Of all the trifling and useless monikers fobbed on Larry Dumpkins in the past, Bangkok Gunfighter was perhaps the most serviceable. After all, he had been to Bangkok—once, on vacation, where he narrowly escaped evisceration by Buddhist demons—and although his gunfighting days were over, his hand was steady and still capable of squeezing off a shot, should such a thing be called for. Larry’s life in retirement might have been perfect, managing a comic book store in the hip downtown area of Bone City known as SoNoe, had he not been saddled with Pointless Huck Finn.
Pointless Huck Finn announced his presence one slow Friday afternoon when Larry was about to close the shop and return to his dragon bong and collection of rare circus punks featuring characters from Peter Bagge’s Hate. Larry loved to set the circus punks up on top of his broken black and white TV set and topple them with a slingshot. His favorite target was George, the quasi-autistic African-American with a fluffy lion’s mane; he could imagine George’s screams of outrage as he flew off the TV, over and over. Larry was checking the day’s take against cash register receipts when Pointless Huck Finn charged through the door, demanding to see Larry’s famous trove of “Dirty Little Eight Pagers,” early porno comics from the Depression era.
“Seriously?” said Larry, taking his time with the receipts.
Pointless Huck Finn poked him in the chest with a pudgy, nicotine-stained forefinger. “Do you have them or not? My buddy Today’s Tom Sawyer tells me you’ve got a choice stash in the back rom and I’m not leaving until I see them. Your sign says ‘Open till 10:00 pm.’ I hope you’re not thinking of closing early.”
“Wow,” said Larry. “Okay, I can show you the books, but lighten up, okay? It’s my store, after all.” Larry’s irritation at Pointless Huck Finn’s manners was salved by the knowledge that should his customer grow tiresome, he could easily blow the man-child’s brains out the back of his head. He felt the police .357 grow warm in its shoulder holster, where he kept it for just such an occasion.
“Follow me,” said Larry. He led Pointless Huck Finn through a door marked “Private” to a store room crammed floor to ceiling with cardboard boxes neatly labeled by genre, age and price range with a felt tip pen. “Third from the bottom,” he said, pointing to a stack against the west-facing wall. “Knock yourself out. I’ve even got some prime Betty Boops in there.”
Pointless Huck Finn looked at him incredulously. “I’ve got a bad back,” he said.
Larry shrugged. “And?”
“And those boxes look heavy.”
“I’m keeping the store open just for you, I showed you the box. Now you want me to drag it out for you?”
“Okay, fine,” said Pointless Huck Finn. “Today’s Tom Sawyer told me you were kind of a dick.” He fished a cell phone out of his pocket and punched redial. “Yeah, hi, it’s me. Pointless. You were right about the Eight Pagers, and you were also right about the manager. Can you come down and help me out? Becky Thatcher? Are you still hung up on that little cock-tease? Oh, all right. You had me worried there for a second, dude. Uh-huh. I need some, uh, assistance with the merchandise. Ok, see you.”
“What was that all about?” said Larry, fingering the grip on the .357.
Without answering, Pointless Huck Finn sank to the floor, picked up a copy of The Hulk lying on top of a nearby box and began listlessly thumbing through the comic. Five minutes passed, then the door bell rang.
“You should probably get that,” said Pointless Huck Finn.
“You think?” asked Larry. He shook his head. Sarcasm apparently had no effect on the dude. He returned to the front of the store and opened the door. A tall, gangly man in his early 20’s flew past him, exhaling the odor of burnt corn silk. “Whoa, not so fast there, pal,” he said. But Today’s Tom Sawyer had already joined Pointless Huck Finn in the store room where, with many grunts and sighs, he commenced removing the boxes that stood above “1930’s—Eight Pagers.”
“If it’s not too much to ask, do you think you might re-stack those boxes once you’re finished?” asked Larry. The two ignored him. Finally, Today’s Tom Sawyer lugged the box with the Depression-era porn comics across the floor. Huck and Tom began rooting through it, tossing books until they came to “Betty Boop Does Ming the Merciless.”
“Sweet!” said Huck, whistling through his teeth. “Oh Betty, you naughty, dirty minx, you.” He pressed the book to his lips.
“You going to buy that?” asked Larry. “Fifty bucks. And I’m taking a loss here.”
Today’s Tom Sawyer suddenly rose from the floor, pulled Larry to his chest and began vigorously sniffing him. “Huck has his pleasures,” said Tom. “I have mine. Oh yeah, that’s the primo bio-snuff.”
“Got a good hit?” asked Huck.
“Hells yeah!” said Huck, relinquishing his grip on Larry. Larry fell back, dazed. He felt as though his life essence had been sucked. “What the fuck did you just do to me?” he asked, barely able to articulate the question.
“Today’s Tom Sawyer, he gets high on you,” said Pointless Huck Finn. “Okay, I’ll take the book.” He pulled a wad of cash from his jeans pocket and placed it in Larry’s limp hands.
Larry watched as Pointless Huck Finn exited the store. Today’s Tom Sawyer slid down beside him, a blissful grin on his face. “Since I started doing bio-snuff, my sex drive is less than zero,” he said. “Hey, I’m really sorry about all this, man. Huck hasn’t been the same since he lit out for the territories. When he came back, all he could talk about was vintage porno comics. Me, I’ve been a happy camper since I learned how to get high on people. It’s the greatest drug in the world. Don’t worry, you’ll recharge fully in about an hour or so.”
“It’s all good,” said Larry. Thoroughly drained, he was also past caring. “You’re all right, dude.”
“Thanks,” said Today’s Tom Sawyer. “And here you are, my new friend. The Bangkok Gunfighter without Pointless Huck Finn. You want a hit off of me now?”
“Why fucking not?” said the Bangkok Gunfighter. “Why fucking not.”
Alex S. Johnson is the author of several
books, of which the most recent is Wicked Candy, a horror story
collection called "shocking, perverse and funny as hell" by Queen of
Erotic Horror, Lucy Taylor. He currently resides in
Sacramento, California, where he tends an assortment of circus punks and
foam popsicles and occasionally churns out some weird prose.