Saturday, December 31, 2011

ode to the new year and dame fortune

by horace p sternwall

illustrated by rhoda penmarq

a very very early effusion from horace p sternwall

brothers, let us play the role
of boon companions - raise a bowl
to the continuing success
of finding dame fortune's address

and in the dame's abundant arms
peaceful in her copious charms
in memory we will turn the page
to these bohemian bardic days

and if this prophecy be false
and the future prove no tranquil waltz
and all our days a baneful blight
let us remember yet this night

when in this golden glow of rum
how could our kingdom not but come
and ought but glory come to pass
- waiter, bring another glass!

Friday, December 30, 2011

l'amour, part 1

by gabrielle-jeanette perfidy

illustrated by rhoda penmarq

part one of seventy-eight

part 2

Thursday, December 29, 2011

“A Town Called Disdain”, Episode 108: bad scene

After a brief foray (see last week's episode) on planet Earth, Larry Winchester now returns to our heroes in their hijacked flying saucer, and to the inimitable voice of that charming rogue Dick Ridpath.

(Click here to return to the very beginning of our serial. This episode rated NC-17, for excessive violence to the English language.)

Things got very confused at this point.

The problem was that Daphne couldn’t get her seat belt on. She always has problems with seat belts. Don’t ask me why. I’m sure it didn’t help her nerves that there was this high-pitched screeching noise going on. But, anyway, I can see she’s getting more and more pissed off and frustrated, so, you know me, always the gentleman, I unbuckle my belt and reach over to try to help her when all of a sudden Frank jumps over and wham! he rabbit-punches me right behind the ear, I fall into Daphne’s lap, and then in a flash Frank grabs Daphne’s little gold lamé purse which was lying on the ledge in front of her, he rips it open, takes out the little .38 and presses it against the side of her head.

I know, I know, I fucked up, and believe me I felt like God’s own asshole. What can I say? You have to remember that we were still tripping on that peyote we’d taken earlier that evening, plus of course I had probably had one martini too many, but, no excuse, I fucked up.

So I stand up straight, a little wobbly, Mac and Buddy are still busy at the controls, navigating us out of one dimension and into another, Brad’s just sitting there bug-eyed, I don’t know what Harvey’s doing, with this ungodly screeching science fiction sound getting louder and louder, and over it Frank shouts something dramatic like, “Okay, Mac, now turn this crate around or I introduce some lead into the lovely Mrs. Ridpath’s brain.”

“Well fuck you, mister,” snaps Daphne, turning around so that the pistol’s pointing right in her face.

“No, excuse me, bitch,” says Frank. “Fuck you.”

“Oh!” says Daphne, and she turns to me. “Dick, kill him.”

“Um, excuse me again,” says Frank, “you dizzy fucking broad, perhaps you have not noticed it is I who have got the fucking gat --”

Then, well, my wife has a temper.

She suddenly just whacks at Frank’s gun-hand with her hand, and as she does the gun goes off, I hear a grunt, I turn, and there’s Mac holding the side of his gut with blood streaming through his fingers, and I hear Frank say, “Oh shit,” and then Mac says, “You’re saying oh shit,” and then Frank’s pointing the gun at Buddy and yelling, “Turn this fucker back, Buddy!” and Buddy says, “Okay, Frank, okay, stay calm,” and he presses a button and then wham.


Frank starts floating. I start floating. We’re in free fall. Daphne’s rising up in her seat but she’s holding onto her armrests, and Frank’s in mid-air thrashing his arms and legs and yelling, “Buddy, you fucker!” and I’ve got two damn guns on me, my Browning in my jacket pocket and this .38 Chief’s Special I’d taken off of Henry Silva in my waistband, and I’m trying to grab one or the other of them, but I’m spinning in the air like a drunken acrobat and the guns are flying away from me and all this blood is floating in these scarlet globules all around Mr. MacNamara and then through all the blood I see Buddy, who’s strapped into his chair, he’s got a .45 out from inside his coveralls and he’s snapping the slide back and aiming the gun at Frank and then Frank’s gun goes off again and Buddy gets hit in the lung, but he fires too and as I cartwheel around again I see that Frank’s been hit in the chest and he’s spinning back head over heels pouring out blood as Buddy empties his clip at him and now there’s just blood swirling around everywhere in red clouds and streams as if we were in a big aquarium and someone had just dumped a couple of buckets of red paint into it and then, well, I suppose it was then that we passed through this wall between the two dimensions.

