In Austere Remembrance Of Redline

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My best friend, Redline Halcyon, died today.

Redline was born in 1959 in Trinidad. His father was a mechanic at a garage that’s now defunct, his mother worked the switchboard for Pueblo and Walsenburg. I admired them both, but I admired Redline more. Red was a visionary with a larger than life personality. I wouldn’t say I could call him a go getter, but I wouldn’t say that description is inaccurate, either, or that it couldn’t be used to describe him. The man wasn’t an opportunist, but if he saw something he got it. Red and me, memories. Where did it start?

It started at 15. Saw him on the sidewalk with an amateur camera. Shooting something. That was what Red did, as a bird flies or a fish swims, Red shot movies on his cameras. Over the span of his unremarkable life he shot over 600. I know, sounds crazy. Sounds unbelievable.

Let me tell you something. I’m from Pueblo. Pueblo is bigger than trinidad. Pueblo has an abandoned factory to look at, a river runs through it. Pueblo is exciting, it stirs the imagination. Trinidad is a little nothing town near the border. Few people respect it. Most mix it up with Telluride. Trinidad is a town people pass through. Living there, I can understand how Red’s imagination was stirred like a swizzle stick in coffee, how being born in such a setting caused him to jump up and revolutionize film as we know it.

You may ask. Did he revolutionize film? Did he really? I think he did. There are no films quite like a Redline Halcyon film. Redline Halcyon films are something else. You won’t see Halcyon on any list of up and comers at the Oscars, he was never recognized by any academy, an academy of motion pictures and sciences or any other academy. You think Kenneth Anger is obscure? Forget Kenneth Anger, forget all that Luis Bunuel shit. Make way for Halcyon.

You may be asking. If red made over 600 films, where are they? What happened to them? Why haven’t I ever seen them? I can answer that. I’m the only one to have seen them. He only showed them to me. At least, I think I’m the only one to have seen them. I can’t be sure about these things. Details on Redline are sketchy, and even if I was his only friend there could be some cult group who watches his films on repeat. How can I know? The answer: I just can’t.

At 15 he had ridden up to Pueblo on a bike. Saw him on the sidewalk. I asked what he was doing, he told me he was making a movie. I asked him if I could be in it. The day was warm, I remember that. This was near the factory. Colorado fuel and iron, it was called, but even then its operating details were sketchy, especially to youngsters. The place hadn’t been in full operation since the 40s. We were told to stay off. Redline said that he had never seen anything so picturesque. He told me that he’d shoot there. He did just that.

When I saw the reels, I was shocked by how good they turned out. That was Redline, making even the most mundane setting exciting through use of story. I swear if he was out in the desert somewhere, he could have found a thousand interesting things to shoot. Just like ten impossible things before breakfast, red would pick out so and so, say it was so and so, and turn something from nothing. That was just how he did it.

God, I miss him.

Turns out the film he was working on that day was only his fifth. I still don’t know how he wasn’t making films younger. It should have been his eleventh, with his prolific rapid reduction rate. I can see him now, a celluloid wizard in a back room, working his magic on those reels. Has anybody ever done anything better? EVER?

Redline’s work was one of those things that can’t be described. How many movies did he make? I’ve tried before to memorize all 600+ but I forget them, I’ve never been very adept at mnemonics. The ones you should watch, if you ever come into possession of a Halcyon film batch, auctioned off at $50 at most. The Top Banana, Chuckee, Circus O’ Gore, Vixens From Mars. I forget them. I don’t mean to, I don’t know how I do, but they’ve slowly faded from memory. I have them stored somewhere, but I forget where. Do you understand? I need to tell you so that you know how Redline was before my memory fades altogether. I’m old now. Tired. Maybe Redline’s energy was sucked somehow from me. He was a whirling dervish.

Vixens from Venus, or were they from Mars?

Do you know why I’m angry? I may seem a little upset. I’ll tell you why. I just posted about Redline on some horror-themed Internet forum. They banned me. They claimed that Redline didn’t exist, never existed, is a mere figment of my imagination. Do they really believe that? I memorialized him, this man, this legend, on a cheap post in the backwater of cyberspace, and for my troubles I was cast out. All because this man, this legend, doesn’t have any Google results. That’s not Redline’s fault. As I said, he’s as obscure as obscure can get, and as far as I know I’m the only one to have seen his movies. Is that a crime? These films exist, I’ve seen them. I know they exist. I know he existed, too. They mock a dead man.

I’m sorry, Redline. I don’t know if I can do you justice. The sheer amount of movies you put out. I can understand why they didn’t believe me. But they do exist. They’re either in my attic or in my basement, they’re somewhere, buried under VHS tapes and diskettes of a forgotten format, and road maps. They’re somewhere. I won’t let your efforts be in vain.

Redline was like that.

I still wonder what the limits of the human mind are. If one human being can make 600 films, then how far can we take that? What’s the maximum amount of content one human being can produce during one lifetime? What are the limits of expression? I still don’t know how Redline pulled it off. The man was an electric and eccentric whirlwind of ideas. He never stopped. You might think he died from a heart attack, but he didn’t. Natural death. For him there was no such thing as stress or overwork. Every day was used to its full potential.

