From Aural Innovations #23 (April 2003)
Sometimes you have to burn the candle at both ends. Play one end against the other. Watch them flicker, dart and dance. Watch them slowly advance toward each other. Watch them close in. Not knowing what will happen when they finally meet. Which end will justify the means. And which will get snuffed out.
The cards had all been dealt. The useless cards disposed of - their replacements diligently dealt. The counters had all been tallied and tossed into the pot. The bluffs had all been made. The players all ready to be exposed for what they really were. Ready to cross that fine line that separates the saints from the sinners. The strong from the weak. It was now time to see what fate had in store and what markers it still held in its hand.
Suspect walked over to join me at 1945. I produce an envelope from the inside of my trench coat and serve him the papers.
"Michael Moorcock knew I'd be here tonight. There's a message from him at the end of this document."
Lemmy took the envelope and tucked it under his wing. I leaned in close, talking low so the crowd gathering on the sidewalk wouldn't overhear me.
"Be sure to read it quickly after removing it from the envelope. It's one of those bashful messages."
Lemmy squinted drawing his pupils to finely chiselled points as if he had just discovered a file someone had left for him inside his birthday cake.
"Fades in sunlight?"
"Uh-huh. And don't strike a match too close to it either!"
"Explosive stuff, eh?"
"Flash paper. One spark will set it off."
"Mike's getting paranoid. Why all the precautions?"
"Saves on empty calories. You don't have to eat it. Leaves no traces. No message. No finger prints. No DNA. And no postage stamp if hand delivered. Nothing. Nada. Just the memes.
Lemmy shook his head, rolling his addled irises like anime tiddlywinks sloshing around inside twin sawed-off shot glasses at low tide.
"Did Ya get my report?"
"Yeah." He was giving my disguise a good going over at very close range. Even his warts were scanning me. Ferreting out the ley lines of truth hidden beneath the social facade.
"Did it strike ya as funny?"
"Yeah. And the report was a riot, too!"
"Ah..." I puzzled over his remark. "Uh-huh, that's how it struck me. Funny." I glanced over my shoulder at the faces behind me, then back to Lemmy. "Looks like you're about to get worked over." I wavered and started to fade backwards - slowly. "I better turn you over to the mob before they get ugly."
Lemmy slipped me a bemused Jack Benny look. Composed himself. Then shot me a quick Bob Hope thanks-for-the-memories look as the mob swarmed him with CDs, cameras, papers and pens. He resurfaced occasionally for breaths of fresh air as cameras flashed shots of him posing with his fans while he made rude hand gestures. Ironically, these gestures seemed to be pointed in my general direction. The mob cheered him on. Not wishing to disappoint and to give them exactly what they wanted - I was treated to several more encore hand gestures. I wondered if he had snuck a peek at Michael Moorcock's message.
A white truck stopped just behind Lemmy. The driver did a double-take when he noticed who's standing a few feet away from him. "Hi Lemmy!"
Lemmy's head swivelled around like an owl targeting a field mouse. "HI," he growled menacingly, leering at his prey. The driver was stunned. His mouth gapping, just sitting there not sure what to do next. Traffic forced to him to drive off and experience an age old adage first hand - IF YOU CRUISE - YOU LOOSE!
Lemmy's head swivelled back around. Eyes darting left and right searching for the next lucky victim. Waiting for them to make the first move. It was like watching a western movie where the ominous black clad stranger comes to town - but instead of running, hiding, and diving into the nearest pickle barrel - the townsfolk rush him before he has a chance to get away and make him sheriff.
Suspect departed from the mob scene and crossed the street at 1957. He slipped Michael Moorcock's message from the envelope, reading it as he headed east into China Town. A roadie was walking shotgun at his side. They mingled with the local populous. Absorbed by the random pedestrian parade, they just disappeared. Just like John Dillinger and Jack Ruby in 1963.
A throat cleared next to me.
"So Moorcock keeps in touch... that's nice to know."
I turn toward the croaking gate. He's just an average looking gent. An average of six foot and five foot. An average of young and old. An average of Irish and Maltese - Italian. Yeah, someone who could easily blend in with the crowd and never be noticed.
He arched an eyebrow as he blew a gentle stream of air across the drying signatures Lemmy had scrawled on a stack of Motörhead Cd's. He reminded me of a gunslinger blowing smoke from the barrel of his six-gun after slapping leather.
"I was hoping to spot him at Powell's Books a few months ago but he never showed."
"Cancelled. Unforeseen circumstances beyond his control."
"So they say."
"They usually do."
"I can think of someone else who won't be turning up tonight."
I shrugged and waited for enlightenment.
"Larry Hurwitz, the former owner of this juice joint when it was called Starry Night. You know where he is now, don't you?"
The Italian gent nodded. "Lots of time."
"I hear they never found body."
"They still nailed him for his involvement in the murder. Word on the street is - he also arranged the bombing of Savmor Grub grocery. You know the one... used to sit next to the Satyricon. Mysteriously blown to bits. Turned into an instant parking lot."
