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Iron Maiden “Blood Brothers”
It is rare that I’m at a loss for words. For air. For light. However, right now all three are in desperately short supply and I haven’t the faintest idea how to process the information I have just received that my beloved Viking brother, C. William Giles, simply Craig to his legion of friends and loved ones, has died. For as much as composing a solitary sentence feels like wading through setting cement; I owe it to a true gentleman of such unquestionable honour to do such in his memory. The reason for this is simple – in all my forty-four years, I have seldom met and known another soul quite so utterly pure as the one he possessed. Indeed, Craig was the brother I never had and always wished for. We may not have shared a bloodline but anyone who has met me in person will know that I believe such should never determine those we hold dear. Certain connections simply are and, in the case of Sir Giles, ours was entirely unbreakable.
I met Craig in 2013 when he introduced himself on Twitter and requested that I read his debut novel and review it on my site. Instantly, I felt at home in his company. Thus, while never what you would call an avid reader, I agreed and sent him my postal address. Two days later, … of Tortured Faustian Slumbers arrived in the mail, complete with personalized signed message from the author himself. It had been almost twenty years since I had made it through any book from cover-to-cover, but I remained true to my word and spent the following three days in a state of quiet awe. My primary consideration upon finishing this behemoth was that the name C. William Giles was the best kept secret in modern horror literature and I very much uphold that to this very day. However, nothing prepared me for just how close we were set to become.
We spoke pretty much every day from that point forward as I released my glowing appraisal of his masterpiece and promptly knocked him for six. Craig had been required to self-publish in order to place his art in a position to be seen and it was clear as crystalline just how committed he was to realising this dream. I told him I believed in him, at which point, he reciprocated as such was very much in his nature. You see, for all the darkness of his timeless prose, he truly was a beacon of imperishable light. Such was the very first thing I observed in him and the illumination never once flickered in the six desperately short years I knew him. We may not have always kept in touch but he understood the concept of being fierce of allegiance, as did I. And our brotherhood remained like titanium until this unthinkably sad day.
I was in a bad way during the bleak midwinter of 2013 and had all but given up on life when Craig tossed me a line without single pause or hesitation. Considering he was a qualified nurse, his caring nature should have come as no great surprise. But the fact that we had never met in person made his offer of a warm bed all the more extraordinary. I swiftly made the 300-mile round trip to his fortress and spent the next ten days in the safest pair of hands I could ever have wished for. Indeed, I even managed to clean forget I’d packed my depression medication and only realised when I was packing up to depart. Had no need for it here. For Craig made it abundantly clear that his home was mine. And we had a truly magnificent time. When I left rejuvenated, we spoke of me making return visit and, one year later, I braved the badlands once again to make my way back to my special little sanctuary.
Oh, how we laughed. Oh, how we chewed the rind of many a topic. Oh, how we knew precisely what the other was thinking and oh, how we constructed a vessel in no fear of ever sinking. Both of us were reared on Hammer films and his abode resembled a shrine to all things Hammer related. He wore his passions openly and was never anything less than utterly enthused when speaking of his inspirations as a writer. He knew well of his gift but there was not a solitary whiff of conceit about him. Humble to the very bones, it meant everything and more to him for others to have belief in him. By the time he self-published his second novel, The Darkness of Strangers, mine was through the roof. Yet, I couldn’t shake the frustration of knowing that such a talented author had not received his big break.
Only recently, Craig launched his third work, Black, a project which he discussed with me way back in 2015. And I hoped and prayed that this would provide him the platform to finally be recognized by the masses. One thing is for sure, I will make it so or bloody well die trying. Right now, I can barely hold back the Tsunami of tears that I know only too well are inbound any moment now. Not. Yet. Craig would not hear of such and would tell me to “man up” or else be prepared to taste my own Viking blood. And he would do so with the warmth of Valhalla in his eyes. They truly were the shoreline to the omnipotent soul of a mighty warrior. One which guides me as I scribe this and will continue to do so until very last light. Brotherhood is not just for life, it is for the beyond. Will be seeing you there on one fine day brother. Until that time arrives, I shall carry you home in this fractured heart of mine. Sleep well fellow lion. Do I love you to the ends of time? Aye.
A gentle giant
Now walks amongst the Tombstones
An angel of his own kind
Eyes of Wonder
An exotic reach
Into the soul on fire in the dead of night
I will hear your written words in my dreams
See your face in the stars
And walk amongst the Tombstones with you
Closing poem, “Amongst The Tombstones” by Jilly Gibson, in loving memory of our brother. At one now, with the angels.
Richard Charles Stevens