~ EL HEAD ~
Chapter 1 · Chapter 2 · Chapter 3 · Chapter 4 · Chapter 5 · Chapter 6 ·
Chapter 7 · Chapter 8 · Chapter 9 · Chapter 10 · Chapter 11 · Chapter 12 · Chapter 13 · Chapter 14 · Chapter 15 · Chapter 16 ·
Chapter 17 · Chapter 18 · Chapter 19 · Chapter 20 · Chapter 21 · Chapter 23 · Chapter24 · Chapter25 · Chapter 26 ·
Chapter 27 · Chapter 28 · Chapter 29
CHAPTER 22 :DONEGAL IN THE DEN
"There will be Whores and rumors of Whores, but do not be alarmed, for these things must come to Pissant,
but it will not be the end!"
Gospel According to Matthew, translation by Donegal Ryan
December 12, 1870
There was a voice in Ryan's head, one of many actually, but this particular voice advised on courses of action which were rational and sound. He believed this to be the voice of God or at least Michael. It is not for us to say if it were or wasn't but more than likely it was the sane remnant of his mind talking to the ninety percent which had been damaged by lead, mercury and radiation.
This voice, the voice of reason, if you will, told Ryan that the time was not yet ready for him to reveal himself as a Prophet and his followers as disciples. He needed an army of believers before he could parade up a busy thoroughfare just as bold as he pleased and shout that he was God's last Prophet.
To avoid suspicion, he had instructed his followers to play as performers and maintenance crews of a medicine show. He developed what talents he saw and made the untalented do the menial chores.
On December 14 1871, Dr. Ryan's Fantastical Medicine Show entered Bagdad, Arizona. Bringing up the very front of the small parade was Jeff Justice Bolane, resplendent in his pure white reptile leather outfit. He sat upon Binky the Gila Monster and twirled his highly polished six shooters. Behind him were two covered wagons, the canvas of which were painted scenes of miraculous healings and of various entertainments, such as jugglers, clowns, sword swallowers, strong men and various other such acts.
Clowns and jugglers capered on the sides of the wagons and four smiling young maidens dressed in chitons, sandals and flower wreaths handed out handbills denoting the times of the shows. They would take place outside of town to avoid any legal difficulties.
Ryan had organized the shows to take place over a three day period, in three stages, Infection, Incubation and Incarnation.
The first day would be pure two hours of pure entertainment, trick shooting, clowns, animal tricks, sword swallowing, juggling and other things of that sort. To wrap it all up, Ryan would give a talk.
Ryan had modified his mode of dress since his time in the Wilderness, even his deluded mind had seen that it discouraged people from taking him seriously.
He devised a ten gallon hat which fit over his bloodthorns, absorbed the blood and caught the molted bloodthorns using cotton and soft mesh fabric. He was well groomed and dressed in white suit with matching pants and black boots. His beard was trimmed and shaped and his teeth were polished.
Dr.Ryan's talk was a combination temperance lecture, an analysis of poor, tired blood and the ineffectiveness of new fashions of cures, he mocked water treatments, vegetarianism, electric treatments and purgative treatments. He attributed the sickness of the body with the moral decay of society and told the people of Bagdad that there were two effective treatments, faith in God and the Bible and Dr. Ryan's Sure Fire Cure All Tonic, taken together and often would make a life healthy and long.At the end of his lecture, the four pretty maidens in chitons and flower wreaths moved through the crowd handing out bottles of Dr. Ryan's Sure Fire Cure All Tonic.8
"Folks, I am so certain that my tonic will cure all your ills that I am willing to let each and everyone of you receive a free bottle, it's even good for the kiddies, it'll make 'em grow tall and strong or pretty and well formed. All I ask is that you try some tonight and perhaps buy a bottle tomorrow, after the show of course."
Grinning, Donegal bowed and stepped off stage and into the back of the wagon.
Once out of sight, Ryan removed his ten gallon hat and took out the wad of wet cotton and handed it to one of his female followers. The cloth would be rinsed, the diluted blood and bloodthorns salvaged to be used in preparation of the tonic.
Putting in a new cloth, Ryan sat the ten gallon hat on his head and climbed out through the front of the wagon.
