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Today's Story by Stuart Hopen

“I wrote a story about how I killed you.”

Serialization Sunday: The Flick – Chapter 5

Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel.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

July 27, 1990

Dear Phoenix,

Thanks for the letter.  It made me high.  I got off on your essence.  Maybe because I catch your madness like some kind of venereal disease of the heart.

I’d like to pick up where we left off:

Jay stood up.  He strolled, deep in thought with his hands behind his back.  I followed to where the tracks of a roller coaster track snaked into a dark tunnel.  At the base of the slope, across from the tunnel, rested a graveyard.  Hundreds of crosses and shadows of crosses.  Plaster angels teetered on headstones.  Stretched by optical illusions and cross reflecting mirrors, the graveyard sprawled without end.

“So I’m dead?  What, like right now?  None of this is real?”

“I wrote a story about how I killed you.”

Jay looked up to the level above the endless graveyard.  The eyes of the mannequins gawked at him.

“I thought you had this thing, this code about only telling the truth in your stories, only things that really, actually happened.”

“Here’s something funny, Jay.  The absolute truth of the matter is that you are dead, right now.  Only now isn’t what it seems to be.  We’re in a moment in a story, and in this moment, you are alive and I’m talking about a story where you are dead, but in the actual moment, you are dead in reality and alive only in the story.”

Jay kicked the mannequin head, which broke through a veil of softly flapping cobwebs.

“This is strong dope,” I said.

“Take your forgiveness and hold it.  You timed it wrong.  Wait a year or so, then forgive me.  Lately, I’ve been a few aces shy of a full deck.  Because of a woman.  Phoenix.”  As he said her name, he pulled hard on the dead joint.  The dark tip sparked back to life and glowed orange.  “She hasn’t come out and said anything about what kind of targets lie in the cross hairs of her long range sights, but she’s got that look… the counting up my net worth look.  I don’t know what to do.  I feel like I picked up a live wire. I can’t let go because the current has overwhelmed my nerves and my grip is locked.  She is perfect…”

“So are you going to marry her?”

“Marry Phoenix?!!  Me?  Marry a psychotic, schizoid, nympho who couldn’t tell the truth if the Pope himself swore her in on the Shroud of Turin?  If only she weren’t so entertaining.  If only she didn’t make everyone else seem bland.  I would marry her right now, and she would destroy me.”

“And that’s your idea of perfect?”

Jay took a deep toke, then handed off the joint.  “Not perfect for me, Die.  She’s perfect for you!”

He kept kicking the mannequin head, following it across the graveyard, off to where the roller coaster tracks twisted into the tunnel.  A warning hung on the web.  Letters formed by the headless bodies of Black Widow grooms.  The Tunnel of Doom.

“You’re trying to set me up for a swap, aren’t you?”

“Keep the fuck away from me.”

A wax faced auctioneer had fallen off the upper level, out of the slave market.  He fell across one of the plaster angels atop the headstones, straddling her wings.  Spiders had colonized the auctioneer’s powdered wig.  He presided over the land of the dead like a judge with rigor mortis.  Arm outstretched.  Very stiff.  Gavel poised.  Ready to bang.

I handed the joint back to Jay.  I said, “My poaching days are over.  I am in love with a professional model.  When you see her, you will eat your hand.”

Jay looked at his right hand.  The joint burned as he pinched it.  Ribbons of smoke wrapped around his fingers.  He said, “I haven’t had that much appetite for my hand these days.”

I grabbed Jay by the shoulders.  “I’ll bet my Grace is more beautiful than your Phoenix.  I bet that when you see her, you will want to swap.”

“No way I want you within snatch range of Phoenix.  You can’t even meet her.  You don’t even get one look at her shadow.  I said I would sell out our friendship for a woman.  I wasn’t talking about Karen.”

Jay turned to walk away.  He carried my joint off with him.

“This love at first sight stuff isn’t real.  It is Chick pornography.  Just like instant sex is Guy pornography.”

