The new client was a hugely fat, fez-wearing mystery gink from the incest-and-incense-redolent East. He had beautiful hands, ripe with purple finger jewels. He seemed a little too happy to be alive, grinning and snuffling with pleasure as he oozed into the room like a slow-mo tidal wave. Sphinxy, my partner, was crouched by the window, smoking kef and humming a wistful rendition of “Cleopatra’s Asp.”
His Corpulence stuck out his hand and said, “Mr. Sphincter, I presume?” in a voice as smooth as hot-buttered ginch. I nodded to the glass door where backward letters said, SPHINCTER AND SPHINX, PRIVATE PARTS DETECTIVE AGENCY. Being a hard-ass kind of fella, I didn’t return the gesture. Having no hands was a factor too. He wriggled his quarter-ton corpus into a chair and started in with the smirking and the cheesy chuckles. The sphinx on his fez ( a little two-D brass jobby) winked at my partner. They both had the body of a lion, the wings of an eagle and the face and chest of a beautiful oh-so-naked woman. But his cheap replica couldn’t hold a candle to my sphinxy.
I’ve seen men, getting a flash of her mythic flesh, instantaneously convert to Islam and start gyrating to silent Sufi twister-hymns. I’ve seen women melt to foetid puddles of oyster goo after hearing Sphinxy’s bottomless growl. And if I played my cards right, soon she’d be my better half. I’d popped my clutch and popped the question just the day before. No answer yet, but I knew she’d come around soon and say “Oh yeah.”
It turned out that our new client had a certain something, or I should say, a nothing, he wanted us to locate, discreetly of course. “A lacuna, an absence, an aperture, ein nichts, a nihil. In short, Mr. Sphincter, a hole. A killer hole.” Ms. Sphinxette smiled and purred from deep in her leonine loins. This was in fact the kind of work we specialized in. We’d been called in before to investigate the holes in a hypercube of Jarlsberg cheese, the spherical absence of a balloon when the rubber skin is peeled away, an extreme case of automotive vapor lock, a street corner where absolutely nothing had ever happened, a situation involving the words razored out of a book by an overzealous censor, the sound of a dog that never barked, and the presence of far too many zeros in the bank account of a certain well-known know-nothing politician. But we’d never been involved with a lethal hole before. After puffing a few jets of pearly Cuban smoke, I clamped down tight on my butt and said, “I’m your man.” So Big Daddy handed me a generous retainer and flowed out of our office.
The first place I checked out was the El Squami Klub. Der Fezz had indicated that a certain Buddy Moloch (who performed his quasi-natural act there) had been the last person to see the hole before it had vanished. I rolled into the Klub and was immediately hit by a squalling squeal of a little bent-clothes-hanger of a man: the emcee in crotch-tight monkey suit. “Yas, yas, yas. Get down and lift your glad voices for Mr. Throbbing Organ himself. Yas, it’s that time again to get hit with the red-hot rhythmus stick. To bang and gong and get it on. To choke the Holy Chicken and pump the stump. Everybody get your blowhole primed be-cuz, be-cuz IT’S BIG ORGAN TIME!” A dam-burst of gut-bucket riffing flooded the place. The curtain pulled back and there he was in glitter lapel jacket, razor-crease pants and halogen bright choppers. Mr. Buddy Moloch sat at the Hammond B-3 on a throne of blood-colored ultra-suede, caressing the ivories while the tuxedo-ape emcee twisted himself into a coil of joy: the organ grinder and the trance-channeling shaved monkey in spandex and runny mascara. The B-3 whined and wheezed a mighty funky-butt overload: organ meat, soul food smorgasbord in the night kitchen. Buddy Moloch pumped the organ and the Legion of Rhumba-maniacs glided and glissed like a select squadron of synchronized swimmers in the overheated and under-chlorinated gene pool. The emcee bleated into the mike, “Bump and grind! Move that mystery meat!” and all the girls proceeded to their gear-stripping, skinny-dipping big production number in a gigantic fish tank slathered with Vaseline and nocturnal transmission fluid.
