Rogelio "The Fox" Monroe
Not all curses are made equal
I never thought I’d be so tragically predictable. So terribly mundane. I shudder to even think the words.
I don’t like being cursed.
I know, what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, Rogelio, no normal person likes being cursed!
But I am not a normal person, I am Rogelio “The Fox” Monroe. Smart and cunning and far too handsome to be stuck in this humid hell.
The ocean lapped at my feet, halting my ten billionth circuit of the island. The setting sun shone off the crystal blue waters.
Stupid shore. Stupid water. Stupid majestically beautiful sunset. With all its oranges, pinks, and yellows. Like the paintings, I used to fence.
I kicked a wave. It did not make me feel better.
The cure to my predicament, you ask? A woman must beg to take the curse off my hands.
No problem. Easy as winking. I’d never had trouble making a woman beg before. With these eyes? This voice? This chest?
Her sister had particularly liked my chest.
That fact, perhaps, had been the wrong thing to mention at that moment.
I stamped the sand at my feet. Stepping back through the interaction in my head.
Her screaming. Her crying. Me attempting to hide my manhood with an actual live rabbit. The aforementioned sister, hiding naked in the closet.
But none of that mattered at the time. I was confident I’d be back to my very important life in a matter of days. Had a game plan or two. Take a lover, entice an elderly lady, convince another witch to curse me with something more benign. After all, you can’t be cursed twice. A limp maybe, I’d look dashing with a cane.
But then I woke up here, amulet slung around my neck, sand in my briefs.
A supposed island paradise. White sand, coconut trees, extravagant sunsets at the end of every day.
Only one problem. One. Teeny. Tiny. Problem.
It was a deserted island paradise. A scrap of land with an empty jetty, not a woman to woo in sight.
I smoothed over my once artfully groomed stubble.
She got me there.
Now the world was deprived of my brilliance.
I climbed the rocks that separated me from the next bay and lamented, for the millionth time. That there was no one here to admire how heroic I looked. Wind-swept hair, less frizzy today, tanned skin, seductive brown eyes. A work of art. As I climbed the last rocky outcropping, in a feat of impressive skill and grace, I was met with a surprising sight.
A boat. At the end of the jetty.
And actual. Floating. Boat.
The floating part being particularly important.
What were the odds? Impossible. Improbable at best. I could feel my luck turning. But in which direction?
I’m not saying I ran. That would be desperate. But as I jogged, at incredible speed, the amulet around my neck decided to be petty. Halfway up the jetty, the flat bronze disk spun, yanking me back with a force of inconsiderate proportions. My body was flung to the decks and dragged back several paces. The world went dark at the edges, then out.
I could have died! Probably.
Flat on my back I registered an odd booming voice. It sounded like it was coming from far above me. In the depths of the pink-tinted clouds.
“The handsome stranger's eyes fluttered as he regained his perilous grip on consciousness.”
“God thinks I’m handsome?” I murmured.
My brain quickly tallied my sins and came to a stunningly deep conclusion. God was not a good person for me to meet right now.
“He’s not God, God would have better prose,” a second delightfully feminine voice said.
A woman with ruddy red hair and freckles lent over me as that first odd voice sounded again.
“As the strangers’ eyes opened she was struck by their improbable beauty.”
“Improbable beauty,” She scoffed, rolling her eyes at the sky. She looked haggard, heavy bruise-coloured bags, hollow cheeks, and rough bitten nails.
“Such a brown she had never seen. Warm, like the coat of a fox.”
I sat up, rubbing at the stinging line of pain at my throat. Like the coat of a fox, I liked that.
The strange voice continued, “She looked between the island paradise she had escaped to, and the handsome stranger before her. Perhaps her luck was changing.”
I searched the sky for the origin of the voice and found nothing.
“Could this man relieve her of her curse? Was he a hero, or a villain?” The voice intoned.
Oh, no. Oh, yes. Dear, sweet, merciful lord. It would be rude to laugh.
“Were you cursed to have a narrator?” I asked.
The girl flopped down on the jetty flinging her arms over her head.
“When a witch says you have main character energy. It’s not a compliment,” she mumbled between her freckled limbs. I managed to cover the laughter that bubbled up with a cough. Mostly.
“Tears stung her eyes!” The narrator cried.
“For the love of god there are no TEARS!” she yelled at the sky.
At that moment a wave struck the old rotten boards splashing onto her face with an audible slap.
“Ugh, my eyes!” she cried, rolling into a ball. As I am a gentleman, I didn't laugh.
“She hunched over, her shoulders shuddering with repressed pain!” Like lightning, she was up on her feet.
