Ian Copestick

A Habit Waits for No Man

WOOOOOOWOOOOOOWOOOOOOWOOOOOO!

The sound of burglar alarms mixed in with the sound of the ambulances coming to collect the dead and injured.

NEENAWNEENAWWOOOOOOWOOOOOONEENAWNEENAWWOOOOOOWOOOOOO!

Through the massed crowds of black, white, Asian and all mixed races in-between, I could see him, Paul, sprinting up a side street with a laptop computer under each arm.

The riot vans screeched to a halt in the market square and armored police leapt from the sliding doors, Heckler and Koch submachine guns in hand. They let off a few rounds into the air, as a warning.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

The shots didn’t sound like they did in the movies, they sounded flatter, almost like the sound had been cut off halfway.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

The next round of bullets weren’t warning anybody. I saw people fall. Young girls dressed in miniskirts, their legs spread and knickers showing but strangely I didn’t feel horny at all.

Old men with their trousers up to their armpits, cardigans suddenly sprouting flowers of blood. Bright red, like poppies against the grey wool.

The people didn’t fall like they did in the movies either, there was no histrionics, they just fell, like puppets whose strings had just been snipped by scissors.

I turned my head, not being able to stand so much horror.

Then I came to my senses and started to run.

In the car park at the end of the pedestrianised section, I met up with Paul.

“Well, where the fuck are we going to sell these then?”

“At the moment, Paul, that’s the least of our fucking problems, don’t you think?”

“Okay Mister fucking Smart Arse, how are we going to score then?”

“I don’t mean to alarm you, mate, but it seems like getting away from the coppers is the most main thing. Where we’re going to score doesn’t seem so important at the moment.”

“Well it will be in a couple of fucking hours…”

Suddenly I saw the point of his argument. It didn’t matter if the world was about to end, we still needed drugs, and we would still for the foreseeable future.

“Well shit, do you think that the pawnbrokers will still be open,or should we just try Broady?”

“The pawnbrokers is on the way, so we’ll try them first, eh?”

My sickness was on its way, so I couldn’t be bothered to argue with Paul anymore. Anyway he was right, to get to Broady’s, we’d have to go past the pawnbrokers. So why not give it a shot?

Just because there was a state of emergency at hand, and there were armed forces in the streets, people still needed their drugs. A habit waits for no man.

As we walked up Picadilly we could hear the shots in the background.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

I didn’t know who they were shooting at, or why. It had to be the so-called forces of law and order who were doing the shooting. It had been happening more and more over the last few years. At first they blamed it on the Muslims, counter-terrorism they called it.

The thing is though, those of us who know who the big time dealers noticed that a surprising number of them seemed to get killed along with the so-called terrorists.

Then the coppers took over the dealing, well so they say. I’m just small time and that’s all I want to be, but from what I’ve heard all of the big time dealers are coppers now.

Then the curfew came into effect. I can almost understand that, I mean, the little fuckers were getting out of control. I myself got a kicking a couple of times off the little bastards.

I know that things are pretty bad, but the way it’s shown on the TV, you wouldn’t dare come out at night.

Anyway.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

It was almost like percussion, keeping the beat as we continued up the street.

Some people have told me that a lot of the gunshots you hear are just the coppers firing up into the air, just to keep the people scared, but I don’t know. Those poor fuckers I saw falling in the square, they weren’t acting, that’s for sure.

Anyway, end of the world or not, the Jewish pawnbrokers were still open for business.

Paul did the business, he’s a lot better with the blarney than I am. I always say, if things had been different, he would’ve made a brilliant salesman. No shit, he could sell sand to Arabs, or ice to Eskimos.

He walked out of the pawnbrokers with £200 in his hand, then headed straight to Broady’s.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

Up the piss stinking staircase we went.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

Up to the seventh floor, Broady used to sell shitty, little £10 deals. Before all the “hostilities” started, you could have got twice as much from him as you did now. But, like all businessmen, he knew how to turn every bit of turmoil to his advantage.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

After a while it was like you almost didn’t hear the gunshots anymore.

They were just something happening in the background, like a radio used to be.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

At the bottom of the tower block, we peeled off to the left, heading towards Paul’s squat. Well, I say Paul’s, but it was his and anybody else’s who needed to shoot up whilst they were in the neighbourhood.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

I think it must have been the last KOFF! that got him.

Paul dropped in front of me.

“Come on mate, stop pissing about!”

Paul just lay there, a small patch of blood blooming on his jacket.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

“Shut the fuck up!” I shouted.

It seemed to me that now they’d done their job, they could at least shut up for a bit.

I thought about the drugs in Paul’s pocket.

Then I felt guilty about thinking about the drugs in his pocket.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

It was then I felt a hot, piercing pain in my side, almost as if I’d been stabbed with a red hot knife.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

I looked down and saw a mess of red stuff coming out of me.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

I slumped over to one side. I didn’t mean to, I just couldn’t help it.

KOFF! KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!

Gregor Xane

Gruntwhore’s Triumph

1.

She leaves her final punter on a mottled mattress in the alley, spent and struggling for breath. The night streets are wet with autumn rain. Heavy with child, she lumbers to the only working streetlight, squats at its base, and opens a can of stolen clam chowder with the single fang hidden inside her sex.

2.

A belch echoes in her womb—the whore’s baby is finished with his meal—and the empty can falls from between her legs and clatters at her bare, swollen feet. Two rats squeeze through a crack in the sidewalk, tussle, and race up her legs to the clumps of chowder leftovers smeared around her vulva.

3.

The puddle at her feet reflects the scene up her skirt: a tiny hand springs from her vagina, snatches a rat by the scruff of its neck and drags it inside. Vermin bones crunch in her womb. The rat’s naked tail whips her thighs with its dying shit. Her hungry boy reaches out for seconds.

4.

She was born a thaumaturge, but doesn’t know, and yet she performs miracles of the flesh. She’s remade her internal anatomy according to her misunderstandings of biology. She’s constructed a single ovum, the size of a chicken’s egg, to trap spermatozoa from every man she’s serviced, to give herself a son with a thousand fathers.

5.

Felled by one great contraction, she slams down hard on the sidewalk. Her belly explodes, and out steps her infant son, coated in gore. Her screams bounce between warehouses, condemned homes, and shuttered bars. The baby grabs his mother’s intestine and uses it as a jump rope, skipping, splashing in a widening pool of blood.

Tom Over

GoD Moves In Delirious Ways

The ghost of the driver squinted through the partially obscured windshield despite being able to see perfectly well. It was more a habit carried over from once owning a body than anything else. Not having eyes spared him from any stresses that might arise from poor driving visibility. GoD, to his friends, was mostly omnipotent within a 20-foot radius, meaning he could see outside of the car just as well as he could inside it. This factor gave him an inadvertent edge over the other drivers in the race, not that they were particularly aware of being up against a non-physical, ectoplasmic entity.

