Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Jack Scallywag

Well, cool! Allowing for one pledge what ain't quite come through yet, but which is from someone as I know will be chucking the money in shortly, it appears as how "Scruffians Stamp" has made the pro-rates mark of $150. Which means to things: 1) at least some folks will (can afford to) still throw some cash into the hat. (And those who maybe can't afford to contribute (and trust me, I know times is tight all round,) if you enjoy the story, you can always do yer bit by giving it a nod on yer blog, LiveJournal, Twitter or whatnot.) and 2) it's time to, as agreed, make another story available for all who donate from here on in.

Now, this one's chunkier, at about 6400 words. Actually if you exclude the titles, it's exactly 6400 words, same as "Scruffians Stamp" is exactly 3000 words. Cause those little sections are all 100 words exactly. No, don't ask me why I does it that way; buggered if I know, I just find that mad constraint somehow working for me. It's the same with "The Disappearance of James H__" and "The Toymaker's Grief". No, really, I don't know why. Some weird formalist impulse? Some poncy Oulipo malarkey? It just works for me, OK?

Anyways, at 5 cents per word that length works out at $320, which is a substantial chunk of money, right? So, I reckon for the moment, I'll stick with the approach adopted with "Scruffians Stamp," setting the initial target at two-thirds pro-rates. In other words, if donations reach $207, this story goes up on a fileshare site, for all to download. In the meantime, all those who donate will get a pdf sent through to them toot sweet. I've got to admit, I'm not at all sure the higher target will be reached, given the fact that I'm not expecting contributors of larger sums for "Scruffians Stamp" to repeat those sort of donations. But part of what I'm curious here is to see the limits of this sort of approach. So sod it; let's give it a shot, eh, and see what does happen?

So what's this story? Why, this is only the tale of "Jack Scallywag", the finest Scruffian what ever lived. EVER! But rather than blathering about it, as before, here's the opening as a wee taster:




Jack Scallywag

Hal Duncan



Ace Jack, King Jack, Queen Jack, Fool.

Poor widow's son got beans for a bull.

How many beans did the Scruffian get?

One, two, three, four, you are het!



In Which Our Hero is Interduced

Once upon a time, there were a poor widow's son what lived out in the forest with his mum. He didn't have nothing to his name -- couldn't have nothing to his name on account of he didn't have a name. See, his mum were so awful sad at her husband's death, all's she ever called him from the day he was born was Poor Dear. You want fed again, she'd say, Poor Dear? How'd you get the busted lip today, she'd say, Poor Dear. The other boys calls you a bastard, do they, she'd say, Poor Dear? Yer don't say?

Mostly though, what the other boys called him -- what everyone in the village called him -- was Parish Fool. Cause his mum didn't have no money to dress him in aught but a suit of rags, stitched up from scraps of handmedowns and castoffs what had been worn to nothing and chucked away. A right motley it was, in every sodding shade under the sun. Every shade what's been faded and filthed to a shade of dirt and dust, that is. So they calls him the Parish Fool for it, shouts, Where's yer bells? and, Tell us a joke! Fucking cunts.

But we don't call him Poor Dear or Parish Fool, us Scruffians. Don't call him none of those names the groanhuffs use in their stories about him neither. Cause what do groanhuffs know? All's they've done is heard our tales and passed em along in a game of Chinese Whispers, getting em all mixed up, like. Peer-a-Door and Pierce-a-Veil, they calls him! Dozy twats. Still, we gots to call him summat. Hero needs a name, don't he? So we Scruffians calls him Jack, cause that were a word for any Scruffian-to-be in those days.

Anyways, one day, Jack's out poaching rabbits in the wild woods when these knights ride up, all grand on their gallopers, armour gleaming in the sunlight. Jack, he ain't been schooled, so he don't rightly know what an angel is, but he's seen pictures and carvings in the church, right? Fine looking fellers with breastplates and helmets, swords and shields, you know? So Jack, he falls to his knees, thinking it's Judgement Day itself, praying for mercy. Course, the knights all have a right good laugh at that. No, says they, we're knights, lad, noble-born but mortal as you.



In Which Our Hero Aspires to Greatness

Huh? You hush yourself, scrag. Yeah, course I'm leaving bits out. These is fresh Fixed scamps, and they ain't in need of hearing things what they won't understand. So let's not confuse em with details about where the knights was headed and how's they'd decided to have some fun on the way. Besides, it messes up the story if you starts bringing in crusades and pogroms and Jack's mum getting -- whassat? A pogrom? Well... it's sort of... a monster they had in them days. Yeah, a bit like a dragon. See? Just lemme tell it simple, like, eh? Right then...

Jack, he ogles these mortals. If knights look so grand, says he, by buggery, he'll be a knight himself. The nobs near split their sides, them being nobs and all. Parish Fool, says they, there's squires and serfs, and you're no squire. Bollocks to you, says Jack. Off into town he skips. I'm gonna be a knight, says he. Parish Fool, says everyone, there's knights and knaves, and you're no knight. Fuck you, says Jack. Off to his mum he skips. I'm gonna be a knight, says he. Poor dear, says she, there's paladins and peasants, and -- Whatever, says Jack.

No, Jack won't have nobody tell him what he can't ever be, even if he weren't born with a silver spoon in one end and an Harley Street hooter up the other. He ain't secretly a prince, ain't got no sword what was his father's. And he ain't gonna make much of a knight without a sword and such. But Jack ain't bovvered. Come morning he sneaks out, whiles his mum's snoring off last night's gin, with a pot for an helmet, a stick for sword, and his trusty old slingshot. Bollocks to them all, he thinks. I'll show em.

Now, being a Scruffian at heart, even if he ain't Fixed yet, Jack ain't the most responsible type, so thieving a horse does strike him as an obvious option. But being a Scruffian at heart, he ain't the most reputable type neither, so it also strikes him as all the groanhuffs in the town would likely finger him straight off. And he's been near enough hanged for an apple, never mind an horse. So, no, he reckons, he'll have to get it legit, like. But it ain't like his dear drunk mum'll miss the old bull in the meadow, eh?




************

And so it goes. So, yeah, chuck whatever you feel comfortable with my way, and I'll chuck yer a copy of the pdf with the full tale of Jack Scallywag. And we shall see how it pans out this time.

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