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Today's Story by Stuart Hopen

Despite having you in my life, I still believe in love as a form of truth, I still believe it can happen.

Serialization Sunday: The Flick – Chapter 10

Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel.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

September 7, 1990

Dear Die:

All right, I’m doing it.  I want to put it behind me.


June 16, 1984

As the Delta-Wave heads out to sea, Phoenix sits by the prow of the ship, dangling her legs over the side, a figurehead lacquered by sunscreen.  She comforts herself with her favorite drink, a black market liquor called Dulcet Lyre, a cousin to Absinthe made with wormwood and a touch of cocaine.  She takes it straight from the distinctive green bottle in which it had been sold.

Die wanders over to her and finds her staring over the side of the ship, down at bubbling orange and red shadows under the surface of the water.

“You look bored,” he says.

“No, I’ve been making wishes on fishes.”

“What, on star fishes?”

“On dead fishes.  When fish die, it is a slow, sluggish sort of death that leaves us to find them floating like water lilies.  So instead of wishing on flowers, like the old women on the shore, I make my wishes on the corpses of fishes.”

“Sounds like death wishes to me.”

She lights up a cigarette, the figurehead beginning to burn.

He says, “Jay didn’t tell me you were a writer.”

“He told me he told you.”

“Well, maybe he did and I forgot.  He didn’t tell me you were a published writer.”

“I’m not a writer at the moment.  College has gotten me lost and blocked.  You dropped out, didn’t you?  Sounds like a good idea.”

He touches his lips.  She touches hers.  As they talk, their positions subtly shift.  Spines inscribe an alphabet of primeval signals.  He reclines into a postural vowel, which she echoes as she leans back.  Their clavicles align to parallel.

“I used to think I knew every thing there was to know about writing, back when I was in high school.  Maybe I am blocked now because I realize how little I know, how complex and difficult it actually is.  When I look back at all my old work, I think it is heavy handed, pretentious, overly didactic.  Too painfully derivative from Sylvia Plath.”

Their postures, their hand gestures, their gazes hit a steady synchronicity.  A ritual seduction is underway, through motions and signals inscribed on their cells; they are not even aware of it.

“I’d like to read it some time.”

“After what I just said?”


“Oh God, that’s like saying, I want to look up your dress.”

“I’ll tell you what.  I’ll let you read my stuff.  You know, I’ll you mine if you show me yours.”

She rolls her eyes.

He says, “I didn’t mean it that way.  I’m not making a pass at you, honest.”

“You were.”

“I was trying to be funny.  If you’re that ashamed of your writing, maybe I could give you some pointers.”

“What kind of pointer do you have in mind?”

Grace saunters over, in the company of Jay.  “You two talking shop?” Grace asks.

Dieter shrugs, and the mirroring of postures and glances stops abruptly.  The gathering lapses into asymmetry.


Jay, sits with his fishing pole in his hands.  He had pasted paper notes to his line.  These messages proclaim their self importance through a profusion of exclamation points and urgent, bold characters on brightly colored scraps of paper.  But they are written in Latin, which only Jay can understand.  The high test line glows for a moment, then shimmers away into invisibility, after the manner of spider webs, making it seem as if the notes hang upon the air. The messages flap and flutter like little flags of obscurity.  Jay pulls on the line, testing the tension.

When Grace walks past, her skin glossy with lubrication, Jay’s rod inclines toward vertical.

Phoenix takes up a pole and expertly casts the line into the water, then she settles down next to Jay on a deck chair.  As the couple trolls the waters, the boat rocks their seats.

Grace pitches a bottle of sun tan lotion to Dieter.  “Do my back,” she demands.

He pours the clear, slick lotion onto his large hands, then rubs it over her proffered back.  A ludicrous bouquet rises off her skin, pina colada spiked with patchouli.  Grace looks up at the bright sun, then pours some more sun tan oil onto her fastidiously tended symmetry.  She says to Jay, with a sincere expression of cultivated naiveté, “Do you mind if I take off my bathing suit?”

Phoenix pouts.  She does not wish to contend with the disrobing antics of a sexual paragon, at least not in the company of these two men; one to whom she has laid claim, and the other to whom she has laid siege.

Grace continues, “There’s no one else around, and I hate to pass up the opportunity to complete my tan.  Of course, I don’t want to offend anyone.”

“I won’t be offended,” says Jay, suddenly straight faced, as if preparing to play poker.

