The Collectors by Nathaniel Tower

All my friends have their own unique methods of tracking the chicks they’ve banged. This one guy, we call him “Pubes,” tapes a lock of each woman’s pubic hair to the wall behind his dresser. He’s got a whole color wheel of pubes back there. Red, black, blonde, brown, gray. If it’s a suitable color for pubic hair, he’s got it in his collection. Hell, he’s even got a rainbow pube lock that looks like he got it straight from one of those clown wigs. We’re not positive he didn’t.

“Pubes” usually trims their pubes right after sex, when the hair is a bit sticky and matted down. He says it helps with the preservation. Sometimes he tapes them up while the woman is still watching. “What are you doing?” she’ll ask. “Preserving,” he says.

If a chick’s got a shaved pussy, he tells her to come back when she’s hit puberty. Surprisingly, most of them come back. Actually, that’s the only time any of his women come back.

This other guy, we call him “Moist Mike,” takes panties from his girls. He keeps them in the top drawer of his dresser. He’s not picky about the type. Thongs, lacey things, bikini briefs, edible ones, split crotches. He even has a pair of XXL white cotton panties that look like they’d fit a bloated beluga whale.

“Moist Mike” says the key to panty collecting is getting them nice and wet before he pulls them off. He likes to rub a chick’s panties really hard before removing them. It traps in that horny vag scent, he says. Usually he gets up from his bed and puts the panties in the drawer before he even bothers to fuck the woman. That’s when they’re the most vulnerable and least likely to say no.

He’s really particular about how the panties are arranged, and he won’t let anyone else open the drawer. On lonely nights, “Moist Mike” opens the dresser, takes a big whiff, and jerks off into a napkin. I’m pretty sure he saves all his semen catchers in another drawer. It’s not like he has much else to put in that big ass dresser.

And me? I collect toenails. I keep them in a jar on my nightstand so I can stare at them while I bang a chick. It helps me get off faster. Every morning I reach inside and fondle the broken shards of toe. It’s the perfect antidote for my morning wood.

It’s a pretty kick ass collection. I keep them in an old pickle jar–slices, not gherkins or spears–that I didn’t really rinse out, which helps prevent fungus from spreading. I have all kinds of colors. A lot more than “Pubes” has taped to his wall or “Moist Mike” has arranged in his drawer, that’s for sure. The orange ones are my favorite. I keep a few extra bottles of nail polish lying around the room in case I don’t like the girl’s color. As soon as she orgasms, I dive under the sheets and start chewing on her toes. They always think I’m going to lick their crotch or some gross shit like that.

Most of the time, a few hard bites will yield something that’s jar-worthy. Other times, I chew until I get the whole nail off. Most of the girls don’t fuss about it too much. I almost always use a numbing agent before I start nibbling. Occasionally, a woman will kick me in the face, but it’s more reflex than anything else.

Last night this woman had magenta toes. That’s right. Fucking magenta. I thought for a minute I was in love. After chomping on her delicious tootsies, the damn jar is almost full. I don’t really want to start another one, so I might go through my collection and get rid of the ones I don’t like that much anymore. The crescent moon shaped nails sort of give me the creeps when I’m rubbing them on my body. It’s going to be hard to get rid of any though. They each have their own charm.

My dad kept dozens of pickle jars full of nails and screws and other shit in his garage. That’s where I got the idea. He loved building shit, but I never really had a knack for anything handy.

I think my old man would be proud if he could see my collection now.

Nathaniel Tower is a former English teacher who now spends his days at a computer. When not at work, he writes fiction and manages the online literary magazine Bartleby Snopes. If he’s not writing or editing, he’s either spending time with his wife and daughter, listening to records, or going for long runs while juggling. His short fiction has appeared in over 200 online and print magazines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Million Writers Award. His first collection of short fiction, “Nagging Wives, Foolish Husbands,” was released in 2014 by Martian Lit. Visit him at nathanieltower.wordpress.com

