What you are about to read I've never told anyone before.
Why? Because it is mysterious.
Mostly because it is a bit like the corner of your eye.
You see movement there but you won't be reciting any Eye Chart letters.
What you read next is sort of like that.
I don't like to be vague. In fact, I tend to be overly fussy about details.
If you ask me about a movie I watched, you'll have to grab me and slap me to get me to shut up.
(Unless you just wanted to slap me in the first place.)
It was around 1980.
My wife and I were at a party at her friend's house.
I didn't like those friends. Not at all!
To my way of thinking (I'm White trash raised) these were pretentious people, show-offs, lah-dee-dah.
They lived in a house in a part of town THEY referred to as (are you ready for this?) "Beverly Hills adjacent."
That's like my avatar photo on Facebook with me leaning on the hood of a Rolls Royce. A big joke!
The Kellers were Hollywood connected because Anton had one job a year connected with the Academy Awards. He was the main Producer of the ceremonies. (According to him.)
(I did watch the credits at the end and he WAS a big deal in that regard.)
One job a year. Okaaay. Good for you.
The party was not filled with celebrities. No no no. Celebrities wouldn't be caught dead at the Keller's house. Only persons with rather tenuous connections (like me) were invited. My guess that's because Anton Keller would be the person with the most glamorous stories.
"So, Terry, when does this story begin?"
Okay. Okay. Right now.
The Kellers had invited a hypnotist to this party. Her name was Pat Collins. She was called the Hip Hypnotist. She had a nightclub on Sunset Strip where she told everybody she earned about four or five thousand dollars a week.
Collins was Bimboesque in appearance. Not sexy. A wig and too much eye make up. That sort of thing. I was itching to get out of there because I DID NOT BELIEVE in hypnotism.
That's where I went wrong. I opened my big mouth. I said it out loud. (How un-chic.)
The word spread instantly like fire in the dead grass of the Hollywood Hills.
I was challenged, of course.
What follows is why I've never told this story.
I'm unsure of the details.
The next thing you know, I'm lying down on a couch. Every damn pair of non-celebrity eyes is on me like I'm a patient in a teaching facility about to have a frontal lobotomy.
Here is what I remember. Or at least what I THINK I remember...
I was asked to close my eyes and relax. (Oh brother.)
I was supposed to imagine a big red balloon with a string tied on to my wrist.
"When I start counting backward from 10, you will feel the balloon tugging on your wrist as it lifts up higher and higher into the air."
Okay, let's stop right here.
What I say next is what I THINK IS TRUE.
At that instant, as Pat Collins the Hip Hypnotist is counting backward, I get a weird idea in my head.
"Why don't I PRETEND to go along with this just for fun?"
I imagined myself as a Method Actor.
I contacted my "sense memory."
I "pretended" to lift my wrist and my arm ever-so-slo-w-ly.
For my audience of not-celebrities, this was amusing.
And at this moment, the "me" part of my memory switches off because--I think I fell asleep for a few seconds.
I opened my eyes suddenly.
I'm standing up.
Everybody in the room is applauding with huge smiles.
So, I took a lavish theatrical bow and remember thinking to myself, "These idiots are entertained by THAT??"
Here is where my story gets weird.
My wife started wanting to hypnotize me HERSELF.
She was an artist--not a hypnotist. No training.
It's like she once saw somebody performing brain surgery and thought to herself, "This looks like something I can do."
Stupid me. I went along with it.
At least, I "think" I went along with it.
I only vaguely remember she'd always begin with the stupid red balloon tied to my wrist thingy. Then rather prying, intimate questions were being asked and I'd "pretend" to fall asleep so I didn't have to answer.
Now--why am I telling you this?
It is because I just woke up this morning from a fresh dream.
Inside the dream, my wife was hypnotizing me and I heard her asking the following questions.
"What would you most like to achieve?"
"I want to be a writer."
"Describe that for me."
"I want to walk down the sidewalk and see a big bookstore with a window filled with stacks of my latest book and a giant photograph of me with the words, 'Book-signing today' and I'll walk inside to see a huge banner with the title of my Science Fiction book and lots of red balloons..."
I woke up very excited!
This morning I remember WHY I wrote and how I wrote
The Monorails of Mars.
I hypnotized myself.
I let a subterranean mental trance write the book.
(Yes, I know how incredibly stupid that sounds.)
Every day, week in and week out--for months. I'd close my eyes and imagine the bookstore window, the banner, and those red balloons and then---I'd begin to write and not stop writing for hours and hours.
When I came to the ending--I remember sobbing, crying, wiping tears away with a runny nose!
It was so profoundly traumatic!
I don't remember--REALLY--any part of writing that book until it was finished and I sighed heavily and told my friend, Quentin,
"This book just WROTE ITSELF."
When I started reading it, strange feelings began.
I had to stop.
To this day...
I have NOT consciously read my own book.
Weird? Hell yes.
I have pulled little excerpts out of it and scanned the paragraphs for errors and such. Those parts I've read in a detached and clinical way.
But I want to give away the secret to the ending here and now.
The entire book was being written inside the head of another person NOT in the book who is himself a famous writer, dying in a hospital bed. All his characters come to visit him in his mind. These characters, over many years, have TOLD him their stories. He didn't 'make them up.'
That ending is a message to ME from my subconscious mind from all the parts of my life--telling me about my own life as an allegory.
As strange as it sounds...
Being a kid, reading Edgar Rice Burroughs, H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, joining a religious cult...it is all mixed into a hypnotic nightmare of what is straight out of my hypnotized mind and memories.
In other words, my Monorails of Mars is a book only meant for me to read---a message from my mind--for me alone.
I know it sounds idiotic.
However, at last, I think I can understand: me.
IF ONLY I could read my own book.