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Old 09-02-2017, 04:10 PM
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Default The Job (less than half of an unfinished story).

This is something I'm working on. It's a long short story. I've put it down and picked it back up for a few weeks but still can't figure out where it's going to end. Maybe someone has some suggestions?

The Job

Kenner poured the wine. The drawing room was three times as big as Mitchell's apartment if you included the height of the ceiling. He looked up at the painting in the dome, people in a field and demons or some kind of monsters devouring or molesting a few of the villagers while others went on about their lives like nothing was happening. It looked Chinese; he couldn't say why.

"It's an eighty-nine Bordeaux," said Kenner. "Very strange year," he said. "Started out wet and dreary but a mild winter and a gloriously hot summer gave these grapes something unique. Do you drink much wine?"

"No," said Mitchell. "I mean—I'm more of a beer guy. Maybe a couple shots of Vodka."

"Yes, well, stations I guess."

"Yeah," said Mitchell.

"—but the wine isn't why I called you here. It's my son. He's a very bright boy but—"

"I'm excited to meet him," said Mitchell with a little too much enthusiasm. He wanted to make a good impression; he needed the work.

"You'll meet him directly. First I wanted to go over a few things with you—just between us."

"Yes," said Mitchell. "Sure."

"As I said, he's a bright boy but he has his quirks. Do you know what I mean by quirks?"

"Well Mr. Kenner, all boys his age have a little trouble fitting in. What's he, thirteen?"

"Just turned," said Kenner. "But I don't think his—oh, I hate to call them troubles—his quirkiness is just your standard junior high school blues. He's always been different, and now it seems impossible to hide the fact."

"Have you had him tested? You know, a psychologist? I'm sure it could be done privately."

Kenner held his glass up to the afternoon light from the bay window. He seemed to be studying it. "There is no such thing as privately for a Kenner I'm afraid," he said. "Things have to be dealt with of course, but in a more internal affairs sort of way. You follow?"

"Oh, yes sir, I would never say anything—"

"I should hope not," said Kenner. "I'm paying you an awful lot of money for this and that's part of the deal." Mitchell could tell it was a joke but not a joke.

"Yeah, I understand."

"My son Jessup has his head in the clouds, imaginary friends, fantasy worlds, all that unreality. I assume you've taken classes in child psychology, development, that sort of thing?"

"It's required for teachers," said Mitchell. "But I'm not a specialist." He lifted his glass and held it to the light as he'd seen Kenner do. The wine wasn't clear like he'd expected but when spun slowly around the glass, was gorged with tiny particles. It looked more hearty than refined. He didn't know wine though; maybe that's how it was supposed to be. He took a sip. The taste wasn't terrible but he wished it was a beer. It would take several later to wash that taste out of his mouth.

"Yes, not an expert, but you'd be able to tell me if you noticed anything worrying wouldn't you? I mean, anything I should worry about."

"I've been teaching for almost ten years. I have a lot of experience with kids his age."

"Good, good," said Kenner.
He stood up smartly, his long lean body flexing with poise, experience, and rang a small bell across the room at a teal colored door. While they waited he said: "when Jessup's mother passed he was very young. Maybe it's just as simple as that."

The teal door opened and a large woman pushed through it. She was wearing a denim maids outfit, a matching hat, with a big white apron wrapped around it all. It looked tight in all the wrong places. Mitchell thought she could probably kick his ass.

"Ah Miriam," said Kenner. " show Mr. Mitchell here to the library and bring Jessup down to meet him if you can." He turned to Mitchell and said: "he's a good boy really, but sometimes he refuses to do what he's told. You understand."

"Yeah," said Mitchell.

He followed the woman back out the door and down a large hallway, around past the kitchen—the smell of fresh bread and spices—and through a set of double doors she closed behind them. "You can sit," she said. "There." She pointed to a large mahogany table at one end. "Or you can stand if you prefer." Her voice was not at all what he expected. It was high and melodic. She'd been educated too. "I'll summon the boy," she said.

