As given to Bruce Bauman by Zed Cone*
Last night around 2 AM I was working on a new music review—OK, I was really reading the sports pages when this popped up on my screen:
“Please do not touch your mouse or keyboard. If you do there will be dire consequences. We happen to know you are quite familiar with both the book A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess and the subsequent film directed by Stanley Kubrick. What perhaps you don’t know is the origin of the title. Mr. Burgess wrote that he was inspired by a “Cockney phrase meaning “a queerness or madness so extreme as to subvert nature, since could any notion be more bizarre than that of a clockwork orange?” What you are about to see is perhaps bizarre, but we can assure you it is real and not fake. These people are who you think they are. It was filmed in and around the Mar–a -Ozero dacha. This sequel was written and directed by Bart Bright. At the time the “actors” did not know they were being filmed. They were just having ‘some fun.’”
I thought I was having some acid flashback from an old Outer Limits episode. But no.
“The screen will now go dark for thirty seconds. Do not move.”
Suddenly Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” vibrated through the speakers on my desk and it began to shake as if hit by an earthquake. One speaker fell to the floor. I dared not pick it up.
Whoever had taken control of my computer knew much more about me than almost any of my present friends or acquaintances. Twenty years ago I had written a grad school paper on Burgess’ dystopian novel and the differences in the American and English versions. In both versions a gang of “ultra-violent” droogs—hooligans led by Alex, witty aficionado of the “Lovely Ludwig van’s” music—beat, rape and rob with a joyful abandon and without a scintilla of remorse. These juvenile psychopaths and sociopaths, rampage through a futuristic London, speaking an Anglo-Russian slang called nadsat. The droogs hang out in the Korova Milk Bar which serves mixes of milk and synthemesc, among other assorted stimulants. In the American version of the book, as in the film, Alex and the droogs remain violent and uncontrollable. In the English version, in the last chapter they are cured, mature, and give up their violent ways.
My computer’s captors also were aware that, as someone who often writes about low budget films and indie music as well as politics, I’d followed the career of Bart Bright, screenwriter and director of the lowest and most awful possible budget horror/scream films. His work was much closer to Ed Wood than Roger Corman. A voiceover began as three men were standing side-by-side in the milk bar. The bar was shaped like a woman’s body—just like in the original. The narrator began to speak:
You may have once known me as Alex, ‘Alex the Large’ who had a fondness for cute kisas, yes, I am still large and the young beauties are still a magnet for me, but please, as the Warhol—who I knew very well, great friend of mine—of wheelie-dealies, I’m now known as DT. Me and my guys, as kids we were the droogs, now we’re known as the RatzPutins. I’m the mozg, the brain of this operation.
The voice was unmistakable with its gruff, guttural Queens’ cadences and threatening or sarcastic tones. Then appeared the orange-hued face with bloated jowls and the glazed frosting hairdo that looks like it was squirted out at the Dunkin Doughnuts unbeauty salon, winking smugly from the screen—and I felt as if he could really, I mean really see me.
And anyone who gets in our way… There are always consequences. Terrible consequences.
DT moved his perky and tiny, not quite feminine but not quite masculine fingers above his head. He moved his hands and arms like an ungraceful, drunk android. His head though, bobbed up and down, shook and nodded animatedly.
In the second grade I actually gave a teacher a black eye. Nothing’s changed about me. Others maybe. I had to get rid of the droogs because if they got any kinder and gentler as they aged, soon we would have ceased to exist. So, now, you piss me off you’d be happy with just a black eye. I don’t do much fisting anymore, though I have no fear of putting a bullet in some Koranskum’s Balzac in the middle of Fifth Avenue. I prefer ultra wheelie-dealies because more is never enough and taking all of your, or anyone’s goldibricks gives me the yugest pan-handle you’ve ever seen.
He held his hands a foot apart and cackled as his puffy body slowly turned around. I heard his pants unzip. The camera zoomed down at the men, now joined by DT, who were obviously relieving themselves on two naked woman wearing only headbands that said “Miss Angola” and “Miss Guatemala.” They begin to sing. Badly.
“Peeonu, peeonu, peonu/In Rooshian it means I love y-ooo
If I had my way/I’d pee on y-ooo all day…so I’m singing… and peeing… in the rain.”
Then the voiceover continued:
The guys and me like a little extreme wetting on a coupla hot kisas to get us energized for night of cracking the gulliver’s and walletski’s of a few romneys and little marcos wide open.
“Dim, bring in the trampolinska for me!”
The face again stared out from the screen while drinking a glass of Moloko plus—milk and synthmesc. He gulped about half the glass and then poured in a packet of powder labeled “erecto extender.”
Ah, your humble narrator admits he felt good after relieving his kiwee of nonessential fluid.
I happened to know from my literary travels that khui is a very rude Russian slang word for “dick”.
Now, let me introduce you to my fellow RatzPutins before we begin a night of abu pussy ghraibing a coupla perestroiken-street corner sookas and maybe a little fisting and a lot of hoisting the goldicards of some really bad dudes and romneys. There’s Dim the Flyin’Flynn, ‘cause he flies around makin’ deals for me, but he’s kinda low on the smarts scale. He keeps me one step removed from my enemies, especially the perestroikens.
DT kept addressing his audience.
