Monday, October 28, 2013

Pursuit short story by Mykola Dementiuk



Pursuit is a complete short story from Stallers: More Tales of Times Sqare Cuties by Mykola Dementiuk, a masterful collection of stories of certain men who used to stand around in certain locations in Times Square in the old days where they knew they could always find another horny man and instant semiprivacy just a door away in which to act out their desires. Susie Bright says Mylola Dementiuk's Times Square stories capture perfectly "the day when Times Square was all about sex, drugs, and cold spit ... the just-burgeoning hardcore movie houses and girlie shows of Times Square in the 1960s. It's... vivid. Harsh, real, and yes, erotic, in a stomach-churning way. Genuine whoreporn from a time when things were not talked about, at all, in the twilight zone." 

Stallers
Sizzler Editions (April 20, 2011)
  • ASIN: B004XFC5LU

Pursuit

I had followed the young man from store front to store front, from movie alcoves to arcade windows and still he remained a few feet ahead of me, abruptly withdrawing each time I drew near, though not to deftly as he could have easily have lost me in the thick 42nd Street crowd.  It was a tease and we both knew it.
I had spotted him coming out of Bryant Park and moving to the Pix movie house where he studied the girlie stills outside, then darted across the street and looked at the similar Bryant theater display.  Though his park exit troubled me since there had been an increase in beatings, muggings, and faggot rip-offs that summer, not only in the park but the entire Times Square area by bully-hoods leading-on horny old queers, but he didn't quite fit the image of the lure-boy to bait me into some dark alley. Still, I'd better warn him to be wary of the park.


I lingered by the girlie photos and pulled out a wad of bills, hoping he read my offer of paying his way and made a show of counting each bill, a ten, two fives, five ones. We stood near a big-breasted bimbo poster, but he just glanced at the money and at the Admittance sign on the ticket booth window and pulled out and looked into his own wallet, making sure I saw the empty flaps.  Then he shrugged and walked away from the theater, cramming the empty wallet into his tight pants pocket.

God-damned fucking whore! I smirked, but kept right behind him as he casually moved west along 42nd Street, then crossed at 8th Avenue and sauntered back east on the other side of the crowded street.

A few times I came close enough to once more flash the wad as he stopped at porno-shop window displays, studied tiers of engineer and cowboy boots at the Army/Navy store, and once practically into his hands as he lifted his lips and stared at a large store-front hamburger/fries menu before a dingy and empty diner tucked next to a bright movie alcove.  But just as he turned and continued along the street I'm certain his smile was growing broader with each pause, our eye contact more knowing and sure, his walking and halting more cunning and luring.  He had me, I smirked to myself; he knew it and so did I.

It was a Friday evening and the Times Square crowd was dense and boisterous, though in a partying mood, ready and alert for the slightest attraction, amusement or arousal.  Once, some garish old high-heeled drag queen, her drooped cock and balls clearly evident at the side of her tight red pants, tottered and pushed through the hooting and laughing crowd, while a few streets away on Broadway, a prostitute in a daring New Look micro short skirt which seemed nothing more than a strip if cloth pasted around her groin, was being led into a patrol car as the crowd hooted and shoved to seize a strategic spot to peer up her opening legs as she stooped into the car, erupting into cheers and arguments as to whether she was wearing any or not and poking and leering at each other as to the freebie's the cops would now get at the station house.


For a moment I thought I had lost him in the thick crowd but his white pants and t-shirt made it easy to spot him making way with the lookers as the cop car spurted its siren and cleared a path down the street.  He was laughing along with the other bystanders and shrugging to questions of panties or not but I noticed his eyes were eagerly scanning the faces as I was searching for his.  We saw each other. And did he blush?  Or was that just a streak of red flared cop-light moving across his face?  He smiled, and I turned and I continued my pursuit of his tease, moving up Broadway, crossing more streets, pausing at windows, and each time being enticed to follow still further.

On 47th Street, Broadway separates from its brief link-up with 7th Avenue as though having been assisted in its frenzied traverse of Times Square and begins the long oblique stretch uptown, a garish mainline for all the dull dim-lit parallel streets that slink along and only liven up when they cross its path.
The young man turned off Broadway and moved up 7th Avenue.  The crowds lessened somewhat and the store-front displays quickly melded to suit the tastes of a more constant and stable clientele: Chinese vases, frames and art works, fashion clothes, out-of-print records and old Broadway show posters and memorabilia.  Still, a few neon-lit porno-shops dotted the avenue here and there as though a memory of what lay a few blocks below, but their somewhat muted exhibits of jerk-off thrills were garishly intrusive and out of place.  And I certainly had no intention of going too much further.  50th Street would be my limit; the way this was going we'd both be walking the streets till dawn, playing, teasing, leading-on, laughing and running away.  Yet maybe I had it all wrong; maybe he wasn't leading me on and I was simply following my horny imagination.  What if he turned and socked my face?  What if he turned and screamed, "Faggot!"  No, 50th Street would be it; that would be my limit.  He can look at every store window from here to the Bronx for all I cared; for me 50th Street would be my limit then it was back to 42nd.


He stopped at a porno-shop window.  And of course, this being uptown they couldn't settle for displays of big tits and open cunts, that was a dime a dozen back on Times Square (or three magazines for five bucks). No, here the exhibit was strictly class, not porn, but nude studies, not jerk-off inducers, but art appreciation of the human body: naked little boys sitting on rocks, naked little girls lying on a beach, naked old couples and their naked young children sitting by a pool – the human body at natural and healthy play. I sneered, and wondered if 50th Street was worth the wait.


The young man walked past the nude studies and entered the long store front alcove.  Near the paint-covered front door, well off the street, the display window was plastered with photos and magazine covers of transvestite drag-queens.  For added enhancement and inducement, a pair of dusty panties with bra and black mesh stockings lay at the bottom of the window display as though some big-dicked transvestite had just disrobed and waited inside the shop.  I stood next to the young man.

"They look like real women, don't they?" I said, and gestured to the TV photos.
The young man glanced at me and shrugged, then looked back at the exhibit.  It was as though we had been walking and holding a conversation and paused; now we continued out talk.

"This one had an operation," he said, pointing at a magazine cover and shaking his head.  "They shouldn't show her with the other ones."

I glanced at the transvestite model: long blonde hair, sculpted face, perfect cleavage, narrow ankle-length black dress gown.

"You mean she had her cock cut off?" I asked.  "What a waste!"  I shook my head.
The young man sniggered and nodded.

