You only think you're ready. Trust me. Nobody's ready for this madness.
First, let's take a deep breath before leaning back and strapping in (and, my, doesn't THAT sound like fun...er...wait, what?) and let me say if you are enjoying this, you might enjoy my new collection, Autumn in the Abyss, too. I mean...Jack Kerouac, or someTHING(s) using his form, make(s) an appearance in the title novelette. Darker stuff, but bound to literary influences. You'll see...
Okay, now that you've checked the book and fallen in love with the Sexy Beast on the cover and ordered a copy, allow me to intruduce you to...The TRUE Great Old Ones!
Yeah, when in Vegas--Holy Shit! Is that...?
[lifts the cosmic veil. Oh, yes, yes...it IS!]
The main event, a cavalcade of Marilyns stomping across the stage, each one made to pout and prance and eventually end up above a grate that shot hot air into their nether regions, lifting their dresses to panty revealing height, much to the delight of the ogling eyes of those in the audience, as well as the so-called judges, a collection of bottom tier celebrities, no names and nameless, forgettable sorts who gained fame hosting this or that game show, acting on this or that demoralizing “reality” show—really, nothing real there, try these drugs, they will show you things to make your pubes straighten—essentially filling space in the ever obese celebrity fifteen minutes of fame warehouse, was hosted by Mr. Warhol who understood the value of nothing and so made nothing his goal. Talent, who needs talent? We’ve got faces and bodies and desperation on display and wouldn’t you like to be a star? And what if they saw what I saw on these drugs, star-bodied creatures, fish-eyed with twinkling intent and who knows what purpose? Observing this chow line to Hell, Nietzsche’s edict made concrete, the abyss not only looking back but laughing at us—humans--for the folly of our deteriorating existence, I felt the fear escalate; or was that disgust? I mean, could we not expend a little compassion in this commemoration, instead of making it an extended sales pitch to 21st Century Fox and NASA, “Here, here’s your new star, she’s Marilyn incarnate. Eat her soul as well. Make her a star, or send her to one…”
Pathetic I say, but my take on it would be more succinct: place a bed on the stage and make all of the Marilyns strike a death pose, clothing optional...except for the Marilyn I saw with the Disney-inspired anomalies.
What was I doing here? People watching again, that was always the point of it all anyway, watching the natives stumble like drunken giraffes, flirtations bandied like bad sitcoms, a paradox if ever there was one: the mere format zeroed in on the lowest common denominator; and worse yet, watching the ugly make connections that should short out the electricity in every neon sign in Vegas if their copulating culminated in procreation but no, procreation was not their goal and so, if any sperm won the battle and invaded the egg, I was sure a morning after pill or a clothes hanger three months later would scrape the evidence away.
People were my business. That and drugs. Business was plentiful in this obscene parade of demoralized wannabe stars. Stars, like what the yigs always made me see.
My attorney seemed particularly giddy this evening. As we awaited the event’s commencement, we grabbed a table with “Reserved for Josh Brande” posted on it--Brande’s claim to fame: former game show host, hidden video victim caught with his pants down in a most unflattering situation, culminating in a CD release of sappy love songs, his feeble warbling seeming more appealing to weasels than humans--and scribbled our names on it instead, blacking out Brande’s name, only to be accosted by Brande and causing a scene in having him escorted away for impersonating himself: “That’s the man, the imposter: Brande is in Hawaii, we have his itinerary here”—waving my notepad about as if any information within would verify anything passing from my lips—“and the police have been looking for him ever since.”
My attorney, giggling now: “And be sure he gets the full treatment, anal probes and gloved fist inspection, that’s where he keeps his stolen Screen Actors Guild card!”
Brande looked befuddled but it’s probably the best (only) real publicity he (or his imposter?) has had in years.
Our vibrations were shaky, impatient.
“Stop this charade and get to the point!” I yelled, toward the stage, where some preliminary entertainment, as in not really entertaining but filling space, had dragged on for way too long. My attorney handed me a couple of flat green pills that looked like miniature pyramids and said, “Take these. You’ll really like these.”
So, the time had come. I was not about to turn him down, but now it was my time to make a move as well. I may have seemed oblivious, but I was not dim beyond the duty at hand; I had been debriefed about events in motion, I just did not think it would really come down to me—where was LeGrasse?
I stopped a long-legged waitress in full gallop with a “Whoa, darlin’,” and set the table for our defense: in defense of the human race.
