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The Wizard’s Hut

This is Part VII. Part I of Humpty Dumpty is here. A slightly different version of this story was going to be the original pilot of the TV show I was working on in 2006. You can read about that story here.

opium tales green the stranger looks around the hut. From the outside, it didn’t look like much. But from the inside, a little bit more impressive. Still, the stranger expected something a little bit more from a wizard.

“Can you ride?,” the wizard asks the stranger.

“Of course. Very well in fact.”

The wizard counts the money. “It’s not that much. Is that all they managed to gather?”

“They do not have much. Nor do I.”

“Didn’t you make any money while you were out crusading?”

“I am an honest man.”

“Oh, one of those,” the wizard shoots back.

The stranger gives the wizard a strange look.

“We don’t have enough to joust,” the wizard explains. “I cannot get you both armor and a horse. You do have enough for cheap armor. I know a blacksmith. I’ll work my magic to make it look a bit better, but whatever you do, do not take any blows.”

“Why-”

“Because this cheap armor won’t protect you from a strong blow.”

“Oh.”

“But do not fear, my new friend. You have experience. None of these young lads have seen real battle. We land you a good sword and you should make fools of all of them. Now come.”

The wizard leads the stranger into another room. It’s dark, dirty, and full of cobwebs, which reiterates the stranger’s doubts.

He leads the stranger to a cauldron and waves his hand over the water one time. Humpty Dumpty appears sitting in the tower of his castle with his legs over the wall.

“Strange,” the wizard finally says. “He does this a lot nowadays. I don’t know why. He didn’t do this a month ago.”

“He appears to be in deep thought.”

“Oh really. I would have never thought that.”

The stranger gives the wizard another weird look. He’s not used to sarcasm.

“But fear not,” the wizard says. “I know the guy who runs the events. They didn’t breed this guy for intelligence.”

The wizard continues. “I’ll give him a suggestion, a simple charm. I need to give you a name. How about Don Juan? Yes, you look like a Don Juan. I like that. I made it up myself. I’ll tell him you’re a visiting Noble. We clean you up. Shave you. You already got an accent. That’s good. Nobody ever doubts people with accents. They get the babes too. Lucky son of a b-”

“All right! I got an accent and I look like a Noble. Can we please get started on this?”

Keep reading – Humpty Dumpty Part VIII

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A Stranger walks into town

This is Part VI. Part I of Humpty Dumpty is here. A slightly different version of this story was going to be the original pilot of the TV show I was working on in 2006. You can read about that story here.

opium tales green a tall, dark stranger walks into the tavern. He stands a head taller than any of the town folk, with a dark brown beard protruding from a thin but strong chin. He sits alone at a table in the back where he can see the entire room.

The bar wench approaches the stranger, puts his hand on his back, and whispers something in his ear.

“Your dinner, and your finest ale, please, my Lady,” he says in an exotic accent.

The bar wench smiles at being called a Lady, and struts with a new found confidence as she disappears into the kitchen.

“It is him,” Nathan whispers to his friend, motioning to the stranger in the back.

“Him?”

“Yes, the man!” Nathan leaves his friend and stumbles over to the stranger’s table. The stranger initially makes a defensive move, but tones down immediately as he realizes this peasant is in no way a threat.

“I am Nathan,” he nervously says as he seats himself. “You’re, you’re looking for a woman.”

“Yes, Nathan,” the stranger replies. “I’m looking for my wife.”

“Our Lord, Sir. Our Lord. He…he steals women. He has your wife. She has brown hair?”

“Yes, Nathan. How did you know?”

“He has her. But…but you will not be able to get-”

“That castle?,” the Stranger asks as he grabs Nathan by the shirt and pulls him close.

“Yes. Yes, Sir. But you can not-”

“I can. Tell me how to get inside.”

“Oh no. He won’t just let a stranger in. You must win his trust.”

