It’s storytelling day, and here’s another In Nomine based one. Some of you may have seen it. I wrote this in the wake of Hunter S. Thompson’s death. I got through my own (somewhat complex) emotions seeing one of my literary heroes die by writing In Nomine fanfic.
Well, Hell. Here’s how I wrote about it at the time:
Some folks cry. I write In Nomine based fanfic.
I never set one of these in Hell before. Not even Zevon, and I was tempted — but I made that part of the point. Zevon would be wasted on In Nomine’s Heaven. But he’d described himself as a Christian and I didn’t want to be disrespectful.
Well, I think if I’d written this any other way, it would have been disrespectful. So, if you’re the kind of person who consoled yourself with teary thoughts of John Lennon and George Harrison having tearful hugs in front of a set of pearly gates neither man believed in, you might not want to read this.
I just know it’s what I wanted to write, after I heard this. So take it for what it’s
Oh, and if you don’t get the In Nominisms, don’t sweat them. I think it stands on its own.
I don’t see any way to improve on that, nor any reason to try.
Hope you like it.
*** *** *** ***
You know what I hate about Hell? Weather. There isn’t any. Oh, fire rains down sometimes, even here in mid-Shal Mari, but that’s not weather. That’s a pack of bored Calabim who don’t like Impudite Princes deciding to be funny.
But there’s no weather. I’d like there to be weather, because weather makes things interesting. Sometimes there’s wind, mind, but that’s not the same thing either. That’s wind. Wind isn’t weather. Wind is just an annoyance in golf. It’s because there’s a roof. Seriously — you go outside, you look up, and you see Shal Mari’s lights bouncing off the roof of Hell, a few thousand feet or miles or something straight up. It looks like LA at night when the smog’s really bad and you can’t see any stars, only this is a good day in Hell.
Mostly, I go out for cigarettes and whiskey. And some interesting things you can smoke or shoot or snort. I won’t go into them. This typewriter doesn’t have the right letters for Helltongue anyway, and I don’t know that shit anyway.
Yeah, typewriter. The girl found it.
I haven’t told you about the girl. I probably should. See, I plowed in unexpectedly. I saw the lineup for ‘processing,’ and decided to give it a bye. Processing’s for meat and Mexicans who jumped the boarder. And right then, the Mexicans had the right idea.
See, they don’t plan for people to jump line and run into Hell. You’re supposed to be freaking out, shouting shit and fuck and staring at the demons with the leather wings. Only I never expected to go anywhere else — Hell, I didn’t expect to go anywhere, period, half the time. And to be honest, six eyed snakes with leather wings hanging out with amorphous blobs of fuck-Hell ripping your mind to shreds just by the looking was a light weekday for me.
So I ran inside. I found a couple of souls who gave me the lay of the land, and I managed to hop a truck bringing crates of meat into Shal Mari.
The meat isn’t meat, by the way. Apparently, Cows go to Heaven. Fucking cows go to Heaven. Decades of wondering who got it right, and it turns out to be the god damn Hindus.
So the meat is people, or was people, and I could hear one or two porterhouses whimpering. I struck up a conversation with a particularly juicy looking filet mignon, but it was just bitching about fate. Something about having it all and being a stockbroker and not wanting to die. Halfway there I wanted to eat him myself, just to shut him up.
That right there is why I broke into Hell. Processing’s for meat and Mexicans, and I’d rather be a Mexican any day of the week.
So, I set up in Shal Mari. Got a room and everything. I had some cachet, see. And the Media sent someone to try and rein me in — get me doing what they wanted. That’s how I met the girl.
“Where the Hell’d you get that whiskey?” she demanded. She opened the mornings being demanding. Not that there are mornings since with a roof there’s no sun, but come on. You crawl out of bed with a hangover, it’s morning.
“Hell,” I answered, lighting up. “By definition. You get my typewriter?”
She allowed as to how there was a typewriter, yes. And even paper.
“And a ribbon?” I asked.
She didn’t answer.
“A ribbon? Typey typey?”
“I’ll go find you a fucking ribbon,” she snapped. “Have some coffee. And for God’s sake, take a shower.”
