HSTQ: Spring 2021

horror, adj. inspiring or creating loathing, aversion, etc.

sleaze, adj. contemptibly low, mean, or disreputable

trash, n. literary or artistic material of poor or inferior quality

Welcome to HSTQ: Spring 2021, the curated collection from Horror, Sleaze and Trash!

Featuring poetry by Arthur Graham, John Tustin, Donna Dallas, Ben Newell, Paul Tanner, Daniel S. Irwin, James Reitter, William Taylor Jr., Leah Mueller, Alan Catlin, John Grochalski, John Sweet, David J. Thompson, John D Robinson, Noel Negele, Casey Renee Kiser, and Mather Schneider.

Get your FREE ebook here!

Cover Model: Vivid Vivka

Ve Wardh

Billy Chocolate Penis

No woman will ever be truly satisfied because no man will ever have a chocolate penis that ejaculates money.’

Billy snorted as he spotted the oh so familiar e-card clogging up his newsfeed again. It was almost as funny as the first hundred times he’d seen it – the first hundred times that it had delivered its brutal emotional gut punch. He scrolled up to see who had posted it.

Alas, just a generic girl from his schooldays.

Good going, he thought, eyes boring into those staring back from her profile picture, keep contributing to the misogynistic notion that women are nothing more than shallow, materialistic creatures. That will validate you.

Opening her profile he could see she hadn’t changed much from when they’d last met. Though she’d traded in her curls for a maroon bob, and her packed lunches for a bottle of wine (mommy juice) it appeared that, like most, she was yet another person whose emotional intelligence had peaked in childhood and had resigned themselves to a life of ignorance.

Billy slammed his laptop shut and knuckled his eyes. My differences are what make me unique, and I should embrace them. Strength lies in differences. I define myself. I am enough. There is more to me than my knob.

He took a gulp of tea as bile rose in his throat and focussed on his affirmations. His journey of self-acceptance had been a long, arduous one and he was proud of where he was today. A mortgage, decent salary, and enough leisure time to devote to both hobbies and friends, he was living beyond what he could have ever imagined possible for someone like himself.

Yet sometimes the ignorance of others was trigger enough to send him back into a spiral of shame and loathing. You see, Billy did have a chocolate penis which indeed, did ejaculate money. One may be forgiven for thinking that Billy would be a regular ladies’ man, swimming in cash – if the e-card were anything to go by at least.

But you’d be wrong.


It all started during the time most people can expect drastic, often embarrassing bodily changes – puberty. Billy had endured all the typical physical developments for a boy of his age and, being a somewhat sheltered only child, had no reason to believe any were out of the ordinary, including those of a penile nature.

As his penis grew from its initial light cream colour, deepening to a golden bronze before settling on a dark brown, his heart swelled with pride.

Finally, he’d thought, I’ve finally gone and grown my adult penis. Poundtown, here I come!

He paraded about with the cocky swagger of your typical teen who had just sprouted their first pube and thought they’d found water on Mars, that is, until a couple weeks later.

‘Dad?’ he asked, hovering in the doorway to his father’s study, ‘Why am I…it’s all weird down there. All hard, like.’

His father froze. A moment later he turned to face Billy and grinned knowingly. ‘Don’t worry Billy, m’boy. It’s all natural. You see, when a guy is really into a girl–‘

‘Dad, no, no! I don’t think it’s…sexual…’

His father raised an eyebrow.

‘It’s just been hard for a while,’ Billy sighed. ‘Say about a week or so.’

His father’s grin disappeared. He motioned for Billy to stay put as he ducked out of the room and thundered down the stairs. Billy could hear the panic in his father’s voice as he exchanged hushed whispers with his mother. After a few minutes he reappeared, looking somewhat paler.

‘Right-o, Billy, let’s get you to the hospital then. No need to panic.’

They journeyed to the hospital in silence.

After running numerous tests, the medical personnel were still at a loss as to what had brought on Billy’s prolonged erection and it’s rich cocoa tint.

Billy and his father had all but lost hope. They sat wordlessly in the waiting room awaiting the results of a penile scan. Billy thumbed through old magazines while his father simply stared at the wall opposite. They jumped as the doctor returned.

‘Well doc, what’s the news?’

The doctor paused. His eyes flickered to Billy’s before focusing on the floor in front of him.

‘I…,’ he swallowed ‘I think it’s best you look yourself.’

Billy watched his father snatched the scan and held it in trembling hands.

‘What the fuck is this?’ he said, his voice cracking. ‘If my only son has dick cancer–‘

‘Chocolate,’ the doctor said. ‘It’s all chocolate.’

Billy’s father slumped back into his seat, letting the scan flutter to the floor.

‘You mean…’

‘Yes. Nothing but pure milk chocolate.’ A frantic laugh escaped the doctor’s lips as his eyes finally settled on Billy’s. ‘It’s hollow even, like an Easter egg!’


The next few months weren’t easy. His mother had cried for weeks, then upon entering some sort of acceptance phase made it a point to drill home self-love and body positivity into Billy’s head. He’d ploughed through stacks of self-help books at her insistence, yet no matter how deeply he read there was nothing close to anyone suffering from a chocolate penis, nor thriving with one for that matter. He eventually sunk into a deep depression.

