I met Eric at the tennis club I had joined. We were both single men with no set schedule to speak of, so we played together pretty often. I’m a pretty laid back guy on most things, but tennis was one of the few things I was competitive at. Eric, it turns out, was the same way, and some of our arguments over points almost devolved into fistfights. The club pro took an interest, and soon we were playing in amateur tournaments as a doubles team. We were pretty much undefeated for two years, even beating a couple of pros in charity events. Of course, they were both just north of forty, but I was no spring chicken at thirty-seven. Eric was twenty-six, a fact he liked to rub in every once in a while.

Our friendship began slowly, mostly because of the age difference. The fact that I was prematurely gray highlighted our difference, and when we began to hit clubs together he’d introduce the girl he was targeting to me as his Dad, to make him appear harmless. I wasn’t a troll, and the years had given me a wealth of patter to draw on. I think it shocked him that I could pull women faster, but he adapted, becoming my wingman. It was never anything serious, I’d given up on a permanent relationship long ago. Still fun to have a hot, sweaty night with a sweet young thing, as long as she knew she was going home in a cab the next morning.

I knew the girls talked, as did the people we knew in the community and at the tennis club. We both had money, never seemed to work, didn’t have a set schedule. The general consensus was that we were drug dealers. It got to the point that we would get stopped and have our car searched on a regular basis, and people we barely knew were wanting to know if we could ‘hook them up’. A couple of phone calls from some very high priced lawyers ended the harassment, and a few well placed “FUCK OFFs!’ took care of the rest.

So then, where did the money come from?

For Eric, it came the old fashioned way. He inherited it. His family owned several very successful businesses, and when they all went down in a plane crash, he inherited everything, along with some very nice insurance settlements. No idiot, he had an MBA from one of the most prestigious schools in the country. But he soon discovered he couldn’t stand the rigid demands of business on a regular basis, hired top notch managers, and went in to his office twice a week for five hours, to keep check on things. He also had two sets of accountants and a very good law firm to look out for his interests, so he was pretty much set.

He didn’t just slack around and party. He kept in shape, with tennis and martial arts, and had numerous hobbies that were pretty demanding.

I was almost the exact opposite. My parents were dirt poor. I was just lucky enough to pay for their funerals when they passed. I’d been married, and after five years she told me I’d never amount to anything, and she was leaving me for a better life. Took almost everything of value with her when she left.

Her exit plan was a victim of timing, I did indeed have nothing when we divorced, but eighteen months after I got the final decree, something I’d been working on in my spare time paid off, and the paydays just kept getting better. My darling ex somehow discovered my good fortune and came sniffing around, hinting that perhaps she’d made a mistake, and maybe we should work on mending fences.

I politely told her to kiss my ass, rubbed my good fortune in her face, and moved away without a forwarding address. I bought the condo I live in seven years ago, and just kept moving forwards.

Eric and I had many of the same interests, and our attitudes complimented each other. He’d get enthused over something, try to drag me along with him in his latest scheme, and I’d be the voice of reason, pointing out holes in his plan until he got bored and dropped it. But if he really, really wanted to do something, no force on earth would keep him from trying.



We had decided after three days of sleet, freezing rain, high winds and blowing snow that enough was enough. The islands were looking really attractive, that or southern France. We flipped a coin, and France won.

We were to meet at my condo and cab to the airport. I had one of my rare business meetings, so I told Eric I’d be a little late. He said he’d amuse himself until I got there. That should have had warning bells going off in my head, but I was focused on what I was doing and missed it.

He was sitting on my sofa, an old issue of National Geographic in his hands, when I came through the door. “How’d you get in here?”

He just gave me that lopsided grin of his. “You know how I am when I want to learn something new. I thought once that it might be cool to learn how to get pass locked doors, so I looked a guy up. He’d been a master thief for years, until an associate got caught for something else and sold him out for a lesser sentence. He did five years, and when he came out he started a consulting business, teaching individuals and corporations how to keep guys like him out. He told me he made as much in his second year as he did in all eight years of thievery. He also had an associate that knew a thing or two about computers. Issabella, really? I can’t tell you how cool it is that you’re Rock Stone, and Smiley B. Wiley, but Issabella? Sounds kind of gay to me.”

