In-Laws Out

October 22, 1896
Charles Birchwood

It was scarcely 9AM when the knock on the door came. Had I know what was to follow I likely would never have opened the door. Strange as it seems, it is these small decisions which set our course and indeed, control the very world we live in.

“Charles, good to see you son. Stand aside, stand aside.” Mr. Pauper rambled as I opened the door.

Shocked, surprised and annoyed, I stepped aside to allow him entry.

“Dad! What are you doing here?” Caroline asked.

I turned to give her a warning look for her rather rude greeting. It is no matter I was thinking the same, it is imperative that such thoughts not be given voice. Caroline visibly paled, but I am not certain if it was the look I gave her or the one her father gave her.

Orville Pauper squeezed himself through the doorway by holding his breath and sucking his gut in. It was almost not enough and I instantly entertained the horrid thought that he might be unable to leave. He sucked air recovering his former glory and all the while continued to glare at his daughter, my wife.

“We must have a word in private, Charles.” He said once he stopped wheezing.

Caroline’s outburst was indeed rude but his pointed ignoring of it and unannounced visit seemed just as rude if not more so. Still, it is better to politely smile than antagonize a man who could crush your entire body under the weight of a single leg.

“Of course, this way.” I said and led him toward my private study of the living room.

Caroline started to follow until our eyes met. Then she turned and headed up the stairs. She is learning although sometimes slower than others.

In my study Mr. Pauper sat on my desk causing it to creak under the strain. I stepped to the bookshelf where I keep a bottle of whiskey for entertaining purposes.

“Drink?” I asked.

“Not today.” He replied.

I was surprised. It is the first time since I have known Caroline’s father that he has turned down anything meant to be swallowed.

“Pleasantries aside then, allow me to echo my wife. Why are you here?”

“I’ve had some disturbing news and I came to learn the truth from the rumors.”

“And what have you been hearing?”

“Caroline is attending college here?” He asked.


“Why on God’s Earth would you allow it?”

The desk moaned as his weight shifted.

“Not that it is any of your concern but I have never before seen Caroline take an interest in my work. I can see no downside to her expanding her knowledge.”

“Are you blind or just daft?”

“You are a guest in my home Orville.” I said.

“Stop pretending you have a spine, you married my daughter. I know better.”

“I think you can leave now.”

“You think? I believe not. Sending my daughter to college does not speak well of thinking nor do your recent actions, siding with the harlots of Primrose against your country.”

“Your daughter is my wife and she is no longer your concern. What I allow her to do or not do is solely my discretion and I have not sought nor do I desire your council. As to matters of taking sides against my country, I choose to take offense at the suggestion I am not loyal to it. What I will side against is easily manipulated masses eager to do violence against defenseless women.”

“You talk big now. You don’t know what you are up against or the hell you are about to bring down on yourself and your family. If you have any sense in your head, you will resign immediately and get your family as far away from here as possible.”

“That sounds like a threat Orville. Perhaps I should report it as such in light of the recent riots.”

“You’ve been warned. I’m washing my hands of the whole lot of you. You are not a smart man Charles, you are not a brave man. If you don’t listen to me now, I promise you will regret it for the rest of your life.” He said.

The desk emitted a cracking sound as he pushed himself off of it and headed for the front door at a falling boulder’s pace. He began squeezing himself out the front door and I had to fight the urge to laugh.

“Get out of my home and don’t ever come back.” I said.

I slammed the door closed even as he was extracting the last parts of himself from the doorway. I heard him shout and the loud sound of tumbling lard on wood. When he hit the ground at the bottom of the stairs I could feel a low rumble in the floor. I looked down to see my fist was clenched and my knuckles were white. I do not much like being told what to do and even less being insulted in my own home.

No comments: