Rickyâ€™s Back Yard CULT
Edited by Joseph Szewczyk, Jenni Hill and Lizzie Nicodemus
Czykmate Productions 2015
Copyright ÂŠ 2015 by Czykmate Productions All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. ISBN 978-1-329-28854-6 www.rickysbackyard.com
Art Work and Dedication The cover art is from Lizzie Nicodemus. The bunny is from Dr Robert Vaughn. The first issue is, of course, dedicated to Ricky Romero who is up somewhere watching Voltron and laying down the bass with Hendrix.
Introduction ..................................................................................... 1 Have a Good Day – Persephone White..................................... 3 My Pet Trilobite – Kristin Harley .............................................. 4 An Encounter – Joseph Bishop ................................................. 16 Picasso’s Crimson – Gina Perales ............................................ 18 The Art Colony on Pill Hill San Diego – Jenean McBrearty ..................................................................................................................... 25 Transmogrification – Mahmoud Sharif ................................. 32 His Mom’s Toyota – Matt Sweder ............................................ 34 Food Court Millionaire – Abdul Alhazred............................. 39 Dionysus in the Gas Chambers – John Weaver ................... 42 An Incident at Rehoboth – Stephen O’Connor .................... 60 Ist Dass Ein Zwerg – Shane Frazier ......................................... 63 About the Authors ........................................................................ 67 About the Editors .......................................................................... 72
Introduction Ricky’s Back Yard was kicking around my head for some time now. I wanted to open a magazine that was for ‘everyone’ and not just those who sit on PhD padded chairs. I wanted something that gave a voice to those writers whose work was of high quality but ‘not right for us’ in so many magazines. There are a lot of lit mags drowning in purple prose. This ain’t one. Not that there is something wrong with those magazines, but it’s just not what we are into. Ricky’s Back Yard is a long overdue homage to the real-life Ricky (if you have visited our website, you will have seen his photo). For me, the magazine has to be part punk, part funk and all electric. Are we going to be supernova big? Probably not. We aren’t in it for the money there shall be no advertisement here for anything we don’t believe in (speaking of things we believe in, let me take a moment to talk to you about Squatty Potty….). Seriously. Punk + Funk + Electricity. That’s the equation you want to keep in mind. I like the collection of authors we have here. It is truly a world-wide submission table. I included the author’s text as-is without so much as an added comma. It’s punk, after all. We had a lot of people submit to this issue. I think the rejection rate was around 92% which is pretty darn high for a new magazine. So, if your words are in here—count yourself among the few. Although Ricky’s Back Yard is also a graphic art magazine, the submissions were quite (almost) nonexistent. This is my fault. I used the technical jargon of ‘graphic text’. Ho ho. You should have seen the submissions. Ooops. Next time I’ll stick with the more familiar, ‘Drawerings”. I can tell you–with certainty–that you will find this magazine wherever great magazines are sold in the Canadian store Chapters/Indigo in Montreal in the Montreal Trust mall. If you can’t find it, just ask Mitch Hedberg. He’ll know what’s up. -Dr Jo, 2015
Have a Good Day â€“ Persephone White
My Pet Trilobite – Kristin Harley My name is Mañuel Pinon, and I exist! I exist. I want someone, anyone, to know. I can see and hear, even though no one looks at me, even though I cannot speak. Someone must know. The world has to know! Just because I have no arms, no legs... Well, sometimes I do have arms and legs; sometimes I get to have our arms and our legs. I don’t know why; it just happens. Suddenly I can feel myself expanding, spreading outward into the rest of the body and then the hands are mine, and I can grip things with them. Suddenly the legs are mine, and I can walk, jump, run, but never for long. All too soon everything goes numb and then I’m locked within myself again, within the few square inches of flesh that I am allowed: my eyes, my nose, my ears, this tumor of a head. Suddenly my mouth doesn’t work anymore; but it used to work, when I was a child. When I was a child, I controlled this body, and I controlled Pasqual--but now he is the one who controls me. So the few short times that I do get to use our arms and legs, I make Pasqual run around and do things that he doesn’t want to do--like stick his hands under scalding water--just for revenge. I run him around in circles until he’s hopping mad, merely because I can. I make him chase the ugly, muscled bullies in the carnival crowd, just to see them yelp and run. During the times when I’m able to control our body, I feel sensations only faintly--the scalding water seems only lukewarm to me-but Pasqual sure feels it. He feels texture and pain as well as other people do, but even when I get to have our body there’s still a wall between the world and me. I cannot speak. I can only numbly feel. And all too soon, even that is gone, and I’m locked back into this head of mine which is my prison. Pasqual doesn’t even know that I’m here, really. That is, he doesn’t know there’s a thinking person inside my head, a living soul sharing this body with him. All he knows is that he has a second head on top of his own, an extra head that makes him the star attraction of the SellsFloto Circus. Pasqual Pinon is the famous two-headed man. He often mutters to himself that he hates me, which is just fine--for I hate him, too. 4
Kristin Harley Most of the time, Pasqual gets to use our arms and legs, and I get to feel nothing except the wind on my face. No one knows I’m in here. I’m the reason why Pasqual is famous, but no one thinks of me, even though they come from miles around to stare at me. Without me, Pasqual would be just another uneducated, not-too-good-looking migrant worker from Mexico. I have seen us in mirrors, dozens of times. Take a mediocre-looking buffalo of a man and place a stunted, blank-looking head on top of his, slightly in front so that the second protrudes over the forehead of the first--that is us. There is nothing remarkable about Pasqual by himself, but my head doesn’t even look real. My eyes are slanted, and dark, and expressionless, and I can’t even roll them in their sockets. My mouth barely exists over the knob of bone that connects my head to his. My nose, ears, and skull have a simian appearance. However, I mostly see us in the faces of the crowds that gather to gawk. I know what we are, and I also know what “normal people” “look like.” I have never seen normal people look normal, as a matter of fact-I have only seen them looking scared, repulsed, disbelieving, or seething with curiosity. And even though everyone out in the “real” world knows what we look like, they call us “Pasqual.” They just use that name for both of us. They never say, “Pasqual and brother,” or even “Pasqual and twin.” They see me as merely an appendage of Pasqual, like the man with extra legs. No one sees me. And Pasqual hates me--even though he doesn’t really know than I am here-- because the fact of my existence keeps him from having a normal life. “I want a goddamn normal life,” he grumbles to himself all the time, swearing like a sailor as our manager does. He never thinks of me and how I would also like to have a normal life, and he manages to forget that before we became the biggest circus attraction in North America, we used to work in Mexico as a field-laborer. He ignores the fact that the United States is now involved in the war with Germany, the biggest war in the history of the world, The Great War. If we were normal, perhaps we would have to fight. If we were normal, we would definitely have to work in the fields, slaving for sixteen hours a day, perhaps accidentally chopping into our own limbs with our machetes the way so many other men did, and end up maimed. Even if we were normal, we would end up abnormal pretty quickly--that is often the case with poor people. Here in the carnival, we receive three square meals a
Cult day just for standing around and letting other people stare at us until they faint or turn away. I want a normal life too, but I would rather have a relatively normal life here as a freak than be a normal peasant out there in the world, subject to the freakish turns of fate. Being a freak is not what bothers me. It is not a bad life. Although if I had a choice I would not mind being the tattooed man (he is a phony, by the way), especially because he recently got married. Or I would not even mind being Raymond, with the arms and legs of his malformed twin protruding from his abdomen, because the twin’s head is buried inside his body and Raymond doesn’t have to listen to that person talk. I like most of the other members of our sideshow. It is only Pasqual that I cannot stand. I have to listen to him gripe all the time, and I must go wherever he wants to walk and participate in whatever he wants to do--except those times when I get to control our body. I hate it when I can sometimes feel Pasqual’s erection. As my luck would have it, I feel more intensely at that time than when I control the body. My erections never last very long, but Pasqual’s are vital and intense. He gets aroused by sluts, those brainless syphilis-ridden whores who trot after carnival side- shows from state to state, offering to overcharge the freaks for their services because they think that we are desperate. As a matter of fact, many people in the side-show attractions have normal relationships, marry perfectly respectable men or women, and raise children, but Pasqual does not have a normal relationship with anyone. Pasqual is a pig. Sometimes, between shows, Pasqual stands in the flap of the tent with the flap concealing the top of his head, concealing me, and watches the women walking by. Then I’m pressed against the rough canvas while he gets to see the world outside--not that this attempt to hide me helps his chances with women any, because he is so swarthy and unappealing, and makes such distasteful comments to the poor ladies. I despise him for doing that. He wants to pretend he’s “normal,” but the fact is, Pasqual is an ugly, scowling stump of a man who would not attract women in any case, but he won’t admit that. He blames all his misfortunes on me. That I blame him for my misfortune never occurs to him. But if Pasqual were walking around free instead of working the carnival, I would be very frightened for the women he’d chase. I’d be 6
Kristin Harley frightened for the women who didn’t run fast enough, even for the crassest whore. Pasqual has a temper. “Someday, I’m going to get this thing off,” Pasqual tells a breathless newspaper reporter, as his companion holds up the enormous camera and blinds me with the chemical flash. Pasqual points to the top of his head--at me. “I’m going to have a surgeon remove it and live out the rest of my years in obscurity. I’ll marry, have children, maybe join the United States Army. You see, I’m a refugee from Mexico. Pancho Villa’s raiders forced my whole family off of our little ranch--my father, my mother, my six brothers and myself. After our exile, I followed General Pershing and came to this country, the land of the free, the United States! God bless the United States!” The credulous, greedy reporter scribbles it all down in his notebook. The photographer takes more pictures, and white dots dance in my eyes. This is the official story of Pasqual and me, put out by the unscrupulous hucksters at the Sells-Floto Circus: When he was young he used the upper head, where I live. He did not use the lower one at all. But in adolescence, for some mysterious reason, the upper head atrophied and Pasqual’s soul moved into the lower head, just as if it had walked down the stairs of a tenement. The upper head is regarded by everyone as just an empty skull now, still living, with working eyes and ears and nose, but without a soul. Just because I cannot move my mouth to speak up for myself, they assume that I am not alive. The fact is, I was the first one here. I controlled the upper head and the body. I am the original Pasqual! The man who occupies the head below mine, the man they call Pasqual, came later. He’s the impostor. He started speaking, and my mouth went stiff. He gained control of the body, and my senses went numb. People began to look at him when they talked, and only stared at me in horror. He became Pasqual, and I became the freak. Like a parasite, he stole everything from me. Had I not been yoked to Pasqual, I would have joined Villa’s men. If he were not such an idiot, Pasqual would have joined them, too. That story of his six brothers is a lie-- we have no one. Had I the choice, I would have grown a moustache like Pancho Villa, and traded cattle for guns with U.S. merchants like he did, and broken up the vast land holdings of the hacienda owners, like he did. Fled Pancho Villa! Driven off our ranch! Such nonsense! What did people think Pasqual had been in the past, a hacendado? A rich guy?
Cult Pasqual and I never had any ranch; we lived in squalor in Mexico before being discovered by our manager, Mike, and brought to the SellsFloto Circus. We certainly had not been landed men. It was Pancho Villa who had broken up the huge farms and parceled them out to widows and orphans. Pasqual’s story is a stupid story, meant to appeal to the ignorant or to the richer members of our audience, the curious businessmen and the well-to-do bluestockings slumming for an hour. These people cannot imagine the pain of being a poor widow driven off of one’s land, because they were so driven as emigrants to come to America and make widows out of the native population. Pancho Villa is a folk hero to a lot of Americans, though--Villa even has recruited some Americans for his army. Naturally, these people do not care much for Pasqual Pinon and the Sells-Floto Circus--they accuse us of being a fake. I hate vast land holdings. I hate the hacendados who gobble up fertile land for their farms and their cattle, while women and children beg for pesos at the gates. A man should not have more land than he needs to feed his family while others are forced into a nomad’s existence, owning nothing and belonging nowhere, unseen, invisible, and starving. Me, I feel just like a nomad--I am invisible, I am starving-and Pasqual is the hacendado! Hell, Pasqual’s made-up story makes sense after all! I take back what I said earlier--Pasqual is a hacendado, for he has more than enough of this body that he hates, while I am left with almost nothing. Pasqual and I are at war. Well, even though Pasqual “fled” Pancho Villa, he can never flee from me! One of the exhibits at the Sells-Floto Circus is an exhibit of fossils. It is one of the few exhibits that is precisely what it claims to be: just a big rock upon which the raised, bumpy remains of millions of yearsold creatures are entangled forever, but it is my favorite thing. I love to look at it whenever Pasqual walks me near it, in the “Witness to Eden” tent near the circus entrance, although we do not go there much. But there is this one fossil that I like, that I always look for whenever we walk by, that I say hello to in my mind. It is a loner, set off by itself in the stone, away from the others all crowded together like the pile of chicken bones out behind the mess tent. (Pasqual, with his pretentions about General Pershing, calls it a “mess” tent, and so do I, but what 8
Kristin Harley glee there is for me to know that he does not suspect the existence of our opposing armies!) Jonathan, the half-man--the Sells-Floto Circus has a half-man, whose body stops just below his belly-button, and so he has no legs, no genitals, and therefore like the fossils he is an exhibit that shows exactly what the placard says--Jonathan had told me (he had said this and looked at me) that this particular fossil was called a trilobite. I like the name, too. Trilobite. It is not exactly a small creature, this trilobite--it is about the length of Pasqual’s hand, yet it is certainly not as large as most dinosaurs are. However, according to Jonathan, the trilobites had come along and died out long before there were any dinosaurs. It looked like a cross between a centipede and a crab, though its legs had been soft tissue and had not fossilized. It had a strange, elongated head, like that of certain snails, from which long antennae extended like curved goat horns. This Trilobite was simply the most peculiar creature that I had ever seen, apart from me, that is, but unlike me the fossil was extremely popular with visitors to the circus, particularly with young boys who would tug at their parents’ hands to slow them as they walked past the “Witness to Eden” tent, and, having cajoled their parents into approaching the trilobite, the boys ooh and ahh and point at it in a way that nobody ever does to me. (Even when they gawk at me, nobody points that me, except for Pasqual himself. Usually the lack of pointing would be a sign of respect, but not at a circus.) Nevertheless I feel a particular kinship with this creature, off on its own on the stone like a bird in space, its ovalesque body like that of a dirigible, free in the sky like a dirigible, separate, independent, capable of its own movement. Jonathan told me that the trilobite species was now extinct, that it had lived millions of years ago and died out, but Pasqual scoffed at that. Pasqual is a practicing Catholic, which is to say, he practices saying his rosary and his prayers so that he can repeat them on cue for the gullible reporters and for the crowd, too few of whom will repeat with him, “Amen.” Many people like to think of Pasqual’s religion as a comfort to him in his suffering. In fact, the prayers are mere pretense, and sometimes I also think that the few audience members who show compassion are only pretending to believe, for Pasqual is so unpleasant a person, and who in the world could worship a God who had also made us way that we are?
