Sunday, May 17, 2015





 We at Thirteen O'Clock Press have once again compiled a by invitation only collection of un-themed horror stories.

And once again, horror and comic book legend Nicola Cuti contributes the lead-off story. (see an interview with him at this blog)

You can purchase it directly from the publisher at:

An Interview With Horror Legend Nicola Cuti by Ken L. Jones

An Interview With Nicola Cuti

by Ken L. Jones



Ever since I first was a fan of and then a creative professional in the world of popular culture Nick Cuti was everywhere I turned. I always admired both his work and my various contacts with him. As was the case back then he could do many different things and do them all well and he still can.  Currently it is my pleasure to have my work appear next to his in the many indie horror and science fiction books that I both publish and appear in. So here in presented to you with great respect is a conversation with Mr. Nicola Cuti both a true original and a truly nice man.

Ken L. Jones: Tell us about your younger days --  did you always want to be an artist?

Nick Cuti: I always drew but I think all kids did. It was a simple way to express our feelings first about our family and then about our fantasies. Perhaps I did drift away from all the other kids in my obsession with comics. When DAN BARRY'S "Flash Gordon" first hit the American Journal I copied panels from it and then later I copied CARMINE INFANTINO'S work from "Adam Strange" but my favorite sci-fi artist was, and is to this day, WALLACE "WOODY" WOOD. I thought nobody drew starships, alien worlds or alien creatures like WOODY. He had been my earliest inspiration. 

 Ken: Your connection with Wally Wood was something that has always interested me. I met him only once at the San Diego Comic Con many years ago because I was the assistant back then to the late Alfredo Alcala. Alfredo hated most every other comic book artist but Mr. Wood who he treated with respect and even adulation and I’ve always totally agreed with his opinion on that. There must be some interesting stuff you could tell us about Mr. Wood?

Nick: I knew WOODY for over ten years and he was such a colorful character it would take volumes to tell you my experiences with him. I was always a great fan of his ever since I was a kid so when I ran across his portfolio at one of PHIL SUELINGS’s Comic Book Conventions, I bought it and called the phone number on the back label. He answered and agreed to look at my work. 

He was kind but said if I would do a single page on my character “Moonie” he would publish it in his “Witzend” magazine. I did but when I went to give it to him he informed me he had sold “Witzend” to BILL PEAERSON. BILL hated “Moonie” and she was never published in that magazine, however, BILL and I became friends and some of my stories were eventually published in “Witzend”. 

Later, Woody and I discovered we lived near one another, I lived in Valley Stream and he lived in Woodmere Long Island, so he hired me as his assistant. We used to work over at each other’s house but WOODY found this a poor way to work and asked me to locate a studio. I found an office in Valley Stream right between our two homes. SYD SHORES and JACK ABEL joined us and thus Wood Studio began. We produced strips for the “Overseas Weekly”-- “Cannon” and Sally Forth”. We had great times at the Studio where guys like LARRY HAMMA, WAYNE HOWARD, TONY TALLIRICO and RALPH REESE would drop by to help. WOODY said I would look back at my days at the studio as the best time of my life and he was right.

Ken: Was there any defining moment when you were young that made you say I'd like to do that too?

Nick: I suppose my defining moment came while I was in the service working as an Air Policeman. Most of military police work involves guarding and that can be pretty boring. So, I read a lot to pass the time and one of my favorite magazines was JIM WARREN'S "Creepy". I decided I could write a "Creepy" story and so I did. It was "Grub" drawn by the incredible TOM SUTTON who did it in the WALLY WOOD style. My career was fixed when "Grub" was published. I wasn't much of an artist then so I worked in comics mostly as a writer/editor. I met and became WALLY WOOD'S assistant and learned a great deal working in his studio. I found I didn't have much talent as a continuity artist but I wasn't bad at illustration and so I did black and white illustrations for the pulps, "Analog", "Amazing Stories", "Twilight Zone" and "Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine," including a few paintings. Later, at the urging of a friend, BILL DUBAY, I moved my family to California and worked as a background designer for the animation industry. I worked for such studios as "Universal" "Disney" "Paramount", "MGM" and "Sony Pictures".

Ken: Which artists do you wish had illustrated some of your stories that didn’t?

Nick: My favorite artists were WALLACE WOOD, AL WILLIAMSON, FRANK FRAZETTA and BERNIE WRIGHTSON. Technically WOODY did illustrate some of my stories but they were part of his “Cannon” and “Sally Forth” series and he gave me credit for writing “Prelude to Armageddon” but it was just his way of giving me credit for the un-credited “Cannon” and “Sally Forth” stories. I didn’t write “Prelude…” he did. FRANK did sort of illustrate one of my ideas. 

