I stand by a tree, watch Palace play. The stage is too big: bare black, just boards and empty lights and Will Oldham is a white t-shirt and jeans. He’s skinny, slowly entrancing and I can’t move away from the tree in this heat. I hear Hope to remember the face of the singer or the way people lie down on the lawn as if music is sun. That same man is driving a car through hoops of flame. I ride horses like an electric fence that hums teeth and gums. I remember my grandfather being kicked purple by a horse. There is no music. I run away. There is a photograph and it is a shipyard made of wood and rust. It doesn’t look like a palace. It feels the way the north side of town smells: cement, paper, dirt. I am the only one who hears, and the horses are soft to teenage ears, just a drip of Agnes. I conjure the voice of a singer who sings so well he doesn’t sing at all. I am no longer in Michigan, all smog-lungs. I do not hear his voice anymore over the language and the din of tones. Hear my own voice. I am standing by a tree. I cannot speak well. The palace stage is set anew by a band I don’t see, because we are walking through the crowd trying to find a hill to sit and dream music and be silent horses of death.
Mad Hit Lit presents Night Comedy of Lunatics + After Charity
J. Grefe - Writer: Facebook
In preparation for the autumn 2013 release of my Bizarro novella, The Mondo Vixen Massacre, I present five delicious pieces of mine that will help set the table for future stories to come, hand selected for your reading pleasure.
06/29/2013 UPDATE: a new publisher (details soon) has acquired this novella with a tentative release date of late 2013/early 2014. I feel like a Spring Breaker. Thank you, world and, readers, prepare yourself for the beast.
I am currently shopping my latest novella, TARANTULEECHEN, an homage to 1980s/90s B-movie/exploitation cinema that features a cheerleader punk band, a most gruesome and hungry monster, an ornery sheriff and his sidekick, plus a whole of hardboiled action, sorcery, gore and punk rock. This 19,000 word novella is looking for a good home with the right publishing house. Please contact me for more. Thank you.
Here is an excerpt from TARANTULEECHEN:
It’s late—the hum of night crickets.
A two-story farmhouse.
Shlurp-clmp-shlurp-clmp: a beastly form, wiggling too many limbs, drags across the lawn toward a shed and enters the dark.
Behind us, slippers shuffle and a throat clears, mumbling grumpy, gravelled spite. A shadow, a man.
Frank Donner throws open the front door, his chin gleaming stubble in the moonlight. He’s all silver hair and bifocals, a lumpy old bastard. Donner scans, squints, leans on the porch beam, hands in his pockets. It’s nothing, only:
Smoke drifts horror-jitters over the yard.
The shed glows green.
He folds his arms, spits. Suddenly—
The shed is a series of fizzles, pops, cracks like bone grinding metal.
Donner grits his teeth.
The roaring shed morphs to a growl.
He unsticks himself from the porch beam. “Can smell you in there,” he says, “and I want you to go back to where you came from.” He coughs. “Counting to three—you, you understand? Leave. This. Family. Alone.” He doesn’t count to three, instead pushes his dentures further into place and clacks.
The thing in the shed ejaculates a splat.
“Wrong night,” he says. “End this legacy.”
The thing farts.
The front door bangs open, slippers on stairs, index finger on book spines. Donner’s weathered hand yanks out a leathery hardback, ancient, faintly glowing green. Those dentures clack, suck dust. He bites his lip, searches inside. He’s muttering. Nervous hands fumble page to page and suddenly stop. “This ends,” he says, tapping the text, “right here.”
Over his shoulder, a bay window frames the yard. Curtains flutter and we focus past them on the monstrous form, how it has emerged from the shed, backlit, ominous, and ready, but it just looms for now, a heaping chunk like smokey knives made of bile.
Lightning snaps the shed.
Those appendages warble, shimmy slow; the beast disappears in a snarl.
The front door kicks back open for round two. Donner stands armed with the book and ready to read. He tips it open, rakes chin stubble—thunderclaps—and grins. He’s found the right page. “Got yourself into a heap,” he says, shuffling to the shed. “Not your fault, still—a fucking heap and this is it.”
He looks up to the sky. He stares ahead at the eerily quiet shed.
Each step is a Morricone harmonica wail of reverbed tension.
