The Tijuana Bible sat in Brewster’s dry hands. He did his best to ignore the smell of it, the soft, limp pages, and the others who had held it before.
The yellow and black cover gripped him as hard as he gripped the book itself. A crudely etched Snow White was bent over a wooden table, her dress lifted above her large, heart-shaped ass as seven dwarves lined up before a stool, crotches like tent poles, Dopey in the lead.
A haze fell upon Brewster as he breathed in the stink and promise of the work in his hand.
“Held it for you, Brew,” Ray said, fixing his comb-over and chewing Spearmint that mingled the scent of plastic vomit, Brylcreem, and teenage sweat of The Gag Hut. “Goddamn Mounties are practically sniffing my shit to see if I carry Eerie or Creepy, so these are getting harder to score. And unless you got X-ray specs, you better open her up.”
Brewester smiled; said nothing to his old boss. He’d lost himself in Snow White. His ears warmed though his hands felt frozen.
“That cover is great,” Ray said. “But the gold is inside.”
Sweat dampened Brewster’s hands as Snow White’s mouth gasped, eyes bright with innocent shock, as the train of dwarves invited him to join the line up—just pull the cover, brother, and it’s Hi-Ho—
—“I am not a degenerate,” a Scottish voice droned into his ear as the book melted like candle wax in burning hands. Below there was a barren waste of pock-marked earth and the air was dry and hard to breathe, “I am not aroused by cartoons, I am not attracted to Snow White, I am not aroused by cartoons, I am not a degenerate…” The scarred earth rushed up to meet his sneakers and eyes became domes and silos until he screamed without air in his lungs, and he plunged into a bottomless mouth, throat covered in lines of dusty steel.
Chimes rang behind him.
“Damn it!” Ray snatched back the Tijuana Bible and Brewster yanked a Mad magazine from the counter, Edward E. Newman looking like Eisenhower with bad teeth.
High heels clacked on the cruddy wood floor, sending prickles through Brewster’s nerves. “Hello there.” Blonde bouffant hair and thick coke-bottle glasses. The friendly smile and soft voice of a career English teacher, purse tight in her hand, the whole package wrapped in a long rain coat tied too tight at the waist. Crows feet were covered with make up, so it was hard to gauge her age. “Do you gentlemen know the way to the Willow Theatre?”
Ray shrugged, hands behind his back. She looked at Brewster. “Sure,” Brewster said, low and deep as he could but nowhere near as deep as his father. “Just down Princess Street.”
She started to cry. Ray motioned Brewster forward as he dropped the Tijuana Bible behind the desk.
“You okay?” asked Brewster, sweat crawling down his neck from his “episode.”
“I’ve just been given the same advice three times and I still can’t get it right.” She smiled through the tears. “Any chance one of you nice fellas could walk me to the theatre? I’d be ever so grateful.”
“Brewster would love to,” Ray said. “I’ve got a ship to run.” He kicked the book into the backroom and followed it.
Brewster was raw as a root canal and couldn’t find any words to say to the blonde. She looked at his hands. “Shall we?”
Sweat ran in rivulets over his skin as he put down the Mad magazine. The Tijuana Bible could wait until he didn’t feel so sick. After all, it wasn’t going anywhere.
The bell rang as they left and it sheared his nerves like razors.
She gave him her arm.
Some of the tension eased.
In warm sunlight and brisk fall wind they walked the gentle slope towards the theater. Her name was Abigail, she was a librarian from New York. Visiting family. “What do you do, Brewster?”
He forced a smile. “Used to work at The Gag Hut. Lost my job when I went on vacation.” Dad hated the word “treatment,” which could stain his family name, so Brewster’s time at Allen Memorial had become a vacation from home, from friends, from his filthy habit and degenerate desires for cartoon fornication.
“Vacation?” Abigail said. “Where did you go?”
She tugged his arm. “I’ve heard it’s lovely.”
The antiseptic smell of his room, the bitter faces and sour stench of the nurses, the pasty food, all of it clung to the inside of his skull like gum in his hair. And Dr. Cameron’s droning voice, jabbing at you day in, day out, a broken record that never ended.
“It was something. Now I need a job.” Mom had yet to convince Dad to let him come home, and the motel was only paid until Tuesday. Dad was still furious that Dr. Cameron tossed him out into Mom’s arms, branding him untreatable.
“Brewster?” The librarian’s voice was as soft as tissue, soaking up the haze. “You still with me?”
