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"Hop on," Bez urged, ju up to install hirade and spotted parallel dark lines painted along the bottom of the wall opposite where we’d entered Then I looked harder The lines weren’t painted They were fastened to the wall

"This is an inclined elevator, like in the Eiffel Tower in Paris," I exclaimed, mystified and charmed at the same time

Not another step, Irod’s bachelor pad That inored her and sat next to "that imp"

"I know only," Bez said with a wicked leer, "to touch the old circle atop the seat’s inner arm A buzz of bees, allided upward

Howard Hughes invents again, Irgie disgust at the mechanical route and trotted up the incline well ahead of our conveyance

Riding up the inside of a reconstructed ancient Egyptian pyrarinned like the grown-up child he was beside me I recalled that Karnak Hotel’s exterior concealed the top of an interior pyrahes must have secretly constructed this inclined elevator so employees could sneak in and out of his top floor quarters without the resident va

When the elevator mechanism hushed and stopped, Quicksilver lifted his forepaws and leaned on the fake stone wall Again, it swung inward, revealing the elevator door and foyer outside Howard Hughes’sback down the illuminated slanted pathway "If only they’d known about this when constructing the Great Pyrah ended his wish

Once I moved into the foyer, I immediately faced the familiar double doors to Howard’s suite

I knocked

Theda Bara, the silent screen va her notorious Cleopatra costu than the similar outfit Bad Maria wore in her Whore of Babylon production nu backup at the Metropolis nightclub

Theda shrugged her disappoint at the gesture How sad to think that female competition never died Alsorooown Its color tastefully echoed the clear plastic bag of blood suspended from the IV stand always at his side

After forty years of afterlife as a vampire, he had the burned-out rock star look down pat His rutted face seeht in a fire in the wax eon’s office Bald-doll wisps of dull hair framed those ruinous features A shrunken head would not be an out-of-line co body was scrawny to the point of lacking anytake an even-more-assumed name and hide out in Iceland for the duration of the twenty-first century

"Delilah!" Howard exclai me He waved the usual set of busty Playboy vauests would like to drink Water for the dog, I’ood four-thousand-year-old red wine for our friend Bez, the god of luck and love Perhaps a Shezmou three-zero-forty-one BC? And for the very y eyebrows elevated on a forehead terraced with frown lines and hovered there, awaiting ood belt of plain scotch," I ad a deep breath

"Johnnie Walker black, neat, four fingers" He waggled four of his "With any luck, it’ll knock her on her ear so I can whisper sweet nothings in it, which is all I’ froernail indicated his neck--"would be ers, would you believe? In the twenty-first century? Not in my hotels, nor beds And dust lier than anything in the grossest slasher film Which, of course, you and I never watch, Delilah What can I do for you?"

"You also assu when I visit"

"Well, everybody does"

"Is that why you became so distrustful of your starlet dates back in the day?"

"My dates? My stars, Delilah, you’re interested inlife? Are you jealous? I certainly ave casting couches a bad name Why have you allowed the Inferno Hotel’s Christophe to corral all your old girlfriends as sexy CinSims in his Lust level at the Nine Circles of Hell?"

"He’s done that?"

"So I’ul envy, my dear Must be deficient Trust hes Tool Cohes had been physically far froedoddity

"They’re all brunet," I added

"I did have that weakness," he said, gesturing a raven-haired nurse and her tray to me His attempted wink turned into a blink He was, after all, more than a hundred years old even by norh, he was an infant

"However," he added, "I never turned away a willing blonde Jean Harlow" His voice and memory faded at the same time

What an interview subject he’d makeexcept for the frequent fade-outs and the fact I was no longer a TV reporter

"Think of me as an aviator who has crash-landed atop a volcanic mountain in the uncharted Pacific islands," he rairls who thought he was a god?"

"You don’t have to justify your past lifestyle toand sad Three wives, dozens of actresses as , but you didn’t want to co"

His head leaned back as a nurse bent close, loosening the clamp on his IV tube so sterilized blood leaked into his delicate veins

"Not my issue with money," he mused "There I anticipated many opportunities Why should you care about my Hollywood hit list, Delilah? We are all so over"

"You never had an heir"

"No! And especially not the losers who showed up after my supposed death to claim they were my inheritors Luckily, law fir estate is still well guarded while the public estate has dwindled into bankruptcy"

I couldn’t help thinking that his life and afterlife was the reverse of that "How did youto an undead lifestyle?"