Blacktop Magic Chapter 2

Blacktop Magic

Chapter 2: Home with the Gilmans

by Lothar Tuppan

3 a.m. The black Lincoln exited the freeway, rolling away from the interstate towards a Phoenix suburb. The air was still hot and motionless.

“PAAH PAAW,” the being that looked like Father Bradley Taylor swung his head side to side as its voice warbled from the back seat.

“Shit.” Boyd gripped the steering wheel hard.

“I told you man.” Len said with a look of pained amusement on his face.

“WAZArrRRROALEEEENNggSSS….OANNE,” Bradley’s head swung in a figure-eight motion.

“I can’t fucking take this Len.” Boyd growled.

“We’re almost there,” Len said. “I told you not to play the radio.”

“You didn’t exactly explain why, now did you?” Boyd’s eyes flashed to the rear view mirror. “How long is he going to do this?”


Len turned to look at Bradley.

“He’ll start to calm down when we get him out of the car,” Len turned back around. “He can’t exactly walk and chew gum yet.”

“As long as he can’t walk and sing… chant… whatever the fuck you call that shit.” Boyd shook his head.

Bradley raised his face to the ceiling and wailed, “ALO-O-O-OANNE!”

Boyd looked at Len, “You realize I’m not going to be able to hear the Temptations the same way ever again?”

They both started to laugh.

“I warned you man,” Len said. “Turn right here.”

“How long until he’s presentable?” Boyd asked.

“Few days, a week maybe,” Len said. “Depends.”

Bradley went back to doing figure-eights with his head, “ALO-O-O-OANNE!”

“Soon,” Boyd said. “He’s someone else’s problem.”

The porch lights of the suburb broke the darkness in regular intervals, warding against the outside—an outside the sleeping homeowners never really thought would come to their streets. Boyd passed a driveway with Jess’ gold Le Mans parked in it and pulled over. Len saw the curtains move in a window of the house as Boyd parked behind Len’s red Ford Mach 1.

“Neighbors are going to think there’s a party going on with all these cars.” Boyd said, putting the transmission in park and turning off the engine.

“Nobody pays much attention to what goes on here,” Len said turning to the back seat. “They get kind of confused if they try.”

He took his sunglasses off and hung them from the front of his T-shirt.

“Bradley,” Len said.

“Al-o-o-o-oanne,” muttered the doppelganger, peering at the floor.

Len waved his hand under Bradley’s face. “Look at me Bradley.”

Bradley looked up, a wide grin on his face. Drool shone on his chin.

“Bradley. We’re going into that house. It’s important that you be quiet. Do you understand? You will be silent.”

“SAI-LANT!” Bradley spat.

“Shut up Bradley,” Len said. “Right now.”

Bradley’s mouth squeezed shut. He blinked rapidly.

Len sighed, “I’m fucking tired.”

“Me too man,” Boyd said as he slipped the keys out of the ignition and stepped out of the car. “Me too.”

Boyd opened the trunk and pulled two bags, filled with his and Len’s clothing, out of the trunk as Len helped Bradley out of the Lincoln. The front door of the house opened and a tall man stepped out. Brown hair and tan skin contrasted sharply against the pale blue Qiana shirt. He was in very good shape for a man in his mid-forties. He took one of the bags from Boyd.

“Thanks Earl,” Boyd said as he lifted a briefcase out of the trunk with his free hand. “It’s been a hell of a night.”

Earl smiled and clapped his hand on Boyd’s shoulder.

Inside the house, Earl put the bag down and locked the front door. “You guys look good,” he said. “Tired, but good. C’mere.” Earl grabbed Len and hugged him fiercely.

“It’s good to see you Earl.” Len smiled and hugged the tall man back.

“And Boyd,” Earl said shaking his hand. “You’re looking sharper each time I see you.”

“Damn straight,” Boyd said smiling.

Earl’s smile fell as he inspected Bradley and his slack, drooling, face. “Len, let’s take… it… to the basement. Boyd, drop your bags off in Len’s old room, we’ve got an extra cot set up in there.”