“We need two Grande triple shot espressos, double whip, jigger of soy with a pinch of almond and caramel and adrenochrome, and snap to it!” It was a ridiculously unrealistic concoction, but the waitress only giggled and snapped gum, able to walk and chew with a modicum of efficiency.
My attorney grew gruff. “You know how I get around that stuff. It makes me gassy and my brain hurts and…I want to be in control tonight.” But he was already losing it, I could tell. His resistance was already crumbling. The Starlight Circus’ version of Starbucks was geared toward the space crowd, aliens and astro-wannabes of every sort. Starbuckaroos: cosmic coffee for space jockeys, grim grounds that left a black hole in one’s soul. I’m sure this would make him see the truth.
It would make him see the True Great Old Ones.
But I could use some help in my simmering battle, not sure how this was going to pan out and why did the FBI even think I could pull this off?
LeGrasse, my FBI connection, was supposed to run things, but since he was nowhere to be found, it was all up to me, and I only wanted to watch and ingest more drugs, as I had always done. Of course, the FBI’s insistence that they could get me any drug imaginable, without recourse, was incentive enough for my cooperation. But still…where was that fool?
Our waitress slinked up and set our drinks down. I paid her and patted her ass, “For luck,” I said. I was going to need it.
My attorney and I stared into each other’s eyes, searching for something, making a deal, unspoken, but understood. We both knew where we stood: with our asses planted firmly in these too hard chairs as the cavalcade of Marilyns began to prance over the grate, and the hot breath of lust blew warmly onto their straining thighs, moistening their objectives.
After a slight diversion, entranced by the morbid exhibition, I returned my gaze to my attorney’s. He had never broken his. He spoke.
“I will not drink any of this. I cannot drink any of this tonight—”
“Why tonight, my friend? What’s so special about tonight?”
As if playing it off, he said, “Nothing special, I’m just…” but words escaped him. He drooled as the drink, one he had never tasted before, awaited his slithering tongue’s approval. I had to find a way to break his will, to make him drink, to make him see the truth.
To save the human race.
“I’ll make you a deal. I’ll take these pyramid-shaped pills—”
“Nyarlathoteps,” he said.
Nyarlathoteps. Sounded vaguely Egyptian to me; my perceptions were still sharp.
“I’ll take these Nyarlathoteps as long as you drink some of that delicious, mind-altering, hallucinatory liquid magic.”
He shivered as if a chill ran through him. His drool was collecting in his massive belly, dripping further, a waterfall of desire.
As he continued to quiver, his will being broken by the smells and promise of exotic tastes within the cardboard cup, I tried to play it off as if nothing more was in motion, turning to see the most hideous sight imaginable on the stage.
“Shades of J. Edgar Hoover, LeGrasse, what are you doing up there?” But it was obvious what he was doing. LeGrasse, my FBI connection, was wearing a dress and doing his best Marilyn impression, stumbling over stilettos and mortifying myself and all within reasonable viewing distance as the grate blew up his skirt and the stuffing in his white panties--not an FBI registered gun for sure--throbbed with a life of its own.
The groan that passed through the casino was of an eldritch resonance rarely heard.
LeGrasse winked and cooed, “
is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents
for your soul,” puckered, and blew me a kiss, on the house. I ducked, not wanting this sorry fool’s
wayward affections to corrupt my flesh or focus: I knew his soul was already
girdle-squeezed and shrinking with every wobbling stiletto step. Hollywood
I turned back to my attorney, knowing full well that threats without follow-up were worthless. I raised the two Nyarlathoteps to my lips and popped them into my mouth.
My attorney took this as his cue to give in.
“Shit!” he growled, taking the cup and tossing the whole thing down his throat. He smiled and leered and attempted to grab mine as well, but I needed the caffeinated potion in order to counteract all the drugs that came before and direct the hallucination in progress.
We were linked as one, my mind and his, mine in the driver’s seat. His, trembling in the backseat, wishing it were in the trunk.
In our eyes the ceiling opened up, and a universe of stars seemed to align themselves in ways I could never imagine.
“The stars are right, the stars are right,” screamed my attorney.
“Not quite,” I said, smiling as satellites within the star systems neared us.
“What? What is that?” My attorney scooted under the table. Around us, people grumbled at our antics, not understanding the magnitude of what was unfolding within our vision.
