Matthew Licht

jh ghost 7

A Big Star, Part 4

Porn actors have parents too. Some of them lead normal lives, in houses. Another telephone operator said there were over five hundred Holmes listings in greater Orange County. Since I’d already paid for a search, I asked to be connected to the John Holmes residence on Stackpole Drive. The late adult star might’ve dropped the Jr in his screen credits. It was a shot in the dark, but it only cost the client half a buck.

A woman with a raspy voice picked up. “What do you want now?”

“Hello, Mrs Holmes?”

Her tone changed. “That’s me. Why, did I win something?”

“Sorry, Mrs Holmes. Not this time. I’d like to ask a few questions.”

“Who is this?”

“I’m a private investigator.”

“Oooh. Has there been a murder?”

She sounded as though nothing would please her more. Mrs Holmes was a bored OC housewife, the stuff on which adult loops are made. You could practically hear the ice cubes tinkle in the third gin and tonic of a late afternoon.

“The murder happened a long time ago, Mrs Holmes. That case is closed, but a man with the same name as your husband’s…”

“Ex-husband’s, you mean.”

“Oh. Anyway, one John Holmes, a suspect or an accessory to the fact, was released due to insufficient evidence. You might’ve read about it in the papers.”

“Oh yeah, I’m old enough, if that’s what you’re trying to find out. But my ex is not that John Holmes. Far from it. How many times I gotta say that? Goodbye now, jacky-boy.”

“Wait. You mean you get calls from adult entertainment enthusiasts?”

“Oh, not a whole lot. You sound different, though.” Mrs Holmes wasn’t just a bored OC divorcee housewife, she was lonely. Even her voice was lonesome.

 “You’ve seen his films?”

“Hah! Whatever it took to get my former husband in the mood, I was willing. We used to have quite a collection of dirty movies.”

A heavy glass went down on a hardwood table in the twilight.

“Look at me, spilling my drink and my former sex-life to some shamus over the goddamn telephone. I oughta have my head examined. And my name’s not Mrs Holmes anymore, it’s Gladys.”

“Listen Gladys, your former human marital aid died from drug abuse and AIDS.”

“Too bad. All those happy memories. Well, he was good at what he did. His work lives on.”

“My client thinks that John Holmes was his father. His mother said that was the case, but she’s dead too, from dope and/or disease. Holmes’ last known residence was in Orange County. Is it possible he was related to your ex-husband? Do you think he’d submit a bone-marrow sample?”

“Doubt it.”

“Do you know where John Holmes is buried?”

“How’d you find out about me, anyhow?”

“Phone operator.”

“Well maybe there’s a phone book for dead hard-ons somewhere.”

“Sorry to bother you.”

“Wait a minute. I wanna help you,” Mrs Holmes said. “Me and my ex had us a nice lawsuit. There was nothing amicable about our divorce. He claimed I was unfaithful. I should’ve been, but I really was taking mah-jongg lessons. He claimed constructive abandonment. Anyway, we both avoided taking each other’s phone calls after he moved out. In between writing checks to the goddamn lawyers.”

There’s a sound people make when they bring up their experiences with lawyers.

“Hang on a sec. I bought a doo-hickey that gives nuisance callers a permanent no-answer. I got a list of phone numbers for the police, just in case. Some of the guys who call at awkward times might have something for you.”

The receiver hit the wall-to-wall carpet.

Shots in the dark never entirely miss. Some weird particle physics guides them.

Gladys dictated phone numbers. One of them was Johnson’s.

The client only called her once, she said. He wanted to know about her husband’s family too, and was satisfied with her negative answer.

Gladys said we should watch some Swedish Erotica movies together. She had the full series.

I didn’t leave the phone booth.

The conversations with Mrs Holmes’ phone molestors weren’t nearly as friendly. The fellow fan act failed to convince. Most of them hung up without a word. One guy said, “Kiss off, pig.” He didn’t say why he thought the police might want to pester him.

An inspiration hit. Fan clubs, like AA and religious groups, have meetings.

When the next guy picked up, I said, “I heard the meeting’s on for tonight.”

Long pause. “You heard, huh?”

“You know what I’m talking about, but I got a problem: no car. Blew a gasket on the 405. Leaking oil all over the place. Overheated. Possible ring-job. In the shop till next Tuesday.”

“That’s rough, bud. Have we, uh, had the pleasure?”

“I’m up from San Diego. You’ll recognize me. Will you give me a lift to the meeting?”

“Sure, pal. No problem. I’ll pick you up at the Girl Talk Bar in Redondo. We can watch the sunset and get better acquainted.”


A Big Star, Part 1
A Big Star, Part 2
A Big Star, Part 3

Matthew Licht

jh ghost4

A Big Star, Part 3

Bonehandle confessed he directed the Johnson loop, and went misty-eyed about his late star. “You know, he wasn’t the way most people think.”

