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Twenty minutes before I went to heaven, I was listening to music from the Italian film Discoteca del purgatorio (“Dancing Like Hell”, 1968, Colour). Old music YouTube is generally a wholesome place to be, so I scrolled down to read what people thought of it.

Of course they’d be fawning all over how they connected to the film. Of course they’d be mentioning emotional anecdotes (probably made-up) about how the films of Luca Carlozzi impacted their lives. I’d written a few of those myself, back in the day.

Now it’s true I’ve seen many movies in my life. It’s kind of a requirement, when you’re aspiring to be a filmmaker. Luca Carlozzi, however, was on a different level entirely. His movies were obscure and hard to find, but they spoke to me, not just through their stories and dialogue, but through their sheer imagery, through the camera movement, the blocking, the editing, even the props he used. I mean, I have a replica of the striped shirt worn by Valentino Bergamo in I giovani americani (“Oh, Those Poor Young Americans!”, 1969, Colour).

I was thinking of an anecdote to add to this video’s comments, but I decided to read what was already there first.

“Who else is here after they heard about Carlozzi? What an absolute legend he was.”

29 upvotes. 2 weeks ago.

The music separated from itself like an amoeba and I stopped following its rhythm while I frantically slid my finger across the touchpad and bombarded the keyboard. I misspelled Carlozzi, but sure enough, there it was - mostly on Italian websites and niche film blogs.

I sat there, staring through the laptop screen until it went black. I got up from my seat and walked with the wall for support (just like Zaira Vial in Il coltello chiamato amore (“Blood on the Wedding Dress”, 1973, Colour)). With every step I took, I felt my the life I knew get ripped away from my hands, like a newborn baby from its crying mother.

“I can’t begin my career until I’ve met Signore Carlozzi myself,” I had told the people who knew me. “Without his blessing, without his personal attention—I will never make films that amount to anything.”

I imagined Carlozzi’s funeral. I imagined his coffin being lowered (top-down shot, slow zoom out). I could be on a flight to Milan right now, and all I’d get to see is his gravestone. He wouldn’t place his hand on me. He wouldn’t struggle to pronounce my name. He wouldn’t tell me I have a bright future in filmmaking ahead of me.

While my parents snored in their bed, I walked past their room like a zombie and to the little shrine we had in the house. I fell to my knees (it hurt more than I thought it would), and I slapped my hands together in prayer.

“I’ve never believed in you,” I said, my voice low and guttural. “Not once. But this time, you will take me to where you’ve taken Luca Carlozzi.”

The incense smoke wafted into my nostrils, and the dim red light made the shrine look positively sinister. I clenched my eyes shut again. “Please!”

And this time, I heard a voice. I felt like I was being lifted up by two pairs of strong, muscled arms, right from where I had been kneeling. No, that was actually happening. Two burly, bearded men where forcing me to stand, and the camera suddenly zoomed into a close-up on the cigar-smoking, white-suited Saul Fasciano, as he swivelled in his chair and crossed his legs with a grin for years.

“You wanted to meet me, yes? Now you are here, but you will never leave this place.” Saul threw his head back and laughed as the music blared in alarm.

“Sorry,” I replied, unable to stop smiling. “I wasn’t looking to move here.”

And just like that, I shifted my weight according to a technique I had learned in Japan, and one of the burly men was flying into the other. The two collapsed into a pile, and Fasciano stood up and golf-clapped. The subtitles under his face were yellow and rough-edged. “What a shame. You could have made a good couple… seeing as I already have Nicole!”

The camera panned to a glimmering curtain, which was suddenly parted to reveal Zaira Vial in a torn, revealing dress, with a tape across her mumbling mouth and palpable fear in her eyes.

“Nicole!” I screamed, even as the white-suited mob boss laughed (no closed captions).

An animated wipe of the screen took me to the streets of Rome, where Valentino Bergamo was leaning against his striped sportscar, his face impassive beneath the sunglasses and hat. “Took you long enough,” he said. “Miss Crawford.”

