A Yuletide Carol by Chris Courtney Martin
The “pagan-demonic” mishegoss is OLD HAT!
Older than that white man with white hair
And even whiter politics around home security
And guest etiquette
It’s cold enough
Or not cold enough
Depending on which coast happens to be depressing you
Around the time the Salvation Army starts
Ringing those DAMNED BELLS
Pleading that we feed the poor and hate the gays
Metallic sounds, metallic-paper-covered boxes
It’s abrasive enough
Or not abrasive enough
Depending on how long it’s been since your
Problematic Auntie™ cracked into the Kraken
And how ready you have been to
Peace-On-Earth OUT of this shitshow
Doesn’t lying on Christ’s (belated) birthday feel even a little bit shameful?
Especially to children who are confused enough by pre-roadkill Frank the Rabbit on His
Happy UnDeath Day
I am EXACTLY this fun at parties.
And at church.
So, while you ALL-CAPS
On a Facebook page
Most of your Friends have Muted
I’ll be decrying the REAL sins of this day–
- Blood Blackmail
- Unabashed Capitalism
- “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”
- Grandma not actually getting run over by a reindeer
Prenatal Yoga aka Relearning Breath by CE Hoffman
It’s weird being the only dude in my pre-natal yoga class. Not that
I’m always male, and I guess this active uterus gives me a free pass, I mean
its lease has got no vacancy
and I really don’t mind being called a little lady
For all these roles are in me
And I know people are (re)awakening
‘cause heads turn to our lights as we bounce down the street
sure some seek to crush us but damn we’ve done that for centuries
crippled all minorities
Yet even as we the students against our teachers thrash and scream
forever are we learning.
It’s nice being the only guy in my pre-natal yoga class. I kinda like
“passing”, pretending this journey’s a little less complicated. Not that
I’d ever choose another path,
for I love myself exactly as I am.
You don’t need a dick or a clit to do downward facing dog, to
enhance the inner spirit,
embrace a rose quartz to your chest.
For it is in the absence of breath
those spaces betwixt thought and existence
where we find ourselves
And I know it’s strange to find peace in a space of appropriation
‘cause 8 outta 9 of our faces are white
so when it comes to “passing”
I really can’t talk, can I?
It’s weird wanting to cry in my pre-natal yoga class.
To be split so asunder, these flames of joy and stress
light-headed wonders, to cradle a soul I don’t own,
to realize I’ve never actually felt my pelvis
never really sensed where my breast is.
The teacher nudged my shoulder to show me
the proper way to extend, release
and I was so fucking humbled
tears bubbled up in my belly, Suddenly
grateful for the holes in my coat pockets
even thankful for my rape
for it is only through losing touch
that we learn to connect,
and again relate.
The Revenge of the Lesbian Vampire Bikers on Acid by Louise Hart
In Largport-on-Sea it was an unusually bright, early June morning. The small, select Scottish coastal town looked down on its rough Glaswegian neighbour with the distaste of a woman dressed only in a fur coat and no knickers. Beneath the mass of cerulean sky, the sea enveloped the pebbled shore and the locals invaded the grassy land. By 8.00 a.m. Largport was awake, its eyes focused on making the most of the sunny day.
Mary Maudlin’s hand slid beneath her cotton nightdress. Her fingers resisted her knicker elastic and plunged into her soft, warm cunt. She pummelled and played love tunes to her ecstatic womanliness; her fingers greedy to feel her wet essence as it built between her thighs. She could smell herself and began to heave, withdrawing her fingers in a sudden funk of guilt and nausea.
“Save me,” she cried, throwing her plump body against the token crucifix fixed to her bedroom wall.
The doorbell rang. Mary grabbed her dressing gown and ran downstairs. Licking her fingers to dull their scent she opened the door.
Mrs McBride reached for Mary’s hand. “The kids have broken another window in the church hall, vicar.” She said.
“Oh dear, oh dear,” began Mary, “I’ll get dressed, quickly.”
In Largport a smashed window constituted a sin against rightful thinking folk, but a smashed church hall window signified a level of heresy that chilled all morally righteous evangelists, like the prospect of fucking before marriage.
“I would take bets on it being that Rhona McCloud girl,” continued Mrs McBride, “You know what those Catholics are like.”
When the two women reached the church hall Mary observed the broken window and shuddered. The glass had collapsed in such a way that it appeared to have left the image of a face. A face evoking such wantonness that it could only belong to a demon or a whore. Mrs McBride seemed oblivious to the image, so Mary decided not to mention it.
On that day in June the sun seemed a touch too bright, the temperature a little too warm. Something was afoot, thought Mary Maudlin. The image in the broken window stared on.
Rhona McCloud slept with the ease of the unsullied. Despite Cameron’s clumsy and sweaty attempts to claim her virginity the previous evening, she had remained resolute and Virgo intact. Maybe she should not have smashed the church hall window, but she despised the pious and pitiful throng who frequented the place and felt that it was time she taught them a lesson.
“Rhona, Rhona, get up,” shouted her father, “You lazy, little tyke.” Rhona awoke, pulled her duvet over her head and closed her eyes again. The sun shone through her flimsy curtains, burning her pallid flesh. It was too hot to sleep further. She flung her duvet off the bed and rose.
By 11.00 a.m. Largport’s hallowed ground sweltered. Residents flocked with the seagulls to the seafront, filling their faces with ice-cream and hushed profanities.
