A Day in the Life of an Aging Cult Leader
Ivan Stang rolled over and sat up, wiping himself dry with a wad of used tissues, and pulled on the rumpled, slightly stained white trousers he wore every day. Fumbling, he found the unfinished fropstick that had gone out in the ashtray, and the Zippo lighter on the ash-strewn nightstand.
He glanced at it briefly. It was a custom-made "Winking Lizard" lighter, a gift from Pope Lou. "Another damn gift," he mumbled, grinning crookedly as he fired up the frop. "You'd think the guy wanted to marry me or something." Stang inhaled deeply, launched himself from the bed, and padded out into the living room, combing one hand through his tangle of thin, greying hair. As he sauntered past the stereo, he punched the forward button on the tapedeck, and then went in search of something to eat. He hadn't eaten breakfast in 15 years; not until six weeks ago when he gave up cigarettes. After that, hunger drove him out of bed at impossible hours of the morning, sometimes even before noon, to forage for something to stop the incessant growling in his gut.
The horrible, twisted caterwauling of anti-music filled the apartment, as Stang began to bang through the cabinets in search of edibles; covering the sound of Ivan Stuart opening the door and sitting down in the living room, newspaper in hand.
"Can't you turn that shit down, Stang?" Stuart called over the din; but was unheard. "Stang! STANG! Turn that shit DOWN!" At this, a tangle-haired head popped out from the kitchen doorway. "Stu! How can you say that? That's ZOOGZ-RIFT! Fourth-dimensional anti-noise from the Uber-world! This is as good as it gets!" By now, Stang's eyes had begun to glitter with that frop-induced glow which invariably caused others to draw back in hesitation when he caught their eye; the look which gossip-hungry journalists attributed to the charisma of a cult leader. But Stang, realizing that Stuart had come by to talk, shuffled over to the tape deck and turned the music down to background-level.
"Thank you," said Stuart, visibly shaken by the mind-wrenching sounds crashing out of Stang's 300 watt amplifiers, which doubled as end-tables in the sparsely-furnished living room.
"So what brings you to this end of Dallas on a Monday morning - uh, afternoon?" mumbled Stang as he resumed his ruminations in the kitchen. "Ha! Special-K! That ought to go OK with Winking Lizard." The refridgerator door opened, slammed, utensils clanked, and then Stang reappeared in the doorway with a mixing bowl and a large spoon. "Want some? Cereal somehow doesn't seem so breakfasty when you cover it with Winking Lizard sauce." He dived in with the spoon, and perched on one of the 300 amp speakers which, at the lower volume, made the room only barely tremble.
"No thanks. I don't care for cereal with barbecue sauce," Stuart replied fastidiously. "Look, Stang..."
"It's not just ANY barbecue sauce, Stu, it's WINKING LIZARD!" he said in all caps. "Do you know that the Winking Lizard gave Lou Duchez his own bar in Berea? They said he sold so much of their sauce that he increased sauce revenues by $5 million in 1997! He named it "'Bob' 's Winking Lizard Bar and Grill" - I thought that was classy." He paused briefly to stuff another brown-coated spoonful of Special-K into his mouth and fixed his gaze on Stuart, whose face was set. "What? What's wrong? Didn't the devival go ok last night? You DID GO, didn't you? Did nobody show?"
"Yeah, yeah, the devival went OK. I don't think anyone knew it was me. We do look almost exactly alike in a white tuxedo. It's uncanny, isn't it?"
"Well, that's why you got the job, Stu. I'm too old to rant and rave every Bob-damned weekend of the year. And Sterno and Janor just don't get out the way they used to. I think time has caught up with all of us. And as long as nobody's the wiser, what's the harm?"
"That's what I came to talk to you about, Stang," Stuart replied, interrupting yet another change in topic. Even while eating, Rev. Stang was a formidable talker, and once he got going, there was almost no way to get a word in edgewise. He had to interject while he could. "There may be some bad news for the Church-"
"Hey, that reminds me. I just had me some prime prairie squid, I'm sure it's still hot and ready to go in the other room. Not as good as what you get in California or New York, but hey, for Dallas it ain't all that bad!" Stang passed a thoughtful hand over his genitals, and then Stuart's words drifted back to him: "bad news? What kind of bad news?"