I’d been conked out the first time we went through it, and so except for a few very weird dreams I had been blissfully oblivious on account of having been shot a couple of times by Grupler and Marlene, but now I was awake, and it was -- well -- difficult to put into words really -- like describing an orgasm or an acid trip or something of that nature.

Physically I felt as if my insides were rushing out of me through my head, through my ears and nose and mouth, through my eyes.

Mentally it was, well…

As you know, earlier that night while shaking hands with the Sailor Spaceman I’d had this instantaneous rush of memory, of everything I’d ever experienced from the womb on -- but now it was like I was experiencing practically everything anyone had experienced back through the whole history of man. Every life that had contributed to my life, all my ancestors, living all their lives in reverse, like some awful epic cinéma verité movie run backwards, I saw, I was, I don’t know, a caveman, thousands of years of cavemen, and before that some kind of ape man and so on back and back till I was something slithering out of the ocean -- or actually I was slithering back into the ocean -- and then I was something in the ocean and then back, and finally I was some kind of protozoa I suppose, if that’s what they’re called, and then it was just a bright light for a long time, a very long time, and then it was darkness, just darkness and silence, again, but, once again, oddly enough, I wasn’t afraid.

It keeps coming back to this empty black silence business, doesn’t it? The thing we’re all afraid of. Well, one of the things we’re afraid of. But, again, I wasn’t afraid. I was just there. Back in the old black hole again. But I don’t think I’ve quite described it properly. It was...damn it, I’m no writer, what do I mean? Well -- everything was nothing and I was nothing and everything. And this seemed to be an eternity. I mean I, it, everything and nothing was, were, is beyond time. It all just was. Neither good nor bad, it just was…

Well, whatever.

Okay, to cut it short, all good things must come to an end I suppose because suddenly, an eternity later, I was aware of a light, or I was the light, and then, well, the whole deal started up again but this time in the forward direction, I was the beginning of creation and everything that followed, flying forward through all of history, through the whole damn thing all over again.

And, well, I know Daphne’s going to jump all over me here but through all this it seemed I became aware of something, some sort of profound revelation or epiphany, but unfortunately it was like one of those profound revelations that happen in dreams. When you wake up it’s gone. You know you’ve had it, but you don’t have it now. Oh well. That’s life.

(Continued here. Soon to be a major motion picture event from AIP, starring John Saxon and Anjanette Comer, produced and directed by Larry Winchester; screenplay by Larry Winchester and Horace P. Sternwall.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


by nooshin azadi

illustration by rhoda penmarq


a ladder leaning against an apple tree
bombs plowing the fields
a pretty pebble plunges into a pond

the moon hiding behind the clouds
fingers moving on braille notes
a crow drinks water from a creek

they hardly speak to anyone
anyone hardly listens to them

a creek kissing a crow
braille notes crawling beneath fingers
clouds rub their faces against the moon's

a pond meeting a pretty pebble
fields blooming into bombs
an apple tree leans on a ladder


