A Speculative Fiction by Greg Tate


There are no  A, C, B or D trains running tonight. 

This makes it the sixth night in a row. 

We not even be wanting restitution or reparations.

W’d just like a simple repair. 

None of the above will ever be forthcoming.

This is how its been, this is how its gonna be. 

    Darkness upon the face of the deep  forevermore. All ever since.

 As in Ever Since that night. 

The night of  two trains running. 

I’ll never forget that night. 

I can still hear them singing. 

All the way to heaven. 

The sad thing is I envy them. 

As if the tragedy was mine. 

Like any man who’s missed his chance at glory all I can think of is the circumstances that put me on one side of the sliding doors between cars and all my Beloveds on  another. 

    Given another scenario, it could have been me. 

There are fates worse than death and deportation.

Most peoples fate’s are worse than their deaths. 

My fate is worse than immortality.


That’s all I’ll be thinking about between here and 125th street: Other peoples fates, not my own. 

    Philosophy does that to a man.  Curses him with contemplating man’s fate even when  his own feet have begun to ache  and crack  after seven nights and days  of walking to work and backt Harlem from Times Square. 

   So unavoidable the bachhanal Harlem has become after a week without electricity.  

Like Amiri one wrote , ’The shapes in the darkness had histories’.   True enough, but  they had fun being those shapes too. And shaking loose of those histories, contorting out the storybooks that had  swollen up behind there eyes, deep  in their pores.

  This is how I keep track of my rambling selves without the ghosts around to remind me of  the multiple personas I used to cart around.




     The dudes who found him wandering naked across the Kalahari desert still fondly recall his fixation on his lost pecker.

I lost Pete, man. I  fucking lost Pete’. lost  mylast best friend old Pete out there! How can I go home to my wife and explain myself without Pete to back me up and her too. “‘

     According to the three wise guys who found Hogarth with  a cross staked to his back in the Kalahari desert  this was all he kept saying before he passed out. 

      He was clearly tripping since no one had actually cut his dick off. 

Not yet anyway.  

     It wouldn’t be until a year later that Hogarth recalled why he’d felt that way at the time and made to recognize that  sometimes hallucinations do come true.

     In the desert the three wise guys had told him they were  be his oldest and dearest friends–mainly just to help orient him. In the desert they’d introduced themselves as Stuart, Mathhew and Allen. 

     You were you and they were they but even in his enhanced state he knew he didn’t know any of them from the proverbial Adam.  

 Some things just don’t ring true even when youre all the way out your gotdam mind. 


     All the same these three good-natured  wise guys had brought him  home from  the desert. 

    They also related to his wife  that  while in the most extreme stages of  delirium he’d kept insisting that it was his intention to ‘’ change the nature of the beast.’’ 

    Unfortunaltey as time went on he realized the beast had beaten Hogarth  to the punch and changed the nature of Hogarth first.

    Chopped him down, poked him full of holes and left him hanging out there in the land of the bushman, Earth’ first people. 


       He’d  gone to the Kalahari a man, and in his estimation one  macho  stud of a man at that.  

      One morning three weeks after his return to wife and hearth and home  he began morphing into what would become the sleek form of an aristocratic Filipino woman. 

   He didn’t lose Pete so much as watch Pete shrivel and shrink into a lump of clay. 

     One day he looked down there and realized old one eyed Pete had lost sight of him forever. 

  Samuel Hogarth became Samantha H.

    That was only the beginning though.

Turned out The Beast had  even more jokes in store for Hogarth. 

     The coup grace, the piece de resistance, the absolute muthafukka arrived via  the discovery that not only had he been forced to undergo a sex change but that he was also suddenly six months pregnant. Burdended to birth an inhuman  lovechild deposited in his new womb by The Beast.

    His  first thought was naturally abortion.

But turned out that the mutation he  was carrying was not only not-human but indestructible. Its amniotic fluid  sac was some kind of liquid metal pod. The thing that could be seen  inside had a human face, the body of a lion, and the tiny wings of a hummingbird. 

     The thing growing inside Samuel Hogarth nee  Samantha H was a creature the world had heretofore only known through Greek mythology  as some thing called a Griffin.

     The Griffin  growing inside wouldn’t let Samantha H commit infanticide or suicide. 

It wouldn’t even allow him to maintain those thoughts for too long 

    By the time Hogarth was restored to  civilization thing Griffins growing in the bodies of men was on the verge of  becoming a commonplace event.

     The Beast had ben  busy and would soon see the world populated by swarms of  pod grown Griffin babies.


   Not long after Hogarth was  returned to Brooklyn his wife was visited by an advisor from the Organization of Griffin Rights. 

  Wifey was informed about adoption options for single parents and co-parenting possibilities with other mothers who were helping for rear their husbands Griffin children. 


     The Wifey  was told some families  had opted to return to the Kalihari desert and start an asylum community there. 

   The catch was going there required you give up your US citizenship.

    The Beast it seems had only impregnated Americans, even in Africa.

    Thus did our nation became within a quarter century of Hogarth’s return the world had become a place full of misbegotten griffin infants  and only a few other species besides your typical  post-apocalyptic bestiary of roaches cats horses cows pigs and dogs.

StarFuxx, a story by Greg Tate



By Greg Tate

She had what he described  as ‘’this crazy dark energy, this wildness.’’

   He would’ve called it feral back in his life on the land. The life he’d left on  that dead world  Mother Earth, receding as fast in memory as in miles. A life where  wild things like her got called feral creatures even if her species was not that of wolves, coyotes, cougars.  

 Once the species  was no longer part of nature where would they find replacement metaphors  capable of describing a woman like her? 

      She didn’t seem all that dangerous, really, but he got off on how ferocious her appetite  for him was. An appetite that seemed to  run as deep and dark as her first name–Abyssinia. 

    She’d been given that name by  parents  who had loved the cities of their  birth-world so much they decided to commemorate that love through their  daughters. 

  He thought it the perfect name for this  wild darkling woman who loved mauling her lover in candlelit darkness while shrouded in the most obsidian of  velveteen fabrics, veils and gloves.

    He came to believe she only existed to blow his wig back in bed, that she had no other desire than to nightly mount the underside of his skullcap, crawl up into the secret spaces where he burrowed thoughts and dreams, reknit his synapses, tickle and stroke his fancy with her tapered and silk-sheathed fingers.       He always waited for her with desperate anticipation. Knowing she would waste no time merrily going about the business of smashing his basic thought patterns, entangling herself with his wiring. overloading his central nervous system. 

     He could touch her anywhere  and feel this throbbing heat beneath her skin. A near mystical force—some sort of  magical dynamo that somehow kept  churning and burning  even when she was at rest.  palpable and powered by radiation-hot emanations which neither he nor the ship that enveloped  them both could neither name or source. 

     In this fiery aspect she reminded him  of another thing already old long before he eft earth: the smoldering afterburn he used to  feel coming from under the hood of a petroleum powered automobile on a hot summer day. If you attempted to plop your hand or your ass down before the thing had begun to cool down, you risked being singed, scalded even.

 Sometimes just the thought of  touching her could seem like that–like you were about warm yourself by her flame at  an unsafe distance. Like  she could scar you white if you got too close. From twenty feet across a crowded room she made him feel like the powerful motor underneath her hood could run, spew steam and hiss infinitely, never  growing cold. 

   When the surge of actual contact with her  jumped  from his hands to his entire nervous system there was no denying that her surface temperature was indeed several degrees hotter  than any woman  he’d ever touched before. 

    He stayed constantly amazed that her skin didn’t stay soaked  with tropical –though strangely enough, as feverish as her body always felt,  she too had to work as ferociously as anybody else to generate an actual  sweat on the icy ship.

    After their first half- day barely leaving one another’s side  he wanted to say to her ”Damn, babycakes, what are you half-woman, half nuclear reactor?” 

    A week later he was given to think that  somewhere Out There, somewhere beyond the length of his mammoth circular bed and its synthetic antelope-fur blankets, somewhere way on the other side of his door, where he was the nominal captain of a self-piloting self-aware starship that needed a captain about as much as the now defoliated Amazon rainforest  had once  needed a groundskeeper. Somewhere across that reminder of his utter uselessness to the vessel ‘under his command’ , he knew there had to be some elemental chart, some measure of human emotions that could computationally break down the source of her energy into the mathematics  of  attraction, need, wants and separation anxieties equivalent to those governing the dangers of fatal roentgens, lethal dosages,  half-life decays,

     He never stopped feeling like whatever it was she was doing to him was too good to go on forever and too all-consuming not to come at some great cost—costs he was now too distracted to ever calculate.

 Those thoughts were the sort  he could never maintain for long in her presence–especially when she began delivering on  her frequently and eagerly made  promise: ‘ Boy I’m ’bout to sop you up like a flaky biscuit”.

   He always felt like he was on the verge of  major scientific discovery everytime she took to slaying and resurrecting him in her grand and round  lovebed. As if by analyzing her effect on him he’d finally find the answer to how one woman’s sexual nature could be so powerfully different from all of her sisters– each of his past lover’s had run the gamut from passive to aggressive in pursuit of her pleasures but  none had trooped so far up in his head as her.

  Why was this one more prone to make a man babble and moan from the moment she claimed squatters rights on his  hardened desire?  Why did she alone make him feel like her ship’s captain while being in total control while simultaneously leave him feeling like he was was a doomed vessel  destined to drown in her whirlpool? Why had her coronas, her aureoles, her nipples been positioned by God in such way that the  mere thought of them alone was enough to sustain his arousal through the exhausting and emptying night. How was it that  through this  woman—a woman who’d been a stranger to him before he came out of star-sleep—how had he finally found the answers he’d been seeking from the bodies of  the many who’d come before her?  If only because unlike all the rest  she was able to shift the center of her own satisfactions from place to place across the stormy tempest of her body whenever they got down like they got down. The lyric  of a song he’d loved since he was a child always came to mind when they coupled: ”When you touch me/ You give me fever/ Sopping wet/Break me down in a cold sweat.”

     That her powers of empathy were as supernatural  as her physical grip also kept him slaked and slackened.  

   If he came to her hurting from somewhere deep  down inside over the loss of Mother Earth and all he’d loved there,  she immediately knew exactly where it hurt and how to fix it it— one glorious amorous caress of understanding at a time. 

    She liked to think  of herself as good for what ailed him and she always made him take his medicine. 

     There was always food waiting for him when he rose from the dead alone in that  mound of  bed that took up a third of her quarters. No  measly morsels were these, but instead wholly extravagantly prepared meals, things he’d  loved to eat for as long as he could remember, yet mixed with other, more exotic things he’d  never tasted before. 

     Things he  never even knew could be presented together in such bizarre, succulent combinations. 

       She cooked like she conquered–with  inordinate witchery and skill. 

         Many was the night  she felt she couldn’t just cook for him. Nights when she felt compelled to hand-feed him herself, stuff in his mouth fingerfuls of every torn and ragged bit  of fruit, flesh and foliage which she had set upon designated regions of his anatomy. One morning he even woke up to find juicy garlands of sashimi slices spotting him from head to toe. Before he could even react there she was, swimming up  and down his ticklish slightly shivering frame like he’d become a canal built for ferrying her migratory hungers to a place where neither time or death held sway. 

        He kept expecting to wake up and find her gone, his fever  broken or whatever delusionary state this was that  he knew was certain to soon dissipate.  

    He knew he couldn’t tell anyone  who might have popped in out of nowhere to ask what month or day it was or who was our last President or who had won the Super Bowl that last year before the planet collapsed— because like everybody else onboard he’d stopped caring about  such stuff way before the ship had even left the solar system. 

      Yet the longer he stayed prone beside her the more he became obsessed with finding some way to prove she was no illusion but  the only reality that mattered. 

      He decided the only way to do this was to make himself  numb to her touch, to try and experience her while anesthetized. 

       All so  he could prove that this romantic  delirium he’d  surrendered flesh and sprit to  was some witchery of her making and not some self-hynposis his own. 

      This first required him removing  all notions  of  ‘She’ and ‘I’ from his bedazzled realm of the senses; he had to began feeling like they were both nothing more than objects adrift  in the ether—abstracted objects without muscle, bone, nerves synapses and ganglia to connect them on what would unquestionably be humanity’s last lurch towards the eternal.

     It should have been as simple a matter as taking two of the yolk-colored pills the doctors had made all of them keep on their persons during  work shifts. 

     The pills  simulated morphine, a B-booster, and some form of Mexican mushroom, all without entering the blood stream–a cocktail of lozenges that when heated into vapor could  trick the brain into believing that contrary states like sentient paralysis and lucid deathsleep could co-exist. 

    To the extent that he felt suddenly unchained to her love, the pills worked.  The only problem  arose when he realized that  couldn’t find his work shirt or any other articles of clothing anywhere in her room. This became  a sobering shock on its own–even though he couldn’t remember having worn any clothing for days and weeks running now. 

      When he’d exhausted all visible options and  asked  for her assistance  she looked hurt and disappointed.

 “You’re leaving? ‘ she hurled out in a gasp.”I knew you’d get tired of me one day .I just never expected it to be so soon…”

           He tried explaining to her that he didn’t want to leave but that he could  feel her inner Garbo coming back online, wanting to be left alone, and for that reason he thought he should know where his clothes were and return to his own his quarters.  

     She  looked pouty, even a bit snippy now, pointing to a window that he’d never seen before but one he knew must have always been in her room:. an egress suddenly visible from all corners of her  tight domicile that looked out onto an air-locked corridor. One that tunneled towards a hangar packed with  gleaming shuttlecraft. 

    In that anterior  alleyway he could see his clothes drying on  heating elements in the wall that were glowering red, just like her pique with him. 

   He also knew that  those deceptive nano-medicines he  kept in his pocket were toast by now and useless for the mind deadening fate he intended for them. 

    He also realized that he was standing up straight for the first time in who knows how many star-calendar points  and thinking clearer than he had for about as  long and that it would probably be a good idea  to leave her room now. Leave before he succumbed again to whatever  hypersexual magnetism had kept him so willingly cooped up so long in the first place.  

      Not that he actually had anything better to do for the next 100 years of star-hopping either.  

       If the ship was banging around the universe in search of the perfect supernova while on steady autopilot why couldn’t he do the same? Only some silly residual degree of macho guilt  he decided. Feelings likely  driven by his shame at not adequately performing his meagre duties as the pointless ship’s captain.

      This thought of course occurred to him before he realized he actually had no existence outside of her bedroom. 

    This realization coming just as his programming was sparked to epiphany and he came to comprehend that there was no  ‘him’ that was not a figment of her sexual imagination. 

      This before he saw clearly that it was she and not the fictional ‘he’, a re-enactment, of sorts,  of a perfectly adoring actual   former lover on Mother Earth that  she’d nicknamed Himself’, long before she’d even become a starship commander. 

     Before he sank into cognitive oblivion in sync came thereckoning that it was only She and not the fictitious He who was cavorting and canoodling across galaxies inside the vessel  that served as her purpose in life when she could not be found in her budoir and personal pleasure dome. 

     Those too short  flash of the spirit  moments when her  ship-time once again became hers alone. When it truly wasn’t nobody’s business what she did  to get herself going as long she got There: to that far off  and maybe even mythical inter galactic destination hardwired into the ships higher dream functions: the unconscious back brain of  this big old star hopping thing she captained–the one sheltering and chaffuering Mother Earth’s one billion freeze-dried refugees to a fraught  rendezvous with the only star thought to be beckoning and  twinkling  come-hither glances at them from  long ways across the sumptuous and coquettish void.

PANGBORN, a story by Greg Tate

black fembot grrlPANGBORN

Once again, Hera was hungry.

