Oh, y’all, there was a charming sofa and Elizabeth McClellan read some of my favorite poems of hers. There was a lovely crowd. I read the story I hate and I am convinced that it’s really, really good. Even the singing went okay.
But I want to tell you that, if you have to have a reading in town, East Side Story has some amazing advantages. One, they have wine and themed food for guests. There were eyeballs and faces and fingers to eat.
But the other, and I CANNOT EVEN BELIEVE IT, is that they had three artists make pieces based on stories that appear in A City of Ghosts. These aren’t great pictures, but they are amazing pictures. I brought the Rachel Jackson one home with me.
I’m going to have to bring my parents in there. Holy cow. I am completely overwhelmed by the awesomeness.
I had been lying with my face to the outside door and so, when I started from my sleep, the first thing I saw was the door frame and then the flanking window frames. The windows themselves were black and yielded nothing of the outside, because the basement was lit. It was not a strong light, certainly not strong enough to read by, but it kept off the outside and cast a shadow of myself and the cot on the floor. It had an unhealthy yellowish glow, almost the color of an infection. This was what sprung to my mind, perhaps because the smell of the place, the stench, was so strong now, and my ears still rang from the horrific scream which had awoken me.
I leaped over to the equipment we had left trained on the moldy spot in front of the fireplace. As I turned, I dreaded what I was about to see, for I knew that scream had been in my uncle’s voice but I didn’t know what menace I would have to defend him and myself against.
It was worse than I could have ever dreamed. Out of the fungus-ridden earth steamed up a vaporous corpse-light, yellow and diseased, which bubbled and lapped almost to the ceiling in vague outlines half-human and half-monstrous, through which I could see the chimney and the fireplace beyond. Its wolfish and mocking eyes were the only distinctive feature I could make out. And yes, I say that I saw the damned thing, but it’s only as I write this that I can really begin to remember its outlines. At the time it seemed to me only a seething, dimly phosphorescent cloud of fungal loathsomeness, enveloping and dissolving the one thing I was focused on—my poor uncle, Elias Allen—whose blackening and decaying features leered and gibbered at me, who reached out dripping claws to rend me in the fury which this horror had brought.
Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ. Blind training is all that saved me. Jesus Christ. I had drilled for this moment, imagined it before I went to sleep, played out on my drives to the store and to work—Jesus Christ—what I would do in circumstances that seemed beyond plausibility. Jesus Christ. I recognized immediately that the bubbling evil was of no substance reachable by ordinary measure—Jesus Christ—and so I ignored the flame throwers which loomed to my left. I pulled the EMP weapon from its place and took a deep breath. Jesus Christ. I pulled the trigger and there was a noise, almost like the thud you feel in your chest at a stop light when the neighboring car has its infernal music turned up too loud. Jesus Christ. I realized it was me saying that, praying for help without realizing it.
No help came.
One hundred and thirty six tiny squares is a lot of tiny squares, a seemingly endless stream of tiny squares. I have been working on tiny squares for ever and only have 64 of them.
Forget the tucking and the sewing. This may be the part that breaks me.
S. and I went to see Margaret Atwood and we ran int Southern Beale. We did not see the mayor who missed a funny, charming speech that involved quite a bit of singing, which I was very tickled by.
She even handled the questioner who just wants to say something but it never leads to a question. If you’re in academia, I’m sure you know the type. But she handled him gracefully even while I was physically cringing.