Thursday, August 27, 2015

FLICKER STREET - Treatment # 8 - Entangled

So I have returned with more hopelessly convoluted synopses of my Flicker Street Saga. I'm inching towards the main story after these backstories. Prepare for something deeply personal beneath the fantastique....

FLICKER STREET Treatment # 8 – Entangled

This Tangle of Thornes...

As recounted in Treatment # 1: Backstory, three Irish-born siblings were the linchpin of an organized crime unit in the late 1940s and early 1950s called Brothers-in-Arms, later known as the Machine. Their enormously successful organization became the spine of the fledgling Skull Corporation, when paired with Kong's Black Skull Society.

How three immigrant petty thieves became the prime movers of arms deals with a postwar communist country known as Libania boggles the mind. But Kong, as Bromley Chamberlain, CEO of SkullCorp and also known as Mr. Drang, VP of 'Special Projects' manipulated them to greatness as it were. He inspired the Burden ne Brighton brothers to embrace their new identities as Artemus Calvino, Augustus Breton, and Geoffrey Barton Thorne. Artemus excelled as a ruthless businessman as well as a top-notch mercenary. Augustus kept the books and was in charge of paying the law to look the other way. Geoffrey, fluent in Spanish, was the go-between to Libania. His heart was never really in it, and he lost himself in drink and “loose women”.

One thing about the hardscrabble background of the Thornes was that they were, indeed, survivors. But the eldest Thorne was even more determined, more ruthless, in his quest for power. For all it got him, his brethren ultimately outlived him, though their quality of life was rock bottom by this time. For some time, the younger siblings felt bullied and envious of the overbearing and dictatorial Artemus Thorne. Captain Vargas Llosa was also disgusted with Artemus' never-ending greed, and his leering after Llosa's wife Carmen. Artemus also fancied the Llosa's precocious young daughter Marilia. Artemus had his eye fixed firmly on the barely pubescent girl.

The three disgruntled men wanted a way out – out of the Machine, Skull, and FOPA forever. They found an invaluable ally in Dr. Turner Lawton, a somewhat manic and unstable TSD specialist who had experimented on himself before his son was born. For all his dangerous traits, Lawton was a true friend to the three gentlemen, and vowed SkullCorp would fall one day.

Augustus implored Lawton to experiment on him with TSD; at first Turner refused, But felt that maybe with the two of them enhanced they might have a better chance against SkullCorp. Augustus was injected with TSD in 1956. He felt no untoward side effects – but when his daughter first opened her eyes, they briefly flared a deep flaming red. It would be many years until her eyes burnt so brightly again, but the memory literally emblazoned on his brain caused him to name her Kendall (i.e. 'kindle').

Augustus and Vargas concocted a scheme to rob SkullCorp of $4 million and irreplaceable paperwork, plus, Lawton insisted, a variety of high-tech gadgets. They would scatter to the four winds, so to speak, change their names, and live off of their shares of the pilfered Skull loot. With the papers, they had much dirt on Skull and could resort to blackmail were they ever found out.

This was not the devastating blow the mutinous quartet imagined; it was a mere inconvenience to Kong. However, the man born Kaosong Qua had photographic memory, and he let events play out over the years to avenge his, and SkullCorp's honor, and to eliminate the quartet of traitors.

II. The Grand Plan

It was in late 1947 that the “grand plan” went forward. Libania was in an upheaval after WWII, and stocks were down at SkullCorp. This was to last only a short time however. But the “Four Outsiders” (as they called themselves) struck while the proverbial iron was scorching, and Kong suffered his first defeat. This is probably what fueled 40 years of hate that resulted from the Outsiders' actions.

Artemus Thorne suspected Vargas Llosa right away, but he had no proof. Artemus sought out Llosa's wife Carmen Francisco, and murdered her. It is worth reiterating here that Vargas Llosa boasted quite the pedigree: his grandparents were Alonzo Llosa and Luna Corvo, the latter the daughter of the legendary gunfighter Sorrow and his wife Carmelita Rodriquez. Luna's sister Solita was the mother of the colorful bandit/ guide Felix Tequila, described further in past chapters. Felix's daughter Esperance had a son, Diaz Montaldo, b. 1956, who we shall explore in the some depth in the modern portion of our account.

After Artemus' slaying of Carmen, he lived out a long-brewing fantasy: Thorne wed the 15 year-old Marillia Llosa, daughter of Carmen and Vargas. Thorne lorded it over the arms deals and drug smuggling based in Libania, to the pleasure of Kong and Skull's inner circle. The 1950s were increasingly frenzied for the man calling himself Artemus Calvino Thorne. He had a suspicion that the traitor Vargas Llosa was “hiding in plain sight” in Hallmark, MA. He confided this to no one. While on his quest to find Llosa, now going under the guise of a Cuban Catholic professor named Emilio Florenza, working at Cullen Darby Communal College (CDCC), Thorne met the stunning and eccentric Paige Bradcroft. He immediately used his wealth and power to home in on her. She'd recently had a brief affair with Evan Eloy Queeq “the first American Indian physicist” they called him (take from that what you will). But Artemus' vast charisma won her over. Theirs was a whirlwind wedding, and soon after, in 1956, their son, Calvin Artemus Thorne, was born.

