In this tenth edition of Hot Blood, the "original" award-winning erotic horror series, fear has never felt so X-citing, X-quisite, or X-traordinary. Join seventeen of today's top authors as they X-pose the evil side of human -- and not-so-human -- nature. Take a seat in a bar where "three in the side pocket" has nothing to do with pool....Sexercise in a gym with a woman whose appetite for murder is insatiable.... Enter a body-piercing shop where betrayl and revenge are on the tip of the customer's tongue....Get seduced by a horror groupie with a body to undie for.... Join two amateur filmakers as their video camera captures the most gorgeous -- and deadly -- creature anyone has ever encountered.
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This 10th annual edition of the Hot Blood series amply proves that erotic horror is no passing fad: the physical and psychological connections between bodies in lust and bodies in extremis appear to stimulate the imaginations of horror writers as few other themes can. And the behavior of people in sexual situations is always open to new turns of the screw. As Lawrence Block writes in the effective opening tale, "Three in the Side Pocket," "People always got more interesting when you handed them something they didn't expect. Especially if it wasn't what they wanted. Especially if it was painful, or frightening, or both."
The 17 original tales in Hot Blood X include a brilliant, shocking story about radical body-sculpting by the underrecognized Brian Hodge, an atmospheric Civil War piece by Stephen Gresham, a wry suspended-time tale by Graham Masterton (inspired by Peter Weir's film Picnic at Hanging Rock), and a fine tale about fire fetishism by Bentley Little. The other well-crafted stories are by Ramsey Campbell, Max Allan Collins (with Barbara Collins), O'Neil De Noux, Dawn Dunn, Nancy Holder, Greg Kihn, Marthayn Pelegrimas (with Robert J. Randisi), Melanie Tem, Judy Tracy, Graham Watkins, and each of the editors (Jeff Gelb and Michael Garrett).
If you aren't yet collecting the Hot Blood series, start now, before the previous volumes go out of print. Nearly every year, a tale in this series is a finalist or winner of a Bram Stoker Award. --Fiona WebsterExcerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. :
THREE IN THE SIDE POCKET
Lawrence Block has written novels ranging from the urban noir of Matthew Scudder (Even the Wicked) to the urbane effervescence of Bernie Rhodenbar (The Burglar in the Library). His articles and short fiction have appeared in American Heritage, Redbook, Playboy, GQ, and The New York Times. A Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, a multiple winner of the Edgar, Shamus, and Maltese Falcon awards, he lives in New York's Greenwich Village.
You'd think they would have a pool table. When you walked into a joint called the Side Pocket, you expected a pool table. Maybe something smaller than regulation, maybe one of those dinky coin-operated Bumper Pool deals. But something, surely, where you poked a ball with a stick and it went into a hole.
Not that he cared. Not that he played the game, or preferred the sound of balls striking one another as background music for his drinking. It was just a matter of unfulfilled expectations, really. You saw the neon, THE SIDE POCKET, and you walked in expecting a pool table, and they didn't have one.
Of course, that was one of the things he liked about his life. You never knew what to expect. Sometimes you saw things coming, but not always. You could never be sure.
He stood for a moment, enjoying the air-conditioning. It was hot out, and humid, and he'd enjoyed the tropical feel of the air as he'd walked here from his hotel, and now he was enjoying the cool dry air inside. Enjoy it all, he thought. That was the trick. Hot or cold, wet or dry. Dig it. if you hate it, then dig hating, it. Whatever comes along, get into it and enioy it.
He walked over to the bar. There here were plenty of empty stools but he stood instead. He gazed at the light glinting off the shoulders of the bottles on the top row of the back bar, listened to the hum of conversation floating on the surface of soft jazz from the jukebox, felt the cool air on his skin. He was a big man, tall and thickly muscled, and the sun had bronzed his skin and bleached blond streaks in his brown hair.
Earlier he'd enjoyed being in the sun. Now he was enjoying being out of it.
Contrasts, he thought. Name of the game.
He'd been standing, staring, and there was no telling how long the bartender had been right in front of him, waiting for him to order something. A big fellow, the bartender, sort of an overgrown kid, with one of those sleeveless T-shirts cut to show off the delts and biceps. Weight lifter's muscles. Get up around noon, pump some iron, then go lie in the sun. Spend the evening pouring drinks and flexing your muscles, go home with some vacationing schoolteacher or somebody's itchy wife.
He said, "Double Cuervo, neat, water back."
"You got it."
Why did they say that? And they said it all the time. You got it. And he didn't have it, that was the whole point, and he'd have it sooner if they didn't waste time assuring him that he did.
He didn't like the bartender. Fine, nothing wrong with that. He examined the feeling of dislike and let himself enjoy it. In his imagination he drove two stiffened fingers into the bartender's solar plexus, heard the pained intake of breath, followed with a chop to the windpipe. He entertained these thoughts and smiled easily, smiled with genuine enjoyment, as the fellow poured the drink.
"Run a tab?"