Nathan’s friend comes over to the table. “Yes Sir. We can get you inside. Is it true you fought in the Crusades?”

“Yes,” the stranger replies, “but-”

“Then Sir,” Nathan explains, “you…you will be better than-”

“Better than whom?”

Nathan’s friend answers excitingly. “Humpty Dumpty loves the games! He lets the winners dine with him. You win, you dine with him. In his castle.”

“What kind of games?”

“Joust. Or sword fighting. We have them both.” Nathan’s friend pauses. “But you have to be a Noble to play. They don’t let peasants play. They don’t let peasants bear arms.”

“A Noble?”

“No one else knows you. You are tall and clean, like a Noble. You can read too, no?”

“Yes-”

Nathan hands the stranger a coin purse. “This is all we have. We know an old retired magician. He will know what to do.”

“Magician?”

“Well, he’s not a great one. But he knows…he knows a lot of stuff. Please Sir. It’s all we have. All we ask is you kill him after you get your wife back.”

The stranger smiles. “You didn’t even have to ask.”

Click here for Part VII of Humpty Dumpty

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Alicia’s Dance

This is Part V. Part I of Humpty Dumpty is here. A slightly different version of this story was going to be the original pilot of the TV show I was working on in 2006. You can read about that story here.

Opium Tales Humpty Dumpty Alicia enters Humpty Dumpty’s room, wearing a lovely, exotic mostly black outfit. She enters barefoot with a mischievous smile, dancing while Humpty Dumpty lies on his bed.

She throws off a shawl. As his eyes briefly look at the shawl, she drinks the vial like a shot of liquor. She swallows it down quickly and goes back into the dance.

She moves closer to him and peels off her top, revealing her bouncing breasts and continues dancing, staring him in the eyes as she faces him and smiles.

Humpty Dumpty stares lustingly at her full, perfectly shaped breasts, then up directly into her eyes. His heart starts to race, as she is the one he desires the most. She is tall, dark, and thin, yet with perfect curves. A painter’s absolute dream. She’d make a perfect muse.

Alicia smiles once more as she drops her skirt, now completely naked except for a golden bracelet on her left ankle. She hops right onto his bed and collapses dead on him with a smile on her face.

Part VI of Humpty Dumpty continues here

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Humpty’s Harem

This is Part IV. Part I of Humpty Dumpty is here. A slightly different version of this story was going to be the original pilot of the TV show I was working on in 2006. You can read about that story here.

Opium Tales Humpty Dumpty Eight scantily-clad and beautiful but unhappy women are doing their hair and talking. They seem to get along, sharing the same misery.

“I don’t want to do this anymore,” Alicia whispers to the Redhead.

“I never wanted to-”

“No. I mean-” Alicia stops, unable to finish what she’s about to say.

The Redhead notices a tear drop falling down Alicia’s face and wipes it away.

“I understand what you mean,” the Redhead replies sadly. She walks over to her drawer. Alicia follows her. The Redhead digs through her clothes and reaches deep down and pulls out a small vial. “I was going to use this myself, but never had the courage.”

“Thank you,” Alicia says as she looks deeply in her eyes. Alicia kisses the Redhead on the cheek and they embrace deeply.

“How long will it take?,” Alicia asks.

“One minute. The man said it won’t hurt, that, I would just collapse and it will be all over.”

Tears fall from Alicia’s lovely face.

“Oh, don’t cry dearie. Don’t let him see you cry.” The Redhead pauses. “Hurt him. Hurt him like he hurt us. Lead him on, and then take it and it will be over.”

“Thank you.”

Part V of Humpty Dumpty is here

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The naive King

This is Part III. Part I of Humpty Dumpty is here. A slightly different version of this story was going to be the original pilot of the TV show I was working on in 2006. You can read about that story here.

Opium Tales The good King and his men ride their horses outside the castle and visit the peasantry. The peasants cheer him on, throwing confetti and smiling as he passes. As he turns his head in their directions, they smile and bow.

