“Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness.”
—“The Outsider,” H.P. Lovecraft
Douglas sits alone at the side of the house, waiting for the Aunts to call him in, alert to the slightest creak of the front door or to one of their hard-toed shoes sounding upon the porch. They cannot see him from inside the house, so he always has time to hide the magazine, shoving it into the crawlspace along with the rest of his collection. There is a trace of autumn in the Sunday evening air, and the summer-blanched leaves of the old sycamores send a rustling shade over the crumbling pages he turns so slowly and savoringly. The paper feels soft and rough as a kind of leafy bark, not dissimilar to the earth where he crouches and thumbs through his issues of Weird Tales again and again.
The date on the magazine is April 1929. This is only September, yet he has read the copy cover to cover so many times that the magazine appears as worn as one twenty years old, its bright reds faded to vermilion, the fearsome masked priest now a colorful faceless smudge. The other issues are in worse shape, what’s left of them. Hard to imagine that once they had been bright and crisp—as bright as the quarters or the stacks of pennies he’d shoved across the newsstand counter. Some, found in downtown secondhand shops, were old when he’d bought them for a fraction of their cover price. But they are no less precious for it. His only regret is that the oldest ones suffer more from his constant rereading, and he has been forced to stop carrying them around with him, away from the house and the watchful Aunts, to the parks and libraries and quiet private places where a boy might hide and read in peace, and seek the strange thrills these stories provide.
Douglas hides the magazines from the Aunts because they have already shown they do not understand. They have forbidden him to spend his allowance on such things; forbidden them in the house; forbidden him from reading such horrors. “Nightmares, trash and madness,” they had called the tales; and that word alone had ensured his disobedience, for it was madness he sought to understand. Madness was the reason he lived here, after all; it was the reason the old women had brought him in as a foster child: “A kind of madness took them,” was all they ever said when he asked about his parents. More than that, and the nature of madness, he was left to investigate on his own; and it came to him in these tales which spoke openly of unreason, of madness caused by fear. And as he read, he became enwrapped in a kind of beauty, borne by the words. Madness became a key, opening the door to new worlds where he could lose himself while feeling that he could go beyond himself…
Hinges squeal. “Douglas? Douglas, child, where are you?” Aunt Melissa steps onto the porch and comes quickly toward the corner. Douglas shoves the magazine into the dark opening and slips back around the side of the house until he stands in the back yard. He makes her call again, louder, and then responds. “I’m back here, ma’am!”
She cranes around the side of the porch, looking exasperated. He strides toward her, passing the crawlspace, and hurries up the front steps to stand at her side.
“Well, I promise you, I looked back there and didn’t see a thing. Come in now and have your supper. Aunt Opal and I have things to do—we can’t be waiting past dark while you dig your holes or arrange your soldiers, or whatever it is you get up to back there. School tomorrow, so early to bed tonight.”
“That’s a good child. Come and eat then. Oh, and before I forget.”
She produces from one deep pocket a bright silver quarter. His heart leaps at the thought of what it will buy him. He hides not his smile but only its meaning. “Thank you, Aunt.”
“Remember now, it’s more than many have these days. Spend it wisely, as I’m sure you will. God bless you, child, you’re a good boy.”
The school day drags. Douglas sits alone, as ever, in the back of the sweltering classroom, writing slowly, scarcely seeing the columns of numbers he must add and manipulate, the dull rote words he must read. At recess he remains inside with his treasured April issue, gazing at the jumbled, nightmarish illustration that accompanies “The Dunwich Horror.” Miss Marsh leaves him to his solitude. She has long since stopped trying to convince him to go out with the other children. She frowns, he thinks, whenever he produces one of his magazines; but she has never tried to confiscate one, never questioned what he reads. In this sense, the classroom is safe—perhaps the safest place he knows. Certainly safer than the schoolyard.
Today, a shadow falls over his desk. Miss Marsh hovers over him. “Douglas?”
Feeling his cheeks flush, he looks up at her, closing the magazine, pushing it under the desk.
“That’s all right, dear. I was just wondering…I believe you might have just enough time to make it to the newsstand and back before lunch is over. Unless I’m very much mistaken about what day it is.”
Her smile is knowing. He starts to speak, but whatever he might blurt, as he rises from his desk, banging his knees, nearly knocking his papers to the floor, remains unsaid.