How are the films? Nine are black and white, the rest are technicolor. You may think that with 600 films under his belt, they would be low quality. You would be wrong. They’re some of the highest quality things I’ve ever seen. The scripts are excellent, the lighting is excellent, the sets are excellent. These movies should be low budget but they exude a high-budget feeling simply because redline had a feeling for what would stick and what wouldn’t. With titles like Vixens from Venus, Circus O’ Gore, Swamp Demon 2000, Fangs For Nothing, you might think they were schlock. They’re not schlock. Far from it. In fact, there isn’t even a swamp demon in Swamp Demon 2000. Watch the whole thing through. There is no Swamp Demon. What’s it about? I wouldn’t know how to explain it to you. I don’t know what the plot is, even though I’ve watched it through. I know it has a plot, but I can’t describe it with words.

Redline’s movies are like that. Beyond description. I wonder how he was able to do it. He was 15, hopping around steel rust pipes and archaic towers with his amateur camera, walking his bike. Every so often he would stop, look around, set his camera up on the tripod, and let the reels spin for a while, then he would put it back over his shoulder and move on.

I followed him that day until dinner was ready. I forgot about him for about a year after that, but I knew in the back of my mind that me and him were destined to see each other again, even if he was from a different town. Halcyon interested me. His father as I said was a mechanic, mechanics tend to have very mechanical minds, this part goes here, this part goes there, etc. Everything in its place. And then I think of his mother, working over a switchboard, putting each peg in each hole. My theory is that Redline was a borderline obsessive. That’s nearly the only explanation for how the elements in his films fit together so well in synchronous harmony, complete perfection. The man didn’t need to weigh each option one by one as he went along. He didn’t need to edit. The man knew exactly what fit where, even before he shot it. A kind of sixth sense. That’s why the Vixens From Venus still inspire fear in me. Why the Open Maw is made from nothing more than modeling clay but engulfs the viewer and eats your face alive. Why the Lurking Beast is nothing more than clothes stuffed with toilet paper and its shadow is something more than human. Peculiar, the way these films all fit together into one grand cinematic universe.

I just noticed how they all fit together, by the way. I JUST noticed.


“Chuckee was constructed using yarn, cling wrap, and a skeleton of tinkertoys. This was done so masterfully that some viewers of the film (myself included) thought he was made using CGI. I was surprised to learn this, but I found the original model a few years ago and knew that this was, in fact, the model that was used in the movie. It is a testament to puppetry to think that only three things could be combined into such a compelling, horrifyign thing. The skeleton can even be seen during the point at which Chuckee is tossed into the street and crushed."

-Mar 22, 2019


Red stood next to his projector. He was upset.

It was late 1980 and Redline was determined to echo a kind of grainy effect despite his new-fangled equipment. His aging father had given it to him a year earlier. The man earned almost nothing in these lean times, but he had struggled to give Red a new digital camera, top of the line stuff, almost unheard-of at the time. Practically a black market item, it was so rare. And Redline had snubbed it. He didn’t want to hurt his father’s feelings, he wasn’t insensitive, but as he later told me, the new digital cameras couldn’t capture film. I never knew what he meant by that. I still don’t think I know, exactly.

He was 21 and I was 20, and I was going to University of Colorado up in Colorado Springs, meaning I didn’t get to see Red and visit him in the cutting room as much as I would have liked. Red didn’t go to college, instead signing up with the Pueblo taxi dispatch. Often he filmed his passengers without their knowing it and interspliced the footage, a strategy which was probably illegal then and is probably still illegal now. Here, in the studio, holding the digital camera, dressed in slacks and a plaid sport jacket, he was the antithesis of trendy. He was a member of a singular subculture for which I don’t think there’s a name because he was the sole member of it.

I can’t tell you what the Halcyon aesthetic was. On this particular day he was holding the camera in both hands, reviewing it, going over every aspect. He was determined to make it look old fashioned. Sure, he didn’t like it, but he was up for a challenge. Somehow he would defy his father and make it look old fashioned. He called me over.

“This look good?” He was currently on his 87th film, if I recall. Something called Mass Panic. He pointed the details out to me, and with his nimble hands he showed me exactly where he had cut it so that the shots lined up exactly, just so. The camera was a large thing, don’t forget. Thousands of wheels and dials and buttons. A block, twice the size of a Camcorder, of which Red would later get two in 1982, months before Sony released them. Ahead of his time, that was Red.

“Looks good.”

As always, I had nothing to say. I didn’t even know what he considered me. A consultant? No, an audience. He wanted an audience, even though he wasn’t willing to admit it. I had suggested he submit these to film festivals. They could win gold at the Telluride film festival, I told him. He declined, saying that the public wouldn’t understand.

The way I describe Red, he may sound pretentious. Don’t believe me. He was an earnest guy, decent and hardworking too. And if my descriptions of his films, meager as they may be, might sound like blurry crap, I apologize for that, too. They weren’t art house films. They weren’t anything like Kenneth Anger’s stuff. They were, I think, approachable for a mass audience, maybe even had some appeal to them. But at the same time I knew that Red would never share his work with anyone but me. They were meant for my eyes only. I still don’t know why. This may have been because Red found everything pretentious. We had gone to see Star Wars when it came out. He had told me that George Lucas was an idiot. He said the same thing about Steven Spielberg when we went to see Jaws. Same went for Robert Zemeckis, E.T., Close Encounters, Jurassic Park.

