Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Crimes of Lord Llewellyn

Lord Peter Llewellyn decapitated a cigar, smelled the black dusty blood, struck a flame, and drew a deep, gaseous breath. He smiled in a silent chuckle. It was his favorite bad habit.

Tapping the entrails from his stick of tobacco, he turned his attention to breakfast. In front of him lay a silver platter full of favorites: eggs, potatoes, bacon, and coffee, accompanied by three little bowls of salt, pepper, and garlic. It was a peculiarity of Lord Llewellyn that he never allowed anyone to season his meals except himself.

A slight pinch of salt, a steady shimmer of pepper, and an avalanche of garlic clothed the steaming meal in a soft aroma, and Llewellyn smiled. Only then did his eye settle on the regal sheaf that awaited him.

First, the paper. A sweeping gray wingspan blocked the sun from his eyes, and when the light found them again, a pair of glasses rebuffed their brazen advance. Llewellyn peered at the page the way his aristocratic father had taught him, and murmured with the voice of his mother at the shocking headlines.

"Prime Minister linked to infamous Lord" was the first claim to fascinate him. "Activists demand investigation of Llewellyn investments" was the second. Peter's fingers stood on the bridge of his Roman nose, and he rubbed with satisfaction. He was enjoying himself immensely. The gossip columns were full of his escapades. Last night's mysterious drive through the slums (Llewellyn had paid the reporter a handsome sum to photograph him through a tinted window) caused the papers to wonder publicly: “Is Lord Llewellyn destroying the family name?”

A barking laugh echoed through the peaceful halls of the Llewellyn mansion. If they only knew the truth. Knuckles crackled, the fork plunged, and Llewellyn would have tested his ability with the salt if his eye hadn't lapsed upon a lonely white envelope signed by a lovely hand. His long fingers lifted the letter opener, and with a quick cut, the contents unfolded. Five minutes later, the bed was empty; the silver tray abandoned to the dust mites swirling in the sunlight.

Llewellyn paced with ex-military vigor down the corridor. A long line of imposing hooked noses hailed the approach of their descendant. His nose saluted them in turn. Llewellyn's fingers curved into a fist and rapped smartly on his wife's door.

"Come in, darling," swooned a soft voice.

Llewellyn threw the door open, his hand still locked on the knob. "What is this?" he snapped, crackling the letter in his left hand.

The womanly form of Lady Llewellyn lay on the ornate bed like a matriarch of feminine charm.

"Oh, do come in, Peter, and stop it. You were never good at confrontations."

"I don't care whether I'm good at them or not," cried Peter. "I believe you are blackmailing me, Mrs. Llewellyn. And I tell you, I will not be blackmailed... or mailed, even, in this manner!"

"I'm sorry you feel that way. Why don't you sit down?"

Peter complied. "Well?" he said with an indignant eye.

"I am not blackmailing you, Peter," began the Lady firmly. "I am asking you to do something, and if you will not then I will. There is a difference.”

"Difference! I think not, Evelyn. This," he said, raising the incriminating document, "would convict you in a court of law as certain as there's a Pope in Rome."

"Which there isn't," she replied mildly.

Peter's eyes grew incredulous. "What?"

"You, obviously, didn't take time to read the news." She tossed him the folded blanket of paper. Emblazoned in black and white on the cover was a formal photo of the deceased Pope and the tragic headline POPE DIES.

"Tragic," murmured Peter.

"It is," declared his wife. "When a great man dies, it sometimes causes villains like yourself to rethink their wickedness."

"And in what way have I been wicked, dear woman?" Peter's lips played an ironic smile.
Lady Llewellyn's reserve shattered. "You... you dare say such a thing to me, you rascal!"

Before Peter could duck, a small square pillow came barreling into his face. He retreated in discomfiture, rubbing his bruised sky blues. "You've blinded me!" he roared.

"Let the blind bury the blind!" returned his disheveled wife.

"I believe," he replied mildly, wiping away a tear, "that the phrase is 'let the dead bury the dead'."

"And you would quote Scripture to me?" returned the exasperated woman.

"May I remind you, my dear, that you are the one who has profaned the passing of a saint."

"I have done no such thing," said Evelyn, "and you would do well to get down on your knees and beg my forgiveness."

Lord Llewellyn called on the fire of his ancestors. "Your own letter, woman, testifies to my innocence!"

"Innocence?" said Evelyn, aghast that the word would touch her husband's lips. "I am blackmailing you now to preserve our family's good name!"

"Which I have sworn to smear!" cried Lord Peter. He almost threw his cigar down. "Why, if I revealed to the world what I have been doing under the dark of night; the midnight runs to charities, the shell companies sponsoring medicinal research, not to mention my conspiracy to rehouse vast swathes of the labor class, my painstaking attempts to build a reputation worthy of Dorian Gray would be dashed!"

"Confess, Peter! You must confess your innocence to the world."

Peter gripped the stiff neck of the chair. "I will not," he declared, not unlike a seven year old boy.
Evelyn's eyes grew misty and she suddenly collapsed in the chair sobbing.

Peter’s sandy features softened with concern. "Evelyn, I was born by no choice of mine into this diabolical family." He motioned to the walls as if the very structure testified to his imprisonment.

"They all maintained a shining reputation and a shocking private life. The public deserves to know the truth about my peers, if not the truth about myself”

"If they knew what you'd been doing all these years, they would hail you as a public servant. The Prime Minister might acknowledge your friendship. We could actually show ourselves at Albert Hall." Her eyes grew wider. "The Queen might knight you in the end!"

"And then I'd replace the Pope in Rome. You're worse than Lady Macbeth. Besides, did not the good Lord himself say to not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing?”

"I want you to release your records, Peter. For me."

Peter placed his hand on her shoulder. An epic struggle, worthy of Horatius, seemed to wage itself across the bridge of his Roman nose. A single wrinkle humbled his inheritance, and his proboscis surrendered. "Oh, dash it all. I give myself up. I throw myself on the mercy of the court. I will confess my dealings to the world.”

The beautiful Evelyn embraced him. “Oh, Peter, thank you! I know this will be for the best.”

“It will be the scandal of the century. “Lord Llewellyn, infamous sinner turns saint!””

“Dear Peter, you are the salt of the earth!”

Llewellyn grinned. “And you, my dear, are a good egg. Which reminds me... have you had breakfast?"

1 comment:

  1. I think this is one of the best stories you have written so far. One of the parts of your story I especially liked was, when Lord Llewellyn only wants to season his food himself. :) I also thought the pillow fight was humorous. :)
    I agree with Evelyn Llewellyn that the Lord Llewellyn needed to let everyone know what he was really doing. A very good choice of name for Lady Evelyn Llewellyn, it has a flowing ring to it. By the way, what is Lord Llewellyn's Christian name? What about Louis Llewellyn? : )
    ---- Katie Mahoney