Vintage Men's Mags #41: Adam (1963)

I've scanned a good deal of pages from this gem from '63.  For easier reading, I've, as usual, copied the text into the post.  There's some really good stories in this one that I think you'll enjoy.

Although this is a men's magazine akin to Playboy, it's pretty tame, and I've left most of the cheesecake out (wouldn't want to get flagged).  So, it's mostly SFW, although you some of the artwork is a little risque. 

We'll start with the issue's first story "Raincheck" by Marco Messina.  It's told in that old school Raymond Chandler fashion.  Messina has a flair for the lingo and it makes this short tale of a hardboiled reporter and a dame that's a real tough cookie "tough, with no part of cookie in it"  a really enjoyable read.

It was just about dark when my lights picked her up in the rain with the suddenness of magic. She was glistening, startling, and naked.

She wasn't actually naked, but you know what happens to blue jeans when they get wet. They shrink. And when there's a female inside, you get this spectacular, plastic effect of hip and thigh wanting to burst forth from con­straint.

And you know what happens to a white cotton shirt when it gets wet. It clings. There was a lot to cling to. The girl's breasts were also impatient of constraint, and with that thrust and roundness and the pert nipples showing through the wet cloth she might as well have been naked.

That day I had gone down to Pottsville, a real nothing town thirty miles across the State line, because my paper thought it might be nice to cover a war memorial unveil­ing. But I had gotten the town wrong—Podsville, one State further on—and I didn't think it was that important, con­sidering the times. So I left for home the same afternoon, without a story.

It rained hard all that day. The highway was a smear of wet gray, my pants were all wet from a leak in the door of my heap, and I felt that life stinks. That's when I saw the girl.

Let's say I stopped because she was wet, cold, and alone. The way you take pity on a poor little kitten?

She got into the car, mumbled "Thanks," and barely looked at me. But I saw she had black, hasty eyes, and a look of both coldness and fright. A strange combination.

She sat away from me and hugged herself. This concealed nothing. The double round­ness of her breasts swelled into the vee of her shirt and glistened like ripe fruit. Where the shirt clung, the skin
shone through pink.

But Good Samaritans don't stare.

"I got a duffle coat in the back," I said. "Put that on, why don't you?"

I really was looking straight ahead most of the time, because why else my surprise when I glanced at her to see what she was doing? She was doing a very fine job of producing a rapid flutter inside me by strip­ping off her shirt. She had turned her back, but there was this excit­ing curve of her waist nipped in and hips flaring out.

"If you move over here more," I said, "you get the blast from the heater."

She didn't talk much. She was sullen and tough. So far that didn't disturb me. What disturbed me was the way in which she kept fooling with the duffle coat, flashing naked curves and bare skin at me.

"Where to?" I asked.

"As far as you'll take me."

Several destinations raced through my mind, such as the back seat, or a bed.

"I'm going to Lake City," I said. I didn't tell her that I couldn't make it in one haul but would have to stop over.

"You can't make that in one haul," she said, still fooling with the duffle coat. She wasn't wet any­more. The sheen on the skin of her breasts came from their remarkable fullness. Her nipples were no longer hard but had relaxed into a soft plumpness.

"Excuse me," she said, noting me stare like a "Bad" Samaritan.

"No, no. Excuse me. But, you know..."

"I know." She stared straight ahead. "I'm stranded, broke, and half naked. You'd like to run your hand in here and hang on—just to wile away the time on a dull ride, of course. Then we stop for the night and you spread-eagle me in a rented bed, that's only your due. I know."

Tough cookie? This was tough with no part of cookie in it.

"What a way to talk about sex!"

I was shocked at the way I sounded shocked. "You're doing a great deal of damage to your natural appeal, with that kind of talk."

"I'm built like this since I was thirteen. That's ten years to show me that you are wrong."

"Okay. But you haven't always been cold, broke, and alone. How did it happen?"

Her story was plausible. Her name was Ruth. She had been on her way from the Coast to New York to start a small scholarship there in a school for painting. (Her blue jeans, I noted, had gesso stains on them.) She had talent, no par­ents, and a junky car. When her car gave out she had started to hike. Then...

"There were two of them that picked me up," she said. "One of them held me and the other one stripped off my clothes. Then they took turns." She wrapped herself tight with the coat. "I think one of them had me twice."

"Listen," I said, with no idea what to say. But I wanted her to know a little sympathy.

"So all right. But then the bas­tards took off with my suitcase and overcoat still in their car."

You might think a story like that might make a guy tool his heap straight into the next motor court. I did. You might think next comes a cabin and a double bed. It did.

I got one cabin because I didn't have the dough for two, and a double bed because that's all there was. And after her shower, she came back and dropped off the tow­el and there, pink and warm, walk­ed desire.

"You want the light on?" she said.

Reasonable question, but I felt chilled, somehow.

And when she lay next to me I did run my hand over her, that firm, insistent female shape, down her front and over her thighs . . .

"How do you want it?" she said.

Well, I have certain ideas about sex and no reasonableness can make up for it. I turned over on my side. "Forget it!" I said and went to sleep.

When I woke up, it wasn't be­cause she was missing from the bed, but because there was a cold draft on my neck. It was dark and then I heard them talking—some man and Ruth.

"Of course he's here," she was whispering. "I didn't scream be­cause he didn't do anything yet."

"His loss," said the man, and sounded rough.

The ceiling light went on and he was rough indeed.

A bull of a man in a rumpled suit, who pushed the girl into the room and slammed the door.

"Hi, lover," he said and laughed dirty.

"Cops?" I said, and looked at his ugly face.

"Jest a simple country lawyer, son, who knows the law and how to protect innocent maidens." He flip­ped the duffle coat off the girl, look­ed at her as if she were a side of beef, and then mauled one of her breasts with his hand.

"Lookit what you missed. Whatsa matter, don't you like girls?"

That sort of talk doesn't mean a thing to me. I was wishing he would come to the point. He did.

"Well, you'll just hafta pay with­out the fun."

"What's the shake-down?"

"Mann Act, you bastid. You cross­ed the State line with her and then took her to bed."

My throat went dry. I looked at Ruth and knew her word could do it. This wasn't the first time they had pulled the trick.

"I think I'll call the cops," I said lamely.

"Glad to oblige, lover," he grin­ned. "In my small, friendly town I been real good friends with the law." And being sure of his man he went right on. "Now, how we do this, is like so—" he pulled several forms out of his pocket. "The vic­tim here, she signs this complaint, swears out a warrant, and I'm the witness in writing who seen you cross the line. And who come to her rescue when she protested your im­proper advances. It's all made out."

I waited for the pitch.

"So, figuring you ain't rich, we'll just make it thirty bucks a week 'til the statue of limitations runs out."

It was neat. No risk and the key to it all, this sweet girl of mine, was hard as nails.

"I got a string of others paying up," he said, confident now, and bragging. "Maybe four cee a week, all told." He threw my clothes at me.

After he had copied my name and address out of my wallet he gave that back too, minus six dollars. I got dressed and did some heavy thinking.

"Seeing I'm stuck," I told him, "how about letting me have her for a quick one?"

"Sure," he said, a lewd grin on his ugly face. "With your clothes on?"

I looked from him to her, then slowly shook my head.

"I'll take a rain check. Till she grows up.

She glared at me and put the duf­fle coat over her shoulders again.

"I don't want you, baby!" I growled. "I only hit the sack with women— not heartless sex-machines!"

Her mouth tightened and her eyes widened.

"Ruthy," said the big guy. "You didn't get your man this time, but I got mine. Sign here."

She kept staring at me.

"Come on!" he said, and put the papers on the dresser.

She didn't move.

His ugly grin faded. He grabbed her arm with one hand and made a fist with the other.

"Run!" she yelled. "Run!" And stepped right into his swing.

I ran—right at him. She was like a wildcat all over him. I got my fist in his eye. This only straighened him up. I kicked him in the pirt of the stomach and, when he doubled up, I came up with a knee. His face made a squishy sound. A quick chop with the edge of my hand, and the bas­tard crashed to the floor.

I grabbed the papers and the girl, and ran.

We drove through the night in si­lence and when she was ready to talk, she talked.

"I got stranded," she whispered, "the way I said. Then a cop picked me up. He was okay, but he told me he'd have to book me on a vagrancy charge. At the station I asked for a lawyer and got one. That creep back there at the motel. He bailed me out. That night I let him have me. I was scared and didn't know what else to do. But he did. He said he'd get me on a prostitution charge unless I worked with him at—you know what."

"For how long?"

"A month, he said. It's been three months."

We drove in silence.

"Why didn't you jump him before, like you did?" I asked finally.

She shrugged. "Why didn't you take me, like the others?"

My turn to shrug. "It's got nothing to do with being decent or noble," I said. "I didn't make love to you be­cause I don't enjoy a hard-nosed, calculating woman, Ruthy."

Her voice, when she touched my arm, was a new and different voice.

"Thank you," she said. "Thank you for not sleeping with me when I was a bitch."

Now you might think that I in­stantly slewed the heap into the next motel to see how much Ruthy had changed. I did. And she proved it to me

In case you missed them, here's the comics that ran alongside the story:

This one is by the great Bill Ward.  I actually remember him best from his work with, of all places, Cracked magazine back in the 1970s and early 80s.

Question: Is the bawdy comic a lost art?  They used to be so popular in Playboy and a host of other men's magazines including Esquire and Gentlemen's Quarterly.  What happened?

The next article is a thing of beauty.  It's a reference list for comebacks to things the things women say.  So, if you ever wanted to know the perfect response to "I think we should just be friends", read on.  I haven't reprinted them all, but a few are noteworthy...

Since the beginning of time, the female of the species has learned the art of parry. The male makes the pass and even if she is attracted to the proposition, pride demands she make some kind of negative answer. More often than not though, she is open to argument. Here are some of the more popular conversational turn-downs and some recommended responses for the male:

She: Can't we just be friends?
He: Yes, we can. We are. And that's why we require an intimacy to hold our relationship together. Friendship carries many re­sponsibilities.

She: If we do, you'll hate me. 
He: Exactly the opposite. If we do I'll love you. I'll feel deeply grateful about the sacrifice you're making for me.

She: Can't we talk this over for a few dates? 
He: Yes, we could, but if you'd lived like I have, you'd know how important it is to grab a few moments of pleasure when it's there. Life is funny and to­morrow we're liable to be 6,000 miles apart.