The cover of Creepy with the giant blonde girl on top of the Empire State building with the tiny gorilla in her hand was my idea, but he never illustrated any story of mine. BERNIE did illustrate a single page I wrote called “Four Famous Martians” and a narrative poem, “A Martian Saga” but never a story. Except for BERNIE all the others are gone so I guess it will never happen, however, I have had the privilege of having my tales drawn by some of the finest comic book artists in the business like GRAY MORROW, TOM SUTTON and JOE STATON so I certainly can’t complain.

Ken:  Speaking of Joe Staton, who is a wonderful artist, I’m one of the world’s biggest fans of your work with him on the wonderful character E-Man. I haven’t had a chance to tell you before but E-Man was largely responsible for me breaking into comic book writing. I was at the San Diego Comic Con and I had a whole typewritten list of independent comic books that I would like to do a series about. I showed it to many publishers hoping something would catch their eye. Oddly enough what attracted them the most was a sort of comedy super hero I created called Hero Man. I had put it on the list as kind of a joke because at the time I had hoped to write “serious” comics like Green Lantern or something. When I saw what a reaction Hero Man was getting I quickly decided to get involved with the humorous side of comic book work.  Here’s where you come into all of this the man who originally wanted to publish Hero Man, Dean Mullaney of Eclipse Comics said that he loved my character because it was so cool like E-Man and then we had a long talk about your great character. Would you care to tell us more about E-Man and are there any plans to revive him in any format or media?

Nick: Charlton didn’t have much success with super heroes, not because they didn’t have good ones; the Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, the Question; but because they were up against the giants in the field, DC and Marvel. I suggested to my boss, editor GEORGE WILDMAN, that we give it another try. He went to a publisher’s meeting and when he returned he said he had convinced publisher JOHN SAINTANGELO JR. to take a chance. He told me he was going to encourage our writers and artists to come up with concepts and I should try to come up with one as well. I immediately thought about some of the more obscure super heroes I loved as a child. Captain Marvel and Plastic-man were my favorites, especially Plastic-man. I loved the absurdness and the humor. 

So I created E-Man based on the most famous equation in history, Einstein’s E= mc2. E is energy, m is the mass of an object and c is the speed of light. It is the equation for converting a solid object into energy or energy into a solid mass. I also wanted JOE STATON, who had done a bang up job on “Primus” and several horror stories I had written. JOE was also a very likable person, so I knew we’d get along. I called JOE and told him about the character. JOE thought the character was a winner except for the origin story. I had him being caught in an explosion while working in a factory. Then, one day, while reading a book on outer space I came across the Nova, a star explosion. There was my origin story, he was a packet of energy created when the star Arcturus underwent a nova or star eruption. He can change into a solid object or energy at will and can direct energy. JOE liked the origin and I told him to design the character. The only instructions I gave were he was to have the E= mc2 on his chest and no cape. JOE sent me an inked drawing and I overlaid the color. I stayed away from red and blue, the colors of so many super heroes, and went with orange and yellow, the colors of energy. I decided he was naive but with a strong sense of right and wrong and was devoted to his girl friend, the streetwise college student Nova Kane. She was also his guide to his adopted planet, the Earth. I kept the stories on the outrageous level because I felt super heroes had become too serious and the kids needed something light to contrast all the dreaded self-loathing of the others.

There will be a new E-Man story soon to be published by “The Charlton Arrow”. It reveals the story of Nova Kane aka Katrinka Kolchnski. We visit the home town of her parents and her kid sister, Anya, who both admires and is jealous of her famous older sister. When Anya gains super powers the big question is, will she use them for good or evil?

Ken:  I’m sure you remember the time when comic books were looked down upon and when the federal government investigated them and every time on TV that they wanted to portray an adult as a moron they would show them reading a comic book. Why do you think that has changed so radically and that now so many top TV shows and movies feature them and that when you go to Wal-Mart its wall to wall with everything comic book?

Nick: I believe the change began with STAN LEE'S "Spider-man". Here was a super hero with problems. He has teen angst, girlfriend problems, problems at school, problems with bullies. Teenagers could relate to him. Without shame they read Spider-Man and all the other super heroes which imitated those problems. Later, when those High School kids became college students, they made it seem accepted to read comics. Better artists and writers were drawn to comics and comics became an art form instead of just "...throw-away culture...", as JIM STERANKO once called them. JIM, by the way is one of those better artists who was attracted to comics and created a strong following.

Ken:  I know that you are a very cultured man who is widely read and very knowledgeable about the fine arts how has this effected your work?

