(Disclaimer 1: I’ll be breezing over a lot of last names.Â That’s just because I wanna, and because I failed to ask a lot of people what their last names were.)
(Disclaimer 2: I’m not paying an editor to look through this sucker for typos, so read at your own risk.)
(Disclaimer 3: I can’t remember what this one was gonna be, but it was important.)
FRIDAY or Damn, Shrews.Â It really sucks to be you.
The alarmÂ goes off at 2:45AM, and I pop out of bed like a man who had been lying awake since two o’clock.Â That’s because IÂ am a man who’d been laying awake since that time.Â I throw on my clothes, brush my teeth, and haul my luggage out to the living room where I plan to wait for my 3AM shuttle.Â It’s about this time that the shuttle service calls to say they won’t be there until 3:30.
So, I wait, reading, until about 3:25, when I go back to kiss Shawna goodbye.Â The driver knocks on the front door as I return.
I never catch the driver’s name, but I soon decide to call him Cheech Trejo, as he sounds like the perfect cross between Cheech Marin and Danny Trejo.Â CT also has a rather annoying habit of repeating everything I say as a question.Â Example:
“So, where you goin’ today, man?”
“What’s in Baltimore?”
“A horror convention.”
“A horror convention?”
“Why you goin’ there, man?”
“Well, I’m a horror writer.”
And so it goes…
I get to the airport and get in line for the ticket counter.Â I rapidly decide I didn’t need to get to the airport at four, when the ticket counter doesn’t open until close to five.Â I’ll remember that for next year.Â I might not take a 6AM flight either.Â In retrospect, that was a crap move.
Sooner or later, I land in Atlanta and make my way to gate B30.Â My next flight is supposed shag off at 10:30, so I start reading a book: Rickard Laymon’s Blood Games.Â I must have liked it, too, because I never heard them announce the gate change for my flight.Â After sprinting down the flight deck at 10:32, I take off for Baltimore.
And our story goes off the rails.
The first thing that greets me in Baltimore is a voicemail from my roommate for the weekend, Steven Shrewsbury, AKA Shrews.Â His flight was delayed by an hour, and I’m supposed to go on to the hotel alone.Â That’s great, but since Shrews was supposed to be here before, I never wrote any of our hotel info down.Â In retrospect, that was a crap move.
About this time, Shrews calls again to say his flight has now been cancelled, and he is being rerouted through Atlanta (Hey, I was just there!).Â He should be in sometime after midnight.Â That’s a bad thing, because Shrews has a reading at 5:15 and is participating in the James Sneddon Memorial Reading at nine.Â He said he’ll try to think of something.Â He then tells me we’re at the Courtyard Marriott.
So, I head to the Super Shuttle counter and buy a ticket to the Courtyard Marriott.Â Once I arrive, however, I’ll learn that the con is actually 30 minutes away in Hunt Valley, so I have to hire a freakin’ luxury sedan to drive the thirty miles.Â My driver’s name is Anthony, he’s a DJ, and he likes zooming through the streets of Baltimore honking angrily at any pedpestrians stupid enough to get in his way.
I kinda liked Anthony.
So, I finally show up at the right hotel and walk in.Â Whoops!Â Big problem; Shrews ain’t here yet and the room is in his name.Â I decide to attempt a gambit that will never ever work.
“Hi.Â I’m staying with Steven Shrewsbury, but his flight was delayed.Â Can I check in for him?”
I was just as shcoked as you are, and that’s why I’m now just going to check in by saying I’m staying with Brian Keene at all future conventions.
Now checked in, I give Shrews a call.Â He found a flight that will put him in at 4:30… in Washington, DC… almost an hour away… on a Friday… during rush hour.
Oh, and can I find somebody to come pick him up?
Once I stop laughing, I head over to the main hotel for the con, where I quickly find Dan and Susan from message board The Other Dark Place, Paul Puglisi of the Horror News Network, Jim Moore (good hugger) and his lovely wife Bonnie (hope I got that name right), Al, Pete,Â Ron Dickie, andÂ Tomo (other board people), Horrorfind fiction editor Nikki, and Wenchie from Horror-World.Â Wenchie greats me with a hug, then shouts at me “We’re through!”Â Apparently I failed to return a few emails (which I don’t remember receiving).Â Over the weekend, I would receive several “We’re through!”s for various infractions, as well as one “We’re sooooo through!” for failing to bring her along to dinner Sunday night.
I break the news about Shrews to everybody, and Nikki offers me the keys to her car.Â Realizing this offer as the huge mistake it was, I decline.Â Instead, Pete volunteers to drive down.Â I gratefully call Shrews with the news, and Pete leaves at 3:45.
I start drinking.Â I fuggin’ deserve it.
Later, I go to dinner with most of the folks mentioned above to Carraba’s, where I eat a calimari appetizer in order to save money.Â After dinner, we have a long talk about something awful called TubGirl.Â I’m still afraid to check it out, and I would not recommend anybody else do it, either.
Back at the main hotel, I run to say “Hi” toÂ Keene and J.F. Gonzalez.Â BothÂ are in high spirits, and Brian can barely get three words in before somebody else comes up to buy a book.Â They’re set up near John Skipp, so I greet him as well.Â Skipp is a strange, mesmerizing ball of energy, one that has to be seen to be believed.
Run downstairs to the dealers room and find Tom Monteleone manning the Borderlands Press table.Â Also see Dave Barrett at the Necro Books table.Â Run into Norman Prentiss and receive another call from Shrews, who is just crossing the Potomac at 7PM or so.
Receive another call from Shrews at eight.Â They are fifteen minutes away.
Another call twenty minutes later.Â They are lost.
Finally, Shrews (sans luggage, which went to the Baltimore airport) comes running into the hotel lobby four minutes before the James Sneddon reading.Â
The reading itselfÂ goes off great, with everybody churning out incredible performances.Â Â I hearÂ a few audible sniffles in spots.Â I never met James Sneddon, but hearing the various stories about him, I really get a sense of how much I was missing out.
Okay, time to get drunk.
The night is spent in much revelry.Â Brian introduces Shrews and me to his friend Steve, who buys us several whiskeys, and Megan (no idea what that last name was) furnishes some great cigars, which I accidentally ash on the lobby carpet andÂ get escorted to the courtyard by security (Shrews got booted, too).Â After talking to Steve for a few hours and having an exhausted Jack Ketchum hug me hello on three different occassions, I stumble across the six lane highway to my hotel at 3AM.Â I promptly hit the sheets and fall asleep.
Until Shrews comes back at 3:30…
And his bags arrive at four…