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Flash Fiction Friday: The Leader

by: John Wayne Comunale
Jonathan Switz was loved and renowned by his people as much if not more than he was loathed and reviled by them. Such is the plight of every leader, but Switz remained unaffected. He couldn’t feel the love, hate, or indifference of his people because he lacked the capability. Something had turned that part of him off.

He thought he remembered what love and hate felt like, but couldn’t be sure if he was only convincing himself the memory existed. Switz had no idea how long he’d been in The Isolation, but he knew he was a leader and not much past that.

The who and the where escaped him, and while he felt constantly on the cusp of remembering, he never did. Most days he received a message he was to make a speech or declaration of some kind. The message wasn’t written or dictated but came in the form of a buzzing tingle at the base of his brain. A spotlight would appear. Jonathan would stand in it and begin to recite words as they scrolled through his mind like a psychic teleprompter.

Two holographic symbols appeared in front of him at least four or five times a day. The symbols, a red triangle and a yellow circle, represented a different difficult decision for Jonathan. To make this decision he simply had to reach out and touch one of the holograms. That was that. The shapes would disappear and return later with another decision for the great leader to make.

Switz never knew what the decisions were or how they affected his people. All he knew was the shapes would hover before him until he reached out and touched one.

Jonathan tried to glean some context as to what may be going on from the speeches he made, but they were mostly non-committal political rhetoric or vague, sweeping answers easily applicable to a myriad of problems. The words flew through his head so fast he didn’t have time to comprehend what he rattled off.

He made the shapes wait once. He wanted to see if after a certain amount of time the options changed or more information was given, but no such luck. The red triangle and yellow circle simply hung in the air and followed Switz around glowing dully, silently pressuring him to make a choice until he did.

He wondered if the amount of time he waited before choosing had any bearing on the outcome or if everything stopped frozen in time until Jonathan Switz touched a glowing shape.

When the shapes appeared again, Switz decided he just wasn’t going to touch them forever. Maybe if he waited long enough the outside world would be thrown off balance and free him from The Isolation, allow him to feel something again.

Jonathan vowed to himself if and when he ever got out he would step down as leader immediately. Even if through some twist of fate the blind choices he’d made created the perfect utopian existence and he was haled far and wide, he would still walk away.

Days and days went by, or what Switz was able to perceive as days, but the shapes remained present with no change.

Jonathan stared vacantly at the shapes floating silently in front of him and was struck with an idea. It seemed so simple, and he felt foolish for not thinking of it until just then. He would touch both of the shapes at the same time. It sounded easier than he knew it would be, but it was something he’d never tried before.

He stepped as close as he could to the shapes without touching and put his hands up in front of them. He did his best to put the same amount of space between each hand and its corresponding shape, but had to step back and try again several times before he could stop shaking.

Switz took several deep breaths, shook the trembling from his hands, and stepped back up to the shapes. He put his hands as close as he could to each shape without touching, and then quickly thrust them forward at the same time.

The triangle and the circle disappeared leaving the space noticeably dimmer with the absence of their dismal glow. Jonathan stood still; his hands out in front of him, and waited for something, for anything to happen. When it didn’t he lowered his hands and clenched them into fists.

He didn’t feel the tingle in his palms at first until the sensation intensified rapidly forcing him to recognize the burn. He unclenched, looked down at his palms, and saw his hands had turned the color of the shape they had touched. It was more than just color though, his hands had taken on the low-level luminescence of the shapes as well.

Jonathan turned his hands over a to see the strange phenomenon completely covered them, and a prickling sensation shot across his wrists as the glowing colors started to work their way down both arms. It moved slowly at first, like thickly applied paint dripping down the wall, but quickly gained momentum and was to his shoulder in a second.

Colored light exploded across his vision as if he’d looked directly into two suns. Light was all he could see for several seconds until it faded into an unsavory, inky, thick darkness. Jonathan shook with spasms as the foreign substance enveloped his body and plunged down his throat.

Through the darkness Switz saw bright spirals of light that reached out with an invisible force to pull him into them.

As he got closer, Switz began to feel something. It was hard for him to make sense of it at first because the ability to feel was a faculty he no longer possessed. His synapses latched onto the odd sensation and flung it back into his system, reactivating the long-atrophied sensors.

Something changed inside of Jonathan, and he was flooded with feelings to the point of being overwhelmed. He felt the pain of his people from all the decisions he’d made that hurt them, but he also felt the joy from when he’d done them right. Love overtook him so intensely, he was confused and unable to derive its origin, but he was comforted nonetheless.

The choking darkness of hate and envy fell upon Jonathan the heaviest and sank its fangs deep into his neck. Switz flailed against the foul emotion but found it impossible to break from the invisible force holding him in place.

Jonathan Switz had figured out a way to make himself feel again, but there was a side affect of his successful experiment. He felt everything at once. The intense love, hate, and all that comes in-between hit Switz in one single gigantic wave.

The intensity broke him and Jonathan’s his frazzled brain shut down, but not before he remembered why he’d come into The Isolation. Not before he remembered none of this mattered.

The swirling orange and yellow light pulled Jonathan into it, and he was gone. A crack ran down the black, wet sky of The Isolation like long, lazy lightning. When it struck the ground, the sky crumbled and fell to reveal the same sky right behind it.

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John Wayne Comunale lives in the land of purple drank known as Houston, Texas. He is a writer for the comedic collective MicroSatan; the author of The Porn Star Retirement Plan, Charge Land, Aunt Poster, and Scummer; and the writer/illustrator of the comic-zine: The Afterlife Adventures of johnwayneisdead. If that’s not enough, he also tours with the punk rock disaster: johnwayneisdead. If you’re in Williamsburg, Virginia tonight, you can see him reading live at Scares That Care. If you miss that, you can still listen to his podcasts here and here.

