the short story project


I Don’t Know Shadows

Shadows what we become and a realization of what we seen; as the era of 1995 I would be about 19 – but things we knew and scrawled upon our notebooks, our nightmares and memories.  They crumble as the cigarette ashes that came off the cherry of my cigarette.  (Back when I did smoke.) The whole thing remains – the shadow how someone creates something that’s not even theirs is an alien thing to me.  How I had written from ideas I either owned or had researched as the research was mine.   

When someone creates something that’s horror from something that isn’t truly theirs – I don’t understand it.  A full decade as a publisher plus as an anthologist then 10 years as a magazine publisher – what the fuck do they know about creating something that belongs to them?  

“I don’t understand your world,” I would say.

“Your world and words are gibberish,” someone responded.

“Dude did you even see a rejection letter or even seen so something rejected even for trying?”  I might respond with a harsh tone in the realization when someone is walking around my hometown of Roselle. They realize that the rural identity had been long gone – or when they go and research the area as I was 15 the bank robbers set up shop in my boyhood home.

“You’re full of shit,” I can see them respond with as I wonder what their life is like outside of cyberspace. When they are trapped in a fannish reality of creating novels of something they had no business getting celebrated for.  When you’re the kid from Chicago – the real world was outside your door often and sometimes the storytelling no matter how dark it is! You truly can’t always keep it in the family.

“Damn these fools,” I would say looking at the screen and speak on the camera as I walked around Glen Ellyn in 2011 – recovering from a frightening scandal and facing stalkers who abused the fair use argument.   What exactly is “fair use” to them if you ask me?  Exactly define that to me?  Have they even felt a cold spot or heard something call the name of their roommates?  A realization when I don’t make what I write up and was published as a creative nonfiction writer a few times over – have they seen the aftermath of gang bangers coming to their village?   In Illinois a town is known as a village; and when someone seen this in Glendale Heights, Illinois, as Carol Stream now is known as the safest area to live as they say.  

“Do you even read up about our history – or do you get your knowledge of the Chicago area from watching reruns of Mike and Molly, Good Times, Family Matters, Due South or the like,” I would protest as this is coming from a Chicagoland local.  

Look if you’re going to write fiction in our area – either original or fannish; learn our fucking dialects.  Fred Savage when he was active as an actor was from Highland Park and I had no idea he was born a month before me.   I knew the Lake County dialect and you know county dialects of the Inland.  I am sure the Downstaters trying to write fiction set in Chicago has no idea what our fucking dialect is like.    Learn our history if you want to write something here to begin with – you might learn something about how Resurrection Mary also lingers around other parts of the Resurrection Triangle.  She doesn’t just show up on Archer, there were sightings of her on Roberts Road and where I lived along Seventy-Ninth Street.  

I am sure some fannish bastard might think it’s cute to write a story set in Chicago when he never been to the area or grew up in the area for that matter.  I can see where Ms. Rice gets pissed where someone is attempting to do something from her work.  There is a Mayfair, Illinois, so if someone wondered about that if someone was to do a story that’s Mayfair;   but I will go into the facts about horror in Illinois – horror is born from our real life. Where some of us are tied to a true crime or even sometimes, put it bluntly, a lingering ghost story.   How much of our influences can interweave with our real life?    

I am sure someone will be looking at this and claim that I am being a dick.

You want to hear ghost stories from our area – speak to our pawn shop owners as you might wonder what comes into those places as I created a character where he owned a pawn shop.   I am sure someone would be surely and with a lot of honesty, looking at this narrative like I am some weird, fucked up freak — whom which, have collected one too many ghost stories.  Or in some form, had written one too many horror tales with an original take – fuck that shit, the hell with it – I know I am going to relate some fucked up ghost story.

That’s your screaming skull man not mine.

Chicago your very own Holden Cranfield has a ghost story to relate and the shadows are the things that one doesn’t wish to speak about but knowing someone out there might be a haunted person.  I know I have to tell this and realization they might get an idea or two.  Shadows – are they what we don’t understand or what they don’t wish to speak about.  

“You’re full of shit and mental,” I might hear one saying.

“Do you come up with ideas of your own or do you lift creations from creative properties that don’t belong to you and write a novel of it?”  I would respond with.  No one wants to read a Harry Potter story unless J. K. Rowling had written it. Well of someone toyed with what Rod Serling created there might be something of their own they might contribute to it ie like what R. L. Stine had done.   The whole thing one might realize when I say I don’t know shadows; is the question how much of the horrors one relates they remember or can relate?

Celebrated for something that’s 100,000 words that clearly isn’t yours doesn’t make sense to me.    Really makes you look like a fucking fool to me if you have to ask and look at me as if I am some kind of hack when I was published for ghoulish true stories.   Tell me have you dealt with someone who lives in the modern era and all that comes out is thee, thine and thou – oh  step off of it already; come down from your high horse and return to earth pal.   As this is known and said; from my own nightmares I mine from – but when one looks at reality and the shadows drawn from the real world, history and what was on the news back in the era.

