The Contract

Life of 5D Pornstar Buck Wilder


A huge appendage – ours – splits the screen, sagging as we reach down and button it away. Crumpled on the floor a half-naked cleaning woman groans drowsily. We stand, swaying slightly, and knock over a mop and bucket before reeling out to a dimly-lit corridor.


We swerve on. The screen blurs – lines of static form across it – and as our head sags a voice – ours – speaks through clenched teeth.

    VOICE: Get out of my head!

We straighten and resume walking, towards a beaten-up portable box office, above which a torn poster announces: “Buck Wilder & Shade Stevens in E.T.A. Horner’s This is the Way (Love Was Meant to Be) Filmed in 5D”

A ripple of murmurs passes through an unseen audience. A tattered curtain enters our view. We push it aside.


    AUDIENCE MEMBER: He’s here!

Up ahead, a glowing pattern on the screen. But for now we are transfixed by the audience: so many faces held spellbound, raised to the source of light, their eyes and foreheads covered by the triple lenses of their 5D glasses. For a moment, silence. Then we face the screen. A shrill hum obliterates multiple shouts of terror. Cinema within cinema recedes down a snaking corridor to white distance, from which floods electric fire, and the screen is consumed by its own inner radiance, buckling and melting as it breaks into static and disappears...

These days no-one remembers me, or 5D for that matter, except a few specialists in so-called “Wilder Syndrome” and the burn-outs in rags and cardboard boxes by the old cinema. 5D? It burnt briefly, back in the sixties, when I was a contender. “Pornstar” they called me, but I’m living proof: no star quality necessary, unless you call a foot of salami and a hankering to get it wet star quality. I won’t lie, it was the crowbar that got me through the door, but it was E.T.A. Horner who kept me there. I first met old Horner on a forest road near nightfall a few miles from Hayride, New Province, back in the day. He caught me taking a leak as the rain came and offered me a ride for a fee he disclosed after I’d jumped in. Now Horner got the sharp end of a stick for his troubles – me being a strapping sixteen year old and him a hunchbacked lecher with one foot in the grave even then – but if it wasn’t for him throwing me out by a lone farmhouse maybe I never would have met Sandy (AKA Shade Stevens), who answered the door in lace and stockings and let me stay in the barn till the rain stopped. Cut to the big smoke five years later and I’m shacked up with Shade on the wrong side of downtown, gone to seed now the hard times have hit and sitting on the can with a copy of Bad Girls Gentleman’s Quarterly on my lap, when I come across this ad: “BANG FOR BUCKS! Horner Group, 5D Enterprises.”

    Well, “bucks” we needed, with me pushing a pen for minimum wage and Shade working a cluster of tables on the strip, but it was the “bang” that got its hooks in me. Truth is, Shade and I were less than compatible. “Petite” they called her – and me with this one-foot hammer! Sure, she’d play the flute on my tool now and then, and let me take a run at her if I begged hard enough, but when she caught the train to Hayride a few weeks later I was still carrying that torn-out ad in my pocket, taking it out to stare at it when I thought she wasn’t looking and never dreaming it could be the same Horner I’d half-blinded with a stick a few years back. But Shade knew something was up, and as we found a private corner on the platform she fell at my feet sobbing.

    “Oh Buck,” she said. (I’m using my stage-name – there’s no need to dig up the past.) “Oh Buck, what will become of us? I know this thing of yours hungers!” She put a hand on the bulge in my pants and whispered to it: “You see, I know what’s good for you! I can guess how that beastly Buck treats you, bashing you around until you’re so dazed you can’t tell your mummy from those vixens he pores over! But here, come to Mummy! Let me kiss you better!” And she pushed me into an alcove in the steam and went to work on me, till the train whistled and she jumped up, the job unfinished, and disappeared.

