David Halliday Edwin Drood dies. But why? His girlfriend never understood him. Though she feared for her life at times. His enemies were numerous. But would they kill one of their best dealers. Did he cheat someone in a drug deal? Or was it something else. About the world. About himself.
David Halliday A man is dying in his backyard of a heart attack. He begins to recall his life. Except that it is not his life. It is the life of a fictional character from a popular television situation comedy. And he can't...
David Halliday Jack is a world inside a world. A dream inside a dream. Einstein inside Newton. Hemingway inside Aristophanes. A noun inside a verb. An idea inside an acorn. It is the knot that we call consciousness. Jack exists in a different dimension. Somewhere between reality and fantasy. Between the waking state and sleep. Nightmares on Jack are a reality. They exist. Monsters appear and crawl out from under children’s beds. Time is a prankster and doubles back on you just when you think you have escaped. Jack is especially difficult for children. Who become entranced by their dreams and have trouble separating the world in their mind and the world – out there. On Jack ‘out there’ is an illusion.
David Halliday Sometimes I can’t remember what mom looks like. Sometimes all I can remember is her smile. Mom has only been dead a year and her face is already beginning to fade. I have to look at the pictures dad keeps on the mantle. They too are beginning to fade. There must be something wrong with me that I can’t remember mom. Maybe I didn’t love her enough.
Sammy Kelly is trying to grow up. Trying to get passed the death of his mother and the grief of his father. Trying to fit into high school. Hanging out with his friends. And there was a girl. And her boyfriend. And a killer who was stalking her.
David Halliday We measure our lives in years, months, days, seconds. Time does not move. All measurement is a memory. Some memories are true. April made up her own story. I was there. I know she's telling the truth.
David Halliday They began their careers in small clubs. And cat houses. In choirs. And minstrel shows. They were applauded. Made famous. At times they were loved. They made a lot of money and spent it. On booze. On drugs. On men. And became famous. Some died in small rooms without family. Some in the arms of their children. They were all different. They were the Saints of Jazz. And they loved to sing.
David Halliday A finalist in the 2003 Eppie Best Poetry Collection, Church Street Is Burning, in illustrations, short stories, and poems, tells the story of the poet as a young man. Lost. Abandoned by the woman he loved. Bewitched by the street he lives on. Forgotten by his God. Searching for some rational order in a world fallen on its side. And leaking.
David Halliday A bunch of poets got together in 1971 and agreed upon nothing. I declared at the time that I had planted my flag in Church Street and from that moment on my poems would take root there. Ted Plantos took Queen Street. Robert Priest took all the pubs on Spadina and points north and east. And other poets divided up what was left. It was the Balkanization of the Toronto poetry scene. But of course none of us respected the terms and soon all out war took place. I fled to Europe where I met Lenin in Paris. A sweet girl with all of her own teeth. She asked me about my time before the great war of the minor poets. And so I collected the scraps of paper I had in my suitcase and published Crowd Noises.
David Halliday Death comes in the quiet of our thoughts. When we were looking the wrong way. At the moon being smothered by a cloud. It begins in panic. Thrashing out. We want to live. Something standing over us. Waiting for our last breath. Murder. Now and then.
David Halliday I met Matthew Chambers in a cafe in a small village of Hamme, Belgium. We talked on several occasions and always I had the impression that he was a man who was being pursued. I knew not by whom. And then one day he was not at the cafe at our accustomed time. Weeks passed. No Matthew. And then one morning this manuscript appeared on my door step.
David Halliday Living on the streets of Toronto, making friends with the druggies, hookers, pizza makers, bus drivers, CBC employees, winos, and people of God, all of them with stories to tell. Sometimes they talk your head off, other times they can't be bothered, so in a hurry to get on with life. It was exciting. I set up shop on the first floor of a house on Church Street, cleaned up and planted bushes (later stolen) in my back yard, made tea and sat on the front steps watching the world go by. Short listed in the C.B.C. national poetry contest. These poems are dedicated to the dime novels and pulp fiction, the disposable culture of its day.
