Beasts within is a collection of 12 short stories published individually in various magazines, online and through my own web site. These stories were inspired by a period that I spent on Crete (though the stories are not about Crete) and explore some of the more elemental aspects of life.
In this collection, you'll meet, amongst others, the Gambling Man and wonder why your soul feels as though its been yanked from its moorings and dragged through a hedge backwards (metaphor overload???)...
...and then there's the Marchese, once a friend of the infamous Cesare Borgia and still going strong in the twenty-first Century.
Beasts Within continues Clive's development of tales rooted in the darkly fantastic hearts of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson, introducing new characters and new twists to themes that Clive has written successfully about for many years now.
Excerpt from The Marchese’s Gift:
Love’s young dream made even more perfect by the setting; candle light, sparklers in the ice creams, chilled wine, the warm glow of a Cretan evening laced with hints of Basil, Marjoram and Honeysuckle, and all set off perfectly by the warming sight of fingers entwined across a crumbed tablecloth. They whispered and giggled, whittling away at the last splinters of another wonderful day that would inevitably and gleefully merge into the solid mahogany of another steamy night. She, the young bride, sat back in her chair, slowly trailing her hand away from that of her newly beloved husband, teasing him in her withdrawal from physical contact. She flicked her shoulder length blonde hair, flashed a brilliant white smile at him and asked him to take her home with one flash of her radiant blue eyes.
Shared laughter. He twisted round in his chair, caught the attention of one of the waiters, and made the universal scribble motion that means the bill and fruit. True to form the dish arrived with two forks, watermelon and grapes. The waiter presented the bill in a black plastic wallet and with that delightful hint of gravel in the Greek voice, asked, “I hope everything was good for you tonight?”
The young bride could hardly contain herself, bubbling fit to burst with happiness as she was. “Oh yes, it was lovely. Everything’s lovely. We’re on honeymoon!”
Hands clasped once more on the tablecloth. The young man’s foot shifted under the table, seeking out the bare calf of his now life-long lover. He nodded to the waiter and smiled.
“Yeah, just right, mate. Spot on.”
The waiter hovered over the table. The young couple sat oblivious for a moment, wrapped up in each other’s lustfully loving stare, but even they couldn’t ignore the fidgeting and nervous presence just to their side.
“Scuse. I sorry, but I have some advice”, said the waiter.
He squatted down next to the young man so as not to be overheard. His olive tan and dark lidded eyes made the words sound dark and brooding. “Please, don’t tell people you are honeymooning. Is not such a good idea.”
The young man twitched his head slightly as if to say; you’re mad, but he thought better of it. The young couple exchanged a quick glance before he replied. “Sorry, mate, but I don’t understand. There’s loads of people come here on honeymoon. You know, sun, sea and s-x.”
The young bride giggled and then bubbled into the conversation once more. “We’re so happy. I want to shout it from the rooftops.” She jumped out of her chair, spread her arms wide in glorious welcome and shouted, “We’re on honeymoon!”
The waiter stood bolt upright and put his fingers to his lips, a look of genuine alarm in his eyes now. “Please, not so loud. Enjoy everything, yes, but quietly or else the gentleman will get to hear. He has many friends, many ears in the walls.”
The other diners had all stopped their conversations and were staring at the girl, who suddenly felt very sheepish. She sat down with an apologetic look on her face. One or two glasses were raised towards the young couple as she said, “Sorry, I just feel so full of it”
The young man fished out a fifty Euro note and slid it into the plastic wallet. “Keep the change”, he said quietly and then added, “What gentleman?”
The waiter simply rolled his eyes and said, “Thank you very much. Please I don’t want to worry you. You think I am mad, yes? Just be careful.” With that he gave a weak and thin smile, turned on his heels and walked back towards the bar shaking his head.
The young man stood and held out his hand for his new bride to take. “Weird or what?”