The Eagles

I can remember hearing the the Eagles first lp for the first time. The fresh crisp sound of the guitars, the vocals the lyrics. An irresistible combination of the Byrds, CCR & rock. I payed that lp grey. Then along came Desperado – a brilliant concept album that worked. On the Border with its white cover. So you could say I was a fan. I also really liked Poco – another of those rock country bands that were influenced by Buffalo Springfield & the Byrds. It was the California sound that left the Beach Boys and the psychedelic sounds behind in its witchy dust. Beautifully engineered too. Plus Jackson Browne working with them. Good clean boozy boys.

But on the first lp was ‘Most of Us Are Sad’ – a banal slice of greeting card hokum that was an indicator of where the band was heading .When I got the mp3 set of these albums I cut out the songs I never wanted to hear again ‘Sad’ was one of them. I couldn’t understand how band could do such great stuff & include such tripe at the same time.  Sadly this middle-of-the-road took over their creative energy even though there are great tracks on  One of These Nights and Hotel California I found myself liking the band less and less. Too many sappy tracks that I was happy to discard forever when I compiled them into an Mp3 collection.

Hotel was the last lp I kept. I heard later material & what a yawn. On the mp3 set is some Jackson Browne (For Everyman; Running on Empty; Hold Out; Lawyers in Love) who they worked with frequently.

I also have the Very Best Of 2cd collection as a stand alone & it has enough of the later banal hit tracks to remind me of why I gave up on them. I also grew bored of the heteronormative, boozy celebratory lyrics that reinforced how as much as they wanted a witchy woman they didn’t want her lyin’ eyes either.

Sail

The sun would set soon. Maybe an hour; maybe ten minutes. Many nights that part of the equation was hard to predict. Sudden clouds would blow in across the bay and force the sun to set sooner than planned. Tonight didn’t look like one of those nights.

I paced the bluff behind my rental cottage. The edge was soft, crumbly but the fall was only a few feet. That allowed me to be brave. The soft red and white sand below would still be warm from the afternoon. In some spots warm enough to cook.

Not that I’d be prepared to eat the white fish the natives considered such a delicacy. They would wrap the fish, unscaled, still shivering with life, in thin grappo leaves and bury them in the hot sand. Half-an-hour later they would dig them up ready to eat. The white cooked into a sky blue.

I like my fish boned, cleaned & broiled.

The native women were used to this off-island-man reluctance. They didn’t pressure or disdain. Just offer and smile, just unwrap the crisp leaves to show me the pink-eyed white now blue fish. The nudge was their speciality.

It was the same nudge they used when offering anything. Clean your house? You like my sister? My brother perhaps? Now if they’d offered their fathers or husbands  I might have been interested.

The older boys and young men would take their boats out in the cool of the evening to fish. Their tiny slivers would skim along the surface of the water with a thin net behind them. Some had bamboo spears to help. They always came back with something.

At first I was dismayed to see them in brand-name shorts. I had hoped for the short, quick wrap of colorful fabric that would barely cover their privates. The encroachment of commercialism. Running shoes had replaced the local sandals. Running shoes without laces or tongues that they would flip off quick. The shorts would come off as fast as they dove into the water after a fleeting fish.

I wanted to keep them natural, fresh.

Across the bay I heard the echo of the evening conch. It called those who were interested to the sunset service. Several small black sails would dart out from our snug harbour and follow that call.

Some night I would go along to see what this service was like. To see if I fit into their form of worship and community.

 

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Lazarus Kiss.09

Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.

May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others

and a love within recall that alters you.

kiss

Harris worked his jaw. His ribs ached and he could barely swallow.

“I guess I am.” The hoarse whisper of his voice caught him off guard.

Moments later a police car pulled up follwed by an EMT ambulance.

“What happened.” a policeman asked.

“He was attacked by those two.” The man who helped him up pointed to the receding figures of Dave and his mother.

“Here …” Harris shoved the flyer into the officer’s hand. He could hardly talk.

“I saw most of it officer.” The woman who had called piped up. “After all the other assaults around here I called right away. No point in taking any chances. They beat the crap out of this poor man. It could have been me you know.”

“Yes. But…” The officer was looking at the flyer. “You have any knowledge of this, sir?”

“All I know …” Harris swallowed. “Is that somehow they got my picture off Facebook. I don’t know.”

“Do you have any identification.”

Harris gave the officer his wallet. The policeman let the EMT take over.

“That’s probably his phone number on those flyers.” he pointed to several flyers scattered near by.

The EMT quickly checked him over. Gave him oxygen, checked his blood pressure and felt for injuries. The gave him orange juice for the shock. Harris longed for a beer to wet his throat. Not far off he could see the officers talking to Dave and his mother.

“You feeling better, Mr. Stevens?” The officer gave him his wallet back. “Miss Davidson has told us what she saw. It would help if we could get a statement from you, while it’s fresh in your memory. If you are feeling up to it.”

Harris told them as much as he could recall.

“You’ve been most helpful. We’ll call you if we need to know anything more. The man who assaulted you in known to us. We can drive you home.”

“Thanks but my place isn’t too far from here. I’ll stick to lighted side of the street.”

Harris headed home, sore and wondering about the subway assaulter. Were they all sexual. Could this have been the curse at work? He must have met this guy’s fiancee for her to have taken his picture. Right?

As he walked he saw the flyers with his picture and hers on the light poles. He began to tear them down. How many of these had they put up? How many had they given out? Now that they knew who he was, was there reason to leave them up.  Would he have to face people pointing him out the street for the rest of the week or what? He stuffed the flyers into a litter box.

When he got back to his condo building he went to the basement storage. He found the cardboard box that he hoped had the pictures of Laura with other stuff from his University of Toronto years. It must be ten years since he’d packed away that stuff.

In his apartment he got himself a beer and sat to go through the box. His back was wet. He went to his room to change his clothes. There was orange pulp and pieces of orange peel along the shoulders of his tee-shirt and the ass of his sweat shorts. Oranges. How the fuck did that get there? He tossed the clothes into the washer hoping the orange didn’t stain.

Before he put on his boxers he checked himself in the mirror. There was a bruise on his lower ribs but his throat looked okay.

“How does the Cyclops of love feel?” he asked aloud to see how his throat moved as he spoke.

