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    IAF INTERFICTIONS ONLINE INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN ends above target goal

    Thanks to 277 generous backers for our Interfictions Indiegogo Campaign, we raised $10,318 by the time our campaign ended at midnight, July 14th, 2014.  When we launched on June 3rd, we were staggered to find donations doubling almost daily, until after about 3 weeks we had reached our original target goal of $8,500, and were able to move on to our Stretch Goal of $10,000.

    Which means we not only get to publish Interfictions Online for another year, but we can pay our contributors at higher rates now, rates more in line with the effort and talent that innovation requires. Thank you, each and every one of the 277 generous donors who stepped forward to say that interstitial art is valued and valuable. The number of people is as important as the number of dollars raised. We are awed by your generosity.
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    INTERFICTIONS issue #3 is up online!

    The editors of Interfictions Online are happy to announce the birth of the journal’s latest issue, on May 22, 2014!

    The Spring 2014 issue’s non-fiction offerings include Mark Craddock’s poignant collage in Aerial Acrobatics and Gender Reassignment Surgery – A How-To Guide, while Inda Lauryn’s Parallels and Transitions splices analysis of contemporary female vocalists into a graduate school memoir. Isabel Yap’s Life Is Not a Shoujo Manga speaks for itself. And in an interview with Jeff VanderMeer and Jeremy Zerfoss, the two creators discuss their illustrated guide to writing, Wonderbook.

    The fiction offerings remix tropes from ghosts to automata, with new work by Richard Butner, Su-Yee Lin, Kat Howard, Tade Thompson and S. Craig Renfroe Jr.

    Several of the poems in this issue reimagine older narratives: Sridala Swami’s AI Winter draws on the Mahabharata, Sonya Taaffe’s Double Business on Hamlet, and Mary Alexandra Agner’s Hypothesis Between Your Ribs on the brief life of Charles Darwin’s daughter.

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  • ≡ Some Things About Love, Magic and Hair

    Chris Kammerud

    I was dead, now I’m alive. That’s the first thing you need to know. We’ll come back to that later. The second thing you need to know is there are no metaphors in this story. Everything is true. If there’s a third thing, and usually there is, it would be that I love lists probably more than I should.

    line

    Allison worked in the back of the Movie Maven, an independent video store owned by a Korean man named Chou (pronounced ‘chow’, like yum, not ‘choo’, like train. He’s sensitive about this). Up front, the Maven’s a regular enough place: a dim, green-carpeted space divided into sections of Action and Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi, and so forth. There’s also a few indie cool blocks of Fifties Noir, Seventies Drag, and a wall of Korean Horror put together by a young man named Kai, unrelated to Chou, who showed up one day, began arranging his section and rearranging others, and took to sleeping in the back room from which Allison rented out the magical porn.

    How I met her is I was browsing the Seventies Drag section, when I heard a woman laughing like a faraway car crash. I cut through action and comedy and walked along the foreign section until I hit the back of the store and a wall of Korean Horror. The sound was louder. I removed a disc from the shelf and pressed my ear against the wall, and waited.

    top
     
    The thing about Allison is she hated having her name sung to her but loved Elvis Costello. She hated unicorns, too, unless they were bad-ass unicorns that used their horns to impale enemies in the heart.
     
    bottom

    “Can I help you with something?”

    “I think there’s a woman trapped in your wall.”

    Mr. Chou had on a t-shirt that said, If You’re a Cynic, I’m Not Surprised. He chuckled and rapped his knuckles on the wall, causing me to grimace. “That’s just Allison,” he said.

    “The girl in your wall is named Allison?”

    “The girl on the other side of the wall. I don’t want kids wandering in. Go around back. There’s a door behind the dumpster.”

    And there was, and so I found myself in a small, square room that smelled like the ocean. Strands of yellow Christmas lights ran around the molding. On my left was a desk, to my right, a couch. A girl with brown hair and eyes that glittered like cracked marbles sat behind the desk, and on the couch sat a boy wrapped in a quilt stitched with cats playing yarn with the solar system. The girl was watching Scanners on an old mahogany television. The boy stared at the girl. The walls were lined with porn and porn paraphernalia.

