I am fascinated by the infectious quality of stories. Their ability to pass from one person to another. I love how quickly a story mutates in the telling, taking on the characteristics of the teller, bringing with it bits of the teller’s dreams, desires, and occasionally nightmares. I love the sensation an Urban Myth has on the tip of my tongue and the warm sensation of folklore as it plays inside my mind. Stories feel very much alive to me and those stories that live outside of the teller, that slip from mind to mind and grow in the process, are of particular fascination to me.
In another life I would have chased these stories the world over. I suspect that I may yet do enough chasing in the middle of this life to build a second career from the game. Bean Sídhe and mourner myths, the Bagman and Boogieman, the Black Dog and the Red Hand, all fascinate me. Even Bloody Mary changes her name and face as she slips from continent to continent. Hunting these stories isn’t about capturing them so much as it is about watching them change, birth young, and disregard the boundaries of culture and language.
My wife has joked that I wanted to be the Steve Irwin of stories. To find them, wrestle them and care for them. Even in the joke, she recognized the part of me that loves what it is inside of a story that needs to be cherished, witnessed, and followed. The wonder I feel watching my own stories slip away from me and find their way into a reader’s heart is very nearly a sacred thing. My characters change, their eye colors dissolve and are replaced by whatever the reader demands. Height, weight, even the metaphysical changes of the soul are now in the hands of the reader but there is something there…some deep seed of soul that remains. I won’t quite claim it as mine. Not really. Just like tracking the origin of Bloody Mary or the Bagman, it is extremely difficult to untangle where my own stories come from. But this soul-seed, it does have my fingerprints or at least some unconscious color smudge of my own soul smudged about its edges that follow it into the reader’s mind. Now when the reader sets it free, when they tell the story to another or when they recommend the story be read, it will take on something of their own. A sensation or perhaps a smudge of their own soul-hue. Something bright or maybe something mischievous that now belongs to the story. Watching this transfer is not only amazing but addicting. I will never wrestle a crocodile but I understand Steve Irwin’s constant use of “Beautiful” as he describes the animals he cared for. They are beautiful and so too are the stories that I love, the stories that change, and those that are set free to become whatever they wish to in this world. I am moved by these stories and hope to move right along with them.
Cody’s stories have appeared in Pilgrimage, Cirque, KYSO Flash, Menda City Review, Swamp Biscuits & Tea, and others. He is fiction winner of the 2016 Montana Book Festival Regional Emerging Writers Contest and served as editor of the short fiction anthology Soul’s Road. Cody completed an intensive MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. He teaches at Portland Community College and works as a story editor. Cody grew up listening to stories in his grandfather’s barbershop as he shined shoes, stories told to him at bedsides and on front porches, deep in his father’s favorite woods, and in the cabs of pickup trucks on lonely dirt roads. Cody’s work explores those things both small and wondrous that move the soul, whether they be deeply real or strikingly surreal.