Cult “That’s lies,” retorted the good Catholic boy. “If we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” In fact he had heard a man in the audience say the same thing just a few hours ago. Pasqual was always imitating people; he was quite a monkey, himself. “Well, what’s that growth on your head?” Jonathan asked. “Don’t you call it your ‘monkey?’ You say that all the time. Just yesterday you said, ‘This is not a human head on my head, but a throwback, a baboon-” “Shut up,” said the eloquent Pasqual. “That is different.” “Man--how do you know that someone isn’t in there?” insisted Jonathan then. When I heard those words, I focused on Jonathan’s face with all my concentration. I laboriously worked to blink my numb, stiff eyelids. I even tried to pry open my fused lips, but to no avail. Let Jonathan see me. If there is a God in Heaven, let Jonathan see me! “In where?” Pasqual grunted, as if he did not know. “There!” And Jonathan pointed at me. He was actually pointing at me! Furiously, I blinked my eyes. I couldn’t. My face is stiff and hard, and seemingly lifeless. My eyes are as expressionless as two raisins. I perch on the top of Pasqual’s head like some grotesque hat, like a vulture eternally lying in wait for Prometheus to die, except that Pasqual is no Prometheus. “Are you out of your mind?” Pasqual demanded. “That head is empty. I abandoned it when I was twelve. My mind is here, now.” He pointed to the lump that passed for his own face. “There’s nobody else in there. If there was, wouldn’t you think I’d know about it?” “But if there were two brains, you wouldn’t know his thoughts,” Jonathan argued. “You wouldn’t know he was there. Raymond doesn’t know his twin’s thoughts--he doesn’t even know if his twin has any thoughts. You can’t think somebody else’s thoughts. When you think a thought, it’s yours.” “Oh, shut up,” Pasqual repeated. He strode angrily away from Jonathan, and the face of the short half-man swung out of my sight. He walked me away from the only person who had imagined that I could exist, from the only really educated man that I knew, Jonathan--and from my friend, the trilobite, stuck there on its rock, not free after all, but anchored to its rock that had become its body, for its body had become rock. I was a fossil, just like it. 10
Kristin Harley I hate you, Pasqual! * * * Pasqual woke up in foul mood the next morning, because he knew that we had to go to the doctor. Our manager, Mike, who is so lazy about everything else, about paying us, or buying us new clothes, or getting us a new bed to replace the one that we had broken--because in a vain attempt to cultivate friends in the circus, Pasqual tried to throw a party in our wagon, and the pinheads, who are not supposed to be drinking alcohol in the first place, got drunk and jumped on our bed until a besotted Raymond playfully threw himself and twin on the mattress, and sent it crashing to the floor--is downright steadfast about getting us to the doctor. He is adamant about our monthly visit. We are a cash cow for Mike, but our health is problematic. Pasqual has asthma and often has attacks, and coupled with his weight, the strain on his heart worries Mike. He doesn’t want anything to happen to us. The question is a quandary for me, too. Pasqual hates going to see the doctor. I don’t know why; I rather enjoy getting away from the circus to visit the doctor as his clean, civilized office, but whenever we have to go to the doctor, Pasqual throws a fit. If he would just shut up and go, and get it over with, we could be back at the circus all the more sooner, but Pasqual does not use his brain. Sometimes I wonder is Pasqual even has a brain, and from the way that the others have been talking about us, so have the other freaks. Mike tried to cajole Pasqual this time with an offer of a beer, which revealed just how desperate Mike was this morning, but Pasqual had started drinking the minute that he dragged me out of our broken bed that morning, and one more beer was not going to make a difference. “Pasqual, don’t ruin this,” our manager lashed out angrily. “Go to hell,” drawled the drunken Pasqual. “Go fuck your mother. Leave me alone. I’m tired.” He sat on our mattress on the floor of our wagon and belched like he was trying to regurgitate our internal organs. Mike took one wild look at our disheveled wagon as if he had not seen it before. Raymond had even told Mike that he was the one to break our bed, and yet Mike had not done a thing about it. Yet now, he looked around himself as if seeing the squalor of our wagon for the first time. “Pasqual--Jesus! What’s happened to you? Are you out of your mind? Did you sleep with that damn thing on your head again? Take
Cult that prop off and get over here.” And he reached out and untied the string that was hidden under Pasqual’s thick hair. Pasqual raised his fist--he had a big fist--and hit the man. Mike fell back, and Pasqual stood up and advanced, striking our manager so that he tumbled out of the doorway of our wagon. He twirled down the ladder steps and went down into the mud face-first. Peals of laughter broke out, first from the other freaks in the circus, who no matter what stuck together against outsiders, and especially against managers, whom we all hated; and then there was laughter from a few passers-by who were peeking through the chinks in the fence to see what was going on. Pasqual stomped toward the prone man, but a hand caught his arm. “Pasqual, stop,” said Raymond, Raymond with the Siamese twin sticking out of his stomach. The two legs hung limp from the bottom of his untucked shirtwaist. Pasqual started forward again, and Raymond held him back. Pasqual turned suddenly to Raymond with a murderous drunk look. The two began to struggle and, as always whenever Raymond exerted himself, the twin legs began to flail and kick as well. The legs kicked Pasqual right in the gut. Sweating, glaring, and swearing a blue streak as always, Pasqual arched and bent over, trying to throw Raymond off, and Raymond held firm. One of the twin legs came up and kicked Pasqual between the legs, right in the groin. Pasqual doubled over, and everyone burst into guffaws, and how I wished then that I too could laugh! One of the circus workers chased the onlookers away from the fence. They ran, guffawing at this spectacle. Everyone was doubled over in laughter. Pasqual was one of us, but he was intensely disliked-in our group, he was even more of an outsider than I was. Our manager was climbing to his feet amidst the laughing as Pasqual danced around, holding his crotch. Even Raymond chuckled, but with Pasqual loose he backed off quickly. Our manager massaged his jaw while he peering at us. With a final, furious grunt, Pasqual pulled me upright with himself. “All right,” said our manager. “Now that you’ve gotten that out of your system, take that fucking thing off right now.” He raised a finger and pointed it right at me.
Kristin Harley “I can’t get it off,” Pasqual replied. “Take it off? What are you talking about, take if off? Don’t you think I’ve wanted this off? Don’t you think I’d chop it off, if I could?” He burst into violent coughs, like a dog barking. Our manager sighed. “Pasqual, you’re drunk again, after all the times I talked you about your drinking, and I have just about had it up to here with you.” He put that finger, the same one he had pointed at me, to his head, as if to indicate his own unwanted twin. It never occurred to me before that Pasqual was a parasite to him, too. “Now take off your stupid head and come with me. I’m taking you to the doctor right now. I don’t like the sound of that cough.” “If he takes off the ‘stupid’ head,” Raymond chortled, “he’ll just be left with the fake one!” He pointed at me then, too. There was more laughter from the freaks, but our manager just stood and looked at Pasqual, waiting. Pasqual’s shoulders heaved. As our manager watched, he hiccupped into ugly, slurpy, ridiculous sobs. Yes, he was drunk. “Then tell the doctor to help me get rid of this thing!” he blared, jabbing his own fat finger almost into my eye. Raymond’s jaw dropped. Our manager looked furious. “Pasqual,” Mike hissed, drawing very close to us, “this is a good doctor who will keep confidentiality, now shut up! None of your act, now. I need you to go see him, but if you start this with him, I swear to God, I’ll--” Raymond drew close. He had a curious expression on his face. “I want it off!” Pasqual bellowed. His voice made my own head throb. “I want to get rid of this thing! I’m sick of it, I tell you--I’m sick of it!” He raised his hands to me, as if to claw me from him. “I want to be normal, normal, damn you! Damn you!” Both Raymond and our manager leaped forward to catch Pasqual’s arms. They held his wrists at his sides. “Pasqual--you idiot!” yelled our manager. “You’ll ruin it!” Pasqual flailed. “Raymond, help me. He’s broken the damn string again.” There was a snap, and suddenly I was dangling in mid-air, and flapping against Pasqual’s cheek. The world hung upside-down, and everything was distorted, blurred. I wanted to scream, but it was Pasqual who bellowed. “Listen, Mike--” began Raymond. He was helping Mike to hold Pasqual.
Cult They both restrained the struggling Pasqual, while I bounced around Pasqual’s neck like a bonnet on its strings. Pasqual sank to his knees, gobbling like a beast in pain. “Get rid of it! Get rid of it!” he shrieked. He tried again to grab at me, and Raymond along with our manager held him by the elbows. “What in God’s name are you going on about?” yelled our manager. “Have you gone crazy? You know perfectly well that that’s a phony appendage on your head. It’s a false head and there’s a string fastening it to your forehead. Now it’s caught. Hold still, and I’ll pull it off!” “What are you saying?” asked Raymond. “It’s not phony, Mike. It’s a tumor. He’s had that tumor all of his life.” Our manager shook him off. “Oh Christ, Raymond, you know that the mask covering the tumor is what I’m talking about!” He reached again for me as I flopped. Pasqual twisted and convulsed with sobs, like a bawling dog. “You’ve made him wear that mask day and night, and repeat that absurd story, and live his absurd life,” Raymond interjected, “and now you’re surprised that he’s flipped?” “He has not flipped,” insisted our manager. “Mike, open your eyes! He believes it now. He’s worn that mask every day for years like you told him to. It’s done something to his mind!” “Ah, he hasn’t got any mind,” grunted our manager with a wave of his hand. “He’s an idiot. A Texas laborer with a lump on his head and a damned paper maché prop over it. Without me he’d be nothing, the ungrateful rotter! The ungrateful whoreson! I plucked you out of the damned fields!” he yelled at Pasqual. Pasqual continued to struggle, so Mike hit us. The mask fastened to Pasqual’s forehead flew off and landed in the mud not far from where Mike had lain minutes earlier. “Dammit, now it’s broken again,” said Mike, as Pasqual wallowed in the mud. “Now it’s broken, damn you, and this is coming out of your pay once more.” Everything was always coming out of our pay. “Stop, Mike,” said Raymond. “Oh, shut up, Raymond!” Pasqual put both hands on either side of his body and pushed himself upright. He was covered in mud. He sat there, in the mud puddle, and took a few breaths while Mike, arms folded, glared at him. Very 14
Kristin Harley calmly, Pasqual pushed himself up to stand. He swiped at the mud on his arms with great dignity. “Pasqual, are you ready to cooperate, now?” Mike asked. “My name is Mañuel Pinon,” replied Pasqual. “Pasqual is gone. He was killed by a peasant Mexican raider commanded by Pancho Villa himself. I hereby claim his land.” My manager stared. “Hey--” He took a step forward, then another. “Hey, Pasqual?” “Oh, my God,” said Raymond. “My name is Mañuel Pinon,” I said, “and I’ve taken over our body now.” Mike growled, “What game are you playing now?” “You made him wear that mask,” whispered Raymond, “and look at him.” “Pasqual died, as all pig hacendados should,” I declared. My manager wiped his face. “Shut up. This is another trick. He’ll snap out of it. He always does. He always has before.” “It’s a different voice,” Raymond told him. “Don’t be an idiot, Raymond.” “Listen to him!” Raymond insisted. “Shut up, Raymond!” “Vive la revolución!” I shouted. END
An Encounter – Joseph Bishop “Hey, vacation’s over!” a gravelly voice barked. My garbled moan was supposed to have been a proper military response; somehow, I don’t think it came out that way. I found it was a struggle to gather comprehendible thoughts from the fog that was my mind. I noticed a layer of dust had coated the spit shined surface of my boots. He beckoned me to enter. “Sir, Corporal Robert Perry, reporting for duty, sir!” I barked. “At ease, Corporal.” The captain gave a lazy salute. I placed my journal down in his tent. Every day, I wrote to my wife and, every day, I waited for her silence to break. “No news?” He shook his head. “Same ol’?” He shook again, “This time in a different direction.” “That’s what you said last time, sir.” “I feel lucky this time though. We’re close.” “You said that too, sir.” Several hours creped by as we inched our way to the summit west of the old camp. About midday, we pushed our way through the clogged terrain to what would be our new basecamp. At first, we named each camp. Camp Charlie. Camp Glenmiller. Camp Hwath. Camp Kilowatz. Camp Detroit. Camp Flagg. We gave up after Flagg. We were on break when it happened. It. The thing we all knew would happen someday. “Okay, boys and girls, it is time for us to get the hell out of here.” Our captain announced as he did every day for the last three months. We descended the wall as quickly as we could. We didn’t pause to rest. We lit out like the devil himself was in pursuit. He was. Half way down, the captain stopped. I just stared at him. He grinned widely. He upholstered his sidearm before we understood that grin. At the first shot, we scattered like rats trying to find cover. We ran. He was near. I tripped. Held my breath. He flew past me. I sighed. Then the worst happened. Shouting. 16
Joseph Bishop Shrieking. Silence. Multiple gun shots. Silence. I hesitated. He saw me first. I hesitated. He pulled out his knife, the gun well spent. I ran. My friends slashed and stabbed blindly at him as I ran. The night was my friend. The darkness protected me. “Damn shame.” The voice came from the captain, but I couldn’t see from where. The darkness protected him too. A flash. Not lighting, but something else. I could feel my body. Every time a flash happened, I could feel my body. There was no one left. The only sound was my breathing. A knife. My knife. My hand gripped around the shaft. Sweat dripped from my face. I brushed it away and the knife kissed my cheek. He laughed. I turned towards the laugh. He was there. He had watched me. Patient. Watched. Waited. I watched his dead eyes but they didn’t move. I pushed forward. Fast. I pushed the knife deep. Pause. Deeper. Deeper still until I couldn’t move. I rolled off of him. I had won. I thought of my wife. A tear came to my eyes. It dropped on the captain. He blinked.