As Earl, Len, and Bradley walked down a hallway, the walls covered with happy family photos, he added, “And pour us some drinks. I bet you two could use it.”

“Solid, Earl.”

Earl pulled out a key ring and unlocked a large deadbolt in a door at the end of the hallway. The door looked heavier than the average tract home door.

“Did Jess make it home ok?” Len asked as they stepped through the door. He flicked a switch and light filled the depths of the square cement basement.

“Yeah,” Earl said, leading the way down a flight of wooden stairs. “Everyone’s home and tucked in their beds. Jo wanted to wait up for you but I think she realized I wanted some man-to-man, time with you.”

In the corner of the basement was a cage. Earl had the door open and Len was fastening manacles on Bradley’s legs and neck.

“Uh-oh,” Len said with a laugh. “What’d I do now?”

“Nothing like that Len.” Earl smiled. “I just missed you.”

As Earl and Len returned upstairs Boyd was relaxing in the living room with a glass in his hand and his feet crossed out in front of him.

“I saw you had some single malt so I poured us the good stuff.” Boyd said.

“From what Jess said,” Earl said. “You two deserve it.”

“Liquor and air conditioning,” Boyd said. “Life is good.”

Len pulled off his shoes and collapsed on the couch. He took a long drink and sighed. Earl sat down next to him. In this moment he looked old.

“So,” Earl said softly. “That’s the guy that wanted to touch my daughter.”

Boyd sat up and leaned forward.

“No,” he said taking a drink. “That asshole is dead. The thing downstairs is digesting the guy who liked to touch little girls.”

“I know,” Earl said as he sipped his own drink. “It’s just… seeing his face.” His eyes flashed. “He looks disgusting.”

“She did great Earl,” Len said easily. “You should be proud.”

“And,” Boyd said sitting back again. “Len made sure we got there early. Just to make sure nothing went wrong.”

“I know.” Earl rubbed the back of his neck. “You guys are pros.”

“But she gave you a world of shit when she came home didn’t she?” Boyd, grinning, pointed at him with his glass.

“Yeah.” Earl grimaced.

“She said she was going to give you the treatment.” Len said.

“You big softie.” Boyd said.

They sat in silence for a good minute. Finally Earl said tonelessly, “Did you hurt the bastard Len? Before the ritual, I mean.”


“Good man.” Earl downed his scotch.

“But Jess is the one that really put a hurting on him,” Boyd said laughing. “I still cringe thinking about it.”

“She told me.” Earl smiled.

Len refilled the three glasses. Earl leaned over the coffee table and picked up a manila folder before sitting back down.

“Here’s the next stage of your assignment,” he said passing the folder to Len. “You leave tomorrow afternoon.”

“Well, at least we get to sleep in.” Len said flipping through the papers.

“I don’t think they decided how they want to play this until today. I think they’re giving you the whole mission.”

“About fucking time,” Len passed the folder to Boyd. “Barstow. I hate Barstow.”

“We’re the best team they’ve got,” Boyd smiled. “It’s in our blood.”

“They’re not doubting your family legacies,” Earl said as an orange tabby jumped on his lap. He scratched the tabby under its chin. “Your ages may concern them a bit but any serious reticence comes from the fact that there’s only the two of you in your cell.”

“Shit man,” Boyd said resting his hands behind his head. “Good help is hard to find.”

“It’s only been six months since Susie and Chuck became…” Len smirked. “Unfit.”

“And the two assholes that director, Hawthorne, assigned us,” Boyd shook his head. “They were a fucking joke.”

“Yeah,” Earl laughed. “I heard what happened.”

“One Sunday morning, the fuckers took ritual sacrament made from the fruiting body of a Mi-Go, mixed it with peyote—they had been raving about some book written by this asshole from UCLA—and decided they didn’t need an initiated priest to guide the ritual.” Len fumed.

“And while they were tripping,” Boyd downed the last of his second drink. “They got twenty-three sticks of dynamite from our arsenal, drove to the closest Baptist church and blew themselves and most of the congregation up.”

