Author Topic: Pseudopod 185: Charlie Harmer Looks Back  (Read 5700 times)

Bdoomed

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Pseudopod 185: Charlie Harmer Looks Back
« on: March 13, 2010, 05:16:54 PM »
Pseudopod 185: Charlie Harmer Looks Back


By Brendan Detzner
Read by Eric Luke

The boss is coming. She graciously gives me time to collect myself. We’re in some kind of a lounge; everything is upholstered with vertical stripes and there are flaming torches on the walls. The boss is not big on context, sometimes. I don’t hold it against her, she’s a busy lady.

It’s really warm in here.

The smell of sulfur fills the air and vanishes, and she’s sitting in front of me. She’s wearing a red dress. She has long, sumptuous brown hair; you want to go swimming in it, you imagine it cool against your skin like water.

“You’re staring, Charlie,” she says.

“I’m sorry, I can’t help myself. I didn’t think I’d have the chance to see you again.”

I had a regular job not too long ago but I did something I shouldn’t have and lost it. She fired me, but never got upset. She’s never all that surprised when people do things they shouldn’t.




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feste451

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Re: Pseudopod 185: Charlie Harmer Looks Back
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2010, 03:29:07 AM »
I really liked this story. On one hand I love 50's and 60's music groups so there was some familiarity with the talented singer and stopping at nothing to control that asset. On another hand, there are many interpretations of "hell" so I'm always interested in seeing how effectively an author can put his characters through their penance. But mostly, this story reminded me a lot of the ending to Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series, but where King's character had some control over his end, Charlie Harmer does not. I'm not sure the punishment fits the crime, but his future looks pretty bleak. Chilling!
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kibitzer

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Re: Pseudopod 185: Charlie Harmer Looks Back
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2010, 10:09:42 PM »
Good story. Flowed well, just about the right length. Did I infer correctly that there are more Charlie Harmer stories? If so, I guess this revealed a fair bit of back story.

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Re: Pseudopod 185: Charlie Harmer Looks Back
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2010, 11:55:36 PM »
I was entertained.  I actually didn't pick up on the mafia connection until right near the end, so well done on surprising me with that.  (And not having it be a cheap surprise, but with actual foreshadowing and everything.)  The version of hell reminds me of the old, old Ghost Rider.  (The good one.)  I enjoyed that he felt guilt not so much for the murders, but for the young innocent whose life he may or may not have destroyed.
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Sgarre1

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Re: Pseudopod 185: Charlie Harmer Looks Back
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2010, 02:54:04 AM »
Quote
Did I infer correctly that there are more Charlie Harmer stories?

I don't know if there are more stories, exactly, just that Charlie has done jobs like this before.  Perhaps Mr. Detzner will enlighten us....

Listener

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Re: Pseudopod 185: Charlie Harmer Looks Back
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2010, 12:54:13 PM »
I wasn't really affected by this story the way I think the author intended. It just didn't do it for me. I would've been more interested in Charlie's repeating of the diner scene, over and over, as his own personal hell, rather than trying to redeem the kid in the other diner by showing what happened to him in what felt to me a very overacted comic-opera fashion. Plus, we have no idea what the kid was going to do, which admittedly wasn't important to the story but I still think I needed to know so I could see if Charlie redeemed himself or not.
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eytanz

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Re: Pseudopod 185: Charlie Harmer Looks Back
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2010, 01:25:03 PM »
I'm more or less in the same boat as listener. Harmer's background felt overwraught to me; not bad, exactly, but the kind of thing I'd expect to see in a movie or television drama. Which is a problem in that it made it very hard for me to relate to him, and in a story that is in a large part about a person's regrets a lack of empathy on my part dulled the effect of the story.

Plus I'm somewhat averse to the whole trope of "tortured soul in hell now works as the devil's errant boy". Maybe it's more exciting to people who grew up in a Christian upbringing and therefore setting a story in Hell has some sort of "forbidden" aura of mystique for them. For me, it just feels silly.

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Re: Pseudopod 185: Charlie Harmer Looks Back
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2010, 02:34:56 PM »
Didn't do much for me.  The entire story is a not-very-interesting flashback as told by unknowing actors in a random diner trying to convince some anonymous third party not to do something that is never explained, and all of this at the behest of a not particularly evil-seeming devil.

brendandetzner

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Re: Pseudopod 185: Charlie Harmer Looks Back
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2010, 05:03:54 PM »
In response to the questions about this- this story is a sequel/prequel to "Charlie Harmer's Last Request", which appears in the print anthology "Book of Dead Things". It's the same book that Pseudopod 121: "Blood, Snow, and Sparrows" originally appeared in, if that rings any bells.

Also, thank you to everybody tuning in. I was really proud of this story and happy that it got to see the light of day here. Especially huge thanks to Eric Luke for an awesome performance. If you're ever in Chicago I owe you a meal.

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Re: Pseudopod 185: Charlie Harmer Looks Back
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2010, 02:41:55 PM »
I liked the device of using strangers as actors.  Had a very visual feel to it, like a stage production or a comic book, but I don't think it would have worked as well in either format.  If would definitely read the sequel, or prequel, if there is one.  Well done.

Millenium_King

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Re: Pseudopod 185: Charlie Harmer Looks Back
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2010, 09:47:48 PM »
Harmer's background felt overwraught to me; not bad, exactly, but the kind of thing I'd expect to see in a movie or television drama.

Bingo.  Could not have put it better myself.  The whole thing felt like a TV episode.

Plus I'm somewhat averse to the whole trope of "tortured soul in hell now works as the devil's errant boy". Maybe it's more exciting to people who grew up in a Christian upbringing and therefore setting a story in Hell has some sort of "forbidden" aura of mystique for them. For me, it just feels silly.

Again, you are right on the money.  From a personal standpoint, I found the whole "mean streets" theme coupled with the "blues-devil" Hell pretty lame.

From a larger perspective, the Devil is not really all that scary for one basic reason: he cares about you.  Or, at least, he cares about your soul.  No matter how bad it looks, there's at least the possibility he's willing to negotiate with you on human terms.  Being abducted by Yog-Sothoth who vivisects you no matter how loudly you scream and beg for mercy - now that's terrifying.

From a writing perspective: the word choice, diction and sentence structure were admirable enough.  However, I thought it started off vague and slow which instantly turned me off to it.
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