Picasso’s Crimson – Gina Perales Black. A forbidden darkness. Temptuous. Unfathomable. Blind and haunting. Cigarette smoke meandering through a cool, musky breeze. A taking when no one is watching. White. An illuminating light. Cleanliness. Idealism. Everything your mother taught you to be. A Snuggie of social moral comfort. Orange blossoms on a summer’s day. That was how I saw the world: Through one black and white Picassoesque glass window. Marriage, motherhood, job, security, truth – white. Crime, lying, cheating, unconventional sex – black. There was some gray. But those pieces could be contained by rules and laws. Life was easy that way. And then 40 hit, shattering my beautiful mosaic, wounding me, forcing me to see another color, to bleed … Crimson. The essence of life. Fiery. Passionate. Tingly. Pain. Love. Tears of joy. Insanity. I try to pick up the shards of my Picasso with unprotected hands. But it’s too late. “Mommy you’re bleeding,” my 6-year-old says, pointing to my finger as I am wiping down the kitchen island. Her eyes widen and search for my reaction. I know if I scream, she will panic; but if I’m calm, she’ll act accordingly. “I am?” I ask. I search for the cut and examine the trickle. “Hmm. I didn’t even feel it.” My daughter volunteers to be the doctor, complete with pink, plastic stethoscope, but real Band-Aid. She kisses my booboo. “Take some Tylenol and call me in the morning,” she announces. “But it doesn’t hurt,” I protest. “I’m the doctor, remember?” “Oh yes. Right doc.” I tell the doctor it’s her bed time. My muscles are numb. A yawn escapes me. But laundry and work hover over me on this moonless Sunday night. “Goodnight, sleep tight,” her dad says to her, then tucks her in. Kisses her on the forehead. It’s my turn. Mwa. “I love you,” I say. “I love you, too.” 18
Gina Perales He turns out the light. Turns it on again. Brings her a glass of water and reads her a bedtime story, then kisses her again. And when little one is finally in bed and dreaming of peppermint houses and fairy forests, “I’m headed to bed, too,” he says. “People from headquarters will be there. I’ll probably be later than usual.” Later than usual? Ten p.m. pops into my mind – the time it is now – because he’s usually home by 8 o’clock. “Goodnight,” he says. “Goodnight,” I say, typing on my computer in the living room. No inflection, no kiss, no hug from him, not a thank you for fixing dinner, cleaning the kitchen, washing his tighty whities. Nothing but … White. My Iphone illuminates the night with a buzz from a secret IM: “Here are your instructions for tomorrow: Get off work by 4 p.m. Say you have a meeting with a client. Wear your silky skirt, stockings and heels, black suit jacket and pink blouse – business like. Bring your blue one and pink one. Call me when you are five minutes away for the rest of your instructions.” The cut on my index finger stings a little as I type: “Yes, sir.” The next morning is a whirlwind. Little one is up and off to school – backpack on, lunch packed, hair brushed. At work, a staff meeting. I settle in, my silk skirt slipping against my skin, right above the black laced stockings. I cross my legs to feel the softness, the tickle. “I want all of you to review the three-year strategic plan by Friday,” I say. Heads bob. I glance at the clock. Six more hours. A flurry of calls and meetings. Fires to snuff out. Orders to command. And all I can think about are my instructions. And that the grip on my stockings is so tight it dredges lacy tracks in my skin. The cut on my finger burns a little. I wonder if anyone will miss me at work. And then finally I’m weaving through traffic, through strangers who all seem to be on a mission. I’m no different. I turn the thermostat down in the car and feel the air cool my pulse. I call. “Meet me at my house with your bag in hand. The door will be unlocked. Are you wearing what I ordered?” “Yes sir,” I say. “Good girl.” I love it when he calls me that. Soothing. But my fingers still shake as they reach for the door handle. This is our third meeting in person. I
Cult don’t know how it’s going to go. I take a deep breath, hold it and turn the knob. Inside, something spicy simmers. Italian? Mexican? My stomach grumbles. I scan the sunlit living room, which is decorated in rich chocolate and cool tans. He is nowhere to be found. Then a hand grabs me from behind and pushes me up against the wall. My mind spins. My wrists are pinned. My breath quickens. The hand slips evenly under my skirt. “I didn’t tell you to wear panties,” he whispers in my ear. “But you didn’t tell me NOT to wear any.” “Omission isn’t permission,” he growls pushing me harder. My cut is throbbing now. “Yes, sir,” is all I can manage to say. He spins me around, his lips centimeters from mine and he lingers there, breathing, sea green eyes locked. He runs his hand over my panties and rips them apart. “For this you will be punished,” he says. Before I even have time to process what just happened, I’m shackled in black leather cuffs, stomach down, to his metal headboard, and only he has the key to the tiny locks on my wrists. My ankles are cuffed as well, tethered to the frame. The bed envelopes me. A hint of leather slakes my nose complemented by the vanilla-scented candles, which glow in the darkness he has created by closing the shutters. We are naked. I am trembling. Oh how long I have waited for this! Two months, three days and 40 seconds to be precise. Or is it 40 years? It was a crisp September Dallas day. We had arranged to meet at a Chili’s after a week’s worth of back and forth emails, a couple of phone calls, and plenty of honest conversations about dirty, dark sex sex I’ve only fantasized about but had never told anyone. Not even my husband. It was crazy, to meet some stranger. Let alone be kissing him an hour later, some shaved- head, tattooed stranger who knew all the right things to say, the right things to ask, the right way to touch, to kiss, to withhold, to provoke. The goosebumps did it. Something my body had never experienced from a touch, from a word. It begged for more, my mouth saying eight little words, eight weighty, lofty words: I would like to begin my training, please. 20
Gina Perales But he pushed me away. “Are you sure?” he asked, his eyes searching. “Yes.” I answered without thought. “Yes, what?” he whispered, his light-as-a-feather fingers now curling themselves around my throat. I stared hard into the future, my pussy on fire, my breath heavy and ragged. “Yes,” I gasped. “Yes, Sir.” At 40, my training had begun. I could no longer deny myself. I said goodbye to black, to white, my old Picasso and embraced who I really was, down deep under layers and layers of Catholic guilt, social morality, sexual pretense upon pretense. “Good girl,” he said and melted me into his arms. And now here I am, cuffed and exposed. Sensuous. In the corner of my eye I spot what will hurt me. A flogger made of soft yet sturdy leather tendrils. A black jellyfish. “I want you to count out loud,” he orders. “Yes, sir.” I squeeze my eyes. One – The first across my ass. Hmm. Not as hard as I thought it was going to be. I sigh relief. Two – A little harder than the first. Stings a little, but I’m so aroused that it fades quickly. A low smolder ensues. Three – This one across my back and deeper this time. It burns. Tiny pricks of heat splade near my left kidney. I pull on my cuffs, mostly for show. Four – This one wraps around my waist. I catch my breath. If it gets any harder I don’t know if I can take it. I try to relax. Steady flames. Five – Back on my right cheek. Fuck it hurts. My back and ass are ablaze with this one. Streaked in crimson I’m sure. How much more I can take? I remember my safe words. But I really don’t think I’ll have to use them. Do I? He is upset I didn’t follow his orders. But he is not angry … I don’t think. Six – Ass again. Holy mother. Breathing heavy now. Biting lips. My heart attacks me. I want to cry. Writhing pain, this time not for show. I can take it. I can take it. I CAN TAKE IT. But another does not come. Instead, he runs his hand up the insides of my leg. I am soaking, and not from sweat.
Cult He probes my pussy and whispers in my ear, “I expect you never to wear panties unless told to do so.” “Yes, sir,” I say. And he kisses the small of my back, over the welts where I’ve been stung. The goose bumps return to soothe the pain. He rewards me for taking his punishment. First the blue vibrator, then the pink one. Orgasm after orgasm. The most I’ve ever cum. In turn, I satisfy him. Twice. He uncuffs me, breathless and sinks into the bed alongside me, caressing the sides of my face. I know I’m glowing … white, warm. He traces his finger down my cheek, my throat, my sternum and back up to my shoulder until he reaches the inside of my wrists and leather cuffs. “You’re bleeding through your Band-Aid.” “I know.” He retrieves a fresh Band-Aid from his medicine cabinet and carefully cleans and wraps my wound. “That’s pretty deep,” he says. The throbbing subsides. We kiss. “Hungry?” he asks, a big grin on his goateed face. “What do you think?” My stomach apparently answering on cue. He dresses me in his robe, which swallows me. The kitchen smells so delicious, thick and humid, carnal. Sun filters in through the sliding glass door. I feel its heat on my face. “I’ve never had anyone cook for me before,” I say as he brings a spoonful to my mouth. “I’ve never had anyone I’ve really wanted to cook for,” he says and then licks the corner of my mouth where some sauce had tried to escape. The lasagna is almost as good as pain. “I thought you were going to kill me.” “Really?” He raises an eyebrow and returns to the stove. “Good. That’s the point isn’t it? You know I wouldn’t ever hurt you. For real I mean.” He grins. “No I don’t know that,” I say. “No one ever does. You don’t need a flogger to hurt someone.” He serves me a portion and I dig in uncontrollably. “True.” He says. “But you know what I mean.” “Pain is pain,” I say. “Whether it’s physical, emotional, or mental. The only thing worse is not feeling at all. And I would take pain over that any day.” “But you don’t have to you know. You could change things.” 22
Gina Perales All of a sudden I have lost my appetite and I push the food away. “What if I’m not ready to change things? What if I’m not strong enough?” He pushes the plate back to me and looks at me, deep into me. “You are strong enough. Just because you are submissive doesn’t mean you are weak. You do it every day. With work, with clients. I’ve heard you.” I analyze this information. This self-realization. He is right. It’s my inner circle I have problems with. The people I love. And once again my Picasso is rearranged. He pushes the hair out of my face and orders me to take a bite, then feeds me. My stomach settles a bit. There is a moment of silence. He is falling in love with me. He tells me with his eyes. I’m not ready, mine say. “How did you get the cut on your finger, anyway?” he asks. “I noticed it right when you walked in, but I was too busy thinking about what I was going to do to you to ask.” We chuckle. I tell him I don’t know. Probably washing dishes. He runs his finger over the Band -Aid. Holds my hand. And we finish our meal like this. Soft, quiet. As soon as dinner is done he orders me to get dressed and I’m on my way home. I feel like Dorothy on her way back to Kansas. Except this is Dallas, and traffic is a bitch. It takes me an hour to get home and pick up my daughter from after-school care. She is cranky. “How was your day?” “The worst ever!” She whines and goes through a list of horrible, no good, terrible things that happened that day. I am hearing, but not listening. My back stings a little, and I smile. The rest of the night is a laundry list of, well, laundry, dinner, bath and bedtime. Again I am numb and yawning. He strolls in at a quarter past 10, as I suspected. I am sweeping. “How was your day?” I ask. “Okay,” he says. “Yours?”
Cult “Okay.” I say as I stare at him, trying hard to push the words out. I feel nauseous, a thick lump of lasagna stuck, my back stinging, my cut pounding. He puts the keys on the kitchen island. Pours himself a bourbon and Coke. And that’s when he notices. Finally, finally notices. “When did you get that?” he asks, pointing to my finger. I look up at him, then at my finger, pressing the cut against my thumb. “A while ago,” I say, putting the broom aside, readying myself for what will come next. “But I think it’s beginning to heal.”
The Art Colony on Pill Hill San Diego – Jenean McBrearty Shattering Georges’ shutters, a screamer yodels, then stops abruptly like someone yanked a tongue, pulled down the dangling uvula to choke the terror out of a beach babe. It’s the music critic again, shaking his shudders at an uncontrolled soprano piping her organs in his studio. He lives beside an artist who servers hands from arms of different colors, linking their fingers in forced brotherhood poses as their owners watch him, bewildered, make a bronzed collage to celebrate diversity. He takes photographs for a collection he calls Meeting Mahatma Marx for MOMA. He’s confused about his concept, but on Sundays we consume the carcasses of talentless teens who wanted a selfie with somebody famous. Georges rolls over and returns to his dreams of the suffering stage wannabes who are acting like starving zombies in his cellar. Bone soup being his contribution to the pot-luck. A recording of their pleas and moaning
Cult made on his Bose equipment., to add a dash of levity.
Sure, we five aging rebels have a cause ridding the Harbor of the Sun of those who would aspire to change their role. Had they kept their heads, they may have kept their heads. For we are gate-keepers and sound sleepers, except for the occasional objection from our models, who could once afford to live in gated communities. Philipe Murat, Poet in Resident, Artist’s Colony “I love it. Love it,” Cynthia Stone gushed as she walked through the gallery and stopped at Ian Butcher’s Flame of Friendship bas relief collage. “I don’t know how you get those hands to look so different and so real.” Braverman Stone, her usually disinterested husband drew closer to inspect the hands that appeared more in death grips than greetings. “I don’t love it, but I must have it. How much?” Ian did a quick pet of his goatee. “Hhmm. I couldn’t let it go for any less than two hundred thousand.” “Not even a hundred ninety-seven thousand? I wanted to donate three thousand to the Artist Colony Retirement Fund tonight.” “Well, if it’s for a good cause...how can I refuse?” He took the check from Braverman’s hand, and did his own inspection. “You’ve beautiful fingers, Mr. Stone. As feminine as a woman’s. So soft.” He brought up his other hand and put them both around the warm, slender flesh at the end of a plump, ripe arm. “Let me take a picture of them. I’ll make you a star of MOMA.” 26
Jenean McBrearty “Stop, Ian. Braverman has an ego the size of Mt. Shasta already,” Cynthia said. “I’ll let you take a picture, if you lower the price for the Flame of Friendship,” Braverman said, withdrawing his hand and waving it in front of Ian’s eyes. Seductively. Torturing him. Fredrick the Russian, as the music critic was called, had wandered over, attracted by the fleshy metronome. “Do you sing also, Mr. Stone?” he asked. Mrs. Stone rolled her eyes. “I can’t take this fawning anymore. Enjoy your mutual admiration session, gentlemen.” She floated away towards the buffet table where a line was forming. “Such a jealous bitch,” Ian whispered to Fredrick. “In that case, she’d probably miss him if he ever disappeared,” Frederick counseled. “I’ll let you have the Flame for a hundred thousand. How’s that?” Ian said. Braverman plucked the check out of Ian’s hand and crumpled it into a ball. “Sold!” and wrote another check. “What time do you want me at the studio?” *** The Colony was a group of five two-story houses that, in California style, were built twelve feet apart—just enough space to accommodate a car driving to its garage that sat off either to the right or the left of the backyard. Built by easterners, the houses all had cellars which made them more expensive to construct, and buy, but worth every penny to the space and privacy hungry artists. These particular houses had the distinction of facing a row of houses that were now rented out as offices to the doctors and dentists and lawyers who once lived in them. “Most fortunate,” Frederick explained when the five of them met for a walk-through with the realtor, “They’re too busy in the daytime for anyone to pay attention to who comes and goes where, and deserted at night.” “Parking may seem like a problem, but you’re right on a bus line,” Mizz Happy House-seller noted as they waltzed through the rooms. “Our patrons are not the kind who ride buses,” Ian had said icily. But, as it turned out, they all told their aspiring young models and would-be protégés to come by bus.