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Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


New Release: Scummer

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A filthy barfly haunts the bar down the road. He lives off the leftover dregs of the patrons’ beers and spent cigarettes he finds on the ground. He may be living in the trunk of someone’s car. His name is Scummer. He’s mysterious and elusive. He’s unbound by inhibitions and you want to be just like him.

Get it here


Podcastlandia!

Get a dose of weird with recent episodes of some of our favorite podcasts and vlogs, including…

JOHN WAYNE LIED TO YOU: Episode 40 – The Day I Used Up All My White Privilege

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and

REVIEW ME PLEASE: S02 E02A Ayalew Mesfin – Hasabe (My Worries) Unboxing

 

 


Podcastlandia!

This week’s roundup of podcasts incluuuuuudddeeesss….

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BIZZONG! Featuring the 2017 Recipient of the Wonderland Book of the Year Award, Danger Slater. Danger talks about his moment at BizarroCon when he won the award and how it affected him. More important, we talk about his newest book, which comes out February 14th, 2018. He Digs A Hole is chock full of symbolism and analogies. And just went you think you’ve got this clever little narrative all figure out, BOOM, in steps the world’s most explosive writer to lay down some fourth wall breaking commentary that somehow manages to weave its way into the plotline as well.

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GET LIT WITH LEZA! Rios de la Luz is a queer xicana/chapina author of the short story collection, The Pulse Between Dimensions and The Desert and the novella, Itzá. She lives in El Paso with the love of her life and her beautiful dog. Rios and Leza talk about magic, dreams, Korean dramas, & dealing with trauma through art.

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JOHN WAYNE LIED TO YOU! John Wayne Comunale says: I’m back fresh from Days of the Dead in Atlanta where I shared a table with two very delightful gentlemen: David W. Barbee and Mike Lombardo, and this week’s story is about that very trip. What a time was had in which I learned many things, gained new perspective on art and life, and turned into a big softy when it came to kids and reading. I hope you enjoy listening to these adventures as much as we did having them. In sadder new, we really miss our Uncle Charles . . .

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AND REVIEW ME PLEASE! Technically not a podcast, but this is a special two-parter! Michael and PJ have genuine celebrity guests, cocktails, and the unboxing of Fiona Apple! See Part 1 and Part 2 on their YouTube channel.


Flash Fiction Friday: Mama’s Boy

by: John Wayne Comunale

“Maybe this isn’t the best time to mention this,” I said just before squeezing the trigger, “but I’m your brother.”

I know he heard me too. I could see the weight of my flippant confession smack his flat forehead and reverberate recognition through his eyes in the brief moment just before the bullet ripped his head apart. The wound opened the back of his head wide and exploded out with the sweetest tasting strawberry jam. It was the same strawberry jam our mother made for us, although separately since neither of us could know the other existed.

For quite some time, mother was successful in keeping up this charade, and while she was always able to keep my brother in the dark, I had figured it out quite some time ago. The thought of having to share mother with someone, especially someone I couldn’t see or interact with in any way, drove me insane with rage. I didn’t realize how intense my wrath could be until after the first incident. The fact that I didn’t even feel bad about it made me realize it wouldn’t stop until he was dead. I had to kill this unknown being bound to me by blood along with anyone who got in the way.

Including her.

Including mother.

The first incident I had no memory of, but it was told back to me with vivid details via eyewitness accounts. Mother had just gone, and I knew she was going to him. She was going to feed him the strawberry jam. She was going to dote on him now. The last thing I remembered was a heightened feeling of anger that rose from my feet to quickly overtake me. That’s when I stopped remembering. That’s where I went blank.

Apparently I was inconsolable.

Apparently I swelled with strength.

Apparently I killed them all.

Mother came home and found us all like this, and she knew the jig was up. Like a boulder hanging by a thread, it was only a matter of time before I snapped and destroyed everything she’d worked so hard to build. She didn’t try to reason with me because I was far beyond the point of reason. I didn’t care about mother’s work or the importance thereof. I just cared about finding this secret brother of mine and destroying him.

I cared so much about killing him that when I killed her, when I killed mother, I didn’t even care. It wasn’t about her anymore. It was about him.

Finding him wasn’t hard since I was led by an unknown force desperately driving me to succeed. Hacking my way through those who surrounded him was just as easy and forgettable as the others. He was confused and cried out for mother with fear in his voice. I delighted in knowing his cries were in vain. He looked like a puny, extra-needy and helpless version of myself. He was despicable and I felt no remorse for what I did, and I still don’t.

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John Wayne Comunale lives in the land of purple drank known as Houston, Texas. He is a writer for the comedic collective MicroSatan and contributes creative non-fiction for the theatrical art group, BooTown. When he’s not doing that, he tours with the punk rock disaster: johnwayneisdead. He is the author of The Porn Star Retirement Plan, Charge Land, and Aunt Poster as well as writer/illustrator of the comic-zine: The Afterlife Adventures of johnwayneisdead. You can listen to his podcasts hereJohn Wayne is an American actor who died in 1979.

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Submit your bizarro flash fiction at FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com.


Podcastlandia: Listen Like You were There!

Today’s installment of Podcastlandia presents another episode of JOHN WAYNE LIED TO YOU, where Old Man Comunale has a senior moment and accidentally deletes the episode. Not to worry, it was reposted and you can listen to a brand new story and John Wayne’s recap of BizarroCon 2017.

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And as a bonus, a new podcast has been created by Lucas Mangum and his lovely wife Jean! The Mangum Show will review shows and movies, plus guests, readings, interviews and more! Check it out here. You know you want to. Just look at them adorable faces.

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And finally, horror writers Brian Keene, Lesley Conner, Mary SanGiovanni, Damien Angelica Walters, J.P. Sloan, and our very own weirdo Eric Hendrixson all appeared on the latest episode of Eating the Fantastic.

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Take it From Dracula…

John Wayne Comunale and Grindhouse Press have released another specimen of literary evil, Death Pacts and Left-Hand Paths. But you don’t have to take my word for it…


Podcast-landia!

