The thing about having both access to dangerous things and a penis is that sometimes people will try to use one in order to get to the other. I'm not a handsome guy. My medical covers spare organs, not cosmetic overhauls. I'm here for a long time with intermittent periods of good time and I don't necessarily need to look good during it. I'm not the burn out and fade away type. What I am is something of a classicist. I speak in full sentences. I write in English that can be termed Antique-Modern with flourishes of Proto-Hipster. I have actual shelves in my apartment with actual books lined up on them. When people come over, which is rare, they often ask about the curious smell. I point them to my library.
I am stubborn and set in my ways and I wear antique suits of wool or polyester cut either western-style or leisure-style. My reputation is that of a loner and a misfit, romanticizing the past whilst simultaneously prolonging the future to see what lies beyond the next corner, then the next and the next. This is all true. However, my constant search for something else does not make me a complete sucker for a pretty face or a mark for a bosomy come-on. I’m 200 years old and powered by transgenic pig organs. Two centuries worth of people attempting to manipulate you does smarten you up some.
@Nadia-Verdinique smiles and tilts an empty champagne flute toward me as I enter the restaurant. She leans forward and slides a bottle across the table as I sit.
Hugo told me you like beer. Here, try this. They can't make it any more. It was brewed with water from some small Australian spring that no longer exists. It's history as beverage. Terribly sad, but if you don't drink and enjoy it, then somebody else will.
@Nadia-Verdinique speaks beautifully. I get a hard-on listening to the full, French-accented sentences spilling from her mouth. People around us eavesdrop at the strangeness of her voice, a product, rumor has it, of generations of strict segregationist Haitian home-schooling. She's black and tall and slim and wrapped up in some diaphanous cloth that subtly shifts color as the light hits it. She smiles and nods encouragingly for me to drink.
It's too hot in here all of a sudden. My pig-heart beats a little fast.
A waiter appears from nowhere. He has the cap off the bottle in the blink of an eye and I stop him just in time before he pours The Last of The Tasmanian Beers into a glass.
@Nadia-Verdinique thanks the waiter. People again stop talking and head-tweeting at the sound of her and gape openly. The waiter flushes, leaves menus and exits.
I sip the beer and express my admiration for it. Her genuine happiness at my enjoyment is confronting so I break eye contact and examine the label of the bottle. The graphics. Rippling water no longer there. Trees now surely dead lining a photorealistic watercolor horizon.
She leans across the table.
Chester, did you bring it?
I wipe at some condensation and look up from the bottle.
I don't know what you've heard, but I'm not the kind of guy to bring an untraceable firearm to a first date.
She lets loose a giggle.
Is that what this is?
I was being cute.
Is that what that was?
Fuck it bad.
Nadia. I didn't bring it. I have it, but I didn't bring it.
I don't see what the good of you having it is if you didn't bring it. I have the money. I said I would bring it and so I did.
I never said I would bring it. I don't just hand them out...Please, let's order and eat and talk.
I pick up the menu. The place is vegan. Fuck, the cheek of it. I don't do pork, not because of anything religious (I'm not that antiquated) but because I'm pig-powered. Feels oddly like cannibalism. I would've loved a steak though, so I order a not-steak and ask for it rare. Let's see them handle that. @Nadia-Verdinique orders some scrambled tofu with harisa-spiced not-frog. She insisted on this place. She likes animals. Strange then that she's come to me for a gun to murder with.
I'm a sort of prop guy by trade. I've amassed a huge collection of antique weaponry that gets leased out to movie people looking for that extra slice of period piece verisimilitude. I also instruct historians writing papers on ancient firearms and help out guys like @HugoSweet.
@HugoSweet shoots new virtual covers for some small-time e-publisher that re-issues ancient pulp novels for the holo-book market. He and @Nadia-Verdinique go back. Way back. Back to when she was just your average hot Haitian chick with dreams of working those long legs down runways, of wrapping a micro V-bra around her modest tits for maximum magazine cover cleavage, of flashing naturally white-toothed smiles at reporters as they ask her about her d-list celebrity boyfriends and how they are in bed.
@Nadia-Verdinique figures she owes Hugo. Maybe she does, but I somehow doubt it. @HugoSweet didn't shoot her for something, someone else would've. Circumstance, necessity and coincidence often bring people of an artistic bent together. In @Nadia-Verdinique's case, circumstance alone would've had photographers lining up around the block.
