TALE NINE
The Nielsen's Are Devil Worshippers

    Professor Graves and Vince Hozler were sitting at Graves' desk, eating microwaved pizza, reading USA Today and watching noon news on his portable TV. It was their lunch hour and Graves wasn't happy to find out that Crime Story had been cancelled. He hates Entertainment Tonight but watches it habitually and when he finds news elsewhere that should be presented by Leeza Gibbons he fumes. "Let Dan Rather deal with the real news and Entertainment Tonight keep track of Erik Estrada."
    Graves had called me earlier in the day and told me to come over to his office. Unfortunately I had arrived at one of those moments where he and Hozler were in deep thought. Now to some people deep thought could mean sitting quietly rubbing one's temples, methodically trying to solve a problem. This is not the case with Graves. In reality there is no such word as "problem" for Graves just something that he hasn't had time to make plainly obvious to the rest of the world.
    In my normal effort to avoid getting trapped into some abnormal conversation I had settled into the La-Z-Boy Atomolounger with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other hoping to rest my tired body. All of you know the chair I am talking about. The chair with the heated silicone gel padding that gives the body the feeling that it is floating in the warm waters of the Caribbean, blissful of the fact that danger in the forms of sharks, barracuda and painful stinging jellyfish lie about. Oh yeah.
    "Vince have you ever noticed that all of the shows that we like are always cancelled? Remember Probe or what about Max Headroom?"
    "Yeah Aarron, great shows. Of course don't forget Logan's Run on that list. It seems to be a disease sweeping the nation with a furor greater than the black plague."
    See what I was talking about, burning social topics to say the least. I thought that it was merely a harmless conversation and decided to add my own two cents. This was a big mistake.
    "It's Saturdays that are the root of the problem."
    "Why Benson I am astounded. It seems that you are capable of intellectual thought."
    Ah a common ground . . . or the bait to spring the trap. "It's Saturday mornings that have caused all of our problems. When I was younger I could wake up at 6 in the morning and watch a solid six hours of cartoons. I'm not talking about those little blue puke-bag Smurfs nor am I talking about the Muppet Babies. I'm talking about Johnny Quest or Scooby Doo; those were cartoons. I'm talking about explosive death dealing action packed spookiness . . . all of the things a kid could want."
    Graves broke in "Exactly, and what are the people who program Saturday mornings trying to do? I'll tell you they're turning our children into a bunch of nerds. Speed Racer used to run dudes over, with exploding cars and fist fights. Hell, Robotech was better than a Grade B slasher flick in the kill department. Now the evil trend seems to be an executive saying 'hey, The Flintstones worked good back in the sixties, what if we make them little kids? Children will naturally like them more than the grown-up versions.' Let me tell you all right now, they were wrong."
    "Sure Aarron, they were greats cartoons for our generation and the stuff we see today is tripe but back then we had a little sense. TV didn't affect us, because our parents would slap us around is we got out of line. Today's class of kids are affected by TV, it is too violent for them," said Hozler.
    "Tell me another one Vince, I enjoy it when you make me laugh. What happened in the last eight to ten years that all of a sudden made kids any different? I'll tell you . . . psychologists and sociologists that's what. Someone gives these people a masters degree in clinical studies and suddenly everyone has changed."
    "Yeah and it gets worse from there," I added. "They say there is too much violence so to change this situation, every channel on the entire UHF and VHF spectrum feels obligated to show wrestling. I don't know about you Vince but these guys sort of act violent."
    "It's all fake Mister Benson, even I know that."
    "Yes Vince but do kids realize that. What makes live wrestling any different from a cartoon? NOTHING! Only some dysfunctional doctor trying to sell his book. Sure it teaches kids the basic values of good and evil but after ten thousand sleeper holds it gets old. More importantly, even the most mentally retarded child on the planet can understand that cartoons are not real people, but what about a person you can actually touch. Cartoons don't kill, the people who watch them do."
    Score one for Graves. Vince had paused to grasp what the Professor had just said. I on the other hand was following him perfectly and for once while being around Graves I felt like I was able to input some valuable data.
    Not for long.
    "But here comes the weird part gents, from two till five there seems to be this void . . . nothing! That's where the really violent stuff comes on. Between fishing shows, some political weasel arguing over the state of affairs in Tongo, and bad movies that can't even make it to video I have to really try hard not to vomit. This is where people get violent. After Joe Bob Armstrong tells me how to reel in a 65 pound bass I want to blow up my TV."
