Saturday, June 26, 2010

Queen Maeve's Coursers

For some reason, I'm having extraordinary difficulty posting a decent-looking copy of these stories at the Clarion West site.  But never mind that.  Here's the story I wrote for Susan Gossman.  Enjoy!

Queen Maeve’s Coursers
Michael Swanwick

Three days in a row, Susan Gossman went to her front door to discover a freshly-decapitated rat lying neatly on the front step.  Her cat liked to snack on rodent heads.  On the fourth day, the Queen of the Fairies showed up with her lawyers.
Queen Maeve was an exquisitely lovely thing even if, being a mere three inches tall, she had to stand on the kitchen table in order to be seen and heard.  Her lawyers were something else altogether – eight-foot trolls in business suits, with briefcases and battleaxes.  Susan felt distinctly intimidated by them.
“Those were three of my finest riding rats!” Queen Maeve said angrily.  “They had pedigreed blood lines as long as your arm, and your beast hath them cruelly slain.”
“Silly didn’t mean anything by it.  She’s just a cat.”
The queen turned purple.  “Silly!  You dare kill my favorite mounts with a creature of so frivolous a name.”  She turned to her lawyers.  “Can I have you rip off this worlding’s head three times in recompense?”
“You’d have a good case,” said once.
“There’s legal precedence,” said a second.
“There’s not a court in the world would convict you,” said the third.  “What with them thinking you’re imaginary and all.
This was getting serious.  Gossman thought furiously.  Then she began to talk.  She made a living investing in the stock market.  She was used to finding angles.  This was her home territory.

An hour later, Queen Maeve and her advisors left.  Shortly after that, Gossman’s husband came home.  When he asked her what was new, she said, “Well . . .”

Fifteen minutes later, Bill said, “Let me get this straight.  You’ve agreed to handle the Queen of the Fairies’ stock portfolio for her.”

“She’s got a lot of gold that’s just sitting there, doing nothing.  And she’s offering me good commissions.  I convinced her to let me pay off the rats by shaving ten percent off the commissions, until we’re square.”

“How much is she charging you for her rats?” her husband asked.

She told him, and he whistled.  “At that price, it would take you thousands of years to pay the debt.”

Gossman blushed.  “Yeah, but Maeve, uh . . .  She kind of stopped my aging process for the duration.”

 “Only in Seattle,” Bill said.



Matthew Brandi said...

Hmmm ... I don't think I give (the fictional version of) Bill & Susan's marriage long.

I shall think of the fairy queen as having Maeve Peake's face.

Michael Swanwick said...

I think that if they keep letting the cat out, Bill's going to end up being put on the payroll.

Just a suspicion.

From the writer.

Allen said...

Hey, you have a blog! Awesome!

I really liked Iron Dragon's Daughter and Dragons of Babel. Probably my two favorite books of all time.

They're really different from anything else I've read. In a class of their own.

So, anyway, adding this site to my bookmarks now.


Matthew Brandi said...

What!?! There's no clause in the agreement concerning the future behaviour of the cat? Maeve needs better lawyers.

Also, I kinda liked the thought that the smugness at cheating the fairies would wear off: it would dawn on Maeve what she'd done, and Bill would quickly come to see his life as way too short. Cue arguments, drinking, and a cat looking nervously at the man of the house.

Damn you, Arthur Wilson Tucker, we killed you thrice, but still we couldn't stop you making Swanwick go soft. ;)