But Paige soon “relapsed”, and Queeq impregnated her. Sensing this and furious, Artemus filed for a quick divorce, and “gave” Paige to his best friend John Paul Fabricand. Artemus had no real ground to stand on, as he was a bigamist, being married to young Marillia in Libania. John Paul claimed the son, Kyle, as his own, a Fabricand, but his deeply Native-American features belied that. Kyle learned of the mystic arts from his legal father, though he really detested him. In 1962. Marillia bore Artemus a daughter, Nanda Marillia Thorne, nicknamed “Nan”. In his travels, Thorne kept his lives in Libania and Hallmark eons apart. 

III. Quatros Rebeldes

And so what of the other 'Four Outsiders'? With Queeq's help, the man now known as Emilio Florenza kept his cover, teaching at CDCC and raising a good-sized family. He had married Consuela Diamante, and had four daughters: Carmen, twins Carillia and Carmilla, and the youngest Juliana (born 1968), as well as a son Ricardo, or Ricky, born 1977. Before his death, Artemus Thorne held one last investigation in Hallmark and concluded Florenza was indeed Llosa. He mailed his mysterious findings to a then-unknown party. His foolish return to Hallmark led to his ultimate (and, many would say, well-deserved) demise, though.

Dr. Turner Lawton fled to France with his newly-acquired tech, and soon wed the bohemian Jaresse de Funes. He changed his name to Danton Lloyd-Langton (after “Llosa-Lawton) and they had a son Jareth Llloyd-Langton born 1966. Danton became a high school science teacher, and in 1970 went to Hallmark to help out Emilio. While there he had an affair with the militant Maya Clancey, a student of Emilio's (and daughter of Dawn Cheshire and Zachariah Clancey). He returned to France and Trent Clancy their child was born . Later, Trent went by the name Flint Water. Flint's brother Jareth was the victim of a nasty divorce in 1982. Lawton took Jareth to Hallmark and tried to rekindle his romance with Maya. This rather quickly went south, and Maya did not reveal then that Flint was Jareth's brother. Despite the risk, Lawton decided to stay in Hallmark and teach, keeping a low-profile and home schooling his son for the most part.

Augustus Breton Thorne retired with his proverbial ill-gotten gains and settled in Arizona. He took the name David August. He led a simple, quiet life on a farm with his wife Kim Batten. The two of them did the whole nature thing – camping, hiking, hydroponics – until their daughter's eyes flared once then returned to normal. Naming their daughter Kendall August, the two were happy throughout the 1960s – until Kim died of cancer in 1973.

The youngest Thorne brother became Greg Burden once more. He moved to England and wed a Welsh woman, Ellspeth Gough, in Manchester in 1961. Their daughter Gloria Erin Burden was born in 1962 in London. When Ellspeth died in 1965, Greg moved to Montrose IL and wed Miranda Guidrey a biker chick. Their son Jeremiah Guidrey (name on birth certificate) was born in 1968. The impetuous Miranda was abusive to Greg and abandoned him. She learned his true name and blackmailed him into letting her split with Jeremiah while he became a desolate alcoholic and raised Gloria alone in IL. She renamed her son Jeremiah Thorne and hoped to one day find Greg's money and secrets. She moved to Hallmark where Skull was and bided her time. Alas, drugs and prostitution deterred her from getting far.

Paige Bradcroft Thorne Fabricand finally took her own life in 1974, after learning E was alive and that she couldn't be with him. Paige and Kyle were living in NZ at the time. By 1975, Nocturno had had enough after Paige's fate. Nocturno (Paige's cousin) destroyed Artemus Thorne. Kyle barely escaped his wrath. Calvin, on the move, took odd jobs and occasionally saw his half-sister Nan, who he dearly loved. He was approached in 1975 by Ewen Cromwell, who offered to train him. 

That same year, in his travels, Cal had assumed the name Brett Thawne and wed a bi-polar junkie called Iris Knarpp (natal name unknown). This disastrous union came to a halt when Cal took up Cromwell's offer. Abandoning his wife and their marriage (which Iris had annulled when she learned "Brett Thawne" never really existed), Cal swore never again to grow intimate with a woman, a vow he upheld for many years. As for Iris Knarpp, she gave birth to Cal's daughter, christened Arletty Thawn, in December of 1975. While his half-brother Kyle became a Skull inner circle member under the tutelage of Donal Rykards, Calvin Thorne made his debut as the deadliest mercenary this side of his mentor the Carnifex, and became known as Exterminans, or the Death Walker. His nom de guerre was derived, oddly enough, from an essay he'd read penned by none other than Anton Gamble, whose work, though a bit left-leaning for Cal, had always fascinated him. 

In concluding this installment, we must flash forward and alight once more on the year 1987. 40 years after Quatros Rebeldos, the four men who betrayed Skull, had scattered, they were at last accounted for. And an inferno was on the horizon....

Welcome to Flicker Street!

Henry Covert
August 27, 2015

Copyright 2015 George Henry Smathers Jr.

Special thanx to Thomas S. Davis, whose childhood imagination inspired me to attempt my own original comix stories. 
Extra special thanx to Bill White, for giving me the key to return to and inhabit Flicker Street.

Flicker Street, all images, characters, and story elements are Copyright 2015 George Henry Smathers Jr.