Mary Maudlin changed into her favourite dress; the one that revealed the merest hint of her décolletage and kitten heel shoes. She tottered to a café in the town, swinging her hips and braless. Men’s eyes avoided hers, their crotches flat with tedium.
She became aware of a distant bur, which rapidly built into the sound of engines approaching. The ground began to vibrate underfoot. Mary stared northward where the sound seemed to be emanating and glanced around to find that everyone was doing the same. Hundreds of anxious eyes were fixed on a point on the horizon, which carried a voluminous roar, comparable only to the sound of the gates of hell opening.
Finally, the source of the noise was revealed; a gang of bikers, riding the meanest, most loquacious motorbikes Largport had ever witnessed and heard, advanced into the town. The bikes rushed past Mary, almost knocking her to the ground and headed towards the seafront café, where local quieter and more tranquil bikers would often congregate.
“What the f…,” Mary muttered under her breathe, “Jesus, Mary and God in heaven, save me from all profanities.”
Shaken, Mary Maudlin arrived at the café, smoothed her dress and walked inside to order lunch. She glimpsed her reflection in the café window and decided to start next week the diet, she had planned since Christmas. Thereafter, she sat outside and waited for Roger Thomas, the man of her desires, to arrive.
Rhona reclined on the grass near the seafront, sipping a can of Coke and stared ahead open-mouthed, as the bikers halted their bikes and dismounted. “Cool,” she enunciated aloud.
Six Harley Davison’s, each one uniquely stylised languished in the car park. The bikers swung their legs over their bikes and took off their helmets. “Cool, fuckin’ cool,” said Rhona again, as under each helmet was revealed the head of a woman.
Rhona watched as the sixth woman took off her helmet, fingered a triangular fringe of pink hair into a distinguished quiff and tossed her head backwards. Perched on her shoulder was a crow.
The biker woman was the most beautiful creature Rhona had ever seen in her life. She felt almost giddy with excitement. The woman took off her jacket, revealing a toned and muscular torso encased in a black vest and a glorious array of tattoos, which Rhona longed to examine more closely. The crow flew into the air above the woman and the bikers advanced towards the café.
Rhona moved a little closer, but, remained out of sight of the women. Her eyes widened, like an aroused adolescent boy tonguing the first breast that did not belong to his mother. The other women were all fine specimens of their own, unique kind. Their physiques varied, but each was perfectly imperfect. The largest woman possessed a gigantic pair of swaying breasts and a size twenty-two arse that spread above thighs formed to crush all swollen bollocks that landed between them.
Charley Quim asked the café owner for a cup of tea. Hands shaking, he took her money and poured the drink. With no warning, she felt a plump hand on her right buttock and turned to see a paunchy, red-faced biker grinning at her from ear to ear, like a lascivious German Shepherd before his bitch. She threw the tea at the uninvited male. He jumped and emitted an agonising wail, dripping tea all over his white t-shirt. Charley tossed her head back and laughed as only a true pantomime villain could.
Rhona looked on, open-mouthed, admiration leaking through every pour of her burgeoning frame. The crow circled above them, squawking like an infant whose ice cream had just been snatched.
Charley was the most beautiful of the biker gang, but also the ugliest. Her mind was as unsettled as Winston Smith facing his worst fear in room 101. She had a mission and would not rest until she had accomplished it.
“Act 1 completed,” she shouted at the crowd, who glared at her in horror, “Roll on act 2.”
Mary Maudlin sipped her full-fat latte and thought about Roger. Roger with his floppy fringe and perpetual semi-erection. He arrived slightly late and as excited as a creamy mouthed feline.
“Mary, how lovely to see you,” he began, “And what a wonderful day!”
She wanted to ruffle his locks, to feel the delicate whip of his hair against her cheeks.
“You’re so English,” she beamed.
“And you, my dear, are as delightful as a band of bagpipers.” He ordered a cup of tea and a scone with jam and cream. “Marvellously decadent,” he smiled, shovelling it into his kissable mouth and slapping his tongue against the corners with relish.
“And there’s nothing to you, either” said Mary, her eyes taking in his callow and thrifty frame.
“So, what ‘s the news about St. Michaels?” Roger asked.
“Another window was broken in the church hall, today.”
“That Rhona child?”
“She’s no child, she’s all of sixteen, going on thirty. Of course, there’s no proof, but everyone knows who it was. You wouldn’t have a word with her father, would you?”
Jimmy McCloud was over six feet tall, with fists like joints of ham and a temper to match.
Roger recoiled in his seat and began to stammer. “I don’t think it’s my place. However, …coming from you…as the vicar…”
Roger reminded Mary of the Kate Bush song, The Man with the Child in his Eyes. His former public-school boy credentials bequeathed him a childlike vulnerability never present in your common secondary school educated fella. She yearned both to cuddle him, like a teddy bear and tear off his pants.
“Another latte?” he asked, gently patting her thigh.
A frisson of excitement ran up her leg into the parts her mother had always forbidden her from discussing. She bit her lip and imagined unbuttoning his fly. His cock was hard and thick, long, but not long enough to damage her cervix. Her mouth clasped it and she began sucking and nibbling on it, like the most stupendous supper she had tasted since her dirty weekend with that curate from Glasgow. She could taste him all over her mouth and chin.
“Earth to Mary,” Roger was speaking, “Would you like another latte?” She smiled and wiped her chin. Mary spent the next half hour with Roger, enjoying another latte and carnal relations in the full glare of Largport’s citizens, at least in the cavern of her imagery realm.
