Last night I reached the climax of the novel, A Field Guide to Fauns. I pulled the scene off in a way that made me cry and feel like a part of my soul had been pulled out through my nose. But a critical question remains to be answered. Does it matter to the reader as much as it does to me?
The climax occurs after a group of four characters participate in a Chicken Dance, and the critical conflict is resolved by talking about the past.
Probably not the most cinematic approach I could have used.
But this is not a cinematic story. It is introspective. It grapples with chronic child abuse and suicidal depression. It deals with recovery from a seriously traumatic event. And it is set in a nudist park featuring characters who are trying to rebuild families after divorce.
Can I leave it like it currently is? Knowing me, I probably will. It is an essential sort of story that I need to write because of who I am, who I was before, and where I am trying to be. I don’t write for anybody else but me. But I do hope others will read it. I will, in fact, continue to coerce family members and friends who are not sick of my story-telling (if such rare creatures still exist) to read it and make faces afterwards. And I firmly believe it is well-written, but it is a well-written, introspective and highly metaphorical novel. How many people do I know, after all, that read and enjoy Marcel Proust or William Faulkner or Saul Bellow? (I myself have only read multiple books from two of those three, and that because I can’t read French to get the book in its original language),
Last night I watched what I thought was a marvelous movie on Disney Plus. And the truth is, the gut-punching climax of that movie happens when the main character is reviewing his to-do list while sitting on a rock. So, it is not only me who sometimes soft-peddles the critical steps in a story plot.
In truth, then, the next critical step for me will be to finish the falling action of the novel, carefully re-read and edit the manuscript, and then publish it. The novel will be done soon.
There was a rollerskating rink in the little town of Lake Cornelia in Iowa from the 1940’s until the 1980’s. The first time I went there as a ten-year-old learning to roller-skate for the very first time, I spent the entire time cleaning the dusty floor with the knees and seat of my pants. My parents could both skate with fantastic ease. Dad could even skate backwards. During the couples’ skate, when they turned the lights down and turned on the blinking colored lights, they didn’t merely skate, they danced in circles around the rink.
But I wanted desperately to skate like that. We went numerous times to that same rink that Summer of 1967. The second time I went there I had spent a couple of nights dreaming of myself successfully skating. And practicing in my dreams apparently worked. I could skate the complete oval of the rink, and I only fell down three times the entire couple of hours we were there. We went to the A&W drive-in for root beers to celebrate afterwards.
We kept skating and I kept improving. In 1969 the song “Sugar, Sugar” was a number one hit. It played at least five times a trip to the skating rink, often during the couples’ skate. That Cornelia skating rink was the place where I skated hand in hand with a girl during the couples’ skate for the very first time. To that song, of course.
That rink was also the site of my worst embarrassment in junior high school. I fell because of a dreaded gum-wad on the floor and split the inseam of my pants from the crotch all the way down the right leg. When I got up, the girl I had a crush on and three of her female friends got a good look at my fruit-of-the-looms. Strangely, nobody made fun of me for it afterwards. The rink manager came up with enough safety pins to hold my pants together for the remaining hour of skate time. Embarrassed within an inch of my life being over, I was still not going to miss out on skating-time,
I hadn’t thought about skating in long time. I am not able to do it anymore with arthritis in my knees and feet. But this old colored-pencil drawing of a girl I once adored on roller skates brought the memory of it back again. It is a permanent part of who I am. A core memory. A foundation-stone in the edifice of Mickey-ness.
And a picture I have made with the story that goes along with it is what a Paffooney is. If you want to see more examples of Paffoonies I have created, you can do a Google picture-search of “Beyer Paffooney” and you will see a lot of them, mostly linked directly back to this blog. It is word I invented that nobody else is using (as far as I know), and so, it functions as a sort of magic word for my silly little blog.
Time is probably running out for me. I am too susceptible to this pandemic, and I am living in a Red State where they didn’t take social distancing seriously until Tuesday of this week.
But I have been living one day at a time for six years now. I have already lived longer and written more novels than I ever expected to since the beginning of my health crisis in the year 2000.
Still, I am now adding almost a thousand words a day to one novel or another. With A Field Guide to Fauns, I am currently on page 100 and at about 28,000 words of a planned 35,000. I reached crisis point one of three planned for the plot.
I have to admit that several surprises have added themselves to this story. When a novel comes to life like this one has, it often surprises you with directions you never expected it to take. Hence the family trip to Fiesta Texas and Mandy’s inexplicable love of Selena and dancing the Cumbia.
Just a reminder, if you haven’t been following my sporadic narration of the writing of this novel, the Field Guide is set primarily in a nudist park in Texas, and it is about a boy who is forced to become a nudist, and at the same time confronting the naked truth about himself. This novel will be done before the quarantine is over. Hopefully also before I get sick and die.
I will be ready to take up The Wizard in His Keep soon after it is done.