Fall with Colour

by peter greene

illustrations by rhoda penmarq


i love the crisp whiskey crackle love the
empty space so far filled with waves of wind, it is time for
centipedes to die and tiny things to curl like seeds below the soil it is time for
final toil: racking chest-heaves, the bringing in of squash and last rot tomatoes - of
apples in the basement, some seeping and others

openly weeping but so many hard and still as stones and
as silent pursed around their bitter seeds of twigs and a sad violent circle of feathers where that
big orange tom made to dance with a robin (he danced with my cat and she was all
holes around her big calico sweater neck:
Alice never loses, but age is in her teeth and in the
sometime stumble
since her stroke -

she doesn't get stuck-wink any more, but blood bloomed brown in one green shining
and for a while she was a kitten again, mewing even
now she is a season older and
maybe sometimes she loses. I am losing
time every day - how to keep up! I am assumed to be preparing this mortal volume for the
forensic apparatchik of publishers, supposed to be polishing
my own teeth - but there again is that
quiet cry

a few sharp grey hairs in brown have become
a veritable dust-storm up above; loss, and the thinning not confined to hair (or mind)
skin and tendon have quit their strength, put down quickness and begun the tremulous process of
old age: i walked past a leaf, red-green maple on wet dirt and remembered a truth:
in death, maximize both time (by twisting and turning, no other way through the wind but)
and display: with colour, lad, with colour.

©Peter A. Greene 2011.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 40: the cabbie's tale

by manfred skyline and horace p sternwall

illustrated by roy dismas and rhoda penmarq

for complete episode, click here

Thursday, December 22, 2011

“A Town Called Disdain”, Episode 107: the verge

Previously in this third-place prize-winner of the General Motors Award for Epic and/or Inspirational Literature, our heroes prepared to re-enter our dimension, but meanwhile, back on the planet Earth, not far from a town called Disdain…

The shrieking noise blended into the howling of a coyote, a howling which gradually died out in the cold night desert air, as if the animal had lost heart and simply given up.

An open jeep drove slowly across the top of the mesa.

Lt. Perkins drove, Colonel Masterson sat next to him. In the back behind Perkins sat Captain Pym, his lit pipe in his mouth, leaning over the side and running his flashlight along the wasted ground.

“Slow down, please,” said Pym. Then, after a few more seconds, “Okay, stop. Stop I said.”

Perkins stopped the jeep and Pym leapt lightly out.

“Sh-should I keep the motor running, sir?”

“Yes. Stay with me, but try not to run me over,” said Pym and, following some tire tracks in the dirt with his light, he started walking toward the edge of the mesa, some twenty feet away.

“Run him over,” muttered Masterson.

“S-seriously?” asked Pym.

Masterson sighed, and flicked away a cigarette.

“Just follow him, Perkins,” he said.

“Y-yes, sir.”

Pym came to near the edge of the mesa. The ground here was churned up with horse-hoof prints. He walked around, shining his light on the tortured dry earth, then after a minute he stopped, and, crouching down, he picked up a half-smoked hand-rolled cigarette. He put it to his nose, sniffed once, and his thin nostrils quivered. He stood up.

Perkins stopped the jeep to the left of Pym.

“Whatcha got there, Pym?” asked Masterson, trying not to sound too interested.

Pym handed the cigarette to Masterson, who did exactly as Pym had just done and put it to his nose.

“I’m not supposed to know what this is,” he said.

“You were in Vietnam,” said Pym. “You know what it is.”

Pym held out his hand and Masterson handed the cigarette back to him. Pym placed his pipe on the hood of the jeep and took his lighter out of his coat pocket. He lit the joint and took a good toke. He held it in, gazing down at the desert spread out before him, and at the somber small geometrical shapes of the distant abandoned atomic town. Two tiny stationary lights glowed from the within the town square.

Looking off to the left, over the hood of the car, he saw a knot of headlights streaming across the desert like a living blob of mercury, seemingly headed directly for the mesa on which he stood.

Pym turned to Masterson and, finally, exhaled.

“Thai stick,” he said. “Very hard to find in this country.”

He took another good toke and then proffered the joint to Masterson. Masterson stared at him. Unperturbed, Pym extended his hand past Masterson and offered the joint to Lt. Perkins. Perkins hesitated, but then, habitually obedient, he took the joint. He put it between his thin lips, but before he could inhale Masterson grabbed the joint and flicked it away over the the hood of the jeep.

Pym watched the little speck of light disappear over the slope of the mesa, and then he exhaled a great cloud of smoke.

“This is where you saw the truck disappear?”
he asked Perkins.

