Excerpt: First few pages

April 15, 2008

Manchester, England

Sebastian Martinelli


This how Sebastian liked to remember the night:

The woman on stage, she had a mezzo-alto voice, fake brunette locks of hair that fell down her back intricately intertwined, and a sparkling blue dress. The style reminiscent of romantic times with a modern flourish.

The woman in the crowd had considerably grayer hair, her face collapsing with ferocity and regret, her dress elegant but stretched over her blocked frame, and her eyes radiant like some ethereal being.

At once, this older woman was savage and gracious, the high Queen of the Uncivilized.

The woman on stage, she was a product: you could tell by how much make-up layered her face, by the expensive, glittering jewelry albatross. This mezzo-alto singer, this young girl playing Juliet in an opera rendition of Shakespeare’s work, all you saw when you looked at her was what she wore and the disguise she draped herself with.

The older woman, Sebastian could tell even from across the concert hall, breathed more than air. This flesh-and-blood sack of misery and joy, of blood and intestines, of crooked teeth and cellulite, was more than what she wore.

It was women like her he enjoyed, women like her who suited his taste. The one on stage—to kill her would be like throwing away a tube of frosted lipstick. But the woman in the crowd, with a shawl pulled around her head—she was a human, her blood oxidized with vitality, her heart beating out of resilience rather than habit.

It’s something that developed over time, the palette of tastes for the sour, the sweet, the tangy, the deliciously human suffering. The urge, he called it. Something uncontrollable, something more powerful from him, a natural force that drove him to destruction and grotesque acts like gravity pulling him closer to the ground, closer to the earth where his grave would soon be.

The play ended. In Sebastian’s opinion, the end was the best part, because both of the lovers died. Mercutio hopped across the stage with a fake sword sticking out of his chest, corn-syrup blood dripping onto the stage, to take a bow with the Montagues. Standing, Sebastian followed the woman as she shuffled out the door.

The way she walked, she floated like a specter sweeping through mobs of theatre-goers.  People in the audience— they laugh politely at the gaffs but laugh the hardest when you lynch your lines, when you forget a word, when your wig tumbles off, powder clouding the air. Laughing at something that’s supposed to be funny, that only makes you a conformist. It’s the fuck-ups that really make people cackle.

The night was cold from rain, the streets slick and running with streams of dirty water. The woman from the opera, she withered in the enormity of the city, the skyscrapers pressing her down, squashing her in comparison. Sebastian retained a distance of a hundred feet, running his hands self-consciously across his face, finding scars he never knew he had. Scars like memories, except they never went away.

She stopped in front of her hotel to check her purse. Slipping through the electronic doors after her into a sumptuously decorated lobby, he watched her feet, clad in felt boots. A semi-circle of lights above the elevator indicated that she was ascending to the first floor above.

Sebastian stomped up the steps, an excitement rising in his chest like vile phlegm, a warm ugliness which occurred when the rotten parts of his hearts bio-degraded— he could cough them up later.

When he reached the first floor, he could feel her presence— pressing his hand against every door until he reached the one he was sure she was behind. As if he had commanded her to go there himself, she had entered the hotel room.

The room: 101.

The hotel doors had outdated, mechanical locks. Bending over, Sebastian slipped a credit card through the crack in the frame, and the door swung ajar. He could hear water running inside the bathroom, and could see the woman standing just outside the bathroom door brushing her teeth vigorously. When the door swung open into the hallway, she didn’t notice but instead stared into the mirror in a trance-like state. Sebastian lunged.

The room was a standard two-bed deluxe with an out-dated television and beds made up perfectly. The room appeared as if no one had lived there: a perfect, perfumed, uniform world of order and dusted blinds. Beneath the comforters were semen-stained sheets and under the bed were a few Vicodin pills— scattered after a pill bottle was once dropped by a limp hand. But all the filth, all the evidence of suffering was covered up, cleaned up, spot-checked, and sterilized.

He slit her throat with an antique razor. It was not a grandiose defiance, not a glamorous flourish of anarchy, not a middle finger toward anyone—just a slit. A quick fix; the jab of a heroin needle before church; secretive masturbation in an airplane toilet. He needed this, that was all.

The blood, it spurted, it sprayed, and it squirted like the fountain of youth flowing backwards, carrying the drinker closer and closer to death. His face pressing closer to hers, total shock.

As her eyes rolled back, her arms grew heavy and her throat leaked blood.

She should have screeched. She should have cried for the end of everything, the end of suffering, the end of innocence, the end of her life. But she could only manage a pathetic gasp before collapsing, her neck twisting absurdly backward when her face hit the floor so that she stared perpetually toward the bathroom ceiling.

The blood pooled and congealed around Sebastian’s shoes, made them sticky and tainted. He backed away as the blood flowed, stretching out toward him like a hand extending from a pit of fire. But he didn’t take the hand to save her, shaking his head, saying with denial, “No,” over and over. The word echoed through the hotel room like a taunt. The faucet had been turned off, but still the dripping of water chimed, consistent and striking like the mechanical click of a watch hand.

The blood soaked into the carpet in gory splotches. Like a Rorschach Test. Sebastian could not make sense of the shapes—they piled upon each other like corpses, they tumbled like messily written musical notes.

His mouth agape, he spoke to her, spoke to her glazed eyes, spoke to her gashed throat, spoke to her smoldering life. “Fleur,” he gasped. “Fleur.”

{Thoughts much appreciated, of course. This marks the beginning of my novel. Ready to jump in?


3 thoughts on “Excerpt: First few pages

  1. So goooddddd. in the few minutes i was reading this, i didn’t even hear my sister yelling for me to walk my dog. Fantastic. I love how you make references to human nature and its fallacies. Like not wanting to be a conformist so they laugh at the mistakes of others. Brilliant.

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