"They certainly are nosey, aren't they?"
Silence. He drilled holes through me with steely, cobalt blue, ice pick eyes.
"I saw Hawkwind a decade ago. They played at one of Larry's other establishments." He pointed to a building a block away at a corner bordering the parking lot on the north side of NW Couch Street. "It was right over there."
"They sure put on one hell of a show that night!"
"They usually do."
"Almost as if their lives depended on it."
Yeah, I remembered it well. All too well. It was 1990. Thursday December 19th to be exact. A bone chilling blizzard had the city in a stranglehold. It had us all holed up at NW 6th and Davis in Old Town at a small dinner club called the Day for Night.
Hawkwind's tour bus was idling at the curb releasing a warm fog of exhaust along the sidewalk. It was about the only thing keeping us warm.
Dave Brock looked vexed. "You don't seriously plan to cancel our show?"
Mr. Night just nodded absently like he really didn't care.
"Maybe we can work something out."
I reached for the bulge inside my coat and withdrew a little extra heat. It barked once vomiting a blinding tongue of flame. Mr. Night stepped backwards. Then spun violently downward like a grounded sugarplum fairy. He landed in a contorted heap in the drifting snow. His flight cancelled.
Doug Buckley rushed out of the club. "Was that gunfire?"
I pocketed the piece. "Naw, backfire."
"You shot him!"
I grilled Doug with a frosty Dry ice stare. "I don't know about you, but my little friend here is getting mighty hungry. I bet it's real cosy back inside, ain't it?"
He nodded numbly. "Out of the blizzard and back in the heat."
"Smart kid. That's what I like to hear. Someone that knows what's good for him."
Doug glanced at Dave, "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm okay. I've handled his type before. All bluster and no bite."
"Listen kid, Lemme give ya a little word to the wise... try their spaghetti. Nothing beats Italian."
Doug mumbled something to himself as he retreated to the warmth of the club. I reappraised the body sprawled across winter's frigid canvas. A swarm of white crystals rippled away from it leaving wraithlike serpentine patterns. It looked as if his soul was staggering away in search of a gutter to crawl down to sleep off an intensely intoxicating incarnation. It was a real work of art - the embodiment of Rene Magritte.
"That's how they make snow angels in Chicago."
Dave looked disgusted and shook his head. "Shouldn't do that."
"Nobody. And I mean NOBODY cancels a gig on Mad Dog Mantee."
I flashed Dave a sardonic smile. "Got any empty cupboards, Mother Hubbard? The stiff's in it for the long haul."
"What are you planning to do now?"
"Just keep a close eye on things. Ya know, it kinda looks like you're back in business, don't it?. We better get him out of that drift before he catches his death of cold."
"Missed? How could you?"
I grinned. "How else? Practice. Lotsa practice."
I drew my gun. Released the clip and tossed it to Dave. He caught it and stared in amazement. "BLANKS? You're shooting blanks? But he'll think that--"
"I'm countin' on it. What he don't know won't hurt him. Let him think the worse. Won't hurt my feeling any. Our little secret, okay?"
"He must have slipped and knocked himself out."
"Or fainted with excitement. I hear Frank Sinatra used to wield that kinda power over people." I chuckled. "Ya don't think he was pushed, do ya?"
Dave shook his head. "You need a new hobby."
I laughed. "Heh... heh... heh. Yeah, like what?"
"Where's the pleasure in that?"
"Carry the camera in your shoulder holster."
"Sounds kinda lame to me."
"They're going to be looking for you."
I drew my lips back from my teeth and snarled. "Let 'em."
"You'll have to change your name and ditch the Mad Dog moniker."
"Yeah, and change it to what? Lakeside Pervert?"
Dave just grinned.
"Okay, spill it, pal."
"Bloody Hell, I'd be mistaken for a bleeding mermaid!"
"After this storm lets up--"
"Don't you worry about me. I'll blow long before it does. After that yer all free to go. Keep yer lips buttoned till then and everything will be just swell, see."
Dave's eyes sharpened. I could hear the gears turning in his head. Clickety-click. They were turning faster and faster. I pulled a spanner from my pocket - a fresh clip. A clip with much more bite than bark. "Before you get any bright ideas, hero..." I slammed the clip home, "I got a gig to cover. So move it, pal!"
His eyes followed the motion of the muzzle. And damned if those gears weren't still turning inside his head. Clickety-click, clickety-click, clickety-fuckin'-click. As he helped Mr. Night stagger back into the club his eyes narrowed and a faint smile began to spread across his pan. He was planning something. Planning something special for tonight's show at this little gin joint. Yeah, he was no pushover. He was one of those smart guys - a real shrewd cookie. I'd have to keep a very close eye on him. It was anyone's guess what would happen next.
