Where it began

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     Somewhere between learning the alphabet and reading Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, I decided to pick up a pen and write. That first book, the first that lit a fire inside me, became the inspiration for a lifetime.

This passage gave a 10-year-old the chills, chills which had nothing to do with the cool November morning, as I sat on the porch of my childhood home…

“Dad, will they ever come back?”
“No. And yes.” Dad tucked away his harmonica. “No not them. But yes, other people like them. Not in a carnival. God knows what shape they’ll come in next. But sunrise, noon, or at the latest, sunset tomorrow they’ll show. They’re on the road.”
“Oh, no,” said Will.
“Oh, yes, said Dad. “We got to watch out the rest of our lives. The fight’s just begun.”
They moved around the carousel slowly.
“What will they look like? How will we know them?”
“Why,” said Dad, quietly, “maybe they’re already here.”
Both boys looked around swiftly.
But there was only the meadow, the machine, and themselves.
Will looked at Jim, at his father, and then down at his own body and hands. He glanced up at Dad.
Dad nodded, once, gravely, and then nodded at the carousel, and stepped up on it, and touched a brass pole.
Will stepped up beside him. Jim stepped up beside Will.
Jim stroked a horse’s mane. Will patted a horse’s shoulders.
The great machine softly tilted in the tides of night.
Just three times around, ahead, thought Will. Hey.
Just four times around, ahead, thought Jim. Boy.
Just ten times around, back, thought Charles Halloway. Lord.
Each read the thoughts in the other’s eyes.
How easy, thought Will.
Just this once, thought Jim.
But then, thought Charles Halloway, once you start, you’d always come back. One more ride and one more ride. And, after a while, you’d offer rides to friends, and more friends until finally…
The thought hit them all in the same quiet moment.
…finally you wind up owner of the carousel, keeper of the freaks…
proprietor for some small part of eternity of the traveling dark carnival shows….
Maybe, said their eyes, they’re already here”.
                                                               -Ray Bradbury

     I grew up surrounded by the “Sleepy Hollow” folklore in the Hudson Valley area of New York State. Whispers of Indian legends from the Catskill Mountains,  were part of my world view. Horror movies on Saturday morning and indulgent parents who allowed me to explore dark legends and myths further fueled the creative fires.

     So unlike Charles, or Jim or Will, when the realization hit me in the same quiet moment as I read, I wasn’t afraid. No, because I wanted to be the owner of the carousel. The carousel being the world I would create. I would be the proprietor for some small part of my own eternity, the books I would write. I picked up the pen and never put it down.



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