206: Penny Incompatible by Errick Nunnally
Thanks. Hi, I'm Tanya Thompson creator and executive producer of night. Light a horror podcast, featuring creepy tales from black writers all over the world this week. We have a story from, Eric Nunnelee. It reminds me a little bit of Edgar Allan Poe's, tale hill, heart, but such a unique take that it's almost completely different. I also interviewed Eric so make sure you stay tuned after the story. He was a great conversationalist, and I can't wait to have him on future episodes. Before we get started, though, I want to thank our newest patron Christopher and I'd also like to thank Georgia MacKenzie who was our narrator for the last two episodes of the Percival's who donated both of her fees for both episodes to the podcast. So I wanted to thank her so so much for that. I really appreciate that Georgia. So sit back turn out the lights and enjoy penny incompatible by Eric Nunnelee. Penny stepped off the bus onto a street as familiar as her own two feet. Sheet lead the concrete and ask for carrying thick sent of innocent a heady mix things. Discard. As a child. She found many carcass while playing in a band, and lots or unkempt backyards, she imagined that the summer, smell was all the dead creatures baking, in the sun and felt shamed. It was the first time such a dark thought pass through remind. What would her mother think or past Matthews for that matter, much later? She learned that it was the stench of dogs, not walked animals, leash to small plot of land for the entirety of their lives. It was the smell that tingled in her nose when the bus transitioned from north to south in the city smelled like home in spite of the years and cosmetic changes spirit of the neighborhood in doer. A possession that began in the nineteen seventies and continue to drive roots deeper every day game as ever a circle of wayward boys held court in the light of a twenty four hour store. She watched one of them for half a container of juice into the gutter before turning his back to top it off something else. There was a time she would have marched right up to the young man called out his baby decades before her time adults called the buses the jungle line. A reference, she didn't understand the neighborhood was a mix of triple double Deckers yards. Sibol ARC's schools churches, going to stores and not much else to her young mind. This part of the city barely three stories high. Hardly seemed like jungle now she understood the bitter shame recognize that the area had settled well into its defined role. The square's location served as a hard stop between two. Boston's most Ikot neighborhoods. She remembered that the Jews had lived here before the blacks arrived all the triple Deckers had a little masseuses nailed to each doorway, all since removed and defy her older brother had removed the last one in their childhood home exclaiming when he did there's a paper inside with secret words, then he rushed to comb, the house for more finding nothing but the shadows as the neighborhoods suffered the red lining, pivot. So went the remnants of one abused culture, moving a few rungs above another on television, and in movies. The death of childhood was often depicted as the burden of heartbreaking responsibility. Penny understood that for the first time in came clear that she played on the team that carried the impossible for Jilani of America's ruling class aching for the weekend when she could cross the square and take a long. Walk along river street to the park. She headed the opposite direction of the hill along the way she contained to think that maybe putting your bare feet in the sprinklers, and sitting for a while was a very good idea. The few blocks to the farmers warehouse, Madame pens, perennial market or blessedly empty the market sat right off the square. Everyone's kidded worked at the store. Bagging, groceries or stock, in the shelves working register even her son had worked there in his early teens years ago when he was still fresh, and sweet a small chain bought the store out. But they hadn't changed the original name in her mind or the smell because nothing really changed any more not sense acclimation to the passage of the Civil Rights Act, new buses repainted trolleys different name on a door. The same harden, heart still pump the soul of its people through the neighborhood and sometimes spilled their blood into the street. She stopped at the market. Once every week after her shift. It was easier in the mornings just before the commuter, our when the responsible among them took the bus and trolley to downtown jobs. The people who are around, however, the ones who floated around the edges of society. They retreated only when the son was at its highest peak, and even then not too far into the shadows and obese Haitian woman blocked her way into the store. She chatted with a friend several feet away. They spoke in the rapid fire pets wag gutted from French by way of the care being slave trade penny didn't understand a word. It was nothing like the fluid and melodic French sheet experienced in school heard and movies. This version had the hard edge of raw history, carved and every syllable, every phrase both women laugh, harshly. Oblivious, dependents presence excuse me. She said. The woman looked at her. I just she waved, a hand toward the store's entrance. Shoulders hunched. Okay. Fine. Fine said the woman in heavily accented English. She waved to her friend tossed a few more incomprehensible words into the air laughed again, in ambled, slowly through the entrance penny followed teeth grind. She recalled when Kirby had come mostly Haitians they brought their habits and their loud chopping language Smith. Sweat of the food music their brand violence, any enjoyed curry sometimes, but the rest remained beyond her path. The grocery store, had adjusted to the exploding population stocking fruits and vegetables. She didn't recognize and cuts of meat that junk in her experience, but even the new blood couldn't change the smell market, as if something had died in its walls and kept dying the year after year impervious to the efforts of resuscitation. It didn't bother me not like it. Did when she was young girl proof that you could get you Sani thing given enough time. It took less than an hour to collect her groceries pay in return to the parking lot with her two sacks of food. There were two gypsy cabs. They're both drivers. She knew dark-skinned men had grown up in the neighborhood say, miss her. This was a ritual. She'd been following for years. The morning Jim the men answered together a vocal mix of morning miss loops. How you bid just fine. Eugene who's been while maybe by seven months, I guess been on. Contract job now back on the hustle allow ride. I guess you're up next time Carl Carl nodded and touched his baseball cap already focus on the next person coming out of the store, penny slid her ample backside into the back seat while Eugene held the door. He clambered into the driver's seat with grunting asked over his shoulder Romeo address game is loose. She smiled as she dug her