Author Lorelei Bell, welcomes you! Vampires are my addiction, I assume they are yours as well. Come and journey with me to the darker shadows, where the vampires lurk, watching us, waiting for us weak humans...

The journey awaits, come!

Monday, February 28, 2011


Here are some teasers for the first 9 stories in the Anthology!

K.K. has written some great introductions and has selected for your examination some cool excerpts!


The remaining story teasers and excerpts will be presented next week! Here goes:


The monstrously addictive power of crack cocaine lies in the intensity—and the brevity—of the high. Within a matter of moments, you’re back to normal again (or as close to ‘normal’ as anyone on crack ever gets) and ready for more. It’s also relatively cheap—per dose-- and doesn’t seem to eat your money as fast as it does, so one month you’re paying cash for it, the next month you’re selling your last remaining pair of shoes for it. One of my best friends, when he lived in Tampa, told me a story of how a thin, wasted man desperately asked him at a 7-11 to buy a bloodstained baby’s blanket for five dollars.

For better or for worse, crack seems to have fallen off the national radar or it’s been eclipsed by that other breakfast of champions, crystal meth. Or a prediction has come true…one authority on drugs called the crack epidemic, ‘A self-cleaning oven’, meaning: ‘In a few years there won’t be a crack epidemic, because everyone who keeps using crack will be dead.’

Or, as imagined by the amazing John Shirley, WORSE than dead…


By John Shirley

8:45 P.M., Saturday Night, West Oakland, California
Dwayne was sick of hearing Uncle Garland talk. The old man would talk about Essy and he would talk about the dope and he would talk about grindin’, about everything but his own goddamn drinking. Sitting in that busted wheelchair at the kitchen table, talking and sipping that Early Times. Talking shit about his angel dreams, too. One more word about the dope. . .

But Dwayne tolerated more than just one more word, because he needed Uncle Garland. He needed a place to stay and some place to run to. So he just sat and listened while he waited for Essy to get up, waited for Essy to get them started again. Essy in the next room, had to crash for awhile, been two hours already. Fuck it. Dwayne could taste rock at the back of his tongue; smell it high in his nostrils. All in the imagination.

The TV was on, with the sound turned off. A rerun of a show with that guy used to be in Taxi. Tony something.

“You listening to me, Dwayne?” Uncle Garland demanded, scratching his bald pate with yellowed fingers. His rheumy eyes looking at Dwayne and not seeing him. Moving with less life than the TV screen. Blind. The old man was blind, but that was easy to forget, somehow.

“Can’t hardly not listen, you talking all the time,” Dwayne said.

“The dope killing this town, it be killing our people,” Garland was saying. “Killing the black man. I’m fixin’ to go the Next World, and I’m glad to be goin’, Praise Jesus, with the devil eating this world like a pie. . .” Didn’t pause to take a breath.

Uncle Garland’s place was an apartment in the Projects, in the shadow of the freeway that collapsed in the ‘89 earthquake. Used to be you heard the freeway booming and rushing all night. Now it was eerie quiet. Or quiet as it ever got in the Projects.

“Tell you some true now,” Uncle Garland said, using the expression that always prefaced a long, long lecture. “These are the end times, that the Lord’s truth. In my angel dreams, they come to me and tell me it’s so. And it’s on the news, about the dead people rising. It’s in the Bible, son, when the dead rise it’s a Sign that the Lord is coming for Judgment —”


Food, Glorious FOOD! How do we love thee? (Really, how can we NOT, since every little innocent Oreo cookie has 14 various ‘appetite inducers’.)

Let the legendary F. Paul Wilson’s “Topsy” count the ways…


By F. Paul Wilson

I’m inna middle a chewin on dis giant lasagne noodle when Nurse Delores appears.

“Morning, Topsy!” she says as she marches inta da room in her white uniform.

Dey call me Topsy.

Don’t ax why dey call me dat. My name’s Bruno. But evybody here calls me Topsy.

“Oh, no!” she says. “You’ve been eating your sheets again!”

I look down an see she’s right. My sheets is all chewed up. I guess dat weren’t no giant lasagne noodle after all.

God I’m hungry.

