The Silence & The Howl | Part 20

§.20


“Yo. Someone asking bout you at the front.”

Damion turned from the fat man with whom he was sharing a beer to the lanky, bejeweled man before him.

“And he is?”

“Don’t know. Never seen him before. Some white boy.”

“What about me is he asking?”

“Asking to speak to you.”

“Everyone wants a piece of the pie.”

“Not quite everyone,” Harmon declared, striding impassively beside the lanky man who reached swiftly for his gun. Before he could fully unholster the piece, Damion swiftly raised his hands in entreaty.

“Take it easy. Think our boy here is just lost. Ain’t that right?”

“No, Mr. Strake, not lost at all. Came to talk. If you’ve got a moment.”

“I’m afraid I don’t.”

“You don’t look afraid.”

Damion looked to his bodyguard with a raised brow. The lanky man shook his head and turned to Harmon derisively.

“Who the fuck you think you are?”

Harmon ignored the flustered guard, his eyes fixed on Strakes.

“I’d like to speak to Mr. Strake in private.”

“I’d like to be a millionaire.”

“With a mouth like that, I find your prospects doubtful.”

The lanky guard opened his mouth to repost the verbal jab but before he could speak, Damion interrupted, gesturing towards the door.

“Kelly, wait outside please.”

“Whatever.”

As Kelly and the fatman made their way out the door and sealed the pulsating electronica behind them, Harmon took a seat, upright, eyes level with his host, hands folded upon his lap.

“Thanks for calling off your dog.”

“You’re lucky I did. He bites.”

“I suggest a muzzle,” Harmon replied as he studied Damion’s face and then straightened once more, “You don’t remember me.”

“You don’t look familiar. What is it you want?”

“Does the name Sprawls ring any bells?”

“That ratfuck… yeah. He a friend of yours?”

“Used to be.”

“My condolences. Wait. I’ve seen you before.”

“Yes. We met – what was it – two years ago, at a music festival not far from here. You sold Sprawls something. Were secretive bout it.”

“Just some gas. You know how it is.”

“I don’t. That’s why I’m here.”

Damion rolled his eyes and leaned over the table, pushing a unopened can of beer toward his guest.

“Gas. Pot. Marijuana.”

“He buy other things from you?”

“Maybe. Why you asking? You buying?”

“Maybe. What other things does he buy?”

“Ya know, that’s the kinda question that only really dumb niggers ask. You ain’t no dumb nigger are you?”

Damion assumed an aggressive posture, his bleary eyes narrowed and he leaned out even further over the table, his mouth crinkling into a grimace.

Harmon cracked the beer and raised it to take a sip, responding before he did so.

“Do I look like a dumb nigger to you?”

Damion smiled humorlessly and shook his head.

“I don’t know what you look like. You on some bullshit.”

“Still haven’t answered my question.”

Damion gave the man a wary look before continuing.

“China Town.”

“He buy a lot?”

“Woulda if he could afford to. Last I heard that broke ass nigger was scrubbing toilets.”

“He come lately?”

“No. Why the fuck are you so interested?”

“Will you be selling, or not?”

“Depends on if you’re paying.”

“Course. You accept checks?”

Damion paused, furrowing his brow before he spied Harmon’s mocking expression.

“Very funny. You know you fucking lucky Karst ain’t here.”

“Don’t know him.”

“You should, this is his building. He ain’t quite so accommodating as me. Month ago, some dude named Luke Rawel comes up in here, talking shit, bout how much TNT he got and whole buncha bullshit. We tell him he needs to leave. He decides not to and says if we didn’t do business he’d have to have a word with the cops. Karst, well, he calmly told him there was no need for that and that they should talk about it in his office in the basement. Don’t know what happened, but ain’t no one seen Rawel after that…”

“That a threat?”

“Fuck no. I’m just telling you like it is.”

“Your boss’ personal affairs don’t concern me.”

Harmon removed a thick clip of hundred dollar bills from his belt and waved it before the pill merchant enticingly.

