Thursday, January 19, 2012

Life Beyond the Minimum Safe Distance Episode 1: The Submerging of Billy Stanton's Cavalier

"Episode?" You ask.

Yes, Episode! 

This is part one of what will hopefully be a somewhat regular (hell, as regular as I can manage to actually get out) piece on my blog. It's about life. Life and the funny fucking things that can and have happened to me. And no, I'm not wise enough to have come up with my own title. As a diehard Matthew Good fan, I borrowed one of my favorite song titles from him. And I think the title's totally appropriate given Good's lyrics are often ironic, bitter, funny, and about the really stupid things that happen so much on this weird little ball of dirt flying around the sun. Obviously, the subtitle's mine, though. So, without further ado, let's get on with it, shall we?

The Submerging of Billy Stanton's Cavalier

I'd just turned 18, so this was roughly around 1996. I had been playing guitar and singing in bands for years. Mostly alternative rock stuff, yatta yatta. I had just started singing for this band. I only knew one of the guys very well and really not even that well. Had tried out maybe a week before hand and  got the spot. I went to hang out with one of the guitarists, Billy. Billy's garage is where the band played. He lived with his parents and although we were both over 16, neither one of us had our licenses (I didn't get mine until I was 19, laugh all you want). Billy, however, had his permit.

So, anyway, I come over--hell, I don't even remember how I got there, but I get there and he introduces me to John. John's an older guy in his early twenties at the time. He's pretty clean cut compared to Billy and I with our long black hair and our band t-shirts and all that good jazz. So, Billy and John decide to teach me how to play Magic: The Gathering. (Yes, I am nerd and proud!) So, we play a few games and it's going all right. Seems interesting. Then we get the idea to go for a drive. Billy's good friends with the members of the only other metal band in the tri-county area, so let's go say hey. Since John's over 21, we decide for Billy to drive his Cavalier. He has his permit and John can ride in the passenger seat and I'll sit in the back.

So, when we leave it's already dark. Apparently we were going to the singer's house. Kurt was a pretty awesome singer, so I was intrigued to meet him. But he lived out in the backwoods south of Cloverdale, Indiana (which if you've ever been to Cloverdale, Indiana you know the town is practically backwoods on its own). In fact, he lived not far from where I set the story I wrote for the free Halloween Anthology I was in last year. Hell, I even set it in the same year. Weird...

So, we're driving along State Road 42 in Bill's little sporty black Cavalier (about as sporty as a Cavalier can get), listening to Type O Negative on CASSETTE, and it's dark and that road is the shittiest, curviest, hilliest road ever, let me tell you. To this day, I've not driven a curvier, hillier, shittier road and I've driven in some crazy ass places. Anyway, we come to what is the last point before a downward hill and the bridge that sits over Cataract Lake and right before the hill is this ROAD CLOSED sign.

Okay, most folks would have turned around here, right? Wellllll.... if you live in, have lived in, or have ever spent any decent amount of time on the road in Indiana, you are probably aware that out of all 50 states, it is numero uno when it comes to road construction. Often, especially in these little backwoods areas that look like something out of Friday the 13th part 87, people just go around them and think nothing of it, because they're typically only there to keep the majority off the road.

Come to find out there was another sign there... covered in high grass thanks to some asshole who decided not to mow his jungle of a yard. The sign said HIGH WATER.

So, we go along and, like I said, it's dark. And if you've ever been on State Road 42 in the middle of Owen County, Indiana in the dark, you really do know what pitch-fucking-black looks like because there are no stop lights, no street lights, nothing but the very, very clear stars in the sky to light your way. Oh, and of course there's your headlights. Yeah well, we go downhill and before we know anything of what's going on...


The fastest two seconds of my life... EVER.

Now, what I'm about to tell you is what happened in that very short period of time. And most of it was figured out afterward as it was pieced together piece by fucking piece:

First, the headlights hit the high water that was 30 fucking feet above the bridge that was usually over 100 feet above the water and reflected the road below us. So when we hit, it looked like more road in front of us.

The second we hit the water, somehow, somehow, Bill opens his door and keeps the car from pressurizing. I'm in the backseat of a two door car and somehow, again, somehow I got out, Bill claims before him, but I could swear we got out at the same time.

John... panics! Come to find out, he doesn't know how to swim and he has a phobia of water! He sits there in the car, water up to his neck slapping his hands at the water and completely freaking out. Bill's about 5 feet tall, thin as a wire and about as muscular as a squirrel and he reaches across the front seat, grabs John with one hand, and pulls him out of the car. I can honestly confirm that the human body can do shit it wasn't meant to do when someone has an adrenaline rush; I saw it with my own eyes. And John's still alive to this day to prove it.

Then, the car toppled upside down in the water and sank.

Bill is crying and laughing at the same time and pointing pitifully out toward the water at his sinking car. We're all drenched and standing in waist-high water. John is yelling over and over again that a part of him was left in the car. Bill, still laughing and crying, announces, "Well, John, I'm sure as hell not going out there to get it back!"

We walk up the road dripping wet and knock on the nearest trailer door. I want to say this was at least 1:00 in the morning by this time, so the lady who lived in that trailer had to either be brave as all hell or had a rifle hiding behind that door when she answered it. Anyway, she let us use the phone to call the police. A fine Cloverdale officer of the law comes out to meet us, eventually. Of course, he checks to make sure we haven't been drinking, no drugs, all the usual jazz. We hadn't. Surprisingly enough for him. Then he wants to see the car.