Cult But Ian couldn’t tell Braverman Stone to come by bus. “Let’s meet at the House of Hospitality. Say, noonish? You can leave your car in the El Cid parking area, and I’ll drive you to my studio.” No, he should leave Mrs. Stone at home. Modeling is often tedious work. Many people don’t understand that. Ian kept their first session deliberately short, just long enough for him to take ten photographs of Braverman’s white hands in various poses on black velvet. “May I see today’s photos next time?” Braverman wanted to know. “Of course. I’ll have added the Butcher touch by then.” “Grotesque. Simply macabre,” Braverman said when he saw the photos. “And simply fabulous. They’re like a death mask only with hands!” Ian had spent three hours the previous night, honing the edge of his axe, and preparing the sedative martini he’d serve to the owner of the prized hands. “I believe exquisite is the word you’re seeking, Mr. Stone. Won’t you sit here at the table?” A butcher’s block table covered with red satin that would soon be soaking up blood. “Dreadfully sorry, but I’m booked on a flight to Japan. I’m taking the Flame of Friendship collage to showing in Tokyo. The man is keen on buying it. I didn’t buy it to sell it, but you understand, he’s made a generous offer.” “But....” “You have your photos. And probably a photoshop program. The pictures you take are too real to be real. Thanks for my prints.” And Braverman and his beautiful hands were gone. *** Try as he might, Ian’s love of perfection would not leave him. He made so many prints of Braverman’s hands, he covered an entire studio wall with them, melding the various exposure colors into one mural. Muriel Han, the only woman in the colony, who painted her lover in oils on the Isle of Lesbos before the she died, called me. “Philipe, I fear for Ian’s sanity.” 28
Jenean McBrearty “That train has already left the station.” I knew Ian would never recover from Braverman’s desertion when I’d heard he’d left before Ian could preserve them. “Then I fear for his art, as he claims he cannot work unless he finds a perfection to take Braverman’s place. Are you still in touch with Rene Bouvier?” “Of course. But her hands are hardly perfection now. She’s seventy if she’s a day.” A Parisian model of hand jewelry who’d been photographed for Vogue and Vanity Fair, Rene was revered as a goddess by Cartier and Bulova alike. It was said she could make a Timex look like a Rolex. “Isn’t a legend better than perfection?” “As long as they’re living, definitely. To themselves especially.” “We have the retirement fund. We could arrange to fly her from Paris to San Diego.” I thought about for a minute. “We’d have to copter her to the airport. Madame Bouvier fears the fascist patrol beheadings as does every artist in France.” The four of us, me, Frederick, Georges and Muriel, met that evening. That fateful evening. The evening Georges told us Rene Bouvier had a granddaughter living in La Jolla. “She dabbles in the Theater. I’m surprised you haven’t heard of her. She played Ophelia at the Globe in last year’s Shakespeare Festival.” “Was she any good?” Muriel asked. “Surprisingly mediocre.” “What about her hands?” Frederick wanted to know. “It doesn’t matter. A reputation for good genes and gloves to cover her flaws will carry the day,” Georges said, “it wouldn’t be the first time a relative of somebody famous had her flaws hidden by good press and camouflage.” Georges always did seem too pragmatic to be a real artist to me, but then actors never quite crossed the merit line when it came to art. Even with recording equipment their performances seemed fleeting, while true art endures. But I agreed we should take a stab at finesse. Georges showed photos of the gloved hands of Rene Bouvier to Ian, and asked if he thought the poses passed artistic muster. Only mildly interested, Ian sighed and said he’d take a look. Georges saw signs of excitement in Ian’s eyes he hadn’t seen in weeks. “Who is the owner of these expressive appendages?”
Cult “Colette Bouvier. The granddaughter of Rene...” “Where did you get these photos?” “From Colette.” For the next two weeks, Ian doted on Georges photos, eventually begging Georges to leave them with him ‘to study.’ But Georges refused. Finally, Ian reached his tipping point, and demanded Georges bring the young woman to his studio. “I must warn, you Ian, Ms. Bouvier does not show her hands to anyone. They’re so much more beautiful than Rene’s, she vowed never to show them until her dear grandmother has passed.” “Respectful and virtuous. I’m humbled.” “Then I’d do something about that mural of Braverman. No one likes comparisons with inferiors.” We believed Ian’s desecration of his own shrine to Braverman marked the end of his Obsession Period, especially because our riff on the Emperor’s New Clothes worked so well. Not even a hint of suggestion that Colette remove her gloves—which she agreed to wear at her invented audition—ever fell from Ian’s lips. Not even after he used his fine-honed blade to separate the object of his desire from their owner. He bronzed them, still gloved, and mounted them on golden spikes on a virginally white block of marble. But we were wrong. The Butcher Boy, felled by his own axe, began his vigil ingloriously. Weaned away from physical perfection, worshipped at the altar of expectation until he wilted into artistic nirvana. He eschewed a chew, rejected a repast, unable to sink his teeth into the reality of the tenderized, breaded and baked athleticism of a beach babe. We feasted while he fasted into skeletal depression, always reaching for the unreachable, longing for the brief moment of ecstasy 30
Jenean McBrearty he first felt each time he controlled the art that others held potentially in their hands. A braver man there never was. Philipe Murat Excerpt from the eulogy of Ian Butcher
Transmogrification – Mahmoud Sharif 6:15 am. The clock flashes in digital green. I really got that bitch. Amanda. Humiliated her in front of everyone. It’s so nice to feel that I was right. She cried. Fell to the ground. Dumb lesbian. Everyone knows because of me. All her love letters for all to see. She deserved that. She was nice to me all the time; she shouldn’t have been nice. It’s all her fault. I hated her. The same with my sister and her friends. All women. I’d shoot them if I could. My bed is so nice, when I don’t feel the stress to wake up for work. Sunday. No need to plan for today. I feel weaker this morning. Half asleep. Eyes are shut. So weak. Women. They sweet talk to get all they want. They always agree to everything that the system orders them do. They never rebel. I have never seen one in freedom movements. They don’t have a mind of their own. Us men had to die to get independence—to free them—and that’s how they thank us, by working for the system, the banks, and the government to control us. A strange sensation inside my belly—damn sister’s cooking— can’t even do what women are for. It’s like a T-Rex banging a gong in my stomach. Who can endure these women? Some men do. Traitors. They defend women’s rights and all that affirmative action crap. Ratio of women here. Ratio of women there. Sickening. Warm and cozy. Today will be a nice day. Surely. Slander the first woman that I see. That’s my plan for the day. I’ll feel even better. I’ll get my revenge, “You look like a cow”, or “Can I drink some of your milk?” or “You stole my job, you ugly freak!” My fist—no force. My hip—swollen. Curved. All these creatures are curved. Sick of them. Just conversations about Walmart discounts, dresses, food recipes, and curtains. I want to die just by hearing them speak. They can’t even stand straight. The hell? Threads of hair all over my face. Why is this hair coming from? Shaved my entire head last week. After that tattoo. No muscles on my arms. Elbows are slim. Strange. Dammit. I quit the gym. Too many women. Switched to boxing instead. Never see 32
Mahmoud Sharif them in a ring. Always want to compete with men. Prove themselves. Let them come to a ring. I’ll show them—show all of those bitches. Twats. All of them. They come to the aid of illegal aliens all the time. Bring them into the country. Help them steal our jobs. YouTube. Best way to learn. Who needs school? Schools are for women. Designed to make men fail and women pass. Frack. Skin softer too. What’s going on? Strange changes. My chest, just fat and meat bouncing. Dreaming? I’ll wake up. The mirror, a look —a woman—brunette with long hair. Mimics me. She’s there. Me? Breasts. Long hair? The floor. Crawl. Scream A girl’s scream.
His Mom’s Toyota – Matt Sweder The summer of ’93 was my zenith. I was a freshman going in to my sophomore year and Nirvana was about to put out In Utero. It was a time before the digital age: cell phones were non-existent, money wasn’t a plastic card, and albums weren’t downloaded off the Internet. Plus, you could wear flannel without being a douche, Matthew McConaughey was introduced to the world, and gas prices were cheap enough to get you anywhere on five dollars—though, it shouldn’t have quite yet been a concern of mine. But most of all, it was the summer I’d met Molly. I’d anticipated her arrival; it was only a matter of when, so it wasn’t surprising when the loud clank of the pebble against my bedroom window startled me amid my pre- date session with “Jill”— the name my right hand spelled when I held it out and spread my fingers. I pulled the curtain aside and opened the window. “Let’s go, James,” Molly said, loud enough for me to hear from the second floor, but still quiet, cautious of not disturbing my parents watching TV in the living room. “Give me a minute,” I said back down to her, at the same frequency, closing the curtain and fidgeting with my fly. I put the paraphernalia back in their right places to eliminate the suspicion of self-indulgence: my dad’s back- issue of Playboy tucked under my mattress, the hand lotion hidden on the top shelf in my closet, behind the cluster of old t-shirts I’d never wear again, and the tissue box inconspicuously placed on the nightstand next to my bed, disguised as an instrument used during the cold and flu season. I pressed down on the light switch and leaned halfway out the window. I took notice to Molly’s tattered brown sweater, a fashion accessory with a double purpose: keeping her warm from the cool summer night and outlining the great shape of her curves. Or the latter could have been what she wore underneath: the hot pink Wonderbra— the strap making an appearance at the top of her shoulder—a Canadian fashion accessory that hasn’t quite yet made its way into the States, gifted to her by her Haligonian relative. I was shell-shocked, a deer in headlights, trapped in the gaze of ethereal awe. 34
Matt Sweder “Come on,” Molly said, anxious to complete the mission, trying to keep the chances of being caught to a minimum. “What are you doing just standing there?” I snapped back to, and climbed out to the lattice that lined the siding of the house—my mother’s failed attempt at a green thumb, the poor pursuit of growing ivy. I inched my way down most of the way. I took my time—I was new to the art of sneaking out—and pushed off the side, jumping down the remaining distance to the grass. We scuffled through the side of the lawn, our heads held low, along the tree- line into the neighbor’s backyard, Molly’s car parked just on the other side of the intersecting street. Molly’s Buick had seen better days, a hand-me-down from her grandmother passed on to her mother, and now on to her— the family heirloom in lieu of that precious engagement ring; the success rate of sticking to vows in the Connolly family was slim. With its age, the car had trouble starting sometimes. The trick was to give it a little bit of gas whilst turning the key, but the Buick’s engine—ravaged by the influx of excessive fuel into the carburetor—ensued by Molly’s foot pressing down too far on the gas pedal, caused by the slight impairment of chemical imbalance—granted to her by the mini-ransack of her parents’ liquor cabinet— didn’t combust. “It’s flooded,” she said. “We’re not going anywhere for a while.” “We can take my mom’s car,” I said. Almost a full eight months younger than Molly’s stale seventeenth birthday, I was just a few weeks shy of consummating my relationship with the DMV, but because of my admiration for Molly and my hopes of losing the proverbial “it,” I took the presumptuous approach anyway. Disobeying the matriarchal bond and sixteen years of loyalty, I snuck into the house through the backdoor— tiptoeing into the kitchen—and grabbed my mom’s keys off the hook to the Toyota, gently guiding the screen door back into its latch on my way back out. I released the handbrake and pushed the car down the street where Molly was standing on the corner—a few yards away from her Buick—to avoid distracting my mother from her nighttime television with the sound of the engine turning over. “Do you know how to drive stick?” she asked me when I came close, my breath like a smoker’s triathlon, my skin an early morning dew.
Cult I pulled the keys out of my denim coat pocket. “Yeah, of course,” I said. Molly raised an eyebrow, blatantly showing her confusion of the much unnecessary battle between me and the two-ton hunk of steel and aluminum up the slight slope of the street. “Get in,” I say, holding the passenger side door open for her. I sat in the driver’s seat and turned the key. It started right up. It was younger and better maintained than Molly’s Buick, plus, it was fuel injected—a systematic approach introduced by the Swedes, adopted by the Germans, and made popular by the Japanese. One of the things about me I’d kept hidden from Molly was I’d never driven a car before. “Safety first,” I said, pulling the seatbelt strap over my shoulder and fastening the buckle into the receiver. I moved the stick over into first gear and let off the clutch. The engine stalled out and we jerked forward hard, like a bronco’s first rodeo. I tried again—the same failed attempt—and then once more, getting off to the neighborhood’s regulated pace. I waited to get through all the gears and up to a reasonable cruising speed out on the highway before I turned the radio on. Whitney Houston was taking up all the airwaves. It was her year, topping the billboard charts with her version of “I Will Always Love You” and a few other of her singles earning spots spread somewhere throughout the list of top one hundred. Molly was a narrow-minded punk rock chick, so it didn’t take long for her to do something about it. “I hate the radio,” she said, turning the knob all the way down. “It’s so mainstream.” She pulled a cassette from her bag along with a brown paper bag concealing the contents of malt liquor inside. She put the tape in the stereo, Leave Home, and unscrewed the cap of Steel Reserve, kissing the bottle and sucking some of the contents from its swelled up 40-ounce belly. She passed the bottle to me and I took my hand off the steering wheel to drain as much of the liquid as I could before I had to breathe again. “Ugh,” I said, barely able to keep my composure. It upset my gastric reflux. “It tastes like piss. Where’d you even get that stuff anyway?” “I asked my brother to get a couple for me.” “A couple?” 36
Matt Sweder Another thing about me I’d kept hidden from Molly was I never drank before. Not even a sip. I leaned toward books over booze—my strive for good grades in school. I was on the right path for Ivy League. I passed the bottle back to her. We were going to see her friend’s band play in an abandoned barn just off the highway, a dirt path turn-off from Upper River Road. The Spotted Pigs, I think they were called. “You’ll really like them,” Molly said. “They’re really good. They’re gonna be something someday. Like The Sex Pistols, but with more gusto.” The tape switched tracks and Molly touched the volume dial. “This is my favorite song.” She sang along. I don’t wanna be a pinhead no more. I just met a nurse that I could go for... We pulled up to the barn and the band was playing and everybody was already in full swing. Cars with headlights switched on were draining their batteries, buried deep beneath neon hair and Mohawks, denim vests, and studded belts. Doc Martens stomped down on the hoods and the trunks, the sound of denting aluminum keeping up with the loud and fast rhythm of the noise coming from inside. Forties were being drained down throats; empty bottles soared through the air, smashing against the barn walls, glass shards overthrowing the loose gravel in the war of adolescent rebellion. Boys made out with girls and called it love. It was a beautiful anarchy. Molly held my hand as we walked through the mayhem into the barn. I felt like a king, the one crowned to have Molly by his side. Everyone took notice to it. She was greeted and I was respected. We were Sid and Nancy, and everyone else Glen Matlock. Inside, through the sound of electric guitars, teen angst was fighting against itself, doused in beer from Satan’s baptism, screaming and chanting in unison like the Rodney King riots. Topless girls shouted at each other, pulled hair, threw their fists in the air. The only source of light came from the headlight beams of the cars that managed to peer through the masses and the flashing of the construction work lights from the band’s homemade light show. An uncontrolled fire roasted, set by the arsonists of a misled childhood. Joints were passed around in infinite supply and cocaine was the spiritual guidance that consumed us all. It was the remarkable tragedy of misspent youth. Molly handed me a cup of beer and I drank it fast. I was hot and sweaty—and I was thirsty. Molly took me over to the keg and I refilled, pushed and shoved by the chaos of the crowd, most of the beer ending
Cult up on the barn’s floor instead of in my cup. Nobody cared it was being wasted; everybody else already was. We tried to stand out of harm’s way at the edge of the mosh pit, pressing our backs tight against the wall, but the whole barn was a death trap. We went outside behind the barn and Molly kissed me. She was my first kiss. She taught me how to use the tongue. When I got the hang of it, we went back to my mom’s Toyota and she climbed into the back seat. She took her brown sweater off, revealing the rest of the neon pink hidden beneath it, cupping her chest like two hard boiled eggs on Easter Sunday. I practiced some more at kissing, and she pulled down my pants. She hiked up her skirt and slid me in. And just like that it was fucking ecstasy. It was TV on mute. It was Mount Vesuvius’s premature jubilee eruption. Everything was silent. It disappeared. Vanished. Gone. Calm. No surroundings. The music faded out into a silent symphony and everyone became us. It was just me and Molly alone, in that moment, in that field, in my mom’s Toyota. The end came quick, but I could’ve lived the rest of my life in that moment. It was a sensation I’ve never known before, and I wanted to feel it forever. The tight, wet interior of Molly was my own form of heroin. She pulled away from me and I was in love. Punk rock was my new life. “It’s you and me for the first time in history,” she said. “Let’s get out of here,” I said. We drove until we ended up at Nockamixon Park. We sat on the edge of the lake, stayed up and watched the night turn into another day, clinking our 40-ounce bottles together like two birds lost in the breeze.
