Thursday, May 29, 2008
Detective Neptune in "Christ, the Screaming Avenger" III
CHAPTER THREE: BOWLING FOR JESUS
He ran out of the side alley onto a wider road: he was heading west by northwest on Pacific Avenue. Choking and crying, He fell to His knees and sobbed. A small pickup truck swerved and missed Him. He struggled toward the curb, climbed up, staggered across the sidewalk and grabbed a chain link fence. Pulling His body up the fence link by link, His metal Golgotha, He lifted His feet above the weed-choked cement walkway. Turning His back to the fence, He scaled upwards like a snake, His arms twisting behind Him as He rose skyward. No one looked at Him. No one saw Him. The cars buzzed along, pedestrians hustled past, but no one turned their head: just another freak doing something freaky. His face locked in a grimace, He continued his climb.
Up He rose, eight feet, ten, above the sidewalk, into Light that came from on High, the pure whiteness of Perfect Light! The Body, the God, the Sun Door! “No,” He screamed! “No! No! No!” His face smeared with sweat and dirt, His eyes aflame, He wrenched His hands out of the chain and fell to earth, the malign indifference of concrete shattering His left ankle. “No!” He screamed again as He hobbled up Neilson Way, running and stumbling and gasping…tears ran along His cheeks like the last sad river of broken love at the End of Time.
Marie, homeless, hapless & hopeless and even drunker than usual, all cracked and desolate in the afternoon sunshine, gained enough focus to look up see Him running toward her. ‘Isn’t that’…she thought. “Hey, Preacher, what’s your hurry? Save me, baby…” she warbled, dropping her pipe, wiping the spit off her chin. “Ha the fuckin’ ha!” He ran at her, stopped just in front of her and reared back on His heels, then lunged forward and grabbed her neck, flinging her against a low brick wall until she was bent backward, her feet kicking out, a human rag doll. “Hey, ow, what the fuck…” sputtered Marie. “Ow…stop it, asshole!”
He pulled her head up, held it in front of His and bellowed: “Wake up! End the Dream! End it! End it! Wake up! Wake up!”
“Wake up?” answered Marie. “You wake up, asshole--hey, what the...!”
He looked into her and hissed: He tossed her again, more violently this time, backwards she crashed, her body doubling like paper as it fell behind the wall. She landed on her neck with her face going north and her torso facing south. Marie was no more.
He cocked His head to one side, raised His hands to the sky, screamed the primal scream of the damned, then turned and ran and ran and ran.
I waited for my conch for what seemed like two minutes and seventeen seconds, until a young officer with a nervous tic embedded in his scalp approached.
“They want you at the front desk,” he blubbered.
“What about my shellphone?” I asked.
“Front desk,” was his witty rejoinder. He smelled like a thirteen year-old boy at a summer camp for bad cheese. I followed his trail to the front. When I arrived I looked up at the desk officer and nearly shat out my spleen: it was Hades, God of the Underworld, my brother and one of the last, great petty bastards.
He spoke: “Will you excuse us?” I said “Sure.” He said, “Not you.” I said, “So then I won’t excuse you.” He wasn’t sure if I was joking with him, which was fine with me. I wasn’t sure either. Officer Cheese Ass left the room. I found myself alone with my brother. "Listen," I began, "I needed a shower for crying..."
“What the fuck, Neppy?” he interrupted.
“What the fuck indeed, Haddy,” I replied. “Why are you here?”
He pointed to a series of television monitors on a rear wall. There I could look into the various holding cells and observe all those who were detained inside. I must say, I kind of liked sneaking a peek at everyone. I imagined myself getting a little take-out, maybe an ice chest with a twelve pack, setting up a beach chair and settling in for a long viewing…people in jail. I mean, someone would start doing something awful soon enough. I had to stop thinking like that.
“What do you see here?” asked Haddy.
“I’ll ask the questions, here punk,” I responded.
“Isn’t it “here, punk” and not “here punk?”
“I’ll worry about the punctuation here, punk…wait, you’re right.” I have a way with my brother, a way that makes him instantly tired.
“Look at the monitors—who do you see?”
I peered at the rows and rows of screens. “I see men in jail, hard men, soft men, crinkly men, Mercury, various losers on the edge of nowhere, Vulcan, society’s disposables, Zeus…hey wait a minute. I know some of these people. Dionysus? He changed his name to Jim Bacchus, had a sweet career drinking Hollywood dry. What’s he doing here?”
Hades bade me look at a second row of monitors: the ladies. Hera, Athena, Megan from Whole Foods, Demeter, Diana, Serena from Peet's Coffee, Venus—they were all there. What in God’s name…
“Exactly,” said my brother. “Look again.”
Holy shit! Krishna, Kali, Ganesh, Coyote, Hanuman, Dick Clark, Garuda, Shiva—ooh, Maya…
Hades pointed to another row of monitors, and then another row of monitors until I turned to him and said, “Enough with the monitors! I see Osiris and Isis and Toth and Wotan and Eagle and Fox and Regis! What does all of this mean?”
