Thursday, May 31, 2012

“A Town Called Disdain”, Episode 130: cocktails


Our heroes, and our anti-heroes, those who have survived, have finally made it back to the Johnstone ranch, very late on this September night in 1969, just a short ride by Cadillac car from a town called Disdain...

(Go here to read our previous chapter, or here for the very first chapter of this Horace P. Sternwall Prize-winning epic from Larry Wincester, the man Harold Bloom has called “perhaps the only living American writer who could give Arnold Schnabel a run for his money”.)


Jake insisted that everyone stay over, even Paco, but before they turned in he wanted to give them all a nice big Western-style breakfast. So, after telephoning Mr. Parsons and making sure it was okay for Cleb and Attie to stay, he woke up Chang and Esmeralda and put them to work while everybody sat in the parlor and had some liquid refreshment.

No one had yet spoken of the amazing things that had happened that night. Finally, though, after Enid had finished her first Manhattan and while Jake was mixing a new shakerful, she couldn’t take it any more.

“All right,” she said, “I give up. I’ll come out and say it since no one else seems to want to. What the hell happened tonight?”

Big Jake stopped stirring the cocktails.

“Now, Miz Enid, I don’t know as we have to talk about all that. Ain’t that right, Major?”

Mr. MacNamara remained suavely impassive.

“So you’re a major?” asked Enid.

“Used to be,” said Mac, sitting in his blood-stained suit in a comfortable stuffed leather chair. “Jake and I knew each other back in the war.”

“What --” Enid didn’t quite know what she wanted to ask next. She turned to Daphne, who was sitting next to her on the sofa. “Daphne, speak to me. What happened with that little sailor guy?”

Sailor, thought Jake. So the navy was involved too.

“Oh. The Sailor,” said Daphne. “He was killed, sad to say. Shot.”

“Killed? By whom?”

“Well, by that German person who was staying here, him and his trollop girlfriend or wife or whore. You remember, from the barbecue? Mein Herr and Frau Von Hideous?”

Hmmm, thought Jake. He hadn’t trusted them Germans one bit, no sir, even if they were nice and polite. Not one bit.

“Wh--, what --”

Again Enid didn’t know quite what she wanted to ask. Had it all been a peyote dream? But no, it wasn’t a dream that these people were splattered with blood, and that this Major and this Buddy person seemed to have bullet holes in their clothing.

“You see,” said Daphne, “they were in the spaceship.”

“Who? The Germans?”

“Yes.”

“How did the Germans get in the spaceship?”

“The Sailor left the ramp down. He shouldn’t have done that.”

Leave it to the navy to fuck things up, thought Jake.

“Okay,” said Enid; “and what happened to the German people?”

“Well -- can I say this, Papa?”

Mac shrugged, and lit a cigarette. He looked as if he were quite enjoying Daphne’s summation of the evening’s events.

“Well,” she went on, after taking a sip of her Manhattan, “we went into the spaceship, Dick and the Sailor and I, and the Sailor closed the doors behind us by pressing some buttons on a panel on the wall, but then we found the Sailor’s friends shot by Adolph and Eva, and the Sailor went ape so they shot him, and Harvey I think shot the trollop, and they both shot Dick and Harvey, and the guy was going to shoot Dick again, and so I shot the guy. I don’t regret it either. Right through the head.”

“Dick and Harvey were shot,” said Enid.

“Yes. But the Sailor managed to heal them with this mystical life force thing with his fingers, before he died.”

“Oh, come on.”

“No, I’m quite serious, Enid. Then, while Dick and Harvey were recovering, I went to look for a ladies’ room and I found this sort of control room with a lot of TV screens in it, and one of them had a spaceman on it, and I told him what had happened and he said, okay, well, press such and such buttons and this will open the doors to the spaceship so we can leave, but I pressed the wrong buttons because I had to pee so badly and I couldn’t concentrate and I accidentally made the thing take off into outer space, and then into quite another dimension in fact.”

“Oh, please, Daphne.”

