Phenomenal sophomore effort from LA-based, wit obsessed pop artist Poe. Released on October 31st, 2000, Haunted is an extremely personal record, so much so that it almost borders on "concept album" status, dedicated to her father, Tad Z. Danielewski (1921-1993). The following story is included in the liner notes:
A few years after my father died my brother and I came across a box of cassettes -- recordings of my father's voice. One was a letter to my brother that he had spoken into a tape recorder long ago; another was the recording of a speech he had given during his years as a teacher; and a few more contained random recordings of forgotten family noise. Hearing his voice again shook me to my foundation. At first I couldn't bear to listen to him, then I couldn't stop. Finally I began sampling him. It was an eerie process. Had I resurrected a ghost? In some ways I had. Ultimately I entered into a dialogue with that ghost. Pieces of that dialogue compose the story contained on this album.
The samples of Poe's father occur as segues from song to song, teaching, arguing, guiding a child of the past into her adulthood of the present. The songs themselves are self-assured, painting the picture of a strong woman who, in many ways, is still just a girl.

I think one of my favorite series of samples is from one of the father's lectures:

"This cannot be all there is to life because in our confrontation with a cold universe there is something comical to the idea that we can really enforce our will on humanity. Power corrupts.

". . . and at the end of it all lies of course the final phenomenon of deterioration -- entropy -- which is a predictable deterioration when the creative energy ceases: everything has to fall apart."
Poe has matured on this record, and fulfilled all the promises made by her debut. The album's title really sums up the general notions the album comes to. The stark and powerful beginnings end in sentimentality and a resigned sweetness. It's as if we're witnessing the end of a mourning process, and left with the resulting hope.

Track list:

  1. Exploration B
  2. Haunted
  3. Control
  4. Terrible Thought
  5. Walk The Walk
  6. Terrified Heart
  7. Wild
  8. 5&1/2 Minute Hallway
  9. Not A Virgin
  10. Hey Pretty
  11. Dear Johnny
  12. Could've Gone Mad
  13. Lemon Meringue
  14. Spanish Doll
  15. House of Leaves
  16. Amazed
  17. If You Were Here


"Well, yes; Haunted is a rip-off of A Chorus Line... just like Fight Club was
a rip-off of The Great Gatsby." -- Chuck Palahniuk



Chuck Palahniuk's novel Haunted, a Canterburyesque framework story containing twenty-three short tales, is truly something else. Arguably subpar offerings, at least by an author of his calliber, Lullaby and Diary both had fans of Palahniuk's earliest works worried that their favorite modern author was slipping down the creative slopes and becomming a book churning machine on the level of a Grisham or King. These worries were not allayed by a non-fiction collection of essays previously published, and previously read, by the most rabid of Palahniuk followers. It started to seem as if Chuck had slowly started to change direction from his previous works, it started to seem the edge to his novels wasn't as sharp as it once was.

Opening the pages of Haunted is akin to opening your eyes from a nap to find yourself underwater.

Just like that, you're out of control in a place you aren't completely comfortable... but you know better to panic.

"Chuckster is at his best when he's scarin' folks, let's see where he takes us this time," you may tell yourself as you plunge into the terrifying stories which attack your senses one after another, allowing no reprive. Haunted is a writing clinic... literally. The framework for the novella is that a rich benefactor, Brandon Whittier, invites people by newspaper ad to abandon their lives for three months; Mr. Whittier dares people to leave everything which clutters their minds behind them and sit down in seclusion at an old theatre house for three whole months to write their grand masterpiece. As time runs its course, conflict rears everywhere as the dynamics between the sequestered writers become tense. The Writers' Retreat, it would seem, is not what any of them had expected.

