A Story of Names
Less Than Pulp, Issue 59
This past Tuesday, Jean took our son to the same trampoline park where I took him and his sister the previous week. While standing on the sidelines to watch him jump around like the little madman he is, she overheard a young woman call out to another little boy. The uniqueness of the child’s name made Jean’s ears perk up, and she asked the woman’s name. The answer confirmed what Jean suspected. The other boy was the son of a late friend of ours, a man who passed away in August of 2021. Because he lived in Bucks County Pennsylvania and we live in Austin Texas, our sons never got to play together despite their closeness in age.
But they played on Tuesday. They played like longtime friends, in the way kids do so easily but adults seem to forget how to do. Moments like this make my skepticism waver. They make me think that there are forces at work in the universe that are much larger than us, forces we will never fully understand. Our own trauma or too much time scrolling the socials might lead us to believe that only chaos—or outright malignance—is at play.
Indeed, those dark forces are very real. They aren’t the only ones, though. Apparent coincidences like what happened this past Tuesday remind me of the beautiful, the strange, and the bittersweet.
And to think, it all started with Jean hearing a little boy’s name.
We are back in Austin as of 1am Sunday morning. While on the way to the Newark airport, we got news that our flight was delayed. We decided to make the most of it and stopped at the Dave and Buster’s at the Woodbridge Mall. I love a good arcade experience, but D&B is not for me. Less an arcade and more like a casino with arcade games, it bombarded us with a cacophony of sound as soon as we walked in. Maybe it was just this location, but the music cranked to maximum decibels, the sounds from the games, and heavy chatter from all the guests was almost disorienting. The kids had fun, though, and thankfully, D&B makes a decent margarita.
After we ran out of tokens, we hit the mall itself. I expected one of those dead malls, but with the exception of its Lord & Taylor and Sears, the Woodbridge Mall is fully functional. It was actually strange to see, like all these people walking around and shopping weren’t aware that the apocalypse had already happened. There’s a story in there somewhere.
The trip to Bucks County was nice. It was good to hang out with Jean’s side of the family while we crashed at their place for two and a half weeks. They are always gracious hosts, and I couldn’t have asked for a better family to marry into. I saw a couple of friends, my brother, and mom. I missed a few of you, but hopefully, we can make up for it next time. It seems like this will be an annual tradition.
I didn’t get a ton of writing done while I was up there, but I did a little. I even figured out how Barn Door to Hell will end and started brainstorming the next project. I’ve got about 15,000 words left to write on Barn, and I’m hoping to finish it up by month’s end. It will probably be my last pedal-to-the-metal horror book for a while. I’ve been wanting to work on something that's more of a slow burn.
Anyway, it’s a short one this week because travel has got me all beat up.
Current reads: The Haunted House by Hilaire Belloc, The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen, Echo of a Curse by R.R. Ryan, and The Purple Cloud by M.P. Shiel.
Current watch: Something in the Dirt (directed by Justin Benson & Aaron Moorehead).
Current listen: Blackbraid II by Blackbraid.
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