Following the journey of award winning author, Alex Azar, as he travels the publishing world and all things interesting. To reproduce or publish any material found within this blog, please contact me at azarrising@hotmail.com

Monday, March 10, 2014

Intro 9: The Statue Garden

One thing I've learned as an author, and have confirmed with others in this profession, is that ideas never die.  It may take some time for them to resurface but they always do.  Some story ideas should probably stay buried like that time I thought people wanted to read about an Arab teen's fictional reimagining of the hip-hop East coast - West coast situation at the time of Biggie's and 2Pac's deaths.  Other ideas just need the proper time to germinate.  Such is the case of "The Statue Garden".

My sister and her husband own a statue business, that consists of a statue garden.  Now as an adult (at least in age) the scope of the plot of land isn't as impressive as it once was when I was a child, when I truly believed I could be lost in the 'maze' of statues for days.

A few years ago, after having dinner at my sister's place and seeing the statues at night, I knew there was a story there. I'm the type to sit on ideas and let them naturally develop as I work on other pieces.  During this time, I stumbled upon notes I had written nearly 20 years ago (that'd make me around 11) and front and center on a scrap of paper was "The Statue Maze, a boy gets lost in a maze of statues and years later awakes from a nightmare still in that maze".  As you'll notice a few things have changed, such as the character's gender, but those seeds were planted long ago.

Read on...


