Sample from New Thriller by James Musgrave
I am working with a woman, Lily Orkidedatter (Orchid Daughter), who works with the authorities to trap pornographers and other incest and child traffickers in Norway, to star in my upcoming thriller. She is cooperating fully to lend her identity to my novel and it will have a certain "metafiction" that most novels do not possess. Metafiction, by the way, is when real people are cast as "fictional characters" in a novel.
She is the most courageous woman I have ever met. We are both survivors of childhood molestation, and this is incorporated in the fictional characters. However, the traumatic experiences will be the impetus that will drive me to create a powerful thriller to rival Stieg Larson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Besides, my "girl" is a woman who has a lot more tattoos than Lisbeth Salender could dream about having! Here's Lily's calling card orchid tat for example.
(A Psychological Thriller)
By James Musgrave (with Lily Orkidedatter)
Before I begin, I first want to get our relationship straight. I am Martin Seagraves, seventy-six years old, and I’m in fairly good shape for my age. I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian, don’t smoke, am a Advaita Vedanta philosopher, United States Navy veteran, who did a tour in Vietnam in 1967, and I’m also a recovered substance abuser, with thirty-six years sobriety under my belt (or in my brain, which would be a better cliché). Finally, I was also raped by six men, at age twelve, on a midnight fishing jetty in Seal Beach, California. This last detail was what gave me an immediate affinity with Lily Orkidedatter age forty-eight, of Oslo Norway.
Although I was first attracted to Lily’s online sensuous poetry (I still have a working libido, and even the applicable “tools” still function), it was her deeper, more horrifically complex poems that made me want to know more about her and what she did for a living.
The following poem is edited by me, only because I taught college English for twenty-five years, as an adjunct, along with my work as a crime reporter, so I wanted to show our artistic connection a bit more precisely, as it directly figures into our working relationship on this case.
Lily and I are bound together because we are both writers and artists (poets). Also, more specifically, we were both abused sexually as children. Me, in the United States, she in her country, Norway. I believe it was this connection, more than any other, that created our psychological bond, and which led to her permission allowing me to work with her on an increasingly complex case that involved both rape (my experience) and incestuous abuse, coupled with a child’s outrageous response (the murder of the adult involved), (Lily’s experience).
Both Interpol and the Norwegian police in Oslo play a major part in our case, and because of Lily’s bond with me, and the nature of this case, which ultimately had international repercussions, I thought it best to show our special relationship, most appropriately, through our art of poetry. First, I will show you the poem Lily wrote, which is quite graphic in nature, as it deals with the initial child abuse case she worked with, and it also demonstrates the intense psychological stress she endures on the job, which I wanted to capture for my readers who have little or no experience with cases like this.
It is my hope that Lily and I can reach these “non abused” readers by using our art, and our personal experiences. Even with our twenty-eight years of age difference, we both feel more comfortable working with children through their imaginations, rather than through the more lurid and mentally abusive techniques involved in police work (euphemistically called a “science”). As the police are run by the State, and the State is run by the Government, the levels of legal autocracy and bureaucracy can become quite daunting for we who are working the case from the trenches, so to speak, where the actual front-line toil with the abused and their abusers is much more like a dreamworld than it is any type of known legal or scientific world.
In other words, the level of abstraction at the higher levels has no relation to the poet’s, victim’s, or abuser’s dream world abstraction of the experience. What do I mean by this? I mean that because Lily and I have direct experiences with the reality of rape, incest, and sexual manipulation, as well as the retaliation involved, we can communicate much better than any officer of the State can who has no such experience. At times, we can even hear each other’s thoughts. This is certainly something police science doesn’t have much patience with. But it is true for us.
I will try to capture Lily’s world as she lives it, as we have an almost telepathically psychic relationship, and my crime reporting experience will also play a part in this case, as it unfolds. But first let’s hear from Lily’s poetry. This is the poem that led to our bonding and discussing her case, and, as it so happens, it became our ticket to working together on an international sex trafficking ring and subsequent sting operation that soon was in the headlines of the world media, well before it should have been. This is the post Lily allowed me to read, which led to our involvement and future partnership:
the Evil lives inside
A devil’s play, living a nightmare in her head, and with a mind of a monster talking to her. A little girl squeezing her teddy bear with blood dripping from her hands.
A difficult girl with no boundaries. A sweet girl with no rules. An angry girl with evil inside.
Her toys were in order and never played with. Her body was tightening up, shaking with an inferno in her eyes. Sitting like a guardian over her toys when she was crushing spiders to the floor.
Other people were cuddling her hair, but they were only checking her skull for a 666 sign. Did she perform as a clown at children’s parties, teeth from human skulls as a necklace? Rattling like a venom snake around her neck as a hypnotic melody.
