December 01, 2010

December 2010, Vol. 9, Issue 12

The year-end issue includes a couple of Christmas-themed stories. Happy holidaze!

1. Christmas Bird by Paul McGuire
Shap drank whiskey and soda but with no ice. He'd nurse two or three drinks in five hours and sat the end of the bar for hours on end attempting to finish the NY Times crossword. When he was done with the puzzle, he'd engage in spats with Sully, the resident encyclopedia of sports statistics and knowledge of everything sports... More

2. That Musical Christmas Meeting in Jail by Johnny Hughes
When Sheriff Dink staggered across the room with Lonnie's guitar, both men pulled guitar picks from their pockets. Ryan reached out and grabbed the guitar. He picked a few notes, tuned it, and then quickly demonstrated that his finger picking style was more advanced than Lonnie's cording and strumming. Then he launched into House of the Rising Sun, and he and Lonnie stood facing the others, singing together, obviously delighted... More

3. Santa's Vice by Mark Verve
They were replacing some of the couches that line the walls. The old ones were in the alley when I arrived. The crushed red velor was torn, soiled, and stained with spilled drinks and god knows what other types of fluids. No one would ever consider sitting on them if they knew... More

4. NY, NY by Ernest
Most of the peep shows and porno theaters were already deserted, so the city had sponsored an art exhibit. The lobbies and display cases of the theaters were filled with crazy sculptures and graffiti pieces, and all the marquees had cool phrases or haikus on them... cool Basquiat type shit... More

5. Hell Pro Support by Sigge S. Amdal
Did you know that most of the tools and drivers our technicians use are available on our website? Just go to support dot euro dot hell dot com. Your call is important to us, thanks for holding. We'll soon find an available technician to answer your call. The conversation may be recorded for training purposes... More

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been...

From the Editor's Laptop

The December issue includes four seasoned-themed stories and one tale about support hell. Norway's Sigge Amdal wrote a story about awful phone support that I'm sorry to say we're all to familiar. Texas author Johnny Hughes whipped up a Christmas doozy about musicians and jail. Ernest returns with a trippy story about New York City. Mark Verve delves deep into Santa's bad side. Lastly, my seasonal contribution is a piece of jazz-inspired fiction.

The contributors at Truckin' write for the simple love of self-expression, which is a clever way of saying that they write for free. These writers are bold for taking an inspirational leap of faith by exposing their inner souls to you. So, I kindly ask you to help spread the good word about your favorite stories. Good karma and many blessings will come your way for exposing new readers to our amazing writers.

If anyone desires to being added to the mailing list, or any scribes (published or non-published) are interested writing for a future issue, then please contact us.

Also, thanks to you, the readers. The long-form written word is slowly dying off, but you're keeping the spirit alive with your unwavering support of Truckin'.

Be good,

"You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist." - Friedrich Nietzsche

Christmas Bird

By Paul McGuire © 2010

After I lost my job after the dotcom bubble burst, I humped the morning shift at a neighborhood bar in Brooklyn. Initially, I worked four days a week, taking off one day a week to dedicate myself to interviews and finding a job. I gave up looking for a job after six months and called the bar my office for five days a week for the next three years. I showed up 9am on weekdays to open the bar and usually worked through the end of Happy Hour at 6pm.

Shap, one of the morning regulars, must have been in his late 60s, but Sully told me that he thought he was 75. With a full head of silver hair, Shap looked good for his age, whatever it was, considering he spent four or five hours a day inside the bar five days a week, only skipping Tuesdays and Sundays.

Shap dressed like a college professor -- with corduroy jacket with patches on the sleeves and a wrinkled dress shirt. I think that's what he did before he retired. Shap drank whiskey and soda but with no ice. He'd nurse two or three drinks in five hours and sat the end of the bar for hours on end attempting to finish the NY Times crossword. When he was done with the puzzle, he'd engage in spats with Sully, the resident encyclopedia of sports statistics and knowledge of everything sports. Sully knew that Shap grew up in Boston and always gave him shit about the Red Sox. Shap took his guff mostly because the Celtics won more championships that Sully beleaguered Knicks.

What Sully was to sports, Shap was to jazz music. I had been serving him for four days a week almost a year before I discovered his passion for all things jazz. One Tuesday morning, I pointed at his empty stool and quizzed Sully.

"Where does he go on Tuesdays and Sundays when he's not here? Sundays is for church right? Is he religious something?"

"Shap? That cheap Jew?" barked Sully. "You've seen how he tips. He's a full-blooded Jew as much as I'm a full-blooded McCatholic. He's a bad member of the tribe too because he's in here drinking on Saturdays."