“But not before stopping by a ‘We Be Toys’ store and spray painting ‘Hail Cthulhu!’” Len raised his hands in mock prayer. “On the side of the building.”

“Some people aren’t cut out for this life.” Boyd said. “You got to watch out for the weird ones.”

“I heard Hawthorne’s been reassigned.” Earl said.

“About fucking time.” Len said.

“The boy’s getting tired,” Boyd grinned as he put his glass down on the table. “He’s repeating himself.”

“How are Susie and Chuck?” Earl asked.

“Susie’s a free agent.” Len filled his glass and motioned the bottle to Boyd.

“Two’s my limit tonight.”

“Three’s mine,” Len said. “Her transformation is complete but most people can’t see through the veil she weaves. She’s in, at least, two worlds at once. All the time.”

“She’s ok by herself though?” Earl asked.

“She’s fine. No good in the field but she’s functional. Weird, but functional. Damn good at catching the lines of synchronicity.”

Len rubbed his eyes. “She hinted we’d be getting more cell members soon enough. She said something like, ‘night makes right, more will appear by the end of the year.’ Something like that.”

“What about Chuck?” Earl asked.

“He’s still excellent at what he does but the sanitarium is the best place for him right now.”

“Gentlemen,” Boyd said as he stood up. “I’m going to crash. Slaughtering clergy tires me the fuck out.”

Len sat quietly next to his surrogate father, finishing his drink. Finally he said, “It’s good to be home.”

“We miss you when you’re not here,” Earl said. “I don’t think a week goes by that Jo doesn’t sigh at the dinner table saying that dinner isn’t the same without you around.” The tabby sauntered from Earl’s lap to Len’s. “Asenath missed you too,” Earl laughed.

“I don’t know why I’m feeling so…” Len sat up and looked at Earl. “Don’t take this wrong, I love and miss you guys but I’m not homesick like this. Ever.”

“It’s been just about five years since your folks died. Jo and I were devastated.” Earl looked at his feet as he ran his hand through his hair. “Tom and Donna were our closest and oldest friends. We tried to be strong for you but it was hard.”

“And I was such a little shit,” Len said.

“Stop it,” Earl looked up at Len. “You weren’t any nastier than any other 16 year old who just lost both his parents would be. You had a gods-damned right to be angry. But my point is you channeled that anger.”

“We were afraid you might, out of anger, pick on Jess but you protected her and loved her right from the start.” Earl smiled and leaned back into the couch. “We thought you might hurt yourself, or at least look for situations to hurt yourself, but all you’ve done is work your ass off to be the best at what you do. Maybe you work too hard.”

“What do you mean?” Len asked.

“You just turned 21. You and Boyd, your childhood friend, are not only the leaders, but also the only members of your cell, and you’ve been given some of the most important missions our order has to give. You’ve been running non-stop for five years. It doesn’t surprise me that you’ve overloaded and just want to hide out at home for awhile.”

“I’m not sure whether that means I’ve kicked ass or fucked up.” Len laughed.

Earl pointed at Len, “It means you’ve kicked amazing ass but you need to be really honest with yourself so you don’t fuck up.” Earl smiled. “Tom would be really proud of you. You remind me a lot of him. Having you around is like having a son and my best friend back at the same time.”

“Maybe I’ll take a vacation when this is done.” Len said.

“And get some more cell members.” Earl squeezed Len’s shoulder. “So you and Boyd will have some backup. You’re pushing your luck as it is.”

“You know,” Earl said. “In another couple of years Jess could be in a cell. At least as a junior member.”

“She should go to college or something.” Len said.

“You know that the Order, and especially the Mosaic, will provide her with the best education.” Earl said smiling. “What are you afraid of Len?”

“I don’t want her to get hurt.”

“Len,” Earl said. “Life’s fatal—especially for people like us but I can’t think of anyone I’d trust with Jessica’s safety more than you and Boyd.”

Len just stroked Asenath behind her ears.

“You should get some sleep,” Earl said getting up. “But one last thing. Jo and I fell in love in our cell. We worked well together and watched each other’s back. It turned out great. I think you know what I’m saying.”