I'm a mad dog, baby
Howlin' at the moon
Sniffin' the scent of change
Yeah, I'm sure it's comin' soon
I'm a mad dog, baby
Howlin' at the moon
Crossin' an arid dune
Devotion is solid
If the heart doesn't roam
Trapped beneath this bubble
Of a geodesic dome
I can remember feelin'
Alone with you
Remember what you said
Guess it went straight
To my head
I'm a mad dog, baby
Howlin' at the moon
Sniffin' the scent of change
Yeah, I'm sure it's comin' soon
I'm a mad dog, baby
Howlin' at the moon
Crossin' an arid dune
I backed up and leaned against the gatepost of the Roseland's parking lot. I had time to kill before I made my move. Contacts to make. I was waiting on a few more pieces to fall into place.
A rat pack of low-life Joes rounded the corner and took up a position at the other gatepost. They were street kids that reminded me of the gutsy East End Kids. They were needling the dreary, middle-aged, parking lot security man. He was trying to get them to leave and they were flippin' him some heavy doses of sass and savvy.
"Move on, you can't stand there."
"Oh, yeah? Ya don't own the sidewalk, the public does - and that's us! We ain't leavin' and there's nuthin' ya can do about it, rent-a-copper."
I chuckled. One of the gang broke off. He swaggered up the sidewalk and joined me at the east gatepost. He looked twenty-something. A Leo Gorcey wannabee with a dark-felt Jughead hat perched on the back of his head at a jaunty angle.
The Little Tough Guy smiled. "Gotta cig?"
"Naw, all out."
He frowned, thought a bit, and mugged. "Hey, wanna hear a good one?"
"Alright. Go for it."
"Who'd win in a dustup between Lemmy and God?"
"I've heard this before. It's a trick question."
"LEMMY IS GOD!" He raised his eyebrows, washing the creases from his forehead, and politely asked, "could ya put me on the guest list?"
"Naw," I sighed, "'fraid not. You'd have to go through the Road Manager. I'm just glad I got a ticket."
He laughed. "That's a good one - ya hadda get a ticket." Pause. "Yer playing tonight, aint'cha?"
"Me? Naw, I ain't playin' tonight."
His jaw sagged. "Yer not?"
"If I played, there'd be a stampede - everyone'd bug out."
He stammered, "Yer kiddin' me, right?"
I shrugged. "Maybe. Maybe not."
He smirked, "Can't blame a mug for tryin'. If youse change yer mind, ya know where ta find me. Thanks anyway." He faded backwards a couple steps. "Hey," he thumbed his nose, struck a boxer's pose and feigned a few pantomime punches and jabs against a nonexistent opponent, "knock 'em dead."
I nodded, winked, and spotted him two bits. He pocketed the silver Sex Pistol and rejoined his mates. They huddled, slapped hands and wandered north toward the bus depot. Probably on their way to the local pool hall to raise enough money for a fistful of Motörhead tickets.
Mr. Security heaved a heavy sigh. Somewhere in Old Town, God and Cascadian eyes were smiling. I moved closer to the tour bus and leaned against the west gatepost. The tour bus was right at the curb across from me. One by one the remaining Motörhead bandmembers filtered out of the Roseland on their way to the bus. Mikkey Dee and Phil Campbell. Each attracting a flock of fans. Each hearing the praises of their musical prowess as they autographed Motörhead memorabilia.
With Lemmy out wandering the streets on Michael Moorcock's red herring scavenger hunt - the dressing room was now temporarily vacant. Unattended. Opportunity was knocking. "Hey, Action Man, I knew I'd find you lurking about."
I recognized the pleasant nasal voice even before I turned to look at him. John Peugh, rock-n-roll roadie and chef extraordinare. He sported long dark hair and a goatee trimmed in a hippie meets hipster style.
"I'd like you to meet someone... this is Doug."
Doug was a large, well muscled man. His features were Dutch. His head was shaved down to the dome. Doug was a skinhead. We shook hands.
"Shall we go in the front door?" I asked John.
He shook his head. "No. They have metal detectors there."
"Metal detectors? When did they start this?"
"Are they're worried we'll hijack the building and crash it into an airplane?"
John's eyes darted back and forth in confusion.
"I'm open for suggestions."
"Backdoor. You could bend a few minds."
I produced a fin and concentrated on Lemmy's portrait. "How's this?"
John shook his head. "You look ill. Like you got jaundice."
"It's the pigment in my blood - envy. It'll pass."
John frowned. "Something's missing. You need a bit more charm."
A pair of slinky asian beauties joined us.
John smiled, "I think you got it now."
"Good. Gather around. Shield me from view until we get to the door... then follow my lead and just play along."
Security was checking everyones' passes at the backdoor.
I emerged from our small group and leered. "Ate mine!"
"Lemmy? Back so soon?"
I approached the door and heard him address the next person.
I spun around on my heels. "They're with me."
"They are? Where are their passes?"
"You're looking at them." I drew my lips back from my teeth and chuckled ominously.
"Oh, yes, of course. Sorry. Go right ahead."
We quickly filed in through the backdoor and up the hallway by the stairs. I told John I'd meet him later on upstairs. I had some unfinished business to attend. He led the rest of the group up into the main concert room while I continued on ahead.