"So Sundays? What's he doing?"

Sully told me that Shap took Sundays to visit his adult children and grandkids. I never even knew he had kids, something he never talked about. Some barflys bombarded you with unsolicited tales of their entire life story, while others don't tell you a lick. Shap was in that group that rarely spoke about his personal life outside the bar. Mostly everything out of his mouth was sports or politics.

"What about Tuesdays?"

"He's got that radio show. You know, on one of those college radio stations at the far end of the dial. I dunno if you can even hear it out in Brooklyn. Signal is too weak."

Radio show? I quickly discovered that Shap was a jazz historian who hosted his own show on NYU's radio station. He took the subway into Manhattan every Tuesday, and dragged a dozen or so LPs with him to the Village. Shap hosted the same show for over thirty years. He didn't get paid a dime and had become sort of a legend among the students who worked at the radio station over the years.

Shap taught literature at NYU for a decade and wrote record reviews for jazz magazines on the side. He got paid to write about his passion as he collected thousands of records, including thousands of hours of live bootlegged recordings of his idol Charlie Parker, otherwise known as "Bird."

Shap's biggest claim to fame was when Miles Davis accepted his invitation to drop by the studio in the late 1980s, and in his trademarked gravely voice, Miles told an elaborate story about how Charlie "Bird" Parker had arranged a series of gigs in Chicago.

"When Bird couldn't cop any smack, he drank cough syrup and whiskey. He'd get blind drunk and pass out and sleep for hours on end. He missed a lot of gigs that way. Bird owed a huge debt for failing to show up to four gigs in Chicago. The club was owned by a slick cat named Morris and Morris had friends with the mafia. Bird was scared that they were going to kill him, so he agreed to work off the debt, but with a crazy schedule -- Christmas Eve through New Years -- with only Christmas off, and three sets a night plus five on New Year's Eve. Bird rounded up a couple of his friends in New York and formed a band for the Chicago shows. I didn't want to go, but all of the clubs in the city were closed on the holidays. I didn't have any money to go home to St. Louis and visit my family for Christmas. I figured that I could get out to Chicago, earn some scratch, and then take the train down to St. Louis after the holidays. We took the train to Chicago and played our first gig on Christmas Eve. Bird didn't cop enough dope before we left New York and he started taking Seconals, which were these red pills that were heavy sleeping pills. We showed up to Chicago with only one rehearsal under our belt. Bird was useless and all fucked up on Seconals, so I picked the songs to play. On our first night at the club, the joint was packed for a special Christmas Eve show. Bird stumbled on stage and played when he wasn't nodded out. Most of the time he wasn't even playing the same songs as us -- but at least it was in the right key. That's the thing about Bird, even as fucked up as he was, he knew we were in F and just started playing the first tune that came to mind that was also in F. For the second set, I had kick him in the shin to wake him up for his solos. The next morning, I saw Bird in the lobby of our hotel. He said that his shins hurt and I told him it was because I had to kick him all night because he kept nodding out. That's when he told me, 'Miles, never take Seconals and play chromatics. You'll go crazy.'"

Paul McGuire is the author of Lost Vegas.

That Musical Christmas Meeting in Jail - Amarillo, Texas, 1913

By Johnny Hughes © 2010

When the Sheriff's deputies brought Lonnie Hogan to the Amarillo jail, Ryan O'Malley was already incarcerated. It was a meeting that they'd laugh about for many years. Both men were 26 years old, and had thick, curly, brown hair, and chocolate-colored eyes. Both were handsome men, and knew it. At 6'2", Lonnie was six inches taller than Ryan. Ryan talked most of the time. He talked fast, walked fast, ate fast, and was impulsive. Lonnie was naturally quiet, slow-moving, and deliberate. Ryan was most interested in Lonnie's guitar, which the deputies locked in a closet.

"I heard 'em say they had you as a gambler?" Ryan offered his hand to his new cell mate. Lonnie shook, but with little enthusiasm. They were the only prisoners.

"We were playing poker at the Amarillo Hotel. They arrested me for winning a horse and fancy buggy off this old, drunk Doctor. He kept jacking up the stakes. It was a fluke. I've offered to give it back or sell it cheap if they'd cut me loose. It has soft, leather seats. Anyways, what you in for?" Lonnie's Texas cowboy accent and slow speech lent itself to an unexcited calm.

