With my new book, “The Ruined Man,” coming out Friday I got a little nostalgic for my journey as a writer thus far. And though “The Ruined Man” is published by Michelkin Publishing, I started out in the self-publishing world over 10 years ago.
I began my journey into the publishing industry in 2006. I had written a book called, “Absolutely True Retellings: The Saga of Shamus.” It was a YA fantasy adventure heavy on the social satire. A lot like Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. I wrote the entire thing out on legal pads sitting at coffee shops in Lubbock, Texas. I still write like that to this day except I write at coffee shops in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Shamus was the first novel I ever completed and as such, I thought it was one of the best stories ever told and I wanted the entire world to read it and love it as much as I did. I tackled the daunting task of copying everything I’d written into Word and passed it along to an English professor friend to edit it down.
After that I tried tackling the even more daunting task of finding a way to publish my book and get it in the hands of readers the world over. Now keep in mind this was the end of 2006 and the first half of 2007. The publishing industry looked quite different than it does today. Self-publishing was basically unheard of and no one in the legitimate publishing industry took it seriously. I attended seminars where I was told by agents and editors that if I decided to self-publish I would never be taken seriously in the publishing world. In short, I’d ruin any chances I had of becoming a traditionally published author.
Needless to say this terrified me. I immediately began researching how to get an agent, write a query letter and all the other hoops you have to jump through to go the “traditional route.” As I said before, the publishing industry was very different ten years ago. Readership was declining and ebooks hadn’t become popular yet. As a result most of what traditional houses were publishing were novels ghost written for celebrities and books about wizards. To complicate things further, traditional publishing houses weren’t taking on new writers like they had in the past. They tended to view unknown authors as a liability and any money spent on them was wasted. It didn’t take long to realize that even if I were to get the attention of an agent or the Big 5, they weren’t going to pay much, if any, attention to me. Marketing, promotion and getting people reading my book would all fall on me. So I said, “Fuck it.” If I had to do it all myself, I was going to do it all myself. I was done wasting my time trying any of the traditional methods of publishing either mainstream or independent.
Still put off by the stigmas of self-publishing, I started looking into vanity publishers and hybrid publishers. For those who may not know the term, a vanity publisher is a book publisher who will turn any manuscript into a book regardless of content or quality. A hybrid publisher combines elements of traditional publishing with vanity publishing. In both cases the services offered carried a hefty price tag that more often than not rose into the $10,000 range after editing fees, formatting fees, layout fees, cover design fees and a marketing package that was tagged on with the promise of helping you “promote your book.” These promotional packages mainly included kitschy bookmarks, flyers, fact sheets and the guarantee that the company would send a press release via spam mail to anyone on your contact list. I waded through countless offers from vanity publishers until I happened across a supposedly legitimate hybrid publisher called, BookPros.
Word on the web was that BookPros would only take on your project if they felt it was high quality and commercially viable. I submitted my manuscript and waited to hear from them. A BookPros representative called me a few weeks later. They told me they loved my manuscript and wanted to get started working on it immediately! I was stoked. I was elated. I was above the moon. The president of the company even got in on the call and told me what a wonderful author I was and that I was brimming with potential. I mean, what artist doesn’t want to hear that? BookPros went on to inform me that they worked closely with a professional marketing firm to promote myself and my book. I would be flown to their offices to undergo media training and the whole bit. At this point I was nearly in tears. This was everything I had been waiting to hear. Every naysayer could suck eggs, all my self deprecation would vanish in the presence of this all-powerful validation I received. My ego, properly inflated by all the flattery, agreed instantly. Then they told me all this could be mine for the low, low, discount price of $12,000. Didn’t take me long to say, “Forget that bullshit,” and resign myself to self-publishing.
Those early days of self-publishing were exciting and filled with promise, like when the bell rings on the last day of school and a summer of endless possibility is just over the horizon. And believe me, the self-publishing sites creeping around at the time were definitely taking advantage of the doe-eyed authors lining up to be the next big thing. Because that’s what they were promising—no “promising” isn’t exactly the word. They never actually told anyone they were guaranteed to be a best seller; they just failed to correct everyone’s false impressions and hopeful delusions.
Back then, we thought that if we published through a self-publishing imprint like Authorhouse or Xlibris that our books were going to end up on the shelves of every bookstore from one coast to another. Our books would be on the shelves next to Stephen King, Clive Barker, James Patterson and Michael Crichton. We thought we were going to be able to proudly tell everyone in our lives, “I published a book. And you can go to Hastings (God rest its soul) and pick up a copy!” We were wrong. Utterly and completely wrong. It came to light much later that few, if any, self-published books actually made it off the publisher’s website. Oh sure it was listed on Ingram and available for bookstores to order, but we didn’t understand what this meant. We didn’t realize that our books were being listed with everyone else’s books and that a floodgate had been opened, flooding an already struggling industry with thousands upon thousands of new books to choose from–most of them unedited, horribly formatted drivel with a terribly designed cover carrying price tags anywhere from $10 to $30. That was another thing we didn’t “get” at first. These self-publishers allowed us to set our own price and determine our own royalty payments. So the higher the cost, the more royalties we would receive. Have you ever seen a horribly designed paperback weighing in at 300 pages with a $30 retail price? I have. I’ve seen hundreds. Guess how many of them are the next big thing?
After the truth about self-publishing came out the industry got an even worse reputation. All the wannabe authors took it personally and believe me, we were furious. Self publishers were likened to charlatans selling snake oil and empty dreams. And in their ivory towers, the Big 5 sat smirking, thinking they had weathered the storm and would once again rule the roost. Turns out they were wrong, too. But hindsight is always 20/20.
During all of this, I chose Lulu as my self-publishing provider. Back then, they didn’t seem as plastic as the other self-publishing sites. They also had rigorous standards for including books on their global distribution lists. Authors could publish anything they wanted on Lulu’s site, but if it was going to Ingram it had to be considered “industry standard.” I had to submit my book for approval and have it evaluated. This added a level of legitimacy I felt the other places lacked. So I began the laborious process of putting together an industry standard book.
At the time I was working as an ISS teacher in Lubbock which afforded me ample time to work on formatting, editing and designing The Saga of Shamus. I worked on it for at least 8 hours a day for six months straight. When I wasn’t working on the book I was researching industry standards and practices trying to figure out how to get seen in the flotsam of self-published garbage that had washed up on literature’s shores in the past few years. I was proud of my book, after all. I still am I believed in it. I thought it was worthy of recognition (and I still do). I wanted to find some way—any way—to get it in the hands of people who would read it. Social media really wasn’t a thing yet so I had to get creative with my promotional opportunities. Naturally, for an author, the first thing that comes to mind is a book signing.
Alas nothing was sacred in the self-publishing industry and seemingly overnight it was awash with authors clamoring to do book signings. You couldn’t walk into any Hastings (God rest its soul), Barnes and Noble, Boarders or even down the hall of a shopping mall without coming across a self-published author peddling his books. So I jumped right in and starting slinging books with the best of them.
That experience was…ultimately an exercise in humility. People walked by purposely avoiding eye contact as if I were a bum asking for spare change. The few that did stop did so out of pity or mild interest as if I were a disabled bum asking for spare change. And the rare few who left the table with a copy usually ended up leaving it elsewhere in the store as if I were a Jehovah’s Witness handing out Watchtower pamphlets.
