Speaking With The Dead

vincent-price-1950_3x4So I was talking to Vincent Price today, and I had a revelation.

He’s dead.

Yep. He’s dead, but I was talking to him. He was speaking to me across the years, and I realized that is exactly what I do as a writer. It’s what any actor does on a film or musician does in the recording studio.

I was listening to Thriller by Michael Jackson. Say what you like about the man, his music was amazing. Or perhaps I just say that because I’m a child of the 80’s. Either way, near the end of the song is a poem read by Vincent Price. Everybody knows the part, and I’ve always loved the unique creepiness of his voice.

My mother was always a fan of his. I doubt if she saw many of his horror movies, but she liked his voice nonetheless. And it was from her that I learned to appreciate Vincent Price, in the same way that I’ve grown to appreciate and enjoy Johnny Cash from my father’s own interest.

So there I was, listening to him read this poem, and I could see him in the recording studio. He was leaning against a tall chair, headphones on, paper on a stand in front of him, mouth at the microphone. As I saw this image in my head, I could imagine what he was thinking, almost like he was standing next to me, talking to me.

He said “This is a gift. I give you this gift, Matt, never knowing what you will think of it. You might love it, you might hate it; I’ll never know. But I do know this: I hope your life is just a little better, just a touch richer than it was before you heard me reading this poem. I want to give you a little piece of myself, so that I may live on, and I hope you take something from this, something that you store up and treasure away. In short, I truly hope you like it.”

I was loading the dishwasher, of all possible things, when this happened, and I stopped short. I stopped because this is what I want to do myself. I write because words build up in my brain like water at a dam. Through my fingers I release some of these words. Through my writing, I relieve some of the pressure. That’s what I get out of it. But that’s just a need. I need to write. I don’t have any other choices (and believe me, I spent 25 years trying to ignore this!).

What I want, my desire in writing, is that one of you, any single person, might read one of my stories and be just a little richer, just a little happier than they were before. I simply, truly, honestly hope that you like what I write.

Not everyone will like what I write, and I’m no Hemingway or Joyce or King. I’m just Matt from Pennsylvania who was promised household robots and flying cars and spaceships and a cure for cancer. But I didn’t get any of those things – and don’t tell me a Roomba is a household robot. You know it’s not the same thing! And so I write. I write because there are stories inside me, stories to be told, stories to be shared. I carry on the tradition – however poorly – of the storyteller sitting at a campfire thousands of years ago, children and adults alike enraptured. the-storyteller-by-howard-terpning

Thank you, Vincent. Thank you for sharing that precious part of yourself with me. You, and others like you, have truly made me a better person. And may I be good enough to pass on what you gave to me, so others may be better as well.

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One thought on “Speaking With The Dead

  1. mysweettot says:

    You’re a star! I understand you on so many levels. Great article and Edward Sissorhands. 😉

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