Crimson Quill: Where are you right now?
Keeper: Presently I am perched against a wall, overlooking a relatively peaceful dual carriageway with only a box of smokes and energy drink for company. It’s serene, the occasional hum of passing automobiles is the only distraction from my solitude. I’m totally withdrawn from everything and everyone and, most critically, in a place where nothing can harm me. I’m very self-sufficient as I’m sure you’re all aware at this juncture. Not because I’m some sort of narcissist but because it’s safe. Whenever life is dishing out punishment, I can switch off and exist on my own terms.
Crimson Quill: But you haven’t been safe have you?
Keeper: I’ve been in free-fall for some time now yes, plummeting towards the eye of my own intimate abyss and without the tools to lever myself from this bleak chasm. Misery, as it turns out, doesn’t love company. It’s just fine on its own, or at least for Keeper it is. As I sit in my temporary dwelling; I feel predominantly at peace. My conscience is mostly clear and I have long since made peace with myself over any events in my life which have been out of my control. Thing is, I know in my heart that I’m a good person. I am kind, caring and much more loyal than given credit for. I wish no harm on anyone, smile in the face of ignorance whenever feasible, have the best father-son relationship with my boy that a man could ever hope and, through my prose, look only to enlighten and share positive learnings with my travel companions. I have numerous flaws of course but nothing heinous, I have never allowed myself to fall foul to hatred as I believe that you reap what you sow in life.
Crimson Quill: Is reflecting too much a dangerous game when you suffer from depression?
Keeper: Reflecting is something I partake in habitually. I have an insatiable thirst for learning and, since suffering my “mid-life crisis”, reflection has kept me one step ahead of the game. I’m very much mindful that too much digging around in one’s own psyche can be a treacherous pursuit, certain questions have no applicable answers and certain stones are best left unturned. However I pledged honesty from the start here and feel it necessary to come good on my oath. Remember always that it is my goal to inspire, never demoralize, as my outlook is unflinchingly sunny, even when the shadows appear to be closing in. The Grueheads actually know more of my psychological make-up than most that have known me my whole life. I’m never judged here, only understanding comes back my way from these beautiful souls. Their actions fill my heart to overflowing, keep my head raised and my eye on the prize at every twist or turn in my life. I love them; they are responsible for keeping my head from dropping. I can’t put into adequate words how much that means to me. They’ve never doubted me, always been there for me when I’ve needed them most and have known of the good in my heart, even when others choose to question it. Therefore, I am the most open book.
Crimson Quill: You’ve been in the most helpless darkness over the past few months, how has that felt?
Keeper: I’m not gonna blow smoke up my own ass, it’s fucking sucked. My whole life I have let people see one side of me, or at least whatever I have seen fit to donate. I’ve had burly personal defenses and felt like I’ve needed to hold something back for myself. I think a lot of that stems from feeling so betrayed when my father’s disease struck. My young eight-year old mind was still wiring, puberty was looming and my world was destroyed when my most significant life tutor was stricken with this vile illness. As I hit adolescence and my body began to undergo changes I never once confided or even seeked assistance from another. My parents didn’t need to hear of my trivial woe, thus it felt best for all involved that I took this voyage solo.
Thirty years on and nobody was any the wiser. I knew that folk gravitate naturally towards me, my positive stance enabled that to be possible. However, they only ever saw what I desired them to or, more succinctly, what I trusted them enough to show. That’s been a hard habit to break as I built an impenetrable fortress around my heart which has been fortified each time life has thrown me a serrated curve-ball. So you see, I have spent much of my existence shrouded in darkness. The last few months have been damn trying for sure but the thing that has kept my head above water has been the light allowed in through opening up my petals and revealing the naked soul within. This act has enabled me to truly show myself, warts and all, give everything there is to give. I am now able to fight for my beliefs, make my voice heard and not carry myself how others suggest I should.
Crimson Quill: Have you ever been a fighter?