He shook his head and drew out his wallet. "Pay as you go," he said, riffling through a thick sheaf of bills. "Sound fiscal policy." He plucked one halfway out, saw it was a hundred, tucked it back. He rejected another hundred, then found a fifty and laid it on top of the bar. He drank the tequila while the bartender rang the sale and left his change on the bar in front of him, returning the wallet to his side pocket.
Maybe the bar's name had nothing to do with pool, he thought. Maybe the Side Pocket meant a pocket in a pair of pants, not the hip pocket but the side pocket, which could have made it an unhip pocket, but in fact made it a more difficult target for pickpockets.
They had a pool table there once, he decided, and the owner found it didn't pay for itself, took up space where he could seat paying customers. Or the bar changed hands and the first thing the new guy did was get rid of the table. Kept the name, though, because he liked it, or because the joint had a following. That made more sense than pants and pickpockets.
He kept his own wallet in his side pocket, but more for convenience than security. He wasn't much afraid of pickpockets. Draining the drink, he felt the tequila stirring him and imagined a hand slipping artfully into his pocket, groping almost imperceptibly for his fat wallet. Imagined his own hand taking hold of the smaller hand. Squeezing, breaking small bones, doing damage without looking, without even seeing the face of the person he was hurting.
He saw the bartender was down at the end of the bar, talking to somebody on the telephone, grinning a lazy grin. He waited until the kid looked his way, then crooked a finger and pointed at his empty glass. Get it? You got it.
A pair of double Cuervos gave you a nice base to work on, got the blood humming in your veins. When the second was gone he switched to India Pale Ale. It had a nice bite to it, a complicated flavor. Sat comfortably on top of tequila, too. Not so comfortably, though, that you didn't know it was there. You definitely knew it was there.
He was halfway through the second IPA when she came in. He didn't exactly sense her presence, but the energy in the place shifted when she walked through the door. Not that everybody turned to look at her. For all he knew, nobody turned to look at her. He certainly didn't. He just stood there, his hand wrapped around the base of the longneck bottle, ready to refill his glass. He felt the shift in energy and turned it over in his mind.
He caught sight of her in the back bar, watched out Pocket et of the corner of his eye as she approached. One empty stool separated the two of them, but she showed no awareness of his presence, her attention directed at the bartender.
She said, "Hi, Kevin."
"It's an oven out there. Sweetie, tell me something. Can I run a tab?"
"You always run a tab," Kevin said. "Though I heard someone say Pay As You Go is a sound fiscal policy."
I don't mean a tab like pay at the end of the evening. I mean like I'll pay you tomorrow."
"Oh," he said. "The thing is I'm not supposed to do that."
"See, the ATM was down," she said.
"Down? Down where?"
"Down as in not working. I stopped on the way here and it wouldn't take my card."
"Is Jerry meeting you here? Because he could -- "
"Jerry's in Chicago," she said. "He's not due back until the day after tomorrow." She was wearing a wedding ring, and she fiddled with it. "If you took plastic," she said, "like every other place..."
"Yeah, well," Kevin said. "What can I tell you, Lori? If we took plastic the owner couldn't cook the books as much. He hates to pay taxes even more than he hates to bathe."
"A wonderful human being."
"A prince," Kevin agreed. "Look, I'd let you run a tab, the hell, I'd just as soon let you drink free, far as it goes, but he's on my ass so much these days..."
"No, I don't want to get you in trouble, Kevvie."
He'd been taking this all in, hanging on every word, admiring the shape of it even as he'd admired her shape, long and curvy, displayed to great advantage in the pale yellow cotton shift. He liked the way Kevin had quoted his pay-as-you-go remark, a sure way to draw him toward the conversation if not into it.
Now he said, "Kevin, suppose I buy the lady a drink. How will that sit with the owner?"
This brought a big grin from the bartender, a pro forma protest from Lori. Very nice little lady, he thought, but you have done this before. "I insist," he said. "What are you drinking?"
"I'm not," she said. "That's the whole problem, and you, kind sir, are the solution. What am I drinking? Kevin, what was that drink you invented?"
"Hey, I didn't invent it," Kevin said. "Guy was drinking 'em in Key West and described it to me, and I improvised, and he says I got it right. But I never tasted the original, so maybe it's right and maybe it isn't." He shrugged. "I don't know what to call it. I was leaning toward Key Hopper or maybe Florida Sunset but I don't know."
"Well, I want one," Lori said.
He asked what was in it.
"Rum and tequila, mostly. A little OJ." Kevin grinned. "Couple of secret ingredients. Fix you one? Or are you all right with the IPAT?"
"I'll try one."
"You got it," Kevin said.
During the first round of Key Hoppers she told him her name was Lori, which he knew, and that her husband's name was Jerry, which he also knew. He told her his name was Hank Dettweiler and that he was in town on business. He'd been married once, he told her, but he was long divorced. Too many business trips.
During the second round she said that she and Jerry weren't getting along too well. Too few business trips, she said. It was when they were together that things were bad. Jerry was too jealous and too possessive. Sometimes he was physically abusive.
"That's terrible," he told her. "You shouldn't have to put up with that."
"I've thought about leaving him," she said, "but I'm afraid of what he might do."