While the novella itself as an examination of a micromanaged social structure (and a scathing critique of reality television, as the characters eventually scheme to make only their character escape their tragedy as the hero) is highly successful, Palahniuk revealed at the New York stop of the 2005 Book Tour that from the earliest stages he was aware the novella wouldn't quite cut it as a stand alone story. Solution? These sequestered writers, these horrified souls detained under one roof for three months, they tell stories to each other. They work out the thesis for what will become their great story. They tell an elaborate lie of a history of themselves. They explain why they are at the retreat... As each storyteller takes the stage there is a brief narration of introduction, a mini biopic of the author, a fleshing out of the person sitting lonely like on that big stage, under the hot white stage light.

And just like that, Chuckster's produced 400 pages of classic Palahniuk: gut-wrenching tragedy that makes you laugh even though you know it makes you a bad person to do so. Haunted succeeds on every level, with several stories that manage to transcend just being good and take their place as some of the best writing Palahniuk has ever produced.

Published by Doubleday in May of 2005 Haunted joins Palahniuk's previous six works of fiction Fight Club, Survivor, Invisible Monsters, Choke, Lullaby, and Diary. The author continues to reside in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States of America.






Story Synopsi



Spoilers Below


  • Guts by Saint Guts-Free

    The first short story of the new novel hits you hard and hits you fast. A sexual renaissance tale, which was first published in Playboy, turns to disaster for one "pearl diving" teenager and Saint Guts-Free explains how he can wear pants with a 24 inch waist.

  • Foot Work by Mother Nature

    This story, which also first appeared in Playboy, explores the Dark Side of reflexology. Mother Nature runs into a friend whom she went to school with, and learns all about working the genital reflex zone of someone's heel before learning too much about the dangerous business that kind of knowledge attracts.

  • Green Room by Miss America

    Haunted loses a bit of steam when Miss America steps up to bat. The story isn't bad, even by Palahniuk standards, but it isn't exactly brilliant stuff either. Its shining moment is in the message which it conveys: win at all costs and damn the people who get in your way.

  • Slumming by Lady Baglady

    "Social divers are the new social climbers."

    Slumming is the first story that really knocked me off my feet. Remember back in Fight Club when Tyler Durden misquotes Shelley? Remember how Tyler Durden told the narrator of that novel that he would have to lose everything before he could gain anything, that he would have to hit bottom?

    This story is that message: distilled, heated, with a touch of cream. One minor character quips "Having nothing to lose is the new wealth" in the middle of a conversation... This story is a theme which Palahniuk has used and revisited before, and the repeat performance has much improved in this incarnation.

  • Swan Song by the Earl of Slander

    Swan Song hits you because you aren't prepared for it. Just like Green Room the story starts off innocently enough--a man's dog eats some aluminum foil and the vet makes the dog better. Man happens to be a reporter, asks the vet to do a humanitarian piece on him, get him some publicity. But... humanitarian pieces don't really sell. And... if it bleeds it leads. And... let's face it, everybody turns on the 5 oclock news to see what hero fell today. Swan Song hits you like a sucker punch you never saw coming (unless you read this spoiler and you're waiting for it), and just misses the cut for being a favorite.

  • Dog Years by Brandon Whittier

    First you chuckle, just at the premise of the story. Then you find yourself "ewwing" and "I can't believe it."

    And then your eyes will pretty much widen as the conclusion of this progeriatric and his "angels of mercy" strikes home and the readers are suddenly exposed to what kind of person Mr. Whittier is...

  • Ambition by the Duke of Vandals

    Ambition is a story about an artist on the rise. After being released from court for his latest "art show" Terry Fletcher is recruited by an important critic to work for his studio. Of course, there is a price to gathering such sudden fame... of course Terry Fletcher is willing to pay...

  • Post-Production by Mrs. Clark

    This story revolves around what people will do for money. Not just some quick cash, but the kind of money that makes them think they'll never have another problem again. What at first seems like a solution winds up inexplicably destroying a marraige and leaves Tess Clark alone in the world... for the next nine months.

  • Exodus by Director Denial

    "Nobody here is defending what Cora did."

