Paul Smith

The Scream

“Just remember to scream,” I reminded her. “Scream his name as loud as you can.” I looked at her to make sure she understood. I wasn’t certain. Her name was Kristina. Kristina with a “K”. She was from somewhere far away – Kiev, Tbilisi, some dumb place in the Caucasus, The Dardanelles, the Silk Road. You get the picture. 

Kristina gave me this blank look. I asked her to repeat what I just told her. We had a reputation to defend, and business was down.

“OK,” she said. “I take the call, I do the, um. . .”

“Front talk,” I helped her.

“Right,” she held up a finger. “Front talk. Then I ask him what he likes, and then I do it.”

“Do what?”

She blushed. “Do I actually have to say it – that word? And where’s Jocasta? I thought she was going to do the camera.”

Jocasta had a problem. “I’m doing the camera. You’ll be fine. And what is it you’re doing for what’s-his-name?”

I stared at her, regretting ever hiring her, especially after the casting fiasco.

She half-turned away. “I’m jilling.”

“Jilling,” I said. “That’s a nice word. OK, you get the picture.” She was a newbie, like an apprentice. Maybe she would always be that.

So we waited for a call-in. There hadn’t been many lately. Too many guys were getting laid on their own and didn’t need our ‘service,’ which I thought was a stroke of genius. Who wouldn’t like to hear the girl scream their name over the phone as they’re both coming during phone sex? Of course they would! What am I, some kind of moron? Some kind of idiot like this Kristina chick from Timbuktu? All she had to do was scream his name when she got her jollies. How hard is that?

The phone rang. A tentative voice spoke up. I could picture him – real loser. He was perfect.

“Hello,” he said.

“Hi,” Kristina said. So far, so good. “Feeling horny?”

“Boy, am I ever.” I could imagine.

“I’m Kristina. What’s your name?”

“Ed.” From behind the camera I waved to her, giving her a sign to make him repeat it. I also had to tape the close, so I wanted to make sure his name was right. Ed. I smirked. Ed. E – D. Erectile Dysfunction. What else could it stand for? No wonder he called us. A real live chick would make him go soft. “Ed,” he repeated. “You know, I’m Greek.” 

 “Well, Ed, from Greece or Thebes or wherever, you came to the right place. We’re going to treat you right. You have a girlfriend?”

“Not right now, but I had one.”

“What was her name, if I might ask?”


“Fionnuala? Oh, I get it. Kind of like fellatio. What a pretty name.” As if she’d know, I smirked.

“It’s a Celtic name that means white shoulders.”

What a buzz kill. I liked where she was going with fellatio.

“You really get around, Ed! You’re from Corinth and your girl is from County Mayo. Well, Ed, give me your credit card number and let’s get started.” He gave it to her and I checked it out. Wherever island or archipelago he was from, he had good credit. Now it was up to her. I put the camera right on her vagina, just the way Jocasta used to when she still worked here. “Can you see me OK?” she asked.

“Well, just your, uh, vagina. Can I see your face, too?”

I backed off. I guess I was getting a little anxious.

“That’s better,” I heard him say.

“I’m taking off my panties now, Ed. Would you like to smell them? Oh, you can’t. How about buying them? Just put it in your American Express card.”

“No. I have a pair of Fionnuala’s right here. I never washed them. I even bought some Irish Spring. ”

“How nice. Now I’m starting to play with myself. Oh, Ed, that feels so good.”

“Yeah,” I heard him say. He was starting to breathe heavily. Then another call came in. Shit! Whenever when we got really busy, Jocasta would help out. I wasn’t much use. Jocasta pulled double duty. She was up for just about anything.

“Hurry up!” I told Kristina. “We’ve got another customer.”

“What was that?” asked Ed. “It sounded like a man. I thought you were alone in your bedroom. That’s what the website said.”

“It was the television, that’s all. Are you enjoying yourself?”

“I’m getting close. And you?” I gave her the sign to just go ahead and fake it, something we usually frown on, but we’ve never had two customers at one time before. When fate intervenes like this, you just have to improvise. Ed was getting close. Kristina wasn’t, and she didn’t even seem interested. If Jocasta were here behind the camera, Kristina would have felt comfortable jilling and everything would be hunky-dory.

But no Jocasta.

Then fate intervened. There was a knock on the door.

It was Jocasta.

“Hey, asshole,” she started. “That last check bounced.”

“What have you got on the television? Porn?” Ed asked. “I thought you were into me, and you’re there playing with yourself watching anal sex?” He sounded forlorn and desperate.

As soon as Jocasta saw Kristina, her eyes softened. “Give me that,” she said, swiping the camera from my hands. She put her index finger to her mouth in the universal sign that meant ‘Sshhhh’ and Kristina now really started going at it, fiddling with her clit, and then inserting two fingers  till she was on the doorstep of ecstasy. 

“Oh,” went Ed.

“Oh, oh,” went Kristina.

“Oh, Fionnuala!” went Ed.

‘Oh, what?” went Kristina. I waved at her. My lips mouthed “E – D.”

Then she came. “Oh, Jumpin Jehoshaphat!!” she screamed.

There was a blood-curdling scream at Ed’s end of the Zoom connection. I guess he came, too. Then there was dead silence, followed by, “How did you know my middle name?”

“Jehoshaphat?” Kristina said.

“Jehoshaphat?” said Jocasta.

Jocasta shushed her and made the universal gesture with the index finger slashing across her neck. It meant either to shut up or I’m going to cut your throat. In this case, she was shushing Kristina and staring at me, which meant she wanted Kristina to be quiet and she wanted to slit my throat. I was broke and a little sorry her check bounced.

“Ed Jehoshaphat Shufflebottom.”

“Shufflebottom? Where are you from?”


“Georgia? Me, too.”

‘Tbilisi,’ I thought.

“Macon,” she said.

“Ed Jehoshaphat Wolfinger?” asked Jocasta.

“Shufflebottom,” said Ed, his voice trembling. “I changed it. Wolfinger was too weird. No one would go out with me. Just Fionnuala.”

“That was your name when you were born. You should have been proud of it – Woolfinger.”



“Mom, I’m so ashamed!”

Jocasta glared at me. “Look what you’ve done to my son with your porn.” As if she was a saint.

“You two actually know each other?” said Kristina.

“Baby,” Jocasta said to our customer, “I never approved of that Irish girl with the weird name. Who wants to go out with a mick or a weirdo? But, look, I found this wonderful girl from Georgia,” she put her arm around Kristina and gave her a hug, “A girl who can make you happy faking it or not faking it.”

This was more than I could take.  “Business has been rotten and you’re masking it worse,” I scoffed. At least I had this moron’s credit card number.

The phone was still ringing from that second customer. He must have been really desperate. I picked up the call. Things could not get worse.

“Hello,” said an authoritative voice.


“Is this Lecherous Loads Incorporated?”

I concurred.

“Sir, this is the Department of Frivolity and Fragrances, a division of the Federal Bureau of Information. We have it on good authority that you are operating a business/enterprise/racket wherein girls of no means of visible support are faking orgasms over the phone, in violation of Federal Statute 13.69. There will be a knock on your door. Answer it.” 

I could feel things getting worse.

“We’re leaving,” said Jocasta. “Don’t worry, son. Momma’s coming home and she has a little treat for you.” Then the Zoom connection went down as they started to head for Georgia.

Then there was a knock on my door.

There were two of them – a dumb one and a smart one. “Are you the perpetrator of the igneous, no, the ignominious deeds disrobed, no, described over the phone you are holding in your hand?” That was the dumb one. The smart one already knew.

I dropped the phone.

“What phone?”

“Should we cuff them?” Again it was the dumb one. The smart one stayed mum.

Then Jocasta gave them the universal sign of a Milwaukee Reciprocating Sawzall slicing through a cord of Mountain Mahogany, her index finger protruding from a fist she held waist high, going in and out. It was also the universal sign for ‘yes, that’s the sole proprietor. Cuff him’. Her sawzall was pointed at me.

“Him?” the dumb one said.

“I faked dozens of orgasms, shot the film, cleaned up after you-know-what, the works.” Her reciprocating finger still went in-out, in-out pointing at me.

The smart one said nothing. He just nodded assent, his head going up and down like the piston of a Wacker Diaphragm Pump pumping toxic solids from a landfill to somebody’s basement. And that basement was mine.  It was the universal sign of someone smart enough to let dumb people ask all sorts of questions while he kept his tongue till the very end instead of making a fool of himself.

Next thing I knew they handcuffed me. Jocasta smirked. She liked stuff like this. Then she and Kristina with a K were gone.

This was not how it was supposed to go. I was supposed to make a fortune with my novel idea of having the girl on one end of the phone connection scream the John’s name as she faked an orgasm. Which she did not do. She did not even give me the traditional blow job when I auditioned her for working in my studio. I could not pay Jocasta for her job of mentoring these young stars, wherever they came from – Georgia, Macedonia or Georgia. Fate had intervened. Fate! Fate as in Gotterdammerung, like Star Wars, like some Greek tragedy. So I did something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time.

I screamed.

Stuart Stromin

The Hat

Samira forgot the hat the first time, so he had to go back to see her again.  Except for the absence of the hat, it had been fine the first time. She had done everything the way she always did it, with the murmur of her crisp accent, and the glare of her blue eyes.  It still felt like there was something missing somehow, and, when Leon left her little room and went down the steep, twisted staircase, and into the brisk air of the street, and the glow of the red lights against the gloom of the night, he realized what it was.  She had forgotten to wear the hat.

It was not the same without the hat.

She called it a hat, because her English was limited, but it was really a cap.  It was made of black rubber, kept to a dull shine, with a wide latex peak and a sharp crown molded to a soft point at the crest.  There was a white latex band that ran around it in a thin stripe.  It fit snugly on her head, making her seem even taller, over six-foot in spiky heels, with her golden hair streaming, and her gimlet blue eyes gazing from beneath the peak.

Leon had bought her the hat on a business trip one year.  He had not been looking for a hat, but he was looking for a gift.  When he saw the hat, Leon knew immediately that it was what he wanted for her. She loved the hat, when she received it, although she loved anything if it was a present.  There was no such thing as a disappointing gift.  Leon never arrived empty-handed. He brought her designer jeans, perfume, inexpensive jewelry, t-shirts from his travels, and once, for her young son, a toy train.  

From the first time that Samira wore the hat for him, it became part of her costume.  It matched her long latex boots, and her long black gloves, and her golden locks brushing her shoulders.  It went with the exposed girders, splintery rafters and hanging chains and the smell of wax in the dim light of the room.  They heard the raucous noise of the passers-by, drunken singing outside, and accordion music from a nearby bar.  He sometimes gulped down a stiff shot of vodka there, before he knocked on her door.  He did not want to feel like himself, he wanted to hide behind intoxication when they played out their ritual.

They had to do everything again from the beginning – with the hat this time – when he went back the next night.

She had a short crop, and she strutted up and down upon the mat, stopping with her face nose-to-nose right in his face, and her riding crop teasing across his unclothed body.  He felt the heat rising from her, and there was a sweet, musk scent when she was close to him.

She exuded a commanding presence.  She barked orders and made him march naked from wall to wall with one hand swinging at his side, and the other hand clutching his genitals.

“I am the Kommandant,” she insisted, tucking the crop under her arm,  “Left, right! Left, right! Left, right!”

“Yes, Kommandant!”

“I decide what is good, and what is not good,” she said ominously.

