The Driver’s Guide to
Hitting Pedestrians

By Andersen Prunty

Publisher: Lazy
Fascist Press

 

Reviewed by Esteban Silvani

 

After listening to Prunty’s reading
of “A 3-Legged Dog Dying of Cancer” at the Horrorfind convention, I just had to
whip out the $10 or so to get the damn book. Glad I did. There aren’t many
books out there other than graphic medical procedurals that give me as many
belly laughs as this one did. The opener, “A Driver’s Guide to Hitting
Pedestrians” is a positively hilarious yarn about a pedestrian hitting contest.
Beneath the absurdities lies a rather touching account of a determined man who
has blindly forgone a life of family and complacency in pursuit of victory.

 

Other standouts include “Architecture,”
in which a man decides to build a tower with himself as the base. And then
there is “Chainsaw Mouth,” in which a seemingly routine visit to the dentist
leaves a man with a chainsaw for a mouth. “Lost,”  is a tale having to do with a man’s moustache
leaving his lip during an episode of cunnilingus only to reappear as he watches
the woman and his moustache in a porno. My favorite of the bunch is “The
Balloon Man’s Secret,” which is about a balloon salesman who himself becomes
deflated after losing out on the closest encounter he’s ever had with love.

 

Prunty’s
writing is clear, concise, witty, and he is at his best when his imagination
delves into the oddest of spaces to bring us entertaining literature that
defies genre restrictions. This novella length collection of short stories
contains 23 stories, some being a mere page in length. I could not put it down.
Totally worth its weight in dough.

Channelling by Dave Mahan

 

PACK RAT

or THE WAY OF ALL FLESH

A Parable by John Bruni

 (Editor’s note: this sick piece originally appeared back in 2005 in the now defunct Cthuhlu Sex magazine which was one of my favorite literary mags. While this one may not be “bizarro” per se, it is downright nasty and worthy of inclusion. A special thanks to John is in order for re-typing this whole piece upon my request being his hard drive crashed. John, I salute you.)

     I found her on a dark, wet autumn night.  It was the last thing I expected to see, especially after a mundane workday, completely uneventful and dead.  I had a sandwich from 7-11 and a candy bar from the office vending machine for dinner.  Days didn’t come blander than this.

     I walked home through a drizzle so light it felt like mist tickling my flesh.  I took my usual route, and I’d never seen anything out of the ordinary before.  Just used condoms, heroin needles, litter of a more innocent nature, and of course the occasional homeless person.  They knew me, though, so they didn’t bother me for change.

     A block away from my apartment, by pure chance–or perhaps by an indoctrinated fear of dark places in the city–I glanced into an alley and found it uncharacteristically void of the homeless.  I almost turned away before seeing the reason.  A foot stuck out from beneath a pile of trash, topped by a pallid, bony ankle.

     Normally, I’d mind my own business, but something drew me into the alley.  A flashing neon sign from across the street guided my path.  As I came closer, I saw a branch-like arm protruding next to the foot, and a syringe hung from the doughy flesh.  Even in the dim illumination, I could see a small trickle of red.

     This image should have turned me away, but I found myself affixed to the ground by curiosity and fascination, like a child watching his own fingers pluck wings off of flies.  I’d never seen a body before, and this person had to be dead.  Regardless of the needle, whoever it was would have definitely suffocated under the garbage long ago.

     I pulled the overstuffed, ripe Hefty bag aside and felt vaguely surprised to see the corpse was a woman I knew.  I regretted her death, considering her beauty.  Though her eyes had collapsed in their sockets, they had a nice green hue that became enhanced by the translucent clouds trying to obscure them.  Her blood had already sunken, showing a very pale color on her front and turning what very little I could see of her back dark.  Through the legs of her short-shorts, I could see her bowels had emptied.

     I know, I know.  How could I consider her beautiful if she had so many flaws characterized by death?  Well, everyone has flaws.  No one’s perfect.  She’d lived in the alley, where I’d seen her slinging her hook at every guy that passed (and some of the ladies, too).  Her rates were cheap, as she mostly wanted rock, but this time, she must have made enough to score some heroin.  She’d killed herself with her own desire.

     I never considered buying her.  She certainly had diseases, and I wanted nothing to do with that.  Still, she possessed surprising beauty for a streetwalker, despite the rail-thin body and the constant dull look in her eyes.

     I hated to see such things go to waste.  My mother always called me a pack rat.  I couldn’t throw anything away, no matter how useless.  Even cellophane wrappers and newspapers, things like that.  She had to throw away my discarded chicken bones out of fear I’d keep those, too.  I don’t know why I lived like that.  Maybe I thought I’d have a use for such junk in the future.

     I couldn’t help myself.  I had to bring her home.  My apartment wasn’t that far.  People were staying inside because of the god-awful weather.  All the factors were in my favor.  I even had something with which to cover her body.

     I untied the garbage bag and spilled its contents out in a Dumpster.  Rigor mortis hadn’t set in yet (which meant she hadn’t even been dead an hour!), so given her small stature, I managed to fit her into one bag.  I didn’t touch her in the process, using the heavy plastic as a make-shift glove.  Still, her flesh felt rather soft, even through a Hefty bag.

     Though she was dead weight, she felt very light.  I lived on the basement floor, so I didn’t have to carry her upstairs.  No one molested me on my way home, and no one saw me as I unlocked my door and brought the dead heroin whore into my apartment.

     Stepping around piles and piles of old cereal boxes and wrappers, I carried her to the bathroom and the bathtub before I so much as kicked my shoes off.  When I got out of my wet clothes and into some dry ones, I grabbed a Coke from my refrigerator and relaxed in front of the television.  I made it through an episode of Leave It to Beaver before I asked myself, “What am I going to do with a dead woman?”