I found Lemmy's Metal briefcase in the main dressing room. It was hidden behind a chair. It was light-grey in colour and was plastered with a wild assortment of stickers. This gave it character. A unique identity. An identity that just couldn't be duplicated. That couldn't be substituted with a ringer.
The briefcase was thick, heavy and looked indestructible. It also looked very ominous. Like it was - not of this Earth. What was in it? What secrets did it hold? There was only one way to find out and know for sure.
I lifted the lid. There was a hell of a lot of green inside. I wasn't sure what else I was gonna find. But I was pretty sure it wouldn't involve a yellow submarine. It didn't. Instead, it involved a manilla envelope, a carton of Marlboros, and an issue of Playboy. All floating in a sea of green - bundles of Lemmys - crisp Cascadian five-dollar bills.
I removed a bundle and fanned it. The serial numbers danced like images in one of those handcranked kinetoscopes in the penny arcades. It was a silent movie of incrementing numbers. Consecutive numbers. A fresh deck of cards - hot off the press.
I peeled a fin from my wallet and one from the bundle and compared them side by side. Other than the serial numbers they could have been twins. I swapped mine for the new one and returned the bundle to the stack.
I removed the Playboy and fanned through it. Nothing was hidden between the pages. Nothing fell out of it except the centrefold. I scrutinized the babe on the page and shook my head. No, she had absolutely nothing to hide either. I returned the Playboy and removed the manilla envelope. The Marlboros were sealed, so I left them alone. The envelope wasn't. It was fair game. It contained photographs and two floppy disks.
The photographs were of two types. Black and white glossies of monuments and computer generated digital scans. The subjects were Mount Rushmore, Chief Crazy Horse, and the Statue of Liberty. The digital scans differed only slightly in subtle ways from the regular tourist photographs. Almost undiscernible, but upon closer inspection a common thread revealed itself. They all featured a very familiar face - Lemmy's. Lemmy Liberty. Abraham Lemmy. And Chief Lemmy Horse.
The Crazy Horse alteration was the least subtle. Instead of riding majestically astride his stallion with outstretched hand pointing confidently toward the horizon - he was defiantly flipping the bird at his oppressors to the east. Probably the Europeans. Most likely the French. It's what we referred to around Old Town as - The French Resistance. It was spontaneously invented by a visually dyslexic tour guide along the banks of the Seine during rush hour.
I returned the photographs to the envelope. That's when I smelled a strange odour and noticed the fog. Not to mention the howling sound accompanying them. It was all escaping from the gaping mouth of the metal case. The case was booby trapped! Static crackling and bursts of ball lightning strobed and darted as cellophane bats swooped down real low dropping their plasma discharges. The room quickly turned into a German impressionist's neon nightmare. The case cackled, crackled, flickered, and howled like Bernard Herrmann's theremin impersonating a Geiger counter. Buzzing like it was full of monstrous mosquitoes. Glowing like demonic fireflies taking flight - paroled from Hell after ballot measure 28 got shot down. Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi would have felt right at home. I didn't. This wasn't a classic Universal horror picture. It all spelt nothing but trouble starting with the capitol "OH, SHIT!"
I flung the envelope inside the case and slammed its lid shut. I was hoping the projectionist hadn't swapped the second reel on me. The image skipping around the film sprockets of my mind's eye derailed, bubbled, and melted like blistering grease paint. A pool of darkness welled up. It filled the room. There was a momentary silence... followed by a sickening thud.
I stumbled forward and took a dive.
Darkness washed over me and took up permanent residence.
"I told you before, it's a dead end!"
A black hole opened up beneath me. Its surface rippled like a disturbed devil's punchbowl. I tumbled end over end clawing at empty space, plunging toward oblivion. Its surface reflected a gigantic multiplex image of Lemmy - rippling and splintering off into a recursive armada of Lemmy-faced amoebas. A psi tape loop Babbled over and over inside my mind, "It's a dead end... a dead end... a dead end...."
The punchbowl's surface shattered as I crashed through it. Darkness and a deadly silence rushed in consuming everything around me. There are no stars. There are no planets. There was nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nothing but a vast void - the void of Space!
Time is cold. Time is harsh. Time folds in on itself like a fist, till it can hold itself no longer. Until finally it relaxes its grip. Unfurling. Blooming. And melting. Time releases its sentient seeds - SECONDS. Precious seconds. Germinating seconds. Sprouting seconds. Second thoughts and second chances.
I was lying in a vast field of these seconds. I had lost track of time. Misplaced it like a set of car keys. They say an idle mind soon discovers that time is a slippery concept. It is a prison of our own construction - and only we are the wardens of our edge of time.
Okay Action Man, you're a tough guy. Let's see ya do something really tuff, like lift your head up off the carpet.
I tried to lift it, but someone had filled it with sawdust and silver marbles. My trench coat hissed at me like an London Fog adder. My suit sprung a leak dispensing a long, endless stream of sawdust. It drifted off into space. Forming swirling galaxies. The Milky Way. And the cobwebs of creation. Spiders swayed in these webs, laughing at me in their high violin case voices. They wanted to know whose side I was on. I told them I was on my side. They laughed even louder. They wanted to know if Moorcock was involved. I said I didn't know who they were talking about. They suggested I would remember more if I reflected harder on the question. Coppish? I reflected harder but told them less. They offered me another chance to come clean. I told them I didn't launder as easily as souvenir currency.
