Sunday, March 4, 2012

Book Sample: Chapter 2

I've received requests to post more of the book as a sample, so I'm going to post Chapter 2, where we meet the hapless villains. Included: links at the bottom to purchase the book on every conceivable digital platform... if you're intrigued by what you read here ;)


Love Bomb and the Pink Platoon, Chapter 2

         Burnam carefully outlined her hips, then erased and recast her waistline to accentuate the curves beneath her black panties. He paused, studied his work, and erased her waistline again. He despised women with large waistlines, and square bodies, he thought, he despised those, too. Women should be curved in all the right places, only the right places, like his mother, god rest her soul. Now, there was a woman, he thought.
         Burnam brought the waistline in on his doodle and whipped his pencil off the page with a flourish. On paper the pinup stood, her right knee angled in, her right hand on her hip, a cigarette in the other, tight black curls falling from her head.
         I should’ve been an artist, he thought. What does it pay, drawing? I bet the women are better. Just look at this one, she’s stunning, he thought.
         He imagined being fucked by her. He preferred to lie still while the woman rode him. Truthfully, he was usually paralyzed by fear when naked in front of a woman, and thus had no choice. Once, in Vietnam, on a lark he told the prostitute to order him around like his superiors did, and the moment blossomed into something beautiful for Burnam.
         She embraced her chance to mock him and the soldiers she had watched overrun her home, and put on an inspired performance barking orders, pacing through the room, even grabbing Burnam’s pistol off the floor and waving it around wildly, pretending to shoot it into the air to punctuate each command, which is how she imagined the American soldiers approached their work. Her enthusiasm for the role allowed Burnam to escape the terrifying reality of his nudity by responding exactly as he would back at the war: by simply following orders.
         She ordered him to lie on his stomach. What happened next shook Burnam to his core. Straddling his bare back, the prostitute jammed Burnam’s face into the pillow and, without warning, shoved one of her tiny fingers into Burnam. He screamed into the pillow. She pushed deeper, and a wave of pain shot through him and he screamed again.
         But, he did not roll over. He did not throw her off and halfway across the room, as he envisioned doing. He did not, in short, resist. After all, he was a good soldier, just following orders.
         Burnam panted and began to sweat, opened his eyes and tried to focus them on the headboard, to regain some sense of place and time, but the prostitute, sensing the slightest loss of control, forged ahead, again.
         Suddenly the pain was gone. The surge of adrenaline and the raw eroticism of violating and being violated overtook Burnam, and the tips of his fingers and toes began to tingle. He traced the thin line of sensation as it raced from his forearms, neck and spine, down through his thighs and calves and back again.
         “You love me now,” she whispered, after a short silence.
         Burnam dressed himself quickly, frightened that staying in the room now would somehow alert his friends to what he had just done, and could never undo. He wanted the moment to die, the witness to disappear, the reality to- through some strange shift in the cosmos which he could not comprehend or create- become simply an erotic fiction he had dreamed under a shady tree in the jungle.
         He considered killing her, but it was a fleeting thought. He had killed plenty of gooks who actually deserved to die, for which he knew he was still right with God. But allowing a gook to finger you, and then killing her… How would the Big Man react to the double offenses of sodomy and murder on the same day, he wondered? Not well, probably.
         Burnam never returned, and never paid for sex again during the war. His masturbation rituals, however, took on a new and daring complexity. He discovered beads and lotions, learning to insert and remove and lube and rub in almost perfect silence, for you are never alone on a military base, even when you are alone.
         Burnam took chances, stupid chances. He once gagged himself at three a.m., lying in his top bunk, and masturbated vigorously in the darkened silence. Lost in the majesty of his orgasm, he forgot to remove the makeshift gag, and thus awoke with a t-shirt tied around his head, soaking all the moisture out of his mouth and throat. It was only by the grace of God that he awoke moments before his sergeant burst into the barracks, and he was able to rip the t-shirt off, and part of his tongue with it. When he tried to scream he could only cough, and so tumbled out of bed coughing blood directly onto the sergeant’s shoes. The sergeant, who had previously made plain his disgust at Burnam’s general shyness, which he equated to weakness, was so infuriated by the blemishing of his shoes he remanded Burnam to clean them daily. Though Burnam detested his new role as slave to the sergeant, it was a small price to pay for the moments of glorious solitude he collected each morning as he trudged across the barracks to shine the sleeping sergeant’s shoes.
