Marc D. Goldfinger

Echo Complete Edition by Terry Moore

Published by Abstract Studios: abstractstudioscomics.com Terry Moore, Artist and Writer.

I just finished reading Echo by Terry Moore for the second time. This is an unbelievable story about a young woman who is testing a nuclear beta suit that covers her body like skin and enables her to fly as fast as a jet plane. Her name is Dr. Annie Trotter and this is part of what HENRI ( Heinrich Nuclear Research Institute) is testing.

The man second in charge is Jack Cooper and they have decided that Dr. Annie Trotter is in the way of what they want to create with this material. They have made a decision to shoot her out of the sky and recover the material when it falls to earth in a secluded area called Moon Lake. What they didn’t count on was a photographer named Julie Martin taking pictures in the Moon Lake area and also a homeless man with a Jesus complex in the same area. When the suit breaks apart after Dr. Trotter is killed by a missile it forms itself into small pellets that fall all around the Moon Lake area, the majority of them hitting Julie and her truck with some other pellets hitting the homeless man.

When Julie touches her truck the pellets swarm together and form a thin breast plate on her that she cannot remove and the homeless man has less pellets but just enough to cover one of his hands.

Julie doesn’t realize it but she has become a nuclear weapon and HENRI will stop at nothing to recover the material even though it will kill her if they try to remove it. The homeless man thinks this material is a gift from God so he can remove the evil from the world with his hand as the Hand of God.

Dr. Annie Trotter, deceased, had a boyfriend named Dillon Murphy who works as a Park Ranger and is very familiar with the Moon Lake area. Dillon is also extremely upset when he finds out that the woman he loves is dead and HENRI has no body to show him. He runs into Julie Martin and is a witness when the army tries to take her into custody and without meaning to, Julie blows the soldiers to hell.

Julie Martin has a sister named Pam whose family was in a terrible accident and her husband and children were killed and she now resides in a psychiatric facility. She is extremely empathic and plays a part in this thrilling story.

The art and text in this giant graphic novel is fantastic and Terry Moore is responsible for it all. The science fiction writer Harlan Ellison says this about Terry Moore and Echo: “Terry Moore does an acre more straight-up memorable storytelling in one black & white issue of Echo than either of the two comic’s giants’ in a years’-worth of their prolix, boring, barren crossover ‘events. This, ECHO, is what we long for, would die for.”

Annie’s distraught boyfriend Dillon decides to help Julie Martin with her predicament, not fully realizing what he is getting into. Also, Dillon has a group of friends that are hardcore Bikers
and he enlists their aid. The head of the biker group, a giant of a man named Dan Backer has been watching HENRI and different events that have been taking place in their area and he suspects them of creating dangerous elements that they let loose in the area where his bike club roams.

Jack Cooper, from HENRI, hires a woman named Ivy Raven to track down Julie and take her into custody but doesn’t reveal all the facts to her. HENRI wants the material back to conduct an experiment that could destroy the world; building a machine that is called a Collider and they want to create a Black Hole.

Ivy Raven is not a woman to fool around with being related to an underground group of women called the Parker Girls which were introduced in Terry Moore’s first comic series called
Strangers In Paradise. I highly recommend reading Strangers In Paradise.

Ironically, a new series of Strangers In Paradise has just started running in the comic stores and it connects directly with the epic Echo. Issue #1 just came out a couple of weeks ago and can still be obtained at your local comic store. This is Volume 2 of Strangers In Paradise. Volume 1 of Strangers In Paradise is a top seller and consisted of a 90 comic run and is available on the internet on Amazon and eBay. Abstract Studios still has some back issues and has a giant trade paperback of Echo which you can obtain from them or your local comic store with some luck.

Once you start reading Echo, you will be hooked, as I was.

“People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and
future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”—Albert Einstein

Federal Threat to Marijuana Sales in Massachusetts

The people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts voted to legalize marijuana but now Attorney General Jeff Sessions, one of Trump’s appointees, threatened to arrest the suppliers who are gearing up to sell marijuana in our state.

Our state’s top federal prosecutor, Andrew Lelling, has threatened to move on suppliers, according to the Boston Globe. Lelling said, “I cannot provide assurances that certain categories of participants in the state level marijuana trade will be immune from federal prosecution.”

Already, banks from Colorado, where recreational dipensaries have been selling weed for four years and were ready to expand into Massachusetts, are now in a state of wait and see. The Medical Marijuana outlets here have been forced to stop accepting debit cards from patients on Tuesday after the federal threats surfaced through US Attorney Andrew Lelling.