“Bring me what Sprawls last bought. Whatever he paid, I’ll pay double.”

*

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Sex, Violence, Death, Toil: A Brief Primer On Fiction Writing, Prt. 2

Putting aside many of the age-old questions concerning the validity of the concept of Human Nature one can with absolute certainty say that there are Human Universals, that is, Human Generalities. Everyone who exists was born and everyone who was born will die. Everyone feels the pangs of hunger and thirst, of dread and envy, jealousy and admiration, lust and love, of purpose and purposelessness. This is so easily observable that is wholly beyond contention (“but what if we are all brains in a vat in a vast simulation?!” Some cheeky fellow will doubtless interject at some point – mischievous rogues).

The acceptance of this a priori supposition then establishes some very fertile ground for purpose in fiction. Purpose is the first and most fundamental thing any given writer should ask him or herself before proceeding with a given piece of work (indeed it is the first of things which one should ask oneself before doing anything). “Why am I doing what I am doing? Why do I write stories at all? What do I wish to convey in it’s pages?” (and it should here be noted that if one does not wish to convey anything at all then there is no point in writing to begin with, the art that is only for the self and goes not beyond might as well stay contained within the brain! What is it then but a dream?) “What is the purpose of my art?”

Naturally, only you, the reader, can answer such questions in their particulars but there are some general principals that might help us better establish and define our aims as fiction writers. First and foremost among those principals is that if a story does not speak, in some meaningful way, to any Human Universals, then it simply will not be read with any regularity – or even if it is, it certainly isn’t going to be remembered (indeed, why should it?). But it isn’t enough merely to speak to the human soul, as it were, but also to do so in a clear and cogent way, that is to say, a understandable way. It is, of course, fine enough to write for a specific audience in mind (the case of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra is here illustrative: his work was oft found difficult to interpret at best and downright incomprehensible at worst; the US literary critic, Harold Bloom described Nietzsche’s only fiction entry as “unreadable”).

Writing with a specific audience in mind is highly recommended; however, writing in such a way that no one but one’s own self and some small cadre of philologists and linguists (such would be the kind to say, Underworld is a masterpiece because despite it’s endless meandering without coming to a point, DeLillo is very good at making symbolic representations of waste-fixation as a American by-product which lays bear the soul of the post-industrial age – or some such tosh) is hardly the way to go for the simple fact that one is then, essentially writing in another language which will be totally incomprehensible to the common man and often, to the not-so-common man as well.

There is a tendency among post-modern novelists to zealously seek after originality at the expense of anything else (not all post-modern artists are guilty of this, obviously, but it is a general trend I have observed) and that anything else is generally a coherent and clear theme (again, DeLillo is a supreme example of this, he writes a lot of words but rarely says anything; there are implications, suggestions galore, but everything is tangential to something else which isn’t defined, or if so, poorly. Everything is obscured and referential, so much so that the obscure references and the inertia of his language itself become the whole point of the text – though he does, of course, have his high points).

This is a tendency to be avoid if you wish to approach art as a form of social communication (it seems lost on modern man that this was the purpose of nearly all ancient art – not the selfish, narcissistic impulse to stroke the ego that says, “Look at me! I feel something fragile and fleeting; observe it nonetheless, for such is my importance!” – but rather the communal sharing of a given societies highest ideals and aspirations for the purposes of civilizational lift).

Once one has acquired the knack for both clarity and purpose (and clarity of purpose) one should turn the mind’s eye to the directionality of the story itself. It matters not how far from terrestrial reality one flies upon the back of that great bird, creativity – whether you are writing about ancient dragons, or orcs, or cosmic horrors – certain human factors will always remain visible to be plucked out by the discerning no matter how phantasmal, grotesque or fantastical the setting, plot, characters or dialogue. Why is this – because you aren’t a dragon a orc or a cosmic horror, how could you possibly think as one?!

[to be continued in part. 3]