Posts Tagged ‘published first in “A Seasoning of Lust”’

“The Devil in Paris”, Chapter 1

April 22, 2012

This is an early short story.  There are four chapters.  It is still one of my favorites, and went through revisions as most of our writing should.  It first appeared, in an altered version, in “A Seasoning of Lust”, published by Lulu, 2009.  I’ve cleaned it up for the blog.  After all, the presence of devils was startling enough without other  too-explicit issues.

PS: I got an email from a very good writer in Australia, who took offense that I would be questioned ‘why’ I did whatever to this story.  His advice was this:  “Because you are the author and you can do anything you damn well please with your work.”

He’s right, and I jump too fast to ‘explain’ the why to people who probably won’t read, or continue to read this story.  Tant pis! as Madame Gormosy would say.  It is not for everyone, and I have already had complaints about the title, people writing that they wouldn’t read it because of the word ‘devil’.  Probably from Baptists and Methodists or some form of fundamentalist religion.  Or perhaps they don’t like the French? 


Lady Nyo

(Madame Gormosy is a Devil.  She can change her sex at will, from Louise Gormosy to Louis Gormosy.  John Garret is also a Devil, (half human, though) and not so powerful.  They have known each other for centuries as devils generally do. The scene is Paris, in the 1770’s. )




Madame Louise Gormosy stood by the tall window, looking down at the rain-slicked street. Paris was cold and dreary this spring.  Wood had gone up in price,. A timely delivery was a matter of bribes. That should be the concern of her steward, but he had disappeared. Already her servants were breaking up small cabinets and chairs to burn in the main salon and kitchen. She could hear the smashing of wood somewhere in the large house. 

Madame shivered for the room was chilly.

Ahif ever I see him again, I will make him pay with his life for my discomfort. I will tear his stomach open with my nails and cook his liver. 

She had a visitor, a sullen-looking Englishman, now with his large frame stretched across her sofa.  John Garrett had been a friend for many years.  He was an easy-going devil and good company when in  proper temper.   She cast her eyes towards him, a smile forming on her painted lips.  Patting her high-dressed hair and smoothing the gray satin front of her gown, she wondered what had put him in such a mood. She remembered he was quite a wit when not bothered with serious thought. She hoped he would reform his manners, for she wanted nothing to spoil the afternoon.  The rain could not be helped.

“John Garrett!”    Madame’s natural voice was low pitched but now showed her exasperation with a rise in key.  “Are you going to continue your gloom and sour my day?”

Garrett, his eyes drawn slowly from the low burning flame, looked up at her.  He stared for a long minute, a sneer forming on his handsome face.

“We are alone. I know you better as   Louis. Why behave this way amongst friends? “ 

Madame did not answer.    She walked to the double door, locked it and threw the key into his lap.  For a moment she stood there, with her head cocked to the side, an elegant older woman, dressed in the latest fashion and only a sharp rise in the middle of her skirt gave warning of what was to happen.

In an instant, “Louise Gormosy” was  “Louis”. Gone were Madame’s satin overdress,  high coifed and perfumed hair.  A bit of makeup remained, but this was  current fashion among Parisian men.  Louis laughed at the expression on Garrett’s face. He now was a slight-figured man, above middle age, with powdered hair and white silk stockings sagging around thin calves. 

John Garrett shuddered.  He knew his friend was not just any man in Paris.  He was a demon, an important one– the Archduke Demon of Lust, with sixty legions under his command.

Louis Gormosy had ridden out of Hell on a white camel and long tormented the earth. It could not be helped; it was his nature. It was his ‘calling’. 

Ah, thought Louis, I miss my camel… along with my legions, but tant pis!  The cobblestones of Paris were hard on her aging hooves.

His guest, John Garrett,  also a demon, but not of the same stature. Louis Gormosy was not sure of Garrett’s actual position in Hell, but knew him to have the patronage of the powerful Archduke Abigor, close to the throne. With friends like that, even the powerful Demon of Lust had to watch his hoof.

Louis Gormosy chuckled at his guest’s surprise. “Oh come, John, surely you are used to my little trick? Non? Well then, I have another reason to invite you here, besides parlor tricks.  This evening I am expecting some guests, and I have reason for you to meet them.”

John Garrett sat up, stretching his legs. “Are you planning a little entertainment this evening?  You know, Louis, one never can tell with you.”