It wasn’t until a few years later when he’d come to accept his chocolate member, more or less. Sure, skinny dipping was still out of the question, but it wasn’t something he’d actively wallow about any longer. He’d even landed himself a girlfriend. All was good.

Until he finally lost his virginity.

It started out in a relatively normal fashion: her parents out, awkward small talk, a clumsy kiss that lead to even clumsier pawing, until they found themselves undressed and under the sheets.

Billy had come prepared. Given his condition, he knew he had to be extra careful, and you can’t go wrong with double bagging. The lights also had to be off – complete darkness. Couldn’t risk her seeing.

He suppressed a grin as she voiced her surprise at his hardness.

Forcing all thoughts of his chocolate Johnson from his mind, he focussed solely on the entry. After some fumbling, he made it in. He breathed a sigh of relief, then relaxed. This is it. This is finally it.


A white-hot bolt of pain stabbed through his groin as he pulled back with a scream. His hands shot to his crotch and his breath caught in his throat as his fingers landed in a hot, sticky mass.

His penis had melted away.

‘What the fuck?‘

His girlfriend jumped up and switched on the lamp before Billy could protest. Her eyes landed on the melted chocolate smeared below Billy’s navel, his manhood reduced to a little wet nub. She screamed as she recoiled at the sight of it.

A loud squelch silenced her immediately. The condoms plopped to the floor from between her legs. Billy’s penis, still encased in its latex cocoon, was now nothing more than a twisted, misshapen brown lump.

The last thing he saw before he passed out was his last chocolatey inch dropping off onto the bedsheets beneath him.

The aftermath was the most humiliating thing Billy had ever experienced, including the time his penis had been chipped by a rogue football to the crotch. His girlfriend’s parents had returned home not long after the incident to find their daughter crying hysterically on the floor, with an unconscious Billy sprawled out on the bed wearing nothing but chocolate from the waist down.

The hospital visit wasn’t much better. Thanks to the marvels of modern medicine, the medics had salvaged most of the chocolate and shaped Billy a new penis, albeit an inch or so shorter than the old one (‘We scraped all we could from your body, but there wasn’t much we could do about what was on the sheets, you see.’)

They’d even rescued the condoms. Billy looked on in horror as they shook out the contents onto a tray at his bedside. The average man ejaculates about 4ml of cum per ejaculation, whereas Billy approximated about £5.23.

‘Explains the pain,’ the nurse said.

They’d gone on to say that any chances of Billy reproducing were basically nil, given that the typical English coin rarely contained any traces of viable sperm cells, though they allowed him to at least keep the money. 

‘Enough to get that girl a card to say you’re sorry,’ his father said, before bursting into tears.

They sent Billy home a few days later with a newly reconstructed chocolate wang and a prescription for a Clone-a-Willy Ultra Realistic Penis Home Cloning Kit should anything else like this happen again.

He’d come a long way since then. Yes, he was now celibate, but he’d gotten himself an education, a home, a career, and just an all-round wonderful life. Dare he say, he loved it.

However, he thought, as he scrolled the comments on the cruel, sadistic e-card that had so often plagued him while innocently perusing his socials, some people are just sick in the head. What sort of person would wish such an existence on someone in the first place? What a horrific life – and for what? Just a bit of validation. The cruelty of some people never ceases to amaze me.

He sighed and sipped the last of his tea. He’d never understand how someone could be so insensitive. If the original creator of this tasteless joke could fathom for even a second what life was like for the poor bastards with chocolate penises that ejaculated money, they’d likely think twice before making light of such misfortune. Ruthless bastards.

Phoenix DeSimone


Dr. Williams walked to the next patients room and pulled the clipboard off the wall. He read over the write up and shook his head. Why does this have to happen at least once a month? He tucked the clipboard under his arm and opened the door. The man was sitting on the operating table, winced over in pain. He was wearing camo pants and a Lynyrd Skynyrd t-shirt. Dr. Williams put the clipboard on the counter next to him and stretched out his hand.

“Hey there, Mr. Brown. What brings us in today?”

Of course Dr. Williams already knew the answer to this, but he always found it beneficial to let patients speak for themselves – you might learn something.

“I’m in pain, doc.”

“I bet you are.”

“I don’t know what I was thinking.”

“Well let’s talk about it.”

“I don’t know, man. It’s kind of embarrassing.”

“Life is embarrassing.”

“Uggh,” Mr. Brown said squeezing tight at his stomach.

“I doubt there’s anything you could tell me that I haven’t heard before.”

“You sure?” “Positive.”

“Well I guess it all started yesterday when I started my vacation from work.”

“Right,” Dr. Williams said sitting in the exam chair and putting on some latex gloves.

“Billy came over with a 30-rack of Busch and we decided we were going to get drunk as hell before I left for the Carolinas this weekend.”

“Where were you going in the Carolinas?”

“Myrtle Beach.”

“Sounds fun.”

“Yeah. Well anyway. Billy and I got drunk as hell, to the point that we weren’t quite sure if leaving for Myrtle today would be the best idea.”

“That sounds like a smart plan.”

Dr. Williams scooted closer to Mr. Brown in the exam chair.

“Right. We decided we’d spend today curing the hangover and leave for the beach in the morning.”

“Re-hydrating yourself is always a good idea.”

“That’s not how us country folk do it, Dr. Williams.”