She: I'd hate myself in the morning. 
He: I can promise you, you'll feel so satisfied and languid in the morning you'll only thank me and you'll have no regrets, only appreciation.
She: I had a feeling all evening you were leading up to this.
He: It's true, and it's the highest compliment that I or any man could pay to a girl, I have spared no time or thought just to get us to this moment.

She: My mother would die if she found out.
He: I respect you so much at a mo­ment like this for thinking of your mother. But you can be­lieve me that if your mother had her life to live over again she'd experience many more joys than she had
She: At this time of night?
He: It's the late hours of the night when romance flourishes. And time knows no heartbeat.

"Mexico City: Everyman's Eden" by Arnold Ryder

If your kids are doing a paper for geography class, I probably would advise against it.  The article is a bit long (and a little dull at times); however, for those that have been to or lived in Mexico, this might be of interest - considering how insanely fantastical this all is.  Comparing it to the violence ridden landscape that it is today, makes it even more humorous.  Enjoy.

Take the left bank of Paris, take Harlem, Soho and all the rest, whip together with chili and you have a city that will draw tourists from the far corners of the globe. Every minute of every day of the year, people pour into Mexico City. At the airport you can hear German, French, Japanese, and lan­guages totally unrecognizable.

What is your pleasure? Seductive females, hypnotic mushrooms, death in the bull ring, or dancing with a beautiful nude in the dimly lit night club? In Mexico, no matter how bizarre your fancy, it can be fulfilled.

I remember my first visit to the Capital of Mexico five years ago. Four of us piled into a wreck of a cab and someone yelled "Llevenos a la calle de las mujeras." (Take us to the street of the women.)

We stopped at the entrance of a brightly lit alley. The street itself was dark but the plate-glass win­dows that lined the walk, were aglow. In the windows were mani­kins displaying feminine undercloth­ing. One of the manikins moved, got to her feet and smiled. This was real flesh. The girl rolled her lush hips a few times and then slowly pulled up her slip. She wasn't wearing panties. I walked the entire length of the alley and found that each window was more exciting than the next.

"Hey Arnie," one of the guys yell­ed, "have you tried a sample?" He showed me what he meant. The windows slid open.

The girl I was watching was very dark, with large eyes and long, dark hair. She had a waist I could span with my hands, and her bust and hips I could span with my arms. I opened her window and reached in. Behind the windows, the girls had their own apartments . ..

I returned to Mexico City a couple of years later and was dis­appointed to hear that the street was no longer in operation. This however, was only a drop in the en­tertainment bucket of Mexico. For instance, while walking to my hotel in the early afternoon, a very lovely young girl passed me. I turned to watch her. Her supple body was en­cased in a blue suit that did little to hide her charms. Her chaste little buttocks rolled in seductive motion as she made her way down the street. A moment later she stopped, turned around and walked back to­ward me.

We talked a few minutes and then she pulled a card from her purse. "I have to go back to work," she said. "If you have time, why don't you come over and visit."

The following day I found time. I rang the doorbell of a very im­pressive home. A servant ushered me into a comfortable sitting room and asked me to wait. A few min­utes later the-French Doors to my right opened and six tasty chicks walked in. They were dressed in business suits and reminded me of the sex secretaries you see in the jokes.

The serving girl returned and poured us all drinks. I was about to ask what the hell was coming off when I found out... it was clothes. One by one, the girls stood and peeled. It was the middle of the day—I had walked into a rich con­servative (?) house—looking for a sweet innocent (?) girl and wound up surrounded by six luscious wom­en, clad only in their rosy skin.

An hour later, Maria showed up. She looked as delicious as she had the day before when I'd seen her on the street, but I was just too tired to do anything about it. After all, six broads can take a lot out of a man.

A few evenings later I took a walk down Juarez Ave., the main drag of Mexico City, and stopped in for a drink at the Torro Bar. The joint was filled with well dressed Mexicans and run-down looking Gringos. A girl wearing high heels and black mesh stockings, (nothing else, I swear) was singing a tired old American Song. It was obvious no one was interested in the music. Every once in a while a guy would make a grab. Usually he caught something warm.

The singer with the big round, whirling and very bare backside finished her act, so I got up to leave. A fellow at the bar stopped me. "Hey man," he said, "things are just get­ting started."

I waited. The singer and ten other identically unclad girls, filed onto the dance floor, their bare bottoms and breasts bouncing. In exchange for a drink, I found myself in the arms of a fantastic nude dancing partner.

Six months ago, I returned to Mexico City. Many years had passed and I was anxious to see how the old places looked. I checked in at a comfortable hotel called the Ferrol. (You can get a single, with a private bath for two dollars.) I had dinner that night at the Chalet Suiza, which is my favorite restaurant in the Capital.

As I ate dinner, all I could think about were the many delights I had experienced on previous trips. I still had the calling card the girl had given me, and the address of the Torro Bar; both places had disap­peared.

I asked a cab driver about the situation. Things had been tough in the past couple of years, he told me, and the cops were demanding stiffer payoffs. We cruised the streets where the gals used to hang out by the score. During the entire evening, all we found was one fat old street walker.

What had happened to the "old" Mexico City, I thought to myself, as I walked from my hotel to the Del Prado bar? I looked up to check for rain clouds and noticed a sign in the second floor window of a run­down building; Private Investigator. Gilbert Rodriguez answered the door. Although Mexican, he could speak perfect English.

I told him that beside being a tourist, I was a reporter for sever­al American magazines. A fee was agreed upon. He would give all the help he could, provided I paid the fee in advance. In the next two weeks, with the detective's help, I viewed Mexico City from head to foot, from bull fights to whore houses. I discovered many things. Mainly, Mexico DF is a city with a very strong double standard. This multiple standard exists in every walk of life. Every male (and that means you, if you plan to stay a while) is required to maintain a mistress. Such a require­ment can be difficult since every female, generally speaking, is re­quired to remain chaste until mar­ried. The implication is obvious; most of the sleeping around is done with other men's wives. This makes the House of 111 Repute a necessity.

Besides sex, there are other sports in Mexico: Cock-fighting—although it has its points—isn't too popular in the Capital. It is mainly a rural diversion. Horses run at the Hipo-dromo three days a week, almost the year round. Jai Alai is played six days a week at the Fronton Mexico. The game is a little like hand ball, but much faster. The bookies are always within range of your voice and are ready to take bets at constantly changing odds.

Now we have arived at the Pri­mer a Atraccion: The Spectacle of the Bulls. The scene of the crime is the 50,000 seat Plaza Mexico. By purchasing a ticket (prices start at 32c) you will be allowed to witness the prostitution of a great tradition. In years past, the fighting bulls were bred for speed, courage, strength and size. A matador was either good, or his body was crushed and split by the sharp horns. Today, the situation is different. The bulls are small (many look like over-sized calves) and often cowardly. The fight has deteriorated to such a point that people often bet on whether the bull or the matador will run first.

We have all read stories of the horns of fighting bulls being filed down to dull them. Many of you probably read of cases where bulls have been drugged with doped ban-derillas. Detective Rodriguez said he had also heard the rumors; then he told me something even more unbe­lievable. He had heard that several fairly well known matadors were putting a fast acting poison on their swords. The bull died of the poison even when the weapon was improp­erly placed. These rare instances are unfortunate, for there are still many toreros and aficionados who are trying to uphold the beauty and honor of the corrida.

After the bull fights, Detective Rodriguez and I stopped in the Del Prado Hotel, where a branch of Sanborn's Restaurant is located.

Over Mexico's best hamburger and coffee, I asked him a few ques­tions. Since Mexico is usually named as the main dope source for the United States, I was interested in the narcotic problems in Mexico. The detective's answer surprised me. "Mexico has almost no dope prob­lem," he said. In answer to my puz­zled expression, he continued. "In my country, narcotics, in most cases, are either condoned or ignored." For illustration, he picked up an evening newspaper someone had left on the table. He turned to the classified ads. I read the item he indicated; "For sale, Hypnotic Mushrooms, reasonable." Marijuana, heroin, their derivatives and synthetics, can be obtained at the drug stores, or a cabby can direct you to a source. "However," he added, "the police might go easy on a Mexican caught with (or looking for) dope, but they come down hard on an American caught under similar circumstances."

Rodriguez's answer brought another question to mind.

"What happens," I asked, "if a gringo gets thrown in jail, and how the hell does he get out once he's in?" The detective smiled. "I'm happy to say, very few tourists will en­counter this problem. If you mind your, own business and stay out of trouble, there is little chance of the police having the slightest interest in you. The fastest way to get your­self in hot-water, is to be drunk and disorderly in a public place, or be involved in a fight. In such a situation, the best move would be to get-the-hell-out-of-there before the cops arrive. If you're caught, let them know that you wish to pay your fine (shhhh-bribe)—immedi­ately. Twenty-five to fifty pesos should do the trick—if you're lucky. If you look like a rich gringo, they fleece you. On rare occasions some traffic cop might try to get you on a trumped-up charge. In such a case, give him a pack of American cigarettes and tell him you're sorry. If he is insistent, ten pesos should make him happy.

After we finished eating, I broach­ed the subject of sex for sale. Rod­riguez told me to pick him up at the office about eleven that night and he would show me around.

That evening we made a tour of the night clubs and I found to my sorrow, that there is no such thing as a strip show in the capital. Drinks were reasonable. In the small bars, mixed drinks averaged four pesos for everything except Scotch, which tipped the scales at twenty pesos. In the fancier clubs, drinks started at fifteen pesos (typ­ical stateside prices).

The thing I noticed most of all, on this night club tour, was the abun­dance of call girls. All around me were elderly men with beautiful girls. Detective Rodriguez had taken the liberty of rounding up a couple for us. The one he had for himself was a dark, fiery little wench. The broad that graced my arm would have put a Las Vegas show girl to shame. She was five-foot-ten, with plus upholstery and very long platinum hair.

I took her to the hotel about four in the morning and asked if she would be interested in posing for a picture story that would appear in a large American magazine. The girl was shocked. She said it was im­moral to be photographed in the nude. With that she jumped into bed. How's that for double stand­ards? She left at eight in the morn­ing after I payed her the very reas­onable fee of one hundred pesos ($8).

After breakfast, I called the de­tective and asked where I could find a model to pose in the nude. He confirmed what the girl had told me the night before. They may sleep with you, but they feel it is evil to have a picture taken while naked. He told me the best bet would be to pay some American gal at Mex­ico City College to pose. Unfortu­nately, the school was closed for va­cation.

