Tuesday, March 20, 2018

In Cold Blood is that! It's also a non-fiction novel

That always intrigued me, 'a non-fiction novel' How can a novel be non fiction. It can, read the book and you will see.

It's not written in a dry way, it's a novel with the pace of a brilliant crime novel. And why not do it that way? Capote trail blazed with this book and good for him, I say!
A book first by Truman Capote, this horrific case was soon made into a film; an exceptional film. The four members of the Clutter family were blown away one November night in 1959 by two drifters. There was supposed to be a fortune they were going to come away with. Dick Hickock was sure of it. He told his friend, Perry Smith about it and the two wound their way to Holcomb, Kansas.

They were told there was a safe there, and they couldn't miss. It was a sure thing. I'm re-reading the book now. It's unsettling to say the least. The depiction of the killers is so sharply done, I felt I was there. The Clutter family are entirely opposite to their killers. As different as evil is from good. Yet, that being the case, I can see, and I think you will too, Capote has given us such a detailed account of the killers' lives and backgrounds, we can understand how messed up they were. Though Hickcock came from a nice family, Smith's background was so dysfunctional, it scarred him. Two of his siblings committed suicide and the other didn't ever want to see him. The suicides were before the Clutter murders by the way.

A homicide detective once told me 'no motive is a motive' . I agree. Supposedly the Clutters were going to be murdered from the start, so as to have no witnesses. I think Perry Smith who actually did the killings hated this family, particularly the father for inhabiting a world he could never know.

Capote could not have titled the book better, it's 'in cold blood.' In fact, it doesn't get colder or more unfeeling than this. There isn't even the passion of hatred--or is there?

I happen to think there is a lot under the surface. These two killers are from society's underbelly. They see the home and the land it's on. They know they don't come from this world the Clutters inhabit.

There's a lot to resent then. I happen to think it's almost a relief when the first shot is fired.

He's very polite. He was quoted as saying he thought Mr. Clutter was a real gentleman up until cutting his throat. How nice. That warms the cockles of my heart, how about you?

Their backgrounds are sad. I felt a little sorry for them. But then again Robert Blake's acting as Perry Smith is so exceptional, that possibly that had something to do with it. Scott Wilson as Dick Hickock was also excellent, I mean they became the characters.

The film was shot in Holcomb, Kansas and some of the settings are so real, they cause discomfort. The Clutter residence where the murders took place is used. That was painful, but I suppose it added to the hard-hitting realism of the film.

There is a fictitious reporter who is actually a Capote-like character. The investigation is gripping, we want these guys caught. They are and it's a relief, so are their executions at the end. I had the feeling that each knew, possibly for as long as they lived, they were fated for this.

True horror like the mass extinction of a nice, loving family is the worst horror I can think of. I never forgot the film. You won't either, if you haven't seen it, see it. Watch a well-made, respectful re-enactment of one of the worst mass murders ever. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to the
Clutter family.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Forever Family

Some families are better than others!

"We are your family, they said. "It's better than no family."

The girl wasn't so sure. She didn't recall her origins but that was because she had been a foundling. A beautiful little child of two left on the doorstep of a church. The thing was, no one from the church, not a priest or nun or even the housekeeper from the rectory found her. The others found her. The ones that were caring for her now.

"We love you, we always have."

"From the moment we first saw you, we agreed amongst ourselves never to harm you."

None of them had ever had children. Some of the females longed for babies to care for, but they were not fertile. Actually, it was more complicated than that.

Vampires cannot procreate. And besides, their master said, "babies’ blood is so sweet, who wants to give it up."

"Yuck! Disgusting the newly created female replied. "It doesn't interest me!"

The master smiled at her. He was handsome, she had to admit. That was how she came to be seduced and turned.

“It won’t hurt a bit. Just relax and enjoy the sensuality of it all.”

She let herself go in more ways than one. It was nice. Well, more than nice. It was a life-changing event. She would have to subsist on blood now. That was the yucky part.

