So we’re at the Spring Time, Midway, crazy part of Novel Dreamers!
If you’ve been paying attention, or if you’d like to find them all in one place, you’ll know that all the March pieces are in and ready to vote on at the Voting Page.
As for my writers, they’re about to go and do some fun writing on the following theme:
Yes, dear writers, I want you to plot twist like M. Knight Shyamalan! Because April 1st, y’all!
As an added bit of fun, not only will I be voting for my top three at the hand in next month, but the best three plot twists (in my opinion) will be receiving 3, 2, and 1 votes accordingly.
Anywho. I got 6 plays, 2 novels, and 3 Dungeons and Dragons Campaigns to write.
SEE YOU NEXT MONTH!
The Highwayman’s Trick
Let me ask you this.
If I held a gun to your head, would you even care what the options I were giving you are? I mean, if I placed the barrel of a pistol on your temple and started along the lines of “No pressure, but given the option, would you say you’re a leg or a breast man?”, how far into the sentence would your attention drift from my velvet voice and down to the terrible trickling that is currently running down your leg?
Don’t worry, I’m not going to be holding a gun to your head. I am unfortunately in no such position to do so. I don’t think I’d do that anyway, it’s not in my horoscope or personality type; whatever those are. It would probably be the nature of my companion that I share this cell with…
Sorry, that wasn’t vey helpful. Picture the scene; an Elizabethan prison cell with torches on the walls and hay on the floor. Two men sit in opposite corners of the room, scowling at one another. One is dressed in a heavy duster coat, tricorn hat, tough trousers, riding boots, and a lot of scarfs and fabrics with pockets; he is not me. I am the second man in the room, wearing a simple shirt, waistcoat, trousers, and shoes. Oh, and a potato sack over my head. I know this for three reasons:
1- The inside of the bag smells heavily of potatoes.
2- The outside of the bag is printed with a very Irish sounding family name, along with the statement “and sons, Quality Potatoes.”
3- I have a very strong feeling of de ja vu and I’m sure it was a potato sack the last time too.
The reason we are sat on either side of the cell is because of the conversation we just had, that lead to a fight, that lead to me miraculously landing a punch on him – in the mouth – and him going off in a strop. I didn’t push the fight any further because I didn’t actually expect to land the punch. Right, sorry. Why did we fight? Well this is how the conversation went:
Setting: the cell I’ve been talking about. Characters: The Highwayman – Stan, and The Narrator or me – James. Context: James has just been thrown into the cell by a rather gropey guard and isn’t too happy as he’s just been found guilty for a crime he did not commit. The rest will be explained post-haste.
Stan: Any last words, scum?
James’ breathing speeds up, and he starts to fidget.
James: I, erm, I never done it, sir!
Stan: (Laughing) Never done it, boy? I haven’t heard that one before!
James: Honest, sir. I was set up, it were that damn highwayman. He stopped I on the Thunder Road. I knew there was something strange about him the moment he hesitated. Talked a while, he did, then left. Didn’t even rob me, sir. Must have planted it as we were in dialogue.
Stan: Don’t try to fool me, boy! I knows your type. You try speaking up and suddenly you think the airs and graces will save you. Well it ain’t happening!
Stan comes over and kicks James in the back of the knee, causing him to drop to his knees. Stan places a noose around James’ neck and steps back. Stan pretends to talk to another person over his shoulder
Stan: Here, Steven. Reckon this one will piss himself?
He stands grinning at James for a moment, then realises there is no reply and starts looking over his shoulder. He walks over to the door as he calls.
Stan: Steven? Steven? Steven!
He rushes back to James’ shoulder
Stan: Must be getting the scythe ready
James: (Panicking) What the hell does he need a scythe for if you’re gonna hang me?!
Stan: (Laughing) Oh boy! My sweet sweet (hesitates) what’s your name?
James: What does that matter? Surely it’ll make your job harder knowing my name?
Stan pauses on this a second
Stan: How so?
James: Well you know what they say. If you have to put down a calf, it’s easier if your little girl hasn’t started referring to it as Daisy
Stan: Never heard that one, you trying to save your skin again?
He grabs the noose and yanks it about. James screams and then whimpers
James: No! NO! I promise, sir! I just mean that it’s harder to kill something you have an emotional attachment to?!
Stan: Alright, alright, quit your mewling. Now, your name?
James: James Cobbs, sir
Stan: Stop with the bloody sir, Cobbs! Now, the reason our Steven is off getting the scythe is a very simple one. After we’ve hung you, we gotta put you into these barrels to send you off to the physicians at the local university. Problem is that the campus is made of four different schools, you see. Well you don’t, what with that (refers to the bag), but you get my point. Anyway, the four doctors are interested in different parts of you and they likes the parts fresh. So as soon as you start dancing the invisible waltz, we’ll be cutting you ZIIP (gestures over James’ neck and his shoulders and thighs) into the segments. Head. Body. Limbs.
James: But that’s only three. What’s the fourth?
Stan starts to laugh, he comes round the back of James and places his hands on his shoulders, massaging him slowly.
Stan: Oh, my boy, my sweet innocent Cobbs. There’s a specialist subject that all men are slightly too concerned with to think of about it until it’s endangered.
James: And what is that?
Stan: Your cock, Cobbs. Your John Thomas. Your prick, man!
Stan grabs down and James let’s out a sob, Stan falls back laughing
James: God, man! Have you no sympathy for a man before the gates of heaven?
Stan: Ah, Cobbs. You’re neither at the gates of heaven or the tavern backdoor to hell. Why not sit and drink with me a while?
Stan goes over to him and undoes his binding, James gives no fight as Stan helps him to his feet.
Stan: Now, let’s get a look at you!
Stan removes the bag from James’ head. James takes a moment to regain sight and then their faces drop as they recognise one another.
Yes, dear friend. The very highwayman that had got me into this cell is here with me. And we have been here for many years. Over the hour we shall squabble, fight, laugh, and cry. By the end of the hour, the sounds of the gallows crowd will build up overhead and we will become scared and somewhat anxious. Stan will explain that he’s never been good at robbing people but really liked the highwayman outfit, and I shall find that I am one of his few victims. We will both come to learn that the worst thing you can give a highwayman is your time, as he then seems to step out of the cell and leaves me to die. And the lights drop, as if through some arcane means, and I fear my end is near.
I think back to the brief moments that Stan accosted me on the roadside, before leaving my cart untouched. I remember the stone in pit of my stomach as I reached London’s outskirts and the guards come to check the contents of my wagon. I remember the brief elation when the guards finally step away, happy but not pushing any further.
And then the sound of metal against stone.
I turn to see the box scatter across the floor as the door of the wagon shuts, and an ‘obviously not my necklace’ falls out of the little jewellery box.
And as the pounding of the boots down the corridor come to meet me, I start to grin.
The audience that have gathered for my execution are confused; as is the hangman.
As the noose passes over my head I whisper, “check the cart again.”
They have no idea I’m ahead of the whole thing.
The guard who checks my carriage whilst I dance on the air finds the quartered body of James Cobbs.
And I flit back to my home. Leaving the body to disintegrate in front of a crowd of god-fearing humans…
I do love theatrics.