Once again she deeply longed to gnaw on her own flesh. Never mind how technically speaking it was not really her flesh.

Or that this flesh, newly acquired, was not the only stolen flesh she had ever longed to rip into as if it were her own.

In truth she had no flesh she could truly call her own.

This had never stopped her from masquerading as a woman or being mistaken for one.

She did have a raced and gendered identity, a raced and gendered consciousness, a very very strong and determined will, and yes, even a job, of sorts, to speak of. But as to skin there was none that she had actually known to be hers since her awakening.

That sort of flesh a true soul was wrapped in until the day one died and such.

Now you could say her ravenous claims on this body or any body she happened to appear in were, as always, rather dubious.

Once upon a time this particular body, today’s body , had belonged to a woman who made her living as a corporate management troubleshooter.

Hera had taken the woman’s body from her at gun point, (or really by way of gunbutt) using yet another stolen body.

The body she held the gun with was the same one she’d returned from the moon in.

The hijacking of the new body took place right before the old body had given up the ghost on playing host to Hera’s murderous imagination.

The original owner of her new body was now dreaming quite pleasant artificially induced dreams whose soporific effect Hera checked up on periodically.

The dreamer wasn’t thinking much about being hungry but it wouldn’t matter much if she were. Being that Hera the compulsive eater of host-flesh was the one in control of all bodily functions, they’d eat when Hera said she’d eat, whether her host was hungering or not.

Though it was only dawn and though she had eaten twice on the redeye from Chicago, (for the host’s sake, knowing what a long day and night lay ahead), there was no denying her own real hunger either. Or the knowledge that only feeding off her current body’s extraneous parts was going to satisfy that craving.

Problem was she could not start gnawing at this too- too-tired flesh until after the job at hand was over and done with. Hera knew she’d be stark raving mad by then but what could she do?

Generally when her hunger jones came down a lightheaded, dizzying feeling liked to follow.

Hera had been made acutely aware of her hunger’s capacity to induce vertigo on her last job. The unusual duration of the gig had exhausted her , shredded away all the patience she had in reserve. When she was no longer able to hold herself back she did the unthinkable: fed off her stolen flesh while she worked.

It had not been pretty and it had not been cute.

(Imagine having to watch your entire family dying at the hand of a woman who was biting off her free hand, finger by finger, knuckle by knuckle, backhand by backhand).


As morning painted itself in, Hera couldn’t help but notice the moon.

Once again the thing was right above her head rather than just below her feet.

This moon was the real deal: that fabled pie in the sky moon, A blood-orange cuticle of a thing. It was also refusing to leave the stage.

As the sour stew of Harlem’s summer stench rose from the pavement as nature intended, this moon was refusing to do what it was supposed to. Fade, vanish, evaporate.

The new day’s sky probably didn’t care to see the moon holding on by a sliver but there it was anyway: holding firm above Harlem while vainly exhibiting its milky red orb

 of an  eye a wee tad too long.

   Like most of us, Hera believed her perfect lover would be a more generous, evolved, expansive version of herself. On the moon that turned out to have meant a version of herself more generous with more expansive criticism of Hera’s state of evolution, or lack thereof, than Hera could use.


The morning’s blue canopy had replaced the night’s black curtain but this devil moon, scarlet and pompous, was refusing to take its marching orders. Something in the moon’s refusal to leave struck Hera as a bitter reminder of obnoxious things past.

Once upon a time Hera had gazed upon the earth from the moon.

Once upon a time had only been a mere summer ago but it still felt epic and eons-ago to Hera

Everything was artificial then:the green grass, the not so low gravity, the robot girlfriend. The girlfriend unit she’d purchased for the trip turned out to be a real pain in the ass. Robot girl had been given to a lot of rhetoric and speechifying about the natural way to live.

Problem was her mechanized significant other had not provided any of the nurturing or comforting Hera so desperately needed from her at the time. Instead the thing just incessantly bitched whined and needled Hera. After two weeks of listening to her shit Hera had dismantled the contraption’s throat, fucked her speechless machine-ass a few good times and returner her to the mechanics in tatters and shreds.

She decided the next time she provided specs for a mate she’d make sure she got one that came with hella less lip.

The kind of girlfriend whose talent for stealth and silence outstripped her gift of gab and her desire to make home repairs.

“See thing is I know what to do with a sneaky, shystie bitch. You just sneak too and a certain equilibrium is achieved. But it’s always those ones to out to make you a better human being who confuse the issue. Because they think they’re so perfect they want to raise you to their level and that’s what makes them such a pain in the ass. Bitch gonna try and fix me when I’m the one brought her broke mechanical bride ass home from the shop? Oh hell to the no.”


Manufacturing ideal lovers was an imperfect science but the hairy-chested old mechanical  boys in the shop assured her they’d one day get it together.

‘Mark our words, Hera, one day we’ll have it down. Right down to the nearest bloody tearjerking decimal point.’

Hera took it all with a grain of salt. She believed nothing lab-assembled could ever simulate real human love, freely and desperately given, freely and desperately recpirocated.

Only a creature assured of dying could surrender enough of themselves to the self-martyrdombeing  good lover required.  No robot girl she’d ever owned had ever seemed an ideal candidate for romantic suicide.


The body Hera was currently in possession of was frailer than the one she’d taken to the moon. This body shivered more easily but ate and slept less.

Some weird kind of neurotic feedback loop went on there. The body in question wasn’t very good at hiding its apprehension and sense of oppression by the world and all the things in it. You could scope out everything it was feeling just by staring in its eyes. It was most likely scared of its own shadow even in the most serene of settings.

It seemed to be an incredibly honest body though—one that was earnest, forthright, full of conviction and integrity with the reflexes of a born scrapper to boot, no matter the odds.

Hera had a feel for bodies by this point.

A feel for what they could would and wouldn’t do based on their DNA, their brain folds, and the fired neurons skipping to the loo  around their heads.

This time she knew she’d gotten the body of a fierce spirit, a warrior-spirit, the kind she would have wanted beside her going into battle.

Though hardly fearless, this body knew something better: how to use her fear to utterly focus on surivival. This body might start shaking if confronted with an animal attack but it wouldn’t back down from the fight. Not even if she was staring the animal right in the face.


Hera’s employer was an animal who liked to bare his fangs whenever he told Hera how she kept surprising him.

By which he meant he always expected her to be the one to fuck up a mission.

By which he meant he expected her to be the one to ‘derail n’ bail’, not the older, more experienced guys he kept sending along to shadow her.

Those guys tended to be the ones who actually did all the fucking up. Not being able to keep up with Hera had everything to do with why.

They would be made pay for their lagging behind by not coming back home in one piece.

Eventually, after the loss of several human operatives Hera’s employer had gotten the message.He stopped sending anybody out with her.

She took it as the lefthanded compliment it was—one she knew not to expect to be followed up by rewards, bonus points or any greater recognition of her skills and kill ratio.


Being out in the field on her own had its good points and its bad points. She worked better alone because she could improvise as much as necessity demanded and because she didn’t have to worry about destroying a wounded, torture-able colleague before

the enemy got to him.

But working alone also meant she had to manage everything, no matter what else was going on.

Everything as in the handling of all comers, job related or not.

Everything like restraining herself from her feeding on herself until the job was done.

Restraining her from cannibalism was the only strong argument in favor of her going out with a partner.

She had barely managed without a partner on her last job– so gruesomely at the end of the day that it still haunted her.

This go round she had planned on arriving early enough to answer the call of the wild but her plane had been delayed and then boarded by police at the gates.

Her schedule was now off by about two hours. This meant there’d be little to eat before or immediately after the job.

She needed to do something about her hunger sooner rather than later.

Personal flesh eating might not be an option until her next body. Could she manage it? She had to. Her closing performance on the last gig had been sickening. It also left her vulnerable to attack at the end of the day. She could not hazard a repeat.

This time she hoped to head off the disaster of hunger demanding her attention when she could least afford it.

She was between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

She felt like she was being crushed from the inside out.

Hera often imagined her hunger as a swollen beast, coiled, knotted up and lodged somewhere between the esophagus and the intestines, destined to come roaring up out of her gut whenever it got good and ready.

She imagined a beast who was not going to take no for answer.

A beast who could be counted on to drive her to self-destruction.

So it was that once again she found herself on her way to a job trying to talk her hunger down.

She had taken to calling her hunger ‘baby’ because she saw it as a kind of jealous lover who wanted all her time, all her attention, all her affection. It also helped her imagine the beast as an evil lover, hair-trigger violent and deadly but still available to seduction.

‘Relax baby, relax. You know we’re in the danger zone here. We get caught feeding ourselves around these parts and the game will be up. The job has got to come first. We go make a good clean kill and an even cleaner getaway and then we chow down. This is a good deal we got this time. We make good on our part and we can feast to our hearts delight. I mean for as long as we bloody well like. Listen, baby, listen, don’t growl at me like that. Let’s use this hunger we got for flesh bone and blood to strengthen our thirst for the battle ahead. Let our great beast roar but not be distracted by him. I know we’ve fed on nothing for a while now but let’s hope and pray we’re done before it begins trying to feed on us. For soon come a kill and after the kill we’ll eat a nice fancy meal off these parts and then we’ll suicide this body and the company will have us resurrected in another one lickety-split.’


The job was way way uptown, in some project buildings besides a place called the Macombs Bridge, within spitting distance, the specs said of Yankee Stadium and The Bronx. The grizzly old man on the D train who she double checked her perfect directions to the Bridge Apartments had told her, ”Soon as you come out of the train station you’re gonna be right in those projects so stay alert, look alive and grow some eyes in the back of your head.’

As if she her s.o.p.was in need of a consultant.


Coming up the station’s stairs Hera could already tell old grizzly was neither lying nor exaggerating. There they stood before her in all their high rise welfare prison glory. The PJs. Your mamas prison pajamas.

Like all public housing projects she’d seen from Algiers to Oakland these seemed windswept and bleak even on the sunniest and stillest of days. This one was likewise was strangely desolate and deserted for all the bodies she knew to be packed in them. An existential no-man’s land set on concrete and lifted to the limit of the city’s air housing rights. She knew projects always seemed emptier than they were. The trick was to see what was lurking on the edge of visibility around the edges.

There was a method Hera had for scouting out camouflaged hostile terrain: give the area a 360 degree scan and pretend you can’t locate a soul anywhere. Absorb the environment in every detail then render the human elements visible, pull them clearly into skulking and hiding view.

Human elements like those junior thugs over there in yonder lobby there, the one with no front doors. Thugs openly engaged in laboriously loading and counting bullets, cleaning barrels and scopes in the lobby’s dying florescent gloom.

As Hera scanned twenty feet in any direction she saw that such life forms abounded here—clustered in twos and threes near bushes, building corners, lampposts. Soldiers, dealers, runners and all kids, juveniles, for the most part.

The kind of kids Hera loved to lump together under the general category of ‘Teenage Armageddon’. Hormonal apocalyptics whose aim she believed was not only to dispense chemical death but to help terrorize and maintain the misery index for those she identified as The Regular People, The Good People, The Hardworking Normal


All the folk who later that evening would be heading home fast from work hoping only to scurry out of the underground and speedily shuffle across wide, angular walkways to their building doors. Praying all along the way they’d make it up to their floor unbloodied,unbowed, unscathed.

‘Lord, just this one more night let me get in that building up those stairs into my multiple lock home Jesus thank you.’’ All they wanted was to burrow deep inside their shelters and dig in tight for the night. Slip past the gauntlet of rude boys and fall to sleep perchance to dream with one eye open. All the while knowing that those wilted flowers of evil they’d passed on the way in, those ragtag bouquets Hera had tagged ‘Teenage Armageddon’ were taking on their night blooming guises—that of African Violets, African violence.

As always, Hera had been given a mantra. Code words especially related to her mission. One phrase that had been intercepted from the opposing team. This time it was: ’I’m here to buy a violin from the man.’


She’d rehearsed the line so many times, delivering it myriad ways, hoping, as always, that she’d wouldn’t have to say any more than that.

Because the minute you got to say more you’re opening yourself to whatever’s waiting on the other side of door number one– some fools disbelief, an ambush or worse of all, that most unwanted byproduct of bad intel–nobody home or an obsolete address.

Given the resident population, this was not the kind of mission where there was much room for deviating from the program. For finding herself having to deal with a bunch of doubting Thomases. All of that Teenage Armageddon over there who surely packed heat, ignited easily with attitude, and who’d likely never believe a slight, wiry bitch could cause them problems.

The manual would call that the wrong way to spend Christmas, even Christmas in the PJs.

Only, sure enough, as soon as the thought was thunk. up rolls a specially elected representative of the Teenage Armagedon crew. He appears suddenly at Hera’s blind side and just eyeballs her in a way that really gets her goat. ‘Just look at him baby, looking at this young fool. Looking a womyn up, looking a womyn down, looking a womyn all around town. Look at him: Rolling his eyes, licking his lips, stuffing his long arms and big manhands down even deeper into his mineshaft-deep black denim pockets.

Look at him:looking for the slightest hint of afraid. But I bet you he’ll move his narrow ass right the fuck along when it becomes clear Hera aint gonna do so much as blink.’

And so it was.

Not that it meant he wasn’t going to tell his higher-ups a strange female was in the courtyard, one who carried herself like she might be packing.

Something in Hera said Run for the building, skip and sprint if you have to, just go. Run like a bitch then tell yourself how, You’re made of some stuff gal. Tell yourself how we’ll be needing more from where that came from later on. But she realized that direction wasn’t coming from her gut but from host. Or what was left of her, survival impulses peeping through the thick veil Hera had draped over her REM phase with chemicals and nanobots

This breach of the host’s interior fourth wall couldn’t be totally disregarded though . It told Hera how much her hunger was about to be making a major comeback.

Hera’s belly took to rippling spasmodically.

Something that seemed like the clatter of cold knives began wildly flip-flopping down there.

A familiar muscular tension was dribbling and rebounding all over her neck and shoulders.

There was an undeniable chilling goose pimpling effect that was out to make itself felt right down to her toes. Frozen fingers would be next and what about that?


Hera knows from frozen fingers.

Frozen fingers were what she found herself clutching when she woke up just before they took her last body away from her. Because in the hours she’d been left to die on a lunar- lit beach in the cold, she had severed that body’s left hand, gnawed on it for sustenance and comfort and then fallen asleep. While she slept the molecular killing machine that she was, a few thousand

beaded and microscopic strands of sentience slithered out of the woman’s mouth.

Unfortunately the host woke up before she did and began screaming while Hera’s machinic form slipped off her tongue.

The host screamed loud and hard and then begun her slow motion process of fast-dying. Hera’s air support finally arrived around that time. Her beaded self was quickly scooped up by the support team then injected into a host-lozenge.

She could have let her former host die alone in that alley but she didn’t. Not this time.

She had made a promise to herself. Never again would she up and leave a body that had served her so well, abandon it to die alone.

And so a new Hera, one full of incomprehensible compassion and grace sat down beside the woman until she finally expired.

It was an autumn day she knew she’s never forget.

One that provided Hera’s remarkable powers of recall the never to be forgotten sound of her delirious, drooling and screeching former host begging Hera to please somehow stop the flow of red red wine hemorragging out of the broken bottle beside her.

A bottle the host thought had fallen or been thrown from a high window to splatter in the alley besides her expiring body, little recognizing that what she identified as a bottle was her own bitten-off arm.

Hera hadn’t always stuck around to comfort them or watch them die ( nor had she always mutilated them either, for that matter).

But doing so had become her only solace of late, a newly triggered concern for the quality of her host’s death experience.

It was truly a novel desire among her kind of nanozombie.

One that had suddenly shown up late last year for no good reason she could discern.

Why now, after so many years of contract killing with other peoples bodies?

