Our next Proust Questionnaire is with the loquacious Jonathan Blackthorne, Esquire, Member in good standing of the Damocles Institute of Research and Exploration, Celebrated Illusionist, Master of Legerdemain and Sleight-of-Hand, and narrator of KG McAbee’s novella ‘Blackthorne & Rose: Agent’s of DIRE’, currently appearing in Pulp Literature Issue 4.
What is my greatest fear? As a not-unknown magician and illusionist — appearing nightly at the Egyptian Palace, with a matinee on Saturdays — I could perhaps suggest that failing in front of an audience would be the answer to this. However, I am forced to admit it: I have failed in front of more audiences than Her Majesty has had hot dinners. No, the vast and faceless crowd spread before me — I did mention my nightly appearances, did I not? — is far from my worst fear. Recall, pray, that I am also a member in good standing — well, relatively good — of the Damocles Institute of Research and Exploration. The things I have seen would boggle the most un-boggleable mind, I do assure you. DIRE members, other than my humble self, tend towards the adventurous, the investigative, the shall-we-poke-it-with-something-sharp-and-see-what-happens type. I am not this type. I prefer a well-attended performance, followed by a cold bottle and a hot meal, ending with a long, restful sleep in my own bed. Sadly, these things — other than the first, six evenings a week, in case I neglected to mention — seldom come my way.
The trait I most deplore in others is, without doubt, conceit. After all, a fellow should be modest, unassuming, humble, even if he is lucky enough to possess rather impressive talents and abilities, don’t you think? But some gentlemen tend to boast and brag a bit, simply because they’ve been off to other lands, done the odd bit of exploring, visited
forbidden cities at risk of imminent impalement, speak a dozen languages or so
and dealt with the odd wound and bouts with raging fever. I mean to say, one
should not continually mention such things, should one? It’s just not done,
even if your name is Captain R F Burton. And pray, let us not bring up Mr Poe
or Monsieur Verne! Poseurs, the pair of them! Oh, certainly, they come up with
the odd notion or two, but really, some of the drivel they turn out is quite
out of bounds.
I have, upon occasion, been forced to lie. There; I have admitted it. Can lying ever be the correct, the gentlemanly, the British thing to do? Never! However, sometimes it is the kind, the thoughtful and, in many ways and the merest physical sense, the safest thing to do. For one example, one should never, at any time, point out to Lady Rose Blakeney-Barrington, my darling and frighteningly intelligent beloved, that perhaps she might be safer if she did not leap into the middle of anything and everything which interests her. And for Rose, that is, quite literally: everything. I recall with a shudder that she once threw herself, with every sign of delight and enjoyment, into the very center of a pile of pulsing, heaving matter only recently ejected by a many-tentacled creature. Not to mention, we had only just run the thing to ground after an exhausting chase through the sewers of London. I mean, what can one do in such a situation, other than a series of hot baths and the burning of one’s attire, including boots and a favorite waistcoat? Rose, sadly, had other
ideas. It is a constant burden to me to keep quiet in such situations, I do assure you. But keep silent I do, in self-defense.
My greatest achievement is, without any shadow of a doubt, landing Rose as my fiancée. Dear me, that does sound a bit, well, as if I caught her while salmon fishing in the Highlands, does it not? Let me rephrase that at once, on the off chance that Rose herself might one day read these words. My Rose, let me assure you, while the dearest girl in so many ways, is not one who suffers fools gladly. Or, indeed, at all. That is why I am
still quite astonishingly amazed that she has accepted my proposal of marriage. I am not a fool, other opinions to the contrary. But I would be the first to admit that I am as far below Rose in knowledge of such things as chemistry, biology and astronomy as it is possible to be, even were I at the bottom of a deep hole while she stood atop the Matterhorn. And yet she has promised to be mine! Though setting a date still appears to be quite beyond her ability … but hope springs eternal!
KG McAbee has had several quite readable books and short stories published. She writes steampunk, fantasy, science fiction, pulp and such. She belongs to Horror Writers Association, International Thriller Writers and recently got honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest.
You can read the adventures of Jonathan and his fiancée Rose in ‘Blackthorne and Rose: Agents of Dire’, in the Autumn issue of Pulp Literature, available in ebook or print through our Kickstarter campaign.