Back at the storage box he took out a couple of years books, flipped them open. Slips of papers with names and phone numbers fell out. Mostly women’s first names and numbers but none of them meant anything to him.

Then an album of photos. Him on the steps of Hart House with his parents, him drinking with bunch of guys and gals, him and Trevor pretending to kick box, several of him with girls he didn’t recognize at parties he vaguely remembered. He turned them over to see if there names on them but usually there weren’t. There was one that did.

It was a polaroid of him and a busty red head, arms around each other on a patio. Palm trees in a sunset behind them. He recognized the patio at Casa Della where he had stayed. On a post-it-note on the back he had written: “Aruba – Janet. Don’t forget this one.”

Every couple of years he’d spend a couple of weeks in Aruba soaking up sun booze and women. Apparently he’d been aware of forgetting them.

Finally the picture of Laura he liked. She was standing alone in the light coming through a window. She wore black panties and a bra. He ran his fingers over it, over her hair. Why hadn’t it worked out? The lump in his throat wasn’t from Dave’s manhandling.

He decided to dump the numbers and the photos of faces that meant nothing to him into the recycling bin. No use holding on to the past. As he dropped it in he noticed a card he didn’t recall putting in there. He took it out. It was a wedding invitation – so-and-so invites you to the marriage of Frances Green and …. Frances Green that was the woman in the posters. A phone number had been scrawled on it followed by “Call me – Fran”

Harris put the wedding invitation on the kitchen counter. Had he picked it up on the street? Wishful thinking. She must have given it to him like many other women he’d never remember.

His ribs ached from Dave’s punch. His stomach rumbled to remind him he hadn’t eaten since lunch. He pulled a frozen lasagna out of the freezer and popped it into the microwave. While it was being zapped he took the recyclables to the garbage bins in the basement.

The lasagna was okay after he added a dash of his own spices to it. He had discovered than many things tasted better with a sprinkling of powdered garlic. Once he’d downed that he finished the tub of chocolate peanut butter ice cream that been in the freezer way too long.

He got into bed but the pain in his ribs made it impossible to get comfortable. He made himself a hot cold and flu drink and washed down a couple of extra strength aspirin and within seconds was asleep.

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Lazarus Kiss .03

Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.

May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others

and a love within recall that alters you.

kiss

“But you found Mom.”

“Yeah, well, it was no thanks to me. Though when that happened it stopped. The curse was lifted. Your mother ended all that for me.”

“Does she know? That you were cursed.”

“I tried to explain it that time but I don’t think she accepted it. I just know I was happy that it had ended. That I didn’t always have this sense of wanting, getting, wanting again because I couldn’t remember what I had.”

*4*

Harris called his friend Trevor. They’d met in his first year at U of T and shared an apartment till he graduated. Trevor was always top of the class even when there was only pass or fail.

They were to meet at Story. He liked Cally, the manager because if she wasn’t too busy, he could always get her to bitch about the conflict she was having with her PhD panel that had already turned down her first two proposals: Spencer’s Faerie Quean and Animal Allegory, which they deemed essentially dull; and, The Feminization of Men in Elizabethan Drama, which they deemed too vague.

On the subway Harris was nervous. After what his Dad had told him he expected anyone, literarily anyone, to hit on him. He kept his hoodie zipped up and eyes fixed on his graphic novel.

If he didn’t make eye contact he’d be okay. Would he have to start wearing protective eye shields like the Cyclops in the X-men – eyes that shot bolts of uncontrollable sexual energy. Now that’s a superpower.

He nudged his sunglasses down and scanned the people around him. None of them seemed to notice him as he squinted. Well, if this was superpower he’d have to figure out to use it for good instead of sex.

As he stopped to talk with Cally Harris unzipped his hoodie with one hand, shook out his hair. When his hair felt this heavy he knew it was time to wash it.

“What’s the panel turing down this week?”

“Actually they’ve okayed my work on Eighteenth-Century Female Religious Novelists In Post-Reformation Germany.” She laughed. “As if . . . ”

Trevor was at their usual table. Chilled Sapporo’s already on their usual table.

“Okay Dog, what you barking at or is it some bitch barking at you again?” Trevor Daniels was of mixed-parentage, a mix that was a quarter this and a dash of that. Such a mix that Harris was never clear what, if any, were the main ingredients. Trevor would mention an Uncle Yegor, an Auntie Nilasha, a cousin Dijiro or a niece Rachel. If Toronto was a melting pot, Trevor was one of the prime products. He was tall, skinny with a bushy, almost Afro and facial hair that grew at an alarmingly fast rate, and also changed configuration regularly, often depending on how energetic Trevor felt when faced with having to shave three times a day if he wanted to remain clean-shaven. Tonight he had thin line along his jaw and up into his hair.

He got Cally’s eye and held up his half-finished bottle. He made an eating motion as well.

“My Dad rattled my cage.”

“Right the old folks get old, frail that sort of thing. I’m sure an old lawyer like him’s got benefits.”

“Not that simple.”

Cally took his empty and put a full bottle on the table. He forced himself to sip.

“Divorce?”

“No. Seems I’ve inherited the family …. curse.” He didn’t know what to call it or if he believed at all what his father had told him. He wasn’t sure how to explain it Trevor.

“Spill Dog.” Trevor waved for more beers. Cally brought them and a plate of sweet-potato fries with red pepper dip.

“Thanks Cally. We’ll have the double burgers.” Harris took a gulp of his beer. “Okay. It’s … when did you start calling me Dog?”

“Man when I first laid eyes on you. Admit it, you aren’t the best looking of guys. But that never seemed to get in the way though.”

“In the way of what?”
“You getting laid. Man, chicks was always eager for you. I used to think you had a kind of voodoo, the kind my Auntie Nilasha sells to suckers.”

“Could be, you know.” He finished off the fries and licked the salt off his fingers. Under the table he pushed his shoes off to let his feet cool.

“Yeah … wait … I think it was a little after we moved into that place in the Annex. Man that hole did reek. I was heading out one Friday for the weekend to wash my clothes at my folks. You were coming in with a sweet blond thing. You were the luckiest dude and ….” Trevor drained his bottle.

The busboy brought the beers and their burgers over but before he put them down he quickly wiped the table with his free hand. “Anything else gents?”

