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Unreliable-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Dealing with Mr. Blue-Fiction by Michael Lemieux
iFriend-Fiction by Jeff Dosser
Till Human Voices Wake Us-Fiction by John Post
Tape-Fiction by Will Bernardara Jr.
Dead Drunk in Glasgow-Fiction by j brooke
The Spot-Fiction by Rick McQuiston
Wait Until the Ice Melts-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Tattooed Love Boys-Fiction by Greg Smith
The Losers-Fiction by John Short
Anger Serves a Greater Purpose-Fiction by Heather Santo
Odium Pentothal-Fiction by Steven M. Lerner
Finally Adopted-Flash Fiction by Tom Fillion
Boxing Day-Flash Fiction by K.J.Hannah Greenberg
Godmother-Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
First Communion-Poem by Tom Fillion
Almost Gone-Poem by Henry Bladon
Foa Da Price of One-Poem by Joe Balaz
a few haunting memories-Poem by J. J. Campbell
Pressure Lines-Poem by Meg Baird
Work it out-Poem by Meg Baird
lily pads open-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
a melodious voice from the reeds-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
a cobblestone trail-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
A Beautiful Madness on Mallory Square-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
A Beautiful Death on Mallory Square-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
A Luminous Metamorphosis on Mallory Square-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

tapeokeefe.jpg
Art by Sean O'Keefe © 2019

Tape

 

Will Bernardara Jr.

 

 

 

Q. What is “feral art”?

A. It’s outsider art, only more dangerous.

Q. Meaning what?

A. …

 

*

 

Extract: Part of a movie review by Gil Marina [The Psychotronic Burrow/website/ www.tronicburr.com/March 2015]

 

Roller Blade

New World VHS

Dir. Donald G. Jackson

There exist films that appear to have been produced in a world similar to ours but… dangerously skewed. They’re like broadcasts from a dimension of the brain damaged or cable-access fever dreams: analog jabberwockies. These products seem to want something from the viewer. They’re less like movies, more like snares. Visual traps.

          Roller Blade is nearly one of these. In this movie, set on the sidewalks of a post-nuked L.A., slutty nuns pray to a happy-face light bulb upon a crystal altar… ///

- review never posted

*

- [Detroit Free Press] May 2015 headline: Movie blogger Gil Marina found dead of suicide

- Some comments posted on social media re Marina suicide: HE BLEW HIS HEAD OFF WITH A SHOTGUN!!! /// theysaid his head wuz pulverized. unrecunizable. had 2 ID him wif fingerprints /// ALL bloggers should follow suit /// LOL

*

Q. Why do you seem afraid?

A. I’m not.

Q. You look spooked.

A. I don’t like where this is headed.

Q. Relax. Headed? It’s an interview, that’s all.

A. Then get on with it.

Q. OK. [pause] Who’s Lyman Alder?

*

Art gallery ART/IFICE: Ann Arbor, MI:

Janet Zeno’s show is scoffed at. (Behind her back, of course.) The homosexual critics hate it the most: the hairless esthete with the bowtie and martini; the metro gadfly/essayist who does nearly as much coke as Janet.

- Brat. She bought her way into this gallery with daddy’s money.

- She’s probably fucking him.

- Who? Her father?

- Whoever.

- She went to CCS.

- That explains the absence of talent.

- It’s not even shocking. Nothing is anymore. It’s kitsch.

- It’s insalubrious. This show should’ve come with Purell.

All the canvases with their indefinite auburn-reddish streaks and smears look virtually identical. The hook is the paint is menstrual blood. Janet’s. She named the show The Flow of Months. Punning, coked out, faux depth – Janet Zeno deserves contempt. 

A shifty man in all black – black jeans, crow-black hair, black boots and black coat – with a bloodless alabaster face of haunted determination (as though he hasn’t slept in weeks) jerks a few jerky, twitchy looks at the Zeno images and, hands – fists – thrust in his pockets, blurts out, exclaims really, tourettic: “Shit! This isn’t art; it’s fuck-all!”