wallet out of her person told him Eugene remained good, man and worked hard to support his family by any means. She'd missed him a bright and steady spot in the tedious week. It was a short ride, necessitated only because of the grocery bags. She fished for five dollar Bill in the clutter of her. Wallet houses sunny, ause MS moose. You gotta son, right? I remember you told me was having problems ways back. She froze, the chill of past draining flowing into her stomach down her back and legs right under her fingers. She head. Eld an odd memento barons driver's lessons. It was a decent photo of her son and the license itself served as a reminder that he had a good heart once upon a time that he checked off organ donor and meant he passed away, hugiene. She swallowed holding her voice even in tight. Brad about the time. You started that contract job, his father doesn't even know. Oh, oh, MS loose. Oh, sorry. I wouldn't've asked. But it's okay Eugene, it's not okay. You didn't know any better. How are you? Remind me. Okay. Okay. Ms loose. I'm sorry. You have my condolences. I'm so sorry. That's a terrible thing to hear. Thank you, gene. It's a terrible thing to live. They passed the next several minutes in silence. Penny was grateful that you gene helped bring her groceries up the steep bricks of the porch stairs. As she tipped him dollar Bill on top of the five the tedium of putting the goods away, were not a fit distraction for her melancholy. However, and she now sat at her small kitchen table out of habit, a half inch pile of unopened bills awaited neatly stacked on the counter, all of the services in the small kitchen were clean and orderly the entire house. In fact, was well, kept being the only occupant made it easy to keep up with the home shared a wall with MRs Lohman next door. Her husband Fred loved his drink in considering his pallor, and incontinence penny suspected, he wasn't long for this world. Fred favored, the bottle over much else, but his wife and his home in spite of that he earned steady, disability and social security, money, Fran loved him. And he loved her bag that was good enough for pin. Why were the men who'd been pennies worth? So different liquor had a contrasting affect on her ex husband brought out someone she hadn't. Someone who was spike petty who didn't seem to love her like the entertaining fellows. She married, the man, she'd had a son win and bear. She knew it was possible. For mother to look at her own son and see a stranger a man who's visitations brought misery, not joy. She wondered if knowing the relationship between love and hate so intimately had any value from under the sink penny extracted to items kept in a warn, paper, bag and place them on the table, one, a nip of Beefeater, gin her ex husband's favor to a small plastic bag folded to form square with dusty remnants inside her sons together, these two things destroyed her family. She took some time to organize and Reagan them to try to understand what the purpose was or had been her tongue found the sharp edge, where tooth had been splintered in struggle. John son. She placed things back into the bay rolled it up and paused and tucking the package into its home under the sink. Her his attention gave her. Some hope a moment were letting go of these remnants might be the pattern lease instead of the garbage. She finished putting in back onto the pipes behind worn plastic basket of cleaning goods, everything happens for reason. Right. She thought herself. Pennies is wandered the kitchen and dragged with stop on the fridge padlock was undone as it had been for the last several months, it, dangled useless. How long had it been since the funeral not even a year? She needed to get around to taking all of that hardware off to putting close to that chapter of her life, normal people didn't need to lock up their food, maybe next weekend. She'd go shopping replace. Some of the furniture that had been stolen sacrificed to her son's addiction. Get a few plans to add some life back to the house. She could see living room from where she sat, the cable, wires sticking out of the floor with the television used to be she hadn't been able to watch her soaps for some time and was having difficulty. Finding the desire Fran kept her up to date on the stories. However, in penny enjoyed the company, the visits hearken back to better times she side and put the items away to get ready for bed. It had taken several months to acclimate sleeping during the day, and she knew it was critical to maintain a ritual in order for sleep to come. She ate a snack and moved up stairs where she bay brushed and read us. Years ago. The addition of sun blocking blinds made the final transition to the nightshift possible that and the central air, the AC unit bolted into the wall had been a prudent investment. Silence darkness, the white noise of conditioned air it all played a role in, in her to sleep. But this morning it seemed to take longer than expected. As she entered the twilight zone of subconscious thought the moment when one feels they're floating at peace with the world as their limbs become boy. There came a rap at the door. She snapped awaken listened waiting. Penny thought it might have been a bird or squirrel making its way. Then the knock again, a familiar pattern, a kind of riff on shave and a haircut. The knock her son, had always used like a pass code on her door until he had stopped bothering to knock the bedroom faced the back yard, one of the reasons penny like the home. It helped keep peace in what was too often rowdy neighborhood. She couldn't see out front, the vertical window in the stairwell face the side of the house in featured opiate colored pains. She snapped her covers back shoved her feet to slippers and paused something was urging caution a six cents whistled warnings from somewhere far away. She opened the nightstand drawer and reached all the way to the back behind the flap award. Her hand touched cool none, the revolver. Her ex husband had left behind his last attempt concern before leaving she'd never fired didn't even know what caliber, but she knew which said the problems holding. The smooth would have the grip made her feel stronger than she was any shuffled out of the bedroom and down the stairs. Pistol held low at our side as if she were in danger of being seen with at the door. She left the security brace in place and flip the cover on the people out of the way. No one. She's shifted her attention to the window. Checking the blinds I to be sure they offered no view from the outside to inside before parting them. She thought she saw glimpse of retreating figure. There's no one here, pennies mind ground out any dark thoughts, and she concluded a must've dream after checking all the shades and locks. She stopped and stared at the pistol in her hand feeling foolish. She took it back upstairs in jammed it back into the drawer of the nightstand. It took another hour or so before she drifted off to sleep penny dreams of her son when he was five or six the last few years when a child still loves with ferocity before the cynicisms