Write a story about this illustration of a swinging party in the suburbs

Norm Saunders was a prolific and talented mid-century illustrator. I don't know the really story behind this illo he did for a men's adventure magazine, but it's more fun to make up something anyway. Share your story in the comments!

Norman Saunders (1907–1989) - commercial artist who produced paintings for pulp magazines, paperbacks, men's adventure magazines, comic and sci-fi books. Norman was the legendary illustrator of Mars Attacks, Wacky Packages, Batman, Pre-Code Comics.

UPDATE: A Boing Boing reader incorporated the illustration into this informational poster.


  1. This rousing game of “Pin the Tail on the Dame” is brought to you by Pabst Blue Ribbon, the only beer Guaranteed to get your neighbors “Grabbing ’till Dawn!” Just don’t let “Nervous Ned” spoil your fun!

    Pabst Blue Ribbon – America’s Favorite Beer for Suburban Hijinks!

  2. Once upon a time, there were some white people who tried some funny pills one of their daughters had hidden in her dresser drawer.

  3. It was shortly after drinking five gin fizzes that I grabbed a hold of something soft and feminine. When she shrieked I knew at once it was Reverend Plumley’s wife and I would sin much more tomorrow.

  4. three couples can afford to lease a bartender (strongly indicated by the bow-tie and plaid vest)?  people were more serious about their ad-hoc parties and pointy-bras back in-the-day.

    1.  So, it’s three couples…and that’s the bartender’s wife sitting in the back?  Now that’s service!

      1. Maybe she’s blindfolded guy’s wife. However, that leaves the lady on the table with an identity needing to be filled in.

  5. The first organizational meeting of the Tea Party was labeled as a “Meet and Greet” event.  It wasn’t until the second meeting that they firmed up the party platform.  For the first one, the platform was a sturdy coffee table.

  6. The joviality turned out to be short-lived: seconds later, the blindfolded man was accidentally impaled on the woman’s bra.

  7. “Wow,” exclaimed Becky, “this antigravity table is working! I can feel my boobs floating upwards! Now can I take the blindfold off?”

    “No,” said Ted. “Your boobs won’t float if you look at them.”

    “What about me?” asked Bob. “Can I take my blindfold off?”

    Ted sighed. “No, Bob, no one can look at Becky’s boobs without destroying the antigravity effect.”

    “But the rest of you guys aren’t blindfolded,” said Bob.

    “Yes we are,” replied Ted.

    “Oh,” said Bob. “Becky, can I grab your boobs to see how high they’re floating?”

    “Sure,” said Becky. “Just as long as no one can see you doing it.”

    “I love science!” said Ted to no one in particular.

  8. While everybody was laughing and staring at the ‘game’, Agent Glrhpna took the opportunity to whisper to his co-surveyor. “I warned you we needed to wear the full meatsuit.  If they ask me to do that next, the mission’s blown!  And you… just because you’re playing the ‘male’, you thought you could get away with just the gloves and mask.  You can’t even roll up your sleeves without revealing scales!” 

    “Shut up, Glrhpna, this is still valuable cultural research.  Just get ready to fake a headache or something.”

  9. J.R. “Bob” Dobbs hosts his bi-monthly double-blind search for the golden apple in Cleveland Ohio. 

  10. Well, dang! I guess she can kill a man with one blow, blindfolded, in her underwear. We should be going. This has been great.

  11. After her parents passed on, it was up to Margaret to sort through forty years of family photos. She told everyone that she planned to scan them and post them to Flickr for all her siblings to see.

    Two days into her project, she discovered a handful of black and white polaroid snapshots hidden behind a framed portrait of her mom.

    Every once and a while someone will ask her when she’ll finish scanning the pictures. She’ll feign nonchalance and say “You know, I’m just really busy right now. Maybe by next Christmas.”

    In the meantime, the cardboard box of pictures haunts the back of her closet, sealed with a rather excessive amount of packing tape.

  12. Joke #1 – Their wives didn’t mind as long as they all referred to her as a “floozy”.

    Joke #2 – Kent was laughing now, but when his left hand found where they hid his watch, the party would be over. Diane was laughing now, but wait till she found out this wasn’t a doctor’s office.

    Joke #3 – Gordon and Judy couldn’t believe their eyes. So that’s what “tailhook” meant! Apparently there was a stripper for every niche.

    Joke #4 – We switched Father Clark’s altar boy with Folger’s Nearly Naked Lady. Let’s see if he notices the difference.

    Joke #5 – It always started with a few jokes, but eventually Stan would make his wife sing while he drank a glass of water. He wouldn’t be invited back.

  13. It was a moment of quantum flubbery. She was a knife-throwers assistant, awaiting the whoosh of the blades past her vitals and into the hay bale behind her. Her blindfold shielded her from the blinding, instant light of having your molecules transferred from one vector to another in less than a microsecond. The gasps of the carnival crowd were replaced with the laughs and catcalls of the key club she had inadvertently joined.

  14. The civil defense broadcasts had ended three weeks after President Eisehower’s Christmas Message.  By March, the dial owned up nothing but static.  Yes, Professor Carlsson had cannibalized the batteries and a spare air purifier to restart the blender but if Margaret wanted a taste of the last whisky sour, it was going to cost her.

  15. The nice underdressed lady is standing on a table in high heels and blindfolded, while that other gentleman blunders groping around equally blindfolded. This won’t end well, and a trip to the hospital for the lady or for whomever she topples onto is quite likely.