A devil in disguise walking down the havoc line with a knife in her hand. A devil is unchained this cold autumn night. Disrupting mess of a predator instinct, smiling from the silhouettes in the streetlights.
Blood runs cold in the dead of the night, when a little girl with emptiness in her eyes, was cutting his throat when he was asleep and resurrected him into her deformed materials of a dark illusion.
She watched the blade covered with blood and took her killing to another level. She sliced him into pieces, the smell of fresh blood and meat was satisfying. A perfect square of a human flesh like her toys. A dead man’s body was a playground for a monster and when the butcher’s knife cut a larger wound in his face, she was laughing out loud.
She licked the wound empty of blood.... took his eyeballs and chewed them as gum. From his skeleton she built a killer’s castle and turned it into a macabre torture chamber.
Bloody footprints, a huge pool of blood, and a numb girl. She stands in the spotlight with a twisting tongue on the knife edge... blood on her lips and a mischievous smile on her face, like a China doll, with a horrific secret beneath unseen eyes.
I only had to make very minor corrections to Lily’s English. She has a superb grasp of rhythm and flow. As you can see, she is able to penetrate to the depths of the child murderer’s psyche because she also had her own revenge.
As I let you recover from that insight, let me get my rather paltry poem out of the way. As you’ll see, my poem is much more structured (a villanelle!), and it was written to reach the reader who wants the macrocosmic point-of-view, or the Reader’s Digest form. Lily and I, as you’ll see, are a perfect counterbalance to one another. In the real world, she is a bubbly, warm, attractive woman, who is always ready to laugh, and she has the compassionate wisdom of her years working with the psychologically abused, as she is cut from their same cloth. I, on the other hand, with my literary skills trumping my in-person skills, serve as the voice who can show Lily’s full nature, including what she's thinking inside, and she was most interestingly attracted to this skill in me the most when we first met online. She wanted somebody who understood her. She also enjoyed the fact that I can make her laugh.
As a result of our personal affinity, I am able to show her full range of dark emotions, rather than just the optimistic mask she wears in her public persona. Let me be clear about this. Lily, when she is working with a victim or a suspect, immediately changes into an empath, who can relate on their experiential level, and they open to her methods almost immediately. It’s as if she were the F.B.I.’s John Douglas, the founder of the serial killer unit, if he had been molested, tortured, and raped as a child, repeatedly, and then he was able to kill his molester. The kind of experience my darling Lily has does not grow on trees or in F.B.I. classrooms.
Here’s is my modest assessment of her in my little villanelle. I presented it to her on her Facebook page, as a tribute to her and to what she does:
FIRE EYES (Villanelle)
Poem of fire. The Evil lives inside.
She says it’s from her work with the abuse.
The girl hugs her bear with the bloody eye.
Child cuts her abuser’s organs of pride.
They must fit her cathartic mental muse.
Poet’s fire eyes see inside this child’s cry.
As Bette Davis hates a virgin bride.
My artist love is paid to spot a ruse.
For she is also a demonic shrine.
Peering into where tortures must arrive.
The insanity, the bomb’s bloody fuse.
This fire is we who claim to be alive.
Yes, we start this fire in my poet’s eyes.
Her tortures are ours that can’t be refuse.
Read her fire poem of their wounded lies.
Between mountains and trees, she must retire.
She enters her cabin of simple ease.
Attempts are made to extinguish the fire.
A scream, a midnight dream, eyes don’t expire.
I don’t have anything else to say. Lily and I worked together on this case for fifteen months. She does have a little cabin outside the city of Oslo that she goes to when she wants to decompress from her psychological interviews. I was never privy to its inner sanctum, but I can imagine what she does, as you can as well. The demons she has of her own, she must purge through meditation (another discipline we share), her poetry, and her visual art, and I have always given her this space she needs so desperately to recoup her mental agility. I am mostly a loner. I never married, and my parents have died. When I wasn’t in front of other reporters, or interviewing detectives, Lily and I shared a bond that became quite deep and affectionate. It was love on many levels, according to guys like Erich Fromm and Carl Jung, and I missed her when she was inside her isolated cabin, “between the trees and the mountains,” as she puts it.
I will begin to talk about her name in the opening chapter, Orkidedatter, which means “Orchid’s Daughter.” Like many women in Norway, she enjoys the symbolism of body art, and she also does visual art. It was the large tattoo of orchids she has on her right leg that I saw as being a symbol of her personality. In the “land of the midnight sun,” an orchid is a delicate flower given on precious and romantic occasions. A new birth, a graduation, a wedding. As an orphan of the State, Lily needed that symbol to survive. She does it very well, as you will see, and I hope my recreation of her can begin to match her magnificent reality.