“Don’t be long now, Douglas.”
Out the schoolhouse, out the gate, and down the busy street. A streetcar jangles past; as he waits on the curb, he digs into his pocket, fails to find the quarter, and experiences a moment’s terror—until his fingers brush the warm disk, and he pinches it, brings it out to reassure himself of its presence. He rubs it like a good luck charm. The streetcar passes and he darts across the street to the row of shops across the way, the newsstand at the corner.
For a moment the racks confuse him, and he seizes up with dread. What if it isn’t here yet? There are piles of periodicals wrapped in twine, still to be unpacked and set out. Another thrill of disappointment, as when he thought his quarter lost, grips him. Then he spies the bright lettering, in an unaccustomed spot, peering out above the top of a mystery magazine: Weird Tales, The Unique Magazine.
He pulls it from the rack, slaps his quarter on the counter, cutting off the newsdealer’s nasty snarl, and rushes away with hardly a glimpse at the cover: An enormous ape carries off a woman in a gauzy pink slip. More than that, he won’t allow himself to see until he has time to truly savor it.
He slips back into the classroom with a few minutes of recess remaining. Miss Marsh gives him a smile, and as he lays the issue reverently on the desk, she comes a few steps closer. For the first time, he refrains from hiding the magazine. Although it pains him to hold still, he looks up and sees her gazing at the cover. Her eyebrows arch; she laughs. “Oh, my,” she says. “That looks like a very exciting story. Who wrote that one, do you think? Are these the authors?” She reads down the names listed on the cover: “Sophie Wenzel Ellis. Seabury Quinn. H.P. Lovecraft…”
His heart leaps at the name. Lovecraft! A new story! Douglas almost opens the issue right then, but Miss Marsh’s expression gives him pause.
“H.P.,” she says again. “I wonder if that could be the same…Howard Phillips…of Providence itself. Do you know his stories, Douglas? You do? I believe he is a local man. In fact, I think he lives not far from you on College Hill. Perhaps he’d like to know he has a bright young reader right here in Providence.”
Miss Marsh suddenly catches sight of the clock, and gives a little gasp. Rushing to the door, she leans outside and bangs the triangle. The clanging blends into the shouts of children, and the room fills up again with the greater noise of students. Miss Marsh catches and holds his gaze through the crowd, but what she has promised seems too great to acknowledge. He looks away, rolling up the magazine and shoving it under his desk. What else does she know about him, he wonders? Does she understand how madness haunts him? Would the writer, H.P. Lovecraft, understand? It all seems too secret, too personal, to discuss with anyone. But if anyone might understand, it would be a man like the one who writes such stories.
He hardly notices the passage of the afternoon, wondering if what she said could be true. At home, the Aunts have gone off on some errand, leaving him free to surround himself with his collection. He sorts through the magazines and pulls out everything by Lovecraft.
Combing through the issues, he sees how many of these stories are by one man—by this same Lovecraft of Providence. He had not recognized the pattern until Miss Marsh pointed it out. The thought that a living person could have written these stories had never occurred to him. He had not required that of them. They existed, that was enough. They carried him away to other lands, other places exotic and faraway—with names like Celephais and Sarnath, Ulthar and Ilek-Vad—all so different from the names he saw around him: College Hill and Federal Hill, worlds, he saw now, which were locked away in the stories of Lovecraft. From one mind, then, so many of Douglas’s own dreams had sprung. The knowledge is a key turning in a lock, revealing a new dimension to what he had already known. Indeed, Lovecraft had written “The Silver Key,” in which Randolph Carter found a secret path into a land of dream; he had written “The White Ship” and “The Cats of Ulthar,” and other tales of dream. But he had also written “The Rats in the Walls,” a tale of madness that had chilled and fascinated Douglas in equal measure; “The Festival,” “The Call of Cthulhu,” “The Outsider,” “Pickman’s Model”…and these truly are tales of madness. They hold secrets dark as the ones that haunt Douglas, the nightmares that torment him when he tries to think beyond his own memories, to a time before the Aunts had taken him in, a muddled dream which tells him nothing, a dream which remains impenetrable, approachable only, perhaps, through a deeper understanding of what madness itself might mean.
