Zane Gray

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

In 1977, I was in sixth grade; my Mom sat me down and told me the story of my great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother (that’s six greats) Betty Zane.

During the colonial war, the fortress she was in with her father was about to run out of ammunition, her father and everyone else was either injured or engaged in battle, so Zane ran out of the fort a few miles to retrieve ammo that was hidden under the floorboards of a home of one of the soldiers.

Along the way Zane was shot with arrows from the Indians, they were battling, but still ran and brought back the ammo, and they won that battle.

The book was written by my great-uncle, on my mom’s side, Zane Grey. The copy of the book that my mom was showing me was signed by Grey, and had an old news clipping, with a picture of him, talking about his former career as a dentist. It was interesting to me.

I took the book to school as a show and tell project; the teacher was in awe, she started rambling about all his great western novels, asking me if I had read Riders of The Purple Sage or several others. I answered, “Not yet.” I hadn’t read any of his books. When I showed her the autograph, her eyes bugged out and she said I should take the book home, as it was probably worth hundreds of dollars.

I recently found out that Zane Grey gave a fictionalized version of Betty Zane’s life; for years fables and rumors swirled around what happened at the fortress, one account was Betty Zane walked out of the fortress, and the Indians saw that it was a woman and let her go by, but the version we always heard was that she was shot with arrows and still went on. I guess Zane took bits and pieces of these wives’ tales and made his own story. Like anything else, unless you were there, who knows what happened?

It wasn’t until I got older that it sunk in how difficult it is to write something worth reading and even harder to make a living at it. I guess you have to fake it sometimes.

– Last One To Die, 2011

#michaelessington #lastonetodie

 

 

Misconceptions of Hell

Misconceptions of Hell

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Thanksgiving

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

In the beginning of November of 1988, I was twenty-two, I had been thrown out of my place for the umpteenth time and I drove over to my dad’s place to crash, only to have him tell me that wife number two had left Halloween night and hadn’t returned.

Over the next few days, I cleaned out all my stuff from Mom’s and lugged it over to Dad’s. The next few weeks were spent getting used to two half-sisters I didn’t know and a handful of animals that loved to crap right outside my bedroom door, making the morning trips to the bathroom a frickin’ nightmare on my socks.

Thanksgiving morning came around and my Dad said, “Let’s make turkey dinner, just you and me, no women this year.” Sounded great, but neither of us had ever undertaken such a task. Dad went grocery shopping and came home with all the fixings. Now, the cooking. We gutted the turkey and put it on a metal cooking pan, and the damn thing flopped open, spilling the stuffing, we look at each other and let out a “What the?” Then I remember seeing strings on turkeys at the relatives. So, I tell my dad, we need some string to wrap up this loose bird. He runs to the tool shed and brought out some twine, and we tied this ten-pound sucker up and put him in the oven.

Twenty minutes later we opened the oven, and the twine had burnt off. So, we pull the bad-boy out and try to figure out our next move.

My Dad took off for the tool shed again and came back with a hammer and nails, I’m stumped. He told me to hold the turkey, and he started hammering the wings into the body and we spun the bird around a few times, and he kept hammering from every angle. By the time he’s done the bird is sealed tight. We popped the turkey back in and finish cooking.

For the rest of his years, dad would swear it was a great tasting turkey. In his later years, he would buy a Louisiana deep fryer and make restaurant quality turkeys.

Whenever I think of my dad, I think of this Spider-Man comic book I read years ago. In the book Spider-Man goes off saving the universe with Doctor Strange, it happens to be Spider-Man’s birthday and he’s annoyed no one remembers, and that he has to work. They save the world and Doctor Strange said he didn’t forget his birthday and brings back his Uncle Ben from the dead for fifteen minutes. So, Spider-Man is scrambling to figure what he wants to say or do in those fifteen minutes. Makes me think, around the holidays, did I say everything I wanted to say, and what would I do with my fifteen minutes?

Of all my Thanksgivings, that one with my dad was the most memorable.

– Last One To Die, 2011

#michaelessington #lastonetodie

 

 

Misconceptions of Hell

Misconceptions of Hell

Bukowski

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Last week I received an email from a young lady living in Europe. She asked if I was a writer. For some reason, I said, “No, I’m more of a reader.” She asked if I “Liked Bukowski.” I said, “Sure.” Then she said I, “Must have good taste then.” She asked if she could send me some of her writing so that I could give my opinion since I liked Bukowski.

I really didn’t want to. If I say I like it, I might be stuck in this circle of correspondence forever. If I don’t like it, I’m the asshole who ruined her career.

Years ago, actually only three, I did a chapbook with David Gurz, called Under A Broken Street Lamp. It was fun. Nothing groundbreaking. We won an award or two. Then I had a bunch of “edgy” authors sending me stories that they were sure I’d love and would compel me to stop everything and do a chapbook with them. One particular author was very cool. We corresponded for a month or two. Finally, I relented and said, “Send me a story.” The story was decent. He wrote well. Then I hit the middle of his story and he segued into this whole other sub-story about being sexually attracted to his mom, and you know what? Not my cup of tea. For me, mom was a mom, not somebody I was cruising. So, I said the story wasn’t right for what I was working on.

The young lady from Europe sent me a poem. I anticipated a story, but she sent a poem. It was a page of nothing but clichés. “The days of our lives are like grains of sand.” “The days fly away like leaves from an old tree.”

I read the page and muttered, “Fuck.” I am yet to respond. I don’t like being needlessly mean to people, but this was a bit much. I have no idea why she asked me about Bukowski. Her poem was more like a Hallmark card than it was Bukowski.

I need to hire someone to answer this stuff for me. Something like:
“Mr. Essington is busy searching Los Angeles for the ultimate plate of Nachos. He will be unable to answer your email for a minimum of eighteen months.

Thank you for emailing.

Assistant.”

#michaelessington #broken

 

 

Misconceptions of Hell

Misconceptions of Hell