Historical fantasy novel, by Dimitris Apergis. Exclusively at the blog of OKYPUS in 36 weekly episodes, in English and Greek languages.
Synopsis: London, 1824. The boss of London's Crime Syndicate, Wilbur Barnaby, assigns two men to travel to the -rebelling against the Ottomans- country of Greece and locate the poet Lord Byron in order to obtain a gambling debt of his to the underworld. One of the two men is Welsh Bugs Hamhaduke, the so-called "neckwringer." The other is the enigmatic Lord Greywood. The two men will embark on an adventurous journey to the Greek city of Missolonghi via Paris. None of those involved, however, is aware of Lord Greywood's terrible secret: That he actually belongs to the Order of Strigoi Morti, the oldest and most dangerous generation of vampires.
ISBN : 978-618-00-1549-2
PRELUDE : Guilá Naquitz (1 chapter)
PART ONE : London (4 chapters)
PART TWO : Paris (10 chapters)
PART THREE : Vampires (10 chapters)
PART FOUR : Missolonghi (10 chapters)
EPILOGUE : Los Angeles (1 chapter)
[ep. 07 of 36]
The next morning, the bright sunbeams spread along the Rue Quentin-Bauchart, sneaking into the blinds of the long windows of the pension Les Paons Fiers and awakening Hamhaduke from his deep sleep. Illuminated by the sun, Paris was relieved of the haunting night that would inspire poets to write praises to the princely moon and surrendered itself to the clarity of the daylight where everything became visible and defined. Hamhaduke got up from the bed and stood at the open balcony door of his room, showing off his naked body to the bustle of the street. The yawn came out of his throat like the roar of a hungry lion and overshadowed the city's noise.
After washing his face with the basin's water on the boudoir, he got dressed and shoved his pistol inside his belt for any eventuality. Then he went out to the hallway of the floor and knocked on the next door that belonged to Lord Greywood's room. There was no response.
Hamhaduke then went down to the lobby and asked Mrs. Dejarnette if she knew where the Lord was, but she had no idea. Mrs Dejarnette was the sweet old lady who ran the pension and was one of the very few people in Paris who knew enough English to communicate well with the English tourists. Hamhaduke asked her to open the Lord's door with her own spare key, but she refused, telling him that such a move was against the management's regulations.
Hamhaduke then pretended to be worried about the Lord alleging that he had watched him eat a raw steak last night and possibly that raw steak could have been fatal and the Lord might have been poisoned. This argument - as it was such grossly expressed - was enough to persuade Mrs Dejarnette to go with Hamhaduke up to the Lord's room to ascertain whether the Lord was sound.
Opening the Lord's door with the spare key, Hamhaduke and Mrs. Dejarnette found that the Lord was not in. His clothes were neatly hung on the wooden hangers, the linen was perfectly folded on the bed, the wood stove was unused, and the long window was curiously wide open, phasing in the chilly frost of the morning.
Hamhaduke offered to close the window, but Mrs Dejarnette prevented him with a sharp 'no' claiming that it was expressly forbidden to tamper with anything in the room without the Lord's consent. Hamhaduke sounded a melancholy sigh as he concluded that he should spend that day in Paris alone, at least until the Lord appeared.
Wearing his standard cap on his head, Hamhaduke stepped out of the pension and began strolling the streets of Paris without a specific destination since he knew nothing about the city. The glorious monuments and magnificent buildings of Paris did not arouse any admiration in him in the light of day. For him, they were only bulks of marble and brick, they stood simply as mute giants in his path, he was completely indifferent to the craftsmanship invested in their construction.
It would not be an exaggeration if one contended that for Hamhaduke the earth entire was a vast landfill littered with anthropomorphic elements. For a perverted subject like Hamhaduke, however, this landfill also appeared as a playground in which he had nothing but enjoy himself by exterminating as many anthropomorphic elements as he could in his own precious way. The murderous instinct was really the only power that held him to life. All the wickedness of this world was accumulated into one human being, and the being's name was Bugs Hamhaduke.
How many people had he killed in his life? One hundred? Two hundred? More? Even he couldn't remember, he had lost count. Was there a difference between the murders he committed under orders and the ones he committed by his own will? Did it matter at all if he killed some people out of hatred while he killed others purely for fun? These were not worries that would beset his mind. Hamhaduke could never concern himself with trifles of this sort.
