Doug Hawley

Good Demons

***

Undercover

Beverly woke up at 2am after doing some ill-advised self-medicating the night before.  She heard some scratching and bumping noises and mumbled “What the hell is that?”

A voice which resembled that of James Earl Jones came from under her bed “I’m the night monster”.

A groggy Beverly slurred “No you’re not; I’m either dreaming or you are a side effect of mixing vodka and my migraine prescription.  I don’t believe in you.”

“Oh, you will, but if as you say I’m not real, you wouldn’t mind if I get in bed with you.”

“Sure, why not.  I don’t have any need for the extra space.”  Beverly fell asleep again after what appeared to be a human male in the faintly lit room had crawled in next to her. 

When she next woke, she decided no more mixing alcohol and meds, then rolled over and bumped into something.  She felt scales on a mostly human body and a normal bald head.  The body spoke “Do you believe in me now?” 

After a few seconds to calm herself “Still not sure – it could be aftereffects.” 

“Do you mind if I convince you?” 

“Go ahead.” 

The night monster burrowed under the covers and used his long-forked tongue to full advantage while humming the Led Zeppelin song ‘Kashmir’.  Beverly had an orgasm which produced body waves accompanied by a mental montage of her favorite times – she cuddled her favorite kitten Batface, had sex with boyfriend Joe in the backseat of a Ford Mustang when she was a teenager, and won a $10,000 lottery.

“Ok, I’m starting to believe.  Do you mind if I explore you now?”

“Seems fair.  Your turn.”

Beverly didn’t know what to expect between his legs.  After his previous masterful performance, she was disappointed to find something soft and small.  She asked, “Is that it?”

“Oh, I didn’t know your taste, so I started off small.  Try again.”

This time she found an eighteen-inch tent pole.  “Umm, if you take requests, how about something in-between?”

“As you desire.  Climb on cowgirl.”

Thirty-seven minutes later Beverly asked, “Can you come again?”

“That could have two different meanings, but the answer to both is yes.”

“I mean if I want you to visit again, how do I get in touch?”

“Knock on the headboard three times.  Probably a bad idea if you have company.  If I’m available, I’ll get here.  I do have other appointments.”

“Why didn’t I think of this earlier?  Will I have monster babies like in ‘The Demon Seed’ or ‘Rosemary’s Baby’?”

“It won’t happen unless I revise my DNA.  We aren’t fertility compatible.”

“Another thing.  What do I tell my boyfriend Bob?” 

“I don’t think that Bob will mind if you break up with him.  My sister is visiting him tonight and has spoiled him for human women, much as you would be disappointed by any human man now.  Both of you may want to have fake relationships to give the appearance of normality, but nothing will compare to night monsters.”

***

Angel of the Night

When Bob woke up at 1:56Am, he was surprised that there was a very warm body next to him which smelled of jasmine and musk.  He was amazed that Beverly had come to bed with him after their date.  He had always thought of her as somewhat prudish.  Her perfume surprised him more because he had never known her to wear any, but it was all good.  It got better when he felt a hand manipulating his cock in a very non-Beverly way arousing him in a way he had never experienced before.

Wait a minute; he hadn’t had a date with her.  “Beverly when did you show up?  Not that I don’t like it, I love it.”

A deep but feminine voice with an alien vibrato responded “I’m not Beverly, I’m Night Angel, but you can call me Angie.”

“I brought home a hooker?  I don’t remember anything like that.”

“Not at all.  My brother and I just like to do favors for deserving people and don’t worry about Beverly; my brother is taking care of her like I will take care of you.”

Bob is stunned and his brain is spinning.  Is Beverly cheating on him?  What should he think about Angie?  Quickly his dick makes his decision for him.  “Um, I like what you are doing for me now, is there anything else that you do?”

“Why don’t I take you for a spin?”

Night Angel mounted Bob and pulled him into her.  In the pale light she appeared as one of the Playboy models that he had sneaked looks at as a teenager.  Tactile exploration showed that unlike the models all of her parts felt original and she had hair where normal women have hair.  Her arousal based on her wetness seemed to match his.

Even while the experience was exploding his brain with pleasure, Bob noticed some disturbing things about Angie.  She played her vagina like a symphony, vibrating, relaxing and contracting Cleopatra’s grip and changing tempo and theme.  When he grasped her buttocks he felt scales rather than skin.  Something brushed his inner thighs up to his butt.  Her assurance that “Oh, that’s just my tail” didn’t assure him.

When his brain returned to minimal function he whispered “What are you?”