Seven o’clock and Jessica was getting ready for school. She reached behind her neck, adjusted the strap of her halter-top, and admired herself in the bathroom mirror.

Pretty damn hot, if I do say so myself, she thought reaching for her lipstick. I look exactly as I did in his dream last night.

For six nights now she had projected her spirit form into Bobby Voss’ dreams. Bobby, a freshman at her high school, wasn’t particularly noteworthy in any way except that he radiated physical vitality—vitality that Jessica wanted to use.

She reached into the medicine cabinet and pulled out the straight razor her father gave her. He’s a perfect subjecttoo meek to cause any problems. She sat on the lid of the toilet, pulled up her mini-skirt, and inspected the sigil she had lightly carved into her shaved pubic area. She had embedded an identical sigil into Bobby’s dream self. Once the week of dreams was complete the sigils would be linked.

She rotated the straight razor and watched the electric light of the bulb reflect off the blade.

If he hasn’t fantasized about me before, I’ll definitely drive him over the edge today.

She pulled her skirt up higher. Tonight he’ll jack-off to thoughts of me. She sliced the razor lightly into her left palm. And when he cums. She rubbed the blood clockwise into the sigil. His energy will flow into me.

She licked the wound on her palm and smiled.

Maybe I’ll just call him “Texaco.”

After the blood had dried, Jessica pulled her skirt back down, cleaned and put away the razor, and made sure she was presentable.

Maybe I’ll go wake up Len and show him my outfit.

 “Len,” Jess whispered sitting on Len’s old bed. Earl and Jo had turned his room into a guest-room, but they had kept a few things the same. “Are you awake?”

“Wha..?” Len started.

“I’m sorry.” Jess said. “Mom told me to let you sleep but I wanted to see you before you left. I’m sorry.”

“It’s all right,” Len whispered, looking over at Boyd’s snoring body. “I’m glad you woke me.”

“The rest of last night went ok?”

“Without a hitch.” Len yawned.

“Cool.” After a few moments she grabbed his hand. “Promise me you’re going to be careful Len.”

“Yeah. Of course.” He said squeezing back.

“I heard Mom and Dad talking this morning. This sounds really big.”

“Don’t worry.” Len said smiling. “We’re not going to let anything happen that we don’t will to happen.”

“Tough talker.” Jess laughed.

“I could ask you to be careful too,” Len said leaning back in bed, his arms behind his head.

“What do you mean?” Jess asked.

“I can smell blood magic on you.” He smirked.

“It’s just kid stuff,” Jess smiled innocently. “You know.”

“Yeah. I know all right.” Len laughed. “A little taste of power. Just don’t get cocky.”

“Well, don’t get bossy!” She hit his shoulder.

“Why don’t the two of you shut the fuck up?” Boyd said from his cot.

“Sorry Boyd.” Jess said.

“Uh-huh.” Boyd covered his head with the blanket.

“Jess,” Len hugged Jess. “I’ll miss you. Take care.”

“You too.” Jess held him tight.

“Cool outfit, by the way.”

Jess smiled.

In what seemed like only a brief moment there was another knock at the door.

“Uhh.” Len moaned. “Come in.”

“Good morning gentlemen,” an attractive brunette woman opened the door, picked up a tray with two mugs on it and stood at the doorway. “Time to get up.”

“Morning Jo,” Len said sitting up his bed. “Is it still morning? What time is it?”

“Eleven o’clock.” Jo stepped into the room and put the tray on a dresser. “It would have been nice if we could’ve had a day or two with you”

“I want to get our basement guest delivered quickly.” Len said. “But I was telling Earl maybe I’ll come home for a vacation once this is done.”

“That would make me very happy.” She handed a mug to Len and went over to Boyd’s cot with the other one. “Wake up Boyd.”

Boyd rolled towards her, opened one eye, and smiled.

“Now you’re the prettiest alarm clock I’ve had in ages.” He propped himself up on one elbow. “And coffee too. I could fall in love with you.”

