My Love Is Green

By: Rolf Luchs

My latest client was a short bald guy in a pinstripe suit. He had knobby hands, smooth green skin, antennae and eyes like silver dollars. He wore an “I Like Ike” button on his left lapel — a good private detective notices things like that.

“My name is John Doe,” he began. “I am a shoe salesman from New Jersey.”

The story fit, but somehow I just couldn’t buy it. My brain shifted into high gear as I drew on my five years of experience as a private eye and ten as a busboy at the Brer Rabbit Motel. Then it hit me: He spoke English well — too well, and with a slight fourth-dimensional accent to boot. A foreigner for sure.

“I am looking for my wife,” he said.

“That’s unusual.”

“She disappeared a week ago. That is all I know.”

“Can you describe her?”

He took out a photo and casually flipped it in my direction. It stopped in mid-air and hovered about a foot in front of me. I think I jumped a little when I saw the face. Mrs. Doe was bald with green skin, antennae, and eyes like silver dollars.

“Are you sure you want me to find her?”

He snatched the photo back. “Will you take the case,” he asked evenly, “or shall I go somewhere else?”

Good question. The more I talked to this guy, the less I liked him. He was cool as a cucumber — about the right color, too. There was a gleam in his eyes that made me glad I had a .38 in the top drawer, just behind the family-size bottle of rye. That reminded me: the bottle was about half empty. That would never do.

“Sure, I’ll take it,” I replied, “for a price. Two hundred bucks a day plus bus fare.” I figured his bank account was no bigger than he was.

“Agreed. I will return tomorrow to check on your progress.” He walked out.

He was pretty interesting for a midget, and I guess my curiosity got the better of me. I pocketed by gun and followed, quietly. He left the building and walked straight towards the bad side of town. I tailed him unobtrusively, stopping every so often to look up at the sky or pretend to take a stone out of my shoe.

After a few blocks he met a woman on a street corner. She didn’t look like his wife. She didn’t look like anybody’s wife. They went around the corner to the Seven Sins, a seedy little nightclub known for its sloe gin and fast women. The place was packed with the dregs of humanity: drunks, hookers, battered wives, battered husbands, retired schoolteachers — you know the type.

I pushed through the crowd and took a seat near my client. He was sitting alone, but I didn’t wonder why for long. Some canned music started playing too loud, and suddenly his friend appeared on stage in a natural pink outfit. It was worth seeing. Luckily I had gotten used to that kind of thing years ago, but you could see it was new to the little guy. His eyes popped out as if they were flying from a slot machine, did a dance in time with the music, then popped back in again so as not to miss the finale. He was hooked. I’d seen enough.

I walked back to my place and called the precinct station, but they didn’t have anything on anyone matching Mrs. Doe’s description. I was stymied. I played a couple hands of solitaire and lost, so I drank myself to sleep.

The phone rang early the next morning. I was still trying to remember why the Munchkins had tied me down and let Sydney Greenstreet walk all over my forehead when I picked up the receiver and said, “Talk fast.”

“This is Lt. Orkin, Twelfth Precinct. I hear you were looking for someone yesterday. Green skin, antennae, eyes like silver dollars?”

“That’s right.”

“She’s in the morgue. A couple of sailors found her about an hour ago in back of a tattoo parlor. Maybe the tattoo artist got drunk and set his needle on automatic.”

“Very funny, lieutenant. How’d it happen?”

“Can’t say. Third degree burns all over the body. Got any ideas?”

“Must’ve been playing with matches,” I replied, and hung up.

I sobered up fast and took a taxi back to the nightclub. It was easy to find the girl — I just followed the scent of cheap perfume and expensive lingerie.

“What’s your name, baby?”

“Candy. What’s yours?”

I flashed my badge. “Maurice Hohenzollern, private detective.”

“What’s this all about?” she sniveled.

I pushed her against the wall. “It’s about knives, stiffs, cold marble and cold blood. It’s about a quick trip to the next world. It’s about murder, honey.”

“You mean…”

“Yes. Your boyfriend finally found his wife, without my help. Tough luck for her — she’s cooling her green heels in the morgue right now. You’d better talk.” She fell into my arms like a rag doll, sobbing.

