Tag Archives: horror

Parking Lot Nightmares

Sadie

Sometimes life is more like a car accident than a well-planned story.  You have to scrabble for themes and meaning as you undo your seatbelt to get out of the burning car before it explodes.  It was like that last night in the high school parking lot.

Princess

You see, the Princess had a U.I.L. academic competition last night.  In Texas we compete in nerd olympics so we can pretend that our kids actually learn things in school.  The Princess was a part of the science team, taking a test in competition with the nerds from the other district middle schools.  Well, she lost.  Personally, team-wise, and school-wise, the Long Middle School Falcons were shut out of the top three places.  Yes, that sucks, but she did get to compete, an honor already.  As much as this society pooh-poohs participation ribbons and feeling good about less-than-winning, sometimes they do represent real effort and real value.  It is the kind of gut-twist you put up with every year, with every competition.  Not everybody can win, and non-winners don’t deserve punishment.

But the excitement last night was not about that.  What was it about?  I don’t still completely know.

I went at 9:00 p.m. to pick her up from the Newman Smith High School competition site after her team was thoroughly beaten.  I hate high school parking lots.  You have to put up with other parents and their Texas driving skills.  We call it “driving friendly” in Texas.  It means pushing to the front of the line, cutting people off, bluffing your way through with the threat of violent collision.  In truth, if most of those parents in the parking lot had to take the driving test today, they not only wouldn’t have a license, they would be in jail to prevent vehicular manslaughter.  So, when I saw the multiple police cars at the high school, I merely assumed that some of the parents of UIL contestants had been “driving friendly” a little too hard.

Well, I pulled up behind the buses and got an ominous text.

“We are in lock-down.  Something happened.  Are you in the parking lot?”

“Yes.”

“My teacher says to stay in your car and keep the doors locked.  Wait until I tell you that we have been cleared.  The police are here.”

Well, that was tense.  Twenty minutes of sitting in the car not knowing what was going on… not knowing how to find out.  Finally I get another text.

“You have to pick me up back at Long.  They are taking us out to the bus at the back of the school.”

So, I drove the ten blocks to Long Middle School and waited in the parking lot there.  Far fewer parents in cars to run into, so it had its plusses.

Finally the bus arrived.  My daughter had to sign the teacher’s roll call of students before she would be released for me to take her home.  It was already 10:30.

“We’re sorry for this,” one of the teachers told me.

“The principal will probably call you tomorrow and explain what happened,” said another teacher.  Personally, I didn’t really care what happened.  She was safe, and that was what mattered.

“I don’t know what happened, Dad,” the Princess said, “but the police were looking for a man with an AK47.  At least, I think that’s what they told me.”

Ah, Texas.  The right to bear arms truly makes us rest at ease.  Except, I do not want to have the arms of a bear.

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Filed under gun control, horror writing, humor, Paffooney

Double The Trouble (Juggling Girlfriends – Part Two)

Disclaimer;  Believe me, I know how dangerous telling a story like this is when the parties being talked about have the potential to turn into Glenn Close Fatal Attraction level stalkers, but the fact is, I have changed the names and fictionalized just enough that they might not even recognize themselves, and they never really liked me that much any way.  Thirty years later they will have forgotten all about me, and my paranoia about it is merely the symptom of old age and looming insanity.  (At least, I pray that it is so.)

Superchicken at the Beach xx

As I got to know Ysandra better, I learned that some women are particularly self-absorbed and even downright mean.  She was a pleasant enough person to talk to, and I had been attracted to her dedication to education as a no-nonsense sort of teacher’s aide.  But she had a dark side.  She believed that she was more or less the center of the known universe, and we, who had the privilege of orbiting about her, owed her what her little black heart desired.  She liked to go places and do things that cost plenty of money.  She liked me to pay for it.  And this I gladly did even though a teacher’s salary was not exactly lucrative in the 80’s.  We went to Austin together quite a bit.  My parents lived in a suburb of Austin at the time, and she had a sister in the city with whom she could stay.  We went and saw The Phantom of the Opera when it came to the Frank Erwin Center.   I don’t regret spending the time and money with her, broadening my social horizons and learning how to live larger than I ever did as a lowly country boy from an Iowa farm town.  But there were surprises too.