This spectral advantage was just as well because with each passing hour the view of the road shrank a little more. The windshield, now a squirming morass of vegetation, glowed with networks of throbbing lights. The interlocking roots of some unknown organism pulsed and flexed against the glass like the blood vessels of a shifting psychedelic skin. This occurrence had come about days earlier when GoD ploughed unwittingly through a pasture of sentient mushrooms, the fungus emitting a barrage of tiny screams as the vehicle tore through its homestead. Sometime later, GoD began to notice strange tendrils emerging from the hood. Within hours it was clear that whatever had latched itself onto the chassis was coming along for the ride.

By now the interior of the car resembled the very same patch it had not long decimated. Crops of iridescent toadstools erupted from the AC vents and gaps in the dashboard. Fungal clusters of every size and texture sprouted up through the floor, and a shimmering moss coated the seats and steering wheel like a carpet of shaggy slime mould. GoD couldn’t tell if the organism was aware of his presence, but he knew it would be able to detect what lay in the trunk. He only hoped that the driver’s body had been sufficiently encased in Bio-Mend to resist any mycological intrusion. At least until his limbs had regenerated enough for him to take his place back at the wheel.

Before GoD could ponder what ridiculous obstacle might occur next, the ground beneath the car started to rumble. Christ, thought GoD. Not another fucking earthquake. It wasn’t another fucking earthquake, butwithin minutes he was sorely wishing it had been.The marshy land ahead of the car quivered and sagged before a giant detonation of earth erupted into the sky. As rugged chunks of road rained down, a colossal and terrifying shape moved beneath the veil of debris. GoD tried to spin the vehicle clear but the crumbling ground pulled it further into the yawning sinkhole. Inside the car the mushrooms squealed – this time they were not alone. Trying hopelessly to reverse out of the pit, GoD noticed a terrible dark shadow fall across the hood, then the windshield, and the dash. The fungal colonies recoiled against the silhouette, their collective glow appearing to shiver.

With terrifying speed something enormous lashed itself around the car and heaved it out of the rubble. Plate-sized suckers gripped the windshield, shredding through the strobing roots as if they were flimsy Christmas decorations. If GoD had possessed jaw muscles he imagined they would have been entirely slack. Like a child’s toy the vehicle was rotated in mid-air and brought level with the most repellent face anyone, alive or dead, could have imagined. The creature resembled some kind of mutant toad, but one of gigantic proportions. Between suckers GoD could make out a head the size of a desert butte, a monstrous living cliff-face of frothy warts and boiling pustules. Vast tentacles thrashed about its bubbling skull like some huge amphibious Medusa. With wet amber eyes the size of dirigibles the thing peered in through the windshield. Whether it registered the empty interior wasn’t clear, but the way it then started cackling could only mean one thing. GoD gawked helplessly down the creature’s hellish throat as the car was dangled cruelly above it.

Thoughts of him becoming dinner suddenly diminished as the vehicle was whipped away and thrust southward. The beast appeared to flip onto its side, exposing its undercarriage and a spectacle of pure horror. Through the windshield a gargantuan swampy vagina puckered and oozed impatiently, looming ever larger as the vehicle was swung toward it. GoD could do little else but clench the steering wheel and his ghostly butthole before the car was shoved into the putrid maw. You gotta be fucking kidding me, he hollered at the toadstools. The automobile-shaped dildo was pounded again and again as the toad beast gurgled in horrific delight. Waves of viscous sex gunk rolled off the windshield and with each mighty plunge the car’s bodywork crumpled up more.

Just as GoD thought all was lost – the race, the possibility of ever returning to his body – something happened. The fungal organism both inside and outside the car began to hum. Its collaborative song grew shrill and then, as the next thrust seemed imminent, each mushroom ossified into a rigid crystal shard. When the car entered the beast again it was for the last time. On its way out each diamond-hard spine took a piece of toad vagina with it. A torrent of genital gore rained down and with a deafening animal scream the vehicle was hurled into the air. Flipping twice, it somehow landed on its wheels amid a downpour of chunky viscera. GoD allowed his omni-vision to kick in, navigating swiftly through curtains of blood, around the treacherous pit, and back onto the road beyond.

As the flailing monster receded into the distance, the battered, gore-soaked car chugged away in the direction of hope. The stiffened crystal colonies melted back into organic matter and seemed to exhale in glowing union. The blood seeped into them, absorbed by their roots – and later, flowers bloomed.

Robb T. White

Glory Hole Gourmands

Dragomir Ratko was probably the biggest unindicted war criminal from the Bosnian civil war of the nineties. His atrocities and personalized cruelty to prisoners were legendary, yet somehow the Hague’s criminal courts investigators were unable to put together a case against him as they were against that notorious baby-faced henchman of President Slobodan Miloŝević, known as “Arkan”; yet many who had fought in Arkan’s notorious “Tigers” militia reported Arkan was extremely impressed by his soldier and that, everyone agreed, took some doing for a man whose militia had slaughtered, raped, and looted throughout Bosnia, Serbia, and Kosovo.

One grainy video has survived; it shows a warehouse in a village somewhere in the Balkans. A group of militia soldiers with the “Tiger” shoulder patch are standing in a circle shouting and drinking. The camera lens moves between two men to zoom on two nude men on the cement floor. They are bound together in an obscene 69 position. It is clear the men are being encouraged to bite each other’s genitalia with their teeth. Booted kicks in their backs and gun barrels thrust against their heads make the shouted command clear. The action suddenly commences when one prisoner strains to bite at the flopping member of the man he is tied to. That bitten man’s mouth opens in what looks like an operatic, pear-shaped scream of pain. He retaliates. It is the other man’s turn to howl as his own penis is clamped in the teeth of the biter. As the victim jerks it free, a bloody flap of skin from his uncircumcised penis is caught in the biter’s teeth. Soon they are snapping like ferocious dogs at each other’s testicles and their faces are bloodied by the savagery of their ripping teeth. It is not known who the men are or what happened to them. It’s probable they were both dumped alive into the same shallow grave, still bound, and buried alive. A bullet to the head would have been too much mercy for these killers.

Ratko made his way across Europe and somehow entered the United States. As he had no record, he could get false papers through a network of Bulgarian criminals in Paris and immigrated to the United States. The clannish Russian mobs who run “Little Odessa,” or Brighton Beach, when it still belonged to Brooklyn, told him to move on and so he did.

Ratko had one other skill besides a sociopathic lust for murder: he was a fantastic cook. He started as a fry cook off Times Square and worked his way up over a decade until he made sous-chef for one of best restaurants on Riverside Drive. Known as Chef Thierry, he was famous for his creative sauces.

But Dragomir Ratko never lost his appetite for sadism. As he moved up the social scale and prospered financially and socially, he made contacts with a variety of people of influence in Manhattan.