“He came here about a week ago. He seemed so nice, so polite. Of course he fell in love with me right away. And then…he started talking about home, about all those long hot years living by a canal in the middle of a desert, with only his wife for company. It must have been horrible.”

“A desert?” I asked. “Where?”

“Don’t you understand?” she cried. “On Mars.” She broke down.

“It’s okay, sweetheart,” I said, giving her a brotherly hug. I made a mental note to look her up next time I was in the area. So that was it: Martians. Everything began to fall into place. It explained the accent and the “I Like Ike” button, to start with.

Suddenly I felt a pressure in the small of my back. I turned around and found myself staring down the nozzle of a mean little ray gun held by a knobby green hand.

“So now you know,” he hissed. “But before I fry your brain I may as well tell you the rest. My name is not John Doe, it is Xanthu. Yes, I come from Mars. It is a dying planet. You would believe me if you had met my wife. I lived with her for 3,000 years, raising sand worms for export. When I finally built a ship to escape to Earth, she made me take her too. After we landed, I managed to lose her, but then I decided I must kill her instead. I hired you to give myself an alibi. When I finally caught her it took hours for her to die, even with my gun at its highest setting. Eventually her brain melted. Now I will kill you as well, and then I can live with Candy in peace forever.”

“But she’s going to join the Marines,” I said. It was sheer inspiration. He nearly dropped his gun. I took the opportunity to give him an elbow in the throat, a trick I learned in the Pioneer Girls that has never failed me yet. He crumpled to the ground like last week’s flowers.

It was hard to explain things to the police. I ended up telling them he was a shoe salesman from New Jersey, since nothing else seemed possible. When I got home, I opened my top drawer and took out the bottle of rye. Now it looked about half full.


The Crunked and Slammin’ Sonnets of Rocker Tommy Lee

By: Ethan Anderson

Sure, you know and love him as the aging bad-boy drummer of Motley Crue, the on-again off-again hubby of Pamela Anderson, and the almost-every-week defendant on Celebrity Justice, but the oft-tattooed rocker Tommy Lee is so much more — he’s a poet, too.

So without further ado, the bodacious words of Tommy Lee…

Molten Metal Sonnet

Again I’ve gone and wrecked the Escalade;

both bags deployed to stop my drug-drenched dreams

of Inspiration, that muse whose bangin’ bod

evades my famous grasp. Despite the reams

of righteous loot from multirecord deals,

prodigious backstage lines of pulchritude

bedecked in next to nothing, gold and squeals

of adulation, something’s missing, dude.

If I could truly rock through words alone

like Auden, Keats, Metallica or Korn,

I’d fly my jet to Monaco and hone

my craft, with breaks for baccarat and porn.

Alas, I lie beneath the teeming stars

and call my agent, crashing words like cars.

Vampire Sorority Girl

It’s not the way you rushed that freshman boy

and ripped his heart out (although GOD, that ruled),

or how you shocked the Theta Chi’s and spoiled

their bakesale fun (of course, you did the school

a favor). Deans will never understand

precisely why you tear them limb from limb,

but I do. Let me hold your icy hand

as we depart this bloody awful gym,

forget the pep squad sucked, and concentrate

on why you slay me. Deathly hot and sleek,

your evil schoolgirl skirts eviscerate

my will to live, your pallor makes me weak.

How this sophomore longs to feel your heart

not beating. Bite me now, and never part.

(Editor’s note: This next work features a brief but daring departure from self-absorption by Lee, as he dons the guise of an astrophysicist — several, actually — and then carries them into familiar territory, a strip club. And so we rock onward.)

Super String Theory!

We’re only telling you because we’re ripped

and also, Amber, when you dance, we feel

the thrilling vagaries of space are stripped

of mystery. Clad in curves and time, you steal

the hearts of Nobel astrophysicists

like us, the lonely nine who know the math

behind a theory panting fortune kissed

and wed too soon. Forget the garden path —

the bottom line? We made it up, us guys

around this table. Superstrings confound

all proof, dimensions tease and feign surprise;

our figures envy yours, so smoothly sound.

The universe is kind — unless we’re wrong

about our guess, you’re on for one more song?

