XV - The Devil
"Alright now! Won't you Listen?
When I first met you . . . didn't realize, I can't forget you or your surprise.
You introduced me to my mind and left me wanting you and your kind.
Oh, yeah! I love you."
Black Sabbath * Sweet Leaf
The Deceiver stirred. A pair of stygian orbs appeared through the haze, which crept silently along the floor of hell.
No rest for the wicked.
Its scales clicked against each other as it moved, pacing the chamber listening for the word. Subtle, almost inaudible murmurs came from the east.
The time is nigh . . .
Or . . .
"His Highness is nighness," April mused.
Night came early on days like this one. Storms brewed, threatening millions around the world, and the people held their breath, waiting for the end of nature's fury. Some thrive during a tempest, facing the storm head on; others hide.
While winds tore, untold numbers of rain-drenched lives apart. The relentless attack of raging weather devastated the cities but believers survived with their Faith intact. But there were scores of others who had long been lost to the World. The imaginary lines grew wider every age until no harmony is heard, only the single voice.
Mi . . . mi, mi, mi . . . Me . . .
"This is your voice, the one that speaks through you . . . to you," she tried to tell Tara. May knew what April had taught her about the secret side of life. It had been a while even if she hadn't been extremely high at that moment. She found herself hanging with Tara more and more these days, which was odd since Tara didn't do drugs, but constantly had them nearby. She didn't know why, but since the supply never ran short, there was no reason to go elsewhere. For the first time, May had become the teacher. Tara listened intently as the words poured out of May with grace and influence. For once she felt as if her views were being valued, appreciated. She shared with Tara the cryptic knowledge.
Tara heard a voice. She heard it for so long that she assumed it was her own thoughts. She never even realized that it was a man's voice in her head. Even when, in her mind, she debated with herself, it didn't seem strange that any opposing argument was posed by a distinctly female voice. This was, perhaps, because over the years, this voice spoke less often. That was until she thought of marriage, and then about Chance.
The machine cranked slowly into gear, but her biological clock became a ticking time bomb tucked neatly in one dark recess of her mind. And the voice spewed its poisonous rage into the echo of her head.
Shut the fuck up, you stupid little bitch. I didn't want a sermon, I wanted to know if I could get pregnant. After what my . . . that . . . that stupid motherfucker did . . . that stupid dead motherfucker did . . . What does it say about that, huh? What card tells you that I'm about to smash your non-shutting-up motherfucking mouth? If I wanted to talk about God, I wouldn't taken out the restraining order against the Witnesses. I'm going to beat your ass with the Bible belt if you don't shut the fuck up!!
All Tara said was, "Does it say anything about a baby?"
"Would you like it to say something about a baby?"
She smiled sweetly, "Maybe."
"Well, let me see . . . "
She wandered through her playing cards when the message went beyond the pale. Tara watched the color drain from May's face. Tara liked to see that look normally but under the circumstances, it didn't seem like such a good time. May stared into the deck's wisdom, said nothing to break the spell. Tara's mind screamed.
April felt the chill drift past her, not from within but like a cold pocket of air with traveling plans. She recognized it immediately.
Oh, boy, they are back, and now what do I do?
Squinting, she tried to discern what she knew to be present. It was very faint and after a while she gave up trying to see her visitor. She prayed for spiritual, and physical, protection just the same.
Now that the Party is alive and well, I can go back to my daydreams.
The first thing she unearthed was the journal. Immediately, she turned to the chart, automatically without having to look, because just as she opened it, something flew out, right past her left ear.
What the hell was that?
She didn't find any bugs in the room, so she went back to her task. Since the storms, she hadn't been able to go to work. Big T's was closed for the duration. Working a little on her comedy jokes, she wondered if for employment, she could start her own 976 number.
It could be an occult line, THE PSYCHIC SEX LINE . . . you call me and I tell you what you are wearing. Besides, if your psychic friends were that good, they'd call you.
Then she kicked around the idea,
I could be a surreal estate agent . . . for the afterlife . . . for people who have bought the farm?
She could hear distant groans of forgotten hecklers for that one. She scratched it out. Then another came to mind.
A guy called me up and asked me what I was wearing, and I lied to him and made something up, because I didn't want him to see me naked.