He gave instructions to his third in command of the troupe, a scrawny man in his early fifties named Fredericks, who had been a career soldier stuck in the quartermaster's corps. Although entirely without a commanding presence or any innate sense of authority, Fredericks loved to be in charge. It amused Ryan place Fredericks in charge of important tasks such as the Tonic preparation because it irritated many of the others, especially when Fredericks launched into his long, droning boring story of how he had once saved the army fifty cents a man in his regiment by refusing to dispense unnecessary ammunition in the midst of a battle.
Another trait of Fredericks was his aversion to washing, so Ryan in a perverse humor had put him in charge of the laundry.
Ryan found Jeff Justice Bolane feeding a small rabbit to Binky the Gila Monster. Ryan had a carpeted sample case in his hands, he handed this off to Bolane, saying "Feel like a little expedition into the dark heart of the city?
As usual Bolane frowned, Ryan never knew if Bolane was really slow on the uptake or just gave people that impression to put them off guard.
"Why are we going in town?"
Ryan smiled and hooted a laugh." Think of yourself as a missionary bringing light to the heathen or more accurately as a muckraker in the service of God. You want to clean up all the crap, you might as well start in the cesspool. That is unless they mess in their pants!" Donegal Ryan laughed all the way to the buckboard at that small joke.
"Won't this look bad for your image?" Bolane asked Ryan as he took hold of the reins.
"Even the most hardened sinner deserves a chance at redemption. You want to find a hardcore sinner, you go where there is some hardcore sin. Ryan looked about and saw that no one was in earshot. "Besides, I've been living as a holy man so long, I've forgotten what a sinner feels like, so I figure I should experience some sin first hand." Ryan licked his lips and winked at Bolane.
Bolane shook his head in disgust and continued to drive the buckboard. It was not his place to question the workings of God but Bolane believed that Prophet Donegal Ryan was certainly second rate material for a holy man.
In a few moments after entering Bagdad they found the red light district which consisted of two buildings across the street from one another. Both were apparently saloons with upstairs brothels but the Deep Shaft seemed to be a casino as well. Bolane figured that since this was were you got more sin for your buck, Donegal Ryan would want to go into this one.
He turned to ask him and found Donegal Ryan sitting transfixed but he did not seem to be in a visionary trance. Re was staring at the other sin parlor. This was a three story wood frame building which was slightly skewed and lean slightly to the left. The name was The Leaning Tower of Pissant.
"Now I know the meaning of that revelation." Ryan whispered in a rush of excitement."
Knowing he would catch hell for it Bolane asked which revelation.
"You remember my new translation of Matthew, Chapter 24, verse 6?"
Ryan turned and glared at Bolane, his look sent daggers into Bolane's eyes. With a moan, Bolane clapped his hands over his dark glasses and massaged the sore eyes beneath.
"The verse goes, There will be whores and rumors of whores but do not be alarmed these things must come to Pissant, proof that she will be in there."
Bolane knew better than to press his luck by asking whom. He had never heard of the verse Ryan had quoted since Ryan had neglected to write that one down or tell anyone of it as of yet. He often did things like that, a fragmented and spotty memory was a small price to pay for talking to God and the angels.
They tied off the buckboard and went over to the Leaning Tower of Pissant, which seemed to get the business which the Deep Shaft did not. It was shabby and unpainted, its swinging doors hung askew.
Ryan pushed through the doors and was surprised that the interior was in much better shape than the outside. The walls were painted and hung with paintings, although there was no mirror behind the bar which was made of pine varnish to a high gloss. It was clean however and there were several tables filled with men playing games, drinking in groups or alone or flirting with a dance hall hostess, the latter seemed to be a premium.
Ryan and Bolane caught the attention of the entire saloon as they entered. A burly man in a suit, pants and hat made of white scaly leather who wore smoked glasses even at night and a tall, thin man also dressed in a white suit and pants although of flannel. Ryan and Bolane walked up to the bar and set the sample case on the bar.
The bartender was a thickset man of his early thirties from his scarred and calloused hands Ryan figured him to be a former miner. He finished wiping a polishing a glass and put it back in its place in the cupboard behind the bar before walking over the Bolane and Ryan. His voice was courteous if he demeanor was not he gave them a slightly sour look. "Can I help you gents?"