“You don’t have adequate language or knowledge for me to answer you.  Let’s just say, that like my brother who likes to be called ‘Night Monster’, we are good demons.  We ask nothing from worthy humans but mutual pleasure.  As much as you have enjoyed me, I have enjoyed you.  Would you object to me calling on you again when we are both free?”

“Uh, no.  Could you stay longer tonight?  I don’t know if I can go again, but we could cuddle.”

“Oh, we can go again.”

Good to her word, Night Angel had Bob fully prepared in five minutes.

***

Teen Angel

Paul was having another one of those dreams at 3 AMSince he had turned twelve he had been having nocturnal emissions and since fourteen he had been experiencing embarrassing daytime erections, but no real sex.  He had grown used to encountering movie stars or attractive classmates at night, but this time it was somebody he didn’t recognize and didn’t seem entirely human.  Whatever it was had a tail and scales on parts of ‘her’ body, but otherwise looked like a girl of his age.  As her hand wandered across his abdomen, he immediately ejaculated.  She handed him one of the tissues he kept next to the bed for cleanup.

The bigger difference from his earlier dreams was that this partner spoke to him.  “The thing that I like about teenage boys is that they rebound so fast.  I love teaching sex education.”  To prove her point she quickly prepared him for sex.  Without any preliminaries, she easily pulled him on top of her as is he weighed ten pounds and inserted his penis in an appropriate location.  Her hands on his butt guided him into a slow rhythm for awhile, followed by rapid thrusts and a mutual orgasm.

“Now that we know each other better, I should introduce myself.  I’m a good demon that specializes in helping teen boys become proficient at sex.  You can call me Teen Angel.  I hope that you enjoyed your first lesson.  If you agree, we can cover hygiene, erogenous zones, various positions and practices and ways to find appropriate, agreeable partners.  What do you think?”

Paul found it difficult to talk, but managed to squeak ‘Sure’.

“One last thing.  When you wake up tomorrow, you will think this was a dream, a vivid one, but still a dream.  Check your sheets.”

When Paul woke up, he remembered the last thing that Teen Angel said.  He found some of her scales in his sheets.

***

The Black Lagoon

Sheryl woke up around midnight to find a roughly humanoid giant monster in her bedroom.  As she started to scream the monster tore the covers off her bed and her pajamas off her body.

As she continued to scream the demon roughly rubbed all over her body while lingering on her more sensitive parts.  His long forked tongue invaded all of her orifices not stopping until he had poked into both ears at once.  Her self-defense training was no match for his strength.

“Continue screaming, that just makes this more enjoyable for me.”

By the time his cruel treatment was completed, her screams had become whimpers.

He then picked her up by her waist as though she were nothing and lowered her slowly onto his organ.  The whimpers became moans as they established a rhythm.

After five mutual orgasms Sheryl spoke “God, that was great, but what would you think of a new scenario?  We’ve done monster assault a lot.  You don’t exist in the daytime, but I’ve got a pool and a white bathing suit for after dark.”

“You’re thinking ‘Creature From The Black Lagoon’?  Great.  I can become Gillman without scales so you don’t get scratches as in my natural form.  If we get tired of that there is always wife at home with pool cleaner when husband works late.  Been done too often?  If we want to stay dry, you can reinforce the chandelier for something really acrobatic.  How about I become a hopeless high school boy and you are the sexy math tutor?”

“I don’t mind the scratches.  They lend authenticity and I love the new ear trick”

“See you at your pool 10pm Friday?  I’ve got a date with newbie Beverly on Thursday.”

“Works for me.”

“See you then.  Love you babe.”

“Love you too, monster.”

***

The Lady And The Snake

The erotic dream Jessie had at 2:36 AM was something new.  A cross between a large man and a snake was spooning her before he started anal intercourse.  Jessie responded actively and moaned.  After five minutes, she began to come out of her dream.  In her half awake – half dream state she began to suspect that it wasn’t a dream.  She asked “Charles?” – But then remembered her husband had been dead for fifteen years and whatever was in bed with her was nothing like Charles and did something that Charles never did.  The arm that was draped over her was twice as large as Charles’.

Jessie was practical to the extent that some of her family and friends were amazed at how well she responded to crises.  Rather than scream, which would have done no good, she asked “Who are you and how did you get here?”  She had begun to wonder if one of her crazier friends set up the attack.

“First question – I’m a night demon or monster, whichever you prefer.  Second question – I came in with you when got back from visiting your friend Judy.  I’ll leave when you want me to.”

Jessie ignored the last part “That’s impossible.  I would have seen you.”

“No, my people can turn invisible.  We don’t even exist in the daylight.”

Jessie knew none of that made sense, but what was true?