“I'll show you repressed!” She swung her fist through the air. Trying, it would seem, to cold cock her narrator. An understandable impulse, I supposed. But as the voice had no physical form, she looked like she was attempting to fight a ghost.
Two thoughts occurred to me at once. This happens often as I am very smart and cunning. One, she was crazy. Two, she may be just crazy enough.
“I was a librarian,” she moaned, stopping her air pummelling and laughably out of breath. “I read romance novels, and enjoyed the silence.”
“She remembered her sad boring, life. And how much it had improved since the narrator had appeared,” The narrator corrected.
“I was happy,” she said through gritted teeth, “there was no drama!”
“No romance, no action, no thrills!”
“No one trying to kill me!” she screeched. She began her fight again, this time she seemed to be trying to strangle the air.
But I didn't care. This woman was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen in my life, an angel, a gift. She had just given me a veritable instruction manual on how to manipulate her. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare for a masterclass.
Step one, Bait. Demonstrate to your mark that you have something they want.
I ran a hand through my curls and quickly undid the majority of the buttons on my shirt. Drawing myself up to my full height I pushed out my chest.
“Someone is trying to hurt you?” I asked, deepening my voice to a growl. Classic romance novel love interest.
She paused her air assault.
“His voice made her quiver,” the narrator whispered.
“I am not quivering,” she said quickly. But the blush that spread over her cheeks told me otherwise. I allowed myself a quick smile.
“Are you hurt?” I asked reaching for her hand. She let me pull her closer.
When seducing, most men forgot the hands. Most men had not been forced to watch Pride and Prejudice by their sisters a thousand times. Most men were idiots.
I held her hand delicately in mine and forced myself to stare at it. Like holding it for a second would change my life. Like it was the most beautiful thing in the world.
It was not. It was a hand.
“Im- im- fine, I ah, fine,” she stuttered, but don’t be too hard on her friends. It is hard to maintain your wits when in the presence of Rogelio “The Fox” Monroe.
“How, did you get away?” I asked, keeping my voice low. Listen to it growl, listen to how concerned I am for your safety, oh dear beauty.
“I stole a boat, I – ah- “
“As her eyes flicked up to the handsome stranger, her eyes lingered on his lips. Wondering what it would be like to kiss him.”
“I am not!” She snapped her hand quickly out of my grasp.
I threw a look up at the invisible narrator in the sky. If he blew this for me, I would find a way to punch him.
“Brave and beautiful,” I whispered. Just loud enough for her to hear, but quiet enough that she would think I hadn’t meant her to.
“The setting sun set the gold of her hair aglow. A tangled mass of fire that echoed the heat in her ice blue eyes.”
The description pulled me up short. Her eyes, if anything were a muddy teal.
“His prose gets more purple when the sun sets. The other night he described the sky as a velvet blanket stitched with diamond stars,” she cringed.
“She remembered fondly,” The narrator snapped.
“That’s not even good,” I winced.
“Said the idiot stranger, whose last attempt at prose was a Haiku he had written for his crush in seventh grade.”
“Hey, it’s hard to rhyme with Enid Snit, okay?” I mumbled.
Ah, Enid. Beautiful, rich Enid.
“What?” the girl asked, blinking out of a daze.
“Nothing, I’m just mesmerized by your . . fiery hair?”
Her eyes narrowed. I’d made a mistake. This of course, very rare.
“You’re that man!” she said
“That man?” I asked.
“The idiot man!”
“I think you mean the handsome man! With improbably beautiful eyes and lips you want to kiss."
“The idiot that has been cursed to never leave the island!”
“Yes, he was that Idiot.”
I was starting to understand her frustration with this narrator. But I rallied, as I always do.
“Yes, I am that man” I sighed. A tragic, yet manly, despair-filled sigh, “And I’ll admit to idiocy. But what man isn’t an idiot in love.” I even choked on the last word. I know. I should have been an actor.
Her eyes softened, and zing. I was starting to feel it. The adrenaline. The rush. The tingle of the con as it were. Step one, done.
Step two, plant the objective. Bonus points if they think it’s their idea.
But how Rogelio? You ask. Are you magic? Do you have mind control powers? No, dear friend. But it is easy. I just needed to hide the words cant, curse and twice in the next few sentences.
Watch and learn.
“Every day I stare out at the ocean, watch the sunset with nothing but the wind to disturb my thoughts. But I can’t see its beauty,” one down.
“His description of the peaceful island nearly made her weep.” The narrator sighed.
“But I’ll tell you what, it’s not the curse I hate, who could hate paradise? It's- “I stopped and turned away. Making sure the sun lit my profile, “No, you will think it's stupid.” I paused, “twice, as stupid.”
