Sunday, June 22, 2014

Equinox in Austin

Some time ago I challenged LL to write a short which included what he likes to call the "cheap red wine brigade," the Hog Farm, the Whole Earth Catalogue and their Clown. Or something like that. He swiftly wrote Solstice in Austin, which features a young woman who is picked up by the nefarious Carlos on the way to Austin and then dies, impaled on the Horned God's antlers(!) after getting herself in trouble on Beezer's bus. You can read it here. LL wasted no time suggesting I write a sequel, Equinox in Austin, and here it is. If you dislike tales of counter-cultural criminality and vice don't read on. All characters are, of course, entirely fictional.

Equinox in Austin


Thou Shalt Not Suffer A Witch To Live.

    Hazey stumbled out of the bathroom of the cheap motel and looked at Starhawk, lying big and bloated on the bed, like a dirty whale. “Wake up!” he half-barked, half-slurred, giving the grey haired woman what he figured was a playful tap on the head with a jug of wine. He was drunk. Again. Starhawk groaned and cast a bloodshot eye at the wine. “Bastard,” she said, snatching the jug and drinking deep. She’d been beautiful once, years ago, back when Grace Slick was like a young Goddess and Hunter Thompson could still write.
   But Hunter had blown his head off in Aspen a year or two ago and Grace was weird; fat and demented. Starhawk didn’t look so hot either, that was for damn sure. An hour later Hazey was in his stained clown outfit and Starhawk was driving, all the way to the Lone Star State’s famous replica Stone Henge and their next gig, Equinox in Austin, laid on by the Hog Farm and Whole Earth Catalogue Plc.
    Starhawk’s wide ass filled the seat, as she sat in a haze of smoke in the Yukon, getting high. They’d pulled over to get something to eat at one of Austin’s many alternative high-end food trailers; not cheap, but Hazey didn’t care, he’d ripped-off a wallet the night before in some bar he’d gone to with Starhawk, plenty of cash. He passed her a $12 Gaia Burger, took a chug of wine and before long they were back on the road. They couldn’t speak but they didn’t have to, there was nothing to say. An old witch and a drunken old clown, running on fumes.

    It wasn’t easy but they finally found Barton Park as the sun was setting over the Henge, and were waved on to the “Crone’s Tent” by a couple of tie-dyed freaks. “Weirdos,” muttered Hazey; he was starting to come to. Starhawk snorted, she remembered Hazey from the old days, when Kesey was around and everything was cool. Not anymore, no Ma’am. “Get out of the damn car,” she snapped, and that’s what they did, walking right out of the truck and into the tent. The air inside might as well have been skunked and Hazey didn’t say no when an owl-faced man passed him a pipe.
“Welcome back to Texas, Hazey,” uttered the Owl. Hazey exhaled, “Let’s not have a double-take on that freaking Solstice. What was her name, Cindy, Candy?” The Owl didn't seem to know, “Maybe it was Candy. But what happened to Beezer, and where’s Carlos?”
   Hazey wasn't sure. Carlos had split after Cindy, or was it Candy? had been found dead at the Austin Solstice, skewered on the Horned God’s antlers. The cops had written it off as an “accidental death” but everyone knew better. Word was that Beezer had gotten all weird when the girl woke up in his bus and tried to make a getaway. Nobody blamed her, Beezer was a two-bit skagg-head and Carlos was part of it too, somehow. They’d both disappeared when the cops arrived. No one seemed to know where to.
“Yeah. Where’s Carlos. He left me with all these Whole Earth Catalogues to sell, what a deadbeat.” The Owl agreed. Sure, Carlos, what a loser. “So where’s Beezer?”
“Who knows, man, he’s probably gone blue in someone’s toilet.”
     A few hundred yards away, Carlos and Beezer were sitting across from the Equinox sound-stage in the middle of the famous Texan Henge, while a DJ played endless Orbital covers, Halcyon and on and on. But they didn’t hear the music, they were intent on one thing, as much as they could be intent on anything. Getting their money back. They’d panicked and ran when the cops arrived at the Solstice, and didn’t have a chance to grab the bricks-full-of-cash rucksack from Beezer’s bus. 

    But Carlos had caught a glimpse of Starhawk lifting the ruck over her shoulder as the squad cars arrived. Too late, it was gone with the witch and the Yukon. He nervously played with his Glock 17 while Beezer stared at the stage. Both were wired all to hell. “Where’s the freaking witch?” Beezer sucked on his teeth, “Soon, man, soon.”
   Back in the Crone’s Tent, Starhawk shouldered her way past Hazey. She found him repellent. He’d always been a freak, oh yeah, for sure, but now he was just this degenerate old clown. And drunk, always drunk. Starhawk kicked an empty jug of Burgundy out of the way and moved into the inner-circle of the tent. 
  “Staaarhaaawk!” gushed a middle-aged woman in a priest’s collar. She was an Episcopalian who went by “Mo”, which was short for Mother. They hugged, the priestess wincing like the WASP she was at the unwashed smell of the overweight old hippy. She moved thankfully apart and brightly explained the night’s ritual to Starhawk.
   Starhawk looked through lidded eyes at Mo the beaming priestess, as she gushed about Mabon, and realized that she hated her almost as much as she hated being the Crone at these dumbass festivals. But she didn’t hate the rucksack full of cash which sat on the back seat of the Yukon. That was her ticket out of the whole mess. Tonight would be her last Croning, and then she was gone. For good. Bye-Bye Hog Farm, Bye-Bye Hazey, Bye-Bye all of it, the whole low-rent deal, done and gone. 
    Starhawk smiled at the thought and grabbed a big plastic cup full of cheap red wine from a table where Hazey was making a fool of himself in front of a quiet owlish looking guy. She followed Mo behind a partition in the tent to get changed into her Hecate outfit.