But that’s not to say all of it was bad. Sitting at those folding tables with copies of my book fanned out before me filled me with pride and even a sense of accomplishment. I had done what I set out to do. I self-published an industry standard book. I took control of marketing and promotion, and even if it weren’t some nationally recognized book tour; I got out there. I met people, talked to them, told them my story and did it all with a smile on my face.
My best book signing event took place in Datil, New Mexico of all places. Datil is so small that calling it a town is being dishonest. Most of the people in the area are ranchers and live a much slower paced life than their city dwelling brethren. I had gotten some illustrations done for Shamus by an artist who was from the area. When word got out that she had done illustrations for my book, the library emailed me and asked if I would be available to do a signing during their upcoming library hootenanny. I readily agreed. It was an experience unlike any other. There were more people there and interested in my book than at all my other events combined. I sold all the copies of my book that day while a band played country music in the next room. I even received my first fan gift: a small pink elephant made of glass. The context makes perfect sense if you’ve ever read The Saga of Shamus (hint, hint).
To be able to move a complete stranger with something I’d written made the struggle worth it. In the end, that’s what I took away from my adventures in publishing Shamus. When you really get down to it, we aren’t writing for ourselves. We are writing for the world. For our audience. And when we meet that audience face to face and interact with them–when we see the admiration and appreciation in their eyes a writer can’t help but walk away thinking, “I did something right. Something good. Something other people enjoy and are inspired by.” And that, friends, is what it is really all about.
Part two of the dimension hopping saga of Swifting! Enjoy!
OVERHEAD SPY SKA-TELLITE
He watched the plane take off and then got in his car. GRL_BLU had said she’d email him her info if he needed any help. He had to assume that if the Brunette knew so much about him already that she was privy to most, if not all, of his online sources of information. Hell, probably anything connected to a computer was fucked. But he had nowhere else to start. Besides, if They (and he hated using that proverbial term) knew his next move then he’d be better off seeing what his options were.
He logged into his other email account—the one kept hidden so he could keep his Swifting as low key as possible. His inbox lit up with one new message from GRL_BLU.
So yeah. Weird shit and things probably aren’t safe. But whatever. If they know, they know. Right? So here’s my number give me a call and let’s figure this out.
Kurt eyed his smart phone warily. He couldn’t trust the damn thing. Eyes and ears and photographic memory all rolled into one. Forget that. He went to Mal-Mart, bought a burner phone and dialed the number he was given. She answered on the fourth ring.
There was a long pause before a timid, “K?”
“Yeah. It’s K.”
She breathed an audible sigh of relief. “Oh thank Tiamat. Are you OK?”
“So far so good. Nothing weird yet.”
“Are you alone?”
“I am now.”
“You shouldn’t be. I can help you. Get to Albuquerque and call me again.”
“Yeah.” She hung up after that.
Albuquerque, New Mexico didn’t seem like the kind of place Kurt wanted to end up. He’d seen it on popular t.v. shows and if art imitated life in the least, he was pretty sure Albuquerque was a cesspool of crime, drugs and moral degeneracy. All of which were fascinating to watch on television but not so much to experience in real life. The upside was that it was on the way to Arizona where Esme and Bella awaited him. At this point, it was either Albuquerque or sit around and wait for the Brunette to come knocking. His gut told him this was a bad idea. He’d known GRL_BLU from the forum for over a year now. She always seemed like a cool enough person. So fuck it. Road trip it was.
He left later than night, heading out of town and north deciding on the northern interstates in an attempt to be less obvious. He made it to Madison, Wisconsin taking breaks to sleep at rest stops and paying for everything in cash. He was at a gas station browsing for chips and soda when a short, chubby bald man entered and flashed the clerk a disarming smile.
Kurt’s thoughts immediately went to his conversation with GRL_BLU just before he left and her story of Kid_Kode running into a bald guy right before he disappeared. But that was just being paranoid. Right? There were millions of bald guys in the United States. Every one of them couldn’t be working for whoever was after him. He took a deep breath, and turning to face the drink coolers, exhaled and tried to relax.
“Oh nice. Two energy drinks for five bucks,” the bald guy said and stood beside him. “You like these?”
“Huh? Oh, I don’t know. I think all energy drinks taste the same.”
“True enough,” the bald guy chuckled. “So you on a big trip?”
The question caught Kurt off guard. “How’d you know?”
“Just an educated guess.” He studied the energy drinks, unable to choose one. “I think orange and grape. What do you think?”
“I think you should learn how to make decisions by yourself. Asking strangers for advice gets people in trouble.”
The bald guy laughed. “That’s smart.”
“Yeah,” Kurt mumbled and hurried over to another isle. He was browsing the chips, trying not to look in the guy’s direction when he felt the barrel of a gun pressed into his back and hot, fetid breath on his neck whispering, “Do you know what fear is?”
Kurt froze for an instant, unsure of what to do. “I have a pretty good idea right now.”
“Fear is nothingness. Staring the void right in its empty, vapid soul and realizing that is the potential for everything. Does that not terrify you? That all of this—the whole of existence—could some day disappear into nothingness?” Kurt opened his mouth to answer but was cut off, “Don’t worry about answering. What you think doesn’t mean a damn thing. What matters is that you, Kurt, are a catalyst of said undoing. Which is why you’re coming with me.”
“Mister, what are you doing to that man?” said a child who appeared at the end of the isle, clutching a teddy bear. Her big, innocent eyes were wide with worry. “You look mad. Are you gonna hurt him?”
The Bald Guy smiled and backed away. “Why, of course not, little one. I was just talking to him. Wasn’t I?” He turned to Kurt for affirmation, but Kurt had already fled.
The Bald Guy watched from the window as his quarry got in his car and sped off, almost hitting 2 people in his frantic haste to escape. “Now look what you did little one. You let him get away.” The Bald Guy turned to give an admonishing smile to the little girl, but she too was gone.
He saw her at the counter with her mother, buying chocolate milk and pretzels, her eyes alight with joy and the uncomfortable situation already forgotten.
“You got played,” said a voice at his ear. “We had him dead to rights.”
He nodded at the Brunette’s statement. “They’re getting brazen. They must really want this one. C’mon. I’m hungry for some chicken fried steak. I saw a diner right off the I.”
Kurt drove frantically for hours, unsure and unconcerned with the direction. He stopped only when he had to get gas and stayed awake with caffeine pills and energy drinks. He hadn’t seen the Brunette or Bald Guy since Wisconsin and hoped that he had finally given them the slip. He couldn’t keep this up. Exhaustion was setting in and he had to stop for a while. Get his bearings. Figure out where he was going to go from there. He saw signs indicating Durango, Colorado was coming up and decided to stop. Durango was a quaint mountain town just across the border from New Mexico. It housed a thriving tourist industry, a small college and Ska Brewery. He really needed a good beer and Ska Brewery had always been a favorite.
He was well into his second beer and half a cheeseburger when he saw a man browsing the merchandise corner, shooting quick glances in his direction. He tried to ignore him—tell himself he was over reacting. The guy wasn’t bald. He wasn’t a hot brunette chick in disguise. Just some blonde dude who was way too tan and looked about 30. Nothing to worry about.
Until the guy walked over and said, “Hey. They have good cheeseburgers here?”
“I guess. Yeah.” Said Kurt, avoiding eye contact in hopes of making the creeper go away.
He didn’t. “Great. Gonna have to try it. The beer good too?”