Two tiny manta-ray twinlets with flapping devil fins came up blowing sloppy kiss-slaps on the raw nerve-meat of their own dorsal surface mucosa. Closer, I looked at the pulsing gill slits, wet and convulsive, the blind lips grasping for the mollusk mood muscle. Then I was in, yanked under the rolling oily waves by a bivalve suction vortex. Hammerhead shark-sister bit my five-finger sucker cup and immediately some pinky-purple jellyfish-girl had me in a headlock. A sea cucumber squeezed tight and blew its liquid load: jets of salty spume in a multiple nozzle seed-squirt. Then they let in the humpback whaleen, big as a blimp, and all of them slid on top of her back, to ride ride ride that Naugahyde bronco into one screechy suboceanic roe-job blast.
After it was all over, after I’d crawled out and toweled off, I went backstage to meet Mr. Entertainment. Knocking on the dressing room door, I got no answer. I tried again and decided to peek inside. He was there all right, but he was losing body heat fast. I wouldn’t be getting very far with him in that state: strangled so hard the top of his head had burst like a zucchini in a hangman’s knot.
Back at the office, I told my partner what I’d found and all she could say was “when is a hole not a hole?” I shrugged. I was never very good at her riddles. “Where there’s something in it,” my svelte minx said, and sauntered over to rub her sleek flanks against me. Three minutes with her and I’d forgotten the case. That perfect pair of mythic mammaries, that question mark smile, that ululating uvula that makes men get down and beg to be put out of their misery. She preened her wings and asked me how Buddy had died. How do they all die? Strangled, throttled, choked. Though most times I didn’t find their eye balls dangling from the ceiling on threads of brainal goo. I went over the facts, such as they were, again. We were looking for nothing, so it could be anywhere. “When is a circle a square?” Sphinxy said in a voice so sexy I was throbbing like a toothache. Of course: the boxing ring, the squared circle.
Kid Nada was defending his title that night. I got a ringside seat and watched the two-legged canines fight over the golden bone. There in the acetylene spotlight: the thud of the flesh and leather, the grunts and strained wheezes, the gouts of hot sweat flying through the air. After the Kid had reduced his opponent to a puddle of pink slime, I used my connections to have a little meet with him. Stark naked, gore-drenched, heavyweight champion of the entire civilized world, he was a gorgeous animal reeking of adrenaline dregs, wintergreen liniment, spleen stench and soaked cotton wrappings. The room was tiny, crowded and dank, a windowless den. The Kid squatted in the center like a savage in front of an invisible fire. His flesh glowed with Vaseline, bruises and body burn.
But my attention was grabbed by an apparition in the doorway. The minute she appeared, I knew I’d been steered right. Talk about nothingness incarnate: she was beautiful and she was hardly there. A vacuum sucking out the eyes of anyone who saw her, a great perambulating vixen-void. She saw me, blenched phosphorus white, and was gone like a scrap of newspaper caught in an October gust. “Who was that?” I asked no one in particular. The Kid’s managers said, “Calls herself ‘Miss Vulvina.’ You know how strippers never use their real names.”
It didn’t take long, cruising every skin-joint and poon parlor on the Strand to find her again, working at Aunt Una’s Universal Massage-o-Drome and Friction Palace. The customers looked like horseflies on a piece of neon turd, buzzing and rubbing against themselves, sticking out drooly tongues when the girls came out to the edge of the stage. They were all drunk, some on corn juice and some with clear plastic bags of carbon tet and toluene strapped to their faces. And as soon as a new girl would appear, the caustic fumes of the place would start eating off her clothes, bubbles and long gooey curls peeling away, and then the skin too. But before they were totally liquified, the pompadoured host would announce the next girl. “Gentlemen! Please assume an erect posture. Clear the aisles. Familiarize yourselves with the emergency exits and sources of oxygen.”
The parade of pulchritude marched on and what was left of my mind was dry and wrinkled as a raisin when I heard the words I’d come to hear. “Direct from the ninth ring of heavenly hell, our own Miss Vulvina!” The spotlight burned like a magnifier’s beam and there she was, doing a tripod squat-thrust on the balls of her feet and the knuckles of one hand. The nether eye shone bright, pallid and pellucid, the boiled egg of ocular love, swimming with floaters like tiny fish in an aqueous matter aquarium.
Then the light shifted and there was a new tableau vivant: Bride of the A-Bomb. She stood in a long gown made from human skin, bleached virgin-white. She smiled and a light shone from inside her body, her flesh a flimsy Japanese lantern. She stood on the little stage-cum-atom-smasher and she said she needed a volunteer. Before anyone else could move, I was there on stage with her.