All these blockbusters, Redline invalidated. He also hated small-scale stuff, too. He laughed at art-house stuff when it was screened. I suppose this was because Halcyon films weren’t just a little quirky, they were a genre all to their own, and they defied any descriptions I could put to them. They had such an aesthetic, one that put him apart from anyone else. It was so distinctive. Why can’t I describe it? I just can’t.

Outside on the street there were your typical late summer sounds, lawn mowers. Someone even started a leaf fire. And to paint the scene let me say that in 1980 there were still plenty of boxy cars, especially in a small town like Trinidad. I had come here myself in a 1978 Ford.

When Redline was on the cut, the air was silent. Every voice was gone, all air particles were suspended. Mass Panic, he told me nonchalantly over the phone, was to be even better than Lunatics Of Suburbia. Whereas Lunatics only scraped the surface of paranoia and emptiness, of the thought of someone lurking around the corner, Mass Panic would explode the concept into a frenzy. When I got there, he had shown me some stock footage on his PC- as I said, Red was cutting edge- He had got this stock footage somewhere. A major urban area, people running everywhere and screaming, buzzing about something. I still to this day have no idea where Red got the footage, it’s from no movie I know of, and this was a large city street where somehow every resident had been coerced to run amok. Maybe there was some kind of stock footage subculture back then. I have no idea. All Red would say is that yes, he had gotten permission from the owner, he had paid for it, and yes, it was legal. I don’t think Red would have needed to pay the owner for it, the end result was so different from the original stuff. This was what Red did. He was a filmmaker in the purest sense. He turned the ordinary and molded it and shaped it like modeling clay and turned it into a refined, sharpened and golden product.

He ran the footage through again, then turned to his cutter. He still had film reels. And a PC. I know, this sounds like an amalgamation of tech, he had a contraption that looked like it must have been used by MGM or something, where the physical film went in and was cut, and he had tape recorders, and floppy disks, and cassettes. And a PC, and sometimes he used the cutter to edit and other times he used the PC to edit. I don’t know what his system was, and why would I need to, or bother to ask, so long as it worked?

“This looks good,” he said, holding the film up to the light and yanking it out. “Stand over there, look like you’re holding something. No, over there. That’s it. Now scream. Scream like you’ve never screamed before.” I did just that, interrupting the silence of that perfect golden afternoon. When Red called the shots, I listened. My scream was genuine. He pointed the camera at me, clicked pause, looked into it, and then gave me the thumbs-up.

I’ve just realized something, writing this. I said he was using a digital camera. 1980. According to Wikipedia digital cameras were rare in 1980. Feasible, hough. I remember that Red’s father showed me it, even, told me how expensive and revolutionary it was. Video format, stored in a metaphysical form. So then how is it that Red, as I’m remembering this, was holding physical film? Maybe I’m mixing together two different days. I know Red had both, a traditional camera and a digital one, at the same time.

I even know that Red’s parents, though they were very, very far from affluent, kept their prodigy son stocked up with reels and reels of blankness, and the same went for digital space once that opened up. So the problem is, then, that in this memory, I remember Red holding the digital camera, shooting me with it. I scream. And then suddenly, he’s holding the analog camera, and pulling reels out from it. I could be mixing up memories, but I don’t think I am. My memory is still good, Heck, I was younger than him, and he died young. I’ll live longer than him, and in these remaining years I might spread his work around, present him as an innovative genius, because he deserves that.

At the same time, a perverse part of my mind tells me that Red only meant these for his eyes and mine, that they were really the only thing which bonded us together, that I was little more than a lackey in his eyes, and that they need to be kept secret.

Surely I’m either misremembering or he was looking at a different movie. Mass Panic came out in the same month. When I say Red worked quickly, I mean it. Maybe a week passed between that day in the garage and an impromptu screening in the backyard. He rigged the projector up, strung a white sheet from some clothespins, and I sat there spellbound for 130 minutes. Maybe I had noticed even then how it had been the digital camera one second and the analog one the next, I didn’t ask him. Whatever it had been, it hadn’t shown itself on Mass Panic, the 87th film by Redline Halcyon. Now this is the strange part. I don’t remember Mass Panic very well.

Maybe it’s the fact that there are over 600 movies, sure each memory of each one is dulled a little. But quantity did not affect quality. I remember watching Mass Panic from beginning to end. I remember the screening very well. I remember the fact that there were several constellations visible, there was less light pollution in those days. I remember the light from the Halcyon kitchen, the scent of his mother’s perfume. I remember Red coming out of the kitchen with two metal bowls of microwave popcorn, I even remember the light and hum of the microwave as it spun. The sound of the kernels exploding, and the buttery yeast mixture he had sprinkled on top.

I remember that afterwards we stretched out on the grass, which was somewhat moist from the lawn sprinkler. I told him about how college was going, that I was in the top 75% of my class, that the campus was good, that there were plenty of resources. I told him about my social circle, about the girls I was dating, about a new thing called Pong that had swept everyone by storm. I remember that Redline didn’t say anything. He only looked up at the stars. He couldn’t relate to what I was talking about. I remember driving back to Colorado Springs that night, passing out at 3 A.M.

