Its been a good week. I'm touring around the south a little, just got back from a Brave's game, saw Shakespeare last night, Inception the night before, attended the Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrites the day before that.
Coolest thing by far I've done in recent memory is to get a tour of the studio that belongs to friend of my uncle and dude in the top 1% of literary and comic illustrators, Mr. Charles Vess. He and my family talked for a while about the stuff of his we liked, including issues of The Sandman comic, Stardust and many others. I told him I had just read his fairy tale collaboration with Neil Gaiman, Instructions, so he opened up a drawer and showed me original drawings from that book.
An incredibly cool video version of the Instructions can be found here.
Charles Vess's website can be found here.
The story I wrote that is inspired by Instructions and that I felt too presumptuous to give to Mr. Vess can be found right here:
THE TREASURE MAP
Walk outside of the building. This is harder than it sounds. Inside is nearly as large as outside, but there is no raw inside, and it is only upon remarking this that you need to leave.
There is an allure to the pool, the chlorine scent assuring bleach-level cleanliness, the bobbing ropes that designate a lap lane for you only, water running off swim suits on muscular bodies before they sproing from the diving boards. You must leave it behind.
And in the next room, you will find an informal banquet. Confident murmurs, wine glasses on hovering tablets, a buffet on white tablecloth. A man must eat to live, most men need companionship nearly as much, and you will surely find both of adequate quality in this room, but do not linger. Circumvent the fountain. Exit through the grand doors.
Enter a hallway notched with nooks, lined with windows to look on the streets below. You will pass a friendly card game, the unaged antiqueness of a retirement home’s sitting room, a bar with ready-made and fairly-priced sandwiches, someone eager to know you and lead you by your hand to the end of the hall, to the balcony.
And you could do some lovely things here. There are benches because they know you’ll be tired. There are movies playing here because they know you’d like to unwind. And yet, you know to put one foot before the other and keep your hands in your pockets.
Enter the lobby. Walls are incomplete to give separate rooms the appearance of an unending landscape. Restaurants and shops are staggered at discrepant heights, the ramped corridors between them equipped with tables, vendors, waiters. Smell the spiced humid scent of the trees as you walk by them.
Some will walk through this place with their glances swaying and their heads bobbing, but there are others who keep their eyes directed forward, who walk with a purpose. Follow one of them and you will find yourself in the depot. Tickets are cheap. Machines sell apples, pretzels, coffee. Pictures on the wall show you places you can go to and lists on the wall tell you what time you can leave to get there.
You will see people pleased to be where they’ve gotten to, happy to be going where they’re off to by air, rail, road, sea even. Get out of the depot. It will not take you anywhere. You will notice a sign with a list of other rooms, each with an arrow next to it. There are restrooms, a cafeteria, a chapel, a doctor’s office, a few others. The last item on the list is the Exit. Go to it. Leave.
And now you may be outside, but it is merely an outdoor hallway to another indoor room. Walk on. Busses will offer to take you back. Buildings will offer to feed you, clothe you, provide you a bed to lie down. Walk on.
Over the hill, there is a house you know, but it is not what you had pictured. The yard is small, the garage large, the brush cleared, the town near. But there is no doubt this is your house. You should stop walking. Now do you what you like. The place is yours.