Ysandra’s sister and husband lived in a rather unique apartment complex.  It was a fortress-like five-story affair on Manor Road with a gate where you had to speak through a sliding panel and give the name of the resident who invited you to enter.  The reason it was so secure was because it was an entirely clothing optional establishment.  They were nudists!  And I was still a sexually repressed little prude dealing with my secret issues of shame.  Ysandra had all kinds of yucks and giggles at my expense whenever I had to drop her off or pick her up there.  She was not dealing with issues, and didn’t mind naked people… or even being naked in public herself.  I turned bright shades of red-violet in the presence of young women not wearing any pants.  Thank goodness my parents lived fairly close, and I didn’t have to stay there too.

After the first time we visited Austin like that I was forced to explain to her about my secret problem.  She was slightly sympathetic to my discomfort, but firmly believed that what was good for her was good for everybody, and insisted the way to overcome fear was to confront it.  She put me on a path of accepting the inevitability of becoming a nudist myself.  It was supposed to be the cure for me, and she intended to enforce it.

Now, this is supposedly a story of two girlfriends at the same time, and Ysandra was fully aware of Abby, the Reading teacher.  She accepted that Abby lived next door and was a rookie teacher who needed guidance.  She felt about her about what you would expect an alley cat to feel about another alley cat that was eyeing the same canary in a cage.  Ysandra spread all kinds of nasty rumors about Abby in her Spanish-speaking gossip circles, and those came back to bite me a couple of times when I may have been the source of the vicious half-truth.  (In my defense, it didn’t seem like a vicious detail when I told Ysandra about it.  The devil was in the presentation.)  I had to learn to keep the relationships separate.

And keeping things separate was hard because Abby had very little in the way of self control.  I could not tell her about the secret that neutered me because it would almost instantly slip and become public knowledge.  She enjoyed life in a very sensual way.  She wore the shortest of shorts, the tightest of dresses (even in school), and she wore her considerable bosoms like a pair of headlights, lighting up everything male with testosterone in it ahead of her.  She was almost child-like in her feigned innocence.

I told her from the very beginning that Ysandra was my girlfriend to try to curb her enthusiasm a little.  It didn’t work.  She apparently respected Ysandra, and feared her slightly.  But that wasn’t enough to keep her from visiting me late at night, watching my TV and eating my food and making plan to go places with me without regard for how all these things might look to the First Baptist Church Ladies whose fundamentalist Christian values might get us both stoned to death. And I was too intimidated by my own reactions to her to tell her stop and leave me alone.

So, I will leave this perfidious narration here for the time being and save the story of the fatal strip poker game for the next post in the series.  And I must say, I did actually turn red with embarrassment writing this post, so that next one will probably make my head explode and be the end of me.

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Filed under autobiography, horror writing, humor, Paffooney, Uncategorized

More Books to Make You Crazy

I have now written several goofy book reviews in which I explain some of the goofy books I have read that I blame for my current state of crazily unbalanced intellectualism.  If you decide you would like to be as goofy and crazy as me, for some totally inexplicable reason, you can read some of these oddball choices.

34504Michael Beyer‘s review

Sep 13, 15  
Read in September, 2015

 

Terry Pratchett wrote books of magical power and satirical alchemical wit, but not a single one of them tops Wyrd Sisters. I believe this is the best book he ever wrote from a collection of several of the best books ever written. The three witches, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick call up visions of the witches in MacBeth. But no Shakespearian special effect ever captured the searing ridicule of kings and kingly aspirations as this book about king-making, or king un-making, or witchly interference with the best laid plans of mice and would-be kings. Granny Weatherwax is a witch you never want to meet in real life, but this book portrays the practical-minded old witch so talented at headology with such clarity, that you realize that you have indeed met her in real life… probably more than once. And the book has as unlikely a plot as ever underwent loop-the-loops and barrel rolls in its flight through a book. I have now smeared loopy gushings of hyperbole and weird wordy praises all over this book, and hopefully you will take time out from feeling nauseous long enough to give it a look.
I am also guilty of having a great love for non-fiction books and learning.  So here is a singularly weird choice to obsess about.

