The Rose Parade route begins on Orange Grove Avenue in Pasadena and continues past a mansion once owned by the founder of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Besides being a rocket scientist, John Whiteside (Jack) Parsons was also a devotee of the infamous English occultist Aleister Crowley. Science-fiction writer and future founder of Scientology L. Ron Hubbard was a frequent house guest and would often participate in the occult rituals and “sex magick” ceremonies Parsons would hold in his living room. The goal was to conjure the anti-messiah who would overthrow Judeo-Christian civilization and lead Earth to a new Aeon.
Mrs. Doris Frawley, the oldest patient at the City of Roses Psychiatric Institute, told Sancho she came to California from Arkansas in 1948. She was fourth runner up in the Miss Arkansas pageant and her ambition was to become a movie star. Instead, she dated both Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard and in 1952 gave birth to the Anti-Christ. Every day she told Sancho how sorry she was for bringing so much evil into the world. Every. Single. Day. And Sancho was starting to believe her. He had worked at the hospital for two years now and it wasn’t getting any easier. The nightshift always kicked his ass and he never seemed to be able to get enough sleep.
Sancho dragged his tired twenty-two-year-old butt across the parking lot and fantasized about climbing into his saggy sofa bed. He bought the beige micro-suede futon at a garage sale. The sheets hadn’t been changed in weeks. There were unknown, unnamed crumbs everywhere, but he didn’t care. He just wanted to be horizontal.
Sancho spotted his rusty, dented red ‘92 Mustang next to a gleaming BMW 760i. The Beemer’s gotta belong to a doctor, thought Sancho. Fuckers make a fucking fortune. I gotta make some changes. Gotta buckle down. Otherwise I’m gonna be wiping the asses of nutcases for the next forty fucking years.
Sancho climbed into his beater and sighed. Fast food bags, empty soda cans, and old newspapers covered the seats and the floor. He turned the key and after a few tries, the old engine finally kicked over. The muffler roared. It obviously had a hole in it, and he knew he had to fix it, but somehow, he just never got around to it. He turned on the radio and blasted heavy metal to drown the muffler out. Then he hit the gas and got his ass out of there.
The bored guard at the front gate raised the wooden arm and waved at Sancho as he pulled through. Sancho waved back. The guard, Bill Keeler, a forty-five-year-old pear-shaped guy with a bad complexion and receding hairline was always telling Sancho about his sexual conquests. Sancho didn’t know whether to believe him or not. Was it bullshit? Or was Bill just banging the old, the fat, and fugly? Not that Bill was any prize. Maybe he just had a great rap. It pissed Sancho off to think that Bill might be getting more chocho than him.
Sancho yawned as he pulled out onto the highway. He looked at the Styrofoam cup in his holder and made a decision to try some of that old, cold coffee. Anything to stay awake. He took a sip and made a face and wondered if Coffee-mate ever went bad. Can it give you food poisoning? What the hell was Coffee-mate anyway? As quickly as the question entered his mind, it flitted away. He turned up the heavy metal and took another sip. Something gritty rolled on his tongue and he wondered if it was a bug. Suddenly, he felt a hand on his shoulder. He involuntarily squeezed the coffee cup, popping the plastic top off, spilling java all over his hospital pants.
“What is that bloody music?”
Sancho jerked around. James Flynn sat in the back seat, his tuxedo all dusty and wrinkled.
“What the hell?”
James leaned over the front seat and turned off the radio. Sancho couldn’t believe Flynn would have the guts to touch his radio.
“How the hell did you get in here?”
“The door was unlocked. I didn’t think you’d mind.” James peeled a Big Mac wrapper off the front of his tux. “But Sancho, seriously, this car is a pigsty.”
“Dude, they’re looking everywhere for you.
“Of course they are. They want me dead.”
“You know who.”
“Dude, I don’t.”
“If I knew, why would I be asking you?”
“Only you know the answer to that one, my friend,” Flynn said.
“But I don’t!”
“Tell me this then, Sancho. Do you know what a mole is?”
The topic of the conversation had changed so abruptly, Sancho had trouble finding his bearings. “Isn’t it that like a big freckle with a hair growing out of it?”
“I’m talking about a spy. An enemy agent who has infiltrated our organization at the highest level.” Sancho sighed and pulled out a cell phone. “Who are you calling?”
“I gotta let ‘em know where you—” James put Sancho in a choke hold, seizing him from behind. Sancho looked panicked and terrified, swerving as he struggled to stay in control of the car. His face turned purple and his eyes bugged from his head. Flynn ripped the cell phone from Sancho’s grasp and threw it out the open window. Sancho’s voice was tight, strangled. “Hey, hey, hey, let go…Let. Go!”
Still choking him, Flynn demanded, “Are you working for the other side?”
“No way, man,” he said hoarsely. “I’m your friend! I’m not one of them!”
James locked eyes with him in the Mustang’s rear-view mirror. “If you’re lying to me I’ll find out and when I do—”
Sancho’s lips turned midnight blue. “Honest to God, dude, I’m on your side!”
Flynn let Sancho go. He coughed and hacked and desperately sucked down oxygen as he pulled over to the side of the road.
“Sorry, Sancho. Sometimes it’s hard to know who to trust.” Sancho nodded and rubbed his throat. “We have to find Q and Dulcie before they break them. They’re likely interrogating them, doing God knows what to them.”
“For the mind control technology, obviously.”
“Riiiiiight.” Sancho nodded, going along with him as if Flynn actually made sense.
Flynn pulled out a scrap of paper. “I found an address for Dulcie in Grossfarber’s database. Unfortunately, I found nothing for Q.” James climbed over into the front, shoving Sancho into the passenger seat.
“Hey, hey what are you doing?”
“Do you carry a gun?”
“No, man, I don’t have a gun.”
“Neither do I, but luckily, I have this.” James reached into a pocket and pulled out a black and silver laser pointer.
“Looks can be deceiving, my friend. It’s actually a high-intensity laser that can cut through virtually anything. Q loaned it to me just last week.” Sancho reached for the pointer, but Flynn kept it out of his grasp. “Careful, Sancho, this miracle of technology can slice through an engine block like a chainsaw through Jell-O.” Sancho looked a little dumbfounded as James tucked the laser pointer away. He shifted into drive and hit the gas, burning what was left of the rubber on Sancho’s bald tires.