Food Court Millionaire – Abdul Alhazred By doing a search for "F____", i can find the details of the company on the interwebs. And i don't see the President's name there. i can see that the company was registered back in 1928, under a different name. It means that he hasn't done anything for the past 87 years. Merely giving hope to people. i had to leave. 87 years is a long time to be bullied. i don’t think i could take the 88th year. They. They keep creating more projects. Fashion. Printing. Chipmunk robotics with guided lasers. DEATH TO THE SQUIRRELS! All of the projects always sabotaged by squirrels. Psycho squirrels; thieving squirrels; even seductress squirrels who are after his nuts. HE told me as much. The result is the same. None of the projects work. We almost had something done. It was one button away from being completed. A manned mission to the moon! What happened? You guessed it. A squirrel. This time the squirrel took the form of a fat man with bad hair. Squirrels are sneaky that way. i shall try again. i will hunt that squirrel down and find where it lives. We shall gather around the food court, our home base, and barricade ourselves to protect against the squirrels. V____ brought in the tin foil. Tin foil hats are for crazy people. We are not crazy. We are engineers without degrees building a planet. That isn’t crazy. We use the tinfoil to cover our nuts. Let’s see the squirrel take them this time! FOOLS! i knew not to trust the new guy. He came in talking of degrees and research. He said our plan to send a goat into outerspace using the headphones we bought from Radio Shack would never work. i was wary. Wary from the start. MIT i said. Who has heard of MIT? This must be a squirrel. i shouted for everyone to hide their nuts but it was too late. The squirrel already carried away A____ and C_____. i miss their odours already. We are setting a trap for the squirrel. We are bringing in Disney, the US Army and even the CIA to help. No expense shall be spared! i almost had this great idea last night. A squirrel was trying to steal our man made planetary paper route project plans. i can’t say much because i promised all my future ideas to help fight against the squirrels but i
Cult can say that we laid the perfect trap. The idea is simple. We started making more and more projects. This was to confuse the squirrel. He didn’t know what to do! Should he destroy the planetary paper route project or go for the project making robots that poop? It went for the movie we were making on grey squirrels. With that movie it learned of our other more secret plans! What a fool we were! We should have kept our mouths shut but we liked to brag too much. The Burger King people have been eyeing us lately. i think they work for the squirrel. i told everyone we should move tables. They think i am just paranoid but let them say that when all of our stuff vanishes again. Our group just invented the moon. Someone stole it though and sold it to the US government. i bet it was those Burger King people! i knew they worked for the squirrel. What proof more do we need? i finally settled it! i defeated the squirrel forever! it was shaped like the people at Panda Express. It can take many forms. i know they won’t be bothering us anymore. i saw to that. We can now get our projects off the ground. It was hard to work in the ashes of the food court but we only work 2 hours a week. This is good. i can’t stand wearing that tin foil over my groin. i know, as i am a rational person, that the squirrel could not have survived that fire but i still wear the tin foil out of habit. FAILED! We failed again. This time the project just imploded on itself. F____ said we shouldn’t have used Google to research how to build our sound wave currency platform. Some even said that we should have listened to the guy from MIT. Those people said they Googled MIT and found out it was a center of learning. i said it might be a center of learning but it couldn’t be as prestigious as our food court! After all, the President himself picked this area for its security. No-one expects a food court to be used for such brilliance! The others leave but i stay on. i have faith in our mission to bring a sandbox to the outer reaches of the human soul. i have been at this for almost 88 years now. The President keeps saying he can buy the entire food court if we need more room. He already has the secret permissions needed for us to sit at our table. Buying the food court is the next logical step. i smile and nod. i know this is the right thing to do. If we had the entire food court then there is 40
Abdul Alhazred no way we can fail. He borrowed more money from me to buy his coffee at McDonalds. If he bought the entire food court then i won’t have to borrow him money anymore too! It is good to have a millionaire as a friend. i finally figured out what was wrong with all of our designs. It was so simple! i will tell the President when he comes back with his coffee i bought him. He had to go pretty far away since this McDonalds had to close due to the fire Panda Express had. He said today was the day he’d pay me back for all of the money he borrowed. i said why do you borrow money from me to buy your coffee, your food, your clothes, the gas you needed, the house rent, the tin foil. You don’t know what it’s like to be a millionaire he told me. He is right. i don’t know but he said if i just kept working for 30 more years with him he’d tell me. He hasn’t come back yet. i hope he comes back soon. Sometimes he lets me keep the free sticker that comes with the coffee i buy him. i might have enough free stickers to buy myself a cup soon. Still nothing. i tried to text him but i don’t know his name. i sit here and wait. My inbox rings with new messages. i now have 32 messages from someone claiming to be his lawyer, accountant, police, and kidnapper, but i'm sure that it's only the squirrel using different aliases. He can’t fool me!
Dionysus in the Gas Chambers – John Weaver I clicked off my tablet and looked at the clock. “Damn.” I thought. “2:00 and I only got three victims.” I sighed. Like every member of the middle classte, the goverment did not allow me to treat upper classte patients after 2:00 P.M. I did not have any prejudice against the lower claste. It wasn’t their fault they were forced to parade down the streets in Nazi uniforms, to report on each other to the local KGB welfare office, to hold down two jobs at the local carnivorist butcher’s shop. I felt truly sorry for them. How could I not? I was within one classte-step of having to permanently wear totalitarian uniforms myself. I knew the day I put on the deathhead, there truly would be no hope left for me. It meant a return to my people, a return to the hopelessness of victimizeration, but I could delay that return as long as possible. But no black man ultimately avoided the deathhead. We were society’s untouchables, the SS dalits, deserving of no mercy. I got up in my chair, making sure that my three ribbons were firmly attached to my suit. Being seen in public without a ribbon had recently been ruled a felony by the Supreme Court, and with my insurance costs running so high, I could not afford a fine from my HMO. I only made $40,000 Auschwitzes a year, even working doubletime as a therapist. Sighing, I went to the door and opened it. It was poor Darius, one of my favorite clients, but also a Malthusan Ultra Plus addict on skidrow. His eyes looked glazed – not with drugs this time, but pain. I led him into the office, wondering if someone had stolen an alter from him. I faked a switch to my in reality non-existent Beta personality – a woman suffering under segregation – and asked him to have a seat. Darius sat across from me, putting his SS cap on the armrest as he stared out into space. There was a haunted look in his eyes. I had seen that look so many times in my black brothers and sisters. The look of a man who had had the last of his culture stolen from him. But who believed in culture anymore, in an age when it could be downloaded directly into the brain? In our world, the realpolitk reality was that victimization belonged to the victor. And today, as it had always been and always would be, the victors were whites. You could no more change that than change the sun rising in the sky. 42
John Weaver “The Memory Stealers came.” he whispered. I nodded, trying to keep the sympathy out of my voice. Nobody but the rich believed in sympathy anymore. “Hauptmann Darius, were you behind in your taxes?” I asked, in my best imitation of a SS Kommandant. He switched. Silently, I thanked God he had not lost his last alter. That could get him killed. “Sir, I’m Hauptmann Welkazan, formerly of 6th Mountain Division Nord, now based at Auschwitz . But yes, I can remember for Darius. Darius says that they stole his last memory of blackness. I say big fucking deal sir. What good are memories of niggerhood, sir? But . . . “ the switch again. “ . . . I wanted one last memory of blackness. One last memory untainted by killing, maiming and destroying. I scream every night now. I don’t get one Sleep of the Just a week. I’m shooting up all the time, sir. What can I do?” I remembered the first time poor Darius had come into my office. He was a Pol Pot garbageman then, hoping to work his way up to a neuter remembrance state. He had dreamed of moving up in the world, perhaps becoming a memoir publisher or even achieving my own three ribbon status. But the poor guy barely made due; between his ration stamps and the vic-creds he made as a garbageman, he cleared maybe $15000 Auschwitzes a year. You couldn’t live on that for very long. When the government finally discovered a means of automating garbageservice, as practically every other non-intellectual field had previously undergone, poor Darius was screwed. I wanted to reach out a hand, to offer Darius some poor word of comfort, but as a therapist that was not my job. Darius was a victimizer and the law said victimizers could never be comforted, only accused. That was our professional obligation. I could get disbarred for something as simple as a tear offered for some poor Latino mother whose memories had been replaced with that of a male multipleoffender molester. “Do you think there’s any forgiveness for me now?” Darius asked, trying to keep his prime personality intact as long as possible. I wished there was. I wished there was forgiveness for us all. But poor Darius, forgiveness was never meant for such a time as this, when innocence could be bought for a song or a few thousand Auschwitzes. Irrevocable innocence, innocence that we could not challenge or fight with. I looked at Darius seriously. He looked back at me, his face hardened, fighting against the alter that was attempting to enter him.
Cult But the effort was too much. His face morphed. Morphed back to the familiar look of the German Hauptmann. “Forgiveness is for those who earn it. This nigger never did. Nor will you, eventually. We rule triumphant now, Doctor Khan. The world will be whiteness forever, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.” I leaned back against the seat, angered in spite of myself. “But you’ll be trapped in his body forever. A nigger’s body forever. How does that make you feel?” I reminded Welkazan. Darius\Welkazan smiled at me. The smile was that of a monster. “What better way to annihilate the black race than from within? I’m his personal pathogen, his personal hell. And some day, Doctor Khan. I’ll be yours. The day when there are no innocent niggers left, only Nazis.” I sighed. “May that day be long in coming.” For twenty minutes I struggled with Welkazan to bring back the gentler personality of Darius. But I knew the Darius I had seen today was a residual trace of the great young victimizer I had known. This monster, this Welkazan – he would be the fate of us all, if we did not learn to free ourselves from the grasp of our victims. At the last moment of the session, the true Darius broke through one last time and looked hopelessly at me and asked. “What do you think I should do, Doc?” And I had to repeat the lies of the victimcastes, our oppressed oppressors, and tell him. “What you remember is beyond forgiveness, Darius. You can never hope to atone for the crimes you have thought. You know what must be done, Darius. People on Vicfare are oppressors-not-worthy-of-life. All I can suggest is that you go to the Healist temple and offer a prayer up to the Holy Trinity. Perhaps Sister Bass Divine will in her mercy cleanse you of your sins. We can only hope our God is so merciful.” His last words to me, before Welkazan again took over, were “I’ll pray, Dr. Khan. Sister Bass was always kind to us black people. Perhaps there’s forgiveness in our Holy Mother.” “Poor nigger.” I thought. “Doesn’t he realize God’s always been the tool of the victimclasste?” But as I watched him go, I knew it did not matter. Tell a black man hundred times not to trust the Church, and still they would give money to their local Traumatologist every week. We had always loved God, even when God was still a victimizing He. 44
John Weaver Now that God was one of the oppressed – a she - we were more dependent on Her than ever. Silently, I picked up the book I had hidden under my desk. I read the title: Satan’s Silence. It was an old book – banned many years ago, though nobody kept track of years anymore anyway. The Healist church would kill me if they knew I had a copy, but I owed a duty to the victimizercastes to remember our history, to keep the kitschy memorial candle of real memory alive, now that memories could be traded as easily as datafiles. Putting the book in my briefcase, I looked out into the Salem night and whispered. “I’d tell you bastards to rot in hell, only it’s a resort now.” *************************** Leaving the office, I walked two blocks down to the local food pantry. A couple of concerned victimclasste individuals were handing out food – real vegetables and fruits! – to the local victimizers. I saw a rich victimclasste woman wearing a trendy Buchenwald 42 uniform, bend down and give a barely-moving Utasha woman 2 oranges, then pat him on the head as if she was a fucking monkey. I averted my eyes in disgust, but nevertheless moved towards the charity stores. I needed to shop at Goodwill tonight and get myself a cheap camp uniform. I couldn’t afford the most expensive ones – Auschwitz 43 or the new Molest 3000 series – but at least I wouldn’t be wearing my plain neuter suit. The victimclasstes tolerated the existence of the middleclasste, tolerated our ability to remember memories of things neither right nor wrong, but they did not like it. The most orthodox members of the Healist Church, particularly the Vestal Victims, feared that we were a threat to the victimclasste’s continued social dominance – excuse me, oppression – in our society. I knew, therefore, that I had to be particularly careful to find a good yet cheap uniform. “Hey, brother, can you spare a Darfur?” A poor beggar asked me. I looked down at the guy, who could not even afford a full ribbon, but was forced to wear a half-one, the bare measure of social acceptability in our culture. I looked at the ribbon and sighed. It was so out-of-date, I was sure the guy was going to be arrested: Save the Penguins. Everyone knew that campaign was history many centuries ago, though no one could remember the exact date, history being, as the victimclasste said, history. Sighing, I handed him a small Darfur. “Can you spare me a good memory too, sir?” the poor man asked. I moved back defensively. “My memories are my own.”
