..................................FAR OUT, MAN!
................NOW THE MEANIE IS A BOOK
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Friday, March 1, 2013


The ladies showed up in a gleaming yellow Volkswagen bug, followed by a caravan of young men in cars, pickups and a big white van. One lady was tall and Italian nubile with long black hair, dark flashing eyes and a figure soldiers march to war for. The other was a leggy, blue-eyed Nordic blonde with alabaster skin and curves to confound a Grand Prix driver.

The dark girl’s name was Jan and the blonde’s was Alita. Their arrival was like a scene out of “Never On Sunday,” with two Melina Mercouris instead of one, leading the motley group of guys to Pepperland where these fabulous princesses directed their minions to carry their precious belongings up an outside flight of rickety wooden stairs.

As I watched the guys work, Carol wrung her hands. “I hope we made the right decision,” she said.

We’d first met the young women when they’d applied for a newly vacant two-bedroom apartment – just above the Blue Meanie’s old apartment and directly across from the upstairs junkie. Roger had completely refurbished the place so that it looked absolutely charming with its white walls, dazzling wooden floors and slatted ceilings – with a white fly fan in each room.

On the day of our first meeting, Jan and Alita had swept in on a lightly-scented breeze and swirling summer dresses short enough to show off their long legs, but loose enough so that they came across like innocent, but sexy, girls next door. To Mr. Cohen’s delight, I’d advised raising the rent to $125 – way above top dollar for the complex – my nice two-story studio apartment went for $135, if you recall.

Neither Jan or Alita blinked when I mentioned the price. Nor did they object to first and last with a fifty dollar security deposit. After conferring, they’d peeled off the bills from hefty rubber-banded wads pulled out of their purses. It seems that they were in a business that provided a goodly amount of cash.

Quick background check: They were both cosmetology majors, carrying thirteen units each at Santa Monica City College; Alita needed one more semester to get her AA degree and Jan needed a semester plus six units. They worked part time as topless dancers at one of the better clubs just down from MGM studios. I later confirmed all these claims, including the fact that both ladies made way more money in salary and tips than I did as a newsman. But, what the hell, even in modern times few people make less money than a journalist. And who’s to say which provides the better service?

Carol was more than a little curious and asked about their jobs. I was curious too, but thought it best to let my wife do the prying.

“We don’t ball the manager or the customers,” Jan said flatly. “They’re lucky to have us. It says ‘topless college coeds’ outside the bar and that’s what we are.”

Alita giggled. “Truth in advertising,” she said.

“But, doesn’t it bother you to have all those men… you know… looking at you?” Carol ventured.

Alita shook her head. “I pretend I’m in a movie doing a sexy dance,” she said. “It’s no big deal.”

“I imagine I’m jazzing up my old man,” Jan said with a grin. Then she frowned. “But I don’t allow my boyfriends to come and see the show. That’d spoil the whole thing.”

Alita looked Carol over and said, “You’d be perfect. Nice top. Blonde. Small package with big tits. They’d love you.”

Carol blushed. “I’m bowlegged,” she said. “They’d laugh me off the stage.”

Jan gave a throaty laugh. “Girl,” she said, “with those boobs they’ll never notice your legs.” Then she looked at me with those sultry eyes. “Course, your old man might object.”

I was embarrassed by the whole discussion. Besides the topless dancing, there were a lot of clinical female-type details being discussed that I’d just as soon not hear about. Also, my wife would dance topless over my dead body. Wisely, I avoided the subject, leaped to my feet and asked, “More wine, ladies?” Without waiting for a reply, I rushed off to fetch the pitcher of homemade sangria to refill their glasses.

Now it was move-in day and, as I said, there was a small army of guys eager to lift and carry furniture and heavy boxes up long flights of stairs. After a suitable amount of time, I strolled casually over to their apartment to see if everything was okay. It must have been. Not only did I have to dodge the male helpers when I entered the apartment, but there was Roger, who had decided that a little paint touch up was in order, and also Jack, who had decided the fuse box needed looking into.

Jan and Alita had bought some assemble yourself furniture and there were groups of guys scattered through the place squabbling over directions.

The two young ladies sashayed through this chaos, directing one guy to do this, another to do that and thanking a third in advance for helping the others. Jan was wearing paint-spattered coveralls, except the legs had been cut all the way to France and the top was loosely buckled over a string-bikini bra wonderfully designed to let in beneficial tanning rays. Alita wore a similarly sexy work outfit.

It was quite obvious that my presence was not needed and I was about to back out of the apartment when Jan saw me and said, “Hey, Mr. Landlord, come to groove with us?”