“Well, Enid, you asked, and that’s exactly what happened. And then, well, I really did have to pee and I never did find the ladies’ room, so I went in this grate and all sorts of smoke came out and I was absolutely terrified that we would all suffocate, but then we landed in this sort of casino in outer space.”

Big Jake realized she was fooling now. She obviously couldn’t give away all the top secret info about what really went on in that flying saucer, so she was just having fun, God bless her.

He gave the Manhattans another stir.

“And that’s where we met the whole Rat Pack,” said Daphne, “including Brad over there.”

“Hey, look,” said Brad, “I am only a hired hand.” Brad was standing with his drink. He was one of those guys who preferred to do his drinking standing up. “In fact,” he said, “come to think of it, I guess I’m not even a hired hand now. I seem to be out of a job.”

“Not necessarily,” said Mac. “I can always use a good man.”

“Hoo boy,” said Brad. “Somethin’ tells me I might be goin’ from the frying pan into the fire, but what the hell, I doubt they’ll take me back at the casino after all the shit that went down tonight, and since I ain’t eligible for unemployment comp, what the hell, you’re on, Major.”

“Call me Mac.”

Jake figured “the casino” must be code for the air force base they flew out of, maybe the local one, maybe not, maybe it was that Area 51 place he’d heard about. Anyways, he figured that Brad had probably been at least partially responsible for the saucer’s crash landing, maybe he was the pilot, and his ass was in a sling by consequence; but the Major was telling him don’t worry about it, Brad had a job with him if he wanted it. There were probably all sorts of different government and military factions involved, everybody trying to cover their own ass just like everywhere else.

Then Esmeralda came in and said breakfast was ready.


(Continued here, absolutely free, gratis, and for nothing, for a limited time only.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

l'amour, part 21

by gabrielle-jeanette perfidy

illustrated by rhoda penmarq

part twenty-one of seventy-eight

for previous chapter, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here

















part 22

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

the awakening of a silly girl - 1. the marriage license

by victorine de valois

illustrated by rhoda penmarq and roy dismas








dora d----- was a young woman of a very compliant and easy-going nature, and when her aunt grunhilde informed her that she, dora, had been betrothed to a lieutenant h-----, from the province of m-------, a gentleman whose existence she had hitherto been unaware of, she not only assented without a murmur but was not so ill-bred as to inquire as to any qualities he might possess.

she went on sewing a motto into a handkerchief without missing a stitch. the handkerchief was very white, and she was inscribing in bright blue thread the motto "the brave rush to meet the future".



this and the other handkerchiefs she was inscribing would be distributed to the officers and men of the ------th hussars, which her uncle gustaf was commanding officer of. dora had become quite adept at sewing such mottoes into handkerchiefs, spent part of every day except sunday doing it, and enjoyed it as much as she could be said to enjoy anything.

"i wonder," dora said aloud after a while, "if my life will be any different when i am married."

"i am sure it will be," answered aunt grunhilde evenly. "in some small ways. you will have to take a larger share in directing the servants, for one thing. and you will have to learn to take a more decisive tone with them. "

"of course," dora replied absently.

"was there something else you had in mind?"








for complete episode, click here

Sunday, May 27, 2012

fenwick - 2. strawberries

by minette de montfort

illustrated by roy dismas







i accepted my bag of strawberries from the insolent master of the roadside fruit stand, and nodded adieu to costermayne.

but costermayne was not to be nodded adieu to. the fellow actually grabbed my arm to prevent me from leaving him.

"to start life anew," he repeated in his most offensive tone. "a curious expression, is it not? why, asks the philosopher, would one wish to to start life anew? would not one's infinite fund of joyous and happy memories be wiped out at one swipe? who would wish for that, eh?"




"a most fascinating topic for discussion," i responded with as much iciness as i could muster. "for another time, perhaps." but the brute persisted in leeching himself to me.

