Author Topic: Excerpt from 'The Orpheus Tales'  (Read 3696 times)

Offline SteveJ

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Excerpt from 'The Orpheus Tales'
« on: September 08, 2008, 03:22:04 PM »


From 'Salvatore House':


 CHAPTER II - THE TREACHERY OF IMAGES

 Aside from a few working men in a far corner, Callaghan was alone.
The landlord, a genial, talkative type, kept him company as he stood at the bar.

 “Here for business, are you? My name's Clarke, by the way – happy to meet you, sir.”

  Fergsuon placed the briefcase at his feet, and they shook hands briefly. .

 “No, just visiting.”

 Despite his guest's reluctance to hold a conversation, the landlord continued his smalltalk.

 “Anyone in particular, sir? I get to know pretty much everyone, working here.”

 Callaghan, about to move to the snug, now had a chance to bemoan the day's events.

 “Well I came all the way from Camden to see Mr Cristian Salazar, but so far, not a sign of
the man...only Beatriz Salazar, who was most rude to me. I'd better take a room for the night –
do you have one?”

 Clarke stopped wiping the bar, and his face lit up. He smiled, even as he broke the bad news:

 “No, I'm afraid we don't have a single one – the canal workers took 'em all. Mr Salazar, eh?
Don't think too unkindly of him, sir, the man's a hero to me – and others. Wonderful man,
generous to a fault. No-one goes short here, sir, thanks to Mr Salazar. You won't hear a bad
word said against him in Carliton.”

 Callaghan hid his surprise at the thought of Salzar's supposed altruism.

 “I was told that he's a recluse...” 

 Clarke's smile faded, and his cheeks returned to their natural pallor.

 “Yes, I daresay he is now. I haven't seen him for, oh, four years. My daughter Laura tells me
that he's, well, a broken man, to be frank, sir. Doesn't even paint much anymore, it seems.”

 “I saw a few paintings of his recently; wonderful technique, but their subject matter was a little
unusual, to say the least.”

 The landlord's wide smile returned and an expression of the purest pride settled on his beaming face.

 “Can't say I know much about culture, sir, but I know that Mr Salazar is a true artist.”

 With a flourish that ill-suited the stout, sweating man, he raised his arm upwards as he turned to show
Callaghan a picture hanging above the collection of tankards belonging to regular customers.

 “Mr S gave it to me after my eldest daughter passed away, God rest her soul. As I said, sir, generous
to a fault. He was very kind to her, in her last days of illness – he and his sister took care of her for me
while me an' Laura worked here; I'll always be grateful.”

 A rural landscape of the most eye-pleasing but dull type, all golden straw and docile animals, had been
painted as the backdrop to a stone monument. The grey figure of an angel dominated the picture, and
appeared to strain against the canvas, as if pleading that its passionate prayer would be heard. A single
granite tear, frozen in time before its progress was complete, marked the cobwebbed face. The traditional
legend 'Requiescat in Pace' was engraved below delicate, bound feet, directly above Cristian Salazar's
flamboyant signature.

 “I can't remember the angel's name now, but Mr Salazar said she shows us that 'life is fleeting but faith is
eternal'; that's what he said to me, and I thanked him, because I was truly beyond consolation when poor
Mary died.”

 “May I see it?”

 Clarke looked a little doubtful, but handed the painting to him.

 Turning the painting this way and that, positioning it to catch the afternoon light, Callaghan was somewhat
surprised to find that the picture was what it seemed to be at first glance – a mainly bland, if slightly hysterical
representation of mourning. Only when he looked past the lush green field did the artist's true intent become
clear – Salvatore House had been painted there. Out of scale and coloured to match the swirling grey clouds
at the rear of the painting, the arrangement of Salvatore's lit and unlit windows made it appear like a death mask,
the black door gaping open like a screaming mouth; Clarke had not seen this disturbing feature; perhaps no-one
else ever had.