David Halliday The Black Bird concerns itself not with the baring of a soul but with the stripping down of a life. It begins with the most remote extension of the human soul, one's public image. It begins with the mythic image of Humphrey Bogart. Bogart as a celebrity. Skin after skin is stripped away. Bogart as the character Sam Spade. Bogart as an actor. Bogart as a son and husband. Bogart as a man. The soul of Bogart. Until we reached beyond death to a final unravelling back to Bogart as a boy. A boyhood steeped in mythic reality. Originally published in 1982 by The Porcupine's Quill.
David Halliday It is the landscape of Eliot and Pound. Uppers and blue pills. Snow drifts and psychiatric hospitals. Streetcars and shock treatments. A delusional young woman boards an airplane hoping to escape the horrors of this world. Some time during the flight she steps off the airplane into another world. In a quaint village where she takes up residence. And then begins her search for the only person who has meant anything to her. Her grandfather. But she soon finds that this village is damned. There is no escape. But one. You must be murdered.
David Halliday Shot like a man out of a cannon. My mother almost died giving me birth. Head was too big. Doctors' thought I might need braces on my neck. Crawled through the first centuries of life. When I was twenty my hair was down my back. Orange and dusty. I felt like a god. Beautiful and outrageously vain. Standing in the Kipling Station. I could have stood there forever. When I stepped on the train I was 40 and everything picked up speed. The last decade has been like a long weekend. My eyes are watering. And my hair is on fire. These are the poems of the 21st Century. Almost songs. Almost odes. Something like thoughts about growing older. And hemorrhoids.
David Halliday The sixties rose out of the fifties with so much hope. Eisenhouer was gone. Kennedy was now. Wrestling was real. The Leafs were winning Stanley Cups. Television was a series of comedies about white kids in the suburbs with skin problems. Or westerns about bounty hunters, and Boot Hill, smart alec card shots. All men had jobs. And wives hung their bedsheets out on clothes lines. No one was raped. No one knew what rape was. Or killing. Or starvation. Except my father. And he didn't talk about the War. .
David Halliday "I can hear her coming. A powerful roar from a great distance. , Her craggy pot-marked face smoking, the long tail of fog trailing behind. She will come tumbling toward us like a snowball of fire hurled by a spiteful Santa Claus. Her voice. Not soft and comforting, but a voice dripping with rage. Justice will be served. The planet will sizzle like sirloin. And I shall sit on a park bench at ground zero waiting for St. Nick’s smile to fall across my five o’clock stubble. I will wait happily like a blond waits for her tan, like cold tea in a Styrofoam cup, like an accountant queuing up his thoughts. I will taste her sweet justice. And her wrath will fill my lungs with song. Judgment day is coming. Judgment day for the maniacs crowded into the subway system, for the bullies choking the churches, for the meek on Bay Street, for all the malcontents, for the armies of Christ, for every creature that lifts its curious face to the sky." A mad man is loose and Detective Sam Kelly is on the case.
David Halliday The Trailer is a novelette, Part of a multi series of books under the banner THE INVISIBLE MAN. This story concerns a retired cop who now works as a crossing guard and has become the object of two students' school assignment. They want to make a movie about him. He is not enthusiastic but his dead wife who talks to him everyday is. Bleeding out from this story are the other novelettes in the series. The series itself is a kind of Bosche like landscape of stories. Some stories are comic, others dramatic, some even ridiculous.
David Halliday It’s a good place to think. The bench. To mull over ideas. That’s my madness. Everywhere I look I see patterns. Patterns are someone’s idea, someone’s creation. Order is recklessly rearranging the furniture around us. Old buildings being replaced by new buildings. Old people dropping dead at the feet of children. Order giving birth in the ashes of death. Order is my God. Patterns are His skin. I need a universe in which everything makes sense. What else is consciousness for? We were put here as witnesses. But why does God need us as witnesses? Why does God need us at all? When I was a small boy I would wander out into the backyard of my parents suburban home and look up onto the night sky at the stars and ask what all this was about. And just as I finished asking the question, I discovered that I was an old man.
