Silly Grins

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dates, Fun, & Dancing

Dates, Fun, & Dancing:
And Other Not-so-innocent Horror Stories

A little more than a decade ago, the King put together a collection of stories. The order in which the stories appear in his book was dictated by a stack of cards that he dealt to himself in a solitary sort of spontaneous tarot ritual. Apparently, it worked.

From the cover of Everything's Eventual

One of the things I remember from that collection of stories was the voice in the foreword. The introduction mentions something it refers to as the practice of an almost lost art. 

Here's a peripheral slip-thought to entertain.

Maybe the best things in life are those that induce overwhelming feelings of apprehension. There is one particular sensation that can be described as a perpetual state of almost losing. There's a rush that comes with realizing that we’ve got to do something. And quick. Yes, quick, before the bitter-sweet 'oh-my-god-it-might-be-too-late' feeling has us drooling all over the place. Okay, maybe just me. 

In the introduction, Stephen talks about the almost lost art of short stories. Yeah, short stories. Short stories that are understood as one-of-a-kind items only found in artisan’s shops. But these stories are not given out to just anybody. Short story artisans only deal to those who have the patience of a connoisseur and strength to keep their addiction demons in line. Each tale holds the potential for a jump to a place that gives a hyper-space kind of high:

Those jumps to warp speed take us a little further out than we’ve ever been before. But the reward is only for those who can wait. Patiently.

Blogs, blogging, or reading blogs can be like that.
Okay, maybe it is just me. Or not.

Back to the book.

Somewhere in those first few pages of foreplay, there’s mention of discreet, yet fancy, airport lounges populated by handsomely-suited husbands well versed in powerful and persuasive lies from the canon of busy-busy businessmen literature such as The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Cheese Movers. Always on the move, those business-minded husbands are already dressed up for their undertaking - that which awaits those who are rush-rushing toward their 401(k) heart-attacks, promising rewards for their wives who obliviously know better. Wives whose passionate vows tend to sound something like, “Till death do us part, dahhhling!”

In trying to keep with the 'eco' spirit of ISO 14001, 
my wife has been instructed to only attempt a resuscitation on me 
with a solar-charged AED. Either that or a blow-job.

Busy people, shorter stories, and that nasty-bad habit of blogging. 

Look, the trash-to-treasure ratio (T3) in the blogosphere’s asteroid belt is pretty daunting. It seems like at least half the people drifting out (t)here are hoping for that big lottery win, the chance discovery that makes them rich, famous, and shameless. Sometimes I wonder why the cyber-space jockeys (junkies?) don’t quit while they are already ahead by one. The mere aspiration for shamelessness is more than enough for me. 

Just ask Wifey.
"See...she's telling me I'm a 'winner'!"

Which brings our orbit back to the point of this post. 

Everything…literally everything that I come across, whether I want it to or not, has the potential to weave itself into a fantastical soil-your-loins kind of scary story. Without even having to think, it just happens. The mind has an annoying habit of making connections where there are none. That's why I wear diapers from time to time. Not just for the bragging rights either.

Look. Gotta level with ya.

All of this 'joking' is really my way of trying to make light of when I relapsed and put myself through one of those more subtle moments of horror. A moment drifted up roughly a year after March 11, 2011. A rare instance when everything s-l-o-w-e-d waaaay down. In an instant, the spin and pull of gravity was suddenly hard to escape. I couldn't run. No, not a dream.

Feeling the creep of getting ready to almost lose something, I consciously noted that my feet were tingling, that sweat was beginning to collect on my forehead, and my heart was beating in my throat...because the weight in hand felt just about too right.

One of voices in my head, one that wasn't laughing, screamed "Tell me this isn't fucking happening!" The following internal dialogue came after a few longer moments of nervous silence.

Edges, Weight, and a Beckoning Whisper

Below are the three tarot cards from what started out as a sunny, once-upon-a-walk-along-the-beach kind of afternoon:

I. Edges
One was missing...
"Hey, let yourself go. Just go with it." I was telling myself, "The coolest stuff washes up on shore all the time. Picking up other people's garbage can be fun. We can make it a game. C'mon give it a try. Everything's a clue. All you have to do is just figure out what happened. See..."

