Thursday, July 25, 2013

In Search of Opulence

Here's a story for you...

It was a class assignment a couple or weeks ago. It is much different than my usual fare, that's for sure.  Check out the afterword for an explanation of the class assignment.

We should have never put our trust in the drifter we met that warm day on the beach in the South of France.

We were vagabonds in our own right, traveling from town to town, making wicked game of the townspeople and peasants, cheating them out of the few valuables they held in their possession. I was always the temptress, opulent yet distraught, and ever more so skilled in catching any man’s wayward eye and imagination. It didn’t fare long before I would have him thinking he could perhaps receive a kiss, a dance, or something more. And while I did that which I could only do best, my companion Ian, that fancy rogue, would scavenge the valuables of the willing victim, taking that which would get us through another day or even another week. And if we were fortunate, we could survive months or perhaps a year on our bounty. One never knew which rags-donning peasant was carrying a stash of silver coins or gold with the dreams of one day purchasing a donkey or horse, so as to retire from walking to and fro.

We ourselves were able to afford a stolen horse and carriage. We also had swords handy, and twice sharpened daggers to protect our fortune.

No longer were the meager valuables of village peasants enough to meet our opulent needs. Our horse and
carriage afforded just the amount of extravagance to provide suitable refuge among the rich and famous that took holiday on the warm beaches of the South of France. We’d been celebrating our largest act of thievery the day before. Ian robbed the carriage house of the grand hotel in Lit-et-Mixe, while I made merry with the carriage hands. Our take of silver, gold, diamonds and furs were well worth sore lady parts. We’d been traveling for a few days and when we knew we were safe from capture, we took rest on a lovely deserted beach. That night we had delicious pheasant instead of hastily killed rodent for supper. It was indeed a good night.

It was there while relaxing and enjoying the soft ocean breeze that we saw him: the bearded man on a small wooden boat, drifting slowly towards the seashore.

Against the gilded sunset, with the setting sun a golden halo about his head, one would easily mistake him for an Angel, a messenger of the Lord, or even the Christ himself. But as he drew closer, donned in a burlap robe, his hair long and dirty falling in his face and hanging just above his waist, he was far from anything sacred.

“’Tis a sign, Abigail,” Ian whispered as he slowly rose to his feet and walked forward as if floating on air. “A sign.”

“’Tis merely a man,” I replied from my place near our small fire. “Most likely a peasant.”

“It is a sign to tell us that we must pray. Look at the cross he holds in his hand. We must ask for forgiveness. We must confess our sins to the holy man.”

My dearest Ian. He wrestled endlessly like a wild colt in need of breaking when it came to our thieving ways. This was unfortunate, as every time we passed a holy man, he felt the need to confess his sins. I myself didn’t care, as we always arose the next day and continued in mischief.
Ian had already fallen to his knees, his hands to his face to capture his tears.

I stifled a laugh as always. I too stood to my feet . But I retreated to our carriage, parked only a few feet away.

“Bless us, holy father,” Ian wept when the man was amongst us. “For we have sinned. We have sinned against God and against these good people.”

Yes, it was the same with Ian. I would let him release it all. Better for him to have the guilt taken away. It always made it easier to plan our next pillage.

“You are forgiven, dear child,” the holy man said. He touched the crown of Ian’s head with a rugged wooden cross held together by a length of dirty rope. He offered the holy Eucharist- the small wafer and the chalet of wine. “I promise you will have good fortune, here and forevermore. I promise you will laugh and not cry. You will never cry again. ”

Ian received the broken wafer from the man’s hand. He drank from the rusted chalet. He wept uncontrollably, but soon collapsed, from exhaustion, perhaps. When I looked up, back towards the holy man, he’d produced a large dagger and a broad smile.

“Away from the carriage, my lady,” he said.

I didn’t comply.

He moved forward and with one strong move, slashed me at the wrist. A thin trickle of blood fell to the ground.

“Again, away from the carriage or you die!”

I eased myself away. I winced from the pain of the fresh cut. “You can’t do this,” I said. “It is wrong, you simply can’t.”

He laughed, exposing the rotten teeth in his mouth. His hair fell away and out of his face, revealing a jagged scar in the shape of an “X” on the bridge of his long nose. He pushed me to the ground. I landed on top of Ian.

“Yes I can. I’ve watched you from afar doing to others what I have just done to you. “

I scrambled away from Ian. My dear dead Ian.

“Oh don’t worry yourself about him, my lady,” the man said. “A little poison stolen from a magic man in the forest will give him the sweet slumber of a newborn babe until morn. He won’t remember a thing when he awakens from such sweet sleep.”

And with that, the drifter, the mighty man of liturgy, was off- off with our horse, off with our carriage, off with all that was rightfully ours, rightfully stolen from those on holiday on that warm and beautiful beach.

I held my dear Ian in my arms and I vowed at that very moment to find this drifter, this trickster with his blind promises, and make him pay.

I would make him pay for what he had so wrongly stolen from us all.


Our instructor gave us an interesting assignment. She generated some phrases from an old "phrase generator" type of software. She gave us a list of about 300 different phrases. We were to choose three phrases for subject and plot material.

I couldn't decide on three, so I picked several...

Here are the phrases I used for my story:

Opulent Temptress
Opulent Rogue
Liturgical drifter
Gilded sunset
Warm beach
Blind promises

I agonized for days over it (well not really. I had about 10 phrases picked out. I stopped whining and started writing.

We were particularly giddy at work over the part about the "sore ladyparts". 

Hey, you gotta WORK to make that money sometimes, ya know? HA HA!!!

It gets a little hard because our teacher has a thing for the fantasy and historical genres. I like to read those genres from time to time, but I am more of a contemporary gal.

But it was fun to adjust.

"You should do more with that," our instructor said.


Uh, no thank you.

But it was a fun exercise.

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Slap the *crickets* out the way, kindly step up to the mike, and SAY something!!