    The Professor paused to wipe off the foam that was at the corners of his mouth. "In the old days after the cartoons were over I could expect to see non-stop Godzilla or Kung-Fu flicks. Saturday morning was a TV fans dream come true . . . I mean there are seven, count them seven decapitations in Terror of the Shao-Lin Warriors. Do any of you remember Gamera the flying turtle? This guy had afterburners for legs, did the Tokyo stomp at least five times a week and was a national hero. What more could you ask for in a flick? Did it make me want to kill my neighbor because I saw it on the tube . . . no, I made a bologna sandwich and waited for the next Fu flick.
    Graves was right . . . fanatical but right. I'd like to see Hulk Hogan go up against Drunken Fist and his five fingers of death. Now that would be a bloodbath of epic proportions.
    "Enough Graves, you've made your point but what can we do about it. The Nielsen's are the ones who pick and choose what we see."
    "Yes. Doesn't it seem funny that a handful of people make the networks of this great nation believe that they represent the consensus of the viewers?"
    "Yes."
    "Well haven't you ever wondered how they do it?"
    "No."
    At this point I tried to make my presence in the room unknown. I did this because I could see that Graves was beginning to slip off into another tangent of thought. I admit that I am unable to compete with him in that area. Unfortunately my reason center (which must be atrophied by now) wouldn't let me and I opened my mouth. "I know how. They use subliminal psychic messages to twist the reason centers of the network executives."
    Graves turned to me and said, "No! But not a bad try for being as uneducated as you are. Have a seat Mister Benson while I explain."
    Thanks for the complement Graves.
    Any normal person might have been offended by Graves' last statement but many people have said that I am not normal. You must also understand that Graves was right in two ways. [1] I wasn't a very educated guy. I had a sum total of 12 years public schooling and two years of college journalism so it didn't amount to much when compared to those before me and [2] Graves knows everything.
    Graves stepped up to the chalk board and began writing on it. Here's what he wrote:

 

PROFESSOR DIGGS 83rd UNWRITTEN RULE OF ARCHEOLOGY
EVERYBODY HAS CERTAIN LIKES AND DISLIKES. THOSE WHO
ATTEMPT TO TELL OTHERS WHAT THEY SHOULD LIKE OR DISLIKE
ARE OBVIOUSLY WRONG.

  "It is my belief that the Nielsen's are the most evil, para-anarchist group of manipulative criminals in the civilized galaxy. They hold an all reaching grip on the entertainment world and have ruined the careers of producers and actors alike"
    Pretty harsh words if I must say.
    "It is also my belief that the Nielsen's are controlled by some satanic entity who is bent on the destruction of our hearts and minds by feeding us pabulum for entertainment with the eventual goal of capturing our souls for eternal torture."
    Okay. This was a very strange concept to say the least . . . No, I'll correct myself and say that this was by far the strangest idea Graves had ever come up with. In essence Graves was saying that Bill Cosby was an agent of the devil. Now having briefly studied satanism (as well as watching that Geraldo special) I just couldn't believe that there could be any shred of evidence to prove this theory.
    I was wrong.
    Graves removed a dusty book from the shelf and wiped the grime of the leather cover. The book was titled The Codex of Knowledge by Torgel. Flipping through the yellowed pages Graves stopped on a picture of a blonde woman wielding a sword of flame. Behind the woman were a horde of evil, devil-type minions heaping books, paintings, and statues on a bonfire. the script under the picture said "She wore the mantle of righteousness."
    "This my friends was a text published in 1554 by a Spanish monk named Torgel. It tells of the benefits of academic studies and the preservation is historical facts. It also tells of those who seek to destroy the basic ideals of knowledge, enlightenment, and truth. The text was publicly branded as heresy by the church and its author ordered to be brought before inquisition. You see the church knew that knowledge led to people thinking independently and in the religious sense when the people know too much they start to ask questions. In those times nobody asked questions of the church and if they did they were burned."
    "There he was graced by the presence of the Grand Inquisitor himself, Tomas de Torquemada. They accused him of being a mystic and that his writings were heretic slanders of the inquisition itself, which they were. He was found guilty by the tribunal and ordered executed. But at his execution as they threw him on a pyre he disappeared with his book."
    Graves paused to point at the picture. "This picture depicts one of the greatest evils to the quest for knowledge. Her name was Nilson, a princess among devils. She and her minions were said to be bent on the destruction of free thought, education, and truth. She was also said to be responsible for the inquisition, missionaries destruction of other nations history, and book burning. It has also been theorized that she consorted with Torquemada. Translated from the language of those who named her it means "She who hides the truth."
    I had a hard time swallowing all of what Graves told me being that I wasn't to well read into the background of the inquisition. I also doubted because I had never heard of this Nilson in my research on the subject of devil worship. In fact I told Graves that I had never heard of her and that was a mistake.
    "Then Mister Benson it is obvious that you have your facts wrong. You probably interviewed a group of demon worshippers posing as devil worshippers to throw you off track, they are sneaky you understand. Besides I know a man who is the expert on this book."
