It is a long-established fact that I am a historical fangirl. My love of ridiculous activities such as combing through two-hundred-year-old newspapers to find out where the most happening parties were, what hotels were all the rage, who was having what picnics where, all the best political scandal, and even the weather on a given day is well-known by now. The last big fact-finding mission I went on was in re Washington, DC just pre American Civil War: the summer of 1856. That one was for a novella working titled “The Inedible Sins of Sebastian Jones”. I once made a post about collating that research to lay out my main character Jonesy’s summer.
This is my idea of a good time! Yes, I know how to party, it’s true.
A year and some change later, I am pleased to be able to say that Jonesy’s story has new life. It will be called Inedible Sins, and will pop up with Dagan Books sometime in the very near future. In celebration, I’m going to start sharing some of the more ridiculous newspaper clippings I collected to inform my view of Jonesy’s world of Georgetown and Washington City for the next few weeks.
But first, the beginning of the novella, just so you can see what sort of fellow Jonesy really is…
In which I am dismissed from the seminary and find my new position hateful.
The moment my fist impacted with David Mullen’s face, I knew I was not intended for the priesthood. An explosion of pain in my right knuckles, the crunch of his lip into his teeth, and ruby droplets flew through the air like spilled communion wine. Mullen hit the ground wailing.
Hand still clenched, I said, “Next time you insult a man’s mother, you’ll know what to expect.” And then I turned and strode back down the hall for the Rector’s office, ignoring what fat-lipped abuse he flung after me.
A sense of clarity comes with a fight, a heightening of senses beyond anything else I know. This time, it enabled me to recognize an unexpected sense of relief welling in my breast. Of course, I would be removed from the seminary when the incident became known. I had run up against more than one of the other boys already, and it was clear I was on thin ice. Seminarians did not go around getting into arguments with other seminarians, even if they deserved far more than a few sharp words and a punch in the mouth.
But yes, I was relieved. All that remained was for me to tell the Rector that I would be on my way, no need for a fuss. I knocked on his door, pushed it open, and stared, aghast.
For there, among the crucifixes and paintings of saints and holy books, was our beloved Rector. He faced the desk, back to the door. A pair of stockinged legs wrapped around his midsection, between which he was thrusting zealously.
Small wonder that my presence went unnoticed until I said, “Good God!”
The lady, who seemed to have been reclining on two hands, sat up and looked around the Rector’s wide back. She was a pretty creature, with a high forehead and aristocratic nose, very well made up. But it was her mouth that was most familiar to me, long and wide, very much like the one I had burst only moments previous. The shock of recognition was the worst yet: she was David Mullen’s mother.
God has an appalling sense of humor sometimes, doesn’t he? What a way to shatter a boy’s illusions about his faith, his chosen profession, and the men to whom he’s confessed the darkest secrets of his heart since childhood.
At least it explained how that idiot Mullen was admitted to seminary.
Ah yes, Jonesy’s life just gets stranger from there. From the whirling society scandals of Lafayette Square to clockwork confessors in his Georgetown workshop. Because, oh yeah. Did I mention there’s a clockwork confessor involved? Sometimes, he’ll even eat your sins for you.