“Ready for breakfast?” she says all bright an cheery.

Course I’m ready for breakfast—I’m dyin for breakfast—but I don’t say nuttin. Cause what dey call breakfast here ain’t. Ain’t lunch or dinner neither. Just liquid. Not even a shake. I amember when I useta eat diet shakes. Useta drink ten a dem fa breakfast. An anotha ten fa coffee break. Dey’re junk. I neva lost weight on dem. Not once.

But no shakes round here. Just dis clear glop. An here she comes wit a whole glass of it.

“Here, Topsy. Open your mouth and drink this,” she says, all Mary Sunshine poikiness.

If my hands wasn’t strapped to da side of da bed I’d grab her an make her drink it herself an see how much she likes dat shit.

She tilts da glass toward my lips but I turn away.

“Come on, Topsy,” she says. “I know you don’t like it, but it’s this or nothing.”


“Come on, Topsy. Do it for Lenore. Don’t be mad at me. The protein hydrosylate isn’t my idea. It’s doctor’s orders. And it’s working. You’re down to twelve hundred and thirty pounds now.”

Still I don’t open.

“Come on, baby. It’s this or go hungry. Open up.”

Sometimes she calls me baby, but dat don’t make it taste better, believe me.

I open an pretend it’s a milk shake. A big double chocolate praline shake laced wit wet walnuts.

Don’t help. I gag an wanna barf it all ova da place but manage to choke it down. Gotta. It’s all I’ll get til lunch. An dat’ll only be a salad.

God I’m so hungry.

Dey don’t unnerstan aroun here. Don’t seemta realize dat I gotta eat. Dey say dey’re helpin me by stickin needles in my arms an feedin me teeny bits of veggies an barely a moutful of whole grain sumpin-or-otha an dis liquid protein shit, but dey ain’t helpin. Ain’t helpin me one bit.

Guy’s gotta eat.

Useta be so good when my brotha Sal an his wife Marie was takin care a me. I was happy den. Dat’s cause dey unnerstood. Dey knew I hadda eat. Boy could dey cook. No limit, man. Anyting I wanted, it was dere on da bed tray soon as I said.

Dey unnerstood me, know’m sayin?


Between “Topsy” and Stephen King’s “Survivor Type”, I blithely assumed that nothing more horrific could be written on the subject of eating disorders. Was I ever wrong. When Lee sent me this story from Scott Goriscak (the author of ‘Wounds’ from the first MASTERS OF HORROR anthology), I wrote back: Oh. My. God.

Fair warning: if you’ve just now finished a decent meal, skip ahead to one of the other stories before reading…


By Scott M. Goriscak

Jake wasn’t the best looking guy in school: he was tall, gaunt, and pale but he could always be found in the middle of a crowded room surrounded by the ladies. His popularity could be attributed to the fact his parents traveled often leaving him home alone, which gave him the perfect opportunity to throw all the parties he wanted; and these gatherings were legendary. Everyone in school quickly gravitated to the young man for this very reason. His parties replaced the empty void that used to be—a weekend at home replaced with a place to go and socialize with their classmates. They thought that Jake was great for providing his classmates a haven for them to gather, party, and socialize. He was the perfect host, greeting everyone at the front door of his house armed with cold mugs of beer in his hands, a table brimming with food, and an endless selection of beautiful ladies. This may have seemed like the perfect way to spend the evening but Jake had ulterior motives for hosting these gatherings.

Tonight was no different. The music was loud and the beer was flowing freely. The ladies moved provocatively on the dance floor as the alcohol pickled their inhibitions. Jake roamed the party filling empty glasses and serving food—the perfect host. After he made his rounds Jake would always return to the company of the ladies, sometimes expanding on his duties if one of them needed to have her hair held back as she vomited in the community puke barrel.

