William A Pusey, click here
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The following is a novel-in-progress about a man who is forced into a deal with the devil and the aftermath.
Charlie Jobson woke up from one of his reoccuring dreams of drowning. Out of habit he reached over to Andrea's side of the bed. Expecting to touch the warm body of his loving wife Charlie was jolted fully awake when all he felt was a cold mattress. Then Charlie remembered. Andrea had been dead for six months. He wondered how long it would take for it to sink in that she was gone.
Charlie got out of bed and walked over to the sliding glass door. He opened the door and stepped out onto the outside deck. He sat down in one of the deck chairs and looked out to the Malibu beachline. Charlie liked to look out to the ocean. It always brought a feeling of peace to him, a feeling that he lacked most of his life. That's why he bought the Malibu beachhouse. Plus being at one time one of the hottest screenwriters in Hollywood gave him the luxury to afford such a place. Today the beach was mostly empty except for a few surfers out to catch some early morning waves. Charlie was surprisied at how rested he felt, what with the booze and smack bender he'd been on and the drowning dream. He thought, but you know there are worse dreams than that one, Charlie boy.
Charlie pressed that thought from his mind as he went back inside. He figured to get himself cleaned up and find out what day it was. The last he remembered was starting the bender around Thanksgiving time. It was his first without Andrea and he couldn't take it so he drank and shot himself up into oblivion.
Charlie didn't notice the suitcase sitting by the foot of the bed until he came back into his room after his shower. He didn't remember taking the suitcase out but he rarely remembered what he did during one of his binges. He knelt down and opened the suitcase. Inside were several changes of clothes and his toiletries. There was also a road atlas of all fifty states. He took the atlas out and opened it. The first page was a map of the continental Unites States. There was a circle drawn around Malibu and a line that went across the map until it came to a stop at Charlie's home state of Delaware. There was another circle drawn around Charlie's old hometown of Clarkston. Written in the margin next to the map was "Dec. 13". Charlie recongized the writing as his own.
Charlie thought, now this is bad. you're buying road maps and packing for trips and you don't remember doing any of that.
Out loud he said, "Delaware? I haven't been back there since Mom's funeral. There's no way I'm going back to Clarkston, especially on the Thirteenth." It was on that day over twenty years ago when Charlie's life changed, for better or for worse.
Charlie put the atlas back in the suitcase. As he closed the suitcase back up he found himself shaking his head and saying, "no." over and over. He thought, get a grip. It's the combination of Andrea's death and the years of substance abuse. You've finally snapped. Just get dressed, try to eat something and then we can take the suitcase and drive to the nearest detox clinic. Or better yet, a mental hospital.
Charlie stood up. He knew there was more to it than the substance abuse and the grief over his wife's death. He held his right hand up to his face. He half-expected to see the mark on his palm. Though it wasn't visible now, Charlie knew it was there, just biding its time. Like the being that placed it on him. The mark was proof that what happened that night actually did occur and that the boy with the crazy eyes was what he claimed to be.
Once again Charlie pressed the memories of the past away even though he knew they would return. They always did, no matter how stoned or drunk he got. There was no way to blot out the past. The best he could do was not think about it. Closing his mind off to something unpleasant was something that Charlie was good at. He was doing that long before that night. After that night it almost became a necessity to keep from losing his mind. After he became the toast of Hollywood, the drinking and the drugs started to aid in the memory dulling.
Charlie got dressed and made himself some breakfast. He was surprised how hungry he was. Usually after coming down from a bender he didn't have much of an appetite and it was a struggle to keep down what little he ate but not this time. After he ate he went into the living room and turned the television on to the twenty-four hour news network. There he saw it was the last day of November so he hadn't been out of it for too long. He saw that he hadn't missed much while he was out of it. The world's inhabitants were still plodding down their suicidal path of self-destruction with wars and bombings in the Middle East to strikes and riots throughout the major cities in Europe to plauge and famine in Africa. There was a report about odd weather patterns that gave cities like Moscow and Toronto record high temperatures for this time of year while Jerusalem was having a blizzard. After the weather report there was a report on a phenomenon happening throughout Mexico and Latin America where blood was seeping out of statues of Jesus, Mary, and various saints and the record crowds who flocked to see the statues. The largest gathering was in Rio at the foot of the famous statue of Jesus that overlooked the city.