“You mean, straight?”

“That’s not what I mean, although…”

“Listen, do you have in your possession any object that bears traces of John Holmes? Genetic material, something that’ll register on a laboratory DNA scan. My client will pay.”

Bonehandle didn’t want money. What he had on John wasn’t much, he said, but it was precious, and not for sale. If I promised to behave myself, I could come over to his place for a look at his Holmes relics.

Hideseekers’ closing time was never. Bonehandle gave a West Hollywood address and said he didn’t wish to be disturbed before 3:30 in the afternoon.


Bonehandle opened his door dressed in a tooled leather kimono. Leather hats and leather hockey masks crowded a leather hat-rack in the vestibule. The black leather jackets stuffed in the wide-open closet elbowed each other out of the way in a futile attempt to escape.

An over-designed kettle blew. Bonehandle made tea. We sat in his leather living room, lit by a low-watt bulb suspended from the ceiling. He pushed a spiral notebook across his hidebound coffee table. “John wrote these,” he said.

The notebook was full of poems.

I riffled the pages, selected one at random. The title was “Stripped Away.”

Not bad. Spelling mistakes and bathos galore, but sincere. A man hacks and wrenches away the parts of himself he feels aren’t worthy of a human being. In the end, there’s not much left.

Bonehandle slurped Earl Gray through his moustache. “They’re so touching, his poems. He wrote stories too, and movie scripts, though not as successfully. He used to read at the Young Adults Community Center in El Segundo. The kids there loved him sincerely. They didn’t know he was a star.”

Exhibit B was a bigger spiral notepad filled with watercolors, ink washes and chalk pastels of female nudes in erotic poses. There were close-up studies in sunset shades. Nothing recognizable as the client’s mama.

Bonehandle couldn’t mask his distaste. “Johnnie thought female pussy was beautiful. Sometimes I couldn’t tell if he was really one of us. He had depths I couldn’t plumb, and shallownesses.”

I asked about the women who starred in the Johnson short. He claimed amnesia about the women in his straight loops. There weren’t many of them. He’d directed gay porn almost exclusively, made an exception for Holmes. “Pussy is pussy,” he said, and waved unpleasant memories away.

“How well did you know the guy?”

“Our relationship was mostly professional. I don’t think he had any friends. He used to show up unannounced every now and then. Occasionally, he’d stay over. This was before he got hung up on blow.”

Bonehandle rose from his leather club chair. His kimono flapped open like the wings of a giant bat. He crossed the room, turned on an outdated hi-fi system. He let the tubes warm up, then flicked on the reel-to-reel. Someone with a reedy baritone accompanied himself unsteadily on a steel-string guitar.


Bonehandle nodded. “He wasn’t what you could call talented, but he tried so hard.”

“Aww, poor Johnnie.”

Bonehandle shut the music down in a huff. “Are you sure you’re a private investigator? What exactly do you want, anyway?”

I showed him my license, reiterated the request for an item that would yield sample DNA and stand up as evidence in a court of law.

“Evidence of what? That murder case was settled ages ago. Johnnie was cleared.”

“Nothing to do with that old business, but I plead client confidentiality. I’ll take whatever you’ve got, but if whatever you give turns out bogus, I’ll be back to settle accounts.” I wasn’t interested in keeping Bonehandle as a friend. “I’m authorized to go as high as half a grand.”

He waved the idea away. “Can’t help you.”

“In that case, do you know where your soulful friend’s buried?”

“Why? Is it some State secret? I guess down in Orange somewhere. That’s where he used to live, anyway.”

Orange County is, as the dead man was, large.


A Big Star, Part 1
A Big Star, Part 2

Matthew Licht

jh ghost_bonehandle

A Big Star, Part 2

The job was to track down a dead adults-only performer and get a DNA sample.

Life is a lonely, mediocre business. Some LA porn-freaks must collect relics. The star’s co-workers might’ve kept mementoes. Another scan of Johnson’s loop would possibly yield credits, not that many people use their real names in porn films. 

The motel where I live features color TV sets, but no video equipment. 

Usually I work from photographs. The walls in my room are covered with pictures of runaway kids. 

The guy at the TV repair shop on Vine hung his hand-lettered “Back in 5 minutes” sign on the door for the screening. When the happy ending rolled, he punched the air like it was a football highlight.

Holmes had two female co-stars. I asked the TV repairman whether he’d seen the brunette before. Uh-uhn, but he’d sure as hell bang her if he ever saw her again. He said, “That’s too bad,” when he heard she was dead.

The credits were minimal. John Holmes played himself, and got top billing. Mr Johnson’s mother was either “Candy Lane” or “Sugar Brix”. The director signed himself Bonehandle.

