What To Do With It When I’m Dead

0

    It is hard not to wonder about the inevitable day when all that you are, all that you know, and all that you have comes to an end and all that is left is the great void. Death, whatever it is, is bound to happen to each of us and facing down that mortality is as much a journey as each living day we face is. Now, this isn’t meant to be morbid so much as a way to examine the idea of legacy. For me, I can’t see my lasting legacy right now. I mean, sure, I hope that as a person I am remembered and all that but, as a writer, and especially as an artist, I can’t see any legacy. I can’t see anything that lasts.

What I hope is that the books live beyond me, that the people that have them will pass them around and that with luck people will discover the newest couple of books and anything I have floating out on the web.

I hope that I have inspired people.

I hope that I will be remembered as a good storyteller.

I hope that the paintings I have (and brother, I have a lot sitting around here, which, you know, you can buy, wink, wink) will be given to friends and loved ones and to anyone who would have a genuine interest. I know what I can do, and what my limitations are as an artist but I like the stuff. It makes me happy. I would just want people to feel the same way.

Ah, but what of all the crap that is left? What of the novel, the three story collections I never put out, and the several hundred (I was in the four hundreds at last count) of stories? I would never want or expect anyone to go on some silly crusade to get my work out there. I have had a whole lifetime to get stories and art to the world, and whether I was successful or not rests wholly on my shoulders. No, I would love for people to read the stuff I have written, most of which has never really been seen beyond a few friends, and some things never. If there was one thing I’d like to see get released it’s the novel, but that would be a job. You could do it the way I did these most recent two books, and just put it out as it is, warts and all, but as for a cover, well, I dunno. I have always had ideas for that but have never done art. I figure that until/unless the book gets picked up by a publisher there’s no point in obsessing over that. But I really love the novel, my book A Shadow Over Ever. I love the hell out of it and out of old cantankerous Pete Anders and would really like it to get out to people. Though, unless it’s picked up or I just put it out myself, it seems unlikely.

    It’s a weird idea, leaving a legacy. I mean, If I was a famous author it might be weird to think of all the people scrounging for story scraps in the hopes of finding the rough gems that can be put out to make a last few dollars. Or worse, finding scraps and half-formed notions which someone else would finish. For me though, a no one, I would love people to discover what I have written. I have been writing for around twenty years now and I am proud of all of it, good, bad, and ill. The worst thing that can happen is to be forgotten, utterly and completely. Immortality lies with how you touched people and affected them. Your legacy lies on the lips of others. I would like to think that when my time is up, whenever that is, someone out there will think fondly of me and at least say – that guy was a pretty kick ass writer. Or at least not want to pee on my grave.

One can hope.

Feel free to browse my saleable goods and contribute to my legacy.

c

(hmm…book cover release tomorrow? hmm…)

Hey, You With the Face!

0

    You know how this works, I post stuff, some jibber, some jabber, some pics and the rest, and you come here and check it out. Well, I will assume you come here and check it out otherwise it’s weird that you are reading this, and are ‘here’ and you know, that’s just odd. I mean, weird.  Anyway, well, so I am glad you come, glad you came, and hope you dig what you see, but, well, I need you to do me a favor – leave me some feedback. Read a story you dig, see a pic you fancy, well, let me know. I do it for the people’s, and you, my friend, are a peoples.

So dig, check the stuff below and drop me some words. Do it and I call of the Sasquatch I sent after you this morning.

Yup.

c

The Entity – review

0

So I have been watching movies for a while now, as you may have guessed, but sometimes there will still come a movie that just flips my lid and blows my wig back. Sometimes there is a movie so ridiculous that I cannot help but stand up and applaud. My friends, The Entity is just such a film. Based on a supposedly factual case of a woman being terrorized and abused by malevolent spirits, this is a film that just should never have been. Or at least, not been this.