Mitchell turned to look at the books. He'd always loved walls full of books. Without his glasses he couldn't read any of the bindings, but the smell—

When he turned back around Miriam was gone. Vanished into thin air. He hadn't heard the big doors opening or closing. There must've been a secret passage. Kenner was paying fifteen hundred a week plus room and board for the summer. Mitchell could deal with a little hocus-pocus. And what? All for teaching some spoiled rich kid some algebra and history? He sat down at one of the five chairs around the table and waited.

He was thinking about the dinners they must have around this place, not to mention the breakfasts and lunches, when there was a knock.


The right door opened slowly, and Mitchell was wondering why the boy would knock in his own house when a girl popped through the opening.

"Oh, I was expecting Jessup," said Mitchell. "Is he coming?"

The girl swept her fingers across a shelf of volumes making her way behind him. "Jessup doesn't want to meet you," she said. "He won't come down until you promise."

"Promise?" said Mitchell. "Promise what? I'm only here to keep him at grade level over the summer."

The girl rounded the table, knocking on the dark wood with each step. She couldn't have been more than ten. Her blonde hair and midwestern pug nose made her look younger than she probably was. "Are you his—sister?" he asked.

She laughed a little, or rather, smirked. "Jessup's sister? No, Jessup doesn't have a sister. He's an only child."

"So—a friend?"

She scooted herself around and sat down in front of him.

"Jessup doesn't have friends Mr. Mitchell. He has people that help him but they're not his friends. No one is." She seemed much older now. She talked like a college student.

"How old are you?" He asked.

"I don't see how it matters, but I'm a year older than Jessup, almost to the day."

"Fourteen," he said. "You speak like you're much older."

"I'm small for my age."

"Yeah," said Mitchell. "So—if you're not Jessup's sister or his friend, who are you in all this? You seem to know quite a bit about what's going on."

"Right now I'm a messenger," she said.

Mitchell mulled it over in his head. A messenger. This Jessup might be weirder than he thought. Who the fuck has a messenger at thirteen years old? Hell, Mitchell was still playing World of Warcraft at thirteen and eating his boogers.

"So—the promise Mr. Mitchell?"

"Promise to what?" He said.

"A promise to do no harm. It's simple really. No conditions or qualifications. Just do no harm."

Mitchell wasn't sure what to make of the request. He was familiar with the concept and all its implications but in this context he wasn't sure what it meant. "Do no harm," he repeated. He thought about the Buddha, Jesus, Zen, all that shit and decided.

"Okay, I promise," he said. "I mean, what's the harm?"

"A pun Mr. Mitchell. Very good."
She rose and slid smoothly to the doors. "Jessup will like that."

This whole thing was getting weirder by the moment. Who were these fucking people? It was like a world within a world here. Had these people been so secluded and rich that they felt they could just do anything they wanted? He half expected a retarded kid to appear on top of one of the bookshelves and play Dueling Banjos.

He was too weirded-out to sit so he walked the shelves looking for familiar titles. Without his glasses he could only read the bindings with large lettering. He found one called: Proprium Diaboli. He opened to the middle and found erotic paintings, very explicit paintings, details of labias being pulled open with strange implements and gross penetrations he'd thought only invented by modern fetishists. The book looked like it might have been written in the fifteen or sixteen hundreds. He couldn't read any of the text but he scrolled through the colored paintings in the middle. Weird and exciting in way he felt sick about liking. He put the book back.

There was another with large white letters that said: In Crucem Acto. He remembered the Latin word for crucifixion and thought it would be about the passion and Christianity, but it wasn't. Instead, there were paintings of animal and human mutilations. This one he closed quickly.

From behind him came a voice. "Are you interested in old books Mr. Mitchell? If you want, I can have Miriam move some of them to your quarters." The voice was young, just starting to crack with the change of puberty but definite, sure of itself.