Cult The man looked at me angrily. If I had been one of the victimclasste, I would have felt race-panic and had to get it expunged at the local Healist temple. Instead, however, I moved forward and handed the man a $5 Molest. “Perhaps you can buy yourself an innocent memory with this, I said.” The man took it sadly, and nodded. Who was I kidding? Whites were increasingly hogging all the innocent memories, hoarding them in their neurobanks and forgivenessvaults. What chance did any black man have these days of innocence? It was denied us from practically the moment of our birth. Even black women, working their barely respectable jobs at KGB welfare offices and, if they were lucky, Republican Party Charity Missions, could only look at us with disgust. I walked over to my friend Shelly Hardin, just as she switched into her alter Emily-44 molest. Out of politeness, I again faked switching, this time to Bob Terrence, a 26 year old black former molest victim. “How you doing, Emily?” I asked. “Oh you can call me Shelly if you want.” she said scandalously. That’s what I liked about Shelly\Emily. Despite being an upper victimclaste, with 56 alters to her name, she was always willing to center herself on the Shelly personality when she needed to, even though monofocus on one’s core personality was frowned on by the Healist establishment. “I’m doing o.k. I wish I could help these people more, James. And I mean really help, not the fuck the upper victimclasstes do to these people. There were Memorystealers here again. People can’t pay the Reperations rates anymore, James. They’re getting too high.” “You know what they say. There’s only two things that are certain in life: Death and racial reparations.” “But these people can’t pay, I’m telling you. They’re losing the last bits of black cultural identity left. What happens when the last black person loses the last authentic memory of blackness?” I nodded. “The process of victimizeration will be complete. We will be the Nazis, the rapists, the Communists, the enslavers that whites always feared. And then the process will begin on the Asians, the Indians, Arabs, as it has already virtually been completed among Native Americans and Hispanics. We’ll be your footsoldiers, your Wehrmacht, your excuse for innocence.” 46
John Weaver “Exactly.” “So has anything really changed?” I asked. Shelly looked saddened, but shook her head. In spite of her effort to hold on to her core identity, I saw her fragmenting. “Hold on, just for a second, Shelly.” Her altering process stopped. “Can you tell me if what they said about Eagle Street is true?” She nodded. “The government drug dealers are pushing everything they can there. Trying to break down resistance. I hear they’re selling Middle Passage 1728 and 9/11 Remembrance Anniversary 25 there.” “Shit.” I said. “They know how dangerous those drugs are.” She nodded again. “But your people want those memories, if only for a moment. They know the high doesn’t last. They know the temporary good memories only lead to worse bad ones. But the temptation is too great. And I’m telling you, it’s going to lead to increasing personality fragmentation, unless something’s done about it.” I arrived at the local Goodwill store and passed through the locked gates. The proprietor, an up-and-coming Slav immigrant, clearly did not trust his victimization to the local populace. I doubt he would even have allowed me in, if I had not been dressed in a neuter suit. He looked at my 3 ribbons, clearly eyeing my respectability. Unfortunately, they were pretty standard though respectable fare: “Prevent AIDS,” “Help Heal Homosexuals from Hate,” and my prize ribbon “Remember DDay””. World War II remembrance is, of course, always hot, and though I had nowhere near enough money to pay for a Holocaust remembrance ribbon, I had been allowed to buy this marker of middleclasste respectability. “Do you have any good uniforms here?” I asked. The Slav owner ran his hand through his greasy hair. “That depends. How much victimization can you afford?” I sighed. “$400 Buchenwalds.” I lied. He smiled. “If you can raise that to half an Auschwitz, I might be able to do something for you.” “Hmm.” I pretended to think, but only for a second. “Sure.” The Slav took me to a row of custom-made gulag uniforms. I looked through them, finally finding one that was threadbare enough to meet with my client’s approval. The Slav nodded knowingly. “I think that would look great on you.”
Cult I nodded, secretly pleased with my find. “A Gulag 1950. How much?” The Slav eyed me, oddly with sympathy. “For this one sir, I’ll knock down the price. Say $478 Buchenwalds. I’ll even throw in a black childhood memory from the 1940’s. Can we call it a deal?” I faked entering into my 4th alter, Johnny Hotpants, and said. “Sure thing, brother.” *************************** The soiree was everything I was expecting. Held on the 44th floor of the Highland Hilton, the wait staff numbered 500 blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans in sparkling Gestapo uniforms, handing out drinks, non-addictive, drugs, and delicious cuisine. I could see some of the waitstaff working furiously away in the kitchen as they talked away in Ebonic German. Some of the victims were re-enacting revenge fantasies against the victimizerclasstes, ranging from making black Wehrmacht officers lick their boots to having Hispanic migrant workers be beaten for the warcrimes they now remembered committing. And they took it. They all took it, like good victimizers. Because we were guilty. God yes. We were guilty of raping them, and murdering them, and assaulting them. Guilty before God because we had the memories, the memories implanted in us, every one. And that made us evil. We had committed the deeds in our heart the victimclasste told us. And never again could we taste the apple of innocence. Our black hearts had produced the black deeds of the past. I watched from the corner of the room as the guests mingled. Salem’s debutante victimclasste exchanged greetings, kissing each other on their cheeks, French fashion, and commenting on each other’s exquisite fashion sense. One middle aged woman stopped in front of me and exchanged pleasantries with a niece. “Is that a 1943 Buchenwald you’re wearing, darling? Simply charming. And your hair? Victimized Sassoon! Simply spectacular, mon cher. A true act of remembrance for the victims. What’s that? Oh no, sweetheart. I truly don’t think shaving our heads is really necessary, do you? I mean people will understand we have to look attractive to our husbands and wives.” I took a glass of wine from a waiter and sipped it. He looked at me, his eyes expressionless. We nodded imperceptibly to each other. “I 48
John Weaver hope your day is going well, sir.” the waiter said, straightening out his Field Marshal uniform. I wondered again what caused whites to so carelessly distribute such high-ranking uniforms, as if middleclasste blacks like me would really believe that the high ranking uniforms of those suffering from victimizeration proved they were responsible for what passed for suffering among the victimclasste. I mean, God, people were trying to download memories of 20 or 30 genocides now, but they were memories. Memories of real pain, real suffering, yes. But memories that were not their own, memories and identities they should not and did not have a right to own. I wondered how many of my people had been forced to sell the last markers of their oppression, their last thoughts of innocence, for room on a cold floor, for a hot meal? But, oh, I forgot – even carnivorism was a mark of our racial depravity. We were killing off the poor deer, and cattle, and pigs, who could not fight back. We fought in their wars, and then came back to be called “Pigs” by their protestors, while meanwhile they launched email petition campaigns to “Save the Pigs” – the pigs, not being us, but of the porker variety. When a nigger’s life isn’t worth that of a pig’s, you know your life is shit. But then again, what’s changed? I gave the waiter a tip - a $20 genocide – and sat down. I wanted to cry for him, cry for all the poor camp guards, Gestapo members, KGB agents, rapists, pedophiles, molesters, and capitalists here. I wanted to do something to end the victimizeration of my people, but honestly, I did not know what I could do. We could not return society to the supposedly unnatural social order we had had before, when at least those who raped us, abused us, and mocked us, were honest about being sick fucks. You could expect honesty from an Eichmann nowadays, but forget getting it from an Auschwitz victim. They had too much vested in remaining the upper victimclasste to acknowledge that it had been their bodies, their wishes, their desires, that had brought about the moral bankruptcy of our world. Guilt could be transferred now – all the benefits of vicarious victimization, without one ounce of the suffering. Not only that, but you could transfer the guilt to the oppressed. Western civilization had become so sophisticated that it would soon be able to annihilate every non-white individual on the planet and cleanse itself free of the guilt for that act simultaneously. I watched a couple talking quietly to each other. The woman asked her husband. “Honey can we afford a gang rape? I know they’re so
Cult expensive this time of year, but it really would improve your job prospects.” He thought about it for a moment. “I don’t know. I think gang rapes may be going out of style.” His wife smiled at him. “Trust me, honey, I’m a woman. Gang rapes never go out of style. You can milk that suffering for a thousand years.” She altered for a second. “Trust him, Walter. Anita knows best.” “You’re right Sheila. Can I talk to Anita for a second?” Suddenly I saw Maggy, my sole reason for being here. She was wearing an extremely expensive Molest 4000 complete with fake blood surrounding her crotch area – a turn on, I’m sure, for many white crackers, but I assure you that despite being a black buck, it don’t do shit for me, you white motherfuckers. Maggy’s traumatologist was holding her to her, wearing the holy robes of the Healist priesthood – the sacred garb of Babi Yar, which the Church claimed was authentic – and was trying to help her with some reparenting. I watched as she held the bottle to Maggy’s lips. Maggy altered about 4 times in the 2 minutes it took for me to get to her. Maggy’s Traumatologist, seeing me coming, nodded and put on Maggy’s alter-stopping comp piece, which allowed her to maintain her core personality for more than 30 seconds when talking to me. “Maggy’s been telling me she has discovered she’s bisexual.” her Traumatologist, Ann Lipman said. Not a bad woman, for a Traumatologist. I thought. “I hope you take this disclosure with the seriousness it deserves.” “Oh, I will. I promise.” I said. And I wasn’t lying. Not exactly. In other words, I didn’t think the disclosure meant shit in today’s culture, and I planned to act accordingly in “therapy.” We are all bisexuals now. Bisexuality is as obligatory as breathing. One had to show allegiance to the countless billions of homosexuals killed under the Third Reich. That’s what the history books said, anyway. “What do you think about the recent call to ban behavioralcognitive therapy?” Maggy asked, between sucking her bottle and sucking her thumb. “Such a barbaric practice.” “Oh, I completely agree.” I said. We are all Freudians now, too, of course. The focus always was on the past, not the present. If history had taught us anything, the Traumatologists told us, only a focus on the past 50
John Weaver can focus us more fully on the future. Focusing on the present, by contrast, had led to the destruction of the rain forests, the depredations of capitalism, wars and rumors of wars. I looked at Maggy and had a secret, oh so secret desire to gas her – to really gas her. To let her know what real Jews, real blacks, real Hispanics had suffered, before the Healist church had robbed suffering of any meaning. I wanted to reach out my hand and choke the lifeblood out of her, to teach her the one lesson that she and her ilk had not learned: That suffering, real suffering, had real costs. Maggy looked at me, offering that freest and cheapest of white gifts, their fucking useless pity “Do you know that profound passage from The Courage to Heal Chapter 1.69? Holy Mother Bass and Davis write, with such moving compassion: ‘Although it is terrifying to say yes to yourself, it is also a tremendous relief when you finally stop and face your own demons. There is something about looking terror in the face and seeing your own reflection that is strangely relieving.’” Maggy teared up. “You must remember those words, dear James. Such deep wisdom speaks out of every phrase spoken by our Goddesses, Holy be Their Name. You must let the Holy Molestation Victim enter you and fill you with the spirit of innocence that you lost as an adult.” I nodded to Maggy, though I wanted to vomit at her hypocrisy, so typical of the white victimclasste and their minders. “Are you all right?” Maggy asked me again. “Feel up to our therapy session tomorrow?” she asked. Did I feel up to it? She was the one who was nervous about it. She was attempting to reach the state of Clear, the Holy goal of the fucking Healists. Why anyone would want to remember only doing good things is beyond me. In the real world, only the guilty were innocent of wrongdoing. To act in the real world, to exist in the real world, where real suffering still exists, is to be and to do guilt. To hurt and maim, as well as kiss and tend wounds. But poor Maggy wanted the sweet sleep of the utterly innocent, and being richer and more beautiful than Paris Hilton XXXII, she was going to get her way. I hated her. Oh, God I hated her. She represented everything I found wrong with white culture. But I could do nothing to switch our positions. And if I was to maintain my own position, I had to pretend to like this woman. But God, it was hard. “So, 9:00 tommorow?” I asked. She nodded.
Cult My mission done, I spent a few more minutes talking to the other guests than gracefully exited the building. Before I could even call a cab, I threw up. I wished it was from all the smoke in the room, but only whites were allowed to be cigarette victims, nowadays. I looked up to the top of the Hilton and sighed. No, I knew why I was sick, and it had nothing to do with nicotine. Sighing, I hailed a cab. ************************* I went home that night and watched television helplessly. Everything was “authentic” now, concerned with “truth” and “veracity”. The national white pity party, which had once been restricted to the therapist’s couch, the talk show, and trash cinema, was everywhere. I watched a Winfreyist Traumatologist promote her religion on Oxygen, the most watched channel in the country. I turned the channel, but there was simply more of the same: “My Secret Incest,” “The Young and the Molested,” “Remembering Auschwitz,” “Don’t Forget Dachau,” “The Life of a Slave: Reliving The Middle Passage” and of course “My Molester’s House: A Profound Tale of Healing.” Everywhere on white TV, there was the same pathological need for purity, the ever-growing desire for commiseration and compassion for the sorry shits’ sorry excuses for suffering. Practically every show was obsessed with the white need to reach the state of Clear, or even Ultra-clear, if that was possible, and drown in the forgetfulness of artificial “real” memories. All the victims, on every channel, bragged about the strength, the depth, the profundity, and the length of their suffering. “My parents have been paying for my molest since I was 3 weeks old.” one young woman said on The Young and the Molested. “No one can claim to be more molested than me. I had 600 alters by the time I was 6.” And then the young woman proceeded to alter 32 times in the next 6 minutes. I wondered, as I watched, who they were trying to convince. Their “victimizers” or themselves? But as I remembered the look of that poor wait-staff last night, robbed of EVERY memory of goodness, forced to become looped laugh tracks of Nazi perversion for the entertainment of the victimclasste innocent, I told myself that I would rather die than suffer that kind of humiliation, my own personal Nuremberg. 52
John Weaver Indeed, Nuremberg seemed to be on everyone’s mind nowadays. Recently, Senator Jessica Helmsley had introduced a bill that would have legalized a new international tribunal to put to death all our national war criminals. All the Himmlers, Hitlers, Hesses, Hoesses, Goerings, and Goebells that roamed our streets. The victimcaste said that as Nazis, the victimizerclasste had forgone their right to live, their right to trial, their right to rights. Indeed, the victimclasstes had argued that we needed to rebuild the camps, so that the “right” people died this time, not the “real victims.” Helmsley, a direct descendant of Ellen Bass, speaking on the Healing News Network, in addressing a closed session of The House of Holocaust and the Senate of Suffering, had pronounced that “I am now referring to the Nazi problem, the extermination of the Nazi menace. It’s one of those things that is easily said: ‘We will have to destroy the Nazis’ says every Healist ‘this is very obvious, it’s in our program, elimination of victimization.’ The Total Clear state of Healing. But what we’re doing, is, uh, no small matter. But of all those who talk this way, none has had to observe the Nazi in his natural habitat, none has endured the filth of his victimizing tendencies like the Healist priesthood. Most of you know what it means when 100 corpses lie next to each other, when 500 lie there or when 1,000 are lined up. Well, there needs to be retribution for this menace. To have endured all that we have endured and to remain at the same time basically a decent person – with exceptions due to human weaknesses – has made us a strong people. This is a page of history which will be emblazoned for a thousand years. We have the moral right, we have the duty to our people to do it, to kill this people who for so long wanted to kill us. We will finally solve the problem of Nazism, my friends. Finally. We are innocent! We are innocent! We are innocent!” Congress rose to a standing ovation. I shuddered and turned off the TV. I had been expecting the roundup of the victimizerclasstes for a long time, but of course they wouldn’t stop there. Any remembrance of their victimization would be too much for the victimclasstes to bear. Even if they didn’t come for me tonight, it would be the next night, or the night after that. It would be Kristallnacht all over again, with the people of pure blood throwing the racial bacillus – Nazis – into the street. I would have laughed if it wasn’t so fucking ironic. My phone rang. I picked it up. “Did you hear the news?” Shelly asked. I could tell she was wearing her alter-stopping comp piece, so
Cult desperate was she to get to me. I was touched that a white person could remember their racial guilt for more than 10 seconds. It took real moral courage nowadays. “I heard it.” “You have to get out of there, James! They’ll be after the middle classte first. You’re the only guiltless blacks left!” “Are we?” I asked. “What’s guiltlessness anyway, Shelly? A fucking feeling. I’ll live with my guilt. I’ll survive being a Nazi, if I have to. And someday, Shelly, I’ll take your fellow whites to the fields of Babi Yar, the chambers of Auschwitz, the ships of the Middle Passage, and I will teach them the real value of guilt.” “Which is?” Shelly asked. I could tell she desperately wanted to know. “There is none.” I told her. “But I promise you, Shelly, that I’ll send one of you white motherfuckers to your death, before I become part of this wonderful final solution to suffering you guys have dreamed up.” I stuck my hand out in a Nazi salute and shouted to her. “Heil healing! Heil healing! Heil healing!” She broke down and altered. I suppose she is getting reparenting classes now, poor bitch. At least she tried to care, which is about all white people can do nowadays. There was a banging at my door. I could hear the SVU squad outside. I wondered if they had taken down every black organization at once. The Nazi Association for the Advancement of Colored People had been on the verge of folding twice in the last 4 years. The other black defense organizations had folded decades, perhaps centuries, ago. Smiling, I took out one of the illegal cigarettes and lit it. The door slammed in. The SVU officers entered, along with Maggy. She was crying. The SVU officers slammed me against the wall. One took the cigarette out of my mouth, yelling “You damn nig . . . Nazi.” He finished. I smiled at the motherfucker. “Either title’s appropriate now, my brother.” The SVU officer turned to Maggy. “Is this the Nazi that molested you?” he asked.
