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Author Topic: Pseudopod 335: Charlie Harmer’s Day Off  (Read 3317 times)
Bdoomed
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« on: May 25, 2013, 04:05:04 AM »

Pseudopod 335: Charlie Harmer’s Day Off

by Brendan Detzner

While “Charlie Harmer’s Day Off” is appearing for the first time in Pseudopod, there are other stories featuring the character: “Charlie Harmer Looks Back” also appeared on Pseudopod and “Charlie Harmer’s Last Request” appeared in the BOOK OF DEAD THINGS anthology from Twilight Tales, which is available on Amazon and other fine booksellers.

BRENDAN DETZNER lives, works, and writes in Chicago, where he frequently shows his face at several local reading series, and also runs his own, Bad Grammar Theater, which takes place the second Friday of every month as part of the Chicago Arts District 2nd Friday event. He also has a often-monthly podcast also called Bad Grammar and a short story collection called SCARE RESOURCES available for sale. You can keep track of what he’s up to by liking “Brendan Detzner (author)” on Facebook and checking out his web page at Brendan Detzner.

Your reader this week - Eric Luke - has a horror audiobook, INTERFERENCE, available for free on iTunes. “It’s an audiobook… about an audiobook. That kills. Just click PLAY.”


“A ghost is a dead person with a job. When you’re alive, you split your time. You work, you sleep. When you’re dead, the line gets blurrier. You switch between one and the other quickly, or do both at once. You lose track of time a lot.

There are similarities. I still have a boss. I don’t know much about her, I have no clear memory of ever meeting her for the first time. She has long brown hair.

A few days after my conversation with Darius, the boss calls a staff meeting. We meet in the Orange Room. The gang’s all here. Neil from the laundromat. The bloody torso. The asshole with no skin that no one takes seriously. (The torso is literal, the asshole is figurative.) The little girl who never talks. Others. Somehow the table is as long as it needs to be to fit everyone and no longer.

The brunette is the last to arrive. She looks tired. She never looks tired. She glances to her side before she says anything. She’s nervous. That’s not right either.

The skinless asshole is sitting in the privileged place to her right.

He’s wearing a tuxedo, his white collar stained by the blood and pus dripping down from his face. His name’s Gary. He’s got three names like all the bullshit serial killers have three names.

‘We’re going to make some changes,’ the boss says, and she sounds guilty.

She explains. I’m working for Gary now. Not just me. Lots of us.”




PLEASE HELP PSEUDOPOD AND ANSWER A VERY SHORT DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEY AT THIS LINK. IT WILL HELP US IMMEASURABLY! and thank you!

SURVEY



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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schizoTypal
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« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2013, 03:27:07 PM »

I loved the story, but one part stood out to me more than the rest. Charlie's feelings toward the other main character because of his hate aimed at his ex-girlfriend's future-husband. It touched me, and I felt the anger that Charlie felt. I absolutely loved the writing style, the narration, and of course Mr. Stewart's intro and outro were eloquent as always. Well done.
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Unblinking
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« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2013, 07:19:10 AM »

I don't get it, at least the ending sequence.  Up until then it seemed like I understood what was happening, this ghost hanging out Darius, but from the point when Charlie was forced to take Darius's body I didn't get it.  It seemed that Darius was haunted by whatever he experienced but did it ever reveal what that was?  Did he take over his ex's fiancee's body?  I'm not really sure.  In any case, it seemed like Charlie himself was a complete non-entity in the story other than having someone for Darius to complain to.
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flintknapper
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« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2013, 10:11:13 AM »

I also had a hard time wrapping my brain around this one a little. I think it might have been a bit better if I had known what the consequences were, but that is kind of the point.

Also is this hell? I mean at one point he seemed like he went there. However, I got the notion more of purgatory.

In some ways the story reminded me of in the Garden of Hanging Trees. That being said, I enjoyed that story more as it was much more self-evident at the end.

This was not a bad story and I may have missed some critical details. I may get more out of this one if I sit down and read the short story.

Also as far as the narration goes, I thought it was good. It reminded me of the narrator in the Alan Wake game series. It was almost a bit twilight zone-ish.

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adrianh
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« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2013, 01:27:27 PM »

For what it's worth my reading of the story is that it's Charlie who is tempted and punished - not Darius (Well - kinda not Darius. He does get a nice slice of torture - but it's only to hurt Charlie). The side-plot with the ex's fiancee is just misdirection on the author's part to make us think Darius is the one being setup for the fall.

Charlie is in "hell". He's supposed to be being punished for whatever unspecified bad things he did while alive.

But he's found a friend in Darius. A friend who nudges his conscience. He even rebels and quits from being the checkout dude in Faustian Bargains Inc. And the normal hellish tortures don't work very well on the dead and the damned.

So - what does Gary our friendly middle-manager do?

He tempts Charlie.

He tempts Charlie with another chance at life by swapping with Darius.Even though Charlie says no, he thinks yes and gets the swap.

When he swaps back he gets a few seconds of what Darius has been through - just to let him know that while Charlie has been snarfing burgers and walking in the rain Darius has been tortured for who knows how long in subjective time.

