Saturday, 5 November 2016



Chapter 2

A  donkey is being led up a long, winding and dusty track towards a large building at the very top of a sun baked rise. The animal, which is making slow progress, is laden with two barrels strapped to a frame that sits like a saddle across its back . The building is surrounded by large trees which cast a cooling shade over the courtyard.
Dante Gabriele pulls impatiently at the bridle rope in an effort to speed up the small beast, but his efforts produce no response.  The donkey neither speeds up nor slows down. A  smile plays across Dante’s face.  He knows this animal well and  knows that it will continue at its own pace or not at all.
Dante, at eighteen, is tall, lightly muscled and deeply tanned; his face is topped by a shock of dark curly hair and his almost handsome face is noticeable mainly for his bright blue eyes, an uncommon feature in this part of Southern Italy.
He pulls gently at the donkey’s ears.
“Alright, Tessy.  Take your time.  Nobody wants to get out of this sun and into that shade.”
He leans closer and whispers in an ear, “And nobody wants to plunge its furry old face into that water trough! So, don’t hurry.”
The animal grunts, almost to itself, and slightly increases  its pace. Dante laughs out loud.
“You are a very perverse creature, Tessy.  You would make a good woman.”
The pair continue on their slow hot journey and eventually reach their destination,  entering the courtyard of a large country inn and way station. The yard is cobbled and Tessy’s hooves make a clattering noise as she smells the water trough and  resolutely heads for it.
Their arrival is noted by a large man whose stomach is covered by a stained apron.  He pulls aside a beaded curtain over a door in the corner of the yard, above which is a sign proclaiming it to be the entrance to the kitchen. He watches as Dante begins to unstrap the two barrels from the donkey’s back.
Angelo Nadalini, owner and chief cook at the inn, pulls aside the curtain and quietly steps out into the courtyard.  He watches for a moment or two as Dante struggles to lower the barrels to the ground. When he  is certain that no more effort will be needed, he speaks.
“Dante, you should have called for me. I could have helped you.”
Taking a cotton handkerchief from his pocket, Dante wipes the sweat from his brow before answering.
“Signor Nadalini, how kind of you.”
There is a slight hint of sarcasm as he continues, “I didn’t want to disturb you. I know you are busy man.”
He waves his hand to indicate the empty stable stalls.
 “Running this large busy inn, horses to groom, travellers to feed.”
Signor Nadalini deliberately misses the sarcasm as he wipes a hand across his bald head and smiles at Dante.
“And taking delivery of your mother’s fine olive oil, best in the region.”
He waves towards the kitchen door.
“Bring them in when you have recovered.”
He turns to go then stops and looks back.  
“By the way….”
He hesitates and mumbles, “…your room.”
Dante looks at him.
“You can’t have it. It’s taken.”
Dante slowly takes this in as he looks at the empty stables. He turns back to Angelo who has swiftly disappeared back into kitchen and sprints after him.
    The kitchen is large and surprisingly busy with several cooks preparing various dishes. Angelo is now at the far end and is seemingly engrossed tasting a sauce with  two white hatted assistants. Dante bounds through the door and immediately spots him. Angrily pushing his way between the cooks and Angelo, he thrusts his face close to the innkeeper’s.
“There is not a horse or carriage in the yard. Why can’t I have my room. It is in the price for the oil.”
Angelo tries to move past him but Dante blocks his way.
 “We are full. There is a large group arriving tonight. Musicians, on their way to Rome. I need every room.”
Dante raises his voice indignantly.
“I always stay here. I cannot get back home tonight.”
Angelo is becoming annoyed at having to deal with this  irritating young man.
“You can stay in the barn. This group is very important and they pay more than you do.”
He turns away but Dante tugs at his shirt sleeve.
“You mean you have raised the prices for them?”
Angelo lowers his voice when he sees the kitchen staff beginning to take notice.
“Good business, that’s all. You can stay in the barn for free.”
He brusquely pulls Dante’s hand from his shirt and returns to tasting the sauce.
Now quietly angry, Dante begins to talk in a very loud voice to Angelo’s back.  The man completely ignores him.
“Thank you very much, Signor Nadalini.  My companion, my donkey,  and I are overwhelmed by your generosity.  A nice vermin infested  barn to sleep in. How gracious of you.”
 As he says this he begins to bow from the waist and  moves backwards towards the kitchen door,  much to the amusement of the kitchen staff.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Books by RJ Dodd