“Turn on the light and judge for yourself.”

The light revealed a huge, bald muscular humanoid largely covered with scales.  Whatever it was had a flat nose and holes for ears.

Jessie was stunned, but asked “Why are you here?”

“We night demons are benefactors of the human race.  I heard your calls with friends about your frustration with dating since Charles died – the bad hygiene, the egotists who thought they were doing you a favor and the sexual duds.  I thought that I could help you, but obviously I can’t go on a dating site.  I was able to gather your wants and needs and acted on them.  If I got it wrong, I can leave now.  I’m afraid that you can’t take legal action against a night demon.”

After a long silence, night demon asked “Thoughts?”

“Don’t go yet.”

The night demon stayed for many hours that night and returned every Wednesday.

***

Previously published in Terror House

Brian Rosenberger

My Gods

If you believe…
There is a God of Butterflies, a God of Lottery Tickets,
A God of Storm and Thunder, of the Ocean Waves,
Sibling Gods of Dream and Despair,
Even Gods for Cats and Dogs,
And Gods of Love and Hate,
Even a God of Poems.
I don’t believe in any of that nonsense,
Save for the God of Hate.
I believe because I feel the God’s presence. 
It’s like an anchor at the back of the skull,
A hand embracing my heart,
A dull ache that never goes away,
A pain that become pleasure.

Many deities but all in the same vein of worship.
You get it, my fellow believers.

Waiting in line, Co-workers, In-laws
Children, Traffic, Asparagus 
Commercials, Emission Tests, Taxes.

Bow down on your knees and pray.

And if our God needs sacrifices…
I’m just a mortal waiting in line.

Noel Negele

At the Hospital

It is infuriating
how the fear of death
makes you so pathetic.

How you suddenly like life,
enjoy sadness,
regret the wasted days.

The peculiar thing is,
as they say,
that when you lose something
you understand
how important it was,

but when having a near death experience
you haven’t lost anything,
not yet

but the mere possibility
of losing
this life you have

this unimportant little life
with these few romances
the bromide blood ties
the ideas and contemplation
the fun and the years
and the mistakes
and the small acts of kindness
and the small efforts of creativity

it all coruscates
into a total
that in your mind
is so beautiful
that besides feeling
incredibly ungrateful

you also feel irritated
by the cowardice
you are washed in

precisely because of the beauty
precisely because you are not ready
to leave
not until you grow old
and the quality in your life
lessens enough
for you to become proud enough

to be ready enough to go.

And you are hungry suddenly
to live, to try
to climb towards the goals
and you don’t care as much
about the relationships
that went bad,
about your dissatisfying paychecks
or your appearance
and you almost pray
for another shot

and all the stupid sadness you had
appears so wasteful
like a meal run cold
over an argument.

Care less or care more?

David Owain Hughes & Natasha Sinclair

Milked

Horace stood before the shop, hunched over, eyes darting rat-like, the lapels of his coat standing on end in the hope that they’d conceal him. With his hands buried in the pockets of his jeans, his fingers jangling the loose change found there, he shuffled his feet and pondered his next move as the sun set behind him.

Dare I…? he thought, a giggle almost escaping him as he cast a glance over the building’s blanked-out windows, reinforced door and black, almost unsettling, décor.

Well, I’ve come this far

With a deep, shaky breath, sucking in a lungful of atmospheric sin, Horace stepped forward and knocked on the sheet metal entrance three times and winced at the reverberating sounds that travelled the length and breadth of the alley. An old elegant Victorian Dressmaker’s sign hung above the doorway, sagging from the sandstone from long ago. A landmark of a history long forgotten. Though, the era’s reputation for everyday sadomasochism was not lost on those who knew what hid within this seemingly closed place.

Jesus

He risked a peep over his shoulder, ballbag and prick shrivelling, and released his balled fists when he saw there was nobody behind him. 

What does it matter if I’m seenIt’s not like I’m committing a crime! It’s a sex shopfor Christ’s sake, he thought, his heart pounding at the mere thought of what the establishment was. Could it cost me my teaching jobI wouldn’t have thought so… unless a colleague or student spots me. So what? I’m not wrongdoing. No, but a lot of shame would come of it, forcing me to possibly leave my position. Pfft! It’s not …

Bolts clattered and chains rattled. “Who is it, please?” someone asked.

Dude sounds like Vincent Price, Horace thought, sniggering, his pent-up anxiety leaving him but returning in an instant.

“Is that you, Mr Parker? Horace Parker.”

“How…?”

“Do come in,” the man said, pulling the door open, revealing his dapper appearance.

It really is Vincent Price! Horace thought, looking at the tall, moustachioed fella.

