Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Eerie Walk Through a Fantastic Fantasy World Created by Mark D. Giglio - The Patron's Wife

We mounted the last rise. El Paradiso, protected by a high, white washed adobe wall, dominated the view. A vast prado, or meadowland spread out to the north and the south and in front of me. The jungle crept up the rugged foothills in an extreme incline to the eastern edge of the plateau and was stopped by the rear wall of the compound. 
El Paradiso was a relic of colonial days with its white stucco colonnade, roofed in red tiles that defined the court yard and side yards. The large two story house sat back maybe twenty meters from the colonnade. The tall windows were framed with heavily decorated stone casings, undoubtedly imported from Spain or Italy. Much of the stucco was chalky and crumbling, and long dark stains bled from the corners of the windows and roof scuppers. All of the trees, plants and vines around the house were cut back. I saw an octagon-shaped reflecting pool done in yellow and blue tiles reminiscent of something one might see at the Alhambra.

I was tired and the wine was having the effect I wanted it to. I undressed, blew out the kerosene lamp and crawled under the netting. The cool sheets felt wonderful against my skin. I listened to the insects and frogs and other night noises that rose up from the selva in a shrill, cyclical chorus. The milky glow faded and then brightened as the clouds passed between my window and the moon. 

I closed my eyes, and was just about to slip into sleep when I heard a loud thump outside the door that lead to the balcony. I opened my eyes and sat up. I heard a deep, hollow ratcheting sound followed by labored, guttural exhalations. Something big was out on the balcony.
My heart raced. A dark shadow flashed across the window, landed on the railing and was gone. I got out of bed and went out onto the balcony. Under the bright moonlight, in the mist-shrouded yard below, I saw a jaguar and I also saw a naked woman standing very close to the animal. Both looked up, gave me long curious stares and headed off, stopped, turned back and looked at me again before they entered into the jungle thicket that met the edge of the plateau. 
I strained to see them, but they had disappeared. The French doors to Hector's and Alma's bedroom also lead out onto the balcony. I looked in and saw them both in bed, asleep. I wondered if I should disturb them with what I saw, or thought I saw. I went back inside my room and locked the door. I thought better of telling Hèctor and Alma and went back to bed. I did not sleep that well. 
I was already up, dressed and tying my boot laces when Leòn entered the room. “Señor, I see you are almost ready. There is coffee and toast and mango for you in the kitchen.” I grabbed my topographical charts and followed Leòn down the stairs.
“Leòn, do you sleep in the house?”
“Did you hear anything last night, around eleven o'clock?” “Maybe señor, I heard noise from the stables. But that was much later, much closer to the sunrise.”

The Patron's Wife

Mark D. Giglio

He had wanted to get away, so had taken a project that would take him to a place he'd never been. All that was important was that he get away from where everything reminded him of Sylvia--the woman with whom he'd had an affair, and who now was pregnant, staying with her husband. All he could think about was whether the child...was...his... It would haunt him for the rest of his life, wondering if he had a son or daughter, being raised by another man... But now, he was content to explore and try to settle into his new home away from home...  And that's when he heard a woman's voice, quoting poetry aloud...

“All the glory of my golden tresses gleams upon the air, How it falls about my snowy shoulders, round and bare and white; My lips are full of love as rounded grapes are full of wine, And my eyes are large and languid, and full of dewy light; Oh, I lure the idle landsmen many a league for love of me, For I am the Siren, the Siren of the sea.”

Loving poetry as he did, he recognized the poetry of Marietta Holly and without thought, automatically, followed on with the next verse...

“Sometimes they press so near that my breath is on their cheek, And their eager hands can almost touch the glowing bowl I bear, They can see the beaded froth, the ruby glitter of the wine, Then I slip from their embraces like a breath of summer air; Oh, I lightly, lightly glide away, they come no nigher me,
For I am the Siren, the Siren of the sea.”

Aguila had now met Senora Alvarez, the wife of his new boss. She was beautiful and much younger than Senor Alvarez... He knew he had frightened her, for there was nobody else who could quote poetry within the house, when he responded back to her.  He knew he had frightened her, for there was nobody else who could quote poetry within the house, when he responded back to her. He quickly introduced himself as the individual who had been hired to design a solar system to generate electricity; she quickly initiated further conversation and let him know how pleased she was that he had quoted the remainder of her poetry... Poetry proved to be an instant bond between the two, but Aguila knew he would have to play it straight in such close quarters--and because he still loved Sylvia...
He had no idea what he would be called on to do during the time he spent there...

Senors Alvarez and Aguila spent much time talking about the plantation, El Paradiso, and about their surroundings. Travel into the plantation for supplies would be a challenge and they decided to ride out to tour the next morning... In the meantime Alvarez kept talking about the animals and warned Aguila not to go into the selva and to be careful of la cienga because of the anaconda... Aguila quickly remembered how his fingers might have been bitten off as they hung into the water and a anaconda swam up to check them out!

But now he was learning of a legendary giant anaconda that lived somewhere nearby and learned that it was said: “The Great One guards the path to the mountains. Only the honest and selfless and worthy may pass.”

Readers will get a chance to meet the Great Anaconda and will be quite satisfied with that adventure!

