Tuesday, September 19, 2006


The Drugstore Comic Book Incident (interlude)

Staring down the barrel of a loaded gun sure focuses your mind.

And broadens your sphincters.

It’s a cliché, but your life really does flash before your eyes. It happened the last time I was on the point of death, jammed in the closet with the mayor coming up the stairs and his wife scrambling to get dressed, and it happened now.

It played before my gaze like a speeded-up newsreel, stopping at significant milestones: my seventh birthday party, known forever after as the Bay Hill Cookie Massacre, when I’d sat cradling my granddaddy’s head and wishing him to be alive even though his body was thirty yards away; my seventeenth summer working on the farm, where I’d made some very special friends; the day I got my shield. But it kept snagging at one particular spot: my final session with my therapist.

It was two years ago now, and I had gone along on a Tuesday morning like any other. I hadn’t intended it to be my last session but the things that came up in it were so painful that I couldn’t go back afterwards. My analyst, SheBah, had legs that went all the way up to heaven and back down again. Twice. What I mean is, once per leg. Oh hell, you figure it out. Anyhow, at first I thought this was going to be a distraction but in fact she used it to therapeutic advantage, as you got so hypnotised by those pins you ended up speaking in an uninhibited way.

I’d begun therapy after my wife split because I felt I needed to resolve my issues about women. I’d always had a view of dames as being like cappuccino coffee: light and frothy on the top, dark and bitter underneath. I also needed help with the lousy puns that had started to infest my speech and writing like nits.

SheBah seemed to be of the opinion that I had a lot of unresolved anger and bitterness, and she felt there were areas of my life I wasn’t willing to discuss. That day she proposed to hypnotise me. I didn’t believe in all that stuff but I agreed anyway, and soon I felt myself detached and dreamy in the semi-darkness of her rooms, staring at the calf swinging on the end of her chair with its tiny gold ankle bracelet winking in the light.

I found myself talking, guided by her soothing murmur, about getting fired from the force ten years earlier. At the time I’d been giving a series of highly-regarded seminars on planting evidence when this young upstart uniformed officer, Hutton, started making complaints, first to me and then to the Commissioner, about the ‘morality’ of my methods. G-d-damned bleeding heart pinko bedwetter. One day he opened his locker in front of a roomful of fellow cops and out tumbled leather bondage gear, whips, chains, women’s pantyhose and a few other unmentionables. Somehow he managed to prove that I’d put it there, and I got canned.

I’d drifted after that, and as so often happens, I’d been taken in by the allure of comic books. I won’t go into details, but within three months I was working in an abandoned warehouse down by the docks for two of the sleaziest barons in the illegal comics world, Kim Ayres and his foul cousin El Barbudo. I’d been recruited by their enforcer, Dr Maroon, who was if anything even sleazier and more brutal than they were, by promises of easy riches. More fool me.

There were a few of us, losers and drop-outs to a man – and, I’m sorry to say, to a woman. We’d stand for hours in the freezing cold of the warehouse, the barges rumbling past outside like great whales, while one of the illustrators drew us in various bizarre poses. Sometimes we had to mime beating each other up, sometimes attacking each other with chainsaws or axes; real sick stuff, it was. The pictures didn’t even look like us. After a 14-hour day of this, we’d be herded into our windowless ten foot cube of a room underground and fed a grim meal before lights out.

For a year I did this. I was helpless, addicted, though I couldn’t tell you how exactly. Week after week Blunt Cogs was churned out onto the streets of the city to corrupt young and old alike, the scenarios we were forced to pose for becoming ever more twisted and perverse.

I escaped one day, not without a struggle, and not without the help of one man. Binty McShae was the comic’s best illustrator. I’d watch him as he drew us, and I could tell his heart wasn’t in it. I won’t go into details now about how I persuaded Binty to change sides and how he and I bust out, but I’d never repaid him for it and that’s why I had to say yes when his wife had asked me for help.

And now it was too late. There wasn’t even time for a last cigarette.

