His place was a sty. Filthy, cluttered. Creepy, like the Munsters had snuck in while decent people were out working. Usually it was dark. So dark you felt blind. That mattress on the floor. Getting up, if you didn’t kick Boomer, the dog, each step crunched a homemade porn tape, or sent a beer can flying. Sex and booze: Lars’ priorities. But in which order? Valerie smirked.
Outside the house she stood, in the snow. But what snow! A fucking blizzard, with flakes madly battering everything in sight. They stung her cheeks. You love pain! Lars had said smugly, in his perverse Dr. Higgins way. You thrive on abuse. A rocket scientist turned bad, Lars was, kinda, like the alien enemy had claimed his body, cock first. That Val still loved him defied all logic.
A month ago, he’d dumped her, right in that doorway, in a similar snowstorm. Like in a silent movie, Lars pointed his finger, roaring, “Get out! Get out, you crazy…psycho…lunatic bitch!” Childishly jumping up and down, so Boomer bellowed. Poor fuck, Valerie had thought, in the midst of her torment. At least she had a fighting chance. That ancient, half-crippled beagle was trapped. She was wondering if Lars was too bombed to feed him, when a full can of beer had whizzed past her head. “Get out!” Lars had shrieked, as the beer sunk in the deep snow.
“Okay,” Val told the shrink, a nameless bitch with glasses too much like somebody else’s. “I got low self-esteem, lesbo tendencies, and only like bad boys. Oh, I had a fucked-up childhood, too.” Same as she’d told all other shrinks, but this one she just didn’t trust. Way back when, she’d slouched deliciously on mushy couches, poured out her heart, and felt better. Still, she knew deep down, she was the same needy little fucker she’d been since she was five. “Some things,” she told this spectacled shrink, “never change.”
His real name was Louis, but he called himself Lars. Val never asked him why. Things like that set him off. The strangest things did. “You don’t remember?” Lars would say, with a flick of his cigarette. Virginia Slims, he smoked, like a sophisticated dame. “Then again, you were trashed.” That evil gleam was in his eye. Sure, she drank, but with Lars, you had to. Anything to forget the demeaning way he made you feel. Ate your pussy with gusto, clutching your hands so tightly, they ached. Licked your asshole, too, God, he was dirty! The sicker it was, the more he dug it. The sad part was, he convinced you it was love. Drunk or sober, he gazed up with brown, slanted eyes brimming with real tears. “Schatze,” he whispered, “I love you!” half in German. Raved about Berlin, but hailed from Jersey City. Ultra-romantic, Lars was Gomez Addams, Rasputin, and a fallen angel, all rolled into one. “But,” he soon added, all smug, lighting up again, “Not just you.” That was the saddest part. He had lots of soulmates. And not just female…
“Mmmmmm,” came choked moans from the shrink’s VCR. His, as Mistress Pinky eased their favorite dildo up his ass. What he loved most, was sucking cock. Extreme close-up of Lars’ face: half-shut, long-lashed eyes, cheeks bulging with the massive organ stuffed in his mouth. “Mmmmmmm!” Skin shiny with cum from the two he’d just sucked through the Glory Hole. As he lurches and gulps this fresh load, a plump, red-nailed hand smoothes his drenched hair back. Ah, Mistress Pinky…
“First of all,” Val said, in total disgust, “If I was gonna eat pussy, it wouldn’t be hers.” Smiling, Lars wasn’t put off a bit. “Not if, my little Schatze. When. And trust me. It will be hers.” He usually got his way. But not this time, Val thought smugly.
Mistress Pinky…just her name suggested the dirtiest secrets. A sheer pink nightie on a sour-faced sow. With glasses, yet. Lars’ production company, “Shangri-La,” specialized in fetish videos: chain-smoking sluts, golden showers, but mostly BBWs. Of his whole stable, Mistress Pinky was the BIGGEST, most BEAUTIFUL WOMAN of all. A sideshow kewpie doll, with curves galore. Super-long, silky hair, and red lips stung by a swarm of bees. The same hold Lars had on Val, his Mistress had on Lars. And “Shangri-La’s” Superstar always wore wire-framed specs! “S’a big turn-on!” Lars snarled, when Val wondered why. “For who?” she demanded. Lars just smirked.
Self-mutilation. Out of frustration, Val had severe joint pain from grinding her teeth. Palms scarred, from carving herself. All to keep her from clawing that smirk off Lars’ face. “’Cos believe me,” she told the bug-eyed shrink. “It wouldn’t stop there.”