The Entity is a story about a single mother of three children who is trying to make her way in the world. She is putting herself through school so she can get a better career and better life for her family and herself. She’s young enough to dream but old enough to know better. Little does she know though that as she goes about her life there is an evil spirit that is watching her with lustful eyes. This comes to fruition one night while she is undressing and the spirit attacks and violently rapes her. She is traumatized and shocked and goes to the doctor (who I guess is a psychiatrist) to see if she was actually attacked or is simply going mad. Well, no sooner than she gets told that it’s probably all in her head she is attacked again and each time she fights it and each time the invisible force wins, and no matter what evidence she has to show, her doctor believes it is in her head. When the situation begins to effect her children and her friends, and just as it seems like it may turn deadly, she breaks off all dealings with her shrink and makes the acquaintances of some parapsychologist, who are conveniently shown some spooky business to convince them to help her. Needless to say there are more attempted attacks, there are some light shows, and there is lots of ‘oohi’ng and ‘aah’ing from the ghost hunters. This is their dream case. Evidence in hand, the ghost guys get the go ahead and come with a way to ‘trap’ the spirit and thus prove that there are beings outside of our realm. How this will help the woman is sketchy at best. Well, the gang gets their chance but things don’t go quite as they hope and unless she can face her attacker, the young mother may end up not only a victim but dead.

Holy crap this movie is silly. No way, and no how should a film depicting rape make you laugh but, and I am sorry to the woman who claims to have really gone through this, to see how they portray this stuff is RIDICULOUS! The woman is doing her thing, and suddenly BOWMP BOWMP BOWMP BOWMP and the attack happens. It is so exaggerated and violent and the music so dramatic that you can’t help but be dumbfounded. I am sure this was scary to the housewives of the eighties but, seriously, there are not rapist ghosts trolling for MILFs. Worse than those scenes though is the weird mix we get of ghost story AND psychodrama, so that every time we get a scary scene it is followed by a white coat telling us it’s all in her head. And it never matters who sees the stuff happen, it is always followed by ‘you’re crazy’. This may be how it really happened but in the film, it feels false. What ruins the film though is the ending, which for some reason someone felt the need to take a rocket over a shark tank and just blow the whole film. How do you come up with a notion to freeze a freaking ghost? HOW? And then when it goes down, the ghost 1.falls for their trap (a false version of her house set up in a college gym (YES, totally happens) and 2. that it decides to suddenly turn the tech against the woman. WHAT? Then after all that you have a ridiculous ending that proves that things are not as tidily handled as we had hoped, only to just ignore that fact. This is such a melodramatic, sloppy film that it embarrasses me that people are seeking this crap out on DVD only to find it is out of print. People want forty bucks and up for this nonsense. Good grief!

I appreciate that times have change but, my god, this is so silly that it’s nearly unwatchable. It does fulfill the needs of a ‘party’ film though and on that end, it’s fantastic.

Otherwise…

4 out of 10

Your Dust – edit

1

So this is the edit of the story I posted the other day. This is very similar to draft one but there are some things added, some changes of ‘her’ to ‘you’ as the story teller is speaking to his wife. I tried to spook it up a bit more, and overall creep it up. I like this story a lot and like this version even more. This is, for all intents and purposes, the final edit. So here you go.

 

Your Dust

I am surrounded by your dust. The air, my clothes, the things both mine and yours are coated with the ashes of my memory for you and the whispers of your thoughts. I awake every morning to find your dust in the corners of my eyes, on the tip of my tongue, and on the palms of my hands and I roll over in bed and find your shape there, an outlined death shroud where your body should still be. I rise, wiping your remains from me yet again, brushing you away even though I know you’ll return while I sleep. Knowing that even when I nap you are here, walking through what had once been our dream home, your tears falling as dust that covers even the floor. Waking to breathe you in, to catch your faint scent in the air, as if you have just left the room, and sometimes even catching your shadow as it recedes into darkness once more.

I am trapped in the mausoleum of my memory of you.

And how do I live? How do I go on when the person I love is gone but not completely? When I hear their footsteps as I sleep, and can feel their breath on me as I wake? How do I move on when I hear their voice calling to me in my dreams? How do I move on when I am covered in their dust?

