NB: After we went to press, we received this brief piece from our regular columnist Tom Piccirilli. Please enjoy it as a website exclusive. We will be bringing his column back later this year.
What your day is like: your friends and fans are extremely generous and keep sending books and DVDs. You spend your late morning watching horror or noir flicks or reading the instruction booklet for your new Blu-Ray player. Halfway through the second film a weight descends across your shoulders. It takes a moment to realize you’re caught in the current of a wave of despair. You’re thinking of bucket lists, horrifically aware that you’re wasting time. But you don’t know what to do to change that. You kill time, and time is killing you. Your scalp scars sting and itch and tickle. You should be traveling or having long intense talks about life and death with your closest friends. Or serving food at homeless shelters and orphanages. You don’t know how long you’ve got left to do the right thing, to leave your mark, to leave behind a good impression on the world. Or any impression at all. I should be seeking answers to my last burning questions, whatever they might be.
Do you know the answers? Or the questions? If so, give ‘em up. For a guy with a divot in his forebrain the size of a handball, I can still slap the shit out of you.
You consider everything more carefully. Is this book worth the time? Two hours drifting out of reach, as I’m set adrift. What’s this movie? Gore from Space? Jesus Christ, Gerard Houarner, or maybe it was Ed Lee, have as funky a taste in movies as I usually do. But how much funk is too much when you can watch a classic or a goof-fest? You think different things from moment to moment. My head’s unruly.
You look at snow differently. As it falls, as it hits the ground. I put my hand out and touch the snowflakes like a child, with wonder. I wonder if I’ll see summer. I wonder if I’ll see Christmas. Maybe it’s foolish or silly, but if you want the truth I’ll give you the truth, no matter how it makes me look or feel.
I just finished my Edgar Award speech on the off-chance my short story “The Void It Often Brings With It” should win. I probably shouldn’t care about something so shallow, but I do. Is that just my normal aspirations, or is it the worst of my average human self? What keeps you out of heaven? What sends you to hell? How big a sin is too big? Or big enough?
Here, have a laugh:
Howdy, it’s so nice to see you all here tonight. You all look lovely. I wish I could have attended the banquet to thank all you generous folks for your donations, your get well cards and emails, all of which have been keeping this little engine who could running on the rails. And for you people who didn’t send any hard cash, cards, or email regards, don’t worry. I know who you are and I’m currently working out where you all live. I know how to hold a grudge. Is that wasted time for a guy with brain cancer? I’m Sicilian, so I’m going to say no. Just read “Void.” Some of it’s true. I won’t day which parts. It would ruin the surprise when you get home and find me digging through your drawers and cupboards.
But I suppose I should get around to thanking some people instead of just threatening you with burglary and the thought of my trying on all your sexy clothes while you’re out. Wasn’t that implied? Thanks to Janet Hutchings for publishing the piece and for daring to read this speech. Thanks greatly to the other nominees for losing with so much more grace than I would have and for their talents and craftsmanship, which, along with the skills of everyone else in this room, drive me forward with inspiration and all-consuming jealousy each day.
And lest you think I’m merely a facecious guinea, look how noble I am: I’d like to dedicate this Edgar Award to my friend and fellow cancer-battler Ed Gorman. If you get a chance, please send up a prayer for Ed, and if you’ve any sympathy left in your heart afterwards, use it when you get home and discover me wearing your favorite bathing suit. Now sit back and bask in the glow of my quiet dignity.
To the judges, thank you deeply and humbly for this honor, and my sincerest regards–
Tom Piccirilli 4/22/13