One of his customers was a young independent filmmaker, Roger DuPré, who had won some award at the Tribeca a few years ago and was billed by critics as an “intellectual Quentin Tarantino.” He had heard rumors from some junior traders talking about him as Drago sat at the bar after his shift.  This filmmaker wore vintage eyeglasses like John Lennon and cultivated a popular, rough-edged image down to his ginger beard stubble. He was the scion of one of the Big Six publishing houses and had a sideline interest in making artsy films that the effete arthouse intelligentsia chatted over in their social media interactions and bloggings. They used phrases like “Euro-hip, anarchic insouciance,” and “bare-knuckled bravura” to one-up their esteem and prove how unshockable they were until a film critic for the Village Voice pointed out that DuPré’s films were barely a notch above the Tijuana blue films of the 1950’s—an actress on her knees wringing every last drop of sperm from a flaccid cockhead.

It took Drago three months to make the right approach, but he used his culinary skill to make the introduction easier. The filmmaker was flattered that the chef had made a special dish in his honor. The waiter asked Ratko to step into the dining room to meet the illustrious filmmaker, who had requested it. Drago knew the right approach as the filmmaker was surrounded by his usual crowd of millennial admirers, including the two anorectic women intellectuals flanking him at table. Ratko found the film on the internet from some art-house website and watched it; it was all gibberish in big English words concerning an artistic filmmaker trying nobly to keep his art untarnished by commercialism. Drago found it so numbing he had to down half a bottle of his favorite cognac to get through it. Typically boring, self-absorbed American shitheadedness, he thought. Those limp-wristed fawners wouldn’t know what to make of his films like the anal rape of Muslim virgins, who were sent back to their villages to be murdered in “honor” killings or shunned for life as filthy women? In the vicious world of the Bosnian Tigers, there were strong men and weak men, nothing else.

After the introductions, Drago mentioned a scene from that film, gushed over its “brooding atmosphere,” a phrase he had stolen from a different film critique.

Over the next few weeks, Drago cultivated that relationship until the filmmaker agreed to allow him to visit the set of his next film. Drago knew the luster of his Tribeca film was long faded and the filmmaker was supported by his family’s fortune.

Drago laid on the European mannerisms and thickened his accent for the stupid American females who comprised part of Roger’s circle.

That afternoon he was in the flat and inside the wet cunt of one named Liisa, while her girlfriend sucked his bag from behind. When he climaxed, he had them both in front of him on their knees so he could spurt jissom on their faces.

Ten days from that apartment rendezvous, he met Liisa again, alone, at his place. They dispensed with the wine and artsy-fartsy talk. He lowered his head to her cunt and began to nibble her clit. She lay back, exhausted and moaned for him to stop until she could get her breath.

“Now,” Drago said. “Tell me about Hummingbird.”

Hummingbird was Drago’s name for the director.

“He can’t fuck like you.”

“Never mind that,” Drago said. “What kinds of films does he make besides those shitty art films?”

By the time he had winkled out the warehouse where Hummingbird made his porn films, he threw her out of his place with a glassine bag of heroin. He wanted to do a quick recon despite the late hour.

The four-eyed director was a fraud. He made real porno films for a distributor. Not that he needed to but he apparently liked the cachet it gave him with the bohemian crowd. Liisa said she’d gone with him a few times to watch. Roger used actors hired through a sex-workers network, stoked the males with Viagra to keep them erect and the women coke to keep them compliant throughout the filming. Even here, he was a pretentious fraud. He had to pay his camera team union wages but everyone else was paid off the books.

“Here’s something else you don’t know about our rich-boy Hummingbird,” she said and splayed her legs so he could get the full benefit of her shaved snatch. “He’s always high when he makes these films. Meth, not just coke. He likes to have sex with the fluffers after filming.”

“What is a fluffer?”

“She’s there to keep the males hard for when they’re off camera.”

Six more weeks passed while Ratko worked as patiently as a trapdoor spider. First, he embarked on a campaign to make himself indispensable to Roger not only in the restaurant but on his free days when he and Roger went clubbing to the trendier Manhattan night spots. Ratko had used drugs throughout the long Sarajevo campaign, a six-year siege from ’92 to ’96. Amphetamines from Turkey, like the Captagon used by Daash soldiers in battlefields today, helped him fight off the cold winter nights and the hunger. He was thirty pounds lighter back then.

Dupré was a heroin user on occasion. Ratko obtained fentanyl-laced heroin with its kick and stronger addictive grip on the nervous system. Soon, he had Roger calling him at his apartment and then at work to get it. Always Ratko obliged and refused to take any money for it. He let Roger believe he was using it recreationally and suffered no side effects from it “other than a little sleeplessness.” The truth was that Drago Ratko had never needed more than four hours of sleep even as a child. He wasn’t wired like the average person; he could sleep and wake up at will.

The first time Roger brought him to one of his sleazy films was supposed to be a treat for Drago, and he remembered to act the part of a grateful and astonished acolyte to the great filmmaker at work. In fact, he’d filmed “breaking houses” in Bosnia and sent the films on to Arkan for his viewing pleasure. Before Arkan was shot in the eye from a machine pistol by an assassin working for the police, he was celebrating with his bodyguards at the Intercontinental Hotel in Belgrade; he had risen to become the biggest crime boss in the Balkans and Ratko had hoped to link his fate to the great Željko Ražnatović after the war.

Those who knew Roger Dupré from his days in Soho and the Village were astonished at the changes when they saw him. Thinner, eyes glazed, he mumbled, his head jerking up and down like a bobblehead doll.

Drago finally had keys to Roger’s warehouse, access to the camera equipment stored there, and was on a first-name basis with his crew, all of whom were by now sick of his dope-fueled behavior and tantrums on set. Drago decided to speed up the timetable of Roger’s demise; he felt he was ready to commence the final phase of his plan by then.

Roger’s funeral was a bizarre affair. A mix of fashionistas, highbrows, gay food-and-art critics, intellectuals alongside a ragtag bunch of druggies, rave, and nightclub hedonists—all of them cheek-by-jowl with Roger’s very snobby family and relatives at graveside in an upscale Connecticut cemetery. Ratko listened to the tripe of a minister waxing eloquent. Drago, however, played his part stoically and shook both parents’ hands and even patted the sobbing mother’s shoulder.

Good riddance to that pretentious fool, he thought. First, Drago had to find his customers and at ten thousand dollars a plate, that was going to take some time and some careful investigative work.

He started with street prostitutes and huffers willing to suck strange cock through a glory hole. Ratko recruited off the seedier side streets and bars in the Bowery. He dropped several hundred in casual encounters with single men drinking late in bars and street hustlers. One girl, whose nostril cavities were flecked with silver Day-Glo, turned out to have an extraordinary appetite for dick. Ratko made her clean up and fix her hair; once he showed her the money and gave her the instructions, she was a dynamo in action She took every cock instantly no matter the size, shape, or color—hard, semi-hard, or flaccid—and using her mouth with the skill of a concert flautist brought ten cocks to climax in forty-seven minutes. Ratko timed her.