Meanwhile, Rhona observed the biker women from a safe distance until they departed on the bare backs of their bikes into the heavenly horizon from whence, they came. When the bikers had left, Largport was able to breathe again. The seagulls returned to the seafront and passers-by spoke of the strange young women who had ridden into town and vanished again, like a shared nightmare. None dared suggest it, but everyone knew that nightmares frequently return.
The rest of the day was as unremarkable as any other day in Largport, but when the night unfurled, whispers started that the bikers had returned. Rhona and a small throng of friends had congregated outside a chip shop, terrorising locals with filthy looks and menacing giggles. By 10 o’clock they became bored and separated into twos.
Cameron brought with him a carrier bag containing a bottle of Buckfast. “Let’s go and drink this on the beach,” he suggested to Rhona.
Rhona knew that he would try it on but did not care; it was worth it for a few swigs of alcohol and, anyway, she could handle him.
They strode down the street, sharing a cigarette.
“Me and my little bro found this dead-cool porn site, earlier,” said Cameron. “It’s got girls on girls, dogs…everything.”
“Crows?” said Rhona, absentmindedly.
“I’m not a fucking perv,” Cameron replied.
Rhona found boys incredibly dull, they kept their brains in their trouser pockets with their smelly penises and their dinner money. She decided to drown his talk in her inner monologue. Her mind flew through the darkening sky with biker babes and noisy birds. If only she could obtain a motorbike, ride away from Largport prison into a new and exciting universe, where every woman possessed tattoos and boys were destroyed at birth.
Rhona and Cameron stopped near a cove and sat on the sand. He opened the Buckfast and glugged it, wiping the back of his hand across his fleshy lips. “Give it here,” barked Rhona, grabbing the bottle. She tipped the contents of the bottle into her mouth and did not stop drinking until she had drunk more than half of it.
“Hey,” shouted Cameron, “Greedy bitch.” He tried to snatch the bottle from Rhona’s vice-like grip. “Fucking bitch.”
Rhona lashed out and ran. Cameron followed her, fury eating him alive, like an internal cannibal, desirous for flesh and unrestrained fucking.
Rhona ran as fast as she could, but she had never been a sporty type. She could hear music, loud old school dance music and laughter and headed towards the noise. Cameron was too fast for her. He catapulted his wiry frame into the air and dragged her to the ground. Laying on her body, he pressed her into the ground and stuck his tongue down her throat. Rhona looked up wincing with fear and disgust and saw a figure towering above them. It was the biker babe, the ridiculously cute one.
Charley dragged Cameron off Rhona and asked if she were okay. Dazed, Rhona said that she alright.
“Go home, bab,” said Charley. “I’ll sort out this little fucktard.” She had an unusual accent, English with a hint of Scots. She grabbed Cameron’s waist and pulled him away. Rhona heard other voices approaching and shortly, the other bikers appeared.
“Go home,” shouted Charley to Rhona. Her tone was forceful, so Rhona decided not to argue. She rose and appeared to be heading home but hid out of view until the crowd had dispersed. Careful not to be seen, she peered behind some rocks and watched the scene unfold.
The bikers appeared to be camping on the beach. A fire burned heartily and scattered on the sand were empty alcohol bottles and signs of takeaway food. Rhona almost collapsed with delight, the women set upon Cameron, like a pack of hungry lionesses. Charley appeared to bite his neck. His screams rang out, like a siren, hurting her ears. Subsequently, they pounced at him in unison, tearing his clothes from his puny body and pulling out his limbs, like gluttonous Mr and Mrs Smith preparing to consume a fresh chicken joint for Sunday lunch.
Arms and legs rode through the air. Rhona inserted her hand in her mouth and bit down to stifle her laughter. Charley kicked his stupid, adolescent head into the fire and the flames hissed and mounted one another, licking his flesh and hair until it melted. Eventually, his entire torso was thrown onto the flames. The fire was angry and illuminated the ground around it on which the biker women danced, like wild marauding animals, blood dripping from their mouths and clothes.
Rhona wondered how she would explain these events to Cameron’s mother, then in a flash, realised that she would not. Rather, she walked home with a spring in her step.
As expected, Cameron’s mother arrived at her house the next day asking if she knew her son’s whereabouts. Rhona was a skilled liar and claimed that she had parted from him at the seafront, adding that he was very drunk and had joked that was, “Going for a swim.” When the police came later that day, she repeated her tale. They left satisfied.
In the evening, Rhona returned to the spot where Cameron met his brutal end and observed no sign of the previous night’s events. The area had been cleared and the fire, extinguished.
As the days unfolded, Largport hummed with rumours about the boy’s disappearance, many people claiming that the sea had taken his poor, drunken body, like a battered dingy, too small and frail to withstand the omnipotent waves.
The headline of the local weekly paper, Largport and Millpool News read: “Local Boy Disappears.” Beneath it, Cameron’s photo stared back at all readers, as innocent as a babe in arms. Rhona giggled when she saw it, conceitedly exultant that she had saved her beloved bikers from arrest and imprisonment.
On page three of the paper, beneath photos celebrating the cutest pet competition was an article, highlighting how a gang of female bikers had been terrorising the local area. There were reports of residents experiencing abusive comments, noise pollution and other anti-social behaviours. Rhona hoped from the tips of her toes to the crown of her head that no one would link the two stories.
