Lucifer's Last Laugh

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Chapter 4: The Terrorist’s Tale

We gather in Fuji’s office. You look particularly scrumptious in an all black sweater and pants ensemble.

“You two are flying down to L.A. at two p.m.,” Fuji says. “You’ll be met at LAX by Sam Cockle, an old friend of mine, not FBI, big-time movie producer, who is friendly with the Waverley family. He’ll introduce you to Mom and Dad Waverley and you take it from there. How long do you think you’ll need to be there?”

“Hard to say,” I reply. “but I wouldn’t think more than a couple of nights.”

“OK. Go pack and I’ll have a driver take you to SFO.”

Back in my Fairmount suite I toss a few articles of clothing into a suitcase and change into casual L.A. type clothes. Armani slacks, alligator boots and a tight-fitting Givenchy sweater that shows off my piquant pecs and adorable abs. I also hear from Melchom.

“Here’s the skinny so far on Teddy Teawater. She’s a natural born rebel. An anarchist. Hates all forms of civil society mainly because they’re male dominated.”

“Is she a lesbian?”

“No. Like most demons she’s perpetually horny but uses only men for sex. Doesn’t give a rat’s ass about them, though.”

“But she knows she’s a demon?” We don’t always clue demons in, figuring that we can tell them their status whenever we really need their assistance.

“Oh yeah. And she doesn’t like it much. Doesn’t care for the sterility thing. Makes her feel like a mule.”

“Nothing we can do about that.”

“No. Still no word on her current location. But I’ll keep on top of it.”

“Merci, Melchom.”

I find the flight to L.A. irritating. You choose not to sit with me and I find it strange to fly seated inside a mechanical contraption surrounded by sweaty humans. The ventripotent man ewest to me farts and belches throughout the one hour flight leading me consider exercising my Rules of Engagement right to cause him immense bodily harm.

Upon arrival, we are met at the baggage claim area by Sam Cockle, fortyish, with an expensive hair implant and wearing a suit every bit as nice as one of mine.

“Glad to meetcha,” he says enthusiastically shaking our hands with excessive vigor. “Kentoro says you’re good people and I believe everything that damn Jap tells me.” Cockle unleashes a cackle. You and I smile politely.

So this is what a Hollywood producer is like, I reflect. Lucifer, preserve us.

Sam, a Null Three, is actually a pretty nice guy, a real friend to Fuji and a good deal smarter than his boisterous salesman persona suggests. He leads us outside to a waiting limo and we are whisked off to San Marino. In the back of the limo Sam offers us drinks. You decline but I accept a triple Stolichnaya on the rocks with a twist.

“I feel kinda sorry for the Waverleys,” Sam says. “Can you imagine having a big-time terrorist for a son? Jesus, they’ve done nothing but good for their community their whole lives and they get bit in the ass by their own kid.”

“Where does their money come from?” I ask.

“Who the fuck knows? Jim Waverley inherited a fortune from his father who inherited an even larger fortune from his old man. Anyway, they ain’t poor. Probably worth a couple of hundred million give or take a couple of hundred million.”

“So Boola Boola had a privileged upbringing,” you say.

“Christ, don’t call him that, especially not around his mom and dad. I knew Dickie as a kid. Nice boy. Ugly little fuck but you can’t have everything. Privileged? I’d say so. Went to the Harvard School here in L.A.

“Also private tutors. Attended Brown for a couple of years before dropping out to be a full-time Muslim which lasted eighteen months until he converted to Super Christianity and started blowing people up.”

“No clue as to what caused all this?” you ask.

Sam shakes his head. “None. Must have been something he read because as far as anyone can figure out, he’d never even met anyone from Super Christianity before he converted.”

We ride in silence and, under your disapproving glare, I have another triple Stoli. I note that your teeth are as soft as liquid stones poured from an aquamarine vase of solidifying flesh. The limo eventually wends its way through downtown Pasadena and then to San Marino. We pass the Huntington Library and on a nearby block with enormous and attractive mansions, we pull into the Waverley’s driveway.

Their estate is one of the nicest we’ve seen, faux French villa, but tasteful with beautiful gardens surrounding it on all sides. We are met at the front door by James Waverley, a man about Sam’s age. Short and so ugly he’s cute. As I had hoped, Mr. Waverley is a Null Five. Not so Mrs. Waverley, first name Janet, an attractive, slim, bleached blonde a couple of years younger than her husband. She’s a Two and hostile.

They usher us into a large, comfortably furnished parlor where, after we seat ourselves, Waverley offers us drinks. You ask for a diet coke, Sam a double Glenlivet and I go for a quadruple Stoli.

You really glare at me this time murmuring “alky” under your breath. I smile charmingly, pick up six expensive looking colored glass balls from a charming Stettin bowl and put on a quick juggling act that would have made W.C. Fields envious. Everyone looks at me agape as I finish with a flourish and grab my quadruple Stoli from Waverley’s hand.

“Fuckin’ amazin’,” Says Sam. “You could open in Vegas.”

While you, my darling, are really impressed with me for the first time. I have already had enough to drink (I’m sure you noticed the procession of tiny bottles making their way to my seat during the flight to L.A.) to give even the average Russian pause and so my dazzling display of hand eye coordination seems to suggest to you that I am far from an ordinary bloke.

