Saturday, March 29, 2008

In passing

I overhear stuff all the time. Snippets of conversations that are just too much. The TRU post is the beginnings of this, but I really need to do something with all of this stuff.

Back when I was playing Vice City and I would hear these snippets of conversation with the passers-by, I thought it was a little extreme. It has been in the back of my head to write these things down. I thing I am just going to start throwing them in here whenever they stick out...they are too good.

I get a lot of them because I hoof downtown Santa Cruz every day at lunch. It is sense with tourists, locals and the homeless.

Here are a few:

Last week, there were these two high school girls yelling at this homeless man. This was the exchange:

Girl: That joke wasn't funny.

Homeless man: You weren't listening.

Girl: I didn't have to listen, because it wasn't funny.

Yesterday morning and I made an unscheduled walk to Starbucks there was an 80s Chrysler Key car parked in handicapped. It was filthy, and there was all kinds of crap piled on the dashboard and from what I could tell, on the passenger seat and all over the back bench. A bearded, dirty man was hanging out of the window talking to an overweight, potentially homeless woman on the sidewalk. His voice was high and he had smoked a pack of cigarettes after letting the helium wear off. Here is what he said:

"They have your name at the bank, dummy."

I suppose I can finish this post with the classic one that actually got me thinking about this years ago. I don't know where I was or what I was doing there, but I was with Casson, and we both heard it. This guy was talking into his phone and he said this:

"Do me a favor? Listen when I talk to you." It wasn't so much the words, but the intonation. It was as if he was talking to someone either really old or really young. But the fact of the matter is that he could have been talking to anyone.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


At Circuit City last week DVDs were on sale. I picked up Marvel's Avengers 1 and 2. These are cartoon movies that were made relativly recently. Watching the first one over this last weekend was enjoyable. It starts off blah blah Steve Rogers blah blah World War 2 hero. He looks like a broken down Captain America. Well that is because he is Cap, just lame and old school. He does a number on the Nazis and then realizes that the Nazis are run by aliens. Then he gets frozen and brought back to life now. Today. The war is over but he is still the super soldier. Bruce Banner is working with SHIELD and Nick Fury is now black. Bruce is checking Steve Rogers' blood and trying to figure out how to control the raging beast within him using the same super soldier serum that made Steve Rogers into Captain America. The story twists and turns and we meet Giant Man who is a true asshole, Iron Man who is another asshole and Thor who is an asshole with a hammer. They all combine forces and go on a mission. Whatever to the mission because Bruce Banner goes off his meds and hulks out with a level of rage that I am only now beginning to comprehend.

So the other day I got this text message on my Blackberry. A text message straight up, attached to a phone number. It said, "I have a crush on you."
Right out of the gate I figured it was one of my daughter's many admirers who had gotten their wires crossed on numbers. It seemed like a logical deduction because my number could get mixed with hers in the shuffle of parental contacts, etc.

Anyway, I fired a text back that said "Ahahaha, you texted the wrong person!"
I figured that was the most benign response that I could come up with. Now in retrospect I have all of these more vicious responses floating through my head. You know, ones like: "Too bad, because I hate every fiber of your being."

But the other part of this is the whole cellie business in the first place. If I'd had a crush on someone when I was younger, there is no way I woulda put that into a text message and sent it out. NO WAY.

I think I let the kid off lightly.

But what if this was an adult? This assumption of mine could be totally off. That could have been an adult texting me. Talking about a crush and whatnot. What kind of adult does that? I have steered from the fact that this text probably came from a female, but I am steering into it now. I don't think guys say that they have a crush on someone. I think guys are a little cruder.

But what if this was a total pedophile who is a 40 something, unshaven, overweight asshole with yellow stains in his t-shirt armpits trolling for young girls to terrorize? The implication here is that it was my daughter he wanted to terrorize, and now as I sit here, I am swelling up like Bruch Banner off his meds.

Or what if it was a sting operation to catch pedophiles? Why would they have my number? And what if they were somehow screwed up and wanted to get ahold of my daughter? What if this was some supremely botched deal here? Undercover work gone stupid? I think my skin is turning green.

What if this was a joke played on me by someone I know in order to see my reaction? This one calms me down ever so slightly, because it is much more peaceful than what I have been thinking.

What if this was a sincere overture from some sort of person who really did have a crush on me? I am almost back to normal, thinking about this aspect. The anger has just about left me.

What if this was coming from some 40 something, unshaven, overweight asshole with yellow stains in his t-shirt armpits who actually WAS interested in me? Look into my eyes, gentle reader. My eyes look like I am wearing white colored contacts. I am losing control here.

What if Mariska Hargitay had somehow realized that there is only one diehard fan of hers out there and she wished to reciprocate? That is something that could normally calm the beast, but I think it is inaccurate and the back of my shirt just ripped...up the spine.

What if Mariska Hargitay's agent was baiting me in order to get a restraining order? Done. My skin is now green.

The possibilities are endless.

I guess I will never know unless I put that number to use that they texted me with in the first place.

I am pretty sure it wasn't Mariska though.

Perhaps I should watch more television and stop with these ridiculous rantings about text messages. Plus, it is quite obvious to me that I am fronting like Bill Bixby in the original Hulk television show.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Emotion at the TRU

Jada Toys. Is this not the baddest Lincoln Continental you have ever seen? It is my desktop at work, at home and on the Blackberry. This is freaking ART.

One of the nice things about where I live is that it is in walking distance of the local Toys R Us. I like going to the TRU because it gives me an understanding about what pop culture is bringing to us and what it is slowly fazing out.

For example, Iron Man action figures are there already. Robert Downey Junior plastic heads with Stark Industry level helmets to slap on them. That movie isn't going to drop until May...but there they are at the TRU.

I have another reason why I like to go there. I love the toy cars. I always have. There are pictures of me as a kid with fistfuls of Hot Wheels. Well, for 99 pennies, you can still grab a Hot Wheel. Last year they did this Motown Metal collection with a grip of muscle cars from the 60s and 70s. I was on it. I have 2 of them on my computer tower at work. There are bigger toys too. There are the Jada Bigtime Muscle cars. These things are beautiful. They are at a level of craftsmanship that would have made me go blind as a kid.

So I am at the TRU. Ivan was with me. He likes to hang out in the Transformers/Star Wars figures area. I can be found near the Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. We have this ritual. he will go to the area that interests him and hang out there until he finds something he likes or he gets bored. Either way, he comes to find me...usually with a toy of interest in his mitts.

So I was squatting near the Jada cars, checking out a Chevelle with some really fat meats on it when I saw this woman pacing slowly up to me. She looked tired. Sometimes, you look into someone's face and you can tell what emotion it is. In her case, it was sadness. it was a sadness coupled with an extreme fatigue. She looked like she had been chain-smoking for the past week. She had cycles under her eyes. her t-shirt was wrinkled, and she was wearing those gray sweats that people who are letting themselves go wear.

She was on the phone, so her pacing was towards me, but not to me. Then I heard what she had to say to whomever it was on the other end of the line.

"...every bone in his face. They broke them all. He is in critical condition. They lifted him to Stanford by helicopter..."

Then I felt like I was in an alleyway watching some woman get naked and step into a shower. I felt that voyeuristic. There was nothing for me to say. I wanted to console her. I wanted to let her know that I too understand what it is like to have someone you love in a physically beaten state. I wanted to look her in the eyes and absorb her pain. I wanted to hold her and have her collapse into my arms and have her let go of the sobs that she was holding.

And here we were in Toys R Us. Toys R Us is like church for kids. Conversations about shattered faces should be kept outside. What was she doing with this noise pollution in this sacred hall of immaculate plastic? Her personal tragedy was big enough to transgress these halls.

I hoped no little kid with a penchant for something Kenner or Mattel or Hasbro heard what she was talking about.

But the conversation wasn't for me. I was very aware of the fact that if she saw that I was listening, she would probably be offended. She wouldn't know what I was about. She would think that I was just some dirty guy in an alley watching her run hot water and strip.

I grabbed the Chevelle and made my way over to the Transformers to see what Ivan was up to.

The cold smile

-Yeah, I don't know when I originally got fixated with pinnacles in hell, but it did happen to me back when I was a kid.

And there he was. Standing on some sort of rock. This rock was part of a pedestal, and this pedestal went down to what looked like forever.

He couldn't see how far down the pedestal went mainly because of the flames. But the flames were not hot. They were cold, and the flames were bluish. The air was cold. It snapped at him with mild breezes that were colder than the general atmosphere. He remembered hearing that hell was actually a cold place, and this must have been it. Satan must be halfway frozen in ice somewhere near. Dante...what a prick. Looking around he saw other people in the far distance, standing on similar pedestals. They were alone. He could have yelled at that volume that states that the voice gets no louder and they wouldn't have heard him. There was something in the air, a feeling of static, and a low rushing of some sort of flutter. The flutter might have been the flames, he couldn't tell. Whatever it was, it brought the cold. And he stood there, aware that he might have to stand there until the end of time, shivering.

But the ground under him shifted somehow. The rock was cracking. The sound was made more punctual by the cold. The pedestal couldn't have been more that five feet across, but something was happening in the center of it. The surface of the rock was powderizing. He looked down, and soon squatted. He reached down and began to wipe away the dust. It rose and made puffs of smoke as he brushed it away. The center of the platform was soft and getting softer still. The level of powder was going deeper. The rock was turning into dirt, from the center. With both hands, he pulled the excess dirt and gravel, throwing it feverishly over the side. The center of the rock platform became more and more like a funnel and he pulled more dirt out. He was feverish with his task. It was as if he was clearing out the center of a flower, working into the stem. And then he heard something. A snap. Suddenly all of the excess dust and gravel began sliding into the hole that he was clearing. He stood up and backed to the edge of the platform. The sliding continued. The funnel in the center was guzzling the dirt, dust and gravel as if a lid two feet across had slid open somewhere beneath it all. The hole was becoming larger, and the platform was falling into the hole. Then he realized that the area that he had been digging out barely left him with any room to stand on the edge. The way the gravel was pouring down the center, it seemed that the edge would be consumed soon. His footing slipped. His right leg shot towards the center of the hole, slipping on the dirt, which had now turned red as clay. The rumbling of the sliding dirt was all he could hear. The sound of sand being poured onto paper. The steady plash of a billion small things rubbing against each other. And the cold air tormented the edges of his ears, gnawing at them until they felt hot.