“Yeah. Beer’s good too. Now if you don’t mind…”
“Right, right. See, I just drove in from Salt Lake City. Just asking some friendly tourist questions.”
“You a Mormon?”
“A Mormon. You’re from Utah, you said.”
“Not everyone from Utah is a Mormon. Besides, if I was a Mormon, you think I’d be in a bar?”
“I dunno what you religious types do. Look man—“
“Look, Jim. I’m done answering friendly questions. Now for the love of God, leave me alone!”
Jim raised his hands in mock surrender and took a few steps back. “No need to get all bent out of shape. I’m just trying–”
“Just trying to be friendly. Yeah. I get it. But if you knew what I’d been through lately you’d understand that I’m the last guy you wanna be friendly with. Now leave me alone.”
“Right. Sure.” He made like he was leaving and threw, “Women, huh?” over his shoulder.
Kurt bristled. This guy was seriously testing his patience. “What did you just say?”
“Women. Hell, whatever happened to you, it’s plain to see that a big part of it has to do with a woman.”
“Mind your fuckin’ business,” he growled while tossing some cash at the bartender and marching out the door.
Jim walked slowly and deliberately toward him as he fumbled for his keys, unable to fit them into the lock.
“Kurt. I’m one of the good guys. I’m here to help.”
Kurt dropped his keys with a curse. “Yeah right. You’re a liar like the rest.”
“The rest? You mean the Brunette and the Bald Guy? I don’t work for them. I work against them.”
Kurt paused for a second and glanced at Jim.
“I’m telling you the truth. Just calm down and come back inside. We can talk and if you don’t like what I have to say you can leave. No questions. No following you. Just…let’s talk, alright?”
Kurt stood there for a brief moment obviously struggling with the decision. “Alright. One beer. I need some answers.”
“Me and the people I work with are a conglomerate of sorts. You are aware of the existence of other universes? Parallel dimensions?”
“Of course. Bubbles within bubbles within bubbles.”
“Or cells within cells, yes? Now imagine each and every possible universe within your own is part of an even larger cell, or your prime universe, so to speak.”
“And that prime cell is only one of a countless number of cells within the whole Mind.”
“Like the mind of God?”
“If you want to call It that. Though most of us consider that kinda tacky.”
“Oh wow,” Kurt stammered as his mind was blown. “So each of these cells—these universes—exist as its own separate dimension?”
“Now you’re getting it!”
“I’ve been at it for a while. Swifting and all…”
“Ah yes. And that’s where the crux of your problem lies. You see, Swifting between universes within the same dimension is seen as normal and within the confines of the Mind’s goal. Most of the time people Swift without ever realizing it. Little shifts here and there to help their progress. It’s when violent shifts happen and people become aware that worries those that seek to harm you.”
“Why?” He didn’t ask for this. Never set out trying to Swift into different places. He didn’t understand why anyone would want to harm him.
“These anomalies like you break free of the cell. They can eventually Swift to different dimensions altogether. Places where they aren’t meant to exist. Places where their unnatural presence can irrevocably alter the Mind’s goal for that particular cell. You get it?”
“Yeah. Shit can get really messed up if we end up where we aren’t supposed to.”
“Right.” He leaned in closely. “So when did you first notice your Swifting?”
“You mean when it dawned on me? Simple. It was after I got back from a road trip to California in 2005. On the way home, we almost got hit by a train.”
“Yeah. And when we got home we found out that Billy Graham wasn’t, in fact, dead.”
“The preacher? And you remember him being dead?”
“Yeah. He died in the 90’s. President Clinton played the sax at his funeral. It was on television. I watched it with my mom. She kept saying what a great man he was. My friend that was with me remembered him dying at the same time too.”
“Interesting. Where’s your friend now?”
“Haven’t seen or heard from him in years.”
Jim nodded sagely. “He’s probably dead by now.”
“Why would you say that?”
“Look, the Mind has a way of…dealing with problems like you and your friend. You’ve already met them.”
“You mean Brunette and the Bald Guy?”
Jim nodded. “Yup. Agents of the Mind, we call them. They are specially privileged individuals who get to hop universes and dimensions enforcing the Mind’s goal.”
“Wait, are you saying the Mind is trying to kill me?”
Jim smirked and sipped his beer in reply.
“Weird how things turn out sometimes. Now as fun as our little chat was, we’ve gone over our time. You need to get back on the road. The Brunette and the Bald Guy are probably close behind if they’re not already here. You need to keep moving. Get to where you’re going.”
“What about you?”
“Don’t worry about me. I’ve been playing this cat and mouse game with these idiots for longer than I care to remember…or admit. Safe travels.” Jim walked to the bar, paid the tab and left.
Today’s bit of wise-ness comes from the Gospel of John. Of all the NT Gospels, this is my favorite. I don’t know if it’s because of my love for good story telling or my spirituality, but both are fed when I read this Gospel. This passage speaks volumes to me. Enjoy!
“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, the world hates you.” John 15:19
Ever heard the phrase “You can’t serve God and Mammon”? The above verse is the heart of that phrase. Mammon represents materialism, which is rooted in the physical world. To deny Mammon is to deny material gain and ambition. Doing this has inescapable consequences. Take some time for self reflection and ask yourself who you serve. How important are things to you? Could you give it all up and walk away if it meant an adventure of discovery and self-realization? Be warned though. Mammon knows those who’ve turned their backs on him. And if you try to exist in his world while seeking Enlightenment he’ll make you suffer for it.
Tags: adventure, discovery, enlightenment, God, god and mammon, Holy Bible, inspiration, Jesus, John, mammon, material gain, New Testament, quotes, reflection, Religion, self realization, self reflection, theology, Wisdom, world
They never saw the raiders coming, nor did they expect the plague that came in their wake.
The skull-faced marauders fell on the village, striking them from the mountain that had nestled and protected it for centuries. The villagers had looked upon the mountain with reverence and now death fell upon them like an avalanche from the very mountain that had given them sustenance.
The wild men came, their skulls gleaming whitely where their faces should be, adorned with parts and pieces of their victims. A necklace of ears here, jerkins sewn from human flesh there. Everywhere trophies of slaughter and gore that the raiders only added to as they tore through the village, hacking and slashing anything that shrieked or moved. The reavers left the village smoldering in its own ashes and returned to the mountain, great plumes of smoke rising high above the mountain peak.
The survivors (those not killed or taken as slaves) dug themselves from the rubble and looked upon the devastation with tear-streaked faces. But their reason for tears was only beginning. Three days after they buried their dead, the plague came.
It claimed the dead first. Eating away at their flesh until only a hideous skeletal visage remained. Possessed with a sinister new life and an insatiable hunger for bloodshed, they dug their way to freedom and forced the survivors to barricade themselves in the town hall. The next to fall were the sick and wounded. Whatever condition they suffered from worsened exponentially, killing them within a week and transforming them in the process. Having no other recourse, the healthy villagers that survived threw out the remaining sick and injured and cowered in corners, awaiting starvation.
“I’m telling you, it’s the perfect getaway spot,” Infinity Jones insisted to his companions. “Hot springs. Mountain air. Pristine surroundings. Exactly what an over-stressed, newly-wedded couple needs.”
“If I want to get away, I set sail from the harbor,” grumbled the Pirate Prince Perfidious. “All this stable earth beneath my feet makes me nauseous.”
