Rule 34


On Monday night Harold Russell was in the living room of his small apartment reading a book. The soft spring weather seeped in through the open windows. His legs were crossed and his cat Samuel lazed on the couch. The book, a biography of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, was unsuccessful in holding his interest and he kept drifting into a variety of thoughts.

He leaned to his coffee table and sipped at his tea, stretched his legs, plucked a hair off his brown cardigan and recrossed his legs. His slippered foot bounced to the Brandenburg concerto whispering from his stereo. Samuel yawned.

The apartment was on the third floor of a five floor, ten apartment complex in the Squirrel Hill district of Pittsburgh, a quiet, familial part of town. Harold flopped the book into his lap and listened to the crickets and the distant city bustle. The apartment was small but pleasant and Harold liked its basic set up. A small living room with an arched doorway into a narrow kitchen. Bathroom on the left and bedroom straight ahead. Lots of windows, which had sold Harold when he’d seen it two years before. Two big ones in the kitchen, a small one in the bathroom and a big one in the bedroom. The only ones closed at the moment were the kitchen windows, as a family of robins had made a nest on the outer sill and were chirping away at a high-pitched squeak.

There was a light, hesitant knock at the door and Harold jumped up to get it. Samuel danced to the floor and padded across the hardwood. He sat on the rug in front of the door, next to Harold’s shoes. Harold peeped through the eye-hole and noiselessly sighed. He opened the door.

“Hello Harold, how are you, young man?”

“I’m well, Mrs. Krpek, and you?”

“Oh I’m doing great. What a nice young man, you are.” She always told him that. Mrs. Krpek and her husband Milos, was the septuagenarian Czech couple that lived across the hall. Milos was continuously ill and she always complimented Harold on his manners and speaking skills and made too big of a deal about his being black.

She went on. “A nice African fellow worked in my father’s shop  in Brooklyn, nice and friendly as can be. You people always have the best manners, lovely people, you all are.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Krpek. How is Mr. Krpek feeling today?”

“Please,” she touched his cardigan, “call himMilosfor goodness sakes and he’s feeling a little better. Has the angina, the doctor says.” At the age where she didn’t care about her appearance, she wore a brightly colored bathrobe and an old-fashioned bedtime cap. She fished a small cat treat out of her robe and Samuel poked his head from behind the door. She leaned down. “Jak se maš?” she asked. She always spoke Czech to the cat. Samuel snagged the treat from her fingers and scurried back into the apartment with his prize.

“Good kitty,” she said.

“Yes he is, well, um.” He raised his eyebrows, hoping to elicit the point of her visit.

“Oh yes, silly me!” Her voice echoed into the hallway. Everyone in the building could hear her. “A man came today with a package for you. He wouldn’t leave it with me, but he left me a slip to give to you.” From her other pocket she removed a crumpled slip of paper and handed it to him.

“Thank you very much, Mrs. Krpek.” He took the slip, turned it over in his hand.

“The fellow who dropped it off was a nice African man. His name was Merle.”

“Hm,” he was reviewing the slip, “seems like a strange name for an African man.”

“Well, he was African…and American. He had that strange hairdo.”

“Thank you again, Mrs. Krpek, please tell Mr. Krpek I hope he feels better.”

“Call himMilosfor Pete’s sake. So polite.”

“Good night.”

“Good night, Harold.” She stepped to her door, a bell dinged from inside. “Oh, it’s my sekana, bye Harold.”

Harold closed the door and looked at Samuel on the couch. “I know what you’re thinking and you can just shut up.”

Again, the cat yawned.

Two weeks earlier, on a Wednesday, a colleague had made a joke about his ludditism, saying that Harold should use his abacus to run the monthly receipts at the bookstore. The joke showed no hints of humor or wit, and the perpetrator of the joke, a Southern man named Jonathon, wouldn’t know an abacus if he were riding one through ancient Mesopotamia. Thus, Harold deduced, the joke was a well-traveled one. While he didn’t mind, nor was he a stranger to, being the butt of a joke he considered it in total and wondered if it might not be time to leap into the 21st century. He’d ordered a laptop computer with the help of his friend Larry. Larry, who was in fact Harold’s only friend, worked as the information technology man at McGeary’s Bookstore in Pittsburgh.

