For Jeremy. RIP.


Frederick had been hanging around the hippie shop – the one down near campus that sells pornographic toys, “Imagine Whirled Peas” bumper stickers, and used books –trying to work up the courage to buy The Satanic Bible.

The Satanic Bible. Black cover with the goat-star-thing and all. Owned by serial killers. Poured over by would-be mages and witches. (Did they prefer “warlocks” to “mages”? Everybody wanted to be called something specific, and you had to be careful what you called people so as not to offend them.) Szandor. How did you even pronounce that? He must have been an Arab or something. (And so too the lure of the mystical Orient!) The copy they had was marked up, dog-eared – well-loved, you’d say, a book that had been used who knows where for who knows what purpose. It was probably on a naked woman’s stomach once. That’s what Satanists use as altars instead of altars. Babies were getting bludgeoned with bludgeons, and this book witnessed it. And sex magick. Semen. Newt-eyes. Blood. A damnable and evil book. The Satanic Bible.

He’d be reading the book when he burst through the cafeteria doors. He’d hold it up in front of his face. You wouldn’t even see his face, you’d just see the goat-star-thing. He wouldn’t use his hands to open the door, he’d kick it open. Then he’d stride in, black slacks crisp and snapping – Frederick the Dark, Satan’s cowboy, dick fifteen miles wide and swinging. They would whisper – “Blasphemies!”

“This freshman girl went missing, and he had her hair in his locker. And there was skin hanging off it.” “He’s got tattoos of Jesus on the heels of his feet so he can stomp on Jesus all the time. No, not – yeah, the happy Jesus. Not the other one. The cross-y, like, bloody Jesus.” “He fucks a dog, and the dog has about fifteen hundred babies by him, and it’s this pack devil-dog-babies, and they all screw all the time.” “And even if he is a fag I won’t fuck with him, ‘cos he’ll send a devil-dog-baby to eat my throat out.” “I hear his dick is fifteen miles wide.”

And there, somewhere above the whispers, Frederick would regard truth and lies flying arm-in-arm together, the words of Anton Szandor LeVay speaking dread-evil to his ghost-haunted, dragon-bitten soul.

But first he had to buy it.

That was a dance. Watch him trundle through the store, wide ass barely able to negotiate the narrow doorway from this room to the book section. Marvel as the boy, sweating and huffing and dressed all in black (it both slims and sinisterizes), contemplates an honest-to-God Faustian bargain: $3 and your soul for an eternity of dark pleasures and limitless power. Weep, you good and godly folk, as he turns from the blasted book and buys his third copy of the Signet Classics paperback of Hard Times – all for lack of courage and fear of reprisal by the God-fearing, Bible-beating, corn-eating citoyens of his sleepy, sultry southern college town.

There was a boy, some years older than Frederick, who worked at the store. He wore all black, too, and had more rings on his fingers than a Louisville lady on Derby day. He was skinny and kept his hair shaved on the sides but tied in a ponytail in the back. His eyes were sunk into the dark cellars of their sockets, and they scanned the world suspiciously like vigilant rats. His name was Ernest Weiland, but he called himself Doran Walpurgis. It was his sallow, spookish face, superimposed over the wicked goat-star-thing, that poor Frederick dreamed of when he wet-dreamed.

Frederick came to the store that Saturday with a belly full of McDonald’s (two Fish Filets and a Coke) and his will finally and firmly resolved. He trundled, as usual, to the back; he approached, as usual, the “Witchcraft and the Occult” shelf; he breathed in, as usual, the musk of stale incense and molding, flaking paperback. He sped-read spines. The Corpse That Ate Itself (AND YOU!): Creepy Stories For Kids, Robert Gardner McNamara, II [self-published, 1989]; Orc Magick For Ritual Praktikum, Z. Llewellyn Krug [Wizardian Inc., San Francisco, 1987]; Southern Ghosts and Feathered Ladies’ Fannies: Erotic Gothic Tales From the West Georgia Spiritualist Movement, 1895-1897, Ed. Eric Lardner [Columbia University Press, New York, 1993];, The Lady “L.” [Wizardian Inc., San Francisco, 1995]; The Lazy Spectators’ Guide to Haunted Temples in the Ooky Orient: Mongolia & Western China Edition, Amy La [Publishers’ Travel Books, Montreal, 1978]; and…

Some cheap-ass paperbacks doing the domino lean against Ms. La’s masterpiece. Something about zombies. Another about incantations. Lots to learn, to be sure – but The Satanic Bible was gone.

