Guns & Amour

Broad Bait!

By Jack Lynn

160 pp.

© 1960

Publisher:Novel Books Inc.

Series: NB 5014

Special Agent Kevin Kar has a real appetite for the ladies, more than most FBI men and a lot more than J. Edgar Hoover.

Broad Bait opens with a detailed description of the ample bustline of a woman attempting to lure Kevin to his doom. He is on the trail of a ring of gun runners and they would like nothing better than to see him retired from the case permanently.

But Kevin is no fool, not even for love. He doesn’t trust women as far as the nearest bed on which to throw them. So when her gun-toting accomplice sneaks up behind him, the G-man keeps his cool.

Kevin uses the young lovely as a human shield. He spins her around and she take’s the would-be assassin’s bullet between the eyes. He then returns fire, killing his assailant. It’s all in a day’s work. He never got to score with the girl before he died (and I assume he had no desire to afterward), but the story has just begun and he will have plenty of opportunity as the tale unfolds.

After the murder of a key witness in the case and a couple of attempt’s on Kevin’s life (including one by a woman he was successful in bedding. Good for him), he travels to Florida to stop the 600 tommyguns from being sent to Castro’s rebels in Cuba.

The careful reader might notice that the book was published in 1960, more than a year after the Cuban revolution was a done deal. It seems unlikely that Fidel Castro would be in need of guns as much as ammunition replenishment for those firing squads of which he was so fond. For those put off by this seeming anachronism, try to remember that great literature is not beholden to timeliness.

Kevin arrives in Miami and checks in with Melvin Blake at the US Customs office. Blake is…well, he’s some guy named Blake. Kevin is far more interested in Angelica, Blake’s secretary who is employed on the side of the law but whose curves defy gravity.

At first, Angelica rejects Kevin’s advances but he eventually wears her down with lines like, “But honey, you’re in your twenties and have a body that must’ve been used.” Given such a persuasive argument, she relents and our intrepid hero scores again.

That case is cracked but there is still the small matter of keeping the illicit ordnance out of the hands of godless communists. The prime suspect is Paul Jackson, who lives on the Gulf Coast in luxury with no discernible source of income. Since these are the days before RICO, the FBI can’t simply move in and seize everything, leaving Jackson to try to prove his innocence in court. Kevin needs evidence.

His methods are unorthodox to say the least. To solve the case, he beds the owner of the local motel, blows his cover by picking fights with the suspects, and roughs up an innocent kid with leukemia. Jackson, not to be outdone, orders one of his henchmen to open fire on Kevin’s car after a search of his house turns up nothing. The story climaxes (so to speak) with Angelina, who is in league with the gun runners, giving up her chance to escape because Kevin is so hot in the sack.

In this war on crime, the first casualty is plausibility.

Pottymouth Blues

I sometimes walk past a crowd of kids and am treated to barrage of profanity. My inner fuddyduddy wants to say, “Do you kiss you mother or blow your priest with that mouth?” but I check myself. I remember what it was like to be young.

I don’t know how old I was when expletives began to pepper my conversation but I doubt it was long after I first heard them. Swearing suited me, as it did most young boys who desperately wanted to be cooler than they really were. My preferred dirty words were standard issue, describing either sex (of which I had no experience), or defecation (of which I had plenty).

Given my past, I’m willing to let kids be kids. However, not everyone shares my sentiments. McKay Hatch, 14 year-old boy in Southern California, has become the media darling of the tight-assed family values crowd with his No Cussing Club. The organization has spread to 49 states in the US (fight the power, South Dakota).

To become a member, girls and boys need to take the No Cussing Challenge:

I won’t cuss, swear, use bad language, or tell dirty jokes. Clean language is the sign of intelligence and always demands respect. I will use my language to uplift, encourage and motivate. I will Leave People Better Than I Found Them!

That would be a pretty tall order for me now, let alone when I was his age and thought the campfire scene in Blazing Saddles was the greatest cinematic moment ever.

There is a page on the site where the visitor can leave comments. I briefly entertained the notion of posting one from “cocktip@cervix.com” asking to set me up on a date with his mother, but decided against it for two reasons:

  • Picking on a kid, even one I think is wrongheaded, is tacky.
  •  Given the popularity of zero tolerance and protecting the children, pranks of this nature are a good way to end up registered as a sex offender. Among law enforcement zealots, talking dirty to a minor is tantamount to penis insertion.