"Maybe, I shouldn't use this one anymore, now that I'm back in Texas," she considered.
A guy came to my door the other day and said, "Hello, mam, I'm Jehovah's Witness."
And I said, "Really? What's he up for?"
(Bill Hicks: If you don't like what I say, then forgive me!)
That's when April realized that maybe she could a stand-up set at the Party. Her face flushed at the thought.
I could, couldn't I?
Me . . . mi . . . mi, mi, my, my . . .
"Oh my . . ."
Tara left the wasted girl with plenty of incentive to stay put, as she decided to act upon a directive from the twisted portion of her logic. Not a mile up the road from the hotel by the water, she drove past her estate, and directly to his.
I bet he's got another girlfriend . . .
At least for her sake of mind, she figured that she should check out the possibilities. After all, he had given her a key. It wasn't like she was breaking in or anything. He was in Europe, told her to keep an eye on the place. Obviously, he had nothing to hide!
Right . . . nothing to hide.
Letting herself in, she cleared the security system with her code, and took a diet soda from the fridge. As she wandered aimlessly from room to room, she mulled over the photos, the awards, the platinum/gold records on his walls. Family photos did little to warm her heart, until she saw Chance's baby picture. She remembered why she came.
Starting in the first room to the right of the entrance, she ran her hand over the wall as she went counterclockwise through the interior from floor to ceiling. In her pursuit, she searched through each drawer, into every crevice, and left no stone unturned. She paused at the chessboard, remembering how much he liked to play, but she hadn't the patience to learn the game, or so she said.
I hate to lose . . . it's a stupid game anyway.
Her eyes noticed the painting, the man behind the chessboard sat waiting for the game to begin. His top hat was the only thing that showed, and his eyes. In his eyes were all the mysterious etchings that April could muster the night she painted it. A mushroom cloud formed behind, and had Tara been familiar with Alice . . ., she would have been able to understand the caterpillar with the bong. She just wrinkled her nose at the oddity of it.
Tara knew art, and this wasn't it. She tried to locate the painter's signature on it, but it was missing.
I wouldn't claim it either . . .
What she didn't understand that April's signature was all over it. If she had just listened to his music, she would have seen it then. But try as she might, she found nothing to suspect. Not even one phone number in his Rolodex that wasn't backed up with a professional contact in detail. Each card listed only people that she recognized. That was how she over looked it.
May sat alone, partying again, but with a sense of trouble now. That card reading wasn't Tara's, it was May's. She couldn't speak at all for the shock and horror. It wasn't very pleasant. Gave her nightmares for weeks afterward.
She never spoke of what she saw.
Tara went meticulously through each room being careful not to noticeably disturb any of his belongings. She wasn't really prepared to go through his attic, or the stuff sealed in storage. Bad times in the attic . . .
In his bedroom, she went to the bed where they made love, picking up his pillow. She recognized his scent. Silk sheets beckoned and she couldn't resist climbing in. With one hand, she unbuttoned her blouse. The other went south. In the mirror over head, she watched her nipples grow erect as her violet lingerie camisole fell open. Soon she removed her panties. She managed to open her eyes in time to see herself climax.
Love enveloped her for a few brief moments as she lay their day dreaming about Chance. Soon he would be back for good. She wanted him all to herself, and from the looks of it, that fantasy would become real soon. The tour was almost over.
Seek, and ye shall find . . .
She tried to ignore the impulse, but she forced herself to get up. She straightened the bed and went to his closet to wear one of his shirts, which read Undefeated across it. In the corner of the closet was a stack of blankets with a painting leaning against it. Tara almost didn't see what was there.
Tara had given up on her mission when she heard the directive even louder. Something was under the blankets. It seemed to move as if to catch her attention, or maybe it was the light playing tricks on her eyes. But she found what she was looking for.
She pulled the container from its hiding place, dragging it to the center of the room. Standing up straight, she hesitated opening it. After rummaging through countless drawers, she had located keys to locked trunks that she thought sure would hold some little secret possession, which would betray his innocence but for the last two hours, nothing had emerged. This was different.
I know I shouldn't be doing this, but . . .
