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Day Six

There are different forms of fiction. The story I’m writing during the next thirty days falls under literary. Literary has a different flow. In my opinion, a book of literary fiction causes the reader to think, to explore a character’s point of view, which most times is on a common subject that has many ways of looking at it. To pull this off, the author never includes his personal view point, because at all times an author must stay true to the story and its plot. The only reason a view point is given is to bring understanding as to why a character makes certain decisions and explains what’s driving him and motivating him to do everything he does.

Regardless if an author is writing literary fiction or any other kind of fiction, mentions are made or implied in some form or fashion to help readers understand each individual main character, but literary works usually are longer and its finished product has a higher word count, because more explanation is usually given throughout the story to pull the reader down until they rest in the apex of the plot’s heart. By doing this, the reader becomes one with the story, which is something I’ve mentioned a lot and will continue to mention because it’s very important.

In regards to today’s market, commercial fiction out sales literary fiction on terms of daily sales, but I’m not going to think about this, because I must remain true to my plot, just like you need to stay true to the plot of the book you’re writing. This again is where style comes in play. A lot of new writers will try and write like authors they love, but sometimes that writer’s style will give them problems because it’s inconsistent with the new writer’s plot. Keep this in mind as you read another chapter I’m pasting for you. The main thing you’ll want to take from this blog is not to give up, write every day, stay true to the plot of your story, and learn the standard rules of writing that is used in all genres.

Okay, so what I’ve pasted is another chapter. I've written two chapters before this one that I have not pasted, and quite a few afterwards. It’s the rough draft of this chapter. I’m sure I will edit or rewrite it heavily before I will conclude it has become the final draft , but what won’t change is the context that’s mentioned here. I’m pasting this chapter as an example of how your plot can weave a tangled web, and how a character can be pulled further into the dilemma they wished they didn’t have to face but must. Also notice that just by telling this scene, I'm introducing more characters that will later be mentioned in the book, as well as giving little bits of back story. But remember this if you remember nothing else. Write each chapter in a way of making the reader wonder what will happen next. Have you ever been inside a whorehouse? Many people don't have a desire to, but in books an author can take a reader anywhere and that's one of the things I love about fiction.

So happy reading, and remember to keep writing. I’m trying to catch up on days. Tomorrow I should have this close to being done. My schedule this past week had gotten a bit out of hand. Hopefully, I'll wrangle my time in way that I won’t miss future posts. But until then, be patient with me.

Edouard rode fiercely out of the stables and into the yard, expecting Andreu to be waiting for him. When he didn’t see Andreu, he pulled hard on the reins and dug his thighs deep into Marie’s flank. Not seeing Andreu was more than odd, but did he really want to spend time with the brother that his mother wanted to hurt?

Putting Marie back into a trot, he ignored a stable hand chasing behind him and calling his name loudly, because he believed the boy was doing his Madame’s bidding by bringing her son back to the mansion. My mother be damned, he thought and rode harder, reaching the cluster of trees that would lead him to River Road.

When he reached the Road, he purposely avoided it and kept to canopy of the trees, but followed the road downriver. After he’d gotten a distance he noticed his father’s coach, and once again he came to a stop. The coach traveled at a moderate pace, the larger of his father's many coaches, which meant Sarah’s entire family sat inside it, including Pierre. No wonder Andreu hadn’t been in the yard. Edouard had forgotten the day. Andreu hated going to the lily fields. There were plenty of lilies where his father was taking his second family, but more importantly a good sized house sat in between those fields.

The house belonged to Tante Marianne. Doctors predicted she only had months left to live, but those months had come and gone and were stretching themselves closer to a year. Tante Sarah believed the visits made by her family worked some kind of miraculous cure that kept Tante Marianne alive. Her children said nothing each month on the same day when they were forced to board a steamboat traveling to Biloxi, because they hoped their father would put an end to it all. But Pierre never said anything liked they believed he would and instead enforced them, as if he and Tante Sarah shared the same beliefs in how to keep Tante Marianne alive.

From the things Andreu had told Edouard, Tante Marianne’s home smell so thickly of sickness that all of them usually started gagging as soon as the front door opened, including his father and mother. While the children were permitted to stay outside of the house for a moment to get themselves together, their parents covered their noses with cloth and braved going in, their steps strong and rushed as if the sickness meant to blow them out into the yard.