There were no other names. Bonehandle was the cameraman, set decorator and lighting engineer. He worked solo, in secret, hoped the Park Rangers wouldn’t shut down the production, hold him and his stars prisoner until the cops showed up. You could almost smell the nervous sweat.


A few glass telephone booths still stood, in Hollywood. One of them had a phone directory chained to its fold-out shelf.

A patient operator said there was no listing for anyone named Bonehandle in the entire LA basin. Neither were any subscribers named van Bone, McBone, Hueso, Osso, Knochen. 

On a hunch, I drove to the La Brea Tar Pits Museum. None of the curators in short sleeve shirts and bow ties, ticket clerks, janitors were amateur nature-movie buffs. Nobody vibed hard-core auteur.

The foreign word jigged a spark. There were trace elements of art in the client’s loop, something fetishistic about its focus.


A preliminary canvass of West Hollywood turned up zero on Bonehandle. Many of the residents had heard of John Holmes, though.

Boys’ Town has many neighborhoods. A friendly leather man with a walrus moustache said Bonehandle was not only still alive, he was a regular at Hideseekers. 

Hideseekers’ doorman wouldn’t admit anyone improperly dressed. He was an imposing figure, and meant business.

Beat-up motorcycle jackets go for $20 at late-night second-hand clothes shops on Melrose Blvd. A legit client expense.

Hideseekers was like jail, with monotonous music. Leather squeaks within its stifling near-darkness were the mating-calls of bats. 

The leather barman rolled his eyeballs at my new old jacket. “Get you, Dorothy.” 

I ordered beer, slipped a twenty across the counter. I asked if any regulars went by Bonehandle, and won the leather lottery.

“Yeah, he’s here. He’s always here.”

“Point him out, please. Discreetly.”

Another eyeball-roll, with spin. Bonehandle spent his evenings out in the toilet. 

It was even more womb-like in there. No doors on the stalls. Bonehandle held court in the third cubicle from the left. He had a walrus moustache too. He said he wouldn’t talk to me unless I pissed all over his face first.


A Big Star, Part 1

Tim Frank

Mumbo Jumbo

‘This isn’t going to hurt is it?’ said Andrew, dragging on the last remnants of a spliff in a carpark on the edge of town.

‘It might hurt a bit, yeah,’ said Omar holding out a Taser, closing in on Andrew.

‘But it won’t kill me?’

‘No, no, we just want people to think you died. Briefly.’

‘But if we just want to pretend I died do we really need the Taser?’

‘We need to create the sense that you’ve been knocked out by something. Look it’s all set up, everything is in position, and I’m going to call the ambulance as soon as you hit the floor. We’ve discussed this a million times.’’

‘Wait, why are we doing this again?’ said Andrew.

‘I don’t know, why do we do anything? Money, fame, the yucks?’

‘OK, OK, let me psyche myself up…’

But before Andrew could finish his sentence Omar jabbed the Taser into his chest, digging in hard, once, twice and then a third time. The spliff came shooting out of Andrew’s mouth and he collapsed.

Omar dialled an ambulance and it arrived in minutes. The nurses scooped Andrew off the floor like he was a damp dishcloth.

‘Is he alright?’ said Omar, giving his best impression of being concerned.

‘No sir,’ said the ambulance man, sucking on a mint, ‘he’s dead.’

‘I know that, but wait, what!? Dead!’

‘I’m afraid so sir, his heart has stopped beating and we can’t seem to resuscitate him. I assume you were the last person to see him alive? Can you give us any clues as to what happened to him?’

Omar shoved the Taser deep into his pocket and said, ‘Oh god, oh god, what’s happening? It was just a silly prank.’

‘Sir, I advise you to get your story straight before you talk to the police. This doesn’t look good.’

‘The police? Oh jeez, no.’

Omar squeezed past the nurse and grabbed hold of Andrew, ‘Wake up you idiot, wake up!’

In the hospital, Omar paced around the waiting room, pouring himself paper cups of water from the cooler, crumpling them into balls and then hurling them into the bin. But it wasn’t long before Andrew was wheeled out of the emergency room, blinking furiously, his face flushed.

‘Your friend is a very lucky man,’ said an elderly doctor with a giant paunch. ‘He was clinically dead for a significant amount of time.’

‘So,’ said Omar, ‘no need for the cops?’

‘No,’ said the doctor, ‘Andrew says that won’t be necessary.’

‘Oh, thank god. Can I see him?’

‘Yes, but be aware, he’s in a fragile state.’

Omar poked his head into Andrew’s room and said, ‘Hey buddy.’

Andrew groaned then sat up and placed his pillows in a comfortable position.

‘You nearly killed me,’ Andrew said.

‘In fact, technically, I did kill you.’