“My dear fellow, are you alright?”

Horace shook his head, abandoning his trance-like state, and smiled. He looks like he should be running magic shows or a thespian on stage. “How do you know my name? Has Roger been blabbing? I thought this was a place built on a reputation of utmost discretion.”  

The man tittered, coughed and apologised. “Excuse my amusement, please, Horace, but Roger did no such thing. Let’s just say, I have a way of knowing things. And I know exactly what you need. So please, do come in, Horace, and let’s begin to unease your burden.”

A crack of thunder broke across the cloudless sky as Horace stepped over the shop’s threshold. 

“Just in time,” the proprietor said. 

At his back, Horace heard heavy rain hissing against the asphalt. “Burden?” he asked. 

“Come, there’s no need for coyness here, Horace! I know all about your needs and how they’re manipulating you and causing you much pain and grief. It doesn’t have to be like that. You should be free to live a happy life. To do as you please, no matter how taboo your desires.”

Horace felt his face flush. “I only wanted a bit of porn – something to help occupy me (he lied) – and I was told…”

“You were told all your fantasies would be fulfilled if you came to me, weren’t you?” the man smiled.

“I… how…”

“Shh, Horace. The how’s and why’s don’t matter. The important thing right now is for you to realise that I’m here to help, at a cheap cost which we’ll cover later, and that you put your full trust in me.”

Horace felt hypnotised. “I’m a bad boy,” he confided. “I have awful thoughts and wants, and I’m losing the power to keep them under control.” 

“I know, Horace,” the man said, smiling, clapping a hand to his shoulder. “We’ll sort you out, don’t worry.”

Horace shook his head. “I think it was a mistake coming here,” he said, drinking in his surroundings, eyeing the shelves upon shelves of pornographic DVDs, sex toys, dildos, BDSM gear, ball gags, wigs, crops, whips and everything else he could imagine. “You can’t sell me what I need! I need professional help, goddamn it!” 

“Calm yourself, Horace. Please. There’s no need to get your panties into bunches,” the man laughed. “Now, come over to my desk – I have something for you.”

“Excuse me, Mr DeVile?” A weak voice called from behind. 

When Horace turned to look, he saw a short, balding man standing there. What’s he clutching?

“Oh, I thought you’d departed, Mr Harpis. My apologies.”

“Can I have a word? In private.”

“Of course,” DeVile said. “What is it?”

“Are you sure I can cruise by schools and do as I wish without getting in trouble?” Harpis said, his voice low, but Horace could hear all the same. “I’ve been good for so long now that I don’t want to get in trouble for acting on my fantasies. You did say it would be okay!”

DeVile laughed. “Go. Go indulge. Your actions will not land you in hot water. I promise. Just, don’t forget my payment, there’s a good man.”

When the little guy shuffled off, pushing his glasses back up his nose, Horace turned to DeVile. “That man’s a paedo—”

DeVile held his hands up. “That he may be. But and I guarantee you this, I’ve sold him a package that will allow him to release his demons safely. No harm will come of anyone. Just like I’ve sold packages to those with necrophilia, rape, murder and a whole host of other sexual tendencies.”

Briefly, Horace’s mind snapped to his own family, his baby son giggling in his swing chair, as his wife stared vacantly out the window, with bleary eyes, blankly waving the oldest off to school. She was so absent these days, especially to him, he didn’t understand this is the life she wanted, not me… then he thought of the only time she seemed alive now, with the child latched on to her big darkened nipples. His cock stirred again, pushing against his jeans, like a trapped animal, “and that’s what you plan to do for me?”

DeVile smiled. “Of course. It is, after all, why you came here?”

Horace wanted to back off. This can’t be right. What’s going on here?

“Come closer, Horace.”

When DeVile stooped to retrieve something, Horace turned to run but was stopped when he heard a thud. 

“This… is your package, Horace.”

Horace turned, his eyes immediately drawing to the black, medium-sized box with a red bow wrapped around it on top of the man’s counter. “Take it with you. You won’t be disappointed,” DeVile said, pushing the parcel towards Horace. “I offer a 30 day no satisfaction policy. So, if you’re not happy, just bring it back. No fee required.”

“And if I do like it?”

DeVile smiled. “If you do, then I’ll want paying. A little something in return for relieving you of such a terrible burden…”

***

Leaving the seedy alley, another snap cracked through the darkening clouds, bringing with it an onslaught of spider-web-like lightning as backdrop to the torrential rain, lashing mercilessly at the street. He made it back to the Volvo and placed his box on the passenger seat. How am I going to get what I need from the contents of this box? Like everything in life, this will be another disappointment… he was almost sure of it. I’ve been a fool to come here. What a dirty, filthy perv! No woman wants this kind of ‘bad boy’. What choice did he have but to try this?