“Y-yes, sir.”

Pym picked his pipe up and then tapped the dead ash out against the side of the hood. He paused for just a moment, and then climbed back into the jeep behind Masterson. He took out his tobacco pouch and began to refill his pipe.

“Do you think you could take the jeep down this slope without breaking our necks, Perkins?”

“Um, I, uh, I, uh --”

“Oh, Christ, Perkins,” said Masterson, “just do it, will you?”

“Y-yes, sir,” said Perkins, and he put the jeep in gear.

Pym took out his lighter, and drawing with precise little puffs, he began to light his pipe as Perkins carefully nosed the jeep over the dipping verge of the mesa.

The coyote began to howl again.

Straight ahead across the desert the two tiny lights still glowed like a pair of marooned stars in the deserted atomic town, and off in the left distance the mass of headlights drew closer, its lights separating from one another like an approaching swarm of fireflies.

Cleb and Attie Parsons stood with their bikes by the driver’s side of Big Jake’s idling red Coupe de Ville convertible. Cleb wore a red-and-white striped polo shirt, a blue windbreaker, dungarees and Keds. Attie wore a pale blue shirtwaist dress, a pale grey cardigan and saddle shoes. Their clothes were clean and ironed, but looked well-worn. A very faint green nimbus outlined their bodies.

Doc Goldwasser, grimacing, still held his hand over his right ear.

“What’s ailin’ the Doc?” asked Cleb.

“The Doc’s got a war wound, son,” said Jake. “He’ll be okay soon’s his medicine takes full effect. But doncha think it’s a little late for you kids to be bikin’ out here in the desert?”

“We lookin’ for the flyin’ saucer,” said Cleb. “Same as you, I reckon.”

“Well, I do admire your scientific curiosity, Cleb,” said Jake, “but --”

Cleb raised his arm and pointed in the distance, beyond and to the left of the car.


Big Jake and the Doc both turned and looked.

In the distance they saw what looked like two automobile headlights bumpily descending the slope of a large mesa.

“Shit,” said Jake. “That the saucer?”

“Don’t think so,” said Cleb. “Think it’s car. And it’s headed right down into one of them atomic sink holes.”

“Damn idiotic fools,” said Jake.

Paco and Derek were still smoking dope and watching it all go down on the little TV.

“It’s all starting to come together now,” said Paco.

“Dig it,” said Derek.

Suddenly the screen went haywire -- strange sounds, weird psychedelic patterns.

“What the fuck,” said Derek.

“It’s the Woofer, man,” said Paco. “The Reality Woofer.”

“Fuckin’ ‘ell,” said Derek.

(Continued here, breathlessly. Buy your limited edition A Town Called Disdain action figures now, available exclusively at Kresge’s 5 & 10s everywhere.)

Monday, December 19, 2011


Zach had scheduled the canoe trip from Monday, August 15th through Thursday the 18th, so that before heading home they could spend the night in a lodge.

Sunday evening, Duncan dropped by Zach’s office to say good-bye and found him sitting on the carpet surrounded by life jackets; whistles; fire starters; sun hats; sun screen; bug repellent; quick-dry clothing; binoculars; washing kits; pocket knives and more.

(Click here for the first episode; here for the previous one.) 

“You look like a kid who’s unwrapped all his Christmas presents.”

“Let me show you something,” Zach said reaching for the First Aid kit.

 Duncan said, “Wow. Guess you really are prepared.”

“Matt and I have canoed this trip before so we know: Flat water, white water—it can get wild, no matter what season.”

Duncan nodded and sighed. “I feel like I’m losing my best friend.”

“Not me,” Zach laughed. “I’ll be back here all the time; two of my kids live here.”

“Well, I’m taking a vacation, too. Just to Fire Island, but it’s my first venture out.”

Zach said, “Have fun. And don’t worry about being different from the next guy. Look at how different we are. I’m seriously gonna miss you in Nebraska.”

Duncan’s face lit up.