His walk brought him to Parc Beaujon, the leisure park near the Champs Elysées. It was a vast expanse of gardens and cafés and orchestras and dances and fireworks and a variety of other shows and entertainments. At Parc Beaujon of that period, for the first time, an impressive attraction, the Montagnes Russes, the forerunner of today's roller coaster, appeared. It had wagons with wheels locked on tracks and two curved rails starting from the top of a tall tower. Hamhaduke boarded out of curiosity a Montagnes Russes wagon and was so excited by his frantic race that he rode it again for four more times.
Buying a big red strawberry-flavored lollipop from the street vendor, he spent his morning hours wandering around Parc Beaujon and lazing about at the joy of the visitors. He went about to mount one of the wooden ponies of the manual carousel, but its owner prevented him from doing so out of fear that the construction would not bear his weight.
While in the park, he also visited the renting post of the draisienne which were the ancestors of the bicycle: A wooden board on two wheels and a rudimentary pair of handle bars connected to the front wheel to aid in driving. As there were no pedals, the rider was required to move it by stepping his feet on the ground. Hamhaduke climbed on a draisienne, but his coarse shape did not allow him to handle it for more than a few metres since he was unable to maintain his balance. He got a little nervous but his anger didn't last long.
Hamhaduke's day was not spent solely in Parc Beaujon, however. Hamhaduke - still fascinated by the sight of the countless prostitutes of last night - paid a visit to Palais - Royal to find out more about the alternative forms of entertainment offered at the place. While there, he discovered the taverns - the so-called Guinguettes - in the basement of the Palais - Royal, which did not differ much from the London breweries beyond the fact that they mainly sold wine instead of beer.
The most famous of those underground taverns was the Café des Aveugles which had - among others - an orchestra consisting of blind musicians. The Café des Aveugles, like the other taverns, opened in the evening after sunset. So Hamhaduke decided he would honor it with his presence that night. And if - hopefully - the Lord appeared, then he would take him along to the Café des Aveugles by force (if necessary). This way, he would get his revenge for the unpleasant experience of yesterday's opera.
Nothing else worthy of note happened during Hamhaduke's morning stroll except for his chance encounter with a black cat while returning to the pension Les Paons Fiers. Hamhaduke nourished an irrational obsession with cats, especially the black ones. That hapless black cat stood on a stone berm in a dead end alley perpendicular to the Rue Pierre Charron. It was a deserted alley characterized by shut windows, locked doors and walls dilapidated by rot. Facing her, Hamhaduke looked around and after establishing that there was not a soul in the place, he pulled the pistol from his waistband and aimed it at the cat.
"Psst, psst, beautiful kitty ... I love little kittens ... Psst, psst, kitty kitty ..."
The cat stared him down with her phosphorescent eyes, but before suspecting his intentions, Hamhaduke pulled the pistol's cock and pressed the trigger. The pistol's bang was thunderous, and it resonated in the entire alley. The bullet scattered the cat into a thousand pieces. Hamhaduke then stuffed the pistol under his belt and fled the spot in a hurry.
[to be continued next Friday, 28 February 2020, exclusively at the blog of OKYPUS]
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A few words about the author
Dimitris Apergis was born in Larisa, Greece, in 1978. He graduated in BA (Hons) Film Studies in the UK. He lives in Greece.
His books are published in both English and Greek languages, by the OKYPUS PUBLISHING. https://en.okypus.com/okypus-publisher
Dimitris has received multiple awards for his literary work.
In 2018 he received the First Literature Award from the Panhellenic Association of Writers for his novel Gerard & the father. Additionally, in 2018 his novel Gerard & the father also received the First Literature Award at the 8th International Literature Contest held by E.P.O.C. (Hellenic Culture Association of Cyprus) under the aegis of UNESCO.
In 2017 his novel ‘At the Whiskey County’ received the First Literature Award at the 7th International Literature Contest held by the Hellenic Culture Association of Cyprus under the aegis of UNESCO.
In 2015 his novella ‘Jazz Room’ received the Second Literature Award from the Panhellenic Association of Writers.
In 2013 he received a Praise from the Panhellenic Association of Writers for his short story Labyrinth
In 2012 he received the First Literature Award from the MONITOR Press for his short story Acid Rain