Eulogy By Andrew J. Hogan

We gather today to celebrate the life of Woodrow Jacklum, a brother, son, cousin, friend and neighbor, a man many of us thought God had not given any special endowments. Yesterday, the chairman of the North American Moose Conference faxed me his organization’s official regrets over Woody’s passing: “Please inform the family of Wildlife Biology Assistant Woodrow E. Jacklum of the Isle Royale National Park that he has been belatedly, and regretfully posthumously, inducted into the Order of Alces, notwithstanding his having attained only associate membership status during his lifetime due to the lack of an advanced science degree. The emerging field of bull moose fertility was molded almost exclusively by Woody’s innovative hands. Woody’s untimely passing came while saving Morris, Isle Royale’s alpha bull moose for the last decade, who had been injured following a confrontation with a Homeland Security vehicle on Angleworm Lake Road. Morris was Woody’s principal research subject, contributing more than 20 ejaculate samples. Woody’s heroic actions to save Morris from the jaws of the East Pack timber wolves resulted in his own death, partial dismemberment and closed casket ceremony. No other wildlife biologist, regardless of educational attainment, has even collected viable sperm samples from a free-range moose, or any other cervid, for that matter. Unscientific squeamishness over Woody’s research focus, combined the secrecy surrounding his specimen collection methods (“to protect the moose from abuse,” Woody would say), delayed well-deserved recognition of the significance of his achievements. Woody agreed to write about his specimen collection methods for Moose Call; such an article which would have almost certainly won him the Distinguished Moose Biologist Award at the next scientific meeting. Now ill fortune has deprived the North American Moose Conference, and posterity, of a full understanding of Woody’s field techniques.”

Before retirement, Andrew Hogan was a faculty member at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Since retiring, he has published twenty-four works of fiction in the OASIS Journal, Hobo Pancakes, Twisted Dreams, Thick Jam, Grim Corps, Long Story Short, Defenestration, Foliate Oak Literary Literary Magazine, The Blue Guitar Magazine, Fabula Argentea, Mobius, Thrice, The Lorelei Signal, SANDSCRIPT, and the Copperfield Review. He’s glad his mother isn’t alive to read the story he published in Paragraph Line, and, by the way, it’s the wolves that are in trouble on Isle Royale, not the moose.

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder by Walter Rogers

The well-dressed businessman who sat in the bar stool next to mine nudged me in the arm.

“Look at that one,” he said.

He pointed to a young, unescorted woman walking into The Wreck Room, Fort Worth’s best local and loudest local rock club. She wore two-sizes-too-small designer jeans, three inch high heels and a red halter top that showed off her ample bosom. She accessorized all of that with large, flashy earrings, 10 bracelets per wrist and an exposed pierced belly button. She had a tattoo of a rose with a knife slicing it in half on her upper arm.

“DAMN!! That is some fine lookin’ action right there, my man!! the guy said. “I want to stick my dick into that bitch’s pussy hole. I want to do a remake of Debbie Does Dallas with her. I video all of my sex with bitches using a hidden high def GoPro camera, too, and then upload that shit to TubePorn.com.”

He looked at the woman’s fine body up and down as she made her way across the low lit club to a table towards the back near the band stage where she seated herself.

Slow Roosevelt was the headliner, with Drowning Pool as the opening act, and a large crowd was gathering for two of Dallas-Fort Worth’s favorite local hard rock bands.

“There are some women who turn me on the exact second I see them and she’s definitely one of those,” he said. “Know what I mean?”

He nudged me in the arm again.

“You wanna fuck her, too, right? If not then you’re as gay as Elton John.”

“Yeah, she’s fucking beautiful, obviously,” I said. “But she’s too made up, too ‘perfect’ for my taste. I like women who have flaws. To get me interested in a woman I need to see a bent nose or hairy eyebrows. Maybe some crooked or, better yet, missing teeth. Short, stumpy legs would do me just fine, too. Acne scars, any scars anywhere on her body for that matter, are good. Personality disorders rule. Jail time is a real turn on. I’ll fuck an ex-con at the drop of leg chains. Anything wrong with a woman that disqualifies her from being Miss America or a supermodel is what I’m after. Those are the women I go for. Ones with questionable character or shady pasts. Bad reputations are fucking cool, too.”

The GQ hipster shook his head.