What sort of podcast shenanigans are our weirdos getting into?

First, Leza Cantoral’s GET LIT WITH LEZA features Troma director Salem Kapsaski talking about his recent film, Spidarlings, which is a punk horror musical full of drama, Drag Queens, deadly spiders, & lesbian romance. It has to be seen to be believed. It is surreal, beautiful, and romantically grotesque.

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Then there’s JOHN WAYNE LIED TO YOU, the definitive record of John Wayne Comunale’s too-weird-to-be-true existence. And that’s not all, because Comunale’s latest book from Grindhouse Press, DEATH PACTS AND LEFT-HAND PATHS is now available! Get it at amazon.


Preorder Trailer for DEATH PACTS AND LEFT-HAND PATHS

Who doesn’t love evil floating heads. Not you is the answer to that question. Here’s an exceptionally evil specimen with news that you can preorder John Wayne Comunale’s DEATH PACTS AND LEFT-HAND PATHS on Amazon (officially released on Oct 3rd).


Book Teaser: Death Pacts for Left Hand Paths

Coming this October from John Wayne Comunale and Grindhouse Press is the tongue-twisting title DEATH PACTS FOR LEFT HAND PATHS!


Flash Fiction Friday: I Likes ’Em Trashy

by: John Wayne Comunale

I’ve always liked my women a little on the trashy side. The ones with elaborate, unnecessary makeup, boots that are way too high with skirts that are way too short, and piercing eyes glaring from beneath dramatically cut, Betty Page bangs. Throw in a few tattoos for good measure and I’m a happy man. Naturally, I included this bit of information when I signed up for the new threeway app, Thrinder. I was surprised by the quick response shortly after posting my profile, but I went with it.

The message I received said to meet at a bar called The Tri-Corner Hat for drinks and conversation before getting down to business. The couple’s names were Greg and Terry, and according to our correspondence, they were very excited to meet me. When I walked in, I was thrown off by the total darkness of the place, but I figured when you’re meeting up with someone you met online for a threesome the last thing you wanted was an abundance of light. There was a man sitting at the bar sipping a drink that I recognized as Greg from his picture. He was wearing a ratty, black ball cap pulled down over his eyes, which he also wore in the picture I saw.

“Hey there,” I said walking up to the bar. “You’re Greg I take it?”

“Oh yeah,” he said, smiling wide. “That’s me. You must be Larry.”

“Guilty as charged,” I answered, immediately regretting my corny quip. “Nice to meet you. Is Terry here somewhere?”

“No, actually, she’s not,” he said. “She likes me to meet the other person first to make sure it’s a good fit for us. You understand?”

“Oh yeah, man,” I said. “Totally.”

“So,” said Greg, “you like ‘em trashy, huh?”

“That’s right,” I said, trying to be as casual as possible. “That’s just always been my type.”

“Well, you’re gonna’ love Terry. She’s as trashy as they come.”

“Sounds great,” I replied. “So when do I get to meet her?”

“Soon,” he said. “First, I need to ask if you’re cool with some pretty kinky shit.”

I’d had my fair share of interesting sexual encounters in my life, so I felt I could answer confidently.

“Oh yeah, man,” I said leaning into him, “the kinkier the better.”

I didn’t really have a proclivity for kink, but I wanted to set him at ease and get the show on the road. I was excited for this, but didn’t want to waste my whole night.

“That’s good,” he said, “real good. Terry and I like to get a little weird sometime, if you know what I mean.”

“I sure do,” I said, elbowing him playfully in the ribs even though I had no idea what he meant. “I’m down with the get down.” Another cheesy line I regretted.

“Fuck it then,” said Greg slamming his drink. “Let’s get out of here.”

I followed him out of the bar and turned toward the street, but Greg grabbed my shoulder and spun me around.

“It’s this way,” he said, pointing down the alley between the bar and the abandoned building next to it.

“Oh, uh, okay,” I said, following him into the darkness.
“Terry’s gonna’ be so jazzed to meet you man. We’ve been looking for someone that really clicks with us, and I have a good feeling about you.”

“I aims to please,” I said, seemingly unable to not speak in groan-worthy quips.

The alley was typical as far as alleys go. Bare brick walls lined either side, and piles of garbage sat atop mystery puddles of trash-water.

“So where are we going anyway?”

“To meet up with Terry,” said Greg without looking back at me. “You wanna’ go meet Terry right?”

“Of course,” I said. “Just curious that’s all.”

“It’s not much farther,” he said, attempting to be reassuring.

Ahead, I could see a dumpster with light peeking out from the other side of it, and the closer we got, I began to hear voices. The light turned out to be a trash barrel fire, and the voices belonged to two bums warming themselves around it. They stopped mid-sentence to gawk as we passed.

“Hey there,” said one of them. “You going to see Terry?”

The grizzled bum smiled, revealing a single black tooth in the center of his top gums. His right hand moved from the fire to his crotch, where he began to rub awkwardly while licking his scab-covered lips.

“I bet he is,” said the other bum whose tooth count doubled that of his counterpart. “He’s got that look.”

They both laughed, and rubbed at themselves. I could see the bulges in their pants reacting to the stimulus.

“Shut up, you degenerates,” spat Greg. “Why don’t you two go fuck yourselves!”

“Sounds good to me,” said the first bum as he reached over with his free hand to grab his friend’s face and guide it to his own. The two began to sloppily make out, which sounded like someone kneading wet dough.

“Don’t mind them. They don’t know shit,” said Greg pointing to a door up ahead. “Almost there.”

I nodded and sped up to be next to him.

“So, what’s Terry like?” I asked. “I mean, you haven’t really told me too much.”
“What’s to tell?” he answered. “She’s extra trashy, just like you like ‘em, she’s into freaky shit, and she’s down to fuck. What else do you wanna’ know?”

“Uh . . . well, I guess that’s good enough for me.”