The bikers had seemingly disappeared as abruptly as they had initially ridden into town. Bitter disappointment met all Rhona’s attempts to reacquaint with them. Unknown to the seditious sixteen-year-old, the women were also hatching a plan. Charley had tasted blood and wanted more.
It was Sunday afternoon. The sun was hazy, but Mary Maudlin burned with missionary resolve. She and the women of the church guild congregated outside the shops in the town centre, clutching petitions to their breasts. They sought signatures of people opposed to equal marriage, the church had gone too far and the ruling that same-sex partners could be legally married in church demanded a repeal.
Dear ladies, all; they had marched from the church hall with the replacement window, where they had formerly enjoyed tea and biscuits after the morning service. Outside the most popular café and shops was the most central point in the town and the busiest. Four of the six church women approached people with zeal, thrusting the petitions under noses. The other two secretly had queer relatives and were more reticent. Mary stood at their helm.
Mary’s chest expanded with avian-like conceit, she fluffed up her cassock feathers and took delight and consolation in the number of people who had stopped to chat and sign the petition, some with stories about depraved gays and lesbians attempting to take over the universe and the sacred town of Largport. Thenceforth, she heard the unmistakable sound of motorbikes and began to feel uneasy.
Charley Quim paraded along the road. In tow, were her disciples, the biker babes whose minds throbbed with corruption. The crowds parted to let them pass. Mary strode up to Charley and began to ask her to sign the petition but, in a fit of rage, Charley pushed Mary’s plump shoulder. Mary fell to the ground. Charley looked at Mary’s familiar fat face and became transported back in time to 2006.
Charley was a gangling twelve-year-old. She lay on the floor of the toilet block. A humongous arse weighed down on her chest. With her legs astride Charley’s skinny frame, the arse’s owner lowered her face towards Charley, pulling her hair, like a dog’s choke chain. Charley looked up at Mary’s inflated face and began to cry.
“Does Mummy wash your hair for you?” asked Mary. A throng of girls gathered around the two others and started to giggle and laugh. “I can smell the grease on it. Better wash it now.”
Mary dragged Charley by the hair into a toilet cubicle. Charlie sobbed voluminously. Fear gripped her as tightly as Mary’s fist gripped her blonde plait. Mary thrust Charley’s head down the toilet and flushed it. Charley could barely breathe, she spluttered, like a drowning kitten, gasping for air and her mummy, who washed her hair on Thursday evenings and plaited it every morning.
Mary flushed the toilet again and the other girls began to chant her name and cheer. Eventually, she pulled Charley’s head away from the toilet. Charley breathed. Toilet water ran down her face, alongside tears. She relaxed her hold of Charley and walked away leaving her curled up on the floor, like a foetus delivered prematurely. The other girls also left, Charley heard their jeering voices criticising her hygiene and physical appearance. It was not her fault that her mother would not buy her deodorant or razors to shave her legs. That evening when Charley returned home, she started writing her little red book of revenge. In capital letters, her first entrant read MARY MAUDLIN.
A year later Charley moved from Scotland to a new house in Birmingham, the apex of England. She acquired beauty, talent, fangs and an accent that combined curt Scots with the elongated vowels of the West Midlands. Subsequently, she graduated from university with a first-class degree in psychology and cunnilingus.
In 2018 Charley glared at the figure on the ground. So, Mary Maudlin had become a vicar.
“Let’s fuck off out of here,” Charley said to her friends. The shocked locals helped Mary stand and swore to report the Christian hate crime to the police. After all, if someone had knocked over a gay, as one of the church ladies argued, it would have become news headlines.
At the evening church service, two women dressed in bikers jackets entered late, sat near the front and spent the entire time kissing one another. The red-faced congregation pretended not to notice, except thirteen-year-old John McDowell, who nudged his parents and laughed.
News of the vicar’s plight soon reached Rhona McCloud. She spent the evening searching for her heroines on the beach but could not find them. Reluctantly, she headed home, dreading the following day. She had an appointment with a psychiatrist, the school counsellor had referred her to the child and adolescent mental health services. Her father claimed that she was not mad but bad, like her mother, who had attempted suicide several times before leaving them for a Glaswegian stud with a 10-inch cock.
Charley rose from her bed, Roxy grunted and turned over. The bikers were staying in a bed and breakfast hotel down the road from Largport in Glenyock, her proletarian neighbour. Charley let Roxy sleep, whilst she dressed for work. A crisp white blouse and black pencil skirt graced her tall and textured frame. To conceal her tattoos, she tied a thin floral scarf around her neck and begrudgingly grabbed a wig of long blonde hair, placing it on her head, like a hat that did not quite belong. The final touch was a pair of black-rimmed spectacles. Charley regarded her reflection in the mirror and felt nauseous enough to know that she looked perfect for the requirements of the day ahead. “That’s me,” she said in a faux middle-class, Scottish accent.
When Rhona awakened in response to her father’s calls, she also felt nauseous,
“I don’t want to go,” she yelled at her father through her petulant lower lip. She was bad, not mad and talking to a psychiatrist was not going to change that.
“I don’t want the authorities breathing down my neck. You’re bloody well going, girly,” Jimmy McCloud replied, pulling her by the arm to separate her from the bed. Rhona stumbled out of bed and threw on some clothes. Against her better instincts, Rhona arrived at the clinic, her face flushed with hostility and a high temperature from the heaviest period she had ever experienced. Although she was fifteen minutes late, the shrinks were typically behind time, so Rhona was forced to wait to see her psychiatrist.