 Callaghan handed the painting back to the landlord, thanked him and made an excuse about finding
accommodation for the night. Clarke's face suddenly took on a rather comical surprised expression as an idea
took hold of him.

 “Just a minute, sir, I do have a room you can use. I don't normally let anyone in there – it's my Mary's old room –
but seeing as you're different to the usual rough lot we get in 'ere, you're welcome to stay, with my blessing.”

 “That's really very kind of you. I'm honoured.”

 “Not at all, sir – it's a pleasure to help a refined young gentleman like yourself. I'll show you up presently.”

 Clarke carefully replaced the commemorative painting above the bar. His customary smile became more subtle,
bittersweet, the memory of his loss returning to him as the sunlight hit glass covering the picture, obscuring all
detail except the weeping angel.

***

 The landlord took Callaghan's case in hand, and led the way up a plain wooden staircase, along a thin passage until
the two reached a badly-painted white door. After depositing the case beside the bed, Clarke shook hands again
and walked downstairs, his heavy tread heralding his retreat.

 Callaghan looked at the pink embroidered bedspread, the white walls, and felt at ease – he anticipated a good
night's sleep in the humble but cosy room. He picked up a framed drawing, and guessed that the smiling young
redhead was the late Mary Clarke. The picture had been signed by Cristian Salazar.

 The maintenance of Mary's room had obviously been a labour of love for the landlord. Not a trace of dust could
be seen, and the various pictures and ornaments had been polished to a shine. A few clean, oblong rugs graced the
bare floorboards - it was a small, misshapen room made as homely as was possible. Callaghan undressed as quickly
as he could, and made himself comfortable within the bed. As he raised the covers over his body, he felt that sleep
would surely come easily after such a long day.

 He gradually became more weary in the warmth of the room, but something kept him from sleep even though all
was dark; everything was completely silent, unnaturally so. No sound came from the bar, even though it was long
before closing time and any ordinary public house would be awash with shouting, music and general commotion.
Likewise, nothing could be heard from outside, even though the night was still young. This very silence puzzled
Callaghan, delayed his rest - he was tense, as if waiting for something to happen.

 Caught between consciousness and sleep, his eyes strained to make out objects in the darkness, and he whiled
away the endless minutes by trying to guess their identity. His gaze wandered from the ceiling to the door. Still,
he remained awake as Carliton slumbered.

 At last, a slight noise gave him relief from his feeling of complete isolation. Someone stirred nearby, and now
fully aware, he speculated that the landlord was moving stock, barrels or crates perhaps, in the cellar; the sound
resembled something being slowly dragged into position, time and again. Within moments, Callaghan reflected,
with no little irony, that the noise was keeping him from sleep. He pulled the covers over his head and sighed in
exasperation. As he exhaled wearily, someone's breathing matched his own. The noise, and the person
responsible for it, came from within the bedroom.

 There was no light to be had, and once more Callaghan found himself trying to adjust his eyesight, but this was
no longer a game. He saw no-one, nothing bar the room's familiar objects. Curiosity battled with his fear, and he
looked down to the source of the breathing. Someone was dragging themselves towards the bed. The rugs were
disturbed, cast at odd angles and finally left in the wake of whatever crept along the floor. It breathed hard, the
noise seemed to hit the boards and resound about the room, becoming ever louder.

 Tiny points of coloured light glimmered around empty space until they outlined the figure of a girl. She lay face-
down, copper-coloured hair masking her face from view. Her fingers fought to grip the harsh wooden surface
with broken nails. The grey dress she wore rode up to reveal bare and bloodied legs, the calves and feet
crisscrossed with jagged cuts as though she had been running through a brier patch.

 She raised her head slowly. Callaghan tried to cry out but could not do so. Her breathing became too rapid
for anything truly human, and was underscored with the strains of weeping. As the coloured light returned to
claim her and she began to fade into darkness, he saw that her face was unmarked by tears - Mary had no eyes
to weep from.



