The Other Man...The following is an excerpt that was cut from Book Two of The Linus Saga. It entails a flashback detailing the drunken antics of a young Linus Weedwhacker.
PREMISE: Linus and his 3 friends [The Biggses (Wendel and Tchine), and Jay (a schizophrenic)] were investigating a haunted mansion when 2 things happened. 1) they witnessed a ghostly wedding ceremony and 2) the floor gave way.
IN THIS SCENE: Linus is trying to BAG the mysterious Amazon, Tchine who turns out to be more than he can handle.
It took Linus a few minutes to re-orient himself to his surroundings. First of all, he figured out that he was on his back. He could see the gaping hole above him straight through to the chimney port at the top of the great hall. It had stopped raining, except for a light drizzle, and the clouds were fading to a curdled black. The light was nearly gone, and Linus could only just make out the forms of Wendel and Jay peering over the edge of the hole. The second thing he noticed was that his ankle hurt like hell. Next to him, Linus felt the touch of soft skin, and his dim vision saw Tchinellaine's silhouette kneeling at his side.
"He's coming to!" cried Tchine to the figures above.
"Is he alright?" cried Wendel's worried voice.
"He'll be fine, but his ankle looks pretty bad."
"Linus are you alright?"
Linus had to consider this for a moment.
"'Tie this end off to something!!'" he bellowed. "Was that hard? Am I speaking in Dwarvish here? Who the hell was in charge of tying off the bloody rope?"
"That would be me. Sorry, mate," came Jay's glum voice.
"You let the loony tie the lifeline?" Linus accused Wendel incredulously.
"Yeah, sorry. Didn't think," came the remorseful reply.
"When I get out of this hole I'm gonna give you a think or two, my son," Linus grumbled. "Well this is fucking grand, isn't it? What now? This hole's too deep to climb out!"
"Well, we could try to find a passage down there, and come and get you. Dearest, do you see any door down there?" asked Wendel, obviously addressing his wife.
"It's too dark, I can't see," Tchine answered him.
"Here! Catch!" cried Wendel.
There was a metallic 'clunk' and shortly Tchine recovered and lit the oil lamp that had been tossed down.
"We seem to be on some sort of stone table," Tchine relayed to her husband. Linus sat up and looked around him. In the limited light, he saw that they were indeed on a large flat table carved in black granite, about ten foot square. All around the edges were runes roughly hewn into the dark stone. Scattered across the room were various pottery, bowls and jars, all smashed by their sudden entrance and coated in the thick ash slurry from the firepit. Linus and Tchine were also covered in the dark black mud that stuck fast to them like paint.
"Do you see any way out?" cried Wendel.
"Yes, there's a large double door made of carved oak," Linus said, staring up at the massive petrified doors, also carved in mysterious runes and patterns.
"I don't think this is a table," said Linus hoarsely. "I think this is an altar."
"A good altar or a bad altar?" called Wendel, his voice sounding nervous.
"I haven't had much experience with the arcane, but I'd have to go with bad," said Linus. His eyes rested on a carved image on the door of a man devoured by a large beast. Linus was hazy on anatomy but he was pretty sure limbs weren't supposed to bend that way.
"Yeah, I'd say bad," he said, suddenly feeling sick.
"Alright, stay there!" cried Wendel. "We'll come and find you!"
"No fear!" cried Linus, and jumped down from the table. He gave a comical "Aahahahah," before sitting hard on the ground, clutching his right foot.
"You're not going anywhere on that ankle, Linus, now stay put and listen to Tchine."
"And wait for you to come get me??" demanded Linus.
"I'm a Halfing. I know my way underground. It's instinct," came Wendel's confidant voice.
"You were raised in the city, you twit! You get claustrophobic in the lavy!" screamed Linus, but his indignation fell on deaf ears and it became plain that Wendel and Jay were already off to save the day.
"At least they could have thrown down me whisky," Linus muttered. They had been down in the chamber for over an hour now. Linus was once again, sitting on the stone table, his foot propped up by the coil of rope that had fallen down with them. Tchinellaine stood across the room with her back to him, keeping her distance.
"You're awfully quiet," Linus observed.
Tchinellaine said nothing, The ashes on her arms and legs were starting to dry and flake off, and she brushed at them irritably. To Linus's private glee there was hardly anything left of her tunic, now ripped and dirty and falling apart at the seams.
"I keep thinking about that ghost wedding ceremony we saw–about that girl."
"What the phantom murderess?" Linus said. He was leaning back on the table, his head resting on his folded arms. The sky was dark and brooding, but the storm seemed to have finally died down.