She ankled forward, coming maybe an inch into my vulnerable zone. I won’t deny that I was affected. She looked over her shoulder and called out to her roommate, “Alita, look who’s here. It’s Allan.”

Alita’s welcoming smile lit up the room. She blew me a kiss and said, “In minute, honey. I have to show the boys where to put my bed.” She indicated several handsome young men, eager to carry her bed wherever she wanted to lay it to rest.

Jan grew all serious. She said, “I wanted to talk to you about next month’s rent.”

My heart sank. They hadn’t even moved in yet, and already we were going to have a rent problem? “What about it?” I said, noncommittal as I could be.

“If we paint the place – like the living room, for instance – could we deduct the materials from the rent?”

I was relieved. I said, “Well, since Roger just painted the whole apartment I don’t see how I can justify the expense to my boss. Why would you want to paint it again? Rog did a great job.”

Jan looked over at Roger, then back to me. “Oh, sure, Rog is a wonderful painter. But, see, we just started a new Yoga program. It’s really hot – with blacklights and special candles and all that.”

“Uh, huh,” I said, not knowing where this was going.

“The thing is,” Jan said, “for this kind of light-intensive Yoga we need to paint the living room black.” When she saw the look of shock on my face, she rushed on…. “That’s okay about the rent. We’ll pay for the paint ourselves… Okay?”

A cold, dark cloud squeezed into the room and I could see everything slipping away. Don’t get me wrong, I was a married man, a faithful husband. But somewhere in the twilight zone of my twenty-something guy mind, I sort of imagined that there could be some circumstances that might arise – a sort of Cartesian space warp, wherein I might enter a universe where I was fancy free and nubile Jan might find favor with me.

I very firmly closed off that alternate universe. I gave a sad shake of the head. I said, “Sorry, I can’t let you do that. Black is impossible to paint over. No matter how many coats of white paint, or whatever, you slap on it, the black keeps bleeding through.”

Jan said, “But we really love this place. We want to stay here forever.”

“That’s nice to hear,” I said. “But you only signed a six months lease.” Before she could offer to extend the lease to a year – which I doubted she and Alita would never honor – I added, “And even with a longer lease, I’d have to get a really big deposit to cover the cost of the black paint. And I really don’t want to get into that with you or any other tenant. I know very well that if we do it that way, when you and Alita split - no matter what you say now - you’ll be mad as hell at me because I’ll have to keep your deposit and you’ll think I ripped you off.”

She looked disappointed and I left feeling like a cad for disappointing such a lovely lass. A few days later, however, Roger announced that he’d solved the problem.

“I turned them on to black stick-on carpet tiles,” he said. “When they leave, or get tired of yoga, they just have to peel the tiles off and I’ll run a brush over the wall to clean up the glue spots.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Did it get you anywhere?”

Roger gave his giggle. “Sure, it did,” he said. “I charged ‘em a hundred bucks plus materials.” When he saw my look of surprise, he added, “Shit, Allan, those girls are way the fuck out of my league. They’d have me for breakfast and spit me out, bones and all.”

A wise man, our Roger.

Jack was not so sanguine. He hung about their place like a puppy dog, doing this and fetching that, getting more and more morose as he quickly became part of the background. Not that Jan and Alita were being cruel. They were just used to guys doing things for them and figured their company – brief though it might be – made it well worth any red-blooded young man’s while. They might have been shaking their tits over on Culver Boulevard, but they were super particular about who they balled.

I’m not saying that a handsome rich guy with a flashy car couldn’t have gotten into their pants by impressing them with his luxurious lifestyle. I am saying that if that same rich guy offered a thousand dollars to fuck them, they’d have spit in his face.

I remember one night when we were all gathered at Jan and Alita’s place. Everybody was pretty ripped and Jack proposed some kind of weird game. Jan and Alita immediately got their backs up and Carol put in her two cents for all the women present.

She said, “Jack, no female person in this room is going to start removing her clothes because of some silly game you have in your head.”

Jan and Alita nodded very firmly. Whatever Jack had in mind better not involve their personal bodies.

Jack was offended. “No way was I thinking anything like that,” he said, lying like a shag rug. “I was thinking more along the lines of three-dimensional apartment chess.”

Alita goggled. “Apartment chess?”

“Sure,” Jack said. “You have to play with whatever is in your personal space.”

Jack jumped up and started grabbing and stacking objects in elaborate rows. Books, plates from the cupboards, knives and saucers and spoons – the latest Playgirl magazine, etc. – they all went into the various stacks.

And we all started to play by rules made up on the spot by Jack. These included stacking objects one top of one another to increase their “power.” But if the stack fell over, you lost the whole thing. If you could make the stack go all the way to the ceiling, you won the grand prize.