    Inundated by this knowledge I proceeded to ask Graves a question. A stupid question in his eyes but not to mine. "So what are you trying to say? That the Nielsen's are actually Nilson and her minions from hell?"
    "No Benson! I'm trying to say that the Nielsen's are devil worshippers."

KEN SLEDGEHAMMER

    My name is Ken Sledgehammer and I work for Aarron Graves. Most of the people who meet me think that I'm a complete and total brain dead person. This is not true. In reality I have a 290 IQ and a masters degree in Political Science. My apparent lack of neuro-muscular stimulation is due to the fact that [1] Yes, I took lots of drugs in my younger years and a few brain cells have been burned out to say the least. [2] I like it that people think the way they do of me. Being big and brainless-looking keeps a lot of people from hassling me . . . Except when I work for Graves.
    Graves is a nice guy. He lets me play drums in his band and beat up people when needed. He is also one of the few rich guys I have ever met who likes to blow up things. Unfortunately he has the totally unbelievable ability to place me and the other people who work for him in the most injurious situations.
    Today happened to be one of those days.
    I was paged on my beeper that Graves uses to contact me when he wants me to place my life in dire jeopardy to protect him because in his eyes I am not too smart and am expendable. It said bluntly "We are going to prove that the Nielsen's are devil worshippers." I could have told him that but then that would blow the image that he has of me and cause him to place me in even more danger. I say this because those who work for him and know something get hurt more than those he considers expendable.
    Needless to say I got on my motorcycle and drove to GDI headquarters. Normally this would be a long ride but I took a short cut through the shopping mall at about ninety miles per hour. As well as explosives I love speed.

HARRY THE SOUNDMAN

    "Nick! Where the hell is that script? We've got ten minutes till Space Adventure goes on the air and Grayson hasn't read his lines. Livingston! Gunner! What do you two think you are doing with that dynamite? That's not a prop its evidence we confiscated for tomorrow's episode of Another Stupid Cop Show. The boss is going to be pissed."
    Oh!
    This was my response when my beeper went off. I had almost forgotten about it since it had been nearly two years since Graves had last called me. My wife told me to throw it away a long time ago because Graves would only put my life in danger and cause an early cashing in on my insurance premium.
    Oh sure the whole telethon thing went kind of sour and destroyed an entire city block but it was great for ratings. She admitted that beating Cosby in the time slot was almost worth it but she never wanted me to associate with Graves again. I told her that Graves hated Hollywood and would probably never come out here for another two years. Perfect timing if I must say.
    At the moment it went off I was sweating the load over the airing of episode 77 of the monumentally successful science fiction show Space Adventure, sort of a futuristic look at the Navy, in space. You see I am the binding force at KEBC TV in Los Angeles. My official title (as given to me by the owner) is Soundman but I do everything. KEBC is a small independent television station broadcasting on UHF channel 55 and things are far from normal.
    In our employ is a former gangster with the Doug Disensey family, the former leader of Las Vegas' hispanic 28th Street Gang, an ex-prostitute of the rich and famous, an escapee from Happy Acres Asylum in sunny Barstow, a psychotic Vietnam veteran who specialized in law during the war, a punk rocker, a midget, a skateboard fanatic, and a really weird director/owner who also writes novels on the side. KEBC produces all of its shows as well as broadcasts many popular but cancelled TV series'. We have also spawned great programming like The Doom Game, Medieval Madness, Spy Dude, and Chronocorps (literary adaptations are on their way).
    You would think that this would be enough strangeness in one lifetime to not associate with Graves but it isn't.
    The beeper said to meet him at Los Angeles International Airport at 4:30 because we were going to prove that the Nielsen's are devil worshippers. I could have told him that because I have to battle them everyday just to survive. Then again when Graves sets his mind to investigate something there is bound to be some twisted subliminal reason to it . . . or just a lesson in life for the kiddies reading this book.
    3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . Action! Once again we made it in time. I popped six antacids and left for LAX.

    I'll now return to reality since that is where I left off (sort of). I hope I didn't confuse you by not giving you my normal lead off into literary technique but I figured that by now you had a firm grip on it.
    We had proceeded to the roof of the Graves building where Graves personal helicopter was waiting for us. Taking off we flew for an hour until we reached Los Angeles. The fair city of L.A. is an easy city to spot from the air even though it is obscured by smog. Then again that is how you find it from the air.
    There we were met by a man who looked like a reject from a late seventies K-Tel record commercial. Decked out in polyester clothes, a gold medallion and a hairstyle held up by about three point two fluid ounces of 30 weight motor oil, was Harry the Soundman. I was greeted by a cheesy smile and a "Welcome to L.A.," smacking of the "All I want is your money so let's do lunch" attitude. I found it odd that Graves would associate with a person so blatantly greasy and scheming but as I would get to know Harry later in the story I would discover that Graves and him share many similar traits.