He scrambled backwards, towards the edge, but the funnel of moving gravel pulled him in. He heard the snap again. Everything stopped. Silent.He was able to pull his leg back and squat, looking down the funnel into its center. What he saw was white. Pearly white like piano keys. Leaning forward he saw that they were teeth. Fangs that interlocked. With dirt and dust around the pointed, jagged edges, and around what appeared to be the gums. There was a top and a bottom. They were curved and streaked. He could see the angles of their curvature, as if they had been sharpened by some sort of file. He couldn't see where the gumline ended. This whole thing made no sense. The mouth that was grinning at him seemed to be bigger in circumference than the actual stem of the platform he was lodged on. If he could climb out of this funnel and look down the outside, he knew that he would see no jaw muscles and nothing that would support the apparatus that he saw beneath his feet. As he attempted to comprehend what was beneath him, he slipped. The slipping continued until he was resting directly outside of the teeth. The opening was the size of a manhole, except there were teeth there, and a grimace. The fangs weren't a flush floor either, they actually were rounded and looked like horns. Shaped well. He was positive that they had been filed into their menacing shapes. No two fangs were the same size, but they all interlocked perfectly; keeping him out. They looked like porcelain horns, fitting into each other like some sort of sadistic puzzle. The cold worked its way up his arms and around his chest, finding routes through his clothing that he didn't know existed. It billowed against his flesh in what seemed to be hundreds of individual zephyrs, all bent on making him realize the lack of warmth.

And then the mouth opened. Only slightly, but it opened. As if it was considering saying something. That pause before the flow of a recently born sentence in the brain riding electricity to the tongue. The opening was perhaps just a half of a foot. Six mere inches. The size of the maw made six inches seem minuscule. He was very aware that he would never open his mouth this wide. It was wide enough for him to dip his toe into. He could probably fit his whole foot in there. If he'd had a crowbar, he could probably jimmy it in there and shoehorn the thing open. But what was beyond? Was this a living mouth? If he broke a tooth and exposed nerves, what would the repercussions be? The gravel poured into the cracks. The mouth wasn't completely open, just enough to show that it existed and it was aware that someone was right above it.
And he slipped again, violently. It was a tumble, and his hands went forward. Towards the choppers. His left hand landed against one of the fangs to steady his fall. Is was wet and hard, like a painted cement wall. It was cool. A soothing coolness that was pleasant compared to the general temperature around him. His hand was able to wrap around what seemed to be the edge of the fang. His fingers were precariously inside the mouth of this thing. The edge was sharp. Sharp like a well-used kitchen knife. Not enough to cut on the touch, but with force behind it, the edge was very capable of chopping. He pushed against it, in order to steady his positioning outside of this lipless smile. As he shifted, his right hand slipped forward, to the top of another fang. His fingers wrapped around the point, and he felt the subtle serrated edge. He felt again with his left and determined that one edge was smooth while the other was not. He filed this horrible notation far back, because his main purpose was to get his hands away from these teeth before something awful happened. Shuffling hard now, kicking dirt down the mystery throat, he attempted to stand. he had to get out of the position he was in. He had to get his hands out of the mouth of this thing. He felt the air around his hands as he gripped the potential blades. The backs of his hands felt stretched and dry. This air was sucking the moisture out of him. His eyes were making it obvious every time he blinked. His face felt stiff, and he settled into a carapace, unable to truly express emotion, because of the cold.

Then something awful did indeed happen.As his whole body yanked and slid into the center of the pit the mouth snapped shut, severing the fingers on both of his hands. It was a final severing. The fingers were gone. The force of the slamming teeth had shunted his digits completely off. With nothing to hold onto, he fell backwards onto his ass, and his feet shot forward. The teeth opened again. Holding his bloodied stumps at his chest, he kicked and scrambled, trying to keep his feet clear of this trap. His right heel dug into the gap, and his boot-heel was braced against the edge of a tooth. He felt the corresponding tooth on the other side of the jaw against his Achilles tendon. Thrashing with his left foot, he tried to find purchase in the gravel and dirt. He needed to get his foot out of there. For balance, he shoved his fingerless, weeping hands into the dirt behind him. The dirt, dust and gravel dug and tore into his open flesh, beckoning a level of infection that we just cannot comprehend in this day of age.
The jaw shut, slowly. He felt his ankle tested and buckling. He felt his tendon snap, and suddenly, his foot felt like a loose shoe as his entire heel now dangled freely underneath the compressing pressure of the teeth. Then, the test-biting was over, and the teeth clacked shut. His heel was gone, and because of his boots, he couldn't tell how much of his foot was still attached.

The liquid began to pour from the wound, streaming over the teeth. Causing them to be flushed with red. His blood mixed with the grime and pooled up between the teeth. Looking over his flailing legs, he felt like an insect in the mouth of someone how had just been punched there.
The blood caused him to slip, and his hands could find nothing to hang on to. He still had his thumbs and he dug with them, but the pain had hit levels that made his actions exaggerated and wrong for the time being.

His feet were now safe at what appeared to be the gumline and his hands were behind him at the other gumline. The only thing in danger was his ass, and he was holding it up, crab-soccer style to keep it from resting on the center of the grimace.
The mouth opened suddenly, and he pushed his sheared foot and his good one firmly into what seemed to be the gums, he pushed his cold, frothing hand stubs behind him and lifted. The mouth slammed shut.

Then there was an explosion of physics and dirt. The tube that he had worked his way into could no longer support itself and it shattered around him, like a balloon filled with dry dirt. Like a pinata with no purpose. Now, the teeth were the platform. Dirt, grime and filth rained down upon him as the new properties of the platform were revealed. Down his shirt, into his ears, clouding his squinting eyes. He made a similar grimace with his own teeth in an attempt to breathe through his mouth. the cold worked in his favor now, and the numbing helped dull the pain. But even though the nerve endings were slowed down, the blood still flowed. It was warm, and it misted lightly as it worked its way through the grime.

And now the whole organism was apparent. The teeth and mouth were the face of this thing. The throat went down and he was perched right on the most dangerous part of the creature. The blue flames licked about and the mouth opened. It opened wider and wider. The flexibility of the mouth was something that he hadn't initially considered. He was being drawn into it by default. It was going to keep on expanding until he dropped into it. His bloody foot kicked out and streams of coagulated chunks of his own mud spattered about. His hands, numb with pain slipped and gurgled in their own much and dirt. The widening continued, and soon his center wight dropped into the mouth. He attempted to roll to the side, but with no fingers to work with, his hands slicked across the teeth and he hung, like a hammock, across the teeth that were surely going to snap shut.

He realized the option of falling over the side and escaping this digestion, but it was too late.
The mouth stopped expanding, and once again all was quiet. The air was cold and his breath hung in the air like in a meat locker. He was sweating the panic sweat of stress. And there he hung, wounded, dripping in pain looking for that last bit of strength to hold him up before the inevitable. he wished it would close on him, and violently fold, sever and kill him, but this thing was obviously patient. This thing obviously had the rest of time.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Presentation

Yeah, there is a lot more to this...but here is a taste...

"Fine, I'll present it first!" He said directly before slamming the reciever into the beige cradle. He probably wouldn't have used such force on his personal phone, but the business he was in required travel, and the flop-house he was in was so foul that a crack in the phone plastic wouldn't be noticed, ever. What an evening. In the time that he had suffered on the phone, the Los Angeles sky had turned dark with its sour evening.

A knock at the door.

Barry was still pissed. Gabriel had stuck him with the first presentation the next morning and now there was disorganization in the air. The presentation to the customer had been mapped out weeks in advance. Gabriel suddenly had this brainstorm and wouldn't back off of it. Barry had said no, but Gabriel insisted. Gabriel had also pushed the kind of whinge that suggested trouble with the higher ups when they got back to Kansas.

There was another knock.

"Yeah." Was all Barry could muster.
"Room Service." Said a male on the other side of the door. A big male. The kind of male with a throaty, yet raspy voice. Calamari and fries? Barry was trying to remember what the hell he had ordered.
"Leave it." Barry said. He glanced out the window at the full moon, glaring yellow at him through it's guaze of pollution.
"Must have shigatooor." The voice on the other side of the door said. There was a groan on the other side of the door. The groan a tired man makes on his way to bed. Barry made a note in his head that even the bellhops in this horrid dive were drunk. He was going to cite this all and grab his boss by the back of his head and force the paper in that scrawny man's face. He could do that in the morning after he covered for Gabriel's so-called brainstorm. The company was cutting too many corners these days. They had lost too many accounts and they were hiring whiney bitches like Gabriel to do what Barry used to be proud to do.

"Shigataaaaaar." The voice on the other side of the door said. Barry thought he heard dishes drop and break outside the door. The bastard couldn't even carry food properly, Barry thought. There was a thrashing. Something violent was happening in the hall. This something was a nuisance.

In anger and disgust, Barry unlocked the door. He swung it open with a swish. His eyes needed a second to focus on the urine stained hallway. His eyes weren't meant to have that second though. Something wet and hairy hit him directly in the face. His nose screamed. He couldn't smell the hairy thing that hit him because the blood flowed instantly. The scent under the blood reminded him of the scent of saliva. Saliva on skin.

The saliva thought was pinched off with a piston-shot across his left cheek. Barry didn't have time to think of retaliation as his head recoiled with a snap to the right. His cheek had torn and it flapped against his teeth. The wound would bleed, but not before the next assault. The mate to the left rip was another piston-shot, this one to his right cheek, which caused Barry to stumble back with a twist to the left. Barry's left hand landed on the greasy, wooden footboard of the full-size bed he was going to use later. He buckled and dropped to his left knee. Then the figure that had so skillfully rearranged his face appeared out of the shadowy doorway. He was an average sized man, in the blue polyester hotel service garb. His arms were huge however; misshapen, overdeveloped and hairy. These muscular trunks thinned to what looked to Barry like claws, or maybe paws. The man smiled and his teeth were jagged, possibly fanged and yellow.

He stepped forward and stood directly over Barry.
"You need to know that you are no one special, but I have to pass this on." His voice was deep. Raw. It was the voice of a bigger man. Barry looked up at the man. He focused just in time to see that the man was waiting for Barry to look so that he could deliver another center-face crunch with that hairy fist of his.

The blood was flowing freely. Barry felt it gushing out of the fleshy fronds that were the remaints of his left cheek. As he fell to his back, he realized with revulsion that the hits that had knocked him right, then left had actually been open-palmed claw swipes. Barry raised his hands defensively to block his face from another attack. He felt the blood filling his left ear as it flowed hungrily to the floor. He felt inside his left cheek with his tongue. The blood was galloping out of what seemed to be a wound that probably looked like a popped firecracker.

"You get the curse. You get it all. It is powerful at first, and then it will wane." The man growled. He reached down and grabbed Barry by his shirt-collar; his tie was in the mess too, Barry felt it pulling on the back of his neck. The man hardly bent at the waist to do this, because his arms were so long.

