Artwork: Leo

The first piece of a conceptual project I was commissioned for. This represents the zodiac sign Leo. I wanted to get across the whole sense of individuality and feelings of not quite belonging where-ever you go.

Overall it went pretty well, a lot of pen and line errors, especially in the skeletal portion. Had a lot of fun and learned some new techniques with watercolor.

11×8 inches on blick watercolor paper. Done in watercolor and ballpoint pens. The word are an overlay comprised of typed text and a page from my dictionary.

Orphan2

Finding Happy Chapter 1: Asunder.

This is technically the fourth chapter due to the three prologue chapters before this, and I’d recommend reading them before jumping in.

Start at the beginning here: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/09/13/third-degree-part-1/

I should start off by noting that this novel is about recovery, overcoming a horrible and unfair situation. There are heavy mystery, drama, and horror elements throughout. This chapters is one of the reasons I’ve waited so long to start posting “Finding Happy” sections. I really wanted to make sure I understood every bit of what I wrote, and that I did it in a way that accurately reflected this terrible thing that real people go through every day in America.

This is an extremely dark chapter that introduces one of the primary conflicts of the novel. It is uncomfortable and is intended for a mature audience. This was very hard to write as an author who cares deeply for the character they have created. It made me feel sick. I used an allegorical method here where Casey fades in and out of consciousness due to the drugs. The scenes in the dream are analogies for the hell she endures. In this regard much of the graphic nature inherent to “date-rape” is not explicitly described, but there are waking bits that can only be described as cruel. It’s a bit of an extreme contrast to the happy and hopeful tones of the first few sections, and is well within the veins of the psychological terror/horror genre.

*Trigger warning: Contains implied and actual depictions of physical and sexual abuse as well as victimization. Contains extreme and demeaning language.

________________________

I

Asunder.

 

Casey faded in and out of a half-reality. Who’s moving me…It’s so cold–

Casey stood on her grandmother’s porch, looking out over the dead cornfield, shivering. A storm was approaching, uncanny for a Colorado winter, to see so much lightning against snow. Thinking aloud, Casey said, “I always thought that you needed rain for lightening. Snow is so dry, in comparison.”

The rug…It burns. I can’t move. Why is it so dark. Where is everyone. She tried to scream, only managing to part her fragile jaw an inch before fading into oblivion­–

Turning, she unzipped her heavy jacket, simultaneously opening the withered old door. “This place was never the same after Nana passed. Gramps stopped tending the field, too. Stopped caring. Stopped tending to the life of the farm-stead. Stopped tending to his own life. As withered as the door.”

Ugh. I’m floating…No someone’s carrying me. Casey felt a dull and winded pain as she was dropped onto a soft surface. Too dark to see–

Thunder roared as the storm converged on the farm-house from all directions. “How is that possible? It’s just a storm. A break from the bitter and dry winter-air. That’s all it was supposed to be, just something new, I didn’t ask for this!”

–Don’t touch me…no! Casey was paralyzed as the darkness was interrupted by the light of a smartphone. Whoever was there waved it back forth, as if to mock Casey’s listless form. What do you want? What did you do to me? Her eye’s silently streamed tears as the stranger began to touch her. This is a nightmare…Wake up! Casey made a small grunt in a pointless attempt to scream. The stranger laughed, stood back, and fiddled with the phone. Suddenly, he arced the phone behind his head, allowing the screen to illuminate his masked face, showcasing Casey’s vulnerability. He’s taking a selfie…

The man turned and muttered something inaudible. There are more? The man held out the phone, and a tendril from the darkness accepted it, held it up, and laughed cruelly. A few seconds later, the phones flash illuminated Casey’s pale and limp body. Please don’t film it…What did I do to deserve this…I…I can’t–

