photo of man with creepy expression

The Ballsy Castrato by Jessica McHugh

While Vienna found its Figaro
And Shays was at its start,
A novice to the opera scene,
Of angel voice and lion heart,
Declared a moonlight mission
To vex villains with vibrato.
All criminals were loath to face
The Ballsy Castrato.

Never one to fight with steel,
The Castrato fought with words,
Driving dregs to their knees
With songs to rival birds’.
Subduing them with a voice
To match Vincenzo dal Prato,
Was the operatic officer,
The Ballsy Castrato.

He scoured every alleyway,
Each street and public house.
He trailed suspicious persons,
From thief to violent souse.
He’d nab them without clamor
And then warble out his motto:
“I’ll sing you into Sing Sing!”
Trilled The Ballsy Castrato.

His regard spread far and wide,
But no one knew his name,
Save for the iffy moniker
That became his claim to fame.
He begged his fans from sea to sea,
“Please do call me ‘Otto’.
I just can’t stand the epithet
‘The Ballsy Castrato’.”

But people loved their morons,
Of “oxy,” kith and kin.
They wouldn’t call him “Otto,”
Nor stop deriding him.
So, he sang a final bandit song
And heard his final bravo.
He disappeared that very day,
The Ballsy Castrato.

Now criminals are rampant,
And the streets are overrun
With tuneless bobbies seeking
And not catching anyone.
But people still remember
The man now hidden in a grotto:
An ex-soprano sentinel
They now call “Eunuch Otto.”

Jessica McHugh is an author of speculative fiction that spans the genre from horror and alternate history to epic fantasy. A member of the Horror Writers Association and a 2013 Pulp Ark nominee, she has devoted herself to novels, short stories, poetry, and playwriting. Jessica has had twelve books published in four years, including the bestselling Rabbits in the GardenThe Sky: The World and the gritty coming-of-age thriller, PINS. More info on her speculations and publications can be found at

Lead image“AND ONCE AGAIN…” (via Flickr user Bill Strain)