Cosmic Charlie
by Bryan Zepp Jamieson

The Charlie Effect
by Keith Campbell

Cosmic Charlie
by Island Girl

Cosmic Charlie
by Misha

KamiCosmic Charlie
by Colin Campbell

Sea Foam
by Swagman

Cosmic Charlie
by Jeffrey P. McManus

Holy Lunch
by Aidan Butler


to Swagazine


by Jeffrey P. McManus

His name was Cosmic Charlie, and he was doomed to die.

The sentence had been self-imposed, actually, so the fact, cold and open as it was, was not nearly as dramatic as it might seem. But the impending death was real, imminent, and threateningly certain, just as sure as the bulbous-red nose on Charlie's face.

"Taxes," Charlie used to say on the telephone to strangers, old friends, new enemies, anybody who'd listen. "The only certain thing in life? Hmmph?!"

"Who is this?" Mrs. Gretchen Houynhym of the 213 area code said uninterestedly into her end of the receiver. Of course, she knew who it was. But she wasn't doing anything in particular at the moment, nor was she particularly frightened by Cosmic Charlie's ravings. It was his time, after all, and their time. Somewhere, in the back of her mind, she wondered if Cosmic Charlie was masturbating into the phone, somehow stimulated by her confused pleadings for information.

She didn't mind supplying Charlie with whatever cheap excitement he desired; for she had worked her way through a year of junior college as a 976 phone sex girl (before she got married, of course, at least that's what her husband thought -- yet she had gone back to working the phones three times, for four hours each time, when money was tight after the baby came).

"Death!" Cosmic Charlie said into the telephone. Death was, after all, his favorite topic, the central pillar around which the worn, gnarled vines of his life relentlessly constricted. He loved talking about it, loved flirting with it (although he hated pain, to be sure), and would coyly hint around it, sometimes for hours, in his random telephone conversations with bored housewives. If they listened, of course. Only if they listened. 

If the women hung up on him, well, they were doomed to die for their impudence. They would certainly be out of his life forever, for Cosmic Charlie took a special delight in crossing telephone numbers out of the great White Pages of his mind whenever they didn't listen to him the way he wanted them to.

Mrs. Gretchen Houynhym narrowed her eyebrows and held the phone closer to her ear, trying hard not to become embroiled in what she knew to be Charlie's deep, penetrating insanity. The sudden impact of a topic not usually on Charlie's agenda was startling her, yet she enjoyed it in a warm-painful sort of fireplace way.

She suddenly wished that he'd get off, go limp, and shut up so she could hang up and go back to her laundry. But another part of her wished he'd go on for hours (not necessarily because that would indicate superhuman virility, but because there was a hypnotic, extra-worldly quality to his voice that made her think, and made her horny, at the same time. She didn't know why).

"What about it?" she said, snapping her gum into the phone and wriggling around in the heat of the kitchen green vinyl chair she'd been sitting in for far, far too long. 

Cosmic Charlie, not masturbating, barely able to move, in fact, gasped loudly into the phone. Gretchen, in all her years as a professional, was unable to recognize the gasp as anything other than a moan of rapt ecstasy.

"Are you all right, mister?" she asked. 

"Yesssss," Cosmic Charlie said. He wasn't, of course, by most conventional, human, living standards, but he was doing quite well by his own standards. He was nearing death, and he would take a few with him when he went. This much was certain.

Gretchen felt daring -- perhaps it was the Drano fumes she'd inhaled earlier today, perhaps it was her husband's impotence since the baby was born and he'd lost his job at the Ford dealership and had to take a job as an apprentice carpet installer. Or maybe it was all of those things. But she felt daring, so dared she did.

"Do you need some help?" she asked. "I mean, I don't know your name or anything, have been calling here for quite some time now, a few months at least, and I suppose we sorta communicate on the same level. And...well, heck, you sound like you could use a woman around right now."

"Nooooo," Cosmic Charlie hissed. "Death is coming. It's all I neeeeeed."

She left the phone off the hook and went to the other line upstairs -- the boarders' line, installed primarily because they'd planned to rent out their upstairs storage room when they couldn't make mortgage payments. But so far there had been no takers, and Gretchen had just been cleaning and dusting and paying phone bills on the room for no good purpose.