"Singing songs. I'm a Wobbly. A soap boxer. I was down at the railroad yard singing, Joe Hill's 'Pie in the Sky.' My union card says International Workers of the World, ever heard of it? That's the Wobblies. One big union. They got me for Vagrancy, being temporarily without funds." Ryan was boastful, as always.

"I've heard of these union and communist kind of troubles. What's your trade? You a railroad man? A miner?" Lonnie asked. "You a busker? Goin' around singing with your hat on the ground for tips?"

Ryan agreed that basically he was a busker, and said his guitar was with a railroad man he knew only as Hank, but being a union brother, he knew he'd get it back.

"Nah, I want to be a labor organizer. But I've never had any trade or other union card. My family ain't much for working. Most Wobblies are two card men, belonging to a trade union also. I'm headed for southern Colorado. Big labor strikes with the miners against Rockefeller."

Lonnie said they had raided his room at the Amarillo Hotel early that morning. They found six decks of cards, and a dozen pair of dice, all of them on the square. They'd charged him with keeping a gambling house but hinted that he'd be out soon because of Christmas. Ryan said he had no idea of when he would be released, explaining that Wobblies were police targets all over the country. When he asked Lonnie about the poker game, Lonnie explained it was dealer's choice, mostly high draw, no openers, bet or fold with a stiff ante that grew through the night. They agreed that they thought stud was too slow and draw without openers gave the dealer a real advantage.

Then Ryan challenged Lonnie to play heads up draw poker when they were released. Lonnie laughed that off, saying, "You ain't got no money. Cash on the wood makes gambling good. I'm sure I'm a better poker player than you and a better singer."

Lonnie seemed to think this was hilarious. Ryan took offense.

"I'm an O'Malley. I come from a long line of gamblers. You could come up to our family farm by Duke, Oklahoma. There might be a handful of uncles or cousins who are off the road. Ever single one could beat you at any gambling game. And my whole family are great musicians. I'll bet I can play guitar better than you."

Lonnie explained that he had been singing in a duet at the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico for over a year, and playing in the daily poker game on the second floor. Then he began to sing in a deep, rich baritone, "There is a house in New Orleans, they call the rising sun, Its been the ruin of many a poor boy, and Lord, I know I'm one."

On the second line, Ryan took the harmony, very loudly, with his perfect-pitch Irish tenor. Both men were on their feet, their dark eyes shining. After a few verses, Ryan said, "I'll bet you five bucks I know more verses than you do to that song."

Ryan said, "A good gambler doesn't gamble with brokes," then he sang, "Frankie and Johnny were sweethearts... He was her man, but he done her wrong."

Now each man would sing lead on a verse and the other would back him up. Lonnie said, "I know verses where she gets off, and I know verses where she goes to prison." They both knew Shine On Harvest Moon and Glow Worm.

Being single, Jack Collins had drawn Christmas duty guarding the jail. He had come back to the cells and was listening. He told Lonnie he didn't have a key to the closet or he would get him his guitar. Then he said, "Don't say nothing to spoil the surprise, but the Sheriff's wife Alma is cooking a turkey and all the fixins. She'll bring the best damn food you ever laid a lip on over here this afternoon or evening. Y'all can sing for her."

Jack Collins started a song in his off-key, whiskey voice:
"Oh, bury me not on the lone prairie,
Where the wild coyotes will howl over me.
Where the west wind sweeps and the grasses wave,
And sunbeams rest on the prairie grave."
Lonnie took over and sang several verses, with Ryan backing him up as best he could. "See, that's a lot of my act. My daddy had been a cowboy out of Wichita Falls and worked for ol' Burk Burnett some. He got these magazines that had all the words to these cowboy and trail driver songs."

Lonnie said that he had been a cowboy on a ranch outside Mobeetie, Texas. There was so much gambling in the town that he was able to make that his living.

Jack Collins broke in, "First man to own a ranch in the Texas Panhandle was killed in a poker game. Ol' Man Springer opened this here way station, general store, outside Mobeetie to serve the trail herds and buffalo hunters in 1877. He kept a poker game going almost every day. That was only two years after Quanah Parker and the Comanches surrendered to Col. MacKenzie and went on the reservation. Springer and his hired man were playing poker with some Cavalry men, buffalo soldiers, colored soldiers. The Indians called them that because their hair was like a buffalo's. A couple of them killed Springer and his hired man saying they'd been cheating. The Army had a little hearing about it, 'course nothing come of it. Poker can be dangerous. Ol' Springer was supposed to have won a lot of money and cows. The cowboys with them herds could get chips for cows, and Springer got together a big herd."

