Alan Wake

Alan Wake

68 ratings
The Egretta Society
By chainlinkspiral
Following the media sensation and fallout from the Alan Wake disappearance of 2010, local literary club, The Egretta Society, began to collate and release materials relating to the cities of Bright Falls and Small Wood. National coverage may have precluded first-hand eyewitness accounts regarding the region's history of supernatural hauntings, alien balls of light in the night sky, and supposed extra-dimensional visitations, but the Egretta Volumes provide a startling insight into local happenings and the many disquieting mysteries that surround the region.
introduction. The Alan Wake Incident
In the fall of 2010, best-selling author Alan Wake disappeared following a series of strange incidents. The town of Bright Falls is still recovering from many months of media saturation, public over-exposure and serial investigative inqueries.

Bright Falls resident Douglas Mutter started a meme when interviewed on local television about the disappearance, having said, "Guy wrote crummy crime novels and became a statistic. Now he's some sort of urban legend blockbuster genius. This place really makes you question the nature of reality, that's for sure." The full interview was autotuned and remixed and hit over a hundred thousand views on youtube.

Alan Wake's sudden and circumstantial departure opened the floodgate on similar and other outwardly suspicious disappearances.

What began to emerge was a pattern. Creative figureheads and artists being drawn to the region, creating great volumes of work, then vanishing.

Alan Wake was most certainly not the first, nor will he be the last.
preface, The Egretta Society

The Egretta Society was founded in 1971 by local writer's muse Lily Jensen. Situated in the back of her best friend's bookshop, regulars met to discuss their reads and share weekly discoveries in life, literature and small town existence.

Egretta, the club and my place in it;

I was the new blood, the childe. I was mostly quiet, there to observe and listen and understand these people. When I happened to say my mind I found the response to be warm, agreeable and always unexpected.

It was a strange place to spend three hours a week. I took their instructions and parting knowledge home with me, used their insistence to dig deeper into the foundations of Small Wood, understand a fraction more of the greater puzzle.

I asked about ghosts, which resulted in a lot of nodding and very little in the way of storytelling. I inquired about their past and got smiles and personal looks. I realized that to this circle of friends, rivals and confidants, and I was the young enigma, the outsider, the unknown they were taking a chance on.

At the end of the first meeting, I was given a feather from the blue heron. I was told to place it in a book of great importance, to hide away from sight and age and never lose. They told me it was hand-picked especially for me, representing the molting of the first unused feathers from flight. It was an in-joke at my expense, but it made me smile and I suppose it made me come back and continue to ask questions for which they would give me precious few answers. The members of the Blue Heron enjoyed their place away from the flow of time, this world of their own creation, and welcomed me into it without question.
Egretta pt. 1
lessons in leaves

Many discoveries in life are made by wandering aimlessly, and I owe it to chance that I discovered the Blue Heron by such an accident. I was taking a walk along the sea wall for my own peace of mind when I happened to look up and see a small, strange woman looking out at me. She was about four feet, twisted and broken looking, her forearms in stilts lifted her and she walked with her shoulders mostly, lilting to and fro.

Her name was Frances, she had red brown hair and bright blue eyes.
Inside the store she nurtured her children, bookshelves, individually
bought and so very different in shape and size, all organized how she
saw fit, owing to no one classification. She mothered over the place
behind thick glasses, being both kind and caustic, ordering people to
have a seat, clean up their mess, and keep asking questions. Frances
kept the coffee station well stocked and had a large section of
literary journals sent in from all over the world which I always
flipped through and never bought. It was a reader's store, and I was
instantly at home in the place.

Frances had lived in Small Wood all her life. I could not determine
her age, but she was roughly my mother's. She expected no pity or help
running the store and was happily married to an unsuccessful water
painter named Todd, who I'd met and chatted with at the video store once or twice.

One day, she produced a newsletter for me to read, titled "Egretta".
In it was contained a list of books and articles written by other
patrons of the store I had never met. Frances pointed out to me
a date and a time written on the back and explained to me that this
was the name of her reading club and that she wanted me to sit in on a

Since football was done, I had far more free time on my hands, and I
really had no reason or excuse but to reluctantly agreed to stop in and see what this was all about.

Notes on the first meeting, a rundown of who is who and what was said;

Minutes of sorts, I arrived near seven-thirty in the Thursday evening.
It was dark and cold and wet outside, and I found the meager parking lot
of the B.H. filled to capacity by an old blue Datsun, a violet
Peugeot, a Plymouth minivan, and a wide Buick. I parked in front of a
neighbor's house, and made my way to the front door, which I discovered to
be locked with a note stating thus: "Come around back." I remembered
the back entrance from my beach walk, mostly all windows, and
rediscover it as such. I peeked inside and saw nothing, nobody, but the
door was open so I went inside. I heard voices coming from the store
room, which upon entering, is not so much a store room as a very well
furnished lounge and study area. The first person to break off
conversation and notice me is Charles, a man going grey and ripe
around the middle. He ushered me to a seat next to him, which I helped
myself to. He put a book in my lap, a very old leather-bound thing
with fine leafing and stitch work. "This was written by the founder of
the Boy Scouts, Lily picked it up last year at a neighbor's garage

He pointed out the slightly worn exterior condition, the fine plate illustrations and
historical quality of the material to be found inside. It impressed
me, but didn't really interest me. I smiled and nodded along with his

A young woman poured me a cup of tea and introduced herself as
Imogene. She wore a faded comic book lettered t-shirt featuring an
ankh prominent, played with greasy black bangs, and pushed at a flowing botik
skirt that was opaque enough to not hide her legs.

Frances was talking with a woman who looked to be in her mid-thirties,
wearing a pantsuit and expensive jewelry. They laughed and touched
shoulders, exchanged sly looks and shared history. When Charles
wrapped up his profound insight, she would reach out a hand to me and
say a name, "Lily."

I asked a question, which was, "Are you two married?"

Imogene shifted uncomfortably, Lily shook her head no, and Charles
said as much with a short series of dismissive coughs.

Charles, thoughts, comments, errata on;

Charles came to Small Wood sometime after his second divorce. He almost went to jail for having an affair with a student which would end his teaching career. He published a novel when he was thirty, a counter-culture sci-fi thing in which the main characters crossed into each other's lives deus ex machina, a breakdown in reality, one a drug user crashing down the fourth wall with the other, a programmer.The book was recieved with, and was in truth due, no real acclaim. It was a generic rehash of most every plot out there, very much the sublime in cliche. But reading it, I took away three truths.

Truth One: Charles was a firm believer. Give him an idea, however half-baked, and he'd gladly consider it. In fact moreover, he'd try to have you believe it, the longer he considered it.

Truth Two: Charles would never allow himself to be wrong. The world was an infinite kaliedoscope, according to him. Every word a reflection on the generous nature of our infinite realities. The way of the world was the fractal, the spiral staircase of logic and reason whereupon which nothing ever ended, where every opportunity was the birth of something new and beautiful.

Truth Three: Charles was absolutely certain he'd come to Small Wood for a reason. He knew, at the bottom of all he held dear, that he was here for a reason. That his role would be played here, that the answers the universe may never impart, were buried here.

Which brings me to the story of the metal detector.

Charles explained in great depth to whoever would listen, the absolute will of the universe. So much existed in this world to be discovered. Not merely the great and monumental like new planets, fuel sources, and philosophies of thought. More precisely what Charles was enamored with, the minutae, innerspace, microcosm. He turned inward, underneath, inside it all.

Charles had charts in his house, not of the large but the small. He didn't have a topographical map of Oregon so much as a corkboard tacked full of photos, clippings and post-it notes. A passion of his was scouring the coast with his metal detector, looking, not so much to find but as to connect with the same spirit of discovery as an olde world explorer, primitive mystic, baby child.

Returning to the machine he held in his hands on these journeys into the under in-between. It was radio shack era make and manufacture. Charles knew eveything about his machine. He studied how it worked, why it did what it did, and knew how to repair it on occasion. I am not concerned with transmit coils, induction balance, signal discrimination, or pulse induction. He would explain in detail the reason for being and then go on to where these manufacture choices would lead him.

The energy expenditure, the strength of the signal, all coming back to Charles at a particular point in time. He poured his faith into energy stored within battery cell, hoping to connect to the metallic resonance, some disturbance in sand or loose soil.

The machine to man. The man to the earth. He poured his fingers into it, pulled away the strata of nature's design, what it chose to conceal for however length of time.

What Charles found, what he had so desperately been searching for. Were almost always slag metal, coins of indeterminate make and origin. The sand not preserveing so much as stripping away humanity, returning buried treasure to the element it came from.

Egretta, pt. 2
This Charles found beautiful, this was never his disappointment. He delighted in the discovery, the foreplay, the act of stripping away the pretext, of touching this virgin aspect.

Charles never expected to find a whole vehicle buried in the sand. It was near a riverbed, off the way of the roads and beaches. A 1969 Mercedes-Benz. Red, convertible top. Plates were not recovered with it and there were no serial numbers to speak of. Charles excavated the machine by himself over the course of a week, he'd rented a bungalowe nearby. The machine was in almost perfect working order. He gave it over to a mechanic, invested around two thousand into parts and labor.

He still had the car, he still persisted with his metal detector. He explained to me one evening, at a diner over hot coffee. "The will of the thing. Either it wanted to be found, tired of staying dead and buried, or in fact I wanted it so bad, the universe up and gave it to me, said, here you go Charles, you've suffered enough. Have this. It isn't some kind of lottery, but you believe in this, and through this I'll show you just how much you don't know. Look a bit closer, what do you see. Is that yourself, or is it me?"

Imogene, further documentation, insight into;

Was seven years older than me, to the day. It was curious we had the same birthday, which in theory should have made us a lot a like. But we never really had much to share with one another, our lives were very different and very unappealing to the other. Still, there were moments that understanding got exchanged across the thin membrane.

She studied cultural anthropology. She hoped to travel the world and become part of the global culture. She had a hard time with foreign language, despite a lot of effort, and secretly hoped that her mastery of the English language would be enough. She was a ♥♥♥♥♥ for grammar, which is perhaps why she and Charles got along so well. She liked smart guys who could talk for hours about life and their experience in it. The details that made up a learned education were big turn ons. Imogene had a thing for engineers and biologists, but it mostly just came down to getting them drunk and talking non-stop about things far over her head.

When she flunked out of her primary studies, she tried to coast along on her electives and ever slowly resigned herself to finding a way to crawl back to Small Wood and rediscover her place among the washed up forgotten. Her excuse to everyone but herself was this was how it was supposed to be, she played up her ordinariness, the fact she did not have enough money, good enough grades to support a four year college career.

In Imogene was an answer to the question, "Where do I go from here?" She had decided that life was a series of encounters, she would live in the present, give no thought to the future. In her was a simple basic desire to connect, learn from, and enjoy the company of others. The world was full of people, and people were the answer. She would give herself over to them.

She and Charles had shared company, nights infrequent. It was the tender grasp of two minds seeing understanding and then not. So much would be further muddled by lack of correspondence and miscommunication. There was an age difference, a physical attraction that was always see-sawing, hung up between desperation and ill-timing.

It was a fling, borne out of long nights without endings and days without proper starts. They were a couple in a loose sense, but the bond between them thick and messy. You could not sit between them without uncomfortability, there would be layers of meaning behind their comments to one another.

But this is not about them, this is about Imogene, who liked to read books about far away places she'd never get to, strange and exotic people she'd never know, unless they happened upon Small Wood. Her voice was strong and beautiful, so sure of herself. She was intelligent, well-read and attractive in her own way.

*If I developed an interest in her it was by accident. Nothing should have happened, but the curious interest, fascination, prescient hormone, was a long time coming. Her place in my life comes many years away from this small footnote. A weakness, I see developing, in my accuracy as a narrator. If these words you take as honest truth, I apologize. By honest truth, I mean all sides represented accurately and fairly. This is not the place for that. My voice is my own, all blanket judgements and basic misunderstandings aside. I approach this as an observer working backwards in my own life, profound insights gained in places such as these. I have no gift for knowing intrinsically.

Incidents involving Imogene before a time of great importance; Of
note, she found work as a barmaid at The Salty Schooner, a restaurant
dive bar hybrid that was rank in the stink of fishermen and their
coffer. I went there for lunch sometimes during a school day. She was
often my waitress. I would usually be reading a book for the thirty or
so minutes I had alone away from classes. It was a nice sort of
retreat, and I enjoyed her company. She tried to impress upon me the
wonder of coffee, but I stuck to soda and iced tea. My meal was usually
chicken strips and plank fries, or if not that, a Rueben sandwich. The
food was just okay, but the view of the bridge was nice. I liked the
empty booth and the old music they played there. It felt faded and
worn from memory.

Facts on Lily, about her, the central role she played;

Lily was also divorced, a concert cellist still active with the
Yakima Chamber Orchestra, and successful mother of two. Her youngest
daughter would graduate salutatorian a year ahead of me. Her
ex-husband, Patrick, kept a beach home in Small Wood, but worked most
of the year overseas for an international accounting firm. Lily made
sure that their broken household was a happy one, and that the
splintered family unit worked as well as it could. She put aside
differences and hostilities with Patrick to keep the peace and out of
that consideration a new mutual friendship emerged.

In her words the only reason none of that came crashing down was
because, "We have such great kids."

Lily was the driving force behind Egretta and never once missed a
meeting. Frances was one of her best friends and constant companions.
They took weekend trips to Portland to soak up as much culture as they
could with their allotted time together. They were a team, always
working in tandem to invite authors to local signings, organize
library charity events, and put out a community literary newsletter.

Lily was an extraordinary young woman, beautiful, resourceful and brazen
intelligent. She kept a book in a shelf at the Blue Heron, signed by a
very famous and influential author. On the page it read,

"Dearest L –Return home safe in the months to come. I know you've read your old copy ragged, this in hopes there is still something left undiscovered. Write soon, learn me in the lessons of how very extraordinary you are. I fear how the days will feel longer in the absence of your company."

If there was one thing Lily treasured above her family, it was her time spent as a muse, the life she lived in tune with the greater good of coaxing lasting art from the visionary paragons of this era. She kept this aspect of her life hidden to but a few, the glory of she once was, always will be, mostly forgotten. Shadows from her past had occasion to spill forth and the stories of these encounters wonderful, fantastic even.

At the Getty Mueseum, her eldest daughter would see a photograph of a naked woman, half in shadow, fading to black. She would try and place the feeling, this instinctual knowing recognition and she would reflect for some time on it and never begin to understand.

