Categories > Original > Drama1 Reviews
In the eighteen-hundreds, a self-centered playwright named Jack finds that his wife is pregnant. But not before he finds a young woman that sparks his interest. Along the way he meets a young man w...
Let me tell you this: I am not a good person. I am a very bad person, in fact. Ask anyone who knows me, and there are many, they will tell you. They will warn you to stay away from me because of my reputation. They will weave for you tales of me never loving and always leaving; of me writing what should never be written, thinking what should never be thought. They will come up with million-and-one reasons for you to stay away from me, and whilst all of this is occurring, you'll only begin to want me more.
I am not a good person. I have no morals. I know nothing of ethics. I commit crimes almost without thought, and no one can touch me,
So tell me, my dear audience, do you think you'd like me? Do you?
Because I don't want you to like me.
I sit here at this table, at this stupid dinner party, listening to all of your friends ramble on. As I look around the room, it's amazing how many of them I've slept with; Olivia, Elizabeth, Janice-all your friends, and here they sit with you, lying with their eyes and mouths. They don't want to discuss books or plays. No, they want to be alone with me in a bedroom, to be my willing play-things; to let me do to them what I will.
As you talk, they take turns, sending me individual glances, each hoping that I'll choose them for tonight. I return their glances, but I'm choosing neither of them. My eye has been caught by a young, new member if your ring of friends.
Her name is Jazzebelle-certainly a vibrant name. I've already picked her nickname: Jazz. She's small. Not because of her age, but her structure is tiny. But just as her size is small, her essence proves to all that she is anything and everything but frail.
"What do you think of the book, Jack?" I glance up to see Elizabeth smiling at me, waiting for a response. I know she really doesn't want to know my opinion on the book she's holding; she simply wants to hear my voice. It sends trembles of pleasure down her spine, no matter what I'm saying.
"It's rubbish," I say. I do not read. I write. Writers and readers are born of a different breed. Our coloring is similar, but never the same. One of us is more vicious than the other.
"Jack, please," you whisper, clearly embarrassed by my harsh comment. I simply roll my eyes and take another sip of my wine.
"It's okay, Tabatha. It's simply his opinion," Elizabeth says, sending me another look.
"Yes, Tabatha, he's entitled." How I hate your name, I think as Janice chimes in. Tabatha...how very droll. It makes you sound like an old woman, despite your young age. What were your parents thinking when they named you? Ha. Your parents. I can't wait until they die.
"I liked it." All heads turn, including mine, to face the newcomer, Jazz. Her voice is quiet, but I can tell that every word screams rebellion. She's staring at me, challenging me to stay something. I grin. When the prey presents a challenge, the kill is certainly relished more.
"Did you?" I ask simply, holding the wine glass delicately between my fingers. She nods.
"Yes. It was very romantic."
"Ah," I say slowly, "romance." I keep my gaze on her hard, and cold. "Romance will get you nowhere." I hear a low growl in unison from Tabatha's friends. "What part will romance make in your life, but turmoil? We can breed without romance, so why use it? What is its point?" Tabatha sends me a dirty look, but I ignore it, keeping my eyes steadily on Jazz. She holds my stare for a long time-longer than I thought she would-then looks down at the table.
"Ladies, look at the time!" Janice cuts in. "It's almost dinner. Come on, then, we must be off!" I don't move from my seat as they all file out, Tabatha herding them along like the useless sheep they are. To my surprise, Jazz doesn't send me a look of hatred on the way out. In fact, she doesn't look at me at all.
As I'm taking another drink from my glass, Tabatha storms in. "You are such a tosser!" she yells. I smirk. It's so rare that I get to hear her use the Old English term for 'jerk'.
"Am I?" Nonchalance is an art, really.
"Yes!" She's seething as she paces the dining room. "The poor girl is new and already you must start with her! As if she wasn't nervous enough to begin with!" I stand.
"She knew the odds when she decided to join your ridiculous book club," I say. She glares at me.
"Why did I marry you?" I smile at her.
"I'm not sure...but I married you for your parent's money." Her eyes grow large as I walk past her, not believing what's just come from me. "Goodnight, Tabbie."
I see no point in trying to save my marriage...or what's left of it. That's probably why I'm at my desk instead of pleasuring my wife. I have to smirk at the thought of bringing her any sort of pleasure. Marrying a writer as never kept her satisfied. Starting from day one after our honeymoon, I wasn't good enough. That is, until my novels started selling and my plays came into the theater. When every woman in London wanted me, I suddenly became good enough.
"Jack?" a low murmur comes from the doorway of my study.
"What, Tabatha?" I don't face her as I speak, instead deciding to return to my writing.
"Aren't...aren't you coming to bed?" I toss a chuckle at her.
"Interesting how I'm terrible until the moment you get an itch you can't scratch."
"I...I didn't mean that." She's fumbling over her words. "I thought we could talk." I grin.
"Why talk to you when the paper in front of me will listen and not argue?"
"That paper isn't your wife." I can hear her anger rising, and the small high I get from is it amazing.