Lonnie started singing Stag O'Lee. Gentlemen of the jury, what do you think of that? Stag O'Lee killed Billy de Lyon about a five-dollar Stetson hat.

Ryan knew the song and the two were amazed at just how well their mellifluous voices blended together. They sounded like brothers who had sang together since childhood. They were very good, and they both knew it immediately.

After exchanging sanitized and slightly magnified versions of their life stories, Lonnie said they could get a job singing at the La Fonda in Santa Fe easily if Ryan was really good at guitar and could get over there.

"There's this here powerful Judge, Rudy Vigil. He loves poker and plays there nearly every afternoon. Long as he is there, it is never above five-dollar limit. But at night, after he leaves, they vote and take the limit off. "

Lonnie said he had been singing with an incredible beauty and musician, Gloria Chavez, a member of a well-known musical family. Lonnie didn't reveal that he loved her. He said he and Ryan could "sho nuff make better music and land a job easy." Her three brothers also had an act that rotated with their's at La Fonda. Gloria, only 20, had eloped with a wealthy rancher from northern New Mexico who was 46. Her father and brothers were making death threats. The families had hated each other for a couple of hundred years.

Dr. Grover Monahan, one of Amarillo's first and most respected doctors, sent a hired man over to see Lonnie. He apologized profusely and said the Doctor had nothing to do with his arrest. He also asked if he'd sell the horse and buggy back and asked what Lonnie wanted for it. Lonnie had walked over to the livery stable with the drunk Doctor around daylight and barely looked at his new prize. Lonnie told the man to ask the Doctor for a fair offer.

Lonnie and Ryan weren't surprised that they had both started out on shape note singing. Lonnie had sang with two church choirs. Both of their fathers played guitar and sang. Ryan said his uncle was in this Irish musical show in New York. Ryan said the whole O'Malley clan were big on their Irish roots, Irish foods, and songs. Lonnie said his family were Irish but he knew nothing of that. It was rarely mentioned.

Deputy Jack Collins broke in with another of his stories. "Right after Oklahoma became a state, there was this here man in the Oklahoma panhandle going on trial for something. The night before his trial, Ol' Temple Houston, Sam Houston's son, was playing poker with his two lawyers. He thought they was cheating and shot them both dead. He was a lawyer, so Temple defended the man for free and got him off. Then he got his own self off. Poker can be mighty dangerous."

Right at sundown, with slants of flat land light illuminating the jail, Deputy Sheriff Doak Bradshaw and his wife, Velma, came in with a pumpkin and pecan pies, mashed potatoes, and some unopened cans of cranberry sauce. Right after that, Sheriff Dink Flournoy arrived, followed closely by his wife Alma. She began to spread a white table cloth on the desk. The Sheriff was obviously drunk and carrying a gallon of red wine. He opened the cell door and handed the wine to Ryan who took a big swallow and handed it to Lonnie who did likewise.

"Sure hope y'all are hungry," Sheriff said, "'Cause Alma has been fussing over this all day."

When Sheriff Dink staggered across the room with Lonnie's guitar, both men pulled guitar picks from their pockets. Ryan reached out and grabbed the guitar. He picked a few notes, tuned it, and then quickly demonstrated that his finger picking style was more advanced than Lonnie's cording and strumming. Then he launched into House of the Rising Sun, and he and Lonnie stood facing the others, singing together, obviously delighted. Dink said, "these are bound to be the happiest jail birds I ever saw."

Just then, Ryan made it a medley doing a few verses of Frankie and Johnny and on into Stag O' Lee.

"These ol' boys don't just gamble, they sings about gambling," Dink continued. "Y'all need to sing a hymn or Christmas music for Alma. She's mighty religious."

Jack Collins started Rock of Ages, and then Silent Night. Ryan led them all on Joy to the World. Before dinner, Alma said a long prayer mentioning several Amarillo residents, her Arkansas cousins, sinful Texas cowboys, and other lost souls. Dink brought out two more gallons of red wine, and everyone but Alma was drinking freely. At the end of dinner, Dink was slurring his words when he presented Lonnie a check for $350 from Doc Monahan for the horse and buggy which was worth four times that. Lonnie accepted graciously, very surprised and happy to get it. They ate, sang, and drank long into the night, and often praised Alma for the memorable feast.