The amount of trash lining the alley now was stacked over five feet high in some places, and the smell was unbearable. Greg grabbed at the lever on the door and turned to face me.

“You ready?”
“Oh yeah,” I said, more ready to get out of the smothering trash than anything else.

Greg pulled the handle up and pushed in to open the door. It screeched like a cat being drug beneath a city bus, and I guessed it hadn’t been oiled since its installation. The room was dark but Greg stepped in, hit a switch on the wall to his left, and a single light crackled to life from the ceiling shining down on the center of the room. It was completely empty save for a giant pile of trash bags, which the light shined directly on. Greg crossed his arms and smiled staring at the pile.

“What is this?” I asked.

“That’s Terry,” he said, pointing to the pile. “Ain’t she a beaut?”

I scanned the room to make sure I wasn’t missing something.

“A beaut?” I said. “She’s a pile of trash.”

“Exactly,” he said. “You like ‘em trashy don’t ya’?”

“Yeah, but . . . “

Greg walked to the pile he called Terry and I followed. The smell was worse than in the alley, and I could see most of the bags were ripped, spilling rotten food, used diapers, and other unidentifiable, greasy trash innards.

“What are you waiting for?” asked Greg. “Let’s do this!”

He dropped his pants, exposing his very erect, very large penis, which he promptly buried into the side of Terry. I’m not sure what came over me, but I was instantly aroused and, not wanting to be outdone, I dropped my pants to show off my considerable endowment as well.

“Now we’re talking,” said Greg. “Get on in there. She’s nice and wet.”

Before I knew it, I was humping along with Greg at a furious pace. I grabbed at lumps of wet garbage that came away in my hand as I tried to find purchase on top of Terry. I rolled around her, sticking myself into any opening I could find, and they were all wet with anticipation. I found myself so engrossed in what I was doing that I forgot about Greg until I heard him cry out.

“Oh man, oh man,” he called from the other side of Terry where he was thrusting away with reckless abandon. “I’m gonna’ cum!”

I eased up and repositioned myself, thinking it was kind of soon for him to already be cumming, but I wasn’t going to say anything.

“Oh yeah, baby. Oh yeah, baby,” he said, panting as he reached climax. “Oh yeeeaaahhhh!”

I watched as Greg shook with the intensity of his orgasm, savoring every last quake. At the height of it, he threw his head back, and his cap fell to the floor behind him. Something was wrong with the way his head looked, but I didn’t want to believe it at first. The top of Greg’s head was a garbage bag with bits of paper, coffee grinds, and other trash spilling from it.

“What the–”

That was all I could muster before Greg’s face fell off and more trash spilled out from behind it. I watched in disbelief, while still pumping away of course, as his body fell apart in front of me, revealing more lumpy, leaking bags of trash that fell into Terry, becoming part of her. I was shocked, but I did come here to fuck, so I pounded away until finally finishing. I stepped away from Terry, zipped up, and took one final look around. I walked over to where Greg had been to find all that was left of him was his hat. I picked up the dirty, black thing, dusted it off, and put it on, pulling the brim down firmly over my eyes. I walked to large steel door, opened it, and took one last look at the trash pile.
“Thanks Terry,” I said. “It was fun. Hopefully, I’ll see you around.”

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John Wayne Comunale lives in the land of purple drank known as Houston, Texas. He is a writer for the comedic collective MicroSatan and contributes creative non-fiction for the theatrical art group, BooTown. When he’s not doing that, he tours with the punk rock disaster: johnwayneisdead. He is the author of The Porn Star Retirement Plan, Charge Land, and Aunt Poster as well as writer/illustrator of the comic-zine: The Afterlife Adventures of johnwayneisdead. John Wayne is an American actor who died in 1979.

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Submit your bizarro flash fiction to FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com.


Out Soon: John Wayne Lied to You

Coming soon from Rooster Republic Press and John Wayne Comunale comes the tale of a modern day legend in the making, JOHN WAYNE LIED TO YOU. It’s half autobiography, half creative nonfiction, and an extra half of good old fashioned lies, and will be available for purchase soon. Keep an eye out!

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In the meantime, Comunale has created a new podcast, John Wayne Lied to You, to promote this book and recount his insane real life adventures. Listen! Purchase! Read!


Book Trailer: Charge Land

Hello future residents! Welcome to Charge Land. We’re excited to have you here and hope you join us permanently, but first watch this orientation video to find out all you need to know about our fine land. Also, don’t forget to pick up your official handbook. It is mandatory . .


Out Now: Charge Land

John Wayne Comunale–writer, artist, musician, and not a cowboy movie star–has just released his latest book, Charge Land, which looks like some high-octane shit. Check it out here.

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Jim Charge is in charge. He’s coming through the door with a big dick and a smile, and there’s not a goddamn thing you can do about it! In an attempt to outdo his overachieving father and grandfather he’s taken over the makeup counter of a local department store as his first step on the road to complete domination. With the help of his trusty Number 2, the disembodied head of a shoe salesman, and his never-ending wardrobe of designer suits he’s barreling through any and all adversaries who would dare to challenge his leadership. Not even the President of these fine United States can stand in the way of Jim Charge and his quest to one-up the Charge men who came before him. Put on your lipstick, spray some rose perfume and salute your new flag suckers! Welcome to Charge Land!


Flash Fiction Friday: Chad Party

by John Wayne Comunale

I went to a party a few days ago where I didn’t know anybody. I mean, like I literally knew no one. I guess most people would call this crashing but I didn’t see it that way. I was driving by and saw a ton of cars parked around a house with a bunch of people standing around drinking and talking. I thought; hey, I like drinking. I like talking. I mean, why should I let these assholes have all the fun just because I don’t know them, right? So, I parked a few houses down and walked up the party house.

I nodded a greeting to the people standing in the doorway, which they reciprocated without a break in their conversation. Once inside I made a b-line for what I assumed was going to be the kitchen. I was correct in my assumption and found it to be crowded with strangers gabbing away oblivious to the complete ‘unknown’ who was roaming amongst them.

