The Kingdom 21: The Show

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.

Sasquatch went downtown to a restaurant that put on art exhibits and he started talking to the owner about his Gold. He told the guy everything about it and the guy blew up. It really is a good idea. It is a fun character conceived by a talented artist. Because Sasquatch is a very talented artist. He was told once by a professor, “You know, you could really make it. You’re good enough, but your problem is you’re lazy.”

He told that story all the time. He would look at me with a smile and say, “Now that I’m not lazy anymore,” and then he’d say his bit.

And I think that’s one of the things I provided for him. I work all the time and get work done, real and difficult work done. I consider him part of my group, so by proxy, he can say that if I’m not lazy, then he’s not lazy. He told that story over and over again. I really want to meet the professor who said those words. I wanna sit down with him and I wanna talk art. I don’t even have to talk about my work, I just wanna run all night. Maybe we are, him and I, men bitten by the wolf of art, howling at the moon, and maybe that night the professor and I are ripping a path of destruction in our wake. Maybe over a snifter of brandy. And just howling art all night long.

I would tell him who I am and I would tell him what I do, but we wouldn’t have to talk about my art. Just writing and literature, painting and drawing, Zhi Lin and Craig Yoe. Just talk about artists and art. Because as this quote was spoken to me, and as the years went by, more and more I realized that whatever professor had said those words knew what he was talking about. Whatever professor had told this man he was good enough to make it, but he was lazy, knew what he was talking about. Because that’s the soup I had been swimming in for years.

The owner of the restaurant downtown that Sasquatch had walked into decided he wanted to do a show that featured Sasquatch’s Gold.

Well, the only problem is that all Sasquatch has done is a floppy and a series of sketches, a few full-color studies and one big piece. This after three years of coming to my house every weekend and talking about this project, getting my feedback, and sucking me and Kraken dry of all the support he can get.

One day I went to Sasquatch’s house and he looked at me and said, “Look, I am not mad. I think you just had something else on your mind, but I want to tell you, because you obviously don’t know. When I came to your house last week and showed you my two new pages, all you said was, ‘Looks good. Keep going.’” He shook his head. “Now I know you want to do better than that, so I am going to bring them back out tonight so you can give me your real opinion.” This after hearing about this same character and this same project for three years. After backing this guy and supporting him every day of my life for six and a half years and seeing no finished product. When he brought the pieces back out for me to look at, I gushed about how awesome they are.

Why? Because I have no respect for myself. I let people do things like this to me all the time. After tonight, after my study of Sasquatch and looking back over the horizon of Reality of the Unreal Mind, and seeing the skyline of abuse that lines it, I can tell you now it’s different. I’m in a room covered in tapestries with two slumbering dogs, and Bekah taking dictation, and I can tell you that I’ve changed. The instinct is still there. How could it not be after forty-six years of programming? But the action has changed.

I was at a con, you would call it a convention, that was supposed to feature my Goats. We sent the Organizer five emails telling him what we would need and what we would do. Telling him how loud we would be. And the night of the Goats’ public reveal was a nightmare. He had blown off every email, yeah, yeah, that’s okay, I get it, good. The man hadn’t taken me seriously. He had complaints about things we had agreed upon. I stood back as my crew screamed and organized for me. Bekah just wanted to get me out of there.

The next day, I would have an entire day of selling books and smiling at attendees to do. She just wanted me out of there so she could patch back together what this man’s disorganization and lies had done. T was there. She was loading a wagon, taking everything to the car. She knew just as well as Bekah, I needed out of that building if I was gonna do the next day. I stood back in horror at the terrible thing that had happened, and my first instinct was to go to the man, the Organizer who was yelling, and apologize. But that was after I had written all of this. And I had promised myself I wouldn’t do that anymore. So I stood back.

“One,” and I’m broken.

“Two,” and I’m furious.

“Three,” and I’m embarrassed.

“Four,” and how am I ever coming back from this?

“Five,” did the Goats fail? The Goats never fail.

“Six,” Bekah is furious. Is she furious at me?

“Seven,” Tiger and Kraken gave up so much of their time to play the drums and guitar. Are they mad?

And “Eight,” stay away from the Organizer.

But I have so much to say.

Stay away from the Organizer. Bite your fist.

Schlemeel, schlemazel, hasenfeffer incorporated. And here I am at Laverne and Shirley. How many of you remember Laverne and Shirley? There’s a character in this early ’80s sitcom. He’s played by David Lander, and the character’s name is Squiggy. He’s kind of a dirtbag. Definitely an asshole. And every time anything happens that is a little bit risqué, he bites his fist. And here I am. This is not risqué, this is infuriating. This is not a comedy. This is a tragedy. And I feel like a dirtbag. And Squiggy was never taken seriously. I stand back after the attendees shuffle away, and I bite my fist so that I don’t speak.