Andreu always waited last to finally go in, because the routine never changed. Once he stepped a foot through the house, he moved the same way his parents had, as if some dark spirit perched in the front rooms of the house to stop anyone from coming inside. He and his siblings were then forced to sit inside the master bedroom and talk and laugh, even if they didn’t want to, all to the tune of Tante Marianne vomiting up blood and smiling whenever she could, because Tante Sarah believed that laughter, in this case, had become the best medicine.

On several occasions, invitations had been given to him to join the trip, but after listening to how Andreu described the scene, Edouard wanted no parts of witnessing Tante Marianne’s death or the suffocating presences Andreu swore lived inside the house.

Finally taking his eyes off his father’s coach, he rode on to his destination and hoped he wouldn’t be denied because of his age.

There were many things someone could always find in New Orleans: bar houses, brothels, police corruption and voodoo. Where he intended to go, two of those things will be at his taking if he so chose: prostitutes and tarot cards. He only hoped to be allowed through the front door. From what he and Andreu heard, the madam of the brothel never refused anyone, as long as they had the right amount of coins. He and Andreu had finally gotten up the courage to pay this brothel a visit, and that day had been today.

This made Edouard smile as Marie walked with strong legs that rocked some of Edouard's anxieties away. Andreu would not only miss this visit, he’ll be more than upset when he discovered Edouard had gone without him. When it came to tempers, Andreu’s made the rest of the family look like well-bred Roman Catholics. Their father had told them on many occasions that Andreu reminded him of his grandfather of the same name—the same man that the Orléonois of the city once called le fou (the Madman or the demented).

Throwing his head back, Edouard let out a laugh, then reached forward and rubbed Marie’s coat near her mane, because he remembered the day chickens had gotten out of the coop and chased slave children away. Andreu had only been six that day, but after one pecked his leg he turned with fists and boxed the chickens like unruly boys that needed a little bringing down. Their father had run closer and asked Andreu what he was doing. Hunting, Andreu had replied. Five chickens lay dead at his feet. For punishment he was forced to eat those chickens for breakfast, supper and dinner. It had taken him close to a week, because Edouard hadn’t been the only one sneaking Andreu venison and duck and succulent pieces of crab. It had become a game between the kids. While Andreu should have been eating only the treats everyone gave him in secret, his guilt kept a frown on his face as he took a mouthful of delicate meat then a mouthful of warmed over boiled chicken from a pot that stayed over a low fire so its contents didn't spoil. Even Tante Sarah had joined in the fun, and when the week had ended she had told their father none too gently that no chicken would don her dining room table for over the next month.

Memories like these flooded back as Edouard rode for close to an hour . Memories of all his siblings spending days fishing, and hunting ducks, and teaching each other how to ride, games of hide-and-seek that sometimes ventured inside of the maison and their father joining in.

In Tante Sarah’s home laughter could be heard loudly coming out of many rooms, especially on the days Désireé, who the family lovingly called Desie, and her man Cyril, and their son Constance, who the family lovingly called Connie, and Alise, who everyone young and old on the plantation called Mémère, would visit. There was never silence and only cheerful noises, even when the siblings were at odds, because Tante Sarah had a firm rule. Any yelling made in anger that person would be held down and tickled. Andreu got the worse of it, and although he hated it couldn’t help succumbing to fingers dancing lightly across the most sensitive parts of his skin.

The big fun was had on the days their father lost his temper. At his height, the children found it hard to bring him down to the floor without breaking furniture. While he’d still be in the midst of losing his temper, a servant would run out of the maison to the cabins of Desie and Cyril and Mémère. With patience the family would wait until an opportunity to bring Pierre down in one of the fields. As soon as the attack began, he would go down willingly, because any wild behavior on his end could hurt a son or daughter or his only grandson. Nearby slaves would stop what they were doing. Tante Sarah, Desie, Cyril and Mémère would hide between the trees with hands pressed against their clothing and tears of laughter weeping from their eyes, because although Pierre went down each time, he still rolled and rollicked and demanded it all to come to an end with threats of thrashings they all knew would never come about, but it was the size of him, seven-feet-tall and close to three-hundred pounds twisting in agony that made these moments all worthwhile. Afterwards, inside the maison everyone talked about it for months. Pierre didn’t say much, but occasional he would smile, but each time his daughter, Jurney, demonstrated his antics on the ground, unstoppable laughter began; servants would secretly listen from the halls or an opened French door, and no matter how many times Jurney acted out the scene more chants would be given for her to do it again.

