I have a sign on my front door that says “The cats own the place, i just pay the mortgage.” This short story is based on that idea. I really hope you enjoy it, it was a real trip out to write. ~ Ben John Smith
William And Sylvia ~ Ben John Smith
The first year I moved into my own house was one of the more memorable periods of my life, not for any excitement I had to offer the time myself, nor was anything I was doing to enhance the experience new or Avant Guard. It was however the first time I was to ever meet two characters that would unconsciously affect the very core of my being and, more importantly, my perception of true love.
Mr William and Madame Silvia were the owners of a small town house for rent in the neighborhood I had grown up in a very middle class part of Melbourne, Australia. The town had, at the time, the only petrol station in Victoria that still employed staff to hand pump your gas while you sat in your car. It had a small bakery and a heritage listed jail cell that was rumored to have once held the infamous Ned Kelly during an overnight stop while traveling by horse and carriage.
Being a man of poor health myself and financially unstable to say the very least, I was offered a comfortable abode in the houses most humblest of rooms after a short interview the day after I first contacted Mr Williams minder by telephone. The room was a small three walled space at the front of the house with an amenities closet, double bed and a small window overlooking the drive way and front yard. The neighborhood was quiet yet ambient, the small tress on the nature strips were wrapped with blue LED lights that turned on of an evening and gave the entire court a safe and homely feel.
Unable to work in their condition (the pair had crippling narcolepsy and would often nod off mid sentence) I would pay the bulk, if not all of the mortgage. After careful negotiation In return, I was allowed an extra two rooms. The first a very pokey and dusty library in which I stored my collection of books from my travels in Europe, a sabbatical after failing miserably in the last years of my later years of schooling, mainly due to my perchance of falling to the bottle and bad woman instead of the books. The second space, a dark and wet room where I could store my type writer, record player and suitcases. I would spend most of my time in this room, flicking over newspapers and listening to Nina Simone records, it seemed to be the only room the others in the house cared little for, until the installation of a modern style communication device, but that was towards the end of my time and meant little to the bones of this story so I shall pass it over only lightly enough to ensure you that it happened and we did indeed move along with modern times.
To spread the thin budget even thinner, I was to share my room with a boarder. This wasn’t a bad thing. The double bed I was to share was with a woman I had known since we both finished our studies in high school and had spent the following year away in Europe and parts of Asia together. She was a perfectly beautiful woman with firm buttocks and large pear shaped breasts, who enjoyed yoga and was an acclaimed gymnast in her younger years. A woman with a body that I had never before and never will again have the pleasure of enjoying. She was my best friend, perhaps in all fairness, my only friend and while we often made love and I could say without shadow of a doubt that she deserved a much better life than I could give her. Our relationship transcended popular believe in love, it was a camaraderie above any manifest romance, however in all its depth, in all its magic; seemed rather stale in comparison to the burning connection of Mr William and Madame Sylvia.
William had been cut from a very fine cloth. He had perfect, long white, hair. Hair that would flow down his neck like the mane of a lion; his small yet chiseled face sat with purpose above his strong, lean and slender body. he had the air of a composer mixed with a multimillion dollar playboy, yet all the while, a childlike giddiness played in every one of his mannerism. From what I knew he was a well bred sort, spending most of his early life in the small confides of what must surely have felt like the window of a pet shop. William was waited on hand and paw by carefully selected, yet surely underpaid, servants. While, having a genetic predisposition to deafness and skin cancer due to his alabaster hair and bright pink skin, he had at an early age endured many shots, vaccinations and diagnosis that his class could afford. His skin almost porcelain, pink ears and that subtle albino redness around his eyes only aided more to the simple, calm and natural beauty of a attractive, almost feminine, example of the highest class of bourgeois elitism. He was the most perfect specimen of his kind I had ever seen and, in my modest innocence, was besotted by his charm, his air, the way he held himself; I was completely in awe of his presence which I now believe, in turn, kept me in that house perhaps longer than I should have stayed.
William had acquired the house first, as a very young man, ensuring his rule over the palace by claiming the main sleeping quarters, the lounging room and the small patch of garden as his own. Every morning he would walk through the iris and sunflowers I had planted. I had stolen the bulbs and seeds from a court market and planted them in winter, thinking little of them till they bloomed in spring. I felt that him admiring them was a tip of the hat to my impressive, if not extremely lucky, creation of floral color and scent. Mr William knew what he wanted and being the well educated sort, took control with a subtle, yet ruthless precision. he was a strong, proud individual, yet his cool, white, calm was only nerved; ever, by the summer introduction of Miss Sylvia to the house…
Miss Sylvia was a rather frumpish sort, the all sort bastard breed of the unwanted. her upbringing was spotted with cruel neglect and abandonment. Left for dead as a small child, an orphaned Sylvia was rescued by an extremely caring older Italian lady whom had recently lost her husband. she was welcomed into an extremely large family; fed and watered until she was strong enough to fly the proverbial coop. raised among at least 30 other children, 2 ferrets and a very posh and overly obnoxious pea cock, Sylvia fought a path to exposure and kept her keep by watching the house for rodents, re arranging woolen balls and supplying company to her landlord, who only asked a warm cuddle of a nighttime and the pleasure of an open ear. She left the house with little emotion, hardened by the love and strength only being part of a large family could ingrain into a battler, shortly after her tenth birthday. She found cheap board, free warm meals and medical care she so desperately needed with William and his family, who in themselves felt an emptiness that a childless house couldn’t offer.