“No we’re fine for now.” Harris said and went back to his conversation with Trevor. “And.”

“And when I came back Sunday night you were taking a shower with some other chick. When she left I asked what happened to the blond and you were a blank.”

“A blank.”
“Cold. man, cold. Yeah, as if you didn’t know who I was asking you about. It was as if she never existed. Man that was cold I thought then. Cold like a dog would be. You never played them though, I had to respect that. Never hounded them for money or stuff like most guys would. The guys called you the King of Forget ’em.”

“ ‘Scuse me.” The bus boy took the empties and wiped down the table. “Anyt’in else?”

“Time for onion rings.” Harris leaned back to let the bus boy could take his empty plate. “Forget ’em?”

“Yeah that thing the four ‘f’s. Find ’em, feel ’em, fuck’ em, forget ’em. You never bragged on them though like most guys did. It was almost a secret thing with you. Not that you hid it but at the same time you never boasted either. Never tried to make me feel bad cause I wasn’t getting as much you. I did resent that you never shared.”

“You kept asking me to line you up. I didn’t really know how to do that, you know.”

“One track mind Dog. You had a one track mind.”

“It was weird I never had to work at it. They always came at me, out of the blue.”

“Yeah, you had the gift.”

“Not a gift, a curse. According to my father it runs in the family.”

“What? A type of animal sex magnetism?”

The bus boy brought the onions rings with dip to the table. Smiled and left them.

“He seems to have taken a shine to you Harris. Brought you the spicy ranch without asking. Must be that animal magnetism in action.’

“Who?” Harris looked around.

“The busboy. Never had a table wiped that many times.”

“I guess.” Harris glanced at the busboy. Compact and muscular, the guy resemebled a bouncer more than a busboy. “My Dad says every day a random person will be irresistibly drawn to me and I won’t remember them and they won’t remember me after it’s over.”

“After they’ve forced you have sex with them?”
“I don’t know. Could be they do me a favor, such as bring me the right dip. I don’t know. He just told me today. I’m trying to figure it out. That’s why I called you. You’ve known me for long enough. Like I didn’t remember that blond from years ago.”

“Ha! If you’ve been doing it everyday with a different person since, I’m surprised you even remember your own self. What about Laura Sands.”

“Whoa, that calls for stronger measures.” He called Cally over and ordered a couple of green apple vodkas – the cocktails of the night.

Harris was flooded with memories of Laura. It had been years since he had thought of her. Yes, she was a woman he remembered very clearly. Did he still have that picture of her tucked away. The one he used to look at when he jacked off. Where had he put it.

“Dog, you were head over heels for that girl.”

“Don’t remind me. I’m almost ashamed of how I acted.” He could see her blank expression the next day when he showed up at the bookstore where she worked with roses for her.

“It was pretty funny. The guy who seemed to get any girl he wanted not being able take ‘no’ from this one.”

“I gotta take a leak.” Harris slipped his shoes back on and went to the washroom.

Laura Sands was a woman he had remembered. She had short bleached white, blond hair that framed her face severely and he found that captivating. Picturing her now he felt an ache for more of her that was never satisfied when he met her. She was friend of Trevor’s girlfriend at the time and as often happened she was totally drawn to Harris.

He washed the salt and oil off his hands and looked at himself in the mirror. No dip on his face. At least he remembered what he looked like.

He sat back at the table “I thought Laura was the best thing I’d ever met.”

“Yeah I know Dog, you told me all that over and over, along with why doesn’t she want to see me. You know we all asked her and she said the same thing. That you were great in bed but that was all she was interested in. After a while she had to be reminded of who you were. How much time did you spend mooning around her at her job.”

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Asking Alice

16-grid01Before I get to John Coltrane I come this recent mp3 addition of work by his wife Alice Coltrane: Journey in Satchidanada; Transcendence; Radha-Krisna Nama Sankirtana. Perhaps the titles give away her spiritual direction 🙂 She is a harpist, pianist. She plays piano on later live Coltrane recordings. Coltrane used harp chart exercises as practice on his sax which developed his sheets of sound sound. That he married a harpist comes as no surprise.

16-grid02

Her work here is fluid, somewhat unstructured & for the most part, to me, easy to hear. I’m not sure if she would have had a career based on her talent alone though – I’m not a judge of jazz harp but the niche isn’t that large. I’m happy to have it & Journey is worth seeking out.

Also in this mp3 collection is Bernard Herrmann: Fantasy Film World – harp shows up in Journey to the Centre of the World in this superb set of suites of film music. I was so excited to find this 2nd hand at Cheapie’s & transferred it to cd & then replaced it with ‘fresh’ download version. The Ondes in Forbidden Planet lead me to Jolivet’s Concerto for Ondes Martenot backed by his Concerto for Harp.

16-grid03

You see how connections get made? Scifi music lead me to Kurt Stenzel’s music for Jodorowsky’s Dune: a film that never got made by Jodorowsky, one of the wildest directors. Geiger did design work but Jodorowsky was too crazy for the studios to work with. I looked for the soundtrack to Lynch’s Dune with no luck, but did find Graeme Revell’s Dune TV soundtrack. It is stirring bombast.

16-grid04

To round this collection out is Roque Banos’s chilling soundtrack for The Machinist. The movie is intense, creepy and the music matches the mood perfectly. The Ondes makes an appearance, here as well (or is that a whale?) An amazing film worth seeing, with a haunting soundtrack worth buying that doesn’t need the film to give you nightmares 🙂

sampleProminent

“What did you notice?”

“The same things as you did, I guess.”

“No, I want you to tell me just what it is you noticed.”

“What everyone notices. Jezz! Why the third degree?”

“Tell me or … ”

“Or what?”

“Or nothing. What did you notice first.”

“His smile.”

“The smile? You noticed his smile first? You are lying aren’t you? Come on be honest this once.”

“You saying I’m not honest.”

“No. But you often tell me what you think you’d like people to think not what you really think.”

“That doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

“No more sense than saying it was the smile you noticed first.

“Well, it was. You saying it isn’t as nice smile?”

“I couldn’t say. I’ve never really noticed the smile. I guess I’m not a smile person.”

“I see. What kind of a person are you? An ear freak?”

