Otto Burnwell

The Camel’s Dick

You didn’t say no when your wife asked if you were okay with her taking a casserole over to her ex-husband’s place. He’s laid up with a bad back, she said, and had to take time off from work.

Instead, you asked why he didn’t have his new wife do it.

His girlfriend, and he says she’s not very good. It’s just a casserole, she said.

It’s the camel’s nose, you said.

We’ve got plenty.

Wouldn’t hurt him to miss a few meals.

How would that make us look?

Can’t argue with that.

You didn’t say no when your wife asked if you were okay with her running a load of laundry for her ex-husband. He’s finally back on his feet, she said, and needs something clean to wear for work.

Instead, you asked if his girlfriend is lousy at laundry, too.

She left him. It’s just a load of laundry, she said.

It’s the camel’s nose, you said.

There’s always plenty of room in the washer.

Wouldn’t hurt him to spend an hour at the laundromat doing his own laundry.

How would that make us look?

Can’t argue with that.

You don’t remind her that she’s the one who told you her ex- was an asshole and a parasite. She’s not stupid. She dumped him for a reason. But she is kind-hearted. That seems to trump everything now that he turned himself into a charity case.

You didn’t say no when your wife asked if you were okay with letting her ex-husband use the home number for messages. They turned off his phone, she said, and he needs a number to give out while he’s looking for a job.

Instead, you ask what happened to the job he has.

They let him go and cancelled his insurance. It’s just for messages, she said.

It’s the camel’s nose, you said.

We hardly ever use it anyway.

There’s a payphone at the Cash and Go that still takes incoming calls.

How would that make us look?

Can’t argue with that.

You didn’t say no when your wife asked if you were okay with letting her ex-husband sleep in the back room. He needs a place for a little while, she said, to keep his stuff and get cleaned up so he’s presentable if he gets an interview.

Instead, you asked why one of his neighbors at the trailer park can’t put him up.

They went in together and took out a restraining order on him. You’re gone all day, she said, so you’ll never see him.

It’s the camel’s nose, you said.

He’ll keep to himself so you won’t even know he’s there.

I’ll loan him a sleeping bag and he can sleep in his car.

How would that make us look?

Can’t argue with that.

You do care what people think. Even though you resent how it makes you the bad guy if you object to your wife’s empathy toward guys who trade on their self-inflicted wounds for sympathy.

That’s why you didn’t say no when your wife asked you to make up a cot for yourself in the garden shed over the next few days. It’s the way you treat him, she says, makes him so depressed he can’t get out of bed to go look for work.

Instead, you asked how that was possible since he never saw you.

It’s just for a couple of days, she said, while the weather’s still nice.

It’s the camel’s nose, you said.

A little kindness won’t kill you.

He can sleep in the garden shed.

How would that make us look?

Can’t argue with that.

You trust her good heart and keep to yourself when you’re not at work, and only run into the house to grab a beer.

So, it surprises you how not surprised you are when you come in to find them both naked in the kitchen, him boning your wife as she’s folded across the dining table.

Her butt cheeks ripple with each blow of his pelvis against her tailbone, scooting the table across the linoleum. He stutter-steps to keep up with the drifting table. A boner ballet of step thrust-thruststep thrust-thruststep thrust-thrust, your wife’s arms spread wide, holding on, toe-walking as they drive the table across the kitchen floor, until it collides with the refrigerator.

She realizes you’re there and gives out with a yelp, but he’s got one hand planted in the small of her back, and the other hand pinning her head to the table. She’s twisting under his palm, looking back at you, her cheek mashed against the tabletop.

If he heard you come in, he gives no sign, the way he’s got his head thrown back, eyes closed. He’s feeling himself shoot all he’s got into her. There’s no way he’s going to let her up before he’s done.

He slows, taking longer between each thrust, then holds himself against her, making sure to leave it all inside her. He exhales and draws out.

When he does notice you, he gives a nod, says hey, and heads for the bathroom, doing a hop-step kind of dancing, like he’s doing you a favor not dripping on the floor as he edges by you. Your wife strains to reach a dish towel to cover herself before she straightens up off the table, as if you’ve never seen her this way before. Which, when you think about it, you haven’t.

You don’t know what to say when your wife asks if you’re okay with her giving her ex a turn. It’s kind of creepy for him, us having sex when he can hear every little thing.

Instead, you ask why he can’t jack off to porn like everyone else.

Do you want that showing up on our browser history?

You realize it’s lame to bring up the camel’s nose again.

I’ll let him go first because he’s a lot smaller than you, she says.

Why can’t he call a hooker?

How would that make us look?

Can’t argue with that. 

She puts the dish towel between her legs, scurrying off to join her ex-husband cleaning up in the bathroom.

You pull the dining table away from the refrigerator so you can get your beer.

You might as well take both six packs with you because you’re going to be in the garden shed a long time from the look of things.

Hank Kirton

The Job Interview

I’m nervous at a job interview, desperate to make a good impression. I really need the gig. The office is spare, stark, and cold.  There’s nothing on the walls. His heavy mahogany desk stretches empty before him, a trick meant to intimidate the applicants. It works.  He stands up and shakes my hand with a vigorous double-pump and tells me to “Grab a seat.” He smiles at me with a feral-looking rictus and says, “Welcome to AdvanceTech Technologies.”

“Thank you,” I tell him.

To put me at ease, I think, he says, “Please don’t think of this desk as a chasm or an abyss between us. We’re just two humanoids coexisting on spaceship Earth. Try to keep that perspective in mind. It’s important.”

“Okay. Thanks.”

He is a squat, square man with a light beard. His hairline is receding but he still has more coverage than I do. At the rate of my hair loss, I’ll have an embarrassing comb-over in less than a year. Eventually I will resemble deceased comedian Zero Mostel.

He tells me that the position I’m applying for is not unlike a “flock of birds” and that I don’t need an “ocean of experience.” But I will need rigorous training. “Before you start, you’ll need to dismantle your personality, obliterate your ego and randomize your thought patterns. You’ll be given peyote at orientation to help you along. Have you had experience with peyote?”

I lie and tell him, “Yes.” I don’t feel guilty about lying. It’s a job interview after all. I’ve already poured lies all over my application.

“And where was this?”

“Mexico. I met a Brujo there named Don Miguel. He was my mentor in all things peyote…” Lies, all lies. I maintain a bland face as I lie. It’s one of the few things I’m good at. Maintaining a bland face while I lie.

“Very good,” he says. He lifts my application and peruses it. “I like your poem,” he says. “Influenced by The Autopsy Tree?”

“Yes sir.” Another lie. I’ve never even heard of that poem.

“Please, call me Mike. Mike Trent. Try to relax, I’m not infectious. Would you care for an orange phosphate?”

“No thank you.”

He leans back in his chair, looking at me. Sizing me up.

“We consider ourselves a family here at AdvanceTech.”

“That’s good.”

“So, tell me. Why should our little family adopt you?”

Oh boy, here goes… “Well, I’m a hard worker for one thing. Look at my hands.” I luckily have rough, scarred, calloused hands. A result of my dangerous addiction to physical risk.

“M-hm. Impressive. How do you feel about working third shift? Does that present a problem?”

“No. Actually, I prefer working nights.”

“Not afraid of the dark I take it.”

“Not usually. Not anymore anyway.” Ouch, too much information.

“M-hm. Now, we work like a band of chimpanzees around here. Do you think you’ll be able to fit in?” 

“Absolutely. I like chimps.”

“That’s definitely in your favor.”

“Thank you.”

“At a place like this.”

“Yes.”

“Do you sometimes hear voices?”

I lied again, “Yes, I do. Sometimes.”

“Good. That’s a requirement. Listen to those voices.”

“Oh I do. I do. Absolutely.”

“Are you comfortable with your identity?”

I think for a moment and then confess, “I’m not sure I know what you mean.” I feel a suggestion of sweat down my back.

“I’m not sure I do either. But, you have no problem breaking through to new realms of consciousness? At minimum wage?”

“No, no problem.”

“And can you lift up to fifty pounds?”

“No problem.” I give him what I hope is a confident smile. I’m not sure what fifty pounds feels like.

“Please, just let the interview process sluice through you. Like a school of fish. No need to be tense.”

“Thank you. I’ll try…” Is my smile that nervous? I pull it back a little. My lips feel numb. I’m suddenly aware of my tongue.