Somebody’d moved it. He poured over the non-fiction section. He looked in “Religion and Folklore” – that’s where it belongs, isn’t it? Well – it’s a religion, isn’t it? He dug through the dollar bin: best-case scenario it had been marked down. No luck. It was gone – snatched back into the horrible hell from whence it had sprung, or else sitting next to some awesome bohemian guy’s bed on a stack of similarly esoteric titles from which he would derive his pastiche-poem masterpiece.

A void tore open beneath Frederick’s feet. He was sucked into bleakness and blankness. Utter evacuation. He snatched the book about ladies’ fannies off the shelf and reeled out of the used book section.

At the register, Doran Walpurgis was engaged in a conversation about important philosophical precepts with a thirty-something fellow who had tattooed his face to look like lizard skin.

“…because if it’s me against them, it’s gonna be me every time,” said the lizard-man definitively. “That’s like will-to-power; that’s the whole thing, man; that’s fuck the other guy and keep punching ’til you make it, you know?”

“Ain’t that easy, brother.” Despite having grasped the horrible materiality of infinite chaos during a recent mushroom trip, Doran spoke with a drawl that betrayed a rural upbringing. “You’ve got allegiances and all. You have to dedicate yourself. It’s can’t be like, ‘Awwh, it’s me, like, versus the world’ and all. You’ve got to remain true to your community.” Doran rapped the glass display where they kept the jewelry. “You’ve got to remain true to, like, truth and life and all, man. And did I already say community? Com-mun-it-y.” He rapped out the syllables, each more forceful than the last. “That’s where I’m all, ‘Nietzsche and shit – yeah,  man, cool.’ But only so much, you know? ‘Cos if it’s just you against the world, then who’s gonna fight for the race?” He whipped his ponytail back and forth – a nervous tic. “We’re gonna degenerate, man. They’re, like, breeding at ten times what a white woman can. I was watching Race and Reason and Tom Metzger said, ‘They’ve got superior fecundity and inferior mental capability: a deadly combination.’ And he’s right, that’s a cause for motherfucking concern. ‘Cos it’s the race that matters, man, not just your – like, we’ve got to keep pride, man!”

Frederick stood by until Doran was done.

“Are you guys racists or something?” was what Frederick managed to get out.

Doran and lizard-man laughed.

“Naw, naw,” Doran shook his head. “I, like, hate all races equally.” He guffawed as people who say that will.

Lizard-man added: “And anyway you don’t have to be black to be a nigger.”

Frederick set his ladies’ fannies book on the counter and took his wallet out of his pocket. Doran lit a long brown clove and shook his head.

“Naw, fuck it, dude. Just take that shit. Steal a book day, keep the…the fuckin’ pigs away.” He looked pointedly up at a security camera trained on the register and gave it the middle finger. “Want a bag?”

Frederick said sure. Doran put the book in a brown paper bag and shoved it across the counter. Frederick took the bag and turned to go.

“Hold on, hold on,” Doran sighed, reaching under the counter. He came back up with the tattered copy of The Satanic Bible in his hand. “I guess you oughta take that home, too. Guess you weren’t never gonna buy it yourself. Pussy.”

Doran snatched the paper bag back and slid the book inside. Frederick wanted to fall to his knees and thank him, but he instead took the bag back and turned from the counter. He was so excited he forgot to put his wallet back in his pocket. It trailed behind him on its chain, dragging along the ground like a long limp tail.

Frederick was ready to bound down the stairs – the shop was on the second story of an old Victorian home that had, through some miracle of commerce, been spared the bulldozers – when lizard-man and Doran began a conversation he couldn’t help but stop and listen in on.