Jones laughed. “Spoken like a true scourge of the seas! But seriously. It’s awesome. And it’s home to the famous Haunted Vino Basement. You’ve heard of it, I’m sure. Supposedly the poltergeist activity makes the vino better.”
“I’d rather not have vino tainted by spirits,” snapped the Pirate Prince.
“Come on, husband,” cooed Mistress G to Perfidious. “Infinity speaks truth. I’ve been there myself. It’s beautiful. Serene. Very Zen. And the vino is simply otherworldly.”
“As you like it. How much farther?”
“It’s just over those hills. Nestled against the mountain. Near that giant plume of smoke.” Infinity pointed. “See?”
“Steam from your hot springs?” asked Perfidious sarcastically.
“Most probably. It is the steamy season after all,” said Infinity cheerily, but his face was clouded with worry.
They rode into town the next day. Infinity wept at the sight. The pristine village had been reduced to ashes and cinders. Smoke filled the air, thick enough to choke the life from the living.
“Charming,” sneered Perfidious between coughs.
“Is anyone alive?” called Infinity.
Somewhere in the cloud of smoke, rocks slid and tumbled.
“Careful,” warned the Pirate Prince, drawing his blade, “Could be scavengers.”
“Human or animal?” asked Mistress G.
“It doesn’t matter. They are scavengers. One in the same.”
Humanoid shapes appeared in the smoke moving toward the trio with a deliberate but jerky gait.
“Why are they walking like that?” asked Mistress G.
“I’ve walked like that a few times,” admitted Jones, “Usually after a long night at the pub.”
“Well they would have something to drink about,” joked Perfidious, “What with their village being naught but smoke and cinders.”
“Hullo, good folk,” called Jones. “Can you tell us what happened here?”
“Rooooo….” Answered the shambling form in the forefront that was almost in sight.
“I said, ‘Ho there!’” Infinity reasserted. “What’s the deal?”
“Ruuuhhhhh,” answered the villager then stepped into view. His head was devoid of flesh, his eyes replaced with pitch black orbs, swirling with a sinuous and sinister motion. Flesh hung from the rest of his body, most of it looking to flee the horror it was attached to.
The sight caused the horses to rear up, spilling their riders on the ground before they broke and fled into the mountains.
Infinity and Mistress G leapt up at the ready, but Perfidious was too slow.
The skeleton-headed monster fell on him, gnashing at the frantic prince with his terrible teeth. Perfidious held the monster back, throwing it off and sustaining only minor scratches.
Jones rushed over and ran the abomination through, but to his horror, it didn’t die.
“Look!” yelled Mistress G and pointed.
A whole crowd of shambling monsters was limping toward the prone travelers. Nobody needed to be told to run. They did it instinctively. Fleeing the monstrosities without direction, only trying to find safety. They checked every door along their path. All were locked or filled with more of the walking dead. The crowd’s numbers swelled and they closed in on the adventurers with deliberate determination.
“How are we to kill these things if they refused to die?” wondered Perfidious. His face was flushed and beads of sweat collected on his brow like a crown.
“We don’t kill them,” said Infinity, pulling a barble (a glass marble) from his pouch and setting it at his feet. Closing his eyes he chanted,
“Now that I find myself in trouble, secure me and mine in this hamster bubble.”
Energy flashed and the orb grew to do just that. The trio was encased in a large glass bubble just as the horde broke through the smoke.
“How long with this hold?” asked Mistress G above the din of the frustrated and howling skull-faces flailing futiley against the glass barrier.
Jones shrugged. “Until they get tired and leave or we run out of air. Whichever comes first.”
“The dead don’t tire,” wheezed Perfidious. He looked feverish, his scratches and cuts oozing green puss.
“My love! Are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” he reassured his wife. “Just…a…scratch,” he wheezed and collapsed against the bubble.
“Jones! Help him,” pleaded Mistress G. “I think he’s dying.”
“I can’t help him here. We have to move and find safety.” Jones nodded in the direction of the town hall. “That’ll be the most fortified place in the whole village. We can hole up in there.”
Mistress G reluctantly agreed and together they began the slow journey, rolling the glass ball toward safety. The horde stayed on them the entire time, never relenting. Some of the abominations were caught beneath the orb and having their skulls crushed, didn’t rise again.
As they approached the town hall, the door opened and six pairs of eyes peeked out.
“Survivors!” cheered Infinity and redoubled his efforts.
They rolled the glass ball to a stop at the door. Gore streaked down the sphere in thick rivulets.
“How do we get out?” snapped Mistress G. “I don’t want to get any skeleton in my hair.”
“Watch and be amazed,” said Jones theatrically. He traced a person-sized rectangle on the glass facing the door, finishing with a small circle, acting as a crude doorknob. He opened the glass door and knocked politely on the door. “Excuse me, good folk. Would you please let us in? As you may know, the village is beset with ruffians.”
The door opened swiftly and the three amigos were rushed inside. Once secure, Jones let his magic slip and there was an audible pop followed by the sound of numerous thumps and splatters—like obese rain falling.
The Orb of Power has been discovered. I happened upon its secret location while battling the Flying Ants of Black Doom. ‘Twas hidden deep below the earth in a natural labyrinth of jagged rock. I traversed the lair dodging spirits and slaying minions of the Non-Mortal. I was beaten and exhausted upon reaching the Platinum Doors of The Chamber of the Orb. And since I had used the last of my All Natural Healing Salve with no additives or preservatives, after being set upon by a number of animate corpses and bone piles, I was already at a disadvantage. But I had to continue.
After mumbling a quick prayer for strength and protection to Coitus and The Jolly Man, I opened the doors and entered the Chamber. Instantly I was surrounded by a blue glow so thick you could cut it with a dagger. Under a state of confusion, I was unable to see the huge and deadly fist of the Guardian as it connected with my flimsy leather breastplate. However, Thank Coitus the stone wall was there to impede my backward flight. I recovered and drew my blade. Being somewhat adjusted to the blue fog, I could make out shadows, and the one that I saw flying towards me was most terrifying indeed. I heard the distinct whir of a chain flail as it is slicing through the air and I ducked just as the spiked ball flew over my head. The Guardian, sensing my vulnerable position kicked and a massive foot connected with my fragile shell and again I owe the wall thanks for its part in stopping my backward progression. I couldn’t move, the world swam, blue became me and I was about to give in when the Most Boisterous and Beautiful laughter ever to reach the ears of this surreal Populace began to fill the room.
The laughter was mixed with the dulce sounds of the Most Perfect Woman in the throes of satin ecstasy. A bright light filled the room as the laughter and lust increased to a maddening peak. When it dissipated, I found myself above ground clasping, with a violent determination, a small blue orb. And Gaia came to sooth me with her beautiful presence. Before long I was restored to health and plotting my next excursion.
“Do you even miss me?” A hollow voice over crackling wires. “Yes. Do you miss me?” “Only when I breathe.”
Her plush lips cradled my timid offerings in rosebud wine. That’s how I felt then—there—only a moment to be aware. It was too late for me then. Sometimes (not the Baron but the indicator of time) one delights in entrapment. It does make for an interesting evening no matter how your universe shifts to it.
