Title: Fool School

Author:  James Comins

Genre: Young Adult, gay romance, historical

Length: novel

Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing


In the year of our Lord 1040, fourteen-year-old aspiring jester Tom is en route to Bath to begin his studies in the art of being a Fool, following in the footsteps of his father, and his father before him.

Along the way he meets Malcolm, a fire-haired boy with eyes green as forest glass. A Scotsman who’s escaped from the ravages of the usurper Macbeth, Malcolm elects to join Tom at school. Though the journey to Bath is hazardous, it pales in comparison to what they face at the austere and vicious Fool School, where all is not as it seems. A court jester must aim to be the lowest rung on the ladder of life, and the headmaster will not abide pride.

As they journey through life’s hardships together, Tom and Malcolm find they only have each other to depend upon.


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JAMES COMINS is incapable of writing about himself in the third person. His future autobiography will probably be titled, “The Man Who Groaned His Way Toward Death.” He writes stories for children and adults.

Born down the street from Stephen King, he now divides his time between Denver and Seattle.

JAMES COMINS can be found at:






Malcolm is really struggling as we get through a less-well-rehearsed version of Bird on a Bough. I can see him failing. As the merry song closes, I shout: “Who will offer up a good meal and a pair of mugs of second small to some famine-hungry fools?” My Malcolm gives me a grateful look, and men slide down split-log benches, making room for us, and a pair of chicken drumsticks and bowls of harvest stew with beans and parsnips are handed down, followed by drinks. “To our hosts! May your health always match your generosity!” I exclaim, one of Papa’s lines, he’d use it in response to both kindness and parsimoniousness.

A big beard faces us and the man behind it says, “Did I ever tell you of the time I saw the White Stag?”

Malcolm and I look at each other. We’ve never met this man before. Malcolm is leaning into my shoulder in unmanaged affection, the gypsy cage is turning him into a “J’t’aime” drunk, that’s what Papa calls it. Why do I dwell on Papa’s words just now? So I can overcome them, triumph over them, invent my own in their place. I must eject my papa from my mind. I am not his just now, I’m an inventor of new words.

“Nae, ye’ve not,” says Malcolm through a mouthful of beans.

“Didn’t your mama teach you not to talk with food in your mouth?” a man across the table says with sarcasm, pretend-scolding.

“Me mama was eight foot at t’shoulder and belched gaseous clouds upon us at the breaking of fast, ye professor of iniquity,” Malcolm shouts at the man, getting much sniggering in response.

“The White Stag?” I say.

“Don’t listen to Simon, his head’s full of yoo-nee-corns,” another says to us.

“Nay, listen, if you would,” says the bearded man called Simon. “You know of the White Stag, do-you-not? Found thither,” he throws a hand at the bay. “In the forests of Dean, never in the same spot twice. For ‘tis said there’s only one White Stag, and it steps out from the land of Never-Grows-Old when there’s need for it. Its hide draws a man’s sight away, so that it cannot be seen unless it chooses, and when the hide is worn, the one wearing it cannot be seen. Its hooves make no print, and it leaves no trail. When it’s caught, it can call on the good small men to free it, but if you’ve laid no scratch on it they’ll pay you wishes for bargain. And I.” The man plushes his beard, tousling it from under the chin, strokes it smooth. “I. I saw the one. I saw it meself. For one moment, it was there, standing atop a bit o’ land in sight of me very eyes. I would have chased it but I had a woman on the knee, and in my weak mind, that came first.” He chuckles heavily and pours beer into his mouth through a leonine mustache. “And yet.” His eyes un-focus, he stares out into the morning fields. “Yet I wonder to meself, day to day, how life should have been if I’d heeded the White Stag. What did it mean for me to see? Was I meant to be a man of forests, of mountains-mountains!-and not a poor man? Some days I wake and there, before me, past the sunrise, I believe I see a different land, a land where the sun never sets, where our eyes never need close, a land where one may live and never die. And I shut my eyes, and I can see it so clearly. So, so clearly. I see trees with leaves as wide as this”-He spreads his hands-“and water that falls not from clouds but from a great hand that passes over the sky, pouring from a fine silver ewer. And there’s mists just beyond sight, such that once you’ve seen the Goodlands, you can never leave, for you cannot find the way. And you heel to the good, as a dog to its master, and never more do wrong in the world. And all this the White Stag gave me. A visionary creature, it is. Spectral. Should you ever chance to see it”-His brown eyes roll to me-“follow it,” he whispers through cracked lips.


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