Orpheus: A Modern Greek Tragedy, Tom Bont, TWB Press, Amore Moon, short story, romance, fantasy

 
Amore Moon Romance

 

Tom Bont

That Kind of Magic

Iron Broderick

 

 

Short Story

Romantic Fantasy

9,350 words

by Tom Bont

Otis Chambers is a struggling writer with a two book deal on his desk. He desperately needs some help with writers block, so he goes to Greece, the wellspring of inspiration. There, he finds a statue of Orpheus, the Greek demigod whod charmed women and nymphs, even the gods and rocks, with his music and songs. Being that hed also taught an entire civilization to write, there could be no better inspiration for Otis, but touching the statue lands him in the hospital, and when he wakes up, he finds his ex-wife, Emily, at his bedside, a flame that had never gone out. When he gets back to writing, he soon learns his words carry the power of Orpheus over women who read his books, which he uses to boost his career…and his sex life. His harem and fame grow exponentially, but Emily is unaffected by his newfound charms. As he juggles his fan girls and tries to win Emily back, he learns too late how all Greek tragedies must end.

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Excerpt

I stumbled through the woods, the concierge’s warning an echo in my head. “Otis. Be careful. The statue of Orpheus is...well, it’s been known to change those who touch it.”

I’m familiar with the story. For those of you who aren’t, Orpheus, son of Apollo and Calliope...the latter being the muse of eloquence, was an ancient Greek hero reputed to charm anyone and anything, including plants and rocks, with his lyre and song. He had even introduced writing to the Greeks. His amorous strings and joyous songs attracted many women, especially the Wood Nymph Eurydice, and they fell madly in love. On their wedding day, she was bitten by a venomous snake and died. Orpheus’s grief and sorrow played out in the saddest music ever heard by humans and gods. Finally, with the help of his father, he descended to the underworld to beseech Hades to release Eurydice back to him. He played his lyre and sang so sweetly all hell stood still, and Hades agreed to reunite the lovers, but with one stipulation.

She could follow him out of hell, but he could not look back at her until they both reached the light of the living world. If he did, he’d lose her forever. Along the way, Orpheus could not hear her footsteps behind him. He became worried and doubtful of the gods, and yes, just as he entered the light he did look back, but too soon, the fool, only to see her vanish into the darkness, quick as the flutter of a hummingbird wing. The moral of this story, according to the gods, is that the future is always forward. You can never go back.

You cannot put the genie back in the bottle.

You cannot close the lid on Pandora’s Box.

You cannot hang out with the Boys of Summer.

You cannot touch the statue of Orpheus.

#

Perhaps I should attempt to explain my problem from the beginning. I have an ex-wife. Emily. We’re still friends, though. I should have listened to her. She told me my new lifestyle would eventually bite me on the ass. And she was right. Oh, God, was she right. No, not about putting the genie back into the bottle. Something worse. Keeping too many girlfriends.

Leave it to your ex-wife to be right about your new girlfriends.

Writers have rituals like every other artist. Some of us take these rituals to the extreme. I know one gentleman who wears bunny slippers when he’s writing. I have chosen to relinquish any credit to fluffy-eared pumps, and instead, only drink coffee from a specific mug, the one Emily gave me when I sold my first short story.

But when it comes to waking up our muses, we writers must look desperate to those who know nothing of how our minds work. We will try anything short of sacrificing chickens...though, if you’ve read Stephen King, you may expect that sort of behavior out of his mind. I typically settle for something a little less macabre.

Case in point, I once decided to inspire my muse by kissing the Blarney Stone. Rumor has it that those who do receive the Gift of Gab. What’s writing if not putting to pen what’s spoken? I wanted to French kiss that rock. I wanted to caress its curves and whisper sweet nothings to it. The problem with these amorous plans is that the Blarney Stone is at the top of a castle in Cork, Ireland.

I made the trip, and the only gifts bestowed were chapped lips and a head cold from walking up what seemed like forty stories of icy steps. I must have been insane to think standing on top of Blarney Castle in the dead of winter was a good idea. That northern wind blew through the threads of my Texas coat like it was thin as a wife-beater. As I said, writers get desperate at times.

But let’s get to the meat of my problem, as this is where the story truly begins. I’m sure my editor, a grouchy ol’ fuck named Hank, would question why I didn’t start the story here, but I feel some more background is in order. Let’s rewind some.

I got lucky on a self-published novel, and a two-book deal subsequently landed on my desk. A pre-edit draft was due in six months, and I had nothing written down. Not a plot. Not even a premise written out as a complete sentence. I needed to light a fire under my muse’s ass, and right quick. Cork, Ireland, had been a bust, so I decided to find my inspiration at the wellspring itself, where muses run wild. Greece.

As I had said... Desperate.

I wandered around Muse Heaven for two weeks, visiting every tourist spot in the guidebook that had anything to do with muses. Two nights before I was to leave, I sat down with my tablet and stared at the blinking cursor. I tapped the backspace key as many times as I’d tapped all the other keys combined. I finally said, “Fuck it,” and went down to the bar. The bottom of a beer mug was the only place I hadn’t yet searched for inspiration.

I ordered my typical, a dark porter, and sat at a corner table. My empty email folder told me everyone was asleep back in the States...including Sherry, my agent. I figured she was too busy to drop me a line. Only active and consistently published writers paid the bills and right now, I was neither.

The waitress came over, and we talked for a few minutes. Actually, I whined about lacking inspiration, and she smiled. She went back to work, and when I lifted my glass off the table for my final gulp, I found a folded napkin under it with the name ‘Orpheus’ written on it in a woman’s handwriting. There was also an address near Kavala. I looked for my waitress, but she was gone. When I enquired, the bartender denied that a waitress was on duty that late. I knew he was mistaken.