“At this point in the interview, I like to show the applicants a short orientation film.” He stands up and I’m surprised by his height. He turns on a television I hadn’t noticed, pushes a button. The film he shows is Stan Brakhage’s The Act of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes (1971). He leaves me alone to watch it. I’ve seen it before but it’s no less unnerving. He returns as the film ends.

“That’s the kind of mood we strive for here at AdvanceTech Technologies.”

“I see.”

“So, do you think you’ll fit in here?”

“Absolutely.”

“Your personality seems false to me. Like mere protective camouflage. That may present a problem down the line. Hopefully you’re not concealing a malignant narcissist. Or, god forbid, a sociopath.” 

“Oh, no. Not at all.” I feel something leaden in my chest, pressing my heart. He sees through me, dear god he sees right through me.

“Well, we’ll have to see about administrating an empathy test.” He smiles at me like a thug. Small shark teeth. I swear I can smell masticated meat when he speaks. “I understand,” he says. “This is a job interview after all. I realize you’re just trying to put your best face forward.”

“Yes sir.”

“Trent. Mike Trent.”

“Yes Mike Trent.”

“We will change you.”

“Okay.”

“How do you feel about that?”

“I feel great about it.”

“Then congratulations. You’ve got the job.”

“Thank you.”

“You’ve got the job.”

“Yeah, thanks.”

“The job.”

James Babbs

The Treadmill

In the dead of the night, suddenly I awakened and sat up in my bed thinking I heard a noise and the first thought that crossed my mind was—the treadmill’s in the basement.  Why the hell was that the first thought that crossed my mind?

I got out of bed and went down to the basement and, of course, there was the goddamn treadmill, sitting there, mocking me with its silence.  It had been several months since the last time I had used the damn thing.  I had been all gung-ho when I first bought the treadmill but my initial enthusiasm for exercising waned after those first few weeks had passed.

I looked at the treadmill.  Something made me reach out and touch it.  I put my hand on the treadmill.  It felt cold.  I gave the treadmill a gentle push as if to say, you can’t intimidate me, you fucker.  I turned off the lights and left the treadmill sitting there in the dark before going back upstairs.  I had trouble falling asleep.

In the morning I got up and got ready for work.  I had peanut butter on toast and coffee for my breakfast.  I went to work and put in my hours and got gas in the car on the way home.  I came home and turned on the TV.  There wasn’t really anything good on but I left the TV on anyway.  I had a frozen pizza for supper and watched some more TV before, finally, going to bed.

In the middle of the night, suddenly I awakened and sat up in my bed.  Had there been some kind of a noise?  I wasn’t sure what it was but I got out of bed and went down to the basement.  The treadmill was, still, down there but something was different.  The treadmill had moved.  It was only a few inches but the treadmill was definitely not in the same place it had been the night before.

I touched the treadmill.  It didn’t feel as cold as it had felt the night before.  I looked at the treadmill and laughed.  Fuck you, I said and I waved my hand at it before turning off the lights and heading back upstairs.  I went back to bed and lay there for the longest time just listening to the radio before, finally, falling asleep.

In the morning I got up and got ready for work.  I had a sausage and egg biscuit and coffee for my breakfast.  I went to work and put in my hours and got gas in the car on the way home.  I came home and read a book for a while.  I had some canned soup for supper and did some more reading before going to bed.

Sometime during the night, suddenly I awakened and sat up in my bed thinking the treadmill’s trying to kill me.  What the fuck?  What kind of crazy thought was that?  I figured I must have been having some kind of weird dream.  I looked at the clock that was next to the bed.  The red numbers on the clock read 3:33 so I stayed in bed and fell back asleep.

In the morning I got up and got ready for work.  I had some powdered doughnuts and coffee for my breakfast.  I went to work and put in my hours and got gas in the car on the way home.  I came home and went down to the basement.  Right away I saw the treadmill had turned a hundred and eighty degrees and was, now, facing in the opposite direction from where it had been before. This was crazy, I thought.  What the hell was going on?

I grabbed the treadmill and struggled with it.  I lifted and pushed and, finally, managed to get it back in its original position.  I was sweating and trying to catch my breath.  I looked at the treadmill just sitting there all innocent.  You piece of shit, I said.  I got on the treadmill and started it up.  The belt moved at a sluggish pace and I walked without any trouble at all.

I began to relax.  I started swinging my arms settling into a good rhythm.  I chuckled and then I laughed.  See, I said.  No big deal. 

There was a strange noise and the treadmill lurched and started going faster.  I had to quicken my pace to keep up.  Shit, I said.  The speed of the treadmill increased even more.  What the hell?  My legs were beginning to hurt.  I had to stop the damn thing.  I had to get off.  I hit the power button but nothing happened.  The treadmill was making loud screeching noises.  Suddenly I lost my footing and went down.

I was thrown off of the treadmill.  My left foot hit the wall with a sickening smack.  I felt a jolt rushing through my entire body.  I was lying on the floor.  I didn’t think I was capable of moving.  The treadmill made some loud cracks and pops and then the motor gave out a low moan before going completely dead.  I thought I smelled smoke but I wasn’t sure.

I managed to roll myself over.  I was on my back looking up at the ceiling.  I saw the bright lights above me.  I smiled and closed my eyes.

David O. Hughes

The Covert Kinkster and the Embryonic Eunuch

Trevor brought his BMW X6 to a crunching halt on the gravelled driveway, killing the engine and relaxing in his seat, arching and stretching his back. “Ow!” he giggled and wriggled, a little sore still from the licking he’d taken from his mistress and her trusted assortment of whips, crops, and lashes. “Bitch is worth every penny,” he said, gritting his teeth.

When he leaned forward, chest pressing against the steering wheel, he looked out of the windscreen and up at the darkened bedroom windows of his luxury home that loomed over him and his European beauty. Shelia must be asleep by now, he thought. She’s always in bed, snoring her fat arse off when I’ve returned home, no what the hour. Lazy fuck. 

He plucked the keys from the ignition, pocketed them, and opened the car door. As he walked up the short, winding path, flanked by ponds, gnomes, pots, plants and other garden trinkets and clutter Sheila deemed necessary to keep up with the Jones’, an image of her snoozing in her flowery nightie, eye mask, bed socks and extravagant neck pillow exploded in his mind. UghLike a beached fucking whale, he thought, looking down at a fishing elf-gnome wearing bright yellow wellies. He wanted to kick the thing it into the pond its fishing line was cast into, but decided against it. If she put as much effort into our sex life and marriage as she does with our garden, then we’d get somewhere.    

Trevor huffed, looked up, and thought he saw a dull, gloomy flicker of light from behind the curtains in a downstairs window. No, she can’t be up watching TV this late, he thought. Surely not! He crept up to the glass, pressed his face to it, and tried to peer through the crack in the curtains. I can’t see anything. It’s dark in there. Hmm… Now whatI better have an excuse ready. She might ambush me in there.  

When he reached the front door, he eased his key into the lock and turned it. Trevor winced, pulling his lips back and exposing his gums, as the bolts thundered into place. “Je-sus,” he said with clenched teeth. He depressed the handle and stepped into the inky hallway. 

“Sheila?” He stood there for a moment, ears pricked, listening to the natural sounds of a home. All quiet on the western front! he thought, smiling. 

Trevor closed and locked the door with as little noise as possible, before proceeding down the hallway to the foot of the stairs. “Sheila, are you up there?” A snort and a fart were his replies. A smile split his face. Sleeping, sleeping, sleeping, he thought, listening to the springs of their reinforced bed creak and crunch as she turned over. Like a pig in a pen.      

With a snigger, he pulled away from the staircase and entered the living space. From within the guts of the room, Fluffy meowed, Trevor jumped. “Fucking moggy,” he muttered, turning on a lamp to find the cat curled up on an armchair like a duchess. “Come on, you – come and get some chow.” Trevor led the cat into the kitchen and poured some dried food into its bowl. “Once you’re done, you can go outside to do your business.”

After unlocking the back door and pulling it open for Fluffy, Trevor filled the kettle with water and set it to boil. I wonder if Sheila left me some supper? he thought, moving to the fridge for a peep inside. On the middle shelf, tucked behind a bottle of red sauce and a couple of yoghurt pots, was a plate wrapped in tinfoil with a note that read Trevor attached to it. “Excellent,” he said, plucking the china from its chilly depths.  

