What can a man do when he has only one thing left for them to take?
People often describe particular creative works of theirs as “labors of love.” I would describe the novel I finished in mid-October, “Web of Lies,” in a different way; as a way of venting my sorrow and outrage. Sorrow over a tragic loss of human-life, outrage at a System running roughshod over those it claims it’s there to protect-and-serve. I’d still like to find one or two men to read it, but once the Beta-readers I have so far have given me their feedback I will begin sending it out in my search for an agent.
What follows this one-liner is the prologue to this 90,000-word paranormal political-fairy-tale: 20 year-old Hennessey Pict is finally ready for her first solo painting show in Dallas, but then her estranged father’s violent death and her life begin to imitate Art…the art of his paranormal comic-book vigilante, Inferno®.
Shortly after June 15, 2011, I learned about how one man’s tragedy – which had been playing out in the courts of New Hampshire for ten years – came to an unthinkable end. There, back east, a beleaguered divorced father of three committed suicide by setting himself on fire. And he did it in front of the very courthouse that was scheduled to serve, on the morning of June 24, yet one more opportunity for players within the so-called justice system to hound him. This time most likely straight into their own jailhouse.
Instead, in essence, the man decided he’d already been hounded sufficiently. I believe he felt – as a man and a father without access to his own precious children – that he was already dead.
For eleven days words failed me. Then on June 26 I thought I got it, and wrote on the poster board I keep near my bed:
What can a man do
when he has only one thing left
for them to take?
After reading the dead man’s 10,000-word explanation I was further confused by the pitifully small media coverage. The thoughtful, articulate man’s very readable, downright journalistic essay contained hard truths, but only for those who would look. It contained truths about his experiences with the powers-that-be who lord it over all of us whether uniformed and out driving the streets, or robed and sitting high on-their-benches in our courtrooms. Most of it, therefore, is relevant to an awful lot of people, not just divorced-men.
While needing very minor polishing, the man’s personal-essay-plus-investigative-journalism was falsely and disingenuously characterized as “rambling.” And, yes, some of the ideas were paradigm-changing. But no, it was not rambling. In my estimation it earned such a label for one reason: to cause its dismissal and “earn” the man the ignominious label of just another Uni-bomber kind of nut job with a “manifesto.”
I contend even women – who might typically dismiss men’s issues, or see the entire sex as privileged and part of the “problem-of-the-Patriarchy” – upon an honest reading would recognize how children get sucked into this “family” system and thereby are routinely at risk of being decimated. They couldn’t fail to see how wives are used as pawns, have their strings pulled by the velvet-gloved side of the iron-fist simply to perpetuate the Big-bucks’ Business System that the incestuous abuse/rehab/family court creature has metastasized into.
Yes, for first-timers (yet to take the Red-Pill, so to speak) it’s unpleasant contemplating what this man reveals about our system; one we’ve been taught to believe is “Just.” And certainly an even harder reality-nugget to absorb is the palpable hope he has: that his final desperate act, his suicide, would inspire a real-world Justice-seeking League. It was especially frightening, I’m certain, to readers guilty of willfully using that very system to spitefully harm others.
He imagined a movement of real-world men like himself: pushed to their own brink; stripped of all their worldly-goods perhaps even cut out of their jobs, too. He hoped to inspire such men who’d been squashed into mere subsistence by this corrupt system, inspire them to once again take charge of their own lives, to take action towards real change and thereby live again. He hoped they’d become fighters for their own freedom – freedom from the institutionalized and most insidious discriminations practiced against men for simply being men.
Too many in this nation seem unaware that even our own long cherished systems can be corrupted; can become so broken as to leave individuals with no way to redress their grievances. But history is full of examples and to believe we are exempt – “just because” – is to choose to remain naïve. Hennessey Pict, the main character in this novel, starts out like that – well indoctrinated by her vindictive, divorced mother, believing the stories she’s been told all her life about a long-gone father who “just walked away.”
If burying evidence is evil, what then is disguising evidence? In this real-world example, disguising truths was as simple as mischaracterizing an essay as “rambling.” In the case of the fictional Hennessey Pict’s estranged father, the disguise was the wholly un-American, anti-First Amendment declaration that his comic-book caused copy-cat violence and therefore his works should be charged, convicted, and then silenced as hate speech.
The once living, breathing, feeling, real man discussed above that inspired me, along with the poor fictional guy whose suicide inspired my fictional cartoonist to create his comic-book series both took their own lives in tremendous acts of desperation.
Art imitating Life imitating Art…
Hennessey’s father, cartoonist Trace Pict, dies in a violent accident and it’s only then that she gets to read his comic-books. In the very first installment she meets his paranormal anti-hero, Inferno®, who, before taking his own life, poignantly declared:
“They have taken my kids, my home, most of my earnings…every f***ing thing except one – my life. And I’ll be damned to a frozen Hell before I let them take that, too.”
I don’t know if this story can make a difference but I hope somehow it will.