    It was then that Graves was assaulted by a throng of studio-type people who proceeded to apply makeup, wire him for sound, straighten his tie, and generally look busy (which is all that it takes to get ahead in Hollywood because they don't desire any productive work to be done there). I was dazzled by the vast array of totally unusual people but that's a given in Hollywood.
    I had to know what was going on so when Graves sat down at the news desk I asked him. This was a mistake because the answer made me question Graves' sanity. When you question one thing about Graves you start to question a lot of things and when you do that you get hurt.
    "Isn't it plainly obvious? I am going on live TV to make public the satanic machinations of the Nielsen's. To do this I have to violate every rule that the Nielsen's and the FCC have instituted over the years to stifle creativity on TV."
    See.
    Now you may be wondering what these rules are and to be blunt they fill a couple dozen thick volumes of text but I am going to summarize a few of them right now.

THE CHEESY LINE QUOTIENT

Established in 1963 this rule states that every show slated as an action/adventure is required to have, at the minimum, two cheesy sayings. Prime examples of this rule were the A-Team's "I love it when a plan comes together," and Get Smart's "Would you believe?" The unfortunate side effect is that these cheesy catch-phrases eventually become part of social conversation. When that happens stupid shows survive.

THE SWEAR WORD SUBSTITUTION LAW
This is one of the oldest laws on the books and states that TV shows, being wholesome and entertaining, should be geared for the whole family. Because of this the use of nasty words must not happen. This is where unbelievably stupid words are created to fill in the need for simple every day pleasantries required to survive in the real world. Among the words created were slimeball, scumwad, hairball, weenie, peasant, and the all-time favorite . . . scumbag. When you can't call someone a bastard the end of the world is at hand.
THE ANTI-REALISM STANDARD
The purpose of this law is to keep the general populace shielded from the reality of life and the harshness that goes with it. By doing this the Nielsen's are able to continue with their maniacal plots for universal domination as well as make life very boring. Very few shows presently on TV portray any realism and only television news is exempt from this law. This is made up for by the next law.
THE GONZO JOURNALISM LEGISLATION OF 1981
The FCC passed a law requiring all journalists to perform acts of sensationalism, bias, sheer unprofessionality, and bad dressing. The evil byproduct of this legislation is the general public's lack of trust in what they see and hear on the news. Twisted victims of this law include Dan Rather, Ted Koppel, as well as every talk show host in the universe with the exception of Morton Downey J.R. (he was just born stupid). If it weren't for CNN presenting quality information the entire nation would be in the dark over current affairs.
VIOLENCE POINTS
This regulation states that each TV program is allotted a number of Violence Points (VP's) based on time slot, type of program, and day of the week. Shows are then allowed to spend points on the types of violence that they want to depict. The more violent the act the more points needed. Given below is an example of how a prime time action/adventure show (The A-Team) spent their allotted 54 VP's on a March 1985 episode:
GUNSHOTS FIRED WITHOUT REASON: COST=.5vp @: 10
GUNSHOTS FIRED AT RADIATORS WITH RESULTING UNEXPLAINED EXPLOSION: COST=.2vp @: 15
GUNSHOTS FIRED AT TIRES WITH RESULTING UNEXPLAINED EXPLOSION: COST=.1vp @: 5
PUNCHES: COST=1vp @: 20
CARS EXPLODING AND FLYING IN AIR: COST=1vp @: 4
The problem with this law is that to kill someone it takes 300 VP's and no show can garner over 73 points per episode. This forces shows to save points in order to kill someone. The Nielsen's don't mind this saving because when the show does kill someone it looks as senseless as it actually is and the public is turned away from watching it.






    Now that I've given you an idea of what Graves has to do to get the Nielsen's (as well as most of the world's) attention let's continue on.
    5 . . .Hey Mercedes! Come here! . . .3 . . .2 . . .1 . . . Action!
    "I'm Professor Aarron Graves, P.h.D., and I'm here to give you the viewing public what you want!" It was then that Mercedes took off her top bearing her . . .well . . . upper torso to the cameras and the public. We were shocked no question about it. The reasons for our shock varied from the inability to comprehend how big they were to whether she had fed children or not.
    Needless to say Nielsen member Elmo Bender died of a cardiac arrest at the very same instant . . . What an ironic coincidence.
