About me

I've been writing stories for years. I think I'm a good writer and I'm willing to bet you'll feel the same way. So here they are. Enjoy them, comment on them, tell your friends about'em, reblog them, retweet them, reread them. I have four stories in my archive so far:
"One day on the Mountain", a story of Lycanthropy, a father, and a son.
"The Boy", a story of a very ambitious and sociopathic fifth grade boy.
"The Easy Girl, A story of infidelity and unpaid sexual debts. This story is very dark.
"Brick The Mighty", a story of an aging superhero.
Although this is primarily a blog of horror, I also write about things that are important to me. I have more stories tucked away; they just need editing. There's even a few novels. There will be more to come.
PS. Feel free to leave a comment. I love comments.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Trailer: We Need to Talk About Kevin

  Let's be honest. One of the best horror novels of the past several years was not some piece-of-crap zombie novel, nor was it anything to do with sparkly vampires. It was Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin.

    Like Pet Sematary, this book is horror defined. There is no gore involved, just the hell of seeing your child's soul die in front of you as he grows up. 

  The debate over what is horror can take up a lot of time and space. Horror is something visceral, so there's no point in trying to define it to someone who might view it differently. So I'll come up with two related examples.

   The other night, I was bopping around the vast world that is Reddit. Reddit is nothing more than a gigantic high school with a student body of more than a million people. I ended up in a sub-reddit called /r/gore. 

   The title says is all: Gory photos and videos. Once this corner of the net and many like it were inundated by videos releases by Al Qaeda and Ansar al-Islam: beheading videos in the desert. But those videos, which are awful, pale in comparison to what is now coming out of Mexico. 

  Mexican drug-cartels (And I'm afraid to even type their names; I suspect they just might show up at my door) like to capture members of rival gangs, and then slowly cut off their heads on camera. Sometimes they like to be efficient and use chainsaws. Sometimes they like to leave piles of dismembered bodies on the side of the road. 

  I was an idiot and watched a few of those videos, and clicked on a few photos. It's that awful Mount-Everest urge to vault the greatest heights, or see the most extreme things. Afterwards, I felt numb and ill, but I recovered. 

  I read up a little more about life in the cities south of the US border, such as Ciudad Juarez, which is the most afflicted by drug violence. This is what one resident said: "After work everyone rushes home. Because after dark, the vampires come out." 

    I was disturbed and grossed out by the videos, but that one statement by an innocent Mexican citizen horrified me and gave me nightmares. That is horror. 

   In We Need to Talk about Kevin, the vampires come out. A woman is condemned to hell on earth - because she didn't want a child in the first place? Because her son was born bad? Because she may have abused him? We never know, and the reader may as well vote as to whether the mother or Kevin himself is to blame for Kevin's behaviour. According to the author, it's about 50-50. 

    The movie is coming out soon. It's earned the author's seal of approval. It features John c. Reilly, who is wonderful, and most importantly, a delicious, six-foot package of acerbic and gingery goodness by the name of Tilda Swinton (who regretfully has gone brunette for this role). 

   For those of you who want true horror, and to be taken to a place where everything you ever wanted and valued turns sour and rotten as you live it, read this book. See this movie. 

8 Things I learned from my Graveyard

     I live near an enormous graveyard. Have you ever walked through and thoroughly examined a large graveyard? Mine has a Masonic section, mausoleums, a Jewish section, a Buddhist section, a stream and garden sprinkled with stones engraved with the names of dead babies, three separate veteran sections, and a brand new crematory wall. It does not have a pet section, which is too bad since I and so many other people walk their dogs there among the stones.
   Things I have learned since living by a graveyard ten blocks long.

1. If you want people to remember you, choose your gravestone wisely. Too many buy gravestones made of concrete. Crushed seashell is an ingredient in concrete, and the acid in rainwater will eat into your gravestone, reducing your engraved family name to a pale, near-invisible grouping of moss-eaten depressions. Soon your gravestone will be bleached and almost smooth. If you want your gravestone to moulder away as would a body, then fine. But otherwise, invest in either marble or granite. I’ve seen granite stones than I’ve thought were brand-new but upon reading the dates realized they were well over a century old. 