Sitting in the waiting room induced in Rhona an unusual nervousness that was alien to the wayward teenager. Looking around her, she felt as though she had joined the ranks of the mad. Every time someone walked through the waiting room to fetch a client, she wondered if it was to be her and was relieved when it was not. An office door opened, and a woman looked out at the people sitting in the room, before meeting her eyes. “Rhona McCloud,” she said.
Rhona sighed with relief; the psychiatrist was rather beautiful. She smiled at Rhona and her smile was the visual equivalent of receiving a head bump from a pet cat or the taste of chocolate ice-cream. Rhona could not stop herself returning the smile and followed the psychiatrist into her office as compliantly as a member of Mary’s church congregation.
“I’m Charlotte Quimzella,” began the doctor, looking at her notes. “A lot of people are worried about you.”
Charley sniffed the air, blood and menstrual fluid filled her nostrils, like a sweet perfume. She looked at the child properly for the first time and realised that the strange, wild-eyed young person was not a child but a woman. Behind her thick-framed glasses, Rhona noticed Charley’s brilliant emerald eyes. They shone with a passion that illuminated her perfect skin. She wore thin, white gloves and a delicate scarf. Rhona wondered what she was hiding.
“There’s nothing wrong with me,” Rhona scoffed, but even her scoff was half-hearted, wrapped in an acquiescent smile.
Charley had seen her client somewhere before and suddenly realised that she was the woman whose boyfriend she had hideously decapitated on the beach, her hair and eyes were almost as black as her soul. She smelled so pretty of blood and unrestrained virginity. She must have her.
Rhona had thought no other woman could rival the biker babe in looks and presence, but this woman, a fucking psychiatrist, was almost as spectacular. In their meeting, she became simultaneously lover and mother to the young woman who discovered herself in the hem of her psychiatrist’s pencil skirt.
“How are you?” asked Dr Quimzella. Rhona knew that she meant it, for she answered her as she had never answered anyone before, from the bottom of her heart, which beat a little too quickly for this to be her only meeting with the psychiatrist.
To ensure that she captured Charley’s interest, Rhona decided to fake some symptoms. “I can hear peoples’ thoughts,” she began. The doctor looked amused, or had Rhona imagined it?
“So, what am I thinking now?” Charley asked.
“That I’m fucked up.”
“I was thinking it’s a beautiful day out there. Wish it were night.” Desire burned throughout Charley’s hideous mind and beautiful body, a desire that could only be satisfied at night. Her eyes made love to Rhona’s neck, she watched her veins pulsate with excitement and knew that she had to stop them. Now was not the right time. When the time came, she would beckon the wild child and eat her out alive.
Rhona left in an entranced state. Had the beautiful psychiatrist hypnotised her with her beguiling beauty? She did know. But she did know that she wanted more and would have to wait two whole weeks to see her again. Rhona heard a bird squawking and looked up to see a crow on the wall outside the clinic. She waved her arms at it and shouted, “Piss off,” but the bird was unafraid, winking at her from its perch. Rhona proceeded home, fantasising about what the doctor would look like in only bra and knickers.
To Jimmy McCloud’s great surprise, Rhona returned home in buoyant spirits. “She declared me sane and say she’d see me in two weeks,” Rhona beamed.
“That’s what I thought,” said her father, “…Psychopath.”
In the evening Rhona reclined on her bed listening to def metal tunes and became aware of tapping on her bedroom window. She looked out to see a crow on the ledge. It seemed to want to come inside, so Rhona opened the window and the crow flew in. The bird circled above Rhona’s head before pausing by the window almost as though motioning her to go outside. Rhona thought about the crow that had accompanied the biker woman and the one she saw earlier outside the clinic and her mind percolated an idea. As bizarre and unlikely as it seemed, the bird’s behaviour suggested that she had been sent to summon her. Rhona put on her shoes and rushed outside, the crow escaping through her window.
Rhona’s instincts carried her to the location where the dastardly Cameron had demised. The crow flew nearby.
Her heart pounded with excitement rendering her legs almost too weak to run. Her beloved beckoned her, and she answered with a yielding heart and a body that yearned to be taken, like a sweet in a jar, and sucked to the point of dissolution.
Her instincts proved reliable. In the exact spot where Cameron had been horrifically and humorously pulled apart, the bikers laughed and danced around a fire. They were semi-nude and completely, unapologetically rude. At that moment, she saw Charley. Charley glanced back and summoned her to join them. Joy ensnared Rhona, like a trap, so she kicked off her shoes and ran onto the beach to join the goddesses.
Music boomed from a mobile phone to which Rhona danced, alongside the others. They offered her gifts, alcohol and food, which she gorged as though insatiable. The flames licked the women’s bare flesh, making patterns like fiery pens drawing lustfully across their female skin.
Charley approached her, “Open your mouth,” she said in that strange accent, she had noted the first time she spoke to her. Ecstatic that the beauty had spoken to her, Rhona obeyed.
Charley inserted her tongue into Rhona’s mouth, sliding a small tablet inside, like a swollen penis. “Swallow, bab. Swallow.”
Rhona regularly shared spliffs with her friends but had never experimented with any other drugs. In films, characters would stare at their hands to observe the psychoactive effects of drugs, so she did the same, but discovered that her hands were unaltered. Afterwards, she looked up and the world had changed. She was alive in a music video. Shot sometime in the 1980s, social reality via the video was a distorted version of its former self. Everything and everyone were silver and shiny, movement more rapid, sounds louder. When she looked, she no longer saw but perceived.