Lonnie staked Ryan to a train ticket to Santa Fe, a cheap suit, and a Porkpie hat that Ryan always wore with the brim up. He located his guitar. Lonnie had this annoying habit of writing down all his expenses, especially money loaned to or spent on Ryan, in a little black notebook he always carried in his coat pocket. They drew great crowds at La Fonda Thursday though Saturday nights. They always opened with House of the Rising Sun, their signature song. Ryan went into every business and government office in downtown Santa Fe introducing himself and inviting people to their show. Soon he put a tip jar on stage, which brought in good extra money. They added a Sunday afternoon show which was always packed.

Lonnie made the rules and was the unofficial boss. He banned any form of cheating at the poker, union songs, and mention of unions, especially Wobblies. Ryan swore he knew lots about cheating but never would because of the danger. Bravery was never Ryan's long suit. They were both regular winners in the afternoon poker games with a limit of $5. They played each other heads up and Lonnie always won. If wealthy ranchers made the night game too high for him, Lonnie would quit. Not Ryan. He went broke and built back up a bank roll over and over. One night Ryan was $1600 winner with Lonnie as his partner. Lonnie cut out his share of the winnings, urging Ryan to quit. Ryan lost his share all back. The very next morning, Lonnie was making Ryan a loan and marking it in the little notebook. Ryan wrote a funny song about Scrooge's Notebook and sang it at La Fonda. Lonnie loved it and wrote a couple of verses while they sang. That was the beginning of their song-writing partnership.

Johnny Hughes is the author of Texas Poker Wisdom, a novel.

Santa's Vice

By Mark Verve © 2010

I immediately waved to the bouncer as a line had been crossed. He was busy watching the new Thai dancer. Studying her was more like it. Probably filling his RAM with skippy whipping material for later I thought. He saw me after the second or third wave. As expected he casually moved over in my direction. As a rule the VIP room bouncers are told to be discreet. Wouldn't want to disrupt the atmosphere by causing a commotion right? This bouncer had worked the room for the past three weeks. He looked like an MMA wanna be and had a snake tat crawling out of his collar towards his left ear. I met him in the middle of the room and shouted to be heard over the music: "That FREAK just exposed himself."

"OK, I'll handle it. Go back downstairs," he replied.

I started toward the stairs. I knew what handle it meant. He'll ask the customer if he'd like to invite another dancer to join him. Chances are she'll be more relaxed about his needs. I should have known it was too good to be true. I mean, thirty minutes into my shift on Christmas Eve and I get a VIP request? As I passed by the bar I noticed the guy dressed in a full Santa outfit. He'd been in the night before and said he enjoyed the dance I gave him. I laughed to myself and wondered where Mrs. Claus thought he was tonight. If this was his only vice the kids were safe. He motioned me over and I signaled that I'd be right back. I headed to the locker room to check my make up. The door swung open and Riley appeared.

"Back so soon?" she asked.

I gave her a one word reply: "Freak."

"Sorry baby," she said as she adjusted her tube top and headed back into the smoke and noise.

The locker room was full of the usual drama. Lost jewelry, lost clothing, crying, an argument in the corner...whatever. I tried to ignore it and moved quickly to the nearest mirror. Just as I'd thought, the Freak had had smudged my rouge when he cradled my face as I was straddling him.

"Stacy," he said with a Russian accent, "Are you the adventurous type?"

Adventurous seems to be the new code word for good to go. At the time I just laughed it off and hoped he had just stumbled upon the word. Nope, ten minutes later he shared his definition and I was back downstairs. I knew him as a regular with a taste for blondes. Why he picked me I'll probably never know.

The bright lights of the locker room reveal the shocking physical truths about dancers. Stretch marks, dark circles, surgery scars, regrettable tattoos, burns, cheese, name it we've got it. Customers only see us in the dimly lit rooms outside. In this case ignorance is bliss. I'm convinced a dark club turns any five into a nine and makes her profitable for the night. It reminded of the time I returned to the club in the late morning for a meeting. They were replacing some of the couches that line the walls. The old ones were in the alley when I arrived. The crushed red velor was torn, soiled, and stained with spilled drinks and god knows what other types of fluids. No one would ever consider sitting on them if they knew.

My day had started hours earlier with some last minute Christmas shopping with my friend Colleen. We'd met at the club and became quick friends. I was attracted to her kind heart and unaffected attitude. She's a red headed stunner with alabaster skin but seldom used her power. Sometimes it seemed she was truly unaware of it. She was most comfortable off duty as a tomboy. Customers loved her and enjoyed seeing two of her three pink parts. I fantasized about being with her but had never told her so. Probably never will. She was outwardly more feminine than I could ever be but I wanted her to be my butch. I arrived at her condo on the west side about noon. She had just finished a phone conversation with her latest boyfriend now turned loser and was upset. Colleen is unable to tell the difference between sex and love so she regularly fell victim to men that could. I tried to explain that she'd never have trouble finding sex but love was a completely different animal. She may never understand.