It’s hard to describe what the city meant to me, back when I’d never slept rough in a doorway and couldn’t tell a whore from a housewife, but the truth is it near scared the life out of me. People swooping left and right, rushing upstairs and down. Buildings towering in the smog and tunnels burrowing under them. Trains and trams and trucks roaring, the ground shaking and everything screaming like a burglar alarm no-one could turn off. But that night I floated through it in a bubble, driven by the divining-rod in my pants to the part of town that scared me more than any: the maze of red lights and neon where Horner had his dungeon. Sad to say, but it might as well have been a supermarket, selling pork bellies or clock radios. The men in loud suits crooning “action” and “party” were salesmen. Even the sight of my first streetwalker hardly riled me. If she hadn’t opened her raincoat on a chokingly-tight leather dress and two bloated legs covered with gooseflesh, I’d never have noticed that stony-faced spinster who asked me “How about it?” and called me a “deadbeat fairy” when I declined and kept walking. Lost as a lamb, I would have turned meekly back home, if the rain hadn’t started the moment I made to do so. Water pounded the oil-slicked tarmac. Signs and streetlights shimmered wildly, a mirrored city under the surface. I raced down an alley in search of shelter, and straight into the maestro, E.T.A. Horner, smoking a cigar by a basement sex shop.

    You tell yourself you’d act differently. You’d notice things, like the scar of a burn-out – a car cigarette-lighter – on his forehead. This wasn’t a man, it was a science project. His face sagged. His breath smelled of soil, half-rotten. While one eye bulged from its socket, about to melt down his face entirely, the other was so small and deep-set it was hardly there at all. Truth is, I didn’t make him, not at first sight. We were strangers. He looked me up and down from his dry doorway, shrugged and led me to darkness.

The dungeon: a dank cell where Horner’d vet his guinea pigs. A curtained fitting area, a portable box-office, a rack of what looked like hunting equipment. (These days I can spot a vibrator.)

    “Specialty store,” said Horner, and as if on cue a slim, black-haired teenager, dressed only in a leather g-string and with skin so white it glowed, stepped lightly from behind the curtain and stood a whole minute before the merchandise, hopping from foot to foot as if dancing and pressing his rump in his hands like some fruit he was testing for ripeness, before reaching on tip-toe to the second largest of the vibes and weighing it thoughtfully, whereupon a woman’s voice purred from behind the change-room curtain: “Get a move on, Henry! I can’t hold this damned strap forever!” and with a start and a shake of his head as if ashamed of his foolish cowardice he replaced the vibe and took down the largest – a heinous weapon that must have weighed as much as a tyre iron – then ran to his waiting partner and snapped shut the curtain.

    “Young punk,” said Horner, coughing into a grease-splattered handkerchief. “But what’s your beef, soldier? You smell like pork. The kid’s eighteen, and the lady, she ain’t getting paid for it. Or d’ya wanna get paid your own self? Might be I could use a man of your... dimensions.” He stared at the bulge in my trousers, and I flashed back to that forest road. His good eye narrowed. He grabbed his own bulge and rattled it, as if it was the source of his body’s ills. Meantime the room reverberated with the shrieks of the soon-to-be Henry Horner (AKA The Horndog, adopted by the big man a few months later in a child-labour dispute) and the sultry cuss-words of his unseen companion, not to mention the the growl of light machinery, which put me in mind more of butchery than buggery. At sensing my jitters Horner sighed. He stepped behind the box-office, pulled out a wad of banknotes and stood counting them. I glanced up the stairs to the alley where the rain pounded, straightened my tie and took the bait. Fresh-faced prude, some office-joke mama’s boy who thought standing straight and pronouncing my “t”s properly was all it took to be a man, I was meat for the hunter, and no monk’s habit – or monkey-suit – could hide it.

    “Forgive me old man,” I said in my best formal manner, “for trespassing on your valuable time, but the fact is I’m a man of – well how shall I put it? – voracious sexual appetite. Yes, a veritable sexual Tyrannosaurus, I might go so far as to say, in the course of one day requiring at least four, to put it bluntly, well, I suppose the word is... ejaculations –” The engine in the change-cubicle shifted gears, howling and juddering, and the kid’s cries shook the glass partition between us. I pulled the torn-out ad from my pocket. Horner glanced at it, hawked a blob into a corner and exploded.

    “You freakin’ pansy!” he roared, so loudly that even our neighbours took a breather. “You ‘tend towards voraciousness’? You have to shoot your pathetic load four times a day? Holy cow, you don’t know the meaning of voraciousness, buddy! I tell you what, Jack, you think you’re a T-Rex? Why don’t I show you a real glimpse of pre-history? This snake’s got ten times more venom than your oversized pussy magnet –” he slapped his bulge “– and I’m willing to stake a wager on it. What do you say, pretty boy? You up for a little swordfight?”