I looked her in the upper eye, in the pulsing retinal blister-membrane about to pop. She had a table wheeled out by two gorgeous shake-babies in about a half ounce of spangles, sparkle-pumps and nothing else. What could I do but put my head on the chopping block and say, “lop it off, lop it clean off Ms. Executioner, Ma’am. Cleave me in twain.” But she wanted it the other way around. So in a flash I had her up on the table and in the box and was doing the magical saw routine, slicing through her ghost-flesh while the metal blade keened like a born-again banshee. They say it’s all done with smoke and mirrors, but I think there really was some necromantic romance-manna floating in the air that eve. With the purple radium cloud glowing around her doleful doxie smile, soon enough the audience was blind, and me too—almost—as I sawed in a seizure-spell. Then in a one rush, sweet vapors came jetting out: myrrh, gold dust, and frankenstein fumes. The music ground down to a dirty dirge and I got a peek through the pheromonic swirl at a small black spot on her breast. A wisp of smoke came, growing and spreading, and in ten thumps of my humping heart she was on fire, a radiant sacrificial victim. I tried to save her. Really, I did. I held her tight to snuff out the flames as she burnt at the stake of her own subatomic blasphemy. But she just crumbled to ash and was gone.
It took some fancy palavering, string-pulling and distribution of plenty green geetis to get myself out of that one. But a few hours later I was back at the office and there was the über-fez again, though nowhere near as pleased to see me as the day before. “Your partner has informed me that little progress has been made in the case,” he said, cleaning under his nails with a platinum shark’s tooth. “In fact, it appears that the situation is far more grave than when I engaged your services.” I couldn’t argue with that. But I was also in no mood for the Grand Inquisitor routine. I’d just about gotten myself lynched and deep-fried. I was hungry, horny, ornery, itchy, and I hadn’t slept in thirty-six hours. “That’s true,” I said, “but let me explain . . . ” He heaved himself up from the chair and bellowed like a fog horn. “I’m not interested in explanations or excuses! Time is running out, Mr. Sphincter. And I must have possession of the item in question by the end of the day or there will be dire consequences.” And with that, he lurched out of the room, leaving a wake like a battleship through heavy seas.
My first impulse was to crack open a Scotsman, ram it into my hole and leave it there until I was numb, mum and dumb. But seeing Sphinxy by the window, gazing at me with that x-ray laser beam luv-o-vision, I knew I needed to take the higher path. She sighed, ruffled her feathers, and said, “What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs by day and three at night?” The answer to that one was easy: me, myself and I. I wake up and crawl around on all fours. Finally I hit my stride by afternoon. And then the sun goes down, I truck on three legs, letting my middle one do most of the locomotion. And Sphinxy’s second—unspoken—question was obvious: where would I find my triple-XXX dream-come-true that night? Simple: everybody knew that the Big Miss Amerika pageant would start in a couple of hours.
The whole way there, I was thinking about my partner. She always wore that cryptic half-smile and stared at me with those eyes that never closed in sleep. She always had a thousand questions. But this time, something was different. It was like she already knew the answers to the mystery and was just giving me enough rope to get myself well-hung.
The sea pounded the Boardwalk like a thousand trip-hammers. Spotlights raked the sky. Out a few hundred yards I saw the spouts of whales, drawn to this massive concentration of high-grade female hormones. Flumes cutting the icy air, flash of white in the black water, jets of overheated cetacean body-spunk.
I flashed my tin, went inside and there was the Fez-meister on stage, smiling like 100,000 watts of neon. His tuxedo was perfect: a suit of gleam-glitz armor, legs and sleeves stiff as plexiglass, a bulletproof cummerbund, and shoes of high-carbon steel. And behind him were fifty of the most beautiful girls from around the country. With Vaseline on their teeth, breasts taped together for maximum cleavage, glossy crimson lips, and hair lacquered into tribal hoodoo headgear. They paraded together in a sexy coffle-dance, tied with miles of dental floss and polystyrene chain. Some were in bathing suits, other in evening gowns. One was dressed in a cute usherette uniform and behind her was a redhead in acrobat spangles. Catholic schoolgirl plaids, curve-hugging velours, nurses’ spotless whites.
