I'd like to preface this by saying that this story is not finished, but I'm going to work on it as it goes along. Part of the reason is because I want an idea of where to go. I'm actually not sure where to go from here with it, so I figure a review of what I've got so far might help to spur a few ideas and generally improve the story. Selfish reasons, but I actually want this particular to make Suggested Reading if that's at all possible, so I'm going to need every piece of help I can get.
The general gist of the story is pretty much the family of the Delacroys dying. It takes place from the point of view of Redd Copperson, the head butler. There's still quite a bit of work before I get the story where I want it to be.
I've been around here for a long time. You could say I'm the guy who seen it all go down, the guy who watched it all happen. As I sit here in my small apartment writing this, I'm wearing the old, dusty suit that I retired so many years ago. The suit of Redd Copperson, a butler serving at the Hollyharson Manor.
Hollyharson Manor was a pretty place. Cliche, almost, in the way that it hugged up to a coastal cliff of solid granite. When you were out in the back yard, you could hear the waves crashing against the wall of rock combined with a number of squalling seagulls, giving a nice sound that can only be described as the sound of silence - without the silence. The manor catered to a wonderful garden as well. The well cared-for area held a variety of flowers including rose sprays, morning glories, irises, and a certain peach colored flower that I could never really tell the name of. In the center was a cherry tree, growing tall and proud amongst the other luscious plants that sat about the garden.
Even the grass was perfect. It grew tall and straight, bearing a perfect dark green color that allowed for the sun to shine off the early morning dew. But perhaps the best part was inside the massive brick house itself - specifically, the fourth floor, third bedroom on the left-hand side facing the back of the manor. In it was a window that looked out over the back yard. Looking out the window was probably the most exasperatingly beautiful view I have ever seen in my life.
But perhaps the beauty of the manor and its grounds makes it no surprise that the series of events I'm about to relay to you are terrible. Perhaps that makes it no surprise that the horrible events I'm about to relay to you happened to the family that had moved into Hollyharson - nature has a way of balancing things out. Where there's good, there has to be evil. Where there's ripe, there has to be rotten.
I remember the day the Delacroys first moved in. It was bright and sunny, as it usually was during the mid-summer of 1978. They drove into the mouth of the long driveway in their small compact car, pulling themselves around to the front of the manor. Everyone could tell they were richer than a stock market fat cat who had just won the lottery - why they drove in via small compact car was beyond me, and is still beyond me to this day. Perhaps they were trying to make themselves look normal. Perhaps they sought to distance themselves from the stereotypes of the common rich family; those who spoiled themselves rotten and deprived everyone else.
It's even possible they were a normal family who just happened to hit abnormally lucky point.
The first person to step out of the car was James Delacroy, right out of the driver's seat. He was handsome young fellow, probably in his early thirties; the prime of his life. He had a nice moustache and black, medium length hair, slicked back over his ears. The man was wearing a pinstriped business suit with a fancy black tie and strikingly blue dress shirt. But the thing I remember most about him was his blindingly bright red shoes. A pair of shoes that you could tell from a mile away he was proud of.
Second person to come out was his wife, Mary. She was wearing this bright purple dress and enough make-up to cover five Mount Everests. Her black heels could probably be heard clicking on the concrete from a mile away. Her hair was probably best described as a mountain of hair spray with some blond under it. She looked like she was trying to make some kind of unneeded impression.
Then came the twin girls, Layla and Kayla. Unlike their mother, they hadn't taken the time to dig through a massive fashion kit. They were probably too busy playing dress up on their dolls - they couldn't have been more than five years old. They had their nice little Sunday dresses and shoes, and glaringly red hair that looked like a pile of ants had sat on their heads.
And last but not least, came their teenage son Brandon. He was your stereotypical 1978 loner kid with slicked over black hair and punk rock style that put him apart from his family in almost every way. I was surprised his pants even allowed him to walk; they looked so tight that they'd probably shred your legs to bits on the first step.
James walked up to me and shook my hand.
"James Delacroy, nice to meet you," he said with a smile on his face.
"The name's Redd Copperson, head butler," I responded, the same smile on my own face.
"So, this is the house right? Hollyharson Manor. Pretty fuckin' big if you ask me."
"That it is. Though I'd like to think the manor doesn't pride itself on its size. Got a lot beauty on it too."
"Seems nice enough." James commented. "Kids, go find a bedroom. Looks like we've found our new home."
I don't know what it was about him, but James Delacroy was a like-able guy. He just seemed to carry this aura about him - always taking things in this odd-ball goofy stride. Maybe it was the way he acted - always requesting that the staff call him by his name instead of "Master Delacroy" or "Master James." Maybe it was the bright red shoes. Maybe it was his charm with the ladies. To this day, I still haven't figured it out. Maybe it was just the fact that he was different from his family - Mary had this stuck-up attitude about her, always caring more about her hair and make-up. The girls mainly played around the garden, picking some of the flowers or messing about with a doll house. Brandon... well, he usually camped in his room, alone, listening to some kind of static-y noise he called "rock." I don't think he knew what a rock was, let alone what music was.