         Emboldened by the near failure, Burnam became reckless, masturbating in bathroom stalls, behind trees, under the table in his favorite gook cafĂ© while sipping jasmine tea. It was this curious abandon that led Burnam to huddle behind the jeep with a string of beads dangling from his hand one sweltering afternoon, summoning the courage to succumb to temptation.
         He had never inserted anything in broad daylight, certainly never while on patrol, but there was a first time for everything, he thought, and why not today? If the U.S. Military expects me to stay sane during this quagmire, shouldn’t I be allowed to indulge myself every once in a while, he thought? Won’t that help me be all that I can be? In some twisted way, he reasoned, I’m doing this for my country. This one is for America, he thought. And thus, with great patriotic zeal, Private Walt Burnam unlatched his belt, dropped his pants, and inserted a string of four beads into his rectum while on patrol just south of the 17th parallel.
         Exactly three minutes later Burnam held the string in front of his face, staring at the three beads that remained. He could hear his heartbeat rattle through his shirt, echoes of imagined gasps and laughter ringing his ears, his remaining months in Vietnam suddenly becoming very, very lonely. He couldn’t go to the medics, they played poker with the mechanics. He couldn’t go to his platoonmates, providing the appropriate context would take hours.
         Burnam gingerly shuffled with the tiniest of strides back to his barracks. He clenched his cheeks, attempting to stop the bead’s shifting, but each step further bludgeoned the soft tissue with the wooden, marble-sized tumor stuck inside of him.
Inside the empty barracks he fell to his knees and began to crawl to the bathroom. He fought back tears and cursed this day as the unluckiest of his life.
         A curious sound interrupted his internal monologue and he stopped, suspended on one knee and one hand, listening. Was he imagining the soft whimpering echoing throughout the barracks, or was he making the noise himself, the cry ringing in his ears yet to spill out of his mouth?
         Frozen, Burnam realized the whimpering was growing steadily louder. Now he was certain the noise was not coming from his own mouth, though he empathized with it deeply. The melancholy perfectly echoed his own.
         He delicately placed one hand in front of the other, pulling himself forward, marking every painful note of the soft crying as he crawled closer and closer.
Inches from the large, open bathroom now, Burnam stopped. The throbbing spread to his entire hindquarters, the act of crawling on all fours working new muscles and joints that even the most rigorous military training had failed to prepare.
         He peeked into the bathroom and there, bent over a sink and crying softly was the sergeant whose shoes Burnam cleaned every morning while he slept ten feet away, being fucked from behind by a very large, very black private nicknamed “Night Train” by the other blacks.
         And that is how one Private Walt Burnam became Lieutenant Walt Burnam, then Sergeant Walt Burnam, then Captain Walt Burnam and finally General Walt Burnam. He followed just one short step behind the man whose secret he kept as that man climbed the United States military’s career ladder. Although the marriage was not a happy one, it was functional. Burnam, due not to a sense of loyalty but to sheer lack of ambition, kept Sergeant Mehlman’s secret for some 30 years, and Mehlman, due solely to self-preservation, kept the secret of Private Burnam’s dereliction of patrol duty for some 30 years. They had even developed a sort of ambivalent respect for each other, two lazy rats at sea, stuck on the freighter of life, locked in a simple, functional blood pact to keep sharing the crumbs that fell from men, riding out their days watching one another’s backs for swooping seagulls or swinging brooms, with no objective other than simply not dying or being thrown overboard. This is how the perfectly average Walt Burnam, from Saint Paul, Minnesota, whose only meaningful accomplishment in life was losing a wooden marble in his own asshole, came to sit at the crossroads of history.
         Burnam shaded in the supple curves around the pinup’s breasts and silently thanked God that Mehlman was not snoring today, for noise from one tended to draw attention to both, and attention usually meant work.
         Burnam could not tolerate the thought of being assigned work today, or on any of his remaining 17 days of service in the United States military. A real assignment, and all the accountability- orders, planning, paperwork, implementation, more paperwork, oversight, processing, and finally reporting- would ensure his last 17 days of service would be exhausting, for, once you’ve been promoted for doing nothing, doing anything is cumbersome upon one’s psyche, and at Burnam’s age, lower back and knees.
         General Colt Howell, a career prick who had risen through the ranks over 32 years of dedicated service to whatever mission, objective, duty or order was being airdropped from his superiors around the world, brought the meeting toward its close.