    I couldn’t have been more stunned if he’d slapped me, and I would have needed a phrase-book to crack his patois. Then Henry’s lady-friend starts cooing over the vibe: “Hang in there, honey! You’ll make it, I know you will! Chin up!” and the kid screams “Yes!” and Horner rolls his eyes. “Your choice, bub,” he says. “You can try out for the service division after Henry, unless...” He pulls back a second curtain by the box-office and I see a film-screen. “I don’t suppose you’re a movie buff, eh bright boy?” Fanning two tickets like a card-sharp he spells out the wager. “Standard contract –” he whips a sheet of paper from an inside coat-pocket and grabs his crotch “– if this pump don’t move enough custard to feed a ladies’ auxiliary and put your flaccid firehose in the dust, it’s null and void, soldier.”

    “Yes, okay, why not!” I cried. “Give me the pen! Let’s get out of here!”

    He cleared his throat. “Leave that kid be!” he shouted. “We got another one! Go check the projector’s working!” A woman in white smoothed her skirt as she strode from the change-cubicle. Horner pulled two sets of tri-coloured glasses from his pocket. “You just signed you’re own death-warrant, bub.”

In those days the cavern was tiny – six rows and a sheet for a screen – but so smoke-drenched you couldn’t see across it with a spyglass. Out in the haze, silhouettes jolted like entrants in a rodeo, seats squeaking as they pummelled themselves. To our left, the talent scout from the change-cubicle operated the 5D machine, which whirred and vibrated as she probed it with a screwdriver. We made our way along a row of seats to a chorus of “hello”s and “evening”s. Across the void the screen jolted, blurred and went blank. Punters stood and shuffled to the far end of the aisles, where a staircase fell at one end into misty darkness and at the other climbed to a bright-lit exit sign. “Not cutting out on me are you, soldier?” said Horner, patting the seat beside him as a new bunch of cronies filed past. He unsheathed his rod and weighed it reverently. If the old man’s grip on life was flimsy, his pecker’s was some iron wrestling hold. But as for my own, it sagged like a wilted cucumber, and with kid gloves I coaxed it to the open. Lever at the ready, Horner waved his free hand. The room went dark. The 5D machine spluttered. A gust of hot wind blew across me from below. And Horner cackled as a jet of liquid sprayed the seat in front of him. “Whoops,” he said. “Looks like I’m one of them premature ’jaculators, don’t it, buddy?”

    How to compete with the king? 5D, in theory, was democratic. And maybe later, when Wilder fans packed the place to the rafters, it was. But in those days it was a dictator and his subjects. You put on the glasses – bam! – and you’re in some poor sap’s head. But a roomful of deviants is in there too, and when they see which way Horner’s pushing, you’d best go along for the ride. Problem is, he’s playing you, old Horner. Maybe there’s a pretty girl and an ugly girl, and he pushes the poor sap towards the ugly one. Or maybe it’s an ugly boy, an old lady, a tub of lard. And each time I think to myself, “Hmm, she ain’t bad, I could do with some of that,” he’s got to point me at the grandma, or Fido. And my head’s swimming. Or maybe it’s the poor sap’s head that’s swimming. Or we’re swimming in it, with Horner front and centre, to the light. But I can’t keep up. I fall behind. And Horner pulls off my glasses and says, “Had enough cowboy?” He raises what looks like a toy pistol to my forehead. “Pleasure doing business with you,” I hear. He pulls the trigger.

What to say about what followed? At first I hardly remembered that night, let alone understood it, and it wasn’t until later – with the claims and the lawsuits and the outbreak of Wilder Syndrome – that I knew I’d been implanted with the Mind’s Eye transceiver, and put to work for Horner on a whole lot less than minimum wage. Meantime, as Shade and I hit the skids, I got so spooked I hate to mention it. The way I saw it, a seed was in me, but it had nothing to do with life. It was the seed of a void, and that void kept filling me, till I was just a wall between inner and outer, waiting to explode. “Demons” filled my head. I couldn’t walk past a donut stand without wanting to throw something at those holes! But Shade? I couldn’t touch her, because the demons wanted me to. Truth is, I thought I’d “defile” her. To hear her tell it, she’d have been a nun if she wasn’t my girl, and since I took myself for a saint I believed her.