"Couple of whiskies will do for a start"
Relaxing the bartender smiled, "Oh, alright then, you boys are customers, I thought you were a couple of salesmen, ready to pitch my ear off and not take no for an answer. Ryan lifted his glass after it was poured and swallowed it one soft gurgle.
As Ryan passed his glass back to the bartender, he said, "We are indeed salesmen, but we sell salvation for the body and the soul"
"Oh, I should have recognized you, you fellers are with that medicine show." The bartender frowned, "I thought you was a temperance man too."
Taking a sip of his whisky, Ryan said, "Temperance does not mean total abstinence but merely moderation. I preach moderation in all things except love of God."
"That sure is pretty," piped a high pitched nasal voice which made Ryan wince. He turned to see a woman on the far side of thirty, plain as bread pudding. She was in fact the first woman of her age who Ryan had ever seen wearing spectacles.
"Now Maggie, leave these two men alone, they're Preachers"
"I don't think I like your tone, Curtis, I am a good Christian woman, myself. I study the bible every day, I just don't go to church because I don't care for the way they conduct their services and because their interpretations of the scriptures is all wrong. All them Churches are wrong as far as I'm concerned and all them misled people will be going to hell."
The woman, whose name Ryan understood to be Maggie paused long enough in her screeching tirade to take a sip from Ryan's whiskey and place her hand on Ryan's arm. Squeezing slightly, she looked into his eyes with a hint of warmth.
"Besides which I like preachers, I really like them because when they get that holy spirit working inside them they can accomplish all kinds of miracles. I remember the first preacher I ever had made me see heaven three times in one night, which is more than my dear departed ever did, God rest his damned soul. He died in a state of sin on the battlefield of glory."
Ryan looked this woman over as she talked. Her hair was brown with streaks of gray worn fairly short in an upswept fashion but held only by one comb in the back. Although she had a mannish face she tried to disguise the fact with generous applications of rouge and powder. Proportionally she was slight on top and exceedingly generous downwards.
Ryan was startled to discover that she had a wooden leg from knee down on her left leg. Her dress was much more modest than the other hostesses being high necked with no décolletage, not that she would have had any cleavage to reveal. The dress was a dark wine color with crimson trim. She was however adorned with jewelry, having a pearl studded choker that she wore over her dress collar, diamond earrings and golden bracelets and a golden cross necklace.
The revelation was true. She matched much of the scripture as set down by John of Patmos. Any differences were undoubtedly due to God changing His mind and to mistranslations.
Ryan shuddered at God's joke. Here was the Whore of Babylon, ugly as sin and with an annoying voice to boot. It was going to be a very long Apocalypse. He would have to search the scriptures to see if there were some prohibition against cutting her tongue out. He forced himself to the task at hand.
Taking Ryan's silence for a rebuff, Maggie moved off towards another table. Bolane followed her movements with avid fascination.
Curtis the bartender freshened Ryan's drink. "She certainly is something isn't she? God, I wish some deaf, blind sap would up and marry her and get her out of this damned town."
"What's her story?"
"Give her a half hour and she'll tell you at least five times. The woman never shuts up." Curtis suddenly smiled and chuckled. "Well, that's not quite true."
"Well, how, I sure would like to know. I can hear that caterwauling voice clear over to here. Once you hear it it never stays out of your head." Ryan said shuddering slightly for effect.
"Tell me about it, Reverend." Curtis said with a shake of his head. He pursed his lips and said, "I don't know as I should tell you the one sure method of shutting her up, you being a man of God and all".
"Sin must be experienced, confronted, acknowledged and vanquished before it can be forgiven. 5:1 Torquemada
Curtis frowned, "Can't say I ever heard of that one, but then I ain't a real religious sort. Well, you have to shut Maggie's mouth up by sticking something in it. She ain't called Maggie the Mouth just because she talks so damn much. As a matter of fact, most gents would rather get that particular service from her than any other."
Bolane looked back at Maggie and licked his lips. "Is she like a dead fish or something, just laying there and smelling bad?"
"No, she acts like a monkey with its ass on fire, hopping, clawing and screeching all over the place. Scares the bejeebus out of most folks."