    “I’m looking for Allison,” I said. The girl flicked off the television. “What can I do for you? We got the regular, and some irregular stuff on the wall. If none of that suits your needs, just let me know and I’ll see what I can pull out of my hair for you.”

    Kai walked past me and out into the alley, the quilt dragging the floor behind him.

    “Your hair?” I said.

    line

    The thing about Allison is she hated having her name sung to her but loved Elvis Costello. She hated unicorns, too, unless they were bad-ass unicorns that used their horns to impale enemies in the heart. Also, she had hair like the Jersey shore, thick and brown and full of broken glass, among other things. Seashells, gum wrappers, plastic shovels, the occasional condom or lost child. Parts of Allison existed in other dimensions. Her ankle moonlighted as a moonlit hill in one universe, her hip, a smooth fjord in another. She was half-magic, on her father’s side, if you believe her mother. If you believe in that sort of thing at all.

    What this means is that she could grant the cinematic wishes of lonely men, more or less. The less part being that sometimes a man might ask for Meg Ryan and Scarlett Johansson in a sci-fi musical porn extravaganza and end up with Anjelica Huston and Kate Hudson on the moon, making love where the eagle landed. That’s what happened to me anyway.

    “Magic is as magic does,” Allison said once, leaning over the trash can next to her desk, brushing sand from her hair. “It’s like stupidity that way.” She flung a fistful of sand in my face. “Or love.”

    line

    I went back every night to watch bloody horror movies in black and white with Allison. She sat in her chair, with me on the floor in front of her. We laughed together at zombie movies. She appreciated the scope of my imagination.

    “How could a country with an army be overrun by zombies?” I said.

    “People are always too slow to kill the dead,” Allison said. I turned. She laid a starfish on the desk and scratched the back of her head. “Why don’t people just live in tree houses? That’s what I always wondered.”

    Sometimes Kai was there, sometimes he wasn’t.

    When a customer came in, I had to go outside if he wanted to make a wish.

    Things I learned during this time: nothing evil ever stays dead, Kai didn’t like me very much, and it’s best to be wary of excessive happiness at the outset of any endeavor, especially camping trips. Allison and I smiled a lot at the beginning of our relationship.

    line

    During the day, I worked at a community college, teaching sophomores about D.H. Lawrence and Nabokov, sometimes Fitzgerald. We talked about homosexuality and class structure. Early post-modernism and tide pools as metaphors for the unconscious. It eventually got to where I had trouble experiencing books without thinking about how I could teach them. I didn’t have this problem with movies.

    A girl stood up one day and asked me, “Why do you think some writers never get tired of writing about love?” Her name was Julie. She wore bandanas and took notes on a clipboard. I’d had a class crush on her before Allison.

    “Love’s never enough,” I said, “but it’s all we have.”

    “What about hate?” she said. “Or hunger? Or toes? We have those things too.” It’s possible Julie had been aware of my feelings.

    “Well, yes,” I said, “but I think what Oscar Wilde meant, and that’s who I was quoting, is that love’s all we have to cope with hate and hunger, and, um, toes.”

    Julie snorted in a not particularly subtle manner, then thumped her pencil once against her clipboard and sat back down.

    line

    “Why porn?” I said. “Why not action or comedy or drama?”

    Allison screwed herself down on me further. This was after closing; we didn’t know when Kai might show up. The carpet tickled my back. Bits of glass shimmered in Allison’s hair.

    “Desperate people are more interesting.”

    “Surely there are men in desperate need for a comedy,” I said.

    “Desire makes people more imaginative,” she said and sighed pleasantly.

    “Am I desperate enough for you?”

    “You have a quiet longing that I find quite appealing.” A flush pooled between her breasts and flooded up past her collarbone to lap at her neck. Showers of broken glass fell from her hair as she came.