Barry was pulled face to face with the man. Barry didn't look him in the eyes.

"Stand up." The man commanded. He stood Barry on his feet. The slick, syrupy blood covered the upper half of Barry's shirt and mixed into the hairy hands pulling him about, causing the two individuals to merge metaphorically. Barry's knees buckled and he dropped. As he fell, the man's right knee caught Barry in the chin, clacking his teeth shut. The propulsion of the raised knee sent Barry backwards, in an arc lightly accentuated by oddly shaped and weighted drops of blood.

"The disease works in your favor. It is personal. Your enemies will be destroyed. You regenerate perpetually." The man said. He stepped forward and stood over Barry again.

Barry shook it off. He had taken shots to the head in fights before. He had been cold-cocked before. Barry lifted his right foot with the swiftest soccer kick he could muster. He planted the tip of his wing-tip square and deep into the man's balls.

The man dropped slightly, with his knees bending in. Barry dropped his right foot out of his opponent's crotch and filled the space with his rapidly incoming left shoe.

The man howled. The howl was gutteral and raw. It sounded as if the vocal chords had been stretched and torn. They sounded altered and inhuman. The man fell forward. Directly onto Barry. Barry flailed, attempting to dodge this incoming body. The man brought his hand forward and clasped it around Barry's throat. Barry felt the weight of his fallen opponent completely upon him. Face to face now, and Barry looked him in the eyes. The eyes were nothing special. They seemed dead. Flicker-free.

"A couple of other things you need to know." The man wheezed.
"Silver bullets don't do shit. You regenerate too quickly. You regenerate perpetually. You can't die when you are in the form." He whispered. Barry coughed.
"Don't try to chain yourself up at the full moon. Don't try to stop it. You'll get the sickness." The man was speaking in measured, soft tones.
"Prepare to shine. When it first happens, you will be something too powerful. As time wears on, you will fade, more or less into something like me." He said, with a weak smile.
"What are you?" Barry hacked out. Blood pulsed anew inside his mouth and around his head. He was feeling weak.
"I am a man who is no longer the werewolf I used to be."

Barry rocked to his right, forcing the wolf-man to roll off. The grip on Barry's neck tightened. Barry looked at the arm that was holding him. He wrapped his fingers from both hands around it. he felt the muscle underneath, it was hard. It was hard like stone. It had no give whatsoever.

"Why me? Why me?" Barry choked out.

"Sometimes, the moon hits and we have to act fast." The man said. Then he pulled Barry forward and sank his teeth in Barry's neck. Barry felt the blood explode out of his artery like a geyser. He felt the man chew deeper. The he felt the push and the rip and the man finished tearing a hunk out of Barry's throat with his teeth.

Involuntarily, Barry began to twitch. He brought his hands up to cover his gaping throat wound. The man stood up next to him. Then ran full tilt at the window on the other end of the room, which was the ceiling for Barry in his prostrate state.

Barry heard the crash, and remembered that he was on the eighth floor as he heard the man with the long arms launch with a million glass shards, to his death.

The pool of blood around Barry's head was now making streams to different corners of the dusty hardwood floor. The only classy part about the hotel was the hardwood floor. This was Barry's last thought before he himself launched into oblivion.

The phone rang at 5:30 AM. Barry was on the floor, completely sore. He let it ring and ring. He finally managed through a series of complicated crawls and leans to grab the receiver. Hearing the recorded wake-up call from the front desk, he slammed it down again.

Standing, naked, he made his way across the hardwood to the bathroom. As he padded his feel along, the coolness was disturbed by warm sections of loose carpet. Looking down, Barry saw heavy patches of hair; specifically where he had found himself only a minute previous. There was blood dried blood on the floor. A fudgy pool of it. There were spatters on the walls. The window looked like someone had driven a car through it, or out of it. Head hurting, he reached up to scratch his neck, then felt his face. No rips, no serrated flesh. Barry turned and made his way to the bathroom. Then he saw that his front door was open and that there was a strip of the plastic yellow crime tape across the entrance of his door, from the outside. As Barry padded forward, he saw that the door wasn't open, it simply wasn't there.

Ducking into the bathroom, he grabbed a towel and wrapped it around himself. He stepped out into the hall. The whole floor was a crime scene. Two detectives were standing at the left end of the hall. Blood and debris scattered the floor and walls in both directions for the length of the hall.

Barry surveyed the doorframe. The door had been torn out by the hinges. It was nowhere to be seen in the hall.

Barry went back to the telephone by the bed. He racked his brain for a minute and then dialed Gabriel's room. There was no answer. He then re-racked and drummed up his boss's room number. He dialed.

"Room 223." A voice answered.
"I was calling to talk to Chuck." Barry mumbled.
"Who is this?" The voice queried.
"This is Barry, I am here with Chuck for a presentation." Barry's head was swimming. It was definitely hangover status. Possibly with an added post-Thanksgiving belly status, because he wasn't hungry in the slightest. He felt full. Gorged.
"Sir? Charles Henry was murdered this last evening." The voice said.
As Barry slowly put the receiver down he heard the voice stating: "Sir? sir?"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ranxerox: I don't f*cking get it

Let me tell you about an android created from spare Xerox machine parts that scared the hell out of me. He was ugly, buffed, oversexed and living a life of strange sex and violence.

I was a child when first exposed to this thing, and let me tell you something else: Ranxerox was a big part of me putting childish things away and facing reality.

Ranxerox hails from Heavy Metal Magazine here in the United States. As an adult, I don't completely comprehend what Heavy Metal Magazine is. I have had my mitts on many issues but the grand definition of the stuff defies me. I suppose that it is comic books for adults. I also suppose that the bulk of the stuff is not done in America. It always seemed to me that Heavy Metal stories were more about the lack of explanation to the carnage on-panel. Bodies are ground up. Sex is served in strange fashions (including stuff that would and should make kiddie porn enforcers stand up).



Thursday, March 20, 2008

Undead me.

That's what they do. The eyes. They begin to roll back. Soon all that can be seen is the whites. The pulsing, it has happened, behind the brain. Soon the pulsing is in the brain, and if something doesn't happen soon, the pulsing becomes the brain. My eyes have begun to roll. I am driving right now, but I think I can negotiate my way to the shoulder and find my way. I will find my way. If I don't, my motor skills will collapse and I will be non-communicatve. Non-communicative in such a way that I won't get what I need.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Monkeys Make Horrible Pets

-I wrote this years ago. It deserves fresh eyes.

“You feel that monkey bite.” Henry Rollins

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Jeff was over. Jeff works at Pet Fun in Salinas California. This is the truth. Jeff works with fish and hamsters and rabbits. Jeff is a self-proclaimed ‘fish-person.’ Our conversation turned that evening, over a few beers, the smoking of some cloves and video games.
“What is the matter with our society today?” I asked him.
“What are you talking about?” Jeff answered.
“California is so materialistic. It all boils down to what kind of car you drive and how much money you have.” I said.
“Man, I know, and Pet Fun really isn’t working on that level.” Jeff said.
“Hey, you have seen the POS that I drive.” I responded.
“You’re right though, everyone is concerned with aesthetics. They don’t really care about what is going on inside of people; they only see the outer trappings.” Jeff said.
“I am personally tired of having to explain to everyone that I actually like my Van.” I said.
“I am kind of tired of telling everyone that I actually like working with fish.” Jeff said.
“California is so stuck up. There are other states in the union that move at a different speed. The only reason why I stick it out here is because the Pacific Ocean is right there.” I said, gesturing towards the Pacific, which was twenty miles away. The conversation dies for awhile, and we concentrated on beating the hell out of each other in Virtua Fighter. Since he had mentioned his job at Pet Fun, I started to ask him several questions about exotic fish. I asked him about the deadly fish. I asked him about dogs and cats. Then I asked him a question that had been burning in me for some time.
“How about a monkey? How come you never see monkeys as pets?”
“Monkeys are illegal as pets in California.” Was his knowing response.
“That guy down at the wharf has a monkey. That little one-armed bastard won’t even pick up pennies.” I said.
‘That guy at the wharf is grinding organs for a living. That guy down at the wharf has a permit.” Jeff said.
“What would it take to get a permit?” I asked.
“I dunno. Call fish and game. Call the FDA. It’s some sort of state or federal deal.” Jeff said.
“I wonder why they aren’t allowed in California.” I asked.
“There is obviously a good reason for it. I have heard that they make horrible
pets anyway. California has a stick up its ass, didn’t we already talk about that?” Jeff said.
“Yeah, but the temptation is there to just see what would happen if I got one. I
mean, it would be like having a little person around or something.”
“You want a monkey? Why would you want a little stupid sub-human? Get yourself a kid, or a dog or something. Hell, get yourself a fish. I hear monkeys crap all over the place. I also hear that they bite like nobody’s business. Yeah, they look all cute dressed up and stuff, but forget that! A monkey to me looks like it would be a lot of work. A lot of unnecessary work.” Jeff didn’t even look me in the eye when he said this. He was watching the pause screen for Tekken 4 on the television.
“Well, it seems like a challenge, to get a monkey into California.” I said.
“It isn’t a challenge. Listen, if you were to get a monkey into this state, it would prove to be a pain in your ass. You ever heard the term ‘beaten like a circus monkey’? Why the hell would anyone coin such a phrase? You never hear ‘beaten like a circus tiger or elephant’? Monkeys suck. California has a damn good reason for keeping them out of here; trust in that.”
“I don’t know. I just don’t know. I think I’d like a monkey on my back. It looks like it could be fun.” I said.
“Suit yourself, but at least watch the screen while I kick your ass? Thanks.”
We went back to our video games and Jeff proceeded to pummel me in every game that I chose to play him in for the rest of the night.