Nick: Thanks for the impressive characterization. Of course, I read a lot. As a writer you have to fill your head with stories and facts you can draw on for when you write your own stories. Fiction is good, but I also read a lot of science and history books. As an artist you have to do the same thing. The classic artists do exert some influence, nobody does shadows like REMBRANDT, but mostly contemporary artists have the greatest influence. SYD MEAD and WALLACE WOOD for design, MOBIUS for subtle story-telling, ALEX RAYMOND for his fine illustration, BERNIE WRIGHTSON for mood and horror and FRANK ROBBINS for creating art with bold lines and shadows. I've only touched on a few but I've been influenced by hundreds of writers and artists.

Ken:  I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the current state of literacy and books and rather or not you think they will be important in the future.

Nick: I'd like to think that in spite of Kindle the book will always exist. There is nothing like being able to open a hard book and ruffle through the pages in your hand or go to your library to find information. When television came along everyone said it would be the end of radio and movies but both are still around and, hopefully, books will continue. As for literacy, I believe we are the most educated people in history.

Ken:  First of all tell us about your many accomplishments and which ones you most enjoyed being involved with.

Nick: My list of jobs; Jack of all trades, master of none; starts with comic book writer, pulp magazine illustrator, cover painter, background designer for animated cartoons. Lately, I've started producing sci-fi and horror indie movies. I've worked for such comic book companies as Warren Publishing, Charlton Comics, DC Comics, Marvel Comics and such studios as The Walt Disney Company, Universal Studios, Sony Pictures, Marvel Films Graz Entertainment and Sunbow.

Presently, I write, produce and now direct movies, which my company Ni-Cola Entertainment LLC and Moonie Productions DBA create. My partner, NIKOMA DeMITRO and I are putting all our efforts into raising the funding for a big sci-fi thriller called "Too Many Moons."

I've been awarded the Ray Bradbury Award twice (1970 and 1984) for writing and the Ink Pot Award (2009) for my work in Comic Arts. So far, none of my movies have garnered any awards but I have my eye on an Oscar.

 As for what I enjoy the most, they are writing Moonie, the Starbabe novels and in the past, working for the studios designing backgrounds. I think my love for drawing backgrounds is because I am a frustrated architect. I love designing buildings and cities but I hate the math involved. In animation I can design to my heart's content and never have to add two numbers together.

Ken: One of the earliest memories of my married life is how I would buy the DC Digest Comic Books that you were the editor of and which both my sons and I loved Was it interesting going through all that stuff to put together those well thought out volumes?

Nick: I enjoyed editing the digests quite a lot. I had been working for JOE ORLANDO in Special Projects, which consisted of working on Superman peanut butter buckets and Batman coloring books, and I desperately wanted to get into comics. I loved working with JOE but asked DICK GIORDANO if I could transfer to comics and he put me on the digests. They pretty much gave me a free hand, so their success or failure was entirely mine. Eventually they did die so maybe the decisions I made weren’t the best, but I had fun.

Ken: I’ve been involved in putting together movies myself both independent and studio in the past and was wondering what you can tell us about your experiences in that realm?

Nick: I got into producing Indie Movies while I was in Hollywood working for the big Studios. I just decided, after working in animation for sixteen years, it was time to create my own movie. Animated cartoons would be too expensive and time consuming so I decided on live action. I wrote a script, “Captain Cosmos and the Pirates of the Forbidden Zone” and drew on the talents of my friends in the industry to do the movie. One friend gave me plastic space ship walls from the set of “Lois and Clark” another, CLARK LANGDON, built a control console and two of them, CLARK and MARTY WARNER, created a wonderful space ship model. We set up a green screen and shot the ship and gutted my dining room for the ship interior. The Mojave Desert became an alien planet and, in another episode, Mars, by using a red filter. We even built a tiny futuristic city and placed it in the desert. We shot it in a couple of weeks. Then DAVID RAIKLEN composed the theme and we had it done.

Later, when I moved to Florida, I got together with JOHN LEWIS of Creature Productions and we shot my first published story, “Grub”. Eventually I broke away from Creature Productions and created my own company Ni-Cola Entertainment LLC and Moonie Productions DBA. I have also worked on friend’s productions in various capacities. Some of the filmmakers I’ve collaborated with recently were JOHN LEWIS of “Dark Dimensions”, RYAN WORKMAN of “The Inevitable”, GARO NIGGOHSIAN of “Dangerous People” and RICK STEVENSON of “Missing Time”(in production). JOHN, RYAN, GARO and RICK have also worked on my productions. In the spirit of friendship we help each other, pool our equipment and respect each other as bosses or crew depending on whose turn it is to produce a movie.