I fought you at first. I fought you and your memory with everything I had. I tried to bury myself in alcohol, in pills, in dreams, in mindlessness, in other people, or in anything I could but in the end you were there, always there, always waiting for me in the darkness. Waiting for me to fulfill my promise of forever. I fought you as I dusted every day, sweeping you up and away and removing every trace of you. I threw out your makeup. I burned your clothes. I donated everything you had ever had and loved. Piece by piece I pulled you from my life and I removed every piece of you. I destroyed everything save one thing, your wedding dress, which I could never bring myself to destroy, the scent of you on it still strong, and the memory of that day too clear. I find every moment is spent thinking of you, your shadow long on me, as the cold of your death runs deep through me, as if it has replaced my blood. I remember waking within your shadow and seeing you, and how much you hated me, hated that I lived, that I hadn’t joined you, and when I finally broke free of the dream I remember how I vomited until there was nothing but dust left in me.

And I fought you until there was nothing left to fight but doubt. And I needed to know. Needed to know if I was as crazy as everyone told me I was or if you were still here, with me, waiting for me to finally give in to you, to the dust, and to just go to sleep forever. Friends. Family. Work. Nothing mattered but you. Nothing mattered but the proof of you.

Proof.

I needed to know so I bought three cameras, one for the bedroom, one for the living room, and one for the kitchen – the three places you loved most in the house. You never much cared for the attic, saying it was creepy, and always told me that the basement was ‘boys only’. I had never found your dust there, or any sign of you down there so I focused on the places I knew you had been. Knew you’d be. I borrowed a tripod for the camera in the bedroom and the other two I just made sure to place on shelves or tables where there was a good view. After the cameras were set up I locked all the doors and windows, took the phone off the hook and turned my cell phone off to make sure there was no sound to wake me. I finished by taking three sleeping pills and then set the cameras before turning in. I wanted to capture you. To catch you. To find the source of the dust that has been coating me with your memory. If it was you, if it was you then, Christ I dunno what. I dunno what I would do. But if it was not you, if it was something else imitating you to fool me then god help them. God help them and God help me.

And I slept.

And I dreamt.

And when I dreamt your hand was in my own and there was warmth and light and eternity. And we were free.

I awoke to your dust, and to the darkness, and to a heartache that doubled me over with grief. It took me an hour to unfold myself and find the bedside lamp, hoping in vain you might return to take me with you, knowing that that moment, that time I would go with you to wherever you took me. Heaven or Hell, it mattered little as long as I was with you. But with the cold light of reality on, there was only me in the bed, naked and alone and covered in sweat, tears, and dust. I rose slowly, reluctantly to check the proof.

The proof…

I found my ghost, I found it and knew it for what it was – a ghost. Only, it wasn’t you I found at all, in fact, this ghost was me. I must have awaked in the middle of the night, slowly rising and moving through the house from room to room, looking for what I cannot imagine. Wandering back and forth and back and forth, pacing, look up at the ceiling from time to time and once stopping as if listening to something that came from up there. Always dazed. I finally wandered away from the camera’s eye and returning a few minutes later with bloody hands and with your wedding dress on, it hanging awkwardly, almost grotesquely from my frame. I had kept the dress in the attic but I went towards the basement, so I don’t know how I got it, but it scared me. I was a skeleton in your gown, and I was a horror. I stalked from room to room, looking for something, searching, my head cocked to one side as the blood on my hands darkened from red to brown to black. At one point I stopped in the bedroom and turned to the camera and bent towards it and smiled into it for five minutes, mouthing to it, though I couldn’t make out what I said, before standing up again and wandering out into the living room and then disappearing down the hall. I must have gone into the attic but I cannot be sure. I know I was gone for a while and that while I was gone there was a faint scream, like a woman. When I returned it was fifteen minutes before I had awakened and the blood was gone from me, as was the dress, but the distant look was still there, the haunted look, and I moved to the bedroom and stood there in the doorway for a few minutes before moving back to my bed. I was talking to myself but I couldn’t figure out what I was saying so I played and replayed that part. Over and over and over and over until finally, at the loudest volume I caught what I was saying.

I wish I hadn’t.