Michael Beyer‘s review

Sep 13, 15  
461434by Dennis Craig Smith
Read in September, 2015

 

Back in the 1980’s, I had a girlfriend whose sister lived in a clothing-optional apartment complex in Austin, Texas. Visiting there was an exercise in absolute embarrassment and near apoplexy. But it made me curious as well. There were children as well as adults there. Family-oriented nudity? I needed to know more. So, on advice from friends I located a naturist society based in Florida and corresponded with them. I bought a copy of this book from them. It contains a fascinating study, told mostly through collections of anecdotal data, of the effects, and possible effects of living parts of your life completely naked. And the effects it could have on kids. Having grown up with considerable burdens of shame and trepidation about being seen naked, this book helped me to understand that being naked is not necessarily the bad thing I thought it was. I confess to becoming a closet nudist… er, if never letting anyone else see you naked qualifies as being a nudist. And I have met, over time, wonderful people who are totally nutty about being nude. I will never become one of them. But this book helped me to at least understand them better.
I basically got the notion that books make you insane from the next author, a favorite of mine for reasons I can’t begin to explain.

Michael Beyer‘s review

Sep 13, 15
Read in September, 2015

 

H.P. Lovecraft gives me real nightmares because he is such a master of the arcane arts of creating unease and worry. I have never read another author’s work where the atmosphere of the story leaks toxic chemicals of fear and loathing into your brain quite the way this story does. As you experience the rotting, festering, tainted town of Innsmouth through the eyes of the narrator, your entire being is slowly sauteed in a stew of creepy details, unsettling characters, and an architecture of decay. It is decay of both the actual seaport town, and the mouldering culture of a humanity that long ago yielded to the temptation of ultimate corruption. Frog people from the ocean’s depths could easily be humorous or simply bizarre. But Lovecraft’s slow, relentless reveal makes the unwinding plot absolutely horrifying. If you like a good scare, this book may be too much for you. If you love a bad scare that makes your very skeleton shiver, then this is the perfect book.
All of this book-review nonsense can be found on Goodreads, a critical website for readers and writers, and I have peppered this post with enough links to it that you probably can’t avoid accidentally ending up there.

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Tornado Dreaming

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This post won’t be funny.  So if you come seeking humor, be warned, every writer has a dark side, and this is about mine.

I have learned the hard way that there is a very special power to be gained from the Dreamlands.  But it is a dark and ominous power.  When H.P. Lovecraft wrote his nightmare horror stories about the Cthulhu Mythos and journeys in the Dreamlands seeking Unknown Kadath and other forbidden horrors, he may have been writing from real experience.  While dreams are couched in metaphor and must be interpreted, they also touch the physical contours of our reality.  And not just a light touch, either.  Dreams can be made of concrete and stone.  Further, I believe the dreaming mind is no longer bound by perceptual tricks we identify as “present time” in our waking lives.  The existence of every man is eternal.  Existence is beyond the control of the relative dimension in space we know as “time”.  In dreams you can actually reach out and touch both the distant past and the future.  Does this mean  I think I can foretell the future?  Of course not.  Are you daft?  If I could I would be a millionaire and far removed from health problems and dark depressions that define my inner, darker self.

But dreams shape and define my actual day-to-day existence, and not always for the better.