“Is that so?”

“Yeah. I sent Billy to the ABC store for a bottle of Jack. And he came back with Kassandra and Lora Anne.”

“Sounds like a party.”

“Oh it was, doc. We got so drunk that we weren’t even thinking of how messed up we were last night.”

“Hmm,” Dr. Williams said picking the clipboard back up.

“Well none of that explains how you ended up here, Mr. Brown.”

“I’m getting there.”


“So it gets to around noon and I can tell that the hangover from last night is gonzo. It ain’t coming back.”

“I suppose that is one way to do it.”

“The only thing we had to make sure of now was not to get too drunk. I was itching to get to the beach tomorrow and I didn’t want to miss out. I haven’t had a vacation in three years, doc.”

“That’s horrible, Mr. Brown.”

Dr. Williams placed the clipboard down again and Mr. Brown let out a painful sigh.

“But none of that explains the situation you’re in currently.”

“I’m getting there, doc. So I told Billy that I was gonna lay off the booze for awhile. I didn’t want to wake up hungover. But by this point he and all the girls are really drunk. They wanted to do something fun. And at my house out in Partlow, there really ain’t all that much fun shit to do. The only thing I could think of was taking care of my raccoon problem in the back yard. I went and grabbed my slingshot and BB gun and the four of us headed out back. We started taking fire at the raccoons and throwing back shots of Jack Daniels.”

“Mr. Brown, I don’t want to sound like I’m not enjoying you’re story but–“

“Well the point is, that got boring after awhile to. The girls weren’t any good at hitting the raccoons and Billy was far too gone to be of any assistance to them. The girls decided we should go inside and play some drinking games, and the four of us headed in. We sat down at my couch and decided we’d play an old fashioned game of truth or dare.”

“That sounds like a good, sober, time.”

“Well the rules were that if you got dared to do something, and you didn’t want to do it you had to drink, and if you were asked a truth and didn’t want to answer you took a drink. So it was definitely a drinking game, doc.”

“Of course. But Mr. Brown, the point I’m getting at is how did you end up with–“

Mr. Brown let out an uncomfortable yell and squeezed tight at his stomach again.

“Well it was Lora Anne’s turn and she picked truth. Billy asked her if she ever took it up the rear before and–“

“Up the rear?”

“In the pooper, sir.”

Dr. Williams readjusted his glasses and shook his head.

“Well anyway, she didn’t want to answer so she took a drink. We all knew that meant she had, so we all bust laughin’. My turn was next and I picked dare. Billy thought about it for awhile. I guess his mind was still on the butt stuff. He dared me to shove something up my pooper. And now, I know that’s a stupid idea. I know that things aren’t supposed to go up there, but I didn’t want to drink. Like I said, I was itchin’ to get to Myrtle.”

“Mr. Brown, I –“

“And I remembered watching animal planet one time, and they said all animals have sexual receptors or whatever in their butt – including humans. And I remembered one time I was with this girl down in Tampa, and she tickled me down there, and it felt really good. So the way I looked at it – it was good, drunken fun. I thought about it for a minute and then walked off to the guest room. I found my nephew’s collection of hot wheels. Now the way I looked at it, something that little had to come back out. I went back to the living room, undid my belt, and let my trousers fall to the floor. I split both butt cheeks apart and then I started slid–“

“No lube?”

“I didn’t have any. But then I started forcing the fire–“

“Mr. Brown. I think I get the point,” Dr. Williams said putting the clipboard back on the counter and standing up.

“Believe it or not, I see this more often than you think. It’s actually… common. For lack of a better word. But your X-rays came back and I think it’s small enough that it’s gonna pass. You’re just going to be in some pain. I could prescribe you some pain killers and you can take some laxative and wait for it. Or we could operate. Remove it from the anal cavity.”

“That would be expensive wouldn’t it?”

“Yes it would.”

“I guess I’ll force the firetruck out.”

“Well I’ll write you a prescription and you’ll be out of here in a few minutes. Okay, Mr. Brown?”


Dr. Williams stopped before pulling the door open.

“I have a question though, Mr. Brown. Why would you even think of doing anything like that?”

“You know, I don’t know, doc. I think life just gets boring sometimes. We all do the same things over and over again, consistently going nowhere and no one really knows why. It’s weird. Sometimes it’s nice to just mix it up, you know? Like when somebody gets their wife to pretend to be a nurse or something. Or when people just take off for the weekend not really knowing where they’re going. Life’s just plain shit, Doc.
You gotta mix it up.”

Mr. Brown winced and grabbed at his stomach again.

“I guess I learned I should make better decisions when I want to mix things up. Or something like that.”

“At least you learned something. But I guess you have a point. The nurse will be in with your discharge papers soon.”

“Thanks, Doc.”

Dr. Williams walked out of the exam room and shut the door. He wrote out a prescription for Vicodin and some over-the-counter laxative and handed it to the nurse.

“So what you think? Think he just came in for some pain pills?”

“I don’t know.”

“He sure looks like he would.”

“Maybe, maybe. But sometimes life just gets boring you know?”


“So boring that you shove a firetruck up your ass.”

“He did what?”

“Give him this.”

Dr. Williams handed the nurse the prescription and headed off to the next exam room.