    But still, it did happen. What happens when dolls underaged victims use to identify where they were hurt become victims themselves? What happens when officers of the law abuse break rooms and cpr dolls? In Exodus Cora Reynolds has the answers for everything, including how to get away.

  • Punch Drunk by the Reverend Godless

    Another Playboy previewed story, Punch Drunk is a money-making scheme about some good ole boys who have strangers line up to sock 'em with "that wailing song from the end of that Titanic movie" playing in the background. What's all this money for, you ask? Well, you never want to tell the charter plane company their plane is only making a one way trip.

  • Ritual by the Matchmaker

    Shooo-rook

    It's a joke the uncles tell. It's a family tradition from the war. It's a horrible secret passed on when the cousins reach manhood.

    It's the second best story in Haunted.

    "Yes, terrible things happen, but sometimes those terrible things -- they save you."

    Ritual is concise and glaring, so bright like sunset that you need to squint and swat at imaginary gnats buzzing around as you buzz through five pages it lives on. The biggest inside joke one family has owes its roots to the last big war, when all the uncles served together -- and may be the reason why they're all still there.

  • The Nightmare Box by Mrs. Clark

    It's part of an art exhibit, but it really isn't just art. It's stored on a dusty shelf of an antique shop, but nobody knows how it got there. It looks innocent enough, like an old time camera, a box on three legs. It's laquered black, with two big handles that you have to hold as you lean in close, twisted, and topheavy to look inside the viewfinder.

    And then you press the button.

    If The Nightmare Box is still ticking when you press the button, nothing happens. You just see a close reflection of your eye in the glass lense. But if the box has stopped ticking... that's the time to look inside and see what it has to show you.

    The Nightmare Box is beautiful. At one point I had to literally stop reading and go back several paragraphs, just because they were so good. The Nightmare Box is your favorite song on a new cd, the one that you play three or four times for everytime you listen to any other song. It's that good. It's so good that I can't hope to do it justice with a blurb. If you've never heard of Chuck Palahniuk before and have no faith in any of his books go to your library, take out Haunted and read this story. It's that good.

  • Civil Twilight by Sister Vigilante

    Civil Twilight tells the story of a city gripped by fear. A monster is killing innocent citizens at dusk, with only its earth-shaking, window exploding, heart stopping, skull crushing footsteps as warning. This story looks into the behavior of a city in the grips of a red herring serial killer and how the citizens react.

  • Product Placement by Chef Assassin

    You will laugh reading the story by the Chef Assassin. You probably shouldn't, you may feel a little bad about it, but you will laugh. Just a little. With a name like "Chef Assassin" and a confessional letter to the Manager of Kutting-Blok Knife Products and an author like Palahniuk you can only guess what will happen, until Chef Richard Talbot tells you exactly what his plan is.

  • Speaking Bitterness by Comrade Snarky

    What would happen if a man tried to join a women-only group for ladies recovering from male related trauma? What would happen if the ladies tried to kick that man out? What would happen then if the man was really a woman, and tried to put up a fight? What if the women there didn't believe him, no matter how hard "he" cried? This is Speaking Bitterness

  • Crippled by Agent Tattletale

    People file for disability from work all the time. Lift something too heavy, fall down at an awkward angle; these are the sorts of things that win settlements from your employer. Of course, a lot of insurance agencies hire people to watch these "disabled" people. Watch them and make sure they aren't capable of doing any more heavy lifting that hurt them in the first place. A lot of insurance agencies hire these watchers.

    A lot of these insurance agencies don't tell them what to do when you're caught and locked up in a shed by an angry person living off their disability check.

  • Dissertation by the Missing Link

    "Every language in the world has a word for werewolves. Every culture on earth fears them."

    Mandy Somebody, in town to complete her disertation from her New York City school, has put together why. Because werewolves exist in all these places. Because there really is a Bigfoot out there. And in this hick bar in the middle of Nowhere, USA she's interviewing one.