"I saw that magazine," he frowned, glancing at my groin, "and it was nothing but cunts, new made cunts," he grimaced, and suddenly looked up at me.

I also grimaced and looked at the transvestite model then back at the kid and for the first time noticed there was something feminine about him too.  He was small-framed and thin and wore his pants tightly around his hips, totally out of the current young style of baggy peg-top waists and fat-ass look.  His face was smooth and clear, the lips thick and pouty and his blue eyes seemed avid and eager with thin eyelashes narrowly arched on his forehead above his eyes.  His blonde hair was also much longer then the current short mode and he wore a tight V-neck t-shirt which naturally drew the eye down to his chest. I suddenly envisioned him in a bra with cleavage, his face made-up, his legs nyloned and long.  I smiled and looked back at the magazine covers.

"This one is real," he said, pointing to a black transvestite.  "She has a dong down to here," he gestured to his knees.  "And that's when it's limp," he giggled.

I knew this was a perfect cue to bring the chase to an end, to toss out a feeler as to his own dong-size, yet something was wrong about the whole conversation.  I saw his darting eyes from my face to the magazine covers and hardening each time he looked away. I again felt that inarticulate inkling of suspicion, mistrust, and fear.  Why had this taken so long? I wondered.  There were TV photos in any of the shops along the way.  What was this chase and pursuit, if not an attempt to lure me away from the crowds and lights?  A few more blocks and it would be easy to tease me down a deserted street, into a dark construction site, a dim-lighted parking-lot or a shuttered doorway.  It had happened before: a slow tease, a long pursuit, a blooded mouth, rifled pockets, a kick in the groin, the spat out word, "Faggot!"  The memories came fast and clear and I stared at the kid. Had I seen him before?  Did he look the type?
"I'll bet you have a big dong too," I dared, nonetheless, glancing down at his groin, the crook of his white pants and thighs smoothly aligned and narrowed below his zipper and between his legs with no sign of actual cock and balls.  He may have objected to having it cut off, I thought, but he clearly didn't like showing it either.

"Wouldn't you like to know," he replied, and maybe it was his expressionless face, with no longer any pretense at the expected flirtation that once more hinted at something not right, but I looked at the transvestite photos and took a step back towards the street.

"Twenty bucks!" he suddenly blurted and moved after me.

I stopped and glanced at the opposite window from the transvestite display and looked at some pseudo-literary blatantly imitative books and novels:  Tropic of Tropics, Hard Candy, Lord Chatterley's Love-girls.

I looked back at the kid and asked, "Where?"

"Around the block," he answered.

I studied him and fingered the wad in my pocket.  We could've had this solicitation and talk anywhere along the way, I thought again, and kept my wad in my pocket.  Suddenly, a big-breasted girl in tight pants surged into the alcove, glanced at us and giggled, then snorted at the nude studies in the front window and stepped back out.  I saw a winded man hurrying past and give us a glance, clearly in pursuit of the girl, as he continued behind her to Times Square.  That was always the right place to go, I thought, no matter what.

"There's a parking lot down the street," the young man said.

I shrugged, then nodded and gestured for him to go and that I'd follow.  He quickly moved out of the store alcove.

Should've flitted your eyes, I thought looking after him, that'd make you look real.

I glanced back at the magazine covers and the transvestite who had it cut off.  A dong down to here, eh?  That I'd like to see…

I moved out of the store alcove and looked up the street.  The young man was a few doors down, waiting before a ladies' clothing store, a headless bra and girdle-clad mannequin in the window behind him.  I glanced at his slim waist and tight hips.  A dong down to where?  Well, maybe packed and stashed in a girdle, I supposed.

I turned downtown.  To Times Square.  If I didn't lose him in the crowd and he moved to pursue me it would have to be in either the Pix or Bryant.  Back where we started.  I wasn't going to any alley or parking lot.  But only where it was safe.  In the movie theaters on 42nd Street.   I turned and looked up 7th Avenue.  The young man was racing after me.  I saw he was pissed.  Ahead of me I spotted the big-breasted girl step into another porno-shop alcove as the winded man moved in behind her.  I turned onto Broadway.  The neon lights spasmed above and around me.  I immediately felt safer.


Mick Mykola Dementiuk
http://dementiuk.weebly.com 
http://www.MykolaDementiuk.com
Lambda Literary Awards Winner 2013/Gay Erotica, 2009/Bisexual Fiction

Monday, October 21, 2013

Look Away Silence excerpt by Edward C Patterson


In Look Away Silence by Edward C Patterson, Martin Powers wanted an ironing board for Christmas. Instead, he got . . . Matthew Kieler, a non-returnable gift, but a gift that kept on giving. Chance encounters are sometimes the ones that most change our lives. He sold Matt a tie, but got more in the bargain - more than most people would want and more than anyone deserved. Although these lovers may not have had the pink American dream, they had it better than most, even as they faced a crisis that would change us all.

Look Away Silence is a romance set in the time of AIDS, when ignorance could spell trouble and often did. It encompasses the author’s experiences in volunteer community service and personal friendships during a tragic period in American history. The novel is dedicated to the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, the NAMES Project and to the author’s own fallen angels. "Mothers, do not shun your children, because you never know how long you have to revel in them."

Look Away Silence
CreateSpace (July 15, 2009)
ISBN: 1448651921
ASIN: B002HRER5S

Excerpt:

Chapter Four

Christmas in The Cavern

1

Tux and Ties proved to be a quiet cove, since few weddings and proms take place at Christmas. However, I knew that next week would bustle as New Year’s proved to be a better stimulus for formal wear. Still, Russ found something to keep him busy; a customer with a size thirteen shoe, Holy Mother of God. I dragged Matt in through the casements and called for assistance. The place appeared abandoned, but I knew better. I spied four legs behind the curtain to the dressing room. Russ was taking measurements as only he could. I cleared my throat, but to no avail. Matt appeared embarrassed, but did chuckle. He slouched on the glass case, constantly gazing back out to the mall.
Finally, I announced in a loud voice, “Anyone see a fruitcake? I’ve seemed to have lost my fruitcake.”
The curtain swished open, the customer adjusting his pants and my friend Russ pouting like Butterfly McQueen.
“Can’t you see I’m busy?”
“Fancy dress ball?” I asked.
“No,” said the customer. He was a looker, every bit his shoe size. He had soft tawny curls and was a head taller than Russ. “A little private party.”
“So I see.”
“No, you don’t,” Russ snapped, striding toward the counter. “But who have we here? The man from the jacket racks.”
Matt fidgeted, blinking his gorgeous eyes. I wanted to smack Russ, but we had come to his haven for the evening’s itinerary, after all. So I accepted a little pay back.
“Russ, this is Matt.”
Russ smiled, and then touched Matt’s hat brim.
“Ride ‘em, cowboy.” He turned to the customer. “And this is . . . what’s your name?”
“Chris,” said the giant — a gentle enough looking giant. He’d be a great bookmark in the club later.
I reached for Chris’ hand — a massive hand, and as I did Russ winked.
“I’m Martin.”
“Good name,” Chris said. I blinked.
“So,” I said, resolved that introductions were complete. “Are we off to The Cavern, or is your private party drifting into the back room?”
“Don’t be silly,” Russ snapped. “Business is business. I’ll just finish these measurements and I’ll meet you there in an hour.” He glanced at Chris, who grinned. “Maybe two.”
Matt was halfway to the door. I didn’t think he cared too much for Russ. My flighty sister was an acquired taste, after all. To know him was to love him . . . simple soul that . . . well, there has only been one Russ amongst us, thank God. Where would we find another?
I didn’t want to lose Matt’s interest, so I bid Russ and Mr. Thirteen-inch shoe a farewell, and then headed for the parking lot. Matt drove a Ford Cherokee (go figure) and he followed my piece of shit Honda Civic to Long Branch. My little heart went pittipat, but I was trying to keep myself in gear. Every time I peeked through the rear view mirror, I expected to see something other than a blue Cherokee and a cowboy hat. However, he stayed the course.

Dusk closed in, and even more so. It felt like snow. I didn’t mind. It had been a mild winter so far — cold, but nothing more than rain. I loved a white Christmas, especially if I was getting a Christmas present — a vacuum broom. What did you think I meant? Still, I kept myself in rein. We’d park the cars near my apartment and go directly to The Cavern. If my cowboy — from Houston — why no, ma’am; from Melrose — the queers and steers ghetto — if he wandered off with another filly or proved to be a bad drunk, I’d save myself a holiday headache, although I had plenty of Motrin. Who knows? Perhaps he could sing. I would soon find out as the Jersey Gay Sparrows would be roosting at The Cavern tonight to warble a pink version of an ersatz Christmas concert — a few carols and a Chanukah melody. I had a solo.
I parked in my usual spot facing toward the beach, and then immediately directed Matt to the visitor’s lot across the street. It’s funny how we do things by rote, so much so they become lost in a haze of more important memories. However, I recall the precise logistics of that first date, for that was what this was. First dates were always awkward. Did he adjust his hair and hat before turning off the engine? Did he lock the doors? Did he hesitate before crossing the street? And, most important, did he take my hand or did he shuffle beside me down the street? In fact, Matthew Kieler didn’t hesitate, nor did he straighten his hair and hat or lock the truck door. He just strode to my side, and then rocked awaiting my directions. So I hooked myself on his arm and moved him along the street to The Cavern’s entrance. He only said one thing as we moseyed along. I’ll never forget it.
“This place must be pretty in summer.”
And I thought, do you mean to stay around and find out?

2

The Cavern usually didn’t awake until eleven or nearer to midnight, but it was Christmas, so the regulars were already there and in a festive mood. Extra activities tonight — a leather Santa and a subset of us Jersey Sparrows and the Monmouth contingency of the Errata Erastes Choir, our local Lesbian warblers (or grunters — whatever your perspective). So The Cavern percolated early that evening. I remember it well — Teddy Fitz manning the bar, his rippling muscles shining under the flashing Budweiser sign, and Gus the Bouncer, not collecting the cover charge yet, which didn’t kick in until eight o’clock. He was a burly bear, but as tender as a teddy, but not like Teddy Fitz, who was everyone’s sweetheart — the bearer of the sweet liquid ambrosia a la tap and shaker. The cute busboy Nick was on duty and that hotty — what’s his name . . . Scott or . . . Steve — something with an S. He was sizzling, but quiet — a memorable sight nonetheless. I can still see him in my mind’s eye, even though he’s passed beyond the shadow. Then there was Bobby, the waiter — eyes filled with magnetic trouble, everyone caught in his trace.
The bar was bellied with the beach bums — Sam, Kurt and Mother. They weren’t really bums, but they always seemed to be at the bar from the time I entered to the time I left — never failing. Mother was the oldest specimen of drag queen to my acquaintance. He must have been seventy and I would love to spin his story, if it were known. However, it was a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Mother, with his sagging falsies, shabby feather boa and askew lipstick was a fixture at The Cavern — as ubiquitous as the barstools.
The Cavern was unique. Thinking about it, years before the fire that razed it to rubble, the place had three huge rooms — a front bar, a dance floor (actually two dance floors) and a back bar. The back bar opened onto a volleyball court, where in summer we could watch the players volley in their all-together. In winter, the court was a vacancy between the back bar and the shack. The shack had yet another bar — more intimate and the place for pick-ups.
The Cavern was just that. The walls and ceiling were tan stucco, sculptured into stalagmites. The floor, except the dance areas, was uneven and gravelly. Bruce Q., the owner and a real queer StarWars geek, was inspired by the outpost bar on Mos Eisley. I often imagined Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo drifting in from the beach in search of the Millennium Falcon. The room was hung with a variety of rubbery and plastic cave creatures. The most fascinating was a thing Bruce Q. called the Zippilin, a cross between a bat and a cat. He had it rigged on a cable and, every once in a while, the thing would go sailing over the dance floor and yap like a Zippilin, however a Zippilin yapped. Scared the crap out of new visitors. The veterans just howled.
When I pulled Matt into The Cavern, no one was dancing. No one dared, even though Carlos, the DJ, spun platters. No one dared trip over the dance floor before the bewitching hour, when Donna Summer blared over the two eight foot speakers. I waved to Teddy Fitz and to Sam and Kurt, and then presented Matt to Mother. Matt was withdrawn, but that didn’t discourage me. As the Christmas elves spread the spirit, I believed he would come to life. He was a product of a gay ghetto after all — Melrose.

“Mother,” I said. “May I introduce you to my friend, Matt?”
Mother’s face broke into a clownish smile. She raised her tattered begloved hand for my caress. Matt looked away — nerves bubbling. Drag queens might have been his discomfort zone — at least seventy-year-old chicken-boned crones like Mother. I learned that some gay men shunned drag queens, perhaps sensing their own inner Ethel Merman wanting to pop out and sing That’s Entertainment. This reaction was not unique.
“Matt?” I nudged.
“Glad to meet you, Miss.”
“It’s Mother,” croaked The Cavern’s icon. “Make yourself at home. Mi casa is su casa.”
Mother had somehow made the place her own over the years, the poor dear. I knew she would launch into a history of Long Branch and the good old days when the boardwalk stood proud over the gay community, who frolicked under it. However, Matt already drifting away. I nodded to Mother, and then nudged Matt along the bar.