“Sorry. The theatre is just up here.” The Willow’s marquee lights flashed weak and tired against daylight. The posters showed a colourful double bill. The Curse of Frankenstein and a Commando Cody serial.
“Well,” Abigail said, “thank you for the escort.” She kissed his cheek and he flushed until he noticed a strand of black hair around her ear. Imagine all those golden locks going dark as Snow White’s—
No, he told himself, stay distracted. Talking to her kept it at bay, whatever it was. Don’t fall into the hole again.
He ploughed his hands in his pockets. “Say,” Brewster said. “Would you mind if I joined you? I… I’m a little beat from hitting the bricks, looking for work. Unless, of course, you’re meeting your steady.”
Abigail looked up, calculating something while Brewster fantasised about taking her glasses off and watching her hair turn black. A memory flicked. A dark cave, a hole in the earth… but it swallowed itself as he said. “Please? I haven’t seen a movie in ages.”
“Well,” she said, voice louder, “my friends are always late.” Her eyes hooked him softly and he thought of the black hair, the one hiding in her bleach blondness and if it was real. “Let’s go.”
But his pockets held only lint. Damn it!
The fzzt of the marquee lights dying made his skull shake.
“Oh, don’t worry,” Abigail said. “This is on me. A gentleman’s good conduct should be properly rewarded.”
The scent of fresh popcorn wafted through air and he did not refuse when she bought a large box to share. They chatted. She said she was twenty. There was no way that was true but the way she told the lie was really smooth and practiced, like Dad when he told Brewster his “vacation” would last a few days, not four months. Still, there was something young in everything she did.
They took centre seats.
“So,” she said, crossing her legs, raincoat covering her down to her sculpted but strong ankles, “what are you looking forward to? The monster movie or the space one?” She ate popcorn in single shots with a royal grace, golden kernels never messing her red wine lips.
He wiped his hands on his slacks, then took some popcorn. “Monster one, I guess. I really liked the original with Boris Karloff.”
“Wasn’t he scary?”
Brewster shrugged, smiling. “I kinda liked him. Had him for an imaginary friend for a long time, like a bodyguard.” Even Dad couldn’t scare Frankenstein’s monster. He laughed. “Sorry, I guess that sounds weird.”
She shook her head. “Not at all. That’s why that movie was so amazing. You felt for the monster. James Whalen was a terrific director. Though I liked Bride of Frankenstein better.” Brewster swallowed a second mouthful of buttery, wonderful popcorn. “I’m not big on the space movies. Now that stuff is scary!”
Flecks of popcorn caught on the empty seats in front of him as Brewster laughed. “Really? I think they’re a gas! Aliens who look like they were put together in someone’s back yard, flying saucers made of dinner plates on wires. That’s scary?”
She laughed, shaking her head. “I know, I know, but now it’s my time to sound weird. I find them scary because I was watching one when the Russians got into space.”
He wiped his hands again, mouth half-full. She spoke of Sputnik. The eye in the sky circling the earth. Watching all of them like Dr. Cameron, circling the bed, the cameras on the walls, never giving you a moment of privacy to use the washroom.
“They stopped the movie to tell us,” she said. “When the lights dimmed again, and we saw those flying saucers, well, it wasn’t so funny anymore. They didn’t talk about it Montreal?”
Salt stung Brewster’s mouth. “Not where I was.” The house lights dimmed.
“You look a little green. Would you like some gum? Sugar might help.” She held his hand.
“Yes, thank you.” But the spearmint quickly became a tangled blob of popcorn fragments.
The film began.
Gold letters materialized through red smoke on screen and told the story of Dr. Frankenstein. Brewster’s chews echoed in his head. Frozen in his seat by the movie, he tried not to wince at the clicking and clacking of the reels above as a new reality emerged before his eyes, the click-clack above so much like the tapes, the endless tapes, the mind bending tapes that lopped into his head so Dr. Cameron’s voice dissolved his thoughts with acidic tones…
She whispered things he couldn’t hear while Peter Cushing fought with Robert Urquhart over the bagged brain of a dead genius, the soft, vulnerable organ thumping against a tomb wall. Cushing picked out the ruined pieces from the mangled brain as the reels above were spinning, spinning, spinning—
I am not aroused by cartoons, I am not attracted to Snow White, I am not aroused by cartoons—
His thought short circuited as Abigail’s hand lay on his left thigh and he froze, eyes on the monstrous battle before him. “Relax, Brewster.” Her words cut through the static of his thinking. Her hand slid up his thigh and covered his crotch. “I want to help you.” The static hissed as she caressed the hard cock beneath his jeans. “Just stay still. Think of somewhere far away.” She pulled his zipper slow and hard and before he could scream she held him in her hand. “Somewhere only you could see.”
