PrintThe Short Story of the Month Club ventures into its third month. This time, I'm dabbling with parody and writing about comic book conventions. We have 128 subscribers. For only $10, you can join the fun. Here’s a preview of this month’s story:

"Lolito" by David Hopkins

Lolito, bane of my existence, pain in my ass. My sin, my suffering. Lo-lee-toe: the tip of the spine shudders taking a trip of three vertebrae downward to tap, at three. Lo. Lee. Toe.

He was Toe, plain Toe, at the live art show, standing five feet ten in combat boots. He was Toto in his oversized Kevin-Smith jean shorts. He was Lee at school. He was Lorenzo on the dotted line. But at my booth, at every damn comic book convention, he was always Lolito.

As Vladimir Nabokov once wrote, “You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.”

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what all geeks and nerds, the misinformed, simple and noble, envied: I had my own booth to sell my comics. I had a base of operations.

He invaded that base on a continual basis.

“Hey John Johnnson.”

Lolito stood over me at the small press expo in Columbus, Ohio. I sat at my table, four feet of space to sell my comics, prints, and commissioned artwork. Lolito’s skinny frame blocked a portion of table from other would-be customers. In his hands, he held a clear plastic dish of nacho chips with warm jelly-like cheese poured over it. He dug around, for what I guess was the perfect corn chip, his fingers covered in cheese. He shoved the chip in his mouth. He then sucked the remaining mess from his twig fingers, but did not adequately remove all cheese. It was noxious behavior, appropriate not even for a child. Lolito was no child. He was in his late twenties and, I assume, my most massive devotee.

I hadn’t published anything new in a decade, nineteen years. Next year, I will have to say I haven’t published anything new in decades. Plural. It’s demoralizing.

In the early ‘90s, I wrote and illustrated a creator-owned comic book called METRO CITY WAR. The story focuses on a cyborg named Othello who was part of an elite security squad. His girlfriend is killed. He believes it was the mayor of Metro City, and—

“So, whatcha workin’ on?” Lolito wipes his hand on his jean shorts.

“Oh, nothing.” I raised my hands to unveil a Shadowcat of the X-Men sketch I promised to a ten-year-old girl. The girl was not familiar with my opus, but noticed I charged for commissions. Her dad tried to haggle the price down from $20. I offered to do the piece for $15. “Shadowcat.”

“Cool.” Lolito places his plastic dish on top of my stack of prints. “So, uh, whenever you’re done, can you draw something for me?”

“What do you want?” I asked, but I already knew the answer. My character Desdemona, the dead girlfriend of Othello, was the real hit of my comic tragedy. People did not purchase METRO CITY WAR for the epic struggle of a lone robot-man against the tyrannical forces of a dystopian city-state. They bought the comic for Desdemona. She had dark red hair, breasts like watermelons that began at her collarbone and hung to almost her bare belly. Her waist was so small; you could wrap your hands around it. She wore an impossible outfit. Black electrical tape crossed her body in the form of intersecting lighting bolts. In the story, she was the model of purity and fidelity. She looked like a prostitute.

Would you like to read the rest? You should subscribe. I’ll send you this short story (available in pdf, epub, and mobi formats), the stories from June and July, plus a new story every month for the next seven months. All artwork by April Hopkins.