David Halliday “Charlie. I can hardly believe it’s you. How long has it been?” “I can’t remember that far back. Not since the shock treatments. As you can see, I got over my phobias about telephones. If I’m going to get cancer from Ma Bell then bring it on! Remember that phone routine that Bob Newhart used to do. It made me nauseous. All these radio waves, microwaves, all this electricity pouring through the air. The secret war of the twentieth first century is giving me migraines. I was reading Newsweek and found out that migraines can be cured by eating trout. I went out for dinner and ended up in the emergency ward. I’m allergic to fish and I didn’t know it. Did you hear the one about the small mouth bass and the drunk. They are sitting at the bar. The bass kept belching. The drunk turned to the fish. ‘You should stop drinking.’ The bass turned back to the drunk. ‘Would you prefer that I was farting?” Several Incidents in Frank Craven's Week is a novelette, Part of a multi series of books under the banner THE INVISIBLE MAN. A college teacher in mid life starts over with a new wife and child. A friend from childhood is returning to town with a surprise announcement. Old friends meet again. And a serial killer is checking out power saws in the local hardware store.
David Halliday I wait. It feels like my life no longer belongs to me. I wait for Aristotle to go to sleep. I cook dinner. I wait for Frank to come home. We eat. Frank talks about what some kid said in his class today. I listen. For Aristotle to wake up. I smile at Frank and pretend that I am relaxed. That I am interested. That I am in one piece and not imploding. Will Aristotle have another rash? Frank helps to clear the table and then retreats to the living room to read the newspaper. I put the dishes in the dishwasher and listen. I carry the speaker for Aristotle’s monitor around with me into every room. I don’t trust it. Sometimes I can’t hear Aristotle breathing and I rush to his room to check on him. Sometimes he is sitting there looking up at the mobiles hanging from the ceiling. What does he make of them? Frank yells up the stairs to tell me that there is someone on the phone. Aristotle looks at me, smiles. When I turn to leave, he breaks out sobbing. I carry Aristotle downstairs and dump him in Frank’s lap while I talk on the phone. Aristotle needs to be changed. Frank looks pissed. It is my mother on the phone. She was watching the news and they were talking about a new flu that is running through the daycares. I tell her that Aristotle is not in daycare. She sounds relieved. Has Aristotle had a flu shot? He’s too young. Am I sure? No. I’m not sure of anything. Mother wants to see Aristotle tomorrow. A break. My spirits rise. She’s coming over tomorrow for tea. My spirits sink. Off the phone, Frank hands Aristotle back to me. He still needs to be changed. Frank has no time. He’s working on a lesson plan. Aristotle starts crying. I change him. His bum is as red as the Maple Leaf on the flag. I put talcum powder on his bum. Aristotle smiles. Time to sit down in front of the television while Aristotle plays in his pen. I fall asleep for a minute during a sitcom. Aristotle screams. He has thrown something out of his pen and can’t reach it. Frank is going out the door. He’s meeting a client from the travel agency. Aristotle needs to eat. Heat up a bottle. Aristotle finishes dinner and needs to be changed again. I give him his bottle. He falls asleep. As I put him down, he wakes up again. I rock him. He gurgles and laughs and falls asleep. I put him down and climb into bed. Catch up on my reading. I open a book and fall asleep. I wake to find Frank nestling up to me in the bed. I can smell the beer. He wants sex. I wait.
David Halliday There is a special place in hell for mothers. It is on Earth. Doreen Henderson lingered for months in a dark place few could understand. The psychiatrists called it post-traumatic syndrome. A young woman, the widow slipped into middle-age over night. It was as if Doreen’s world had died on her that afternoon of the accident and she had awakened on a dead planet. She had been put on medication. There was therapy. Counseling. I tried to drop in on her every chance I got. When Doreen was released from the hospital I made it a point to visit her at home. For a while her sister from Winnipeg stayed with her. Neighbors kept an eye on her house, cut the grass, made sure her bills were paid, took her shopping, tried to return her to a normal life. It was suggested that Doreen sell her house, start fresh some place else. Doreen refused. Jeremy’s room was kept as it appeared on the day of the accident. Clothes were scattered on the floor. The bed was unmade. Homework waited to be finished on his desk. One day when I arrived, the fire department was at the house. Doreen had taken all of her husband’s clothes into the backyard and burnt them. My visits increased. Sometimes Doreen and I knelt down in her kitchen and prayed. Other times we sat in her den looking out the window at her garden, hardly speaking. “I hate him!” She cried out one day while we were praying. “Jesus loves you,” I responded reaching out for Doreen’s hand. She rose from the floor and marched into the living room. She had grabbed a picture of her husband and smashed it on the floor. She moved from picture to picture smashing each one. When she smashed a picture of her husband and her son together, she fell to her knees and wept uncontrollably.