The Pirate Prince returns from his quest a new man! He had ventured off on a short holiday visiting the Count Constantinople who was lodging in his summer palace in The Place where Angels Die. Be not misled by the name, tis truly beautiful country, I assure you. While up there, the recently freed Prince was immersed in a culture of Sin and Pleasure (the Finer Folk call this “debauchery”, we, however, call it everyday life.) He danced and consorted with the finest maidens and had a merry time to rival the Great Ball of the Palace of Windows. And late at night as the moon shone her naked light over the entire world he would hunt those Mighty Beasts that children cling to for protection. Sometimes (not the baron) we cannot forget the security of our Innocence Days. We long for it still, so why not hunt it down and make a rug out of it? “Tis a wonderful rug, milord. Tell me, what is the pelt?” “Mostly Dead Innocence mixed with a Touch of Wonder and Joy. I like the bastard breeds better. Get more for your buck that way.” What a wonderful conversation piece.
This the Brave Prince made this life on his holiday. We discussed it all over a bottle of fine champagne as we lounged in the Great Hall of Castle Mallard. “Nopil was wrong.” The Pirate Prince confides in me. “About what?” “He’s not a monkey, he’s a goat. ‘Twas a grand epiphany on his part.” “Indeed,” I reply. “That’s not all,” Perfidious continues. “What else?” “I’ve discovered I am a Courageous Cock. I would die for anyone or anything.” This raised my skepticism. “Anyone or anything?” I inquire. “Aye. And the Count is a Mysterious Goat.” “Fascinating.” “He would make a good jiggalo, I would make a good mercenary” (little did he realize that our professions made us just that—Mercenary Jiggalos. Sexy, no?). Then he related to me the sad tale of the termination of Courtship with the Queen of Wands. “We’re just on different paths right now.” How I hate those wicked paths and their different differences. Differentiation is futile while walking a path together. There is nothing more depressing than a fork in the road or a tearful ultimatum.
She doesn’t fucking care…she doesn’t fucking care. This I tell myself to keep her voice from resounding off the broken walls of my Coronary. I think our dysfunction has attained new heights. She was none too pleased at this proclamation; I was none to thrilled at its declaration.
Once upon a time we would turn the small window box of room cooling all the way up and close the door. We did this right before we went to bed. Working graveyards in a place of dead dreams forced us to adopt this lifestyle. When we got in bed, the room was so cold we had to use all of our coverings and skins and even this wasn’t enough. We would still have to practice that ancient art of the Way of the Cuddle. That, dear readers, is a lost art indeed. You and your Passion are as close as physically possible, entwined in each other, becoming a part of the tangled limbs that have created a new being. This is what makes Passion holy. Tis one of the Secrets of The Dance (we all know them. Those whispered longings in the hallways of your desire. Those tiny fires fueled by lust and sometimes even love). This I didn’t mind. This I remember now. This is one of my Holy Recollections. I love how she felt then. I loved the way her scent tasted like a honeysuckle breeze.
I can’t get it off my mind. The thought the image—the scenarios. Like a bad B movie flutter through my brain in an all day matinee Mann’s Chinese type of way. Fuck the Queen!! God save me!
Fortune: A visit from a burnt out warrior yields interesting conversation.
He was Sir Cork the Noradic. An old warrior from younger days whose battles have left him somewhat off-kilter. “I’m gonna go visit my relatives.” He tells the Baron and I with a slightly wild look in his eye. “Better watch out,” I tell him, “You’ll find yourself a pretty little girl and never come back.” “Fuck that!” He proclaims loudly, his patriotism shining forth, “I’d have to come back. I’m a countryman. And Those Bastards out there hate us. “Fuck you Americano!” He yells in a Spanish accent while waving an angry fist of defiance in the air. “Isn’t that Spanish?” Inquires the Baron. “Same language.” Is Sir Cork’s matter-of-fact reply. The Baron and I exchange amused glances. Sir Cork continues, “Wait. Americano…Americana…o..a…a…o (at this point he is thinking very hard and his head gears are spinning at dangerous speeds) Right! The Spanish say Americano, they say Americana. See? It’s close. O and A. “ We nod sagely at this grand proclamation as we disguise our amusement as good hosts should. “The Irish used to have their own language, did you know that? A beautiful dialect, but it’s forgotten. Nobody remembered but the elves and Vikings and they’re all dead now.” He trails off, shaking his head sadly, a solemn tribute to the times he helped destroy.
Yes mother, there are worlds out there your orbs will never gaze upon. But don’t hate them because they elude you.
This is a place of gently falling rain and Pale flame. No myths and legends here only lively tales told around smoking candles and heartfelt smiles.
Under the vigilant gaze of the Chipmunk, I ponder the turmoil in the Sea of My Fish. Tis a raging tempest. Life is short enough already without having to weather its storms. I realize all I am doing is wasting precious moments I can never have back. Moments that could turn into new life altering experiences. Moments that could be more beautiful than anything this shoddy viewfinder can picture. Yet I cannot help myself.
I gazed in awe at the image of absolute divinity before me. I don’t even know her and I Already miss her. I miss the way she looks at me with those eyes of simple beauty and grace. I miss the way her caress floats across my skin on wings of passionate anticipation. I miss the way her lips feel as they fuse together with mine. I miss the way her smile dances across her face in a sunburst of joy and pleasure. I miss her sigh as she laments her hopes and dreams to the fickle winds of change. I miss the feel of her—it’s all in the certain way naked flesh feels when you are dancing the Dance of Tongues. I miss her laugh that sings like a thousand choirs of angels in rapture as they proclaim hosannas to their Supreme God. I miss her, good people, and all that she is, was and ever will be. I cannot have her—I know it. Thus, my heart mourns for the loss of passion, I take my leave of my beauty knowing destiny has separated us for her own selfish reasons. And I tarried, up, up and away with the help of the Mistress and Benevolent Gaia’s gifts.
Tis a scene rife with Primal beats and an essence of the most pure and erotic energy that two bodies consumed with tension can endure. Sir Garnish enters this act and as he presents himself he plunges headlong into this erotic flow. Captain Rowdy and the Duke of Slide follow suit after procuring some native maidens for their cause. As for myself, I have become enchanted with this flow. There is something erotic in its manner. And I, having recently begun to enjoy the exotic and its females, am drawn to this.
The Pirate Prince chooses a tea stick. This is a period of relaxation for him after some unfortunate events earlier concerning family land and title. The discussion went less than pleasant and etiquette was thrown out of the window at the expense of family honor.
I want to fall in love with a woman that speaks no English. I do not want to understand a word that is regurgitated from her pouty lips. This, friends, is the epicenter of erotic. Think of it. You can’t pollute your emotion with language. You must rely on the primal instinct to communicate you passion. There are infinite ways to say, “I love you” with your hands.
I fear the loneliness has at last set in. The Princess of Swords has left my heart in a somewhat confused and pained state. Alas, what followed was a realization and self-awareness as to my state of desolate isolation. “Do you see this place right here?” I enquire of the Baron as I point at a particular part of the foot (specifically the ankle, right underneath the bone) of my forgotten Princess. “Aye. I see it.” He replies with just enough of a somber tone in his voice to relate to me that he understood the inner secrets of the Most Holy Erotic areas of those you have Passion for. “I used to like to rub that spot.” I say, though I can barely finish for I feel my eye faucets starting to leak and I retreat to the safety of the darkness outside.
I observe the Baron as he muses over a love letter he is penning to the maiden who possesses his coronary pump. He paces about as he mutters the exact ways to express his undying and everlasting devotion to his worthy Lady. He waits eagerly for his daily fix, which allows him to renew his parched spirits. He cherishes each syllable of her voice that cascades into his hungry ear as they converse.
