Friday, March 30, 2012
When my mother was younger, she worked for a non-profit agency that provided services to low income people in a very rural part of Kentucky. This was back in the mid-seventies, and even then there were still many people in Kentucky who lived on family farms without electricity, running water or other utilities (and it is still like this, unfortunately, in many rural parts of the state).
My mother's job was to travel around a two county area checking up on people and trying to help them if they needed it. Most of the people she dealt with were elderly. It was a time when more and more young people were leaving either for college, or for work in larger urban areas (Lexington, Richmond, or even Cincinnati), leaving the older people alone in these rotting shacks without most things we consider basic...
A phone, ringing in the dark. Bllllllrrrrrrring.
The man sat up and reached for the nagging sound on the small table beside him, found the handset. He coughed a smoker's cough and said, "Yeah? Hello?".
The voice on the other end was quivering with contained excitement. It went on for some time, and the man listened to it raptly in the dark, not interrupting. Just ... absorbing. The enormity of it all. The enormity...
"I'll come right away. Right now." He didn't bother hanging up the phone, just tossed it aside into the blackness to his right as he slid out of the bed. His mind was awake and alert and surging like a stallion at the reins. His body prickled in gooseflesh.
This was it. This was what they had all been waiting for; none of them ever believing that it would ever happen within their careers or lifetimes, really, but always hoping and dreaming and planning for it. This was it, and nothing was ever going to be the same again...
It was her. The woman he has longed for ever since they have met some months ago. The woman whom he could never truly have.
He watched her for a long time, not quite knowing how to ask what was on his mind. He decided to go with straight forward and inquired.
- So… How many boyfriends have you had?
- Many. – she answered nonchalantly...
Thursday, March 29, 2012
A Soul In Tension
The Nick Of Time (and other abrasions)
You Never Give Me Your Money
Al Bruno III
The entity was inscrutable and beyond time. It had no true name but Jason Magwier had taken to calling it a serendipity spirit.
When Magwier summoned the entity it came eagerly because his summonings were never boring or cruel. Angel to some, demon to others, it danced across the Seven Layers of Reality crafting a skein of luck and coincidence based off the grooves on a record album first pressed in 1969.
With practiced ease it drew the chosen individuals to the chosen location, placed ideas in their heads and scraps of lyric in their mouths. It bent reality back upon itself until it was able to hear the conversation that began it all...
Most potential clients are discouraged to learn that the deadliest assassin of the hidden world lives in a trailer park in Albany. Those that still seek him out find the trailer in question was not quite a meth lab and not quite a daycare.
This day, ten days before the lingering death of Constable Rhoden Lunt, a potential client stood knee deep in the piles of filthy toys and jars half-filled with chemical detritus and waited.
After nearly half an hour Dr. Flesh looked up from the tome of forbidden lore he was reading and glared at her from over his hexagon-rimmed glasses, “What do you want from me?”
“Death,” the potential client began, “the death and mutilation of an entire bloodline.”
“Any family in particular?”
Dr. Flesh folded over the corner of the page he was reading and set the grimoire atop an unopened box of baby wipes, “A big family. Powerful rich and spread across the world. That’s years of work. You can’t afford it.”
“Doesn’t matter,” Dr. Flesh made a big show of lighting a cigarette. He threw the match aside carelessly, it landed between an empty propane tank and an overflowing diaper genie.
The potential client sat down on a nearby pet carrier, snatched the cigarette from the deadly assassin’s mouth and inhaled smoke, “The Lunts in Olathoe are what concern me. One city. One night. One bloodline.”
Dr. Flesh nodded approvingly and took the half spent cigarette back, “Very old testament.”
“I'm told you’ve done this kind of thing before.”
“I have. I've also cured male pattern baldness but no one ever seems to mention that.”
An argument had begun in one of the neighboring trailers, a single shouting voice became two, then three. When the sound of smashing glass and crockery began Dr. Flesh chuckled “Listen to them, children of the night. What music they make.”
“I am aware of your standard rates of payment for an undertaking of this nature,” the potential client said.
“I damn well hope so.”
“And I am prepared to double it.”
“Double it?” Dr. Flesh’s pale eyebrows raised, “You really are royalty.”
The potential client offered a padded envelope only to have it waved away.
“You never give me your money.” Dr. Flesh said, “Not until the contract is complete. I’m a killer not a whore.”
“Very well,” the client nodded. “I know you haven’t been to Olathoe in some time so I brought along names and locations.”
“Unnecessary,” he kicked a path to the wide, slumping bed at the other end of the trailer and pulled a suitcase from beneath it.
“Then how will you find them?”