The following evening the detec­tive took me to the Barba Azul (Blue Beard). All the cab drivers know the location. The Barba Azul has a bar, a dance band and num­erous hostesses. The second floor was identical, only darker and the third floor was darker yet.

At the third floor, the two of us separated and I surveyed the local talent. Most of the girls were young, from about sixteen to about twenty-five. There was no charge to dance with them save the price of drinks— which was reasonable. After tasting most of the 'fruit, I decided on a lovely littlj dark haired thing.

We left the Barba Azul together and took a room at the Hotel Marin. This is a little known but clean, re­spectable place that offers a double, with private bath, for twelve pesos (96c). The girl was quite talented and by morning she was rested and I was exhausted.

Lupe spoke fluent English, which surprised me. What surprised me even more, was that she was willing, if not eager, to talk about herself.

She was twenty-three and had been born in Piedras Negras. Her mother was Mexican and her father was a deserter from the American Army. They had been living in Eagle Pass, but when her old man was caught, the mother and daugh­ter moved back across the border to Piedras Niegras.

Up until a month ago, she had been working the streets in Monter­ey Mexico. A girl friend wrote her and suggested she come to the Cap­ital. I asked her how she liked the business she was in. Her answer was positive. She said that working in Monterey wasn't bad, but she ac­tually enjoyed the Barba Azul. At the Barba Azul, she said, she was free to choose the men she liked.

I asked her if she would like me to take some pictures of her for a big American magazine. At first she seemed excited over the idea. How­ever, after I had taken a couple of pictures, she thought I was just wasting time and pulled me back into bed.

Later in the morning, I asked her what I owed. "Fifty pesos," she said. I tried to give her more, but she insisted that was the standard price. I finally got her to take an addition­al one hundred pesos for the pic­tures. When I asked if I could see her home, she said, no. She did agree to meet me later in the day at Chapultapec Park.

That afternoon we viewed the animals, went boating, took a tour through Maximillian and Carlotas Castle, and rode the miniature train around the lush park.

Chapultapec Park, by the' way, is a great place to pick-up women. You can find them on the grass, un­der the trees, on the benches, every­where. 

Other great places to find women, are the little semi-outdoor restau­rants that line the Alameda (the main drag of Mexico City). Situated right on the Alameda, is the Palace of Fine Arts (Bellas Artes). There you can hear con­certs, see plays in English and Spanish and watch the famous Folk Ballet.

As a passing thought, if you are looking for someone to pick up your tabs, the Del Prado is the place for you. The lobby is usually loaded with rich, middle-aged, man hungry females. If your approach is right and you speak a little Spanish (they can never speak a word of the language), there is no limit to the delights that await you.

I previously mentioned the gor­geous call-girls that fill the town. How does a new-comer to Mexico City make contact? Very simple. Hail a cab and give him these direc­tions: lleveme a la casa de las ban-didas, cerca de la Diana. This means, "take me to the house of the women bandits, near the statue of Diana." He will know just where you want to go.

When you come to Mexico DF, try to take as much time as you can —a couple of weeks if possible. Your first move is to find a nice friendly bar and get to know the people who have been around for awhile. Since things change so fast, the cats on-the-in can steer you to the current hot-spots.

If you are looking for convention­al entertainment, all the big hotels give out a free daily booklet called the Gazer. Listed in the booklet are the names, addresses and rates of the city's more interesting night­clubs, bars, restaurants and hotels.

There are a great number of fine movie houses in Mexico City that show both Spanish and English films. By law, the highest admission that can be charged is five pesos (forty cents). That includes big-deals like Ben Hur. If you've seen most of the pictures, take a walk around the corner to the right of the Bellas Artes. You will find a large theater that features a mild girly-show and some (not too fun­ny) vaudeville comedians.

Unlike the rest of Mexico, the dress in the Capital is somewhat formal. Loud California sport shirts just don't go over very well. Dress as you would if you lived in New York. Bring something light for daytime wear and a sweater for the evening. When the sun drops, so does the temperature. Don't forget a light rain coat. It may drizzle any­time of the day or night and in any season.

One more thing to remember; no matter how long you stay, there will still be more to see. Plan to return again. The climate is mild and the women and drink are both tasty and inexpensive.

"South of Merida" by Robert Knox

Paul bonner awakened suddenly. He held himself perfectly still. Something told him he was not alone in the dingy little hotel room. For a few seconds, he held his breath, listening—but the only sounds that came to him were the muted morning noises of the Galveston waterfront outside.

• Bonner rolled over and looked up— right into the gleaming, chromed muzzle of a .380 caliber Beretta.

• He blinked once, then narrowed storm-black eyes at the slender, hand curled around the Beretta's pearl grips. His dark, angular face tightened in a scowl. There was something especially aggravating about being "had"—this way—by a woman

• He let his gaze slide upward beyond the gun. It fixed on a tight red sheath that threatened to split in places from the pressure of perfect, swelling breasts and flaring hips. After an appreciative pause, he looked up at the face that went with the well-filled dress. It belonged —a full red mouth, black-silk hair, skin like milk, and eyes like cool green gems.

The green gems looked down at him, and the red mouth turned in a half-smile. "Like what you see, Mr. Bonner?" The voice was a velvet whispering.

Bonner's scowl softened. "I'd like it a hell of a lot better if that pop­gun wasn't blocking my view."

"Please forgive me—" she glanced at the Beretta in her hand "—simply a matter of precaution. I'm sure you can understand, Mr. Bonner."

Bonner shrugged, then sat up on the edge of the bed. "You don't mind, do you?" he said. "I hate the thought of dying in bed—at least, this way."

"By all means, Mr. Bonner. Make yourself comfortable." The half-smile still curved her red mouth, and the green gems seemed to sparkle. "I hardly plan on killing you, though. We need you, Mr. Bonner—you and your airplane. We need a small am­phibian and a pilot who knows Mex­ico and the Gulf. And one who is not indisposed to the idea of a few risks ... for the right kind of money."

She glanced again at the gun, then at Bonner, then slipped the gun into the medium-sized purse she carried. "As I said, it was merely a precau­tion."

"Which you no longer feel you need—" Bonner grinned "—because you feel perfectly safe with me."

"Perfectly." She sat on the bed beside him, opened her purse, and took out a cigarette. She lit it with a small jewel-encrusted, gold light­er. "Do you want the job, Mr. Bon­ner?"

He took the cigarette from her lips and put it between his own. "What makes you think I'm your boy?" he srwd. exhaling a slow cloud of blue.

"They tell us along the waterfront that the bank wants its money—or your airplane."

"You're not only beautiful, you're smart." Bonner inhaled again on the cigarette and handed it back. "Okay, so I need money. Charter flying isn't exactly a great way to get rich quick. Still, there's a few things I don't do no matter how right the price."

She laughed lightly. "No great in­trigues, Mr. Bonner. We simply want you to fly us down to Yucatan to pick up a package."

Bonner turned and leaned back against the headboard, studying her. "That's quite a little errand—seven hundred miles or so, each way. And over open water . . . What's so spe­cial about this package that you can't trust the mails?"

She caught his sarcasm and re­turned it. "You know how careless mail clerks can be. We prefer our own private messenger service."

"So like I said—why?"

"Uh-uh. We pay you to fly, not to ask questions."

Bonner shrugged and took the cig­arette from her again. "You keep saying we ... ?"

"I have a partner."


"A business partner, Mr. Bonner." Bonner inhaled on the cigarette. "And how come your—uh, business partner isn't with you?"

Her green-gem eyes sparkled again. "Shall we say ... he had oth­er details to attend to?"

"Okay, lets ..."

"And besides, Mr. Bonner, we heard that you are the kind of man that never refuses a lady."

"That always depends on what the lady wants." He felt himself stirring inside. This gal was something! She had the face, poise, and innocence of Snow White, but the curves of her ripe body signaled delightful de­pravities, and the look in her eyes would have set the Seven Dwarfs at each other's throats in seconds. She was at once familiar and mysterious —but the kind of mystery Bonner would be happy to spend half a life­time solving.

He stood up and crushed out the cigarette in a tray on the nightstand. He turned and caught the gem-like eyes studying him, scanning his rug­ged, dark face, easing down his slab-muscled body—fixing on the skimpy shorts he wore. A sharp electric tin­gle ran through him, and he went warm and loose inside. The way she used those eyes! When she looked at him, just looked—it felt like soft fin­gers moving all over him. He beat down the thought and the feeling, frowned, and said: "Look, Miss ..."

"Jessica," she said. "Just call me Jessica."

"Look . . . Jessica. I got a pretty good idea what's in that package you want picked up, and I think you better go find yourself a different airplane-driver."

Jessica dipped into her purse and came up with something green. Even from three feet away, Bonner could see it was a neatly banded pack of crisp, new one-hundred dollar bills —fifty of them.

"This, of course, would just be the down-payment, Mr. Bonner. There would be an additional five-thousand dollars for you upon our return." She placed the pack on the night-stand.

Bonner stared at the money. Ten-thousand bucks! Jesus, could he use it! No more damned bill collectors hounding him into crummy little ho­tel rooms like this one; no more bank breathing down his neck! He could pay off what he owed on his ship, trade it, buy a brand new one, and still have a little nest-egg left over. With ten grand in his fist, he could make charter flying pay!

"Well, Mr. Bonner ... ?"

Bonner took a deep breath. He'd done a lot of things in his thirty-eight years; some good, some not so good. He'd "bent" the law a few times, but he'd never stepped right outside of it. Not like this, not right into the face of a Federal rap ...

"You hesitate, Mr. Bonner." A strange little knowing smile curved Jessica's red mouth. "Is it because you are a man of principle? Or per­haps you have a healthy respect for the law. Admirable in either case, but a bit foolish, don't you think? A man can afford to be principled, he can afford respect for the law when the world has been kind to him." She gazed pointedly around the drab little room. "Has the world been that good to you?"

Bonner winced inwardly. She had him pegged; she knew the score. There'd been a time when the world had been good to him, a time when people had cheered and called him "hero." But that had been two wars and a DFC ago. It'd been all down­hill since then. Medals and war rec­ords didn't mean a damned thing when it came to finding a place in the world for yourself, and the same people who had cheered once, cursed you and beat you down if you got in their way, now. Maybe she was right...

"Well, Mr. Bonner . . . ?"