“Ears! Who notices ears. Not even you could describe those ears to me, could you?”

“They were perfection like the smile. Those clear blue eyes.”

“Ah, so you did notice something.”

“The smile first. Always the smile first.”

“You are so full of bs. I saw your eyes go to where everyone’s eyes go to.”

“Except yours. No need to ask what you noticed first. I guess I’m flattered you only had eyes for me.”

“I do not.”

“You just said you watched where my eyes went. You can’t watch two people at the same time.”

“Now you are just avoiding my question.”

“I answered your question. His mouth, That smile. What else is there? You saying there another feature, another part or parts that deserve first attention?”

“You bet your libido I am.”

“So that’s what this is about. No. I did not notice anything other than his smile. Not as sparkling as your I might add.”

“You can’t wheedle out of this that easily.”

“Okay. Okay. It was those feet. His over developed butt, those surging strong pecs – is that what you are after? The well crammed and form hugging shorts that left little to the imagination, the delicate but unmistakable scent of oranges.”

“Whew. That’s much better.”

“And that smile. Without that smile I wouldn’t have looked at the rest.”

“Give me a break. A bod like that would be hard to overlook.”

“For some.”

“Right. I keep forgetting you are above that sort of thing.”

“While you’d like to be under it.  After all I managed to overlook … well, perhaps we’d better let it go at that.”

“No go on. You were going to make some personal crack about me, weren’t you? About my smile perhaps. You never liked my smile did you? Did you?”

 

soon02

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Lazarus Kiss.02

Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.

May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others

and a love within recall that alters you.

kiss

“Excuse me.” A man brushed them as he hurried past them almost knocking her purse off her arm.

“I’ve known Dave since high school.” She had to follow him. “Like ten years now. Some people don’t believe we’ve never ever done it. You know how hard it is to stay a virgin. Yes, I’m a virgin … Can’t you tell? It’s not that I’m afraid of sex or anything or even that I was saving myself, but it just worked out that way, you know.”

Why was she telling him she was a virgin? It wasn’t something she’d set out to be but with Dave in jail for several of their years together and then her bout with cancer there wasn’t opportunity for anything beyond giving Dave hand jobs to convince him she wanted him.

“I see. You don’t want to be late for that rehearsal.”

“Are you married?” Yes, check if he’s free. It’s not too late to start her own life. This one was predetermined and fixed. Everything done for her because everyone felt she was fragile and couldn’t deal with anything not even her own wedding. It wasn’t her fault her parents were dead. That she really had no one to call family other than the aunt and uncle who had brought her up. Plus she did enjoy people doing things for her.

“No. But you are going to be soon.”

“Don’t you find me attractive.” She shouldn’t have said anything about being a virgin. He probably suspects she’s a sort of a religious nut. She shouldn’t have worn the red wig. It made her look sallow.

“It’s not that …”

“Please.” she grabbed at his hoodie sleeve and he pulled away. “There’s must be a bar nearby.”

“No, I have …”

“It’s just a drink. I’ll pay.” She pulled a credit card out of her purse. “I’m not …”

“No. Not tonight.”

“Later tonight?” She got out her cellphone and looked to him to give her his cell number. She hoped he didn’t notice her taking a picture of him once she turned it on. “I can call you after the wedding rehearsal.”

“No.”

“Here’s my cell number. Call me around ten.” She wrote the number on the first piece of paper she found in her purse and pushed it into his hoodie pocket. “Even if we aren’t done I’ll leave. Dave won’t mind. I’ll tell him I’m not feeling well. That …. his mother is making me sick. He’ll understand.”

“No.” he started to walk away again.

“I’m not like this usually. I want you to know that.” She had never felt such a sense of being on the verge of freedom. That this man was her new protector, saviour from the life she had been living. Till now she never felt she had the strength to escape. She didn’t want marriage, she wanted escape with this man.

“Whatever.”

“Then maybe …”

“No. Get going or you’ll be late, won’t you?”  He walked quickly away.

She felt useless, defeated. Her cell phone rang.

“Where are you, Francie? Everyone’s here.”

“I’m … I’m on my way,  Dave. I got lost leaving the subway station.”

“That’s my gal. Having a blond moment?”

“Redhead tonight. I’ll be there a few minutes. Sorry.”

It didn’t take her long to get to St. Anne’s. She looked at the lights in the hall. She looked at the stranger’s picture on her cell phone. Could have been better lit but looked okay. Sweet smile. She posted it to her Facebook page then switched the cell phone off and walked back to the subway station.

*3 – Sunday*

After the lunch dishes were done his mother left him and his Dad at the kitchen table.

“Time for my afternoon nap. There’s apple pie if you want any.”

“Only your mother would serve quiche and follow it up with pie.”

‘Thank’s Mom.” Harris cut a slice. “You want a piece Dad?”

“No, thanks Helen, I’m crusty enough as it is.”

“For sure.” His mother gave his Dad a kiss on the forehead and left them.

Harris’s father pulled his chair closer to the kitchen table. “I don’t know if you’ll understand this but it’s time to tell you anyway.”

“If you’re going to tell me about the facts of life …” Harris laughed. His father’s face was serious. Shit! Time for the big ‘C’ announcement.

“Ah no Harris, if only it was a simple as that. Occasionally impossible things happen, you understand?”

“You stole me from gypsies.” Crap it is the big ‘C.’ Who is it going to be, his father or his mother?

“Have you ever wondered why you haven’t had a girlfriend for more than a week?”

“Sort of, but I figured the right one hadn’t found me yet. Hard to meet a woman who knows who Morbius is.” he plucked at his tee-shirt. God they were lining him up with a neighbor’s daughter. Better that than the big ‘C.’

“You’re closer to the truth than you realize.” His Dad scratched himself under the chin.

“Truth?” This should be easy enough to nip in the bud. “You mean the truth that most guys are only interested in getting what they can. Look Dad I know you think it’s time for me to settle down. You were married by the time you were my age but when I’m ready, I’ll do just that. Guys are getting married later these days. Being single and in your thirties isn’t end the world any more, at least for men.”

“It’s not a matter of you being ready. You’re a lot like me, I wasn’t ready, though I always thought I was. You’ve never had a hard time with gals, right.”

