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MacBeth: the Sequel: scene one
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Hi All

 To give everyone a taste of what I write, I've added a scene from one of my published stories. You can read the rest of the story and more in a collection called Humorous Yarns and Other stuff. It's available on Smashwords and it's a free download.

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MACBETH: THE SEQUEL

(Originally published in Written Word, December 2010.  Also published in my Tunnel Vision, a collection of twenty of my previously published short stories.)

 

(Author's note: I love using Shakespeare's plots and characters.)

Agatha opened the door to the Grubby Shoat.  She paused, and, while her eyes adjusted to the gloom, a gust of wind blew a squall of rain through the door.  Despite the fog of candle and fire smoke, she saw the elderly barkeeper turn pale.  “Be at ease, old man.  We seek more virile prey.”

She waddled to the bar, a roughhewn plank set on empty barrels.  The water dripping from her hooded cloak left a wet trail on the moldy rushes covering the dirt floor.  The mildew stench from the rushes mingled with the odor of fetid ale to produce a miasmic bouquet.

She spotted five village men sitting on a bench.  Exactly what she hoped to find, a flock of potential bed partners.  The men sucked in their breath when they saw her, but she refused to let their reaction dampen her excitement.

When Bertha and Carla -- her sisters -- entered the tavern, a collective groan came from the table.  One of the men jerked his knee, kicking the rickety table in front of the bench and scattered their leather ale cups.  

Agatha opened her cloak.  Underneath, she wore a dark kirtle a few sizes too small for her ample thighs and stomach.  The men sobbed

Bertha smiled at the table.  “Some of you lads will have an unforgettable experience tonight.”  She and Carla opened their cloaks.  Both were dressed similarly to their sister.

Agatha ignored the panicky response to Bertha’s announcement.  Men always looked like doomed cattle when the sisters were on the hunt.  She didn’t understand the reaction, but assumed it was quite natural.

“Good eve, Sisters Wyrd.”  Having regained his composure, the elderly man behind the plank nodded to them.  “What can I serve you?” 

“A round of mead with raw eggs on top,” Agatha replied.

“’Tis a celebration.”  Carla, a svelte two hundred pounds and the thinnest of the three, grinned at the old man.

“Aye, a great day.”  Bertha leaned on the plank, bending it into a deep arc.

The barkeeper watched the plank with a look of alarm.

“We avenged an insult to our Granny,” Bertha added.

“You witches talk in riddles.  I do not ken your meaning.”

“When Granny learned that Malcolm had killed MacBeth and was now king,” Agatha said, “her coronation gift was an offer to become his Royal Sorceress.”

“And the fool rebuffed her,” Carla said.  In the fashion of the younger witches, she had let her nasal hairs grow long enough to braid.  “An insult to all witches and even Hecate, our goddess.”

“Men are simple in the brain, methinks.” Agatha shook her head at the unfathomable ways of men.  “Granny is not as pert as we three, but she’s no beldam and would have graced the royal court.  The king now regrets his refusal.”

“Aye, you should have seen the look on Malcolm’s face.”  Bertha gave the barkeeper a gapped-tooth grin.  The man shuddered.  Once a week, Bertha used a herbal cream that made warts grow.  She had a fat, cucumber-colored one on the tip of a beak-like nose and a smaller, amber one on her left cheek.  She called them beauty spots.

“Dark of mien, he was,” Carla said.

“What did you do?”  The barkeeper placed the drinks on the plank.

“We placed a powerful curse on Malcolm and his spawn.”  Carla held a hand over her mouth as she cackled.

Agatha clapped Bertha on the shoulder, splattering water from her soggy cloak.

“Is the curse secret?”

“Nay.  One of the Malcolm’s descendants will be the first married man to leave a toilet seat standing,” Bertha said and giggled.

“What’s a toilet seat?”  The old man gave them a questioning look.

“’Tis a mystery and beyond the ken of all here.”  Agatha hugged herself in joy.  “And so, my pretties and I want to celebrate and have a bit of fun.”  She hefted her mug, took a sip, and savored the sweetness of the mead for a moment before swallowing.

“What’s next?” Carla said.  “This lot doesn’t appear very interested in us.”  She jerked a thumb over her shoulder in the direction of the men.

“I’ll offer them a choice and then they’ll show some interest.”  Bertha winked at her younger sister.  

“Prithee, what choice?” Carla asked.

“Watch.”  Bertha turned to the table and swiveled her hips.

The men, woodcutters and swine herders, were young, but looked middle-aged, worn down from work, poor food and disease.  They shifted in their seats and glanced at one another.  Two had trouble breathing. 

“What will it be, laddies?”  Bertha batted her eyes.  “Pleasure . . . or pain?”

“Pain.”

“Me too.”

“I can use a bit of pain.”

“Pain, if you don’t mind.”

“What are the choices again?”

Bertha scowled and tossed her head.  A small twig fell out of her brown locks.

Agatha suspected their plans for the night had gone awry, as usual.

The barkeeper shook his head.  “It takes a rare talent to be an unsuccessful slut.”

“How would you like to spend the rest of your days as a toad?”  Bertha glared at the man.

“What news, old man?”  Agatha change subjects before Bertha did something rash like casting a spell.  She wasn’t the sharpest spell-caster in the family and could easily set the place on fire by mistake.

“A monster has appeared by the village in the loch.  And the fisherfolk refuse to go out on the water.”

One of the men at the table approached the sisters.  He trembled as he said, “What does this portend, oh Sisters Drearie?”

“Drearie, is it?”  Bertha boxed the man’s ears.  “It means Nessie has finally molted and now wants to play.”

The man retreated.

“Nessie is Hecate’s pet monster,” Carla said to the innkeeper.  “Hecate gave it into my care on my fifth birthday.  It was a wee tadpole and she charged me to raise it and protect it.  I loosed it in the loch last year.”

“The Laird of the Loch has vowed to kill the monster,” the barkeeper said.

“Kill Nessie?”  Carla scowled at the man.  “How dare he threaten a defenseless pet.”

Agatha gasped.  If something happened to Nessie, Hecate would hold the sisters responsible because of her charge to Carla.  She would be in no mood to listen to explanations or excuses, and her retribution would be harsh.  This Laird of the Loch had to be stopped before he imperiled their safety.  “We must hasten to the loch to see what is amiss.”

“Bah!” Bertha exclaimed.  “Every time we try to lose our virginity, something comes up.”

“Hah!” Carla scoffed.  “Our maidenheads are intact because nothing ever comes up.”

Bertha heard merriment, wheeled on the peasants.  “See if you think being cockroaches is funny.”  She extended her hand.

The men dove under the table just as their leather cups turned into flower vases.

“Oh, bugger this.”  Bertha placed both hands on her hips and stamped her foot.

“Attend me!” Agatha said.  “Let us fetch our brooms and fly to the village and see what is amiss.”

“Aroint thee.”  Carla sneered.  “I hate flying at night.  I always get lost.”

“If you had memorized the star charts you wouldn’t get lost.”  Agatha wagged a finger under Carla’s nose.  “And we must go to the loch before something happens to Nessie.”

“And how do we see the stars on a rainy night?”  Carla’s voice dripped with sarcasm.

“We shall use landmarks tonight.  Follow close behind me.”

“But, Nessie is Hecate’s pet,” Bertha whined.  “Why do we have to fly to its aid?”

“Hecate placed it under Carla’s protection.  The Goddess will hold us accountable and will cause us grief.”

“The fisherfolk are lusty lads,” one of the men said.

“Aye,” another said, “randy they are.”

“Insatiable, I hear,” said a third.

As she left, Agatha heard the men guffaw and slap each other on the back.