The rain pounded at the windows, rattling the metal roof; he was caught in static contemplation. As the pelting slowed, he checked his phone — the only messages were one from his wife reminding him to pick up milk and oatmeal and a notification that his favourite ‘Only Fans’ performer was doing a special show soon, for all her ‘special babies’. It just wasn’t enough… not anymore, if it ever was.

The orange streetlight flickered overhead; a failing engine stuttering to start before it submitted to its failure. He clicked through the camera roll into videos. Biting his lower lip, Horace thumbed up until he saw what he wanted. He drew down his zipper and freed his prick into the near-open air of the family car. He pressed play: The camera view is from the dresser, adjacent to their sensible double divan. Addy is asleep, her heavy breasts free of her open nighty, a damp puddle of milk staining the sheet. Horace naked before her; she looks like an Angel. He peels back the light damask printed sheet revealing the delicious slopes of her body. Kneeling before her, he opens his mouth wide and takes in her breast. Miraculously she barely stirs, only grunts in her sleep. As he watches the replay, Horace fondles and squeezes his balls. His breathing becoming ragged as the memory of the sweet watery fluid coating his tongue, filling his mouth pours through his cerebellum. He pulls his warm palm up, gripping his shaft and pumps, furiously milking himself… if she knew how he wanted her, if anyone knew… he was a very bad boy indeed. He imagined her talking to him, cooing over his head like she did that damned baby… “fuck, yes mummy,” he whispered, deep and low as he pumped his fist up and down faster. Slick with pre-cum, he watches himself sucking and wanking in his secret video, his arse clenched and bicep rising and falling. In the car, he stifled his orgasm, turning and biting into his own shoulder, shooting his thick creamy load into his hand.

Flicking his eyes open, Horace jumped back, seeing the long face of DeVile grinning sinister back at him through the rain, a wavering shimmer or red outlining his lanky form, what the fuck… Squeezing his eyes shut and opening them again, DeVile was gone. “You’re losing it, man, get a grip! Time to get going.” With nothing to wipe it on, he sucked down the thick white salty spunk and tucked his prick back into his trousers. Why couldn’t my milk taste as good as hers… With that, he pulled on his belt and started up the car, eager to get home and unwrap his package.

***

It took him two weeks to work up the courage and have the solitude to actually open the mysterious black box. How could he even know what I want? How can what I want be inside this box? I don’t even know what I want… maybe the impossible. Unfastening the ribbon, he lifted the deep black lid. Inside, a puff of red dust rose up and pummelled itself into his eyeballs. Horace fell back off the bed where he had been perched, thumping his head off the corner of the dresser.

Pulling himself up to sit, Horace rubbed the back of his head, coming away with a wet smear of crimson across his hand. Fuck. He felt dizzy, almost separate from his body; pain swelled at the back of his skull, thumping as thunder boomed within his temple. He used the bed to pull himself up and peer into the box. Using his bloodied hand, he removed a dark crystal skull. It was heavy and carved with intricate mystical symbols and ruins— none of which he was familiar. He peered into the sockets and became mesmerised; inky galactic swirls began to move within this peculiar artefact, hypnotic. The lower jaw dropped open, and a blinding white light emitted from the gaping maw and its cavernous sockets – shooting straight into his eyeballs. His soul burned as if being torn from his body. Within the light, DeVile’s sinister face materialised, eyebrows arched in sadistic points over black eyes… “The exchange shall be done.” His sardonic laugh boomed around the room as if from a megaphone.

At that, the pain scorched through his entire body, an erupting of magma ran through his core as he collapsed and seized, emptying his bladder and bowels all over the plush cream carpet.

***

Addy was crying, her bleary eyes now pouring. He gazed at her confused, then he saw the body… his body being strapped down and placed upon a stretcher by three men – he recognised one of them, Mr Harpis, what’s that paedo doing in my house?! He thought. A low deep voice came from the doorway. “I’m so sorry for your loss Mrs Parker. If you just sign here, we’ll take care of everything.”

DeVile?! His eyes landed on Horace’s, “I can hold him if you like, while you sign and say goodbye.”

Goodbye?! What is he talking about, the creepy, lanky bastard. It was then Horace looked down. He could barely control his head as DeVile’s arms came into contact with his body. He watched Addy crying, stroking his face as he lay drooling on the stretcher.

“The exchange is complete, Horace. Don’t worry about the infant on the stretcher. I know just the client that package will be perfect for.”