Daniel S. Irwin

Life Lesson

When I was little, I wanted a puppy.
Our dog had puppies, one was mine.
I kept him with me most of the time.
Out in the country, we didn’t have
Many people around.  On one occasion,
My cousins came for the day.  When
They left, I waved. “Bye, Uncle George.
Bye, bye, Aunt Mildred. Bye, bye, Eddie,
Charlie, Mary.  Bye, bye, puppy.”  Puppy?
They had given away my dog.  I was sad.
Sad, until the next batch of puppies.
And I had another dog all my own.
We did everything together.  My dog.
One morning, I awoke to a loud noise.
Mama said Daddy had shot my dog.
He shot my dog ‘cause he was chasin’
Chickens.  That had a deep affect on me.
From that day forward, I never chased
Another chicken.
Years later, I was known for chasin’
Women, but I was good at duckin’
Bullets by then.

Tristan Cook

If You’re Not Going to Suck My Dick, at Least Come Cuddle Me

I had the strangest sexual experience of my life on January 3rd, 2021. Almost two months after my boyfriend broke up with me and I began living in the basement of a house with a thirty-five-year-old man named Brandon.

The basement is cold. I often spend my nights huddled up to my shivering dog. His short, brown coat stabs into my chapped lips. Brandon is warm, warm, warm. Our energies combine on the living room couch over wine and 90’s anime. “Hey, Tristan, have you ever seen Akira?” he’s asked with a goofy grin. 

I spent the late evening eating a Country Chicken Hungry Man and drinking Blue Moons on our ripped-up couch. A single beer in and I was already perusing the gay sex app Grindr, just as I had done every night prior. My phone’s battery sat at a steady five percent. A flea bit at my elbow. A minute or so after opening the app, I got a message from an account with the username ‘2 DTF.’

This wasn’t their first time messaging me; we meant to meet up a week prior, but the plans never came to fruition. 

2 DTF: Yo

2 DTF: How u b

Me: I’m chillin B^)

2 DTF: Wanna fuck ? 3 sum

2 DTF: Smoke a fatty

Me: ha sounds fun

Me: rn?

2 DTF: Yes

Me: Okkie

Me: whats the addy?

He gave me the address for a suburban style house about fifteen minutes away. I pawned my dog off on Brandon and hopped in my car. Sweat dampened my shirt and my jaw clenched tight. I loved the thrill of Grindr. The mystery, the danger, the gay underbelly! The repressed homoerotic-feeling ‘straight’ boys, the hit-it-and-quit-it gay boys, the married men, the older men, the tranny chasers. The men who tell me I’m cute, the men who ask if I have a penis or vagina. The boy who came in less than a minute, the boy who couldn’t get it up, the boy who told me I was perfect cause he’s never been with a dude and I’m a great place to start. The boy that wants to date me, the man that wants to pay me six hundred dollars to let him fuck me. The boy that broke my heart.

I followed the twists and turns of the road, occasionally catching glimpses of the waning moon. Was she shielding me from her disapproving eye? Was she too disgusted to tell me I’m a no-good dirty whore who is desperately trying to fill the void of lost love? Is that true?

I pulled into their driveway with a sense of unease. What if this wasn’t their house? 

Me: Hey, I think I’m here!

Me: it’s a white house, right?

Minutes passed and I didn’t get a reply. I played out the possibility that I was at the wrong house. I would go up, knock on the unassuming stranger’s door at midnight, and say something along the lines of “gay sex?” at their bewildered expression. I decided that it was worth the risk. 

I approached the house with my hands in my jacket pockets. There was a white picket fence that enclosed the front yard to the left of the paved driveway. The entirety of the front porch was screened in. There were cushioned patio chairs, a small, round table, and potted plants. I thought it was odd how adult the house looked. I assumed that the couple who messaged me were both around my age.

My cold, bruised knuckles wrapped on the front door. A blonde boy with a stubbly face answered. He was an inch or two shorter than me and wearing a black hoodie and black jeans. His name was Brendon. We said hello and he invited me in as a small brown dog shaved like a lion waddled into the living room. 

“Holy shit! I love your dog,” I said. 

“Oh yeah, he’s great.” 

We cooed over him for a moment when a husky man who appeared to be in his early forties entered the room. He had reddish hair, a clean face, and broad shoulders over a soft, round body. Maybe I should’ve asked why they didn’t tell me one of them was significantly older. Maybe I should’ve walked out the door. I didn’t consider it.

“Hi,” I said with a little wave. We formally introduced ourselves; the older man’s name was Steve. I was curious what sex would be like with him, though I wasn’t attracted to him. He was weird, but in a way that intrigued me. He was like a friend’s dad who wasn’t entirely sure how to talk to his son’s friends. I thought he would ask me if I played sports at any moment.

They led me down a long hallway until we entered their bedroom. I never asked, but I assumed they lived together. There was a king-sized bed, dresser, three bongs, and a massive T.V. mounted to the wall. The T.V. was playing gay porn, which startled me into saying oop out loud. Steve offered me one of the bongs. 

“You smoke, right?” He seemed gentle, and I felt a bit ashamed of judging his physical appearance. 

“Every day of my life,” I said while grabbing the bong. The clear glass was tainted with resin. I didn’t look him in the eyes, instead I kept my focus on the floor. I was too sober for the bizarreness of my situation, so I  ripped the bong three times.

