A Complete Waste of Time

Or, Truth in Advertising

As the sunlit sanity of the waking world burns the night to ash,
embrace the unbound madness of your wildest dreams,
laugh into the endless abyss of your darkest fantasies,
and rage against the coming dawn.

PulpBusters is a presentation of bone-chilling buffoonery, nerve-wracking silliness, and twisted nitwittery by “Amoral Crackpot” Steve Arviso.


I accidentally left the gas on this morning as you slept. If you've received this letter in time, please be sure to turn it off. If not, then I've wasted not only paper and ink, but postage. Please, be more considerate next time.

My bad,

Old faces haunt me as I sleep, and I'm left to wonder what I've done to stir these ghosts.


As the mighty ape seized Dr. Phinneas Scrotes, of the Moronikan University of Half-Wits, and ripped him in half... well, two halves, really... he soon discovered it wasn't being ripped into two poorly proportioned halves that killed him, but rather his insides becoming outsides.


Good evening. Tonight's piece, "Calvin Carson's Cavalcade of Cars, Cards, and Cardigans," has fortunately been misplaced on account of gratuitous sex, violence, and pedantry. In its place, we dispassionately offer a mostly flaccid, partly turgid bit of tale titled, "That Wasn't Even Sexy," already unpackaged, reheated, and ready for you to do with as you please.

(NOTE: the safeword is, "mukluks.")

And now, the bit:

A phone rang, and someone accidentally answered when they actually meant to ignore the call. "Hello."





"Oh, good. You're not a complete idiot."

"Surprises await us both, I suppose."

"Truer words have been spoken. May I speak with Throbbing Fistwood, please?"



"Did I say, 'No?'"


"Oh. Because I meant to say, "'Yes.'"

"So, I may speak with Throbbing Fistwood, then?"


"I'm sorry. I must have bludgeoned myself to death on my faux hardwood floor, because I appear to be in Hell."

"Would you like to call back another time?"

"May I speak with Throbbing Fistwood then?"


"Then, for God's sake, why would I call back later?"

"I was wondering that myself."

"I swear, this is the number the young lady gave me when I inquired with her about Throbbing Fistwood. Are you sure this isn't Throbbing Fistwood?"

"Fairly certain."

"I'm sorry if I've wasted your time."

"It doesn't have to be a total waste, does it?"

"How so?"

"I mean, you'll have to give me a moment, but I may be able to help."

"You can help locate Throbbing Fistwood?"

"Well. At my age, you never can be too sure without a bit of 'assistance,' if you will."

"No. No, thank you. I'm afraid I'm a bit tight on time at the moment. Perhaps I'll try calling back later."


"Who should I ask for?"

"Dick Squat-thrust."

"Got it, Dick. May I call you 'Dick?'"

"I do certainly hope so."

"Thank you."



The phone went click, and never rang again.


It's been nearly fifteen years since you left. Last month, I investigated the refrigerator myself. There was milk to spare. I'm starting to suspect you didn't go to the store.

Repressfully yours,


Mr. Cockenbells, a sweaty, nervous wreck of a man, paced about a hospital waiting room, and Dr. Nibblepleaser watched from the door.

"Mr. Cockenbells?" the suspiciously named doctor asked.

"Yes?" replied the equally suspiciously named man. "Is it about my wife?"

"No. I'm afraid it's about your wife."

Mr. Cockenbells struck the doctor in such a way that, more or less, resembled a slap. "Out with it, man!"

"We've lost her, Mr. Cockenbells."

"You mean..."


"My Brennifer?"

"That's right."

"She's really..."

"Mr. Cockenbells, are you slow or just stupid?"

Mr. Cockenbells considered this, and then continued on as if he hadn't. "How is this possible? I did everything exactly like they told me!"

"Mr. Cockenbells - may I call you "Mister?"

"I'd rather you not."

"Too late," Dr. Nibblepleaser dismissed. "Mister, I know that I'm only a well-educated, and even more well-endowed doctor of medicine. But in my least humble opinion, sometimes these things just happen."

"Just happen?" Mister spat back at the doctor. "These things don't just happen!"

"Please stop hitting me."

Mister stormed about the room, pulling out his phone and waving it about like an absolute ass. "I posted her photo all over social media! I got eleven-and-a-half thoughts and prayers!


Mister shrugged. "Brennifer's ex-wife was still on the fence, last I checked. I thought it better to round up."

"Oh, that's too bad."

"No, no," Mister said. "Brennifer could be a bit of a--"

Just then, the doctor's pager buzzed a little buzz.