Those subtly backstabbing mock-gasp, others giggle. The barely visible DJ doesn’t cease spinning, but his set is so ambient it’s somehow less than sound, like audio cotton.

Janet, flustered and coke-edged, elbows and shoulders all sharp geometries, hands off her champagne glass like a baton and marches petulantly toward the man in all black. He sees her coming and seems almost contrite, now, his expression protean.

“Hey!” Stern, Janet is. “If you don’t like my art –“

Is it the word art that snaps some safeguard in him?

It happens fast and slow, stroboscopic almost – the grim man yanks Janet’s head back savagely. She real-gasps. The man’s other hand comes up – a box-cutter. The retractable razorblade jags a deep wound in Janet’s long neck. And again and again, hacking now, as though he’s lancing the trachea in some gruesome spastic mimesis of desperate, wild surgery. A choke-blood erupts messily. It burbles.

Patrons scream. The bow-tie-wearing critic faints. 911 is dialed by numerous people at once. All but a few flee.

The madman jerks Janet’s head around by the hair, controlling the head, aiming the arterial gusher so that its rocketing blood soaks the nearest incandesced canvas: new blood on old blood.

Police officers pour in like blue lava.

*

Ann Arbor Police Station

Detective Browder

Interview with Phil Marina / 2201 hrs.

DB: You don’t look like such a bad guy. I read the report and expected a monster in that chair.

PM: I’ve seen things, detective. Hells.

DB: Hells? Plural, huh?

PM: Iterations. Fucking abominations.

DB: You see things.

PM: Inadvertent invocation, detective. Accidents. Apocalyptic accidents. And I always thought our species would knowingly destroy itself. [dry laugh] Not at all. The artists are the killers, detective.

DB: Miss Zeno, you mean?

PM: The destroyers – they’re of no consequence. Wars? War doesn’t even account for a significant reduction in population; did you know that, detective? It’s the creators. They’re the threat. The ones Wren called the little gods.

[pause]

DB: I heard about your brother Gil’s suicide. That must’ve affected you deeply.

PM: Gil. He looked into the abyss and the abyss grinned, detective. The abyss – it had teeth. [maniacal laughter]

DB: Phil. Why did you kill Janet Zeno? Did you know her?

PM: He showed me the world, unfiltered. It ruined my mind, detective. Wholly.

DB: Who showed you, Phil? Your brother?

[pause]

PM: Lyman Alder.

*

          Hideously deformed infants are God’s art. They’re His sculptures. The Twin Towers: performance art. A high-school prom-toilet abortion: objet trouvé. A serial killer’s mutilated-then-dumped prostitute: art installation. War: man’s greatest theater, with its extremes Shakespeare couldn’t even dream of. Such a torrential, elemental force, art/war is, so great that, like grit off a hurricane, smaller artworks of magnitude spiral out from it: novels, films, memoirs, paintings. War. Art. War.

But no. No. Phil Marina told you already: it isn’t the tanks and armed units that annihilate.

          It’s the artists.

*

What follows is a possibly apocryphal biographical sketch of Lyman Alder:

Lyman Alder’s house is a bench in Palmer Park

Lyman Alder’s mother died in a fire at Eloise, a psychiatric hospital where she was a resident

Lyman Alder wrote a “novel” called Trash Fish Automat, a roman ŕ clef penned in illegible scrawls on bar napkins, food wrappers, leaves, fruit rind, religious pamphlets, newspaper margins, and other detritus the streets of Detroit provided

Lyman Alder lost 98-percent of the novel; the wind “stole” it

Lyman Alder somehow got ahold of a 1993 camcorder around 2014

Lyman Alder made an incomplete written list of works that aren’t true feral art but show glimpses of feral artiness [randomly selected sampling from the list: Wishman’s A Night to Dismember, Wintergate’s Boardinghouse, Things (1989), Roller Blade, Dialing for Dingbats, Nathan Schiff’s Vermillion Eyes, Zelda Fitzgerald’s unpublished novel, YouTube’s Alan Tutorial… (numerous dark web videos cited/REDACTED)]

