out of the ashes

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Epilogue


      As stories go, as life sometimes allows, the loose ends of the journey unraveled and then wove themselves into a tapestry that was marvelous to look upon, although not entirely beautiful.
      Gerald’s addiction was in the end his downfall.  His marksmanship was sure, even though ripples in the air between the barrel of his rifle and the body of John Delilah spelled the final failed outcome of his assignment...

      Marvin looked down the path, down the hill a hundred paces.  Another young woman stood, smiling, expectant, radiant.  Her hair was blonde, her eyes were diamonds, and she wore a golden key on a golden chain that rested over her heart.
      He went to her.

                                                          THE END

I wrote the Epilogue to Marvin (The Dance of the Spiral Virgins) a year ago this summer. I think I had just finished rereading A.S. Byatt's powerful and Mann/Booker winning novel Possession. Her Postscript 1868 sums up the fate of Matthew Ash years after having met Christabel. Having in Postscript come across the daughter he knew, but could never know. The circumstances, the short scene, is moving in such a profound way that I go back to it regularly, just for the magnificence and sadness of it.

Ms. Byatt did not write "The End" following the last line. I did in Dance. In a way I wish this were the only dissimilarity between the two books. I wish, for instance, that I had the power and courage to describe a field, using ten pages to do it. Okay, several pages. When you leave that field you KNOW every flower, every blade of grass, every breeze that courses across it, every rock that lies hidden, or looming like a tower in front of you. And you are weary of commas, lol.

I am moved and inspired by the force of words, the images they are able to convey in the hands of a master of the language. They infect me, sometimes for days on end. Many books have done that to me, but none with such force as Possession.

I must admit, too, that I was thinking of the ending credits scene from the brilliant movie, A Fish Called Wanda. The fates of the variously remarkable characters--Kevin Kline covered in cement hanging onto the window of the jet. In that summation, everything turned out for the best and brought a huge smile to my face. It hit me back then as I was considering my book's ending that perhaps I would take Marvin to Washington D.C. to straighten out the quagmire of politics there in some outrageous way...

But Marvin's story was different, although the wrapping up of the story was upbeat in an ironic way. Much different than the original draft's conclusion. It was my emotional response to Postscript 1868. The entire summation might be the best I've ever done, or will ever do. At any rate, the last two words I wrote were THE END, and I am proud of what I accomplished preceding it.









Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chapter 4

Marvin has fallen out of a dumpster onto his head. The expert medical team has patched him up, and he  is on the mend. He keeps telling the nurses and doctors that an angel continually appears in his room, floating by the window...

A portion of 4


Four

The hospital room was dark that evening except for the glow of the monitors on the wall above Marvin’s head. Anselm had entered and stood beside him, not a fleeting vision colored light and dark, but solid, like a ship emerging from a thick fog bank. Not across the room by the windows, either, but close enough to reach down and touch the patient. The angel spoke.
 “Who are you?”
The voice awakened Marvin, and when he saw Anselm his bleary eyes blew wide open.  
“Ho-ly Shit!”
Grabbing the top of the sheet with both hands, he yanked it up over his nose, but stopped short of his eyes. He trembled as he gazed up.  The eyes of the creature—not two, but many, spinning in its face like spokes in a wheel. Oh yes, it had a nose, a narrow nose, Marvin could see, now that whatever it was was so near—and a mouth, or several it seemed, that shifted up and down in a peculiar, disarming way when it spoke. A broken, shifting image, like one from an Edison Kinetoscope.
“Who are you?” Anselm asked again.
“I…dunno’,” Marvin stammered. “A dead man I’m guessin’. You come to take me away?  Holy shit.”
Anselm leaned close to Marvin’s face and continued speaking. Marvin’s heart beat wildly as he listened, and after a moment he lost consciousness—but the words entered his bruised brain and stuck.   
She is here, and we are watching her…
She is waiting for you…
This is what you will do...

Marvin was released two days later, but not without exclamations of professional astonishment, and not without a strong suggestion to consult a psychiatrist. First off, his wound had healed completely. That in itself brought every neurosurgeon, orthopedic specialist, oncologist, gynecologist, ornithologist, nurse, priest, psychic, and patient on the ward, to examine him and scratch their heads. 
His continued ramblings about an angel brought in a team of shrinks who explained the miraculous healing in terms of  “…an extreme acceleration of the processes of organic repair due to hypnotic intervention.”
“I can assure you,” the hospital administrator answered, “no one here would resort to such quackery.”
“Munchausen Syndrome, then,” came the response from a bespectacled psychiatrist, a tiny man who hung far back in the crowd, and who had peeked out and raised his hand as though he were back in a classroom in Vienna.
“You idiot, I saw his brain! That was no exaggeration on his part,” said the head surgeon who had gently stuffed Marvin’s brain back into his fractured skull before calling out for staples and gauze that night he was brought in.
“Oh.”
Whatever happened, he’s not leaving before he pays the four hundred thousand dollar bill,” exclaimed the hospital administrator.  Everyone except Marvin seemed to agree with that, all of them being medical professionals.
Marvin promised to try, and when they had all wandered off arguing amongst themselves, he dressed in his bloodstained rags and snuck out to return to the quiet and comfort of his pit beneath the dock. He felt very different, uncommonly happy, and very sleepy again.

