June 16, 2011

Hear the Author - WRITING MONSTER!

On Tuesday night I posted my story called "The Wind Cries Mary" for B. Nagel's writing prompt, Wake Up, Writing Monster.  Here, I read it aloud. Even better, I fired up GarageBand and played around, so you get cheesy sound effects to go with the melodramatic reading!


Reposted below is the text of the story, in case you'd like to read along.

The Wind Cries Mary

I never imagined the thwump of a desk clerk’s dispassionate stamp could be so electric.

Six years. Six years I’ve wormed my way through courtrooms, slimed through the seedy lives of distant relatives, and sifted through the midnight dirt of forgotten, overgrown plots. All to win the legal right to force my distant relations to give me the finger.

The middle finger. Of my third cousin, six times removed: Mary Shelley.

The parts are assembled. The solar panels are on line and capacitors at full charge; I can tell because my iPod fills the lab with the raw guitar riffs of Hendrix. I wonder what my Artist will think of Purple Haze when I drop the switch.

The bones are true, but I’ve taken creative license with the flesh. I had planned to use whatever fresh meat came my way, but advances in cloning not yet legal back in the States are proving ... fruitful. It was a simple matter once I thought it through--wait tables at a few writers’ conferences, swab the used cutlery. Voila! Instant Genius! Just add agar.

Such excursions have brought me the biceps of Stephen King, the hair of Dave Barry, the heart of Garrison Keillor, and the jowls of Evil Editor. Or, more accurately, have given my Artist those physical attributes.

The rest, stuffed between the bones and leathery skin of the legends, is flesh taken from med school cadavers at ten dollars a body. I don’t know who the poor souls were, but they all died in delightfully violent ways after desperately hard lives. Thus the restraints you see on the body.

I hobble on my crutch across the room, humming with silent electricity. The acute bite of my missing toe, attached to the Artist only minutes ago, gives me sweet elation. My creation, the greatest author ever, soon will rise from my operating table.

The cameras roll, and my sweaty hand grips the switch. Tight chest, quivering breath, weak knees. I pull with the weight of my entire life, yanking the handle from its cradle and smashing it to the circuit. Lights flicker, sparks fly from the transformers, and electricity arcs across terminals for effect only. It’s all very dramatic, to be sold for a lot of money to The History Channel. I’ve already sent in my proposal for the screenplay. I will insist that I be played by Matt Damon. Or Colin Firth. Either is fine.

I relinquish the switch, drop my crutch, and thump-drag myself to the side of the table. I fight the urge to touch his skin and feel the warmth and life filling him. There are also three million volts filling him. Soon--ten point six seconds exactly--the buzzing and lightning subside, and the lights warm to a smooth fluorescence.

I pant in the way I probably would if I had just made love to a beautiful woman. My forehead is slick with sweat, and my jaw trembles. I’ve never been so nervous.


A flutter of Chaucer’s eyelid! And a tremor in the left forefinger of Cervantes! I run my fingers along the rugged thigh of Melville, Hawthorne’s knee, Beatrix Potter’s shapely shinbone. All the way to my toe. I imagine wiggling it on the end of my own foot, and it quivers where it now lives, then curls along with the toes that walked that road less traveled through that yellow wood.

O! My heart thumps, my blood boils within me.

It’s alive!

I revel only a moment and shake myself back to my duties. I loose the restraints and shuffle to the desk. Quill, pen, paper, typewriter all sit ready to receive the combined genius of my Artist.

It convulses. The blood has begun pumping, oxygen is flowing. Oh, it’s glorious! His head lolls left, right. His mouth opens. A groan rises into the lab, harmonizing with psychedelic guitar riffs.

It sits up.

It swings its legs around, off the table, thumps to the floor. Wobbly, it swoons around until its blank gaze lands on me with lightless eyes. It considers me for a full minute. Can it see me? Does it recognize its creator?

I put my hands out, then sweep them to the desk with its beckoning tools. “For you,” I declare. “All for you!”

The creature surveys the implements. A perplexed frown darkens its brow. “Aaarrrghah,” it growls, and stumbles to the desk. With one deafening swipe, it crashes the assembly to the floor.

In despair, I cry, “But you must write! Do you not want to write?” Assembled before me are the greatest writers that ever graced the planet. I do not understand.

“ARREEGHH,” it spits at me. “Asshole.” The creature looks clumsily for an exit, then pushes past me to stumble to the door. “I need a drink.”

Barging through the door, it pauses long enough to glare at me one final time. The finger of my third cousin six times removed, rises slowly, backed by Hemingway’s toothy grin.

The Writing Monster, now awoken, shuffles away to Cap’n Salty’s corner bar.

Stunned, all I can do is retrieve the fallen implements and set them back on the desk. My missing toe throbs in agony as I stare at the blank page, mocking me from the platen of the ancient manual typewriter.

Almost against my will, I right the fallen chair and sit. My fingers hover over the keys. One click, then another. Soon my fingers fly as fast as the machine can handle.

I have swept up the broken pieces of yesterday’s life, but those lives that lived are dead.

The wind gusts through my open window, billows the curtains, and whispers all their names in my ear. As the breeze passes on into the night, it whispers one final name.



jjdebenedictis said...

This is awesome!

Hopefully none of us have to give up a toe for our dreams. Time and effort should be enough, right? Right?

Richard Levangie said...

Nicely done! You sound altogether too charming to be reading something so macabre, but the humor was expected.

I tried to play. Baby steps, I guess. :-)


PJD said...

Jen, thank you! I think time, effort, luck, and right-place-right-time all come into play. Hopefully not toes. Except for the occasional kick in the butt we all need. For that, you need toes. Or, well, a foot anyway.

Richard, ha ha charming! I love it. thank you. Macabre humor seems to run in some of my material, but I'm not sure from which part of my completely unsordid and unremarkable past that derives. I just went to your place for a listen. Brilliant.

dolorah said...

I loved this the first time I read it. I enjoyed the reading as much - but I did have to follow the written word. Sorry, I'm a reader . .

I would have joined the Voice Thingy, but I honestly don't know how. My friend Elena Solodow made a vlog of the first about 500 words of a fantasy novel I'm working on, and I'm still in awe, not only in her talents as a reader, but that she could put the video together too.

It took my son and I a couple weeks to figure out how to put it in my sidebar. It'd probably take us years to figure out how to record on anything but the webcam on my netbook.

Your reading was awesome. I'm still on the fense about e-books, but I'm adamant my novels - if ever they sell - be offered as audio books too.

A weird sentiment, I know, coming from a person who does not process auditorily.