“Did I really say that?” Zach chuckled and vigorously shook Duncan’s hand, knowing he wanted a hug. Too bad—Zach wasn’t a hugger.

His friend stepped back as if in acknowledgement. “You have fun, too, Zach. And—good luck.” 

“What the hell. Come here.” Zach gave him a bear hug. For a few seconds, Duncan was too surprised to reciprocate but then he slapped Zach’s back, turned his face to hide its sadness, and  hurried away.

Five a.m. the next morning, Zach honked outside his old home.  Matt staggered to the driveway, carrying a load of Boy Scout camping gear.

“Don’t bother with that stuff,” Zach said. “I’ve packed everything we’ll need.”

Matt admired the new canoe loaded on top of the car.

“Kevlar,” Zach said. “Sixteen and a half feet long and only fifty-four pounds.”

They didn’t talk, driving to Milford landing. Zach turned on old rock and roll they both liked or at least didn’t mind: Nirvana, Clapton, the Rolling Stones.

Almost two hours later, when they stepped from the air-conditioned car into the early morning heat, they both wavered in the soupy air. Zach, who was sensitive to sun and bug bites, had worn special new featherweight clothing, bright yellow pants and a long-sleeved jacket.   But the jacket stuck to him like Saran Wrap. He yanked it off, preferring to risk the elements in a tank top. 

Being heavier and, he assumed, stronger, Zach paddled from the stern. They glided through calm water. Soon, however, Zach itched from the heat. Sweat trickled into his eyes. He calculated the last time he and Matt had canoed and figured it was fifty or sixty pounds ago. Reluctantly, he asked Matt to bank at Minisink Island.

When they stepped out, Zach’s inflamed face startled his son. “Dad, why not give me a chance?”

So after Zach rested for five minutes, Matt took the stern. Yet even when not exerting himself, Zach still sweated in sheets. He concentrated on his stroke and sipped water every other beat. He had intended to go over various employment plans with his son, since Matt wasn’t going to college. But Zach could not paddle, think clearly, and hold himself upright all at once, let alone talk. Periodically, he pulled in his paddle, filled his hat with water, and drenched his head. Whenever he slapped a mosquito, it splattered blood.

Several times, the boat encountered a frill of white water. Matt executed ferries solo and thrilled at the peel-outs.

They had started so early that neither had eaten breakfast. Zach felt faint but waited until Matt suggested lunch. They banked the canoe north of the Sandystorm site. After they settled it high on the shore, Zach sat in the river as if in a soothing bath. Matt laid out lunch on a small tarp. Steak sandwiches with broiled onions that Zach had prepared late last night. They downed bottles of water and polished off a big bag of soft chocolate chip cookies.

Now Zach felt fine. His clothes were already dry, his blood sugar up. Of course, it was blazing hot, but what did he expect in August? “My turn at the stern, okay, Matt?”


Then Zach’s hat rolled from his hand and the slope carried it towards the shore. Bounding after it, Zach landed hard and dislodged a big, flat rock. A buzzing black funnel of wasps geysered from the earth. Zach stumbled, covered in layers of wasps, and after whirling about in terror, threw himself in the water.

Yellowjackets. Matt tore the First Aid kit from the canoe and remembered that yellowjackets build underground nests along river banks. When his father failed to surface for air, Matt plowed through the cloud of wasps, waded into the river, and dragged him out.

He called 911 and tried to keep his voice level.

His father had ripped off his clothing, still thick with yellowjackets even as they drowned. Matt noticed how swollen Zach’s face was, especially his mouth. He knew badly stung lips were serious, perhaps lethal. Worse than Zach’s mouth, however, were his neck and ears, red as blood and swelling; hives spread over his chest and belly.

“The River Rescue Patrol is on its way, Dad. Hang on.”

Zach rolled to his right and vomited—another serious, possibly deadly, symptom. Matt propped up his father’s feet, grabbed the First Aid kit, and injected adrenaline for ten seconds. He wiped his father's mottled, bloated body with aloe-cleansing tissues. Then he covered him with a Space Blanket. 

