Well I guess I’ve strayed into multimedia.
My friend and housemate Scott Key helped me out by throwing a little voice acting onto Devil’s House. I’m pretty damn pleased with the product, and this may be the mode of distribution from here on out.
The first two chapters are currently being hosted on SoundCloud. I encourage you to give a listen. They aren’t yet available for download- but they will be at a later date.
Please listen! Enjoy!
An Excerpt from the Journal of Elijah.
Summer 1934, Nebraska
Rain-making had become a serious business in the last few years as the dust began to swallow farms and towns alike. It was mean stuff just as like to leave you coughing brown the next few days as to ruin an entire county’s livelihood. And when the rain-maker came, people gathered. No one counted on a rain-maker being bad news. I wouldn’t call them simple folk, but they were naïve.
This town had money, as few enough did at this time. The rain-maker knew this, and it was obvious to anyone who saw him walk into the town like a saint about to cure it from leprosy or blindness. You could’ve mistaken the townsfolk for such the way the rainmaker treated them all.
When the mayor bought him dinner and some cider, he sat, eating noisily and getting drunk. When he was more sober he made talk about how the next town over just harvested their first healthy crop in months, and how in another town he saved a thousand acres from falling to a dust-storm. Two counties over he cured their live-stock of a wasting sickness that had culled most of their herds. But as the drink began invading his speech, making it trip and tumble, he began to talk of the women he had, how all he had to do was get them drunk and they were his. He talked of his sin, and how little the care he had for his unburdened little soul.
Now I am a tolerant man and I have no problem disregarding the dry law of the land in order to get a rain-maker as drunk as he wants, but it stops when a man talks of violating another man’s daughter. Its a pity I wasn’t there to witness the ingress of the rainmaker to Trellby county, but at least I was able to come and clean up after the son-of-a-whore left.
Apparently, this rain-maker woke early the next day and took to the fields, sticking his finger in the roots of corn and eating wheat-grass like a bored farm boy. He then did something that should’ve tipped off anyone as long as they knew anything; He asked for privacy, a barn, and a white bull.
These were uneducated God-fearing folks which blinded them to the peculiarity of this request. Its not their fault. In Leviticus a white bull was considered a worthy sacrifice to God. Oddly enough, this is one of the only circumstances where such a sacrifice is so innocuous. Near cities, we tend to watch whoever buys stock like that because it’s usually a flag towards some upstart cultist who has ideas about having a flock and bestowing dark gifts upon himself.
I remember hiking out to the barn to see what he did, and then I remember deeply regretting my curiosity. Every part of the cow, save its skin, that could be dismantled had been, and it was all laid out in order, like the rain-maker had just taken apart an engine and was planning on putting it back together later. The smell was horrible, but the flies all stopped short of the meat, refusing to cross a circle of cow’s blood around the entire mess. It wasn’t like they couldn’t pass it, they just didn’t seem to want to, like the meat inside the circle was spoiled. They had a mark more wisdom than I.
I’ll not bother to recount the entirety of what the town suffered as a result of the rain-maker’s sacrifice, as I have put most of it into my report. There is, however, something worth saying, a reason why I am sitting here and writing instead of tracking down the rain-maker.
I guess there is not any other way to put it, so I’ll just say it outright. I found his face, or what I assume to be. It was lying in the mud outside of the barn. I had the local mortician look at the thing to check. It was probably an easy thing to miss in and among the fire, brimstone, and plagues the town had started to suffer as soon as the rain-maker had left. At this point I don’t know whether to call this rain-maker man or monster, I just knew something foul and wretched is coursing its way through nebraska.
I have since surmised that the skin of the cow was probably used to fashion a new mask for this rainmaker, though how he made the thing so lifelike truly confounds me. Even the mortician hesitated before saying it was some sort of leather thing, but of what nature he knew not.
I have the mask right here and it has cracked some in the sun and heat. It sure does look a lot like leather now. It would answer where the cow-skin went, but would raise a whole host of questions more Questions I don’t know if I can answer.
I know where my duty lies and I know what I have to do. The whole of my skin crawls and my bones have a chill like they’ve never felt. I’ll approach the night with bell book and candle if necessary. I’ll fight again if I am called to.
What scares me isn’t the night. What I face isn’t just the things that lurk in the dark places of the world. Last night was the first night in a week it stopped raining fire in Trellby County. Locusts still ravage the fields and a mass grave of firstborn are piled in pine crates on the lawn of the church.