In a week, he had the booth sound-proofed and designed to be worked with a simple pulley-lever system. The interior of the booth was all black with a single plastic chair in the center and a metal container, painted black, the size of a bread box in one corner. An infrared camera filmed the action. Three rectangular holes were cut out for the men to use; the fourth was basically a peephole for Ratko to observe and pull the lever at the right time.

The night-vision camcorder did the filming from an upper corner. The more expensive camera sat on its stabilizer a dozen feet from the glory hole. He had his monitor rigged to the CCTV lens. No one else was permitted on set. Ratko had made that clear to each one.

Ratko selected his first three men—single, loners, all heavy drinkers; they were told to come to the address at precise times an hour apart.

Liisa’s gag reflex tripped practicing on a banana. A ropy string of saliva drooled down her front over her breasts.

“Use your throat muscles more,” he said.

“I’m trying, Drago, I’m trying! Please don’t be mad. I’m hurting. I need some more,” she begged.

The first male arrived promptly and knocked the correct signal on the folding doors. Drago gave him a fifty-dollar bill and led him to the filming area which took advantage of the sloping floor drains.

His hired huffer girl appeared at his side. Once she did her job, she was told to exit and return at the next appointed time.

When the huffer pulled his droopy, uncircumcised cock free from his pants, he seemed startled.

“Come on, man,” Ratko chided, “you know what you’re here for.”

She gave the man’s cockhead a little kiss before getting up to leave. Ratko handed her a twenty and pointed to the exit. He gave the man a gentle shove in the direction of the boxlike booth and said, “Go inside. She’s in there waiting.”

The man, with his prick in front of him bobbing about, headed toward the glory hole where Liisa waved her hand through.

Ratko activated both cameras.

When Liisa felt the throbbing meat in her mouth about to spew, she was to withdraw, maintain a grip on the glans and pull toward her. The climaxing male would have no time to react.

The blades of large butcher’s knives were welded to the bottom edge of a piece of scrap metal from a junkyard in Queens weighing as much as a manhole cover. It would drop from its position fourteen inches above the aperture by means of a window-sash alignment with bars of pig iron to ensure the home-made guillotine fell with maximum force.

Ratko heard the big man slam his body to the booth wall as if he were trying to flatten himself to it. His scream was a yodel of oh-oh-oh’s. The sound of the blade slamming into its grooved slot at the bottom told Drago it worked to perfection.

The big man’s scream of pain and surprise was no yodel this time but a lung-filling bellow of pain and shock. He had both hands over his crotch while blood streamed between his fingers. He looked comical to Ratko who watched the man stumble backwards, his pants around his ankles, bent over to see the damage. The red hole where his penis had been spouted blood in a fountain. In contrast, the man’s face was leeched of all blood. He swayed, then toppled forward, a tree falling in the forest making no sound. Ratko had used corkboard for sound-proofing in this windowless room as well.

First, Ratko had to make sure everything inside was correct. Liisa, high on heroin before she entered, sat on her chair in the center of the darkened room like a naughty child in time out.

“Did I do OK, Drago?”

“Where the fuck is it?”

“I put it in the box of dry ice like you told me,” Liisa said.

“Stay there,” Ratko said. “I’ll check.”

He stepped over to it and saw it inside, wrapped in thick cellophane, and nestled between the chunks of dry ice.

“Did you drop it? Don’t lie to me. It’s on film,” Ratko growled at her.

“I’m sorry. It was so slippery,” Liisa said. “Look at my hands—all bloody. It kept slipping through my fingers. I tried—”

“Shut up!” Drago ordered her.

Ratko could imagine the stoned bitch trying to grasp it on the cement floor like some fishwife trying to pull an eel from a barrel.

“Clean up,” he ordered her. “The next one’s due”—he checked his watch—“in fifty minutes.”

“You promised me,” she whined.

That didn’t give Ratko much time, either. He had to disassemble the wall and get guillotine back in its position, saw through strap muscles and bone, which always looks easy in horror films, but takes skill and practice. That, too, was one of his specialties. The Mexican cartel sicoros could teach him nothing about beheading a dead body. He attached chains to the remainder of the corpse and dragged it off to the far end of the warehouse where he covered it with garbage bags. Disposal would come later. That, too, was arranged.

The big man’s neck was a red geyser by the time he finished. He had just eighteen minutes to hose down the floors and blast all the red water and debris into the corner scupper holes. The coppery scent of blood still lingered in the steamy air created by the high-pressure hose, but he had aerosol deodorizers for that.

The huffer was right on time. He told her where to stand.

Huffers, fluffers—American slang was like baby-talk, like their text-English. The language of imbeciles who never saw violence and think a cracked fingernail is a tragedy.

Number Two was about twenty-five, muscular, and tattooed. He seemed confident, even a touch arrogant. Ratko decided to let him play alpha male for the time being. He gave him two twenties and a ten, which the man tucked into his jeans without looking at the bills.

“Where’s it at, man?”

Drago pointed to the girl, and he said, “What’s she for?”

“She’ll get you hard first,” he told him. “I have pills if you want.”

“Fuck that shit, man.”

“OK, my friend,” Drago said. “See the hand waving at you? That’s where you go.”

The man unzipped himself and pulled his cock free from his Levi’s just before inserting it. Drago shrugged and paid off the huffer.

“You know when to return, right?”

“Two-fifty-five,” Drago corrected. “Be on time.”

Drago slowly moved to his position to watch and wait.

Liisa’s dope fix was interfering with her suck job inside. This could be trouble. The man’s well-endowed member kept slipping from between her lips. She seemed to have a hard time getting her hands around it to put it back in her mouth. The man’s gyrating hips from his side weren’t helping. He was trying to mouth-fuck her.

Ratko felt behind him in his belt for the Glock he kept there.

Ratko heard him protesting loudly: “Come on, bitch! Suck it! Gobble that cock!”

Liisa was half-gagging on the size, unable to get into a rhythm.

“Ow, you cunt! Watch the teeth! Watch the teeth!”

Ratko decided he’d have to make the call instead of wait for her. Just then, the man withdrew his erection from her. Ratko tensed, prepared to move fast, his gun already out.

Then the man reached through the hole and grabbed Liisa’s head by the hair and pulled her face into the hole.

“You’re going to suck this cock right, you fucking bitch, or I’ll shove it down your goddamn throat—”

Ratko had heard enough. He pulled the lever. The blade dropped with a rattling sound.

The man stepped back just as his predecessor had. “What the fuck,” he said. He said it two more times, calmly, not shouting.

“Where’s—where’s my dick. . .”

He was in a daze, barely able to comprehend what had just occurred.

Liisa’s fist thrust through the hole wagging his flopping penis.

“You. . . bitch. . . I’m. . . kill you—”

He sounded drunk. He staggered up to the hole. Unlike the first man, a single stream of bright blood spurted free. Liisa pulled her hand holding the detached cock back inside.

Christ, Drago thought, I could be making a stupid comedy here.

