Bedtime Stories (Anthology) and A New Twist on an Old Tale
by B. Snow
Thanks very much to The Blogger Girls for giving me the chance to talk about Bedtime Stories, which came out this past Wednesday! When Anna Martin contacted me about being part of an anthology with a few other authors, I thought she’d made a mistake, but no, she’d read my story in Cross Bones (Dreamspinner Press, 2011) and liked it. I haven’t actually read the other stories in the anthology yet, so I have no idea what they’re about, but mine is a combination of a couple of story ideas I’ve had floating around my head – a father who falls in love with his kid’s babysitter, and a guy who really, truly, honestly does not know he is gay.
I should probably post an excerpt of that story because that’s why I’m guest blogging, but I have something different in mind for this post.
Last month when I was at Prism Book Alliance to talk about the Project Fierce Chicago anthology, which benefits Project Fierce Chicago, I offered up a synopsis of Cinderedgar, i.e. the Cinderella story if it were about gay guys. At that time, I asked for suggestions for the next gay retelling of a fairy tale, and a commenter named Allison suggested “Beauty and the Beast”.
I started thinking about what I knew of the story and how it would translate to two men. A story jumped into my head, but it’s much darker than the fun, flirty Cinderedgar. It’s about a young man who was born with every advantage. (I don’t know his name yet, so let’s call him “Y”.) Y’s parents were wealthy and good-looking, and in time Y grew up to be very handsome and ready to enjoy his family’s money. He and his friends would go from club to club in the evenings, taking their pick of the best-looking men, to enjoy in back rooms or to take home for the night.
Their dalliances never lasted long; Y grew bored easily and didn’t mind if it took a couple hundred bucks to get the entertainment to leave. If said entertainment complained – or worse, professed any sort of emotional attachment to Y – household security would arrive within seconds of being called, ready to remove any unwanted items from Y’s suite of rooms.
Y never considered that his actions might be cold or cruel; he was twenty-five years old, gorgeous, still in his sexual prime. Men lined up for a chance to suck Y’s dick or to have him plow their asses. He was doing them a favor. If they didn’t like it, they could go find someone with a lower attractiveness quotient.
One night Y and his friends decide to go slumming. They walk into an older gay bar, very different from the flashy clubs they’re used to. The room goes quiet, and Y preens, knowing that all eyes are on him. He struts the length of the room, calling out how each customer offends him: “Old, old, fat, old, too hairy, bad skin, bad teeth, get a nose job,” and so on, his friends laughing uncontrollably, until he gets to an old man leaning on a cane.
“I don’t even know where to begin,” the old man says. “Maybe manners, first.”
“What are you talking about? God, I hope I die before I get as old and ugly as you,” Y sneers.
“You’ll see.” The old man pulls the lavender carnation from his lapel and offers it to Y.
Y slaps it out of his hand. His friends laugh again and then they pull Y out of the bar, complaining about the smells and the people.
The next morning when Y wakes up, he can’t move at first. His legs and arms feel strange, and he starts to panic, thinking he’s had a stroke. He manages to roll onto his side and push himself up, and that’s when he sees what’s happened. Somehow, overnight, he has gained a good fifty pounds. There’s a heavy layer of flesh all over his body that wasn’t there the night before, and where his six-pack used to be, now there’s a keg. He heaves himself out of bed and hurries to the bathroom, a scream building in his throat. It escapes when he sees his face now neatly divided – the top half covered with acne, the bottom half, with a thick, dark beard. Another scream as he grabs at the top of his head where wavy blond hair used to be. Now it’s a shiny, bald pate. It’s as if his hair darkened and migrated to – oh, dear God – his shoulders. And back!
His screams bring household security, who draw their guns on the apparent stranger in the house, then his friends and parents, who cannot hide their revulsion. Once everyone has calmed down and accepted (however difficult it may be) that this….creature….is indeed Y, they leave him. His friends can’t look at him without disgust. His parents escape with the excuse of hiring a private investigator to get to the bottom of this. After they go, Y crawls back into bed, sobbing. There, he finds a lavender carnation. He slaps himself in the face several times, trying to wake himself up from what has to be a horrible nightmare, but eventually he has to admit that it’s all real.