He waves in a matter most appreciative, sitting tall on his horse. A lovely young lady runs in front of his horse and throws flowers in front. He smiles directly at her and she bows meekly and blushes.

The good King tries to tour the Kingdom at least once a year. He genuinely loves his people.

He comes to the Humpty Dumpty’s fief and gets off his horse, walking his horse so he can be more on the same level as the peasants.

“Fine day young man,” the good King says to a random peasant.

“Fine day Your Majesty,” the peasant retorts, without making eye contact.

“How are you?”

“Couldn’t be better, Your Majesty?,” the frightened peasant replies.

“Couldn’t be better,” the King says under his breath, oblivious to the peasant’s nervousness. “What a fine Lord Humpty Dumpty must be.”

“I have heard the same, Your Majesty,” says one of the King’s men, with the same naivety as the King.

Pleased with himself, the good King remounts his horse. The King’s men do the same. Once more, he takes one more look around the village. The villagers all feign their best faces. The King and his men couldn’t possibly be more oblivious.

His Majesty rides off back to his castle with a pride and swagger about him. He regards Humpty Dumpty as one of his best Lords, as he’s yet to hear a complaint about him.

Part IV of Humpty Dumpty is here

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A most brutal tax collector

This is Part II. Part I of Humpty Dumpty is here.

opium tales t3he peasants have already finished their labor for the day and gather in the town square. Tired after a long day’s work, they make the best of their miserable lives until the steel reinforced carriage arrives with the deservedly hated tax collector.

Humpty Dumpty, a rather large and brutish bald man, drags out of the carriage. “Don’t you ever look me in the eye!,” he shouts at one peasant as he slaps him across the face with his leather gloved hand. The peasant’s face turns red as his eyes water, but he dares not say a word in protest.

Humpty Dumpty, the tax collector, walks up to another peasant. “Do you have my taxes?”

Without speaking, the other peasant hands over Humpty Dumpty some coins.

“What do you call this? Do you want to insult his Royal Majesty?”

“No my Lord.”

“Then pay what you owe.”

“This is all we have Sir.”

Humpty Dumpty’s face turns into a grin then a wicked smirk. “Your daughter.”

“But she is just a child!”

“She is ready.”

The peasant who got slapped earlier screams “No!” and runs forward to take a swipe with a rake at the tax collector. Humpty Dumpty’s driver moves forward to intercept the peasant, but Humpty Dumpty pushes his driver aside with one hand and grabs the rake with his other hand.

Then Humpty Dumpty whips out his sword and cuts off both of the peasants hands. Without pause, Humpty Dumpty grabs the torch from his driver and chartreuses the wounds.

He takes a few steps back and makes eye contact with everyone in the square. Loudly, he boasts “let this be a lesson to anyone who wants a piece of me.”

No one dares to confront him. No one dares to make eye contact. They all look defeated in his general direction.

Humpty Dumpty storms into a peasant’s home and pulls out a frightened teenage girl. The girl’s father wets his pants, but dares not step forward. He will cry profusely later on that night.

The driver picks up the torch from the ground with a disgusted look and puts it back on the carriage. He waits for his Lord to step inside with the girl, grabs the reins, and drives off.

Continue to part III – The Naive King

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Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty

This is Part I of Humpty Dumpty. If you’re interested in the background, you can read about it here.

opium tales a little peasant girl sits with her legs crossed in the dirt, playing with an egg. She extends her index finger and rubs it into the damp dirt, then paints a smiley face on the egg.

“Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall,” she says with her little child voice. “Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.”

She breaks the egg in the dirt and the yellow yolk spills out, spreading amongst a gooey clear liquid.

“All the King’s horses and all the King’s men. Couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

An ancient man with one gray eye interrupts the little girl. “Humpty Dumpty wasn’t an egg!” She frighteningly looks up. “He was a monster!”

