Episode 25: Something Else Again
Kodek was in his hotel room in downtown, San Francisco and it was dark out. In his hands, the heart gave a last pump and Kodek was shocked when a pulse of blood shot out of one of the severed ventricles and splashed right in his eye. It stung so badly, he had to bite his tongue from shouting out, but that only made it worse, and he dimly considered the state of the carpet but it was far too late for such consideration, the heart had been dropped as he ran to the bathroom sink to flush his eyes, and anyway, the entire room was splashed with blood. Not his, of course.
The blood and the heart that had just pumped its last beat was Robert Williams. Or, Robert Williams The Artist.
It took Kodek a full six minutes to rinse enough blood from his eyes to subdue the harshness of the sting, and he realized that even with matching bloodtypes, matching DNA, matching everything, there was still a chance he’d bee caught.
Then he tried not to think about that at all. With any luck, the sheer back-and-forth from this plane of existence to ——– would prove to be sufficient enough to cloud his memory, as it had been doing in the last week or so. He figured these mental lapses in time were also contributing to his growing paranoia, he seemed to be thinking there was a waitress in a yellow uniform who was not only following him around the city, but contributing to some overwhelming and unexplained sense of deja-vu.
At any rate, he wasn’t about to actually kill Robert Williams The Artist, because, hell, Kodek liked Robert Williams’ art. His paintings were part of the underground counter-culture of 1960’s California. The only thing he couldn’t figure was why Williams had practically given his piece entitled “Appetite for Destruction” to that glam band Guns N’ Roses over a decade ago, and why now, The Corporation was so concerned that that particular painting of Williams’ had received mass printing and distribution because of it.
There was something in the dossier on Robert Williams, provided by The Corporation (so Kodek could be better prepared for his job) that suggested Williams’ painting held some sort of key to ——– that could potentially unlock certain metaphysical portals to… Well, Kodek wasn’t entirely sure to where. Or to what. Inside the dossier there was a lot of black marker covering a lot of typewritten paragraphs, indicating to Kodek that the material was to be thought of as “classified”, end of story.
Initially Kodek was sent (back) to San Francisco to try to prevent the mass-market under-sale of “Appetite” by Williams, which he would have been more than happy to do if only to see that Williams did not go through with allowing himself to be ripped off indefinitely, by signing away the rights to his own paining for practically pennies to what he had unfortunately thought was some going-nowhere punk band, completely unaware that they (Guns N’ Roses) were at that time already part of the David Geffen machine. And hence, his artwork was subsequently released on the cover of twelve million albums in 1987.
But The Corporation didn’t give a fuck about Williams, they gave a fuck that something that held some cosmic key was now in plain view of any record-shopping member of the public. Even 10 years form 1987, it was never too late to do something about it, right?
Of course, the prevention of the sale of the artwork in question would much more easily, quickly, cheaply, efficiently, be solved if Kodek was sent (back) to simply whack Robert Williams. Hence the conundrum – as Kodek liked Robert Williams. Or, at least he liked Robert Williams’ art and artistic contribution to the counter-culture.
Kodek got the idea while on the plane.
He had the slug-thing in his hand. He knew what he was supposed to do, what he was compelled to do. But he fought it, hard.
He nearly crushed the little slug/squid/thing he was concentrating so hard, but when the plane landed in San Francisco the edge was wearing off and he was able to save it.
Until he could pull the other Robert Williams, from one of the other infinite planes, out through the ——– and into his hotel room where he could indeed kill the living shit out of him and get his rotting carcass back to 1967 where he’d never even have a chance to create “Appetite for Destruction”, let alone sell it to some L.A. Glam-band on Geffen Records. Or, not in that world, anyway.
If anything fucked up Kodek could always blame it on the rift in the ——- that Brain had warned him about when passing through
(what the fuck was that slug/thing/squid/tentacle/sponge anyway?)
and when Kodek got back into the main part of his hotel room, he wasn’t even sure what had happened because there was certainly no body, no blood, no heart
anywhere to be found
but he knew, he knew, that at least one thing (two things) had fucked up, because
the phone was ringing
two days later Kodek was checking out the Tower Records in Santa Monica. He could hear the phone ringing and a couple of minutes later some girl with a pink mohawk approached him and asked, “Are you Kodek?” He nodded and she told him, “The phone’s for you. You can take it up at the front counter.”
“Okay, thanks,” he said, and had one lingering last look at the Guns N Roses record, it was still called “Appetite for Destruction”… only that wasn’t the painting titled “Appetite for Destruction” on the cover of the album, anymore. Now there was a picture of a cross and five skulls down and across the crucifix, one of the skull wearing a black top hat which looked a little humorous, or might have seemed humorous if Kodek didn’t have that sinking feeling in his belly right at that moment.
He slipped the album back in the rack and went to the front counter, where some woman was telling him to meet her at some pizzeria call ed Escape from New York Pizza, which gave Kodek a bit of a headache.
In his hotel room in San Francisco, there was no dead body on the carpet and the phone was ringing. Anxiety began to well up inside Kodek, but he answered it anyway.
It was his editor. The editor-in-chef at the Metro rag Kodek had been working for (as a day job), but how could the chief know he was here in San Fran? How the hell-?
“How’s the story coming, Kodek?” the chief barked from his end of the phone line, miles and miles away.
“Don’t fuck with me Kodek,” chief chewed through the line, “Not in the mood,” he spoke with the rapid-fire pace of an honest-to-god New York newspaper editor. “Get the fucking scoop and get the hell back here. You know how much that goddamn hotel room is costing the paper?”
Kodek was at a loss.
“Come on, Kodek, you can tell me, don’t have to save all the goods for when you get back.”
Kodek said nothing, but his mouth was hanging open.
“Okay, fine,” the chief rapid-fired, “fine, save it all then, surprise me, surprise the fuck out of me, and you’d better knock my socks off. The whole fuckin’ country’s waiting to hear what going on with the Jack of Hearts killer there in San Fran!”
Jack of Hearts
Kodek knew that whatever it was he’d done, whatever box of Cracker Jacks he’d torn wide open, he’d evidently fucked up times two…
And now something really weird was going on.