So I’ll behave myself. I do have something to say to McKay in the extremely unlikely event that he’s reading this.

McKay, I know you think you’re doing the right thing and I respect that. And to tell the truth, I’d probably find the gutter talk that you hear from other kids vulgar and boring too. It’s stupid. But you see, a little stupidity is OK when you’re a kid. As long as the dirty are kept out of earshot of any grownup with authority, there is no real harm done. So lighten up and let the other kids have their fun. And if you hit your thumb with a hammer and have a few choice words to say about the incident, that’s OK too. The quest for justice has bigger fish to fry.

Rebel Yule

It was nine thirty last night when I left the Argus and stumbled home. I had been there for an hour and a half and a band was getting ready to play. I’m sure they were swell, but I had been drinking for five hours and was in no condition to have my eardrums blasted by their amplifiers.

Overall, it was a very pleasant Christmas. The festivities started at Alex’s and Gillian’s home. As always, they were wonderful hosts and food and drink were in abundance. None of the guests’ behavior crossed into the realm of the unacceptable, not even mine. I’ll have to try harder next year.

If I had the time and money to spend on a therapist, I might learn why I feel the urge to make a mockery of all things good and decent. I used to blame it on youthful rebellion but at the ripe old age of 45, that excuse is wearing thin. It’s probably a waste of effort for me to ponder the cause of my love affair with dysfunction. I’m better off accepting it and keeping it reined in to a tolerable level.

For the most part, I achieved this goal yesterday. My friends are amused by (or at least forgiving of) my hijinks, which gives me substantial leeway as far as behavior is concerned. I cherish them for that and am not about to abuse the privilege.

For example, I knew it was OK to say, “When they’re having a sing-along of ‘All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth’ at the women’s shelter, I bet there are some there who don’t much feel like joining in.” This got laughs from those who know me pretty well and uncomfortable stares from those who don’t, but given my reputation, it was perfectly appropriate. If, however, I decided to drop my pants, dangle some mistletoe over Little Caesar, and ask if there are any any takers, that would be bad.

There are boundaries I prefer not to cross. Alex and I have been friends for over twenty years and I’d like that to continue. If I found myself disinvited from future Christmas gatherings at his house, I may have no choice but to spend the holidays with my family.

You know the stereotype of the drunken uncle who ruins things for everybody? I would be that drunken uncle. God help me if I ever sink that low.

Rabid Transit

It speaks well of a transit system when one’s commute is not a topic of conversation. It has been my experience that BART achieves that goal more often than not. My trip from the 24th Street Mission to Montgomery is accomplished on autopilot. When I arrive at work, details of how I got there are hazy and unimportant.

It’s not all blissful oblivion, of course. There are minor irritations, mostly products of my personal quirks, to contend with. I don’t like being in close proximity to people I don’t know, which is odd for a city dweller but there you have it. BART cars get full, especially during commute hours, with most of the crowding toward the center of the train. To avoid the packed-sardine feeling, I wait on the platform where I can board the first or last car.

This tactic works pretty well and I’m often able to find an open seat. By open, I mean not having to sit next to someone else. I prefer to stand than do that.

Scoring a seat all to myself by no means guarantees that I’ll be able to keep it for the duration. People board at other stations and want to sit down, sometimes next to me. Unfortunately, I don’t project enough of a “get thee hence” vibe to dissuade them and am unwilling to resort to radical measures like publicly masturbating. BART has their own police force and it would ruin my day if a bunch of cops stormed the train with weapons drawn, shouting “Hey Sicko! You can’t jack off here. This isn’t Muni.”

So you see, I respect the needs of others. If someone really wants to sit next to me, far be it for me to insist otherwise. All I ask is one small favor: no fat people.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all in favor of size acceptance, but I’m also realistic. There is a good chance I will need to exit the train before they do and excessive corpulence can cause problems. Moreover, it has been my experience that passengers’ girth is inversely proportional to the amount they are willing to move their knees. It is only a matter of time before one of my attempts to hurdle these human beanbag chairs gets somebody hurt.

Other than that, consider me a satisfied rider. The BART system works very well, until it doesn’t.