  16. Mary Ann knew that Bob still loved Lori but after Lori’s meltdown yesterday she didn’t know how she could convince her of that.
    “Bob thinks I’m fat, I know he does! I took off almost all the baby weight but those stupid nursing bras are huge and ugly and I look like my grandmother in them.  I should have done what you did and raised a bottle baby.  I think Bob sees me feeding little Richie and thinks I’m a god damn milk cow – pardon my French. Oh, and speaking of the baby there he is again right on cue, I gotta to go.” Lori spun around from Mary Ann’s fence and slipped into the sliding glass door on her patio.
    Mary Ann knew that she shouldn’t get involved, “Mind your own beeswax” she heard her mom saying, but Lori looked so tried and sad she just had to do something.  She called up JoAnn and Betty to come over for coffee cake.
    “Okay then,” JoAnn said. “We all agreed we are going to tell Lori we want to cheer her up with a “just us girls” lingerie party. And then my Mel and your Don and Marty will invite Bob to a “Boy’s night” drinking party. We’ll have it on Saturday at Mary Ann’s. We’ll start with Lori and get her out of her granny panties and nursing bra and have her try on something sexy and fun from Brandeis. What is she, Mary Ann a 36 B or C?”
    “Well she was a B but now is is definitely a C. You know she is so pretty, and I can’t believe she lost the baby weight so fast, maybe that breast feeding does help.  Once Bob sees how great Lori looks in some new underwear he won’t think she is a cow anymore.”
    Betty thought the whole idea was stupid, “All this just to keep a forth for our bridge club? This is ridiculous!”
    “Don’t be such a party pooper, Betty. It’s all in good fun. Marty will make some highballs for the men. I’ll get some Chablis for us and by the time we get them together in our basement they will be felling no pain. Let’s do a game were they are both blind folded and then we take them off so they can see each other.”
    “You know *I* would die of shame if one of you did that to me.” Betty said.
    “And that is why YOU are going to do the inviting, she would never suspect you of this.” said Mary Ann.
    “Well I think it is a great idea and it will be a blast, this is the kind of party we’ll be telling stories about to our grandkids!.” JoAnn said.
    “Maybe your grandkids,” said Betty icily, “I just know this will end badly so don’t blame me when Lori runs out in tears.”
    “Yes, Betty, we’re sure you will the first to say, “I told you so.” if it doesn’t work, but let’s cross that bridge if we come to it. Now who wants go with me to Brandeis?”  Mary Ann asked as she popped open the black vinyl purse and started looking for her keys.

  17. I remembre my grandparents having a lamp like the one behind the gossiping couple. It (the lamp, not the couple) was placed in a corner, between a bookcase, a table my grandfather would sit at to write checks to pay his bills and a chair he used to watch TV on and complain about everything, the people on the news, the news itself, the weather, the TV ads, everything. Back then I found it annoying, especially if you take into account the fact that if he wanted to watch the news, everyone else better want it too, there was only one TV in their house. Today, I would give anything to spend a couple of minutes on the couch that sat across his chair and watch TV with him.

    1. My grandparents had a lamp like that too. My grandparent still has a lamp like that. It goes well with the Danish Modern furniture. And that sun clock.

      At some point they decided that time must not move on inside their home. This persisted even through a move to another home, so that these exact same things which had not moved for 20 years were placed in as near to the same spot as possible in the new home. My grandparents should have been conservators at a museum.

    2. OMG, I didn’t even notice….we had that lamp, too.  And an equally Danish Modern wall unit to go with it.  And now I’m remembering the chair.

  18. From: Quantum InterDimensional Experimental Facility: #731-B-z7, sub-level G27968-qv
    Researcher: Zork7gje;p6587doopflak
    Reporting to: Zod, Most High Reptillian Overlord
    cc: Most High Supreme Council, Reptillian Overlords

    Greetings and Hail Zod, Ever Victorious, Most High Overlord!
    I hope this finds you well and slick, Oh Zod! May silicon flow in copious quantity for your most deserved pleasure. And Great Spines for all the Overlords to eternity!

    I submit to you the attached scan of the captured earth-carbon-life units recently provided me by your most esteemed Collection Regiment. The subjects have been priceless to our research into this most puzzling of species. 

    Just a few points to ponder as we are still tabulating and collating our results of the experiments.
    1. Apparently the horiffically primative “garments” worn by the carbon-life units hold great significance for them. Removing them actually triggers the proclivity to indulge in some manner of procreative behavior.
    2. This behavior takes the form of one unit clinging to another unit and, amazingly, sharing various bodily fluids through various orifices and, well, we have not really determined what all that does yet. Working on it.
    3. Fueling the proceedings is accomplished by the introduction of fermented grain in liquid form.
    4. Some of the units are desirous of display of their outer skin unencumbered by the presence of garments, while others will only remove their garments after they have been assured that all the others will as well. 
    5. Again, the garments seem to provide a social construct to disassociate the behavior of a garmented individual from that of an un-garmented individual, thereby providing a license to behave in what amounts to a totally different paradigm.
    6. The frivolousness of the behavior is evident, as no contribution to the hive collective benefit is achieved nor desired.
    7. Given enough fermented grain liquid and other life supporting substances, the behavior evident in the scan will continue until all the subjects begin fighting and harming each other over perceived injustices.

    Our experiments are continuing.

    Hail Zod the Most High! 

  19. I was thinking this illustration could be repurposed as an advertisement for Boing Boing. Like this:

  20. Saturday, March 24, 1962. Just another typical weekend night in Middletown, USA, or so it seemed to the revelers gathered at the Johnson home. Little did they realize that Mars was about to explode due to atomic energies building up at its core; that the Martian race had decided to wipe out humanity and take over Earth to serve as its new home… and that soon the horrifying words on everyone’s lips would be, “MARS ATTACKS!!!”.

  21. Roman stared at the photograph for nearly a full minute, the ghost of a hangover tiptoeing behind his temples. He wanted to say, I don’t remember this! But he couldn’t. Because he did. The goddamned National Potato Chip Convention, he thought. It’s always the convention.