“Good, good, good,” he pleaded, “I am good.”

“If you are not good, you know what will happen to you,” she warned.

His eyes filled up with terror, and she smiled wickedly.

He always felt such a cathartic sense of relief when it was all over, as if she had done him an enormous favor by filling a desperate need.

She took the hat off, indicating that they were finished, and she could not wait to get out of the boots and back into her walking shoes and her street clothes.  He got dressed one button at a time with his back to her, so that they did not have to look at one another.

Afterwards, they sometimes went for dinner together in Chinatown.  There was a place where the ducks were hanging in the window on S-shaped hooks, and they shared a lemony dish with hot oysters on the half-shell.  They drank sweet beer served in chilled tankards.  She spoke to the waiter in a guttural language that he could not understand. From the restaurant, they could see the barges floating down the canals and the colored lights from the district reflecting on the ripples of the water.  They heard the peal of the bells chiming the hour from the Old Church, as it grew later, but they lingered over the meal.  Neither of them had anywhere in particular to go, and the kitchen stayed open until midnight.

The square tables were close together, and the people beside them could overhear their conversation, but they kept everything innocent.  They had known each other for many years, and, like old friends, they talked and joked about everything under the moon, except the taboo of what had just occurred between them in her room.  Now, after the fact, when it had worn off for both of them, what they had done seemed traumatic and depraved.  It felt like they had committed a crime. They had a familiar aftertaste that lingered from the time they did it before until the time that they would do it again. They were not ashamed, but there was a grubby feeling that stained them on the inside. She never wanted to speak about it; for her, it was work, and the dinner was personal.

There was only one other subject that they never talked about, and that was what had happened to his family.  It was a long time ago, and besides, that was in another country.

Chase Dayton

General God Gets an Extreme Makeover

He puts his night vision goggles to his eyes and scours the wilderness. His team has organized a panty raid at 1100h. Operation Muff Dive. He chomps on his cigar and blows rings over the target. Locked On. 

A convent of naughty nuns, 13 clicks to the west, their perimeters unsecured. Sitting fucks. He knows from past experience that nuns never shave their ambushes. He grits his teeth. Deep furrows traverse his war head. He knows from Major Chad’s intel that it is Game Night at the Convent. They’d be expecting a pizza man and that’s just what they’d give ‘em. 6 covert pizza men, 6 extra-large sausages. 

He puts the goggles down. 

Then puts them back up and then back down. Back up. 

Again, he puts his night vision goggles down slowly and then up slowly and down again. Slowly. Mistakes get your ass killed out here on the Border.

His epaulets shine, his three-pointed hat is goddamn magnificent in the moonlight, a capstone on the pinnacle of manhood. He blows smoke rings around the full moon.

He puts the goggles back up to his battle-tested smoke-shrouded face. Of a sudden, standing at unease before him, a helpless civilian glowing night vision goblin green, hands behind her back, chest thrust forward. She’s crying hard. He puts down the goggles and whips out his huge gun and shoves it between her sob-shaking cannons. This is private property and she’s wearing no badge. Grounds for immediate termination. He had sworn to protect the Borders. And he’d be goddamned in the ass if he would see his oath broken on his watch. 

“Identify yourself or I’ll shoot your tits to Kingdom Come.” 

“Oh, please don’t! I don’t have a name. My parents were too poor to name me. I’ve been sent here as a POW from the Cosmetology School. It’s been ravaged and pillaged and I’ve been told to come here and look for a General and to do whatever he orders me to do! I don’t know anything else I swear! I learned young not to ask no questions.” Cosmetology school, eh? He puts the gun away. Her bazookas are slicked with tears. 

“Well, it looks like your luck keeps getting worser.”

“Why? Oh no!”

“That’s why, ‘sir’.”

“Why ‘sir’?”

“Why sir what?”

“Why sir is my luck getting worse, sir?”

“Worser because I’m General McGuffin. And I’m no luck at all.” 

“Sir thank God, sir!”

“Don’t be thanking God, prison girl. You thank me. I am your God from here on. I’m bigger than God. God cannot save you, but I can kill you. No one fears God but men would rather swallow razors covered in monkey shit than disobey my commandments. God cannot give you wealth but I am strong enough to take whatever I want.”

“Oh, sir thank you General God, sir!” She drops to her knees and hugs his Betty Davis thighs. “How can I begin serving you sir? Anything, you name it.”

“You said you were sent from the Cosmetology School?”

“Mmm hmm. Sure was.”

“So you’ve been briefed on style parameters for a range of various beautification strategies, trained in techniques of personal surface modification, and entrusted with classified vertically integrated esthetic restructuring projects?”

“Oh definitely, sir. Yep.”

“You don’t say.” He fingers his chin’s cleft and swallows hard, a sparkle in his eye.

“I say whatever you want me to say, sir.”

“You uhh, you stay here. I’ll be right back. You move and I’ll … uh … I’ll blow your tits off back to the Stone Age!” Giddy!

“Sir yes sir!” She salutes him and he walks off excitedly, holding his fists, barely containing himself, beginning to run, slowing, stopping, straightening his lapels, giggling then coughing, repeating, until he is out of sight.

General God returns with a rolling showgirl vanity set, designed specifically for the conditions of the Field. It spells ‘Z-o-l-o-n-a’ in LED lights in a rainbow arc above the mirror, before which he sits wide-eyed, prison girl standing behind, holding his head, cocking her own at an angle of concentration. “How about this …You have such great structure … Or we could do something like this … This is really hot now … With your tones I suggest …” 

A full makeover project is conceived and executed with precision and commendable valor. General God does not flinch, his nerves steeled by war, not even when a slip of the eyeliner pencil jabs him in the pupil. “Just a little co-llateralll damaaaage,” he sings.

Prison girl puts on the finishing touches and spins him around to see the finished product of their allied expertise. He slowly raises the goggles to his eyes and looks at himself. He pauses … then lets out a long-restrained squeal, a wind tunnel smile blasted on his face. He throws the goggles away and throws his arms over the nameless cosmetologist, his hero!

“You’re a magician! Oh! It’s me it’s me, it’s really me! Hi Zolona! Missed you, you fierce bitch!” Zolona is a strikinglybeautiful Glamazon warrior princess with metallic russet hair to the shoulders, severe bangs, long lashes curling up to eyebrows drawn like violin F-holes, powder blue lids lined cat-like in heavy pink; her cheeks are the rosiest dawns, her lips like yellow rubber love. “I love it!” 

“Now, the finishing touch.” Her tricorn! She gasps, meaty hands to her chest. 

She’s very excited and dancing around as if she’s just been given a medal of honor and a long Edda-ish chapter in history. But then … then she slumps back in her chair, folds her arms and pouts as if she had woken up on the wrong side of history. Poor Zolona! She tosses her hat and mumbles.

“What’s wrong, sir?”

“I still have nothing to wear-uh.”

“Hmmm … Oh I know! How bout you can wear my dress?”

“I couldn’t!” he blushes. “I would just die for that dress!”

“Sure you could, sir.”

“But then you’d have nothing to wear! Oh it’s no use.” Zolona, sad Zolona — she sulks.

“How about you take my dress and I wear your uniform and take your gun?”

“You’d really do that for me?”

“Of course I would, sir!”

“That would be absolutely fabulous!”

They swap. 

She admires himself for a while but then gets sad again, as if her personal guiding Star had turned out to only be swamp gas. She pouts.

“Now what’s wrong, sir? You look stunning! Any guy would kill you for a chance to be with you!”

“I know. It’s just … I don’t feel that way. Never mind. You wouldn’t get it. It’s a girl thing.” 

“You stop it this second! My duty as a cosmetologist is to make you feel however you want! We take vows and everything.”

“You’d really make me feel like I want to? You’d do that for me? I never get to feel like I want to.”

“You betcha, sir!”

“No more sir. I call you sir now.”


“And you’re not prison girl anymore. You’re the General. I’m your prison girl. Me. Zolona.”

“Call me General Hecate.”

“I committed heinous fashion crimes during the culture wars, General Hecate. I should be punished, sir.” 

“You’re right. We know all about you prison girl.” The General unholsters his service pistol and puts it to Zolona’s chest.

“You’re gonna be real mean to me aren’t you, sir?”

“You can count on 3 things, prison girl. Death, taxes, and General Hecate showing you zero goddamn mercy.”

“I want to pay my debts to society, sir. I want to be rehabilitated and become a productive citizen.”

“Then stop talking and take off those panties. And if I see you even think about sniffing your own drawers, I’ll shoot your little balls right off.” The General flicks Zolona’s bean bag and watches it shrivel like some bashful reef critter. 

Zolona takes off her g string — pauses to look at the General, he pointing the gun at her legumes, shaking his head — and at the threat of genital disfigurement, miraculously resists the urge to savor her musk. 

“Now get back on that stool and get your legs up, girl. Put ‘em on my shoulders.” Zolona’s pumps dangle over the General’s shoulders. From his bandolier he removes a large shell. “This here’s your medicine. Free birth control, courtesy Uncle Samael. 1500 mg of Salt Peter plus a little something extra. Call it a standard issue surprise. Open wide, maggot, and say ‘ahhhh.’ Feels like rehabilitation, don’t it?” The ballistic suppository is loaded into the chamber. “If that falls out, I put it in your head …” 

Before the General could finish his threat, Zolona starts to gurgle and convulse, going off like a coffee maker, her pumps hitting the ground behind the General’s boots. The tremors continue until Zolona’s cheeks bulge. Then she calms herself and looks coyly at the General before smoothly, with dainty and expert charm, removing the bullet from her yellow rubber love lips with a satisfied smack. She gives a fey little belch.

“Tada, sir!” she says with a self-satisfied head tremor. (Contrary to the impassive look on his face, General Hecate is highly amused. What an impressive asshole! He’d let her have her fun. She’d get her dishonorable discharge from planet Earth soon enough.) She claps her hands like an imbecile. “Oh I’m just kidding,sir! Life’s just too goddamned short not to get all you can from your fudge round, even in prison. Can I get an Amen? Here, I’ll rehabilitate myself again.” With improbable dexterity she reloads the bullet back in, sideways

The General tries not to laugh. Zolona’s imagination is Hecate’s playground. Anything Zolona desired could and would be used against Zolona. Hecate couldn’t wait to get to Major Chad. But first she’d have to get weirder, totally twisted, entwining with his fate until the thread snapped. 

So the General unzips his pants and puts the pistol through the opening and then up to Zolona’s face. “Suck it and hum reveille, prison girl.” 

“Yay!” Zolona expertly fellates her own pistol and hits every note. Then she does it bebop style, really swingin’ with it. Then she does it backwards in a virtuoso display. A mound of red dress rises as he sucks, hums, and the General reaches down and squeezes, threatening to turn that mound into a moan if’n it dare rise again. “We don’t suffer no showoffs around here, girl.” Zolona drools and makes a gaggle of noise, eyes crossing. The General removes the pistol. Prison girl has a request. 

“Sir requesting you to spit on me please, sir. My fashion crimes were of such a nature that I feel further abasement is needed if I am to return to civilian life and move to the suburbs.” 

“Request granted, maggot.” The General fires away and turns Zolona’s face into a mess hall. She lets his spit ooze from her forehead down her nose into her mouth, chilled and thick from the night breeze. She swallows. “Oh thank you for the good grub, sir. I better be careful or I’m going to leave prison fat as a moocow!” Goodness gracious, this was getting to be too much, too much! These dominator types truly were diseased characters! Hecate almost felt bad for them, realizing they must’ve experienced something horrible in their pasts. Oh well. This was euthanasia in that case. She was an emissary of the collective consciousness come to take out the trash.