I don’t remember the movie.

I remember that my footage had been used, that there was some kind of green screen method halcyon used so that I was holding something. He hadn’t changed the background. I also remember that he had used the footage of the people running around and screaming, run it through some kind of filter. Interspliced it with something else. I don’t remember what I was holding.

You might claim this was because it was one of those bullshit movies that have no meaning. This is not true, I know that for certain. Mass Panic had a plot, and a very solid one at that. It was scripted. It was much more than some cheap-ass Kenneth Anger color explosion with people running around and walking around and wearing leather and shit. Red’s films weren’t like that. They didn’t provoke the viewer at all. They did not demand that the viewer provide some kind of explanation for what was happening onscreen. Redline Halcyon movies were not experimental. They were movies, as much as the Towering Inferno or Fantastic Voyage or 2001 were movies. They were better than those, of course, but they weren’t in the least bit experimental. They were experimental, I guess you could say, they weren’t substandard cinema fare.

I guess what I mean to say is that if experimental films are a genre, and if the point of an experimental film is to test the limits of film as a medium, and in doing so pioneer new formats for more filmmakers to fiddle around with, if experimental film like any experiment has a purpose and a hypothesis, then let me say that unlike 100% of experimental films, Redline Halcyon’s hypothesis were always correct. The formats he pioneered, which have never been replicated and lie in a cardboard box somewhere in my house, were not meant to be fiddled with in the future and improved. They were meant to be left as is. They were the Higgs-Boson particle of films. And it’s true, I can’t say what Mass Panic was about. I know it was better than anything from John Carpenter, Sam Raimi, or Wes Craven. I know I enjoyed it, that I sat in a catatonic state for 130 minutes straight on that folding lawn chair, and if that isn’t enough, what is?

I understand that you want to know more about these films. I remember a few of them. I remember a few plots, now that I really mull them over in my mind. I remember some things that are patently impossible. I remember Redline’s roughly 430th film, made in 1996, The Atomic Atrocity. I know that the protagonist of this film was a young brunette woman, a scientist named Dr. Wesley Moss, whose goal was to rid the world of the Atomic Atrocity. I know that this film was in sepiatone. Not simulated sepiatone, but legitimate sepiatone.

This film was designed to look like a film from the 1960s. I’ve seen many films over the years which try to simulate the 1960s. Quentin Tarantino, say. Let me tell you something. Tarantino is fake as shit. Halcyon’s film was authentic. There was film grain in it. You might look at Margot Robbie and say she’s great as Sharon Tate. Bullshit. If a movie is made in the 2010s and is set in the 1960s, the influence of the present will show through. Believe me. Anything otherwise would be impossible. The actors will talk and behave like people of the 2010s.

Not so Wesley Moss. Wesley Moss was a woman of the 1960s. Fashion, hairstyle, dialect. Everything. All this in 1996, at the peak of cyber-mania, when the 1960s were seldom emulated and never, absolutely never emulated well, Halcyon burst from his cognitive recesses an honest to goodness remnant of the spirit of the 1960s. It was no cash grab. It was made for kicks, and it was authentic and respectful and there were no references or meta-ness whatsoever. No nostalgia pandering. Merely admiration for a bygone era.

This is the kicker. I don’t know who Wesley Moss is. I didn’t know then, and I still don’t know now, and Redline damn well knew that I’d never bother to ask before he was shoveled into the ground. Wesley Moss as I’ve said was a woman, 30s. I have no idea how Redline met her, where Redline met her, who met who first. I can’t imagine Redline knowing many women. He didn’t know any men either besides me and his father.

Redline, as far as I knew, had no social life whatsoever. He didn’t go to parties. I even invited him to a few once, told him that he could screen one of his movies, that everyone was waiting on him to show. He never did. He came up with some excuse. I’m busy, he said. Busy shooting with Moss? I don’t know her real name. Wesley Moss was her character. I know she couldn’t have been stock footage. I saw the script, and she read it verbatim.

This brings back some memories. I know Redline’s films had actors in them. They had to, coherent characters to move forward an equally coherent plot. What I don’t know is where Redline got these actors. The Internet only existed during about a third of his career, and only a fourth of that you could easily hire as many actors as there were in his movies. They were good actors. The same actors were never in a movie twice.

Shadow people, moving behind the scenes. Lackeys like myself, perhaps. And at the middle of it all is Redline, puppet master pulling the strings, garage stocked with one type of media appliance from every decade. The man had LaserDisc.

But this is the thing. If there were so many actors, surely word would have spread of the prodigy working from his home in Trinidad. They would have invited him to a showing, a big showing, an enormous one. If there were all these actors out there, all these secret collaborators, I never once saw them, and they would have leaked his films to the news, which they never did. The movies were so good that it’s simply impossible for nobody to have leaked the secret eventually.