A door opened leading in from the backyard and I saw that the guy coming in was holding a semi-clear plastic cup filled to the brim with exactly what I was looking for, beer. I headed for the door doing my best not draw unwanted attention my way, but just as I touched the doorknob a hand slapped my shoulder and clamped down.

“Hey dude,” said a voice that belonged to the who the hand was attached to.

I slowly spun around to face him raising an eyebrow as my only form of acknowledgement. He was beefy, tall and blonde. He was wearing a Dave Matthews Band t-shirt, cargo shorts, and flip-flops. Standing next to him was an equally stocky fellow with the exact same haircut, but in a slightly darker shade of blonde. He also wore cargo shorts and flip-flops but was sporting a polo-style shirt with what looked like a tiny seagull emblem just above his left tit. They each introduced themselves to me as ‘Chad’, which seemed about right.

“You gotta’ do shot with us dude,” said Chad.

“I do?”

“Yeah man,” said other Chad. “Do a shot with us dude! You gotta’.”

“Well,” I said, “your logic is sound. Set me up.”

“That’s what I’m talking about,” said Chad. “What was your name again dude?”

“Chad,” I said without a missing it a beat.

“That’s right, that’s right,” said Chad. “Here you go dude.”

He handed me a tall double of what smelled like cheap, low quality tequila that was probably purchased due to the cleverness of its ad campaign. I held the glass waiting for Chad to pour the other shots and used the opportunity to take in my surroundings. The kitchen was filled with nothing but guys wearing cargo shorts in a variety of colors all with eerily similar haircuts. An alarming amount of them also had freshly shaven arms. My eyes rested on one of the guys wearing the exact same Dave Matthews Band shirt as Chad.

“You ready dude?”

Chad followed my sightline and saw what I was looking at.

“Oh yeah, Chad over there showed up wearing the same shirt as me, which is not cool. He thinks he’s a bigger DMB fan than I am, but that’s bullshit.”

“DMB?”

“Isn’t that right Chad you fuckin’ douche? Huh?” Chad called across the kitchen.

Chad responded only by laughing while shooting Chad the bird before chugging his beer.

“Nah, he’s a cool guy though,” said Chad, “alright, let’s do this. What should we drink to?”

Neither myself nor other Chad had a response.

“I got it,” he said. “Let’s drink to you dude. Let’s drink to Chad.”

“Indeed,” I said clinking my glass with Chad and other Chad. “Let’s drink to Chad.”

I left shortly after our toast.

I don’t crash parties anymore.

——

John Wayne lives in Houston Texas where he wiles away the days writing ridiculous stories, and slinging lattes for a bunch of jerks. When he’s not doing that he’s touring with his bands: johnwayneisdead and Letters to Voltron. He also writes and illustrates his own zine: The Afterlife Adventures of johnwayneisdead.


Flash Fiction Friday: I Lost My Keys and Got Crabs

by John Wayne Comunale

I lost my keys after I slept in a bed cursed by an Inuit witch doctor and woke up with what looked like giant snow-crabs dangling from my balls. I figured the reason I got snow-crabs was because my dazzlingly white pubes sparkled like the light that dances across the tops of waves. Either that, or it’s because they’re white and snow is also white.

I needed to confirm for sure that these were indeed snow-crabs, so I visited the seafood counter at my local grocer. The friendly man came from behind the glass, took a close look, and confirmed my suspicion. I had snow-crabs. He was an authority on things like this after all, and who was I to question a professional? Being that I already had the undivided attention of an ‘expert in his field’ I asked if he could tell me what the best way to prepare them would be.

He said, “Why, boiled with a fuck ton of butter, of course.”

I kindly asked him if he used metric or standard fuck tons, and he told me to fuck off. I guess I had inadvertently insulted him. I loaded what I approximated to be the fuck ton of butter I would need for my meal into two shopping carts and made my way to the checkout counter.

When I got there the young cashier exclaimed, “Holy shit, that’s a fuck ton of butter, mister!”

“You think so?” I asked pleased with my measuring skills. I was just eyeballing it, after all.

When I got home I realized I did not own a pot big enough for all the butter and all the snow-crabs. I mean, these were some big fucking snow-crabs. I dumped the butter in the bathtub and used a hairdryer to try and melt it, but the hairdryer overheated and shot sparks all over the floor and the butter. The bathroom caught fire and I savored the aroma of burning butter as I hauled ass out of the house. I watched it burn down from my neighbors yard, sad that I wasn’t going to have snow-crab for dinner that night. I noticed something by my foot shine in the firelight. I looked down and saw my keys.

“Oh,” I said to the snow-crabs, “that’s where I left them.”

—-

John Wayne lives in Houston Texas where he wiles away the days writing ridiculous stories, and slinging lattes for a bunch of jerks. When he’s not doing that he’s touring with his bands: johnwayneisdead and Letters to Voltron. He also writes and illustrates his own zine: The Afterlife Adventures of johnwayneisdead.


Flash Fiction Friday: They Don’t Serve Ice Cream in Hell

by John Wayne Comunale

“Your suffering will be legendary . . . if you eat this and happen to be lactose intolerant.”

The child, not more than four years old, stared up blank-faced at the former Cenobite as he added the third and final scoop of fudge-ripple to a large waffle cone the young boy was clutching tightly with both of his tiny hands. The boy wasn’t scared of the black-eyed, prickly-faced demon, or what he had to say to him. He just wanted to eat as much of the tower of ice cream that teetered in his hands before dropping it, which he eventually did after taking only two steps out the door.

“Pinhead!”

The voice of Mr. O’Rodenberry seemed to come from out of nowhere, and startled him. It made Pinhead remember a fonder time in the not so distant past when it was impossible for him to be startled.

“My office now,” came the voice again from the tiny intercom speaker built into the wall behind him.

“Yes sir,” he sighed placing the ice cream scoop back in its designated, stainless steel holster.

