Updated: Jan 21, 2019
Unkillable Joe: Foreword
Last Updated: 1/21/19
I started writing Unkillable Joe in the Spring of 2017. It was a horrible year for me. Actually, most of my years walking this rock have been pretty awful, all things considered.
I’m hesitant to use the phrase “suicide survivor,” as it implies a well-fought victory over some unseen foe but ever since I was a little boy, I’ve felt the hand of finality resting on my shoulder. In retrospect, I should have been excited to enter this wonderful world, rather than being so fixated on leaving it. Everything just seemed to be so much effort for such a little reward. Above all things, I’ve always craved the silent, black sleep of the nothing beyond and a break from the constant noise.
The song that’s playing is all wrong for this. It should be sadder . . .
There we go. Nice and mopey.
Now, where was I?
Oh, right. I’ve been a sad sack of a human for some time, but I wore the skin of a class clown to cover up my inherent misery.
If I was being honest, I’d tell you that I truly detest most things.
So, as is natural with anyone who hates the sight of their own face, I’ve lived several lives in pursuit of one I might loathe the least.
Willing to accept any fate but one splashed with the tacky perfume of normalcy, I sought out the darkest and lowest of places. I’ve rubbed shoulders with the very worst of humanity and lain next to absolute goddesses. These knuckles wear the scars of my many adventures and I’m intimate with the sensation from both ends of the knife. This tired body has imbibed enough booze to drown a small town and taken enough narcotics to revive a mummified pharaoh. From the back of a howling Harley Davidson, I’ve cheated death more times than Grim would care to admit and my name is spoken in circles that would otherwise have nothing to do with each other.
In short—I’ve ripped shit up.
My story has been a rough-and-tumble romp through poverty, violence, sex and everything in between. All shades of awful and/or interesting are represented in my gaze.
Yet, with every life I’ve traversed and each face discarded, only my eyes remain the constant. They may change from a jade green to a more honest grey blue at times, but since they’ve witnessed each aspect of my ride, I cannot fool them.
I left the armpit of South Florida like a demon chased from Hell. I abandoned my precious bike, my girl, and my family in the hopes of outrunning the tsunami of truth I knew would eventually come crashing down atop my head. The odds of total disaster increased with each moment I lingered, so I gave five hundred bucks to the mechanically-ignorant dominatrix I was living with at the time in exchange for her dented-up Crown Vic and drove it at top speed until at last, I smacked head-first into the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I figured if I wanted to keep myself from sinking any further, then elevation was the simplest answer.
I spent the first couple years in this strange state being kicked from one situation to the next like a deflated soccer ball in a muddy pigpen. Life went from bad to worse, then slipped further downhill from there. I refused to go back to what many people would consider my “home” on the hang-down of America (despite the fact that I’m originally from Upstate New York) because although I had plenty of friends back in Flalala, I basically said my goodbyes in such a way that it would make for an extremely embarrassing return in defeat. I left to become a writer—to find myself—and by the gods, I was going to do just that (or die trying). This was the fourth quarter of my life, so I said fuck it and let the Hail Mary fly while I kept a loaded handgun under my pillow. . . just in case.
At first, I started off writing short stories. I wrote a couple thousand words per day. Living out of the old cop-car for the first six months, there was plenty of time at night to scribble in the back seat (which kept my mind off the cold). I took whatever handyman or security jobs I could find and fixed furnaces throughout my first winter in order to keep the food supply coming in.
Eventually, a couple freelance writing gigs came my way that brought in a little extra scratch. My readership (who I’ve always referred to as, “the loyal three”) was small but active. From there, I wanted to write for comics, so I teamed up with various artists and put my first few stories into motion. Working with many artists at that level was a lot like herding cats, so I cycled through my lineup until the standouts started to reveal themselves. After I finally got that bouncy-ball rolling, I was able to attract more pencils and at one point, had as many as eight comics in early stages of production. About that time, I’m pretty sure I passed the 200+ short story mark and was writing monthly for four freelance clients who all seemed happy with my work.
Although my life (and relationships) have always been the soupiest of shit, the writing was on an upward trajectory since the moment I pecked my first sentence with the intention of posting it. Sure, I’ve hit many, many bumps in the road. As a matter in fact, almost all my comic artists have at one point quit (or were let go by me). Things went on like this for a little while until an author I had just met on a Q&A panel made the off-color comment that a real writer would be completing novels. This was news to me. Of course, he touched one of my overly-sensitive nerves, so I began writing Unkillable Joe the very next day.
Loud blast-beats from the speakers of a disrespectful roommate shook the walls of the 10’x10’ cell-like room (I had overpaid for) while I furiously jabbed at the keyboard. I was determined to conjure a great tale from the depths of my inner-ass and I wasn’t about to let something silly like an unhappy living situation stand in my way. I had no idea how to craft a story of this scope but I figured since I could knock out shorts like nobody’s business, then writing an entire book would just be more of the same. Now, I know that is like the difference between bench-pressing 300lbs and wrestling a 300lb bear.
I had no idea what I wanted the book to be about, but I knew it needed to tackle issues of self-loathing all while keeping the main story a short, punchy read that entertained the reader along the way. I thought it should be self-aware and I felt drawn to the idea of telling the tale from the narrative. As my swarm of haters had grown by this point, I felt Unkillable Joe should also speak for them and by the end, I wanted to come to grips with many of the aspects of me that I’ve always disliked.
As a man who’s lived his life with one foot in and one foot out, it was important that I finally. . . shook it all about.
Couldn’t help it.
My point to this scattered rant is that I was thirty-five years old before I finally found my thing, and it wasn’t for lack of searching. Thirty-five years of bullshit to finally get to a point where I could have a measure of peace. You could say, I’ve lived out a full-sentence before I got to the stage where I could wake up each day without the aid of an alarm clock. Before I wanted to live the healthy life—to prolong it. Not for any other reason than to accrue as much time as possible so I could chase this sexy dragon as far as she was willing to let me. . .
That being said, at times, I’m still introverted and abrasive. Many people still consider me to be too harsh and I have yet to master the idea of love for another human being. In my defense, I can say this much: I dearly love my life and every second is a chance to create these new worlds I’m always so giddy to explore. To me, the disappointment of childhood and my many failures as a young adult have all been justified, since they are now the key ingredients in this fantastic stew I can’t stop eating.
So, if you’re just floating along in space, powered by nothing but your own farts (as I was) then you need to understand that opportunities are out there for you. Before you swallow those pills, or pull that trigger, or kick that stool, (or whatever the popular methods are these days) you owe it to not only yourself, but to the legions of folks you could someday touch if you only pursued just one thing with a thousand percent of your willpower and effort. Before you go, hunt something ridiculous down. Make it your everyday life. Make it your business. Make it your identity. Become the thing you want. Your favorite thing. Make a splash. Get mean. Refuse to give in. Pound the door of success until your hands are so bloody, the universe has no choice but to open up out of revulsion.
Earn your happiness.
Make your story interesting.
Fight for it like you’ve never fought for anything else before.
Maybe you never have?
Just try it.
Time flies faster than you think, so there’s no point in rushing things.
Besides, if that elusive goal is at last captured, you can ride the wake of enlightenment right past death while you’re granted the only true form of immortality. If nothing else, it’s worth a shot.
The old legends are being taken by time no matter what, so we’ll need new ones.
Since you nearly gave up already, what do you have to lose?
It’s all borrowed time at this point anyway. Perfect conditions for an experiment.
One last Hail-Mary to greatness.
The harder the journey, the sweeter the air on the other side. (Trust me on that.)
Whatever you might take away from me or my writing, it should be this:
Don’t give up.