Andrew made a move to strangle Omar, but he didn’t have the energy and instead flopped back onto his bed.

‘I’m sorry Andrew, I really didn’t mean for all this to happen.’

‘I saw things Omar, I floated outside my body and saw crazy things.’

‘Leave it now mate, there’s no need to continue with the plan, you’ve been through enough.’

‘The plan was to pretend I had a near death experience, but I think – I think it really happened. I actually had one.’

‘You’re not well Andrew, you’re delusional.’

There was a knock at the door. A man with a side parting, fringe dangling by his cheek, entered the room. I’m Christian Kyle, writer and journalist for Alternative Media. ‘I received a phone call yesterday that a man named Andrew Fitzpatrick had a near death experience.’

‘No,’ said Omar, ‘you’re wrong, no one here had any experience. I’m sorry to waste your time.’

‘Me, I did,’ said Andrew, ‘I died and I saw things I couldn’t have known about.’

‘Really? Fascinating,’ said Kyle pulling up a chair. ‘Tell me all about it.’

‘Well,’ said Andrew, eyes wide open. ‘I saw a bright, bright light and then I felt my being rise up and float above my body. I mean I could see my body below me and all the doctors milling around too. Then I floated out of the window. I have this image of a unicorn but it’s hazy. I can’t really place where that comes in. Next thing I know I’m back in my body and all the doctors are peering at me, confused but happy.’

‘Well Mr Fitzpatrick,’ said Kyle flicking his fringe from his cheek, ‘what you have here is a classic near-death experience. We’ll need to do further research and confirm your story with the doctors of course, but if everything goes smoothly, I’d like to write about this in my magazine. Maybe sometime you could join me at one of my symposiums and speak with others who have similar stories demonstrating life after death is a very real phenomenon.’’

‘I would love that,’ Andrew said, ‘it would give me some direction. All of a sudden, I want to be someone, straighten myself out. Maybe travel, spend more time with my family. I want to grow.’

‘Yes, experiences such as this can often lead to positive life changes. You are not alone. Well, let me write you a cheque for your time and if things progress as they should, you will get more. I have a really good feeling about this.’

Kyle shook Andrew’s hand and left the room. Omar ran his hands through his quiff in despair, ‘What the hell are you playing at?’ he said.


‘All this mumbo jumbo you’re going on about.’

‘I’ve seen the light Omar. I’m serious. If you can’t support me on this then it’s your problem.’’

‘Are you listening to yourself? Look, I’ll come back to visit you tomorrow, maybe then you’ll see some sense.’

Omar marched out of the room. Andrew relaxed back against his pillows and gazed up at the ceiling with a look of awe.

A couple of days later Andrew was discharged with a clean bill of health. He waited for Omar by an alleyway outside the hospital and lit a joint. Then he stubbed it out and threw it away, saying to himself, ‘No more, things have to be different. Come on Omar, where are you?’

Then Andrew caught a glimpse of something out of his peripheral vision. He sidled down the alleyway and found a stuffed toy animal, pink and yellow, laying on a pile of bin bags. It was a unicorn. He poked it. It was real.

‘No way,’ he said and went to find Omar. When he emerged from the alleyway Omar was still nowhere to be seen. Andrew called him but only got the answering machine so he left a message, saying, ‘I found the unicorn! I found the unicorn! You can’t say I’m crazy now. Hurry up and I’ll show you. Oh man this is major. Get back to me as soon as you can, bye.’

When Omar did arrive, he was out of breath and all apologies. ‘The underground is a state,’ he said, ‘have you been waiting long?’

‘Yes, but it doesn’t matter. Did you get my message?’


‘Well come this way, I have something to show you.’

Andrew led Omar down the side alley. A garbage truck was just exiting through the other side, beeping as it went. Andrew came to the spot where he had found the unicorn but it, and the bin bags it was resting on, were gone.

‘No, no!’ Andrew cried out. ‘It was just here.’

‘What was?’ Omar said.

‘The unicorn. The truck must have collected it, oh man. Don’t you see, this was proof I came out of my body. The emergency room must be just above our heads.’

‘I don’t know what’s happening to you Andrew. Maybe you’ve been smoking too much weed or you banged your head hard when I Tasered you but these crazy ideas have got to stop.’

Andrew perceptibly slumped and then lit up. ‘I’ve got to talk to that dude Kyle,’ he said.

The next day Andrew took a trip on the train to visit Kyle in his country home that was located by a shimmering lake surrounded by trees. As Andrew rang the doorbell wind chimes tinkled. Kyle opened the door, barefoot – incense wafting from inside the building. 

‘Welcome Andrew, I’ve been looking forward to meeting you again. We have many things to discuss.’

Kyle guided Andrew to a seat in his living room. Crystals were placed on the mantelpiece and the side table and paintings of Buddha and Ganesh were hung upon the walls.