Rhona coughed up thoughts, like phlegm, which zoomed into the air. Droplets of thoughts became winged parcels, coloured purple and orange. They ascended, like wild birds, then vanished until her mind blanked. She became all id, pure anima, like an infant dependant only on the will of their libido to survive. Clarity of insight blinded her eyes, like acid and she saw nothing but a blanket of darkness. She was not afraid. Her body replaced her vision and moved to the music. “Out of control,” sang the singer. Rhona danced, like a 90’s raver and opened her eyes.
Rhona perceived Charley dancing before her. Charley undressed and the more flesh Rhona perceived the more excited she became. She possessed tits that made her want to regress to be a baby again, her nipples filling their mounds and as erect as bullets firing in her direction.
The firelight made her blonde pubic hair look so translucent that she could almost feel the pretty pink skin barely concealed beneath it. Charley grabbed Rhona’s waist and pulled her close. She could feel her angles and curves against her torso. She kissed her and their tongues pushed one another in a pique of passion and abandonment.
Charley pulled Rhona’s t-shirt over her head and with the merest flick of a wrist unleashed her breasts. She sucked and mouth fucked. Charley grabbed Rhona’s hair, pulling her head to the left. She tossed her head back and emitted an almighty roar. When Rhona looked into her eyes, she saw that the whites had filled with blood, as crimson as a Largport sunset and two fangs protruded from her upper gum, as clean as a nun’s conscience.
Charley bit Rhona’s neck like a ripe apple and in unison, they moaned until their moans became screams. Rhona felt light-headed, soaked from head to toe in blood, sweat and cum. In contrast, Charley was as dry as the unsullied, except between her legs. Losing consciousness, Rhona collapsed on the ground.
When Rhona awoke, she was alone on the beach. It was no longer dark, and the air radiated an early morning whirr that usually made her want to hide beneath her duvet. Not today, she followed her trail of clothes and felt more alive than she ever had. She dressed and skipped home accompanied by the dawn chorus. Memories of the previous night flooded her psyche. She smiled. She could feel the weight of bodies pressed against hers. Hands tore at her naked skin, like pincers, searching for the hidden glories, her clothes had concealed. She felt as unclothed as a new-born, awaiting experience to define her. One by one, they took turns to bite her. Their mouths strained towards her, pleasuring her in ways about which she had no former knowledge. Tasting her essence rejuvernated them. They lay back with sand in their crevices and blood on their chins.
When she arrived home, she was surprised to see her father snoozing in his armchair. He awoke with a start and stared at her the way he would a waiter who had brought him chips without the gravy he had ordered. “What time do you call this, girly?” he began.
“Dunno, haven’t got a watch on,” said Rhona.
“And look at the state of you.”
Rhona’s hair and eyes were as wild as those of a handsome gipsy child, huge purple bruises sealed her neck as though a beast of the forest had claimed her.
“If you’re up the duff, you can just get rid of it. I’m never having no more weens in this house. Get to bed, I don’t want to look at you.” He picked up a half-drunk can of lager and began to swig it.
She did as her daddy said, singing the song Ebenezer Goode to the pretty pictures that penetrated her head.
If Mary Maudlin’s mission was to rid the world of all homosexuals, Charley Quim’s was to destroy Mary Maudlin. Since her encounter with her in the town centre, she had felt unusually out of sorts. She had correctly presumed that Mary would still reside in Largport, but her becoming the local vicar rendered Charley’s plans much more fun, like killing two birds with 1 stone. Only, she liked birds, it was human beings who rattled her open cage.
She yearned for blood with the burning desire of a boy racer on a scooter fantasising about a joyride on a Harley Davidson. She ached for that taste that swelled a woman’s body, like a river of semen in the neck of a womb. The wild child had satisfied her only momentarily. She desired more and as much as she desired blood, she sought Mary’s demise. Charley had much to do. Until Largport-on-Sea’s superior smirk could be erased from its inflated face, she refused to rest.
Every day Rhona grew more beautiful. Her skin shone, like ivory and her hair became increasingly lustrous, her dense black locks tumbling down her back, like a raven of waves, slapping the shore of flesh that covered her taut frame. She delighted in her newfound womanliness, making wild and unabandoned love to herself several times a day. At night, bizarre and unfathomable dreams afflicted her. Searching through streams of women of the highest order, each dream culminated in her capturing at least one and consuming them, like meat. Invariably, she awoke with the metallic and satisfying tang of blood in her mouth.
Despite Rhona’s growing beauty and vitality, a sense of frustration nagged her, like her father’s disapproval. A yearning to experience something beyond the purely experiential and higher than the spiritual left her as unfulfilled as a bride on her wedding night married to an impotent bridegroom. She thought about Charlotte Quimzella and Charley Quim, and walked into the bathroom, locking the door behind her. Rhona opened a cabinet and found her father’s razor blades. She plunged a blade into her arm and dragged it across her flesh, biting down on her bottom lip. Blood poured from her arm. Her greedy lips pressed against the wound and sucked until her skin became as dry and tarnished as Mary’s hollow heart. Finally, she had found her calling and it tasted fine.
The following day Dr Quimzella received a phone message from Mr McCloud that his daughter had been self-harming. She laughed to herself; her girl had blossomed. It was time to enact the next chapter of her plan. Thus, she wrote a letter to the local vicar expressing her concerns about a client, whose case notes had mentioned her. She said that she wished to meet with her. Her tone was almost reverential; she laughed again.
