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Today's Story by Stuart Hopen

"I much prefer the work of his arch rival, Iream Insider, the Goerte of sex."

Serialization Sunday: The Flick – Chapter VIII

Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel.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 VIII

August 14, 1990

Dear Die:

Something is up with you.  Are you playing some trick?  Are you after my secrets?

On the infamous last evening of our love affair, something very important happened.  You know some of the circumstances, but not all of them.  Wouldn’t you like to know why I slit my wrist that evening?

You would lead me into a dark and unknown territory, a zone that required a secret reconnaissance.  Rather than adopting a disguise, I shed one, truth being the lie least prone to penetration.  I let down my long hair and ventured out as my former self, with red eyes of mystery and blue, blue lips.

I sojourned to the local smut emporium.  Neon cursive advertised mini-movies for 25 cents.  Lewd posters harried the store windows.   One poster promoted Double Dipping, the adventures of a woman and two men.  Another poster showcased the talents of an actress named Sonya Getz-Yeroxoff, in a feature called The Male is in the Czech.  When viewed from the interior of the store, the posters glowed in mirror image, like the stained glass windows of a pagan temple.

No one seemed to be in charge of the premises.  A number of middle aged male patrons wandered listlessly through the aisles.  I was greeted by your business associate, Dewey Love, or rather a facsimile.  I can not say how closely the facsimile approximates the original, since only certain molded parts appeared humanoid.  Otherwise, this object, offered as a love doll, looked better suited for floatation than intimacy.

I perused the racks and confronted breasts of surreal proportion, eyes half shut in mock ecstasy, open mouths full of graphic promises and graphic fulfillment, and painfully punned titles.

Your name was nowhere to be found.

Suddenly, it occurred to me that you might be working under a pseudonym.  I found you then, at once.  Die Smiling.


That is you, isn’t it?

I noticed a pattern in your titles: The Sound and the Furry, Whore and Piece, For Whom the Balls Toil.   You seem especially fond of Dickens: Old Whoriosity Shop, Tweak House, a Christmas in Carol, and Mate Expectations.

What are you trying to do, Die, reverse bowdlerize the classics?

I compulsively started to harvest videotapes, a random sampling of everything the store had to offer, but I avoided anything with Die Smiling in it.  There were too many nights I lay awake tormented by visions of you with other women.  I doubt I could confront the real thing on television.

I inched toward the interior of the store, deeper into darkness.  Copulatory close-ups on flickered on tiny screens, like phosphorescent jellyfish in the sunless recesses of the deepest oceans.  A thick male spoor hung in the air, and the heavy, choking scent of wasted secretions nearly drove me away.

On the rear wall, I confronted a gigantic image of anal penetration, an advertisement for a film, Back Stabbing Fox Hunter, I think.  Or perhaps it was a promotion for hemorrhoids.  The perpetrator joyously swung a riding crop across the buttocks of his mount, a starlet named Tally Ho’!.

In the course of my passage, I noticed a change in the expressions of the women on the posters and cassette covers; they seemed to be growing less smug.  Their faces creased in worry, then distorted with fear.  The open mouths appeared to be screaming.

I felt horribly out of place, realizing I had stumbled into a secret, vast, grotesque, male domain.  Drained of virility, swaddled in their habits, the patrons seemed like abbots of a heinous sect, withdrawn from true experience, gathered in a temple of isolation to get in touch with themselves.  Doors opened and closed in the palisade of mini-movie booths, a gallery of yellow monochrome splatter paintings.  Rather than Love Art, it was more like Lovecraft.  The horror of Chtulu’s bared, gelid face created a cognitive shift, and thrust me into an alternate state of consciousness.

I had gathered a ridiculously large number of tapes to check out, too many, requiring both hands to carry them all.  The pile came to my chin.  Random tapes were falling as I made my way to the counter, but I couldn’t bend over to pick them up without losing the entire stack.  Then suddenly, someone came out of the darkness, out of nowhere.  Before I knew it, he backed me into a corner where a medley of exposed pipes formed a copper cage.  He picked up a fallen cassette and proffered it.  His ice colored eyes regarded me with a discomforting familiarity.  I felt as if his gaze were stripping away my disguise, then my clothes.  I had the embarrassing feeling that I knew him, but I had no idea from where.  He scared me half to death.

Then I thought that it might be a student in my law school class I had previously ignored.  He was younger than myself.  Not my type, usually, but tonight he seemed profoundly different from the way I remembered him.  I had the feeling he had used his misspent and chaos driven intellect to finally extract himself from a lingering nerdishness.

One day, he will be wealthy, powerful, and he will marry someone like your old girl friend, Grace.

“I know you, don’t I?” I asked, more than slightly embarrassed, but holding my composure.

He raised an eyebrow, and for a moment I thought I was mistaken.


“You’re in some of my classes.  I don’t remember your name.”

“John Holmes.”

“It sounds familiar.”

“There’s another John Holmes.  A famous John Holmes.  I’m not him.”

“What are you doing here?  Boning up on Constitutional Law?”

“I work here.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“It is true.”

I intuited a lie.

I said, “I’m doing research for a paper on obscenity.”

“There are no papers due.”

“Extra credit.”

He eyed me strangely.  It was a hauntingly familiar look, from somewhere I couldn’t place.  He spoke to me as one might speak to an old friend, or a former lover.  “You came here looking for a kind of truth. Can I help you find something?”

“What do you suggest?”  I leaned against the pipes.

“Most of the women come for Die Smiling films.”

“The titles are stupid.”

“He’s funny– if you can laugh at nonsense.  His humor also resonates with a kind of pathos.  He always loses the woman he loves.  But for my money, I much prefer the work of his arch rival, Iream Insider, the Goerte of sex.  Or maybe someone more exotic, Mr. XXX.”

“You actually study this stuff?”

Holmes plucked one of the tapes from my clutches.

“Don’t take that one,” cautioned Holmes.  “It is bad luck.”

I examined the label.  “Jayne Payne?”

“Do not even invoke her name.”

The pipes began to gurgle and quiver around me.  “Jayne Payne…” I repeated defiantly.


“Jayne Payne,” I said, without defiance, meditatively, curiously.  A wave of parkinsonian tremors shook the exposed pipes.

Suddenly, a horrible stench struck my face with the force of a blow.  It was the worst odor ever forced through my nasal passages; a horror, stinking of illness, blood and rotting shit.

Dark liquid streamed from one of the mini-movie booths, like a flood of melting chocolate.  It was an outpouring of watery diarrhea which carried frank chunks of half digested food interspersed with blood clots.  Perhaps one of the patrons had lost control of his bowels, or had ruptured a rectal tumor, or perhaps the mini-movie was devolving to its base essence.  Then black, tarry, bloody shit began to pour out by the gallon.  A sewage miasma spread.

I ran.  Some force or intuition compelled me to escape.  I didn’t realize I was still holding the videotapes until the store’s alarms began to bellow.  Neither the alarms, nor the awareness of illicit goods in my possession kept me from running.  Behind me, the other patrons were fleeing also, grabbing whatever treasures they could as their temple flooded with sewage.

Outside, I paused for a moment, contemplating my spoils as the others rushed past me with illuminated posters fluttering like banners.  They had fortified themselves with tapes and love dolls and dildos.

I headed home to watch the booty.

Die Smiling.

You can be such a prick.



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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