“Yeah. Guess that’s what makes it harder to worry about finding the right one.” Harris leaned his chair away from the table.

“How about guys?”

“What do you mean. As in gay? No! You think I’ve never had a girlfriend because I’m gay!”

“Just asking. Your mother and I want you to …”

“Yeah. Yeah. I will when I’m ready unless you have a potential bride lined for me?” He set his chair back down.

“What I’m trying to tell you is that you may never be ready. It may not be up to you. It’s … Hell … I don’t know how to say this … It’s a curse.”

“Oh yeah! The curse of good looks, you mean.” Harris flipped his hair and patted his belly.

“It has nothing to do with looks, trust me. Till I met your mother I was like you, always found it a breeze to meet women, enjoy them, more than I could ever keep track of.  Seemed to happen every day like clock work. I knew that if it hadn’t happened by a certain time it was going to any minute. But it wasn’t always women. A few times it was a man. Which I declined …. ”

“You telling me you’re gay, bi or what.” He stared his piece of pie. Was it okay to eat it while his Dad was going on? Yes it was.

“Harris you aren’t listening. It wasn’t something I could control but I could control what happened when it did happen. I turned the men down instantly but carefully. I recognized they weren’t acting their usual selves. It was a compulsion to be near me.’

“Yeah, now that you mention it I’ve experienced that. Women who wanted to be near me. I guess there have been a few guys too but …” Harris stopped. He could dimly picture a time that had happened but only that it was a male – no face, no conversations, came to him, not even what had happened after. He cut another big piece of the pie and started to eat it.

“See! You can’t remember, can you? Can you tell me who you dated last month or even last week. That’s what it was like for me too.”

“You mean I have inherited a short-term memory problem? I can remember who I work with, where I live.” He recalled the pretty woman on her way to her wedding rehearsal. He could almost see her face. What had he done with her number? She did give it to him didn’t she? He had stuck to his decision not to screw her. Hadn’t he? Possibly he did and now had forgotten it.

“What I’m trying to tell you is that people will find you attractive, irresistible. Strangers on the street. Once a woman in a car that passed me, turned around to follow me. She only had a glance of me. It’s the family curse. Your grandfather suffered from it too. It might go back even further for all I know.”

“Does Mom know?”

“I tried to tell her once. You know your Aunt Clara?”
“Mom’s sister – the one who lives in England.”

“Right. She did visit once. When you were thirteen.”

“I don’t remember her very well.”

“She was going to spend two weeks but only stayed about three days. Your Mom and me left her with you while we went for groceries. When we came back she and you …” His dad raised his eye brows. “were more than playing house.”

“What? She was having sex with me?”

“Your mother walked in you and her naked and …. well …. she threw Clara out of the house. Wanted to press charges but I didn’t think it was a good idea. I said to wait a few days and see what you remembered. By the end of the week you didn’t remember Clara had visited.

“When tried to explain about the curse to your mother she thought I was trying to make out it was your fault. That her sister was the victim. I couldn’t make her understand. So I gave up.”

“So this curse is a witch’s hex?” He waved his fork like a wand then put it down. “Put on our family for what reason?”

“I don’t know, but I do know we have this effect on random strangers.”

“Doomed to …”

“Never find love or something like that.”

 

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Misery Loves An Audience

samp

Law 10: Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky

we’ll get together

when you are in a better mood

I’m bored of your problems

it’s as simple as that

it’s almost as if

you try to see if you can

bring me down

but that’s not going to happen

misery loves an audience

and I’m no longer

willing to be the audience for your misery

of course I still like

it’s not a matter of like

yes you deserve to be heard

to be listened to

but I’ve heard enough

I don’t need to hear any more

if you focused on the positive

more often

perhaps things would improve for you

so call me back

when you are in a better mood

not the bitter one

you present to the world

most of the time

yes I know

that makes me just like all the others

the ones who had no time for you

who got fed up with your

never ending crisis

where the solution to one situation

only made something else worse

no I don’t want you to kill yourself

but if you chose to

don’t blame me for that choice

in fact

don’t even mention me in the note

as one of the few people

who were concerned for you

because I know that’ll

be yet another way of saying

we failed you

that I failed you

that life failed you

and if that’s true

I can live with it

even if you can’t

30-gar01

Law 10 goes to against that cultural people-pleasing notion that we must help the struggling, that to avoid negative people is a lack of compassion. We also live in a culture in which negativity is seen as being realistic & to be positive is a sign of being delusional. Negative Nancy vs Pollyanna. I once had a friend say don’t shine on my misery parade (or something to that effect.)

30-gar02In recovery people share more about their struggles & obstacles than their victories. People in general are much more willing to get together & bitch than praise – lots of talk about operations, illnesses or things that went wrong on a vacation.

I noticed this when I recently did jury duty – strangers in the pool ‘bonded’ over shared unpleasantries – negative experiences in hospitals, coffee shops, driving to court. It’s almost as if talking about good stuff is showing off, not showing enough humility.

30-gar03

 

The law also talks about ‘infection’ – the sense that like a cold, negativity is contagious. If it isn’t, there’s also guilt by association. If you are seen too often with depressed people, others will assume you are also a negative person & treat you accordingly. So I have fairly strong boundaries when engaging with gripers.

I don’t put much energy into relationships with people who defined themselves by their ‘victimhood.’ By relationship I mean friendships – in the recovery community I work best with people who are seeking change, which is about 90% of them. People who chose to stay stuck, identified or defined by their hopelessness aren’t usually drawn to me anyway.

30-gar04

 

Misery loves an audience more than it loves company. I’m not a good audience so I make bad company.

 

 

 

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November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

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December – Thursday Dec 1st – Toronto, 8 pm, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St.

