The Creature

1. Francoeur

Francoeur's sensuous tenor flowed like slow pouring honey over the occupants of Lucille's tavern, cajoling the audience into a state of mouth-watering stupefaction at the contrast between the creature's cumbersome appearance and feather-light tone. He was large and intimidating and even dared to sport the mask of Leroux's Opera Ghost, yet his voice soliloquized the passions of springtime and romance and beauty without thought to those who dabbled in criticism. As she regarded Francoeur's solo performance from behind the curtain, a threatening, shameful part of Lucille wondered if he even understood the nature of that which he claimed, through song, to hold most dear.

The tragedy of it awoke in her a sadness that she had believed to have long ago misplaced. How could a creature, so benign and mellifluous, take on the appearance of man's most feared enemy? A parasite turned harmless by way of unnatural science, yes, but a parasite nonetheless. Francoeur held no place in the world of men. He would die alone, without a protégé, with little knowledge of why sentience was not a gift to be taken lightly. Lucille played out possible solutions in her mind, the effort grating, if not futile. She found herself—as she stood helplessly, horrified—unable to tear her eyes away from Francoeur's impressive back as he embraced the music with his arms and legs, dancing about the stage as if a sad, sappy clown in a circus.

It had been selfish of them to bring Francoeur back. She could not live with him (nor could she live without him, she knew), and would someday have to ruin the poor creature with what could only be the truth. Yes, had he not been transformed, he might have never known the (apparently exclusively human) emotion that was happiness. Still, the longer he lived among those unlike him, the more he would begin to realize that something was incomplete.

Lucille felt a stone drop in her throat, suddenly overwhelmed by the urge to shout. She recalled the name of the parasite that drained her of her youthful vitality, but dared not say its name. Try to overcome it she might, but despite her efforts—despite willing herself to love him—she could not.