Edouard stopped Marie and looked up. Killing Tante Sarah would make it all end; it would make it all go away. No one on the plantation hated Sarah Antoinette Cheval for stealing her sister’s husband. They loved her because on the Ashleywood plantation she had become a perfect fit, and as long as the plantation’s master loved her with no end, everyone had it easy, including the animals, including the land. It was a trick Edouard knew his mother could never pull off. From her, he’d learned that there were two types of people in the world: evil and good; of these two groups there was no in-between, because only a man with evil in him could do truly evil things.

He realized he had found the brothel well-hidden in a thick of trees where every man’s fantasy could be made into a reality. Coaches sat parked in the yard, more than a couple of dozen. The servants that had driven each coach sat on driver seats, waiting for their master’s return. The style of the coaches ranged from poor and rugged to exquisite in design and that some had traveled a distance to reach this location. Seeing the coaches made him believe that all he'd heard about this place had been true.

Right behind the coaches, posts had been planted for riders to tether their horses.

Edouard climbed down. A servant wearing a shirt and pants made from rough spun cloth hurried to him.

“I’s do it for ya, monsieur.”

The way the child spoke made Edouard proud. New Orléans started changing the day it landed in América’s hands and Américains started flooding in. The port made the city a good place for slave trading. Traders had also come to the city to make their mark in the world, and slaves for sale had started pouring in by way of boat and by foot, many of them domestic and Américain born, and having been brought down from the North. It was easy to tell these slaves apart from slaves native to the city from the way they spoke. In Creole households, slaves referred to their masters as monsieur and their mistresses as madame. Native born slaves also had their own personalized way they spoke French, because French remained the preferred and only spoken language among the Orléonois. So when a slave said words like ‘suh’ or ‘massa,’ it gave evidence that they were from somewhere else. The Creoles treated these slaves the same way they did Américains the moment these slaves opened their mouth.

Andreu reached into his pocket and flicked the boy a picayune. “Merci.”

The child caught the coin in a strong grip and gave a huge grin. “Merci beau coup, monsieur. Souhaitez-vous à moi de vous prendre à l'intérieur?”

The coin had bought more than his horse being taken care of while he remained inside. The boy had offered to give him a personal escort, although Andreu sensed this honor was being bestowed for the same reason he’d given the coin, because in these parts, Creole no longer meant French or white. It stood more and more each day for anyone who lived by the Creoles’ customs. This included the slaves and the gens de couleur that lived under the protection of their white families. In New Orléans, la famille es tout, which meant the family is all—everything— and black blood of any amount didn’t change this. In New Orléans, Creoles took care of Creoles, all Creoles, free or slave.

The boy tethered the mare, then walked ahead of him. As Edouard followed behind, he happened to look at the line of coaches, then for the third time found himself coming to a stop. The heat of the day made it impossible for anyone to sit inside a coach with a closed door. One door sat open and sitting on its step was a young woman with scars covering her face. One look in her direction and Edouard knew this was the girl his mother wished him to marry.

He walked away from the boy out of curiosity mostly. Surely, Virgine Vaughn had to have known what kind of house she sat in front of, but she had taken seat where anyone arriving could see her. According to his mother, Virgine never went out of her home without wearing a veil to cover her scars, but yet her face hadn’t been covered, and although her attire was suitable, she sat most unladylike by resting one of her leather boots on the step rather than having both of her feet touching the ground.

The more he drew near she became alert, and recognized him when he’d gotten close enough, although the two of them had never officially met before now. A reach of her hand pulled a veil out of the coach, but time didn’t permit her to secure it to her face, so she held it close to her mouth to leave her eyes free to see him.

The face he'd seen was hideously plain with soft eyes, but not soft enough to avoid how unattractive God had made her. The mouth was too small, her nose too sharp and long. The roundness of her face put him in mind of a fat pumpkin. Her hair was her best attribute, but one of the scars reached above her forehead and left a patch of shiny skin where hair would never grow again.

Expecting her to behave gently, his brows arched when she dropped the hand and the veil and let out the most cantankerous laugh he’d ever heard a woman give. Then the hand lifted and the veil shooed him away.

