Stuart Watson

Speaking in Tongue

My knees on the sticky floor, my hands on her thighs, my tongue at work, I keep pinching her so she’ll shut up. She likes it. I get that. But the other customers? They’re trying to watch the movie. I don’t want them to know that I’m eating her out while the car chase is going on, or that she’s starting to slosh when the hero is being held with a knife at his throat, or that she’s about to let loose when the monster erupts from the container where the hero keeps his coffee grounds. I just want her to quietly enjoy her purchase.

Mrs. Albert is my second. She learned about this service from my first, Mrs. Eldridge. I use their last names because I don’t want to be on a first-name basis. This is a job, a job I love, but little more than dispensing extra happiness on boring afternoons in a Kansas farm town. 

“Wheat,” Mrs. Eldridge said, when I asked what her husband did. “Miles and miles of wheat.”

She surveyed the snacks. “Jujubes,” she said, pointing. “And some Good & Plentys.”

“Would you like … butter on that?” I asked.

She seemed perplexed. She had permed dark hair, which rose from her neck at the sides, like little waves. I waited. “Butter?” she said. “On Good & …?”

“It’s really … pleasurable,” I said. “Most of our female customers like it. Mmmm, butterrrrr.”

“Well,” she said, “if you say so. Is the movie any good?”

“I think you’ll like it.”

I rang her up. She seemed startled by the total. “It’s the butter,” I said. “We have to charge extra. It’s imported.”

“From where? The moon?”

“Actually, I don’t know. It’s what they tell me.”

At first, most of the patrons paused a bit at the charge. Ten bucks for butter was cheap. But they relaxed when I told them it cost half what they charged in the big cities. Out here, on the prairie, it was a bargain.

Two weeks before, I had hopped off the bus, cleaned myself up with my water bottle, and started walking Main Street. It had been a month since Alice left. Who would leave a perfectly standard one-bedroom upstairs apartment with a view of the garden and a parking stall underneath? We didn’t have a car, yet, but felt the awesome potential. Who buys a car without a place to park it? It’s about being prepared. 

Alice left a note. Said she wanted more, that I was pretty good at what I was pretty good at, but she needed more than a tongue tickler. She is unique, in that she may be the only woman on earth who doesn’t carry a smartphone, which makes her smarter, in some respects, but also makes her unreachable, in the final estimation. I wanted to call and remind her that, during our intimacies before she agreed to marry me, she had described my oral ministrations as “rare” and “special” and “the key to this woman’s heart.”

To me, that was enough. It was satisfying to be satisfying. Frankly, it was a nuisance to have a penis. When I was ministering, my dick would always start demanding attention. I wished it would just shut the fuck up, you know? It took my mind from what my mind wanted.

If I were to extrapolate from Alice’s appreciation of my talent, it seemed likely that she wasn’t the only woman whose lock that key might fit. I filed that thought for future reference. I’m not stupid. I’ve been a guy my whole life. You hang around guys, you get a sense of what they like and don’t like. Usually, it’s the reverse of what women like. Guys form likes and dislikes after they’re old enough to have tried a few things, or gotten the impression from listening to other guys that they might like certain things a lot, if only they could find someone interested in sharing. A lot of guys like the old in-and-out. Others speak highly of blow jobs. Been there, tried that, found it lacking. 

One thing I rarely heard was guys who said they like eating it. Clam diving. Rug munching. You know. It’s just not something that keeps ninety-nine percent of guys awake at night, dreaming of the next time.

Me, I’m in the one percent. Makes me a specialist. Fits, when you think about it, seeing as how most of my jobs have fallen into the category of customer service. Something else I’ve learned, there’s a lot more customer service jobs than jobs being president. So I thought I’d take my toolkit on the road until Alice sorted things out. She’s got my number. Until she finds a phone booth, I’ll work my way around the country. 

“Help Wanted” signs were everywhere after I got to Brewster, Kansas. I went straight to the theater. No surprise, they were hiring.

Right next door, above the hardware store, I found a furnished room. Bathroom down the hall. Hotplate and a small fridge. Pretty basic, but met my needs. I was moving around. Looking for something, just not sure what. Figured I would know it when I found it.

Mr. Gifford — “Mac, call me Mac” — ran The Sunset Cinema.  He showed me around, proud that he thought to take out every other row. Give customers more leg room. Made sense. When the lights went down, it was perfect for my side gig.