Fluffy meowed, the bell on her collar jingling, as she fled to the outside. Instead of closing the door, Trevor left it ajar. I’ll only have to reopen it when she wants to come back in. Hopefully, by the time I’ve scoffed this lot, Fluffy’ll be indoors, Trevor thought, setting his food down on the kitchen table. Did I see my protein shake in there with my grub? He went back to the fridge, opened it, and fished out his drink. “Sheila’s a good ‘un in some respects,” he said, laughing.  

She treats you like a king, a voice at the back of his mind said.  

Trevor sat at the table and lowered his head. I can’t deny it, she does, and what I do behind her back is dreadful. I’ve broken my vows time and again, but it’s the only way I can keep our marriage afloat. God, if she ever did find out though… Fuck! I’d lose everything: swanky car, fancy house, money, status…the lot. And it would come out in the papers,tooThe media love a good, grubby tale about a dirty politician. Sweat broke across his brow. It won’t come to that. I’m careful, and the lady I use is discreet.  

He uncovered his food and set to work on the ham and egg salad. “Mmm,” he said, licking dressing from off his chops. As he devoured the last of his meal, Fluffy made her way inside, darting into the living room. 

“Cold out there, puss?” he asked, laughing and setting his cutlery down on the empty plate. “Bloody lovely.” With a burp, Trevor got up from the table and placed his dish in the sink. Once he was done, he took his drink into the living room and sat down. “Christ, my back is still killing me! Madam Christine went for it this time. Well, I did ask for it.”

When he tried to relax in his chair, wincing, grunting and gurning as he did so, Madam Christine’s words came back to him, stealing his wind. Was she being serious? he thought. Sounded it, but she’d slipped out of character.    

“Trevor, are you feeling okay?” she asked. “Your ball sack has been looking increasingly discoloured the last few weeks, and I’m sure your wee man has got smaller?”

Trevor laughed. “Really, Mistress? I have been feeling under the weather, mind. Maybe that has something to do with it?”  

“Perhaps. You haven’t been taken my punishments like you used to, either. Also, your fantastic physique seems to be slipping. You’re sprouting hairy bitch tits!” 

“You think?” he said.

Mistress nodded, smiling. 

Trevor looked down at himself. It’s true, he thought. But how? I’ve been eating cleanly. 

Yeah, but you haven’t been frequenting the gym or running of recent. And it’s not like you haven’t noticed, is it? You’ve been ignoring it, thinking it was your tired mind playing tricks on you, the voice at the back of his mind said.  

“I’ve been fatigued a lot of late, and I’ve caught a number of colds.” 

“Has work been stressful?”

“Yeah. Well, no, not really.”

“Maybe you should see a doctor, Trevor. Get a full check-up.”

“I’m sure it’s nothing,” he smiled.  

Trevor hadn’t given thought to what she’d said upon leaving her dungeon and driving home; he’d been too occupied by thoughts and feelings of what Madam Christine had done to him. But now, as sat in the dark living room with the effects of tonight’s games fading, it bore down on him. 

have been ignoring it, he thought, sipping his protein shake. No, not ignoring, but avoiding. My dick has gone smaller. I noticed it a few weeks ago but choose to circumvent the issue. I thought I was being silly, but then I noticed the discolouration of my nuts, too. It’s time to be honest with myself. 

“It’s not just my cock and balls, either, or the changing of my physique,” he said, putting his drink down on the coffee table. “No, it’s bloody not, is it!” 

“Trevor?” Sheila called, her voice cracking. “Is that you down there?”

Who fucking else would it be! he thought, wanting to say it, but couldn’t muster it. “I’ll be up soon.”

“Try not to wake me again,” she said, which was followed by the sound of her retreating footsteps and the slamming of their bedroom door. 

“Pig bitch,” he muttered with a smile, thinking of going up there and waking her with his hard cock. “That would piss her off, but she’d take, just like she always does. She’s a good wifey.”

Trevor settled in his seat and went back to his thoughts. No, my privates and physical appearance are not the only things I’ve noticed a change in. I’m not as driven as I used to be. I was a right go-getter, and I’d step on anyone who got in my way. I’ve lost my bite, and I’m knackered all the time. All I seem to want to do when I’m not visiting Madam Christine (which I can barely manage now) or working is sleep. What is going on?

Ring the doctor tomorrow, the voice said.   

With a nod, Trevor drained his drink, got up, and headed towards the hallway.

“Why do you stay with her, Trevor?” Madam Christine asked.

“Because she’s a loving woman and she takes good care of me.”

“Is that enough, though?”

“What else is there? I have it good.”

When he got to the foot of the staircase, he sighed. Sheila was such an attractive woman when we got together. Smokin’ hot! But a ring on her finger ruined it all. 

“I’ll shed the pounds,” she’d promised, her sex drive dwindling into oblivion.  

Still, it didn’t stop him, no matter how much she protested. 

If it does all come out, he thoughtlooking up the shadowy staircase, then the blame will be put at her doorstep. A man has needs, fantasies and desires, damn it! Trevor huffed. But they’re starting to diminish… I hope there isn’t something seriously wrong with me. Don’t be silly. Just overworkedYeah, either that or my libido is starting to slacken with age. Christ, I’m not that old! 

He climbed the steps and entered the bathroom. After brushing his teeth, peeing and washing his hands, Trevor left the room and went into his bedroom. With the curtains open, the moon shining through, he was able to see Sheila’s large shape beneath the duvet.

Going to snuggle right up to Sheila and stuff my dick in her, he thought, slipping out of his boxers. His prick twitched, but it didn’t come to full life. Trevor looked down at his cock and began to stroke it. “Come on,” he hissed, forcing it hard. That’s better, he smiled. But when he let go of it, it grew lifeless, shrivelling. Jesus, it looks smaller again!What’s happening to my larger-than-life python?! In his panic, he hadn’t heard Sheila’s snoring stop, as he tried rubbing it to life. But the more he tried, the less his prick co-operated. “What’s wrong with it!”

“My, my, you do look ridiculous,” Sheila said, giggling. “Standing there, trousers and boxers around your ankles, trying to coax your ever-growing maggot to its full potential.” 

Trevor looked up and gasped. Sweat dribbled down his forehead and ran into his eyes and mouth. “Don’t laugh!” he said, throwing a hand out and sweeping the photos and trinkets off the tallboy that stood by his side. Glass shattered and pinged off his face, opening a nick across his chin. 

“What did you fucking say?!” she said, throwing the duvet off her and getting out of bed, her feet pounding the floor. The timid woman he had grown to know had disappeared. 

She looks…fierce, he thought, his bollocks retracting. His guts grew cold. Trevor clenched his arse cheeks and fart escaped him.   

“You’re going to clean up that mess, loser! Hell, I might make you pick up the shards with your anus!” she giggled, stomping closer to him, her shadow swallowing his scrawny frame. 

“Who do you think—?” he tried, puffing his chest out, but he withered when Sheila pressed her massive tits against him, shoving him back against the wall and pinning him in place. “Argh! There’s something digging in me!” he whined, his bottom lip quivering. What the fuck is going on here? his mind screamed. 

Sheila struck him across the face with the flat of her hand. “Shut. Up. Or I’ll hurt you worse,” she said, cupping his wrinkled ball sack. “That’s if I can find them.”

“What the hell has come over you? Ugh!” he gasped, her hand tightening. 

“Don’t play stupid, Trevor. I know exactly what’s been going on.”

Argh, my balls!” A tear slid down his cheek. 

“I thought you’d be able to take a lot more punishment than this, lover. I’ve not started yet.”

“Wh-what are…ugh…are you talking…about?” he gasped, pulling his lips back, exposing his gums. P-p-please, Sheila – you’re going to pop ‘em!” 

“They’re not going to be much use to you anyway, Trevor. Shall I remove them? I bet you’d like that, wouldn’t you? You’ll be my little eunuch bitch.”

He started to shake his head, his dick betraying him, as it grew. 

Sheila smiled, but the smile wasn’t full of warmth and caring as usually, he thought. No, it’s cold and bitter; the smile of a twisted, scorned woman. A woman that’s been pushed too far. It dawned on him, that if she knew everything, then he’d been mentally abusing her. I’m a bullyBut on the other hand, I’ve opened her— “Argh!” he blurted, as his nuts were twisted. “Don’t rip them off! Not even Mistress Carla is this rough. There are safe words!” he forced a smile, thinking he knew her game. 

