NEW RELEASE THE ODDITIES ON SATURDAY NIGHT BY GABRIEL RICARD
Moran Press Presents
THE ODDITIES ON SATURDAY NIGHT by Gabriel Ricard
The description from Amazon
PACK LIGHT, DREAM DESPERATELY
Washed up actors, mass murderers, Christ cosplayers, killer angels, and Viking funerals. Meet the vagabond cast in thirteen new stories from author Gabriel Ricard (BONDAGE NIGHT, CLOUDS OF HUNGRY DOGS). THE ODDITIES ON SATURDAY NIGHT is a travelogue of lost, quietly deranged souls. Like all of us, these characters are just trying to get through the week alive.
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A new message alert beeped on Saul’s phone. Tapping the code to unlock the screen, Saul read the text and grunted. Without a word, Saul pushed the recruit forward along the dimly lit hall. The recruit was shaking and stumbled, but Saul did not relent and dragged the prisoner the last few steps to a set of double doors.
“Stand up, will you. Pull yourself together.”
“Who is this guy I’m meeting? Is he really the butler?”
Saul shook his head and knocked on the door. Within moments the double doors swung open to reveal an elderly man wearing a tuxedo.
“Just in time for tea. Do come in,” the old man made a sweeping gesture with his arm and stepped to one side to allow the recruit to enter his apartment. Saul led the recruit into the dining room and forced him into a seat closest to the door.
The old man took the seat opposite the recruit but did not speak. Saul began serving tea, freshly cut slices of lemon on a serving dish.
“That will be all, Saul. Thank you.”
Saul gave a slight bow towards the old man and left. The recruit looked from his teacup to the old man.
“Who are you?”
“You may call me George. I’ve been a servant at Holden Farms all my life. I’ll instruct you in all aspects of being a servant. Cooking, cleaning, ironing, sewing, tending the horses and gardens, hosting invited guests, and most importantly, the specific needs of the master of Holden Farms.”
The recruit sipped the tea, a brow furrowed in concentration.
“You’re going to train me to be a butler? What about the killing, being an assassin part?”
George smiled and squeezed lemon slices into his tea.
“I don’t know how to tell you this. Saul was having some fun with you. I’m afraid there won’t be any revenge killing in your future. You’re fate is with me as a servant of Holden Farms. You’ll never leave this mansion again. Just like me.”
George sipped his tea and smiled again.
“I don’t understand.”
“Have a lemon cake. It will make you feel better.”
The recruit did as he was instructed, taking a small bite of the cake and waiting for George to explain.
“Due to your age and other factors, you’ve been selected as a personal servant to Miss Ella, provided you pass my training course.”
“What other factors?”
“You’re an orphan. No surviving relatives. Never married. No stable employment. In short, you fit the profile. Nobody will miss you.”
The recruit leaned back in his chair, rubbing a hand over his hair in nervous exasperation. “I guess that answers my question about what happens if I don’t want to be a butler.”
George nods and sips his tea before answering. “Indeed. No need to go into the grisly details. I’ll leave that to your imagination. But, know this, you best pass my butler school. Failure isn’t an option for you. Some don’t understand the core of what it means to be a servant. It’s more the list of duties you perform.”
The recruit ate more lemon cake and contemplated George’s words.
“Tell me what the core is if not the duties you have already mentioned.”
“Being a servant at Holden Farms means anticipating the needs of the master before she asks. You must become attuned to her moods, whims, and be able to discern how to meet all needs and expectations even when those specifics are not communicated. To be a butler here, you must dedicate your entire being to the happiness of the master.”
The recruit began to answer but stopped and sipped his tea.
“I guess the only thing I don’t understand is why my age. I’m only 22. I don’t have experience…”
George cut him off with a wave of his hand.
“Ella doesn’t want someone’s bad habits. Your age is for a reason. You can be molded into the servant she wants. Just remember the core principle. Make Ella happy and you’ll remain alive.”
George stood at the same moment Saul re-entered the room.
“Well, is he ready?” Saul asked, gesturing at the recruit.
“I can’t say for sure, my friend. But it will have to wait until later. We must prepare for the trial.”
“If there is a trial,” Saul interrupted.
“What happened?” the recruit asked, not understanding.
Saul grunted and glanced at George. Receiving no answer, he cleared his throat and returned his eyes to the recruit.
“The prisoner confessed.”
The recruit started to speak, but bells began to ring, filling the air around them with a tremendous noise. Saul grabbed the recruit by the upper arm and ushered him quickly down the hall towards the main ballroom.
“It’s time for a trial,” George said, smiling wide as he opened the doors.
The ballroom packed with the residents of Holden Farms. On the stage the bell rung and rung, the volume deafening as George and Saul led the recruit through the crowd. When the three reached the seats reserved for them, the doors slammed shut behind and all the lights went dark.
I stare at the telephone and the only thing I get in return is eternal ghastly silence. Ring, damn you. It’s been days and the phone call I’ve been avoiding gets more difficult the longer I delay. The phone apparently won’t cooperate and ring of its own. But what am I afraid of?
Jumping from bed, I grab the telephone from the charging base. Tapping a button to dial a saved number, I put the receiver to my ear. It’s ringing.
“Good morning, Ella. Quite the surprise. How are you?”
“Happy belated Father’s Day, Hannibal. I’m sorry I didn’t’ call, but it’s been a very rough time. Quarantine life isn’t for me.”