Two days ago, @HugoSweet was working on a cover for a new edition of a Hadley-Chase holo-book, out of print for over 600 years. He wanted a bold black warrior-woman and nice antique .38 detective special for his cover. He found his warrior-woman in @Nadia-Verdinique. He found his .38 in my workshop.
I was invited to the shoot at @Nadia-Verdinique’s request. @HugoSweet didn't seem too happy about it, clearly planning to show her his latest enhancement. Acquiescence is his middle name, however, so eighteen inches of transplanted, HGH-enhanced monster dick would have to stay in its inner thigh holster. He passed the invite on grudgingly, his trouser snake twitching through his linen pants like it wanted to anaconda vice me for fucking up its plans. @HugoSweet's got a big thing for @Nadia-Verdinique. In more ways than one.
@HugoSweet, always photographing times long gone as authentically as possible, set his studio up as something of a pulp time capsule. I like it there. It looks backward, not forward. It is present and future contemptuous. It’s saturated in a poisonous narcotic known as nostalgia. Poisonous maybe but, fuck it, shoot me up with it, cut it up and let me snort it, concentrate it and drip it onto my tongue. I feel at home there. It’s like the walls are lined with the dusty furniture of my mind.
She strode over to me as soon as I entered the studio, @HugoSweet stammering at her to hold her position, telling her she'd monkey-fucked a holo-shot. She ignored him. She said hi and took the gun from my hand. I was so mesmerized by her that she slipped it from my grip with me barely realizing it, an ancient Haitian self-defense technique perhaps: Beauty Nervous System Strike into Voodoo Gaze of Disarm.
She played with the gun, smelled it and pointed it at me.
I like this weapon. It’s old and cool to the touch and weighty and real. It smells of the past and of violence and of something wrong. Not like the light, sterile things people use today with their weightlessness and plasticity and poppy aesthetic. There is no danger in today’s weaponry. It all looks so…friendly. As lethal as a smile.
I gave her the full once over and then gave it to her again. She was costumed like an antique disco femme fatale, borne of the hazy residue of a bygone collective unconscious. She was an instant retro gun moll: just add Colt.
All I could manage in reply was:
As if possessed by the character she would soon be seen as on a hundred million portable holo-reader machines, she fixed her near-black eyes on mine and with a feisty smirk said:
Do you have the ammunition to go with it?
Some smiles can be lethal enough, alright.
The food is good. The steak somehow tastes pretty much like steak. It juices when I stab into it. I didn’t know they could make it do that. Food art at its finest. @Nadia-Verdinique picks at her chilied not-frog. Squishes her scrambled tofu. She petulantly drops her cutlery, leans in and hushes her voice:
So you will not sell me the weapon?
I didn’t say that. What I’m saying is that I can’t just go handing guns out to anyone who asks. Put yourself in my shoes, Nadia.
Do you head-tweet? Man of your sentimental proclivities and full English use, I doubt you’ve been fitted.
I’m fitted. I deal with Hollywood types on a regular basis, remember? Don’t like it, but I do it. @chesterwood is my handle.
Fine. Turn it on. I want to make this conversation more private.
I do. I accept her. Private Messages blinks at me.
@Nadia-Verdinique i want to show u something.
@chesterwood NV, i just need to make sure. i'm not trying to pry.
@Nadia-Verdinique time to put yourself in MY shoes, Chester.
I look at her and raise an eyebrow – facial geometry as question-mark. She folds her arms under her tits. Refusing to look at me, she glances instead at another table where a handsome man ignores his date and observes her instead.
Well? Watch it. You want to know, then go ahead and know.
I sigh, head-click the link and the video pops up. I close my eyes and watch.
A man with a pixilated face is getting his monster dick sucked by @Nadia-Verdinique while he sticks his fingers into the cunt of another @Nadia-Verdinique.
A third @Nadia-Verdinique walks into the scene. Jesus, this one's been heavily worked on. Her six cunts are all lubed up and leaking. She plays with a clitoris located between a couple of her ribs and moans into the camera. Aren't too many orifice queens like this outside of gangbang porn, so I have some idea of where this is all heading. Nadia#2 says something I can't catch outside of the word fuck, but it's not French-accented so the one part of me that thinks I'm actually going mad is placated.
Got to be Accessorizer porn. Face-part swapping cosmetic surgery addicted freaks. All made up like @Nadia-Verdinique.
Eight more guys, also with their faces pixilated, enter the scene. They stroke their uber-cocks to pre-cum gleam and one by one pick an orifice on Gangbang-Nadia and go to work. Then things get really fucked up. I switch it off and try and think happy thoughts about puppies but the puppies start fucking while guys with blurry faces circle-jerk around them. I need to compartmentalize better.