David Halliday I have these awful thoughts. In the middle of the night. When I can’t get to sleep. Like a slide show. The planet. Devastated. Hardly a sign of life except for the odd building on the landscape. And the sky is a deep purple. Silver clouds drift by. And the land is black. Except for the ditches where water runs red. There are leafless trees on the horizon that look like crucifixes. And I’m the last person on the planet. Except for a mysterious dark stranger. We’re the Adam and Eve of the planet. And he’s a serial killer.
David Halliday Greg and Bower were such jerks. Twice they’d been questioned about break-ins at the school. Turning over desks, drawing obscene pictures on the blackboards, spilling the contents of the teacher’s desks around the room. All kinds of moronic s**t. But no one could ever prove anything. On the way to school they’d catch you and steal your lunch money. Never picked on little kids who might spill the beans to their parents. Only us older kids who were silenced by the code. Never rat out a kid to an adult. One time they chased me and David. I raced across the traffic on Kipling Avenue to safety. I almost got hit by a truck but it was worth the risk. I watched as they grabbed David by the feet and turned him over, shaking his change out of his pockets. They didn’t have to do that. David would have given it up but it pleased them to no end to humiliate him.
David Halliday I can never sleep. Soon as my head hits the pillow, my brain turns on. Ideas. Things that you can never imagine yourself thinking. For months I used to worry about my airplane. There’s a small airport near the trailer where people land small aircraft. And as soon as my head was horizontal I started to worry. Where did I park the airplane? It’s not like it wouldn’t be easy to find. There can’t be more than a couple dozen airplanes on the ground. But I couldn’t recall parking it anywhere. Keep me up for hours. And then one day I was in Durham in this small grocery store picking up a few vegetables when it suddenly dawned on me. I don’t have an airplane. One night I’m laying there worried about the poles. Not the country. The north and south pole. What if they switched? It had happened before. Would we wake up the next morning disoriented? Would the birds start flying north in the fall? Would we have to remake all our maps? Would Santa Claus have to seek out counseling? It’s a disorder. I’ve been tested for it and found wanting. What do they call 4 a.m.? The hour of the wolf? You go outside and there is a strange stillness in the air. It’s the hour when most people die. Just before the dawn. Up at the trailer I would go out and wander through the fields. Try and tire myself out. A couple of times I found myself the next morning, sleeping with the cows. Nothing romantic. But, I love cows. There’s a sad wisdom in their eyes. Don’t fool yourself. They know what’s in their future. They can smell barbecues miles away. But they’re resigned to their fate. It makes my heart sink. That’s why Madeleine and I became vegetarians. That lasted about six months until one night when I fell asleep in a field of carrots.
David Halliday “Trust me, Father, God hates me. He tried to kill me when I was born. My head was too big and my mother almost died. They had to use clamps on my head but the clamps broke so they cut into my mother’s bones. It was a real mess. The doctors figured I would have brain damage. I was tested. They didn’t find any damage but what does that mean? The way I figure it, I was brain damaged. I mean, I should have been a genius but I’m just average intelligence. It’s been a real disappointment to my parents. My dad is an airline pilot and my mom teaches at Humber College so they’re pretty smart. They figured they should have been set for life with a genius as a child but look what they got to show for everything – me.” Mackenzie Philips had to deal with all the trials of youth, bullies, school, parents who don't understand him. And God. Who Mackenzie believes is out to get him. God wants revenge. Because Mackenzie has committed a terrible crime. He's killed someone. He's killed two someones.