He crouches by the house in the deepening gloom, reading and rereading, searching for clues. The latest issue holds a story of Lovecraft’s called “The Hound,” a tale of grave robbers who pilfer a cursed amulet and are pursued relentlessly by its winged guardian. Douglas has read the story before, in one of his older issues of Weird Tales, but it takes him some time to recognize it. Everything seems altered by the fact that it was written here in Providence. He pictures the story taking place somewhere nearby—the graveyard might be Swan Point; the baying hound pursues the robbers through familiar neighborhoods rendered strange and mysterious, filtered through the light of Lovecraft’s words. His whole world feels changed in much the same way as the story. Providence itself has acquired a twilight tinge, a mysterious beauty he had never noticed until now. It took Lovecraft to make him see it.
His Aunts would know how to find the man. They have lived here all their lives; they know everyone, from the oldest families to the newest residents of the neighborhood. They had grown up in Providence when it was a much smaller town, and they still treat it as their own village. But how is he to question their knowledge without letting them know what he’s asking? For Douglas is quite certain they would not approve.
He decides on a sacrifice. He will pose a riddle and watch them attempt to answer it, and in the attempt learn much.
Douglas sorts his tattered magazines, looking for a cover that features Lovecraft’s name in suitably large letters. There are few appearances, and most are in small characters, rubbed illegible by constant use. Cringing inwardly, he returns to the latest, September, issue. With a pair of Aunt Opal’s sewing scissors, he slices into the brand-new cover, painstakingly cutting around Lovecraft’s name, removing the block of bright text. The wounded magazine he carefully replaces in the crawlspace, then slips onto the porch and puts the slip of colorful writing under the brass knocker, just at eye level. Then he lets himself into the house and busies himself with homework until he hears a clatter at the door: the Aunts are home. Muffled exclamations. They enter the house in a state of heightened excitement, their voices high chirps of curiosity.
“That’s Lillian Clark’s nephew, isn’t it?”
“I know who it is, and I certainly don’t intend to encourage him.”
“Missy, whatever do you mean? He’s no harm, that one. The poor fellow.”
“He’s not right and never has been. The hours he keeps. I hear he is an Atheist, did you know that?”
“Let’s be charitable, now.”
“The fact remains…whatever does he mean by this? Leaving it as some sort of calling card. Keep your distance from that one.”
“I was only thinking I might ask Miss Lillian.”
“Come now, it’s only a short walk, what could it hurt? If her nephew is becoming more erratic, she should know. Before he harms himself, the poor man. You remember that time he collapsed on the street during a cold spell?”
“The only reason to speak to Lillian Clark is to ensure that she keeps her nephew away from us. If you wish to speak to her on that account, then I will accompany you.”
“I will do no such thing. Let’s just keep this to ourselves for now. If there’s another event, then…then we’ll discuss further steps. Now where is that boy?”
As Douglas listens, he cannot help but feel a kinship growing—affinity for a stranger. If the Aunts knew his secrets, would they speak of him in similar tones? Doesn’t muttering follow him about—on the schoolyard, in the streets, haunting him, setting him apart? In this he feels a kinship to all outcasts. It sharpens his resolve.
He finds Lillian Clark’s house the very next day, simply by greeting the postman on the walk to the Aunts’ front door. The postman is happy to provide the street number and even a description. Douglas stops short of asking if he knows the name of Lovecraft. He does not want the great, the wonderful man to be warned of his existence. Douglas’s admiration, his hopes, are too sensitive and secret. The deep sense of kinship he feels dare not name itself. It must be nourished in darkness. But he knows that if he can get close, he can touch the man directly—let him know that he understands, that they are kindred, that they share the same visions. But caution is engrained in his nature. Douglas prepares slowly.