                                           *

“This is the woman?” Anselm asked Roget.
“Yes.”
They stood watching as Amy set the dripping glazed bowl into the wire holder atop the counter next to the sink. Through the small, south-facing window above the sink, a soft light poured in, brightening the edges of the aqua curtains and the tile counter top. A robin flitted to a perch on the feeder outside, twisted its head several times quickly, then flew away. She glanced over at where it had been, then gathered her purse from the table behind her, looped the strap over her shoulder, and left the apartment.
“More beautiful even than the image in his dreams.”
“Quite. As these creatures go, at least.”
“What do we know of her? Where did they meet?” Anselm asked.
“Don’t know yet. Inconsequential, at any rate, I think.” 
Roget told of her dreams, and of a family in a city east of Denver. Her income, her quiet life here, her anxiety of late concerning a boss. 
“The point is they’ve crossed paths, I’m certain of that, and now we have to twist them back toward that intersection. It’s remarkable, isn’t it?” Anselm said.
“What is that?”
“The very different worlds they inhabit.”
“Indeed. How is he?”
“Resting. Dreaming. Drawing a plan, though he doesn’t realize it yet. Stay close to her, my friend. I have some work to do while he regains his senses.”
“And his injury?”
“A distant memory.”

(c) Patrick Sean Lee-2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

Patrick Lee

As of November of last year I could no longer be Patrick Lee. At first that made me a bit sad. After all, I've been him since April 20, 1948. But why, you ask, can I no longer be just plain old Patrick Lee?
Well, I write, and as of November of last year I entered the marketplace with a 10,000 word story I'd written earlier that year, "Dear Diary, A Journal From Hell". It went up at Amazon. I was stunned in December (2011) and January (2012) by its sales ( No, I haven't quit my day job yet), and it continues to sell--though I have a ways to go before joining Mark Helprin or Stephen King...or Patrick Lee.

Patrick Lee. Admittedly, I haven't read any of his books--one at least hit the NY Times Bestseller list--but I have no doubt that he is an excellent writer. Publisher's Weekly gave the book a glowing review. That says a lot about a writer's ability. But perusing his titles, I can say pretty confidently that we write in very different genres; probably styles as well.

Even though he stole my name (wink)--well, he was at Amazon first--I do thank him, because we seem to get "linked" with my now several books when I search...me. I'm not at all offended by the mix up. Like I said, I'm rather grateful.

For any of you interested, and without his written or even verbal permission, I'd like to post his website address. Not that I want you to compare writing--I'm still rather humble in that department--but just to give him a plug. We can all use those.

http://www.patrickleefiction.com/

Speaking of reviews, I'm going to submit The Dance to Kirkus for a paid review. An impartial, professional assessment, good or bad. If it's bad, I probably won't use it in promotions, lol...but God knows I think the book is excellent. I worked long and hard on it. If it's good, I can take it and run like hell to that agent and say, "See, didn't I tell ya'?"

Should you see this, Patrick Lee (the younger), I'd like your opinion. Good or bad (you seem well-educated), I promise to read at least one of yours and review it in return. Not tit for tat; you don't know me from Adam, and vice-versa :) Good writing is good writing. A good story is still a good story, no matter the genre preference of the reader.

I wonder if someplace way, way back there our ancestors might have been from the same family over in Ireland? Whereas my great, great, great Uncle Seamus leaned toward the literary/fantasy romance style (who would that have been? Yeats maybe?), your great, great, great (add one more great) Uncle Patrick might have been more inclined to enjoy thrillers. Perhaps the stuff by that Englishman, the author of Hamlet?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Dance of Patrick and the Spiral Virgins


It’s up! It’s not yet available in print, but in another few days it will be, and as I said at Facebook, I’m so proud of it. 
Erik is going to create a webpage for me for my author status; I need one, and I’m admittedly an idiot when it comes to computer technology. I’m going to have to shout pretty loudly in order to let, not just my faithful friends, but the world know that Marvin is waiting to delight them. He was, character-speaking, my first child, having been born as he was in a short book I wrote in the early 80s, lol. Just a bum in that one. There was something about him though. A possibility, and so I resurrected him and gave him an impossible quest. This time around I surrounded him with a wondrous supporting cast, and oh my God did I bleed in order to get the book just right. I’m STILL not entirely satisfied with my crucial opening chapter (number ten thousand, I swear), but I achieved what needed to be achieved…get him into the hospital so that he could meet Anselm, the angel, in an environment that smelled real, and through his unconsciousness, get him into the dream of Amy. Thus could begin his quest, watched over by the angel.