2. A very few graves are those of recently-dead children. Those graves are covered with festive balloons, little toy trucks, and colorful cards that proclaim the toughness and heroism of the child, who usually had a rough life in the intensive care unit being treated for something congenital. Often the gravestones are covered in stencilled cartoon Supermans, or Winnie the Pooh and Eyore. Don’t avoid these graves. You can see them a long way away. I visit one or two on a regular basis, sometimes with my own children. These kids faced death much more bravely than we ever will, and we shouldn’t cast our eyes away.

3. Don’t walk by the crematorium when the gas main is hissing. A good crematorium will use air scrubbers, but that sweet smell still makes its way to your nose.

4. Use graveyards. They are public green space, protected from scumbag developers, and if they were to be shunned by the public, gangs and squatters would move in. Murder victims would be left there, although I’m sure the murderers would be unaware of the irony. So walk your dog there, jog there, take the kids on walks through there. Think of your grandmother, and wonder whether she would want children playing in her place of eternal rest. Of course she would! I would too. Just be respectful.

5. If you’re using your graveyard for the purpose of teaching your child to ride his bike, do not do so on Mothers’ day. Mothers’ day is the busiest day of the year outside Veterans’ day/Memorial day. It will be very crowded.

6. I don’t know who this is, but if you’re reading this: Don’t leave food in the cemetery. Whole chickens, roasts, piles of cereal and rice, whole mountains of mashed potatoes, racks of ribs - seriously, I get that there is a creepy religious angle to all of this, but it’s still gross. Rats, seagulls, and coyote are drawn to the graveyard and they don’t go away. If you can’t help it, and still feel the need to put out perishable food in the graveyard, do it on All Souls’ Day like everyone else.

7. Learned to be open-minded. Everyone dies, everyone. Several years back, a young fellow was found in the backyard of a marijuana grow-house with a bullet in his head. His boyz left pictures of him flashing gang signs, crosses, framed photos of him and his scary friend lounging on the couch, and a small pile of joints right under his name on the crematory wall. If that is how his friends and family wish to remember him, I’ll try not to judge. At least they didn’t bring rotting chickens. 
Click to embiggen

Finally - 8. If your last name is Dick, do not let your wife erect a monstrously large phallic gravestone in your name. Perhaps the woman in question wanted to world to know the secret to their happy marriage, but I didn’t need to know. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The First Clip - Twilight: Breaking Dawn

   And here it is - Clearly, Edward and Bella have booked the Hymen Asunder De-Virgining Suite at the Club Med Cancun. It's clean and serene, with cotton loungers and a gleaming, varnished hardwood floor. Despite all this, Bella looks like she has more than a little performance anxiety.

    And really, look at this place. The pure white bed, the softly winding French doors- I'm just not sure why there isn't a bellhop waiting by their suitcases for a tip. Edward had to carry both Bella and his luggage? Is he on a budget?

  I've only ever seen the first movie (It was so-so), but I'm fascinated by the Twilight phenom. Yes, it's all about the scary subject of sex: you know you want it, but it will tarnish you forever if you do it. But it's so hot and Edward is such a doll! But what will my parents say? But what will my mother say because I'm single, forty, and have an Edward Cullen toilet snuggle? I get it that teen girls eat this stuff up, but that doesn't explain the adult women who would rape the jeans right off that poor Robert Pattinson.

Ahab and Gadaffi

   A few years ago, I got the urge to read fancy books. I’m not sure why I did, but it was a good idea. I read Middleamarch, Ulysses, all the novels of Martin Amis, the four main books of JM Coetzee, a lot of Iris Murdoch, some Aldous Huxley, and a huge helping of Doris Lessing, who I think is one of the finest and most visionary writers of the 20th century. 

  I also read Moby Dick.