The next morning I got on the phone. This monkey thing was really working on me. I had a slight hangover and felt slow. Making a couple of calls to the state department to find out about a monkey permit seemed to be the best idea at the time. I brewed a cup of molten death sludge coffee and went to work.
The Yellow Pages are horrific. It took me a solid five minutes to figure out that I needed to look under ‘California State of…’ before I could get down to business. Assembly, Corrections, Equalization Board, Fish and Game, and Highway Patrol, they were all different ways of saying that someone was behind a desk with the phone numbers to the other places. They all seemed so similar. I was headed on a collision course with red tape. I finally settled on calling the ‘Toxic Substances Control Department’. My rationale was that they wouldn’t be that busy and they could point me in the right direction. 1-800-698-6942. The numbers inputted into the phone quickly. I felt as if I was meant to make this phone call. There were two rings and then a voice was on the other end. He recited his position so quickly that I can’t even recall what he said.
“Yeah, um, hey? I am looking into purchasing a pet monkey and I want to know what the proper protocol is.”
“Sir, monkeys are illegal in California.” The voice countered. It was a male voice. Gravelly, I could hear each painful vibration of his weathered vocal cords. It sounded like the rock star whiskey and razorblade diet.
“I know that they are illegal, that is why I am calling you.” I said.
“Sir, there are departments that handle this sort of thing. This is the Toxic Substances Control Department.”
“Well, I knew that. I figured that you could point me in the right direction.”
“Sir, monkeys are not toxic substances.”
“I know this, who would I call?” I asked.
“Sir, I don’t know who to call. Hang on a second.” He said. There was a loud pop on the line, like a fuse had blown within the phone.
“I had to dismantle the recorder. Sorry.” He said. I now knew that I was onto something good.
“Sir? I have a friend who wanted a monkey not to long ago. He was at a loss, so he ordered one.” The man said.
“Ordered one?” I asked.
“Yeah, he ordered it from a magazine. They shipped it here in California in less than twenty-four hours.” He said.
“You seen this monkey?” I asked.
“Yes, it’s really a cute little thing. It’s a little dirty, but that’s how monkeys are. This friend of mine won’t go anywhere without it.” The man said.
“You know this company?” I asked.
“No, but I do know the magazine that he found it in.” He said.
“So what’s the magazine?” I asked.
“Young Bondage. They sell it at 7-11. It’s behind the counter. It comes wrapped in plastic. It’s pretty kinky…” I slammed the receiver down. I was on a mission.

There is no point in my detailing the fact that I was buying porno in the local 7-11. There is no point in going into who I knew in the line when I asked the clerk to reach behind the counter and get it. The point is that I had to flip through that magazine to the back page and read the want ads. Then I found it:
I knew this. That area code was somewhere in Texas. I hustled the cover around the back of the magazine and charged towards the phone. Once again, the numbers leaped out of my fingertips, like small static electricity charges. It was all coming together. I had always been curious about monkeys and here I was, almost at the door. Jeff had warned me, I guess the guy over the phone had warned me, and the Young Bondage episode could have been considered a warning, but I was almost there.
“Celestial Monkey Company, Marlena speaking.” Spoke the voice, the sultry voice with a drawl.
“I’d like to order a monkey.” I stammered. I didn’t even want the monkey. I wanted to see if it could be done.
“Where are you calling from sir?” The question that could derail it all was now in the air.
“Northern California.” I said. I figured if I said northern that she might cut me a break. Or she might have a drop box in Oregon. My question would be answered and I could finish this.
“Not a problem. Shipping to California is tricky; I will have to put in you in touch with my supervisor.” She said.
“Put him on.” I said.
“She will be on shortly.” She said, tersely. The next think I knew, I was listening to Peter Gabriel classics on their in house hold station. It was a solid fifteen minutes on my bill before I heard another voice.
“Hello, this is Joanna, you calling from California?” She asked.
“Yes, I am calling from California.” I said.
“Here is the thing: We can’t legally send you a monkey. We can however, send you a gift. If you like the gift, feel free to mail us one-hundred and eighty nine dollars. There will be a form in there.”
“Will my gift come with instructions?” I asked.
“Just how to care for it.” She responded.
“Well, let me give you my address so I can get this gift.”
“First you have to answer a series of questions. I have to record the rest of this phone call.” She said.
“Record away.” I said.

The questions that she asked me to respond to were more like legal mumbo jumbo to keep the CPC out of trouble in case my gift went haywire. It also made it clear that I could not hold them responsible for the gift that I was receiving. When I pressed her, she told me that the gift was small and metallic. I also agreed to send her the money within my first week of having the gift, or else I would be held legally responsible. She took my Visa number for a credit authorization and that was the end of it. I agreed to all and finished the phone call.

My package was on my doorstep the next morning. It stunk. The box smelled musty, like a smoking lounge, yet there was an acrid high end to the smell, like that of bile. I could smell it through the door in the walkway. I really wasn’t expecting it then, I was just on my way to get the newspaper. I picked the box up. I shook it. The box shook back at me. I knew that I had my monkey.
I took the box to the kitchen table and opened it slowly. Inside was the cutest little humanoid that I had ever seen. He was curled up in a fetal position. He looked up at me with squinty eyes. I was sure that he actually smiled at me. He sat up, rubbed his eyes and hopped out of the box. The box was stained black on the inside. It was a thick, tar like blackness. This blackening was all over the monkey. He was cute, yet foul. I looked into the box. There was a stained black envelope taped to the side of the box. I reached in carefully, around the monkey and detached the letter. The monkey suddenly lurched in my direction. Towards my face with his teeth bared. I jumped back, but it was too late. He had grabbed me by the ear and he swung around my head and perched on my shoulder. He sat there. I froze. I wasn’t sure what to do. If I moved, I could feel the wrath of the little primate. He froze. Then I felt a little movement. Something was fiddling with my ear. He was stroking at the lobe with his gentle little hands. I had heard of monkey bites before, and I didn’t want this little thing to take a chunk out of my ear.
I walked slowly towards the bathroom. Slow deliberate steps, like the ones you make when you are trying to act sober when you are not. I went around the corner. I faced myself in the bathroom mirror. There was the monkey. He was filthy. My face was dirty from that musty smoky grime that the monkey was covered with. My shoulder on my white t-shirt was completely blackened. There sat the monkey, holding my ear, and from what I could tell, kissing it. I reached up and over slowly. I scratched the little fellow on the head. He arched his back, enjoying my touch. I scratched him on his neck, and under his chin. He was content. His leap from the box must have been our bonding moment.
I went back to the box, looking for that instruction envelope. The monkey shifted and hung onto me. His hands went through my hair. He moved all over my shoulders. I could feel his grime. I was beginning to smell like him. I began to know his musty, barroom smell very well.
I found the envelope. Inside of it was a little key chain. It was of a flat metallic monkey. It said, ‘God grant me the serenity to accept this monkey.” There was a letter, but it was merely the receipt and my bill for the hundred plus dollars for the ‘gift.’
“Ha!” I said. I knew that I wasn’t going to pay this bill. I was also rather miffed that there were no real instructions on how to care for this guy. Suddenly I heard a croak, followed by a splat at my feet. I held out my left hand in front of him. He jumped onto it, blackening it. I examined him closely. His fur was matted with this filthy blackness. I began to wonder if this blackening was something that he was secreting from his skin. I looked closer. The monkey opened his mouth, wide. I looked into it thinking to myself that he was used to being scrutinized this way. I was examining his pink little tongue when I heard the croak again. The monkey leaned back a little; the croak had come from his throat. Suddenly, my face was covered with a syrupy, brown liquid. The little bugger had projectile vomited in my face. My eyes stung. The vomit had a sickly sweet yet abrasive aroma about it, like that of molasses mixed with gasoline.
I rushed to the bathroom; monkey in hands. I tried to put him down in the sink, so I could wash myself off. The monkey clung to my arm. He scurried up my arm and back to my shoulders. I am sure that he left a black trail behind him, though the smell of his sugary vomit and the sting in my eyes kept me from seeing it. I wanted a shower. I wanted a shower alone. This meant that I had to put the monkey somewhere. Anywhere. I turned the tap of the sink on. I splashed cold water in my face. The vomit stuck like petroleum jelly to my face. I did manage to clear my eyes and I could see that I was a total mess. My entire upper torso was covered with this black, smoky grime, and my face was covered with an oily, unctuous mucous by-product. I needed a shower at that very instant.
I turned the sink water off and whirled around to start a shower. I bent to turn the tap on, the monkey scrambled up to perch on my head. He was a quiet, affectionate thing, but I was already growing tired of him. I heard him croak and felt the vomit whiz by my ear and saw it splash in the tub. I manipulated the hot and cold and then twisted the knob that sends the water through the shower spicket. I lumbered back. I tore my shirt off. The monkey latched onto my hair so that he wouldn’t get tossed aside with my now blackish–white shirt. The thought crossed my mind to throw the monkey into the toilet and slam the lid down so that I could have some privacy, but then I thought against it. I tore off my jeans and underwear and hopped into the shower. The monkey re-settled on my shoulder, content to have the water run over him. I looked down and saw a thick, inky, black swath heading down my body from the shoulder where the monkey sat. I moved so that he was directly underneath the water. The trail of liquid grime continued to pulse from his body. It seemed like it would never end. I reached up and scrubbed him with a bar of soap. The white bar turned to a dirty gray, and the grime continued to seep from his fur.
The shower was a solid forty-five minutes. When we stepped out, the monkey was clean. I had given him a shampoo. I was clean too. I just needed to shave, and then I was going to go to Pet Fun to see Jeff and show him Brak, my monkey. I named him Brak because that was the sound that came from his throat when he vomited. I was convinced that this vomit thing that he did wasn’t a sign of illness, but some sort of learned behavior. Brak was alert. Brak seemed lucid. I didn’t know a thing about monkeys only two hours before, and now I was a scholar.
As I shaved my neck, I saw that my shoulder was beginning to get dirty again. I noticed that as Brak dried, the grime had once again begun to ooze out of his fur. Soon, my shoulder and my neck were completely black again. I finished shaving, threw on some pants and went to the kitchen to use the phone. I was going to have to ask Jeff about this dirty monkey problem that I was having.

“Pet Fun, Jeff speaking.”
“Jeff, this is Peter. I ordered a monkey; he is sitting here on my shoulder.” I said.
“You have a monkey?” Jeff asked.
“Yeah, I thought about our conversation and I got one. I ordered it from some company in Texas; they got it to my house overnight.”
‘What kind is it?” He asked. I could feel the excitement in his voice.
“Dirty. This thing is filthy. I just washed it and it’s already dirty again. Its skin weeps some sort of black nasty ooze.” I said.
“I never heard of that.” Jeff said.
“Can you ask around? Get me some pointers? The little fella is cool and all, but I am getting filthy dealing with him.” I said.
“Hey, I have to go, we are gonna fight some Betas in the back. I’ll come by later this week ok?” Jeff said. Then he hung up. He must have really been in a rush.
Suddenly, I didn’t feel so good. I had a sick stomach. Just as soon as I was aware that my stomach felt nauseous, my head began to spin. I went to lie down on my bed. I blacked out. The monkey was sitting on my chest.