The Bright Falls Record, pt. 1

Up awake, at hours when the company I keep is made up of figments and
fragments. I write because words keep coming, that is, the thoughts
are neverending. I eat crumbs that are the remains of yesterday. The
transition time between then and now, thoughts racing before the dawn
of another day. The frenzy takes me and I must keep going, I must not
stop. I have to write, about all of them. Those who know their place,
the ones who live with damaged goods, whose only dream is to come up
even on the karmic scale. My heart goes out to them, and their
restless thoughts. Pollution of hurt and grief spills out like split
trash bags on the sidewalk. This is an essay on nothing, no thesis body
to be found. An example made in maps on walls, delineating who we are
by where we live. Status and circumstance, the rise and fall of a
nobody, no name given. Small Town Blues.

I make up a -fiction- to dilute the facts of this life. My story is simple and easy,
so I'll begin there and take you someplace else.

It's not that my history unnerves me, it is just that it has been so long since I've sat down to write seriously, I don't think I can tell the truth without boring myself, so I must fabricate and you must
settle. You found these words and continue reading of your own accord.

Local Writer Series - Frank Boehme
Frank Boehme, much like the other Pacific-northwest literary superstar, Ken Kesey[], trafficked in local eccentric character work against larger than life themes, displaying a deft cultural insight and a wicked sense of humor. Boehme's first novel, "The Spawning Grounds" was to be photographer, filmmaker and actor Dennis Hopper's second feature film, rather, that is until Boehme's unexpected disappearance.

Set in a fictional version of Small Wood, "The Spawning Grounds" was often called the edgier version of "The Outsiders" or likened to a grifter version of "Catcher in the Rye." Frank Boehme's teenage alter-ego dealt with small town sex, the legacy of alcoholism, and the death of local industries and trying to find work in towns that were all but dried up. Notorious for school curriculums attempting to include it on suggested reading lists, "The Spawning Grounds" annually makes librarians Banned Book[] list.

Boehme's second novel was a huge departure for the author. The sprawling and magical realist detective novel "The Geisha" concerned a soldier turned Private Eye working through a dream-like case involving a logging firm in the Pacific Northwest. Absurdist elements such as a Japanese brothel along the Columbia River, decadent riverboat cruises with operatic productions, and a high school wrestling team randomly harassing and assaulting the detective, all dominate the massive work. Literary types tend to associate the films of David Lynch's as having a strong Boehme-vibe.

Frank Boehme was working on his third novel, "Planned Community" when he disappeared from his family home in Small Wood.
The original short story version of "The Spawning Grounds" by Frank Boehme, pt. 1
I’m in a small town high school gymnasium with a bunch of old men who get off on spouting out the rules of parliamentary procedure to the uninitiated. Rebecca, my wife of 22 years is sitting next to me, quiet and angry. I hold her hand under the table, more for my sake than hers. Our table is pushed corner to corner with two others, forming a U. The air smells of wood polish and talcum powder. Wrestling season. Every chair squeak is echoed ten times over.

Mayor Ethel Marshall sits in the middle of the U with a smile on her face, flanked by senior members of city council. She has a radio microphone plugged into an amp she lifted from the band room. Over there on the right is Pastor Tim with wife and children. His oldest son, James, is in my Psychology class. The little sister Rachel is a Freshman in Ethics. Good kids. Naïve as hell, but sweet in their own way. There’s the K-U’s way back over there. Originally from San Francisco, they own an all-natural Italian Bakery ten miles out of town right on the water. Four kids, each one cracks me up. Liberal as hell, but every small town needs that sort of element to make something happen on an off day. They’re why we’re here right now. Their new cause is a book by Frank Boehme. The Spawning Grounds, it’s called.

Two hours ago, I was painting scale model miniatures of Mexican War battalions. I dipped a single-hair brush carefully into metallic resin number four because I needed to add a worn quality to the Ranger’s cannons. Becca was listening to Credence on vinyl and dancing in front of the plants she laid out under the front windows for sunlight. That’s when I got the phone call from Eric. My boy.

I’m in trouble. Dad. He said. I’m in a lot of trouble.
How bad, Eric. My eyes filled with tears. I’m your ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥. Tell me. Son. Last time he called he was trying out stolen credit cards at a gas station in San Diego. He’s not a kid who gets into harmless trouble with friends.
Dad. He said. This is my one phone call, Dad.
This is your one phone call? Jesus. I said.
I could see him. Through my tears, I could see my boy holding himself up.
What’d you do Eric? What’d you have to go and do?
Don’t want to talk about it. Dad. Just need to hear you.
Okay kid. We can just talk.
Dad. He said heavy breathing. I’m sorry.
I know Kiddo.
Dad. He said. It was in a library bathroom this time. I had to show them.
Jesus Kiddo.
I didn’t touch them, Dad. I never do that.
I know.
Don’t tell Mom. You can’t.
I won’t.
Thanks, Dad. Thanks.

Twenty hours ago I was reading Frank’s book to get ready for the hearing. The saddest thing is how much he didn’t get right. Frank despised everyone and everything. I was his best friend, but that didn’t mean he cut me any slack.

I hate Small Wood. He said to me out on the pier. We were helping the tourists catch crabs, trying to pick up chicks who were just passing through town.

I hate my drunk piece of ♥♥♥♥ daddy and those Siletz Indian ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥s because they killed my ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ mother. Frank had his routine. He was smiling. I hate my daddy for lying to me, when I know damn well it was me who killed my mommy. Don’t laugh. It’s only funny because it’s true. I hate my ♥♥♥♥ because it’s too ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ small. I hate the ocean and the pull of the moon. I hate the tides because of what they bring in each and every day.

Amen brother. I said and smiled and tossed a small crab to the gulls that hovered overhead. They swooped and fought to get a piece. You know what I hate most of all, he said. No I don’t. Guess man. Don’t want to. Go on guess.

Frank was my best friend because I beat the ♥♥♥♥ out of him to keep him from killing himself when he was twelve. He fought every inch as I pulled him from the water then afterwards back on dry land. Frank was skinny and mean, smarter than all the dumb-♥♥♥♥s put together. Born and raised in Small Wood. He said. This is our curse, to grow up in a dying town. With a bunch of dumb-♥♥♥♥s. He laughed.

I hate these ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ Salmon most of all. He said to me that day. Stupid fish. Suicidal fish. They’re too dumb to figure out they’re the local currency and the Alsace River is the bank from which our daddies second-mortgage our homes. All we can do is grow up ♥♥♥♥-poor and ♥♥♥♥♥♥ off and try to dodge the boats and canneries that killed our granddaddies. Those ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ fish don’t have the right to kill themselves. No Sir. Those fish got no ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ right. Amen brother I said and smiled.

Nineteen hours ago I was a piece of fiction in my best friend’s book. He wrote about all of us, all those years back. Becca and I were seeing each other as often as possible. Her parents were pretty self-righteous. We couldn’t hang out together for more than an hour at a time. That didn’t stop me from feeling up second base every now and then.

Heavens, stop that. She said with a smile, not even trying to stop me. Wiggling closer, her breath on my neck. I touched her lips with my hand, felt her through my fingers. I can’t take any more. She said, I smiled, she hugged me closer. Her hands under my shirt, along my back. Light turned on inside the garage. She saw it before I did and was quickly composing her attire. Becca’s father came out, pushing the garage door up, walking to the car as Becca exited the passenger side door. She came back around and kissed me goodnight. Her father silently walked her back. She adjusted her skirt on the way up the stairs.

Frank wrote about all this because he was in the back seat ♥♥♥♥ing Sue Ellen halfway to Tuesday. Sue Ellen came as I started up the ignition and her moan continued as I took off down the empty dirt road. Frank laughed and zipped himself up when we were back on the main drag. Sue Ellen adjusted herself, then sat back, completely taken with Frank.

What’s the matter. He said. Becca ain’t working out too well is she. Shut up I said. The car bounced up and down over potholed country road. My fingers tightened around the wheel, Frank slapped me on the shoulder. You mate, you die. ♥♥♥♥ and flounder. Don’t want that, do you? Course not I said. Everything in its time. Me and Sue Ellen here, our time is just about up. You’re still alive, you and Becca both. He laughed like a madman. Sue Ellen wasn’t pleased with the conversation we were having and started whining. You two make no sense. Quiet on a dark road in the middle of the night.

I drove on.
The Spawning Grounds, pt. 2
Pastor Tim stands up at the podium in the middle of the gymnasium. He’s got brown hair to his shoulders, wears jeans and flannel. He says, “I’m here today because pornography will not be taught to my children. This book depicts teenagers having premarital sex. The language is coarse and inappropriate. This is not acceptable English material. This shouldn’t even be in the library for casual reading. Thank you.”

Applause, of course. His argument is short and sound. The Spawning Grounds is indeed filthy and coarse. No one here disagrees with that. Joe KU, the oldest son stands up and walks to the podium. The senior son in my psychology class. He is dressed the nicest in the room, wearing a three-piece suit. “My dad read this book to me when I was in fifth grade. It was hilarious and honest and sad. It was real. That’s why he moved here with my mom. He wanted to experience life like this. He fell in love with the town because of this book. He raised all four of us here because he learned to love Waldport for what it really was. This book is a part of our history. Sure, the book has a bunch of sex in it. It’s kinda scary thinking about all of you as stupid kids having sex, but that’s the reality of it. You people really did this, and acted in some ways worse than all of us. This is a valuable tool we can learn from. You know, learn from the mistakes of others. The ones who came before us. That’s history, right. That’s what you teach us. Well, that’s all I’ve got to say.”

I smile and nod. Joe is one of those brilliant kids who won’t take ♥♥♥♥ from anyone, questions everything. He can be brutal defending his argument. How just like Frank that boy is.

I stole my daddy’s gun. He said when he and I took a road trip up to Depot Bay for the day. No you didn’t. Yes I did, see here. He opens up his backpack and shows it to me, sitting at the top. That ain’t loaded? Sure as hell it is. I keep driving. Don’t worry. He said. I thought we could go on the beach and shoot seals. Seals? Don’t look at me like that. You just said you wanted to go and shoot seals, what reason you have to shoot seals? They eat the salmon. That’s not a reason.
They steal the crab bait out of the pots, they’re smart ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥s, those seals. You’re insane. Yeah, but those seals are no good, and probably deserve it. Silence as Frank pulled a sandwich out of his bag. Through messy bites he said. You got to read that Kesey book I gave you. Watch the mess. ♥♥♥♥ing brilliant, that book. That tuna you’re eating smells something awful. There was no mayonnaise. I had to improvise. That’s horrible, I don’t even want to know. Did you read it? No, not yet. You’d better, it’s ♥♥♥♥ing killer. Next time Dad drags me out to help work the tows I’ll bring it with me. Yeah man, you should. In the book, a bunch of crazies like me escape from the loony bin and go to Depot Bay and go fishing for the day. Only crazies would want to go fishing in Depot Bay. For fun man, they do it all for a little bit of fun. To escape the insanity. You want to shoot seals. For fun man. To escape the insanity.

We ended up buying saltwater taffy and beer. Frank and I built a bonfire on the beach and spent the night out there, drunk beyond good measure. You love her, don’t you? I nodded and then he nodded. I don’t have that yet. He said. Love. I’m just a ♥♥♥♥ing salmon man. I started to crack up and slid down off the log. You and your salmon. You wearing the analogy a little thin, you think? Frank tossed his empty bottle in the fire and watched it smoke up from the inside. Those Siletz Indian ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥s. Those ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥s my daddy says killed my mommy. They think the Salmon is something special. Something to admire. You’re ♥♥♥♥ing drunk. My daddy didn’t love my mommy. Your dad wasn’t a salmon, either. He coulda been. My mommy died right after she had me. She coulda been a salmon. Maybe. I said. Maybe she was. Becca is something special, isn’t she? I smiled and nodded and gave my best friend another beer.

Frank was my best friend until the day he ran away. He told no one. Just up and disappeared. I was the reason why. Clarrisa cornered me in the hall and told me. I found Becca and cornered her at lunch. Becca. I said. Becca. She wouldn’t look at me. Becca. I lowered my head to look her in the eyes. Becca. She covered her face with a hand. Becca. Crying. Becca. I grabbed her by the shoulders. Becca. Her face was red and wet. Her hands were on my arms as I shook her. Becca. She fell limp and dropped to her butt. Becca. Sitting and crying in front of everybody. Becca. Frank grabbed me and pulled me away from her. I looked at her. Becca. She wouldn’t look back. Becca wouldn’t look back.

I was sobbing, there in front of everybody. Frank tried to talk to me. It was nothing. It meant nothing. Ask Becca. It was a mistake. My best friend. My love. It was a mistake. Don’t be mad at her. I was the one who started kissing. Becca. It was me. Frank. Yes. Frank. It’s over. Frank. Nothing more will happen. Frank. We decided it was a mistake. Frank. It will never happen again. Frank. We’re sorry. Frank. I can’t begin to tell you how sorry. Frank. You’re my best friend.


I punched him in the jaw and he went down with one hit. He didn’t make any noise as I kept hitting him. He didn’t move as I punched him in the chest. He didn’t make any noise when I broke his nose and split his lip. He didn’t say anything to me ever again. That’s where the book ends. Frank died when he was thirty.

Becca stands up and makes her way to the podium. She looks radiant. “Frank Boehme gave us a gift. His novel is our novel. It is the story of each and every one of us. But the idea of teaching The Spawning Grounds to my students frightens me. It is a wonderful story, but it is so very personal. The mistakes I made as a kid would be open to debate in my classroom. I couldn’t teach this novel. I couldn’t bring any objectivity to the story. I couldn’t grade an essay questioning Frank’s decision to sleep with his best friend’s girlfriend. I couldn’t read my students the chapter where I. Everyone here knows his story. It is a big piece of our tiny little culture. It is a part of who we are. There’s nothing more I need to say today. Thank you.”

Becca sits and I hug her tight.

We hadn’t spoken in three months. Not since Frank went away. She found me on the docks, cleaning the deck of my daddy’s boat. I looked up at her and I smiled and invited her down. She slipped a little and I caught her. We rocked back and forth on a bench, sitting and watching the rest of the boats come in for the evening, hearing the bells and whistles and moans of the harbor.