of life began to chip away. That sure he sees that she said and wants to comfort her in the awkward way that children. Do having only been comforted all their lives and never much needing to reciprocate. He picks it his chest. She can see as zipper. They're right down the middle a little boy with zipper in the center of. His chest. She thinks aghast, my boy my sweet little boy. How strange he grasps the slide and begins to tug. She reaches for him frayed of what happens next if he manages to undo himself, she can't reach the air is like mud. It pulls at her drags on her limbs the sound of teeth sliding through the catcher loud becoming louder Clack Clack, the interlocking strips rumble like gears and a giant clock. She reaches and he unzips until his nothing but read a ragged hole in his skinny chest. Her baby's chest. He's empty. No one should be empty as father is there at a distance just out of reach always gone. Never at hand he holds plastic white chest with a red tongue. She sees a red medical cross on the front, and he tries to say something, but no sound comes out. She still reaching for her boy? At the beginning of her shift the next evening, penny could still hear the super. It was an added drag to the night, while caring for the less savory needs of patients in rehab. They existed in half life between hospital and home too ill to be on their own and not incapacitated enough to remain at the hospital. Some of them had colostomy systems or oxygen tanks. They needed assistance, using toilet. They're soiled sheets needed to be changed. They needed to be bathed in their medicines deliver. There were three other women on our team and the should've been six they were supposed to be thankful that budget shortfalls hadn't affected. There are ready low pay, but what they were was numb penny could no longer easily count the years she'd worked as a nurse. Assistant bills never wanna win. When we people did them as she put the finishing touches to a set of linens was a commotion of the front desk. The sound of raised voices, her first instinct was to focus on her job, but the appropriate. Personnel handle the irate, wishing voice is that of young man, not the sickly. She strained her whites. Poked her head into the hallway and he could just make out the back of the intruder. His curly, Brown hair touching the collar of his gray jacket, surely, the receptionist was at least two decades younger than penny and Haitian in pennies experienced the younger ones were easier to deal with. She repeated herself in a firmer tone. So do not allow unannounced. Visit you can leave a message if you like what you need to leave. I need to speak with her. Unit to stop shouting like that. And you need to leave any new that tone, Shirley had already called security, most likely it would take a minute for Dennis to get here. If he were on the other side of the grounds, but he'd comet full speedy. Bring the hammer. Dan? Dennis was a large man past his prime. But imposing, and he took his job. Seriously, the young fellow Kirsten slammed, his hands and dusk when he turn his back faced penny. Then she caught a glimpse of his profile as he stormed into the stairwell. He was white with the shadow stubble, his cheeks, and chin. She stepped into the hallway stride and quickly towards the desk the elevator doors opened Dennis stepped out. His bald head gleaming in harsh light. He wore a crisp white shirt with the badge above the chest pocket in a radio clipped to an epileptic miss, Shirley, you. Okay. I'm finding us he went down this, this white guy, Brown curly haired, grey jacket jeans, neither shame Dennis. Nodded Curtly took pursuit, slamming the door to the stairs, open and talking into his radio. My god. Surely, I heard that man yelling down the hall at first, I thought he was a patient. Penny said. Molina joined them from the opposite. Hallway carrying a sack of trays what is going on down here. Was that a patient? She had a thick Dominican XM, squat strong willed. She made it. Good nurse. Penny pointed at the door to the stairs. There was a young man shouting, Shirley, he ran down the stairs. Molina looked at Shirley and asked are you. Okay. Shirley, I'm fine pris- the Lord for that. She crossed herself in these people around here ain't that the truth penny turned to the reception. When did he want, Shirley? Well, Molina litt-. Oh, no gleese got dummy. He was not a pervert. And he turned wide is raised eyebrows to Molina before leaning forward on the desk. Was he trying to get dirty with good Lord? No, he was just he was asking. What is it, surely, what did he want any asked? Come on shirt, spill girl. Molina said in a flat tone. Well, it's not a what? It was a whole. He was asking for you. Lena's mouth formed in oh in her eyebrows. Tried to escape into our hairline was that white boy any. And he didn't hear her colleague she retreated into her memories from yesterday. The restless sleep, the nightmare, the knock on the door that she'd chalked up to imagine Asian, she felt an urgent need to lock the doors to huddle behind the desk, who was the smell. How had he found her? She began to shiver not hearing her colleagues asking if she were. All right. Spell brooklyn. Mr. should step down the elevator. I just heard from Dennis everyone. All right. Everyone looked at penny. Should aim seem lost for few moments until he focused on her. Henny Shirley, piped up deadman was here asking for penny. Oh, dear. Benny? I'm fine. Her own voice sounded muffled and distant to her. She repeated herself willing strength into the words in meeting retains is I'm fine. Are you sure any slipped into habit? But one hand on her hip and narrowed her is she didn't need the help of this man. He may not have been the source of any of her woes past or present, but he represented the thorn in their collective sides because he was management that he was wide only exacerbated feeling fine. Fine. He threw his hands up. That's all get back to it. Then the brief incident put a Mark on shift already. She was behind schedule. There were many more tasks to attend to enough misery fuel rest of the night with little over an hour left in her ship. She had two important chores, one was to ensure that miscellany had taken his men's. He was a tall pale man. The sheen of Jon Stewart light skin, Mr. linen. Mr. linen, sir. I have you medication here. Mizulina. She touched his shoulder gently, and there was no response, his chest moved up and down. So that was good. Sign has mouth slurped open. He began to snow Mr. noon. She gave him a firmer shake in his eyes snapped open. He stared at the ceiling pupils wide in the low light as his yellow is swim. Slowly Twitter four moment. It seemed as if she'd woken Damon, but where he looked through her like she wasn't real or entirely there. There was nothing in his eyes. No, fear, just an emptiness if there were any emotions there. They were all projected through penny. A sense that she was immaterial, but ghost crept up from her house and filled. Her breast dread flowed from what appeared to be the waking the feeling passed as quickly as it