Andrew gulped then blurted out, ‘This is wrong, I have to give you your money back.’

‘Oh,’ said Kyle, ‘why is that?’

‘I didn’t have a near death experience. It was all lies. Here, take the cheque.’

‘Andrew, it is common for there to be doubts. What is this really about?’

Andrew picked up an astrology book from the coffee table.

‘I just don’t know if this is me.’

‘God finds us in many ways.’

‘God? I didn’t know He was involved.’

‘Oh most certainly and what you have experienced is the beginning of the journey to getting closer to Him.’

‘I really don’t know about that. This is all a bit overwhelming.’

‘Would you like to try a forty minute meditation with me?’ Kyle said, flicking on some whale sounds on his stereo.

‘Uh no.’

‘What is it Andrew? Why are you resisting?’

Just then Kyle’s phone rang and he said, ‘I have to take this. Take a look around maybe something will ignite your spirit.’

Kyle disappeared out of the patio windows and padded around the garden as he talked. Andrew stood and wandered about the house. He sniffed the fresh flowers in the vases lining the hall but recoiled in disgust. Then he walked up the stairs and arrived at the bedroom. Inside was a shrine opposite the bed with beads wrapped around a picture of an Indian Saint sitting in the lotus position. Andrew pulled out his phone and dialled Omar.


‘Hey dude, sup?’

‘I’m at Kyle’s house.’’

‘Oh man, look I don’t want to hear it, OK?’

‘Omar, he’s trying to get me into God. He’s got all this spiritual stuff around. He wants me to find the real me. I can’t take it.’

‘Of course not, I know the real you and you haven’t been you lately.’

‘But I don’t know who I am anymore.’

Andrew picked up a book lying on Kyle’s bed. It was called Unbound Spirits by Christian Kyle. Andrew flung it to the floor knocking over a statue of Siva.

‘Tell me who I am Omar, who am I?’

‘I’ll tell you who you are, you’re an idiot!’

Andrew stood up straight and dropped the phone. ‘I’m an idiot,’ he said. ‘Of course.’

Andrew poked the picture of the saint. Then he punched it sending it crashing to the ground, cracking the glass. Then he tramped around the room smashing effigies of gods and tearing apart the dreamcatchers hanging over the bed. He howled with delight, clenching his fists.

‘What the hell are you doing?’ Kyle said, appearing at the door.

‘I’m an idiot!’ Andrew said, picking up his phone and barging past Kyle. He raced down the stairs in a fervour. On a table by the front door lying next to a flickering candle Andrew noticed a selection of tiny porcelain unicorns. He stopped in his tracks. He looked back at Kyle but he was busy tending to his spiritual paraphernalia.

‘I’m going to kill you!’ Kyle said.

The unicorns glistened in the candlelight with pink, yellow and blue colours. Andrew’s life flashed before his eyes – vomiting on his mother’s lap as a baby, yanking his little sister’s pigtails as a toddler, giving friends wedgies in primary school, dry humping his first girlfriend, passing out after his first drinking binge, crashing his dad’s car, and so on all the way up to being Tasered the other day in the carpark.

‘Woah,’ he said, feeling dizzy. He felt the urge to smash but instead picked up one of the unicorns and placed it carefully into his jacket pocket. ‘Well, who knows?’ he said, and he dashed out the door.

David Sprehe

Such a Shame

Herr Ratten, an old Nazi dressed in black double-breasted dress tunic, black trousers, and black leather boots, sat on a bed and suckled from his great-granddaughter Gertrude.

“Ja! Is Matilda’s breast!” he said.

Milk dribbled from his mouth. Gertrude, sitting with her legs crossed, wearing only white cotton panties, giggled and wiped his chin with her thumb. She, like her great-grandmother, enjoyed a rare condition where the breasts filled often, though without child or pregnant. Ratten had travelled far to taste again Matilda’s milk.

Ratten held Gertrude’s babyish face. He ran his knobby fingers over her smooth, shaven head.

“A perfect angel, my Gertrude,” he smiled.

“Do you like my ink, Pappy?” she said.

Over her entire body were tattoo symbols of the Neo-Nazi. A crucified Hitler nestled between her tits.

Ratten shrugged. “Eh, I can admire passion.”

Gertrude pouted.

Ratten patted her hand. “My darling, you must be subtle. Appeal to common factory man, and middleclass type. This body art is silly. Is much too much. A Nazi today must blend.”

“Like the shape shifting Jew,” Gertrude said.

Ratten stood. “Insolence! You subvert our Reich with your idiot intentions and, and picture book ideations. The Space Reich does not need you. You serve Jew purpose like on puppet strings. Earth is a decadent Jew paradise! I’ll have this planet blown to bits! Yes, by Hitler! Mars is preferred to this toilet!”