We made our way to the local mall and joined the masses. She calmed down on the way over and we decided to have a drink and quick lunch at Ricardo's. We sat on the rail in the patio area surrounded by mall traffic. It was great for people watching but we had to swat the flies that gathered. Red heads are like a beacon. I should have known better as this had happened before. They try to make a play despite the fly rings we both were wearing. It used to be funny but lately it was just an annoyance. Even the waitress seemed interested with a little too much small talk that turned personal.

Some of our conversation involved the club and the recent arrests of three dancers for lewd behavior. It seems that the local vice squad had sent undercover cops to harass us again.

"I heard that they took Cheyenne out two nights ago," said Colleen. "Sky said she was crying hysterically and almost had to be carried out of the office."

I could not get a third citation as that would mean a mandatory ninety day suspension not to mention the fine. With a kid and a mortgage it would be a disaster. I'd gotten two warning citations six months ago for no reason but fighting them was nearly impossible. It was their word against mine.

"Just be real careful with contact and play it straight for a while," I said.

Easier said than done it thought. We agreed to have breakfast after our shifts that night.

After finishing my makeup I returned to the bar area and walked up to Santa. He greeted me with a reserved smile. I suggested we move to a booth and he agreed bringing his Evian with him. He wasn't much for small talk and asked for a lap dance. We sat in awkward silence for a minute until a new song started. He didn't get touchy or ask me to sit next to him while we waited. He just sat there with his hands folded in his lap. Everything was just like last night. When the music started I moved in front of him and took off my top. He never stopped looking into my eyes. I moved to straddle him and just then my left heel strap broke. I almost fell into his lap but held myself up. I felt the inside of my right breast brush his fake beard and nose. It felt like stiff cotton candy. He didn't react at all....not even a flinch. I laughed nervously, took off my other shoe and continued. When the song finished he paid me and I left to make repairs.

Back in the locker room I was putting on my back up heels when I saw Samantha approaching out of the corner of my eye. She's the House Mother for the club. A kind of counselor, friend, and know-it-all for the dancers. Got a problem or an issue? Ask Sam. Need your thong repaired or forget a tampon? Sam's the one. I try to steer clear except when I tip her out. She loves drama and is more trouble than she's worth.

"Stacy, Turk wants to see you in his office." She almost said it with glee in her voice.

"What about?" I asked. "Didn't say, just that he wants to see you now."

Emphasis on now. I went to my locker and got out my red jacket. It was as business like as I could look in my school girl outfit.

Turk's office is on the other side of the club by the liquor storage room. The cheap bastard likes to keep an eye on that door. He's a smarmy chubby thirty-something with the beginnings of a comb over. I think of him as George Costanza with an bad attitude. I'd been in there twice before. Once when I was hired and again a week later when he called me in to discuss my "future" at the club. He'd picked up on my vibe that I knew the score and laid off. Girls that don't know any better probably fall for that ruse when Turk makes his play. I'm sure he gets several a month with that tired bullshit.

When I entered the room there were two uniforms standing in front of Turk's desk. Turk looked at me and then the floor. The female told me their names and explained that they were doing a lewdness investigation. Lewdness? I couldn't believe it. I started to panic inside as a suspension would be a disaster. There must be a mistake. I had only given one dance in the main room since I'd arrived. I doubted that the Russian would have reported anything and besides nothing happened up there. That left Santa. Other than my heel strap breaking nothing had happened there either.

"What's the problem?"

"We have a witness that claims lewd contact during a lap dance," she explained.

"But I've only given one dance tonight and that was for the guy in the Santa suit," I protested.

The female cop seemed sympathetic. She looked up from her paperwork and said, "Sorry honey, Santa's vice."

Mark Verve lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and writes for relaxation. He trades the stock markets for a living and plays poker for aggravation.


By Ernest © 2010

The first time I went to Times Square I was tripping my balls off.