         “Bung, Boretto, get the JAG’s office on this right away,” said Howell in the casual style of a man who never needs to pause for questions. “Now, you all have your directives…” Howell stopped, noticing the brief, bold heading at the bottom of his directives directive. An irritated frown crept into the corner of his mouth, the richest expression he was capable of making.
         “Actually,” he started again, “My apologies, I almost forgot. There is one more system we have yet to test…”
         Mehlman snorted violently and whipped one arm into the air like a dog chasing a rabbit through his dreams. Thirty-four generals, secretaries, aids and assistants turned at once, startled by the hysterics of the now whimpering, shaking general, who had begun to chase the rabbit with great urgency. Burnam lifted his eyes slowly from his erotic sketching, and prayed silently that all eyes were not fixed upon his partner, his mentor, his secret’s keeper. They were.
         Howell’s eyes narrowed as he imagined leaping onto the table, sprinting to Mehlman, scissor-kicking the groggy fool in the nose and stomping him to death, then stomping his friend Burnam to death. He imagined the applause, or better, the silent submission with which each subordinate would approach him from that moment forward, for fear of being stomped to death. Really, it would only take one stomping to death, and he would have the entire base under his thumb, he thought. Then he imagined the accompanying paperwork and dropped the fantasy.
         Burnam slid the legal pad slowly off the mahogany desk and pulled it to his chest like a pubescent girl hoping not to be seen shuffling between classes. He stared at the desk pretending not to notice the deadly silence, as the hopeless thought raced through his mind: if I remain still, perhaps they won’t see me.
         Mehlman’s panting petered out, the rabbit disappeared into the woods, and true, searing silence followed. Since the outburst all of four seconds had passed, but the burning glares of 34 colleagues slowed time to the point that Burnam could hear the individual disdain leak from each person’s frown. Howell’s frown was the loudest, and his narrowed eyes drilled tiny holes into Burnam’s soul.
         In his long, illustrious career General Colt Howell had massacred unarmed villagers, assisted in covering up friendly fire incidents, wrote widely circulated press releases that painted murderous retreats and failures as scalptaking victories, and most recently provided falsified documents to better his nation’s case for launching a long-desired invasion of a small, brown country rich with oil. In short, he was the perfect general: a viciously talented and equivocating loyalist whose morality was both determined and reinforced by balancing in the ever-shifting sands of his boss’s current desire.
         General Howell had one other gift that greased the wheels of ascension: he was born handsome. He had learned at an early age that his looks- clean and sharp, but forever nonthreatening- created a baseless trust in him, which he fostered with proper grammar, even temperament, and eyeglasses. He could order the carpetbombing of an entire town of civilians, or shred the very document that exonerated said enemy nation of said bombing, all while smiling calmly and speaking evenly, in vanilla tones and common words. He was most definitely a sociopath in that way, but a handsome one. Strangers found themselves thinking, upon first glance, “I like that guy,” though they knew nothing of him beyond the snapshot he presented them, of a polished and pious human being. He could have been a very successful politician, but he lacked that ambition. He was perfectly happy peaking as the greatest lapdog in the game: he was safe, got outdoors often, and was always fed.
         At this moment, he was considering just how to feast upon the generals Mehlman and Burnam, two worthless shitstacks who, following years of ambivalence, he decided he hated now.
         Howell slammed his open palm on the table, sending a shockwave directly to Mehlman’s ear.
         “Let God sort ‘em out!” yelled Mehlman, reflexively, startled awake. He lifted his head and took inventory, and slowly lifted himself the three inches he had slouched while sleeping.
         “Morning, General,” quipped Howell. “Would you like to join us?”
         No, Mehlman thought. But even 17 days from retirement he knew better than to intentionally poke the bear.
         “As I was saying, there is one system we have yet to test, but it’s a huge undertaking. I wouldn’t dream of giving this to anyone but my best men,” said Howell, as the hint of a cryptkeeper’s grin crawled into the corners of his mouth.
         Mehlman rubbed his eyes, confused by Howell’s tone and angered by the direct attention and eye contact.
         “Do you know what the term ‘Olfactory Chemical Directives’ refers to, General Mehlman?”
         “Not a clue, sir.”
         “That’s fine, quite alright, General,” Howell said with faux congeniality. “You’ll have plenty of time to learn while you’re administering their usage on our volunteer control population.”