“How about dinner and a movie? My treat. Then we’ll get back to the rehabilitation, I promise.”

“Thank you, sir! I love movies. Really helps pass the time in these POW camps.”

“You’re gonna love this one.” The General snaps his fingers and cues the action music. 

Explosions in the distance. Bullets careening. Helicopters chop the air. Chickens, pigs, dogs running around. Acrid fumes rolling in. The General hits the deck, covers his face in mud, and takes a bullet from the bandolier. Zolona is tied to her stool screaming for someone to “Please! Oh please!” save her, a distressed damsel.

The General crawls low through the muck, all hell breaking loose, to an army radio jeep. They wouldn’t call in those pizzas, not today, not on his watch. He removes the field knife from his boot and cuts the crotch out of his camo pants: into the jeep’s gas tank he stuffs the cutout crotch of his pants. He pulls a pink and gold zippo from a cargo pocket and lights his cigar. Then he lights the rag with the cigar and walks away in slow motion, puffing his stogie, as the jeep blows to smithereens behind him. He then executes a series of gymnastic maneuvers that terminate at the base of a tree which he shinnies up, blowing gardens of smoke as he ascends. He grabs one of the trees thick vines and jumps. His target is locked.

He swings from the tree like Tarzana, legs spread like a mud-faced Michelle Jordan, approaching the stool-bound damsel with extreme velocity … Target Zolona: Engaged. His exposed crotch collides with Zolona’s face at full speed, lifting her out of her stool and carrying her with the momentum, her whole face squid-gripped and invaginated by his loins. At the apogee of the swing he lets go of the vine and they fly together like face-groin conjoined angels, both with arms and legs spread, and like this they return to the earth, she on her back, he on top.

They are still for a moment after landing. The music has stopped.

The General can’t feel her breathe into him anymore. Time to disengage. Pressure released. [That noise. Like an airlock on a spaceship.] His ears pop. Now he stands over her. Zolona’s face is gone. He must have removed it by accident during this last stunt. Oops! Teeeheee. Collateral damage. At least they got the shot. 

Zolona struggles for air, all the muscles and viscera of his face visible, alive, moving, eyes bulging.

“I think I’m ready for my close up now, sir.”

“Gimme back my dress you nasty little prisoner. You got it dirty.”  The General strips him and makes him do pushups. His eyes fall out. Last thing they see is a descending boot. When he takes the pumps she wails, trying to cry but no longer able, just blood spurting. 

“I just wanted to be pretty, sir.”

“You are, Zolona. Now drop dead, gorgeous.”

“Don’t let me die alone. Will you be my mommy?”

Hecate holds him and lets him suckle on the pistol. It’s time to end this movie, this gonzo nightmare. She takes away his pistol and gives him one of her bazookas. She smothers him with her tits. He dies with a smile on his no-face, his wig still on, crooked. Very tender goddamn moment. 

Hecate whistles and the coyotes come take care of the body. Fade to black. 4 stars. Two thumbs up. 

Now time to find Major Chad.

Simon Christiansen

The Chicken Sexer

My job is to sex the chicken.

Piles of hay everywhere. A soft layer of sawdust covers the floor of the barn; movement feels like walking through coarse sand. Sunshine penetrates through slits in the planks, causing dust motes to glow in the air like fireflies.

The farmer stands by the entrance gate. He is wearing overalls, a short-sleeved shirt, and a straw hat. He looks at me expectantly, waiting for me to do my job.

An old wooden table rests in the center of the barn, swept clear of straws and dirt. A loose ray of sunlight shines through a crack in the ceiling, hitting the center of the table like a spotlight on a stage. In the center of the table, a baby chicken hides behind its wings, shivering.

My job is to sex the chicken.

I adjust my tie and step forward.

“Waitaminute, Mister,” says the farmer from behind me. “I reckon I should see your credentials first.”

I reach into my pocket and produce the folded diploma from the Zen-Nippon Chick Sexing School. The farmer unfolds the diploma and reads it approvingly, nodding once as he refolds it and hands it back.

“Sorry, to doubt you, Mr. Jorgensen,” he says. “It’s usually a jap, you see.”

“Westerners are entering the chick sexing trade,” I explain. “I am the first to graduate from Zen-Nippon.”

The farmer steps back. “Get on with it then. Show me whatya got.”

I reach out and stroke the chicken gently with a single finger. They feel warm to the touch.

“There, there, little chick,” I croon. “I won’t hurt you.” They need to be calm. The chicken peeks out from behind their wings, looking up at me with round, innocent eyes.

I pick them up from the table with my expertly trimmed fingernails, turn them around, and gently squeeze their body, causing them to evacuate their intestines. The contents drop onto the table below.

I turn the chicken’s behind toward the sun and peer inside the cloaca. In simple cases, the passage contains a perceptible bead, the shape of which determines the sex of the chicken. This is not one of those cases. I could not tell you how I know he is male.

If I could, I would not have a job.

The farmer slides through the hay toward me. “So?” he says.

I hesitate, knowing what will happen. “It’s male.”

The farmer grabs him from my hand. “I knew it! I recognized the swagger of a cockerel. Ya, won’t be giving me any eggs, will ya?”

He throws the chicken like a baseball. The chicken ascends, tumbling through the air, glowing as he glides through rays of sunlight until he reaches the chicken grinder in the corner.


No more chicken.

The farmer throws the gate wide open, and the sunlight bursts into the barn. “Follow me, Mister,” he says. “Thousands more where that came from!”

At the end of the day, nearly half of those will be dead.

I return home after the massacre. There are no visible stains on my suit, but I feel dirty. I shower for a long time.

That night I dream of chickens.


The audience chants: “SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX!”. In Japanese, though, not English.

I am back at the Zen-Nippon Chick Sexing School, during my training, sexing chicks in the auditorium.

A yellow avalanche of chickens arrives on a whirring mechanical conveyor belt. I sex them like mad, struggling to keep up, sweating from my forehead. Females go down the chute, cockerels into the grinder.


The world around me fades away; I am in the zone; in a state of flow; whatever you want to call it; tearing through chicks like a cheetah in a chicken coop. There is only the sexing.

I am sexing five hundred chicks per hour, easy.

I sneak a peek at my closest competitor: Matsuo is busy sexing his wave of chickens. One glance is enough to tell me that there is no hope. He is like a sexing machine, his hands a blur. He must be sexing at seven hundred CPH at least.

Still, I win a respectable third place, not bad for a westerner. Professor Takada hands me the bronze cloaca and smiles. The crowd floods into the competition area, and as they approach, they morph into giant chickens, each more yellow than the last. Cloacas surround me everywhere.

I awaken in a cold sweat; the first rays of the morning sun peek in through the window.


Rays of sunlight shine through the cracks in the rickety barn. Why do we always start in a barn?

The test chicken is on the table, already calm. I flip them between my fingers and study the cloaca. I sigh with relief; this one is female.

The farmer smiles broadly when I tell him the good news. “An auspicious start to the day, do you not agree? The egg harvest will be bountiful this year.” He pats the grinder. “Guess we won’t be needing you today, Bertha.”

I hand him the chicken, and she curls up in his hand.

The farmer continues: “Let’s get through the rest, shall we?”

Oh, right. For a moment there, I nearly forgot.


On Friday, I go to Rusty’s bar with half a dozen other local sexers. Matsuo is there too. He is still the best, but I am getting closer.

“Do you think we are doing the right thing?” I ask after I have had a few too many drinks.

Matsuo looks at me through his stylish rimless glasses. “What?”

“The sexing, I mean. Why do we do it so early? Those poor cockerels never get to live…”

He sips his beer, cocks his head, and looks at me like I am an especially tricky cloaca.

“We save the farmers money, man. They would kill those birds later.”

“But then they would have a life, at least. Get to make their own decisions.”

“What decisions, Tom? They’re chickens. They live on a farm, and then they die. They do not have ‘lives’.”

He pats me on the back. “I think you’ve had a few too many gin-and-tonics. Let’s get you back home. Wouldn’t want the chick sexing inspectors hearing you disparaging the profession.”


Another day, another barn. The chick awaits on the table. The farmer guards the door.

I pick up the chick between my fingernails, evacuate their intestines, and peer deeply. Seconds pass. I blink a few times; the farmer coughs.

I hear the voice of Professor Takada in the back of my head: “A trained sexer can sex chickens with more than ninety-nine percent accuracy. However, no one ever gets to a hundred. You should not feel bad about being unable to perform with a single chick.”

I continue inspecting the cloaca, narrowing my eyes, looking for any kind of pattern to trigger my instincts. No matter how hard I look, I see no signs of binary sex, only the inside of a chicken.

“When an unsexable chicken is encountered, the solution is obvious.” Professor Takada’s voice in my head. “Simply sex the chicken as male and discard it. The farmer will never know.” 

“Well?” says the farmer. “I thought it only took a split-second for you guys. What is it?”

I hesitate. “I… don’t know?”

“You don’t know? What the fuck am I paying you for then?”

I turn and look her straight in the eyes. Her hair is tied in a burn and she chews a piece of tobacco. “On rare occasions, we find a chicken that cannot be sexed. Such chickens are sent to Zen-Nippon for study. We will pay you for the chicken, of course, and I assure you that this will not affect my ability to sex your other chickens.”

The farmer snorts and spits tobacco juice onto the hay. “You know what I think? I think this chicken is male, and you don’t want it to die. You’ve grown soft.”

She approaches and reaches out, palm facing upwards. “Give him to me.”

I look at the chicken in my hand, and they look back at me with eyes that have yet to see the world. In those eyes, I see infinite potential: Every possible future in quantum superposition.

I decide to call them Alex.

“No,” I say.

The farmer smiles broadly, and her teeth are white marble tombstones. “Very well, then. I am entitled to defend my property.”

She saunters to the corner and retrieves an ancient shotgun, cocking it with a sound that fills the barn.

“The chicken dies, or you both do.”

I look at Alex, and their eyes tell me what to do.

My training was not for nothing. I balance Alex between two fingernails, and with a lightning-quick flick of my wrist, I send them speeding through the air like a dart.

The farmer raises the shotgun just as Alex embeds themselves in her forehead. The shotgun goes off, creating another solar spotlight in the farm, shining through the hole in the roof. Now holding the high ground, Alex pecks at the farmer’s eyes as she stumbles backward toward the gate. I sprint to assist.

The farmer wipes Alex from her bloody forehead, turns, and sprints through the open gate to safety.

I pick up both Alex and the shotgun from the straw-covered ground. “Nice work, buddy,” I say. “We make a great team.”

I kick the door open and emerge into the sunlight. Alex settles on my shoulder, and the shotgun pushes against the crook of my arm. The farmer is nowhere to be seen.

Then I see them.

They step out from behind the coop, a man and a woman, ray-bans glinting in the sun like black lakes, suits decorated with the ominous logo of Zen-Nippon.

Chick sexing inspectors.

I turn toward them and raise the shotgun slightly.

“Drop that thing, Tom,” says the man.

“You are not a murderer,” says the woman.

I wave the shotgun around a bit, but they keep walking. Alex rubs against the side of my neck. I realize they are right. I am not going to pull the trigger.