Most people knew to be there on time. When traffic slowed at the snack bar, I went upstairs and dialed down the lights. Then I turned on the projector. The welcome screen appeared. I let it run for a bit before I felt I could trust it not to jump the sprockets, then stepped outside. Inside the darkened theater, I waited for my eyes to adjust. It was a slow afternoon. A large man sat in the front with his tub of popcorn. Two kids, brother and sister, sat off to the right, giggling.

And Mrs. Eldridge sat in the second to last row. Right in the center. I walked to her aisle and found a seat two seats from hers. Then I waited.

Once the movie got going and her hands got active in the candy boxes, I knew it was time. I got up, walked towards her, said “Excuse me.” 

She tilted her legs to the side to let me pass. I knelt down, in front of her, and lifted her skirt. I could hear her whisper above my head, “WHAT are you doing? I’m going to call the manager.”

“Butter,” I said. “You ordered butter. This is the best we have.”

I buried my face in her bush. I never knew what to expect, so I was glad to find that she had washed. It always helps my delivery. In short order, I could tell she was enjoying herself. When she eventually slipped down in the seat and clamped my head with her thighs, I knew it was time to leave.

In my line of work, word got around fast. Mrs. Eldridge told a couple of her friends, and after they ordered butter, they each told two or three more ladies in their circle, and within a week, there was a line outside waiting for doors to open — for the matinee. The evening shows drew couples. No room for my side hustle. 

Doesn’t matter. Bottom line, “butter” sales had boosted ticket revenues four hundred percent. I had my regulars. Some were on speed dial. I knew them not by name, more by look and, if I’m honest, taste.

Things were going pretty good until a guy named Weldon knocked on the glass doors before opening one Friday afternoon. He seemed agitated, so I went and let him in. If I’d been smart, I would’ve run out the back.

“My wife says I need to train my tongue to do what it ‘posed to do,” he said. “She says Earl, you need to eat me, or I’ll ask that boy down at the theater to eat me. Something tells me he can eat it reeeeal good. Is that true? How would she know that, from just looking at you? Buying Jujubes and such? Watchin’ a cowboy movie? Any ideas?”

This was cutting close to the bone.  

“Well, can’t say for sure, but your spouse sounds like a fine woman. Has a real active imagination. Can’t say as I’ve ever been a fantasy object. Look at me.”

I held my hands up near my chest and angled my fingers back, as if they had the ability to say “Can you believe she would think such a thing of this puny schlump, when she is married to an Adonis such as yourself?”  

Weldon read my fingers. 

“Well, just make sure she doesn’t give me reason to crush the livin’ shit outta your face.”

Livin’ shit? Still, I got his point. A couple of weeks into the gig, here came the big redhead with the substantial hips and her hair in a bun up top. Red lipstick like she dipped her lips in a bucket of paint. She had become a regular. She needed to bathe more often, too, but maybe she didn’t fit in her tub.  

Thing was, she walked in on the arm of Mac. My boss. 

“Phil,” he said, “have you ever had the pleasure of meeting my wife? Leonora?”

I stared at her.

“Why, not formally,” I said, “but I believe she is a big fan of the movies.”

I smiled at her, and her face went all red and she turned briefly away and patted at her upper lip with a cotton hankie. 

“Well, thank you for doing such a great job since you started,” he said. “Can you come in a little early tomorrow, go over some of the numbers with me?”


Playing it cute, but I felt the elevator in my gut go into freefall and hit my ass on the way to the basement. 

“P&L, revenues, expenses,” he said. “You know. The numbers.”

I met him at noon the next day. We had an hour before the first showing. Time to talk, then scoot downstairs and sell tickets, candy, popcorn … and butter. He was upstairs, in his office next to the projection booth. 

“Take a seat,” he said. 

Then he told me he had been curious, why the amount of butter we typically buy each week hadn’t changed, even though sales of butter were through the roof.

“Which is great,” he said, “except that we don’t sell butter. Never have. It’s included. With the popcorn. Why are we selling butter, but apparently not using very much of the stuff?”

“Good question,” I said. “Hadn’t thought about it. I boosted the price on what we used to give away. People think movies are about popcorn. I believe, from years of observation, that customers just want to eat butter. And salt. Popcorn is the delivery vehicle. So, I figured that if they really want butter more than anything, we should recognize demand and price it accordingly.”

“You should own this business,” he said. “Really. You’ve got a head for product pricing.”

I smiled and waited. 

“I’ve gotten calls. People I know in town. I know everyone, and everyone knows me, and we all know everyone. It’s a small town.”

“Nice,” I said.

“The gentlemen in town seem to share a concern. Their wives are going to the movies a lot. More than ever in the past. It’s scaring them.”

“Scaring? The wives?”