As Charlie watched the reports on the statues, he felt a burning in his rigt hand. He wasn't surprised when he looked down and saw the hourglass-shaped mark in the palm of his hand. The lower part of the hourglass was almost completely black. Charlie knew what it meant when th lower part was all the way black. Time's up.
Charlie said, "Oh no, the suitcase." That was the reason why he was packed up for a trip. He was supposed to go back to Clarkston so a certain someone can collect his debt.
Charlie thought, His Satanic Majesty might be requesting me to return to the scene of the crime but Ol' Scratch can go piss up a rope. If the bastard wants me, he'll have to come get me.
The next news report dealt with a series of celebrity murders. The first murder took place on Thanksgiving when security guards at the estate of Steven Greenwald, founder and CEO of Microcom, the world's third biggest computer softwear company, saw a tall man in a white suit fleeing the estate grounds. The guards found Steven Greenwald's mutilated body nailed to the ceiling of his bedroom. The next and most recent murders occured just last night at the infamous Cobra Club on the Sunset Strip. Former teen heartthrob turned quirky indie actor Neil Collins and Wilhelm Berlin, the cross-dressing frontman for the glam-shock band Bella D'Ball, were sitting at a table when they were approched by what witnesses described as a "tall white male in a white suit with platinum-blonde hair and piercing blue eyes". The man pulled out a automatic pistol and gunned the actor and the singer down in a hail of bullets.
When a sketch of the suspect and a picture taken from a surveillance camera from the Greenwald estate came on the screen, Charlie felt his stomach lurch. He had seen the killer before. The first time was when he was visiting Andrea in the hospital. He was walking past a waiting room when he felt a cold chill. He looked into the waiting room and saw a tall man in a white suit sitting in one of the chairs. His blue eyes looked at Charlie with a burning hate. Charlie would have dismissed the guy a just a kook but there was an otherwordly feeling about the man, something that Charlie knew about.
The other time Charlie saw the man was a couple days after Andrea's funeral. Charlie was sitting on the deck, half-drunk and still in the suit he wore at the funeral, when he saw the tall man in the white suit standing on the beach. Charlie got up from the deckchair and yelled, "Get away from my house, you psycho bastard!"
He staggered across the deck towards the wooden steps that lead down to the beach. He nearly lost his footing a couple times on the steps. By the time he got down to the beach the man was gone. That was the last that Charlie saw of the man. Until now.
Charlie got up from the couch and walked back into his bedroom. He thought, okay, There's a guy going around killing famous people and he knows where you live. It might be a good idea to clear out.
He opened the suitcase and took out the road atlas. He threw the road atlas to the floor. "But we're not going to Clarkston. Anywhere but there."
He went through the suitcase and saw that the black bag in which he keeps his works wasn't in the suitcase. He went into the walk-in closet and opened the wall safe. He took out the black bag and all the money that was in the safe. He saw that all the small plastic baggies were empty so he'd have to go over to Punch's to load up on supplies before he left.
Charlie walked out to the garage. He passed the Porsche and the BMW and stopped at his pride and joy; a blue 1974 Plymouth Duster. It was a replica of Charlie's first car. The Duster carried him across the country from Delaware to L.A. and he kept it long after making his first million. When the Duster finally bit the dust, so to speak, Charlie had the new one built. Andrea never understood Charlie's love of the car. She thought it was an eyesore but to Charlie it was a reminder of the past. Something good.
