January 2010 found me lying in a hospital bed, the Intensive Care Unit. Drained of platelets, pierced with intravenous needles, I spent most of my time deep sleep. I drifted in and out of consciousness. My immune system was so weak, the doctor told me that I needed to have the will to live, if I was going to stand a chance in hell of fighting this. What does one say to that?
That night I went to sleep and my subconscious decided to throw a curveball at me. I dreamt I was on stage for the set of Phantom of the Opera, decked out in Christine’s pristine white ballgown. I was facing stage left, holding a mask on. Stage left was Raul – he had an ordinary face, on an ordinary man’s body… the kind of look you know would be unrecognizable if you had to describe it to a sketcher… and instinctively, I felt evil. I felt as though Raul was the very dark angel in disguise (the devil? Azrael? Uriel?) because he was pointing at the floor and beckoning me with his hands. I looked at the floor and saw my own body outlined in chalk, the kind you see in a Humphrey Bogart black and white movie.
I panicked, and shook my head, and tried to say “No”. But couldn’t find my voice. Then Raul looked to his right and I turned just in time to see a massive room-sized chandelier swing my way….
The next day I woke up and my platelet count steadily improved. This was the closest thing I’ve had to a near death experience. Some would call it an “oceanic”, “out-of-body” state of consciousness. Acquitted from the hospital, I firmly resolved to allow myself to do the thing I have always wanted to do – to make life count —- to write. And so, the pages of the Black Tail gradually unfolded.