The Snake

“If you see a snake, just kill it – don’t appoint a committee on snakes.”
-Ross Perot

 

Just kill it, the man had said – just kill it. The snake muttered to himself as he slithered through the tall grass outside the auditorium. His favorite politician, the only politician he’d ever actually believed in, the only one who he’d actually ever thought could change things – could fix things, even – the man he had considered maybe was the chosen one, the promised one, the messiah, the prophet, Maitreya and Mohammed and Christ all rolled into one incongruous package, a true model of American virtue, the last bastion of freedom and of capitalism, harking back to the good old days – an actual man who said actual things, smart things, righteous things, things that could maybe fix all the world’s problems if they were well implemented; a good man who wanted to do good things; and then this man goes and says an insensitive thing like that.

Just kill it. By all that was holy.

Snakes.

Why’d it have to be sssssnakes?

It was quite probable that nobody else who’d been inside the auditorium had even been remotely outraged by the offhanded comment. Probable because nobody else inside the stadium had been a snake (at least to his knowledge, and he had a pretty good tongue for these things).
The thought made him feel so sad and alone that for the first time he thought about ending it all.

The little snake looked back on his serpentine life. He had been born a snake, he’d lived life as a snake, and he knew he would die as a snake.
Ssssso much for freewill, he hissed.

He’d thought about forming an awareness movement, calling it SSSADL – the Serpent / Snake Society Anti-Defamation League. Mr. Presssident, he imagined himself making a speech at the White House, Mr. President, this rampant ophidiophobia will not ssstand! We must rewrite hissstory, rewrite the bible; we must reprogram the human brain. There are bad snakes, truly, nation, there are – but we are not all bad. Slither a mile in my skin before you passss your judgment!

But it was such a daunting task for one lone corn snake. I mean sure, you’ve got your rattlesnakes causing death in children and cattle, he thought, I mean sure, I’ll give you that, but we corn snakes are harmless, even beneficent, to mankind. We keep rodent populations down. Sometimes I eat twice as many rodents as I would prefer, he offered, just to get rid of their overabundance. I protect your crops; I smother the rise of diseases; I am your savior, your salvation – and yet still you spit upon me.

He was weary and lonely. He decided to kill himself. He slithered to a remote overpass and wove himself through the chainlink fence. Let them not avert their eyes to thissss, he thought. Let me be known in death. The snake formed a noose with his own body, passed it around his neck, and bit hard into his tail so that he formed an infinity symbol. He was pleased at the thought of this standing as his legacy.

The snake jumped. The knot took hold halfway down his body. But death did not come easily. The life left him slowly, painfully, as he bobbed in the wind made by the cars passing below. Eventually the devil came up from hell and tempted the snake with cold beer and newborn dormice, but the snake refused. Where’s your Ross Perot now? the devil taunted, and the snake said, Exactly, that’s why I’m doing this. Finally the devil said that if the snake would only give Ross Perot one more chance then together the three of them would form an unholy trinity and take over all the kingdoms of the world by force. But the snake said, No, thanks, it’s too late for all that. So the devil gave up, flying off into the sky with one last shout.

Ross Perot for king of the world!

About three in the afternoon the snake cried out with his last pained breath, Perot, Perot, lema ssssabachthani? (which means, Ross Perot, Ross Perot, why have you forsaken me?) The snake’s corpse, woven through the chain-link fence, formed an almost perfect figure eight. Over time the figure eight turned sideways, and eventually the weather wore his body away so that it looked like a hanging cross, like a cross made of snake skin had been woven into the fence, in the perfect shape of a crucifix. Soon this curiosity became a religious icon, a site of reverence.
As the pious gathered below, the ghost of the snake floated there alongside the ghost of Jesus Christ, and both shook their heads, muttering.

Idiots, they commiserated.

Once again, they’ve entirely missed the point.

 

“But who prays for Satan? Who in eighteen centuries has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most?”
-Mark Twain

Jack Carr is a writer and musician from (South!) Jersey who lives in (Brooklyn!) New York. A story of his has been published in the Brooklyn Voice. He went to Columbia and goes to LIU-Brooklyn for creative writing. He will be publishing a collection of animal stories in August.

She’s gotta go in the bag if she’s gonna go on the train

I finished my water. Can I have a beer now?

Dungeons & Drag Queens by MP Johnson

I don’t actually know all that much about drag queens, so when I was reading MP Johnson’s brand-new novel from Eraserhead Press, Dungeons & Drag Queens, I started off wondering: Is this offensive?

Yeah, of course it’s offensive! Why was there any doubt about that? It’s a bizarro novel about a drag queen who’s sucked into a high fantasy realm to the continual confusion and arousal of its inhabitants, with more or less the same result throughout: Everyone is totally going boners over the protagonist, Sleazella LaRuse. It’s full of weird sex shit. Check this out:

The men dropped their skirts, each one jumping on top of the nearest warrior woman. Impaled by cocks, the Blada Femma eventually regained their strength and fought, but they did not fight to break free. They simply fought while they fucked, alternating between thrusts and blows. As their smooth asses scraped across the rocky battlefield under the troll disciples’ sex momentum, they smashed skulls with sword handles, jabbed pointy elbows into necks, poked eyes out of sockets with grimy nails. All the while, they wrapped their legs around their attackers, pulling the enemy closer, deeper. [...]

Immediately, one of the men pounced on her. His hands groped frantically under her skirt, a squirrel looking for nuts, except this squirrel had no idea that nuts were exactly what he was going to get. When he found them, he froze. He tiptoed his fingers higher, tickling her shaft as it thickened.