“Safe words? What do you think this is, fucking playtime, cunty?” she spat in his face and ripped downwards on his scrotum, digging and clawing her nails into his flesh. “I’ve been strengthening my grip, too, working on it, ever since I found out what was going on and came to terms with it. I can squash apples, Trevor, so bursting a couple of raises like these won’t be an issue. Is that what you want? Your dick tells me yes. Well, I think it is, because it’s not getting very hard. Is it? No, not these days. It used to stand up so proud, remember? And look, you have titties!”

Jesus, she’s being serious. “I like this game…”

“Game? Game! We’re not playing a game, dickhead! I’ve already told you that! We’re beyond fun, fucker. You’re about to live the real deal. Kiss goodbye to your freedom, because I’ll be running the show from here on out.”

“But-but!”

“But nothing. I own you now. And, if you try and wriggle out of it or say no, then I will burn your fucking life down to the ground! I’ll make sure everyone knows you pay whores for sex, and that you can’t get your dick hard at home. I’ll even post photos and stories all over the internet! You’ll never work around here again. I’ll make sure of that. Unless you fold to me and become my pet,” she smiled, licking her lips. “Fuck, you don’t really have a choice, do you? I just wanted you to know what will happen if you try and fuck with me.”

“Jesus!” he squealed, as Sheila towed him across the room by his nuts. 

“Come with me, bitch.” Trevor squeezed his eyes closed, tears spilling, trying to block out the pain. His hands went hers and he tried pulling her fingers loose. “Don’t make me crush harder, shit face. You wouldn’t want me to rupture something.”

“Okay, okay!” Trevor removed his hands and allowed himself to be manhandled. When the pressure was gone from his bollocks, he thought he was going to vomit as he collapsed to his knees and held himself. “What have you done to me?”

“Can’t you handle a little bit of crushing? God, that ex-mistress of yours must have been a right pussy,” Sheila giggled. “Here, have a look at this, arsehole – it’s going to be your new home,” she said, opening the door to their walk-in wardrobe. “I had it made for you, dog.”

Trevor gawked at the thing before him, which looked like an outsized dog house with a heavy wooden door with bars in its window. “Wh-what is that?!” 

“I told you. Your new home.” Sheila put a heavy foot to his shoulder and pressed down on him. “I’m going to keep you in there and bring you out when I see fit,” Sheila smiled. “That cock of yours is useless now, and I hope you enjoy watching me getting fucked from in there,” she said, hooking a thumb towards the small house. 

“Useless?”

“Yes. Totally. Well, it will be, in another couple of weeks or so.”

“What do you mean?!” 

Sheila grinned. “I’ve rendered it worthless without you knowing.”

“Hang on…”

“Yes?”

“Have you destroyed my manhood?”  

Sheila tittered, placing a hand to her mouth. “I shouldn’t laugh, really, but I can’t help it. God, it’s made me so horny, emasculating such a powerful man.”

“It’s limp because of you?”

“Losing inches, too, aren’t you? At first, I was worried I’d give you a heart attack or kill you, but nope, it worked like a charm. You could have gone blind or started pissing blood, even, because I didn’t really know much about what I was giving you.” 

What?!” Trevor said, the veins in his neck bulging. “The fuck have you done, Sheila?”

 “Relax, sissy boy. You’re still here, aren’t you?” 

“I’ll fucking—” Trevor started, but Sheila flicking her hand out, her knuckles connecting with his lifeless balls. “Ooph! Bitch,” he managed from behind clenched teeth.  

“Still got a bit of fight coursing through you, ‘eh? Well, my little friends will soon knock the last of that out of you, once they’re finished closing down your reproductive system.” 

“No! I won’t take anything you give me. You can’t make me!”

“I’ve been lacing your meals and drinks.”

“No more!”

Sheila kicked him in the guts. “You fucking will, worm, if you want to live.”

“Wh-what do you mean?”

“I’ll continue drugging your food. You won’t know when it’s coming. And, if you want to keep breathing, you’ll have to eat and hydrate,” she laughed. 

“Bitch!”

Miss Bitch to you, fucker.” Sheila turned, bent over, and picked up a crop that lay close by. “Now, into your home, boy,” she said, whipping Trevor about the face, neck, head and chest. 

“Ah, fuck! Fuck!” He scrambled backwards on his arse, using his hands and feet, fleeing the torture as he entered the cage. “Please, no more!”

Sheila rushed towards him and slammed the door shut on his prison, locking it in place. Trevor watched as she plucked the key from the lock, the Yale attached to a chain, and it placed around her neck. “It’ll stay right there,” she said, patting the key that lay between the crevice of her tits. “Now, be a good boy, Trevor, and do as I say to a pleasing standard if you do, you might be rewarded.”

“Don’t do this! You’re playing, right?” Trevor said, pressing his face to the door’s bars, his hands wrapping them. 

No!” she said, whipping his fingertips. “This is for your own good, Trevor.”

“Argh! Fuck!”

“Carry on like this, and your first meal will be a Sheila shit sandwich washed down with a glass of piss. Now, silence! I need my sleep.” 

Trevor crawled to the back of his home and sniffled. “Why?” he asked, watching as Sheila picked up a large blanket. 

With a smile, she turned to him. “You can’t keep quiet, can you, maggot!”

“Please…”

“Okay, but once I’ve told you, I want peace. Do you understand?”

“Ye-yes.”

“Yes, what?”

“Yes, Sheila.”

No, you fucking insubordinate mongrel!”

Ma’am! Yes, ma’am!” he whimpered and blubbered. 

“I took action against you because I was fed up. I was pissed off with your constant libido, the forced sex, constant hard-ons, your rubbing up against me, feeling my tits – you were like a fucking dog with two dicks! Always excited. And I knew what you wanted – what you desired deep down. At first, I knew I couldn’t give it to you, so I was happy for you to pay your whores. It was a relief at first because you gave me little attention, but you soon started again, didn’t you? So, I snapped, worm. There’s only so much anyone can take. Maybe if you’d stopped pestering me completely, we wouldn’t be at this juncture.”

“I’ll be good! Please!”

“Too late. Besides, I’m enjoying myself too much. You’ve awoken something in me.”

“You could have spoken to me, Sh—Ma’am.”

“No, there was no talking to you. You couldn’t hear me over your pathetic horniness and erections and panting. You were like an eager fourteen-year-old who’d just seen a pair of tits for the first time.”

“So you hurt me?”

“Still alive, aren’t you?”

“You could have divorced me!”

“Nah, I like the lifestyle too much. I knew I had to come up with a better way to sort things out, so I started planning.” 

“Whore!”

“Now, now, worm. Do I have to punish those raises of yours?”

“What have you been giving me?”

“It’s glorious what you can find on the black market. After I read an interesting article online about chemical castration, I went digging on the dark web and found drugs that had once been used by the Russian military to ‘sedate’ their troops by suppressing their testosterone.”

“Oh, Jesus…”

Sheila snorted. “Yeah. And, as it turns out, the drug worked too well. The Russian hierarchy and scientists discovered their little creation was overpowerful. After an ex-number of doses were administrated, it closed down the generative system and shrank everything. This, in turn, however, depressed the troops and left them unable to train and fight. The project was deemed a failure.”

Trevor’s mouth sagged. “You’re joking? Please, tell me you’re joking!”

Sheila shook her head and piggy-laughed. “Seeing the drug do its thing on you was amazing. My g-spot’s never had it so good.”

“I’m sorry,” he tried. 

“I don’t give a shit, faggot.” Sheila stepped closer. “Now, it’s sleep time. Mistress needs her rest. I’ll be along in a few hours with your breakfast. How does dog food and a glass of vomit sound, shithead? I’ve even bought you your very own dog bowl, slave. Now, thank your Mistress, there’s a good boy.”

Trevor looked at her, mouth agape. “I can’t believe—”

“Don’t make me come in there and thrash you!”

He eyed her, detecting the seriousness in her eyes. This can’t be happening, he thought. 

“Well?”

“Thank you, Ma’am.”

“That’s good. Now, sleep tight,” Sheila said, raising the blanket. “Tomorrow, if you’re lucky, I’ll let you meet my stud. He’s a huge black guy, and he’s going to enjoy having you suck his prick.”