 “Steph, I can’t believe your uncle is letting us have the rave at his place. This is going to be the best Halloween ever!”
I know Kerrie. He said his business is doing pretty bad, so he’s not worried about any of the statues getting broken, except for the religious ones.”
Stephanie’s uncle, Don Hoskin, was like a surrogate father while growing up since her real father left her mom while she was pregnant with Stephanie. Don owns the third largest statue garden in New Jersey. However, despite early success in sales, he’s struggling to stay in business during this recession.
Don has owned Hoskin’s Marble Maze since before Stephanie was born, and some of her earliest memories are from the garden. She had her first kiss in a corner of the maze dedicated to birds; she would sneak to a section of children statues to write in her diary under the warm sun. But all of this was in stark contrast to her feelings of the garden at night while growing up.
The summer when she was five Stephanie’s grandfather, who was living with Uncle Don, passed away from a heart attack. Out of fear Stephanie ran into the maze to lose herself. Unfortunately, because of the commotion inside no one noticed that she was missing until seven hours later while they were at the hospital. Having fallen asleep beneath an angelic themed granite bench with wings for a back support, Stephanie was woken up by her mother’s voice. Waking up in the now lightless night put a fright in her that she wasn’t able to shake for some time.
After weeks of resistance Uncle Don finally convinced Stephanie to enter the maze. Although she was only willing to walk a few feet before running out, it was the first step towards getting her to traverse the entire maze. By Christmas time Stephanie knew every turn and dead end in the maze and was once again comfortable entering alone. Several weeks later she was even willing to go in at night, but she never recaptured the joy she once felt at her uncle’s statue garden.
It’s because of the lingering fears that Stephanie has subdued that Uncle Don was surprised of her request to have the party there. The truth of the matter is that Kerrie and her boyfriend persuaded her to do so.
Attempting to ease her best friend’s fears Kerrie tells Stephanie “I’ll make sure you’re never alone the whole night.”
Responding to her friend over the phone, Stephanie says “The only rule my uncle gave me was that we had to stay away from the religious section, which he’s going to section off anyway.”
Seriously Steph, this is going to be the best rave ever. I wonder what kind of costume I should wear.”
Not fully embracing her friend’s optimism, Stephanie cautions “We only have a month to plan a rave for two hundred people. We’ll need a DJ, lights, and enough ecstasy for everyone.”
Don’t worry about the ‘X’, James can take care of that.”
Even more cautious, Stephanie begins to question “How is your boyfriend able to… I’d rather not know, do I?”
With a playful “Nope” Kerrie ends the conversation.
***
The day before the rave Stephanie is setting up the orange string lights throughout the maze, with the aid of Kerrie, James, and Luis, a friend that she’s oblivious of his feelings for her.
Rubbing his arms to warm up, James complains “For years Halloween has been t-shirt weather, now I’m freezing my ass off.” He throws down a bundle of lights before continuing “Why are we even doing this shit now?”
Because you’re girlfriend told the DJ everything will be ready before he gets here tomorrow.” Stephanie replies curtly.
Well I hope it warms up by then.”
The typically shy Luis wanting to feel like he’s part of the conversation chimes in, “Not likely, forecast calls for more of the same. But once the music starts and the drugs take affect it shouldn’t matter anyway.”
Stop being such a nerd Lois, and finish these lights, me and Kerrie got to blaze.”
Defending her friend, Stephanie angrily corrects James, “You know his name is Luis, and he’s not a nerd for knowing tomorrow’s weather, asshole.”
You’re right; he’s a nerd because he still reads comics.” Being the only one who finds himself amusing, James walks away laughing at his own comments.
Ignore him.” Kerrie tries to assuage Luis, but seeing the look in his eyes, she tries a different approach. “Hey, why don’t you two go inside and get some food ready. James and I will finish with the lights.” Aware of Luis’ feelings for Stephanie, she hopes the alone time will help them bond.
Trying to take advantage of his opportunity, Luis puts a hand on Stephanie’s shoulder and says, “Kerrie told me that you’re uncomfortable among the statues at night, but don’t worry I’ll be here.”
Ignoring most of what was just said, Stephanie focuses on the word ‘uncomfortable’ and corrects Luis. “It’s not that I’m just uncomfortable in the maze, I have a genuine fear of it in the dark. Something happened when I was younger and I got lost in there. I wasn’t found until after I had fallen asleep and had this horrible nightmare.” She pauses, contemplating if she should tell Luis this nightmare that she’s kept to herself all these years. Deciding he’s safe, she continues, “I was only five at the time but in the nightmare I was an adult in this body, and one of the statues came to life. This stone man with an impossible flowing marble beard and shaggy hair had his way with me, and instantly I looked nine months pregnant. I knew the birth of the baby would mean the death of everyone I cared for, so I tried to kill it. This thing was just as powerful as its beady eyed father. Just when I was about to give birth to it, I awoke with a shriek that directed my family to me.”
Too captivated by Stephanie is Luis that he refuses to interrupt to interject his thoughts. Instead he motions for her to sit on a mushroom shaped bench that resembles something out of ‘Wonderland’ to the side of the entrance to the maze as she continues to confide in him.
I hadn’t even thought much of that dream in the twenty years since I’ve had it, but ever since we decided to have the party here I’ve been having the same nightmare. Every night I’d have it except with slight variations.”
Such as?” Luis asks as he inches closer to Stephanie on the already small bench.
Not even registering his advances Stephanie answers, “Well one night he had legs like a cat, and sometimes he had the head of a goat, kind of like a Minotaur.”
Forgetting his own timid-ness, Luis corrects “Actually, Minotaurs are half bull, not goat.”
I understand that, but that’s not the point. You know what I meant. You need to stop correcting people when it doesn’t matter. Anyway, more recently the stone man didn’t rape me.” Pausing for dramatic effect, she focuses on Luis’ eyes and continues, “I slept with him willingly.”
More than a little taken aback, Luis reasons, “Well that’s probably just because you’ve grown tired of fighting this guy every night.”
Appreciating Luis’ attempt to comfort her, “Thanks Luis, that’s sweet, but if I can resist advances in real life I could do the same in my dreams.” Gently patting his cheek she rises to her feet. “We should get the food ready.”
***
That night while trying to look up the forecast for the rave, Kerrie sees a news headline indicating that an inmate of a nearby insane asylum has recently escaped. “Holy shit Steph isn’t this place close to us?” turning her phone towards Luis sitting next to her.
Yea Hanover Township is like five minutes away.” Stephanie answers flippantly not too concerned with the news.
Luis looking at the picture jokes, “This guy looks like Charles Manson with a longer beard.” Mistaking Stephanie’s shock as a look of disbelief he supports his theory by showing her the phone, “Come on, you don’t think so?”
Looking up Stephanie sees the stone man that took advantage of her in her dream all those years ago, not only on the phone but also in the window directly behind Luis. Stephanie screams with all her might…
and wakes with a jolt heavily sweating and out of breath. Before she can even realize where she is Luis storms in the room with a baseball bat high overhead.
Seeing no one else in the room he asks, “What’s wrong Steph?”
Stammering for words Stephanie is interrupted by Kerrie and James walking in naked except for a blanket and sheet covering them. Their own sweat reveals they weren’t just sleeping in the nude.
James takes the bat from Luis hand, “Easy there Romeo, don’t touch that, it’s part of my Furies costume.” Seeing that it was nothing but a nightmare he leans towards Kerrie and whispers, “Come on, Sybil just had a bad dream, let’s go finish.” He receives a sturdy elbow to his gut.
With the departure of Kerrie and James, Stephanie asks Luis to stay in the room. “I don’t think I’ll be able to go back to sleep, actually I don’t even want to try. I’m scared I’ll have another nightmare.”
Exhausted from all of the day’s work, Luis forces the tire out of him for a chance to spend the night with Stephanie. “Sure thing, but you’ll have to keep me up.” Hoping she takes that as an invitation for something intimately physical.
Instead he hears, “I’ve got an idea, go change into your costume, I’ll change into mine, and we can model for each other.”
With his libido deflated Luis shuffles off after mustering a weak “Okay.”

To find out what happens within the statue garden, read "The Statue Garden" in Cobwebs & Antiquities published by Static Movement.  You can purchase the book at Amazon.com and as always in the AzarRising mobile bookstore.