After discovering a blog revealing a mighty tribe where “every man was the one true king and every woman was the one true queen…” thirty-five-year-old, unemployed Daniel realizes he’s tired of being a Lost King. He wants more. But more what?
His quest to uncover the secret will drag him beyond his comfortable seclusion, into the cornfields of DeKalb and thunderous, chaotic New York City. After a hotel hookup with a sensual Englishman, the murderous rage Daniel fought to repress is finally unleashed.
In the final story arc in The Lost and Founds series, Daniel faces the ultimate choice: what would you risk to become a Found King? His fate depends on a seedy escort named Fitch, benevolence from the mysterious king named DC, and love from the elusive Vin Vanbly, who may—or may not be—dead.
This is the end.
But is it the end for Daniel?
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Heat Level: 5
Romantic Content: 3
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 36-45
Protagonist 3 Age: 46-65
Tropes: Magic Sword
Word Count: 88
Setting: Columbus, Ohio, New York City, St. Paul, Minnesota
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
The events of this novel take place in 2013.
It sounds like an urban legend.
One of those ludicrous ghost stories related while we huddle around online campfires. We park our butts before glowing laptops and lean closer, a link sparking curiosity, tethering one person to another to another to another, until somehow we’re reading a fifty-two-year-old Arkansas woman’s blog, chronicling her vegetable garden and villainous mother-in-law. The sixteen-year-old girl in Seattle who reviews Netflix, the music hipster in Mississippi who began blogging after Hurricane Katrina. Twelve-step blogs, cake-decorating blogs, adoption blogs, application-to-graduate-school blogs, and then the weird shit blogs: awful first dates, terrible roommates, and disastrous family gatherings. Everyone has a story to tell, even if the tale isn’t ours. “You won’t believe last night! My neighbors screamed for hours and then the cops….”READ MORE
These are our campfires.
As the night grows longer, the tales grow softer, deeper in their nature. We crowd each other, legs bumping awkwardly as strangers question how to live, what kind of destiny to shape for their unfolding lives. This is how we find each other, those of us who live in limbo, through blogs, electronic wings fluttering, vibrations that whisper, “Am I alone in this? Are you out there, too?” I have no doubt, when future technology permits a harmless fire blowing out a serial port, we’ll roast marshmallows.
That helps put my last three days in perspective. It’s just a campfire tale—a ghost story too. Chasing links, I found a blogger, his most recent post demanding, REMEMBER THE KING. Like every good campfire tale, his began, “I swear this is totally true. This really happened. Not to me, but to a friend of a friend.” First time I read that, I snorted.
In a dozen paragraphs, the blogger summarized how one October weekend in San Francisco, an investment banker named Perry came to believe himself “a king.” Because more than a decade had passed, the blogger felt he could at last reveal highlights, if none of the specifics, regarding his pal’s King Weekend.
King Weekend was capitalized, like Space Camp or a trademarked Disney cruise. When I googled it, I discovered millions of hits, which means nobody had officially claimed it, branded it. More proof none of this was real. Everything is branded these days. An art gallery party brought Perry in contact with a vacationing tourist, who offered to change Perry’s life. He challenged Perry to submit for one weekend. Do everything that was demanded. In return, the tourist would help Perry remember his true kingship, whatever the hell that meant. For reasons not explained, Perry agreed.
I admit it hooked me.
I’m not inclined to follow blogs about UFOs or Bigfoot sightings. I’m captivated by the insanity in how we treat each other, urban legends of human behavior. I follow one blog devoted to passive-aggressive handwritten notes, two evil coworker blogs, and eight or nine sites where gay men kiss and eagerly tell of their raunchiest, most disastrous adventures. I admit I like reading bizarre humiliations in others’ lives; they make my own failings feel more manageable. But this one was the opposite of my preferred end of the spectrum. Perry got kinged.
The weekend included a sewer cleaner king with a magic flute, a stolen duck, and a smashed birthday cake. I didn’t buy it. Sneaking around Alcatraz after hours? Abandoned on Mount Tamalpais? If you want people to believe your lies, you have to make them believable. Yet the blogger swore the erotic and verbal ravishment was all true, leaving Perry devastated by grief and somehow stronger, more alive. He claimed that after his King Weekend, Perry loved with “all his love.”
The blog didn’t elaborate on that phrase.
“Once there was a tribe of men, a tribe populated entirely of kings. Odd, you may think, and wonder how anything got done in such a society with everyone making rules. But these were not those kinds of kings.” Perry didn’t memorize the words, the blogger said. The story lives inside him.