@Nadia-Verdinique cannot look me in the eyes and the shame I see in her snaps something inside of me. A hint of something sweet but musky comes off of her and my breath feels like it’s gone.
She leans in again and whispers:
I know the man who made this....film. You are going to sell me one of your ancient guns that nobody can trace…right now…and I am going to kill him.
The prop stuff is a legit front, but the bulk of my pay comes from what I really do, which is selling untraceable guns to people who want to kill other people. You can use your laser guns which must record the DNA from your hands before it will fire and has inbuilt cop homing devices, or your less-modern firearms with individually-coded projectiles and voice-activated controls. You might even get away with it. Shit, it's happened. You want to cover your bases? You come and see someone like me and you obtain an antique piece of bullet-firing steel that's been cold for at least 500 years. Or you use a knife. Or a bat. Or a rope. Or a rock. Choice is yours. Rock-related murders were up 300% last year. Don't know if you knew that. Low-tech is good-tech. Don't let anybody tell you different.
I don't do Zip guns or Saturday Night Specials. I do Saturday Night Superlatives: top of the line, dependable, antique firearms. You want them modified, go see someone else and never darken the fuck out of my door again. I sell original classics to people who need them. All my antiques are kept clean and in perfect working order. Some have never even been fired. Their pasts don't matter anyway, I've made them all anonymous. John Does of the weapons world.
@Nadia-Verdinique has a good eye. The snubnose she modeled with for the holo-cover is trigger-locked and registered to me. The untraceable version that she wants me to sell her sat cozily in the shoulder holster of a centuries-dead cop for the entirety of his career, never removed in need of its actual purpose except to blow the odd hole in a paper target. Reputedly, few snubnose colts were fired very often. They were a peace-of-mind weapon, a small lethal accessory to one's bravado or confidence or fear.
The city is a different place when you have a striking woman on your arm. I immediately appreciate its vigor and color and the “love” side of my love/hate relationship with it rears its sexy head. With @Nadia-Verdinique beside me I already feel less like the transgenic gun-dealing scumbag loner I am and more like an everyday Joe, normalized and assimilated through her companionship. She insists on accompanying me home even though I've told her I'm not selling her a gun. She's sure that she can convince me to part with one. I'm not entirely sure that she's wrong. Out in the city amongst the freaks, the workers, the disembodied cyber avatars, the traffic, the food, and the neon, @Nadia-Verdinique and I are just a ravishing Haitian model with a grudge and her 200 year old mod-cowboy suitor. It's all so perfectly humdrum. We fade into the background largely unseen and unmolested, except for the odd look @Nadia-Verdinique gets from those able to drag themselves out of their own headspace long enough to appreciate her beauty and the alley-dwelling hermaphrodite prostitutes who raise their mesh skirts and flash both impressive sets of genitals at us as we enter the door of my building. All class, those Hermies.
@Nadia-Verdinique tells me more about the evils of the man she wants to kill in an effort to sell me. He's an obsessed ex whose cyber-stalking has turned into stalking of the old-school physical type and, of course, the dissemination of viral porn vids featuring multiple versions of 'herself'. I tell her to go to the cops and she laughs and says that the guy's a former DA with a list of influential allies longer than @HugoSweet's dick. I wonder how she knows how long @HugoSweet's dick is, but I let it slide. I'm feeling slightly woozy and as she brushes up against me I catch that scent from the restaurant again. I fight the urge to drag her into a lane and take her up against the wall. Little wonder she has a demented stalker, I'm already freeze-framing shots from the porno in my head. I can't help myself. In the elevator, I realize I should be more concerned about how all this is going and how things aren't quite adding up but I find that I don't care.
She smiles as we enter my apartment. It's a less intense version of @HugoSweet's studio with a fridge and a bed. She chuckles as she walks around. She says:
What’s that smell?
Books, I say. Really old books.
She peruses the library. Pulls Thornburg’s Dreamland off the shelf. She flips it open and smells it. She rubs the paper and smiles. She's so beautiful. She looks at me:
Please sell me a weapon.
What you showed me was beyond awful, but I can't sell you a gun.
Principled merchant of death are we?
I'm not selling you a gun so you can kill a man just for making a porno with freaks made up to look like you.
It's more than that, I told you. Anyway, you've sold men guns for less. Hugo told me so.
That may be true. But I didn't like those men. They were just scum looking to off other pieces of scum. I'm not going to let you ruin your life over this.