I was visiting my friend who was housesitting his art professor's huge apartment/art studio in Tribeca for the summer. On our first night in town, a group of us went to the last strip club left in Manhattan that didn't charge a cover. You get what you pay for. It was a dingy joint called Satin Dolls. Like a rookie, I bought the first round. Forty bucks for four Buds for four buddies. Yikes. The talent was less than stellar. The anorexic, bruised strippers would actually emerge from a trap door on the stage. I imagined a dirt floor dungeon shooting gallery down there, where feral stripper junkies would prowl around hissing at each other until it was their turn to go above ground like a bunch of dope sick C.H.U.D.S. I'm really surprised that a stripper didn't come up with a needle still hanging out of her arm. There was a back room/pay phone alcove where strippers would occasionally lead fat old men in stained wife beaters to do blow or get blown. It was basically in plain view of the bar. All you had to do was lean back on your stool and you had a clear shot of all the disturbing nefarious activities. My friends were cheap as shit, and only two of us were tipping the strippers. At one point, a particularly strung out stripper with protruding ribs leaned over the bar from the stage and started screaming at us "Tip! Tip! TIP!!!" as little flecks of spittle formed in the corners of her chapped lips.


After the screaming incident, the club's gigantic bouncer came over to us at the bar and put his arms around all four of us at once and said in a Barry White-like voice: "You boys will be having another beer."

We believed him. He was wearing more jewelry than Mr T. and his breath smelled like Hennessy and beatings. We shelled out another forty bucks and drank our second beers quickly as Alanis Morrissette blared over the speakers. I shit you not. Alanis fucking Morrissette. As if the place wasn't depressing enough. Whatever happened to Def Leppard or Motley Crue? My friend Bamboo and I decided that the only proper reaction to the scarring experience of Satin Dolls was to drop some of the acid that I had smuggled on the plane to New York in the waistband of my boxers. We went into the men's room that I really, really don't want to talk about, and swallowed the little paper squares. I don't know why we bothered to go into the bathroom, drug use was everywhere out in the open. We washed the acid down with the last of our $10 Budweisers as we walked past Mr. T and out into the muggy New York evening.

The subway ride was mercifully short, and as we walked up the stairs into Times Square, we were really starting to trip. Times Square is already sensory overload when you're sober, and on LSD it was like ground zero of a neon atomic bomb. Everything was flashing color and vertigo as we stumbled down the sidewalk trying to maintain. This was right before the Disney-fication of Times Square. Most of the peep shows and porno theaters were already deserted, so the city had sponsored an art exhibit. The lobbies and display cases of the theaters were filled with crazy sculptures and graffiti pieces, and all the marquees had cool phrases or haikus on them. I was too fucked up to remember any of them, but it was cool Basquiat type shit. Everything was all a blur as we made our way a few blocks down to the Manhattan Center where the Melvins were playing. We got some beers at a bodega and hung out on the steps of the Post Office across from Penn Station before smoking a joint and heading into the show.

The Melvins psychedelic sludge was incredible, although some drunk dude mistook me for the bass player of the opening band, Season to Risk. He kept asking me about "the new album" and "what touring was like." He was relentless, even though I insisted I wasn't the bass player. Later I found out that my friend TB had told him that I really was in Season to Risk, but that I was humble and shy so he would have to be persistent. Thanks TB. Fuck with the guy who is tripping. What are friends for.

By the time we left the show, it had cooled off outside, thank god. We enjoyed a typically insane New York City cab ride as we headed back to the loft. I remember thinking that I felt bad for people who grew up in New York, because all of this would be the norm for them. Every place they went after this would be a let down. We grabbed some beers at the corner store at 3am (was this place heaven or what?) and headed up to the apartment. After we hung out on the fire escape for awhile listening to the sounds of Manhattan at night, I went into the living room and lay down on the couch that would be my bed for the next few nights. As I looked out of the huge floor to ceiling windows, I had a perfect view of the Twin Towers framed by the moon.

A lot has changed since then, but that first whacked out night is how I'll always picture New York.

Ernest is a writer currently living in Maine.

Hell Pro Support

By Sigge S. Amdal © 2010

* You've reached Hell Pro Support. Please hold while we find an available technician to answer your call! The conversation may be recorded for training purposes...

* Hi, Hell Support, Joan speaking. May I have your service tag, please?
* Yes, of course. It's two-oh-four-four-a for alpha-m for male and sixty-nine.
* Thank you.... That's a Hell OfficeComp E2000? And I see that you've got Pro Support.
* Yes. That's why I called the Pro Support number.
* Hang on, while I connect you to one of our Pro Support technicians.

* You've reached Hell Pro Support. Please state which of our products you are calling about. Press 1 for Laptop Computers. Press 2 for Desktop Computers. Press 3 for Hell Server Products.
* #1
* Press 1 for EasyComp. Press 2 for OfficeComp. Press-
* #2
* Please hold while we find an available technician to answer your call! Please be aware that you must have your service tag ready and be near the system in question...

