Starting a novel while beliquored in ’05

I started the novel that would become The H-Bomb of Highroad in 2005, during a late-night qwerty spree while beliquored. Where I got beliquored and whom I got beliquored with, however, is lost to the dusty annals. Sorry, dusty annals.

The earliest draft I have of the novel I began is a Word .doc file named Falsano.doc, dated May 16, 2005, so maybe that was the night. If so, then I would’ve just gotten my cat Annie around then, so she was probably on my lap when I was typing. And if she wasn’t, fucking imagine her there anyway because it makes a better story.

Annie the Cat. I didn’t name her. They said they found her on the Paramount Lot.

And that first scene I banged out that night didn’t change much between then and 2021, when I finally finished the book. It begins much like it begins now, with racist white boy dickhead Jason Falsano at his desk:

I'm standing on the tenth floor of the George Building downtown. The sky is a minty blue. Wind's out of the east at twelve knots. Baron Vladimir Harkonnen hovers at the other end of my deskphone, awaiting the results from this morning's test — the shufflepaper calisthenics he forwarded me via Holly Trejo, that sad sortie of miseries compiled just outside my door, wearing a coat because it's always too cold.

In 2005, I was still trying hard to be a paid filmmaker with a hit indie film, and I spent any available writing time on screenplays. This was my first dabble in prose since the early 90s. And in the early 90s I was dating a girl called Denise, who I shared a flat with for a short time. She didn’t like me much but it was okay because back then, I liked myself enough for the both of us.

Either or, Denise had a diabetic twin brother called Dave who took drugs, listened to punk rock, and claimed he regularly awoke and espied an ancient Native American man hovering in the dark in his bedroom corner with red eyes, warning him of earthquakes that were about to happen. I didn’t believe him but I believed in how cool the story was so I started writing a novel called The Earthquake Man:

The face materialized out of the dark. It was two inches from Tyler's own and was alive with prickly wet skin. Tyler jumped back in horror but he couldn't move. It was on top of him. And it was smiling. Through two glowing red void-eyes, the thing was smiling. The teeth were translucent and yellow, even in the dark as it stared.

But thankfully, that bullshit never got finished. Mostly because I was (a) working full-time as a pizza guy, (b) going full-time to state university, and (c) working full-time on a Super 8 mutant movie.

Me at the desk in 2003, same layout in 2005. Note the behemoth monitor.

So when I started rattling off a bunch of prose that night in 2005, you gotta understand, it was not something I did regularly. No, I’d normally be working on draft 812 of my script Francis Hamper — a movie that once had Ed Begley Jr., Swoosie Kurtz, and Karen Black attached to it but never got funding. Or by May of 2005 I mighta been working on the DVD release of my mutant movie. Point being: I wasn’t in no novel writing mode, so this writing sesh I started was a huge fluke-a-roo.

But oddly enough, I kept coming back to Highroad. Over many moons. And that’s primarily because writing computer guy main-character-who’s-not-really-the-main-character Jason Falsano was so heckin’ fun to write, because the character is a real scum-‘n’-douche-bag: misogynist, racist, homophobic. Basically a Republican. And he wore his cell phone on a belt clip. What can I say? He made me laugh, and I shan’t apologize.

But in troth, what I started to realize the more I wrote him was that the dude was me. The anti-me. The Bizarro me. The me if I had taken a few dozen wrong turns at key points in my life, and hadn’t gotten mixed up with the batshit cool friends I got mixed up during and after high school. But like Jason Falsano, I worked as a computer guy, and I actually used to lend my ear to Republican friends with loud mouths. (And I didn’t even smack them in their fat fascist faces a single time.)

Also similar: I even wore my cell phone on my belt for five minutes before a photographer friend called Susie D. laughed at it and got me feelin’ real small. But thank you, Susie D. You did me a favor I can never repay.

So writing Jason Falsano in bursts over the years was, I reckon, yes, therapeutic in some way. It was a way, maybe, of me patting myself on the back for not becoming Jason Falsano, and/or maybe a way of excusing the parts of me that used to be so similar to him.

Ah, here’s Annie now, sitting on my lap again as I write this. Hello, Annie.

Just kidding. She died in 2012. But now she appears with red eyes in the corner of my room, warning me of impending earthquakes.