Listen, if you’re ever in the mood to do something exciting that pushes the limits of social constraints, and somebody offers to take you to a Satanic ritual — go see a Disney movie or something.
Satanists try so hard to be titillating and outrageous, but generally succeed only in being rather silly and juvenile. I’m sure it was all very risqué back in the Middle Ages, but these days — not so much. Even having a naked woman as an altar is no big deal. It might be all right if she were someone like Kim Basinger, but generally they’re more like Mrs. Robinson — nice enough, but not someone who’s going to stop traffic without the aid of a crossing guard outfit.
Let’s face it, when we have music videos featuring Miley Cyrus riding naked on a wrecking ball, a woman laying on a table with candles balanced precariously on her body is outright tame.
The ceremony itself was pleasantly sombre and confusing. One person drew a complicated pattern within a circle all around the altar while others chanted stuff in Latin. At least I think it was Latin. More puzzling, however, were the calls and responses, which were in English.
Robed Official: “What does our Satanic Master require?”
Congregation: “Honour and justice to all.”
Robed Official: “What does our Satanic Master require?”
Congregation: “Love for all humanity.”
And so on.
After the ceremony we retired to the basement where light snacks and refreshments had been laid out. It was shortly after eight, so I made a quick call to the garage where I caught the mechanic as he was about to leave. After explaining that I’d been caught up in a case I was working on, I convinced him to put the keys in the glove box so I could pick up the van later in the evening. With that out of the way, I began mingling in order to get a handle on the beliefs of the church.
“Everyone has the wrong idea about Satan,” explained one young man wearing what would undoubtedly be a full beard in another five years, but was presently more of an uneven stain. “Satan is the champion of justice and equality. He loved what Jehovah created, but Jehovah was jealous of mankind and set about trying to destroy us in any way possible.”
“It’s only through Satan’s advocacy that we’ve survived at all,” interjected a nice elderly lady with bluing in her permed, white hair.
After a while I started to get a clearer picture. Essentially this group had taken the Christian church and inverted the heroes and villains, while maintaining the basic message. Jesus was the bad guy, out to trap us into a cycle of contempt for each other, while Satan was the good guy trying to bring us together in peace and love.
Considering the way many churches presented Jesus, I could kind of see their point.
I was prepared to report back to Ignatius that while his sister was involved in a cult, and (at least on occasion) acted as its nude altar, there appeared to be nothing sinister or dangerous going on.
But then their “leader” dropped in: Horace J. Witherspoon, founder of The Church of Satanic Love.
He had a pompadour tall enough to intimidate Edmund Hillary and a smile so bright I suspected he carried his own portable nuclear power supply.
I didn’t like him.
He worked the room, glad-handing and patting backs, kissing the younger girls on their cheeks and the older women on their hands. It made my skin crawl, but his flock seemed to eat it up.
It was at that point I decided to dig further into this little group.
I’d noticed that when people said they were going outside for a cigarette they headed to the stairway at the back of the basement reception hall. Hatching a plan, I waited until the the gathering was breaking up and then asked if I could join the the smokers for their final cigarette in order to ask a few last-minute questions. The stairs led to a back door at the end of one of the hallways running beside the large room in which we’d had the ceremony.
As I’d hoped, the door was one that opens from the inside by pushing on a “panic bar,” but can’t be opened from outside without a key. I let the other two smokers precede me through the door, and then took hold of the door jamb and reached down for the fist-sized rock that was obviously used to prop it open. As I did so, I slipped a finger into the striking plate where the latch would go, and pressed against the side so I could feel the depth.
Once I’d propped the door with the rock I grabbed a small broken branch lying nearby, pulled out my knife, and began whittling away at it while asking questions about the church. When the smoke break was over, I arranged to be the last one in, took a small section of branch that I’d cut off and slipped it into the plate so the latch would no longer catch.
Mrs. Robinson had left earlier, but since I knew she’d just be going home, I was no longer concerned with following her. My curiosity was now focussed on the offices lining the entrance hallway.
To kill time while the building emptied, I walked over to Dufferin and picked up my van which, I was happy to note, now purred like a kitten with bronchial problems. This was a distinct improvement. I then drove the short distance to the Gladstone Cafe, just east of Dufferin on Queen where I killed some time with a coffee and a snack.
I waited until night had, like the traditional Satan, completely fallen, then drove back to Noble Street where I saw the building was now completely dark. I parked a ways down the street and walked back, going around the side to the rear. I tested the door and it opened without a hitch. My plan had actually worked!
So did the burglar alarm.
There are notes to this chapter, which can be found by hovering over the “Story Notes: No spoilers” tab at the top of the page.
Warning — Read the chapter first, otherwise the notes may be an inadvertent spoiler.
This is my 11th entry in the February writing challenge, “30 Minus 2 Days of Writing: III” (or 30M2DoW) issued by We Work for Cheese, the rules for which, such as they are, I am completely ignoring — except the attempt to post each day during the month.