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Another Excerpt From "Meat Won't Pay My Light Bill"

(Sometime around September 2000 "Meat Won't Pay My Light Bill," a first novel by local artist Kurt Eisenlohr was released by Future Tense Publishing, a self-funded Northwest publishing company. This is the second excerpt Future Tense was kind enough to provide Smokebox. )

The Iranian guy trained me.

"Lupus, these women are she-devils. They are whores, they will sell their pussy for a dollar. Do not let them fool you. They will do anything to get you fired. They will prey upon your weaknesses. They will toy with you. They will offer you the blow-job, Lupus, they will pretend to be kind and caring. But do not believe it, do not accept. If you allow them to perform the blow-job, if you allow them to touch you-you will be fired. You will lose your job. The she-devils want you to lose your job. They love nothing more than to see you take the fall. It makes them feel they have the power. The she-devils have come to believe they are running the store. They believe they are indispensable."

"Well, they are, aren't they?"

"Of course. But you must never let them know this. You must always make them believe they are expendable. That you are doing to them a great favor to allow them to sit naked in our parlor. And do not forget to curse them on occasion. Show to them their place. Show to them who is in control. If you do not do this, the she-devils will believe you to be soft. If they believe you to be soft, the she-devils will seize the power, they will grind into you their high pointy heels. You will be fired of your job. Do you understand what I tell you?"

"I understand." He didn't seem too convinced.

"You must be certain of this. The she-devils are ingenious. The temptation to touch them will be great and unending. Your will must be iron. You must never weaken. Never. If you weaken, you will be fired. The she-devils will have beaten you."

"Never touch the she-devils, I got it." I glanced toward the parlor. There they sat, the she-devils, in varying degrees of undress-a blonde, a redhead and a brunette. All three were sprawled upon fat velvet loveseats, legs scissored high, stilettos dangling, nubile breasts spillingout of satin bras, or no bras at all. G-strings, crotchless panties, garters, garishly painted eyes, mouths smeared with lipstick, widened with wine-sexy, lascivious, maddening. The sort of harpies who were forever calling sailors to their doom. The brunette had a sucker in her mouth. She winked at me. My cock rose. Instinct would be my undoing.

I found myself moving forward, one step, two steps, three-pulled toward her as if by a magnet, zombie-like, erect.

The clerk caught me by the collar, wheeled me around. "Do not look at them!" he warned. "Do not think of them! Look upon the she-devils only when necessary, only when introducing them to the swine and the perverts. And then you must quickly look away. If they speak your name upon their vile lips, you must cover tight your ears as well as your eyes! You must
not listen to their song!"

"They're beautiful," I said.

"They are she-devils!" the clerk insisted. "You must not weaken!"

The guy was a fucking nutbag. If these women were the taloned concubines of the damned, then hell wasn't a bad place to be. Had Satan suddenly appeared waving a contract, I would have signed away my soul without a second thought.

"They're beautiful," I said. "The she-devils are beautiful."

"Beautiful, yes. And you are a fool."

Fair enough.

He showed me how to work the register, run the credit-cards through, record video rentals. I didn't catch most of it. I couldn't concentrate knowing that twelve feet away those magnificent she-sluts of Hades were letting it all hang out, dangling the apple and the dream and to hell with Eden.

"I'm not too good with these sort of things," I said.

"I will show you again. You must get it right. If you are a penny off, they will fire you."

"Okay."

He went over it with me again, from the beginning-including his word of warning concerning the she-devils.

"Do you understand?" he asked.

I nodded.

"You must be certain," he said.

"I got it. No problem." I could see that naked brunette in the round surveillance mirror above the clerk's head. Also the blonde and the redhead. The blood kept rushing from my brain to my cock, skewing all hope of concentration.

"Good then," the clerk said. "I am out of here."

"How's that?" I wasn't sure what he meant. I had an idea, though.

"I am out of here. I am gone. I am quit."

"Oh," I said. "Okay ..."

He grabbed his hat, stared brazenly at the she-devils, crossed himself then bolted for the door. There was a flash of sunlight. Then the door banged shut and it was dark and cave-like again. I stared at the door. That fucker wasn't coming back.

I looked at the lovely she-devils. The she-devils looked at me. I cleared my throat:

"Hey, do any of you girls know how to run a cash register?"

Three hours later, I was fired.

It was the brunette's fault.


Kurt Eisenlohr is a painter, writer and bartender living in Portland, Oregon. In addition to illustrations contributed to all issues of Smokebox his poetry and fiction has appeared in numerous journals and magazines including Asylum, Verbal Abuse, River Styx, Another Chicago Magazine, Cokefish, Decoy, Way Station, and STOVEPiPER. His chapbook, Under Hand and Over Bone was published by Alpha Beat Press in 1994. His art has been shown in many galleries and is featured on the Future Tense Books web site. More stories and art can be viewed in the Smokebox Archives or at Kurt's excellent blog Easy To Use.

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©2004 Kurt Eisenlohr
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