Thursday, February 11, 2016

Now Playing in Theater B is out now!

Here is  short sample from my story, "Four Houses Down, on the Bad Side of Town," available in the brand new grindhouse-inspired anthology: Now Playing in Theater B (from A Murder of Storytellers).
"Four Houses Down, on the Bad Side of Town"

If you’re wondering, the price on the For Sale sign posted in my front yard is correct. It’s an incredible bargain and I can see you agree. This house has been in our family for several generations, but it’s time to move. Downsizing. You know how it is.
I’m Clive. Let me give you a tour.
This residence has three bedrooms, though only two are in use. House size is 3400 square feet. Plenty of room for a large family.
There’s a porch out back, a tool shed, a prefab tin shed for storage, even a smokehouse, if you like jerky. Maybe I ought to test that out, though; the last time we used it was way back in 1969, when I was only seven years old! That was the year Nixon took office, the Beatles performed on a roof and then broke up, and a tapeworm killed my mother. Sucked the life right out of her and left nothing but a husk. In the end, she was dry as an old gourd. Ever shake one? You can usually hear something rattling around inside, but you don’t know what. Seeds maybe, or dead beetles.
My dad cut my mother open and pulled the murdering parasite out of her large intestine. The damn thing was over three feet long. Dad took it on like Jacob wrestling the angel, and like the angel, the tapeworm was overcome. Dad crucified it in the smokehouse. He nailed it to the wall with a two-pronged fork with a bone handle. Stretched it tight and nailed the bottom too. Used one of Mother’s knitting needles. The gut vampire’s carcass started out flat, but curled in on itself like tightly-rolled parchment as it dried. It’s a first-rate smokehouse—or was.
Dad buried Mother out back beneath the lilacs. He mistrusted morticians. Always worried what those folks did when there wasn’t anyone around. Then Dad used the dead tapeworm as the string in his old washtub bass. He’d play it out on the porch on nights when the moon shone bright and in our living room on nights when it didn’t. It didn’t have a very good tone but it calmed down my older brother, Paul, so that was good.
Paul’s brain seemed to operate on a different set of instructions than the rest of us. He would often fall prey to a kind of darkness that has nothing to do with nightfall.

As for the music, I played along on a toy guitar that was just my size. It had four strings but still sounded fine as frog’s hair. I’d strum away while Dad sang songs he made up on the spot. Some bawdy, some mournful; and him always plucking the tapeworm that’d killed his wife, crafting rustic, mystical lullabies for the children she left behind. Paul would rock on his haunches and try to hum along. And Sadie, the baby of the family, a year and a half old back then, would hold up both hands, wanting to touch something, anything, everything. And she would smile at me as if we shared some great secret joke.

Find out more about Clive, his little sister, Sadie, and their bizarre life experiences (including his violent grudge against his former best friend, Zedro) in "Four Houses Down, on the Bad Side of Town" reprinted in Now Playing in Theater B. Ordering link is above.