Beaumont(h) – Post 3/9

beaumont-03

Beaumont(h) Introduction

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]


 

[87] THE HOWLING MAN (1959)

Perchance to Dream; Twilight Zone Original Stories

3 out of 5 stars. 

The Plot:

Young Bostonian David Ellington adventures across 1930’s Europe. After taking ill, he is brought to an isolated abbey where a man screams through each night. But no one at the abbey will admit the howling is real.

This story works until its heavy-handed end, when it links the atrocities and existence of Hitler to the howling man.

[88]

In that time, before I had heard of St. Wulfran’s, of the wretch who clawed the stones of a locked cell, wailing in the midnight hours, or of the daft Brothers and their mad Abbot, I had strong legs and a mind on its last search, and I preferred to be alone. A while and I’ll come back to this spot. We will ride and feel the sickness, fall, and hover on the edge of death, together. But I am not a writer, only one who loves wild, unhousebroken words; I must have a real beginning.

(p.79)

[89] Vocabulary:

My nightly dreams of beaded bagnios and dusky writhing houris.

(p.80)

bagnio

noun – (archaic) – a brothel.

houri

noun – a beautiful young woman, especially one of the virgin companions of the faithful in the Muslim Paradise.

[90] Reference:

I did a quick trot through the Tuileries, the Louvre, and down the Champs Elysees.

(p.80)

The Tuileries Palace was a royal and imperial palace in Paris which stood on the right bank of the River Seine. Built in 1564, it was burned by the Paris Commune in 1871.

Since “The Howling Man” takes place in the 1930s, I assume the narrator went through the Tuileries Garden

[91] Reference:

I pedaled as if toward a destination: into the Moselle Valley country.

(p.81)

The Moselle Valley is a region in north-eastern France, south-western Germany, and eastern Luxembourg, centered on the river valley formed by the Moselle.

[92] Vocabulary:

By a ferry, fallen to desuetude, the reptile drew me through a bosky wood.

(p.81)

desuetude

noun – (formal) – a state of disuse.

bosky

adjective – wooded; covered by trees or bushes.

What a sentence!

[93]

And seated there, asleep, his tonsured head adangle from an Everest of robe, a monk.

(p.82)

[94]

“Father Jerome said that you would die and he sent me to watch, for I have never seen a man die, and Father Jerome holds that it is beneficial for a Brother to have seen a man die. But now I suppose that you will not die.” He shook his head ruefully.

(p.82)

[95] Reference:

The sounds that maniacs hear seem quite real to them.”

I know. I know!

(p.84)

This is presented like a quote, but searching it only links back to this story.

[96]

“Honest men make unconvincing liars,” I lied convincingly.

(p.87)

[97]

“You regard our life here, no doubt, as primitive-”

“In fact, I-”

“In fact, you do.”

(p.89)

[98] Reference:

“He said his wife was dying and begged me to give her Extreme Unction.”

(p.90)

noun – (in the Roman Catholic Church) a former name for the sacrament of anointment of the sick, especially when administered to the dying.

[99] References:

“Satan. Otherwise known as the Dark Angel, Asmodeus, Belial, Ahriman, Diabolus – the Devil.”

(p.91)

Asmodeus” was the name of the President of the Eternal Life Ins. Co. in “Hair of the Dog” (Post 2, note [86]).

Belial (also known as Beliar) is a term occurring in the Hebrew Bible which later became personified as the devil in Jewish and Christian texts.

Angra Mainyu is the Avestan-language name of Zoroastrianism’s hypostasis of the “destructive spirit.” The Middle Persian equivalent is Ahriman.

[100] Reference:

Schwartzhof attracted him as lovely virgins attract perverts.”

(p.92)

Schwartzhof, meaning “black head” in German, is not the name of any German town but several mountains have the name.

[101] Reference:

When the pictures of the carpenter from Braunau-am-Inn began to appear in all the papers, I grew uneasy.”

(p.94)

This is referring to Hitler (his birthplace was Braunau-am-Inn), but I’ve never heard of Hitler being a carpenter. Johann Georg Elser, known for attempting to assassinate Hitler, was a carpenter. The only other Hitler/carpenter connection I can find is on a questionable site (I don’t feel like linking to it; search if you’re curious), which claims that Hitler was a carpenter early in his life.

Putting it in this story seems like an attempt to evoke Christ, which is damn bizarre.

[102] THE HUNGER (1955)

The Hunger 

4 out of 5 stars.

The Plot

An escaped mental patient is murdering women in Burlington. Lonely Julia, living with her two sisters, yearns to be wanted, even if by a killer.

(I swear Shirley Jackson wrote a story just like this…)

Written very well, but kind of a shit show of character motivation. This killer only kills because his rape victims reject him. Julia, our main character, wants to be sexually desired so much that she willingly goes to her death for the chance.