He stepped around the corner and shot the upright man in the face. He fell backward without taking a step as if he had stepped through a trap door. He lay on the cement, his legs, with his pants down to his knees, trying to curl up into his belly.

“You give me a lot of trouble, you asshole!” Ratko hissed down at him. He put two more bullets into his head that blew tiny puffs of his hair. The man stopped squirming.

Drago checked the monitor. Liisa’s expression was blank. She was back on automatic motor, swaying on her stool in a dope-fiend nod. The floor was dotted with smears and red comet tails of blood.

Drago worked fast and hard. The place was an abattoir. He was lathered in sweat by time he finished cleaning the room and washing the blood down the scuppers. He parked the tow motor, the floor steaming with water droplets and the air redolent of a slightly sweet smell penetrating the lavender scent of the deodorizer spray, when the huffer arrived, her own eyes glazed from a recent fix, utterly oblivious of the fact she was standing in an abattoir, not a film set, while she waited for the third payout of the day. Ratko broke her neck while she counted her bills.

The third male was the youngest of the three. Ratko chose him because he was a loner like the others and was a steady drinker of bourbon on the rocks. Ratko’s approach to him had been different from the others, less coarse, more of an opportunity to make a few bucks and get his rocks off while doing it. “That is,” Ratko added nonchalantly while sipping his own whisky sour, “if you’re not too busy that day.”

Three was the charm. Liisa performed to perfection. She yanked his hardon just as a strand of silver pre-cum oozed from the man’s boner, an unusually long, thin penis that Liisa managed to take all the way down for once. To Ratko looking at the monitor, it looked like a goose trying to swallow a turkey baster.

His head was a little harder to remove as the field dressing kit he used was bought at a Walmart on Long Island instead of one of the pricey Manhattan sporting goods stores.

Ratko was exhausted but happy. Everything had gone as planned.

Now he had to get ready for the second part, which would be suited for his other skill set.

Meal the next night was by personal invitation from Ratko only. No gilt-edged invitations: just a time, a location, and money up front. The guests were hand-picked from his roster of customers known for their wealth and very unusual culinary tastes.

Each of the three braised penises was served on wedges of crisp lettuce with a garnish of cranberries and sprigs of thyme. The sauce—Ratko’s specialty—was simple: oil and butter with a heavy whipping cream simmered for two minutes exactly. Moroccan spices and sweet dates added to the color and texture of the presentation. The guests knew they were being filmed (each was to receive a copy for a memento) and so they wore masks. A white linen sheet covered them during the meal for extra protection against any grease spatter much as diners of that bunting bird, the ortolan—those true gourmands—know to take the entire sautéed bird in their mouths, chew, and spit out the bird’s feet and bill onto the plate. It makes, they say, a most satisfying noise and conclusion to a wonderful dining experience.

After the coffee and pastries, Ratko shook the two men’s hands and lightly brushed the back of the woman’s hand with his lips, a continental gentleman, no less. Ratko walked them to the door. He knew they’d tell their select friends about this unique dining experience, and he’d have no end of diners begging him to take their money.

Mather Schneider

Dan Tells Me a Story at 4 a.m. While We Wait for Our Cabs

So I’m up in the fucking foothills and I get a call over the computer, that little beep comes on to tell me a fare is in my area. We never know what we’re getting into, do we, just the general area of the call, that’s it. Could be fucking Charles Manson for all we know. Still, naturally I accept it; there’s just not enough calls to reject one, you know that. You accept them and you take your chances.

The address is way out in zone 584, which isn’t where I’m at at all, I’m in fucking zone 457! You know how the dispatch system does this sometimes, these mistakes, but I figure what the hell, I go for it. Takes me 25 minutes to get there, and I can’t find the place at first, my GPS system takes me straight at a brick wall and insists I go through it. That female computer voice of the GPS navigator is always sending me down dead ends. Reminds me of my ex wife, ha ha. They might as well program that voice to say, “Turn right in a half mile on Grant Road, you worthless idiot.” Ha ha. Anyway, I find a way around it and find the other part of the road and find the right address.

It’s a fancy house like all the houses up there, those rich fucks and their fancy houses, but the first thing I notice is a burrito laying in the yard. It’s just laying there half open, chicken it looks like.

Then I notice other things in the yard: lettuce, carrots, something that looks like oatmeal, a freezer pizza, all just thrown about. What the fuck? I think. I try to call the number but of course there’s no answer. So I get out of the cab and head for the door, I mean, hell, I drove all the way up there. As I’m walking to the door I see other things in the yard: a pile of Tums, beans, rice, a broken bag of flour, an opened can of ravioli, some broccoli, and other things too.

I knock on the door and a lady comes and opens it half way. She’s very short and old and has a cigarette in her mouth about 2 feet long. Whacko! I think.

“I can’t come outside,” she says.

“What?”

“I can’t come outside, someone is trying to poison me.”

“Don’t you need a cab?”

“I need you to go to Walgreen’s for me,” she says. “I need some Bling H2O and some cigarettes. Marlboro Lights.”

She stuffs 50 bucks in my hand.

Shit. So, ok, I drove all the way up there after all. I head down to Walgreen’s which is only about a mile away and go in there. I leave the meter on of course.

Turns out Bling H2O is just bottled water, so I grab some of that. Then I wander around and look at some magazines, go to the bathroom, you know, to get that meter up a bit. Then I go to the counter.

I’m not a smoker so I don’t know about this shit, but I guess there’s a few kinds of Marlboro Lights. So I call the whackjob up. She answers this time. What kind of Marlboro’s you want? 100’s, she says. I tell the clerk. 100’s are the long kind. Learn something new every day.

Well the water and cigarettes are 9 bucks, and when I get back out to the cab the meter still only says 17 dollars, by the time I get back to her house it says 22.

I knock on the door again, standing there with my little sack. She opens up, and I give her a five. I kind of peek into the house and I can see the floor is covered in what looks like Cheerios. Must have been 20 boxes of Cheerios I swear to God, they were like an ankle deep. She was wading through them in her house slippers.

“Where’s the rest of my change?” she says.

“That’s it,” I say. “9 bucks for your crap, 22 for the trip and 10 for being your little errand boy.”

She scowls. “But that’ 41.”

For a nutbag she sure knew her math. I peel off 4 ones and thrust them at her. Some people.

She closes the door and I go back to my cab, looking at the spinach and the fish sticks and the bread thrown around in the yard. The javelinas are gonna have a feast, I think. Then I see a can of coffee there. I pick it up, it’s half full. Folger’s. So I take it with me, why not. Shit, maybe it’s poisoned, maybe it’ll kill me, put me out of my fuckin’ misery. But it wasn’t, I drank some this morning, tasted pretty good.

So, how was your day yesterday? You make any money, or what?