She picked up the phone and dialed 911. She had been a 911 operator in the old days before she'd been married as well. What a hell that was. Always dealing with the sick, macho fantasies of repressed policemen who'd never let her beat them or bite them or rip bloody pieces of skin off their backs when they were making love in parked patrol cars at three-thirty in the morning. What a bunch of backward hicks.

She'd been forced to leave the 911 job, after only six months, after leaving marks on a Sargeant's neck. She went from there to the phone sex job. She remembered it well.

Within a few minutes she'd gotten Cosmic Charlie's address from 911 and was grabbing her purse and coat together. Then at the last minute, just before leaving the house, she eschewed her coat, hurling it to the floor. She didn't know why. Maybe she thought it would make her look more free 'n' easy. Who knows.

She did bring condoms, though. No sense in killing herself over a passing fancy.

Cosmic Charlie's house was not in the 213 area code. It was in the adjacent 818 area code. So there was a bit of driving involved for Gretchen. She didn't mind. When there is excitement, delicious unknown excitement at the other end of an auto trip, no distance is too long to travel.

There was sweaty-loud male moaning coming from behind the door as she climbed the steps.

"Mister?" she called, knocking lightly on the wooden-framed screen door. "Are you all right?"

"Yeeeeeees," said Cosmic Charlie.

"Is anybody else in there with you?" She felt terrible about asking, but she felt she had to be prepared.

"Yeeeess," Cosmic Charlie of the 818 area code cried. He let out another howling moan.

Gretchen's eyes widened. She wondered who else could be in there, making him make those noises. Was it another woman? Or more than one? Or a man, even? Or an animal or a machine or a imaginary friend who instead of fading away at puberty when real friends came to take its place only grew larger, and lovelier, and more real, until you could almost touch it, and it could _certainly_ touch you, and it _did_ touch you, at every opportunity, until your thighs chafed with juicy desire whenever it entered the room?

No. It could be none of those things. Call it feminine intuition, but she knew in her experienced heart that the scene inside the home of Cosmic Charlie was nothing like what she expected. 

Uninvited, she threw open the door.

"Come in," he said. He was lying in on a couch, in the living room, amidst a forest of realistic statues of women. The statues were not quite love dolls, but they were far too realistic and naked-shiny to be considered department store dummies either.

Gretchen did not want to enter the home of Cosmic Charlie, but felt she should for his own good.

"Come a little closer. A little more. There! Stop. Stop right there."

From her vantage point in the musty-still darkness, Gretchen could see that Cosmic Charlie was probably not the wild-eyed fiend she'd hoped he would be. There was nothing of the satyric gleam she'd come to know well in -- well, in other trades she'd practiced over the years. Instead, Cosmic Charlie's eyes were jaundiced, dying, and limp. She would not use condoms here, today. She'd be lucky to get a decent conversation from this sap.

"Death," he began. "Death stops everything. And out of death, we may find life."

Gretchen didn't like what she was hearing. It was beginning to sound like the Catholic funeral they'd had for her three-year-old niece last winter.

"But I have found a way to capture both life and death," Cosmic Charlie stated.

"How's that?" Gretchen said with a smirk, hoping that his method involved some form of below-the-belt Swedish massage. 

"Stay right where you are," Cosmic Charlie said, reaching his bony, decaying hand across the couch to a golden cord tied by a sash to a specially-placed knob on the wall. "And...LIVE!"

At the pull of the golden cord, a huge bucket full of some kind of quick-drying acrylic substance cascaded down upon her body from above. It reacted with her clothing, burning it, then hardening on her skin. Within seconds, her clothes were in tatters and she was unable to move, within a minute she could not breath and stood there, rooted to the spot, to join the other bored housewives of the 213, 818, 714 and 805 area codes in eternal life and never-ending lifelessness.

"Better living through chemistry," Cosmic Charlie said. 

"Mphhggglllph," said Mrs. Gretchen Houynhym, formerly of the 213 area code.

"That's right. Better living through chemistry." Cosmic Charlie expectorated his next-to-last dying gasp in the general direction of his impressive mannequin collection, and wondered who would receive the glorious blessing of death first: himself or Mrs. Gretchen Houynhym, formerly of the 213 area code.


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