RD Armstrong & Claudio Parentela
All rights reserved. ©2008. No part of this book may be reproduced without the express written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations for the purpose of review. ISBN 978-1-929878-98-7
Lummox Press PO Box 5301 San Pedro, CA 90733
The author wishes to thank Chris Yeseta for helping with the layout, Claudio Parentela for the illustrations (www.claudioparentela.net/) and the editors of the following for previously printing some of these stories. Dirt (The Manx Tales) appeared in Bender #2, Carl appeared in Aliens Are Real 4, Art Fag appeared in Last Call: The Legacy of Charles Bukowski, Cockfight appeared on the Assorted Realities website, The Manx Tales appeared on The Ragged Edge website and was published in booklet form by the Lummox Press in 1999, El Pagano was also published by Lummox Press in 1998 as part of the Little Red Book series.
Cover painting by Tareq Swenson. Printed by CreateSpace.com
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Many years ago
when I first started writing poetry seriously, I was advised by a friend that if I really wanted to be taken seriously as a writer, I’d have to write fiction because as she put it “anyone can write poetry.” Well, over the years I’ve come to understand that while anyone can write poetry, like any other field of expression, some are better than others. So I dabbled at writing fiction, but my heart wasn’t really in it…so much verbiage just to get a point across. I preferred the poem, where things could be suggested without going into great detail. A chair could be just that, or a chair could become a metaphor for something entirely different. It was clean and simple. Over the years, as I continued to write poetry and essays (for a magazine I published for eleven years called the LUMMOX Journal), I also wrote more stories. With time it got easier and easier. Funny thing is, I don’t believe I ever shared any of them with my friend, who’d started me down this path in the first place.
As a poet, I had no qualms about sharing my work with anyone who would listen, but I was much more cautious about sharing my stories. Perhaps this is because, in the beginning, I wrote about what was most prominent in my mind: sex. Except for the last story in this collection I really haven’t included any of the original “blue” stories that got me going, so to speak. Eventually, I settled down and began to write stories instead of sexcapades. Perhaps, someday, I’ll publish these blue stories, though I’m beginning to think that life is already pornographic enough… As to the title of this collection, the term El Pagano is a Spanish pun used by Gypsy performers. Literally it means The Pagan, or non-believer; but it can also mean The One Who Pays.
A Flamenco guitarist once told me this story: when the Gypsies come to town to perform, they must find someone they can trust to make sure they get paid. Of course they don’t really trust any non-Gypsy (or in their eyes, a non-believer in the Gypsy ways), so it’s really a case of finding the one who is least likely to screw them out of their money. So El Pagano becomes an unlikely go-between…a role I’ve found myself in many times. What the reader will notice in these stories is that the author, like the protagonist in each story, is definitely bent, if not completely broken. I make no apology for this. I am, after all a product of these demented times we find ourselves living in. — RD Armstrong, Long Beach, CA
“He lunges towards me; I parry and thrust, using the ‘bridge’ to knock the knife loose. It falls to the table, harmlessly. Then, I’m using the cue like a lance, thrusting it deep into Harry’s mid-section. It’s like impaling a marshmallow on the end of a coat hanger. Harry exhales loudly, his arms wind-milling without much success. He is beginning to stagger backwards. The bartender is warming up her ‘haymaker’. I push Harry around and into her, using the ‘bridge’ like a fly swatter. The crowd leans in, the melee is about to begin. I’m afraid it won’t go well for Harry, tonight. There is a rustling of pool cues behind me. I grab the fake blond and dive under the pool table with her. We scramble out the other side and make it out the back door.” — from Cock Fight
“He hit the downtown interchange just as Madame Butterfly wept for the return of her sailor boy. The chromium and glass towers shimmered in the late afternoon sunlight like so many disco-balls, their mirrored windows casting rectangular images on neighboring buildings, illuminating the canyons of concrete and asphalt below. Negotiating the interchange was trickier because the glare of sunlight bounced off every speck of dust on the windshield and blinded him. Manx raised his hand in protest. It didn’t help.” — from The Manx Tales
RD Armstrong is a fictional character living in a ‘dime’ novel world. He prefers to adopt this persona in order to spare his family any humiliation that might otherwise befall them. Aside from his obvious lack of a moral compass (he attributes this to years spent at the bottom of the barrel studying the denizens of Slackerville and Bohemia) or even the ability to discern up from down, Raindog (as he is known by many) has carved out a niche in the alternative small press as both poet and philosopher. In other words, he can sling shit with the best (and worst) of them. He has been published widely in both print and on the web. His book credits include Fire and Rain selected poems 1993-2007 (volume 1 & 2), On/Off the Beaten Path the Road Poems, Roadkill, Last Call: The Legacy of Charles Bukowski, Bone, The San Pedro Poems, Pedro Blue, In Memoriam, The Hunger, and Paper Heart. If the reader requires further explanation visit his website, where all will be revealed: www.lummoxpress.com
Read from one of the Manx Tales: Desire in A-Flat.
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