“Release…me…”

And the voice that came was not my own but someone else’s, pleading with me. It was you, it had to be you. And just as I moved into the bed I caught a shadow moving against the darkness, near the doorway, a shadow that was barely visible in the night vision but which was there and then gone. And then I awoke. It took me a while to recover from the shock of what the tapes showed, to really let it sink into me and even then I wasn’t sure what it was I had seen or heard. I wandered naked through the house looking for clues as to what I had been doing and found nothing on the first floor so I moved down into the basement. In the basement there was only one drop of blood in the far corner where the light barely reaches, one drop and no more so I moved to the attic. Even approaching the attic I felt dread filling me. I looked up at the string that pulled the steps down and saw your dust all over the panel that hid the stairs and attic and my heart began racing. I pulled the rope and the groan from the stairs startled a scream from me. The stairs hung half way down and the cold air of the attic slipped down and embraced me as I stood there frozen in place.
What would I find up there?

What was waiting in that darkness?

What lived in me that was holding you here, trapped in the shadow and dust of my own memory. Oh you were here, that much was clear, here, trapped in me, trapped in the cage of my obsession. And how many nights had I done as I did last night – haunting myself as you, as if I was your ghost? I looked down at myself again and again saw no blood. No blood. So where had it come from? And where had it gone? You had drowned in the pool at the gym. A freak accident when you dove in and hit your head. No one noticed you until it was too late and you were brain dead. What blood there had been was little. So whose blood had been on me? And where did it go?

And then I got my answer as the dread filled me, perhaps remembering somehow what I had done the night before.

I heard something move upstairs and looked up in time to see a shadow hovering near the edge of the entrance before it moved back into the darkness. Then came a voice, small and distant, calling me up the stairs but I stood my ground. What was in that darkness, and what did it want? I let the string slip from my hand and it raised back an inch, then another, then another and on until the string was hanging free again and the panel was flush with the ceiling and the panel slammed shut loudly. Above me I heard something moving hurriedly, as if on all fours, its nails dragging across the floor up there and around the entrance before receding towards the back of the house. It was talking, louder now, whispering quickly, and I could only make out some of the words but I won’t repeat them, but will say only that thwy were words of the grave and of darkness and little else. Something fell with a crash above me and there was a low moan. I was shaking and backed away from the attic and as I looked up, watching the attic’s panel, waiting for it to open to reveal whatever lay in wait upstairs I realized that the dust, the dust I had been seeing all this time was no dust at all but blood. Blood dried to brown and dried so thick it came off I as powder. Release me. And was it your voice, really, or was that another trick being played? Another lie.

What if it was me, begging to be released?

Jesus, was it me?

And the cold gripped me then, and I looked around this house that was no home. I looked at this place where we had been so happy, this place I had made a tomb, where the mail and newspaper were stacked in piles around the front door, where clothes and trash were piled on the floor, and where I had walled myself in with misery as I prayed to my dead wife. I stumbled into the living room and saw your picture, a picture of you before you had met me, of you as a single woman alone in the world and happy with your place in it. Alive and happy. And beside it stood our wedding photo and there we were, both smiling into each other’s mouths as we kissed. You were just as happy, and, maybe, maybe happier, and you were with me. I looked into the mirror and what I saw was a ghost – I had lost weight, my eyes were surrounded by black circles, and I looked as if I hadn’t washed in days. I grabbed up a pair of pants and shirt and put them on absently. I was dead, I was dead and I had died the day you had. I was dead and had brought something home from your funeral and it wasn’t you. It was something old, and rotten, and hateful that lived on people like me and that was sucking the life from me moment by moment as it hid behind the memories of my wife. Was it my blood that it was draining? My life? Or was it my very soul? I grabbed my car keys and wallet, slid my tennis shoes on and turned to look at the house one last time. Everywhere I looked there was dust, my dust, covering everything. My blood, dried to brown, now painting this place in shades of death. Above me something was stalking back and forth, waiting to see what I would do and I knew that if I waited, if I waited much longer that the attic would open, the stairs would fall, and I would find out just what had returned from the cemetery with me. I would fall asleep again and this time might never wake up.

I turned and opened the front door of the house, the place you and I had made love so many times, had laughed so often, and had woven our dreams together, this place that was now my own grave, and I left, vowing never to return. And slowly, very slowly, I shook the dust of your death from my life, and remembered how to live.