"I.. .1 don't know ..."

She stood up, her green-gem eyes suddenly soft and warm, and came to him. "Perhaps you simply need a little added incentive ..."

Her mouth was warm and moist on his, and her lips moved slowly, wetly. Her tongue was a tiny living thing, exploring his mouth. He felt her cool arms sliding around his neck, and the warm mounds of her breasts flattening against his chest. Her hips moved slowly against him, and wildfire coursed through him, pounding in his veins and surging in his loins. She moaned softly in re­sponse, arching tightly against him, then she drew back and her hands went up behind her. Bonner heard the soft grating sound of a zipper, and watched the red sheath slide down the curves of her body till it lay in a puddled heap at her feet.

Except for sheer nylons and a lacy little garter-belt, she had been wear­ing only the dress. She caught the band of his shorts — 

and tugged, writhing against him, crushing her mouth once more against his. His hands went around her, tracing the curve of her back, dipping into the taper of her waist, and flaring out with the curves of her bottom. He moved, stiffly at first, then with the supple strength of the need burning within him, and car­ried her to the bed. Her red lips parted and there was green fire in her eyes, as he laid her across the tousled bedclothes. He lowered him­self beside her, and for a small eter­nity, lay hypnotized by the sight of her milk-white flesh, her pink-nip-pled full breasts, and the secret shadow of her womanhood...

There'd been women in his life— small brown women in Korea, fiery women all across Europe, fair and laughing women in a dozen different states. There had never been a wom­an like this! He pressed down against her, but her lithe hands came up, flattening against the hot skin of his chest; a simple gesture, but one that held him back like a steel brace.

"Paul... ?" She purred his name. "Do we have a deal?"

"This is a hell of a time to talk business!" His voice hurt deep in his throat.

"A deal, Paul?"

"Yes, dammit! Yes!"

She smiled then, drawing him down to her, and her mouth was on his once more, warm and moist and working. He felt her thighs encir­cling, felt the warm woman-softness of her enveloping, felt the urgent thrust of her hips, and he closed his eyes and gave himself to the soft, dark, heated maelstrom ...

Bonner had the plane fueled and ready by mid-morning. He had topped-off the wing-tip auxiliary tanks; he knew there'd be no gas stops on this trip. The ship was an old twin-engine Grumman Widgeon. It had seen plenty of service around the Gulf even before he had bought her, but he'd practically rebuilt her, putting in a few choice modifica­tions. She'd take eight people or a good-sized cargo on a 1500-mile haul and do it at a good 150 mph cruising speed.

It was just after ten o'clock when he saw Jessica heading down the pier towards him, followed by what he guessed was her "business part­ner." Jessica was wearing tight white toreadors that fit like a second skin, and a flame-colored blouse knotted beneath her thrusting breasts. It wasn't until his two passengers were aboard, and he had slipped the plane's moorings, that Bonner really noticed her "business partner." As Bonner came through the aft door­way, Jessica introduced "Mr. King."

King's voice was deep and reso­nant, his handshake firm, when he greeted Bonner. He was a big man, tall and stout, with distinguished gray hair and a trim little gray mous­tache. His slightly florid face wore a calm smile, and his clear blue eyes looked out at Bonner through heavy horn-rimmed glasses. He looked ev­ery inch the "business partner," Bon­ner mused, a typical chairman-of-the-board type. But there was no law saying a hood had to look like a hood, and the slight bulge under Mr. King's natty suitcoat was no adding machine.

"You may take off at once, Mr. Bonner," said King, slipping into the copilot seat. "I'll give you our course and destination as soon as we're aloft."

Bonner nodded and started through his pre-flight check. Within minutes, the Widgeon had cleared Galveston Bay and was groaning upward into the crystal-blue morning. At 8500 feet, Bonner leveled off and looked at King. The big man took an aerial chart from his inside coat pocket. "Here's where we're headed—" he stabbed a finger at the map "—just a bit south of Merida."

Bonner frowned. "There's nothing there but jungle! This is no damned 'chopper' we're flying!"

King smiled tolerantly. "There's a clearing there, near an old Mayan temple. Small, but adequate ..."

"Yeah? Well, just how adequate is 'adequate'?"

King looked at him squarely, the calm smile gone. "Mr. Bonner, I al­ways plan things carefully. Don't ask questions, please." He looked away, gazing idly out of the window on his side.

Bonner shrugged. Don't ask questions, the man says—so, okay. But there was one question that really bugged him: why had King and Jes­sica wanted an amphibian? They were going to land in the jungle— they could just as easily hired a ship that was strictly land-based. So, why an amphib?
Bonner drove the question from his thoughts and gave himself to the job of navigating. Flying a straight line over openwater was no snap even with clear weather, even with good radio and "omni" equipment. Weather could sour in a hurry and gadgets had a way of going haywire at the wrong time. "Dead-reckon­ing" was the only kind of navigation Bonner really trusted. He was only vaguely aware, then, of King's move­ments when the big man slipped out of his seat and went aft. But he was sharply aware of Jessica's laugh a few minutes later. He glanced back through the open hatchway, and his blood turned acid.

Jessica was clinging to the big man, her face buried in his neck. King's hand moved in slow circles over her hip and smooth round bot­tom. Then, slowly, the hand glided upwards towards her breast until it was nearly cupping it. Jessica drew away, her green-gem eyes glitter­ing, taunting; she laughed again. King grinned and pulled her back. She went to him almost eagerly, but again at the critical moment, she pulled away. King said something Bonner couldn't hear, laughed, and mashed his mouth on hers, thrusting his hand between her thighs. Jes­sica leaned back and let her thighs relax, let King's hand squirm against the skin-tight fabric of her torea­dors. As the hand moved up towards the snap of her waistband, she pushed it away, and sat up, a lewd grin on her face.

For an instant, an animal fury seized Bonner, then just as quickly he relaxed. Damn it.' What was he getting pee-ohed about? She was nothing but a high-class tramp! Don't go getting yourself hung up on something like that, he told himself. Hell, she was just playing the same game with King that she had played that morning in the hotel room— with minor variations. It was wom­an's oldest game, and Bonner had to admit Jessica was a master of it. She had King worked up to a fine pitch, and it was obvious she meant to keep him there . . .

Why? The question popped in Bonner's brain. Why was she play­ing games with her "business part­ner"? What was she after? A vague uneasiness began gnawing inside. Bonner; maybe he had gotten him­self into a hell of a lot more than he had bargained for ...

He glanced up and caught his own reflection in the windshield; the im­age-face scowled back at him. Christ! He'd lost his butt trying to make a go of this damn charter flying; then he'd stuck his neck out on a Fed­eral rap; and now sweet little Jes­sica was planning new fun and games.

"Bonner," he said to himself. "How'd you ever get so lucky?"

king spotted the signal first, a bright mirror flashing in the dark jungle green. Bonner wheeled the ship around and started letting down.

At 1,000 feet, the clearing stood out plainly, a lighter green than the surrounding jungle, marked at one end with the vine-tangled, crum­bling gray blocks of the ancient tem­ple. He lined up for his approach.

It was no La Guardia field, but full flaps brought the Widgeon down like an elevator. Bonner flared out a little high, stalled in, and toed the brakes. The ship stopped some fifty yards from the temple ruins. It would be a tight squeeze getting out, he knew, but the ship was lighter by half its fuel load. She'd make it.

King started aft towards the door. "You needn't cut the engines, Mr. Bonner. We won't be long." It was more than a statement; it was an order.

Bonner slumped in his seat, watch­ing as King and Jessica left the ship and headed towards the ruins. From behind the tumbled stones, a man appeared to greet them, a man and a donkey that looked like something out of a Disney cartoon. The burrito was ridiculously small, the man in­credibly fat, sleek and dark. His white linen suit and fiop-brimmed Panama told Bonner that he was no jungle Indian. He had probably come from Merida where some mer­chant seaman had given him the parcel that he carried and was de­livering here. Bonner smiled; a neat set-up. The long way 'round U.S. Customs was the short way home for these birds.

Still astride the pitiful burrito, the fat man handed King the parcel. King gave him a long envelope. Each man tore into the packet he had received. The fat man fanned through a sheaf of green, smiling. King sniffed at the contents of his package, then he, too, smiled. With a brief nodding of heads and wav­ing of hands, the trio split up. King and Jessica heading back towards the ship, the fat man and his sad­looking little burrito plodding off towards the jungle. As King and Jessica clambered aboard, Bonner wondered if the stuff they had was "H" or maybe Cocaine-^-not that it mattered. Whatever it was, it was worth a good half-million, from the size of the packet.

King slipped into the copilot seat. "Let's go, Mr. Bonner. Quickly."

"What's the rush? No cops around here."

King was suddenly grim. "Mr. Bonner, I think you're much too perceptive for your own good... ! Let's go."

Bonner shrugged, and eased the throttles open.It was touch-and-go with the trees at the far end of their take-off run, but the Widgeon climbed out okay. At cruising altitude, Bonner nosed the ship toward home, then turned and glanced at his passengers. King sat quiety, gazing out of the window. In the small jump-seat behind him, Jessica sat with her eyes closed. They seemed lost in their own little worlds. It would be a quiet trip home. Much too quiet.

They were less than an hour from Galveston when King's voice broke the silence: "What's our exact posi­tion, Mr. Bonner?"

Bonner checked the map, gave himthe co-ordinates, and added: "We'll be seeing the lights of Galveston in about forty minutes."

"Land the airplane," King said quietly. "Now."

Bonner looked up from the map— and right into the muzzle of the big man's Colt Commander. The Super .38 caliber hole looked as big as a tunnel mouth.

"I just knew it wasn't an adding machine," Bonner sighed. "You know, this is becoming a habit with me. Have either of you two ever tried asking favors without the ar­tillery?"

"Land the airplane!"

"Way the hell out here? Why?"

"You do insist upon asking ques­tions, don't you?" The big man grunted. "No harm now, I suppose. We're meeting a boat, Mr. Bonner. Land now, if you please."

A boat—? Bonner grimaced. Sure, a boat; the last step in their long way 'round ... Well, at least now he knew why they had hired an amphib. Suddenly he knew what was in store for him after they ren­dezvoused with the boat—a pay-off in lead!

Bonner glared at King. "Suppose I told you to go to hell?"

"Then I'd have to kill you—now."

"What, and get stuck up here?"

King chuckled. "Mr. Bonner, you have parachutes and a life raft in your equipment locker. We can use them if we must."

