The Prisoner's Tale by Richard Spanswick

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A quirky, surreal novel by Richard Spanswick.

When you enter the world of Preacher, you embark on a pilgrimage that will not end until the poison is coursing through your veins. But can it ever truly end?

Despising the corporeal communality, the prying of the psychiatrist and the cloying affections of the ugliest inmate in the Institution, the prisoner effects his escape. As he heads away from the city of his incarceration, he meets Egg-man, Babette, Private Dick and Crazy, the militaristic ventriloquist. Fueled by paranoia and laughable arrogance, Preacher teams up with a group of terrorists who are intent on toppling the regime. They may hold the key to the prisoner's ultimate dream. Irreverent, snide and amoral, the prisoner, throughout his fast-paced and Kafkaesque adventures, treats all with equal contempt. Theft and vaudeville, sadism and subterfuge, all jockey with one another on a stage that shimmers with surrealism and the ghosts of nightmares. Buckle up for a bumpy ride and find out if the Preacher's future is heaven or hell.

He narrows his eyes and looks at me suspiciously.
“You some kinda weirdo freak?” He has to shout to make himself heard over the noise of engine and wind.
I’m tempted to say no, just the regular sort but decide against pushing my luck this early in the ride. Instead, I say loudly,
“I'm just a traveling preacher... with my violin to accompany my songs of praise.” I meant to say musician, but for some strange reason preacher made it out of my mouth first. I need to anticipate more and think before speaking.
The driver looks me up and down again. “Don't get too many of them round here. You heading for the Monastery, Preacher?”
Now that's a tricky one. What is this monastery? Is it a place where a fugitive can claim sanctuary and beg for a meal, a bed and an old pair of sandals, or is it a part of the official network where an escapee would be promptly handed over to the authorities by an unsympathetic abbot? I hedge a little.
“Of course there's no point in preaching to the converted,” and here I affect a polite little laugh that's completely lost in the wind, “but I may drop in to commune theologically with my spiritual brethren.” The word spiritual rises to a breathy falsetto in the middle as we hit a particularly deep pothole and the jeep does its best to eject me and my little falsehoods.
“So where are you going, this fine morning?” I say cheerfully, while inwardly cringing at my crass affectation.
“Just out for a joyride – like some folks go for a walk in the middle of nowhere without shoes.” He darts a glance at me and takes another pull on his bottle. I know he's not buying my story, but how much can I trust him? I look to the right and see that we're almost out of the creek's little canyon now. I can see the tops of the mountains, snow-capped in the distance. The wind buffets my face.
“So what's with the feet? Doing some kinda peasants?”
I think for a moment, looking past the driver to where the stream has disappeared into a grassy swamp; we must be close to the source. He's not the brightest bulb, so I decide to trust him a little.
“No it's not penance. Look, friend, I'm having a spot of trouble with my congregation right now, a bit of a disagreement over the application of altar funds – you know how some people think figures are more important than prayers – and I had to make a swift departure last night. From an upstairs window. Without my shoes.”
I sigh, close my eyes and shake my head in remorseful remembrance of the ignominious event.

About Richard Spanswick

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Published July 3, 2010 220 pages
Genres: Action & Adventure, Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction

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