Trevor shrank further into the cage. “N-no…”

“Goodnight,” she winked, throwing the blanket over his prison. 

“No!” he wailed. “No!”

“Oh, what fun we’re going to have, dear,” she said. “You lucky thing.” 

Noooo!” Trevor continued, hearing the light switch click off and the door to the walk-in wardrobe close and lock. “Ma’am! Please! Please!” he continued, his pleas falling on deaf ears…        

Judge Santiago Burdon

Don’t Want To Die In Jersey

It was an unusually hot day for November in Boston. Father Murphy had just finished mass and was on the church steps bidding a good day to members of the congregation as they left.

Just then, Sean McLaughlin came running up the steps in a frenzy, asking Father Murphy for his help with a serious matter. Without pause, he escorted Sean inside to the safety of the church.

“What is it my son? What has got you so terrified? You’re trembling.”

“Father, I was at the Farmer’s Market, and there I saw the Grim Reaper searching for a soul to take. He looked directly at me. I’m sure he’s here to take me. I ignored his stare, turned and ran away. What should I do Father? Please help me, I’m not ready to die.”

“I think you should probably get out of town. Find a place to lie low for a while and let this incident blow over.”

“Where do I go so the Reaper won’t find me? I can’t think of anywhere.”

“I’ve got it! New Jersey! Yep that’s it, New Jersey is where you’ll find refuge.”

“Are you sure Father? New Jersey? Maybe I should stay here in Boston and find a place to hide. New Jersey seems a bit extreme.”

“No Sean, Jersey. Not even God would set foot in there. I feel certain the Grim Reaper won’t follow you into Jersey. I have a close friend at Saint Francis Church in Hackensack, Father Thompson. I’ll give him a call and fill him in on your situation. He’s a good man and will take care of you.” 

“Yes but New Jersey is a fate I consider worse than death.”

“Well that’s all I’ve got. You should take a bus, don’t drive your car and stay out of Atlantic City. The casinos breed an atmosphere of sin and you don’t want to give him an excuse to confront you. Now hurry to the Bus station and get outta Boston . I’ll pray for you my son.” 

“Thanks Father, I’ll leave right away.”

Sean caught the next bus to New Jersey and seemed to have eluded the Grim Reaper. Meanwhile, Father Murphy took it upon himself to investigate Sean’s claim of the Reaper in the neighborhood and proceeded to the Farmer’s Market. 

The outdoor event was crowded with Sunday afternoon shoppers enjoying the warm weather. Standing next to the organic vegetable booth Father Murphy saw the figure draped in black with his trademark scythe. Clutching his Rosary in  hand he walked toward the ominous creature to confront him about stalking Sean.

“Good afternoon Mr. Grim Reaper, I’m Father Murphy from Saint Peter’s Church and would like to ask you a question.”

‘Yes Father Murphy I’m familiar with your work. I’ve attended some of your funeral services. You’ve got a nice touch in your eulogies, very sincere. Go ahead fire away, what do you want to ask?”

“Earlier today one of my congregation was here at the Farmer’s Market and noticed you on the prowl to collect his soul. He was naturally upset about his impending death and ran to the church to escape your wrath.”

“Really? I don’t remember confronting anyone earlier. I am here to collect the soul of Catherine Mcbride, she’s about to suffer a massive aneurysm.  Let me check my schedule. What is his name?”

“Sean McLaughlin, he’s maybe thirty-five years old and a good Catholic.”

“No, no, no, I don’t see him on the schedule. Wait, here he is…” The Reaper chuckles while turning pages. “Listen to this. He’s not scheduled for Soul Collection until tomorrow night in of all places, Hackensack, New Jersey.  New Jersey, now that’s some bad luck. Damn, I hate having to visit New Jersey!”

Joseph Farley

Hog City Needs You

It was a slow day in Hog City, at least it was until Mickey Finster ran into the Sheriff’s office. 

“Sheriff Clapp. Come quick! There’s trouble over at the whorehouse!”

Fortunately, Sheriff Clapp had already finished butt fucking his deputy and had already been in the process of zipping up his fly.

“What’s wrong?” He asked.

“There’s been a major burglary,” shouted Finster. “And the crook’s done been seen making off with the goods.”

Clapp hustled across the street to McMurty’s Saloon and Pleasure House. It was the only house of ill repute around for over fifty miles. It and the railway emergency coaling station were the only things that kept Hog City going.

Sheriff Clapp entered through the swinging doors. He eyed the bar. There was the usual selection of drunk cowboys and professional gamblers. He went over to Sam, the bartender, who told him to go upstairs to see Miss Felicia.

As he climbed the stairs, he could hear Miss Felicia crying, “A three hunert dollar investment gone, just like that.”

The sheriff found Miss Felicia in a small room containing not much more than a bed and a stand for a wash basin. Miss Felicia had been put out to pasture as a whore after a thirty years in the sporting life. She had taken what little she had, turning tricks where and when she could until she scraped up enough money to buy into the saloon as a partner. Her role was finding and managing the whores. Now, Miss Felicia sat on the bed, all three hundred pounds of her. Tears had made her make up run in blue streaks down her face. Her gray hair, tinged with henna, seemed to have collapsed from its normal tower on her head into a tangle running down her back.

“What’s wrong Miss Felicia?” Sheriff Clapp asked.

Miss Felicia’s eyes brightened. “Thank goodness you are here. Billy Hodges done stole Nancy Jenkins right out the window. The two of them climbed down bed sheets and rode off on Billy’s horse.”

Sheriff Clapp was thunderstruck. “He did what?” 

He knew Billy Hodges. He was a young layabout, a sometime cow puncher and farmhand, would be gambler, and outlaw wannabe. He’d expected Billy to wind up more or less on the right side of the law most of the time, and finish his days respectfully, drunk in the gutter just like his father. This was a big step for Billy Hodges, and Sheriff Clapp wasn’t sure he liked it. Nancy Jenkins was the youngest and best looking whore at McMurty’s, making her the youngest and best looking whore around for more than fifty miles around. This did not set well with Sheriff Clapp. Without Nancy Jenkins around, how would he while away his Sunday afternoons? He had just gotten her to the point where the last bit of girlish squeamishness was gone, and she would let him indulge in any activity he fancied with her, even three ways with his horse or deputy. Without her, the next best whore was Wallpaper Sally, but Sheriff Clapp didn’t like the scabs on Sally’s cunt. They scratched his cock when he slid it in to her. She’d pick’em if a customer complained, to make things slide in easier, but that didn’t make the ride any more appealing to some folks, Sheriff Clapp included. But, Clapp couldn’t let his own feelings affect the way he did his job. At least not now, while he was in town. Anyone could be listening.

“How do you know,” Clapp asked. “that Nancy was stolen? Er, kidnapped. Sounds like she might have gone with Billy of her own accord.”

“It’s all the same,” Miss Felicia said. “Either Billy stole her or she stole herself. Either way my property is gone and so is my livelihood.”

“You can’t own a person,” Clapp said. “We fought a war about that.”

“Don’t give me that crap,” Miss Felicia shouted. “This ain’t no person. This is a whore. I know whores. I’ve been one near all my life. Whores just can’t up and go as they please. They is owned by the madam or the whore master. They can kiss the cock or kiss the whip, but they ain’t going nowhere unless their pimp or madam says so. Nancy has three more years on her contract with me, and it says right in there time is added on to work off her food, clothing, and medical expenses, plus and extra two years for every time she tries to run off.”

“Nancy signed a contract?”

“I’ve got a paper with her X on it.”

“Sounds like breach of contract. I don’t know if that is for me to look into, but I’ll find her to see if she went off on her own or was kidnapped.”

“Stolen,” Miss Felicia corrected him.

Sheriff Clapp left the saloon. He knew well enough what Nancy and Billy looked like, and had a fair idea where they’d be heading. He figured they would be looking for a preacher or a way out of the county, or possibly going to hole up together in the old Hodges’ cabin. That was if Nancy had gone away on her own. If not, Billy might be off raping and killing her if he’d lost his mind. If he was smart, Billy might be taking her to sell to another whorehouse or to work the streets for him in a city. But, Sheriff Clapp didn’t think Billy was that crazy or that smart. He was just dumb enough to fall in love with a whore, or think he could save her.