Ken: I’m very interested in your Moonie character and have enjoyed what I’ve seen of it so far. Why don’t you tell us something about that?

Nick: I hate talking about Moonie, however, I will force myself for you. :0)

I created Moonie the Starbabe in the late 1960’s. I had read about a French space heroine called “Barbarella” and I was intrigued. I pictured her as a voluptuous space maiden but when I finally saw Barbarella I was disappointed at how skinny she was, so, I decided to create my own space heroine. I based her form and hairdo on the Playboy models CHINA LEE and GWEN WONG and illustrated several adventures as Moonchild Comics. I self published them and sold them on the Underground, a very big venue in the sixties. Eventually I did her as a three issue comic, shortening her name to Moonie, written and illustrated by me and inked by my friend DAVE SIMONS. I then decided it was time for her movie but the concept was too expensive for a low budget Indie Movie. My friend BILL BLACK told me I should do Moonie as a short and use the short to finance a full length movie. I cast for the lead and NIKOMA DeMITRO was hired as Moonie. She was perfect in the role but proved to be much, much more. She had an uncanny business sense and after completing “Moonie and the Spider Queen, Episode One” she developed a prospectus for a full length movie called “Too Many Moons”. I signed her on as my partner and presently we are searching for investors for our movie, scheduled to shoot in early 2016.

Ken:  I can tell by certain comments that you’ve made that you are a fan of classic old movies like I am. Is there anything that you think the public doesn’t know about in that realm that they should?  Also I would be interested to know what your favorite all time movies are?

Nick: Surprisingly, it isn’t just all those great sci-fi and horror movies. My favorites are the film noir such as “Double Indemnity” and “D.O.A.”. They have such complex stories with outrageous plots. I believe, today there is an emphasis on blockbusters or movies heavy with special effects and light on character and plots. The old movies emphasized plot and character because they knew how ludicrous the effects would look to an audience of that era.

Ken: Obviously you love science fiction. Which movies and TV shows in that genre are the most inspiring to you?

Nick: Of course I also love “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, “The Thing from Another World”, “It Came From Outer Space”, “The Terror from Beyond Space”, “The Monster who Challenged the World”, “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”, “Invaders from Mars” and “Forbidden Planet”. In spite of their lurid titles, they were fantastic movies and I spent many a Saturday Matinee with my buddies at the Highway Movie Theater in Brooklyn.

The most inspiring TV shows were “Captain Video and his Video Rangers”, “Tom Corbett, Space Cadet”, “Rod Brown and the Rocket Rangers”, “Captain Z-Ro” and “Rocky Jones, Space Ranger”. I also enjoyed the BUSTER CRABBE serial adventures of “Flash Gordon” and “Buck Rogers”.

Ken: Finally in closing is there anything you can say to younger folks about following their creative dreams?

Nick: To quote my boss/mentor WALLY WOOD “Don’t do it.” You will be poor for most of your life, and if you do achieve a certain amount of success, it won’t equal all you have sacrificed to get there. However, I look back on my achievements and when you come to the end of your life those who said:  “Whoever has the most toys wins” are liars. Those who have lived a life of fulfilling their dreams really are the winners.

How do you break into the field? Ask a hundred artists and writers and you will get a hundred different stories.

All I can say is believe in yourself, study, improve and do not accept negative results. Those who succeed are those who never give up.

(Ken L. Jones has worked in many different creative capacities in popular culture in the last several decades. Still doing just that he is most proud of how well his poetry is being received today.  Years back he broke into all of this by doing major interviews in The Comics Journal and in Comics Interview magazines where he was also West Coast Editor.  Still doing an occasional interview when he thinks the subject worthy he has always approached all of this as a conversation between two friends and he still sees it that way. )

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Spiritwood by G. J. Wise is an exciting new novel of the supernatural which has already garnered praise for "(taking its) readers to the woodshed"

Spiritwood by G. J. Wise is an exciting new novel of the supernatural which has already garnered praise for "(taking its) readers to the woodshed"

Reading it myself, I found it worthy of this praise. Wise quickly sets up a believable cast of characters we care about and a supernatural premise that deserves a novel length treatment.


I had the chance to interview Wise recently but before we get to that, some more words about the novel.

The town Spiritwood borders the massive Chequamagon National forest in northern Wisconsin and it gets its name from an old Native American legend of Indian spirits living in the woods surrounding the town...the thing is, the legend is true.