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Early 2017:

my first local feature in over a year: location date TBA

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April season 3 FINALS – Friday April 15th Buddies in Bad Times – early show – 7pm startgames

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June 2-4: attending: Capturing Fire 2017 –

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August 31-Sept.3

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Funeral Photos for #NaNoWriMo 16.11

nano16pic

I passed 75K on November 24 and decided to give myself a break, at least for a few days to let my fingers rest 🙂 I pushed, in the last burst, to get the main plot wrapped up. I’ve known how this would end when I started – a face off against a backdrop of carnival rides, calliope music, a raging thunder & lightening storm. Melodramatic enough?snowlamp03

 

To get there I wrote the actual ending – what happens after the climax. It certainly informed that climax with twists that I hadn’t anticipated. I did a mini-outline for the specific actions that had to happen in the climax – the big reveal of the killer & the motivation behind it all.

snowlamp02I’m not sure how much of the wrap up is a part of Picture Perfect and how much of it is actually the start of my hero’s next adventure but I can worry about that in rewrites. With the three NaNo’s focused on this novel I have over 180K words of rough draft to refine 🙂

This is a continuation of the sample I posted Saturday. When I lived in Sydney I saw open casket funeral pictures. If some of you are thinking – there’s no gay men in Sydney Nova Scotia! Think again. I’ve checked sites like Squirt, Bear 411 and there are quite a few.

snowlamp01

“How are we getting on up here.” Stan said. “You’ve been very quiet.”

“Yes it’s been productive. Turns out my sister went to Riverview.”

“And not Glace Bay. That would have been closer.”

“Do you have much here from the Happy Hippo Carnival?”

“Some of their posters like the one on the wall here. There’s also some of their popcorn boxes. even a few of the prizes. Their new museum in Moncton has the best stuff. It is amazing.”

“Yes I’ve been there.” He put his tablet into his shoulder bag. “But this has a better feel. Less like a theme park …”

“And more like place people like to park?”

“I don’t think I’d put it that way. A place that invites you to take you’re time and explore.”

‘That’s what I said? Or don’t you take you’re time when you go parking?”

“Enough with the flirting Stan. It’s bordering on harassment.”

“Sorry. The mating pool is rather limited here you know. Before you go I do have something you’ll be interested in.”

There were several people in the main part of the museum. One couple was taking pictures of the old kitchen appliances. Another was studying the information on the first African church.

“Actually Jeannie thought you’d like to see these.”

Dan recognized the photo album covers as the one’s his Dad sold exclusively. They were wedding or baptismal photos.

The first one was an album of funeral pictures. A black family standing beside the open coffin, of people touching the hand of the deceased, the flowers, the carrying of the coffin to the hearse.

“I’ve never seen anything like this.” Dan said.

“It wasn’t that unusual in the black community here.” Stan said. “They would give copies of some of the pictures to the pall bearers as a way of thanking them.”

“It’s just creepy.” Dan reached for the next album.

“Not more of the same?”

“Oh no.” Jeannie said. “Though we have inherited a few more like that one. One is of a baby’s funeral. Very sad. I’m not sure what to do with except preserve as best as we can. Like I can’t see us doing an exhibition of them.”

“Funerary Photography and Other Expressions of Grief.” Dan said. “You must have some hair wreathes. My grandmother has two. Kept them in the living room.”

“If you ever need job.” Stan said.

The next album was a set of wedding pictures. In one the bride was standing by herself beside a painting of a sea storm.

“That can’t be a good omen.” Dan said.

The set covered the wedding from the bride getting out of the car. the walk up the aisle, slipping the ring on in extreme close-up. Bride’s hands were typical, the groom’s needed to be washed.

“Is that oil?” Dan asked. “He couldn’t have come to the wedding with dirty hands.”

“Of course!” Jeannie said. “I’ve always wondered about why they were so dirty. I never thought of oil.”

“Professional hazard.” Dan quickly looked through the rest of the pictures. “The storm picture must have been an omen after all as there are no other glimpse of the groom other than his hands.” He laughed “Some of the pictures had been cropped to remove the offending groom then resized to maintain uniformity.”

“I’ve never noticed that before either.” Jeannie said.

“No one has ever said that in fact.”

“They usually ask about the wedding dress?”

“You have e.s.p?” Jeannie said.

“I’m the picture whisperer.” Dan said. “It’s part of my training.”

“No!” she said. “There’s no such thing.”

“There is.” Stan said. “It’s no secret, is it?”

“I’m a certified forensic document examiner who specializes in photographs. I can tell you, pretty much, what exact cameras took what pictures. These …” he tapped the albums, “would be easy and I did work with my dad on weddings. But I could tell you, say, if pictures were taken with a 1950’s Brownie or a Duaflex.”

“You should have your own TV show like the Antiques Road show.” Jeannie said.

“He sort of does.” Stan said. “He’s with the Cold Canada show that’s investigating cases here in the Nova Scotia.”

“Cool. Gotta to work.” she said as a family came came. “Whose yer fadder?” she walked over to them.

“He is!” one of the children pointed to the adult behind him.

“Thanks for everything.” He shook Stan’s hand.

“If there’s anything else I can help you with …”

“There is one thing,” He pulled his hand out of Stan’s then walked to the front exit. “I’d really like a good feed of cod cakes. Yeah I know cod is not fished anymore but even decent fish cakes would do.”

Stan opened the door for Dan. “There is one place.”

They stepped out into the sunlight. It took Dan’s eyes a few minutes to adjust to the bright light as they walked to his car.

“One place?”

“Not on the tourist maps.”

Dan opened the driver’s door to let the heat out of the car.“Yes? Do I have to guess?”

“I’ll write the address down for you.” He took a business card out of his wallet and write on the back of it and handed it to Dan.

“412 Peter’s Avenue?” Dan read it aloud. “Is it a … oh, fuck am I thick or what … you’re asking me for dinner at your place!”

“Is this meeting cute or what?” Stan blushed.

The light caught his face and Dan recognized something in it. “Your Dad was on the team that won the regional soccer championship in 1986.”

“Uncle. Not Dad. How …”

“The yearbook.”

“That’s amazing. You saw a family resemblance. You must have e.s.p.”

“You’re not the first person who told me that. I still can’t tell you the lottery numbers, now that would be useful. Six o’clock?”

“Make it 7. I’m finished here at 5:30. I usually go to the gym after work but I’ll skip tonight. That’s my cell number. Call me if you get lost.”

“Here’s mine.” He handed his card to Stan. “Call me if you get home early.”

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“Whose yer father?” #NaNoWriMo 16.09

nano16pic

This sample is from November 6. I finally get Dan to my home town, Sydney. I’ve never stayed at hotel there but the view is correct 🙂 I have no name yet for the second hand book store owner. ‘Exiter’ is brand name for Dan’s carry-on. There is a Whitney Pier Museum which does have old high school years but not as organized as I present.