In the shortening days, he devotes a measure of each afternoon before dusk to walking repetitively past the Clark residence, which proves to be not a house at all but an apartment building. Eyes glower at him from houses all around, and once he crosses the street to avoid a neighbor who clearly means to apprehend him. Of course he must return home before dark each night, and take great care not to arouse the Aunts’ suspicions. Once he creeps out long after bedtime, down the dark streets, and takes up a post only to find a light burning still at this hour in one window of the apartment building. He imagines H.P. Lovecraft at work even now, hunched above a writing desk, pouring out his visions of otherworldly places. Imagine, setting pen to paper, and the paper carrying one away like a magic carpet, an enchanted scroll, to the River Skai…the wilds of Arkham…imagine…
Within a week, his pilgrimages acquire an air of desperation. On Saturday, he finds an excuse to tell the Aunts he will be out all day—he suggests he’s hunting for a job in town, perhaps at the newsstand, or delivering papers. They remark on his initiative, pack him a lunch and watch him go. But it is straight to Lovecraft’s building he heads, and although he cannot stay in one spot or cross the same path too many times without attracting suspicion, he manages to cover enough adjacent streets that he can keep the house in view every few minutes without himself being viewed by the neighbors. He consumes his lunch during the course of the day—crackers and cheese and wedges of bread spread with butter and sugar. He despairs. Eventually he tells himself that he will make one more circuit, and then return to pretend to the Aunts that his attempts to find work have all ended in discouragement.
From the side of Lovecraft’s house, a man appears. It could be any one of the building’s tenants, or even a visitor, but Douglas has a feeling about this man. There is an air of solitude about him. He stops in front of the building, tall and gaunt and wearing a dark suit that makes him hard to see against the lengthening shadows. Douglas slows his pace and tries not to show any interest. From half a block away there is little chance of drawing attention to himself, except by staring too hard. The man’s face—it must be Mr. Lovecraft!—is partly hidden, in shadow itself, beneath the brim of his hat. He hesitates at the end of the drive and turns back to the house, then suddenly stoops and puts out his hand as if summoning with a magical gesture…what?
A cat appears, as if out of nowhere, a speckled calico that sniffs his fingers then rubs itself against his cuffs. Here comes a second, and a third, and now Douglas sees that they have emerged from under a hedge. A black cat walking stiffly, as if crippled by age; and a small kitten that bites the elder’s tail, then throws itself against Mr. Lovecraft’s foot and meows until he picks it up caressingly. Even in the shadow of the hat, Mr. Lovecraft’s smile is clear. He whispers to the creatures, then sets the kitten down and sends it running back toward the hedge. Bidding them a soft farewell, he turns and heads off down the sidewalk, toward town. The calico follows him a short way, then rounds back toward the house, encountering Douglas following in Mr. Lovecraft’s path. Douglas looks for the kitten but it has hidden itself. He would like to pet the creature that his idol has just touched.
The spires of Providence show themselves through the trees as the street tips downhill toward the town. Douglas keeps the dark-suited man in his sight at all times, never letting the gap between them grow too narrow, lest he be spotted. And Mr. Lovecraft stops repeatedly—at first constantly accosted by cats that seem to know him and anticipate his passing. To each one that will let him he gives an affectionate stroking. Douglas feels a pang; such kindness!
Then the houses with their sun-touched lawns fall away, and the city lies ahead. The absence of constant feline interruption should quicken Mr. Lovecraft’s pace, but it seems to have the opposite effect. He walks with his eyes to the sky now, taking in the buildings, the sky, the sights of Providence. For Douglas, it is almost like having a silent guide, opening his eyes to beauties he had taken for granted.
On Thomas Street, heading west into the city, Mr. Lovecraft stands for several minutes staring up at an old colonial church—one Douglas knows from the Aunts to be a Baptist institution. Mr. Lovecraft adjusts his hat as if tipping it to the tall white steeple, and moves on. Where his eyes catch, where he pauses to take in the sights, Douglas also pauses. A visible shudder passes through Mr. Lovecraft as he passes the weirdly paneled Fleur-de-Lys Studio, a building that has always amused Douglas but today seems somehow repulsive. Is this something he has absorbed from Mr. Lovecraft’s fascination? Certainly the building does not seem to belong among the others. Mr. Lovecraft turns left, heading south again on North Main, now barely glancing at the bulk of the Cheapside Block; then slowing again as he nears Market Square and the brick Market House. In the crowds here, Douglas knows he can come nearer without being seen. As Mr. Lovecraft heads west toward Westminster, Douglas darts nearer so as not to lose him. He comes so close that for a moment he can almost reach out and touch the object of his pursuit—and sees at this close range something that surprises him.
The suit, this close, looks shabby and worn. It reminds Douglas of clothes worn by some children at his school: the grubby ones, the ones his Aunts might speak of as “unfortunates.” In these difficult times, Mr. Lovecraft’s suit is not so different from many others in the crowd, but it sets Douglas back for a moment. He had assumed that writing stories would have made his hero rich. There is no evidence of that. Even the hat’s brim is frayed. He hangs back a bit, not wanting more details to intrude on his vision of the man, preferring the slightly distant, somewhat blurry version—but knowing there can be no reclaiming it. For better or worse, this is H.P. Lovecraft the man.