A majority of Massachusetts’ Medical Marijuana dispensaries had to cease accepting debit cards from patients on Tuesday after threats of a federal crackdown scared a key payment processing company to pull out of the Massachusetts pot market.

It seems that Medical Marijuana is being forced to go cash only here in Massachusetts. Lelling said, “Congress has unambiguously made it a federal crime to cultivate, distribute, and/or possess marijuana. As a law enforcement officer in the executive branch, it is my sworn responsibility to enforce that law.”

Our own politicians, such as Governor Charlie Baker, stepped forward and and attacked the federal stance on marijuana prohibition. He pointed out that our biggest public health crisis in the Commonwealth is heroin addiction and other street drugs such as fentanyl.

It’s a shame that the federal opposition is making it difficult to carry out the people’s wishes. It brings me back to the time when I sold marijuana for a living during the 60’s and 70’s. I loved growing it and selling marijuana. I felt as if I had my own liquor store.

As a matter of fact, in the small town of Hillsboro, New Hampshire, my place was known as “the store.” On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights I had a line waiting in my house as if it was a delicatessen. In my living room people would sit and wait while I took care of my customers in the kitchen.

I had an assistant at the house who would let people sample the different types of weed that I sold. I usually had at least 3 or 4 strains, based on smell and potency. I had home-grown, Mexican brown, Columbian gold, and sticky skunk weed which was the strongest of them all. We called it skunk weed because the odor of it wafted out of the bag as soon as you opened the seal.

Downstairs in the kitchen I had two scales set up to weigh the grass in front of the prospective customer. I loved the business and the hardest drug I sold was hashish. I supplied people by the joint, by the 1/8th of an ounce, the 1/4 of an ounce, half ounce, and the full ounce. I had special customers who had their own business; they would buy quarter pounds to five pound lots. From late afternoon through 10pm my business would run non-stop. My suppliers were varied and I would usually meet them early in the morning during rush hour, driving my pickup truck so I fit in with the rest of the travelers in the country.

My house was on a back dirt road and I was the landlord of seven apartments that were built in the barn that was next to my house. Marijuana is safe and none of my customers ever died from an overdose. I’ve never heard of anyone dying from an overdose of marijuana, which is not the case with alcohol.

My business was great. I did pay a price for it. In 1980 I was arrested traveling with 15 pounds of pot and a number of other things that I used for personal use. After two years living as a fugitive in Oregon, I was picked up and brought back to Massachusetts where I served two years in the Worcester House of Correction. After the two years I was worse than when I went in so correction was a misnomer indeed.

I find it ironic that alcohol is legal and marijuana is regarded by some as a dangerous narcotic. As a matter of fact, marijuana is not remotely connected to being a narcotic. When it was made a crime to possess and sell marijuana, it was because of a man named Harry Anslinger, who was a racist with a giant police force he used to arrest people using drugs after Prohibition, and alcohol during Prohibition.

If it wasn’t for the criminalization of marijuana, Harry Anslinger’s troops would have had to go on unemployment. Now we have finally come to a reasonable solution to the marijuana controversy and the Federal Government is making it difficult by blocking the will of the people. Do I still smoke? Not at all but it is only because I don’t care for the high. I find it ironic that when I did smoke I was considered a criminal and now I can smoke without fear of arrest but I don’t care to smoke anymore. I don’t even like to drink alcohol. My addiction is reading and writing. My wife would verify that.

I hope that the federal government backs off from its outmoded stance of regarding marijuana as a dangerous drug. I hope the federal government backs off on a lot of things it has threatened to do in the climate of ‘ours is bigger than yours’ politics.

It by Stephen King

It by Stephen King: “Pocket Books, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.; 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020; Published in 1986 and Republished in 2016.”

It, a book by Stephen King, demanded to be republished because of its powerful horror, which is personified by a supernatural that becomes Pennywise the Clown. It, the creature, reappears every 28 years and feeds on the children of Derry, New Hampshire.

A group of children band together to defeat this creature. Their power lies in the fact that they let their fear be wiped out and overcome. What does the creature really look like? There can something frightening about a clown, but It is more frightening than that.

Circus clowns make people laugh but underneath the laughter lays fear of the unknown. This book is one of the favorites of the Stephen King’s fan club; it is so popular that it has been made into a show for television. The author, King, was not satisfied with the show, but Pennywise The Clown has a dynamic role.

It has just been made into a movie again this year and Pennywise is much more frightening in the remake. One of the main characters is Bill Denbrough, a young man of 10 who stutters so much that behind his back he is known as “Stuttering Bill”, but no one uses the nickname to his face.

He is the leader of a group of children called “the Losers Club” and they hang out in a forested valley with a stream running through it. This area is called the Barrens and is also the lair of the creature known as Pennywise The Clown.