More than likely it was related to her programming, this embrace of another’s fleeting mortality. She suspected it meant she was soon to be retired herself and was intended to soften the ride.


From where else could these feelings have come–this errant, incipient desire to make her hosts curtain call be as love-filled as possible? Given the nature of her business, this was as close to angelic as Hera figured to get.

Especially since she hadn’t otherwise developed any new scruples around killing in the bargain.

Waiting around with the dying did have the benefit of making her feel like something human, or at least like what she felt humans to be—a messy tangle of emotional attachments and anxieties.

Hera cherished the experience for that alone.

She hoped the extreme calm she displayed in the face of her hosts demise was truly a comfort.

Hera’s makers had programmed into her a healthy respect for the glorious after life of human beings.

She hoped to impart that knowledge to her fearful and trembling hosts, fast aware as they were of being mere seconds away from using up their earthly time.

And having spent probably a lifetime unaware that there were other so many more lifetimes out there her soul might explore before all was said and done, Hera hoped they’d learn from her soothing touch that death was to be understood as a new beginning and not as ‘The End.’


    Hera knew better than to talk to the dying about the actual afterlife though.

She had been taught to believe that only after coming out on the other side of the light and after many howling nights in the dreadful realm of Bardo would the host be ready to reckon with the facts.

Only after being forced to endure dark nights with other terrified spirits would they grasp what kind of living was possible after a violent death.

Hera hoped her presence eased their trip to other side nonetheless.

That was then.
And This is now:
A present from Christmas in the PJs:
More Teenage armageddon, this time at twelve clock high.

Hera’s mission beckons.

Hera wants only to answer it’s call and not waste time

entertaining or wasting the local hoodlum population.

Building number six was where her assignment was holed up.

Unlike other buildings in the project compound’s courtyard, number six was heavily decorated for the Christmas season, sporting more ornaments in its lobby in fact than armament-carrying youth.

Strobing bulbs glittered and slithered down the exterior brick, wrapped around a rainbow of glowing glass and insulated plastic ivy.

A manger scene was somehow surviving on the lawn too.

A pack of hormonal apocalyptics who’d somehow themselves avoided martyrdom rotated between buildings five, seven and nine but for reasons unknown avoided six.

Guard duty was life’s reward to them for being quicker with the Glock than the brainstem but something told them to stay away from six too.

Were they bad boys? Sure, but certainly not beyond redemption in Hera’s eyes. Even if they were appeared interested in seeing who could obtain the worse reputation in the PJs. Socially, emotionally,intellectually.


Hera knew they’d been reared too far removed from much in the way of viable alternatives.

Suggestions as how they might pursue a change in occupation would seem laughable, even to her.

You might as well tell them go to Mars as tell them to try a life unrelated to being a ghetto criminal.

Any souls salvaged here, Hera reckoned, would have to be highly self-motivated, highly self-medicated and highly delusional all at once.

Among the ranks there would always be those rare ones who’d figure how to put all the pieces together. Gather all the necessary fragments of the truth necessary to overcome their tragic circumstances and early death. She’d met more than few of them in her time with the company. All had come from PJs to not so different from the one whose grounds she dared to tread upon now.


Hera loved the way a body could come back to the same PJs for years thinking they were seeing the exact same faces they’d seen their last time there. Until it hit you that those faces who looked to be dead ringers for old ones were just their younger kith and kin.

So a body might ask after so and so just to be polite, only to find out so and so was doing a 25 to life bid or was dead or nearly dead from having served their country and come back in more than one piece.

A body would then also be informed, ‘Now see that boy over there, the one packing heat and prisonyard muscle? well you know he’s old dead so and so’s baby brother, sisters husbands kid from they first marriage’ and so forth.”


Looking at todays collection of the quick and the living dead Hera amused herself thinking, If there’s enough time, on my way out, I’ll pull one of them aside. Whichever one seems intelligent enough looking to be preserved and exploited as a host. Offer him some alternative career options. Zombie assassin for the state, that kind of thing.’

She felt it was the least she could do since she figured anything had to beat living and dying a typical nigga death in the PJs. Such generosity always

strangely seemed possible around the time of a kill– any kindness, any benevolence, as long as it could be done with the quickness.

Who knows? Maybe this time she really would take a bad boys or two out with her.

Drag them away to sunny So Cal for a day and fully exploit their bodies before the company came knocking.

Or take them someplace like Rio where the sheer danger of walking around in an unauthorized body would make her escape seem that much more delicious. The danger only matched by the pleasure that would come from defying the company.

Hera waded into the lobby of Building Six right before an exiting mob of civilians on their way to work. They surged out but already looked haggard and anxious in anticipation of their rush hour commute. She got on the elevator in Building Six before she realized another Teenage Armageddon rep had flown through the door right behind her. Swooped in actually. Looking for all the world in her peripheral vision like wraith and vulture rolled into one.

She reached for her knife, hoping to stab first and ask questions later but Teenage Armageddon spoke first. “You’re here to see a man about a violin, correct?” Hera took a deep breath, prepared to lose an arm and grace upper Harlem with the sight of an inferno, but before initializing that countdown Teenage Armageddon spoke again: “I’m from the company. Page sent me. Said to tell you stop before you do something we’ll all regret. Page sent me to alert you. He’s withdrawing company authorization from this job. The job is freelance now. You’re free to go through with it, even track down the money, if you like but the company’s involvement has been, as of this conversation, officially withdrawn.”


Hera immediately knew what that meant. It meant if she was captured or killed the company would disavow any knowledge of her actions or existence. It also meant any vendetta which grew out of the hit would be settled with her, not with the company. It meant this was now a mercenary gig.


Meaning she’ have to go collect from the client herself, meaning she’d be stuck rotting in this body until another assignment came in.

All in all, things were not looking good.

Hera was pissed, dizzy and she realized, suddenly deaf.

She saw more than heard Teenage Armageddon throw her a question. She heard him barely. Something about the conservation of energy clause in her contract.

She didnt have to hear much more than a word to know that Page’s flunky was asking what state of combustion she’s in . Hera lets him know: ‘I’m fourth stage. About ready to jump out of my skin if you must know. You tell Page that, okay? Tell Page that when he finally got word to me to abort the gig I was fourth stage, about to jump out of my fucking skin. I also haven’t eaten all day and when I get off this elevator I may not know where my life ends and my incendiaries begin. Tell Page, I’ve got no choice here because his timing sucks. That this eleventh hour shit came way too late for me to be calling anything off.

He know’s how Im built. He knows the deal. He knows how I work. There’s a beast I’ve been keeping in a dungeon all night and day. The beast needs to be fed so I can maintain my sanity on this job. There is no gentle way to say it, to do it, or to be it. I am of the flame. I shall begat the fire. I’ll be getting off on 19. I suggest you get off on 12 and take the motherfucking stairs to the basement’.


So on 12 Teenage Armageddon books from the elevator, his shuffling feet no poor substitute for the proverbial first thing smoking. Those feets won’t hardly fail him nowHera thinks. Soon as he’s gone though Hera realizes she’s got questions no one can possibly answer for her. What if he’s lying to me? And who’s betraying who here? Was Page betraying her on the clients behalf or was Page betraying the client? Either way it was all politics again. All the trifling shit that never had nothing to do with her job, her simple part in the scheme of the thing. All the trifling shit that was never so clean and simple as the business.

The only question was whether the set-up was coming from the front or the back end of the job though from where she standing that hardly mattered.

She had just been fucked out of a good paying no- brainer of a company gig. Now she had to think like one of them, like a groveling political animal, like a Page who she had never so despised as much as she did right now.

Page’s messenger boy had just handed her a pink slip. One that came with a unspoken suggestion she exercise her contracts suicide clause. An escape clause, really, for the company should any of her friends and relations come snooping around.

Teenage Armagedoon probably would have tried to kill her if she hadn’t let him think she was going to do it herself. Go head up to the roof, do the honorable thing and go airborne over the PJs. Light the sky up like a one-woman Chinese new year. But there was always time for that. Right know she needed a plan.The target she knew couldn’t be changed. Her whole body was still aching, as programmed, to bring down the target.


She knew she didn’t have to kill the

target so much as decimate his contaminated living space.

But if this target was game and handled himself with enough finesse he could even be brought in and possibly bartered with down the line.

The target could be swallowed up into the current fucked up state of things, and if he was destined to be as lucky as that Biblical Jonah who got spit out of the leviathans belly, coat all shiny and bright, halo of fire around his eyes, things might work out better for both of them, him and Hera, all the way around.

Of course the target could also cold refuse to be brought into the game but like the real Hera’s daddy used to say, You don’t ask, you won’t know.Stepping out of the elevator onto the 19th floor Hera found herself right in front of the target’s apartment. Some notion to pause stopped herand from rapping above his keyhole. Her once confident hand suddenly became doubtful, hesitant.

Something in her didn’t savor as she typically did that charged moment right before she rapped gently on a target’s doors, hand

suspended in mid-air, ready to smoke them as soon as they appeared at the peephole.

This had become a new game entirely. So let’s have a look at this target and let the farce began. She knocked, heard him shuffling to the door.

I’m here to see the man about a violin’, she shouted,

‘Best offer so far has been $1300. You prepared to double that?’

He’d answered her codephrase correctly.

Now he just needed to seal the deal and open his door. Only it was the door behind her which opened instead. Hera swirled about at the sound of it.The man who stood there looked exactly like every picture of Albert Einstein she’d ever seen only a wee bit browner.

‘You cant be too careful up in here nowadays you know.I had to devise some safeguards.

They just failed you miserably old man.

I was sent here to kill you then got told in the elevator my company was no longer under obligation to satisfy the agreement. I have however been programmed to

detonate this arm in the next 30 seconds. Therefore I need you to jump outside when I step in. You’re an old man but you don’t look like you’re ready to die or too feeble to jump if you have to, and believe me, you have to.

When you blow up, what happens to my neighbors below?

Nothing if they’re not home at 8 in the morning. Luck of the fucking draw is what happens to them. Ready to jump old man?

Hera leans in across the threshold and points her arm at the ceiling.

She hops into the old man’s room and he hops out. Then the fun begins.

From 20 miles away people will report of seeing the fire-crowned roof of a skyhigh public housing building blast 50 feet in the sky.

They report of seeing it arc out and then come back to earth like a drizzling meteor, all small whisks of fire streaking from red to black. A sharpeyed few will even report the sight of an old man being dragged down the side of the three story building and then led

across the courtyard by the good hand of a wildeyed and skinny woman whose stumparm was aflame, aimed and raging at the heavens.



Just one lousy message. The full bounty of a seven hour lag between voicemail checks had yielded just one lousy mesage. Predictably it was from Arzvenark. (Of course.) Once again recommending yet another disc of passive-aggressive and depressive laptop music.

Sounds certain to pacify the already down and defeated and surely describable by some oxymoronic subgenre label like German dub.

Arzvenark had been a roll lately when it came to digging up this kind of stuff.

Barney was sick of the stuff quite frankly but because he loved his friend, and knew how much he treasured their connectedness through exotic sounds,he indulged his buddy’s file-sharing.


Barney was actually really more interested in hearing how Arznevark’s daughter Shala was holding up after her divorce.

What kind of life she was piecing together for herself? Had she made any new friends to help whittle away the long Icelandic nights now that she and her husband had split up?

Twas a season for breakups in Barney’s world.

A constellation of broken homes and broken hearts was forming around their loose little circle.

So what do people listen to when they feel all alone and dangerous to themselves? Introspective dance music decided Arznevark.

The sound of falling bodies under arrest.

Music that approximated that feeling you get in a really happening club when everyone is dancing but you. When the whirligig world has sped up and you just keep slowing down before you finally sit down and began observing from your perch.

Taking note of all around you from inside a shrunken cave of silence, withdrawal and apathy. Holding on to some terrible sense of being arrested.


Barney is a watcher, ‘quite the looker’ he jokes about himself to friends not in the business.

He’s very good at his job.

It’s what the company pays him a decent enough salary for.

With being a watcher however comes the knowledge that somebody’s always watching Barney too. Somebody somewhere is always watching him at his watching and receiving as decent a salary as he does for his snooping too.

When you have no god your god is counter surveillance and its first disciple, Professional Paranoia.

Barney knows he’s taken every precaution and also knows they’re all for nought because the company’s counter-countersurveillance is likely so far beyond known current science as to be beyond undetectable.

Barney knows that just because he’s done the math doesn’t mean they haven’t found some new math he isn’t even aware of yet. In fact Barney is certain they are onto him because he knows

they’re always around, always watching but  he can’t detect them anywhere.


This is simply how the world works:everybody has to be monitored by somebody sometime, especially the Barneys of this world.

Those monitors in whom the company has invested so much? You better just believe somebody’s monitoring the monitors, buddy. We’re talking a universal truth of this age, dude.

What Barney has in fact decided is that the surveillance technology is most likely in the music Arznevarh keeps sending. Him. Not that he suspects Arznevark but there are no unsecured channels. So they could easily be there in the dusty bleeps and glitches the music is composed of, secretly recording every little move he makes and every breath he takes. Reporting back to his superiors via encoded rhythm and melody. Highlighting his weak points, his stress points, his probable breaking points.

But enough about you, right Barney? Because hey, that looks like serious incoming you’ve got on your tracking relay. The girl they call Hera is on the move with the old


Her thermal signature is unmistakable, ablaze  like a wildcat oilfield.

Barney can only imagine the panic and havoc she’s causing.

A woman with a burning arm held up to the sky stiffly and moving fast through the rush hour train system offering neither explanations nor apologies, brusquely barreling through the cars like she and the geezer she has in tow got no kind of time to waste on civilized decorum.

Her aim is to make sure she goes where she supposed to before she burns out. No detours, no sudden and unanticipated changes in direction. Barneys job is to monitor that journey to it’s conclusion. Which is supposed to mean until her thermal signature turns blue. There’s no way she can know Barney is out there, scoping and scanning her all the way. Even though it has lately become his sense that every one he tracks can feel his eyes and his devices on them and that they are not pleased. He’d always been told its one of the hazards of the profession. Gets so you can’t ever get enough downtime to shake the feeling you need to exit the field before it takes out your head.

Nobody in his experience has ever left gracefully though.

They’ve had to be escorted away, sometimes forcefully, and always after several warnings, probations, forced sabbaticals.

It’s just a matter of time before even the best operators show signs of cracking up.

Knowing all this Barney still decides that he has to place himself in the path of this Hera creature and see if she recognizes him on sight or by scent or by his aura.

Just briefly allow her to catch sight of him is what he’s thiinking.

If he can just manage a few fractions of a second in her presence and he’ll know for sure if a man like him could exist for her on even a submerged subconscious level.

He knows this is how it begins for most of those who provoke the company to command early retirement. He also knows he cannot continue to function in fear. The fear that this Hera isnt headed anywhere near her programmed destination but straight to his supposedly well-hidden coordinates.


Hera was surprised to find the old man was as spry and durable as he was.

He claimed to be a marathon runner but no marathon prepared you for the course they were on—in and out of subway tunnels and sewer shafts, dashing across three and four rows of train tracks, climbing onto platforms and up power company repair ladders mounted in open manhole covers.

They had been holding to each other so tightly for hours now that they felt like a single mobile unit and moved accordingly.

Time was not on her side and her options were nil.

She had to turn herself into a birthing center before the next time she combusted but that was as certain a death sentence as waiting to explode.

The only course that seemed to offer some flexibility was turning herself and her services over to a rival company. In Manhattan that meant Gauss, which meant they’d torture her before and after they heard her offer.

A sucky option as options go, but at least one with some wiggle room.What she could not escape was the feeling that she was being directed to annihilate herself

whatever course she took.