     I placed the empty Coke can by the pile of empties and headed for the bathroom.  Her stink repulsed me, so I thought I’d start with giving her a bath and cleaning her clothes.  I turned on the tap and made sure the water reached a perfect warm temperature before I pulled her out of the bag and carefully stretched her out in the tub.

     First, I removed the syringe from her flesh, along with the tie around her arm.  Both went into the sink.  Next I took off her ratty sneakers, revealing feet free of blemishes save for her jagged toenails.  I peeled off her tube top, uncovering a black lace bra beneath.  I took that off next, but I stayed polite about it.  I only saw her bare breasts from the corner of my eye, making sure not to stare.

     Finally, I removed her shorts, ever so careful not to be soiled by her excrement.  She wore no underwear, so I couldn’t help but see her Down There before I turned away.  She’d shaved herself bare, and there were no physical signs of disease.  Maybe I could have bought her after all.  I put her clothes in the garbage bag.

     I reached for a thin bar of Irish Spring.  This time, I couldn’t look away.  I had to watch what I was doing.  I touched certain parts only as long as I had to, being the gentleman I am.  By the time I finished, she looked almost alive again.

     “I’m going to clean your clothes,” I told her.  “Be back soon.”

     I decided I didn’t want to clean her clothes myself, only because I didn’t want to touch them.  Who would want to get their hands dirty in such a manner?

     I took the clothes to a twenty-four hour Laundromat.  There were only a couple of people there, and they were too wrapped up in their own worlds to pay attention to me.  An overweight, middle-aged woman engrossed by the paint on her nails sat in the corner.  A young man flipping through Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing perched on one of the machines.  I figured the book came from a school store, judging from the hot orange USED sticker on its spine.

     I spent my quarters and sat down to wait out the washer.  I picked up an old issue of Popular Mechanics and read through it with no interest whatsoever.  My mind kept wandering back to the dead woman in my bathtub.

     When I returned to my apartment, I called out, “Hi, honey!  I’m home!  I cleaned your clothes!”

     I stopped in the kitchen for a glass of water and then headed back to the bathroom.  Water glistened on the floor.  Had I forgotten to turn off the tap?  No, it wasn’t a flood.  The tiles merely glistened in the light from over the medicine cabinet.

     I stepped forward to examine the bathtub.  Only a calm surface of cloudy water returned my gaze.  Where did the girl go?  She was dead, so she couldn’t walk away.  Had someone stolen her?  Or did she even exist outside my imagination?  No.  Her clothes existed.  Therefore, she existed.

     “You washed my clothes?  You’re such a sweetie.”

     The voice came from behind me, and though it sounded jovial, it seemed like the words were spoken through a mouthful of sewage.  It raised the hackles on the back of my neck, and my arms were tight and dotted with goose bumps.

     It can’t be, I thought.  She’s dead.  I had no doubt about it.

     I turned slowly until I saw her.  Her eyes were flat and empty, and her feet were black with the pooling of her blood, but still she possessed a remarkable beauty.  To cover her nakedness, she wore a towel.

     “How?” I asked.  “You were . . . .”

     “Dead, I know.  I always thought it would be the rock that did me in, but I guess it was the smack.  The last thing I remember was shooting up.  I woke up dead in your bathtub.  Scared the shit out of me.  I know I’m dead.  I can’t breathe.  I don’t need anything.  My eyes don’t work very well, either.  Who are you?”

     I gave her my name:  “Caleb.”

     “Caleb.  Never knew a Caleb before.  I’m Annie.”

     “Nice to meet you, Annie.”  I held out my hand, and she took it.  Her grip felt chilly and stiff.

     I must have recoiled, or grimaced, or something, because she quickly added, “I’m sorry.  My joints are kind of freezing up on me.”

     She seemed to be taking death pretty easily.  Maybe all my life I was an idiot to fear the end of life, and seeing her so calm relieved my own nerves.

     I handed over her clothes.  “You can get dressed in my bedroom.  I’ll get you something to drink, okay?”

     “You don’t need to get me anything,” she said.  “I told you, my body doesn’t make me need, not anymore.”

     Shortly after I’d gotten myself a Coke and a bag of chips, we settled into my couch and started talking.  I told her about myself, she told me about her life on the streets, and before we knew it, we were talking like we’d known each other forever.

     At two in the morning, we finally hit a silent moment.

     “I should go,” she said.  “I’ve taken up so much of your time, and you’ve been so nice to me—-“

     “No, it’s all right,” I said.  “You can stay the night.”

     “I don’t want to impose.”

     I knew then that she probably worried about me raping her, or something, me being a stranger to her and all.  “No need to worry.  You can sleep in my bed, and I’ll take the couch.”

     “Are you sure?” she asked.  “I don’t want to be a problem.”

     I told her I had no problem with this, and she said she felt tired.  I offered her one of my shirts if she wanted to get more comfortable, but she declined.

     “You don’t have to sleep on the couch,” she said.

     “No, it’s all right.  You can have the bed.”

     “No, I mean, we could share the bed.  If you want.”

     Did I want?  Most definitely.  But I knew she just wanted to be polite.  She wanted to thank me the only way she knew how, so I considerately said no.

     Annie looked down, and though no tears came, she began crying.  “You think I’m ugly.  I understand.  I know how I look now that I’m dead.”

     “Oh no.  It’s not that,” I said.  “You’re actually very beautiful.  I’d be grateful to share a bed with you, but you don’t need to thank me that way.  If you don’t want to, that is.”

     “I’m very thankful for what you’ve done,” she said.  “It’s just that we’ve been talking so long.  I really like you, Caleb.  I know I’m not beautiful.  It’s okay to say so.”