Matt put his face close to Zach’s. “Dad? Dad!”

His dad was breathing but probably unconscious.

Within minutes or hours or an entire afternoon shrinking on the horizon, the patrol boat arrived.

Rescue workers asked about allergies. Matt said his father was sensitive to bug bites and sunburn—that’s all.

The volunteer medics asked if the wasps had covered his father in clumps.

“They engulfed him.”

The River Rescue Patrol raced the emergency boat upstream to Milford where an ambulance was waiting. The medics asked Matt to follow in his own car. Zach had suffered so many stings, his blood poisoned by so much venom, they needed to treat him for septic shock.

Matt drove on the ambulance’s tail, its siren clearing the way. Technicians wheeled his father into the trauma room. Through a small, wired window, Matt watched four doctors bend over his father. A curly-haired nurse touched his shoulder. Blinking at her, he said, “I can donate blood if my dad needs a transfusion.”

“I know, honey.” The woman pushed her glasses at the bridge of her nose before issuing him into a small room—two chairs, a side table, and a phone. He’d left his cell at the picnic site. “Make whatever phone calls are necessary, sweetheart. And if your dad can use that transfusion, I’ll tell the doctors you’re a donor.”

The End

araminta and ferdirondo, part 3 : everywhere was ferdirondo

translated from the carthaginian by horace p sternwall

illustrated by roy dismas and rhoda penmarq

to begin at the beginning, click here

araminta, along with the crown princess and their attendant ladies and courtiers, watched from the top of the south tower as dawn spread over the besieged capital of the kingdom of adriatica, revealing the barbarian army in all its ragged ferocity.

the barbarians surrounded the city on three sides, the north, east and west. to the south lay the river, that led to the ocean, and the kingdoms attendant on the atlantean empire.

the crown princess cast a glance back at the empty river. "still no sign of the atlantean navy or army! ah! this day may be a most baleful one!" murmurs among the attendants broke out behind her.

but araminta kept her gaze straight ahead, to the north gate, where ferdirondo had amassed the bulk of his army, in anticipation of the rebels' main thrust occurring there.

"fear not!" cried araminta, and the wind carried her words across the awakening city, "ferdirondo will deal with them, with or without the emperor!"

a half hearted cheer went up behind her. suddenly, the barbarians, who had been making a hideous racket all night long, fell silent.

"perhaps they are leaving?" enquired one of the youngest of the crown princess's ladies. "and will not attack after all?"

"no," replied araminta, "they are only praying to their devilish gods for success. ha, ha! little do they know what lord ferdirondo has in store for them." shielding her eyes from the sun, she looked toward the east wall, over which the barbarian banners could be seen flapping in the wind. "dogs!" she cried, "barbarian dogs! do your worst!"

as if waiting for her words, the barbarians attacked on all three sides with a hellish roar. bloodthirsty screams rent the air, and cascades of flaming arrows and cannonballs flew over the walls into the city. soon all was confusion.

as expected, the most furious thrust came at the north gate, where the rebels threw their ladders against the wall and sent their first waves of swordsmen and axemen up them. but ferdirondo himself stood at the top of the wall, cutting them down as rapidly as they sprung up.

emboldened by his example, his officers and men attempted to do as much all along the three walls. but as the morning wore on, the sheer numbers of the barbarians, along with the archery and artillery barrages, began to take its toll on their gallant efforts.

with ferdirondo in the thick of battle, leading by example, it fell to the venerable duke of w--------, to direct ferdirondo's own artillery, and to attempt to reinforce those parts of the walls where the barbarians made breaches.

everywhere was ferdirondo, wherever the action was fiercest, cutting down the rebels and lustily cheering his men on. but as the sun rose in the sky, more and more of the barbarians made their way past the walls and into the city streets in search of pillage. soon the piteous cries of the marauders victims began to float through the air.

on the south tower, anxious murmurings of distress began to spring up, until silenced by the crown princess.
"courage!" she cried, "courage! lord ferdirondo has matters well in hand!" but she herself could not refrain from looking back at the river. the winds had died down, and the river was now as empty and placid as a lake.

closer and closer came the shouts of the invaders, the wailing cries of the citizens, and smoke. a major breach had appeared on the west wall, and the barbarians poured through it, only a few hundred yards from the south wall.

