In Boozo Veritas #63 by Teege Braune
Adventures in Halloweening Part 2
The Halloweens of my childhood were more magical than Christmas. The magic of Christmas was solely in the command of Santa Claus who could dispense with it as he saw fit. I could do nothing but wait and behave as best as I was able in the hope that it would be enough to appease St. Nick so that he would bless me with his individual power. A connoisseur of presents, I did indeed value Santa Claus and his magic very much. That being said, there was a reason why Halloween and not Christmas was my favorite holiday. During Halloween, I didn’t depend on another person or entity for the magic to arrive. Far from it, the crisp, Autumn air itself was imbued with a raw energy, and anyone could access it if they only knew how. Moreover, you didn’t have to be good to participate in the spirit of Halloween. If anything, being really good seemed counterintuitive. Nevertheless, acquiring the full power of this magic required more than simple misdeeds. The means of achieving it were esoteric, and I, for one, could not have told my fellow Halloweeners exactly what was required of them, but I had a sense that there was a simplicity to its vaporous effervescence. That perhaps the secret had something to do with little more than loving Halloween. She who loved Halloween enough could be like Gilda Radner’s titular character in Witch’s Night Out and make everyone’s wishes and nightmares come true. Every year I strove to love Halloween a little more than the year before. Perhaps this year, I thought, will be the year it really happens. Perhaps this will be the year I finally turn into a werewolf. No matter how hard I tried, every year the magic of Halloween felt a little further away.
Last week David Lynch announced that he was working on season three of Twin Peaks. Season two of the weirdest, creepiest, most wonderful television show of all time left its protagonist Special Agent Dale Cooper in peril and the fate of the troubled citizens of Twin Peaks unknown. That’s a hell of a twenty-five year cliffhanger, but as tidy endings have never been Lynch’s trademark, most of us had learned to accept the ambiguity even if we never really got over it. Fire Walk With Me, while a masterpiece of a prequel, only toyed with our wounds and did little to assuage the pain. My friends’ enthusiasm for a new season of Twin Peaks saturated my facebook wall just as I was sharing “Adventures in Halloweening: Part 1,” but I didn’t care because I have never been so thrilled to be overshadowed before in my life.
Read Usman T. Malik’s short story “Resurrection Points” in Strange Horizons. The story opens with the graphic depiction of a corpse’s dissection, is narrated by Daoud, a boy with the unusual gift of a healing, life-giving touch that he has inherited from his father and mentor. Caught in the middle of a conflict between the Muslims and Christians of his community, Daoud has more power and heartache than his young age can process, and the unexpected and ambiguous ending leaves the reader with a sense of both disaster and catharsis that is spellbinding. I’m not sure that the story can properly be called horror or even fantasy, but it handles its examination of both the regenerative and destructive abilities of faith with a supernatural edge, foggy genre lines, and a literary finesse that is a thrill to read. I’m excited that Malik will be reading in Orlando for Functionally Literate along with Jeff VanderMeer next month and look forward to seeing this incredible writer in person.
Participated in a Halloween-themed Literocalypse that also included readings by Kristen Arnett, Lauren Reilly, Bekki Charbonneau, and Jack Fields. One of the highlights of the evening was Dolly Lambcock’s totally bizarre reinterpretation, à la Sharon Needles, of Lambchop’s Singalong. I closed out the night by reading an alternative ending to “Rumpelstiltskin” and my short story “Sick Fair” about a little boy whose experience at the carnival is less fun than he had anticipated. Having suffered from night terrors my entire life, the story is based on a dream I had when I was a little kid that scared me so badly I never forgot it. I had a good solid wine buzz by the time I went onstage to read that thought I saw in the back of the audience the creepy zombie wearing the same hat and trench coat from Zombietoberfest last week. He got up and snuck out the door halfway through my story. After the reading mingling in the lounge eating Halloween oreos and drinking even more wine, I saw a guy milling around in a hat and black jacket.
“I loved your zombie makeup,” I said to him. “Why did you wash it off?”
“Uh, what are you talking about?” he asked me. “Nice story, by the way.”
“Weren’t you at Zombietoberfest last week?” I said.
“What the hell is that? Sounds like fun,” he said and walked away.
I poured myself another glass of wine thinking, I probably need to drink a little less at these sorts of events.
Watched the classic hag-horror film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane starring Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.
Surprisingly I’d never seen this truly disturbing glance at one of the most dysfunctional families in cinematic history. Jane Hudson is one of the greatest villains in the history of horror, the credit due entirely to Bette Davis’s performance of her psychological deterioration, leaping from hateful sadist to obliviously aged, naive starlet with uncomfortable fluidity while tormenting her sister Blanche in the name of the jealousy that eats her alive. It’s nice to still be shocked and wowed now and then, especially when I start to feel like I’ve run the gamut on the scares Hollywood has to offer.
Scoured my book Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural searching for a story I read a few years ago, but of which I now can’t remember the name or author.
Narrated by a young child, the story unfolds as a family awakes in utter darkness, and as they attempt to find a light, they discover that they are trapped in some kind of otherworldly, pitch-black dungeon without exit or escape. The utterly hopeless nihilism of the story’s conclusion is unnerving to no end, but it soon became clear that it was not in the anthology I believed it to be, though the cover does have a wonderfully odd Edward Gorey illustration on it and in the process of looking for it I read some great stories like “The Professor’s Teddybear” by Theodore Sturgeon, “The Faceless Thing” by Edward D. Hoch, and “One Summer Night” by Ambrose Bierce. If any of you horror fiction fans or scary story aficionados are familiar with the tale I’m referring to, your input would be greatly appreciated.
Finished with the week with the annual staple Beetlejuice, because it’s just not Halloween without the ghost with the most. Prepared for There Will Be Words fourth Flash Fiction Spooktacular tomorrow night in which I will be subbing for my dear, overworked friend Ryan Rivas.
Finally, on Saturday The Drunken Odyssey’s Horror Movie Poetry Night will bring you a cast of fantastic local authors and their literary interpretation of their favorite scary films.
I’m in charge of werewolf movies if you haven’t already guessed. Both readings will be held at 7:00 at the Gallery at Avalon Island, the spookiest art gallery in downtown Orlando.
The days may be upwards of eighty degrees, but the nights are filled with chilling current of Samhain!
Teege Braune (episode 72, episode 75, episode 77, episode 90, episode 102) is a writer of literary fiction, horror, essays, and poetry. Recently he has discovered the joys of drinking responsibly. He may or may not be a werewolf.