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Jumbled Parable

Want something. Want anything. To be human is to want. Start with this vid collection of the audio scoring by Max Richter of his tune, the Departed. There are songs that get stuck in my head for weeks or months on end, with me compelled to play them repeatedly as though to imprint their every atom onto my own. This particular edit gets a lot of back to back replays from me lately. The piano keys, my beads of sweat; the violins, the tugging of my apparent heartstrings. Each note a step from where I’ve been, like bits of snow slowly drifting down, down, down so valiantly upon a fiery plane-wreck. It reminds me of Lady Days, the young poet and actress named Sara Anne Jones who passed away a few years back.

I had been an admirer since a lifetime ago on myspace, when, one fateful day the girl randomly messaged me, asking about Dylan Thomas. I think she had seen a comment I left on a mutual acquaintance’s profile, or maybe a comic review had made a small spark, and after checking out my page was prompted by whatever there into thinking I might be able to help answer a question about Thomas. Which I could not as I know very little about the guy or his work, being too modern for my blood. But I do remember telling her about the urban legend of his death, the immediate result following his downing 23 consecutive shots of grouse. The entire interchange was like the brief crossing of paths by two inhabitants of a crowded apartment party, a meager handful of amazing things said (shades of Mike Cahill’s later masterpiece of a film, I, Origins) and then gone on about our respective directions.

There was no dearth of young alt-models online at the time, but Sara stood out tall on her long legs for being excruciatingly rare, in that unlike the rest she never went full-Bettie Page, never mistook herself for a fictional character scripted by Warren Ellis, and never really went crazy with the syfy hair. She did some modest modeling and appeared in a couple of no-budget indie films, but I really don’t think she was seriously trying to get famous. She applied far more effort into her book of poetry, by all accounts right up to her final months. I think that she was the sort of person who just drew people to her without meaning to, and often some of these people would have creative projects she’d invariably cross streams with. For my part, I just couldn’t shake her. Her imagery would always appear exactly when I needed the universe to leave a raindrop between my eyes.

I was immediately smitten, because, not to sound like a misogynist but she was the epitome of gorgeous. Her form and spirit represent to me examples for how the universe accomplishes and shares breathless beauty. I felt she was a perfect thing, her skinny limbs and her mother ‘o pearl, porcelain skin, but especially for her time spent with Anais Nin and Albert Camus. We never traded words again, I was far too busy reliving Kierkegaard’s fear and trembling, but her name would tend to show up in articles I read or films I watched. Her style and her taste were impeccable, hers was a sharp mind and she was traveling in intriguing circles. She was a standard for physical perfection, opposites in so many ways though we were, but more importantly images of her presented the occasional, random reminder that despite the hype there were indeed neat people out there somewhere, people not too eager to retread the plots of others.

Fast-forward some years and photographer Chase Lisbon was inching towards the release of his debut, feature-length film, We Must Remain the Wildhearted Outlaws. One of its starlets, Apnea, had previously, unknowingly, served as the physical model for Warren Ellis and Steve Pugh’s Hotwire character, a factoid I surmised in an interview I conducted with Pugh much to his surprise. But poor Sara on the other hand, Sara had died during the film’s production about two years earlier in what is believed to have been an accidental overdose, which obviously and quite tragically caused a tremendous delay. Chase’s movie was made by a circle of friends. I reached out to Chase for an interview, because I like his work and the movie looked uncanny, mysterious and original. He had never heard of me, of course, but someone in his circle had nice things to say about my previous website, the lottery party, so I was in. This prospective interview however, was intended all along to be pitched to Heavy Metal Magazine, where I had been contributing by various means since my recruitment there a few years before. What followed was an email chain lasting 2 or 3 whole months, a novella of his personal origin story and philosophy, with surprisingly well-worded tangents left and right where much of this modern world, its torments and its sex, was fairly pigeon-holed. It was a roller-coaster which at times weirded each of us out, finding in the footholds a bizarre level of ironies. I edited the final draft down by thousands of words, with the end product still one of the longest I’d ever amassed. And Heavy Metal Magazine rejected it, the one and only time they rejected a thing from me. I was hurt enough to never again take advantage of the standing offer to submit whatever I wanted their way, although they would later run a couple of things for their webzine incarnation which I had given them the year prior, for a rainy day.