Unzipping the baggage revealed a tangle of old clothes. Inside one of the suit jackets was a phial made from dark red glass, “If your majesty wants the Lunts to die in droves on a particular night then why go to them when they can come to me?”
“I don’t understand.”
“What are they teaching you kids in school?” Dr. Flesh gave the phial a playful shake, something squirmed miserably inside, “This is a jultomten. Haven’t you heard of them?”
“You mean a Demon of If?” the client smiled with understanding.
“Is that what they’re calling them now?”
Demon of If.
The entity had been all of these things and more, it had been all of these places and none of them. It still ached from the way Jack Diamond had torn it roughly from the realms of dream and magic, it burned with anger over being imprisoned in a suitcase for fifteen years, it did this even as it shivered in time with the drumbeats of the third song on the second side of the Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’.
In that moment that was forever it understood that there were going to be three red glass phials in the same room at the same time.
And it knew that one moment would change everything forever.
(Insane News) Man Jumps On Police Car Wearing A Sombrero And Boxing Gloves.. also takes great mug shot.
Sacramento police said an officer was sitting in a patrol car in the 2600 block of Fairfield Street in the Noralto neighborhood about 1 a.m. this morning when a man walked up and leaped upon the hood of the vehicle.
He then yelled his own name, jumped down and ran away. The jumper was easy to search for because he was described as wearing a dark puffy jacket, a sombrero and a boxing glove on one hand...
Now this sounds very promising indeed. It’s just come to light (well, the interview in question has been online a couple of weeks, but still) that talks are underway for a TV series of 1990′s cult favourite Nightbreed. For those that need reminding, Clive Barker’s second and to date penultimate directorial effort, adapted from his novel Cabal, tells the tale of Aaron Boone, a troubled soul and possible serial killer, who finds himself drawn to Midian, a fabled subterranean city of monsters. It’s a tremendous premise that makes for a great read in Cabal, but unfortunately Nightbreed is a less than stellar film, owing at least in part to well-documented behind the scenes issues. It also ended in such a way as to launch an ongoing series of stories which to date has not materialised on the page or the screen. As such it’s ripe for revisitation in one medium or other, and TV seems like a really good fit...
To learn more visit BRUTAL AS HELL
Those of you following along with my work may notice that I have had a few setbacks while working on Route d'abbaye.
I think I figured out that the problem is that the term DEMON OF MERCY in track seven should have been DEMON OF IF.
Once I found that everything started to fall into place again.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
To find out where he is playing stop by his FACEBOOK page
I recently posted about new and upcoming Lovecraftian-themed movies (oh, and don't waste your time or money on Melancholia, by the way). So, speaking of that, I just finished watching Absentia. I was blown away. It's safe to say that I am constantly disappointed by horror movies these days. Most movies cost millions to produce, and they're crap. In fact, most low budget direct-to-DVD movies are crap. Film-makers confuse horror with gore so much that it's becoming a cliche to say so. But it's still true...
First the article...
Now my personal anecdote
My missus and I had just moved to Florida and the first place we visited was SeaWorld.
Again the killer whales were my main source of facination- again I blame that damned Richard Harris movie- imagine that Tilkum was found using a homeless stoner as a play toy the very next day...
If you're not the type to keep up with ugly, soul-killing political controversies, let me catch you up: A while back, hugely popular political commentator Rush Limbaugh lost a bunch of advertisers because he publicly called a college girl a slut and a prostitute after she suggested that health insurance plans should cover birth control. But he's paid to say outrageous things. If you really want to feel all dead inside, you need to listen to what the regular folk were saying. For instance, on crazy political message board FreeRepublic.com, posters referred to the girl in the above-referenced story (Sandra Fluke) as a "Nasty, disease-ridden plodding uterus, an utter skank crack-ho filthy whore, a prostitute slutbag juice-receptacle" and a "Sperm-burpin' gutter slut," and said she "... is so encrusted and used, that I had to throw out my flat-panel TV because her appearance on my TV infected it with AIDS, gonorrhea and syphilis." There are many, many more worse comments collected here and here and here.
Now go to the front page of any mostly male discussion site like Reddit.com and see how many inches you can browse before finding several thousand men bemoaning how all women are gold-digging whores (7,500 upvotes) and how crazy and irrational women are (9,659 upvotes) and how horrible and gross and fat women are (4,000 upvotes). Or browse the "Men's Rights" section and see weird fantasies about alpha males defeating all the hot women who try to control them with their vaginas. This current of white-hot rage has to come as a surprise to some of you, because we tend to think "sexism" is being dismissive toward women, or paying them lower salaries -- we don't think of it as frenzied "burn the witch!" hatred. Yet occasionally something like this Limbaugh thing will come along to prick that balloon, and out it pours. Like it's always waiting there, a millimeter below the surface. Why? Well, you see...