  • Poster Child by Mrs. Clark

    Poster Child reveals why Mrs. Clark is at this writer's retreat. The continuing story of Cassandra picks up where it left off, the daughter looking into the nightmare box, then disappearing, and now suddenly returned. The police want answeres to stop the kidnapper from taking another innocent girl. Mrs. Clark wants answers to feel like she still knows her little girl. Cassandra objects, "You think I'd let someone else do this to me?"

    Cassandra had been missing for exactly three months...

  • Something's Got to Give by the Countess Foresight

    Claire Upton needs to know how to destroy a security camera. That's how this story opens, and then starts to explain itself. Claire Upton is special type of clairvoyant who loves antique stores. She's the type of shopper who has to pick up, who has to touch everything she passes. She has to touch everything she passes because she sees the past, present, and future of everything she touches, while most people just see the present form of it. The big question is: what if she sees her own future?

  • Hot Potting by the Baroness Frostbite

    Miss Leroy loves small disasters. A car breaking down, a driver too drunk to stay awake at the wheel. She loves small disasters because without it, she'd always be alone, out at her little motel on the highway. And if she was always alone, she'd never get to pass along her stories of the hot springs, and the dangerously hot springs. What really puts Hot Potting over the top though is Miss Leroy's tale of Olson Read. Olson Read who lived and prayed through the hotsprings. The same Olson Read who died by them...

  • Cassandra by Mrs. Clark

    "I'm not like you any more, I don't need to brag about my pain."

    The quote is from the end of Poster Child but it serves as a nice enough segway to the conclusion of the Cassandra legends by Mrs. Clark. Cassandra has disappeared again, and Mrs. Clark goes through her days like a robot, doing all the chores she loathes to do. Just waiting for that call from the police. They've found her little girl in a ditch by the side of the road, she's shaking and non-responsive. They've found her little girl, and she's dead.

    Or they've found her little girl.

    And they've set up a surveilance system.

    And waiting for her murderer to return to the scene of the crime.

  • Evil Spirits by Miss Sneezy

    The Keegan Virus is a rapid acting viral brain tumor. Catch it and you have two or three days, at the most. Miss Sneezy has this virus, she's a carrier. This means that everybody she's ever known is dead, while she sits in an airtight room on the island of infectious carriers, a collection of government raised bodies hosting the most deadly diseases the world will never see.

  • Obsolete by Mr. Whittier

    Obsolete is a story about proof of life. Proof of life after death on Earth, that is. A spacemission to Venus shows that there's a party going on in outerspace, but if you're still alive you can't get in the door. Unfortunately, if there's a birth on Earth you can get sucked back out of the party.

    Clearly, the solution is to have everybody head to this party at once, if they want to or not.




Sources:
Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
NYC stop of the 2005 Haunted Book Tour
www.haunted-the-book.com

Start Again

Back


Hey everybody
When my daddy died
He had a sad, sad story living in his eyes

She didn't really know who he was and neither did he. He thought he was more important than he was for all the wrong reasons in those days. He had been given a series of gifts, and he was asked to honor those gifts by doing what he was asked to do by those who had given him those gifts. He refused to comply at the time, convinced he could look away and live a life filled by a spinning wheel of those things he had never been able to have before those gifts were given. He could do anything now and he didn't owe anyone anything.

It would be years before he realized the person he owed for these things was himself and that he was constantly defeating himself by feeding his pride and vanity without regard to what was happening around him. It wasn't a simple lesson to learn. It would be a long, hard road before he came as close as he once did to understanding.

"You still don't get it, do you? You're Peter Pan and we're all trying to be your Tinkerbell."

--Tammy

Most of the time he wasn't even aware that he was carrying insurance policies. Sent on a mission, he was shielded against falling into a situation that would keep him from fulfilling that mission. What he left behind kept him driven as much as it reminded him that a promise had been made to him by the angels in his architecture. He could one day reclaim those things that meant the most to him, those thing he had left behind.

He is one spoiled rotten bastard, he is.

