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Today's Story by Stuart Hopen

Let me fuck your brains out on the astral plane.

Serialization Sunday – The Flick: Chapter 23

Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel.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

November 15, 1990

Dear Phoenix:

I didn’t know who else to talk to about my feelings, so I went looking around the sets for Eerie Canal.

I found her in the middle of a shoot.  Right away, all she wanted to talk about was getting the part of Grace.  She launched a lobbying effort that went all the way from the Lobby to the Penthouse.  She wouldn’t shut up about it.  Even while she was getting poked.  And even while she was being filmed while getting poked.

I said, “Can’t you wait until we have a minute alone?”

“What is the matter, Die?  Afraid to have your private business aired on video tape?”  She spoke with a slight Teutonic accent that might be fake.  Her voice buzzed from the depth of her throat.  A purring full of slurred sibilants.

A tattooed logo gleamed on the insides of Eerie’s thigh.  A series of wavy lines that could be a river or some other kind of cleft.  It is her trademark in the proprietary sense, actually registered, so that no one can print her picture without paying royalties.

Many producers have been fooled by Eerie’s wide eyed mysticism, only to find themselves suckered and outflanked.  Eerie has a good head for figures.  As well as other things.  The New Age foibles aren’t a sham.  They’re just another aspect of her life parlayed to the interests of free enterprise.

Some people take your money with lies.  Others with the truth.

Descended from the hooker priestesses of Baal, she knows that every religion has to come to grips with realities of the market.  She sells her old underwear to her fans at a premium.  Changes panties every three hours to keep up with the demand.  You can call a pay-per-minute number any time of day and talk to Eerie herself, not a tape or some voice-clonette, like you get from other starlets.  The line offers a combination telephone sex and psychic counseling service.  It costs double what the competitors charge.  According to Eerie, there’s nothing wrong with exploitation.  Just so long as it’s consensual.  As long as it is mutual.

After countless hours of shimmering on the phone lines, spouting theories of love that cost three dollars just for the preamble, Eerie latched onto the notion that America accepts the gospel of pleasure through acquisition– what Curtis Ensor used to call “getting off on getting.”  Curtis used to laugh when I talked about Art.  It was just a kind of product to him.  And sometimes I feel like I’m just a product too, but I’ll tell you what I think I’m the product of.

If you stay in the porno business long enough, you see the bottom line effects of teaching people to enjoy flashy, passing entertainments.  Your view slants to the notion that the national taste cultivates taste toward the transient.  The disposable.  Greed is a symptom of mental health.  Isolation is the key to self preservation.  You would think these attitudes  would cause cultural premature ejaculation, but I think they keep the economy erect.

Eerie formed a corporation to manage her holdings.  Incorporated her ass, as she puts it.  You can buy shares through Men’s magazines.  Eerie spreads over on a full page add, showing off her logo.  “Lay the Canal,” it says.

Given Eerie’s preoccupation with health, mysticism, and all things financial, she would be a natural for the part of Grace.  Rattling off incomprehensible jargon about reincarnation, astrology, and acupuncture, she convinced me she could play the part in her sleep.  Probably better than she could awake.

Up to this moment, Scarlett Fever had been the leading contender for the part.  Scarlett has the legs and the face and the paneled abs it takes to play Grace.  Even a pink aura, according to people who see such things.  But Scarlett Fever has the wrong kind of glands.

I told Eerie I would consider her for the part of Grace if she would talk to me about your John Holmes, and Iream Insider, and whether I’m making a terrible mistake by invoking the memory of Jay Fortunata.

I let Eerie read your last letter, Phoenix.  I hope you don’t mind.  Asked her if she could find some meaning under the madness.

“It happens all the time,” said Eerie.  “People who open themselves up to the experience will find it.”

“What experience?”

“The supernatural.”  Only she pronounced it “zhe zoopernaturral.”

“Aw, come on.”

“You understand.  You are the artist.  Magic shifts consciousness.  Art too, so to say.  We do things to reality.  When you watch the act, the very act of making life, it changes brain chemistry.  Raises magical powers.  It is the most direct way.  After all, we are talking about the primal thing of human inspiration.”


“People outlaw Porno for this reason.  Think what is porno.  Pictures of skill, conquest.  Pictures to show fate, chance, instinct, conquest, surrender, sacred and profane, everything all at once.  It is black magic.  A copy replaces the thing itself.  You do not believe me, do you?  You do not believe in ghosts or the hereafter.  Not God or the Devil, or magic of the soul.”

“None of it.”

“What a bleak world you live in.  I think it is true what they say in the tabloids. Someone broke your heart.”

“There’s not a fucking thing wrong with my heart.  It will last me the rest of my life.”

“Listen very carefully to me.  It is possible to open up new human potentials.  Telepathy.  Telekinesis.  Clairvoyance.  Think of it as art, Darling.  Erotic art drives people inside themselves.  They bring back tokens.  These tokens change the world.”