Cold creeps over Donner when he stands at the shed door. It’s time, he thinks, time to put a stop to this. He clears his throat, looks down at the opened book and then, his mouth shooting right into our very soul, as if in some kind of witch-trance, growls out, “Beast of the Wretch, and Misery-Monger of the Ceaseless NightFrost GloomHole, I summon your return to the Caverns of UrOoze, to the Vomitous Hail and Sleet Stench of the Vile Clench Rod. May Fire Suckers eat your Soulless Corpssssssssss—.” Cough.
He breathes, stands unsteady, phlegms up snot. Otherwise, it’s quiet. Over, he thinks. It’s finally over. Let’s study this turd.
He yells, “kiiiiiyaahhhheeeeee,” Bruce Leeing open the shed door, but that beast, those appendages, those razored claws, all of its hulking girth stands close, too close, dripping, waiting, just grinning evil down on poor Donner.
Donner turns the page, there is more: another stanza—unread.
Unfinished. Too late.
A new essay(istic) piece influenced by John Carpenter’s THE THING is up at my other home, The Eyeslit-Crypt. Read on, readers: THINGS: AN ESSAY
We enter the cabin—it’s often a cabin, a house of wood: lights dim, click off. This is how it begins. Girls play guns in the woods, stack stick-piles by the creek and summon fire in Shinto dirt. They stick fingers in the dirt—never like this, not a blood soaked ritual by the grave. It ends up like this. Shane is the first to go: lopped off legs, eyes gouged, hair torn, mouth zeroed. There are no football players in our house on this night of red—not anymore. First names are not written, they are jack ‘o lanterned and lit. Do not use a hacksaw or a meat grinder or an ax. We know this. We know how to throw rocks in empty windows as if hitting a ghost-girl or a rivered spirit will release the darkness of being a teen. Shane is a teen, so is Eva, Linda, John, and Bill—dead, dead, dead. They are not fashion models. This is not Milano. Cut. Arms pile in the fireplace of the cabin: a fisherman’s net, a brick, a saw blade, rope. This drip is the sound of teen snapshots on Tumblr. Leave. Suck drugs from the soaking lungs of bones in the closet. Burn the oven. Torch the cabin. A step does not make a sound. The rocks we throw in the windows of the cabin in the woods, when we hold them in our teen hands, they are soundless oracles. They never make a sound and I would like to think of that ghost-girl in the dark by the window. She is still there and knows this night is a teen slasher, a way to ruin parties: the sex, the drugs, the blood, the dirt. Turn off the lights.
Bud is in black suit, helmeted along the track. Engine jazz. A tank top and a towel. Load the van.
Profile closer than passenger, it’s grain. No matter the gas station girl, we are the focal point.
Gleam splattered bugs on windshield. A mailbox. Wood panels. I’ll kiss you with both hands in five minutes. Hurry to leave. I am a tail light like an empty mailbox or a highway.
The blurred profile is a sky made of houses and cars. A stop sign and too much green to behold. The green is how I blend into a picket. I have a brown sweater. I’ll wait at the door of a house where I don’t know how long it has been since you’ve been home.
Red hair turns orange and bored. Birds chirp. Nothing but a bunny rabbit. I live in LA where it’s small. There are no children there. Everything is brown. I’ve grown, too. The pool has been drained. There are no pools here anymore, no tablecloths where food should be.
The road melts black hair in Ohio. Roadside in leather. It’s a tired song, but rain is a car.
A pet store holds birds and fish and puppies and kitties and bunnies. Bunny life is five years, six until death. I want to forgive you.
Fried rice and chicken. Wash hands over white tiles. It is summer.
At the rest stop. White shirt. Your halter top landscape. I’ll walk past you. But when I turn, sit close, your face is a Lilly. Lips stare. The comfort of ghosts. Wait for the sun to turn blonde grass into hair. Frame it by an unending slope to silver.
I want to be tender. Fields are tender. Write the horizon stretched forever. She’s there in white kisses alone on a motel bed. The sheet is a skin. Be a comb or a gaze driving mountain to salt. I’ve held the edge of a door. I’ll block wind-sun from your watered squallor. Drive it to the edge and slip, curve the night-trucks due west.
Gasoline. A strip of fuel for the flat.
Be a speck once more. An angle to hover. Pure light. Glass spectacle turns grey concrete to the air of this love.