   A lot has been written about this book. It is not boring. The final three chapters are the finest action writing you’ll ever read and that’s a promise. Stephen Spielberg took those three last chapters and made a movie about them, only he made the whale into a giant Great White shark.

   Aside from the whale, that central character of the novel, who only appears at the end, there is Ahab, the most driven man in all literature. He becomes the novel’s main thrust as he chases Moby Dick, who can be seen as a massive phallus, a destructive egg, or the force of destiny, death itself. The whale is inevitability, destruction, a force that will forever beat you even as you pursue it and proclaim your victory.

   At one point in Moby Dick, Ahab gets his fortune told. He is told that he will die from being hung by the neck. Ahab rejoices, for it means that he will be executed on dry land, and thus the White Whale will never kill him.

    In the great climax of the novel, he plunges his harpoon into the whale and the rope attacked to the harpoon loops about his neck, pulling him into the water with the force of a runaway train. Surprise!

    This is a life lesson: never imagine that it won’t happen to you. What’s it? Well, it is anything you think is beneath you. Can’t imagine you’ll ever be homeless? Madonna’s brother is homeless, even if his sister is obscenely wealthy. Can’t imagine you’ll ever do time? Conrad Black is doing time. If it can happen to them, it can happen to you.

Gaddaffi minutes
 before the end
   What if you’re a supremely powerful leader who has held onto power for more than forty years? You’ve hired Mariah Carey to sing for your son’s birthday. You’ve engineered massive acts of terrorism and gotten away with it. All around you are countries saddled with unshakeable and brutal dictatorships.

    Would you ever think you would meet your end covered in blood, publicly thrown upon the hood of a truck in the middle of the day, while fifty hysterical young and armed men throng about you?

    This happened to Muommar Gadaffi. He was shot minutes later, and then his body was taken to a strip mall and tossed into a commercial freezer so the citizens of Libya could take a look.

   I’m not at all sympathetic. This is what happens to men and woman who rule. A lot of English royalty were taken from their castles into a public square and beheaded. Mussolini was killed and tossed into a heap of other bodies as the Italian public filed by.

   But we are human, and somehow we are engineered to think that the bad thing, that happens to people just like us, will never happen. This time it’s different, is what we say. It’s what we said about the housing bubble, it is what Gadaffi said about himself even as the rebels closes in on the city of Sirt, it is what Steve Jobs said when he began treating his cancer with internet cures. This time it’s different. This is what has driven the plot to a million stories, real and fictional.

    It’s death they’re afraid of. That we’re afraid of. We all want to die in our sleep after a five-course mean prepared by a french chef, a cigar, a glass of Remy Martin, and sex with a pornstar. That may happen to Charlie Sheen, but it’s not going to happen to us.

  For the most part, we’re going to die unpleasantly, without dignity, with a thousand untended regrets.

   But all the manoeuvring and denial is entertainment. It’s what makes life interesting. It’s how we are.

    So the next time you think of death, don’t get discouraged. Nothing will change, but by all means, try to defeat death. Pursue it and try to beat it. You won’t succeed, but what a story you’ll make with your efforts. 

