Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Night that Joe Came Out to Play

There's a fine line between fantasy and what is real. So, I like to blur that line on occasion, in stories, to make them seem more real. For instance, in the Blackwater Casefile 'Three' trilogy that I was writing for the past three days, the town of Tumbulgum, New South Wales is a real place. I don't know if there are any legends of trolls, but the street names are real, as is the Tweed River and Riverside Drive does indeed lead from the bridge to a large field of sugarcane.
I do this kind of thing because I like to encourage suspension of disbelief, I like to throw in some reality so that it doesn't spoil the fantasy. However, the following story I'm about to tell you is true. This isn't a joke or a piece of fiction or a game, this is a true story. It happened to me, and it's about a time when fiction blurred the lines of reality. The Word of the Day is: 'MESSY'
Messy /'mesee/ adj. 1. Characterized by a dirty, untidy, or disordered condition: A messy room. 2. Causing a mess: A messy recipe; messy work. 3. Embarrassing, difficult, or unpleasant: A messy political situation. 4. Characterized by moral or psychological confusion.
The Word of the Day is Messy for two reasons. Firstly, because the following story was quite a crazy thing. Secondly, I need to introduce you to someone . . .
One of the stories I'm working on, hoping to turn into a novel, is something called Dead Graham. I talked about it before in the "7-Line Challenge/Next Big Thing" blog-hop I did a while ago, so read that if you want to know more. Within that story, there is a character known as "Messy Joe". Full name, Joseph Edward Craveson, his character is a lot of fun, he's an ex-magician, maniac, cannibal, zombie thing (in a nutshell). He's one of the more developed characters from the story, because he's literally insane, so I needed time to figure out how to write that. Because of this and my own twisted sense of literary development, I've also based the character on myself quite a lot.
Don't worry, it's all an exaggeration. I bite my lips, he's bitten off his lips. I have slight mental issues like OCD and anxiety, he's schizotypal. I can't raise my eyebrow, he's missing an eyelid. I talk to myself and write stories, he talks to the voices in his head and imagines things that aren't real.
So, I've always felt close to Joe and felt sorry for him for being so crazy. This is another example of those blurring lines of fiction. He's a fictional character, but in many ways we are similar.

Anyway, that's who Messy Joe is. He's important to this story, but he's not the beginning. This all begins when at a party at my old sharehouse . . .

It was your usual night. I was drinking cans of Bundaberg Rum (& Coke) with my friends, we were having a ball. In particular, I was drinking with my best mate Sean - with whom I've been on many adventures, including walking to a haunted graveyard - because on this particular evening, a lot of the others weren't getting into the drinking so much. Sure, they were drinking, but were were on about our fifth can by the time they were starting their second.
Since people were going easy (except for Sean and me) they figured they might instead begin the evening with something a little more potent than alcohol. Something more, shall we say, herbal.
So, a bunch of us wandered downstairs to partake in some heavy breathing exercises. Sean and I decided to join them since, that's the way the party was headed. At the time, I did not realize the implications of mixing your "toxins", so I didn't realize what Sean and I were getting ourselves into.
According to Sean, the last thing he remembers is walking downstairs. The last thing I remember is going into basement and seeing a friend of ours, Yang, breathing in second-hand smoke in that enclosed space. I then have flickering images of sitting cross-legged in a circle before everything disappeared. As though my "black box, party-night recorder" was skipping a few scenes before it all went black. Poof . . . memory gone.

I woke up several hours later, in tears. I was freaking out, because I was blind. I couldn't see. I was sitting in the living room, but everything was blurry. I saw someone walking back and forth, looking for things. I recognized from their gait that it was Sean. I asked for help, but we were both still a little loopy, he was going home. He said he was tired and needed to sleep, while I was pleading for him to help me find my glasses.
Then he left, and I started panicking. So I called him on my phone. He answered and said he was in bed. I freaked out saying I was all alone and I needed him back here! For some reason, he actually came all the way back then, and helped me find my glasses. They were on the floor beside me.

I had no idea what happened, so I asked Sean (either then, or later). He said that he just remembered us sitting on the deck, laughing and some other bits and pieces. I also asked my friends, and they told me about a fascinating encounter.
Apparently, after getting some less-than-fresh air, we had indeed sat out on the deck, but I wasn't exactly myself. Apparently for most of the evening, I was weirding people out, laughing like a maniac, some even said that I'd threatened people and giggled like a madman.
It didn't make much sense to me. I'm not like that at all. I consider myself more of a verbal fighter than a physical one, I prefer to hurt people emotionally or intellectually. So, I said to my friends "that doesn't sound like me at all", but that's when they said, "You told us your name was Joe . . ."

I don't know all the details, my friends didn't talk about it much, since it's not that big of a deal. Especially to Sean and I. See, I have a dark sense of humour. My theory is that, while under the influence, I started trolling my friends. Messing with them and freaking them out by acting like one of my characters. That's why I was laughing so much, it was all a joke to me.
But that's the thing. Even though it was all a joke and I know that Joe could never actually break free from my mind, it makes me wonder. I'm serious when I say that I consider myself and Joe to be quite close. He's based on me, after all, and he exists in my mind. When I write down Joe on paper, that's him. When I write out the words: "I always try to be nice."
Those are Joe's words. He exists within them. When I write the character, I'm writing in my own words after all. Our words are the same thing.
Then, there's the fact that I couldn't remember the evening, but somehow managed to enact a character, even if it was just a partial re-enactment. I literally feel like Dr. Henry Jekyll, with the simplest application of chemicals, I managed to let a character from one of my stories out of its cage. I was still there, but it was a different me entirely. A side of me known as Messy Joe . . .

Please, I implore you, don't doubt me for a second. This is a true story. If I could make up something like this, I would put it into a piece of fiction, not pretend it was real. Never before have I experienced anything like this and I never will again. I am fairly certain that this was all just a hoax, A joke that I was playing on my friends . . . but it was a very effective one. Because sometimes, I feel like it's Joe that was playing the joke on me.
I don't know what came over me, but I try to avoid mixing chemicals these days, just to be safe. And so should you, especially if you're a writer. We're too prone to depression and alcoholism as it is without spilling our characters out onto the real world. It doesn't matter if it was real or not, because the fear in my friend's eyes wasn't.

You want to know the worst part about all this? I find it funny. It's a fascinating occurrence in my life, a story to tell. I won't do it again, but the fact that I managed to scare my friends so effectively, is funny to me. That's what's so crazy about this whole experience. It truly did blur the lines between Joe and me. We both exist in the same brain after all; speak the same words; feel the same feelings & have the same sense of humour. Perhaps, the reason why Joe could "come out" so easily, is because he's already here . . .
I guess this whole occurrence has made that line between fantasy and reality a little bit, shall we say . . . messy.

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd and until next time I'm going to make sure I remain the Absurd Word Nerd and nobody else . . .

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