In the meantime, Aguila was left at the plantation quite often as Senor Alvarez attended to his crops and he seemed quite willing to have him alone with his wife. Soon, Alma and Emilio were reading poetry, getting to know each other and soon took a fateful walk through the mist...

Alma explained they were heading to the selva, while Emilio quickly commented that Senor Alvarez had explicitly told him not to visit there...

Still they kept on walking... It was there in a hidden lake that they swam naked and then sunned themselves. And when a jaguar came to drink, as they lay on a high large rock, Alma assured him that she knew this jaguar... and while they stayed there, she read from her poetry book, The Jaguar's Dream, commenting that the author must have known the selva...

“Beneath the dark mahoganies, creepers in flower Hang in the heavy, motionless, fly-filled air, Twining among the tree-stumps, falling where, They cradle the brilliant parrot, the quarreler, The wild monkeys, spiders with yellow hair. There the wearied, ominous horse-killer, The ox-slayer, returns with a steady tread, Over the dead mossy trunks of old timber...”

Emilio soon came to realize the great tension within this house, where the owner claimed everything, including his wife, as his possession, and where he openly caressed the servant serving at dinner, only to take her into his library thereafter... Leon and Maria Teresa, the two house servants, were willing to respond to Emilio's questions but Leon was quick to point out: “You white people do not understand. We pass through many worlds every day, the world we can see and the world of spirits. We are always in both worlds. For you Señor, I suggest you stay in the world you understand, and do not venture into the bigger one..." Both of them told Emilio to take Alma away before it was too late...

But it was already too late. Emilio had been pulled in to a world where strong desires were in control, where a spirit could leave the body and commune with animals, for safety, for comfort, or for destruction... It was a different world, where a secret place, the selva, brought them into that spirit world where anything was possible...and where Emilio would meet his first challenge...

Giglio presents readers with a fantasy that may not be new--there are other novels where humans and animals merge. It's exciting to read impossible fantasies that are still so intriguing to consider! But it is the human drama that happens there at the plantation, much like that of southern plantations where an owner believes everything belongs to him and he is free to manipulate and ensure that what he wants to have happen does indeed happen. Only thing is that love was not to be part of the plan. And when love enters, it almost always wins out over evil... And the climatic ending...actually, two different climaxes so different and yet so much the same, brings readers into the wonderment of that world where spirits are a natural part of existence... It is eerie, strange, and yet captivating. We are caught in the spell of The Great Anaconda, deciding who...is...worthy...

Wow! This is a personal favorite for me and highly recommended for your consideration!


Mark Giglio has always been fascinated by the connections people have with each other and the world around them. What we do or what we say is a result of our most recent and our forgotten ancestors. Like our ancestors, we will have that same effect on countless people yet to be born. He has always loved history, the humanities, art, philosophy, anthropology, world religions and the natural world. All of these things have been a fountainhead of inspiration.
He spent the first nine years in upstate New York and the next ten in southern California. He started his adult life when he joined the USAF and got his discharge after four years. He then went to SDSU and earned a degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing. At that point, he didn’t quite know what to do with himself. Somehow that Great American novel didn’t materialize, not for want of trying.
Life gifted him with a wife and in no time a little boy then another and another. Not able to wait around for those huge royalty checks to roll in, he fell back on his family heritage and became a craftsman. He needed something he could do to make a living, cabinet and furniture making to be specific. He worked for an outfit called California Design Group for a couple of years; then decided to go it alone.
This exacting work satisfied his need to create something by designing and making furniture. He has been doing that as a lifetime career. He did have a lapse of reality and worked for the USPS and delivered mail for four years … not his cup of tea. He even earned a teaching credential and tried his hand getting a teaching position. Historically and economically speaking, it wasn’t the right time.
Over the years he kept up his writing with little vignettes or the occasional short story for his own amusement. It wasn’t until he made a specific piece of furniture, The Alchemist Cabinet, that he felt inspired to write seriously. He had entered his art furniture in contests and came away with first and second prize ribbons.
A few years back he had a rush of creativity and produced a dozen short stories and a 450-page historical novel, “Alchemist Gift.” He learned patience and the value of editing from that experience.
His latest novel is “The Patron’s Wife,” www.thepatronswife.com. The novel involves a love triangle. The setting is on a sprawling plantation in the Ecuadorian highlands and the Amazon jungle below. We meet Hector Alvarez the controlling patròn who is nearly thirty years older than his unhappy wife, Alma. Alma was invited by her dying cousin to help Hector deal with his grief and put the estate, El Paradiso in order. Emilio enters the story. He is trying to escape his past and his latest failed relationship by taking on a project in the remote reaches of Ecuador. He makes a promise to himself never to get involved with a married woman. Fate takes a hand in this romantic thriller that includes Alma’s and Emilio’s love of Romantic period poetry, the ayahuasca ceremony that enables Alma to enter her spirit animal, the jaguar, and the unpredictable wonders of nature. 
He has also been working on the next installment to the Alchemist trilogy, “Curious Journey”, and has a toehold on the last novel. 
Mark has three grown sons. He lives in Escondido, California with his partner, Mary Ellen Cavanaugh-Wilson. His other interests include painting, piano improvisation, and interior design.

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