Slightly Inadequate was a story born as a role-play. At a certain point of the story, I noticed that all the characters are “slightly inadequate” hence the name of the story. It starts in the beautiful city of Venice, with an aristocrat fond of magic of the name of Ian.
Born to an influential and affluent Venetian family, Ian could be proud of his heritage. But he was not. Aristocracy and its perks weren’t his thing. Since childhood he was rebellious and he had an interest in the magickal, not the mundane. When he grew up to be 25 to the shame of his noble family, he went to entertain the crowds in a circus as a magician. He was passionate and always strived to learn new tricks. Each afternoon this took him to the acclaimed as the most beautiful second-hand bookshop in the world with the exotic name Libreria Acqua Alta. He spent hours rummaging through the books. He liked the atmosphere – the books piling on the shelves and in gondolas, one upon the other, in stacks on which cats were serenely napping – truly Venice could be proud with its bookshop. He was dark haired, slim, but stout, and he wore really big rimmed glasses, which suited his face and lent him a classy and attractive appearance. He went to the book-shop dressed impeccably as a nobleman – with a bow-tie and a white shirt. That was because there he often saw really classy girls, dressed in pastel tones, moving slowly around the library immersed in reading the books. He enjoyed them silently, never daring to show his fondness, he loved the girls and the cats more than the books. In this particular afternoon, from one of the huge piles, he came upon an esoteric volume. It was a small, antique handwritten booklet, very expensive, but he had to have it. The shop assistant, who looked ancient as well, smiled to Ian, and said: “It’s complimentary for my most regular customer.” Ian thanked with a smile of nobility and appreciation and headed to the water-taxi.
Venetian ambiance is well described above, as well as our main character, who has got its own fascination. Time to introduce our second protagonist, since this is, as all things I have written – essentially a love story.
Mary Hook was standing in her parlor, which looked cluttered even though everything was meticulously put in its place. She was holding the book in one hand and the crystal ball in another, and she looked very busy and important. It was the first time in her career as a witch that she was going to try a summoning spell. Most witches summoned apparitions or angels, or water elements to ask them for personal favors. She, however wanted to summon Queen Cleopatra. She had heard that this ancient Queen was irresistible to men. Mary Hook wanted to learn about being irresistible to men. She wanted to know what did Cleopatra wear, what perfume she used, she wanted to have her seductive voice and her tempting eloquence. She wanted to be a stunning catch.
So she spent the entire day trying to decipher the spell for attracting the ancient queen, written in the doctor’s handwriting of her Grandmother Emma. She was reading it aloud above the purple candle and magick was sizzling in the room. The summoning spell was very tricky – several time apparitions of famous people appeared – and she apologized and sent them back their way. She even received a mermaid, but she was singing the entire time and she was of no use. Tired, she sipped from her hot brew, and wiped her forehead above the huge rimmed glasses. She was going to try one more time and to her surprise…
According to Kurt Vonnegut – every character will have to want something – even if it is only a glass of water. Our witch Mary wants to be irresistible. Is that logical – I mean witches in our basic idea of them excel exactly in their incredible appeal, all humans are instantly drawn to them. However, the summoning scene fuels our imagination, for the spell is challenging and with a peculiar seemingly impossible mission.
When Ian got back home, he prostrated on the huge sofa in eagerness and he opened the old parchment. It was in Latin, he could read the letters, but he didn’t get the meaning. The handwriting was beautiful, and he wondered how it would sound if it was read aloud. Next thing he remembered was waking up on the floor of a packed room lit by one purple candle.
“Good! You are not dead!” Mary Hook leaned upon the body on her parlor floor, ready to sprinkle him with some hot water from the cauldron.”Holy Mother of Mercy I have summoned someone among the quick. How on earth should I get rid of him? If anyone learns about this –the committee of witches on the Shrine Hill will vote me unprepared. I will not be able to practice my craft again. No, no, no! No one must ever learn that you have been here Mr…Mr….
Then she arranged her glasses and saw the surprise in the bright blue eyes, He was a handsome young man, dressed in an extremely peculiar way. He was wearing sort of a black ribbon around his neck. He looked more than startled, so she felt she should console him.
“Don’t worry, I will bring you back. Just tell me where you are from?”
Both wear rimmed glasses, so they might be soul mates. Here we are presented with a problem – he can’t be on the floor of her parlor alive and obviously teleported from a different reality – it is a huge, huge mistake on her part and she is more than startled.
She was like the girls from the library and she moved like one of the cats. She looked like she was from another world. A voluptuous, eloquent, nice-smelling, curvy witch was leaning upon his form. Could it become more curious? And a purple candle was a clear trace of a summoning spell…but why him? When he regained his composure, he asked with his frankest and most confident smile. “Why did you summon me of all people?”
“Well, obviously I want to have sex with you! Isn’t that what you think? So typical! I actually wanted to speak to an Egyptian Queen. I find royalties fascinating.” Wait….here it says – and she traced a line in her book with her finger – here it says that someone alive can be summoned only if he so desires. You have spoken the magic words. Now it is my turn to ask – what petty circumstances of your life occurred so that you may want to switch realities?”
“I was playing with a magic book. I…don’t know where I am. But it smells so nice! May I have a cup of your tea?”
Here lack of logic begins to heap. He just changed his location and his life as he knew it is over, and he is shocked, obviously, but he wants to have a cup of tea.
“Wintertime, I simply mull my summer wine…”- Mary shined, for one of the witches civil codes was politeness and hospitability, and she was great at it. She served the mulled wine in a blue bone china cup, and stirred it with a silver spoon, for she had royal cousins and was affluent enough to use silver utensils. “You are right! You shouldn’t do the same things every day and call it a life! This reminds me that I have to water my flowers, and take a shower, and doll up a little, for I am going to an event of the Shrine Hill committee, of which I am a valued member. In other words – we have to get you back from where you appeared. Pronto! Give me the book with the spell.”
The way she said pronto reminded him of his Italian family. No, he wasn’t homesick, he didn’t miss the endless nagging of his Grandma, when he is going to open a Cicchetti shop and marry the girl of the neighbors, his father whose dream was the continuation of the kin, neither his brother, who spent his entire time in feasts and drinking parties. Here in this stuffed parlor, sipping wine with probably the cutest witch in the world he felt more at home. And the spell book in his hands…went into the fire. He flung it haphazardly, and it started burning slowly while he was getting himself another cup of the delicious wine.
Isn’t that frivolous? Is that what men, aristocrats, entertainers, magicians from Venice would do? To sacrifice everything he has known to a cluttered room with an unfamiliar witch.
Have you got reason? – Mary whispered low in awe and disbelief while the magic book was melting quickly in the fire. – She stood there bewildered until it turned into a black ember – You are playing dice with your destiny and with mine as well! Now how are we supposed to take you back to your normal life? Well, if you are so impulsive your life had not been normal anyway… You can’t stay here, obviously, it’s my holy cloister, with all the magical stuff I keep inside, you will summon some freaking mermaid…” While she was talking she was rummaging through her closet. “I can’t leave you alone as well… here – and she took out a black robe, a red wig and a pointed hat – that’s my costume for last Halloween. Put it on, I will present you to the committee as my cousin Rose Mary from the Kingdom of Angelique. But do it faster, because the coven meets in half an hour.