ride out the storm [notes]

Unhitched chapter notes …

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Sometimes when I write, though I have yet to mention this, I like to pick a piece of literature and then sprinkle bits of it throughout a chapter. It’s not necessarily relevant, but since Cowboy was an English teacher, he’s well read and often thinks in terms of metaphors and similes, drawing comparisons between the physical world and his unending mental anguish. I have done this with The Sirens of Titan a lot, as well as the Bible, but they are both much more obvious in their inclusion.

I insert literary references for three reasons:

  1. It helps to flesh out the text and enrich it with lots of symbolism.
  2. It gives me a concrete jumping point for each chapter so I can experiment with thematic elements.
  3. It’s fun and I get to revisit famous literature. Pro tip: get public domain Kindle books on Amazon for free and search for keywords rather than doing it all by hand. I ended up buying all of Harris’ work because I couldn’t take the page flipping.

Does it make the story cumbersome? Sometimes. Does it add some confusion between chapters and an overabundance of metaphors? Absolutely. But I’m enjoying the hell out of it, and so are my readers, so that’s all that matters.

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I went with Alice in Wonderland for this chapter, not for any real parallel between the subject matter and the book, but more for fun. You can draw parallels, though, since Cowboy feels at odds with himself and is plummeting into a dark hole where he feels like he’s going crazy. There is also this disjointed nature to the chapter where you feel like you should be more horrified by what’s happening (bloody sex – ew), but for some reason, you don’t, at least that was my intent. If you were horrified, I apologize.

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I turn over to find him lecherously prowling behind me, a Jabberwock waiting to confuse and attack me with his forked tongue. He hauls me to his chest and his mouth devours me as I slay him with my own.

I’ll never fully understand his desperation when we touch. He seems trapped in an unending abstinence of carnal pleasure, forced to find his only sexual gratification in the heat of a smoke brushing his lips, or a spoon lazily dragging over his tongue – that is until he finally has me at his whim.

Calling Hero a wolf or a bear would have made more sense in the grand scheme of the story, but fuck that; I cater to no man. And besides, The Jabberwocky is a nonsensical poem by Lewis Carrol and sometimes Hero feels a little nonsensical in his logic, at least according to Cowboy. At this point in the story, Cowboy is reallyconfused, not just about his waning moral compass, but also his desires to fuck around with Hero and eat man flesh – the actual eating of human, not sucking dick. Cowboy has no qualms about sucking dick.

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His eyes don’t leave mine as I drag my hand down his other cheek until his face is as black as the shadow’s. My fingers slip across his forehead, painting down his nose until he has no face in the blackness, just two white eyes and a mouth filled with sharp teeth that smile up at me like the Cheshire Cat. His fingers are drawn to his lips as I gawk at this erotically perverse scene: a tongue bathing long, white fingers in the depths of our darkened coffin. 

So then the action starts (thank God, right?). They’re fucking around and Hero watches Cowboy paint his face with blood. Now in Alice, the gardeners are painting the white roses red while Cowboy paints Sin’s white face black with red blood. Why? Well in Alice, they are placating the temperament of the Queen. In Unhitched, they are placating both of their whims (but mainly Princess Dancy’s, hey-o!). Hero’s allowing Cowboy to reenact the kill and fully captivating his sexual desires by equating blood-lust with cock-lust. Cock-lust … just wanted to type that again.

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And then I call Hero the Cheshire Cat … a very distinctive creature with his own set of rules who is drawn to Alice when she’s feeling a bit blue. From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

The Cat only grinned when it saw Alice. It looked good-natured, she thought: still it had VERY long claws and a great many teeth, so she felt that it ought to be treated with respect. ‘Cheshire Puss,’ she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider. ‘Come, it’s pleased so far,’ thought Alice, and she went on. ‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’ ‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat. ‘I don’t much care where—’ said Alice. ‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat. ‘—so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’ Alice added as an explanation. ‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.’

I mean, come on. That IS Hero – 100% Hero in a nutshell, but also Hannibal, I might add. In my story, Cowboy is drawn to Hero’s primal nature for reasons he cannot understand. There is this stability inside Hero that he wants to grab ahold of, and there is unpredictability within Cowboy that Hero finds intoxicating and worthy of further exploration. I’ll get into all that later … perhaps when they are back in Colorado.