I gaze into a glass graveyard for discarded shards of metal. It was my great grandmother’s—The Glass. The metal shards are mine alone.
Baron von Sometimes forages for an offering from Gaia. He is very skilled in the All Mother’s ways and has become an adept ranger as well as a minstrel. We, amongst our tiny band of Miscreant Nobles, look unto him for guidance from Gaia as well as a chance to cool our souls with his melodious salve.
Our adventures bear us to places of vivid reality on the wings of whatever steed we choose as our mount. The gap between “Who you are” and “how you are” continually widens as you try to bound over it in a desperate attempt at bringing together your Sacred Fish and the rest of your blasted personage. I’d like to think we accomplished this on one level or another. We all must grow, advance, become better beings than what we already are. That is purpose. Experience is life. We understand that the fish only swims for so long. We must not let them swim from us lest we meet death at the hands of the Other He. But, we progress
…and the soup thickens…
Picture, if you will, the chalet of a wealthy merchant. Tis a wooden structure amidst dense woods (allowing for handy lumber at rock bottom prices). With in this abode resides the merchant’s daughter. Her name has been deemed Irish Twang. And Captain Rowdy was all about sum dat Twang. Thus, he ventures to the Chalet after the public house closes its doors and all the would-be bards have extinguished their desire to embarrass themselves. He is accompanied by Sir Garnish and The Duke of Slide. They arrive to find a small Gathering of friends in attendance of The King’s Spirit, which all partook of heavily.
Captain Rowdy separates himself from the group in order to secure the affections of Lady Twang. The Duke submerges himself in the Relaxing Cauldron of Bubbling Warmth. Sir Garnish joins, as does a maiden of questionable reputation. Alas, our noble heroes are too intoxicated to resist the wiles of the evil hedonist and they soon succumb to her forbidden pleasures. Sir Garnish was the first to fall. And fall he did. He was no match for the destructive seduction of the evil succubus. He was lured into her lair of fornication and death only to have an essential part of his essence ripped from him by her poison claws (it was revealed later that those parts denied him were pride and masculinity). The Duke was next to taste the bittersweet regret of defeat. Ushered into that hideous den by an enchanted Sir Garnish. Oh how these brave warriors have fallen. Meanwhile, Captain Rowdy is having his Rooster excited only to be wrecked on the brink of expulsion by the very one delivering the stimulation. 3 noble hearts defeated! A sad day indeed. But that’s all in the past now.
That was when the most beautiful pair of eyes ever to grace this blighted garden entered my company.
It was one of those nights. When ghosts both long dead and newly materialized will parade around you with brutal clarity. Each one has a song to sing—a story to tell. And you must bear them all with a somber silence. Let them indulge in their orgy of sweet memory that ushers a salty drop down the broken face of the forgotten. I watched them dance, good folk, I saw the brutal pleasure derived from these vile spirits at the expense of my sanity and joy—————————-no joy, no sadness, no pleasure, no pain, no flighty romantic notions of love and soul mates—just life and old paintings hanging on the walls of our fishome to remind us just how perfect everything used to be. Hindsight is much more bittersweet when viewed through shades of black velvet kisses.
I long for the sweet taste of leather and her skin across my parched lips.
“But first! You must tell me the hermit’s secret.” I proclaim in an almost wild desperation to the Pirate Prince. And he, in his smuggy smugness leans back in his chair and smiles. “Why do you want to know the Hermit’s Secret?” “Because dammit! It’s essential!” I pause briefly, “Because the Monkey demands it, god dammit!” He leans close to me, hinting at the enlightenment on its way to my think-sponge. “He crosses the mountains and plains but still the rainbows lead nowhere.” how fucking brilliant?
The Duke and Baron undertake a duel to secure the favors of The Mistress, a most striking beauty indeed. I offer a battle of hunterbearninja and tis denied. Instead stoneparchmentdagger is chosen. And the fists begin to fly! The Baron is possessed with a look of fierce determination. Slide is matching his gaze, being equally intense in spirit. Baron draws—Dagger! He lunges at his opponent with his blade as the Duke draws—parchment! The blade slices through the paper and strikes the Duke in the chest. The round is the Barons! Round two: Baron draws—Stone! He hurls the stone with all his might at the Duke who Draws Stone as well. The Baron’s stone is knocked out of the air with the Duke’s own. The round is a draw. The crowd gasps in excited anticipation. Those in the Baron’s section are confident. For their Champion has won the First round. Smugness is passed around in frosty cold mugs. But the Duke’s crowd knows that their hero is of strong constitution and is not easily defeated. Round Three: Duke draws dagger! The fierce warrior attacks the Baron with his blade, a hell-crazed look burning in his eye. The Baron draws—Stone! Sometimes uses his rock to deflect the blade of the Baron. The round goes to the Baron. Round Four: The Baron draws dagger! He quickly returns the Duke’s ferocious attack with his own. The Duke is caught off guard and draws—Parchment! The Duke is defeated!
But see friends, no harm was done. This was friendly sport and the Baron was rewarded his just prize with no hard feelings. For we were chivalrous cavaliers. Each of us bore our own strict code of morals and honor. We lived by these creeds, as all those of noble heart should. Our differences were our strengths. We supported each other, Atlases of Pain and Heartaches. That’s how we survived.
We enter the alehouse as majestic as any lords to grace a social function with unique charm and wit. Having enjoyed the company of Gaia and her gifts earlier, we found ourselves in the most agreeable of dispositions. Aided by overpriced ale, we modified our moods to the desired fervor. Despite injury, the Duke of Slide is in high spirits and soon happens upon a doting maiden. His passions are secured thusly for the remainder of the evening. The Prince Perfidious is entertaining himself with idle chatter amongst some of the locals. And I find myself still weak from my battle with The Golden Worm two nights earlier. My weakened constitution was especially susceptible to the spirits of Alcohol and the gifts of Lady Gaia. This leaves me in an appropriate state of inebriation. For this reason, I took my leave and was followed by Perfidious. With the absence of the Better Part of the Duke’s Conscience effectively secured, he is now able to entertain his boisterous humors.
Assisted by Captain Rowdy they soon begin to enliven the house. On one attempt to acquire more ale the Duke spots one of the very agents who agitated him prior! The brash lord wastes no time. He advances toward his adversary, blood burning for revenge. A sturdy hand is placed on the evil agent’s despicable shoulder. The maiden, fearing danger, flees to the barkeep’s personal mercenary peacekeeper and begins to relate the tale unto him. The Duke whirls his foe around to face him. “Hey.” is all he says as that force of righteous fury and justice that became the Fearless Slide’s fist connects with an audible WHAP!! to the evil vermin’s eye. The would-be assassin plummets to the ground like a lovesick maiden in a swoon. Fear seizes the crowd and the moment is frozen in an eternal instant. The Duke merely points to his own wounded eye and understanding is conferred.
People return to their business as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. The maiden and the merc arrive to usher the agent out under his severe protest.
That night I saw a vision. The Princess of Swords was kneeling at the throne of her Queen. A most foul and wicked woman, the Queen of Swords is given to bouts of brutal and unfounded severity. She is administering a lethal dose of that same severity to her daughter. The Princess’ supplications and pleas for mercy go unheard. With one fell swoop of her mighty blade; The Horrific Queen separates the head from the shoulders of her only daughter. With no visible care as to her action or its consequence, the evil woman places the severed head of her Precious child above her throne to adorn the Krystle spikes that Rise from the seat’s demoniac back. Her daughter is now forgotten. The clouds swell and obscure my sight. The vision ends.
