The Narcissist and the Nightingale [Kindle Edition]

The Narcissist and the Nightingale [Kindle Edition]

by Frances Coker


Publisher Supernatural-Romance

Published in Science Fiction & Fantasy/Fantasy, Literature & Fiction/Horror, Romance, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

Vincent and Persephone will struggle through many lives filled with sex, drugs and Rock and Roll… Excess is the great mediator that will bridge a gap between eternal life and precious mortality.

Sample Chapter



A dark shadow is perched over Persephone and me. It appears hunched over like a man with the features of a crow and black hollow eyes. It sits there watching and waiting. I gasp, trying to fill my lungs with air... Breathing heavy, I compose myself as I lay here weak and misplaced. I awoke from one of my spells—the black outs. I must have died again. The spells are usually accompanied by bad headaches and right now my head feels like a porcelain bathtub with a cat inside trying to claw its way out. My dilemma has once again put me in that place I have grown weary of, though I had not returned to that place I fear.

The repetition of the record static and the strange undertones of the room are soothing. It is that unusual silent time of day in Paris; just before the magic hour with that antic glow that illuminates the silhouetted buildings. I am questioning my reality from the strange hovering black cloud that appears to be suspended from the corner of the room. It is dark, translucent, and animated, like a black veil floating through the air. It enthralls and mesmerizes me. Had I brought something back this time? I try to adjust my eyes, but my eyelids feel like sandpaper scraping my eyeballs from the lack of viscous saline fluid. The black shadow dissipates like smoke. I assume that the smoldering cigarette has caused this illusion as I am reluctant from the aftermath of the blackout and I am left disjointed from myself.

I prop myself up like a wounded soldier crawling out of the trenches. Surveying the room, I see the stockings and articles of clothing strewn all over the floor like the casualties of a V-2 rocket. The stench of stale cigarettes, perfume, and sex fill the room. A hypo needle hangs from my arm like a dart thrown by a drunkard, suspended by only a few cork fibers. The pain derived by the action of tugging on it brings on a level of sadistic+ comfort. I feel the blood creating pressure underneath the skin as a stream of the red stuff trickles down my arm, and it feels warm against my cold body. In that sadistic gesture, I am taken away by the image of a crest of hair from under the white sheet which appears to move like a piece of silk floating in a passive river current. A bad feeling overcomes me as I slowly pull the cover down. Persephone emerges while the imagery of Stravinsky furiously impels his fist in the somber rhapsody, “Le Sacrifice.” The symphonic composition of this procession ricochets and leaps into my brain pan, and at this moment she lays as the sacrificial lamb, motionless; the hues of her emerald eyes now pale gray and glossed over, bile crusted on her cheek. Frenzied, I violently grab her and shake her trying to bring her back to consciousness. I succumb to the realization that Persephone is no longer part of this world and question myself. I struggle to remember the night’s events in panic as horror washes over me. I curl up into a ball against the headboard of the bed, paralyzed. How long have I been dead this time? What the hell happened? I sit there, lost. As the events leading to the blackout start to resurface, there is a fly dancing on top of a half-eaten crème brûlée on the nightstand. It’s struggling, like a prehistoric animal trapped in a tar pit.

The Sugar Fix

I grab the bottle of absinthe and pour it over a glass filled with three sugar cubes. The rush of sugar takes me to a memory as a child. I remember trying to reach the baked goods cooling by the window; not having the patience and understanding of mother's wishes and paying the ultimate price by burning the roof of my mouth, getting my just punishment. I was sent to my room nursing my wounds. I could still taste the sweetness and pain on my pallet as I walked up those stairs crying my eyes out. My punishment would usually consist of being confined to my room. I hated being idle and mother knew it, so she used this against me. I would often sit for hours trying to decipher the riddles of my surroundings that would take me back to the memories of my room. I would remember crawling on the Indian patterned rug and how these strange symbols coincided with my dreams; the visions that would reappear while I slept throughout my life.

The numbers would come to my brain as they always have. Ever since I can remember, they have comforted me. In times of stress, they would scramble and jump from my books, rolling to uncertainty and would hide in the objects in my room. They usually came to me in three’s. The clock had struck 3:33 when I entered my room, I had three cat eye marbles with three similar complimentary hues, the three spider webs under my bed, and the three articles of clothing hanging from my valet stand. Through the years, I had lived by numbers trying to find the answers to my perplexing existence. I break down uncontrollably, rocking back and forth. The verbosity of the record static and the echoes of Persephone’s voice resonate in my head and make me physically sick.