Charlie got in the car and it wasn't long before he was on Highway 101. Just outside of Ventura, Charlie turned off the highway and drove up a winding road on a hill. At the end of the road was a gate. Charlie rolled down his window and reached out towards an intercom pannel to buzz in. After he pressed a button a voice came over the intercom. "Who is it?"
"It's Charlie Jobson."
"Hey, bro, long time no see. How you doing?"
"I'm hanging in there."
"I'll let Punch know you here. See you in a few." The gate opened and Charlie followed the driveway up to the mansion on top of the hill. He parked in front of the front door and got out. As he walked up to the front door it opened and a large black man with a shaved head stepped outside. The man smiled at Charlie and said, "It's good to see you."
"Hi, Monk. How are you?"
"I can't complain. Punch is waiting for you."
Charlie followed Monk inside. For all the years Charlie knew Monk he didn't know if Monk was a nickname or his real name. All he knew was that Monk used to be Punch's sparring partner back when Punch was a pro boxer. Now Monk was Punch's bodyguard and in charge of the mansion's security. Charlie looked over to his left at the television room as they walked past. Sitting in front of the plasma screen television watching the cartoon channel were Punch's regulars. They were a combination of children of Hollywood's elite and kids who came from the Midwest looking to become famous but ended up on a path of drugs, porn, and prostitution with an occasional faded actor or musician thrown into the mix though Charlie didn't see anyone he recognized this time around.
Sitting on the couch in their usual places were Winken, Blinken, and Nod, as Charlie came to think of them as. They were three young men with shoulder-length dark hair who wore black jeans and black t-shirts that featured logos of various Heavy Metal bands. The three of them look so much alike to Charlie that he wondered if they were triplets. Whenever he came over to Punch's he would see the three of them on the couch with their eyes closed and the chins on their chests like three versions of the dormouse at the Mad Hatter's tea party. If it wasn't for the occasional change in t-shirt Charlie would believe that the three of them stayed on Punch's couch 24/7.
As they passed the television room, Charlie thought, they're a real collection of the damned. And you're just like them so don't think you're better than them. You'll probably end up in there with them, staring zombie-like at the screen, watching Scooby-Doo re-runs.
Maybe he wouldn't end up like them if the mark on his hand was correct. Despite his denials he knew that time was running out and it would soon be time to pay for the deal he made. He might dodge the fate of the has-beens and never-weres that were gathered in the television room but it was probably going to be worse where he finally ends up. He thought, yeah, instead of Scooby-Doo re-runs on the television, there will only be Pauly Shore movies.
Charlie laughed out loud. Monk looked back at him and asked, "Is everything okay?"
"Never mind me, Monk. I think I'm just having a nervous breakdown."
"I understand. I lost my mama to cancer six years ago. I know what you're going through."
Charlie thought, Sorry, Monk my man, but you don't have the slightest clue about what I'm going through right now.
"Sorry about your mother."
"Thank, bro. Sorry about your wife."
"Hey, cancer happens."
"Nothing. Just a little joke Andrea always said."
Even after all this time Charlie marveled at how upbeat Andrea stayed during that time. She would always make jokes, right up into the end. But that was the way she was. She knew how to break Charlie out of one of his dark moods with a joke or a smile. And she always stood by him, even through the creative dry spell and the drugs. She never made an ultimatums even though he knew she wanted him to stop using.
Andrea was the strong one in the relationship and you were the weak one. Face it, Charlie, you're a selfish whiner who never grew up. You constantly blamed shit on other people or fate or God or Satan. Your weakness probably lead to you being chosen. Did you ever once think about anyone else but yourself?
Charlie and Monk came to a stop in front of a pair of doors. Monk knocked on the doors and said, "Yo, Punch. Charlie's here." He looked over at Charlie and said, "I got to go. I'll see you around. Take care." He walked back down the hall.