Delays can arise from mechanical failures, police matters, and the occasional suicide. Once the glitch is fixed, the perp handcuffed, or the front of the train hosed off, service resumes but there is a ripple effect. The number of people waiting on all subsequent station platforms has grown during the delay. Boarding and offboarding takes more time, resulting in even more time lost and surliness over the loudspeaker from the train operators.

After such an experience, I find myself saying uncharitable things about BART to friends and coworkers. I’m really not being fair. Things could be a lot worse, or as my imaginary cop friend so aptly put it, “This isn’t Muni.”

A Walter Mitty Moment

Come on down to the Oakland Coliseum for one night only. You will be on the edge of your seat as you witness “Celebrating Innocence,” a life-size diorama of children at play, get utterly demolished by the meanest monster truck of them all…KIDFUCKER!!!

This is not the sort of thing one should think about, let alone chuckle over, and certainly not during the weekly engineering meeting.

I keep my head down so no one can see me smirking. If noticed, they may ask me what I’m snickering about and that will not do. There is no satisfactory explanation I can give these people, none that would get them to laugh along at any rate. They’re grown ups and professionals. I just fake it reasonably well.

My boss is laying out the projects and milestones between now and the middle of January. At least I think that’s what he’s talking about. Between my daydreams of monster-truck shows, group sex among the developmentally disabled, and man-eating llamas at the petting zoo, there simply hasn’t been time to pay much attention.

“So Dave, do you think it’s doable?” he asks.

“You bet,” I say, hoping what I’m agreeing to are a few bug fixes and features to be completed at a leisurely pace instead of rewriting the entire code base or sucking his dick.

To be honest, there’s not much to worry about. He’s diligent and driven, but reasonable. Expectations of performance will be realistic. Expectations of fellatio will be non-existent.

As always, I’ll try to keep up my end of the bargain. Deadlines will be met and quality of work will be high. I don’t know if could be considered a great software engineer but I know I’m a pretty good one. I take pride in a track record of accomplishment rather than disaster. This pride is integral to my continued professional success.

That said, you have to admit that a monster truck called “KIDFUCKER” would be pretty damn amusing.

Poppy, Cock

Assignment: Lust

By Winston Reynolds

192 pp.

© 1964

Publisher: L.S. Publications Corp.

Series: An Original Gaslight Book GL 114

Heroin is not sexy but infiltrating a smuggling ring can be. At least that’s true if you buy into the premise of Assignment: Lust. Eschewing techniques such as informants and wiretaps, the authorities enlist the aid of a sexpot journalist and send her to Algeria to investigate.

Indeed, there is nothing that makes the criminal element drop their guard like having a member of the press hanging around.

But never mind the lack of plausibility. The author wants you to direct your attention to Maggie Barton, the curvaceous reporter who enjoys having lots of sex with both men and women. The narcotics-investigation component of the story does serve a purpose though. It provides a reason for Maggie to travel from one exotic locale to another. Without it, all of her sexual exploits would come from cruising restrooms at the airport.

Maggie’s itinerary first takes her to Algiers where she meets a local film actor. After they have sex, he reveals by using the code word “primrose” that he is a fellow agent working on the case. He makes arrangements for her to meet Ali Ben Haroud, an old college friend whom he suspects is involved in the drug trade.

She takes a chartered flight south to Haroud’s palatial home. There she has a hot sapphic encounter with a belly dancer. Later, Maggie is tied to a pole and felt up by the men of the village prior to being flogged by her host. “How rude, Haroud,” you may say but Maggie likes it. A lot.

When she returns to Algiers, the other investigators praise her for reporting observations that confirm what they pretty much knew to begin with. She is offered a chance to continue the mission in Rome and off she goes.

The plot thickens as she beds a guy who used to star in Tarzan movies and then indulges herself in kinky goodness with a whip-wielding lesbian. Next stop is Paris and a threesome with an artist and a male model.

In the end, Maggie’s repeatedly being brought to climax results in the guilty being brought to justice. If only the real War on Drugs were this much fun.

A Trivial Gauntlet

For those of us with jobs where we don’t have to wear name tags, this is the time for the company holiday party. It is an occasion where we can eat, drink, relax, and temporarily forget what tools most of our coworkers are.

