“Gods, Gaiman, and Birthdays oh my.”

I deter here in my journey to enlighten you for a few brief moments. I tried to turn my children into readers from day one. All of them late starters but once started it was a nonstop road. I never could turn any of them on to Sandman. not a one… maybe the youngest. it took Coraline to get the oldest into Neil Gaiman. And the American Gods miniseries to turn her onto the books. The youngest is only 13 so we are only as far as “the Graveyard Book”. Good Omens turns them around though and we all have all read it now. Well except the 13-year-old who is obsessed with the PlayStation and his VR. there is a Gaiman VR game he is mightily proud of knowing though and Neil’s wife makes awesome music…

My middle son is autistic and lives at a special school two hours south. He finally agreed last year to start with Coraline. From there it grew. But the real love came in one of our many cars trips home to visit. I had borrowed “American Gods” on Audio to listen to with him. He had enjoyed Good Omens on audio, and I thought this was a good way to enjoy two hours of odd time stuck in a car. Monkeys and spider balls and he was hooked. The next week a trip to Barnes and Noble included a book. then another. and soon the used bookstores and more Gaiman.

Then Covid.

I parked my car in the garage with only 2 hours to go on the cd. We pulled out the book to finish it. as he was now home with us on lockdown as it happened on time home for a weekend. 2 weeks was now 8 weeks and Amazon was mailing a Gaiman a week to this kid.

He had remembered a few years back not returning a Gaiman that he liked but I had found a year later and returned. So, we bought that. We bought his sister a book. We got graphic novels, audiobooks etc.

In time for his birthday was Sandman on audible.. Yay. more to listen.

This was a boy hooked on anime now reading. Maturing. asking questions. listening for the wolves in the walls. Questioning Mazes. Wondering where Neverwhere is.

We broke through with the books.

We now had a common denominator.

For his birthday this upcoming weekend we bought “Trigger Warning” on Audible. He is turning 16 and coming home for a week.

The trip is 2 hours, no give no take. exactly two hours. Through towns that have roughly 1000 to 1700 people. There are four small towns. 8 places to pee. And ice cream … beautiful old houses lines by the wonderland of Americas train system. Many a night you will see a train pass a small cemetery of settler’s lights full speed ahead shining brightly on the roadside tombstones and attractions.

The school for autism is in the historic town of Lafayette Indiana. He is high functioning but still on that edge. The world is quite too much. Lafayette is a wonderful town. To the left right north and south though is Nothing…We make do finding ghosts buildings and learning history of the surroundings. what little there is.

Anthony od the twilight zone set up the cornfield for miles…

Sometimes I wonder if Anthony’s good life is his brain adapting to his own superpowers on the spectrum. Or maybe he has been to Indiana a few too many times.

You go an hour with these things and sometimes it’s a little unsettling. But to watch my son Julien marvel at it all sets your brain in a new light.

Trigger Warning is many short stories. The longest probably is his introduction in the beginning. Almost an hour of his wonderful accent keeping you either completely at peace or waiting to jump scare you with soft wards them BAM your own mind pops and he doesn’t even need to raise a voice…. No, it was soft this whole time. no surprises. just the love of what he does. I asked Julien if he wanted to skip to the stories…NO… he was truly engrossed asking questions… Almost as if he thought I knew Neil and could just ask Neil to tell him. He doesn’t get the celebrity thing.

The Ray Bradbury story was the best. To watch my son, ask over and over how he could possibly know ray and WOW.

Ray is a hero of mine as well, He tells all writers to write every day. stay a writer you know.

As we turned the corner to drive through more corn, he was talking about things that go bump and haunted houses. And yes, another roadside cemetery. Although Neil’s voice was very calming, I almost thought he knows we would be passing the appropriately named “Idle Cemetery”

I was almost bummed when the stories started.

Julien had to explain a few things to me I had missed having only read a few of these myself. A fan yes but nowhere near superfan. I just wish I had more time to read. I need to make more time to read… I need to make more time to write.

I will share this little bit.

Into the world of autism…

Neil was discussing the love of a statue and his soon to me future wife. I had tears in my eyes. It was beautifully told.

Julien asked why I made me sad. I said it was beautiful. that perplexed him. But I could see the wheels turning. he mumbled true love and went back to listening.

I said not only sad things make people cry. Love makes people cry. he blushed and went back to listening. I think he felt it.

He had a tooth pulled today so this helped the trip go by fast. His birthday is Sunday and tomorrow involves book shopping online. We are just not there on going to a bookstore right now. he has the library page saved to borrow a few but he pretty much has exhausted the Gaiman collection at the local library.

My son not only asked for books for his birthday. he asked for Gaiman books. He asked to use his library card.

We were going to watch American Gods, but he says the casting is all off. he is very particular how he sees them all…The only one he liked was Anansi. Which he added was kind of a better book…I think we will try to find Neverwhere the miniseries.

Neil talked about love and his wife a few times in the introduction. This is my love note back to him.

Thank you, Neil, for love of books. And the love of books your brought to a boy just shy of turning 16 whose world in his head had room for you.

“Everybody has a secret world inside of them. I mean everybody. All of the people in the whole world, I mean everybody — no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds… Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe.”
― Neil Gaiman, A Game of You


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