On a lonely, rainy night as he tried to make sense of the "shadow queens," who would appear and cut him to the bone before disappearing, his angel told him the story of The Fourth Queen. She would not be like any of the others. He would not seduce her. She would not seduce him. They would not lie together as dawn came over the horizon and talk of love and passion and everything that was between them, for better or worse. The angel told him The Fourth Queen would not fit what he could easily generalize in this way.

Hey pretty, don't you wanna take a ride with me...
Through my world...

As much as he tried to justify it, the first three years of his death were spent in selfish desire to avenge his old self. That pathetic boy who lived in constant fear, had no confidence and allowed himself to become a whipping boy for those who claimed to be his friends now felt a need for vengeance. It started as a challenge to himself, to date fifty women in fifty weeks, but then that got too easy, so he tried to weaken himself with drugs and alcohol and prove he could still do it. And he did. It was slightly more challenging, and now instead of just having dinner with them, he was sleeping with them and not leaving until he heard them speak the words. All they had to say was that they were in love with him and he would vanish into the mist. He wasn't a hero. He was the ultimate villain.

"Why did you move to Florida?"

"I hate winter."

"No, really."

"I came to follow a dream and figure out why I am still alive."

"And the other reason?"

"I would have destroyed myself otherwise."

There was a Tinkerbell. She just didn't understand what she did. She drove a spike through a part of his heart no one else ever could and she never took it out. She haunted him in a way no one else could dream of being capable of haunting him.

I'll always want you
I'll always need you
I'll always love you
and I will always miss you

During the era of fifty women in fifty weeks, there was one who stood out for reasons that had nothing to do with her. She was number fifty, but that wasn't what was important. She stuck around for four months, and in a time when everything was very temporary, that was a long stretch of time. It wasn't her that kept him around. She might have been just as good of a woman as any of the fifty, but that wasn't important. She would have been passed over and forgotten, just as he has forgotten the names and faces of so many of those fifty, just as they have forgotten his name and his face. He stayed for her daughter.

You think I'll cry?
I won't cry.
My heart will break before I cry.

There was a woman in those days who called him The Phoenix. What do you think they would call the daughter of a phoenix? Yeah. Life has a sense of humor.

"What do you think makes someone your daughter?"

"Meaning?"

"Well, in crude terms, does she have to be created from your sperm?"

"That probably makes you her father, but it sure as shit doesn't make her your dad."

"Give me another drink before I say something stupid."

Power corrupts.
It's your world.
Do with it what you want.
No, that's not the way to do it...

Madness. He lost the path again. Reunited with the greatest love of his life, finding himself working in a place that left him feeling he could fulfill his mission to "Give everything you can to everyone you know," remaining true to those who had been most important to him... he entered into entropy... what was the next step? What had he forgotten?

"Why do you remain so attached to Tina? Isn't it obvious she doesn't want to be with you?"

"That's a big part of the reason. You'd have to understand it has been three years since a woman turned me down."

"You're so full of yourself."

"If I changed my mind about you, would you turn me down?"

"No, but..."

"That is the point, darling."

"You're in love with a woman because she won't go out with you?"

"It isn't that simple, but you have no idea how much it helps me rediscover my humanity when she turns me down."

"You are one sick bastard."

"I never said I wasn't."

"I love you, anyway."

My daddy spent ten years living on the outside...
Looking in thinking he would never get back
Get back
Watch his dream walk across the silver screen
And he was standing there when the theatre went pitch black...

"I'm just getting warm."

As time went on, it became increasingly difficult for him to explain what had gone on in his life without seeming to present himself as some sort of mythological entity who simply could not be defeated. It was his destiny to be destroyed, very slowly, over the summer of 1999. He had gotten too cocky and too confident. He needed to be reminded that it simply wasn't that easy. A road travelled is not so simple. There are ups and there are downs. He was too long on the up and the only way to remind him of what he left behind was to come as close as possible to completely destroying him without actually making that destruction happen. When he resurfaced, he was more than a little humbled. The man who would become his closest friend over the next five years would later remark that when they first met he thought he was an old burned out homeless man who had somehow convinced the company they worked for that hiring him was a good idea.