But Lars wasn’t all bad, Val told herself. How else could she love him so much? When she was real sick, who held her head, so she could puke? Who mopped her face? And take Boomer…he loved that pissy mutt to death! Liked wrapping the beagle in soiled sheets like a mummy, so Boomer yelped, and struggled to get out. It was their favorite game. But Val refused to join in.
The last time she watched them in bed, Val lost it. Sobbing hysterically, she crouched on the floor, as old Boomer stumbled over, nudged her face. His was damp, smelly, with the saddest eyes Val had ever seen. Once brown, now blue with cataracts. Tightly, Val squeezed him to her, as Lars plowed Mistress Pinky. Boomer bellowed, struggled to escape.
“Schatze,” Lars called the groaning cow, whose spectacled eyes were glued to Val. Huffing and puffing, heaving, Pinky was close to her ninth orgasm. “I…” she gasped, pointing to Val, “I…will…have her!” Still deep inside her, Lars turned to face Val. Hair plastered all over his sticky face, his eyes were filled with love. “Come!” he gasped. “Join us. Please? His tone was pleading. “Schatze?” But Val was frozen. An instant later, the eyes blazed with hate. “Then get out!”
Now, a month later, out in the snow, Val was ready. But not for that. She, who’d never been in a fight, was ready for the Big One. Shaking with fury, it was all laid out, beautifully, in her mind. If Pinky was inside, she’d slide her fucking ass! Beat her so bad, inside and out, so everywhere you looked, there’d be fat. Clumps of bloody yellow fat, all over the snow. Cunt, Val thought. Up the block somewhere would be her glasses: smashed, twisted. For the first time in a long time, Val smiled. And meant it.
Homicidal tendencies, the shrink would be thinking. “But why you?” Madame Prozac demanded. “You’re built…nice. Pretty, caring. Not in the same league with that crew. You’re not his type!”
Val had no clue. All she knew was, she wanted him back. And back she would go, no matter what.
Oh, well!” she said casually, getting up. “It’s over, isn’t it? Life goes on.” After all Val had just told her, no shrink would buy that. But, Val thought, smirking, her hour was up. No time to tell her about…“The Tape.”
She was here for the tape. That’s what she’d say, when Lars opened the door. The only one she’d made, with him, for him, which really pissed him off. “Don’t do it for me!” he’d said grandly. “Do it for yourself.” Like Glinda from Oz might’ve told her. All it was, was her sucking his cock, while trying not to choke on a cigarette. “Nothing big,” he muttered. “It’ll never sell. A waste of time. Now if she were coaxing you…” She, she, she! Val had had it with she, the way Lars’ eyes lit up when he mentioned she. She’d rather watch him suck cock, some thick, drippy, anonymous…
Val was nuts, and she knew it. Why else would she be here? When the barking and shouting began inside, why didn’t she leave? Stumble home through knee-deep snow? Or call 911, like a sane citizen? Instead, she struggled up the stairs and burst inside.
“You fuck!” Lars screamed at Boomer, who whined, pathetically. “Look at this mess!” The place was too bright. Candles, Val realized. Hundreds of them, in the bedroom, all flickering crazily, like in Carrie. Tea lights, wax kitty cats, and those tall, creepy black ones she never wanted to know about. Wasn’t his life warped enough? Beside Boomer was a puddle. Poor fuck, Val thought again. Lars was so bombed, he still hadn’t seen her. “Wanna get gassed?” he said cruelly. “Wanna die in some oven, old man?” As if he understood exactly, Boomer let out the loudest bellow ever. It was more like a scream, and Val couldn’t take it. “Shut up!” she told Lars.
Who didn’t flinch. It was like she lived there, or had never left. Downing his beer, he crushed the can. “Fuckin’ mutt,” he muttered, drunkenly, “S’been pissin’ all over!” He kicked a loose videotape aside.
Suddenly he turned and smiled, horribly, at Val. “So look who’s here. Uninvited. I should call the cops.” Can’t, Val thought. Phone’s disconnected. Lights off, too. Lars sighed. “Well, have a beer first. Get me one, too.” Without a word, Val obeyed. Just like Old Times.
At least there was heat, coming from the kitchen. The oven, he liked to turn on, with the door open. A smell of gas, but faint. Dangerous, sure, but Lars dug flirting with death. They all did, anyone who fucked Lars. Condoms repulsed him. “I want…” he always said, driving his cock deeper inside you, “To feel you, raw. I want you to milk me. Dry.” And, like a fool, Val always gave in. God knows what was festering inside her, inside all of them: Mistress Pinky, those Glory Holers… The same cock that exploded in Val was connected to the Anus From Hell. They were one tottery step from a mass grave.