    Weisen offered an oily grin filled with fake commiseration and barely suppressed glee. “I know what they say – what happens in Dayton, stays in Dayton. But sometimes…” his voice trailed off and he pantomimed an elaborate shrug. He flipped open his Zippo and lit a fresh Lark.The mocking smile faded. “And just in case you’re thinking of anything smart, the negative is in a safe place.”

    Roman slowly set the photo on his desk. “What do you want?” he asked in a harsh voice.

    Weisen released a cloud of smoke.  “Well, first, I’d be grateful if you explained the rules of that game…”

  22. “This is the point when it starts to get weird,” she whispered to her husband, as four blunt alien fingers began to claw their way out of the grinning, blindfolded woman’s rear end. 

    Her husband could only stare in mute fascination.

    “I bet the blindfolded guy has no idea what’s he’s in for,” she continued.  “Good thing he’s had a few.”

    They waited together for the screaming to start.

      1. Aww, that’s awful nice of you.  Thanks.  Struggling writeritis means I’ll send you some cash to fire up those sockpuppets.

  23. As the laughter of the execs and the “party girls” increased in pitch yet again, Clyde raised his glass full of iced tea (actual tea, not Long Island) in mock celebration. For the tenth time that day, he forced his demeanor to match that of the idiots making idiots of themselves in front of God, the rumpus room, and the hidden camera behind the faux-Impressionist picture on the wall.

    When he first set up the “game room” with his share of the money from the Quad Cities pigeon drop, he thought he had a pretty good thing going. Then he made the mistake of trying to blackmail a judge who had gotten grab-ass with a ward captain’s wife, and he ended up in the slammer faster than you could say “big fish in a small pond”.  A week before his trial was set to start, a gentleman in a gray suit walked up to the courthouse cashier’s office, dropped three large in cash for his bail, and somehow got the charges dropped to boot. That night, they talked things out over steaks and cocktails at Nelson’s. He said his name was Jim, he worked for an up-and-coming company called Veridian Dynamics, and he had a mutually beneficial proposition for him…

    Now, six months later, Clyde’s life had entered a simple, prosperous rhythm far different from the trapped-rat hunger he had known most of his waking hours. Every few weeks, Jim would ring him up and let him know how many people were coming to the game room, what part of the country they were from, and the company they worked for, A day or two after that, he’d get an box in the mail that contained a bottle marked “EXPERIMENTAL – PROPERTY U.S. ARMY MEDICAL CORPS” – full of little white tablets (one per guest) that would dissolve in alcohol. There would also be an intersection, telling him where to pick up the party girls (and the occasional boy) who would ensure the evening’s activities flowed as juicily as Veridian intended. The next day, after hangover remedies were applied, apologies exchanged, and cabs were called, Clyde would extract the film cartridge from the camera and send it back to a P.O. box in Utica, New York, along with the bottles, the list, and any unused tablets. After another two or three days, a different box would return, filled with sequential tens and twenties. Presumably Veridian got something of equal or greater value out of the photos, but that wasn’t any of Clyde’s business.

    Back in the here and now, one of the party girls had stripped down to her frou-frou, and a fat purchaser from North American Aviation was lumbering toward her; clearly the Army pills had kicked in. The killjoy from ZCMI and his shrew of a wife (that shmuck actually brought his wife?!) hadn’t touched their mai tais (goddamn Mormons) and would probably leave before things got juicy, but so what? Either they’d corroborate what the others did, or some artfully doctored photos would shut them up. Cerise was making eyes at him from the barstool, but he shook his head; he never mixed business with pleasure. And besides, he could follow the action later – he had his own camera inside the lighting fixture on the ceiling. For his own protection, in case his relationship with Jim and Veridian broke down.

    Protection…and self-amusement.

  24. Following the destruction of the Lane Acclaim cocktail table AND the Stiffel tension lamp, I vowed never again to host a Mad Men themed party.

  25. “Stop worrying. As long as he keeps screaming, ‘Oh, God!’ the bar tab counts as a religious deduction.”

  26. Ned’s bow tie was real. And the beer. All that sweet, bubbly beer. And the bar. And the lamp. Maybe. The lamp… was iffy.


    The couple in the blindfolds. The gossipy, disapproving pair who looked a bit too much like his parents. The others, just there on a lark. The pinata beneath the bar, filled with peanuts and quaaludes. The signed print of a stark, black-and-white mountainscape tucked under the sofa to hold it straight. The four nested crows eggs. His diploma.

    These were just part of his rich fantasy life.

    I’d kill to trade places with Ned.

  27. Joe carefully put his newest Tijuana Bible back in the lockbox he kept in his sock drawer, after carefully wiping himself clean with some Scotties. He put one of his rare Annette Hanshaw 78s on the phonograph (“Not so loud!,” he could almost hear Mrs. Mullavy caution), as he lay back on  his rooming-house bed. He didn’t have much use for Modern Music. The bed springs squeaked and chattered as he settled in.

    “The Baxters are having that cocktail party tonight,” mused Joe. “Good people, the Baxters. Always trying to fix me up with some girl or another, like I was lonely or something. ‘Joe, do you know Dorothy in Accounting?,’ Dick would ask at the water cooler. ‘And how are you doing these days, Joe? Seeing anyone?,’ asked Helen Baxter when he ran into her at the A&P. Good people.

    “Maybe I should go. It’s too late to catch the bus, but I can call a cab from the phone in the foyer. I bet the Baxters throw a nice party. Maybe Dorothy will be there. I could wear that checked vest that’s too flashy for the office. I could mix drinks! Another Tom Collins, Dick? Dorothy, would you care for a Brandy Alexander?

