I don’t have an excerpt at the ready for food poisoning, so this is the next best thing:
Then I fell ill and found myself in no mood to work, beyond the fact that two-thirds of my current teachers were condescending. I became so preoccupied with my illness and ill feelings that I completely forgot about the report I was supposed to do for Psychology. I never went to the library to get books on homosexuality; never explored the subject at all. All of a sudden one morning she asked for us to turn in our papers and I had absolutely nothing to show.
Three hours horizontal and my evil alarm clock will ring, though these days I’m friends with it. Monstrous isn’t my first piece of writing that my publisher didn’t approve of. In high school I wrote a piece while a member of the “Sweeney Gazette” in which an alarm clock gets smashed to bits, and it was this piece, after blissful months, that made me realize our paper had censors.
Forty-seven means I can now say that I’m in my late forties, but do I also get to say I’m pushing fifty?
I spent that night like I always spent, walking to Ballard this time, and the whole time going I was marveling to myself, “I’m twenty-one years old…” Carefully walking the outside edge of a stretch of railroad tracks; stopping to look at mannequins in a department store window and attempting to outstare them; coming across a pin-up of the enigmatic Michael Jackson, and trying to outstare him as well. Sitting off the side of the road at the halfway point of my walk, blandly watching the comings and goings at the nearby Seven-Eleven.
I thought while I sat there that maybe I’d buy a beer. What else were you supposed to do on your twenty-first birthday but buy alcohol? But I didn’t really want to do that. I fancied myself to have wanted to remain fully conscious all the days of my life thus far, and if ever there was a day when I wanted to remain aware, this one was it.
Way the hell down to the waterfront, and after that short sitting, I took the long walk home.
Where do they come from? Serial killers Robert Pickton and Ted Bundy are purported to have had them, and I’m afraid that I have one as well if I don’t shoot up psychologically in advance.
Basically I think it’s because the handshake is just so absurd, and the less allied among us with humanity are more resistant to that absurdity. You’re saying, if what we’re about to do makes any sense at all, that you want us both to demonstrate that we’re not carrying weapons, that it’s never occurred to anyone that a person could be left-handed or switch to their left situationally if it conferred to them an advantage, and that we’re supposed to show that we mean each other no harm by placing ourselves mutually in the starting position for a nifty judo move? The more absurd the better from the standpoint of society, which historically would also have us wear the silliest hats imaginable, through which we could prove our commitment to being a part of a group by showing that we would do anything, and I do mean anything, in order to be accepted as members.
Fake it till you make it, or lie until you believe it, is the principle involved by which handshakes begin to feel natural, for everyone feels weird about them when they’re starting out. Those who ally with the power to be found in numbers will willingly pass through ‘fake it’ to reach the other side, but like Kasparov against The World in a fair fight game of chess, I have personally always felt that my Truth against their numbers was a mismatch in my favor, so my distastes for absurdity and dishonesty have generally been enough to at least dampen the enthusiasm of my right arm and hand.
Pickton and Bundy met their vigorous squeezers and shakers as suspected or known extreme adversaries on opposite sides of the law. Bundy’s match in particular revealingly admitted that he didn’t want to shake Ted’s hand but felt he had to do it. He faked it, and made it, like a real man, lying like a rug through his fingers. Ted didn’t want to shake the cop’s hand either, but guess what– he didn’t. All he did was dangle his right arm out there, like a dead fish.
Today I have been cued by seeing the words “The ‘I’ Inside” being used by one of my Guessing Game guessers. He’s the only one in the group who has read my book and it gave me a start to imagine that he might have been referencing it in front of the others, in front of those whose undying love for me might depend on their never reading Monstrous. But it turns out this is the title of both a movie and a book (no relation), that the book predates my use of the concept, and anyhow in Monstrous it really appears as “the ‘I’ who lives inside”, though at first I didn’t realize that his usage and mine weren’t verbatim.
Took a little detour and poured through the reviews of Alan Dean Foster’s book to see if I had competition, and by the criteria I’ve been using of late, no, I did not, despite his book’s five-star average on eleven customer reviews. Mine was in somebody’s favorite three while his was in somebody’s twenty, and most of Foster’s reviewers who weighed in on the subject didn’t even think that “The I Inside” was his personal best.
Will I be doomed if I go through the reviews associated with Foster’s best according to his readers, whatever that turns out to be? Maybe…maybe not…but I’m shaking in my shoes for when it comes time to match against the one book in this universe whose title sometimes gets confused with my own, namely Final Truth: The Autobiography of a Serial Killer. It’s mortifying/thrilling to see my “But for the Grace of God” get chopped from time to time, and there was one shining day when my publisher screwed up doubly, truncating my title while listing my book under my real name.
Did I say Terms? I meant Statistically Improbable Phrases .
Some writings found on my desk while rummaging for papers to do with my baseball simulation program-in-progress. If I had only found this draft of marketing copy which just might be better than anything I’ve ever actually used, today’s post would have been set, but then I also found this letter from my late grandpa, dated October 28th, 1990 and addressed to both myself and my wife. Why was this stuff on my desk?