Two days later, receiving the letter surprised Mary. Why would a psychiatrist want to meet a vicar? Nevertheless, the letter was warm, convivial and seemingly conceived from respect for the church and her. She emailed a reply and received one in return almost immediately. Mary thought it strange that the doctor wished to meet her in the church in an evening, but her courteous manner ameliorated any concerns she might have.
Thus, it came to pass that the two women met the following evening. Mary was fifteen minutes early and dressed in full vicar regalia. Charley arrived fifteen minutes late and adorned like all self-respecting psychiatrists in a matching skirt and blazer.
The unusually hot weather broke, transmuting into the most furious thunderstorm Largport had witnessed for many years. The sky lit up with wrathful strokes of lightning and the rain pelted like bullets against the church windows. Inside, the women greeted one another with smiles and a decisive handshake.
“Dr Quimzella? Mary,” said the vicar. Oh my God, she’s beautiful. What the hell does she want?
“Ms Maudlin. It’s good to meet you,” replied Charley. I want to tear out your throat. Make you my sacrificial goat and eat you for supper.
“How can I help you?” said Mary, her face at once quizzical but anxious. I hope that this isn’t going to take long. Roger Thomas will be here in an hour. I took a long shower and smell like lavender for him. My smell’s not for you. Get this right, I’m not that kind of girl…your kind of girl. Yes, you’re attractive but you do nothing for me.
“You know a young woman called Rhona, Rhona McCloud,” began Charley. Human slaughter is my occupation, your death my preoccupation. I look at you and want to undo your flesh, like a dress until you expire. I have sought to secure your demise, but you torture me with your indifferent tone and sickly smiles.
“What’s your accent?” asked Mary. She sounds a bit Birmingham, wish my tummy were as flat as hers. Rhona McCloud? I shit on her grave.
“Rhona McCloud…” said Charley. “You made a complaint to the police about her.” Bitch. You could at least pretend you want to save her from temptation’s tattooed tits, and self-righteous Catholic fuckwits. But it’s you who need saving. I have a craving. I crave annihilating you.
“That girl has broken my windows on more than one occasion.” Mary’s mouth twisted in anger. I think I hate you.
Mary rose from her seat, projecting a palpable level of defensiveness. Charley’s body language reflected her adversary’s and she walked towards her, glaring into her eyes, like a feral cat about to pounce on prey.
“Remember Fanny Quim?” snapped Charlie. Fanny Quim was the name the other school students cruelly gave Charley.
“W-hat?” asked Mary, anxiety creeping into her resolve.
“Fanny Quim,” Charley shouted in her face.
Mary’s expression changed from puzzlement to fear. Charley grabbed Mary’s arm and pulled her towards her until their foreheads touched.
“Let me go,” pleaded Mary.
Years collapsed like dominoes and Mary remembered being at school. Charlotte Quim appalled her; she was the creep at the back of the class who could not wash her hair, the one no self-respecting boy would ask out. Rumours suggested that she even played with herself. Mary regarded Charley’s green eyes and immediately recognised their gleaming glare. “Fanny Quim. But… you’re beautiful!” she cried out.
Charley wrestled Mary to the ground and sat on her chest as wild as a pussy cat with glaring fangs. She roared from the bottom of her deep, dark lungs and penetrated Mary’s neck, tearing her flesh as though devouring a meaty lunch. Mary was immobilised and her pain felt so acute that it became beautiful, catapulting her on waves of agony and ecstasy in never-ending climatic torture. Charley was determined to bleed her dry, consume her blood like wine, but her blood was weak and bland, more like strawberry squash than fine wine. She heard noises outside the church and suddenly rose, her tongue lapping her mouth of excess liquid and hurried out of the church.
Roger Thomas entered. Mary stumbled near the ground. She looked dishevelled, as though her clothes had been clawed from her body and blood streamed from her plump neck. Roger inhaled sharply, the vicar had been despoiled, assaulted like a common girl of no faith or godly inclination. He gathered her in his manly arms and prayed for her redemption.
Meanwhile, the other bikers embarked on a rampage, invading houses uninvited and converting women and girls to lesbianism with one foul bite of their protruding front teeth. When their desires were satisfied, they met at the seafront. Rejuvenated with the medicinal power of human blood, each one was even more beautiful than when they had arrived.
When Charley reached them, they roared in unison, their noise ringing out like church bells across the town.
Seven bikers left Largport’s shore. Riding pillion on the back of Charley Quim’s bike was a sixteen-year-old lesbian called, Rhona McCloud, who roared the loudest. The crow flew above them.
MOTOWN LOVE SONGS by James Schwartz
Sing me Motown love songs on midsummer nights,
This is my homecoming,
After 5 years of travels
To the end of the earth,
Where one will find,
A City of Refuge,
The air hangs heavily over Motor City,
Everyone is escaping to cool countryside boroughs,
I remain in the city,
Working at the resturant,
Serving delicious African fare,
Catching the bus by the old Model T factory,
I love Sheefy McFly’s art on 7 Mile,
An homage to Keith Haring:
With dancing boom box & heart,
(“Techno is Black”)
(“This ain’t graffiti, it’s art!”)
