Hectorly worked as a private detective out of a small office on Wabash, in Chicago's loop, with a window right across from the rusted metal tracks of the elevated train. Double Pane windows and insulated brick walls keep the noise out as the trains scream past. The room was ill-lit, one small grey, industrial looking steel lamp on his desk. On the floor was a mint green indoor/outdoor carpeting with numerous black cigarette burns and various unidentifiable stains of most colors. The off-white paint job stained beige with nicotine smoke added even less luster to the already dingy flat.
Someone kept smoking cigars in the bathroom that he shared with a group of freelance writers next door who wrote porno about children for children, and the stench filled his office. He hated it, and was chain-smoking Marlboro's in the hope of defeating the odor. He had tried room deoderizing sprays, incense, candles... One day he had the thought that his deoderizer had been more than defeated -- it had actually been consumed by the cigar smoke and shit out into something nasty. That's when he decided to start fighting smoke with smoke, lighting one up whenever the smell got bad... he wasn't used to smoking more than three or four a day, and ratcheting his smoking up to twenty, sometimes thirty, during his work day was giving him a sticky, hacking cough, though he was glad to exchange that for the naseua from the cigars. He isn't sure why one smoke would cancel out another, just that it worked. Everyone told him it wouldn't work, and tended to claim it didn't even after he carefully explained that it did. This was pissing him off to no fucking end.
At 2:38 pm, a famous face walked into the office, stopped midway into the room, pulled a paper face mask out of his fany-pak, which was elaborated drapped with red strings and decorated with obscure, religous looking symbols, and explained, "Sorry, you see... it's cool tht you smoke, because you're a HP Weon. Normally, I don't allow people to face with me who ... smoke. But, you know, I am happy to talk to you... as soon as one of the ... assitants... bring my oxygen tank up from the limos. One of them will explain the rest. I'll wait outside in the Big Breathy. That's Scamatomolgy speak, in case you're wondering. My assistant will brief you."
The assistant came in, an earnest looking young man in an expensive blue suit with a pearl grey tie and a shiny black shirt. "Mr. Smooze's religion demands, when leaving the Big Breathy, that he wear a Scamoto Oxy Devicotron - an oxygen tank, to you... that's the way we talk. Intriged?"
"No... I'm thinking about kicking your ass. . . but I ain't got nobody at this point who will bail me out... so I think you better wait outside."
"You're a Higher Power Weon. I have to do what you ask."
"Call me that again, the ass kicking goes up a notch or two. I'll break bones, man."
"No, that's a good thing to be... that's why Mr. Toadmouth Smooze the First will be Facing with you in... let me check the now." He pauses and makes a handmotion in front of a camera on his belt, and someone evidently speaks to him...
"in... 25 seconds. You are High Power Weon, you're surely wondering why? Right?"
"You are asking for an ass kicking... every word you say, boy... translates into something else I want to kick your ass over... you really should shut up."
"A PWW is the high, high of the five... The five, man! Mr S. will explain what that is. Stay Enhanced... Five seconds to arrival. Thank you for your time."
The assistant rushed out of the room before Hectorly could make good on his threat, which he had fully intended to do. The veins inside his forehead are pounding. It feels to him like his anger is pulsing through them. Hectorly was raised a proto-marxist by his union president mother, and even though he had come to think he knew better, he still found his first impulse was to consider anyone with money part of the problem; this combined in his mind with the weird way the actor had just approached him and how much he despised cults in general and was pushing up his blood pressure something fierce, which his doctor had warned him against repeatedly after his last heart attack.
Hectorly had watched the man go from childstar, to teen in treatment, to a popular front-man for the latest Hollywood cult to target uneducated, narcissistic actors... and become a recent star of a string of a series of movies very loosely based on the television show I SPY... minus the cartoony aspects, and the black guy became an evil spy... which striped the story down to two men going mano mano with advanced spy technology. Hectorly had seen the preview and had hated, truly, truly hated, to see a great idea from sullied first by the movie, and then the association with a cult... a cult wanting the movie to make money was enough to keep him away from the flick. He had read how the religion was out buying up tickets to increase the ticket take of the movie and make it appear more successul than it was -- after all, they figured, what's good for Smooze, is good for Scamatomology.
The star came back into the room with a sleak, black enamelled oxygen tank attached to his belt and running a line up to a clear plastic mask that covered all of his mouth and one eye.