"another time? what other time? what other time is there?" he fixed my eyes with his baleful blue ones. "what is time? what can time be to you, muggles, if you are spending it in here at a fruit stand by the side of the road, here in county k---------, in the year of our lord 1------, under an uncharacteristically blue sky, as a gentle breeze wafts from the bay? eh?"








for complete episode, click here

Saturday, May 26, 2012

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 58: angie philosophizes

by horace p sternwall and manfred skyline

illustrated by rhoda penmarq and roy dismas

























for complete episode, click here

Friday, May 25, 2012

“A Town Called Disdain”, Episode 129: homeward


Let us return now to a certain momentous night in September of 1969, and to the desert beyond the darkness at the edge of a town called Disdain...


(Go here to review our previous chapter, or here for the first chapter of this Pulitzer Prize long-listed chef d’ouevre from the battered Royal portable of Larry Winchester, the man Harold Bloom has called “the unholy love child of James Joyce and Jackie Collins”.)


Derek had gotten pretty banged up and cut up but the principal source of all his yelling was a dislocated knee. The Doc gave him some tincture of opium, and then Enid and Hope held Derek down while the Doc popped the knee back into place.

Paco hadn’t broken anything but he was pretty banged up too, so the Doc gave him some opium as well.

They were all hunkered down smoking cigarettes by the wrecked station wagon lying on its side when Jake’s Cadillac drove up.

Some moments are too weird for words. When very strange things happen it’s hard enough just realizing what’s happening; it’s even harder to say something about it.

And so Enid and Hope and the Doc and Paco and even Derek didn’t say very much at all when Jake pulled up with Dick and Daphne and Harvey and Cleb and Attie as well as these three other strange men, all of them except Jake and Cleb and Attie more or less splattered with gore.

Everyone piled out of the Cadillac, and Dick made the introductions. Everyone who didn’t already have a cigarette or a cigar going lit one up.

The Doc and Mr. MacNamara actually recognized each other from the OSS officers’ club in Paris and the night in 1944 when Mac had gotten the Doc laid by a Sorbonne student, but neither the Doc nor Mac made a big deal out of this reunion, and everyone else seemed to accept it as par for the course.

No one asked the obvious questions. The general feeling seemed to be, “All in good time. First let’s get out of this fucking desert.”

The immediate problem was transportation, so all the men except Paco and Derek pitched in and managed to turn Paco’s station wagon off its side and right side up again. The engine was shot to hell but the tires were still good, so they rigged the front of the station wagon to the back of Jake’s Cadillac with some rope Jake had in his trunk.

Everybody piled into both cars, and Jake started towing the station wagon to his ranch.

Harvey wound up in the far left back seat of the Cadillac with Attie on his lap. Mrs. Ridpath sat next to Harvey with Cleb on her lap. Cleb fell asleep with his head on Harvey’s right shoulder. Harvey could smell Attie’s hair in his face and she felt warm and not very heavy. Funny thing, up close like this in the starlight her skin didn’t look green at all. He started to get an erection, so he lifted one thigh up a bit to try to disguise it.

“Am I too heavy, Harvey?” asked Attie.

“Nope. You’re light as a feather, Attie.”

“Then why are you shifting around like that?”

“Oh, no reason.”

She shifted a bit herself.

“That better, Harvey?”

“Yep. Just fine.”

He was hard as a rock now and still trying to hold his one thigh higher to hide it when Attie shifted again so that her back was right against his stomach and she scrunched his leg down so that his hard-on went in between her buttocks.

Harvey sighed.

He’d tried to be a gentleman and there wasn’t much more you could do beyond that.

Well, it was only natural.

God only knew how much time Attie had on the Earth, or him either for that matter.

Who could begrudge them?


(To be strangely continued. Be sure to visit your local Woolworth’s to complete your collection of A Town Called Disdain© "Action" Figures™, this week only marked down 75%.)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

a black feather

by nooshin azadi

illustration by adelaide wylde bunch





.

a black feather 
falls from the cage
frivolously floating in the agitated air
timmy notices it
before it lands on rhoda's wavering hair
"another one!" he gasps
as he catches the feather
"can this be mine, too?"
he glances up at the cage
"what can i do with all these feathers
in this small cage?" croaks the crow
"didn't i tell you before
you can use them as you like?
alas! seems even this gentle soul doesn't understand
my tongue!" adds the crow with a sigh

crow's harsh cries fade away
in the new glorious piece horace 
choose to play
timmy glances at the cage 
a second time and shrugs
the cage is now swinging in the gentle
breeze rushing through the open stained-glass window
he advances towards his show-case in the corner of the hall
examining the feather intently

the show-case is full of feathers of all colors and sizes
the black ones are scattered 
randomly among them
they are crow's
crow knows them
she has not counted them
but she knows they are not 
a thousand and one 
yet

.