My brother shook his head—well, he didn’t really shake it, he kind of swept it sideways and then looked at me with that Guardian of the Dead look and said, “You have to find out.”
Well, good! Now I knew what my job was! Every deity known to humanity was now locked up in a jail in Los Angeles, though it wasn’t really a jail and Los Angeles isn’t really Los Angeles. Clarification: many years ago some enterprising movie producers needed a stunt double for Los Angeles for a really nasty disaster sequence in a film. Turns out everyone loved the stunt double so much they didn’t ask Los Angeles to come back, and no one ever noticed the switch. L.A. is rumored to have moved to Morongo Valley.
It was time for me to take command here: I looked at all the monitors, I looked back at my brother, then I looked at the floor for a little bit, then I looked over at a set of car keys on his desk, then I looked back at my brother, but he was looking at the floor, so I looked back at the car keys, and he looked over at the monitors, so I stood in front of the monitors so he would look at me, but he was now looking down at his desk, so I crawled onto his desk and lay with my back on it and stared right up at him: bingo! I caught his eyes. “Can we get something to eat?” I asked.
And then I thought: All of the gods in the world had been summoned, but by whom? And why? We gods are a troublesome lot, and many of us took it personally when our stock began to fall lo those many years ago, and we became mere shadows and dog names. I vowed to get to the bottom of these gods, which was an unfortunate vow, but not unfortunate enough to make me skip dinner. Dinner, I thought, was a sure thing. Hades looked like he had cash. I was going to spend it like there was no tomorrow, which was true at the time because it was still what I technically refer to as "today." But that was then. I mean, then it was now, but not any more.
Man, I'm hungry.
The sky was purple and pink and sandy red, and seemed to touch the land with regret. He turned up Pico as the sun vanished behind the coastal foothills, a last exhale before the coming darkness.
Up ahead, on His right, stood Pico Lanes, a popular spot for bowlers, being that it's a bowling alley. I'll give bowlers' one thing--no, wait, I won't. Anyway, a Youth Christian Group had rented out half the alley, and laughter and providence exploded down the lanes, and pins rolled with righteous clamor, and crosses upon crosses were filled in with their spares, their strikes, their tawdry little gutter balls. He pressed His face against the glass entrance and His eyes grew large. Two young girls going outside to smoke swung the door suddenly, and in He fell into the mad sounds of pins crashing, pin ball games doinking, children yelling. It was loud. Bowling alley loud.
Lisa Kopinsky rolled her nine pound ball down the lane, crossing her fingers and praying to Jesus to make the pins fall down. Reverend Beesdan looked about the lanes and smiled: children of the Lord rejoicing in simple play! Aaron Toolin and Enrique Alvarez pumped quarters into the Claw Game, and squealed and yelled and protested.
Friday night at Pico Lanes, and soon the black lights would come on, and the balls would glow in luminescent colors, and rock music would fill their ears.
He heard the prayers, the callings. He spied the Children and the Good Reverend Beesdan. His eyes filled with tears; He stepped down to the lower level, and strode to the center lane, and walked as if on water to the center of the middle lane, some feet toward the pins, and then He slowly turned around. The black lights were born: the bowling balls became a mad carnival of colors, a vibrant jungle in a disco ball of light, and the music pulsed and the pins were the crashing of atoms and everywhere the Light and the Flashing and He walked unto the Lanes and strike upon strike and squeals of joy and He lifted His arms and The Sun Door began to open and only blackness poured forth. He paused, then found the world again: He spied a child in a t-shirt, and on the t-shirt was God on the Cross, and He screamed, “No! No!” and the pins were flying and the lights were lightning and storms in Hell and brimstone and poison and screams, screams, screams! “Wake up! Wake up!" He yelled above the din, above everything. "Wake up! This dream must end!”
The Los Angeles Times reported the tragic event as follows: apparently a gas line was the cause of a bizarre fire at the Pico Lanes, with most of the casualties occurring when the Friday night crowd panicked and bolted for the entrance doors as fire bellowed throught the lanes. An emergency triage had been established in the parking lot: bodies were covered with sheets, paramedics were working feverishly on tiny human forms, these broken marionettes, the children of laughter, the last hurrah of a dying world. The good Reverend stood in the lot and fell to his knees, his hands bleeding from the two fresh wounds above his wrists. His eyes were white fire, and then he was no more.
The night was the First Night: Two more to follow. Two more to go.
TUNE IN FOR CHAPTER FOUR OF DETECTIVE NEPTUNE IN “CHRIST, THE SCREAMING AVENGER”
Later tonight: LAZY SUSAN IS THE MACK!
Author's note: DSL troubles precluded me from posting last night and earlier today. Lo siento, lo siento...