Today’s Twisted Short Story

janus

JANUS 

by R. Saint Claire

I’m not what anyone would call a sensitive guy as the many girls who’ve slapped my face have told me (in so many words); But if I had known when I woke up this morning that by the end of the day I’d be fleeing for my life through a blizzard I’d have broken down and cried like I’m doing right now. At nineteen I’m too young to die. I have a life to live, many women to conquer, and I’d like to graduate and tell my Dad that I’m sorry my senior year in high school was such a shit-show. I know he’s still really pissed about that.

The flakes are huge, but I can still make out that farmhouse with the green siding up ahead. I hope the snow will cover up what I’m leaving behind me: deep footprints with a trail of blood between each one.

Continue reading “Today’s Twisted Short Story”

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I wrote a novel. Now what?

It’s finished! It’s done! It’s on Amazon! Hurrah! Open the champagne! Does all that red wine I drank while I was writing it count?

There is no celebration. I don’t throw a party, and no one surprises me with one. Cue violins…

After much, much work, the damn thing is done. I finally hold the printed copy in my hand. There is a feeling of accomplishment, but also terror. I open it to a random page and notice that one sentence is missing a the. Even though I’ve been over it with a fine-tooth comb about twenty times, I’m sure there are more embarrassing errors. But then I’ve found similar ones in every Donna Tartt novel I’ve read. That thought comforts me, a little.

I send a copy to my mother. I warn her about the explicit content. She says she’s curious to see what’s really going on inside my mind. A few days later she says it’s a good idea I used a pen name. I shyly drop a copy off at my local bookstore. I meet a writer who tells me all about her book. I listen politely and forget all about mine. I run into a neighbor who tells me another neighbor has also written a book. It seems I’m surrounded by writers. You need to push yourself my husband tells me as we walk away. I’m quiet for the rest of the stroll, thinking about this friend of a friend who sent me a copy of his book to read and how I ended up blocking him because he became so aggressively persistent. Nothing is more annoying than the ABC (Always Be Closing) personality. To me, anyway. Perhaps that’s part of my resistance. Continue reading “I wrote a novel. Now what?”

Rosemary’s Baby

rosemarysbaby
Satan’s coming!

Beware the chalky undertaste…

Continuing  with my Gothic Literature Reading Challenge (no particular order) I reread Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, chowing it down in a few days. I enjoyed my Franklin Press leather bound edition (trying to collect all of the Gothic volumes). Good lit deserves quality bindings.

This is one of those books I wish I could go back in time and read cold, although it’s a testament to Levin’s great skill that a story I know every nuance of can still keep me turning pages till dawn.

In his 1981 book on horror, Danse Macabre, Stephen King praises Levin as a one of the great plotters. He is the Swiss watchmaker of the suspense novel.  And it’s true. Every revelation is supported by the hidden, and often overt, character motivations. Guy, an inspiring actor played to sleazy brilliance by John Cassavetes in the film, admits he’s a great bullshit artist and liar (brags about it in fact) on the first few pages of the book as the newlyweds try to get out of their lease so they can move into the Bramford, a fictitious Gothic apartment house along Central Park. Can’t say he didn’t warn you. Minnie Castevet, the nosy neighbor, says as much about herself when she declares I’m selfish as the day is long. She ain’t lying. You can’t trust anyone of these damn witches. Poor, naive Rosemary, carrying a time bomb in her belly during the hottest summer in New York history (a metaphor for Hell I assume) realizes this all too late. Continue reading “Rosemary’s Baby”

The Red Tower

theredtower

In the Red Tower
The planes mature
To a dance that beats
Red sausage links and iron ore.

In the Red Tower
Flames shoot from the stack, 
Fire white hot at the top, 
Black in the cracks.

In the Red Tower
A dragon wails
A song so sad, such simple pain that none
(Maybe just the sea urchins) Understand.

The madder-heart,
With each bump it bleeds,
Runs into the ancient stones, and
Dies in agony, slowly and alone. 
Forked tongued forgiveness 
Wanting only for a friend,
A pat, a snuggle,
An “I understand.”