They both clambered into bed, leaving a space for me to climb in the middle. I did. Steve rested his hand on my right thigh while Brendon rubbed my left one. Brendon kissed me gently. He began to alternate between sweetness and passion. He would take a moment to look me in the eyes and brush his thumb across my cheek, then kiss me so fiercely I could barely keep up. I eased into it. Steve tightened his grip on my thigh and uttered “fuck yeah’s” between each breath. 

Brendon switched back to gentle kisses, and I took an opportunity to kiss him on the nose. “Do you like poppers?” he asked.

“I’ve never tried them. What’re they like?”

“Bro, they’re incredible.” He reached over to the bedside table and pulled an small bottle out of the drawer. “They’re strong, so just take small sniffs.” He placed the bottle under his right nostril and sniffed three times. When he was done, I took a deep, steady sniff through both of my nostrils. 

“How do you feel?”

“Oh, is it immediate?” As soon as I said that, I felt each beat of my racing heart. 


Babum, babum!

Babum, babum, 


My head fell limp against the headboard behind me. My arms became cement. Steve and Brendon started to undress. A man was getting pounded in the ass while sucking another dude’s dick on the T.V.

“You should take your clothes off.” Brendon said. I tumbled to the other side of the bed to face them while I took off my sweater. “Shit, cool tattoo,” he nodded at the twelve-faced monk on my stomach. “What does it mean?”

“It came to me in an acid trip. I was sitting on the living room floor of the first apartment I lived in when I moved to Asheville. It was spring. The sky was freckled with small, white clouds. I was the only one home. The balcony door was open, allowing a swift breeze to occasionally pass through. The neighbors that lived up and to the left of my unit were sitting on their balcony playing a cello, saxophone, and drum. Squirrels skittered about and birds chirped to the music. It came to me gradually. Inspired by angels and the guides of the afterlife. We are all different faces of the same universe.”

“That’s cool.” Brendon finished getting undressed next to a naked Steve. I took off my pants, catching a glimpse of Steve’s small, half-flaccid penis. It felt like a taboo to look.

Sweat, smoke, silky, lavender, lube. 

White walls and wooden furniture. 

Watering eyes, twitching dicks, and 

heart palpitations.

It ended with my legs trembling and head lying on Brendon’s chest while Steve blew him. I kept my eyes closed or focused on the T.V. There was a moment when my curiosity got the best of me and I looked. Steve locked his eyes onto mine and I darted them away. I felt as if he had held me by the ankles and shook an avalanche of stolen candy bars out of my pockets. In this split-second moment he had truly witnessed me. And I had witnessed him! His slow bobbing motions. His bold stare. There was nowhere to hide. Several minutes passed before Steve stopped to rest his head on Brendon’s thigh. 

“Alright Steve, if you’re not going to suck my dick, at least come cuddle me.”

Judge Santiago Burdon

Top Shelf Dope

Bonsai Bonecki, a high school acquaintance, called it purple microdot LSD. And by the look of the tiny pill, the name described it perfectly.  

Bonsai was explaining the effects, the time involved to get off and the expected duration of the trip. He acted as though he were a doctor or pharmacist giving out information on a prescribed drug.  

“I think maybe I should take two, being they are so small,” I suggested.

“No man,” he said. “This is Owsley acid, it’s gonna get you where you wanna go. Believe me, this is top shelf dope dude.” 

It was 1971, and from what I knew, Stan Owsley was currently in prison. He’d been busted in 1969 and sentenced to three years for possession of three hundred thousand tabs of LSD. Given this, Bonsai’s claim was dubious at best, but I decided to play along with this future used car salesman’s bullshit.

“Owsley acid you say,” I said. “Where did you get ahold of this? Nevermind, I don’t need to know.”

“No, it’s okay,” he said. “I scored it from a guy in Madison who was his roommate back in college. He just made up this batch last week and my buddy got it from him when he was just here in Chicago. Pretty groovy huh?”

I was never a big fan of the slang terms commonly used in the late sixties and early seventies. Whenever someone used those words or expressions, I felt as though I were in an episode of The Brady Bunch. ‘Far out’, ‘Can you dig it’, and the all-time cheesiest Greg Brady expression of all, ‘Groovy’. Okay, maybe I watched The Brady Bunch occasionally with my younger sister, but it was just to keep her company.

“Great story man,” I say. “You are a master of embellishment. Still, sell me a couple more for later. I may be inclined to up my dosage.”

“Sure Santa, how many ya want?”

“It’s Santi! You’ve been calling me by the wrong name since the first grade. You can refer to me as Santiago from now on. Give me four more. And I better get higher than Timothy Leary or we’ll have a problem. Understand?”

“Sure dude. I’m sorry Santiago. Who’s Tim Larry? Is he that sophomore kid with the long hair and the Camaro? I didn’t think he got high. That’s cool.”

According to the sales pitch street pharmacists have thrown at me over the years, I have been the recipient of a variety of exotic drugs from equally exotic places: Acapulco Gold, Michoacan Bud, Panama Red and various other strains of marijuana from as far away as Thailand. Cocaine from Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, every time it was “pure” uncut cocaine of course. Hashish smuggled in from Turkey, uncut heroin from Afghanistan and every country in Southeast Asia. LSD and mescaline fit for a connoisseur, medical grade speed and barbiturates. 

