Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Last Dream

Circlet's Erotic Shakespeare collection, Like A Midsummer Night, released recently, and it contains my first published m/m story, "The Last Dream," which pairs Mercutio with Tybalt.

I had a lot of fun writing this. I used many bits of dialogue from the original play, and, when I had to write my own, I tried to maintain Shakespeare's blank verse. It felt supremely arrogant at times -- the first thing I do in the story is finish Mercutio's interrupted Queen Mab speech -- but I love pastiche and how imitating another's style ultimately sets me free.

Here's a short excerpt:

That hag Mab, spinning her dreams of passion and punishment, has tricked him well. Long has Mercutio avoided the entanglements of sentiment. Physical love holds no charms worth boasting of. His trysts to date have all the splendor of sending laundry to the washerwoman. Needs sated, a body cleaned and restored, and a thanks and farewell to all involved.

And now Mercutio makes a fine picture, as part of a little group largely unknown to each other. Romeo, beanpole lover of all that lies between a woman’s thighs—so long as he neither sees nor touches the treasure—skulks about sighing first for Rosaline, then for any maid young and foolish and possessed of duel-seeking relations. Skulking after Romeo comes Tybalt, drunk on his own rage, his deadly grace too pleasing to Mercutio’s eye. Mercutio—himself now a skulker in turn, all thanks be to his new lord Cupid—gazes upon Tybalt with desire and trepidation, and mocks himself for looking at all.

This strange attraction, this proof of cocky foolishness and his body’s brazen disregard of self, promises danger as heady as it is certain. The trouble lies not merely in the brash carriage of his eye’s new fixation, but rather in the strength of the pull. Never before has Mercutio failed to control the object and timing of his affections. Never before has Mercutio skulked.

Besotted Romeo, far beyond considering the consequences of being seen, makes love to Tybalt’s cousin with his eyes, and shoves through the crowd to bump his hand against her hand. Mercutio sneers and Tybalt explodes, breaking out of the shadows to hiss at the elder Capulet. The old man waves him off, and Tybalt returns to the domain of the skulkers, the sun-darkened flesh above his brilliant eyes gathered like a fist about to strike. He talks to himself, the words soaked up by Mercutio’s eager ears: “I will withdraw, but this intrusion shall, now seeming sweet, convert to bitt’rest gall.”

No good for Romeo in that, but does Wandercock care? He is busy, pressing swelling lips to the yet-unspoiled hand of Tybalt’s young cousin. And there, if nothing else, lies an illustration of which Mercutio should take heed. A man so locked in love’s pursuit that he neglects the half-drawn sword at his back, a weapon which will surely swing ere break of day. Mercutio cannot help glancing over his own shoulder. But there is no one there, and Tybalt has gone, taking with him all the evening’s threat and thrill.

If you'd like to read more, or check out the other authors' stories, you can pick the book up here on Circlet's site or here at Amazon.

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