small bite from a big piece

This is an excerpt from a work in progress. It has a beginning, and an ending of sorts, but is otherwise just a taste from a dish still cooking. Awhile back I posted another excerpt, which you can revisit here if you’d like. That one comes immediately before this one, and features the same characters. I’d welcome any feedback you’d care to offer. Many thanks ~ Walt 

Practice

“Higher, Winstrop.”

“Than what, sir?”

“Than it is,” said the Governor. “It is not high enough.”

“I see,” said Winstrop, not yet seeing. He adjusted the tripod upwards. It was a simple construction, three sticks tied with twine at the top, standing as tall as his own waist. The Governor had called for it, and for the delivery of two crates of melons. “It is a question of altitude, then, and how much is sufficient.”

“It is, Winstrop. It is that exactly. Good boy.”

The snow on the ground was melting under the sun, the lawn squishing under his boots. Winstrop noticed the old couple who owned the home peeking down from the upstairs window. Likely feeling not at all at home, he thought.

“I’m ready for one, Winstrop. One melon. Let’s have it.”

‘We’ve nothing to prepare it on, sir.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve not arranged for a table, sir.”

The Governor blinked, stared.

Winstrop returned blink and stare. “Nor was cutlery among your requests.”

“Not to eat, you simpleton. To place atop the construction!”

Winstrop eyed the tripod with suspicion, as if to say, a melon?

The Governor glared, said with exasperation, as if all should be perfectly clear, “Yes!”

With the considered poise of a distinguished servant, Winstrop took up one melon. He brushed its surface with his fingertips to knock the dirt off. He placed it gently atop the tripod. He took a step back, tugged at the bottom of his vest, adjusted his shirt cuffs, and stood ready to accept the Governor’s estimation of his success.

When this estimation was not immediately forthcoming, he cleared his throat and made a gesture of presentation. “The melon,” he intoned.

The Governor eyed intently the melon’s perch atop the tripod.

Winstrop watched the Governor wobble a bit on his spindly legs, which always seemed about to collapse beneath his fat torso. “Has the question of altitude been resolved to your satis—“

“Winstrop, shut up!” cried the Governor, squeezing his fat fists into meaty balls. “Can you not see that I am in consideration of its aspect?”

“Of course, sir. I await your verdict.”

The Governor drew his sword, and his enormous torso began to lean forward, forcing the tiny legs underneath to reposition under center, closer to the melon. The blade gleamed in the sunlight as it lightly kissed the fruit, then dipped as the Governor adjusted his grip. Melon-like hands at the end of short, fat arms guided the sword slowly in a wobbly arc out and away from the actual melon, then back towards it. This motion was repeated several times, each time the blade cutting a tiny nick in the rind. Then, with a great exhalation of stinking breath, the Governor swung a mighty swing.

He missed the melon entirely, stumbling sideways many more steps than would be needed by a more dexterous creature, and collapsed in the wet snow like a felled hog.

Winstrop stood by stoically. “Is it appropriately heighted, sir?”

The Governor’s face reddened with rage as he flopped about in the white snow.

“Winstrop, assist me!

When he was upright again, the governor’s practice resumed, and over the course of an hour he proved reasonably able to slice through the melon more often than not.

*

The next morning, Drogan and his men assembled in the road. The two boys who had been found to be of the right height were lined up in front of them. Wicker baskets were placed at the boys’ feet, and the Governor hacked off their heads at the neck.

Blade dripping at his side, the Governor turned to Drogan and his men, thrust his chin out, and whispered to himself: Now they see what I am capable of.

 

 

18 thoughts on “small bite from a big piece

    • Thanks, Alastair! Hadn’t heard of Flann O’Brien, don’t think he’s very well known over here. What I read online sounds intriguing, will have to check out At Swim-Two-Birds.

      Like

  1. Deliciously dark like my favorite chocolate, mister! And nice harken back to January of ’16, to Winstrop and the governor. Fun to look back, and see you looking forward. Plod on, through the wet snow, ye’ hog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember Winstrop! Loved the tone you set back then and the same tone you keep now. Enjoyed the build up – the way we watch the Governor, how ridiculous you make him, how superior in intelligence and aptitude his servant is compared to himself (in the grand tradition of Wodehouseas Michelle says). Love the light, comic tone coming from the characters and the situation.
    And then darkness hits. The reason for the tripod, the melon, the sword practice all becomes chillingly clear and the Governor is no longer ridiculous but a horrifying little man with the power of life and death over his subjects. The horror is all the more horrifying for the comic build up.
    My son said ‘Cool’ when he read it and the opinion of a thirteen year old boy is not to be sniffed at.
    Reminds me a little of Joe Abercrombie (Brit fantasy author) who’s adept at the light comedy grotesque characters before hitting you with a gory fight scene.
    Be intrigued to know more about the plot of your WIP, how far in you are. Sterling work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lynn. The ‘cool’ is indeed high praise from such a discerning demographic! It’s coming up on about 10,000 words or so, so a long way to go, and those two characters were not even part of the original plan, they just kind of showed up. Getting sidetracked, I guess is what I’m saying, but that’s okay. Funny how you start out with one intention and something else elbows its way in. Anyhoo, thank you for sharing your thoughts! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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