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The Continuing Wicked Adventures of Sam Sonata
Music Dick - Chapter Five

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Sam Sonata
Sam Sonata I slept a fitful sleep on the couch in my office, only somewhat calmed by a half dozen glasses of Chivas and the Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 11 that I picked up at the Chopin Mall. Throughout the humid night - I kept seeing a vision of a girl - sweet and beautiful and natural - imprisoned, terrorized, befouled and corrupted by horrific, blood-crazed, maraca-playing creatures of the night.

I woke up hungry and stinking with sweat, cleaned up as best I could, and, after writing a note for my secretary Ruby, treated myself to a quick smoke, a cup of joe, two eggs over easy and wheat toast with grape jelly at the local diner.

The cadence of the city streets was as steady and regular, as if Sir George Solti himself were conducting the traffic, as I made my way down the crowded streets. The people in their cars on either side of me stared straight ahead with idiotic smiles on their faces as the transmitters implanted in their heads played the music choices they were assigned. The lite jazz listening ladies headed for the secretarial pools on the middle floors of the skyscrapers, while the white haired classical corporate types dreamed of beds of paper money and trophy wives, to the accompaniment of Respighi and Korngold, as they rode gleaming brass and mahogany elevators to the penthouse executive suites. The fellow with the rap music in his mind turned up so loud it nearly blared out of his ears barely acknowledged me as I pulled my lime-green Delta 88 into the parking garage. I was glad that as a music dick I was not obliged to have to choose one music style, but could instead feel free to listen to a wide range of idioms. My choice in the car this morning - Little Feat's "Waiting for Columbus" featuring Lowell George's piercing slide playing and the Tower of Power Horns. It was that kind of a day.

The headquarters for "N&M" Records stood before me - its distinctive dollar sign shape - designed by eminent architect I.M. Peidwell - clearly visible towering over the wire exchange and the oil barrel tower homeless shelters. N&M naturally stood for "Noise And Monotone" - named for the two founders, who killed each other with salad tongs in a scandalous duel over their shared hermaphroditic mistress.

I avoided the billowing oil pool and the crowd gathered at the tomb of the unknown victim, and instead crossed over the Lethe River Bridge to where the fires burned outside the Bradbury District Fire Station. I thought I spotted a music book in the ashes, but it was just a history book, so I didn't take the chance to save it. There would be a newly revised one out soon anyway.

At the main entrance of the recording company, several young and attractive people mingled - smiling broadly, talking excitedly and dancing in place. Some held cds, while others carried posters; all wore t-shirts featuring "N&M" artists like "Hippity Hopper," "Iron Kladd," "Whitney Rapechild" and "Blue Jeanie." Having worked this side of the street a few times in the past I knew them to be actors, hired by the company to promote their product. I pitied the poor kids - probably out of work acting students from 2nd City's new Third Rate ensemble. I knew for a fact that the facial injections to make them smile constantly were painful, and that the medications used to keep them dancing for up to 12 hours at a time had been known to cause seizures. Inside would be more of the same - except these people would actually think they were doing something with a title like "receptionist" or "A&R." In the bowels of the building I knew the accountants would be hard at work already this morning in their dark lair - kept compliant and submissive by huge doses of depressants and masked Amazon women with whips. In fact the entire building, despite huge glass windows, would be extraordinarily dark inside, no actual sunlight would be allowed to pass - thus all employees would be kept in the dark - which also allowed their vampiric natures to grow and thrive.

The main entrance was a sucker's bet - I knew where the real power lay. I skirted the security guard - who was contentedly watching a scantily clad actress gyrate on the ground with blood coming out of her mouth - and cutting through some rusty barbed wire, climbed down over a crumbling concrete wall to the bank of the filthy river. I followed the shoreline clambering through tangled weeds, and over mounds of putrid decaying garbage, rotting bodies, and stagnant sewage to where a huge concrete pipe emerged from the basement of the "N&M" Building - spewing rancid, foul-smelling green and brown lumpy, wavy gravy. Gasping for breath, I stepped over a nest of rats, tiptoed around the headless torso of a waitress with a nametag that read "Pat," and pounced over the stench-filled fountain with the word OF UTH chiseled on it as it sputtered in fits and starts. Ahead I noticed a short porcine figure seated in a grotto alongside the pipe and called out, "Hey Leon!"

The ogre-like man turned and smiled with rotting teeth in my direction.

"Well hello yourself, Sam. Long time."

I advanced and braced myself for the hideous visage before me. Lumps, warts, oozing - pus-filled sores, and thick tufts of hair sprouted from nearly every inch of the wrinkled gray face. Microscopic eyes peered out at me from behind thick glasses - with huge bags - the result of severe near-sightedness - surrounding the tiny black pupils. He wore an extremely ill fitting, orange plaid leisure suit and tight, white Sans-a-Belts and blue suede shoes. A gold wristwatch the size of a small dictionary hung off one elongated arm, while around his neck he wore a gold chain as thick as your thumb, and which was so heavy he seemed to lean his pudgy neck forward at an unnatural angle. Sweat dripped down his body in torrents that ran in rivulets between the folds of fat that encircled his body, while flies swarmed in thick black clouds around his florid features. He reached out a dirty hand to shake my hand - it only had three fingers.