    Kai walked in, blinked at us half-clothed on the floor, then curled under the cat quilt.

    line

    I could tell Kai didn’t like me from the way he stared at me when I watched movies with Allison, or the way he popped up next to me once while I was browsing his shelf of historical but accidentally funny films. I was looking for something that Allison and I could watch.

    “If you want pre-historic Raquel Welch action you should just ask Allison.”

    “No guarantee, though,” I said, “that I wouldn’t end up with a Ginger Rogers musical about fucking dinosaurs.”

    Kai licked his lips and scratched his nose. “You’re funny.”

    “Thank you,” I said.

    “I didn’t mean it as a compliment,” he said and grabbed a copy of Troy and walked out of the store.

    line

    Allison never told me where home was, but once, while walking at night through the buzz of streetlights, she did tell me a story. “My mom says she was impregnated by a pale man with dark glasses. He transformed after sex into a bluebird and flew out the kitchen window.”

    “And you believe that?”

    She pulled a wet Archie comic from her hair and flung it into a dark alley. “Is there a reason I shouldn’t?”

    “How does Kai fit in?” I said.

    “What about him?”

    “I thought maybe you were related.”

    “No, not in the least.”

    “Then why does he sleep where you work?”

    “Because it would bother the regular customers if a man was sleeping on the floor in front of the new releases. He belongs to Chou if he belongs to any of us.”

    The wind tugged at my jacket, lifted Allison’s hair.

    “He doesn’t like me, you know.”

    “I noticed.”

    “Maybe you should talk to him about how you feel.”

    “Kai doesn’t care about feelings the way people do.”

    “Oh.”

    In retrospect, it would’ve helped if I’d taken this statement not so figuratively.

    line

    The best and worst part about being dead was remembering when you were alive. You can’t control it really, you just drift in and out of your memories, sometimes like you’re you experiencing it all over again, sometimes like you’re watching it from a distance, like your life’s a dreamy sort of film directed by a bored David Lynch.

    I remembered growing up along a beach, searching for treasure, conch shells and polished rocks. My mom telling me to be careful of needles and broken glass. I remembered my first kiss. This was fourth grade, we were under the web of monkey bars, a shadow cut across her cheek, her hair tickled my nose. Her lips tasted like tomato soup.

    I remembered folding clothes with my mom, a woman of short temper and lemon-clean taste: Bruce Springsteen circa Dancing in the Dark and wines from Nice, circa 1905. Only one of these she could afford with any regularity, but there was one afternoon when I came home from school to find her in the kitchen drinking wine and dancing with the dishes to Thunder Road. She had on a flower print dress I’d never seen before. It twirled around her ankles as she spun dishes onto the floor, into the wall, the cupboards.

    “Nothing here feels like home anymore,” she said. “It’s time for new things, don’t you think?” And she came over to me and took my hands so that I was circling with her. “New forks,” she said, “new plates, a new life.”

    I remembered my father, impatient with short tempers and growing tired of living on E Street. He liked to ruffle my hair and call me chimp. On that afternoon he came home and took the record from the player and frisbeed it at the stove beside my mother. It curved in the air, and she just ducked out if its way as it shattered against the cabinet over her. A shard cut across her temple. When she bundled me into the car to drive away to a new life, she looked like a warrior from some lost tribe, a thin line of blood slicing over her eye and down her cheek, stopping just sort of her lips. At a rest stop, she went to the bathroom and cleaned her face. She sat next to me on a bench and said, “You know I love your father, but…”

    And of course I remembered Allison. Parts of her were always lost to me, the pieces that existed in other dimensions, her hair that was a beach, collecting another world’s glittering trash and misplaced treasures. Her left ear that overheard the drinking songs of gnomes.

    One night, in the philosophical aftermath of sex, she said, “Funny how people say come when they mean orgasm, like being wholly present is the most wonderful thing in the world.”

    “If people come, where were they before?” I said.

    “If zombies could come, maybe they’d be happy,” she said.

    “If zombies could come,” I said, “then they wouldn’t be zombies.”

    Allison open and closed her hand in my hair. “Do you believe in life after death?”

    “Why do you ask?”

    “I don’t know. Do you believe or not?”