“Do not fret on my account. I’m happy you thought of me. But you sound troubled, Ella. Are you eating? Sleeping? How’s your sexual appetite? Regular and vigorous sex is a key to a sound mind and spirit. Tell me what troubles you.”
I sigh. All the explanations I planned fizzle in my mind upon hearing his voice. “I haven’t killed anyone since quarantine began. Something…happened to me? This pandemic is kryptonite. All this death and not one by my hand. I feel helpless.”
“I see. Quite natural really. This phenomenon makes us question our very existence, attacks the foundations of who we think we are when we’re alone in the night. Let me ask you, are you having the nightmares about the day you killed your father?”
Can I speak this? Even to Hannibal? “No. It’s from before that day.” A short silence punctuated by a sharp inhalation of breath. “Close your eyes, Ella. Do it this instant. Tell me what you see. Don’t think, just tell me exactly what you see.”
I do as Hannibal bids.
“It’s the Father’s Day before my 13th birthday.
I woke bathed in sweat in the middle of the night. There was a clanging of pans from the kitchen, so I jumped out of bed. I crept down the stairs. I was very afraid and still trapped in the nightmare of father the noise interrupted.
I entered the kitchen. My father was face down in a pool of vomit and blood. He looked dead and for one moment I thought the deed was done. Excitement flooded me as I knelt in the vile sticky wetness to check if he was alive. When I place my hand on his neck to check for a pulse, he grabbed my wrist. His eyes snapped open and he vomited again. My father was not dead.
I can’t remember a thing that happened the rest of the day. It’s a blur of violence and I don’t want to talk about all that right now. You already know what he did to me.”
After a short silence, Hannibal asks. “You’ve never told anyone about that day, have you?”
I shake my head, trying to will the images from my brain. “No. Not even Ray.”
“I won’t be hurt if you can’t tell me,” Hannibal says in a low voice.
I light a cigarette and take several deep drags before I answer.
“I poisoned his whiskey. When he was busy doing whatever he did in the basement most nights, I poured enough poison to kill three men into the bottle and I watched him drink every single drop, but the damned drunkard just wouldn’t die. It’s like the fucker was immune to poison from all the alcohol he’d consumed in his life.
“You tried to murder your father on Father’s Day?”
I let his question remain unanswered while I smoke in silence. I don’t need to tell him more about that day. Not right now. Maybe not ever.
“Thank you, Ella. If you wish to end the nightmares that plague you about Father’s Day, you must tell Ray everything.”
“But, H. Ray is dead.”
There’s no answer from the other side of the line. I wait and crush the cigarette into the ashtray, but still nothing from H. Removing the phone from my ear, I check the screen. The phone is off, the screen dark. “Ray, I tried to kill my father before I met you. I think that’s why the universe put you into my life…” I can’t continue. The tears overwhelm me, and I place the phone back on the nightstand. I get under the covers and close my eyes. Sleep comes for me, returning me to my eternal nightmare.
I hope readers enjoyed the story. Another new story coming very soon. To those looking for last minute gifts, books make perfect gifts for holidays, birthdays, and any special occasion. Give the gift of reading!
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RELEASE DATE SET DECEMBER 26, 2020 THE ODDITIES ON SATURDAY NIGHT
At long last, I'm pleased to announce the release date for the short story collection from Gabriel Ricard, The Oddities on Saturday Night. This book was a long time in the making. Pandemic put a lot of the world on hold and my small business was no exception. Much of my small business process was put on hold or closely by order of the state - including the lifeblood of small presses: live events.
I've had to re-invent things at Moran Press - including a new focus on hand-sewn chapbooks (more of that later). Words are beginning to come to life again and a new process forming on how to get words into the hands of our readers.
This book is the culmination of a lot of work and determination by the entire team to see this through to the finish line despite the incredible adversity life has thrown at us all in this rollercoaster year of 2020. We are both pleased and relieved to finally see this book in print. The excitement is palpable - in no small part due to the core of the project: the cover art by artist David Graham. The art captures the whimsy, humor, and stark look at modern life present in the fiction. He nailed this cover and I'm so happy to present it to the world.
Thank you to the readers for supporting us all these years and I do hope you love this book as much as I do. It's truly beautiful. I can't wait for you to see it.
Book drops Saturday Night, December 26th. Leading up to that night will be livestreams and other social media appearances by author and published. Be on the lookout for a chance to win a copy of the book FREE courtesy of Moran Press.
The chapbook edition of the book, GOD IS ON YOUR SIDE and other handsewn chaps are available now from Moran Press. Be sure to place book orders today to receive in time for Christmas!
Thank you for supporting small business and reading.
Stephen Moran Owner of Moran Press
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AVAILABLE HAND SEWN CHAPBOOKS
Some Houses Are Built With the Wrong Bricks - Poems by Austin Davis
Second Civil War - Poems by Austin Davis
God is on Your Side - Stories by Gabriel Ricard
Four Stories - Stories by Ella Thomas
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Gabriel Ricard’s 2nd poetry book is about coming to terms with the good, the bad, and the reliably hideous. The world is a badly run 1890s-style asylum, but at least there’s a lot of good stuff on TV. Love and Quarters goes deep into love, depression, high adventures in the great outdoors, and whatever the hell else may happen while in transit.