They didn't like how I'd come out in the wash. So they took turns slapping my profile around with all eight of their limbs. It was like a tag-team assault. Scripted by Philip K. Dick and Lester Dent on acid against Franz Kafka and William S. Burroughs going cold turkey. Whoever or whatever was behind all this, one thing was certain - they weren't using your garden variety sodium pentothal. It was a special designer blend - Chateau Noir. It was numbing and unnerving. It was as numbing as being bound, blindfolded, and spoon fed endless questions and answers by Donald Rumsfeld while his shadow cronies worked you over - off camera.
The void soon returned, slithering like a gigantic black boa. It opened its massive jaws, exposing a bottomless inkwell of darkness. It lunged at me, swallowing me up whole - constricting me in its slippery silence.
The silence was timeless. It was devoid of meaning. It was devoid of substance. It was devoid of the stuff that dreams are made of. It was the bleakness of betrayal. It was death through redemption. It was the pure essence of noir.
Now it was time to do something really tough. Something I'd failed to accomplish before. I peeled myself from the floor. I was unsteady and slow as I got up and searched the room. My body was still trying to shake off the effects of the drug in my system. There was no real need to rush. No real need to hurry. That mysterious metal case had flown. It'd taken a powder after dusting me off.
I found nothing substantial so I staggered from the room and followed the throbbing aural trail. It led me down that old familiar hallway and up those trusty flight of stairs that ended next to the main stage on the second floor. The buffer zone waited in front of me stocked with several idling security personnel. Beyond their barrier loomed the war zone - the audience. It didn't get any better than this. Only worse. Much worse.
Alright, Action Man, now you're going to do something really tough... like join the mob for the complete Motörhead set - without a pair of silencers in yer ears.
My mind was in a state of quivering applesauce as I was swallowed up by the harried hoard. There was no turning back now. It was a desperate act of aural suicide and I knew it. I waltzed between a rock and a hard place. Between Motörhead's instruments of mass destruction and their adoring fans. This was as extreme as giving an ant the brush with a sledgehammer. Total overkill.
John Peugh's voice found me in the crowd. "What kept you?"
"Somebody tried to savagely split my infinitive."
"Too early to tell. Ask me again after Motörhead finish playing. Then call the city morgue."
"What have I missed so far?"
"Brand New Sin, Today Is The Day, and Morbid Angel."
"Sounds like most of the evening."
"Maybe I should get a drink. It might clear my head."
He grinned and pointed. "You're too Late, looks like they're about to start."
Suspect moved across the stage at 2330. Mikkey Dee settled in behind his drum kit. Phil Campbell took up a position on the left side of the stage. The whole theater erupted in a deafening roar - cheers.
Suspect's eyes survey the crowd, sweeping back and forth suspiciously. His grim expression warned of danger. It seemed to say, "Better take cover, 'cause we're hittin' the ground running...."
The band launched into "WE ARE Motörhead." A delirious dish, partially hidden by the stacks behind Phil, started jumping up and down - boogieing to the music. Her blonde hair was cut in a short mopish pixie style. She was wearing a black Motörhead t-shirt and a very short, black mini skirt. She looked like Tinker Bell's naughty big sister sans wings and magic wand.
There was no need to spread any additional magic - Motörhead was dispensing it all. Dispensing it in juggernaut doses - airlifted overhead - effortlessly carpet bombing the mob with hit after bloody hit. And still the mob screamed for more! And they were never disappointed as wave after wave came crashing in on them in an onslaught of pure blitz. A churning maelstrom of Motörhead mayhem swept over the headbanging battlefield. Classics, covers, and tributes thundered and rolled on and on... NO CLASS. BOMBER. CIVIL WAR. DAMAGED CASE. LOVE FOR SALE. GOD SAVE THE QUEEN. BRAVE NEW WORLD. METROPOLIS. NOTHING UP MY SLEEVE. DR ROCK. RAMONES...
The mob shouldered their comrades, lifting them up from the gullies and foxholes. Passing them along to the front lines. Offering them up to their generals.
Phil watched as body after body were raised up as sacrifices and pitched over the security barrier. He stood up on his tiptoes to see where the victims had landed and if they had survived their fall. He glanced over to a couple of roadies hiding between the stacks behind him, motioning with his head toward the front lines as if to say "Did you just see that?"
Lemmy looked concerned and spoke directly to those still standing in the mosh pit.
"You know, you can get hurt doing that... might land on your neck." He paused to let his words sink in before adding, "I wouldn't be doing that... but you're you and I'm me." He smiled ironically and launched into... BORN TO RAISE HELL. SHOOT YOU IN THE BACK.
