Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Four in the Morning - Gully Gods

I’m at the age now when I say something like, “I’ve known Edward M. Erdelac for almost half my life,” it sounds a bit weird to me. And somewhat frightening.

But it’s true. I’ve known Ed since I was about fourteen years old. We first met in high school. I don’t remember that moment (I doubt Ed does, either), but do I remember we were in the same homeroom our sophomore year.

Since our last names started with ‘E’ we sat near each other. If I remember correctly, Ed sat directly in front of me. I wasn’t a very talkative person back in high school. I’m still not. But I listened a lot. And one of things I remember about Ed is he loved to write, even then.  

After high school, Ed and I lost touch, but about four years ago, a mutual high school friend who also writes connected the three of us again. I had no idea that mutual friend – Wayne – was still writing, but I knew Ed was. And when I was invited to be part of Four in the Morning, the horror anthology composed of four novellas, including one that would be written by Ed, I didn’t hesitate.

How could I not? Ed can write his ass off.

I mean, who else can take a punk-ass gangbanger from Houston named J-Hoss, put him in a rough Chicago neighborhood, weave in some truly fucked up supernaturalism based on a real-life Liberian warlord, and then humanize that gangbanger with Black Seminole heritage and a soft heart for his little cousin Adelaide, who likes ponies and Dora the Explorer?

Nobody can, but Ed. And he does a damn good job of it, too.

“Gully Gods,” Ed’s novella, which follows my novelette, "Half Dark," in the Four in the Morning anthology, is a full-bodied and layered piece of writing that has more than just guns and naked madmen and blood and scattered brains.

But there’s nothing wrong with that, either:

Then I notice that the border of the drawin’ got this crazy orange and red and black wavy line, but it ain’t just decoration. It like a big fuckin’ snake, stretchin’ from one wall to another. It coil over all the pictures, twistin’ through ‘em. I don’t see no head. The candlelight make it look like it movin.’ It make my neck hairs stand up.

Then, while I lookin’ close, I see somethin’ on the shelf. There be a row of bowls there, with what look like blood and…hearts. There be hearts in them bowls. I see the bowl I drank outta last night. Then I see somethin’ tucked behind the bowls. I hold the candle close. I almost drop it when I see what it is.

It be my gradndaddy’s rodeo belt buckle.

Billy Carvallo, All-Around Cowboy, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, 1952.

My hand shake when I pick it up. There be dried blood on there. I scrape it off with my fingernail.
I stumble a little bit, my head poundin,’ makin’ my ears ring.

I look up, tryin’ to catch my breath.

I find the head of the snake.

It be on the ceiling, grinnin’ down on me with rows of sharp teeth. It ain’t like no real snake I ever seen. It be like…it be like how I saw or think I saw Hitler’s teeth last night. All of ‘em pointed, like a shark, and they black and red. The red be blood. The black be people. Little people tangled up in between the teeth, they mouths open, s’posed to be screamin.’ The head be almost like a man’s, the eyes made outta millions of black circles, one after the other. They look like pits you could be sucked up in.

The big shark-snake thing be Nyanbe-a-weh.

I drop the candle. It smash on the sticky floor.

I almost knock all the bowls off the shelf. I just about fall out. I get outside and just stand there with my hands on my knees, breathin,’ tryin’ to get fresh air. But ain’t no fresh air. The whole place stink.

Edward M. Erdelac. “Gully Gods.” Four in the Morning.

Check it out.

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