    “Metaphorically, I guess.”

    “Life’s not a metaphor, John,” she said. “It just is.” She pulled me inside her and we made love again, quietly this time.

    line

    Other things Allison tried to teach me:

    You can’t rush the universe. Sometimes it takes a day or three before a movie appears in your hair.

    Trust in the Cats. The Cats love us even if they seem distant and unconcerned and slightly menacing in an I-wonder-what-would-happen-if-I-knocked-over-that-mountain sort of way.

    If you see a pale man with dark glasses and a mysterious flush peeking above his collar, run away. He’s not your father. He’s probably an undercover FBI agent or a shy boy on his first date, neither of whom will appreciate being asked if by any chance they are sometimes a bluebird.

    line

    One morning, Allison was gone and Kai sat perched on the arm of the couch. “That’s my quilt you’re under,” he said.

    “Allison made this quilt,” I said.

    “For me,” Kai said.

    I peeked under and saw that my clothes had been replaced at some point, so I gave the quilt back to Kai. He wrapped it around his shoulders.

    “Where is Allison?” I said.

    “Off procuring some desperate man’s desire, presumably.”

    I grabbed my shoes from under the desk.

    “She’ll tire of you, eventually, of course. You’re too normal for her.”

    Kai laid down on the couch and closed his eyes. I laced up and left.

    line

    “There was this girl,” Allison was saying as I drove her to the river to watch the train click by at sunset. “Her name was Angela or Angie or Carla, something like that, and we were best friends because once I pulled a bottle out of my hair that had a slip of paper inside. I gave it to Angela, Angie, Carla, and she read the slip out loud to me, Hello, it’s lonely where I am and if you’re reading this maybe you can be my faraway friend I never see but believe in anyway. Believe in me if you get a chance. My name’s Allison. I hate coconuts.

    “So you wrote the message?”

    “No,” Allison sighed, “someone with my name that lives in another world wrote it.”

    The sun ticked down behind the buildings and wrapped us in its absence. Windows and parked cars flashed behind Allison’s head. At the river, a train went by, engine 68, cattle cars, homeless men waving from the ladders as they flew past. Allison’s eyes were closed, her hands spidering through hair.

    “You’re missing the train,” I said.

    “There’s something back here. It itches.”

    “Can’t you pull it out later?”

    “It itches now.”

    At which point her left hand came out with a popsicle man with popsicle arms and popsicle legs and a coral blue shell for a hat.

    “Looks kind of like you,” she said. “Small and pointless.”

    “I’m only human,” I said.

    The train passed. The sun set. I drove Allison to the video store. At the first stoplight, she rolled down her window and threw the popsicle man out the window.

    line

    That night we argued over the pretentiousness of vampires. Allison said they had burdens, couldn’t see the sun, etc. I said they should learn to use sunscreen, carry a big umbrella. This was a parting shot of shorts and I stormed out of the store, only to discover Allison following me. Cars passed in the road as she called to me. I turned, said, “Go fuck a unicorn,” and as I stepped backward, a particularly solid Toyota Camry crashed into me.

    line

    In Korean, Kai means cat, or fate, depending on the inflection. In American, Allison means hate, hunger, toes, and the love that sometimes isn’t quite enough.

    line

    After I died, Allison did the best she could. She visited my grave every night for a month and tried to work her magic. She crushed dried raven hearts over my grave, bled her heart’s blood into the dirt. She brought a boom box and danced to Bon Jovi, Steve Miller, Helter Skelter, all forwards and backwards. Nothing seemed to work, though. The ground remained undisturbed every night but for the debris of Allison’s attempts. Worried that perhaps I lay resurrected and trapped below ground she would sometimes press her ear to the dirt and listen for scratching or kicking, a heart beating the same as hers.

    After a month, she came only on Saturdays to clean the grave of weeds, or to rub frost off my name. And then she stopped coming altogether, which is how it should be I guess. You have to kill your dead eventually.

    line

    You know how on the radio there’s a seven-second delay? Being dead’s like that. I woke up six months or so after Allison stopped visiting my grave, the hushed rhythm of “Space Cowboy” circling in my ears. The air was stale and a little piney. My vision was a bit milky, but the funny thing about coming back to life is how clear everything gets.