     I touched her cheek.  The flesh felt slightly hard with the beginnings of rigor mortis.  I pulled her face closer to mine until our lips touched.  We were gentle at first, and then our pace picked up.  Soon, we passionately groped each other, kissing, pulling our clothes off.  We made our way to my bedroom and fell as one to the mattress.

     The next morning, I decided to stay home.  In fact, I never went to work again.  I never so much as left my apartment.  We stayed together, reveling in each other.  For about a day, she stiffened so much she couldn’t move, but when rigor mortis ended, we resumed our love-making.

     On the fourth day, I noticed the first blister on her body.  It poked its head out from her arm, near the needle mark that had killed her.  We thought nothing of it until more made their appearances.  We knew then that she was beginning to rot.

     She took to sleeping in the bathtub, filled with ice from the machine in my refrigerator.  Shortly after that, she started foaming at the nose and mouth as if she had rabies, except she spat out stuff as red as blood.  She sobbed a lot (though she couldn’t shed tears) because she didn’t want me to see her like that.  Even I have to admit it didn’t appeal to me, but I still loved her.  She was still my Annie.

     You’re disgusted, aren’t you?  Think about it this way.  What if someone close to you became terminally ill?  Something nasty, something that makes that person lose control over their bowels.  Or necessitates a regular siphoning of that person’s throat and lungs.  Things you have to clean up because you’re all that person has.  Whether it’s your mother, father, brother, sister, wife, whatever, do you stop loving that person just because things start to get ugly?

     One night, while we made love, I accidentally leaned on one of her legs.  I heard a sickening crunch, and she screamed.  When I looked down, I saw I’d crushed her leg.  The rotting flesh split open, and a fetid stench drifted up to me.  We stopped making love for a short while after that.

     The next day, she begged me to cut off her bad leg.  “I know you hate the smell,” she said.  “There’s nothing else we can do.”

     “Keep your leg,” I said.  “I don’t mind.”

     “I do mind.  It doesn’t hurt or anything, but it grosses me out.  Please, Caleb?  For me?”

     I’d never severed an extremity before, but given the spongy consistency of her flesh and the brittle nature of her bones, I guessed it wouldn’t take very long, even with only a steak knife.  Though she assured me she no longer felt pain, she still looked away as I pressed the blade into her soggy flesh.  It reminded me of a pumpkin two weeks after Halloween, mushy and sticky.  If I hadn’t given up eating, I would have vomited on her for sure.  As it was, I had stopped consuming food when I ate the last of the bread, and all I offered was a dry wretch.

     I put her amputated limb in a garbage bag and placed it by the back door in the kitchen.  At the time, I thought I’d throw it out later.  But I never got around to it, even after I began adding more parts of her to the pile.

     Okay, okay.  You’re right.  You got me.  I always will be a pack rat.

     For a bit of time, her smell would go away, but it always came back on another piece of her, which she promptly begged me to cut off.  All she had left was her head, her torso, part of one thigh, and a whole arm.

     At about that time, I heard the news.  I hadn’t gone as crazy as I’d thought.

     I heard a knock on my door, and without thinking about Annie (I was too used to having her around to realize others might have thought our relationship questionable), I went to answer it.  Mrs. Hardway, my neighbor, stood before me.  A kindly old widow, she lived directly above me, and from the looks of her, she had been dead for three days.

     “Mrs. Hardway,” I said.  “Good to see you, ma’am.  How are you?”

     “Getting along.  Well, look at you!  Still alive and everything!”

     “Yeah.”  I thought it strange she should mention that.  Being alive was supposed to be the norm.

     “You look very thin,” she said.  “Are you eating enough?  You should eat something.  Fatten you up a bit.”

     “I would, but who finds the time anymore?  Besides, I’m out of food.”

     “Oh, you poor thing.  You don’t have any ice, I suppose?  My maker is broken, and I’m starting to rot.”

     “No problem, Mrs. Hardway.”  I ran to the kitchen and gave her a bowl of ice.  “There you go.”

     “You’re such a dear.  Thank you.”

     “Have a good day, Mrs. Hardway.”

     So Mrs. Hardway was dead, too.  For the longest time, I thought I’d lost it, and somehow Annie was a part of my mind.  If it happened to Mrs. Hardway, maybe I still had all my marbles.  Maybe this thing was worldwide.

     I turned on the television, and sure enough, I guessed correctly.  The reporters, most of whom were still alive, kept talking about how the dead were returning to life, not as movie zombies bent on eating human flesh, but as ordinary people.  Christians everywhere called them abominations and demanded the president to outlaw them and have them killed on sight.  Others wanted to create shelters for the living dead.

     No one knew how it started, but I guess it was a chemical spill, or perhaps radiation, like in the movies.  Or maybe Hell finally ran out of room, like the Bible says.  I couldn’t think of any other way to explain it.  But I didn’t care.  I had my Annie.

     Very shortly after I learned the dead walked the earth, Annie began to swell.  Soon, her stomach grew to the size of a basketball.  We had to give up sex again because she didn’t want to burst.  From then on, we stuck to oral.

     Then her tongue began to thicken until she couldn’t fit it back in her mouth.  She asked me to amputate.  I was used to it, so I removed her tongue expertly and without a second thought.

     By the time she was dead two and a half weeks, her flesh became red with rot, yet our love still felt fresh to me.

     On the eighteenth day, as we kissed, I ran my fingers through her hair and without realizing it, I pulled a handful away from her head as if it were a clot of cobwebs.  She didn’t even notice it.  She rammed the stump of her tongue between my lips, and I heard a couple of hollow snaps.  Suddenly, my mouth was full of her teeth.  She gasped and pulled away, covering her face.  I spat her teeth out into my palm and dropped them into the garbage can by my bed.

     “Don’t look at me!” she wailed in her stunted voice.