It came with the territory of being a semi-programmed creature. Even in what appeared your most spontaneous moments you always doubted you were really the one writing the script.
She knew for example that her memories of being in the womb, of being birthed were hardly real, that she had really been ‘activated’, ‘switched-on’, like junk DNA, rather than hatched.

Yet because those were the most visceral memories her consciousness contained she knew anything else she felt deeply must be false, implanted, manipulated, distorted or reprogrammed.

There was a logic implicit in this particular operation that went beyond her spiritual anxieties though. The company clearly did not want to kill her or the old man. They clearly wanted her to keep him alive but be able to report her as a rogue to their client. Or at least their original client since she assumed there was now a new client the company needed to remain a shadow partner until the old man was safely wherever he was supposed to be. All of which led her to opt for Gauss.


Barney envisions meeting the girl on the street, far away from the safety of his machines and his digital panopticon vantage point.

In his picture of their eventual meeting Barney makes a boo boo upon sight of her. Craps in his pants at the sight of her.

Even so he works up enough nerve to pull a gun on her, tell her she’s under citizens arrest. The knife she expertly drive between his bushy eyebrows make him stumble back over a garbage can while clutching the blade handle sticking out of his spurting forehead. He loves the idea of it: a clean kill. Made by a longterm subject of his surveillance.

What better way could there be for him to die?

As long as he gets to tells her how much he loves her, how much he’s loved them all really. Somehow through his stuttering eyelids he’ll look at

her blankly, and appear shocked she mistook his designs on her for anything but love.


The man had been more than patient and now she was more than famished too.

Lovely in this light, his noble profile and her wildeyed stare not quite canceling each other out.

People lose their sense of dignity goes before their sense of style if they got any to lose.

This was not going to be easy to pull off this escape from mortality without a parachute.

No cavalry on the way, no knights in shining saucers come down to save her this time, no emergency time to call her own.

What a waste this would be if there was no more she to pass through a hundred more bodies and even more murders.

Who would sing of her deeds or pass on her art to the next generation should memory fail her.

Greater and lesser beings than she had all had to eventually recognize mortlity for what it was – a one way ticket to palookaville.

To the dirt and the bugs youre just another meal however great you find your life and consciousness to have been.

The thing she was beginning to realize, and had no choice really but to recognize, under the circumstances, was that all the women she’d ever been were also screaming their way up and out of her consciousness.

Meaning that she’d been programmed to cannibalize herself to keep  from going crazy trying to filter out the murderous intentions and murder accusations from all those raging voices.


She had silenced and repressed them forever but they hadn’t really gone anywhere but just below the surface of her persona and now that she was dying inside of herself like any wounded animal they were rallying around the wrong done to them and setting up something of a courthouse in her deepest interior.

A place for some old style frontier justice and judgement, ”not this truth and reconciliation crap”, one of them commented.

The voices in her head didn’t really bother her so much –she’d imagined them for so

long that they’d become a part of her guilt complex.

Hera had even remembered their names and professions enough to know who was talking when and about what life that had been taken from her.


She had chosen the complexity of mind and feeling of women, preferred it actually, but she would never know whether that was because that’s how she was wired or whether her own complexity and her own sense of self-consciousness compelled her to.

How had she been gendered by her maker? It was a question she might get an answer to if they ever let her back into the company.

The old man was too weak to stand.
How had he become a biomorphic safehouse for the mollyflockers they both worked for?

A daughter had gone to prison for them, as insurance against him ratting them out they had to be able to have him do a few jobs more, become further implicated.

”It was so unnecessary” he told Hera. His daughter he felt, had been revolutionary martyr material since


She was 13 and had grown to confuse her life with that of a succession of doomed heroines from the womanist reading list left behind by her mother– Sylvia Plath, Anne Frank, Joan of Arc, Assata Shakur, Patty Hearst.

There was most of all the diary her mother had left from her days as an info-mule. A carrier of illicit and untraceable biomorphic devices and data woven into the DNA of the various fetuses she had carried in her womb for them . Them and their doomed little war against the enemy they never referred to as anything but ‘The White Bodypolitic’, an enemy that never wanted to destroy them so much as subsume them and their technology within its own bosom of unholy and unnatural desires.

Hera herself he suspected was one of the byproducts of their absorption. Several stages beyond info-mules would be artificial intelligences like hers that could parasitically impregnate the brains of host-bodies by ingestion or inhalation. ‘Soul-eaters’, knew Hera, was the internal code-word for the project that had engineered her into being.


Strangely enough, it was only now that she realized why the oddest parts of her prgramming, her cannibalism and her conscience had been written in as control mechanisms, stringent means for making her dependent upon the company for corrective and invasive psychic surgery.

Now the company was just leaving her to die on the streets.

And to be picked apart by whom she wondered? And to what end?

Particularly since the technology that gave her life would be unretrievable once she lost consciousness. Obviously she had been set up and sacrificed on whatever altar the virtual gods had created for obsolete AI’s.

So this is mortality, eh? Boy does it suck.

Knowing that you’re going to die and knowing that you’ll be doing it all alone no matter how many other voices are sharing the rooms in your head with you.


My Darling Gremlin (a play by Greg Tate)




A Play By Greg Tate

Dedicated to the memory of Phillip Brown, The Original Mister Danny Love

Originally commissioned by Laura Grier  for HARLEM STAGE’S  NEWVOICES NEW VISIONS SERIES as a collaboration with Lawrence Butch Morris and a small orchestra of six musicians. Original production May 1993, Aaron Davis Hall. Later produced at The Kitchen in 1995.



Mister Danny Love

Virtual Love Goddess/Toni Cade

Dreadlock Guitar Man


The principals, SEBASTIAN, VERDREE and MISTER DANNY LOVE are all in their early to mid 30s and are natives of Oakland California.

VERDREE runs a day care center and nightschool for working mothers in Watts.

MISTER DANNY LOVE is a jazz cabaret singer who lives in San Francisco.

SEBASTIAN is a successful New Age Guru based in La Jolla.

SEBASTIAN’s voice should be calm and soothing though her body language can be as extravagant as an Ailey dancer. She is a perfected blend of Zen and funk.VERDREE is earthy, effusive, volatile, vulnerable, slightly neurotic. MISTER DANNY LOVE is a stage animal. He is always ON. Onstage, on the mic, on the nut.


The action takes place in the Nevada/ Utah desert near an abandoned nuclear bomb testing site. The trio are riding across the country on a bicycle built for three. The bike should be designed in a surrealist manner. It doesn’t have to work. Melting wheels and a furry frame, for example, are fine. Upstage right is the neon lit doorway of a shotgun shack. Downstage center is a bomb crater that begins to glow when first seen by the players.

The lighting should be suggestive of early morning in the desert, an evocative mixture of pre dawn blues and firey dawn reds.\

When the house opens SEBASTIAN will be seen chanting, lighting incesnse and annointing the stage with holy water. Sometimes she’ll throw it over her shoulders.

Her general vibe is MOTHER OF THE UNIVERSE.


VERDREE and MISTER DANNY LOVE are asleep near the bike.

SEBASTIAN pulls out her diary after a bit and begins writing an entry.

VIRTUAL LOVE GODDESS appears in the doorway of the shotgun shack.

VLG glides over towards SEBASTIAN and begins reading aloud over her shoulder.

SEBASTIAN seems vaguely aware and amused by her prescence but pays her little mind, focusing more intently on her own dialogue with her diary.

She and VLG begin to both read aloud from the diary, slightly out of sync.




August 6 2027. Lovelock Nevada. Three days ago we finally left Los Angeles. Our trip was called off three times before it finally happened. After the third abortion Mister Danny Love was too through with us. He accosted me and Verdree on the handball court. Practically screaming. Just like a bitch. He said enuff is enuff divas. Put up or shut up. If a man isnt going to be granted his dying wish be kind enough to let him know. If you want to watch me wither away at least have the decency to be upfront about it. Don’t try and play me out cause I aint the one. And so on. Was he working my last nerve or what? As if he was the only friend death and disease had ever threatened to steal away from us. Can we talk about martrydom for a minute? Can we talk about O the divine rights of the last sufferer? Mister Danny Love doesn’t want a last supper. Mister Danny Love wants us all to cross over this great land from sea to shining sea. Being good girlfriends me and Verdree say, okay, what the fuck? The jokes on us though for assuming Mister Danny Love wanted to make this trek by car and not on a bicycle built for three. Under any circumstances the trip already meant extreme sacrifice for me and Verdree. She has a daycare center to run and a teenage daughter to raise. I have my disciples and devotees. Satisfying Mister Danny Love’s last request meant putting the wishes of Miss One ahead of the needs of the many. Before I could leave I required a sign from my ancestors that it was cool to leave. When no sign appeared I began to wonder if no sign was indeed the sign that it was kool to leave. They say the world is going to end in fire next time but they’ve been wrong before. I say its going to end in grey clouds of indecision. Rolling dustbowls of ambivalence and confusion. Passengers listen! This is your captain speaking! The end is not near! We are merely experiencing turbulence as we establish a holding pattern high over armageddon!


(SEBASTIAN hears her fellow riders stirring. She stops writing and goes over to wake them up with soft kicks to their booties. As VERDREE and MISTER DANNY LOVE awaken, VLG glides back through the doorway of the shotgun shack. She impishly watches the action from her perch there. VERDREE commences the morning with some stretch exercises. SEBASTIAN returns to her chanting and rituals. MISTER DANNY LOVE sings from Hendrix’ ‘Wind Cries Mary’ )

                                                            MISTER DANNY LOVE

‘After all the clowns have gone to bed You can hear happiness roll down the street Somewhere a queen is weeping Somewhere a king has no wife’

I dreamed about our old homestead again last night. When I woke up I realized the dream was true. Once our house was full of men who loved other men. And then there were none.


Its like a ghost town up in that bitch now. When was the last time you went back for visit Sebastian.


Last time I was in Oaktown was about a year ago. Back around tax time. Claudel and I had some business to settle around Big Mama’s will. Jeffrey came over later. We sat around yakking for a while. Tried not to creep up into nostagia for the good old days.


You did better than me chile. Last summer, against my better judgement, I drove up for a party Jeffrey threw. Big big mistake. God it was so damn sad. For everybody who was there you counted five more who were pushing up daisies. Danny heard from Jeffrey how hysterical I got. Toni Cade had to drag me out before they put me out. If it hadnt been a party I might have kept it together. Maybe. I don’t know. How you supposed to party with the same people you spent five years going to the cemetery with? It got me so depressed. It was so damn fake. And you know I don’t do fake well.


(MISTER DANNY LOVE starts preparing a light continental breakfast from his knapsack. Croissant, grapes, jam, long stemmed flutes for OJ, the works.)

Things got even worse on the way home. Toni Cade stops at Mickey Ds over in Long Beach. Right before shes about to give her order in the drive through some young nigga with a sawed off tries to roll up and jack the landcruiser. Toni Cade went into reverser and backed up on him. The boy got off a shot, liked to scare the shit out of me. Toni Cade goes forwad then backs up over him again. Oh my god. Do either of you know what it feels like to run over a human body? The worst of it was Toni Cade was so coldblooded about the whole thing. Like shed done it before. I was in shock. Couldn’t even talk to my child the rest of the way home. I was sick for days. I just kept thinking I know things are bad out here but what have they done to my babygirl?


(SEBASTIAN, visibly vexed by this last comment looks disgustedly at VERDREE, rolls her eyes and sucks her teeth before turning away.)

Last thing you imagine when the child is nursing at your nipples is her one day running somebody over on purpose. You imagine her growing up to be. so many things but a coldblooded murderer isn’t one of them. I used to be so scared for her. Now I’m scared of her too.


MISTER DANNY LOVE (tossing VERDREE a banana)

Black to the bone your home is my home. Hey babygirl, welcome to the terrordome.

                                                       SEBASTIAN (whipping out roadmaps)

Listen up lil’ chillun. We’re at the crossroads. We can go straight through Yosemite Park or we can go to Vegas first. Whats it gonna be? Do we want to stopover in casino land and have some fun or do we want to keep these big wheels rolling?


Stopping in Vegas is not my idea of fun. Yu-ukk!


                                                        MISTER DANNY LOVE

I never got to do Vegas. I think that makes Vegas a must. Big wheels keep on turning proud Mary can keep on burning after Mister Danny Love wrestles several one armed bandits and exchanges bon mots with Don Rickles in the Sands hotel.

Oh so youre a highroller now! And a comedian too. A big spender who thinks he’s got jokes. Look dude you want to throw good money away you need to throw some my way. Especially considering how much business I’m losing on this trip to justify my love.


You know the last time I was in Vegas I got arrested for soliciting. That was not cute.


False arrest right? Pigs don’t know when to stop.


False arrest? No, not exactly…..


What? No way. Stop lying Sebastain. Are you serious? You telling me you sued to hook in Vegas? Get the f outta here. You are not serious. I mean I always knew you were a slut but you never told me you were a straight up ho. For real? Square biz?

I’m talking square business to ya baby.



Girl stop yanking my chain. Earth to earth mother, hello? You a garden tool? Did you have a mack daddy? Were you his number one? His number one bottom bitch?


C’mon Verdree be serious. You’re talking to the kid. Could you see me turning all my hard earned money over to some fool who called himself a ‘mack daddy’? You know the only way Id be a ho is if I was pimping myself. We all know who’s ‘The Mack’.

                                                    MISTER DANNY LOVE

‘I am so swift so ethereal so divine. I mean I can fly like a bird in the sky. Lets welcome Miss Nikki Giovanni in the house y’all. You know I do believe I feel a song coming on. Or perhaps even a solilquy.



So what else is new?

                                                       MISTER DANNY LOVE

Allow me, if I may, to pass a note to our musical director. May I? Surely I may. Allow the band time to look over the new arrangements and I’ll take this moment to wax lyrical over our state bird, the cockatoo. ‘There was a boy, a very strange enchanted boy….


                                                      VERDREE (whipping out her binoculars)

Aw shit. Here it comes. Vegas coming fast up on thehorizon just like I pictured it. Tacky ass lounge singers and everythang. Why cant it all be a mirage. Why cant it all just go away?


(The bomb crater lights up suddenly then blinks out again.)


Yo yo Sebastian—whats up with that big hole over there in the desert. They do construction out here?


More than likely that’s a bomb crater leftover from government nuclear test. They did a lot of those out here in the 50s and 60s. Back then everybody living downwindgot sprayed with radiation poisoning. I ve seen pictures of radiation clouds hovering over farms, hospitals, schoolhouses. You think the government cared? Hell no. If you lived around these parts you were volunteered up as an atomivc guinea pig.


For real? Government did that to white folks too. Damn white man really is the devil just like the Honorable Elijah Muhammad always said he was. You know what though? I’d like to get a closet look at that crater. See what a nuke can do. How about you Mister Danny Love, you up for that?

                                                     MISTER DANNY LOVE
I think youre just trying to avoid Vegas girlfriend. I hope you know ”youll never get to heaven if you break my heart.”

You sure you want to get close to a bomb crater , Verdree? Arent you worried about the effects of residual radiation. Might make you sterile. Cause your hair to fall out.


 I aint worried about jack if you aren’t Miss-Macrobiotic-My-Body-is-my-temple. You wouldn’t even be here if that was an issue. So don’t try your scare tactics on me. And yo just remembered that prostitution is legal in the state of Nevada so you’re about one ho’ ass lie.

I plead the 5th. You want to go snoop around a hole in the ground, we’ll go snoop around a hole in the ground.

(The trio simulates riding over to the crater. The crater lights up permanently).

                                                      MISTER DANNY LOVE

Nothing more invigorating than a light spin in themorning. By the way Sebastian did you tell Verdree what your Aunt Truth said whn she noticed your nose, tongue and lip rings at Big Mama funeral?