    I pulled my shirt over my head so the first flow of dirt wouldn’t suffocate me. Then I started punching. This would be where the zombie movie would cut to my hand bursting through the topsoil, but it’s a lot of work crawling out of your own grave. Especially after months have passed and the dirt has settled. It’s a lot of the same thing over and over again, punch, breathe, punch, breathe, get buried in dirt, feel like giving up, then try to sit up, once up, you start trying to stand, and once standing, you start trying to climb, by root, or handholds in the dirt, always moving up, always punching blind at the ground above you, hoping there’s enough air in your shirt bubble to take you all the way to the top.

    And then there comes the punch when there’s no more dirt, and the night sky opens up for you. When I took that first breath of air everything felt old and new at the same time. The wind felt windier, the night, nightier. When I ran, my feet flew.

    line

    I asked Mr. Chou if Allison was in. He nodded and squinted at me, like I was a hard to read subtitle.

    “I was at your funeral,” he said.

    “Thanks,” I said.

    When I opened the door, Allison said, “Oh, it’s you.”

    Kai got up from the couch and walked out of the room, the quilt trailing behind.

    “That’s all you have to say?”

    “I’m glad you’re alive,” she said. “How’s that?”

    “Better,” I said.

    She swiveled out of her chair and walked in front of me, her cracked marble eyes catching the Christmas lights. “Well,” she said, “what’s your wish?”

    “Us,” I said. “You and me.”

    “Too late,” she said.

    “You can’t rush magic, though, right?”

    “No, but, you can’t always wait for it, either.”

    “But now I’m alive.”

    “Yes, but it hurt when you died. And now when I look at you I don’t just feel love anymore. It’s all mixed up with everything I felt after you died and I don’t know what to do with that but I don’t think I can go backwards to just love.”

    “You either love someone or you don’t,” I said. “It’s like being alive or dead. You can’t be both.”

    “What about zombies?”

    “Don’t change the subject.”

    Kai walked in. He shrugged. “It’s cold outside,” he said and sat on the desk behind Allison, staring at me.

    Allison edged me towards the door, “Please leave, John.”

    “But I love you,” I said.

    “You should’ve thought of that before you died,” she said and closed the door.

    About the Author

    Chris Kammerud recently received his MFA from the University of Mississippi. His fiction and articles have appeared in Fiction Weekly and Strange Horizons. Currently, he’s at work on a short story collection featuring zombies, superheroes, and love, among other things. He very rarely puts honey in his tea.

    Follow his adventures at twitter.com/cuvols, or magnelephant.blogspot.com.

    Author’s Note

    Interstitial stories are very much like monsters, or porn, in that tentacles tend to pop up in the most unlikely places, and also in that proper adults often label them as dangerous, deviant, or just plain weird.

    Such is the curse of being considered impure.

    All monsters are half-breeds of one kind or another. Medusa is women and snake. Vampires alive, yet dead. Werewolves, cat people, tin men, and wooden boys: all monsters exiled to the borderlands.  All creatures somehow “weird.” For the most part, the stories tell us that they are ashamed or angry at what they are. Vampires tend to be tortured. Werewolves, cursed. Tin men need hearts and wooden boys wish desperately not to be made of wood. We are told, it seems, over and over again that monsters want to be human or, at the very least, to kill humans for hating and fearing them the way that, presumably, they hate and fear themselves.

    Most of these stories, of course, were written by proper adults.

    Interstitial stories, thankfully, were not. They are shameless monsters. They are vampires more or less at peace with the whole undead thing. Werewolves who are perfectly okay with the fact that once a month their body undergoes a transformation some find unnatural. They are Medusas who are not afraid to look in the mirror.

    Does this make them dangerous? Maybe. Deviant? Probably. Weird? Certainly. Does knowing that my story found a home among such strange, proud creatures as these make me happy? Yes, yes…oh god, yes.