I guess at the end of the day, Red was a man of secrets, and I can understand that. Southern Colorado is as close to Coconino County as I think it’s possible to get in the Earthly realm. Not Colorado Springs, certainly, and maybe not even Pueblo, but around Trinidad and Walsenburg, between Trinidad and Raton one feels as if all natural laws have been suspended. The three saints visible at nearly all times in melancholy and empty silence, sands but no cacti. Plateaus. Mystic Spanish names. The very environment conjures inspiration. The environment for the mind of Redline Halcyon, a mind with no equal.

I’ve read stories of the Sand Dunes, of Indian tribes driven off by spirits for which the Spaniards thanked themselves, of mirages inspired by the blue peaks. I’ve been to the top of high dune and seeing star dune far off know the temptation to move, to explore, go further and farther until the throat is parched. I have come back after a long walk on those things, heard the cries of the natives and found sand in my shoes where there should have been none. I come back after a day among the tourists. Some speak French, some speak Spanish. Some speak Portuguese. My pockets are filled with sand for weeks afterward, my shoes inundated with particulate. An alien landscape. I have eaten wonder bread and ham sandwich sandwiches at 3 AM at the gas station in Fort Lupton. If sand can appear from nowhere, if the savage spirits can save the Spaniard armies through an inexplicable miracle, if the desert haze by all that is holy can create an aura that cannot be found in Santa Fe or Denver, a kind of limbo between both, then who’s to say what Redline could have accessed, alone in that garage as the lawn mowers whirred?

I’m tired, my left knee aches from these cramped conditions. I must go on, though. To preserve his memory. I’m writing this on a modern standard computer word processor. Would Redline have approved? Perhaps this memoir deserves a typewriter, or better yet a notebook and pen. Oh well. I follow the letter of the law if not the spirit. I will resume tomorrow.


The more I think about Redline, the more things I remember.

Yesterday I looked up and down the house for the box of films. I still haven’t found them. Maybe I can submit them to Telluride. I don’t know if they accept posthumous submissions, much less posthumous submissions that garnered no recognition during their span. Maybe they’ll be rejected just because if the entire Halcyon collection was released it would win every award known to man. I don’t know. The point is I still couldn’t find them.

I need to see them again. The more I think about Redline, the more questions I have. The more I think about my relation to him. He had no friends, I was an acquaintance at best. How can I call him a friend? I stopped by from time to time, checked up on him, sat and watched his movies, yes, but I never went out with him. Not that there’s much to do in Trinidad, but I offered him rides places. I would point at the car.

“Heck,” I would say. “I’m bored. Let’s go up to Colorado Springs. Pioneer museum, Garden of the Gods. Kick around statues. If we’re really bored, we could make fun of Focus On The Family. Come on, Red. There’s a world out there and it’s begging for us to go and conquer it.” I would point at the car and make come on motions, and he would sit at the computer.

“No thanks.”

And that was it.

No, that wasn’t how it went. Not at all.

I said earlier that Redline bicycled all the way up to Pueblo just to shoot some rusty machinery. And I wouldn’t say that quality ever left him. I wouldn’t say he never took advantage of a good setting. Many of his films were shot in Colorado Springs or even further- Heck, by the look of one of them, I would say it was shot around Boulder. He used the Garden of the Gods as a Martian landscape, Santa Fe trail as an alien world. Etched carvings on cliffs and put a filter onto Pikes Peak. Effects weren’t everything. He used landmarks like props.

But then, I never saw him do any of this. Never saw him leave his house. And what’s more, he didn’t have a car. At least, I don’t think he ever did. But of course, the idea of him taking that bike everywhere is ludicrous. And yet, there on film, stuff beyond walking distance. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it? How can I explain this? Consider:

There are two Redlines. One is the recluse who hides in his garage, hunched over the cutter, the other is the explorer who implements and exploits everything beyond his immediate vicinity, who bicycles all the way up to Boulder without anybody noticing. One Redline uses digital cameras and another uses analog cameras, one is a rebel and the other a conformist, one’s films are mass marketable and the other’s are incomprehensible. Does that make sense?

No, it’s rubbish. I’m trying to write a memoir of this man and here I can’t even keep the facts straight. He was a man of contradictions?

I saw him in 2000. At this point he was well past film #400. He was shielding his eyes from the sun as the garage lifted. Chewing on some kind of gum. Even now I can remember the aroma, it was grape. There are so many things I remember vividly and others I’ve forgotten entirely. For instance, what it was exactly we did that day. He was now around film 424. Film 424 was called Sewer Monsters in 3-D. It wasn’t in 3-D, he told me.

I still don’t know exactly what that meant. I don’t remember the film having anything to do with sewer monsters. If it did, I don’t think I noticed them. They could have been just around the corner, in the shadows, under a manhole, something. Maybe there were sewer monsters. I paid more attention to the human characters, the chemistry between them was something to marvel at. I don’t know who they were, Red never told me, and I didn’t ask. His projector was long since gone, we watched it on DVD in the living room.

At this point I had become an executive officer at a local juice business. Peaches, apples, Colorado fruit. I bottled the stuff. No, I didn’t bottle it. I supervised people who in turn bottled it. I made a hundred thousand dollars per year.

And here was Redline, balding but still as sharp as ever, full of energy. He had no money, no real job, I thought. But he was happier than I was. I wouldn’t say our friendship had devolved any. I would say it stagnated. Became unchanging, immovable. It was symbiotic, but he wasn’t a parasite and neither was I. I needed entertainment, and every time a Halcyon film switched on it was an excuse to remove myself from the world for two hours, to let Red’s cinematography and scripts and anonymous actors carry me away.