The puke barrel was the one rule that guests were required to obey. All party-goers, new or veteran, needed to know what it was, where it was, and why it existed. It was a fifty gallon barrel that resided on the patio. If anyone was going to be sick they were expected to use the barrel and not the bathroom. The bathroom was farther away than the open back door. The party-goers didn’t seem to have an issue with the only rule of the party. They had been to too many parties before where the person attempting make it to the bathroom ended up either christening everything on the way or showered the bathroom in vomit. This rule was a small concession to abide by in exchange for a place to have a good time. It was easy to relate to their host’s concerns since they had either witnessed someone or had been that anxious person at a previous party running across the crowded room in search of the restroom. Some parties when Jake wasn’t hanging with the women he was out back watching over the puke barrel. Most people thought this was his way to make sure that no one dumped the horrible swill across the patio. At one party a few volunteers decided to help clean up after everyone went home and while moving the heavy barrel they accidently spilled it. Jake looked both angry and tearful at the sight of the gelatinous soup splashing across the patio into the grass. Thinking that they were responding properly to their clumsiness they grabbed a garden hose and flooded the surface to wash the remainder of the smelly fluid from settling into the brick and sand. Jake fought to hold back the tears as he watched the fruits of his labors wash away. He was careful to never let that happen again. At the end of each party he refused any and all offers to help clean up, tonight was no different. As he was escorting everyone out the front door he would politely turn down any offer of help until the last person exited and he closed the door behind them. This is the time of the night that Jake looked forward to. He walked outside to the barrel on the patio. There he stood looking down into the half filled barrel of foam, lumps of food and beer. His mouth watered.


Is there anyone more prone to substance abuse than rock ‘n rollers? Possibly, but perhaps it’s just not as widely publicized. Keith Richards once remarked that “musicians don’t necessarily get started on drugs because they’re all plentiful and fun—or that they seem entitled to them. A lot of times it’s because you’re in Des Moines one night and you have to be in Chicago the next, all pumped and ready to go.”

Or, as Ken Goldman writes, there might be another reason.


By Ken Goldman

Grinding his axe in the heaviest balls-out band on the charts had not significantly altered bassist Zacherly Cooper’s pursuit of the young BaddAss groupies, although the thrill of the hunt had long since disappeared. There was no question that he would be bumping bones with the young girls following every concert during the BaddAss KickkAss Tour 2K1; there remained only the uncertainty of how much aggravation this latest cooz pot would cause when time came to toss her butt out of his hotel room.

“You fuck like you play—pissed,” the nubile blonde informed him as she squirmed back into a silk thong so thin the bassist could have flossed with it. During their time in bed her smiles of pleasure had faded in inverse proportion to her tolerance for pain. “I’m just glad you’re not into Pete Townshend or you might have broken me against the goddamned headboard.”

The girl got that part right. Zacherly felt pissed enough to do much worse than providing some groupie a shitty fuck. The band had fallen on hard times since its lead guitarist chewed the muzzle of his .38. Almost as disastrous were the media’s talking heads who asserted that the surviving BaddAss members had lost it the night Raymond ‘Kinky’ Wisznewski offed himself. One MTV asswipe claimed Zacherly Cooper was fooling himself if he expected there might be a second act in his future.

On the warm April evening that was Kinky’s last, some clever cop covering the crime scene remarked that the effect of Wisznewski’s shattered brains on the wall of his hotel suite looked like a dripping Rorschach painted in gray matter. Zack personally felt his buddy’s splatters resembled the finger paintings of a zoo ape, but he had been high enough to swear to reporters that he had witnessed the Holy Virgin’s image dripping down the blood soaked wall. Having lost his best friend as well as his meal ticket, the BaddAss bassist immediately scored the best weed in the western hemisphere, intending to keep himself eight miles high for many months to come. With enough reefer to choke a horse Zacherly Cooper’s agenda was to disappear behind a thick wall of smoke. In the world of heavy metal this passed for grief.

Wisznewski would forever be a tough act to follow. How could any mortal hope to produce a metallic mindfuck like the opening bars of his classic “Saint Damnation”?

“A fallen man, lost and alone, I discovered an angel dusting the streets of hell.

Curse me Father, for I wish to sin . . .”

Cooper knew better than to compete with lyrics like these, but his career as a solo act would need a jump start if he intended to pick up the dropped gauntlet of his band mate.

You fuck like you play…

The girl didn’t mean that as a compliment.

And what if he played like he fucked? What if there were no second act?