    "Yes! For too many years you have been controlled by the evil empire known as the Nielsen's and the FCC. Forced to watch the Cosby Show five times a week was bad. Having your favorite shows ripped off the air because of supposed lack of viewership was worse. Letting someone like Mister T be considered an actor was unholy but now is the time for atonement! Now is the time to expose the Nielsen's for what they really are. But wait! You say, "Who are the Nielsen's." Well I'll tell you.
    "Contrary to documented belief the Nielsen rating company was formed in the early fifties by Clarence Fizer, a farmer of Ahmish and Quaker background. This fanatic had a dream about an anti-rock & Roll, anti-abortion, anti-war, anti-violence, anti-sex, anti-taste, virgin, feminist, Amway distributor named Nilson coming to rule the nation. Unfortunately this flake woke up before he saw that Nilson was a devil from the fourth plane of hell and would be directly responsible for the destruction of our nation and eventually the planet."
    "Harry! Slides!"
    Then came the slides. Horrible photos of couch potatoes glued to the glowing box. Little puppies drugged with hallucinogens to perform stupid tricks on late night shows. Terrible views of network executives addicted to daily infusions of ratings. Actresses forced to act in love scenes with men who can't get dates with hookers. Slide after ghastly slide flashed on the screen. The PMRC burning books, Jesse Helms' face, colorization of Casablanca, fifteen versions of the family show gimmick, NBC mini-series', and Geraldo. I'll say that it was too much for even me, an experienced reporter to bare.
    Needless to say the brain of Miss. Edna Metzenbaum, age 84 and thirty year member of the Nielsen's exploded when reality filled the vacuum that her mind had become.
    The slides shut off and Graves continued, "You make the choice viewers! One thousand people choosing tasteless TV programming which will eventually make you a mindless zombie enabling the devil's minions to steal your soul or 1000 BODY BAGS AND ENJOYABLE TV! Thank you."
    With that the camera went off and Graves stood up from the desk. Some people were applauding others were passing out assault weaponry. No matter what the populace thought of the program the FCC and the Nielsen's were definitely going to be pissed off.
    Graves put his hand on Harry's shoulder and told him that we were going to drive up to Malibu to meet the expert on the Codex of Knowledge by Torgel. He added that we were going to bring back the instrument for the final destruction of the devil Nilson and her minions before too many of his employees were killed.
    Harry had one of those "I don't know what to say Aarron" looks. I don't know what to say as in "gee thanks for caring" or "bite me."
    Getting into a van owned by KEBC we took the Pacific Coast Highway to a beach-type retreat of huge cost and the home of the expert on the book. This trip didn't take too long because Hozler was driving at sub-light speed. Of course we weren't stopped by the cops because they were too busy trying to stop the drivers who were really breaking the speed limit (but then that's why people in Cali buy fast cars . . . To see if their tax dollars are at work).
    The house was not much to look at even though it sat on pricey property. In fact it was the kind of house that you didn't want to look at. In an attempt to be one with nature the owner had built the entire house out of wood. This might seem nice, but it wasn't. This was due to the fact that the wood had apparently never been sanded, stained or even cut properly. It was warped from the ocean air and plants were growing out of the vast quantities of cracks that ran the course of the house. The only thing that this guy had going for him was the oriental wind chimes above the door. That and the prospect of a hefty insurance settlement if an earthquake strikes and he claimed that the condition of his house was caused by the quake.
    We got out of the car and walked to the door. Graves spoke to us as he knocked on the door. "You all have to understand, my friend has been into the California beach scene for over 30 years and I am afraid some of his credibility has been marred. But trust me, he is totally reliable."
    That was when a groggy voice echoed from the depths of the house. "Like come in dude!"
    Going in I was not surprised to see that the state of his interior was not too different from the exterior. Plants and weeds grew in abundance in the living room. This was only broken up by a few tasteless pieces of wood furniture, a lot of books, papers, and writing/art stuff. Stacked in the corners of the room were half finished statues and paintings. Mounted to the wall was a basketball hoop with a large globe ensnared in its net.
    Lying on the floor, remote control in hand, was a man with the third longest beard that I had ever seen in my life. Stacked around him were about twenty three and a quarter cases of empty beer cans and a lot of unusual smelling burning things. Apparently this guy didn't move too often because there was a small clump of grass growing from his left armpit and a birds nest in his beard.
    What kind of * @ % # field is this guy supposed to be an expert in? Horticulture." Those highlighted characters signified nasty words not me just slamming a bunch of keys on the typewriter (which is what I did).
    "Actually Mister Benson I am an expert in the fields of Hindu mysticism, cross-sectional theology and of course the sport that god invented . . . surfing."
    The old dude said this and I was quite shocked because I nor anyone else had told him who I was. How did he know my name?
    "It's simple Mister Benson, as well as being an expert in those fields I can read minds."
    That was him again and I was starting to get steamed. Nobody reads my mind, it's a law . . . Really.