Casey ran upstairs, calling out, “Mom! Where are you!?” At the top of the stairs she hung right and crashed through the first door. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to lie! Please, mom help me! Where are you?” The room was empty, decrepitate and decomposed. Her old bed, the one she’d always slept in while visiting her grandparents was cracked, desecrated with something…something evil. The sill where her Nana would lean, reading her Mr. Toad stories. That warmth was gone, shattered, like a black mirror seeking a comfort it will never reclaim–

–The man was on top of her, his considerable weight suffocating her in silence. He sloppily kissed her lifeless lips while violating her chest with his disgusting intentions. Dead tears rolled down her chemically-frozen cheeks. Stop. Matt, where are you? I need you, Matt. He rolled off her, snickering, and said, “This will teach you to be an uppity bitch and embarrass me in front of my friends, whore.” He grabbed her still-damp track shorts and pulled them off, exposing her panties. “Man, it’s like you weren’t even trying to get Matt to fuck you! Worst. Lingerie. I’ve seen. Better fix that.” Coward. Gutless coward. I’ll kill you if I ever find out who you are. I will kill you. Callously, he tore her panties off and began to roughly finger her. Casey’s anger ignited as the sharp pain radiated from her groin to her intestine. I promise, I will kil–

Before Casey could reach the second room, the storm blew a hole in the roof. The now-red tempest solidified into a necrotic hand, fingered lesions splicing in and out of its dynamic skin. Casey backed away, consumed by anxiety, terror, and regret.

Just think of the good times. Dissociate. Focus on your friends, Mom, that time you won the science fair, anything besides this. The masked man had started to rape her, she didn’t know when or how long it had been. What she did know, is that it hurt. He panted with a disgusting vigor as he penetrated her, stole from her with each passing second, blood acting as the only lubricant. “Take it whore, this it what you get for being a cunt! That’s all you are, trash, a sperm-dumpster. Better that you learn that now. You ain’t going nowhere, you jus’ act all smart and shit. You ain’t nothing but a filthy cunt.” The man recording with the smartphone laughed at his compatriot’s cruelty. You too, I’ll find you. You think you’re strong, but you’re wea–

The hand emit a thundering wave of force, tearing Casey’s childhood home, her life, to shreds. Disparaged everything she’d been taught to believe. Consumed her purity, her freedom, her choice. With an electrical explosion, Casey was flung through the window’s glass and out near the long-dead cornfield. An icy-pain spread as her broken and shattered bones sent SOS to her brain. She tried to move, but couldn’t, and the world she knew, ended.

A few reasons why “13 Reasons Why” doesn’t actually promote suicide.

Preface: This is an atypical post, as Bluebeard is an art project, not a platform for media commentary. I write stories, I’m the opposite of a diplomat, abrasive, even. Yet, I’m inclined to defend this series’ integrity. This show is an exception, in many regards. It handles topics most people won’t touch in a deft and admirable fashion. I’ll spare you a half-assed plot summary and get to the point. If you haven’t seen it, and you have access, I highly recommend it.

_______________

It’s not an easy thing, to balance entertainment and tragedy. Catharsis is one of the most misunderstood and least accepted precursors of joy. The concept is this; without negativity, without different emotions, and without pain, joy would be meaningless. A constant and uninterrupted joy is the equivalent to a never ending supply of heroin at your bedside. It would be fake. Light is only recognizable amidst darkness, so to speak. This is why I respect ’13 Reasons Why’ and what it does.

It creates a meaningful dialogue in a country where, frankly, we suck at feelings. It’s 2017 and people still say “Commit Suicide” like it was a crime, a murder. It’s not, and has not been in the United States since the ’80s. We treat it like it’s something dirty, we don’t educate our youth about the dangers of depression and self-harm. We ignore the victims who suffer from it every day, telling them to suck it up, because we’ve cultivated an individualistic sink-or-swim community where many would prefer to see their friends fail than see their friends surpass them. It’s this ignorance an repression that ultimately leads to higher rates of suicide in every demographic.

