"I have decided to be happy; it is excellent for one's health!"—Voltaire

In Bed with the Girls, a Toby Moment

“I hate a chore.”—Lord Byron
When I’m in bed with Zozo, I’m nervous. Zozo is the French mistress of Boston billionaire Hazelton Turnbull “Hard Turd” Harding IV, a man whose displeasure it is dangerous to incur, and the father-in-law of Marcie Harding, who is, how shall I put it, my support in life. Discovery by either would mean ruin, but Haze would have me killed.
Zozo, however, tiptoes into my chamber and slips in next to me nude before I can gather my thoughts.
“I can do whateverything you like to me,” she says.
“I’d like you to piss off.”
Zozo wants you commit acts upon her by which she will then affect to be shocked. She wants you to hurt her so she can say “T’aime ca, uh?” She is exquisitely passive, and inserts her submissiveness under one such that one is drawn against one’s will into exploiting it.
Why do I do these things? All I really want is to sleep.
“Did you enjoy that?” I say, when I roll off.
“Extremely much. Now that Haze is gone I can come to you every after-day!”
English is an adventure for Zozo.
“He won’t like that.”
“I can just fuck him off.”
“He’ll turn me over to his bodyguards.”
“That would be much more worse,” she agrees.
I give her a little shove onto the floor. “Bye.”
When I’m in bed with Darleen I feel used. Darleen is Toad’s teenage wife, though in sophistication she’s more like age seventy-five. The young are like that, don’t you find? 
Toad looks like something, if it were growing on your skin, you’d spray it with liquid oxygen. But despite his short bumpy greenishness he was an eminent ladies’ man, and could succeed where handsome, elegant, accomplished men—like, for example, oneself—would not have thought of trying. 
It wasn’t just that he’s rich. I mean, who would dare to look like that unless he was rich? It was something he secreted, some enzyme that disarmed the prey. Darleen was the only woman ever to show immunity, and he therefore became her prisoner.
She is so disappointed that Toad didn’t turn into a prince when she kissed him that her every act is one of revenge, most especially her ravishments of myself.
Everything he does offends her. She was stung by a jellyfish and he, thinking ammonia was the thing, outed hose and peed on her—which not all women like. For Zozo it would have been fine. Just now, engaged in the act with Darleen, he had taken a selfie, and she had stomped indignantly from the marriage bed.
“Without even be ablin’ to warn me!” she said. For Darleen, too, English is an adventure. “Where’s that dumb-bum gonna put that picture?”
Indeed, Toad is of a vulgarity as pronounced as my own and we are, for perhaps that reason, friends, so to speak. 
When she protests these outrages by stealing into my quarters for succor, I believe is the word, I can muster no meaningful objection. A little change is nice. 
“Toby,” she says, relaxing in my arms after the first round, “why don’t we go away together?”
I shake my head firmly. “I want my mommy.”
“I can take care o’ ya! You’d be surprised!”
“I don’t want to be surprised. I want my mommy.”
When I’m in bed with Marcie I swim in the sea of mommy, her soft blonde flesh and reassuring aromas, her strawberry secret essence, madonna with her child.
“Toby,” she says, “do you love me?”
“Of course I do!” And who’s to say I don’t mean it? I like women of a certain, what, maturity. Someone to wrap yourself up and go to sleep in.
She’s no Einstein, but then one isn’t an Einstein oneself. IQ-wise, we match! She is beautiful; I am irresistible. I have no money; she has lots.
“Give me a huggymuggs,” I say.
She is under the covers doing me an oral favor when Toad bursts in and yanks them back so hard she nearly bites me. 
“Where’s Darleen?” he says.
“Toad, you almost cost me my manhood.”
“Was she here?”
We look up at him, double-exposed.
“Toad, this is embarrassing.”
“I’m sorry,” he tells Marcie, and replaces the sheet with what tact he can manage, veiling her insulted modesty.
I peer under it to indicate that she may resume. 
“Goodbye, Toad.”
And he sulks out.
She gets my engine restarted and I am just finding myself when Haze throws the door open and rips the sheet off. We watch it float to the floor.
“Haze,” I say, “there are times when I’m available to talk. This might not be one of them.”
But he stands there, hands on hips, unapologetic. 
“Haze!” says Marcie. “Do you mind?
“Where’s Zozo?”
I attempt solicitude, but my eyes betray mirth. “Can’t you find her?”
“Did you look under the bed?”
“I give you money to feed this leech!”
“So?” says Marcie. “I don’t even give a care!”
“He does nothing but lollygag!”
“All part of the service.”
He smiles like he’s brushing his teeth, picks something out of his nose and puts it in the ashtray. We look at it.
“Check the closets,” I say. “We can wait.”
“May I say something to you that I truly mean?”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
“Eat your nose!” says Marcie. “You big phony-baloney!”
He goes out and slams the door.
I nod at her that she may continue and, as she nuzzles me back into a sense of my value, Zozo eases herself from under the bed, gives me a lingering wistful glance, and slips out.