One of the thriller tropes I wanted to play with is the hero that women find irresistible. Is there a female who doesn’t throw themselves at James Bond? So here my hero Dan gets this treatment from Stan. Do they click? Find out in Saturday’s sample 🙂22-keyboard

The next day proved be clear and warm. Dan looked out over the harbour from his hotel room. There were some sail boats moving slowly with sea gulls swooping around their masts. Across the harbour he could make out Coxheath. On the boardwalk beneath his window he watched a pair of joggers dodging people, women pushing baby carriages, tourists taking selfies maneuvering to get the sail boats in the background.

Other than the signed and numbered prints of heather over his bed, the room was corporate hotel. They could have at least tied some tartan ribbon around the lamps. The coffee was passable but the packaged creamer was not. He dumped it down the bathtub drain.

The room service menu did offer cod cakes. Would they be like those fish fingers his mother used to fry up. He could taste the orange crust on them. Did they make those anymore. There had to be a Sobey’s to try.

After a quick shower he bundled his dirty clothes and took them with him down to the lobby. At the front desk he handed them over to be laundered, not dry cleaned. All of them smelled of smoke from the fire. Dry cleaning would not take that scent out. The clothes in his Exiter were tolerable.

As boy he hadn’t spent too much time in Sydney. Usually he accompanied his father to pick up photographic supplies. Then he yearned for it as a big city though. As he walked the downtown core he saw that it more a big town than a big city. The entire population of the Sydney could fit into the Eaton’s Centre at one time, with room to spare. There were probably more people living in Toronto’s St Jamestown than lived on the whole of Cape Breton island.

Not as deliberately quaint as the popular tourist spots like Baddeck, the city seemed caught between a decaying past and what? The new buildings he saw lacked anything beyond functionality.

The owner second hand book store suggested he check out the Whitney Pier Museum while he was in town. It was a short drive that passed through where the steel plant one was. He was shocked to see hardly a trace of the towering chimneys that would spew blast furnace dust over the city. That dust was the prime reason they didn’t live in Sydney.

The Museum was in a converted Synagogue. As he walked in a young woman greeted him.

“Whose yer father?” she asked.

“Richard James.” He answered laughing. “I’ve been  on the east coast for over a month and that’s the first time anyone has asked me that.”

“You sound a little disappointed.” she said.

“I guess I am. I half-expected the concierge at the hotel to ask me that or ‘did’ja eat yet?’”

The girl laughed. “You accent is spot on. Richard James? The name is familiar. Don’t tell me …”

“Need a hint?” He tapped his camera.

“Mother of God!” she exclaimed. “The photographer! Man he took pictures of nearly every school kid on the island for years.”

“The one and the same.”

“And those amazing calendars. We have a near full set you know. We’d love to get permission to reprint them. Do you know who owns the rights to them?”

“Hold on I’m just here to look around not do business.”

“Oh right. It’s just that … Stan …” she shouted over her shoulder. “Come out here.”

“I’ll be here for a couple of days.” He said.

A muscular man about 5’5 strode out of the office behind her counter. His shirt and jeans were clearly tailored to show him off to his best advantage. But what sort of advantage did he expect to have here?

“Yes Jeannie.”

“It’s … I forgot to ask your name … he’s Richard James’ son … the calendar guy.”

“Cool.” he shook Dan’s hand.

“Daniel James.”

The man’s hand was solid, firm without exerting pressure. He put his other hand over Dan’s as they shook.

“I am pleased to meet you. Don’t mind Jeannie. She’s been doing a research project on the changing views of our island as seen via the tourist lens, or something like that.”

“The filtered dialectic of the past as posited by the lens to create a distance between reality and idealization?” Dan asked her.

“Mother of God, you said it better than I ever could.”

“You can stop with the localisms Jeannie.” Stan said.

“Hard habit to break. It’s part of the training to give visitors a sense of what has been lost.” Jeannie explained. “Who’s yer fadder” Is one of those expressions that had nearly disappeared. I tell what generation a visitor is from by the way they react to that question.”

“Now days they ask what’s your handle.” Stan said. “Or what are you into.”

“Into?” Dan asked. Was this man flirting with him? “As is top or bottom?”

“Exactly?” Stan said.

“Now you’ve lost me.” Jeannie said.

“Doesn’t matter. I’ve been reading about you in the Post.”

“Me? I haven’t looked at any news for weeks.”

“Not exactly you, but the motel explosion outside of St. Peter’s.”

“You were there?” Jeannie said.

“That’s right and now I’m here.”

“I think he wants to change the subject Jeannie. Are you here at the Museum just to look or to look for something in specific.”

“Owner of book store said you had a collection of high-school year books?”

“That we do.”

“It’s on the second floor. I’ll take …”

“That’s alright Jeannie. I’ll show Mr. James around. You can hold the fort down here.”

“But …”

“I won’t be keeping you form anything?” Dan said. “I’m sure I can manage on my own.”

“Fund raising report can wait.” Stan gestured to the entrance. “Stairs are just to the right.”

The top of the stairs was unlit. Stan leaned across Dan to turn on the light.

22-chair

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Plot vs. Character #NaNoWriMo 16.08

nano16picThe other day someone asked me me I was working on in my NaNo novel. I said I was writing a scene that introduced a trans-woman character. They were a bit puzzled as I’d also told them I was writing the scenes set in Nova Scotia. Specifically in Sydney in this case.09redleaves02

They were a little surprised that there might be trans-people on the east coast. Which was one of the reasons I wanted to bring that in to the story. They questioned how big a role this character played because being trans was one of those issues that required a narrative justification. They felt it was like Chekov’s gun.

This ‘narrative justification’ is one of the reasons that for too many years and in too many novels queer characters had to backstories about coming out. Regardless of the fact that hetero’s rarely took readers through their first awareness of the opposite sex.redleaves

In reality there is more to the lives of trans, queer folk than how they became who they are. Every minute isn’t spent in rehashing their personal histories. The fact that a character sexuality is irrelevant to wanting a latte is no reason not mention their sexuality. Readers can handle the whole world. if they can’t it’s not the author’s problem.