“Don’t you worry, Harry,” he said at the coffee-house one evening. “I’m gonna order you the best damn computer money can buy.”

“Yes,” Harold was drinking Oolong tea, with honey. “And how much money might that be?”

Larry sat back, a little miffed that Harold wasn’t sharing his excitement over the venture. “Well, what do you want to do on the computer?”

Harold reflected for a moment, he hadn’t thought about this. What would he need the computer for? Larry sensed his minor dilemma.

“So, let’s look at this.” He leaned across the table and started counting on his fingers. “Internet?”

“Certainly, I suppose.”

“Are you a gamer?”

“And how would one become a ‘gamer’?”

“Do you want to play games?”

“Well, I never have, but…” He shrugged.

“C’mon Harry, don’t bullshit a bullshitter, huh? I’m betting the bank that you were a D&D guy, am I right?” He smirked in a condescending way that irritated Harold as 4th level clerics, wizards and Barachiel, and Saturday afternoons at Gene Barr’s house passed through his mind. He could still taste the mustard on the bologna sandwiches that Gene’s mom used to bring them and the salty pretzel sticks which she served on the side. He decided to concede this one point.

“Yes, I played Dungeons and Dragons. So?”

“So, nothing, we’ll just look for some different specs, is all.”

“Maybe games. I want to look at the Internet and keep track of my finances.”

The waitress slid the check in between them and took the empty honey cup. Larry crossed his arms; the condescending smile remained on his face. Harold felt uncomfortable.

“And games, I guess. Ok?”

“And…?” Larry’s face now irritated Harold to the degree that he wanted to punch him in it.

“And what,Lawrence?” He knew Larry hated that.


“Porn. What in the heck are you talking about?” He didn’t like to swear, and he peeked around him to make sure that nobody had caught his outburst.

Larry knew that Harold was a bit unusual, and sometimes he had to grade his language, but porn? Even neo-luddite extraordinaire, cardigan-wearing, pet-cat-having, suspected 4th level cleric Harold Russell must know about the pornographic opportunities that the Internet offered.

“Harold, you understand that there is a lot of pornography on the Internet, right?”

Harold blinked his eyes and fixed his collar, his mouth made a small frown and his cheeks winced.

Larry slapped the table with the tips of his fingers. “Hey Harold, don’t sweat it, man. We’ll get you a great computer; I’ll set you up with the specs. You just tell me your price range and I’m on it, okay?”

“Okay. Thank you very much, Larry.”

“No sweat, buddy.” Larry pressed a finger to the check and slid it in front of Harold.

Over the next week Larry and Harold spent their lunch hours scanning through websites advertising computers. Larry did most, all of the talking, which was mainly explaining terms that meant absolutely nothing to Harold. Words like RAM, BITS, GIGS and hard drive appeared often and, though he put forth a great effort, Harold couldn’t understand any of it. Nevertheless, he did contribute with the occasional ‘okay’, ‘huh’, ‘sure’, ‘ah’, ‘I see’, ‘hm, now that I did not know’, and when Harold sensed that the information met with the required degree of importance he combined these with an eye pop, a head nod, an interested eyebrow furrow and a ‘Wow, that sounds very interesting’. It was, overall, a miserable experience for Harold, a sentiment which was obvious even to Larry who continued with the detailed explanations as a form of torture. A satisfying fee for which Harold was paying dearly.

Harold had missed the technological revolution, forever remaining content to be surrounded by books in his cluttered office in the bookstore. He had little problem leaving the computer issues and orders to his colleagues. At thirty-five years old he had become a doddering old man and a sort of Minstrel show. He was able to speak with authority on ancient history, mythology, architecture and literature. This, as with most academics, filled him with a pecuniary sense of needfulness and power. But in the wired hands of technology he was as useless as his master degree in Native American mythology. To further detract from his feeling of worth, was the end of the day. On the nights when he closed the bookstore, he’d come out from his office to the main floor and check the registers, close down the window gates and empty the trash. Meanwhile, his (younger) co-worker would shut down the computer and set the alarm system. Afterwards, they would leave the store together; this was usually accompanied by some branch of superficial small talk. The point that dug at him was that every night there was someone waiting for his co-worker, no matter who they were. At the very least there would be mention of plans to meet a friend, a boy or girlfriend, or drinks and there was never any hope for an invite. Only Larry occasionally asked Harold to join him for a drink and that only happened because Larry thought it would be cool to have a black friend.