Rebel Nonsonnet 27:

My Hot Erotica

Your rack’s a rockin’ revelation, causing heart attacks,

your can’s a planet of its own, the epi-tome of back,

your gams are slammin’ slender missiles blowing up those sandals,

your hips and curves have dips that pervs in dreams could never handle,

your midriff rips my brain in two, your arms destroy the rest,

your neck alone could launch the ships to crush that Helen test,

your eyes make supermodels cry, your nose blows waifs away,

your ears are sexy satellites, your mouth’s a passion play —

so lose the tube top, Daisy Dukes and discount Sauvignon,

and smack those lips with Bonne Bell. C’mon, let’s git it on.


Misfortune Cookies

By: David Martin

Even the most famous writers have to make a living. Recently retrieved archival material reveals the failed attempts of several famous authors to break into commercial writing.


To: Jean-Paul Sartre

From: Parisian Fortune Cookies Company

Thank you for your list of “realistic” fortunes for our cookies. Unfortunately, we cannot use your submissions at this time. We are returning your list. Please feel free to try us again when you’re feeling better.

The Editors

Realistic Fortunes

1. Your life is a continuous cycle of despair.

2. Your god is dead.

3. Life has no meaning, at least for you.

4. Choice is your eternal curse.

5. Health and prosperity are but words in a dictionary for you.

6. Your waist size will exceed your chest size.

7. You will die a horrible, painful death.

8. The glass is half empty and it has a crack.


To: T.S. Eliot

From: Sunnyside Greeting Cards Inc.

We regret to inform you that the greeting card verses you submitted do not meet our needs at this time. We are therefore returning your submissions. This is no reflection on the quality of your writing. We receive many more greetings than we can use.

The Editors

Modern Greeting Card Verses

You grow old

You grow old

You shall wear the bottoms of your trousers rolled.

Happy 60th Birthday!

You lie there like a patient etherized upon a table…

Get Well Soon!

Shape without form, shade without color…

Paralysed force, gesture without motion.

Happy 25th Anniversary!

This is the way the world ends — not with a bang but a whimper.

With Sincerest Condolences.

Best wishes from us on your wedding day!

There is no end of it, the voiceless wailing…

No end to the withering of withered flowers.


To: Ernie Hemingway

From: Merrill Lynch Financial Newsletter

Thank you for your proposed “literary” stock forecasts (enclosed). While we do not question your expertise, we feel your work is not a good fit for our publication at this time. Please try us again in a bull market.

The Editors

Literary Stock Forecasts

IBM: Three letters suggesting a man soiled himself. Where is the nobility in that? There is no future in such sad musings.

GM: The letters are effete. They are the lispings of a homosexual. Who would buy such pitiable stock?

Studebaker: The word boldly states “grace under pressure.” A company with such a name can be destroyed but not defeated. Buy and hold dearly.

Disney: A man cannot face himself if his portfolio contains cartoons. This Walt, with his pencil-thin mustache, is no real man. Divest.

Zenith: I awoke to find myself next to a television. It was a wondrous thing, a good thing. It promised more than I could hope for. I made Zenith mine. You must do the same.


To: e. e. (?) cummings

From: Acme Advertising Agency

Thank you for sending your sample product slogans to us for review. You have a unique style; however, it does not fit our print media needs at this time.

The Editors

it’s spring when the world is puddle-wonderful

so too is downy freshener



a)s w(e loo)k


th(e) new SELECTRIC

f(ro)m i-b-m

anyone lived in a pretty how town

thanks to century 21

you shall above all things be glad and young

the cream nivea your face will wear

(now the ears of my ears awake and

now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

thank you coffee god for this amazing

maxwell house


Be My Ghost

By: Helmut Luchs

Recently, two of my readers recognized me at the train station. The first one approached me and was reaching into his vest pocket when a shot rang out. Pulling a pen and paper from his pocket he gave a look that seemed to say, “Will you please autograph this?” And then, as if the look were not enough, he said those exact words and dropped dead at my feet. I’m highly suspicious of anyone who reads my work, you see, and am inclined to shoot first and sign autographs second.

The next man who approached me was nothing but a sobbing, slobbering, jellied mass of tears. The man’s name is a secret between him and myself which I will sell for a quarter to anyone who can prove they have a healthy interest in sports, foam rubber or blackmail. He cried on my shoulder for a long, long time, and I considered having him surgically removed because he was costing me a fortune in train fare and making for unfavorable sleeping conditions at home, until my wife suggested I ask him what was wrong. It worked!

