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Today's Story by Stuart Hopen

To Curtis, the only guys interested in love are victims of an age old scam. In opposition to the scam, Curtis helped the male race find satisfying partnerless orgasms.

Serialization Sunday – The Flick: Chapter 15

Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel.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

October 11, 1990

Dear Phoenix:

What realm beckons to you?  What lies behind the screen?  Who’s lies?  Who’s behind?

We each have our own side of the screen.  Separate.  Alien.  How like seduction this is.  I show off my stuff.  You show off your stuff.  I try to grasp your perspective.  You try to grasp mine.  I try to penetrate your angle.

You sound freaked by my side of the screen.  But it isn’t Hell.  I got used to what things are like on this side.  I’m not going to try to trick you.  I’m not going to say it looks bad but feels good.  I’m not going to justify my side.  Or condemn it.  It is what it is.  I won’t say I’m sorry for changing.  For giving up all my old ideals that you used to laugh at, but sort of liked.  I just want to show you my side.

But I won’t tell you about Jayne Payne.  Not yet.  You’re not ready.  It takes a kind of commitment.

Before you jump to your own conclusions about what lies in my side of the screen, you need to know what my end has been through.  Maybe someday you’ll tell me what your end has been through.  And what has been through it.

Let me fill you in.

To get to my side of the screen, I had to pay dues.  In flesh.  A pound and a pounding.

Conventions had to be mastered.

About six months after we broke up for the final time, I landed my first gig.

Two things got me inside:

(1)  a referral from Jay’s uncle Vito.

(2)  a certain arm ornament named Catherine Bell (now known as in one-handed circles as Scarlett Fever).

On the basis of a handful of half focused steamy glossies, we finessed an appointment with Curtis Ensor.  The corona of Fossil Bone Pictures.

Curtis summoned us to a half empty shopping center in the worst part of town, where he kept an office.  Now, this is the headquarters of a multi-million dollar studio with worldwide distribution.  I had promised Catherine something swank.

Catherine almost backed out when she saw the waiting room.  A carpet of dust covered the terrazzo floor.  Nests of spiders lurked in bare plumbing up above.  Sucked fly husks decorated the webs.

By the time we got beyond the tinted glass door that separated us from the main office, I was ready to find a desk set in a corner of the public urinals or something.  But it was nice inside.  Weird, but nice.  It smelled like cologne and leather.

A life size picture dominated the center of the room.  Curtis Ensor in the 1950’s made up to look like Elvis.  The photo glares at you with hungry eyes.  His hair lies slick on his head.  Greased.  Just like his cock.  A fifteen inch monument stretched over his washboard belly.  The real Curtis seemed anti-climactic, aged, shrunken, bent with arthritis, seated beside the life sized picture.

Photos of Curtis’s conquests lined the walls, like animal head trophies.  Literally hundreds of pictures of him fucking different women.  Your eyes sweep across the series.  You can see how solid he was poking pony-tailed girls in the fifties.  His gut started to sag around the time psychedelic patterns became the fashion.  By the time Disco got hot, his mouth had sunk in and his lips gathered ridges of wrinkles.  And when I met him, his chin had turned to a wattle.  What remained of the black slick hair was brittle and white.  In these sun faded, ghostly pictures, he gets older.  But the women don’t.  Like the girls are Dorian Grey, and Curtis Ensor is the portrait.  He always used to say, “You’re as young as who you feel.”

He sipped a glass of carrot juice. Flipped through the pictures of Catharine and me.  Thumbed the corners of my script like a card sharp who had caught a punk using a marked deck.  He said to me, “I can’t use this.”  His accent stuck to his voice like sidewalk gum he’d stepped on in the Bronx.  I didn’t realize, until I met him, that he pronounced his first name “Coitus.”

“But I’ll give you work,” he continued. I couldn’t tell if he was talking in the second person singular or plural.  His eyes wandered all over the room, resting every now and then on Catherine’s tits.  Curtis stayed interested in cashing in on them.

“Maybe you have no interest in me…” I said.

“I dunno, pretty boy.  Are you willing to do gay loops?”  He was acting tough.  As was his style. Intent on paying bottom dollar for the assets.

He grabbed a bottle of bourbon from his desk from a drawer built to hold files.  He took a swig.  The filing drawer then yielded two crystal tumblers.  These he placed in front of Catherine.  Both were covered with lipstick rim-kisses of many different colors.

“Why don’t you clean your glasses or get paper cups, or something?” I asked.

The bottle was then offered directly.  And turned down.

Catharine said, “The only reason I’d even think about doing something like this is because Die wrote it.  At least it has class.”

“The guys who watch these films don’t care about class.  They care about Ass.”

He held up one of the photos of Catherine’s ass and licked it.  Smacked his lips.  Then Curtis continued,  “Can you think of anything in the world less classy than sitting in a movie theater and whacking off to a movie?”  He pointed a finger at Catherine.  Then he pressed it into her left breast.  For emphasis.  He seemed to like what he felt.  He pressed his finger into her breast a second time.  Then a third.

“Don’t mind me,” said Curtis.  “I still chase chicks like an old dog who chases cars out of habit.  I don’t stand a chance in hell of catching one, and I couldn’t do anything with it if I did.”

Catherine said, “I don’t think I want to do this anymore.  Let’s go, Die.”  She stood and put a hand on my shoulder.

Curtis looked startled, not truly expecting to lose her.  Not anticipating that there would be any issues on the bargaining table other than cost.  There was no way he could know I had written the script from Catherine’s confessions.  In putting it down, he was putting her down.

He yelled, “Hey!  Hey!  Whadda’ you gonna’ do?  With your looks, babe, no matter what kinda’ job you take, you’ll be doing the same as here, only it’ll be boring, and it won’t pay shit.  Not shit, I say.  Like it or not, an ass like yours will figure in any of your career moves.  Work as a secretary, and your married boss will grab it.  Work as a waitress, you’ll have to wiggle it for tips.  Your ass can be your Bottom or your Can.  If you think of it as your Bottom, it will lobotomize you.  If you think of it as your Can, it will canonize you.  Here you could be a star.  If I were you, I’d stay.  What would you rather have– a dead end job fit for brain donors?  Or a live end job fit to drain boners?”

I turned to Curtis.  Lost my temper.  “Do you have any idea what I had to go through to get her prepped for the camera.  You have any idea how hard it was?  How long she took?”

He measured my words.

To try to make amends, Curtis flipped open a new drawer in his desk.  He took out a mirror, a razor, and a vial of cocaine.  These he handed to Catherine.  Like laying out the lines was women’s work.

While she was chopping, he said, “The next time you bring me a screenplay, leave out the overwrought Ph.D. chicks…”

Catherine helped herself to the first snort of coke.  It was purer than what she was used to.  Immediately she looked sick. Overcome.  I could see it hit her.  Nausea.

“…and the coy allusions to French existentialist novels.  You got to address the everyday joes, like my drinking buddy Fred the roofer, who says: ‘Every Saturday night I pay five dollar to the bald headed champ, and the bald headed champ, he reward me when he puke.'”

Catherine looked ready to respond to cue.

I said, “To tell the truth, I write mostly to women.”

“We don’t sell to women.”

“Why not try to lure them in?”

He laughed and shook his head.  He turned to Catharine.  “Tell me, would anything ever make you want to go to a porno store and stand in a little booth and drop quarters into a machine that shows loops of people fucking?”

Catharine shook her head.

“I mean, would you do it if you could see Clarke Gable’s hard on, or Errol Flynn’s?”


“What about Elvis’ hard-on?”

“Maybe Mickey Rourke’s,” she said.

“Men love porno because porno doesn’t expect to be taken out for dinner.  Porno don’t want no promises, don’t need no lies.  Porno don’t care if you got a little dick, or if you spurt your wad too fast.  Porno doesn’t give you diseases–unless you touch the walls of your sperm covered booth with an open sore on your skin.

“You think that’s going to lure in women?  Porno will not pick up the check.  Or buy flowers.  Or pay alimony.”

Curtis’ took his dentures out for a minute and wiped them on his sleeve.  A tide of drool made his lips as shiny as scales.  He flashed a smile like the pink, all-purpose orifice of a giant protozoa.  “There’s a scientific reason why men prefer no obligation fucking, while women get grossed out by it.  It is an absolute scientific fact that a man gets the greatest chance for genetic survival by screwing as many women as possible…”  He turned nostalgically to the impressive panorama of copulation all around him. “… whereas women scientifically need a man to take care of them while they’re weighted down with kids.”  Then he winked at me.  “Woman looks for one man to fulfill her many needs, while man looks for many women to fulfill his one need.”

At this point, Curtis jumped out his chair.  Suddenly he found a new vigor.  Maybe it was the coke.  Or the sheer love of his craft.   You could see street fighting moves in the way he waved his arms.

“Bring me something like this…”  Curtis began:  “A pizza man stands at the entrance to the Gamma Lama Ding Dong sorority…”

And that’s when Catherine puked.

To Curtis, the only guys interested in love are victims of an age old scam.  In opposition to the scam, Curtis helped the male race find satisfying partnerless orgasms.  Watching what their wives and girlfriends, or would-be wives and girlfriends, were doing without them, right now.

He was a new kind of junker, pushing his heroines to a new kind of junkee.

Hey, I told you this was my side of the screen, a domain of lies and behinds.

These days Curtis raises a crop of what garbage workers call electric rice.  He got prostate cancer awhile back.  In the final stages of his disease, the sin king sinking, he lectured to me for hours.  Passing on a legacy of porno craftsmanship.

I was there when he died.  Holding his hand.  He was sucking on an oxygen tube as if it were the world’s greatest tit.  His last words, and this is true, were: “I’m coming…”

Curtis would have been disappointed by his funeral.  The lack of mourners from outside the industry.  No reporters.  No celebs.  But the event attracted enough old flames to make it a sendoff fit for a Viking.

What a life.  Our affairs illuminate us, then eliminate us.

Are you sure you’re steering yourself into the right line of work?  I’m sure you are not.  You know what they say about lawyers?  If they keep making new ones at the present pace, by the year 2020, there will be more lawyers than people!

I need you.




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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