Here we go again. Welcome to the blog blast of the section that I call The Kingdom from the book Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 3: The Keep. The Kingdom is an explanation of the work itself. You can’t understand any writer unless you know their work. So Friday we began at 6 p.m. and I will release one blog every two hours and fifteen minutes. That means we’ll finish the story of my work and its future, my work and its past, at 7:30 on Sunday evening. There are some crazy things in here. Some setbacks we never could have made it past without the people who care about me. There are some crazy things in here. Plans that I have and things that I’m doing that, simply put, are impossible. But everything’s impossible until it’s finished, until it’s been done or accomplished. There are some crazy things in here. Dreams so wild and so immense that to think they’re within reach you have to be a little unhinged. And while reading this small collection of blog posts, you’ll hear the rantings of the Lunatic of Fantasy. You’ll find in these posts the past, present, and future of the writing of Jesse Teller.
It’s all in the name. One name can propel a story for me. One fantastic name can make or break it all. I have gotten lucky and created a few great names. Saykobar Hesh, Volacha Brinchay, Kolaster Vagan, Tobin the Treefrog, and Rayph Ivoryfist, Sabrar Maul—all these names crafted the character for me. They all brought that character to life. But not like this one.
I had a perfect dream. As a writer, I don’t dream about my books. Some do. I don’t. Never had it happen to me—until this one dream came in a pretty box with a bow on it. In one night of restless sleep, I had dreamed a novel, perfect and complete.
When my wife came to wake me up, I looked at her and said, “His name is—” and I said it. The greatest name for a character I had ever heard. It gave me goosebumps just to say the name. It had power. It had mystique. It brought me awake and thrumming, and guys, it felt so good to say it. And she reacted. I’m in a tapestry covered room. I have two slumbering dogs. Bekah is taking dictation. And I say to her, correct me if I’m wrong, and maybe you don’t remember, but I woke up that day springing from bed but unsteady and I grabbed her and said, “His name is—” That day, she heard it.
Do you remember any of what I said? I know you don’t remember the name, we’ve talked about it too many times. Maybe you remember a whisper, a hand across soft skin. Possibly you remember a jagged blade handed to you from a man springing and stumbling out of bed? Or maybe you don’t remember it at all. But do you remember the feeling when I said it to you? I’m asking you because you’re taking dictation. I’m putting you on the spot. I’m talking about the Nameless Boy. Do you remember anything, because I don’t. That name dropped into a pit. A void of screaming voices. Did you catch any of it?
(I remember that you had the dream, but I don’t remember any of the names.)
I don’t think you were meant to. I think the Nameless Boy that fell into the void as I stood up was always meant to be nameless.
And my word to writers is this. No one, no matter how dedicated you are to your craft, my wife lives and breathes on my craft, no one will be able to remember that one detail, that one thing that sparks your imagination. I guess the cliché thing to say is keep a journal next to your bed. I’m not gonna tell you to do that. So many times you’re in a dreamless haze, and the things, the words, the symbols that you scribble down, they mean nothing when you wake up and you’re fighting to decipher it after breakfast. This is what I should have done. And I’m telling you, writers, this is what you should do.
I should’ve sprung out of bed, stumbling and wavering, and gripped her. She would’ve held me up and we would’ve walked into another room, me still wide-eyed, trembling and raving. Her, knowing she had just woken up a live wire. And she would’ve let me talk.
I swear, if you find you soulmate, if you find your great love, they will let you talk. They will ask you questions as the day goes on. They will encourage you to write down notes, or keep the conversation alive. They will tell you to write it. They will tell you that it matters.
See that’s what my soulmate did.
But what happened with me and my soulmate was a sledgehammer in my hand. All day we constructed the story of the Nameless Boy and the flaming wreath of anger around his head. And she looked at me and said…something, it’s a muddy soup because I wasn’t listening. Maybe you should. You have time to. That’s not a good reason. You can’t walk away from this. It’s all just a muddy soup. But I had the sledgehammer in hand. In my hand I had the budding world of Jesse Teller’s fantasy.
She spent an entire day with a name on her lips as we talked about its prominence and its need. And when this fragile construction had been crafted, I came to her with the sledgehammer of Jesse Teller’s fantasy and Jesse Teller’s world and I shattered the entire day. She had to stand back and watch.
Find a lover. Find a soulmate. Find someone who will catch you unstable on your feet and hold you up as you rave a name and a story. Find a person who will encourage the conversation and at the end of the day, hold up the construct that you can drape a story upon.
But most importantly, find a soulmate who will not give up on you when you take the sledgehammer to that construct.
Bekah heard all about him. She heard his name, every half an hour at least. The story was told to her. The story was developed in front of her. And at the end of the day, I looked at her and said, “It’s not fantasy. It’s not my world. And this boy will forever be nameless.” Imagine the drop of the shoulders as she walked away.
I thought it was one way, but yet it was another. I’ve walked around for years with one understanding, but it was wrong. With two slumbering dogs and a room full of tapestries, my wife explained to me the truth of the Nameless Boy. And as I look at it from her point of view, the true horror of it is played out before me. So I’m going to tell you the story of the Nameless Boy. And I want you to place yourself firmly in the body of my soulmate as she watches me take a sledgehammer to this story, this story that will forever haunt me, as she watches it all break.
Deep breath and a nod.
And we’re back where we started.