“Man, oh, man. I can’t believe what a fucked up dude you are. But I sorta suspected that kinda white trash redneck attitude would come from you after I told you I’d buy you a drink for being a True Detective fan like me and you go and order a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon instead of a Shiner Bock or Sam Adams. You know what I think? And I don’t mean to offend you, bro. But you’re a loser. You have bad taste in beer and even worst taste in women. Shit, you probably own a cat instead of a dog, for chrissakes. Look, no offense, but I’m gonna have to excuse myself now because that girl is driving me crazy. Look at me. I can’t take my eyes off of her. If I don’t get to fuck her tonight I’ll have to go on a killing spree in order to release the pent-up juices of my haywire libido. I’m gonna make my move right now. See ya later, pal.”

“Yeah, good luck. And thanks for the beer.”

He drained the last of his Shiner Bock and went over to the beauty queen. I watched him work his line of bullshit on her. He got to her table and said, standing over her back like Putin over Ukraine’s, “Hi, how are you doing? My name’s Jeff. You ‘come’ here often?”

He laughed. She didn’t.

He sat down next to her and whispered something into her ear. She got a disgusted look on her face and stood up and grabbed her purse. The Barbie Doll turned to walk out but Jeff grabbed her by the arm before she could get away from him.

“LET ME GO, ASSHOLE!!!”

He didn’t and pulled her back into the chair she was sitting in.

Everybody in the bar/rock club turned their attention away from the Dallas Stars-Detroit Red Wings hockey game playing on an HDTV in the front of the place to look at what was happening behind them.

Jeff told her, “C’mon on, baby, you know you want it good and nasty from a young, rich and cool guy like me. I know you wanna go for a ride in my 2014 Jaguar. Why else would you come into a place like this dressed like a two-bit hooker? I know you’re looking for some cheap sex and I’m just the guy who can give you that discount rate sex. Plus, I got a bottle full of Viagra at my condo. Look, I live just down the street at Museum Place. I got a waterbed. Dom Pérignon in the fridge. And, if you’re worried about herpes or the AIDS or other bugs, don’t worry. I have condoms. Trojans. Only the best for you, baby. Why don’t we leave this shit hole and get busy in the sack?”

People let out hoots and hollers. Some drunken barfly in a SLAYER t-shirt slurred, “Goooo feerriitt, baayybeeee!”

A brawny chick decked out in tattoos and cowboy boots, who was at least 50 years old, put down her bottle of Lone Star Beer and shouted, “Hey, stud muffin, take ME to your place. I know a few tricks that young thang hasn’t even learnt yet!!”

Everybody watching yelped and guffawed and snorted their drinks through their noses…except for Jeff and the Playboy Playmate of the Month he wanted to take home and get drunk on champagne with and fuck every which way, including upside down, all night long, on his waterbed.

He still had a firm grip on her arm.

“LET GO, I SAID!!!”

The Beauty was really pissed off at the Beast.

“NO FUCKING WAY, YOU CUNT!! We’re going to my place and start fucking!!”

Jeff was horny and determined to get his way. Any minute now I was expecting him to pull out a Billy Club and hit the looker over the head with it and grab a fistful of her hair and drag her to his cave.

The tension in the room had built into a fever pitch. It was like watching a reality TV show. Everyone was glued to what was gonna happen next to this quarreling sex charged couple.

With her free arm the sex pot reached into her purse and pulled out a Beretta .25 semi-auto handgun. I liked this bimbo’s choice of defense weapon. That make and model was an accurate and deadly piece. I had heard the Arlington, Texas, cops used them as ankle-holstered backups.

She stuck the gun, after releasing the safety, into Jeff’s face. His expression turned from anger at her reluctance to fuck him into sheer terror at the prospect of dying and soon. She pulled the gun’s trigger back and put it against Jeff’s forehead. Watching her handle that gun with such ease and confidence made me think she’d gotten very good firearms training and probably had had to pull out her piece many times before to get away from other “I won’t take no for an answer” assholes like Jeff.

“LET ME GO NOW (she moved the gun down to his crotch) OR I’LL BLOW OFF YOUR FUCKING DICK AND BALLS, MOTHERFUCKER!!!”

Jeff threw his hands up into the air and backed away.

“I’m cool, bitch. Real cool. Maybe you’d have better luck with that loser at the bar (he pointed at me). He loves psychotic women like you who’re one small misstep away from an insane asylum or Death Row.”