The knowledge that he was going home to a tabby named Samuel, a piece of skinless chicken with spinach and the occasional, though scheduled, variation (curry on Fridays, enchiladas to celebrate a victory at work), a glass of milk with three gingersnaps and at night, while he read, a cup of tea, dug at him. It all dug at him.

At the end of the day he had ordered a 40 gigabyte, dual drive, laptop computational device with WIFI, DVD drive and burner, 1024 RAM, 12.1 inch screen, 1300 Megahertz processor, extra battery and carrying case (free) for the low, low cost of $699.32 (plus shipping and handling). The delivery, during which Mrs. Krpek had intervened and extracted the slip from the young African-American gentleman, came eight days after that day. And that night, as Samuel sat judging him from the couch before a six-minute rectal cleanse and a glorious stretch, Harold Russell prepared to catch up to the rest of the world.

Earl Grey tea goes very well with cinnamon buns, Larry concluded as he sat at Harold’s kitchen table and munched with glee. Harold had risen early and gone to the bakery before Larry came to set up the computer. He’d folded his shopping list into his plaid shopping sack and walked the quarter-mile to the bakery. Despite his technological anxieties he felt good about the day and the warm April air. A ladybug landed on the tip of his nose and, after the initial shock, accepted it as a good omen.

They set up the computer. Larry set up the computer. Harold had stood behind him in the role of the eight year old son who helped his father fix a door hinge by holding a yellow-handled screwdriver. And now, in the late morning they ate their cinnamon buns, drank their tea and Larry poured over manuals covered with post-its covered with passwords, usernames, phone numbers and instructions. He helped him set up an email address:

“So, what do you want to do first?” Larry asked him. They stood above the computer which glimmered like a new car in the sunlight which came in through the bedroom windows.

“I suppose I’ll take a nap.”

“No, you got a new computer. You have to christen it.”

“I hadn’t thought of that.’ He stood with Larry between him and the computer.

Larry punched a few keys and a website came up. “Here, this is a search engine. All you got to do is type in anything you’re interested in and it’s there. It’s amazing.”

Harold peeked around Larry’s shoulder. “Anything?”

Larry winked and took Harold by the shoulders, he then turned him to the computer as though it was a girl who Harold was too shy to face. The laptop looked at him like a giant face with a leering mouth mocking his naiveté. “Could you get me started, please?”

The next two days were magnificent. Harold discovered a new world, a realm which could cater to his varied, outdated tastes with unwavering consistency.

By Sunday evening, he had played chess against dozens of faceless, though worthy opponents. At times, he maintained several games at once after opening separate windows as Larry had shown him. He felt like Mikhail Tal. He joined the Ornithology Club, the Cartographers of America club, the Amateur Archaeologists of Pennsylvania Association (enjoying a free carbon dating kit with membership). He’d never used his credit card so much in his whole life. He was a man possessed; surfing through encyclopedic websites took up the rest of his time. At one point, with five windows open, the shrill of excitement scurried down his spine as he opened his sixth window. He was a cave dwelling Luddite, finally finding the hidden entrance and with squinted eyes peered into the future.

After a marathon weekend of encyclopedic websites, fourteen online group memberships, long and detailed emails to the three people whose email addresses he had, and tapping away at every news source he could think of, he found himself with a tremendous headache. He took Monday off and slept until noon, which hadn’t happened since a Saturday in college after indulging in an all night Korean film festival and a margarita.

The first email came on Monday.

He’d woken up late, made some tea and flicked on the computer. He shooed Samuel out of the armchair that sat at his desk in the bedroom. He first checked the news, sipped his tea and cleaned the lint out of his slippers. Then he visited an encyclosite to research Nicolae Ceauşescu’s birthday. He’d dreamed that he and Nicolae were swimming in a marble pool in late 19th century France. He’d known it was late 19th century because of the clothing all the monkeys were wearing and, more obviously, the banners that hung above the pool. Nicolae had asked him to guess his birthday and the date of his execution, and Harold had been embarrassed when he was unable to do so. He glanced with not a little shame at the recently biography on his coffee table.