"So you're going to kill me any­way—" sharp anger surged in Bon­ner "—I might just go along with that! You might miss your boat, or maybe the 'chutes wouldn't open!"

"Not a very good bluff, Mr. Bon­ner." The big man laughed. "You're too much of a realist for such cheap heroics. You're the type who'll cling to life as long as he can. You know, 'where there's life, there's hope,' and all that?"

Bonner took a deep breath. He felt as if he had just swallowed a cold, steel ball-bearing. He hit the flare release twice, and put the Widgeon into a slow descending spiral around the two settling para­chute flares.

Within minutes, the ship bobbed at rest on the water, tugging at its sea-anchor. With the muzzle of the Colt, King prodded Bonner out of his seat and into the after com­partment.

"Tie him up, my dear," King said to Jessica. "I think you'll find some rope in the equipment locker." Jessica found the rope and began looping it around Bonner's hands, drawing them tightly behind his back.

"Why bother?" Bonner scowled at King. "Why not just shoot?"

"I will," said King, "when I'm certain we no longer need you. There's always a chance—a very re­mote chance—that something might happen to the boat. Or that it might miss our rendezvous point."

"You do plan carefully, don't you?"

"Very," said King, then shoved Bonner to the aisle floor. "Tie his feet, my dear."

Jessica obeyed. King relaxed and slipped the Colt back into his shoul­der holster, then gazed around the ship almost wistfully. "It's really too bad. When we started out, I'd half-hoped that we might keep you and your plane as—shall we say, per­manent parts of our operation. Now, of course, when the boat arrives— well, I'll have to destroy both. As a business man, I consider it a terrible waste."

"Terrible." Bonner smirked. "If I were you, I just wouldn't do it!"

King smiled down at him, as Jessica finished with the ropes and stood up. "I have no choice, Mr. Bonner," said the big man. "You have two serious character flaws— you are much too curious, and un­fortunately you are basically honest. And besides—" King caught Jessi­ca's wrist and drew her to him "—I suspect we would eventually end up in serious competition, if you know what I mean?"

"I do," said Bonner, his eyes fixed on Jessica. "I do indeed."

Jessica came to the big man, eagerly, her mouth pressing on his, her body writhing slowly against him. King stiffened in response. His arms went around her, hands sliding down, cupping her smooth buttocks, and clamped her body tightly against his. After a moment, she stepped back and undid the knot of her blouse. A shrug of her slender white shoulders sent it to the floor in a flame-colored heap. She cupped her firm, pink-nippled breasts, as if of­fering them to King, and smiled. "Take me," she murmured. "You've waited a long time, now take me . . ."

King lost all control; he was no longer the cool businessman, the shrewd, cunning hood; he was all animal, blind to everything but the half-naked woman before him. As the big man made a frenzied lunge at Jessica's waistband, Bonner un­derstood why she had played the woman's game with her "business partner," why she had led him on, taunting him, teasing him.

Bonner was not quite certain how it got there, but the shiny little Beretta .380 was suddenly in Jessi­ca's hand, the muzzle against King's temple. The big man had only a second to look surprised, then the little automatic cracked once. King's head snapped to one side, and a small part of his face spattered red against the side of the plane. His body did a slow, grotesque pirouette, toppling in a heap across an empty seat. Jessica stood over him for a few seconds, then stooped and dipped her hand inside his coat. She came up with the packet of stuff, then turned to Bonner.

"Why... ?" he asked, as she un-

tied him. "Why did you kill him?"

"A simple matter of mathematics, Mr. Bonner." She stepped back, the Beretta trained on him. "A net profit is greater divided only by one. Now, if you will kindly weight him down with something and dump him out of the door... ?"

"And then . . . ?"

"Don't make any plans, Mr. Bon­ner. When the boat arrives, I will have a tragic tale to tell—about how I shot you too late to save poor Mr. King. Now, move!"

Bonner took a small anchor from the locker, and started tying it to the dead man's hands. As he work­ed, he glanced over his shoulder. Jessica was perched on the arm of a seat, relaxed, but still alert. It would be close, Bonner thought, but hell!—did he have a choice? He looped a strand' of rope around King's chest, and slipped his hand under the dead man's coat.

The butt of the Colt was cold to his touch.

In a single fluid movement, he cocked the burr hammer, drew, and fired. The slug took her high, knock­ing her into a half-turn back over the arm of the seat. The Beretta clattered to the floor, and Bonner caught it before it stopped sliding.

Jessica was still dazed when he reached her, but as he helped her into a sitting position, she winced and looked down at the crimson welling from her shoulder, rolling down the slope of her naked breast. Panic blazed in her eyes. "Pawl...? Help me, Paul! Oh, God! Please help me, Paul... !"

For a moment, Bonner gazed down at her, a feeling of utter dis­gust churning inside him — disgust with himself, as well as with her. He felt soiled and wondered if he'd ever feel clean again. All this just to save a lousy airplane, and why? Why had it needed saving in the first place? Why had he gotten into this whole mess? The answer was simple, and terrible in its simplici­ty—he'd felt sorry for himself; he'd felt so goddam sorry for the big war hero the world owed a living to. Well, it was different now; it had taken a murder and damned near his own death to make him remem­ber he was a man, and man stood on his own two feet. He'd lose the goddam plane if he had to, and start over, flying for someone else. And be damned glad of it!

"Help me, Paul... ?" Jessica's whine brought him back.

He got the first-aid kit from the locker and dropped it on the seat beside her, as he went forward to the flight compartment.

"Help me!" Jessica screamed.

"You'll have to help yourself, sweety. I got to get this crate out of here before your boatload of playmates show up."

"But I'm dying, Paul! I'm dying!" Tears streamed down her frightened face.

"You'll live," he said coldly. "Long enough to do some explaining to the Feds in Galveston. Maybe even longer. Our country's kind of squeamish about executing women —" he took a deep breath "—even when they so richly deserve it." He went forward and started the engines. 

"Stars and Bars" by Cheri Parent - a very short story.  What with the Confederate flag all in the news these day, maybe a little timely...

Corporal Jay Morris leaned against the picket fence and gazed down on the girl in the gar­den. "I'm sorry to bother you, Miss, but your flag will have to come down. General Butler's orders."

The girl looked up from the weeds she was pulling and studied him with eyes as cooly green as a mint julep. "Are you Yankees fighting women now, soldier?"

"Sorry," he repeated.

She stood up, tossing her head to throw her sunlit blonde hair behind her shoulders. She was unexpected­ly tall, almost as tall as he, with a beautifully proportioned body under her crisp gingham dress. "If 'Mad Dog' Butler wants my flag," she said, "he may come and get it, him­self." She glared at Jay for a long moment, then turned suddenly and walked to the porch. "All right. Likely he'd burn down the house if I didn't obey his demands."

"I wish you would understand ..."

"You've done your duty, soldier. Why don't you go get your medal?" Folding the flag swiftly, she went into the house.

Jay learned from neighbors that her name was Suzanne and that she lived alone since her father and brothers were fighting the North and her mother had fled to New Orleans. The flag was flying again from her porch when he passed on his patrol the following day. When Suzanne answered the doorbell, he thrust it into her arms.

"Maybe you didn't understand, Suzanne. This flag is to be kept down permanently."

"Why don't you come in and loot the house while you're here, Yank?" she said scornfully. "You may as well make the General real proud of you."

"Look, Suzanne. Let the men fight the war. If I see that flag of yours again I am personally going to tear it down and burn it." He stepped back quickly as she slammed the door, rattling the colored glass panes.

When he passed the next day, Suzanne was sitting on the porch, sewing. The flag was gone. Jay leaned against the fence. "You look mighty domestic today, Suzanne."

She ignored him, moving her hand in and out with the needle.

"I'm glad to see you've taken my advice."

When she still ignored him, he tipped his cap to her and strode away whistling.

The flag staff was still bare when Jay walked up the path two days later with a pound of hard-to-find sugar.

She answered his knock wearing a smile—and the flag sewn onto the entire front of her dress. "Well, if it isn't my favorite Yankee. And with sugar for me. Aren't you just the sweetest boy."

"Suzanne," he said slowly. "You can't wear that."

"Don't you think it's attractive?" She whirled before him.

"I told you what I would do with that thing if I saw it again." He set the sugar on a hall table and started toward her. She backed away.

"Now Corporal..."

She snatched up a vase and hurl­ed it. He ducked, heard it shatter behind him, and kept moving to­ward her. When she reached the end of the hall, he grabbed for her but missed when she screamed and ducked under his arms. He followed her up the stairs as she ran into her bedroom and tried to lock the door. He forced it open and stepped in­side.

"Get away from me," she whis­pered.

Grasping the neckline of her dress, he pulled sharply, ripping the flag section free.

Her body was as lushly perfect as he had imagined. He pulled her hard into his arms and kissed her throat. Screaming, she clawed and bit at him, then suddenly relaxed as he forced her backward onto the bed and pulled at his uniform. Her lips were soft and parked when he kissed her. Her body still writhed, but with him now instead of against him. A dozen cannons seeined to explode inside him. guzanne gasped, then clung to him. After a long moment he kissed her lips and gazed into her clearing eyes, trying to frame an apology.

"I declare," she whispered. "If you Northern boys"'just aren't the slowest things. You surely taxed my poor head to find a way to get you into my bedroom to love me."

"How Girls Get Ahead In Hollywood" by Frank Thistle

Spoiler alert: It's not on their acting skills.

The story is told in Hollywood circles about the sweet young thing who attended a gala party at the luxurious home of a fa­mous Hollywood producer shortly after her arrival in Hollywood from a small town in Arkansas. Anxious to make a good impression on her debonair host, in the hope of land­ing a film role, she immediately struck up a conversation with him at the first opportunity.

After introducing herself, she flashed her sweetest smile and asked the producer innocently: "Would you please tell me the best way for a girl to get ahead in Hollywood?"

"Certainly, my dear, I'd be de­lighted to," gushed the lecherous movie mogul, putting his arm around the would-be starlet solicitously. "In fact. I'll even show you how."

Whereupon he gave a soft, low whistle and in trotted a Great Dane (and we don't mean Greta Thyssen). The producer patted the dog affec­tionately with his free hand and commanded, "Make like an actress." The Great Dane obediently dropped to the floor, rolled over on its back, wiggled a bit, and spread its legs wide.

