by Dennis Mahagin
The upstart literary magazine Terraplane had revamped their website, adding a section for artwork, blogs, offbeat contests and links to advertisers. Of more interest to me, they'd also set up a chat room where personalities connected to the magazine liked to hang out.
I couldn't figure what the deal was with Terraplane, what the hype was all about. For instance, they had this weird submissions procedure: Writers sent their work to the Terraplane website, where it made the rounds among an "editorial collective" whose comments on the merits of a piece were posted -- serially and publicly.
The writer could watch this whole process unfold and know that the editors were watching themselves work -- as they thought about the writer watching them watch themselves work. This all seemed a bit creepy to me; but I suppose the bottom line was that it drew people to their website.
One afternoon I was in the chat room with this woman who said she sold advertising for Terraplane. Her provocative handle was CristyCream. She claimed to be a Mensa member in good standing, and from Great Britain.
I had a pretty good idea she was a Poet Groupie, and that she would be inclined to have cybersex with me if I played my cards right. I had her pegged in my imagination as a strawberry blonde -- lean, nice ass, late-twenties, with Angelina Jolie facial features. My mental imagery could often be frighteningly accurate.
Cristy and I proceeded to hit it off. I could feel all this warm, positive karma coursing through the veins in my neck -- not to mention my stiffening prick -- as Cristy laid a smiley-faced emoticon on me and said: So...Calvin. You're a poet right?
"Yesssss!" I hissed at the ceiling fan in my den.
I tapped at the keyboard: Um, I've had a few things published. Yes ma'am.
Cristy typed back: I like the way you call me ma'am, Calvin.
There was a pause. I sipped at my grapefruit juice and gnawed a little on my lower lip.
Cristy continued: Well, you should send me some links to your work. I love a good poet. Are you a good poet, Calvin?
I clapped my palms together in a grateful prayer-clasp, and took an educated, cold-reader's guess at the depth and breadth of her kink. I held my breath, and tapped: Oh yes, ma'am. A good poet. A good and obedient poet.
Again there was a pause before CristyCream's response spurted across the browser bar, seconds later: We'll just have to see about that. Won't we?
I was about to ask Cristy if she had either Yahoo Messenger or MSN when another handle popped onto the screen. Someone else was entering the chat room.
I couldn't believe it.
It was one of Terraplane's editors who called himself flake.rant. He had twice been the lone holdout calling for my work to be rejected at the "eleventh hour" of their editorial deliberations.
I recalled one particular snippet of his critical "commentary" that made my flesh crawl and fists clench. flake.rant had written, months ago:
"I personally found the imagery to be too harsh in this piece. It obscures the potential for exploration of deeper themes. I'm sorry. It seems half-baked, and tossed off for shock value. Two thumbs, way down..."
It seemed appropriate that this guy would arrive right when I was on the verge of scoring with CristyCream. Goddammit. Wasn't that just always the way? You could count on a flake.rant, couldn't you? Floating around in the ointment, ever ready to fuck up your action.
I took a deep breath and addressed him: Well... If it isn't the Avatar of Ezra himself. Come to raise all hacks up by their prosaic bootstraps with his mighty whiplash of acumen!
I really hadn't meant to lose my cool that badly, so quickly. I knew I was probably blowing it with Cristy. But I couldn't seem to help myself.
So I tapped on: So how are things in your world, FR? ....mf [-(sic)=_+ ] !
flake.rant came right back -- with plenty of bluster and indignation: I beg your pardon? Do I know you? What in Christ's name are you talking about?
Now I wondered if there might still be a way to smooth things over, for the sake of my thing with Cristy. I thought about it, but then decided that the genie was out of the bottle. "What the fuck," I whispered, reaching for a cigarette.
I typed: You ask a lot of goddamned questions for a critic. Aren't critics supposed to know every fucking thing in the universe?
Then Cristy added: This is Calvin Hanes!
flake.rant said: Oh, now I see. The writer, of course. I should have understood. Look man, I'm sorry if you have a problem.
Me? I said. I got no fucking problem. You're the guy who's apparently so jealous of my talent you've gotta sabotage my every submission!
Oh fuck you, flake boy! Anyway, did you know that every poem you shat on I was able to place in other journals within like, about a month? Huh? Didja?
Now two more handles appeared in the chat room. Then a third. They didn't say anything by way of greeting. They seemed content to simply watch.
I don't respond well to insinuation, Mr. Hanes! I'd suggest you take a hard look at yourself.
HA! You fuckin pompous poser!
Now Cristy came back on: Just shut up, she said.
Well now I'd done it. I'd blown a perfectly good piece of ass with my childish antics. I was just about ready to log out of there with my tail between my legs when Cristy continued typing.
Then I realized -- it was flake.rant she was addressing, not me! She got on her upper cases, and began shouting: YOU IMPUDENT LITTLE WORM! APOLOGIZE TO CALVIN! IMMEDIATELY!
Please, flake.rant said. Please don't do this. Not here. Not like this.
ON YOUR KNEES!... NOW!
"Holy shit!" I gasped, dragging deeply on my Doral. I did a double take as a webcam feedstream started kicking into my interface.