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photo by lipslikemorphine-xo

All I want to do is fuck this monster – I want to fuck his mouth so hard that I split his skull with a wet crack when I come. I want to expose the bloody seeds lodged inside his murderous mind. I want to hear him eat his goddamn words and beg me to show him mercy. With every thrust into him, he tightens his mouth until I can’t take it, and I fill him with my cum and whatever’s left of my integrity.

God, Cowboy, get a grip. So this was my “off with his head” rant, à la the Queen of Hearts if you can believe it! It was much more literal in the first 27 drafts. What I ended up with was a call back to Cowboy wanting to kill Hero when he was lost in the cornfield, but also it refers to the luscious tableau with rotting fruit he presented to Hero when he killed the shadow, and Hero’s head is now a metaphorical pomegranate.

I don’t know either. Don’t question my fucked up rationale.

So, Alice aside, there are a few other bits I wanted to dive into.

But if all the world’s a stage, and all the men merely players, then maybe I should feel fine, because this is my act to shine. Maybe this is my time to enter the production and add a supporting role to Hero’s wicked little performance. I’m not going to change him – I know that – but maybe I can speak to him on a more carnal level, offer a fresh perspective to this corporeal perversion of his. His life – according to him – is nothing but ecstasy; mine, nothing but tragedy. Surely it has to even out after enough exchanging of bodily fluids.

This stage bit is actually a little foreshadowing to the next chapter so I won’t ruin it, but I did find that it fits more in tune with how I, personally, feel Will would rationalize pairing himself with Hannibal (in the show). People like to think that Will just drops everything at the end of the show and falls madly in love with Hannibal and that they die together because “it’s beautiful” and they have tons of water sex and run away together. I can’t get on board with that thinking, but this is just me. While yes, they both change each other (Hannibal drops his guard, and Will can see and begin to understand Hannibal), I really don’t think it’s just love at play. I think intimacy is very much at work, sure. They are incredibly lonely individuals who are in desperate need of carnal pleasure and partnership, but I don’t see anything they do as motivated by love for each other as much as obsession and a strange possessiveness they feel toward the other. Hannibal has opened up to Will and refuses to let the object he opened up to flee or betray him, and Will feels morally obligated to keep tabs on the monstrous man he knows so incredibly intimately. Sounds like an abusive and controlling husband and his wholly devoted wife who won’t leave because “he’s only cruel when he drinks, and if I stay with him, I can make sure he doesn’t hurt anyone”. I mean sure, love – but toxic love, unhealthy love, a love that can only be accepted by Will moments before he throws them off a cliff … but love. I’m a cynic and I digress …

All this is irrelevant to my story because this is not how Hero or Cowboy behave. There is a camaraderie that is developing, absolutely, but they have a much deeper give and take of their moral codes. Hero is not quite as selfish as Hannibal and what he does is almost motivated by a self-fulfilling prophecy that he feels he can’t escape (nature), whereas Cowboy is motivated mainly by self-loathing and neglect (nurture).

I only included that long-winded quote above because of the last line: “Surely it has to even out after enough exchanging of bodily fluids.” Haha, Cowboy, you love his dick. But he does have a point. Maybe S4 Will and Hannibal will feel the same way.

Moving on to color theory …

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I had one more objective in mind when writing this chapter. I was intending to desaturate the chapter entirely (or at least stifle color in my reader’s mind) writing it in grayscale, while only alluding to a few reddish words (copper, blood, fire). I’ve been reading about and messing with reader visualizations, to see how much control an author actually has in a reader’s head. Leave a comment on AO3 if you noticed or if you think I’m being obnoxiously pretentious. I am a shameless comment whore.

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Bryan Fuller used this desaturation technique a lot in the show, using pops of red to force you to focus your attention exactly where he wants it. It’s a great visual tactic and made for amazing cinematography. There are better examples than these images, I’m just lazy. As for writing, it’s difficult to capture this feeling because readers are going to imagine their own world the way they want it, but Unhitched is so atmospheric, I was hoping to control you all like the puppets I wish you were. No one is reading this so I can say that without worrying about backlash.

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So wrapping up, Cowboy’s satiated and Hero’s thirsty (af) and they “decide” to go to Lousiana next. Whew, what a whirlwind. We’ll see in the next chapter how everyone behaves after such a gluttonous evening and maybe we can get back on the road (spoiler: no we will not).

If you enjoy my writing, please consider dropping me a comment here or, if applicable, on AO3 or by supporting my hot beverage habit on Ko-fi. Thank you!

—joanielspeak
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