“The husbands. They think their wives may be fooling around, meeting boyfriends in the dark. You’re here. Seen anything like that?”

I shook my head. 

“Once it’s dark, I walk the aisles every ten minutes to check on hanky-panky. It’s all  good.”

“One other thing. All the increase in revenue links directly to ticket sales. Where did the butter revenue go? And why the bump in ticket sales? Since you arrived, I mean.”


“Odd. This is a dying business in a small town. The building is falling down. People don’t go to movies, not in the middle of the day, but suddenly, since you show up, that’s changed. Just trying to figure it out. Leonora, my wife, she can’t say enough about how much she has been enjoying herself down here. But the thing is, she doesn’t like movies. Never has. She likes potting plants, needlepoint, sipping tea and playing cribbage. She and people like her are the reason we’re dying. So what’s the attraction? You ain’t selling pot, are you?”

It seemed like a perfect time for loud and incredulous laughter.

“Good,” he said. “That’s what I wanted to hear.”

He looked at his wristwatch, then me. “Guess you better get downstairs,” he said. 

“Can I ask you something first?”

“Sure, but make it quick.”

“Do you believe in pleasure?”

“Of course.”

“Do you believe marriage can provide the pleasure that people need?”

“It’s why we get married, isn’t it?”

“All of the pleasure? What if one or the other people in a marriage wants something that the other can’t provide? Do they have a right to pursue that? Does the spouse have an obligation to encourage that and celebrate what their partner takes pleasure in?”

“You’re brash, aren’t you? How old are you?”


“I’m forty-eight. I have a good life. I love my wife. We’re happy. I don’t see what more either of us could want.”

“Do you talk? Do you ask her what she might want? Would you help her get it, if she told you?”

“Where is this going? And why are you asking?”

“My wife said I didn’t meet her needs. Trying to figure out what I could’ve done better, I guess.”

“Well, I’ve got a meeting. And you’ve got work to do.”

“Just want to be on the same page. People have appetites. You should know that. You’re in the business of satisfying the appetite to be entertained. And I am your agent. Happy customers are repeat customers are customers willing to leave their money with you in exchange for what they know they can get here that they can’t get anywhere else. Is that correct?”

“Sure. We’re the only moviehouse in a hundred miles.”

He was on a different page. This turd didn’t know shit about his wife or her wants. If she was happy, why had she developed a severe addiction to butter? 

I thought this moviehouse side-hustle of mine was destined to fail if I kept offering my services on the down low. A little extra coin for awhile, but then the sight of the ground rushing rapidly toward our little biplane, Mac at the controls, me screaming for a parachute that hadn’t been invented yet. An angry mob with pitchforks waiting for us. I knew I needed to leap sooner than later. 

I had a better idea, to become my own boss, run my own numbers. People did it all the time. Barber shop. Cut ‘n’ Curl salon. Pedicure. Manicure. Pussy cure. I could position myself as a licensed practitioner of labial arts. Beneath a clever brand name, smaller type would note that we offered “Cunning linguistics — by appointment only.” 

People would ask, “What’s that? Is it like Rolfing or Etc?”

Etc? Someone actually said that to me once, and I almost reverse-snorted. 

I thought how fun it would be, once I found a storefront and did the remodel, to tell people “I speak in tongues.” 

All this thought transpired across the desk from Mac, who had placed a call and turned his gaze from me and was talking as if I had already left. I closed the door behind me.

In the carpeted balcony space outside, I pulled out my phone. I looked at the blank screen. I wanted to call Alice and tell her about my business idea. A path to wealth and renown. I wanted her to call me. “Come home. Just fuck me. Once in awhile.” But that wasn’t me. God gave me tongue for a reason. And, of course, Alice didn’t have a phone. I went downstairs and sold tickets and candy and butter. 

After dimming the lights and starting the film, I waited five before slipping into the dark. Leonora was waiting in aisle three. It was evident, from the start, that she had prepared. Sweet girl that she was, she had realized that our intimacies constituted more than a business transaction. They were relational, yes, but more. She paid, but what she got was more than a haircut or an oil change. She inferred a need for reciprocity. Give and get. Get and give. 

Weeks earlier, when she had first ordered candy and butter from me, I had mentioned that I liked Baby Ruth candy bars. Again beneath her skirt, I found one waiting for me, tucked delicately where I was sure to find it. I love my customers.

In my apartment, after work, I lay on my bed and thought about the future. It is a rare person who can identify an unmet need and meet it. I knew what people wanted. OK, half the people. I would have to start small, but the numbers would seduce investors. Rapid growth was not at all out of the question. 

