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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2000-08-01
  • Publisher: Penguin Group USA
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The story of 'Zombie', a strange and remarkable,young man from Truckstown Pensylvania. His,earliest chidlhood memory of visiting the 'sacred,Voodoo Chamber' in the nearby Scranton Art Museum,leaves him in thrall and begins in him a lifelong,process of zombification. Fear and worship become,his guiding forces as he stumbles through life on,a voyage that will take him to New York, then,Haiti and back again, and into a ies of,relationships in search of his true 'master.'


Chapter One

How Zombie passed his earliest years in Truckstown, Pa.

It all started at the Everhart Museum. The way to the museum was blocked by a huge ugly fountain. What's the big difference between a sculpture and a fountain? The art museum was near a coal museum, where you descended into a cavern that was brightly lit. It was a wormhole. A fake coal mine. There was another mine a few miles away where they'd turn out the lights and you'd be lowered in a bucket to worship the cool blackness. I mean tour it, not worship it.

Anyway. There I was with my folks. They were nearby, in front or lagging behind. They were in their own world, I always thought. Now I realize it was I who was in my own world. The museum rose before us in a park called Nay Aug Park that never seemed quite right. The museum seemed quite right. It was made of tan stones.

The inside, though, is where the point is. The best part of the art museum was that it didn't have much art. Instead it had artifacts. I was often scared in there. I was scared by the gigantic black-marble-and-onyx stairs. I was scared because there was no air. I was scared because of the feeling of ancient spells being released inadvertently. I knew none of the paintings on the walls had anything scary in them. So I tried the more adventurous and three-dimensional shows.

My favorite show was the glowing rocks, which you entered through heavy black drapes that hung down over the doorway. Heavy, weighted, leaden, black velvet drapes. You pushed your way in. Inside what seemed the smallest room in the world, a closet of a room, a horizontal case ran alongside the wall, low enough to view. Then there would be a trick with the lights. Either the electric lights of the chamber would be flicked off, or there never was any electric light in the chamber and the lights that would go snap would be those in the case, leaving only a phosphorescent glow of different rocks with veins made of blue chips of stars or of the green hair of moss. That's how magical it was, I swear. Then you'd leave with the rest of the onlookers. Not feeling alienated from anybody at all. The rocks cured me. They healed me. I really felt I needed to be healed.

I tried to carry that sensation into the rest of my life. I did it by growing moon rocks in my bedroom. You brought them to life by dropping a liquid chemical from an eyedropper held up in the air. The rocks slowly began to grow and ooze with pink and orange colors. So the transformation brought them into the same area in my mind as the glowing rocks at the museum. But those in the museum were geological and were protected.

The mummy produced in me a feeling similar to that produced by the glowing rocks. Of course none of these things mean anything to you. Glowing rocks? A mummy? Inside a room on the second floor was a mummy. The mummy was lying in a coffin or boat or shadow shaped like the silhouette about it, the way cartoon monsters are given dark or bright auras that hug them. It was wrapped in bandages. I was amazed that Scranton, Pennsylvania, was important enough to be entrusted with one of the ancient Egyptian dead. That made me feel a little better about myself, since Truckstown was located near Scranton.

But nothing compared to the sacred voodoo chamber. There the movies played in my head no matter what time of day or night. It was as if I were born there. Except when particles of dust were revealed dancing away by overhead schoolroomish lights and windows. I longed to be inside the sacred voodoo chamber. It barely looked sacred to anyone else, probably. Most of it was old, gray, grainy photographs taken by anthropologists and ethnopharmacologists. One showed a dancer pierced by needles. A colored one was a photograph of a woman in red. But late in the afternoon the oozing green candles they allowed to burn for dramatic effect picked up a glow from the crossed, burnished bronze weaponry. A round straw fan was tucked into a wall as well. I can't explain it. No one was there. The candles started talking to me. They talked without words, as in a dream. One said, Look up to heaven! I felt very special. To actually get a little bit of help and guidance from beyond.

That's when I knelt on the cold stone floor, which was swirling with veins of white and black coloring. My little legs were trembling. My knees hurt from the unusual pressure on them. I folded my hands together in a gesture of prayer and supplication. I was begging and saying thank you. My heart felt very warm for the first time in years. I was heating up my own heart. Or the forces were heating up my own heart for me. I inhaled rapturously.

Suddenly a stupid, fumbling hand was on my shoulder. The hand of an old fainthearted guard. I imagined he would be punished for this insurrection by the forces in the room. If not now, later. He was followed by my folks. They knew I wasn't hurt. They knew I was into one of my "acts," as they mistakenly labeled them. But they were mortified that this time the incident was taking place in public, not just within the entrails of our house. It showed them up badly. It said that something was wrong with them, not just with me. Which they knew too well, though it was never discussed in any way.

They rushed me out of there. Stashed me in the back of a car. Their car. Their lime green mobile, a stuck-together assemblage of metal and fur. We went home without a word. Which is the way the procedure usually went. What could they say to me that they wouldn't really be saying to themselves? It was a grisly way for a freak like myself to live. Especially now that I had been made a zombie for the first time in my life that I was conscious and fully aware of. I'm sure there were earlier slips and slides.

The zombification often started with just such a falling to the knees.

Copyright 2000 Brad Gooch. All rights reserved.

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