Mathias Nelson

Pretty Girls

One college night, Stacy sat at a small café counter in little white shorts, her legs long and fresh. She licked at an ice cream cone, lapping around its edges, her tongue dappled creamy white. Her friend Nancy was dressed more modest, in jeans and a low-cut sweater. She ate a banana split with a spoon, slowly cutting into it like a soft phallus. The two of them sat on their stools together, swiveling like schoolgirls and laughing.

“But Mark has such a huge cock!” Stacy whispered to Nancy. They covered their mouths to keep from spitting.

Nancy swallowed, then whispered to Stacy, “Johnny has rhythm, but he always wants to titty fuck. God, I can’t stand it much longer! My heart’s gonna bruise!” She put a hand over her chest as they both cracked up and ice cream dribbled down their chins.

Meanwhile, the owner of the café was busy washing dishes back in the kitchen, periodically turning an ear (and an eye) their way.

“Well,” Stacy said, “you think that’s bad, once Mark was giving it to me doggystyle and he slapped me in the back of the head! Called it a donkey-punch!” They both keeled over, dying.

As Stacy regained her composure, she locked eyes with her BFF and had one of those weird moments where she wished she was bi.

Then, cone in hand, she looked over at the tables lining the wall where a lean, older man sat in a frayed, dirty green coat. The bright lights reflected in his dark sunglasses, and long strands of greasy salt and pepper hair hung around his ears. The only other customer in the late-night café, he stared steadily at Stacy, slowly drawing on a cigarette with perfect, unwavering accuracy, though his gaze never seemed to leave her naked legs.

Stacy quickly swivelled in her stool so her legs were beneath the counter, out of the man’s line of sight.

Nancy studied her disgusted expression and asked, “What is it? What’s the matter?”

“That guy,” Stacy said, her voice barely a whisper. “Behind us, in the sunglasses. He’s been… watching me.”

Nancy pretended to brush a loose hair from her shoulder and casually glanced over. The man took another drag off his cigarette, its tip flaring like a smoldering eye, and blew the smoke her way. She pretended to focus her attention out the window at the passing traffic.

And under the table, had she really seen it? The man rubbing his crotch?

“Creepy…” she said, cringing as they both sat with their backs to him.

It was then that the owner ambled out from the kitchen and began to wipe the counters. He leaned over and whispered to the young ladies, “Be careful with that one over there. He’s a real kook…”

Nancy slowly pushed her banana phallus away with disgust. Meanwhile, Stacy’s ice cream had begun to melt; it wove around her fingers.

“What’re we gonna do?” Nancy asked. “I’m sick of old sick fucks… Remember what happened to Clara, in that alley? How’re we gonna to get home?”

“Uh, I know,” Stacy answered. “The dorms are seven blocks away, but I don’t think he’ll be able to catch us if we run…”

The owner was walking all around the café now, cleaning off tables before close. As he approached the man’s table, the man said, “Get me a beer for the wait, would yuh?”

“Sure thing, mister,” the owner replied. “What yuh waitin’ on, anyway?”

“Heaven,” the man said, still facing the two college girls.

Bustling off with an armload of dishes, the owner cast a sidelong glance at them on his way back to the kitchen.

“What the fuck was that all about?” Stacy gasped.

Before Nancy could reply, the owner came back around and brought the man his beer.

Still staring at the girls, the man grabbed it off the table without even looking down. And then, draining it in several slow, steady chugs, he licked his lips, set the empty bottle down, and took another long drag off his cigarette.

“What’re we going to do?” Nancy squealed, pulling down the back of her top to make sure her thong wasn’t showing. “Just leave?”

Stacy chanced a quick glance outside. “There’s a gas station across the street,” she said. “We can run over there and watch to make sure he doesn’t follow us. If he does, we’ll call the fucking cops.”

Nancy faltered for a moment, then gave Stacy the briefest of nods.

“We’ll just leave it on the counter!” she called to the owner as they jumped up and bolted for the door. “Keep the change!”

Jaywalking between headlights, flashing by in the misty night, together they made it past the pumps, through the parking lot, and into the safety of the gas station. They pretended to peruse the shelves, periodically glancing back at the brightly lit café where the man still sat, unmoving at this table.

“He’s not getting up,” Nancy said.

“Let’s stick around a little longer,” Stacy said, “just in case.”

And they did, until they saw the man slowly begin to rise from his seat, pulling something long and knob-shaped from between his legs.

“Is that his cock!?” Stacy gasped as the attendant glanced their way.

“No…” Nancy laughed, shaking her head in disbelief. “It’s his cane…”

Tapping it from side to side, combing the floor for obstacles before him, the man set off in the general direction of the cafe’s entrance. The owner came around the counter and took him by the arm, gently guiding him out and closing the door behind him.

Once outside, the man waited on the curb until a car pulled up and took him away.

The girls giggled hysterically, embarrassed by how wrong they’d read the situation. Once they’d regained their composure, they decided to just forget about it, instinctively wandering over to the magazine racks for some much-needed distraction.

Meanwhile, back in the café, the owner flipped over the closed sign, then proceeded to shut off the lights. There would be no more customers for the night, so he undid his apron, removed his cap, and went back into the kitchen to finish cleaning up.

The girls bought a magazine with a shirtless pop singer on its cover. Together they strolled out of the gas station, smiling despite themselves. Traffic had slowed down quite a bit. It was getting late.

As they began their walk back to campus, Stacy couldn’t help but glance back at the café they’d previously just escaped with their lives.

Suddenly she stopped and grabbed Nancy by the arm.

“Look…” she said, pointing.

Inside the darkened café, there was owner, sniffing the stools they’d been sitting on.

Ben Newell

Best Bra Ever

Hippie Manson freaks wrote in their victims’ blood—

PIG
DEATH TO PIGS
RISE

—but there was no blood, so he couldn’t do that. He didn’t stab or slash, didn’t care for the mess. Strangulation was his thing. It was more intimate, watching them slip away as he tightened the garrote. There was nothing like it in the world.

Still, he always tagged the wall: pentagram, inverted cross, 666. He kept a canister of black spray paint in his kit. He wanted to shock and offend. In fact there was nothing satanic about his motivations. He just liked to kill women, rape them and kill them. It was a compulsion, a savage force within.

The rapes had started years ago. But like an alcoholic, his tolerance had gotten higher and higher until that was no longer enough. Murder was inevitable.

Now, spray paint in hand, he stood there in the bedroom eyeing the wall above her headboard. He started to spray the number of the beast, but decided against this. As much as he liked the occult angle, he had to admit it was getting a bit stale.

Something fresh was needed. But nothing would come. He was at a loss. The white wall mocked him. So this is writer’s block, he thought, peering at the surface with mounting frustration.

Maybe a snack would help. It was part of his M.O., raiding the victim’s kitchen for food and beer. For some reason the media had made a big deal about this. He had no idea why.

He opened the fridge and smiled. Beer and a fresh loaf of bread, egg salad, pickles, any and every condiment a person could want. He made a sandwich, took it and a beer into the living room where he dropped into a plush sofa.