Pennywise morphs into your worst fear. If you are afraid of spiders, it will appear as a spider. Bill Denbrough has a younger brother known as “Georgie” who was the family favorite. One rainy day Bill builds Georgie a newspaper boat and waxes it so it can run down the streams in the gutters that build up when it rains heavily.

The boat is Georgie’s downfall. In the beginning of the story he is chasing the boat down the ripple of water by the curb and it flows into a sewer. The sewer system connects like a labyrenth under Derry and is the lair of “It.”

Georgie peeks into the sewer in a vain search for the boat and all of a sudden Pennywise the Clown, with a hysterical laugh, holds the boat up and says, “Here’s the boat Georgie; don’t you want it?”

Torn between fear and the desire to have the boat back, Georgie is coerced into reaching into the sewer to take the boat from Pennywise’s hand. Quicker than you can say “rip”, Georgie’s arm is torn from his body. Pennywise disappears into the sewer leaving Georgie dead and bleeding in the street.

The loss of Bill’s brother causes his stutter to get much worse. The Loser’s Club is composed of Richie Tozier, who sees Pennywise as a werewolf, Ben Hanscom, who sees Pennywise as his dad who died in World War II, Eddie Kaspbrak, who is a hypochondriac and his most feared illness is asthma, Stanley Uris, a young Jewish boy who does not believe in the unknown, Mike Hanlon, a young Black boy who grows up to be the Derry Librarian, and Beverly Marsh, a young and the only girl of the group. Her greatest fear is her father, who is not a nice guy.

Beverly’s father always says, “I worry about you and those boys; I worry about you a lot.” But the way he looks at her is not quite right.

It by Stephen King is really divided into two stories. In the first half, the children known as the Loser’s Club confront Pennywise in his lair and make silver slugs to shoot him down. Beverly Marsh is the best shot with a slingshot.

Down in the sewers, three school hoodlums, Henry Bowers, Belch, and Huggins, chase the Losers Club down into the sewers, only to become victims of Pennywise themselves. They get caught in what Pennywise calls his “Deadlights” which hypnotize them and make them unable to fight their fear.

I can’t tell you the story of the children’s confrontation with Pennywise because that could ruin the book but afterwards the children clasp hands and make a vow that if the children of Derry begin to be taken by Pennywise again, they will all return to finish him off for good. If they can, that is.

Mike Hanlon, who becomes the town librarian, is the only one of them who remains in Derry. The others leave town and become very successful.

Bill Denbrough becomes a famous horror writer. Ben Hanscom becomes an architect and Beverly Marsh becomes a decorator and winds up living with a man who is very abusive, just like her father.

Richie Tozier becomes a comedian and man of many voices and Eddie Kaspbrak still lives with his overpowering mother but gets rich as the owner of a giant limo service driving famous actors like Al Pacino around Hollywood.

Then there is Stanley Uris, the realist, who becomes a professor. It’s Mike Hanlon’s job, because he remains in Derry, to call the Loser’s Club together again if Pennywise reappears.

By the time the Losers Club starts their entry to middle age, the children of Derry begin to disappear again. It is 28 years later and Mike has to make the calls. No one is happy to hear his voice because of what it means. But they all pack up and leave for Derry, with the exception of Stanley Uris.

Stanley Uris goes upstairs to the bathroom, carefully lays his clothes on the closed toilet as the water in the bathtub fills steaming. Stanley lies in the water, a razor in his hand, and slits his wrists writing as he dies, on the wall in his own blood one word—IT.

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King

“Sleeping Beauties; Scribner; An Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.; 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020”

This book is an insane thriller and it is also a father and son re-union.  Owen King has written a few books by himself but this time he teamed up with his dad, Stephen King, to write a book about a disease that affects women when they go to sleep.

They sleep and a soft growth like the cocoon of a moth grows out of their mouths and covers their heads and the rest of their bodies.  But if you peel the cocoon off of their faces to get to them, the women go wild and become berserk killers.

In Dooling County, a relatively small women’s prison in the Appalachian Mountains, people are frightened because what you don’t know is more threatening than what you think you know.

The book begins when a meth lab blows up and a woman they refer to as the ‘Avon Lady’ kills the chemist by putting his head through the trailer wall.  Linny Mars, the desk dispatcher, takes the 911 call from Tiffany Jones, who is freaking out.

At first Linny Mars doesn’t believe Tiffany Jones but then she hears a boom in the background.  Linny asks Tiffany how they will be able to identify the ‘Avon Lady’ and Tiffany tells her that she’ll be the woman covered with the chemist’s , Truman Mayweather’s, blood.