    It was then that Graves broke the tension. "Everyone meet Biff Torgel, the much maligned author of the book The Codex of Knowledge."
    We were stunned. Not by the fact that this guy was the author but by the fact that Graves told us he was the author. Well to be realistic we all weren't stunned. Hozler was irritated because his contact lens had fallen out into the man's beard. Mercedes was optimistic because if he was she had a lot of questions to ask about torture fashions. Sledgehammer . . . who knows what lurks in the void called his mind. I myself found it funny. Adding all of these reactions together and dividing them by four you get stunned.
    "Yeah right Graves. This guy was reincarnated, right. Tell me another one," I said.
    "Not exactly Benson, Biff here is sort of immortal," replied Graves.
    Allright, I had to stop right here. I consider myself a marginally sane kind of guy (though my constant association with Graves often makes me question it) but there is no way that this old dude was immortal. In fact there was no way that he was even sort of immortal for that matter.
    I was wrong as usual.
    "You see Mister Benson, like when I escaped a painful and untimely death at the hands of the Grand Inquisitor I went to the Orient you know. There I met these really old Chinese dudes and like they had the same beliefs that I had you know. So I studied with them for like a really long time and they made me do this Qui Chang King thing like in Kung Fu and made me drink this really watered down potion/beer that made me immortal you know."
    "Okay."
    "So like I have been moving from place to place so people wouldn't be suspicious you know," said the old man.
    "Uh Huh."
    "Well like a couple of years ago Graves saw me on the beach and because I sort of resembled the picture of me on the dust jacket of my book he like conversed with me. It was like the most totally enjoyable experience of my existence you know. Graves is one of the seven people in the history of the earth that like practices what I wrote you know and I find that really flattering."
    "Yeah. Excuse me for one moment please." That's when I turned to Graves and said, "You've got to be kidding me Graves! This guy is a majorly brain damaged weirdo! I can't believe that you, Professor Aarron Graves P.h.D., would believe this flake. The guy can't even form a sentence without saying "like. In fact he speaks in sentences longer than me! He's a proofreaders nightmare! He's just a wasted surfer who smoked a little too much grass as an infant." That was when I burst into an uncontrollable fit of laughter. "You called this guy right? You told him about me just to mess with my head. I mean you've associated with some really strange people like a psychic who wears a turban, an art thief, a scientist who is trying to invent a fusion powered toaster, a fashion model who likes to play with guns, a firefighter who wears a mask and blows up things, not to mention Hozler, Chaquita, and Bullshit but this one Graves, this one takes the cake."
    "Are you quite finished Mister Benson?"
    The whole incident seemed immensely funny to me but apparently not to Graves. Realizing that this was a critical question I stopped laughing and answered his question. "Yes Aarron I have finished laughing but I still can't buy the story."
    I was fortunate though because Graves understood my impression of the whole thing was based on the fact that as a reporter I required hard facts to back up such a statement.
    That was when he showed me Biff's drivers license. It said that he was born on April 3rd 1524 which made him 462 years old. I bet he has a hell of a time when he gets carded. But if it's good enough to buy beer at 7-11 then it was good enough for me.
    Now that the formality of credibility had been overcome I was ready to believe anything that Biff told me. Unfortunately that wasn't much because Biff spent most of his time puking out the window of the car as we drove back to Los Angeles (he gets car sick if you didn't know).
    Upon returning to KEBC we saw the trademark vehicles of the Nielsen's; the two hated vehicles from hell. Manufactured by the Chrysler Corporation, a company reputed to employ the devils minions were brown Dodge Caravan's and light blue Dodge Darts. Pulling up to the front of the building we were greeted by a throng of people wearing polyester leisure suits, poorly matched pant suits, long dresses with those sickening paisley designs, and tweed jackets with patches on the elbows . . . once again all trademarks of the people that held membership in the Nielsen's. It wasn't looking pretty.
    I say not pretty because these people had a lot of guns, knives, and pitchforks. I also noticed some boiling oil and a noose or two. This disturbed me quite a bit because I was under the impression that the good guys were supposed to be in possession of these tools. Death at the hands of yuppie urbanites didn't look too appealing to me. Of course did this bother Graves . . . No! In his normal and predictable way he proceeded to stand up on the roof of a car with that damn bullhorn and made it perfectly clear what we had in mind.
    "Evil and wretched minions of Nilson we are here to kick your satanic butts back into the fiery hole you crawled out from! As for the mortals among these denizens of evil I offer you the opportunity to leave now. Your sheeplike obedience excuses your ignorance."
    Yeah I knew what he had in mind . . . Our untimely deaths and eternal torture in HELL! That's what he had in mind.
    And as always we got the normal response.