Then he read his single email.

Sasha told me you were unable to satisfy her

Harold froze, a dribble of green tea beading on his lower lip. “Who is Sasha?” he asked, and looked at Samuel, who watched him from the ground and licked his paw in a dejected manner. Harold asked again, “Who is Sasha?” To which Samuel leaped from the ground and onto the back of the armchair. Harold hid the contents of the email from the cat, then straightened his cardigan and put the cup of tea back onto the coaster.

The email, which averred of his fictional sexual inadequacies, offered a cheap bottle of the latest anti-impotence drug at a reasonable cost. From Canada. Harold left the computer, sat at his kitchen table and took out his notepad. He practiced the letter, wrote, rewrote and finally, pleased with his response (a thankful yet professional declination), he returned to the computer.

Dear Sir,

While I have never met, nor have I at any point had contact with your (or any) Sasha, I am saddened by her current and most unfortunate predicament. Were there any chance that I could facilitate the expedition of the satisfaction of her libido, then a moment shan’t be wasted. However, I am not in the position to help, nor am I obligated in any manner to sate the afore-mentioned female. I only beg hope that you procure both a readied, enthusiastic male and any necessary pharmaceuticals to enhance his phallic needs. I wish you, with a most emphatic gesture, the best of luck! May the future treat you with the same open friendliness with which you have treated me.

Most Sincerely,

Harold P. Russell

Tuesday was difficult. Tried as he did to keep his books and inventories he found himself unable to stop stealing glances at the computers in the store. Each click of the mouse and the tapping at the keyboards reverberated in his cyber-focused head. When a misrouted shipment of the latest Jack Monroe murder mystery forced him to stay an extra eighteen minutes, he thought he might lose his mind. By the time he was barreling down Murray Avenue on his bicycle, he felt like a heroin addict.

Upon his return home he was disappointed to find no reply from Sasha of her helpful friend. There were, however, three hundred and ninety-seven more offers. He read the first three. One was for natural potency pills, one for cheap pain pharmaceuticals and one from a woman named Cherry. His blood began to warm and his lips felt numb. Cherry’s email read:

It’s me, it’s been too long, baby.

“It must be an error,” he said. “I have no idea who this woman is.” He sat down, “Besides, it’s not been too long, it’s been, well, forever.” He realized with a twang of pain that he had been speaking to his cat. Samuel-the-Neutered presented no sign of commiseration. He called Larry.

“Nah, these are scams, buddy.” He swallowed hard at Harold’s obvious distress. “It didn’t have anything to do with you at all.”

Harold gulped at his tea, the red in his eyes shaded by dark brown lids and mantled by darker brown cheeks. For the first time, Larry noticed that Harold wore a mustache, a thin little affair that rode his upper lip like a well-groomed half-moon.


“Yeah,” Larry knuckled the table, “it,” knock, “ain’t,” knock, “nothing,” knock knock. “Got it?”

Harold released a deep breath. “Okay, thank you Larry. I appreciate your consolation.”

“Anytime. Say Harold, old buddy, you mind if I ask you something personal?”

Harold reflected for such a long moment that it became uncomfortable. Finally, just as Larry was about to call off the idea, Harold nodded. “Yes, you may.”

“When was the last time you, eh, got, uh, well, had sexual relations?”

Harold had suspected that this would be the line of questioning. “Lawrence, despite the impression most people have of me I have been known to…” He couldn’t finish the sentence.

“Ah come on, pal. Don’t sweat it. But there are things you could do to relieve the pressure. You know?”

“Are you suggesting-?”

“Sure, why not?”

“Well, for one, it’s disgusting.”

“No, it’s not. Stop being such a, such a nerd. There’s nothing wrong with it at all. You’re a man, Harold, a normal man, under the sweater vests and cardigans and tea, just a man. Don’t you ever think about that?”