I blushed, and I let him hold the fingers of my hand. “Please, Alessio,” I said, moving my shoulders for sex appeal. “I told you to call me Faith. Just Faith.”

He lifted my fingers to his lips and kissed them so softly, it was like they’d been touched by petals. “Just Faith,” he said. “What else do I need?”

Another wipe transition. I stood amidst a row of men, all of us wearing nothing but our underwear. A grey-uniformed German officer (played by an older Eliana Lico) berated us in bad German, whipping one of the American prisoners at random.

I’d even seen this one, and I knew exactly what was going to happen (it was one of Carlozzi’s seven pornographic films). It was painful, erotic, and thoroughly skeezy. Nevertheless, it was directed by Carlozzi, which meant that there was a certain genius behind it all.

Just as the most painful (and most erotic) scene was coming on, I heard Carlozzi.

“Cut!” he announced.

Crew members materialised on the scene as Eliana put on a towel and walked off the scene. I stood there, hairy and exposed as Carlozzi walked up to me and put a hand on my shoulder. He was shorter than me, and he was wearing glasses under his hat.

“You’re not doing it the way I want you to do it, Guido,” he said. There were no subtitles, but I understood every word he was saying.

“I’m sorry, signore,” I said, almost desperate to lower myself in front of his greatness. “I will do exactly as you tell me to. Working with you has been my dream, signore, I can’t tell you how much—”

He shook his head and laughed. “You’re doing great,” he said. “Keep doing what you’re doing. Remember, making a good movie is more important than realising your dream.”

He patted my shoulder and returned to his chair as we prepared for another take.

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There was someone sad, he had gone through something tragic with his lover. This other man heard of his tragedy and told him to be happy. He told the sad man that he was lucky to have experienced such a tragic event. To rejoice in the romantic nature a tragedy brings. I didn’t understand this man at first but now I do. You and I, we were a tragedy but oh how lucky were we to experience this. Many people go on with thier lives, living a mediocre existence with a mediocre person, settling for the abysmal commodities life offers. You and I, we took something from life without it being given to us. And for a while we went to war. Us against life. We eventually lost. But, who else could say they have experienced this.

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In return, how is your writing going? Are there specific publishing goals you want to hit in 2020, or are you more focused on getting outlines, etc crafted?

Hola! 😁 Originally, my plan was to launch Apartment this month - this past Friday, in fact! But about four months back, since I started working full-time, I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to keep up with the schedule and plan that I had figured out. It was too rigorous and demanded too much of my time - time I no longer had, with my job in the picture.

Now, that plan has kind of been thrown out the window! 😅😅😅 It doesn’t help that I’m second-guessing publishing Apartment first - or at all. But my followers here have shown such a huge support for it more than any other of my WIPs and so I’m thinking of actually maybe changing it up and to be more of a solid suspense thriller and not quite so abstract, since I think the suspense and mystery is what readers are really reacting to so far. That’s something I need to figure out this year.

Other than that, I’m hoping to finish The Fall of the Black Masks in the first half of this year, and AEIYM in the second half. Those are my main goals. I really hope I can stick to the goals!

I also have plans to put together a small collection of my poetry and short stories, but we shall see about that.

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Memang kenapa jika Adikku Lebih Dulu?

“jadi gimana perasaan kakak setelah dilangkahi?” tanya seorang paman tepat sehari setelah keluarga kami melangsungkan pernikahan adik perempuanku

“biasa saja Paman” jawab ku

“Paman juga dulu dilangkahi kak, dan rasanya gak biasa saja. Kamu jangan bohonglah sama paman”

“tapi kakak memang merasa biasa saja paman. Kakak tidak merasa bahwa keadaan kakak saat ini menyedihkan. Kakak rela, kakak ikhlas bahwa kakak memang harus dilangkahi”

“saat paman menikahi tantemu, dia juga melangkahi abangnya. Abangnya bilang dia ikhlas, persis seperti yang kakak katakan sekarang. Tapi, ketika kami meminta restunya sekali lagi, dia menangis sambil memeluk kami”

