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Jack Haringa, [ profile] mssrcrankypants, I like you but your time has come to kiss it all goodbye...

(inspired by and all the other entries)

“How’ve you been, man? We’ve only met four times so I don’t exactly know you well enough to worry about you in any terrified or nailbiting fashion, but I know you’ve been through enough health issues and loss that I care about your well-being in a way that I don’t for most mere acquaintances who I happen to like and whose blogs I read.”

“Geoffrey, you’re socially awkward.”

“Yeah. Congrats on everyone loving your story in Bandersnatch.”

“Um, yeah. Thanks.”

“I always feel weird because when we first met we hit it off really well because we’d read and liked so many of the same books but then I promised to write you an essay on Jack Ketchum and then I didn’t write it because nonfiction suddenly became impossible. I tend to be a person of my words. I don’t leave my apartment lately because the world is crumbling and fragmenting, but my own words -- not the big ones that spin out of my mouth when I’ve tried to talk to you about literary theory and you've so disagreed -- have always seemed reasonably solid. Meaning, form and content, those are malleable, but words themselves...”

“You’re odd and you prattle. You vanish into ethers because ethers are all you know and all you deserve. You talk at people like you’re hosting a public access tv show. It’s not even real conversation. You might be way into the Decadents and Ligotti but you make no sense when you prattle. I picked up on that early on…”

“I really like Dead Reckonings too but I can’t offer to review stuff for it because I’m just not doing the nonfiction thing with any success. It confuses me. I can’t seem to get stories off the ground unless I get to make parts up. And reviews always get in the way of knowing people. It’s so hard to have a long conversation with a writer when you start by telling them that you’ve never liked their writing and that the reason that they’re a hack is because everything they’ve ever believed in should be eviscerated.”

“Do you always go on and on about how everything leaves you confused and that you’re obsessed with destruction and death?”

“Pretty much, Jack. It’s all I have to offer the world. That and book recommendations. The kinship I feel with you is that you’re bright and well-read, and also into horror. Back when Shocklines was worth checking three times a day, I figured you and I did a smidge of good by educating the meatheads about the literature that’s not aimed toward their lowest common denominators.”

“Seems like you waste a lot of energy carrying on and on about things you can't control. What else have you been up to?”

“I still drink way too much coffee and spend hours glaring at strangers. The bookstore takes up most of the time that I should be spending writing. And I surf the Net too much. I get dragged into creating weird silly wordplay things when I should be working on actual writing. By the way, the new Nine Inch Nails album, Ghosts I-IV, is the best album in years for wandering around and glaring at strangers.”

“I teach high school near Worcester.”

“Oh, I know. Teaching struck me as a real job, so I fled after one semester. A kid called the bookstore about a month ago and needed Nick Mamatas’ Under My Roof and Nick told me it was for your class and I thought of you. Didn’t get in touch or anything, you know, just thought of you inside my head and hoped you were well.”

“We should get together, go out for nachos or something. Maybe at ReaderCon.”

“Totally. I always go to ReaderCon. Necon scares me too much. I don’t know where my life goes. Why doesn’t everyone read good books? Books that communicate more than wish-fulfillment and escape?”

“You’re boring me. I have to go do things and other stuff.”

“No, I’m sorry, Jack. There’s a point, pardon the pun, to all of this and we’ve had enough fun. I have to poke you in the eye with this large knitting needle now. It’s not something that makes sense; it just has to be done. It’s not personal. It’s, um, the opposite of that Fergie song – even though I’m thrusting a thin metal rod into your face, aiming for nonexpendable areas of your brain tissue, it’s all rather detached. I’m blameless on this whole shindig and I’m not a big girl now.”

“Argh! Ah. This pain is unmappable.”

“Bye, Jack. I hope your death is either really quick or slow enough that you get to hang around for years but this whole ‘knitting needle into your eye thing’ wasn’t my idea. I mean, I’m the one who decided to pop you in the cornea with a semi-sharp metal tube, but please blame all the other people who've killed you today. Everybody’s doing it and we're all going to feel strangely guilty if you actually die today. It’s not my fault that the world is a horrible place. I promise to live in shallows, regrets and could’ve beens… I’m not a bad person. I’ve always been a pacifist.”

“Uguh, agaah. Tell my wife I love her.”


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May 2009

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