The last thing I remember is making my way through the drunkards in the Bastille corridors of dive bars and tourist traps with my French dame, Persephone, draped over my arm. She was my queen of the underworld. In drunken courage, standing tall, we pushed our way in front of a stupid American couple and took their cab. The rush and motion of being a passenger in the streets of Paris, “The Passenger” keeps cycling through my brain embodying the words of Iggy Pop that night, living vicariously through the music. The high alcohol content beer in Paris had stricken me with a momentary lapse of Asperger’s syndrome, leaving me feeling invincible. I just kept singing and repeating the lyrics at the top of my lungs with my head hung out the window.

We broke into Père Lachaise Cemetery and lost what was left of our inhibitions. We shed our clothes, danced, howled at the moon, and fucked on top of Oscar Wilde’s grave. As we lay on the grave under a blanket of stars, we are lost in conversations of futures that will never come to fruition. Just then, she turns her head at a 45 degree angle and in the most eloquent way, tongues the words “olive juice” vocalizing and expelling them into the universe to be written in the cosmos. I lay stone faced and confronted with the realization that this moment would get fucked up, lost and forgotten, once our relationship had peaked.

I stagger to the loo, dredging through my thoughts of what the fuck happened, tripping on a shoe as I make my way. You know what I’m talking about—one of those numbers, the ‘come fuck me’ stilettos a woman wears to bed with a six inch heel—causing me to fall against the wall, the calendar looking back at me. The year is 1977, the month is September, and the 23rd is circled on the calendar... Iggy Pop, L’Hippodrome. In just under a month, I will be 103 years old; October 21st to be exact, and yet my face was youthful as a man of 25… But my eyes tell a different story. I am privileged to the knowledge of destruction, corruption, and the murder of the sanctity of love. Through the decades, I have become spiteful of this condition yet having the luxury of looking like I did when I was a young man full of vanity.

I look over at Persephone in her contorted state and this moment has brought me back to a memory; a memory when father took me to the ten in one freak show. Remembering how I covered my fears by laughing and throwing peanuts at the freaks, and how, in that moment, I thanked God for all my luxuries knowing that when I grew up, I would stand tall and invincible like father; karmic requital perhaps? I was now morally corrupt and shackled with the burden of my own shortcomings—a tried and true “Lusus Naturae” on display. The preservation of the perfect specimen, a pickled punk submerged in formaldehyde at a circus sideshow; a spectacle of amusement for all to see. At that moment, a barker atomized in my thoughts: “Have your nickels ready... Have your nickels ready...” resonated and dissipated back into the abyss of my conscious.

My head hangs heavy; the gush of uncertainty and tears enveloping my broken disposition. “When will this end?” Some people’s contentment lies in finding that partner they will make a life and procreate with to make the children that will be there to bear their name and cultivate the family tree. But I am the last of the Garcias and my family tree has withered and died. Nothing remains. Alone, hoping that a God of any denomination would at this moment, strike me dead and end my misfortune. I sit hopelessly on the floor trying to remember what brought me here.

The recollection of that sleazy pusher who appeared from the shadows with his Cheshire style grin that laughed at us asking“You party?” in a broken English accent.

My automatic reaction was to blurt out in between a moment of hesitation as if stuck with an impenetrable riddle; “Do I look like a fuckin’ tourist?”

The dealer replied, “Be cool, be cool,” in a long drawn-out fake southern accent, as if trying too hard to be American.

Being of rash thought, inebriated from a surplus of krone pints, and having that feeling deep inside just before you score (that uncontrollable feeling of anxiety before a high), going against my better judgment, I asked for a twenty. I realized after the words left my mouth that I had no money, but reaching into a hidden pocket compartment in my leather jacket, I found in a most surprising moment, a crumpled up twenty dollar bill! While pulling it out, he grabbed it and left me with twenty six cents, the number 26 in numerology reduces to 8, the karmic number for “cause and effect.”

We had snorted heroin on numerous occasions, but even that loses its thrill. Before you know it, it leaves you chasing, wanting that blissful state where nothing matters. Recalling that night when Persephone was elated at the idea, she wanted instant gratification of mainlining and taking her first ride. The plan was in full motion and no matter what was said, she would find a way to do it, with or without me. Never trust a street pusher; the shit we acquired must have been cut with strychnine.