The man said he had nearly been driven insane by a ghost. The ghost had entered his house via the television set and tortured him by making double images on the screen and changing channels when he went to the washroom. Later the ghost learned to frighten him by casting shadows that looked like Alfred Hitchcock. In the end, before the man fled the house, the ghost would access his email and delete just enough words to make the exact intent of a message unclear. In trying to respond to his friends, the man only succeeded in alienating them to the point where they stopped writing back.

It was then that he came to me for help, although I can’t see why; I’m certainly no expert on the subject. It’s my opinion that there is no ghost in his house, but plenty of bats in his belfry. Or it could be that his story, like so many others, is true, but so ridiculous that one can’t care. In any case I will state here what I do know of ghosts if it will be any help.

I first heard of ghosts as a child happily growing up in the little town of Stunt Growth, Michigan. For years our next-door neighbors believed they were being tortured by a ghost that would shout in a deep, bellowing voice, “For God’s sake, get out!” Instead, they discovered, it was only the efforts of a patient fireman trying to rescue them from their house, which had been steadily burning for years. After being rescued, the mother wept tears of joy, until she remembered the house was not insured. Then the tears became real. Running back into the house, she threw herself into the flames, but as the flames were very small she only succeeded in putting out the fire and blistering a finger or two.

My firsthand experience with ghosts has been very limited, but pleasant. I have only seen a few in my entire life. Usually they are strolling down the sidewalk, passing in the opposite direction, in which case we exchange nods, a cheerful smile or a jovial wink, as did one ghost who was ecstatic over a new pair of platform shoes he was sporting. Ghosts, as you may know, are absolutely crazy for new shoes, and especially shoes with high heels. They are quite vain about their height, probably because they are so hard to see in the first place. In fact, after seeing one I always have to ask myself, “Did I truly see a ghost?” Although I can never get a straight answer from me, I find it much safer than asking someone else. Once I merely wished for someone to confirm what I’d just seen, and inquired of the fellow walking alongside of me. “Surely, my good man,” I said, “surely that was a ghost wearing platform shoes that just passed by and winked at me, was it not?” The man acted very much as if he had no other choice than to strike me in the face repeatedly, knocking me down into the street and oncoming traffic. The experience was extremely humiliating, and for years I was convinced it had devastated my sex life, until my wife explained to me what sex was. What a relief!

This kind of ghost story is not uncommon, for apparently no everyone can see ghosts, or if they can they have the good sense to ignore them. My grandfather could do neither. He complained that although he never caught sight of his ghostly assailants, every night as he was dozing off, several of them would sneak up and tickle his feet until he was almost conscious, then run and lock themselves in the bathroom along with the best magazines in the house. Grandpa would kick and scream and pound on the bathroom door, his face turning orange, then green, then a lovely shade of purple (I never actually saw him at those exact moments, but I know those were the colors Grandpa turned when he kicked and screamed and pounded on things). But it was no use.

“They were all cowards,” he said. “Four to one, and they were still afraid.” He knew there were four because once they were taunting him by asking, “Guess how many of us there are, you old goat. Go on, guess.” “One?” asked Grandpa defiantly. “No!” they all cried with delight. “Two?” They simply laughed. “Three?” “You’re dumber than a jackass!” they screamed. “Four?” “None of your damn business,” they growled. He had obviously touched a sore spot, but it didn’t help him to know whether there were two, four, or a dozen. The only way he could ever get any sleep was to keep a vacuum cleaner running by his bed all night. He claimed the ghosts were loathe to come near it for fear of being sucked up and forced to spend eternity among old carpet dust and bits of shredded Kleenex.

Unfortunately, my grandmother shared the same fear and finally left him. I was the only one in the family who believed him, and he was committed to a home, where I believe he did very well until his death several months ago. In fact, I recently received a letter from him that stated, “I believe I did very well until my death several months ago.”

This being all the information I have on ghosts, I ask my readers to go now in peace, and may God be with you. Run! You must run and never stop running. Don’t look back over your shoulder unless you wish to know where you’ve been. Go on, scat. Boo!