On the street Old Man Fletcher ran up to Clapp. “I just heard about Nancy,” Fletcher said. “You gotta get her back. She has these lips, they’re almost prehensile. She wraps them around your cock and…” Fletcher stopped himself, as if suddenly thinking this wasn’t the right thing to say. “Listen,” he continued. “You have to get her back. The economy of this whole town is dependent on that whorehouse, and without Nancy, there are really no whores there worth having. No Nancy, no whorehouse. No whorehouse, no town. You gotta bring her back.”

Clapp said he’d do what he could do. He had a lot of respect for Fletcher. After the war, Clapp had come west. He’d tried work as a cowboy and as a rustler. He’d worked laying track, and robbing trains. There had been no job he really liked or was good at. The only talent he had was with a gun. Fletcher saw something in him. He had given him a chance as a hired gun guarding his small bank. And later, with Fletcher’s influence, Clapp had been made sheriff of Hog City. The job had got him respect, and a home. Without it, he’d have never met his wife Hilda, or gotten the chance to start a family. Law or no law, Clapp had a lasting debt to Fletcher that he meant to pay back. He would bring back Nancy. He saddled his horse.

He called to his deputy, “If I’m not back with her by sundown tomorrow, get a pussy, er, posse, and come lookin’.”

Sheriff Clapp road out of town. Both his pistols were loaded. A rifle lay across the pommel of his horse. Billy’d probably put up a fight, which was okay by him. Likely the boy would be lynched if Clapp brought him back to town alive. He never liked selfish folk. Nancy was the best lookin’ and best fuckin’ woman in these parts, There weren’t a man or boy around who wouldn’t kill to get his share of her. The nerve of that boy. He checked Hodges’ place. They weren’t there. So he road off towards Johnny Blog’s homestead. Blog had been a preacher in his younger days, before he discovered the joys of whiskey and fucking sheep. Might be that Billy and Nancy had sought out Blog for a quick wedding.

Blog was in the barn with his pants down when Clapp rode up. Blog’s hands were full with the back legs of a ewe. Clapp called to him.

“Just a minute,” Blog shouted. “I’m almost done.”

Clapp waited patiently for the man to finish. Blog came out of the barn, his overalls were back on. He was wiping his hands on a rag. “Thanks for waiting. Had to tenderize some meat before it goes to market. What can I do for you Sheriff? Been a long while since you been out these parts.”

“Lookin’ for a thief. Billy Hodges done run off with Nancy Jenkins.”

“Why that lying bastard. He was here not an hour ago. Said he bought her fair and square. I didn’t think he had that kind of money, but he said he had a real good hand at poker.”

“He was here? An hour ago? What did he want?”

“What ya think? He wanted me to hitch him to Nancy. I said sure, for five dollars. He didn’t have five dollars. So I said, okay, how’s two. He didn’t have two. So I said, Nancy’s a hard working girl who knows a lot of tricks. Why don’t the two of you get naked with me and some of the sheep and y’all can work it off. He cursed me out somethin’ fierce and told me they’d ride down to the old Spanish mission and look up the old priest there who works with the injuns.”

“Thanks for the information.” Clapp tipped his hat and spurred his horse.

Blog shouted after him, “Bring her back! We need a piece of ass like that around here.”

It was dark when Sheriff Clapp reached the mission. He could see candle light in the church. He rode straight up to the door and burst through on his horse. The priest looked up in surprise. His cassock was up around his waist exposing his hairy legs and long thin cock. He was standing over Nancy who was naked on all fours giving him head while Billy did her ass.

“Madre Dios!” the priest screamed and pulled down his cassock.

“You done already?” Nancy growled. 

Billy whirled around reaching for his gun, but Sheriff Clapp drilled a hole in his chest.

“Now why’d you do that?” Nancy screamed. “You coulda had some if you just waited.”

“Murderer!” the priest said pointing at Clapp, so the sheriff plugged him too. He never liked papists. 

“You’re comin’ with me Nancy. Hog City needs you.”

He pulled the naked girl onto his horse and road back out of the church. He fucked her three times on the way back to town, once while they were still riding.

Clapp apologized to Nancy for ruining her wedding. She didn’t seem too upset. 

“I didn’t know how boring he was until I had to spend all day with him,” she explained. “Guess its for the best. I’d probably have run off on him in a week or two anyway.”

“Well, I’ll see that you get back safe where you belong, at McMurty’s, where we all love and care about you.”

“That’s sweet,” she said and gave him a hug. 

Clapp felt another hard-on coming on, but it would have to wait. His cock was feeling sore now, it burned when he peed and a milky substance was leaking out from the tip. He dropped Nancy off at McMurty’s. Miss Felicia gave her a good whipping and let him watch. It made his heart feel good. When he got home, he poured himself a tall glass of whiskey and soaked his cock in it. Later, he drained the glass and was ready to meet the world again.

John Yohe

At the Gate

when the two friends could no longer avoid the angry men with guns + atvs + leafblowers, they made their way to the gates of the walled city just before sundown and knocked on the small steel door to the side of the gates. a small slit opened. two eyes appeared in the slit, flicking under long lashes from one man to the other. —what do you want?! we dont allow straight white men!

—please, said one. we/re not like those others. he gestured behind them. —we/re hungry.

—are you jewish?

the man tilted his head slightly. —what?

—are you jewish? you look jewish.

—well, i mean, yes. secular though.

—thats fine. do you believe in israel?

—i/m sorry? believe?

the person behind the slit sighed. —believe in the right of return?

he shrugged. —i guess? i dont believe in the killing of palestinians tho. or their displacement, of course.

the eyes glared. —wrong answer. we dont take muslim extremists!

—im not muslim! i told, i/m athiest—

—we dont allow muslim extremist sympathizers! you/re either with us or against us!

—but…i just think the palestinians should me treated equally, like humans—

—sorry jew boy. jewish self-haters arent allowed!

—but—

—move along!

the first man stared at the glaring eyes for some seconds, then turned to his friends. —if you can still get in, do it! i/ll meet you somewhere!

—i/m not leaving you!

—no! the orange people are too close! theres no other way. its either/or!

—its never either/or!

—just do it! go!

the first man ran from his friend, away from the walled city towards the hills. his friends stared after him.

—straight white men not allowed! you may as well go after him!

the man turned to the glaring eyes. —but we—i—just want shelter. water. maybe a pizza?

—no straight white men. are you gay? closeted?

—uh….

—do you want to suck dick?

—excuse me?

—do you want to suck dick? fantasize about it?

—well, i mean, in certain fantasies. but i like women!

—too bad. are you bi? that counts.

—i mean, i have fantasies about being forced to wear womens underwear while my girlfriend laughs + has sex with a real man.

—cuckolds dont count. but are you trans?

—um, i dont know? i dont think so?

—are you a little bitch?

—i mean, maybe?

—do you feel like a little bitch in the presence of real men?

—maybe? but that doesnt make me a woman, does it?

—well, it doesnt make you a man.

—i guess thats true.

—we have a womens mountain mike race this weekend. if i let you in, you could sign up.

—oh, that wouldnt me fair. i mean, i/d sign up for the mens race.

—ah ha! i knew it! you are a man! your politics are so transparent!

—thats not politics. thats like, social issues.

—i knew it! cisgender male!

—what do you mean?! politics is about the exploitation of the working class!

—communist! socialist! anarchist! you/re like the dead white men you read!

—look, if you dont let me in, i will be dead! the conservative christians want to kill me because i/m not pro-life!

—if it wasnt for men like you, women wouldnt have to worry about abortions. get the fuck out of here!

—seriously?!

—seriously!

the slit closed. the man stared at it. he turned to the distant roar and dust cloud of atvs and leafblowers coming closer.

Joseph Farley

Hey, Johnny

I was running late as usual, but I had promised to hang out with the guys at Johnny’s Night Club. When I arrived the bouncer, Johnny Blot, nodded and let me in. Security was always tight at Johnny’s Night Club. 

As soon as I walked through the door someone called out my name.

“Look who it is. Johnny Comelately. You’re never on time.”

It was Johnny Swansong, manager and part owner of the club. He gripped my hand.

“Good to see you Johnny boy.”

“You too Johnny.”

“A lot of your friends are here tonight. There’s Johnny Onebrow at the bar.”

Johnny Onebrow waved, martini in hand.

“Hi, Johnny. Glad you could make it.”