So, with John in the front seat of the squad car and Billy and I in the back, he edges up to the water--John's grabbing onto the dash like a lifeboat hanging over a waterfall, moaning, and freaking out, and the cop is just nonchalantly waving the spotlight built into the car over the water trying to find the car. I'm pretty sure he didn't believe we even had a car at first. Anyway, then he decides to be a courteous gentleman and drive us to Billy's house. I stayed the night there. (And calmly announced to Bill's mother when she came out wondering what happened and Bill was still in the bathroom that we had, "hit a puddle," being the smart ass that I was and still am. Yes, I actually said that.)

They had to have scuba divers go down and find it the next day. Actual effing scuba divers. They found it about 30 feet below the bridge if I remember correctly. And yeah, don't quote me on any of these numbers this was 16 years ago. I'm writing this all from memory. 

A few days later, not sure how many, we get to go through the car at the local garage. There were something like several hundreds of dollars worth of Magic cards of John's in the backseat. (I could write a whole other story about John's wife's reaction to that!) So, we're peeling them apart and sticking them against the top of the Cavalier to dry in the sun. (Billy actually kept some of those cards. Years later we would be playing a game of Magic and I could  always tell where one of them was in one of his decks because of the discoloration.)

On a whim, Billy's brother, Rob, decides to eject the tape from the tape deck and come to find out Peter Steele sang the entire album Bloody Kisses to the fishes all night long. The goddamn tape played all the way through to the end... underwater!

So, there it was. Episode 1. You tell me. Was it worth writing out? Should I do more of these? This one will probably be one of the highlights, but I do have more. It's been an odd life. An odd fucking life indeed.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Blog humbug!

So, apparently I'm guilty of absolute blog fail! Thing is, I was never that good at blogging to begin with. I tend to have a sporadic attention span and (example: in the middle of this sentence I actually went to several other webpages including Facebook and a local news page)--wait, what was I saying? Oh yeah, I am the worst blogger ever. Yeah, that was it.

You see I was bad enough before, but now, between freelance editing, Horror For Good, Dead Audio, writing a zombie novella for a collaborative project, writing the sequel to Shining in Crimson, writing a sci-fi/horror/crime novella/novel called Exit Reality, writing, rewriting, editing, and developing a ton of other ideas, and generally trying to have somewhat of a life, I am overloaded just a tad. So, if you get nothing out of this blog post (and unfortunately, that's incredibly likely) you should at least walk away with this in mind: DON'T. FUCKING. OVERLOAD. YOURSELF. I, however, will walk away with nothing. Because, as Darth Vader once said on the forest moon of Endor, "It's too late for me, Son."

In fact, I'll walk away with even less because instead of effing blogging, I could be doing something like editing, reading, or writing!!! I mean sure, I'm writing, but my books aren't sitting around writing themselves, now are they? And while I'm writing in my blog, I believe it's safe to say that I'm not writing them either.

So, with that said, maybe I should actually get around to some kind of point here. Or at least to something interesting.

I suppose I could make some announcements. Everybody likes announcements. Announcements are fun! How about that?

1. I've set a tentative goal for the release of the infamous Book Two (aka Empire of Blood Book Two, the sequel to Shining in Crimson). I'm planning to have it ready to publish by May! (Vague much?) Yes, May of this year, 2012. Yes, that's right. (Wow, I forgot it's 2012 again. Strange. Wait, I'm getting distracted again.)

2. I will be (come hell, high water, or maybe even firenado!) attending the 2012 World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City in March! I'll be there mostly to help represent Horror For Good, but also to drink lots of alcohol and make a complete and terrible fool of myself--I mean to network with other writers, editors, publishers, and readers! So, yeah, if you're gonna be there, hit me up. I'll likely have copies of my books and maybe even some special items to give out here and there.

3. Some people have been waiting on a blog post that I mentioned in my portion of Richard Flores IV's blog post on self-publishing that I would do. I know I was supposed to do it like weeks ago now, but as this post has pointed out, I've been a little busy. I have been working on it though. And really the biggest reason it isn't up already is that in setting out to work on it, its scope kicked my ass and I realized that it would be a multi post endeavor. So, keep a look out for part one of my extensive post on self-publishing to go up sometime soonish.

4. For those of you who don't keep up with Dead Audio, my audio dark fiction zine, sometime in the next few days I will be finally releasing episode two featuring Scott Nicholson's Writers of the Future Gold award-winning short story, The Vampire Shortstop. Also, the zine will be open to flash story submissions for the third episode. Submissions will be open for one week, two to three stories will be selected, and I plan to have it online sometime in February. If you're interested in submitting please read the submission guidelines before sending your story.

So, that covers the announcements, news, etc. Does this mean I'm off the hook now? Can I get back to the incredibly growing pile of things I need to do? No? Entertain you? What am I? Some sort of painted-up, silly clown with really big shoes here to amuse you? If you want entertained go and get yourself a--Oh, wait. I mean, sure, here's something entertaining for you:

Good day, good night, good fun, and all that good jazz. Until next time. (Hopefully it will be this year... :p)