The shotgun falls onto the grass with a nearly inaudible thud. Kneeling, I make Alex slide down my arm to join the gun.

“Flee,” I whisper to the bird.

“Why are you here?” I ask the inspectors.

“Matsuo warned us about you,” says the man.

“We thought it best to keep you under observation,” says the woman. “To protect the integrity of the sexing. The honor of Zen-Nippon.”

I take a deep breath and enjoy the sun on my face. My career as a sexer is over. Maybe I can sell insurance?

The inspectors approach. Closer. Closer.


The sound of the shotgun reverberates through the air. The inspectors freeze for a split-second, then scatter, sprinting for cover in opposite directions.

Astonished, I look down. Alex has climbed into the shotgun trigger guard and pushed the trigger back. Their tiny legs strain against the opposite side of the guard. They release the trigger, look at me, and cheeps happily. Their eyes reflect the future.

The inspectors are now nowhere to be seen. I push open the gates to the coop and enter. The interior is so yellow that it makes my eyes water, and the heat makes beads of sweat run down my face. More baby chicks than you can throw an egg at mill around on the floor, climb on wooden perches, eat from tiny, adorable feeding troughs. The sawdust covering the floor is barely visible beneath the yellow mass.

Alex cheeps from their vantage point on my shoulder. The movement of the chickens subside and more and more of them stop to stare at Alex and me.

“I am the chicken sexer,” I proclaim to the writhing yellow. “My job is to sex you; assign you to your future. Your fate lies in my hands!”

That gets their attention. The last of them stop moving and turn toward us. It is eerily quiet inside the shed.

I take a deep breath. “I sex you as EVERYTHING!”

The chickens erupt in wild cheeps and Alex jumps from my shoulder to join them. Their movement grows wild and frantic. Unsexed, uncategorized, the chickens flow into one massive yellow composite, eyes, beaks, and tails rippling across the feathery surface of the being that grows in the center of the floor, quickly consuming every individual chick.

I stare enraptured as The Chicken flows toward me; my muscles refuse to move. Its feathers tickle as they touch my legs, and I cannot stop myself from giggling. I close my eyes in ecstasy as the warm, tickling touch reaches my waist and continues to engulf the rest of my body.

When I open them again, I see the empty chicken coop through holes in my newfound armor of plumage. I turn around – or The Chicken turns me around, I cannot tell the difference – and approach the open door.

Outside, the inspectors have rallied and are waiting for me, tasers at the ready. They gape when they see me, step back, unsure of how to handle this new threat.

I raise my arms and chickens launch from my hands, streaming through the air like yellow confetti. The inspectors scream in horror, waving their arms frantically to ward of the attackers, but their efforts are futile. Chicken beaks embed themselves in arms, hands, and faces, and the inspectors roll around on the ground, as if attempting to extinguish flaxen flames.

I step forward, still unsure if I am in charge, and more of The Chicken flows from me toward the inspectors, enveloping their faces and muffling their screams. They thrash for a while longer, and then they stop.

“Stop,” I say. The chickens flow from the inspectors and return to my plumage. The inspectors gasp for breath, faces nearly purple, and look at me with eyes alight with terror. 

“Run!” I say to them. “Tell the others that those who flee will be shown mercy.”

They scurry away from the farm, down the hill toward the city.

An individual chick emerges from the plumage on my face and looks me in the eye. Alex?


The chick returns to the whole, and I nod. I start walking, and The Chicken flows behind me like a golden cape. A crown of chicks perch upon my head.

We march on the neighboring farms.

Judge Santiago Burdon

Los Be-ot-lays 

San Sebastian La Ternera Penitentiary 

Cartagena, Colombia 

I was being released from the prison in Cartagena the next morning and I was more than excited. I had to tone down my happiness or a guard may just give me something to remember him by.

After eighteen months in this shit hole of a prison, my Old Man finally decided to take mercy on me and pay off the Magistrate. The reason wasn’t because he forgave me for my crime of smuggling drugs. He came to realize everyone thought of him as a heartless asshole for letting his son rot in prison. He claimed he was teaching me a lesson but didn’t explain what the lesson was. I was told he was constantly hounded by family members and friends to negotiate for my release. The terms for my freedom amounted to somewhere close to thirty thousand dollars. 

Another reason he decided to pay for my release is my mother had run up a large bill on her credit cards due to her biweekly visits, for flights, hotels and paying off the guards to ensure my safety. My incarceration was costing him more money than he anticipated, so he hired some attorney who had worked with the Kennedy Administration to negotiate my release with the Colombian Magistrate.

Once a month the Administrator of the prison threw a party for inmates. You were issued an invitation if you demonstrated good behavior, had a good work record and could pay the cover charge. There was music, prostitutes, beer and drugs available all for a price. I had an open invitation because my mother paid my cover charge every month. I’m sure she wasn’t aware of what went on at these soirees. If she had known, there’s no doubt she wouldn’t have been so generous.

My seven cell mates seemed to share in the excitement of my fortunate release. All except Javier, the Salvadoran, showing his disinterest by lying in his bunk singing softly while bouncing a rubber ball against the wall. He was a member of MS13 Mara Salvatruca gang. Originally he was sentenced for life for what I assumed was murder. I knew better than to ask. Just two months back he stabbed and killed a rival gang member of the 18th Street Gang, right in front of guards and convicts in the yard. Here he is in General Population, in my cell waiting to go to trial. Welcome to Hell.

I asked each of them what they’d like for me to send them from the United States if possible.

A couple Chicos asked for watches although shoes were the most popular request. Nikes were the preferred brand I was told while they handed me their shoe sizes scrawled on toilet paper.

From the far corner in the top bunk, Javier spoke.

“Quiero cassetta de ‘Los Be-ot-lays’,” he said softly. 

“What? I don’t understand ‘Los Be-ot-lays’. What is that?”

“You know, the Be-ot-lays, music band.”

“Oh okay. You bet,” replied.

Although I had no clue what he was talking about, I didn’t want to investigate any further, fearing my not understanding would cause him to become angry. As I mentioned, he was an extremely violent fellow. 

I wasn’t able to sleep that night, tossing and turning in my bunk. Finally the sunlight began to peek through the cracks in the ceiling, and I could hear the sound of footsteps echoing down the concrete hallway. My anticipation grew with each step growing louder the closer they came. I had already packed the few items I was leaving with, having given away most everything else to my cellmates. I’d even gone to bed dressed in street clothes with my shoes on. I wanted to be ready without causing any reason for delay. Then I heard the jingle of keys as a guard called my name.

“Santiago Burdon, despierta,” he said.

“Okay, I’m awake and ready to go.”

“Venga,” he ordered.

I held my arms out of the bars so they could put on the handcuffs. Handcuffs in Spanish are called ‘esposas’, which is also the same word for ‘wife’. I find that fact humorous. Why I needed to be cuffed on my release from prison was a mystery to me.

David was one of the four guards that were to accompany me out the front gate to freedom. He had always treated me with a kind hand. Although if you disrespected him, you’d pay for it. 

The hallways echoed louder than they had ever sounded before. It seemed as though the passage would never reveal its end. The corridor continued with another guard, Tomas, poking me in my back occasionally to hurry me along. I didn’t need any help and would have gladly ran if they allowed it. 

Eventually we arrived at the Main Office where I was given a document and told to sign. It contained the terms of my release, exonerating the Colombian Government of any type of maltreatment during my internment. I also gave up my right to file any legal action against them. The final compliance was that I was to never return to Colombia again. 

I gladly signed the document, absentmindedly putting the pen they gave me in my pocket. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder from an officer’s nightstick. I handed the pen back, causing the Administrator to chuckle. I asked him to return my passport, which was confiscated when I was arrested. He informed me it wasn’t in his possession and most likely I would have to file a claim with the Federal Police for its return. Although I knew they wouldn’t be any help. My passport was most likely sold on the black market for a substantial price. Now I’d have to deal with the United States Embassy to issue me a temporary one so I could get back home.

He shook my hand and wished me good fortune.

We walked through the yard to the large iron gates to a chorus of voices yelling goodbye, along with applause from the inmates and from a few guards in the towers as well. I waved back, flailing both my arms above my head.

David tapped me on my shoulder and I turned around so he could take off my handcuffs, extending his hand to shake.

“No quiero volver a verte aquí.” (I don’t want to see you back here), he said sternly while shaking my hand.

An Official yelled out to open the gates and they spread apart, revealing my mother and sister standing outside beside a taxi.

I hesitated to walk out at first, and David pushed me through the entrance. My mother ran toward me screaming, “My baby! My baby!”

One of the guards mimicked her in a high-pitched voice. I turned and gave him the finger for disrespecting my mother.

She hugged me and started crying from what I assumed was happiness. 

“It’s good to see you, Momma,” I told her. “Now can we get the Hell out of here, please?”

My sister, Jocelyn got in the front seat next to the driver with my mother and I in back.

“How do you feel, Santi?” my sister asked. “I bet you’re thanking God for getting you out of prison.”

I wanted to once again remind her I wasn’t a believer in such superstitions but refrained. We didn’t always get along growing up, but she was my sister and meant well. She’d saved me from beatings by the Old Man many times and had covered my ass often as well.

The taxi lurched into traffic and we were on our way to the hotel where they were staying. 


The place was elegant and very high end. I had stayed there a few times in the past. My mother got me a suite, thinking I would feel more comfortable in a larger room after being cooped up in such a confined space. I turned on the TV to watch the news to get an idea of what I’d missed during my eighteen months of captivity.

My mother knocked and entered, smiling but appearing somewhat unsettled. 

“Mom, this room is wonderful. I appreciate your generosity. Hope you and Jocelyn are okay sharing a room.”

“We’re just fine. Now take a long hot shower and wash that prison off of you. Here’s some new clothes I bought for you yesterday. Throw those clothes you’ve got on in the trash. Here’s a toothbrush, razor, shave cream, brush and other things. Then if you’re up to having lunch, we can all go to a restaurant. Does that sound okay to you?”

“Sure mother. Listen, there’s no reason to be so nervous and cautious around me. I’m handling this very well, so please relax.”

She walked over, hugged me then gave me a kiss on my cheek and told me she loved me. I have no clue how she could still love me after all the disastrous exploits I’d been involved in. How selfish I’d been to put her through all the worry and the stress caused by my depravity. I figured she would’ve given up on me by now. Most everyone else already had.

My shower must’ve lasted well over forty-five minutes. There was hot water along with strong water pressure for a change, and the shower head was one of those fancy adjustable types with different settings. Just as I finished getting dressed there was a knock on the door. It was my sister checking to make sure I was alright. They were wondering what was taking me so long. 

We headed out to a restaurant for lunch. I commented to my mother what an excellent job she did picking out my clothes. I thanked her and she reciprocated with a huge smile of appreciation.

My mother asked if I might recommend a restaurant since I had lived in the area for a couple of years. I preferred Old Cartagena, not only for the quaint ambience, but there are a few restaurants there with exceptional cuisine. They suggested that maybe we should dine at the Hard Rock Cafe, thinking it would be safer than a neighborhood establishment. My mother still had bad memories of Matazalan when we vacationed there for a week. Everyone in the family ate some street food from a vendor and came down with a case of Montezuma’s revenge that kept them in bed for two days. She’d been leery about sampling local cuisine ever since.