So let’s get to it. Let’s look at what my soulmate tried to save, what a twisting turning night gave me, and what a jagged name haunted me with. Let’s look at the Nameless Boy.
He was a young boy, an orphan, grubby and uneducated. He worked for change, performing tricks on a train that traveled from the mainland out to an island where everyone worked. Tricks and flips and stories he told; jokes and tumbles and card games he played; and the people, entertained and in love with him, brought food and candy. They brought him warm clothing and gave him fistfuls of change. They all loved this homeless orphan with the perfect name. Until one day, on his twelfth birthday, he disappeared.
The atmosphere of the train changed that day. What had been happy and light, filled with laughing and camaraderie, became sullen and petulant. The commuters stopped talking. An air of discontent rode the wind, and for long years, the train fell silent. Everyone hated the ride.
Then the boy came back.
He was sixteen now, tall and charismatic. He was the perfect image of a beautiful young man. The people grinned when they saw him, and fell in around him to hug him and laugh. But he had not come alone.
The boy with the inspiring name had brought others with him, darker folk, angry and quarrelsome. These people begged openly for money. When it was denied to them, they grew restless. They grew villainous, and they looked to their leader for aid.
The boy was definitely their leader. He walked these vagabonds with humor laced in rage. He led with a cruelty the riders of the train had never seen in him before.
Because, see, this street rat was furious. He had been living in the alleys when the passengers had brought him scarves, but he needed a home. They brought him gloves when what he wanted was a family. He had been abused by the life of the homeless, and now that he was powerful and smart, now that he had a crew and a voice, he was here for payment. Payment in misery.
Violence. The boy wanted violence. He intimidated the people to get what he wanted. He stole from them and commanded them about. He pulled a knife on an old man one day when the man accidentally stepped on his foot. He reached out and plucked a woman’s purse out of her hands, riffled through it in front of her, and dropped it when he found what he wanted. His vagabonds were worse. And the ride back and forth to the island was hell.
One day, something sparked it. The day of the dream, me and Bekah knew what it was. We saw it, we heard it described, but I drug her away. It was a small thing, though, no punch to the gut, no taking of some innocent rider’s pride. One tiny little injustice provoked the commuters, and the train erupted with an uprising.
People were beaten. Blood and horror, the darkest things a man can do to another man, broke out in the train. The vagabonds pulled guns, and bedlam rode free on the speeding train.
Someone started a fire, and within the flames, everyone died. The train crashed and the station shut down.
For years, no train. But after nearly a decade had passed, the people of the mainland and the people of the island erected a new train. On a stormy day, on its maiden run, just when the cloudy skies parted for a bit of sunlight, the engineer looked out his window to the image of a train on fire shooting straight at him. Hundreds of faces hung out the windows, wailing, and on top of the train, wreathed in flames, sat the boy with the perfect name, screaming in horror and hate.
But I never wrote that name. That one slipped past me, no matter how much she begged. She wanted it. You see, no sweet spark of inspiration tastes foul on the battery of the tongue of a soulmate. There will always be in my head a boy, sixteen years I think, on the front of a speeding train screaming, wreathed in flame, as the world behind him burns. There’s always gonna be that in me. I had a chance. I had a chance to write it and get it off of my mind, of my desk. To get it off of my conscience, of my hate. And I didn’t. I never told that story. The story of the angry, violent, flaming, petulant youth. She begged me, my love begged me, but I didn’t let myself have that. And now inside of me there will forever be the man we talked about, the one who tries to please those that hurt him.
He’s young and flipping, doing tricks and smiling, collecting hugs when he needs a home. And that boy is what The Keep is all about. Loving and smiling and performing for those who hurt you. And when you stand up to them, violence and Guardian has his Fighting Partner, and those that have neglected a child flip quarters and hand over gloves. We have Guardian’s War. And years after the devastation, anyone in the family brave enough to ride the new train sees the one on the front of the train screaming, wreathed in flames.
We don’t know what to call him, for he is nameless. But you’ve seen him before. He has stood, she has stood, in a room full of those screaming against her and she has said the right thing. They placate with smiles, giggles, change and gloves. And the Nameless Boy, for he and she walks the world with all of our names, grabs the purse of indifference, finding nothing worthy, drops it at its feet. He looks across his vagabonds of broken men and broken girls, broken boys and broken women, and soon there’s a gun. And here we sit, surrounded by tapestries. And we know we need fire. The Nameless Boy calls for fire to cleanse all the indifferent, all those indifferent to a child’s pain, those who smile and say, “I’m doing my part.” And there is a spark, a phone call to the cops, maybe a punch to the face. A conversation. I don’t know what it is that sets this train on fire. But what I see as I stare forward is a screaming train of fire and a Nameless Boy, because victims never have names, and there is a nameless boy screaming.
The name is gone. I have searched my mind for it for years. I would like to write that perfect dream novel. I would love to tell that little boy’s story. But for me, the name is everything. And without it, I cannot gain the momentum to put it all down.
But every now and then, I will be sitting and thinking of a book or driving some street I have known for years. I will be on my deck, grilling pork steak, or in the shower, and I will see before me a flaming train filled with screaming death and a nameless boy riding the top, shrieking in my face.
Incest and child molestation will not go away until sitting at your desk, weeding in your garden, and standing at your kitchen sink, you see him, too.
This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 3: The Keep, available on Amazon.