"this is madness!" cried araminta. "madness! we can not just stand here and watch!" and she started toward the stairs.

the crown princess wrung her hands. "no, araminta, it is you who are mad. what can we do? we have no weapons. we must wait - wait for lord ferdirondo, or the duke of w--------."

"bah! it will be easy enough to pick up a weapon from the fallen in this melee."

"no, araminta, no. stay! we need your courage here!"

"i am sorry, princess. you have treated me well, but i am a princess myself, and i am not your subject. i will do as i please, and what i please is to join the battle."

part 4: defeat

Sunday, December 18, 2011

how to write a novel in 52 chapters

by rhoda penmarq

take two standard decks of 52 cards. shuffle them.

for the first one, assign each card in the deck a number from 1 to 52. easiest way - ace through king of hearts are 1 to 13, ace through king of diamonds 14 to 26. etc.

every day, or every day that you want to add a "chapter", turn one card from the shuffled deck over. this will give you the number of words for that day's chapter.

for the second deck , assign each of the 26 number-color card combinations (red aces. black queens, etc) a letter of the alphabet from a through z. the first word of the chapter will start with that letter. for unlikely letters like x or z, do what you can. i suggest using "ex" for x, and some approximation of "zero" (like "none" or "nothing") for z.

when you have run through the decks, your 52 chapter "novel" will be complete.

illustrations are optional, but recommended.

for samples of this method in practice, see "la femme" by gabrielle-jeanette perfidy , and "je propre la nuit" by jean-claude etranger.

je propre la nuit, part 52

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by roy dismas

part fifty-two of fifty-two

to begin at the beginning, click here

"then hogan wasn't really after you at all, he was gunning for lefty the whole time."

"you got it."

"does it make you mad?"

"nah. hogan can play his little games. but it don't bother me none - because at the end of the day - i own the night."

the end

Saturday, December 17, 2011

je propre la nuit, part 51

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by roy dismas

part fifty-one of fifty-two

to begin at the beginning, click here

maybe, thought ricky, when it was all over and she was sitting in the diner trying to remember exactly what happened, things would have turned out differently if only...

part 52

Thursday, December 15, 2011

“A Town Called Disdain”, Episode 106: bumpy

We return to Larry Winchester’s masterpiece, in medias res, with Daphne’s father “Mac” MacNamara accusing Frank of some very coldblooded machinations as the gang all sip their cocktails in the flying saucer as it hurtles through space.

(A passing familiarity with our previous episode will make this one slightly less incomprehensible, if no less preposterous.)

“I wonder what your next step was going to be, Frank? The Home Office had already approved my basic plan, so you would have to do something cute, something that would not only get rid of Daphne and Dick and Harvey, but that would make the whole idea of giving humans autonomy look like a mistake -- maybe something involving that little worm Pym?”

Dick, who was in the midst of raising his martini to his lips, paused.

“Pym?” he said. “Al Pym?”

“Yeah,” said Mac. “One of Frankie boy’s little pet projects. He’s been feeding subliminal suggestions to that weasel and that goofy Admiral Hackington for years now. I guess you know Hackington killed Admiral Quigley.”

“Well, no,” said Dick, “I mean, I, uh, had my suspicions, but --”

“Oh, yeah,” said Mac, “Frankie boy’s slick all right.”

“Hey, Mac,” said Frank, refilling his own martini glass and spilling some more gin over the counter, “guess what? Real life is not a Quinn Martin Production, and you are full of shit.”

Brad stubbed out his cigar, got up with his empty glass and headed for the bar.

“You’re the one’s full of shit, Frank.”

“Clam the fuck up, Brad.”

“No, you clam the fuck up, motherfucker. And let me get some of that gin before you hog it all.”

