Of Eons and Stars Part 4: Ivan’s Secret / Angelica’s Thereafter / Another Goblin Plea
“Great show tonight you guys, hope you come through town again!” a local hired for the night yells to Ivan, Nicolas, and the four other band members who now stand in the empty field on Old Hay Flat Road. The field formerly belonged to Farmer Blayne, but locally will henceforth be known as the site of the rockin’-est revival the town of Kingsport has ever seen.
The local drives the final truck leaving the six illuminated only by the headlights of their own running vehicles behind them; Ivan, Nicolas, and the band, Babette, Johnny, Toggles, and Varistor. They watch the truck’s red tail lights dimly drive off into the night as Nicolas stands beside them counting a large wad of cash in his hands.
Each of the band’s members revels in the post-show adrenaline that every performer feels after a successful show. A mutual rush shared in unique ways.
To Ivan, this is a moment of clarity, a moment of true human expression. It is a freedom that one can only feel after facing one’s fears to help an innocent. The crowd does not know what he has done for them. He doesn’t care if they ever do. It is his calling. It is his challenge and he feels the pride of facing it and conquering it.
Ivan Rocket and the Blackness Between the Stars’ drummer, Babbette Betwixt, feels her pulse as she concentrates on it returning to calm. Her experience is focus. The success of the ability to pounce into action and then return to calm. The feeling of complete control of her body.
Dark Johnny, the band’s guitarist lives for the moment. His brain is capable of thought, but why bother? Thought never changed anything. He is awash in the current of life and that is where he wants to be, calculatedly unconscious.
The two wall-of-sound orchestrators are Varistor Transistor and Toggles McGee. Varistor views her role to bring order to the chaos. She looks at the knobs and pots that she turns as holding back the flow of entropy. As the world bends to disorder she bends it back, knowing that eventually everything falls apart, but delights in the puzzle of maintaining it. Toggles’s role in the band is to bring chaos for Varistor to undo and they are both enraptured in their dance of darkness and light, negative and positive. Post-show Varistor feels achievement in another catastrophe averted. Post-show Toggles tends to want beer and a place to lay his head.
They all turn to Nicolas as they notice he’s now on the phone. He is speaking in a language they don’t understand that sounds like a gentler eastern European or a more aggressive romantic. The conversation concludes and Nicolas is obviously surprised as he hangs up the phone followed by an almost unnoticeable leap of excitement.
“The CD is completed and en route to stores. The release party is in Marblehead in one week.” He says gracefully to the quintet before him.
They all take a moment to look at each other in contemplation.
“Did you not hear what I said?” Nicolas asks.
Slowly, Babbette smiles and says, “I knew it!” pumping her fist in the air and then quickly collecting herself.
They all burst out with laughter and smiles as Nicolas watches with his own smile. The smile of a man completing his creation.
The four band members continue hooting and hugging as Ivan collects himself and takes in Nicolas’s demeanor. Ivan feels that Nicolas should be proud and argues with himself not to be weird, ”Nicolas is proud and should be? But, are we partners in all of this or white mice versus a white lab coat?”
“Load up! We have a few more shows to brag about our new success and just a week until we get to spring it on the world. Off you go,” Nicolas says gesturing towards the vehicles.
The band gets in the obsolescent RV and Nicolas into his fancy black Audi. As the band enters the monstrosity on wheels and take their usual spots they hear the muffled rev of the Audi like someone muted a lawnmower with a trumpet mute.
As usual, Varistor takes the driver’s seat with Toggles by her side. She fires up the behemoth as he cracks a tallboy. Johnny takes up a seat at the couch, lights a joint, and searches for the remote for their tiny TV. Babette sits in the swivel chair, back to the driver, to pop on headphones and examine the sound recording of the night’s performance.
Ivan quietly walks to the back room of the RV as Varistor starts their trek. As it is pulling out Ivan closes the door behind him and pulls out his phone from his pocket. He opens an email from Varistor containing a file of the evening’s performance. He plays the recording in reverse, loud on the room speakers as he reaches for a bucket and starts throwing up black ooze into it.
The ooze burns his throat as it comes up and makes a slapping noise at the bottom of the bucket until it acquires enough to attenuate to glops in the sludge-filled bottom.
A gentle hand rests on his shoulder. Ivan feels a little better as he makes eye contact with the face. It is a clown. Greasepaint white face and red nose and hair on an obnoxious hobo style clown suit.