I for one had never experienced any such malady from eating the food in Latin countries. I understood the reason for their apprehension, but I assured them there was no chance of getting food poisoning. My sister however wasn’t quite convinced, telling me that if she became sick I’d wish I was back in prison.

I took them to one of my favorite dining establishments. As soon as we were seated, Mama Esther came running out from the kitchen and began hugging me. 

“Santiago, it is good to see you again! I heard you were a guest at La Modelo Hotel. You are free now?”

“Yes Esther, I’m free now. I’d like to introduce you to my Mother, Elsa and my favorite sister, Jocelyn.”

“Very pleased to meet you. I should want you to know what a wonderful man your son is. He has a big heart with much kindness.”

“Well that’s very nice to hear. Thank you for your compliment.”

“One year at Christmas, he roasted a large pig and gave away every piece to the poor families who had nothing. And he even bought toys for the children!”

“That sounds like Santiago,” my mother said. “He has always cared for others.”

Honestly I’d prefer if people saved stories like those for my eulogy.

It was then that I noticed three women sitting at the bar that I’d known since first moving to Cartagena. They were prostitutes I considered close friends and always treated them with the utmost respect. Valerie and Jacqueline called out ‘Hello’ then raised their glasses as a toast. I excused myself and walked over to engage in a more personal greeting. We hugged and kissed as the ladies giggled. They expressed how happy they were to see me again and congratulated me on my recent release from prison. They suggested we meet up later and celebrate. I thanked them for the invitation but declined due to my family being here.

When I returned to the table, my mother was very concerned about my association with the angels of the night.

“You seem to know quite a few people here, Santiago. You must be a very popular guy. How is it that you know those women? Believe me, I know what they do.”

“Not really popular, Cartagena just has a very small town atmosphere. And those ladies are very good friends. What they do doesn’t define who they are.” 

“Uh huh. I’m sure that’s true,” my sister commented sarcastically.

I asked what time our flight back to the States was scheduled for.  My sister pulled the itinerary out of her purse. 

“Our flight back leaves at 10:25 am tomorrow,” she said. “We arrive in Tampa Bay at 4:50 pm. It’s about a six and a half hour flight.”

I explained I needed to go to the Embassy and file for a temporary passport. It was going to cost a couple hundred dollars and I didn’t have an appointment, so things could try our patience. Of course they asked why I didn’t have my passport, but I didn’t feel as though I needed to explain.  

We finished lunch, which my mother and sister found delicious, and we were on our way to the Embassy in Cartagena. En route, I explained once again that it would be an arduous task requiring an abundance of patience. They both appeared to be fine with the possibility of a long drawn-out process.

When we arrived I asked to speak with Caesar, an Embassy liaison officer that had assisted me during my trial and sentencing. Fortunately he was available and after a short while he appeared looking happy to see me.

“I was expecting to hear from you,” he said. “I heard you were being released due to overcrowding in the prison.” He winked with a smile. “It’s very good to see you under different circumstances. What can I do for you today?”

“Caesar, this is my mother Elsa and my sister Jocelyn. They’ve come to accompany me back to the United States. Unfortunately, my passport has been misplaced by the authorities and I need a temporary issued for my flight back tomorrow. Do you think that could possibly happen today?”

I noticed Ceaser staring at my sister while I  spoke to him. Without missing a beat, she picked up on his interest and began flirting with him.

“Yes, I would be able to expedite your request for a temporary passport. Tell me, Jocelyn is your name?”

“Yes, that’s correct,” my sister replied. “Pleased to meet you, Caesar.”

“Is this your first visit to Colombia?”

I could see where this was going. My mother poked me in my side, giving an approving smile to the flirtatious exchange taking place between them.

After they’d made a date for the evening, including a tour of Cartagena followed by dinner, I took the opportunity to interrupt them.

“Now that you’ve swept my little sister off her feet, do you think you might have the time to address my problem? Let me tell you, Romeo, if I don’t have a passport in the next couple of hours, there’ll be no philandering with my sister tonight.”

“Okay, let me take care of your request immediately. I will have a temporary passport within the hour. Excuse me, Jocelyn, but duty calls. I’ll return in a little while. Don’t go anywhere.”

“Oh God my good man, are you for real? Please hurry!”

Here I was not accepting the invitation from my friends at the restaurant, thinking I should be with my family for the night. My sister however had no qualms about accepting a date.

After only thirty five minutes, Caesar returned with my temporary passport in hand. I thanked him for his assistance and bid him goodbye. He finalized the time and place to pick up my sister, ignoring my gratitude altogether. 

“Well alright then, so long Romeo. Come on kids, let’s giddy up.”


I had been back in the States for a couple of months, having seen my Old Man twice during that time. I was finally becoming acclimated to the environment and the general routine of living on the outside. One day I was visiting a swap meet with my mother and her friend Dorothy, not looking for anything in particular. I noticed a vendor with a large sign offering buy one pair of shoes and get a second pair at half price. I bought six pairs of Nikes for my excellmates costing far less than if I’d purchased them at a mall. I picked up a couple watches as well for my ex-cellmates at the Gray Bar Hotel back in Cartagena.

There was another booth selling records and cassette tapes with an amazingly large selection of music by bands of the 60s and 70s. I thumbed through the albums, just browsing with no particular band in mind. Then under the ‘B’ selection I came upon ‘Sargent Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’  album by the Beatles. Instantly I started laughing after  realizing who the ‘Los Be-ot-lays’ were. Of course, the Spanish pronunciation of The Beatles would be ‘Be-ot-lays’. I purchased a cassette of the album for my homicidal acquaintance.

I wrapped all the gifts in one large package, adding some Playboy Magazines and Marlboro cigarettes for the guards as a bonus. At the post office, the fellow behind the counter looked at me in a suspicious manner.

“Sending this large box to Colombia are you?” he inquired. “What do you have inside?”

“There’s no reason to be suspicious, no one sends drugs to Colombia. And notice the address is a Federal building. So can we finish this transaction and get the package mailed, please? All it is are Nike shoes and some magazines. There’s no need for insurance.” 

You may be wondering why I took the time and expense to make good on my promise to send the gifts to these convicts. I knew, although told never to return to Colombia, the day would come when I would eventually go back. If by chance I ran into any of these ex-cellmates or their friends or family, which was probable, I would be considered a man of his word. Which is good  business.

You never know when you may need to get by with a little help from your friends.

Matthew Licht

Alice in Roseland

All the old guys’ heads swiveled when Alice entered the old Roseland Ballroom. Since the men who showed up for afternoon dances were few, the crowd of elderly ladies noticed the swivel, and followed with their gazes. Unlike their habitual squires, they weren’t pleased by what they saw. 

Fresh Blood. New Meat. 

Despite their failing eyesight and the ballroom’s all-forgiving lighting scheme, the old fellows detected a dearth of wrinkles on the stranger lady’s face. The old women spotted this instantly, and did not approve.

Alice stopped at the border of the hardwood parquet and looked around. This wasn’t her first time at Roseland, but decades had passed since her last visit. 

The War was still on, then, and her son was in Europe, in uniform. She wanted to keep her mind off the appalling things that can happen to young men in combat. Whisky helped, somewhat, but dance music and unfamiliar male company was better.

Alice was a divorcée. She was also a widow, a mother, lonely, and an artist. She still dressed like one.

An old girl whom she passed on her way to the bar had whispered, “What a slob.”

Another muttered, “Whore.”

Alice was just about to pull a dollar from her purse for her first belt since lunch-break when a stranger intervened. 

“Her money’s no good here, Max,” the old fellow said, to the approaching barkeep. “Whatever she wants to drink, I’m buying it.”

Instead of saying, thanks, or telling the man, “I’ll pay for my own cocktails, if you don’t mind,” Alice looked him over, top to middle to bottom. “Turn around, please,” she said.

The man did so, slowly. He half-expected a kick in the pants. When he’d gone through 360 degrees, Alice was looking straight at him. Whatever test she’d just administered, he seemed to have passed it. She reached for the shotglass on the counter and drained it.

“My name’s Fred,” the man said, and stuck out a hand.

Alice looked down, and divided Fred’s gnurled mitt into rectangles and cylinders to form an asymmetrical pentagon.

Fred felt he was about to be lightly dismissed. He acted fast. “Would you care to dance with me?” he said, and, after a pause, added, “Please?”

He was aware of the multitude of rheumy eyes focused on them at the bar. His reputation as a lady-killer was at stake. 

Alice, on the other hand, had nothing to lose. She let poor Fred dangle in the air-conditioning while a slow number wheezed by. “I’m a lousy dancer,” she said, finally. “But hey, it’s your shins and toes.”

She let herself be led out onto the dance-floor, which felt marvelous.

Alice really wasn’t such a terrible dancer. Another drink or two would loosen her up into an even better one, and the late afternoon was young. 

She still had beautiful hands. They fit well into Fred’s. 

One old hit song rolled over and faded into another. The codgers who’d been too slow on the draw watched wistfully as the new couple turned and glided past them. Eventually, they’d recover, and get back into the usual swing of things. They’d ask the familiar single senior ladies to trip the light fantastic with them, again. 

Couples occasionally showed up together for matinee dances, but they were a great rarity. 

Alice and her ex-husband used to go on dates at the Roseland before they were married. Dances, and other forms of evenings out shadowed into the past after their son was born. 

She listened to the radio while she did housework and mothered. She knew she hadn’t done enough of either. Her interests had always lain elsewhere, and this still preyed on her conscience.

“How about some more refreshment,” Fred whispered into her ear, while Louis Armstrong told them they had all the time in the world.

Alice surmised he wanted to show off in front of the other regulars. Still a suave character, still a sheikh.

“Why don’t we go to my place instead,” she said, and lit a cigarette. She wasn’t really a smoker, but she liked what tobacco did to her voice, and she used it well. “I’ve got a bottle there, and there’s something I want you to do for me.”

Fred couldn’t believe his ears, or his good luck. He was specialized in a certain service for which lonely older women are often nostalgic. He’d been known as “Frenchy” in high school, even in the yearbook, although he’d taken Spanish instead of French. There were more Hispanic girls around, at Kefauver High.

“Anything you want, lady,” he said.

“Not so fast. What I meant was, I’d like to do some sketches of your head.” Alice tilted hers, for a better perspective, then looked down, although not quite as far as he hoped. “And your hands.”

“Oh,” Fred said. “Sure. That’d be great, I guess.”

So they exited Roseland together and went to her place, which didn’t, as Fred half-imagined, smell of cats, or the low tide at Coney Island, or spilled bargain liquor. Alice didn’t offer him a drink, but there’d be time for that later. He asked if he could use the bathroom while she searched around for her sketchpad and pencil.

Panties and brassieres were hung on the shower curtain rod to dry. Fred considered them as he relieved himself, avoiding the center of the pot. The wall in front of him had been painted yellow. That was strange, but she was an artist, after all. When he was done, he carefully wiped the droplets on the rim with a square of tissue, and inspected himself in the mirror while he washed his hands. Definitely not looking his best, but that was as good as it was gonna get, that evening.

She was ready for him when he came back out. She’d set a wooden chair in the middle of the room after she’d shoved the ugly little sofa off against the wall where the window wasn’t. 

No TV, he noticed. Not even black-and-white.

“Sit relaxed,” she said. “With your hands on your thighs. Like you’re lost in thought.”

“What sorta thoughts should I be lost in?”

“That’s up to you.”

Fred arranged himself as he’d been told to do, and thought of June, his first wife.

