Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By Stephen Myer

Photo by Jadson Thomas on

            I slammed my fist four times against the door before I heard his body swish around. The Drummer weighed a thousand pounds and had a face like a trout. I pressed my eye against the peep-hole. His great fish eye stared back as his underwater voice oozed through the door.

            “What’s the password, Jack?” That could have been my name. It didn’t matter.

            The password—some line from a song I couldn’t remember because my brain was chasing an itch.

            “Come on, man. You know me, Drummer. Let me in!”

            “The password, Jack. Last chance,” said the fish-faced Cynoscion nebulosus.

            The same old shit. I became despondent. This auto-da-fé of Junkman Trout scrambled my cool and sent me into a vengeful reverie, the dream already in progress.

            A mermaid writhed in pain as she gave birth to the Drummer—that oversized Salmo. The fishmonger father crouched beside his suffering oceanic lover with a fillet knife in his hand and waited in ambush to slice up his tumorous troutchild who tore through its scaly-hipped mother.

            I knelt at the Drummer’s gate, hearing the curvy octave of Billie’s voice seep through the crack at the bottom of the door. Billie. A real woman and not a fish and she’d give me the truth for the price of a listen.

            Grab your arm and pull that strap.
            Leave your money on the table.
            Just direct your beat,

            “To the sunny side of the street!” I shouted, jumping up and down the Medulla Oblongata highway.

            Five hundred deadbolts unlatched and a slimy eye slithered around the door. I had more on my mind than a game of guess-who with Salvelinus malma, but I kept my cool.

            He slammed the door shut just to taunt me like always. Four moreraps on the door and the floodgates opened. Cold creekish freshwater rushed over my dorsal as I swam through the narrow entry and into his sacred pool.

            “Hey Jack, you need to pull yourself together. I run a reputable business here,” said Salmo platycephalus.

            His sanctum was small, but the only hole in the city sans roaches and rats. I recognized the smell of his tank. A marinated stench of pesticide and fish perspiration. Every client knew his stink and that he had an elephant’s memory. I visited him a hundred times and he never forgot to treat me like a stranger.

            I shuffled over to the velveteen sofa. Three cushions, three altars, three shrines, offered the road to happiness. The Professor sat at the far end, Madman at the other, and between them The Vestal Virgins.

            “Give me the rap, Drummer.”

            He didn’t hear me, or he didn’t bother to answer. He took a seat behind his snare and started the stir with his brushes.

            Shsssssssh, chickkuh- shsssssssh, chickkuh- chickkuhdeedum- chickkuhdeedum.

            The ostinato stopped me in my tracks, orbiting my brain as it swept across the gritty terrain of Microcosmic Drumlandia. I was trapped in his stir, lost between those clean strokes, drifting over the Valley of Red Devils whose denizens called my name as they danced crazylike upon a burning groove.

            The trout swam in his own watery world. His eyes bulged with desire as he stared at the crimson thighs of Oncorhynchus mykiss Mars while his tongue wiggled in the opposite direction, tasting the Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita lips of furry Venus.

            He had one thing on his mind wherever he went—seducing the stars with his stir. Man, those straws were a hit as he headed supersonic toward the Galaxy of Bliss.

            I hopped off the soundtrack, just for a moment. I didn’t want to, but I remembered the reason I came. There wasn’t much time because he was all business. Strict as hell. If you didn’t pick up your score and leave your bread on the table before he finished his stir the Drummer would dismount his throne buried deep in his ass and grab you by your golden arm and throw you out of his Sistine Shrapnel and you’d choke on the defiled city toking the filthy cigarette butt of someone’s blue afterlove tossed into the gutter years ago by some subterranean suicidal window jumper. And if that happened you were done, man. You could never come back.

            He glowed in full control of the sound and the fury. The Grand Vizier of the Exterminata, here in his Holy of Holies built circa 19Forevermore, to raise the dead believers like me.

            I picked up The Professor.

            “No, man,” he said, navigating the stars. “You don’t want to spend time with yourself.”

            “I tried Madman last week. Not crazy enough.”

            “The Vestal Virgins,” said the Drummer. “A good time, man. Guaranteed.”

            His brushes returned from the heavenly oceans of Outtahere and he looked at me with flaming eyes that could turn back an army of dark angels.

            “Put your bread on the table and split.”

            “Can I shoot up, here?”

            “Man, that shit is highly frowned upon.”

            “Please. Lay some pity on me.”

            “Pity don’t come cheap, Jack.”

            “Your stir is out there, Drummer, the best there is.”

            “Yeah. The best there is. I dig your taste. Exception made—a Jackson more and this vial of pity is yours,” he said, holding out his hand.

            The twenty dollar donation supported a worthy cause. Me. He took the money and stuffed it into his gill, then pointed his fin to the launching pad at the back of the flat.

            “Hurry up,” he said.

            The Drummer returned to whatever planet he had been trying to slip his slimy phallus into.

            Shsssssssh, chickkuh- shsssssssh, chickkuh- chickkuhdeedum- chickkuhdeedum.

            I buckled my seatbelt and slapped myself three times until the snake in my arm hissed. Feeding time for vipers. Fangs pierced my skull and everything went black. I could hear all right, but I was blind.

            “Drummer. I can’t see. What the fuck did you sell me?”

            “Man, give them gals time to get here,” he said.

            The clock struck one minute past sidereal time when the Vestal Virgins came swooping over the tarmac in their heavenly chariot. The horses took a hard right and the ladies tumbled down. I smiled and asked them to remove their gowns while I hopped out of my trousers. They read from their book of curses in Latin which drew the attention of Mother Vestal who made her way to the front of the line.

            She went junkie penis hunting and squeezed until I genuflected. Then, she bent over and delivered a short but dismal sermon.

            “Sorry, Jack. Today is Saturnalia in the Roman Empire. The ladies have the day off. We were headed for a sacrifice when the Drummer called in a favor.”

            “I don’t dig, Mater.”

            “It means you can look, but no time to touch.”

             “Please, Mother Vestal. Make an exception. Release me and give with the ladies. It’s not my fault. It’s The Drummer who lost the time.”

            “The Virgins are spoken for and private parts are nonrefundable.”

            “What’s to become of my coins?”

            “Listen, Jack. What do you hear?”


            “Right. The Drummer beat it. Swam away with your bread.”

            “He wouldn’t do that. I’m one of the guaranteed faithful.”

            She picked up a cigarette butt from the gutter and lit it with her breath.

            “Here. The Drummer wanted you to have this. It’s a parting gift, Jack. He split for a gig on the West Coast of the Milky Way and he won’t be back.”

            I choked on the blue afterlove and squirmed like a fish out of water as she squeezed harder—and I was gone, man. Gone.


Stephen Myer is a writer, musician, and educator based in Southern California. His stories have been published in online and print literary magazines.


  1. Stephen Myer’s verbal alacrity makes him an enjoyable read whether the subject is historical fiction, gothic intrigue, or fantasy. I look forward to more of his contributions.

  2. Wildly original and very funny. The author knows his music and also the slime of the ocean, the world, and the universe. These types are universal, and Myer gets them down to the last detai..

  3. A very talented writer with a vocabulary that blows smoke rings around our heads. Love this! Give us more!!

  4. I can’t get enough of Mr. Myer’s prose. I am always intrigued by his storylines and his unique voice. I want to keep reading more!

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