He kept his head down as he walked to the office so he wouldn’t accidentally catch the reflection of himself in the door’s small window. The one thing he hated more than having to wear a pink and purple striped apron, and a stupid paper hat, was actually having to look at himself wearing a pink and purple striped apron with a stupid paper hat. Pinhead heaved another heavy sigh, knocked lightly on Mr. O’Rodenberry’s door, and entered a moment later. Nary a day had gone by since Pinhead started working at O’Rodenberry’s Sweet Frozen Creams that he wasn’t called back to the office for one thing or another. Gone were the days of gluttonously feeding upon the suffering of others as the terror-inducing leader of the Cenobites. Now he filled his time by scooping ice cream, and cleaning the gutters at his mom’s house.

“Get in here and sit the hell down now!”

Mr. O’Rodenberry spit the words at Pinhead through a thick, gruff Southern accent. His voice was rougher than two-day stubble on the chin of a hooker with a pituitary problem. Pinhead kept his head down, removed his hat, and sat in the chair in front of Mr. O’Rodenberry’s desk.

“Jeeeezus fucking Christ, Pinhead,” said Mr. O’Rodenberry. His drawl was so pronounced it seemed like it took him ten minutes just to spit out those four words. “Why does it seem like we have to have this conversation every single day? Now, quite frankly I gotta’ tell you that I am sick and tired of talking about it.”

“Yes sir, I understand . . . “

“You say that,” said Mr. O’Rodenberry cutting of the old demon off, “but I don’t think you do understand. If you understood, then we wouldn’t have to have this conversation everyday, and we certainly wouldn’t be having this conversation now!”

“Mr. O’Rodenberry,” said Pinhead. His voice still held some of the deep timbre of older times, but it no longer struck terror into those he directed it toward. “I am truly sorry, and I can assure you it will not happen again.”

“Well, excuse me all to hell if I have a hard time believing you, because you assured me yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that.”

“Mr. O’Rodenberry . . .”

“Don’t Mr. O’Rodneberry me! Now listen son, you are not a big, scary demon who feeds upon the ultimate suffering of others anymore. You work for me now scooping ice cream at this fine, family friendly ice-creamery. Now, stop talking all that Cenobite, Hellraiser shit to my good payin’ customers, and just scoop the goddamn ice cream. I swear boy, if you’re mother didn’t practically beg me to give you this job I’d have fired your prickly-faced ass a hundred times over. Now, get back out there, and get to scoopin’! So help me if I hear one more word about legendary suffering, or tears, or Jesus weeping, then so help me I’ll give him and you something to cry about!”

Pinhead nodded in reply, placed the paper hat back on his spikey head, and slunk out of the office silently save for the jingle-jangle of the many hooks and chains that dangled from his chest. It was going on six months since he had been unceremoniously fired from the Cenobites, but it felt like it was just yesterday. Everything had been going so well in his life up till then .

It happened so long ago that he didn’t know why it even mattered anymore, especially when you consider all the suffering and pain he had caused throughout his career. He was legendary in . . . well, he was legendary, especially in hell. He didn’t just go around using that phrase willy-nilly. He and his partners, Cecilia and Mark, were out on one of their first cases and were all equally eager to show what they could do, but before they closed the deal things got out of hand. They toyed with their victims for just a bit too long allowing time for one of them to escape. Her name was Kristy, the stupid bitch.

The three figured that if they quickly moved on to another case, and then on to another, and then another, then their failure would slip between the cracks to be lost in the mix, and that was exactly what happened. This is why when Pinhead was called to appear that day before the Grand Council years later he was certain it was to receive a promotion. He had gotten up early and polished his pins until they glinted bright in the light of the hellfire. He’d put on his best hooks and chains, and had his favorite leather torture dress wiped down and treated to bring back it’s original shine and luster. You can imagine the shock when he arrived to find he was on trial.

It happened fast. Faster than Pinhead could react. Faster than he could even begin to try and plead his case. The Council’s harsh judgment left him no longer a bringer of sorrow and pain and ultimate suffering. Now he had been reduced to an odd looking, leather dress-wearing, powerless weirdo with a bad complexion. He lost everything and was forced to move back in with his mother in New Jersey, and work for her secret lover, Mr. O’Rodenberry, in his ice cream shop.

Pinhead passed through the stainless steel swinging door to retake his post behind the counter. He gripped the handle of the scoop while staring off through the front window. His coal-black, pupil-less eyes looked upon a fiery landscape of burning bodies and tortured souls of his fantasy. He saw singed flesh flap in the hot, dry breeze of a paradise he could no longer visit. He saw his former home and his heart, which was once filled with an unquenchable thirst for the pain he stole from others, was now filled heavy with his own sorrow.

Pinhead’s daydream was interrupted when a face materialized through his vision of black and burning sadness. It was the last face on Earth he wanted to see . . . on Earth. It was the face that had been the ultimate source for all of his present problems. It was the face of Kristy. The one who got away. She had walked into the ice cream shop and stood in front of the counter staring at him with a sarcastically cocked eyebrow, and half-sneer.

“Um, like hello?” Kristy waved her hand in front of Pinhead’s face trying to snap him out of his daze. “Are you like awake, or whatever? I totally want some ice cream.”

He couldn’t believe it. There, standing not three feet in front of him was the one miserable, living, sack of organs that had ever escaped from his grasp. The current cause of all the pain and misery his life had become, and the reason he could no longer garner satisfaction from those feelings.

“It’s you,” he said still trying to make sense of the current cosmic twist he was experiencing.

“Like, yeah it’s me,” said the obviously oblivious girl. “Who else would it be? Do I like know you or something?”

“Know me? Do you not remember my child? The suffering?”

“The Suffering? Is that like some kind of band you play in, or something? I guess you do look kind-of familiar. Did you guys open for The Torture Barons last month? I was like so wasted at that show, but I think I remember you guys being good. So, is this like your day job, or something?”

