Warmed and Bound Online - Pela Via

Introduction

by Logan Rapp

You don’t know what you’re doing

It’s the Year of Our Lord 2004 and I’m shouldering loneliness like a stick and bindle. I’ve been angry for three years now, with a weekly ritual of viewing videos on the Internet of smoke clouds and falling towers. I hadn’t put pen to paper in that time, not for anything I’d deem worthwhile.

I would close the blinds at noon and sit in the darkness of my self-constructed cave. I memorized the CIA Factbook on Terrorism as though a test were coming tomorrow. Al Jazeera’s English edition was top in my browser bookmarks. I kept my friends close, but my research closer. I feel bad now, because someone else must have taken on my freshman fifteen. I lost that much in the first six months of college.

It’s what they want you to do

I listened to the cacophony of voices, all wanting to imprint their designs upon my clean slate. I fed off their anger and regrets and took a major that would get me to the front lines. I had hatred in my heart and an itchy trigger finger. I wanted to kill a motherfucker, and I wanted the right ones dead. But I had to fire the shot. A girl in my philosophy class gave me every hint in the world, but I was ignorant, socially inept. Mechanical in my direction, I had thrown myself onto the Pyre of the Greater Good, built with the values of God, Family, Country and a Life for a Life. Then I picked up a book.

Dear Johnny

The dam I had built cracked, imperceptible at first, a cut from shaving where the skin fights to keep from bleeding. But bled it did. I remembered what it was like to create when for over thirty-six months I had wanted nothing more than to destroy. I wanted to know more. I looked up the author on the Internet, found some interviews, and his brother author.

Oh Lucy if you had only asked me for this

I wept. I hadn’t let tears fall since I had acquired my target. I was alone, the beautiful yet foreign sounds of Sigur Ros filling my bedroom, and I was on the floor, shaking as if gripped by a seizure. I felt. I hurt. But damn, if it wasn’t the most important moment in my life.

I read more books. I finished all of Baer and Clevenger. Read their short stories. Found Jones, devoured his work. I had the hunger and tasted the sweet ambrosia of creation.

Then I found they had an online community.

I dove for it, and I connected with people who had similar, but unique, revelations. No one was fighting. No one had an ax to grind. Solely from our connection to these books, we formed something larger than ourselves. It may have been longer, but I choose to believe The Velvet materialized overnight.

The Velvet warms and binds

It’s a maxim no one officially claimed, but in the same unexpected way we came together, it came to be what defined us. I was no longer angry. I fed off of the encouragement of friends I hadn’t yet met in person, scattered across the globe. People who defy exclusivity and clique mentality. People who duck away from conversations to write a thought in a Moleskine.

I changed my major. I changed my direction. In 2008 I moved to Los Angeles. And my best friend, whom I met in this community, was there waiting for me. We proceeded to get wasted that very afternoon, but before the night was over, we were already editing each other’s latest projects. And then one day, I opened my word processor and proceeded to write seventy-thousand words within three weeks. They created, quite possibly, the worst thing I’ve ever made to completion. But when I came out of that fever dream, stumbling into the sunlight as though I’d never seen it before, I had resurrected myself.

I am Phineas Poe and this is how it begins

I cannot fully express what The Velvet has given me. I owe a part of myself to it, to the people who inspired it, and to the people who form its core.

As you read these stories, you’ll find in them evidence of hearts that pump double-time.

Stay warm and bound.

—Logan Rapp

Death Juggler

by Axel Taiari

It’s all laughter and nervous giggles until the bombs explode for real. Then the audience’s mood short-circuits fast as a brain stroke: a boom louder than staccato lightning strikes eardrums, a body skyrockets into the air, screams zigzag