8Fold/Acra: Haunted Man #2 "Condemned" and "The Hemophile"

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 22 00:05:55 PDT 2007

Jamie Rosen's new series,
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> Jamie Rosen                              ....... ....... ...... |
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> #2 "Condemned" and                       ..   .. ..   .. ..  .. |
>                    "The Hemophile"       ..   .. ..   .. ..  .. |
> ________________________________________________________________|, fills a niche on RACC that has been wanting for some time: horror.  Now, there have been a number of eerie stories, especially the moody/supernatural vibe of Paul Hardy's LOH and Jennifer Whiston's Misfits.  (In fact, most of the "serious" LNH material tends to have at least a little bit of that magic-and-daemons milleau, but that's a topic for another time.)

Though the Haunted Man is a host in the classic EC tradition (spooky
name, love of bad puns), one couldn't really call these stories EC-
type tales.  While these also rely on a twist that often takes a very
visceral and imaginative form, the EC stories always had more plot-- a
progression of events that often ended with comeuppance: O. Henry with
a hatchet and a severed head.  Everything fits together in a sort of
obscene logic; all seemingly loose ends come back to bite someone in
the ass.

The stories featured in the first two issues of the Haunted Man remind
me more of the fiction of Lovecraft, in which atmosphere, mood, and a
sort of hallucinogenic fever take precedence over plot, character, and
logic.  Things don't fit neatly together by the story's end, things
aren't explained, and that's what scares the merde out of me.  Or
should I say the merder?  (Ooh!  Bilingual pun!  Especially relevant
with a Canadian author under review!)


The first story in this issue is extremely disorienting, and it gives
the reader the kind of fever to which I alluded above.  Not only does
Jamie achieve this by what information he chooses to give us and (more
importantly) not give us, but also by the way in which he does so.
Consider this sentence:

> His entire body hurt: joints ached,
> muscles cramped and stiffened from having lain in so awkward a
> position.

The first time I read this sentence, I subconsciously put a slight
pause between "cramped" and "and", as if it were a list of ailments.
In doing so, it was rendered in my mind as:

joints ached,
muscles cramped,

which threw me for a moment.  Part of this is the Rule of Threes: the
human mind likes to have three examples to support any assertion.
Many of us probably remember writing a five paragraph essay, with an
opening paragraph, a concluding paragraph, and three supporting
paragraphs in between, with each paragraph consisting of five
sentences: opening sentence, concluding sentence, and three supporting
sdetails in between those.

Whatever the vagaries of the five-paragraph strait-jacket, it appeals
to the human mind's sense of order and balance, and a strange
infatuation with the number three.  Many people read The Lord of the
Rings Trilogy; I've yet to meet anyone who's read The Hobbit
Tetraology.  On the other end of the scale, christians are not content
with God the Father and God the Son, but must also have God the Holy
Spirit (or Ghost).

And I've actually just given three examples to support my assertion
that people like things that come in threes. :-)

And by violating this "rule", Monsieur Rosen gets under our skin.  The
rhythm of the second half of the sentence is not noun-verb, noun-verb,
and noun-verb, but rather noun-verb, noun-verb-and-verb.  The rhythm
is off-kilter and therefore does not satisfy our need for closure and

And while the story does have an ending that lets us piece together
what has befallen our "hero" and (more importantly) why, it doesn't
spell things out for us in any obvious way.  There's no doctor at the
end to tell us that Norman Bates is pretending to be his mother; it's
like he's ending with a scary man in a dress with a knife leaping out
and screaming at us and that's it.

And I think that's the biggest difference between an EC-style story
and the more literary/pulp horror tradition that Rockin' Rosen is
working in: he lets the story be unsettling and does not explain it.
He lets The Other simply exist and does not help us to understand it.


A few comments on the second story in this issue, which is a bit
lighter than the first, even with its gorier conclusion.  And I think
that's about right: two stories of the type of the first might not
work as effectively in tandem.  In this second story, instead, he
gives us a character with a desire/problem.

> Carter Smoltz loved blood.

Which, by the way, is a great opening line. :-)

> He would dab his fingers into the little
> pools that formed on his skin when he cut himself shaving, then lick
> them clean. When his girlfriend was menstruating, he would go down on
> her for hours at a time until his lips and chin were stained a deep,
> dark red.

Wait... what?

> When his girlfriend was menstruating, he would go down on
> her for hours at a time until his lips and chin were stained a deep,
> dark red.


_Hours_ at a time?  Really?

Three things here:

1. After prolonged sexual activity, which hours of unrelenting snatch
slurping and potential orgasming would most likely qualify as, the
nerve endings in the vagina become overly sensitive and there tends to
be a slight amount of swelling.  The long and short of it is, very few
women would consent to "hours" of cunnilingus, as it would cease to be

2. I don't know about Carter's technique, but the rhythmic lapping
motions required for successful cunnilingus-- whether one uses steady
tongue insertions, exclusive clitoral stimulation, flicking motions,
gliding up the labia, twisting about, or a combination of all these
methods-- would probably result in severe pain on HIS end.  Even if he
relies more-so on his lips, using kisses, gulps, and the inhalation/
exhalation of hot breath, he would quickly give himself a bad case of
lockjaw.  And even assuming that he's working at a lackadasial pace
because they have set aside multiple hours in which to partake of
nature's tasty soup bowl, few human beings would have the sheer
endurance for discomfort required for such a lengthy session.

3. And, since you establish in the very next sentence that

> [H}e had a profound distaste for pain; likewise, he would never
> cause injury to another human being -- he just wasn't that sort of
> person.

it follows that he would be as unlikely to go down on his lady for
hours as he would be unlikely to ask her to be gone down upon for such
a length of time.

So, in this particular case, I got to say, it doesn't quite have the
ring of truth. :-)


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