OK. I have no idea what that means. I just want to get this thing rolling. Somehow, in some way, I am writing this at 11 PM on Sunday the 27th because I worked today at the plant. For eleven hours. Go figure. I went to bed last night expecting to dream of Erica the blonde pharmacist at Walgreen’s who makes certain I’m not skipping my bipolar meds (and maybe that’s a hint for me to ask her out, the fact that I’m taking my meds in a timely way). Thinking to myself, yea, rainy day Sunday, write the essay, work on the comic, nap, dream of Erica ,alternate between reading George Pelecanos and Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space…then the phone rang at 7 AM. And that was that. I’m going to get through this now, then flop down and most likely dream the entire 108 minutes of CARNIVAL OF SOULS within an hour of waking up (all the better to feel like complete roadkill when I dream that early in the morning; I can’t have dreams about zombies that make me get up at 3 AM and urinate like the average person…)
Stalkers. A few weeks back, I mentioned to the SU group that I received an odd comment on one of my SU entries from 2007. I good-naturedly asked if anyone in the group had ever dealt with stalkers, or, what years ago might have been called “hangers on.” Well, one person I had never heard of was mentioned, and I again realized how out of the loop I am these days. I never even heard of the individual. I won’t mention her/his name because I am told she/he Googles her/himself regularly. I do the same, and somehow when I hit page 73, my name shows up alongside the phrase “sailor moon hentai penguins,” but there you have it. But there are many different ways to encounter the crazies that are crazier than we are, and I’m here to recount several instances of people who spend too much time up on Hard Rock Candy Mountain.
I have participated in book signings at several locations here, the Printers Row Book Fair, the TwilightTales readings at the Red Lion, and at the late, lamented The Stars, Our Destination. Before I tell you about the “it doesn’t matter” girl, I will say that I once had a man come up to me at Stars to have me sign a copy of SPLATTERPUNKS. The guy showed interest in wanting to co-write a story with me, then told me he had never read a story of mine and did not know who I was. All this before I even finished signing the book or spoke a single word. The kicker is that the guy had an old-timey plaster cast on his arm, the fuzz was coming out of the thumb area, and this oozy stuff like melted mac and cheese was caking to the book as I handed it to him. He tried to make further conversation in the cramped book aisles, and I recall sticking my finger in my ear and pretending to be receiving messages from the mother ship. Never saw the guy again, but I still recall that mac and cheese, which is why I likely will eat a bug before I open up macaroni.
The “it doesn’t matter” girl is another Stars story, though the origins starts about a year earlier. My chapbook PAINGRIN was published in 1993, and one night I received a call from *ahem* Stanislaus Darnbrook Colson Tal Emerson Lake & Palmer. He wanted to pass on the contents of a letter from some woman who lived in nearby Skokie, was deeply moved by my diary entries, and he gave me her phone number. Well, I had seen Griffin Dunne in AFTER HOURS, I should have known better. We talked a bit, she wanted to have lunch, it was a Friday during the summer, I thought what, I mean, WHAT could it hurt to meet her? She gave me an address off Clark and Kinzie. I’m thinking its that German restaurant now demolished. I see a big green building with no sign, no windows. Maybe it’s a trendy place with a side door, a back entrance. The sign to be read from the bridge or the elevated train. It was a methadone clinic. She comes out with this giant-size sippy cup of, I guess, methadone, and we go off jauntily to have lunch and run into her drug-addled friends. I’m thinking, boy, I am screwed. She is introducing me like I’m Jeremy Piven and she’s Drew Barrymore, only more like if her eyes were made of glass and made me think of John Barrymore, lying in a coffin with a sippy cup stuck to his embalmed lip. At one point, she went on the nod and I blew town.
She found me. Hell, she knew my name. It’s not like I use the name Vinnie Cthulhu or Mitchum Marlboro Spartacus. So I’m at Stars signing YEAR’S BEST HORROR:XX, and I’m sitting next to my artist friend H. E. Fassl. She waves, Harry says “who she?” and I mutter “it doesn’t matter it doesn’t matter it doesn’t matter” before she shows up and slurs surprisingly coherent sentences to me. She started attending conventions, mostly hanging out with the goth crowd, and ended up becoming good friends with Karl Edward Wagner that last year of his life. I was at Yvonne Navarro’s house, one of her VonCons, when she called to tell me Karl had died. Then she went to live with R. Chetwynd-Hayes.
But there is one guy I have never been able to shake, going on twenty years now. He has three names, as most serial killers do, and, well, yea, me, too. I first met him when I worked at a comics shop on Archer Avenue, and he was all into MK-ULTRA and mind control–the in thing for the summer of 1991, evidently–and he also told me that he worked on computer programs overseas. Being 1991, and being me, I thought he was designing the new Ms. Pac-Man. Then he started showing up at, yes, Stars Our Destination, and, yes, Printers Row, and then I’d get off the subway and walk above ground and he’d be riding by on his bicycle, fer cry-eye! This last did indeed happen, and I began to question my very reality. Phil Dick was alive and well and was writing about my life.
I didn’t see him for months, and then he showed up at a TwilightTales reading. He explained in whispers that he had not been around because he had been working as a military contractor in Iraq. I couldn’t pretend I was getting transmissions from the mother ship with this guy, because he was piloting the damn mother ship! I sent Mort Castle a photo of this guy, who is in the background off a photo of Mort and I at World Horror 02 here in Chicago. Remind Mort it’s the guy in the bright green lei, trying desperately to get in on our conversation.
I saw him two summers ago at Clark and Belmont simply because I chose to walk on the wrong side of the street, or so Phil Dick would want me to believe, and I was able to brush him off fairly quickly, as he did know I had a certain time frame to get my last el train home. Oh, I forgot to mention the time he walked into The Gallery Bookstore and I hid behind the stack of recent acquisitions until he passed by and I could sneak out.
So those are my tales, my anecdotes, what have you. I’m certain there are other tales to be told, by some of you reading this, hopefully by nobody Googling this. Hell, someone might come across this entry simply by typing in ‘hentai penguins.’
Until next time.
Wayne Allen Sallee
Burbank, Illinois 28 April 2008