Having lived in Las Vegas for many years, I’d seen the lure of gambling seduce and destroy many normally decent people first-hand. In an effort to appeal to their logic, I’d tell them: “Look at the Strip. There’s a Castle, there’s a Pyramid, there are replicas of New York and Paris. Do you think they built those by GIVING MONEY AWAY?” When you hear the expression “Easy Money”, do yourself a favor and entertain the notion there may be no such thing.

Now, observe as Ryan Willox takes the phenomenon to another level altogether.

A Kiss for the Damned

By Ryan Willox

Martin had been running for the past fifteen minutes and his legs were tiring. If he stopped for a single breath they would be on him. He had evaded them for too long to simply let them overrun him, so he struggled on.

His legs felt heavier by the second and urged him to give up but if he looked back he would succumb because seeing them again, whatever they were, would break his resolve.

As Martin raced down King Street he recalled his last sighting of his hunters only minutes before and how inconspicuous they had looked in their bland, pale colored T-shirts and nerdy shorts.

A casual observer would have thought nothing of them, but then a casual observer wouldn’t have realized they weren’t—right. He hoped that his recent glance back at them would be the last time he would see them - the terror that it wouldn’t be kept him going.

Freewheeling down another steep gradient, distancing himself still further, he then leapt up the steps of the Central Station railway bridge in the heart of the town, taking then two at a time in order to finish this agonizing pursuit.

While running on the bridge, he looked up at the sky and saw one of the most beautiful sunsets he had ever witnessed. The sun was a brilliant blood red and the almost cloudless sky around it was an explosion of purples, deep crimson, and oranges all merging together.

As he ran, with his paisley tie flapping wildly and his white shirt sticking to him through perspiration, he supposed that, if this was to be the last sunset he would ever see, it would be the finest.

Soon the bridge was out of sight and he was running towards home. Despite a deep centered reservation about doing so, Martin glanced over his shoulder and was more relieved than he could ever hope to express when he didn’t see anyone giving chase.

After a chase that seemed endless, he got to the apartment block he called home.

Standing with his back to the door so that he could keep watch, he searched frantically in his pockets for his keys. He discovered them in the front left pocket of his trousers and, within seconds, he fell inside and lay on the cold stone hallway. Despite his aching limbs he forced himself to get up and go to his apartment because he would only be safe when he was inside. Battling exhaustion, Martin crawled up the stairs to his front door.

After kicking the door shut he lay in the cooling dark. His exhaustion was all- consuming and he found he had neither the will, nor the strength to get up; therefore he made only a cursory attempt at resistance as he slipped into unconsciousness on the floor.


Normally, Halfway Houses and Rehabilitation Centers start out rough—’kicking cold’, scrubbing toilets, re-learning ‘people skills’, baring your soul to addicts even scarier than yourself—and then get better.

Not in Carole Gill’s world, though.

Big House

By Carole Gill

Addicts ‘r us, messed up losers—you know the kind: cokeheads, overeaters, serious self harmers, suicide groupies, sex addicts—each of them so completely fucked up they finally end up in a kind of terminal rehab center--which is what this place was.

Yes, the Big House gave such places free reign to run themselves as they saw fit. They were, after all, evaluation centers to review the clients’ varying addictions and to best access what the next step was. That was what Executive Management said; what they did, however, was another matter.

Joe knew. He had taken the job happily, ages ago…but now he found his second thoughts had third, fourth and fifth thoughts.

But there was worse, there always is.

Joe sighed. He was Director, Houseman, whatever anyone wanted to call it—that was okay with him. In truth, he ran the place—this waystation, recovery home, haven, care facility.

Actually, he thought of it as ‘losers ‘r us.’ The place where the lost, the hopeless, the monumentally fucked up finally end up—in short it was the repository for addicts. He ran the men’s section.

He saw the new batch arrive in the van nicknamed Pegasus. Someone with a misplaced sense of humor named it that because if that horse flew, these poor bastards were now to be grounded for an indeterminate time (to say the least).

As always, Joe welcomed them: “We are going to sort you out--to evaluate you and send you on your way. It’s not so bad…you’ll see.”

“What do you mean, ‘we’? I just see you, man.”

Ah, trouble right away…and in the shape of a skinny little kid with attitude.