Her hands were soft; her grip firm as she stroked him. He swelled in the dark. “Close your eyes.“
He did as she said and depth of pleasure from her hand licked his spine.
The cave’s mouth widened into a horrific maw. An elevator shaft with hissing lights offered pockets of relief from the darkness—
Pince-nez disdain glared as words etched from a silent stitch of mouth, “I am not a degenerate, I am not a degenerate.”
Brewester gasped, eyes open, head burning with fever as his throat clenched for a scream, but Abigail’s lips caressed his ear as she had his shaft in a stranglehold. “Do you want me to stop?”
He coughed, shook his head as Dr. Cameron’s voice burbled up—
—she pulled his cock out into the crisp darkness, then released her grip into a caress. “Keep looking, Brewster.”
The elevator shaft was long and deep, the barest of words etched on them catching his eye as the fathoms descended
“Tell me what you see.”
“I am not a degenerate.”
She jerked him until bliss ran up through every nerve as the colloid in front of him blurred with names on elevator doors rushing by—
Fingers pressed pinched at the base of his cock as dirty energy ballooned within his balls, itching for release. “Tell me. What do you see? Tell me and I’ll—
His lap hummed as she jerked him so hard he throttled in his seat and tried to hold back the onslaught . . . and all senses blurred into the white hot focus-
She moans on his old bed, red lips shimmering like fresh blood and oil-slick hair staining the pillow, breasts heaving against a blue blouse stained wet with sweat, yellow dress in knots. Her sweaty tongue licks the edge of her teeth as her big eyes flicker, and see him . . . and her lips quack in a wordless cry that can only be his name. You dash toward the iron railing in nothing but a pantless smock. But, from beneath the bed rush seven little nurses with battleship grey masks and dress, noses bulging and stained smiles charged and sharp as a rictus. They clasp your legs and pull down your arms with the strength of the damned as the door beside him opens.
Dr. Cameron enters with a slow gait, a surgical scalpel in his wrinkled right hand. “You are failing treatment. We must go harder and stronger.” She gasps, biting her lip, writhing as if in the grip of a fever. Dr. Cameron is beside her. “You must know what you will never have, if you are to be free of this degeneration.” Her eyes are shut, mouth open, as his steady hand places the blade upon her blouse.
You struggle, surging forward, but the nurses lock you in step.
The razor’s edge cuts between her breasts. She heaves and the fabric snaps, her white flesh revealed, nipples dark and hard. Cameron grabs her left breast with his free hand. She shivers, then moans, as that left hand kneads flesh until she’s moving with his rhythmic fingers. “What you want is a creature of lust who will never leave you. This creature is a fiction. She is wrong, Very wrong” he says as she pulses as he commands, back arching. The right hand continues the blade’s journey and the manic yellow of her dress shakes until his blade is above her sex and she braces herself. “All of it.” He flicks the blade like a gangland punk and she screams: the yellow dress falls by each side, revealing her glistening hair and naked lithe legs.
You press forward while the tiny nurses grunt. You’re closer, but every move is quicksand as you stare at her aching body, ever moving, ever hungry and pure and sweet between her thighs. Doe eyes flash open, thick lips pursed as if to say your name—
The blade falls into the yellow on the floor as he returns to the head of the cot. “This fantasy must be destroyed. And I will do it for you. Every inch.” His leathery hand pulls down his trouser’s fly and unsheathes a hideous dark cock, veins like barbed wire and stinking of shit and bleach. Her mouth pants open, head turned as if drawn by a siren’s call. She gasps as if a fish out of water, looking for the substance of life for her to suckle. “All of it.”
You inch closer as his rancid cock slowly enters her mouth, and her eyes open. They are snow white, lost in oblivion. Ruby lips suckle the head, each taste inching them along the shaft while the monstrosity flexes. Cameron turns to face you with his dead eyes behind opaque glasses. “I will have her.” He grasps a fistful of black silk hair and drives her to his stem. “All of her.”
“No!” you scream from the base of your skull, and all is flush with electric rage. Both arms cast the nurses at Cameron, and your legs follow in discharging their steel grips. Seven electric shots smack his chest and head and legs, dropping him to the floor and pulling the cock from her gagging mouth. They lie upon the ground in electric blue skin, lifeless and flaccid.
