October 2nd: Sara offered to go with me but I wouldn't let her. I was trying to shield her from the insanity that had taken over my life, not make her a part of it.
At four thirty I got ready. Getting dressed was the hardest part. The Chop House of The Rising Sun was a fancy Japanese restaurant and while I had only one pair of dress slacks and only one tie I still had to wonder- should I wear my straw fedora?
THE NIGHT BLOGGER:
The Graveyard Game
And Other Cemetery Plots
The Devil’s In The House Of The Rising Sun
Al Bruno III
...Ashley Fowler already there. How should I describe her? The first thing you noticed was her hair, it was fire engine red; then there was her skin, pale and freckled. She wore a man’s gray suit with a jet black power tie, her tie clip was a peace symbol. When she saw me enter the private dining room she grinned and that grin made me feel like a high school kid trying to ask a cheerleader out on a date.
Not that I was going to do any such thing, even if I hadn’t been falling in love with Sara I would never have gone near a woman that was proud to tell anyone willing to listen that she was the Devil.
“Brian Foster!” she stood and shook my hand, “Come on and have a seat. I ordered already. A sushi platter and warm saki. You can never go wrong with sushi and warm saki.”
“Thanks,” I sat down in the chair opposite her. Everything about the Chop House Of The Rising Sun looked savings-shatteringly expensive.
“I like your hat,” she grinned, “or should I say your grandfather’s hat?”
“Uhm ...errr,” I said. Less than a minute into our meeting and she already had me on the defensive. I set my hat down on the table and shifted in my seat. I had my iPhone in my upper jacket pocket. It was set to record audio. I wasn’t sure if I was close enough to catch anything but I felt like it was something I should try to do. Even if this was a waste of time the story of my dinner with Ashley Fowler would make one Hell of a blog entry.
Both figuratively and literally.
“I was so excited when Mike told me you wanted to see me,” she downed a piece of sushi drowning in wasabi before she continued, “I’ve been following your work for some time.”
“I didn’t know Mike told you I was going to call.”
“Why wouldn’t he? Mike is a dear friend ...And such a good listener.”
So there I was, not even ten minutes into the conversation and completely floundering. I downed my cup of warm saki. It tasted soft and sweet and started to go to my head almost instantly.
Once I was sure my liquid courage was going to stay down I spoke, “Then he must have told you what I want.”
“You’ve lost your heart to a girl in danger. I love it! Cliches are the Devil’s shorthand,” She slurped another bit of sushi, it was reddish and looked like a tentacle and there was nothing else like it on the platter before us.
But it was either sushi or Ashley Fowler had the weirdest looking tongue in history.
“She played the Graveyard Game... I mean I let her play it. Now there is something after her, something called the thousand faced moon.”
Ashley nodded as she refilled my saki cup, “Gorgo, Mormo, Luna. Three dying goddesses that became one, three demons in search of a cult.”
“What can I do?”
“Gorgo for the gorgon, Mormo for Hecate, Luna for Lilith who birthed all the world’s monsters. That girl of yours is in a lot of trouble. Drink up now.”
I did drink up, mostly to be polite, “And there are these things chasing her, these clowns...”
“We’re in the state capitol Brian, we’re overrun with clowns.”
“What can I do?”
“Poor Brian, just a rat trying to run with the owls. The real question is what are you willing to do?” She stood up. I couldn’t believe how tall she was, the horns that sprouted from beneath her blood red hair scraped the ceiling, “They say gingers have no souls but I actually have an extensive collection.”
I giggled, “You can’t be the Devil so you can’t have my soul.”
“You’re half right anyway,” she walked towards me and raked her long black fingernails across the tablecloth. Wherever she touched, it burned. “But don’t worry, I don’t need those old hags getting underfoot. I want them gone just as much as you.”
My tongue felt heavy in my mouth but I kept focused on my goal. I didn’t care that the room was burning down around us or that the remaining pieces of sushi had become the squirming souls of the damned. “What can I do?” I asked again.
Ashley was swelling up and turning red, “What else? You burn her temples, you defile her holiest of holies, you scatter her faithful.”
“But where...” I began, “But how...”
Before I could say anything else I collapsed, the last thing I saw was a cloven foot raised high above my head...
...I woke up hours later on the floor of the restaurant's private dining room. There was no fire, there were no screaming damned.
Both you and I know she had to have drugged my drink, that’s obvious isn’t it? When I tried to listen to the playback of the conversation on my iPhone I discovered that all my audio files had been replaced with Nickelback MP3s.
Thankfully she left me something else. A text message with three local addresses; one for Gorgo, one for Mormo and one for Luna.
And just in case any of you out there are worried about me and the state of my eternal soul, don’t be.
Ashley Fowler is not the Devil.
Because if she was, she wouldn’t have left me with the check for dinner.