Thursday, July 29, 2010

“A Town Called Disdain”, Episode Thirty-Four: Moloch’s lucubrations and revelations

(Click here for our previous episode. Go here to return to the first chapter of what Harold Bloom in Boy's Life has called “quite simply, the great American novel we’ve all been waiting for.")

Join us now as our camera sweeps down over the New Mexico desert and into the wasted foothills just a few miles outside of a town called Disdain, in the early September of the year of the god of hellfire, 1969...

...and dissolve in on the dread motorcycle bandit leader (and former Oxford don) Moloch, still stewing in his own vile juices of hatred following his recent humiliation (and incidentally the killing of one of his raffish band) at the hands of Dick Ridpath (Commander, USN, ret.):

They were in the big cave and the lads were gangbanging some teenagers they had just sold drugs to. They weren’t hurting them really, just having a bit of fun and besides with all the drugs and beer those kids had consumed they wouldn’t feel any pain anyway. At least not tonight they wouldn’t.

Moloch had contented himself with distractedly wanking off in the general direction of one the less depressing-looking girls or perhaps it was a boy while Testicle huffed and puffed his huge rhinocerine body upon her or him.

Then Moloch sat himself down by the fire with a warm sixpack of Falstaff and a bottle of Gordon’s gin. He had taken several Tuinals and just one Delaudid to smooth the meth down a bit, and the acid suffused him nicely now as he sipped the gin and beer and drew occasionally upon the hookah loaded with opiated hash.

There was something his mind was teetering on the edge of, some realization beyond its eternal nightmare of roaring on his powerful machine to the next scene of rapine and pillage all loaded with drugs until his skull felt like to burst as if he had shot up his brain not with raw psilocybin or STP but with a hundred CCs of nitroglycerine.

Something about that chap who’d killed Crackle.

Well, one thing Moloch did know, he would kill the blighter.

Yes he really simply must.

Truth be told, it was rather a sore point with Moloch that he had never actually killed anyone. Oh, certainly, he had spat upon all the values he had grown up on and once held sacred, he had raped people, of both sexes, he had lied and cheated and betrayed, he had stolen and destroyed and defiled, he had crippled, he had sneaked up on the Hell’s Angel who had taken his own eye and cut out both of that chap’s bloody eyes, he had beaten and stomped and cut more than a few people to within an inch of their lives, but, no, to the best of his knowledge he had never actually quite killed anyone.

He had had ample opportunity but something always held him back, even those times when he knew he could have gotten away with it. Even with the commandos back in Korea he had never got a confirmed kill, even then when he could have deprived some human of his pathetic breath of life and got a medal pinned on him for doing it, even then...

And then all at once he remembered and felt a tremendous relief:

Yes. That man. He knew him.

That mission near Songjin with that American UDT in charge of blowing up that railway tunnel.* That young American naval officer commanding their team -- it was the same bloody chap, this fucking “Dick” person.

Oh, and how impressed the young Moloch had been by that fellow.

So casual and good-humored, and got along so well with his men, whereas Moloch’s men despised him he knew for the callow insecure paradeground-mannered prick he decidedly was at that time.

And then, when the mission got so bollocksed up this fellow, Ridpath, yes, Dick Ridpath, he had been so, well, heroic, yes, that was the word, and efficient too.

And, yes, Ridpath had killed; not only setting off those explosions just as the train was passing through, blowing to bloody smithereens God only knew how many Chinks, but also, before, and somehow more notably, slitting the throat of that Chinese sentry, almost severing the poor blighter's head.

All the commandos had been trained to do that sort of thing of course, but -- to actually do it -- to creep up behind the bugger and yank his head back and -- good God. Moloch had had to fight back the urge to vomit whilst the Yank calmly wiped his knife off on the dead blighter’s sleeve and then trotted on as if he hadn’t a worry in the world.

Moloch heard later the man had got the American Navy Cross as well as the British DSC for that mission.**

Well well well and after all these years, bloody comrades in arms and all that.

Now here indeed was a worthy choice for Moloch’s first kill.

*UDT: Underwater Demolition team.