I never told you that one Verdree? No I guess that was  after we’d stopped communicating, that spell in there. So there we were at the reception when Truth looked at me like I had lost my mind. She said, ‘Uh-huh, just what you need—another hole in your head.”

Truth said that? See, Truth speaks the truth. Named her after Sojourner herself so she just got to call it like she sees it. That’s some Truth for your ass Sebastian. Damn I miss your krazy aunts Sebastian. I kinda missed your whole family period. That really was the worst part about us falling out you know? Too bad we still werent on speaking terms last time everybody got together. When yall having another reunion anyway?


Can I recover from the last one first?



That was three years ago. Big Mama used to have em. every year.


This is my family we’re talking about. How ar yougonna have a problem with when I decide to see em? They’re trying to turn me in to Big Mama The Sequel too– except I aint going out like that.

Have you told your family about your disciples and devotees—your spiritual calling, any of that good stuff?

Why so they can tell me what kind of room I’m being reserved in the 9th circle of hell? They’ll get the news soon enough. They all read the National Enquirer religiously.


                                                               MISTER DANNY LOVE
How do you two feel about road games? I used to love playing those with my brothers when the family went on long drives. My favorite was identifying license plates from outside of our state.

I never went on no road trips when I was a kid. Didn’t. go on my first road trip until I owned a car and that was after I got married to Toni Cades father Malik and the trip was up to San Quentin where as well all know Malik was serving time for a cop killing he did not committ but would have gladly confessed to if he had as he wisely told the judge. Simple motherfucker.


                                                               MISTER DANNY LOVE

Hey group Ive got a game we can all relate to. Whats the strangest name you ever heard of some black folks branding their child with?

I’ve always thought Sebastian was rather kinky in a fly sort of way. But I grew up with a Black Elvis. Elvis Mayberry. Big bojack negro from Richmond. Everybody used to call him Mayberry RFD because he was so country. And in college I used to run with a sister named Helga. Helga D from the South Bronx. Word up Yo.

                                                                  MISTER DANNY LOVE

Nice Afro Tuetonic twist there. You know Ive always avored the gender benders myself. Fro instance I once knew a boy named Sue and a girl named Michael. On the borderline of that tendency was a brother named Pepper Valerian and a sister we all knew as Andy.



I once knew a Me Shell who spelled that M-e-s-h-e-l-l.


Was she a bombshell or a cowrie shell?

Little bit of both. She had a hard head and a fragile. ego. Virgo, chile. Tough nut to crack.


Okay. Ripleys Believe it or not. I recently had a. pregnant client tell me she wanted to name her daughter Vagina. When I told her what a vagina was she told me.” Oh no Miss Verdreee, that aint no vagina,  that’s a pussy. ” Now what about African names besides the obvious ones like Kenya, Accra, Yoruba and Ashanti.



Lets keep Africa out of the game. African names are too easy. Besides real African names can hardly compare with the names we come up with because we think they sound African. Like uh Digga Bubba.

                                                               MISTER DANNY LOVE

No they didn’t. Not to a wee tender child.


Okay no African names. But what about your dyed in.  the mudcloth Africans who give their kids wackass Anglo names. Like my man Richard Bruce Mfufu?  Or

you take my girlfriend Meri who’s Ghanian. When she was born the child was named Mildred on account of her father wanted to name her after one of his sisters, Mildred or Scholastica.

                                                               MISTER DANNY LOVE

I do believe Scholastica wins the prize. I feel a song. coming on or perhaps even a manifesto. If you girls would accompany me Id like to attempt a rendition of ‘Life During Wartime’ by Mister David Byrne and the Talking Heads.

                                                          {THE TRIO all sings)

‘This aint no party/ This aint no disco /This aint no. fooling around/ This ain’t no mudd club or CBGBs  aint got no time for that now.’

(By the end of this rousing chorus they have arrived at the bomb crater. They walk cautiously around the edge now glowing with tha post nuclear halo.)



One nuclear test site coming up.

What do you think Sebastian? Was this ground zero or did the bomb blow up in the air like that Hiroshima joint?


Some were exploded above ground and some were exploded underground. Didn’t make much difference if you were living downwind Verdree.

                                                      MISTER DANNY LOVE
I love looking into the abyss. I love it even more when the abyss wonks back. ‘Giving you more love and more joy than age or time can ever destroy My love will be so true take about a hundred lifetimes to wear it down tear it down. ”My my my. What a majestic

monument to man’s powers of self destruction. I once knew a boy whose face looked like that. One very tragic case of acne. We used to call him ‘Jabba The Pit’. Isn’t it funny how being a victim doesn’t render any of us incapable of being a victimizer? On the contrary being a victim often makes us pine for some poor soul we can terrorize into unconditional love. I remember how my father reacted when he recognized that all three of his sons had grown up to be homosexual men. He didn’t reject us of course. No, he took it out on our mother. Not in some crude physical manner. That wasn’t his style. But the psychological torture he devised was so exquisitely malevolent. From that day on he was only affectionate towards her when they were out in public among friends. At home he became a wall of indifference. You don’t know how much my mother loved to talk to that man. When we were growing up the house resounded with the sound of their voices. They’d talk about opera, film, literature, faculty rows, family gossip, you name it. At night we’d sit up in our beds and listen to go on for hours. Sharing their minds with one another. Daddy knew what he was denying her. More than his attention it was the pleasure she derived from seeing herself reflected in his mind. I know how much that hurt her. We still talk about it my brothers and I. And we wonder if ever realized how much he hurt himself. Losing access to her mind and her music. What a fool. Thought he was poisoning her when he was really poisoning himself. Poisoning the same air he had to breathe same as everybody else. How do you stop loving someone after thirty five years?



Only men can do that. Stop loving somebody just because they’re not in love with them anymore. Women are cursed when it comes to love. We can leave em but we can never stop loving em. Not the ones we really love. Not even the oness we think we would be better off dead.



In my case especially those.


Like you ever see an ex of yours with his new piece and they’re doing all the things for them they could never get it together to do for you? You could kill em right?

                                                             MISTER DANNY LOVE

I know that song. That’s called love rearing its you-gly head.

Now is that love talking or is that your ego talking?

Honey that is the sound of love unloading a tech nine clip on your ego at point blank range. Last time it happened to me I was like Darryl Hannahs death scene in Blade Runner. It was not pretty and it was not cute.


                                                         MISTER DANNY LOVE

”Love will treat you like a faucet. Turn you off an on/ When you think your love is right there baby. Its up and gone.”

(SEBASTIAN begins unpacking her ritual oils candles and incense to spiritually cleanse the area.)

Now that we’ve got as minute Sebastian I wonder if you’d mind explianing this new rreligion of yours again. I feel like Im still in the dark about certain details. In fact I don’t quite get it at all.

As I told you before Verdree my calling is not a religion. It’s a spiritual growth program for those who havent learned to properly honor their ancestors.


Not a religion? That’s not what they said in the. National Enquirer child. Is it true what they’re saying about you and Nicole? I heard you had the poor girl on her knees begging for mercy.

Bitch betta had my money. Cause you know I takes no. shorts and pulls more stunts than Bruce Willis. But seriously Verdree. Im just doing what Ive always done. Providing a service for those in need.


Oh yeah I got your service angle baby.And I know. what you do for those in need. But run that part past me about the impotent white boys again.



It’s the infertile white boys I treat Verdree, not the impotent ones. It’s white male infertility I’m curing. As we all know white male fertility has fallen drastically over the past few decades. The reason why can be attributed to certain karmic laws of cause and effect. After the travesties of Vietnam souls intended for white ale reincarnation have been held in abeyance until white boys get their shit together. Therefore white boys cant reproduce in the same number as before because there are fewer and fewer souls available in the ether. Consequently you have all these white male souls…..


A contradiction in terms as far as white boys go but go on, with your bad self, go on.



So consequently you have all these white male souls. wondering around the afterlife, lost, getting into mischief, you know how they do. So who you gonna call?

                                                               MISTER DANNY LOVE

Obviously not ghostbusters….

                                                                SEBASTIAN (in her Caribbean voice)

White folks do not know how to properly prepare. their dead for the next world. I chose to make this problem my problem because I was guided to do so while in a trance. A concerned white ancestor came unto me and said help my lost white children get a grip on the afterlife. Teach the living ones how to sooth their souls. Following that instruction I arrange a kinship ritual between my clients and an ancestor. Or a surrogate if they’d prefer not to disturb the skeletons  rattling about their own closet. I also invite some of our restless spirits of color to consider taking a lost white brother under their wings so to speak.


Hold up wait a minute. Now let me get this straight. Sebastian. You telling me you rope in some innoncet Black angel maxing and relaxing just cold chilling out in the void. You say ‘Yo B. if youre free on Saturday I might need you to chaffuer a couple o dead savages over to a séance Im holding for my Hollywood Eurotrash clientele. Who by the way are throwing major bank my way for the experience.’  Damn Sebastian, that’s cold. I mean why you got to go play our next-life brothers and sisters out like that Bad enough we got to drive Miss Daisy down sunset boulevard. Must we wheel trailor trash around the afterlife too?  This all sounds like some ‘ol New Age Aunt Jemima shit to me. I think your Aunt Truth would agree with me. Youre going stright to hell baby. Don’t even think about them pearly gates.



You know what my motto is. Same as its always been. Service to the race for a profit.


I see your profits. But what race are you talking about? And don’t tell me the human race either. You don’t even want to go there.


Everything I do is guided by a higher source. It’s a. Black thing you couldn’t understand.



Negress please. I know you can better than that.


                                                                SEBASTIAN ( in her fiercest. Caribbean voice)

Woman listen: What being black means to you and what being black means to me are two entirely different things. What it means to you is a bit of yesterday, edging up on today, sauddenly staring down an unknowable tomorrow. What it means to me encompasses all of eternity and the cosmos. When they say to you, ‘Let’s talk about being Black in America today, you say first we must talk about slavery and the middle passage. They ask me I say first we must talk about the distribution ratio of hydrogen and helium atoms in the first moments of the universes creation. I say before we talk about being Black in America we must take into consideration how that intitial atomic dispersion accounts for all of life. Before we talk about being Black in America today we must go all the way back to the Big Bang. We must discuss black holes, white dwarfs, red giants, untraceable dark energies and unseeable  dark matter. We must build upon our knowledge of chaos theory and the vibrational affinities that keep nuclear particles from spinning apart. Please stop me if Im getting too deep for you my sister.


                                                                 VERDREE (mockingly)

Woman listen—you think your saying something original here? You think I don’t know that ”we are just a biological speculation sitting here vibrating and we know not what we are vibrating upon. That the animal instinct in me tells me to live when I know its time for me to die. See my point?” Dr Funkenstein 101 right these glitch!

                                                                MISTER DANNY LOVE

Have no fear Dr Funkenstein is here. ”Hip shaking ego tripping and body slamming. Coming to you live from the Mothership.”



You think I don’t know that ”we are such stuff as. dreams are made of and our little lives are rounded of a sleep?” Don’t forget I went to college too.

                                                               MISTER DANNY LOVE

We are such stuff as dreams are made of’ ? Oh no. baby don’t you go messing with Bill. You know you need to leave old Bill alone. Don’t come stirring act 4 scene two of The Tempest into this little teapot.

(SEBASTIAN and VERDREE eyeball MISTER DANNY LOVE like he wants trouble to come sitting on his shoulder and evil  to start studying him.They began circling MDL like velociraptors  moving in on  easy prey.)


The proud mother of god like all ho’s is jealous of her own shadow…”


Who is this young bitawny bitch who wishes to be queen of the universe? Who would sacrifice the great grand sons and daughters of her jealous mother…”

                                                                 SEBASTIAN and VERDREE

By sucking their brains out until their ability to think was amputated. By pimping their instincts until they were fat horny and strung out. And her neuorotic attempt to be queen of the universe. Who is this bitch?

(After this recital of George Clinton’s prelude to Red Hot Mama SEBASTIAN and VERDREE crack up. MISTER DANNY LOVE however looks mortified.)

                                                                MISTER DANNY LOVE

Im ready to go back. Back out on the road is where I belong.

Back where, splib?. Back to Cali or back to Africa?

                                                                MISTER DANNY LOVE

Back to black little woggie. Back to where you need to go.

What you saying man? That my roots are showing? You big sometimey negro. You said you liked me as a redhead.

                                                            SEBASTIAN (suddenly gone into a witchy mode).
Quiet you two. Listen. I need you both to make yourselves scarce for a minute. I’m feeling guided to do a ritual prayer before we leave this place.


Yo babe,  chill on the self righteousness. I don’t mind it for a joke but don’t stop taking yourself too seriously out here. Don’t make me remind you of what a royal pain in the ass you are when you get that way. We didn’t speak for three years behind you and that god momma routine of yours. If you’ll recall….



No we didn’t speak for three years because it took you that long to get that white woman out of your house….

                                                     MISTER DANNY LOVE

Oh girls please, must we go down that road again…?


No we didn’t speak for three years because you’re a. hypocrite and you played yourself out like one . Who were you, of all people, to start throwing me shade because I was living with a white woman? What were you jealous?  Why don’t you go ahead and admit you were jealous? You were mad. And you know why—because you wanted to be the one who turned me out. Or have us turn each other out or some variation on that theme.




Me and you that way? Oh hell no way. I thought you needed your ass kicked, not licked. I got no beef with. your little white girl flirtations. Hell we both know I was doing the rainbow coalition when all you knew about dick was ‘short for Richard’. I mean that’s just the way love is in Berkeley. No my sister my issue with you had nothing to do with the bitch being white. I’ll tell you now like I told you then. You should have explained to your daughter the changes you wre making in her living situation. Instead you were too busy getting back at Malik for dogging you out with his white girl attorney after he got out of the joint. So you take Toni Cade out of the only loving home she’s rver known and leave her to fend for self while. mama’s flipping out with her mid life crisis. No wonder the girl’s acting like her mama don’t know her. Running niggas down in the drivethrough.




That is so low. That is about one fucked up analysis.  You need to check yourself before you wreck yourself, telling me how to raise my child. Selling your ghost stories and calling it spiritual salvation. I don’t even need to whip your ass. Karma’s going to do it for me.


Its not that think your lesbian diversion was bad for you.  However as your friend I do wish you’d explored your sexuality when your tightass might have gotten some good out of it. Ive heard loving a woman can be a beautiful thing when its done right. You might want to try it sometime. When youre not on some old tired revenge trip that is.



You’ve heard. Like you don’t know.


Every modern woman has at least had an, uh, experience…or two…..Only check this out: my advice to you is why not see if you can keep a woman for a friend before you take another one on as a lover. If you havent already. So who is your new freak of the week?  Your ripe and tangy new flavor of the month?


Freak of the week? Ha! That’s your shit. Im not with anybody now. I aint even trying to be with anybody now either. Havent for a while. Im becoming a virgin again. Im cleansing my temple.


I can get with that program. Ive always been a big. supporter of revirgination. Next best thing to the. immaculate conception I always say.



You just cant come out and admit can you? You know you wanted to be the one who turned me out.

Verdree please. If I was into turning  women out  what would make. you think you’d be my type? You are much too uptight. What joy is there in turning out a tightass?

                                                               MISTER DANNY LOVE

I could tell you a thing or two about that. When we’re. dancing cheek to cheek.


Why cant you admit you gave Toni Cade the short end. of the stick to spite Malik? Just look at her now. Running niggas down in the drivethrough.


Me and Toni Cade have got a good relationship.   And you can stay the hell on away from it too. She’s a good girl. Maybe too much of the wrong element around her but that was true of her mother at the age too. Hell that’s how these young sistas got to be rolling out here these days. Aint no real black men anymore. But who wants to talk about that?