Still, there were advantages, it was nice to have aunts and uncles and cousins, all friends. This coven of vampires ranged in age from young children to the elderly. Mainly, the master had received into the fold the lost and unwanted from human society. There were females that had fled violent husbands as well as elderly that had been cared for by their violent children who hated them.

The master had been around for centuries and he still found the ways of humans puzzling. He, for example, as well as most vampires, never harmed animals or humans unless they were in desperate need of a feed.

The forest was full of wildlife they could sup from and really, they reasoned what was the difference between that and hunting?

The most surprising thing about the vampires, the girl found, was they were genuine. They didn’t lie about their feelings. You always knew where you were with a vampire. Vampires don’t talk crap. They don’t string you along or promise the moon like some people and most politicians do. And really, when you think about it, they’re both blood suckers.

The main trade off for immortality was no sunshine, but so what? With the hole in the ozone layer, who cares?

This coven the girl found was socially aware too. They were out most nights helping the homeless.

“Are you cold? Would you like a nice warm place for the night…we have soup…”

They already had an underground complex in the forest. It would become home to many of the lost, the lonely and disadvantaged. And most of all, it was free. No charge to stay. Well just perhaps a bit of what they called life sap. That liquid produced by the human body which sustains humans and vampires, that was always needed.

So remember! Family or domestic problems? Change your life forever! Get real, adjust your expectations. Live forever and stop worrying. Check out a coven near you!

copyright Carole Gill 2018

Monday, March 5, 2018

From My Head

Slowly, I am returning to what I was before my husband died. It's been a very long time for me, and no, the loss of a spouse is not the same as the loss of parents. The only loss far worse is the loss of a child.

I'm going to write weekly posts about things I feel, I am not going to drag anyone down into the abyss I've just crawled out of, believe me.

I think emotion that is strong inspires a writer to write, hence the purpose of these weekly posts.

I watched a film today about Truman Capote and am also reading (again) his masterpiece, In Cold Blood. That inspired me to write a short fiction piece.

Someone said writers are selfish, the same person also said a journalist will kill for a good story.

There was a great story the writer found. Two men were arrested and executed for the brutal, apparently motiveless murders of an entire family. The writer, with a solid reputation, researched the crime and the murderers.

Each of them, killers and author, wanted something out of it all. The writer wanted a book, the killers wanted their lives. They were each predatory in different ways. But we all are, really at least that's what I think.

After a fair amount of angst-filled introspection and a flurry of help from the writer, along with stays of execution, which had to be very hard on everyone, although more than convenient if you have a date with death, the killers were executed, the writer's work was acclaimed and rightly so.

As this is a fictional piece based on the whole matter, I'd like to think what might have happened, here goes:

The writer found himself haunted. He no longer felt alone even when he was alone. There was now a presence. It was like having a ghostlike appendage. Part of him knew something had attached itself to him. There was no doubt about it. It was there. It made him reflective, he was anyway, but now he was even more thoughtful.

There was this need to write. He wanted to at least write some other piece, something to show he still had it. That quality that he had used to such good advantage. The problem was, he was all alone in the world, despite friendships which were pretty superficial. His good friends saw he had lost something of his soul. They tried to help but couldn't.

"I can't write anymore."

He'd weep over unfinished manuscripts, over empty bottles of alcohol. He'd lie in the dark thinking and watch the ever increasing light seep in through the blinds. Another sleepless night.

When the murdered family began to appear, he begged them for their forgiveness. But they were good people and forgave, he was right about them initially. They were salt of the earth and all that.
They even thanked him for letting the world know about their sad demise. That really made him cry.

At the end of his life, he was happier than he had been. The appendage had taken over completely and he found himself one of the ghosts. He drifted into their embrace on the last night of his life.
"It's over," he said.

And it was, and that was the way he wanted it.

Being haunted is horrible, so many of us are. Being a haunted writer is even worse because when ghosts are given voices, they become reality. And that's pretty damned scary.

copyright Carole Gill 2018