came the speech, slurred and vibrated with age an attempted firmness. Who are you would? Do you all? I'm penny. Misery, one of the nurses here. We met yesterday. You've been here for two days, and it's time to take your medication. He growled response dragging out the sound from the back of his throat contempt depending wheeled his table into place, but the medication on it, and poured him a small Cup of water. I need you to take this before I can leave for the night. She stood her ground. There were thousands of Mr. linens. Most of them, black men, and penny had met them all his alcoholism had led to a malfunction of his liver, which led to a build up of pneumonia, his blood, and it had begun -ffected his brain. It was the kind of precipitating turn of events that might lead someone's make a correction in their life. It was certainly embarrassing enough to have been elucidating in front of one's home so badly the neighbors police she shook her head a slight motion, only to herself and clamped her lips shut, there would be nothing gained by commenting the situation, he grumbled in history and will slowly lever himself up. Lou. Sure. Merican. No seems like a mini got these jobs. No saying penny waited while he swallowed the pins water. Dribbled down his chin happy, he snarled the less swallow ecstatic. She cleared the table who say goodnight, Mr. linen. They no such thing here, y'all. Keep wake me up. He turned on the light and reached for an aging paperback in his glasses on the nightstand. Henny tried deep breaths to relieve the education from her body tension pulled her back and legs she dropped the paper trash into a pale and slammed her hand into the sanitizer. Dispenser on the wall, outside one more task, and it will be time to clock out, MRs Blackthorn needed her bag changed routine stuff snap off empty cleanup, replace penny entered the darkened room pulled the curtain when she flicked on the light, MRs Blackthorn lurched in her bed. Oh, I'm so sorry. Mrs Blackthorn I didn't mean to startle you, I need to change your bag. Big help her eyes will while she struggled to sit up her bony fingers trend. I need to go to the toilet. Can it wait a moment? We need to Anita go now. Mrs Blackthorn pleased sit back. I have to change that bag. Mrs Blackthorn lurched up in her bags swung from beneath the Johnny. She war. It looked like a gigantic swollen tick with its head buried in her side penny. Felton edge of panic, Quin hell, it had been changed last the old woman, convulsed in penny, cursed herself, or not recognizing the signs. She lunged for bedpan as MRs black thorn, vomited a surge of green with pink and orange bids bubbled out of the patient's mouth down the front of her Johnny a hot glob the expulsion splashed on pennies hand, but she managed to catch the rest in the pen. She placed the reassuring clean hand on the woman's back as the patient gasped and heaved for air, that was when the colostomy bag burst and its contents splashed over the side of the bed onto her legs and feet. The smell alone was an eye watering assault impossible to ignore the warm Serb e-content were worse. Liquefied shit spattered all over her pant legs and filled her shoes penny. Choked back. Revulsion and went to work, even after a committed rinse in the deep sink. She still commute home shoes that wreaked and squelched with every step as the sun rose, she stood in the shower waiting for the hot water to run out. Penny had bagged and dispose of the soil, shoes and pants as soon as she got home never wanting to see them again. She swallowed her anger, again vowing to address the issue in his calm. A manner as possible of whomever had failed to change that poor woman's bag later. It was a later thing right now. She needed to let it go, and relax if she didn't that be screaming, emotions flunk the walls and into the empty house. And Fran might hear become worry her back and feet ached hurt to blink penny need sleep to come without hesitation to clear, the nights experiences away, her exhaustion wail that it didn't matter that it was temporary another night would come another. Shift in bed, she stared at the ceiling and the air conditioner in the background, and he couldn't sleep conditions. Everything was in its place in the neighborhood was silent still stared at the swirls of stucco on the ceiling waiting. It was the same pattern is the one who son had. Penny felt cold. Creeping numbness in her legs to the top of her head. It could be knock again. Befo urgent. She pushed the covers back in shelter feet into slippers before pulling a housecoat on over Nike, the air Adna, the'real quality and her mouth felt dry tasteless, nothing felt right? And she reached for reassurance. The weight of the pistol polled on her palm moment, penny, thought, she understood why so many young men insisted on carrying one, the heft of it was an unspoken promise. The carpeted stairs stretched beneath feet sunlight splashing all the colors from the window. She crept down the stairs until she could see down the hall to the front door. This time there was a shadow someone waited a few more steps. And she was in front of the table. Only a few feet to the door. She eased her way to the door. Resisting any sort of confrontation when penny ease the people cover back at creaked at the last. A trail are you, there is it you need to talk to you. Penny pressed her eye to the whole. It was the young man from the hospital. He was fish belly pale red rimmed, his eyes and lips. The tips of his ears. The Brown curls that looked attractive at a distance where dry and Juan too long for his face unkempt, he glistened in the reflected sunlight. A sheen of sweat covered his face and neck interrupted only by the hair on his face. His eyes wouldn't focus. They darted from side to side with minute movements. She backed away from the door unable to reconcile who should expect to see. And the person who was there twisting tension in her chest wouldn't let up as penny struggled to find a voice gasping out at the last who are you, what do you want a have a need to speak to you need to know? What's happening with what she heard the tension in her own voice, and tried to dial it down on why me, she watched as he clutched the sides of his head and took a deep breath. Then he looked into the people are you? Watching me, can you see he spoke through clenched teeth penny? Financer put her for head on the door and just watch the man unbutton the top of his shirt, she could see the beginnings of a scar as he unbuttoned. More of it could be seen puckered and freshly healed the scar of a heart surgery. Fear thumped, in her ears the entanglement of terror in love tore through her chest. The foulest struggle he was on her boy was gone. And she was relieved that his suffering had ended that his body at least had done some good at the last had given someone else life, relieved M I relieved. Is that what I feel because his suffering ended or mine, her tongue found the chip tooth again, a sharp reminder of times that should have been well past? They cut me. They cut me from my neck to naval, and they