Linny calls Lila Norcross, the deputy on duty, who doubts everything until she sees the smoke rising up near Adam’s lumberyard.  Then Lila sets out for the scene of the crime.

This book is full of twists and turns and women who are desperately trying to stay awake.  If you can imagine a women’s prison, staffed 50 per cent by women, where the male staff are always trying to get a little piece of sex from dissatisfied women who don’t want any part of it.

Dooling Correctional is a prison that has never won any awards for excellence.  There is too much going on there for that to happen.  Stephen King and Owen King work like madmen creating an insane world with a bizarre disease called the Aurora Sickness.

How is the disease spread? Does a moth carry it?  Does the Aurora Sickness affect animals?  There is a woman named Evie who can talk to animals.  She is locked up in the Dooling Correctional Center.  She sleeps but does not seem to be affected by the Aurora Sickness.  The cocoon never covers her.

Evie was arrested under the name of Eve Black after she blew up the meth lab where she killed Truman Mayweather and another gentleman.  I’ll use the word loosely here.

Stephen King and Owen King have been working together since Owen was a child.  Their first collaboration was not for public consumption.  Growing up in a house full of writers, Stephen, Tabitha, Joe and Owen were all full of word soul.

On the kitchen table there was an ongoing story where everyone took part.  Each person tried to leave the story in a place where it would take some verbal maneuvering to get the hero/heroine out of a seemingly impossible jam.

This ongoing game kept everyone in the house on their toes and helped them learn to build thrilling narratives.  The story drives the writer and the writer steers the story.  Nothing is impossible.  The webbing in Sleeping Beauties keeps all the characters in Sleeping Beauties dealing with all sorts of twists and turns.

There is a talking fox, a Mother Tree, and what does Eve Black have to do with the Aurora Sickness that covers women with something like webbing or while they appear to be asleep? Do the women who are sleeping in the cocoon communicate with each other in another psychic world?

While the men in the story think of the webbing and sleeping women as sick in the grips of a strange disease, it could it be just the opposite.  Why is it that when a person tries to strip the webbing from a woman’s face to wake her up, the woman reacts violently and slays the intruder as if they are invading a world where they are resting peacefully?

Owen King and Stephen King have come up with a story that is a dark fairy tale and very different than the fairy tale of the Sleeping Beauty where a kiss can bring the princess back to life.  It is quite possible that the women are enjoying being where they are in dreamland.

This book, Sleeping Beauties, is an evil tale and it is another King Conspiracy.  You can find it at the Harvard Book Store, where I bought mine, or on the Internet.  This appears to be Owen King’s breakthrough novel and I am sure that Joe Hill, Owen’s brother, is excited that another member of his family has reached out to twist the mind of the American and European public.

Don’t miss this twisted tale by Owen and Stephen King.

Cold City: The Early Years by F. Paul Wilson

Cold City: The Early Years by F. Paul Wilson. A Tor Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N Y 10010

If you’ve never read a Repairman Jack novel, Cold City: The Early Years is the perfect place to start. Jack Moore, which isn’t his real name, dropped out of Rutgers and moved to New York City and has, for a number of reasons, decided to work off the grid.

That means no Social Security number, no record of who he is, just a guy who doesn’t want to take part as a registered member of our civilization. In the beginning Jack is working off the books as a landscaper for a company called Two Paisanos Landscaping, even though there is only one Paisano.

The crew is five men, 4 Dominicans and Jack, the white boy. During the growing season they work 7 days a week and get paid $4 an hour off the books. It’s 1990 so that type of pay without any deductions doesn’t get you rich but you’re not poor either.

One of the Dominicans is named Rico and he was the lead man until Jack started working. Because Jack came from New Jersey and worked as a landscaper for 4 years, he had more experience than any of the other guys.

Why has Jack decided to drop out? The first three books of his life, as a teenager and until he was 24, create his story. When he was nineteen years old, some young prankster threw a cinder block off a bridge that ran over a throughway and it went smashing into the windshield of his parents car and his mother was killed.

In the very first book written about Repairman Jack called The Tomb, Jack hides on the overpass two or three nights a week until he catches the young punk who killed his mother. Revenge is not always a dish served cold.

One day Rico was in a particularly bad mood and starting ragging on Jack with various despicable slurs and Jack was struggling to keep his temper. Then Rico did the unforgivable. He started saying negative things about Jack’s mother. Jack did everything he could to hold himself together and, by some miracle, he did.

