Historical fiction 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. 09 of 36]
PART TWO : Paris
Upon waking up the next day, Hamhaduke did exactly what he used to do every morning. He got up from the bed, opened the balcony door and sounded a thunderous yawn towards the Rue Quentin-Bauchart being totally naked. Two women were walking down the street at that moment and happened to turn their eyes to him. Looking at him, they shook their heads in disgust and began to curse in French. Who could blame them really! The sight of Hamhaduke's obese mass with its red-haired groin was not the most pleasant start for the day.
He washed his face with the basin's water on the boudoir, he wore his daily greased clothes and put the cap on his head. He also took the pistol out of his suitcase and stuffed it under his trousers' belt. While posing himself in the mirror, his eye caught the jasmine cologne vial that stood beside him.
His mind then went to the poor Lord who - locked in his room against his will - would wait for his door to finally open so that he would stroll the streets of Paris (with Hamhaduke's priceless company, of course). This thought caused Hamhaduke to smirk sadistically and prompted him to take the vial in his hands and spray himself from top to bottom.
Sailing now into the intoxicating aromas of jasmine, Hamhaduke stepped out of his room and went about to unlock the Lord's door. But as he opened the door, an unpleasant surprise awaited him.
Lord Greywood was absent. As on the day previous, 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 chilling frost of that morning. Seeing that the Lord had slipped away from him like an eel once more, Hamhaduke was enraged all over.
"Bastard ... Bastard ... I'll kill you for that ... I swear to God I'll kill you ..." he growled through his clenched denture.
It was a day of sunshine but that was the last thing on Hamhaduke's mind. His anger at Lord Graywood's escape was such that, as he walked the streets, he was constantly devising plans for the retaliation he intended to inflict upon him. He was boiling inside him out of malice and he paid no attention at all to the Parisian crowds who rushed into the Jardin des Tuileries with their thinly-woven clothes and light-colored parasols to enjoy the summer aura of that day. On his way on the Rue de Rivoli, he happened upon a hunting shop. He got in and bought a sharp knife of thirty centimeters. The shopkeeper felt a moral obligation to ask Hamhaduke in broken English what he wanted the knife for, receiving the dry response: "For hunting, of course."
Of course, Hamhaduke didn't buy that knife to go hunting. The reason why he was equipped with this particular object was his desire to settle his accounts with the Lord in the quietest way possible. It was obvious that his pistol was not recommended for this job. So, getting out of the shop, Hamhaduke hid the knife in his sleeve and began practising down the street, pulling it out abruptly and hiding it again in the garment. He wanted to improve his speed in its handling so that at the crucial moment everything could be done quickly and without much delay. He had to be brisk in his moves if he were to defeat the Lord. So he kept practising with the knife, not giving a damn about the passers-by who looked at him dumbfounded.
Unfortunately for him though, on the Rue de Rivoli at that moment stood three gendarmes with the black tunics and the kepis of the folded visors. As their eye caught him walking down the street, showing off his knife and shaking it from side to side, they began to follow him with a pace that became increasingly faster. Being absorbed to his practising, Hamhaduke did not notice them until his eye accidentally fell on a store window and saw them from the reflection of the glass. He then discreetly put the knife through his waistband and accelerated his step to evade them. Ascertaining however that the gendarmes did not intend to allow him to escape so easily, he turned abruptly into an alley perpendicular to the Rue de Rivoli and desperately searched for a hiding place. He found the entrance to a semi-underground space and, hurriedly descending the stairs, opened the door and entered.
It didn't take long for him to realize that he had gotten into the kitchen of a patisserie. This was evident by the benches with waffles and puff pastry but also by the bowls of whipped cream and jams and chocolates. Before the confectioner could even manage to let him know that entering the room was forbidden, Hamhaduke produced the pistol out of his belt and, cocking it, brought the cold barrel on the forehead of the unfortunate shopkeeper.
"Sssssssssssssst ..." said Hamhaduke with his finger on his lips, and the confectioner - along with his wife present - obeyed in dread with faces whiter than their white work uniforms.
Holding the pistol in his right hand, Hamhaduke was forced to use only his left hand to take a waffle off the bench and dash it with apricot jam using a spatula. He had not eaten breakfast and the sweets raised his appetite. He took the waffle and began munching it greedily as he looked out the window at the alley, waiting for the gendarmes to pass. He continued to eat until the gendarmes finally passed outside the kitchen's window and then disappeared from the alley. Having devoured the entire waffle, Hamhaduke put the pistol back in his belt and dashed another waffle with jam for his walk outside. He bid farewell to the dreaded confectioners with an indifferent merci and left.
The waffles with jam failed to appease his anger as he crossed the Jardin des Tuileries boiling in petulance, utterly unmoved by the sunshine of that day that made the Parisians lie down in the shades of the big mulberry trees eating snacks or flirting sun-struck upon the green grass. The children that were playing stray here and there happened constantly upon his route making him curse. He walked up the Seine bank and there he saw the wheeled steamboat Jeanette which offered tourists a travel along the de l ' Ourcq canal showing them the sights of Paris. He got on board and sat in one of the last seats at the back of the boat.
Under the rhythmic drumming of the locomotive, Jeanette slid slowly onto the stagnant waters of the de l ' Ourcq canal, passing through the Parc de la Villette, the Sevran Forest and the Parc de la Poudrerie. The passengers seemed enchanted by the route of the boat under the arches formed by the huge poplars and the stone bridges that popped up every so often, usually accommodating couples in their particularly idyllic moments. Jeanette 's tour guide was laconic and referred to each place in one word without explanations, but this did not bother too much the passenger public which consisted mainly of elderly ladies waving the fans to their faces due to the incidental heat.
Hamhaduke, however - stealthy in the back seat - continued to train himself in handling his knife without the slightest concern about the natural attractions of the tour. What constantly troubled him was the fact that Lord Greywood - despite his polite personality and erudite mannerisms - was a man clearly muscular and flexible. This was testified by his overall body language. It would have been difficult for Hamhaduke to wipe him out that easily in his own favorite way, that is, the neck-wringing. He should first manage a good stab on the chest with the knife. Yeah, something like that! And then he would have a few seconds to grab the Lord's head and turn it abruptly, thus achieving the desired breaking of the nape. Yeah, something like this!
In the midst of the thoughts and plannings that swirled his mind, Hamhaduke looked up and realized that all of Jeanette 's passengers had turned their heads towards him in amazement looking at his jerking movements with his knife. Even the tour guide was speechless staring at him.
"What the hell are you all looking at?!" he shouted, and then all the passengers turned their heads at once forward. They didn't need to speak English to understand what he said.
[to be continued next Friday, 13 March 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