“I know what I look like, Edouard Jennings. I see my reflection every time I pass a looking glass. But to suffer the looks of the son whose mother is known to be a whore, I refuse to bear it. Go and join my father. There are plenty of scantless women waiting inside for boys like you as much as there are for lowborn men that work the port…”

“And there’s one in front of me,” he shot back. “A scantless woman, except no one wants to pay to look at a face like yours. You’re sitting like a man and not at all like a lady, but why are you sitting out here? Can it be you’re waiting for the boys who aren’t permitted inside, and if you are, wouldn't that make you a lowly paid whore?”

A wounded look came onto her face. Her laughter ended and her mouth pulled closed.

She averted her gaze, he knew, to hide her scars. The more her confidence dissolved, her shoulders deflated, and then unable to bear him looking at her a moment longer, she rose and climbed the step, then pulled the door closed.

He turned to loud voices coming out of the brothel. Her father, David Vaughn, had a young man by the collar, forcing him out into the yard. When they drew closer, Edouard realized that the young man was David Vaughn’s younger brother. Both had too many similarities in the face to think otherwise. Mr. Vaughn released the young man with a stern push, then stood upright, his eyes on Edouard surprised to see him standing there. And then Mr. Vaughn stared back at the brothel, then slowly at Edouard again. Grabbing the young man by the collar again, he pushed the man closer to his coach.

“You’re fourteen, Edouard. Surely, the Creole have some decorum in such matters? Or is it their custom to allow their young sons to visit whore houses?”

“On the contrary, Monsieur Vaughn,” Edouard answered. “In our culture, the mother or the father will arrange this moment for their son, but the women will always be the same. A prostituée to discourage their sons from falling in love, and on rare occasions we also make good use of young slave girls on our plantation or the plantations of our friends. I’m sure you’ve heard by now about our custom of a left-handed marriage. We call it a plaçage and the woman our placée. I hear you Américains do the same thing, except you offer no payment and none of your bastards are allowed to look upon or speak to you as their flesh and blood.”

David Vaughn’s large belly rose high as his lungs drew in a deep breath. The beard on his face, although it had been neatly trimmed, grew wild and hung well past his chin. The wealth he possessed didn’t show in his attire. The cloth was good enough, but Creoles preferred adornment, and Mr. Vaughn’s wardrobe didn’t have any. The suit looked well made but as plain in appearance as his daughter’s face. No silk decorated the hat on his head. The only embellishment Edouard noticed was the fancy chain of a watch that dangled out of a pocket.

“I have so heard,” he admitted, his stomach moving because he had spoken with force. “And it’s why I made your mother promise you would marry Virgine before you fell into such practices. My daughter will be your only wife. She will be the only woman who will bear your children. It’s the only way to insure you won’t live your life as your father has.”

“My father?” Edouard questioned, taking steps with his fists ready to swing. “Is an honorable man, monsieur. You’ll remember that the next time you speak of him in front of me.”

“And your mother? Is she not honorable?” Mr. Vaughn’s eyes squinted with malice that a child so young could speak to him in the fashion Edouard now did.

“There’s a scripture in the Bible that speaks solely about my mother,” Edouard answered. “The Devil is the father of all lies. According to my mother, it was my father who arranged the marriage between your daughter and me. Thanks for shedding light on the truth.”

Like the wind had gone from Virgine’s sails, it left her father’s just as quickly. For seconds he stood there not drawing a breath and his eyes in deep thought. Only then a second appraisal was given to Edouard, and then Mr. Vaughn did something Edouard hadn’t expected. He took a step closer and braced his hands on Edouard’s shoulders. “I’ve heard many rumors about your family, specifically your mother. I understand.” His voice lowered to a heated whisper. “Your mother thinks I’m only interested in her land. It’s not her land I’m after.” His eyes gazed back toward the coach, then forward again. “If you marry my daughter, I’m saving your life. Remember that as you go about this day.”

On those words he turned and stepped inside his coach.

His driver closed the door, then climbed inside his box and lifted the reins.

Edouard watched the coach roll tranquilly between the trees until it could no longer be seen.

Saving me, he repeated silently, then stared in the direction of the brothel. That’s what I’m doing too. That’s why I’m here, he realized.

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