“What’ll you have?” I asked.
Corona with lime,” Matt said. “And I’m paying.”

I grinned. Was this to be my Sugar Daddy for the evening — Computer Programmer cash? Merry Christmas, Martin.
“Teddy, a Corona with lime and my usual.”

My usual changed from season to season, but it was, if I recall at the time, a thing called a Suffering Bastard — a double rum and Curacao concoction with more fruit juice than a gay orgy.

The drinks were duly prepared and served on holiday napkins.
“Where’s your elves hat?” I asked Teddy.
He laughed, and then plundered the bar for a pink stocking hat. On him it looked like a head condom. Matt laughed, and it was about time.

3

It seemed like an eternity before The Cavern filled up. We drank in near silence except for the occasional comment on the decorations, but how long can you talk about balls — well, the glass kind, at least? I now thought that Matt’s shyness would dampen the evening, but every time I thought to steer us around and exit past Gus the Bouncer, another acquaintance would pop through the vestibule and under the stalagmites. Things became lively when the Leather Santa arrived — ho ho ho. He was in red-coated leather from top to waist, and then wore lacey leggings with his ass hanging out the back, as any appropriate Leather Santa should. His beard was not the fake department store variety. It was real and as white as . . . well you get the idea. When he bounced through the foyer, his pack of porn calendars on his back, the place exploded in laughter. Christmas was here at last. Even Matt roared at the sight. Although, how much was soulful glee and how much Corona with lime, I couldn’t fathom.
“C’mon,” I said, pulling Matt off his too permanent stool.
“What? Where?”
“The back bar. Santa wants to take a picture of us.”
“I don’t photograph well.”
“Hell. We all look like shit when sitting on Leather Santa’s lap.”
A queue had already formed and the music had changed to Deck the Hall with Balls of Folly.
“And what should Santa bring you, little boy?”
I giggled, Santa’s bony knee up my ass, and Matt blushing on the other knee.
“A vacuum broom. And it better have all the attachments.”
Flash.
“Oh, attachments,” Santa roared. “And what might you be doing with those attachments?”
“Never you mind,” I said, standing abruptly — so abruptly, Santa’s other knee gave way, Matt sliding to the floor, his cowboy hat flying off. Mother retrieved it. She donned it and on her, it was the stuff of nightmares.
“Did you lose this?” she asked.
Matt’s good spirits fled. He snapped it off Mother’s head, brushed it off (the hat, not the head) and rushed back to the front bar. I shrugged, and then followed.
I fully expected that he would be gone. Why do I pick these guys? Where did they come from? I gather them like moss on a log.
I got to the edge of the empty dance floor, and then halted. My flighty Texan hadn’t fled. In fact, he seemed as companionable as ever at the bar and with  . . . Russ, who flitted in the shadow of Customer Chris, who from a distance bookmarked the stalagmites.
“Is that your date du jour?” came a voice, a rather masculine voice. I knew it couldn’t be one of my fairy companions.
“Of course that’s our Martin’s latest squeeze,” came a silkier voice.
I turned. It was my favorite ladies, if ladies you could call them — Ginger and Leslie. We hugged. Ginger, she of the deep voice and butch hair and beer belly, was less a hug than a tackle. However, Leslie’s stylish coif tickled my nose. I had known these two forever — or at least it seemed so. They both sang in the Errata Erastes Choir — Leslie a soprano — Ginger, bass.
“Which one?” Ginger asked. “The tall drink of water or the cowboy?”
“That’s no question,” Leslie said. “The cowboy. We didn’t bring our Martin up to use a stepladder in bed. Besides, he’s more Russ’ type. Right?”
“Correct, you are,” I chirped.
“Well, he’s cute,” Ginger said.
“Like you would know,” Leslie chimed in. “If he had tits, you might dance a hoe down there, but he’s definitely mucho macho, with that shadowy chin and those . . .”
“Dreamy eyes,” I said. “But I’m afraid he’s broken.”
Ginger tugged my waist, nearly breaking my back.
“They’re all defective.”
“At least, the ones you’ve picked up.”
“Standard fare for you, Martin dear.”
“Why should you be surprised?”
I pulled away.
“Stop it. It’s Christmas and I won’t be denied my New Year’s broken heart.”
“So you’re getting all the way to New Years?” Ginger asked.
“Shush, Ginger,” Leslie said. “He’s been known to get as far as Three King’s Day.”
They roared, but went suddenly demure, gathering me close.
Queens at ten o’clock,” Ginger said.

I followed her finger, and sure as hell, in came three of the most obnoxious members of the Jersey Sparrows — from their Pennsylvania nest. Todd Moorehouse, a professional type and snob, his anti-Christ side kick, Padgett Anderson, a hair-dresser of tri-state renown, and Mortimer Levine, an unproduced playwright, although you’d think he was Edward Albee, if you believed what he told you. They strutted into The Cavern as if they were bats and owned the crevices. Guano, I thought. They immediately pranced toward Matt with all the √©lan of Eleanor Roosevelt in New Guinea.

“You should save him,” Ginger said.
“If Todd gets his ear, he won’t be able to hold up that cowboy hat.”
I didn’t need to be told twice. The other chorus members were closing in also. They must have come in a choral caravan. They traipsed across the threshold in duos and trios, all sizes, shapes and degrees of camp. However, my concern was my date. I wouldn’t mind Matt joining the chorus, if he could sing, but Todd, Padgett and Mortimer were a troika from the Otterson clan, a rich New Birch entrepreneur, who, in my personal opinion, should stay in Oz and await a house to fall on him. I had my experiences with that coven. I got to the bar just as Todd opened his chubby mouth.
“Todd,” I said.
Padgett flanked me, and then reached behind toward Matt.
“Who do we have here?” Paddy asked.
Matt was talking about life in Melrose with Chris the Customer, but Padgett interrupted him mid-sentence. Matt stammered.