Suddenly, a shaft of light stabbed into the graveyard.  A glaring, brilliant, blinding light.  About fifteen feet ahead of us, the dirt began to belch.  Steam hissed through cracking sod.  Two coffin lids flung open in unison.  A figure rose from each of the coffins.  A man and a woman.  Naked except for chains.  They undulated.  They spun around on dancers’ legs.  Some compelling force sucked them toward each other.  They moved like the smoke.  Slowly.  Laughing.  Dancing.  Toward each other.  Their hair, long and silky and elementally platinum.  Their skin, an unnatural powdery white that seemed to smolder.

Me and Jay fell back to the shadows.   The couple couldn’t see us.  But it felt like someone could see us.  Like we were being watched.  The whole event.  Maybe it was all those gaping fake eyes on the upper levels.

The couple got caught up in foreplay.  Laughing.  Stripping.  Groping.

Jay used the joint to light up a cigarette, as if to show he’s not going anywhere.  Was this couple acting out some kind of private fantasy?  Was it a show?  Something distinctly unnatural was in progress.  Much too stoned to care, Jay and me just hung out.

“I like to watch.  You like to watch, Die?”  He handed the hot remnants of the joint back to me.

“Not since I walked in on you and Karen.”

“I owe you a woman, don’t I?”

“You owe me three.”

“The old crazy days.  I miss them.  All the grand and elaborate hoaxes we pulled off to swap chicks, all the masquerades, all the confidence games.”

The final toke poured into my mouth like boiling honey.  I burned my lips.

Jay continued, “Phoenix wouldn’t fall for our old tricks.  She isn’t like the women we used to swap… what did we used to call them?  Potato Chippies or something…”

“Frito-Lays in the pass-around pack.

“Phoenix isn’t like that.  I mean… that’s not the way I feel about her.  Anyway, she is too smart to fall for our scams.”

“So what does Phoenix mean to you?”

“Everything.  Absolutely everything.  The only trouble is, with Phoenix, you don’t know what is real and what isn’t.  She doesn’t even know.  And that’s what’s so terrible about her.  But that’s what’s so entertaining.  I’m almost to the point where I don’t care if it’s true, or real.  I’m hooked on the way she lies.  I don’t want the real world anymore.”

“I’ll bet I could interest you in a swap.”

“Not for anything.”  Jay folded his arm across his chest and let the cigarette dangle.  “If I were a better friend, I’d let you have Phoenix.  I planned to, at first, when I found out she is a writer.  I figured she would be fun on a short term basis, you know, that I would just fuck her for awhile– then let her become the great love of your life.”

The couple in the graveyard swirled into each other like smoke.  Muscle over wet muscle.

Jay continued, “But now I don’t want to give her up.  And I don’t want to share her. Or swap her.  I would not swap her for any filly in your stable, not even if you got Misses January through October and the Honey of the Year too.  Am I being very much the asshole?”

A pink anus was staring me in the eye.

“So what kind of stuff does she write?”


Fake cobwebs and loose strands of cotton candy drifted through the agitated currents.  More light penetrated the spread, shooting out from an unseen source.  What the hell was going on with this weird fucking couple?  They could almost pass for real ghosts.  Stoned as I was, I still couldn’t believe that.  I wanted a rational explanation and decided they were role playing.  In costume and everything.  A fantasy of being dead and still in love and still in heat.  Phosphorescent ghosts had been painted on the walls.  Their smiles glowed dimly.

I said, “Horror?  That sucks.  This may sound funny to you, but I think everything should have a point.  Be moral.”

“What counts as moral these days?”

“I have a code.”  I coughed, my throat raw from pot smoke.  “I don’t sell out my friends for pussy.”  The coughing started up again, and turned into a hacking fit.  It sounded like I was choking on laughter.

I stood up and walked over to one of the smashed roller coaster trolleys, to where it was teetering on the edge.  I said, “You don’t have to worry about me snagging your new girl.  You  have money, looks, brains, and an ivy league dick.  You have a better car.”

“Different women like different things.  Sometimes the same woman likes different things.”