"Pity," I say and then am silent. She says nothing more and I'm relieved of her presence when she exits the room. My study is my study. And I like things the way they are when they're mine.
I'm at a party. Not some stupid dinner party, I assure you. This is my kind of party, with the drunken men and women scattered about, drinking and whoring. Tabatha is at home, telling her friends how horrible I am. I'm sure. Little does she know that they've all hade me in ways she can't even fathom.
My thoughts are broken by my name being called. It's Sam, throwing a drunken fit. His dark wig is on cooked and his stockings are down around his ankles. "Oye, Jack!" he yells, his mug narrowly missing my face as he stumbles about.
"T-off, mate, "I snarl. I do not enjoy anyone's drunkenness but my own. Sam simply laughs and slaps me on the shoulder.
"You see the new girl in town, Jack? Eh? She's a fine cow, that one!"
I narrow my eyes at him. "Are you speaking of Jazzabelle?" He nods.
"Aye! Wouldn't mind teaching her somthin' myself soon." He winks. "What about you?"
"Don't you have a wife?" I snap. No one's unfaithfulness is as fun to talk about as mine. Especially considering that I've slept with Sam's own wife.
"Aye, but she ain't no fresh meat no more, Jim!" I wince. That nickname never has been well with me. "She ain't no blossoming flower no more." Hmm. She seemed to blossom just fine for me. "You got to have a back-up plan, mate."
"You'll never get a woman to, in any way, back up for you, you scoundrel." Sam laughs, passing off the insult to his manhood in his drunken incoherent stage.
"Who knows, mate? Perhaps you'll get to her before myself, eh? I know you'll share, though, aye?" He struts off, much to the enjoyment of the wenches. I swing my booted feet up to the table and watch him go. The only thing I'm willing to share with you, Sam, is the tip of the blade in my pocket.
"Can I help you, sir? Drink?" I turn my eyes lazily to face the voice and almost fall off my chair. The average, horror of a wench has been replaced by the one woman I want and have yet to have: Jazz.
"'Ello, love." I prompt, regaining my composure. Her eyes dart around the room and back to me.
"Drink?" she asks again, uncertain of what she's supposed to do in this situation. She's tired. It wouldn't take a genius to know it. The dull glaze in her young eyes couldn't fool a blind man.
"No." She nods and turns, but I lightly catch the strings of the corset the pub owner is making her wear. She pauses and turns back to me.
"Yes, Mr. Hoskins?"
"Sit." She stares at me, wary of my company. I nod to the empty seat next to me. "Sit," I repeat.
She complies slowly, eying me the whole time. "What is it you want?" I smile.
"Just rest. Being a wench ain't easy." A small smile escapes her lips. I nod back to her, acknowledging her appreciation, and then let my gaze drift form her. Again, nonchalance is really an art. No later than the moment I look away, a gruff voice barks her name.
"Jazzie, get back up, girl!" It's a busy night, you worthless sack of meat!" I swivel my back around to see the lead wench reaching down to grab her.
"Oye!" I stand. "I invited her to a seat, and it's a bloody seat she'll have, ye hear!? Sod off!" The wench looks blankly at me for a moment.
"Aye, alright then. Are you planning on paying her more, then?" I glare at her. I cannot tell her who I am and expect her to cut Jazz some slack. Well, I could, but writers don't matter here. Only money.
"I'll pay her more tonight than you'll get in your entire, worthless life." She turns up her nose at me and saunters off. I bite my thumb at her quickly and Jazz giggles. That sound! Oh, that sound! Like the tinkling of chimes in a midsummer's night's breeze. It sends trembles down my spine, raising the hair on the most sensitive parts of my body.
"She'll fire me, sure enough," she says, still laughing. I can't help but grin.
"She won't dare." I stand, and bow slightly to her. "I must go." I toss a few shillings on the table.
"Yes, Tabatha will be missing you." I wince at the thought of my wife. I grunt in response.
"Tell me how romance works for you, love," I say and turn away.
"Jack, where have you been?! I've been worried sick about you!" Tabatha rambles as she tries to usher me into the house. I sigh. The walk from the pub to my house is a long one and I'm tired.
"I was at the pub, Tabbs," I say quietly.
"With who?" I pinch the bridge of my nose as I shrug off my overcoat.
"Sam," I say and trudge up the stairs. I hear her following me. "No one else."
"You are a liar." I pause, my foot barely upon the stairs. I turn to her slowly.
"You weren't just with Sam. I know Jazzebelle works at that Godforsaken place. Are you having an affair with her?" I narrow my eyes at her.
"Tabbs, she's newer to this town than a baby coming from the bloody womb! I don't even know her!" Tabatha knows nothing of my affairs. I've made sure of it. But like any other housewife, she suspects every-now-and-then.
Her eyes lower at my response to the accusation. "I'm sorry; it's just that you're never home. I wonder sometimes is all."
I turn back up the stairs with nothing to say.