Tell me – how much horror clearly, have you drawn from reality?  

How many neighborhoods have you driven through to realize that neighborhood was one huge cemetery?  I ask this because some gangbangers had been shooting those who were in accidental drive by shooting crossfires – when the young are laying on the ground with eyes open staring at oblivion.   

Look when you’re offered a chance to be published for something lingering around in your head, for fuck’s sake, don’t ever, I am saying this too by all means blow it off!  Insulting someone who is a publisher when you’re a fannish asshole you might not have a chance like that again! That window was open take it. Don’t go around creating fanwork on the watch of publishers who were published for their own content.   I know about all the serial number scraping when it comes to those short stories – don’t even think about it if you’re going to submit that to me.

“Why you critical motherfucker – how fucking dare you insult what I did as I put a lot of work into this!”

“Put a lot into something that isn’t yours to begin with?  Especially when you were born in the 1970s – I gave you a chance to play it honest, but look at this? The world you seen – is a kingdom of shit,” I replied.

A gentlemen writes as an amateur is something H. P. Lovecraft once wrote;  but someone like me gets paid to gouge someone’s eyes out or had written a story where someone eaten their guts in Technicolor.   Aka self-cannibalism – well I am not going to have someone chow down on himself alive in this but I will say? Those who do the kind of work they write and not analyze their work.  How do they even know if they are publishable to begin with?

“What kind of sick fuck are you!  To even have something you created yourself, don’t you realize that casual copyright infringement is acceptable,” is what I can see someone on video responding to my video blog still calling what I say “gibberish.”

“Don’t I say this quite clear ever fucking insult my intelligence,” I replied.

I am sure that someone who reads some of my ghost stories will ask, “how much of this did he make up or how much of it is real?”

Welcome to the real world brother as I am going to take you into places you don’t want to realize existed with some places.  As I was there at 31, the night club really is haunted but it’s hard to capture paranormal activity on camera.  How much of this world one sees and walks where other ghost stories unfolded – London, at 14, Baltimore at 26, Springfield at 27, and Richmond at 36 years of age then New Orleans at 25 years of age.   I doubt I seen something in Baltimore because I wasn’t there long enough or did read about Richmond’s haunted history before I went there.  The realization when someone gets celebrated for trying – in idea and reality, conceive a scary tale with a copyrighted entity. How much can they do it with something that belongs to them is what I ask and present?  

To them and the question I ask, am I the Devil they know?   When I see created horror from films that correspondents appeared in – trying to get noticed for this, sadly I am heartbroken when someone does this.   When H. P. Lovecraft made it okay for writers to toy with the Cthulhu Mythos; and rivals had fucked someone out of a query – “oh he’s a fan fiction writer!”

“Go fuck your mother, loser – I was published for creative nonfiction.”

Though when I will look at the real world through his eyes – a realization was there the voice of the angry young man reborn;   someone scraped serial numbers off something that isn’t theirs originally it’s kind of like owning stolen property.  What kind of nightmare cam be conceived when some fandom writer in their forties realize their life is half over.  The heartbreaking thing for me is this; the horror stories born from memories rotting away in their psyche becomes something with characters that aren’t theirs and owned by New Line Cinema.   

I am not college graduate or learned creative writing from UnCollege; but make this quite clear to many I will say this.  Doing what some do when they didn’t have the proper training or certification to come up with the screen story for something.   What nightmare draws within their mind when reality and truth haunts them when an original fiction author is right?   

I am sure there are a few gasps in the room or diner when someone hears this from me – but the question comes to mind.  What do they know about our folklore or urban myths?  If they even go researching that subject matter at all before they just dive in and write something with characters that are not theirs to begin with.  A norm in our world, saying this rather bluntly at that, and outside our doors are ghosts of those who were created by the local gangbangers.

 I am sure you think I am making this up as I mention by a good chance you see a child boarding the bus.  Wondering if any cash was passed to the bus fare, like the normal commute. They take their seat then disappear – you think that’s a work of fiction where I mention this but this is off 87th Street, whereabouts, I have to ask my cousin that one would read about this.

I don’t know shadows one says – but when one is observing urban legends and chasing ghost stories; C. G. Jung would write we have to understand our shadows.  Our dark sides to be closer to those who can observe a horror tale and chronicle it as we remember them; the job as a writer am I right? Look out that window and report what we see – what if you’re a commuter then you’re looking out many. Children always had a fear of the dark and the overtly legalistic with their faith explain away the unexplained.  

I am sure I will ask if you’re waiting for the “L” in Chicago – were you able to see something waiting there then disappears?   The possibility of someone being there – shoved into an oncoming train then their number was up.   There is nothing like The Heavenly Kid as I saw as a ten year old in our old apartment in Roselle, but the question remains was there really someone who died there when someone was shoved into a train?

