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Thomas Wictor

The ruin of souls

The ruin of souls

The person I’m going to make famous has compelled me to disclose far more about myself than I wanted. But I’ve spoken to Tim and Eric, and I have their blessings. Some things will be neither confirmed nor denied. But now I’m going to reveal things solely for the purpose of helping you understand the sort of person this is. He and his lovely wife.

Though I was never close to either of my parents, Mom occasionally tried to connect with me. When I told her in 2012 that Saint Michael the Archangel was one of my heroes, the next day she gave me a laminated card with The Raccolta 447, “Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel.” Pope Leo XIII wrote it as an invocation of exorcism in 1888.

Saint Michael the Archangel,
Defend us in battle;
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
And do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
By the power of God,
Thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits
Who wander throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

It’s so odd and tragic; I’m not religious, yet I think Saint Michael may exist, and I’m not afraid of anything. Mom was religious, but she died in terror. As did Dad. For the way I was mercilessly assaulted, and in the names of my poor parents, I’m going to thrust into hell two particular evil spirits who wander throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

What follows are things I confessed to the evil spirits. This was information they used to gaslight me for money. I’m telling you this so that you understand the magnitude of the offense. Don’t feel sorry for me; I’m fine. I do this to try and prevent these two from taking advantage of others. I apologize to my parents, but it’s necessary to expose some things that I’d wanted to keep private.

I told the evil spirits that I stopped shaving when Dad got sick. By the time he died, I had a full beard. I then decided to keep the beard until Mom came home from the hospital.

“You’ll know Mom is home when I send you a photo of me clean shaven,” I wrote the evil spirits on Basecamp.

The responses were full of praise for my filial dedication.

I’ve decided that I’ll keep my beard until the two evil spirits are utterly stripped of all legitimacy and become pariahs in the literary world. They can wander the desert together, wondering how it all happened. Along those lines, I forwarded an e-mail to someone today. One of the evil spirits said that the largest radio show in the country had requested my publicity package. Easiest thing in the world to check. If it isn’t true, that one e-mail is enough. And I have many, many more.

I shared with the evil spirits the fact that I collected stamps for Mom while she was in the hospital. Stamp collecting was her hobby. After she died I told the evil spirits that I’d continue collecting stamps for her. They said that was beautiful. Normal human beings would understand that my inability to stop collecting Mom’s stamps is anything but beautiful. I’m like Hachikō. Was his perpetual sorrow beautiful?


I also told the evil spirits about how when Dad lost his mind, he became afraid of his weekly pill box. All that medicine drove home the point that he was dying. He could no longer bear to fill the box. First I bought a second one and filled it, and then Tim filled Dad’s original box. Dad took eighteen medications a day, so we had to put 126 pills into twenty-eight little compartments. It took almost two hours to fill each box.

After we filled the boxes, Dad lost control at just the sight of his weekly dosages, so in desperation I bought two small boxes, but we never got to use them. In fact, we never emptied the two weekly boxes, because by that time we’d had to decide which pills to cut off so that Dad would die more quickly. Since he was going to die anyway, it was explained to us that certain medications would simply prolong his suffering.

I still have the two unopened small pill boxes.


After Dad died we discovered the extent of his panicked denial. He’d bought several pairs of underwear with a fifty-two-inch waist. His plan was to simply accommodate his growing abdominal tumor with bigger and bigger clothes.


The last coherent thing Dad said to me was, “It’s hell when your brain doesn’t work.” This was the day I had to call the hospice to come get him earlier than we’d planned, since he was now unmanageable. The fact that he was aware of his agony was almost too much to bear.

“Well, think of it as a mental vacation,” I said. He actually laughed, so there’s that.

Since Mom’s death on October 13, 2013, I’ve begun having insomnia again, and when I can sleep, it’s often nightmares. I confided this to the evil spirits. The person I’m going to make famous read my book Hallucinabulia: the Dream Diary of an Unintended Solitarian. It really is a manual for how to destroy me, if someone has both the inclination and the access. I honestly never realized that the soothing voice and heartfelt compliments were emanating from a minor demon.

Since the person I’m going to make famous read my dream diary, he knows that when the insomnia is bad, I sleep on the sofa. Last night I fell asleep there while watching Houdini, starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. I conked out before the movie was over. The DVD returned to the main menu, and a theme played over and over and over. I heard the music in my dream. Here’s what it was like.

My dream was totally chaotic. As the music played, I walked on a dirt road with two hillbillies in their thirties who were trying to convince me to go into the woods with them. They both had heavy mustaches. In time with the tuba in the Houdini theme song, one hillbilly vomited and the other broke wind. Since the music kept repeating, each man puked or farted continuously. I was both a small child and my current age. The men terrified me.

Then the dream completely changed. My former friend “Roger,” one of my Guides in Hell—as I call him in Ghosts and Ballyhoo—had parked his futuristic purple sports car in the lot of an apartment complex and left the CD player on at full blast. It played the Houdini theme song overlaid with this voice.

Instead of talking about nuts and gratitude, the voice raved its love of women’s asses. I opened the car door and tried to find the CD player; the dashboard was nothing but smooth rectangular panels, with no knobs or buttons. A man in a red-and-black checked hunting jacket came over. He too had a bushy mustache.

“You don’t turn that off, I’m gonna go get my rifle and turn it off for you,” he said as he scratched his head and then stretched.

He looks like Nuisance, I thought. Nuisance was our cat from forty years ago.


I looked around and saw Nuisance in the bushes. He came out and crouched at my feet, wagging his tail. Tim appeared and put a collar and leash on him.

“Let’s take him for a walk,” he said.

It was utterly perverse. Who took cats for walks on a leash? Then I noticed that Nusiance’s muzzle was now long and square, like a capybara’s.

“He’s sure different from Syd the Second,” I told Tim.

The hillbillies returned, vomiting and breaking wind in time with the Houdini music. Tim and Nuisance disappeared; I was now alone with these two man-pigs. They rushed right up into my face. I jerked awake, but since the music still played, I didn’t know where I was. It took several seconds to orient myself.

I’d stopped having exhausting dreams like that. They came back after Dad died, and they’ve been getting worse. The two evil spirits wafted into my head and have undone much of the progress I made from 2011 to January 16, 2013, the day my parents were diagnosed with cancer.

As Dad said, it’s hell when your brain doesn’t work. I need to make mine work again, so I’ve been doing exercises. One is creating codes. A book cipher is a code in which you use the words of a published volume to pass along messages. I did one such code today.

For those of you who’ve read Ghosts and Ballyhoo, you know who my bass idol is. Find that which was killed. The way the code works, each word in the story is numbered; assign the number “1″ to the first word of the piece, not the title. Ignore the title. To make sure we’ve got the same key, the word “diabolically” is the sixty-sixth word. Now, take the first letter of the following words.


If you think you’ve worked out my message, drop me a line, and I’ll tell you if you’re right.