"Maybe I'll have to see how that is." Bolane said, wistfully.
Ryan glared at Bolane. "No, Brother Justice you will not! Our mission is to lead her out of sin and to salvation, not to poke another stick in the fire of her damnation." Ryan pulled out two dollars and tossed them on the bar. "I will lead her in a private prayer session, even if I have to pay her to do it. While I am upstairs praying, you can distribute the free samples of tonic."
"That ain't fair." Bolane said, quietly and menacingly. He gripped the bare so tightly that his knuckles were pure white.
Ryan stared at Bolane angrily. His eyes shone with a strange light. Curtis saw his jaws tighten. Bolane's jaw also tightened and then his forehead creased in a sudden convulsive movement."
"The world is not fair and the whim of God is arbitrary. Don't you agree Brother Justice."
"Yes," Bolane answered in a hoarse gasp. Curtis was shocked to see Bolane lift his smoked glasses and wipe away two tears of blood. Bolane told Curtis to leave the bottle.
Ryan walked up to Maggie the Mouth and asked her if she would be interested in private prayer session. She excused herself from the table and walked upstairs with Ryan. On the way she told him all about the town of Bagdad and its inhabitants. She seemed to know everything about everybody.
In her room she started to shuck her dress when Ryan called for her to stop. Ryan asked to drink some of his Tonic but she said "Whatever diseases I get will be ordained by the Lord and I am not one to deny his will."
Ryan pulled out a Bible and told her was going to read from it. She shrugged and then giggled when he dropped his pants. As Maggie the Mouth demonstrated her oral skills, Ryan read aloud from the Song of Songs.
Ryan screamed out, "Your lips drip with honey, sweetmeats and milk are under your tongue!" the book fell from his hand and slammed shut as he collapsed onto her bed.
As Ryan composed himself, Maggie rinsed her mouth out with perfumed water. She walked over to him with a pencil and paper.
"Can you give me your full name?"
Ryan sat up 'What, Why!"
"For my own benefit. If you don't want to give me your real name at least give me an alias that means something to you. No Smith or Jones, please."
"Donegal Peter Ryan." Ryan said slowly. Thinking that she could do nothing with his name anyway.
Maggie wrote it down on a piece of paper and then tore the strip with the name off of it. She walked over to her cupboard and pulled out a golden chalice, which Ryan recognized from his days of being a devout Catholic. She dropped the strip of paper into the cup and put it back in the cupboard.
"She held in her hand a golden cup that was filled with the abominable and sordid deeds of her harlotry." Ryan quoted.
Maggie the Mouth smiled at Ryan, "That is where the idea came to me, if I was going to be a harlot I might as well emulate the biggest harlot of them all. I got the cup from the first man I had, besides my dear departed that is. He was a Priest, not my dear departed but the fella who gave me the cup. Father Madison had just decided to quit the Church and stole the altar equipment to finance his new life. He saw me walking the streets of Washington and thought I was a harlot."
"When he propositioned me I was shocked but then decided that since everyone believed I was a whore I might as well become one. So I gave the Father what my dear departed had always begged for but had never gotten, from me at least," Maggie's eyes misted over and she sat on the edge of the bed. "I guess I am partially to blame for what happened to my dear departed, by depriving him of marital relations albeit ones frowned upon by decent company, I drove him to the arms of the harlots.
This chance encounter with a priest proved a revelation, uncovering my true talent. By working my jaw I traveled my way west until I ended up here in the capitol of Babylon as a Whore."
Knowing that he would regret it Ryan asked Maggie how she had come to be in her fallen state.
I was born Margaret McClary. My childhood was a poor one, I was raised by my Mother after my Father ran off with a younger woman. I was fortunate enough to meet and marry Damon Parings, a wealthy young man who was Vice-President of his father's pharmaceutical company. Damon was a good provider and a deacon in his church. Yet shortly after our marriage he began demanding perverse acts from me, which I naturally refused. This situation went on for a couple of years when the war broke out. He enlisted using influence to become a staff officer. He was called to Washington where we lived for two years. His demands on me stopped because every other block in Washington had a brothel. To allay my boredom, to carry out my biblical obligations of good works and to improve my standings in the community, I volunteered to be a nurse.
