Butcher Babies’ Carla Harvey Shares Excerpt from New Book, ‘Death and Other Dances’
Carla Harvey of the Butcher Babies will release a semi-autobiographical novel, ‘Death and Other Dances,’ on August 25. The book is available for pre-order on Harvey’s webstore. She will be doing a book signing and reading at Book Soup in Los Angeles on August 28.
‘Death and Other Dances’ tells the story of Autumn Franklin, an awkward, biracial girl growing up in a suburb of Detroit. Already disconnected from her peers at an early age because of her background, she becomes even more withdrawn when her young parents divorce. Ever changing but stubbornly tenacious, she survives the cards she’s been dealt by playing them against the odds. Hurt her and she will not hesitate to “kill you off,” making it easier to walk away. Transplanting herself from her factory-driven hometown to the alluring City of Angels, she has but one goal: to find herself. Struggling to make solid connections with those around her, Autumn swallows her reservations and pushes limits to the extreme as she transitions between two drastic career changes: from the bowels of the adult entertainment industry to her rebirth as a mortician. There amongst the dead, she learns what it is to live, love, and to allow others inside, finally landing in the most comfortable place of all: her own skin.
Today, Harvey teamed up with Revolver to premiere an excerpt from the book. Check it out below.
Danny always met me outside the brick entrance to school every morning. One day, he didn’t show. I went to my first period class and tried to concentrate but my thoughts centered on him. He still wasn’t around after second period. During third period, I was called to the principal’s office. As I walked down the hallway my blood ran cold.
I opened the door and my mother and Danny’s mother, Cathy, sat in the office chairs. Cathy’s face was raw and puffy. My mother looked shell-shocked. They both walked me outside. I felt like I was going to throw up. We stood in the sun for a moment, and Danny’s mother finally spoke. “Danny was hurt once,” she started and paused. “It happened at church.
Someone hurt him… so this really isn’t his fault. He didn’t mean to hurt his sister.” My face turned red. I rolled her words around in my brain, trying to make sense of them. “Danny,” my mother interjected, “isn’t coming home for a while. He touched his sister and he had to go away.” I couldn’t breathe. “You are not to talk to him anymore.”
I turned away from her stare. “Okay,” I said. “I have to go back to class now. I have a test.” “Are you okay?” My mother touched me on the shoulder. “I’m fine,” I said, and pushed her hand away. I didn’t want to be touched. “Okay, well, we’ll talk later about this more?” “I don’t need to.” I turned and walked back into school. I went to my locker and took out Danny’s notebook. He always left it in my locker when he couldn’t open his, which was most of the time. It smelled just like him. I opened it, burying my nose in the pages and breathing him in. I held it in my hands and cried.
The news spread like wildfire through our middle school. By the next afternoon everyone knew that Danny Hunt had been sent away for “diddling” his sister. The kids were unforgiving. Spitballs were launched at my head, laughter thrown in my face. I walked the halls with my head down. I tried to make it through the day without going to the girls’ bathroom. When I couldn’t hold it in any longer, I found the bathroom furthest away from every class, aware that it would make me late for math class. I snuck behind the sanctuary of the restroom’s big red door, locking myself in the last stall.
One time, I was seen. The door slammed open again, letting in two giggling “He musta had to do that to his sister because you wouldn’t fuck him,” one said, tapping on my stall door with her nails. I stared at my feet. “You shoulda sucked his dick.”
“Nasty bitch,” her friend joined in. I could see their Reeboks under the stall door as they stood and waited for me to come out. I knew the bell would ring any second. I just had to wait for it. I stopped going to the bathroom altogether after that day. My insides atrophied. My mother took me to the doctor. They poked and prodded me, gave me barium shakes to drink so that they could investigate my intestines on the big screen. I was too ill to go to back to school. I stayed at home, comatose on the couch.
The letters began to arrive. Danny sent me snippets of his hair with letters from prison. Once, he even sent me a piece of his skin. All of his letters smelled like him and I would sleep with them under my pillow. I wanted to be sick forever so I could stay and watch the mailbox.
Danny had an older brother named Todd. Todd was even better looking than Danny and acne free. He also always wore a leather trench coat that I was infatuated with. I decided with Danny long gone, Todd was my next best option. But there were other contenders as well. From the ninth grade on, I’d had dates booked for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My mother was beside herself. “One of these boys is going to kill you,” she’d say. “Someone is going to chop you up and put you in a suitcase!”
But how could I choose? I loved them all desperately and for different reasons until they’d do something to annoy me. It could be something as slight as the way they chewed their food, a catch phrase they overused, or a song I loved that they didn’t get. Whatever the reason, I would cut them off instantly and brutally, wanting them scarred, all of them. After all, I knew they would do it to me eventually. I had to protect myself. I hated them all.