Many of you may remember Steve Berman’s post last March which he called Monsters Anonymous. In case you didn’t see it here is a link. In it he talked about why he hated certain types of monsters and wanted to stake them. 🙂 Well Steve is back today with another scary post –
So, after several months of penance, community service, and paying a small fee, Wave has graciously allowed me to return and blog about monsters again.
Why do we adore monsters so much? I think it is for two reasons: We like being scared because the sensation of adrenaline and blood rushing through our veins says We are alive!; and the monster is an outsider—so for those of us who aren’t the norms, the average Joes and Janes, we understand being different.
As a writer, I know what scares me. Loneliness. I am a single gay man in his 40s. I worry that I will never find love, that I will always be alone. That one day, I will have no one to call on the phone, no one to spend dinner with. As I write this very blog entry, I am at World Fantasy, a massive spec fic writers’ conference and in my hotel room as others are out to dinner, socializing, laughing, flirting.
What monster can I make of loneliness? Quite a few. I have done ghosts who haunt the highway (Vintage) and farm boys who never can keep a lover except as heads in a well (“Well Wishing”). Or this from my latest story:
Seventh period was gym class. After forty minutes of lacrosse attempts in October brittle weather, Conrad rushed to change back to his regular clothes. He felt vulnerable in sweats.
Half the boys didn’t bother showering off the sweat and dirt. A gangly, tall boy with only a towel around his waist walked past where Conrad sat untying his sneakers. He had double-knotted them to prevent himself from tripping.
Conrad envied that the kid could walk around, nearly naked, without care. And though he knew he shouldn’t stare, Conrad could stop himself from fixating on the beads of water running down in shiny trails the boy’s bare chest, along grooves of muscle and ribcage. He wondered what touching such a boy would be like. His fingertips tingled while his mind imagined them moving over the boy’s torso as if it were a geometrical problem he could somehow solve. Solve and understand why his own body seemed so different. Circumferences of skin and angles of—
“What are you lookin’ at?”
Conrad glanced up at the boy’s face, cheeks and high forehead ruddy from hot water, or, he realized with dread, embarrassment and anger.
“Nuthin,” he muttered as he looked back down at his feet.
What scares you?
Go on, tell me.
And I’m an outsider. Not just because I’m gay. You can be heterosexual and an outsider. I’m a geek. I like Godzilla movies. I collect plush monsters. I read fantasy novels. So I also write stories about cowboys facing pterodactyls (Secrets of the Gwangi).
Maybe your husband doesn’t understand your fascination with unicorns. Yes, I think a unicorn counts as a monster. I know, even as you read these words your mind is filling with thoughts of Unicorn = Virgin. Horn = Phallus. Unicorn + Gay Man = Kinky story I must read/write/hire Steve to author with big fat check so he can rent boy to mop his sweaty brow as he types away.
Perhaps the worst monster isn’t under the bed (I hope such beasts are either deaf or voyeurs) or running the Republican party but are ourselves. Which is why we like to turn ourselves into vampires or werewolves or well-endowed sex fiends (I said “fiend” so that’s sorta like a creature, right?).
Okay, now, since it’s Halloween, let’s play a game. Sort of like the one where you sit in a dark basement and pass stuff around and say it’s some fellah’s innards (notice they might hand you pasta and say it’s his “guts” but they never give you a banana and… well, you know where I’m going…)
I’m going to start a story… and I want you all to tell me who is the real monster and what happens next:
Smoke. The man on the bed blows out a steady stream of bluish-gray smoke from between his fingers, from his chapped lips clutching a cigarette. The body beside him on the bed shifts, maybe trembles because the room is cold.
Under one pillow is a gun. The smoking man isn’t sure if it is under the pillow beneath his sweaty head. Maybe the guy besides him is already stretching long fingers with black nails under his pillow to grip the handle.
The smoke rising to the ceiling—which has so many water stains it looks like a giraffe’s ass—is swirling. The smoking man smirks when he can discern a mouth in the vaporous mass. A wide mouth.
He nudges the naked man beside him. “Look,” he begins…