Turning to business, I outline my plan to the Waverleys. “I’m sure you realize,” I say in conclusion, “that the best you can hope for is that your son is captured before he kills anyone else. There will be a hue and cry for his execution but I promise you on behalf of the FBI, of which Special Agent Dribble is a distinguished representative, that the Bureau will do everything in its considerable power to ensure that the Federal prosecutors do not seek the death penalty. All anyone really wants, including the both of you and the rest of your family, I presume, is to stop Richard before he wreaks further havoc.”

James Waverley is on board with the plan even without any special psychic prompting from me but his wife doesn’t care for the scenario one iota.

“I can’t pretend to be ill and lure my son into a trap. I can’t even contemplate such a betrayal of trust.”

Before I have a chance to say anything in reply, you fix Mrs. Waverley with the steeliest of looks.

“Betrayal of trust?” you say incredulously. “Mrs. Waverley, hundreds of people are dead, blown to pieces because of your son. These people all had families, friends, people who loved them. And you’re worried about betraying your son’s trust?”

Janet Waverley flushes, starts to say something, then begins to cry. Not a few tiny tears but a huge, rushing torrent. She gasps, moans in pain, holds her hands to her stomach and gives vent to the sorrow all mothers of evil children must feel. James, looking miserable, hugs her and whispers words of comfort. Eventually, her display of grief subsides and she takes a sip of the cognac her husband has brought her.

“You’re right, of course. It’s just so hard. So hard to take.”

“I understand,” you say in a gentle voice. “Really I do. But you must admit that in a universe of bad alternatives, the plan that Mr. Thornhill has just outlined is really the best for you and your family and for your son as well.”

Janet, anguished, merely nods.

As we leave, James tries to be convivial. “So which is it, Oxford or Cambridge?”

I do my best to smile politely. I do not like James Waverley. My mindscan has revealed that he is a liar, a cheat, and a closet Republican.

“Cambridge. Saint Swithin’s”

“Ahh.” (Of course, there is no such college in Cambridge.)

I am relieved to once again relax in Sam’s limo where I mix myself a quintuple Jack Daniel’s on the rocks.

“Say,” says Sam, “How would you like to meet Orlando Prize? I gotta stop by his place anyway.”

Orlando Prize is numero supero mucho uno at the box office. You roll your incredible eyes like nothing short of a full court orgasm would please you more. I shrug in assent.

“Sure. Why not? Is he as sexy as advertised?”

Sam looks uncomfortable.

“Hey, I don’t care which ways you swing, my friend, but I’ve got nothin’ but a professional relationship with Orlando.”

“Don’t mind him,” you say. “He’s an alcoholic. Doesn’t have the remotest idea what he’s saying.”

“Yeah,” Sam says. “You can really pour the booze down. I thought I could hold my liquor but you? Meshunnegge!”*

I smile. “Remember the juggling? It’s all an act. I’m not an alcoholic. I’m an inebriate. There is a difference, you know.”

“Sure,” you say, “the difference between blitzed and blotto.”

“No. The difference between bliss and bartizan.”

As I anticipate, this circumlocution silences the both of them.

As it turns out, Orlando Prize lives within a couple of miles of the Waverleys in a house that once belonged to Helen Twelvetrees.

Prize meets us at the front door and I am immediately struck by how short he is. OK, admittedly there have been lots of short movie stars. Mickey Rooney, Alan Ladd, Jimmy Cagney, Michael J. Fox, Tom Cruise, Hervé Villechaise. But Orlando is seriously short, probably just under five feet.

But really cute, evidently causing plentitudes of puta to pop their pucelages.

I see dapples of disappointment cross your delectable countenance, quickly replaced by a disquieting awe. Just the presence of a superstar, I suppose, automatically overcomes your critical faculties.

“Hey, Sammy,” says Orlando in his trademark resonant voice. “You comin’ with me to D.C?”

Sam shakes his head in rue. “Can’t do it, babes. Gotta be setting up the logistics for your next gig, Dionysus the Areopagite Meets Batman.”

“Yeah, right.” Orlando gives you and me a quick once over. “Hey guys, welcome to the Prize estate. Mi casa su casa. Drink?”

“Sextuple JD for moi. What are you doing in Washington?”

Prize leads us to a spacious atrium, snaps his fingers for a servant into whose astonished ears he whispers my drink order and gestures for us to be seated on magenta lawn chairs.

“Charity gig. J. Whippelnose Presserwesser is big on FBIs.”

“I’m sorry?” you say.

“Fear Based Initiatives. Since I’m a prominent Christian alarmist. . . .”

“Meaning you’re simpatico with President Presserwesser?”

“Absolutement,” says Prize with a ravener grin.

I determine that Orlando Prize is a Null Six with imminent access to that noncompareil ruler, the president of the United States, J. Whipplenose Presserwesser.

What an opportunity, I think.

This obviously dratchell-like midget with excruciatingly excellent features might very well lead me to the pants of power.

I can scarcely contain myself (all five tons of menya).

But I realize that I have new and stranger things to do before I trouble to possess the disestimable Mr. Prize.

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