Monday, January 7, 2013

The Iommi Job (Part 1)

They sent him to Los Angeles to steal Tony Iommi’s fingertips.

It was an earn-your-stripes type of deal. Word was, Iommi had left a set of his custom leather fingertips at the house in Bel Air where Black Sabbath had stayed during the recording of Vol. 4. The Boys said: Deliver the fingertips to us and you’re in. A made man, more or less: A steady gig plus a nice percentage of the slot machines operation. They gave him a round-trip plane ticket and a grand in cash for expenses. Accomplish the task and Curtis Merriweather could look forward to a silver future in the organization.

The Boys were not exactly Johnny-come-latelys on the Iommi Job. Their interest went back to the early ’70s, when Mickey Cohen was still nominally in charge. Cohen was their patron saint and founding member. He’d been tight with Don Arden, Sabbath’s manager and Sharon Osbourne’s estranged father. Arden had cut Cohen in for a percentage of Sabbath’s earnings back in those days. And not just Sabbath’s: ELO’s as well. Word was both Arden and Cohen bought new houses off of “Don’t Bring Me Down.”  The reason Arden made the deal was never explained. The Boys never explained anything. They just gave orders. His orders: Pinch Iommi’s fingertips, STAT.

But first Curtis had a stop to make.

Cut to: 1621 N. Hoover, a cul-de-sac in Hollywood. Curtis parked the rental up the street and inhaled a double-double from In N’ Out.  The zit-faced burnout in charge of wax paper had accidentally wrapped it in the regular cheeseburger packaging. Thus, Curtis’ hidden Christian missive of the day was Revelation 3:20 instead of Nahum 1:7. He knew the passage by heart.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Curtis interpreted the passage differently than the congregation at Our Mother Of Good Counsel just up the street. It wasn’t God knocking. It was opportunity. And he who heeds the knock of opportunity is a wise man indeed. This, Curtis was convinced, was the prevailing narrative of his life.

He checked the rearview. She was just leaving the house: Janice Merriweather, DOB 7/13/55. She was probably headed to church right now. Curtis watched her ease into her ’83 Pontiac Parisienne and drive off.

He picked the lock in under a minute. He walked into his old bedroom and grid-searched it, up-down-left-right. At the back of the closet, he hit what he thought would surely be the jackpot: Three boxes of LPs in alphabetical order: A-J, K-Q, R-Z. He tore the lid off of R-Z and went directly to S. There they were, in chronological order: Show No Mercy, Haunting The Chapel, Hell Awaits, South Of Heaven, Seasons In The Abyss…wait… just wait a minute. WAIT.  Where the shit was Reign In Blood?

Curtis flipped through the rest of R-Z. No dice. Same deal for A-J and K-Q. The fucker was gone. But where? Did it get mixed up with Janice’s Engelbert Humperdinck LPs? He had a flash: Janice had hauled the Humperdinck records to St. Vincent de Paul back in ’95, when she finally switched over to CDs. Curtis had moved out by then. Fuuuuck. Did his pristine copy of Reign die an agonizing death in the 4-for-a-buck bin surrounded by musty, ring-worn copies of Hotel California and Frampton Comes Alive?

Curtis went back to his rental and cranked the AC. He saw Janice pull around the corner and into the driveway. He wanted to confront her about the missing record, but he didn’t think he could withstand an actual conversation with his mother. Besides, he had a set of leather fingertips to hunt down. Reign In Blood would have to wait. 

This bullshit originally appeared in the September 2012 issue of Decibel magazine.

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