  Carlos and Beezer watched in the darkness of the Henge’s massive stones, twitching with nerves and speed while Hazey swerved onto the stage in his clown getup; red nose, goofy hat and a one-stringed instrument, which he banged on to punctuate his lame old jokes. “Nobody for President! HAR, HAR!” all the while gesturing big and swaying drunkenly to polite applause from the few Austin hippies who bothered to listen. Before long Hazey was in grand clown mode, “And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you... Mabon!” 
   The lighting rig dimmed to purple and orange as unseen drummers struck up a beat. Then Mo was on-stage in a brown Fall cloak, to Call the Quarters:
  “On this sacred night, as the veil between the worlds draws thin, let us invoke the spirits of the directions.
“From the East, I call the wind! Blow from beyond the veil. Blessed be! From the South I call Fire! Spirit-filled rapture! Blessed be! From the West the Dead call. I call Water! Blessed be! From the North I call the Earth! Into her we descend, blessed be!
 “Demeter, Inanna, Kali, Tiamet, Hecate, Nemesis, Morrighan.
Bringers of destruction and darkness,
I embrace you tonight.
Without rage, we cannot feel love,
Without pain, we cannot feel happiness,
Without the night, there is no day,
Without death, there is no life.
Great goddesses of the night, I thank you!”
    And Starhawk emerged, masked, wearing black robes, Crone Hecate in person. As if on cue, Carlos and Beezer began to move, pushing their way through the hot Texan night and the Austin hippies. They reached the shadows to the right of the stage and there was Security, a lanky Occupy Austin dreadlock with a walkie-talkie, blocking their way. “Hey, guys!” he started, and was cut short by Beezer’s baseball bat. Crack. Bat on bone. No more security and no more Croning, that had finished, to be replaced by pounding dance music. The Equinox crowd were getting it on, right there at the stones of the Henge.

    Backstage, behind the stones in an open-faced tent, Rev. Mo was congratulating Starhawk, who was smoking something while trying not to look at Hazey. He was getting sloshed on a box of Franzia and didn’t see Carlos and Beezer cut round the corner. Neither did the women. If they had, they’d have seen Carlos’ Glock and Beezer’s bat, coming at them fast and furious. Carlos was first, and before you could say Hippy died at Altamont, he was on Starhawk, pistol racked and yelling, “Where’s the money, bitch!”
   Beezer batted Mo to the ground for effect. She dropped. Hazey choked on his wine. Carlos was screaming, he had lost it long ago, “So maybe you didn’t hear me? Where’s the fuckin’ money!” Starhawk froze, mouth open, she couldn’t speak, and Carlos raised his Glock. He was going to hit her and hit her good. Beezer grinned, “Yeah! Hit her, hit the witch.”
    From out of nowhere, an owl-faced man appeared at the tent’s entrance and drew his .460 S&W Magnum. He put the Hi-Viz fiber optic foresight on Carlos’ head and squeezed the trigger, which sent a 200 grain bullet, about the width of your thumbnail, speeding towards its target at 2,300 feet per second, like a supersonic bomb. Carlos’ head exploded. A second shot tore out Beezer’s gut, knocking him back to the wall of the tent in a spray of blood.
“That’s for Candy,” said the Owl, as he put a round through Starhawk, “Or is it Cindy? And by the way, she was my daughter.”
    The Owl stepped over Mo, pistol ready and aimed at Hazey. The clown puked and the Owl considered, for an instant, maybe Hazey wasn’t worth the bullet. “Clown, you get a pass,” he said as he lowered the big X-Frame revolver and shot Mo. “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” he informed the clown, and walked calmly out of the tent towards the Yukon and his money. He had business to attend to.

    Hazey stood in the tent, shaking, as sirens cut the night and the Equinox danced on.


LL said...

Good-bye Beezer and Carlos...

Well done, and a very worthy sequel to Solstice in Austin.

LSP said...

You're kind!

Carlos and Beezer are now written out, leaving Hazey and the Owl.

I don't think this thing's quite finished.

Let's not forget Beltane...

jenny said...

I am CLEARLY hanging out in all the dull parts of Austin. And/or maybe I've totally underestimated these music festivals.
When's the next equinox? Sept 22? If I'm still here then, I'm heading east and south until I find this business, and then I'll write y'all a non-fiction account, okay? That's gotta take the cake. Good, old-fashioned journalism.
(Maybe first I will get licensed to carry a gun. Seems prudent, considering some kind of weaponry and death is going to have to be involved.)
...only 3 months to find a proper antler hat and gold-lamé dress!!! ...c'mon modcloth...

LSP said...

Look, here's the thing, Jenny. Go armed.

jenny said...

well, I'll take a baseball bat, at least.

anyway, knowledge is half the battle. So y'all keep on with your stories, and by September I'll be equipped for any situation Austin can deal me.

LSP said...

Forewarned = forearmed.

Brighid said...

Hope you guys keep this tale going. I have deer and elk antlers, and a boomstick or two if Jenny is needing someone to ride shotgun.

jenny said...

ah, see, now that's perfect-- it's all falling into place. Knowledge. Brooms. Antlers. And company, to boot! Plus, Brighid knows how to shoot guns, so we're set. Sept 22 is going to be a fun day.

LL said...

If Jenny/Jeanine is going in a toga...maybe some of the guys should go along with her to the orgy just to keep her safe?

Jenny, don't trip and fall on any antlers.

jenny said...

All in the name of imitating art, LL!

And no worries-- I've been on the dull side of Austin for a while, but you underestimate my fierceness and ability to hide pocket knives and mace in a toga.

What do you think they taught us in girl scouts, anyway?