I don’t remember what I told her. I just remember I cried.
Under the watchful eye of two Japanese individuals having sex, we begin to explore those deeper places.
The Duke laments as the voice of old love and anguish pours sweetly into his ear. His expressions are daggers of pain wrought with tears and regret. He searches for escape.
I am in the company of the Hierophant. His divine wisdom shines forth and illuminates all the secret desires that have been dwelling in the innermost recesses of my soul. And I find the Aeon glimmering her way onto the stage. Definite steps have to be executed in order for a brighter future with the Ace of Cups overflowing its sweet inspiration into my thirsty and eager cranial mass (who would’ve guessed that these steps would be so definite and the execution so complete?).
I now begin to feel the pangs of loss and desire. I have recently divorced myself of certain obligations and commitments to one who had lease on my tender heart. Alas, she allowed our contract to expire. I always feel the emptiness of hell when I lose those that hold a special place in my heart.
Then arrives Sir Heathen, a personable old fellow from our university days. He arrives on his chariot of silver and greets us with his ever-charming smile. We venture off to the public house for an evening of entertainment that could possibly turn hedonistic if Coitus smiles upon we unworthy souls.
She does not.
…And we remained unworthy.
We dwelt in caves of pleasure and forgetting. A minstrel strums the beautiful chords of the flow and saturates the situation with a voice that cries out to be heard by the most sensitive places of your neglected fishome. We danced and laughed as we drank the night away one beer at a time. Shooting firewater into our gullets at absurd rates of consumption. Amidst a clutter of people we tried to define ourselves, to separate ourselves from the rest of this herd of individuals trying to separate themselves from the rest of this herd. We call this individualism and in all of its glory, tis truly a wonderful thing, but when forced into a situation unnaturally becomes a catalyst for inevitable disruption.
And then we moved on.
It would seem love, in one of its many beautifully twisted forms, is involved in this grand scheme of life, in the pursuit of grander visions than our noble spirits can envision.
But pause of a moment to be encompassed by the flow of melody. Crucial are the small things. They allow for the completions of the entire picture. Buddha told me that.
I’M A CARING MOTHER FUCKER!!
Tell them I proclaimed that very point. Tell them that those utterances of sound formed together and took a perilous flight to the ears of those present. Everybody knew and nobody cared. Such is Fortune’s wicked lot for my tumultuous life.
“It’s not my fault you went to the desert.” The Pirate Prince announces to me rather matter-of-factly.
“No, no its not. And it’s not your fault all the doors were opened for me because I did.” Was my quick retort.
“That’s exactly what I’m saying. We all have parts to play. Roles. Sometimes somebody drops out and has to be replaced with another actor. But all anybody really is, is an actor.” Perfidious continued.
“That’s Bullshit! Fucking Bullshit Man!” Slide has been offended by the Prince’s Bold Statements.
Tonight heralded the grand ceremony of the Bestowing of Title to Sir Heathen. For his service to his realm he was awarded the title of Baron von Sometimes. For he had recently returned from his quest for the Holy Batteries and he found himself victorious. ‘Twas a grand ball, good people. All the Lords of Order and Chaos were in attendance, each accompanied by their own pomp and circumstance. There was He That Is Not A Pronoun. The most Ordered of Order. He was flanked with Pompus I on his left and The Excitement on his right. His chariot was conjured from gold and clouds and was pulled by a team of the most pure and noble winged foozle bunnies that ever could have been created. Behind him came a cohort of golden Seraphim with swords of Blue flame. Their eyes were fierce and filled with terrifying tempests. Their hair was sunlight magnified. Behind them came Lucius and his most devout. It was truly a humbling sight to behold and it filled the viewer with peace and ecstasy.
Next came the Jolly Man. He was a most splendid being. Composed of a happy ethereal substance he floated on love and roses crowned with the Sun himself. In his court were the twins of Brilliant Fire: Yin and Yang. There was also The Lovers. Day and Night. Fire and Water, constantly entwined in a passionate dance of never ending tension and eroticism in their realms of purple and red. The zodiac’s representative was there, and the Monkey frolicked and played creating mischief in his wake as he enjoyed his time in the cycle of life. And the Jolly Man laughed as he paraded through the city for he was the deity of kindness, peace and travel.
Next on the scene was Oberon, the fairy king. Lord over all fairy-kind and the mischief they produce. He was followed by his Queen Fair and the host of fairy kind who entertained the people with mindless nonsense as they cut their purses. His were the gypsy folk who sold fortunes and potions to the sheeple.
After him came the Beauty Coitus. Mistress of Desire, Love and Chaos. She represents the light half of disorder. Those chaotic scenes of pleasure and pain that never mean much harm no matter the consequences of their catastrophic involvement. She was accompanied by her Pets: Porpoise, Coffee, B-Fantabulous and Hot Chocolate (the latter being picked up for no real reason other than pity). This entourage was followed by The Minstrel Lord Bard who enchanted all with his soul-numbing voice.
Last came He that IS iN Grammatical Error. The Dark Side of Chaos. The Lord of Destruction, Death and Extinction. He was followed by his hordes of agents and imps who were so beautiful that they were grotesque abhor rations too frightening to gaze upon. On his arm was the delicious Mistress G. She holds the Auspicious Position of Dominatrix and Slave, depending on the moods of her most brutal and avaricious master.
Stories continue, even fragmented ones. Enjoy!
The Pirate Prince reaches the corridor that leads the way to the Place of Serenity. He enters the threshold bravely. This admirable character of grace and charm. He is seen laughing with the portraits of children long forgotten and while they float upon the fringes of nightmare fantasies, She appears. An apparition lost, found her way into his domain. She watches him patiently from the corner, but her ethereal energy seizes Perfidious. The cold chill of terror spreads throughout his limbs like an enticing cancer. Fear seizes his heart and closes his throat. The gentle specter senses this and quits herself to the Melancholy Lord’s chamber where she may favor him with caresses and an innocent adoration while he sleeps. The chamber door opens and slams shut with a resounding boom. “Fuck it,” the noble heart muses while he proceeds to his chamber. But he does not proceed without anticipation and an excited worry. Ah, this brave soul known as The Pirate Prince Perfidious is a most genteel spirit indeed. His nature is charming and few can escape the snares of his Charisma. He is kind-hearted and gentle but a dangerous adversary if ever persuaded to wrath. Perhaps that is why he was part of our flow-cling. He is the son of the Pirate King Persian, a most ruthless and ignoble creature. The atrocities wrought by his menacing temper were too much for his son’s Zen nature. Thus, the brave Prince took his leave to travel and explore the vast unknown expanses of Possibility.
And he found himself within realms unknown to him. He brandished his sword with intrepid fervor as he began his voyage into the corridor. When out of the darkness springs the agents of He That is In Grammatical error to molest Young Prince Perfidious. A gallant battle ensues. He is outnumbered two to one, but his obstinate nature and strict code of Chivalry and Honor prevent his flight. A dark-cloaked despot lunges at the prince with a blade dripping the most deadly and vile of poisons. Perfidious retorts with a well-placed deflection and the battle continues. The Pirate’s flawless skill is not wasted on the devious assassins and try as they might they are unable to penetrate his formidable defenses. One of the assailants lowers his guard for a crucial instant. This is all Perfidious requires. He plunges his blade deep into the chest of the villain. Success! With a hiss the demon expires. The other, seeing that odds were no longer in his favor, flees in a fit of cowardice. The weary Prince then continues to his chamber where his spectral guardian protects him from further harm. (In another time and place he and this gentle apparition were lovers. Now they are separated by the thick veils of death that reside in the realm of aching spirits.)