Those bad feelings overshadowing and twisting my gut when Mack, my trusted friend and connection, fell through early that evening having that glimmer of hope that maybe this woman would be the one that would break the curse cast upon me decades ago.

The guilt is causing my anxieties to rise. The panic begins to set in as I drag my hands across my face and stare at the mirror… I am humbled and damn, I look sickly—a “veteran of the drug wars.”

The sobering cold water that splashes on my face has given me the answers. I quickly gather my things and leave no trace of being at the scene. Standing there at the door looking at Persephone solemnly... Who is that strange woman with an indistinct face? She beckons to me from my dreams, floating in the reflection of that dank green water. I was hoping I had found her in Persephone, but now the proof lingers and floods me with emotion; we could have been great together.

I stand there aloof as the door closes. Our magnificent run has come to an end. The hallway is silent. The buzz that the light bulb generates amplifies the quiet that solidifies my desolate thoughts. I lean up against the door with a vacant look... How? Why? My thoughts are interrupted by the abrupt sounds of the building’s creaking front door opening and closing shut. I am frozen with fear. The awkward silence staggers and fills the hall. The vacant heavy footsteps rising, creates a funnel of sound. Thump… and with every moment the footsteps amplify… Thump… and wash over me with panic. Like a thought that festers and turns into a cancer, it grows out of control and you can’t fight it. It turns into a problem; an obstacle, an unconquerable dilemma. Finding myself in that moment, like a child, I pull the blanket over my head to shield myself from the bogeyman... I perch my collar up against my face and walk hurriedly down the stairs. The silhouette of a person becomes larger than life illuminated by the stairwell light, morphing as it approaches causing me to steamroll down the stairs. Unable to turn back being pulled down by gravity, still trying to conceal my identity, I crash into an old woman, startling her and causing her to lose the grip of her spoils. A milk bottle crashes down the stairs and the projectile baguettes come hurling towards me.

With an unsteady subdued undertone I speak, “Pardonnez-moi.”

Her face brought familiarity that reminded me of someone I once knew, but her reaction was of shock, “Sacrebleu, Vous-etes-bien?”

With a sympathetic gesture, I grabbed some francs from my billfold and handed them to her and continued my descent. The echoes of my apologies put me at ease but wait, will she be the pawn in identifying me to the authorities? Have I sealed my fate? I stood at the threshold for a second and contemplated my best course of action… then I ignored it and fled like a coward.

As the old woman kneels in the darkness collecting her things her true essence is revealed.

She begins to speak with gruff in her voice… “No… No… No… don’t feel sorry for Vincent. This is not the first time this has happened and by my work, it won’t be the last. You see this curse was bestowed upon this evil man in Spain in the year of 1906…”

She protrudes her chest and points at herself with conviction and snarled disdain…

She continues: “By his first love’s jaded gypsy mother, after the death of my only granddaughter, at the hands of this devil, Diavol!” She spits in disgust. “What would you have done if virtue, love, and your bloodline were taken from you? This man lacks ‘empatie’ as he is consumed by his own image. I’ve just augmented what he is. These are the journeys of a narcissistic man and the trail of broken hearts. Despair and death lay in his wake.”

The old woman laughs wickedly; her face hollows black as she ascends the stairs and disappears, Thump… Thump… Thump…

At that moment, I shield myself against the dawn as the sun blinds me in the “holy flypaper” moment, exposing my weaknesses like a vampire before certain death. I am forced to walk in shame down the streets of Paris. I sit on the steps of the Bibliothèque de la Cité de L'architecture clenching a leather bound book, lowering my head in disbelief. The building resembles a mausoleum of memory under the watchful eye of tour Eiffel as the song “Teachers,” by Leonard Cohen takes hold of my conscious—a damn earwig that has burrowed deep in my psyche. Cohen’s voice echoed as a testament of my life in the past and present moment. The images of the dancing, beckoning women of my past in white naked silhouette haunt me.


Excerpted from "The Narcissist and the Nightingale [Kindle Edition]" by Frances Coker. Copyright © 2015 by Frances Coker. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Frances Coker

Frances Coker

Frances Coker has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a minor in cultural anthropology, which she applies to create fiction with a vast spectrum of human emotion, and factual historical events to add to the mystic allure of her characters. Frances has written many poems and short stories, this is her first full length novel and it excels in its ingenuity and vision. It is sure to be one of many novels from this clever writer.

View full Profile of Frances Coker

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