put it in it burns, I can feel. I can feel a poll. I don't understand. I need to understand I need. Penny gave into frustration. You need. What, what do you want from me? I gave up my feelings. I expected to die now. I have this heart. It was supposed to be a second chance. But it hurts every beat I can hear it, feel it his face compressed in pain, and he ground his fingers into his chest before cupping his ears and pushing his hands roughly through his hair. She almost dropped the gun then almost hit herself in the face with it as she recoiled Bresser, and sewer mouth and stifle the cry, she couldn't see him now only hear him his name. His name was something with the b right Brian, or berry or something. And he needed you for something needed something from you to fix for you to fix fix it. It's all the here. Please penny watched her left hand float up to the security bar and push it out of the way this can't be can't be. She. Saw her fingers undo the first bolt and the second her right hand dangled by her side keeping the gun slightly behind her leg. His ten my son is Ted. He's gone Baroness gone. He did some good any end he gave his healthy heart, and it was his final act. He can't be here. He can't her fingers closed around the knob and twisted until the door swung open. And she could see him through the screen see his eyes pleading, and she could smell him. The scent of her boy in his last days, so notable the stink of addiction of self neglect, but still her son, you, he touched a finger to the corner of his mouth, a move so familiar so ingrained in her memory that she knew what came next, he rubbed, his ear, lobe reflexive in grain, since childhood a gesture. She'd seen her son do countless times while growing up. She could see him push aside commonsense and basic human love stealing himself to give into compulsion and. Dating posture desperation primal needs taking over, you have the things I need, you can help me, give them to me, you can make it stop. You need to save me, give me what I need. He grabbed the handle on the screen door and gave it a violent poll. It would no pin. She'd locked it. Of course. Old habits died the hardest, the visitor pushed hard on the screen in the metal threads popped out of the frame, her throat constricted in her voice could barely be heard over the rattling door penny sounded as if she were being strangled. She felt as if familiar hands held her neck. Again, anger colored her words, desperation flowed? Here's shouldn't be here not anymore. Not again, then a rabid thought Lance through her mind driving, her body, this chance to end it all for good. Words weren't going to fix this? It was never. Going to end until one of them was dead. She shot him through the screen door. The explosion slammed in her ears loud and sharp, like a hammer to a marble table. The strangers is widened and shock and read blossomed on his chest. She pulled the trigger again, and again, each recoils sent a tremor of her wrist, but she was too numb to feel it. Penny emptied the weapon into the befouled organ his chest, as he toppled backward, down the stairs, tumbling to a rag doll heap on the cracked concrete below. Her thoughts died into a flat and sign wave. The neighborhood remains silent, too quiet as she shut the door and said all the locks back in place. Someone else could make a necessary phone calls. She was too tired. The gun. She shoved back into the drawer after the long walk back to her bed. She wanted to cry knew it was the logical thing to do, but she had nothing left. So time. Penny. Just wanted to get some sleep to rest before her next shift. Everything kept coming back around around. It never ended. It was important to be ready for tomorrow. And it was so quiet, so peaceful, she fell asleep before the covers reached her chin. Hello. We are here today with Erik Nunnelee author of penny incompatible. How are you today? Eric of doing. You. I'm doing fantastic. So can you tell us a little bit about yourself as a writer, first of all, like when did you get started writing and what made you wanna write horror? I so I think like most people who write to pretty much been doing it, most of their lives. And I had I just hadn't gotten very much encouragement from teachers or, you know, even knowing any people who did such things in the neighborhood, and I read a lot, but it was, it was sort of a, a reading desert, where I grew up, and, you know, you learn more about stories and other million stuff, when you when you're certainly friends kind of sharing these things or your social circles. I really get any of that. And I just kind of drifted away from it, even though I, I loved comic books and I loved storytelling crafting stories and stuff. And so rather than sort of pursuing that I ended up going into the military in them when I went to college, I ended up studied graphic design and it wasn't until much later that I started writing yet I started to meet a lot of people that do it, and as for writing horror, I, it's, it's hard for me to even think that I that I like someone who writes outright horror explicitly. I probably right. Horrid less than anything else. Most of the people, I know love writing har- and. Surprisingly, most horrors are one of the kindest group of authors among John RAs, but I really enjoyed speculative fiction science fiction. I grew up on science fiction fantasy graduated to some harsh stuff, or mix of he, I kinda wanna go back to what you said, free minute about a reading desert that something that I experienced as well listeners will, maybe remember how I've talked about how I in a community that band up unto, including the tequila Mockingbird. Really? Yeah. Joined that club like off-hind stuff. And we had to read the bible for one of our English. No nothing nocco by. Right. But, but yeah. I mean, it's you're banning things for violence and sexual content by Wednesday. So so, you know, I grew up in a community where our school library was, you know, if it wasn't super clean squeaky, and it wasn't included, you know, there's very little horror. The only way I read horror was by going to WalMart and buying Christopher pike books. So a lot of Christopher bike, and ARL Stein, they carried RL Stein time. So that was the only way that I got my introduction to whore in the classroom and in libraries in it school. So it was it, you know, it was it was a challenging for me. At first, you a lot of people even now we will ask me, you know, have you read such and such, you know, some famous horror, classic or something like turn of the screw, and I'm like, no. I haven't. I had a soda a not certain not for the same reasons. But the same sort of thing happened, where. I was I would go into like a Barnes and noble or something. And just choose something like without any recommendations or anything like that. And at the time that I went to high college things like comics and Saifi stuff was still people still kind of look down their nose at it, at least professors did. That was the stuff I was most into. So I was getting most of that from television in movies. Yes, equal would watch