Anyway, this book is awesome. It’s like the Cocaigne chapter in James Branch Cabell’s Jurgen, but if R.L. Stein had written it and made it about drag queens. The premise of the book is the same one that MP Johnson used in the final story of his book which we published, The Final Failure of a Professional Small Animal Inside-Outer, where an otherworldly being, unfamiliar with the ways of humans on planet Earth, confuses a drag queen for a human female, fudging up a key element in some otherworldly scheme. Houmak, serpent lord of the sky needs a queen. His minions have searched far and wide and come up with jack shit. They find Sleazella. Sleazella isn’t having any of this and wants to return to Green Bay, Wisc. Everyone’s alarmed by a certain serpent lord of the pants. Sleazella escapes, and after a series of adventures in which she exhibits general badassery, Houmak, serpent lord of the sky, decides he’s totally going boners over Sleazella after all. 

What I like about MP Johnson’s writing is that it’s constantly going to new and bizarre places with little regard to previous plot or characters, so more goofy stuff can happen and the narration can digress into descriptions of inane details inconsequential to anything but themselves. For example, see the one of various passages describing the numerous critters whose secretions are used for Sleazella’s makeup in the realm of Houmak, serpent lord of the sky:

Nala coated Sleazella’s eyelids with sky blue powder scraped from the underbelly of a shelled rodent called a narog. The little thing waved its paws joyfully. It would have been cute if its head didn’t look like a kidney stone.

It’s sort of Symbolist in a way.

While Dungeons & Drag Queens doesn’t go to quite as many unique places as MP Johnson’s previous works, such as The After-Life Story of Pork Knuckles Malone, or of course Small Animal Inside-Outer, it explores a new kind of writing. Setting Pork Knuckles in the contemporary midwest seemed to encourage the inclusion of as many bizarre elements as possible, each more imaginative than the last, from the reincarnation of Hitler as a fly, (who is named Zzz, and who is later reincarnated as a bear, who makes a reappearance in the final fight scene,) to porcine voodoo, to rabid mutant drag queens. (Drag queens again!)

The high fantasy world of Dungeons & Drag Queens however, follows genre conventions closely enough to pursue the continuous punchline of throwing a drag queen into a Hobbit-esque universe and seeing what happens. I don’t mean to say that the satire ever falls flat — but, rather than embellishing existing high fantasy conventions with living makeup kits and battle-fucking, why not build a new sort of fantasy kingdom with no ties to anything but the limits of MP Johnson’s strange imagination?

I’m getting away from the point here, though, and that’s that MP Johnson’s done it again! He’s written a book like nothing else out there, and he’s filled it with weird sex shit, and he’s not holding back on the weird sex shit at all! You should read this! It’s wild.

I’d hate to ruin the ending, but it involves tentacles.

You can buy Dungeons & Drag Queens at Common Good Books in St Paul, Minn. or right here on AmazonYou can buy The Final Failure of a Small Animal Inside-Outer right here from Cloud City.

La polla en la bicicleta

You ain’t beatin up nobody’s kid.

Dungeons & Drag Queens book release at Common Good Books

Readings can be a little more palatable if the reader’s particularly good, or if there’s free beer, but as a rule, they’re pretty boring.

Our man, MP Johnson, former Cloud City author, however, started last night’s reading promoting his new book Dungeons and Drag Queens, by having drag king Fox Smoulder doing some erotic poetry while also doing a strip tease. “One of the things I do is these poetry competitions, where I’m not aloud to do anything with my clothes or use any props. And the other thing I do is burlesque shows where I use my clothes as props and then do away with them,” explained Fox Smoulder.

Fox Smoulder, you should send us some poetry. You’re super cool. I paraphrased your quote. I’m not a real journalist anymore.

And then after MP Johnson read, he had his friend Jeff Arndt from  MOMMY S3Z NO perform these songs he’d written about MP Johnson’s books! MOMMY S3Z NO seems to be a punk band that writes songs about zombies and Troma-esque monsters, and other weird shit that makes a lot of sense at an MP Johnson reading. Jeff Arndt gave us a shout-out and bought our book. He seemed cool. I wanna go to his show on June 3rd at Lee’s Liquor Lounge.

MP Johnson himself was awesome too. With a book called Dungeons and Drag Queens, there’s no way it could be bad, anyway. If you’re not familiar with his stuff, you should absolutely read it! Perhaps you’d like to start with The Final Failure of a Professional Small Animal Inside-Outer! An excellent book if I don’t say so myself! He writes this weird shit about evil psychic hams, turning animals inside-out for futuristic pets, and apparently, warrior drag queens.

He’s a towering figure who looks about as weird as the stuff he writes and does funny voices for all his characters. I just wish more readings were as fun as this. That’s exactly the reason we started Cloud City, because we believed in cool books that people could have fun reading and talk about with each other, and we believed in readings that people would want to go to, instead of the same old boring shit based around a quiet hour in a bookstore.

Anyway, I’m glad MP Johnson’s so awesome; I’m glad we get to be associated with him; and I’m sure glad I went to that reading.

You can buy Dungeons and Drag Queens at Common Good Books, and I’m sure a bunch of other book stores. Also here: http://www.amazon.com/Dungeons-Drag-Queens-MP-Johnson/dp/162105103X

You can buy the book we published by MP Johnson, The Final Failure of a Professional Small-Animal Inside-Outer  at Common Good Books, and also right here at Cloud City Press! http://cloudcitypress.com/?page_id=37