The Meep Sheep update

1

    Today is a pretty big day on the calendar of the book kids, as today was the day that the book was submitted for review. Manda finished the last work on the book layout last night and we submitted it all just before midnight. Now, with This Beautiful Darkness we had the worst time trying to get the book to go through. We kept running into layout issues that drove us nuts. It felt like every step forward we took twelve back. I have to hand it to Manda, she was a trooper and didn’t give up on the book. What was worse was when we got the interior going for the last book we started to have issues with the cover. It was maddening. We went through four proofs before managing to get the formula right and I was able to order it and get it out to everyone. So far, this one hasn’t been as troubling. So far the only issue was that the covers had to be re-configured a little and my friend Marcus, who helped make the cover something special, re-worked it so that it worked out great.

    So where does that leave us? Well, that means that the first proof is ordered so now it’s a waiting game. My hope is that I didn’t screw anything up in editing and that everything will be good to go and we can move forward. Time will tell though. It looks like my target of May is still completely in sight though. I have the e-store up for the book as well. You cannot order the book yet but it is up. I will post a link to it in a few days, when I post the front and back cover art. I am so excited for all of you to see this book. I am so proud of it and the work I did on it, and the work that Manda and Marcus did in helping to bring this new book to everyone.

Keep your peepers peeled as I will post the cover art this week. WOOOO!

c

Blood Car – review

0

Dang, you would think I am out searching high and low for these dark comedies of late but, really I am not. Not intentionally. I guess it’s luck, maybe. In this case it was a film that a friend brought over for a movie night and it was a movie that turned out to be pretty fun.

In a future where it has become too expensive to drive a young teacher is working on a formula that will run his car on wheat grass alone. Despite his best efforts though he can’t seem to make the engine work more than a moment. When he accidentally cuts himself and some of the blood drops into the engine he suddenly discovers that while his engine has no taste for wheat grass, it does like the taste of blood. He turns his attentions on his car and modifies it without hesitation and in a matter of days is on the road again in his car. His car is quite the attention getter too as few people are seen on the road anymore and this loner is suddenly quite the ladies man. The problem is that the lady he has his eyes (and hands) on is a trampy little thing that runs the local Meat Stand and she has no interest in him unless his car is rolling, which means he has to keep the blood flowing. In no time this peace loving vegan is offing indigents, car jackers, and anyone else who gets in his way of landing some booty. What he doesn’t know though is that the government is keen to get its hands on his car and its secrets and if he doesn’t watch out, he’s bound to become part of the system he holds in such disdain.

A fun little satire, this is all idea and acting. The story is fun but thin so it falls to the actors to really sell the film and they do in spades. It’s pretty clear everyone had a good time and it was fun to see former child actor Anna Chlumsky working on such a weird little movie. I wouldn’t say this is a great movie at all but it has so much heart, and so much charm that any shortcomings are easily looked over. At 75 minutes it still seems a little long, just the same, and it feels as if the main idea just ran out of steam by the end. Just the same, it’s a fun movie and is definitely worth a look if you find it floating around out there.

6.5 out of 10

World’s Greatest Dad – review

0

Oh how I do love a good black comedy and, if you appreciate them as well you know that the blacker the better. There is something about comedy that takes it so close to pathos, to horror (and vice versa) that those are the places where some of the best humor lies. It isn’t that you want to see the darker side all the time but that we all  know full well that in pain there can be laughter – especially other people’s pain. Which brings us to World’s Greatest Dad, the newest film by comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, and it is wonderfully grim and delightfully dark.

The film follows a nice enough single father (Robin Williams) with a pretty worthless teenage son who he keeps trying to connect with. He knows the kid is three shades shy of a douchebag but loves him just the same and keeps trying to have a meaningful relationship with him, something the son wants nothing to do with. The son is far more interested in the more ‘adventurous’ porn on the internet and dear old dad is happy to have his poetry class at the local high school and his secret relationship with one of the other teacher’s at school. When a terrible tragedy besets him he is forced to make a hard decision that, while meant for the best, sets gears into motion that will all but destroy everything he has. He finds that, even the most selfless deed can be corrupted, if given enough encouragement.

I know, I am being coy with what the movie is about but, for me, it was not knowing what was going to happen that made the movie so wonderful and dark. This is a great movie, with solid acting, writing, and directing and with a fantastic sense of the macabre. The filmmakers nail the darker side of high school like few films manage, and nail it without making the kids, or the staff monsters. Really, as monstrous as some of the actions on hand, no one becomes cartoonish, just, well, caricaturish. HAHA. Williams is wonderfully reserved here and the film works because he wants so badly to be a good person, a good father, a good lover, a good writer, and a good teacher but in trying to do the right thing he manages to damn himself to a new circle of Hell.