    Part of Shade’s innocent act was to make a fuss over our neighbour, a slick-looking bachelor who’d bring home a new conquest every few nights, and we’d listen to his bed shaking through the thin wall as he banged them. Hell, sometimes he’d bang them against the wall, and Shade’d phone the superintendent, complaining about “that brute in 3a” again. So when one night she came home to find me on the conjugal bed laying a hand on myself while the brute did the dirty nextdoor, sparks flew. True, he’d outdone himself that night – a half-hour earlier two girl scouts had come by selling cookies and I’d fought off the demons and turned them away with a few coins, only to have him lay into them with a vengeance – so there was more than the usual ruckus from through the wall. Well, Shade took one look and ran out. I buttoned my pants and got my breath back. She was waiting, frypan at the ready.

    “Buck, you animal!” she said. “And your filthy henchman is just as bad! Look at it skulking in your trousers! Do you think I don’t see you? Take that!” She flung the heavy pan at my groin – a near miss. “You monster!” she yelled. “I’ll teach you to betray your mummy! I’ll cut you off and boil you in vinegar!” I grabbed my coat from the rack and bounded down the stairs. A carving-knife clanged behind me on the landing. Shade’s scream – “Pervert!” – echoed in the stairwell. I screamed back: “You want perverted?!

Truth is, I’d been scoping the local X-Store for weeks now, itching to take a closer look. So in the mirrored vestibule I smoothed down my hair and strolled in coolly, determined to buy the most twisted marital aid I could find – as it turned out, the inflatable Miss World doll, with all-usable double-stitched orifices and autographed portrait of Miss Mexico. On a bed in a hotel room rented by the hour I inflated her and climbed on top. And when after the third bout my rod wilted, I started in with the dirty talk and was back in the race, so all-fired crazy and unlike me was I acting that I got a thrill out of just being there, wondering who or what I’d turn into next. Fans know how it ended: the doll ripped to pieces covered with bite-marks and scattered across the floor, and me bellowing, “Is that perverted enough?

    In the sudden calm that room was the loneliest place on Earth. Down in the cavern it must have been session-change – even the demons had abandoned me! Out in the corridor guests whispered, as if they thought I might burst through the door and try to eat them. A couple in the next room took up arguing, right where they’d left off when I turned werewolf. I wiped my rod on the bedsheet, yanked on my clothes and got out of there. The receptionist laughed: “Where’s your date, mister?” I ducked my head and scurried away.

    By then it’d come to me, in flashes, like the highlights of a ballgame: the night I’d sold my services to the cinema. I’d be on the staircase to the dungeon with Horner, the stench of mould and dirt choking me. Or in the cavern, staggering through the haze to the exit-sign. I’d missed work some days, just to sniff around the red lights. I’d tossed the address long ago when I’d decided the audition had been a sham, but a pale kid who looked a lot like Henry Horndog on the cover of a stick-mag made me wonder. So I ran, sweating buckets, from underground arcade to basement club, trying every doorway against hope. Night set in. The streets emptied. The city got quiet, but for tremors from below. I slept in a doorway and woke shivering, bolted tepid burgers at a greasy spoon as the sun rose and headed for home. But the station was teeming – wall-to-wall suits, doubled in windows and fresh-mopped floors – and the glare made me crazy. Guts aching, delirious, I lurched through the crowd to the men’s room, where some would-be artist had defaced the door: “AMEN.”

The room was narrow, long, lost in condensation. Stalls stretched to infinity like a parody of textbook geometry. Grunts and roaring echoed in the tiled space like a mantra. A bald executive checked his reflection above a hand-basin – which overflowed with wads of toilet paper, hunks of hair and blood-stained syringes – and disappeared in the cloud at the far end of the stalls. Urged on at first by the pain in my gut, after a few steps I leaned on a stall-door to keep from falling. A set of false teeth shot across the tiles, as if spat from tensed jaws in agony, and a slurred voice shouted, “What do you think you’re playing at? This isn’t easy, you know!” I sank to my knees, and found four legs behind the door: two kneeling, facing two with pants around their ankles by the bowl. I banged on the door. Two men groaned. The chorus swelled in the other stalls. I bayed with the pack and lay writhing, till the door opened and four feet stepped over me. I clawed my way up, dropped my pants and slumped on the bowl.