John Weaver Maggy nodded. She stepped towards me and slapped me. “I recovered the memories tonight.” she said. “After I talked to my Traumatologist.” I smiled at the motherfuckers. They were going to steal my memories, the bastards, but I planned to go down swinging. I would make one hell of a good Nazi, I told myself. In a world like this, how could I not be? I wasn’t going to Jew my life away with these bastards, even if they let me. “I need him for my Clear ceremony tomorrow.” Maggy told the officers. “After that, you can do what you want with him.” “You understand that, you fucking shit?” The SVU officer said. “One day’s reprieve. We’ll even let you be the Kommandment. And then we deal with your people for a final time. No more Nazis, not ever!” I smiled at them predatorily. “Oh believe me, sir, one day’s all I need to get my affairs in order.” I turned to Maggy. “Maggy, I’m truly sorry for what I put you through.” I almost choked over that lie, but my hatred rose in me like a strong cocaine erection. “You know us Black Buchenwald guards, us Nazi big black bucks. We can’t help it. We just see you Jews, and the penis comes out.” “Take me away from him, take me away.” She shouted, in what used to pass for pain. *************************** They took me to the camp. Auschwitz 46, a special facility for processing victims to Clear status. Of course, no victims were ever gassed, no pain ever truly given, though the chambers and crematoriums were as authentic as possible. Perhaps the victimclasste would use them against us someday, though I thought that would be a little too transparent, even for them. I felt thankful that they had not implanted me with any victimizer memories, though I knew the Memory Stealers would be coming for me eventually, taking the last of my blackness, the last of my so-called innocence, and replacing it with imported guilt, direct from the finest factories in Europe. It didn’t matter though. Today, I had decided to teach the victimclasstes a lesson in racial politics. I hoped I’d even be able to teach my own people a little something as well. For it had struck me last night that all we needed to rise up against the victimclasstes was an oppressor not afraid of oppressing. Everyone in our society had felt afraid of guilt for
Cult decades, perhaps centuries. Yet who knew how long ago the real Holocaust victms, the true victims, had died? Perhaps it was time to challenge the victimclasste. Perhaps it was time to forget. Or perhaps, to remember the lessons of the victimizerclasste, if that was all the white bastards would allow us. They said minorities outnumbered whites almost 4 to 1 now. All that kept them in power was our guilt. Perhaps today was the day to end it. Perhaps I was the person to end it. The wealthy victims arrived in their cattlelimos, packed 2 to a car. We opened the car doors, and gestured in our best imitation of Nazi guards. “Out! Out! Fast! Fast!” There were 20 victims in total. Reaching Clear status was very expensive, and only the richest could afford the spa victimization that Auschwitz 46 provided, with its “Guaranteed Holocaust Authenticity or your money back!” The victims lined up, smiling at us. I smiled back at them, then turned to my men and winked. There were 100 of them there. They all saw. And I think they understood, even then, that today would be different. Today was the day the “Nazigros” fought back. Turning back to the crowd, I saw Maggy, and gave her my best molester’s smile. “We have spared no expense to make your victimization experience as authentic as possible. We have firstgeneration crematoriums here, real gas, real chimneys, everything a victim on the verge of Clear could want. As you know, these facilities may soon be converted to – uh, other uses. But at the moment, we’re the only Nazis you’ll see here. As a psychologist, I have reviewed your files and I have a surprise for you.” They looked at me in expansive expectation, their future status in the victimclasste in my hand. “I have decided, with my honorary Dr. Mengele title, to declare you all worthy of Selection for Victimization. Congratulations! I have never met a finer bunch of victims in my life.” The crowd, in their expensive Dachau, and Auschwitz, and Buchenwald uniforms, their expensive Holocaust human-hair handbags, and forty ribbon covered chests, cheered uproariously. They had made it to Clear – to the state of perfect guiltlessness – that all whites wanted. The dream of Western civilization made manifest. “Now, I want to make your stay here as happy and short as possible.” I said. “Per standard policy we have set up your dining facilities in Gas Chamber 6, our disinfectant chamber. But no worries, 56
John Weaver my friends. As you know, the gas-nozzles are just for show. We have everything anyone could want: Wine, beer, plenty of non-addictive drugs of course, your choice of yellow stars, pink triangles, etc. We have a very expensive victimclaste cinematographer to film every aspect of your truly profound grief and suffering at the fate of the 6 million, the 60 million, and the 6 billion. Please if you’ll follow me.” I led them to the chambers, smiling silently as I did. Like the true victims of Nazism – that is, the extinct species of Caucasians who ACTUALLY SUFFERED- these poor fools followed me like sheep being led to the slaughter. All 20 of them entered the chamber. Two of my men followed me into the control room, where poor Darius was waiting. Darius looked at me. His personality had integrated and Welkazan was equal part with Darius. Both of them looked at me with respect, but fear, for what we were about to do. “You sure you want to do this?” Darius asked me. “There’s no going back from something like this. Even Welkazan will tell you that.” “It’s o.k.” I said, putting my hand on Darius’s shoulder. I smiled at him. “Turn the sound on, my friend. Let’s listen to the fools prattle away. Dancing to Dionysus in the gas chambers.” We watched. Maggy was laughing with one of her friends. “Oh, I feel so glad to have reached Clear.” she told him. “The guilt was crushing me. But now, oh God, it’s going to be so good. To never have to remember the Nazis, or the molesters, or the KGB agents. To be morally perfect. It’s the fate I knew I deserved all along, but I couldn’t admit it to anyone, even myself.” Her friend popped open a bottle of champagne and watched as two men wearing pink triangles began getting it on in the corner of the gas chamber. “I know. I hate seeing the Nazis on the streets. They pollute everything. But we’re the pure now, Maggy. And if Senator Helmsley is right, we won’t have to deal with the Nazi problem much longer. We’ve found a solution to evil. We’ve transcended our base natures, become one with the universe we love. Holy Mothers Bass and Davis will accept us into their loving arms when we reach heaven and we will never know pain, nor suffering, nor guilt again. We will be reborn.” “Can we have some music in here?” Maggy shouted to me angrily. “What do you want?” I asked into the microphone. “Oh, something appropriate.”
Cult Well, personally, I thought the Horst Wessel song really described these victims quite well, but that would be a little too obvious. So we turned Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Surive on, the most famous hymn of the Healist church. I listened to it and compared it to the hymns my people had sung in our misery: “Amazing grace, that saved a wretch like me” one had said, in the day before it was outlawed. They said it was written by a victimizer, a vicious slave trader. Probably that’s true. But every word of that hymn said more than a thousand songs by Gaynor ever could. I knew Gaynor was black – so the historical records maintained – and slavetraders were white, but for once, I felt myself at one with a white man, a white man who had taken fucking responsibility, if only for one second, for the hell that he had created, for the hell that he was. A white man who had not shied away from that reality. I promised myself to remember that hymn, after today. The inmates began dancing. Maggy bumped and grinded suggestively against an attractive bisexual man, who responded in kind. For a woman recovering from a molest, she was feeling remarkably flirty. Some of the other inmates began shooting up on drugs. “Innocence!” one shouted. “Innocence! Innocence! God, that’s guiltless. God, that’s guiltless!” I shook my head as he injected himself with the pure innocence of the most expensive legal non-addictive drug one could find, Hiroshima 1945 Pure Agony. “Oh God, yes! Oh yes. I am one with the victims. Oh, yes, yes, yes!” I turned away in disgust as the guy jerked off in holy communion with the victims of Hiroshima. I turned to Darius. “Seen enough?” I asked. He looked as Maggy began exposing her breasts to her bisexual friend. “Yeah. But, James . . . why did they make us into this? Why did it have to be this way?” I looked at Maggy as she finished disrobing, pulling the bisexual to the floor. “Sometimes, Darius, the only moral thing you can do is be a Nazi.” I nodded to one of the other men. “Turn on the gas.” The gas began filling the room. They didn’t notice it at first. But soon they were screaming, screaming like the pigs they had tried to turn us into. We had made the gas to inflict maximum agony. We were not like the true Nazis, interested in sparing our victims even marginally less pain. Maggy banged her hand against the window. She screamed and screamed. 58
John Weaver “You damn Nazi! You damn Nazi! Let me out. I’m innocent, innocent!” I nodded. “Oh, I know you are. But innocence is a precious commodity nowadays. The rich won’t share it with the poor. It is trafficked and bought and sold. My friends and I, I’m sorry to say, cannot afford your innocence anymore. But we’re trying to be merciful. You always wanted to be Clear. Well here’s your chance. Here’s your chance for utter abjection, total victimization, the Sleep of the Just that you never allowed us.” “Have mercy. Please. Please!” Darius said next what I had always wished to say to Maggy. “I’m sorry, I would show you mercy, but you stole those memories, Maggy. Stole them long ago. Now, I have merely the ones the victimclasste created in my head. I am a victimizer, that is all I can ever be.” Maggy’s breathing was getting worse. I took out a watch, to time our victims agony. “Very impressive. You’re already ready to die after 5 minutes. You poor motherfuckers.” I listened to the others scream. I moved closer to the window. I tapped the window intercom. I stared my molest “victim” in the face, as she quoted hopelessly inadequate responses to human suffering from her Healist scriptures and I smiled sadistically at her. I wanted her to feel the pain of what she had forced me to do. “But I’ll tell you something, Maggy, a secret. If you want an image of your future, you and your dear fellow Winstons, imagine the Oprah Winfrey Show, playing forever.” She stared at me in disbelief, then fell to the floor. We watched for a few more minutes. Eventually the last victim died. I led my men out of the control room. We talked for a few minutes, sitting around the faux crematoriums and killing centers, trading cigarettes and celebrating what was left of the barbarity of man. God I hope my friends and I get the chimneys going again, before our species destroys itself from the piss of empathy falling out of our eyes, drowning us in the radioactive water of self-pity. I’ve been burned enough in my life. It’s time to turn our enemies into ashes. Let the ovens open for business. We’re ready.
An Incident at Rehoboth – Stephen O’Connor When I came in from walking the schnauzer my cell phone was ringing on the kitchen table. I answered it. “So anyway Joey, when you get to be 60 years old,” a familiar voice began without preamble, “you’ve seen quite a bit, right?” It was Walter, an old high school friend who had always been better than most friends at staying in touch. Not through Facebook or social media, but through actual conversations on a telephone, calls that began when he moved to Virginia after graduating from college. “That’s right,” I agreed. “All right. So when I tell you that Lisa has a world-class set of tits, you know it’s not like some eighteen-year old telling you that some girl in his class has great tits. I’m talking about serious rackage, voluptuous mounds of firm pale flesh which I can only imagine are delightfully nippled in pink.” “I get the picture.” “All right, now leave that aside for a minute. It’s Palm Sunday, right?” “Yeah, Louise brought the palm fronds home from Mass.” “Right, so down here in Rehoboth, they do this thing, you got a crowd following some guy in robes who’s dragging a big godamned cross down to the beach where they pretend to crucify him in some kind of medieval ceremony that the church still hangs on to.” “O.K.” I was wondering how world-class tits might relate to a crucifixion. “So there I am riding my bike along the beach road, when I stop in front of this house to take in the crucifixion. And on the porch of the house, it so happens, a bunch of lesbians are celebrating some LGBTQ event of their own, and I’m watching this poor bastard hauling the cross across the sand, when all of a sudden I hear this voice calling, ‘Walter!’ I look up and there’s Lisa hanging over the porch waving at me, I mean all of her hanging over the porch—those glorious boobs overflowing a V neck sweater in the morning sun.” “Wait a minute. So Lisa is a lesbian?”