I can't forget, I am a soul architect.

And soon after, his hair started falling out, the result of a bout with alopecia areata. They made it as difficult in those days as they had made it easier in the years just prior.

"You're completely filthy, your hair is falling out, you have no money... who did you say you used to be?"

"Someone who really needed this."

"Needed what?"

"Needed to get his ass kicked."

Alopecia areata is a condition with no real cure that causes your hair to come out in clumps. Stress and difficult interchanges in life are generally blamed as reasons for it. For someone whose faith hinged in certain ways on his hair, it was the ultimate slap in the face. It happened after he cut his hair short again for the first time in many years, giving up on what he was taught to believe in return for the hope of getting a job. All he could think of to do in order to cover the fact that patches of hair were missing from his head was to grow his hair long again. He worked in a place where long hair on men was against company policy, but when he appealed on the basis of his frighteningly patchy head of hair, they granted him a waiver. Things happen for curious reasons.

Soon after, his hair returned, strange little short spurts of growth coming up to fill up the empty spaces. He thought he was restored and began hitting on a young co-worker named Darla, who thought he was cute, although she thought it was even cuter that he expected her to take him seriously.

"I think I had my balls handed to me. Write this down. I know what it's like to be king and I know what it is like to be dressed down big time."

Whatever, dude.

It might be important that his best friend is a disenfranchised puppeteer who came to know him when he was at his worst and accepted him as such. After all, for years all his friends were female and he had no time for male friends, they didn't come with the same benefits. He has kissed more princesses that he has any right to have kissed and he did his best to turn most of them into queens. All said, he needed to be knocked down. Ego and vanity are dangerous things when they go unchecked.

Do you get the gist of the song now...

As time passed, his hair grew back, and then he began to find his bearings again. He felt the old power returning and used it to blow his friend's mind by moving in next to a young woman at the bar and taking her home with him that night. They ended up getting married. He was ready to make himself comfortable, and why not, being married to a woman thirteen years your junior and feeling you have all your powers back can give you the urge to relax.

And then one of his queens went and died and he realized what it was they were trying to tell him.

"Every time I start getting cocky someone punches me in the face."

I've experienced madness
And I rejected the entire experience

It took the death of another close friend and the connection between that death and the first of his shadow queens to begin to find the path again. The fire lit beneath him by the death of the second shadow queen led him to see he was just wasting time. There were still things to do. If he had been sent on a mission, and if that mission had been fulfilled, there was still more to be done. At one time his angel had told him something he was starting to remember...

"When you have done what you need to do here...
Those things that matter most to you in the life you left behind
Will be restored to you."

"And then what?"

"Then that will be the hardest thing you will ever do."

He thought he was receiving a reward for his dedication. The Muse, the woman he had loved for two decades, was finally calling him to her side. It could have been a reward, but she was broken and in need of a few small repairs. They would be parted more than once as she came to terms with that which was tearing her apart and leaving her bleeding on the floor. He would almost lose another queen, as she drank herself into madness and drove into a police car, and he would begin to see that the skies were not meant to stay permanently golden.

And I love you still...
No matter how the story will unfold...
You know I always will...

We hear of a lovely daughter
Shot down in her mistaken flight...

They all began to heal themselves, with or without him, as he could only pray that they would. All of his queens are, by nature, self-destructive. For a man who once took his own life, how could his queens be anything else? What wisdom and experience could he impart to anyone else? If there was anything he knew and understood it was the desire to destroy oneself. If he had any impact on their lives, he hoped it would help them avoid the same fate...

This place seems so familiar...

