Howard & John, John & Howard

Sunday, 9 September 2018

About halfway through the above. Surprising that I didn’t read it in my junior high days when I had read much of John Bellairs’ work. It’s pleasant to have old things that are new to you.

I really love The Beatles and this will be a short digression. Merely a paragraph, surely. There are certain Beatles albums– The Magical Mystery Tour, for instance– that I’ve never listened to. For me, there are brand new Beatles recordings out there. Someday I’ll listen to them as if they were just made and released that very week. My fear is dying unexpectedly. Then I’ll never get to hear that stuff. But then, I’ll be dead so… Either there’s nothing so I won’t even be aware or there is an afterlife. And if that afterlife doesn’t have The Beatles? Then I want my money back.

I reread a few of Bellairs’ stories this past Spring. They didn’t scare me in the way they did when I was twelve or thirteen but I still thoroughly enjoyed them. Though there were a few moments when I found myself glancing behind me to make sure I was safe.

What surprised me was how many little references there were to HP Lovecraft. Bellairs was clearly a fan and, I would say, one of Lovecraft’s successors. A pleasing discovery as it creates a certain (small) wholeness within my life: That I can draw a line from what I loved in junior high to when I found Lovecraft my freshman year of college to the present day. Points of interest in my life can be connected, which, for whatever reason, is pleasing. In a way, it strikes me as meaningful.

Lewis and Rose Rita, the main characters, encounter a soup-like fog surrounding their small hometown of New Zebedee, Michigan. They try riding their bikes through it to get to the next town but find themselves, against all reason and common sense and physics, to be right back where they started. They went in a straight line but somehow the line became a circle.

That’s common enough but, nonetheless, it creates a feeling for which I have no name. It’s predicated upon fear but fosters a connectivity between the characters. It almost feels cozy and warm. There’s camaraderie too– a kind of sharing. But also fear. It can be found in Jaws when the terror truly begins to settle over the small town. Or in the original Resident Evil as you explore the old mansion on a dark and stormy night, occasionally running into an ally, savoring the brief safety. I can still hear the music from one of the few safe rooms where one might save or exchange items from the trunk. Another: It. The kids have only each other to count on for safety. As if they were on a small raft in the middle of a dangerous sea.

I find myself always searching for that feeling. Even in real life. I’ve experienced it on a dreadful winter night in a coffeehouse. The outside is inhospitable, even dangerous, but we few have braved the elements and icy roads to make it to the building’s warm safety. The snow continues to fall, it can be seen through any of the windows, but we are together, drinking our coffee and slowly warming.

 

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Secret things

Sunday, 8 July 2018

No work today. Only relaxing, reading, some gaming (3DS), and eating. And tea and coffee. Then a walk before an evening shower.

I went a ways through fields of grass and corn. The stream would at times be close and then far. Rabbits ran away from me, their white cottontails bouncing. Saw a few mice and toads scurrying and hopping. An old silo came into view. I pretended that it was something else. Some eldritch structure many thousands of years old. No human had set foot inside for nearly as long. Indeed, it had passed out of memory and my eyes were the first to see it after many generations.

Perhaps it is Tolkien in nature. Once, in another age, having served as a lookout post against invading armies. Or maybe closer to something out of John Bellairs’ imagination (and then given form by Edward Gorey). A wizard once lived inside the mysterious structure. Inside, one may discover ancient and forbidden tomes and grimoires. An object, perhaps a cob-webbed covered candlestick, would be moved, revealing a secret room inside an already secret tower.

I didn’t approach the building, not this time, but was content to stare at it from a distance. I stood over the creek on two large slabs of metal. I was completely alone out there. No one near and it felt great. I had not made it that far on my previous excursion. Then, I had turned around when I heard a low growling and a kind of huffing coming from a nearby copse.

Returning home.