***

As he gazed up, sucking insatiably on his wife’s engorged milky tit… he finally felt complete. He felt her nipple elongate as he sucked, it nestled tight against his soft pallet as the warm milky goodness squirted into his throat, he was so excited his whole body felt it may explode, biting down – a reflex, well, maybe it was the first time, now he liked it. She squirted harder when his gums clammed shut, and he liked the way she jumped. She squealed and patted his rump, “Ouch! Naughty boy!”

She was right, he really was… her naughty boy.

Ben Newell

Man Cave 

“Tell me we’re not doing this.”

Randy cranked the truck and looked at his partner.  “We’re not doing this.” 

“Thank God,” Cecil said.  “What a nutbag.”   

Randy slammed the truck in gear and sped away from the house.  

The owner of 822 Poplar Street had some serious issues.  He had wanted a man cave, his very own place to hang out with friends, drink beer, and watch football without disturbing his live-in girlfriend/fiancé.  Randy and Cecil, the two-man team known as Custom Carpentry Inc., had worked on several man caves throughout the years.  But Grayson—if that was his real name—had wanted some strange extras.  A secret door.  Soundproofing.  Even a steel ring affixed to the wall.  

Randy braked at a red light and lit a cigarette.

“Sex freak,” Cecil said.  “Definitely a sex freak.” 

Randy didn’t say a word.     

***

The latter half of the following month found Randy sitting on the sofa drinking beer and watching the local late news.  A distraught father, on the brink of tears, pleaded for the safe return of his teenaged daughter.  “We miss you, Katy.  Your mother and I love you so much.  Stay strong . . .” 

Enough was enough.  

Randy got up and went out on the back stoop to smoke a cigarette.  Molly was at work, another split-shift at the Peking Palace.  She wouldn’t be home until late.  He was restless, anxious, drinking more than usual, sleeping fitfully.  Earlier this week, Cecil had asked him if he was okay.  Randy had shrugged it off, said he was just feeling a little under the weather. 

But that wasn’t the problem.   

Randy went inside and grabbed his keys from the kitchen counter.  Then he got in his truck and drove to 822 Poplar Street.  

***

Grayson, wearing a bathrobe and flip flips, redolent of deodorant soap and shampoo, came to the door.  He was visibly upset.  “You’re supposed to call first, Randy.  You know this.  Those are the rules.” 

“Sorry,” Randy said.  “I happened to be in the neighborhood.” 

“I was getting ready for bed.”

“You want me to leave?”

Grayson thought about it.  

“No,” he said resignedly, “come on in.” 

“Thanks, man,” Randy said.  “I really appreciate it.”    

***

The man cave was exceptional, his best work to date.  Too bad Cecil couldn’t see it.  Randy had returned that very same day and accepted the job.  It was a hard, back-breaking few weeks, working with Cecil during the day, then moonlighting at Grayson’s.

But he had toughed it out.  He knew, even then, that it would be worth it.  

They say it takes one to know one.  

Randy would have to agree.  

The two of them had bonded from the get-go.  Randy and Grayson.  Kindred spirits.  And this was a nice arrangement, far better than any cash payment.  Sure, Grayson was a little miffed tonight.  Surprise visits were forbidden.  But he would get over it.   

Now Randy stood before her.  “I just saw your father on TV.  You look a lot like him.”   

Katy hung there on the wall, naked and worse for wear.  Her spindly arms stretched upward, wrists shackled to the steel ring.  She whimpered, mewled.  An array of tools covered a nearby worktable . . . 

Randy opted for a pair of pliers and a sheet of sandpaper.  

Randall Rogers

Solution

What if you didn’t
grow up with TV,
radio, or anything 
electrical except 
lightning (and firefly)?
You’d read if you could,
train physically, play, write (if able),
speak, perform at the theater and home.
You’d ponder, drink wine, feast plenty, consult oracles, 
engage in blood-thirsty politics, civil war,
cult religion, human sacrifice, 
you’d avoid proscription,
attend circuses and gladiatorial games,
puke in a vomitorium, be real stoic
and long for Jesus.

Bruce Mundhenke

Chesterfield

Chet sat on the edge of the courthouse lawn. He was a thin black man. He wore khaki slacks and a green t-shirt and had a fedora hat on his head. It had cooled off a little now that the sun was going down, but it was still hot. Chet took a drink from a half pint bottle of Jim Beam, then offered me a drink. I passed. I told him I had been working in the sun in the switchyard at the mill all day, then sat at the corner bar and drank beer after work.