"What the Hell was that?" Mister asked.

"Good news, Mister," Dr. Nibblepleaser said, reading the teeny, tiny screen on his teeny, tiny relic of the past.

"Good news? What could possibly be good news at a time like this?"

"It seems we just found your wife."

"What do you mean?"

"Turns out she was in the cafeteria this entire time."

"I thought you said she was dead?"

Dr. Nibblepleaser looked at Mister as if Mister were the stupidest, stupidest, good Lord, how stupid can you possibly be man he'd ever met, and, in fact, even considered letting Mister know just as much, but then didn't. "I never said that."

"You said she was gone!"

Dr. Nibblepleaser struck the doctor in such a way that most certainly resembled a slap.

"I'm sorry," Mr. Apologized. "You're right. I suppose I am being a little over-emotional."

"We all make mistakes, Mr. Cockenballs."

"I'm just happy to know Brennifer is alive and well."

Dr. Nibbepleaser looked at Mister once more. "You "stupid, stupid, good Lord, how stupid can you possible be" man I've ever met. I never said she was alive."


"No," he chuckled. "It appears she choked to death on a chicken salad sandwich."

"You can't be serious."

"Deadly, I'm afraid," Dr. Nibblepleaser replied, failing to stifle his snickering and chortling. "It's a little known fact that the chicken salad sandwich is the third-deadliest sandwich on the planet, just ahead of peanut butter, and right behind knuckle."

"Is that true?"

"In a sense."

"In what sense is that possibly true?"

"It's true in the sense that I made it up."

"What kind of hospital is this?" Mr. Cockenbells winged.

"Not a very good one, obviously," Dr. Nibblepleaser said, this time very serious-faced and such. "But it's hardly our fault you two were born too poor to afford proper insurance, now is it?"

Mr. Cockenbells hung his head and nodded. "No, I suppose not."

"Good," the doctor stomped, and turned to leave. "And if you could please pick up your wife's corpse before we have her towed, that would be wonderful.

Dear Son and/or Daughter,

Our bad.

Your Parents


A man clipped his nails from atop his toilet, pants around one ankle, and a woman called from somewhere beyond the door. "Sweetie?"

"Yes?" the man replied.

"You're not a secret agent, are you?"

"Not to my knowledge, Dear."

"But if you were, you'd tell me, right?"

"Of course, Dear. Why do you ask?"

"Well," she said, walking in with a large case filled with an assortment of tactical gear, weapons, ammunition, blueprints for a "RAY" of one sort or another, and multiple forms of identification for multiple identities. "I was looking for a marriage license in the garage, but all I found was this old junk."

He looked at this, then to her. "Must be Bill's."

She also looked at this, but then to him. Though she could have also looked at her, if she wanted. The bathroom's vanity was right there and everything. But she didn't, because this isn't that sort of thing. "These are Bill's?"

He considered this. "Fairly certain."

"These are Bill's guns, turtlenecks, night vision goggles, and fake passports?"

"The night vision goggles might be mine."

She pouted. "Are you sure you're not a secret agent?"

He laughed. "I think I'd remember signing up for something like that."

She picked up a passport from a small box of passports clearly marked, POTENTIAL FUTURE IDENTITIES. "Is this my identity? Were you planning on stealing my identity?"

"Honey," he sighed. "I'm disappointed in you."

"What?" she what'd in that way when someone is rather confused.

"You went and spoiled your birthday present!"

"My birthday present?"


"Why would I want you to steal my identity for my birthday?"

"Remember how you've been going on and on about how you wish you could just disappear, just runaway and never look back and nobody would ever even know you were going?"


"Well," he said, buying himself a brief moment to think of something to say next. "It was supposed to be a surprise."

She nodded. "I suppose that makes sense."

"Thank you."

"Are you sure you're not a secret agent?"

"Pretty sure."

"Well, okay."

She gathered up all the secret agent-like gear back into its box, and left. "I suppose I'll call Bill and ask him to pick up his things."

He returned to clipping his nails, then thought to add, "Don't let him take my night vision goggles!"

"What night vision goggles?" someone else replied from beyond the door.


A completely different woman stepped into the bathroom, saw him on the toilet, and averted her eyes with an audible hiss. "Why?!"


"Why that," she growled, pointing to the man atop the toilet with his pants wrapped around the ankle attached to the foot attached to the toe from which grew the nail he was currently stretching to clip.

"I'm clipping my nails," he said, mid-clip. "Why are you acting so weird? You were just in here."