TV movies. We talked about that have a good time with that. But it took me a while to realize that all of the stuff was coming from books. Yeah. So many movies that I joined were books before they removes and nowadays, I meet so many people who've remember reading those at the time they came out about the movie that my life we had, we had a really small library. I remember reading read love Ray Bradbury. Is a gas. I, I remember being really struck by the illustrated man by, by Bredbury, and that really convince me that I was really into the stuff. Actually, I took one of those books and I never return. How dare you is still bang no-one else? Chatting about fair not fair still banging around in, in box somewhere library doesn't exist anymore. Sykes yet. I can't. Oh, you can't make it right. Okay. For, for those of you who don't know I have a degree in library ship. So I'm a big fan of libraries when people don't return their books getting. But I'll I'll give you a pass. I'll for you, because your story is so great. It was like years ago. Fair enough. I guess. For me. You know what you were saying about, you know, getting your introduction through movies and such for me. I didn't even know Omer speaking specifically about horror and SCI fi. I didn't know of any black horror or SCI fi writers at all until I was like, in my twenties, maybe in my thirties. I just I didn't I didn't have access to that. And all of all my background was watching, like tells from the hood and Candyman and things like that. So I knew about like the movie side of things, but as far as writers, I found myself constantly disappointed by a lot of what I read husband. Okay. Well, yeah. This is this is fine. I guess, but, you know, be really great if the person details from the hood, like wrote a book. Yeah. Yeah, there wasn't very much at all getting all from at the time and you're getting off media. It was very singular very male, very white male. Rarely see anything that seemed familiar with with your own experience, and that goes for a lot of different ethnicities lot of different types of people, and it's, it's stunning now to see so much of it with the rise of all these different to content streaming services in all the different avenues. For more Representative fiction, I just watched CU yesterday on Netflix. Oh, I haven't seen that yet is a good great really, really great. Yeah. I loved that it was that it was a short film, and that it was picked up by spike Lee's production company, and then remade into into this. I thought it was really entertaining. And in the ending the ending was perfect. I don't wanna talk too much about that. I think is really great. I'm gonna have to check it out and listeners you should check that out too. On Netflix, right? Yes. See yesterday. Yes. So let's talk about Octavia Butler because in every single interview of ever done. She's just come up randomly, and I feel like I should just bring be proactive and bring her up early on. When, when did you discover Octavius work late? Relate, I try to remember which of books that I read firsts, but I do remember when I first met my wife before we were married she had read some books. Well before I did. And which one was it? The payroll of the sewer fledgling was the other one. That's usually a first stop. Was the shoot over the name one is a series about aliens, who come to earth interbreeding humans designer Genesis, Jeremy. Yeah. Okay. I had Wikipedia to the rescue. I have read that when yet but again, you know, more on the horse out of things. Yeah. So I read that and then kindred, of course. I can't read, then I read parable of the sower which, you know, I'm really done for the, the whole superpowers angle. But yeah, that was a I think I hit any other thing too. I was when I was reading these things before, since it was not to talk to them. Back. I had no idea whether the person why male female or anything, you know, I think that's the case with a lot of authors that aren't white and male is their photos, do not appear in the back of or at least historically. I think that's that's certainly changing now. But, you know, there were a lot of people that I read like, oh, this is a woman that wrote this, 'cause they wrote by their initials. Right instead of their names. So for me, I came talk dania late as well. You know, I just ask somebody when I was like I wanna read some more black horror and have you read tell Butler, and I'm like who in there, like, oh my God. You go bad. I'm no I'm from a closet community sex. Yeah. They never had fledgling their book show anywhere in any in the stores, either. So, yes, so, yeah, I get I get coming to. But that was sort of an awakening for me. And I'm wondering if you kinda had the same experience finally reading, something that was more from your community. You don't by then it was it was up lifting. But it was weird. Yeah. Let's read enough science fiction. I think what it was about. It was it was first time it was first time. I rich stories that really pushed that aspect or because a lot of science fiction buyers, look at the future as like everyone's going to be there. Right is gonna be more of a blend of humanity. You're just gonna have to expect brow skin. And it'll get mentioned is not it's in no way, cultural driver of the story. This first time I read it where the identity of these. Characters Saint familiar to me as postage is something far flung, future, where well, of course, now there's just gonna be rowdy by night. So let's move on to talking about your story. Penny incompatible. I'm curious to know what was your inspiration for that story. All kinds of bad things. Excellent. Well, this particular story for this type of story, I only written a few, and there's a couple of things that inspired it one of them was might desire to, to get into lamplight to get something in. Lamplight mags. And it's not. But tightened writing that counts Nash routes, but I do enjoy reading these types of things. And I guess what I wanted to see was exactly what just more familiar stuff in there. But when I think of horrific things usually think history, whatever it is that people come up with the scarier disturbing as it isn't just doesn't. History is the most terrifying thing. True. And I started to, you know, I done this a few times, right set thinks the neighborhood, I grew up. So the, the neighborhood that pays in is, is the one that I wrote in and all of those frictions of very personal might very, very much experienced that place once I was old enough. You know, when your kid everything is all unicorns cupcakes, if you know if you got these parents and the character herself like all the situations that are things that I'm just wondering it with the character selves, might an amalgamation of all of my us who you know, people tend to forget, like how close, we are to pre treat civil rights era. You know, only a few ration- moved from from slavery and things like that. And so my aunts my parents grandparents options, at least in, in that quarter Boston options for for living of life with career were kind of limited. So I thought