Harold watched Larry and hated him for that moment. Hated his golf shirt and the lumpy promise of future man breasts. He loathed the short gray hairs that grouped around his ears. He hated his wispy goatee and the smug, over-emphasized, phony-understanding, sympathetic frown on his face. But maybe Larry had a point, he thought. After all, I am a man. I’m cultured, intelligent and interesting. Why wouldn’t I do that once in a while? Because it’s a dirty venture, another voice inside him voiced, to which he frowned. Still, the other side countered, there’s nothing wrong with it, everyone does it. Well, that’s just what they said in high school too, wasn’t it? And where exactly did that get us? Every voice in Harold’s head cringed at the thought of high school resurfaced its gruesome face.

Harold paid the bill and slid the napkin with the websites into his wallet. The moon had risen and Harold slid the blinds down to a satisfying shink against the sill. He locked the door, bolted it and, disconcerted by the thin shaft of light coming in through the bottom of the blinds at the kitchen window, pressed a rolled up towel against its base.

His email presented one hundred and six new calls to order pain medication that he did not need. He deleted them and moved on. He typed in the first six letters of the website Larry had scrawled down on the napkin.


He paced the room for a short while before finishing the unusual phrase. He felt ridiculous typing the words, and imagined a ticker tape parade of people he knew pointing and laughing with hysterical abandon.

The next two days were glorious.

Though Harold’s initial insulations were not enough. Pornography, he found, was the loudest thing in the history of the universe. He turned it down as low as he could, then up a drop. Barely a tweak seemingly brought the complex down in an avalanche of carnal cacophony. He considered muting it, but found that he had a distinct need to hear what the players said (he refused to call them actors). He turned on the shower and some rather rambunctious Rachmaninoff to cover up any unquelled sound. This ended after sixty-one minutes of continued watching when he received an angry visit from Mr. Coddington from apartment 6. Since his last wish was to call attention to himself he needed to find another avenue to his enjoy his esoteric activities.

The earphones were Cerebro-Blasters 2500 XTCs and gave Harold the secretly appealing look of an aviator. The verbal repertoire between the players, or player, or all of the players and the man videotaping them enhanced the viewing experience. Bad grammar, in Harold’s opinion, a plague on civilized humanity, brought forth an unmistakable arousal. The first day was filled with women dressed as librarians, teachers, doctors and students. On the second day he explored the degraded depths of his imagination. Despite his solitude, he gave the more vulgar acts code names.

Moorehead was enjoyable to watch, but typically lacked in variety. It started, went on for a while, and then it was done. Doyle was a bit on the maudlin side, but satisfied an id-based need. Shakespeare was great to watch, but when the deed had been done was capped off by a dreadful disgust. Dickens was unnatural, Longfellow was obvious and Plath was the most beautiful spectacle he had ever watched on a screen.

Trouble started on Thursday.

In his newfound multitasking cyber-foibles, Harold had opened five windows. An encyclosite website, a chess match against LT.HEARN48 and a pornographic website. After putting HEARN into a sticky rook counter move, he knew he’d have a little time and began flipping through the windows. He was hoping to check out another historical figure on an encyclosite website. It was only after he had typed in the name: Amelia Earhart and pressed ENTER that he realized he was on the pornographic site. At first he felt silly, then nervous after noticing a window which read:

Amelia gets it on with some Pygmies

“Absurd,” he said, but clicked on it nonetheless, fastening the XTCs into place at the same moment. The video was gritty; the woman’s face was without pleasure. She looked lost and confused. He shut it off and let Samuel into the bedroom. He went for a walk to clear his head. In the morning he chose the name of a famous actress and typed it into the pornographic site’s search engine. Again, a window appeared.

Jennifer – taken by the football team.

He clicked. The resemblance was stunning, he thought, had his way with himself, designated a full minute for self-disgust (it had been a Shakespeare) then set off to the bookstore.

“Rule 34,” Larry repeated.

‘What is that?” Harold drank at his orange juice.

“The idea that anything, anything in the world you can think of, there is porn based on it.”


“Gimme a job.”

“Excuse me?”

“A job title, Harold, give me the name of a job.” He began sliding something out of his inner jacket pocket.

“Oh, plumber.”

“Too easy, plumbers are all over the porno world.”

“A seismologist.”

Larry had removed a flat phone from his pocket and had begun clicking away at it with a stylus. Harold watched him. After a moment Larry giggled. They spelled it s-i-z-e-mologist.” He held it across the table to Harold, who peeked at it and then shied away.