Then Rico, out of nowhere, sucker punched Jack and Jack saw black and used all of his martial arts skills on Rico. Jack broke Rico’s nose, kicked Rico’s knee so that it went backwards and got him on the ground and starting pounding on his face. Then Jack picked up a rock and was getting ready to smash it into Rico’s face and Giovanni, the owner of Two Paisano’s, wrapped his arms around Jack and lifted him into the air.

Giovanni held Jack up in the air and all of a sudden Jack cooled off. He told Jack to go home because the other three Dominicans were really angry and Giovanni said that when they went back to work one of them would have used the sharp gardener’s tools to kill Jack.

That was the end of Jack’s work as a landscaper in New York City. It wasn’t his last run in with the Dominican’s that he worked with but you’ll have to read the 1st three books of The Early Years: Cold City, Dark City, and Fear City to find out what happens next and why it happens.

Giovanni recommends that Jack get a gun just to stay safe and that is when Jack finds out that Abe, his close friend in New York who owns a sporting goods store, is also a weapon supplier. In the back room of the sporting goods shop is a giant room with a big sign on the wall that says “The Weapon Shop of Isher.” Have you ever heard of the science fiction writer named A. E. Van Vogt?

The next job Jack procures is through his weapon trainer, a man named Dane Bertel, who smuggles truckloads of cigarettes from North Carolina to New York City and is always in the market for a trustworthy driver. At $3,000 a trip, Jack gets a substantial raise.

On one of these runs, a major incident takes place that changes the course of Jack’s life. I don’t want to ruin the series so I can’t tell anymore about what happens.

I can say that if you have heard of the Jack Reacher series written by Lee Child and like it, you will love the series about Repairman Jack written by F. Paul Wilson which is about twenty books long. People clamor for Dr. Wilson to write more Jack stories but, at this time, he has taken a break and is writing other things. If they ever made Repairman Jack movies, and did them well, they would be giant moneymakers.

I highly recommend this series of books and I would say you should start with Cold City. There are others who would disagree with me but, that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it. The great thing about this series is, at this time, you can find these books in used book stores and on the internet for reasonable prices unless they happen to be signed by F. Paul Wilson, the writer.

Strange Weather by Joe Hill

William Morrow, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 195 Broadway, New York, New York 10007; Kelly.rudolph@harpercollins.com

Joe Hill knocks a home run out of the park with all bases loaded with Strange Weather, 4 novellas that will twist your mind and make your heart skip two beats a minute.

Strange Weather it is, with a major eclipse crossing the United States, an insane clown president with glowing eyes and a mouth that twitters faster than his brain, if he’s got one.

When there is a book of novellas, there is always one that strikes me as my favorite. My rainbow twist of the four is Loaded, about a mall security guard named Randall Kellaway back from the war in the Mid-East, not having served with honors for sure. He is crazy about guns but is far from being a true gunslinger (he lacks honor).

Kellaway isn’t allowed to have guns but he has plenty. And so does the disgruntled employee from the jewelry store that comes to take her revenge with a fancy revolver. She discovered her boss flashing her sex over the Internet and pulled the trigger.

Kellaway comes in with his illegal piece, sees a Muslim woman with something clutched to her chest and everything goes wrong. A witness sees everything and then it all goes black.

There’s a story behind everything that goes wrong in Loaded but that’s Joe Hill’s job. And he does it with finesse. His dad, Stephen King, has created a true gunslinger in Joe and he’ll never forget the face of his father; never be sent west. (Reference to The Dark Tower by Stephen King).

In another story called Aloft there’s a gent named Aubrey Griffin, frightened of heights, who agrees to a sky jump in honor of a dead friend. However, it all goes wrong because there’s a cloud that is alive and it won’t let him pass.

I’ll say no more than Joe Hill has his guns out and they are blazing throughout the length of this novella. Clouds are only supposed to bring Rain, which is the name of the final novella.

The rain that fell was sharp and solid and as deadly as Joe Hill’s words. Truthfully, Joe’s words are as deadly as the bullets that fly from a gunslinger’s heavy gun. Strange Weather is a collection of four stories that will truly keep you awake and realizing that Stephen King’s apple has not fallen far from the tree. In one of the stories a strange man carries a Polaroid camera that takes pictures and makes people forget. Joe Hill has here captured the imagination of his avid readers. He really does quite an excellent job on these novellas, as well as on his other short stories and novels.

Joe Hill’s first book was a book of short stories called 20th Century Ghosts; then he moved quickly to A Heart-Shaped Box, where a man who has played hard (like Ozzie Osbourn) buys a suit that travels with a deadly ghost that plays with a sharp silver blade. A Heart-Shaped Box would make a wonderful movie but it just hasn’t been done yet. Hopefully a good director will pick it up.