“Good to see you too Boyd.” Jo laughed and handed him the coffee. “Come on down when you’re ready.”

“Thanks Jo.” Len said, sipping his coffee.

“Breakfast is ready whenever you want it and there are fresh towels in the bathrooms.”

Bradley. Brah-Duh-Leeeeee. He was starting to understand the barbaric sounds of meat language a bit better. The pain of an un-dynamic, constant, limited, SHIT-FILLED, DEVOLVED, UNISEXED, MONKEY-BODY, was beginning to subside and thoughts and memories were beginning to swim around it. He remembered dancing through the Hyades. He remembered, what seemed to be dreams of, leading a congregation, feeling shame and hating himself while he used their trust. The shame and hatred of his current existence swam over him, locking the dreams into reality. He laughed a monkey laugh and rattled his chains, saying “Bradley! Brad—Lee! Bradley!”

He heard the door at the top of the stairs open and stopped, crouched low, and waited for who was approaching. He recognized the smell of his summoner before he fully saw him. Another offspring of failed experiments, albeit one that wasn’t quite a failure. This one could almost be a brother. That fact made Bradley want to kill him even more. Too bad that wasn’t an option.

The summoner walked to the door of the cell, carrying a tray of dead, burnt, food and some folded clothes. He sat the tray and clothes down on the floor, looked at Bradley and said, “Do you know who you are?”

“Bradley Shit-Monkey,” Bradley sneered. “Father Shit-Slinger.”

“Don’t even think it.” The summoner said. “I know you’re in a lot of pain and I know you blame me. But soon enough you’ll remember that Hastur has plans for both of us.”

Bradley gaped.

“That’s right,” the summoner said reaching for something in the front pocket of his jeans. “I said his name. That shit’s not taboo for me. Do you understand?”

Bradley fell back on his ass, crossed his legs in front of him and smiled ingratiatingly. The summoner held up a small vial filled with a green ichor.

“Know what this is Bradley?”

“Yes.” He licked his lips.

“I brought the ichor of Alar because I know this is tough for you and because this will help you out.” The summoner handed it to Bradley who took it with almost steady hands.

“Remember,” the summoner said. “We’re on the same team. Save your rage for those who deserve it.”

The liquid soothed his nerves, and calmed his hatred. His memory widened. “My name is Bradley Taylor, old friend of Jason Armitage, Catholic priest, and one horny bastard.” He rubbed his crotch and licked his lips, “This body is hungry.”

“You can have some food at least,” the summoner opened the door and brought the tray in. “Anything else will have to wait until much later.”

Bradley surprised himself by not wanting to kill as the summoner released him from his chains. Then, Bradley was surprised how good the monkey food tasted.

“And when you’re done eating,” the summoner put the clothes next to Bradley. “You can put these on. If you put them on without my help, I’ll give you another vial.”

Bradley continued to watch the summoner while he ate. He watched the summoner close and lock the door of his cell and then climb the stairs. As he heard the door latch he thought, This is far more fascinating than I thought it would be. And as he turned to jack-off on the wall he thought, Possibly a lot more fun too.

“You know,” Boyd said as he closed the trunk of his Lincoln. “You guys always feed me.” He leaned against his car, folding his arms in front of him. “When this is over, I’m going to fix you an Eggs Benedict breakfast with my homemade hollandaise.”

“We look forward to it,” Earl shook Boyd’s hand. “Does this mean you’ve been able to teach Len how to cook?”

“Hell no,” Boyd laughed. “Len’s challenged by canned foods.” He motioned towards the front door of the house. “Speak of the devil.”

Len led Bradley into the passenger seat of his Mach 1, closed the door and walked over to the others.

“Nice timing,” Boyd said. “We just finished loading all your bags. What the fuck is all the extra stuff for anyway?”

“Just had a gut ‘hit’ that I should bring some extra stuff. We may not need it.” Len answered.

“Was he able to dress himself?” Asked Jo.

“Yeah,” Len grinned and shook his head. “It’s going to be a long trip though.”