II. Weight
The glove that was not empty...

No, that tattered glove was not empty. I thought it was. But when I reached down to grab it, everything was suddenly 3-D and technicolor. Tingling, sweating, hard to swallow, what the fuuuh...? I'm sinking. I could feel the weight of some hapless fisherman's hand who'd been unlucky enough to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. The high tides had brought this ashore. The dead-fish handshake was ebbing. An hourglass of sand started spilling from the glove's wrist. I went ahead and tipped it up, to empty whatever might have been lodged in there, giving it just the right amount of weight. was light as a feather. Son-of-a-bitch. That son of a bitch! 

On the way home, an odd combination of discards had me distracted. Anything to take my mind off of what I'd almost seen. 

And there he was again.

III. Beckoning whisper
It looks kind of dark down there...

* * * * *

Well, it freaked me out. 

I'd really hate the guy if he didn't have such a messed up sense of humor.



  1. Glad the remnants didn't spill out all over you.
    Mr King lives in my old old stomping grounds and there are a lot of sites that never reach escape velocity and I cannot figure out why. Quality would seem to be the most important thing but it is apparently not.

    1. In a way, I was embarrassed that they didn't. There was a lot of internal pressure so the imagination had kind of gone off on its own into overdrive. All better now. No drama.

  2. "the trash-to-treasure ratio (T3) in the blogosphere’s asteroid belt is pretty daunting"

    The Long Tail, the 80/20 Rule, Pareto Principle, Sturgeon's Law. Call it what you will. T3's nice, but the ratio's like that everywhere, whit everything.

    The blogoshpere means that more people get a voice. That's good. But then there's always the issue of quality control. Not everyone has a voice worth hearing.

    I knew of Tim Curry's other work before I saw It. Unfortunately it lessens the impact somewhat if you can only think of Pennywise as an incorrigible ham. Should probably read the book...

    1. Yeah. More voices for people is most definitely good. Quality control...I'm glad to be able to more or less set up my own filter. Personally, I'm not as interested in the voices as much as the messages.

      Tim Curry...I like him, but I was unwilling to sit through IT. Books, especially King's macabre tales, are almost always much better read than seen. So much of what was great about IT was getting to know the kids before they decided to go anywhere near Pennywise. Definitely worth a borrow from the library. With his stories, it's mostly always an exciting journey. His endings are kind of hard to like, but he gets a pass on those.

  3. Resuscitation BJs... If they're an option, I might rescind that DNR order I've got going.

    One person's treasure is another's trash... Sometimes it's beautiful to see someone super mediocre come out of nowhere and do something at a much higher level. But, when it comes to creating, if you don't do it for the love of it, you're just fucking yourself out of some quantity of precious moments that could've belonged to your life.

    You meaning 'you' in the general sense...

    1. Read a horror story about the resurrection game in Japan where a young, obviously proud, and perhaps a little giddy doctor said something like, "We were able to resuscitate the patient not only two, but three times before before they eventually flat-lined." (Thought it might have been 3-4, but memory tends to exaggerate as a way of making sure I don't forget.)

      Always for love, which reminds me, on page XV, the King might have been talking about poetry with the T3R. Either way, he brought the conversation back 'round to short stories and not 'selling out' (something his harsher critics may have screamed...but I didn't see or hear anything).

      Happen to be reading "Riding the Bullet", a story that ties in with DNR and all that. Can't quite remember if the kid's mom died or not. She was fat, two years shy of fifty, a workhorse, and loved her cigarettes.

      Kind of fun. Tempted to go out and look for an abandoned copy of Night Shift.

    2. Jerusalem's Lot is by far my favorite story in that collection...

    3. Like the first part in the prologue to 'Salem's Lot, xii, only with my own voice mixed in:

      Warmer than the eastern side of the Pacific, and somewhat friendlier, the water holds no memories. Living well enough to eat our three square meals a day, and keeping a solid roof over their head, this man is not depressed. But the land is beginning to grow on me as the good people around me die.

      In the middle of the night, I don't quite wake up screaming. I think the people here live so close because they are afraid of the unearthly quiet. Maybe that's why folks seem to yell at each other for such empty reasons.

      Our northern neighbor is a good man. His appetite is gone and judging by the look on his kind wife's face this morning, the odds of him checking out of the hospital are slim.

      Land carries scars longer.
      Water is always changing.