Ted Pullman is a washed-up, middle-aged porn star who’s fallen on hard times (no pun intended).  Divorced from his famous porn-star-turned-television-evangelist wife, he’s decided to reinvent himself by going back to his first love: acting.  With a sketchy, second-hand recreational vehicle he travels the Midwest, playing in dinner theater and community playhouses, hoping to gain traction for a future restart in Hollywood.  And accompanying him are his two ne’er-do-well but well-meaning sons, Max and Alex.  Lacking money (and ethics) the sons turn to kidnapping dogs for some extra cash.  But with the appearance of a sexy, young one-armed ‘black widow’ named Luna, they graduate to kidnapping people, and the three men find themselves trapped in a multi-state crime spree along the lines of the movies Raising Arizona or The Big Lebowski. 

 

     Still working on the rough draft of this novel, but I’m already looking forward to how this progresses (note:  a pickle jar filled with fingers snipped from funeral home cadavers makes an appearance).  The piece I’m including is from the first chapter and sets Ted in his current situation, as well as provides a glimpse of his background. 

THE METHODS OF SCOUNDRELS

 

     The late-model recreational vehicle, a thirty-foot, Class A, diesel Gulfstream with a slipping transmission and dubious suspension, bought secondhand from an aging Episcopalian couple somewhere in the hills of Pennsylvania, rocked like a rowboat with the emergence of the tall grizzled man holding a tepid beer in his hand.  The side door swung on screeching hinges, letting out one laconic fly which was replaced by two others, and the man yawned and scratched through his black t-shirt with his free hand.  He squinted into the mid-morning sun and looked across the Ohio motorhome campground towards nothing in particular.  The land was billiard table flat, the RV park broken by a half-dozen wilted silver maples before terminating in soybean fields that stretched into infinity.  Somewhere, cicadas buzzed and dragonflies hung in the air above the drainage ditch next to the highway.  The man took a long swallow and imagined the land thousands of years ago, covered by glaciers hundreds of feet tall, grinding everything smooth like a giant pumice stone.  That’s what I need, he thought.  Something to scour everything in my life down to a nice, blank slate.  My own personal glacier.

     “Howdy, Chuckwagon!”

     A hand slammed down on his shoulder and jostled the beer in his fist.  He groaned inwardly as the smaller, older, balding man behind him stepped into view and chortled at the sight of the can.

     “Whoa.  Not even nine o’clock in the a.m. yet.  Gettin’ an early start, hey?”

     “It’s how I keep my girlish figure, Bill.”  He said it with all the relish of someone accepting a speeding ticket from a friendly highway patrolman.

     “So that must be your secret.  Beer in the morning.  I’ll have to try it out on the missus sometime.”  The other man leered and elbowed him in a way that signified a secret joke between co-conspirators.  However, it was no secret.  The taller man’s past history as a popular character in the adult entertainment industry during the late eighties, i.e., a porn star, was well-known in the small motorhome community.  Like most men in the industry, notoriety was based on a specific skill set, usually related to the girth or heft of prodigious sexual anatomy.  For the taller man, however, his talents laid more in the field of endurance.  It was discovered, during the time period shortly before male enhancement drugs became ubiquitous, that he had a masterful control, with the ability to stay turgid and engorged for incredible amounts of time.  So much so that he had earned a bevy of nicknames among the industry cognoscenti, most of them referencing one famous cocaine-fueled orgy scene involving no less than thirteen women, before exhaustion replaced libido and he was forced to pull out and provide the glorious money-shot the director desired.  From that point on he was often known as Lucky 13.  Dynamo.  Mr. Stiffie.  Which were all in contrast to his actual stage name, based on a low literary pun referencing his pursuit of a theater degree a million years ago.  Charles Dickins.

     He never shied away from his past, but the acknowledgement had grown tiresome.  Because his real passion had been acting, and the recognition of his history was a constant reminder of how Hollywood had turned a cold shoulder to the Los Angeles porn scene, considered a bastard child of the entertainment business royalty.  For him, it was like reliving a minor league pitcher’s career, with constant reminders of how close he had come to cracking the majors.  Only to be traded from one small-market team to the next in a forgettable kaleidoscope of cheap motels and wheezing buses, until a torn rotator cuff finally put an end to the charade.  Leaving him with few marketable skills and bitter, tortured memories at how close he had come to the big time. 

     Ironically, the former porn star had himself also played high school ball.  He remembered a wrinkled, leathery pitching coach once telling him the singular difference between throwing in the majors versus the minors.  Three miles per hour, he’d said.  The difference between a fastball in the upper eighties and one in the lower nineties.  In other words, three shitty miles per hour is the difference between a seven-figure salary, and a thousand bucks a month.  The former porn star would never have to worry about that, however.  His fastest fastball had never been clocked at anything over eighty-four.

(Patrick Stuart; sample from novel, 733 words) 

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