Greatness lay ahead. Renown, of the sort people ascribed to the Colonel. Built on a shared appetite. A secret for women only. Embraced by women, loved by women, craved by women — and a complete and befuddling mystery to men. In every town in America, weary travelers would arrive and spy a strip mall with one of my franchisees. The father would take the kids into a donut shop for something sweet and sugary. Something they couldn’t get at home. 

“I need something different,” the mother would say.

Then she would step through the doors of Butter ‘Licious. For something she couldn’t get at home. Something a lot like fried chicken. The fingers. The lickin’. Only quite a bit different.

Joseph Farley

So we are

Clouds gray the morning light.
Black tires slosh one after another
through the same puddle.

The asphalt glistens, a touch of diamond,
as you stand under an umbrella,
a broken half-circle.

The book tucked under your arm
is already wet.
Drops race down your jacket.

The bus is late. A fact of life.
Strangers stare from car windows
at a fool who does not drive.

Time passes. You watch the tires.
Listen to brakes and sudden skids.
You practice avoidance,

hope the spray misses.
You are lucky. Sometimes.
You will get there, where you’re headed,

with wet socks and stuck pages,
alive, if not on time.
You will not worry long about it.

These are the small things
we live and observe.
They’re rarely fatal.

Just part of the bargain
of living one moment
after another.

All these drops, pearls really,
strung together for us,
making a life some how,

and though we kick and scream
at times
and try hard as we can,

it remains much the same,
a difference of degree only,
between a mild spray and a big splash.

Mark Blickley

D.O.A – Dawn of Agriculture

Before the Dawn Of Agriculture men like ME where slapped into the shadow of sexual shame but now who needs muscles or chiseled chins, great size or strength, a lover’s passion or a thick throbbing cock, ‘cause for ten thousand years now I can persecute any female for infidelity towards ME and hold paternity privilege over MY biological children because we exceptional farmers invented marriage to destroy human sexuality  by enslaving women with MY property for sex so I no longer need to share or compete or settle for an alpha males’ sloppy seconds within foraging groups that are forced to share what they carry with them instead of our enforced legal couplings that takes the innocent, primal pleasure and mystery out of sex by connecting fucking to birth thanks to dirt MY dirt MY very own thousand acres of seeded soil littered with pens full of MY trapped sheep, cattle, goats and pigs which means I can pork any female I fancy and destroy any man who thwarts MY desire as simply as the bulls I castrate into submission to easily herd into MY slaughterhouses that feed all the inferior people no longer dependent on their hunting and gathering skills but on ME to stay alive so not only am I not considered a sociopath by hoarding food but am praised at harvest time like a goddamned hero because I have legally claimed and legally raped those precious few life-giving inches of topsoil with rotating crops and extended grasslands that exhausts and shrinks the earth, MY earth MY reign of forcing agricultural workers to bend over in the fields, stupidly exposing hairless backs to sun poisoning instead of their protective hunters’ heads of hair harvesting MY food that shrinks the testicles of everyone who is forced to feed on the cheap calories of MY industrialized plants and animals that lowers fertility, but who needs big balls anymore when you don’t have to kill larger animals  in order to survive or attract females with your superior physical attributes proving I am the social parasite Sultan of Swat who grows fat on the food  I’ve  seized by stealing public land in the name of government protected ownership as the leader of a vicious pack of hyenas circling a luscious, lovely lamb like you because I am your superior and you know it despite your jealousy of my factory farm fresh endowments and of my lavish, decadent  lifestyle that turns the lips on your face and the lips between your legs moist with desire as you ache to suckle my vegetable love that grows bigger, thicker, stronger than any inferior substitute you can pluck from wild dark forests you pretend contain freedom from want but what I want I get and what I get I need and I want I need is for you to fall to your knees in phallic worship of my industrial container that turns my package into the most sought after edible on God’s green earth so hail to thee oh Dawn of Agriculture the holy D.O.A!

Rp Verlaine

A Dish Served Cold

Again she does
the things I once
found cute
at a party
for friends we
still share at a distance
close enough to register
wounds deep and unkind.

Her smile that shifts
by degrees to look
at me with a sweet sweetness
She could be a cat burglar
with knives for claws
slicing your heart.

A push up bra is an evil
trick but she wears it
to ready effect with
A blouse wide open
as if she was the star 
of an orgy.

I can’t help but stare.

Her tongue licking the
knife while eating cake
is an old move
but she does it
far slower than before.
By the end of the dinner
every man has an erection
and several her phone number.
While all the women, even her
best friend, want to kill her.

