Smoking With Joseph Lucido

by Michael Czyzniejewski Read the Story September 22, 2014

Everything that happens in your story, early on, seems to be the result of a run of bad luck, the worst week in this couple’s lives. Then the animal bones start piling up on the porch and the narrator hears laughing coming from the woods. I’m sitting here in my dark dining room, thunderstorms booming all around me outside, and the noises coming from my house might be the cat or they might be something else. I’m afraid to get out of my chair, let alone see what’s outside my door tomorrow. So I ask you, what the fuck?

The answer to WTF is ever elusive, Mike. But let’s reference some YouTube user comments on various renditions of “Amazing Grace” for some insight:

User Tracy Neeley says this of Whitney Houston’s live version: “I hate cocaine for taking this women for all of us.”

User Tina Thompson says this of Diana’s Ross’s version: “SING THE SONG!!!! I LOVE IT A BEAUTIFUL SONG!”

Finally, I think we can all relate to YouTube user TheNewGuy7575 when he says of Al Green’s version, “Right on!”

Right on, indeed.

When I finished reading your story, I immediately thought of David Lynch’s Eraserhead, a movie where a young man’s anxieties about fatherhood are realized through a series of horrific experiences, e.g., his little lizard baby crying nonstop, his mother-in-law playing tonsil hockey, etc. The horrors in your piece seem to be a precursor to something else, perhaps an omen. Anyway, this question is in two parts: First, did you see David Lynch’s ice bucket challenge video? If not, you should, because it’s pretty cool. Secondly, why the fuck doesn’t he make movies any more?

I watched it immediately after I read this question. I like the part where he nominated Putin and the other part when he played the trumpet. He may not make movies anymore because he’s been launching his music career. Or, maybe he is still making movies. How can we ever really know? I for one have stopped trying to really know. You know, letting myself be vulnerable to knowing and not knowing.

Does fatherhood terrify you?

More than anything, though I’m in love with the idea.

Your story also reminds me of “The School” by Donald Barthelme (whom you quote as an epigraph), how death climbs the evolutionary ladder as the story progresses. Yet, the ending is so hopeful, life begot from death. I wonder, is this a metaphor for the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals?

Close! While I find inspiration in the 2006 team, I’d say there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t find personal inner strength in the 2011 Cardinals. Game 6. I’ll never forget how sad Ron Washington looked. There are traces of Chris Carpenter in Vivian. Though there were nervous moments, nobody stepped up bigger when it mattered than Chris Carpenter. Like Carpenter, Vivian is clutch in big-life situations. You want her resolve every time.

The story ends near Christmas time. What would be the best format for the Christmas special production of this story? Would it be Claymation? Tim Burton Claymation? Live action? What actors would portray Vivian and the narrator? Horace? The naked hunger artist? I think you have a subtle Christmas classic on your hands, a movie that isn’t really about Christmas, but it’s a Christmas movie because it takes place around Christmas, so we all watch it then. Like Die Hard. Or Gremlins.

Format: Live action

Adaptation for the screen: Charlie Kaufman and David Chase

Music: The Caretaker

Vivian: Beyoncé (duh)

Narrator: James Gandolfini (I believe in his devotion to the role even in the afterlife)

Horace: Mark Wahlberg (undeniable versatility)

Naked hunger artist: Cate Blanchett (I feel like she is the type of person who’d sacrifice to help others)

The cloaked figure: Chevy Chase on the shoulders of Nicki Minaj OR while we’re at employing the deceased for this special, I’d love for Barthelme to make a cameo, you know, like a Hitchcock kinda deal.

About the Author:

Joseph Lucido is an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama where he teaches in the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Program, a program dedicated to bringing educational opportunities to prisoners in Alabama. He has work appearing or forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, apt Online, Johnny America, Cloud Rodeo, and others. He grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis.

About the Interviewer:

Michael Czyzniejewski is the editor of Moon City Press and Moon City Review. His stories have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Boulevard, Western Humanities Review, Salamander, Bull, Necessary Fiction, and Wigleaf.