    When I came to, the place was silent. Outside the stall: a clean basin, a new door. I splashed my face. At one edge of the mirror something shimmered. I turned away. What if there was no long row of stalls? No pack of fiends purging, no corridor of mist, just nothing: a void, a wall of black liquid, of mind-jelly, ready to be shaped at my command.

    Not looking back, I opened the door. A dim hallway. An abandoned box office. I pushed aside a curtain and stepped past to the cavern.

    The place had grown. The screen – four times as big – glowed dully, spreading its gloom across the hole. In the dim light I guessed I was alone, until a white-uniformed babe looked up from scrubbing an endless row of seats and said, “Sorry love, we’re closed.” She squeezed a slime-soaked rag into a bucket and pointed at my forehead. “They got you too, huh? Don’t worry, I hardly saw it in this light, and only cos I’ve seen it all before. You wanna discuss the terms of your contract, head office is through that curtain. Mind the step, love.”

    As I pushed aside another curtain a voice squeaked, “Holy smoke, it’s you! Least I think it is. It’s you, right?” I turned to the change-cubicle as a candle flame warmed my eye sockets. Dressed in baseball cap, chinos and roller-skates, Henry Horndog zig-zagged across the creaking boards of his torture chamber like a pendulum, dripping wax on a torn chaise longe and posing for the cracked mirror in the corner. As I crossed the threshold I kicked a vibrator, and the roar of it spooked me, till he bent down and flicked its off-switch. “You wanna lay low?” said Henry. “The old man’s on the rampage. Got some suit from X-corp coming for a meet-and-greet. No offence.” He surveyed my own office-ensemble. “C’mon,” he said. “Follow the leader.”

    He pulled aside the mirror. Behind it a passageway skirted the cavern, tunnelling behind the screen to a burrow where I could almost sit upright. He put the candle on an upturned crate, pressed his face to a peep-hole and said, “It ain’t much, but it’s home.” There was a mat and a sleeping bag and a pile of dog-eared nudie books weighed down by what looked like a toy pistol. He lifted the candle to a crumbling wall, and an earthworm wriggled into the flame and dropped writhing. He crushed it under the wheels of a rollerskate. “You’re here about the Mind’s Eye, right?” he said. “You lost a bet. But you sure gave the old man the fight of his life, mister.” He waved a hand at the peep-hole. In the cavern, Horner – in a wheelchair, pushed by the woman in white – shook hands with the executive from the men’s room. “He just inked a deal,” said Henry. “We’ll be famous! That Miss World routine stirred up some dust!” Another worm made it to the open and he burned and stomped it. Then a fist-sized chunk of dirt fell from the ceiling and scattered, full up with worms. He grabbed a mag from the pile and beat them to submission.

    “You seen the latest Adult Insider, mister?” he said.

Well-Hung Abstainer Tops Young Studs to Watch List.

The adult world is reeling after a surprise entry on its annual role-call of the depraved: young anti-star Buck Wilder. What makes Wilder so special?

   “He’s got style. He fights it,” says “Bruce”, father of three. “It’s got so I can’t hardly stand the suspense! I’m here every day, just waiting to see him crumble.”

   Local bookmakers are taking bets on just when and how he’ll surrender.

   “You got a crowd sending signals, you got a kid with an antenna,” says 5D head honcho E.T.A. Horner, “and that crowd’s swelling like a boil on a bumhole. Logic says he can only fight it for so long.”

   Detractors say the last thing the industry needs is a celibate star.

   “Any press is good press,” says Horner.

   Meanwhile, the star himself is unavailable for comment. Fans, groupies, enemies – none have been able to track him. But when they do, expect the unexpected. Get Wilder, baby. Get Wilder.

    Voices rose in the cavern. “Looks like the troops are restless,” said Henry. “The old man makes me watch ‘em, when I’m not servicing the stars, that is.” He lifted the toy gun from the mag-pile and spun it like a sharpshooter. “While he’s laid up I’m the talent scout. Never can tell who’ll blow in. What do you say mister, any stars shining?”

    I took another peek through the hole as light exploded towards me. Every face in the cavern pulled back. Someone shouted: “He’s in there!” and they charged us, jumping over seats and hammering on the wall.

    “Whoa, mister!” said Henry. “If I’d known you were gonna be the main feature –” He shoved the gun at me grip-first. The wall crumbled. “Make us famous!” he shouted, from a pile of dirt and clawing hands.