                                                           MISTER DANNY LOVE

I know you better watch it.


Can’t make up your mind can you. One minute youre scared to death of her, the next she’s such a nice little gangsta bitch. Verdree, being loud and wrong is not the same thing as being black and strong. A little more discipline in her life might do the girl some good. You should have sent her to live with me when you started tripping. Its still not too late.



Excuse me? Hello?  The child has go a mother. Get. over it. You want some babies you need to start making some. Only that would be too much of a sacrifice, right?  Cut too deep into the time we’ve set aside for spiritual scammery.


Why do Black women insist on doing everything the. hard way. Listen Verdree I am not trying to replace you. I am trying to support you. I am trying to be your friend again girlfriend. If Toni Cades not going to college next year she can come live with me. I just want you to know the option is still available.

(SEBASTIAN begins anointing the area again with holy water.)



I’ll think about it. Then again maybe I won’t. Im not. going to turn my daughter over to you just because you suddenly sound so caring and sincere. I know you. I have seen you in action. You are absolutely demonic when it comes to getting your way. The queen of emotional manipulation is who we’ve got right here Mister Danny Love. Use whatever it takes to get her way with people—tears, fears, money, lies guns knives, designer drugs prayer rugs. You are relentless Sebastian. The wickedest witch in the witch when it comes to that shit. I was there when undermined Danny’s relationship with Claudel. Thought they were getting too close and you nipped that one right in the bud. You aint right Sebastian. No way in hell my daughters coming to live with you. Do I look like I’m crazy? Whatever me and Toni Cade got to go through we’ll go through together, mother and daughter. So just back your vodoo chanting ass on up the road and

keep on stepping. Aint nothing for you here.

                                                            SEBASTIAN (back to Caribean voice)

Whatever whatever whatever. Will you both leave me in peace now? I need to commune with our Mother the earth without commercial interruption. Should you choose to remain  in the vicinity I only ask that you be deathly quiet. I need to say a prayer for our Our Mother The Earth. She whose womb has been scorched scarred and desecrated in this place by a ravaging hellfire.


Do whatever you got to do Witch Hazel. Cmon Danny lets leave Madame Zora to her séance. Don’t give me that pupygog face. You knew she broke you and her brother up. You don’t want to talk about it, fine. Just don’t pretend its some kind of revelation.



MISTER DANNY LOVE and VERDREE sit by the bike. They mutter inaudibly. The scene changes into SEBASTIAN’s costumed light and magic show. She slips on some wraparound mirrorshades and enters into a trance state. The doorway becomes illuminated. The VLG glides out followed by DREADLOCK GUITAR MAN. VIRTUAL LOVE GODDESS dances. DREADLOCK GUITAR MAN plays Jimi Hendrix’ ’ ‘Drifiting’.)

SEBASTIAN and VLG (in unison again)

When all the caucasoids have been photosynthetically. erased from the planets hard drive who will upload and cleanse the rest? All those who look like virtual 21st century Africans but do not know how to conduct themselves like virtual 21st century Africans? The lesbian the homosexual the griot the rapper the punk rocker the cultural nationalist the gangsta bitch the Falasha the Yoruba the Santero the aussar ausset the luddite the hacker the blood the crip the brim the biggie the tupac  Amaru the creole the mulata the chikuyu thenoctoroon. All those who prefer the Afrocnetricity of the flesh over the Africentricity of the fractal the pixel and the digital recombinator.


(SEBASTIAN returns to a lotus position. VERDREE and MISTER DANNY LOVE return to her side, vexed and perplexed.)


I don’t mean to be rude but shes been lunching out here forever. Its not getting any cooler out here either. We need to hit the road soon. Because that sun is going to fry us like bacon if we don’t.

                                                           MISTER DANNY LOVE

Give her a minute. We’ve still got to respect her prayers.


All I got to do is stay black and die. Actually what I’d really like to do is go knociking on her dome–see who’s really home. That’s what Id like to do. You know what? It smells funny over now. You smell that Danny. Smell like something sweet got burnt up in a pan.



                                                          MISTER DANNY LOVE

I smell music. I smell music in the air. Have you ever caught the scent of music in the air, Verdree?

(SEBASTIAN comes out of her trance. She rubs her hand together like there’s something sticky on them. She stands up and stumbles around while rubbing and shaking some invisible matter off of her hands.)


We cannot leave this place yet. We have to stay an extra night.



What?Are you out of your mind? Foolish me to ask, but Yo, Sebastian, are you out of your mother-freaking  mind? No hold up. We don’t even want to go there. So let me play detective. Someithngt really deep just happened to you right. Like you went into a trance and Big Mama showed up chastising you for not getting enough zinc in your diet. That’s it right. Go ahead. Your secret is safe with me.


Verdree, I went into a trance thatwasnt even mine. It. was more like somebody elses dream. Or as if I was being dreamed of in a dream where it wasn’t even me that was being dreamed up. I believe my spiritual sources are under attack. Some force out here is trying to disrupt the flow of energy and information between me an my ancestors. You know my dreams and meditations are the source of all my power, all my wisdom and knowledge. All I know and all I am. Take that away from me and I am lost, useless,fucked up, hell might as well be a white girl. You think the ancestors will talk to me then?. I know Im being attacked. There is evil mucking around this place. Some straight up demonic shit.


                                                           MISTER DANNY LOVE

But there was lovely music too wasn’t there Sebastian? There was  so much dangerous romantic good time music. Go on and admit it, Sebastian. There was some heavenly music cooking up around you too wasn’t there? Sizzling sounds. Smoking like bacon. I smell it all over you girl. You had a ball didn’t you?


We’re not leaving this place until I track the evil down and destroy it. I need you both to go into a trance with me. I’ll need to draw on your energies if Im going to do battle effectively.



What? Yo Sebastian Spock to bridge. Listen babe, energize yourself and lets be up outte here. How am I going to go into a trance with you? I got enough trouble going into a trance by myself. Not to mention that we don’t need to be in nobodys trance when that sun comes up or we’ll fry like bacon out here for real.

                                                            MISTER DANNY LOVE

What you’re too black now my little woogie? I think. you could use some work on that tan. Looking a bit spotty to me.

SEBASTIAN passing them both. mirrorshades

We don’t have to go into a trance out here. We can use. that shack over there.



You don’t know what’s in there. Could be a nest of scorpions or worse. Besides look Sebastian I never go into no damn trances when I medititate. That sort of thing just never happens to me. I am just your basic colored girl. Looking for peace of mind in a hectic world. I don’t have visions or speak in tongues. All that spooky spirit possession mess that’s your scene. I am just your basic colored girl.



                                                   SEBASTIAN (backing into the shack pulling Danny with her)

I need you Verdree. Tell he,  Danny. Tell her!

                                                   MISTER DANNY LOVE (now fully under SEBASTIAN’S spell

She needs you Verdree. And I need you too.

                                                     VERDREE (putting on the shades)

This is bananas. Why do I always let her suck me into her madness?


(The trio enters the doorway. SEBASTIAN instructs VERDREE and MISTER DANNY LOVE to kneel down. She palms their heads.)


I want you both to close your eyes. As they are closing. imagine you’re drifiting down a peaceful river of light. Light is trickling into your hair. This light spreads down your neck cascades across your face babbles about your shoulders drenches your chest soaks your arms and legs bathes your feet like Jesus bathed the feet of Judas. This light is warm and enchanting and bright as the light of a thousand suns going nova This light is more soothing than a sunbeam massage Let us come together and bathe in this shower of light. Let us become one with the light. Our bodies are in the light and of the light fuse with the light. We are composed of light. Light shaped in the image of our bodies. Our light filed bodies are whirling through space and time at unimaginable speeds. Our bodies of light are whirling towards the blacknest night anyone has ever seen. So black that even the shooting stars have begun to glow black. We are a whirling triangle of black light dancing through the cosmos, moving towards a place we know to be our home because we can feel the love of our mother the universe calling us home.


(SEBASTIAN boldly strides out of the doorway. She softly recites her speech about Virtual 21st Cenrury Africans. VERDREE crawls out of the doorway like her body weighs 2000 pounds. She sprawls and strains her body against the desert floor wrspping herself in a shivering fetal ball near the bike. MISTER DANNY LOVE bounds out of the doorway leaping about like Baryshnikov. He begins dancing ballroom style with an imaginary partner. SEBASTIAN summons the VLG who is now dresssed like West Coast gangsta girl, the spitting image of Toni Cade. SEBASTIAN. directs VLG to to tend to  VERDREE


                                                             MISTER DANNY LOVE

Hey there, Lover. How are you feeling? Have I told you how wonderful you smell tonight?  Only a thousand and one times I’m sure. Listen Bae, theres a few things I need you to know before we get too close.

See Sebastian, I told you this meditation thing never works for me. I never go into trance. I don’t know why. Other sisters can, why not me? You all get to go there, but not me. Maybe its Capricorn thing. Maybe its because I was raised Lutheran instead of Baptist or Pentacostal or Catholic. You know the Lutheran church has no soul. I went to a Luthern funeral once. It was oh so DWA. The corpse could’ve given a more rousing sermon. It was oh so very DWA. You know oh so dry, white and abstract.

(VERDREE suddenly notices VLG has a gun pulled out on DREADLOCK GUITAR MAN.)



No Toni Cade don’t shoot that boy. He’s only a boy, baby.

                                                          MISTER DANNY LOVE (to DREADLOCK GUITAR MAN)

You know theres a few things I want you to know about me, Lover before this gets too deep. This might come as shock but I used to walk on the wild side. I was out there searching for a love just like ours and never found it because hey it wasn’t ours. Ther’s been an ocean of lovers between the tides of me and the shores of you. I know you wonder about my other lovers, wonder how you compare to them. And not only the ones I’ve told you about. Well some were fascinating and cute but they never smelled as good as you baby. There were others I havent’ told you about. But see I didn’t fuck them all. Its not like I was promiscuous. I am a big flirt, but not a slut you know? Truth is I was always more in love with being in love than with love itself. You know what I mean? I knew you would. I mean whats the point of life if you don’t flirt with a little romance. Do you jealous, Lover? Are you the jealous type? No reason you have to be. You being so seductive and all. I’m not the jealous type either. I’d probably be jealous if I saw you with some artsy-craftsy boy. You’ve got nothing to fear though. Because Lover, damn. You’ve scampered down my secret cubbyhole and taken up permanent residence there. You’re closer to my heart than anyones ever been. You know where my inner song dwells. You know just how I think music should taste on a man’s breath. You know the winding path I want to see it take up his hungry nostrils. Jimi just wanted to feel you up. How did he Put it—‘music sweet music I wish I could caress you with my fingertips.’ Jimi never smelled you though did he? I’d like to be the first. But who knows maybe he beat me there too. Maybe on the eve of his death the music took on a smoking-hot scent too. Oh fuck death. Ive got a lot of life left in me yet. When we took this trip I wasn’t looking to find love again by any stretch of the imagination. Not this kind of love anyway. So deep and abiding. I mean, I know my girls love me. And I know theyd never abandon me to my fear of dying alone. But now Ive got to abandon them, Lover. Leave them behind to accept your sweet embrace. ”You came along with your siren song and you tempted me to madness.” You came along and rescued me. I know the girls will probably try and lay a guilt trip on me . They are going to be so mad with me. I know it. But if they truly love me they’ll be as ecstatic as I am. If they love me maaadly. And if not, well, they’ll just have to get over themselves and understand our love. My love. My new love that dare not speak its name. My melodious and odoriferous virtual love.



Mister Danny Love! Who are you talking to? Better. not be my pretty dreadlock guitar man over there. Not after all the work I put into those locks.

                                                               MISTER DANNY LOVE

Can you smell my love Sebastian? My musky virtual love. I’m literally swooning under the spell of his aromas and fragrances. I’m home now, Sebastian, I’m home. Gone to heaven and dint have to die to get here. Oh give me the perfumed box of virtual heaven over the promised land any day.

How did your girl Colette put it? ‘Where everything is possible and nothing is real?

                                                            MISTER DANNY LOVE

 Au contraire dear. Nothing is possible where everything is real.



I’m tearing down this unholy city of dream dust Danny. Pulling the plug on the deejay and kicking niggas to the curb. You can give ’em one more song but after that we’re 5000. Audi.

                                                                 MISTER DANNY LOVE

Do what you want baby girl. I’m not leaving my lover. I didn’t make this trip to die alone. Im here to embrace the good life while the living is still easy. I never expected to find love again. I never in my wildest expected all of this. Did I read you the horoscope Rob Brezny wrote me before we left. It said, ”Scorpio, fall in love you little time bomb, before you explode. I don’t care whom or what you fall in love with. You can fall in love with love itself. You can fall in love with an un-polluted river or devoted pet or a shiny new appliance or an honest politician or your best friend. You can fall back in love with the person you wished you felt more excited about. Love is the hammer and love is the nail and love is the house you need to build. Love is the blue fire that scares you into becoming freer and the pink traingle that exposes your intolerance and the black mud you can stew in until your skin feels baby fresh.” Now I read that and I thought, what a little shit that Rob is. What a cold little bitch. How could a man be so cruel? But he called that one right on target didn’t he, Sebastian?. Like a bombardier. Boom boom out go the lights and baby, just look at me now.


Danny I don’t have time to argue with you. What’s. going on here is an all out attack on our ancestors. See about ten years ago a group of highly enlightened Black software

 developers specializing in educational video games came out from Silicon Valley. They decided they had the final solution to Black liberation. They wanted to download all forms of consciousness into a BAI—a Black Artificial Intelligence. Their plan was to create a new Black reality. They came out here and built experimental labs under the desert. They started bringing folk out here and let the BAI get to sucking their brains out. The BAI grew more powerful than its creators and then it destroyed them too. That’s when the BAI realized it had no soul. That’s why it wants to control you and me Danny. Because together we hold the keys to the crossroads—music and magic! This thing is like a virus trying to become a god or at least a televangelist. Well Sebastian says fuck that. The African dreamtime is not available for cable broadcast. We will not sell the rights to the crossroads to Viacom or Black Entertainment Television.


                                                            MISTER DANNY LOVE

Excuse me Miss One but are you on crack?  Tell Doctor Danny Love whats ailing you. I’ve found the cure you know honeychile. Check it out: the revolution will not be televised sister. The revolution will be virtually live.

This might have started out as a revolutionary thing Danny, but its become the new slavery. You scared of. dying man? This aint living. Remember what I told you about dying? How your soul goes on beyond the grave? You’ve got to trust me on that one Black man. Think I’d bullshit you about something that real my brother? Danny if you stay up in this virtual nonsense all that you are—all your love, all your music, all the wisdom of your life, will be lost to us forever.


                                                              MISTER DANNY LOVE
Oh Sebastian you really must let me try some of what. you’re smoking. I think you’re on a Disneyland high.

Danny don’t make me choose between you and the. ancestors. That’s an insane choice. I csnt destroy this thing if you stay in here and I will not leave you behind. We gave birth to each other man, don’t you remember? You had me, I hatched you. We’ve seen each through a lot, thick and thin. Like orphaned twins. Leaving you in here would be like leaving a piece of my soul in here too. And we know that’s not about to happen.

                                                               MISTER DANNY LOVE

”We can make it if we try. Got a feeling that I can’t let go and I don’t know why.’



Do you reember what Big Mama used to say about abortion Danny? How she favored abortion over adoption because she wasn’t going to have something grow inside her body for nine months then abaond it to the world? Spend the rest of her life wondering what had become of her blood. That’s how I feel about you Danny. I cant lose you now. I’m not giving you up to nobody man. Not to death or this thing. Im not giving you up to nobody elses heaven and nobody elses hell. Trust me on that one.