*

A list of true feral artworks:

The morning star’s Hades architecture

Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka’s home movies

Any suicide note

Birth defects

War

Disease

Chiaki Takashita’s diary [teenage years: 1989-1992]

Orlando, Florida’s Mystery Fun House [closed]

Lyman Alder’s untitled video

*

I know Lyman Alder better than anyone. Which is to say not that well at all really, but still. The thing is, you’ve got crackpots and then you got reasonable people. Between them you got interpretation. It’s like the old chicken-or-the-egg quandary, maybe. I mean, reasonable people think Chapman was a loon who shot a Beatle and fixated on that Salinger book. Then you got some crackpots, see, and they believe that that book made Chapman pull the trigger.

*

Q: Your brother Phil, where’s he?

A: We’re estranged.

Q: He torched a video store in Clawson. Two days after you wrote about the same store on your blog.

A: …

Q: Some hipster place. Thompson Video?

A: OK.

Q: OK? You write about Thompson Video for your blog and –

A: It’s not my blog. It’s a site. I’m a freelancer.

Q: - and less than 48 hours later the store’s burned down by your brother. We got him on surveillance lugging a fucking can of gas right up to the front door. In the parking lot your brother leaves behind a VHS tape, some kind of homemade movie –

A: I don’t want to know.

Q: - a movie, Gil. That’s a little, you know, odd. The two detectives who viewed it have been behaving so goddamn strange we had to refer them to –

A: Yeah yeah. Infinite Jest. The Ring. I know this story. Whatever.

Q: Whazzat?

A: Artworks that kill. This one makes you kill, that one makes you rape or suicide or arson. It’s like Remote Control. The Lieberman movie. Only that’s not it. It’s not the movie.

Q: Intimate Jest and what? Ring Libra?

A: It’s not the work, you fucking idiot. [pause] It’s Lyman Alder.

*

Ghost in the magnetic tape?

 

*

Blow-by-blow description of the content of the Lyman Alder video. Pulled from the site Reports From the Deep Web. [NOTE: The legitimacy of this description has been called into question.]

No credits or prefatory material. Static for a few seconds then footage cuts in abruptly. No fade-in or transition effect.

Crappy ‘90s video. AFV quality.

Camera pans across city park. Day. Sun-shocked. Handheld technique is amateurish, shaky. Offscreen, the videographer, presumably Lyman Alder, announces: “This here… is… is uh… a Lyman Alder production.” Shot lasts nearly seven minutes. This should be agonizingly boring, but as Lyman begins playing with the camcorder’s zoom feature (around the two-minute mark) something imperceptible but incontestable happens. Change in the lighting? Camera speed? Whatever it is, this uneventful footage grows unbearably tense.

Mesmerizing even.

Viewers at this point report feeling an overwhelming premonition of “shrieking horror.” Something unspeakable is close to occurring. What, though, no viewer can really say.

Camera, hideously, begins zooming in, sniperlike, on single women: joggers, professionals on lunch breaks, et al. Worse, families. With children.

There is a nauseating sense of leering, as though the viewer is complicit in what’s become a “gruesome selection process” by the videographer. It is as though what is happening is now in real time. A feed. A live stream.

Jarringly, the footage cuts to LOUD static, which causes the viewer to flinch.

Static cuts in to a brownish-black. Lens cap is on. We hear a woman’s muffled gagging and what sounds, horrifyingly, like a child’s broken sobbing. Viewers report, without exception, that this is the tape’s most disturbing moment. Which is difficult to believe (if you haven’t seen it, that is), considering what follows:

Lens cap’s torn from the camera. Sudden brightness blinds the frame. Cam swings wildly. We’re shown a city alley. See an abandoned shopping cart. On the asphalt is a small white and blue shoe. For a baby’s foot. It is spattered in wet blood. Fresh blood. A woman offscreen screams: “My baby!” The sound of this scream is clearly not acting.

The footage once again cuts out.

For nearly three minutes the screen is black. We hear a man breathing. It’s either lascivious or labored, depending.