The doors swung open and standing in the doorway was Gino "Punch" Pontrelli. Punch loomed three inches over Charlie's six-three and was well over the three-hundred pound mark. When he was younger Punch was once ranked in the top twenty of heavyweight boxers though some would credit that more to the influence of Punch's uncle Sal, a bigwig in the L.A. crime scene. Before Punch could get a shot at one of the numerous heavyweight titles, a neurosurgeon informed Punch that he had taken too many blows to the head and just one more could cause permenant brain damage or even death so Punch got out of the boxing business and into the family business with Uncle Sal. Like his uncle, Punch lived and dressed lavishly. He wore bright shirts and diamond-encrusted watches and pinkie rings. Punch smiled at Charlie and said, "Great to see you." He took Charlie's hand in a bone-crunching grip and shook it vigorously.
"How have you been, Punch?"
"I'm fine. Come on in."
Charlie followed Punch into his room. The room was like a large hotel suite. He had his own office, living room, bedroom, and bathroom. Punch spent most of his time in his room and only a select few were allowed in. Charlie was one of those. Hanging on the walls of the room were memorabilia from Punch's boxing days. There were pictures of Punch in the ring and pictures from the covers of boxing magazines and pictures of Punch with other famous fighters. When Charlie and Punch went into Punch's office, Charlie saw the picture hanging on the wall behind the desk. "You moved the picture of you with Ali from out of your bedroom?"
Punch sat down behind the desk. He looked over at the picture and said, "I did. It doesn't seem to impress the girls like it once did. 'Hey, want to see a picture of me hanging out with Muhammad Ali? It's in the bedroom'. I don't think girls these days know who he is."
Charlie sat down in the chair across the desk from Punch. "It wouldn't surprise me if the girls you're into didn't know Muhammad Ali, You always liked your girls a little bit on the young side."
Punch smiled. "You know me all too well, my friend." The smile faded. "You've been holding up okay, with Andrea and everything?"
"I'm doing the best I can. I guess that's all I can do. I'm thinking about leaving California for a while. I'm not sure yet where I'm going. I might drive around the country, just to clear my head. Plus I'm a little freaked out by the shootings at the Cobra Club."
"Shit, man, I know. Neil and Willie were two of my biggest clients and some freak wacks them for no reason."
"I think I've seen the shooter around my place." He told Punch about the times he saw the stranger.
Punch said, "You should have told me someone was bothering you. I could have had Monk call his homies in Compton and Crenshaw to keep an eye on things for you and if worse came to worse I could always call Uncle Sal."
"I didn't know the guy was a killer until today." Plus Charlie didn't think his Malibu neighbors would be too keen on seeing a bunch of Bloods or Uncle Sal's Goodfellas hanging around the neighborhood.
"I don't like this. Two of my friends get iced and a third's been stalked. I'm going to call Uncle Sal. Where are you planning to go?"
"I'm not sure yet."
"Why don't you stay here for a while. It's probably the safest place in the world. No psycho can get to you here."
Charlie thought about it. He didn't have anyplace to go right now. "Okay, I'll stay if it isn't going to be any trouble."
"Of course it won't be any trouble. You're a friend. You're one of the few people I trust. Most of the people who buy from me would rob me blind and slit my throat if it weren't for Monk and my uncle. Do you think I trust any of those leeches out there watching the television? I have a good eye for people. I think I have a little bit of Gypsy blood from my mother, God rest her soul. I can always tell who to trust and who to keep at arm's length. In this business you need something like that because you never can tell who's going to rip you off or who's working for the feds or a rival dealer out to steal your action. I always had a good feeling about you. I could tell that you have a good soul."
Charlie though, me, a good soul? That's a laugh. You don't have a soul, Charlie. At least not any more. Would Punch feel that way if he knew about the deal you made or if he could see the mark in your palm. Of course someone like Punch would think that like you. Only a drug dealer with mob ties would think you're any good.
