Asking About Alexandria

Who the hell was Alexandria?

Honestly, I didn't want to know. Beyond working for the Arkwright's, the oldest and Richest family I'd ever known, I wanted nothing more to do with them. I didn't want to learn about their tragic past or their curse, but it all kind of crept up on me. It all started when I met Alexander, the only living heir of the family. Or that's what everyone was lead to believe.

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1. Inverted-comma Stately Inverted-comma

Upon remembering the first time I rocked up to Arkwright Mansion, I realize my impression of the worthless pile of bricks hasn’t gotten any better. It was the dullest place I had ever set my eyes on. Arkwright Mansion was one of those places that screamed ‘stately’ because of the large extended grounds, the big Greek statues of half-naked ladies (wink, wink), and the general size of the god-dammed building. And ‘stately’ is just another word for tasteless. Come on, man! It’s like where’s the flare, am I right? Arkwright was a really old red brick country houses for the rich, back in the day, with the big white columns running along the front of the building. Give me a shitty little flat in the city any day of the week. It was too bad for me that the people that lived in the city didn’t hire gardeners, or at least they didn’t pay as well as the filthy rich politicians with long-lasting heritages. Yes, the people that lived in Arkwright Mansion was, you guessed it, the Arkwright’s. And the Arkwright’s was what people called ‘old blood’. They’d been politicians for generations -- right wing too. Bunch of snobby, rotten, hypocritical bastards, they are. Well, not all of them. I would never have agreed to work for them if they didn’t pay so well, that’s for sure. That and my uncle Lester already worked there. I’d finished high school and went straight into minimum wage jobs at McDonald and (after I got fired from there for retaliating to a customer who clearly had it in for me since he kept coming back and saying I got his order wrong, which I didn’t) a job at a bar where thugs hung out. Uncle Lester basically told me about the gig and offered to train me.

So there I was, stood in my big leather boots, ripped skinny jeans, a black vest-top that showed of my skinny, pale chest with nipple piercings, my spiky blue hair, and my suitcase in front of this grand metal gate. Instead of pressing the buzzer, I stared at it for a little while. I don’t know what I expected, maybe for it to just open up for me and say “hey, come on in.” While I was waiting I saw what I thought to be a stunningly beautiful young girl, about my age, getting dressed. Like any healthy eighteen year old boy, I watched and appreciated the sight. She was gone before I could get a proper look at her though. I pressed the buzzer.

Uncle Lester was a pretty buff middle aged man with a big stubbly chin and a bit of a bear belly. He was the one who greeted me when I was let in. Before I even made it around the side (I wasn’t allowed in through the front door) to the back door, he came strolling up the little pathway and wrestled me in a bear hug. Just so you know, Lester was a man’s man. He was a big brute of a man. He was huge and rowdy. So as much as I liked the guy, I was a bit uncomfortable with people like him. Of course, I got used to it while working with him, eventually.

“Arty, Lad, how’ve you been?” He asked loudly as he clamped down tighter on my puny form. Or it looked pretty puny engulfed into his muscles.

“I’ve been well, thanks.” I answered awkwardly, while debating in my head whether I should ask him to let go or just wait it out. The later won. “How’re you?”

“Never better. Never better.” Lester, at this point released me from the hug, but kept one of his meaty arms around my shoulders and dragged me along. I fumbled a little while trying to pull my luggage at his pace. “How’s your mum and your little sister?”

“They’re fine. Mum’s struggling to keep a job though.”

“Ha! Like parent, like child. Am I right?” He roared in laughter.

“Yeah… ha... ha… ha.” Do you see what I mean about him?

“Arty, just before I let you get settled in, I’m going to have to warn you about your… appearance” Lester started, and I didn’t like how the conversation was heading. But I’d heard it all before, and I kind of figured it was going to happen when I got there. “You’re going to have to take your spikes out, and your earrings, and wear different cloths outside working hours.” I genuinely wanted to cry. Arkwright was starting to look more and more like a prison to me.

After I was shown to my room, packed, and washed my hair gel out, Lester showed me around the grounds. He started with the places we would be working, so basically everywhere outside. And boy, did the Arkwright’s have a lot of outdoor space. I mean, do they even use half of that space? I’d later find out that they used it for parties, like the in the film ‘Meet Joe Black,’ except these guys aren’t American so they don’t use as many fireworks. Then he showed me inside the house. There were places I wasn’t aloud to go, being one of the gardeners and all. But that just meant that I’d be less likely to meet the Arkwright’s, which I thought would be a blessing. He ended his grand tour with the kitchen. Even that room was oversize, and there was only one cook working there for fuck sake.

“Hey Chris!” Lester called out to the woman chopping vegetables.

“Hi Lester…” the woman turned around. Chris, or Christina, was a chubby lady. She had a kind, round face, which made her smile look like a banana split. She had ginger hair that she tied up neatly in a bun (I guess that would be the toffee source). Her uniform better than the green dungarees that me and my uncle had to wear. It was a black vega and trousers. Too bad I didn’t know how to cook anything other than beans and toast, or I would have asked her to swap. “…and this must be your nephew, Arty. I’m Christina, please call me Chris.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said, giving her a smile and a nod. Lester was good friends with the chef, for good reason: befriend the chef and you can hang out in the kitchen. My uncle had it all figured out.