Sculptor Jed Guiness has a gift -- he can actually see his sculptures in the wood before he ever brings them out.  Jed buys property in Spiritwood, moving there from Chicago. He finds seven massive oaks that contained Indian braves that were more amazing than anything he’d ever seen in wood before.
The trees grow in a circle around the base of a mound deep in a valley at the back edge of his property. Contact with the mound causes queasiness, feelings that something is searching his mind and body, dreams of running into the woods with an axe, and ultimately a realization a sinister power rages within, driving him to cut down one of the trees… to bring it down and free whatever was in the mound.

Jed learns from some residents he befriends about the seven tribes of the Ojibwa and their struggle with dark clan of Red Eagle, who they come to suspect has somehow escaped the mound where he was buried when the town soon becomes chaotic.
Will Jed and the others be able to successfully hold Red Eagle’s spirit in check or will Red Eagle’s spirit, embodied in another Spiritwood resident, prevail and destroy those who mean to imprison him?

As a horror anthology editor, I have had the pleasure to work with Wise. As I have stated before, he is a true fabulist in the tradition of Richard Matheson or Harlan Ellison. In his stories, startling fantasy characters co-exist with humans in an often cold dark reality of the world he creates.

Spiritwood continues these trends, in a logical progression from the short story format to first novel. While Wise has created something all his own here, this novel brought to mind  Stephen King in the way Wise sets up a cast of characters and then once the action gets going, he cross-cuts among all of them at a swift pace. Though Spiritwood has a great plot, it was all about characters first, another echo of King and Matheson.

When asked about this, Wise responded:
I'm honored that Spiritwood brought to mind these writers.  I feel that the greatest influences in my writing have been from Stephen, King, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, and Robert McCammon.  I should mention Richard Matheson and Harlan Ellison as well, but I feel my list is getting long.  The truth is I could mention dozens more writers who influence my writing.  My writing is a product of what I read and I read mostly horror novels, although I don't only read horror.   It is a product of many other things also, but what I read and who I read has greatly inspired, entertained and taught me how to write.

Thanks for taking the time to chat today. I noticed a heavy dosage of abusive relationships in the novel. Was this a conscience decision on your part, that it would be a noticeable theme?
Well, I think it helps to bring some terrifying reality to an supernatural story.  Unfortunately, spouse and child abuse are real tragedies in our world today and it is something readers can easily identify as a realistic evil. 

I thought there was also a kind of Brian James Freeman feel to your masterful use of vivid imagery, particularly from nature, the darkness of the woods and such, and the way you then use this to reflect back on the characters and events. The Wisconsin setting works great for that. Your biography mentions you live in Wisconsin. Have you always? Is Spiritwood in part or at all based on a real town, or its characters on people you know?
I have lived in Wisconsin all my adult life.  Spiritwood isn't based on a real town, per se, but I did envision a town form my childhood as I wrote it.  The characters in the story were completely developed from my mind.  Neither the good or bad characters remind me of people I know, but I think some elements of their personalities, reflect aspects of my own. 

Was the folklore you used your own invention? Or the product of research?
The folklore is entirely made up. I did hear a story once of how the Ojibwa came to live in Wisconsin and Minnesota and wrote that as how I thought a teenager would remember it.  I also found some information about some Native American tribes believing that the spirits of their ancestors lived in trees, but my interpretation is entirely fictional and does not resemble what I read.  Like most of my writing, I take information I've learned and manipulate it to suite my purposes.  It is entirely unfair to the real folklore, but this is a work of fiction and I trust the readers will understand that this is no reflections on the real history of the Native American people.

You chose to have Red Eagle appear to characters in many dreams in the first half of the book? I like dream sequences, some people hate them. One of my editors despised them and tried to get me to lose all of mine. Tell me about your thought process there.

I personally love dream sequences.  I think it is another way to help with the suspension of disbelief.  Dreams are another common occurrence we all as human beings share.  We as normal rational individuals get to experience the supernatural every night when we sleep.  Dreams are often (for me at least) limitless.  We can experience everything without the constraints of rationality, so the impossible becomes possible.  Fortunately, both my publisher and editor thought the dream sequences added to the story and helped to convey a sense of foreboding and insanity that would later play out in the action.

Thanks for chatting with me here and good luck with this excellent first novel.

Check out this wonderful new novel for yourself. There are several buy links below in any format imaginable so what are you waiting for?