[103] Opening lines:

Now, with the sun almost gone, the sky looked wounded – as if a gigantic razor had been drawn across it, slicing deep. It bled richly. And the wind, which came down from High Mountain, cool as rain, sounded a little like children crying: a soft, unhappy kind of sound, rising and falling.

(p.155)

[104]

As she passed the vacant lots, all shoulder-high in wild grass, Julia could not help thinking, He might be hiding there, right now. It was possible. Hiding there, all crouched up, waiting. And he’d only have to grab her, and – She wouldn’t scream. She knew that suddenly, and the thought terrified her. Sometimes you can’t scream….

(p.155)

[105]

“They haven’t even come close to catching him yet.”

“They will,” Julia said, not knowing why: she wasn’t entirely convinced of it.

“Of course they will.”

(p.156)

[106]

They would talk about it tonight. All night. Analyzing, hinting, questioning. They would talk of nothing else, as from the very first. And they would not be able to conceal their delight.

“Wasn’t it awful about poor Eva Schillings?”

No, Julia had thought: from her sisters’ point of view it was not awful at all. It was wonderful. It was priceless.

It was news.

(p.156 – 157)

[107]

Outside, there was a wind. A cold wind, biting; the kind that slips right through window putty, that you can feel on the glass. Was there ever such a cold wind? she wondered.

(p.159)

[108] Reference:

Burlington, population 3,000, went into a state of ecstasy: delicious fear gripped the town.

(p.160)

According to Roger Anker’s introduction in A Touch of the Creature, Beaumont lived for a time with his grandmother in Burlington, Washington.

Burlington is a city in Skagit County, Washington, United States. The population is 8,388 according to the 2010 census. Train tracks cross through the center of the town and there is a mountain to the south named “Little Mountain” (in the story, Julia refers to a “High Mountain” to the south).

[109]

“This here maniac is only doing what every man would like to do but can’t.”

“Maud!”

“I mean it. It’s a man’s natural instinct – it’s all they ever think about.”

(p.162)

[110]

[Julia] thought, They’ve been married! They talk this way about men, as they always have, and yet soft words have been spoken to them, and strong arms placed around their shoulders….

(p.162)

[111]

“We’re not so old,” Louise said, saying, actually: “That’s true; we’re old.”

But it wasn’t true, not at all. Looking at them, studying them, it suddenly occurred to Julia that her sisters were ashamed of their essential attractiveness.

(p.162)

Shades of Miss Maple from “The Dark Music” (Post 2, note [35]).

[112] Reference:

The moon is the shepherd,

The clouds are his sheep…”

(p.163)

A German lullaby called “Sleep baby sleep” has similar lines. Quoted in The Moon and the Rainbow: twelve lullabies from around the world:

 

Sleep baby sleep!

the sheep are in the sky:

the stars are little lambs,

the moon is the shepherd.

Sleep baby sleep!

And in the public school series Primer First (Fourth, Sixth) reader:

 

The moon is the shepherd, and the stars which shine so like gold, and roam about in the air, are the sheep.

I can’t find an example that matches Beaumont’s exactly.

[113] Reference:

Have you read Shakespeare’s Sonnets? Herrick? How about Shelley, then?

(p.166)

Robert Herrick (1591 – 1674) was a 17th-century English lyric poet and cleric. He is best known for Hesperides, a book of poems. This includes the carpe diem poem “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”, with the first line “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.”

[114] This is a preposterous, preposterous end. But the writing has been so solid and atmospheric that I buy this character, no matter how crazy it gets.

Certainly you don’t want him to touch you.

Assuredly you don’t want him to put his arms around you and kiss you, because no man has ever done that – assuredly, assuredly.

It isn’t you he wants. It isn’t love. He wouldn’t be taking Julia Landon….

“But what if he doesn’t!” The words spilled out in a small choked cry. “What if he sees me and runs away!”

(p.167)

[115] Last lines:

Perhaps, she thought, feeling the first drops of rain upon her face, perhaps if I don’t scream he’ll let me live.

That would be nice.

(p.169)

[116] IN HIS IMAGE (also titled THE MAN WHO MADE HIMSELF) (1956)

Perchance to Dream; Twilight Zone Original Stories 

1.5 stars out of 5.

The Plot:

Peter Nolan prepares to elope with a woman he’s known less than a week. But it all falls apart when he brings her to his hometown and finds it utterly changed from his memory.

The potential of the story (and one very effective sequence) is ruined by the utter confusion of its construction. Beaumont purposefully goes for a disjointed, flashback-infused style (with very few section breaks to let us know when he’s switching gears) that doesn’t work, even on a second reading. The ending is also a mess; I have no idea what happens.