She kisses me on cheek
bites it slightly
A final turn on as I
get up to leave.
I hate you she whispers
I know I say as I head  
for the door.

C. Renee Kiser

Exit Strategy

Fade the maze-daze blues
Paid my rat race dues

Impulses i’ve calmed
and collected-
mixed bag of nuts
from the men who dared
my crazy

Toss it down
the highest staircase
my short legs can climb
Feel the burn
Have a laugh
Take a bow
Tumble away, my darlings

Snap out of it
Pager buzzing in your pocket
Table is ready-
the new you is waiting
Your memory must be erased
again and your wig is crooked
A tequila sunrise will set you straight

take the elevator back down,
you dumb bitch

John Yohe

While He’s A Woman

While he’s a woman he wants to be sexy, admiring himself in the mirror, wearing clothes that highlight his assets—pantyhose + a bra which makes his tits look bigger, which makes him feel sexy, maybe look sexy—or ridiculous, because while he’s a woman he cares about what he looks like to other people—even especially to other women, because while he’s a woman he looks at other women and compare himself, and mostly thinks he’s not as attractive, but sometimes while he’s a woman he thinks, Well, at least I’m more attractive than her.

But mostly while he’s a woman he doesn’t feel confident at all, craving attention from women, or men, or certain men anyways, but those men he would do anything for, like get on his knees, or all fours, or send pics of himself, which he knows they might share with their friends, because while he’s a woman he understands that men would want more attractive women, so he’s grateful to get anything, because while he’s a woman he wants to lose control and feel a man’s weight on top of him so he cant breathe or say no though he would tell them anything—even tho in reality he’s scared of men and their danger.

And anyway while he’s a woman he doesn’t do things that really fulfill him, losing time talking to crazies, spending too much on clothes and make up and time and even if he does feel like he looks decent he’s scared to go out in public, so while he’s a woman, alone in his apartment, with no one to look good for, is when he feels most lonely.

HSTQ: Winter 2022

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: Winter 2022, the curated collection from Horror, Sleaze and Trash!

Featuring poetry by J.J. Campbell, Joseph Farley, G. Arthur Brown, Kristin Garth, Willie Smith, Noel Negele, Dustin King, Dave Cullern, Donna Dallas, John Knoll, Nadja Moore, Rob Plath, Michael Lee Johnson, Daniel S. Irwin, John D Robinson, Arthur Graham, C. Renee Kiser, and Bogdan Dragos.

Get your FREE ebook here!

J.J. Campbell

this fruitless journey

squeezing water out 
of the rocks again

this fruitless journey 
to the bottom of 
my mind

i will die penniless 
and insane

some little cabin 
a thousand miles
away from anything

some think it is tragic

i like to think of it 
as fitting

being popular was 
never my thing

being prolific was 
just insanity taking
the wheel and bleeding 
on the page

it gets a little messy

but anything worth 
your time is supposed 
to be that way

Joseph Farley

Ideas of Order in Camden West

Let the bullets sort out the truth
of the dreams in your veins.

You are king of the alley where you lay
until someone else come to join you.

Then you’ll shift your flattened box bed
to accommodate the newcomer,

share a leftover half-sandwich
provided by a social worker

and wait out the day,
as you always do,

so you can walk the night
and blend with the shadows,

becoming one of the procession
that lives in darkness,

or otherwise out of sight,
tolerated more if unseen,

your hunger and needs
offending no one who cannot see you.

Eric Lawson

What the Woman in the Porn Video Was Actually Thinking About

She promised herself otherwise.
But here she was yet again.
Riding his cock, daydreaming.

She keeps a calm, steady rhythm.
It just has to last longer tonight.
Body heat fades fast in February.

She kept her ‘librarian’ glasses on.
Lost in the animal groping
and the hungry licking of sex.

Why was she still with this clown?
How did he stay hard for so long?
As always, the swirling questions
came much sooner than she did.
He always had whiskey somehow.
What the hell did he do for money?

In the sweet surrender motion,
her breasts felt weightless.
Her worries, forgotten.

She was tired of endlessly shopping.
Shopping for cock, for arm candy.
She pined for quilted blankets, heat,
a good mystery book, and whiskey.

As he spasmed beneath her,
panting a lackluster “oh my god,”
she soon realized that religion
had failed her completely.
As she never evolved from
being a Pavlovian whore
for a devil-may-care smile
and whomever spoke poetic
whiskey soaked words at her
across the bar parking lot
in the frigid February night.

This was love’s lukewarm leftovers.
And she would clutch them closely.
No matter how bleak the forecast.
She promised herself otherwise.