Plus, I have been working hard on the rewrite of AeroQuest 3 : Juggling Planets.
Juggling Planets now stands at about 20,000 words and 82 pages.
I will try to finish both that and AeroQuest 4 : The Amazing Aero Brothers before I breathe my last. (Though possibly not writing my last. Remember, I plan on getting a job as a ghost writer after I am dead.)
If I have time after all that, I have an idea ready to go for Kingdoms Under the Earth, my graphic novel, Hidden Kingdom, and a rewrite of my ghost story, Monstro.
I am doing my best to write as much as I can before the end.
Amazingly, I am still not dead. Even though this invisible virus-monster is totally new to our species and we have zero resistance and no vaccination for it, I am in a position now that, with a lot of hard work and even more good luck, I can continue to survive and stay alive.
Of course, there are evil people out there that would love it if those inconvenient poor people would just die out (people like me who spent their lives doing useless stuff like educating the next couple of generations to be people who can read and write by being a teacher). Poor people cost rich people money.
One wealthy governor has kept his State full of beaches (that benefit economically from things like Spring Break and Easter weekend) fully open for business, thus infecting scores of people that go back to home States like Texas (where I live) to spread potential death to people whose cheap-o health insurance (like mine) won’t pay to save your life because that would cut into profits.
One wealthy President has down-played the seriousness of this pandemic up until now. He has been more concerned with suppressing knowledge of how bad it is going to be (because that could sour people in his base from re-electing him in November) rather than preparing in a way that would allow healthcare workers to adequately protect themselves as they treat waves of the infected and dying, and providing more respirators to save those whose infections are suffocating them (which he simply cannot do without limiting corporate profiteering by his super-rich CEO-type buddies).
Maybe those of us who survive this pandemic should see to it that the rich, evil dudes who made this so much harder to survive lose power and profits, and maybe even go to jail for a change.
Canto 84 – The Lords of the Jungle (the Green Thread)
King Killer returned to consciousness in the midst of an elaborately built tree house. His right arm and shoulder were burning with excruciating pain. His vision was somewhat blurry, but he could make out two smiling faces looking at him, neither of which was familiar in any way. The boy was nearly nude, wearing only some kind of fur loin-cover that really wouldn’t have covered anything if he had had anything to cover. His red hair was wild and uncut, something like a lion’s mane with tangles. The woman was dressed in an expensive leather suit, the kind nobles often wore in order to tour the more dangerous parts of resort planets. She was a beauty with large red lips and liquid brown eyes. Her hair was well kept and perfectly arranged in this steamy jungle.
“Who… are you?” King finally spit out.
“I am the former movie star known as Wicked Wanda,” said the woman. “You may have seen me in the holo-epic AllSpaceways Lead to Galtorr, or the romantic comedy The Corsair’s Wife.”
“That’s okay. I know my fame and talent haven’t reached all the way to the frontier, yet.”
King looked around. Hooey and Willie Culver were sitting a short distance away, talking to a man in a black robe with a hood over his head. He wanted to get up and go over there so he could kick Hooey in the head for doing this to him.
“What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get up from here?”
“You have a terrible infection in the wound from the creature’s carnivorous mouth. I’m a pretty good medic as well as a holo-epic star, so I’ve been trying to treat it without antibiotics.”
King looked at the boy. “I guess I owe you my life,” he said soberly. “Thank you.”
“Me Randy,” said the Jungle Boy, pounding his chest with one fist.
“That’s all he can say,” said Wanda. “He was apparently the only one to survive from his crashed spaceship, and the monkey people of this planet raised him.”
“The Lemurians. They live on several jungle planets, or the jungle parts of medium life-belt planets. They have a whole city here in the trees. They built this place. If Admiral Tang knew they were here and rescuing some of the people he maroons here, he’d probably throw a mechanoid fit.”
“Yes, I owe them too. I have to survive this place to get revenge on Tang.”
Wicked Wanda smiled a sinister smile. “Revenge is not a good enough motivation for most people, but I can tell it fits you perfectly.”
“Yeah, I’m a dangerous man.”
“Sure you are.”
“How smart are these Lemurians?”
“Oh, they are very clever. They can’t talk though, unless Oook means something in monkey-talk.”
“You can’t communicate with them?”
“Oh, we can. Slythinus over there can use some kind of telepathy on them.” She pointed at the man in the robe.
“Slythinus? As in Emperor Slythinus?”
“Yeah, that’s him. Mr. Golly Bigdeal is a prisoner here just like the rest of us.”
“How? I mean, he’s still the Emperor, isn’t he?”
“Not really any more…” Wanda looked at him sadly. “There was a coup by some guy called Prince Ali. Slythinus was left here to die while other people took over his empire. I understand the Imperium belongs mostly to Mechanoids and Galtorr-Human Fusions now. That’s how I got here, taking pity on a human leader that had fallen out of favor with his planet. You may have heard of him. You know, Duke Ferrari of the Coventry Sector?”
