If you really want to know the truth, I wasn't always such a handsome young lad. I didn't used to believe in love, either. I thought romance was phony. It's actually kind of funny, the whole story, of how I changed my mind.

Anyway, I was sitting in my castle one lousy night, when this old hag knocks on my door begging for shelter. Now I'll admit, there was a helluva storm brewing outside, and my castle was truly comfortable as hell, especially by the fireplace. But this old hag was ugly as hell and she had this large, warty nose that dripped – it made you want to puke just by looking at it. Anyway, she was willing to offer me a single red rose in return for a night in castle. I told her unless she had dough she could clear the hell out.

She really hit the ceiling when I said that. Boy did she sound pissed off. I just laughed in her face and started to close the door – if there's anything I can't stand, it's phonies who can't respect no for an answer. But then something crazy happened – that old hag turned into a goddamn beautiful woman – I mean right in front of my eyes and all. God, I wish you could have been there. It was a helluva sight. Then the woman told me that she was a goddamn enchantress and I was cursed from that night forwards, till I could love and be loved in return. She gave me the red rose as a reminder of the curse; I had to find true love before the last petal fell, or I'd be damned forever. Did she really expect me to believe that? I mean, how phony can she get? I slammed the door right in her goddamn face.

I guess she wasn't kidding around when I woke up the next goddamn morning with fur and paws and all that crap. She'd turned me into a goddamn beast.

Not long afterwards, another unwelcomed guest shows up at my doorstep. For Chrissake, can't all these phonies just leave me alone? This old man tramps right into my castle without my permission and helps himself to tea. You can't blame me for roaring out of hiding and locking him up. If you really want to know the truth, I was not taking any chances with solicitors after that goddamn enchantress.

I thought I had gotten rid of visitors to my castle once and for all when another arrives just hours later. Her name is Belle and she claims that the man I have under lock and key is her father. She must really love him or something, because she offered to take his place as my prisoner. That killed me. It really did.

Being the generous fella I was and all, I let him go and invited her to dine with me that night. If you want to know the truth, I really felt that I was being sort of nice. This Belle, though, obviously can't appreciate a kind gesture. She didn't want anything to do with me and declined my offer. Talk about rude! To make things worse, my servants suggested that I try to make her fall in love with me, to free us from the curse. Did I mention that my servants all became household objects upon my transformation into the beast? Well, they really killed me. I stated that they were reading too many corny romance novels and laughed at the thought of me ever falling in love, especially with Belle. Servants gave me a royal pain in the ass, sometimes.

Anyway, I was feeling lousy about being rejected and all when the household objects came barging into my room – without knocking – shooting all this crap about Belle having just run away. At first, I didn't believe them, but then I looked into my magic mirror and saw her galloping through the woods as fast as her pony's legs could carry her, these huge sonuvabitch wolves right on her heels. I took off sprinting right out the castle doors when I saw that, I really did.

If you really want to know the truth, I fought off those wolves like my life depended on it – which it didn't, by the way; I could have just left Belle to fend for herself. But I just couldn't let Belle die. She may have been phony and rude but it depressed me to think about her becoming dinner for those greedy wolves. Anyway, I saved her that night and she came back with me to the castle and tended to my wounds. Old Belle, she really knew how to patch me up. I have to admit, watching her wrap those bandages around me like I was a real person instead of treating me like the beast I was depressed me. I don't know why, it just did. I get really depressed sometimes, like when I saw the first petal on that enchanted rose fall. It was the night after I'd been cursed, and I was staring at my ugly old reflection in my enchanted mirror when out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed a single, still-fresh petal peel off from the rose and drift slowly onto the table. I stared at that petal as it made contact with the mahogany, and when it did, it sort of shriveled up and vanished. I got depressed as hell just looking at the spot where the petal used to be and I had to leave the room.

Anyway, after Belle patched me up and all, she read me and my old servants a story. It was a damn good story, but I don't remember how it ended, because I fell asleep. The next thing I know, the room is dark and Belle's fast asleep next to me. She mutters something in her sleep and her head comes to rest against my shoulder. "Adam," she sighs again. That's my name, by the way. She says it again. She knocked me out, she really did.
I'm feeling quite strange the next morning at breakfast, when I catch her smiling at me from across the table. To get my mind off of what happened last night, I let her have a look at my enchanted rose. Of course, I didn't tell her what it stood for. That would've killed her. She admired the rose, but the magic mirror is what really caught her eye. She takes one look into the mirror and claims that she sees her dying father, and she begs me to let her go to him. At this point I don't know if she's kidding me or what, but to be honest I don't give a damn. I'm so confused about my feelings for her that I just let her go without a proper good-bye or anything.

I'm feeling really depressed again, so I just sit in my room all day wondering if Belle would ever come back. Damn women, they can give you a royal pain sometimes. If you really want to know the truth, I'd actually grown quite fond of that girl. I was really starting to miss her.

My servants came barging in again, full-out panicking. They were screaming that the castle was under attack and that I had to do something. Sure enough, there was an angry mob at the door. Can't a beast rest in peace? Now I had to deal with peasants and pitchforks, and a phony named Gaston who wanted to marry Belle and take her away from me. Not that she was ever mine to lose.

Gaston chased me to the roof of the castle. I was still way too damn depressed to really fight back, despite his constant provocations. You could tell by the way he carried himself that he really thought he was a damn hot shot. He was a helluva handsome guy, if you want to know the truth. Even so, I sure didn't feel sorry for the sonuvabitch when he tripped and fell off the roof to his death. I had turned my back on him when I heard Belle calling my name – turns out she came back after all, looking for me – and that damn Gaston stuck a knife in me. Boy, he was angry as hell, and in his anger he lost his footing. Serves that phony right.

Belle came running over to me after Gaston was gone, and she takes my paws in her hands and tells me that she loves me. I look down at her fingers intertwined with mine – wait, my fingers? I hold my paws up to my face and realize that they are no longer paws, but real human hands. Cupping her face in my hands, I see in the reflection of her bright brown eyes the human face that belonged to me. Belle kisses me right on the lips then, and when I open my eyes I gaze at her with her long brown hair and her dark blue cape and think to myself how damn nice she looks.