“You did good, kiddo.” The clown says.
“Thanks, Roadie,” Ivan responds as the RV hits the asphalt and drives off into the night.
Angelica steps out of her motel room into the morning sun onto the warmed asphalt of the motor lodge’s expansive parking lot and eyes for the location of her brown beater. She is buzzing with excitement. It’s been a wild few days. Her first byline writing gig, the revival show of Ivan Rocket and the Blackness Between the Stars, two days holdup in a shitty roach motel writing and drinking coffee, and now this. Today is the day. Today she is no longer Miss Whateley. She is Angelica, music journalist extraordinaire. Today her story is published.
She practically skips down to the lobby, grabs a muddy cup of coffee, and steps to the news rack. She looks at the papers. The liberal news one, the conservative news one, the money one, ah yes, The Arkham Music Review. She picks it up and to her astonishment the cover says. “Rock n’ Roll’s New Revival: Ivan Rocket and the Blackness Between the Stars by Angelica Whateley”.
“I got the cover,” she whispers to herself. She tosses two quarters onto the counter and hovers to an empty table by the window.
Not the most creative title, but isn’t pandering to the lowest common denominator part of a journalist’s job? She starts to read but is stopped by the jingle and buzz of her phone. She answers.
“You got the cover,” the voice says over the phone. The voice is August Tierney, Owner-Editor of The Arkham Music Review and Angelica’s boss.
“I got the cover,” Angelica repeats back to him with unmasked satisfaction.
“You did good, Girlie. Ready for another?” August affirmatively asks.
“Yes I am, Mr. Tierney,” she gleefully declares.
“Good. Booky’s sending you the job now. He says. “Keep moving this fast and writing at this quality and you’ll have all the work you want, Girlie. Call me after the show.”
“Thank you,” she acknowledges, hearing the hang-up click halfway through, then a new alert ding from the phone’s speakers.
She opens the email from Booky, Mr. Tierney’s assistant. The email is basic and to the point as they always are. It reads: “Show in Bolton. Prep Goth Band. Down the Drain.”
She taps the screen off and heads to the brown beater, coffee and paper in hand.
~Another Goblin Plea~
In one of the many bars in Midwich, a priest steadies his beer mug in his left hand while trying to aim a dart with his right.
“This is your last chance Father,” an indecorous man says standing behind him.
The priest drops his dart hand and looks at the man with annoyance.
“Are you going to add cheating your vicar to your list of ‘unforgivables’, Jason?” the priest asks.
“No Father Pleasant,” the man says with a childlike huff and waves on the priest to continue.
The feeling in the room is tense as Father Pleasant takes aim. Behind him, his three well-lubricated blue-collar opponents holding beer mugs to their lips waiting for the final throw.
Father Pleasant holds his breath and fires the dart. It goes whizzing across the room making a loud thud as it misses the dartboard entirely, hits the wood paneling, and immediately falls to the floor with an abrupt click.
All are quiet.
The room bursts into laughter.
“Fuck all of you,” Father Pleasant chuckles. “I’ll see you all in Hell.”
He walks over to the bar to find a shot of well-whiskey waiting for him. He slaps down a few bucks, downs the ounce-ish of whiskey, and looks back at his opponents.
“You better be at Sunday Mass with your brutish friends there, Jason,” he says.
“Yes, Sir,” Jason assures him. The baseborn mob goes back to laughing and drinking as Father Pleasant stumbles out the door with a wave to the bartender.
He stumbles out into the street singing ‘Hide and Go Puke’, his favorite punky-oldy to himself, “I’m so drunk I’m laughin’ now, now, now, but I feel so bad, I could die. The red, red sun is coming down, and I see your face up there in the sky!” He ends with an off-tune crescendo echoing through the streets of Midwich.
Luckily this is his parish, these are his people, and his church is right across the street. He stumbles across the small colonial city road with the varied gate only a man that has had 8 pints and 4 shots in a few hours could manage.
He trips up the sidewalk and onto the lawn of Midwich’s own Corpus Christi Church and School. A small church and smaller school, but Father Pleasant was nonetheless proud of it.