What does God hate with such a passion that he would see a small town of his devoted flock leveled just to rid the earth of it.
It’s an answer that scares me.
A small short story I’ve been tooling around with: A Work in Progress that was abandoned a few years back. I think I am going to try and pick it back up.
The Devil lived lonely on the top floor of the Chrysler Building. In the Devil’s House was the Devil’s Kitchen, the Devil’s Bed, the Devil’s Radio, and sitting lonely and cold atop the Devil’s Cold Fireplace was my lonely Soul. I wanted it back.
Exit Frying Pan
The Devil’s House looked nothing like I imagined. I don’t quite know what I was expecting, maybe a little flair. Brimstone, or Maroon Velvet, or the tortured Souls of the Innocent. I didn’t even know I was in the right place when I dropped down from the roof of the Chrysler and through the window. This place looked like it belonged to a Brownstone family in Brooklyn, not to the Lord of Hell, the Fallen Angel and the Morning Star.
The Devil’s Kitchen had a GE stove and a brand-name ice-box, his bed was an colonial four-poster, his radio was playing something baroque. His fireplace was warm with embers. The only thing I was right about was my small soul swimming in a jar above the Devil’s hearth.
It was quite like a fish, and swam around its jar like a fishbowl. I don’t know if it recognized me, but I recognized it. There was a hole in my chest that needed it back.
I went to grab it, having to stretch a little to put my fingers around the bowl. When I had just started lifting it a Voice behind me said, “That’s not yet yours to take”. It sounded like sulfur jazz.
With that, I was pushed into the devil’s open hearth, catching only a glance of the angel-wing band around his finger and a small whiff of cinnamon aftershave. I fell for far too long.
Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil so that he could play his guitar. At the age of 27 he died alone in his room. The Devil came to collect.
I made my deal the same way he did, alone at a crossroads on midnight in a new moon sky. I wanted to forget my pain. I was 22.
I don’t remember his face, I just remember the Cinnamon and the Voice. A voice that burned the nose and a smell that tasted of chocolate. He told me that 10 years without pain was not a fair price for my soul.
I asked if he needed more
He said it was too much
I said I didn’t care
We made the deal.
I didn’t feel the pain anymore.
I didn’t feel the pain for 10 years.
Then the day came when the Devil would collect. I was ready, I had sold everything I owned and said my goodbyes to everyone left I ever loved. I waited in an empty room for the Devil to come and take me to Hell. He never did. I waited there until they turned my water off and my stomach shriveled to the size of a raisin. Though I wasted away and my lips were cracked and dry I did not die.
The Devil never came.
I went to jump off the roof.
I didn’t die.
So I took matters into my own hands. I found where the Devil lived, I found where he kept my Soul. If I wasn’t going to be collected and if I couldn’t die, I damn well wanted it back.
So I tried to steal it from the Devil.
A man puts down his pen. A man picks up his pen. Indeterminable moments pass and his pen is back down. Perhaps, Man thinks, he needs a drink. Man picks up pen, gets up, and goes to get drink, realizes he cannot pour drink with pen in hand. Man sets down pen. Man realizes, via his behavior and the large number of empty tumblers on his desk, that he may have had enough to drink. Man sits down.
Maybe this isn’t how I want this story to start. Maybe I need to learn to shut up and let myself talk.
The Man, of course, isn’t just a Man, his name is…
Indetermineable moments pass and a name is still not found
Well his name isn’t important. What is important is that he is trying to write a book
How very self referential
And he is having trouble…
Not making it any better for yourself, are-
The man is in a room
Aren’t we all
Sitting at his desk
Who else would be sitting there
I think we know it’s a guy
And he very much hates his writer.
Hey, be careful there, I made you
Yes, I don’t think he cares very much about that
But I Created him
Was that capital C really necessary?
Well is is something of importance, isn’t it
No, it isn’t. you are just trying to grant what you do some false importance. As if creating a world and creating people in it makes you a God (capital G intended)
Well… Doesn’t it?
Oh don’t go down that road. They don’t exist. All this is, just so happens to be you sitting in a comfy armchair with a glass of watered brandy trying to escape into a world of your own making
But it has importance!
What, the Importance of the Artist? All False, I assure you. An artist creates things that people merely like or despise with all their hearts. Do they make foreign policy? Do they lobby for new laws concerning corporate regulation? No, they sit and whine and bitch and do nothing. How does that matter a whit?