Past the grimy granite pillars and portico of the darkening Arcade, Mr. Lovecraft turns abruptly into a shop. Douglas approaches slowly, staring into a brightly lit interior. Dusk is deepening in the street, but inside the shop it’s all shining brilliant tile and glass cases, and Mr. Lovecraft looks like a spectral silhouette leaning forward. A uniformed attendant greets him with great familiarity, and then extends a small wooden paddle heaped with a creamy brown blob. Ice cream! Douglas realizes how long it’s been since he finished his lunch. His mouth waters. Mr. Lovecraft scrapes the ice cream from the spoon against his teeth, then nods. A minute later he emerges from the shop with a hugely scooped cone, forced to tilt his head to one side lest it smear his hat brim. Douglas recognizes the scoop. The Aunts never let him so much as sample the flavor, stating it unsuitable for children, but he has bought himself a cone or two surreptitiously. Coffee ice cream is a Providence specialty.
His pace becomes more leisurely in the throng. The streets are full of citizens seeking an evening’s entertainment, a meal, a stroll. Mr. Lovecraft savors his ice cream, and vicariously Douglas takes enjoyment from the older man’s pleasure. All these sights and flavors, yes, they are part of Mr. Lovecraft’s world—somehow they feed his fantasies, they stoke the visions that he then crafts into stories and passes on to Douglas. Douglas feels an almost unbearable pang of affection—for the shabby gentleman, clearly impoverished, spending his spare dimes on sweets, petting cats, strolling in the colonial byways like one in a dream. This—yes, this! Douglas feels the beginnings of a deep kinship, but really it is not the beginning—it is the culmination. It had begun with the stories…it had begun in Kadath and Sarnath, in Dunwich and in Celephais. Douglas understands him perfectly, the lonely man walking alone, so apart from and indifferent to the crowds that swarm around him. In this they are the same. In so many ways the same. Past banks and churches, the clanging of streetcars, the lights coming on around them, neon signs garish and alluring. At Mathewson Street, an immense church (another of the Aunts’ landmarks, Episcopalian, said with faint dismissal), Douglas sees like a glowing shrine the marquee of the Loew’s State Theatre. For a moment Mr. Lovecraft stares at it almost wistfully, he thinks; but then he turns and walks down another avenue, down streets less grand, darker. It’s easy to remain unseen here. Mr. Lovecraft finishes the last of his cone, stops before a small alcove, brushes his hands together fastidiously, then steps in off the street, out of sight.
Douglas slowly approaches the alcove himself, and sees a small glass booth before double doors—a theatre, far less majestic than the Loew’s, and almost unattended. In fact there is no one in the booth to sell tickets—until a figure swims up inside the glass, and Douglas stumbles away before he can be spotted.
He removes his suit jacket and hangs it from a hook at the back of the booth, then settles himself in a chair at the ticket window. There he waits, staring out at the night, while Douglas sinks back into shadow to watch.
To see a movie is a rare event for Douglas; he saves his quarters for his magazines and the Aunts have no use for films, much less now that they have begun to talk. Thus there is little meaning for Douglas in the titles that appear on the booth’s placard: Hallelujah! sounds like something his Aunts might approve, but The Mysterious Island very much does not. The thought of such an island, wrapped in mystery, with Mr. Lovecraft presiding as keeper of the gateway, fills him with excitement and anticipation. He digs into his pockets in case some coins might have miraculously appeared.
Of Mr. Lovecraft he can see nothing now but his head and shoulders, with a harsh light thrown down onto him from above. A few patrons close around the booth, and Mr. Lovecraft dispenses tickets in a perfunctory manner, as if anxious for the customers to be gone. As the flurry of purchases subsides, Mr. Lovecraft turns to the coat on its hook and from an inner pocket removes a cylinder of paper. He uncurls it, flattens it on the counter, and produces from some hidden place a bottle of ink and a pen.
Is he…writing? In the lull between customers, composing? Is it possible that H.P. Lovecraft’s miraculous tales are penned here, under such circumstances?