1966 was the year I turned ten, and the year the skies of my dreams turned dark.  My best friend at the time lived next door.  My best friend had an older brother who was five years older than me.  One day that older brother trapped me behind a pile of tractor tires in the neighbors’ back yard.  He pulled off my pants and my underpants.  He wasn’t gentle.  He twisted my most sensitive parts and forbid me to scream by threatening worse torture.  He introduced me to pain I never knew could exist before that day.  He forced me to endure torture for his personal pleasure.  He told me the incident was my own fault and he made me believe it.  I lost a part of my soul that day, and I would not remember what had happened for another twelve years, two-and-a-half emotional breakdowns later that school counselors and parents could never explain.  I never told anybody about it for years.  I could not have even written this paragraph until the summer before last… when he died of a heart attack.  He had power over me until I was 56 years old.

1966 was also the year of the tornado in Belmond, Iowa.  Both of my parents worked in Belmond.  When we were in school that day, we were studying weather in science.  The topic of nimbus clouds and storms came up.  Mrs, Mennenga, our teacher, pointed out the north window of the 4th grade classroom and said a cumulonimbus cloud was just like the one we could all see in the sky over Belmond, ten miles to the north.  She said that was the kind of cloud from which tornadoes would form.  It was ironic that that was exactly what was happening.  I spent that night at Uncle Larry’s farm knowing that a tornado had devastated Belmond, and not knowing if my mother and father were alive or dead.  (My father’s business was leveled, but he made it to the basement just as the building exploded and only had a deep scalp laceration.  My mother was a nurse at the hospital, and she, along with the rest of the hospital were miraculously spared.  Only six people were killed in the devastation.)  Needless to say, I know where my tornado nightmares come from.

So what is the real meaning behind Tornado Dreaming?  I firmly believe nightmares auger something in real life.  Granted it may be past as well as future, but dreams can come true for good or ill.  While I was in college, I dreamed one of my childhood friends was riding in a pickup truck in the back, where no one should ever ride, but farm kids always do.  A black tornado dropped out of the sky and knocked him out of the pickup and split open his head.  Only a week later, in real life, that same friend fell out of the back of a pickup and nearly died.  I had a tornado dream at age twenty-two that preceded remembering the sexual assault by two days.  It all came back to me and floored me like being stepped on by the boot of horrendous Cthulhu.  As a sophomore in high school I had a tornado dream that found me running for shelter into a house I had only entered twice in my life.  It was the house of another of my friends, and everyone there, many of whom were people I didn’t know, were crying over the death of someone.  My friend was there.  His twin brothers and little sister were there.  A woman that I later learned was his aunt was there.  His mother was there too.  Who were they all weeping for?  The following Monday I found out that my friend’s stepfather had been killed on his motorcycle by a drunk driver the same night that I had the dream.  Dreams can warn what the future holds.  But you cannot do anything to change the outcome.  Any attempts I made to change anything may have done more to cause the event than prevent it.  So, I am left wondering if this “gift of prophecy” is not merely a curse.

I have a novel or two to write about this if God grants me enough time to write them.  I am burdened by the very insight I am sharing with you here.  Why am I even talking about it at all, you ask?  Especially when I warned you from the start this wouldn’t be funny and practically no one will actually read this far?  I must confess.  Friday night I had another tornado dream.  In the dream, I was in Grandpa Aldrich’s farmhouse, the place where my mother and father now live.  My mother and I looked out the south window on the back porch.  There, swirling in dark gray-green, was a funnel cloud dancing against an ominous electric-green sky.  We were only steps away from the door to the storm cellar.  But before we reached safety, the dream ended.  What is about to happen?  Will talking about it cause something to happen?  Is Cthulhu knocking at the door?  Only time will tell.

Leap of Faith

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Reading Assignments

Yesterday I revealed that I have no earthly clue how to be a best-selling author with a blog and a brand and all those other things that marketing racketeers keep pettifogging at me about.  I may not know anything about marketing and being an author, but I do know how to be a writer.  I have learned to say things flat out when they are on my mind and I know how to do the two essential things that a writer has to know how to do… I can practice writing every day, and I can read.