Before he could answer Pinhead turned slightly to see Mr. O’Rodenberry standing there; arms crossed and glaring death rays.

“What was that you were saying, Pinhead?” Came the drawl of Mr. O’Rodenberry’s gravely, and heavily accent-affected voice. “Was that something about suffering I heard?”

Pinhead swallowed hard and managed a smile, as he turned around halfway to acknowledge his boss.

“Why, not at all sir,” he said flatly. “We were merely discussing a performance put on by a local musical troupe, for which this young lady has mistaken me for a member of.”

“Is that a fact?”

“Yes sir, it is,” said Pinhead turning back toward Kristy. “I am sorry ma’am, but I’m afraid you have me confused with someone else. It happens more often than you’d think. I just have one of those faces, I suppose.”

“Yeah okay, whatever,” Kristy said rolling her eyes. “Like I care who you are anyway. Can I like get some ice cream, or are we gonna’ play celebrity look alike all day?”

The sheer insolence of her tone and the arrogance of her actions made it hard to resist the urge for Pinhead to gouge his hooks into her face and pull her eyeballs out.

“Pinhead?” Asked Mr. O’Rodenberry, “you gonna’ help out this nice young lady, or do I need to find someone else who can?”

“Yes, of course sir,” said Pinhead impressed by his ability to make himself sound calm. “I will take care of her posthaste. No need to seek help from elsewhere. What can I get for you, ma’am?”

“Like, finally. Sheesh.”

The squishy fleshling pressed her hands and face up against the glass of the refrigerated counter to get a better look at the flavors. Her greasy nose and filthy digits left smudges and smears across the otherwise spotless glass that Pinhead would have to clean later.

“Might I recommend our organic butterscotch cream made fresh and in house? It really is quite delicious.”

“Butter-what? That sounds stupid. You know, all of this looks really gross. I don’t want any of this stuff.”

“Don’t blow another sale, Pinhead,” whispered Mr. O’Rodenberry into an ear that had heard thousands of death-rattle shrieks.

“Perhaps a nice strawberry cone would be more suited to the tastes of a young lady like yourself?” continued Pinhead. “Or, we have a new . . .”

“Like, what the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“I’m sorry ma’am?”

“Did you just, like, ask me to taste your strawberry cone, or something? Are you like trying to be some kind of sexual pervert with me or something? What the eff?”

The urge to shoot spiked chains from his chest into her body and tear her to shreds was almost unbearable. Not that he could do it even if he wanted to since all of his enchantments had been taken away when he lost his Cenobite status.

“Ma’am, I assure you that I in no way was trying to offend you. I merely wanted to . . .”

“Wanted to stick your prickly, limp dick in my mouth, is, like, that what you wanted to do?”

Pinhead remained stoic and unaffected by her accusations.

“No.”

“Whatever. I am like totally out of here. I bet your ice cream tastes like a horse’s cock anyway.”

With that she spun around on her heel, let out a haughty humph, and headed for the door. Mr. O’Rodenberry’s lips were almost touching Pinhead’s ear now.

“Pinhead,” he spat down his ear canal, “if she leaves here without buying something, so help me . . .”

“Kristy,” blurted Pinhead just as she had taken one step out the door. She turned around with her head cocked to the side in confusion.

“Like, how do you know my name, creeper?”

Their eyes locked and for a moment it seemed as if everything in the ice cream shop, and the city, and even the whole world had slowed to revolve around this heated stare down. Pinhead opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out as the pain of the memory of a life he could never get back took its final toll in that moment.

“Well? Like, answer me, you perv.”

Pinhead turned from Kristy, to Mr. O’Rodenberry, back to Kristy, and shrugged his shoulders.

“Jesus wept?”

________

John Wayne lives in Houston Texas where he wiles away the days writing ridiculous stories, and slinging lattes for a bunch of jerks. When he’s not doing that he’s touring with his bands: johnwayneisdead and Letters to Voltron. He also writes and illustrates his own zine: The Afterlife Adventures of johnwayneisdead.


Flash Fiction Friday: Guitar Man

by John Wayne Comunale

You know that old Elvis song, Guitar Man? I guess if I had to blame this all on something, anything; I would blame it on that. The moment after I heard that song I knew what I was supposed to do. It was like a blueprint for life laid out right there by our lord and savior, the King himself. There’s one thing I’ll tell you for sure, and that is if there’s someone you can trust on God’s green Earth it’s Elvis. It’d be near sacrilege not to. That said, I picked up my guitar, kissed my mama, gave my daddy the finger and took off on a bus to Memphis where I’d begin my new life as a Guitar Man.

I got off the bus in Memphis with my trusty guitar on my back, thus completing the first set of instructions given by Elvis in his song of truth. When the dust settled I stepped out to cross the street on my way to literally the first honky-tonk joint I saw. Halfway across something occurred to me that I hadn’t given much thought too until now. I had been so blindly following the orders of the all-powerful Presley I totally forgot that I didn’t know how to play the guitar at all.

Not a single lick.

In fact, the guitar I had grabbed from my room and ‘slung upon my back’ was a souvenir my gramma had gotten for me from the booze cruise she died on two years ago. It was made of cardboard with a dowel rod attached and two pieces of twine tied to it. Sex on the Beach was airbrushed across the front to commemorate gramma’s favorite drink, and also her favorite place to have sex. Just as these thoughts were trickling through the slipstream of my consciousness, I was struck by a yellow Volkswagen Beatle with a bicycle hanging out the trunk. This instantly nullified the poor quality of my guitar since it was smashed to pieces along with the majority of bones in my body, but at least I had one less thing to worry about now.

Even as I was flying into the air cringing in pain from the shattering of my skeletal system I still had faith in Elvis. As long as I followed what he said everything was going to work out. I hit the ground just in time to be pulverized by a bus of Hawaiian Tropics bikini models that was following closely behind the VW. This was probably the sexiest way possible for my broken bones to be ground up finer than the sultry and kind voice of The King telling me how it was gonna’ be hard at first.