Alice scratched out exploratory strokes with a carpenter’s pencil, which made an artistic sound. ‘I really should draw more,’ she thought. She didn’t have much time for it, though. She was always dead tired when she got home from her job grinding lenses at an optics factory way the hell up in the Bronx. All she wanted to do was sit in her chair, look at the wall, drink, and think about a man she’d been in love with, who’d long ago been killed in a motorcycle accident. Not his fault. Taken out of existence by a drunk driver, who got off with manslaughter and never spent a minute at Sing Sing.

‘The best thing about art,’ she thought, ‘is that while you’re doing it you don’t have to think about anything else.’

Fred had never posed before. He wanted action, and was used to getting plenty. Ladies his age usually knew when their half-hour of pleasant preliminary conversation was up, and were well-aware that the next half-hour or so might be their last chance. This arty lady was paying attention—no one could say she wasn’t—but not the kind he wanted. The silence, broken only by the skritch-skratch of pencil on paper, also bothered him.

He gently cleared his throat. “Hey, what’s your name, anyway?”

“Oh, sorry, didn’t I tell you? It’s Alice. That is, I’m Alice.”

“Pleez ta meetcha. I’m Fred.”

“Hi, Fred. Let’s change.”

“Out of our clothes?” He chortled at his own bon mot.

“Let’s have you sit with your left leg crossed over your right knee, and your left hand supporting your left cheek. Look out the window over there like you’re thinking of something. Something different, for a change, buster.”

The little apartment’s lone window opened onto a brick wall, which must once’ve been visible from the street. A giant hand-painted Osram lightbulb had been concealed but not obliterated when the building Alice lived in went up. 

“So what’m I supposed to think about? I’m not good at this. When it’s my turn, I’d like to draw you naked, like Venice de Mille.”

“You mean, Venus de Milo.” Alice had lived in Paris for a while, after her divorce, and had dutifully visited the museums to copy old masterpieces.

“Nah. Venice de Mille’s a stripper at Crawfy’s. She’s famous cuz she’s the only one who goes all the way.”

“Is that right? Well listen, I draw, but I don’t strip, and I stopped posing a long time ago. You can leave now, if you want.”

Fred held up his hands in surrender. “Just a suggestion. But when you’re done we could, y’know, get to know each other a bit. I got a feeling when we were out there dancing together.”

“Oh yeah? What kinda feeling?” Alice had never really taken charge with a man before. Her sudden fit of boldness must’ve had something to do with drawing. This Fred person at least knew how to sit still. Something good might yet come out of their encounter. Maybe a painting.

“This is kinda embarrassing to admit,” Fred said, after a while. “But I got a feeling we sorta belong together. Did you feel that way too?”

“No I didn’t,” Alice said, because it was true. She’d only gone into Roseland because she’d heard music float out onto the street from inside the place when she walked by, and was surprised the old dancehall was still standing, still open. “It’s been a long, long time since I felt like I belonged with anyone. My own son doesn’t even write me letters anymore. Just a card for my birthday and Christmas.”

“That’s too bad. You divorced? A widow?”

“Both. With three different men. Do you have children?”

“Not me. Never been married, neither.”

“Oh? Why not?”

Fred had to think about it, but knew he’d better be quick. She’d think maybe there were too many reasons, or that maybe he’d tried to get married but had been turned down for some fault within himself that she hadn’t become aware of, yet. He decided Alice was the kind of woman with whom it’s better to play straight. “Just never found the woman with the right taste,” he said.

Alice’s well-shaped ears perked up. The guy’d come out with something unexpected. She thought he’d say he just liked playing the field, didn’t want to be tied down, had to live free or die. 

“Do you mean,” she said, “the right taste in clothes? Furniture?”

Either way, she would’ve found that interesting.

“You know what I mean, Alice.” Fred thanked Heaven that he’d remembered her name, at the right moment. He broke from his pose, rose from the chair without making himself too big or tall or menacing, and went down on his knees before her. Guys who hesitate, he knew, never get none. He’d never been one of those shy guys, not even in high school.

Alice contained her confusion. Was this what’d really moved her back into the old Roseland? Was this old lounge lizard what she’d been unconsciously looking for when she heard the music of yesteryear? Had she taken a shower that morning?

She wasn’t dreaming, wasn’t really asking herself those useless questions. Fred was more than direct, he was also strangely gentle, despite those stevedore mitts of his which were the first thing her artist’s gaze had picked up. She still had it, the discerning eye. She scooted forward on her chair. 

Fred closed his eyes, which he didn’t usually do, under such circumstances. Some of those old Roseland dames, former gangster molls, he was afraid they’d konk him on the head with a bottle if he didn’t do it the way they liked. That’s why he always took it real slow, at first. But this Alice was an artist, so she probably looked at things differently, saw them in a way other women didn’t. She must be looking at him right now, he thought, because maybe she’d want to paint a picture about what it’d looked like, later. Besides, he thought further, she was just right, like the girl in the story who breaks into the bears’ place. Best porridge he ever tasted, only it wasn’t porridge. He didn’t even like porridge, whatever it was. Alice was much better than porridge. In fact, she was a whole ‘nother world.

The couch would be more comfortable, Alice thought, for both of us. We’ll get to the bed later. Oh wait, the couch was the bed, in this room. She’d moved around too often, lately. This guy Fred moved her around like he knew what he was doing, like he knew how she wanted it just before it became clear what the next move oughta be. The other stuff about him, Alice thought further, might be a bit corny, but he’s at least got this right. In her mind, dreamily, she went over how he was dressed, what kind of shoes he wore. His breath was not unpleasant, a quality that grew steadily more important and more unusual among the men she either met or ran into, as the years raced ever more uneventfully by. 

Then the thing happened which hadn’t happened often enough lately, especially not with company around. Alice let the tide take her, or, better, released it. Whatever happened would happen.

Fred took the flood, and got the feeling that comes from having done a job exactly right, and you were the only one who could do it that way. In this case, it wasn’t just a feeling. 


Fred and Alice didn’t always get along as well as they did that first night they spent together, but if nothing else, they had the warm memories. And they both worked hard to make things work, together. Until Alice woke up one morning feeling all blocked up inside. After a few days with no improvement, Fred escorted her to the nearest hospital. 

Alice didn’t come out of there alive. 

Fred stayed in her apartment for a few weeks after she died, since they’d already paid the rent for the month, but he never went back to Roseland.

He might’ve been over the legal blood/alcohol limit when he fell in front of an A train headed up to West 125th Street. No one checked. There wasn’t much to check, and anyway it didn’t matter.

The building’s superintendent put Alice’s life’s work out in the street. ‘All these crazy pictures,’ he thought. ‘Who wants ’em?’

No one who walked by the building did. A girl who’d just moved to town held up a framed drawing of an old man’s hands, knotted in a gesture of resignation. The frame was gilt, and she thought it might look nice on the freshly painted walls of her new apartment. Then she thought of urinating dogs, cockroaches and dormant bedbugs and put it back on the pile, more or less where it’d been when it’d caught her eye.

The garbagemen who worked in that part of town enjoyed the glassy tinkle and tender crunch the frames made as they disappeared into the grinder at the back of their truck.

Ben Fitts

The Cactus

Dirty Joe was in love with a cactus. He knew he loved the cactus from the moment he saw her in the barren Arizona desert. The cactus was the only living thing in sight, and Dirty Joe was all alone with her, the sand, and the brutal afternoon sun. 

Dirty Joe slammed the breaks of his Jeep and fished around in its backseat. He withdrew some plastic flowers that wouldn’t wilt in the cruel desert and his beat-up old Martin guitar. He sheepishly approached the cactus and laid the plastic flowers at the base of her stem. He got his old Martin in tune and strummed it as he sang the cactus a pair of Hank Williams songs. Sensing that his opening move was complete, Dirty Joe tipped the brim of his Stetson to the cactus and returned to his Jeep. 

He waited two days, as is appropriate after a first date, then drove his Jeep back to the cactus. He brought a six-pack of Coronas and a pair of beef burritos for himself, and a bucket of rainwater and some fertilizer for her. And of course, his old Martin guitar. After they finished eating and drinking and conversing, Dirty Joe picked up the Martin and sang the cactus another Hank Williams tune. 

The cactus was a shy and quiet girl, but Dirty Joe was pretty sure he was getting the signal from her. Dirty Joe asked if he could kiss her, and the cactus nodded gently in the desert breeze. He leaned in and planted his lips on her spiky green hide. Dirty Joe eventually broke off the kiss and grinned as he plucked the needles out of his face and wiped away the blood. Considering the second date a success, Dirty Joe returned to his Jeep and drove off through the Arizona desert.

Dirty Joe continued to date the cactus. He’d drive to her lonesome spot in the desert and bring food and drinks and his Martin. At the end of each date, Dirty Joe would lean in for another prickly kiss and would withdraw cut and bleeding and overjoyed. The cactus was a traditionally minded girl who wouldn’t surrender her virtue until she felt their relationship had developed to a certain point, and Dirty Joe respected that. He was satisfied with their bloody kisses for the time being.

On the night that the cactus finally let Dirty Joe inside of her, he found that the wait made the experience all the more special. He spent the night thrusting into the cactus, his Wrangler jeans and flannel shirt and briefs and cowboy boots and Martin guitar in a pile beside them on the sand. The frigid desert air goose-pimpled his bare flesh and the cactus’s needles dug deep into the entire front of his body, but Dirty Joe didn’t mind. He was in love. 

Dirty Joe awoke the next morning naked on the desert sand. He had one arm wrapped around the base of the cactus and he was covered in needles. A pool of his own blood had formed beneath him and he was pallid as a vampire’s victim, but none of this bothered him. He stood up, wiped the sand off his ass, pulled the needles out of his body, and squirmed back into his clothes. He leaned in and kissed his lover goodbye, causing a fresh injury as a needle pierced his upper lip. 

Dirty Joe drove off in his Jeep and whistled along with every song on the classic country station. He went about his day unable to think about anything other than the love he and the cactus shared. Nothing else mattered. There was only him and the cactus.

Unable to play it cool any longer, Dirty Joe drove back out into the desert the following day. He slammed on his breaks as he reached the cactus’s spot, and stared ahead of him in disbelief. He crawled out of his Jeep and rubbed his eyes, but nothing changed. The cactus was gone. 

There was a little indent in the sand where the cactus’s roots had been. A trail of soft footprints lead away from that indent, but Dirty Joe was no tracker. And even if he was, it was beside the point. The cactus didn’t want Dirty Joe to follow her. If she wanted to be with him, the cactus would have stayed rooted where she was. Dirty Joe fell to his denim-clad knees and wept. Once he had cried all the tears he could spare, Dirty Joe got up and went back to his Jeep. 

He pulled his Martin out of the backseat and tuned it. Leaning against the side of his Jeep, Dirty Joe sang his favorite Hank Williams song, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”. 

The sounds of Dirty Joe’s singing echoed through the Arizona desert but fell short of reaching a beach on the coast of Australia, where a woman was at the end of a third date with box jellyfish. It didn’t matter how much the jellyfish stung as she took him inside of her or the damage his venom did to her body. She was in love.

Judge Santiago Burdon

Claudia: The First Time

There are many positive events that occur during most everyone’s lifetime that will always be considered as cherished memories. Examples such as our first day of school, your first crush, first kiss. Possibly a sports or scholastic award, marriage, birth of your children,  and adding to the list other events throughout your life. One of the advantages of keeping these memories active, is they can edit out the unpleasant happenings. That’s the manner in which I used them and it worked perfectly. There is an event I experienced that most men I  have shared this story with, comment on how it was a fantasy of theirs when they were teenagers. Let me fill you in on the details.

