Among the artifacts were a few scribbled notes and I recognized the handwriting. Chris McLaren was a film major who worked for us in the early ’80’s, a skinny kid who wore black clothes and spiked hair and had an intense interest in Alistair Crowley, Roman Polanski, the Illuminati and role playing games. Even when you were face to face with him he seemed to be staring at you slightly askance from around some corner only he could see.
That’s from Rick Bowes‘ short story “The Office of Doom”, into which I got my name inserted. Except for the “skinny” bit it’s actually pretty plausible.
One of the characters bears my name because I won one of the prizes in this year’s Shirley Jackson Awards lottery.
“People like her and you are like the limbic system of this place,” he said. “You know how in our brains behind all the recent flashy developments that gave us stuff like emotions and aesthetics and cosmic awareness there’s this lizard brain. It’s what makes the heart beat and what stays alert to odd noises and sudden movements in the dark while we sleep. Don’t wonder where the dinosaurs went, there’s a bit of one inside each of us.”
“So Mrs. Rossi and I are ancient lizards?”
“Yeah man. You’re The Old Ones and it’s cool.”
I could actually say that. Both the “limbic system” bit and the “Old Ones” bit. Nice.
So, you should get a copy of that anthology–and not just for my name, or Rick’s story; there’s lots of good stuff in there2.
My luck was apparently working on draw day, as this wasn’t the only prize I won. I also scored a signed book from Cherie Priest, and the item that actually originally drew my attention to the lottery.
If you’ve been reading here for a while it won’t be a surprise that I’m a pretty big fan of Jeff Ford’s writing. I’m not sure what I’ll do with his retired keyboard, but since it’s the one that was used to write The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque, The Girl in the Glass, The Shadow Year, The Empire of Ice Cream and The Drowned Life, it’s going to have some value to me. Hell, two of those novels are among my favourite books.
Jeff’s going to sign it, maybe I’ll make a little display–print up the text from his blog post and put it with the books on a shelf or something. It can be another mini shrine like my Bertrand Russell one and my Alan Moore one.
I’m certainly not going to use the residue of creativity and frustration that the keyboard is surely steeped in, along with that wooden pistol Old Tom hand-whittled for ghost-hunting, the hash pipe Freya Stark brought back from Alamut, and a certain very old book bound in what’s frankly a very dodgy leather, in some kind of arcane syncretic ritual designed to move the zeitgeist in a particular direction.
Because that would just be ridiculous.