There is another world, but it is in this one.

Paul Eluard. Œuvres complètes, vol. 1, Gallimard, 1968.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Another night in the lonesome October: The Folding Man by Joe R. Lansdale (2010)

"The Folding Man"* by Joe R. Lansdale (2010) has appeared in a number of anthologies and author collections.

This being mid-October, it is a perfect treat.

I have not read a Lansdale story in years, though I will never forget the raw power of "Tight Little Stitches on a Dead Man's Back" (1987) and "Night They Missed the Horror Show" (1988).

Lansdale begins "The Folding Man" in the sharp, proper, and clarion style of Ambrose Bierce:

They had come from a Halloween party, having long shed the masks they'd worn. No one but Harold had been drinking, and he wasn't driving, and he wasn't so drunk he was blind. Just drunk enough he couldn't sit up straight and was lying on the back seat, trying, for some unknown reason, to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, which he didn't accurately recall. He was mixing in verses from "The Star-Spangled Banner" and the Boy Scout oath, which he vaguely remembered from his time in the organization before they drove him out for setting fires....

Our teenage protagonists soon cross paths with a big black car. Driven by a trio of nuns. Except the car is an unknown model to our young protagonists. And the occupants are not really nuns at all. They simply appear to be nuns.

An explosion of violence follows, and we are on a dark country road on an October night and the only thing missing is a Vernon Dalhart song on the radio.

....William shook his head.

"My grandmother used to tell me about a black car that roams the highways and the back roads of the South. It isn't in one area all the time, but it's out there somewhere all the time. Halloween is its peak night. It's always after somebody for whatever reason."

"Bullshit." Jim, hands still on his knees, lifted his head.

"You go down there and tell that clatter-clap thing its all bullshit. See where that gets you."

"It just doesn't make sense."

"Grandma said before it was a black car, it was a black buggy, and before that a figure dressed in black on a black horse, and that before that, it was just a shadow that clicked and clacked and squeaked. There's people go missing, she said, and it's the black car, the black buggy, the thing on the horse, or the walkin' shadow that gets them. But, it's all the same thing, just a different appearance."

I'll leave it at that.

14 October 2018

*Recommended by Matt Cowan on Facebook.

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