So I wanted a character to be trans and to be ordinary at the same time. My queer characters don’t waste much time dwelling on coming out they are too busy dodging bullets. I’m too busy creating characters who are real as opposed to ones that have be ‘narrative justification’ for existing.09redleaves02

The writer who asked me this listened for about two minutes, nodded in agreement, then went about their own writing for the next half-hour. Another confirmation that few people want to know what you’re up to because what they are doing is always more interesting to them.

 

I’m jumping to November 12 with this sample. In the story it falls a few days after the dust incident I posted yesterday. This is one of the ways plotting works for me because when I wrote on November 3 I did not think that scene was leading anywhere than some stoner jokes. Even as I wrote this I had only vague idea, I took a break for a walk and while I was out the air-born fungus came to me.

As you can tell I haven’t filled in names for every character. The Dr.’s last name is a real name though.

perfect nano sample

Exhausted Dan sat in the gate waiting area. A flight attendant woke him to let him know his flight was boarding.

“Thanks” he said. His throat hurt when swallowed his saliva. This was no ordinary cold. Should he ask for a surgical mask? He stumbled through the narrow aisle to his seat. At least with a window seat he wouldn’t have to get up until Toronto. He was sweating profusely and as the plane took off he was racked with trembling.

“Don’t fly much.” his seat mate said. “I used be terrified too. “Looks like you need a drink? Or have you had one too many already.”

Dan didn’t have the energy to answer him. Would they mind carrying him off when they got to Toronto. He painfully turned his head to look out the window and fell asleep again.

Once again an attendant had to wake him.

“We’re in Toronto, sir?”

Groggily he unbuckled his seat belt and pulled himself over the seats to the aisle. “I’m not feeling so good.” he slurred.

“He’s had too much to drink Shirl.” another of the attendants said.

“Oh no he slept from take off.”

“Did you have a carry on?” The attendant asked. “Is this yours in the the over head?”

He nodded yet but didn’t recall putting it there.

“Get medic.” she said. “This man isn’t well. You just sit there, sir. Someone will help you.”

“Okay.” Dan whispered.

“Is there someone meeting you?”

He fumbled to get his cell phone out. “Jermy Mox ..”

Talking became increasing painful. He turned the phone on and handed it to her.

“Jeremy?” she asked looking over his contacts list.

Two security men came down the aisle and supported him as they took him off the plane.

“Who is he?” One of them asked.

“Daniel James.” the other attendant said. “He has RCMP security clearance.”

“Doesn’t keep them from getting blind drunk.”

While they were helping him off he could hear the attendant with his phone talking on it but couldn’t make out what she was saying.

“Here’s your phone.” she put it in  his jacket pocket. “Mr. Moxham will meet you at the exit.”

“Jeremy Moxham?” one of the security asked.

“Yes.” the attendant answered. “The one and only.”

“Maybe we can get an autograph.”

“Ask the drunk.”

They rolled him down the covered ramp way. Dan sensed going over carpet then bumps to a marble floor. How did he get into a wheel-chair. He tried to wipe the drool off his mouth before Jeremy saw him in this condition. His arms didn’t obey him. Dimly he could see Jeremy. It was as if he was at the end of a long noisy hall that got longer the harder he tried to focus.

He woke is a cool dark room. The bed sheets were tucked so tight around him his arms couldn’t move. His eyes adjusted to the dark. There was light from under a door opposite the foot of the bed. He became aware of something pinching the index finger of his left hand. A sharper pinch annoyed the back of that wrist. He wanted to scratch it but his right arm wouldn’t move. Something was holding it to the bed.

The door opened and a nurse with a face mask and plastic eye visor came in.

“Are you coming to Mr. James?” She turned the lights on.

He automatically shut his eyes but the light that came on was dim. Bright enough to see the room.

“I’m Doctor Bim. You can call me Yvonne.”

Two more similar gowned gloved and masked medical personnel came into the room.

“Yvonne?” his throat was still sore but not hurting as much.

“Oh good you can talk.” she said as one of the others undid the restraints on his arms. “We had to keep you from pulling out the intravenous. I suppose you don’t remember that?”

He flexed his arms as best he could without disturbing the finger clip and needle on his left hand.

“I  vaguely recall being taken off the plane. Jeremy Moxham.”

“Yes Mr Moxham met you at the airport. He rushed you here.”

“Here?”

“You’re in isolation at Sunnybrook. Infectious diseases.”

“Isolation?”

“Until we were sure what you had come down with. Two of your co-workers have also fallen ill.”

“Sandy?” he didn’t quite understand.

“No Jen C and camera man.”

“Cold Canada! I had no memory of that until you mentioned it.”

One of the medical personnel made notes on a clip board.

“Sandy?” Dr Bim asked.

“She’s my manager at the Depot. So what do we have?”

“I’m waiting on blood tests. You all had very high fevers, swallowing difficulty, motor function impairment.”

“It was that dust!” he sat up then lay back heavily as blood rushed to his head.

“Dust?” she asked.

“Yes. We thought it was grass pollen, something like that.” He was exhausted again. “Can I get some water.”

“Sorry.” one of the m p said. “I’ll get an orderly to bring you something.

“There’s no rush.” Dr Bim said. “You were severely dehydrated. That’s why the intravenous drip. Your kidneys were shutting down. Same with the others.”

An orderly gave him a bottle of water and a straw. He drank enough to wet his throat. “That’s better.”

“Dust?” Dr. Bim asked.

“Talk to asst prod at Q. She can give to all the details. I’m pretty sure Crpl of the RCMP division took samples. There might even some on my shoulder bag. I was wearing it when it happened.”

He quickly told them about the interview with Morrison and exploring the storage dome.

“We got out of there the moment the dust flew.” He said.

“So it was inhaled?” The note taking intern asked.

“Yes. We were giddy for some hours afterward. Stoned.”

“So you experienced visual and sonic distortion?” note taker asked.

“How long did that last.” Dr Bim asked.

“By the time I went to bed. I felt normal in the morning. I felt fine until this morning when I woke up with a sore throat.” As he described the progress of his not feeling well note taker kept track of what he was saying.

“It wasn’t this morning.” Dr Bim said. “You’ve been asleep for some forty-eight hours.”

“What!” he sat up again.

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