“Christmas,” Mortimer said. “Bah, humbug.”
“Just because we only sang one Chanukah carol at the concert, you’ve become a bitter queen.”
“Become?” Paddy echoed.
“And I was going to buy you a drink,” Mort said.
“That would be the day,” came a rugged voice. Ginger.
“Ah, the bulldogs are here.”
Ginger growled, while Leslie chuckled.
“But no one answered my question?” Paddy complained.
“Why we only sang one Chanukah song? They’re not called carols.”
“No.” Padgett turned again toward Matt, but Russ stepped into the fray.
“Which one of you knows the line-up?” he asked.
“That would be me,” Todd said.
“Don’t believe him. The only line-up he knows was after that raid in Baghdad.”

“Now, don’t knock it,” Todd said. “Iraq had its moments.”

“Well, if you two don’t know,” Russ said.
Todd and Padgett gave each other their usual withering glance. I never understood them. They were like oil and water, but were inseparable, always feeding off their essential differences. I guess they were a microcosm of the world, and thus we orbit. In either event, they marched to the small dance floor, calling the rest of the choir to attention.
“They’re sure jittery,” Matt said.
“That they are, love.”
I remembered that he smiled, a foam mustache hugging his bristling upper lip. I wanted to lick that foam away. Here was a stranger. They don’t know ya. They don’t wanna know ya. In fact, he was stranger than other strangers that I had met — an out of towner. A professional man. A cowboy and as skittish as a pancake on a grill. Still, I was a sucker for his lips, although we hadn’t locked them together yet. A thought crossed my mind — dump the chorus tonight. They don’t really need my solo. Russ could sing it or Jasper. Jasper was just itching for it.
“Martin,” Padgett called. “Are you a part of this chorus or not?”
Not. But, yeah. And who died and left Padgett director. The director hadn’t arrived, and probably wouldn’t. He often let us sail without him at impromptu gigs.
“I guess you’ve got to line up,” Matt said.
“Do you sing?”
“Like a frog.”
“A bass. Come join us.”
“You’d be sorry. And if I do, not tonight.”
I gazed at the double line that mottled across the dance floor. There they were — Padgett, Todd, Mortimer, John (in full drag), Jasper (hoping, no doubt, that I had a sore throat), Rob and Ron and Ron and Ron (three of them — three too many), Russ and Harry, and Henry, and Brian . . . and Leslie and Ginger. I guessed they were the only Errata Erastes’ here tonight.
“Go,” Matt said, and then he kissed me. It wasn’t much of a kiss and it stunk of Corona with lime, but it gave me hope that I might get as far as Three King’s Day.


Chapter Five

Quiet Moments

1

The first two numbers were a bit off key, but I attributed it to the alcohol and the lack of a director. However, the Silent Night, to which I sang the middle verse, scintillated. Smoke be damned, I still managed to caress each note like an angel come to earth. I closed my eyes during the first measure — no director to watch and the choir would need to follow me with their hum-hummy accompaniment. I knew Jasper wanted to push the background up and thus drown me out, but somehow the other first tenors held him in check. My voice soared, and just as I reached my highest note, I opened my eyes and, through the tobacco haze, I saw him — Matt the cowboy, his eyes hung on my every tone. I even thought he sighed — a true fan, won fair and square.
Suddenly, the crowds disappeared, only he and I, alone and suspended in the midst of this Christmas carol, my voice leading him to a pre-passionate state. I’m not sure whether I could still end the number and return to The Cavern’s cabaret mirth. Still, no song goes on forever. It either finds its cadence or perhaps its coda, but never lingers beyond the last note. As I folded my hands in my ultimate Sleep in Heavenly Peace, I somehow knew there would be a last note. I looked forward to the coda.
We ended with a rousing Chanukah number with Leather Santa prancing at the dance floor’s margin and Mother managing something like a hora. Christmas became a Jewish wedding. On the last chord, which might have been the Lost Chord for the Lost Tribe, the Zippilin was let loose across the stage, cawing a strange Bruce Q. Merry Christmas. The DJ struck up Everybody Dance Now and five angels in jock straps hopped forward — three waiters, a bus boy and some new cutie, who I knew not. A general cheer went up as both dance floors were jammed with gyrating merriment.
I waved to Matt to join me. He hesitated, but finally moseyed to the margins, where I picked him off like a carousel ring, pulling him onto the dance floor. Russ and Chris the Customer joined us for a foursome. I was always amused at how gay dancers congeal into this modern version of a reel — sort of a square dance at King Henry’s court, where no one touched, but everyone danced around everyone else. Even Ginger and Leslie vied to make it a sextet crashing through our central core, wiggling their asses with lesbian aplomb.
The set was endless — one of those Black Box numbers designed to burn calories at the gym. The disco ball glittered and the lasers flashed, and all the while, the Zippilin barked or meowed or cawed. Finally, the dance slowed. I got to try my sultry steps out on my cowboy. He wasn’t sultry at all — in fact, he shuffled about like a klutz. But his eyes were glued to me, and that’s all that mattered. So I wiggled my tush and flashed my eyes. We were all smiles, until my friend John cut in.
John was a sweetheart — a petite drag queen, who did shows at The Cavern and other venues. He was a weekend queen, never dressing up for work or at home. He was barely nineteen. So, with his baby face, in drag he was a butter pat on an English muffin — all nooks and crannies. Bring the Strawberry jam in, please. When John slipped between us, Matt shuddered. I had a feeling that the drag queen phobia might erupt, and I wasn’t far from wrong. I mean, Matt didn’t throw up or anything, but his shuffle became a syncopated walk. His hands went crabby and he glanced at the bar as if the Coronas were calling him to shore.
Finally, John began to brush against me and then Matt. I should have known better and discouraged it, but I’m a natural flirt. I increased my swish and soon John and I were in full swagger — girls on the patio sort of thing. Matt stopped still, his face drawn — deep disappointment. Then he fled, but not as I supposed to the bar, but to the back room.
“What’s with him?” John asked. “Jealousy bone?”
“I don’t know, hon. I don’t think so.”
John grabbed me about the waist, and then grinded.
“He should lighten up.”
“I think he has a problem with hot mamas, like you.”
John released me and stopped his routine.
“He’s from out of town,” I explained.
“From Mars, maybe.”
“Now, Johnny, be good. He’s my try-out Christmas model.”
John raised his hands high as if to serve the cheese or the Baptist’s head.
“You’d do better with anyone else here, sweet Martin.”
I looked about the dance floor. These were my sisters, not my lovers. True I had been frisky with many of them, but then they were stuffed back in the pack and drawn out only for color and snappy conversation. I spied that boor, Todd Moorehouse, and shuddered. Now this would be the only new frontier, and I’d rather slit my wrists than be intimate with any of the Roy Otterson crowd. No, my sisters were my friends, not my lovers.
“I suppose I should see where he’s off to,” I said, shrugging.
“If you must,” John said. “But if he’s fallen down a sewer drain, I’ll be here waiting.”
“You never wait long, Sis,” I said, and then darted toward the back bar.