Monk walked cautiously towards the front door where he could hear the door bell ringing. It began ringing non-stop a couple minutes ago while Monk was checking on things in the security room. No one had buzzed in at the front gate since Charlie came by an hour ago. Monk check the security cameras but all of them were on the fritz. Monk picked up the phone but there was no dial tone. Monk didn't like it. He thought it was either the feds making a raid or a hit squad sent by enemies of Punch and his uncle but why would they use the door bell. Wouldn't they just knock down the door and smash through the windows?
As Monk reached for the doorknob, the doorbell stopped ringing. Monk strained to hear for any sounds coming from outside but heard nothing. The doorknob was ice cold to Monk's touch. As he turned the knob, Monk reached down with his other hand to the butt of the pistol tucked inside his shirt. The feel of the gun brought Monk a little bit of comfort.
Monk almost let out a scream when he saw the man standing in the doorway. The man was around seven feet tall and everything about him was white; White suit. White Hair. Pale skin. The only thing of color about him were his eyes. They were such a translucent shade of blue that Monk wondered if the man was wearing some type of contact lense. There was something about those eyes that made Monk feel like the man was looking right into his soul and Monk didn't like that feeling. Not wanting to let the man know how much he startled him and knowing that nothing unnerves a white person more than an angry brother, Monk put on his best Ice Cube scowl and snapped, "What the fuck you want, fool?"
The man said in an eerily calm voice, "We are here for Charles Jobson."
Monk though, Shit, Charlie, you must have really pissed someone off if they sent big boy here after you. "Look, homie, this is private property so I have every right to stomp the shit out of you for tresspassing but I'm feeling generous today so I'll give you one chance for you to get your ass to stepping."
There was a more determined tone in the man's voice when he once again said, "We are here for Charles Jobson."
Monk pulled out his pistol and pointed at the man. "Are you deaf or stupid? I told you to get the fuck out of here. There ain't no Charles Jobson here and there ain't not Sarah Conner here either. And don't tell me that you'll be back because you won't be. Now I want your Jehovah's Witness wannabe ass to take a hike because I'm done talking to you, you dumbass mother-."
Monk felt a pain hit his stomach and he lost his breath. He looked down and saw a knife in his stomach. His last thought was, Damn, he stuck me and I didn't even see him pull the knife. The fucker's quick.
Monk fell to the floor. The man looked down at Monk's body and said, "That will teach you to denigrate the name of the Lord." He stepped over the body and entered the mansion. He looked over his shoulder and said, "Brother Caleb, Brother Joshua, come."
Two men who looked exactly like the first man entered the mansion. The second man in, Brother Joshua, looked around the mansion and sniffed the air. He said, "The stench of corruption in this place rivals that of Sodom."
Brother Caleb smiled and said, "Those were the days. Remember when I turned Lot's wife into a pilar of salt?"
"It served the bitch right. She was warned not to look back. Damn, it's good to be back in the smiting in the name of the Lord business again."
The first man, Brother Ezekiel, said, "Enough with the chit-chat. We have a mission to fulfill." He reached into his suit jacket and took out an Uzi. He turned and walked down the hall.
Brother Caleb and Brother Joshua took out their Uzis and followed Brother Ezekiel. Brother Caleb whispered to Brother Joshua, "Man, Brother Ezekiel is a real buzzkiller. I wish Jehovah sent Brother Gabriel down with us instead."
"I know. Gabe always took his missions seriously but at least he made things fun."
The three of them came to a stop in the doorway of the television room and looked in on the group that sat in front of the television. They were so entranced by the hi-jinks of Tom and Jerry that they didn't notice the three men until the plasma screen was riddled with bullets from Brother Ezekiel's Uzi. Everyone turned to see who shot the television. Even Charlie's Winken, Blinken, and Nod, who were awaken from their stupor by the shots.
Brother Ezekiel smiled at them and yelled, "Brothers and sister, I have good news for you all! Your redemption has come at last!" The three brought up their Uzis and fired into the room.
Reader Reviews for
"Night Journey(Chapter 1)"
William A Pusey