Well, the truth was out there now. My upturn in fortune? It was from writing, something I’d done while still married. My wife belittled me, but I bet she isn’t laughing now. I write under three aliases, and make pretty good money off all of them. I decided early on an alias was the way to go, mostly to keep my ex-wife in the dark. We’d parted almost a year before I started making any money off my writing, but with her you never knew, and I didn’t want a long, expensive battle over whether she deserved any money for standing by me for the years she did. Then, I liked the idea that I could walk the streets and no one had a clue who I was or what I did. Since I started out self publishing, I wasn’t obligated into future book signings or tours to support the work. Oh, I probably would have made more money if I had, but it was worth the trade off to me.

“Shut the fuck up! I’ll have you know Issabella paid for this condo with her romances. And good old Smiley bought the four-door truck and the motorcycle with his mysteries. The Battle Babes royalties are just gravy. Very nice gravy. The profits from the video game alone would keep me very comfortable for the rest of my life.”

He was laughing out loud now. “Okay, okay. I gotta tell you, man, you’re my hero. I started reading Battle Babes of Borth when I was fourteen, Can you imagine?”

I couldn’t help smiling. “I’m glad you liked them. You were fourteen? Tell the truth, did you beat off thinking about Captain Titts?”

“Fucking A I did! Until I was raw! Her, then Sergeant Hipps, Redhaired Hellion, then Private Partz, Going Commando. You got a pretty wild imagination, dude.”

I thought about the series when I was half buzzed one night, reading an old paperback sci-fi from the eighties, about a group of mercenaries that traveled the universe for fun and profit. They were a womanizing lot, and spent more time screwing than fighting. I had a stray thought about reversing the image, and have it be a bunch of extremely attractive, extremely horny women, offering their weapons and ‘services’ to the highest bidder. I hacked out the outline of the first three novels that night, then spent eight months developing the characters and plot lines.

I published online, without hope of a book deal. By the time the third book came out I had a small cult following, that swelled in time to millions all over the world. I was up to book thirty-five now, with two spinoffs. There was also a video game that was ranked number five world wide, and several graphic novels I’d done with a famous comic book artist. I’d even been approached twice for a possible movie deal.

Isabella came about when I was bored with the Battle Babes, and about the time romance became hot. Seems I was pretty good at it, and two of the four became movies. There was a huge online debate going on as to who she actually was. I laughed a couple of times about the guesses, but so far they were nowhere near the truth.

Smiley came along when I needed a nom de plume for a series of mysteries I developed. They were the least successful of the bunch, but still made more money than I ever thought I’d see in my lifetime, so I couldn’t complain. Combined, they added up to a very nice chunk of change. And now the cat was out of the bag. “You gonna tell anybody?”

“Shit no(did I mention that on average one out of three words out of mouth were generally swear words?)I’m not. I would never do that, man. You’re my friend, and I just don’t have that many. Still pretty cool though.”

I believed him. In the time I’d known him I’d never heard him betray a confidence. “Good. Now relax, while I take a shower and get changed. Then we’re off to the airport. Boobies for everybody!”

The beach we’d be frequenting was topless, except for one area. There completely nude people frolicked, enjoying the climate and scenery. “Boobies for everybody!,” he echoed, before taking the old National Geographic up again, thumbing through it while I got my gear together.

“Hey, this is cool,” he said, showing me the article. A man had been hunting in Arctic Canada for polar bear, and he shot one that he thought had mud on it, only to discover it was brown fur on its’ feet and ears. He’d shown it to a provincial biologist, and they ran a DNA test, proving the bear was a cross between a Grizzly and a Polar bear, coming about because the Polar bear was losing habitat due to global warming, and the Grizzly was expanding theirs.

I’d read the article. “Yeah,” I grinned, “tell me that isn’t a cheesy B movie wanting happen. I can see it now, GROLAR! SCOURGE OF THE NORTHLANDS!”

If I had been paying attention I would have noticed the glint in his eye that always led to some adventure or another, but I was busy packing. We were on the plane and I was half asleep when he brought up what was on his mind.