2

The boom-boom-boom of the dance floor fell into the background as I explored the back bar. I knew everyone there, so it was difficult to maneuver through the holiday greetings, as slurred as they were. The jock strapped angels were flirting about, serving their drinks, and I believe a bit more, especially that Bobby, who managed to balance his tray despite the many crotch grabs he was enjoying. Working for tips could be rewarding, I thought. The other cutie was also doing well, managing the camera for the Leather Santa crowd. I guess his name was Branch, because there were plenty of Branch, get this shot, and Branch, bend over and shoot this one between your legs. Still, I didn’t see a cowboy hat in the crowd.
“Russ.” He was easy to find, given the bookmark Customer Chris, whose head scraped the stalagmites. “Have you seen . . .”
“The Midnight Cowboy?”
He cocked his head toward the volleyball court. I sighed. It was friggin’ cold outside, but I didn’t want to get my coat. Still, I was obliged to look.
The volleyball court was strange that night — empty and a baffle for the music. The jollity from the shack echoed across the hollow of this solitary spot. Crouched on the sidelines was my cowboy, his head between his legs, eyes racked on folded arms. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure this man out. No amount of phobia could produce such a reaction, unless he was on something and I hadn’t detected the dosage.
I sauntered over, towering above him. He didn’t move, so I hunkered down, and whispered in his ears.
“Noise too much for you?”
He shook his head, never raising it. This was going to be fun. Merry Christmas, Martin.
“Well, too much beer in your tummy then, I supposed.”
He sniffed, raising his head. Those sea-blue eyes were cushioned in vermilion.
“I’m sorry,” he said with his soft drawl. “I guess I’m not ready for fun and games.”
“Not ready?”
He grasped my shoulders, and then hugged me.
“Hold me, will ya.”
Since he was holding me, I guess I had no choice. Still, I felt his heart beating on my chest.
“What wrong?” I muttered. “What’s upset you? Was it John?”
“Yes, actually.”
“He didn’t mean anything, you know. He’s always flirting with me. We’re just sisters.”
“No,” Matt said. “That’s not it. It’s that he reminds me of . . . someone.”
News at eleven. There was someone else — someone gone or left behind.
“That’s okay,” I said. “You don’t need to tell me.”
I really didn’t want to know, but it looked like the time was ripe, or at least the Coronas primed to the appropriate level.
“You should know,” Matt said.
He stood, helping me to my feet. He seemed better, but marginally so. It was cold and my hands were like ice blocks. I blew on them, but Matt took them into his, warming them, and then guided them into his pocket. That was sweet and provocative, but he wasn’t flirting or easing towards foreplay. He was just keeping my hands warm so he could unburden his heart.
“His name was Luis.”
Was. Past tense.
“Let me guess,” I said. “He was a drag queen.”
“The most beautiful drag queen you could ever set eyes on. He performed at la Chiquita Club in the Melrose, and the boys loved him. But he was mine.”

He sniffed again, and then clenched my hands closer.
“He was soft like . . . like you sorta and had a considerable following. He sang like an angel.”
Like me, sorta. I had a sinking feeling.
“Is that what you’re after,” I said. I collected my hands and did my own warming. “I’m no one’s stand in, you know.”
“No, no,” he said. “That’s not it. I know that people are different and when something is over, it’s over. But Luis was never over in the sense that we broke up.”
“Then he’s waiting for you in the Lone Star State.”

Matt choked.
“I wish he was. Not that I can’t be with anyone else, but Luis is . . . well, he’s . . .”
He couldn’t say it, and he didn’t need to, because I wouldn’t let him.
“Killed him, they did. Bastards.”
“No, no, Matt. It’s okay. You don’t need to go through it. You don’t.”
He bawled, his head buried in my shoulder, his warm tears freezing on my shirt.
“He was such a little performer, he was. He didn’t mean any harm, but he sometimes got into trouble with some of the rougher trade. They’d call him names and he’d toss it right back at them. But that night, they waited for him. They waited and . . .”
“No,” I said. “You’ll not do this to yourself. You’re here with me and on Christmas. I’m the ghost of Christmas Present, and the ghost of Christmas Past needs to stay in the past or you’ll never be free of it.”
“It’s not that easy,” he said. “But . . .”
“Try.”
He sighed. His eyes were cast down onto the court. The thumpa-thumpa-boom-boom of the dance floor rumbled in the night. The laughter from the shack was in a different world. Suddenly, Matt gazed up at me. I think it was in that moment — you know the moment. Rare as it is, sometimes the fates conspire to snare the soul and the heart into a universal song, one without ending . . . never ending — never ended. Never. It was then that I knew that this Christmas gift was more precious than a vacuum broom. I scratched my head with my frozen mitts.
“I’m cold,” he said.
“I’m warmer.” The stars above were beckoning me home. “But we’d be warmer in bed, don’t you think?”
“Do you have one of those down comforters?”
“Genuine Eider,” I said. “An Icelandic beauty.”
“Thank you for your generous offer.”
“It stands only if you can leave Luis . . . outside.”
He shuffled.
“That’ll be hard. Very hard. But, you know, the best part of Luis is inside me. He’d make a great acquaintance, if you let him. He sang like an angel — just like you.”
I grasped his hand. Cold hands in the dark.
“Well, it’s Christmas,” I said. “I guess we can let an angel watch over us.”
Suddenly, an angel appeared at the door. I shuddered, and then laughed. It was a smoking angel in a jock strap — one of The Cavern’s crew — the waiter — Bobby.


To read another excerpt from Look Away Silence, go to September 29, 2009.

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Monday, October 14, 2013

A World Ago: A Navy Man’s Letters Home, 1954-1956 excerpt by Dorien Grey

It's not often one has the chance to become 20 again...

A World Ago: A Navy Man’s Letters Home, 1954-1956 by Dorien Grey chronicles, through one young man's journal and vivid letters to his parents, his life, adventures, and experiences at a magical time. It follows him from being a Naval Aviation Cadet to becoming a “regular” sailor aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga on an eight-month tour of duty in the politically tense Mediterranean Sea.

