Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I Am My Own Evil Twin

The scariest thing that happened to me in Salem was not seeing the glowing orbs a wide-eyed young woman photographed with her digital camera at one of the many haunted houses, though that was scary and I don't like to dwell on it much, but it was finding a certain book in the little shelf of tradeable books found at our inn, just like at many inns and B&Bs all across this great land.

This book was Heaven Lake by John Dalton, and once again I was reminded that I was his shadow, his Frankenstein's Monster, the Bizarro John Dalton.

Longtime readers recall that I once spent a wedding anniversary in a cabin in the woods that ended with me running through the trees to an inn to call an ambulance for my wife in the middle of the night; that the young doctor on call at that rural hospital later revealed that it was the first life or death surgery that he ever had; that in a daze I opened "Story" magazine and saw my own name looking up at me, in a strange disconnect. And the other John Dalton has haunted me since.

The other John Dalton watches the dappled sunset in North Carolina with the other members of the state's emerging literary scene, the other John Dalton got fine writing degrees from the ivied halls of higher learning and publishes in all the best literary magazines. Somewhere I fear he has a painting of me, his own Dorian Gray that shows Hellshock in the place of Heaven Lake, that shows a blistered midwestern cornfield in place of the soft rolling hills of the South, that shows critics howling for his death on b-movie message boards instead of gentle literary criticism in the finer magazines.

I fear to read it, but find I must; I will report back later, gentle reader.

Give me a shout at johnoakdalton@hotmail.com.

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