         “Sir,” Mehlman began to speak but his throat was still asleep, dry as a bone.
         “You and Burnam will be conducting the last in our series of nonlethal weapons tests, the Olfactory Chemical Directive, or O.C.D.”
         A knot slowly began to tie itself in Burnam’s stomach, pulling the soft lining into itself.
         “Wasn’t that directive scrapped, General?” Burnam asked warily, knowing that a directive, once scrapped, then brought back, was an unclear directive and unclear directives were ultimately unsuccessful directives, and unsuccessful directives meant mountains upon mountains of paperwork that would support the military’s efforts around the world and at home in exactly no ways, yet must be completed regardless of their preordained uselessness, in a timely fashion, and submitted to the proper oversight bodies in triplicate, all of which must happen before Burnam- and Mehlman- could officially retire and end this charade of a partnership once and for all.
         “We tried to scrap it General Burnam, we did,” continued Howell, “But Secretary of Defense Cadbury himself sent it back with a rather strongly worded rebuke, quite frankly, stating in no uncertain terms that per protocol, no matter how absurd the notion, the notion must be tested.” He paused, reflecting upon Cadbury’s irritating decision. “Secretary Cadbury is a stickler for protocol.”
         Burnam suddenly realized he had left his ballpoint pen pressed to his legal pad, and the ink had soaked into and overrun one of the sexiest drawings he had ever done in these endless meetings. Isn’t that perfect, he thought, wallowing in self-inflicted sarcasm.
         “What is the notion to be tested?” asked Mehlman, stretching his toes and clinching his calves, trying to send blood back into the sleepiest corners of his body.
         “As was detailed extensively in your original brief some months ago, General,” said Howell, “the notion to be tested is that if the battlefield enemy is stimulated enough, he will not be able to concentrate on his directive, leaving him vulnerable to our offensive. So we could, theoretically, seek to distract the enemy with said aphrodisiac dispersion device, the O.C.D.”
         “What, if I may, sir, is an aphrodisiac dispersion device,” said Mehlman, confounded by massive words he was certain could be truncated in some way.
         “It’s perfume, Mehlman,” growled Burnam, disgust dripping from each syllable. “We spray an enemy platoon with perfume and they become so horny they lose the will to fight.”
         “Why don’t we just bomb them?” blurted Mehlman, “We have a target, we blow it up. It’s what we do.”
         Howell was enjoying the equal parts confusion and humiliation he was witnessing from these thorns in his ass. “It’s nonlethal, General. Capture only.”
         “A perfume bomb?” pleaded Mehlman. “This is a joke, right?”
         “No, Barry, it’s no joke,” said Burnam, slowly resigning to his fate. “Just a final slap in the face for the military’s least distinguished gentlemen.”
         General Sydney “Bird Dog” Fuller, a pockmarked, smoking, brick chimney of a man, a shameless prick for whom the middle management rung of the military was a haven- from the weak, feminine, politically correct real world, filled with its apologies and hugs, and televisions, weddings and popular music, and black people, everywhere, black people nowadays- leaned forward, a cat with two sleepy, old mice cornered and shaking. “They think it’s a punishment, General Howell,” he said, his Arian blue eyes suddenly as black as his lungs.
         “Do they, General Fuller?”
         “I believe they do, General Howell,” said Fuller, warming up to the thrill of bullying these soft clams. “Now, Generals, this isn’t a punishment, you know that,” he growled with mock compassion, a technique he had mastered when disciplining his stepchildren. He had discovered long ago that mock compassion was the jab that lowered their guards, leaving them naked and vulnerable to the next punch, the haymaker: clear, cutting sarcasm.
         “This is a revolutionary program, this perfume bomb!” He paused to allow the snickering to ripple through the ranks. “We thought you’d appreciate the chance to make one last contribution to your grateful nation before you retire. And, may I suggest that contribution comes in the form of Chanel Number Five? I can’t get enough of that delectable aroma!”
         The room broke into outright laughter. “I’m getting flustered just thinking about it!” continued Fuller. “Is it hot in here?” He pretended to look at his lap, just under the table, hinting that the mere mention of the scent had aroused him, before joining the chorus.
         Sufficiently humiliated, Burnam and Mehlman stood, saluted and shuffled out of the room. The echoing laughter all but slammed the door behind them.
















- Ryan (ryan@lovebombbook.com)

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