Perhaps he had prepared himself with a resume, a resume that was too long by half, of women he had loved and worked hard not to forget. It wasn't the same as the bridge he now faced and tried to figure out how to cross. Unless sperm was somehow the final decider, which seemed absurd, she was and always would be his daughter. Why would he have to marry her mother to give her this "title?" What would he have to do and would it really matter in the end? Would she remember a promise made when she was but a little girl surrounded by faeries and mermaids looking for some way she could ground herself in a life that seemed to make less sense as time went on.

If he could have taught her anything, it would have been that the longer you live life, the less sense it makes. This is the nature of life.

It's amazing to me
I can't seem to say what I'm doing here
My tongue is all twisted around the air
I'm looking for words that were so well rehearsed
But I can't find them anywhere
With you
There's no easy answer
It's true
You changed the equation I add up to
And all of the things I thought I knew
You turn it around
I'm amazed.

Months had passed since he last felt the path he lost. For months he was flailing, trying to make sense of where he was and why. Maybe it was time to retire. Maybe he was too tired to continue and it was time to rest, but even then he knew it was all wrong. He had become angry in his flailing, attacking those he loved and becoming dangerously unforgiving, even as he preached forgiveness and failed to practice what he preached. He was lost and in the darkness that surrounded him, he asked his angel to help him find the way back to the path...

"Are you ready?" she asked him.

"There is too much stagnation. I'm missing something, but I've become so lost lately, so tired, so angry... I don't know what can restore me any longer."

"Understand this."

Weeks passed and he struggled to find his way again. He claimed to have found it again, but he knew he was still lost. He tried to drive off the anger. He tried to find the peace he once knew. Every night he prayed for an answer. Every night he received the same answer.

"Are you ready?"

Don't you mess with a little girl's dreams
Or she's liable to grow up mean

"Whatever it is, I'm probably less ready now than I've ever been."

"Do you know what you mean when you say that?"

"Not at all."

"Then you are ready."

Communication is not just words
Communication is architecture...

He had a dream, much like those he had in the past, except this time he did not remember what it was about. He just knew it was one of those dreams that was all at once strangely prophetic and entwined with messages that could make sense to him if he was any more or less human than he actually was. His flaws made the dreams confusing, but without the flaws, the dreams would never come in the first place.

He woke up knowing how to find her. He turned on the computer and searched in the place he knew he would find her. And he did.

"So many women you've romanced, so many women you've slept with, what makes one different from the rest?"

"They all have something that makes me remember them and love them differently than the others."

"What if there was one you could not romance and could not take to your bed? Then what would you do?"

"You mean like Tina?"

"You romanced Tina and you seduced her in ways you'll never understand. I'm talking about something else."

Tell me something dangerous and true.

"Think outside the box. You've been inside your own box for too long. Define the question."

"Which is?"

"You asked the question. If you came back here for that which you abandoned in order to fulfill the quest, then what remains?"

"The hardest thing I've ever done."

"Still in front of you. If you are unready to take the next step, then it is here. Wake up."

The dream came back to him, but it was not prophetic. It was the return of a memory. There was a little girl standing in front of him. She had tears in her eyes and was holding onto him. For the moment, her mother was elsewhere. She would have been upset if she had seen what was happening. The little girl took his hand and looked deeply into his eyes, deeper than any woman ever could.

"I know why you have to leave. I understand."

"I'm sorry, I wish it didn't have to be like this."

"Will you promise me something?"

"If I can."

"Don't forget about me. I want to believe you'll find me again. Promise me you'll always think of me as your daughter."

He swallowed as hard as a person can, turned his frown into a smile, and with tears in his eyes, told her, "I promise I will."

"Thanks, Dad."

"Don't thank me. I've failed."

"It's okay, you can go now."

I will not leave again.


Samples from the Poe album "Haunted"
Dedicated with love to my daughter.
I hope she understands why I bought her this CD.

The hardest thing you will ever do is finding redemption. It all begins just as it all seems to end.

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Haunt"ed, a.

Inhabited by, or subject to the visits of, apparitions; frequented by a ghost.

All houses wherein men have lived and died Are haunted houses. Longfellow.

 

© Webster 1913.

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