                                                                 MISTER DANNY LOVE

”Just The two of us, we can make it if we try, just the two of us…”.


I know whats up Danny. Just when you thought it was safe to surrender, safe to give up the ghost, Wham! Here I come saying no. Like damn, you get a taste of immortality, of a virtual life beyond the grave and I got you scared of dying again. But death isnt what you think. You’re about to become an ancestor dude. Act like you know. Why you wanna muck around with that? C’mon Danny, act like you know.

                                                                  MISTER DANNY LOVE

Sebastian you promise eternal life  like it’s a phone line. you can install in my coffin. You make promises Sebastian, but my lover, he delivers. I can’t go where you go Sebastian. Whats real to you aint nothing but science fiction to me. I don’t want to go to the grave guessing. Not about what lies beyond this life or even if there is a beyond. You can promise me anything Sebastian but you cant give me this can you. You can’t. put a smell on me or a spell on me like my lover can.


                                     SEBASTIAN (taking VERDREEs hand and reaching out for DANNY)

Danny I cant offer you nothing but whats inside of these hands. Got me thinking of master plan because right now aint nothing but sweat inside of these hands. I’m gonna remove these shades now Danny. Bring us all up out of this trance. If I should die before I wake I pray your soul for me to keep. Give me your hand Danny so I’ll know you put your faith in the most for real lover you ever had. The one who never cheated on you. The one who never lied to you. The one who would never let you die alone. Come back with me Danny. Don’t make me beg Danny. Begging is so undignified betweem friends. You know how much I hate to beg. Danny? My love….

                                                        MISTER DANNY LOVE

Girl, you know there aint nothing but sweat inside these hands.


(BLACKOUT. Musical crescendo. Lights come up on Danny in an elegeant funeral gown. H e starts singing Ashford and Simpsons Gimme Something Real.  SEBASTIAN ecomes visible lighting some candles around a shrine/burial mound for Mister Danny Love near the bike which appears mummified. SEBASTIAN is wearing different clothes. She and VERDREE have a new bike. DREADLOCK GUITAR MAN and VLG appear in the doorway. He begins singing ‘Drifitng’ again. Suddenly, as if from deep space nine we hear VERDREE’s voice. SEBASTIAN moves towards her with a candle.)


Yo Sebastian. Hold up wait a minute. What in the. hell? You know I aint trying to be nobodys left behind virtual nigga out here.


Please forgive me Verdree. It got so deep in there with Danny.


Forgive you? When did you plan on remembering? When you took my body back for Toni Cade to bury? What were you gonna tell her—that her mama made it to the crossroads and then just fell off?


I said I was sorry. It just  got really really  intense in there betweenme and Danny.


Glitch, you’re so fulla shit. Look I got your diary.


Thanks. Good looking out. You didn’t read any of it.  did you?



Long as you left me in there. Surely you jest. Didn’t. have nothing else to do. And fact is, I got some issues to take up with you heifer. Like where do you get off claiming Im the one responsible for the static between us. You were always the one had an attitude.


I can’t believe you read from my diary.


Whoa, back up. You want to help raise my daughter I need to get clear on exactly where youre coming from. I aint been around your ass in three years. And so what, I read from your diary. You out here reading muhfukuhs minds, outting spells on their asses, making em bark like dogs. Rolling over speaking in tOngues and whatnot so whatever. So where you leave it with Danny and his virtual lover? I was all the way tripping by that point.


What else can you do with a problem man chile. Love him and leave him alone.


So you were never really worried about losing your awesome superpower were you? That was all hype huh?


Okay, so maybe like some MC’s,  I did get a bit dramatical.


A bit? ‘I must find the evil and kill it.’ Negress please, I was going to cry foul if you didn’t take home an Oscar. Call Spike in to lobby on your behalf. ‘Sista wuz robbed. The Academy is still racist, Halle, notwithstanding.’ I’ll hand it you Sebastian. You had Danny believing it was all his decision to stay up in there. You’re such a crafty little witch. How you ever get anybody to trust you I’ll never know. Am I the only one who questions your bullcrap?



You know my motto, service to the race….


Yeah yeah, service to the race  for a profit. But how you spelling that? Ph or PR?

My sister that’s between you me and the lightbulb—


And the lightbulb don’t talk. Right. So whats up.  between you and that pretty dreadlock man with the git-tar over there?  Yall got a thing going on. Is he coming back with us?

Him? Come back with us? Child he aint real. How he’s gonna be real with all that pretty long hair? You didn’t think all that long hair was real did you? Yes you did. Fess up.


                                                             VERDREE (hi-fiving SEBASTIAN)

Well virtually real if nothing else.

(They walk off together  into the nuclear sunset.)


Sex Pistols(A Ballistc Affair), a story by Greg Tate


      In Marina’s experience, the boys with the most guns were always the most beautiful boys, the most game boys. 

    They only boys she wanted to talk to at the parties,  the only ones she could see herself going home with at the end of the night. 

   Marina always demanded they wear their little buddies to bed, holstered and strapped across their bare nekkid chests.

She loved the feel of grooved, tippled metal grazing her stomach, breasts and ribs.

 She lived to absorb the lovetaps a weapon’s icy weight doled out when her one-night beaus took to tossing and tumbling her around. 

    One fellow, a true professional, revered among his cronies as a killer’s killer, brought three sidearms when he came to bang and gt banged in return up against her—her: the 38 he kept strapped across his chest, the 22 he’d taped to his thigh, and this oldskool miniature, tubular zip gun of a thing which he kept clipped to the Prince Albert piercing  clamped onto his phallus.  (She told best female friend Duck that she had never, ever, in her frothy recollection, come harder. )


    She didn’t keep any guns in the house. They meant nothing to her if they didn’t come with a simmering male body attached.  

   There was one guy  who spoke of a desire to rub his unholstered weapon’s barrel round and round her clitoris and then pump it’s clipless stock on her labia majora, but she refused him. She liked the idea but instinct told her to save it for a less gung-ho guy–the kind of guy who’d have to be convinced that was such a good idea.   

 Marina refused to acknowledge her ‘taste in men’  as a fetish. 

She could recall having sex and even enjoying it without guns being flashed or being used to fondle her.And  when her work required it she could even manage a projectile orgasm without a firearm grinding against her ribs. For this reason she refused to countenance the notion that the pleasure she took from sex with gunmen made her some kind of addictive, freaky gun moll. As always with Negroes, it’s the reductive label that they hate (straight, bi, gay, dominant, submissive, fetish freak) more than the act itself. This is why we so commonly hear things like ‘I fuck men but I’m not gay’ and so forth. Labels tend to read like prison sentences to Blackfolk who often find their freedom in fluid states of being. This is even more true of Blackfolk like Marina who fancy themselves a breed apart. Her, a fetishist? She just couldn’t see it, no matter how often friends called upon Freud for backup. It helped that what she knew about fetishes, in a clinical sense, was next to nil. This is why, to her  mind, if there were no elaborate rules and no special make-up or studded leather harnesses  and no feverish theatre of the repressed mind going on when there were small arms centerstage, then she was no fetishist. As far as she was concerned it was simple: she just liked boinking guys with guns strapped on because she mightily liked the feeling of those hard, slick, powerful, life-determining things bumping and jumping her bones. 

She would admit to loving the element of risk involved.  Some of her guys wanted to remove their bullets first, and she would let them; that was no biggie for her. Registering the click of the safety was as close as she came to  security measures. What she didn’t always like was the extreme roughness of some of the more stubbled grips or when some of the left handed guys wore their pieces with the grip pointed inward as that made her feel like her titties were being hammered against..  

    The few and far between occasions she had slept with women let her know her taste in girls ran towards nothing more deadly than spiky jewelry and small blades–preferably unsheathed since she didn’t mind a few nicks and cuts here and there and favored the shiver she caught whenever she spied small streaks of blood splattering the sheets. Nothing her regular cleaning lady wasn’t used to or couldn’t emotionally handle. 

  (In her time with Marina that poor woman had had to clean up far worse stains. None worse than those left behind after her Guinness book escapade–a 72 hour stunt involving live chickens, lusty robot zombies, roman candles, and a steotypegically-correct Talking Hottentot Booty doll. This performance is now officially recorded as the world’s longest continuous work of  performance-art. 

   One critic even went so far  as to  describe the piece as ‘bridging the gap between Yoruba, necrophilia and the African genome’. That fanciful prose description was much to the disgust of her Yoruba practicing father, mother and two older brothers, all of whom were forced to hear about it in grand detail a self-congratulatory dinner in the Hamptons Marina threw for herself after not being nominated for a Tony award that same year.

(‘ I mean,  really, a Tony, Duck? I mean, C’mon, how monumentally uncool is that? They day I quit the business is the day they hand me a Tony. I mean, I’ve had my un-acceptance speech ready for years.’)


    If Marina would not admit to being a textbook fetishist, she would cop to being a very Wild girl– ‘Yes, I’m that perfect heretic that stereotype tells us every upright preacher’s daughters must turn out to be.’


Marina had long ago decided that embracing the stigma of being seen as a godly man’s wildchild demanded much from her outrageous imagination. 

     In her late 20s she  became fond of saying to friends and (always-kept-distant) relations how, ‘Having discovered my role early in life I decided to give it all I had. What was left,  I gave to Off-off Broadway.’ Her current show was a faux-feminist extrapolation, The Virtues and Varieties of Our Virgin Mother’s Orgasm’. 

      In it she and 27 other women  portrayed a composite of orgasmic states that had been dutifully researched by Marina and her co-writer/ best friend Duck over a five year span in several predominantly Catholic countries. Holy and unholy states of ecstasy were all given their due in the course of the performance’s thirteen  hour run.    


     Marina herself played two roles in the production. In the opening minutes she played a kidnapped nun named Mariah who develops Stockholm syndrome and has sex-starved visions of dressing her captors in robes and habits and humping them to death.

     In the second act she came on in the role of an East Harlem woman not so unlike herself who was going for the Guinness Book world record in projectile-orgasm yardage from her low-rise futon. 

      Though all of Marina’s understudies required  a fluid-shooting harness and unsightly catheter tubes taped near their private parts, Marina was a natural at long-distance female ejaculation. On her best nights she could fling precious bodily fluids  just a few inches shy of the light array mounted ten feet above the  set. 

      According to the skit’s plot, the day a Guinness film crew arrived they’d find her character’s  prone form set to erupt like a volcanic geyser or a gushing whalespout. One  all too ready to shoot off at a moments notice and head its spew directly for the heart of the sun, or at least the set’s  backprojected reasonable facsimile. 


       Somewhere during the middle of  the  run Marina was approached by the enterprising young photographer and filmmaker Aron Dearborne to star in a fictional documentary he was shooting on a group he described as ‘the Busted Afro-Victorians’. 

      This motley crew of  scenesters based their exploits on a mutual exploration and exploitation of  Wharton (and Scorsese’s) The Age of Innocence and Chester Himes’ scandalous Harlem Renaissance novel Pinktoes. 

       Marina was not part of their set but she knew most of them by sight from various venues found in Black Bohemia at the time.  She naturally found perverse joy in the irony of going from nudity on Broadway to being corseted, mummified and strapped into the longflowing raiments of  the Afro-Victorian’s salon straitjackets.    



       It was at one of Dearborn’s photo shoots that she met Bono Pruitt, another beautiful star/outsider Dearborn had brought in to break up the drawn-and-puckered monotony of the underage Afro-Victorian clique. 

     It would be through Pruitt  that she’d became acquainted with the Chimurenga Twins (later known as ‘the Robo Coptic Boy when they abandoned theatre for music) who kept an  Afro-Warholesque enterprise on Governor’s Island.

     Thus it came to pass that while performing on the Chimurenga’s catwalk our Mz. Marina made indelible eye contact with three massive ruffians who insisted they only be addressed collectively and indiscriminately, as The Big Truck. 

(Never  as just ‘Big Truck’, either; even if they liked you they had no tolerance for people who got too familiar too fast and rushed past the definitive article.) 

    It further came to pass  that  while hanging out and about with The Big Truck that Marina became introduced to their little brother, The Definitive, a solo act who naturally, only allowed himself to be addressed as ‘The Definitive’.  

      The Definitive would turn out to be, point-blank, the only man she would ever meet whose sex-with-guns desires rivaled, if not outstripped her own. 


     Their ballistic love affair  began when The Big Truck having learned Marina was a gun freak brought  The Definitive to catch her on Broadway.  

     Having been informed by his brothers of her adoration for men who carried heat to bed, The Definitive flashed her from the fourth orchestra row with some of his most prized pieces. There was the transparent glock with all synthetic moving parts he kept in a shoulder holster. There was the midget sawed-off he barely concealed bulging beneath the thigh  of his tear-off cargo pants. There was the loaded and fully-operational toy derringer locket which swung from a chain to the left of his heart. There was also, lest we forget, his piece de resistance, a row of powder-packed gunshell-shaped fronts fenced across his front teeth.  


      Marina, who could barely contain her delight in this exhibition , raced through her first ovation, skipped the company bow, and  barely said goodbye to anyone before running off into the night with The Definitive. That night, for the first time in the show’s two year run, her vaginally projected spume was seen arcing high enough to bounce when it splashed onto the  catwalk.

The Definitive lived in a private building just across 110th Street. 

     His bedroom turned out to be a gun toting shrine. It was indeed, a veritable firearm lover’s temple; one that came replete with several seven foot glass gun racks.

      These were wrapped around  the room’s cylindrical circumference and stocked with every sort of rifle, pisttol, gunmount, and ammo-belt imaginable. 

      The bed itself was designed after the rounded recoil chamber of a Tommy Gun. The  curved walls and ceiling were pasted with several of The Definitive’s  personal-best target-shooting posters. 

     Between two of  the gun racks there was an polished ebony bureau, a special holding place, he told her, to memorialize all his one-time only pieces–all the ones that had bodies on them  that in his humble opinion, ‘would never be found,  least not in one piece.’ 

        An altar sat atop this bureau laced and littered with dead looking metallic flowers and an Ogun-like statuary figure carved from an alloy she couldn’t place. There was also on the bureau’s top  a necklace composed of animal fangs and bronzed shell casings.  

    While Marina undressed and freshened up, The Definitive dumped the red silk sheets draping the tommy-gun mattress with a treasure trove of weaponry from various nooks and crannies. He then sprinkled another sprawling selection of ordinance around the bed as if they were  romantic rose petals, (his ‘petals of evil’ Marina called them).  


     When she got naked and came to embrace him he turned his body into hers in a manner assuring that the sawed-off on his thigh would lean in hard against the side of her buttocks. 

    Then, as she wrote in her diary the next day, ‘he lavishly stroking my liquefied bushy meadow and lusciously lubricious pudenda with an unmistakably expert knowledge of tension and release.’

        Over breakfast the next morning The Definitive asked Marina to pass along a letter he’d written to her producer, the one and only Malcolm Jack Spratt . 

     When she asked what was in the letter he told her it was confidential, a correspondence between Gentlemen. He added somewhat ominously how he hoped she would honor his wishes and not break the seal because ‘discovering you possess any capacity for betrayal of my trust in you might one day prove fatal.’ 

She assumed he was joking and tittered. 

She further assumed that the letter contained warning of some ridiculous gift he was going to have delivered to the theater for her. 

   When she turned the letter over to her producer, Spratt opened it quizzically, read through it with  a look of incredulous consternation and then guffawed bitterly in her face. 

          “I’d say you’ve really gone and done it this time Miss Gunswoon. You really havent read this have you? Well listen to this my friend:your pretty boy gangster friend has been kind enough to let me know that since you’re ‘His Woman’ now, it’s no longer appropriate for you to continue in my– Ha!, get that!, ‘My’!– show. 