THE COLD INSIDE
By AL BRUNO III
Wednesday November 9, 1994
Workdays at the Carvale Home for the Elderly and Infirm went by quickly. Carol Bloom’s time was divided between irregular staff meetings and the consumers she saw each day. Whatever free moments she had were filled with paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork. At least she got an hour for lunch, that was something, at her old job she had been so busy she had to skip lunch or eat while she worked. For now lunch was over and she was walking the drably painted halls with Grace Lumley, the Nurse Practitioner that for all intents and purposes ran the Carvale Home.
“...now of course that he’s gotten a whiff of the Medicaid money, he wants to increase yours and PE’s workload as much as he can,” Grace noticed one of the overhead florescent lights was out and paused to make a note in the pad of paper she carried in her pocket, frowning as she wrote.
Carol waited for her to finish scribbling before she spoke, “Well I can’t speak for Bill but I’m stretched to the limit.”
“You think he cares? As far as he’s concerned if you or Bill give him any lip he’ll just replace you with some kid fresh out of college for a fraction of what he pays you.”
“He wouldn’t-” They rounded the hallway, pausing to peer in the main cafeteria. Clean up was almost done, it was almost time to get the area ready for arts and crafts. That was always a favorite with the more able-bodied patients. There was a smear of something on one of the windows. “Is that food?”
“I hope so.”
“Wonder if maintenance will notice it.”
“We’ll see.” Grace wrote in her notepad and started walking again, “They better.”
From the windows they could see the long black hearse labeled Crawford Funeral Parlor double-parked near the rear exit. “We lost someone,” Grace said. The Carvale home had been doing business this way for years. If the patient hadn’t already made arrangements Crawford Funeral was always called in to handle the details.
“Mr. Krawl in 302. The Sleeper strikes again,” Grace shook her head and kept walking, pausing momentarily to note a sticky spot on the floor.
Attendants and orderlies passed them in the hallway, some nodding and smiling, some avoiding eye contact, “You don’t believe that do you?”
“Carol. I’ve been here since nineteen eighty-nine, so has the Sleeper, and every roommate we’ve ever given him has expired within six weeks.”
“Our patients don’t always come to us in the best of health.”
“All I know is what I’ve seen. That thing in the hospital bed has been here longer than any of the staff and his room and board have been paid for until the millennium.”
“The Sleeper has family?”
One of the paintings that decorated the walls was hanging askew, Grace spent a few moments straightening it. She tended to sweat the little amenities like working light bulbs and clean windows because they were the kind of things that other local nursing homes neglected. That was probably why the Carvale Home was so highly regarded, that was also probably why Grace had one Hell of an ulcer. “They pay anonymously, some kind of trust fund thing. I’ve only spoken to the guy on the phone once.”
“I warned the new director not to give the Sleeper another roommate but all he cares about is packing in the patients. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He thinks he can run this place like a cheap motel.” Grace shook her head, “The best thing we can do is keep our heads down and muddle through, he’ll learn how things are done around here, or he’ll be out the door.”
Carol nodded appreciatively, “I’d love to know how he ended up in charge.”
“Same way you got your job, inside connections.”
“I resent that,” Carol stopped dead in her tracks, the blood rising to her face.
Grace gave her a disbelieving laugh “Hey lighten up.”
“I didn’t think it was very funny I work pretty hard here. Maybe I didn’t come here under the best of circumstances-”
Grace waved her hand dismissively, “Oh God not again. Carol, I’m your friend. I’m one of the few friends you’ve got here.”
“I- Maybe I should just get to work before I say something we both regret,” Carol headed back to her cramped little office.
“All right.” Grace called after her, “Sorry.”
With her office door closed behind her Carol Bloom made a fist and cursed. Every time she started to feel like she had earned her place here someone jerked the carpet out from under her.
Inside connections. She hated it but it was true- her ex-husband had gotten her this job. Almost sixteen years after the divorce and he was still doing her favors but always with a litany of complaints. He loved to play the martyr but the alimony was generous and mostly paid on time. For God’s sakes he was footing the bill to send both her children to Blessed Heart and Pam wasn’t even his stepdaughter anymore!
The problem was that everything with him had a price tag.
This job was a perfect example of that. She had struggled for years working for a company that sent her on a series of house calls that had her working twelve hours a day and driving out to locations as far away as Massachusetts. When she made the mistake of asking her supervisor for a cost of living increase in her wages he’d laid her off. Three weeks of searching for a new job and dodging creditors sent her pleading to her ex-husband for a loan. Gawain had done more than give her a loan, he arranged for the Carvale Home for the Elderly and Infirm to fire the long standing and well-loved Occupational Therapist and hire her.