The Organizer shows up. He’s yelling and screaming as he’s kicking us out early and cancelling our event. As Bekah is stuffing things into boxes and wagons, T has her head down trying to salvage as much chili as she can. Tiger and Kraken run defense for me. The Organizer might be headed towards me, and they know I can’t talk to him now. They see Squiggy biting his fist and they know I’m too fragile.

They face off against the Organizer. He’s yelling, they’re yelling. That’s not fair. He’s yelling at the top of his lungs, and I can hear everything he’s saying. Kraken is yelling. And Tiger is calm. He’s in control. He’s loud, but he’s prepared. Finally, after the Organizer says the wrong thing, Kraken looks this grown, large man in the eye and says, and I quote—and I have never heard a grown man say this to another grown man—Kraken looks the Organizer in the face and says, “Suck my dick!”

This is the man who tenderly held me when I talked about suicide, who has broken out into giggles at the ridiculous things I’ve said. But this man has the blood of the Comanche running through him. His body is built of the fiber of warriors tracing back into his history. When the Kraken roars, sprays foam and meat from the bottom of the sea, people like this Organizer cannot look it in its eight eyes. And Kraken walked away.

Tiger is a professional. He’s got a very professional job that involves dealing with people in very calm and organized ways. So Tiger brings professionalism in the middle of Kraken’s roar. And imagine that. Imagine you’ve been yelling, the Kraken is spitting foam and meat before it storms away, and in steps a man—large, imposing, but not scary—who immediately begins to speak making sense. Tiger told me he said, “This was a disaster. How can we make it better next year?” He told me he said that to that man. And in essence, Tiger is saying, you fucked up. How can we make sure you don’t fuck up next year? Because we’re not going away. And you’re gonna have to deal with us again.

When I’m telling this story I use a certain analogy, so I’ll use it now. Kraken yelled, “Suck my dick!” He left and into the breach stepped Tiger, holding his hands out. “No, no, no, no, no. You don’t have to suck his dick. You’re gonna suck mine. And I’m much more gentle.”

But I was telling you how, after Kraken and everything I had learned in writing Reality of the Unreal Mind, I no longer let people walk all over me. Yet while all of this is going on, I’m Squiggy in the back with my teeth in my fist. You have questions, and I’m gonna answer them. Because Kraken and I stepped through that frozen door. On the other side was a branch off, the road Sasquatch now walks. It leads to denial, failure, or—and I actually am hoping for this—it leads to a place where Sasquatch can truly look at himself, see what he is, and make changes. But for me and Kraken, the onyx road. The sun is starting to rise. We can see hot air balloons in the air around us. But… the beast still lumbers in front. And when we laugh, it echoes off the glass globe above.

The day the Goats failed, we all came to my house. Sat in The Veil and we decompressed. There was a lot of yelling and shouting. Not at each other, but at what had happened. Everybody left. And I stayed up all night eating chili, thinking about this book and the other volumes of Reality. And while Bekah slept, I was crafting a conversation.

The next day I woke Bekah up and said, “I want to talk to the Organizer.” She told me not to. Tiger was already talking about next year, leave it alone. Don’t say a word. And calmly I said, “I have to.” She walked out onto the balcony, to yell for a barking dog. When she came in, she had a cup of coffee in her hand and she was crying.

She said, “I can’t watch you get shit on anymore.”

I still hear that in my head. She has said so many amazing words to me. “Do you wanna kiss me, Jesse Teller?” “’Til the end.” “Fuck that.” “Are you with me?” “I do.” But when I heard those words, “I can’t watch you get shit on anymore,” when I heard those words, it awoke the abomination from years ago, a blend of Teth, of Jack, of Prince, of Shadow, but no Guardian, and Artist, but no Adam. It was a blend of a thing that had Ronin, and throwing itself against its bars, Thirteen. And this time, stepping into that thing was Informer.

For the rest of the morning, me and Bekah did not discuss it. Willow came with us that day. First thing I did was I told the front desk to send the Organizer to my booth. I had to go back a couple of times and, though Willow wanted to wander the floor and look at the others in cosplay, though Bekah sat back quiet and scared and prepared to put me back together, Informer had a plan. He almost always has a plan.

