Short Story Serial: The Spirits – Part Ten

       Cassius remained in his room for several days, sleeping with the depth of the drugged. He didn't wake for meals, for water, for alcohol, for air. He dreamt of them relentlessly: their music, their skin and their eyes occupied his mind until there was little left to salvage; they serenaded him so sweetly that he had not will or ability to wake. When he finally stumbled from his room, starving and sallow, with a bleariness to challenge the heaviest hangover, he found that no-one had realised he was still there. Over-privilege and under-parenting made easy targets of the wasted rich.


Short Story Serial: The Spirits – Part Nine

            At the last instance, Cassius realised what was happening and swung the wheel wildly sideways until he was over the pavement and had made alarming contact with a tree. Dramatic smoke hissed from the bonnet as he slumped back from the wheel; he asked of the girls but no-one had seen them, so flagrantly there in the middle of the road. The police took him and the totalled car home, and Cassius received a weary remonstration for being late and drunk at the wheel. It felt too much of an effort to protest. His mother ordered the staff to keep an eye on him, and to keep him in the house until he was feeling better.


Short Story Serial: The Spirits – Part Eight

       Talk eventually reached his father's ears, causing him to propose the only remedy he knew: inviting his son with him and his associates on a jaunty 9-hole round. Cassius agreed, but confirmed his father's expectations by over-sleeping, so had to borrow his mother's classic Jag to drive up to the course.

          Speeding past the ice cream parlours and Italian eateries that hosted the socialite flock, Cassius suddenly saw the girls, resplendent and half-naked, standing with their instruments in the middle of the road. Their eyes bore into his and their mouths curved intimately upward as if relishing Cassius' surprise. The pedestrians remained oblivious as Cassius sped towards them, too distracted to check his increasing speed.


Short Story Serial: The Spirits – Part Seven

        The next day he sought them again and found them further in, further from the house, playing with the sunlight incandescent on their faces. Cassius felt the sweet, strange music weave its way under his skin, into his fibres, and he missed the moment when their playing stopped and they disappeared from view. With a jolt he realised that it was sunset, and that he'd been out all day. 

         The days that followed echoed the first, but all he could ever recall of them was a flood of incoherent colour. Their music was lost to him the instant it finished, but the sensation quivered on within him like an empty bow. Once or twice the maid found him drunk, calling entreaties and obscenities into the stygian night.


The Spirits


Short Story Serial: The Spirits – Part Six

     Two creatures, women in form, perched high above him, glowing like angels with the lute and the harp in their delicate fingers, and fragrant flowers scattered through their long, blonde hair. They gazed down at Cassius with such come-hither intensity that a hot, white flame of desire ran through his body, scorching his skin and stealing his breath. Beguiling smiles shone on their lovely faces as one of them rose silently and stepped down, twisting her instrument and continuing to play. The other followed, turning her hips and hands to grip the branches as the lute reverberated across the silence. No-one spoke.         

     As they disappeared amongst the trees they glanced back with such a wordless entreaty that Cassius felt compelled to follow; but there was no sign of them beyond the clearing, and no music.


Short Story Serial: The Spirits – Part Five

           Cassius ventured towards the trees that same morning, squinting in the summer glare, Nabokov simmering in the pocket above his deck shoes (no socks). It was cooler amongst the trees. He found a bench and languorously crossed his right leg over his left. He wished he'd brought some cigarettes.
           Upon this thought, acrid smoke drifted towards him from the idle trees. Who else would be out here, he wondered; perhaps I could borrow one. He straightened himself to find out where it was coming from, but was halted by the timorous high notes of a lute and a harp playing in perfect accord. Chilled by its incongruity, Cassius moved hesitantly to find the source of the smoke and the heavenly, ethereal music. After a time of getting neither closer to or farther from the sound, Cassius stepped into an opening and saw them there, high in a tree.


Short Story Serial : The Spirits – Part Four

           Amongst the deciduous trees that encircled the Hoytenberry estate, two pairs of fringed eyes observed him with interest. Since the last death, siblings had socialised, visits had been fleeting and loners had found company with the Chucks, Muffins and Bitsys of the world. To some, Cassius' isolation made him tantalizing, solitary prey.


Short Story Serial: The Spirits – Part Three

          After suffering a few days of excruciating pain at the dinner table and over gin on the western patio, Cassius began to refuse all invitations in favour of staying on the terrace to smoke. The fragrant parents had grumbled, and then carried on with their lives – how could one possibly stay in when there were deals to be done and lovers to be had? He'd spent July smoking and drinking alone, calling up purchasable company and using his trust fund to tip them with dismissive aplomb. August had brought with it only heat.


Short Story Serial: The Spirits – Part Two

          "Cassius, darling, how are you?" his mother had asked, her heels sinking into perfect green as she brushed down his pastel lapels with her expensive manicure. A plaque on a nearby tree commemorating a lost patriarch flashed absent-mindedly in the sun. 
           "It's been too long, we missed you so. You simply must come back with us to Vienna once September comes around."
           "Thank you mother," Cassius replied, taking a step back, "but in September I'm expected back at St. Jude's…"
          "Oh yes darling, of course. So, one more year is it? After that, then."      


Short Story Serial: The Spirits – Part One

          Cassius Hoytenberry threw open a window one hazy August morning on his family's Hamptons estate, driven by a new urge for some fresh air. He'd secreted himself away at the beginning of the season, his wan appetite for summer parties and club tennis tournaments entirely extinguished by the wounding brutality of his first parental snub in nearly a year.  
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