Mitchell turned to face Jessup. The boys hair was long, shoulder length and brown like his fathers. A crisp brown without being too dark. He was smiling with what Mitchell took to be honest temerity, a grin but more than that. "Jessup—I assume?" he said.

"I see you've found my fathers books. He loves the old stuff, the weirder and more obscene the better. He's not a bad guy but he has predilections outside the norm of society," said Jessup.

"Predilections? Outside the norms of society? Are you sure you're only thirteen years old?" said Mitchell.

Jessup pulled a chair and sat. He looked tired. "Can we get to why you're here Mr. Mitchell?"

"Oh, I think we should sir." Mitchell bowed in mock acquiescence. "I thought I'd be teaching some rich kid a little math and science, but you seem to be a surprising handful more than I'd expected."

Jessup smiled again. He scooted his chair in looked at Mitchell, reading him. "You look surprised," he said.

"Yeah well I don't meet a lot of people like you around the places I live. In fact, I'm not sure why I'm going to even tell you this but in the forty-five seconds I've known you I'm pretty sure you don't need my help. But—I need this job. Your dad offered me an amount of money to tutor you and a place to stay for the summer. I need that. I have no idea how he got my name or picked me or anything, but—"

Jessup looked down at the table, maybe out of respect. "I think you'll do fine Mr. Mitchell," he said. "I look forward to our lessons."

Mitchell continued standing; he was too juiced up to sit. The week before he'd gotten the divorce papers in the mail. His ex was getting the house, the car, and full custody of their daughter. He'd be allowed his old truck, a few personal possessions and his clothes. Her new boyfriend had already moved in. His best friend Bart told him to get a lawyer in the beginning; he hadn't listened.

Jessup had a way of looking at a person that was unnerving, like he was looking for something specific. Mitchell didn't know what it was but the boy seemed to give him a pass. "My father will be waiting for you," he said.

Mitchell wanted to ask about the promise but he didn't. "We can start on Monday, alright?" he said. Jessup nodded.

Just as the silence began to become awkward the double doors opened and Miriam stood at attention in the hallway. "This way Mr. Mitchell," she said. "Mr. Kenner wishes you to get your things settled in the guest house and relax for the rest of the weekend."

The guest house was a small cottage three times larger than his crummy apartment in the city. It had high ceilings, two lavishly furnished bedrooms, a gourmet kitchen and an office with all the modern trimmings. Mitchell could get used to this. There was a Keurig machine on the kitchen counter and the first thing he did was make a cup of coffee. He dug through the linen -lined basket of choices and found one with a skull and crossbones on it. He wanted a strong cup.

An hour later he unloaded his things from his pickup and once inside, alone, removed all his clothes—basking for a few minutes in a freedom from the worry and stress and obligations to life. His balls needed some air. He wondered what his (now) ex wife was doing. He tried to picture her somewhere in their house but all he saw was her laughing a fake laugh, smiling a fake smile. That bitch. He wondered how long it would take his daughter—she was two—to forget him. Parental visits to be worked out at the discretion of his wife, ha!
Fucking bitch. Was it his fault he worked two jobs to keep food on the table while suffering her lavish spending habits? His fault he often came home late after working fourteen hours—eight at Kenmore Junior High, and five more at Lennon's Bar?

So he drank a little too much some nights. He was a fucking bartender. Wouldn't anyone?

He went to the fridge and found it stocked with all the stuff he liked, deli ham and provolone, pickles, mayo, apples, oranges, jalapeńo slices, Blue Fairy yogurt, and beer—two kinds. Blue Moon, and pints of Arrogant Bastard. Kenner had done his homework. The last thought made him feel uncomfortable, violated almost.

"Fucking Kenner," he whispered under his breath. "What's this all about?"

Last edited by brianpatrick; 09-02-2017 at 05:21 PM..
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