Soon after his King Weekend, Perry vacationed in Australia, where he played his cello naked in the outback. A local rancher heard funereal music echoing off an outcropping of rocks and figured Death had come for him early, to end his lonely days. He emptied his pockets on the kitchen table, left a note for a brother in Sydney, and took his trombone into the desert to play one final duet. Instead of finding Death, the lonely rancher found a naked cellist and fell in love. Perry fell back. Perry and the sheep rancher have been together thirteen years, according to the blogger.
Bullshit. Called it then, and I’m calling it now. I can’t even find confirming proof online. Yet here I am, rereading it for the seventh time. Eighth time? I need answers. I need to know if this is true. I wouldn’t have even visited a second time if I hadn’t been so surprised by one of the comments, posted a day after the original blog publication.
I also spent a weekend with Vin Vanbly. I remember who I was always meant to be. Have I found my brothers at last?—King Mai the Curious.
I read it over and over. Obviously, it was left by the blogger himself using a fake email address, something to lend credibility to this crazy tale. Nothing more than a good campfire story, and everyone loves letting the smoke get in their eyes—it just smells woodsy. And Vin Vanbly? Fake-sounding name, like a never-quite-made-it action hero. Fake, fake, fake.
When I returned less than twenty-four hours later, the comment from King Mai had been deleted. Every other comment remained, including one promising LIVE RUSSIAN GIRLS. It didn’t make sense. More comments were added and none of them deleted. Is it possible King Mai’s message was real? I don’t know. I can’t believe it was.
I toyed with the idea of leaving a smart-ass comment. I almost did, but my king name popped into mind. King Schadenfreude. I like misfortune. Not death or dismemberment, but disgraces and failures. It makes me feel better about myself. I want to think good things about people, I just don’t. I decided not to comment.
If I am truly honest with myself, I didn’t return to check for more comments or the King Mai mystery. My real question dawned slowly, while folding laundry and later while fixing the kitchen sink. I thought it was just an interesting detail. Many kings left their sparkling kingdom, living anonymously in the world of man. I could not remember if the story explained their fate. The nagging became a question, which became a wondering. I keep revisiting this campfire, looking for an answer in the smoke.
Even though I do not believe in this King Weekend crap, I find myself making a decision to breach the anonymous internet for confirmation. While trying to dissuade myself from this course of action, I simultaneously refine exact wording for my lie. Using one of my fake Yahoo accounts, I type an email directly to the blogger.
This is going to sound peculiar. I think I know the Human Ghost. Vin Vanbly, right? He took me on a King Weekend, too.
I know it’s stupid to care, but this campfire piqued my curiosity. Plus it’s not like I’m using my real name. Tempting to add “the Tugboat,” or “the Peach Lover,” like the silly names I read, but best to remain vague until I tease out more information.
I shouldn’t waste my time on this. But why not? I’ve got nothing better to do, just internet surfing. Jacking off. I don’t go out much, only to grab food from restaurants that don’t deliver. No job. No obligations. I don’t contribute much to the real world, and I might worry about that, but the real world doesn’t seem to notice.
I don’t know when it happened exactly, but I’ve abandoned the idea of finding a boyfriend or friends. I’ve got sixty-four Facebook friends I’ve never met. Late at night I blog and ask the questions, “Am I alone in this? Are you out there, too?”
Let’s find out.
I click Send.
Less than two hours have passed when I am notified of a new message. The blogger. Why is my heart pounding? He explains Perry is delighted to meet one of Vin’s kings. Just to confirm, Perry asked me to ask you to describe how Found Kings sometimes honor each other.
There might be thousands of secret codes, words like, “vanilla pudding blow torch,” or a handshake. A curtsy with “Your Majesty…” feels, well, too Game of Thrones. I don’t know why I’m guessing at this. Who cares? They probably want money. This is probably a scam. I must remain wary. But in case this fucked-up fairy tale is not entirely fucked, I will use a simple bluff in hopes of prolonging our conversation. I want to ask my question about Lost Kings.
With respect. That’s what Vin taught me. Treat each other with honor.
Will this work? Dunno. Who cares? It’s just for fun.
I click Send.
They didn’t reply yesterday. Did the bluff fail?
Two full days. They know I lied.
Three days have passed. Obviously, they aren’t going to reply. That’s spooky. “Once there was a tribe, populated entirely of kings….”
There are no kings.
Sure, there are some good men around. I guess. But you can’t appoint yourself a king and believe it, let that knowledge guide you to do things you would never do, live in a way you had only dared to dream but required some missing light, something golden shining through you. That’s not possible.
But who is Vin Vanbly?
And what happens to a Lost King if he doesn’t get found?
Does he just stay lost?COLLAPSE
The Lost and Founds series (six books) is complete with King Daniel.