That’s the point of entertainment, isn’t it...?

I guess I did use Red a little. I treated him like an endless source of energy that could be used forever, once tapped it would gush forth like an oil well, the movies would never end, he would live forever, maybe even sell his movies. But if he sold them, it would defeat the purpose. He was like solar power, his art was free and limitless.

Another inconsistency. I came to his garage around 2001. Still the same. Mounds on the back of outdated technology. Computer, TV. Tape recorders. And shelves of cassette tapes and VHS, all cataloged, titled. How did he maintain it? He had lost his job as a taxi driver in 1990 at least, they had fired him.

Or did he ever work at a taxi company? Was he lying to me? Now that I remember the “taxi tapes,” as he called them, many seemed to be filmed not from the perspective of the driver but from the perspective of a fellow passenger. Maybe he took them by coercing someone to ride with him, switched on the camera and flashed the lens out of his pocket, as the taxis rushed through the night streets like a phage through a capillary. And then he got home, stitched them together into a photo collage, showed them to me, tried to prove he had a job. That would be something, huh?

The garage was the same, nonetheless, every appliance maintained. In working condition. And ample storage. If it had been 2010 and I had been able to download the whole catalog, archive it in a massive folder, it would have been at least a terabyte. Who am I kidding? More than that, way more. How did he allow for all this maintenance, upkeep? He wasn’t good at technology. He was good at USING it, but he didn’t know how it WORKED. To maintain it he’d need at least 2 technicians. One for the analog stuff and another for the digital stuff. And I knew that by 2000, Red couldn’t afford these things. He just couldn’t, but there it was, everything. In order, stacks and stacks of it.

I didn’t even know if Red’s parents were still alive at this point, it had been a while since I came down. They still were. Red’s father was old and getting older, had quit his job as a mechanic, and Mrs. Halcyon, well, she had been out of a job ever since switchboards went out of vogue. They were living off of pensions. They didn’t have any time to support their son’s- well, I guess you would call it an occupation since it took up all of his time, it was too much to be a hobby. What I mean is that the garage I was standing in front of was near-impossible.

The door opened and there was Red, smiling as usual. His hair was fading but he still had a good crop, and he grinned at me from the dark interior like a mad elf. Behind him were the squawks of machinery at work. He had a floppy disk cataloging machine now. Some of his films, I think 20 of them, he had stored on floppies, just for kicks. Now if you remember floppies you know they have a tiny amount of storage. Enough to hold a document, maybe. Not enough for movies. But the rear left corner of the garage was dedicated to floppy disks, 20 movies in all, each floppy with one minute or something. Thousands and thousands, and this was when DVDs were getting popular. Heck, USBs have more space than floppies, and they’re smaller. This machine was huge, it made white noise as it cataloged each disk. When put together, they would play a film. Luckily, in the collection Red gave me, he considerately condensed the floppy 20.

“Hi, Red,” I said. “How you doing?”

“Same as usual.”

“Got a new machine, huh?” I pointed to it.

“Huh? Oh, yeah. New machine.” He went over to it. Switched it off. The blinking noise stopped, but his computer remained on. It hummed, buzzed. There was something playing on it. He had been busy, busy as always.

“Where did you get it?”

“Huh?” He was rummaging through the shelves, came out with a tape, popped it in his stereo, which was a combination tape player/radio/record player/CD player/mix machine. Reclined on his ratty old office chair, which had foam falling out in some places. I didn’t mention the cost of the electricity. To maintain all this stuff, keep it running all the time whenever he wanted, he’d either have to pay a huge-ass bill or illegally siphon the electricity from somewhere, and knowing him I wouldn’t put it past him. And Trinidad was too small to even provide this much electricity.

“I said, where did you get the machine?

The door opened. There he was, Red. The garage was well-organized, upkept, some saws and ropes here and there, in the middle was his father’s old BMW. Red didn’t use it, he didn’t have a Driver’s License. The walls were concrete brown. There were a few board games on one corner. He sat at the table with a laptop, looked up at me, shrugged. Next to him was a small stack of DVDs.

He was clean and dressed to the nines and looked calm and peaceful. Such was to be expected. One year ago he had been married. I attended his wedding. Since then he had got a job at a local real estate firm. Seemed like a happy guy, and he assured me that kids would be on the way soon.

The machine whirred and clicked.

“This?” he pointed to it again.

“Yeh, that.”

Local store. TechWiz on Brighton. They have stuff you wouldn’t believe. Kind of like a thrift store, but they only take tech stuff. This gem is genius, really. 4,500 parts, even came with a manual. It’s their policy to sell only complete stuff, no bullshit. You wouldn’t believe what they have. They have this video game from the 1950s. Basically like Pong. Lights up. I’m thinking of saving up for it. Red was good at many things, but he wasn’t a very good liar. If he had stolen this through who knew what means, I would insist that he did the right thing. No, what was I thinking. Red was a decent guy. I knew him. He was honest. There could be a store like that, he was a hard worker, passionate and innovative, and this floppy disk machine, these 4,500 parts all meshed together and sporting one minute intervals through some insanity were acquired through honest means. Looking into his dirty spectacles, looking right through into his soul, I knew that. Honest means, but not normal means. I paused a moment, went over and felt it whir and click.