I don’t remember what I said at this point.  It was something intended to make it sound like I understood what she was talking about.  In fact, I hadn’t a clue.  A kind of surreal semantic tango ensued.  I had done this tango before.  Usually in the context of trying to get laid.  But also when I used to talk to my stroked out grandfather.  I used to just go with the flow.  When I didn’t want to let the old man catch himself babbling.

I told her, “I once had a dream about running through a field of butterflies.  It was so real, I could actually feel them fluttering against my face.  I reached out.  Grabbed a butterfly.  Woke up  suddenly.  And there was still something in my hand.  Fluttering.”

“That is what I mean.”

“But it was a cockroach.”

She thought for a moment, trying to fit this new factor into her world view.  Then she brightened.  “Only because you let it be a cockroach, Darling.”

What ever thread of logic I thought I had been following had frayed to incomprehensibility.  Every time it seemed our conversation was getting in sync, she would launch it back into the ozone.  She wasn’t using words like language.  More like she made sounds to try to connect on a deeper level.  She might as well have been talking in tongues.  I kept nodding as if I understood.

“A ghost entered this world through your story.  The ghost maybe found someone who maybe suffers from a psychic weakness.  He could be the perfect medium for this Jay of yours.”

“So this person we’re talking about, he shouldn’t be put in this position?  Especially not with Phoenix?”

“You understand what I mean.  Iream suffers from the same weakness of psyche since someone we know took his girl.”

A ringing started in my ears.  I felt threatened.  By what, I don’t know.  Like a kid afraid of a clown mask.  In the dark.

“You don’t think this is about someone playing with my head?  You think it is a real ghost, then.”

“Ghosts take many forms.  We absorb people we come into contact with.  We eat them and they live inside us.  You are who you eat.”

“You must be a lot of people, Eerie.”

“We all are a lot of people.  Are you trying to change your past, Die?  Rewrite your own history.  Repay a debt?  Fix an old mistake?  Balance an account?  You summoned something from the past.”

“So what would you do, to get rid of this something?”

“Change your plans.  Leave Phoenix out of this.  Let the past be gone.”

“That would ruin everything.”

“Why?  What are you planning?”

I had to think.  “It feels wrong.  Phoenix has to be involved.  Otherwise, it won’t play out the right way.  It would be a cop out.  Like simulation onscreen, instead of real fucking.”

“You’re not being honest.”

“What about you?”

“Let me explain it like this.  I will give you a scientific explanation.  You think you are a single person, alone, and the rest of the universe is made up of parts as alone and separated as you.  But everything in the universe is part of everything else.  It is all the same.  Every part contains the whole.  The whole contains all the parts.”

“The hole is everything.  I’ve heard this rap before.  Jay Fortunata and I used to use it to talk chicks into swapping partners.”

“It is a truth I live.  You find the right pressure points, you rub the Universe in the right way, and you can make it do… anything!”

“You and I have very different ideas about the meaning of the term ‘scientific explanation.'”

“You were the one who sought me out.”

I said, “You don’t think someone is playing games?”

“You were the one playing games, Darling.  But the game turned on you.  Let me prove to you magic is real.”

I raised an eyebrow.  “Show me.”  This kind of banter usually means that casting will take place under the sheets, and the screen test will be rehearsed.  But we were just clowning around.

“This summer, when you were watching Iream and me, did you let yourself go?  Did you get inside his body, and get inside of mine?”

“It was too hokey for me.”

“But isn’t that what all art is supposed to do, and porno more than anything else?”


“Put you inside the work.”

I laughed.

“Give it a chance, Die.  Let me fuck your brains out on the astral plane.”  She closed her eyes, like she was going into a trance.

Time went by.

“You got to open yourself to the experience, Die.”

“This is about as open as I get.”

“You are not going to take my very good advice, are you?”

“It is my story.  My life.”

“Then let me be a part of it.  Let me into your past, Die.  Let me into your future. I have the power to protect you from what ever lurks there, what ever it is that frightens you.  I will be your saving Grace.”  She harkened back to the party line, “We enter an age the mind can create anything, Die.”

I asked, “Every woman an Eerie Canal?”

“Every man a Die Smiling.”  She winked.  “Everyone will be able to do anything by looking into themselves and rubbing the universe where it wants to be rubbed.  Anything at all is possible.  Even changing the past.  Everyone of us can be a god.”

“I believe that.  Everyone can be a god.  But only in their heads.  So what does that give us?  Everyone off somewhere enjoying their own hallucinations.  Everyone lost in a fantasy.  A private reality.  Everyone in touch with nothing but themselves.  Everyone grabbing cockroaches and thinking they’re butterflies.”

She wasn’t listening anymore, blotting out what she didn’t want to hear.  She just stood there, breathing.  There was nothing for me to do but study her.

When she was done with her breathy trance, she looked up at me and asked, “So was it good for you too?”

“You made me feel hypnotized, but it was more like being hypnotized to believe that nothing happened.”

“You will never know what you missed.”  She winked, cunningly.  She had aimed for, and hit, my deepest fear.


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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