Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Author, Chapter Forty-Nine: The Truth, At Last

August 3

I was just a kid when I first came out here and it was just so easy. My first book, the cancer one, the one you read, that was fuckin' hard, man. It was too much like work. So when I was out here and everything got so easy so quickly, who was I to argue or complain?

And when the book sold so easily, it felt like fate or destiny or any of those other things you believe in when you're still too young to know better. No offense. I was successful because I was good, because I deserved it, whatever, not because there was a vampiric pagan something or another underneath the house, for Christ's sake.

I didn't dream the first year out here. Other than the energy and the book, that first year was kind of its own thing. Maybe it's because I wasn't as alone as I was after that, maybe it was his energy, or maybe it was just the seduction.

The second year, for the second Wilcox book, was a whole different story. Because that year I was completely alone. That was the year it snowed, I told you. And I was able to convince myself that it was a freak weather pattern. In July. Even though it was falling on less than a square acre. And right now I wanna tell you that it was the stupidity of youth, but I think I just believed what I wanted to believe.

Because that whole year was weird and maybe you think that I could have chosen to break away at some point later, but I think that first year I sold myself to this place. To that thing. Wholesale, even.

That was when the dreams started. Almost every night, so vivid and epic that I could have written them down and had a second career as a fantasy author. Dreams where I was a priest of some kind, where I was a warrior, where I was a Victorian writer of some kind. Not Lovecraft, though, I checked some details. Just some hack scribbling away, lost to time. I have no doubt he was a real person.

So here I was, all of 21, already well off, if not rich. I'd troop into town every couple of days, stock up on booze, cigarettes, and food. Sometimes I'd stop by a local bar and people were already whispering about who I was. I was living the dream, man, no one to tell me what to do or what not to do, living how I wanted while I wrote what I already somehow knew would be an even more successful book.

One night, maybe halfway through, I was sitting here, at this table, with my typewriter, in fact, it's this burn scar on the table right here. I...well, I can't say I passed out or that I fell asleep. Neither is accurate. My consciousness slipped, I suppose, would be closest, stepped sideways maybe, and when I woke up I had a crick in my neck like you wouldn't believe, a burn mark on the table, and I had 20 more pages of manuscript.
I didn't accept it, exactly, but I certainly didn't question it like I think you would have. I just rolled with it. I didn't drink as much the next night, so it didn't happen. Didn't happen again for years, in fact. Maybe after that happened I started to subconsciously protect myself a little bit, wall myself up some, just in case.

So that year was rough, because I did some maintenance myself, and mowed the damn lawn, because it was my house now, after all, and all that shit, so the book mostly came pretty slow, just a few hours a day, afternoons or evenings.

It wasn't until 10 years later that I realized that little by little, the house was taking things from me. It didn't give them back when I left, either. I mean, I'll tell you that my wife left me at least partly because she lost patience with me, the way I was out here, the priorities that I made. But that's only because, year by year, I stopped giving a shit. About her, I mean. I realized after what you said that it never even occurred to me that bringing my kids out here was dangerous, but now that I have the thought, it's terrifying. Who can say how much damage might have already been done. At least neither of them is writing yet.

So it started out that I was grateful and excited to have this opportunity, to be this person, and it ended up that, well, I just kept at it. I probably talked around it a bit when I described it before, but my year revolves around being here. As miserable as I might be when I drag myself away from the new book and get the hell out of here, by April I'm excited to come back here again.

So, yes, I'm, for want of a better word, perfectly happy to sit here and let this house suck me dry. Not because I get anything out of it, not really, but just because it's what I do and what I've been doing. Sad, I guess.

But I've known the truth of that for a while. I have the last page of the thing I wrote about the posts. I always had it, but it wouldn't have made much sense until you discovered the post under the house.

Each line of stones reaches a point and these points are the most powerful locations of all. They form the locus of a pattern of stones, a focal point where the power is stored and where it may be used. On these points horrendous battles have been fought, like those at the Alamo and Little Big Horn. The stones clearly thrive on sacrifice of life or life energy. Loss of life seems to be inevitable in their presence.

The base of each of these stones is littered with the bones of sacrifice and death, and the ashes of worship.

They are to be feared. They are to be revered. They may be used, by those who have the understanding, to amplify power, to heal or to hurt, but they are never to be truly understood. They are not sensible. They represent only power, which may be abused, which may be focused, but never controlled, but which must always be feared.