I really adore this film. It does SO much that is right – sad but not sentimental, funny but not ridiculous, and dark but not without hope. What the movie says is that sometimes even the worst of circumstances, and worst of sins can bring us to a place where the world isn’t nearly as grim as we once thought it was. A place where we can finally find ourselves and like what we find.

8.5 out of 10

Your Dust – a story

0

   I had mentioned recently the notion of drafts and how a story forms and is changed through writing drafts so, in that spirit, I offer you the first draft of a new story. This was a story that came to me, as most do, with a fleeting notion of someone not being able to move on after the death of a loved on. The idea came during a movie and was the notion of someone’s ‘dust’ being on you after they die, as their invisible fingerprints are on your heart after people leave your life. The notion of being haunted and having that person’s ‘dust’ on you really stuck with me, as did the other conceit in the story, which you’ll see. This is the first draft so this is what it looks like when a story is fresh from the oven, before I go over it again. It’s not much, and is just a glimpse, but it’s a glimpse into the process. When I edit it I will post that as well.  And if you dig this, check out my book This Beautiful Darkness.

Your Dust

I am surrounded by your dust. The air, my clothes, the things both mine and yours are coated with the ashes of my memory for you and the whispers of your thoughts. I awake every morning to find your dust in the corners of my eyes, on the tip of my tongue, and on the palms of my hands. I roll over in bed and find your shape there, an outlined death shroud where your body should be. I rise, wiping your remains from me and wipe you away yet again, brushing you away even though I know you’ll return while I sleep. Knowing that even when I nap you are here, walking through what had once been our dream home, your tears falling as dust that covers even the floor. Waking to breathe you in, to catch your faint scent in the air, as if you have just left the room, and sometimes even catching your shadow as it recedes into darkness once more.

I am trapped in the mausoleum of my memory of you.

And how do you live? How do you go on when the person you love is gone but not completely? When you hear their footsteps as you sleep, and can feel their breath on you as you awake? How do you move on when you hear their voice calling to you in your dreams? How do you move on when you are covered in their dust?

I fought you at first. I fought you and your memory. In alcohol, in pills, in dreams, in mindlessness but in the end you were there, always there, always waiting for me in the darkness. Waiting for me to fulfill my promise of forever. I fought you as I dusted every day, sweeping you up and away, and removing every trace of you. I threw out your makeup. I burned your clothes. I donated everything you had ever had and loved. Piece by piece I pulled you from my life I removed every piece of you, everything save one thing, your wedding dress, which I could never bring myself to destroy, the scent of you on it still strong, and the memory of that day too clear. I find every moment is spent thinking of you, your shadow long on me, as the cold of your death runs deep through me, as if it has replaced my blood. I remember waking within your shadow and seeing you, and how much you hated me, hated that I lived, that I hadn’t joined you, and when I finally broke free how I vomited until there was nothing but dust left in me.

And I fought you until there was nothing left to fight but doubt. And I needed to know. Needed to know if I was as crazy as everyone told me I was or if you were still here, with me, waiting for me to finally give in to you, to the dust, and to just go to sleep forever. Friends. Family. Work. Nothing mattered but you. Nothing mattered but the proof of you.

Proof.

I bought three cameras, one for the bedroom, one for the living room, and one for the kitchen, the three places you loved most in the house. You never much cared for the attic, saying it was creepy, and always told me that the basement was ‘boys only’. I had never found your dust there, or any sign of you there so I focused on the places I knew you had been. Knew you’d be. I borrowed a tripod for the camera in the bedroom and the other two I just made sure to place on shelves or tables where there was a good view. After the cameras were set up I locked all the doors and windows, took the phone off the hook and turned my cell phone off, made sure there was no sound to wake me, took three sleeping pills, and set the cameras before turning in. I wanted to capture you. To catch you. To find the source of the dust that has been coating me with your memory. If it was you, if it was you then, Christ I dunno what. I dunno what I would do. But if it was not you, if it was something else imitating you to fool me then god help them. God help them.