Dieter says, “Go ahead.”

As Grace strips down, Phoenix watches intently, even more so than Jay.  She says to Grace, “God, you’ve got a beautiful body.”

Grace says, “I work at it.”

Phoenix asks, “So, did you get naked for us because you’re really such an uninhibited nature child, or are you trying to help Dieter win his bet?”


The time we spent together flew by, powered by an engine or device of incredible potential, but one with the slightest flaw– a gear with an improper mesh; a loose belt– so that it could not withstand certain stresses.  It was dangerous to operate.

I could not bring myself to write an explicit scene, at least not yet.  What I wrote seems erotic enough to me, even without frank intercourse, but I don’t know if it will meet your commercial demands.  I feel like an intruder into this genre; as if I had mistakenly stumbled into the Men’s toilet.

These films are not about love, nor love making for that matter.  They are vehicles of climax.  They are traps for servants of the self; they are bait for their masters as well.

The first film I watched, something called The Wizard of Os, caused an experience of a profound disorientation, as if I had been lost somewhere over the rainbow.  All the players possessed a horrifying, inanimate quality, like the Tin Woodsman who sported a stove pipe erection.  Their performances were stilted, their sexual movements robotic.

A man named Huge Beaumont sported a cock so enormous he had to wear a harness contraption– supposedly to hold it up while he is on screen.  But the thing was obviously made of plastic, and it looked like a prop from a 1950’s low budget horror film.    Of all the porno bimbos who spread before me, there was one who evoked a spectacular revulsion.  Over the course of a series of films in which she appeared under a variety of names (Bonnie Appetite, Honey Warmenwette, Purr Fuct), I watched her arc from an overweight teenager to a sculpted she-thing with a new nose, new cheeks, a new chin, and new breasts, more silicon than flesh on her bones.  She had aerobicised off her baby fat, exercising, I suppose during what little time she wasn’t under the scalpel or making porno films.  She metamophed from drab to beautiful and then back again.  Eventually she settled upon the stage name V., obviously drawn from the Pynchon character– presumably in deference to her artificial body.

After She Wore Only a Yellow Ribbon, I couldn’t take it anymore.  V. had obviously acquired AIDS.  Twig like limbs, webbed with varicosity, extended from her hollowed out joint sockets.  The silicone bags in her breasts had ruptured, but she hadn’t bothered to have them removed.  She was having sex with a Nordic male bimbo who seemed oblivious to her grotesque appearance and obvious disease.  I got violently ill watching the two of them.

Did you know V?

What can you tell me about the mysterious Jayne Payne whose invocation can shatter pipes?

How about Mr. XXX, a master of disguises?  I am curious to know his true face.  He must fit nightmare visions of your worst possible rival, your conception of my ideal man: a tireless athlete who can be anyone, or everyone, to provide the infinite variety you think I need; a fantasy of ubiquitous eroticism.  I will tell you that out of all the hours of trash which I watched, this anonymous fantasy person was the only one who aroused anything other than disgust.  I am intrigued by his musculature, and shudder contemplating the efforts it took to achieve such perfection.  Like Lon Chaney Sr., the man provokes a terror that takes me out of myself.

This industry of yours fosters a process that transforms people into things; fetishes like V. and Huge Beaumont.  Each film turns a live woman to an actual inanimate object– something a man can possess and tuck away in a drawer, something he can have at his fingertips whenever he wants it.

Your proposed plot is too bleak and depressing.  Your characters arc from romance to disillusionment, from love making to fucking.  You conclude by showing a woman broken by a stubborn masculine will, condemned for her infidelity, lost in despair and seeking her own death in the great Emma Bovary tradition– only to have life tortuously forced upon her through the most painful means at hand.

Yes, I can see how such a film, all cocks and cunts and brutality, would appeal to your current audience– the crowd that stays at home alone on a Saturday night, the palm wine drunkards, the dogs who chase their own tails.  That is not the kind of film I want to write.

Since you have set the parameters for genre, I will set the parameters for theme.  Our movie must be about love.  Not the failure of love which brings death, but the durability of true love.  Despite having you in my life, I still believe in love as a form of truth, I still believe it can happen.

I am willing to work on a film about you and I, provided we limit the story to the way we fell in love, the obstacles to that love, and the way we overcame them.  I want to tell about how you were willing to sacrifice your closest friend in order to be with me, and how we would not let go of each other, even in peril of our lives.  Those distant days.



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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