a position for him.  He prefers to work behind the scenes, setting the clockwork gears in motion for men to sow their own damnation and agony.  The antichrist, who knows who that is?  Some believe he already came in the mid first century, as the Emperor Nero.  Others believe he was Napoleon, some even believe he is me.  According to the Bible, the third red heifer must be born in Jerusalem before the antichrist can be born.  And, as yet, there have been only two such births in the centuries since Christ’s death.  The antichrist remains, to my knowledge, something of immediate interest only to southern Baptist preachers.  I have studied the matter intensely and feel that we have nothing to worry about until the year 2012.  And you and I will be gone by then.  If suddenly we are wrenched from our graves to face the Final Judgement, I only hope we get a few years rest with the worms before having to toe the line again.

     “Ste. Germaine, however will be there in full bib and tucker, you can bet your soul.  What makes Ste. Germaine so horrifying is his connection to humanity, his lack of supernatural birth.  Some feel he is the only existing bridge between here and there.  I have been called the world’s greatest sinner and the most evil man alive, Mr. Holcomb.  Still, I would certainly rather meet Ste. Germaine than be him should the energies between the worlds be coursing through him constantly.

“Now, I have some experiments to work on.  Please feel free to stay here as long as you wish to study this book.  If you need anything, call Serena.”  Then he turned and added, with a bibliophile’s petulance.  “Although, I’m afraid I will not have you eating or drinking near that book.  And put the gloves on now.”

     “Of course,” I said, and that seemed to please him.

     In the course of the next hour, I learned of horrors the like of which I had not in my thirty-three years imagined.  I felt fearful just being in the vicinity of the tome, which seemed, after I gained some familiarity with it, to emanate vapors of yellow sulphorous evil.  The cult of Hermaphrodite could rival the Aztecs for sheer ritual bloodshed.  Hermaphrodite was a lesser god, hence, presumably, more amenable to communication with humans.  As the creature possessed the attributes of both sexes, it was to represent symbolically the polarity of the cosmos, good and evil, wisdom and ignorance, heat and cold, life and death and, most importantly, matter and spirit.  No wonder Ste. Germaine had been interested in it, for as LaVey had said of him, Hermaphrodite seemed a bridge between this world and another unseen.  And it seemed that bridge was constructed out of human bone and blood and suffering.

     The Comte Ste. Germaine recounted innumerable atrocities that he himself had committed to reach Hermaphrodite, however each attempt seemed to be doomed to peculiar failures.  However, I noted, the book was dated 1759.  An attempt since then may have met with success.

     Wearily, I rubbed my forehead and thought how screwy my brain had gotten.  I was now openly entertaining belief in alternate worlds, necromancy, daemons and a four-hundred-year-old mage.  And, though I had been in seedier places, I was sitting alone in the library of the world’s leading Satanist surrounded by one of the world’s largest collections of spook books.  Recently, I had contemplated shooting a man.  Occasionally, I slept with the world’s preeminent sex goddess.  I had a crush, maybe more than that, on a hooker who serviced the fetish trade.  Plus, I had a four-hundred-year-old cat who swirled into black mist and killed people.  As the cream on those strawberries, I made my living abusing the public trust and publishing patent lies about the rich, famous and beloved.

     I could live with the last part, but the rest was starting to rankle on me.

     I had grown used to seeing various renderings of this horrific god-thing with its legs splayed, showing both enormous male genitalia and a horrendous gaping female orifice, but when I turned the page, what I saw shocked me even more.

     There was a vile etching of what I could only think of calling a baby tree.  It was a huge oak, its branches twisted and contorted with some sort of innate malignity.  From dozens of the branches hung the bodies of infants, their skin streaked with trails of blood that dripped to the ground to be absorbed by the gnarled roots of this misshapen tree.  I quickly flipped the page to get this atrocity out of my sight, but what I found there was worse still.  A sketch of a bearded, sinister looking man with several babes stuffed under one arm while his other swung a child by its legs to smash its head on what appeared to be a rock altar.

     When a knock came at the door I almost leapt out of my skin.  LaVey glowered through the crack of the doorway.  “You have been at it for over an hour.  I was wondering how you were doing.”

     I licked my lips to get some moisture back into my mouth.  “I, I’m horrified.  The rituals for calling up this hellspawn are savage beyond all reason.”

     LaVey moved into the room and took his favorite black leather armchair.  As was his custom he steepled his fingers and stared at me before saying anything.  “Yesss,” he sighed.  “My Satanism is more of a philosophy.  But there are those who will stop at nothing.  My philosophy recognizes that there are standards and conducts that must be abided by, a fierce morality, if you will.  But, there are others who believe even crimes against the race of humanity can be perpetrated with impunity as long as the ultimate end is power.  Power is all, to them.  My views place a higher importance on understanding and tolerance.”  He paused, and pondered whether to say more, but decided against showing more of this softer side of his persona.

     “It is a disturbing volume, isn’t it?”

     I nodded.  “Horrible.”

     Again, LaVey merely blinked slowly and let his silence speak its truth.

     “Would you think someone would go to these ends to conjure up this Hermaphrodite.”

     LaVey nodded.  “I believe that it has been done previously, and that it will be done again.”

     “Could Hoxhok be Ste. Germaine?”

     “Ste. Germaine has always been white.  But, if Hoxhok is planning a rite to call up Hermaphrodite, he may well be attempting to recruit Ste. Germaine.  If that is the case, we have, and indeed the world has, something to seriously worry about.”

     “What would happen if you contacted Ariana and said you’d gotten wind of this big ceremony and wanted to be part of it?”

     “After an all-out war had been declared between our camps?” he scoffed.  “After he abducted my woman?  Ridiculous and impossible.”

     “Surely, you must have someone in your congregation who could infiltrate his little bun-toss.”

     LaVey stroked his beard in thought.  Then, our eyes met and we said as one: “Jayne.”


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