Authors who publish independently on the subject of relationships and sexuality are soon acquainted with the industry’s strictures. They boil down to two: 1) If the content of your book contains graphic descriptions of sex, it will likely get involuntarily pegged as “erotica,” even if you thought you were writing something literary. 2) If the cover of your book is too sexually suggestive, it’s also likely to get pegged as erotica or simply turned down for distribution altogether. And then there’s Facebook, which is not less but far more comprehensive in its family-friendly guidelines and requires a considerably steeper learning curve. But first a few observations on book content before moving on to our primary concern, book covers, and finally Facebook.
“Poxie! Chou biaozi!” cursed the naked man as he punched and kicked the prostitute. “Ni ge jianbi! Ni die wo yijing ba ni bi cao lan le!”
“Bie da wo le!” she begged him.
Malmquist was just as startled by his sudden appearance in the attic brothel as they were, but he recognized the man and the man him. Dispensing with formalties, he knocked the wind out of the man with his fist, put his head in an armlock and bashed his face against the wall until he grew limp.
“Shenme yisi?” said the startled proprietor as Malmquist dashed down the ladder and out of the eatery.
The prostitute appeared on the steps to announce while pointing at Malmquist, “Nage nanren feichang ouda keren le. Kuailai ba!”
He had already disappeared down the lanes across the Palatine in the direction of the Circus Maximus.
“Haidou dangzyu ngo,” she said.
“What’s going on? You’re putting me in a jail cell full of guns,” Malmquist said, grabbing her by the arm.
“Ng!” She pulled away.
“Wingyee, please don’t leave me.”
She was already gone. The cell’s bright lighting dimmed and all that remained was the glare of a bare bulb hanging from the ceiling. It was a basement. Industrial steel shelving housed a comprehensive gun collection and stacks of ammunition. Dug out of one wall was a hole big enough for a person to go through. Malmquist went up the basement stairs and placed his ear against the door at the top. Fragments of a conversation were audible.
“….What’s bandage head’s name again? Heard he’s in the area….”
“….Set the sick fuck on fire….no trace….blow him away.”
“….Lemme get the….”
One of the voices grew louder and closer. “What’s he got to do with it, rectum face?”
“I didn’t mean that.”
“You stupid cum-eating dumster mouth feedbag fucktard!”
The door opened. From behind the stairway where he had hidden himself just in time, Malmquist could see someone’s legs trotting down through the steps. They stopped halfway, then headed back up.
His rainbow-tattooed penis proudly displayed, the old hippie considered what to say next to Malmquist,. “It’s like this,” he said, an imaginary sphere poised on his fingertips.
“Hey, how’s it going?”
“That’s what I was getting at.”
“Haven’t we had this conversation before?”
“All conversation is the same. What’s different is the man.”
“Cool. Here’s to Ray.” Malmquist clinked glasses with Cornelius. “Damn this ale is good. Why did I just toast to Ray?”
“That’s just what I was getting at.”
“One minute I was talking to her, then I’m talking to you. I don’t remember you coming back.”
“I never left, man.”
“But you clearly did.”
“Yeah, I left for a moment, but I didn’t really leave. I’m always here. Ray left.”
“I don’t remember that. Didn’t I already leave and come back?”
“You did. You two left together before I returned.”
“I know as a fact I left because I’m still frying from the acid I ingested in ancient Rome. But I didn’t know I left with her.”
TRUTH IS ON THE MARCH
NOTHING CAN STOP IT NOW
Malmquist slammed the straw pillow with his hand. “Fuck!”
Attica walked in. “Quid agis? Esne bene?”
“Do you have a candle? I can’t see the writing clearly in here. It’s too dark,” he said as he played with his tunic.
“A candle. You know, light. Fire. A candle.” He depicted a candle with his fingers, pulling upward to show a flame.
“Mentula sagittandi?” She masturbated an imaginary cock.
“No! I don’t mean a hand-job. I mean a candle, with a flame.”
She returned with a candle. The grimy cubbyhole illumined, the tunic now spelled out:
I’M NOT EASY
BUT WE CAN DISCUSS IT
“I’m fucked. I’ve lost the connection and it now seems to be mocking me. Oh, of course, you wouldn’t understand.”
She pointed to her sundial watch. “Hora est.”
He pointed at a food tray behind the cafeteria counter.
“Oh, you again. Hominy grits?” she asked.
“Can’t give you a lot. Everybody get the same portion.”
“I didn’t ask for a lot. I said there’s a lot.”
“What you mean?”
“You asked me hominy grits, and I’m telling you how many grits are in that pan.”
“Your humor so bad it’s good. Anyway you can’t eat shit. You can’t fool me on that score. I can serve you a coffee, though. I want to watch that trick of yours again. You seen him do that coffee trick, Akeeshea?”
Deshondra served Algernon a cup of coffee.
“Yep, you folks just lovin’ the sugar,” said Algernon as he opened the dispenser into the coffee and held up his other hand to high-five her. Without taking his eyes off her, he stopped the flow of sugar just in time before the coffee overflowed. “Tee-hee.”
The ladies stared poker-faced.
“Don’t know how the hell you do that,” said Deshondra. “But you again wasted us a half dispenser of sugar.”
“Poor man’s cocaine.”