Chet told me he hadn’t worked for a few days. Chet was a coal miner, but he missed a lot of work. He told me one time that coal mining interfered with his drinking. He told me he had been staying with Carolyn a few days, but she run him off. Carolyn was a black nurse that Chet hung out with at times. I had a couple of joints rolled. I took one of them out of my cigarette pack, lit it, then passed it to Chet. Chet took a long hit, then passed it back.

“You want to go to Springfield Doug?”

“Chet, you know I don’t drive.”

I lost my license 6 months ago, but Chet always seemed to forget that. He always had money in those days. The coal mine paid good. He spent most all of it on alcohol and women. Those were the two things that seemed to matter the most to Chet.

When Chet was very young, there had been a club in town that many white woman belonged to. It was called the Chesterfield Club and to be a member a girl had to have had sex with Chesterfield. I guess Chet got around pretty good when he was young. Through the years, I heard that story told by several older guys, including my Dad.

Chet spent a lot of time in Springfield in those days. He would go up there for several days at a time to drink and shack up with women in motel rooms. He had a million stories about his adventures in Springfield. They were filled with dark humor and danger. He was a very good storyteller.

He started telling me a story about an adventure he had last week. It seems he had picked up a woman in a bar in Springfield and they rented a motel room. When he woke up, she was dressed and at the door with his clothes in her hand. By the time he got out of bed and ran outside, she was pulling away from the motel parking lot in a cab with his clothes and his money. The motel clerk came out of the office and escorted him to his room. He was able to get in touch with a buddy in Springfield, who brought him some clothes.

When Chet got old, he stayed in town. He no longer went on adventures in Springfield. He would be seen drinking daily at local bars. He had a sleeping room above one of the skid row bars. His daughter managed his money for him. One time she told me that he got a social security check and a pension check from the mine. She said she would meet him several times a month to give him money, because if she gave him all his money it would not last him through the month.

Sometimes when Chet couldn’t connect with his daughter right away, he would borrow twenty dollars from me. He always paid me back. One time I walked past him while he was sitting at the bar of an establishment we both frequented without speaking to him to sit with some friends at a table. As I was leaving, he stopped me at the bar. “You ain’t getting shy on me are you Doug?” I laughed and told him no.

On Saturday nights, local bands would play at the bars and these nights would find Chesterfield out on the dance floor, dancing with the young girls. One night, I remember asking a buddy, “You think Chet ever gets any these days?” He laughed and said, “I doubt if he can shake the wrinkles out of it these days.”

Finally, when Chet was 82 years old, he became suspicious of the people who rented rooms near him. He felt they had it in for him, so he set a fire in the hallway. He was arrested and it was determined he had alcohol dementia. He was placed in a nursing home just outside of town. After he had been there for a while, I decided to go see him.

I learned that he had died. The nurse said he was a harmless soul and often very funny. She said he was well liked by all the staff, especially the young girls…

Tony Dawson

Moses Interprets the Ten Commandments

The Summons

Mount Sinai was Yahweh’s second home
where he always liked to roam
while keeping an eye on those below
so they knew that He was in the know.
He’d rescued the chosen from heathen Egypt,
and had to ensure that they stayed on script.
He’d always had Moses on speed dial, 
since he’d floated down the Nile.
Yahweh decided to give him a call
to get him up Sinai before nightfall.

Moses arrives on Sinai

When Moses arrived, he was utterly buggered
Yet Yahweh still chided him for being a sluggard.

“Christ! Where’s the fire?” asked Moses, knees creaking,
“I was having a beer. Why all the shrieking?”
“Take the name of my unborn in vain
and your future will go down the drain!
Remember ‘God the Father’, and the rest?
Well, it’s the Godfather bit that I like best!
You’re here to take down my new rules
to prevent the chosen ones acting like fools.”

Moses receives the commandments

He handed poor Moses two very large stones.
“You’re joking!” cried Moses amid moans and groans.
“Never heard of pen, paper and ink?
The Egyptians have got them. It makes you think
you’re behind the times, not up to snuff.
So come on, Yahweh, it’s not good enough!”
“Less of the lip and get down the mountain.
Cut the crap. It’s late and I’m counting
on you to spread the word and straighten them out.
Run along Moses, you’re meant to be devout.”

Moses breaks the tablets

The prophet fell on the way down and the tablets shattered.
“Shit!” he exploded, wondering if it mattered.
Yahweh did hear the oath and the stones break.
“You clumsy oaf! You make my balls ache!
Can’t you deliver what amounts to a letter?
Perhaps Aaron or Amazon would’ve done better.” 
A chastened Moses gathered up the bits,
muttering about Yahweh getting on his tits,
scrambled down the mountain and sat on the ground
where hundreds of the chosen were milling around.