Jo gave Len a hug and kissed him on the cheek, “Be careful.”

“We’ll give you a call once we get briefed in Barstow.” Len said.

“Let us know if you guys need anything.” Earl said hugging Len.

“Will do.”

Len watched his surrogate parents go back inside before turning to Boyd, “How do you want to play this?”

“Our cargo is too important to take any chances with, especially with cops,” Boyd put his sunglasses on. “You know what the fuzz is like between here and California.”

“Yeah. Fuckers.”

“How about I scout ahead, staying a quarter to a half mile in front. If there’re any hostiles—of any kind—I signal you and you either pull over and wait for me to finish getting my ticket or drive on by in a respectful and law abiding way while they’re busy with me.”

“Ok, but if there’s anything weird up ahead.,” Len said. “Anything that doesn’t look right, you signal and I come up fast on whatever’s there.”

“Chill baby,” Boyd said laughing. “I don’t think we’re going to have any problems that dramatic.”

“Hope so,” Len opened the door to his car and slid in. “Standard signals?”

“Yeah.” Boyd smiled. “By the way, your handle is ‘Dancing Machine’ for this trip.”

“That’s horrible.” Len said chuckling. “Now I don’t feel so bad tagging you with ‘Astro-Medallion.’”

Outside the city limits, the interstate rolled smoothly under their wheels.

Len’s CB squawked.

“You’re a lucky man, ‘Dancing Machine’. Over.” Boyd said.

“How’s that ‘Astro-Medallion’? Over.”

“Papa Bear and Mama Bear. They love you man. It’s good to see that you let them. Over.”

“It was hard at first. I was a hard little punk when my folks died. I don’t think I would’ve let anybody in. No matter how cool they were. Over.”

“They’re cool alright. And I still think Jo’s a fox. Over.”

“They wore me down alright,” Len laughed. “And if you ever bring the right girl over, they might be willing to swing with you. They’re way into that. But you got to give to get. Over”

Boyd laughed. “I’ll keep that in mind. Over.”

“Hell,”  Len said. “Bradley’s got to take a piss. Over”

“I thought he went before we left. Over.”

“He did. There’s a black water and motion lotion stop a couple of exits from here. You pull in to the gas side and check your engine. I’ll follow behind and take Bradley to the diner. Hell I could use some coffee anyway. Over.”

“Roger. 10-10, catch you later.”

Len saw Boyd, pretending to check something under his hood, as he pulled into the parking lot of the diner and gas station. He slid his Ford into a parking slot and turned to Bradley.

“Ok. In and out and no scene. You go to the bathroom. I buy a coffee to go from the counter. Then we leave.”

“Doughnut.” Bradley leered. “I want a doughnut.”

“That’s cool,” Len nodded. “I’ll get you a doughnut if they’ve got one.”

“In and out,” Bradley said as he got out of the car.

The diner was almost half full. Families travelling to California for vacation and truckers. As Bradley walked towards the sign saying “Restrooms” Len headed to the waitress standing at the cash register.

“Can you get me a chocolate doughnut and a coffee to go?” Len pulled his wallet out.

“Sure thing,” said the waitress who was named “Sally” by her nametag. Sally poured the coffee and placed the paper cup in front of Len before getting the doughnut from a glass covered tray. “Most people just use the restroom without buying anything. We appreciate the gesture.” Sally put the doughnut in a white paper bag and placed it on the counter.

“No problem,” Len said handing her a couple of dollars. “Keep the change.”


Len finished added cream and sugar to his coffee when Bradley came back.

“Here’s your doughnut Brad.”

“In and out.”

As they exited the diner Boyd closed his hood, got back in his car and pulled back onto the interstate. Len blew on his coffee for a few minutes, put the lid back on, placed the coffee between his legs and followed behind.

They drove a few miles before breaking silence.

“Astro-Medallion, this is Dancing Machine. Come back. Over.”

“Copy Dancing Machine. Over.”

“There’s someone coming up fast on my… Shit!” Len yelled, throwing his coffee out the window. “Code intercept! This four-wheeler’s shooting my back door.”