The Organizer showed up and he was all shoulders. His shoulders swung back and forth as he walked, head back. He was a big man with a fist for a face. He looked at me and said, “You wanted to talk to me?” From his tone, from his stance, I could tell he was ready for a fight.

He’d played this out in his mind already. I was gonna yell at him, he was gonna yell at me, and then he was gonna have security throw me out. Informer saw it all. But that’s not what happened.

Informer stepped out into the middle of the aisle, and said, “Are you the Organizer?”

And he said, “Yes.”

And there was no fist in my mouth. And I was not apologizing to Sasquatch for throwing a party about my Guardian of the Path. I was not looking at Less. There was no Rose here. I looked this man in the eye and extended my hand. Informer and the rest of the abomination smiled and said, “Thank you for coming to talk to me today.” We shook hands and I turned him towards my booth. “Please look at my booth.”

The rest is a blur. I’m Adam and I wasn’t there. This battle was being fought for me. If you talk to Thirteen, he could tell you about breaking Marshmallow’s nose and forehead and teeth. And he could tell you about this. Teth could tell you about howling on the edge of a cliff, the Leviathan’s song, and this moment. Guardian was blind to it, but Shadow, Shadow could tell you about pouring gasoline on the aisle all around the Organizer.

But I can’t. I only have snippets, so I’ll tell you what I can. I talked about professionalism, how I had put thousands of dollars into the look and presentation of my booth. I told him I had put $500 into the event he had screamed about, cancelled, and not taken seriously the night before. I talked to him about professionalism, and the gorgeous covers on the table before him that I had spent so much money on. I talked to him about professionalism, and all the editors I had hired to make this that I was selling a perfect product.

Somewhere in there, I turned to face him and told him I would be giving away free books to everyone who had attended the Goats song because I had promised a thing and I did not deliver. And I’m a professional. “Seven members of my crew that had come to make the event possible were disrespected. I was humiliated in front of my supporters, my wife,” and the abomination’s stitched-together hand swung in the direction of Bekah behind my booth. “And I was humiliated in front of my child,” and I stabbed a finger in the direction of Willow.

As I watched, this man who had been all shoulders, who had been yelling at my friends, this man who had refused to suck Kraken’s dick, but had discussed sucking Tiger’s, he wilted in front of me. He wilted before the abomination. It had Teth’s yellow eyes, Ronin’s black hair, and the stitchings of all the rest of the alters it was comprised of.

And it said, “This right here,” and pointed at the floor, “is holy ground. People come to cons who love things. They dress up to become the things they love.” Somewhere in there, the abomination I was not a part of looked the Organizer in the face and said, “The overweight man who comes dressed as Captain America is my hero, because he loves so deeply, and he is willing to expose himself to possible laughter to come to a place that you and I,” that yellow-eyed abomination stared into the Organizer’s fist of a face. “You and I know is sacred. This right here,” both hands, off to the side, fingers pointed at the floor, “is holy ground.”

Now this has been quite a tangent. You’ve had to read quite a bit about things that are not what this chapter was supposed to be about. So everybody take a break. Run to the bathroom. Crack your back. Refresh your drink. But remember this, after this night and after these books, Jesse Teller no longer seeks the approval of those who have decided to hate him. He has heard the foamy roar of the Kraken. He has looked into the eyes of the coiling Leviathan. The Tiger and The T, The D, and The Willow, and all the rest of them deserve better than a leader, friend, father, shuffling head bowed and mewling behind a person who has decided to hate him.

For the sake of myself and for the sake of everyone else, I tell you, this that I walk on is sacred ground. The people who stand near me love things. They love things fiercely. And those who crowd around Smear Lord of Ire, Guardian, Shadow, and the rest of the monsters and angels trapped in my mind, for those who surround us all, I provide a safe space where they can embrace what they love.

Are you back? Seated and comfortable? How’s your drink, is it good? Did you manage the bathroom? I hope you washed your hands. Here we go. We’re back in the mix. We’re looking again at the show, the show that Sasquatch has convinced a small business owner to host. We’ll talk about that restaurant’s fate. We’ll talk about all of it.

The show was called Works in Progress. Because what else could it be called? It showcased every false start Sasquatch had been giving me for the last six and a half years. He had finally got his one man show. I went, Bekah went, Kraken went, and all of the respect I had for Sasquatch died on the floor of that restaurant. He was being praised for starting, and I had to play into that.