When I awoke, the walls were black with little handprints. I sat up and it looked like someone had dumped a bucket of oil over my bed. The bed was slick with Brak’s smoky oily funk. I could tell that my face was covered too, based on how I could see the blackness caked on my cheeks when I looked down. The monkey was nowhere to be found. I stepped into the hall. It looked like someone had taken a hose connected to a tar vat and sprayed the lower half of the hallway with it. The smoky, urine smell was everywhere. There were handprints all the way to the ceiling at some points. The light bulb that was in the ceiling was a dirty gray. Brak must have hung from it at some point.
I walked into the living room. My normally white walls were slick with monkey oil. The floor was covered, as if a big party had happened and oil had been struck in the center of the room. Every fixture, every picture, every last thing had been touched and molested by Brak and his filthy little hands.
I was done. It was time to return the monkey. I remembered something about that in my call with the Celestial Primate Company. I just had to find the foul little bi-ped. I headed for the kitchen, but stopped suddenly. I couldn’t breathe. Then I began to cough. I hacked and hacked and hacked. Black, sticky tar shot out of my nostrils and my mouth. It tasted horrible. It tasted bitter, like bad milk. It looked like syrup though; it looked like that same tar that Brak had been coughing up. I must have coughed for five minutes, hacking up what felt to be the very bottom recesses of my lungs. It hurt. I could taste blood in the back of my mouth. I had obviously contracted this disease from Brak. Who could I call? How was I to explain? I had what seemed to be the Ebola virus.
When I finished coughing, I made my way into the kitchen. The floor was a solid eighth of an inch deep in monkey ink. It stunk and the smell was misty like a cloud. I saw Brak, in the refrigerator, the door was wide open. He was working his way through it, level by level. The entire interior was black and slick. I lunged forward in time to catch his little inhuman eye. There was a glimmer of something in that eye. Something like hate. I slammed the door shut on him and leaned against the door.
I surveyed the room; there was nothing that I could really prop against the fridge. Everything in the room was black and slick. Every last white chair was smudged with little handprints. The cupboards had been rifled and all of the dishes were befouled with this inky, oily crud that Brak oozed. With my back to the fridge, I began to think. I began to wonder what to do about this. Suddenly there was a knock at the front door.
“It’s open! Come in!” I screamed. I heard the door creak open. I heard pacing down the hallway. Jeff turned into the kitchen area; his face was that of total bewilderment.
“What the hell happened in here?” He asked.
“It’s Brak, the monkey.” I said.
“You told me about this monkey two days ago, and I was looking forward to seeing it, but you haven’t returned any of my calls.” He said.
“Two days ago? I just called you this morning…oh shit.” I said. I began to put it all together. I really was sick. Brak had really infected me. I had blacked out for two days. That was how the mess had been so extreme in the house.
“Where is he?” Jeff asked.
“He’s trapped in the fridge!” I said. I was beginning to realize how weak I felt.
“Did he leave all of this black peanut butter stuff all over the place?” Jeff asked.
“Yeah.” I said.
“Well, what do you want to do?” Jeff asked.
“I don’t know. Catch him and send him back?” I said.
“Ok, I’ll get a bag. You have anything cloth?” He asked.
“Yeah, in my room. It’ll be black. Everything in there is black. It should be hanging on the foot of my bed. I put my dirty drawers in there.”
Jeff hustled down the hall. I heard him slip on the oleaginous black secretions and fall, with a profanity. Jeff came back into the room with my hamper bag, it was soaked black.
“Ok, you open the door and I’ll bag him.” Jeff said. I looked down; I was still backed up against the fridge. Between my legs, I could see a newer, thicker wave of that pungent dark ooze beginning to swirl around my feet. It was coming from the base of the fridge.
“He’s on the second shelf.” I said. I hadn’t seen any violence from this monkey, so I didn’t think that there would be any problems. I opened the door and stepped out of the way. Jeff lurched unto the fridge. From my vantage point, around the door, I could only see Jeff’s lower torso as he grappled with the monkey in the fridge. He suddenly shrieked and jumped back. The monkey was clamped around Jeff’s throat. I couldn’t tell how. What I could tell was that it was furry and dirty. Jeff’s face and neck were black. His hands pried at the monkey. Jeff fell backward into the wet floor and clawed viciously at his throat. His eyes were wide and his mouth was locked in a horrified ‘o’.
Jeff finally pulled the monkey free from his neck and threw it against the wall with a splat. He coughed spastically for a few minutes. Brak lay still.
“I think I killed the little bitch.” Jeff barked.
“Jeff, you’re bleeding!” I said, stepping towards him. I was right. The monkey had torn a chunk out of his neck. Jeff reached up and covered the wound. Blood flowed through his hands and mixed with the black slickness already covering his Motorhead t-shirt.
“He bit me!” Jeff screamed, hoarsely. Jeff jumped to his feet, wild eyed. He looked past me and ran down the hall towards the front door. I heard him open it and slam it. I heard his Volkswagen engine start and I heard his van careening out of my driveway.
I slumped to my ass on the floor. I was tired. I looked towards Brak. I had such a mess to clean up. I didn’t even know what this black tar stuff was; let alone, how to clean it.
Brak was lying on his back. His head was in my direction. He was watching me. Our eyes locked. It was creepy. His eyes were very aware of me, yet very animal. Brak rolled onto his stomach and began to crawl to me, through the oil now a half inch thick on the floor. He crawled slowly, like a marine through a mine field. He was working towards me, never breaking eye contact. What was he, a foot? A foot and a half long? I knew then and there that I was about to go to war with this little thing. I stood. I needed something heavy. I needed something that would wreck this little critter. Then I could get to the hospital and do something. I skirted around the room slowly. Brak kept on crawling, methodically. His eyes never left mine, though mine left his as I looked for a stick, a frying pan, anything. I knew that there was a broom right around the corner; all I had to do was get there. I was backing toward the door when he pounced. His little body coiled and he sprung at me. He flew through the air, like a sponge flying through the air, leaving a trail of greasy ink droplets. I flailed my arms at him, trying to block the incoming wet missile. I missed and he landed on my throat. One of his wet, nasty hands shot towards my nose. I felt his little fingers probing my left nostril. I exhaled hard through my nose. He only plunged his sticky arm further up my nose; I could feel his fingers in the back of my throat. He had worked his hand all the way through my nose. I staggered and fell face first towards the floor. I felt his other hand pull at my lower lip. I felt like gagging. I did gag, but I clenched my teeth. Something told me that he was trying to get into my mouth. He was pulling ferociously at my lower lip. I snapped my head back and coughed. I could feel his little fingers tickling the back of my throat. His elbow was in the opening rim of my nose. The skin was ripping. My lip pulled away from him and he lost his grip. He reached up and re-gripped my lower lip. I was up on all fours now. My eyes were wincing from the pain that I felt at the back of my throat, where he was ripping away with his little monkey fingernails.
Again, I pulled my lip away. Then, through a squinting eye, I saw him make a little monkey fist with his free hand. He used that fist against my clenched teeth. His little knuckles also broke my lips, causing a spray of blood as my head recoiled. I saw his little fist rise again. This time the impact left me flat on my back, sloshing in monkey juice. I don’t know how many times he knocked on my teeth until I finally opened that door, but I finally broke down and opened my mouth. As soon as I opened it, I felt his arm slide out of my nose. I felt both of his hands on my lower teeth and jaw. I was on my back, looking at the ceiling. The foul, acidic taste of the monkey was all through my mouth and in the back of my throat.
I felt a tug, like he was pulling at my teeth. Then the monkey’s face came into view. He looked me dead in the eyes again. I thought I detected a smile. I wasn’t sure, but I felt another tug at my teeth. Then I realized that he wasn’t pulling at my teeth, he was pulling at my jaw. Brak leaned back and yanked with a force that dislocated it. I reached up with my hands to stop him. He turned his head and bit at my fingers, partially severing one of them. The pain exploded through my throat. My jaw was off its hinges, and I thrashed around like I had been shot in the face. There was a vicious pop and I realized that my jawbone had been broken. My eyes were wide with pain. The tears streamed down my face into the monkey sludge underneath my head. I screamed, but I couldn’t really control my tongue. The sound was shrill, like that of a little girl. Then I felt something furry and wet in the back of my throat. Brak was inside my mouth. His motion irritated my broken jaw. I rolled over onto my stomach, and then I worked up onto all fours as he fought his way down my throat. I felt his scraping and scrambling against the inside of my mouth. Black thick wetness dripped from my bloodied lips. I stumbled towards the bathroom. I had to see this. I had to look into the mirror and see this for myself. When I came around the corner, I could already feel Brak making his way down my throat. It felt like my throat was going to split. I had too much in there. I tried to cough, but there was no air. I looked into my face in the mirror; my cheeks were blown out from Brak’s size and split at the corners. Blood freely flowed from my nose and from my shattered lips. I was covered with Brak’s black sludge. I tried again to breath and was able to get no grasp on oxygen. I felt lightheaded. There was only a few more seconds that I had until I would black out. I grabbed on the monkey’s tail, which was hanging out towards my chest. I pulled on it as hard as I could, and I felt him anchor his little nails into the sides of my throat. I felt the new wounds bleed as he thrashed and slashed his way down my throat. Suddenly my belly was full, and I fell over, blacking out.
I don’t know how long I was out. It must have been for some time, because when I awoke, all of my wounds were scabbed over, and the sludge that was a brook running through the house was now a grimy, cake like substance. The black crud everywhere reminded me of the truth; that Brak was in my stomach. I didn’t understand. I went to the kitchen and looked for the box that I had ordered. I wanted to find the number for the Celestial Primate Company. The box wasn’t there. It seemed that things were disintegrating around me. The floorboards weren’t as solid as they had been. My skin hurt wherever the grime was caked. Then I realized that I really was sick I felt the beginnings of some serious diarrhea churning in the base of my stomach. My head was spinning. I needed something, but I didn’t know what it was.
Then I felt it. I felt Brak shifting around in my stomach. I looked down and saw my belly moving in whatever direction Brak chose to move in. I saw an elbow sliding up my stomach towards my ribcage. I didn’t know what to do about it, so I punched myself in the stomach. Pain gripped me, from the inside. Brak had an organ or two and he was thrashing against them. I dropped to my knees. I needed to get this damn monkey out of me. I needed an abortion. I felt him shift, and I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to take this pain for much longer. There was a slash from the inside of my stomach. I was pretty sure that he was going to slash his way out. I was about to relive that scene in Alien.
Well, I wasn’t up to it. I walked and stumbled, kicking up flecks of damp monkey fudge all the way to my toolbox. I tore into it and pulled out the longest screwdriver I could find. Then I tried to remember what side my heart beats on. I placed the screwdriver to my chest and ran full speed into the wall at the other side of the room. The screwdriver went in, and countersunk the handle a bit. I bounced off the wall, landing flat on my back. The pain was extreme. I missed my heart. I had punctured a lung. I felt like I was in the middle of a Los Angeles smog alert. Suddenly, I couldn’t fill my lungs with air any more. I was hyperventilating. I sat up, got to my knees and placed both hands on the golden, clear handle of the screwdriver. In two painful yanks, I pulled it free. Blood sprayed out of the wound with a strong jet that lasted for a second. Then there was a steady stream bubbling out of my chest. I knew I was done for. I started to crawl towards the phone. I now needed medical attention. I didn’t care about whatever laws I had broken, I just wanted to live. I reached for the phone and dialed 9-1-1. I felt something stirring within me. Something was working its way towards my chest wound from the inside. I screamed what I could as I saw Brak’s little fingers poke out of the hole. I was in no shape to talk to a 9-1-1- operator. I dropped the receiver and tried to concentrate on breathing, quite aware that Brak was picking his way out of me, through the doorway I had started.