    “Yes, a party at the Baxters sounds like fun. I bet they get up to some crazy hijinks, you know, party games, like the ones in Argosy. But then, I imagine that that killjoy Carl from Distribution will be there. I wonder what his wife is like? Probably some soul-destroying harridan. Why does a great guy like Dick Baxter give him the time of day? Swell guy, Dick . . ..”

    Brrrrrrrrrrring! Joe started from a deep sleep and shut off his alarm clock before Mrs. Mullavy’s other boarders complained.

    Thwi-chunk, thwi-chunk, went the phonograph. He’d fallen asleep with it on again.

    He filled a saucepan from the cold-water tap and set it on his electric hotplate. He went to the phonograph and carefully moved the tonearm to the beginning of the record. As he found a mostly clean shirt to wear and worked up a lather in his shaving mug, Miss Hanshaw’s gloriously sweet voice filled the room.

    When you’re  all alone, any old time,
    And you don’t know what to do,
    Just pick up your hat,
    Close up your flat,
    Get out and get under the moon . . .

  28. “Stop! There was first a game of blindman’s buff. Of course there was. And I no more believe Topper was really blind than I believe he had eyes in his boots. My opinion is, that it was a done thing between him and Scrooge’s nephew; and that the Ghost of Christmas Present knew it. The way he went after that plump sister in the lace tucker, was an outrage on the credulity of human nature.”

  29. Mrs Osborn leaned over to her husband, Norman, and said, “I don’t believe the Parkers can behave like this.  The Stacys are egging them on!”

  30. Or, perhaps this image could be used in the War or Terrorism, as part of a PSA campaign of posters in airports, train stations, and bus depots!

    1. Tiny, tiny bit of editing – Should that line read, “(etc, etc) mall cops need your co-operation WHEN YOU ARE being strip-searched, harassed (etc, etc)” ?

      ‘Cause then I’d buy a dozen of those stickers, and place them in various locations around  this vast metropolis in which I dwell.

  31. Trifle with green plastic army men in it some of their arms are through to the cream, through the layers some have their feet in the jelly the bowl rotates in an orange light on a Formica turntable the film is saturated reds too red, yellows too yellow a bilge pump starts up in the background humming monotone vibrations into the jelly the cream looses its air and the army men appear to rise out of the trifle like dead Nazis larry hagman is bellowing born to be wild in his underpants and socks with suspenders into an old ribbon microphone and reel to reel fourtrack light is glinting off the half finished jack bottle on the mahogany side table strewn with cocaine and razors there is blood on the carpet and its too hot sweat beading on larry hagmans forehead staining the brim of his battered off white 10 gallon stetsan hat dripping onto the ribbon mic magnifying greasy fingerprints on the brushed aluminum tube

  32. Tegan had the idea. You take a washcloth, smear it withVick’s, then run it in the dishwasher on steam dry. Then you wrap it around your eyes and roll balls. Before I donned mine, I saw her jump up on the coffee table and strip down. Pearls? Garters? Seriously Tegan? Girl was dead serious about her Mad Men Sundays.

    I knew what she was doing, though. That ceiling fan felt awesome. I bet it would feel even better shirtless. I put on the mask, and started making my way over when I heard someone scream, “Holy sh*t, it’s like God’s pubes.”

    Must have been Madison. She’s the only person I know who rolls her asterisks like that. At first, I thought maybe she was talking about Connor’s new pedo-stache. But I realized Connor and Madison had been grundling that love seat since the speakers hit. And I knew firsthand that Dakota’s upholstery was Sofa King luscious.

    Right…Dakota. Poor guy. He was the only one candy flipping. Went south around two. With the look on his face, I imagined he was somewhere in the fourth ring of hell. Probably didn’t help that his date was just a big fidgety bruxism mess. She had even taken to pushing her cheek in with her hands. More to chew, I guess. I desperately wanted to offer her a binky, but it would have been off-theme.

    I mean, I spent all afternoon at Goodwill finding these silly suspenders. And Dakota – who loved themes – looked sad enough. Anyway, that’s what we brought those candy cigarettes for. Our ‘Lucky Strikes’.

    You know, Dakota was into some weird RCs and sh*t. Maybe she got into his bath salts. “She’s a meta-zombie,” I said to no one in particular, giggling. Frankly, I didn’t know how she did it. I couldn’t eat a saltine if my life depended on it. Much less people.

    Ok. Here we go. Why hello, ceiling fan. Holy sh*t, Skrillex! Take washcloth off. Hold between teeth. Take shirt off. Keep suspenders. Ask to touch Tegan’s stocking. Offer Dakota’s girl (I want to say Lucerne?) a Lucky Strike, all Draper-style. Holy sh*t, Deadmau5! Why hello, carpet.

    “Time to hydrate!” Aidan shouted from behind me. He and Morgan were sweethearts for ‘DDing’. Dakota’s term. I didn’t like it. Period bow ties were new (mind-five to Aidan). But the DD abbreviation made it all seem so passe. ‘Designated decanters,’ we called them. Bitches were still gonna drink and smoke, of course. Here in the twenty-first century, we have Uber.

    Anyway, these two were pros. Gatorade, grapefruit, vitamins, 5-htp, L-tyrosine? I didn’t even know that last one was a thing. They were both about to get the best f*cking massages.

  33. Raising a glass in celebration, a young Benny Hill toasts the fact that he’s suddenly found inspiration for the television comedy he’s been longing to make… The compromising photographs of BBC executives and their suburban shenanigans would ensure it’s approval.

  34. The game was called Marco Pole-O. Joe’s silly interpretation of his childhood game. Now Margret was down to her undies as John followed her panting breath around the room.