Friday, 21 October 2011

Safety part 3

The next day passes without incident. No phone calls, no terrible stories on the news. I’m not sure that that means; neither was there nothing on the news about the man under the tarp who would not die.
   I come home in the car, picking up the kids on the way. Evan and Cory seem to be fine; they have no inkling that there might be something happening. Kids seem to have wonderfully fine-tunes senses; it’s their remembered childhoods that are the barometers of an era, and Evan and Cory are no different today. Even little Cory, who at five is a sensitive bit of blue-eyed soul, is cheerful and affectionate. His older brother, at eight, is a bright and questioning, and he would regard the end of the world as an adventure in which he would be the winner. 
   “We’re going to pick up Mommy from work.”
    “Why don’t you guys but another car already?” says Evan, picking his nose. 
    “We’re not buying another car because we don’t need one, and you don’t need an Ipod Touch either, mister.”
     “Half the kids in my class have them.”
     I bite my tongue. I want to tell him there’s no time in life for playing video games and staring at a screen, even thought I’m as early an adapter as you can get. I want to tell him and Cory all the things that would make them better than me, even though that is the wrong way to teach. Despite his insolence, I often catch Evan parroting my sayings and opinions verbatim. I have to be better, I tell myself. It won’t be long before he’s taller, and no measure of force will make him to listen to me. It’ll be his death, I fear, if I can’t make him listen to me when he’s older. It’s a rough world out there; far rougher than I was young. I’m one of those adults who think the young are in trouble through no fault of their own. It’s probably our fault.
    We make our way through the sluggish traffic, heading towards City Hall, which is next to the big hospital. The emergency room is near the Skytrain Line, and sometimes I’ve taken the kids on it to visit mommy at work. They know they emergency room, and they know that we’re never to walk through front, and let all the patients in the waiting room know that the nice and pretty woman has an identifiable family. 
    The frightening crowds she spoke of are no longer here. It is as if a silent edict has cleared them away and what has replaced them is the usual: The old, immigrants who can’t speak English, a few Ed Hardy-clad young men who look unimaginably violent and stare suspiciously at anyone how comes in the front door. Also, some very sick people: not emergency cases, but older, wheezing, immensely fat men and women who have ten different things wrong with them and are clinging to life by duct-tape. This is the side of adult medicine we are not told about on the TV shows. In the corner, a gnomic old woman shuffles five different pill bottles between her hands and her purse. 
     I see all this when I look out from the ER’s central station. 
     Most of the nurses recognize us, and let the boys sit behind the counter where we cannot be seen. The place smells of shit with a faint after-tinge of blood. I don’t like the smell, but I cannot complain of a smell that is so necessary. They save people’s lives here and that has never been a fragrant business. I could say the same thing about the maternity ward when my two sons were born. There is nothing pleasant-smelling about either life or death.
   My wife comes out. Part of her job is to teach other doctors the fundamentals of emergency medicine, and three young and dapper Fellows follow her into the open where she makes the introductions. The Fellows fawn over my two handsome sons but they are professionally bound to do so: she is their teacher and also the supervisor. Two are men and one is a woman.
   “Did you have a good day?” I ask her after she has given me and the boys a quick kiss. 
   “Busy,” she said. She looks exhausted, and she has often said that she is a walking advertisement not to get into medicine. She knows one of doctor, a single mother, who stays awake during the day and works shifts at night. This woman falls asleep the moment she stops moving and yet somehow she is allowed to work. “It was so busy today. There must be a full moon.”
    “Why don’t we go home? Remember that Harold and Lisa are coming over tonight.”
    “Crap,” she said. “At least we did a lot of the cooking last night.”
     At home it is a simple matter to get the food together. It’s a lasagna made with organic ricotta and sunflower seeds have been sprinkled on the crispy top. We’ve got good wine from the Okanagan, and brightly coloured salad greens sprinkled with shredded beets and chopped strawberries. It is a fine but simple meal that cannot fail to impress. We chide the boys to change into some clean clothes and somehow we persuade Evan to comb his hair. The clock strikes six and there is a knock at the door.
     When we open the door, Harold and Lisa stand alone. The two daughters, whom my wife has said are beautiful in almost an eldritch way, are not with them.
      Harold is dressed in the same clothes as when I saw him last night through the window. His pants are dark but I can still see something dark and tacky where someone might rub his wet and dirty hands. 

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Occupy Wall Street

 The Occupy protests came to Vancouver. They're camped out by the art gallery, which is where all the protests happen, anyway.

   Just a thought: every time I hear about these protests on the radio or on TV, someone invariably asks: "Do they even know why they're there?" I only hear this on the radio, the TV, or the traditional print media.

   This is because in the dawn of the protests, a lot of Wall Street firms hired communications firms to call the media and salt the ground with harmful rumours. I think a lot of those rumours caught on. I think the main rumour is the protesters' supposed lack of direction.
  There is no lack of direction. Well, there is, but there's a good reason.