Douglas cannot contain himself. He wants to see the words trailing from the tip of the pen. He carefully creeps from the shadows, drawing closer to the glass, trying to see if he recognizes any especially magical syllables. He stays close to the doors, where the darkness is dense and he can stay hidden—but suddenly the doors fly open, and out comes a small group of women, laughing and chattering. Their appearance jostles Douglas close to the booth, and Mr. Lovecraft looks up. Their eyes lock. Douglas feels his eyes go wide, a shock almost physical in its intensity. Mr. Lovecraft’s jaw is set. As he straightens in the chair, he drops his pen and the papers curl up instantly. He is about to say something but Douglas cannot bear it. It’s too much all at once. In a panic, he bolts past the booth and into the street, and throws himself around a corner.
Breathless, he runs along the side of the building until another door nearly opens in his face, another explosion of laughter and voices, and he finds himself caught in a stream of filmgoers leaving the theatre. He holds the door for several ladies, out of habit, as the Aunts have taught him; and as they pour past, he finds himself gazing into the dark interior of the theatre. Thinking of the Mysterious Island, which might easily be an image out of Lovecraft’s stories, he seizes an edge of the curtains that drape the exit; he rushes through the velvety portico and finds himself inside.
Most of the seats are empty, though a tide of newcomers continues to trickle in from the top of the aisles. Trying to calm himself, hoping not to attract notice, he sinks into the front row seat and tips his face toward the vast curtained screen, and closes his eyes to take stock of his thoughts.
He wonders how to make his way back to Mr. Lovecraft. He has accepted the challenge he felt the man offered, but he must prove himself worthy. Once the movie has started, if he can return to the booth, he might find both the courage and the words to explain that he too has dreamt of R’lyeh, that he has heard the hound that chases the bearer of the talisman, that he has felt the evil wind that blows through the hidden chambers of the Nameless City. But as the lights of the theatre dim, as the curtains draw back from the screen and the first newsreel begins to play, he wonders if perhaps there is something else he is meant to see. Surely there is a deeper reason H.P. Lovecraft himself sits and sells tickets to this particular house. Perhaps what awaits are not ordinary serials and newsreels, staid dramas and inane musicals. The projectionist could be an emissary of Lovecraft; the projector a beam straight from that burning imagination, the magic lantern of his feverish mind.
As the screen begins to quiver with light, Douglas chants the names beneath his breath: Nyarlathotep! Azathoth! The names ring him in the darkness.
And then the darkness is no more. An explosion of light in his eyes.
Blinded, he gapes and hears a high nasal voice. He gapes and sees Mr. Lovecraft glaring at him, holding him fast in the beam of an electric torch, trained on Douglas like a searchlight. The man’s sharp pale features, caught in the beam for a moment, loom out of the theatrical dark, dwarfing the screen, and he says, “You!”
The word an uncontainable portent.
And then he leans closer, thrusting the torch like the barrel of a gun into Douglas’s face, and says the words that send the boy reeling out into the night, as bereft as the blind worlds that spin in the void to the tune of a mindless idiot god.
Douglas flees, pitching down the dark Providence streets, his mind in shards, his dreams tattered, shedding magic and mystery as if they are coins in a pocket full of holes. Innsmouth, R’lyeh, Ulthar, all crumbling into ruins. Fast he plunges from the halls of dream, never to know Y’ha-nthlei, never to be carried on black wings. The streets of Providence hateful again, no solace in their antiquity, the churchyards simply full of bones, the hounds nothing more or less than the hounds that always hunted men. And as he flees toward the rest of his life, the words still ring and circle as they always will when he casts his mind back to this night, this theatre of despair. They will echo every day and far into the night, far into the years; they will echo even after Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s death, an occasion of obscure satisfaction only capped by the unmarked grave that Douglas never bothers to seek out.
Echoing, yes, but never more terribly than that first night of horror, when he realized he could never escape into a weird dream of eldritch magic and mystery, from a truth too plain and too insistent.
Lovecraft’s final words, ringing sharp and cutting, the words that send him flying, feeling faceless as a night gaunt, into the dark:
“Get out before I call the police, you dirty little nigger!”
* * *
“The Boy Who Followed Lovecraft” copyright 2011 by Marc Laidlaw. First appeared in Subterranean Press Magazine, Winter 2011.
Here is a link to its original appearance at Subterranean.