That fuckin’ lard-ass,” lizard-man offered by way of summary of Doran’s transaction with Frederick. Then, quietly: “Whatever happened with that kid at the farm?”

Doran rapped his rings on the glass and cleared his throat.

“That kid,” he began, quietly, “that kid on the farm was something else, man. Fuckin’, he came down there that night after we had band practice, and he was all…”

“You met him on Dark Dungeons?” (This was a Bulletin Board Service.)

“Yeah. So he came down and we were all there – it was me, and Dorit, and Charlie Bates, and Tom Gradgrind, and I think even fuckin’ Whorish Walpole came down from Nicholasville – and we’d just had band practice. So it was cold and we passed around that Everclear bottle, and this kid’s there, and he’s all wearing his Slayer tee-shirt and all, and we decide we’re gonna have a little fun with him, you know?

“It’s dark out, but there’s a moon – full-moon. Kind of misty and foggy, ‘cos the farm’s down near the river. And I look over at Dorit, and I say, ‘Babe, why don’t you go get that gas can from the garage?’ And the kid’s all, ‘What you gonna do with that gas can, Doran?’ And I’m all, ‘You go make a fire over there by the compost heap, maggot. You go over to the wood pile and you get the wood and you make a fire.’ And he’s scared ‘cos there’s like six of us – shit, I think maybe seven, ‘cos I think D’arcy was there, too – that he goes and does. He goes off and gets the fire started, and then we seven come back and we’re wearing those druid hood things we bought for the Halloween show.”

Lizard-man laughed ominously.

“Seriously, dude. So we come back wearing the hoods, and this kid’s shaking in his boots. He’s like, ‘Doran, what the hell, dude?’ And I’m like, ‘Ave Satanis, barata nic barata.’ And Tom Gradgrind, he like lowers his hood and points at the kid, and he’s like, ‘We have found the one. Hail Satan!’ And all of us start to hailing Satan. Kid’s flipping his shit by now! He’s bawling and on his knees and begging us, like, ‘Oh, don’t kill me! Oh, please, Jesus, forgive me! I’ll never dial in again and I swear I won’t tell nobody!’

“Then D’arcy went up and petted on his face, and she’ all, ‘Ohh, he thought he was gonna get his dick wet tonight, didn’t he? But now look what’s happening!’ She got sexy and all. And he starts begging even louder, and he’s all, ‘Please, please don’t hurt me! I’m just a kid! I shouldn’t even be here!’ But we don’t let on it’s a joke. We close the circle and he keeps stepping closer to the fire. And he’s still begging and all. And we’re not changing our faces. We’re dead serious. Druids for real, dude. So then Dorit takes the gas can and comes on up behind him, and she pours it all over his head. He’s soaked, head-to-toe soaked.”

“You covered him in gasoline! Head-to-toe soaked! Haw-haw-haw!”

“Naw, naw, naw – Dorit just went and filled it up with water is all. But it didn’t matter, ‘cos he was begging and all, and saying he’d suck my dick if I let him go and all, and saying he was gonna call the cops and all. And I was all, ‘Suck my dick? You think I’m a faggot! Now I’m really mad!’” Doran laughed. The timbre of it was thin and frail as a goat’s bleat – heet, heet, heet! “Can you believe that shit? We had him pissing his pants. I bet he did piss his pants for real! Heet, heet, heet!”

The story went on – they halted the prank soon after that and all got drunk on the Everclear and the kid from the BBS wasn’t too sore about the joke, luckily, and now he and Tom Gradgrind are fucking even though the kid’s only seventeen – but Frederick wasn’t there to hear it. He had dared to step to the verge of the abyss, and he looked down into the abyss, and it was simultaneously as shallow as a puddle and as bottomless as he had feared. He pitched The Satanic Bible in the trash on the way home. It was cruel for the devil to so bitterly let him down.


Rob Rabiee was born in Kentucky, went to college in New York City, and currently resides in sunny Southern California. He is a bearded Marxist pursuing a PhD in American Literature and teaches undergraduate writing and literature seminars on topics including ambition, the satanic, and wandering around cities.