**DSC: Distinguished Service Cross.


(Continued here, relentlessly.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

the spotless bicycle, chapter 2: an excellent concoction

by rhoda penmarq

to begin at the beginning, click here

iphelia and her friends searched over a thirty meter radius of the swamp for the owner of the bicycle

but found no one to claim it

they decided to ride it to the fervid-st john house

whose housekeeper, mrs crunch

though surly and unapproachable

made the best lemonade in the swamp

iphelia politely enquired as to the secret of this excellent concoction

but mrs crunch answered her questions with other questions

a practice iphelia thought rather rude, but was too well bred herself to challenge

in contrast to iphelia's own house, the wide verandah of the fervid-st john house was sparsely populated

and they passed a pleasant afternoon watching the shadows pass over the yew trees

colonel fervid-st john, the master of the house, lay upstairs, where he had been slowly expiring from his honourable wounds for many decades

attended by his faithful companion, moseby

as evening approached, a mischievous urglaut, who had been eyeing the bicycle from the shadows, stealthily approached

and made off with it

and rode into the depths of the dark swamp

serenely indifferent to the cries of the zombies and crocodiles that assailed him from all sides

iphelia, beaugard and charisse were left with no choice but to impose on the hospitality of colonel fervid-st john, and stay the night

they enjoyed a sober but filling repast in the second dining room.

followed by an even more sober game of whist.

afterwards, beaugard and charisse were given the seldom used but meticulously maintained presidential suite, with its magnificent high ceilings

iphelia was escorted to an abandoned maids room nestled under the wainscoting

where she promptly bumped her head

and passed the night with a head full of curious dreams

chapter3: threatening skies

Saturday, July 24, 2010

shuffle up

by rhoda penmarq

some people - actually, one person - asked me about the technique used in the early posts of "'the waitress and the satanist". randomly generated writing has been around since at least the 1920's, with tristan tzara and the dadaists. probably the best known example - at least in the english speaking world - is the "cutups" of brion gysin and william burroughs in the 1960's. all this is familiar enough to those with any interest, and information on it is readily available in the information age.

but not much writing of this type seems to be in print - even burroughs and gysin's "the third mind" seems to be out of print - maybe the only full length book of burroughs that is. the reason? probably that it is more interesting to do this stuff yourself than to read the results of other people doing it. burroughs himself said in so many words that "anybody can do it." exactly. it seems to me that what any kind of random writing does - whether "cutup" or otherwise - is combine reading and writing. you "write" something and then you read it. and "see what happened."

anyway, the exact technique i used is this. you could call it the "shuffle up" technique.

1) take 13 words or phrases, connected or otherwise

2) assign each one a card - ace, deuce, three ...

3) shuffle a deck of cards and then deal out the whole deck one card at a time, writing down the phrase assigned each one

4) maybe add a few random phrases or lines of dialogue

let's try it:

a - alexander

2 - helen

3 - on the beach

4 - under the window

5 - the waves

6 - can you ever

7 - forgive me

8 - last night

9 - this morning

10 - i thought

j - i heard

q - please not now

k - but why not

the result:

please not now last night forgive me helen forgive me on the beach
alexander the waves this morning last night please not now i heard
"what did you hear?"
last night please not now alexander i thought i heard under the window
on the beach i thought but why not i heard i thought can you ever
why should i?
but why not on the beach can you ever the waves this morning
can you ever under the window helen can you ever the waves
"somehow it just happened"
this morning i thought on the beach but why not alexander forgive me
alexander last night helen helen forgive me under the window
flew away
i heard this morning please not now the waves under the window but why not

try it! it's fun - at least for a while. please post any attempts. if you are not a contributor to this blog but would like to post (or become a contributor) please contact:

rpenmarq at gmail dot com


timmy44444 at gmail dot com

Monday, July 19, 2010

“A Town Called Disdain”, Episode 33: Agent Philips

Previously in our unexpurgated serialization of Larry Winchester’s epic of doom and despair (click here for our previous episode; go here to return to the beginning):

The honorably discharged young soldier Harvey has returned from Vietnam to his hometown in the New Mexico hinterlands, killed a man in self-defense, and was immediately hired by the dubietous local rancher Big Jake Johnstone to act as guide for the mysterious and glamorous Dick and Daphne Ridpath (AKA “Smith”). By Harvey’s third day back, four more people and one rattlesnake have died unpleasant deaths.