Ratten prepared teleportation transport to his orbiting Space Reich vessel.

“No!” Gertrude shouted. She knocked the device from his hands.

Ratten stared at her. “Perhaps you are correct. A purification, as planned. We’ll clone Aryan race while we wait for shrubbery to regrow.”

He jabbed Gertrude with a prick point, and obtained her blood. She swore.

Ratten chuckled. “Your environment ruined you. We’ll raise you proper in test tube.”

“I want a baby,” Gertrude said.

“Excuse me?” Ratten replied.

“Now!” Gertrude shouted. The door to her room burst open. Two shirtless, muscular skinheads, each with matching tiny swastikas tattooed over their nipples, seized Ratten.

“What is the meaning of this?” Ratten demanded.

Gertrude undid Ratten’s belt and separated his tunic. “You will fuck me, and give me a baby.”

“An horrendous idea.”

Gertrude lowered Ratten’s pants and took his cock in her mouth. Ratten swelled.

He chuckled. “Still got it, ja? Do not do this. I warn you.”

Gertrude stood and slapped him. “Shut up. Put him on the bed.”

Ratten giggled. “Have your way. I surrender!”

Gertrude crawled over her great-grandfather, moved her panties to the side, and lowered herself over his old, throbbing, 5-inch dong.

She punched Ratten in the nose. “Come.”

She hit him again. “Come you bitch. I am the mother of the Reich. My baby will be Messiah!”

Ratten laughed. His spittle was blood. He ejaculated. He looked at Gertrude.

“Goodbye, my angel.”

Gertrude’s chest thrust upward in quick jerk motion. Her head fell backward, jaw slack. She began to heave, gurgle dry sucking air as she did. Milk dripped rapidly from her boobs. Her throat swelled, cracking apart underneath her skin. A large sperm head popped from her mouth. The sperm wiggled up, flailing back and forth, and continued to grow. Gertrude’s body slumped over. The sperm found a skinhead and wrapped around him. The sperm constricted. Bones snapped. The skinhead screamed. The other skinhead attacked the sperm. The sperm tail snapped his neck with a whip crack. Ratten rose calmly, fastening his belt. The sperm slithered over and rubbed against Ratten’s crotch. Ratten petted it.

“Good boy,” he said. He gripped the sperm with both hands and brought it to his mouth. He bit the sperm’s head, and tore from it a chunk of sperm flesh which he chewed. Holding the sperm midpiece like it was the cone of a hefty cotton candy, he ate and pondered Gertrude’s cunt. She had fallen so that her upper body rested on the floor, back against the bed, and her thighs were spread just so. Ratten rubbed her cunny with the partially eaten sperm and shook his head.

He clicked his tongue. “Such a shame.”

Ben Newell

Plenty of Fish

“Can I get you a menu?”

The bartender’s question pulled Ed out of his funk. He had been sitting there drinking for a good two hours, becoming more and more despondent with each swig.

“Sure,” he said resignedly. “Might as well.”

His Saturday lunch date was late. Two hours late. No call, no text, nothing. It was official. Another no-show.

Ed peered at the menu. He craved some old-fashioned beef tacos with crunchy shells. Of course he would’ve preferred a taco of the hairy variety, but this wasn’t happening. Not today, anyway.

He placed his order.

“Another beer?” the bartender asked.

“Sure,” Ed said.

This online dating game wasn’t working worth a damn. Women were more than willing to exchange messages, but when it came time to actually meet . . .

Today marked the third time that he had been stood up. Third and last, he thought. Enough is enough. No more online dating for Ed.


Back at his apartment Ed deactivated the account and grabbed another beer from the fridge. He had bought a six-pack of tallboys on his way home from El Palacio; nothing to do today but get shit-faced and wallow in self-pity.

He grabbed his cigarettes and went out on the little balcony overlooking the pool. Eye candy galore. Women laid out on chaise lounges soaking up the afternoon sun, others swimming, laughing, talking. Good-looking women, too. Young, probably single.

Ed was young. And single.

But he had no desire to join them. He had gotten plenty of sun in Iraq. And now he was home and working a shitty job and trying to meet a woman.

One of his coworkers at the garage had recommended online dating; this guy claimed to get all kinds of action. Desperate and horny, Ed had been intrigued, so much so that he had opted for the premium membership package with all the bells and whistles. Now he felt like a total fool for wasting his money.

Ed smoked and drank and tried to enjoy the view, but it was hard. Those women down there in their bikinis were out of reach, unattainable. He might as well have been watching supermodels on TV. They didn’t want some grease monkey veteran plagued by nightmares . . .

He finished his cigarette and went back inside. It was too hot out there. Unless you were swimming. Ed regarded the dreary walls of his apt. A dip might make him feel better, help him sober up. He wasn’t supposed to be drinking at all.