"Oh, Jesus, I'm afraid to ask... and yet, I know I have to.. why does your eye need oxygen?"
"It's religious device that can only be Comprendo'd by certain people who know... secrets."
"You start talking to me about... your fucking secrets, and I will cap your ass. I'm just crazy that way. Ask my momma... no, that's right, you can't... because I killed the bitch when she started trying to shove her religion down my throat."
"Uh, excuse me?"
"You have a problem with me killing my mother?"
"Not while I need your Servy Wersies. That's ..."
"Some language you made up to linguistically trap people in a language of your choosing, with your set of assumed truths?"
"Hey, let's talk english, here. Your a Brainy Brain, aren't you? We can work on that. When I say Servy Wersies, it means I have a Usey for you. That makes you, in this circumstance... My Higher Power Weon. Not socially or anything... though you can always have some assistants for whatever. You get famous, though, and boy... we got your parties, and the favors... we'll plant a field of your favorite wheat. That's popular with our Celebes."
You said there's some kind of test? No...
"Oh. Shit, I hate tests. I had to take one once. Boy, did I get my mom to fire that tutor's ass. We banned his ass from the set and he cried like one of my assistant's who I've stripped down in front of a bunch of my friends and made dance around if they want to keep their goddamn jobs."
"You did that?"
"Enough times it got boring. I made some of them put bottles up their asses. Tom Cruise gets bored and makes his assistants fight to the death. I think it's because he likes to fuck the corpses in the these holes he drills into their skulls, but he says it isn't just that... who knows? Those Alpha Seven Romeos, they do as they please. They get beards that are color coordinated insidey and outsidey, as we say. Intrigued?"
"You didn't come here to discuss that crusty but hair, did you?"
"I love talking crusty but hairs!!"
"That was a joke."
"I keep a lock of crusty but hair in a golden locket that I keep on a chain around my neck, next to my heart, at all times."
"I meant that Smooze is a crusty but hair."
"Oh, he wishes. Sure, sure... he does. Have you heard that rumour that Katie is a getting a sex change? It's just a rumour. He'll sue anyone who repeats it without hard core evidence. I mean, you could learn secrets about stuff like this... after a few courses."
"NO. Whose hairs are those in your locket?"
"Oh, just various ones that I took off my used enema collection. Intrigued?"
"Oh, hell no... Do you have a reason for being here, besides getting me so pissed off that I have no recourse except to kill you?"
Proceed to part two... if you wanta.
"Yes.... Oh, yes... that's why you're a Higher Power Weon, a HPW... You have something I Needy. Someone has stolen my red ruby and diamond encrusted, one of kind designer but plug. This was concieved by Andy Warhol, originally, then Pollack did the actual work of shaping the wood and putting in the bumpy, humpy jewels. Oh, god, I miss it."
"You read the sign on the door that says No But Plug Related Jobs. You think I put that up there for my health, asshole?" Hectorly lit a cigarette, took in a big drag and then blew smoke out across the room, filling the space with undulating white tendrils.
"I thought you would make an exception, for me..."
"Yes, right. People make exceptions for you all the time, don't they? I mean, you're rich and famous, so why wouldn't everyone treat you like your shit doesn't stink."
"Well, that's just the way it is. And I have been told from a good source, the chick who changes my diapers, that she likes the smell... so there, Smarty Pants Negative. I didn't make the rules. The religion says that about your behavior, not you... we know how to change your behavior."
"I'll bet you do. You start doing anything that even looks like you are trying to change my behavior, and I will kill you, your family, and everyone in your fucking blackberry."
"That would take awhile."
"I am sure it would be my pleasure to kill your nutty cult freinds... or at least it would be good for the world. They put most scam artists in jail... you guys found a hook... believe your own scam. The last sane one was probably the writer of Dianetics -- about ten years before he wrote the book and disappeared onto his yacht with those young boys."
"They were assistants. Everyone keeps enough to run a fucking yacht, come on. Well, business people... and some other people, who you could learn about..."
"You what? I've had enough... in fact, way more than enough... "
He opened the lower drawer of his desk and pulled out an electric meat carver, turned it on and jumped across the desk, grabbing the moviestar by the throat. "I am going to have to cut your neck veins. Don't worry, it won't hurt?"
"Oh, hell no."
opywrite 2006 john scott ridgway