David Halliday I wanted to believe in something. I prayed. But all I could hear was the echoed clang of a clapper against a bell. The bell ringer was dead. The universe was empty… I was the miserable beggar on the street, my palms slashed red with the cuts from freshly minted coins… I was the bitch, the poor cur whining in the overheated parked car in the middle of the afternoon in the middle of a parking lot in the middle of the suburbs… I waited in the middle earth between paradise and suicide… I studied. I studied with Plato in the coldness of his cave, huddled around the fire as reality played out on the walls. I tried to find the sun but I could never find the entrance to the cave… I argued with Sartre in a room with no doors… I studied. Running along the streets of Copenhagen with Kierkegaard as the Danish brats pelted us with stones and laughter. I wanted to roast the little buggers over an open fire… I wept. Like hills into ditches into an empty sky… I saw a lonely man hanging from a tree and mistook him for Santa Claus. He looked down at me and smiled like a drunk in an alley. ‘Follow me,’ he entreated. ‘Or buy me another glass of wine. Or if you do not have any loose change, cut me down from this tree where I have been abandoned by the wind.’
David Halliday I don’t know how stories are supposed to end. We are in the midst of our lives, when life seems to drift on without us, fading away into the future. Nothing ends. Things dissolve into a new story, someone else’s story. What happened to Mackenzie Philips and his crazy death lock with God? Was Tom O’Malley able to nurture his tortured soul? And what about Frank and Monique? And Greg Tower? And the widow Henderson? And the killer watching from the shadows on the fringe of these stories? All these tales tightly intertwined for a brief spell only to loosen and unravel. Into what? God, I wish they all could have found some peace.
David Halliday Charlie laughed. “I was institutionalized a few times.” “Insane asylum.” “A hospital. They say that I was wired wrong. They put me on different drugs trying to set me right. Sometimes they worked. For a while. Sometimes they didn’t work at all.” They were silent for some time. “What’s it like to be crazy?” Charlie glanced at the boy. “It’s scary. One day you feel like Napoleon. Like you could conquer the world. Then you wake up. On the battlefield. After the armies have left. And all you can smell is dead bodies. And you’re one of them.” Mackenzie nodded. “I know the feeling.” “You remind me of someone I knew when I was a kid, kid.” “And who would that be?” “Me.” Charlie put his hand on the boy’s shoulder and squeezed. “Why don’t we go over and bowl a game?”
David Halliday The moon slept in its garden. Clouds as thin as lace were tangled in the treetops. Bats flickered in and out of the high branches. Down below in the long grass the crickets were too loud. Two teeth shone like nuggets in the dirt. The headlights from the Jaguar crawled across a young woman who lay naked except for the bra around her neck. Blood ran out of each corner of her mouth giving the impression of a smile. A clown’s smile. A tear running over her cheek. Her eyes were closed. Her hands were bound behind her. There were teeth marks on her neck. Her legs were spread apart. There were scratches along her inner thighs, which were quivering spasmodically. Off to the side in the darkness someone was sitting on their haunches, whimpering. Why’d you make me do it?
David Halliday Its odd being dead. Not what I expected. Like waiting in a doctor's office. Reading old magazines. But I'm here for a purpose. To help Sam move on. That’s my husband standing there next to the compost looking at his pipe. Sam. It’s gone out again. What possibly could be pleasurable about smoking a pipe when you spent half your time relighting it? Explains why women don’t smoke pipes. They don’t have the time to waste. It must be hot. Sam has taken a handkerchief out of his back pocket to wipe the sweat from around his neck. Odd thing about being dead. You don’t notice the heat.
Margaret Kelly is dead. But she can't help eavesdropping on her husband's life. He's a retired cop brought out for one last case. Margaret fears for Sam and for their son. She's knows that something is happening. She doesn't know what, or doesn't want to know. And then somewhere in her story she starts to disappear.
David Halliday The Exhibition is a story written like an Brueghel painting. Time turns on itself. Events are repeated and altered. Characters both dead and imaginary appear. At the core of the story is an exhibition of paintings. The paintings tell the story of the moments before, after, and surrounding the events in Dealey Plaza, on November 11, 1963. The assassination of John Kennedy. And amongst the crowd that packs the exhibition at the Zig |Zag bar is a serial murderer.