“Me too.”

Johnny Hygiene came out of the restroom area. 

“Johnny Comelately! Good to see ya.”

We met half way across the floor. He pumped my hand. His hand was still wet, but I didn’t mention it. 

“What have you been up to you old rascal?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “A bit of this, a bit of that. And you?”

“The same. Insurance. That and the family. Keeps me running.”

I spotted Johnny Memento at a table with Johnny Hardon.

“Hey Johnny,” I said and meant it for both of them.

Johnny Memento smiled. “Wow Johnny. Long time no see. What has it been, a year?”

“More like three months.”

“Really? Could have fooled me. Takes me back to when we were kids. Remember when Johnny Bigarm threw that touchdown pass to me in the championship?”

“Sure do. Bounced out of your hands, off my helmet and back into your arms.”

“Those were some times. Weren’t they? Seems like yesterday.”

“Been fourteen years, but I’ll never forget it.”

“And the crowd! They went wild.”

“Sure did.”

“And Betty Lu Johnnyson from the cheerleading squad kissed me, and we went out after that for the next two years.”

“Great times. What have you been up to since I last saw you?”

“Same old, same old. Still working in my uncle’s funeral parlor, sharing stories with the old stiffs.”

“Sounds good.”

I turned to the other Johnny. “How about you? How have you been doing?”

“Can’t complain,” said Johnny Hardon. “Have a hot date later tonight. Remember Yolanda from chemistry class in college?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, she just got divorced. Hasn’t aged much at all. And guess who she wants to help her get back into circulation?”

“Johnny Hardon.”

“You got it mister.”

Johnny Swansong tapped my shoulder. “Sorry to interrupt, but one of the reasons I wanted you to come by and hang out for a change was to check out a new act. I’m thinking your boss, Johnny Platinum, might check him out himself if you put in a good word.”

“Okay. I’ll have a listen.”

I was used to these types of requests. Johnny Platinum was a top record producer in the area with connections to some of the big companies. I often got a nice tip along with a request, but Johnny Swansong was an old friend. I let it pass when it turned out the envelope was a bit light.

Johnny Swansong escorted me into the big room where a five-piece band had just finished setting up.

“What are they called? There’s no sign.”

“Just listen first.”

“Hi, Mr. Swansong,” yelled a young kid from the stage. Couldn’t be more than nineteen.

“She the singer? Easy on the eye.”

“Martha? Not the singer, but in the band. Rhythm guitar and tambourine. Does some backup. Good kid. I mean really good.” He grinned. “She’s why I hired them in the first place, but now it’s about the music. Just the music.”

“Who’s the singer?”

“The skinny blond guy. Martha’s brother. You have to hear this guy’s voice. I think they’re going places.”

We sat down at a table, ordered some drinks. I saw some familiar faces in the crowd. Johnny Spine, my chiropractor, and his lady; Johnny Wholesale and his gal; Johnny Narc, and Johnny Looselips, and a bunch of others. We listened while the band ran through their set. Some covers, a few originals. Pop, light rock, a little heavy metal. But the voice of the lead singer. The voice. 

“They play okay,” I said, “But you are right about the singer. Just needs the right material. I’ll talk to my boss. “

I gave Johnny Platinum a call. Asked what he was doing. He wasn’t busy. I suggested he stopped by and catch the band. They were playing three sets that night. Johnny Platinum said he’d try to make it. 

I let Johnny Swansong know that Johnny Platinum might stop by. Johnny Swansong thanked me and slipped another envelope into my pocket. The night was getting better.

Johnny Platinum stopped by around midnight, just before the final set. Johnny Swansong was more than cordial, explained he sort of represented the band in a semi-official way. We got a good table in the second row and sat back to see what happened. The final set had more songs, more range, and better instrumentals as if the first two sets were warm ups, or adrenaline or something else had gotten them juiced up. But they still weren’t great. Except for that voice. It was all about the voice. The lead singer had a gift. Johnny Platinum agreed with Johnny Swansong. There was a chance to make money here. With the right songs, the right music, the right costumes, and, of course, the right promotion, who knew what could happen.

After the show Johnny Swansong brought the band over to meet Johnny Platinum. Johnny Platinum extended his hand to the singer. The other Johnnys at the table stuck out their hands as well. There was a lot of shaking and pumping before getting down to business.

“You’ve got a set of tonsils there,” said Johnny Platinum. “What’s your name?”

“Bobby Healey. Together we’re Bobby and the Floaters.”

Johnny Platinum laughed, “What kind of name is that for a band? That’s gotta change. Look, you sound good, not great, but you need proper guidance. I might have Johnny Comelately here throw together a contract for you to review for an album and a small tour, if you’re interested. Not a lot of money to start. A percentage. Maybe an advance. But who knows what can happen in a year of two with luck and hard work. But you have to be willing to make compromises.”

Bobby looked at his sister who nodded.

“We’re interested,” said Bobby. “What kind of compromises.”

“First thing, the name. What kind of name is Bobby and the Floaters? Come on. You gotta change the name.”

“You don’t like The Floaters?”

“I can work with that,’ said Johnny Platinum. “Though you could make it easier for me by opting for a different band name or different band altogether. If you want to keep the band as it is, we might be able to do a deal, but they’ll need to get a lot better. It would be easier to swap players, but I’m willing to give it a try. But Bobby and the Floaters… that Bobby part has to go.”

“What do you suggest?” asked Bobby. “Just go with The Floaters?”

“You can do that or you could change Bobby to another name.”

“Like what?”

“How about Johnny? It’s warm, friendly, people can relate to it. I can go with Johnny and the Floaters. That’s bankable. Sounds marquee. Sounds much better than just The Floaters, and a hell of a lot better than Bobby and the Floaters. Though, like I said, the band might need to be reconstructed. Down the line. I’m willing to give them a shot, but they have to earn it. You on the other hand, you’re in. You can sing. I can work with you. If we can reach an agreement about the name thing.”

“But my name’s Bobby.”

“About that.” Johnny Platinum scratched his chin. “Healey is not a good name for a singer either. It don’t quite go with a great name like Johnny.”

“You think I should change it?”

“For professional purposes only. No offense to your family, you know.”

“What kind of name do you have in mind?”

“How does Johnny Scales sound? You got your Johnny, which everybody loves, and then Scales, a name that means something cause you can hit the high notes and the low notes. That’s the kind of name that audiences and investors eat up in Johnnytown.”

“The world’s bigger than Johnnytown,” the kid mumbled.

“It sure is,” said Johnny Platinum. “But you gotta start somewhere, and you’re in Johnnytown. If you want to win in Johnnytown, you need to be Johnny Scales or Johnny something else. But not Healey. It will sell some tickets, but not enough. You have to give the people what they want, and in Johnnytown they want a Johnny, but not a Johnny Healey. Healey doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t say anything about you. You need to either go with the flow or wind up a schmo.”

“I’ll think about it Mr. Platinum. I’ll definitely think about it.”

“You can call me Johnny. But don’t think about it too long. After tomorrow I may have changed my mind. There are a lot of bands out there.”

Martha whispered to her brother, “Just do it. Johnny’s your middle name anyway. That part should be easy for you, and you’re real name will still be Bobby Healey.”

Bobby sighed.

“Okay. You can call me Johnny Scales.”

“Good,” said Johnny Platinum. “We’re all simpatico. Let’s have a drink to celebrate.” He invited the band to sit at the table. Johnny Swansong signaled the waitresses to accommodate them. When all had a glass of something alcoholic in their hands, Johnny Platinum raised his in a toast.

“To the next big thing in Johnnytown. Johnny and the Floaters.”

He drained his glass, then added, “and after Johnnytown, who knows? The sky’s the limit… with a change or two.”

I had to agree. 

Ben Fitts

God Doesn’t Believe In Me

God doesn’t believe in me. It’s a real problem. I’ve met Him like three times, and each time He just covers His face with His Hands and starts singing “la la la” really loudly whenever I try talking. 

I’m told by mutual friends that soon as I leave the room, God always starts ranting about how there’s no actual proof that Marshall Greenbaum actually exists. He’ll go on about how I’m just a myth invented a long time ago by people who felt like the need to convince themselves that there was yet another twenty-nine year old hipster in Brooklyn. He’ll poke holes in my existence, like wondering how it is that I pay rent on my nice Williamsburg apartment when my only source of income is a barista job, or why it is that I supposedly graduated from Sarah Lawrence yet still repeatedly refer to Yonkers as upstate New York. 