Tabatha is getting bigger. She's eating more. It's been months since we've had sex. It all makes sense-she's pregnant.
Sitting here in my study, listening to the rain on the roof, I can hear her pad into the room. "Jack?" I put my quill into the ink bottle and sigh. I have a feeling there will be no room to write tonight. I turn to face her without saying anything. She knows she's got my attention. "We need to talk," she says boldly.
I eye her structure. There's a gentle curve in her gown around her middle. I do so want this conversation to end quickly. "I know." She looks surprised, and wraps her arms around herself protectively. "How far along are you?" I ask, getting straight to the point. She juts her chin out defiantly.
"Three months," she says, narrowing her eyes, daring me to say something.
"Is that all, then?" I ask, turning and plucking my quill from its resting spot. She opens her mouth to say an angry something or other, then decides against it.
"Of course, Jack." She says nothing more and turns away.
"I hear the missus is gettin' bigger, mate!" I rest my forehead on the grimy table at hearing Sam's voice. Honestly, all I want to do is to brink my bloody ale in peace. That's all I'm asking for, really. "Think o' it, Jack! If she bears a lad, the Hoskins legacy can continue! Exciting, eh?" I hear him pull out the other chair and sit. I lift my head off the table and down what's left of my drink without looking at him. Eye contact will only give him reason to stay longer.
"Well, my lords, look! If it ain't the glorified, father-to-be!" I dart my eyes to the door of the pub to see Charles, Johnny, and a new lad enter. They make their way to and Charles slaps me on the back. "'Ello, you old cod!" Charles is a hefty man that sweats scotch from every pore. His wig is of ridiculous size and almost always on lopsided.
"Tell me, Charles, who is the new lad?" I ask, ignoring his comments. The young man in question looks down at the floor at his mention.
"Who, William? He's Louis' boy! Full grown now, he is!" I let my gaze drift to the boy.
"Louis, the actor? S'that your father, lad?" William's eyes snap to me at the mention of his father.
"Yes, my lord. You and he worked together."
"Aye," I say. "Louis was a young man when I came to London. He was an aspiring actor who couldn't remember a line worth bull's pizzle." All but William chuckle at this. "I taught him how to act."
Charles juts in and takes over the conversation, like he often does, giving me space to think on Louis. Indeed, I had taught him to act when he was eighteen and I twenty-one. I know full that William believes his father died of a bad stage accident. Everyone believes that, some ten years later. Only I know that Louis had been dying of Syphilis at the time. He had begged me to take pain from him. So, one night during rehearsal, I pulled the trigger of what was thought to be a prop gun. A real shell hit him in the spine and he died. Another man had been convicted and hanged for replacing the prop and I had watched the innocent man twitch and jerk, hanging from the noose. I watched his wife and kids crying near the gallows and I never felt a twinge of guilt. Not once.
"So, Jack, any thoughts on the little one coming along?" Johnny breaks my thoughts. I look at him. Johnny is a slender man of twenty-eight. He wears no wig, like me, and his stringy hair falls to his shoulders.
"I haven't thought on it, really." I stand. "I don't have much taste for children." I look directly at William as I say this, and his eyes drop to the floor. He's nothing like his father. Louis wouldn't be talked to like that by anyone, no matter who they were.
I enter the bedroom to see Tabby on the bed. She turns her head in my direction, but doesn't take her eyes off the book she's reading. "I had the doctor come by today," she says absently. I nod, pulling my long brown hair back in a scrap of ribbon. "He said the baby will start to kick in about a month."
"I'm going to the study," I say. "Don't wait up for me." She grunts, still not taking her eyes off the book.
I slip out of the room, tweaking the poem that's in my head.
There's a knock on the door. My eyes snap open and I lift my chin off the desk. A number of hours sleeping in this chair have left my back and neck stiff. The knocking comes again, harder and more insistent.
I stand and pad out of the study. I'm in no great rush. I glance up the stairs to make sure Tabby isn't trying to get to the door. She's clumsy enough on the steps. I'd hate to see her try and rush them with her extra weight.
I groggily open the door to find William leaning against the frame, his hair matted to his face from the morning thunderstorm. His gray eyes match the sky as he looks up at me. His eyebrows are fair, like his father's . Even before he utters a word, I can see that his face is going to be extremely expressive. His silence speaks to me louder than if he were yelling for all he was worth. "I'm assuming you have a bloody good reason to be at my door this hour of the morning," I growl. He stands a bit straighter and bows a bit.
"I must inquire something of you," he says lowly. "I have the undying yearn to know-"
"For Hell's sake, lad, get on with it or be gone. I have to time to waste on the worthless prattle of a child." A small spit of anger simmers into his eyes that makes me grin. Louis' eyes did the same when I insulted him in the beginning. He grew out of that as he grew older.
"I am not a child, sir. I'm eighteen as sure as I stand here."
"Good, then you'll know that men stand not for lost time." His gray eyes darkened again.
"Teach me to act." He was so serious. So serious at a proclamation that was so...well...idiotic.