G.J.Wise lives with his wife in Silver Lake, Wisconsin.  He’s been writing for many years, seriously for the last few and has short stories published in both print and electronic anthologies and periodicals.  His debut novel, Spiritwood, was released December 1st.  G.J. Wise is currently at work on his next book length dark offering as well as many more short stories.  If you want more information about current or upcoming works, please visit his author page on Facebook ( or Amazon or feel free to contact via e-mail at


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Holiday Who-Dunnit Cheer by David S. Pointer

Holiday Who-Dunnit Cheer

David S. Pointer


The Christmas Carol

outfit were actually

home invasion crew

but this time they ended

up inside a meth cookers

kitchen etiquette by way

of Glock, Smith, Wesson

with bullets ricocheting

off more than old iron

baby deer window d├ęcor

with the last door crawling

survivor being strangled

with sleigh bells strap


Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Skullface Chronicles, the ONLY zombie book you should read--from Dorothy Davies

The Skullface Chronicles

The Skullface Chronicles:

The ONLY zombie book you should read.

Skullface emerges from his unmarked grave in a copse on the Isle of Wight and spends nine days walking around the island, as well as making difficult journeys to the mainland, saying goodbye to all he knew. Every night he withdraws into himself and relives his past, coming to terms with all he was, all he did and how and why he ended up in that unmarked grave. It's a powerful potent book.

On Reviewer stated: "This is a darkly original take on a zombie revenge horror tale, told from the point of the view of the person who has come back from the dead and with very good reason for wanting that revenge. It is compulsive, page turning reading because you want to discover what happened to them in life as much as what is keeping them after death. The humans are as horrifying it turns out as any monster could be. At points there is very black humor, at others beautiful turns of phrase and sometimes simply a sad poignancy. It is written with a powerful voice and characters which, as with Frankenstein's monster, allows you to retain empathy for the protagonist no matter how disturbing the tale and question fundamental things such as the nature of humanity. Truly unique."

Dorothy Davies has written many stories, articles and books, but has never written anything like this before. She says "it took a lot out of her and she is still having difficulty in settling to other writing projects, even though this has been out now for some time."
Here are the buy links for the paperback and ebook directly from Horrified Press's shop at Lulu:
Meantime, look for Thirteen O'Clock Press anthologies, full of dark and dramatic stories edited by myself and Dorothy: 


Monday, December 8, 2014

"Tis the Season...for Twisted Holiday Poetry from David S. Pointer

Joy Sticks &
Jelly Beans
David S. Pointer
The intergalactic
fetus limb amputation
video games were
hot ticket holiday
items with all the
only children who
didn’t want multi-
species brothers
and sisters adopted
or otherwise or even
delivered by the jolly
ole Claus-n-mobile
on his holiday run

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Strange Doings At Fist City by Ken L. Jones

Strange Doings At Fist City




Ken L. Jones


            Decker Hardin was the world’s most public figure but even he had secrets. One of the most notorious pugilists who had ever professionally boxed he was as least as well-known as the star of one scandal after another. Now most of them stemmed from how sadistically cruel he was to his professional boxing opponents but his glee at inflicting pain applied to his personal life as well as his many wives, children, servants, baby mamas, and assorted paparazzi could attest to but even this wasn’t enough. When he wasn’t being paid millions to pound another heavy weight boxer into bloody hamburger or was pimp slapping anyone that was in his personal orbit then he kept busy by taking out his volcanic aggression on all the denizens of the animal kingdom that he could lay his hands upon. His screw loose about hurting animals had first come on him as a toddler. He had started out with the insect kingdom then worked his way up the food chain from there. Pets didn’t live long under his tutelage and eventually just maiming them then killing them lost its thrill. It was about this time that he caught a repeat on the cable of the Roots I miniseries and became obsessed with the character of Chicken George and the so-called sport of cock fighting that George was the master of.

Now the idea of this truly got Hardin ’s juices running and it wasn’t long until he and some other neighborhood bad boys were indulging in clandestine  matches between various dogs that they coerced  into fighting one another to the death. Decker didn’t find any of this very strange because every since he had been able to walk he had always went around pounding on everything and everybody with his fists. In some ways these events had defined his whole identity and were the only way in which he and his demented lifestyle of cruelty could find social acceptance. So it was that he rose up through all the hard scrabble of the amateur ranks of boxing until at twenty-one he was the undisputed heavy weight champion of the whole entire world. Now all of this should have been more than enough of an adrenaline rush and ego gratification for most mere mortals but Decker Hardin had always considered himself far, far, more than that. In time he had come to see his boxing as just another extremely well-paid job that was far too easy for him to accomplish and so he came to look for the danger and thrills that he so craved with his private animal fighting activities.