Motion dominates all as you run toward her hungry body, and her knees roll against each other in terrified expectation. Crawling over her they split as her burning hands grip your neck and drag you down. Breathy whispers caress your skin. “I beg you, I beg you, fuck me, just keep fucking me.” Words drown in a smashed kiss as you consume her, and the taste of Cameron burns away into flavors richer than brandy. Nails dig into your flesh like knives while your cock pierces the darkness between her legs, that sacred ground Cameron never touched, and she screams “God!” into your mouth. You rear up to plunge deeper and her back arches, elbows digging into the bed, breasts ripe as she pulls away to gasp. You want her lips, her tits, her ass, her pussy, all at once and forever. Your hands grip her shoulders and thrust her down as you drive harder, faster, her mouth screaming, “Oh my, Oh my god, Oh fuck me, Brewster!” as the pleasure surges to an apex the blots out your eyes . . .
. . . and there was Cameron’s dead face, glasses, glaring in triumph.
Brewester stared at Abigail.
Snow White’s alabaster face and midnight lips looked at him in the dark, the grind of the projector rumbled, but beneath he could hear Dr. Cameron’s voice demanding he purge himself of filthy desires.
He pushed away Abigail’s hand and ran with his cock out, stuffing it back in the dark as searing depression hit his back with precision into every guilty nerve until he was outside.
Rain and electric breath. City lights twinkled like stars. The theatre shrunk below him as if he’d been sling-shotted to the moon. And there, the cave, the shaft, the name—
“Brewster?” Abigail said, wiping her hand with a kerchief. “Come back.”
He ran until misty rain cooled him. Disorientation faded, but something swirled inside him. He grabbed his only dime and called the motel from a tiny phone booth.
“Brewster? Where are you?”
“Mom I’m… running late. I don’t… I don’t feel well.”
“That’s good. Good.” Her voice was stony.
“What? Mom? You there?”
“Yes.” A cold moment later she said, “Father called.”
The black plastic slipped out of his sweaty grip and bounced before swaying, like the Frankenstein-monster hung from a tree. He retrieved it. “What does that mean?”
“I’m going back tonight.” Silence choked him. “He thinks that, maybe, for a little while, you should stay at the hotel.”
“Just for a little while. So you can rest. You really need to rest, son. After your vacation.”
“You’ll be home before you know it. I’ll make sure of it. Didn’t I get you out of that awful place? I’ll come for you in a bit.”
Eyes shut, his head leaned on the phone. “Don’t go. Please, Mom. I’m not well.” Underneath his lids, the clean white walls of the Allen Memorial gleamed, his strapped legs at the end of the bed, barely able to twitch, the reels of sound grinding as he tore his wrists away to blood and meat. His breath tasted of spearmint and ozone. “I’m not well—”
A horn blasted from the phone and all he saw was his own body, screaming against the restraints, a fuzzy view from above—
“That’s Father. I’m afraid you’ll have to stay somewhere else tonight. I tried to stretch a dollar. But you can always stay at the YMCA. Like the first time you ran away.” Another honk. “Rest, Brewster, you just need rest and quiet. Call me when you get in, will you? Love you, dear.” Click.
He cradled the phone.
Numbness absorbed the shock of Abigail standing outside the box, umbrella up, wearing white gloves. She stood in front of the door. Blocking it. He pressed it, too weak to offer resistance as his head hit the glass.
“Please, I’m not well.”
Rain washed her visage on the glass. “Can we go somewhere and talk? Somewhere private? Unless, that is, you have somewhere else to be?”
She pulled the door, and he fell out. He held her arm as she walked back to The Gag Hut. He pulled away, but not enough. “Don’t worry,” she said. “I have a key.”
She smiled big and sweet and said not a word.
Inside, the smell of plastic vomit was oddly soothing. Abigail walked to the farthest stretch as he turned on the back light. She leaned over the cash desk, lifting one foot off the ground and he tried not to choke with pleasure, thinking of what she did, what she could do. “You really are special, Brewster.”
“ …because I worked at The Gag Hut?”
The foot descended and she twisted to face him, smile still sweet. “Because of what you can do with that dirty mind of yours.” She lifted her hand. The Tijuana Bible. “These are your triggers, huh?”
His tongue turned to sand, the words like drops of water. “What… what are you…”
“Hush a moment.” An accent graced her words. “I don’t think I’ve seen this one.” She flipped through the one he’d been holding. “Gracious. I’ve only seen Japanese pornography this explicit.” She took off her glasses and his hand reached for the knob. “I wouldn’t run, Brewster. There are men in cars ready to follow anyone who leaves here. Besides, if you leave, I’ll say you exposed yourself to me at the theater. And we know that’s true.”
