Tag Archives: Todd Pate

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“The Better Cowboy” – Fiction by Todd Pate

BetterCowboyThe first piece we snatched up for our Spring 2014 issue was a short story called “The Better Cowboy,” written by our good friend Todd Pate. We were quickly seduced by its mix of Western American mythology and cosmic psychological horror– we like to think of it as a bad-ass bastard spawn of Cormac McCarthy and HP Lovecraft.

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ELLIOT ROUNDED THE BEND in the dry Paria River bed and came face to face with his own shadow. He pulled the reins, stopped his horse. He’d seen his shadow all along, bouncing across the red wall of the dry riverbank as he followed the missing calf’s hoof-prints through the desert. But the bend in the river put the sun at his back. Now his shadow confronted him, stood still and clear in form but filled only with darkness. The tracks continued through his shadow and beyond but he went no further.

Instead he rode out of the river bed onto a slight hill. Standing in his stirrups, he gazed far out at the massive canyon into which the river flowed, when there was water. A shadow rose out of the giant, jagged canyon as the sun lowered and his own shadow stretched toward the abyss as if he and his horse were caught by a massive black hole. As his shadow grew longer and thinner, a heavy, dark feeling came over him. For a moment Elliot thought it could be loneliness. It was easy to be lonely out in the high desert on the Utah-Arizona border at the end of an incinerating day. Breathing, strictly voluntary. Sandblasted, sun-burnt face. Hands swollen, cracked open, stinging wherever they weren’t calloused. Nothing left to sweat out, shivering in the evening wind. Under those conditions, one could admit he’s lonely. That’d be acceptable, maybe even admirable for a cowboy.

But Elliot knew he couldn’t call it loneliness. He saw Hedges at the line shack that morning, and would see Hedges there in the evening, just like the day before, the day before that, just like all summer long. He searched for a name for the feeling until his shadow stretched to a form no longer human. He closed his eyes just before it touched the darkness of the canyon. Whatever the feeling was, he would never call it fear.

From the darkness of his mind came the high-pitched bays of a calf.

Never fear.

The calf.

When he finally opened his eyes, most of the land before him was in shadow.

No calf. Only the soft whistle of wind.

He rode away. The deep wound in the land, its bottomless darkness sucking in all earth, sound, and light to certain annihilation, would be there for Hedges tomorrow.

Maybe even the lost calf, too. Elliot didn’t care. He’d go back to the rest of the herd and do nothing until dusk. Then he’d take the twilight ride back to the line shack.

Continue reading “The Better Cowboy” – Fiction by Todd Pate

Interview With The FLAPPERHOUSE

RroseSelavyInterviewer: FLAPPERHOUSE has described itself as “Dragging the future back through the past, like a rotting donkey on a grand piano.”

FLAPPERHOUSE: Chien! Andalusia! We are un!

Interviewer: Precisely. And by “the past,” more specifically you mean circa the 1920’s?

FLAPPERHOUSE: Yes and no. Mostly yes. We do think the future should have much more futurism. But with much less fascism. We’d also like to see more surrealism, expressionism, dadaism, psychological horror, and, of course, modernism.

Interviewer: Post-modernism?

FLAPPERHOUSE: Is punk rock post-modern?

Interviewer: Is that a rhetorical question?

FLAPPERHOUSE: It wasn’t meant to be, but we’ll answer it anyway. Punk rock is kind of post-modern, right?

Interviewer:

FLAPPERHOUSE: Right. So we want to see post-modernism as long as it’s punk rock.

Interviewer: Punk rock is more of a 1970’s thing.

FLAPPERHOUSE: Technically, yes. But the 20’s were punk rock too.

Interviewer: I see. So who are some of the writers in the FLAPPERHOUSE family?

FLAPPERHOUSE:  They’re writers you should know, but probably don’t yet. They’re very good.

Interviewer: Like George Saunders?

FLAPPERHOUSE: Yes, like George Saunders, if you didn’t know him yet. We don’t have George Saunders though. We do have Todd Pate. He calls himself a “hobo journalist.” A real American vagabond. Like a 21st-Century Kerouac, only sober.

Interviewer: Kerouac was more of a 50’s guy than a 20’s guy.

FLAPPERHOUSE: Yes but he was born in the ’20s.

Interviewer: Touché.

FLAPPERHOUSE: In our Spring 2014 issue we’re gonna publish a story Todd wrote called “The Better Cowboy,” a mix of American mythology and psych-horror. A sexy, bad-ass, bastard spawn of Cormac McCarthy & HP Lovecraft. Once we’re done editing it we’ll run an enticing excerpt on our website.

Interviewer: My blood’s tingling already. Who else you got?

FLAPPERHOUSE: Jeff Laughlin. He’s a writer and musician living in Greensboro, North Carolina. Writes for YES! Weekly, Creative Loafing Charlotte, and The Awl.

Interviewer: I know The Awl!

FLAPPERHOUSE: Jeff wrote their obituaries for Leslie Nielsen and David Markson, among other things.

Interviewer: I remember those obituaries! Two of the best obituaries I ever read.

FLAPPERHOUSE: Damn right they were. Well, Jeff’s also a fantastic poet, and our Spring ’14 issue will feature work from his collection Alcoholics Are Sick People. It’s a dark yet tender exploration of the forces that drive us to drink. It’s also kinda funny sometimes.

Interviewer: Sounds poignant.

FLAPPERHOUSE: It is. Touching, even.

Interviewer: Indeed. Any more FLAPPERHOUSE writers you can tell us about?

FLAPPERHOUSE: We’ve heard rumors that we may publish a brand new tale by Cameron Suey, a rising star in horror and dark fantasy fiction.

Interviewer: Rising where?

FLAPPERHOUSE: All over. In the past couple years his stories have appeared in Pseudopod, No Monsters Allowed, Mad Scientist Journal, and in anthologies published by Hazardous Press and Cruentus Libri.

Interviewer: My, how prolific.

FLAPPERHOUSE: Dude’s like the next Stephen King, but with much tighter prose.

Interviewer: And that’s all?

FLAPPERHOUSE: What do you mean, “That’s all?” That was intended as very high praise.

Interviewer: I meant, is that all the writers you can tell us about for now?

FLAPPERHOUSE: Oh yes, that’s correct.

Interviewer: You know for a magazine called FLAPPERHOUSE you don’t seem to have a lot of women on board. Or any.

FLAPPERHOUSE: Yeah we know. We’re working on it.