If you are one of those few who actually read my blog regularly, you may remember some talk about the classic novel, Tess of the D’Urbervilles.  Believe it or not, I know how to read and understand great books.  You can find me on  Goodreads.com to see some of the wonderful things I have been reading, and to decide if you might like them too.  If you are not on Goodreads already, why not?  That is now your next assignment, young reader.  Oops.   You know what they say, “Old English teachers never die, they just lose their class.”

Today’s little self-imposed book report is about a book that I read my senior year in high school, 1975.  It is called The Other by Thomas Tryon.  It is a book that was made into a movie.  The author is also a Hollywood actor that has been in many films.  He wrote the screenplay for the movie version.  But I have to tell you, the movie pales in comparison to the book itself.  Movies simply cannot give you the rich depth of atmosphere and the delicate psychological nuances that a book can.  Movies show you something.  A book can explain something in detail.  And that is a key difference.

downlotheroad

Michael Beyer‘s review

Dec 22, 14  ·  edit
Read in April, 1975
This is a fascinating book for it’s ornate description of long-ago New England life, and the eerie way old houses and long-gone people can twist and mangle our lives. It is a psychological horror story about twin boys, Niles and Holland Perry. They are polar opposites. Niles is warm and loving. But Holland is distant, cold, and sinister. Their grandmother Ada, a lovely old woman with deep Russian roots, has taught the boys to play an ESP-sort of game, reaching out with their minds to feel what a bird feels, or a squirrel, or a magician to find out how he did a certain disappearing trick. She has no idea that the mind-game will have such a devastating effect on both the twins and ruin so many peoples’ lives. I cannot say more without revealing the magic the author uses to bring this book to a totally unexpected and devastating conclusion. This book is not everyone’s cup of tea… and it may be many readers’ cup of arsenic… but it worked its spell on me. I recommend it if you wish to be chilled to the bone marrow.
Fools
I am reading this book now for the third time.  It is rare that I read a book more than once, because every time through changes your perception of it and risks making you dislike it.  But certain books are immune to that effect.  And I am re-reading it now because I want to closely analyze the techniques he used to create his surprise ending.  There-in lies the reason for this reading assignment that I have given myself.  That is how I roll as a writer.

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Filed under book review, NOVEL WRITING

The Sunshine of My Life

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Yes, I have a daughter.  She’s a lovely young girl, and far more like me than I’m willing to admit.  She used to like snakes and always laughs about farting and bathroom humor.  She beats up her older brothers, always has, and loves to draw unicorns, neo-pets, and warriors beheading bad guys in the bloodiest way possible.  I call her “the Princess” in my writing, and she is sometimes all-girl, and sometimes all-boy.  Love her, get disgusted with her, fray your last nerve, and still, she’s the apple of my eye, the gravy to my mashed potatoes, the something-good to my whatever fuzzy-warm metaphor you choose.  Stevie Wonder sings “Isn’t She Lovely?” in the background music of our lives.

So, what’s it all about, having a daughter?  Heck if I know.  I just know that when the nurse put her in my hands the first time, and she weighed so much for a newborn that jokes were made about her future as an NFL linebacker, and she peed all over everything, she captured my heart and I would forever after be her thrall.

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All three of my children like art and can draw well.  Of the three, my daughter is the one who best understands “cute”.  She is capable of drawing big-eyed critters that make you go “awww.”  She has a color sense that meshes seamlessly with my own, loving primary colors, especially Maxfield Parrish blue.  She understands my sense of humor (a feat of understanding more impressive than uncovering the secrets of nuclear physics).    She is made up of the best parts and worst parts of me as well as many of the good parts of her mother.  So, if I die tomorrow, or am changed into a small blue mushroom by an alien magician, she will be the one that carries on the torch of my creativity.  Let’s hope that doesn’t mean that she will use that torch to burn things down.

Do you have a daughter too?  If you do, I have great sympathy for you, but also great joy.  She is the sunshine of my life. 

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