She couldn't resist! Moments later, she sat cross legged on the rug, sifting through the contents. At first, she removed one letter and read it, careful to replace it exactly. By the third letter, her anger overwhelmed her.
Tara picked up the box, and took it outside. On the well manicured lawn, she set it down and stepped back. By the light of the full moon, Tara's eyes flashed wildly, insane with jealousy. Out came her lighter. With a fatal blow for justice, she set one corner of the box aflame.
April walked into her living room, having put the baby down for bed. Once there, she finished putting up the baby's toys spread on the floor. When she turned out the overhead light, there danced a single flame on the shelf next to his picture. Cold chills encompassed her, making the hair on her arms tingle.
I didn't light that!
She was glad that she had noticed it, as it might have burned down the trailer. It wasn't normal for her to burn that candle without purpose, but maybe she had. If she hadn't been exhausted, she might have let it burn. With a quick prayer, perhaps a little more inspired than usual, she licked her fingers and snuffed out the candle.
The moon hung low, full and stark, on the Malibu hills. Silent except for the low rumble of waves crashing below, Chance's estate stood witness to the events. Tara laughed manically, as the tiny spark grew to consume one flap. Just as it hit the main portion of the box, she heard the voice.
Without a second thought, she jumped on the box, failing to slap out the growing embers. She eyed the garden hose, picked it up, then changed her mind. The only thing she could do in that case was strip off her shirt and smother it. Burning herself a little, she was more relieved that she hadn't waited a moment too late to change heart.
But why? It's not like I can put it back in his closet. Oh, shit . . . look at his shirt!!
She laughed hysterically as she viewed the damage. The box hadn't caught fire enough to burn the belongings she was happy to see. But now it presented a dilemma.
What do I do with the stuff.
Only one option, she realized that she would have to take it with her.
Take it home . . .
She stuffed the tattered rag into the container. That was when she noticed that she stood naked. Face turned upward to the full moon, she smiled and closed her eyes, bathing herself in its light. Stretching her body, Tara almost danced in her movement. Then as if she heard a noise, she stopped and listened.
I better get the fuck outta Dodge!
Dressing quickly, she straightened up the bed perfectly, went to the closet, re-folded the blankets, and got dressed quickly. Outside, she shoved the evidence into the trunk. She went back into the house to reset the alarm when she remembered something. Back up the stairs, she went into the closet and removed the empty clothes hanger.
I wonder who is at the security company tonight. I bet I can get this little excursion erased. Let's see . . . what dope do I have on me?
Back in the car, she found what she might need. The first stop was to Chance's home defense provider where she found an old friend, Lou Cifre, wanna-be Private Eye. After her second cup of his coffee, she posed the first of her two propositions.
He gladly removed the incriminating record, which he explained would remain in central processing but would be erased from the daily accounts, therefore Chance would be unable to obtain them through his bills or through the general information call upon his return.
Tara had never been there . . .
Her second request intrigued him considerably. She knew Lou would do anything required to 'get the job done.' It was nothing to him. He had no ethics and little morals, so all she had to do to guarantee complete loyalty was pay more than anyone else offered him, and send Ghost to deliver the first cash payment.
"I'm going to go home tonight and think about how to approach this situation I've come upon, and will let you know soon exactly what this assignment will entail. You just realize that you will be paid generously for your discretion. You have nothing illegal to worry about to accomplish this mission, but if you ever mention this or any other meeting we have, I will personally kill you."
"Oh, hell, Tara! You know me!"
"I know, that's why I came to you . . . first!"
"Who else could do it for you better than me?"
"I know! That's why I'm here."
For the first time in a long time, she felt cheerful. For some unknown reason, he made her feel welcome, comfortable and as a result, the endless profanity in her mind subsided. She stayed for the next few hours, surprised when she forgot all about the box, which only came to mind when Lou brought it up.
"So, what did you steal?"
"What? Uh . . ."
"What did you steal from Chance's house?"
"Oh nothing . . . I just . . . uh . . . Why would you ask me such a question?"
"Because you stole something," he laughed.