I was a poor writer who was skylarking as a industrial painter, mainly to cover the weekly house payments and also to get me out of a house that had become so intensely electric since the addition of Sylvia to the house. In the beginning the pair quite simply had nothing to do with one another. Nonchalantly passing each other without so much of a sideways glance. The two mealy existed in the same home with a mutual understanding of ambivalence. I, being the silent and equally ignored 3rd party however, would often spy one or the other sneaking lingering looks from behind their newspapers or from the corner of a doorway.
The shift from apathy to interest was swift and the madness of the new couple often came in the heart of the night. Feet stomping across the finely coated floor boards. The pairs relationship, the one I was to be an observer of, due will or want, was immediately fiery. Their meals, which they always ate in a bleak, uncomfortable silence, the only noise their hungry mouths crunching the cheap food I could barley modestly afford. It was extremely rare to see them together sharing notice; let alone pleasantries – but I was certain none the less the two were courting. My suspicion was proved in the early days of autumn, when I caught the pair sleeping in the fallen petals of my iris, naked and licking at one another’s face quietly. At first their relationship had taken me by surprise, you see I always had a sneaking suspicion that William was closet homosexual. A man that pretty could hardly only chase the affection of one sex, surely. He would watch me shower, pawing quietly at the lacquer trails that ran down the old moldy glass door of my on-suit shower. I was quiet sure he was a homosexual, his perfect semi olive green eyes constantly watching me attend to the garden, falling asleep mid stare; he had the flirting style of a lazy pre teen; he would rather me wallow in the lack of his affection but still offer the tease of his allure. She was different in that since. She would lay sexily around the house, always there when I was to open a door or close the refrigerator. The romance of her absence made me passionate, and, the scarcity of her appearance, while all the while rarely leaving the house – excited me… she was boringly compassionate. she had a alert but stable wildness, him a casual calmness, but like all woman Silvia had a break neck splatter into explosive retreat if she ever felt threatened.
Like all connections the two took a painstakingly slow approach to affection, coolly cold in the first few months in which we shared the house which was always in various stages of renovation. either the walls being painted, the garden a perpetual forest or swamp land and a kitchen that would more often than not be covered by a collection of beer and white wine bottles. I took to drinking more and more as the unstable air of the home wavered from respectable communion to anxious resentment. Sylvia would spend most of the night on the couch with my friend, the yoga enthusiast, drinking red wine and talking of the fault of men while me and William would retire to slumber, him quietly at my feet; and while there was a sexual tension that a knife could carve, we never made love – not even when alone in the home or the two of us drunk enough to cross that boundary of taboo. Through the guilt he felt for a woman who made it difficult to love or the threat of blackmail and ridicule, william remained the higher class gentleman that his dynasty would be proud of.
In coming years the pair, though the boredom of flirtation, became playfully together in a love on and a love off relationship. They rolled around the rug on the living room floor in a drunken romance that we very rarely witnessed. The connections were only afforded in times when they thought the watchful eyes of their two lodgers were closed. Like all crazy love, the flipped opposite of the sheltered moments of tenderness shared bitter and bizarre moments of cruelness. A morning after a particularly bad night I remember walking past William sulking past the newly planted magnolias, his face cut from eye to lip, his soft white hair matted with dried and hard black blood. Sylvia spent the next four days sleeping under the kitchen table in a melancholy somber. This proved to be the first step in the downward spiral.
One morning, while shaving before work, I noticed a small black stain, which on closer inspection un expectantly turned out to be an embryo, strangely covered with small brown feathers, stuffed behind the wicker laundry basket. I rolled up the small pouch of liquid and light bones into a roll of toilet paper and slid it out a small gap in the window that opened onto the thick brush of the sidewalk garden.
One night while wildly drunk and after being kicked out quite loudly from my bedroom by my hung-over partner, Silvia joined me on the living room couch. The couch is where I would always sleep if I was ejected from bed or if I had soiled myself during the night. Silvia herself seemed drunk, or high, at either rate morbidly open and excitable. Half lounged on her back, one leg in the air and the other shoving a foot into her mouth, licking dry black blood from her toes lazily. Feathers flipped in the wind of her breath, matted in her hair.
William waltz in behind her, a slow strut; the head of a fresh kill rolling around his jaws – his perfect white hair again, splattered with blood.