“I’ve heard the name. Don’t know much about the man, other than the fact that we freed him from a dungeon on the planet White Palm. I guess that’s how Tron’s Pinwheel Corsairs got our behinds handed to us in a basket, payment from the Imperium for freeing the Duke.”
“He’s free? Oh! I love you for that!” Wanda leaned in and planted a big, passionate kiss on King. He was instantly surprised and embarrassed.
“Well, well, well,” said Dr. Hooey. “I see you’ve met your future wife already.”
“I swear, Hooey, I will kill you one day.”
“Oh, no you won’t. I’ve read the proof in one of King Ryan Beowulf’s books about the future.”
“The future?” Wanda was puzzled.
“Oh, yes,” said King sarcastically. “Dr. Hooey here is a Time Knight, and destined to get us all off this planet.”
“Really?” said Wanda, obviously contemplating another thank-you kiss. King found that he hated that idea. “How will we get off?” she asked.
“There’s a certain device hidden in the ruins,” said Hooey.
“What ruins?” asked the robed man, walking up to King also. “I know of none.”
As Slythinus approached, King could see that his Galtorrian lizard eyes were gone. The former Emperor was now blind. “Your monkey friends know,” said Hooey. “Although, I have to wonder why they’ve kept the knowledge from you. It is the way they have gotten from planet to planet, you know.”
Things are not what they seem. Life throws curve balls across the plate ninety percent of the time. Fastballs are rare. And fastballs you can hit are even rarer. But if Life is pitching, who is the batter? Does it change the metaphor and who you are rooting for if the batter is Death?
If you think this means that I am planning on dying because of the Coronavirus pandemic, well, you would be right. Of course, I am always planning for death with every dark thing that bounces down the hopscotch squares of the immediate future. That’s what it means to be a pessimist. No matter what bad thing we are talking about, it will not take ME by surprise. And if I think everything is going to kill me, sooner or later I have to be right… though, hopefully, much later.
I keep seeing things that aren’t there. Childlike faces keep looking at me from the top of the stairs, but when I focus my attention there, they disappear. And I know there are no children in the house anymore since my youngest is now legally an adult. And the chimpanzee that peeked at me from behind the couch in the family room was definitely not there. I swear, it looked exactly like Roddy McDowell from the Planet of the Apes movies, whom I know for a fact to be deceased. So, obviously, it has to be Roddy McDowell’s monkey-ghost. I believe I may have mentioned before that there is a ghost dog in our house. I often catch glimpses of its tail rounding the corner ahead of me when my own dog is definitely behind me. And I am sure I shared the facts before that Parkinson’s sufferers often see partial visions of people and faces (and apparently dogs) that aren’t really there, and that my father suffers from Parkinson’s Disease. So, obviously it is my father and not me that is seeing these things… He’s just using my eyeballs to do it with.
But… and this is absolutely true even if it starts with a butt… the best way to deal with scary possibilities is to laugh at them. Jokes, satire, mockery, and ludicrous hilarity expressed in big words are the proper things to use against the fearful things you cannot change. So, this essay is nothing but a can of mixed nutz. Nutzy nuts. And fortunately, peanut allergies are one incurable and possibly fatal disease I don’t have. One of the few.
This is the updated version of my cover for the novel I am writing. Can you tell? The change is a small one. I have now passed 25,000 words and I’m still chugging along full steam. It is like the story is writing itself. That is usually a good sign. But I reserve the right to be monumentally wrong and fatally stupid. Writing this novel could be a mistake. I never wrote a story with this many naked people in it. And it is not erotica nor pornography. It is about nudists, not sex fiends Like the novel The Baby Werewolf, it talks frankly about nudity and mentions sexuality, but there are no sex scenes in the story. Will readers get the difference? I don’t really know… because I’m stupid sometimes.
But I am thinking way overmuch about the Coronavirus too. Like everybody else sequestered in their homes, manacled by worry, and absorbed in Netflix and Disney Plus.
I am definitely watching too much of the news broadcasts from basements and family rooms as even newscasters, Stephen Colbert, and Jimmy Kimmel are staying at home and social distancing.
It has led me to believe that critical things will happen because of what stupid people will do next. Mardi Gras and Spring Break partiers who refused to listen to recommendations from responsible officials are all bringing viral infections back home to infect their loved ones, and their grand parents whom they must no longer love. The Governor of Florida is refusing to lock down his state, and the Lieutenant Governor of Texas is recommending we open up the economy and let old people like me sacrifice their lives so the stock market goes back up.
The solution will be simple too. Stupid and racist people voted Trump into office. He will get them all into churches for Easter. They will all infect each other, and most of them will die. Trump will not get re-elected because stupidity killed his voting base.
But what do I know? I am sometimes very stupid too.