     “It’s okay, honey,” I said.  “I don’t mind, really I don’t.  I love you no matter what you look like.”

     “Stop saying that!”  She lashed out at me.  Her hand hit my chest, and in my weakened state, I fell off the bed and into unconsciousness.

     When I woke up, I discovered Annie looking anxiously at me.  “Thank God,” she whispered.  “I thought I’d lost you.  I was afraid you wouldn’t come back.”

     “I’m okay.  It was only a little fall.”

     “It was more than that, Caleb.  I told you, you should have gone out to get some food.  If you had, maybe your fall wouldn’t have . . . have . . . .”

     “Have what?” I asked, though I suspected even then.  Distantly, I noticed I wasn’t breathing.

     “Have killed you,” she said finally.

     So I was dead.  Big deal.  Death didn’t mean much anymore.

     Within minutes, my eyes collapsed, and I could see my blood pooling.  If I hadn’t watched all these things happen to Annie, they would have scared the daylights out of me.  Besides, she helped me through everything.

     When her belly burst, she asked me to take off everything below her neck.  I could carry her much easier after that, and oral sex was even better.

     Then I started to rot.  It didn’t hurt.  I was surprised at how easily the blade went into my own flesh, how I no longer felt pain.

     Annie’s still with me, though her skull’s starting to show through her flesh.  She doesn’t have vocal cords anymore, so she can’t talk, but I can tell she still enjoys cuddling.  I know we haven’t got much time left, but we’re making the most of what we have.  We love each other.  What more do we need?

THE END

Anywhere I Lay My Head by Dave Mahan (davemahanart.blogspot.com)

                                                          Everybody Calls the Cows Pretty

                                                              Part 1:  Max Meets Chewtoy

            They knock on his door at 1:30 in the morning.  He awakens abruptly and glances at his wife, Wanda, deep asleep beside him.  He climbs out of bed, slips on his house robe and house shoes, and makes his way into the living room, peering through the eye-shaped eyehole in the front door.
            The Detective and his partner are standing outside, gazing blindly back at him.
            “Who is it?” asks Max.
            “It’s me,” answers the Detective.
            “I don’t know you.”
            “Sure you do.  Open the door.”
            Max puts his ear to the eyehole.  “Why?”
            No reply.

            He stands there waiting
            “Why?” he repeats, then hears the Detective give an irritated sigh.
            After a brief hesitation, Max unlocks the door and opens it.  The Detective and his partner continue standing there.
            “Who are you?” asks Max.
            “Fine, thanks,” answers the Detective.  “And you?”
            “I’ve heard that one before,” chuckles Max, stepping outside and closing the door behind him.  “What’s up?”
            “Well,” begins the Detective, “to begin with we’ve got a client, she’s all lined up and ready, she’s been waiting for you for well over an hour – but where are you?  You’re at home.  And what are you doing?”  He glances dismissively at Max’s disheveled nightclothes.  “You’re asleep.  Not good, Max.”
            “Not good,” says the other man.
            “This isn’t the way to start things.  It should have read, ‘Max sat down next to the buxom bon-bon yummy-delicious on the crumbling concrete bench.  It was midnight.’  But here it is 1:32 in the a.m., and where are you?”
            “Home,” says Max.
            “And what are you doing?”
            “Asleep,” says Max.
            “Not good,” says the Detective.
            “Not good,” says the other man, shaking his head.

            They take Max for a ride in a black four-door Sedan named Jimmy, which stalls every time they slow for a traffic light or a pedestrian. “Oughta clip every fucker I see,” the Detective tells his partner. “People shouldn’t be out at this time of night anyway.”
            “Fuckers,” agrees the other man.
            Max just ignores them and stares out the side window . . .

 

            When they get to the park parking lot they all pile out of Jimmy and gather in a close huddle, football-player style.
            “Okay,” the Detective tells Max, “you know the drill:  She’ll be waiting but not waiting; you’ll be nervous but not afraid.  ‘Each engages the other in idle chitchat until She invites Him up to Her place.’  Just go with the script and everything’ll be fine.  But if you try to improvise . . .”  He steps back, raises a tiny pink rubber hand in his hand, and slowly wags its pointing index finger from side to side.  “Don’t fuck it up.  Think you can handle that?”
            “Sure,” says Max.  “But what if she improvises?  What then?”
            “She won’t improvise,” assures the Detective, using the small rubber hand to pull back his trench coat and expose a pink, snubbed-nosed revolver tucked in the waistband of his pants.  “No ‘what then’.”
            Max nods, only half convinced.
            “Okay,” says the Detective, closing his coat and smiling for the first time.  “Go get ‘er, Sport.”
            Max scoffs incredulously.  He slides his hands deep inside the pockets of his red house robe.  (In his right pocket he can feel something soft and slick and moist, like a labia – in his left pocket, the tingling particles of a dissolving dream . . .)  He crosses the gravel-topped parking lot and steps onto a sidewalk that twists and turns like a broken broom handle in your cunt, and following this dark, crooked path he soon spies the victim (or client, rather) sitting on a crumbling concrete bench a few yards ahead, a single beam of dim lamplight illuminating her shapely shape from above, as she studies intently the contents of a large hardback book, which she cradles, rather curiously, like a beloved baby in her arms.

            Max smiles broadly, touched by this serene scene of literary maternity; then — swiftly, silently — he tiptoes over to a peach tree near the park bench and peeks around it, taking a closer, less-guarded look.
            The woman is small, plump, and pretty (petite or belittle is the word), and her see-through blouse and bra, both of incest silk, are already stained blue with the milk of her lactating breasts.  (Big yummy fuckers, too:  Every now and then, as she sits studying her precious tome – a nonfiction account of this very account (damned accountants) – she absently pinches one nipple and then the other, one nipple and then the other before taking a luxuriant taste of her own candysweetmilk from her own candysweet fingers and turning to the next page.)