Scott, recent jailbird and dull-eyed wonder at 19, was not impressed. “This place sucks!”

“But you just got here! Give us time!”

Scott let loose a stream of abuse but Joe wasn’t bothered. “Your nose is bleeding, Scott.”

“How do you know my name?”

“We get briefed.”

“Yeah, so what does that make me?”

It was always the same. “It makes you putty in the system’s hands, kid, better get used to it.”

“Look, the judge told me he was sending me here, and that was it.”

“Which judge was that, Scott?”

“I don’t know—Judge Minos or something…the one I just saw. What’s it to you anyway?”

A murmur of laughter from the other losers and Scott looks proud of himself.

No one says anything. The only reaction is from Albert who deliberately lets one monumental fart rip as a kind of comment.

“That’s disgusting!” This they nearly all respond to—waving their hands in front of their faces. “Christ almighty!”

Albert didn’t laugh—he was the most seriously disturbed. He wore bracelets on both his wrists these were the white dressings that covered his most recent suicide attempt: even his scars had scars. Poor Al.

Joe knew. He had the notes. Predestination came into it. In Al’s case he had a crazy mother who tried to drown him when he was ten.

“Why did you do that, Mrs. Fugle?”

“The voices told me, your honor. Blame them!”


Unlike most quasi- illegal substances, steroids have helped people; they’re prescribed for several different medical conditions—in fact they’re one of the only methods of alleviating them, at present—and they do enable athletes and bodybuilders to attain nearly superhuman levels of achievement. I’m personally baffled by the attitudes sports authorities have towards steroid use: “They used STEROIDS to hit those thousand home runs!” I think, “Aren’t you PAYING them these endless millions to HIT a thousand home runs? Hell, GIVE them steroids, let ‘em use them all they want!”

As long as they’re prepared to ‘pay the piper’, of course. And when that piper is my man Keith Gouveia…LOOK OUT.


By Keith Gouveia

Let me start by taking a moment to apologize to the world. I feel as though the cataclysmic events that have unfolded in the last couple of weeks are my fault.

Maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself. I just watched another news broadcast stating that there is pandemonium in the streets of Hartford, Connecticut. The infestation is spreading and, as their numbers increase, our chances of survival diminish.

I am locked away inside my home in Fall River, Massachusetts. I thought I was safe, until my confines were reduced to my master bedroom. At least I still have the bathroom. A 13-inch television is my only link to the outside world. Fortunately, I had enough time to grab some canned goods and other rations.

But they won’t last.

My dresser secures the door and the windows are boarded, but recently the bangs against the door have increased in frequency and intensity. I know in my heart that it is only a matter of time before our government has the situation under control, but I fear I will not live to see that day. That is why I write this now.

My name is Adam Kelly, and this is my punishment.

My friend Will and I were enjoying a day together. It had been so long since the two of us could just hang out as we did in the old days, what with me getting engaged and all. Our day started at the gym, where I learned the stupid bastard was taking steroids. Of course, I chewed his ass out for it. I worked in the pharmaceutical business and knew of all sorts of horror stories about their effects on the human body. But did he listen? NO! I dropped the subject.

After our workout, the two of us headed to my house to change clothes.

The plan was to try the new sushi bar that opened downtown. Since Will lived in Rhode Island, I reluctantly agreed to let him borrow some of my clothes. Once we were ready, we headed over to the restaurant. It was there this nightmare began. Why couldn’t we have just gone out for steak?

The place was crowded and we should have walked out right then and there, but instead, we waited.

“I have no idea what any of this stuff is,” I said as we looked over the menu.

“Don’t worry about it. We’ll ask the waiter what he recommends,” Will replied and put down his menu. He too had no idea what he was looking at.

“Can I start you off with something to drink?” asked the waiter.

“Yeah, I’ll have whatever is on tap.”

“Me, too,” I added.

“Do you need a few more moments to decide on your meals?”

“What do you recommend? Neither one of us has ever had sushi before,” Will told the waiter.

“Well, we have the popular California rolls, along with a soft shell crab roll. But I would recommend the Maki Sushi.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“It is a sweet soy bean curd sushi. If you don’t like it, then chances are sushi in general isn’t for you.”