On the IM screen, six more names popped onto the list, lurking. Then more names -- one every three or four seconds, filling the chat room to capacity.
Turn on your microphone, Calvin, Cristy typed.
I did as she instructed, and now on my laptop I could clearly see a tall brunette in a short, tight skirt, standing over a dumpy little guy in Dockers and V-neck sweater. She knocked the glasses off his Harry Potter face, and grabbed a fistful of his thinning hair.
Some of the lurkers began typing:
I lit up another Doral with the smoldering nub of the last one, and shoved my face to within three inches of my computer.
In the meantime, Cristy had handcuffed flake.rant to a marble stanchion. Shucking off her skirt, she reached for the veiny orange strap-on hanging on a nearby coat rack. She adjusted the dildo with a deft motion of her slim hips, then turned her face toward the camera.
Her husky voice crackled through my little laptop speakers: "How do you like this so far, Calvin?"
I scrambled for my headset on the desk. "Oh yes, Cristy." My voice quavered. "I like it just fine."
"My needle-dicked husband," Cristy said, "has been a very bad boy... Rest assured you'll get your apology, Calvin."
Cristy stood over flake.rant, her dildo inches from his face.
"But first," she said, "he needs to have his foul mouth filled with nice fat cock! What do you think, Calvin?"
Again, a couple of the lurkers began piping up:
prettytitty69 said: Yeah! Do him Cristy!
MamaKin added: Yes Cristy. Make him suck it. Pleassse!
Cristy shoved the dildo into flake.rant's mouth.
"That's it!" she cried. "Take it all! Get it nice and wet for Mommy!"
"Jesus...Fucking...Christ," I whispered.
Cristy looked over at the camera. "Calvin?"
"Will you do something for me?"
I gulped down the rest of my grapefruit juice and wiped my mouth.
"Uh...yeah," I said. "Anything."
"Get out one of your poems. Something new, something you don't really feel sure about yet. Can you do that for me, hon?"
I frantically dug through files and fished out a half-finished ghazal.
"Yes," I said. "Yes, okay, I got one."
Cristy pulled out of flake.rant's mouth and wedged her hands between his thighs, spreading them wide. As she worked on flake.rant, her tight little ass arched up, right in front of the camera.
Reflexively I reached for my dick, but Cristy was way ahead of me -- totally inside my head. "No, not yet," she whispered, breathing heavily. "Read first, Calvin. Read it, baby!"
Cristy guided the dildo home while her other hand went straight for her clit.
"READ TO ME!" she shrieked.
Cristy began thrusting into flake.rant's ass, and I recited for her the first line of the fledgling poem. "Across the viaduct...of infinity..."
"Unnnhhh," moaned Cristy.
She leaned forward as she fucked her husband's ass, her waist-length raven hair whipping across his heaving chest.
I didn't miss a beat: "eel-slick palm fronds...writhe in the dry winds..."
Cristy's long lean body spasmed with climax. Her slim hand wrapped around flake.rant's throat as he in turn began to meet each of her thrusts, willingly now.
"More!" cried flake.rant. "Wondrous evocations! Please...more Mr. Hanes, sir...please!"
I read: "They scourge my skin...like tiger tongues...as God lovingly lays his entrails...across the night sky..."
Spent and gasping, Cristy and her husband lay in a sprawled heap. The lurkers were beginning to exit the chat now.
My poem still shook in my hands as Cristy swayed right up to her camera. She sucked on her forefinger for a second, and then pressed it up against her webcam lens.
"Lovely, darling," she whispered. "So very lovely."
CristyCream blew me a kiss, and the screen went blank.
Early the following morning I got the call from Terraplane Magazine. It was a business development guy on the phone. His name was Benjamin. He wanted to fax me a release form. ASAP.
You guessed it.
Terraplane wanted to use the video as a Mega Promotional Tie-In. They had deals in the works with HBO's "Real Sex," the Playboy Channel, and Howard Stern. For starters.
Benjamin, who sounded all of about 17, explained, "I mean, gah! A dominatrix ass-fucking an editor/submissive while a spurned writer reads them his poetry. I mean, like...the buzz will be --"
"You have an ambitious and ingenious marketing plan," I said, interrupting.
"Yes, sir," he said.
"You're fucking going places, my man. You're gonna be huge."
"Does that mean you'll accept our offer, Mr. Hanes?"
I sighed and scrubbed at the two-day stubble on my cheeks.
"Yeah sure, Ben," I muttered. "Fax me the fucking release."
They were willing to pay me a considerable sum of cash. It was certainly more money than I could ever hope to earn sending them my poems and stories for a lifetime.
"Just one thing," I said.
"Cristy...and the guy she was doing...?"
"Actors, I'm afraid."
"Yeah," I said. "Uh-hum...and you picked me...because?"
"Well," said Ben, "frankly, you were the first writer we could get to...engage. Ya know?"
"Sure, I understand. Thanks for sharing, Ben."
They sent me a check two months later. I continued to be a devoted reader of Terraplane Magazine for a long time after that, but I never submitted to them again.