    Damn coffee table. Each time Margret had been caught she had to lose one article of clothing. Not much left now she thought to herself, having lost her shirt and skirt earlier on. Listening to the whispers and clanking of scotch filled glasses that surrounded her, she could feel the other partners watching her cross this way and that around the carpeted living room.


    Ow. She could almost feel John’s all too eager hands reaching out to her as she managed her way around the living room again. None of the other women had volunteered for this experiment. Margret with her short blond hair and amazing shape had always been a bit adventurous. She was the one that had organized this meeting though she had let Joe, her husband, believe it had been his. Now John, Cindy’s husband, was trying to corner her clothes off. It seemed the more clothes came off the quieter the two newer couples to this meeting had become.


    Well at least there are no corners on this damn table, just plenty of edges. Richard and his raven haired half prudish wife Patricia were whispering to each other, Margret could hear, as it would seem being blindfolded had momentarily increased this sense. Richard didn’t seem much into sharing his wife but all about watching others share their own. His wife on the other hand, though she looked on disapprovingly had crossed her legs up tight to control her urges better. She long to touch Margret but dared not show it in from of Richard. The idea of Margrets fit frame drapped over her own was almost too much for Patty to bear. She tightened her legs more only to slightly rub against herself, she hastened a moan of pleasure.


    Narrowly avoided that blasted table. Tommy and his young wife, Penny, were more curious about when their turn would be. She looked at least 10 years his junior and everyone knew why he had left his exwife for this vixen. She was a sexpot and he an aging sex starved pervy. Penny had seduced the grey haired miscreant thinking she was take his money and run, but after a few rauchy session with the dom he had put her into a very submissive role, she loved it and never left. Margret was sure even with their backgrounds she could show them a thing or two.


    Effing A! Margret had become frustrated with this game. John wasn’t even in the right area of the room. She knew all the couples were growing inpatient. Waiting, watching for the next move, for those last bits of clothing to fall away, for the real show to begin. Once her bra was off there would be no going back, they would no longer just be neighbors and coworkers or friends, they would be witnesses to Margrets sexual liberation.

    With this Margret stood up on the table that had plagued her movements all night. She lifted her head up and proudly pushed her breasts forward putting her hands triumphantly on her hips. She would let him find her. She wanted more.

    She cooed softly yet firmly, “Oh Marco, bring me that pole…OOOOo” then smiled as she waited for her hunter to catch his prey. All eyes on her as Joe cheered her on, Cindy laughed approvingly and Margret felt her breath and under business quicken.

  35. “I can see with my belly-button!”, Misty had shrieked. “I swear, I can see through my belly-button! It’s a third eye!”

    Norm hadn’t been paying much attention to the others. He’d been thinking of what he and Abigail might get up to later. Abby didn’t like other women as a rule, and came to these little shindigs at the Beethovens’ mostly so that she could make her cutting little remarks about the other women to her husband. He didn’t mind, mostly because Harvey Beethoven mixed a mean dry martini, and once Norm had had a couple he could nod agreeably at Abby’s bitching about the other gals, especially Misty, who usually had more than a couple and would talk about all sorts of things that you wouldn’t think a girl would know anything about, like some sort of bombshell Einstein. She particularly liked to go on about something called “quantum mechanics” that sounded like a bunch of sci-fi hooey to Norm. Tonight, though, she was ranting about Los Alamos.

    “Daddy was a soldier,” she giggled, as she took the olive out of her empty martini glass, wrapped those luscious lips of hers around it, and slowly pulled it off the cocktail stick, “and Mommy was the first woman to graduate with a PhD in physics from Harvard. They worked on the bomb.” She held out her glass and Harvey took it, refilling it from a fresh pitcher. “When they weren’t working on the Jap bomb, they were working on each other.” She giggled again, and Abby murmured, “Like mother, like daughter,” as if that were a bad thing. Norm nodded absently. Misty continued, “The thing is, they didn’t know a lot about the side-effects of radiation before that awful accident with the fellow who was playing around with the plutonium, so when I was conceived, which was around the time of the first bomb test–Trinity, they called it–maybe at the exact time it went off, I came out… a little different.” She looked thoughtful, as did her husband, usually jovial in his tartan vest and bow tie.  She shrugged. “Well, it’s just a dumb party trick, anyway.”

    “Aw, come on!”, Jack cried. He was the loudmouth of their little group, not really a bad fellow but apt to go on for a while at high volume after a few drinks, especially if the topic of conversation were politics or sports. “You can’t just throw it out like that and expect us to forget it. At least let us see the damn thing!”

    “There’s honestly not a lot to see,” Harvey interjected. “It’s kind of an innie belly button, really. But she really can see out of the damn thing. She can walk all around the house with a blindfold on and not bump into a single thing. She can even read the paper with her navel if you have a bright light on it.”

    “Well, hell, man, break out the blindfolds!” Jack yelled, slapping his thigh. The other guests started chanting, “Belly button, belly button…” Even Norm and Abby joined in , Abby a bit more enthusiastically than her husband had expected. He decided that she was looking forward to their daffy hostess getting her comeuppance, (And, maybe a little bit later, he would get to come up her.)

    So, that’s how Misty ended up blindfolded on a coffee table, stripped down to her underwear and heels. She kept laughing and pirouetting, and even though she wasn’t quite the bombshell that Diane was–that was Jack’s wife, currently giving Harvey a great view down the front of her off-the-shoulder blouse–or even Linda, sprawled comfortably across the lap of Ned, her fiance, Norm had to admit that she looked a darn sight finer than the strippers he had seen at the burlesque near the Army base where he’d trained. A darn sight finer than Abby in her undies, if you wanted to be honest about it, and even though he kept on his best poker face, he could feel the heat of his wife’s occasional glare.