And I slept.

And I dreamt.

And when I dreamt your hand was in my own and there was warmth and light and eternity. And we were free.

I awoke to your dust, and to the darkness, and to a heartache that doubled me over with grief. It took me an hour to unfold myself and find the bedside lamp, hoping in vain you might return to take me with you, knowing that that moment, that time I would go with you to wherever you took me. Heaven or Hell, it mattered little as long as I was with you. But with the cold light of reality on, there was only me in the bed, naked and alone and covered in sweat, tears, and dust. I rose slowly, reluctantly to check the proof.

The proof…

I found my ghost, I found it and knew it for what it was – a ghost. Only, the ghost was me. I awoke in the middle of the night, slowly rising and moving through the house from room to room, looking for what I could not imagine. Wandering away from the camera’s eye and returning a few minutes later with bloody hands and with your wedding dress on, it hanging awkwardly, almost grotesquely from my frame. I stalked from room to room, looking for something searching, my head cocked to one side as the blood on my hands darkened from red to brown to black. At one point I stopped in the bedroom and turned to the camera and bent towards it and smiled into it for five minutes before standing up again and wandering out into the living room and then disappearing down the hall. I must have gone into the attic but I cannot be sure. I know I was gone for a while. When I returned it was fifteen minutes before I woke up and the blood was gone, as was the dress, but the distant look was still there, the haunted look, and I moved to the bedroom and stood there in the doorway for a few minutes before moving back to my bed. I was talking to myself but I couldn’t figure out what I was saying so I played and replayed that part. Over and over and over and over until finally, at the loudest volume I caught what I was saying.

I wish I hadn’t.

“Release…me…”

And the voice that came was not my own but hers, pleading with me. And just as I moved into the bed I caught a shadow moving against the darkness, near the doorway, a shadow that was barely visible in the night vision but which was there and then gone. And then I awoke. It took me a while to recover from the shock of what the tapes showed, to really let it sink into me and even then I wasn’t sure what it was I had seen or heard. I wandered naked through my house looking for clues as to what I had been doing and found nothing on the first floor so I moved down into the basement. In the basement there was one drop of blood in the far corner where the light barely reaches, one drop and no more so I moved to the attic. Even approaching the attic I felt dread filling me. I looked up at the string that pulled the steps down and saw her dust all over the panel that hid the stairs and attic and my heart began racing. I pulled the rope and the groan from the stairs startled a scream from me. The stairs hung half way down and the cold air of the attic slipped down and embraced me as I stood there frozen in place.
What would I find up there?

What was waiting in that darkness?

What lived in me that was holding her here, trapped in the shadow and dust of my own memory. Oh she was here, that much was clear, here, trapped in me, trapped in the cage of my obsession. And how many nights had I done as I did last night – haunting myself as her, as if I was her ghost? I looked down at myself again and again saw no blood. No blood. So where had it come from? And where had it gone? She had drowned in the pool at the gym. A freak accident when she dove in and hit her head. No one noticed her until she was brain dead. What blood there had been was little. So whose blood had been on me? And where did it go?

I heard something move upstairs and looked up in time to see a shadow hovering near the edge of the entrance before it moved back into the darkness. And what was in that darkness, and what did it want? I let the string slip from my hand and it rose back and inch, then another, then another and on until the string was hanging free again and the panel was flush with the ceiling. Above me I heard something moving hurriedly around the entrance before receding towards the back of the house. Something fell with a crash and there was a moan. I was shaking and backed away from the attic. And as I looked up, watching the attic’s panel, waiting for it to open to reveal whatever lay in wait upstairs I realized that the dust, the dust I had been seeing all this time was no dust at all but blood. Blood dried to brown and dried so thick it came off in powder. Release me. And was it her voice, really, or was that another trick being played? Another lie.

What if it was me, begging to be released?