After borrowing some clothes from the gardener (his own no longer fit), he has his driver take him back to the bar from the previous night. The old man is there. In his lapel is another lavender carnation, a twin to the one Y is grinding to pieces in his fist.
“You did this to me!” Y screams at him.
“Yes,” the man answers.
Y goes silent. He didn’t really think any of this was real. He’d hoped he was hallucinating. But somehow it was real, and the old man was responsible. He swings his fist and catches nothing but air.
Now the old man is across the room. “You should be more careful who you piss off,” he tells Y. “I decided to teach you a lesson by turning you into everything you hate. You can continue to hate men who are fat or hairy or ugly – all by your standards, mind you – or you can grow up and see beyond the physical. The choice is yours.”
“I’ll kill you!”
“You’re welcome to try,” the man says, smiling. “But if I were you, I’d concentrate on breaking this curse.”
Those words stop Y. “How do I do that?”
“By learning to love yourself, and getting someone else to love you.”
Y snorts. “Fine. I’ll work out, take the weight off, wax this gross shit off my back. It’ll be like before. I loved myself, and everyone else loved me, too.”
“Young man, you could not be more wrong, on both counts.” The man met Y’s dagger-glare with a calm gaze. “I wish you the best of luck. Oh, did I mention that you have until your next birthday to accomplish your tasks? If you succeed, you may return to your previous appearance, or whatever form you desire. If you fail….”
“Well, I’ll have to think about that. But it won’t be pleasant.”
So that’s about all I have so far, a combination of story and synopsis. The next part is about how Y’s friends ditch him and his parents don’t want to be around him, so they hire a personal assistant who is really more of a babysitter. Beau is 40 and needs the money badly enough that he’s willing to put up with a horrible, angry, spoiled brat.
What do you think? Should I write it out as an actual story? I want to; it turns out that reworking fairy tales is hella fun, and there are all sorts of things to explore here, but I worry about copyright infringement….Is there a lawyer among the commenters? 🙂
Thanks for reading!
About Miles To Go
In “Miles To Go” (one of seven stories in Bedtime Stories), Joe is clinging by his fingernails to his marriage and, apparently, his sanity, because he’s having a very hard time understanding why his wife of nearly ten years, the mother of his child, thinks he’s gay. Marty has agreed to go to marriage counseling on one condition: that Joe go out on seven dates with men to see if anything sparks.
Joe thinks it’s an incredible waste of time, an exercise in futility, because he’s straight. Obviously, he’s straight. He’s married, has a kid, and the reason he’s never looked at another woman is because he loves his wife so much. And because he loves her, he agrees to go on the dates.
Since Marty is working evenings, she hires Danny to babysit while Joe is out testing the same-sex waters. Danny makes Joe uncomfortable for a variety of reasons, but he really is great with Ethan, Joe and Marty’s son. Danny tells classic bedtime stories to Ethan, and he tells very different stories to Joe. Danny’s stories make Joe blush, but they also make him think – about Marty, about his marriage, and about his sexuality.
Available at: Wilde City Press
About B. Snow
B. Snow found her way into the magical world of romance writing via fanfiction, and original characters began banging on her brain several years ago. Despite suffering from acute procrastinitus, she has managed to get several anthology stories and one novella published.
Originally from the west coast, B. Snow and her husband now live in the Atlanta area with their cat, who is really the one in charge.
You can find more information at her woefully neglected blog, and if you’d like to enable her procrastination, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments, or friend her on Facebook and send requests from Pet Rescue Saga.
B. Snow has graciously offered up an eBook copy of winner’s choice of either Bedtime Stories or a book from B’s backlist!! The giveaway starts now and ends August 29, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. 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, except to verify your Rafflecopter entry.