The Orpheus Tales is available direct from Lulu.com in paperback & PDF download format,
or from
Salvatore Publishing:

http://www.lulu.com/content/3814815
http://salvatorepublishing.wordpress.com

Paperback: £5.95 Download: Only £1.25

Preview here: http://www.lulu.com/content/3814815


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Offline thatLous

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Re: Excerpt from 'The Orpheus Tales'
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2008, 03:47:03 PM »
*dances* Steve posted an excerpt! Steve posted an excerpt!

 ;D ;D As always- it is a delightful read. The last part gave me chills! Your style still makes me want to write again, Steve :)

Offline SteveJ

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Re: Excerpt from 'The Orpheus Tales'
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2008, 04:01:09 PM »
Your style still makes me want to hit you with a sack of potatoes!

Cheers, Lou-Lou ;D ;D
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Offline thatLous

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Re: Excerpt from 'The Orpheus Tales'
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2008, 04:07:31 PM »
You're right, Lou Lou! I'm glad that I make you want to write something again ;D ;D

 ;D You're very welcome, Steve!

Offline SteveJ

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Re: Excerpt from 'The Orpheus Tales'
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2008, 04:09:38 PM »
I'm going to write all-new stuff for Volume Two!

Yep, same here, chief - I'm bored to death of my old stuff ;D
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Offline thatLous

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Re: Excerpt from 'The Orpheus Tales'
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2008, 04:15:57 PM »
Quote from: ThatLouie
I'm going to write all-new stuff for Volume Two!

Yep, same here, chief - I'm bored to death of my old stuff ;D

There's something we agree on ;D I haven't put on my writing shoes yet, though  :( As one of my heroes once said: "I never look back, darling. It distracts me from the now." ;D ;D

*whisper* write more Steve! more i say! *whisper*

And that goes for the rest of the crew, too! (looks at Ninny) ;D :D

Offline SteveJ

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Re: Excerpt from 'The Orpheus Tales'
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2008, 04:17:52 PM »
Who said that, Lou??
A Writer's Christmas:
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Orpheus

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Re: Excerpt from 'The Orpheus Tales'
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2008, 04:28:10 PM »
Looking forward to seeing the entire novel Steve. I agree with you guys - I need to write some fresh material too. I was thinking chick lit. :D

Offline thatLous

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Re: Excerpt from 'The Orpheus Tales'
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2008, 04:31:05 PM »
Might be the ghost of... er-- Author's past, Steve  :-\


Looking forward to seeing the entire novel Steve. I agree with you guys - I need to write some fresh material too. I was thinking chick lit. :D

Pheu doing chick-lit! Hurrah! ;D ;D

Let me guess- a romance between a birdie hybrid monster and a human thirsty for love! I can see it all now...

In fact, I- myself- can write chick lit! Memnoch Bones' Diary... ;D ;D ;D

Orpheus

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Re: Excerpt from 'The Orpheus Tales'
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2008, 04:35:24 PM »
I was thinking... boy meets girl, girl meets boy, boy meets girl, girl..... I dammit - I don't do chicklit! ???

Offline thatLous

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Re: Excerpt from 'The Orpheus Tales'
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2008, 04:37:18 PM »
Oh oh- how about: boy meets girl, girl meets boy, boy meets girl, girl eats boy! ;D

Orpheus

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Re: Excerpt from 'The Orpheus Tales'
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2008, 04:41:07 PM »
I could call it Maneater

Offline thatLous

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Re: Excerpt from 'The Orpheus Tales'
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2008, 04:46:33 PM »
Ever heard the movie 'Teeth'? ;D


ps. Argh! Back on topic now :D

Orpheus

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Re: Excerpt from 'The Orpheus Tales'
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2008, 05:18:01 PM »
Ahem... How do I look?

Offline SteveJ

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Re: Excerpt from 'The Orpheus Tales'
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2008, 05:19:56 PM »
Awesome^ :)
A Writer's Christmas:
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