Jeff quickly left the bar, with the patrons shouting insults and jeering him all the way out.

“Don’t come back here you Wall Street prick!!!”

“We see you again and you’ll be leaving in a body bag, you faggot!!!”

“Afraid of a girl with a pea shooter? What a pussy!! Go back to Dallas, motherfucker!! Fort Worth is where the West begins and the East ends, douche bag!!”

The Amy Adams look-alike put her gun away and came over to the bar and sat down next to me. On closer inspection I noticed a pimple about to explode on her forehead and a brain surgery scar behind her left earlobe and an ankle bracelet. I told the bartender, One-Legged Karl, to give her whatever alcoholic beverage she wanted.

My future wife ordered a can of Miller High Life.

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Excerpts Taken from a Moleskine Journal Found on the Putrefied Corpse of Comedian Andy Spando By Mark Allen Berryhill

May 11th, 2014

The strangest thing happened today. I decided to perform another one of my impromptu sets for my fiance today. She wasn’t doing anything except for watching something boring on Netflix so I grabbed my mike, plugged into my home PA, cranked it to 11 (just joshing, it only goes up to 10) and stood in front of the television while I gifted her with comedy.

Just when I got to the punch line of one my favorite bits, you know the one where I end with “And get back to the kitchen! (Just kidding, I love women, I really do.)” She set the tv remote down and marched out of the room. I know what you’re thinking, how rude, I hadn’t even gotten to the end where I leave her feeling inspired with a positive message!

So she locks herself in the bedroom, puts My Last Resort on repeat and turns the volume up as loud as it can go–which is pretty loud. I politely knocked on the door, asking her if I was being too edgy, and apologized for offending her with my roguish wit. I listened really hard, and for awhile she was making a sound I could barely hear over that really great song. I couldn’t tell if she was crying, or laughing, or singing along. I got bored though and watched Space Ghost Coast to Coast on VHS until I fell asleep.

May 12th, 2014

She’s still in there, and the music is still playing. While Papa Roach is no Sentuamessage, I still love that song, you can only sing along so many times before even that gets boring. I’ve decided to give her some space. She’ll have to come out eventually to pee. She was always excusing herself to go to the bathroom as soon as I got to the best part of whatever story I was telling. It seems that every girlfriend I’ve ever had has either had IBS or the tiniest bladder. The world is a strange place.

May 13th, 2014

For once I am glad that all of the people in the adjoining apartments moved out soon after I moved in. It’s always been nice having most of this building to ourselves. I’m worried about my Facebook friends. My Macbook Air is in there with her, and so is my NES. This is the longest I’ve been away from FB since I joined. They’re probably missing me.

May 14th, 2014

I broke the TV. I tried practicing my set, but I really need an audience to bounce my ideas off of. My reflection in the television wasn’t clear enough to get that energy I need so I removed the mirror from the bathroom and tried to hang it on the television. The whole thing tipped over and broke and there’s no one to clean it up. I’ve stepped in glass twice so far today. I wish she’d get over her little episode.

 

May 15th, 2014

Okay, this is officially the longest she’s ever locked herself in the bedroom. I keep the mini fridge in there stocked with Pabst, but she must be getting hungry. Thankfully I’ve been able to eat at the Applebee’s down the street to keep up my strength. But she hasn’t come out. I put scotch tape on the door the first night this started, and she hasn’t broken the seal once. I would really like to get in there to play TMNT. I’m getting so bored.

May 16th, 2014

This boredom is killing me. I tried three times to pleasure myself, but without her here to watch me I can’t seem to, ahem, “achieve climax.” The glass in my foot is really irritating; I’ll try meditation to transcend the pain.

I can’t seem to reach nothingness alone either. I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

May 18th, 2014

This place is a mess. And there’s this awful smell coming from somewhere. There’s probably trash in the bedroom that needs to be changed. I bet she doesn’t even notice. They call that old factory fatigue because old factories used to smell really bad but you got used to it after awhile.

May 21st, 2014

I had a break down today. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried. Real men cry, you know. I violated her space by pounding on the door. I begged her to please come out. What am I going to do? I’m so hungry now and my foot hurts so much.