His other three novels are Horns, Nos4a2 and The Fireman. He blows the hole out of the bulls-eye on every single book. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his graphic novel by the name of Locke & Key, a book about keys that open doors to other realities and the family that is both blessed and cursed by them.

One other novella that Joe Hill wrote while he was traveling to a writer’s convention in 2006 is named Gunpowder, and is about teenagers with special talents who live on another planet. It is a powerful story in a hardcover all by itself in 3 forms. All three are hardcovers, one has no dust jacket, one does have a dust jacket, and the third is the deluxe edition with a dust jacket and slipcase. The first is a regular trade, the second is signed and numbered by Joe Hill, and the third is signed and numbered by Joe Hill and the artist Gabriel Rodriguez. They are all wonderful and rare.

There is a rumor that Joe is going to lengthen Gunpowder to a full-length novel and this would be great. But right now I highly recommend you buy a copy of Strange Weather. It will be released on October 24th but you can pre-order a signed copy on the Internet from Waterstreet books. It’s so good I just read Loaded for the second time.

I haven’t yet read anything by Stephen King’s other son, Owen. But I’m hoping that he’ll be just as exciting as the rest of the writing family. His new book, Sleeping Beauties, which Owen co-wrote with his father, will be released at the end of September.

These are the days of Strange Weather, which will follow the eclipse. Joe Hill is one of the great writers of these days.

The Opium Doctorate

 

My quest for the opium kingpin was finished. Through subterfuge and the help of corrupt officials, I had reached the village of Mae Ark, deep in the Heart of the Golden Triangle. I was surprised at the level of poverty that surrounded me.

I found myself in the small village, home to 48 families, all farmers, surrounded by fields of poppies. Ar Lain Ta, to my surprise, met me in the middle of the village. He did not need to identify himself. I had been studying his face for years in my quest to bring him to justice.

It was both mystifying and surprising that, no matter how long our powerful organization had searched, trying desperately to bring him in, with attempts to intercept him in airports, at meetings with other crimelords, at lavish hotels that he had registered in under assumed names, and conferences with corrupt government officials, every attempt to capture him ended in failure.

He had mocked us, leaving trails that ended in frustrated dead ends, and even was rumoured to dine with the highest officials in their own palaces while at the same time periodically drifting into dope infested slums of the city. There were common street junkies who had claimed to meet him, have coffee with him, even swore that they had scored small quantities of powerful heroin directly from him.

Ar Lain Ta was everywhere and nowhere, a brilliant man with two doctorates from Harvard University. There were those students who claimed that he still visited professors and attended colloquiums at various times to keep up with his two specialties, ethno-botany and international relations. All these stories were told after the fact and his professors had no comments, other than to say that he was a brilliant student. None of them admitted to any direct contact with him other than in a professional context and they all denied any dealings with him since his graduation despite evidence to the contrary that our organization managed to uncover. All our evidence, unfortunately, was circumstantial. None of it would aid us in his capture and some of the evidence would only hurt professors who were quite famous for their works, yet even those trails were not substantial enough to follow through on. In fact, there was no doubt that what we could show might even backfire on us and make our quest appear fascistic in nature.

And now, here I was, face to face with him, in the small village that was his home. Not only that, but I had assurances from various official power figures that they would not interfere in his capture and transport and I was free, if I could, to bring him to western justice. He was at the very top of our agency’s most wanted list and he had been wanted for many, many years.

“So,” he said, in perfect English, “you are the expert agent who has finally come to take me back. You may put away your weapon. I can assure you that I will share with you the ultimate truth as I know it.”
How he knew was beyond me. Up until the time that I had taken out my gun my mission had been totally covert and I had established myself as a buyer of opium. For some reason I felt compelled to listen to him and holstered my weapon.

He held out his hand to mine and I found no reason not to clasp it. So we shook hands.

At that moment, there was a rush throughout my body, my head spun, and all my tension left me. It was similiar to the feeling that I had when I was shot in combat and they administered morphine to me, yet it was even more powerful than that.

“Walk with me,” he said, “into the fields and I will show you the truth.”

The fields. The fields were full of flowers. As we walked I noticed shreds of colour spinning from Ar Lain Ta’s body. Petals falling. The words rained from his mouth and he grew smaller as he spoke.

“Soon the fields will be filled with men and women, many of them. These flowers you see, they are larger than them, they diminish us each day. It is necessary.

“This is just one of Nature’s strategies; no, not a strategy; Nature is not like that; It thinks God’s thoughts after Her. Strategies are made for men, for things with minds like men.