Damon's regiment was called into active duty and he was sent to Antietam. He died at Fredericksburg charging a Confederate gunnery position. Unfortunately the gunnery position that he was charging was imaginary. My dear departed was in the final stages of syphilis and was quite mad. His death came when he had a heart attack fighting off phantom foes.
Shortly before this time, while working as a nurse, I had been stabbed in the leg with a blood encrusted scalpel by a Confederate prisoner. Whatever poison was in that knife, got into my leg and the doctors cut it off to save my life. These two events caused the rumor to spread that my dear departed had gotten his venereal disease from me. The rumors shamed and plagued me. His parents took actions against me to deprive me of his will and inheritance, claiming I had corrupted the character of this deacon in his church since I was of a lower class.9
"Would you like to leave this town and this life." Ryan asked.
Maggie shook her head. "Evidently God has cursed me to a whore, set my entire life up to performing that function. No, I will stay here in Babylon until I catch the disease that killed my dear departed"
Although Ryan did not really care about Maggie the Mouth's problems, he did need her to come with him. He tried to appear consoling. It has been years hasn't it? It is time to put away your mourning clothes and start a new life."
To his surprise, Maggie the Mouth laughed. "I do not consider myself a widow and I will never mourn. Another biblical quote I find appropriate. Mr. Parings left our marriage bed long before his death so I consider our marriage to have ended before that untimely event. Pay up and go or pay for the night." Ryan tossed her a five dollar gold piece and walked out of the room.
If she could not be induced into leaving Bagdad, force would be needed.
Bolane was forcing the sinners to drink the tonic by betting against them in shooting contests when Ryan found him. Bolane would jump backwards at the chosen target whereas the challenger could face the target. Bolane was careful not to beat the challenger too badly and he interspersed his wins with losses although he could easily have won every contest. The sample case was about empty when Ryan walked down stairs. Three more contests and the last two bottle were gone.
Ryan lead the drunken Bolane back to the buckboard and helped into the seat. Ryan took hold the reins. "I was right, it is her."
Blinking, Bolane asked who was who.
That girl called Maggie the Mouth, she is the Whore of Babylon. The End Times are converging and we are the hub of the Universe. She will bear the New Christ or the Antichrist. Either way will herald the Apocalypse."
"A Redeemed Whore, you dolt!. As I interpret the Revelations her past life is the part about being cast out desolate and her flesh was consumed.
"Ain't there a part about her being consumed by fire?"
"The Holy Spirit will consume her, burning away the sins on her soul so that she will be as pure a vessel to carry the New Christ as was Virgin Mary. Ryan said flicking the reins and getting the horses to move faster.
"There's only one problem. She does not want to be redeemed, she wants to stay in Babylon, I mean Bagdad. We'll probably have to bring her along without her consent."
Bolane nodded. He smiled to himself, lost in thoughts of the Whore's red lips and wide, broad posterior.
8 However prolific the production of Dr Ryan's Sure Fire Cure-All Tonic, Dr. Ryan's Herbal Tonic or Dr. Ryan's Extra Strength Tonic might have been, only a few empty bottles of each have ever been found. Chemical Analysis conducted in 1983 revealed the following ingredients; alcohol, opium, tobacco, rattlesnake venom, human blood serum, oregano, paprika, ginger and peyote. There was also a high radioactive count.
9 Damon Parings 1825-1862 was Heir to Parings Specifics, a company producing patent medicines, especially those dealing with venereal diseases. He charged a nonexistent battery of Confederate forces and died of an heart attack from overexertion. He suffered from paresis, the brain fever of tertiary syphilis.
Chapter 1 · Chapter 2 · Chapter 3· Chapter 4· Chapter 5· Chapter 6·
Chapter 7· Chapter 8· Chapter 9· Chapter 10 · Chapter 11 · Chapter 12 · Chapter 13· Chapter 14· Chapter 15· Chapter 16·
Chapter 17· Chapter 18· Chapter 19· Chapter 20 · Chapter 21 · Chapter 23· Chapter24· Chapter25· Chapter 26·
Chapter 27· Chapter 28· Chapter 29
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