The Big Man, like some Lounge Lizard Neptune, raised a three-pronged spear and without batting an eyelash, jabbed it into one of the girls. The crowd gasped as she slumped over and he pulled out a flensing knife to split her open. Then he slapped her down on the fiery gridiron and her shrieks erupted: agony and ecstasy and high-torque libido squalls. She caught fire in a wink and was wrapped in pretty red white and blue flames. The Man sang another chorus of “Here She Comes.” The sacrificial cutie screamed her last climax scream and the rhythms from the pit band pounded like hurricano surf. Only then did Der Mann open the magic satchel and hoist high the tiara which would be placed on the luckiest, the most worthy, contestant.
That was all it took, finally, to knock me out of my trance: the stab of light off those hundred icy jewels. The high octane glitter hit me and I was up on that stage in a flash to put an end, once and for all, to this reign of glam-terror. He didn’t get one more word out. I took him around the neck and yanked in tight. I squeezed, throttled, choked and strangled for all that I was worth. He gasped and blew drool-rings; he thrashed like a beached beluga, blow-holing a column of deep-sea death spume. With a sleazy fanfare from the trumpets and an explosion of indoor fireworks, the Fez-thing flopped down dead on the stage, and I let him go. With that, all the girls were set free from the evil spell and crowded around me, cooing and stroking, mewing and poking, trying to get a piece of the Glory That Is Me.
One of them ripped off her gown to lay it at my feet. In an eyeblink, they were all nakedizing themselves, and grabbing the Big Man’s trident, began to cut him up. They hoisted him on creaking winch-chains and started in strip-mining huge slabs of bloody pink blubber from his enormous carcass. Somebody found a sharpened garden spade, another a nail file, and a third an ancient ganch-hook. Out came the venerable headsman’s ax, a razor-edge coke spoon, a serpent’s tooth, a Congo machete and a veterinarian’s bone-saw. And the stage was soon awash in a scarlet tide, all the girls splashing around in the fat and blood, the ooze and grease and whitish whale goo.
So it devolved into a naked neck-deep orgy in the sloshing carcass of Über-Dad. His whole body was our playground: his stiff gut membrane a trampoline, his ribs a jungle-gym for the girls to scamper up like spider monkeys, digging in the pink fat-globules to make sand castles and adipose-tissue angels, hand-over-hand up the ropes of his veins.
All this was just prelude to the final organic quicksand production number. I got a finger into one girl’s greasy dike while my tongue glided along some suppurating cleavage. My toes were squeezed by boogie-woogie bucal suction power-clench. And with my special sphincter death-grip, I grabbed three sweeties at once and squeezed until they turned inside out with beautiful gut-spew: all-natural digestive spunk, lotus-scented lard with a full day’s supply of vitamin C+. One girl was drowning in a tide of cuttlefish compote, pork gravy and burst giblets. Another ground her hams together to emit white-hot ether fumes and friction glow. Bile and slippery beestings squirted up my nose as we plunged in, fore and aft, above and below, to the monstrous male death-placenta. A plait of hair came to life like a hot-wired python and poked into my Ring of Fire until the damn burst. All of us, all at once, exploded with reedy honks and howls, geysers of hot briny poon-porridge. We, as one, deliquesced into a huge puddle of pulsing love lather as the spotlights snapped off, and the band packed up and left, the crowd trickled out, and our soft sweet bubbling slime-hiss dwindled to nothing.
It was near sunrise when I got back to the office. Sphinxy was there waiting for me, her eyes throbbing like pregnant jellyfish in the dawn gloom. She got up, slunk over, and rubbed her blissom flanks against me. “You and me, you and me, just you and me,” she murmured. It didn’t take Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary of Etymology to know we were made for each other. Sphincter and Sphinx, the stranglers of love.
“You did it,” she purred. “You showed Daddy what you were really made of.” A spazzing contraction ran through me. “Daddy?” I gulped. “Of course. Who else would put you through all of that but my Proud Papa? He was only looking out for his precious little girl, making sure that you were the true and absolute Mr. Right. And you did it. You really did it. Now we can get married nice and proper.” I slipped the precious nuptial ring—all of me—around her and squeezed tight. And it was good.