Needless to say it made her reception here a frosty one.
There was a trio of manila folders on her desk, she sat down and leafed half-heartedly through them. The bottom folder was for Lucille Dowd, a stroke victim that had been living at the Carvale Home for almost two years now. She was strong and determined. Lucille’s husband, Phillip Dowd came to see her every day, he was sweet and helpful and full of questions. Carol liked them both.
Except that Phillip and his wife were not the people they said they were. They had been Federal Agents until one night over thirty years ago when they had embezzled nearly a million dollars from the government and gone into hiding.
For some reason her ex-husband was interested in them and he’d gotten her a job here so she could spy on them. It made her feel dirty to do it but she needed this job, she depended on it. Every week her ex-husband called her for an update of Lucille Dowd’s condition.
The phone jangled to life, she let it ring a few times before she answered it, “Hello?”
“Carol,” her ex-husband’s voice was a haggard baritone, “it’s me.”
“Same as before.”
“Hey- what time are you coming to pick up Tristam?”
“Oh God I forgot.”
“You’re still coming aren’t you?”
“Carol, I’m not even on the East Coast. Can you break the news to him?”
“Me?” Her knuckles whitened around the receiver.
Not all album covers display this level of subtle coolness. In fact, more often than not, it's brazen machismo to an absurd degree. So, let's all get down on one knee and pay homage to these old-school vinyl super studs. Enjoy!
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Monday, March 26, 2012
Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Still Not Quite What They’re Looking For
My friends and I left Midnight Video without renting anything and considering the movie I had chosen was title Willie Wanker and the Fudge Factory I’m OK with that.
Life went on. I had no steady work schedule, some weeks I would work 30 hours, others only 12. Good thing I was on my stepfather’s medical insurance huh?
Even though my schedule didn’t have much of a rhythm to it my days and nights at Ivanhoe Books Incorporated did. Part of my shift would be spent running the register, the rest checking in and shelving books. There was always some new display of shelving arrangement that corporate wanted us to try out, and if here wasn’t the manager always left us a long list of things she wanted cleaned and dusted.
For someone with so much to do I sure spent a lot of time goofing off.
Frank and I were hiding away in the stock room- supposedly working but mostly just playing air guitar to my Iron Maiden mix tape.
“Get anything published yet?” He asked when the song ended.
“No but I’ve been getting some very positive rejections.” I said that all the time back then. I still don’t know what it means now.
Frank pulled a shoddy looking hardcover from his locker, “I have my latest published work here. I scored a place in this year’s Hudson Valley Poetry Hoedown.
“Wow.” I tried to keep the seething jealousy from voice, “You really did it.”
The cover was falling off, the pages were thin and brittle, the ink was gray instead of black. Frank was beaming with pride but I couldn’t help but notice that the Necromonicon sported better production than the Hudson Valley Poetry Hoedown.
“My poem is called The Shattered Perspective Of The Secondhand Kaleidoscope of God.”
“That’s a pretty eye-catching title.” I admitted. I mean it sure wasn’t on the same level as Willie Wanker and the Fudge Factory but it worked.
The poem itself however did not work. it was a string of confusing metaphors and broken rhymes all wrapped up in a neat bow of schizophrenic pretension. Thankfully Frank mistook the look of dismay spreading across my features for artistic rapture.
“Great isn’t it?” He said.
“It’s… translucent.” I smiled, “What did they pay?”
“These things don’t pay. They’re nonprofits dedicated to giving the new generation of poets the publicity they need.”
“I wish they had something like that for horror fiction. As it is I’m starting to feel like I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to gain admittance to a place I’ll never be good enough for.”
Frank nodded, “That just comes from being raised Catholic.”
“You may have a point,” I admitted, “But I wonder if I should try my hand at poetry instead.”
“It doesn’t hurt to try but the Hudson Valley Poetry Hoedown doesn’t take submissions from just anyone.”
“Oh,” I turned my attention back to unpacking books.
“There’s a $100 submission fee.” Frank bent back over his paperwork.
There was a knock at the door, I answered it to find a customer asking to use the bathroom.
“Ah.” I said, “Well as you can see from the sign on the door we have no public restroom but there are public facilities on the other side of the mall.
“I’m not at the other side of the mall,” the customer said testily, “I’m here and I need to use the bathroom.”
Frank tried to explain, “We don’t have a public restroom. I’m sorry but that is store policy.”
The customer considered this and replied, “If you don’t let me use the bathroom, I WILL GO RIGHT HERE ON THE GODDAMN FLOOR!”
Frank said nothing. How could he? This wasn’t the kind of thing they covered in training.
“Well?” the customer said, “What do you have to say to that?”
I cleared my throat, “Please don’t?”