In 1998, I was visiting San Francisco and exploring the Castro District. It was gentrifying some at that time, but the neighborhood still held its gay charm. I have always been drawn to the dark side of things and in the shadows of the enclave of the BART train station I found an angry piece of graffiti. Spray-painted on the wall in blood red was the inscription, “Burn the AZT Death Tarp!” Twenty-one years ago the epidemic was just being slowed with the advance of new drugs, yet there was still a profound despair and fear of death and dying from disease. I took a picture and as I walked around the inklings of a story formed. Ideas sometimes take time to gestate.I knew there was a horror story from the feeling I got seeing the red phrase, frozen in blood drip, on the wall. Aside from the fury of injustice at the handling of the plague, why would someone want to burn the AIDS quilt? What if the quilt had a life of its own from the lost souls within? I filed the idea away and life went on.
In the mid 2000s, I was brainstorming ideas for short screenplays and Death Tarp came back to me with a vengeance. I had met Clive Barker with my friend Josette at a Fangoria convention in New York. He had taken an interest in my tattoos, from Illustrator I & II, and stopped the autograph line to look. I took my shirt off and he admired his art of a boy angel on my shoulder and another lost soul walking the horizon of my lower back. The moment was sublime. Acceptance by an idol is a rare thing. His hand touched my back and I felt like I belonged, even after the cold stare of his partner, David Armstrong. Josette and I joked about it later, but the experience affected me. Afterward, the way to move forward with Death Tarp struck. In honor of Clive, I could have a piece of the AIDS quilt come to life in homage to A Pornographer’s Shroud, except my story would be different.
Death Tarp is a supernatural tale of disease and revenge. Alone and dying, Daniel feels abandoned and betrayed by his lover, Kyle, and friend, Clarissa. Unable to cope, he commits suicide, but his spirit is strong and takes on a new life in his newly stitched panel of the AIDS quilt. Out of body and mind, Daniel forms the quilt to his own image and seeks out vengeance on those who wronged him.
The original screenplay is a semi-finalist in the Chicago Horror Film Festival (September 28th & 29th, 2019 — chicagohorrorfest.com ) and Horror in the Hills (October 19th, 2019 Gatlinburg, TN — horrorinthehills.com.) I am stoked for the story to gain recognition at this time.
Death Tarp, in short story form, is a part of Anarchy - Strange Tales of Outsiders, a punk compendium of queer fiction and horror filled with haunting tales of the streets, dark rites, and what lies beyond.
#punkfiction #clivebarker #ChicagoHorrorFest #horrorinthehills