I however had tried the original Rorer 714 Quaaludes, so I may have known a thing or two about drugs myself. My cousin worked for Rorer as a salesman for a time. He stashed cases of Maalox and sample bottles of Quaaludes down in our basement. It didn’t take long for me to discover their value. I looked them up in my Physician’s Desk Reference. I started selling them at school but quickly had to stop after only two days. Kids were passing out in class, in the hallways and in the lunch room. It may have been  good advertising in a sense, but it was drawing the attention of teachers and school administrators as well. Seven times ambulances were dispatched to school in just those two days. Still referred to by students as the legendary ‘Quaaludes Class’ of ’71. After that, I only sold quantity to people I knew personally, letting them inherit the risk involved.

Truthfully, I don’t give a fuck where the dope comes from, so long as it gets me high. I’ve been disappointed more often than I’d care to admit, but my complaints always received the same response from dealers: “No one else complained,” “You didn’t do it right,” or “You’re full of shit!” In each case, the message was of course, “I’m not giving your money back.”

In this case, Bonsai may have lied about the origin of the LSD, but not about its potency. I verified as much shortly after taking my dose.

“Santiago what are you up to?” Bonsai asked. “Do you have any plans? I’m going to meet Lester, Joey, Janet and some others at the Plaza Theater to see Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Everyone is dropping acid for the movie. Ya wanna come with?”

His voice echoed, repeating every last word, changing pitch from a screeching high to a low booming bass. Every sound — car horns, music playing, birds chirping — all resounding with reverb. I attempt to answer his question, but I’m momentarily distracted by the movement of my hands creating light trails. The acid was coming on strong, but I couldn’t think of a reason to refuse his entreaty. Besides, it seemed like a really bad idea, so of course I agreed to tag along.

“Better leave your car and I’ll drive,” Bonsai said. “You’re pretty high. Nobody will mess with it here. They know it’s your brother’s car and he’ll kill anyone that touches it. Why do you have his car? Does he know you’re driving it?”

I’d been driving my older brother’s Studebaker Hawk at the time. A judge had recently ordered him to join the military if he wanted to be exonerated on the assault charges filed against him. Better than being sentenced to prison.

“Ya he doesn’t have any idea,” I said. “He joined the Navy and got stationed in Norfolk, Virginia.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that,” he said as we hopped in his Volkswagen Bug.

“Okay, let’s giddy up,” I said. “Hey I’ve got a question for ya, how did you get the name Bonsai anyway?”

“You don’t remember?” he said. “It was you that started it. Show and tell, first grade, Miss Elkin’s class. I brought in a Bonsai tree from home and you started calling me Bonsai Bonecki. It stuck, then after that everyone called me Bonsai Bonecki. I’ve always like the name too, you know.”

“I’ve gotta tell ya, I don’t remember any of that,” I said. “I’m glad you like the name though. Do you have your own Bonsai tree? Do you talk to it? I read somewhere that plants enjoy music and conversation.”

Damn I was high. As we cruised along, I opened the vent window, watching as the gust of air swirled with brilliant colors. The sunlight’s reflection danced on everything it touched. 

“Now I’m starting to get off too,” Bonsai said after awhile. “I dropped mine ten minutes after you. My legs feel like rubber. Do your legs feel like that?”

“What legs are you talking about?” I said. “My entire body is like Jello. I’m about to leave it behind and astral project. This shit is righteous, it’s magic, I feel like I’m floating.”

“Don’t flip out man, I’m high and can’t handle it right now.” 

“Relax Bonsai, I’m not going to freak out, I’m having a great time.” 

I look out the windshield, not believing what I was seeing up ahead.

“Bonecki, look where the hell you’re going!”

I had no idea how we got there, but we were presently driving on the grass median of the highway, headed straight for the central pillar on the viaduct. 

“Bonsai, hit the brakes!”

“This music is driving me crazy,” he says while fiddling with the dial. “I hate the fucking Archies and this Sugar shit song…”

On impulse, I grabbed the steering wheel and pushed it to the left, causing us to veer into the oncoming traffic in the other lane. Miraculously, we weren’t killed right then and there, careening past every honking car.

Flying over the embankment, we exited the highway and landed in the bowling alley parking lot. Bonsai still had one hand on the radio dial and the other on the steering wheel, with my own foot pressed on the brake pedal.

“What the hell just happened Santiago?”

“I think you became distracted and drove on the wrong side of the road, but somehow we survived unscathed.”

“That was crazy man! We missed every car!”

“Maybe I should drive, what do you think?”

I wasn’t in any shape to drive myself, but I assumed I could do better than Bonecki in his state. He never answered back, just sat there with the engine still running, the radio blasting.

“Hey Bonsai, I think I’m gonna walk. We’re both too high to drive right now. I’ll tell you though, this really is top shelf dope!”

I closed the door and walked away singing, “Ah, sugar / Ah, honey, honey / You are my candy girl.” Why on earth was I singing this song? I hated the Archies too.

John Tustin

Afterward (Then and Now)

When we would lie in bed
And talk in the dark as we recovered
She would tell me about 
What an absolute prick
Her husband was.
How he lied and how he cheated on her
And how he turned the kids against her.

The conversation often turned to dear old Jason.