During the third round of Key Hoppers (or Florida Sunsets, or whatever you wanted to call them) he wondered what would happen if he reached down the front of her dress and grabbed hold of one of her breasts. What would she do? It was almost worth doing just to find out.
There was no fourth round, because midway through the third she suggested they might be more comfortable at her place.
They took her car and drove to her house. It was a one-story box built fifty years ago to house vets. No Down Payment to GIs, Why Rent When You Can Own? He figured it was a rental now. Her car was an Olds Brougham a year old and her house was a dump with Salvation Army furniture and nothing on the walls but a calendar from the dry cleaner's. Why rent when you can own? He figured Lori and Jerry had their reasons.
He followed her into the kitchen, watched as she found an oldies station on the radio, then made them both drinks. She'd kissed him once in the car, and now she came into his arms again and rubbed her little body against him like a cat, Then she wriggled free and headed for the living room.
He went after her, drink in hand, caught up with her, and put his arm around her, reaching into the front of her dress and cupping her breast. It was the move he'd imagined earlier, but of course the context was different. It would have been shocking in a public place like the Side Pocket. Here it was still surprisingly abrupt, but not entirely unexpected.
"Oh, Hank," she said.
Not bad. She remembered the name, and acted as if his touch left her weak-kneed with passion. His hand tightened a little on her breast, and he wondered just how hard he could squeeze before fear and pain took the place of passion. 'They'd be more genuine emotions, certainly, and a lot more interesting.
People always got more interesting when you handed them something they didn't expect. Especially if it wasn't what they wanted. Especially if it was painful or frightening, or both.
He pulled her down onto the couch and began making love to her. His touch and his kisses were gentle, exploratory, but in his mind he hurt her, he forced her. That was interesting, too, a mental exercise he had performed before. She was vibrating to his touch, but she'd be screaming her lungs out if his actions matched the images in his mind.
Just something for his own private amusement, while they waited for Jerry.
But where was good old Jer? That was the question, and he could tell it had occurred to her as well, could tell by the way she worked to slow the pace. It wouldn't do if he got to nail her before the Jealous Husband burst through the door. The game worked best if he was caught on the verge, made doubly vulnerable by guilt and frustration, and awkward, too, with his pants down around his knees.
Happily, their goals were the same. And, when his pants were indeed around his knees and consummation appeared to be right around the corner, they both froze at the sound of a key in the lock.
"Oh my God!" she cried.
Enter Jerry. The door flew open and there he was. You looked at him and you wanted to laugh, because he was hardly the intimidating figure he was supposed to be. Traditionally, the outraged husband was big as a house and meaner than a snake, so that his physical presence alone would scare the crap out of you. Jerry wasn't a shrimp, but he was a middle-aged guy who stood five-ten in his shoes and looked like his main form of exercise was changing channels with the remote control. He wore glasses, he had a bald spot. He looked like a store clerk, night man at the 7-Eleven, maybe.
Which helped explain the gun in his hand. You take a guy five-four, eighty years old, weighs no more than a sack of flour, you put a gun in his hand, you've got a figure that commands respect.
Lori was whimpering, trying to explain. Hank got to his feet, turned from her, turned toward Jerry. He pulled up his pants, fastened them.
"You must be Jerry," he said. "Now look, just because you got a gun don't mean you get to jump the line. You gotta wait your turn, just like everybody else."
It was comical, because Jerry wasn't expecting that. He was expecting a load of begging and pleading, explanations and justifications, and instead he got something that didn't fit any of the slots available for it.
So he didn't know how to react, and while he was figuring it out Hank crossed the room, grabbed the gun in one hand, hit him with the other. His fist went right into the pit of Jerry's soft stomach, just about midway between the nuts and the navel, and that was the end of the war. You hit a person there just right, before he's had a chance to tense his stomach muscles, and if you put enough shoulder into the punch you can deliver a fatal blow.
Not instantly fatal, though. It can take a day or a week, and who has that kind of time?
So he let Jerry double up, clutching his belly with both hands, and he grabbed hold of him by the hair on his head and forced his head down hard, fast, and brought his own knee up hard, fast. He smashed Jerry's face, broke his nose.
Behind him, she was carrying on, going No, no, no, clutching at his clothing. He backhanded her without looking, concentrating his attention on Jerry, who was blubbering through the blood that coursed from his nose and mouth.
That was nice, that knee-in-the-face maneuver. His pants were already bloody at the knee, and it was a sure bet there was nothing in Jerry's closet that would fit him. That was the advantage of having the husband be a big bozo, the way the script called for it; after you were ...
Les informations fournies dans la section « A propos du livre » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.
Description du livre Pinnacle, 2006. Mass Market Paperback. État : New. N° de réf. du libraire DADAX0786016515
Description du livre Pinnacle, 2006. Mass Market Paperback. État : New. book. N° de réf. du libraire M0786016515
Description du livre Pinnacle, 2006. Mass Market Paperback. État : New. N° de réf. du libraire P110786016515
Description du livre Pinnacle. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. État : New. 0786016515 New Condition. N° de réf. du libraire NEW7.1278757