Nevada in the perpetual spring glitz. These are the ghosts of who you could be the future I dream. Rose is a flower that reminds me of you. Beauty is how we drive, circle, drive. And Rose is a necklace. She is pierced, but you and her are planets apart and I am terrified of being with you.
Seventy-seven. I’ve grown tired in the way. Your street is a sunset silhouette framed empty. This is where a family used to live. This is where Daisy used to live, lives here no more, not now. I’ll pin hair in a bun, watch sun drip, leave a note for you on the door.
Here is a room of white. Sleep is a way to cry. The way grey smokes crack. Sit on the bed. Daisy is made of light. Sit on my lap for a hug. Nothing is spoken from a pipe. This is not Bay Street. There were other boys there. Kiss me and throw up. Nothing you say is true.
We lock lips to be still. Ours is a shattered lust. I am sick in love. Out of love. The fragment of my face, your face. Tighten hand, the hip, the bare back. A strap. Feet smear to fingers. And a lost child. Yes, there was once a child. On a bed, your blue heels. Death is a choke, Daisy.
Leave Los Angeles. Leave earth-desert lost. A face made of light.
I am open, freezing hope.
1. I am in the shed singing, “Eternal Weekend.” It is nineteen ninety six or thereabouts. I have a jacket that reads, “Steve,” in cursive across the left breast, but that is not my true name. I am creek walking, staring white water and hot pink. I hear: sing of spring. Sounds wrap rust-wire around knuckles. Spread fingers. Let the blood streak dry on your leg. We are not finished. Friends come by and smear their names on the shed door. This is harmony forever.
2. We are on spring break. There are no bikinis here, no alcohol, no motels or gold teeth. There is water. We bike down to the mill and crash against the “Stop” sign to see how far our bodies can fly before they are stopped by water. I touch the water’s edge in a canoe made of bottoms. The Real blinds me.
3. Saint Maximos the Confessor writes, “In the beginning, passion and pain were not created together with the body; nor forgetfulness and ignorance together with the soul; nor the ever-changing impressions in the shape of events with the mind. All these things were brought about in man by his disobedience.” And we, in the shed, are disobedient. Our “Eternal Weekend” is a fleeing. It is the joy of the Now stretched to the horizon of “fun.” It was a girl-less summer, those days of stopping water.
4. [Girls], Nick Cave sings, “who dance at the water’s edge shaking their asses” like #springbreakforever or Spring Breakers who grind religion on a beach in Florida. Some are not clothed. This is not Disney. She wears a pink ski mask. I wonder if Cave’s girls wear bikinis, rob fast food joints and stitch unicorns to their brows. “All of you young girls where do you hide?” Shut the door. I’m in the shed being electrocuted by an Ampeg. Passion and pain course through my body like waves of heat.
5. “White strings flowing from their ears (Cave)” is the electric delirium of how the eternal manifests in the manipulation of sound. Too much dust in the air. I am thinking “breaker” in the electrical sense and pounding the joy of spring with the mantra, “I am no more workhorse.” It becomes the anthem of this blossoming. And can there be harmony in noise? Eric Hoffer promises that, “Modern man is weighed down more by the burden of responsibility than by the burden of sin.” Could Maximos have anticipated “modern man?”
6. Rubbing the dark undertones of spring. For those who don masks to create or be redeemed. Kenneth Burke said something along the lines of,
“no construction without destruction.”How would Hoffer suggest us in the direction of a responsible destruction via Maximos’ orthodoxy? There is a scene in Gummo where friends wrestle furniture to the ground in the kitchen. We build a bike ramp to jump. Trash Humpers affix themselves to Nashville as if the world were a gigantic toy. Cave sings, “It’s the thrill of love.” Spring break.
7. Perhaps it is the thrill of love that resonates in the shed on the day of our rehearsal. We play teen noise not to break eardrums, but to grow new strings from dead ears. I think the eternal is a tone, unchanging and ever present. I think the harmony of the present is a break from the doldrums of habit, a cleansing of the world-temple. Our water is hot pink and a fever of bodies rubbing is not a burden, it’s a joy to behold for the girls and boys of spring break. If the language of water is a cleansing, then I will wait there by the edge forever in the light of revelation until it comes to me like a face or a tremor in the dark, dark, dark wound of spring.