The Volkswagen stopped and the driver got out to greet the scantily clad bronze girls running from the bus squealing like pigs on the killing floor. I guess I had been lost in the confusion and coconut oil because no one bothered offering to help pull my mangled innards from the tread of that sexy, sexy bus. The driver of the Volkswagen, however, was doing his absolute damnedest to comfort as many of the barely-legal copper-toned babes as possible by cradling them in his hairy and muscly arms. He was a true and selfless hero in my eyes.

Finally the bus driver, a stout, thickheaded clod of a man noticed me shoved up under the rear wheels. He told me to ‘hold tight’ assuring me he was going pull the bus up enough to get me out from the under the tire so he could take me to the hospital. He must have forgotten his promise because while he did pull the bus up and off of me, he never stopped. He just kept driving leaving me, and his precious sexy cargo alone in the street to fend for ourselves. The girls screamed at the sudden loss of their transportation sounding like a barrel full of lab rats that were set on fire, and thrown off a building. A few of them were lucky enough to fit in the Volkswagen with the greasy driver, especially since he took the bike from the trunk and chucked it in my direction. I’m pretty sure it hit my cheek but I didn’t know exactly where my cheek was anymore.

When the VW was packed to the gills with his new found, sexy cargo he drove off leaving several of the bathing gold-skinned beauties in the street to figure out their next move alone. The models meandered about for a while looking confused until they finally chose a direction and started walking in it. Of course, the direction they chose sent them my way, and they all walked right over my flattened former self. Their spiked heels dug deep into my skin, which had been stretched so thin that each step left a tiny puncture in its wake. I didn’t mind though, and could hardly blame them for not paying attention since they were probably in shock from the accident. It was a perfectly understandable reaction.

Once they rounded the corner the volume of their inaudible shrieks tapered off until the only thing I could hear was the rustling of leaves being pushed along the curb by the warm Tennessee summer breeze. For the next several hours that was all I heard, and I started to wonder how I would catch a ride on down to Macon Georgia since Elvis had prophesied that would be the next stop on my way to becoming a Guitar Man. The sun sank low shooting red and pink lasers down the road when suddenly the doors to the honky-tonk opened, and a man stepped out onto the street.

“Jeeeeezusss Chaaarist,” he said through a thick and silvery beard that sat beneath his chin like a mangy cat with a skin problem. It was by far his most notable feature, and for a moment I was jealous.

This was the kind of beard that defined a man. The exact kind of beard a man who ran a honky-tonk in Memphis Tennessee would, nay, should have. I took this man’s beard as a sign from the great side-burned one in the sky that I was right where I was supposed to be. I quivered what I hoped was my lip as a salute of recognition to Elvis for sending him to me. The old man and his beard approached, and I became light headed with giddiness. He looked down at the mangled sack of boneless flesh I had become and kicked at me.

“Well,” he said, “can’t just leave you out here like this. Besides, I think we can use you here.”

His voice poured from the beard with a golden, dulcet tone that slipped gently into my canals to massage his message into my brain. He bent down, filled his fists with meaty handfuls, and dragged me out of the street into the honky-tonk. I could hardly believe it! I had just barely been in Memphis and I was already going to be a Guitar Man, which was way before Elvis told me it would happen.

“Vicky,” yelled the old man as we entered the club. “Get your shriveled up, useless ass out here and help me with this. I think it’s just the thing you need to help with your, uh . . . problem.”

All I could see from where the man dropped me was the black ceiling, a few bright circular lights, and that majestically magical beard with two eyes attached gazing down upon me. A moment later there was another face looking down, but not one I cared for. It was drawn together with deep-set wrinkles not from age, but from being burned. The gouged in, pink scars converged at a moist hole I assumed was her mouth since a cigarette was dangling from it. She exhaled smoke into my face and bent down to get a closer look, which allowed me to see that she was wearing a bright orange thong only. Also, the burns were not just relegated to her face. They covered the entirety of her exposed body leaving what looked like overgrown, lopsided raisins where her breasts had once been. They reminded me of home for some reason.

“You’re right, Sheldon,” she said through her mangled horror hole. “I think this’ll work just fine.”

That said she pulled a butterfly knife from the back of her thong, and whipped it around elaborately causing the blade to snap up from its sheath. She buried the tip just above where my chest had been, and traced a deep cut all the way down to my groin. The woman that Sheldon had called Vicky picked me up and shook until all the pulverized bone dust, and mashed up organs had fallen out across the dancehall floor. Satisfied, she stepped into my empty skin and her crispy visage disappeared inside of me. She aligned her eyes with mine allowing me to see that I was not in a honky-tonk at all, but a low-end, filth palace of a Z-grade strip club. I could smell through Vicky’s nose the stale aroma of coconut oil and sadness hanging thick and heavy in the uncirculated air. She whirled us around to face the stage and a neon sign above it read: Them’s Some Titties!

That night Vicky wore my skin as she danced, and while it hung loose in some places on account of me having a wider frame than her, it was still tight around the spots where it counted. The swinging flaps of limp flesh served as a sort-of pendulum whose hypnotic power would not let the lecherous voyeur patrons look away. She had more requests for lap dances that night than all her years of stripping including from before she was all burned up. Now she wears me every night being careful to always keep me wiped down and well moisturized so my skin keeps that youthful glow, and stays soft to the touch. I never became the Guitar Man that I set out to be, but it turns out being the fleshy meat-puppet of a badly burned, middle-aged stripper ain’t a bad gig at all. Honestly, I think Elvis would be proud.

——-

John Wayne lives in Houston Texas where he wiles away the days writing ridiculous stories, and slinging lattes for a bunch of jerks. When he’s not doing that he’s touring with his bands: johnwayneisdead and Letters to Voltron. He also writes and illustrates his own zine: The Afterlife Adventures of johnwayneisdead.