“I think you should have included those other pieces.” Sharmaine sipped her coffee. “The assassination shots?” Sharmaine nodded. Willy shook his head. “Jack said that they were too gruesome for his bar. He didn’t want his customers retching. The image of Kennedy’s brain’s splattered across Mrs. Kennedy’s face doesn’t run up the food bill. And the other one of Mrs. Kennedy trying to escape by crawling out over the trunk of the limousine. People still have to drive home. The third one, the autopsy of Kennedy was my favourite. I love the image of those doctors looking like Supreme Court judges dipping their fingers into the President’s head like it was a box of donuts.
David Halliday I don’t know if I said something wrong. But Paul changed. He wasn’t the Paul in the club. He started to act rough. He reached for the empty bottle of wine and smacked me on the head. I laid there for a while. Out of it. As I began to come to, I could feel his hands on my neck. And I passed out again. Slipping into a deep dark hole. The next time my head started to clear, I could hear him off to one side, near the bushes. He was crying. Like a baby. “Why did you make me do it?” he moaned. And then his little hands were around my neck again. I lay helpless on the ground, staring up into the clear night sky. And one by one the stars began to disappear.
David Halliday Sometimes I can’t remember what he looked like. Before my mom died. He seemed stronger back then. Taller. It’s like when my mom died something inside my father caved in. Waking up, I can hear my old man downstairs. He’s been up for hours. Don’t think that he ever sleeps. Wanders around the house like a ghost, mumbling. Sitting in the garden in a chair staring at his roses, talking to no one. Talking to the emptiness. Talking to mom. Living in his own world. Living in yesterday. Limbo. Broken. Drifting from one day to the next. In and out of the hours. Sometimes he looks happy. When I come home from school, I walk into the living room and sometimes find him sitting on the couch where I’d left him earlier that day. No television on. No music. Just sitting there. Sometimes he looks like he’s dead.
The last book in The Invisible Man series. A young boy is dealing with his mother's death, and a father who hasn't come to grips with his own grief. And a girl who doesn't see him. And in the background, a serial killer who is stalking her.
David Halliday Children have nightmares. They wake up in a sweat and cry out for their mothers. A village can have nightmares too. The villagers wake up and cry out for each other. These stories are about that nightmare.
Mackenzie Phillips sat up in his bed. He needed to stay awake. All the news about the dead body in the valley had spooked Mackenzie. Maybe Mackenzie was the next on the list. Glancing out the window he watched the slow sway of the treetops. His eyes became heavy. He began to dream. Mackenzie walked along Dundas Street. He took a seat on the bench across from the empty lot. And after the empty lot, there was only sky. A man sat at the other end of the bench reading a newspaper. Mackenzie had to think. He sat down. “God has been watching you,” the man with the newspaper said.
David Halliday The rain was black. Glistening asphalt like an engagement ring. Moon shattered in the puddles of shame, shards in the faces of pools. Motor oil slicks, cheap impressionistic cringes. Two dancers , Everest and Edna McGuire. The gentleman wore white. His lover wore red, glided across the parking lot. Glenn Miller was playing over the intercom that blasted out into the cafeteria after the events in Sandy Hook. Everest looked up to the heaven. Listen to those horns swing, he thought, without noticing that the sky was empty.
David Halliday In 2016 I buried my mother. I buried a world that had been reduced to a whisper. Two world wars, the roaring twenties, the great depression, the fifties, elvis presley. All a whisper. And I heard my mother in her death throes, crying like a drowning woman, crying my name. Like her mother had cried. And her mother. And now I'm at the end of my world. The world I was raised in. The good times. The Beatles. Trudeau. The assassinations. Vietnam. The Bomb. And I am so angry. I don't want to whisper. I want you bastards to wake up.
David Halliday 2017 was a year in the wrong century. The seventeenth century. My head was on a pike outside Newgate Castle. Or someone who looked like me. Laughing at the Prince. People are starting to fear what they say. Next year they will be afraid of what they think. This is a book of survival. Through a world become Dali. The jester is having his revenge on the king. We are standing on the walls, waiting for the enemy to arrive. Old age is another way of going mad.