“Is this a bust?” He knew it. Knew Ray couldn’t keep his dirty mags under the wire. “Busted by a woman Mountie?”
Abigail laughed. “That’s funny.” She put down the Tijuana Bible and hugged her breasts. “No, Brewster. This isn’t a sting for a dirty mag house. We need to know if what Dr. Cameron wrote was true. About you.”
The name drove nails into his guts. “Cameron? You work for Cameron?” He forced the repetitive drone of his accent out of his head. “Oh no. I’m not going back there.”
“Listen, Brewster,” she said, undoing one button of her rain coat. “Cameron works for us. He finds things we need, to fight that Commie eye in the sky, though he doesn’t know it. Some of his work involves seeing far things. Others, inside minds. In trying to rid you of your taste for dirty pictures he tapped something, didn’t he? Our instructions were on near silent loops. To see far. To see deep. Do you remember the interview you did after they showed you one of your dirty books again?” She stepped forward, another button loosened. “Remember what you saw?”
“A cave,” he whispered as she stepped closer, closer.
“And you remember what was in that cave?”
“We think you do. We think you saw what we needed you to see. But we need you to see it again, Brewster. We need to fire your trigger.” She tore off her jacket and wig, and stood before him as if drawn to order from the dirtiest splotches of his brain. The costume was Disney but her figure was pure Ed Klaw as she produced a crimson bow and placed it in her hair.
“Oh god,” he said. “I know you.”
She glowed in the darkness of the store. “Agent Betty Page.” She stepped forward and his cock was pushing against his zipper. “But you can call me Snow White.” Sweat from his index finger dripped. “And I’m all yours, Brewster. If you can tell me what you see. What was the name you saw?”
Behind her the darkness swelled into…
“The cave, down the cave.”
“Yes,” she said, hands together, stepping one foot in front of the other. “But what’s inside?”
The familiar constriction of restraints against his wrists tore into him. “I can’t… I’m not well.”
“No, Brewster, you’re more than well. You’re a hero. But I need you.”
“I need you to do this.”
She kissed him hard, thick black hair, and pulled his cock out again, dragging him to the cash desk until she smacked it with her back. “Pull up my dress.” He did, and she turned, bending her over as his cock hung inches from her snow white ass. The smell was savory and salty as she pulled her cheeks apart.
He entered her without thinking, the roughness easing as she groaned. “Oh god, Brewester, tell me what you see. Close your eyes and fuck me.”
He did, rough and awkward as she gasped and begged. “More, tell me… what do you see?” Desire and fear tangled his mind until he shot down the icy darkness, to where stores of bombs were being built by dark haired men who spoke a cruel language…
“Fuck me, tell me!”
He gasped, ready to spill everything.
The door. It returned. “Oh god… I see it.”
“Tell me, fuck me!”
He gripped her ass until the word came clear—“Plokščiai!”
Desire vanished as an electric ghost with a harsh face emerged from the door’s cracked spines. A voice cackled like a current running into his head. You are not ranked here. It was not English…
Brewster crashed to the ground, cock in agony. Abigail’s heels were at his face. “What? What is it?”
“They see me!”
“But we need more, Brewster. The name is just the first part. We need—”
But the electric woman sneered. You are no spy, you are a child, and I am going to break you, little imperialist brat.
Blue fire engulfed Brewster’s skull, black hammers and sickles burned against his eyes as the electric woman ignited and went nuclear. “Abigail!”
Flames went white as gravity sucked him back into himself. They burned through the tapes. They burned through the locks of memory. They burned away Cameron’s voice until it was as vague as the noise of a distant highway. He blinked. For a moment, she was in all her glory. Then whiteness burned to black.
* * *
Rough hands shuffled him around as sounds burst into his mind: the creak of a car door opening, the crunch of the seat under his rear, the slam of the door that could not kill the sound of the men outside.
“Idiot still has his cock out.”
“I’m not putting it back. And did you see his eyes? Commie flag on each one.”
“Shut up and drive, Smith.”
The engine revved, tires screeched. He touched his eyes to see if they were open. They were. But there was blackness. “Abigail?”
“Afraid you’re stuck with us, kid. She’s on vacation.”
Brewster blinked. There she was, behind his lids, smiling in her full glory as a six dwarves began to form a line behind him… then vanished. He pressed himself to recreate it, but there was only the void.
© Jason Ridler, 2016