I awoke in a hospital bed. Next to me on a nightstand in a jar was a huge jar, filled with formaldehyde and containing the corpse of Brak. I tried to sit up, but was handcuffed to the bed. I wouldn’t have been able to sit up as it was, my chest and stomach were a detailed map of swelling stitches. I looked to my left and right.
“You took quite a beating there son.” A voice said. Then the voice’s body paced over to my bedside. It was a big craggy-faced man. He had his detective badge out and was holding it in my face.
“Where did you get that monkey?” He asked.
“I ordered it through a magazine.” I said.
“This magazine?” He asked. He held up my copy of Young Bondage. It was blackened and cruddy. I realized that it was in a sealed evidence bag.
“Yeah, that’s it.”
“Kid, what you were dealing with was a new breed of monkey. You were dealing with a hybrid of several different monkeys. Those things are killing machines.” He said.
“Why do they sell them in porno magazines?” I asked, faintly.
“Who in their right mind is going to order a monkey out of a porno magazine?”
“Um, I did.” I said.
“Well look at you now!” He chuckled hard. He threw the magazine down on my chest and I winced.
“You should have known better than to test California state law on this one. You are lucky to still be alive!” He said. I rolled my eyes. I wanted this to all end. Hadn’t I already tried to kill myself?
“They are breeding these monkeys in southern states. They are apparently going to be used in some level of warfare at some point. Celestial Primate Company? No, no, no. That is Combat Primate Corporation. These guys are on the FBI’s most wanted list. We are going through your phone records now. We have also gotten a hold of your credit card transcripts. We are trying to find out where these people are located.” He said.
“The disease that these things are carrying is extremely toxic. It spreads like wildfire. We feel that there are certain deviant government operatives that are working double time to use these death monkeys against the US population. We have been trying to stop the smut influx, but as you can see, anyone over eighteen can order one of these monkeys. If one person gets out with while infected with this stuff, it could be the end of civilization as we know it. It’ll definitely threaten the lifestyle that we have here in California. Now you didn’t share your little find with anyone son, did you?”

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Horror Show

-Here is another I have been sitting on for quite some time. I was in an ugly space in my life, and that ugliness is all over this. I graphed out its finish, but thank God, I had my catharsis and never fleshed out the grand finale. You should be thankful too, because it wasn't pretty. This one is kinda rough.

Paul just wanted a drink. He stepped into the liquor store on the corner for some beer. His mind wasn’t on what kind of beer; he just wanted a drink. His heart was low, and he was trying to figure it out. He reached for a six-pack of Budweiser. Normally, he never drank domestic beer, but with his low heart, the taste wasn’t going to matter anyway. He waited in line. In front of him was a woman pushing a stroller with what looked like a two-year old boy, rambunctious as hell, fidgeting in it. She pushed the stroller forward, because she was next in line. She purchased a pack of gum. Juicy Fruit, the kind that makes breath really stink after about an hour. Paul looked down at the kid. The way that the mother had pushed the stroller, the kid was engulfed in magazines. The kid was quiet.

Paul’s walk back to his apartment was a slow one. Paul was a sturdy young man. His shoulders were broad, and he had the build of one who may or may not work out at the gym regularly. This was a result of his heavy lifting that he had to do on the job. Paul loaded and unloaded lumber with a forklift. The work sounds relatively easy, but there were many times that Paul would have to use muscle to straighten things out. There was a lot of stacking and a lot of piling to be done besides regular forklift work. Paul had shaved his head back to a fade all over his head. He’d had long hair, but the heat from the job had given his scalp fever blisters. The sun was something that Paul really didn’t like. With his fair skin, he wound out looking ruddy all the time. Paul was in a perpetual blush during the week. On the weekends, he turned back to his normal complexion, but during the week, Paul was always on the lookout for the big sunburn.
He’d had a horrible day. It had been cliché it was so horrible. His forklift had broken at the yard, and it was noon before it could be serviced. He’d had trucks backed up out of the lumberyard and up the street. The only thing that had been keeping him sane was the fact that he was going to meet Linda that evening. Linda had called him just before his shift had ended. She had told him that she had to go and do something with her mother. Paul had accepted it at the time. Plans change. The problem was that as he drove home, he had to drive by her house, and he saw Chuck’s car nearby. Paul knew exactly who Chuck was. Chuck was Linda’s ex. Chuck was a skinny, pasty white guy with bad acne scars. Paul always wondered what the physical attraction had been between them. Paul was no judge of men, but he knew ugly when he saw it. Paul had never surrendered to the fact that Chuck and Linda could just be friends. He knew that Linda had been intimate with Chuck, and it was a slight to him every time Chuck was around. Chuck was humble enough about it, but still, his very presence stated that ‘I did things with your girlfriend long before you did.’

It had always been painful to him. Paul referred to it as ‘the old wound.’ Paul was a romantic. He wanted to be able to put his past behind him and move on. He had always felt that a new relationship with a female meant that the previous relationships were dead in the water. They had to be. Paul knew who he was. He knew that he couldn’t be trusted. He knew that as soon as something bad happened between his current girlfriend and him, that if the previous were around, he could run to them. He had always expected Linda to play the same game. She did not. Linda liked to keep them around, like so many dicks in jars, Paul thought. Keeping them there just in case something bad happened with her current lover, she could fall back on the previous.
This logic had always been obvious to Paul. He had hated it. Linda’s defense was that she valued friendship, and that friendship should transcend the sexual acts of the past. How ridiculous.

So the old wound had pulsed again as he drove by Linda’s house. He knew that Chuck was in there. He knew that they were probably just talking. But it still killed him. He was jealous, but then again, if he were challenged on the jealousy, he wouldn’t really have much evidence to go on.

The day had progressed though. Linda had called again and said that her Mother didn’t need her help, but she was going to call it an early night anyway. Paul had asked if he could come over, and she had told him no. This had shaken Paul. He decided to go over anyway.

After driving up to the house, and seeing that Chuck was still there he made his decision. Paul knocked on the door and Chuck answered. Chuck looked flustered and Linda ran up behind him looking flustered too. Paul had intruded. They still had their clothes on, but it was the lie. Linda was looking good with her hair cascading down her back. She was looking good in her Levi’s. She was looking good in her Aerosmith t-shirt. Paul absorbed how attractive she was, but this attraction was being obscured by anger and a flurry of other emotions that he couldn’t control. Linda’s glasses perched on her perfect nose in that was that Paul liked. Her smile seemed sincere. The problem was that there was something foul in the air. Paul realized that Linda had this separate life with Chuck that he wasn’t a part of. But wasn’t Paul Linda’s boyfriend? Even if the relationship that Linda had with Chuck was purely innocent, why? Why would she lie to him about this? Paul didn’t understand, and Linda had no real good explanations. There was anger, and there were words. Paul left her house heartbroken, even though he hadn’t set foot inside. Even though he hadn’t caught them in a sexual act, it was the lies, the lies that Linda told. How many more were there? Did Paul want to know? Paul wanted a drink.

It was a four-year relationship that was tearing him apart. Paul had put in four years. He had trusted for four years. He just wanted to understand the lies. Linda had told him when he had caught her lying to him before that she didn’t want to tell him, because she didn’t want to deal with his jealousy. Paul didn’t understand. He couldn’t. He had cleared his life out for her, but she wouldn’t do the same for him. When his relationship was good with Linda, it was heavenly, but when it was bad, it was hell on earth. It was beer time.

Back at the apartment, Paul pulled a beer and cracked it. He turned on the television and drank. Television was useless. There was a plate on top of the television. A dirty fork was to the side of it. The remains of last night’s chicken still sat on the plate. Paul had been in such a rush to get to work that morning that he hadn’t even bothered to clean up. He surveyed the room. He had been in a good mood in the past few days, but the rooms were messy. His clothes were everywhere. There was the pile of newspapers by the door. That pile had been building for the past month, Paul had just been too busy to recycle or throw them away or whatever the hell you do with old papers.

Paul looked down at the ground and saw that the grit and the pieces and ends of entropy were thick. He hadn’t vacuumed in weeks. Paul accepted the fact that he was a total slob. Was this why Linda still ran back to Chuck? Paul knew that the sloppiness that he was surrounded with was about to get significantly worse. When a man has to heal on the emotional level, things have to take a back seat, or maybe even get thrown out of the back window. House hygiene was one of those things.

Paul couldn’t get the betrayal out of his head. He slugged the beer back, and finished the can. He focused his teary eyes on the television screen to see that he was supposed to be watching an infomercial on quick cash made by uneducated people.

Paul got up for another beer. On the crumb-covered kitchen table, was a pile of papers, receipts. These were the purchases of his life of late. A coffee here, a burrito there. The receipts gave the time and place and price of all of the mediocre purchases. The receipts told him the titles of the CDs, the types of burritos and the titles of the magazines purchased. They spoke of his life on an intimate level that a stranger would really be able to appreciate. As he fumbled his second beer from the plastic ring that kills seagulls at beaches, the phone rang. Paul stumbled towards it. He loped like a man that had been shot in the center of his back. Then he stopped. It was time for Linda to go. He knew that he couldn’t take her anymore. He knew that she would run back to Chuck or whoever she wanted if he was gone. Paul had weighed the pain, and he knew that it would hurt more to keep her around then to let her go. It was time for her to go. His hand hesitated over the receiver. He picked it up.

“Hello.” He said. He kept his voice serious. He didn’t want to reveal to her that he might actually like hearing her voice.

Paul! Paul! What’s up! It’s William!” The voice yelled. Paul had to figure himself out.

Ohhhhh, I thought that this was going to be someone else. Hey William, what’s up?” Paul asked. He wanted to sound as excited as William sounded, but he really was not.

“Yeah, we have a bachelor party going down here, and we need you to be a part of it!” William said.