’13 Reasons Why’ is a perfect example of what we need more of; exposure. You can’t fight what you don’t understand, as a chemist, that fact has been drilled into my mind for years. You don’t cure cancer without an intimate knowledge of the mechanics surrounding the mutations that cause it (cyclins, P53, etc.). Yet, research on suicide and depression continues to be given a backseat to things like developing new tanks, war-machines, and war-heads because if it can’t knock the earth from its orbit, it isn’t explosive enough. The best way to combat depression is to talk about it.

As someone who has suffered from depression, as someone who’s lost someone close to their heart to depression, and someone who has thought about suicide at least once a week for the past five years, I can tell you with near-perfect certainty that the one thing that has been effective for me was having someone to talk to. Someone who wouldn’t call me an attention whore. Someone who wasn’t going to judge me for what I might be going through, however trivial it may appear from the outside looking in. Those people aren’t easy to find, because we are socialized to value stoicism and strength over emotion and introspection.  The result of that, by the way, is that the cruel and stupid flourish at the expense of the thoughtful. If you’ve ever been beaten up by over four people on the playground while the aid turned the other cheek, you know what I’m talking about.

The argument against ’13 Reasons Why’ is this: Hannah’s suicide romanticizes self-harm, the tapes glorify suicide, makes it appealing, thereby increasing suicide rates.

Ironic to see this coming from the same news outlets that have a field day when when some kid shoots up a school. Glorifying school shootings by making the shooter famous and showing their face to everyone gives the killer what they wanted. This isn’t that. Hannah’s characterization is slowly revealed through the tapes, the (extremely valid) reasons she was in pain. One thing above all led to her decision, though. That was the fact that no-one was there for her. She tried, very explicitly, to reach out. Nobody gave a fuck. Instead they continued to abuse her, both verbally, and in one grim instance, sexually.

That’s the point. That’s all there is to it. Compassion and the simple act of being there, the act of not presuming to know what somebodies going through.

Not everything people are saying is wrong, her suicide scene was romanticized, in the artistic sense of the word. It was an artistic and cathartic scene that made me cry. But romanticizing something doesn’t glorify it, it’s the act of making it relatable. It’s the context that matters.

’13 Reasons Why’ accomplished something when they made depression, pain, and suicide relatable to a mass audience. The people who jump on it and condemn its intentions are the same callous, sensationalist, and opportunistic folks who’d sell everything they are for success. Success is relative. Means do not always justify ends.

I’m not arguing Hannah’s character is perfect, because she’s not. She has flaws that inhibit other peoples ability to help her, most notably Clay, the socially inept protagonist. But who doesn’t have issues? Who doesn’t have the occasional self-destructive moment? People who say they don’t ever have painful moments need to take their masks off and look in the mirror.

Another salient point is that just because Netflix produced something that contains an instance of self-harm, doesn’t mean Netflix is trying to get people to kill themselves. That same logic only holds when applied to everything, including murder, crime, and things a whole lot worse than depression that are regularly aired without criticism. We do this, this taboo stuff. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s ironic and damaging. The reason people get mad that a suicide is depicted in a story is the same reason that people get mad when there is nudity. All the while mass-murder and unapologetic gore become normalized.

I’m not arguing against depictions of violence or further censorship, rather, that people start giving more credence to actual context than click-bait titles. ’13 Reasons Why’ doesn’t convince people to kill themselves, if anything, it’s a positive step in combating the enigma of depression,

Maybe it could help our society grow in a positive way that encourages youth to be open instead of smothering uncomfortable emotions and pretending they don’t exist. That’s when the damage is done, when you bottle the negativity up. This show simply tries to alleviate that built up societal pressure. One thing it won’t do, however, is convince psychologically healthy individuals to up and kill themselves. There are reasons for suicide, it’s never trivial.