“Put that away, please.”

“You see, anything can be pornofied.”

“But Larry, this was a real person, they don’t make biographical pornography, do they?”

Larry had continued clicking through Harold’s question tag. “Oh, I think Benjamin’s Franklin is proof to the contrary, wouldn’t you?”

“Oh my Lord.”

“Or how about Alfred Thick-”

“Enough!” He whispered, “Just put that away, won’t you please?”

Larry slipped it back into the jacket pocket. “Anything, Harold. You’re just overreacting. Okay?”

“Okay. Thank you once again, Larry.”

Friday, things escalated.

Harold ate an enchilada with hot sauce. After visiting the toilet a number of times he retired to his bedroom. Samuel didn’t bother leaving the living room anymore. He sound-proofed the room; sat in the chair and snapped the XTCs into place with a satisfying flop. Then the experiments began.

Benjamin Franklin was a slow, melodic lover. Martin Luther King had a taste for dirty talk and Mikhail Tal was a biter. The pornography was grainy, and there seemed to be no real camera angle. And every test subject stared at him as though accusing him of intruding on their lives.

“Just porno, but strange,” he said.

He searched jobs, historical figures and politicians. He saw into the inner sanctum of the sexual tastes of actors, writers and singers. It was disturbingly wonderful.

In the 3rd grade Samantha Joniskotch had turned away Harold’s love. She was six, but looked eight and he had loved her more than anything he had ever known in his six years. He had made her a card with a picture he’d drawn of two cats sitting on a fence kissing in front of a full moon. He’d copied it from a comic he’d seen in the newspaper. Harold could never forget the day in early October when he’d approached Samantha with a cool, cocky strut in the schoolyard. He knew no better. He gave her the card, asked her to go to a movie and was about to explain that his mother would drive them when she began to laugh and flipped the card back at him.

“I don’t like you Harold Russell,” she said.

“I like someone else, and you are a stupid nerd.”

She stepped off to the swing set carrying with her any chance of confidence and self ease that he’d ever hope to enjoy.

Anyway, after a few experiments on the spelling of her last name, she came up in the search engine.

There were six men in all. They were wearing masks and seemed to be in a dark, windowless garage. Though it was unmistakably Samantha, she looked terrible and miserable. The baseball bat was a STANDARD painted silver with a taped up handle.

Harold, shaken, walked away from the computer to find Samuel. The cat was hiding under the armchair and hissed at him as he reached under to cajole him out.

“Good Lord, Samuel. What’s gotten into you?” Harold sat on the sofa. “Some kind of scam,” he said, “it must be some kind of scam, just like Larry says, just like the Sash–”

He had no idea what last name he could enter, so he entered only Sasha. Several windows appeared instantly. He scrolled and was refining his search when a window in the bottom right caught his eye.

Sasha needs to be satisfied.

Though he’d never seen her, he knew this was Sasha. She sat on a bed in a purple bra and covered to the hips by a blanket. She had pretty green eyes and short brown hair tussled about her face.

“My God, she’s beautiful,” he said.

Click. She whispered to the screen and come-hithered with a wink and a finger call. A shadow passed before the camera and Sasha lay back with heated anticipation written on her face. Harold felt jealous.

The man hit her hard. She cried a small groan and fell back on her side. Harold jumped up from the computer, knocking his chair to the ground. The earphones pulled from his head in his frantic, jerking movement. He watched from a few feet away as the shadowy figure beat Sasha to death with repeated blows to her head.

“Stop it!” He leaped to the computer and tried to stop it somehow, but it was too late. The figure disappeared and Harold was left to look at Sasha’s crumpled, destroyed body. He then began to sob. The picture snapped off into black and Harold wondered if he should call the police. “It’s a scam, it must be some sort of scam,” he said to nobody. “Just like Larry says.”

He adjourned to the kitchen and rooted through the cupboards until he found the six-year-old bottle of Manishevitz that had been sitting in the back corner next to an unopened package of model train cars. With effort, he poured a glass and drank it down with one and a half gulps, stopping with the glass in his mouth to breathe through his nose. A rap came at the door which made Harold jump.

