Most of you who know me know that I’ve been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. It’s not that I hate tech, it’s fine for other people. Me? I’m usually satisfied with what I have. The computer I write this on is about twelve years old. I just recently got internet in my home a couple of years ago. I first got a cell phone maybe five years ago.
My internet presence started because of my late magazine, TABARD INN: TALES OF QUESTIONABLE TASTE. Getting the name out there was just too expensive without the aid of social media. I couldn’t get anyone to pay attention to me except writers who wanted me to publish them. A bunch of friends harassed me, trying to get me to join MySpace. I relented, but only because I wanted to use it as a tool for marketing TABARD INN. I got on board just in time for MySpace to become irrelevant. I joined Facebook for much the same reason. I joined Twitter after the death of TI, mostly to keep my own name out there. My blog and website are all testament to TI’s past.
Of course, social media is fun as all fuck. That helps.
But my internet presence isn’t the only thing that survives my ill-fated publication. Back in the day, TI’s biggest audience was composed of prisoners and mental patients. That sounds like a joke, but it isn’t. I received more correspondence from these groups than from anyone else. It was enough so that I started getting nervous about having TI’s address be my actual house. There was one guy who decided that I was his agent, and he wanted me to pay Google on his behalf so that every time someone searched for “science fiction,” his name would come up.
The rest of the world has gotten the message: TI has closed its doors to submissions, for now and ever. However, since the prisoners and mental patients are locked away, word has yet to reach them. They continue to send me submissions, or they ask for my guidelines. Every time I get a letter from the department of corrections from anywhere in
America, I know that TI has received
yet another submission.
But all of that changed when I received a letter from the Arizona Department of Corrections. I’m not going to name this guy because I’m afraid someone out there might read this and take him up on his offer. I doubt I could get sued over this, since his crimes are a matter of public record, and I have the letter he wrote and signed to me, but I just don’t want to take the chance that someone might mistake my purpose in writing this.
This guy, shockingly enough, did NOT want to submit a story to my defunct magazine. No, he wanted stories FROM me, in addition to any TI writer who wanted to take him up. It would seem that he’s got a ton of money. He wants people to send him stories, and in return, he’ll select three he likes best and pay the writers for them. First and second place gets a thousand, and third place gets $500. He promises that these stories will never be used for publication, that they’re only for his “own personal reading pleasure.”
They can’t be any ol’ stories, though. Oh no. He has themes he wants writers to follow, and anything not fitting either theme “won’t be considered in any way shape or form.” What are these two themes, you might ask?
“The next two months are to be strickly erotic mind controled stories with Mother or Wife is Submissive and Son, husband, stranger male is dom or white couples where husband has a Black boss who Blackmails white wife into submissive sex. [Too many “sic’s” to note here.]”
That’s, uh, pretty creepy. In fact, that might be the creepiest thing anyone has ever sent to me. It’s harmless on the surface, but when one considers the prisoner’s motives, things get a bit more intense. I have no doubt whatsoever that this dude intends to jerk off while reading these stories, since he starts out his letter by telling me he can’t get nudie pictures behind bars.
Every time I get a letter from a prisoner, I research them. They’ve all turned out to be murderers. Not serial killers, but one-and-done killers.
This time, I jumped the gun and told fellow Napalm Assaulter Cliff Breaux about this crazy letter I’d received before looking up my letter writer. He immediately researched this guy and found a lot of disturbing things about him. He was charged with nine counts of sexual assault, two counts of sexual abuse (I’m not sure how that differs from assault, though), one count of burglary in the 2nd degree, one count of armed robbery and, last but not least, one count of kidnapping. Holy. Fucking. Shit. Apparently, all of this took place over the course of two years. He was once released, and within five days, he’d been arrested again for raping someone. Guilty of everything. 100 years from today’s date, if he lives long enough, he’ll still be in prison, and he’ll still be looking at 11 more years behind bars.
Cliff asked me if I would write those stories for that kind of money. No, I wouldn’t. Those stories don’t appeal to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been paid for writing porn, but I can’t let someone else dictate what I want to write. But say we take away the specific subject matter and just say porn. Say we take away the rap sheet. Would I write for someone in prison for pretty fucking good money for a story? Because let’s face it, writers get paid shit. A thousand bucks for a story? That’s mighty enticing for a guy who usually gets paid between $25-50 for a short story.
That question’s a bit harder. Ultimately, I don’t think I would. My conscience would trouble me too much. Sure, I’d be the one financially benefiting from such an arrangement, but I don’t think I could bring myself to bring such sexual satisfaction to a guy in prison. I’ve done a lot of awful things for money, but I don’t think I could ever forgive myself for being such a whore. Besides, who knows what kind of fantasies I’d be fueling?
Well, in this guy’s case, I know. He says he’s got a bunch of friends already writing stories for him, and it disgusts me to think about the kind of person who would do this. But he’s aware of how fucked he is, since he ends his missive in this self-righteous way: “If your not interested thats fine to, theres lots of places like yours who will understand my money is as green as the next persons. [Again, too many “sic’s” to mention.]
I always prided myself on the fact that TABARD INN was an oasis for extreme writers, unafraid of tackling any subject, no matter how gruesome or questionable, but I found my limit when this guy wrote to me.