Bury Me With My Keyboard

Move Over, Mr. King

I am nowadays in the midst of my own, real-life tale of terror. So why not write a fictional version, in the spirit of the season?

So for the past few days, I’ve tried my best to write through and beyond my minor experience of what seems real (role over Plato). I spent time — what’s time? time to what? time to live and then to die? (role over Cornell Woolrich) — at the keyboard composing a “scary story.”

I find it easy to feel frightened, but frightening others in print is a difficult task. When and where to begin the chill? Foreshadow this? Fold in that plot detail? Move a character over here, only to discover that he’s a stubborn man who insists on going there?

“All right, so you refuse to budge. Instead, you defy me, your king. Well, go ahead then, ride that line toward oblivion, because I’ll get you in the end. There’s no escape.”

Maybe all this thinking, all this second guessing, all these creases and corners into which I force myself, or he forces me; maybe all these things together join to ensure that every story I write is long. I cannot write short. So your guidelines say no more than 789 words? Well, do without my formidable talent then; you’ll be sorry someday. If you outlive me, that is. And these days I remain uncertain as to how long my life on Planet Earth is bound to bleed (yes, I know, none of us knows the moment of Death’s arrival, but I’m old and weak with disease).

So I just keep writing. I hope my tale will scare the shiver out of you, because the story underneath the tale — the one that breathes between the keyboard’s letters — sure is haunting me.

I thought to re-read some of the nightmare master’s stories; yes, Sir Stephen, the man who fails to recognize the meaning of the word “awhile” in every story he publishes. He misuses that word, and so where the hell are his editors? You mean to tell me that the members of his critique group have not yet pointed out to him the error of his ways? What’s that you say? Sir Stephen needs no editors, and critique groups are a waste of time in his opinion? He’d rather be strumming a sad guitar by the side of the road than meeting Robert Frost at the fork?

Okay, okay. Relax and read ahead.

On re-reading the master, I discovered that his stories aren’t scary; instead, they’re funny. Laughing out loud hilarious. Frogs attacking a town every seven years, an obvious theft of Daphne Du Maurier’s “The Birds,” but with Sir Stephen we laugh at the absurdity of toads consuming bloody human flesh, even as we cringe at the gore. Whereas with Daphne we are left spooked and lonesome.

I’m off soon for another meeting with writers more talented than I. I’ll feel glad for the diversion. But on my return my tale will await me to finish her off.

I pray to the master that he shall bless my effort with my spooky story. Yesterday, I reached the story’s climax, the most difficult scenes to compose. But the tale lies on its canvas, as the saying goes; and I am a painter, brush in hand, with darkness as my companion. Just you wait and see. You won’t laugh at me or at mine.

And I am ready for my beginning on November 01, 2010. I have my NaNoWriMo tee shirt, my NaNoWriMo coffee mug and pen at the ready. I’m writing fast and carelessly in preparation for the bad bad novel I will consume as it eats me. No flesh-hungry toads inside those pages.

See you on the battlefield of ill-repose. If I should die before that morning, then bury me with my keyboard.

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