Keeper: You kidding me? I never so much as learned how to deliver a punch. I simply relied on my inescapable head-lock move to fish me out of the estuary. If I ever did lose my cool, one long fucking cool for the most part, I would see deep red and simply go Tasmanian on my antagonists’ asses! That got me through many a scrape growing up and fortunately there have only been a fistful of times when my brawn has been tested. Surprising really, if two motorists have been having a slanging match I’ve been known to jump out of the safe confines of my vehicle in an attempt to pacify the situation. I once stood between two pensioners readied to punch each other’s gums in and informed them calmly that they “should know better”. Somehow I’ve escaped without a pummeling each time.
Recently it has become clear that I’m primed for battle. Should I be backed into a corner unfairly and forced to retaliate; then I know precisely how to do so. I don’t need to bash skulls to achieve the smackdown either. I just have to stand up for my beliefs, not let ignorance deter me, and never allow myself to have the voice my maker gave me muted. It’s actually far less troublesome scribing a response than it is verbalizing my discord. What can I say? I’m a work in progress. But I’m on course now; any belief instilled by the love and appreciation of my craft has given me the tools to change my life for the better. If I have to get bloody, then now I am prepared to do but, in answer to your question, no, I’m not over-keen on fighting. However, it is something I am now able to do when required.
Crimson Quill: You speak regularly about the various sides to you. Please can you elaborate on these sides?
Keeper: It would be my pleasure. Well first there’s the light and the dark. I enjoy writing the darkness out of me and, using the Crimson Quill as my vessel, I can cleanse myself through the spilling of crimson. It stops negativity from building up, if I scribe it out it no longer gestates inside, therefore staving off bitterness. The light comes out organically, no struggle there. Even in my more shadowy works you can still discern beacons of light and this is the side of me that I make most readily available to those whose paths intertwine with my own. I’m very quick to use the word love and much more delayed in the use of hate. That’s just me, having my ass chomped by bad karma just never appealed.
Then there’s my humorous side, I’ve always been quick-witted. With teachers such as Steve Martin, Rodney Dangerfield, and Michael Keaton, comedy has always come naturally to me through prose. I love improvising the shit out of stuff and making myself cackle out loud in the process. When reading my own pieces I laugh to myself constantly but that’s not me being conceited. I simply know my sense of humor and trust that others will appreciate it too. Another side would be the self-confessed fool which I find far more rewarding than alpha-male duties. I have confidence in my abilities but love nothing more than to be self-effacing. Nobody gets harmed, no feelings are hurt and I can snicker at my own expense in the process. There is a fine line but, if the balance is found, then it’s a most liberating endeavor.
Finally there is the sexual side to my being. I don’t speak from masses of experience as, believe it or not, I’m no dynamo. Simply a man with a penis. I am a visual creature and make no bones about finding the naked form intoxicating. Anyone who doesn’t admit such is one of three things: liar, trappist monk, or eunuch. Society loves reminding us that we should be ashamed to possess any sort of sexuality, only for unscrupulous mass retailers to peddle suggestive panties to girls not even close to flowering. When I write erotically charged pieces it is never to exploit, titillate yes, but I have moral boundaries I will not cross. My imagery has courted controversy at times by depicting naked flesh and the reason behind this has always been that I was sexually repressed as a teenager, shy and respectful but wholly overwhelmed by the changes in my own body. From the first sprout of pubic shrubbery to my failed deflowering at seventeen, I just rolled with the punches without having the slightest clue what the hell I should have been doing. No Yoda, no Miyagi, only Porky’s to school me. Whilst teaching me the fun of naming your own genitalia, it hardly offered me insight into how to insert it anywhere other than a shower wall-hole.
All these sides combine to present you what you see before you now; a man comfortable in his skin, able to love and receive it back, and gladly accountable for his actions. If I’m ever insensitive or thoughtless then I apologize unreservedly. But never once do I set out to be this way. Grueheads, you give me the sanctuary to hold my head up, fight for what’s right, love unashamedly and freely, bleed intimately and, most critically, to belong. I’m eternally indebted to each and every last one of you for that honor.
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2013 (Revised Edition 2015)