When I first moved to San Francisco, I lived in between the Castro neighborhood and Haight-Ashbury. The house, an old Victorian that survived the 1906 earthquake, became a focal point for a large group of friends.
Quite often we’d go wandering on weekend nights. Sometimes we’d hike over to Corona Heights, a former quarry turned into a park that had a spectacular view of the city. Other times we’d go to Buena Vista Park, where the rain gutters are lined with broken tombstones. When we were up for a longer hike, we’d walk over to Golden Gate Park.
In the late 1980s, the Haight was no safer than it is now. Men would stroll the street, chanting, “Doses, doses” or “Kind bud” or “What do you need?” When the Dead were in town, kids slept in doorways or on the neighbors’ porches or under any friendly bush in the park. People were constantly going off their meds or arguing with trees or simply ranting in the middle of the street.
So roaming around in a pack of eight or ten fine young punks was very liberating for a sheltered farmgirl trying to settle into the big city. Mostly we went to Golden Gate Park to drink beer and play on the swings in the Children’s Playground, but sometimes we’d climb above the manmade waterfall on Strawberry Hill to look at the city lights and commune with the quiet darkness.
“The Shattered Rose” was inspired by those nocturnal ramblings. I adored the way the fog moved in the streetlights as if it was alive. I loved the salty flavor of the fog on my lips and the way it tingled on my face. I marveled at the way sounds could be so muted, edges so softened, as the ocean breathed over the land.
I really did see a rose thrown down on the sidewalk one night. It had been dashed to the ground so hard that its petals flew off like broken crockery. I knew the image would appear in a story someday.
In addition to wandering San Francisco at night, the story was inspired by Dracula. When I read the novel the first time, I was deeply impressed by the baptism of blood, when Dracula opens a vein in his chest and forces Mina to drink his blood. For me, vampire stories—however sexy—are all about the blood.
If you’re curious, you can hear me read a bit of the story on YouTube: .
“The Shattered Rose” appeared originally in The Paramental Appreciation Society chapbook, alongside a hardboiled magical detective story by Seth Lindberg, a gritty Tenderloin fairy tale by Lilah Wild, and a series of amazing phantasmagoric vignettes by Claudius Reich.
The story is reprinted now in Alondra’s Experiments, a chapbook collecting three of my Alondra stories, for the kindle. You can get your own copy here.