And the cold gripped me then, and I looked around this house that was no home. I looked at this place where we had been so happy, this place I had made a tomb, where the mail and newspaper were stacked in piles around the front door, where clothes and trash were piled on the floor, and where I had walled myself in with misery as I prayed to my dead wife. I stumbled into the living room and saw her picture, a picture of her before she had met me, of her as a single woman alone in the world and happy with her place in it. Alive and happy. And beside it stood our wedding photo and there we were, both smiling into each other’s mouths as we kissed. She was just as happy, and, maybe, maybe happier, and she was with him. I looked into the mirror and what I saw was a ghost – I had lost weight, my eyes were surrounded by black circles, and I looked as if I hadn’t washed in days. I grabbed up a pair of pants and shirt and put them on absently. I was dead, I was dead and I had died the day she had. I was dead and had brought something home from her funeral and it wasn’t her. It was something that was sucking the life from me moment by moment as it hid behind the memories of my wife. I grabbed my car keys and wallet, slid my flip flops on and turned to look at the house. Everywhere I looked there was dust, my dust, covering everything. Above me something was stalking back and forth, waiting to see what I would do and I knew that if I waited, if I waited much longer that the attic would open, the stairs would fall, and I would find out just what had returned from the cemetery with me. I would fall asleep again and this time might never wake up. I turned and opened the front door of the house, the place she and I had made love so many times, had laughed so often, and had woven our dreams together, this place that was now my own grave, and I left, vowing never to return. And slowly, very slowly, I shook the dust of her death from my life.

A Pwesent…

0

A good friend of mine is a year older today so I painted him a silly portrait of a monster with either no neck, or an invisible neck. YOU decide. Did it in acrylic. I think he’s pretty fun. I mean, he DOES wear a monocle!

It’s All In the Draft…

0

Of late I have been having a pretty fun time listening to the demo recordings of a band I dig on which has broken up. After they broke up they decided to release a lot of demo tracks and unreleased songs for free online and it’s been fascinating to see where songs I know and love began and to see how they evolved. I admire the hell out of the band for releasing these songs because it’s rare when we fans get a glimpse into the making of the art that we love so dearly. Alas, music is one of the very rare arts that you see this happen, which got me to thinking about what I do, and the various versions that roll down the river before they become what they are.

For writing, the most important part of the process is most times in the editing. If you are open to them, ideas are all over the place so inspiration, while not always right in front of us, is there for us to find but when you are writing the stories really become more than skeletons in the editing process. It is in editing that you can connect dots that may have been forgotten, can add more shading to characters, can flesh them out, and can take the time to look at the piece as a whole and see what works, what doesn’t, and how you can connect the two things. For me, this is certainly true, and the best example I can think of comes in the form of the upcoming book The Meep Sheep, which really evolved over time. The biggest changes came in the last story I wrote for the book, which was to take what I had done before and to expand it and bring it all to a conclusion. Character motivations changed, characters were beefed up, more action and suspense was added, and the nature of the book as a whole changed as I went about the process of creating the book. You see, when I had the idea for the last story, which came well before I got about writing it, I had a lot of ideas about what I wanted to do, but over time it changed. I looked at the book, looked at the characters, and looked at the themes and re-thought them. It was interesting to see how much changed from the draft to the final version of the final story. Heck, the entire book changed as I edited it all a last time. When seen as a whole it had to flow in a different way than the stories did before, when they stood alone. They all had to be linked, by themes, by characters, and by moments, and that had to come together in the editing.

I always wonder how interesting it would be to see the books we love in their various forms. Sure, there are a few books out there where you can get a taste of it, books that were not completed at the time of the author’s death, or works that were found well after death. But how interesting would it be to see a complete work, the notes and ideas that started it, the early draft, the final draft, and notes on what changed and why. I think it’d be a fascinating look into the process and very magic of writing. And I mean magic.

For me, writing is magic because I cannot tell a story, recite a story to a recorder and have it be as effective as it is when I write it. There is some strange magic that happens between the brain and the hands and when I am writing the stories almost appear, as if from a spell. Hand in hand with that is editing, where a story that is not very good, and feels false, can be cleaned up, re-dressed, and in many cases raised from the dead.

Now, the question would become for us – is the magic in the work lost when the wizard is revealed behind the curtain? I dunno. Perhaps. Perhaps seeing how art, how books, come together would ruin the mystery for the fans. Or perhaps it would give them a better appreciation of what the ‘craft’ is that so many writers talk about. Maybe even seeing the wizard behind the curtain we’d still marvel at the wonders they did, and how they did them, just the same.

- c