    "Kill the mortals! They know who we are! Slaughter them to their last number! Then go and inflict grave pain on their friends and family! Then when your done let's do lunch."
    I hate Yuppie devils.
    It was fortunate that Mercedes had a Multi-Phase Plasma Autocannon in her purse. Of course she wished that she had brought something a little more powerful to really make these devils miserable but then you can never tell when you're going to have to fight evil creatures from the fourth plane of Hell.
    It can be said that throughout history devils have been reputed to be some pretty tough characters. They are sneaky and the fact that they come from another plane makes it really hard to kill them. Of course that was in the days that all people had were swords and arrows. Asmodeous had never gone up against a gun-toting, fashion model babe with a Multi-Phase Plasma Autocannon.
    In a few short minutes Mercedes had hosed down the entire massed army of Nilson with a concentrated fire pattern of plasma death turning her horrid and evil henchpeople into a mere puddle of unholy slag. Of course the smell wasn't much to be desired but hey, that's the price you pay for a holy war.
    Graves kicked the door to KEBC open and marched into the studio with his normal air of arrogance. Mercedes followed; Autocannon still smoking, then Sledgehammer with his custom designed Ajax Devil Smasher Sledgehammer (which he just happened to have), Hozler with his guitar (the worst weapon of the three if you ask me), and me with . . . well . . . nothing! Why is it always when something like this is happening I have no weapon whatsoever to defend myself with? Stupidity? I don't know.
    Of course the devils that were still with Nilson had made a huge mess of the place. They had also scared most of the crew of KEBC with the exception of Harry the Soundman who was being held in the air by one of the devils saying, "Babe. We can do a deal. Picture this? You, those babes from the Budweiser commercial, a Ferrari, and the script of the century . . . Devil Does Dallas!"
    The devil didn't seem interested in a multi-movie contract (though Hozler kind of moved closer) and it threw Harry to the floor.
    This was when we noticed the blonde chick sitting in the Directors chair. Sitting next to her was the Director/owner, and he didn't look too happy being tied up.
    "Hey! That's Tipper Gore, wife of senator Al Gore failed presidential candidate. Your husband is a weenie. I voted for him and he lost."
    She didn't seem to care about what Hozler was saying . . . Then again none of us rarely care about what Hozler says as long as he doesn't try to make us drive in the same vehicle with him.
    "Ah, Aarron Graves, I have been monitoring your doings for quite a while but you surprised me with your boldness today. Who would have expected you to bare, pardon the pun, everything to the viewing public," said Tipper.
    "Of course I surprised you you ignorant bitch you only monitored me because I let you. By the way that's Professor Aarron Graves!"
    This seemed to raise her hackles a bit, "Do not toy with me Graves. I have more power than you think. I could have easily destroyed you if I wanted to."
    "Sure. That's what all devils say. You know the fact is devils are nothing but overglamorized bogey monsters who have been hyped up by bible-wielding fanatics, hysterical townspeople and bad talk shows. Why don't you just trundle your butt back to hell before I kick the crap out of you."
    That did it.
    Have you ever seen flame shoot out of a persons fingers? Well I hope that you never do because it is not an enjoyable experience. Fortunately my cat-like reflexes saved me (or was it the fact that I tripped on my shoelace at that very same moment) and I fell to the floor.
    This was no normal chick. It was evident in the fact that the shape of her body changed. It was no longer Tipper Gore the biggest threat to freedom of speech in this nation today but instead a devil with leathery wings sprouting from her back and a long tail with a barb slithering from under her dress. I hate satanic chicks.
    At the same time her minions began attacking us. Mercedes couldn't use her autocannon because it would kill too many innocent people so she had to resort to the less violent Stokes Grenade Pistol. Ken was really knocking the stuffing out of the devils (it seems that Ajax has been manufacturing reliable Devil Smashers for over 200 years). But the thing that stopped the whole fight was Hozler ripping on his guitar.
    It has been said that Vince Hozler's style of guitar playing cannot be tolerated by many people . . . and it's true. Well the normal reaction to Vince's playing is just a headache and dizziness (and that is why he is very popular with metal heads) but this time it caused spontaneous combustion. Actually it only caused the devils to spontaneously combust we mortals just suffered a headache and dizziness (you make the call which was the better fate).
    As the smoldering remains of the devils filled the air with that horrid lingering evil smell, Hozler said, "Awesome jam!"
    Of course that was when we realized that the devil Nilson was still there and she didn't look very happy. "You may have destroyed my lackeys but it will take more that bad heavy metal music without the warning labels to destroy me!"
    About then Mercedes, Vince, Ken and myself were suddenly imprisoned in these steel cages that appeared out of nowhere. This didn't seem too bad until the floor began giving us electrical shocks and the bars erupted in flame . . . That was bad.