Stephen O’Connor “Yeah. Now, by the way, along with the boobs she has perfectly square shoulders, nice slender hips…the whole package. So I wave to her…” “And how do you know Lisa?” “Used to work with her. She was a hot shit and we had a lot of laughs back then. Not a grim man-hating lesbian.” “A fun lesbian. O.K.” “Anyway she comes running across the lawn there with her tits bouncing and gives me a big hug. Now I don’t care if she’s a lesbian. I mean I don’t care if she’s into farm animals, I’m going to squeeze those boobs against me, right?” “Naturally.” “And of course she has perfect white teeth and big brown eyes— she’s Italian, and, probably to get her eyes out of the sun 'cause she’s not wearing sunglasses, she comes around and puts her hands on my handlebars with her head cocked, if you’ll pardon the expression, to one side, and her back arched, like the girls used to do back in seventh grade when you were just starting to realize how dynamite they were. So we’re laughing there, like old times, talking about some of the schmucks we used to work with, and I’m hoping my sunglasses are dark enough that she won’t notice that I’m continually stealing glimpses of her adorable, un-ignorable tits.” “Tell me more.” “So here’s the scene. After two minutes of this, the only thing in the world I want to do is take her down the street to the Ocean Sands Hotel, rent a room, pull the sweater over her head, unhook her bra, and fondle those spectacular melons before I throw her on the bed and screw her into heaven. All the normal green lights a man learns from a life-time of lechery are there. She came running out to see me. She’s smiling. She’s holding onto my handlebars. She even seems to be pushing those tits out under my nose. But then I think, number one, I’m married. Number two, I’m too old for her. And number three—to top it off, she’s a lesbian, a fact of which I’m reminded whenever I look to my left and see about five of them scowling at me from the porch. And the boner that was beginning to bulge out of my stretchy bicycle pants suddenly begins to lose lift and deflate because it is just never gonna happen. Never. All that is over. That’s a fact, and Joey, there is nothing so awful as a fact. Now I hear what seem to be groans of sympathetic pain rising from the
Cult crowd on the beach as a guy dressed as a Roman soldier starts pretending to hammer nails into Christ’s flesh. ‘Oh my God, isn’t that a pitiful scene,’ Lisa said. Both of us turn to watch the hammering and the weeping, and the cruelty of man—and the cruelty of life or fate, it all just fell over me like a dark blanket and I felt suddenly depressed. Lisa must have noticed, because she turned back to me, and she says, ‘Walter, are you all right?’ And I couldn’t fake cheerfulness. ‘I never knew you were so sensitive,’ she says. What could I say?” “Well, what did you say?” “I just said, ‘Well, Lisa, it is a pitiful scene.’ And that was the truth, because Joey, I’ve never seen it so clearly. It’s over. We’ve left Eden far behind us and we’re in sight of that final cross, and there’ll be no resurrection for the likes of us.”
Ist Dass Ein Zwerg – Shane Frazier Farah was swiftly becoming dead-weight. Swinging pendulumlike, I look down in fatigued awe as I heard her drunken snores escalate in volume. Her left arm locking with mine, we look like some overgrown-yet-diminutive Barrel of Monkeys; she is swinging freely and passed the fuck out. Ignoring curious and confused stares, I need to time my exhausted legs to move with her weight, but my own substance-fog prevents me from achieving any sort of synchronization. Fighting her swaying body, I stumble once--twice--shit--three times before I hit the lift bay. I’m too close. Her lolling noggin, covered by the green-and aqua Munchkin wig, isn’t enough to stop her head from hitting the wall. I can feel the crunch of head meeting wig meeting metal door - the vibration - even thru our simian embrace. Shaken but not stirred, my hobbit hostage-slash-drunken-purse ceases her nasal snoring for only a second - then she motors on. I guess twelve Altbier Cola shots will do that to you. Stepping inside the lift I once again lose control of my midget-rig and bump her head on the door as I swing her in. A German version of I Touch Myself by the Divinyls is playing through the capsule; my unconscious charge starts to keep the beat with her snores. I want to laugh at it, but hold off for reasons unknown. In the 15 seconds it takes the door to open and close, my weed-faded mind recounts the events that lead me to this sad and sorry state half way around the world – the joint, the talk, the dare, and the wee woman in the Munchkin costume and the German shots that preceded the pass-out and fall; the flat, fleshslap sound of a drunken midget’s body hitting the floor, the Munchkin shoes sticking almost vertical out of bright orange pants. Me and Eric, both higher than Pearly Sweetcakes during the Smoke Off; and of course me seizing this Golden Opportunity for a Grand Mistake. Ding. The door opens. I hear the sounds of this side of Berlin - cars driving on cold, rained-on roads. People from across the globe doin’ what people do. Across from me, I see a poster for Iron Sky, one of the entries vying for an award this year. I gaze at the actress’ picture that plays the POTUS, drawn in by some reverie due to her Palin-ness. I think I would have stood there another ten minutes if it wasn’t for a car horn sharply echoing in the parking structure, its suddenness shunting
Cult me out of my own stupor. Ignoring Space Nazis on the moon and Silver Bears, I swing my hostage out of the lift, and await Eric’s arrival. People waiting to get in my lift are staring. I should have taken the Ewok instead. At least then I could say it was a dog and drag him behind a leash. But no. I had to go for the Wizard of Oz trollop. Somewhere oooverrrrr the rainbowwww - this bitch is getting heavy. My arm is noodlin’ from holding and bumping this Little Person into transportation devices. Fuck it. I let her fall the eight inches of so to the concrete. She lands with a ragdoll quality that mimics a dead body, and falls silent; her snores, snorts and mumblings suddenly quiescent. I freeze. I stare at her. Jeeziss. Is she breathing? I look for a risingchest motion that betrays respiration, and see nothing but a rainbowcolored hot mess, lying prone and unresponsive on the second floor of a German restaurants’ parking structure. Eric pulls up in the rental, his slack gaze looking more loaded than mine. Seeing my face, he gets out. I bend down over her, trying to see any proof of life or consciousness. Why can’t I see if Mini Missus is breathin’? Holy Jesus, did I just kill a Munchkin? Do you go to Hell for that? Dammit, an Ewok would have bounced – I’ve seen them in movies jumping down from trees – but Munchkins, fucking Munchkins go splat. Ignoring Eric’s question as to what the hell happened, I lean closer to her head. Her bloodshot eyes fly open. Unfocused delirium snaps to focused anger. I look up from the Munchkin-delivered head-butt that just laid me out and the whole country hears her loud, slurred expletives. Who knew a suddenlyconscious but drunken for hours-short person would have a forehead like steel and a mouth like a hooligan. The sting in my damaged head rushes in tidal-like, sweeping back the alcohol and weed buffers. The red-black pain hits my head and shuts down all rational thought and motor skills alike. I lay back down. All I hear is her yelling and cursing. I don’t see the size 4 green-and-yellow shoe fly into my face, but my nose bursts in blood. I cover up as four feet of vicious jumps on my prone, smoke-hazed head. The last thing I see between punches is Eric hovering over me with something in his hand. Is that little fucker taping this with his phone? I try not to squeal out when mini fists puncture my vision, and then remember she is only about 23 kilos. I shove the weight from my chest. 64
Shane Frazier I think I hear Eric, but I’m not sure. Fuzzy on the draw and nothing in reserve, I try to sit up and assess. Rising just in time, I witness my brother quickly stumble over to the Munchkin as she is trying to get up off of her back. He hesitates for a few seconds, and he calmly pulls back his cocked fist. The next thing I can make out is a flying midget sailing over the water fountain. The area, once filled with her sailor’s-grade cussing (I do think a few of those words said something about my dubious parentage, but I will have to get out the German-English app out later and figure that shit out,) goes quiet as she hits the ground (again) and is out - way out. Eric, standing over her, looks at me and simply shrugs as she slowly begins her snoring session once more. I rise to my feet slowly, rubbing my forehead over a newly-tender area, wincing. Eric takes out a black foldy-thing and magically produces the large duffel bag that we left in the car. Confused, hurting, and suddenly un-high, I watch him unzip the bag, and start to place her prone little legs (now wearing only one bright green and yellow checkered shoe) in the bag. Seeing my confused look, he says calmly “Just don’t want this lil’ white hellion jumpin’ on my neck when I’m drivin’”. True dat, but I can’t form the words to agree with him. My lip is swelling from the kick and my nose feels plugged up with blood. I do manage to stand there dumbly; however, aching and convinced that maybe this particular dare wasn’t the right idea. It was this musing that enabled me to completely miss the two Segway-mounted polizei who rolled down the level-ramp and stop not eight meters away from us when Eee realized that we were not alone. Ceasing his body-stuffing activities, Eric looks lost and caught. Our small guest, still knocked the fuck out, was half way in the bag, with her brightly-clad legs and one shoe sticking out of the bag. Blood was dripping down my face mixing in with the tears caused from the assault. My lip, swollen and busted, matches my scratched-up neck and slowly swollen left eye. I knew we should have taken the Ewok signing autographs. Fuck Munchkins. We must have looked like some touristy body-snatchers, robbing some graveyard from the Land of Oz, to transport our victim back to the real world for tallow processing. Turning at the waist, and still rubbing my head, I gaze at Berlin’s finest. Both of them, still astride their two-wheeled steeds, are bundled against the cold. One officers’ gaze seems tuned-in on our knocked-out package; I swallow and attempt to not look caught.
Cult “Ist dass ein zwerg?” speaks the stockier of the two. Eric and I look at each other, not knowing what to say. Standing mute, we both strike the pose of two guilty-ass, semi-black tourists caught doing something bad in Germany. Stammering out a slaughtered “hängen auf“- and holding up my hand in a peace-bearing gesture, I slowly reach to pull my phone out. Nervous, more than slightly stoned, and sporting a growing bruise in the middle of my dome to match the one on my eye, I skittishly search my screen for the translator. Typing in ‘say again please’ and repeating the words sage es noch einmal bitte. Looking annoyed, the officer, stepping off of his Big Wheel, says slowly, Ist. Dass.Ein. Zwerg. Typing...typing...still typing...results. Is that your dwarf? Why yes officer, it is my midget.... Things got a bit strange after that.
Rickyâ€™s Back Yard
About the Authors Persephone White. A girl who likes cats.
Kristin Harley. Kristin Harley creates e-learning content for Hennepin County Library and supports its learning management system and Volunteer Services section. She is an independent consultant both as a librarian and as a certified archivist, is a freelance indexer, and has been published in scholarly journals. She has acted in local, independent films and performed onstage and in festivals as a Raqs al-Sharqi performer (belly dancer).
Cult Stephen Oâ€™Connor. Stephen O'Connor is a writer from Lowell, Massachusetts, where much of his writing is set. He is the author of a collection of short stories, Smokestack Lightning, and two novels, The Spy in the City of Books, and The Witch at Rivermouth. "An Incident at Rehoboth" is his first venture into the realm of flash fiction.
John Weaver. John Weaver is a lecturer at Binghamton University. He is a great fan of Jack London, J.G. Ballard, and Richard Powers. His interests include science fiction, anime, Japanese literature, and writing on the religious right.
Rickyâ€™s Back Yard Shane Frazier. Shane of House Frazier originally hails from the tanned and tasty shores of Huntington Beach, CA, but currently resides in the Sixth Circle of Perdition (Las Vegas) where he is "doin' time" for 1st-degree Stupidity (leavin' Huntington Beach in the first place.). However, the heatstroke and scorched hide does stimulate (and cook) his creative juices for his night-writing, while he works all day in Project Management for a kickass custom tent maker (that's right, I make tents...big ones). He also finds some time to teach Business Management at a local technical school. At home, his Boss, Melissa, minds their five children, three grandkids, and no pets. Mahmoud Sharif. Mahmoud Sharif was born in Somalia, he lives in Montreal and works full-time in the telecommunications Industry. He mostly writes short stories and is inspired by everyday life. Writing is his passion, and his way to relay the unseen, untold and unheard. He started writing in 2008 as the head writer for an IT magazine until 2010. He then joined the Montreal Writers Group in 2013. Mahmoud is influenced by authors such as Knut Hamsun, Haruki Marukami, and Jorge Luis Borges. He evokes the themes of solitude, social rights, and the bizarre. His most recent short story, One Day Before Midnight, can be found at http://www.sleepyhousepress.com/story/one-day-before-midnight/
Cult Matt Sweder. Matt Sweder is a writer living in Los Angeles, wasting away in the warm California sun.
Jenean McBrearty. Jenean McBrearty is a retired Sociology/Political Science teacher who lives in Kentucky, takes on-line classes and pretends she's a princess. Or, on a cloudy day, Norma Desmond when she and imaginary friends splurge on chocolate icecream. Her fiction, photographs, and poetry have been published over a hundred journals and anthologies. Her novel, The 9th Circle, was published by Barbarian Books. Her novel, Raphael Redcloak: Guardian of the Arts was selected by the Santa Clara County CA Library as a YA selection, her YA novel Retrolands is serialized on Jukepop. Other books (Tales From the German Mind, Deathly Short Stories, Helmut Wolf, etc.) are available on LULU.com. Gina Perales. Gina Perales is a former newspaper journalist turned PR professional. This is her second published fiction piece in print. When not wracking her brain over character and plot development, Gina enjoys hiking, reading and philosophy. This mother of three lives in the bustling Big D, Texas, but would rather be writing on a beach, any beach. You can see more of Ginaâ€™s work at www.ginasgrotto.wordpress.com 70
Ricky’s Back Yard Joseph Bishop. Began writing at about 14 years of age (1965) when he wrote his first Ballad, lyrics and music. In 2011 he took that big step and began working on his first novel. In 2013 Joseph completed “AND BLOOD TOUCHES BLOOD: Signs & Symbols” the first of a series. This fictional crime novel was published on Amazon.com in 2014. Currently Joseph is working on a sequel to his first novel.
About the Editors Dr Jo. Here we go again. I’m a dude with a PhD, a David Lee Roth t-shirt, pink sunglasses, a multi-sparkled fuzzy hat (left it in Camden) and the idea to start a magazine. I am a writer and a published author. I know what it is like to submit to places; I know what it feels to be rejected and the awesomeness of acceptance. I also know what it is like to run a magazine that had a lot bigger budget than ours. Why create a magazine when there were so many out there? I love artistic expression. I loathe censorship. I think everyone should have a voice no matter what their twitter count looks like. I love reading, but I am selfish. I love reading certain things–hard to find things–that are not mass produced puke or lit. reading so fluffy that nobody really wants to read it but somehow it is the ‘book of the month’ for the local book club. I don’t care if you write a story during your lunch break or even between flushes at your ‘day job’. What I care about is if you can connect.
Ricky’s Back Yard Lizzie Nicodemus. I’m an artist from Seattle and the art editor for the magazine. When I’m not here, I’m running a mix-of-everything blog and doing graphic design/illustration. All while desperately trying to cut caffeine out of my life. (“What!!? But you live in coffee city!”) Yes. I know.
Dr Jenni. By day a mild mannered molecular biologist, by night….well, you can’t expect to spend your time enthused and infused with DNA and proteins and not expect some sort of consequence … When I’m not paying homage to Mary Shelley I like to visit places where I can get lost, be it the middle of an African desert, the depth of an Amazon rain forest or even somewhere in the centre of a city – yeah, I still can’t figure out how to use GPS. But most of all I love to disappear into a really good book. I’ll read anything that’s put in front of me from the back of a shampoo bottle (I warned you I was a science geek) to dry translations of Russian classics and although I’ve recently been seduced by the world of graphic novels I still enjoy the occasional book with no pictures in it whatsoever.
The Cult issue of RBY. A bit raw. A bit randy. All punk.