“All right, I’ll try that,” I replied and Will ordered the same. I got the biggest kick when the waiter asked us if we wanted chopsticks or if we preferred forks. We both agreed on the forks. The waiter returned shortly with our beer and it wasn’t long after that when the food came out.

“You first,” I said as I hesitated to try the strange dish that was placed before me.

“We’ll go at the same time,” Will answered hesitantly, and I agreed. We took our first bite simultaneously. I remember the look on Will’s face while he was chewing. It was one of surprise and delight.

“Not bad,” I said upon swallowing the morsel.

“No. Not bad at all.”

“I’m impressed.”

“Definitely. So I don’t have to pick up the tab?”

“No. It’ll be my treat,” I said.

“Cool. If I had known that, I would have ordered an imported beer.”

“Don’t push it,” I threatened and we both laughed.

That was the last time we would ever laugh like that again.


The phenomenon of “cutting” is more prevalent than you’d expect. Princess Diana was rumored to be a ‘cutter’, although I cannot confirm or deny this.

In the book THE ALCOHOLISM AND ADDICTION CURE, Author Chris Prentiss explains how ‘cutters’ think, as he cured one. “You feel bad before you cut yourself; you feel better AFTER you cut yourself. You’re cutting yourself to feel GOOD,” he told a woman…and that particular vice was revealed and subsequently defeated.

As New Zealand’s Master of Horror Lee Pletzers describes, it’s not always defeated…

The Seal

By Lee Pletzers

It came out of his skin, ripping and tearing.

Claws gripped the flayed skin, a black head the shape of a panther with a long snout and a jutted jaw, slid from the opening, surveying its surrounds. It lunged forward, forcing its thick muscular body forward, struggling, wriggling its way through, and ripping the man’s torso apart in the process. There was no pain. He watched the creature strode to and fro, claws clacked on the vinyl covered floor. Malevolent eyes, green and deep, stared at the man. Its lip curled up exposing a row of jagged teeth, tips gleamed in the fluorescent lights. Water dripped off its slick coat creating a puddle on the floor.

The lights flickered. The creature was invisible in the darkness. With each flash of light it had moved closer like stop motion photography. Suddenly it was on the bed, growling, hungry and eyeing his destroyed chest. It eyed his exposed heart.

“Wake up,” came a female voice with a very stern tone. “Warwick, wake up.”

The creature eyed the woman, licked it lips, and poised on the bed.

“Don’t make me restrain you.”

Warwick’s eyes snapped open, momentarily startling the woman.

“That’s better,” she said, absentmindedly brushing down her nurse apron. She grabbed his wrist and looked at her watch. “You must calm down,” she scolded. “All the machines went into alarm.”

“Leave, now! It’s watching you!” His voice was a harsh whisper full of urgency and concern.

“Mister James, there’s nothing there.” The nurse stared at her watch. She shook her head. “I’m going to have to give you something. Your pulse is racing.”

The creature growled. Raising a paw, its claws snapped out like tiny curved daggers. It swung at the nurse, aiming at the face. The nurse was unaffected. The claws passed through her as if she were a ghost and nothing more. Frustrated, a roar ripped from its throat.

Warwick laughed. The seal was cracked but not broken. All was good for now, but he knew he needed to enhance the seal, strengthen it. He smiled at the nurse. He knew how the game was played. “I think I’m fine now,” he said. “It was just a dream that seemed so real.”

The nurse filled a hypodermic syringe.

“Seriously--I don’t need that.”

The nurse tapped air out of the syringe.

“Betty, please.”

“It’s for your own good.” She turned to face him. “Just settle down, now.”

Warwick tried to move, but the creature had pinned his arms at his sides. Its snout was inches from his nose, its hind legs on his thighs. “She injects me, you die.”

He stared into the creatures’ deep green eyes. He flinched at the sting of the needle. “Goodbye,” he said to the creature as it faded and its weight lifted. Looking down at his chest moments before the drug took him, he smiled. Everything was as it should be. He had 72 more hours before the creature tried to return. He worried that it was not enough time to strengthen the seal. All he could do was hope it was.