“I thought God couldn’t afford the rent around here,” I said, crawling out of bed and over the floor, looking for my sunglasses and wherever the Johnny Haggy Red ended up landing. I think I put the cap on before I threw it. I hoped so, anyway. You get drunk in Hell. You just do. Drunk or high or blasted, because you can’t sleep. My first contact in, Juan — his name wasn’t Juan and he wasn’t Mexican, but I was wetbacking into Hell so he’s Juan to me. Besides, why rat him out to the Game — he explained the rules to me.
“We can’t sleep, because when you sleep you go away. You go to some place where people dream, and wherever it is, it isn’t Hell. And there’s no escape,” he said.
“So what’s the alternative?” I asked, leaning back against the old concrete wall. This was Hades. It was like Berlin, only not as cheery.
“There is no alternative,” he said. That made me laugh, so he qualified himself. “In Shal Mari, there’s drugs and alcohol. You know.”
“Drugs and alcohol sound about right,” I said. “A stupor’s as good as sleep.”
The girl was surprised I went to Hell in the first place. I wasn’t. I think maybe I went to Hell but I succeed so well around here because really I went to Heaven. Sometimes, I think that, anyway. Only I didn’t want Goddamn pansy-ass babies with wings flying around my head telling me to love everyone. “You make your own Heaven,” a drunk off his ass Impudite told me. He was miserable, telling me about his Fall. It sounded like an acid trip combined with S&M performed by a drunken dwarf — uncomfortable and not very kinky, and everyone’s a little embarrassed but can’t admit it. “Heaven is different for everyone who walks through the door,” he says. “They see what they want to see. It’s different.”
He tried to tell me the proper plurals for all the choirs and bands after that, but before I could get a notebook and write it all down, he started sobbing and then a slug with wings and a cow’s head, wearing a badge that looked like a rook walked in and hauled him off.
“I thought there weren’t any Cows in Hell!” I shouted, and he looked back and snarled, but by then I’d made a deal. The Game couldn’t fuck with me in Shal Mari, or Nybbas’d be pissed and besides, it was against the Rules. The Game was all about the Rules.
“I can’t believe you went to work for Media,” a soul I know who begs for Essence down past the Lotus told me. I’d given him a shot of some green-black powder that makes your skull feel like Velveeta and Gin and your brain like a cat scratching its way out, so he liked me. “You. The Media.”
“Jesus Fuck,” I said. “You know what my last gig was, topside?”
“My job! My last job. You know what it was?”
“No,” he said. The green-black shit was kicking in, so I was losing him, but I was determined to get my point across before he went off to wherever you go when you’re not allowed into dreamland. Every trip in Hell’s a bad trip, only they’re better than Hell itself, so you deal with it.
“Disney,” I said. “I wrote sports for Disney.” I shook my head. “Even I don’t believe I worked for Disney.”
He kind of gurgled, which I took to mean ‘go on,’ so I did. “It’s like Jefferson. Everyone’s all like ‘holy Fuck. Jefferson had slaves. Mister ‘Unalienable Rights’ and ‘Declaration of Independence’ had slaves he knocked up in his spare time. Jefferson had Brown Sugar, and me? I cashed checks from the Mouse. What’s the Media after that?”
The girl came back about twoish. There’s no clocks down here — not in Shal Mari, anyway, so twoish is more a state of mind than a statement of fact. I’d been out and back — got me a sausage and egg English Muffin. Soul food, only without the greens — and a cup of coffee. I’d also found the bottle. I’d left the cap off when I threw it, but there’d been enough fake scotch in it to start off the day.
“A ribbon,” she said. “I don’t even know what to do with this thing.”
“Give it over,” I said, and took it from her. She scowled. When she first showed up after I cut my deal, she’d tried to be all ‘you owe me’ this and ‘you owe me’ that, but it didn’t work out that way. For today, I had pull.
Which you’re not supposed to have in Hell, but I have a sneaking suspicion this is Heaven, which means I keep winning when I’m supposed to lose. Of course, if you’re being tormented while listening to this as a book on tape, compliments of Triple-N, you probably don’t agree with me. Fine. I’ll just not believe in you.
“I don’t know who you think is going to read this,” she said. Editors.
“Your boss for one,” I said. “And your boss’s boss. So shut up.” And I began typing. Prologue. Setup. The beginning.
‘You know what I hate about Hell,’ I wrote, and one way or another, we got here. Hi. Let’s see where this leads.