Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Butcher's Raindance

I cannot start a story without knowing the title. I'll admit that. I can write little stream of consciousness passages, but I'm distracted with not knowing the title. I've always been this way, to the point that I write titles down in my commonplace book (the late Karl Edward Wagner's term for his notebook). Sometimes a title just falls into my lap. At the plant a few weeks ago, I was putting on my long underwear in ther supply closet and was eye level with certain cleaning products for the first time. What do I see but the title above, a product for mopping the floors. What will "Butcher's Raindance" eventually become, who knows? Over this past weekend, thinking that if I read a PK Dick book I could fend off my bipolar demons, I yanked FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID off the shelf and one of my old business cards circa 1993 fell out. I wonder why I never followed up on writing "The Brides of Science", scrawled there on the card? It must've been a brainstorm for me to write it on the card, right? My favorite story titles that I specifically shaped the story around, not even knowing the subject matter, would be "Fiends By Torchlight" and "Bumpy Face," the latter of which sat in my head for three years. Bumpy Face was slang for a cheap bottle of beveled glass hooch back in the day, but I could never get around what the hell BF would represent in MY world view. Stories with titles where I knew how they would fall out are "High Moon"--the closest I'll come to writing a western--and "Elviscera" from THE KING IS DEAD: TALES OF ELVIS POST-MORTEM. Man, it always comes back to him, huh? Dozens of zombie books, only one dead Elvis book, and there I am. Along with Joe R. Lansdale's BUBBA HO-TEP, mind you. And that story, along with my own "Rapid Transit," was translated into Danish in HIMON ANATOMIA, God help the Danes. Titles I never used, "Gift of The Elvi," about a husband and wife (who had facial hair) facing the same struggles tas the couple in the O. Henry story, and "Elvis's Ladder," in which, just like Tim Robbin's having to take that first step up the ladder to make all those crazy hallucinations (AKA scenes from MY EVERYDAY LIFE) go away, I intended to have Elvis run through his life with Red & Sonny West, the Col., Charlie Hodge (the guy who brought his water and his scarves), drummer Roddy Tutt, and his dead brother Jesse Garon, until that tiny turd plopped into the bowl and he fell forward on his face that August afternoon in 1977, leaving the building one final time, thank you and good night.