She went back to him eventually
And I imagine now,
When they are lying in bed together
She never brings me up
At all

And I don’t know whether
To be offended
Or flattered.

Mark Anthony Pearce


In a war torn
Where water
Was scarce
A projectionist
And custodian
Of a battered
Old cinema
Would screen
The same film
Sylvia Kristel
And her amorous
And saucy
In Bangkok
As Emmanuelle
Free entry always
And the soldiers
And the old ones
And the children
Would cheer excitedly
Whenever nudity
Was on view
Frequently paused
Frozen to be viewed
Like Titian’s painting
Of Diana and Actaeon
Fast forward to
The here and now
And I haven’t seen
A film in weeks
With a lack
Of enthusiasm
For flesh
In person
Or in celluloid
I wouldn’t even
Be able to find
Luanda on a map!

Paul Tanner

one roof

it was the dead of night,
it was the death of a lot of things

and I was walking to the kitchen 
for water or wine, whatever that christ cunt had left us,
when I passed her son’s bedroom:

I heard a slap and a moan.
then the creaking and panting started …

there was a crack in the door. 
you know damn well I had a peek:

there he was 
fucking his girlfriend doggy on the bed. 
and damn if he didn’t look like his mum:
same full lips and big grey eyes
framed around a dirty blonde bob.  
it was like a flat-chested version of her 
going at some chick’s rump with a strap-on. 

no, you dirty bastards
I didn’t invite myself in.
I didn’t even stay to watch. 

I simply went back to bed 
and slipped it in his mum:

oof, she woke up. what’s got into you?
happy families, I told her.

and I hear she has a daughter somewhere, too.

Dan A. Cardoza

Killer Good Looks

Certain things stick to you, like a drunken friend’s late-night sleaze bar zen. “Jack, good sex is like an out of control forest fire. The delicious irony is that you pass out wet, but in your dreams, it’s raining matches.”

Goodwill laid me off a good six months ago. You know the one on Sepulveda? Budget cuts and all, they said. I was their go-to fix-it man. I get why nobody buys fix-it shit anymore, except the Russians. Everything is easier to replace nowadays.

In order to salve my low self-esteem, I’ve stayed at home and milked unemployment for nearly three months. But free and money won’t cure your indigestion from watching endless Oprah reruns. So recently, I took a new job. I was so bored. Plus, truth was we were hurting for money, Mia and I. 

We’d been shacking up and rubbing two pennies together for almost six years now.  

We’d both won at karaoke the night we met. Me: Burning Love. Mia: Billie Jean. For God’s sake, she moonwalked a new shine across the dull floor of my heart that night. We ended up walking home to the edge of my king-sized bed.

I’ve been fired from seven short jobs now, four long years without a raise. I’ve never received a frozen turkey or fresh ham for the holidays, not from one single employer.

Mia is not at all happy with any of my career choices, my lack of any success. Who knew?

She says, “Jack, you’re clueless. Every syllable out of your mouth is total bullshit.”

“I bring home a check don’t I? How about the perks? I don’t see you asking me to return any of your sex toys, the ones I fixed at my new job? How about that $75 vibrating Buddha you use for your meditation?”

“What the hell kind of gift was that Jack,” Mia fumes. “For Christ sakes, and you gave it to me on Valentine’s Day to boot?”

Mia stomps off toward the bedroom, each step a war drum. The slams shut behind her, and next comes the damned click-clack of the lock.

It’s hard to forget that sound: a whip crack at the Midnight Garden of Good and Evil, Michael Jackson snapping his fingers. 

I am locked out once again.


I arrive early at work the next morning. It’s not so much that I’m ambitious. The sofa springs are twisting through the couch like sheet metal screws.

As soon as I step through the stock room door, my boss Jenkins shouts, “Hey you, I have a rush delivery, the bachelor physician at the Stanford Ranch subdivision.”

“Jesus, its only 7:45 A.M.,” I say.

 “What did you say? He’s a damned good customer. Why is time your business?”

His expression lets me know they’ll be no coffee first this morning.

“Dr. Bennington wants his new toy ASAP, understood? Now, go!”  

His mother’s blue money financed the business. She knows her son is a failure. But Blanche is a fixer like me. She repairs her son’s bankruptcies, settles his expensive divorces, and pays for his prostitutes, only she doesn’t know it. I fix the expensive broken toys of love and loneliness, program the gently used A.I. sex dolls, and repair Zen Buddha vibrators for women who feel empty inside.

The elderly Mrs. Jenkins lives in France. She has early Alzheimer’s. Her only son Carl has convinced her that Evil Pleasures is a horror boutique in downtown L.A. In reality, it’s a Hollywood A-list go-to shop for uncomplicated love, for sale or rent. But really, the clientele and location are not all that important. For the right kind of money, all love is for sale, anywhere. 

Carl Jenkins is a cruel, driven man, eternally angry. You’d think he wouldn’t be appealing to the opposite sex. But the kind of women he sees don’t seem to mind. After all, anyone can purchase the right brand of love.

And, with the amount of money his mother gives him, he falls in love a lot. Carl’s even been known to hit up on my Mia. Last time it was at the company Halloween party. I was a pack of Camels and she was a bottle of Jack Daniels. Mia and I never complain about Carl because we need the money.