"Sam, baby - how the hell are you? About time you came to visit me. What, too busy for your old pals?" He squeezed a nodule on his neck that squirted a blob of yellowish fluid - spattering the pus-streaked wall behind him.

"Sorry, Leon - I've been busy."

"Yeah - I know. Ever since you lost your dreams of being a big star - you never come to call. Listen, let me finish up here and we can rap."

The creature turned back to the center of the grotto. Inside I could see a nude Barbie Doll, pinned like a butterfly to a pentagram drawn in blood on the stone altar. Beneath the altar was a stack of newly minted bills, an Elvis Presley gold record, a freshly sacrificed cock - whose blood dripped into a subwoofer, a Backstreet Boys Greatest Hits cd, a copy of TeenPeople with a backwards swastika drawn on it, a penny-whistle, and a well-used Hustler magazine. Leon muttered some guttural chant - the words of which I could not catch, but which sounded vaguely Latin, while I pondered a cardboard sign done in crayon, glitter and Elmer's glue which hung above the shrine reading "Yuth Kulture."

"I didn't know you were a religious man," I said when he finished.

"Oh this?" he waved at the shrine. "Actually I'm Non-Orthodox - we're only supposed to do this three times a week, but I don't like to take chances so I make my case with the Big Man every day. I like it better down here anyway. The shit and the sweat and the smell of sex and money - that's the only thing that matters to me. The only things that make you know you're alive, huh? Let the mannequins we hire to look good deal with the suckers - I mean public - up in the fancy offices. Morons don't know that all their sweat and hard work is all for ol' Leon's pleasure. Let 'em sell candy-flavored sin to the little kiddies - what the hell do I care? So what brings you down to see your old pal, Leon?"

"I'm afraid this isn't a social call." I pulled out the picture of Melody.

"Oh yeah," he said, studying the photo. "Little Melody Littlesong - sweet kid. Her and her mother used to have an act together. And it was some act - if you know what I mean?"

"So you know the family?"

"Know them - hell I'm probably Melody's real father - she's got my eyes." He squinted, but I couldn't see any resemblance. "Yeah, Musette and I were an item back in the 60's - in fact she pulled some strings - got me my start in the business. I learned a lot from that lady - wouldn't trust her to turn my back on her though if I were you."

"Why's that?"

"Insanity - runs in the family you know. Talented bunch of girls, but crazy as loons. Make you run aground on the rocks, if you get my drift."

"Have you seen Melody lately?"

"A few weeks ago maybe. She was always hanging around the offices here trying to help out. Her damn sunny disposition was really threatening morale there for a while. Cute thing - I tried to get her in my stable you know. Nothing like perverting the innocent to get the old blood flowing again. Hey, you want to meet some of my girls? Best looking chicks on the planet - I'd have a few of them come out to meet you, but they melt in the sunlight."

"Where do you think she might have gone?" I interrupted.

"I don't know. I don't know. Oh yeah - think she was hanging around with that rapper - "Tumult." She's probably one of his hoes by now."

"Tumult, huh?" Well that gives me something to go on - thanks Leon. One other thing - you guys making toys these days?"

"Toys?"

"Like a toy xylophone?"

"Beats me - Natas Industries has its fingers in everything these days. You might want to check with the Toy Man down in the Mirror District - we do some business with him I know. No Sam, The music business isn't just about money anymore - not like in the old days - now it's all video game mind control and demographical deconstructionism of the post-literate generation. We've even got a Broadway show, now - you might have heard of it? It won Best Musical at the Tonys this year. It's called "Stump" - it's very visual - no music, just a whole stage full of dancing amputees beating out a rhythm with their appendages."

"Sounds uh... swell, Leon."

"Yeah, some of them are pretty mangled up. We gotta' use ropes and wires and pulleys and stuff to move 'em around. It's all a goddamn puppet show. We give some of the boys jobs when they get back from overseas. We all got to do our part to support the war effort."

"I thought the war was over? We killed all the Chinese - nuked them and poisoned theirč-"

"Chinese, A-Rab, African, Eskimos - who cares - there's always somebody to do a little war with."

"So how can I find this "Tulmult?"

"First let me ask you a question - how much are they paying you?"

"What?"

"It's simple - what are you charging Musette to find her wayward girl?"

"We haven't even discussed my pay--"(I thought of Harmony)

"Well whatever it is - I get 70%."

"Are you crazy, Leon?"

"That's the deal. Hey, that's down from the standard contract because you're a friend. I give you Tumult - you give me 70%."

"That's blackmail."

"Just good sound business practice, Sam. I've got alimony on a dozen ex-wives and who knows how many little bastards running around."

I thought about it. I had no choice.

"Okay, but only 65%," I said and reached to shake his hand.

"Uh uh," said the ogre. "You know that's not how it works."

He held up the rusty dagger in his claw.

To Be Continued...
Chapters: One - Two - Three - Four - Six - Seven - Eight - Nine - Ten

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