Wednesday, May 23, 2012

the fourteenth princess - chapter 7: jolene's dream

by emily de villaincourt

illustrated by konrad kraus , rhoda penmarq and roy dismas





























for complete episode, click here

Monday, May 21, 2012

a big dance hall

by nooshin azadi

illustration by adelaide wylde bunch





.

a big dance hall
with a high ceiling
from which a cage is hanging
the cage is not empty

rhoda is dancing gracefully in the center of the hall
to the celestial music horace is playing
timmy is watching her adoringly
others are talking
drinking
or dancing too
there are a thousand and one people in the hall
exactly a thousand and one
crow has counted them 
a thousand and one times

she knows every one of them
every one of them
except the one 
who has invited them 
to the dance

.






Thursday, May 17, 2012

“A Town Called Disdain”, Episode 128: requiescat


Our legendary author Larry Winchester, that master literary ventriloquist, now reverts back to the third-person semi-omniscient, on this fateful night in September, 1969, in the desert some several miles beyond the outskirts of a wretched little town called Disdain...

(Go here for our previous chapter, or here for the first chapter of this "oddly inspiring"* epic.)

*Horace P. Sternwall, in
Boys' Life.


No one was especially surprised to see the headlights of what proved to be Big Jake’s Cadillac approaching across the dark desert and emerging from the still-descending cloud of dust. And for once in Jake’s life people were genuinely glad to see him. After all, it would have been a long walk back to the ranch.

Anyway, he pulled up and got out of the car, leaving the headlights on, and, after he greeted Dick and Daphne and Harvey, he and Mr. MacNamara looked at each other quizzically, their heads a bit tilted. They knew each other from somewhere.

Then Buddy spoke up.

“Hey, if it ain’t Staff Sarn't Johnstone.”

“What in hell,” said Jake.

“Goddamn,” said Mr. MacNamara, “so it is. Howya doin’, Sarge? Still makin’ a few francs?”

“Well, I’ll be goddamned,” said Jake.

“Probably,” said Mr. MacNamara.

“Major MacNamara,” said Jake.

“Private citizen now, Jake.”

“Well, put ‘er there, sir.”

Mac put her there. He’d done business with Jake back in the war. Jake had been the primary supplier of wine, liquor, tobacco and girls for the OSS officers’ club Mac had set up in Paris back in ’44.

“Damn, sir, that was you in that there space ship?”

Mac still held Jake’s hand. He now put his left hand over Jake’s as well.

“Jake, I trust you’re still the loyal American you always were.”

“I damn well am, sir.”

“Then I’m gonna have to ask you to keep all -- all this -- under that ten-gallon hat of yours.”

“You mean --”

Mr. MacNamara finally released Jake’s hand.

“That’s right, Jake. Top Secret. Let’s just say we were testing out a new experimental aircraft for the government, and, well, I suppose we’ve still got a few bugs to iron out.”

“Shee-it. And here I thought you was all spacemen.”

“Just good Americans like yourself, Jake. But you know how it is. If the Russkies were to get wind of a project like this, well --”

“Major, as far as I’m concerned, none of this ever happened, and as long as I got some say over what happens in this county none of it ever will happen, and like they say, a nod’s as good as a wink --”

“Good,” said Mr. MacNamara. “It’s tough about those motorcycle fellows, but something tells me they won’t be too sorely missed.”

“Well, I think you’re correct there, Major.”

Jake nudged Moloch’s body with his boot-tip.

“Fact is,” he said, “there’s plenty folks around here’d probly like to give ya the Distinguished Service Medal for bumpin’ off this piece o’ shit.”