The steamy platinum woman grabbed the man by his most extended point.  She led him like a blind man down a back alley.

“Jay, fuck the last ten years of brotherhood.  Fuck the adventures we’ve had and they way we’ve grown.  Fuck the disasters, both the near and the total.  I give up on our friendship.  If it means nothing to you… fine!”

Jay dug his left toe into the ground.  He jammed both his hands into his pockets.  He looked uncertain, stoned, but embarrassed.

I had the strangest feeling of being watched.  There, in the shadows, lurked a huge glass eye.  A giant version of the gaping eyes of the wax figures on the upper levels.  A cyclops, staring at me.

There were other eyes in the shadows, all around.  Watching.  Recording.  Making me feel like I was being evaluated, everything I said, everything I did, especially the way I was spying on the couple.  Examined.  Judged.  I tried to credit these feelings to the effects of the pot.  Tried to shrug them off.  But I couldn’t.  Something was going on I couldn’t figure out.

“You know what Phoenix says?  She says you can make something turn real by telling it in a story.  She says stories create realities.  In a different universe, I am already dead by your hand.”

“You don’t really believe that.”

“I do.  I believe Phoenix creates universes.  She is a Goddess.”

“Just a crazy chick.”

“She is.  But she is crazy in a way that would appeal to you, Die.  She had a religious experience reading a horror novel.”

“Lots of people worship Stephen King.”

“Not like that.”

“What, like a vampire Moses at a vampire red sea?”

“Phoenix has an even weirder idea of religious experience.”

“A Frankenstein Shiva, creator/destroyer?”

“Even weirder.”

I ran out of guesses.  I had a spaced out look on my face.

“Look at you.  You’re fascinated.  You haven’t even seen her yet.”

“Now I get it.”  I smiled deviously.  “You’re setting me up for a swap.”

“I would sooner swap my life.”

“Hey, what I wouldn’t give to be you, Jay…”

“Yeah?  I thought I was supposed to be dead.  Why would you want to swap lives with a dead man?”

“Erase what I said about that.”

“Okay… I’ll take you up on your bet… but only on one condition.  If you win, you have to promise to swap back.  I have to end up with Phoenix, no matter what… even if she falls in love with you.”


“And another thing.  Another condition for this bet… an absolute prerequisite.”

“Like what…?”

“If I die… like you said I was going to… if I die without Phoenix… you have to bring me back to life, so that she ends up with me.”

“How the hell am I supposed to do that?”

“You would have to give me your life.”  A big cloud of white smoke poured from his mouth and rose to where it hung over his head like a comic book word balloon.

“The pot is talking…”

“We are both extremely very extra stoned.”

“So… if we swap lives and I am dead and you are me, then you’ll be the one who has to keep the promise.  You’ll have to resurrect me.  How is it supposed to end?”

Not far from us, the phantasms were reaching a pelvis pounding crescendo.   oooohhhhhhhh  mmmmmmm

Jay was seething.  Repressed rage made red veins pulse in his eyes.  Like I had murdered him, though he wasn’t dead yet.



The sounds of climax echoed over the broken down roller coaster track, up and down the sloping rails, all twisted and rusty.  The sounds of wet meat smacking came faster and faster.  The wrecked trolleys started shaking.  One of the trolleys jumped its rails.

Pearls sailed through the air.

Jay said, “I was supposed to meet Phoenix at Nine.  We could keep at this all night and it wouldn’t change my mind, only make me feel worse.”  Jay leaned forward.  “The old crazy days.  I miss them, but they’re gone.  Too bad we’ll never find out who won our bet.  The time has come…”

The auctioneer’s gavel fell.

The pearls splattered as they hit the woman’s cheeks.

Exposed male orgasms are a commercial norm, generally referred to as a “Money Shot” in the biz.  Money shots make money, for reasons beyond me.  Coitus Interruptus is a leading cause of impotence.

Someone yelled, “Cut!”