Kick up your heels, but not too far. We’ve all heard heard the cautionary tales about how excessive drinking and going berserk at these events can cost you your job. So if you get fired for grabbing random asses, dancing naked on the bar, and taking a shit in the CEO’s martini, don’t say you’ve never been warned.

Are these take-heed stories really necessary? Perhaps they are for the kind of people who need to be reminded that having sex with a light socket is not a good idea. For the rest of us, they’re good for a chuckle and that’s about it.

Not that this stops finger-wagging members of the press from jumping into the fray. Gosh darn that demon rum, they tell us in op-ed fluff every year. It can make a festive occasion your downfall.

OK, maybe getting completely hammered is inadvisable, but an evening of sobriety is no picnic either. I’ve attended enough holiday parties to know that any moment, the sales guys may start wearing their neckties like headbands and forming a conga line. You try being subjected to that without a few drinks in your system. One year, the president of the company where I worked decided to treat the employees to a 45-minute slide show of his children. It was only a steady supply of liquor that kept us from lynching him.

Of course, there are a few guidelines to acknowledge when boozing with coworkers:

  • A DUI will not stay a secret for long. Take a cab home.
  • Your immediate supervisor does not want to know what you really think of him or her.
  • Caution: Objects in beer goggles are fatter than they appear.

That’s it. Seasoned drinkers don’t have to worry about running amok after a few cocktails. We got that out of systems years ago. The amateurs are the real menace. Leave us responsible lushes alone.

Paging Ruben Patricio

I have never met the man but he seems to be a popular guy. Ruben Patricio apparently had my cell number before I got it in 2004. Since then, I’ve received countless calls from people looking for him.

Perhaps he won the lottery and hasn’t picked up his check, but somehow I doubt that. My guess is that he owes people a whole lot of money. Maybe his cell-phone service got cut off from non-payment or perhaps it was just one part of his plan to step away from an identity that served him but no longer suits his purposes.

That’s how I would like to imagine Ruben Patricio, living in luxury on tropical island. With one hand holding an umbrella drink and the other feeling up a frisky native girl, he has accomplished what most of us only dream of. He has beaten the system.

The reality is likely far less romantic. He probably ran up huge debts and found there was no way he was ever going to pay them off. Hounded by collection agencies, getting rid of the cell phone would eliminate at least some of the aggravation.

Is he a deadbeat? Maybe. People often mistake a credit line for free money and behave accordingly. Then again, he could have doing just fine with his financial obligations until he lost his jobs in a massive round of layoffs. There has been a lot of that going on in recent years.

In the past, someone in similar straits would simply declare bankruptcy. You could only do it once every seven years and it put a nasty blot on your credit rating, but it gave you a clean slate. This system lasted until the 1990s when the credit-card lobby started to gripe.

There was a time when a person looking to establish credit was faced with a Catch-22. You needed to have already credit in order to get any. Fortunately, there were ways around this. You could get a family member to co-sign. If none were available, it was easier to get a card from a gas station or a store like Sears. The limits were ridiculously low but after you established a pattern of prompt payment, you were deemed worthy of plastic from the big kids.

Pattern establishing takes time and the credit-card companies proved to be an impatient bunch. They started an aggressive marketing campaign, targeting those they traditionally considered high risk. What could go wrong?

As you can imagine, the bankruptcy rate skyrocketed. With hurt looks on their faces and briefcases full of campaign cash, lobbyists descended on Washington demanding reform. Delinquent debtors were vilified as parasites on the very fabric of society and in 2005, legislation was signed making a clean slate obtainable only after you have been bled completely dry.

The new law was a godsend for the collection agencies. Though legally barred from calling you at four a.m. and threatening to poison your dog unless full remittance is made forthwith, there are plenty of daylight hours for them to harass you using less strongarm tactics.

My credit is good and I have to deal with these swine on a regular basis. “No,” I tell them. “I am not Ruben Patricio. I don’t know the man and have never met anyone with that name. Please leave me alone.” They don’t. The only way to get them off your back is to convincingly threaten them with legal action. Even then, it’s a partial victory. There are plenty of other collection companies that will jump right in.

So if you’re reading this, Ruben, do me a favor. Tell these collectors you can’t reached at my number. But whatever you do, pay them nothing. It only encourages them.