The producer then looked at the lovely lass, who had turned purple with embarrassment, and said with a leer: "That, my dear, is the best way I know for a girl to get ahead in Hollywood."

The foregoing story may or may not be true. But it does bear out the popular notion that the easiest way for a girl to rise to stardom in Hol­lywood is via the casting couch. While this belief is not without some foundation in fact, it has, of course, been grossly exaggerated.

Actually, few girls springboard from casting couches into the movies. Most of those who do try this route to film fame and manage to land a bit part, soon find their film careers at a dead-end.

After researching the subject of how girls really get ahead in Holly­wood, it becomes apparent that only a few get a firm toe-hold in the mo­vies solely on the basis of their over­powering beauty or great dramatic talent. The majority of girls get into the movies through publicity stunts or by devising some unique way to make themselves stand out from the myriads of other girls trying to crash the movies.

A very recent case in point con­cerns an attractive 23-year-old mod­el named Jacqueline Putnam of Au­rora, Colorado, (now known as Jacki Benson) who stowed away on a B-17 movie publicity bomber to get to Hollywood. A crew member dis­covered her in the tail when the plane was 10,000 feet above Reno, Nevada. She handcuffed herself to a seat and declared she'd talk only to a famous Hollywood producer.

As it turned out, the daring deed of the green-eyed platinum blonde won her an interview with Columbia producer William Castle. As a re­sult of the interview, Castle gave her a role in the upcoming movie, "The Candy Web."

"I don't think she would ever have gotten into my office if she hadn't pulled that stunt," Castle said. "We get 3,000 letters a month from girls wanting to break into moving pic­tures. She has stars in her eyes, just like thousands of other girls all over the world, and just by her act in getting here, she multiplied the ex­citement. I talked to her and found she could handle herself. So I gave her a part."

After her interview with Castle, Jacki was ecstatic.

"It was just like a fairy tale . . . really fabulous," she said. "But please think that I've got some brains. Underneath, a person just wants a chance like this. Millions of girls write letters or use the telephone. I wanted to do something so different I would get a chance to get ahead in Hollywood."

Jacki is the first girl to crash Hol­lywood by stowing away on a plane, but she is by no means the first girl to perpetrate a novel stunt to make Hollywood moviemen sit up and take notice.

For example, take the case of ac­tress Elaine Stewart. She woke up one morning and decided the time had come when she positively had to do something to advance her Holly­wood film career. Elaine had been under contract to MGM for two years at an annual salary of $22,500, but during this time she hadn't played even a bit role in a movie. Some girls might have been happy to make such a fat salary for doing absolute­ly nothing—but not Elaine Stewart. She wanted to become a top actress as soon as possible.

In an effort to get her film career rolling, Elaine hired a high-powered press agent, just as many other Hol­lywood hopefuls have done when they wanted action. And action she got.

About a week later, Hollywood was startled by a most unusual stunt. On the back cover of a prominent trade magazine appeared an eye­catching photograph of lovely Elaine clad only in scanties, with her arms outstretched. On the back cover of another trade magazine was an ad­vertisement featuring a dress to be cut out. This, the ads proclaimed, was the Hollywood paper doll game And Elaine Stewart, of course, was the doll.

"The results of this stunt were positively fabulous," says Elaine. "I didn't realize so many people in Hollywood got up so early in the morning. My phone started ringing before 9 o'clock and it was 2 o'clock before it stopped and I was able to have my first cup of coffee.

"I had an offer to do two weeks of summer stock in the east at $1,500 a week. Hecht-Lancaster wanted me for a movie with the possibility of a non-exclusive contract if I could get out of MGM. There were several other offers and feelers too. Public­ity—it's wonderful! I'm sold on it 100 percent."

Not long ago, a girl named Diane Hartman hired publicist Russell Birdwell who promoted her in a stunt somewhat similar to the one that revived Elaine Stewart's career. The campaign was launched in a Hollywood trade magazine with a provocative two-page advertisement spotlighting the obvious charms of — 

Diane. The ad pictured her wearing only a man's white shirt. The shirt was soaking wet and it clung to Di­ane's body more tightly than a bikini, emphasizing every curvy contour of her bountiful body. It was a very fetching picture, even by Hollywood standards.

Accompanying the photograph was a blatant, bombastic blurb which read: "Hollywood needs a new wom­an! That new woman is here! An untamed animal who possesses the dramatic talent of which legends are made—a 22-year-old nymphet free of fingerprints—desirable but unat­tainable, an unchained barefoot wench, uninvolved personally and professionally."

The text went on to say that new­comer Diane Hartman was on the Hollywood block to the highest bid­der and concluded: "The countdown has begun! Diane Hartman is going into orbit!"

After the Hartman ad appeared in print, Birdwell was flying high be­cause it had met with terrific results. Bellowed Birdwell excitedly: "Di­ane's so busy turning down offers she hasn't had time to take my shirt off! She's been offered a starring role in a $400,000 musical and parts in six television shows."

Tania Velia, a Yugoslav-born ref­ugee who escaped to West Berlin in 1952 and headed straight for Holly­wood and a film career, recently made a bid for headlines when she returned to Hollywood after making a movie in Puerto Rico. She an­nounced that Fidel Castro had given her a 30-caliber carbine with orders "to use it on Hollywood wolves."

According to Tania, Castro told her it was one of his personal weapons in the revolution.

"He said he wouldn't need it any more—but I might," explained the well-equipped blonde. Naturally, newsmen hurried over to Tania's apartment to learn more about Cas­tro and his present.

"He invited me to come back to Cuba as his guest any time," Tania told reporters. "He's sweet!"

Then Tania, looking for more headlines, casually mentioned that she hadn't declared the gun at cus­toms and that her friends had told her that aliens could not legally pos­sess firearms in the United States.

"Do you think," she inquired, "that anyone would want to take it away from me?"

Tania had her answer the next day after the story of her present from Castro appeared in print. De­tectives called upon her, confiscated her gun and told her, as one scribe put it, "she must carry on the fight with only those weapons which na­ture provided."

The whole incident was duly re­ported in the papers and Tania was more delighted with all the publicity than with her present from Castro.

Foreign actresses hoping to get ahead in Hollywood are just as ca­pable at perpetrating publicity stunts as American starlets. Take English actress Diana Dors, for example. Soon after she arrived in Hollywood, Diana made a big splash—both in her swimming pool and in the papers.

It all started one night at a gay garden party Diana threw in Holly­wood. As Diana stood by the swim­ming pool, she was seen to stagger and lose her balance. Three male guests made a frantic but unsuccess­ful attempt to grab her and fell in themselves.

When Diana finally emerged from the pool, her wet clothes clinging to her like bare skin, she claimed a photographer had pushed her in. Immediately, her husband started punching the allegedly guilty lens-man and Diana joined in.

"Just before I blacked out," said the injured photographer later, Miss Dors was kicking me in the head."

After the battered photographer passed out, Diana posed for pictures which were widely circulated. Al­though Diana vehemently denied it, her big splash in the pool was a well-planned publicity stunt.

Columnist Dorothy Kilgallen ex­posed the incident as such when she wrote: "The Diana Dors swimming pool plunge was a flagrant publicity stunt that clicked luckily. Best tip-off: the 'indignant' husband alleg­edly beat up the photographer but carefully preserved all the pictures of the event. Any news cameraman will tell you that when people arc really mad the first thing they do is grab the camera and destroy the film."

Diana's flagrant publicity stunl came as a shock even to hardened observers of the Hollywood scene. RKO Pictures executives, to whom Diana was under contract, were es­pecially disgusted with the blonde sexpot. They later charged that Di­ana had acquired an international reputation for "insobriety, unchastity, intemporance, immodesty and exhibitionism"— and cancelled her film contract.

These charges got Diana more space in the papers and really fur­thered her career. She starred in the Mike Todd, Jr., Smell-O-Vision pro­duction "Scent of Mystery" not long ago which one critic said "seems to be the novelty sensation of this mo­vie year."

One of the strangest capers ever cut in Hollywood concerned Marie McDonald. Marie, you may recall, made nation-wide headlines several years ago when she was "kidnapped."

According to Marie's later testi­mony, two unidentified men kid­napped her from her Encino, Cali­fornia, home and held her captive for several days. Somehow, she man­aged to call her agent and tell him that she was being held captive. Po­lice conducted an intensive search for the missing Marie, but were un­able to uncover any clues as to her whereabouts.

Then one night, three days after Marie had disappeared, a truck-driver spotted a girl with torn clothes stumbling along a lonely highway in California's Mojave Desert. The girl turned out to be Marie.

Police questioned Marie for weeks in an effort to get a lead on her kid­nappers. Marie repeated her story of the alleged kidnapping time and time again, and each time she told a slightly different version. In addition to the police grillings, reporters and photographers beseiged her for in­terviews and photos. Despite her ap­parent shock, Marie was always able to smile and pose prettily for the cameramen.

Marie McDonald was a front-page item in the nation's newspapers for weeks. Police searched high and low for her abductors, but were unable to uncover a single clue. Finally, they officially closed the case and entered it on the blotter as being unsolved and committed by "persons unknown."

After the case had died down, Marie called a news conference and announced that her then husband, Harry Karl, the millionaire shoe manufacturer, "was the man re­sponsible for my kidnapping." But neither Marie nor the police were able to substantiate the charge.

When Marie disappeared, her ca­reer was at a standstill. After the kidnapping incident, however, she hit the comeback trail in style. She was deluged with offers of nightclub appearances and film roles which she accepted without a moment's hesitation.

Another girl who knows how to get ahead in Hollywood is Vikki Dougan. While most Hollywood cu­bes were trying to catch a produc­er's eye with a frontal attack, she at­tacked from the "rear." Vikki clev­erly inspired' more than one back­ward glance by wearing to parties gowns that plunged, not in front, but in the back. Her backless gowns plunged so low, in fact, that people were almost able to count the dim­ples on Vikkis' delightful derriere.

Vikki's "behind look" was an ex­tremely forward looking one, to say the least. Her ravishing rump be­came the talk of the town and, after the novelty wore off a bit, people noticed that she also had a pretty face. On the strength of her new­found notoriety, producer Joe Fields gave her a role in "Tunnel of Love" and later a top role in "Anniversary Waltz."

Even established Hollywood ac­tresses, who worry that they may lose their fame and popularity any day, do their darnedest to keep in the public eye. For example, one day not long ago, Marie Wilson, the big-eyed bosomy blonde, who built a career on being "darling but dumb" on stage, screen, TV and nightclub floors, proved she isn't so dumb in real life.