Continue to Part II – A Most Brutal Tax Collector

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Lizzy’s Hero

Opium Tales Tall and handsome with blue eyes that stare longingly into her soul, he kisses her deeply. One last embrace and he’s off. He has dragons to slay.

She clutches the letter tightly to her breasts as he rides off first to get the blessings of the priest. With any luck, her valiant crusader will return to her sooner than later. Sooner than last time.

Of all the lovely ladies, he only has eyes for her. Which makes her smile even more as she knows Jane has more beauty, Rose has more courage, and none of them can match the prose of Lilian. Yet, it is she who he values, she who he longs for. She who he visits late in the night.

Days pass. There’s lots of work to be done. Those pass by easy. It’s the nights that seem to take forever. She rolls around in her bed without sleeping, thinking of him, her brave hero.

He must be off in some faraway land where they speak a language she’s never heard and never will hear. He wears leather under steel and over that, drapes a red cross on his white robe. His allegiance will always be to God.

And of course, Lizzy. This time, he swears he will make an honest woman out of her. He swears he will return with riches enough to make the other Gentlemen envious. He’s so bold and daring, and strong. And can swing a sword with the best of them.

When he returns, they will live happily ever after in their medieval world of heroes and damsels in distress.

But it’s not a medieval world. It hasn’t been for centuries. Her hero only exists in her opium dreams.

Her sheets have turned gray and smell of death. She lies motionless, one step closer to the end. The doctors enter the room and immediately cover their mouths and noses. Both of their stomachs churn. They do their best to contain what’s in them.

They quickly try to nurse her back to help. They’re not sure if she’s going to make it or not. Neither of them think Lizzy cares one way or another.

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OK, I’ll do it

This is Part V of my latest short story. Part I of Until You’ve Bled is here.

opium tales of course Ned didn’t have set office hours. “Whenever you need me, I’ll make time to see you.” That is what’s on his placard. And a phone number.

No other Professor is like that. Weird. But not weird if you knew Ned.

Jess whips out her cell phone and texts him. “Hey, this is Jess, the Biology major. Want to setup an office hour.”

She sends it. Then starts walking around the Art Department, looking at some of the art.

Most of it is pretentious bullshit. She looks for something she likes. And gets a text back.

“Can you wait five minutes?”

“Yes”

“brt”

She smiles, puts her phone in her bra, and goes back to looking the pretentious bullshit.

Don’t worry. I know you’re thinking you’re not supposed to keep your phone by your boobs. She doesn’t do this often. Only when she doesn’t have a purse. Like right now.

He’s wearing corduroy pants, a flannel shirt covered with different color paint spills, and his hair looks like it’s been in a hat.

“Hi Jess.”

“Hi Ned.”

Ned whips out his keys. Most professors fumble with their keys when they have a cute girl half their age with them. Ned doesn’t. He gets straight to the point, finds the right key, and turns the lock.

Jess follows him inside.

Ned sits behind his desk and gives her a look like she could sit. So she does.

He waits for her to start talking. And throws in a smile. That was a cue, Jess.

“Oh.”

“Yes?”

“OK, I’ll do it.”

“Great,” implying he knew exactly what she meant. “I thought you’d come to your senses.”

She nervously chuckled.

“Look, I could tell you’re not even passionate about Biology. Life is short. We all die. And…and you got what it takes to make it.”

He continues. “Most of my students bore me. Occasionally I get someone with life. Most people who get into art do it because they think they’re rebels. But they’re not.”

He waits for her to say something. She doesn’t. So he continues again. “But you, you’re not in it to prove anything to anyone else. You’re in it because you’re in the right place, your heart’s in the right place. You’re the real deal. You’re…you’re an artist.”

“I just…”

“Yes?”

“I just, I guess never saw myself as one. I always liked animals.”