Brad shoved Frank aside, Frank stumbled, trying to keep his drink from spilling.

“Asswipe,” he muttered, but not too loudly, as Brad was much bigger than he.

Brad poured himself a drink, properly using a long cocktail spoon to prevent the ice cubes from plopping into his glass.

“I been eatin’ your shit for over two thousand years now, Frank, and I’ve had it.”

He took a drink, savored it, put the glass down on the counter and took out a pack of Old Golds.

He stared at the pack.

“Look at this shit, I just finished a cigar and now I’m grabbing a cigarette. This is the nerves I got from working this job.”

He shook one out, took out his gold-plated lighter, and lit up.

“Candy-ass,” muttered Frank.

Mac shook his head, took his drink back over to the command console and sat down.

Brad slowly exhaled cigarette smoke, staring at Frank.

“I heard what you said to Henry when you came in the casino tonight, Frank, and I quote: ‘These humans get outa line, don’t be afraid to use your piece. They ain’t gonna be around too long anyhow.’ End quote. I heard you, Frank. That’s your problem -- no, excuse me, that’s one of your fucking problems -- you got a big fuckin’ mouth, Frank.”

He picked up his martini, took another drink.

Back in Paco’s little tin house, watching this go down on the little black-and-white Philco, Derek said, “Fuckin’ A, man.”

“Right on, Brad,” said Paco, and he passed the joint to Derek.

Frank, sweating now, had returned to his seat. He put his drink down and took out his gold cigarette case, clicked it open, took out a cigarette, snapped the case shut and tapped the cigarette on its lid.

“Oh, by the way, Frank,” said Brad. “Don’t even worry about firing me, ‘cause I quit. Salut.

Frank finally got tired of tapping his cigarette, and lit it up with his thin gold lighter. Everyone was looking at him. Even Buddy turned away from his controls for a moment and stared at him.

“Okay,” said Frank. “So I am a bad man. So I am a very bad man. So I was possibly -- and I stress the whatchamacallit adjective ‘possibly’ --”

“Adverb,” said Brad.

“Whatever. Possibly I might have found it necessary to bump off these admittedly very resourceful and talented people here and run the the Earth operation my way -- which, if you will grant me, for argument’s sake, is undoubtedly in fact the right fuckin’ way -- grant all that. Granted, let’s say. Okay. But. Answer me this, Mister MacNamara: just what the fuck do you intend to do now? You’ve fuckin’ hijacked a government saucer, kidnapped me, who by the way is still in command of this Earth operation, plus this jamoke --” he indicated Brad with his cigarette. “Just what the fuck you think you’re gonna do now?”

Buddy checked a gauge and flicked a switch.

A high-pitched noise came from somewhere.

“Two minutes till we engage the Woofer, Major!”

“Okay,” said Mr. MacNamara, swiveling around in his seat to face the console. “Everybody grab a chair and fasten your seatbelts. This part of the ride gets bumpy sometimes.”

“If you ask me,” said Daphne, “this ride has already gotten a bit bumpy.”

The shrieking noise continued as Dick took the seat to Daphne’s right, one empty seat away from Frank, and Brad finished his drink and came over and sat to Frank’s right.

Everyone started to buckle up.

(Continued here; a Quinn Martin Production.)

je propre la nuit, part 50

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by roy dismas

part fifty of fifty-two

to begin at the beginning, click here

"i hope she learned her lesson," lefty muttered as he headed back in search of ricky.

recap: lefty is coming up behind ricky and barnabas.

from the opposite direction, detectives hogan and muldoon have passed clyde , then ricky and barnabas.

they stop and reverse.

part 51

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 39: "nothing like a lady"

by Horace P. Sternwall

edited by Dan Leo*

illustrated by rhoda penmarq, roy dismas and konrad kraus

*Ass’t Professor of Classics and Medieval Philosophy, Olney Community College; editor of “Sincerely, Horace”: Collected Letters of Horace P. Sternwall, Vol. 2: the war years (1942-1945); Olney Community College Press.

for complete episode, click here