“Look , Billy, I really ain’t up to celebrating the idea of marriage. I think that Linda and I just broke up.” Paul said.

“Just all the more reason for this! Look! It’ll be just a few guys. Richard is getting married; we thought that a night of drinks and porn could be fun! Come on! Richard just asked Maria to marry him last week. We have to get this thing going now. Like tomorrow night! Come on! If you don’t have Linda, what else are you going to do with your Friday night?” William had a good point.

Paul began to consider this friend William. William was the exact kind of guy that would plan a bachelor party with beer and porn. The thing was that Paul wasn’t really interested in a bunch of porn right now. With Linda gone, it would simply remind him of what she and Chuck were probably doing right at that very moment. Paul had always been indifferent to porn. He could take or leave it. It was fun to look at it from time to time, but Paul was much more interested in the real thing.

“Porno and beers? Is there anything else going on?” Paul asked.

“Hey, this is some real special footage that I picked up from my brother. I guarantee you that you have never seen this stuff before. I really want you guys to see this stuff. It is going to freak you out!” William said.

“What, you have bestiality or something?” Paul asked. He wasn’t curious yet, but it was coming.

“It’s the new level of porn. That’s all I want to say. It takes it to the next level. I think the stuff is killer!” William was extremely excited.
“Killer, huh? Let me drink this beer that I have here, and call you back.” Paul said.

“Call me tomorrow if you want. I’ll give you the directions to the motel. Oh, and bring twenty bucks.” William said.

“Got it, later.” Paul said. He was done. He hung up the phone. Porn and beers on a Friday night? Maybe back when he was fifteen, but now? At twenty-seven? There had to be more for a recently made single man to do.

“I fucked up.” Paul said to himself in the mirror. He was looking himself dead in the eyes. His hair was wet. It hung down his face like seaweed. The steam from the shower he’s just had hung about him like cigarette smoke.

“I should have never trusted her. I should have never trusted her. I should have never trusted her.” He repeated again and again and again. The problem was that he still wanted to trust her. He wanted this rift to all go away. He wanted it all to be as it had been not so long ago. The problem was that she had lied. If she was lying about this, what else was she lying about? Why had she chosen to lie about this? Why couldn’t she have just told him the truth? What was so important about this Chuck motherfucker that made Linda want to lie to him? She was breaking his heart. The problem was that Paul was a man, and a man as far as Paul knew, could not admit to emotional struggles.

Re-calibrating the heart is a hard thing to do. Paul’s method was one of the hardest. Anger from betrayal was the start, but then it would have to descend into all out hatred. Paul was one of those people who could never deal with the same lover again on a friendship level. He didn’t want to keep Linda around. This relationship was going to have to die. Paul now knew that Linda was going to want to keep him around like she kept Chuck around. Paul wasn’t ready for that. Paul knew that he was going to have to hurt her. He was going to have to hurt her is such a way that she would never want to come back to him. If she was going to break his heart, then he was going to have to break her’s back, and hard.

The intimacies that Paul had shared with Linda were not to be trivialized. Paul had actually loved her. If she wanted to keep him around as a friend, she was sorely mistaken. Paul wasn’t geared that way. He couldn’t be. Suppose Paul was to get involved with someone else. Would he always want to have Linda in the background? No. Would he subject his new lover to what he had just been subjected to with Chuck? Paul didn’t will the pain that he felt on anyone. It really frosted him that Linda couldn’t see his angle. Paul was furious with her. If there was one person who needed to feel the pain that Paul felt, Linda was the one. Paul was angry, he needed to stick with his resolve. The resolve was to kick Linda out and never deal with her on an intimate level again. Sure, there was business that had to transpire. Sure, he was going to have to ransack her car and house to get back his things, but this was going to have to be over. He had to bolster up. He had to toughen himself. Paul had to make himself strong, or he was going to get hurt by this woman, and Chuck, again. More beer.

As Paul held his dialogue with himself in the mirror, the phone rang in the other room. Paul, already toweled around the waist, went and answered it.

“Hello?” He asked.

“Paul, this is Linda.” She said. Paul had been bracing himself for this one.

“Yeah?” Paul asked. He was hurt. Why would she call now? What could she want? She had to know how bad he’d been hurt. She had to. He didn’t want to let the guard down. He had to keep the front on. He had to let her know that the distance that was coming across the phone lines were her doing. A plan was hatching in the back of Paul’s head. It was like the opening of an ugly blossom. The potential for pain was about to be realized.

“Paul, it’s not what you think. Why are you so suspicious? Why don’t you just accept the fact that I can have a relationship with this guy? It doesn’t change who you are to me. It doesn’t change it in the least. You are still my boyfriend. Chuck? He’s just a friend. He doesn’t matter on that level. It’s you I want, not him. Can’t you understand this?” Linda was using a soft voice, attempting to disarm him.

“Then why lie to me, Linda? Why the deception? Why would you play me like that? I don’t understand. If you and Chuck are so…innocent, why give me the bullshit line?” Paul spoke. His voice was strong, almost harsh.

“I didn’t want you worrying about it. I didn’t want you thinking other things. Chuck needed to talk to me about relationship problems that he is having with his current girlfriend. He needed me to talk to him. I know how you feel about his and my relationship. I recognized him as a friend and tried to make it work. It backfired. I’m sorry.” Linda said.

“You lied to me. You lied to me about a previous lover of yours. How am I supposed to feel? I don’t keep my previous girlfriends around for you to wonder about. Do you know that I wonder about you two, because I see him around? I wonder how you two were as lovers. I think of his hands on you. I think of him inside of you. I think of you looking at him like he is your one and only. That shit doesn’t just change. There is still some sort of bond there that you two have. I can’t be a part of it. I was never a part of it. And then you are going to go and lie to me so that you can spend time with him, while he talks about his new lover? Linda, I need some time. I need some time to think about whether I trust you or not. I have to go.” Paul slammed the receiver down.

He had thrown it in her face, where it belonged. This selfish woman was only thinking of herself on this one. Was she running a double standard? Paul wasn’t sure. Paul felt the desire to call an ex-girlfriend and talk to her, just to spite Linda. The situation was ugly. Paul knew that it was ugly, and he wanted to make it better. At that time though, Paul had to just contain his anger. He felt the swelling of hatred, not for Linda, but for Chuck. The lingering though of beer tingled in the back of his head again.

Chuck was disrespecting Paul’s space. Paul knew that Chuck knew this. Men know about special relationship issues. A man who is in the space of another man’s female understands the respect that is necessary. Chuck wasn’t playing by the rules. Paul ran the image of Chuck over in his head again and again. He knew that if Chuck was in the room right at that time, that he was capable of murder. Not just any murder, but the kind of murder that is slow and brings lots of pain. Paul thought of bleeding Chuck with paper cuts. Hanging Chuck upside down, and bleeding him drop by drop into a metal bedpan. What would Paul do with the blood? Whip it into a milkshake or something. Paul would have to violate Chuck’s blood in a way that would make Chuck think that if he lived through this horror, that he would never want to see Linda or Paul again. Paul thought of rubbing alcohol on open wounds. He thought of genitals in a vice grip. Paul thought of a sledgehammer to Chuck’s face. Knocking teeth into a skid across the floor. Seeing Chuck’s skull collapse in an unnatural fashion. Having to pull the mallet out of the crater that it had created in his once existent face. It would come with a sucking, gushing sound. Paul was capable of these and other acts of violence at the moment. Paul was furious with this man that he didn’t even really know. He realized that his anger was almost solely for Chuck, and not for Linda. Paul needed to think Linda through again.

And as he thought, he realized how selfish she was. She knew that her relationship with Chuck irked him, yet she continued, oblivious to his feelings. If the whole situation were inverted, how would she feel? He picked up the phone and dialed her back. Speed-dial button. Things were going to have to change around his house.

“Paul!” She said. Her voice was excited. Caller ID. Some things were really going to have to change.

“Linda, listen. Let’s invert this whole situation. Suppose I had an ex around and you were struggling with it. Suppose I lied to you in order to spend more time with the ex? How would you feel?” Paul was trying hard to keep his voice level.

“It wasn’t a lie. I really had to deal with my mother, then I didn’t. I was really off for the evening, and then Chuck came by. I just didn’t tell you.” She said.

“So, you were willing to put the time in with him that was rightfully mine?” Paul asked.

“Chuck is my friend, he needed to talk.” She responded.

“You are evading the question, Linda. How would you feel?” Paul asked. He had to remain stolid in his query. Linda was good at changing subjects. She was good at throwing it back at him.

“I don’t know how I would feel.” She said, calmly. This was the lie. She knew exactly how she would feel. To say that she didn’t know meant that she didn’t want to face the truth. Paul knew this.

“You don’t know? I am hanging out with a woman that I fucked before and we spend all kinds of time together behind your back and you don’t know how you would feel? Linda, tell me the truth. Tell me the truth and we can move on from this.” Paul said.

I can’t have this conversation right now.” Linda said. Then she hung up the phone.
This was when Paul realized that it was over. He realized that she wasn’t going to buckle for him. He now knew that on some deep levels, Chuck meant more to her than he did. Paul now had to decide how ugly his breakup with Linda was going to be. Was he going to explode? Was he going to lash out with all of his venom? Or was he going to leave quietly? Emotional man that Paul was, he was going to have to wait and see what he would do, he had no idea. He now made a beeline to the rest of the sixpack.

Friday came. Paul had almost forgotten to call for directions, because his brain had been so screwed up with Linda. Paul really wasn’t looking forward to the bachelor party. Paul really wasn’t feeling sexual at all. He felt little or no desire to see a naked woman, let alone, two porn stars in the throes of pseudo-sexual satisfaction.

William was too excited for Paul. The phone conversation was almost completely William yelling to be there at seven o’clock sharp. There wasn’t even a worry about how much beer or money to bring. William wanted to make sure that everyone saw this new level of porn that he had.
Paul wondered to himself for the rest of the afternoon what it could be. As far as he knew, the serious taboos had already been explored. His friend Keith had sent him an email several years before with a picture of a woman having sex with a german shepherd. Paul had read about the countless kiddie porn busts that had been happening across the nation. There were only so many directions that porn could go in. There were only so many different ways a human could wield his or her sexuality. There were only so many different ways a human body could be violated. Paul knew that whatever William had, it was going to ruin him on a level. There was no real excitement in it for Paul either. A good horror film was what Paul needed, that was the kind of escape that would have worked for him. Paul knew this. He needed his escape. He needed to put his brain on a hook somewhere and zone out. Watching some neo-porn was not going to help him zone out at all.