SACRIFICE took its course. Mikkey cut loose with a drum solo as Lemmy and Phil walked off the stage. Mikkey's arms flailed over the surface of the skins surrounding him. They blurred and transformed into hydra-armed octopus tentacles grasping drumsticks. The room filled with relentless rapid fire rhythm and palpitating pedal arrhythmia.
Mikkey dropped back into the SACRIFICE groove as Lemmy and Phil returned. Cigs dangling from their lips trailing smoke like Northern Pacific locomotives crossing the Rockies. The lights dimmed and shifted spectrum. Lemmy's face was draped in a ghoulish gremlin-green as he sang ORGASMATRON.
The mob chill 'n' grind to the rhythm of his words.
When the song ended, Lemmy growled. "Do you want to rock?"
Silence. The mob was awe struck.
Lemmy grimaced and snarled "Say yes!"
Lemmy prodded. "Are you ready?"
Lemmy leered threateningly, "Say yes."
Lemmy smiled triumphantly, "Good. That's better!"
The theater rumbled as if it were... GOING TO BRAZIL. And then it was KILLED BY DEATH. Lemmy warned the mob, "This is going to be our last song tonight - UNLESS you REALLY make a LOT of NOISE!" He glared, daring the mod to remain silent this time.
Mikkey stood up behind his drum kit, waving his arms frantically, encouraging the stupefied mob to cheer loudly. He sat back down before Lemmy had a chance to spot him giving the mob a hint, a sly wink, and a smile.
The mob roared like the MGM Lion trapped in a tape loop with no gaps between its roars. Motörhead hit them with... IRON FIST. The mob rocked and writhed under its blistering assault. The theater was engulfed in a deafening din of screams and applause by the time the song ended. Lemmy tilted his head, turning it this way and that while his ears sampled the airwaves. He allowed the sound to swirl around inside his aural canals for an agonizingly long time before coming to a conclusion. He turned on his heels and marched off the stage.
Phil and Mikkey followed his lead and fell in step behind him. The mob became frantic, whistling and yelling for them to come back. Begging for just a little more. Their noise grew louder and louder. The theater was quickly engulfed in the thunderous sound of stamping feet and the migraine mantra of "Motörhead! Motörhead! Motörhead!" It sounded like a demolition.
Lemmy, Mikkey, and Phil returned to the stage. Attracted like blind biker moths by the explosive revving of a mantic magic lamp.
"Portland," Lemmy laughed, "you always manage to come through. This next one's a surprise!" He sounded as giddy as an office party Santa handing out Christmas gifts. The mob cheered as... ACE OF SPADES and OVERKILL shook the George Rafters. A dame up in the balcony hung upside down by her legs - topless.
Another dame in the balcony above Phil lifted her black t-shirt, fluttering it up and down rapidly, fanning the flames of desire - flashing bountiful messages of her approval to the band. Letting Motörhead know that they're truly loved here in Cascadia.
Suspect took a bow with his band mates and left the stage at 0100. The Roseland Theater slowly emptied as the mob took to the streets, vanishing into the darkness of its shadows.
Suspect gave me the slip while the human sea parted for his exodus. I prowled the shadows searching for his trail.
I snatched the fertile leaflet from her hand and read the message.
"Centerfold suite. Downtown Portland's premiere destination for erotic lingerie modelling. The finest exotic models await you to bring your Fantasies into Reality and Beyond!"
It certainly wasn't a message from Michael Moorcock. He wasn't a second-story man. And I was sure I wouldn't find him modelling lingerie. It wasn't his style. I glanced up the stairway. It was empty, waiting to be fed. Temptation beckoned gently with soft graceful hands moving as rhythmically as an Indian chemist charming elusive cobra vapours rising up from the murky depths of a test tube. Waiting patiently for that sensuous serrated sniff.
She leaned in closer. "Come on up...." She was dispensing a lethal dose of pheromones. Her aromatherapy was intoxicating and beguiling. But Darwinism wasn't on tonight's menu.
"Some other time, perhaps," I grinned, "I'll hang on to this - for future reference."
Her eyes sparkled like stars going nova. Her lips resealed, inflating quickly in a full mock Jagger pout.
"Satisfaction," she purred, "...is guaranteed!"
A gentle breeze ruffled the thin veils of her dress. They fluttered like a squadron of Luftwaffe butterflies drifting aimlessly through valium skies. She looked like an angel dipped in rich German chocolate. Very tasty. A real treat. Marilyn Monroe tinged in Marlene Dietrich. Certainly not something as plain and simple as an ordinary sunday - cherries were out of season. They were very rare around Third and Burnside at this hour of the night unless perched atop a squad car like a torch singer belting out a siren's doppler wail.
"Couldn't I interest you in anything?" She repositioned her curves and pouted, "anything at all?"
"Only one thing would interest me."
"Ah..." A ship named Hope appeared on the horizon. Her response shifted rapidly from breezy to breathless. "YES..." The bellows beneath her veils swelled like waves crashing on a moonlit beach.
"Motörhead, my sweet. Only Motörhead."
She took a direct hit. Her ship was starting to take on water. It was listing. It was sinking fast. She started to send up her emergency signal flares.