Take a small but decent-sized American city and slaughter its entire population, over the course of a year. (Well, don’t, actually.) If a hostile country did that to one of our cities, we’d probably give them the Hiroshima treatment.

Yet, that’s how many people alcohol kills in different methods—cirrhosis, other diseases, drunk drivers (62 victims a day from that alone!), accidents, fights, mayhem—every year. It out-kills every other drug we’ve come up with, except possibly for tobacco, while we lock up nonviolent marijuana users by the thousands. And as a society, we let it slide. The legality, prevalence and perceived ‘normality’ of alcohol—and its enormous lobby and tax income--makes it seem ‘not so bad’.

In fact, if you were to give alcohol a human voice, it might just say so.


By K.K.

At 11:40 AM, Deacon Blues was almost finished redecorating the room. The framed EASY DOES IT and DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF placards were still there, along with the huge posters describing the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, but he’d added some real eye-catchers.

A Corona poster had been added. A hot model in a bikini posed with a bottle of the beer, but her beautiful face had been cut out of the picture. Other poster-girls for Coors Light and Smirnoff Ice posed on other walls, equally headless. Magazine ads for Captain Morgan’s Rum, Southern Comfort and Jack Daniels were taped up at eye level here and there as well. They were all very commonplace images, but very incongruous for a chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous. And if Rick didn’t arrive soon, Deacon Blues would have to take down all his work before the next meeting started. “Where are you, Tusgrin?” He growled under his breath to the empty room.

At 11:45 AM, Rick Tusgrin rolled his battle-scarred Impala to a halt next to Deacon Blues’ ancient Triumph motorcycle outside the West Side Group, and got out. As the door crunched shut with a pained metallic groan, he noticed all the damage he’d done to it over the last two years. Dented door, dented quarter-panel, dented fender, dented grille…it went on and on. Now that he was sober, he could connect each dent to a different bar or party. Funny how he hadn’t noticed before. He walked towards the building’s door, then groaned at his own malfunctioning memory and stalked back to the car to get the photos Matt had requested.

Inside, Deacon Blues raised a hand in greeting. “Hey, Rick. Did you bring ‘em?”

Rick nodded, holding out a manila envelope. “Right here, Mr. Bluzinski.”

“Call me Matt, for the thirtieth time…and thanks. These are all Jane Does, right?” he asked.

Rick nodded. “Of course. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t be able to look at ‘em.

What the hell did you want these for, anyw—” His sentence trailed off as he saw the new décor. “Awwww, no…”

Matthew “Deacon Blues” Bluzinski raised an eyebrow. “What?” Instead of waiting for a reply, he taped an eight-by-ten photo of a female corpse’s face where the bikini model’s face should have been. “Hmmm, probably ought to cut these down to size…ah, I’ll do it later.” He repeated the process on another headless model.

“That is freakin’ sick.” Rick grumbled.

“That is the exact point.” Deacon Blues kept taping as he spoke. “Advertising in reverse. Haven’t you seen those TV ads for ‘The Truth’? They’re freakin’ sick, but they get their point across because they’re sick. And that’s for tobacco. Nobody stands up to alcohol, no matter how many people die. People leave these meetings, they’re right back on the street, and every billboard shows people livin’ the wild nightlife. No wonder so many people relapse.” He touched up the Captain Morgan ad with a black and white photo of a crashed car. “Yeah, these are shock tactics. I think we need shock tactics. But if anyone tells me they’re disgusted, I’ll take them down. I bet you nobody does.”

It would probably be better for the society at large if our various vices only impacted US, and not affect our friends and families. As we all know, that usually isn’t the case. As seen on HBO’s “Intervention” series, a huge number of addicts would self-destruct if it weren’t for their friends and families.

But perversely, often our friends or families can be hard-partying “Enablers” that can either ‘jump-start’ our addictions, and/or cheerfully match us shot-for-shot down the left-hand path. Harry Mora now poses the question: which of you will reach the end of the road first?


The rest next week! Stay tuned!
What a damned good anthology this is!
thank you!

1 comment:

Rainy of the Dark said...

Big House seems interesting. Is it available solo or only in a collection?