The black smoke bleeds
From the Red Tower—
Righteous respite,
But only for the gods.
Earth shifting,listing,
Leaning to the left, 
As crows swarm on the edge then dive 
Into the black.

What time to make the stones and legends dance!

Fiction

Father Angelo (from Quiet Tales of Ordinary Evil) by R. Saint Claire Scarcely had the church bell rung three times when the street was thronged with students scattering every which way across the d…

Source: Fiction

The Castle of Otranto

fuselinightmare

Faint of heart…

Continuing with my Gothic Literature Reading Challenge 2017, I head for the granddaddy of Gothic literature The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (try to say it fast).  After reading some of the Goodreads reviews, I expected this to be a real chore, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this (gratefully) brief, at times silly tale. It helped that I found this beautiful Easton Press leather bound copy in my personal library. The moiré endpaper, satin book mark, color plates, and gold embossed leather cover enhanced my reading experience of this classic. Continue reading “The Castle of Otranto”

Dracula Sonnet

nosferatu

Peasants fear the mention of his name,
Grown men tremble at the setting sun,
O’er the Carpathian mountain range
Along the forest where wild wolves run.
An elegant Count who charms everyone,
Whose soul’s as foul as dirt where he lays,
Garlic and mirrored reflections he shuns,
Symbols of Christ, the sun’s golden rays.
For centuries past he’s spent his dark days
Inside a casket, a hideous tomb.  
Pitiful lady, in blood she will pay.
There at the window! Now inside her room!
The Beast is within. He comes to her bed.
Behold the Dragon! ‘Tis he, the Undead!

 

 

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Victorian Brain Fever

As part of my personal Gothic literature reading challenge, I start with Dracula by Bram Stoker. Here’s a book that I pretended to read in the past (I’d started it several times) but in truth I’d only seen the movies from Murnau’s silent Nosferatu to Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula , which I re-watched last night and highly recommend as a companion piece to the reading challenge (if you care to join me). The film, which I’ve seen a few times, is visually stunning, and is faithful to the book with one major difference. The central theme of the film is the relationship between the Count and Mina Hawker, a woman for whom he crossed centuries of time. Alas, there is no such romance in the book unless you read between the lines (Mina does swallow his blood). The novel’s Mina character is the model for unstained Victorian womanhood (yawn) and cheating on poor Jonathan Hawker with the Count just won’t cut it. One reason I think I struggled with the book , versus reading Frankenstein which is my favorite novel, is that it’s episodic without being very insightful. There are certainly moments that chilled me to the bone–one that comes to mind is Lucy coming back as undead and smuggling a child back to her crypt; another is the dead captain tied to the wheel of the ship that brings the count to London along with his boxes filled with the profane, foul-smelling earth in which he must sleep each day.

There are also comical touches (like Lucy dropping that kid) that both the book and Coppola’s film explore, particularly in Van Hesling’s character (Anthony Hopkins is a hoot) as he casually mentions cutting off dear Lucy’s head and stuffing her mouth with garlic. The novel is told in an epistolary format using letters, diary entries, ship’s logs, clippings, and recordings from early cylinder phonographs. Written in 1897, the book explores these modern inventions of bustling London juxtaposing it with the old world superstitions and dangerous landscape of Transylvania. There is a lot of information about the source material for the novel. Whether Vlad the Impaler was Stoker’s inspiration is up for debate (but I’d like to think so).

vladdracula

Continue reading “Dracula by Bram Stoker”

New Poem

From Remembering the Dead, a new book of poems by R. Saint Claire

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The Old Thundercloud
Comes like black dread
Chasing angels into other worlds.
Where? They never said.
Its lightning companion does his dance,
The crackled dance.
A sad display really.
The old clown a show-off-
Oh! Bring the angels back—
Scattering all, even the brave,
A black anvil and light show dance.
Till the young ones, plagued and bent
Say “No, No!"
Throw their sticky bodies on the ground
And weep stern, boisterous
Showers of amethysts.

 

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