    Jack had his own blindfold on, and was chuckling lecherously. He wasn’t really the type to try anything really nasty while his own wife was there, but Norm imagined that he’d cop the best feel that he could, then overdo the apologies a little. Blind man’s bluff for grown-ups, no harm meant but accidents do happen, nudge nudge. He pretended to be lost, but Norm could tell that Jack was homing in on her giggles. He pretended to stumble around for a few more seconds, then went in for the tackle.

    And Misty dodged. Jack lurched forward again, and she dodged again, in the other direction. The laughter died down as Norm, his mouth now hanging open, pondered how hard it would be for her to dodge him in close quarters, standing on a coffee table in high heels, even if she weren’t blindfolded himself. Jack tried a few more times, but he was a blind bull to her sans-culottes matador. “Damn!”, he muttered. “I can almost feel her, but she’s never there…”

    “Uh…” That was Ned, sitting up straighter; so was the formerly-reclined Linda, her hand over her mouth and her eyes wide as saucers. “I think she’s the real deal, buddy.” Everyone else was dead-quiet, even Abby, for once. Jack stood up straight, and when he spoke, all joviality was gone from his voice. “What is this, some kind of joke on the old Jackster?”

    “I don’t think so, dear,” Diane said from behind him. “Whatever she’s got, it’s better than radar on a foggy day.”

    “Well, then, point taken.” Jack shrugged and pushed up his blindfold. “Someone else can take a turn so I can check this out–” He suddenly lunged forward, and even though Misty started to dodge, he caught her by surprise. He thrust his hand between her legs and cried out, “Gotcha!”

    In the sudden, shocked silence, everyone could hear the muffled voice coming from under Jack’s hand, although they couldn’t hear the words clearly.

    Jack slowly pulled his hand away, his face suddenly ashen. Abby murmured, “What the hell–”

    Even through Misty’s panties, the voice was loud and clear enough to understand. “I said, if that shitbird tries grabbing me again, I’ll bite his fucking fingers off and he can try jerking off left-handed, motherfucker.”

    Linda started shaking her hand. “I-it’s gotta be a joke, a hidden speaker or someth–”

    “Bitch, please. Even if Misty shoved a speaker up her twat, where the fuck do you think the rest of the hi-fi would go? Her uterus? I’m the real deal, baby.” Through the haze of shock, Norm thought dimly: her vagina sounds just like Louis Armstrong. Misty said–with her regular mouth, that is–“Yeah, so it’s not just the belly-button.”

    The only ones besides Harvey and Misty who didn’t seem stunned (although Misty, who had taken off her blindfold by now, was blushing furiously) was the oddly serene Diane. “So”, she commented casually, stirring her gin and tonic with one forefinger, “you and her, when you, uh, do it…”

    Harvey shrugged. “Just like getting head.”

    “More like the best motherfucking head this side of Paris, asshole! You got two cocksuckers for the price of one! Now, pour me one of those smooth-ass martinis I know you just mixed and let’s get this party started for real!”

  36. “I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair! I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair!”

    Tinkerbell was entering her second hour of show tunes, belting out one showstopper after another. She started, as always, with Peter Pan, then worked her way through the works of Richard Rodgers. Circling her table, Oscar Levant fed from the crackling waves of pure showmanship that emanated from her petite form a few more weeks of shock therapy, and he’d be blissfully, irrevocably sane once more.

    On the divan, the Evil Walt Disney, who had survived his hapless twin by a decade already, cradled the pliant Hayley Mills. Though she had turned 21 back in ’67, he still preferred for her to talk baby talk and call him “Unca Walt.”

    At the bar, Arthur Godfrey raised his glass in yet another raucous toast. “To monkey glands!” he cried. “Monkey glands, steroids, cloning labs… and single-malt whiskey!” Mamie Van Doren applauded. Her time would come.

    Outside, the forecast was for ash. A light fall of ash had fallen every day since John F. Kennedy had lost his last stare-down with the Russians in ’62. Above the bunker, emergency crews continued to enforce martial law and contain the mutants, who now performed a variety of menial jobs, but only under heavy guard. Walt’s plan was to emerge from their luxury nest in ’72, when things had returned to a sufficiently normal state of affairs for his plan to proceed.

    “Let’s start at the very beginning… a very good place to start…” warbled Tinkerbell, sending a charge that practically levitated Oscar’s necktie. Madame Web, sensing her partner’s revulsion with the decadent scene, whispered urgently, “Patience, Norman. Remember the plan. In 1971, this will all be yours, and you will have the fruits of the genius of both Walts: the animatronics, the mind-control, and the chemical labs.”

    Osborne motioned for another drink. Yes, he would wait. But waiting was so hard.

    “The first three notes just happen to be… Do, Re, Mi: Do, Re, Mi…” Tink sang on, heedless.

  37. Bit long, but…

    That night, we occupied the bar in the windowless room within B-‘s favorite mansion, before the curtain that led to the door that would almost end the world. For the past few weeks I had been handsomely paid to tend the bar at these events, to ask no questions and spread no tales; tend the bar I did, and if I had questions or tales I kept them to myself.

    As had become the custom of late, Charisse stood blindfolded on the low table at the center of the room. For the amusement of all, one of the ladies had gifted Charisse with leather underthings, and of course there were always fresh stockings. The heels were the same that she’d been wearing the first night, when the men had taken her.

    Roger was piloting Charisse, blindfolded himself. The better to focus, he had told me the first time I had witnessed the exercise of his talent. Privately, I had always thought it an affectation, but given how this all ended–well, perhaps I was wrong about that, too.

    Ezekiel was leaning forward in his armchair, his bushy moustache practically bristling with the energies Roger commanded. Across his lap, her arm around his shoulders, Dorothy squirmed happily; behind his cigar in the other armchair, with his arm draped so that it did not not quite touch Meredith, B- was all scowls.