What if I told you that I would not be doing the killing?
You have a hitman?
So let him handle it.
This...man has followed me home. He has terrorized me. I've had to look on as he defiled and abused pornstars who look like me. I need to watch him die. It's the way it has to be.
Again I tell her no. She sulks like a child for a moment and then takes her handbag into the bathroom. I down a glass of water and slap myself in the face a bit, trying to straighten up.
She emerges from my bathroom and turns off the lights. She's wearing only a thick animal scent that leaves me increasingly dizzy and dry-mouthed and swooning the closer she gets. Monkeyfucker, now I get it. She slipped me a scent-roofie earlier. She didn't get what she wanted from me so now she's tripled the dose.
The city lights streaming through my windows seem to reflect off her. It makes her skin creamy and multi-hued, like the Ghost in the Machine, like a pin-up girl made of random neon and the collective wet-dream ether of the sleeping masses. She comes to me trailing illegal designer musk and my brain and my cock are humming.
Will you help me, Chester? Will you give me what I need to make this right?
What she doesn't understand is that the drug's making me like her. It's making me want to protect her. To save her from herself. I take her in my arms and with my pulse beating staccato and mad from inhaling her in, I still somehow manage to say:
She slaps me. She dresses. She says:
It would have been much better for you, Chester, if you had said yes.
It's a rough night without her. The morning eventually comes 500 hours later and I'm still jonesing for more of her when the news feeds pick it up:
There's a crime scene HDholo-slideshow to go with the article. Amongst it:
@Nadia-Verdinique, cauterized laser-fire holes burned right through her. Her beautiful face now a giant fleshy, doughnut-holed mess of leather and scab. Neat holes punched through her long limbs and torso, like someone burning a cigarette through a photograph.
@HugoSweet, face down. Equally mutilated with burn-holes. His left hand rests tenderly on @Nadia-Verdinique's thigh. Some nasty piece of home engineered weaponry lies next to him. From the blackness on the barrel, split open like robo labia, and the mangled jagged stump that is his right hand, I'm guessing the thing overheated and blew up after he squeezed off the first dozen shots.
One of the porno-Nadias slumped against the wall, obviously bullet-shot. The back of her head coats the wall in the shape of that a mutant hothouse orchid I saw at a geneflower-show last year.
Another Nadia lying on top of a huge dining table, congealing blood from multiple shots binding her to the veneered surface.
A man, obviously one of the porno guys under @GilesSchtucky's employ, lying next to his own bullet-severed monster cock. He clutches at his dick-stump: hedgehog pinch as failed tourniquet.
Lean, handsome @GilesSchtucky. Smiling in bloody death. Was he just happy to see @Nadia-Verdinique one more time?
@Nadia-Verdinique hit me with Grip. She infected me with her hopped-up sex stink. Just like she did with Hugo and presumably Schtucky and fuck knows who else. The amphetimone has stuck to me, bonded to receptors in brain or perhaps something in my nervous system. She has poisoned me with herself. Its effects are already becoming apparent. I watch the porn clip starring monstrous cum-guzzling versions of her again and again. It’s as close as I can get to her now but it’s still not close enough.
I show the hermie prostitutes an HDholopeg. They smile and nod like they've seen it all before and point me toward a doorway halfway down the alley. Little cybernetic lightning bugs swirl around as I approach, a warning system for the burly pimp who comes over to me cautiously. I show him the HDholopeg and tell him what I need. He looks at it and laughs. Then he helps me out.
The first one only touches the scrambled tofu when I insist that she must. She wears a knock-off of the wrap-around diaphanous number that picks up the shifting lights more garishly than the original. Her hand is clammy as I take it on the walk home. The Hermies look at us and point and laugh as we pass. I undress her and pose her by the window and try to angle her so that the neon shifts tones against her skin the way they did just before she left me. The sex I recreate from the way I imagine it would have happened, but even that I can't get right. My answer to this is to get another one to join us. This second one's cheek bones are too high, but she slips off and alters them in the bathroom. After a week, their accents are improving. The third one gets it down right away and so she is the only one that I will allow to speak.
@Nadia-Verdinique's Saturday Night Superlative sits on my coffee table. @Nadia-Verdinique picks it up, hefts it, smells it.
Will you help me, Chester? Will you give me what I need to make this right?
I still say no.
But this time she stays. Her mute twin duplicates stay with her.
This time I will do things right. I'll protect them and save them from themselves. I've got plenty of time, after all. I'm not the burn out and fade away type.