Dr. Libby would’ve been disappointed.


Ed slammed the door to his apartment, threw the bolt, and rushed to the bathroom. He stood at the sink and splashed cool water on his face, hoping this would extinguish his shame and rage. His excursion to the pool couldn’t have turned out worse. The whole thing had been a bad idea from the beginning.

All that beer, the tacos, the savage sun and heat, the supple flesh, everything had made him dizzy and sick and he had managed to climb out of the pool but that’s as far as he got before it came out in a torrent. Some had actually laughed when he puked. Heartless bitches . . .

Four months ago, in the leasing office, he had all but demanded a unit with a view of the pool. Now he never wanted to see the pool again.

Unless . . .

Ed’s rifle was in the bedroom closet.

He pulled it out.

The AR-15 was loaded, ready to rock, ready to roll. He opened the sliding glass door and stepped out on the balcony. They were still down there, all of them. A few guys had shown up since his ugly departure.

He felt the reassuring pressure of the stock against his shoulder. Just like old times, he thought. Ed was back in Fallujah.

The opening round pierced a brunette’s eye, bored through her brain, and exited the back of her head in a fine pink mist.

Vivid Greene, By Jacob Ian DeCoursey

cover skeleton VG baby Large Font with grime

A young woman with a horrifying secret embarks on an erotic adventure punctuated with bloodshed…
A displaced holiday figure enacts his messianic calling in the cavernous subway below New York City…
Two brothers carry their father’s ashes across a flooded town in an apocalyptic American South devoid of rainfall…

In these stories and more, DeCoursey effortlessly transports readers from the familiar, to the uncanny, to the downright surreal! At once chilling and darkly humorous, vulgar with pronounced moments of tenderness, VIVID GREENE explores the humanity within monsters and the monstrosity within humans.




Matthew Licht

jh ghost 5

A Big Star, Part 1

A ghost made of egg shampoo flew through the air in broad daylight. Mr Johnson held an over-designed remote control ray gun. He made the opalescent UFO shuttle back and forth from nowhere to nowhere in a game of video ping-pong. When he got bored, he hit the freeze button. 

“That’s me, basically,” he said. “Or half of me. This is where I come into the picture, if the story’s true.”

He pushed another button and the load splashed down on a high cheekbone and the bridge of an upturned nose. The brunette whom those features belonged to ran her tongue over her lips and slightly crooked teeth.

“Mom,” the client said. He sounded sad.

In the final frames, a sunken face mimed, “Phew!”

“And there’s Papa.” He softly repeated, “If the story’s true.”

Mr Johnson pushed another button and the TV screen died. He went to his desk, pulled another remote-control from a drawer, zapped open the wooden blinds to reveal the Hollywood hills where the porn loop was shot. 

The client was some species of Hollywood executive. 

He looked into the distance from his office window. A woman with flowing blond hair drove a jeep slowly up the canyon. “My mother already wasn’t looking too hot the last time I saw her.”

The woman in the jeep disappeared behind a blind corner. Nothing left on the hills but the landmark sign and TV antennas. 

“I know a man,” the client went on, “whose mother claimed he was Jimi Hendrix’s love-child before she died of a drug overdose. He’s the right color, got long fingers, but he can’t play. This guy lives in a car. Parked permanently on Venice Blvd. With a crazy German lady who sells love beads on the Boardwalk.”

“Life’s hard.”

“My mother’s life was. I’m glad she ditched me with her father in Palmdale. The old guy taught me values.”

The client pulled $500 cash from his pocket, and slid a copy of the videotape across his desk.

“She said that,” he tapped the black plastic rectangle, “was the high point of her life. I want you to find out if her story’s true.”

The client winced when I lit a cigarette. “Not my kind of case, Mr Johnson,” I said. “I’m in the living missing person line. This’d be a matter for the Coroner’s Office.”

He snorted. “The moral of the story about Hendrix’s alleged son is that he might not be living in a car if he could prove paternity. He’s got nothing to go on except his mother’s say-so. The music biz, in case you don’t know, makes the film industry look soft.”

“I doubt there’s a John Holmes estate. He smoked whatever he earned up a crack pipe.”

“I’m not concerned with that sort of inheritance. Holmes didn’t contribute much to the culture, but he was a star. Understand?”

I didn’t, but said I’d do my best. We didn’t shake hands. Mr Johnson didn’t show me out. 


James Babbs

In The Mirror

I’d only been there for a few minutes working on my first beer when she came over and thrust her finger into my face.

Hey she said. I thought I told you last time you were in here not to come back again.

I grinned at her. Oh I said. I just thought that meant you couldn’t live without me.

A look of disgust swept across her face. You’re a piece of shit she said.

