Before moving on to the next “novel” attempt, I want to mention a novel-movie outline, vague as it was, that came to me in a dream as I lay in the University of Minnesota hospital recovering from surgery to repair an acetabular fracture from a convenience store fall, in January 1998.
The unnamed novel was in two parts. Part I took the first 40% of the novel and ended with a mysterious “nighthike” leading to a ritual ceremony affecting various characters, including “me” (“Bill”), and various other young men whom I had “watched” or “noticed”. The idea of such an initiation is explored in the screenpkay “69 Minutes to Titan” which I summarized here March 4, 2014. Bill “goes up” and becomes a nighttime wood spirit, disembodied, able to watch over all his charges from above on autumn nights. In the meantime, in the second half of the novel, the young men who had negotiated the initiation have various outcomes. Some will become immortals and find they are angels. Others have to go through various trials again. Bill gets to play god, from his astral perch, with all the other men. I suppose I have to give this dream a provisional title. Call it “Puppeteer” aka “The Disembodied Anthropologist”.
In a dream, there is something comforting about a Book in Two Parts, rather like the two movements of the Beethoven Op. 111.
The dream probably did influence “Tribunal and Rapture 2” The “nighthike and initiation” is depicted as a flashback (in Chapter 8), and although nobody becomes a ghost, the course of various characters’ lives seems to be affected by the experience. There is a problem with a scene like this if it is in the middle of a movie or a book, the penultimate sexual humiliation and release, the whole idea that a personality can defend and then fulfill itself by enjoying its own desecration, an idea that drives a lot of homophobia, frankly speaking. If too much happens in the middle of the book, the rest of the story can seem anti-climatic. It’s hard to follow up with an even more climactic conclusion.
Sometime after starting TR II while in Minnesota, I switched gears and started a “simpler” novel to be called “Rain on the Snow”, (conceptual video to be based on the “Bill gets reeducated at an Academy” concept. I can recall a moment, after checking into a hotel in Toulouse, France while on vacation in early May, 2001 about which novel I would try to finish when I went back.
The novel supposes that “Bill” loses his job in Minneapolis (soon 9/11 would happen, and the layoff did occur at the end of 2001) but gets an “offer” of a job in Texas requiring several months of “training” at an Academy in West Texas (near Abilene). The idea is to become an “asset person” capable of helping the country recover after massive terrorist-induced calamity (and it’s curious that I had thought some of this through in the 80s, (“Rapture of the Believers”, April 4, 2014, and then the first “Tribunal and Rapture”, April 6, 2014). There is a certain work ethic, dealing with the idea that “the buck stops with me” and “there is no They”.
The “Academy” sets Bill up with an apartment in Dallas, and lets him “go home” ever few weeks. At a nearby restaurant, he meets “The Prodigy”, a young man named “Matt”, working in a restaurant. It turns out that Matt has some ties to the Academy, but Bill learns about this on weekend field trips to Oklahoma, somewhere around the Wichita Mountains. Gradually, some of the other characters (from TR II) begin to appear at the Academy, including Naomi, who may be Matt’s mother.
Bill’s encounters with Matt (a softball game, then a chess game) become more personal and borderline intimate. Bill is “invited” to meet Matt at a hideway in Arizona, on the Mogollon Rim, near the site of the Travis Walton UFO abduction in 1975. Bill hitches a ride there from another one of the young men at the Academy,
In a remote hut in the desert (looking like an out-of-place ski yurt) Bill and Matt have an intimate encounter, which is very satisfying to Bill. Suddenly, Matt dematerializes. Bill leaves the scene, and find he enjoys having Matt’s body (in David Lynch fashion) until he returns to Dallas. At that point, he is stuck with his own elderly male body again, and hears on the news that Matt’s dismembered corpse has been found. Bill goes back to see his mother in Virginia, but US Marshalls and police track him down, and he is arrested.
He is held without bond in Arizona, but introduced to a mystery woman named Tovina, who prods him into having sex when she gets into his jail cell. The state drops homicide charges for insufficient evidence, but it wants to prosecute him for prosecuting a minor, because Matt was supposedly 17 at the time, and the age of consent in the state in 18. There is a trial and Bill is convicted of misdemeanor charges and sent to a work camp. Tovina intervenes, and Bill is taunted by a fat prisoner named Oeter. Bill stabs Oeter in the gut at about the time aliens arrive in Arizona. Bill breaks out of prison, and goes back up north to a “nighthike initiation”, after which the world will know that aliens have landed.
The book was set up in 25 chapters, and there was a complete text by early 2003.
After I returned to Virginia, I hit upon the idea of developing a larger novel around the core, with the pre-histories of Matt, his mother, and of the characters who run the Academy (Frankie, who had earlier dealings with Bill, and a mysterious “fallen angel” named Femeri). Of some interest is an opening sequence where Naomi bought a condo from Bill in Dallas in the 80s, lost a husband and child, and then had another child, Matt, under supernatural circumstances. It was necessary to space the years of the pre-story properly so the “age of consent” issue could make sense.