“You can still like animals. Hell, there’s not a professional artist I know who doesn’t like animals.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Well, you might be thinking where to go next. Changing your major is easy. You just need the Dean’s approval and some other paperwork. I can help you with both. I know the Dean. He’s a decent guy. Not someone I’d hang with, but a decent guy.”

He cues her to say something. She doesn’t.

“Do you know your primary medium?”

“Painting.”

“Oils?”

“Yes.”

“Thought so.” He said that without his expression changing. Which made Jess feel like she made the right decision. “You’re going to be good. I think…I think you should get enough done in your four years here to have something ready to sell before you get out. I can set you up in a gallery as soon as you graduate.”

“Really?” Her face finally springs up.

He smiles. Finally, he thinks. She’s easing up.

“I wanted to ask you something else, Jess.”

“What?”

“I’m an empath. Do you know what that is?”

“I think so.”

“You’ve been crying. I can feel it. Are you ok?”

Suddenly, Jess’s heart lifted a little. It’s true she had tons of acquaintances in school and no true friend, but suddenly, she felt like she forgot to count one.

“My father died not that long ago.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to…”

“My mother died when I was in high school. I guess I’ve been floating ever since.”

“Really sorry, Jess. I had no idea. You, you fake it pretty well.”

She knew what he meant and took no offense. He always tells the truth. Tells it like it is. “Yeah. I learned to because I have no choice.”

To be continued at a later date

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Ned

This is Part IV of Until You’ve Bled. Part I is here.

“Don’t call me Mr. Westmore. Call me Ned. Mr. Westmore’s my dad.”

He’s probably in his 40s. Doesn’t act like it though. Acts like a cross between a really old man and a kid. Or not a really old man as in some guy in his 90s. More like someone from a long time ago, like the 1700s or 1800s. Definitely not from this time. But combine that with a kid.

“Do you really want to major in Biology, Jess?”

“Um.”

“You hesitated.”

She says nothing.

“Look. Art gets a bad rap for no reason. People think you can’t make money doing art. I’ve already proved everyone wrong.”

He continues. “I got that same lecture from my parents. ‘What the hell do you think you’re going to do with an Art degree, teach?’ Not that there’s anything wrong with teaching. But I’m teaching because it’s fun. I could have retired years ago.”

Again, she says nothing.

“You’re by far the best I’ve seen in years. Definitely better than any of these pathetically spoiled kids who only think they’re artists. You’re the real deal.”

She smiles, looks up in his eyes, then looks back down at her hands.

“Consider it. If you need me to guide you on the business side, you know where to find me.”

Ned’s cool, she thinks. No, really cool. That’s not one of those “yeah, he’s cool.” She really believes he’s cool.

He has a coolness to him where if she were some rich old lady who wanted to buy paintings, she’d totally buy out his collection. He’s just that cool.

It’s weird having nobody to answer to, except yourself. Most 19-year-olds these days are still under their parents’ wings. Or at least somewhat.

Biology’s cool. But the kids. And the Professors. None of them are like Ned. Nobody’s really full of life like Ned. Nobody has any passion like Ned.

He’s the real deal. He gets it. He is who he is and doesn’t have to change that for other people.

Jess is like that too. She’s always been like that, even when she was little. Her parents encouraged her to stand her ground and be herself. To have her own voice.

She had good parents. Really good parents. Talking to the other kids, yeah, really good parents.

Fuck! Just, fuck!

Jess is almost at her dorm. She really doesn’t want to talk to anyone right now. But she’s carrying her books.

There are bars open. And a few coffee shops. She’ll definitely see someone she knows there too.

Instead, she walks over to the creek. She’s still carrying her books and it’s too dark to look for rocks.

Jess looks around. She can still see some people. So she keeps walking until everyone is out of sight.

She puts her books down on the damp ground. Sits down, Indian style, buries her face in her palms, and cries. For the first time in a very long time, she cries. A lot.

She hasn’t felt this alone since her grandmother and great aunt helped her bury her father.

Continue to Part V of Until You’ve Bled