I always thought He was a bit of a self-important asshole, so I didn’t mind too much at first. But a few days ago my doctor spotted an inoperable tumor the size of a golf ball sitting on my cerebral cortex, and for the first time in my life I actually felt glad that I ran in the same social circles as God. I’m lucky that God never misses one of Kayla’s parties. 

He’s over in the corner of the party, talking to some cute gothy girl with blue streaks in her hair. He’s leaning in close to her as He talks so that He can be heard over the Tame Impala song blasting on the speakers, but I think it’s just an excuse to see if she minds Him invading her personal space. She doesn’t. 

The girl bends over when she realizes that the laces of one of her Dr. Marten boots have come undone. God doesn’t bother hiding that He’s staring down at the cleavage poking out of her black crop top as she ties the lace, and He doesn’t even notice the edge of His long white beard plop into his beer-filled solo cup as He does so. God is kind of a dog. 

There’s a pause in their conversation as the goth girl ties and God oggles, so I figure now is a good time to approach Him. If He goes home with her, then I’m done for the night. I weave my way through the party, giving polite nods to friends I pass, and approach God and the girl. She finishes tying her shoe as I reach them. 

“So, as I was saying, I really don’t like this era of Tame Impala very much,” drones God as the girl rises back up. “Lonerism and Innerspeaker were both masterpieces of modern psychedelia, but they really sold out with Currents. And don’t even get Me started on The Slow…”

“Hi God,” I interrupt as I approach them. 

God turns to look at me, and His eyes grow wide. Then He covers His eyes with His hands, allowing His solo cup to drop onto the floor and spill Goose Island IPA all over Kayla’s carpet.

“God, I have a favor to ask,” I begin. “The other day my doctor…”

“La, la, la” sings God monochromatically. 

“My doctor said,” I continue, raising my voice to now compete with both God’s signing and Kevin Parker’s. “That there’s a tumor growing…”

“La, la, la, la!” sings God with increased intensity. “La, la, la, la, la!” 

His singing has begun taking on the melody of “Eleanor Rigby”, and I wonder if He has noticed. 

“What the fuck is happening?” asks the goth girl. 

“La, la, la!” sings God. 

I step forward and grab God’s wrists, clutching them by the edges of His white robe. I tug His hands off His eyes, forcing God to look me in the face. 

“La, la, la, la!” sings God, His voice growing shrill but still carrying the tune of “Eleanor Rigby”, albeit now in a higher octave. 

“Just shut up and listen to me,” I yell at God. “There’s a tumor growing on my brain, and You’re the only one who can save my life!”

God abruptly stops singing. For the first time ever, He stares right at me with His big dark eyes and really takes me in. 

“I can’t save you, Marshall,” says God in a calm, steady voice. “Because you’re not real. So there’s nothing to save, you see?”

“But I am real,” I insist to God. “Look at me, I’m right here.” 

“I’m just going to let you guys figure this one out,” interjects the goth girl as she inches away from us. 

“Cassie, wait,” God calls after her. “Let Me get your number!” 

Cassie continues walking away from us until she is swallowed up by the party around us, dissolving into the crowd. God turns back to me and glares. 

“Way to ruin that for Me, dude,” grumbles God. “We were totally going to boink.” 

“Sorry,” I mutter. 

I’d usually feel bad about cockblocking some dude, but I had bigger concerns at the moment than whether or not God got His rocks off. 

“I haven’t gotten a piece of goth ass that nice since Mary Shelley,” He carped. “And then nearly two-hundred years later it looks like I’m finally going to get to revisit the peak of My sexual existence, and it only takes Marshall Greenbaum two minutes to completely blow it for Me.” 

A thought blooms in my brain. 

“If I’m not real, then how could I have ruined that for you?” I argue.

“People who aren’t real ruin things all the time,” shrugs God. “Holden Caulfield is fictional, and he’s the reason John Lennon is dead. And, come to think of it, John Lennon is the reason Sharon Tate is dead. I wonder if that’s connected somehow.” 

“Okay, you’ve got me there,” I admit. “But You can’t have a conversation with Holden Caulfield, except by reading some scribbles made by a man who died over a decade ago. You’re talking to me right in the flesh. How do You explain that?” 

“You’re talking to Me right now in the flesh, and there’s plenty of people who don’t believe in Me,” says God. “I’ve met Richard Dawkins like three times, and each time he just covers his face with his hands and starts singing ‘la la la’ really loudly whenever I try talking. It’s a real problem.” 

I stare at God, dumbfounded.

“Do you really not see the irony in that?”

“How do you mean?” asks God, cocking a bushy white eyebrow. 

“That’s exactly what You do to me!” I exclaim. 

“No it isn’t,” says God dismissively as He shakes His head. 

God’s eyes widen. 

“Oh My Me,” whispers God. “You’re right, I do do that.”

“Yes, exactly,” I say. “See, I am real! Now, please cure my cancer.” 

“What if Richard Dawkins is right,” murmurs God as He vacantly stares off into the distance. “What if I’m not real?” 

The color has drained from God’s face and He trembles as He speaks. 

“What if I’m not real,” He repeats. 

“Hey God, I think You’re drawing literally the opposite conclusion from what I was going for,” I say. “I’m trying to prove that I am real, not that You’re not. You see what I mean?” 

“I’m not real at all, am I?” says God. “I’m just a figment of humanity’s imagination.”

“Of course You’re real,” I argue. “I’m talking to You right now. Just like You’re talking to me. We’re both real, see?”

God leans against the wall and collapses His face into Hands. He murmurs something to Himself, but whatever it is muffled by His palms. But I can more or less guess the gist of what He’s saying. 

“Come on, God. You’re messing with me,” I say. “There’s no way that You’re concept of self is so fragile. You’re God, for fuck’s sake.” 

God collapses onto the floor and hugs His robed knees close to His chest.

“I’m not real!” screams God. “I’m not real, I’m not real, I’m not real!” 

As God repeats those words, He begins to fade away. 

“I’m not real!” declares God one last time. 

Then He winks away into nothing at all. 

“Did I just kill God?” I say aloud to no one in particular. 

Around me, the universe begins to shake.

Hank Kirton

Kelp

The summer I collected kelp was the longest summer of my life (unless you consulted a calendar). I was living in a flop house and working at a clam shack by the vast, vast, vast (salty) Atlantic in South Kingstown, Rhode Island and on my day off I would walk along the shore, collecting kelp in a Hefty bag. The beaches were a goldmine, as long as you coveted kelp. I had lines of jump-rope hanging across my room and I draped the strips of kelp over the ropes. I heard somewhere you could make kelp lasagna but I never tried that. I did not eat the kelp. I just needed it around. I was a seeker.

I left the windows open and along with the kelp, I began to collect flies. You should’ve seen them— hundreds of little black bacteria bugs sucking on all those drying, stinking strands of kelp. The smell reminded me of my Aunt Edie without the minty snap of Wrigley’s spearmint. It was like having a tide pool right there beside my bed. It informed my dreams like sea shanties from doomed sailors. I got the message. Soft and clear. The flies never got annoying, I honestly loved the little buggers, but eventually my neighbors began to complain about them and the rotten sea-smell wafting into the hall. They worried about corpses, like I was a serial killer or somesuch thing. My tenuous tenancy at the house grew controversial. I kept to my kelp. The buzzing of the flies spoke to me in the middle of the night like radio waves tripping off my fillings (tooth decay is the bane of my existence). The language of the flies was transmitted in a long staccato drone. Zzzzt…zzzzt…zzzzt… The buzzes amounted to endless Zen questions, “………….?”

“……………?”

“……….?”

The answers came in abrupt, declarative buzzes:

“……..!”

The flies led to cryptically silent maggots, of course, and they squirmed even more fundamental questions. There they were, scattered on the floor like wriggling rice, uttering the unutterable, ineffable truths that rightly belonged to the cosmic dance of the planets.

The orbits of the flies were spiral galaxies and I watched them like moving maps of the vast, vast, vast universe.

I was also smoking a fair amount of dope at the time.

I continued to collect and drape seaweed until September when I abruptly stopped.

I had my answers. I moved on.

I left the kelp for the next guy.

*

From: Everything Dissolves