“To tell the truth we didn’t bump him off. He was just about to shoot us all with that Sten gun there when a baseball came out of the sky and brained him.”

“No kiddin’,” said Jake. “Wonder if it was that ball Lefty Schiessen hit tonight?”

“Who the hell’s Lefty Schiessen?”

“Pitcher on the local minor league team. Hit a ball earlier tonight just as a flyin’ saucer went past -- I mean I reckon it was your, uh, experimental aircraft, and that ball just flew away up into the sky and never come down.”

“Oh, yeah,” said Mac, “that stuff happens. The craft, uh, pulls things into its, uh, gravitational field.”

“No shit,” said Jake. “Well, like you said, sir, these fellers won’t be too sorely missed. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.”

Actually Moloch’s death did in fact sadden Big Jake. He had made a fine shitload of money selling LSD to the Motorpsychos over the past couple of years. Well, there was always another angle if you just kept your eyes open.

“By the way, Major, you folks all right? You got a hell of a lot of blood ‘n’ gore on ya there.”

“Well, we lost someone in there, Jake, and, as you say, there was a lot of blood.”

“Oh. Shame.”

“But we’d like to keep that quiet, too, Jake.”

“Right. I understand, Major. Like none of this never happened.”

“That’s right, Jake.”

Jake turned and looked through the nearly-dissipated dust cloud at the broad dark path the saucer had scored into the desert.

“Well, them other fellas all got pretty squashed up. Whatever’s left the buzzards and the coyotes will take care of, or the desert sands’ll bury. As for ol’ Moloch here --”

Everyone looked back and forth at each other, and then Jake put his cigar in his mouth, reached down, grabbed the Sten gun in one hand and Moloch’s ankle in the other and started dragging the body over to the sink hole. Brad and Buddy came over, and each grabbed a dead arm to help out.

“What’s your moniker, buddy?” said Jake to Brad.

“Brad.”

“You look familiar, too.”

“I got one of those faces,” said Brad.

They had the corpse almost at the edge when Dick said, “Uh, wait a minute, fellas --”

Brad and Buddy and Jake all turned and looked at Dick.

“Um, maybe we should, you know, say something --”

Jake and Brad and Buddy all dropped their respective limbs, Jake let the Sten gun drop onto Moloch’s belly, and they all continued to look at at Dick.

“Oh, I guess it’s up to me,” said Dick.

“Well, it was your idea, Mr. Smith,” said Jake.

“Yeah, well.”

Dick dropped his cigarette, stubbed it out with the sole of his shoe. He drew a blank until he remembered a favorite movie from his adolescence.

“Oh. I know.” John Wayne in They Were Expendable. “Let me see.” He cleared his throat. “Okay, I think I’ve got it:

Under the wide and, uh, starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie,
Glad did I live and gladly die.
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
‘Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And --’ uh -- um -- shit -- what the fuck is it?"

'And the hunter home from the hill', you idiot,” croaked Moloch.

“Jesus Christ,” said Dick.

“Oh, my God,” said Daphne and she grabbed onto Harvey’s arm this time because he was the closest.

Moloch sat up, with that great bloody cavity in his head and with his crushed nose and with his one good eye glaring and glittering.

“See you in hell, sailor,” he said as he took up the Sten gun in his lap and pointed it at Dick.

Then there was a knife in his neck and he sat very still.

Dick stepped forward smartly and kicked the gun out of Moloch’s hand and off it went into the sink hole.

Then everyone, including Moloch, turned to see who had thrown the knife.

It was little Cleb Parsons, straddling his bike about thirty feet away. Attie was on her bike next to him. Both Cleb and Attie just barely glowed a beautiful soft green in the haze of dust illuminated by the headlights of Big Jake’s Cadillac.

Moloch made a noise as if clearing his throat and then, putting one hand flat on the dirt to his right, he tried to stand, amazingly, but failed and fell sideways over the edge of the sink hole and disappeared beneath the sand, joining the Sten gun and Lefty’s baseball and the Thorndykes and their truck, and Testicle and his bike, Colonel Masterson and Lieutenant Perkins and their jeep, Captain Pym, the flying saucer and Frank, Daphne’s riding boot, and God only knew who or what else.