“All of you, wild to get the Kingpin, the master mind (I laugh at that word) of the drug trade, chasing yourselves like dogs after your own tails. I tell you this. No one will believe you. No one.”

He spread his arms wide, they spread and expanded like wings over the miles of poppy fields, sheer miles of them.

I could not speak. Oh, I would tell the truth. Maybe someone would dare to publish it. They’ll call it fiction; maybe science fantasy; maybe merely a fairy tale with a twist of lemon.

Ar Lain Ta turned to me and smiled.

“After all,” he said, “to believe, to understand, you would have to think like a plant.

“You should see it when the fields are filled with humans. How hard they work. The sweat pours from them like water.

“Balance. When any species upsets the balance of nature, the natural way of things, other forces work and swing them back. You want to bring them the Kingpin?

“Bring them this, all that surrounds you.

“I am not the Kingpin. Not even human. I exist at their bidding. At their bidding I cease to exist. You cannot take me, bring me back. I am only the physical manifestation of their minds.

“And they, the plants are only one of the forces that work, that work right now to set the balance right against a species that lives under an illusion that has made them into destroyers of the diversity, the life, the balance of nature.

“Look to yourself. You have met the enemy. He stands alone, alone in these fields.”

Ar Lain Ta reached out, touched me. I fell to the ground, deep in dream, opiate dream. He became a poppy plant; he flowered, then he was gone.

Since that moment, ever since then, the only peace I have is when the fruit of the poppy fuels my soul.

For a while I wandered, from place to place. Then I met a woman. Her name was Ron de Veux. She took me here, to the house of the Troll. I have never left.

There is nothing more to tell.

The Delicate Dependency by Michael Talbot

First Valancourt Book Edition, 2014, Richmond, VA; Previously published in 1982 by Avon Books, a paperback edition in 1982. Hard Cover Edition first published by Centipede Press in 2017; 300 copies exclusive.

The Delicate Dependency: A Novel of The Vampire Life was written in 1982 by Michael Talbot, an interesting man who lived most of his life in New York City, writing at times for The Village Voice, a Greenwich Village newspaper. The Delicate Dependency was his first novel and is regarded as one of the best vampire novels ever written.

The Avon paperback can be found in small bookstores and on the Internet and is quite high-priced. Of course, with the release of the new paperback the price should come down.

Michael Talbot is extremely intelligent and his book The Holographic Universe, which was written in 1991, is very well known. It is very dense and if you intend to read this book, settle down with a dictionary. If you are interested in physics, this book is right up your street.

In The Delicate Dependency, the vampire, as they call themselves in plural, are the keepers of all human knowledge and are scattered throughout the world, some of them living in monasteries. One of the vampire was actually a Pope in this book.

Dr. John Gladstone is the main human character. His two children, Ursula and Camille, play major roles. Camille, a young girl, is a savant. If she hears a tune played on an instrument, she can duplicate it to the very note on a piano.

For reasons that will be disclosed, the vampire Niccolo steps out in front of Dr. John Gladstone’s carriage, breaking Niccolo’s legs. Dr. Gladstone takes responsibility for Niccolo and takes him to the hospital where several peculiar events ensue.

Lady Dunaway, a fellow traveler with Dr. Gladstone, says, “Never trust the vampire, for everything they say and do is for some other purpose. They will play a cruel and enigmatic ‘game of the mind’ with you and it will be up to you to solve the puzzle, unravel the Gordian knot.”

Niccolo and Lodovico, two very old vampire, combine forces to kidnap Camille, the young musical savant. Lady Dunaway wants to travel with Dr. Gladstone, claiming that her son, a mathematical savant, has been kidnapped by the vampire.

Dr. Gladstone has a strange intuition about Lady Dunaway, who seems at times not quite human, although her body temperature is normal. The vampire have cool body temperatures and their heartbeats (in most stories about vampires they don’t have heartbeats) are about 34 beats per minute.

During the search for the two savant children, Dr. Gladstone and Lady Dunaway wind up in France and are taken prisoner by a vampire named Des Essientes. They are kept in separate, comfortable rooms, but they are told that they will be kept there for the rest of their lives because they have discovered too much about the vampire.

On alternate nights, they are sometimes given the run of the house, always under the watchful eye of a falcon that feeds on rotting meat. Therefore, if they try to escape, the falcon’s claws will infect them with lethal bacteria.

The falcon is the pet of a young vampire, Hatim, who was turned when he was a teenager. Hatim has many of the mannerisms of the falcon and his demeanor frightens Dr. Gladstone. When Dr. Gladstone asks Hatim how old he his, Hatim says that he doesn’t really know, but he assumes he was born over five hundred years ago.

