Friday, October 19, 2012

Excerpt from The Book of Paul by Richard Long


Saint Patrick’s

Paul bumped his shoulders into as many of the hustle-bustlers choking the aircraft-carrier width of Fifth Avenue in front of St. Paddy’s as he possibly could. Bump. Wump. It was morning rush hour on the sidewalk, and some of the more pissed-off jostled pedestrians gave him the old “ fists clenched like they’re really going do something” look. A few of the ballsier women gave him the old “Hey, watch where you’re going!” shout of indignation. Once they got a load of Paul, they kept on walking.
Paul looks even scarier than he is, if that’s possible. He has that longshoreman, teamster, biker,  ’Nam-Vet, might-be-homeless, might-be-crazy, definitely-dangerous look down to such a T that the entire crowd would have collectively walked across the street to avoid him if they had seen him coming. Wump. Bump. Too late.
Paul walked up the cathedral stairs in his big clunky boots, making as much noise as he could with each thudding step. Whomp. Clomp. He went out of his way to thud into two more tourists on their way out the massive bronze doors, quickly erasing their “Wow, what a great big fancy place!” grins with twin shakes of their heads that said, “See, it really is true what they say about these goddamn New Yorkers!”
Paul sneered with equal contempt. People. Can’t live with ’em…can’t kill all of ’em.
He paused in the vestibule to soak in the candlelit, incense drenched air and gulped down as much of the musky scent as he could manage. He stuck his bald fingertips into the Holy Water and half-expected to hear it hiss and bubble. It was crowded today, as he expected. The altar was draped in purple. There were flowers everywhere. He made the sign of the cross, gave an inch-deep genuflection and clomped down the center aisle to his regular seat, a pew three rows from the front on the left-hand side.
Someone was sitting there. Paul took a deep breath and stared down at the small gray-haired lady, with her white lace shawl and black shiny rosary beads. She didn’t seem to notice. Her tightly combed bun and happy-sad, creamy-puffy cheeks were bobbing rhythmically in deep prayer, her lips moving in a whispery quiver, mouthing out the time-honored blur of sound that passes for The Hail Mary in marathon rosary specialists:
“HailMaryfullagracetheLordiswitheeblessdrthouamongwomenanblessdisthafruitathywombJesusHolyMaryMothaGodprayforusinnersnowanatthehourofourdeathamen.” Pause. Repeat.
Paul was having none of it. “That’s my seat,” he rumbled in a low, raspy grunt that only a gawking T-shirt-clad couple walking down the aisle took any notice of. They quickly rolled their eyes and waddled away, but the little old lady, her eyes seemingly welded shut, showed no sign of acknowledgment whatsoever and wheezed in enough wind to motor her way through another black bead.
Paul stuck a chisel-hard finger in the square of her hunched back and pressed it in like a fleshy harpoon. “Ow!” she said, her eyes fluttering open in fear and dumb surprise.
“That’s my seat,” Paul repeated.
The poor sweet frightened lady was torn between feelings of fear, rage, shock and disbelief. She felt like running, but her fear and proud anger kept her rooted on the spot. “No sir, this is my seat,” she finally managed to croak with all the courage she could muster, her voice trembling like a butterfly’s wings.
“Darlin’, you can move now or I’ll wait here all day and then follow you home.”
She moved. But only enough so Paul could sit next to her.
“Hhmmph!” Paul hmphed with more admiration than he cared to admit. He scrunched his beefy bulk up snug against the still-trembling saint and gave her a shy smile and sidelong glance as he humbly lowered his head, knelt down and clasped his hands in pious prayer.
“Dear God,” he began, muttering in a barely audible voice. Barely audible that is, to anyone except the shrunken figure next to him, who twitched with fear at the sound of it.
“Dear Gawd,” he repeated, louder this time, his brogue more exaggerated than ever, hoping to get another rise out of her. She was steadier this time as he continued, “Bless da little bunnies in the forest and all da hungry children wit doze great big bellies over dere in Africa that doan have all dis yummy good food we have over here like da Ray’s pizza and da Slim Jims and da tater chips and da big tick juicy steaks you can cook up in yer nice warm oven by da fridge. And bless all da kiddies here too dat be suckin’ on da crack pipes all day long. And damn their dirty feckin’ parents all to hell dat send ’em out to live on the streets and fend for demselves while dey sit at home and suck on their own crack pipes and watch da telly an’ tink up more nasty ways dat dey can get more money to neglect deir little babies wit. And bless all the poor Mick cops dat have to put up with all dis stinkin’ filth and shit and hopelessness so dat it’s no wonder dat dey doan just go out and gun down every last stinkin’ one of dem. And most of all…bless poor dear Martin who’s gone and turned away from his lovin’ da for the sake of a dwarf harlot dat’s got him all mixed up in da head so dat now wit da hour of reckonin’ near, it seems I’ve but one last chance to convince him of da error of his ways, else I’ll be left with no other choice dan to take him out behind da shed and put him down like a dirty mongrel dog, amen.”
Paul let out a deep, long sigh and slowly opened his eyes, still keeping his head bowed and his hands folded. He looked at the cross and the poor sad Christ with all the beautiful red dripping holes in his hands and feet. “Tsk. Tsk. Such a shame about that,” he sighed, shaking his head. “If only you’d listened, we could have spared you all that misery. And you ours.”
He slumped back into his pew and gave his murmuring partner a warm crinkly smile as he listened to her mumbled prayers that were faster and more urgent than ever. He watched her pray for a long time, sitting motionless, smiling while her eyelids fluttered open from time to time to make sure he was still there with her.
“You’re a good ole bitch, grandma,” Paul said, nudging the old lady in the ribs with an elbow of genuine kinship.
Her eyes snapped open, filled with a little less fear this time. She was about to speak when Paul held a thick fat finger to her old wrinkled lips and said, “Shhhhh…don’t tax your sweet breath, my darlin’, you’ll be needin’ it for that next round of Hail Marys.” 
She opened her mouth to speak again, but then her face froze in place when she saw the nail was missing from Paul’s still poised fingertip. “Say a little prayer for me, sweetie,” he whispered in his perfect Irish lilt, “and say a great big one for Martin.”
Then he pinched her cheek, made the sign of the cross, stood up and walked away.