Unsatisfied with the results of his insidious plot on the lives of the flow-cling, He that is In Grammatical Error redoubles his efforts, as well as the number of assassins. Four there are now. Screaming across the night like apocalyptic horsemen, unwanton fury burned in their eyes. They marked the Duke of Slide for destruction. The would-be marauders enlisted the help of the most licentious and despicable sirens ever to curse this plane with their presence. These unholy creatures stirred the desires of The Duke and his companion Captain Rowdy and lured them into the den of evil and despair. Oh, how our heroes were deceived and lulled into placation by the wiles of the demon women. They were sedated, but worse, separated. Sensing an opportunity, an assassin known only as Zee accosted the Duke. The attack caught Slide off guard and he plummeted over the railing of that palace of Treachery and Pain. The unsuspecting Duke landed with a thud on the unrelenting ground and lay motionless as stars performed a sparkling ballet inside his head.
Sensing success, Zee ventures down to finish off his prey. He is surprised to find the Duke recovered and awaiting him with sword drawn! The assassin draws his own blade and the fierce Duke strikes! Evil Zee pays no heed to his fresh wound and retorts in kind. Not to be outdone, the Duke responds with 2 quick strokes that cause Zee to stumble back in disorientation. But at that moment Zee’s cohorts materialize from the shadows that gave them life and accost the good Duke. He is taken completely by surprise and is overwhelmed. The roving band of restless infidels drags the Duke to a secluded lot and attacks him mercilessly. Though defenseless, the Duke does not cry out. He remains strong and soon he slips into the welcoming embrace of unconsciousness. The brutal Bastards finish with their evil deed and leave the Duke to die. They return to their palace and accost Captain Rowdy as he was in an enthralled slumber. The Duke of Slide awakens and stumbles, beaten and bloody until he finds recourse.
I find myself in the clutches of that golden liquid known as Mezcal. Pain is eased at the expense of my state of mind. The great worm has been vanquished by my brash deeds. ‘Twas an encounter, I tell you now. I had to endure 4 shots from the beast’s brutal belly before he became mine. But overcome him I did. And now his secrets will be revealed to me. I await the reception of his treasured wisdom with violent anticipation.
Enter the Princess of Swords into this grand picture, this masterpiece of debauchery and dysfunction. She explodes onto the scene with a tempest of feminine fury (as she tends to do. Hers being the element of fire, she can’t help but recklessly scorch those delicate souls around her).
But first let me explain myself. I am Kaiser Infinity Joenys. I am the bastard son of a bitch. My mother’s name is of no significance, I’m not even sure she had one. My father’s claim to nobility lies in his title only. Thus, I had to sustain my feeble mortal coil by whatever means were at my disposal. I have sold the superstitious their fortunes, cut a purse or two, played a while in professional religion and even entertained a brief period selling siding of Aluminum to people who love to hear the Song of Rain crescendo to an unbearable cacophony of asinine proportions. But fear not, gentle reader, I am not without my morals and resolve.
I ponder these times. And as the sparrow flies in search of whatever tiny morsels it can gather to sustain it’s young, the tiny creature is continuously amidst a sea of useless noise. I cannot help but to secretly pray for its maddening cessation and restoration of the natural flow of life. Oh we are wrought with folly! A stupid, boorish breed. Caring only for our next fix of convenience we scorn the very mother that birthed us! Best make your apologies now, you prodigal offspring and hope that the inevitable punishment be not so violent a lesson as to render this puny race extinct!
So there you sit—seeing everything and believing in nothing. Are you so brash to think yourself Masterful? Ah, my friend, you are but a student. An apt one, but one who has not been truly tested. The time has come to move on.
Within you are exponential worlds of energy. Increasing themselves into an Eternal Law. There they spin—triangulated by Three and carried off by the Breath of God.
You’ve been there. You’ve seen that gateway into Possibility. You have the key, opened the Way and yet you remain frozen at the threshold of transcendence. What fears paralyze you, intrepid traveler, that you cannot step into the great unknown? Don’t you hear your adventurous heart pounding its longing into your brain? And still you hesitate?
There is nothing to fear. Protection is with you in your travels. You have been armed and prayers invigorate you. And still you hesitate?
Revel in your discomfort. For it is there that amusement begins. In that place control is revealed for the petty illusion it is and the doors of Truth are finally opened. Now step through and be who you are.
I thought I’d never forgive Ryan Gosling after “Blue Valentine”. I thought I’d never be able to sit through one of his crappy movies again. Then along came “Drive” and now I don’t want to punch the guy in the face (as much) anymore.
MINOR SPOILER ALERT!
“Drive” follows the Driver (Gosling) as he tries to make right with some gangsters so he can protect his girl. It’s the usuaI duffle bag full of money, car chases and flying bullets moviegoers have come to expect from the genre. I know, you’ve seen this movie a hundred times. But you haven’t seen it like this.
There’s a slew of awesome actors in this movie: Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman and Christina Hendricks (whose death will haunt your dreams later). Oh, and I guess there’s Ryan Gosling, too.
Gosling doesn’t have much dialogue and that’s alright by me. He talked plenty in that other unmentionable movie. To make up for his lack of dialogue, he walks or drives around beating the shit out of a whole colorful cast of gangsters including (Ron Perlman). In case you were wondering, not once during the entire movie did Ron turn into Hellboy. Which is kind of sad because I was really hoping for a Hellboy cameo in a Ryan Gosling movie. I was disappointed when it wasn’t in BV because that movie needed Hellboy to save it from itself. While I wasn’t happy with this sans-Hellboy situation, I was too distracted by “Drives” intense violence to let it seriously irk me.
Which brings me to the intense violence. This movie is chock full of blood, fists and bullets. And all of that can be a bit jarring. It’s not like watching a horror movie. You’re expecting blood and gore to be flying all over the place. But in Drive, the violence acts as a character itself. It is necessary. Gosling’s character doesn’t start out as a gangster killing badass. He drives cars for the movies, steals a few on the side and is pretty much your typical black hat with a white heart. But once things start going wrong and Gosling gets caught up trying to protect his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son, he starts sliding head first into a dark pit.
The violence acts as a wedge between Gosling and any hope of a normal life with Irene and Benicio. Irene is horrified by what the Driver is doing (despite the fact he’s doing it to protect her and her son) and any affection she has toward him quickly dissipates.
Meanwhile, there’s no turning back for the Driver. Once Gosling kills a couple of gangsters he’s in it for the long haul, despite his best attempts to make things right and step away. There is no escaping the violence. Thus, while the violence acts as a wedge between him and a normal life, it also acts as a driving force that pushes him through his struggles and ends up saving his life.
All in all, this movie grabbed me. Unexpectedly, even. I actually set aside the blog I was writing because I was too engrossed by what was going on. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an excellent dark, disturbing story come from Hollywood. Watching the Driver stroll around in his blood splattered scorpion jacket administering vigilante justice to the evil was just what I needed to get the machismo pumping.
Good on you, Ryan Gosling. Good on you.