Dave Elliott was the one who approached me about working for the magazine, after he and then-owner Kevin Eastman had nailed an arrangement for Elliott to guest-edit and package a run of issues, to free up Eastman for downsizing the company so as to make it easier to sell his way out of debt. The two of them had longed for the days of the brand keeping a “text and prose” guy on hand, and mine was the first and last name considered to fill the void left by such authors as Nicholas Vince. Originally, I had offered a regular review column called Metallurgy, where I’d review classic epics of science fiction novels. Eastman had some other ideas in mind for that title, by pure coincidence, and Dave especially had wanted me to just continue what I was producing at the lottery party. So I sold a short story, one of the more fucked up things they’ve ever published. I did a musician profile on Dax Riggs, and a number of novel reviews, for modern, self-published or micro-published works ranging from collections of Lovecraft’s letters to the prose debut from an alternative comics writer and a deconstruction of Philip Wylie’s man of steel. My work appeared across four issues altogether, but then my role evolved. Finding themselves briefly between marketing firms, I was tasked with handling the PR for a special issue focusing entirely on a new IP called DRAVN, created by a jet fighter pilot turned reality television producer. They wanted two different but complimentary press releases adcopied up, as well as for me to conduct four interviews for diverse platforms with any of the laundry-list of contributors. I was way ahead of schedule and completed a fifth interview for the lottery party, with the other four reposted there for double exposure. The press copy was given to just under 200 webzines and media blogs and the like, including some mid-range comic blogs who were surprisingly grateful to be approached by anyone representing HM. I even worked out a deal with a big skater mag and a couple of tattoo mags for full-page ad-swaps, with no money exchanging hands. It was what I saw as an obvious crossover, an easy sell but I’ve no idea if the arrangement continued beyond my later exiting stage left. It was all a curious experiment of a learning experience. I did a decent job but I was upfront about just buying them time and holding no interest in being a regular PR stooge. Soon thereafter, the Managing Editor realized he would be out of action for several months for a surgery and a lengthy recuperation, so he asked me ahead of time to knock out an artist’s gallery for an issue, along with an interview. The talk with my first pick, Canadian artist Richard Pace, also landed him the back cover art gig, which was a small victory. It was around this point that my long interview with Chase occurred. My successes there with HM felt like I was a third-shift janitor for the Vatican happening across a half-smoked joint left behind by the Pope himself. When HM shot us down, it honestly caught me off guard. I was forced to run the article at my webzine of the time, 23zillion, accompanied by a strong range of behind the scenes photos shared by Chase from the film’s long and storied production.

And that was the rub.

We were both longtime readers of HM. But through his lens, Sara was more beautiful than anything crafted by any of the many graphic fantasy artists from around the world to have graced the pages of the magazine, whose numbers include the greatest of the field. I wanted so badly to sneak her representation into those pages, to remind other HM readers of the greater, deafening beauty the universe surprises us with. I will not Bogart epiphany. And I understand she was a comic book reader, so for her ghost to see herself in the world’s greatest illustrated magazine would have been a gas, and a fitting tribute to an unintentional muse, a respite in the very feminine form of potential. Gawky and perfect and too good for publication. Maybe this was even why her character vanished from her first film, Toad Road, because she instead haunts me, like misremembering the wrong timeline with the mad gods mistaking my conscience for finer dreams and happier adventures. Why remember who we never met, never knew? As many occasions as she found to flash that beautifully crooked smile, she’d never have been impressed by me. I’ve never been one to take dejection from gods or demons very seriously, but even now, I can’t help but to think of her as so, so lovely. Shades of Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday, lamenting the hurt of his young cousin-turned-nun. Especially Platonic love goes unrequited, and that’s completely fine. It teaches so much, the experience of drowning in shadow. It’s fine. Anything becomes flawless the moment we want it so.

But what if she never actually existed? What if she were only a gloriously asymmetrical bot on a screen, a minor algorithmic plot point in the grander discourse? A non-player character whose function was yet another triviality among the billions of trivial fellows on the world’s stage?

Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album sums up much of what I feel towards the opposite sex, extending to whatever goddess above or below, but that Departure music makes me especially sad, for realizing in my almost midlife crisis that I haven’t dreamed half as much as I ought to have all these long, dark years. Unlike Sara, I am a horrible Pisces. I will never affect anybody in such a way. I miss the lives I will never lead. I’m no skulker, and while I clean up accordingly well I accept that admiration for another is one of the faint threads of order among the chaos holding my own form from going completely incorporeal. So, my far too late response to that screen-cap from her strangely still-alive tumblr account above because the internet is nothing but talking at shadows, original message not intended for me but by the prodding of this ghost will I verbosely answer