Part 2.5 of the Ballad of JC Hibbing
Charlatan’s Lounge, Los Angeles, California
9:34 am, March 8, 1967
“Lizard King,” Miguel laughed. “Oh, man, you’re just rubbing it in the plebs’ faces now.”
Alfred Axiom grinned. “Is there any better place to rub it?”
Miguel fell back into his seat in a booth at the Charlatan’s Lounge, clutching his stomach with laughter. No one else was in the place other than Miguel, Axiom, and the bartender, Hugh, who was in on the whole bit top to bottom.
Miguel slid back the album sleeve with its image of three figures and a face cast in shadow.
“Man, it’s almost too easy,” Miguel said. “Like, I almost feel bad sometimes when I think of how bad we’re screwing up their brains. This is chaos, baby. Like, straight chaos we’re bringing down on them.”
“It’s for their own good,” Axiom said. “Sheep need a shepherd.”
“They had one, though, didn’t they?”
“Yea, but he doesn’t sit right with the future that’s coming. Needs an upgrade.”
Miguel nodded at the album cover. “Death and psychosis is one hell of an upgrade, man.”
“That’s nothing, man. Just a piece of it. Wait ’til you see what we got in store for TV.”
“The idiot box?”
“Our favorite family friendly programmer.”
Miguel laughed. “Wild, man. Wild to be behind the scenes on all this.”
“Behind the scenes is the only place to take cover from what’s coming. I met with one of the Burroughs Boys out in London. He likes the JC Hibbing angle. Digs the suicide.”
“Ah, man.” Miguel sank in his seat a bit. “Suicide? I like that young lady. She’s cool. Sincere. That’s a real bummer, man. She doesn’t deserve to go out like that.”
The humor disappeared from Axiom’s face. “Be careful, Miguel. You sound a bit hesitant. Downright doubtful. Those things aren’t allowed. They’re cardinal sins that can get a man suicided.”
Miguel smiled, but there was no laughter in it. Before getting caught up in this whole Chaos-Protocol bit, he’d not been the sort of man to take a threat lightly. Especially not from some slick-talking white boy from the Ivy world.
The game had changed, though. The things he was dealing with now required more tact.
“No doubt, baby. No hesitation. You keep me posted. I’ll do what needs to be done like I always do.”
“Good,” Axiom said.
Axiom dropped cash on the table for drinks and left the bar.
Miguel sat a while sipping his beer and letting his temper cool. He thought about JC Hibbing. Burroughs Boys. Weird ass Typhonian, Ecochian, Satanism freaks. The whole firestorm coming down on everybody and everything fast.
The wheels were turning in his head. They had been for a while, in fact. No money was worth his soul, he’d decided that a long time ago, but his life? Was his life worth his soul? That was a much harder question, and one that demanded a heavy price.
He sipped his beer and thought about it.