Not the best but it would do.
“What is it?” she asked
“Her heart ached in her chest!” The narrator cried with all the desperation of a tween at a boy band concert.
I stretched my arms above my head making sure to angle my body so that the wind would blow open the white linen shirt. I was just a poor misunderstood man with a broken heart and washboard abs.
“Even in her despair, her eyes caught on the muscled planes of his chest.”
Easy as winking. I paused for a moment longer.
“It’s the loneliness,” I said, hanging my head.
“His words made something melt inside her.”
They always did.
“Forgive me,” I said, “It has been so long since I saw another.” I captured her hand and spun her to me her hands came up against my chest. I was rewarded with another blush. She was about the colour of a tomato now.
“Just to have someone with me, to ease my torment,” I pressed her hand to the amulet on my chest. I pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. It blew right back into her face.
I tried again. Then again. Waiting. Still, waiting.
I will admit friends, at this point, I was a little concerned I’d been too subtle. But the fourth time I tried to wrestle her hair from her face her eyes lit up.
“I think I can help you! Have you heard what they say about curses?”
Of course, I have.
“No," I said "What do they say?”
“You can’t be cursed twice!”
In the movie made about my life, the clouds would part, sun would shine down and angels would sing, Hallelujah! I'd call it, Foxy, The Rogelio Monroe story.
On to, Step Three, refuse their offer. This step is always the hardest.
“No,” I said, pushing her gently away, “I won’t give you my curse, I couldn’t, not to you.”
I turned and headed back towards the sand. My long shadow cast out in front of me. The setting sun on my back. Slowly, one, two, three. . Footsteps. Like clockwork.
“But if you give me your curse it will overrule mine. We could live happily. Quietly. Together!” she said grasping my arm and pulling me to a stop. We stood in the sand at the foot of the jetty. The palm trees swayed in the wind.
I made myself shake my head.
“I couldn’t live with myself, this is my burden,” I pulled at the chain around my neck.
“The brave stranger turned her away, He wouldn’t hurt her, he could never hurt her!”
The narrator was making this far too easy.
“Okay then,” she said, turning away.
No, no, no, this was not how it was meant to go.
Did I mention that step three is also the riskiest? And that if you screw it up you could possibly remain cursed to exist on one island for the rest of your life!!
No? I should probably add risks to the syllabus.
The narrator began to wax poetic about the scenery. Using far too many adjectives. My heartbeat fast, and my mind sharpened.
I scanned her one last time looking for a thread to pull. Anything. Tangled matted hair, freckles, bitten nails, tired eyes.
“At least your narrator is quiet while you sleep,” I said.
I could tell I’d hit the spot. But how Rogelio? Well, dear friend, I am very intuitive. It could be the subtle change in her expression. Or that the narrator stuttered. Or it could have been that she took that moment to fall to her knees and scream.
“PLEASE!” she grabbed the bottom of my shirt. “One night of silence! One night where he isn’t describing my dewy skin in the moonlight!”
“Indeed, her skin was more sweaty than dewy in that moment.” The narrator sniped.
“I beg you!” she cried.
Step five, Bingo, Gin and Yahtzee my friend! Take your winnings! Cue the music! Take a bow!
"For you," I said, "anything." Smooth. I know.
I lifted the chain from around my neck, making my hands shake just a bit. Committed as I am to the role. I held my breath, the chain didn’t resist as it had before. Just slipped over my head. I looped the amulet around her throat and the narrator stopped. Cut off mid-sentence.
Nothing but the wind and the waves.
“Silence” she breathed, pressing a hand to her chest.
I blew out a breath. “Thank Christ, I thought that wasn’t going to work for a second.”
Peeling her hands from my shirt, I turned up the jetty.
“Wait, hey, where are you going?” She asked, stumbling after me.
“Somewhere you can’t. Away,” I laughed, stepping into the boat. Stepping into freedom. I’ll admit. I nearly cried.
She tried to run after me, but the chain pulled tight against her.
“You bastard!” she choked out.
I bowed. An impressive elaborate flourish.
“I’ll get you!” she screeched as I started the motor.
“I don’t see how!” I called back, steering the boat out over the waves. Pulling against the chain, again. She threw a very unladylike gesture my way. I laughed.
Soon the island was just a speck on the horizon, and I was curse free.
“Curse-free baby!” I shouted into the wind.
“He cried, incorrectly.” An all too familiar voice sounded above. “As the island disappeared from view the villain realised. .”
Friends, it took me a moment. It truly did.
“The narrator hadn’t left; it had just found a new main character.”
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