So - Charlie punished and broken. Friendship destroyed. The End.

Chipper little story Wink

Loved the narration and writing in this one.
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flintknapper
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« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2013, 05:08:36 PM »

Thank you for the clarification Adrian. I guess I hadnt got that Darius was tortured, but that makes sense. I guess I was imagining that he was making the deals for souls like he did selling records... I know probably not my finest moment in comprehension.

I also almost wondered if Charlie had gone through a similar situation to the one between Darius and the woman. Charlie kind of mentions something about the how silly darius was being at one point and I almost thought he was talking from experience.


I think I need to relisten to this one or sit down and read.
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adrianh
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« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2013, 04:05:15 AM »

Quote
Thank you for the clarification Adrian

Do remember that I could be talking out of my hat! It was just my take away - doesn't make it right ;-)
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Unblinking
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« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2013, 09:12:23 AM »

Quote
Thank you for the clarification Adrian

Do remember that I could be talking out of my hat! It was just my take away - doesn't make it right ;-)

It makes more sense than anything that I understood, so until something better comes along I'll guess that you're right!
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Uncanny Valley
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« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2013, 11:09:44 AM »

Quote
Thank you for the clarification Adrian

Do remember that I could be talking out of my hat! It was just my take away - doesn't make it right ;-)

That's exactly how I figured it.  That's why he flashed back at the very end with little varmints chewing on his insides.  That was a little taste of what Darius went through.  I really liked this one, and I could listen to Eric Luke read the phone book.
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Kaa
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« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2013, 01:13:07 PM »

I don't get it, at least the ending sequence.  Up until then it seemed like I understood what was happening, this ghost hanging out Darius, but from the point when Charlie was forced to take Darius's body I didn't get it.  It seemed that Darius was haunted by whatever he experienced but did it ever reveal what that was?  Did he take over his ex's fiancee's body?  I'm not really sure.  In any case, it seemed like Charlie himself was a complete non-entity in the story other than having someone for Darius to complain to.

Yeah. What Unblinking said.

I read adrianh's explanation, and yeah, it makes as much sense as anything, but what I took away from this story is that Hell is unpleasant and bad. Which . . . I guess, sure.
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« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2013, 05:52:15 PM »

I don't get it, at least the ending sequence.  Up until then it seemed like I understood what was happening, this ghost hanging out Darius, but from the point when Charlie was forced to take Darius's body I didn't get it.  It seemed that Darius was haunted by whatever he experienced but did it ever reveal what that was?  Did he take over his ex's fiancee's body?  I'm not really sure.  In any case, it seemed like Charlie himself was a complete non-entity in the story other than having someone for Darius to complain to.

Yeah. What Unblinking said.

I read adrianh's explanation, and yeah, it makes as much sense as anything, but what I took away from this story is that Hell is unpleasant and bad. Which . . . I guess, sure.

I'm riding this train. I enjoyed the tale up to the end; well written, good voice, interested situation. But the end left me scratching my head. I appreciate Adrian's take on it, and I think it's probably pretty close to accurate.

The setup reminded of that show on Adult Swim, Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell. That has Hell setup like a cubical office with each "employee" assigned to demonic tasks. This is a similar idea.

Still, the ending could have been a little more clear. Maybe I could be a little less dense...
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brendandetzner
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« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2013, 11:05:10 PM »

Hey everybody, this is Brendan. Just wanted to check in real quick now that my time in the spotlight is wrapping up. Thanks to everybody who took the time to listen, the staff at Escape Artists, and to Eric Luke for hitting it out of the park a second time. Pseudopod is one of my favorite venues to appear in and this has been a huge pleasure.
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Unblinking
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« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2013, 09:39:49 AM »

Hey everybody, this is Brendan. Just wanted to check in real quick now that my time in the spotlight is wrapping up. Thanks to everybody who took the time to listen, the staff at Escape Artists, and to Eric Luke for hitting it out of the park a second time. Pseudopod is one of my favorite venues to appear in and this has been a huge pleasure.

Welcome, Brendan!  I always like to see the author stop by.  Smiley
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brendandetzner
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« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2013, 07:58:10 PM »

My pleasure. I've been lurking compulsively all week, it seemed rude not to say anything.
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schizoTypal
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« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2013, 08:43:29 PM »

It's always really nice to hear from the writer after hearing their stories!
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evrgrn_monster
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« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2013, 05:46:28 PM »

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I always know Psuedopod has done a good job when the music plays and all I can do is sigh a four letter word out and go eat a brownie.

I do agree with the rest of the commenters that the portion about the trade-off was a bit confusing. I didn't quite understand what the gamblers would be getting out of the deal, so that whole section was lost to me. What I did get was Charlie's punishment. It was poignant and perfectly executed. The build up, Charlie and Darius' strange ghost pal relationship, was a joy to listen to, which made it hurt when you knew, because of Charlie, it was gone. Character descriptions were also quite good, at times grossly so (I just imagined Gary as a blood fountain, which made the Japanese-style gore part of my brain happy).

Overall, though, positive reviews from this listener! Would love some more stories about the sad Mr. Harmer. 
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