   Through the changing of laws, through a bought Congress/Parliament, through executive bonuses, regulations that protect incorporated entities, through a Treasury run by former Goldman-Sachs executives, a tiny sliver of the population ran off with all our money, and when they lost that money, ran off with additional three-quarters of a trillion dollars in bailout money. That money is theirs, not fair and square, but legally. There's a difference between 'legal' and 'fair and square.'

  The OWS protesters, the 99%, have no idea how to get that money back. But they can't just go home: someone took their money, their benefits, their jobs, cut their salary and hours, and they were expected to just continue to buy cheap overseas goods, watch TV, and play video games instead of doing something about it. Instead they woke up, and people of all ages are now taking to the streets.

   So that's why they are there. They're protesting a game in which the rules got changed. They have no idea what should happen, but something needs to happen. They're going to stay there until it does. For all our sakes, I hope they win.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Hugging the Cactus

    Robert Downey Jr received the American Cinematheque award on Friday. When he came up to make his speech, there was evidence  something was up: Mel Gibson was standing behind him, looking at the floor, his big hands clasped contritely together. All things considered, he didn’t look too bad: sort of like an ex-football pro who’s kept off the fat.

     Downey put on his best compassionate voice; we knew what was going to happen and yet we still wanted to see it. These two men are terrific entertainers, after all. Downey began by talking about his own struggles with alcohol and drugs. Then he talked of Gibson’s role in his social rehabilitation.

   "I couldn't get hired, and he cast me," Downey said. "He said if I accepted responsibility -- he called it hugging the cactus -- long enough, my life would take meaning. And if he helped me, I would help the next guy. But it was not reasonable to expect the next guy would be him." This got a huge laugh. 

   Gosh, do you remember Downey’s substance issues? Ally McBeal had to shoot around him because he was in jail. He got caught doing drugs by himself in a hotel room, which angers the libertarian in me, to tell the truth. You should be allowed to abuse yourself in private. But he’s clean and serene now, and in wicked shape to boot. So it’s only natural that someone so flawed would seek redemption for a friend.

   Mel came to the front of the stage, and the two men hugged. It made me glad, to be honest. None of us are perfect, and I hope that if I fall hard I will have the forgiveness of at least some of my friends and family. 

    Mel Gibson (and the plays on his name: Mad Mel. What fresh Mel is this?) got caught drunk driving, mouthing off to cops, and of course there were the ant-semitic remarks, and at long last his girlfriend and baby momma taped him screaming and ranting into the phone. He’s had a rough few years. So have his family, thanks to him.

   If you think Mel shouldn’t be given a second chance because he’s an abusive and drunken bigot, that’s fine. 

  But you should consider it not for him, but for yourself. The criminal courts are full of checks and balances because an innocent man should never be convicted, and that the guilty can be rehabilitated. Otherwise, blame is a very wasteful exercise. When you’re getting angry at someone who did you wrong, remember that. It's easier to forgive. Constant anger is like a leaky faucet. 

   And should you ever monumentally screw up, then wouldn’t it be nice to know that forgiveness is possible? It doesn’t mean you have permission to commit bad acts, but maybe, just maybe, you can be forgiven. 

   Because Iron Man told us to forgive Mel. 

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Faces of Death

   I’ve mentioned this before, but when I was a child I was a slow reader. 

   Then I started reading horror novels - James Herbert’s The Dark, to begin with - and I began to read well. My mother has always maintained that she bought me a mechanical device that dispensed raisins every time I read a passage correctly. I have no memory of this thing, but to this day I’ve always loved raisins so maybe she’s right. But to me, it was always my love of horror that saved me from school. 

  I decided I would write a horror story for school. I think I was in grade four. 

  It wasn’t much of a story. Told in the first person, the story begins with a condemned man in his cell. He’s getting the death penalty, so I wrote a lot of grim things about guilt and imprisonment. 

   The officials come to the cell and take me( the prisoner) away. Down the corridor I go, and soon I am strapped into the electric chair. 

