Blog Hop / Coffin Hop / Guest Post / Halloween / Richard Long

Richard Long’s Tell-Tale Halloween: Coffin Hop Day Two!

Welcome to Coffin Hop day two! Today’s post, boys and girls, comes to us courtesy of Richard Long, author of The Book of Paul… which you may or may not be able to win. (No, I’m not spilling details yet!) Read on, and be sure to check out all the other hoppers by clicking here!

TRUE! — nervous — very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses — not destroyed — not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily — how calmly I can tell you the whole story.
Tell me that doesn’t grab your attention by the throat and yank you under those mysteriously thumping floorboards. Any bona fide horror literature maven (raven?) will easily identify that selection as the opening paragraph of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart.
The first and perhaps still supreme master of macabre, Poe got under my skin from the first sentence. When I was a kid I was a voracious reader. I was also born ghoulish. I’m not sure where I got my hands on The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe. It could have come from my parents, but these were the same people who didn’t want me watching John Astin chewing cigars, scenery and Morticia’s arm on The Addams Family TV show, so that doesn’t really add up. I don’t remember, and I don’t really care. I just know that I couldn’t wait to go to my room every chance I got and bury my little nose between the covers.
I read every one of his short stories, and even quite a few of the poems, which isn’t bad for young kid – and I was a young reader. I had a photographic memory back then. I could recite paragraphs like the one above for my friends with relative ease. I loved the reactions I got, even though the prose wasn’t mine. It hooked me on being a storyteller and juiced up my already over-active imagination to the point where Poe’s short stories grew by leaps and bounds in the retelling, sometimes spanning several sunny afternoons in the woods behind my house.
The Pit and the Pendulum. The Cask of Amontillado. The Masque of the Red Death. Every story transported me utterly to a dark, dangerous world, where the endings were never happy, but I was always ecstatic. And while the subject matter was consistent with a legion of horror writers that followed in his wake, Poe wrote so masterfully that his prose set a standard that still remains daunting to anyone inclined to grasp his skeletal scepter.
Poe is also considered the father of the detective story, which brings me to my second literary puppy love, Sherlock Holmes. Arthur Conan Doyle’s know-it-all snarkmaster and his ever-present plodding pal Watson were my daily companions for however long it took me to consume each tale in my three-inch thick volume: The Complete Sherlock Holmes. Never as dark and dreary as Poe, Doyle had his chilly moments too, as in The Hound of the Baskervilles, which was ultimately a tremendous letdown for me because – it was only a big dog goddammit!
My love of reading never waned. I read all the classics, munching my way through the timeline from Hawthorne to Hemingway, Stevenson to Steinbeck. Science fiction was another not-guilty-at-all pleasure, and I gulped down huge helpings of Verne, Wells, Bradbury, Asimov, Clarke and Ellison. Horror remained my go-to genre for many years and like everyone else of my time, Steven was the King, with Peter Straub the Prince-apparent. King’s The Stand and Straub’s Ghost Story remain two of favorite horror stories of all time.
Still, it’s Poe that keeps calling me back to a horror more complete than any modern master. So the only fitting conclusion to my waltz down mortuary lane is the concluding lines of our cardiac arresting launch pad:
No doubt I now grew very pale; –but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased –and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound –much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath –and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly –more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men –but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed –I raved –I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder –louder –louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! –no, no! They heard! –they suspected! –they knew! –they were making a mockery of my horror!-this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now –again! –hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!
“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! — tear up the planks! here, here! –It is the beating of his hideous heart!”

Brr. Anyone else a little chilled? Thanks, Richard, for the incredible post. Now, after reading that, I know y’all wanna win something. Luckily for you, Richard is a generous horror writer and has donated five copies of The Book of Paul in eBook form, to be handed out as I see fit. In keeping with what I started yesterday, we’re going to be doing as the gods will—the gods of random selection!
As before, leave a comment below and you’re automatically entered to win! This time, if you leave your Twitter handle, you’ll have to be following Richard and me in order to get that extra entry.
What? Can’t make it all easy on you…. 😉 
Happy Hopping! And if you enjoyed Richard’s post, be sure to follow him on Twitter and like him on Facebook!

21 thoughts on “Richard Long’s Tell-Tale Halloween: Coffin Hop Day Two!

  1. Okay, true story. Don't you love it when someone prefaces some outlandish shit with "True Story"? Yeah, me too. Here goes: I was teenage gravedigger. Yep. I lived in a cemetery and buried people since i was 14 years old. Uh huh. Worked a backhoe. The first time I did acid I was down inside a grave tidying the edges with my trusty spade, when it started pouring rain. You know, like in Young Frankenstein, when Igor says, "It could be worse…it could be raining" and the deluge falls. So I'm in the pit, trying to finish, and the mud wall on one side collapses exposing the pine box coffin next door (one of those really old babies out of Sergio Leone western). The weight of the wet dirt on top of the pine box coffin crushes it right before my hallucinating eyes and a river of black gunk cascades out of it — puree of corpse, all over me. What did I do? I laughed my ass off. So the old codger foreman Howard yells down at me, "What the FUCK are you laughing at?" I didn't even bother answering him. I was still laughing too hard. Why? Who the hell know? I was tripping to the tits! I climbed out of the grave, wiped the gunk off my poncho, flipped Howard the bird and called it a day.How's that for a coffin hop? Next I'll tell you about the time I chainsawed the end of a coffin off cause it wouldn't fit in the vault. True story.

  2. Classic! Love the post, Richard (and Murphy!). Thanks for bringing up Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Professor Challenger, The World Before Time, The Lost World Series … awesome stuff, too! I'll be by again!

  3. Awesome post! @RichardLong: Love your "true story" in the comments too! In fact, I shouldn't even put that in quotes, cos it is actually a true story, and what a classic story it is!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s