One of my major successes in writing the book was Chapter Nine. I’ll share a portion of it with you here. Trish and Cherilyn were working with me at the time, and for whatever reason, my muse came to full birth.
Marvin is out of the hospital, out of the clutches of a cop who wanted to arrest him for vagrancy (he’d seen Amy downtown earlier, and had come back to wait for her to pass…). In a flash of inspiration he has decided to go to The Salvation Army and clean up, and then go steal some decent clothes so that the next time he sees Amy...:)



Chapter Nine


           Marvin returned later that day with a new sense of purpose to the place he loathed more than the inside of any confessional.  The Salvation Army Mission on Tenth Avenue and Bannock.  It was only six blocks away from Civic Center Park, and had many years ago been a large private residence covering two full-sized city lots, plus another fifty feet on one side where lawn and flowerbeds and Weeping Willow trees grew in wild abandon. The Army had purchased it a dozen years ago after the eccentric widow—a certain Mrs. Maybelle Stump who maintained it like a macabre Hollywood movie set—finally left the world for supernatural parts unknown.
           An hour after sitting through the reading of the will, her smiling heirs promptly threw it into the hands of a real estate broker, who promptly threw it out to the public listed as “…one of Denver’s finest, charming old haunted houses, with a view of the Pacific.”  He meant Rockies.
             No one of the Army believed in ghosts, although they were certain, to a Major, that God existed, that He had a Son, and that the Son desired them to buy and renovate the ramshackle dwelling (the home of rats and spiders and cockroaches…and ghosts).  They were intrigued, also, by the promise of a stunning ocean view from the west-facing balcony.
           The overgrown lawn, the trees that bent their limbs clear to the ground, and the weed-infested flowerbeds disappeared soon after the new spiritual owners got their hands on the deed. The dilapidated wrought iron fence encircling the corner lot was ground up into a huge rusty ball and carted off to the dump.  Inside, moldy carpet was whisked away revealing solid oak floors beneath.  A host of memory-laden doors with children’s names etched into the jamb edges and on the six inch-wide casings were treated to sledgehammers, and then lugged away in splinters.  Lathe and plaster walls fell in storms of dust, and in their place a grand central dining/gospel room emerged, complete with speckled linoleum tiles that an army (so to speak) of indigents could not possibly damage. 
           And an unornamented wooden pulpit.
           The pulpit stood imperially, despite its plainness, dead center of the room at one end, between a pair of grand windows that had once belonged separately to two of the six bedrooms of the house, before the wall dividing them was unceremoniously removed.  A King James Version of the Bible sat prominently on the top of the pulpit, and it was opened and read from by the major in charge of those souls whose bellies he and his staff had just filled—three times each day.  The same as any of the great preachers of old would have done in his stead.
           The issue for Marvin: If you were here in the cafeteria, you were obliged to listen to the word of God—and it sometimes included the dreaded book of…
                                                          Numbers!
…wherein, “…of the children of…” quickly lost all meaning, except for biblical scholars and genealogy sleuths, of which very, very few sat in the folding chairs in front of the Major.  It did not seem to bother the Major during any of these readings that the snoring was often louder than the spoken word of the Almighty.

           Marvin tactfully entered the front doors at 4:45 p.m.  The Men’s shower would most likely be silent, and another hour would pass before the dinner bell rang.  All he needed to do was slide down the long hall to the admissions desk, wink at Ms. Garcia (who, he imagined, would be manning her post behind it until the Lord either returned, or said phooey to the whole Second Coming idea), and show her how filthy he was.  That would be easy enough.  Despite his feelings for the mission in general, he had always gotten on marvelously with the attractive little woman.  A few times, too marvelously.  Though he knew she was quite…no, somewhat religious (A Roman Catholic, of all things, he discovered during the second season of his stay), she sometimes let her tongue slip while working away at the desk behind the counter.  He caught her muttering one day—a colorful expletive in four letters.  F-Major.  The bond between them was born at that instant, and in those leaden days, when fools roamed the halls expounding on every stupid thing under the sun, he visited her at her station frequently for reality checks.  Duets of questionable grammatical taste that began andante, and when he was lucky, ended adagio sensuoso.
           He liked her.

(c) Patrick Sean Lee, 2012