I’m pregnant. She said. I just nodded and hugged her close. I’m going to keep the baby, because it is my baby. Frank’s not going to know. I nodded and watched her face. She was calm and warm to the touch. Her hair was tied down but strands hovered in the wind above her head. Marry me. She said. I love you. She said. I want you to be my husband. I want you to be the father. You were always supposed to be the father. I kissed her on the lips and looked in her eyes. There was love. I nodded and kissed her again. I put my hands in her hair and pulled her close. Our breath steaming and swirling. Our fingers locked and inseparable. Marry me. I said. I will. She said. We sat and watched the sun go down. Beneath us the salmon made their way to the river.
"Literature of Exhaustion versus Replenishment"
From Frank Boehme's SW short story collection. Points of Impact, pt. 1
I got very angry. Over the summer spent training for football, I had
slimmed down, gained considerable muscle mass, and worked up a healthy
appetite of unchecked aggression. When I think back on football, I
remember the mindset it put me in. When at first I was apprehensive and
distant, tossing in witty asides and cracking wise, I was later
borderline bloodthirsty and hair-trigger. I did not know my limits. I
strained to push myself harder and further than I had ever known. I'd
run for miles, knowing no end to what I could actually accomplish. I'd
gained my breath and got the beat down like it was a musical
performance I knew intrinsically. I could go and go, and sometimes it was
all I did.

I learned how alone and empty I was on the inside, I
strained to fill that interior space of myself with connection,
knowledge and beauty. To know myself, I'd push on into fringes of
not quite exactly normal.

What happened was this. Our first two games,
not to count our pre-season exercises, were away games. We actually
won our first two without much fanfare. In between victory, the pep
squad left us little
handmade offerings on our lockers. We wore our jerseys to school and
puffed our stuff. It was all a bit of a show, as we had two star
players who made up for the relative lack of experience all around and
made the rest of us look good. There were many happy accidents on
the away fields, as well the early teams we played were far more
rural and lackluster than the pride and joy of Small Wood.
The Friday night of our first home game was raucous.
The crowd was electric, the turnout left the minority of town
still at home, and the game began beautifully.
One, two quarters passed with us doing a bit more than nudging ahead.

Coach Kordowski humbled things down in the locker room, trying to
exercise a modicum of restraint and beat it into our heads the game
was far from over. Near the end of his impassioned plea for
level-headedness, an assistant coach came up and whispered into
Kordowski's ear.

Kordowski took a moment, raised his hands as if to
strangle or hug, than lowered them, his bald face washed tight and red. He
tried choking them back but the tears came anyway.

He told us in a plain voice that two girls were killed in a hit and
run accident just two blocks from the stadium near the start of the
first quarter. Everyone on the team knew the dead girls by name except me. The
teenager was named Erica and despite sharing class together, I'd never
really noticed her. She was walking her developmentally disabled
sister, Monica, to the game when a motorist ran into them at a speed
that tore their bodies to pieces. Later on, details would emerge that
he was drunk and the gore of the impact so shocking he stopped and
tried to throw the scattered remains into the drainage ditch and cover
the bodies and flee. He made it to a motel before he broke down, wept
himself sober and over the phone turned himself into the police.
Points of Impact, pt. 2
Future Tense.

Four years later, I was attending a nearby state university. Living in
the farm house we had occupied was a family of four.
Sometimes you hear about what happens
to the families that live in the homes you've abandoned.
The husband employed himself as a
full time metal sculpture artist and part time handy man. The wife
sold chicken eggs by the side of the road. The rent on the place
wasn't much, and they managed the day to day life just fine. They had
two cute young daughters who were smitten with the farm life.

One day, the husband and father began over-reacting to every little
thing. Something in his voice betrayed a hidden anger. He retreated to
his workshop and tore apart metal, twisting the original forms beyond
comprehension. He stayed there all day and all night. His wife and
mother of his children brought him food and drink and a blanket, which
he didn't need in the heat of composition.

Inside the home, the wife put the children to bed. She read them
stories together, and when the smaller girl was asleep, read to the
older one individually. She put on reading glasses halfway through the
hour long ritual, and sipped at an ever cooling mug of hot tea and

She pushed the edge of the blankets under and over the tiny forms
tight and checked the windows for cracks. The mother and wife closed
the door, leaving a sliver of light to cut into the warm space. She
walked down the stairs, grabbing an afghan blanket off the banister.
She put her cup in the sink of the kitchen and ran it under water. She
looked out the kitchen window, past the fruit-bearing trees and saw
the light from the workshop.

She went into the living room and turned on the small, barely working
television. Local reception was spotty, more radio than video. She
tuned into public broadcasting, interrupted the middle of a raucous
British imported sitcom. She sat with the blanket on her lap and
slowly drifted off to sleep.

She was woken suddenly by the sound of glass breaking. Coming out of
first stage sleep, she initially shook it off as the remnants of a
near dream. But then it happened again, the sound coming from outside.
It was barely there, muted by distance, then again in her right ear,
hardly registering. She stood and went to the window, but saw only
darkness past the light cast from inside. She felt like a tiny ship at
sea, the moon hidden behind clouds, and pulled the afghan closer. Time
passed and she waited, keeping watch. Nothing happened.

She walked to the service porch, pulled on a jacket and unlocked the
door. The smashing, shattering sound of glass again, this time from
right outside in the garage port not twenty feet from her. The wife
and mother got very afraid now. She locked the door back up and
retreated into the living room. There were two large picture windows
that killed the heating bill, but provided a gorgeous view of the
valley. She looked out from behind, like a second pair of glasses, the
feeling of desperation and inaction overtaking rational thought like
the quickening of her breath.

She heard the sound of broken glass, the tinkling of the shards
against the floor, now from inside the house. The small service porch
window, she rushed back to it, just peeking in. A clump of metal was
still coming to a rolling stop. She locked the secondary service door
and rushed upstairs, one hand in front of her mouth, the other
swinging and grabbing and pushing. She was crying, tears were coming
fast down her face, but she made no sound. One of the picture windows
imploded as she went up the steps, not looking back.

The mother went to her children, who were already awake and confused.
She pulled them from their blankets and they all went into the master
bedroom, with its two stairwell hallway doors and connecting bathroom.

The sound of breaking glass continued. The mother phoned the police,
who were calm and even. The mother tried to match their rationale
tone. It occurred to her that they were separated by so much. The
voice on the other end was sympathetic, casual, and assuring, trained
to relay information, to be a presence, but the two worlds the mother
and the dispatcher occupied were far apart and could never be bridged.

One was safe, away from harm, comfortable and emotionally distant.
Whereas the mother was suffering a shock induced breakdown, her home
invaded and ♥♥♥♥♥ by brute force, her children contemplating their own
mortal danger perhaps for the first time, her own very life perhaps in
the balance. What was in her ear, alien, calm and constant, a flood of
reassurance and it's alrights it's okays. The mother knew the voice on
the other end could not hear the tinkle of glass, the crunch of
footsteps over the ruin, the bass of whole house beating to the sound
of approach.

His voice called out to them, the husband father's. He said he was
bleeding, that he'd cut himself, that he needed help. The mother wife
kept talking into the phone, her children close to her in silence,
erratic breathing in their tiny chests, not sure what they should be
doing. They played with each other's hair.

He pounded his fists against the hard wood door. When it would not
give way, he tried kicking it. He persisted for minutes, screaming
obscenities and threats of violence, pleading love and death in the
same bloody roar. Eventually he collapsed, weeping, shaking the door
with his sobs.

When the police arrived, he came back to life and took to defending
his home from the authorities. He was subdued and sedated and put in
the back of the police car until the ambulance arrived. When the
officers assured her it was over, and that she could come out, the
mother wife and her daughters emerged, shaking but pacified calm.

There were smears of gore all through the house. The father husband
had cut himself pretty bad on his hands and arms. It was revealed that
he punched out his car's windows first, with bare fists. When he
noticed how badly he'd cut himself, he wrapped them and continued
punching out windows with his bandaged hands. For the windows he could
not reach, he threw his art through, making one last bold statement.

The husband father was not a bad man, he just for some reason forgot
to take his medication. The mother wife and her daughters stayed at an
anonymous women's shelter in the woods for three weeks while he
recovered, served a small stint in jail, and went to counseling. All
the while I helped my grandmother with the repairs to the family home.
The mother wife felt so incredibly horrible and understood that no
simple apology or explanation would do. The family vanished to another
town, another rented home and prayed to god something like this would
never happen again.
Points of Impact, pt. 3
Past Tense.

A simple statement, over and over. I'd sing it to myself for hours at
a time, alone in bed at night. I was struck with insomnia. Most nights
I was up till three or four in the morning, up at six-thirty for
school. When I could sleep, I'd often wake up hours early and not be
able to fall back asleep. I made up a song and sang it to myself,
hoping I'd rediscover a natural pattern. I felt most alone at these
hours. Often I'd just keep reading from twelve at night until the next
morning. I didn't let me family know about it, my school work did not
suffer; my performance on the field never mattered enough.

Often I'd just look out my window, at the moon on the night horizon,
falling behind the many trees, I'd listen to noises of animals and the
lands surrounding. I worked myself into a state of extreme paranoia
and anxiety. Thoughts overtook me; I'd consider what ifs that made me
shake. The song, the mantra, the statement was my key to fighting the
night terror, but it would only work once or twice in an evening,
after that I was left to fight my way to dawn, until the shadows
pulled back and wet covered the earth.

It wasn't simply being afraid of the dark; it was more the thought of
the overwhelming horrible pit of despair I'd see people sink into, it
was about me coming to terms with the total otherness that existed in
the world. I lived on the edge of darkness, and I peered into it every
night. When thousands of stars were out in force, I was afraid of the
alien unknown, how very small and pointless I was, how over-powering,
all encompassing it was in relation. When the clouds covered and all
was a foggy haze, I was afraid of what looked just out of view, the
tangible barrier between here and there, to lose yourself inside and
never come out.

All around me was fear, and I never let on how just afraid I was. What
really made my blood run cold was the idea that for every genuine
terror that hit me, there were a dozen more out there I'd never even
considered. Just the sheer enormity of me being unfamiliar and
uncomfortable in Small Wood hit me, and hit me hard. I was coming
to understand and appreciate the true transition to adulthood,
or at least sympathize with my own strange situation, could
feel the impending weight of responsibility and decision. And that
scared me. So I stayed up late, my eyelids not my enemy, but doing me
no favors.

From September to December, my thoughts turned grim. My classmates
gave me the nickname Morbid, though I never really saw myself in that
light. I always felt my tone far more diffusive and joking than
serious, but I knew my nighttime thoughts were overtaking my daytime
interactions and it was reflected in my habit and nature. There was a
lot of bad going on in the world that first fall in Small Wood, and
this was the very first time it got through to me, affected me in ways
beyond my understanding. Small towns more than big, make the bad personal.

Tender was the flesh of the left and right edges of my mouth, the seams between my lips. I needed a shave and I'd been rubbing out of habit. The home game, my helmet off while I stood on the sidelines. When I first started practicing, before we got suited up, I was afraid for my safety. We weren't supposed to be hitting each other like we were, and minor injuries were frequent and noticeable. At the end of the day we could grimace a smile and compare our wounds. In hindsight, the week without pads was probably to toughen us up and weed out the players who couldn't grin and bear it. Pads were like the best thing ever. I felt like a rubber ball, like I could bounce off anything. I was an electron spinning out of orbit. It was as much mental padding as physical, and without having to worry, the body could do some pretty wicked crazy stuff. Gross physical injury placebo is what it was, and and it worked wonders for my self esteem and general teenage feelings of invulnerability.

We were getting walked all over the third quarter. The news of the hit and run had sobered everyone to the point of detached introspection. There was no big whoop do it for the dead girls speech, only silence and tears. We were short two players who'd left the game to go to their dear friends, the family in shock and mourning. There was an understanding that a football game was not life and death tonight, that no one would be able to concentrate on winning after such a great loss. But we played and we won, I'll save you the suspense, as that wasn't the ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ point. It was our last victory of the season, the rest downhill, each game far more humiliating than the last.

I just remember the final touchdown, the final ticking away of the clock, our victory assured. When it was all over, they flashed R.I.P. on the scoreboard and people filed out and away into the night. It was a Friday night where the players agreed not to get trashed and make trouble in the supermarket parking lot, where parents talked by their cars about finding the human filth responsible and doing unspeakable things to him, where religious types and the sympathetic souls held a candlelight vigil at church across the street, and where I went straight home to take a shower, sit in silence and stare out the window at the coming storm.
The Small Wood Volumes - "The Siren of Seagash"
"The Siren of Seagash"

Her real name was Delores Wiebe. Born in the late 1800s, her legs fused together during development in her mother's womb and her toes splayed out like long thin fingers, upon which thin webbing crept part way down the lengths, joining each digit. A man collecting freaks
squinted in just the right light and saw himself a genuine mermaid. His name was Eric Jarvis, a showman and grifter who was aging and looking to set down roots. Delores' parents did not abandon her so much as sell her, exhausted from the efforts of rearing her. No doubt
they saw the charms of her youth slowly twisted into a parody of adolescence. I did not learn the daily details of her life, but I could imagine them unpleasant. To sell his attraction, Jarvis stripped
young Delores naked and had someone carry her onto a small, semi-aquatic stage with an unnatural island for her to pine at young men from a distance, all for the cost of a few coins.

I don't know why I started researching the mermaid, but I was intrigued. I
knew of the Fiji Mermaid, a con job of P.T. Barnum and wondered if
this Siren may also be the somewhat convincing chimerical concoction
of an over-stimulated taxidermist. But Ms. Wiebe was no shaved monkey
fused to a tuna. I found no other pictures or photographs of her,
beyond the initial discovery of the carved wooden advertisement. In
Small Wood's Elk Lodge, a newspaper clipping existed to re-enforce her
historical existence. I will return to its significance later on.


It's not like I was poring over books to find out the history of this
woman. The story of Delores came to me in fragments during the years I
lived there, like most such stories that come out of small towns.
Understand that there is a veil about places like Small Wood and that
veil must be actively lifted, bit by bit, if you ever wish to see past
the ignorance of the place and the populace. Small towns guard their
secrets well, as the stain of time will forever tarnish family names,
local businesses, and whole generations whose ideas and practices have
fallen out of fashion with modern thinking. If anything, Small Wood
was a wonderful repository for wayward ideals, a time capsule, sealed
tight, of mores, taboos, and tragedy.

I had a dream about the mermaid while I was napping between morning
and evening sessions of football practice. I was not expecting the
sheer exhaustion of the routine and did little for the first week
besides eat, sleep, and bathe. I remember the dream because it was vivid,
and I was soaking out my soreness in the large sunken first-floor
bathtub when it occurred.

