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GATHERING JOURNAL, PART THREE (CONCLUSION)
Sunday morning brought with it the luxury of sleeping in till 8:30, as opposed to 8:00. Good thing, too; at this point, I needed that extra half hour to prepare for the day. I got to the mezzanine in time to get a couple of authors' signatures in my anthology, then repaired to Allaine's adult round robin. Maybe it was because I knew what to expect, maybe it was because we were all in the same boat of abject exhaustion, but this time around it didn't seem as difficult as the first time, last year in New York. (That happened to be the greatest challenge of my entire writing career, such as it is. There's something about composing prose on the fly, without seeing it or being able to revise it, that frightens me.)
We moved the story along tastefully and seductively, and ended with a neat cliffhanger that we decided would make for an ideal complete-the-story challenge for the sorely-missed Mooncat's Gargoyles X forum. Allaine wrapped up the session by reading aloud a little tale he graciously penned at my urging earlier this year, an account of a sudden-death playoff hole at the British Open golf tournament between Hudson and (if I recall correctly) a "Kim Possible" character named Duff Killigan. Many of you know that Allaine can pen dramatic dialogue with the best of them, but how many of you are aware of his talent at *humorous* dialogue? I laughed so hard I had to wipe tears from my eyes.
I decided then that I needed sustenance to remain vertical for the next few hours, and was happy to find that Kathy and Princess were willing to accompany me upstairs for brunch at Tour de la Ville. We found lovely things to eat and once again had a very enjoyable conversation, with me often gazing glassy-eyed at the handsome city outside as the view gradually rotated around us.
When we went back downstairs, I was dismayed to find that I had missed a substantial portion of the anthology-signing session. However, in retrospect, I would have been far less functional if I hadn't taken time out and eaten something -- again, those trade-offs. Upon joining the group, Christine immediately presented me with a stack of books that I gratefully signed. Just the idea of scrawling my signature upon a story of mine in print, even on as amateur a basis as this, boggled my mind.
As our book-signing wrapped up, Keith David began a question-and-answer session in the same room, in the area where we seated. As he had the previous night, he enthusiastically answered our questions and generously regaled us with tales about his work, and all present listened in rapt attention.
After a while, Karine quietly came up behind us and had us sign, one by one, a copy of the anthology to present to him. "What a nice idea," I thought. As I accepted the book from her and began to open it to my story, I was struck by the irony that I should be signing an autograph for Keith David, as opposed to the other way around.
And then I looked down at the title page of my story, and it hit me: Not only was I signing an autograph for him, I was signing it to a story I had written *entirely from his character's point of view.* From a purely creative standpoint, this was more than big. This was definitive. My story would be read by one of the *co-creators* of this character we know as Goliath.
My hands started trembling.
I took a deep, calming breath, and commenced writing. "Mr. David," I inscribed, "this one's for you. I hope I got it right." I signed my name, handed the book back to Karine, and simply sat, silent and outwardly calm, waiting for the feeling to return to my extremities.
The closing ceremonies had a relaxed feel to them, with the con staff clearly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and all of us running on empty rest-wise. Mr. David reiterated his intention to attend the next Gathering in Las Vegas, delighting all present. The con staff got nowhere near the applause they deserved (but then, this would have been impossible under any circumstances), and the proceedings wound down in a relatively low-key manner.
I had to bid farewell to Dylan and Stormy at this point, unfortunately. The time with them went entirely too fast.
My two objectives now were to preregister for Las Vegas and to obtain an autograph from Mr. David, who remained his amazingly personable self as he patiently and jovially signed pictures, programs, books, and whatever else we fans scrounged up. He had smiles for everyone.
I had brought with me a black-and-white press-kit sketch of Goliath for him to sign, then it occurred to me: What was there of mine for him to sign, really, but my anthology story? When my turn came, I recounted my earlier experience of signing my autograph to this story in his copy, and his reassurance in reply convinced me that I had nothing to fear from his judgment. Leo was kind enough to take a picture of the both of us. It turned out great.