But here's the kicker. I told you that early on I was being used for automatic writing? It started again, a few years ago. Once in a while, I'd come to after being mentally away for an hour or two, and I'd find that I'd been writing the whole time. Believe it or not, by that point, it didn't seem like a big deal. But two years ago, when I was getting to the end of Fear, I went to bed one night and woke up in the morning at the table. I'd gotten up sometime during the night and started up again, while I was asleep.

So last year I brought Xanax. And when I was really involved in the book, but when I needed a break, I'd take one, and that seemed to work. I drifted off at the table and kept writing once, but it didn't seem like a big deal. Then, when I was almost at the end, and it is, if I say so myself, a hell of an ending, the kid who was staying here last summer left. He had a family emergency and I figured, shit, the book's almost done, why not?
It was like the place was waiting for me to be alone. The next day I woke up at the table. So, the next night I took a Xanax and a sleeping pill and I woke up at the table after ten hours, with a crust of drool on my face and a film on my tongue and a neck that was stiff for days.

I tried to slow myself down, I actually put a chair under my doorknob and tied myself to the bed, thinking that, for some reason, I would be dumber when I was asleep. Of course it was simple for me to untie myself and move the chair and I still woke up at the table and by then the book was just about finished.

I manged to finish the book while I was awake and went to bed that night expecting that the automatic writing episodes were over. When I woke up it was almost twenty hours later, I had been sleeping on the couch, and I found that I'd started a new book. A non-Wilcox book, much more blatantly Lovecraftian than anything I'd ever written. It was like now that the post had my silly project out of the way, it was going to say something directly instead of wasting any more time being subtle. It never had a title. And I had something in common with the post, finally. I knew what it was like to hold on to something for years, aching to get it out.

So the pattern started up again and I stopped thinking about it, stopped fighting it. Once I was on board, it seemed like the pace dropped off a bit, and things went back to what passes for normal out here. I started cranking out pages for this new book, and so long as my productivity kept up, there was no more automatic writing.

My kids came out for Labor Day and I still don't know exactly how it happened, but when I took them back to the airport, I got on a plane to New York, with just the clothes on my back, and didn't come back. Some part of me had planned it all along, but most of me had been unaware of the idea. I called someone from the law firm to ship me my laptop and that was all there was to it. As soon as I got it I deleted the partially completed novel.

I spent three days in a hotel room in New York detoxing from the house, keeping myself stoned and doped enough so that I couldn't get back here under my own power. When I came out the other side, I still had the itch to come back here, like I still want to smoke a cigarette sometimes, but the real impulse, the irrational one, was gone. That's the way it usually is at the end of the summer. Sometimes it's worse than others. Last year, that was the hardest it has ever been.

So you, and that suicidal asshole before you, have a more important job than my caretakers usually do. You're here to make sure that doesn't happen again. You're here to keep an eye on me so that it doesn't get worse. You're here to make sure that I finish this book, and then, when it's done, that I get the hell out of here instead of starting another one. Because if that happens again, no exaggeration, I'm pretty sure I'll never leave.
I'm sorry to dump this all on you, kid, I know it's a hell of a burden and definitely not what you signed up for.
But I think that if you leave me here, I'm pretty sure my writer's hell will come true. I'll just sit here and keep typing and when I get tired my body will keep typing while I sleep because that's what...IT...wants. I'll sit here and just write and write until I die. And I don't know what that will take. Because in addition to the books, another thing this place, this thing, has given me is health.

I haven't had a cold or a flu in about as long as I can remember. And while I take care of my health the months that I'm not here, at least partly to make up for the way I abuse myself when I am here, I'm not sure I need to. I have the heart of a teenage distance runner. I have the blood pressure of a happy house cat. I have the lungs of someone who never smoked a day in his life, even though I smoked like a chimney for 20 years. Whatever the plan is, this place has insured that I'll stay healthy until it gets what it wants from me.

Short of a bullet to the brain pan, I'm not sure what would kill me. I fell off the deck once a few years ago and heard a snap when I landed on my wrist. I took some pills and went to bed. The next morning it hurt, but not enough to keep me from typing. I got it x-rayed after that summer and there was a break there, but the doc told me it looked years old.

So know you know. Now you know all my secrets. And now, hopefully, you get it, you understand. Why you're here. Why I need you here. And why I can't let you leave.

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