Mrs. Krpek was wringing her hands. “Harold, we heard a shout from your apartment, is everything okay?’

“Oh, uh, yes, I’m fine. Just a big spider in here.”

She seemed satisfied with the excuse. “Oh good, well you let us know if you need anything, yes?”

“Certainly, and thank you, ma’am.” He closed the door and noticed his hands were shaking. “Big spider.”

He didn’t sleep well that night. Every time he slipped into a few moments of drowsy snooze he dreamed of violent sexual acts. He rewatched the brutal beating of Sasha and the unnatural, pained look on Samantha’s face. Benjamin Franklin scrutinized him from behind his homemade bifocals.

He slept restlessly, though his body or brain refused to allow him to wake. During his strangled dreams he twisted himself round in his sheets until they’d become a part of his dark body. In his dreams Harold was strapped into a dental chair, nude. And one by one, someone he knew would come in, point at him, laugh with gleeful derision and step away in lieu of another mocker. It seemed to go on for hours, sometimes the person pointed at his crotch, sometimes just at him, some shook their heads, others wailed on their knees, others stood still. The laughs ranged from an inward, lung-filled smoker’s guffaw to riotous explosions, some cried and some couldn’t breathe. With all the painful variety, the one mutually-shared aspect was the derisive nature, the open, mocking hatred that each person felt for him. He awoke tangled in sweat-soaked sheets, a damp, disgusting feeling. Samuel had never entered the room.

His discomfort was joined by a welling in his crotch. A pulsing that demanded satiation. He called off work and turned on his computer.

He meditated on the hatred that he felt for everyone. The ticking of the clock the only sound from the other room. The sounds of everyday life: school, buses, laughing, car horns, and chatting seemed down a long, unreachable hallway. He sat in front of the computer as nude as he had been when he’d woken, the sheets covering his left leg and protecting the chair from his sticky Gluteus Maximus.


“They can all go screw themselves then.”

Before his dream drifted into nothing he removed his writing pad and drafted a list of people who had cameoed in it. Harold slid the pad next to the computer and took his lubrication out of the top drawer. He ripped the XTCs from the computer and threw them on the bed.

Harold typed the first name on the list. After a while he noticed that not only could he put anyone in the world into a pornographic film, he could put anyone in the world into a pornographic film with anybody or anything else he so desired. Like this:

Jonathon S + Abacus

It was with this help that the members of his dream suffered a great deal. And he relieved his urges with every one of them.

Let them laugh at me now, he thought.

Each scene was louder and more vulgar than the one before, screeching and groaning, begging through his apartment and echoing through the building.

Jenny B + Whiskey Bottle

John T + His Grandmother

Larry P + Male Prison

Heather R + Bee Hive

Lee A + Lee B

Philip K + Corpse

Kristian B + Octogenarian

Even Samuel appeared twice to moon his objections. To no avail.

Samuel + Shnookims the Rotweiler

Mrs. Krpek called the police. “I tried knocking for ages,” she stammered, “he’s a good boy, but he’s one of them, you know?”

Mr. Krpek + Mrs. Krpek

“Ha, enjoyMilos!” (They dressed in leather)

In the end Harold, as he knew he would, typed his own name into the search engine. “Best make it a good one, old sir,” he said.

Harold Russell + Donkey + baseball bat + Nicolae Ceauşescu, Romanian dictator

A knock came at the door and Harold Russell, beaten down and bleeding in both soul and spirit, post-neo-luddite extraordinaire, suspected (confirmed!) 4th level cleric, stomped off to the door, opened it and faced his punishment.


The End


  1. #1 by Andrew Renfro on October 24, 2011 - 9:24 pm

    “Lee A + Lee B”…I swear I will never get that image burned from my head. It was like Spider Man versus Doppelganger in the most horrifying comic book issue ever.

    • #2 by Damien Galeone on October 24, 2011 - 10:23 pm

      Lee A + Lee B … I can’t remember this? Is this something I can’t remember because I blocked it out or was blacked out?

    • #3 by Damien Galeone on October 24, 2011 - 10:30 pm

      Dude, I am an idiot! For some reason I thought this was on another post. Dummy…Thanks for the comment, Andy! Hope it freaked you out!!

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