If you have read the book Dracula by Bram Stoker, you will notice a similarity in the frantic chase scene when Dr. Gladstone and Lady Dunaway flee the vampire when they seem to be closing in on all sides.

Dr. Gladstone’s older daughter, Ursula, assists in their escape, but I will stop here and let you be chilled by it as you read the book.

Talbot has the vampire keep records of humanity for many centuries. Many vampire were living in monasteries during the dark ages. Lodovico, one of the oldest vampires, has birds and animals long thought extinct in his giant mansion and gardens, where he isolates himself from the rest of the world.

The Delicate Dependency is a book that is as interesting as the life of its author, who was way ahead of his time. Michael Talbot was gay, born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1953. He died of HIV related leukemia at the young age of 38.

Michael Talbot is regarded as one of the great minds of his generation and has been widely published. Even though not many people have heard of this book about the vampire, it is regarded as the best of its genre. The fact that it has been just reprinted, will make it available to vampire lovers worldwide. The paperback is within the price range of the average reader and the rare hardcover published by Centipede Press sells for close to one hundred dollars.

 

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar.  Published by Cemetery Dance Publications, 132B Industry Lane, Unit #7, Forest Hill, MD 21050, www.cemeterydance.com

When Stephen King partners up with another writer who shares the same darkness dancing on the buttons (keys) of his computer, magic happens. That is exactly what takes place when Richard Chizmar and King told a tale out of school and decided to name it Gwendy’s Button Box.

It is a story about a young girl named Gwendy Peterson who came to possess a beautiful wooden box that came with magic buttons and a great responsibility. There are many countries in our world where people in charge have buttons at their disposal, which would make horrible things happen, if they were to be pressed.

Those buttons are a great responsibility and the people of our world can only pray that the rulers of the countries that possess these buttons are of stable mind. Here in the United States, one of the most powerful countries in the world, the situation is debatable.

Nevertheless, we’re here to talk about a thrilling book called Gwendy’s Button Box, about a young girl who possesses that box and the changes it brings to her life.

The box doesn’t hold buttons; it has buttons attached to it, like keys on a computer, and each button is a different color. If a button is pressed it has an effect on a specific part of the world. Then there is the red button, which will give you whatever you ask for, when it is pressed.

There is also the black button, which should never be pressed; it is similar to the button that launches nuclear missiles all over the world. Similar but much more hazardous; it is a great responsibility to be in charge of that button, let alone the whole box.

There are also two levers, one on each side of the box. One dispenses the best chocolate Gwendy ever tasted, shaped like animals. The other lever doesn’t always work, but gives a pleasant surprise when it does.

When Gwendy presses the button for the chocolate animal, it comes out perfectly shaped; let’s say a small turtle this time. She pops it into her mouth and enjoys it immensely; afterwards, she has no desire for another chocolate that day.

As a matter of fact, after eating that chocolate, her desire for all unhealthy foods goes away. Gradually Gwendy finds herself losing weight. She had been overweight and even started running the Suicide Stairs to lose weight because Frankie Stone, not a nice guy in school, called her the Goodyear Blimp.

The exercise and the diet are effective, and now, when she looks down, Gwendy can see her feet. That wasn’t always the case.

Gwendy met Richard Farris, the man who gave her the button box, at the top of the Suicide Stairs. He had been sitting on the bench at the top of the stairs for about a week and seemed to have his eye on her.

He introduced himself, friendly-like, and gave her the box, explaining all of its ramifications. Mr. Farris appeared to be a nice guy and, despite warnings about talking to strangers, he allayed Gwendy’s fears. Mr. Farris wore a black bowler hat that suited him well. He gave her possession of the box with various warnings and cautions. Then he left and his hat blew off, resting on the grass next to the stairs.

But enough about Mr. Farris and the box. Let’s talk about the Suicide Stairs, so-called because it happened that a few people leapt to their death from the top of the stairway. For Gwendy, however, the Suicide Stairs changed her life for the better.

This book, written by both Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, is a thriller and had me on the edge of my seat. Richard Chizmar is not as well known as Mr. King but he has a twist in his mind that he can share on paper. Both writers are masters of their craft.

Cemetery Dance Publications has been putting out excellent books for a while now, many of them beautiful limited editions, signed and numbered by authors who can send chills up and down your spine. You’ll find Cemetery Dance Publications on the Internet where you can see the books they produce, giving great authors the opportunity to offer beautiful limited editions to the public.

Gwendy’s Button Box is one of the special books put out by Cemetery Dance Publications. Gwendy is one of those special people given a chance to deal with a great responsibility. I highly recommend this book. You can find it in bookstores and on the Cemetery Dance website.