Get The Book of Paul on Amazon

"Never alive...and never dead."

In the rubble-strewn wasteland of Alphabet City, a squalid tenement conceals a treasure "beyond all imagining"--an immaculately preserved, fifth century codex. The sole repository of ancient Hermetic lore, it contains the authentic alchemical rituals for transforming thought into substance, transmuting matter at will...and attaining eternal life.

When a lusty, East Village tattoo artist has a torrid encounter with a battle-hardened loner, they are overwhelmed by the intensity of their feelings. Rose and Martin soon discover they are unwitting pawns on opposing sides of a battle that has shaped the course of human history. At the center of the conflict is Paul, the villainous overlord of an underground feudal society, who guards the book's occult secrets in preparation for the fulfillment of an apocalyptic prophecy.

The action is relentless as Martin and Rose fight to escape Paul's clutches and Martin's destiny as the chosen recipient of Paul's sinister legacy. Science and magic, mythology and technology converge in a monumental battle where the stakes couldn't be higher: control of the ultimate power in the universe--the Maelstrom.

The Book of Paul is the first of seven volumes in a sweeping mythological narrative tracing the mystical connections between Hermes Trismegistus in ancient Egypt, Sophia, the female counterpart of Christ, and the Celtic druids of Clan Kelly.

About the Author

Richard Long writes to exorcize the demons of his past and manifest the dreams of his future. 
His debut novel, The Book of Paul, is a dark, thrilling, and psychologically rich supernatural horror/thriller that blends mythology, science and mystery into a page-turning addiction. 
Richard is also writing a YA novel, The Dream Palace, primarily so that his children can read his books. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, two amazing children and their wicked black cat, Merlin. Learn more about him at http://TheBookofPaul.com
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