“Don’t bullshit me, Reg,” I said. “I’ve been up and down Brighton. No such place. Where did you really get it?” I grinned, hoping that he would be honest with me. I was his friend, right? Since the 70s. Surely that amount of loyalty, the times I had left parties, left my social life in the dust, even lost money for “Movie Nights with Red,” surely that deserved something in return other than movies, didn’t it? Didn’t I deserve an explanation?

Apparently not.

“I’m sorry,” he said, hunched on his decrepit office chair but despite the inherent sadness of the scene enjoying himself as he reassembled footage of what looked like a clay spider. “There are some things here that I just can’t talk about, I promised. I mean, all of them are human, you don’t need to worry about that. This floppy disk machine, it’s a real model. From people, just like you and me.” He slammed his fist on the table. He had said too much.

“Of course it comes from people. Where did you think I’d think it came from?”

The answer was obvious. I left.

I checked online later that night. No such place.


My annoyance towards Red’s secrets subsided as we entered middle age. What had been youthful fascination grew into mature nonchalant indifference, and I worked at the juice factory and knew that when I turned 55 I could retire. I’m retired now, and even though I remained a semi-swinging bachelor the whole time, it’s been a good life.

From 2000-2005 I asked nothing, because these were Red’s golden years. I thought he might stop at 500. He didn’t. He kept on going. Spinning, whirring, clicking away in his garage. I visited him quite a bit. During this time he was a speed demon. The movies during this time were even better. Circus O’Gore came out during this time. The Beast From 50,000 Meters. Spilling Ooze. He even made a puppet of the Open Maw. Wonderful things. I spent time around the garage, puttering with his things. This absorbed maybe 25% of my time.

In 2004 something strange happened. I don’t want to remember this, but it’s risen from the deep. The thing is, before I set my fingers to these keys, I’ve never had memory blocks or anything like that. In fact I went to see a neurologist last year and he said I was perfectly okay. I suppose that these memories coming back is good, it shows that I’m not slowly deteriorating.

Red called me on the phone in 2004. It was late, and I was up in Pueblo. By this point I had rented a decent apartment, also owned a house, mortgage would be gone soon. Juices were surprisingly profitable. I was happy to hear Red’s voice over the phone. But then he started crying, and weeping. I got up and put on my shirt, still holding the handset.

“Mom died.”

I hung up and sped over there. I knew that Red would thank me later, he needed to see me in person, not just talk with me over the phone. I was there in about an hour. The house was dark and the curtains were drawn. The garage was locked. I knocked on the door. Hands appeared behind the curtains, they were Red’s. His father I assumed was drinking. His condition had been bad for a while. Red turned the lock.

“I’m so sorry, Red.” He undid the chain and opened up. He was older than me, still, ten years or so. Getting fat. Still, he looked at home in the garage. He looked tired, there were bags under his eyes, and he was wearing some dusty pajamas. He looked over my shoulder at the car in the driveway to ascertain that it was there.

“Sorry about what?”

“Your mother.”

“Huh?” he shook himself awake. “Yeah, Mom. Sad. Do you want to come in? I have hot chocolate, I can spike it if you want.” He looked puzzled, he yawned.

“Hot chocolate, Red? Screw the chocolate!” I screamed. “Your mother, Red! Where’s her body, her corpse? When does the undertaker get here, or have you been so busy in that fucking garage that you didn’t notice your mother died just now?” He stepped back, scared out of his wits. I drew back, scared of what I had just said.

“Mom died. Long time ago.”

He was right, of course she had died in 1995. I was there. Whoever had called me had been a crank-caller. Sounded an awful lot like Red. They were crying, sure. Crying to get a rise from out there over the lights and mountains. Some smartass on the wire, sounded like Red. And here I had disturbed Red. I panted and came in, put my hand on his back.

“Let’s have that hot chocolate,” I said. “He went over to the cabinet and got out two mugs. He had it unspiked. I told him to put whiskey in mine. He had abstained from alcohol ever since his dad had started. From the other room I could hear his father, old and gray, snoring loudly, nobody with him. Red brought both the mugs over to me. I sipped it. Good, warming.

“Mind if I stay the night?” I would be wasted soon, no condition to drive, and I was tired besides.


He flipped on one of his movies, somewhere around #510. We sat together on the couch, sipped. Red even gave me refills. He was a decent guy. Around 3 A.M. he switched the TV off, went to bed. Brought out some pillows and blankets. I sacked out on the couch. Woke up at noon, drove home. When I woke up the house was empty and silent, picturesque even.

How was it I drove a full hour, Pueblo to Trinidad, and never once remembered that Red’s mom had already died? The more I think about it, the more I remember that voice, the more I think about it, the more it seems like it was Red’s voice. Did he mean she was dead, and he just then remembered? Maybe he was having some kind of nervous breakdown. I could imagine it, cooped up alone in the house with his ancient father. And when he answered the door he seemed like he hadn’t remembered calling me. More than that, he seemed perfectly sane, as if I had woken him up. And even if he was going crazy, how was it that I drove, one hour, without remembering the funeral until Red reminded me? I still don’t know.