There was a pause of a few moments and then Jake said, “Y’know, Brad, y’know who you look like? Like that feller in The Magnificent Seven, whatsisname.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, the one that thought the villagers had a secret stash o’ gold.”

“Yeah, I've gotten that before, actually.”

“What the hell’s that guy’s name?”

“Uh, Jake,” said Mr. MacNamara, “it’s getting a little cold out here, don’t you think?”


It was so late that Jake told Cleb and Attie they better just stay over his place that night, and he’d ring up Mr. Parsons to get his permission when they got back to the ranch.

Then he remembered Hope and Enid and the Doc and Paco and Derek, out there in the desert by Paco’s overturned station wagon.


(To be continued. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Michael Parks and Ann-Margret, coming to better drive-ins everywhere on a double bill with Larry Winchester’s Italian-made thriller The Odd And The Odious, starring Franco Nero and Anna Karina.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Paul Bunyan and the Three Sisters; Part Two: The Three Inbred Brothers"

by Dan Leo

illustrated by eddie el greco and danny delacroix

a penmarq studios production

click here for Part One









Suddenly there was a burst of light at the top
of the basement stairs, concurrently
with the sound of the creaking of a door, and
then, in single file, down the stairs
came three large inbred louts,
each armed with a double-barreled shotgun.

One of them, the smallest one,
(we found out later his name was Cletus)
pointed his gun at me.



“You, handsome Dan, you’re first.”

“Don’t go,” said Paul.

“Tell ‘em to fuck themselves,” said Babe.

But this Cletus cocked both hammers
of his shotgun, and,
what are you going to do?

I got up.

“So long, pal,” said Paul.

“Later, dude,” said Babe.



“See ya when I see ya,” says I.

And up I went, with the three
inbred bothers,
Cletus,
(and, as we were to learn their names anon)
Festus,
and
Augustus.



They marched me up to the third floor,
and, after giving me a bath in incense-
scented water, and bidding me clean
my teeth and shave my chin whiskers,



I was clad in a silk robe and taken
to a bedroom, where awaited the
three sisters:
Letitia,
Patricia,
and
Felicia.

The things they made me do
the things they did to me
I don’t even want to talk about.



Hours later the three inbred brothers
dragged me back down to the basement,
where Paul and Babe did the best they
could to console me.



Next day it was Paul’s turn.



As painful as it had all been for me,
I think it was even more horrifying
for me to see this great giant,
this paragon,
this hero called Paul Bunyan,
return a gibbering whimpering child.



Babe and I did what we could
to comfort our friend.

Next day it was Babe’s turn.

“Good luck, old pal,” said Paul.

“Chin up, buddy,” says I.



“Yeah, right,” said Babe,
noble Babe,
Babe the great blue ox.



Some hours later the basement door
opened again, and silhouetted
in that coffin of light at the
top of the stairs was Babe.

“Come on, you lazy bastards,” he yelled,
“let’s go!”

He didn’t have to tell me and Paul
twice.

We tramped up those stairs
damned quick.

“Come on, pals,” said Babe,
“time to hit the road.”



He led the way, and we followed him,
and in the living room we saw
the three inbred brothers,
standing in a line,
holding their shotguns
at “order arms”.

“See ya later, fellas,” said Babe
to the three inbred brothers,
the ones he told us later were
named Cletus,
Festus,
and Augustus.

And we walked right on out that front door,
across that great big porch and down the
steps, down the winding path down
that hill, and through that cast-iron gate
and back to the road.



“Babe,” said Paul, as we set sprightly off,
southbound, as the sun began to set to our right,
“what the hell happened in there?”

“Yeah,” I said, “what the hell, babe?”

“Fellas,” said Babe, “let’s just say
I gave them three sisters all they wanted.
And then I gave them just a little bit more.”



And he began to whistle a merry tune.



And, as the sun set, and as that road
grew dark
we walked along,
the three of us,
Paul Bunyan,
Babe the great Blue Ox,
and me.

We walked on,

New Orleans bound.