While we were playing, Roger made a rare appearance. A week or so before Jan and Alita had adopted a big tiger-striped tomcat. It seems that Roger suffered from many allergies, the most severe of which was cat fur, which is why he’d stayed away. But that night he’d heard us all cheering and it sounded like we were having so much fun he just had to find a way to attend the party.

Roger’s solution was to dig out his old SCUBA outfit and don all the gear, from flippers, to wet suit, to tank and mask.

He knocked on the door and when Alita answered and saw the weird apparition before her she squealed and jumped back.

“Ohhhhhh,” Roger moaned, holding his hands out monster style. “Ohhhh.” He flip-flopped in a couple of paces. “I am the Creature From The Black Lagoon,” he growled. He turned his masked head from one side to another. “Which fair maiden shall I carry away to my lair, deep in the swamps?”

Jan said, “Just go sit in the corner, Roger. And take off those flippers. You’re leaving black marks on the floor.”

“Ohhh,” Roger moaned. Then he obediently stripped off the flippers, grabbed a glass of wine, and went to the corner.

He took the mouthpiece out again for a slug of wine, then said, “I’ve got about a half hour’s worth of air. So, party faster.”

We partied faster, stacking objects on top of one another. Drinking wine and smoking dope, passing the joints to Roger who took quick tokes, before replacing the mouthpiece.

Since it was Jack’s game, somewhere before the half hour was up, his stack was nearest the ceiling. He broke off a broomstick and stuck it between his mighty stack and the ceiling. If fit perfectly.

Everybody cheered, including the two lovelies, and Jack went home a happy man, trailed by Roger who did his Creature act all the way down the stairs, moaning, “Ohhh. I am the Creature From The Black Lagoon. Fear me.”



COMING MARCH 15-17: THE SECOND ANNUAL EMPIRE DAY Celebration! Fan Fiction Invited. Kilgour Jokes, New Recipes From The Emp, Commando Tips From Sten. Plus Prizes Galore! Click Here For Details


During the Vietnam war, GIs who managed to survive their tour of duty were flown home in chartered airliners, which they called “Freedom Birds.” This is the story of three young men – from  wildly different backgrounds – who meet on such a plane and make a pact to spend three days together in San Francisco. Their goal: to spend every cent of  their mustering out money in a party of  a lifetime. And they’ll get more than they bargained for: because when they land, it is July 1967 – in a time that would come to be known as “The Summer Of Love.” A place and time where each young man will have to confront the ghosts who followed them home from the jungles of Vietnam and contemplate a future none of them had imagined. 


The entire 8-novel landmark science fiction series is now being presented in three three giant omnibus editions from Orbit Books.  The First - BATTLECRY - features the first three books in the series: Sten #1; Sten #2 -The Wolf Worlds; and Sten #3, The Court Of A Thousand Suns. Next: JUGGERNAUT, which features Sten #4, Fleet Of The Damned; Sten #5, Revenge Of The Damned; and Sten #6, The Return Of The Emperor. Finally, there's DEATHMATCH, which contains Sten #6, Vortex; and Sten #7, End Of Empire. Click on the highlighted titles to buy the books. Plus, if you are a resident of The United Kingdom, you can download Kindle versions of the Omnibus editions. Which is one clot of a deal!
Here's the Kindle link for BATTLECRY
Here's the Kindle link for JUGGERNAUT
Here's the Kindle link for DEATHMATCH



Two new companion editions to the international best-selling Sten series. In the first, learn the Emperor's most closely held  cooking secrets. In the other, Sten unleashes his shaggy-dog joke cracking sidekick, Alex Kilgour. Both available as trade paperbacks or in all major e-book flavors. Click here to tickle your funny bone or sizzle your palate.  



Venice Boardwalk Circa 1969
In the depths of the Sixties and The Days Of Rage, a young newsman, accompanied by his pregnant wife and orphaned teenage brother, creates a Paradise of sorts in a sprawling Venice Beach community of apartments, populated by students, artists, budding scientists and engineers lifeguards, poets, bikers with  a few junkies thrown in for good measure. The inhabitants come to call the place “Pepperland,” after the Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” Threatening this paradise is  "The Blue Meanie,"  a crazy giant of a man so frightening that he eventually even scares himself. Here's where to buy the book. 


Diaspar Magazine - the best SF magazine in South America - is publishing the first novel in the Sten series in four 
episodes. Part One and Part Two appeared in back-to-back issues. And now Part Three has hit the virtual book stands.  Stay tuned, for the grand conclusion. Meanwhile, here are the links to the first three parts. Remember, it's free!

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