Thirteen Days to the Suicide Woods: Day 11 — Easter Eggs

I throw “Easter eggs” into a lot of stories. Little hints and names and nuggets that are supposed to pass by you if you aren’t familiar with them. But if you are familiar, they’re meant to make you smile or think a little.


For instance, a few stories in 13 VIEWS OF THE SUICIDE WOODS are set in places familiar to me and a few other people.

I wanted to set The Blood and the Body on the top floor of a three-story house to subvert the imagery of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven stacked on top of one another. As Em ascends, things become more sinister for her. But I didn’t want to have to think too hard about the layout of the house or the neighborhood around it, so I set the story in a friend’s former condo. I wanted a setting I could easily call to mind, but also, I wanted to poke at my friend by doing bad things to people in his study. I think he was amused. His only comment to me about the story (when he read an early draft), is that his back yard below the deck was brick, not concrete.

In The Bones has a similar moment on a high wooden deck, though it’s not the one at that friend’s condo. That one’s set outside on a law school friend’s apartment in Connecticut. Both scenes outside, however, are informed by my own experience with my first cigar on that deck.

My law school friend had smuggled at Cuban Cohiba across the border from Canada for me (those lawless Canadians!). He gave it to me at a party and left me to my own devices on the deck. Though I hadn’t ever smoked one before, I used to smoke clove cigarettes in college and thought I knew what I was doing. I got the thing evenly lit like I’d watched a couple of other people out on the same deck doing and then took a big drag, filling my lungs. I found out rather quickly, you don’t inhale cigar smoke. I didn’t want to choke and let on that I had no idea what I was doing, so I held the smoke in. I couldn’t breathe, I went blind, my head was spinning, and I was death-gripping the rail of his third story deck so I wouldn’t topple over the side and fall to my death. My friends saw how badly green I was turning (despite the dark night) and all had a good laugh. The friend who gave me the cigar informed me that it wasn’t a joint, I didn’t have to hold it. Lessons learned. I now know how to smoke a cigar, and I tend to get nervous on upper story decks.

The second half of that story is set in the hospital where I had my appendix out.

Blood Makes the Grass Grow takes place in a couple of locations I encountered on a family getaway in Maine a few years ago. We were vacationing with friends who had a dog who got injured jumping into a pond after a stick. The vet is the one we found on Yelp. And yes, that organic farm with the Rasta flag and the sign with the vegetable pun on it really exists (though everything about the proprietors, their real business, and their visitors are all fiction). That’s my dark vision of the Maine state motto: The Way Life Should Be!

Finally, The Boy Who Dreamt He Was a Bat and This Last Little Piece of Darkness are stories unique to this collection. Only a handful of people have read them. Bat is set in the house I lived in as a child in the Berkshires and on the shores of a lake in which I almost drowned. Darkness was also set in a childhood residence—this time in a duplex on the other side of the country. They’re chilling places that make me feel little and helpless when I think of them. I don’t expect anyone to find those Easter eggs. Those were hidden a long time ago in places only I know, so no one would ever find them. Except, I’m giving them to you now.

The Woods Have Been Waiting

NEXT STOP: Vineyard Horror


~ by poǝןɔɐɯ uǝʞɔɐɹq on 11/03/2017.

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