    The look on Charisse’s face–words cannot describe the horror that stretched her lips beneath the blindfold. But she stood as Roger guided her, arms akimbo and legs spread, a parody of wanton confidence.

    “Make her dance,” Meredith told Roger. “Something complicated and desperate. Something *slutty*.”

    I–it is my shame and damnation, the cheer I gave that last suggestion. Meredith was always suggesting dangerous uses for the girl, and as I never felt entirely comfortable in B-‘s house, I often covered my doubts with great shows of enthusiasm for them. Or perhaps these are only an old man’s lies, given what happened.


    Charisse danced on the tabletop, Roger piloting her with the expertise of long practice. She wept without knowing she was weeping, and we cheered Roger’s skill.

    “Down on the table,” Meredith commanded. “I want to see her legs spread, the little trollop.” Roger, drunk with his power, obeyed.

    At the bar before me, Jill clapped drunkenly. “She probably likes it, the tramp,” Jill said.

    “Now make her rake her legs,” Meredith said. “Dig deep. I want to see blood.”

    That it would be the women who commanded such things–I would not have believed it had I not been there. That these beauties could take such sybaritic joy in the degradation of another–

    Ezekiel leaned forward further, his own fingers wandering across Dorothy’s lap toward the hem of her short striped dress.

    Myself, I hoisted another drink, perhaps to drown out the voices in my own head that told me how wrong it all was.

    But Roger hesitated.

    “Do as she says,” B- growled, a tone well-used to obedience.

    Roger’s mouth twitched at the sound of it, but Charisse only lay there with her legs spread toward Ezekiel.

    “You never *hurt* her,” Meredith complained. “Are you sweet on her, Roger Goodrich?” She leaned forward, a wicked smile on her small mouth. “Oh, my. I never saw that before. You *are* sweet on her, aren’t you?”

    B-‘s cheeks hollowed as he sucked on his cigar. He let a fragrant plume of smoke rise into the air. “I do hope that is not the case.”

    Roger, of course, could say nothing, but Charisse’s hand flew to her inner thigh immediately. Pink streaks followed the trail of her fingernails.

    “You know what?” Meredith said. “This is entirely boring. I have something better in mind. Have her take off your necktie, Roger.”

    Roger’s shoulders relaxed. His hands twisted in the air before him, and Charisse slid from the table and onto her feet.

    In her heels she was nearly as tall as Roger, and her hands went easily to his neck. A large part of me wanted her to break free, to wrap her hands around his throat and squeeze; the world was full of Rogers back then, and the loss of this one would be a significant benefit to the good name of the rest of them. But she tugged the tie free.

    “Don’t untie it,” Meredith said.

    Beside her, B-‘s lips bent. Instead of dropping ash onto the floor for Charisse to clean after the session, he tapped it into the glass on his thigh. That struck me as strange, but even then I don’t think I had any idea what was coming. Not that I could have stopped it.

    Meredith had Roger pilot Charisse around the room, removing first Ezekiel’s tie and then her husband’s. And then she had her knot the three of them together in the middle. Whatever else ith might have been, it was also, to be honest, a fantastic display of Roger’s control.

    “Have her put one of the loops around her neck,” Meredith said. She tapped a fingernail against her cheek. “Hurry, now.”

    Roger saw it then. I still didn’t, but I could tell from the way his head dropped that he knew something I didn’t.

    “Now lay her on her stomach, with her feet up.”

    Charisse’s face was largely hidden by her blindfold, but her spine was rigid and unwilling. Suddenly I understood what was about to happen. I wish I could tell you that I voiced objection. Some part of me did. But I drank instead of speaking, and poured another for Jill, who would some nights deign to go back to my apartment after Charisse had been put up. I was paid well for my silence.

    “Remove your blindfold, and hers. Then loop the other loops around her ankles.”

    Roger removed his blindfold. His gaze was firmly fixed on his own feet.

    “Around her ankles,” Meredith repeated. Hers, too, was a voice of command. A different sort than her husband’s, perhaps, but not a voice used to recalcitrance.

    Charisse whined, the low desperate sound of a car-struck dog. Ezekiel’s hand had disappeared entirely under Dorothy’s dress, and she was writhing against him. Jill had finished off her drink and was looking to me for another. Meredith’s eyes glittered. And B- —

    B- was directing a meaningful stare toward the curtain beside the bar. The curtain was thick and black, but it never did much to block the draft from behind the door beyond.

    Roger saw the direction of B-‘s stare, and removed Charisse’s blindfold.

    I’d never seen her eyes before. They were the blue of a surprised jay’s wings. And they were wide and terrified and fully aware.

    It wasn’t to ensure better control that Roger had insisted on the blindfold, I saw then. At least, it wasn’t *entirely* to ensure better control.

    It was so he could do it at all. The horror, the terror in Charisse’s expression–

    I broke from her gaze and looked at the curtain myself. The draft had grown colder, or perhaps I just felt it more keenly.

    “Kneel at the edge of the table,” Meredith instructed when Roger had finished with the task he’d been given. “I want you to look her in the eyes.”

    The mewling from Charisse’s throat was so awful that I could not bear to listen or watch. So I drank, again. And I watched Dorothy and Ezekiel.

    Dorothy’s head was upside down over the edge of the chair, Ezekiel’s arm all that kept her in her seat as his right hand worked away. She kicked her legs, her arching back pushing out her breasts. Her fingers twined in Roger’s short hair. The flush in her face, the way her mouth stretched with her moaning, made her much easier to watch than what was happening an arm’s length from her.

    Across the bar from me, Jill gave a too-loud laugh.