Moses glosses commandments 1, 2 and 3

Moses got to his feet, as grumpy as hell,
and glared at the mob, while ringing his bell.
“Listen to me you lot. I bring rules from on high.”
The chosen ones heaved a collective sigh.
“Yahweh calls them the Ten Commandments, 
though I think they need a few enhancements.”
A voice in the crowd shouted, “What a damned cheek!
Come off it, Yahweh! You’re a control freak.”
“I’m inclined to agree with you,” muttered Moses,
wanting to come out of this smelling of roses.
“Take the first commandment: ‘no other gods but me’.
It doesn’t take a genius to immediately see 
that, followed by two, he’s just a Mafia boss
running a protection racket and doesn’t give a toss
about the rest of us. He’s invented the vendetta
until the fourth generation! And it gets better:
if you take his name in vain, like I’m doing here,
he threatens rather more than a word in your ear.”

Moses glosses commandments 5 and 6

“As a Mafia don, he’s all kith and kin.
If you step out of line, it’s a mortal sin.
So, look after your mother and father
and Yahweh won’t get in a lather.
Now six is a bummer, mostly for the Yankee
(and his armory of M16s) who’s liable to get cranky
when a shopping mall’s nearby—in fact, it sucks—
if he can’t slaughter women and kids like sitting ducks.
That would take the laughter out of the slaughter.
Yanks have to shoot people, come hell or high water! 
In a sinful world there are no innocent bystanders.
It’s no fun if you can’t fire your gun like military commanders.”

Moses glosses commandments 7, 8 and 9

“No killing? Then, how about killjoy number seven?
I say, ‘Have some adult fun rather than go to heaven!’
‘Being at sixes and sevens’, to reach the obvious conclusion,
was once about murdering and adultery, not confusion.
Eight says no stealing, so hands off the neighbor’s wife,
or Yahweh might just decide to take your life…
Nine bans false witness against your neighbor,
even if his wife’s pole-dancing with you as a favor.”

Moses glosses commandment 10

“Finally, no coveting the neighbor’s wife or his ass!
The wife’s ass, fair enough, but the neighbour’s? Seems crass
to me, unless He knows you’re someone inclined
to approach the people you fancy from behind.
After all, he’s a deity who made Adam out of clay.
Didn’t he know it’s more fun the other way?
Yahweh gives us a sex drive and then trusts to luck
we don’t covet the neighbor’s wife, for a sinful fuck!
Having sects is preferred to having sex in the US of A,
‘cos it brings in more money and is less risqué.”

Dan Cuddy

Myth of Venus

Today
Romance comes like Venus
Riding a seashell
The zephyrs
Pushing the vey naked
Naturally curvaceous
Botticelli babe
Onto a 21st century beach
A nudist beach
And I
Am wrapped in a towel
Too much fat to fry in the sun
And a little old
None of my bathing suits fit
I just want to be incognito
Catch a peak at the women au naturelle

Venus has a dimple on two cheeks
One on the face
One in another place
And she is so tan
She wasn’t born yesterday
But her skin is so smooth
A mole here and there
Like an exclamation point
Saying
The woman is real
Just out of Penthouse’s pool
Dripping wet
Brown eyes wonderfully smiling
And I would jump up
And say
With a cock-a-doodle-doo
“hi”

If I knew her
And the lifeguard
With big muscles
Wasn’t guarding her life
Her telephone number
Her email address
I turn seaweed green with envy
Watch them
Kiss furiously
As violins come from somewhere
And a voice
Gruff
A smoker’s voice
With intermittent coughs
Chokes out
“that is my daughter
Watch it”

I watched her
The goddess
Of Black’s Beach, California
And I said almost out loud
“gawd, what a woman”
A disembodied voice said
“That’s right, fatso…
Only in your dreams”

Dave Cullern

Got No Time To Worry

sunday afternoon. fathers nail innocence
into wood. building future suicides from
scratch. mould flesh into weaponised
emptiness. mow grass like shaved heads.
the next door kids are groomed by minds
gone mad. clean the car. lock your bike.
cut the hedge. the garages scream with
the corporal punishment of days gone by.
pet rabbits interred in compost heaps.
dolls set alight by the sun. if you cry
we’ll have to buy you a dress. fucking
pick one. dare you to fucking pick one.
a lack of direction is palpable in the
thin summer air. they only let you dance
on the dance floor. that’s if you’re allowed
to dance at all. they pick your clothes.
clean your nose. regail your future with
limitations and close. future doors. future
dreams. the map you’re expected to
follow is exactly as small as it seems.