To that end he had purchased a large rural estate that he dubbed Fist City in New York’s Catskill Mountains where he personally bred, trained and made fight for select audiences the most vicious of pit bulls. Rumors about what went on there circulated for years and clogged the internet and airwaves like the rankest of sewage. Finally someone was able to smuggle cell phone footage out that resulted in a judge issuing a warrant to raid the compound. What the authorities found there even shocked and offended the street hardened officials that took the place down and since Hardin was in the process of skinning a dog alive who hadn’t fought hard enough and was surrounded by several more such dogs that he had lynched for insubordination there was no way he could talk his way out of what so obviously went on there. When the investigation and trial was over he found himself down in prison for a two year stretch. Now considering what some murders receive for prison time these days this might have seemed extreme on the surface of it but Decker Hardin had made a complete fool of himself throughout his whole trial mocking and showing contempt for the judge at every turn. It was little wonder that he drew such a stiff sentence coupled with a fortune draining fine too yet still he took it all in his cocky stride and not even the fact that this latest boondoggle had landed him in with the general population of a serious butt ramming prison had thrown him off for very long. His Tarzan-like savagery and mastery of the sweet science of flooring another human guaranteed that he never became any man’s bride while incarcerated. Once this salient fact had been established time passed well enough. He kept his newly shaved head down, got his GED and converted to the Black Muslim faith and when he wasn’t busy with all this he trained hard on the prison weights and worked out on the boxing equipment in its sparse gym and so in that way the two years went by in something of a blur then one bright morning he found that he was back on the streets again.

Socially shunned nearly broke and freshly divorced against his will he felt a deep need to clear his head and so retreated to a small hunting cabin that he had managed to hold on to which was even deeper up the Hudson River Valley than Fist City had been. Since he was a convicted felon he couldn’t own a gun but that hardly prevented him from stalking, hunting and catching fresh meat. This was easily accomplished with crossbow and machete and a series of snares and traps that he set with upmost precision. Something about how primal and Neanderthal-like all this was appealed to his inner animalism and he was soon relaxed and at peace with himself once again.

It was on the third day of his return to nature that something extraordinary happened. While he was out checking his snares Decker discovered hanging by its heels and groaning in an unearthly voice an animal he had never seen nor abused before. Tiring immediately of the strange noises of whatever this thing was that was making them he boldly stepped up to it and delivered a roundhouse right to its jaw knocking it into unconsciousness. Cutting it down and using its rope snare to bind it securely he then threw it over his shoulder and took it back to his cabin for his further contemplation. This accomplished he after a little surfing of the net on his portable laptop could come to no other conclusion than that he was now the proud possessor of one genuine Big Foot!

            Now true the thing seemed to be half the size that other supposed sighters of this creature claimed it should be but it was in every other respect exactly what people had touted it to be and so Hardin blew off its lack of stature as being akin to fishermen exaggerating how large the big one that had gotten away on them was. Sometime near sundown of the same day as he was pan frying some fresh venison and canned pork and beans for his dinner, Decker and his still bound and now gagged “pet” were startled by the shattering of his locked front door. Before Decker could even blink he saw that the source of all this was yet another Big Foot inches taller than the one who now lay helplessly on his cabin’s rough hewn floor. With battle instincts borne from a life time of violence Hardin  reacted instantly gripping the sizzling cast-iron frying pan in his own now burning palm he spun around and caught the uncomprehending charging Big Foot square in the head with it knocking him cold as it fried half of his unearthly looking face away in the process. An hour later when the thing that most said was only a myth returned to groggy half consciousness it found itself now too laying helplessly restrained and gagged next to the other of its kind that it had so boldly attempted to rescue and there towering over both of them was the truer savage of them all Decker Hardin now smiling a golden grill studded grin as he yakked away animatively into his private cellular phone.

            “Hello Garnett, Garnett Purcell its Decker, yeah Decker Hardin. You won’t believe what I’ve got for you my man.”

            Now luckily Garnett Purcell in between running for the Presidency on the dime of a very strange and confused third party and publicly making a fool out of himself by insisting that the seated President wasn’t really a citizen of America had quietly picked up Fist City at auction as a favor to his long time amigo Decker Hardin and that had given the disgraced former boxer a grand idea. Now Garnett despite all the strange things that he normally believed in was incredulous about what Decker told him he had captured because the fabled businessman had never believed anything of an occult or otherworldly nature and so literally being from Missouri he had his private helicopter take him up to Hardin’s cabin if only to put an end to all this nonsense once and for all.

Now Purcell once he metabolized that all this was true was full of ideas about how to exploit it. Being an educated man he thought of endless possibilities in a variety of different ways. The pair of Big Foots of course could be sold for top dollar to any zoo in the world. They could also be put on display as the center piece of a new amusement park and a reality show starring them on TV would surely be a ratings grabber and all of these were but a few of the practical applications that might grow from such an enterprise. Why the endorsements and licensing revenues from this alone could make a man richer than any ten oil sheiks put together.