Sobriety Rears Its Ugly Head

I didn’t drink last night. There simply wasn’t time. I had planned to leave work about six and then head down to the Argus for an evening of whiskey and bad jokes.

No such luck. My employers had scheduled the last release of the year for Thursday and my code was riddled with bugs. Since my attitude has yet to degenerate into truly not giving a shit, I was at the office until after nine trying to make it all better.

My friend Alex would laugh at me for bemoaning my long day. Every morning before five, he is up and keeps working until after five in the evening. His schedule is insane and he will probably drop dead at an early age, but he has earned his right to scoff.

After leaving the office, I walked the six blocks of dead city streets to the BART station. The eateries and bars had closed. The after-work crowd had either gone home or relocated to somewhere more festive. The homeless, lacking anyone to panhandle, had likewise given up and left. Until I got within a couple of blocks of Market Street, it was just me and the odd passing car.

Down in the BART there was a four-minute wait until the next train, which wasn’t bad. You often have to hang out for much longer at that hour. Most of the people around me looked about as tired as I felt. The exception was a young guy in a furry hat with cat ears, dancing around to his iPod like those silhouetted hipsters in the commercials. I used to have energy like that. I wonder whatever happened to it.

When I got back to the Mission, I was too exhausted to want to go for a drink. Instead, I stopped by a corner store for a sandwich and went home.

Life doesn’t have to be this way. I remember a line from an old Clash song: “I empty a bottle. I feel a bit free.” There will be time enough for that this evening. If there isn’t, I’ll make time.

Slip It Inn

They Came To Sin

By Don Holliday

190 pp.

© 1966

Publisher: Corinth Publications

Series: Nightstand Books NB1806

To enjoy They Came To Sin, I had to rid myself of preconceptions about where the story was supposed to go. Like many people born after 1960, I was raised on a diet of teen slasher films. When presented with a tale of oversexed college kids who go on a trip and veer off the beaten path, I expect most of them to die horribly at the hands of some guy in a goalie mask.

But this is not a flick, slasher or otherwise. These four kids, thumbing their nose at bourgeois morality go on a two-week journey and…who cares? They’re annoying and the best parts of the book are enhanced by their absence. Don Holliday seems to agree as these characters make themselves scarce for about half its length. Sure, they arrive at the inn, act smug, and do their share of fornication while there. The real story though, at least what did it for me, was of the people running the place.

Proprietors Mrs. Cabal and her daughter Rebecca hate sin because it is, well, sinful. They are none too pleased about the arrival of their libertine young guests but are content to vent their displeasure with a few derisive sneers behind their backs. When it comes to lashing out at wickedness, the two have plenty to keep them busy without involving outsiders.

Rebecca’s younger sister Elizabeth has gone insane, leaving her feral and decidedly lacking in sexual restraint. She is locked in a cage stark naked to keep her on the straight and narrow.

This may seem like an effective tactic but in practice, the victory of family values over indecency is far from total. Ajax, the mute, deformed, and retarded porter visits Elizabeth when his sexual urges get the better of him. Though the young woman is an eager participant, neither mom nor sister condone the encounter. Ajax must be punished.

They keep a whip handy in the basement for just such occasions. While Elizabeth watches and howls like an animal, Mrs. Cabal and Rebecca take turns torturing the man. The daughter is by far the crueler of the two and aims the whip straight for the groceries.

Lest you think that Rebecca is motivated only by sadism, the author gives us a clue that her own shame and guilt over her own lust are at work here. On occasion, she masturbates (gasp) and when she does, her penance for the deed is to leave her door unlocked so Ajax can lumber in and have his way with her. She makes a point of protesting the dullard’s advances but not enough to dissuade him. Her words may say no but her body is pulling his neck wallet and begging for more.

Then the story gets weird.

We learn about the father, no slouch himself in the special-needs department, who mistakes his daughter for his wife and does something really inappropriate as a result. Mom walks in on the two of them and he dies in the ensuing battle. We discover what chain of events drives a wedge between the sisters’ once sapphic closeness, reducing one to a naked beast in a cage and turning the other into a pillar of sadomasochistic puritanism.

When the guests finally do reemerge toward the end of the book, they understandably find themselves out of their element. College can only prepare you for so much.