  The warden turns on the juice, and here is where a nine year-old gets a little carried away with the purple. In great detail, I write how my body shakes and fries. Then, in a glorious final  (not to mention utterly un-realistic)  touch, my eyes pop under the strain of electrocution, and my last memory before dying is of the ocular fluid running down my face. Not much for plot or development, but somewhat vivid anyway.

 So here’s where you’re expecting me to go straight to the principal’s office, the police getting called, the child psychologist coming in to see if I had trauma in my past. But it didn’t happen that way.

  My teacher raved about the story. It was sent straight to the principal, who later told me how much he liked it. I had a birthday party the following summer and my father, dense as a block, took out the famous story and read it to my friends ( I think I hid somewhere). 


 Eight years later. 

 I was McGill university, taking a degree for which I would later have no use. I was in residence, living in the infamous McConnell Hall, which had an international reputation for wildness. Beer was two bucks a pop and came served in plastic Molson cups. We had a shooter party in which puke buckets were placed in ten-foot intervals throughout the room. After second term half of residence caught mononucleosis, which not so nasty a disease as you would think. 

The floor fellow kept half his apartment open for anyone to use. He had a VCR we could use, and one night someone rented Faces of Death.

Faces of Death is a cult film. It is directed by ‘Conan le Cilaire’, and someone named Doctor Francis B. Gross served as ‘Creative Consultant.’ It is often described as ‘Banned in 40+ countries.”

It’s a piece of Mondo documentary crap made in 1980, set to strange, jaunty muzak, and full of ostensibly real blood and gore. Someone gets torn apart by alligators, a man murders his entire family; there are assassinations, falls from great heights, and trips to the morgue. 

About halfway through the movie they get into the executions.

The first is is a gassing. It’s pretty uneventful. The poor bastard shakes and coughs a bit before his head hangs. 

The second is by electric chair. 

It’s starts with a man pacing and smoking in his cell. The officials come and take him down the hall to the chamber which contains the electric chair. He struggles when they put on the straps, and then he is calm. His eyes are covered with cloth and tape. 

  When they turn on the juice, he pulls and shakes so much he nearly comes out of his electric cap. After the charge is finished, the doctor examines him and determines that he is still alive. So everyone steps away, and the juice is turned on yet again. This time he smokes a bit, and then, as the camera pulls close, blood pours out from beneath the cloth covering his eyes. The awful music swells.

It was faked, of course, as most of Faces of Death was. The question of what was and wasn’t faked in the first (for there were many sequels) Faces of Death has always been debated, but the electric chair scene was unquestionably faked. 

 Banned from TV came next, and a host of other imitators, but Faces of Death was the mondo film that put the faux-documentary/exploitative-trash film genre on the map for a wide audience. Then Al-Qaeda began releasing the beheading videos of real people, and the whole idea of compiling death for entertainment became moot. 

This is a fear of mine. Like the main character in Clive Barker’s short story Dread, I have a very specific fear. Barker’s character had a fear of a giggling clown with an axe.

 My fear is of being in an enclosed room without windows. Around me are uniformed men and officials paid to be there at this moment: a time long ago set aside just for me and a time I can never escape. The men are grim and businesslike, beefy, with working-class moustaches and perhaps union cards in their wallets. They are so casually merciless that one of them seems a little bored. There’s a doctor there are well, a nervous alcoholic failure of a man whose options for work are limited. 

  To either the gurney or chair they strap me. My fate has been sealed by countless lawyers and judges and technically there is no injustice. 

   I never imagine the actual death. The waiting and the preparation are perfectly terrifying and I never get beyond that. It’s a good creative lesson - the lead-up is far more interesting than the ultimate reveal. We know we won’t be around for the end anyway. 

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Beast Within

         This is one of those strange and ephemeral memories. 

     I was in a bookstore, leafing through the horror section as always. I was little, but old enough to be allowed to read violent books. Or maybe my parents were so relieved that I was reading that she didn’t care what I read. Either way, I was young, reading horror novels in a bookstore that might have been in Mic Mac Mall, which was the biggest shopping mall in the Nova Scotia. It still is, I hear. It definitely still has the original design, which makes it look straight out of Romero’s Day of the Dead.

