Saturday, February 8, 2014

...And Now for Something Completely Different.

Last Friday night I drove up to Sandown New Hampshire, to take part in a wine-tasting and meet the authors event at Zorvinio Vineyard. No, I wasn’t strolling around Sandown getting slowly sloshed while sipping samples of sweet sherry and Sauvignon. If I had, there’d be no way I could say that sentence, never mind spell Sauvignon. I was one of the authors.
One of the Horror authors. Muhahahaha…..

So I set up my table, including the banner my mother bought me for Christmas. It’s a little large, so it helped me remember where my table was whenever I wandered away, and it gave me something to do when people asked me “So, who are you?” I simply pointed to the banner behind me and said “Him. I’m that guy.”

It made things simpler.

Because we were at a vineyard (obviously a classy place) I had opted for a more professional look than some other times. I have seen people, people not into horror, wince at the sight of me in my Zombie Poe shirt. These people obviously have no class, since the shirt clearly shows one of the masters of the genre, but once they wince and walk away, you can pretty much count them out as a sale.

I’ve also had potential customers look askance at my Dark Muse mask. I’m not sure why, since I’m obviously smiling at them while wearing it —  look, you can practically see all my teeth!

Instead I opted for a polo shirt and sport coat, though the latter wound up decorating the back of a chair once all those wine-sloshed bodies started filling the room with Zinfandel-driven heat. The doors to the sale floor opened and I slapped a friendly smile on my face and waited for the wine-tasting crowd to stagger my way.
They came in a stop-and-go wave. They stopped to talk to the guy three tables down from me. They talked to the guy two tables down from me. They even stopped to pass words with the old codger at the table right next to mine, though to be fair, in their opinion he may have still been a young codger. Then they left his table… and walked right past me.
I tried to slow them down with a friendly “Hello!”
I tried “Good evening!”
I even went so far as to throw out a jolly “So, are you enjoying the evening so far?”
That got me some uncomfortable nods and smiles and “Mhm”s… but no one would stop long enough for me to execute my Sale Plan, which, I’ll admit, pretty much amounted to me tossing books at them and shouting “Buy! Buy!”
I looked down at myself, wondering if I’d accidentally put on the wrong shirt.
Nope, no Zombie Poe in sight, just a black polo.
I surreptitiously checked my zipper, terrified I might be waving at them with the wrong appendage.
Nope, I was flying high, tight and secure.
I checked my teeth for detritus, wondering if I had a big hunk of spinach trapped between my front teeth —  which would have been a neat trick, since I don’t even eat spinach.
No dice. No hanging boogers, halitosis, or unsightly oozing pimples on the end of my nose —  what the hell was going on here?
Then I saw the crodget. That’s a word I invented, a mashup of crone and midget, indicating a female of less than five feet in height but more than ninety years of age. It was crodget or mine, and mine was just too confusing… anyway, this crodget was shuffling along, but paused as she got to my table. She stared myopically toward one side of my display. She made a face.
Well, sort of.
She already had a face like the blade of an axe, all long sharp nose without a lot of forehead or chin (in an effort not to sound mean, I’m not even mentioning her hairy mole, or… oh, damn!), but she managed to crinkle up the axe blade somewhat. She shook her head with a grunt, a sound like she had been gut-punched, possibly by Little Brutus, the well-known midget wrestler, one of the only humans alive short enough to have a clean shot at her teeny-tiny belly. She turned the axe blade away, cutting through the crowd like Lizzie Bordon at a family reunion… though a Lizzie Bordon who only whacked tall people about the knees. But she was too late. I had seen the direction of her gaze.

Demonic Visions and Demonic Visions II sat side-by-side on the table. From the  
back (the view *I* had) they look like just another pair of books. But from the front…

Okay, yeah. Not so nice. I was debating pulling them from the table, purely to stop the crowd reaction… until one very young lady popped out of said crowd to stand, open-mouthed, before my table. She was staring at Demonic Visions.
“Uh… hello?”
For a moment, she made no response. Then, with all the dramatic flair of a thirteen year old girl (which, in all fairness, she was), she leveled a finger at the book, still with her mouth hanging open.
“Uh,” I said. “Is that a good face, or a bad face?”
“That… is… awesome!”
I blew out a relieved breath.
“Ah! Good face, then. Glad you like that one.”
I went on to explain a little about the books, and while I was talking I noticed a couple of other people stepping out of the flow of foot traffic to give a listen. I kept talking to the young cover-art fan, but pitched my voice to include the other listeners as I went through each book on my table.
“Those are great,” said the teen, before disappearing like a magic trick, back into the crowd.
“Thanks for stopping by,” I called after her, saddened to see my one potential sale vanish like that.
“Can I take a look at that one there?” said one of the watchers, pointing at one of the books on my table.
“Sure,” I said, offering him a spinach-free smile. I handed him a book to peruse, then handed a different one to his companion.
I resisted the urge to pelt them with books while screaming “Buy! Buy!”, but it was a near thing.

It was probably a good thing I did resist. The rest of the crowd, seeing that others had interest in what was on my table, and that I was talking to people rather than flinging things at them like a Primate House inmate with a fistfull of poo, started to stop by and check out what I was selling.

After that the sale went pretty well; I sold a few books, made a few friends, and didn’t get arrested for assault with a deadly paperback. I even went to find the young lady who started it all, handing her a couple of flash fictions I’ve printed up to give out as free samples. And yes, I made sure to choose a pair of samples that were age-appropriate for a thirteen-year-old.

Yeah, an epilogue. Go figure. So when the whole thing was said and done, I had broken down my table and transported everything back home. It was about an hour’s drive, and one of the first things I did was check my email when I walked in the door. Waiting for me was a message from my new thirteen-year-old friend, thanking me for sharing those stories with her. I’d forgotten my contact information is in the back of  every sample. With a smile, I tapped “Reply” and banged out a “You’re welcome” message. I hit “Send”, then froze.
“Oh, @#$%.”
So I’d had a good night. So I’d sold some books. So I’d even managed not to assault anyone with fiction.
I’d also just exchanged electronic communications with a thirteen-year-old girl.
I’m probably on a Federal watchlist now.


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