Saturday, August 22, 2015
*Greetings one and all. Today I take great pleasure in introducing you to yet another character from "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home". Meet Doctor Jonathan "Jack" Tyler, or Doctor Jack as everyone calls him. He's another member of Nathan's extended family, as well as a dear friend to Brian and his family. Jack of course knows Nathan's secret and being the town surgeon, keeps a good supply of blood on hand for him. But Jack didn't always know about Nathan, and he's here to tell you all how he found out. I hope you enjoy meeting him and hearing his tale...
Things were busy at the clinic today, as they've been most of the week. With the start of school there were a lot of last minute immunizations, check-ups, summer sniffles and whatnot to deal with. Things should quiet down for a bit, but soon it'll be cold and flu season again. Then of course there'll be the holidays, not that I mind. I love helping decorate the clinic with my staff. I'll also get to help with the decorations at home as well, but that won't be for a few weeks.
God I love this time of year, seeing all the leaves turning it's as if mother nature whipped out her most vibrant paints and started dabbing at the trees. Looking up I saw the sun was already setting and quickly got into my car. From there I drove out of town and soon found myself driving down some the most beautiful country roads, bordered by forest on both sides.
Turning down a well-known side road, I headed deeper into the woods until I started seeing cars dotting both sides of the street. But I could see people heading back to their cars. Not many folks like to wander the trails after the sun started going down, but me and my wife love it out here. I manage to find a good spot to park near where the street actually ends in a wide circle, designed so folks can turn around and head back the way they came. There's also a fence with an opening that puts your right on the walking path that leads into the woods.
Getting out, I recognized a number of my patients and neighbors. This is a popular stretch of woods and in autumn, none of us can get enough of this area. As I make my way down the picturesque path I'm transported back to another time, some thirty years ago, when my life had taken a much darker outlook. My mother had been diagnosed with cancer, and suddenly my world of popularity on and off the playing field had become so meaningless...
My ruminations are suddenly interrupted by the appearance of a red fox who is standing in the middle of the path a dozen yards ahead of me. The animal is looking at me and cocks its head in a curious fashion. There had been a fox back then too, I remember.
The animal starts to swish its tail excitedly and then proceeds to trot towards me, stopping occasionally as if to check me out. Finally, when it's just a few feet away, it gets excited and then races around my legs and then starts heading off to the path. It pauses briefly to stare at me and I just know I'm supposed to follow him, which I do.
Soon, I find myself deeper in the woods, listening to the crunching of the leaves beneath my feet, as well as enjoying the canopy of gold, red, yellow and green above me. I also keep track of my guide who keeps stopping to make sure he hasn't lost me. As we venture deeper into the woods the sounds of a running water reach my ears and I know for sure where I am and who's waiting for me.
We come to a clearing that overlooks a large stream with a waterfall just off to my left. Ahead of me there's a big blanket spread out with my wife Cheryl setting out plates. My son and daughter, Joe and Darlene are with her. While over by the edge of the stream stands my mother and the man who saved her, Nathan. Although she's still in her late sixties, I have to admit she's still a fine looking woman. The fact that she wouldn't still be here if not for our family friend and guardian, has never been lost on me or my wife. She and I had been high school sweethearts and I'd nearly pushed her away when my mother got the cancer diagnosis, but Nathan kept me from losing her as well.
He'd found me in this very spot all those years ago and given me hope when I thought there was none to be found anywhere. That was the day he'd also shared his secret with me and showed me that even when life throws you what seems to be the ultimate curve ball, that hope can appear out of that darkness if you just keep your eyes open.
I look up and see the sun is fading. Soon the stars will be out. I wonder if tonight will be the night that Nathan shares his secret with my children? A part of me hopes so. The truth can be frightening, but it can also be wondrous as he showed me that lonely autumn night so long ago...
TO BE CONTINUED...
Monday, August 17, 2015
I've been having a tough time getting a completed 1st draft of "The Door" finished by the end of this summer as I originally planned. The story is coming along very nicely, however I had planned on releasing it in late September/early October, which is becoming less and less likely.
Furthermore, I had already planned on releasing "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" in December to catch the holiday crowds.
So I would like to know how you would feel about a "Double-Release" in December?
I have been hearing from a number of people who have been clamoring for one or both books, and I'm perfectly at ease with the idea of releasing both at or around the same time.
Furthermore, I want to let you all know that I've already got at least one other book lined up for the middle of next year, so you won't have to wait long for another installment.
Please leave your thoughts on this idea in the comment section below. Your opinions are important to me, so please take advantage of this opportunity to express your feelings and wishes.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
I didn't have to come all the way out to here to Hollywood to do the signing, but I wanted to. It had been a long time since my last trip out here and I wanted to see how much things had changed.