Not to you, at least
Not to anyone.
Not true. Someone’s acting once inspired a man to try and kill Ronald Reagan.
A Crazy one
How does that matter? Every single one of us is at least a bit crazy, and we can sit and not be able to do anything about foreign policy, but every one of us can create. Every one of us can show someone something beautiful or interesting or horrifying.
But that doesn’t mean that what you create means anything to the world
The World? Screw the world. It doesn’t have to mean shit-all to the world. For all we know, the world isn’t sentient. You know who is? Us. We experience, we create, and we feel. We are the only reason we know we exist. Because like it or not, there is more than one of us. And I don’t know about the world, but if I can influence one person, if I can change then, then I have changed a world. Theirs at the very least. What you don’t realize is that this world isn’t one coherent mass, it is just a landmass inhabited by billions of people who see things differently, and billions of people who have their own worlds. So I’ll tell you this, you don’t have the dominion over worlds that I do. By just going on stage and speaking I can change a hundred, by writing I can change a thousand. That’s the thing. I don’t control or create reality, I add to it.
Larry: (pounding back a shot) well shit.
(Arlus walks up, Larry is poured shot after shot after shot of something clear, Arlus approached Barkeep)
Arlus: (worried) what’s he drinking?
Arlus: …you keep water in a vodka bottle?
Keep: keeps the underage happy and paying
Arlus: (nods, then to larry) Larry, what happened? Wife leave you for a white bull again? Pregnant with a monster, is she?
Larry: nope (prepares for shot, takes it)
Arlus: Did Daddy cause another earthquake in Sparta?
Arlus: Hade’s steal your daughter away to the underworld and… something with a pomegranite?
Arlus: I didn’t even finish!
Larry: already knew the answer
Arlus: well what was I going to…
Larry: Dionysus visited me today
Arlus: … hm?
Arlus: no, I heard you, that one wasn’t all that funny
Larry: I wasn’t kidding
Larry: he honestly did
Arlus: (pause) so why water?
Larry: just popped into my-
Arlus: seems a little weak for-
Larry: and just whipped it out-
Arlus: I mean, I know you can’t hold-
Larry: and it was just gigantic, then he-
Arlus: showed you how to take them, just-
Larry: told me to get up, started yelling-
Arlus: and the whipped cream makes it even better-
Larry: Told me to PROduce a play!
Arlus: and that’s how you take a shot!
Both: Wait… What?
Larry: you told me to take a straw and drink through my nose
Arlus: Dionysus told you what?
Arlus: I may have been drunk at the time
Larry: He, uh, told me to PROduce a play
Arlus: that’s not how you pronounce-
Larry: I don’t care
Larry: so what does that even mean?
Arlus: Fresh vegetables for sale at a market
Larry: no, the-
Arlus: yeah, you pronounced it wrong
Larry: Don’t Care
Arlus: Figures. Hm… I think its when an asshole shows up and tells the director what to do.
Larry: well that doesn’t sound very helpful
Arlus: I could be wrong
Larry: yeah, that doesn’t sound right.
Arlus: does it mean…? Yeah, I’m out
Larry: me too.
Arlus: well, we could just go around and ask people what producing is, this is Athens, after all, someone should know.
Larry: Oh yes, that sounds like a fantastic idea. We could go to Lickus, the street lecher, and ask him, “do you know what a producer does?” and he flashes us and we say, “not that kind of producer, what a Theatrickal producer does” and he tells us he doesn’t know, but would sure as hell like to find out. So he follows us when we go to ask Scandalus, the politician, Acrylica, the beautician, Little Pintus, head of the league of orphans and the president of the competitive drinking league. We can ask flicus and Bickus, and kalamazoo! And then go and ask mr. floppity roo! And then we’ll take this great big mob of people up to mt. Olympus, stand in front of Dionysus, and say, “Listen here, you schmuck, none of THESE people know what the hell a producer does, why the hell should I?”
Arlus: You’re drunk… ( pause, picks up shot glass of water sniffs it, looks at Larry, who continues line)
Larry: (dawn of realization) Oh god Damnit! (leaves)
Arlus: yeah he probably has (moment, follows)
(Dionysus walks on, hands jug to Keep, asks for a gallon, Keep looks confused)
Dio: (to Keep) Think I was too hard on the fellow? He was pounding the drink pretty hard
Keep: (stunned) it was water
Dio: (looks angrily at Keep, grabs back his jug, starts to leave, glares back, and struts out)