It’s always fun to go through old files, just to recover long-forgotten moments. Things that seem so serious at the time are often well worth laughing about in retrospect. The subject of this blog, however, is just as funny now as it was then, only because it’s so absurd.
Toward the end of 2011, I was contacted by Dark River Press. They were putting together an anthology entitled Tales from the River: Volume 1 and wanted to know if I’d like to contribute. For their consideration, I submitted a short story called “Rape Whistle,” (which later appeared in my collection Coffee at Midnight). The editor enjoyed the story and decided to include it.
Several months later, the anthology received a quiet, eBook-only release. It sold poorly and was read by very few. Out of the blue, I received an e-mail from the editor-in-chief of Dark River Press, the same editor responsible for putting together Tales from the River. He inquired if I was familiar with a gentleman by the name of Martin...let’s call him Martin Smith, for legal purposes. I said I wasn’t. It was explained that Martin Smith submitted a story for Tales from the River, however, his didn’t make the cut. He apparently spent several months seething and ordered the anthology immediately after its release. Embittered, he read through the contents in a teeth-grinding, “What the hell do they have that I don’t?” manner. When he came across “Rape Whistle,” he discovered that my protagonist happened to be named Martin, a name I chose purely because at the time the story was written, I’d revisited HBO’s long forgotten original series Dream On, starring Brian Benben, who played Martin Tupper.
In Martin Smith’s unbalanced brain, he came to the conclusion that I crafted “Rape Whistle” to mock and humiliate him, not to mention parody his work. That I was in cahoots with Dark River’s editor-in-chief and the two of us were howling with laughter at his expense. Yes, it was all an elaborate plot set in motion the very minute Dark River’s inbox received Martin Smith’s contribution (which I, to this day, have not read).
Soon after reading “Rape Whistle” and deciding that I, along with Dark River Press (and presumably the entire universe) were out to get him, he did some Internet sleuthing to gather some information about me. He then posted the following on his personal website.
Please note: the article was removed within days of its posting and, with the exception of Martin Smith’s actual surname, is presented here exactly as it appeared.
A call for the execution of Brandon Ford, Robert Leyland and Martin Smith
Because I embarrass my family with all my cheap pornography, anger and embarrass my teachers and fellow students, etc, I use pen names. Also, if I get a job I don’t want all my cheap stuff -- which I nevertheless find funny and hopefully worth reading -- to come back and haunt me more than it has.
Perhaps my pen name is what prompted Dark River Press not to publish a story I wrote called “How I got Impaled.” Maybe because I don't use my real name -- or use it only marginally and with some hope for distancing myself from myself in the future if I actually try to get a job -- Brandon thinks I am a coward or something. Anyway, I thought my story was good; however, it was totally self-referential, and probably a bit pretentious. But initially, it was accepted, unless Robert Leyland was just joking, being funny...
But when I checked Dark River Press to see if my story was published, I instead blundered upon a story called “The Rape Whistle,” which is about me. The problem is, nobody can really understand the story’s humor unless they have read my own pretentious story. They don’t even know who the Martin involved is, which I should be thankful for, but nonetheless am not.
Dark River Press is actually charging people money for a product one of the stories therein is incomprehensible without a knowledge of the subtext that nobody would care about or bother to read anyway. After all, they think the story is bad, or else they would have published it before the story that satirizes it.
Who is this Brandon Ford character? I have trolled the web for a few minutes and have gotten all the information I need. But Brandon Ford’s charming, laid back demeanor is belied by this sneaky attack. For such a down to earth guy, he sure is a sneaky, phony egomaniac. “hey people, it is me Brandon Ford, it is just me playing my guitar. It is a total waste of time watching it… enjoy!” "Look at me talking, ranting about nothing -- big waste of time and here it is on you tube!" Dark River and its 3 or 4 readers/friends who have read my ambitious story “How I got Impaled“ are such a little circle of elitists, chuckling at their own wit -- a pseudo wit that nobody can understand but themselves. One must be sure one is great to allow oneself this sort of presumption, and Robert Leyland and Brandon Ford reveal this about themselves when they make people pay for something only they can appreciate. My call for Brandon’s extermination is nothing compared to these stupid assholes.
This sort of thing has happened many times to me, one way or another; if an editor to say, “hey, baby, we will take your story -- great stuff" and then they think better of it, and then instead publish a parody of the story they presumably accepted, as if angry at themselves for liking such a piece of crap -- if something like that happens, it is probably a writer/editor…
And all this makes me ashamed to be even an amateur writer. I take it from their blatantly phony I'm just a regular Joe/read my horror story vibe that these guys are so spaced out on themselves they think they are for real. Brandon is obviously quite stupid -- just read the story The Rape Whistle -- and try to make that jibe with his internet "I'm just a regular Joe" type, read my story about massacre..." and then read my story "The Rape Whistle," the meaning of which refers to something nobody knows about. I guess its only 4 pages long, so he figures, "well, I do have the right to waste people's time... I guess I am that good..."
However, I haven’t yet been frustrated enough by artistic failure to descend to Brandon’s level. (Apart from this call for his death, which I stand behind, and is just because I am personally insulted by this bewildering sneak attack; this type of thing has happened too many times, and makes me rethink writing on the internet.) Maybe it is pointless after all.
What did I do when I read the above? Well, it took me a few minutes to process everything before I started laughing, then I shared it with a few people. Concerned for my well-being, friends told me to contact a lawyer, the police, a private investigator. I did none of these things because I knew nothing would ever come from such nonsense. Martin Smith and his delusional fantasies would disappear as quickly as they arose.
And I was right.
I never heard from him again and, as far as I know, neither has Dark River Press.