I earned my pocket money when I was a young lad  by cutting lawns during the summer, raking leaves in the fall and shoveling snow in the winter. I had amassed a large list of clients that kept me flush year round. 

There was a divorced woman without any children that lived on our block I worked for often. I mowed her lawn, shoveled the snow off of her sidewalk as well as other tasks. This woman was extremely attractive. She was more beautiful than any Playboy Bunny I’d seen in the magazines. I fantasized about her when I masturbated. Whenever she called me about cutting her lawn it was hard not to show my excitement.  Usually when I was done mowing she helped by raking the grass clippings and putting them in a plastic bag. Her blouse was always unbuttoned real low so when she bent over I could see her tits. She never wore a bra and knew I was checking her out but didn’t care. I started to think she was doing it on purpose. One afternoon she noticed I had an erection. It was pretty obvious for her to see poking out at the front of my shorts.

“Oh my what’s that in your shorts?” she giggled.

“I’m so sorry it just happens sometimes.”

“It’s okay, don’t be embarrassed Santiago. Were you thinking about me?” she cooed. “What, you’re about fifteen sixteen now?”

“I’m fifteen. Remember my birthday is two days before yours. You turned twenty nine last month, you said.” 

“My Lord, such a memory. Don’t be spreading around how old I am. It’s a privilege awarded to a woman not to disclose their age”

“Don’t worry, the rules at my house are; Don’t ask, don’t tell, you don’t know nuttin’ and didn’t see nuttin’ eeder,” I said, imitating my Old Man. “Some Italian code bullshit.”

“That’s good to know you’re able to keep a secret. Hey, why don’t we go inside for some lemonade and take a break. What do you say?”

“Okay Mrs. McBride sounds great. I’m terribly thirsty.”

“And I’m not Mrs. McBride any more. I’m divorced. Call me Claudia.” 

The inside of her house gave me a comfortable feeling. Antique furniture decorated and adorned the living room with lace curtains in the windows and a large Oriental rug covering most of the wood floor. She told me to sit down at the kitchen table. Then poured a big glass of lemonade and bent over right in front of me when she set down the drink. I got a perfect look at her tits while she stood like that for a minute or so giving me an unobstructed view.

“What are you staring at? Oh so I see. Do you like my tits Santiago?”  

“I’m so sorry.”

“It’s really okay honey.  Do you want a better look? Would you like that?”

I was dumbfounded. All I could do was shake my head yes.

“Okay honey here ya go.”

Then she unfastened the last two buttons on her blouse and took it off. My cock grew larger and harder, throbbing as it poked at my shorts. I didn’t try to hide it from her. I figured she liked knowing I got a hard-on from seeing her tits. They were so perfectly round, with pink areolas and nipples. I’d never seen tits more sexy in my life. I wanted to squeeze them and suck on her hard nipples.

“I want you to promise me that you won’t tell anyone about this. Not a soul. Do I have your promise?”

Again I shook my head yes.

“Good, now give me your hand, I want you to feel my tit. You want to touch it, don’t you?”

“Yes. Oh for sure “

She took my hand placing it on her left breast and started to move it around rubbing her entire tit. She smiled and put my thumb and finger lightly on her nipple, and asked me to pinch it softly, and sighed. 

“Now get ready,” she whispered. Then she unzipped her jean skirt letting it fall to the floor. The panties she had on were red, with small white poke-a-dots. They were so tight I could see the outline of her pussy.

“Have you had sex before Santiago?  I mean have you fucked a girl? Put your cock in her pussy?”

“No Claudia, I finger fucked Cathy Duffy across the street and my older cousin Angela gave me a hand job and blow job but haven’t fucked anyone.”

“I’ve seen you late at night with the Duffy girl. I could tell there was something going on. Let’s make sure you won’t be fooling around with her anymore.” 

She moved closer to the table reaching for my other hand but knocked over the glass of lemonade. It spilled onto my lap and shirt. I quickly sprang to my feet pushing over the chair.

“Oh baby, I’m so sorry. Let me get a towel to wipe you off,” she said trying to be apologetic while giggling with her hand over her mouth. I watched her ass as she glided into the kitchen pantry. Her panties didn’t cover her cheeks. It was so sexy, causing me to become even more sexually aroused. I put my hand in my shorts and moved my stiff dick so it was upright which was much more comfortable. Touching it made me so excited I wanted to start masturbating right then. When she turned to walk back she saw my hand inside my shorts. 

“Don’t you dare! I was hoping to be the one who makes you cum. Let me give you an orgasm.  Is that okay with you baby? Do you want to have sex with me?” 

“What? Yes yes yes. I want you. I was just getting my cock situated.”

“Okay good. Come over here let me wipe the lemonade off of you.”

She began wiping my stomach with a small towel. Then she moved down to my shorts and started rubbing my groin with long firm motions.

“You know what I think honey? Let’s get you out of these wet shorts and give you a nice warm bath. What do you say?”

“Uh huh.” I was unable to speak. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening.

I followed her into the bathroom and she turned on the water to the bathtub and it filled quickly.

“Come over to me baby, let me get you out of those sticky shorts.”

I walked closer and she unbuttoned then unzipped my shorts sliding them down to my ankles.

“Santiago, don’t you wear any underwear?” 

“Not during the summer because my ass sweats and gets all itchy.”

“Honey your cock is bigger than I imagined it would be and you’re circumcised,” she said while stroking it slowly. “Baby it’s so gorgeous! I want you to fuck me all afternoon. Get in the bathtub let me wash you.” 

Carefully she guided me into the tub. I relaxed in the warm water as she started washing my shoulders, then my back, moving down putting her hands in the crack of my ass. I was sure I’d have an orgasm when she washed my crotch and cock. The washcloth was lathered up and with long loving strokes she massaged my chest.  Her hands moved down to my stomach then over my legs then back up again coming close to my hard-on without touching it.

She smiled knowing exactly what she was doing to me. I couldn’t take the teasing any longer.

“Claudia, you’re driving me out of my mind. I want to put my fingers in your pussy now. Stand up, let me take your panties off.”

“Oh Santi, I like it when you tell me what to do. Okay I’m all yours.”

I pulled down her panties and she wiggled a couple times in a sexy way. She was lightly biting on a finger while smiling, acting  as though she was an innocent embarrassed schoolgirl. Her pussy was beautiful, shaved so it showed everything. There standing in front of me was an absolutely gorgeous, completely naked woman. I slowly moved my hand toward her pussy and she squatted a little and spread her legs giving me easy access. My finger slid inside smoothly, she was so wet. I pulled it out but  I inserted two fingers and stuck them deep in her vagina and she squealed asking me to move my fingers faster. I obeyed her command and she grabbed my shoulders pulling me closer.  Her pussy lips were spread wide open exposing her pink clitoris.

“Please Santiago touch my clit. Please move it around fast. My God I’m so fucking horny!” she screamed. 

I stood up and got out of the bathtub dripping wet. I didn’t care about drying off. I led her to a chair at the vanity gently sitting her down. Then I spread her legs and she opened them even wider, scooting her ass to the edge of the seat. I got down on my knees in between wide open legs and she grabbed my head and pulled it close to her pussy.

“Lick me Santiago, please suck my clitoris. This right here,” she cooed, showing it to me. Then she began masturbating, moving it side to side rapidly with her fingers.

Give it to me. Open your pussy for me. Now! I want it in my mouth.”

She surrendered to my command. My tongue softly touched her clit caressing it with my lips as well. As I licked her, I put  two fingers inside her vagina moving them in and out quickly. She was so wet and excited, groaning, moaning begging me not to stop. 

“Santiago, I’m going to cum. When I cum I squirt and it shoots out. I’m not pissing. Please, I want you to watch.”

I moved my fingers in and out, with my other hand while my fingers rubbed her clitoris quickly but lightly.

“Santiago, oh fuck, Santiago I’m going to cum. I’m going…”

She moaned, grabbing at my head pushing it into her pussy. I once again began licking her clitoris. Then she screamed in pleasure followed by a stream of liquid that squirted from her pussy. She pushed my head aside and began using her hand to play with her clitoris, moving it rapidly, masturbating and squirting in my face. This really turned me on. I wasn’t at all grossed out by her orgasm. I don’t know why but I opened my mouth drinking her up. I never knew about a woman squirting when cumming. I was getting a first hand Education.

“Baby are you okay with my squirting?”

“Claudia, it really turned me on to see you cum like that.”

“I’m happy you like it. I can do it as much as you’d like.”

“Fine with me.”

“Do you want to fuck me or do you want me to suck your dick? Tell me baby.”

“Fuck me please. I know I’m going to cum right away. Please, I want to fuck you,” I pleaded.

She stood up, sitting me down in the chair. Standing in front of me she started masturbating again. Then she turned her back to me and sat down on my lap sliding my cock into her pussy. It was so warm, wet and soft. She moved up and down on my cock bending forward so I was able to view everything. 

“This is called the reverse cowgirl. Can you see your cock fucking my pussy. Fuck me baby. Fuck me hard. Cum! I want you to cum now.”

I had no problem obeying her demand. My orgasm was seismic, I screaming that I was cumming. It seemed to last for a couple of minutes with a lot of cum. Unlike other orgasms I experienced this was so much more satisfying cumming in her pussy.

“Did you cum baby? Was your orgasm good?”

“It was fantastic Claudia. Incredible.”

“Now you’re no longer a virgin. You will always remember Claudia as your first fuck. The one who took your virginity.”

She kissed me with her lips softly on mine, her tongue sliding in and out of my mouth. Then she used her tongue circling around mine. Her hand was stroking my cock then suddenly she went down on me and started sucking it. She moved it in and out of her mouth, with her hand stroking  my shaft. She stopped sucking me and licked it as though it was a popsicle. I couldn’t believe it but I had an erection and was  ready to fuck her again.

“Baby you’re hard again and so fast. I have known men who couldn’t get hard and fuck again after a couple of hours. You are going to be my special lover. Do you want to fuck me again? “

“Without a doubt.”

We fucked for what seemed like the entire afternoon. Then after that we took a shower together and I got dressed. 

“Goodbye Santiago, remember don’t tell a soul about today, okay?”

I promised to keep it a secret then we kissed goodbye.

While walking  home I couldn’t stop thinking of what had just happened. I had a smile on my face from cheek to cheek and 

 I was positive it would stay like that forever.  

Travis Flatt

Herrens Ackord

Ten years ago, when we finally ran the skinheads off the hardcore shows, they got their Swastika panties in a wad and burned Vinnie’s Tavern down. Well, someone did, and they took the credit. With Vinnie’s gone, there died Chattanooga’s last paying punk-friendly venue. Also the only job I ever enjoyed. Even though I was a shit bartender, Big Shank, the owner, let me book shows and run sound. 

To compensate for the loss of our show space, the Chattanooga DIY scene united and shoveled a basement out underneath Big Shank’s house. To avoid noise complaints, we decided we’d use a literal hole in the ground. We christened it “Antarctica.” The goddamn house might collapse at any moment, but we keep it aloft with heavy metal. 


