The Journey of SILVER BROWN

The Curious Case of Elmýr Garfield

My first apartment in Toronto was literally right next door to a Buddhist temple. Every Sunday morning, I could hear the sound of the gongs coming right through my walls. Never saw the inside of that temple, though. Mostly on account of the fact that it was a Theravada sanctuary catering to the diaspora, and I don’t speak a lick of Vietnamese outside of exactly one word. But I nevertheless appreciated the vibrations of those gongs every Sunday. After spending Monday through Friday (and frequently Saturday to boot) catering to the hyper-frazzled demands of The Machine, that weekly dose of sonic medicine was a most welcome reprieve.

The day those healing vibrations stopped came when my building was sold to a new owner, and I ended up getting renovicted. The next apartment after that was something I subletted from the company I was working for at the time. I only called that place home for a mere eight months, for it was inhabited by vast insurmountable colonies of bedbugs (and fleas!) and a handful of very cranky people. One woman who lived there told me the building was haunted. She was probably right.


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I recall a foursome of geriatric men who would spend the daylight hours sitting on lounge chairs in front of the Apartment Building of the Damned, wiling away their golden years complaining loudly about things their juniors would seldom think to complain about, occasionally yelling obscenities at random passersby just for the sheer hell of it. Like a cruder version of King of the Hill. I’m not a hundred percent sure if their demeanour was merely because of the bedbug problem or something that could be chalked up to senility (it was probably a combination of the two), but this meditation on cranky old geezerhood manifested itself into what would eventually become SILVER BROWN. Its chosen guise was that of an Eccentric Mentor with a mastery of cybersorcery and certain forbidden knowledge sought out by the main characters in their quest for the Secret Ingredient.

The warlock Elmýr Garfield was a cursed character from the very beginning, but after several rewrites his curses have only multiplied. In the second or third draft I introduced the idea that the story starts off with him being dead, necessitating a cybermagickal trip to the netherworlds of the Environment to retrieve his innate isness and bring it back to the Sea of Joy to reboot it. Yet he is not so much reanimated as he is reborn. The audience is first introduced to him as a seventy-five-year-old man in the body of a seventy-five-second-old infant. An allusion to old stories of Gautama Buddha that told of him walking and talking on the day he was born. Or to Baby Herman from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Either one works. Take your pick.



As a result of the cursed nature of his existence (or more likely, because Florys errs slightly when she casts the spell to bring him back to life), Elmýr ages very rapidly after his rebirth, advancing through all the different life stages over the course of several chapters before finally exiting the story as a withered lifeless husk. At an inopportune moment in the narrative that greatly inconveniences the protagonists. If his final wilting occurred at a more convenient time, it wouldn’t be much of a story.

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The Zen of SILVER BROWN

Line 41

I spontaneously and unwittingly wrote a two-word profundity (indicated below) while debugging a module the other day. It was probably just the leftover THC running through my veins, but my mind was blown clean off when it dawned on me that this is a syntactically correct complete statement that actually means something in the contemporary JavaScript dialects. I could’ve written this countless other ways, but I decided to leave the statement in, just because it’s inspirational as fuck.


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The Bullhorn of SILVER BROWN

Now Playing: Chapters Eleven & Twelve

Chapters Eleven and Twelve of SILVER BROWN are presently being cast into the Twitterverse for the reading pleasure of the good people of Planet Earth. My normal shtick is to tweet these chapters at a rate of one page a day, but I think this time around I’ll do something a little bit different and only do that for Chapter Eleven. Twelve is an offshoot of Eleven, a by-product of the many countless rewrites Eleven underwent. It consists of only two pages, and reads more like an epilogue to Eleven than a chapter in its own right. So I might just tweet Twelve in its entirety in one fell swoop as a grand finale.

These are the first chapters in the book that are narrated by any character other than Florys MacNab. Both are written from the point of view of the story’s villains. To accentuate that point, the narrative styles of each of these chapters are a pronounced departure from Florys’ characteristic vernacular. Chapter Eleven is written in epistolary form, while Twelve has more of a stream-of-consciousness vibe to it. David Wong (a.k.a. Jason Pargin, the former editor of Cracked.com) used this technique to great effect in his comic horror masterpiece John Dies at the End, which featured nefarious entities from other dimensions that were introduced to the audience through excerpts from (fictional) textbooks. Some variant of that technique was bound to find its way into my own yarn.

Machinations of the SAAZMOL organization that were only casually alluded to in the earlier chapters are portrayed in all their eldritch unglory at this point in the story. There’s a remote chance these chapters might be high-octane nightmare fuel for some people, but I would opine they’re way less frightening than the current zeitgeist. Compared to the news headlines of any given day in 2020, these chapters are about as scary as the scariest episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.


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Writing these chapters felt like this for me. Or at least a version of this without the unfortunate transphobia. I’ll just leave it at that.