There was something about porn that made Paul uneasy. In a soft-core sex scene in a standard Hollywood film, it is a given that there is no real penetration involved. This makes the scene ‘safe’. This is actually acting on one level or another. In a hard-core sex scene, it is two actors actually engaging in the sexual act. It is too honest. It is too raw. The voyeurism is too intense. Paul didn’t like porn, because he felt guilty about it. He didn’t like watching the sexual practices of others. He had never reconciled himself to this fact. He would never have wanted anyone to have seen the way he had taken Linda on the bed, or on the floor, or anywhere, so why would he want to view other people engaged in the same thing? He was also afraid that deep down inside of himself, it would corrupt his own performance when it came time for his next sex act. Paul didn’t want to deal with other people’s business, his own was bad enough. The idea of looking at real people involved in real sex scared him. The prospect of real people involved in something that William was saying was new was even further beyond Paul.

Paul wondered what it could possibly be. He wondered if it was rape on film. This had been done. He had read about it. How some of the more recent porn that was coming out was more and more brutal, and that rape was the underlying theme behind it. Paul wondered what kind of man would get off watching a rape scene on film. What did it mean? What had happened to the man that enjoyed watching rape scenes to the point that he would actually feel sexually aroused watching such filth?

The next question was simply that of masturbation. Porn, Paul knew, was merely a masturbation tool. Men play with themselves when they view porn. This is what men are supposed to do. This is what has been accepted. Porn has never had the monicker of ‘stuff to help you whack off’ but just the same, that’s what it is. The idea of sitting in a room, drinking beer, watching porn, crowded in with a bunch of horny, sexually repressed men, scared Paul. It was something that didn’t appeal to him terribly. Paul also began to wonder about the idea of porn being a masturbatory tool. If porn was accepted. If porn was mainstream. If porn was a big part of the juggarnaught known as pop culture, then why weren’t people masturbating in public? Paul began to work this argument through. Pee Wee Herman was busted in a porn theatre for masturbating. The property must have been private where Pee Wee had been located. But Pee Wee was still busted for indecent exposure. If masturbation was ok, then why, would someone be busted for masturbating in a porn theatre of all places?

The final road that Paul’s mind went down before he decided that he would have to wait and see William’s new find was that of the unexplored. Paul as a youngster had watched the Faces of Death movies. After he had sat through three of them with his friends on a Saturday afternoon, Paul had felt violated in some way. The movies showed autopsies and damaged corpses. They showed murder caught on film. They showed suffering and brutality. Men, women and animals were mangled before Paul’s young eyes. Paul was also keenly aware that a lot of this footage, if not all of it was quite real. Paul was aware that these were things that had actually happened to other human beings, and that these were things that he should not have watched. Paul was thinking about how far the sexual act could be pushed. The only things that he could think of was necrophilia. Paul was sure that whatever William had to show them that evening had nothing to do with sex with the dead. Paul was sure of it. But why was William so gleeful? Why was William so giddy about all of this? Paul was going to have to wait. The feeling that Paul had was that of morbid curiosity. He knew that what he was going to observe that evening was going to stay in his brain for the rest of his life. He knew that no matter how drunk, or how stoned he got, he was going to have to contend with whatever images darted off of the television screen in just a few hours. He was aware of this, but he also wasn’t a coward. William had been selling the idea that this was a new dimension in porn for a while now. The other people who were invited to the party had been talking about it. They had been speculating as to what it could possibly be. There was a buzz in the air, courtesy of William. Paul knew that it was something, but he didn’t know what. It was intangible, and Paul felt like a lamb headed for the slaughter.

“Paul? Is that you?” Linda asked through the phone.

“Yeah, Linda, it’s me.” Paul said. His voice was resigned. Pissed, but resigned.

“Paul. Look, I’m sorry about lying to you. I know that it must have hurt you when you realized that it was all about Chuck. I’m sorry. I really am. You have to understand that I don’t feel for him the way that I feel for you.” Linda’s voice was humble. It was smooth. But she wasn’t backing down.

“Linda, I can’t hate you. I can’t stay angry with you forever. I am going to try to understand this whole thing. I am going to try and work with this thing. Yes, I think Chuck is a total prick, but that is my opinion, and he is your friend. I need to respect the fact that you have friends. Listen, don’t lie to me. I hate it when you lie. It kills us.” Paul said. He wasn’t going to make it. He knew that what Linda wanted to do was all about her selfishness within the relationship. He knew that the only way that he could have her back in his life was to allow this Chuck guy in too. Paul wasn’t going to do it, unless there was a way to pay them both back for the damage that they were inflicting upon his psyche.

“Paul, we all lie. We all lie to protect ourselves and to protect those around us. I will try not to lie to you, so long as you promise not to flip your lid next time you see Chuck and I together.”

“It’s a deal. I wish that we could hang out tonight, but I have this bachelor party that I am supposed to go to.” Paul said.

“That’s okay, I need some time to myself. Can we have a date tomorrow night?” Linda asked.

“I would really like that. I mean really. I will also need to decompress after I deal with whatever is going down tonight.”

“Do you guys have a stripper or something?” Linda asked. He voice wasn’t accusatory; it just accepted the fact that this is what men did at bachelor parties.

“No, no stripper, but this guy William keeps on saying that he has this new dimension in porn that he wants to show us.” Paul said.

“Ooooh, new porn? Maybe I should come!” Linda said.

“Yeah, at this point, you could take my place, I am apprehensive about this. The guy is pushing it almost to maniacal proportions. He is so hell-bent on all of us seeing this stuff. It is actually beginning to make me wonder what the hell he really does have.” Paul said.

“Well, tomorrow we can meet and we can swap notes. Have fun, honey!” Linda said.

“Yeah, I’ll try.” Paul said.

“I love you.” Linda proffered.

“I have to go, I’ll call you tomorrow.” Paul said. He wasn’t going to step in the love direction. He was still sore. On paper they were still together. But in his heart, that bitch had walking papers.

“Bye-bye.” Linda responded. The conversation ended.

Paul wanted to feel that it was all over. He wanted the peace that said that this grudge match between Linda and himself was done. Inside he knew it was not. Inside he knew that she had sabotaged his trust. Inside he knew that it was going to be awhile before she could earn that trust back. Paul wanted to trust, he really did, but he couldn’t put his whole heart into it at this point. The relationship was going to die...but at this time, is could limp of life-support. Perhaps the distraction of a wicked porn film was what he needed.

There were four teenagers, bound and gagged, being led into a warehouse at gunpoint. Their eyes were wide, like that zebra having his entrails eaten by tigers on the Discovery channel. They were all boys. They were all men. As one stepped closer to camera range, the scene changed. It was a flashback to previous footage. It was the same kid. He was wearing the same clothes, he just wasn’t bound, gagged and scared looking.

“Yeah, I want to show you all how I can fuck.” He said to the camera. He smiled, then broke out with a maniacal laugh.

“I am going to be the star of your new porno!” He yelled. It was obvious that the footage had been filmed in a greasy spoon somewhere. The contrast of this kid’s boyish like features and his zest for life against the original shot of a bound and gagged prisoner was revolting.

The scene cut again. The next young man was paraded before the camera. His long hair obscured his face. The duct tape over his mouth had his hair caught in it. The obvious thing was that his hair was going to rip when the tape was pulled. There was another cut. This time, the young man’s hair was pulled back into a pony-tail. This time, the kid had French fries that he was eating as he talked to the camera. It was the same sort of machismo posturing. How good he was going to be in bed. This happened two more times. First, there were shots of the prisoners, then shots of them at a previous time.

Paul was beginning to feel sick. He knew where this seemed to be going. He looked around the darkened hotel room. His friends were sprawled on the bed, the chairs and the floor. They all seemed totally enraptured with what was on the screen. Paul was disturbed. He knew that this wasn’t going to end in a nice way. He looked over at William, whose curly hair looked like an afro in the dim light. William was smiling. A big satisfied smile. The kind of smile that comes after a hard day’s work.

William!” Paul said.

“Shut up! This is my debut!” William said. Then there was shifting in the room. No one had known that William was actually going to be in this film.

“I don’t want to see you naked!” Jonathan yelled from the floor. His baseball cap was on backward; he was lying on his stomach.

“Yeah! Who wants to see you naked? And what’s up with these guys? I thought that we were watching a porno! This is some gay shit!” John yelled from the bed. John was John so that Jonathan on the floor could keep his name as Jonathan. Neither of them wanted to be called ‘Johnny’.

Suddenly, Jonathan jumped up and shut the television screen off. He hopped over to the door and flicked the light on.

“This is beginning to look like some sort of homo-snuff film, Billy. I think that you have some explaining to do!” Jonathan said. His shirt was off. The baseball cap on his head looked out of place, his swollen pink, hairy belly hung over his pants.

“Look guys. I’m in this. This movie I guess is technically not porno. This is a thing that me and my brother came up with.”

“Ah shit! Now you are going to show us some incest?” John yelled from the bed. There was laughter in the room.

“William, this is my bachelor party, and this is beginning to look really fucked up.” Richard said from the chair. Richard really looked disturbed. His eyes were wide and he was pulling at his moustache with his fingers.

Paul looked around and examined the rest of the people in the room. Mike was on the floor. He was a square-jawed follower. He would do anything that Jonathan told him to do. Jonathan and Mike were inseparable. There were two empty beer bottles next to where Jonathan had been lying, and there were two empty bottles next to Mike. He wore his hair in the surfer, feathery look of the eighties. He was blond, and dumb as a post. Then there was Ian who was standing in the corner, sort of half leaning on the nightstand. Ian was by and large, the sharpest guy of the bunch. He was educated. He had a degree in marketing or something, but he still drove forklifts with the rest of them. The quietest of the bunch was Mitchell, who was sitting at the edge of the bed. He was a large man, with an extremely muscular back. His blue and white plaid shirt was pulled tight across his back, giving him the look of Lou Ferrigno just before the shirt ripped on ‘The Incredible Hulk’. Mitchell had nothing to say, he was simply listening.

You guys, I don’t like this, I’m outta here.” Ian said.

“Awww, come on! You have to see my debut!” William said. William was beginning to look worried.

“William, you know how I feel about porn, and whatever the fuck is going to happen on that screen is nothing that I want anything to do with.” Ian said.

“Don’t be such a party pooper! Stick around for Richard! It’s his bachelor party!” William said.

“Richard, I’ll be at your wedding, but seriously, I don’t think that I need this.” Ian said.

“Yeah William, I mean, what the fuck is this stuff?” Paul asked.

Ian made his way out of the corner that he was in. He didn’t even bother saying goodbye to the people in the room, he just left.

“Guys look, let’s just roll it for ten more minutes and then if you still don’t like it, we can turn it off.” William said.