Footage resumes. For the first time, the camera is stationary, not handheld. (This writer believes Lyman Alder set the camera on a dumpster lid or garbage can, as we are again in a city alley and the shot is medium.)

Alley’s dead end.

Lyman Alder, a fortysomething black man, heavyset, garbed in what look like cast-off rags, staggers into frame.

His hands, chest, chin and mouth are painted in wet blood. Blood not his. He appears exhausted. He stumbles, drags his feet.

Lyman has a brown bottle of beer in his right hand. He strikes the brick wall with the bottle, shattering its bottom into a jagged cavity.

He braces himself, planting a wetly red left palm on the wall. Without preamble or hint of any kind, he begins mechanically, almost drunkenly, stabbing himself in the throat with the busted bottle. His tongue protrudes grotesquely. His eyes bug out. His throat becomes a ragged, dripping wound. On stab #5 the bottle gets stuck and the bottle’s opening acts as a spigot, assisting the blood on its way out.

Lyman Alder collapses out of frame, where he certainly bleeds to death.

And now comes the tape’s most enigmatic and talked-about moment: someone turns the camera off.

*

Ann Arbor Police Station

Detective Browder

Interview with Phil Marina / 2207 hrs.

DB: I interviewed your brother a couple days before he pulled the Cobain.

PM: …

DB: He blamed this Lyman Alder video for your arson schtick. And the video you left –

PM: I didn’t leave any video.

DB: …

PM: I burnt the store. I slashed that dumb cunt’s throat. I tell you all this and you think I’d lie about leaving a fucking videotape at the scene. Gimme a break.

DB: I’m a cop, Phil. In copworld, in life, things add up, and this, this –

PM: In life things add up? What life are you living, detective?

DB: This Lyman Alder was a homeless Detroiter who killed himself in September 2014. Some drunk crack addict. Mental case. He had two arrests for indecent exposure. No Charlie Manson, this guy, but you’re tellin’ me –

PM: Where’s the tape, detective?

DB: Evidence locker. Why?

[pause]

PM: He’s in the tape. You don’t have to watch it to be affected by it. It’s radioactive. He or it will haunt this entire fucking goddamn jail. Infect it.

DB: [sighs] I’m just going to turn you over to the psych, OK Phil?

PM: I don’t care.

DB: Neither do I. I get my paycheck either way.

*

The Ann Arbor station where Phil Marina is being held is a small, quiet place. It’s not a jail proper, just two holding cells, primarily for drunk and disorderly U of M students. The holding cell Phil’s in is white and the harsh overheads remain on 24/7.

Phil stares at the white wall. It’s not unlike a drive-in screen. On the wall, over and over like a loop, plays clips and bits from the Alder tape. Over and over. And Phil thinks about putting an end to himself just to stop the images.

*

It’s 3:22 AM and the police station’s quieter than a morgue. The one sound, the only sound apart from the faint buzz of the lights, is coming from the black VHS tape shut up in the green evidence locker.

No one can hear it though.

Emanating from the plastic tape, muted by its plastic case, is the video’s audio – sans VCR or speakers of any kind. The tape is whispering its horrible audio track, its wind noise and woman screaming and baby crying and awful choking suicide.

The VHS tape isn’t alive. No. There’s something dead on the tape’s thin ribbon. Spectral information has been stored on the magnetic coating.

 

 

###






Will Bernardara Jr. is the author of the novel America (voidfront press). His stories have appeared in The Society of Misfit Stories, Grotesque Quarterly, and Underbelly Magazine. He is a co-founder of the criminal artist collective The Tender Wolves Society. 



Sean O’Keefe is an artist and writer living in Roselle Park, NJ. Sean attended Syracuse University where he earned his BFA in Illustration. After graduation, Sean moved to New York City where he spent time working in restaurants and galleries while pursuing various artistic opportunities. After the birth of his children, Sean and family move to Roselle Park in 2015. He actively participates in exhibitions and art fairs around  New Jersey, and is continuing to develop his voice as a writer. His work can be found online at www.justseanart.com and @justseanart on Instagram.




In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications © 2019