The Fiddler
The Stack
The writer
Magintys writer
The Unknowns...soon to be published..

all available on amazon.....worldwide.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

The Fiddler by RJ Dodd

Chapter One

Venice in the late 1700s

The Captain’s quarters on the galleon are spacious; a wide cabin bed is at one side and comfortable upholstered chairs are placed around the room. In front of the many paned stern windows is a large table covered with sea charts held in place with the help of crystal decanters.
The cabin is quite dark and two oil lamps swing gently on their gimbals as the vessel moves slightly against the wharf side. The light from the lamps casts a glow on a blindfolded woman hanging by her wrists from one of the solid oak beams that stretch across the cabin. Her legs are tied at the ankles. Tears trickle down from under the stained white blindfold as she feebly struggles against her bindings.
Her soft sobs are slightly drowned out by the  noise of the rigging slapping in the gentle breeze and the plaintive sounds of a distant violin playing a  mournful tune.
The main cabin door suddenly opens and three men enter. Two of them are dusky skinned and wearing tightly wound turbans and long cloaks; the third man is shabbily dressed in an over-sized frock coat and striped silk breeches. His silver buckled shoes are missing a buckle.
Casually they approach their captive and slowly walk around her. The woman is aware of their presence and still sobbing quietly she slumps a little in her bindings.
The taller of the turbaned men moves a little closer to her and sniffs the air.
“Is she clean?”
The man in the striped breeches gives a little snort.
“Fresh from the tub. Gave her a little scrub meself…… just to make sure she was absolutely in prime condition, of course!”
Without saying anything further, the taller man slips a long bladed dagger from the folds of his cloak and moves closer to the woman who is now visibly shivering with fright. As he nears, he pulls at a slender metal chain that hangs from her neck.  At the end of it is a little silver crucifix.  With one swift tug the chain breaks and he throws it into a corner.
“You won’t need that where you are going.”
Carefully inserting the blade in the cuff of her thick grey woollen dress, he swiftly slashes the sleeve open. The woman whimpers and sags a little more. The other sleeve is cut open the same way.
The other two men take a little step back as the blade is slipped under the high collar of her dress.  With one swift downward stroke the dress slides off and falls in a pile at the woman’s feet.
Now completely bare and bursting into loud sobs, she tries to hide her nakedness by twisting to one side as much as she can.
All three men take their time in looking at her as she tries to move her slim and full breasted body away from their gaze.
“What do you think then?”
 “One or two minor imperfections, but she will suit the  purpose.”
The tall man takes a breast in one hand, squeezing and fondling it. This brings more desperate sobs from the woman.
“How old?”
“The vendor says twenty years, and a virgin.”
“The price is fixed.” The tall man hesitates a moment and asks,  “Any connections?”
“None.  Abandoned as a child.”
“Good, now leave me alone.  There are some things I must do.”
Without a word, the two other men move across to the door and step outside into the passage way.
Closing the door behind them, the small man addresses the man with the turban.
“What is he doing?”
The man merely looks at him but makes no attempt to answer.
The sound of the violin is louder out in the passage way but it is not loud enough to cover the short scream that comes from the Captain’s cabin.
A few moments later the tall man steps out, closing the door behind him. He wipes his hands on a silken cloth which he then drops on the floor .
As he walks past the two men, he says to his companion, “Pay him.”  Then rapidly adds, “We need more like that one; same price.”
    The little man almost stammers in his excitement.
“That will not be a problem, Excellency. There is an endless supply.”
“Good. Now get off the vessel.  We sail on the turn of the tide. I will contact you when we return.” 
He steps back into the cabin while the other turbaned man pulls a large leather bag from a corner and opens it.
There is a clinking of glass as the trader reaches in to examine the contents.