                                                                                                                        (Next Page)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            Max runs, then walks, then runs again – as one always does when starting such a delicate ritual – until he is nearly upon the woman, at which point he stops and stands as rigid and still as he possibly can.
            Giving a little wave and a bashful smile, he chuckles a lame greeting:

            “Howdy.”
            “Howdy,” answers the woman, never once looking up, or even changing her posture; instead, smirking to herself — for this is, if nothing else, a self-conscious performance on all the players’ parts — she slowly turns to the next page of her book (which is entitled, Max can now see, The Right Thing to Say) and continues to read.

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                            (Next Page)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            Disappointed by her lack of responsiveness, Max frowned.  He fidgeted with the swelling labia in his right pocket (the particles in his left pocket were now just a handful of sticky backseat sweat) and turned to stare in the direction he’d come from, as if he might have made a wrong turn some ways back.  “Um . . .” he said to the cool dark air behind him.
            He faced the woman again and hopped forward, keeping both feet tightly together as he did so, so that when he landed toe to toe with her –
two feet away, you could say – she was not physically (nor even mentally, mind you) disturbed.
            “Um . . . Howdy,” repeated Max, waving again.
            “Fuck off,” said the woman, without looking up.  “I’m trying to read and you’re late.  I’m not late.  I’m on time.  I’m pumping milk like a goddamned milk factory and you can’t even show up and take a taste?”  Here she raised her head, and it was immediately apparent to Max that she had been acting out a scene from the book (
maybe even the scene it was presently opened to) from the moment he’d first seen her.
            Now, as her hazel eyes scanned him up and down and she took in his thin, pale appearance, her attitude was suddenly pleasant, welcoming, and she greeted Max warmly.  “Hey there, Mr. Buddyballs,” she lisped.

            “My name is Max,” said Max.
            “Hey, Max,” said the woman.  “How you doing?  You doing all right?”
            “Oh, you know,” said Max, pumping a balled-up fist in a sweaty awkward attempt at sweaty awkward conversation.  “Okess, I gay.  I’ve got dexual sysfunction like you woulbn’t delieve.”
            “You might want to try newspaper for that,” suggested the woman, then patted the bench space beside her.  “Sit yourself down here, Dysfunctional Boy.”
            As Max took a seat at her side and stared shyly at his house shoes, the woman slid a bookmark into her beloved hardback book (
which moaned inaudibly) and closed it, simultaneously telling Max, “You know, I think I’ve seen you around here before.”
            “I know,” said Max.  “Just now.”
            “Just now!” the woman laughed.  “That’s right – ‘How quickly I forget.’”
            “‘Yes,’” agreed Max, quoting as well, “‘how quickly you forget indeed!’. . .” He looked up from his shoes.  “What’s
your name?
            “Chewtoy.”
            “Chewtoy?”
            She nodded.  “Chewtoy on the Razor.  It’s English.”
            “Must be why I can’t understand it,” smiled Max.
            And then they sat there, the two of them, alone together in the pool of lost lamplight – surrounded by dark darkness and thinking foreign thoughts of foreign people asking forlorn questions about ghosts of wistful wispy whispers swimming dimming burning with wordless praise for all things holy, for all things unholy before Chewtoy finally looks up from her laptears streaming mostlikely down her Idon’tknowwhatcheekstohercunt – and leaned forward with eyes flaming kisses and kissing flaming eyes of Maxmouth hard on the softlips, said, “Gimme some-a that hubbalubbin’, nigga’ . . .”
            “The hell you say,” said Max.

            And then, as if cued, the overhead lamplight burned out, and all fell into dark darkness and wistful wispy whispers . . .   

                                                                * * *
They lie together on a moldy mattress on the floor of Chewtoy’s downscale

Middlestreet apartment, nearly spent from a half hour of gentle rough-sex.
“So you’re a ghost, huh?” inquires Max, nodding toward the small red tattoo on

the side of Chewtoy’s softly curving belly.
“Yes,” answers Chewtoy, lightly stroking the tattoo, “but that’s neither here nor

there.”
“The hell it isn’t.”
“No, really.  My ethnicity should be of no concern to you.  ‘All that should matter

to the one living in my past is whether I loved him or her to the fullest.’”
“The hell it should.”
“You say ‘hell’ a lot,” observes Chewtoy.
“I see hell a lot,” explains Max.  “It’s not my fault.”
“True, I guess . . .  Hey, you hungry?”
Chewtoy pulls down her bra again – she removed it before the act, and replaced it

after (“Kinda chilly in here, Willy”) – and offers up a blue-leaking titty.  “It’ll get you

high,” she tempts, jiggling the rising rose-red nipple, “and it might even relieve some of

the pressure . . .”
“Sure,” grins Max gamely (for he didn’t have a chance to taste the milk

of her lactating kindness while they were fucking, bent over before him – and behind

him – as she was), and comes up on one elbow.
Then he ponders it (the tit).
“Hmm,” he says three times, very slowly, nodding his head with each “hmm” as

if formulating an opinion or some kind of theory; then he blows lightly upon it (the tit), as

if it is some kind of hot, or possibly cold, soup.  (Little does he know that, in a manner

of thinking, it is both.)  And then, inhaling and exhaling deeply, he leans forward and

licks the nipple.
And licks it again.
And licks it again.
And licks it again . . . 

            After enduring two or three minutes of this, Chewtoy, amusingly annoyed,

finally shoves the whole damn thing deep in his mouth and nearly chokes him with it.
“Poor baby,” she says at length, as he starts to suck and nibble and chew on the 

nipple like a starving baby with a bottle.  “You’re mother must not love you . . .”

           

            The walls dissolved and Chewtoy was a kitchen table.  One leg was shorter than

the other three.  A bowl of cereal sat upon her, and Max, perched precariously on a

rickety, ridiculously oversized highchair made of mahogany, gazed down at the bobbing

breakfast before him for several moments, then slowly looked around at the enormous

attic apartment, also made of mahogany, that now surrounded him.  

            All he saw, as he scanned the from left to right, were right angles and empty

bleach-scrubbed spaces, a few fresh-baked loaves of bread that were stacked in teetering

towers here and there (and which dripped, each and every one, with a mysterious gold-

glowing honey), and a single small window, high across the room, that admitted a

narrow shaft of sunlight from outside . . .

            Facing the bowl again, Max lifted a giant rusty spoon that was part of the table

but not part of the table and scooped a few pieces of cereal – each of which, he now

happily noticed, were shaped like teeny tiny Chewtoys – from the milk.

            He blew on the Chewtoys lightly, either cooling or warming them, he couldn’t tell which, and they rapidly grew and inflated and deformed with his hot breath and became a big heaping spoonful of tit and cunt and cuntass (with several eyes blinking out here and there) all jumbled together in his spoonyhand he ate and chewed and tasted merrily, moaning and giggling like a madman munchkin as he did so . . .
            When he finally swallowed them down, in one big gulp that made his esophagus spasm, Max felt his throat warm, then his chest and stomach, and now he could sense the Chewtoys expanding and separating everywhere inside him, their once-body-parts swimming through parts of his body like fish through a network of flesh-glass tubes, until soon they were filling his bowels, their milk was surging in his cock, and gasping and nearly choking to death, he felt someone jerk him off while fucking his ass, all from the inside out . . .

            Max fell off his high-chair, knocking the table with the bowl of cereal over; as he crashed to the floor and the table tumbled and the cereal bowl shattered and splattered milk and mini Chewtoys (whose identical faces were now all frozen in a comical look of surprise), he came like thunder and lightning and swamp gas, squirting semen and shit and UFO-snot from all five holes and more – and as he lay there, dazed and happy and confused on the floor, and the UFO-snot dispersed and dissolved into a glowing purple fog that wafted against the semen-stained ceiling above (were those his stains or someone else’s – an enemy’s, perhaps?), he heard a breeze blow in through the now dark empty window across the attic apartment, and the breeze made its way to his leaking earholes and whispered to him tenderly (all the while, somehow, licking salty beads of  sweat from his trembling upper lip), “Was that a good one?  Did you come hard?”

 

* * *

            At which point he opens his eyes (have they been closed?) and finds himself back in Chewtoy’s grungy Middlestreet apartment.  He is still on the bare mattress on the floor, the beautiful blonde above him with an index finger in his ass, a fist around his cock, and body fluids (his, he assumes) all over her large and lovely leaking chest.
            “Yes . . . yes it was,” he finally pants.  “Yes I did . . .”
            “Good,” she smiles warmly – and pulling her finger out, releasing his cock, she leans forward and kisses him gently on the lips. 

            When she sits back, grinning a knowing, lopsided grin, Max blushes bashfully and looks away — then appears suddenly alarmed.  “Where’s The Right Thing to Say?” he asks, starting to sit up (for he realizes that he hasn‘t seen the enigmatic volume since he and Chewtoy were in the park together).

            “You mean what’s The Right Thing to Say?” corrects Chewtoy, gently pushing him back; then she adds, with a sly smile,  “‘Sometimes The Right Thing to Say is nothing at all.’  Now go back to sleep,” she instructs softly, “and we’ll talk later.”  (With a conspiratorial whisper) “I think they’re listening . . .

            She puts a finger – the finger – to her lips, then points to her ears; sure enough, both her earlobes have curved forward like two little radar dishes, their ruby-red earrings now steadily blinking transmitter lights, their delicate and seemingly untouched canals now repositories for the darkest and dirtiest of secrets — his, he presumes — which will, he knows, be used to destroy him at some future but as yet unspecified date.
            Night-night he thinks, in synchronicity with Chewtoy’s silently moving lips, then falls, as if drugged, into a deep and restful sleep . . .

(Next installment –“Everybody Calls the Cows Pretty Part 2:  The Conspiracy Deadpans”)

Greetings, my lovely headless chickens. Please forgive me for the lack of content over the past couple of months. From now on there will be regular book reviews, interviews and even some fiction. To all the authors who have submitted books to be reviewed– I’M GETTING TO IT! Rest assured.

Anyways, House of Bizarro has now begun publishing electronic books, the first of which is “A Russian Prostitute’s Guide to Pakistan and Other Tales of Grit and Valor,” by Stephen W. Sommerville-Matheson. Whip out your Kindle or device with a Kindle app on it and download that sucker for only 99 cents! Out of the 13 stories, I’m sure most of you will enjoy at least 6 or 7 of ’em. http://www.amazon.com/Russian-Prostitutes-Guide-Pakistan-ebook/dp/B005063DH6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1305174737&sr=8-1

Also, I am accepting original high quality bizarro/weird fiction submissions for an anthology. Short stories of pretty much any length will be considered. Compensation is negotiable.  Send your work saved as .doc to houseofbizarro@gmail.com. Turn around time is 2-4 weeks.

Drenched in Hasty Goat Bile,

Esteban Silvani

“The end of human machinery is the beginning of timeless lint blizzards.” –taken from The Kerosene Lantern Tour.

 

They Had Goat Heads is the latest short story collection from absurdist extraordinaire D. Harlan Wilson, and what a doozy of a collection it is—astronauts with goat heads playing basketball in a boxing ring to bagpipe music, a marionette mother with lips stapled in to her cheeks and teeth of golf balls, a meter maid who checks pulses with lightning rods in room 3,401d. Oh, and that’s just in one of the 39 stories!