Don’t mistake his brash demeanor, Father Pleasant is a devout man deeply in faith with his church and deeply in love with his lord. Admittedly, he took the acts of forgiveness and confession a little far, but after being through what he’d been through in his several lives, he was given a little white-sin leeway. He’d seen too much of the afterlife to believe in all of the unforgiveness for mistakes and binding rules on humanity. He had also seen too much of the afterlife to not believe that God was real and that God loved him and most of all, that God never gives up on you no matter how many times you fuck up. This left Father Pleasant with an attitude of “I will try not to fuck up, and if I do, I will try again to not fuck up tomorrow”, at least for the little things. It’s not like he’s out there breaking the top 10 list.
He passes the front of the church, flounders down the side, and gets to a side door with a tattered screen. He swings it aside, fumbles for his keys and opens the door.
Home finally. He passes the side entryway and into the church’s kitchen where he performs his second ritual of the day, drunkenly making a single man’s dinner of cold leftovers from the congregation and a single Coke. He stacks his bowls, utensils, and beverage in his arms and makes his way out of the kitchen and across the nave.
While walking across the chancel, about halfway at the altar, he realizes that there is a man sitting in the front row pue looking at him.
“Holy fuck!” the priest yells, dropping a fork that tings across the stone-tiled floor.
The man gets up apologetically with an outstretched hand to help.
“I’m sorry, Father, I didn’t mean to startle you. I was lost in thought and I think I musta’ realized at the same moment as you. My name is Buddy,” the large woodsman says to the priest.
“Christ, Buddy. You practically scared the literal crap out of me,” Father Pleasant says with relief.
“You don’t talk like a priest,” Buddy admits.
“Yeah, well, I’m drunk. Normally I’m a little more eloquent,” Father Pleasant responds with irritation, then asks, “How’d you get in here?”
“Sorry, Father, the door was unlocked and the lights were on,” Buddy explains.
Father Pleasant rolls his eyes and sighs, “Damn it, Mrs. Shrewsbury”. He looks back at Buddy and continues, “Yeah sorry she’s… old and forgets things, but a wonderful woman nonetheless. We’re supposed to be closed. What did you need, Buddy?”
“Are you [email protected]?” Buddy asks.
Father Pleasant pauses before he answers. “I was once when I was… shameless, but now it forwards to my new email, which I guess makes me [email protected]… but I must admit it doesn’t have quite the bite of the old one.” He sets down his armfuls of sustenance on the already dressed for tomorrow morning’s mass altar. “Am I going to hate myself for asking why you want to know, Buddy? And please, call me Father Pleasant, just Father, or Cotton, or even Sue… just not that email address. Alright, Buddy?”
“Yes, Father,” Buddy assures him, holding his hat against his chest. “I was gotten in touch with you through an in’ernet friend’s son’s friend, which is not a relationship I’d usually trust n’ all, but I’m hoping it shows you how much I need your help.”
“And what makes you think you need my help? Confession? I’m guessing it’s not youth group?” Father Pleasant asks, eyeing Buddy with suspicion.
“The word is that you help people with,” Buddy pauses, then proceeds, “ya know, weird stuff? Stuff that’s not supposed to be happenin’, like in the real world,” Buddy pauses again, “Weird stuff like paranormal, like ghosts and demons and such.”
“Do you think you’re possessed, Buddy?” Father Pleasant asks through apathy.
“No, I think that goblins are living in a cave on my property,” Buddy responds.
“Oh, thank God,” Father Pleasant sighs, “For a second there I thought you might be dangerous. Now I see you’re just, ya know, a little squirrely. Like needing help… mentally.”
“I assure you, Father, I am not crazy,” Buddy asserts.
“Well, there’s no such thing as goblins, Buddy.”
“I’m guessing that when most priests are told there’s no such thing as God they tell you to read the book,” Buddy argues.
“True, that’s what they would normally say,” Father Pleasant agrees.
“Well, then, let me tell you my story and you decide,” Buddy says as the priest nods in agreement, flopping his drunken body into the pew next to him.
Buddy tells Father Pleasant his story. A story of strange alien children going through his trash and harassing his dogs. A story of chasing them across the field to the wood and the old man. A story of a rich old gay couple coming out to take a look and then writing him off. (For Buddy’s complete story refer to OEAS Part 3)
At the mention of the Professor and Charles, Father Pleasant says, “Alright, you can stop. I’ll come and take a look.”
“Thank you so much, Father,” Buddy says with gratitude, standing up.
“In the morning, Buddy. In the morning,” Father Pleasant groans out.
The men exchange information and part ways with a handshake. Buddy drives off into the night and Father Pleasant falls face-first onto his humble twin bed for the next eight hours.