Ladies, gentlemen and hermaphrodites. Independent author Tommy Walker presents his sleeping cult classic but for how long, “Monstrous: The Autobiography of a Serial Killer but for the Grace of God”, the subtle true story of a nice boy turned stalker who stops and finds love. Ultimately a story about how close you, Constant Reader, came to becoming a serial killer. Available at Amazon .
Reticent: having an understated quality. Just a line to reinforce what I [Grandpa Welch] was telling Hannah about my view of Tommy’s personality. For an example I brought up the time Phil Donahue was in town. Tommy doesn’t want to go. Reason? A photographer would take a picture of the line. And Tommy would be in the picture.
The one thing going on at Amazon that makes Monstrous continue to look like a happening thing is the movement in number of outlets selling used and new copies. Places carrying new ones has up-ticked twice in the last few days, and unless my mind’s been playing tricks, there has also been a sudden drop from eight used copies to six, suggesting actual new readers. One place bought it from another and is trying to unload it in a still-new condition– what’s up with that?
I miss the days of Statistically Improbable Terms. It was thanks to that feature that I learned my book employed the three terms in today’s headline more than any other book out there. Concordance was another fun feature, showing my hundred most common words, though by that measure it looked like Monstrous was less about anything in particular than almost any other book. Other features gone by the wayside showed that I used far less big words than most but made up for it with much longer sentences, and that only seven percent of all books were fatter. This last is one reason I want to go Kindle, so that no one gets intimidated by thickness.
Part-time, but it’s a start.
In Houston I decided to take a nap, as my next ride was several hours in coming. ‘Security’ came to my table and told me, “I’m sorry but this depot is reserved for Trailways customers only and you will have to go.” The man thought I was a bum. Ever so slowly and self-righteously peeved, though I kept my snobbery concealed, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my tattered month pass. Man went, “Oh” and let me be.
Scored most of a bucket of leftover movie popcorn to help me unwind this evening. I know just the excerpt to commemorate this pleasant surprise.
Usually for the first twenty to thirty minutes of listening for God’s arrival, we’d have this beautiful unbroken silence. But then we’d have some yokel getting moved by The Spirit and ruining everything, standing up and talking all purply poetic. The Spirit having run its course, whoever had risen would sit back down and we’d have another silent stretch. As with heating a batch of popcorn, where the pops come closer together the further along you get in the process, toward the end it would get so every third minute somebody was getting moved by The Spirit, and my momentum toward Realization would be shattered once again before I could recapture the completeness of my former silent state. [page 270]
Friends church (Quaker) silent meetings.
Occurs to me that tonight I met a birthday girl from Chicago, Illinois.
Lots of kids were down there, and you could hardly tell who the birthday girl was. But later after the crowd had scattered, me and Daniel got to talking to the maiden of honor, a Miss Carol Brobeck from Chicago, Illinois…[page 103]
It appears that she’s a Christmas conception to my New Year’s Eve.
One of the persistent shortcomings of the autobiographical form is that these stories always wind up being the autobiographies of writers, and there is no more boring a person to observe than the consummate observer. The better written the memoir, the more boring the life will be that is being written about. Here’s a section of Monstrous that expands upon an earlier line revealed, where I tried to fake out the reader:
Got myself into a pickle which was a page right out of the Stephen King novella, “The Body”, or movie adaptation “Stand By Me”.
At the point where my dirt path ended, I was faced with two ways of getting past a small lake surrounded by bushes, discounting the option of swimming and getting wet. One was across a bridge of railroad tracks. The other was to go the hell away around, and however far that was I had no idear. I sat there and did calculations.
“How often does a train really come?”
“Not very often, I think.”
Because it was a fairly short bridge and not that high above water for if worse came to worst, I decided to go for it. Bolted across, and jumped off the tracks. Collapsing into spasms of aliveness.
That ‘idear’, by the way, is colloquially correct, but anyhow, what makes this passage so lame is how short “fairly short” really was in comparison to the bridge in Stand By Me. I’ve been dreading the day that some crazed fan decides to re-trace the steps of my journey and goes out searching for the bridge I must have crossed on my way to Mount Rainier.
The real risk factor involved in this crossing was a big, fat zero. There was NO WAY I wouldn’t have had time to cross this bridge if I heard a train coming. I managed an authentic reaction to surviving the bogus danger because the highly theoretical elements of possible danger were in place, and I had a fertile imagination.
- The Spirit of Dennis Rader
- My Friend Dahmer
- Not Much to Say
- Only the Shadow Knows
- Jagged Breathing and All
- Talking Cows
- Colin Flaherty of ‘White Girl Bleed a Lot’
- What the Heck to Call This Thing, and
- I Can See Two Starbucks at the Same Time
- I Love Trolls
- I Ended Up Reading the Book Twice
- Coming Up With a Title– The MONSTROUS by WALKER Show