She had a large, wall-mounted flat-screen. Remote in hand, he leaned back and surfed. Fifty zillion channels and not a goddamned thing worth watching.

“Unbelievable,” he muttered.

He ate his sandwich and nursed the beer, blazing through program after program. Shit, nothing but shit. Until…

Some high-maintenance blonde was modeling a bra for three other high-maintenance blondes, all of whom had gym-toned figures and perfect TV teeth. They talked on and on about the bra, its remarkable features, what made it superior to other bras on the market.

“This truly is,” one of the blondes said, “the best bra ever.”

He actually choked on his beer when he heard it. Suds dribbling from his mouth, he hacked and coughed and slapped his knee before finally regaining his composure. He couldn’t believe it. That his problem had been solved by an infomercial was just too much.

He got up from the sofa, leaving the bottle on the table. They could swab it all they wanted, but it wouldn’t matter. He had never been arrested, never even gotten a lousy speeding ticket. His DNA wasn’t in the system.

Entering her bedroom with purposeful strides, he grabbed the spray paint from the nightstand and shook it vigorously. Ball bearings clicked and clacked. He raised the canister to the wall. And pressed the nozzle…

BEST BRA EVER

After it was done, he stepped back to admire his handiwork. Perfect, absolutely perfect.

He regarded his victim on the bed. “What do you think, baby? Fucking hilarious, huh…”

Of course it was a different make and model, the bra wrapped around her neck.

Adrian Manning

Teeth

The small pool at the hotel, in the dizzying Los Angeles midday heat, looks inviting. Wire fenced from the streets and parking lot, it glistens like a diamond in the concrete. Having just survived a near miss with a big, strong fellow in black shades which hid the madness in his eyes, outside the men’s room at an all you can eat restaurant in Hollywood, to escape and hide underwater seems a good idea. Stripped down to my shorts, I dive in. The water refreshes me – hides me.

It’s then I notice the rats, a black wall along the side of the pool. What I had mistaken for vampire tiles, I now see is a mass of black, wiry hairs, sharp teeth and grinning bloody eyes. They are clinging together – holding onto each other. The hairs float in the water – a rippling carpet.
I think, how will I get out of here without touching the rats? I don’t want to touch them – they may bite and rip at my flesh. Why aren’t they drowning? I ask myself. How can they hold on for so long?
It’s then I realise I cannot swim. I try but it is useless. I cannot remember ever swimming – the idea of it was insane. Now I know I will drown. I cannot reach the floor of the pool to stand and I’m getting nowhere flailing my arms around.
It’s then that I see that I have disturbed the rats and now they are moving, moving towards me, swimming, leading with their teeth. Not one but many, from all sides – an inverted ripple.

It seems futile and above me the LA sun still shines as the darkness in the water grows…

Matthew Borczon

Turkey Buzzards

It had only taken two years for his wife to leave him.

She’d grown sick of the small town, the smell of shit on his boots, and the fact that Ethan was just angry all the time. He could not blame her for wanting to leave, but he also did not follow her or try to make her stay.

Somewhere along the line, Ethan had started drinking in the mornings.

No one was around, so no one ever noticed. Booze made the work easier, or so he thought, but the truth was it just made it easier for him to ignore all the farm work he’d been putting off.

It started when the first cow died. Ethan left it in the field for weeks rotting in the summer sun, and it would’ve stayed there had the neighbors not complained about the smell. As the turkey buzzards began to crowd the fields, his mother complained to him as well, finally paying some local college kids to scrape the rotting carcass off the ground.

Ethan kept drinking and ignored the world around him, fantasies of going back to Chicago and his wife drifting through the haze inside his head. He knew he’d never go, but the idea allowed him to believe he had a plan.

Five more cows would die within the next year, and each time Ethan would ignore their bodies until the neighbors brought the law out to talk to him. In the end, he would hire someone to do the work and he would continue with his drinking, and the farm continued to limp along like a horse that had just thrown a shoe.

Eventually, Ethan and his mother stopped talking altogether. She grew tired of the arguments and disappointed in the son she raised, so they took to haunting opposite sides of the house. She lost herself in mourning her dead husband and wore her sorrows like an old dressing gown.

The morning Ethan found her hung from a rafter in the hay barn, he realized that he hadn’t known his mother at all.

For the first few days, Ethan ignored the barn entirely, telling himself he needed to find the note she was sure to have left. He searched her room and the rest of the house but found nothing.

An envelope of money under her mattress distracted Ethan for a few more days, as he finally had the means to drink like he’d always wanted to. Three days later and staggering drunk, he had finally worked up the nerve to walk into the barn.

The smell and the fact that she was covered in her own excrement convinced Ethan it would be best to leave her hanging for a spell, at least until he’d hosed her down. It took about an hour, but once he’d cleaned her up, Ethan decided to go back into the house and grab some fresh clothes for her, so she’d be dressed when he cut her down and called the authorities.

The feeling of control Ethan felt as he picked out her dress and slipped on her panties was nothing short of electric. After he’d finished dressing her, he went back to the house to get his mother’s makeup kit and spent the afternoon combing her hair as well.

One week later, it was the smell which once again prompted the neighbors to summon the police.

Their visits to the farm were becoming fairly routine by this point, but no one was prepared for the sight of Ethan drunk and doing a slow waltz with his mother’s rotting corpse, still dangling from the rafters.

For the first time in years, Ethan looked like a man contented. In his mind, he was back home in Chicago, his old life finally restored. In reality, however, he’d finally lost everything but his farm and its herd of starving cattle.

The trees were filled with turkey buzzards, and only they seemed to know how this was all going to end.

Douglas Hackle

Got Me a Date With an Uptown Girl

After owning a beeper for decades and not receiving a single page on the damn thing, I concluded there must be something wrong with my beeper number. So I called my service provider to change it.

As a consequence, I also had to order a new batch of social calling cards, ones that displayed my new beeper number. I placed a bulk order online, got a pretty good deal for 5,000 cards.

After the weighty box arrived in the mail a few days later, I got into my car and spent the day driving around to place my cards all over town—to let people know I was out there in the world, that I existed, that I was a person in need of social interaction.

I left my calling cards on tables and chairs in the waiting rooms of doctors’ offices, dental practices, psychiatry practices, and law firms.

I left them on the sinks in public bathrooms—men’s and ladies’ rooms alike—in movie theatres, shopping malls, restaurants, and gas stations. On park benches, in bus stops, on the seats of subway cars.

I tacked them to utility poles underneath garage sale fliers, above notices for missing cats and dogs. I left them strewn about on the floors and shelves of discount retail stores and supermarkets.

I slipped them into the mailboxes of houses, apartments, businesses, and places of worship.

I left my calling cards all over downtown. All over midtown and uptown too. Three days it took me to get rid of them all.