“I think we should do it.”

“Do what?”

“Make a B movie.”

My eyes snapped open, and I saw the look on his face. Shit! Now I had to talk him down. “What makes you think we could make a B movie? I for one know nothing about the film industry, how to make a movie, how to pitch a movie, how to get it in theaters. We’d be tap dancing in a minefield, it would end up blowing up in our face. And movies take money to make, who’d finance us?”

“We’d finance us. I’ll put in a million if you will. That should be enough, remember B movies are cheaply made anyway. You write the script, and I’ll get it made. I bet if we put our minds to it we could make a classic.”

I just shut up and let him enthuse. No way in hell was I pissing a million dollars away on something we knew nothing about. Maybe it would be out of his system by the time we got to France.

It was warm, the girls pretty and willing, the wine excellent. We pulled our third set of girls in four days, cute little Aubrey Hepburn lookalikes. They couldn’t speak English, and I knew just enough French to get my face slapped, but we each made it clear to each other what we wanted. We danced, drank, went back to the suite and banged them, switching partners sometime before morning. I woke up with both girls draped across me. As much fun as it was to feel that much nubile young flesh rubbing against me, I needed to go really bad. Maybe I’d come back and figure out a way to get rid of my morning wood. Maybe I’d take them out to lunch, and buy them a nice bauble to remember us by. We’d kiss, gaze into each others eyes longingly, make vague promises, and never see each other again. Life would go on.

I heard a noise and checked, amazed to see him sitting at the kitchen table, his laptop open, and a notebook filled with scribbles. Whatever had gotten him away from the girls must have been important to him. I felt the skin on the back of my neck start to crawl.

That was my tell. It always tingled right before we’d embark on whatever adventure he’d come up with. I always thought it was my subconscious analyzing data, drawing conclusions, and trying to force my conscious mind to acknowledge it.

I woke the girls, walking them naked into the kitchen, and when he didn’t even look up the crawling intensified. This was bad. I told the girls to get dressed, called the driver we used, and escorted them back to town. The driver put the privacy panel up, and they took turns showing me how grateful they were for last night. We had to sit a minute after we stopped to straighten our clothes. I took them into the first jeweler we came to, and dropped about a grand U.S. on them, knowing they’d return it for the money, minus a twenty-five percent fee handling fee, before I got back to the villa. It was the thought that counted.

I found him on the patio, his laptop humming, notepads scattered everywhere. He wasn’t working, just lying on a lounger, soaking up the sun, wearing an expensive pair of sunglasses and nothing else. Four beer bottles were on the table, and he was face down and snoring.

“Turn!,” I said, sticking an ice cold beer on his leg just below his junk, enjoying the way he jumped and automatically covered up, “if you don’t, the vacation fun will slow way down, what with sunburned balls and all.”

“Fuck you,” he said, struggling into his shorts and a tee. “the girls still here?”

“Nope, already placed the little beach bunnies back into their natural habitat. They’re probably already frolicking with a new set of wolves.”

“Well just shit then. What am I supposed to do with this?” He was looking down at the erection that had sprang up.

“My best guess would be take matters into your own hands. Need a minute?”

“Fuck you, I’ll just save it until later. I’m starving.”

We hopped in to the little two seater roadster we’d rented, and hit a village known for its’ many bistros. Say what you want about the French, those frogs could cook. I think you can ingest five hundred calories just looking at the plate. Sated, we went back to laze around until the afternoon was half over, then hit the beach. Then we’d cruise the bars, looking for Miss Right Now. Or two. Or three. Whatever. I once tried to talk Eric into buying stock in a condom maker, my point being that our business alone would keep them solvent. He’d gotten an STD once, and it scared him to the No Glove, No Love, school of thought.

He plopped down on the patio, looked at the papers, and grinned. “Guess what I was doing while you were shagging our little French bimbettes?”

“Regretting not joining us? Having a bit of penis envy, maybe. We can’t all be hung like satyrs, you know.”

“Well, I was a little worried about your health, so I tried to find your supply of Viagra and hide it, before you blew that feeble old heart of yours out. Then I decided if that’s the way you wanted to go who was I to stop you? Instead, I researched B movies, looking for the formula, you know, the ones that make B movies classics.”