Louis Gormosy lay a finger aside his nose and winked. “You have come at a good time, John.   I expect a young woman, a girl actually. She is the daughter of a neighbor in the country.  She is about seventeen. Her mother is anxious to have her married.”

“I am almost afraid to ask, Louis.  What part do you play? ”

John Garrett looked at his friend from half-closed lids, like a cat settling in for a long story. 

Monsieur Gormosy walked to the window and looked out at the pouring rain. He turned his head slightly and gave Garrett a nervous smile before peering down at the street, watching for a carriage to stop at his door. 

“Madame Luciern is a silly woman, a bit more stupid than usual.  She has a daughter on her hands she complains is a ‘bookworm’.  Ah! Bon Dieu!  So the young woman will educate herself with novels and newsprint. Tant pis!”

Louis Gormosy threw up his hands in disgust.  The words “Good God” had a strange sound in his mouth, just shy of a gurgle. 

“You still don’t tell me what your part is in this affair.” 

Gormosy turned and looked at his friend. “Better you ask me what your part is.”

 John Garrett sucked his breath in sharply, and let out with a soft  “Oh no, Louis!”

Louis gestured with his hands outward, all Gallic charm, and continued his appeal.

“What is a little fun amongst devils, neh? You have certain…ah…attributes that I unfortunately, do not have.” 

“The starch issue again, Louis?”  Garrett’s words made Louis wince. 

Quel dommage! I don’t know if this is a little trick of Heaven or Hell, John…but it persists.  I begin the attack, a few thrusts with the sword, and even with one parry, -I wilt.”   

And, thought Louis sadly, it always came down to what devil had more ‘reach’. It always came down to a measurement.  Here on earth the length of the cock, and in Hell, the amount of control. 

“So, what is your plan and why should I care?” 

Monsieur sucked on the side of his thumb, thinking how to present his case. 

“I have not seen the young woman.  Her mother keeps her well hidden. If she is a bookworm as the mother says, perhaps any attempt here in Paris to marry her off will be impossible. Perhaps she is ugly!” 

“Or perhaps she has no bosom,” said Garrett from his sofa, eyes wandering back to the fire.

“Or perhaps she has a harelip!” said Gormosy. “What do I know?  I have not seen the poor girl.” 

With a grimace, Gormosy shook out his hand.  He had bitten deeply into his flesh, and blood spurted from his thumb. 

Garrett asked, “Does she have a good fortune?” 

Non.  Madame Luciern is a widow. Her estate is lessened with the behavior of her oldest son. That young man has no sense at cards…and worse luck!  I would give him some pointers in faro, but I do not cheat at cards.”

What a big lie, thought John Garrett, laughing silently.  There was honor amongst devils but not at cards.  What was the worse that could happen?  A duel, you die, you come back fresh and new, with another chance to cheat life.  And at cards.

“But!” continued Louis, raising a finger dramatically. “She has an honorable name!  That is worth something, I think.” 

“Hah,” said Garrett.  “Perhaps of worth to mortals.  But it is something.” 

The blood continued to spurt from Gormosy’s thumb. “Merde”.  He pulled a sooty handkerchief from his pocket and wrapped his thumb. 

“So, what do you intend to do with Mademoiselle? Do you have a cuckold in mind?” 

“Why would he be a cuckold, mon ami?  I have all intention of marrying her to someone worthy and with a good fortune.” 

“And if she is not marriageable due to this harelip or flat bosom?  What do you intend then for Mademoiselle?” asked Garrett.

“I intend to make her a whore.”

There. It was out, thought Gormosy.  Let him chew on that.  There was profit to be made here, and he, Louis, would take the advantage. 

“Why do you need me?”  John Garrett’s eyes half closed again as he looked at his friend who was grinning broadly.

 “ If I can not obtain an acceptable offer, I will need your –ah, efforts, John.”

“Meaning?  Come Louis, do not make me beat it out of you.”

“You will seduce her.  You will make her more pliable for her gentleman callers…I, of course, will revert back to Madame, for this is all her mother knows of me, and you will play…”

 “Hold on, Louis.  Do you or don’t you intend to get her a husband?”

 “How should I know?” Louis Gormosy shrugged his shoulders and presented his palms upward. 

“I don’t know if she has a harelip or an unfortunate bosom.  We both, my old friend, will find out this evening.”

End of Chapter 1.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009, 2012

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