"What?" she what'd in that way one whats when they're really, really confused. "No, I just got home. I've been at my sister's all week."

He looked at her, then to the door. "Son of a bitch."

Poetry, that whore
All breathy pauses, caked in mixed metaphors
A drunken, discarded book sobbing onto the page
Easily mistaken for something more

I wouldn't be caught near the stuff


"Good evening," the man said. "I'm Fine Howareyou, and welcome back to, 'My Way, or the Hemingway,' in which we have intimate, one-on-one discussions with woefully depressing creative types for some reason."

"Hello," the woman replied.

"Shut-up," the man hissed.


"Tonight," the man continued, only now utterly pissed, "we're in the alley behind a clinic of some sort with our guest, Anna Moose, former hotel clerk, or resident--"

"Clerk," she said. "I worked the front desk."

"I don't care," the man said. "Either way, she's now some fancy-pants poet something-or-other who wrote some bit of whatever about a bad day at work."

"You don't know who I am, do you?"

"I don't do poetry."

"You don't do poetry?" Anna Moose replied.

"Anna," the man said, not giving an assing fart about anything really. "I think the world frankly doesn't care, but my job insists that I pretend to care to know, 'Why poetry?'"

"I can't do this anymore," she replied.

"The interview or the poetry?" the man asked. "Please say it's the poetry."

"None of it's true."

"What's not true?" the man continued, as a man is inclined to do when paid to care. "Your poem? Were you not really held hostage by domestic terrorists plotting to overthrow the local housing association if they weren't given a quarter of a billion dollars, an Apache helicopter, and direction's to Lincoln's golden, precious jewel-bedazzled tomb?"

"None of it happened. Not a word."

"It's all a lie?"

Her head sagged, and her voice got all deadly serious all of a sudden like. "An utter fabrication. A linquisitical falsification of an otherwise uninspiring evening, almost as if the absence of purpose or meaning in my abusively, oppressively underpaid labor propelled my pen until its ink was spent and I, soaked in the afterbirth of my poeting, rolled over and fell asleep until someone caught me and reported it to the manager."

"But, why poetry?" the man asked.

"Oh, I thought I could get away with it. I thought I could pass-off some bit of well-worded fiction."

"But, why poetry?" the man persisted.

"Yes, yes. Alright," she huffed. "Nobody gave a shit when it was a mostly-written blog post, a half-finished novel, or a completely half-baked, quarter-assed screenplay."

"Seems like a long way to go to get somebody to read your work."

"I mean, have you read Hotel: Zero? Who the Hell could possibly swallow that five-hundred page suppository unless I passed it off as some sort of introspective stream of consciousness reflexively written mid-hostage crisis?"

"Fair point."

"I certainly didn't think it'd ever get this far. How was I supposed to know you'd all blow it up into book deals, movie contracts, pornographic satires, and such?"

"What do you mean?"

"It's not like this terrorist attack made the local news, did it? Nobody thought to do any damn research until I said anything till now. And why? Because you all had a good story to sell. Certainly sold better than this trite. You know, I have to be known for this thing either way - real, or not. You think I want that? I was supposed to be the next Victor Caramba, or Misty Weathers."


She leans forward, disgust oozing from the corner of her mouth in a fashion very similar to drool. "Don't you judge me. Don't you sit there - in your clothes - with your job and sense of purpose and direction and sense of contribution to society - and judge me."

"Oh, I don't have a job," the man corrected.

"You don't?"

"No," the man said. "No, this is just to get out of the house. Let's me feel like maybe I'm accomplishing something more with my life than a brief, devalued existence as someone's indentured servant, toiling away at some menial task or another, for an unsustainable wage and a perpetual sense of dread and anxiety that risks siphoning what little will to live I have left in me, if not for those brief, few moments where I get to host my own little show for a small audience, but much needed peace of mind and self-worth."

Anna Moose narrowed her eyes, and choked on the bile burning at the back of her throat. "People like you make me sick."




The chill of night brings with it a still darkness, brings with it an alluring promise of peace. Till the light of day warms your cold bones, may your eyes never rest, and may those little slices of death never come.

Subscribe to this newsletter to get the latest issue delivered directly to your inbox and never miss another moment of madness!

And if for whatever morbid, twisted, and utterly disgusting reason you somehow enjoy PulpBusters, please consider supporting this nasty little habit via Patreon for as little as $1 a month.

You can also purchase an ebook on Apple, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo. Or pay what you want for a copy on Smashwords.


Steve Arviso