it was odd that all the women in my life, were either nurses, or teachers, right? Any preschooler daycare, Ray schoolteachers at nursing either nursing hospital each shits, late shifts doing it at a m like penny, does that also a rehab facility, and the way that they sort of lived and some stories they told. And I know some nurses now. So you I'm kinda type people things happy. Cast years thing you've ever elder, the story is the story is self is fictional, sort of cobbled together from a lot of non fiction, right? And I think the best stories, you know, are mostly nonfiction to steal imagined events, right? Right in a world that could happen. Yeah. I think so. I also remember very acutely when so that the neighborhood I grew up in Boston, it's called Madam. So the southernmost tip of the city in it's like ninety eight percent black and in the early eighties, a lot of Caribbeans Africans change in the neighborhood. So I was in my early teens. I remember this transition and seeing my color ISM and cultural, bigotry and stuff is what you make ends Reuven Asians. Kenyans unions, kind people at Combe moved into the neighbor, Haitians, such cetera and is just to contrast. Between now let's see room. Thirty forty years later, from when they arrived in, how integrated is mile at how much more part of the fabric of neighborhood is terms of these folks, Nang they open restaurants. They brought their culture and now they're kids have brought up with all of the other kids, and it's just one day just one big pot of black folk now but I wanted to show some of that at the time it was a little bit as it was sort of the sound. It was tension between those groups raise the name. And the folks who'd been there. So we met originally at boss gone. Speaking of being from Boston, which is a sci-fi fantasy convention. There's there to always, always we're always there we infiltrate in one of the things that I loved about meeting, you is that you are such an enthusiastic Hurson like. Like every time I would see you would just like brightened my day like you guys erica's such a great energy as you can't see him and see him smile without being like oh, it's great. My wife would never believe you. Yeah. I think my husband feels the same way about me like when people tell me things at conferences. And he's like. But one of the things that you did at boss Cohn was you introduced the first story that I ever read in front of an audience. So I thought that was pretty cool in thank you for that. You made that really smoothly and you made me feel really good about it after so, so thank you. Anyway. So we'll get. We'll get off that side trip therefore second. I'm curious if you talked to any of the nurses that, you know, about if they've ever felt that there was like a ghost or haunting or presence in the hospital said, that's something that I ask a lot of my sisters, I didn't I didn't ask about that in particular I was asking about responsibilities seizures Tyson thing, you'd have to deal with. And I think the other thing that is this was my father he had like most. The older men in my family have died from alcoholism in one form or another. I always out the whole Izza high blood pressure on tax, hypertension diabetes. Right. Something like that. So he he's the last person I deal with likes this. He have found himself in the emergency room ties loosening having all kinds of issues. What we found out is that his regular drinking was actually since exceeding certain levels. Senate ammonia into Brian loosening. And I remember after the emergency room hospital, and then there's sort of a halfway point with a send you back in time place. Penny works in where is is after the name. It's not hospice, that's, that's not at all. It is like long term care. Yeah. But it's transition. It's like keep working through his research, military care. Keep working with you. And until you're ready to be sent home so many patients there. I feel like every time I've, I've had to find I in a hospital or someplace light, this, either with elderly kids, whatever. No, my youngest daughter cancer in cancer awards and stuff like that. But all patients everybody, they're suffering, and is kind of. This kind of psychic darkness in the air and anytime media is anybody in these places. It's like you're looking at it goes because they're not quite all there, then when a swim, it someone you somebody loves someone you know, it's even we're like this is not the person. I know. And how do we get the back? Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I completely completely agree with that on so many. Yeah. Not happy. Now. My sister works in see you. And you know that's obviously not a happy place. She seems things. Yes. She is seen some things. I don't know how she does it. I could not do her job. There's no way in hell. God bless her. Not meet could not be knee. So how long have you been writing in making money with riding writing seriously? It's about thousand fourteen so two thousand fourteen when I now out of the sun, and I had been sort of, really trying to go at it since about two thousand ten so actually not that wrong. I mean, you know, always tinker with it, but I haven't been tainted very seriously. So I know. Sheared trying get post and stuff. Right. So are you a fulltime writer now? You know, I know. Like many of us exact I still hold. Do you aspire to be a fulltime writer? I think I would not mind being such a thing if it were at that fantastic. Oh, level that the media portrays in that we know is only very tiny percentage. Yeah. So it's more a fancy what I would love is fully writing the I do to support the writing that I do. Yes, you know, so able to self promote and go to confession stuff based on income coming from like that. That would be I d I think that would be great. You know, there's a small percentage, people that make it to that level in. I think you know making it to that level is a huge success. I mean even publishing a novel is huge success. I feel like every step in a writing career is huge just so hard. It's slow in publishing industry. Does not move like lightning. No. No. It does not it moves like molasses on a cold winter day in the Arctic. So tell us a little bit about the work that you do have out there right now that, that you would love for us to either read or listen to watch whatever. I have story about Jack Johnson in, in call the final summons from the new New England speculative writing group. There is a story a few extra pounds. That's in transcendent trans Monday impress. I'm really proud of both of those they've been around for a little while. I'd love the idea of taking Jack Johnson, this historical savior in doing something fictional with them, because he's one of those people as that's old enough that don't really have good records of all of his past and a few extra prow pounds cross between psychological in body horror, Allen. That sounds wonderful. I just had something picked up for knowing that horizontality. Join a weird seemed Dagi's. So I seldom story song. Warren, based on a based on the thing that actually happened to