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Author Topic: PC086: Tio Gilberto and the Twenty-Seven Ghosts  (Read 16119 times)
DKT
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« on: January 12, 2010, 07:32:55 AM »

PodCastle 86: Tio Gilberto and the Twenty-Seven Ghosts

By Ben Francisco
Read by Brian Lieberman

Originally appeared in Realms of Fantasy

Before I can even ring, Uncle Gilberto opens the door and gives me a
big hug and a kiss that smells of gin and menthol cigarettes.  His
dog, Ganymede, barks and snuggles his head between my legs.  The cat
eyes me suspiciously from the next room.  From behind me, someone
helps me slip off my jacket.  I look over my shoulder, but nobody’s
there.  “Who’s that?” I ask my uncle.

“That’s Daniel,” he says.

“Hey, Daniel,” I say.  “Been a while.”

Gilberto shakes a finger at the air behind me.  “No, you cannot also
take his shirt!  I told you to behave.”  Uncle Gil throws both hands
into the air.  “Dios mío, what have I done?  Bringing my innocent
nephew into a house with twenty-seven horny ghosts.  Qué barbaridad.
You tell me right away if any of them try anything, me entiendes,
James?”


Rated R: Contains Love, Ghosts, and San Francisco
« Last Edit: January 26, 2010, 11:05:17 AM by Heradel » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2010, 09:22:28 AM »

Bdoomed sounds great as a reader!
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Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast
Bdoomed
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« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2010, 05:57:36 PM »

Cheesy
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ridiculouslee
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« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2010, 06:10:24 PM »

I'd slay any dragon, fight any ogre, summon any demon, or go on any perilous journey sooner than I'd put my self at risk again and have to go through the horrible anxiety of waiting for my doctor to give me a clean bill of health. The way this story ended upset me so much at first, but I think I see the intentions behind it and appreciate it. It's beautifully written, and beautifully read. Just listen to your tio, chicos. ALWAYS wear a parachute.
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Long Doggie
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« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2010, 07:00:13 PM »

This is a great story with a great reader.  I don't know if it was meant as a cautionary tale, but I can say it could almost have been written about my life around the same age as the protagonist.  My name also happens to be James.  The moral for me is that "love" can make you stupid, which can lead to consequences that last long after the boyfriend is history.

My only criticism is that the ghosts were all into show tunes.  At least they weren't opera queens, so I guess it could have been worse.  With 27 of them, you'd think a few would be into football or something not stereotypically gay.  It was kind of funny I must say.

Brian has an incredibly sexy voice by the way.  Yum.
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Talia
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« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2010, 10:26:06 PM »

I'm liking the story so far, but I had to stop because I cant make out a couple of the words - couldn't find a copy of the story online (my google fu is weak?) - can anyone tell me, or if I'm hearing it right explain to me what it means, when the protagonist goes, "the second answer is that Gilberto's washer and dryer are not ______"? it SOUNDS like "staffed by casts" or "staffed by cats" (heh).

thanks...
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Bdoomed
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« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2010, 10:46:58 PM »

staffed by kasper. Tongue
my bad, but again I did it kinda rushed
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Talia
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« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2010, 10:48:11 PM »

Oooh. No that makes a ton of sense,  I just .. forgot the one guy's name was Kasper. Or.. something.

Thanks :p
« Last Edit: January 12, 2010, 10:49:44 PM by Talia » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2010, 12:18:39 AM »

OK, finished. Yep, great story. I enjoy the concept of ghosts as .. almost comforting figures, as friends, rather than figures of abject fear as most commonly portrayed.

Would kinda liked to have known how the test came out, but I guess that would be too.. something, and the point was to leave that air of uncertainty at the end. Like his life is all up in the air, but at least his uncle's ghost buddies have his back.. heh. :p

And yes, great reading man. My hearing is not so good, which probably contributed to me not getting that one part.. sorry bout that.
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


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« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2010, 10:14:45 AM »

Great reading!  Grin

Shitty recording.  Sad

Story... meh. Undecided  "Boy meets boy; boy loses boy; boy gets AIDS."  I didn't see that the ghosts were integral to the story, so the fantasy element seemed tacked-on.  This same story could have been told without them.


...oh, this would be the story that needed a reader who could pronounce Spanish, right?
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Talia
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« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2010, 10:38:04 AM »

Great reading!  Grin

Shitty recording.  Sad

Story... meh. Undecided  "Boy meets boy; boy loses boy; boy gets AIDS."  I didn't see that the ghosts were integral to the story, so the fantasy element seemed tacked-on.  This same story could have been told without them.


...oh, this would be the story that needed a reader who could pronounce Spanish, right?

Ultimately the ghosts were the reason he and and the other guy broke up, so I do kinda think they were integral to the story.
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« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2010, 04:35:15 PM »

I loved the reading of this story and the story itself was good. I wish that the SanFran had been a little more SanFran-y, to contrast it a little more with New York and create more of an "other" space for James where love can happen and so can ghosts.

The line about not knowing how many layers to wear in SF was absolutely perfect.

I thought the ghosts were good too. 27 people trapped in this world because of tragic death--of course they do the same things over and over.
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Gia
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« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2010, 06:53:59 PM »

I didn't see that the ghosts were integral to the story, so the fantasy element seemed tacked-on.  This same story could have been told without them.