“Paman, bisa saja dia menangis terharu karena adiknya kini tlah dewasa. Adik kecilnya, kini tlah menjadi seorang istri. Kakak juga menangis saat memeluk Ara, kakak tidak menyangka bahwa Ara, anak kecil yang menemani kakak tidur selama 25th belakangan ini, Ara yang setiap hari taunya hanya bertengkar dengan kakak dan Ara yang tidak dapat melakukan apapun tanpa kakak skrg ini tlah dewasa. Dia sudah berani memutuskan untuk menjadi seorang istri” aku terdiam sejenak mencoba menata kalimat ku

“Paman, yang kakak tangisi saat memeluk Ara adalah karena kini Ara sudah milik orang lain. Kakak akan kehilangan seorang teman tidur, teman berantem dan teman kakak berbagi cerita sebelum tidur. Bukan menangis karena merasa nasib kakak menyedihkan.

"Paman, kakak percaya bahwa Daun yang jatuh pun sudah ditentukan nasibnya oleh Allah Swt. Kakak bisa apa jika yang tertulis adalah Ara menemukan jodohnya lebih dulu. Yang kakak bisa lakukan hanya berusaha memberikan yang terbaik untuk kebahagiaan Ara. Melakukan yang terbaik untuk membuat Ara bahagia. Dan tentu saja, kakak juga berusaha terus memperbaiki diri kakak agar saat jodoh kakak datang, dia tak menyesal menemukan kakak sedikit lebih lama. Dan kakak percaya, Jodoh kakak juga saat ini sedang melakukan hal yang sama dengan kakak. Berusaha memperbaiki dirinya”

Paman ku hanya diam dan mendengarkan kemudian berkata “Paman gak nyangka kakak sudah sedewasa ini.”

Aku tertawa mendengar kata2 pamanku. Ku anggap itu sebagai pujian. Kemudian Paman melanjutkan “Kakak juga jangan lupa berdoa. Minta sama Yang Maha Kuasa, Sang Pemilik Segalanya agar jodoh kakak segera dipertemukan. Agar jodoh kakak tak lagi berkelana kemana mana dan segera menghampiri kakak. Paman bangga sama kakak dan paman akan selalu mendoakan yang terbaik untuk kakak”

“terimakasih banyak Paman. Pokoknya nanti kalo kakak nikah paman harus kasih sesuatu yang luar biasa untuk kakak yaa” ucapku sambil tertawa dan mengakhiri percakapan


Dan yaa,

Aku baik baik saja dan tidak merasa hidupku menyedihkan hanya karena adikku menikah lebih dulu. Aku percaya, Allah akan segera mempertemukan ku dengan jodohku setepatnya secepatnya ♥

Tebing Tinggi. 2020.01.20

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The Smoke That Follows

Consider first the innocent flame

born of the cross-sparks between our gazes.

Consider second that kisses can ignite cotton.

Then after withering to the floor


that you once stood.

But instead of my intense crazy


try and see only the why.

Close your eyes

and imagine

the ungraspable truth about smoke,

and why when putting puzzles together

we sort our pieces first into two piles:

one for edges,

and one for middles

(except when those puzzles are ourselves).

But this time

imagine my decision to “lose it” less of a decision


Try and see it as me sorting my edge pieces all to the frontline

so I can seem as usual as possible,

while silmutaneously reverting inwardly

with whatever precious middles I find

to horde feverishly

for the rest of forever.

See it as the smoke that follows the flame.

Watch it twist and seemingly disperse.

With savage pokes

I rummage through the ashy mounds

recently abandoned by their flames.

I am digging

for a sign of the sparks from before.

Being a man,

I wonder if ours

were as bright as the brightest

of all other sparks, post and prior.

Being a coward

I never ask.

Whatever the answer

we both know that our middles got mixed up long ago.

That’s how I know that without me

no matter where you go

the best you’ll ever be

is busy sorting.

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So uh… has anyone ever just though, “Man, my fight scenes suck. Lemme just roll a d20 and play D&D with my characters so the fight feels natural.”

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