Roy Dorman is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has been a voracious reader for over 60 years. At the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious writer. He has had flash fiction and poetry published in One Sentence Poems, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Mulberry Fork Review, Birds Piled Loosely, Black Petals, Yellow Mama, Theme of Absence, and a number of other online and print journals. He is currently the submissions editor at Yahara Prairie Lights.

A Short Story

By Roy Dorman

 

THE RELUCTANT PARTICIPANT

“The Bodice Ripper’s Tale” Series, Number 18

 

Chapter I – First Draft:

When the moon went behind the clouds, the vine-covered castle was all but invisible from the village below.  Invisible except for a lighted window on the ground floor….

 

“Tony!”

“Hmmm…, well, hello, what’s this? I’ve got quotation marks on each side of my head and I’m holding an exclamation point in my left hand.”

“Tony, I’m in the living room. Where are you?”

“I’m standing right next to you, Ellen. This is gonna sound weird, but I think that somehow we’ve become characters in a story. Maybe like somebody’s novel. I’m going to shout your name and you look in the area right around your head.  Ready? “Ellen!” Do you see a set of quotation marks hanging around the sides of your head?  Hey, maybe there’ll be some steamy bedroom scenes; you know, maybe we’re in a bodice ripper.”

“Oh, Tony, don’t be silly. Those are just some dust motes.”

“Okay, Ellen, then what’s that you’ve got in clutched in your left hand? We’re in a novel, Ellen. We’re characters in a …”

“Tony, I don’t want to be a character in a book and certainly not in a bodice …”  Pop!

(reality glitch establishes the potential for a fictitious parallel)

 

Chapter I – Revised:

The sunny spring afternoon was made even more beautiful by the colorful wildflowers that had recently taken over the fields leading up to the castle walls….

 

“Tony, are you downstairs?”

“Yes, Ellen, dear; I’m in the kitchen getting things together for tea.”

“Why are you talking in a British accent?”

“Because, dearest, we’re living in a castle near London. You and I are the main characters in a nineteenth-century Victorian bodice …”

“Oh, just stop with the bodice ripper …”  Pop!

(second reality failure strengthens the possibility of a fiction take-over)

 

Ellen is on the phone, standing in the window of her two bedroom row house in the Bronx talking to her mother about her recent break up. Ellen’s mother, in her kitchen in Des Moines, is dressed in a beautiful bottle-green Victorian style gown with a very low neckline.

“No, I don’t think Tony and I are going to get back together. He’d just gotten too strange recently. I like someone with an offbeat sense of humor, but he seemed like he was really losing it. He had this crazy idea that he and I were characters in a book or something.  Mom? Who’s with you? Is that Tony I just heard in the background? Did he just say something about a bodice ripper? Mom?  Are you still there …? Mom!”

(reality in Des Moines has been temporarily suspended)

 

Chapter I – Revision II:

Anthony, the Count of Bristol, gazed into the fiery eyes of the beautiful woman standing before him. Though knowing full well she is surely old enough to be his mother, he will do all in his power to make her his own…..