[117] From the beginning, we’re put into confusion and Beaumont does a poor job of ever clearing it up/justifying it:

The old woman fell over the edge of the platform.

“Good-bye, Walter!”

The train scooped her up and flattened her against the headlight and held her there for half an instant like a giant moth. Then she came loose.

The young man turned around and ran up the stairs.

Outside, the streets were crowded…

The door was opened to the length of its chain by a girl who was mostly shadow.

Peter Nolan put his hands behind his back and smiled.

(p.139)

We don’t learn who Walter is until the end of the story (and I’m still not sure why Peter Nolan would say “Good-bye, Walter!” when killing an old woman). A page later, we’re told it’s six in the morning – why would the streets be crowded but the subway empty? Are these events even happening in immediate succession? Why switch from “the young man” to “Peter Nolan” now?

[118] Reference:

He sat upright, pulled back his coatsleeves, glared at a small Benrus.

(p.140)

The Benrus Watch Company was founded as a watch-repair shop in New York City in 1921 by the Romanian immigrant Benjamin Lazrus. The name “Benrus” originates from the combination of Benjamin Lazrus’s first and last name. Around 1930, the company transitioned from repair to manufacturing. The brand still exists and is owned by Giovanni Feroce.

[119] Reference:

“I know that you live in Coeurville, New York.”

(p.141)

Coeurville doesn’t appear to be the name of any city, though translated from French, it means “heart city,” which fits the story.

[120] There’s a subtly futuristic atmosphere here, shared with “Last Rites” (a story also about machine-as-man) (Post 5, note [166]):

Beyond the field there were farm houses and straggles of horses and wide shade trees, small and bright in the clean air. The thunder of rockets rumbled distantly.

(p.142)

 

Peter Nolan smoothed the powerful turbines down and dropped rapidly from 114 miles-per-hour to a calm 40.

(p.144)

 

[121] The sequence of Peter and Jessica in Coeurville is effectively unsettling:

The door opened.

“What is it?” A fat man with a fat red face stood glaring.

Peter Nolan glanced at the house numbers: 515. He glared back at the man. “Who are you?”

The fat man closed one eye. An old friend of Mildred’s, probably – Mildred had so many screwy friends. Or a plumber, maybe. “Look, my name’s Nolan. I live here. I own this house.”

The fat man scratched his chin. He said nothing.

“Where’s Mildred?”

“Who?”

“Mildred Nolan! Say, what the hell are you doing here, anyway?”

“It’s none of your business,” the fat man told him, “but I happen to live here. I’ve lived here for nine years, bought the place from Gerald Butler, got the deep to prove it. There ain’t nobody named Mildred here and I never saw you before in my life.”

(p.147)

[122] I can’t visualize the action here. What is happening?

He bent down and patted the ground and closed his fingers about a large jagged stone.

Good. We’ll see about doctors now.

“Jess!” he called. “Could you give me a hand?”

A pause. Then the sound of the metal door opening and slamming and the sound of movement in the brush.

Jess walked over and touched his arm.

“Is it better?” she asked.

“Yes.”

Her eyes moved to his hand.

He raised the stone, stood there with it raised, staring; then he turned and threw the stone into the foliage in back of him.

“What is it, Pete?”

“Stubbed my damn toe.”

(p.151)

If Jess sees the rock, why doesn’t she panic (or at least make some comment about it)? If she doesn’t see it, why say “her eyes moved to his hand”?

[123]

He walked up the circular driveway and stood for a moment, looking at the house. It was fat and sprawling and ugly: a little of 1860 and a little of 1960.

(p.153)

[124]

“If you wished to kill (…) it could only mean what there is some part of me that wished to kill. My own deathwish, inverted. Everyone has it. I mean, we’re all potential suicides or murderers or rapists or thieves.”

(p.156)

[125] THE INDIAN PIPER (unpublished until 2000 collection)

A Touch of the Creature

2.5 out of 5 stars. 

The Plot:

Clayton sits in a hotel room, gun to temple, but the sound of pipe-playing down the hall stops him.

[126] Beaumont sometimes fails his intriguing set-ups by cutting out too soon, or having darkness/blackness enter someone’s mind instead of explaining anything. “The Train” (Post 8, note [353]) does this in its climax and “Miss Gentilbelle” (Post 5, note [184]) has a similar event near the end. Here we get, as our last lines:

Before the blackness entered his mind, Clayton heard the one clear note sing into the dark room-

The same dark room that was empty when he ran to it later, searching for the Indian Piper.

(p.81)

It’s like the screen going to black in a film during the final battle or parlor room scene. We’ve come this far, Beaumont, give us something.


 

Post 4/9

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