The True Great Old Ones ambled into view. My attorney let out a sound drenched in such fear as to demote all previous definitions of the word to obsolescence.
It stumbled from the right side of the sky, the drunken master of dulcet blandness: Dean Martin. From the left, the hideous cyclopean essence of the ebony one: Sammy Davis Jr.
My attorney whimpered with such abandon as to lose all hold on his masquerade, dissolving into a diseased, writhing mound of chum, a squiggly conglomeration of fish heads and tentacles and fins, flaking scales, aged green sea-algae, and serpentine madness.
From dead center, the ultimate in crooning egotism, the Lord of Las Vegas, the Grand Meatball…the dread that is--
“Sinatra!” cried my attorney, falling under His spell. “Sinatra!”
As my attorney thrashed about, whiplash tentacles decapitating enough Marilyns to make this more a Jane Mansfield memorial the audience scattered, miffed.
All that was left was to let it play out. As the concert went on--the celestial serenade--my attorney began to melt, captivated, and yet the spell they cast was the one thing that could deter his quest for world domination.
The stench attained a pungent magnitude that assaulted my nostrils. The percolating eddies of his essence reverted back to their primal form, the first boiling seeds of life that swam in the seas. I doffed my hat in remembrance.
“You gotta clean that up, buddy,” said one of the casino bosses, dressed in a space suit and looking quite orbital, staring bug-eyed at me through his helmet.
“Do you know what I just did? I just saved humanity from an eternity of slavery at the hands of the Lovecraftian version of The Great Old Ones—”
“Yeah, yeah, well, we’re trying to put on a show right now and if you’re not going to at least sit down, I gotta ask you to leave. I mean, there’s a stage full of headless Marilyn Monroes about to do a chorus line and…”
His rambling fell on deaf ears. I should have known better. I was drafted into the role of savior, and what does it get me? Ignorance from the very beings I was meant to save; annoyance from those who I had just rescued from the infinite drudgery of sub-human existence, cowering at the fins of the slobbering Great Old Ones.
I felt myself shudder at the bad choices I had made.
I wanted nothing more to do with this pitiful race.
I looked to the floor and my dead friend—yes, he was my friend, even if his intentions seemed nefarious, even if he probably would have eaten me at some point, he was a better friend than any of these castoffs and dilettantes salivating over the obscene display on the stage to my left. On stage right, the grumbling persisted.
I grabbed a menu and the marker we had used earlier as I stared at the still singing True Great Old Ones—corrupt, deceptive bastards, all--and began to float toward the stage in the skies.
Passing by Sinatra, He winked as did Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.--a momentary flux of blindness that shadowed the whole menagerie in the blackest gulf imaginable. I gave them the single finger salute, the same one I felt inclined to flip toward the confused mob below me, growing smaller as I surged toward the stratosphere, and as insignificant as insects—I wanted to crush them all.
Floating onward, I popped a few more shub-niggaruths, a few yigs, took a drink from the Milky Way, and decided anywhere but this ignorant galaxy was fine by me.
“I hear there are great drugs in the great beyond,” I said.
“That’s true, but rumor has it that it will cost you your humanity,” Sinatra said.
“Humanity,” I laughed. “A cheap price for a good high.”
He curled His brow as if a comet where streaking through it. I held up my hand-scribbled sign, and He laughed, almost as if He understood.
I looked at it and smiled. This choice could be no worse than the one I had foolishly made on Earth.
I was a Man on the Move—rising higher, deeper into the stygian vista, referring to definition #
2, a., in Webster’s Dictionary: “dark and gloomy”—just sick enough to be
“Yog-Sothoth or Bust.”
Well, now that you know the truth...
"The Shadow Over Las Vegas" was way too much fun to write. Hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did having Lovecraft and HST trample through my brain and out my fingers via the keyboard.
Oh, the Josh Brande reference: in my first collection, The Dark is Light Enough For Me, Brande is one of the main characters in the final story, "Things That Crawl (In Hollywood)." Yes, that's the story with the, um...the Mutated, Autononous, Still Living Body Parts of the Stars...and Brande's mutated body part, because of plastic surgery, is his...
Stop! Don't give it all away, John Claude.
Here's Marilyn Monroe, that traitor, getting her groove on with some tentacled audience member, courtesy of artist, Edgar Sandoval. I tell ya, it was a madhouse. A Madhouse!