Scott Dwyer’s introduction to the Pluto in Furs reading was off-the-cuff-ish, a blend of his “An Abysmal Masochism” essay and other ideas and scolds. Highly entertaining. People arrived as he spoke. The mini-split unit whined. A shot of whiskey was passed my way. A skinhead with an anti-hate t-shirt sat down and looked at his phone throughout the event. A little girl alternately wore cat-ear headphones and listened. Scott summoned Clint Smith to read first—I laughed, poor Clint, sacrificial first reader, but he handled it with aplomb. He read from “Behemoth,” the long short story that closes the anthology— “The dogs were matted with a burgundy mucus, their glistening pelts catching the morning sunlight… the sound of their nails clacking on the asphalt as they scrambled away.” (A passage coincidentally reminiscent of a scene from “Wild Dogs” [in Supernatural Tales no. 30].) Scott offered comments, brought up Jeffrey Thomas whose story “The Tangible Universe” begins the anthology and reminds me of Brian Evenson’s preoccupation with amputation. Orrin Grey read. I was called up fourth. I moved a table, asked the audience what they knew about Thomas of Britain’s Tristan, from which I drew inspiration. Gemma Files read a tale of decomposition. She dreamed the title of her story. So heavy the dark burden of “Headsman’s Trust,” Richard Gavin had to sit while he read. (Many of the readers wore black. If I were to guess, I’d say Mr. Gavin wears black every day of his life. Gemma Files has a tattoo of two Egyptian hieroglyphs on her arm. I wore a purple shirt, blue jeans, and a pair of forest green sneakers.) At the reading’s end, I remained seated with Clint and the whiskey and people came down to say hi. Lisette from Canada told me she came just to hear me because she likes Worse Than Myself; I signed an autograph for person who had, previous to that moment, wondered if I was real. I signed as “the other Adam.” (The back cover of Pluto in Furs is a subtle tribute to the opening shots of the 70s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The cover is pretty. It’s by Matthew Revert.) We drank all the whiskey. We thought we’d check out the marshmallows at the Tor reading, but they were on their way out, vying for spots on the elevator. From the rooftop terrace, where the reading had been, we listened to a concert in the park below, watched lights—purple & white.
Out on the street in front of City Hall, where I waited for Clint to return from an errand, a coyote loped past me with a snake in its mouth.
[ image: Pluto in Furs Gradebook, my tribute to Matthew Revert's Pluto in Furs cover. ]