   (Incidentally, the name Mic Mac comes from the Mic Mac Indians, or First Nation, as we would call them today. ‘Mic Mac’ is a phonetic bastardization of the proper way to say it: MigMag, although you have to open your mouth very wide and do something strange to your epiglottis to manage it.)

  In the horror section, I found a novel called The Beast Within(1981), by Edward Levy. The cover was a large clawed hand that lurked behind the title. So I began to read it. I was, and still am, and extremely fast reader, and I breezed through it quickly as I stood in the aisle of the old-fashioned mall bookstore. No lattes or candle display nearby: just the bestsellers up front and the schlock on the side walls, where I was standing. When you read standing up, your shoulders are hunched, and your neck is bent at an angle. Your arms and wrists are tensed and held. Your blood flows poorly and you’re quite vulnerable if something might happen to you. Of course, nothing ever had happened to me while I read standing up so I had no reason to believe I might read something that would endanger me. 

   The Beast Within start as an old religious farmer tills his field. He hasn’t been tilling the field of his nineteen year-old wife, because that might be fun. He happens to hate sex, has been raised to hate sex. So when a travelling Bible salesman (Yep, you read that correctly) comes to call, what’s a red-blooded and neglected farmgirl to do? Despite the cheap brushes Levy uses, the set-up he paints is vivid and elemental - the voluptuous teen wife with ‘long chestnut hair’, the rigid and frigid domineering old husband and his bible and his praying, and the strutting young salesman coming to call.

  With barely few flattering words ( and the book is frank in how easy the salesman seduces her. You’d have to be an idiot to fail in such a rigged situation), the salesman has her clothes off. Right in the middle of all that rutting, the husband burst in upon them and knocks the salesman unconscious. Knowing just how much the husband detests sex and anything to do with it, one cannot imagine things went well for his wife after the salesman is knocked out. But we never witness what happens to her. We find out later.

  The salesman wakes up, his head aching. He’s lying on the floor of the cellar, chained to the wall. Above him the door opens, and the raging husband throws the body of his dead wife onto the floor beside the prostrate salesman, who, we must assume, will not ever be selling Bibles again. She’s been cooked. We never find out how she was cooked - on a spit? A large stove? A pot? Cured in the sun? Smoked? It’s not really important. What is important is that she is crisp and smells like roast pork. 

   The man holds out for quite a long time - a week, if I remember. He gets more and more hungry. Finally, weak and ravenous, all restraining impulses melted away like wax by the flame of his hunger, he crawls over to the body and ‘sinks his teeth into the flesh of her hip’. I remember these words perfectly, well over thirty years later, because when I looked up from the page, great pulsing beams of white light were shooting down from the ceiling and and my body was numb and tingling all over. Then nothing. 

  The next thing I knew my mother was standing over me, and beside her was a store employee who looked friggin’ terrified. 


  That story was in my nightmare for weeks after that. A book so terrible, so extreme, that it could endanger my health - The Beast Within may as well have been the Necronomicon for all the power it had over me. 

   I read the entire book when I was older. I held my breath when I came to that fateful passage, but nothing happened - no tingling, no embarrassing fainting. The cannibalism was just the beginning: the man is kept there for years until he breaks free, but by then he is no longer human. He sires a son; the son has a lot in common with his absent dad. Essentially, it’s a werewolf story. It has all the deep currents of sex, shame, and unavoidable parental curses that any good werewolf story should have, except there isn’t a werewolf. But it was a relief to take away that power that it once had over me.

 A year after its publication, a terrible movie version came out. We found out about the movie and we rented it.I was honour-bound to see it, and it became just another movie my buddies and I saw on the weekend. The ending - well, I won’t ruin it for you by giving it away - was epically bad. Google the title, press ‘images’ on top of the page, and you’ll see stills from the climax. 

   Horribly yours,

       Mac Campbell