“So you all settled in?” She asked.

“Yep.”

“Good, that’s good. Well, let me know if you need anything. You gardeners have in tough slaving outside in the heat all day. We can’t let you go hungry or thirsty now, can we?”

“No, mam.” I think it was safe to say that I liked Christina from the beginning. Anyone willing to feed me already had a big green tick next to their name. Well, it was the Arkwright’s that paid for the food, but they were nowhere near as nice as Christina. Well, most of them weren’t.

“You cooking food for… the masters now?” I asked.

“Haha, you don’t have to call them ‘master’ you know?” Christina said. “ but yeah, I am. I’m making an Italian dish called spag-ball.” She gave me a wink.

“Smells good Chris…” Uncle Lester hovered over the food, taking big whiffs.

“Don’t you dare!” Christina ran over and attacked him with a wooden spoon. I laughed while watching him try to doge her blows. After a few rounds of the spoon-war (which Chris won by bounds), giggles came from the doorway and a group of women dressed in maid uniforms scurried into the kitchen like a group of hens. Chris hid the spoon behind her back with a innocent face that said ‘I wouldn’t even look at a fly sideways.’ Just for your information, Chris hunted flies like a cat hunted mice. She kept a fly swatter handy all the time, especially in the summer.

“Great, everyone’s here.” Lester announced while clasping his hands together. This is my nephew, Arty.” He introduced me to the maids.

“Hi, my name is Lisa.” Lisa was the youngest. She was twenty-six.  She had curly, shoulder-length, brown hair. She was slender and small.

“I’m Louise, ” she was the oldest. Louise was in her late forties, never told me her exact age though. She had tanned skin, and blond hair. She was tall, with long legs.

“And I’m Anne.” Anne was thirty-one. She had long, straight, black hair and she had huge boobs (which took an insane amount of effort not to look at).

“Hi ladies.” I gave them a bit of a bow and a wink, which everyone laughed at.

“Well, look at you.” Lisa mocked.

“I bet you’re quite the ladies’ man,” Anne said while winking back. If you haven’t already guessed, I really like these three from the get-go too (especially Anne). The three ladies mocked and laughed at me for a while longer, asking me questions like how old I was and what kind of jobs I’ve had before. Christina chimed in and asked me if I had a girlfriend, which I answered with a negative. I soon made myself at home by sitting up on one of the sides. Christina gave me a disapproving glance, but then sighed and looked at me with a ‘oh, alright’ kind of look.

“Do I get to meet the… Arkwright’s?” I asked after their questions died down. 

“Oh you’ll see them around, no doubt.” Louise replied. “There’s Deirdre, Hechter, and Alexander. You’ll see a lot of Deirdre because she always hovers about the house. She’s a lovely old dear, but… she can be a bit difficult. Hechter is always traveling into London because of work, but he comes back occasionally. Alexander is sixteen. He goes to boarding school but comes back every weekend, without fail. Oh.. he’s almost the same age as you, so (you never know) maybe you two can be friends.” I smiled and nodded, but at the time I seriously doubted that. I wasn’t fond of snobby rich kids. Not that I knew many. I just didn’t like the idea of befriending someone who had everything handed to them on a  platter goldern when my family lived most of our life on the dole, if you know what I mean. Then I remembered what I saw earlier that day.

“What about the young girl that I saw?” I asked. Everybody stared at me blankly. “Earlier, I saw a girl… in the window.” I conveniently missed out the part where she was getting changed.

“I’m the youngest woman here, Arty. Are you sure you didn’t just see me?” Lisa replied assuredly while placing her palm on her chest.

“No, I’m sure I saw a younger girl. She was the same age as me, maybe a little younger?” After I finished what I said, the colour drained out of the maids faces. Louise looked as if she was about to faint, placing the back of her hand over her forehead. Christina grabbed hold of her to support the dizzy maid. “What’s wrong?” I asked.

“No, it’s just a silly ghost story the maids believe in.” My uncle replied shaking his head with his lips in a thin line.

“It’s not silly!” Anne yelled, crossed herself, and then with a serious expression walked over to me and grabbed onto my shoulders. I blinked in surprise. “There is a spirit in this old house. She haunts this place at night, I’ve seen her.” Anne looked into my eyes deeply and didn’t break her stare. Honestly, it freaked me the hell out. I’ve never been one to believe in ghost stories, but the way she looked at me in that moment told me that she had really seen something.

“Nonsense, don’t scare the lad.” Uncle Lester pulled me away from her. “Now, I’ve got more to show Arty before we can call it a day.” He dragged me back out into the garden, but he didn’t show me anything new. We just revisited the shed where he kept all his tools. Maybe uncle Lester noticed that I was feeling uncomfortable with the whole ghost story, or maybe he knew something too. My gut told me it was the latter. I’d never seen a grown man shake as much as Lester did when he held up the watering can and stared through it blankly.

From the very first day at Arkwright Mansion, I knew there was something funny about the place. Call it a mans intuition, or just good observational skills. Whatever funny business was going on, I thought I could avoid it and keep my head down. I was wrong.

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