A hardly known fact is that in Los Angeles, all the freeways hiss like snakes. But today, it’s rainy and windy, so all the thoroughfares are sizzling like butter on a hot sauté pan. I’m moving from fast lane to fast lane, and on the Artesia, all the lanes are fast, especially when you’re running late.

“Hang on Maverick,” I say to my passenger, stepping on it as I zoom into the commuter lane.

Maverick pays no attention to me. He’s auditioning for the hard-to-get role, channeling a moody James Dean as he stares idly out the window.

Maverick is dressed in a wife-beater and ripped jeans. His tan shoulders ripple and glisten, even in the dull light of morning. His arms and chest are inked with hot, expensive tattoos.

I imagine him asking me, “Jack, aren’t you going to call stud muffin?”

Maverick is new to L.A., a gorgeous specimen and oh, so very vulnerable. A sexy amalgamation of raw flesh and innocent morality. He’s made it all the way here from Kansas City, Kansas.

Impulsively, the words escape my mouth:

“I fantasize about you, Maverick.”


This rush hour, urgent delivery crap is too much. I’m pissed off.

So, my inner devil says, “To hell with it all.” Out loud, I say, “I need the tip, better buckle up Maverick!” 

How cool can he get? He just sits there, jutting out his pretty jaw just so.

“Hell yes!” I holler with abandon, creeping the useless Prius up to 80 miles per hour. Stink-eye headlights flood the rearview as we go flying past all those stuck in the L.A. gridlock.

Maybe we’ll get a big tip from Dr. Bennington after all. Then I won’t have to sleep on couch again tonight. Meanwhile, Maverick couldn’t care less about my crumbling marriage, let alone my sleeping situation.

On the same worn psychological sofa, in a dark corner of my mind, Alter-Ego-Jack smirks as he whispers, “We both know Mia is cheating on your ass, and not just with Jenkins.” 

There’s no evidence of that!” I scream at the top of my lungs, feeling increasingly reckless.

“Maverick, you are so damn hot,” I suddenly blurt out. I’ve kicked open the saloon doors of my vocal cords. I hope Maverick understands. I hope he doesn’t think I have Tourette’s or anything like that.


Weaving in and out of traffic, I manage to clip the fender of a shiny, new BMW. I barely miss side-swiping a limo that has a Harvey Weinstein look-a-like inside of it.

Maverick remains frozen in silence. He just stares straight ahead through all the madness. I can’t help admire his steely blue eyes, reflecting poise and internal strength.

“This isn’t going to end well,” Alter-Ego-Jack whispers. “You’ve picked a hell of a time to come out of the closet.”

“No shit Jacky-Boy!” I spit back at him.

I know Maverick must think I’m crazy by now.


“Passenger, slowly open your door and exit the vehicle, hands in the air.”

Maverick and I both sit frozen in place on the side of the road. It’s just like a scene from one of those really bad cop shows. You know the ones with the hot rednecks.

“Passenger, open your door and exit the vehicle with your hands up!”

Fear comes zooming in on me from the rearview mirror. It looks like Pinhead from Hellraiser, the sexy horror film, the one with the original director. A miniature voodoo doll prickles my throat. Outside, it’s a nothing but a creepy carnival of clowns with guns. Maverick sits stiff in my peripheral vision, somehow still radiating sexiness amidst the chaos of the situation.

“DRIVER, tell your passenger to exit the vehicle, NOW!”

For a nanosecond, I imagine the female officer on the megaphone as a thirteen-year-old girl. She’s one of those San Fernando Valley Girls, the type with a horny trigger finger. I imagine her rehashing our story for happy hour at the Blue Bar on Spring Street, where all the cops hand out.

“I am not going to die today,” I say to myself.

In a panic, I kick off my right shoe, peel off my sock, and stretch my leg over Maverick to toe the passenger door open. Next, I kick him in the side as hard as I can, sending him tumbling out of the Prius. He looks like the cartoon character, the Tasmanian devil, as he spins and rolls down the steep embankment.

So I’m selfish, whats new?  

As I slump down in the driver’s seat, my voice betrays me once again:

“Bonnie and Clyde, Bonnie and Clyde! La la la, dah dah dah, I can’t hear you! La la la, dah dah dah!”

Suddenly, everything is in slow motion. Maverick continues to flip ass over tea kettle down the long hill to the bottom. Along the way, his shimmering body erupts in a hail of gunfire. The bullets eats away at him like shiny electric minnows. By the time he stops moving, he’s been reduced to a husk of silicone and circuitry.

Maverick hips mechanically unwind for the last time. Elvis has left the building.  


“You can’t make this shit up”, I say to my captive audience of murderers, thieves, and rapists. Today, I am just another someone, one of the crew, at the L.A. County Jail.

“Damn dude,” says an old man who left most of his sanity splattered somewhere in ‘Nam. “You may not get the death penalty, but this is Cali, you’ll get life for sure!” He laughs his crazy parrot laugh. “That’s for second-degree murder or manslaughter!”  


Four months slowly crawl by. 

Mia has moved to Florida. She’s supporting her new boy toy in college. She tells me what he lacks in bed, he makes up for in potential. He’ll have a future in computer programming, she says.

In the meantime, I seem to live here at the 7-11 Quick Mart these days. I’m pulling extra hours so I can pay for my bad side of town rent, plus restitution to Dr. Bennington for destruction of property.