Marie startled both pedestrians and motorists at the busy corner of Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea in Hollywood by chasing a chimpanzee up the street wearing only black panties and bra. When the scantily-clad Marie finally pounced upon the chimp at the teeming intersection, spectators froze with mouths agape and two cars collided head-on.

The aging, but well - preserved showgirl, then appearing in Ken Murray's "Blackouts," claimed that somebody had left the stage door open and the monk escaped. Since the chimp played a vital part in her act, Marie said she didn't think twice before giving pursuit. The reason for her scanty attire, she explained, was that she had just finished her strip­tease number in the show.

But Hollywood denizens recog­nized Marie's little escapade for what it was—a well-timed publicity stunt.

Actress June McCall, who has been on the Hollywood scene for many years and knows all the tricks of the trade, offers this advice to girls desirous of getting ahead in Hollywood.

"Hollywood is big-timber coun­try," says June, "a regular habitat for lean-flanked wolves anxious to waylay quarry for their dens. To girls reaching for stardom, they promise the moon. But the promises inevit­ably turn into promiscuities. That's the story of many a Hollywood ca­reer.

"My advice is to forget the casting couch. The best way to get ahead in Hollywood is by getting lots and lots of publicity. I'd get to know ev : ery important columnist and photog­rapher in the industry. I'd keep a constant campaign going full speed ahead until everyone knew me and producers couldn't afford to ignore me. June McCall's advice to aspiring starlets is very, very sound. Girls who keep it in mind shouldn't have much trouble getting ahead in Hol­lywood. Inevitably, though, there will always be some girls who will succumb to the casting couch in their all-out attempt to launch or further their movie careers. And, needless to say, the movie moguls of Hollywood will always welcome them with open arms.

A few more pages you'll have to click on to read...

There's another story called "Tanny", but I'll refrain from transcribing this one, but if you feel compelled to read it, just click on the images below...

A "world famous photographer" gives his expert opinion on cheesecake photography.  Have pencil and paper ready; you'll want to take notes.

British beauty, Angela Jones, epitomizes for these adam pages the success of one man's hobby. That man is London photographer, Russell Gay.

"I never dreamed my hobby would turn into a major operation," says Russell.

Russell Gay began his very special brand of photography 12 years ago. While in Paris, on a routine commercial photography assignment, he attend­ed the Folies Bergeres and was struck by the particular appeal of girls who wore just stockings and gloves. Fascinated, he began experimenting with scantily attired models. At first, it was difficult obtaining models, since this art form hadn't been developed and wasn't really understood. Several girls saw the possibilities however, and his original models have since reached the top in both nude and fashion modeling.

Even Russell's earliest photos got a startling response. Friends begged, borrowed and stole his photos. Soon requests were flooding in from publish­ers all over the world. Reluctant to commercialize his talent, but needing better equipment and larger studios, he began selling his photos. Today he heads a team of international photographers specializing in garter-belt pin­ups. "Requests for my photos come from Paris, Vienna, Copenhagen, Berlin, Rome, everywhere."

For adam, Russell Gay posed one of his most popular models, Angela Jones, to prove his point that the female form is loveliest when clad only in undergarments. Angie is tiny in certain places—stands 5'2", wears a 3^ shoe—but she's abundant in other places (38-22-38). Downright shy, she is nevertheless the perfect model for Russell Gay. When posing, she'll stretch, bend, twist herself into any position Russell requests to get the right effect. She's particularly fussy about creases in her lingerie, which goes well with Russell, who is a perfectionist.

When questioned about her interests outside of modeling she replied in a crisp British accent: "Oh, I adore horseback riding and rare roast beef and Bobby Darrin records and the Twist and American men." As for Russell Gay's camera work, she has nothing but praise. "He's never in a rush. The man's technique is absolutely flawless!"

We know what you mean, Angie.

"Bottles in the Basement" is about homebrewing.  Rather interesting to read a 1963 take on a phenomenon that is so popular these days.

The last page of the article is on page 54 (see the last page of the "Tanny" story).

And we'll end with the horror tale "The Witch of Waccamaw" by Richard Maxwell

The house sits atop the hill in the windy dark of old October, the pale horn of a quartered moon hooked into the shoulder of the cowled chimney. It is an ominous house, a wicked old house, filled with the scut-ter and whir of flying things, with rats and roaches and six-legged noises in the nighttime when the moon is down. The mountain people say there is about it a smell of old and stagnant time, a fume of brimstone burning. They say that on nights of frost and silence, when the bleak wind tastes of smoke, its windows burn a Lucifer red, and voices sing of death in its lonely rooms. They say the house is waiting ...

Boris Kiger stood in the service station and irritably sliced the tip from his fifth cigar of the afternoon. Up on the grease rack sat his big red Imperial, arrogantly dirty, fraught with that lean and racy look of long dis­tances. A doddering, white-haired attendant puttered aimlessly with a wheel bearing. Kiger held the flame of an initialed gold lighter to his cigar. "Can't you snap it up a little, pop? You've been two hours already."

" 'Tain't so easy," the old man muttered. "The way they put these here things together nowadays is a cau­tion."

"Spare me the local color, dad. Just get it done." Kiger was a hard restless domineering man of fifty, richer than he had ever hoped to be, and always wanting more —more money, more liquor and women, more of every­thing. He was big. In his New York apartment he had three complete wardrobes for 210, 240, and 270 pounds. He alternated restlessly and neurotically between eye-glazing gluttony and ascetic diets. He had a wide flat face and a crocodile smile and a few strands of colorless hair arranged to cover his balding skull. His cheeks were laced with the broken, purple veins of the cardiac sufferer.

For perhaps the tenth time he yanked the map from his pocket and looked at it in grim satisfaction. The government was going to re-route U.S. 19 to the south two miles, to cross the Waecamaw River, and form a cloverleaf interchange with the new east-west freeway. Kiger had solicited that information only with the care­ful bribery of certain state officials, and with a little legal sleight-of-hand he had picked up two miles of river frontage. The transaction included an old house on the river that would have to be torn down. Kiger smiled. He had never seen the place, but he knew the govern­ment was going to pay a nice piece of change for it.

He shoved the map back into his pocket and cursed under his breath. He was supposed to have met the gov­ernment agent at the house at noon, but the wheel bear­ing had thrown him late. It would be dark now before he could get there. He scowled at the attendant. Get south of D.C. and they take all day. Hillbillies. Black sorghum and yeller conepone and big-butted gals. Moonshine and superstition.

The attendant finally eased the big car to the ground,saying, "Comes to about seven dol­lars for the parts, mister." He looked shrewdly up at Kiger from beneath his bushy brows. "And I figger 'bout ten for the labor." 

Kiger snorted. "Don't try to con me, pop. You were expecting five, and you'll settle for three." He slip­ped a ten from his platinum money clip. "Here, dad buy yourself a broad and a brace of Cadillacs."

As Kiger slid beneath the wheel of the Imperial, the old man laid a protesting hand on his shoulder. "Now, wait a minute, mister, this ain't—"

"Listen, Ichabod," Kiger said quietly, "you take your seedy hands off me, or I'll crawl out of here and make you eat that gas pump."

The old man stepped back quick­ly. Kiger laughed, jerked the gear lever, and laid a strip of rubber on the concrete apron as he boomed the big car out of the driveway. He chuckled to himself and re-lit his dead cigar. Little people. The world is full of meek little bastards wait­ing around to inherit the earth, and all you have to do is walk on 'em.

His big fists rested lightly on the wheel as he shot down the lonely stretch of highway. It was late after­noon of an autumn day and all the colors of October were running along the hill flanks like a fire that didn't know where it wanted to go. He laid the map on the seat beside him and glanced at it occasionally. He swung south onto a paved farm know where it wanted to go. He laid the map on the seat beside him and glanced at it occasionally. He swung south onto a paved farm road, drove ten miles, turned again on an old and near-abandoned cor­duroy trail that lay between tangles of aspen and wild firethorn. At the slower speed, he heard an ominous whirring noise coming from the left front wheel. He cranked down the window and listened. So the old bastard conned me, anyway. Sec­ond-hand parts, maybe; or just ig­norance.

He cursed and stomped the accel­erator. It would last until he could get back to civilization.

It was dark now, and he switched on the headlights. The road lifted and dropped, spanned the river on a rickety wooden bridge. He swung around a sharp curve, shot past the entrance to the house, stopped, backed up and turned the glare of headlights up the old path. There was no gate. Two gray stone columns flanked an old wooden cattle guard. Two hundred yards up the hill was the house.

He jolted the big car between the columns. The cattle guard splintered and gave way, and the front end of the car dropped in a protesting screech of metal. He climbed out of the car and looked at the damage. The left front wheel had sheared off, the hub rested on the ground in the shallow ditch. Shaking with rage, Kiger stomped up and down in front of the car, cursing steadily and profoundly under his breath.

When a little of his anger had boiled away, he turned and looked up at the house. A bloody Hallo­ween moon hung big as a wagon wheel beyond the shoulder of the hill, backlighting the place. The house was so old, the gray stone so eroded by wind and time and water that it seemed a part of the mountain itself, as if hard dissolv­ing rains had washed away the put­ty-colored clay and laid bare the bones of the earth.

He took a flashlight from the car and walked up the path. It was cold, and he wished for a heavier coat. There was something oddly wrong, and for a moment he couldn't figure out what it was. Then he realized it was the utter silence. No wind moved in the night time trees, no insects or animals chittered in the brush. There was only a vast and ringing silence.

He walked through a mossy gar­den studded with fountains of stone and brass-green statues, walked across a vast porch littered with storm-felled branches. He should­ered the stubborn door open and stepped inside. The air was thick with the mustiness of closed places; the cone of Kiger's flashlight re­flected back from veils of cobwebs, from yellowed mirrors and the dark sheen of old redwood.

Kiger chuckled to himself. A dandy place for a wake. A sort of do-it-yourself horror kit. Step right up, friends, build your own Frank­enstein. Make him yourself out of old bodies, used transistors, and spare parts left over from Boris Karloff movies.

On a dusty table stood a single candle, resting on a mass of colored wax where a thousand other candles had died and run down like melted rainbows. Holding the flashlight under his arm, Kiger snapped his lighter and reached for the candle.

The wick was—warm ...

So the government man was here, Kiger thought; must've waited a while and then left. But all those other candles?