It was evident to him, for two reasons. This job taught him the business of theft. That and his past. He only believed in two reasons that anyone would erase security entrance into a residence. One was infidelity. Taking something strange home and trying to cover one's tracks wasn't likely since Tara had a bad-ass house nearby. The more likely, however, was theft. He'd seen it all before, though, so unless she 'shared,' he might conjure a half a dozen other reasons.
Little did he realize at the time, he was right on both accounts
At midnight, she left. The moon was completely eclipsed at this point, which she failed to notice. She was too intent on getting to her house. Her drive home gave her time to stew, anger brimming to the surface, and attempts to relax and calm down failed. Deep sighs did nothing. Closing her eyes at the red lights in a momentary meditation didn't either.
Maybe some music . . .
She reached blindly into the glove compartment for a tape, and putting it into the machine as she made the left, she heard the end of Chance's song Momentary Magic. At first she pushed the eject button, and removed the offending music. Then she said to her faraway lover, So, Chance, what do you have to say for yourself?
The music faded from the first track and the second song faded in slowly, chimes and cymbals, or signs and symbols as April wrote in her journal. She had sent it to him in Chicago. When the second album had those words in its lyrics, April nearly fainted.
But Tara listened to the first album, unaware of that reference as of yet. Tonight she would see more than that.
I'm definitely onto something here! Her!
April went to bed that night oblivious to the danger the brewed in the west, unaware, too, of the eclipse, which shone silhouetted in the sky over her house. Storms were churning in the netherworld, but no clouds formed in the sky until Tara opened the carton inside her house.
After lifting the three remaining flaps, she paused, gazing into IT.
I'm not going to like this!
She fixed herself a cup of tea, and put on Chance's second release. This one was called After the Magic . . . , which she tried to figure out.
After the magic, what?
"Exactly!" was his only answer to that question he ever gave.
She thought of her own ending. After the Magic is Gone! In a way, it was. This album only went gold, compared to the platinum for the previous work. Maybe it had only been momentary magic, huh, Chance?
She had laughed inside with that unspoken bit of truth. The critics had been harsh.
But to April, it spoke for itself. She knew that it wasn't fair to judge it so, since it was a quickly released follow up to the first. The way she explained it was that a first album is the body of work that the artist has created over the course of his/her lifetime, all the best stuff. The second album then is either work that didn't make it on the first or it has been produced between the two releases. Ironically, April was listening to it when at the same time, Tara pressed the button to play After the Magic . . .
Tara, ready for what she knew she must do, pulled the box to the overstuffed black leather couch. It was sure to be a long night ahead. Next to Chance's collection was an empty trunk. She flipped through the envelopes, looking for the cancellation which would reveal date and place of origin. Into the new vessel she placed the finished letters in order with which the postmarks were filed.
Chance must have been pretty attentive to this. On her stereo, she listened intently to the words. What exactly had he meant by the lyrics? She assumed that it was her that some referred to, but what if they weren't?
By the end of the first page, she knew.
After the Magic . . .
Trk. 1: Put the Game Away
(3:24) written by Chance Lee,
I watch you slowly take away the dream I've never known,
Far beyond your rules, I live one of my own.
I can never be with you, my path another way,
but if I ever hold you near, please put the game away.
I don't need the fantasy, don't twist my twisted life,
Although I need a lover, I cannot have a wife.
Don't ask why I'm not around, or not to go away,
I'll remember what you said, but I'm not going to play.
When the song had come out so many years earlier, Tara had taken this song personally. It made her think twice before 'playing any games.' She had wanted to ask him about it but she never talked to him about his music. He had said that was one of her better qualities. Besides, inevitably every interview would contain the 'what does it all mean' angle. She didn't talk shop, secretly assuming all his answers as they related to her. For the first time, she wondered about this theory.
Tara thought of the chessboard. The Picture!!
"So, Chance, who is it? The big picture is getting smaller all the time, isn't it? What else have you got to say, huh, Rockboy? Mr. Superstar?"
The next song played on:
If I went down your dusty road and found that you weren't home,
Where would I go from there? Where else could I roam?
So if I choose to stay away, and leave you all alone,
It is because my love for you must remain unknown.
In my mind's eye I see you perfectly,
I can't believe that I believe,
that you believe it's me.
Synchronicity, we'll see . . .
