A third Pulling the Rug collection from Jane Jago. From vengeance and dark deeds to love and happy ever after, this little collection of short fiction and verse celebrates the diversity of the human spirit.
Excerpt from a story entitled Columbine
Carnival, the night when the unrestrained appetites of the barrios would come leaping and prancing up the cobbled alleys into the very heart of to the city. The night when the fountains in even the meanest streets would run blood-red with wine, and masked women in diaphanous dominos would flirt with danger under sulphurous lanterns.
Papa Ouedo always leads the dance, with his huge bare feet slapping out a staccato rhythm on the hot stones and his face painted as white as chalk. Behind him, the boys and girls of the samba schools strut and posture – their semi-naked bodies slick with sweat and other effluvia.
On this one night of the year, when the sky is lit by a million shooting stars, and the city by a thousand hissing gas lamps, the dancers will come right into the Piazza del Innocenti, polluting the atmosphere with their raucous music and the acrid aromas of sweat and sex.
Like every year since time immemorial, the balconies around the great square are set to be packed with the wealthy and aristocratic citizenry, who have their own traditions of lechery and gluttony to uphold as they celebrate Carnival in the safety of their marble-walled palaces.
When the music was at its hottest and most demanding, a small figure slipped unnoticed through the servants’ door of the noblest of all the noble houses. She was dressed as Columbine, in clinging cloud-grey draperies of the finest silk, and masked in exquisite feathers of black and white through which her eyes shone like blue diamonds. All she knew was that He would be dressed as Harlequin, and He would know her as she knew Him. Her heart pounded with some little fear, as it was dangerous to be out alone on any night, even here in the pampered streets of the uber-wealthy, but tonight it was pure insanity for a gently-bred virgin to be under the faraway sky. She knew this just as surely as she knew her own name, but it very quickly came not to matter. The music and the danger, and the sounds and scents of Carnival filled her blood like the bubbles in her father’s oldest champagne – and she felt alive.
Three other people you can expect to meet in the book.
- Sam Nero, private eye, and denizen of the last city in the galaxy. This tough guy models himself on the famous detectives of 1930s cinema noir and is ably assisted by a platinum blonde bombshell by the name of Sugar Kane
- The Night Librarian, a young woman who has charge of a vast collection of sentient books – during the night when anything can happen.
- Anna Catiash, sky painter. Anna paints the sunsets that enliven the artificial sky of a domed city somewhere far away.
Jane Jago is an eccentric genre-hopping pensioner, who writes for the sheer enjoyment of the craft and gets in terrible trouble because of her attitude.