I was under one of the many waterfalls that line the valley. Specifically, I
was in one of the many smaller Sapo Falls, under the beat of the
cascading wall. The opaque film of water in front of me, distorted the
world outside the cool calm wet of the underneath. And that's where
she came to me, this mermaid. Her lower half was more eel
than fish, leather thick with mucous, her hair long and looped in on
itself wet, her eyes curious but innocent, like a neighbor's timid pet
dog. Her lips found mine under the water and she pressed up against
me. It was a short dream, far more sensual than sexual. I woke up with
a nervous anxiety that had to do more with the imagery of being late
for practice, than of leaving behind a pastoral tropical dreamland.

I did not give the dream much thought. I had an eye on a teammate's
sister who picked him up after practice, and she in fact occupied most
of my waking fantasies. She was a very thin dark featured young woman,
exotic looking to the thick and pale sorts such as myself who made up
the majority in Small Wood. In two months time, my tan was quickly
fading, and serious sunbathing out on the roof above my bedroom could
not sustain what I'd acquired at the equator. Her name was May, and
she was fun to think about amid all the poundings in pads, the forced
repetition of drilling, distracting my thoughts from the sounds of whistles and grunts.

She was casual carefree, beautiful and strong in self, content just to sit
around half the day and watch the boys practice football. She
eventually settled on a star player and disappeared into the
background noise of life once school started. But May and I crossed
paths many times, for many reasons, and her connection to Delores in
my mind was always liquid, never firm, as May and Delores were as
different as two individuals could be, living a hundred years and just
one mile apart.

The Siren of Seagash, pt. 2
The Cliffside Circus looked more like a bordello or gaming parlor than
an actual circus. The main building was true enough built up along the
edge of a cliff, overlooking jagged rock outcroppings, beaten raw by
the harsh surf beneath. Smaller satellite lodgings and showrooms were
built up in a semi-circle, an interrupted wagon train.

Eric Jarvis had an only child whose name was David. Since the age of
fifteen, he was known as a hard-drinking, hard hitting man. He was
eventually killed at the age of thirty-three for allegedly ♥♥♥♥♥♥ a
prominent mill owner's daughter. David grew up on the road, a brutal
life for any child of that era, leaving his siblings dead and buried across the
landscape of his youth. At his father's insistence, David had
relations with many of the retinue retained at the circus. He often
said he loved the face of Delores, in more ways than one, but by all
accounts he truly did care for the misshapen girl. He was often seen
nursing a bottle, standing watch over her like a protective older
brother, often intimidating the rowdies who'd try to climb over the
rail, wade into the pool and grab a feel.

David's uncle and Eric's brother, Jeff, was the primary attraction at
the Cliffside Circus, a very talented and renowned clown and
vaudevillian performer. He was a bitter misogynist, though his disdain
for life was spread pretty evenly out across all ethnicities,
religious convictions and sexual hang-ups. He was a foul and funny
individual, and according to rumors, a very successful chicken hawk. There were no
surviving women in the Jarvis household, so Jeff took it upon himself
to hold the dwindling family together.

In the cold spring of 1902, an ice storm hit the coast hard. It was an
unusual sight, to see frost in the sand, trees glazed in clear. It
lasted close to a week and culminated with hundred mile an hour winds,
and a torrential wash of misery. Water came down off the mountains in
wicked gushes, uprooting trees and tearing through homes. The
Cliffside Circus had the unfortunate position of being situated at a
washout point on the coast. The staff and workers worked in freezing
conditions to salvage as much as they could, as fast as they could,
before it all was swept into the sea.

Somehow Delores was forgotten about until the end. They heard her
screaming as her tropical island enclosure was being slowly carried
away over the erosion of the actual cliff side itself. The shelf was
sloughing off completely, weakened beyond the point of no return. She
called out for help, but the ground was an unstable, sinking mess.
Invisible cracks in the earth filled with water, and a misplaced foot
would at best, sprain an ankle, at worst, disappear you completely in

A split tree had gashed David's arm and he was being tended to, and
implored his father to go after the trapped girl. Eric got a team of
able-bodied young men, tethered with ropes, and inched towards the
stranded, perilous mermaid exhibit. Reports differ about the exact
timing of the collapse, but it was at this point that much of cliff
gave away, and about twenty feet of rock slid into the surf, taking
several buildings down the side, and leaving the remainder straddled
on the very edge. When the team got into the home, it was already at
an angle, mud pouring into it, and out a window. Delores was seen
holding herself above the cold thick shock of it all, grasping for
dear life to the tropical tree. She was screaming ever more
desperately, but knew that to release hold would be to swept out the
back, and to her certain death. Eric did his absolute best to save her
life, but their timing was just not good enough. The rest of the shelf
gave way, and the house crumbled into the ocean, taking Delores Wiebe,
Eric Jarvis, and two other men into the sea.

In the hours that followed, another team led by Jeff ventured to the
rocky bottoms, and recovered all the bodies, save for Delores. Whether
or not Jeff refused to waste time to salvage the corpse of Delores, or
it was never actually found, remains an unresolved sticking point.

But the story of Delores does not end there. As she was a tragic
figure in life, she remained, if not became, and even more tragic
figure in death.

The Siren of Seagash, pt. 3
Second Interlude

The grunion is a fish. A small, silvery fish that crawls ashore to reproduce. It is in almost every way unimportant, save for the fact that Small Wood holds an annual grunion festival, a celebration dedicated to the peculiar lifecycle of the odd fish. Local artisans and tourist shops promote the sale of special grunion bags, to make an extra buck or two off those who hold an opinion of the event an actual importance or significance. All this in hopes of sacking a fish driven defenseless by its basest instinct to mate.

It happened on a Sunday. I was kissed by a girl who had a boyfriend, and the kiss was not innocent. It was lust, plain, simple, and if there was fault for it happening it was my own. I pushed her away and held her at arm's length and her smile, her heat, turned to cold, sad anger as I watched her breathe in and out.

It all started earlier in the day. There was a beach-clean up our school was a part of. We scoured the coast for whatever nugget of refuse we could find. The problem of beach litter wasn't much of a problem, so the whole ordeal turned into a competition to see who could fill the inside of a whole trash bag, and even then everyone joined together to work in teams. The beach-clean up was a community event in preparation for the Grunion Festival, whereupon carnival equipment and food vendors were turned loose, high school beauty pageants held, and middling prizes raffled off. Many of us found it somewhat shortsighted that we were putting all our effort into making the town look good before the whole ordeal, instead of after. As it was, the festival put the whole town in a heightened sense of activity and tempers ran short all the way down the one main street that ran from the pacific coast inland. The town cop was being a bigger ♥♥♥♥ to admittedly ♥♥♥♥ teenagers, and the four beauty pageant queens were in cuthroat competition to build floats, bolster support, and be highly visible.

Since it was down to the wire, all four girls were volunteering their last few hours, helping with the beach clean-up, each going at it with their own brand of chipper fascism. It was here I met Katrina. She was the youngest of the competing queens, very beautiful, quite fiesty and sometimes a chore. She would later develop extreme hypochondria as she grew older, and we would eventually become good friends, but at this exact moment, she was at once, headstrong, sweet and easygoing. She liked most every person she dealt with, and abstained from the gossipmongering that was so common in her clique.

She approached me during the clean-up, and wanted to know who I was and what my situation entailed. I knew right off she wasn't hitting on me, it was more of a determined curiosity. She enganged my younger sister as well, asking her just as many questions. Katrina was the only daughter of Russian immigrants in the early seventies, born on these shores, instilled with a certain anxiety and worldlook that was at odds with the rest of the local community. Perhaps this common thread was the root of a friendship, perhaps it was just that she was smart, friendly, and I gained much entertainment by working her into a frenzy. Just to clear this up, Kate was not the girl who kissed me. That was Kate's friend, Shannon, who I had met a few weeks back.

My parents wanted a night together, so they dropped my sister and I off at Small Wood Rec Center, a small, deteriorating one room building on the main drag of town. Unfortunately, that night was a young person's dance instead of the usual, casual come as you are games of foosball, pool, and other bar games for kids who weren't old enough to drink. A portly kid was the supervisor, and there were eight kids making an effort, not counting my sister and I. We were standing at the entrance horrified, refusing to budge another step. A backwards glance confirmed that our ride had left for good.

His name was Jay Rose, and his aspirations in no particular order were actor, artist, and musician. He was popular in the sense that everyone liked the guy, not necessarily was he the most handsome, talented, charming person our age, but possesed a good mix of qualities that gave him confidence, most notably calm in the face of failure. He was out-going and energetic, very good at observing when people needed a solid word to pull them out of their own heads.

We never became fast friends, but always respected and kept a charitable distance from each other. We were alike in many ways, so the desire to stand apart was quite strong, and Rose was a senior so there was a natural falling out of touch after the school year was over.

Rose came up to inform me he'd kill the dance soon due to the poor turn out and instead open up the middle school gym to get a pick-up basketball game going.

Before that happened, a girl I hadn't paid much attention to came up and asked me to dance. I shrugged a confused sort of agreement and we walked out hand in hand sideways to the obvious dead zone of couples shuffling around in place ever so suggestively to the time of the beat.

She had a big grin on her face and kept her head rested on my chest for most of the dance. I wasn't really clued into the whole dating scene, and wasn't making any serious attempts at much of anything.

Jay Rose killed the thing dead and we all shuffled off to a ballgame.

End second interlude
The Siren of Seagash, pt. 4
In the immediate months following the death of his father, David Jarvis moved himself fifteen miles north and found work in a cannery. He was a frequent and noisy drunk, both on the job and off, and made few friends. His uncle had taken it upon himself to salvage the remnants of the circus, but David wanted nothing more to do with it. Jeff had the foresight to relocate the tiny operation to the new township of Cooper’s Bay, which would later become the coastal retreat of choice, due to its relative proximity to Portland, and the overwhelming and untapped natural beauty that surrounded the place.

David chose this new profession as a means to work his way onto a commercial fishing boat, an area he had no experience in, but also one where he’d have to be competing against hardened veterans who had been born into the industry, as had their still employed fathers before them.

A week after the disaster at Cliffside, while David was holed up in rented lodgings on the physical mend, he wandered out onto the beach to watch the sunset and break the silence of his self-imposed exile. He related the tale of what happened next with irregular flourishes and inventions, and my own interpretation is as such,

”I walked down to the water’s edge. It was after dark, and the moon could not be seen behind the clouds. In fact, light was hard to come by, what little of it shone was caught up in water that gleamed off the fresh tide’s edge. There was a plague of sand fleas, newly emerged to congregate and swarm upon the living and the dead. It was sitting there, after some time, that I noticed a bodily form working its way up on shore. At first I thought it to be a lone sea lion, then it stood upright. I stood and strained my eyes to see. It was a woman, naked to the world. The weather this time of year was loathe to tolerate well-bundled, so I rushed to her, so that I might cover her. The sand at night would seem to go on forever, what with the ebb and pull of the ocean, giving and taking away the surface, but eventually I got near enough to call out to her and be heard. She was in up to her navel, her arms out, dragging them along the surface. People say, I wanted to make her real again, bring her back to life. She walked out to me, her arms out for me to take her in and hold her. She was walking on two good legs. So I don’t know what to think myself, let alone explain to others. She didn’t say a word, she just stood there, the water at her knees, and I just stared back at her. I hate to say it, but a real chill crept over me, my body was telling me that this was no good, and every small hair on my body went tight. I backed away slowly, not wanting to take my eyes off her, and she just kept standing there with her hands out. Naked as she always was, for the entire world to see.”

But it was just David out there alone that night, and the only witness to the dramatic rebirth and reconfigurement of Delores Wiebe. No words were reported exchanged between the two, no real objective contact was made. It had the makings of a ghost story, and could only be dismissed or embraced as such. It was true that Delores had a younger sister, Rachel, but the two were about as different as two blood related siblings could possibly be, and a case of mistaken identity was out of the question. Rachel was married at age fifteen to the captain of a San Francisco based light cargo vessel, and was not seen in Small Wood again until her twenty-eighth year.

So it was that David spread the tale of the one-time mermaid, full-time ghost, who haunted the shores of Small Wood with frequent regularity. It was noted in public record that no one associated with Delores and her short, strange life died under irregular circumstances, nor did they report any unusual supernatural out of the ordinariness amid the everyday humdrum, nor receive any death-rattle messages from the beyond. As hauntings were reported then tallied in later years, the frequency attributed to Delores Wiebe manifestations rose. Nude young women emerging from the water silently and unexpectedly happened far more often than one might imagine.

David, while not believing Delores alive, did also not think her dead. He was a harsh realist who enjoyed storytelling and conniving a few dollars out of an unwilling victim, but almost seemed to refuse to believe his own tale when it ended and his consideration of it began. To everyone else in Small Wood, the strange report of Delores had little to no value, yet it was a curiosity that consumed David, and to the select few that knew the young man, it was more a product of his psychological grief and torment, than an actual real supernatural manifestation of the tragedy that lingered.
The Siren of Seagash, pt. 5
Third interlude

School started, the football season began, and I joined the school newspaper on a whim. While the football season was a glorious disaster and worthy of further commentary later on, the newspaper whim turned out to be one of the best things to happen to me in Small Wood. I had enough distinction at writing, design, reporting and editing to fill many capacities in an understaffed, underfunded academic endeavor and help make it shine in truly successful terms. The gig also got me out and about in the town under the pretext of scooping, digging my nose in and spending more time than necessary in a school or county library. It should be noted that Katrina was a photographer for the paper, Shannon a features writer, and it was Jay Rose who pencilled the one and only comic strip, "Drift Wood", about a teenager named Wood and his yearnings to leave the small town forever. Most of my friendships in Small Wood were forged out of that classroom and the late nights that I learned to manage myself and others, finding an escape from the spotlight of athletics.

From that very first day, I took to the newspaper with a passion. I'd write my stories on bus rides to and fro football games with headphones on, and ask just enough questions to get plenty of dirty looks and sideways glances. I enjoyed the itching sensation from when a good idea gnawed at me, and the pressure of a deadline sawed through any mental laziness that accumulated over the course of a week. Writing kept me honest and sane I discovered, as there was a good deal of dishonesty and insanity going around.

It was no big secret that Shannon had a thing for me, but I brushed her aside and all but ignored her. I did not and still do not enjoy hurting the feelings of others, but I was young and dumb and made the mistake of trying to have it both ways and be a nice guy. Within a week of her writing notes, having friends relay vague come-ons and hints, I figured she'd moved on. Hell, I saw her riding shotgun on Derek's arm and was instantly relieved and thought nothing more on the matter until her lips found mine.