     I’m  to sign my understanding of such, release you from your contract, then send you home to him this evening before curtain time, after having informed you that your understudy will be taking over your part. Where do you find these rubes babycakes? I mean really?”


       Marina nearly fainted. 

Less at the threat of violence implied than at the threat of actually becoming party to that dreadful  state of interpersonal coupling known as A Relationship. 

     As best she could remember she had only been in three of those ‘bejesusgawdawful  thingees’, as such,  in her life. 

The first had been shortly before she graduated from high school. 

   That spring she had gotten very close to a once lovely Serbian boy, one possessed of  a ripe and hungry mouth which had been malformed into a  permanently twisted grin by a nasty car collision the previous winter. Their three month tryst had only been set in motion by her desire to disgust her parents and her entire graduating class. 

     The second time had been her marriage to a hook –hanging sadomasochist who turned out to be battling a bout of abnormalcy before returning to brokerage, much to her disgust. 

The third had been an unrequited lesbian entreaty involving her co writer and best friend Duck who formed her only true female infatuation to date. 


       Marina, she had to admit to herself, had indeed thought about becoming The Definitive’s  steady woman for a brief but oh so brief time after their first satisfying night together but never, ever, had she considered becoming his longtime concubine. And she was certainly not the kind of woman who could be traded between fellow patriarchs in some sort of  pimpological auction block scenario.

         “So  call me a drama queen”, she declared to Duck, ‘but yes girl,  I nearly fainted right there in Jack’s office. I mean this barely out of high school barely post adolescent fool actually assumed Malcolm Jack owned my ass because I nightly perform naked in his house.  Then he’s furthermore got the nerve to think  I’m Spratt’s property like the man can just unload my ass on the open market? Oh, no. Oh, hell, no. Just what kind of  antebellum throwback is this young nigga?. 

      Okay,girl, yes, the kind who shoots people for a living but still, this is the 21st century and  certain forms of politically correct decorum need not be discarded .  So while, yes, he is precisely my kind  of  throwback, you know I’m not one to deconstruct basic feminist principles, especially at risk of my career. 

    ‘So here’s what I’ve decided: I’m going to send my understudy over to invite The Definitive to tonight’s show. She’ll request how  I’d so love it if he could bring another copy of his letter over as I seem to have lost the original in the cab I took on the way over.  Meanwhile Duck I’m going to go find The Big Truck and see if they might be able to talk some sense into that boy’s head before things really get out of hand.”

      As luck would have it though, fate kindly intervened. Duty called, and The Definitive and The Big Truck had to suddenly leave town,  therefore making Marina’s  subterfuge unnecessary. 

     Just before curtain call Marina received a message from The Definitive saying he and his brothers had a business trip but ‘don’t bother calling because we’re traveling Incog-negro, way under the radar. I’ll ding you when we get back which should be in about two weeks.”


      With that mysterious, serendipitous adieu The Definitive was virtually gone, leaving only worrisome vapor trails and big, Roy Lichenstein sized thought balloons of anxiety to form over Marina’s head. 


    “What the hell is this shit, Duck ? Two weeks of him having the upper hand, the element of surprise? Oh, no. Oh, hell no, I’m not with that”.

      Marina now had no clearcut way to outfox The Definitive and counter his insane demand for her retirement. 

The stress alone was enough to make her think about quitting the show and even show business.  


 “Call me a drama queen but I am ready to just quit this whole highfalutin Broadway diva life. Just take all my savings and run off  for a spell. Like go see some friends in Sicily or Sardignia or Dakar, or Bari or…Hell, even Albania might be relaxing this time of year.”


      What she chose to do instead was to go into her own form of protective custody, a witness protection program of her own invention as it were. One where’d she’d take the low roads, do a brief supper theater  tour and  stay on the downlow until she’d gotten word The Definitive and The Big Truck had definitively returned to Gotham. 

     After that her plan was to come back and cross that bridge when she came to it.

     Exactly how long to stay away was a question that got thrown into confusion by hearing from The Definitive via postcard that his disappearance from the city might now extend itself from two weeks to six to three months.


     The depression and indecision which ensued from her desperation and anxiety over his unknown date of return had the desired effect of forcing her to resign from her own Broadway hit. 

     Now she had only to extract herself from the Relationship as easily as she took to her bed of malady, vapours, and depression in the face of career-suicide.   

    Once again however, the perpetual good fortune that came with being a show biz gypsy  gracefully intervened,  showing up at her door with news of a touring production of an earlier Marina work called ‘Killer Dykes of the Ki-Kongo’. 

     Marina had concocted this production nearly a decade ago. It was largely about an imaginary troupe of legendary African amazons who became, in the mythical story, hooked up with Harriet Tubman during the Civil War. 

      Alerting the production’s management of not only her approval but her availiblity for the cast, she set about relearning the piece.

     Joining the company automatically meant weeks of travel out of the limelight. The goal was to hit isolated, culture starved, lesbian dinner theater spots around the country. 

    What it would mean for Marina though was not sitting in New York fretting and sweating in a panic and waiting for The Definitive to show up again. All gun-toting 6’3 of him and his expectations for  her to run away from the circus, come home to poppa and wait on him, and only H.I.M.,  hand and, surely, bound, foot.

     On audition day, Marina sauntered into the theatre, idly  basked in the glowing awe the young idolator of a director shined at her, quickly plotted and executed  usurpation of said director’s authority, then took it upon herself  to run an abridged version of the whole show. Thereby masterfully showing producers, directors, cast and crew not only how she expected every role to be played, but how she expected the parts to be passionately surrendered to, mind, body, spirit and Kirlian aura.


     Her five fellow thespians, already cast, consisted of  one hardrock girl named Cookies who believed the term thespian meant ‘theatrical lesbians’, a transplanted South African aspiring hiphop singer named Ndebele who was toying with changing her MC handle to either MC In De Belly or MC  Gutt ;  two around the way girls from Gary, Indiana, Pam Mella and Marzipan, and an unusually Zen, unusually sanguine she-male named  Julia Roberston (‘of the Poughkeepsie Roberstons’ ) who refused to relent on the claim that Julia Robertson was her birth name for all the surgery she’d obviously had done to make her resemble the film star whose name she had, tackily and far from cleverly,  grafted a ‘son’ onto. 



         After a shaky week of rehearsals the troupe piled into a large passenger van, to be followed by an even larger props truck. They  then hit the road for parts previously unknown to Marina in the wild midwest. 

      In the show Ndebele played Harriet Tubman  while the others, led by Marina, paraded around  in faux spearchucking Zulu warrior gear, kidnapped Miss Julia Robertson from the plantation,  and, thanks to the magic of audiotape and slides, lynched various massas,  rubber-necklaced hordes of informers, set trained backwoods dogs on dogged slave catchers, and kept on keeping on in their march for The Great White Way on a North Star lit yellow brick road to freedom toward the other Emerald City, New York New York.  


      The ‘Killer Dyke’ threat of  the show’s title drew the target demographic in but when it turned out to be more killing than loving going on, and killing of white women at that, complaints began to pour in from patrons who felt ‘eaten alive by the show’s ‘incomprehensible anger at progressive women of  a fairer color’.


      Ndebele took up the braveheart task of representing the cast and producers in asking Marina to consider toning down the anti-white female violence of this early work, and perhaps consider inserting a sympathetic white woman into the character line-up. Under other circumstances Marina might have ranted and raved until the poor girl congealed into a jello like state, but as this was one show she needed to go on and on, she chagrinned everyone by  revising an early piece of juvenalia which she too in all honesty, actually found as insufferable as any of her critics did. 

      Marina even gave the good white woman not only a speaking part but a love affair with her own Amazon leader  character. It had originally been her stance that she did not want sexual escapades overwhelming  and obscuring the history lessons she hoped to impart  about African amazons and the precedent they set for Tubman. 


“Now however”, she wrote to Duck,  “there’s a silly fertility dance scene where all us big buck women  bare our breaststesses together, bay at the moon,  shaketh our derrieres, basically just shake that azz,  and generally,  show these cloistered huddled lesbonic masses what we’re working with.’ 

     This scene had the powerful effect of driving all the ladies in the house wild and getting some of their crowds hopeful for some even more bawdy, integrated afterplay during the afterparty. 

     After their fourth Pennsylvania-Ohio rust belt town bacchanal Marina came to conclude that the Midwest, and by default middle America, was actually more decadent than she had been led to believe. New Yorkers might have been more overt and stylish while in public pursuit of getting their freak on but they were certainly no more aggressive than their party-hardy Midwestern counterparts.


     What she also realized, after sighting the frequent odd groups of thugs in every house, was how much criminals, and especially the pretty ones like her type of man, loved to hang out in man-friendly girlbars.  

    The disastrous law of averages and rude coincidences being what they were, she knew it was only matter of time before somewhere out there, in some under-the-exit ramp roadhouse establishment, way out in no-man’s land , she was going to look up and find The Definitive and possibly even the whole The Big Truck clique “fittin’ to drag me off stage, toss me into the trunk of their vehicle and haul my ass back to be wall-chained and chastity-belted in  the efficiency sized wardrobe closet of The Definitive’s Gotham budoir.”


     Week four found the troupe just outside of Toronto in a supersmall suburb that had once served as the setting for an X Files episode. This claim to fame was extolled in the local diner’s star-worshiping menu where ”David Duchovny Spinach Salad’’ held forth with  “The Smoking Man Smoked Trout Sandwich”. 

     The script for the episode in question had required building a large scale model of an alien spaceship that came with surgical tables and an array of operating instruments of extraterrestial design. 

     Many of the townsfolk who’d been recruited as extras had idly taken to returning to the abandoned site after the show aired. This soon turned into the longest wrap party in show biz history before finally becoming a regularly scheduled local ‘X-files themed rave/cult. 

    The event and the tribal gathering it jumpstarted both went on to survive the cancellation of the program. 

     First time initiates at the rave  found themselves made to stand alone in a shaft of light before being hoisted by a crane into the bay of  the fake mothership which was itself suspended by yet another crane. 

        Once inside newcomers allowed themselves to be alien-probed, plucked and messaged to the musical  accompaniment of the ‘burbs resident gothic-triphop genius, DJ E =mc Spock, all while conveniently  tripping on Spock’s other homegrown invention—an ecstasy derivative which one only needed mightily sniff to get sent into groovy elation by. 

    As Marina’s lifepath would have it, this Spock fellow also happened to be the region’s number one inspired-amateur manufacturer of hallucinogens. As she and Spock’s commingled pot of luck further insured, The Definitive and his brothers The Big Truck had been hired to make the young funk doctor Spock an offer he couldn’t afford to refuse.

     Their employers, it seems, were a shadowy, quasi-revolutionary, and some thought, pseudoscientific group known as the  Quantum Black  Movement. 

    This group was bent on taking over the Midwest’s lucrative white trash drug trade and using the illicitly gained loot in support of their own probing, prodding and scraping Mengeles-like genetic experiments on a political opposition they freely and liberally dubbed ‘the whitebodypolitic’. 

      Marina and young Spock’s  parallel trails would come to a crossroads the day of the troupe’s closing party. 


   That small, intimate affair had been organized by Dame Robertson who, upon deciding she’d missed the company of good friends for too long, went on line, to and invited half the she-male population of the East Coast to the affair.  

    It further occurred that when Dame Roberston went down to the local Greyhound station to pick up the meagre party of seven who answered her E-vite, Marina came along to drive the second car. 

       Thus our heroine came to see that when Roberston’s colorful, caustic, estrogen injected crew (somewhat stiff necked from traveling 18 hours) de-bussed so did The Definitive and The Big Truck. 

     She also noted that the team of assassins had that world-weary look, which we all know so well from the movies, of slick killers who come to an absurdly hick town and find that their already high quotient of meanness has risen several notches due to the general shithole quality of the place their work has taken them to. 


     Since The Big Truck didn’t see her she figured she was off the hook, not knowing that The Definitive had made friends with the she-males on the bus and had promised to demonstrate his expertise in shiatsu message after the long trip from New York.

      Imagine Marina’s surprise when The Definitive came ambling over to her vehicle. 

    Her first thought was to jump the curb and run him down, but she wisely thought the better of it. 

    When the group began piling in she made a point of looking out her window as long as she could, hoping he’d somehow wind up in the back seat. “With those long legs of his Duck, ha, fat chance.” 

     And so they soon found themselves staring into each other’s eyes again for the first time in weeks.          

       “Girl, I come back home to no note, no call, no news at all. I go down to that theatre, you’ve blown the coop, nobody knows where you are. Some people had heard you had a nervous breakdown, and had wound up drugged-back in some clinic somewhere. And here you are here still gallivanting. Damn,  I thought we were soul mates.”

    In response to this earnest outpouring of love Marina, gave it her all and responded in kind.

        “I love you baby, I really do, and we are soul mates. But I can’t stop being a hoofer in the name of love. That would just be a slow death. And I’d want to kill you. And everything just wouldnt really be that much fun anymore.”


 But you understand my position don’t you Marina?  I mean I can’t have my woman flashing her pussy for porkchops for the world at large. People would talk. I might have to hurt a civilian or even a smart-mouthed relative or colleague or two. Or three.” 

       “But baby this performing thing is what I love to do. I’d never ask you to stop popping strangers if that’s what makes you happy.”

         “Woman, how you gonna go there? I mean, that’s so different. You’re mixing apples and kumquats now. ‘Cause I don’t like what I do. Its just something I’m really, really good at, and the pay is nice, and I don’t have to deal with a lot of bullshit interference and whatnot. But I don’t make people pay for the privilege of watching me do it and I wouldn’t get off on it if I did.” 

        “So is it the money or the exposure that bothers you?

        Baby, no. “It’s you telling me it was my pussy and then selling it to the world. And don’t tell me that was just pillow talk.”

        “No dear, I meant it in more than just a romantic sense, but what I do onstage is just a show. Its not my love for you I’m giving away. Baby, you’re my last gunman. I only wish you had been my first.

    The various sexually ambiguous parties from New York in the back seat oohed an ahhed at every sick twist and turn of this unbashedly icky conversation. 

     Given other circumstances, Marina and The Definitive might have soon found themselves in her motel room getting it on with lots of guns around. The winds of change however had other ideas as Marina, caught up in The Definitive’s web of ill logic, found herself sideswiping  an oncoming Chevy van which piled into a parking meter backwards and quickly spilled out of its busted innards DJ Spock, two Vestax turntables, four Bose monitors and a few thousand chemically dipped sheets of his choice synthetic drug product. 

       In the ensuing bedlam the he-girls from New York snatched up every sheet of the stuff they could manage. DJ E = mc Spock, showing little concern for the fruits of his labwork, locked  his fingers tight around the handles of the two  aluminum roadcases which contained his rarest vintage vinyl (virgin pressings of Earth Wind and Fire’s score for Sweet Sweetback’s Baaadass Song, producer director and writer Melvin Van Peebles own score for his stage musical Aint Supposed To Die A Natural  Death, several original, warped pressings of  Sun Ra white label singles from the 60s and 70s, Kool and The Gang’s Live At The Sex Machine, and the Lyman Woodard Organization’s Saturday Night Special ) 

    Upon retrieving this case Spock then shot like a bat out of hell into a nearby stripmall that had seen better days, while The Definitive, immediately recognizing his prey took off after him like a silver bullet.

      Meanwhile Marina, having rethought the prospect of spending a lifetime with a man who shot other men down in the street like dogs, just kept driving until she found herself in Satketchawan, where she took one look around at the tundra and rightfully believed herself in desperate need of a well stocked fur trapper and a respectable black box theatre.