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Today's Story by Stuart Hopen

I am trying to evolve. Maturity delivered me to religion, which I mean as neither joke nor metaphor.

Serialization Sunday: The Flick – Chapter 4

Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel.  Our first novel, the taut thriller City of Human Remainscan be found in full here

Our second novel, Hoodoo, tells a story of visionaries, heretics and lunatics in Utah, centered on a 12-year-old girl who believes that God wants her to have an affair with her guidance counselor, can be found in full here.

Our current novel, The Flick, is the correspondence between a legendary porn star of the 90′s and the girl who got away – and kept going.  Read previous chapters here.

Letter IV

July 21, 1990

Dear Die,

I have changed.  I have enclosed a number of recent photographs.  The nude photo is not sent to shock you.  I thought it was tastefully done.  Nor is the nude photo sent to fill you with regrets.  Rather, I have included the nude to illustrate how drastically I have changed.  Gone is the foolish girl who chain smoked Balkan Sobranies while drinking the nights away.  Gone is the girl who wore silver nail polish and blue lipstick to clash against red hair.  Gone.

I care for my health these days, exercising regularly, and always to the point of pain.

I am trying to evolve.  Maturity delivered me to religion, which I mean as neither joke nor metaphor.  God has given me a new source of strength.

I feel God’s gaze, a force of infinite curiosity, not so much watching me as looking through me, as if I had been plucked up and held to the light, a bit of stained glass that warps and colors perception in a unique way.  Superlatives will not suffice to describe the intoxicating experience of that gaze, that incandescent draft.

Always compliment the bar tender when he’s pouring the shots.

Law agrees with me, for it is vast and consuming and sterilizing.  Perhaps my transformation is simply another version of my last suicide attempt.

You are trying to seduce me again.  This business about the screenplay–is it true?  It is simply too fantastic and smacks of being one of your many deceits.

I distrust your motives.  Your question at the end–am I “seeing” anyone?  You did mean “fucking” didn’t you?  It is uncharacteristic of you to use euphemisms.  I am not “seeing” anyone.  I enjoy being alone.  My fellow students wonder about me, and suspect me of being gay.  The intrusive eyes of men evaluate me where ever I go; when I run alone at twilight, when I read my bible or lawbook under the cracked shadows of a denuded tree.  I am not certain if they stare because I’m pretty or an oddity.  Symptoms of my old eccentricity linger.  Something vaguely “artistic” permeates everything I do.

One of my professors says that he’s never met someone so very strange trying to masquerade as someone normal.

Conservative clothes wreak a weird effect on my appearance.  I make no effort to conceal the scorched, purple scars on my left wrist.  A faraway, lost, but cold look frosts my eyes.  Mixing my own perfumes (discordant, arrogant scents) I give a thousand subtle signals that I am not to be touched.  Admired, perhaps, but not to be touched.  Despite my beauty, I am not to be touched.  I am like the brightly colored creatures of the wild who boldly contrast against the foliage, without attracting predators.  Animals know, from instinct or experience, that brightly colored flesh tastes bitter.

I have had enough contact with the opposite sex to sustain me for some time.  But that is not the only reason I regard men warily, the way a reformed alcoholic regards a bottle.  Loveless fucking is too bleak an entertainment, while romance is too time consuming and uncertain.  Both are fraught with hazard.  In any event, law school commands all of my time.

Sexual anorexia has become epidemic, I hear.  Perhaps it has something to do with AIDS.  After growing up as a cold war child, under the shadow of the mushroom cloud, I am surprised to find the human race again threatened with extinction, this time by people who make love and not war.

What does it matter if I am seeing anyone?  Why do you ask?

I distrust your motives for writing to me.  But I am tempted by your offer.  Part of me still prefers the artifice of art to the lies of law.

Though I feel like a fawn whose gaze has met the python’s, I am asking you to tell me more about this movie deal of yours.

God help you if you are confabulating.



Stuart Hopen’s writing has been published by various comic book companies, including D.C., Marvel, Eclipse, Amazing, and Fantagraphics. His science fiction novel, Warp Angel, originally published by Tor Books, will soon be reissued by the Misenchanted Press in a newly revised edition.  Cannibals, a series of six interrelated novellas, will be available online in 2014.   


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