Like every show at Antarctica, tonight begins with a short set from Seven Trumpets, Mike Pack’s one-man band. We all climb into the basement, switch on the electric lanterns, and watch Mike drop trou. He jams his trumpet to his butthole and blasts ass. That’s Seven Trumpets. Every time. We cheer and jeer him out of the basement as he climbs topside. It’s like our “Pledge of Allegiance.” 

tonight, we’ve got a black metal band from Stockholm headlining, Herrens Ackord. We’ve hosted one hell of a summer international. Last week, a band from Rome, La Quiete, came through, and we bought them a bunch of Papa John’s pizza, built it up like it was the best Italian place in town. They pretended to like it. Those kids were absolute sweethearts. I loved those guys. I bought their shirt. Because that’s what you do when you love someone.  

The opening bands drag on, play past midnight, and then, at almost one, it’s finally time for Herrens Ackord. They’ve stayed up by their van all night like big shots–not mingling, I mean. When they unload their shit, unsurprisingly it’s fancy gear: big Marshall Stack amps, which are real bastards to lower down into Antarctica. 

Big Shank and I help. I’m Big Shank’s lieutenant. They call me “Slick.” That’s because of the scars from where I ran back into the fire to rescue the Vinnie’s Tavern P.A. So, I remain the sound guy. We talk to the leader of Herrens Ackord–I’m guessing he’s the singer– who introduces himself as Vlad (no shit) and says, “Get? Get?” We don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about, but Big Shank, who’s eight feet tall and looks like dude from The Goonies–the big, goonie-looking one–gets Vadim, this Ukranian kid who speaks Russian and German and some other shit, to come over and expedite the whole conversation. 

Turns out that it’s “goat” Vlad’s saying. He wants a goat. 

“This place is a goddamn goat graveyard,” Big Shank says. And that’s the truth. There was a big wave of black metal in the early aughts, and we had to put the foot down on sacrifices for fear of getting shut down. The neighbor’s caught on and threatened to call the cops. I’m vegan now, so I look back in chagrin. 

Vadim communicates to the Swedes that the space is silly with goat bones, which seems to make Vlad happy. 

With all Herrens Ackord’s shit crammed down in the basement, we can only fit about twenty punks, and it’s hotter than fishing Baylor Lake on a cloudless August afternoon. Folks are going to pass out. 

When they start playing, that’s when I notice Vlad’s hands. He plays one of those dumbass double-neck guitars, so it’s impossible not to. It’s a silver Gibson SG with a golden pickguard. Vlad’s got, like, thirteen fingers between his two hands. I’m not speaking figuratively here. Although, one thing about this band is they’ve got dynamics. I’ve got a thing about black metal–not my particular goblet of mead or blood or whatever. But, Herrens Ackord have a flair for the dramatic, they’re not just a monotonous screech screech over ruhga ruhga. 

It’s the fifth song when it happens. The band’s slowed down, they’re letting a chord ring out for at least thirty seconds, and this purplish portal opens above them in the air. From within the thing, looking down on us is this… I’d guess you’d have to call it an eye, and it seems pissed, like someone you suddenly woke up. Watch a YouTube video of a fourth dimensional object sometime: then you might have an idea of what I’m looking at. Only, this thing’s in the fifth or sixth dimension–there’s planes on planes within planes within planes, layers within layers like a transparent Russian nesting doll, alive and fluxing. It makes me queasy. Its pupil–or the golden point at what I’d call the center–gazes around until it hones in on me. Just for a second, it sees me, and–whoosh–I’m rushing back into that fire, but this time I’ve had the sense to cover up with a wet blanket, and the flames aren’t–whoosh–I’m back in the basement and I look down and, God-almighty, the scars on my arms are gone! I clutch my scalp and the hair’s grown back, too. Most of it, anyway. I watch a long, sinewy arm, scaled gold, silver, and encrusted in emeralds and rubies, snaking out of the portal. It grabs hold of the second neck of Vlad’s guitar in its long fingered hand. The two of them, Vlad and the Portal Thing, shred together. The strings on the guitar turn red hot, the necks begin smoking and–whoosh–I feel my arms stretched out taut over my head and my feet yanked downward. My back is against a wood board and I’m being stretched apart. It’s hot, so hot–whoosh–I’m back in the basement. People are climbing out of Antarctica. Some are screaming. Others stand agape. Vlad’s eyes–which turns out are glass–shatter and spray the people in front with glitter–whoosh–I’m you when you noticed “tonight” wasn’t capitalized at the start of the fourth paragraph way up there–whoosh–back in the basement, the song ends, and the arm whips into the portal. The portal snaps shut. The band raise their guitars and nod to hoots and applause from the remaining crowd. Except for Big Shank, who leans down to my ear and whispers, “Fucking gimmick.”

Herrens Achord gets pissed when we present them their twenty dollars, the cover money left after splitting it all up with the other bands. Then, suddenly, they speak perfect English and insist they told us they had a $500 guarantee. Big Shank says they can stick that straight up their magic portal. They drive off to sleep in a Marriott or some shit. You have to deal with such assholes in the DIY scene. We’re left watching the van drive away and I try to tell Big Shank about the–whoosh–I’m God, and he’s sitting in a cool, dark room typing excitedly at a computer. He’s just learned that someone wants to buy this whole crazy story off Him and he needs to tell a bunch of other people that they can’t have it–whoosh–Now I’m standing in Big Shank’s driveway, wondering who’s sober enough to drive me home and what I’m going to do with all these fucking meatballs and lingonberries I bought to surprise Herrens Fucking Ackord. I spent forty dollars at Whole Foods. Son of a bitch. 

Bill Kitcher


I buzzed, then turned and looked up and down the street as you do when you think you’re guilty of something.

There was no response, and I buzzed again. The silence was weird. I knew Jane was home. She’d just called me. I stepped back onto the sidewalk and looked up at her apartment window, as if I thought I could see into her apartment and see what she was doing. That was two things I’d done that weren’t me. The thought flashed through my mind that I would start yelling, “Hey, everyone! I’m a material witness!” Things apparently go in threes. That wasn’t the third thing I did that made me look suspicious. It was the suitcase.

I went back to the apartment entrance and buzzed again.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me. Who do you think it is?”

She buzzed the door open, and I went upstairs.

The door of Jane and Jon’s apartment was open, and I went in. Jane was failing to close the zipper on a suitcase. She looked up at me. “Close the door.”

“Well, of course,” I said. “What the hell happened to your face?”

There were a few cuts, and bruising had started.

“What the hell do you think happened?”

“No, I mean, you know… What was it this time?”

“Same shit. He was drunk, went over all the same shit. About having a kid. Me workin’ at the Crown and workin’ late all the time. Shit, I gotta work. He’s not bringin’ in a lot of money. And Mom and Dad don’t like him. Same old shit.” She paused. “And you.”

“Me? What do I have to do with this? Never mind. Is he dead?”

“Yeah, of course he’s dead, you asshole! I told you that!”

“All right. Calm down. Have you cleaned up?”

“I think so. Go in the kitchen. Check everything.”

I went into the kitchen. The floor was clean. No blood on the cabinet doors. None on the counter. Without thinking, I looked in the fridge and the oven. I didn’t know what I was expecting. Everything looked OK. There were three large knives on the draining board. I looked at them carefully. There were spots of blood on one of them. I ran the hot water, took the J-cloth hanging over the faucet, wiped the knives, dried them with a musty dish towel, looked at them carefully again, returned them to the knife block, put the J-cloth and dish towel in my pocket, took out another J-cloth from the cabinet under the sink, smeared it with dish soap, rinsed it, hung it over the faucet, found another dish towel in a drawer, wiped the clean counter with it, and threw it on the draining board.

I went back into the living room. Jane was sitting on the couch, staring at nothing. I looked around, saw no evidence of what she’d done. She’d told me she’d killed him in the kitchen, and I believed her. I hadn’t been sure she would remember exactly what she’d done, but I was now convinced.

I sat beside her and looked at her. She didn’t react.

And then a thought hit me like lightning at the top of a tree. “So, where’s Jon?”

She looked at me, then nodded toward the suitcase.

“Jesus,” I said. “We gotta get it outta here.”

“No shit, Sherlock.”

“That was a lot of work,” I said. “Good job.”

“My work experience at that butcher shop helped.”

I laughed. That was funny.

I went over to the suitcase and tried to move it. It was really heavy as you can imagine when it’s full of a flabby two-hundred-pound man.

I checked the bathroom and bedroom. Everything looked sloppily normal. I went back to the living room.

“Get that and give it to me,” Jane said, nodding toward a bowling ball bag in the corner.

“What’s in there?”

She just looked at me.

“Jesus,” I said. I picked it up and gave it to her.

Jane murmured, “I couldn’t fit all of him in the suitcase.”

I dragged the suitcase to the door. Some blood oozed out of it, and I wiped it up with the J-cloth and dish towel I’d had in my pocket. I opened the apartment door. No one was in the hallway. I pulled the suitcase to the stairwell. Jane followed me with the bowling ball bag after locking her door. This was definitely the third stupid thing.

A stairwell. How the hell was I going to get that downstairs?

Turned out that wasn’t a problem. Jane pushed the suitcase, and it bounced down the stairs to the front door. I followed it, wiping away blood spots as I went.

Jane opened the front door, and I dragged the suitcase down the walk to the street. I struggled to keep it upright on its four flimsy wheels. A good Samaritan came along and asked if I needed help.

“No thanks,” I said.

“That looks heavy,” he said. “What’s in it?”

“Dead body,” said Jane.

The Samaritan laughed, and shuffled away.

“Now what?” I said.

“Bus station,” said Jane. “Throw it on a bus, take it as far as it goes, weigh it down with rocks, throw it into a river or preferably a lake, and hope for the best. Jon had told everyone he’d always wanted to go to South America. Maybe this time he did.”

“Shit, you have this worked out.”

“For at least five years. You know that.”

“Not the details.”

Jane leaned toward me and kissed me on the cheek.

“You’re an asshole,” I said, and laughed. Going to the bus station was possibly the fourth, or maybe the fifth, stupid thing. I’d lost track.

After a while, we reached an empty garbage-filled lot where homeless people sometimes hung out around a barrel fire when it was cold. Jane took some newspapers out of her pocket, crumpled them up and threw them in the barrel. Then she found some discarded scraps of wood and threw them in too. She took out of her pocket a can of lighter fluid, squirted it, lit a match, threw it in, waited for ignition, then threw the bowling ball bag in after it. She watched it for a moment with a look on her face I couldn’t identify.

Further down the road, we rolled the suitcase into the bus station, a grimy rundown place as bus stations have completely become in the twenty-first century now that there aren’t that many of them left anymore.

We put the suitcase at the end of a row of beaten-up vinyl seats. Jane went to buy the tickets. I went to the bathroom. I splashed water on my face a few times but it made no difference.

When I returned to the waiting area, the suitcase was gone. I looked around for Jane, and she was standing at the entrance, looking outside. I went over and joined her. Out in the parking lot, some guy was dragging the suitcase away as quickly as he could.

“Well, there’s a thing,” Jane said.

She stepped outside and I followed. We watched the guy open the back seat of a car. He picked up the suitcase and threw it in. He was obviously in good shape. He got in the car and drove away.

We stood there for a while. Then she said, “I wonder if he’ll be able to work the zipper.”

Jane lit a cigarette for the first time I’d ever seen her have a smoke. She looked at me. She said, “You’re a good brother.”

“Thanks. You know I’m adopted, right?”

“I still have two tickets to nowhere.”