After a six word intro, the book starts with The Movie that wasn’t there—a beautifully constructed piece about a man who goes to see a movie in which he mysteriously stars. The mundane swirls with a hyperkinetic kung-fu gorefest as the protagonist watches his funeral and listens to the critics’ reviews. Next we have the excellent title story followed by tales of men turning into monster trucks (Monster Trucks), doctors in grizzly suits and paper măchė elephant trunks (Quality of Life), a headache-inducing romp in the vein of Shel Silverstein about seven different men all trying to arrest each other (The Arrest), and a child who tries to crawl back into its mother’s womb (The Womb).

Two of my favorite stories include the ode to disorder, The Huis Clos Hotel, and the nightmare-ish Po Box 455. Also the one about a Bruce Lee theme park and a clothesline free for all, Somewhere in Time, is a good as they get. Another treat worth mentioning is The Sister featuring illustrations by Skye Thorstenson. Tis an illustrated short story about Nosferatu driving a monster truck and kidnapping kids (tying them onto the grills)—a true classic.

Of the thirty-nine stories, I enjoyed all except for a few (even the ones I didn’t care for were still good, just forgettable), most of the stories are very short and would be categorized as flash fiction—this is a perfect book to either read in one or two sittings, or place on the nightstand and simply read one or two stories a day over a month (trust me—they induce some GNARLY nightmares). D. Harlan Wilson is a true original. Five to ten years from now, you’ll be hearing his name with reference to having pioneered a new brand of absurdist speculative fiction.

Here’s a link to buy a copy: http://www.amazon.com/They-Goat-Heads-Harlan-Wilson/dp/0982628129/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1300047841&sr=1-1

Book Review: Muscle Memory by Steve Lowe

Posted: February 13, 2011 in Fiction

Muscle Memory

By Steve Lowe

Published by Eraserhead Press

Reviewed by Esteban Silvani

 

 

            And so the Eraserhead Press “New Author Series” rages on with Steve Lowe’s Muscle Memory—a novella that takes the whole body switching theme that was made popular by Hollywood in the 80’s with Vice Versa, Big, 18 Again, Like Father…, etc. and gives it a good butt-fuck.

            From the opening line of “I shoulda known something was up when the dog meowed at me,” Lowe wastes no time in pulling the reader into this topsy-turvy world in which people (and sheep) have swapped bodies with the one they last had sexual intercourse with.

            The story is told by Billy, an average American slob, who wakes up in his wife’s body while his real body lay limp being that his wife had tried to kill him the night of the switch-a-roo, but inadvertently killed herself. His neighbors, Tucker and Julia who also swapped bodies, are the other main characters as they head into town investigating this phenomenon.

            Lowe’s writing is simple, straight-forward and he delivers one-liners that come faster than James Coco on a Miss Piggy centerfold (sorry, that’s the best I could do) which keeps things entertaining. This is a book that can easily be devoured in one or two sittings as the pacing is quick, the content funny and weird, and the overall product is quality.

Here is a link where you can purchase Muscle Memory:http://steve-lowe.com/2011/01/21/buy-a-book-help-a-kid/

Next Review: D. Harlan Wilson’s They Had Goat Heads

Interview: Nicole Cushing

Posted: January 1, 2011 in interviews

Nicole Cushing’s new one-of-a-kind book is worth pickin’ up. She is the first bizarro writer that I know of to incorporate the Monty Python style of story telling via the written word, and she makes it work.  I’m sure you’ve read the reviews, but here’s a chance to know the creator better…

Tell us about your first published novel, How to Eat Fried Furries.

How To Eat Fried Furries is a dark satire set in a world where farmers raise furries (you know, people in animal costumes) as livestock.  The book is heavily inspired by the old Monty Python’s Flying Circus TV show.  My husband bought the Python boxed set as I was writing the book, and we’d watch it every evening.  I admired their style of humor and decided to model the structure of my book after the structure of their TV show (short pieces offering recurring themes, often connected by absurd segues).

So, I’d say that it’s not a novel.  It’s sort of a cross between a novella and a short story collection.

Fried Furries is one of only a handful of Bizarro books to land a review in Publishers Weekly, and there have been many, many subsequent reviews of the book that have been, on balance, pretty positive.  There’s a little bit of something for almost-everyone in the book.  I say “almost”-everyone because even readers who love the book use words like “foul” and “disgusting” to describe it.  So I’m pretty sure Sarah Palin would hate it.

What was it like working with Kevin Donihe and the whole writing process?

Kevin is the best-kept secret in speculative fiction.  He’s as detail-oriented an editor as they come, and I found that incredibly reassuring.  I think that sometimes, because Bizarro can have a transgressive/punk feel to it, there’s a mistaken assumption that it’s all just thrown together.  In the case of my writing, nothing could be further from the truth.  I’m obsessive.  I really feel the need to get things right.  More than right.  Perfect (or as close to it as I can get).  That’s why I felt so lucky to have had Kevin as an editor. 

He’s meticulous and gifted at determining what needs cut and what needs further developed.  I’m sure it’s that sort of talent that lead several of the stories he edited for the old Bare Bone zine to end up getting honorable mentions in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror. 

How about your tales in the new Skipp-edited anthology, Werewolves & Shapeshifters: Encounters with the Beast Within,  and the Cemetary Dance anthology, In Laymon’s Terms?

My story in Werewolves is entitled “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Piggy Class”.  It’s a dark, sad, weird little story that has gotten a fair bit of attention.  “…Piggy Class” was my first mass market sale, and it’s satisfying (and validating) to see my name in the same table of contents as Neil Gaiman and H.P. Lovecraft.  I look forward to building a career with some measure of mass market success, along with my work for the small press.