There’s Snarky Stevie-boy Teuton, I love his crushed raspberry shaped face dotted with tar spit and a Hitler-youth haircut. Still, I know I gotta keep my glazzies on him. He’s palsywalsy with Vlad-the-Inhaler, head of a rival gang, the Cagey Bees, and they’re very good at disappearing the bad hombres from Tacoville and the Koranskum from Bangastan, who want to steal our goldibricks and shimmy-shake our hot little devotchkas.
Then there’s Rinse-the-Prince of ‘let’s not really make a deal,’ who loves the in-and-out and he says he’d rather yappy-yappy than slappy-slappy, but he’s a helluva fister. Rinse hates soiling that mane of silvery luscious glory coiffed atop his oversized gulliver.
DimFlynn brought a naked blond woman into the bar. DT put on a pair of white gloves.
“You showered and checked her out?”
The Flyin’ Flynn nodded. “Disease free daughter of former prez of the perestroikens for you DT.”
“I’m a germaphobe. Not into anal. Or anal-yzing anything either. Cause I’m smart. Sorry, all you losers and haters, but DT’s I.Q is one of the highest ever recorded. I’m a doer. Nothing can stop me from moving on a young beauty like a bitch. They are all mine. Resistance is futile.”
DT turned away from the camera so we couldn’t see his peewee kiwee… And what came next… Well, listen.
“Rinse, hit the video.”
The kisa —she’s only a seven on my dickter scale so I need some extra stim—starts giving me a tongue and lube but nothing gets me hotter than watching my kid, such a piece of ass, get the in-and-out from that yahoodie’s pan-handle. If she wasn’t my kid I’d be dating her instead of…
DT came. The girl lay on the floor. Crying. I was nauseous. A middle-aged woman, who looked like a skeleton you’d see at a cheap traveling circus funhouse, strutted into the milk bar with some downtrodden looking schmuck by her side. She wore calf-high boots and had a head of stringy blonde hair, dried lava for make-up and angry eyeballs that seemed to pop in and out of her skull like a Slinky toy.
Katcon is our chief female RatzPutin—we’ve matured. Not an all-boys club anymore. See, this guy with Katcon, once was a great guy. We did yuge things together. Made each other piles of goldibricks. Then he tried to swindle me. Sad. Went to the gazettas and spread lies about me. Said I was the prestoopnik. Calling me a criminal? Bad Move. Very bad. I went on the electronic gazetta, talked to one of those bleach blond newsies, nice pair of groodies on her, I gotta give her that, probably they’re fake as her news, she tried to best me, but I beat her down ‘til there was blood coming out of her eyes. No woman can best me.
The slippery old tran jump’d at me and the Flyin’ Flynn sat him down and opened his mouth wide and yanked out his false zoobies, upper and lower and tossed them on the floor. Stevie-boy let him have one in the Balzac with his ringy fist and he collapsed to the floor trying to grab his zoobies. I nodded and Katcon treated his zoobies to the old boot crush. “Now,” I say to him, “so you toothless ultra-loser with nothing, nyetski a Swedish meatball, because I transferred 170 mil goldibricks to my banky wanky and you’re going to sign all the DT golden towers of power in name only in afraid-to-fist Scandalnavia over so me and ONLY me owns them 100%.
The poor guy signed the papers, stood up and was staggering around the bar trying to get out. I closed my eyes and covered my ears. Still, over his pleas, I heard DT yell “Boo hoo. Rinse, you piece of eunuch jelly—take every last cent, every piece of plastic. He is a less than a loser. Toss him out on the streets like the crooked bum he is.” Suddenly, the screen went silent. I waited to hear some warning from my hackers. Instead it just flashed.
Two hours later. DT and Stevie-boy are no longer in the Mar-a–Ozero, but standing in a sparse room with no windows, just one wall with a silver screen and a frightening looking torture chair, with scores of wires and body straps attached to it.
DT started addressing me, the audience, again:
Stevie-boy said Vlad-the-Inhaler—we call him that because of the handkerchief he carries around is soaked in ether, which makes him a little unreliable—wants a sit down. I like Vlad since he called me the best damn RatzPutin there ever was. I always thought Vlad and I could do great, amazing business together if we combined forces. Because, in your humble narrator’s opinion, the point is, you can never be too greedy.
A man wearing a cape entered the room. His back to the camera, I could only see him point to the chair. DT seemed reluctant so he stood in front of it. The room went dark and on the screen began to play what I’d just seen on my screen minutes before. I heard a terrified, cowering, primitive sounding scream that certainly came from DT. My computer froze and then automatically shut down. I tried for an hour to turn it back on—but nothing. Finally, I went to sleep and when I turned it on this morning it worked. No funny business. I typed up the above. Then I got this message:
Very good work, Zed. Send it to your editor. See you soon.
Editor’s note. Zed did not send it to us. He sent it to Bruce Bauman and David Breithaupt, who are close friends of Cone’s. Bauman sent this to us which, according to the time stamp, he received in an email last Tuesday at 10.17 AM. He both texted and called Cone and got no response. Bauman had a key to Cone’s apartment. Cone and his computer were both gone. Despite everyone’s best efforts, no one has seen or heard from Zed in almost two weeks.
*Zed Cone was a music critic who came to prominence with his review of The Insatiables rock band in the early 1990s, before becoming a political/cultural critic.
Bruce Bauman is the author of the novels Broken Sleep and And The Word Was. He was the Senior Editor of Black Clock literary magazine from its inception in 2004 until its closing in 2016. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bookforum, BOMB, Slice, LitHub and numerous literary magazines and anthologies.