"Are you sure? Isn't there something? Anything at all I could say to change your mind?
"No, I don't think so. Not tonight, doll. Maybe some other time." I turned on my heels and walked away.
Midway up the block, I paused. Listened intently. And hesitated. Something was very wrong with this picture. A sexy dame vying for attention and the suspect was nowhere to be seen. Nowhere to be heard. Nowhere at all where one might expect to find him.
I had a hunch. So I took a deep breath, turned and walked straight through the wall of the building next to me. Straight into another world. Straight into Hell - straight into Dante's.
A short blonde cutie crawled up on top of the bar next to me. She curled her legs beneath her, sitting on them, while chatting with the devilish vixens that gathered around her. They were a staggering assortment of real stunners. They ranged from tall to short. Blonde to brunette. Athletic to skinny. Most were pleasantly endowed with amazing waspish waistlines. And modesty is where they drew the line. They were all dressed to meet the band.
There was a single vertical pole located at the centre of the stage. The stage was lit by bright white lights. A faint hint of fog or cigarette smoke lingered in their beams. Drifting freely with absolutely no intent whatsoever of dispersing.
One by one the vixens next to me left the bar to take turns performing on the stage. They danced around the pole provocatively. Swinging wildly around it. Shimmying up to the ceiling and hanging upside down by their legs while they unfastened their tops. Gravity did the rest - disrobing and showcasing their natural beauty and charm. From here on out it was clothing optional - very primal. Very Hush-hush.
Phil Campbell wandered in around 0215 and vanished into an adjoining cavern. His arrival was shortly followed by Mikkey Dee and a little later by Lemmy. Mikkey sat down at table and watched the dancers. Lemmy wandered over to the bar. If he was surprised to see me, he didn't show it. He ordered a drink and watched me move down the bar next to him.
The impression of a rainstorm caused me to glance back at the stage. A dazzling filtration of light rushed across the stage like glistening squalls of aquamarine tinsel. Waves of light that rippled like the aurora borealis when the two bright spot lights were extinguished. These soft waves were illuminating rainstorms of light. The strippers bathed in the showers of living light. They looked oddly ethereal. Fallen angels bathing in Rome's Trevi fountain. Or in the fountains and pools near the Massabielle Grotto along the north bank of the Gave de Pau in Lourdes on a Saturday night!
I returned my gaze to the mirror hanging over the bar and spoke directly to Lemmy's reflection in the glass.
"It sure wasn't like this the last time I ended up here."
Lemmy smiled proudly. "That's because they knew we were coming!"
I glanced back at the stage and wondered if a chorus line of defrocked angels were going to give Lemmy a twenty-one bum salute. Then again, maybe I was thinking of blackjack.
I shot Lemmy a curious question. "Do ya know an Italian with cobalt eyes?"
"He seemed mighty interested in some personal details."
I removed a disk from my trench coat and laid it on the bar.
"There were two of 'em."
"So I can't count. Let's just call it an insurance policy."
"Which one is this?"
"Ya know, in all the excitement... I never bothered to check. I'd say you got a fifty-fifty chance."
Three nymphs spotted Lemmy at the bar and waved to him.
Lemmy grinned, "Looks more like seventy-five. Twenty-five. My favour!"
"Yeah, lovely." I rolled my eyes. "Nice odds, if you can get 'em."
He tucked the disk into the lining of his lucky hat and shoved it on his head. "This'll keep it safe from preying hands."
"Ya don't say?"
"Just let me know if you locate that other disk."
Lemmy removed a pack of Marlboros and shook a cig half way out of the pack. He held it out to me, offering the first smoke.
He planted the cig in his mouth, produced a Zippo lighter and fanned its flame. He took a long drag until his lungs filled and his face glowed a ruddy amber from the nicotine pyre. His lighter snapped shut with a metallic click and vanished.
"Next time find yourself some other patsy to play decoy."
Lemmy blew a stream of smoke at the ceiling and laughed.
"till the next time we show up."
A dapper demon with bird's nest hair bowed at Lemmy's shoulder. "Excuse me, sir. They found a body."
Lemmy frowned. "Tim Moreau?"
"No, sir. They said it was alive."
"Yes, sir. They said it looked like a shadow - A living shadow. I'm afraid it got away. They lost it in the darkness of the catacombs beneath the theater."
Lemmy dismissed the demon with a wave of his hand and stared down deep into his empty glass. I laid a fin on the bar. It called to the bartender and ordered another drink. Lemmy eyed me suspiciously.
"I like to let my money do the talking." I arched an eyebrow and grinned. "Don't you?"
"You know about 'em?"
"Yeah, I finally figured it out. At first I thought it was all about blackmail and a payoff. But it was just too well staged. Too well orchestrated. Except for one fatal flaw - you left the case unattended. Left it where it could easily be found if someone was really looking."
"What are you looking for?"
"The stuff that dreams are made of."
"You got the wrong guy. Try the Sandman!"
"We've already met. He didn't have the right stuff. What I'm looking for is something to fill in the gaps. Something to complete the picture. Instead all I found were more riddles and things that just didn't add up."
