John Constantine: Hellblazer #172 (May 2002)
Issue synopsis written by J. White
Another one of the club workers, Graham, fills F.B.I. Agent Turro in on Constantine. Graham was busy “disciplining” an unmentioned Hollywood actress while the fire started. As the two exchange words inside the interrogation room, Turro asks for a bit more. Graham doesn’t enjoy the work he does. As a matter of fact he’s looking more for a bigger acting career and that the club work is just money between gigs. Graham stellar job in acting has only landed him a part playing a waiter (which is the fault of some Jewish Hollywood conspiracy to him), which Turro doesn’t recall when he saw the movie. With pleasantries out of the way, Turro begins the hard questioning by setting aside the trivial matters of Graham’s story to get right into the one he wants to hear – Constantine’s.
S.W. Manor’s discussion with Father Sean moves to the philosophical. The Catholic religion does not believe in the idea of ghosts or haunting, and that the souls of the dead are judged by their deeds and passed to an afterlife based on them. When asked how he knows it is the correct one, Sean replies that it is his faith alone that can keep the belief. This theory is dismissed by Manor who now knows for a fact that Father Sean’s practice is false.
Constantine was a phony to Graham. Anyone who would show up out of nowhere, raving about more extreme clubs from Budapest to Bangkok had to be lying. The attention he got from the others was confusing to Graham. He claimed everyone was craving for John’s “technique” but he could see right through the lies. He then goes on to describe a specific incident where he encountered John with one of the clubs irregular members; a member that not only tolerated pain, but welcomed it.
Fredo and the rest of the men have checked the perimeter over and reports to Mr. Manor that all is well, no sign of the intruder. Manor seems displeased, but knowing all to well that no one would be able to find him. Fredo mentions a feeding, proposing it to be postponed for a later date. Manor objects, telling him to go according to plan while Father Sean and he take a walk but orders them to stay close as a precaution. As the two stroll around Manor estate Manor begins to talk with Sean again. Manor has always felt safer at night and Father Sean remembers him telling him that a lot recently. Manor apologizes for his slipping memory and ignored Father Sean’s forgiveness until after he’s finished his confession. Manor goes to long lengths to describe his life. He’s a very rich man who has as many wants as he does dollars. For every want he has he’s spent it chasing the unattainable and ghosts. Now he believes the ghosts of his past are trying to catch up with him.
An informative club worker, Joey, recalls the client Graham refused to give up. It wasn’t about the pleasure, or the attention, but the pain. Everyone goes through life wanting the pleasure, and searching for the next orgasm, but with this particular client it was the pain. He thirsted for it. Turro is more interested in his name, but both Joey and Graham seem reluctant to give it. It’s then that Joey decides to show something private. Pulling down her latex she reveals something to Turro, but not the reader. It seems to be some kind of erotic device attached somewhere near, or at, her crotch. Turro wanders which is fake, those or her tits. Joey answers that once they find out how to implant what she has – everyone will want it. The name of the client wasn’t given to Joey herself, but she still claims to know who he is. His face was beautiful, but she could see a soul so twisted and ugly. While Graham was whipping him that night, Joey watched. The pain was so extreme that the man’s back was literally being peeled off. She herself had seen this done hundreds of times before, but it was the first time for John. John stopped Graham’s torture and took the whip himself. He went to the client, revealing him to be S.W. Manor and kissed him gently before greeting him. A frightened Manor could not believe John was alive, thinking him to have died in the prison riots. The trick of being incarcerated was a good laugh, John believed, and in turn he turned a trick on Stanley in the form of his own “death”.
Meanwhile, Manor, relates his own version of the tale to Father Sean. He remembered it vividly and heard the con-man’s voice like “butter sizzling in a frying pan” and “eyes colder than the ones that stare back at me in the shaving mirror”. He was put in the most vulnerable situation he could imagine, with John literally having him by the short hairs. When Father Sean asks what he did, Manor tells him yet another tale. This one involved three brothers:
One was “smart” (Dickie Fermin), one was “special” (Ritchie Fermin) and one was “lucky” (Richard “Lucky” Fermin). All of them, according to Manor, were excellent thieves and like all good thieves they kept their trust limited to only blood because nothing was more trusting. Except it seemed that blood wasn’t enough and also fell into the mistaking trust of a “liar” (Constantine). Both the smart and special brother fell into an honest living. Dickie became an honest man that nobody trusted, and Ritchie became the honest man that everyone was afraid of, but the lucky brother thought of honest as second place to being lucky. He continued his thieving life, but became useless. Turning more into a person that deals in the low life side of thieves and sold drugs and petty possessions not knowing when he was going to be able to find the next big thing. He required help, though, from a “tortured king” (Manor). Manor had dealt with the Fermin's before in the past, and this time offered Lucky riches for what he proposed. At first Lucky refused but changed his mind after talking it over with his wife, Marjorie. Agreeing to the plan, both Lucky and Father Sean now want to know what the “tortured king” wanted in return. He wanted the liar. So Manor gave Lucky the gun and he took it willingly and killed himself. This sent Constantine to prison for, what Manor thought, the rest of his life. He didn’t intend for Constantine to die so quickly inside, but it was the trick of the lie that even fooled him by believing he actually was dead.
Father Sean asks Manor what happened with his meeting that night with Constantine. Manor tells him bluntly that while Constantine had him by the balls he came in his hand in which John simply wiped his hands clean onto Manor’s face. With a horrified exclamation by Sean, Manor continues on to say that the king soon got what he wanted after all.
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