As usual I waited until evening to make my pilgrimage and began exploring the streets. Eventually I found myself wandering down the Walk of Fame. I hadn't even realized it at first, which goes to show how much my head was still in the clouds from my movie deal. But when I did notice I couldn't believe whose name was on the star at my feet.
For a moment I couldn't move and had to fight back the red-stained tears that wanted to come. But I knew a man crying blood would really cause a commotion, or a land me a movie role with my luck. so I held them back and just kept staring at the star.
I remembered the first time I saw him on stage. It was my job that night to man the 'crook' (the comedic giant hook) to pull acts that were bombing off the stage (which I sometimes hated). I never liked seeing anyone fail, bu sometimes it was for the performers own good. You never knew what might get thrown at you instead of a rotten tomato. The crowds could get pretty ugly some nights.
But on this night I was told that the performer wanted it to be used. So I did as I was told. Next thing I knew this big, heavy fellow came out on stage and began singing and oh what a voice he had. It was so lovely, but some people in the crowd started booing and tossing things onstage. I didn't know it at the time, but those people were put there by the stage manager, so Mr. Arbuckle could dodge and tease as he continued his song. The man was so nimble I couldn't believe my eyes. It was like watching someone moving on air, especially when he danced. I was so transfixed I almost forgot to do my job and try to use the oversized hook to get him. But I remembered just in time and almost got him... almost. The man somersaulted out of the way and wound up in the pit with the musicians, making the audience go wild.
Afterwards, I went to find the fellow to congratulate him on a fantastic performance. As I searched for him, I asked one of the other performers where I could find the man. I hadn't caught Roscoe's name and had to describe him to which the fellow I was asking said, "Oh you mean Fatty, that's what we all call him."
Instinctively, my back stiffened. I'd known a number of soldiers who got unflattering nicknames, which they hated and I refused to repeat. Straightening up I said evenly, "The man has a real name you know?"
As soon as those the words left my lips, a voice behind me said, "Yes I do. It's Roscoe Arbuckle and I'm pleased to meet you."
Turning I saw the man I'd been seeking who gave me a big warm smile and a hearty handshake. It was the first of many encounters. I found Roscoe to have a heart bigger than his frame. He'd let me help him practice routines and songs, as well as teaching me how to take pratfalls and do comedy. I had many mentors when it came to learning how to be funny, but Roscoe was the first. I got so good, he wanted to use me out on stage, but I wasn't ready. Some of his performances took place in the daytime and of course I could only operate at night. This puzzled him at first, but later on he learned my secret (a tale for another time) and quickly understood.
But our friendship continued to grow and blossom, as did I under his guidance. By the time four brothers: Arthur, Julius, Leonard, Milton and Herbert (better known as The Marx Brothers), entered my life I was very well versed in comedy. However, when Hollywood beckoned we had to say farewell for a time. He had wanted me to come with him and I readily agreed. However, the studios insisted on some test footage be shot. Roscoe knew about my condition by this time and insisted on doing the shooting himself. So he and I, along with his cousin Al St. John shot a few scenes only to discover that film could not capture my image. The footage, which I still possess and have carefully had restored, is quite funny. It looks as thought Roscoe and Al are dealing with an invisible ghost who's handing or tossing things to them. For a brief while Roscoe thought about using me anyway for such a film, but it would've meant others finding out about what I was so the idea was scrapped and I went back to Vaudeville.
However, Roscoe and I kept in touch regularly and visited each other frequently. Every so often on a rainy day when he was shooting indoors, I got to visit the set and met his protege' Buster Keaton. As it turned out I already knew Buster from his early days as a child star when he'd performed with his parents.
I also got to meet Roscoe's dog and fellow star Luke. Luke was an English Pitbull who belonged to Roscoe's wife Minta Durfee. She'd gotten the dog as a bonus from one of her producers after she'd pulled off rather dangerous stunt for a movie. Luke was a sweetheart and took to me right away. To this day I still consider Luke one of the most talented animals I'd ever met. I often model my 'Black Puppies' after him, especially their behavior. He was such a fun dog.
Looking down at the star I sighed quietly and said, "Well Roscoe, I'm finally making my mark here in Hollywood. I hope I do you proud, old friend." With that I looked around to make sure no one was around or looking at me. Then I did a few steps from Roscoe's "Butcher Boy" film, remembering how he'd taught it to me, and then took a bow.
After that I moved on. But as I did so I heard a faint clapping coming from behind me. I turned but didn't see anyone. Not that they couldn't have been hidden someplace, but a part of me liked to think Roscoe was giving me the applause he'd always felt I'd been denied so many years ago.