The more I look back, the more I’m reminded of how Red was. When I started this memoir, I figured I would kind of make him out to be your typical indie filmmaker. Then, I remember that nobody else has seen his work besides me. Then the memories rise up. They come from my synapses, explode from the purple abyss of meat matter. They spring in like photographs. I assume the best biographers experience the same thing.


It’s late in Pueblo, and I meet Red in an alley. He’s with his camera, and we duck out of sight. He introduces me to someone else. I forget their name, but it’s a lady. She smiles. She vanishes. It’s late in Pueblo, and I meet Red in an alley. He’s with his camera, we stroll down the street for a while, he shows me some of the footage he’s taken. I tell him it looks good. He says bye, I say bye. I drive home and go to sleep, and the next day I’ve made $600.


We’re walking around Garden of the Gods, me and Red, just two bros goofing around. The year is 1982, and Red is happy that he lives so close to such a Martian landscape. He tells me to stand in front of the kissing turtles and wave. Raise your ray gun, he tells me. He goes over to his SUV, pulls out some aluminum foil from the trunk. Tears off sheets, molds them around me. Aluminum suit, he tells me. I say it looks stupid. No, he says. You look great. I pose. I do look great. Red poses in front of the balancing rock. We’re on the sand dunes. I look around, I’m confused. Red tells me not to worry about it. We climb to the top and roll down, by the end our asses are full of sand. We sit until the stars come out. The sand is room temperature, soft. Red tells me that next time, he’ll bring his camera. Excellent material.


Red sits in front of his computer. Vivid reds and blues and pixels fill his magic laboratory. One second he wears glasses, the next second he doesn’t. Things shift like stop-motion, one second there are VHS tapes here, then they’re over here. The Speed Man, eh Red? So speedy, things change. He bends over the image on his computer, the one thing in the garage that doesn’t change. His grin is frightening but comforting, sadistic but empathic, evil and kind.

Smoke billows from the screen and he’s consumed by the glow.


It’s one month before Redline’s death, which happened either due to old age or a car accident. He’s sharp as ever, bright as ever. He’s just on his 606th film, Lightning On Demand, but before he dies he’ll produce two more. Both of which I still have. He hands them to me, in a cardboard box. Smiles, says to take care of them. I agree, because of course I will, Red, what are friends for? The whole Halcyon collection at my fingertips, each one in either DVD or VHS format. The box is cardboard, unless it’s plastic. He’s wearing glasses, unless he isn’t. I tell him I’ll take care of them, Red, you can trust me. About time you got to cataloging them all!


It’s three days ago, and I’m watching Red being lowered into the ground at the Trinidad cemetery, next to his mother and father. The date is what it is, the coffin is there, his parents are there. There are a few people, some I invited and some knew his parents. There are no last rites. Or are there? Who knows?

I don’t know what to think anymore.


My best friend, Redline Halcyon, died three days ago.

I looked around the house for the movies. I finally found them, in the basement. Of course, I had put them there. I misplace things often. Surrounded by some old magazines, hardware, assorted junk. I thought I had put them in the attic. I walked towards them. There they were. Here were the treasures. The old forgotten relics of yesteryear. We had some good times, Redline, didn’t we? You were my friend. My best friend. I knew other people, but they never stayed. Friends to the end. I dusted the box off, held it for a minute.

What happened next, I can’t really describe. The box was gone, my arms were empty. The next second, I was standing at the basement door, looking down into the abyss. There’s an exercise machine down there, an inversion table, air hockey. I looked around. No box. No movies. I’ve lost them. I said I wouldn’t, it was the guy’s dying wish, but I’ve misplaced them. Oh well.

The films weren’t anything but a bunch of foil and cardboard and plastic straws and toothpicks and clay and who knew what else. They were nothing special.

Three days ago I began this memoir. Three days ago, I also posted to an Internet forum about my friend, Redline Halcyon. I was banned and most of my posts were deleted, erased from existence. They thought I was joking, that I was kidding them around, because nobody just makes 600 movies and doesn’t show them to anybody, do they? They show them to people. Nobody makes art for art’s sake. Nobody can make art for art’s sake. Art is expensive.

I was banned and all but the one post at the beginning of this story were deleted. You can still find it online if you look hard enough. I forget which forum it was. I posted it. It’s still there. I know it’s still there. It describes the construction of Chuckee the evil doll, who was nothing but cardboard and straws with a shitstain grin drawn on the front with a sharpie, yet in the hands of Redline Halcyon he bloomed into something more than that, a walking talking animatronic terror, and I sat in front of Red’s TV and watched. Good times, weren’t they, Red?

I visited Redline Halcyon’s grave yesterday, in the Trinidad public cemetery. It’s still there, and he’s with his parents. I suspect that his grave will be there for a long, long time. He was a good man. The world needed more like him. Oh well, I think, as I climb back into the car. My right knee hurts. I need to get out more, I think, as the sun peeks from behind a cloud and I go home to Colorado Springs. I’ll have a jog.

I remember you, Red. For whatever that’s worth.