April 2008


To Remember a Madam | Thomas Crone

Romeo Void | Chris King

Weathering Storms | Judith Kelvin Miller

April Kodiak  |  by Stefene Russell

O, God Let Heaven Be A Burlesque Show | Melissa Singleton

Gossip | Orhan Veli



Romeo Void | by Chris King

A punk rock haircut first came to town on the head of Diedre, a blind date who pulled up to my mother's apartment in Pontoon Beach, on the outskirts of Granite City, after a month of midnight phone calls.

We had met over the phone, in fact. I had the bad fortune of selling subscriptions to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch by phone on nights when the Cardinals were battling the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1982 World Series. After taking a good deal of abuse, I adopted a defensive posture, opening each sales call by saying, 'I know you're watching the ballgame, but '.

One sassy woman said, 'You know, I hate baseball. And I work for the competition, the Belleville News-Democrat. Why should I buy a paper from you?'

With the World Series on every television except hers, I wasn't making any sales, and she was apparently playful. So we talked throughout my shift, and then again when I got home, and then most nights after that.

Finally, we decided to trade letters and photographs and make them the basis for deciding whether or not we wanted to meet.

I was fifteen years old. What could I do? I sent her my latest high school year book photo, a mug shot of an unsmiling, stoned kid in a baseball jersey. In return, I received an image of an impossibly grown and sexy woman baring her tummy, cradling a cat. She looked at least twice my age.

I was amazed when she said she wanted to meet me.

The heart of the get-together, we agreed, was to be an artistic exchange she would show her paintings and read my notebook poems, my songs to be. But, now, she wanted more.

'I always wanted a man to strip for me,' she said. 'What did you always want from a woman?'

'I always wanted a woman to lick whipped cream off my naked body,' I said.

On the big night, she honked, and I climbed into her car. There sat the first and perhaps only punk rock haircut seen in Granite City when punk was young. It was blonde and spiked and curled around her ear and far down her back. I was wearing my ordinary fall attire: overalls and hiking boots.

Whipped cream was sitting on the coffee table in her apartment in Belleville, Illinois, a town just up the bluffs from Pontoon Beach. We drank a twelve pack of Moosehead and listened to MTV as we shared our paintings and poems.

I had composed something for the occasion, based on the name of her road, which I knew from our exchange of letters: Frey Lane. It sounded like 'Fried Lane,' and I figured she was pretty fried out.

She lived in that house on Frey Lane I wonder what she did in there to keep herself sane Frey Lane is where the twilight gathers Rather have her home again

Adolescent rhyme-mongering under the spell of Edgar Allan Poe.

I remember which video was playing on MTV when she finally asked me to take off my clothes. She used it as a cue. The song, 'Never Say Never' by Romeo Void, has the refrain 'I might like you better if we slept together.'

I tumbled out of my overalls, more lurching from foot to foot than executing a genuine strip-tease. She spread me out on a blanket on the floor, smeared whipped cream all over my shivering body, briefly drove a tiny toy truck up and down my leg, as if through the snow ('I've been thinking about this!' she said, with a smile) and then licked all of it off of me, every single soft puff of it, before finishing in the most strategic place.

* From a memoir in progress, 'And let him ply his music: Adventures in post-punk and amateur folklore'


Chris King is a writer, editor, musician, producer and director whose first film, Blind Cat Black, premiered at the 2007 St. Louis Filmmakers' Showcase. You can befriend him at