“Please, please come out,” I said. “One hundred thousand dollars a year doesn’t last very long in the big city and I need someone to cook for me!”

She is being such a bitch. Oh god, I didn’t mean it. Why did I write that in pen?

May 26th, 2014

The power went out, and it’s really starting to get hot in here. It’s funny that I actually miss the music now. Don’t get me started on the flies. My leg is so big and purple and powerful now, it’s the best leg I’ve ever seen.

May 27th, 2014

I had a dream last night that I saw her again. In my dream she begged me to forgive her. I do, I do forgive you for doing this to me. You can come out now.

May 28th, 2014

I almost understand what she was trying to tell me about me by choosing that song.

Cut my life into pieces – because there’s enough of me to go around.

This is my last resort – because I can’t wait forever for you to get me

Suffocation, no breathing – just like how I used to hold my breath to get what I wanted from her

Don’t give a fuck if I cut my arm bleeding – ????

May 29th, 2014

I started naming the maggots after my heroes. They crawl around inside of me. They are my friends now. Bill Hicks and Lenny Bruce. I accidentally squished little Dane Cook–I never meant to ignore you. Sam Kinnison made a little home under my big toe–hey there little guy! Jeff Dunham pupated and turned into a beautiful fly now, he went into my ear and never came out. He’ll never leave me. They’ll never ever leave me. Not like she did, not like she did.

May 31th, 21014

I can’t tell if I’m awak or dream. She nose. I pee futon. I crump… So funny now so funny now this is all a joke

Joan Bth , 2202

<illegible>

June 3rd, 2014?

I’m actually feeling a lot better now. My leg has kind of become one with the futon, like all humanity is really one with each other and the cosmos, but I bet I could hobble out the door, down three flights of stairs, and into the Applebee’s for help. This plan is so crazy it might just work.

Jun 7th, 2014

My foot came off when I tried to leave.

<The last entry isn’t dated or written in pen, it is a crudely drawn picture depicting a bearded man on a box, rendered in feces. Overlaying the drawing, written in dried blood are the words, “U Welcum.”>

Mark Allen Berryhill is a terrible person who would spit on you as soon as look at you. He spends his days shepherding volunteers around the Springfield Botanical Center, where he grows vegetables, fruits, and ornamental grasses for the community. He has a wife, two turtles and a frog. You can be his friend at https://www.facebook.com/kingmab/

 

 

Wisconsin’s continuing obsession with culinary suicide

From the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, sprouted this 22-inch monstrosity:

Each serving comes with its own AED, charged and ready to respark a lipid-destroyed heart.

More about the “Horse Collar” at NFL.com. And how’s your Sunday going? Are you ready for some football? Does this actually look good to anyone?

We here at Paragraph Line will continue to follow this story until every Wisconsinite grabs his or her chest and collapses in a heap.

Killing Michael J. Fox by Fiona Helmsley

michaelstarIn 1996, my mother was engaged to be married. As an ingratiating gesture, her fiancé offered to pay for me to go into drug treatment. The facility wasn’t a rehab in the traditional, 30- day medical setting sense; it was a historical retreat within the AA community, the type of place program aficionados might go to recharge their spiritual batteries. It was expensive, but was less costly than a thousands of dollars a month traditional facility. There was no detox there, so my family doctor wrote me a prescription for clonidine and a benzo, and the pills were dispensed to me my first week there by a nurse on staff. The place was quaint, out in the woods and rustic; there was a little chapel on the grounds and a garden where the patients could tend to plants and flowers. I was not interested in either spiritual matters or botanical ones, and as was the case with all my rehab experiences up to this point, I was the youngest person there. It was awkward being a drug addict in treatment at ages 17, 18, 19—I was still a kid, but was always placed with the adults, which just added to my sense of alienation. It was like being in treatment with your parents.

I became friendly with a woman named Marci. She often treated me with a snobby sense of superiority, but because my outward appearance drew attention, and she liked attention, she decided to be my friend so we could share in the attention together. Instead of competing with me for it, we would divide and conquer. She was in her forties and wore cocktails dresses all the time, even when we went for walks in the woods, then she would swap her heels for sneakers. She had three children, and would dictate her letters to them to me and I would write them out for her. She would then take the letter to the administrative facility and photocopy it; ergo, each kid got the same letter.

