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We love publishing conventional crime stories here at the FFO. Fucked-up heists. Double-crossed hitmen. Femme fatales with extra powerful thighs. Like prison food, its our bread and butter. But we also turn down a lot of these stories, which are good, because, well, we get so many. Todays story is a tip: you want to get in the magazine, think outside the box. Or, er, glory hole. Or whatever the fuck we call it around here.

A guys got to earn a living, right?

Watched by Joseph H. Stryker

“Why do you do this?” The words are colored blue.  The guest’s name is Viewer1537 and he has just entered the chatroom. I’ve been asked this question many times. Whenever I give the correct answer I always gain a paying customer.

“It’s what I know; I’m an entertainer. This is how I give back to the world.” My answer is not typed. The microphone picks up my voice. I take a sip from my water bottle then continue. “It’s also the only thing I can do. God knows I’ve tried.”
“How long have you been doing this?” With that I know hes hooked. My small studio apartment will soon become a permanent fixture in this person’s imagination. Four walls and two rooms. Six cameras will display it: five in the main room and one in the bathroom. When most people hear that I’ve got a camera in the bathroom they end the conversation. But when it comes right down to it I’m not ashamed. I pay my taxes same as anyone else.
“Four years now. Yep. Seems shorter though, that’s for sure.” Four years since I got out of San Quentin. Spent the better part of my life in that dump. As I think about my past a regular shows up.
“10,000 Tokens 4 teh nxt 1?” Their chosen name is Cagney37 and their text is red.
“If you’re willing to pay I’m willing to work!”
“Cagney37 tips: 10,000 tokens.” My right foot is still healing from last time but I have a job to do. I walk over to the kitchen and grab a steak knife, then go over to the ground level camera. I sit down Indian style and take off my socks. My cat Chandler sees the knife and runs for the bathroom.
“Which one should I choose. . .” I have seven toes left. Three on my right, five on my left. “You know what, I’ll let you guys choose. Whoever tips me 100 tokens first gets to decide.” The spot where my big toe used to be is covered with bandages. It was only last week that I cut it off.
“daemonT tips: 100 tokens.” As I get the message more and more viewers start to appear. “left big toe,” demands daemonT.
I reach for a bottle of alcohol and pour it over the blade. I start humming the tune to Rocky and begin to cut. The hard thing about cutting off toes, and fingers for that matter, isn’t applying a lot of force but having the willpower to cut all the way through. I learned that the hard way the first time I did this.
When I get all the way through I gasp and reach for a towel to stop the bleeding. I always make a big show of it, acting like I’m in a lot of pain. These people are paying to hurt me and you gotta give em what they want. Scream, shake, cry, whatever it looks like in the movies.
In reality I don’t feel a thing. I’ve got congenital analgesia. It’s a condition in which you don’t feel pain. Most people with it die young, not realizing when something goes wrong with their body. I ended up making money off it.
After I stop the bleeding and burn the wound I hold up the toe for all to see. I get an assortment of compliments and insults from my audience. Chandler crawls back out and I throw him my toe. He nibbles on it. I get a few tips for the morbid use of my cat.
Viewer1537 leaves the chatroom. Newcomer1537 joins the chatroom. Based on the IP addresses I can tell it’s the same person. “So you’ll do anything we ask as long as the price is sufficient.”
“As long as I’m still breathing. Your wish is my command.” I give them a halfhearted laugh.
“Kill the cat.” I stare at the screen for a moment. I re-read the words thinking it’s a mistake. “Kill the cat.” No mistake, that’s what it says.
I look down at him. A little red-haired tabby I’ve had for four years now. Found him outside this apartment complex. Half starved to death, he was lying in a pile of trash. The world abandoned him just like they abandoned me. Through the good times and the bad times, he’s always been there.
“Newcomer1537 tips: 100,000 tokens.” Chandler rubs up against me and purrs while nibbling at the toe. I pick the knife back up and stare at him. He drops the toe and backs away.
“I’m sorry, buddy. I gotta eat. Don’t see you paying my bills.”

Guess I don’t feel emotions either.

Joseph H. Stryker is a pretty boring person. Born in 1994 in Laguna Hills, California. He now resides in Lake Elsinore on the other side of the Santa Ana Mountains. He writes crime fiction and enjoys movies. Chances are you'll forget him the second you finish reading this sentence.