So, don't look at me so carefully,
don't say too much too soon,
Go outside and just look up,
The Sun's eclipsed the moon.
On that note she went outside through the back door, and just as she suspected. Eclipse!! Just as I figured! Tara had a knack for such mystical encounters. She conjured up all kinds of crossroads in the universe. This one made her relax. The rest of the letters were easier to read after that.
April's night was far from peaceful. Visions flickered through her dreams, contorting her body as their images recorded themselves upon her memory records. The dragon was coming . . . your Highness . . . no wait, not you!
With the creature came the knowledge. We are coming from the East . . . Prepare ye the Way of the Lord . . . the beast, from the east . . .
"I'm coming for you!"
April sat upright, jolted awake by the voice of the revelation.
Christ, the anti-Christ is coming!
"March, in like a lion, out like a lamb. In like the Lamb, out like the Lion."
Oh, man, I can't believe that I am thinking like this. What if they both come as the same person? There, I wrote it down, but that doesn't mean I believe it necessarily . . . East, man, I have to remember what the dream just told me. Where's my pen?
Greenwich Mean time is east, isn't it? Right where Chance was born . . . She tried to stop herself from going down that dark road, but she had it right there on the paper before her. Two charts side by side caught her attention.
Chance in an Aries, so there's the sun. Now, I read somewhere that the rising sign was what a person was in the last lifetime. Oh my God, he was a Pisces!
"This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius . . . age of Aquarius . . ."
She studied the charts, and more became clear. If I turn it this way, and look at the connections. I can't believe that it's all here. My rising sign is Sagittarius, which is ruled by Jupiter, Jove, . . . Jehovah . . . Jah.
"Father, Son and Holy Spirit . . . the alpha and the omega . . . . as it was in the beginning, is Now, and ever shall be. World without end, amen, ah men!
Was it Voltaire that said, "It is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born once."
"God is dead - Neitze
Neitze is dead - God"
This is what she wrote:
The apple (computer), which caused Adam (atom) to split from the garden, rots - nearing the eve (Eve) of destruction. The sun (Son) touched the world (whirled) a little more (moor) each day, due to a whole (hole) bevy of problems.
In 1948 (1984), the reformation of the Nation of Israel began the clock, the countdown to extinction. Big Brother predicted in 1984 was prophesied in 1948, oh well, Orwell. Driver's licenses were modified to include, not only a hologram photo but also three other little tools of identification. The magnetic strip seemed simple enough but the barcode, which people had grown accustomed to over the past two decades, now appeared on the back of the ID cards.
Id . . .
. . . and the number of the Beast shall be . . . no man can trade without the mark . . . the number . . . what number?
Man shall not trade without the number, the number of the beast shall be,
. . . Social Security. You have to have a number to do anything . . .
April wrote it all down as it came to her. She remembered about the chips, the microchips that had been placed in each license, were capable of being picked up by satellite transmission. Triangulated from above, watched from below. Three satellites were already in place. And in France, they kept a computer that had so much memory, it could easily maintain a file on each and every person on Earth. For the record, they called it le Bete` or in English . . . the Beast.
When 1992 saw the creation of the European Common Market, April saw the reformation of the Old Roman Empire. Tick . . . tick . . . tick . . . On one hand, there was Kuwait, the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, or the Garden?
On the other end, Greenwich.
First with the binoculars, then with the telescope, then the microscope, You're going the wrong way . . .
The Defiant Ones - Sidney Portier's character stated, " . . . can't blame them for what they don't know."
But with all the cameras in place, how couldn't they know what they were doing. Humans were creating the Perfect World.
Because the microchips weren't always on the person who it was intended for, Research and Development departments around the country secretly worked on other possibilities. Some of the experimental chips went innocuously into the individual during surgery. These subjects hadn't been told, but were monitored for side effects. Strokes tripled
Children under the legal driving age constituted a problem. The law allowed up to the age of five as a grace period to apply for the SS# card. But in malls all over the country, thousands of children were marked. The signs read,
Ear Piercing - free with purchase of earrings.
Just like animals in the wild, their tracking had begun.
Legalize drugs and the gang-bangers have to get jobs. Just say N2O!
Maybe my imagination is a bit over active!
"Maybe it isn't!"