On a regular, casual basis, I used to wear ripped fishnet stockings with shorts and skirts. One day, I wore the fishnets to morning mediation and they caused a considerable stir amongst the patients and staff. I wasn’t told not to wear them, but it was obvious it was a matter that we would be revisiting later. After the group, Marci begged me to take them off the stockings, and let her wear them, which I did, just to stop her pleading. Later that afternoon, we were both taken aside by the staff and told to retire the fishnets. Marci relished claiming that she was the reason the stockings had been banned, and recapping the incident for new patients. She seemed to think it implied something about her dangerous sexiness, as the stockings hadn’t been banned until she put them on.

There was a large lodge on the grounds were they would hold AA meetings that were open to the public. Since the facility was storied in AA lore, people would come from far and wide and these meeting would be filled with hundreds of people. It was an exciting event for the patients. It was also the only time during the week we got to drink caffeinated coffee.

I grew up watching “Family Ties” and adored Michael J. Fox, whose real middle initial is the prescient “A”, making his real name Michael A. Fox. “Back to the Future,” “Teen Wolf,”— the precociously conservative Alex P. Keaton is still one of my favorite television characters. Fox has been candid in interviews about his struggles with alcoholism, and donates money to many different causes connected with helping people get sober, so I don’t feel I am “outing” him by writing this. I was outside the meeting lodge smoking a cigarette when he walked past me; I had to do a double take. I couldn’t believe it. I was in the same immediate airspace as Marty fucking McFly. As awed as I was by this, I knew an A.A meeting was not the place to approach him; after all, the second A in AA stands for Anonymous, and that dictate applies to celebrities, too. Marci appeared besides me dressed to the nines. I was literally so excited to see Michael J. Fox, I thought I might throw up.

“Michael J. Fox is here!” I whispered to her.

“What was he in again?” Marci asked. His name was familiar to her, but she couldn’t recall any of his acting work; nonetheless she was clearly intrigued that there was a celebrity in our midst.

“We have to sit near him,” she said, reading my mind. I figured this was ok, we could sit near him. What could be wrong with that? I wouldn’t point, stare, or ogle him, but I would be close enough to note what kind of sneakers he had on, and this seemed like an important thing for me to know.

We settled into our seats a few rows behind him. I was content to just stare at the back of his head.

Marci suddenly jumped up.

“I’m going to say something to him,” she said.

“No, don’t!” I said, grabbing at the back of her dress, but it was too late. She went up to his chair in the next row and tapped him on his shoulder. He turned around to face her and she pointed in my direction.

“Will you say something to this girl?” she said confidently. “She’s obsessed with you.”

I wanted to die. I literally wanted to crawl under my chair and have the earth open and suck me inside of it. I could feel my face turning bright red, and when I saw the look on his face, I felt that I deserved to meet a painful end, too.

I spoke over Marci.

“No, no, it’s ok! It’s ok! I’m so sorry!”

Michael J. Fox glanced over in my direction. Then he gave Marci a look of pure poison, and turned back around. He never said a word, because he is a great actor, he didn’t need to. With his face and body language, he had communicated exactly how he felt about us.

Since Michael J. Fox did not try to flirt with her and she couldn’t engage him, all that was left for Marci to do was come back to her seat and sit down. “I tried!” she said loudly, as if to reinforce that I’d put her up to it.

A few minutes later, the meeting began. At the start of the discussion part, Michael J. Fox got up and left. I felt horrible. I felt like the biggest, tackiest, doucheiest loser in the world. Later, when I got back to my room and told my roommate what had happened she just made me feel worse: What if Michael J. Fox had been thinking about drinking, she said, and because we had made him feel so uncomfortable that he’d left the meeting, he went on a bender on his way back home?

In essence she was saying to me, what if you just killed Michael J. Fox?

I hated Marci for what she had done. I never wanted to talk to her ever again.

Thankfully, the next week, a man named Tyler checked himself into the program and rescued me from her clutches. He had a lazy eye and wore Hootie and The Blowfish t-shirts. It took about a week and a half, but I fell in rehab love.

Love.

Try as they might, it’s the one drug no rehab can keep off their grounds.