Pain Killers (P.S. Series)by Jerry Stahl
Down-and-out ex-cop and not-quite-reformed addict Manny Rupert accepts an undercover job to find out if a California prison inmate is who he claims to be: Josef Mengele, aka the Angel of Death. Did the sadistic legend, whose Auschwitz crimes still horrify, fake his own death thirty years ago? Suddenly Manny finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy involving… See more details below
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Down-and-out ex-cop and not-quite-reformed addict Manny Rupert accepts an undercover job to find out if a California prison inmate is who he claims to be: Josef Mengele, aka the Angel of Death. Did the sadistic legend, whose Auschwitz crimes still horrify, fake his own death thirty years ago? Suddenly Manny finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy involving genocide, drugs, eugenics, human experiments, and America's secret history of collusion with the Nazis—all while careening from one extreme of apocalypse-adjacent reality to the other.
Not for the faint of heart, Jerry Stahl's Pain Killers hurtles readers into a disturbing, original, and alarmingly real world filled with some of the strangest sex, most horrific violence, and screaming wit ever found on the page.
The last place Manny Rupert wants to go is prison. But when the opportunity arises to investigate an inmate's claim to be Nazi war criminal Dr. Josef Mengele, it's too much for the ex-cop-turned-PI-last seen in 2002's Plainclothes Dead -to pass up. Masquerading as a drug counselor-despite his own addictions-Manny meets the nonagenarian who calls himself Mengele and hears firsthand of the torturous experiments the "Angel of Death" conducted at Auschwitz. Add to the mix the reappearance of Manny's ex-wife, Tina, whom he sees cavorting in the conjugal trailer with the prison's resident Jewish skinhead. It turns out that Tina not only works for an Internet Christian escort service secretly run by one of the prisoners but is also in league with the same man who hired Manny to spy on Mengele. Lines soon blur between justified revenge and outright cruelty, and it's up to Manny to keep everything straight or die trying. Stahl is no stranger to smashing social taboos, and his trademark blend of ballsy, blacker-than-black humor and wry social commentary lets him find humor in the Third Reich. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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By Jerry Stahl
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2009
All right reserved.
Sun Myung Moon looked great in a bikini.
The sight did not inspire me to schedule gender reassignment, but it was undeniably engaging. As my eyes strayed to the other eight-by-ten glossies on the bedroom dresser, I found myself wondering if the arrangement was random or if there was some coded message in the way things had been laid out.
The buxom Sun Myung, sandwiched between a muu-muu'd Pope Benedict and a severely hog-tied Clarence Thomas, floated directly over Jerry Falwell, who appeared to be reading the Bible while spanking a hefty, ball-gagged blonde with Choose Life branded across her coccyx. Of the four, Falwell was the only one who looked like he was enjoying himself. Maybe that was the message the home invader meant to convey: Party like Falwell! Or maybe, in the manner of burglars who relieve themselves on the carpet after stealing your silverware, the message was the fact that they were able to leave anything at all. The message was: Hey, asshole, look what we can do!
There was, certainly, a lesson in Justice Thomas's comportment. Despite the obvious pain and degradation, his expression was one of infinite patience. Gentle understanding. I had never been a fan, but his stoic bearing won me over. The man had nobility.
I basked inthat thought for a moment, then reality clawed me again. My home invader might still be in my home. I cried out, feeling like an idiot, "I'm a cop!" That's when I noticed a black and white photo, smaller than the others, wedged behind a dresser leg.
This one showed a smiling, gap-toothed fellow in a uniform. He might have been Jack Lemmon's cousin, if Jack Lemmon's cousin had a trim mustache and served in the SS. The twin lightning bolts on the lapels were a dead giveaway. The officer in the photo was in a laboratory, a forbidding nurse at his side. He clamped calipers in both hands, simultaneously measuring the budding breasts of naked, pubescent twin girls on his left and right. Stamped under the shot, in block letters, was Beidhändig. Below that, in a looping scrawl, someone had penned the translation: ambidextrous.
The ex-cop in me knew I should stop staring and deal with the situation—however it is you deal with strangers planting celebrity perv pics in your bedroom. But the image of that smiling SS man and his calipers was so disturbing, my eyes retreated to the puckish Moon. Why shouldn't the Korean messiah enjoy some dress-up? Think what early Christians would have done if Jesus had been resurrected with cleavage!
All speculation was shattered by a gravelly voice behind me. "They're not real!" Before I could react, something cracked the back of my head. I don't remember going down. I only remember coming to, blinking away twirling stars, in a forced crouch. Trapped in a tiny aluminum jail.
"Christ!" I cried.
"Him, I got no photos."
I blinked some more and realized I wasn't in jail. I was cramped within the four legs of a walker. A heavily jowled old man waited for me to raise my eyes, then spat an inch from my knee.
I considered punching the senior intruder in the testicles. They were, in my Guantánamo crouch, at eye level, drooping prominently behind the shiny weave of his poly-blend Sansabelt trousers.
"What kind of schmohawk gets mugged by a seventy-two-year-old with a walker?"
"Happens all the time." I yanked myself up by a walker leg so that my new friend and I were jammed face-to-face, like two guys squeezed into a telephone booth. "Just last week an old lady brained me with her orthopedic cane, and the day before that some prick with Alzheimer's kicked me down a flight of stairs, then forgot he did it and kicked me down another flight."
"Oh, a funny guy."
"That's me," I said. "May I?"
I lifted one of his hands off the grip and eased by him. The old man's breath stank of sardines and horseradish. When he picked something fleshy off his tongue and flicked it at me, I slapped him. "That's disgusting."
My attacker rubbed his face, his mouth forming a smile that looked like it was made of other people's lips. "How 'bout that, the kid's not a complete pussy."
I kicked the walker away and caught him when he fell forward. I was that tough.
"How about you shut the fuck up so I can decide whether to strangle you or not? It'd be legal—you broke in!"
This seemed to make the jowly old man even happier. "So what's stopping you?"
"I'm curious. You make a habit of hobbling around, planting bad tabloid shots in people's houses? There money in that?"
The old guy spat out another fleck and I backhanded him.
"I live here, Pops. Stop hocking on my carpet."
He spat again. This time when I tried to slap him, he caught my hand. His grip was a shock, but no more than his reflexes. He kept grinning until he let my hand drop. "Bad habit," he said.
I winced, which I knew he'd enjoy. Then I righted the fallen walker and handed it back it to him. "You still haven't told me about the pictures."
"I got a job for you."
"So that's why you Walker Texas Rangered me?"
"I wanted to get your attention. The pics are fakes. Photoshop."
"Fuck the pictures. What are you doing here?"
He shrugged. "You break into a man's home, you want to give him a show. Ha!"
The old man feinted left with a jab and cackled when I ducked. Enough strange things had happened in my life that the bar for "strange" was fairly high. But this was getting up there.
"Okay, I lied," the old man blurted. "They're not all fakes."
He tapped the gap-toothed SS man in my hand.
"This one is real. He's the only one I'm interested in."
Excerpted from Pain Killers by Jerry Stahl Copyright © 2009 by Jerry Stahl. Excerpted by permission.
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