“Where’s that beer?” Lars yelled, from that brightly-lit room. But Val saw something that unnerved her. On the stove, the rear left burner was on, with no flame going. That’s why she smelled gas. Idly, she tried another. No flame, either. Then the last two. “Hel-lo!” Now Lars made gagging sounds, like he was dying of thirst. Smiling, Val switched off all the burners. Close call. If that oven flame ever… Still smiling, she grabbed two warm beers out of the fridge.
She almost tripped over Boomer. He was always in the way. During wild sex, he stumbled onto the mattress next to them. During filming, he howled. “Gonna put’cha to sleep,” Lars mumbled, affectionately now, rubbing the dog’s ears. Boomer laughed, silently, stretched out on the mattress next to him. Val stepped carefully over the piles of tapes. “So…” Lars accepted the beer. “Why are you out on a night like this? Or, to put it bluntly…” Beer spilled on his shaky hand. “Why the fuck are you here?”
The tape. Ask him about the tape. But her tongue felt frozen. He looked like shit: unshaven, probably unwashed. Plaid flannel shirt tucked halfway into pants he might’ve swiped from a mental ward. But this was Lars. Not the Porn-Meister, but the man who’d loved her. These glazed eyes had stared deep into hers until both of them desperately had to pee. But even that he made a dirty game out of, way back when. Right now the candlelight, all these crazy shadows, were unbearably creepy. But, at the same time…so romantic. Was this, was any of this ever real?
Eyes still on her, he drained the can. As he put it down between two candles, one of them teetered. She grabbed it, gasping, as the hot wax scalded her.
She jumped up. He was oblivious, eyes half shut, slouching. “Well?” he said, drinking her beer now. “ Are we dying to come back? For another chance?”
“Ice!” she said. “I burned my hand.”
Smirking, he gestured to the door. “Plenty outside.” He stretched out. “Y’ here to say you love me?”
But I do, Val thought. I always have. I told you! Her heart raced. “Where’s my tape?” came out all shaky. “The smoking blow job?”
“Sold,” he said smugly.
“What?” Val screamed. “You said it’d never…”
Lars shrugged. “I lied.”
Suddenly Val felt dizzy. Sick, like her heart could puke. She saw the Triple X Marquee: SCHATZE DOES DEUTSCHLAND. No, Direct-to-Video. Some pot-bellied sicko slapping his salami, splashing his wide screen TV, before Wifey comes home. Lars and Pinky banking it all. Around her, flames swirled through Val’s tears. “I don’t believe you!”
He’d dozed off. “Look around,” he said, real cranky. He rolled over and faced the wall. “Maybe it’s here, maybe it’s not,” came out muffled.
The room was infested with porn tapes, mostly unmarked. It would take hours, days, to find the right one, if it was here. Lars half-turned toward her. “Maybe,” he said, seductively, “She’s got the only copy!”
She. That’s when Val realized what she was going to do. Why she was here. A damn shame, she thought, smiling, that she’s not here too.
In a few minutes, Lars was snoring, softly. Val stole into the kitchen. Boomer watched, curiously, but didn’t bark, as she reached the stove. Good thing he knows me, she thought, switching on the first burner. That soft, rushing sound. Still no flame. But there were plenty inside. Smiling, Val switched on the other three.
Tongue out, Boomer smiled back, innocently. Good thing he loves me, Val thought, stooping to pet him on the way out. They rubbed faces. She kissed the top of his aged head.
The snow had gotten deeper. Way off you heard foghorns, alarms. But why? Nobody was out on a night like this. You were home with someone you loved.
Val was halfway down the steps, when she turned and went back in.
Inside, the stench of gas was overpowering. Lars’ drunken snores alternated with coughs. For a moment, Val stood in his doorway, coughing herself. The candles flickered wildly, shadows trying to pull her back in…
Boomer was a smart pooch. Already stumbling toward the door. Val bent and scooped him up. He bellowed, but it was too late. Love you, too, she thought.
Halfway up the block, the blast came.Windows shattered, flames blew.The snow was no longer white.Life goes on, Val knew now.She held Boomer so tightly, he cried.
“Shangri-La.” Collected in Gutter Balls, by Cindy Rosmus. Copyright © 2007 by Fossil Publications. Originally appeared in Sex and Guts Magazine, January 2004.
Cindy Rosmus is a Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife and talks like Anybodys from West Side Story. Her noir/horror/bizarro stories have been published in the coolest places, such as Shotgun Honey; Megazine; Dark Dossier; Horror, Sleaze, Trash; and now Rock and a Hard Place. She is the editor/art director of the Webzine Yellow Mama.