Meanwhile several other strangers are stopping at Big Jake’s working dude ranch: Mr. and Mrs. Feldschmitt (in reality the sinister Hans Grupler and his partner in international crime Marlene), a scruffy Englishman named Derek Squitters, and two suspiciously bland cleancut young men named Philips and Adams:

(This episode rated IP for Impossible Plotting. Do not read while operating machinery or electronic appliances.)

Special Agent Philips had been trailing Grupler and Marlene on a Yamaha dirt bike, and, as far as he could tell, they had been trailing this Mrs. and Mrs. Smith.

He had heard the gunshots way off in the distance but had not seen the shooting.

Hidden behind a cactus at the top of a hill Philips watched as “the Feldschmitts” remained on the butte for twenty-one minutes after the shooting stopped.

Then he saw the Smiths and that ranch hand riding past the butte back in the direction of the ranch. They rode at a leisurely pace.

Nineteen minutes later Grupler and Marlene climbed down from the butte, got into their Range Rover and continued along the route the Smiths had taken. Philips picked up the vehicle’s tracks and followed at a discreet distance. Then he heard what sounded like a pistol shot. He noted the time in his notebook and continued to follow.

He came to a place in the desert where it seemed the car had stopped and where, judging by the groupings of hoof prints and by some ploppings of horse-feces, the Smiths and their guide had stopped as well.

He noticed a dead snake which looked like a rattler with its rattle cut off. He got off his bike, and, picking up and examining the snake he saw that it appeared to have been shot between the eyes. He got down on his hands and knees and found the spent slug, a .38 or .38 Special. He put the bullet into a plastic evidence bag and then looked around for other evidence, walking in a slowly widening spiral from where he had found the snake.

Suddenly he felt faint, and he stopped.

He breathed deeply, feeling cold sweat on the nape of his neck. He looked up from the ground, trying to dispel the dizziness. The world suddenly looked horribly enormous, while he was horribly small, and he felt terribly alone.

A red sun burst through the slate-colored sky.

The sun began to move around in a circle, Philips heard several billion voices laughing, crying and singing, and then the earth rushed up and slammed into him.

He felt he had only been unconscious for a few seconds. He breathed deeply a few times into the earth and then pushed himself up into a sitting position, wiping the silica-tasting dirt from his lips. He looked up and the enormous sky was completely overcast again.

Philips took out his notebook and made a few more notes, then he got up and brushed himself off.

(Continued here.)

the old dark house (hommage a gorey)

by horace p sternwall

pictures by rhoda penmarq

the reverend edward gorey
told a most edifying story
and illustrated his strictures
with finely executed pictures

children neither seen or heard
devoured every pious word
and satan's wiles they upbraided
as into the woodwork they faded

their elders were uplifted too
by tales so moral, stark, and true
and sat upright in morris chairs
exchanging baleful nods and glares

in shadowy conservatories
they mumbled their unlikely stories
with particular attention to the chances
of outliving their inheritances

ashen aunts with dwindling dollars
unctuous uncles in starched collars
comatose cousins on silent settees
with tired teacups on their knees

upstairs maids with drooping tresses
silent brooding governesses
manservants with creaking limbs
in hallways dark and doorways dim

parrots with small vocabularies
needy nephews sipping sherries
reptiles lost behind chaises longues
divas mumbling forgotten songs

and to complete the mournful frieze
moths who never felt a breeze
dogs who answer no human call
and cats - the worst of all

Saturday, July 17, 2010

the spotless bicycle

by rhoda penmarq

with a bow to the shade of mr edward gorey


lived in a big house in a swamp

with an imposing collection of aunts, uncles and cousins

who spent their days

on a wide verandah in rocking chairs exuding despair

iphelia was a cheerful child, and never relented in her efforts to brighten the moods of her unhappy relatives

with ever diminishing results

only cousin chalmers showed even a flicker of energy

but even he did not care so much for little girls

iphelia's best friends were a cormorant named charisse

and a bear named beaufort

together they searched the swamp for interesting objects, to try to strike the fancy and allay the torpor of the house's inhabitants

the three friends did not always see eye to eye on what constituted "interesting"

beaufort liked artifacts from galactic empires that had fallen from the sky

iphelia preferred objects that emerged from the primal ooze after being submerged for billions of years

while charisse only considered charm and taste regardless of age or origin

one day they found a curiously spotless bicycle

they approached it with some trepidation

chapter 2: an excellent concoction