An Excerpt from Crossing Main by T J Therien

They closed down the Asylum on the outskirts of town a few years back. Would you believe they just released the patients? Just like that, people who had been institutionalized for large chunks of their lives were rubberstamped “Sane” and turned out onto the streets. It’s not like they had been cured, or anything, far from it. In fact, all their phobias and neurosis remained intact. In some cases their “Isms” were exasperated by the sudden change in their environment. For the most part, the former patients were not equipped with the skills they needed to survive in the real world. As a result most took to wandering the streets by day and sleeping on benches or in back alleys at night.

Being adjacent to the Madhouse, our sleepy little town felt the brunt when it was shut down. We were close enough in proximity that our town became a magnet for the former patients. The “Crazies,” as the townsfolk affectionately called them although some of the more eccentric earned their own little monikers like “Odd Todd” and “Slow Joe.” Really, for the most part they were harmless enough and posed no real danger. Still, nobody knew what to do about the problem. At first, police would round them up, but because they didn’t belong in jail and because there was nowhere else to keep them, once again they were just released. Homelessness became epidemic. Sure, we always had a couple of drunks and ne’er do wells, but nothing like after they closed the Mental Hospital.

So much like other callous cost cutting measures that fray the fabric of society, the powers that be gave little thought to the consequences of fiscal austerity. This should surprise nobody. Empathy and compassion are traits possessed by too few politicians and government workers. Common sense and good conscience are seldom criteria for policy, nor are they qualifiers in the decision making process. Shutting down the Mental Hospital was just a classic case of saving a few nickels and dimes at the expense of our humanity. It’s all about dollars, not sense.

Residents petitioned the politicians, first at the local level, then to the State and lastly to the Fed. Each in turn passed the buck to the next until it circled around to the first and the process began all over again. In the end nothing was done. The townsfolk gradually accepted the quirky ensemble of former patients squatting in the streets.

The good folk of our town did what good folk do, short of taking the former patients into their own homes. They did no more than they did for the drunkards and ne’er do wells. Good folk are almost always long on good intentions, but when it comes down to it, they don’t really want to get their hands dirty and people are messy, especially the mentally ill. So it fell to charity to care for these poor people and we all know the result that reaps. Instead of putting money directly to solutions Charities buy band aids with the money that’s left over after the marketing campaigns and salaries are paid. Like really, has any Charity ever cured any social ail? And so the problem persisted.

This is why no one took notice of the shabby man shuffling down the main drag with an old apple-crate tucked under his arm. Such sights had become so common-place in our sleepy little town that nobody discerned anything different from the shabby stranger and the other “Crazies.” He was just another invisible man, a stench that people sidestep to avoid the smell sticking to them. Those who did see him shot him looks of derision as he waded through the pedestrian traffic at the busiest time of the day.

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A New Project

“The children played along the banks of the river to wash off the heat of the midday sun while servants fetched water for cooking and washing. Among the children were Pyramus, the son of a wealthy merchant and Thisbe, the daughter of a household slave, though they were far too young to make that distinction. They had been raised under the same roof, albeit to a different degree of privilege, but were otherwise very much surrogate brother and sister, much to their parent’s dissatisfaction.”

(This is the first draft opening paragraph of my latest project. I will be taking on the classic tale of Pyramis and Thisbe, first attributed to Ovid and also tackled by the likes of Chaucer and Shakespeare, not that I am in their league, but because I think I have a fresh take on the story.)

 

T J Therien

Author Seeks Editor

I regrettably announce that I have removed Scrolls of Sion: Broken Bloodlines from my catalogue. Broken Bloodlines will be re-published at a date in the future yet to be determined. Scrolls of Sion: Rise of the Dark Queen will remain available digitally for free as will Liars, Hypocrites & the Development of Human Emotion. I have decided before proceeding with publishing any other books I would like to find an Editor who I can work with on an ongoing basis. I need to find the right person for the job and that could take a while.

In the meantime I will continue to write and create. In future I may use this space as a testing ground for some of my writing. I am going to try to keep a schedule of posting once a week, I am just trying to determine what day that will be. This page will still be primarily dedicated to the poetry I write although I reserve the right to post whatever my given fancy on any given day.

T J Therien

Progress Report:

As most of you know I went back to work on my Romance (Forever: The First Epoch and the Birth of Love) on August 1st. In doing so I made a crucial decision to make a significant change to the story despite having ten very publishable chapters already written. I have been able to keep much of that original text intact but have had to alter a few things for the sake of continuity. As of today this is my growing table of contents and the chapters that have been written.

Chapter 1 (The Girl)
Chapter 2 (The Boy)
Chapter 3 (The Young Hunter)
Chapter 4 (Clashing Spears)
Chapter 5 (The Birds and the Bees)
Chapter 6 (The Long Night)
Chapter 7 (The Cave Behind the Falling Water)
Chapter 8 (A Hard Lesson)
Chapter 9 (Monkey See Monkey Do)
Chapter 10 (The Quest for Fire)
Chapter 11 (Blue Eyes)
Chapter 12 (A Deer in a Den of Wolves)
Chapter 13 (The Weight of Wood)
Chapter 14 (A Seed Planted)
Chapter 15 (A Tribe of Two)

Well that’s it for now folks. Back to the grind. Have a good one.

Update:

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August 1st I began work on my Romance “Forever: The First Epoch and the Birth of Love” I also picked up a notebook for a little side project “Essays of an Uneducated Man” which I will work on when I’m on the bus, subway, or streetcar to put those hours I commute to better use.

Snapshot_20150724_1

Update

For those interested. I am currently reformatting “Liars, Hypocrites & the Development of Human Emotion.” I hope to have the re-formatted edition ready for August 1st. Changes include the addition of a Preface, removing the emphasis on Poetic form and categorizing by subject matter and the deletion of the short stories at the back of the book. The Stories will be re-edited and included in a book of short stories. On August 1st my attention will turn to completing “Forever: The First Epoch” (my Romance) with the intention of publishing on Valentine’s Day 2016. Well that’s about it from the update front, with the exception of cutting ties with the Toronto Writers Collective over philosophical and ethical differences in dealing with marginalized communities. The main difference being I refuse to see people as anything but people, I believe the TWC is more interested in keeping the grant money and donations flowing than they are in taking an interest in the actual lives of the people that attend the workshops which are held in homeless shelters, women’s shelters, rape crisis centers, the gay village, etc… People are identified by the workshop they attend and paid employees of the TWC and their partner Ve’ahavta are not permitted to form friendships with people that have used Ve’ahavta services. That person is forever branded a Client by a charitable organization and hence in my mind are practicing a subtle form of systemic discrimination of people who were at one time homeless. Although, housed and leading a productive life they are used as nothing more than feel good stories to generate more money. I also believe it is one thing to say inside a workshop that all works are to be treated as fiction and quite another to say that to the world at large when bringing attention to these writings by means of Spoken Word Events, Video Testimonial on their web page and through their intention to publish the works of participants using words like Words from the Street and Authentic Voice which actually imply the verity of the words written by participants. I see it as borderline exploitation as there is little benefit to the individual, the organizations benefit and can continue to pay salaries and raise awareness, but the participant will have to live with the knowledge there is a percentage of people that will judge them because their stories were made public, even if it is with consent, I do not feel participants are properly informed of the possible consequences that could arise from sharing in so public a forum. Also there is a lack of interest to develop Participants as Writers beyond getting their personal stories.

Anyway that’s it for me, stay posted for news of the re-release of the new and improved “Liars, Hypocrites & the Development of Human Emotion.

T J Therien