The reading Saturday night was one of the best yet. I don’t know if I felt that way because I was so relaxed going in to it, or if it was the vibe of the haunted bookstore, but Karen turned down the lights, so the venue was nice and intimate. I felt completely at home.
RuthAnn Spike started us off with her tale of corresponding with a murderer, from Morbid Curiosity #9. The piece talks to the universality of curiosity and the way it drives some of us until we cross a line that frightens us back to the daylight. I was glad she volunteered to go first and state the theme of the evening.
Claudius Reich read “Back Roads,” the story about riding with the craziest mofo in Oklahoma. It contains one of the lines I’m proudest of publishing in the magazine: “Affronted, stung in the heart of my budding bohemian cred — no one but me and my friends had even heard of the bands we liked! I was my school’s acid dealer! I’d hung out with actual junkies! on the Lower East Side! — I politely demurred.” Wow. I love that story.
Allegra Lundyworf remembered Grandma Butterfly again and shared the story of the first Grandmarama. I don’t know how many times I’ve read that story — and I think I’ve heard her read it aloud three times — but I still had to blink back tears. I told myself sternly, “You are not going to cry and wreck your makeup! You’ve got three more readers to introduce!”
Lilah Wild recalled “Working in Luck,” her days advising customers in a magical shop. Every time I hear that story, it calls to mind Curios and Candles. How I miss that place! Lilah’s story brings the atmosphere vividly to life again.
Despite having to work late on a Saturday and traffic on the bridge, Seth Lindberg read “The Brother Who is Actually Okay.” I’ve asked Seth to read at three of the four local readings this year, but there’s a reason I chose that story to be first in the last issue of the magazine. Like RuthAnn’s, it touches on the heart of what it is to be human.
Jill Tracy closed the evening with “The Keeper of the Shop,” a sweet sad ghost story that remembers another San Francisco shop lost in time. I don’t even remember the name of the place, but I’ve always regretted that I didn’t buy the DIY crucifixion set while I had the chance. Unsurprisingly, Jill has such amazing stage presence that even the pause at the end, when she’d finished reading, was infused with emotion.
I had a wonderful time. The audience lingered after we’d finished, chatting comfortably amidst the halloween decorations and icons on the wall and all the old books.
I knew that night that the owner’s father was on his deathbed. She let me know yesterday that he died Saturday night, after the reading finished. I am amazed and grateful that she let us bring our Halloween show into her shop while she was dealing with so much herself.
Somehow, it makes it all that much dearer to me. I never thought I’d say this, but I am really going to miss hosting the Morbid Curiosity show. I loved hearing the contributors perform. That may be the hardest thing for me to give up now that Morbid Curiosity is dead.