So she kissed me and I might have kissed back a little. It was sensation and it was good, but my head knew better and I started talking and that sure did the trick. She was tears and bitter anger, and she quietly exploded on me. I just stood there silent while she lashed into me and it sure enough hurt, but there was something about her and the situation that made me numb. I did not understand her feelings, and all I could give back in return were looks of confusion. Up to this point, I was not passionate about girls at all, save for summer time romances, vacation liasons and bookstore glances. I was cold and insensitive for the most part. I was permanently nice and curious and could listen to them talk for hours, but when it came to giving, I didn't know what it was I could offer. I wanted so much that teenage girl presence in my life, that female half that was more wise and connected than my own twitcy male uncomfortable in my own skin nonsense, and I took advantage of their friendships because I saw them as good people I wanted in my life.

I suppose the reason I kept a tangible thread alive and well between us was because I didn't know that many people, and while I didn't have passionate longings for Shannon, she was decent company and I very much valued that in a human being. I couldn't explain my position in regards to her, so I did my best to stand there and let the backlash wash over me. The guilt I was feeling for hurting her was replaced by my anger for her own seething resentment. It was unfair, and while I understood it, it deeply hurt. I was a big puppy dog set upon by a pack of mean ♥♥♥♥♥es who extended their resentment to my little sister, as well. Uncool Zeus.

Derek was a teammate, I was the new kid, sp I got my ♥♥♥ a little kicked on the playing field by him and his friends. I suppose I welcomed that, playing the part of the whipping boy, to assail my own guilt. Nothing got broken or beat up too bad, but a little penance went a long way. One day harsh words were exchanged, and when it came to baritone ball-shaking bravado, I unleashed the honest truth and my godawful rage. Teenage angst if left unchecked, explodes, just like every other ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ adolscent emotion. No short fuses, all or nothing.

When I get well and truly angry and I lay into you, the last thing I attack is the body. Derek and the others learned this as the days went on. I laughed it all off and thought it was all in good fun. Within a month, I went from being the weird new kid to the likable nerd on the football team.

End third interlude

The Siren of Seagash, pt. 6
Disappearances occur at a higher than normal percentile in towns such as Small Wood. Firstly, they get noticed as it is hard not to notice the absence when everyone knows, or knows of, everyone else. Second, the rural quality of life is a warm blanket that can both comfort and smother. When someone wants to vanish, it is very simple to do. Third, small towns put up the front of being a lone beacon of light amid so much darkness. At once, people flock together for company and distance themselves just so. This duality of small town existence is a fragile and carefully designed thing. And finally, the most very sad and true fact about a person who disappears off the face of the map is that they are most often never heard from again. There are always exceptions, as people are so prone to prove.

A girl by the name of Gloria Bryant was last seen tending to chickens in a coop outside her room. Because of the unusual nature of the disappearance, and the fact that she appeared to be a content young woman of the era, foul play was immediately suspected. In truth, she had absconded with David Jarvis to his small one-bedroom home. They lived in sin for four days, enjoying each other in as many ways possible. Gloria laid low in the home, tending to small inside chores and errands, and waited for David in the evenings. The hammer fell when David revealed to the girl that he really had no feelings for her, and was not looking forward to the prospect of marriage or the remotest possibility of commitment. Jarvis made the mistake of giving the girl too much credit. She showed a casual disdain for most men, and David figured she'd tire of him as quick as he tired of her. He was wrong.

Gloria was found by the side of the road, beaten and dishevelled. Her rescueer was a travelling minister by the name of Cook. Him and his wife tended to her cuts and bruises and delivered her into the safekeeping of her parents. Gloria was the victim of a horrible crime, an inhuman monster. She played like she had never met Jarvis before, though several citizens had seen the two trysting together previous. Her act worked, and her description of the ♥♥♥♥♥♥ yielded a warrant for the arrest of David Jarvis.

Jarvis caught wind of the lynch mob headed his way, and managed to get as far as the port authority before a group manacled him and beat him to death. His body was delivered to the water and that was his burial.

But there is a further wrinkle to this narrative that begins like this. David Jarvis was at once, both reported killed in 1910, and working as a fisherman later that year. Unusual consistencies such as this showed up time and time again in Small Wood records. The town population hovered at around a thousand since the first official census. The article included the testimony of one David Jarvis, interviewed by an out of town paper covering the damming of the Shohshan River. I've summed up as follows,

"The fish will die, the industry will die, and finally the very town itself will die. If this action goes forward, there is nothing nobody can do to stop it. Those of us who still have voices are coming forward to say what needs to be said."

It is not known when or where the interview happened exactly, if the person claiming to be David Jarvis changed his name to protect his identity, or as some altogether cruel joke, but the words were writ in print and stamped with a date. If it was an anomoly, it was a curious one. If it was more than that, it was as if the boy afraid to cry wolf became just that.
Local Writer Series - Thomas Zane
Fantastical poet, Thomas Zane's work flourised while in residence in Bright Falls. Infamous for his friendships with many of the Pacific-Northwest Merry Pranksters, Zane bragged about being kicked off Further, the Prankster bus, only four hours into the journey. Zane belongs alongside the post-beat poets, Brautigan and Ferlenghetti. The magical and often ominous nature of his work delves into obvious psychedelic influnces and literary drug culture.

In life, Zane could be often seen hiking local trails up and along the coast with Gary Snyder or smoking a spliff and jamming with the Brothers Anderson.

His great romance with Lily Jensen and the subsequent fallout of the break-up that followed, was rumored to be the cause of Zane's institutionalization in the early seventies. For a period of three years, Zane underwent treatment and recovery.

Those close to Zane, at the time, spoke candidly about the cause of his breakdown. "Despite being in love, madly in love, Zane suddenly started to claim he and another woman, a woman named Barbara Jagger, were married and had a son. Two life events that clearly hadn't happened yet. His break and subsequent reconciliation with reality was a hard fought battle, and the estrangement it caused with Lily proved a difficult rift to mend."
From the selected poetry of Thomas Zane, pt. 1
Portions of moments, whole chapters of life,
Idea nowhere to be found, not even among cross faded dream.
Now, idea spills out some font of the cosmos, bigger than reckoning,

Idea, such a thing wondrous in theory.
In human thought, idea gives birth to good, and then bad.
Not so much evil, though it could be that,

Bad just a note played off key, missed ever so slight.
Bad hits your gut, like good does, or should.
Where one stabs the mind with pangs of human recognition,

The other vibrates, etching warmth into visible shadow.
Good is youthful dreaming, hard work, and glowing play.

Bad is destroying the hard earned dreams of others,
A complacent acceptance,
Active repression.

The edges of perception, where the world is large, our universe is larger, and the multiverse still not largest.

Bigger than what you can imagine, but exactly what you imagine, is where lies our next question.

Because there is no one true answer, and also because there is, because that possibility also exists.

We are found, if not in the stardust, then in the mind's dust.

The physical complexity of not just life, not just a cell, not just atomic composition, or string vibration.

We are found, if not in these bodies, than in these senses.
Tasting the sweet milk of life, smelling the sun on the flowers,
Touching the lips of a lover, hearing words for the magic that they are,
Seeing the world unfold within your lifetime.

You can become god, or like a god, or just be.
The potential we call untapped, is really a more like a jar whose lid is about to slide open.

It all comes down to perception, seeing your life for what it truly is.
A mythic, sensory, generational, idea driven, turbulence of thought,
Almost too much, but never quite enough, a center of existence.

It is about the Golden Moment, seized by the throat and throttled into co-existence.
A wonderful prisoner to muse over, abstract, and extrapolate.

The tiny threads of a lifetime that weave in and out, then fray out into so much aether.
Their intertwined mezzanine altogether incandescent if viewed up close or far away,
Like a sculpture of neon spider silk weightless in flight.

Beauty is all around us, as we are forever chasing it,
and losing sight of why it can be lost or found.

We aspire to perfection, be that perfection in just one thing, or in all things,
Our place is both inside and outside this perfection, these two worlds,
And when they truly meet, it is an affirmation of not just life, but something far more profound.

But that is the thing about perfection, where does it go from there, where does it err along the way.

The simple missteps of a life lived, the small regrets and missed opportunities, spiraling inward.
A perfect life unlived by simple mistake, undone by single word, and awkwardly glanced implication.

Regret is what fills us instead, regret is what sours the happiness of ourselves and others,
Spreads like a frown across the faces of a crowd.

Failure is but an option, as is the path to success, regardless to how we get there.
Meeting simple goals, understanding basic truths, deriving certain knowledge.
The firmament we find ourselves in is new dirt,
Yet more far ancient than our animal intellect can tell.

From the selected poetry of Thomas Zane, pt. 2
Mailbox (second)

expecting words to fall out
of so small a space.
sometimes it does, and all falls away.
names that aren't mine, lost in these hands.

rather i pry into shadow lives
than relinquish my claim
found on this lost correspondence.
not hard at all to imagine
a cave not far from shore.

the trap door shut on
the sea-shell sounding
of the blood in my neck
echoing, waiting for
words to appear explicit,
writing on the walls.

hesitant dread awaiting inspection,
carefully wrapped missives
tucked in context, folded corners,
the stasis of parcel pieces,
the quiet slumber waiting
for the right hands to find reason
to bend them crack them break them anew.

The Art of the Public Sanctuary

To fountains that exist as monuments to idleness
Broken marble laid comfortably askew, angles bisecting natural order.
To freshly manufactured lawn that is open to every trespass
Tended to by invisible hands that leverage harmony for casual consideration.

To demands of city life that call into question rules of governance,
Scheduled demolition, zoning jurisdiction, civil ordinance, allotted acreage.
To weary business people, looking like freshly risen corpses, shuffling unawares,
Straggling homeless, the lively dead, sitting together on benches without a word shared.

To quiet afternoons, not so quiet with city sound, echoing through concrete glass,
Arriving far off wind chimes, dissonant music played under three feet of water.
To newspapers left scattered, pushed up against young trees
Armored in chicken wire to ward off the urban blight.

To the child who finds a quiet spot, settles in place, absently pulls at grass
Thinking of subterranean tunnels connecting daycare to workplace to bus stop to here.
To adventures that happen just out of sight, small cause for alarm, a camera crew
Filming at the base of a fountain because it adds slight motion to otherwise stillness.

Pinecone (first)

Armored and pronged waiting to drop
Packed tight like a hand grenade
To only explode in a forest fire
When everything else has fled for dear life.

Its shrapnel litters the carpet ashen floor
This desolate unmade graveyard wasteland
Lying in wait for however long it takes
To be the first to seed new life.

And grow above the rest.

Pinecone (second)

Armored and pronged waiting to drop
Packed tight like a hand grenade
To only explode in a forest fire
Left untouched by man's hands.

Pieces of it litter the carpet ashen floor
Fallen shrapnel upon unmade desolation
Lying in wait for however long it takes
To be the first to seed new life.

Pinecone (third)

One of many by nature’s design
Hardly unique, in no way special
A carrier, container, delivery system
Of the adolescent mindset it maintains.

Armored and pronged waiting to drop
Packed tight like a hand grenade
To only explode overhead in a forest fire
Run amok left to spread, consummate.

Pieces litter the carpet ashen floor
Fallen shrapnel upon unmade desolation
Firming in wait for however long it takes
To be the first to seed new life.


He is giving away two cabinets for food
The contents of one exchanged for another
Nourishment of a different sort
Retaining whatever knowledge he can
Of names and titles carried within

A collection lost out of desperation
Doesn't dare start thinking eating quietly by candlelight
The temporary insanity already sated
The patience of contentedness a friction against
The slow crumbling agony of a lifetime's empty legacy

Retinal Burn (darkroom) (first)

(I don't know where anything comes from)

The cathode rays burn through in one of three colors.
Up close through a child's eyes, like a dance of pinpricks.
Light from all stars, mostly just our star,
Capturing and framing countenance and circumstance.

Shadows sketch far more interesting facets
Than light ever will.
The chemical burn, the trace image
The simple lasting magic that ages as we do.
Wrinkling yellowing molding

The negative reverse, the mold cast outward
To study inward and return to the amber moments.

There is an unknown process,
As we don't consider
The baths of poison that give it color and shape.
Drying like leaves on a vine after a rainstorm.

Retinal Burn (darkroom) (second)

Light from all stars, mostly just our star,
Capturing and framing countenance and circumstance.
Shadows sketch far more interesting facets
Than light ever will.

The chemical burn, that trace image
The simple lasting magic that ages as we do.
Wrinkling yellowing molding
The negative reverse, the mold cast outward

To study inward and return to the amber moments.
There is a secret process,
Only known to those who consider
The baths of poison that give it shape and color,
Leaving it to dry like leaves on a vine after a rainstorm.

Retinal Burn (darkroom) (third)

Light began some ancient journey long ago
Setting off from all stars, but mostly just our star.
Arriving without much consideration, falling casual about the day.
Capturing circumstance and framing countenance.

Shadows cut across perfect beauty
Sketching far more interesting facets
Than mere light ever will.

An oscillating eye is all there is to see.
A catch of breath later the chemical burns,
The trace image remains.

The negative reverse, the mold cast outward
To return to, study inward amber moments preserved.
There exists a secret process,
Known only to those who consider
The baths of poison that give it shape and color,
Wrinkling, yellowing, molding,
Left to dry like leaves on a vine after a rainstorm.

Modern Drunkard

He relaxes against the hill
Where grass meets concrete shore
And raises the oblong can
To his lips.

Later he pisses into it
This half-mile long fountain
The moon like a smile
Reflected disrupted wavering.

Cross-legged he sits
More listening to
Than watching the ducks
Tiny bobbing shapes catching light.

Triptych by Thomas Zane, pt. 1

a distant wail

Energy hits the body like a thousand volts. Sunlight on the cheeks,
the sky a cobalt blue, the smell of youth an intoxication. A day to be
alive, to lose the hours cruising around in vehicles with windows
down, music blaring, every lyric and riff imbued with meaning and

The blast of wind across the skin, the prickle an aphrodisiac. Close
company with the opposite sex, one on each side, stuck in the middle
of their smell and touch. Every breath taking in this drug of life's
choices. Everything physical and real and so very immediate.
Screaming for no reason, squealing just to test those pipes, slam
those brakes. The curves of corners go fast and tight, the crush and
the heat of visceral contact in the backseat.