Lemmy shrugged. "I'm no accountant."
"What was making all that Howling? Why was the metal case was so damn thick?"
"The case was soundproof. And all those bundles of Lemmys? They were the source of the howling. Turns out they're Smart Lemmys!"
"Just a novelty."
"Oh no, not just a novelty. Future income."
"Once these babies get into circulation... people will need soundproof wallets. Soundproof purses. Soundproof money belts. And soundproof tills. Nobody makes that kind of stuff. Nobody at all. Presto, you step up to the plate with an instant cottage industry - all thanks to these new Smart Lemmys. And who's sitting pretty on the Motörhead soundproofing patent?"
Lemmy smiled Philosophically. "Ah, but it's the thought that counts. A thought that we'll keep to ourselves - for now, eh?"
I nodded. "For now."
He raised his glass in a toast, "Here's to lady luck," and winked at the group of nymphs.
They gathered around him, linked their arms with his, and ushered him into the game room. I couldn't believe it. Even in Dante's, Lemmy still called all the shots. I definitely needed to hook up with a new agent. Someone besides Siegfried and Roy. Yeah, a real tiger.
The fin chuckled to itself on the bar and started to chat up the foxy fallen angel next to me. It was doing such a good job that I decided to let it ride. One thing was for sure, if these bills did get into circulation, there were going to be a hell of a lot of mattresses lined with Smart Lemmys.
The crowd went wild. Elvis one-dollar bills started lining the edge of the stage. Several lovely Liliths crowded the front of the stage, leaning backwards with their heads resting on the stage floor clutching crisp Elvis bills between their teeth.
The stripper strutted to the edge of the stage blowing kisses to the cheering throng. Crisp bills were stuffed under the stripper's G-string while the stripper removed wiggling bills clamped between clutched Lilith teeth.
Mikkey was laughing hysterically as he staggered from the tables on his way to the stage, doubling over in mirth, unable to contain himself. He bobbed up and down as he laughed and pointed.
I came up alongside him, "I know I've seen her somewhere before."
Mikkey turned and laughed in my face. "Yeah, about an hour ago - on stage!" He pointed beyond the walls of dante's toward the not so distant past.
Hmm, about an hour ago would have been during Motörhead's encore. I glanced over to the adjoining cavern. Lemmy was playing a game of billiards with three scantily clad pool nymphs. That left only one person unaccounted for - Phil Campbell. PHIL CAMPBELL WAS THE CRIMSON DYNAMO! My jaw dropped to the floor. Mikkey laughed all the louder.
I watched the spectacle in stunned amazement and wondered about Motörhead record sales. Was there a correlation between that and Phil moonlighting?
Phil swaggered off the stage with his earnings. An assortment of devilish vixens came out on stage to tempt the crowd. They were all very stunning dishes. Enthusiastic whirling dervishes. But Phil had clearly captured the hearts of the crowd - and a good deal of their cash.
The Crimson Dynamo returned to the stage flanked by two beautiful vixens. One blonde. One brunette. They shared a large white candle and poured hot wax on Phil's exposed flesh. They peeled down the top of his corset, dripping wax on his chest. Then they took turns playfully spanking his bum while the audience cheered them on. Crime doesn't pay. It just gets "HAMMERED".
Phil was going to need an armoured car to haul his booty around in after this. And that would be just to protect himself from the all jealous strippers who didn't get tipped as heavily as he did.
The music, mayhem, and debauchery continued well into the wee hours of the night, ending at 0430. All the loitering souls in Dante's dispersed before daybreak. Before the sleeping city woke to face a new day.
I sat in my car at the west end of the Burnside Bridge, watching the sky lighten before the dawn. I was waiting for the bridge span to lower. I'd lost sight of the tour bus. So much for the tail job. And judging from the colour of the sky it was clear that the suspect had given me the pink slip. Might as well turn in and call it a day.
Lemmy was last seen heading south - toward the southern Cascadian border. Heading south toward the fledgling state of North California.
Computer Scientists in America have created a digital model of the Statue of Liberty. This would serve as the template to rebuild the monument should it become damaged in a future terrorist attack. Computerized three-dimensional drawings were generated from laser scans. These scans have measured its surfaces from all angles to create an exact virtual replica.
Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monuments located in the Black Hills of South Dakota were scanned into three-dimensional images earlier in the year. The American capital was scanned in the days following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Motörhead Goes Topless
Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, bassist and founding member of the British hard rock band Motörhead, reported that his distinctive lucky hat has gone missing. The hybrid pirate and cowboy hat was last seen backstage prior to the band's encore at the Townshend Club in San Francisco, North California. An unspecified reward is being offered for its safe return-- no questions asked.
Pete Townshend could not be reached for comment.
By Neil Rogers with staff and Aural Innovations wire reports.
Motörhead fan club information:
c/o Alan Burridge, 634 Blandford Road, Upton,
Poole, Dorset BH16 5EQ. United Kingdom
Please send SAE (in the UK) or IRC (elsewhere) with all communication.