I laughed. Hell I told her. Tell me something I don’t know. I grabbed the back of her head and pulled her beautiful face right up next to mine. I kissed her hard on the mouth and when I let her go she slapped me across the face. Another drink for this lady I yelled at the bartender.

I touched my cheek. It felt hot. In the mirror behind the bar I saw what I looked like. I opened my mouth and stuck out my tongue. I knew I looked crazy but I didn’t care. I picked up the glass in front of me and drained the rest of my beer.

When I was finished I banged the empty glass down on the table and shouted at the bartender. Another beer, barkeep and keep them coming.

While I waited for the next beer this scrawny guy with a shaved head came up and tapped me on the shoulder. He looked like a cancer patient who was losing the fight. What’s the big idea? He said to me. Kissing my woman like that?

The waitress came by and slipped another beer in front of me. She did it so quickly I didn’t have time to thank her.

Your woman? I said to the scrawny guy with the shaved head. Really? How much did you have to pay her? I heard laughter from somewhere behind me. I raised my glass to them before bringing it to my lips and draining half the beer.

The scrawny guy with the shaved head just glared at me then he turned and walked away.

Hey buddy I said. You better strap a two by four on your ass the next time you fuck her. I yelled it loud enough so the whole bar could hear. In the mirror behind the bar I saw the woman and the scrawny guy with the shaved head having a lively discussion. She looked angry and he wasn’t very happy.

You can’t win, fucker I thought to myself. Then I laughed and drank some more beer.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw her coming at me again. When she got close I quickly turned and faced her.

I said Yeeesss? Then I laughed again. I could tell she was furious with me. Her whole body shook and I really liked the way it made her tits bounce.

Why you gotta say things like that to my man? She screamed. She balled up her fist and punched me in the arm.

Your man? I said. Is that what that was?

She punched me again and all I could do was laugh.

You know I said. You’re really beautiful when you’re angry.

She leaned her face a little closer to me. Well she said. I think you’re absolutely revolting.

Then she turned her whole body like she was doing a scene from some B-grade movie and stomped back to her seat. In the mirror behind the bar I saw the different faces and they all looked the same to me. I finished the rest of my beer and called for another one.

It was early on a Tuesday but I could already tell it was going to be a good night.

Judson Michael Agla

Walking Aberration

I set out around noon, I was feeling a little queasy but I didn’t think much of it then, ten minutes into my journey I got a filling sensation in my stomach, like a sudden gas build up came out of nowhere and began to expand. I continued on but the pain was increasing and it felt like I had a fucking boulder in my intestines, I had no clue what was going on inside me but it sure as hell wanted its way out one way or the other.

I turned back home and staggered down the sidewalk clutching the walls and fences, screaming bloody murder. People tried to help but the pain was so debilitating that I could only speak by howling at the top of my lungs; the people from the buildings came out on their balconies to check out the scene, families passing by stayed to see the show, the best show in town, a madman screaming in the street holding his ass for dear life.

I was half way across the street blocking traffic when the police and ambulance showed up to hear my deafening torturous wails, I could see that the crowd had formed a circle around me, keeping a good distance as if they were suspecting a bomb to go off out of my ass and blow a hole in the street, which wasn’t too far from what actually did happen.

I couldn’t take any more; and this thing, this gigantic enigmatic thing, was without question coming out now, with the grace and determination of a newly anointed Queen raging on PCP. I yanked down my pants and assumed the fetal position, I screamed louder than I ever have and pushed through that sphincter as fearsome as a kraken, I felt like my whole asshole was coming apart, I thought it was the end for my ass and I forever, so I prayed to the only god I knew might be listening; I chose the “BOSS” for some abstract reason.

Ah! The serenity that followed that torture was sublime but my relief quickly faded as reality moved in. What I just blasted out of my ass was a fucking donkey, a painted donkey, paintings of hippie shit like; flowers, peace signs, love the world, shit like that.

I stood up, pulled up my pants and joined the crowd, now focused on the donkey; it just stood there and didn’t seem at all distressed about the clusterfuck that just took place, however, he didn’t just shit out a medium sized horse like creature like I had. I pushed through the crowd and walked up to the donkey, I can’t explain where the urge came from but I had a certain need to pet the thing, almost like we were connected in some fucked up wrath of god cosmic slapping sort of way.

As the crowd eventually dispersed the cops and paramedics came over with expressions on their faces that would scare the hell out of small little children. None of them said a goddamb word; they just stood and stared like deer’s caught in the headlights. I was exhausted and thoroughly embarrassed, and really didn’t feel like trying to explain what happened, due to the fact that I hadn’t a clue about what just happened, I felt as though what I went through was quite personal as well. So, I took the fucking donkey and I went home. All the people remaining watched as I left the scene knowing in their hearts that they would probably never see something as fucking weird as what went down that day.