me when I was bringing floor I we were doing this huge battalion wide operation in North Africa. And it was in the desert in it's not the type of that you think a bunch of same dunes and stuff. Just flat plains dry. And I got separated at night from Michael tune. Oh, no. Yes. So it was real interesting. You know this thing this like literally nothing. It's not like. Check GPS or look at a street sign. Right. Not so long story short. I did find my way back to another another battalion. And then I connected with people mowing so kind of ethic, it was only a few minutes. But those few minutes. Yeah, I've been lost in the woods before which is better than being lost on a flat plane with, you know, when we got back, I got lost. But yeah, I mean it's really frightening to be lost. You know, even even if your only loss for like a minute or two by loan. It's, you know, it's like, oh, crap, you know, no one knows I'm here. I don't know where I am in. I have a story, not entirely sure, when it's going to come out, but it's it's called a wild man mile in its is based on a role playing game. So it's going to be a companion to pug, Myer. So there's there's it's one of these sort of uplift and animal game. I really didn't feel like I could I could do this, but I learned very early on. Somebody asked you. Hey, do you like to do this? You say, yes. Figured. Especially if you're getting paid to. Yeah. Used always be paid to say. No, if you're not getting paid. That's right. So I got I wrote this. I wrote a store, they're actually really proud of and the editor really enjoyed it. I can't wait to see it come out. I contributed a story to distort the states of America, which is a benefit at dollars for the ACLU in its co y'all live under the same sun. And yeah that's about it right now. I'm just I got the rights back to let the sun. And I've been working on improving that, and, and hopefully getting back into because every now known people ask like Naser sequel to this in there is. But I need to get it. Yes, please do. Please because I was going to ask you about that. It sounded interesting. You said just real quick asong of Warren death that one out yet that one is not out, yet, I believe it's going to debut this summer, though. I think they're gonna do it if the Necker non. Mikan in Rhode Island which is feeding. That's right, move that was for the New England knowing that rights horror Writers Association. Okay. Good deal. I'm gonna put links to the ones that are out in the show notes people can can get to that transcendent. The final summons. Those are definitely out. Excellent. Is there anything else that you wanted to share with us? I'm probably going to forget something here of the my next novel call lightning. Where's red Kate is going to be released in September, and it's, it's about superpowers developing in, in marginalized groups of people that the kind of problems it can cause in the whole thing. Soda borne of, of characters out, let me rewind further when I was a kid and I started drawing, comics and. Take apart action figures in create new ones. When I was about twelve when I was eleven or twelve years old, I sort of lifted everything that I was doing. And why are all my characters white and why are they all may? Just a natural thing that I was doing right. Because that's what you read so you emigrate which you read. Yeah. So I took all of that part of the next few years. And I it was this lightning was red Cape is an idea that's been banging around in my head since high school. Finally, I wrote it three or four times on, you know, the, the last twenty years or so. And then I finally put it together. A form that was coherent. That's always a good thing. Not to be coherent Brits like that. But. Features. I got to write in their, oh, you're been gods. Sunder enlightening, analogous Thor. I I've got a martial artist who's trained on another planet guy who's like superman of the police force in all of this builds on. You know, I feel like whenever I do this. I have some rules like you can't wear bikinis. Right. None of that, that this should be more marginalized folks representatives things. There's a woman who she she got essentially manipulate things at the molecular level. And this is a black woman, there's, there's a young kid who's handicapped? But he's, he's like grinding the floor after brother dies. He discovers he s abilities. And the one thing that everybody's been worried about is if someone develops some ability in uses it for cry. Time. Be developed some ability allows them to do some kind of mental manipulation, which, of course, is exactly what happens. So there's a courtroom before criminals that have been so scooting up criminalization 's and gangs just expanding the organization because their leader as ability to control emotions of projecting impasse. And I, I just liked the ideas, someone being. That level of manipulatives actually have free will. But because you love this person you'll do anything because you're frayed of that. But so is this novel available for preorder yet, it absolutely is available for much. That's what I like to hear. Okay. So that in the show notes as well defined excellent last. But not least if you could only read one work of from black rider, that was more or Sifi. I'll allow Sifi for the rest of your life. What would it be? Man are or Saifi. I like Spillers and crime. Novels too. You know what if I talk, just one author, just one author while to mostly, I think that's an excellent choice. Accentuate. There's lots of read up there. He Dell's, Dow since he does great. He does great crying thrillers. He did he writes, great science fiction, routes, good horror, like, yeah. Okay. Picks that forever. Never good choice much for joining us. Eric. I hope you have a wonderful day. Thank you, John. You, I really appreciate you. My pleasure. You have been a pleasure to speak with and Neha. I love this podcast, this, this was a great idea. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thanks again, to our patrons for supporting this podcast without the night, light, legion, this podcast would not exist. We're just a couple of weeks away from our one year anniversary, and we couldn't be more thankful for your love and support. You can join the night light legion by going to patriot dot com slash nightlife pod. Or if you prefer, you can do a one time donation at pay pal dot me slash, nightlife podcast. And as always if you are unable to contribute financially to the podcast, we appreciate any sort of shadow that you can give us online reviews sharing the podcast with your friends telling the world about us all of that stuff hopes. Immensely to celebrate our when you're aniversary we're also going to be posting a new story every week for the month of June. So we'll see you next week for another story. But to thank you for listening until the end, we have a creepy fact for you in two thousand three a doctor in Houston, Texas named Toshi, Nick Idaho was decapitated. After his head was trapped in the doors of an elevator. So if you aren't scared of elevators before now you are welcome.