    “Look her in the eye, damn you,” Meredith snarled.

    “Do it,” B- growled. “Get it over with.”

    Charisse’s keening cut off like a shade being drawn. Roger’s continued for a good long time after that.

    When it was done, when Dorothy had yowled out her climax, when Roger was sobbing on the floor before the table, when Charisse had been rendered nothing more than a slumping purple-faced pile of flesh, B- looked at me. “You know what to do.”

    I’d never done it before, but I knew well enough what he wanted. “All right,” I said drunkenly. “But you’re paying me extra.”

    “There are gloves under the bar.” B- drew on his cigar, tapped the ash into the glass. Charisse would not be there to clean it, after all.

    Her body was heavier than I’d expected. I managed. I was young and strong, back then, and at the end her whines had been so much quieter than Dorothy’s shrieks and Jill’s laughter that the whiskey let me put them aside. She was luggage, and I lugged her.

    When I laid her body down to the side of the curtain and slid the curtain back, the fierce chill baking off the thick steel door behind it would have sobered me immediately had so much not depended upon my clinging to my inebriation.

    “Careful,” B- told me. “Shove the body in, and close up quick. Bolt it fast. We don’t want to attract any attention.”

    The steel wheel centered upon the door might have been made for a banker’s vault. Beneath the thick leather gloves, my sweat froze and pierced my hands as I clenched them around the wheel.

    Beyond–oh, God, beyond. Beyond was night. Terrible, eternal night, a night without stars, a night without hope of day’s return. Into that darkness, a fierce wind rushed, tearing the breath from my lungs. I froze for a moment.

    There were *sounds* in that void. Fierce cawing, like a murder of crows each ten times the weight of a man. A fearsome hungry crackling that might have been the skin of a giant snake sloughing away.

    The light from the room traveled nowhere into that eternal night, and for the moment all I could do was stare in terror and fight for breath.

    Behind me, Roger howled, a long wolflike cry that broke my paralysis. I bent to pick up Charisse’s body, all numb hands and desperate heart.

    B- cursed, and I heard the wooden clatter of the table overturning. Ezekiel swore too, and Jill laughed with such unhinged abandon that I had to look.

    Roger stood, his hands clawed in the air before him. Across the overturned table, B- glared at him, his jaw set in a rictus of fury and his own hands upraised.

    Roger staggered back.

    Behind me, the noises grew louder. I had not thought they could get louder. The chill bit deeper. I had not thought that possible, either. But I could no more move to close the massive door than I could bolt for the exit across the room.

    B- snarled, and Roger stumbled closer to me. His movements were not his own.

    “You only sip from the void, boy,” B- snarled. “I drink it whole.”

    He forced Roger back another step, and another, his eyes never leaving Roger’s and his hands never dropping.

    Roger tripped over Charisse’s body, fell backward.

    His head slipped into the doorway and vanished as though no light at all came from the room we were standing in. Roger screamed a high girlish scream.

    And then *something* ripped him from the room like a child’s toy.

    “Throw the body in,” B- snapped, and the thought of his fury directed at me was enough to spur me back into motion. I bent and lifted, felt searing pain race up my back but I did not, could not, let it stop me and I tumbled Charisse into the void, the crippling pain in my back nearly pulling me in after her. I cried out and fell to my knees.

    “Close it, damn you!” Jill’s shriek held no trace of humor now, unhinged or otherwise. Only terror.

    I couldn’t. I tried to stand but my back would not let me.

    B- bent his fingers and I was wrenched upward despite the ball of fire raging in my lower back. My hands reached for the door. Hideous shrieks tried to claw through my throat, and failed. I *felt* B- like a child’s glove into which a man’s hard hand had been shoved, and even without the pain that had set my back ablaze the brutality of this invasion nearly killed me.

    Through the door, something stretched. Something massive and black, something a little like claws, a little like a tentacle, but mostly like the twisted wreckage after an automobile fire. It was only part of the thing, I knew. The rest was too big to fit, but what made it through the doorway was long enough. It threaded through the air as though it were iron cable and B- a massive lodestone. It engulfed him like a hunger.

    B- did not cry out. Did not swear or grunt or even breathe. He did not have time for such luxury. The *thing* yanked him through the door with the ferocity and speed of a striking tornado.

    His presence within me disappeared and I fell forward, landed against the open door.

    The cold froze my face in a blaze of pain that went instantly numb. It paled before the desperation of the endless night before me.

    Behind me, the women were screaming. Panicked footsteps raced for the door to the rest of the house.

    Through the black doorway, something else snuffled nearer. Something smaller and hungrier. Something, I knew in that moment, that would fit through the doorway and, once in our world, would show no mercy and never be killed.

    Skin ripped from my face as I forced myself to roll away from the door. Kicked it closed.

    It slammed shut with a brief sucking sound that terminated in an echoing crash.

    And the *something* on the other side crashed against it.

    I do not remember how I forced myself to my feet. I remember the flow of blood from the ruined left side of my face and a curious lack of pain there. I remember the blistering wildfire that was my back. I remember the wheel spinning in my hands, the blood freezing on my skin again. But I do not remember how I stood.

    I awoke several hours later to an empty house, and made my slow and painful way to the outside world.

    Outside the sun shone brightly, a last gorgeous spring day full of buzzing bees and fragrant flowers. It must have been warm; the boy who looked twice at me then ran away screaming was wearing short pants.

    Perhaps it is the ruined skin of my face, or perhaps it is the terrible things that we did and I saw in that room. Perhaps it is simply the chill of the door, of what lies behind it, baked into my bones and making them brittle. All these years later, no matter how far south I travel, no matter how warm I keep my room, day and night I still shiver with the cold, shiver and shudder and quake. I have never been warm again. And never will.

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