The Rotten Courtier

The Rotten Courtier Tavern


I work for an organization called A Better Future for Youth. We work with at risk youth throughout the county. We connect them to volunteer opportunities, offer tutoring and college planning, as well as, individual support to the kids and their parents. I was a chaperone on a volunteer project with 10 students from the program. We went to The Rotten Courtier, a new tavern in center city, to paint a mural on the side of the building.  That’s where I met Alonzo Brown, the owner. When we were introduced by the project leader, Alonzo shook my hand. I was the first to say, “You look familiar, have we met before?” “I don’t think so,” he said, with a hint of uncertainty in his voice. “Maybe we’ve seen each other in passing,” I suggested. “I would not have passed you,” he said as he delivered the most mischievous smile before he moved on to greet the other volunteers and staff. I stood there with my mouth open, unable to respond. Did he just say that?! I watched him as moved around the room and greeted everyone. He was handsome, had a nice build, a warm smile and a deep voice. I couldn’t shake the feeling that our paths had crossed before.


I was shaking on the inside. Holy crap! Did I really just deliver that lame pick-up line, then walk away? I never would have passed you by. What was I thinking? She thought I looked familiar. I know why. Three days ago, a woman who walked into my tavern, The Rotten Courtier, explained it to me. Nothing she wore matched. She had on polka-dots, plaid, and floral prints. Her jewelry was bright and gaudy. Her multi-patterned dress seemed to be making a hasty retreat from her green hightop sneakers.  She looked like she was in her forties, but there was something about the pattern of speech that made her seem like she was from another time entirely. She handed me a book. It was bound in human flesh. “I have come to give you a gift. I’ve watched you for a long time Alonzo, and I think you are ready to hear the truth! You have been here before. Your previous life was supposed to be your last, but something went wrong. You found love, but with the wrong woman. She promised herself to another. Then she met you. She broke off her engagement. Her family and her fiance’s family were not happy, especially when they found out about your history. In your efforts to save her and yourself, you killed her. The same thing will happen again if you fall in love with her in this life. She is drawn to you, but you are not meant to fall in love with her. You must let her go if you want to save her.  She will come here in three days. Be on your guard! She dreams of you, and will charm you, but you must resist! Do you understand? You MUST resist! The details of your lives, past and present are in this book. You can change the future. You can both be happy, and never have to take this journey again, but you must give her up. As you make each choice on this journey, the words of the book will change. I will be watching you, Alonzo. I will be watching.” I don’t recall when she left, but stared at the book, bound in flesh that seemed to still be alive. I was afraid to touch it, but somehow, I managed to open the book and read the pages.  I read the book three days ago. Neither the book, or the woman revealed her name, but I knew it was her. I knew our past and what was going to happen in our future.  According to the book, she is, was, and will be the love of my life, and I’m going to lose her in two short years unless I give her up.  I turned around and looked at her.  She was talking with the project leaders and students from her program, giving them instructions and looking over the plans for the mural that they would be painting on the side of the building. She was the one, and I didn’t want to give her up.


Copyright 2013 Nike Binger Marshall

3 thoughts on “The Rotten Courtier

    1. Thank you Mr. Palazzo! ^_^ I think there will be more to this story. A friend and fellow writer issued a challenge and I ran with it!

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