Learn to fly a plane, to soar, alone, through a valley of clouds, experience a narrow escape from death on a night training flight, and receive the continent of Europe as a 21st birthday gift. Climb down into the crater of Mt. Vesuvius, visit Paris, Cannes, Athens, Beirut, Valencia, Istanbul and places in-between; wander the streets of Pompeii, have your picture taken on a fallen column on the Acropolis, ride bicycles on the Island of Rhodes, experience daily life aboard an aircraft carrier during the height of the cold war—all in the company and through the eyes of a young will-be-writer coming of age with the help of the United States Navy.

A World Ago, currently being narrated as an audiobook, is a rare glimpse into the personal and private world of a young man on the verge of experiencing everything the world has to offer—and discovering a lot about himself in the process.

A World Ago: A Navy Man's Letters Home, 1954-1956
Untreed Reads (April 8, 2013)
ISBN: 9781611875416

Excerpt: (letter written to his parents describing his being released from the Naval Aviation Cadet program)

13 July, 1955

Dear Dad

---And so ends the short & not too tragic career of a would-be Naval Aviator. The “stationery” is filched from the Jackets Office, where I am now sitting awaiting a trip to the Admiral tomorrow morning.

In a way I feel quite bad, & yet in another I am quite relieved. At least now, barring a war or act of God, I shall be sure of getting out of the service alive. And just think―a year from this October I’ll be a civilian again!

A Speedy board, I think I’ve told you, is a contraction for Special Pilots’ Disposition Board. This board is composed of the Captain, a Commander, & other assorted Lt. Commanders & such―a total of five men.

I, with five other guys, was ordered to report before the Captain at 1000 Tuesday, 12 July (the night before, I’d seen a movie called Black Tuesday). The captain’s office is located in the Administration Building―the last room on the right in the center corridor. Outside his office is a long grey bench, typical of Naval furniture design. Here we sat. One by one we were called into the office. Each guy would be in there about ten minutes, then he would come outside while the board debated his case. They then would call him back & give him the verdict.

On one side of me sat a young ensign, who would get up frequently & walk up & down the passageway on pretext of getting a drink, or looking outside at the rain, which has been falling intermittently for four days. On the other side sat a fellow NavCad whose shirt, from under each armpit to well below each pocket, was the dark olive drab of wet khaki.

Farther on down sat a guy who wants to DOR, calmly (or apparently so) reading a pocket novel. I also was reading from a book of short stories.

One by one they went in, to come out minutes later, go back in, & come out once more, giving the thumbs up signal. Finally the field was narrowed to three―the DOR, the ensign, & me. The ensign remarked “I guess they’re saving the best for last.” The DOR was next. When he came out he told us that they had been highly indignant & tried to get him to stay in, saying that “well, we made it & everyone else makes it―why can’t you?” Hmmmmmmmm. He was forwarded to the Admiral, however.

That left the ensign & me. I knew who was going to be last, but I hoped I’d be wrong & get it over with. In between the dismissal of one & the calling of another into the office, there would be a five minute interval while they reviewed the jacket (wherein are all the records of the student since pre-flight) of the next person.

Sure enough, in goes the ensign. Well, at least now I knew that I was bound to be next, since there wasn’t anyone else.

The ensign got a down―he had wrecked an airplane while at Whiting Field, & had three downs here. He was to be given a depth-perception test before being sent to the Admiral.

And then it was my turn! I was completely over being nervous by this time; either than or in that state of nothing that lies just beyond nervousness. Major Keim, a marine & Saufley’s safety officer, called me in. (“Margason?” “Yes, sir.”) From the corridor you walk directly into the Captain’s office―no vestibule or small office between. On the floor was a thick blue or green carpet. Behind the Captain’s desk, in the center of the room, were two large windows, flanked by American flags. Around the room were leather sofas & lounge chairs, with a small table or two between them. Directly in front of the Captain’s desk is a green leather lounge chair. Major Keim said “Stand at attention beside the chair,” which I did, looking straight ahead, out through the venetian blinds of one of the windows. The Captain said “Sit down, Mr. Margason,” & I sat. The Captain is a thin man, almost gaunt, with greying hair & an almost mean look about his face, which is deceiving.

Mr. Margason, you are before this board today because you have failed to meet the standard requirements set up by this field. You have received unsatisfactory marks on your F-4, F-4 re-check, & F-12. You are a below average student & show no signs of improvement….” And so on. After the run-down, the Captain said “We are going to ask you several questions―you may feel free to say whatever you wish.”

The questions came fast & furious, mostly from a Commander who sat on the Captain’s left, in the corner of the room. They started with “Why do you want to fly?” To which I answered that I always had, but there was no one reason. “Are you interested in mechanics?” I answered that I understood all the basic principles necessary, but that as for a desire or talent for taking engines apart or putting them back together, I had no great attraction.

Do you drive a car?” “Do you have any brothers or sisters?” “Do you try to think in a coordinated, analytical way?” I said I tried to.

When it came Major Keim’s turn, he said “You realize, of course, that you have set a new mark in below averages in headwork?” No, I didn’t. “The record up until this time was 32―you have 38. After 16 you aren’t average, after 24 you’re far below average, & after 27 we start watching you.” The Captain interrupted to ask how many I’d gotten here at Saufley & was told six, which he remarked was a big difference. Asked why I got so many, I said that I try to do things right, & when I make a mistake, I get irritated with myself & consequently make more mistakes. Also that I learn some things slowly.

You realize, of course,” continued Major Keim, “that the Navy works on a time basis―we only have so much time we can give. Do you think you would be a detriment to the Navy?” I said I most certainly would not try to be, & that all I could do was to try my best. After more questions of a similar nature they told me to wait outside.

Rather than try to repeat the long, court-martial sounding verdict, I will say simply that I got a down. After taking all things into consideration, the facts that I learned slowly, had had bad luck at Corry, & all, they were afraid they would have to forward my case to the Admiral. One of them said “Do you feel a little better now?” And I said “Not particularly, sir.” The captain said “You have a very good attitude,” & I said “Thank you, sir.” “If you have no further questions, that is all.” “Thank you, sir,” I stepped one step backward with my left foot, did an about-face on my right, opened the door, & went out into the hall….

Your Banished but undamaged son
Roge

Another excerpt from A World Ago, view April 15, 2013
Currently being narrated as an audiobook
To purchase from Untreed Reads, click http://store.untreedreads.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=80&products_id=916
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Monday, October 7, 2013

Deadly Slumber by Victor J Banis


In Deadly Slumber by Victor Banis (now available as an audio book) The House of the Dead is a mortuary whose directors are drop dead gorgeous and terminally horny-and one of them up to mischief. Stanley and Tom try to separate the naturally dead from the murdered dead and find themselves awash with coffins-until they come to the one with Stanley's name on it. Deadly Slumber indeed.

