The actor was silently staring at the worm in the bottle of tequila, hoping to forget everything: name, sex, age, and any personal experiences. The actor was inhabiting a role: a detective in a small western town. The movie was based on fact. The name of the actor’s character was Adam Sumack. He was investigating a string of missing person cases connected to a religious cult led by a man called James. “Too much information,” the director yelled, “Adam Sumack is oblivious–not even certain of his own identity let alone aware of the Cult of James.” The directions baffled the actor.
James believed the directions came from God. He was told he had to break from tradition, start a new religion, and destroy the ten commandments. Breaking commandments was easy for James–he was a psychopath. As a boy, James enjoyed a sense of power when he tortured the family cat. His obsession with torture and death escalated as he grew older. He knew the shame and guilt he felt was an illusion but it heightened the intensity of the experience. He became sexually aroused whenever he violated socially approved morality. When God first spoke, James was upset–but, then he realized God was on his side.
Adam Sumack was supposed to make love to Lydia Lorne. It was part of the plot. Lydia was a convert and Adam was probing her for information about James. Adam was conflicted. He felt nothing for Lydia. She was just a wooden board on a mattress that Adam had to penetrate. “James raped me,” she said. Her words broke through Adam’s self absorption. He began to sympathize with the leading lady. “No,” she said, “It was rapturous. His brutality made me a believer.” Her words were unexpected–improvised. Lydia continued, “when he killed me I was redeemed.” Adam stared into the vacant eyes of a corpse.
James crucified the commandments one by one. His followers were ecstatic–encouraged to steal, covet, gorge, and kill.
Antonio Gracias had a vision. He wanted to make a movie about the Cult of James. He was a student in the film department at UCLA. He had no money, but he was obsessed with making movies. He was obsessed with James. Antonio planned to pay for the movie by using commercials, discretely inserted throughout the film.
“Come to the holy tabernacle to feast on the body and blood: Hostess pastry and Green Valley Wine.” James was interested in marketing techniques to sell his new religion. He loved to debase holy scripture with ads for toilet paper and flat-screen TV. His congregation appreciated the admonition to consume or be consumed.
Adam Sumack stared at the bottle of tequila wondering what went wrong. The missing persons were never found. Bodies turned up, but couldn’t be identified. The production code was unraveling. His role as a criminal investigator was compromised. The movie was turned into an internet soap-opera promoted as fact. Adam never recovered from the crucifixion. He had to become James in order to conduct the ritual of redemption. He had to bare his soul as Lydia before the frenzied congregants. He had to film the orgy of death while pretending to be Antonio. It all proved to be too much for one person to comprehend. Adam swallowed the tequila seeking some kind of absolution. Some comprehension. The tequila burned his throat and seared his gut. Mercifully he blacked out. One last denouement remained and persisted like a penetrating ache: the worm. All the lives involved and all the events could be reduced to the confabulations of the worm.