Did you know that most of the tools and drivers our technicians use are available on our website? Just go to support dot euro dot hell dot com. Your call is important to us, thanks for holding. We'll soon find an available technician to answer your call. The conversation may be recorded for training purposes...

* Hi! This is Rhonda from Pro Support!
* Hi, I'm John from Just another office. Do you want the service-tag?
* No, I've got it.
* Okay.
* So what do you want to do today, hot stuff?
* I seem to be having some hardware trouble.
* Let's start with what you're wearing...
* I can see the hard drive in BIOS but I just can't boot.
* Ooooh, you're just a nasty little one, aren't you John? You're dressed for trouble. I'm going to “get into” something more comfortable here... Taking off my black leather boots.
* Pressing F12. Diagnostics. Right, it's running.
* Ah, that feels good. Do you want to lick the boot?
* "Did you see colors on the screen?" Yes. Alright. It's running some memory test now.
* I said: Do you want to lick it!?
* This usually takes a while. I'm not having any memory issues, so I'll just skip ahead, alright?
* You're a naughty little man, John, and I'm gonna have to punish you!
* Alright, alright. No need to get agitated... *sigh*
* That's better, little man. I'm taking my top off now. Removing the bra... *groan* I'm fondling my big, black breasts, tickling the left nipple with the edge of my tongue. What are you doing, John?
* It's still running.
* Ummm...that's right, John. Take those damn things off you! I want you naked as a baby when you worship me. It's cold and dark here, but I still want you down on the concrete floor. Naked...
* Ah! Finished! Booting Diagnostics Utility...
* That's better, John. You're a whimpy little man,you know that? I bet you got your ass kicked in school every day, John. Didn't you honey?
* Right. It says Express Test, Comprehensive Test, Custom Test and Test Memory.
* Now I want you to crawl towards me. Slowly. NO I don't care that the concrete hurts your skin! CRAWL TO ME, JOHN!
* Custom Test, okay. Selecting Non-Interactive Tests only.
* EYES DOWN, DAMMIT! Keep your shitty little eyes down, John!
* So do I select all the tests or just the hard disk related ones?
* I don't give a fuck what you want to do, John, you're just here to worship me. Now, LICK MY LITTLE TOE, YOU BASTARD! Put the whole thing in your mouth and suck it!
* Running Device Self-Test...
* Mmmm... that feels good, John. You're a good little sucker, ain't you John? ...KEEP SUCKING IT, DAMMIT!
* Seems alright to me.
* Now look up at my panties... don't you dare look at my eyes, John, don't you dare. The panties!
* Look, I can't sit here doing an entire surface scan while on the phone. Besides, the Device Self-Test in the pre-boot environment didn't report any SMART errors so there's no reason I would discover anything here that would account for my booting problems. I'm thinking more of a motherboard issue.
* Do you like my little, black panties? They're made of licorice, John....
* I'll just cancel the surface scan and run a motherboard test?
* YOU SORRY PIECE OF SHIT, JOHN! Did I say you could taste the licorice panties? Huh?
* Alright, alright. Don't get your knickers in a twist.
* You're going to behave, little John. I'm not going to stand for this mischief... see this? That's right! Mama's bringing out the horse whip.
* See? No errors. Just like I said.
* Oh, you don't look so smug now, do you John?
* Wait a minute!
* *CRACK!*
* I got an error right towards the end here!
* It's Eff-Zero-Zero-Zero
* *CRACK!*
* Colon
* OOOOH... is it too big for you honey? Do you want the pony whip? I'm gonna ride the living shit it out of you, John.
* Two-four-two-two.
* That's right! Now get down on all fours!
* Oh, really? And how much is that gonna cost me?
* Spread those puny legs out, John! RIGHT THIS MINUTE!
* No, the warranty ran out some three-four months ago.
* Steady... Now TAKE IT JOHN!
* Ouch!
* You're my little play-pony, ain't you John? TAKE IT LIKE A LITTLE PONY!
* I'm gonna have to check this up with Finance, first.
* Be a good pony, John! A good pony!
* Well, it's an old system, and we're gonna roll it out sooner rather than later.
* Awww. You want to be comforted now, John?
* But I thought it was worth checking.
* Oh, did my little pony come on the concrete floor, huh? Did my little pony come?
* Yeah, but thanks a lot!
* Then get the fuck out, John. That's right. The show's over.
* Okay. Merry Christmas. Bye!
* Merry Christmas. Bye!

Sigge S. Amdal is a word wanker from Oslo, Norway.