There's always time for a last cigarette! And lube. Always time for lube, as a wise man once said.

Yay, Footie! Keep it coming! Er, so to speak.
Women come in all shapes and beverages Foots. Some are like real ale, a strong head atop a honeyed potent underneath: some are full-bodied and red with a smooth finish and a lingering after-taste; others are as wholesome and semi-skimmed as a pint of milk; some are nippy and heady and only to be enjoyed in small glasses or beakers if you're a student; some are dark and full of antioxidants; many are light and refreshing like purest water but a few are bland, forgettable beverages; some are warm and cosy a bit like Bovril from a favoured old mug. Of course with some half-pints you don't get very good head at all despite all the fizzing. For some of those the drink doesn't really come all the way to the top. Some women will drive men to drink...other beverages. And some you will wake up and still want with your toast every morning.
Once per leg.

If I had to choose a drink for a woman it would be a martini.
You can only get them in Manhattan.
They are cold and sharp and slip down the hatch and then you feel that heat spread through you, right down into your vitals...

The best place is a Greek restaurant of all places, on 4th Avenue around 34th street.
Ah, cigarettes and wild, wild women.....gets a man in trouble every time.
In a job such as this I would guess that last cigarettes are so common you'd be on 20 a day anyway.
I cried when I read about the Grandfather dying, so senseless, you know there are spells and certain rituals to bring him back right? happened to me twice and I'm ok, the superhuman strength and hearing the thoughts of others takes a bit of getting used to though.
so you leave it at a fucking cliffhanger??

you bastard.

(i've been enjoying this tale)
BC as underground drug cult, cleansing the palate of the heroine users in their opium dens?
Bah! I love it.
that photo looks like a colonoscopy.. on a robot.. HEY DID YOU SNEAK SafeT's med records?!? do robots go to the doctor!?

and i love how you dubbed McShae the best BC artist ever.

after all i've done for you.

i believe the word here is ingrate.

another one would be revenge.

good thing i'm neither uptight or vengeful or you'd be in trouble.


great work, i can't wait for the rest!!
You know, I was having a few or ten drinks this evening, like you do, and re-reading your story, like you do, because you're my best fucking mate and all, and I came across this line:

"And broadens your sphincters."

Which (I had not noticed the first time) is plural. And I just happened to wonder, like you do, um, how many do you have?

And then I wondered, "Do I really want to know that? I will probably regret asking that, come morning, and I really should be Googling bird food for sale..." And then I thought, "You know, maybe everyone wanted to know that, and they were just too afraid to ask. So, in the interest of, um, science (yeah, that's it, and not morbid, sick curiosity), here I am, just wondering and all.
The best artist? You've written some ridiculous things that require a hefty suspension of disbelief in the past, dear boy, but that one really takes the biscuit!

And look! You got poor Sarah all riled!
May I refer you to:


and I think you'll see that perhaps Foot eater has a point...
Too many loving comments for me to reply to you all, sweeties, so I'll just bask luvvie-like in your kind words and address a few points.

Sarah, Binty: you're assuming too much realism in this tale. Binty as the best artist is fiction, as is the idea that I'm a private eye. Not that Binty isn't the best artist. He is, together with the rest of you who create scripts.

I seem to have provoked a fight, which I'm all for.

Fat Sparrow: I'm sorry to hear you've got only one sphincter. Stopping your urine dribbling from your bladder down your urethra must be a real bummer.

Knudsen: the old bastard deserved to die. I sincerely hope nobody ever says that of you.

Next episode: more violence, drugs and even sex.
Mr Eater, you are such a Big Spunk.
Oh, that's why I have that "not so fresh" feeling! I was wondering....

On the plus side, the dribbling of urine does keep my ass cleaner. Well, at least less chunky. But still smelly. Maybe it's time to look into adult diapers.
Filthy sex. Bah! I love it!
would you just get on with it.

i'm having a hard time feigning anger here.
How very dare you for making me laugh out loud, well done Gout Ester. And I'm leaving that the very way I typed it.
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