“Really? And what have you learned, mighty scholar?”

“Well, first of all, the female lead needs to be blond.”

“And I suppose she has to have a nice rack? Plus, her character would have to hate wearing bras, right? Lots of shots of her in tee shirts, preferably wet?” I was grinning back now. This kind of banter is what made him such a good companion.

“You’re damn right. And the shirts have to be tight and as thin as possible. Now, any ideas who she could play in our epic?”

“Sure, she can play the biologist who discovers the crossbreeding.”

“How you gonna make a big titted blonde look smart enough to be a scientist?”

I thought for a minute. “Big glasses and a lab coat.”

“See! See! I knew you’d be good at this shit. Now, who’s the leading man?”

“The hunter of course. he has to be devilishly handsome, and dumb as a fucking post.”

“Is the biologist his love interest?”

“I don’t think so. He’d be too intimidated by her brains. No, I think a native girl is the way to go here.”

“Goddamn! Naked natives! Now you’re fucking talking!”

“Who said anything about naked natives? It’s set in the Arctic, you moron. Where the hell would we get naked natives?”

He leaned back and grinned. “You’re the writer. Figure it out.”

The game had gotten to me. I thought for a few minutes. “Sweat Lodge! A sweat lodge full of naked natives, with the hot blonde biologist and the hunk right in the middle.”

“Think you can get her to go topless?”

Man, to have an IQ just over 150, he could be downright dense at times.”I thought you said you researched B movies? We aren’t going to get anyone who’s a serious actor in the thing anyway. I’m sure there’s a young aspiring actress out that somewhere who’d get naked in a flash to be in a movie. Dumbass.”

“Fuck you very much, old man. Wait, does that mean we’d be on the set with a bunch of topless women?”

“Why the hell would we be on the set?”

It was his turn to look at me like I was an idiot. “Because there would be a bunch of topless women. I’m the executive producer. I’d have to be there to make sure our money is well spent. You’d be there as co-executive producer and technical advisor, to make sure they fuck up your masterpiece.”

“You mean don’t fuck it up, right?”

“I meant what I said. We’d have to do so many revisions that the finished product doesn’t even slightly resemble the original concept. It’s how all successful B movies are done. Of course, you’d have to throw a temper tantrum or two, and I’d have to talk you back into the fold as executive producer. You can thank me in advance, if you’d like.”

I stood up. “This bullshit is giving me a headache. Come on, beach time.”

We hit the beach, and I watched all the pretty little girls parade up and down, in brightly colored thongs and nothing else, looking for their next victim. I’m firmly convinced women can smell money on you, like a shark smells blood. Eric had pretty decent looks, and I was okay in a middle-aged man who takes care of himself kind of way. We didn’t wearing Rolexes or bling, but they’d gravitate to us, flirting, posing, showing off their assets in the best possible way. Everybody knew the situation. Most of them were barely making a living as secretaries or factory workers. They’d probably saved all year for the few days they’d get to spend in the sand and sun. They wanted adventure, someone to sweep them off their feet for a vacation fling, something to entertain the girls they left behind, with tales of the handsome stranger and the special connection they’d felt instantly. If they were rich and could take them to the finer places, so much the better. Most were more than willing to trade sex for their dream. It’s why I tended to give them little gifts and act heartbroken when I took them home. It made the story more interesting, made them feel better about what they’d done to earn it.

They were like schools of brightly colored little fish, and like little fish fleeing from a shark, they scattered. I looked to see what caused it. A woman, with long black hair and olive skin, was rising from the sea. Her breasts could have been used as a model for all the classic sculptors, sitting high, firm, and full. As she rose, it was obvious she had strayed from the nude beach, the privacy fence stretched across the beach fifty feet behind her. Unlike all the smooth little bunnies, she had a full, luxuriant bush, jet black silk shedding droplets of water as she swayed towards us.

She stood directly in front of me, smiling, and started talking. Greek, maybe. I held up my hand. “My humble apologies, Goddess, I do not speak the language of Olympus. I’m just a vulgar American, overwhelmed by your beauty.”