Several months passed before my beeper finally went BEEP, BEEP, BEEP… I was at home in my trailer when it happened, relaxing in my recliner, playing Sega Genesis, and smoking a fat clown tear-laced primo. That my beeper had finally beeped was exciting enough, but I also noticed the number flashing on the device had an uptown area code, which was cause for even more excitement. See, in depositing my calling cards all over my city and its environs, I sought acquaintanceship, friendship, romance, meaningless sex, and anything and everything in between. But the ultimate payoff of this practice was to land a date with an uptown girl. At least that had always been the dream of thisdowntown man.

“Hello,” a young woman’s voice picked up when I called the number.

“Uh, hi. I’m Chesterwinkle Kristofferson VIII. Did you, like, just page me?”

“Yes. Hi, I’m Juliet. I found one of your calling cards in the tomato bin at the grocery store.”

“Oh. Cool. So, are you like a real uptown girl?”

“Yes, I am. I’m beautiful, blonde, rich, classy, cultured—the whole nine yards. Hey, did you just call me on your cell phone?”

“Yeah.”

“Then why didn’t you just put your cell phone number on your calling cards instead of your beeper number? I didn’t even know what a beeper was until I googled ‘beeper’ after I found your card. You’re probably like the last person on Earth who still uses one of those things.”

“I suppose I could’ve put my cell number on the cards instead.”

“And what’s with this whole calling card thing to begin with? Who even does that? It’s weird. And creepy. I mean, has anyone ever passed out social calling cards like this?”

“Uh, yeah. I mean, I think so. I think people did it back in the olden days sometimes.”

“Is it still the olden days?”

“Are you always this sarcastic?”

“Yes.”

“Hey, would you like to maybe… you know… go out on, like, a date with, uh, like, me sometime, maybe?”

“Pick me up at seven,” Juliet said before she hung up.

***

I used up most of my life savings to rent a stretch limo for the date. Unfortunately, I was only able to afford the limo and not a driver to drive it, so I was obliged to be my own chauffeur. After I picked up the wheels, I purchased a James Bond costume from the bargain bin at a Halloween store. See, I wanted to impress Juliet by wearing a tuxedo, but I didn’t even own a cheap suit, let alone a tux. I sure as shit couldn’t afford to rent one after shelling out the dough for the limo. The James Bond Halloween costume was essentially a fake tuxedo. It would have to do.

Back at my trailer, I shat, showered, shaved, and doused myself in Axe body spray. On my way out the door, I grabbed a CD I’d created earlier in the day consisting solely of the song “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel played over and over again hundreds of times.

Somewhere along the highway during the ride from downtown to uptown, with “Uptown Girl” playing at a low, comfortable volume, I realized I didn’t know where the hell I was going. Juliet had never given me her address. So I called her on my cellie.

“Hello, Chesterwinkle,” my beeper’s unmistakable, tinny, babyish voice answered on the other end.

What the fuck! I thought as my right hand fell from the steering wheel to grapple at my right hip, where my beeper should have been clipped to the elastic waistband of my fake tuxedo pants.

It wasn’t.

“Where the hell are you?” I barked.

“I’m at Juliet’s mansion. You know, uptown. I’m on a date with her. A fuck-first-eat-later kind of date, if you know what I mean. Heh-heh. Sorry, but I gotta go now.”

“Now just you hold on a minute, you little shit. That’s MY uptown girl you’re with! Tell me where you are. Gimme her goddamn address. RIGHT NOW, ASSHOLE!”

“Sorry, but I’m afraid I can’t do that, Chesterwinkle. And by the way, I quit. Go find yourself a new beeper. Better yet, maybe it’s time you catch up to the twenty-first century and stop using beepers and those ridiculous calling cards. You might want to lay off the terrible Axe body spray too.”

“Why you motherfuck—”

“Don’t be cross, boss. Or ex-boss, I should say. Hey, I’m not such a bad beeper. In fact, I felt kinda bad about this whole business, so after I slipped away from you earlier today, I decided to hook you up, mofo! Press the button to lower the privacy partition in your limo. Take a look in the back, and you’ll see just what I mean.”

Though I was bristling with rage, I pressed the button to lower the tinted sheet of glass that separated me from the passenger area. I glanced up at the rearview mirror to see a ripe corpse propped up all the way in the back.

Despite the bloating and the liquefying stage of putrefaction, I recognized the body as belonging to a former neighbor of mine from the trailer park:

Ol’ Man Jenkins, an elderly, morbidly obese man who had somehow managed to hang himself in his trailer not two weeks prior. Now this colossal stiff was in my limo, still wrapped up in his plus-size death-suit, only now he sported a wig of long, straight, shiny platinum hair, and his thin, receding lips were all gooped up with garish, blood-red lipstick, producing a grotesque clownish effect. That enormous belly of his looked like it might burst at any second under the mounting internal pressure of the corpse gases brewing within.

“Ta-da!” my beeper said. “I made you your very own uptown girl!”

“I’m gonna find you, you obsolete little shit,” I said through clenched teeth. “You hear me, you sonofabitch? And when I do, I’m gonna spike you down on the ground and stomp you into thousand bits and pieces!”

“Hey, good talk, bro, good talk. But I gotta go, yo. Juliet’s about to give me an A+ uptown blowjob!” To my chagrin, I heard Juliet giggling in the background. “Sorry you don’t appreciate the parting gift that took me so much trouble to prepare for you. So I guess this is see ya never again, dickface. Ah-hahahaha…”

My former beeper hung up on me.

I glanced back at the grisly thing in the backseat. Shuddering, I slapped the button to raise the tinted glass so I wouldn’t have to look at it anymore. Not sure what to do next, I turned up the volume of “Uptown Girl” a few notches and just kept driving, eventually getting off the exit ramp to uptown.

As I navigated the mansion-lined avenues of the uptown hills, I couldn’t help but glance in the rearview mirror at that tinted glass barrier, a pit of dread ballooning in my guts. At some point the intercom beeped, startling me.

“Taaaake meeee back to the cemeteeery,” Ol’ Man Jenkins’ croaked through the speaker. “Lower me back into my graaaaave. Then stay down there with meeeeeee. We can play  Empire Strikes Back down there. You can be Luke Skywalker, and I’ll be that tauntaun that froze to death on Hoth. You can cut open my gas-filled belly and climb inside. It will smell bad, but it’ll keep you warm and protect you from the frigid Hoth niiiiiiiiiiiiight!”

Fuck.

Shit.

But sadly enough, it appeared I didn’t have anything better to do.

“Okay, Ol’ Man Jenkins,” I said, defeated. “I guess we can go play Empire Strikes Back in your fucking grave.” I paused, sighed heavily. “Hey, you know what?”

“Whaaaaaat?” the horrifying, undead voice rasped through the intercom.

“You’re my uptown girl.”

“And youuuu, you are my downtown maaaaaaan.”

I smiled and frowned at the exact same time, blinked away boiling hot, chimpanzee-semen tears from my crispy tater tot eyes, and took a big bite out of a Rubik’s cube that I’d brought along for a snack.

“That’s what I am,” I said, grinding colorful plastic between my molars.