Date Published: 1/31/2015

Mary watches in awe as a man plays guitar at gloomy Indianhead Reservoir. His skill is astonishing. But Mary is in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This man is a physiological oddity who suffered wicked abuse at the hands of his foster parents—for which he took revenge. He wants to be normal and whole again, but a manipulative psychiatrist has wakened the demons.
Mary will spend her last days chained in a basement—until she bears the child of a madman the media will call the Indianhead River Killer.
He will become Pennsylvania’s most prolific serial killer, and he will wreck the lives of the people in Belcorte. Twin Peaks meets The Silence of the Lambs in GATES OF PERDITION, the prequel to MIRRORS OF ANGUISH. 

Kurst Hellerman pulled a gold key from his pocked and unlocked the door to the study.
It was then that Arthur Townsend met the Monster of Belcorte. He sat in Hellerman’s study, tucked in the leather lounge chair. His eyes were closed. Immediately Arthur noticed the scars from his abusive background. His foster parents, Kurst said, had been devoutly religious. His foster father, in fact, had been a minister. The upbringing of this patient—Kurst called him Patient X—was riddled with malevolence.
When they had entered the room, Patient X’s eyes had flickered open, but he did not speak. Only the heaving of his chest indicated his heart still beat, that blood still surged through his veins.
Kurst circled the leather chair, stood behind the patient, and placed a palm each on his shoulders. “I’ve brought a friend. Would you like to meet my friend?”
Patient X’s gaze traveled from oblivion and fell on Arthur. One side of his face was so badly burned that he looked half human and half … something else. Maybe an opossum, its fur burned down to its pink skin.
As Arthur would replay that image in his mind the next several weeks—as the months traveled by, he would remember it as an image of great horror. And sometime he would wake in the black of night, startle and jump up in bed, and that face, that terribly ruined face, was imprinted in his mind.
For now, though, he felt a wave of sadness—a sadness that squeezed his heart and pricked at his throat. Who had done these things to another human being? What cowardly monster? That his parents were responsible, that this man had suffered at the hands of parents who worshiped a figurehead named Jesus—likely a delusional schizophrenic like the Muslim Muhammad—left him not terribly surprised. And despite this wave of sadness, Arthur felt threatened. He was compelled to leave the room.
Patient X said, “I can smell her perfume on you. Where is she?”
Who was he referring to? Heaven forbid, was it Margaret, or was it one of his self-aggrandizing hussies who sat in his—
No, it was Margaret. He hadn’t lectured, not since this morning. With the word “who” on his lips, Arthur gazed across at Kurst, who was lost in his own delusional grin, those eyes burning like pilot lights.

Guest Post

Tapping into reality
Imagination is important for a writer, but experience get us just as far—maybe further.
Leaving the confines of our office
While it's almost a cliché to think of a writer as a recluse--and to one degree or another we are reclusive—the writer who wants to learn about people goes out there and interacts. We go to the barber shop and strike up a conversation. We talk to our friends and family—really talk to them. We go beyond disobedient children and the shortcomings of marriage. We find out what makes people who they are. We can have a hundred imaginary conversations in our head, but I doubt they're as vivid as the conversations at the barber shop. The barber shop is like an all-guy planet, and this is where we go to escape. And sometimes we talk about why we can't understand women better.
The wonder of creatures living under a rock—how we love them. Or, perhaps, how we're repulsed by them. But they are fascinating, provided they don't crawl on us. The behavior of a cat is none too mysterious. Cats tend to be nocturnally affectionate. In the day, they're more reclusive. Sometimes they go on the back of the couch to peer at the bird feeder, and if there's a bird feeding, they make their obligatory chattering sound. What makes your favorite room so great? Is it the fireplace, the antique clock on the mantle, or is the seating is comfortable and perfectly arranged? We don't just observe visually. There's the rhythmic ticking of the cuckoo clock in the dining room, the purring of the refrigerator, and when we're in the office alone and someone approaches, we know who it is by the footsteps.
The signature Jamaican taste is roughly two ingredients: allspice and Caribbean habaneros (aka scotch bonnets). Jamaicans started using the scotch bonnet pepper apparently because electricity in Jamaica is a little iffy (or it was). Scotch bonnets, which are extremely high in capsaicin, are excellent food preservatives. Ed Gein, Albert Fish, Ted Bundy—these are famous United States serial killers, and one might think that the United States has the market cornered on serial killers. One would be wrong. China, Russia, and South America have had some of the most savage and prolific serial killers in the history of mankind. And what about serial murder? Is it the result of nature, of nurture, or both? We read and draw our own conclusions.
I was so concerned about character depth in my first book that I went through and assigned one of the sixteen personality types to every major character, and then I made certain that each character behaved according to plan. It worked out great. Or maybe it didn't. By my second and third novel, I couldn't be bothered to assign personality types. The characters were who they were. Is that all we are, zodiac signs and personality types? A set of distinct rules? All things being equal—perhaps. But things are never equal. Two people with the same personality type have lived completely different lives. One is black. One is white. One is male. One is female. Even twins live different lives. So I no longer assign personality types. I would much rather spend time getting a character's dialogue voice down than placing her in a prism where she has to obey a narrow set of rules. I still know her—I know her parents, her relatives, her friends. I know whether she's been naughty or nice. But the point is she's a person, not a checklist.
On our tendencies
I tend to complicate things. Simple problems become difficult. I research things to death, even when a problem's as simple as replacing my old vacuum cleaner with a new one. I'm driven by instinct, but in many cases I need to justify my instincts. Why is it that one brand of vacuum appeals to me more than another? What if the one I buy spits out screws and bellows smoke? Research, research, research, and endless research. I'm also enamored of complex things. I like progressive music. I like intricate craftsmanship. I like movie directors such as Ingmar Bergman and Atom Egoyan. Thus it should come as no surprise that I write complex stories. These stories aren't for everyone. Should I restrain myself in order to make my work more appealing to the masses, or should I continue to do what I do? A fallen angel once remarked that it's better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven--and perhaps there's a molecule of wisdom in the message, despite the messenger. The choices ... they're ours. We just have to be aware of who we are, and if we do decide to change—even a little—it ought to be our choice and not someone else's.
On doing it alone
We can get out there and live a little, and we can adapt, and we can be aware of our tendencies. But a book--that's the part we do alone. And it's the path we walk alone. Sure, other writers may sympathize with us, but when we create, we're on a lonesome journey. We're Dorothy, and there's no scarecrow and no tin man, and no lion. Toto's not even by our side. But what we do have is our memories. Every experience, every bit of wisdom we've heard—it's all stored in our heads like an attic full of memories.
Life is made of memories.

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R.P. was enamored of horror from a young age, where he would sneak down to the family room with his mother sleeping, turn on that big console television--think 1970s here--and watch a double shot of horror on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater.
He then took to creative writing, borrowing pieces of his favorite films. Today, he writes a unique blend of literary mystery and horror—throw in some crime now and then. It's one part H.P. Lovecraft and one part David Lynch and one part Kurt Vonnegut—and probably some other stuff, too. He is author of three books: Mirrors of Anguish, Demon of the Fall, and Gates of Perdition. He also co-authored Dangerous Grace, a soon-to-be-released erotic thriller. 

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