Deadly Slumber (#4 in the Deadly Mystery Series)
MLR Press (August 2009)
ISBN: 978-1-60820-090-0 (print)
978-1-60820-091-7 (ebook)

Excerpt:
The casket, still on its conveyor belt, had paused outside a steel door in the crematory. Horace raised the door with a chain and sprocket pulley. Blistering waves of heat poured into the room from within the furnace. He touched another switch, and the casket again moved forward and fell with a thump onto the firebrick floor within the furnace.
Horace lowered the door with a clang and a clatter. The controls sat on a small console just to the side of the door. He stood before them and worked a valve. They heard a little explosion within the furnace as the fire ignited, followed by a prolonged hiss of a gas jet.
"Come," he said. He put a hand on Stanley's shoulder and guided him to one of two porthole like windows in the side of the crematory. Stanley stared through it with morbid fascination, wanting to see and not wanting to see at the same time, while Horace adjusted the controls.
As Stanley stared through the glass, fire filled the interior of the furnace, dancing and leaping and looking like something from the end of time, hellish tongues of flame that had already in those few seconds charred the wood of the coffin, peeling it away from itself like the rind being stripped from a burning orange.
"At first, we use gas," Horace explained, speaking in a monotone as if he were lecturing a roomful of students. And perhaps, Stanley thought, he had done that in the past. "We need to build the heat up to a thousand degrees or so. Then we introduce the oil. In the old days, they used the oil alone, but it makes smoke. When folks see the smoke coming out of the chimney, they complain, they think they can smell the bodies burning, although of course they can't. So, we use gas to begin, and the science, the art if you will, is in getting just the right blend when we introduce the oil. Enough heat, and no smoke."
Stanley wanted to look away from the inferno beyond the thick glass of the window, but his eyes remained riveted. He started when the lid of the coffin suddenly seemed to vanish. One minute it was still there, charred but intact, and the next, the lid and the sides as well just disappeared, consumed by the fire, and there was the body of Molly O'Neil. Or so he supposed. Already, it would have been impossible to say for certain.
Stanley's gut turned over. He wanted to look away, and found that he couldn't. Some horrible fascination held him in thrall. It was like watching one of the old horror movies as a child; you knew what was coming, you wanted to look away or close your eyes, but you continued to gape at the screen regardless.
"I'm going to turn on the oil now and shut off the gas," Horace said, in his same matter-of-fact voice. "In no time flat, the heat will reached twenty five hundred degrees or more. It will burn up everything. There will be nothing left. Oh, maybe a few bone chips. Insignificant, really."
He adjusted his valves and the flames became more yellow than red. Stanley glanced sideways at Horace. He was rapt, his attention fully engaged in the display within. He appeared to be enjoying himself immensely.
"Ah," he said, with a note of satisfaction.
Stanley looked through the porthole again. The flesh had all but burned away from the body within, revealing the bones beneath. They looked eerily white and clean. The ribs seemed to dance as he watched, violet colored fingers of flame jetting from their tips.
Suddenly the skull fell free, dropped to the floor and rolled underneath Stanley's window. A trail of something he did not even want to put a name to escaped from its sockets and sizzled briefly on the floor. Molly O'Neil—what was left of her—seemed to leer up at Stanley accusingly. He put a hand out to one metal-sheathed wall to steady himself. The bones beyond the window had begun to crumble now. Even the skull had disappeared.
"Molly's gone, Stanley," Horace said, his voice sounding to Stanley as if it came from a great distance. "There's nothing left of her, nothing at all, nothing that you could really call Molly. It's as if she never even existed."
"Ashes," Stanley said around the bile rising in his mouth.
"Those? Just soot. Really. It's the perfect way to dispose of a body. Remember that the next time you kill someone. Afterward, there's no way, even, to say who it had been."
"No DNA?"
"Not in that." He made a dismissive gesture toward the furnace. "Just a few oxides. Oxides of sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, a trace of magnesium. All of it inorganic. All the organic matter has burned away. The DNA with it."
Stanley might have fallen, his legs had grown so weak. "Ah, now, no fainting," Horace said. He stepped quickly behind Stanley. "It had to be, you see. No one will know what happened to her. This too was pre-ordained. Molly had to disappear, once she'd served her purpose. She just vanished, the same way Alice vanished. Here one moment and, the next, poof."
Stanley didn't need to point out that he knew what had happened to Molly. Almost certainly Horace did not intend to leave him behind as a witness.
"I don't," Stanley said, starting to turn around, and saw that Horace had a small bottle in one hand and a cloth in the other. Stanley tried to step back, but he was against the metal wall of the furnace, nowhere to go, and he felt weak from what he had just witnessed.
Horace moved quickly. He clamped the damp cloth, smelling sickly sweet, over Stanley's mouth and nose.
Ether. Stanley gasped, surprised, and in doing so breathed deeply, and felt as if his lungs were suddenly on fire. He brought his own hands up, trying to claw at the hands holding the cloth to his face, but he had reacted too slowly and the ether was acting too swiftly. Already the room was beginning to darken. In another moment, his legs gave out and he sank into the arms waiting for him.
* * *
Stanley woke slowly. Even when his eyes fluttered reluctantly open, he was still in darkness, total darkness. He lay for a moment, trying to comprehend, blinking. No glimmer of light penetrated the enveloping blackness. He'd never seen a darkness so complete.
He tried to sit up, but he could raise his head only slightly before it banged against something solid above him. He could barely move at all, in fact.
His hands were folded across his chest. He put them out to his sides. Again, he could move them no more than an inch or two before his fingertips touched cushioned silk. He reached up, and felt silk there too.
At first, he could not understand. Or, would not. The reality of his situation was so horrible, his mind did not want to accept it. He lay unmoving, trying not to think, trying not to accept the truth of where he so obviously was.
Recognition would not stay away, however. He knew. Knew and did not want to accept the truth: He was in a coffin. His breath seemed to crowd into his throat. This couldn't be real. Surely it was only a nightmare, from which he would awaken any minute now.
"Wake up, Stanley," he told himself, actually mouthing the words aloud. "Wake up, damn you. Now."
Even as he said the words, however, he knew this was no figment of his dreams.
He lifted his shaking hands again, tried to shove the lid away, but it did not budge. Not just in a coffin, then—sealed in a coffin.

For another excerpt from Deadly Slumber, see August 1, 2011

http://www.vjbanis.com

To purchase the ebook from MlrBooks, click http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=DEADLYSL