 Yet none of these propositions seem to hold any appeal for Decker who had other plans and in the end these two amazing animals belonged to him and not Purcell. Now what “The Two-Fisted Tornado” as he was popularly nicknamed was interested in doing with them seemed extremely risky and almost stupid to Purcell but he found that he could not just walk away from all this and so he agreed to be the chief facilitator for Decker’s brutal and obvious scheme and so the world’s strangest cock fight was arranged to take place at Fist City on New Year’s Day. Not only would it have an audience composed of the world’s wealthiest ticket holders but the event would also go out via satellite as the priciest pay for view event of all time.

Now all of this had to be done in a very clandestine way because of course in every sense of the word it was illegal and this is where Purcell and all his connections shined the most brightly. Through it all the eccentric millionaire stayed at Fist City with the sadistic ex-boxer and his two prized catches that they had transported and appropriately caged there. Hardin was ecstatic as he took complete charge of training the two Big Foots to fight each other to the death. He took pleasure in whipping and torturing them to bring out their killer instincts. To this end he tricked them into slaughtering guard dogs and stray cats in order to get their own blood lust up and yet through it all they seemed to not what to hurt one another even under the stroke of Decker’s cattle prod or even after he would pummel them unmercifully with his well schooled and massive fists.

All seemed hopeless until he discovered through trial and error that alcohol had a really bad effect on them and was pretty much the only thing that put them into the correct frame of mind to do what he demanded. So he started them on a regime of heavy whiskey consumption just prior to the match and yet through it all they spent hours loudly crooning something unintelligible over and over again at the top of their lungs that drove everyone who was in ear shot around the bend and nothing could be done to quiet them down once they got started.

 Finally New Year’s Day arrived and Decker never stopped smiling for even an instant as he anticipated all that was to come. The worldwide viewing audience was the largest ever recorded and t he live audience was a who’s who of every mover and shaker from every strata of those who ran the world. Garnett Purcell for obvious reasons did not publicly acknowledge his vast connection with all of this but he was there for every second of it none the less. Decker Hardin had no such qualms. Already once again a multimillionaire because of all of this he was planning to abandon America forever by chartered plane in a few hours for a riotous retirement in the Philippine Islands which had no extradition laws whatsoever. So he brazenly played his public swan song for all that it was worth openly and proudly introducing the whole event and flamboyantly MC-ing it all.

The two Big Foots were drunker than anyone had ever seen them before and Decker had been shocking them and slicing them with a box cutter to work up their ire. Both of them seemed ready to kill the first thing that came within arm’s length of them once they were released from their respective cages. Then as if it was some kind of hallucination the event began in earnest. First Decker came into the large caged arena and made a long and rambling speech detailing how he had captured these two things of legend and then the two Big Foots were released from their respective cages. At first it looked like they were going to do all that was expected of them then things took a most unexpected turn and they instead began cuddling and comforting one another as if they were small and abused infants.

This was more than the audience could take and they began to boo and shout and throw things at the objects of their disappointment. Decker insane with rage ripped off his tuxedo and lacy shirt and jumped bare-chested into the center of all this. He began wildly beating down the two animals who were cowed and acted scared of him. Their only response to all this was an even more loud and plaintive version of the sad vocalizations that they had been repeating endlessly since they first arrived at Fist City. Hardin’s nauseating rampage continued for a long time as the event he had put so much of his heart and soul into unraveled about him and became reduced to a mockery of all that it was once meant to be.

Then just when it seemed as if things couldn’t get any stranger they did as two other Big Foots appeared out of nowhere dripping wet and more enraged than anything that Decker had ever seen in all of his many years of seeking out violence. These new Big Foots too were singing a deeper and more throaty version of what the other two had been wailing out for so long and as they rose up to their full heights they stood revealed as being as large as Big Foot’s were generally portrayed as being. As all this was happening Decker laughed sardonically realizing far too late exactly what his two prized fighting animals really were. Now that he was face to face with their parents Hardin tried to laugh it all off and groove on the absurd irony of it all. As the adult Big Foots tore into the crowd viciously as they went about trying to save their offspring Decker realized that all this was going out to a worldwide audience and since it was all on film people would be watching his humiliation and stupidity till the end of time. Finally as the adults got to him personally it was revealed for all to see that compared to them he was no stud, no champ, no tough guy or hard ass but was indeed when confronted by a superior foe who was out for blood was just another man who realized far too late exactly what fear meant.