 

Reworked Poems (9/27/17) + Art

Had a few hours to tinker around with the balance of some of these. I also finished a drawing I started a few years back. As always just click the blue links for a PDF version of each poem with the superior formatting. Drawing is at the bottom.

Fractured Memories (Click for PDF version):

Fractured Memories
_______
The pain that’s easiest to hide,
Numb,
The one hurt I can’t abide.
I find,
The times I want to die,
Are when I stop feeling alive,
But you threw the die,
Told me to try,
You didn’t laugh when I’d start to cry,
Or when I told you to help me fly,
Away from here.
I wanted was to be free,
Can you be my key,
The one and only who’ll let me be,
Me.
I don’t know where I’m going,
Or how long-away I’ll be,
But you’ll live on forever,
In these fractured memories.

____________

Born of Frost

Born of Frost

________

Born of frost,
Splicing winter’s cross,
with summer’s burning moss.

They laughed and jeered,

Twelve foot tall,
A thousand thrall,
Skin; an ice-plate wall.

Now they cry in fear.

Deathly glacier,
A cruel-dawn’s slaver,
Draconian martyr,
Rapturous erasure.

Beware my dear,

The towering eolith,
No man or myth,
Fear our moiré; the WinterSmith.

_______________

Call me Faceless

_______________

Call me Faceless

________
Who am I to speak to what’s wrong or right?
One who’s closer to oppressor than victim,
I try on a long and stormy night,
To decipher this dictum,
Oblong and gritty plight.
How can I complain,
When I rest on the laurels of another’s fortune,
Screaming a phantom pain.
Who am I to say what you should do?
When I’m a short step away from weak,
Despite being one of the lucky few,
Who has money enough to speak?
Inherent disdain,
A fallacy tainting the fabric of my minds misfortune,
Learned condition renders me lame.
Do I really care,
About blood-soaked policies of an empire built on the backs,
Of those with actual despair?
Why can’t I just relax,
Cut out the fancy fucking syntax,
Abuse our militaristic axe,
Deny the horrendous acts,
Against children who couldn’t afford a simple tax.
But it’s not easy for me to lie,
When I walk outside and watch the homeless die,
Sure,
Call me weak,
Because I cry,
Because I try,
To care.
You tell me money isn’t happiness,
Then tell me not to worry; because I have enough to eat?
As if the relative suffering of others is supposed to placate my crimson-soul.
My truth;
The only thing worse than trying but failing,
Is giving up entirely

______________________

Media: 6b pencil + a bic pen.

Paper: 6×9 inch cut watercolor paper.

FullSizeRender (25)

Igor

A fleeting whisper of stagnant hope, a momentary lapse of the path you’ve walked. A hand, crying-silver, reaching for something real, a consort. You tried.

Ugly, he said. You knew, you always did, the tar-like cruelty of the rougher kids made sure you couldn’t forget, that you’ll never be more than disgusting to them.

Still you reached, grasped, needed his hand. The word flattened you, as if you’d kissed a train with somewhere more important to be. Ugly, he repeated, and your world came crashing down. The whispering lingers, how could she let herself hope?

Finding Happy: Prologue-2

So this particular short story used to be called “Third Degree” before I realized it was going to be another long one. I’m on the rough’s of the fifth chapter as of writing, and naming is something that isn’t really set in stone. I do apologize if this causes people confusion!

Prologue-II is similar to prologue-I in tone and style. It’s very much exposition with a few hints and foreshadows. Enough of that, though, enjoy!

 

Start at the beginning: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/09/13/third-degree-part-1/

Related Artworks: 

https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/09/18/distant-fall-artwork/comment-page-1/#comment-85

https://bluebeard-art.com/blind/

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Prologue-II

 

I really shouldn’t have put off this drinking thing for so long, I feel fantastic! Matt was talking to a couple of his friends, but Casey wasn’t really listening. His arm was draped over her shoulder and she was leaning her head against his muscular chest. “Matt!” shouted Casey, unintentionally cutting off the tall girl who was speaking. “Oh…shorry, about that, I’m a little out of it.” The girl giggled, shooting her a look she couldn’t place. Pfft…Like I care anyway. Everything is great.