I saw the ghosts of Diego & Frida downtown,
I saw “Cowboy” yesterday on his horse,
Cantering down Woodward,
Leading a spotted colt,
It is now the second week in July,
Blueberry season begins,
Highland Park used to be called,
The City of Trees…
I hear the train whistle late at night,
Or in the morning,
Over Detroit techno,
“Baby I need your loving”…
“We almost lost Detroit”…
From Safety-Pinned Hearts by Charles and Brandon Carter
I can’t stand this place by Ari Whipple
From the foam
I rise up like curls drying
I get ready for my night out on the town
oh how he’ll see my shape
my lips my form
be dazzled by the very essence of me
he’ll be lost in my thighs by midnight
when I’m walking away with her, ah sweet her
she is my everything
she cuts my throat
leaves me dripping with blood and sweat
and her lashes brushing my cheek
what thrills it gives me again
I am lost in your eyes
Let’s run away
t4t by Katie Proctor
there came a time when my breasts stopped aching with unfulfilled womanhood, and i stopped hurting quite so much, started wanting and living and loving like i was born to do. every morning i look at the picture on the fridge, stand by the toaster and still see the she with the smile and the baby blonde hair, and it still feels strange to think about where the line was drawn. like when i started growing into the body i get to call home. i stopped hating it and started calling it a blessing, a privilege for anyone lucky enough to see it sprawled in the moonlight in satin and lace. like i’m goddamn work of art in my not-quite-femininity, won’t let anyone in who doesn’t understand that my hips can be androgynous, non-committal and just as fluid as when i dance to lizzo in my bathroom. and i’m mourning, i say, really i am, pining for an innocence and delusion i barely remember but can see in that picture on the fridge. wish it’d never crossed my mind, life would have been so easy. but what’s life if you can’t write your own fables, i don’t know but i sure as hell wouldn’t like to be living it. not when it feels just like this, thunder outside my window and a bouquet of genderless roses. won’t go back except in the skirts and shoes i’ve learned i can still love. doesn’t make me a girl, doesn’t make me anything. it’s abundant and rich and empty all at once, loving between the lines – myself and others, so regardless. i don’t think about it, don’t kiss and tell and label. it’s cold, really, and pretty all at once. got to love my stripes and glitter. finished with naivety if it doesn’t mean understanding. i’ll cry a thousand times over if it can be like this. i’ll put flowers in my mouth and at my ankles. i get it now.
Overheard in the workshop the day god created lesbians by Rae Theodore
Erasure poem using transcript from The Great Pottery Thrown Down, season 1, episode1
It’s so exciting. I’m actually tingling with excitement. I’m feeling emotional
actually, now. (SHE LAUGHS) I’ve got hankies today. I’m excited.
Look at these beautiful examples on the table. This one here,
with the beautiful rhythm. And these, the continuity of the size.
It looks like one has been born out of the other one. Stunning.
I just love the idea that you’re taking this piece of mud
and you’re creating something that could last
thousands of years. I’m still undecided on whether
to go small to large or large to small. This is where
the panic kicks in. Good to get the first one
under the belt. Lovely. (SHE WOLF WHISTLES)
It’s working to exact measurements, that’s the difficult bit.
But it’s not just a case of getting the tape measure out.
They’re the same height. They’re not meant to be the same height.
This is nowhere near what I want it to be. They should line up.
I would say that’s a lovely, wavy line. It appeals to me. It’s kind of like
traditional Mediterranean style and, like, Medieval English. I think it’s good
to source inspiration from lots of different places. Nice shapes. Getting there!
That’s nice. Relax. They are completely different shapes. It’s too straight-sided.
Argh! There’s a bit of time left, so I’m going to try and do another one. It’s going
to be all right. The handles are quite soft. In an ideal world, I would firm up the handles
a little bit. Well, the thing is, I never do anything consistently. Everything I do is very unique. I’ve never done this shape before. Sure the small ones are really quick.
Steady, girl. Normally on these I’d put, like, a little pit for your thumb. Just as a little
decoration. I’ve got seven left to do and a minute. No problem. (SHE GASPS)
Oh, my God, this is going to be a disaster. It’s not going to be finished.
Come on, you’ve just got a few seconds. Get them up there. Chop, chop.
It’s about rhythm and consistency. They look pretty well joined.
Well, these are looking pretty good. I love the fluidity. Lovely ridges.
Really lovely. Lovely little curl. That’s lovely, that little gesture.
This tells a story, doesn’t it? It’s quite a bold statement to do this.
Beautiful the cheeky curl. It’s just a winner. Absolutely.
(SHE HUMS CIRCUS MUSIC) There you go. Get them
in there, girl. They look gorgeous. They feel
beautiful. (SHE AUDIBLY EXHALES)
It’s not bad. Ok. This looks good.
I’ve got to finish on time.
This Closet is a Chrysalis by Donny Winter
from Feats of Alchemy (2021), Alien Buddha Press
Dear Kid, you’re not out and that’s okay because
one day you’ll go from pacing gravel driveways
to marching down cobblestone paths beneath marble archways.
Your jagged root-feet will reach for us
when you’re ready to take in the rich historic nutrients left
by their stories, by your ancestors’ legacies.
This closet is a chrysalis, so,
swaddle these starch linens until they
wrap your wings for when they’re read to unfold,
then, let the spark that is your pride ignite,
let your core spin with delight as you’re
the next light in this spectrum:
a new star born in this stellar nursery.
Cinder by Mel Sherrer
Black children die
and the world wants a sermon,
wants plantation woe songs,
velvet robes, candles, and Psalms,
wants Black people to grieve
within the confines
of billowy church sleeves.
Let me come as I am, wailing about the dead
not a preacher, but an arsonist.