The owner of the restaurant and Sasquatch had made a deal. Professional custom frames for all his work would be bought by the owner. After the show, Sasquatch would keep the frames. There’s a series of about twenty watercolor and ink studies for the big Gold project. They would be hung together in a grid. Each one would be printed twenty-five times at the expense of the owner, and they would each be sold for ten dollars. Fifty percent of the profits from those prints would go to the owner. The other fifty would be divided between Sasquatch himself and a fund for supplies for his classroom. Fifty round full-color stickers would be printed of the gobsmacked image, and those were for sale, too. Five dollars each. I’ll tell you more about that in a moment. Any stickers that were not sold went back to Sasquatch. And they, as well, had been printed at the expense of the owner of the restaurant.

The owner had the bartender create a unique cocktail for the opening of the show. And there was one very large professionally framed picture of the Gold character that would be raffled. All of the other artwork would go back to Sasquatch. All the prints that did not sell would go to Sasquatch. And the show would be two weeks long.

The mountainous cost to the owner was immense. I cannot understand how that deal was struck. I don’t understand, but I do know that shortly after that show, the restaurant went out of business. Correlation does not equal causation, but the owner did not recoup even a fraction of what he had put forward. The prints did not sell very well at all. And everything he had bought, and half the money that was made, all went back to Sasquatch.

You can’t go to that restaurant anymore. But when we went, it was gorgeous. Two floors, very open, very spacious. Food was amazing. We had the special drink, which was wildly overpriced considering how much liquid was in the glass. But we bought three, because Kraken was with us. We all ate dinner. We all walked around the restaurant. We told Sasquatch how great it all looked. We bought our stickers and we moved on, and so did that restaurant.

He asked me later if I had bought any prints. I told him no and he scowled. I did buy a sticker. It’s a rip-off of a famous Batman panel where Batman is slapping Robin, and the caption says, gobsmacked. I bought one for myself and one for Willow. Every time I see it, I get furious, but I keep it near to remind myself people like this, Sasquatch, Siren, Rose, Less, everybody who hurts me and everybody I chase down—you see it, don’t you—it’s what they’ve done. It’s what all of them have done. I’ve been gobsmacked. And every time I look at that sticker, I think about why this book is necessary. Because this has to stop. I’m Robin. And I need to block that hand and counter with a cross.

Because Batman is trained. Batman is skilled and he has all the tools. He has all the tools of manipulation and gaslighting, and “I’ll reel you in just to let you go.” And “Yeah, yeah, yeah, but you know I’m more important.” Batman is willing to slap you in front of everyone as he says something clever. And the whole world will laugh. Not that Robin’s been put in his place, but that somebody as spectacular as Batman has…

But you have to understand, we are the Robins of the world. Everybody laughs at that character, but think about it for just a minute. The Batmans of this world are dark. They’re violent. The Batmans of this world don’t care what they say or who it hurts. They do whatever they need to get what they want.

And then there’s Robin. His parents were killed, his family destroyed, and he rode the flying trapeze. He’s gifted. He has a talent. He’s helpless. He needs embrace, and he’s thrown into a world too big for him. And Robin—X’s packmate, Billy’s Boy, the Street Rat—are too small for that world. We’re young. After the devastation of our life, the loss of our families and livelihoods and focus, we’re lost.

Into the breach we have to follow the Batmans of the world. And he has a grappling hook and he’s got a car and he’s got a plane and he’s got a cave and he’s got spikes on his arms and he’s prepared for this fight and all we have is a talent. All we have is a trapeze.

I’ll ask you this question, when Batman charges forward to fight The Joker, and finds himself overwhelmed, in swoops a boy unprepared for battle, unprepared for darkness, traumatized by loss, trapped in a world he does not fit in, and he has to save, protect. He has to drag away the bloody, beaten, Batman. And he makes it work every time. As you read this, ask yourself. Is your disdain and your laughter that wraps around the character Robin just or unjust?

Robin goes in untrained to save the man who has trapped him and gaslighted him. And Robin is laughed at. I am a Dick Grayson. That’s what the name of the original Robin was, Dick Grayson. But one day, Sasquatch would come to my house.

Jared Leto’s Joker had two birds, I think they were robins, tattooed onto his shoulders. He had a J from when Joker had tattooed it on his cheek. And with wild eyes he looked down, gripping tools for electroshock therapy, and said, in that way only Jared Leto’s Joker could have said, in that way only a traumatized Dick Grayson could have said, “This is gonna hurt.”

And I’ll be that Joker. Finally past my breaking point, I’ll look down at Sasquatch and say, as our driveway night comes closer, “This is gonna hurt.”

Because it doesn’t matter how may stickers Sasquatch makes, I am no longer gobsmacked.

This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 3: The Keepavailable on Amazon.

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