As for In Laymon’s Terms.  Well, that’s a long story.  The tale for that anthology (“Scabby Nipples & Sharp Teeth”) was written and accepted back in 2002.  Cemetery Dance is still working to get the book to the printer, and I hope that ends up coming together.  Obviously, a lot of time has passed, and I think of “Scabby Nipples…” as a sort of time capsule of where my writing was back then.  It’s not a reflection of where I am now, but I still think it’s a fun, jagged little story, and I’d love to see it in print (especially with such a well-respected publisher).

 

Legend has it that you wear cow suits– are you a zealous Hindu or are you trying to capture the attention of some television producers for Chic-fil-A or Milk? Or do you have a booming voice that can easily persuade your audiance into thinking you are a Cow Goddess? Or are you jealous of the cows in the pastures who get tipped over or screwed from behind and you want in on the action?

Okay, since you asked, I will tell you The Secret of Why Nicole Wore A Cow Suit.  But I think by the end of this answer you’ll wish you hadn’t asked.

Cows are funny animals.  They sit around, complacent all their lives…just consuming things (grass, hay, feed corn) until they are consumed, themselves (as part of a children’s “Happy Meal”, for example).  My point with the cow costume was that people are the same way.  We sit around, complacent all of our lives…just consuming things (clothes, cars, cows) until we are consumed (by worms in the grave).

My point in wearing the cow costume was to illustrate (through performance art) that there is precious little difference between a person and livestock.  When you go to work, you are being farmed.  Oh, the typical American workplace might be a little bit more “free range” than it was one hundred years ago, but it’s still a “range”.

I’m going to stop answering this question now.  Because it’s starting to depress me.  And if stuff depresses me then you know it has to be pretty damned dark.

Forgive me if my forwardness and skeptical view towards everything and everyone offends you, but the tough questions must be asked: How’d you manage to get the Ministry of Flesh to submit a recipe to be included in your book? Are there things– monumentous things that you are keeping from the readers?

Well, I thought I was landing an exclusive “scoop” by publishing the Ministry’s furry recipes in my book, but thanks to Julian Assange, all their recipes are now up on WikiLeaks.  That pasty rascal stole my thunder!

 

Tell us about your seemingly fond memories surrounding the Ferret Force Five  show to which you wrote a touching media tie-in for the ages.

Ferret Force Five  is my homage to ’70s television shows like The Love Boat, CHiPS and Fantasy Island.  I watched a lot of television back then.  In retrospect, most of the shows were pretty bad.  But to a kid growing up in the sticks, the programs offered escapism, adventure, and a respite from dysfunctional family interaction.

Do you claim to be instrumental in persuading furry farmers to switch from using cheap beer and peanuts to intoxicate the furries to ellude their escape to the more modern and ever-increasingly popular method of getting their furries hooked on broadband internet?

Well, as you know from the book, livestock expert Temple Grandin played a key role in that transformation.  I just documented it.    

When did this whole bizarro fiction thing first catch your eye and what is your literary background like?

I first discovered Bizarro back in early 2009, probably by stumbling across the Bizarro Central website or discovering Bizarro markets on Duotrope.com.  I started reading Bizarro fiction, and loved it (especially the work of Cameron Pierce, Kevin Donihe, and Carlton Mellick III). 

My literary background, before that, was primarily horror and dark fantasy.  Like most other dark genre authors my age, I grew up reading (and idolizing) Stephen King.  But as I grew older I became more and more interested in weirder and weirder fiction.  In 2008 or 2009 I began reading Lovecraft and Ligotti, and (for now) they’re who I idolize.

 Bizarro has been good for me, because it’s really opened my eyes to trying all sorts of cross-genre styles.  I now feel at home writing science fiction, fantasy, horror, or Bizarro. 

I can’t help but suspect that The Whacking of Father Christmas was really just an angry writer with very serious issues plotting out an actual attempt on Santa Clause’s life. Does this go back to your Hinduism? Your response, please.

I’m too much of a goody-two-shoes to kill anybody (even someone as morally grotesque as Santa Claus).  I think the more logical explanation is that I harbor latent animosity toward the holiday season, which comes out sideways in stories portraying the mafia putting out a hit on the jolly old elf.

 Do they still have Gold Star Chili and Sky Line Chili restaurants in KY?

There is a Sky Line Chili within easy walking distance of the alley mentioned in “Wilhelm Savage Is Flayed & Living In Louisville, KY”.  I’m not sure if the Flayed Folk hang out there, though.

Welcum to the New House of Bizarro Site!

Posted: December 31, 2010 in Fiction

HELLo my adorable Kitties,

I hope you’ve missed me as much as I’ve missed tearing into your little minds with rancid droppings from Hathor’s gnarly (and deliciously bloody) ass.

As you may have noticed, the House of Bizarro section that was found on the Dark Recesses website has been down for over a month. This was due to the site expiring and nobody getting the notice. Then “GoDaddy” wanted to charge a couple hundred bucks to retrieve the old material. We told them to go shove their heads up their granny’s Haunted Vagina  and dish out some ghost chili-infused Satan Burgers to munch on while up there. So, instead you’re stuck with this new format until your Uncle Silvani convinces some gullable slave to do thy web bidding.

Check out the interview with the ultra-talented writer, Nicole Cushing. Her new book, How to Eat Fried Furries, is a hoot. Also, you’ll find some book reviews. I will try like hell to get all or most of the old stuff back up little by little including the Dave Mahan artwork.

As far as submissions go, feel free to send any stories, rants, reviews, art to houseofbizarro@gmail.com for consideration.

Stay evil, bloated with repulsive fingernails and fragrance.

Your God,

Esteban Silvani