Asking About Alexandria

Who the hell is Alexandria? In this old, forgotten place the truth was never going to be simple.

Arty, a rebellious youth, doesn't care about other peoples problems -- he's go his own life to deal with. But, what will happen when every move he makes he accidentally uncovers another secret, another dilemma that needs fixing? When he starts working at Arkwright mansion as a gardener, he may get more than what he bargained for. He'll have to decide whether being a passive bystander is really the best stance for him to take, especially when he starts to care about sleeping beauty.

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3. ... Monkey Speak

I am a pacifist, kind of. Well, I try to avoid conflict as best I can. So when I was stood in a little office room with Hechter Archibald Arkwright (or Arc-Bald as I liked to call him to the other staff members) with him breathing down my throat about my hair and generally poor attitude, you can imagine the inner conflict I had with myself about jumping over the table and strangling the guy. No, I really wanted to strangle him. And at that point, I’d only just met Arc-Bald. Two weeks into working at Arkwright and I’d almost forgotten that this was the guy paying my bills.

“Are you not ashamed of yourself? You are a young working man, and you have hair like a clown and the attitude of a spoilt little boy.” He went on. I was pretty sure he’d already called me a clown and a spoilt boy five times already. All this was brought about by an unfortunate meeting. I was just watering the plants (with the hose this time), minding my own business. Before I knew it, he was behind me casting this great long shadow over me. Now, Arc-Bald was a very tall, skinny man. Like his mother, he had a very long nose and beady eyes. So when I turned around to see why the sun had been turned off… I swore at him. Okay, not the best move I’ve ever made. But he genuinely scared the crap out of me.

“…I don’t pay you to be bad-mannered...” He continued. I’d been quietly listening to him while I was considering what to do. I wanted to keep my hair and my job, so I was going to have to be respectful and lie my arse off. “If you want to keep your job you’re going to have to clean that nose of yours, boy. Do you understand me?” He finally stopped.

“I’m really sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to curse at you, and I hate myself for it.” I lied with the most remorseful face I could conjure. I looked up into those piercing eyes (which I really didn’t want to do), took my hat off placing it over my chest, pursed my lips slightly, and knitted my eyebrows slightly to make it look like I was very troubled. I’d perfected it over the many years of high school when I was caught doing ‘antisocial acts’ like smoking, and it came in handy when I accidentally spilled beer on customers at the bar I worked at before. Looking down with a droopy face doesn’t work, you see. It just makes you look like a child who doesn’t want to face the consequences of their actions. Arc-Bald seemed like he was still listening, so I carried on. “You see, sir, I have quite the nervous disposition. I was bullied as a child. Once this huge kid, called… Ryan jumped on me from behind. Not saying that you look like him, sir. Ever since then I’ve been bad at dealing with people showing up from behind me… and tall people.” Now, that was a huge lie. If anyone had bullied me in high school, I would have given it straight back to them tenfold. I would have pounced on bullies even if their target wasn’t me. Having a soft mum and younger sister that was pushed around easily, I didn’t like to see people upsetting others on purpose.

“Well… I’m sorry to hear that, but you need to sort that disposition out. You can’t be cursing everybody who comes to talk to you.” He ordered sternly. “And about that hair...”

“Sir, please let me keep the hair! I know that it isn’t very… orthodox. But… my late father… he dyed his hair too. Just the same colour as this now.” I lied again while stroking a strand of my hair. “When I was younger I always wanted to be like him. I know he was a liar, a cheat, and a gambler that got my mum into debt.” The biggest lie yet. I thought laying it on thick like that would make him sympathise with me. “But he was still my father, sir. And he was always kind to me. Having this hair colour reminds me of him… I promise I’ll keep my hat on while I’m working, sir.” Hechter seemed a bit gobsmacked, which greatly amused me. His eyes were wide, and he stroked that bold head of his in a stupor.

“You better keep that promise, boy. If I see that head of hair even once, I’ll cut your pay by half.” He warned severely. I later learned that I didn’t have to worry about being fired so much. You see, they struggled to get staff willing to live out in the middle of nowhere. In fact, they really needed three gardeners (I should have known with all the work I’d been doing) to run their grounds, so I was very much in demand.

When I finally got outside, I immediately pulled out my cigs. Yes, I know. It’s a bad habit, but it’s a habit I picked up when I was young and stupid. I would always hang around with older kids that I was too eager to please. When older boy known as Fig handed me a smoke saying “try that,” I was all “sure, man.” Anyways, having listened to Arc-bald’s ramblings for half an hour left me very stressed and drained. That was when Alexander cornered me.

“Did you mean it?” He popped out like some ‘pretty-boy’ jack-in-the-box from the doorway I’d just came through. He was putting on the soft voice from that time I’d heard him on the stairwell. Alexander’s eyes glanced up at me curiously, and he brushed his hair back behind his ear while tilting his head.

“Sorry…?” I asked as I watched his fingers glide past his ear.

“The story about your dad. Was it true, or was it all a lie?” He asked again, this time he looked down and kicked some invisible stone. I may have, at the time, thought he was a little, ever so slightly bit cute, despite my hatred for the guy. You know, what you internally consider as attractive isn’t always decided by your head. I’d read somewhere that it came from your childhood subconscious. Yes, I read. My point is, as much as I wanted to look at him and see some rotten little devil, I couldn’t and that bothered me. I coughed and looked away.

“So you were listening in, were you?” I leaned against the wall of the house and lit my cigarette, making a huge effort to look at the embers of my smoke and not at him.

“I just overheard is all… So did you lie?”

“Why, want to tell on me to daddy if I did?” I asked mockingly, which I really shouldn’t have done since he was the son of my employer. I guess I was trying to prove to myself that I still didn’t like him.

“No!” Alexander raised his voice defensively and stiffened, and then he went loose again looking down to the floor. “It’s just… my mum. She died too.” Nice going jerk, I thought to myself. I took a puff and then breathed out deeply. I didn’t really go around talking about my dad, but I felt like I owed it to him for acting like an arse-hole for no good reason.

“I didn’t lie about the part where my dad died. He rode a motorcycle, and he liked to race. He entered rally’s, races, that sort of thing. One day he went too fast and… He didn’t die from that though. He had a spinal injury. But he just couldn’t deal with not being able to move and he wasn’t doing us a fat load of good. I guess he figured that it was best for everyone if he wasn’t around. I was thirteen…” There was a quiet moment when Alexander looked at me unsure of what to say. “The part about him having a gambling problem, being a cheat, and the debt was all a lie though… and the blue hair.” I smiled at him while tilting my head and taking another puff.

“I’m sorry to hear that.” He stood a little closer, went to reach out to my shoulder, but stopped himself. “My mum died in an accident, and my…” Alexander didn’t finish what he was saying. He turned his head like someone behind him was talking, and then his expression changed. By this point, I was a little confused, but I waited patiently to see what would happen.

“You know,” Alexander said finally. His voice had changed again. “My dad can be a very self-righteous man. But, unlike my grandmother, he doesn’t care about the staff. If you stay out of his way, he shouldn’t give you too much trouble.” After that, Alexander gave me a respectful nod and walked away. I processed the conversation we’d had in my head while I finished my cigarette. I recalled each one of his expressions and the things he’d said, and then I wondered if there was more to him than just a spoilt rich kid. I think that’s when my impression of Alexander started to change. I had genuinely started to become curious about the boy. Not that I would have chased after him to ask him questions, or that I’d bring myself to think of him while working at that point. At that point, it was more like I’d realized that he’d had his share of troubles too, so I stopped being jealous of his life.

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