Discovering what is real and what is right. Learning this is youth,
these sensations new, horizons open up and skies break through so
very clear.

back to reality, right here right now

the song in my head that is stuck. i weep because it is so beautiful.
it is like a turning point in time, when life is revealed so damn ugly
and wonderful and all there is to be done about it is laugh and cry,
one and the same. what follows is a story told in three parts. words
that have never been said before. will never be said again. people
lost and wisdom gained. words that run together without so much as a
breath to break them apart. the emotion that spills out like a hot
scream, steaming the landscape forever. learn how this life will never
be the same again, the tender veil parts, the wicked are we
reflections in each other ourselves. people tell me to stop writing
because they know what comes next. i tell them i've yet to get to the
best parts. when it all becomes madness, because i lose and i don't
know what to say, so i just keep going because that is what i do. i am
here now, this story has a long ways to go. travel with me yet, this
unreliable narrator, poet writer boy wise beyond his years, never measuring
up, disconnected from his friends and family, willing to destroy
everything he has built for a chance to show just how much he loves an
impossible dream. he is already dead, he just doesn't know it yet.

First Panel - Mayhune Lovers; a story about what it means to be

becuase it means something to me at this point in the telling. I've
not been able to put my words down in quite some time. You read this
linear but I write when words seize me and refuse to let go. It
happens when it wills itself, here and there. Make no mistake that
I'm struggling with who I am and where I'm going in this life,
understand that by committing myself to this project and seeing it
through, many sacrifices were and will be made. Every word is a choice
and I have to live with the consequences.

I am a lazy human being, full of idle thought and means of leisure. I
occupy myself with entertainments, diversions and frequent breaks from
reality. I have been drinking to excess. You know nothing of my
present and I apologize, but you can always skip ahead to the second
half where I detail in greater length my present woe. It's a different
sort of story, so very different from the one that will immediately
follow. When I set out to collect my thoughts, I thought these Small
Wood reminisces would be easy. I said how I am very lazy, I tell you
I thought this would write itself. I was wrong and now realize just
how hard this will be to continue at this pace and say what needs to
be said. So often when I sit down to write I give up half-way through,
delete what came before and retire to my bed. I need to feel the click
in place with this language, this past. It doesn't have to be true; it
just has to feel true.


Her name was like so many other girl names, named for a flower. He had
his father's name, the fourth father's name in a row. They did not
truly see the other for the first time until her fifteenth birthday.
Their parents had been best friends, grown up together, courted,
married and had children together. Their families lived on opposites
ends of the town, which meant they lived pretty close by, never more
than a phone call away. Four or five days every month got spent
co-mingling, the kids clashing, bonding and spurting through the years
while the parents worked, mellowed and enjoyed the rearing.

The birthday party was nothing special. Her family had set-up a large
table out in the backyard. It was summer, of course. The small
children played in a sprinkler, on a slip and slide. The bright husks
of broken water balloons were not well hidden in the tall grass.

The girl was sullen and distant, not wanting the carefree ritual
burden of tearing through wrapped presents, eating cake and ice cream
that were her favorite flavor, smiling and thanking everyone for their
thought and consideration. The boy was quiet but kind, realizing that
his place in this world was changing, that things were changing and
never going back. He was remarkably attracted this almost sister
of his. She was the keeper of so many of his secrets and lived forever
in the pages of family albums.

She had been unwanted by a boy, a feeling she'd anticipated ever since
childhood. It was the other half of play, when one doll snubbed the
other for the affection of herself. Dejection was always a concept,
never an actual emotion. So very different from being left behind as a
child at a gas station, being forgotten for a moment, a terrifying
moment. Altogether alien and foreign to her, a slight against her
character, her not being good enough, attractive enough, ideal enough
in the eyes of her own ideal. Her head was clouded with thoughts of
endings, of melodramatic over-simplifications. She would change
herself to challenge him, to change his perception of her. She would
go into the bathroom and cry as quiet as she could, look into the
mirror and hate that awful no good reflection.

He pined for her gaze but had no trick up his sleeve to catch it. He
was ordinary, altogether plain. He would sit in the grass, let his
brothers and sisters wrestle him to the wet carpet. His eyes would
never leave her, they played for his smile and smile he did. He wore
glasses, dressed like an old man. The sound of a fog horn off in the
distance, birds overhead. He drank cherry soda and wiped his forehead.
She sat silent, so her mother shook her shoulders to stir some life
back into those bones. She smiled weakly, played with a mash of cake
and cream.

Tryptych, pt. 2

Keep waiting for that moment of connection because he and she were
like fish in a bowl, always brushing past each other, never touching.
He was clumsy like the words out of his mouth, she was stoic with her
inward gaze. Compare and contrast for effect. But they had a history.

He remembered something, a moment he'd forgotten. They were age nine
or so, lanky springs of acutely conscious energy, polar in their
pursuits. She wanted to be a vet, loved animals and was preoccupied
with breeding rabbits. He'd help her clean cages, little fecal balls
rolled away and he'd have to pick them up, one by one with his
fingers. He didn't know what he wanted to do with his life and didn't
much care to worry. His gaze was on her. He knew he enjoyed her
company. She tried to teach him little things which he'd forget
completely. Yet he remembered every thing about the way she said it,
how much fun they were having.

She only saw him as uninteresting, plain and simple. She grew tired of
trying to improve him, he was not worth her energy. But they had a
history, and she too remembered moments. When they were thirteen, he
could not begin to understand who she was becoming. Never were they so
very different. Somehow he remembered the smallest thing she said at
the lake one spring. About how she wanted to go to Nepal and climb the
highest mountain and at the top instead of leaving a flag, she'd leave
a photo of herself to be buried under all that snow.

When the day was done and he had left with his family, the painful
waves and hugs and thanks all exchanged, she went up to her room and
sat in silence. She looked over all her unwrapped presents and
considered him again. It was nothing really, but she kept thinking
about him and she didn't want to.

He'd given her a stethoscope for her birthday. She'd wanted to be a
doctor now and hadn't told anybody, even him. She wanted to help
people because there was so much sickness in the world and she knew
nothing of it. He was so simple, so silly. She could not get him out
of her head. The day turned to night and she sat on her pillows, her
legs crossed, her chin cradled against her hands, forehead creased and
set like stone.

Inside her chest her breathing came short against her throat, she
breathed through her nose, every thought and beat of her eyes a
measure of her consideration. Her hands were sweaty together entwined,
eyes more out of focus with every flutter.
Tryptych, pt. 3
It should have been a religious experience seeing the Ark for the
first time. The wooden dreadnaught was empty of animals, fallen to
ruin, sitting unused and hollow on the side of a hill. The man who had
grown old building it, watched his wife and children leave him because
of it, still resided in a small shack workshop nearby. Animal cages
were many and empty, the scale of the project staggering in how
wasteful. He gave tours for free because God would want it that way.
People always gave him money anyways, he always said godbless, not
refusing charity.

I'd heard of the Ark from many people. Since I was new, everyone
explained in great detail, with much emphasis, how I needed to check
the place out. Members of the football team razed the place every
year, stealing supplies, ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ on it, breaking stuff for the hell of
it. There were signs off the road, hand-painted, pointing the way, I
did my best to keep a safe distance.

He was a young man named Philip. His red hair, a cocky mane he threw around to give more weight to his slender freckled frame. He had a thin beard and almost never wore a shirt. He loved the outside, loved women and couldn't stand to be wrong in the face of the obvious. Philip sang around campfires in a certain atonal hymnal, a frog-throated choirboy whose croaking seemed right no matter how inherently wrong it was.

Most of his friends were hippies because like them he liked to surf, smoke and screw. Philip had a dirty little secret and that was his personal relationship with the lord Jesus Christ. One summer night, baked on the beach, Jesus spoke to Philip and outlined his plan. Philip saw the ocean rise up and he scrambled for his surf board. His friends slept through the rising surf, disappearing beneath the water. Philip paddled for what seemed like hours, the world around vanished beneath. The water sang to him with the collision of every wave, the crash of breakers, the shift of temperatures beneath him, like thousands of voices, each more beatiful than any he'd heard in the sum total of his existence. Their effect was to render him prostrate on his board, weeping up at the sky, the clouds moving far too quickly, racing across, dissolving together.

The voice of God was the sound of water pounding in his ear drums. Thick and solid, splitting him open down the middle, good and evil, man and boy, father and son. He had no present, he was just his past and future. He knew who he was and where he came from, and then God told him what exactly was coming.

A flood like nothing he'd ever read about or seen in any movie. It would swallow everything he loved and there was nothing that could be done to stop it. It would not obey the laws of physics nor would it adhere to natural order. It was chaos and fluid, the stuff of final death and amniotic creation.

Philip's tears, so small and tiny, returned to the ocean. He beat his fists against the give of the ocean. He rocked on his surfboard and screamed at the sky, never stopping its mad dash.

God left him on the sandy beach, the morning sun throwing light across a dark and western ocean.

When Philip was twenty-four his firstborn was baptized in the freshwater saltwater mix where the Seagash met the Pacific. The little girl cried on her own choke.

There was a small party afterwards and through several glasses of wine, Philip thought he heard someone calling his name from far off. He very much hoped it was the divine. He needed to hear so very badly at this point. He wasn't making enough money, wasn't very happy with the whole situation really.

When Philip was thirty-one, he quit his job to start construction. He started seeing signs all around him and knew it was time to begin. The first week he'd convinced his family he was cutting wood to build a new porch. Under the guise that he needed something to occupy himself during the transition. He couldn't afford raw lumber so he began by felling small trees by himself, alone and away from the house. His children came up with their own reasons why trees would crash not so far off, why their father would disappear for half a day and come back sweaty and exhausted and too tired to look at them.

He read the bible but never out of comfort. He needed answers, needed the word of God to provide a foundation. He dreamt of that ocean of judgement. Believed in that dream above all else.
Tryptych, pt. 4
Third Panel - The Watcher; a story of what may be

♥♥♥♥ing tears on my face, all over my face. My eyes wouldn't stop
because my heart beat. I bled and anguished.

I was living in the second house on the property in my little room
sleeping on old and dirty mattresses. I'd brought in a kerosene lamp
to read by, there was no electricity out to the old place, the walls
shone through bare in places, stripped to the board. It was cold and
damp inside, except for the tiny pocket of heat around me. I was
sick of my family, tired of their ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥. I fled to the second house
to tear it apart and make it new. I'd painted what remained of the
plaster on the walls with natural earthy colors and hidden shapes,
shadow figures in pattern and texture of the surface. I
realized I could not continue being myself in the warm home.

I started going out to the abandoned building after dinner. I'd take a
book out with me and read until my eyes hurt and then I'd keep
on reading. I was stranded at the house for most days as there was no
vehicle I could use to drive away from the ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ place.

Life inside the outside was lonely but marginally better than keeping
company. I wanted nothing to do with the town, nor anyone in it. I had
a portable emergency radio I kept by my mattress side, running on
batteries, picking up mostly dead air with the occasional ghostly
voice or wail to interrupt. I liked perpetual sound, like running

I'd been reading about the settlers who'd come through in the eighteen
hundreds, who'd buried the living assumed dead. Hours, they'd give
them to come back to life, if so was the case. They had a name for the
person whose job this was, to sit and wait for the dead. He'd be
tasked to stand watch out there alone while the wagon trained moved on
ahead. He'd have to catch up, hurry on back to the safety and comfort
only after knowing one way or the other. He'd last out there as long
as he could, contemplating that only he would ever know the truth in
the matter.

It was always a foregone conclusion. The dead don't regularly return
to life, but for some reason along the Oregon trail they needed a
♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ watchman to keep an eye after these dead. This was a matter of
fact. This was of historic record. What the watchman did with the dead,
what he was looking out for, what he hoped would or would not happen.
My mind reeled at the thought because I had read it plain as day.

Stupid shivers, ran through me. I couldn't get warm enough at the odd
hours of the night. I'd woken up having to pee. I did it out a window
after I'd cracked it some. Trees swayed in place like foreign
mourners, clouds hustled sideways across the sky. Steam blew up off my
♥♥♥♥, pungent and warm.

The light was on inside the family house and it reminded me of a day
when all was good and right. A piece of a broken mirror shone through
a crack in the floorboards. A stack of magazines from the fifties
served no purpose in the corner. My fingers were crusted with paint,
dirt and blood, most of it in reds and browns. My left thumbnail was
cracked halfway down and I'd bandaged it over with some gauze. It
pressed with a dull ache. I'd hammered it instead of a nail I was
trying to turn in on its side and crush into the wood.

I'd been seeing this girl. She told me she loved the rundown place,
that she wanted to move in,
her breath fast and heavy on my chest and neck. Then she started
talking in her sleep about messed up ♥♥♥♥, names of guys and girls she
wanted to sleep with and murder. She wouldn't stop even after I tried
shaking her and calling her name. Her body next to me, hand tight in
mine, both us on our backs, her mouth hot with hate and perspiration.
She rocked gently, started from her waist up to the top of her head,
slowly never stopping. I put my hand in between her, held her like
that. I was tired and cold and this was all I wanted at this hour,
just the comfort of her.

Barbara was an outsider like me. She'd showed up late that school year,
moving from someplace in northern California. Her parents had
divorced, she'd gone to live with her father after trouble with her
mother. She liked being trouble, dug very much the stigma that
followed. She listened to music, which I knew nothing about. She'd
sing to herself, in this pathetic sort of singsong voice like she was
trying too hard. It was cute at first, the way she'd overenunciate and
dance with her fingers, never taking her eyes off them. She was smart
about guys unlike so many girls. She lived life according to her own
take on the law of undiminished wants and needs. There was nothing
shared between us outside that bedroom. Early flirtations were
forgotten upon bodily impact, our faces lost in each other, our grip
on each other tight and desperate, for just that night. The want was
desperate, coming off immediate and answered upon like a signal flare.

We went to school together, took classes, sat apart and away from,
never found each other again. I realized I was sickened by the act,
the environment in which it took place. It was lovely never again
beautiful in how rotten tainted fetid it was.

She left in the morning, leaving behind a faint and unpleasant human
aroma. I cracked the windows and let her waft out over the course of
the day. Sometime during the night, the radio had come to life,
playing a quiet and broken sound, the voice singing in French. I may
have been dreaming.
Tryptych, pt. 5

My name is not my own, that is the clue that I leave to you. I was
born in a big city, raised by small men. My father and his father,
they loved the things that all men do. They fought with each other
like brothers, treated me like a third birth. Born in California, our
stories are almost the very repeat of the original story. Women will
mean nothing to me because they have meant so much. When I touch them,
I don't know myself, but I know my purpose for being here, and they
become what I detest in this world. I don't understand how they can be
so beautiful, so ugly, so wasted rotten on the inside, so fresh pure
alive forever. They aren't a good sex for easy answers, and they can't
stop talking to save their lives. I see nothing of myself in them
except their desire and wicked imagination. I am a doll with the name
of an imaginary friend they want to twist and break and do with as
they will.