"So?" Tchine shot back at him. "Was it so wrong?"
Linus was tired and sore and didn't feel like having this conversation.
"Probably, yeah," he answered. "Murder is murder."
"She sacrificed everything for her husband!" cried Tchine, still refusing to look at him.
Here we go, thought Linus.
"You saw those weeds they put on her! Garlands of broom and grass and violets!" Tchine continued, "symbols of servitude and humiliation!"
"It's just a custom. It doesn't mean anything, really," said Linus, evasively.
"Argh! I can't stand it anymore!" cried Tchine, kicking up the dirt.
"What?" asked Linus, warily.
"This! This whole marriage thing! It's so stifling! I feel like I can't breathe!" she exclaimed, holding her chest like it burned.
"Oh, we're talking about your marriage now," said Linus in realization, shifting to his side.
"You don't understand," she mumbled.
"Of course I understand. Why do you think I never did it?" asked Linus as he lounged lazily on the stone altar. "Marriage is designed to give one person dominance over the other. It's a choke-hold so people can have their desired amount of control or property or what-have-you. The half-wit halfling wonder Wendel never had control of anything in his life. Now look at him; he's got you on the leash." Linus smiled at Tchine but it was pitiless and mocking.
"I never expected it to be like this!" Tchine moaned, casting a furtive glance at Linus.
"Well what did you expect, Tchine? A house with a white-picket fence? Two little Wendel Juniors tottering in the backyard while you serve martinis at five?"
"Of course not, don't be stupid!" Tchine snarled. "I didn't expect this though. I didn't expect him to hang on me for every second of the day."
"I can see how that would get tiresome," mused Linus.
"Tiresome? It's bloody irritating! He clings to me like a child, tripping me up when I walk, hanging on my every word! He holds every door, pulls out every chair, fulfills my every need! He'd probably carry me so I wouldn't have to walk, if he wasn't so damn short!"
"He loves you," said Linus, knowing that as he said it, he wasn't doing Wendel a kindness.
"I don't want that!" cried Tchine, twisting her fingers in her long hair. She finally faced him.
"Then what do you want?" asked Linus, sitting up. "Why did you do it?"
"You know...the same reason every girl does it. So I wouldn't be lonely–you can laugh Mr. Weedwhacker–but there's some comfort knowing that there will be someone to share a bed with; a meal with; a house with at the end of the day. Something you wouldn't understand, I'm sure," she said, her coal black eyes staring into Linus's green ones.
"Try me," said Linus leaning forward.
He briefly caught a flicker of desire in her expression, but she turned her face away from his before he could seize his chance. Nonetheless, she drew nearer to him, sliding along the edge of the altar.
"It's not worth it though," she said bitterly, staring at the floor. "He wasn't supposed to fall in love with me. He was supposed to nod and smile and let me have my freedom."
"Hah! I wished you had talked to me first. I'd have set you straight," laughed Linus. "Wendel's the only one I know who could kill a horse by caring for it too much. That poor thing was fussed to death."
"And he'll do the same to me," sighed Tchine.
"Not necessarily," said Linus. He stretched out his arm so that his fingers rested lightly on her bare shoulder. She trembled at his touch and drew closer to him.
"Why, not necessarily?" she asked. She stared resolutely at the floor as Linus stroked her dark hair.
"The horse was kept in a paddock every day. You've got your own two legs. You're free."
"Huh, free," said Tchine with a hollow laugh. "I just wish. I wanted someone who I could count on, who would just let me be free."
"An untamed spirit, who would occasionally grace him with her presence?" said Linus, drawing her further into the folds of his arms. This time, she resisted.
"That was unkind," she said glaring at him.
"It wasn't meant to be," said Linus softly, and she let him rest his chin on her shoulder.
"You are a golden goddess, like the sun made mortal." he whispered in her ear. "How could a man like Wendel hope to trap you in the muddy pen of matrimony. He can’t see the real you."
"Why can't he?" Tchine asked softly. A deep sadness was in her voice and she buried herself deeper in Linus's arms.
"I can," said Linus.
She reached for his face and gave him a slow passionate kiss. He closed his eyes and felt her soft hands stroking his cheek, and run their fingers through his hair. He pulled her onto the table, where she grabbed his hand and placed it around her waist. Slowly she rubbed her leg up his inner thigh as Linus sighed and kissed her shoulders. With a catlike leap she was in his lap, knocking him backwards onto the table. He stared up her at in surprise as he lay flat on his back and she gave him an encouraging smile. That was all the consent he needed…
The second time was easier.
By the end of the third time, they had both managed to convince themselves that Wendel would never find out.