You hear the locals relating about this across the blogosphere somewhere at some point – but I am sure in the new century, a modern decade.   There are the ghost stories that remain from the 21st Century of the deaths that come from modern public transit.   Do I think about this as I took the “L” in my twenties – it’s always a thought that remained in the back of my mind, if that’s what one means!

This is nothing you would read in a fictionalized version of The Chicago Sun-Times or Tribune that would appear in the show Early Edition.  I doubt this is something either one had chronicled or were crazy enough to do so.   You want to really be celebrated for writing fiction with things you don’t own that are full length. In all truth and your realizations, I am getting noticed for a short form.  Here as I relate weird tales from real life; yeah – well — fuck all o’ ya there horror when you realize it is in reality and hard to steal someone’s real life.

Where I grew up was a regular Eerie, Indiana, if it was a work of nonfiction.  So if you are reading about ghost stories and wanting to do a horror story that reflects the reality around there – you really didn’t have to look too far.  Get on a mt. bike after 10 p.m. and start looking for weird shit; it’s a good chance it ends up finding you.   Well take it from me – you will read and weird about weird shit eventually; a pretty damn good chance you end up exploring an abandoned seminary which was the source of ghost stories. Knowing with a macabre curiosity this was in the vicinity of your backyard you know where this came from.

Okay now ask me – do you really know shadows?  Creating those plots where characters are not yours; what if a publisher was lurking around asking you if you can come up with something a similar size that’s yours outright.  Urban and suburban eerie folklore becomes the thing that inspires – realizations from real life can give H. P. Lovecraft his night-gaunt to him.

“Some things were never meant to be bothered with in horror,” I would respond with but there are some things the Pandora’s Box had been long opened.   Locally one who has the sect of thees, thines and thou.  I am making this upfront repeatedly pissing down one’s own back then giving you the fucking riot act.  Those who are closely cropped hair, white shirt and ties with a black plastic badge on their pocket flap. Run.

Horror born from the cults living near where one grew up, perhaps no one really knows the reasons or asked the reasons why.  Lingering and a breathing horror realizing of a plan for an early funeral —  for the young when the young are making ghosts of each other.

The question I ask with the fannish counterpart; what shadows have you chased when you come up with something that doesn’t clearly belong to you to begin with.  What dark realities do you see when you sleep with one eye open when an original creation is lingering within your head?  Am I that demon you see yelling at you – that conscious within you that lingers asking this nagging question.  That inner Midwesterner with an Inland saying, “What the fuck are you doing?”   Oh you mean to tell me you haven’t had someone ask that of your writing habits.  What if someone was running a magazine and noticed you scraping the serials off something that wasn’t really yours to begin with?

Welcome to my weird, dark world – the real world being where supernatural and psychological interact with weird history of my state.   The weird dark world where you don’t keep it in the family – but hatred that one sees from the fannish counterparts. Listen up fanboy – who is speaking ‘gibberish’ I am real and create with my genuine mind and imagination.   When you go to sleep at night – do you have reruns blaring on MeTV and come up with shit from those 1950s reruns?  I really don’t have to really lie my sorry ass off about my connections.  Sometimes, when I relate what I do –it’s hard to believe myself when it’s the honest to God truth man.

Well when you sift through this – knowing what I do as an aging author, there are weird realizations of a world around us.   Does everyone who writes fannish short form piss on those who create original written created content?  Somewhere I can hear that 20 year old in me screaming at those who do this – asking them why would they want to create from characters that aren’t theirs?   When one had been bullied by the fannish types for a few years – there is some deep rooted hostility when they come after one’s nonfiction outings to do fannish bullshit from them.

 All I ask the fannish counterparts of my genre I write in and love; is come walk with me around Chicago and turn on your video cameras because I will talk with you.  If you are forty years old – I am going to really say something fiercely critical of your world.  It’s like a real museum; don’t by any means touch my imagination and world if you see something there.  

Original content creators are like wild animals as in you have to let them remain wild and free.   When you approach someone like me – I invite you with the camera to let me speak to you and take you to the places where haunting had happened. If you want to write something from my videos just remember my dialect.   The things I speak about – you will not see entities sucking blood or eating brains; but please by all means look into a madness born of reality.  You come walking around Chicago – you will expect gangbangers, phantoms and urban legends dwelling within the same populous so you the fannish bastard I hope you’re listening.    When you seen the ghosts walking or know about the headlines – the whole thing with drive by shootings don’t even make the news anymore.  As a blogger wrote of us, “Gangs, nah it’s no big deal, school shootings – nah it’s no big deal.  Put ketchup on a V-Beef hot dog, watch it.”

Look where I did my first city based reading for God’s sake;  I eventually learned this place was really haunted but seen nothing when I was at the Red Lion Pub.  Welcome to my world – you comfortable yet?  I am sure you’d want to stay in a hostel downtown as that’s the only place safe from the supernatural; though up the street is a haunted place.   Saying I don’t know shadows – well if you seen the imagination I draw from the shadows I draw upon are from real life; the real world.

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