I am not a hard man and I am not an easy man, but you may think me
simple. Good. I don't want you to get to know me all that well. For
your sake, understand. To learn what makes me tock you have
to first find me. I am not an easy man to find. I keep to myself, away
from the noise of the world. I can't stand to hear much of it. I once
drove across this country, and learned I liked it even less than I
imagined I would. I can't stand the truth that comes out of me when
I'm drunk, I can't take the hot foul breath of a lover in my face
asleep with their life and light gone out away from me. I don't want
any children of my own despite knowing one is on the way.

I don't value your company because you think yourself better than me.
One look tells you all you need to know. I am not a good person. The
air around me, you noticed it. It's not exactly a sadness, it's a
refusal to to give into sadness, an impossiblity to ever be happy. But
here I am, alive as the day I was born. I continue on because that is
the only option I was ever given. There are pleasures in this world
that are easy and simple and I take them when I will. When my teeth
fall out and my skin folds in on itself, you will pity me and I will
detest you. I will spit black on your passing shadow and curse you.

You think this world is so easy, the glow of your skin, the light
behind your eyes. You think you've seen it all, the assurance and way
you carry yourself. People like me exist to make you sweat and fear
and ♥♥♥♥ and weep for the future. You need me like you need to sleep
at night. I will gnaw at you until you use me up and make me go away
forever. I am the boogeyman beautiful. You want me in you and you
don't know why.

My throat hurts and I want a drink to make it burn softer. I want a
smoke to see you by. I want a touch to know your scent, and brush my
face rough against the softness of your hair. You tremble like a
little boy at the mercy of his fathers, you pray like a good little
girl. This is the simplicity of who I am, why you came all the way out
here to know all about me.

My handshake is firm, I've invited you in.

We can stand on this porch for hours or we can go on inside.
"Unreliable Avatars: Narration in the Third Person & the Distance of Storytelling"
Local Writer Series - D. Nathaniel Dean
One of the fathers of modern computer science, and award winning 1960s science-fiction author. His collection of short stories, Omnibus, is considered one of the most controversial and prescient collections ever assembled. Several of his more popular stories were optioned for adaptation in episodes of Star Trek, Night Gallery, and Night Springs. The only work of his that was was ever filmed, or rather, attempted, was the "lost" episode of Night Springs, "Modern Mythology."

His work is currently undergoing a revival of sorts ala Philip K. ♥♥♥♥, with several new big budget film adaptations currently in production. In life, Dean preferred academics, business and solitude. Writing existed as an outlet. He was known to keep correspondence with J.G Ballard and Octavia Butler, and was a fan of Samuel Delaney.

D. N. Dean completed his Doctorate Thesis "Toddlers & Simulalculra: Understanding Machine & Early Intelligence" at Oregon State University in 1971. D. N. Dean had written his early work under a pen name, supporting his education through his fanciful writings. Dean took his wife and daughter with him when he travelled to literary and lecture circuit post doctorate. He founded a video game company, Oneironautics, in the late 1970s which folded due to financial constrains and a changing marketplace in 1984. Oneironautics games were known for vivid text adventures and mind-bendingly difficult problem solvijng, often adapting existing Dean stories to use as subbjects or using new written material he providied his programming teams. Their final game, Arcadeum, was a text adventure in which players played a game designer suffering from a mental breakdown while struggling to finish her latest game, set in the far off year 2013.

Following the collapse of Oneironautics, Dean returned to writing and Small Wood. He lives there to this day, seen in the community playing with grand children, walking around his on-site duck ponds and visiting the local bookstore.
"Cosmology, Fictional Expression & the Permutability of Reality"
"Many disciplines struggle to encompass the large and the small of the universe. Theorists look for unifying principles in hopes of making knowledge simpler to derive. The problem comes from the complexity of thought required to "hold the universe" in one's head. Dominant theories suggest that the universe is not singlar, that reality is a shattered fun house mirror, and beyond the dimensions of human comprehension lie planes of existence so unfathomable, the human mind is ill-equipped to percieve."

"Fiction, as a means of expression, is an essential untruth that tries to capture the essence of truth while repackaging the contents. The obsfuscation of truth is essential, as is the immediacy of understanding what the author relays to audience. Fiction is often a lie that comes from a place of truth, an idea as story told for the sake of imparting wisdom, knowledge or appropriate life lesson. Fiction is often concerned with what cannot be explained, taking on elements of allegory, speculation, fantasy."
Introduction to the teleplay for "Modern Mythology."
Commissioned as an adaptation of one of his own short stories, the teleplay of "Modern Mythology." is notable for its unfilmable content. Poetic, erratic, and absurd, this sequel to Fausts parts one and two concerns a pharmacist named John Faust in the near future who is visited by a dream woman and thus begins his descent into the multiverse[].
The Boy From Pasadena, pt. 1

Jack Perkins wanted to be strong but was only just a boy. This world at war with itself was one he was stranger to and all he desired was to find a way home. He feared that if this was the true future of planet earth there wouldn’t be much left to build on after all the smoke had settled. He hoped there had been some mistake, some miscalculation in all his years of research, careful experimentation and thorough planning.

He crouched under a fallen street sign, thick cables held at odd angles, he was close to terrified it would fall on him and crush him like a bug.

The building behind him existed as stubbled foundation, brick and steel charred black and white with smoke and ash. Children sat round small fires, warmed themselves and kept a considerable distance from the odd man. He realized he was a complete strange, with his nice clothes, his kempt haircut, his general cleanliness. He stuck out like a shiny quarter in a penny jar.

He had seen few other people since his arrival in the timepod besides packs of pathetic children, ugly asexual feral monsters.

His first moments in this place were primal, sliding from nightmare to nightmare. He didn’t know what he had expected to emerge into. He never dared hope his experiment a success, but it was and that changed everything. He concieved the idea hundreds of his years ago, built his egg with a team of other young, passionate like-minded scientists, volunteered himself, sealed himself inside one quiet night, dared himself to push a button, gestated in the time between times and was born into this strange new blighted lanscape of humankind, this fallen civilization.

Jack first noticed the quality of the air, thick and heavy like the aftermath of a rocket experiment in the desert arroyo, the lingering charnel residue of a science lab caught in chemical fire, the blinding chaos of a wildfire magnesium accident, the after-image of intensity burning the retinas, the blindspots of white and surrounding pools of darkness, the sound and presence of great machines passing above, directly overhead, the gusts of turbulence and electricity in the air standing his hair on end.

He saw shapes moving, the children. They remained very still, keeping to shadows, but remained casually indifferent, distracted, knowing the machines had no interest in them. Their eyes were afraid, but were more focused on future horrors that awaited them, not present discomforts.

The machines that drifted above were covered in tiny lights, like little eyes, oscillating and surveying the ground, kicking up dirvishes and fogging the night with dust and light. Jack did as the children did, and kept absolutely still. A voice came booming from a machine among machines, and it spoke a language not quite English, was almost understandable. It was angry, desperate, pleading. After a few moments of petrified fright, Jack began to imagine, began to hear his father’s voice come out of it. He wanted so much to be home right now, to have his father close by, saying words of encouragement, gentle and firm. He felt so alone, so rotten that he was only just a boy, that he did not belong, that his whole life had led to this one terrifying terminus.

He didn’t want to think about how he had no friends, in this or any other present. He was different from them as a child and could never be one of them. These children of the ruins would not accept him as his own peers had never accepted him. His world was limited to science and precision logic. At an early age his mother would read to him classics, works of literature. But his father weaned him off the frivolous and pushed him into science and mathematics. Drilling equation, proof, socratic discourse and scientific method into his eager, and now he remembers how impressionable, young mind. He was nothing if not eager, stupid and eager.

The lights stop above where he cowers, a siren sounds, the light changes color to a dirty hue of pink, encircles him. He feels a gentle tug about his very being, his ears stop working, or perhaps all that ambient, awful sound ceases to be. He thinks to scream but can not hear it. He is alone again, completely alone in the pink light. His stomach flip-flops, his arms drift up and away, he kicks out his feet and begins to spin, can’t find his footing, vertigo seizes him, debris floats around him, bounces off him, the world spins and holds him, he is swimming.

He goes to the source of all the light, shadow darkness ebbs at the periphery, the end of the world just outside, perhaps going on business as usual. He almost feels comfort for a minute before it all goes away. All sensation, all thought, all connection to the world.
The Boy From Pasadena, pt. 2
ii. dreams in the key of godhead

He opens his eyes and can’t close them back up again.

Lafayette Ronald Hubbard felt entirely alone up there in his room. He had just moved to Pasadena from another city, another whole coast. He looked out on his empty street, always empty at this hour. He was waiting for something to happen, a new day to echo out like all before.

His day, and the day it slowly ended up transmogrifying into, was now come and gone, and sat upstairs gasping in great breaths of significance, sucking the air out of the room, out of the black magic mansion commune palace he called home, lived in, sucking so hard he felt his own breath like it was deep kissed from sleeping roommates, recalled directly

the memory of friends in slow places, forgotten and swilled by lovers in other states, other states of mind, spat out of sworn enemies always lurking in suggestive shadows, tasting of

their blackened lungs, their stretch-marked souls shoved deep down inside, coming at last to the taste particle taint of the universe that bore everything, the simple stardust stuff which brought him to this very moment.

He tasted silence, mistrust and preconceived notions. There were very few kindred souls in the world. Most souls being rotten things, dirty laundry in need of better cleaning, pressing and pressure washing. This unkind world, this rottenness in man existed because things never got better, only ready-steady progressively worse. He knew childhood a beautiful thing the world ruins a day at a time. He knew because he was a beautiful child with dreams of adventure and discovery and endless delight. Sure, Lafayette was spoiled by dreams,

but not spoiled rotten. Instead dreams preserved him. He liked to imagine himself an egg, not left out in the sun, but kept in a bottle, preserved forever, waiting for his day to be born

again. To be devoured. He was not quite there yet, but he would be, of this he was certain, and remained firm believing. He asked himself every day, is this why I’m here, now, in this place?

The new kid who showed up, who Jack introduced into the fold, who told everyone he was a time-traveler from the future, he was big, as big as Ron, but fatter. He had a silly

lumberjack half-beard which cut his head from the neck. He wore a suit with no tie, and his shoes were huge and falling apart on his feet.

The big kid, quiet almost like an affected simpleton, looked into things with big blue green gray eyes and asked the oddest question upon being introduced, acting very much like a tourist without a map. He said to Ron, aren’t you going to start some crazy religion or something?

Seeing him made Ron recall New York, and how everything changed at once and he was no longer significant in that place, and how his stories, his words, no longer carried necessary weight, and the incredulity which brought him into that awesome and focused and vital literary circle warped into something much more like disdain. They met him with silence. No one looked forward to his presence. He had done something, said something to someone, and had spread like an influenza to infect everyone he cared about. Perhaps word got out about his wife and kid. Or perhaps they simply stopped believing the words coming out of his mouth. His words, great in volume, great in furious output he produced from fingers without rest, words which poured, ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ poured like pulp novel blood, clean and crimson, those sad messy human

words could, would, never be equal to the primal stories inarticulate, spoken from drunk and delirious queasy lips, half-finished abstracted near-greatness protruding from his mind.

Ron woke that day to cars honking, people leaning on loud horns, merry melody intonations, squawks and sirens, cacophony, car tunes. Downstairs was a ruckus unholy.

That morning, not quite awake, Ron had been thinking he had no one in Pasadena to truly confide in, to give himself over to, to tell all his secrets, and impress with the fantastic and utterly untrue life story he had come to very much half-believe despite knowing better, telling himself, it’s all true, every last word. He was a storyteller, because he’s always been, but he did not yet realize he was a liar. A great big deceptive awful glorious ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ intent on untruth. He never would realize this deception, this Ron told only himself in confidence. Instead he made to believe that life was one great big adventure, and this he would tell them all, when he had become who he was always meant to become.

Jack was holding a meeting or something in the hallway thick with bohemian peoples pressed up intimate: Physicists, journalists, the bent and broken, also writers, poets, artists, actors, charlatans, addicts, and those who loved them or got suckered into thinking so, all gathered close to Jack, beautiful Jack, their tent pole Renaissance Man, their rocket scientist cult leader cult of personality genius who was each these things, more even, and none all at once.

Jack had with him the tall man, the time-traveler he’d found in the bowels of Caltech.

He told the story, of going to look for his new basement office and science lab, of opening up the door to an empty room and finding the time-traveling vagrant asleep on the cement floor.

Jack woke him gently, roused him from his sleep.

The boy was disoriented, confused. Of course he was, making the journey he made. He’d traveled back in time over fifty years, from the far off future, the year 2003. Imagine that.

Jack asked him his name.

Andy, he said.

Jack walked with him around campus, trying to find a place for him, Jack asked him which hall he lived in, and Andy mentioned Dabney, but said he didn’t live there, that his sister

did, which was an obvious lie because women weren’t allowed in as students, so maybe she was somebody’s something on the side, but that didn’t make any sense the way he told it. Regardless, Andy remembered these peculiar details about the campus, but the specific details were all wrong.

Andy walked around in a tired daze, refusing to accept the world as it was, grumpy and


Jack talked about his rocket experiments, about hiking those arroyos just out yonder, talked about maybe one day traveling into space in his lifetime, talked about changing the world with his work.

Andy nodded encouragingly, said, you will, I’m sure.

They got to Dabney, and Jack said, here you are. Andy looked the place up and down and said,

this isn’t right.

Jack said, how do you mean?

First off, there’s no basketball hoop right here. And there are no speakers up in those windows, and there is no umbrella table here and the paintings, the writing on the walls, it’s all different.

Jack said, I’m not understanding. I’m not familiar with Dabney much, I’m not a student, I just work here and eat dinner over there sometimes.

Andy sat down and Jack decided to leave him, deposit him to this spot and be done with him.

He looked at him for a moment and had his answer and changed his mind.

He asked Andy if he’d like to help him set-up his office, told him he’d throw him a few dollars for his troubles. The kid was big and looked like he could lug around a couple boxes.

And as simple as he seemed, Jack knew that wasn’t quite the truth.

Ron had started on a new book titled “The Earthman Chronicles”. It would be his first serious foray into speculative fiction, what the Los Angeles congregation of writing aficionados, hard mathematics and laboratory minded types, as well the silly movie horror and genre buffs, had collectively dubbed “Science Fiction”.

Ron was having trouble getting started. He knew the shape of the story but details for this speculative fiction were hard to come by. He was good at making things up, so it should have been no problem, but Ron wanted his words to ring with truth, he wanted his warning, his message to the masses, to sound out loud and clear and not fall on confused ears.

The Boy From Pasadena, pt. 3
He had got his start writing westerns, and knew he wanted

the speculative bit, the outer space hokum, to feel like a high stakes card game out on the range, only much further out, tumbleweeds on alien terra firma. He wanted the Indians to be

spider monsters, killer robots and advanced alien cultures with beautiful women creatures. He knew his hero would be a bit like Jack, a boy genius who grows up and builds a time machine, flings himself fifty years into the future and finds the earth under attack by what exactly.

He wanted that wild eyed innocence, genius, shattered and dashed upon the wreckage of so much progress, the folly of man. And there was to be a big twist at the end, this he’d already figured out.

Ron heard Betty talking in the hall. She was Jack’s girl, but she belonged to everybody. Jack had rules for the house and his rules were pretty much, ‘there are no rules’, just as long as nobody gets hurt. Ron had Betty the first night he got here and was trying not to think too much about it, but it was hard when Betty was thinking too much about it too. She waited outside his door until he got up and let her in.

How’d you know it was me, she said.

Beauty changes the mood of the room, even when it stands just outside it.

You know what to say, don’t you Ron?

You want to come in and help me with my novel? I need a second set of eyes.

You really should ask Jack for a bigger room, you’ve already filled this one up, all these books on the floor, it really is not fit for a body to stand around in, dust everywhere is all.

Take a seat on the bed and look over my shoulder while I write.

What’s this one about?

All manner of incredible out of this world intrigue, really. You and Jack have already inspired me so much, I’m just aching get it out. Jesus woman, I didn’t realize how sore I was.

You shouldn’t hunch over, you look just like a brute when you do.

Read this here, where my finger is, how does that sound?

She took her time reading out loud, “Jack first noticed the quality of the air, thick and heavy like the aftermath of a rocket experiment in the desert arroyo, the lingering charnel

residue of a science lab caught in chemical fire, the blinding chaos of a wildfire magnesium accident, the after-image of intensity burning the retinas, the blindspots of white and

surrounding pools of darkness, the sound and presence of great machines passing above, directly overhead, the gusts of turbulence and electricity in the air standing his hair on


And then she stopped. Jeez, it sounds horrible, is Jack going to be alright?

It’s just a character, Betty.

But you’re writing about our Jack, right? Jack Parsons?

Mostly, but Jack builds rockets, not time machines. And I don’t think you have to worry about him landing on an alien world any time soon. Unless he blows himself sky high.

It’s scary Ron.

It’s supposed to be, Betty.

She stopped rubbing his shoulders and lay with her back to the bed, her arms crossed behind her head as if a pillow. He turned and put his hand on her stomach, a tiny bit exposed from where the blouse and skirt went their separate ways.

You’re practically married to him, Betty.

He’s done with marriage, and that’s all he’ll say about that.

Well, some of us aren’t meant for it, that’s just the way the world works.

You two should just marry each other, queer as that’d be. Not that I’m saying.

Know what you mean, no fence taken. Besides, I’ve got my hand some place awful peculiar right about now.

Jack don’t mind none, if you keep at me, he thinks the world of you, really.

What do you think Betty.

Don’t stop, is what I think.

They both thought of Jack, handsome Jack with his thick eyebrows and devilish mustache, dark hair combed wet to his skull. He had this energy, see. Meeting him was like being in the presence of something sincere, something bigger than big. He was a trembling thought of the id, a slight and implausible superman to grasp at with focused certainty, but very much real in the ego sense of the word. Ron and Betty believed that Jack believed he could change the world, would in fact, change the world.

One part because Jack caught the attentions of the most evil man in the world, one Aliester Crowley, Black Magic Monster of Fair Brittania. He was their reason for being here, this was his temple, his cult, his borrowed belief. Another because Jack was a founding father of this strange new thing called rocketry. It was science and technology and it was the way things were going, the way of the future. And another because Jack was state expert witness making all the headlines in the attempted murder trial of the Los Angeles district attorney. Because the world was a bad place and Jack was determined to do some good. Because Jack was one of those who somehow fell into the very center of things, charming all around him with his confidence, good looks, and an open mind. He changed, charged the fabric of reality, just by rubbing up against it.

Betty felt in Jack a good soul, perhaps too good. And Ron was everything that Jack was not, which is why he encouraged her and she him. Despite the shallow depravity and moral greyness of all that occurred at the mansion, Jack remained sunny, smiling, and offered up encouragement to all the lost ones who wandered in looking for answers. He believed in layers of reality, believed in the potential of the human being, the anchor of the human soul, the purpose of the shadow stuff, and the sheltering sky of the sublime. His disposition was what drew the curious to him, and his gentleness kept them close.

Jack was their father figure, but he was also their little boy with big ideas, too big for his head. When they were together, Betty and Ron, when they weren’t playing at flesh and fluid and when they mostly talked about Jack, and got to wondering where he was off to, what he was up to, who he’d rub up against out there in the city streets and bring back tonight to the table, what new strange human being he’d show off and impress them with, that was the Jack who mattered substantially.
Weep For the Future
"The Legacy of the Disappeared" The Pacific-Northwest's Tribal Resurgence
Local Writer Series - Charlie Leeder
Charles was a great friend to the Egretta Society and one of the most active among contemporary members. A struggling writer, he seemingly found his niche, turning to non-fiction and self publishing the well-received "Bright Springs Companion."

Found murdered in an Arizona motel, with his laptop destroyed, and his trademark car stolen, it is believed Charles was working on a follow-up to Bright Falls Companion. While the first book only briefly touched upon the Alan Wake disappearance, concerned more with local legends and superstitions, the second volume was more widely concerned with the subject of Wake and the strange cult of personality that had emerged around the man.
"Second Draft: The Rewriting of Bright Falls"
Bright Falls is not so much a city re-inventing itself every generation, so much as it is itself being re-written entirely from scratch.

The numerous discrepancies and volumnous list of erratic history footnotes are of frequent occurrece in both antique newspapers, photographs, town records and public letters.

Names of prominent figureheads change without reason, places disappear off the map entirely, or spring into being seemingly overnight.

Selections from "Bright Springs Companion"
"In writing this book, I assume that the reader has a passing familiarity with Garrison Keillor's "Prarie Home Companion" and the many of his assorted works of Lake Wobegon, the fictional Minnesota township that informs much of his authorship and meticulous voice. Much like Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County[], these are imagined places that becomes real to the reader. Lake Wobegon has many properties that have come to define its character and so has come to exist in dimensions running parallel to our own physical real estate. As readers, listeners and viewers, we partake of the daily lives, routines, eccentricities, of these fictional occupants and join them mid-way through their journeys in life."

"The purpose of this text is to pair up imagined places with the obvious and unobvious counterpoints in reality that we as spectators are chiefly informed by, and thus in turn, inform the greater audience, having digested the work as a part of popular culture, and entering it into the parlance, cycled back into our daily lives. I use the Bright Falls - Night Springs conjoin because it has informed my own personality and temprament. I am not impartial to the twin influences of places, real and imagined, and in my mind, in many ways, they have become one and inseperable."

"Americana is the mythical place that grew up side by side with the real and far often uglier truths of the nation building. As territory for the imaginative dream of contiental European exiles, or nightmare fodder for the African and Pan-Asian slaves and indentured, settlers projected their own want of destiny into the landscape itself, escaping from past sins, into a present potential, projecting many possiblities into the future for their later lives or those of their offspring."

"The native indigenous population, having suffered through wide-spread plague and natural disaster prior to the migrant population explosion, soon found their sufferings compunded. A people and way of life were disappearing, as an Occidental culture lazily supplanted their own. The pastoral phase of Americana still lives in Garrison Keillor's work. The imaginative otherland, ripe and verdant, but with a casual darkness, complacence and quiet repression."

"New mythologies began to emerge with the westward expansion, dotting up like general stores, make-shift provisionaries for the dreams and nightmares that fueled the night cycles along wagon-trains and expeditions."

"As the Oregon trail ended, so did the dream of the undiscovered. The frontier became defined by far north of the Alaskan and Yukon territories, the Moon and the near space of our galaxy, the far corners[] of the human mind, expanded by vision quest hallucinogens and recent understandings in psychology and mental perception."

"Religion, the highest form of mythmaking, or myth explaining, flourished in the west. New Age, Mormonism, Scientology, these callings and explanative speculations engineered movements and an embryonic counter-culture. Joseph Smith got his expeditionary funds selling travel guides to other world be settlers, L. Ron Hubbard broke away from writing horror stories to dabble in science fiction theology."

"The dominant business of the American west became the stuff of dreams. Hollywood, television, music, software, video games. Entertainment culture became seed that planted itself across the world."

"The imagined places soon began to outnumber the real. New York City, for all its real world dimensions, takes on measurements far greater because of the artisans who imagine inside it. Recently, the work of Paul Auster has come to define the New York nebulous."

"Middle America, the heartland, found its steampunk fantasy otherworld in Oz. Perhaps a country girl's fanciful take on an Americana fiefdom, Oz captured the American imagination like no other, a fairyland for the New World, an alternate reality where magic and technology progressed far faster than the rolling plains of Kansas, where the oft-promised, but never actual, golden roads lead to Emerald Cities. Baum's inspiration[] was the White City of Chicago, resplendent with World's Fair glory and throngs of international tourism. It was a place of dreams[]."

"Ley Lines, Imagined Places & the Breakdown of Reason"
Fictional Realism is a recent development in philosophy and one that presents a great many intriguing possibilities. The basic precept being that because fictions exist, fictional characters exist. Breaking it down further, fictional philosophies, fictional places, fictional fictions and works of creative imagination that exist inside the fictions themselves, all exist. Perhaps not in the temporal sense of existence, but in the human mind, these are all very real things. When a reader hears a character voice in their own head, it is as if the fictional character was actually speaking to them. On a mass scale, this phenomena of recognition and individuality of fictional entities[] or non-existent objects[] plays into the idea of a collective consciousness. While individuals debate their own interpretation of fictional constructs, generally accepted pattern recognition emerges as the fictional entities are embraced within a culture.
The Egretta Society Reading List
Book of the Month Club for September: Bleeding Edge[] by Thomas Pynchon

Book of the Month Club for August: Galveston[] by Nic Pallazzo

Book of the Month Club for July: Shadow & Claw[] by Gene Wolfe

Book of the Month Club for June: Going Clear[] by Lawrence Wright

Book of the Month Club for May: You[] by Austin Grossman.

Semi-recent Authors of Note & Frequency: Neal Stephenson, Barbara Kingsolver, Stephen King, Jack Keouac, Zadie Smith, Octavia E. Butler, Stanislaw Lem, Cory Doctorow, Kelly Link, Stacy Schiff, A.M. Holmes, Dan Simmons, George Saunders, Lauren Buekes, China Mieville, Chuck Palhaniuk, Dostoyevsky, Jane Austen, Cormac McCarthy, Emily Dickinson, H.P. Lovecraft, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Kurt Vonnegut, David Foster-Wallace, Gene Wolfe, Roger Zelazny, Lois McMaster Bujold
The Egretta Newsletter
"The Newsletter has become the task of the newest member, which is as it should be. He was told his duties, and seems to be performing them to a tee. Here is the first Newsletter under his stewardship, awaiting further inspection." Our Elder, who instructed me to include this in the masthead.

Current Issues at Topic:

Industrial Crane Gnarled in Horrific Accident to be Used as Art Installation Piece for Cathedral in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Daughters Mayhune Place First & Second in Pretty Much Everything, or High School Experiments Gone Awry, a Debate Article in the Pros & Cons of Small Town Celebrity.

DIY Industrial Projects Versus Crazy New Maker Recipes, Geeking Out Over Coffee.

Appendices i. :"Bright Falls"
Appendices ii. "Night Springs"
Appendices iii. "Bright Springs"
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chainlinkspiral  [author] Jun 19, 2013 @ 2:04am 
"Having been immersed in the works of the Bright Falls/Small Wood/Night Springs, I've got to thinking, the shared reality distortion seems to go back even further than Alan Wake. And seems to be drawing in someone new."
chainlinkspiral  [author] Jun 3, 2013 @ 11:50am 
This little piece from Zidane's "Fairweather Folio" caught my eye.

"You cast your stone, you make your choice.
The pond ripples & the shore abhors.
Detritus, sand & driftwood." z.1966
Fyrewolf The Dinosaur Jun 2, 2013 @ 8:33pm 
Wonderful work of fanfic...I am impressed.
Hobby Bill Jun 1, 2013 @ 8:39pm 
Can someone help me! Something is wrong with the display of the game, everything is black and florecent white and I can't even make out their faces
chainlinkspiral  [author] May 31, 2013 @ 9:19pm 
More from the Dean novel. "I will have a weekend free to collate immediate works as they pertain to the recent events. We've been taking requests from The Flood regions. I will try to scan in and transmit as much information I can in that limited window. Fictional peoples are starting to pour out of the region, that and the stories being told seem to converge here. Send back-up, containment and all the artist dreamers you've got on hand."
Pe4enya May 23, 2013 @ 9:46am 
бяки буки вы

chainlinkspiral  [author] May 22, 2013 @ 3:24pm 
D. Nathaniel Dean's last book is a trip. Just got my hands on it. "There were reports of a Cosmological Incident in the area. Quantum Readers sifted through data inputs and Flood activity. The boat off coast rippled in and out of existence, its crew men jumping off vessel in odd sailor's uniforms in cold waters a long swim in from- yet perhaps reachable in time, but not by everyone should help not arrive post haste. A call in to the coast guard, sea drones dispatched and en route. First robotic communications of contant and rescue, buoys motoring in, survivors arriving stunned, sick and showing signs of shock and fatigue."
chainlinkspiral  [author] Apr 15, 2013 @ 10:32pm 
We're heading into spring, here in Small Wood. In between spending time with some new friends, I've been scanning and collating research material as it pertains to local writers and the regional sinkhole that seems to consume them. I've gotten part time work at a local resort, which has been a featured backdrop and setting for many creative works. Commissioned as a National Arts project in the depression leading up to WW2, The Painted Mesa is known for both its dramatic views, and equally dramatic suicides. As we head into tourist season, we've been told to expect the worst.
chainlinkspiral  [author] Apr 10, 2013 @ 1:40am 
You find yourself at corners, pockets of existence, wondering if the dead still haunt the place. It's almost like they're sharing your same air, lingering after those same words heard round the fire, embers half kicked into dawn's light.
chainlinkspiral  [author] Mar 31, 2013 @ 2:19am 
Late with the dispatch. Spent time with the lighthouse keeper's daughter. Good God above, I think I'm in love.