I have to agree with that. If you took out the ghosts and replaced "Tio Gilberto lives with ghosts" with "Tio Gilberto is merely concerned and cautious" you would end up with the same thing: James and his boyfriend having sex . . . again . . . and again . . . and again.
I didn't exactly find this story thrilling.
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DKT
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« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2010, 11:37:41 AM »

"Boy meets boy; boy loses boy; boy gets AIDS." 

*snip*

...oh, this would be the story that needed a reader who could pronounce Spanish, right?

Yes, this is that story Smiley

FTR, the story's intentionally ambiguous at the end as to whether or not James has AIDS.
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stePH
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« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2010, 01:09:08 PM »

FTR, the story's intentionally ambiguous at the end as to whether or not James has AIDS.

I understand that the story doesn't share the test results with the reader -- but if Uncle Bert's early admonishments to always wear a condom, followed by Casper talking James into going it bareback, isn't "hanging a gun on the wall", then I don't know what is.
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« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2010, 01:31:15 PM »

Oh, there's no question that all that stuff for the metaphorical gun is there. And it definitely goes off. IMO, what the results of that are are ambiguous and could be interpreted in several ways. For me, the ambiguity of the ending, the dread of waiting to find out if you have that clean bill of health or not (as ridiculouslee said earlier) is much more powerful than definitively learning whether he'd contracted AIDS or not. So when the so-called gun goes off and I'm left filled with a sense of dread and uncertainty instead of knowing for sure, well, that's some master marksmanship. (Again, all IMO.)

That said, I think your interpretation is completely valid. I was just trying to point out is that it's not necessarily the only one.
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Katie
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« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2010, 06:15:19 PM »

I almost didn't listen to this one because I tend to find ghost stories either boring or way too scary, (because I sort of believe in them). But I'm glad I did -- it's one of my favorite PC stories so far. On the craft side, it's extremely well written with so many lines that left me jaw-dropped with their casual poetry. And on the story side, I thought it was such a sideways and sly way to mythologize the horrors and sadness of the AIDS epidemic in the US in the 80's.

My favorite moment was when Gilberto was describing his house, and how it had been bought by so many men full of love and life, and how now it was just him and the ghosts. Tying in that past with the current present of what it feels like to be in love, and how it feels to have that love not be a true thing, was just, well, haunting, to echo the outro. Well done. Well done.

Wonderful reading, as well.     

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« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2010, 08:12:25 AM »

Fantastic!  Thank you, Pod Castle, thank you Brian for the fantastic reading, and thank you Mr. Francisco for giving us a story a gay character that I could hang my hat on.

For once, HIV/AIDS was a maguffin in a gay romance and not the central player.  Here we have a story about a man's first true romance set against the backdrop of a generation gap in his family.  The differences between the gay men of the 1970s and those coming up, now, are very, very different.  As a former reporter for a GLBT newspaper, this is exactly the sort of thing I covered in my stories.  To see it expertly woven into the narrative was nicely done.  The fine touches of detail contrasting the community of "old queens" of community builders from the hey-day of San Fransisco's 70's Mecca to today's diaspora of gym bunnies and much more accepted (although still reviled in many quarters) gay culture was excellent.  To set a coming-of-age tale against that was lovely and heart-breaking.  As mentioned in the outro, it may sound cliche when said, but it was beautifully "haunting".

The ghosts, of course, were both literal and allegorical.  I have met men from that day.  They are surrounded by the ghosts of the friends they lost to AIDS during the 80s.  For them, too, there are many "Another Suitcase, Another Town" nights.  Those ghosts drive them in their actions just like they drive the younger generation, today whether they like it or not.  The generation of James and Casper live in the shadow of the Stonewall generation, the Pride generation, and -later- the AIDS generation.  Heck, they live in the shadow of the Mattachine and Bilitis Generation even if they've forgotten them.  The upshot of it all is that they're finding their own identity at the same time they're finding their feet, discovering college-age sex, having their first relationships, and trying to figure out what it means to be a part of this subculture that gets re-written every few years.  The past looms over them -the ghosts, as it were- even while they try to ignore it.

In the end, while dire and leaving me wanting to know if James is HIV+ or not, that's not the point of the story.  The tale is slice-of-life showing a young man in that magical summer where he experiences his first love, navigates the differences between generations, and finds himself.  The ghosts were crucial in that:  intangible, ever-present, and -again- haunting.

I remember my first relationship:  that's what this story did to me.  It made me long for that first heartbreak in the same way you pull off an annoying scab.  Would I really go back and suffer through it again?  No, of course not.  But there was a magic in that time when I flew across the country on borrowed money to meet a man I'd fallen for.  It lasted longer than 6 weeks.

"Tio Gilberto and the Twenty-Seven Ghosts" is a brilliant example of coming-of-age in the shadows of ghosts:  ghosts of different generations, ghosts of the past, and ghosts of trepidation and an unknown future.  I've listened to it twice, now, and will -again- many more times.

Thank you, PodCastle, for one of the very, very best!

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)
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« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2010, 10:28:17 AM »

I enjoyed the joke about people not liking their realism with magic.

I always enjoy a bit of magical realism in my stories, it's a great tool for telling history.  It was seen here to show how the AIDS epidemic left its mark on gay culture, as Sylvian explained better than i could.

My mom was a pretty big hippi and went into the 80's with lots of gay friends.  She was honestly shocked when I told her that I didn't know anyone with HIV or AIDS.  To her mind it's still this ever present threat looming and every social circle has at least one member.
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Bdoomed
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« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2010, 12:50:33 PM »

I also loved the magical realism joke, especially because of the Hispanic angle Smiley
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