Once I had preregistered, Allaine, Princess, Leo, Alex Garg, Kelly, and I headed over to the train station for some supper. It was nearby, sure to be open, and relatively inexpensive, but I regret not returning to Movenpick, where the food was far superior. This was negligible, however, in light of the pleasant company. We had some passable sustenance and good conversation. Then Leo, Alex Garg, and Kelly obliged me not only by waiting patiently for me while I changed into my walking shoes back at the hotel, but by letting me haul them up to the top of Mount Royal. I knew *I'd* enjoy the view, but would *they* consider it worth the trek (some of it on rather sketchy trails through the woods necessitated by the reconstruction of the steps to the top)?
They insisted that they did, and the exclamations I heard from them when they first beheld the panorama of the St. Lawrence River Valley made me believe they were being honest.
We enjoyed the view of night settling upon the city, then started downward. We took the long way this time, walking down the dark but wide main path. I took my companions on a shortcut through the McGill campus, then was indulged by them further when they allowed me to buy them a round at one of my old student haunts, an Irish pub farther down University, on our way back to the hotel. Through sheer dumb luck, this little detour delayed us just long enough to enter the hotel lobby about two minutes after my husband did. I made introductions, then bade goodnight and farewell to my fellow hikers.
I took the husband upstairs so that he could drop off his bag, then accompanied him back down for a tall cold one. While we were in the bar, we were joined by a small group that included Princess, Kathy, and Chyna Rose. We enjoyed a conversation that involved immersing my hapless better half in the wonderful world of Gargs fandom in general, and Garg fanfic writerhood in particular. He did fine -- if he was scared, he didn't let it show.
We stayed up well past our bedtimes once more, then shuffled upstairs and collapsed.
The following morning, we slept late, and it felt simply grand. Through confusion and missed communication, however, we failed to join Kathy, Mandi, and Princess for breakfast. I met up with them later for long enough to apologize to them, and then Kenn and I were off to walk the streets of Montreal.
The weather was perfect that day, and I amused Kenn by saying over and over, "I can't believe that I don't have to *be* somewhere in five minutes!" He had (quite accurately) described me as being in "college final-exam all-nighter No-Doz mode" when he met up with me on Sunday night, so this opportunity to wind down was welcomed by both of us. We strolled up St.-Laurent north of Sherbrooke, looped back down St.-Denis a little ways, stopped at Schwartz's for smoked meat, wandered back downtown, and found a lovely little sidewalk café on McGill College. We sat, enjoying the weather, the scenery, the rush of people around us, and the fact that we weren't among them. It was at this point that I felt truly unplugged from the glorious but frenetic Gathering scene.
Highlights from then on would be of little interest to those reading this account, but they included, in chronological order:
-- Dinner at Gibby's in Old Montreal on Monday night
-- A visit to the Museum of Fine Arts on Tuesday afternoon
-- Dinner with a good friend Tuesday night (the one, ironically enough, responsible for the humorous anecdote with which I regaled Maestro David in the bar)
-- A visit to the basilica of Notre Dame de Montreal on Wednesday
-- A visit to the Montreal history museum in the old city
-- A one-night delay in getting back home, thanks to the hurricanes and what-not obliterating flight schedules up and down the East Coast.
One last Gathering-related anecdote: On Wednesday as we were checking out, we ran into Keith David once more, in the hotel lobby. I introduced him to my husband with the line, "Kenn, this is Goliath," which elicited chuckles all around. Mr. David mentioned that he had begun to read the anthology, and that he was impressed with the quality of the writing and artwork featured in the book. (He mentioned that he was just about to read my story. From this I surmised that he'd read Dylan's by that time, and evidently -- and not at all surprisingly -- liked it.)
When we were finally airborne Thursday morning, I mentioned to Kenn that I was having to put some thought into how I'd respond to the people back home who'd ask me, simply, "How was your trip?" I decided that the most accurate answer to that question would be, "It was an alternate universe." And I have the con staff and my fellow writers and Garg fans, as well as Greg Weisman and Keith David, to thank for that. You folks are something else.
See you in Vegas!
Hey, give yourself credit too. You made the effort. You came, so you get to see and conquer. Showing up is more than half the battle.
So all of you... it's NOT TOO LATE...
Come to the TENTH ANNUAL GATHERING OF THE GARGOYLES in Southern Cal. June 23-26.
For more information, check out www.gatheringofthegargoyles.com