I scrambled to jump through, but the column monster pushed past me with the poor kid plastered by force to its front. It slammed into the wall to the left of the window, squashing the fan in a spray of orange fat that streaked the wall and window.
The impact had created a door the size and shape of the column, and the thing entered and scuttled to the right. A light clicked on, illuminating a human shape sitting behind the fat washed glass.
Knuckles tapped the window. “Come on in,” said the writer. “It’s me. Bring my book.”
I stepped warily through the door. The writer sat at a desk and smiled as if he’d never smiled in his life. His appearance was different than that on stage, and it again matched the photo on the back cover. He took the paperback and signed his name on the title page. I didn’t recognize the name.
“So tell me,” he said. “What do you think are the finer points of the novel? Your favorite character and scene?”
He handed it back to me. I hesitated; my mind seemed whitewashed. The cover was foreign to me. I remembered the delight I felt at the prospect of seeing this writer of a story I loved, yet I had no memory of the story itself. I flipped through the pages, which were filled with black and white illustrations of people picking their noses, examining what they had found. I was blank.
“Uhh,” I said. “When Suzy had a cold in the desert . . .”
“Oh shut up,” the writer said. “You didn’t even read it, you stupid shit!”
“But I’m nervous.”
He ripped the paperback from my hands and threw it under the desk, then stomped out the door. “Come with me! I’m doing research for my new horror novel and I need help. Since I ate my wife, I have no one to assist me.”
I stepped through the door into a piebald lot under a moonlit sky. The lot ended at the crumpled porch steps of a huge old house that leaned over us.
“You walk too slow!” said the writer.
My two red-headed brothers stood to either side of the front, holding torches. I was so happy to see them. They shouted my name.
“Who are they?” asked the writer.
“My brothers A and Z.”
“We can help,” said A. “What are you looking for?”
The writer crinkled his nose as if he were smelling undead cheese. “There should be a tar beetle pit at the top of the house. I need to watch somebody watching you watching the pit.”
Z shook his torch. “That sounds awesome! Let’s go!”
The double doors had been shorn from their hinges and lay stacked on the porch. The entrance curved immediately right into a rising path that spiraled up around the outer wall. The writer took Z’s torch and the exchange lit upon a dead baboon whose face had been nailed to a beam in the wall. As we ascended, we passed hanging baboon corpses at regular intervals. Each time, the writer stopped and kissed it on the jaw.
No railing prevented us from falling into the open space on the left; the bottom floor was already far below, a scattering of stucco tiles scored by holes. Every so often I saw fervent movement through the holes, knotted scramblings.