Laughing now, Matt asked, “What’s up?”

“Let’s go in the pool, it’s hot out.” Said Casey, nuzzling his under-arm with her fore-head.

A surprised look shot across his face before he smiled, and said, “Sure! Let me go get another drink though, I think I need to catch up to you!” Casey laughed, drunkenly. I’ve only had like five or six drinks, can’t be that bad. What was alcohol’s disassociation constant again? “You gonna be okay if I leave for a minute, Casey?” He sounds like he’s joking but his eyes actually look a little worried.

Casey’s mouth curled into a self-conscious smile, her brow furrowed, and she said, “Of course I’ll be fine! I can take care of myself.” As he left, she stumbled slightly and looked around. Parties are a strange thing. What’s the point of a pool if no one uses it? There’s at least forty people just standing around and literally no one is in the pool. Casey stepped back and relaxed, letting her back gently rest against the house’s expensive looking rose-wood exterior.

It really is a beautiful home. I don’t even know how you treat wood to get that shade of blackened brown, but I’d bet it’s expensive. Those tables, too. The cheap-ass red cups can’t even hide the crystal. I wonder if Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher realize Christie is throwing a drinking-party. Probably not, but with a house this nice, I’m sure they travel for work or something. It’d really be a matter of shutting the neighbors up, and the next house is a quarter-mile out, so no worries there, I suppose. I feel out of place, I guess wearing vampire teeth to a full-on slutty Halloween party wasn’t proper planning, though. Alcohol really highlights those silver-linings. Casey closed her eyes, smiled, and let gravity pull her neck to the left.

“You still good to swim, Casey?” asked Matt.

Lazily, she opened her left eye, and responded, “Always.” He already changed into his swim-trunks? What’s the point of being a sailor if you don’t swim?

“Awesome! I hadn’t expected to actually swim, glad I brought my trunks now. You want me to hold your drink while you go change?”

“What? Nah, Bra’s…Two-piece’s, same thing.” Said Casey, playfully biting her tongue through a wide grin. “Oh, don’t look so surprised, I can party too, just because I make grades doesn’t mean I can’t have fun!”

“Whatever you say, boss!” said Matt, laughing, before running at the pool and jumping in, splashing a couple making out in the hot-tub. Gotcha! Casey chugged the rum and coke Matt had handed her, set it down, and pulled her tank top over her head. Best leave the shorts on! Making eye contact with a confused Matt, she winked, and sauntered towards the hot tub. Ignoring a whistle to her right, she stepped into the steamy water, quickly did her hair up, and sat. God…this is literally the best temperature. The girl across from Casey gave her a nasty look before turning back to her gentleman of the evening.

Casey recoiled in shock as Matt fell, feet first, into the shallow water, splashing water into her face. “Hey! What was that for?” asked Casey, giggling uncontrollably.

Closer now, ignoring the distraught couple he’d splashed twice, he replied, “You pranked me first you know! That water was actually kind of cold.”

Suddenly serious, she nodded slowly, and said, “Awwwe, is the little athlete sensitive? You want me to warm you up?” Taken aback, Matt opened his mouth to reply, but nothing came out. Feigning frustration, she grabbed his arm and pulled him down. “Just kiss me, please.”

Cautiously he brought his lips to hers. Shivers shot down Casey’s spine and she pushed forward, deepening the kiss. As Matt curled his muscular fingers into her black hair, she swung her legs over his lap, pulling herself closer. Matt pulled away for a second, breathing heavily to catch his breath. Taking advantage of his momentary weakness, she bit his neck with her fake vampire-teeth, and giggled with elation. “Wow! I see you’re into some weird stuff there, Casey.” Pulling away for a moment, locking eyes as she cocked her head in mock-confusion, she removed the silly teeth and attacked his mouth.