    "Hear me Graves! I will kill your friends unless you agree to openly apologize for your statements on TV and commit yourself to an insane asylum. Is it a deal?"
    Wouldn't you know it? These damn devils are always trying to get you to sell your soul for some reason or another. Of course this reason seemed like a sound one considering that our lives were in danger of ending prematurely. Sure it seemed like a bum deal for Graves but a man has to have priorities.
    Of course I know Graves enough to know that he would never agree to such an unholy deal. I mean he had placed our lives in dire jeopardy before without any qualms so I figured that this time would be no different.
    "Okay Nilson it's a deal . . . Release my friends and I'll do as you ask."
    What! Where is that weapon he said will destroy this chick? And why now did he decide to get a conscience not that I was complaining.
    It has been said that Satan's pals are evil and sneaky and will do anything to get a soul into Hell even if it means keeping their promises. So as promised Nilson released us and the cages disappeared. With a grin on her satanic face she said, "Oh . . . Satan will be pleased. I got the soul of Aarron Graves, king do-gooder of the Earth. Mister Graves you're second on the "Most Wanted" list in Hell next to Mother Teressa. Thinking you are so righteous in your actions. Saving books from being burned, testifying before congress in support of pornography . . . But Satan always said you were a sucker."
    Graves smiled and I was confused at this. I mean if I had just sold my soul to Satan I would be kind of depressed. "Wrong spawn from Hell the deals off, I told you it was Professor Aarron Graves," said Graves.
    Nilson prepared to cast a spell which I am sure would have had horrible repercussions on us but that was when Biff entered the scene.
    "Not so fast Nilson! Like you have caused enough pain and strife on this planet already you know. It's time that you returned to the place of your creation you know so like bail." With that he held up an amulet then threw it to the floor. The jewelry shattered but instead of leaving a lot of broken glass it created a huge gaping hole in the floor (known as a gate by devil fighters). Vaguely I could see that this led to the fourth plane of Hell (this was due to the fact that Graves told me so). It was cheap jewelry but apparently effective.
    What followed was a lot of screaming, pleading and begging from Nilson with her finally being sucked into the hole in the floor, claws leaving a trail behind her, and the gate closing.
    I was sure glad that this whole episode was over. I also had a lot of unanswered questions like where did Biff get the amulet and how did it open the gate? Is this the end of the Nielsen's? Is Graves going to Hell?
    As always these questions were answered.
    "You see it was obvious that Nilson was summoned from Hell by Mister Fizer in a Satanic ritual. If you weren't aware of it devils all have talismans that can be used to control them. Fizer simply gained control of the amulet and was able to manipulate Nilson for a while. But while travelling here to Hollywood in 1962 his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean about a 123 feet from Biff's house. This crash killed Fizer and seemingly causing the amulet to be lost forever allowing Nilson to run rampant in her doings."
    "It was only when Biff was snorkeling around the wreck a couple of years later that he discovered the amulet. Knowing what it was used for from the days when devils and their likes were a quite common threat to deal with he waited for the right time to use it and banish Nilson. This was the right time."
    Biff had returned to his Malibu retreat and as we headed for the airport Graves continued to explain the missing pieces of the story. "As for the Nielsen's . . . Unfortunately not all of them were devil worshippers merely unknowing pawns in a grander scheme. They will continue to decide what we watch on TV and life in the television world will remain largely unchanged. As for Tipper Gore it's obvious that she was kidnapped by Nilson a couple of years back when she started to rise to power in the area of special interest groups and imprisoned in New York City. Nobody would ever have found her there because most people don't even care whether or not she lives. I only hope that she doesn't take this unfortunate experience as an excuse to further escalate her campaign against heavy metal music and pornography otherwise I will be forced to send her to back to Hell as well."
    "Then what did we accomplish other that trashing a TV studio and showing the world that some women can have big breasts without plastic surgery," I asked?
    "Isn't it obvious Benson? We conclusively proved that Geraldo Rivera's special on devil worshippers was just a huge hoax . . . just like that skinhead thing . . . but that is another story."
    I didn't get it but then again it didn't really matter because in the end we are all going to die anyway. This conclusion led to the final answer.
    "As for my deal with the devil, Nilson made one huge but fatal mistake. As well as being sneaky devils are often stupid and don't always read the fine print. Nilson failed to realize that that kind of pact not only had to be pledged by the person offering his soul but had to be (A), sealed in blood and (B) correct name used." Graves pulled out his drivers license "You see, my full name is Professor Aarron Graves. An old family motto says "You shouldn't make a deal with the devil but never make a deal with a Graves."
    I was going to ask Graves what exactly he meant by that, including the moral implications that went with it but that was when we took a . . . .

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