Story Notes: I Have Always Been Here Before

One of the many things that no one tells you to expect when you become a parent is that the impostor syndrome will keep you awake at night. Maybe it's just the mind's way of slapping some sense into you and letting you know it's time to shape up, or maybe it's something altogether darker. I was ecstatic when my wife gave birth to to our son Faron in 2012, but a little part of me, the part that sometimes gnaws away at my brain in the middle of the night, couldn't believe the universe had entrusted me with such a helpless little miracle.

No wonder, then, that the first story I wrote after I became a father features a man who has no idea what he's doing taking care of a baby. It follows Porter Jones, the manager of Cedar Lawn Mobile Home Park, who finds himself looking after a newborn left in his care by one of his tenants, who promptly disappears. As his brother prepares for a grisly competitive eating contest, Porter finds himself trying to hide the baby from a snooping private detective who just might be the devil.
Oh yeah, there's a snake in this one, too.
Image © Bull

This story means a lot to me, and it remains one of my favorites in the collection. It reminds me of the joy (and the terror) that I felt as I was growing accustomed to the idea of being someone's dad. It also represents, I think, my voice as a writer coming into its own. It's pulpy and noir-ish and glances in the direction of magical realism, blending two seemingly disparate strands from the stories and the writers I love. It borrows its title from a song by Roky Erikson, leader of the legendary 13th Floor Elevators. I was listening to his solo albums a lot at the time, and "I Have Always Been Here Before," an ode to the many faces of the evil that has lurked in the shadows since the dawn of humanity, seemed to fit this story somehow.

This story first found life in Bull #5, and I'm looking forward to it getting out into the world in the collection that bears its name. You can read an excerpt of it here.

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