At the World Horror Convention I did my first reading: my essay “Man-O-Gram,” first published in Morbid Curiosity #8. Morbid Curiosity, a non-fiction market for true life tales of horror, sadly came to an end with it’s tenth issue, but my essay has been included as part of the best of collection, Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues: True Stories of the Unsavory, Unwise, Unorthodox, and Unusual is now available from Scribner. This collects 40 stories from the cult nonfiction magazine, Morbid Curiosity. These are the editor’s favorites about growing up Mormon in the bathtub of the dead, assisting a friend’s suicide, attending a Black Mass, and, well, my essay. Though this violates my rule on sustaining the author’s mystique, I thought that I would give a sneak at the beginning of the story here:

The plastic plate of the x-ray machine lowered with a whir as I stood against the cold metal beast, naked from the waist up. All I could do was stare at my breast while it was positioned to be compressed between the plates wondering “how the heck did I get here?”

Early in her pregnancy, my wife’s doctor diagnosed her with a condition called placenta previa. While the doctor explained to both of us the nature of the condition, all I heard was “You can’t have sex with your wife.” Seven long months later, my wife was still recovering from her C-section. As a first time mother settling into a routine of nursing, any broach of her bosom area was met with the rebuke of “Those aren’t for you” and my hands getting slapped. At that point, I didn’t trust myself bumping into furniture. My Saturday nights were reduced to TV watching and cold showers.

Before the Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself” gets cued, let me get on with my story. One day in the shower, I spied my wife’s breast self-examination chart. Okay, it had been there the length of our marriage, but every time I stepped into the shower, all my mind registered were pictures of breasts and every time it took a minute for me to realize why they were there. Today was different. I looked around (because that’s what you did when you are about to do something potentially embarrassing) and performed the self-exam.

I felt a lump.

Now would also be the time to mention that I suffer from hypochondria. Unfortunately, it was matched by my great dislike for doctors, so I sat around a lot obsessing about what I might have, while not actually going anywhere to do anything about it.

I noticed a pain in my bosom (I’m trying to say bosom as often as possible, not necessarily to avoid offending anyone, but to try and hide my soon-to-be-copious use of – read: obsession with – the word “breast”). The pain was so great, I decided to … call my sister. This wasn’t as bad as it sounds: my sister was in nursing school. (Well she was taking English and speech and other pre-requisite stuff.) She told me that it might be an ingrown hair or an infected spider bite. So I was like “cool”.

The next day, the pain in my bosom woke me up. I decided to squeeze my breast. White liquid started came out from around my nipple.

The story only gets worse from here. To laugh at my terror, go pick up the book:

The book’s home page

The book’s home page at Scribner

The book’s trailer

The Amazon page

*This is probably why I’m rarely asked to blurb stuff.