Ben Newell

oui jan 84 cover

Skyjacking Sleaze with Sci-Fi Chaser:
Charles Bukowski’s “Fly the Friendly Skies”

There’s no stroke mag like an 80s stroke mag. Long live big hair and bountiful bush. Also, this was a time when such publications featured fiction on a regular basis.

Throughout the decadent decade Charles Bukowski contributed a number of short stories to Oui. One of these, “Fly the Friendly Skies,” appeared in the January 1984 issue before fading into obscurity. Virtually forgotten until its reemergence thirty-one years later in The Bell Tolls for No One (City Lights 2015)—a collection of stories edited by notable Bukowski scholar David Stephen Calonne—“Fly” is a noteworthy piece in that it exemplifies the author’s Romantic tendencies, particularly his melding of stark realism with the fantastical.

This lurid skyjacking thriller features a trio of terrorists intent on diverting an L.A.-bound flight to Havana, Cuba. The plane is well on its way, boring through “almost clear skies” when Dak makes the first move, ensnaring a stewardess with “wrapping twine” and forcing her into the cockpit. This leaves Kikid and Nurmo in the cabin where the entire narrative unfolds.

Kikid is particularly sadistic as he attacks a mouthy male passenger with a can opener: “He gouged the pointed end into one of the young man’s eyes and twisted. The scream of pain almost shook the aircraft. The young man held both of his hands to his head where the eye had been . . .” As if this weren’t enough, the terrorist adds insult to injury (literally) by stepping on the eye, effectively “crushing it like a snail.”

Being a story in a hardcore mag, it’s only a matter of time before the assaults turn sexual. Kikid continues his reign of terror, forcing a stewardess to fellate him: “Tightening the twine just a bit about the girl’s throat, Kikid reached down and unzipped his fly. He pulled his penis out. It hung there, limp and ugly.” In typical “Roughie” porn fashion, Kikid degrades the woman as she gobbles his knob: “I love you, you cunt! Oh, get it, get it ALL! Swallow it, you bitch, get it all!” After having her ingest his wad, the lowlife compliments her oral skills.

Then the story shifts in a big way, veering abruptly into sci-fi territory with the arrival of a flying saucer. And it isn’t long before an alien materializes in the airplane’s cabin: “. . . before them appeared a creature quite globular, almost all head with eyes as bright as 500-watt electric bulbs.” The extraterrestrial makes short work of the villains, zapping both terrorists with a death ray: “. . . a beam shot out from one of the Thing’s 500-watt eyes.” Relieved passengers interpret this as divine intervention. One woman actually believes that the alien is God: “I had no idea you’d look like this!”

But there is no God in Bukowski’s universe, no God and no valorous hero showing up to save those in peril. In fact, the alien turns out to be just as cruel as Kikid when it uses mind control on the stewardess, commanding her to suck its “pole-like antenna” of a prick. No match for the space creature’s superior intellect, the poor flight attendant acquiesces and gives her second hummer of the flight: “She lifted the whole apparatus upwards, then stuck the end of it into her mouth. Her ears quivered and the saliva ran down her jaws.”

This over-the-top tale concludes with several loose ends. What happened to Dak, his captive stewardess, and the flight crew? More importantly, what will become of the flight as a whole? Clearly, these folks are not in good hands. The space invader eliminated two of the three terrorists, but it has definitely not come in peace.

 

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