Matthew Phillion is an actor and short story writer. A newspaper editor for several years, Phillion won a New England Press Association Award for a column focusing on the 9-11 tragedy and a National Electronic Publishing Association Award for his Hurricane Katrina coverage.His prose has a noirish quality and has been compared to Sam Shepard and Richard Brautigan.
Phillion, a graduate from Merrimack College, has appeared in dozens of independent films.
PFP Publishing is proud to announce the release of Matthew Phillion's first collection of stories, Preludes and Codas.
The book will be available during the fourth quarter of 2013.
Excerpts from Preludes and Codas:
...The first time I saw Lynette she looked like a fallen bird, some broken thing knocked from the sky by bad luck and too little faith in gravity.
Swathed in white, the flimsy material of her costume lay wrinkled and pale against the harsh stage lights. One leg out in front of her, covered in cream-colored nylon, bent gently, toe pointed. The other, tucked awkwardly beneath her. Angular shoulders, dusted with pale freckles, rose and fell with her breathing. Her face hidden, only the top of her head, dark hair brutally yanked back into a bun, visible to me.
Music played on the small radio sitting on a folding chair nearby, just outside the oval of light.
Later, I would learn everything else.
That Lynette was born in rural New England, and that her mother died of breast cancer when she was twelve. That her father passed away five years later, leaving her only eight hundred dollars and a handgun. That she cried every time she heard “Hey, Jude,” and that she listened to the Cure when she touched herself late at night and all alone. I’d also learn that she’d been a functioning anorexic since she was eight years old.
That she always loved ballet, and had prayed — prayed like a poor man at the races, that she would not grow too tall to dance professionally. Had never had a drink or smoked a cigarette or tasted a drug in all of her twenty-three years. Lost her virginity in a manner that was nasty, brutish, short and voluntary on her nineteenth birthday. And that she trusted no one, not even me despite it all, and particularly not herself, which proved, in the end, to be her downfall.
I learned all of these things, the intimate details of a life lived on the very edge of the stage, in the way intimate details are always learned, in quiet moments and whispered secrets and, hand in hand, when two people almost surrender to each other. Almost. Enough to see through the cracks. But only almost.
I still don't know if I ever learned who she was. We only know each other through the truths and illusions we present as ourselves.
It began, though, with a broken dancer on the floor and a strange waltz in electric guitar on the radio. When she looked at me for the first time, eyes green and damp, she seemed to recognize me somehow. Or expect to. Maybe she knew more than I did what we would become.
* * *
* * *
Audrey-Jean has no place in Boston.
And, I have no right to have met her here, but there she is, with her sad smiles and her soul patched together with scraps from worn out denim. She's a country music girl, and I don't mean country music like they play on the radio. AJ doesn't listen to big-voiced ladies pretending they've got dirt on the soles of their feet, and not one for the brightly colored shirt set. She’s one of the few people who are able to let the sounds of harmonica and slide guitar flow through her like it means something. Old country, the kind that used to be white man's blues, it should be dead by now, except it has that way of surviving, like a bastard feral cat tormenting the neighborhood and howling for your spayed kitten's cherry by the light of a bright, bright moon.
I don't know exactly where she's from. She's never said. The only glimpse of whatever unfortunate landscape AJ walked away from at sixteen years old is a story she tells of watching a thunderstorm clamor like some dark beast across a field of high, dry grass. She talks about standing there, hair whipping in her face, and how the sky looked the way heaven probably does for people who don't belong there. Indigo clouds and flashes of blue and white lightning waiting to be born.
She won't say what she's running from, but then again, neither will I. That's the reason you run in the first place.
There are two kinds of runners. The first will run and lie, tell you stories about big backyards and golden retrievers and fathers they call “Pops”. The other kind can't lie, so they omit, leave all the ugliness out, and yet, you know it's there because of the big empty spaces in their lives. Empty frames in an art museum, no images to behold. That's Audrey-Jean, eyes looking at you like a couple of broken-voiced singers harmonizing over banjo and rhythm guitar. Betraying no secrets, uttering no lies.
And, maybe that's me too. But sometimes, I think that would be giving myself too much credit.
(c) 2012 Matthew Phillion
(c) 2012 Matthew Phillion