Here on the blog:
Toby books:

"Lunch kills half of Paris, supper the other half."—Charles de Montesquieu

Shakespeare on death:

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

OUT OF INDIA, An Action Adventure

Reg’d © Library of Congress
A jail bird, an Indian holy man and a woman from the WHO team up to spirit a herbal cure for hemorrhoids out of India.  Think of:

Proposed cast: David Wenham (Mitch)
MITCH, a Westerner in India, is doing time in a Calcutta prison for smuggling (let’s not ask what), when a Bagwan, also in for smuggling, is thrown into the crowded cell with him.

The Bagwan's villagers have shown him a herbal cure for hemorrhoids—works instantly!— handed down secretly for millennia; not even the local Muslims know.  And he can spring Mitch if Mitch can get it out of the country.

Proposed cast: Sir Ben Kingsley (the Bagwan)
Despite lucrative foreign contracts with pharmaceutical companies in Ohio, the BAGWAN can't get it out past the red tape.  It makes up as a suspicious-looking white powder and he can’t afford to baksheesh all those officials. 

The two go into business. Mitch takes a steel suitcase of the stuff out of the southern hills to Bombay, where an associate, a fisherman, will sail it past the customs cruisers to a waiting freighter.

But here's another steel suitcase being tied to the roof of a bus by an Afghan horseman. 

So heavy is it (so stuffed with opium) and so cumbersome that he puts a curse on it, and we follow that suitcase south into India on buses and trains, from runner to runner, watching the curse work its evil on each of them until, on the train into Bombay, it gets mixed up with Mitch’s.

Proposed cast: Rebecca Hall (Jill)
As this is happening he meets Americans JILL and Harold from the World Health Organization, doing a report on Indian women. A starving kid grabs her traveler's checks, Mitch reluctantly intercepts them and lets the kid go, and their prickly relationship begins.

Proposed cast: Catherine Tate (Franny)

Also on the train is lascivious FRANNY, a small-time smuggler (it's a widely-practiced trade there), who guesses that Mitch too is a runner, and flirts with him shamelessly—

Proposed cast: Dev Patel (Shubash)

—although she has something going with shy and proper SHUBASH, an untouchable ("We'll see about that") she has brought into the first-class carriage over the objections of the conductors, and seduced.

He has sold his patrimonial acre and is on his way to Bombay (they say Bombay there, not "Mumbai") to make his fortune, though he knows he'll have to sleep on the sidewalk.

When they get to Bombay and Mitch realizes the switch, and the opium is stolen, and the drug lord won’t believe him, and his fisherman contact is murdered, and a corpse is planted in his room, he goes to Jill for help.

She thinks he’s smuggling something bad but they’re already on a non-stop-bus-car-train-boat chase that gives her a closer look at the country, fast as it goes by, than she’d bargained for—

Proposed cast: Satish Shah (Under-Assistant Sub-Inspector Pramod Gupta)

—until Mitch is arrested by Under-Assistant Sub-Inspector GUPTA, a likable fool despised by his superiors for being honest.  
Mitch persuades Gupta to have the ships in Madras port searched, and when nothing is found gives him the slip.  But Gupta stays on their trail.

Based on the novel.  Here's the first scene:


A BAGWAN (holy man), sixty, dignified, long white hair and beard, saffron robe, WALKS TOWARD US TAPPING his folded black umbrella like a cane, escorted by TWO GUARDS with heavy bamboo cudgels. 

They pause before an iron door, a guard UNLOCKS THE DOOR AND IT CREAKS as he opens it.  The Bagwan looks at the guards. 

They look at him.  He steps inside, still facing them and they SLAM IT on him, LOCK IT and WALK AWAY.


The BAGWAN turns to peer into the darkness. 

As his eyes grow used to it we see A HUNDRED MEN huddled on the floor with no room to move.

He steps among them firmly but awkwardly.

(indignant shout)
I am a Bagwan!

ONE MAN kneels up and touches the Bagwan’s shins with both hands, then his own heart; the Bagwan’s feet, his own heart.

OTHERS - sleepy, surly - ignore him.  As he steps through with more confidence, SOME make obeisance, OTHERS don’t. 

Sitting against the wall tightly squeezed among other PRISONERS, MITCH, a middle-aged Westerner, looks up, bearded, heavy-eyed, in rags: he’s been here for a while.  The Bagwan stands facing him.

BAGWAN (cont’d)
I am a Bagwan!


(manages to step forward importantly)
A Bagwan.

Good.  I’ve got a few questions.

I wish to be seated!

Why don’t you levitate?

The Bagwan would like a place against the wall!

Takes time to get to the wall.

The Bagwan BARKS ANGRILY IN HINDI at the man beside Mitch, who MOVES AWAY.  The Bagwan sits, and surveys his new estate.

You have questions?

How did I get here?

You are paying for the sins of a past life.