_____________________________________

Thanks for reading!

Continue here: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/09/28/finding-happy-prologue-3/

Daily Blog 9/12/17

*Violent, disturbing, and graphic content. Bad language.

The aftermath of chapter 10, and the first chapter of Act 2. Revenge, no matter how much someone deserves it, isn’t gonna fix what they did.

Start at the beginning: https://bluebeard-art.com/2017/08/27/daily-blog-82717/

 

XIII

October 30th, 2021-Nessa

 

Nessa watched Ben fight for every breath. She’d desecrated him, like he’d done to her. Unfortunately, the euphoria had been short-lived. Ben’s white golf-shirt was now a satin-red, his small wound had four and a half feet of his intestine trailing from it. She’d removed his testicles, where a steady flow of blood and other unsavory liquids continued to flow. His screaming had stopped five minutes ago, at which point he’d started to choke up a mix of blood and vomit. His eyes were wide open, flicking from one end to the other in shock. He’d defecated, messily, off the foot of Nessa’s bed.

Nessa watched him die, not because she enjoyed the suffering, rather, she had to see him pay. She was waiting for the moment when she’d suddenly feel what she imagined justice was supposed to feel like. The longer she watched Ben pathetically struggle for air, drowning in his own vomit, the more she feared that the feeling wouldn’t come. Then the guards would come, and they’d beat her, maybe rape her, and kill her. What was it all for? What’s the point of life if all that exists is cruelty. Cruelty that can never, truly be paid for. Does justice even exist?

                Frustrated tears welled rolled down Nessa’s cheek and onto her blood-stained nightgown. Anger welled deep in Nessa’s core, igniting every synapse of every muscle. The rage built, bursting to boil. Ben gurgled. Pig!

Nessa walked up to Ben and screamed, “Why did you do it you disgusting shit-stain! What? Did it make you feel powerful?! Does the pain, the suffering get you hard?! Because I don’t get it, I get no satisfaction for doing to you what you did to hundreds of little girls, you sick fuck! You hurt people who can’t fight back, all so you can stroke your fucked-up ego!” Nessa hit his forehead with the hilt of her hook-knife. “Come on! Fight back, cunt!” She hit him again and his eyes rolled back, exposing his jaundiced whites. “Don’t you die, coward, fight back!” She hit him a third time, a bloody hole appearing on the spot. “Not so strong now, are you!” As she hit him again, the hilt of the hook-knife broke through his skull with a loud and sickening crunch. Nessa tried to pull the hook-knife out, but it was stuck. “Give it back, you’ve taken your share!” she screamed, struggling to get her weapon free. “It’s mine–BANG!”

Turning towards the noise, Nessa froze. Two men with ski masks and automatic rifles stood at the now lockless door. “On your knees!” the man on the left shouted. Nessa got on her knees, abandoning her knife. The right man moved forward, quickly, keeping his gun pointed at Nessa.

Noticing the mess on the bed, he whispered, “What the fuck.” Calling back to his partner, “She’s massacred him. What should we do with her?” The left soldier moved forward to examine the mess. Just as quickly, he backed up, audibly gagging. Pussy.

“Take her in.” Said the soldier between retches. “Those were the orders. I can’t though, not with that smell.” The sickened soldier left the room. One down.

                Amused, the remaining soldier said, “Well, you’re a sick little fuck, aren’t you?” He lowered his weapon. “What’d this guy do to you anyway to deserve that?” Nessa stayed quiet, assessing her situation. Obviously, I won’t win in a fight. Especially with no weapon. Maybe if I do what they say I can escape at some point. “Well, I didn’t really want to know anyway, he probably deserved it. Turn around, gonna cuff you.” Nessa did as the soldier asked, lowering her hands to her lower back. The soldier got down behind her and cuffed her left hand with a “SNAP”, before doing the same to the right.