so do we.
keep kadrey coming.
T H A N K S !
The Night of the
In Mexico, they have Dia de los Muertos: the Day of the Dead. In China, they have the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts. In the old Navy yards in
India Basin in the San Francisco's hidden industrial zone, they have
Blue Moon Sunday: the Night of the Drunken Heart. On that night, losers
rule that lonely patch of decaying warehouses, railroad tracks and
The Night of the Drunken Heart isn't so much a procession as a
wandering mob. The dead bike messengers and decapitated skate rats lead
the spirit caravan, spinning their wheels and grinding concrete,
performing the impossible handstands and aerial flips that only the
already-dead dare attempt. The bag ladies come next, scouring the Navy-yard weeds for discarded cans and smokable cigarette butts. Along the route, they get into wrestling matches over not-quite-empty Four Roses
bottles with the winos who stumble behind them.
The schizophrenics are
next, scouring the sky and the ground for secret messages from Jesus or
their dead pets. The gangsters follow, heckling and speaking in
tongues, laughing and throwing rocks at the schizophrenics. The
gangsters were all wasted in mob hits or drive-bys. A strange mix of
old school Mafiosi, gangsta wannabe white boys and buff B-boys, they're
united in this one moment, playing school boy tricks on the lunatics
ahead of them. The obsessive-compulsives trail behind, crawling on
their hands and knees, scrubbing the asphalt clean of the blood that
still leaks from the gangsters' bullet wounds.
At the end of the Night of the Drunken Heart comes Danny the Mook. LikeSanta in Macy's Thanksgiving parade, he is the thing everyone has been
waiting for. Of all the spirits wandering the ship yards that night,
he's the easiest to spot. Danny the Mook arrives and leaves in style,
in a burning 1975 Cadillac El Dorado. He closes on the soul parade from
a distance. An orange speck at first, he bullets toward the ghost
revelers like a shooting star, Roy Orbison's voice high on the radio,
"I'm going back someday to Blue Bayou..."
Asphalt bubbles as Danny's flaming Caddy scalds its way along the
parade route. Danny might be the last to join the parade, but he's
always the first to finish. He has places to go, people to see. In
life, Danny was said to have been a whirlwind of energy. That's why
they had to burn him. When the a rival dealer shot him, Danny refused
to die easily. The dealer and his boys doused Danny and his car with
gasoline and lit them up like New Year's Eve before pushing the flaming
mess into San Francisco Bay. But even death couldn't slow down Danny
As he speeds down the ghostly parade route, Danny leaves a trail of
scorched netherworld porn and afterlife betting slips behind. This is
why Danny the Mook is the Emperor Norton of the losers: he's too dumb
or too crazy to know or care how truly dead and damned he is. Even in
limbo and especially in Hell desire is constant, but unfulfilled.
Danny the Mook is the Good Humor Man, the Tooth Fairy on the Other
Side. His flaming car always damages the merchandise, but in Hell, it's
a seller's market and Danny the Mook is a closer.
It's rumored that, just as the Tibetan Buddhists believe in preparing for your inevitable
death, in certain quarters of San Francisco those in
the know come down once a year to the ship yards to leave dubious pints
of cut-rate vodka and soiled girlie magazines for Danny the Mook to
snatch as he passes by. No one knows if this really gets you any credit
in the afterlife, but it's a reasonable investment when you think that
one night in the not too distant future you're destined to be here in
the ship yards not as an observer, but as another ghost on Blue Moon
Sunday, the Night of the Drunken Heart.
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Richard Kadrey is a member of a small group of innovative writers, including William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, John Shirley, Pat Cadigan, Tom Maddox, and others, who changed the face of science fiction in the 1980s. He also creates art. He lives in San Francisco.