How did you get here?

Injustice!  For smuggling something perfectly legal!

A RAT SQUEALS.  Mitch quickly WHACKS it and lifts the dead RAT by the tail, its neck broken.

Meat for supper!  Got a match?

I do not eat flesh.

Deeper darkness.  A small fire of straw on the floor.  Mitch and THREE MEN pick at the bones of the roasted rat.

(to the Bagwan)
Got any floss?
(licks his fingers)
What were you smuggling?

Hemorrhoid medicine.
(to Mitch’s double-take)
An ancient remedy handed down in my village since before the Buddha.  Not even the local Muslims know.  Works instantly!  When I’d lived among them for a while they offered their secret up to God.

If I sit here much longer I’ll need some.

Secretaries, truck-drivers, beggars on curbs, pregnant women, homosexuals, holy men who sit for years meditating - I was a sufferer myself!  Now at last there is Bagwan Bubu’s All-Herbal Cure for Hemorrhoids!  On every corner will be my picture holding it up!  I’ll have an ashram with swimming pools and three hundred and sixty-six Rolls Royces - one for leap year!  How better to show contempt for such things? (FLINCHES at a COCKROACH crawling on him)

(plucks it off and eats it)
Not much protein in the diet. 
(back to the subject)
Why smuggle it?

I have no licence to export!  When I failed to fill the bowls of all the many officials I landed here!  It makes up as a white powder - very suspicious.  If the tests work I get two point five million dollars and thirty per cent of sales!  I have only to get it to Ohio!

You need an exporter.

(looks at him narrowly)
Not one who gets caught.

It happens.

What were you smuggling?

Mitch just winks at him.

BAGWAN (cont’d)
Where is the toilet?

They step among sleeping MEN toward two barrels.

BAGWAN (cont’d)
(sniffs each barrel, wrinkles his nose)
Which one is for drinking?

(sniffs each barrel)
I’m not sure.
(picks the most offensive and PEES in it)

(PEES in it too)
How were you caught?

They had a mind-reader at customs.  She saw my thoughts.

They FINISH, and drink with their hands from the other water.

(recoils in disgust)
We have pee-peeed in the wrong barrel!

(can only agree)
It happens.

They sit against the wall.

(whispers intimately)
Could you get a case of white powder out of India?

I’d have to get out of here first.

(smiles - that’s easy)
My villagers will raise enough to baksheesh these people.  If I arrange for your release you will be in my employ.

(shakes his head)

Not possible. You will have ten per cent.

Half.  Last price.

Twenty per cent. Last price.  Best price.

Half.  Best price.  Only price.

The Bagwan scowls.
 Reg’d © Library of Congress

Foreign Matter

Toby travels with a woman who pays. He's got it made, except that her nine-year-old daughter is smarter than he is.  Based on the novel:


“A very, very funny book"—The West Coast Review of Books 
“Enormously enjoyable”—Kirkus Reviews 
“Fresh and spirited”—Publishers Weekly

Think of:

Proposed cast: Matt Dillon
Toby Tucker gets along as a tour guide, though all he knows how to do is keep the clients amused.  In Venice he falls for rich bubble-head Marcie but can't afford her style.  "To-bee!  Let's just live on my money!"  Well—it’s awkward but what can one say?  He reclines into the good life.

Proposed cast: Leslie Mann
Marcie Harding, sweet, fresh, blonder than blonde and all heart, is a lonely widow who takes a tour in Venice.    Toby abandons the tour to take her to Rome, and when he runs out of cash is about to abandon her.  He loves her more than he knows.

Proposed cast: Amber Liddicoat
But for Andrea, things would be perfect.  "The child."  Toby and Marcie are no smarter than anybody else; the child is smarter than anybody else.  She'd have got rid of him long ago but her mommy loves him, so she keeps him around to, how shall I say, play with.  When you’re not looking she rotates her head like Linda Blair.

Proposed cast: John Goodman
Marcie’s father-in-law, billionaire Hazelton Turnbull “Hard Turd” Harding IV, loathes Toby, and loathes giving Marcie her allowance to feed him.  But he loves his little granddaughter, and there lies the control.
When Haze spends Marcie’s money on a painting for the Harding Memorial Museum it looks like Toby's meal ticket is gone.

Proposed cast Pamela Shaw:
Johna Nerg is the butch-nightmare artist whose painting Toby accidentally steps in, sits in and sets on fire.  He really doesn't mean it but she thinks, as who does not, that he's trying to destroy it—and gets real mean with him.
He has no choice, finally, but to try to steal it.  But until the child takes a hand, nothing works.
Light, charming, sophisticated, and the first of a series, each set in a new pleasure zone.  Total Moisture, one of the sequels, is set in the south of France: 

Foreign Matter is set in Venice and on a Greek island, and is available at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Smashwords, and the usual places: Apple, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, Diesel—the whole street.

Pretentious Pictures presents a summer comedy.