Exclusive Excerpt from A Face without a Heart
by Rick R. Reed
Fog shrouds the streets near Lake Shore Drive. It rolls off the water from the lake, spreading like a virus. It’s a little after midnight on the eve of my thirty-eighth birthday. I suppose, more precisely, it is my thirty-eighth birthday. Spring around the corner. New beginnings. It’s been a new beginning for me now for seventeen years. Or at least to look at my face, that’s what one would think. Funny how the new and novel can grow trite and tiresome after a while.
I have tried, these years of my so-called adulthood, not to feel sorry for myself. How many others would kill to be in the position I find myself… perpetual youth and beauty. Ah, what could you do with that? It sets the brain synapses to firing, the fantasies to spinning. Isn’t it pretty to think so?
I don’t want to bemoan my situation. It has opened doors for me, but behind each door lurks a relentless darkness… a darkness, I fear, that would swallow me whole. Yet sometimes the prospect of that is tempting.
Everything tingles this frost-cloaked night. Tonight my veins have been shot full of heroin, my throat has admitted several tabs of Seven, and my nostrils have snorted up crystal meth… all of this washed down with vodka. I have consumed enough drugs and alcohol to kill another man, to at least make of him a withered creature, old beyond his years; yet I live on, robust, red-cheeked, the picture of youthful good health. Did I say picture?
The evening has been spent in revels. My new friends, an artsy crowd of college kids in Wicker Park, have thrown me a huge party, which I suppose raves on even now. It won’t run out of steam until tomorrow afternoon.
I always have a steady supply of new friends. Sooner or later, everyone falls away, either from envy or frustration at not being able to figure out my secret. Know me for a few years, and my handsomeness becomes monstrous.
Of course, Henrietta has stood by me. And after a fashion, Liam. I believe they both know my “beauty secret,” but it would cause a tad bit too much cognitive dissonance to swallow that line whole. Knowledge and acceptance are often two very different things. My “beauty secret” is the kind of thing that happens only in Victorian novels, not in the Chicago of the new millennium. So Henrietta and Liam do what many of us do when presented with mystery, with the inexplicable—ignore it, pretend it isn’t there.
My footfalls echo on the pavement. The towers of the city rise above me, and I feel alone. That feeling of singularity, of being one of a kind, follows me these days wherever I go. I am seldom able to forget that I am apart from the rest of the human race. I have plied myself with every kind of drug out there, and yet the best I can hope for is a temporary oblivion. It’s quiet here on the Gold Coast. A warm yellow light in a window high up serves only to make me feel less a part of the beehive swarming silently above me. The only sounds are the crash of the waves, the rush of traffic on the drive.
The evening of debauchery and revelry comes back to me in bits and pieces. The partying has left my nerves jangling, a teeth-grinding kind of restlessness that does nothing to combat my despair.
About A Face without a Heart
A modern-day and thought-provoking retelling of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray that esteemed horror magazine Fangoria called “…a book that is brutally honest with its reader and doesn’t flinch in the areas where Wilde had to look away…. A rarity: a really well-done update that’s as good as its source material.”
A beautiful young man bargains his soul away to remain young and handsome forever, while his holographic portrait mirrors his aging and decay and reflects every sin and each nightmarish step deeper into depravity… even cold-blooded murder. Prepare yourself for a compelling tour of the darkest sides of greed, lust, addiction, and violence.
Available at: Amazon
About Rick R. Reed
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love.
He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.”
Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”
As part of this blog tour, Rick is giving away an eBook of Third Eye or A Demon Inside!! To enter, just click the link below!
Please be aware that the only way to enter the giveaway is to click the Rafflecopter link above. Any comments on this post will not count towards entering the giveaway unless otherwise stated but are still welcome anyway.