He lighted the candle and looked around the room. There was a huge­ness to the house that made even Kiger feel slightly dwarfed. Over­stuffed furniture was fat and swol­len; the mantle of the bricked fire­place stood seven feet above the floor; the newel post at the foot of the broad staircase was so large a man could not reach around it, and flat on top like a small table.

He walked across the room, conscious of a certain humor in knowing that all this junk was his. All this place needs, he thought, is Count Dracula floating down those stairs. He rummaged through the drawers of an exquisite old writing desk, searching for more candles.

"Hello," a voice behind him said.

Kiger was not a man easily start­led. The power drive of his ego was such that he always knew exactly who and where he was; his compos­ure was rarely shaken. With only a slight tightening of his flesh, he turned and swung the light around.

The girl sat on top of the newel post. She sat perfectly still in the circle of light, like a ballad singer in a baby spot. Her hair was dark, clipped in Cleopatra bangs across her forehead, hanging like a tight helmet straight down to her shoul­ders. She sat with her legs drawn up slightly, her folded arms resting on her knees. All of her, every inch of her, was swathed in a voluminous black cloak, so that only the pale oval of her face was visible.

Kiger smiled and took a slow breath to ease the tightness in his chest. "And who might you be, little lady?"

"Odd. I was about to ask the same thing." Her smile was dazzling. "You may call me Angela."

"And you may call me Boris," Kiger said. "No kin to Karloff."

"You're quite unique, Boris. Ar­riving at night, I mean. Visitors are a rarity. As a rule, the curious few approach in the day, and the farm­ers along the river fire their shot­guns to scare them off. Few people come here without getting shot at."

"Your milkman must have a ball."

"How delightful! A sense of hum­or! Oh, you're quite rare, Boris."

"Uh-huh. Tell me, why do the farmers scare visitors away? Just plain cussedness?"

"Not really. They just don't want anyone disturbing the spirits. Bad for the crops, the cows stop giving milk, and all that."

"Spirits, eh? Among whom, I'll bet, you are the staunchest."

"Of course. Don't you believe in witches, Boris?"

Kiger chuckled. "Damn right. I was married to one a few years back. A regular 14-carat shrew.

Took me for nearly twenty grand."

"That wasn't the sort I had in mind."

Kiger stepped closed to her. Her eyes were the palest of green, with little gold flecks near the pupil. It had been a long time since he had noticed a woman's face. There was a delicacy in the bone structure of this one, a clearness of eye and skin that was arrestingly beautiful. Kiger smiled. "So here we got us a broad who's been shacked up in a rent-free pad, complete with mumbo-jumbo to keep out the riff-raff. Where's your hidey-hole, doll? Up them stairs? And where's your man?"

"Man? Oh, perhaps you mean the family. They're all around. I've been authorized to talk to you."

"Authorized? I like that! How old are you, kid? Nineteen, twenty? How long you been living here?"

She smiled. "Let's say, since time itself was half its present age."

Boris nodded. "I figured you'd say something like that. Who's paying you?"

"Paying me?"

"I'll bet it's that bastard of a real estate agent out of D.C. Make with the goblin bit, and ole Kiger wets his pants and sells for a song. So okay. Where's my production? Rat­tling chains and deals that come down from the ceiling and things that go bump in the night."

She pouted. "You're a very firm non-believer, aren't you, Boris?"

Kiger laughed. "Don't take it so hard, kid. It's just that if you can't drink it, spend it, or go to bed with it, I ain't much interested. Look, are there more candles around here? I'm getting tired of holding this light."

She freed a slender white arm from the folds of the cloak and pointed. Kiger found a dozen warp­ed old candles in a drawer, scatter­ed them about the room on various pieces of furniture, and lighted them. "There, now," he said, rub­bing his palms together. "Just enough light to make the joint look creepy. Okay, doll, do something spooky."

Angela sighed. "You're most prag­matic, Boris."

She swung her legs around—for a moment Kiger glimpsed a small bare foot with a delicate, golden chain around the angle—and drop­ped lithely to the floor. She was small, only an inch or so above five feet, and the black cloak with its high flaring collar almost swallowed her, as if it had been intended for a much larger person.

Kiger smiled crookedly. "Prag­matic? Yeah. Well, I've been called worse. What do you do besides haunt this place? If the local troops keep everybody scared off, the weekends must be sort of a drag."

Angela frowned, chewing reflec­tively on her soft underlip. "We don't really haunt the place, you know. That's very naive. We're just sort of here—like a force of nature."

"We? Oh, the family. Blood re­lations, I suppose. Are they all like you?"

"Oh, no!" Her eyes grew round. "They're enormously talented. Ish-mal—that's my brother—can move inside a bird or a deer or even a rock, and sort of make them do things. And one of my sisters, Syl­via, knows mirrors. I mean, you can see her moving back and forth among all those angles, dozens of broken facets whipping from one dimension to another, and goodness, sometimes there's so many of her, you never know whether she's com­ing or going."

"Sounds like a pretty swingin' group."

"And then there's Papa." Angela shuddered slightly and gathered the cloak tightly around her shoulders. "He can do anything, just about. Sometimes when he's angry he looks like a figure cut from black iron standing before the candle light, but during the happy times he swoops before the flames and hangs in dis­tant corners like a folded umbrella."

"That ain't bad," Kiger said. "All my old man could do was drink. What do you do, sweetheart?"

Angela smiled brightly. "Oh, my talent is best of all. I can communi­cate—with people. Isn't that marvel­ous?"

She swung her arms happily, swirling the cape so that it spun and drifted like a dark wing, pirou­etting on her small bare feet in a rhythmic step that bared perfect white thighs and sweetly dimpled loin curve—and Kiger realized she was naked beneath the cloak.

He felt his ears get hot.

"Well, now." He licked lips that seemed suddenly parched. "I knew there must be something more to this show. Just how—how do you communicate?"

Her laughter echoed brightly in the vast and darkened room, and she swung the cape in a high arc so that it opened like a dark fan and spun from her shoulders to flutter and fall boneless, and she stood before him naked, breathless, laughing. "All sorts of ways," she said. Kiger felt a little dizzy. Dark hair....

...framed the delicate, smiling face, and she stood so buoyantly proud that her feet seemed hardly to touch the mossy carpet, arms wide and high and skin stretched erectile tight —but beyond that was something more, an attitude of glittering, green-eyed wickedness, an aura so frankly concupiscent that Kiger trembled with desire.

He took a slow uncertain step toward her and she sank in smiling obedience to a low, dark couch, limbs asprawl, the smooth flesh so flawless that Kiger touched her with awed hesitation.

"You see, Boris? You do believe."

His breathing was slow, labored. "Look, doll, just forget that bit." He chuckled. "And anyway, if you're a witch, why don't you just turn me into a lizard or something?"

She smiled. "Or a swine?"

"What does that mean?"

Her shoulders lifted slightly. "Nothing. It can't happen unless you believe. Perhaps I'm only your im­agination." She touched him and laughed. "You have a vivid imagin­ation, Boris."

"I believe this," he said.

"That's what I mean." Her arms came up to him and he felt the sud­den warmth of her breath against his cheek, felt the slow and oily swell of movement beneath him. Smooth thighs encircled him, couched him, gripping then releasing, controlling his tempo.

"No—umm, slower," she breathed, writhing, chanting familiar, ancient words.

He felt her hands urgent and de­manding against his back, her tongue doing things to his ear. God, this woman knew how to move. He had never had such a woman.

She moaned —softly at first, then louder. He felt her heels prodding him to a faster pace. He gasped as he fought to resist, fought to savor the velvet of her. But she grew wildly insistent. She pulled his head to her breast and thrust her hips fiercely to him. "Now, Boris—oh, now!" she demanded. "Now!"

And then, in that spasming, hurt­ling instant, he knew only the cling­ing, velvet softness of this woman, and he gasped for breath against the firm-softness of her breasts. A warm current flowed along his spine.

He felt her pull away as she whis­pered, "Do you believe, Boris?"

And as she spoke, a wind came cutting through the house, cold, keening in the empty rooms and dusty corners, and the echo of her bright laughter seemed strangely off-key, pitched a trifle too low, and he swung his head around, startled.

"What was that?" he whispered tensely.

"That depends."

"On what?"

"On what you heard," she said, "and whether you believe you heard it."

There was a sound, something like the faint pulse of drums, some­thing like the webbed thunder of wings. Kiger turned and stared in horror up the dark tunnel of the stair. Something bony and tall pois­ed there, a dim outline against the greater darkness that unfolded with a sound like the rush of wind. And beneath him, Angela whispered, al­most to herself: "He believes, Papa

Kiger stood up, petrified with ter­ror, feeling a horrible constriction in his chest. And suddenly the old house was astir with flutterings and squeakings and thin cries on the leather-flapped air. Gasping for breath, clutching his chest, Kiger stumbled woodenly toward the door. They came pouring in upon the frosty wind and fell in bullet trajec­tories, the echo of their laughter shooting cleanly along the corridors. Kiger felt the madness roaring in his brain, felt the hot exploding blood beneath his chest. They plum­meted from the far ceilings, making candle flames dip in the rush of their passage, leaving in their wake the reek of tombed sarcophagi and the dust of pyramids.

And beyond, above it all, Kiger heard the merry tinkle of Angela's laughter.

He ran in blind terror through the garden and down the path, hearing them behind him as they boomed over the dark fold and convolution of countryside. At his car he turned and saw them etched against the bloody face of the moon. And then he saw the final horror. Something talon-clawed and delta-winged dropped swiftly, and he saw her clinging in wild exhilaration to the broad and furry back, her hair whipping in the wind, her mouth open in laughter, her naked thighs clamped tightly against the pumping flanks. And then he saw no more . . .

They found him dead beside his car. He was unmarked, but the blackened face spoke eloquently of the heart attack that had killed him. Exertion, the doctors said; rage ex­pended against his crippled car. But the mountain folk looked at each other, and then looked back at the house atop the hill—and they knew. And still, they say, the house is waiting . . .


[A quick note:  I don't actually type out all these stories; it's just a cut and paste.  Still, it takes time to scan them, do a text recognition, then insert with accompanying images.  So, if you feel like being generous, please drop some change into the tip jar.  Some of you have already done so - and it is much appreciated!]


  1. AnonymousJuly 24, 2015

    You did a lot of work here, man. Thank you for bringing these back into the light