Grips began to pour out of the shadows.  Make up artists.  Audio jocks and the rest of a film crew.  A gang of professional lurkers.  Camouflage specialists, who infuse themselves into their surroundings so as not to distract the performers. To give them privacy in public.  Now the crew was out in the open.  The performers were toweling down their sweaty bodies.  They all milled around Jay and me, ignoring us.  Like we were ghosts and they were the only reality.

The cameramen were the last to come to the light.  Video recorders propped on their shoulders.  The true face of the cyclops.


Okay, Phoenix.  I’ll give it to you straight.  My film is what some people might call Porno.  Yes, it will have fucking.  They used to call them “art films.” I like that term better.

For this opening scene, I’ll cast my friends Bela DeBall and Gala Affair as the couple.  Idiot savants, they’re not much on acting or conversation, which is just as well, given the helium inhalant quality of Gala’s voice.  But they’re great dancers, having traded intellectual function for virtuosity of movement.  There is a musicality at work in their coupling.  A kind of innate primal rhythm.  They stay in sync with each other and with the sound track.  No matter what beat is laid down after the fact.  They don’t think.  They coordinate.  They’ve been called morons and they’ve been called geniuses.  If you subscribe to the new theory that a certain amount of cognition takes place in muscle tissue, he and she are the buttocks equivalent of Immanuel Kant.

Look at it this way.  These days, you can’t grab anyone’s attention by being subtle.  If you want to wake up people from their autopilot way of thinking, you have to shove an exploding car in their faces.  Or a cunt.

Fuck pictures play with our heads.  They cast a spell.  Our blood boils.  Hormone stew.  But the image should be ridiculous.  Balls and tits flopping up and down.  Faces turning pimple red.  Cushions of flesh colliding, shooting ripples through the jelly that hangs on our bones.  A bloated worm with rigor mortis invading a splayed apple.  Yeah, it should be silly at best.  Ugly at worst.  But it isn’t.  It’s powerful.  Sometimes beautiful.  Always brain frying.  It has to be outlawed.

Think about it.  No other image can land you in jail.

I’ve had a struggle to get up to where I am at now.  You would not believe how hard it has been.  The girls are the real stars in the business.  Half of the shots are cropped that you can’t really see the guys.  Or not much of them.

Despite it all, I’ve developed clout.  I have a few things going for me apart from the obvious.  Some of my screenplays are considered world class by industry standards– not that industry standards are what you would call high.  Also, I’ve been able to attract a lot of new girls to the business.  Girls who will work only with me.

Although I have starred in about twenty five films, most of my fortune comes from six films I wrote, directed, and starred in myself.  I had contracted for a percentage of the profits, in lieu of upfront pay.  Usually a guarantee of zero return in a gypsy industry.  You want to know why there’s so many sexual synonyms for being cheated– like “screwed” and “sucker” and “stiffed”?  The etymology traces back to unpaid porno performers.

But the deal ended up being fortunate for me.  Each film has been recut and edited many ways.  Various mutations travel the world.  Dubbed all the way down to grunts and moans to keep them in the proper accent.  Connoisseurs pay through the nose for the purest versions.  Like cocaine.  The most stepped on versions reach the widest audience — late night cable.

Now seriously, in what other end of the film business could I get total artistic control and a big budget in just 3 years?  Only in this end.  Shit, better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven.

At 26, I’m getting too old for this business.  Can’t last more than another few years.  Will you help me with the screenplay?  I can handle everything else myself.

There is another reason I want your help in writing the script.  Most of the major obstacles to wide distribution of this project are legal.  My studio became especially interested when I told him you were a lawyer.  So I exaggerated.  Do you think you can help me write a movie that can’t be busted?

Phoenix, I want to write about us because I want to bring back the time when love meant something more than squirting genetic material into the air.  I want to make a Fuck film that is a masterpiece.  Even if it doesn’t make the audience think, it will at least abuse them in more interesting ways than they can abuse themselves.

Give me a call and let me know what you think.  Or better still, name a place you want to meet.  Anywhere in the world.  On me.

Love, Dieter


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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