"I'll pass on the squid, thanks. I had some at Nickie's on the way over. It's this --- " he gestured with the newspaper, and passed it over to him. "Page two."
It was the Dallas Morning News, and halfway down page 2, the headline read "Leader of Dallas Cult Named in Complaint in Ohio." "What the -- ?" He set down the huge bowl and spent the next few minutes reading the article.
"Ivan Stang, leader of a shadowy religious cult headquartered here in Dallas, has been named as the target of an ongoing FBI investigation of morals and FCC violations for Internet trafficking in child pornography and solicitation. From a complaint filed with the Cuyahoga County Superior Court on Friday, Stang, together with his self-proclaimed religious cult, the Church of the SubGenius and the SubGenius Foundation, a Texas corporation, has been accused of soliciting sex at a number of Cleveland-area churches, and for distributing explicit materials over the Internet."
"Hot damn!" he exclaimed, pausing for another drag on his fropstick. "This IS big!" Oddly, thought Stuart, the article seemed to please him. He resumed reading:
"A Boston-area psychologist, who identified herself only by her Internet pseudonym or 'nick' as "Spool" came forward to accuse Stang, after online discussions with a Cleveland area woman known only as "Helen U. Troy" (another internet pseudonym) and two other young people who remain unidentified. "Spool" reported to authorities that these three correspondents described explicit sexual acts performed on them by Reverend Stang as an a sort of initiation or 'test of faith' to join his church, which the psychologist condemns as a "classic example of an exploitive religious cult." Boston FBI officials took the call from "Spool" directly to the Cuyahoga County D.A.'s office Friday, after learning that their source was a trained cult deprogrammer who has worked over the Internet with dozens of young people victimized by cults. When reached directly for comment, the psychologist, who asked not to be identified, confirmed the FBI's information and added "These madmen are only interested in two things to feed their sick egos: sex, and money, and they don't care how they get it. They should be Bobbitized!" The term "Bobbitize" has come into usage recently for cutting off the penis of an accused or suspected rapist as a means of exacting revenge."
Again Stang exclaimed. "This is better than Winking Lizard sauce!" he remarked loudly.
"Better? What the fuck do you mean? They've sworn out a complaint on you, Stang! They're not kidding here!" Stuart scowled at him, but the look was lost on Stang, who had returned to the paper.
"Charges are now under consideration by Cuyahoga County officials, and the witnesses cited in the complaint, as well as Reverend Stang, are now being sought for questioning. Subgenius Foundation general manager Steven "Jesus Christ" Bevilacqua, told the Morning News that Stang was not presently in the country, and could not be reached for comment. J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, longtime friend and professional associate of Stang's, in an interview published in today's Cleveland Plain Dealer said "I know Ivan better than probably anybody, and this is all a crock just to save his reputation. Stang probably hasn't even been out of his apartment or changed his underwear in a year and a half! And I'll bet money that he can't get it up!"
When asked whether charges would be filed against Stang or the Church, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County District Attorney's office said "If we can get a witness to come forward, then we'll evaluate the merits of the case on their statement. But if no one comes forward, then there really is nothing we can do. We can only hope that if this man has committed a crime in our jurisdiction, we will do our best to bring him to justice. We hope that the victims who brought this information to light will be encouraged to come forward and make a statement. Until then, it's wait and see."
Reverend Stang could not be reached for comment by press time."
Stang tossed the paper into Stuart's lap. "HA!" he exclaimed. "I wonder how the hell they got an interview with Dobbs? I thought the fucker was dead!"
"What the fuck are you so happy about?" Stuart blurted, glaring at Stang in disbelief. "This is a criminal investigation! This is the FBI!"
"Oh don't get your panties in a knot, Stu. Don't you understand? Scandalous publicity is the best thing that could happen to us! That's the first thing Jesus told me when I hired him to come down here and manage the Foundation. We just haven't had enough church scandals to attract people, so we haven't achieved true cult status! I wonder, though, " he said, scratching his head, "who let it slip about how often I change my underwear...
"Now where the hell are my nicotine patches?"
Church of the Improbable Synchronicity
(On the Prairie), Subgenius
"It's a dry heat."
<------- end-of-forwarded-message --------
Back to document index
Original file name: A Day in the Life of Stang
This file was converted with TextToHTML - (c) Logic n.v.