Is it Snippet Sunday again? Already?
This week I’m going to inflict more abuse on your poor eyeballs in the form of a chunk of an untitled, unfinished story about Lukas Kalt, who appears in Menyoral as both older Squire and newly-minted Junior. He’s in Hard Time, and I really wanted to find out more about him. I liked this scene, in which a thirteen-year-old Lukas reveals something about himself to Vandis, and I liked it a lot because I feel I caught Vandis’s character well: rough, but well-spoken and preachy (it is his job, after all).
As always with Vandis, here lie dirty words.
He ducked through the shaggy pines to get into Vandis’s camp. There was a stewpot on the fire, giving off an unholy stink, sour with burning garlic.
“Excuse me,” Lukas began, but Vandis had gestured him toward a folding stool with faded stripes of blue and green on the seat.
“Sit,” Vandis said, but it was too close to the fire, to the smell of the pot. Lukas felt sick already.
Shakily, he said, “I’ll stand, thank you.”
“If you want to.” Eyes the color of a storm pierced him from under thick salt-and-pepper brows. “It’s Lukas, right? Lukas Kalt.”
“Vandis.” And he stuffed his mouth with a huge bite of stew.
Vandis nodded and lifted those brows at Lukas: go on.
Faced with a man who seemed much bigger face-to-face than he ought—a short hard wall of muscle and a granite face, shadow and light playing with the nostrils in his big hooked nose—Lukas felt his tongue cling to the roof of his dry mouth. He couldn’t look masculine, grizzled Vandis Vail in the eye and say he wanted to sleep with other boys.
It was forever before Vandis finished chewing. Lukas was on the point of flight when he swallowed and said, “Whatever it is you have to tell me, I’ve heard a hell of a lot worse. Spill it so we can both get back to our lives.”
“I’m a faggot,” Lukas said, now or never.
“No you’re not.”
He blinked. “Yes I am. I don’t like girls.”
“You aren’t attracted to girls. There’s a difference.”
“You just said I’m not a faggot.”
“That is correct.”
“But I am! I’m—attracted to boys. Like you said.” Lukas spread his arms. “I don’t understand what you want from me!”
Vandis set down his bowl and propped his forearms on his thighs. “I want you to watch your fucking language. That’s an ugly word used by ugly people to try to distract from their own ugliness. You will not use it to describe yourself, or anyone else, in my presence.”
“But you just—” Lukas cut himself off and sat down hard, clasping his head in both hands. He couldn’t possibly work this out standing.
“I know. I said a rude word.” Vandis grinned hugely. “‘Fucking.’ Got your attention, didn’t it? But there’s a difference, a whole world. ‘Faggot,’ that’s a hate word. Do you hate yourself?”
“I don’t see anything to hate.”
Try it from the inside, Lukas thought, but he looked at the ground instead of saying it.
“Yeah, I know. I’ve been thirteen.” The Head of the Knights waved it aside. “Point I’m trying to make is, the more you talk hate, the easier it is to think hate. Don’t fuck yourself over with your words.”
His mouth shaped ‘oh,’ but no sound came out.
I hope you’ll let me know what you think! Fair winds to you.