About a week passed. I was tending to the garden, as I usually did, when I saw James down by the edge of the cliff, picking up rocks and looking at them. He was wearing a pair of tan shorts with a white polo shirt. Curious, I stood up and walked over to his position, and he noticed me fairly quickly. I wasn't trying to be a sneak, after all.
He scrunched his face. "Just call me James."
"Okay. Mind if I ask what you might be doing?" I asked him, making the mental note to stop referring to the man as "Master."
"Ya see this rock, Redd?" he asked. I nodded, observing the piece of stone in his hand. "It's granite. Common igneous rock. I'm examining it to see if I can find some good enough pieces to make a nice little chess set."
"A chess set, sir?"
"Yep." He scratched at the rock with his finger nail, blowing on it. "Maybe you and I can play sometime. After I make the board and stuff, of course. You do know how to play, right?"
"That I do. I was a part of the chess club back in high school." I nodded, with a slight smile.
"Huh, interesting - I was in a chess club too. If you're interested, I was being serious. We really should play some time." He scrunched his nose, looking at the sunset falling over the cliff.
I laughed. "I'd be up for that. A man like me has to do something for fun."
For awhile after that, we made minor chit-chat, gathering granite rocks for carving of the pieces. I suppose that I wasn't a butler to him. Every time he and I would be in the same place, we'd talk and act like friends. He even had me drink with him when I wasn't tending to wife's every whim. For months, he worked on that board, and I helped him do so. For almost two years, nothing was wrong in Hollyharson Manor.
But things slowly did go wrong. Pretty soon, his relationship with his wife deteriorated. Constantly, they'd argue and fight about everything. I heard everything from accusations of theft, to cheating and being unfaithful. I don't honestly think I could blame James for it.
Before I go into the events of that fateful night, I'd like to go into Mary's character. She wasn't like James - she was the very definition of a gold digger. Constantly, she'd yell at the staff for not making everything exactly right. She'd never do anything but her make-up on her own. Every night, she was drunk on wine to the point of pissing herself. The way she treated her kids wasn't of any value either. She was an all-around spoiled brat with the attitude of an ungrateful bitch. And James had enough.
It was on that fateful night that I was sitting in my bedroom, the fourth floor, second bedroom on the right-hand side. Right across from the bedroom with the beautiful view. That was James's and Mary's room - the one with the window. And in it, they were fighting it out like a couple of pigeons over the last of a piece of bird seed. I was expecting that at anytime he'd knock on my bedroom door, we'd have a beer, and he'd rant about his wife's infidelity.
But that wasn't what happened.
I was paying little, if any, attention to the yelling, smoking my cigarette and reading my book. The yelling and screaming soon stopped, but it was followed by the loud crash of glass resonating through the floor. I immediately put the book down, not even marking my place, and ran out and across the hall, opening the door and entering that bedroom.
And James stood, a mixture of shock and fear on his face. He was holding a broken lamp, looking down at the floor. I could tell you that he was so pale his hair never looked darker.
And on the floor was his wife.
She was laying face-down, blond hair now dyed a bright red with the blood coming from her head. Her skull had to have been cracked into a million pieces. I don't know how hard she was hit, but it was clear: she was dead.
I couldn't tell you how wide my mouth was open, but my jaw certainly hit the floor. James looked at me with those eyes of shock and guilt.
"Redd, what am I gonna do? All I did was ask for a divorce and she started yelling... and everything went black and I hit her... Oh god, what have I done, Red?!"
That was the first time I'd ever seen that man cry. I couldn't tell you how horrible it looked; how... pitiful. I felt nothing but sympathy as he bawled, asking me what to do. I don't know what prompted the response I took that day. Maybe it was because the children couldn't lose both their mother and their father. Maybe it was because I felt sympathy. Maybe it was some kind of odd bias I had towards my friend.
"Wrap the carpet up around the body. There's an area in the backwood, across from the manor. Small little area, but it's big enough to dig a hole," I responded. "I'll get the blood cleaned up. Lock the door behind you and don't unlock it until six."
He responded with a small "alright", and we wrapped the blood-stained carpet around the body, leaving nothing but the staining puddle on the floor. He quickly ran out, bringing the mop and cleaning supplies. He picked it up bridal-style, as the kids call it, and carried her out the door. He locked it behind him using his leg to prop the body up with one hand holding it and the other holding the key. I began mixing the proper cleaners together.
I spent what must have been hours cleaning up that stain. The moment it was done, I simply waited that next thirty minutes until six in the morning came. James unlocked the door, having come fresh out of the shower and washing the blood and tears off of his hands. I went to the bathroom, quickly washing myself down, and we sat on the bed.
"What're we gonna tell the kids, Redd?" James muttered. I looked at him, shaking my head. We stayed there, speaking quietly, attempting to make some kind of plan, I guess. This old man couldn't tell you what we were doing that night. Perhaps it was the stress of that night, or some supressed memory, but this is where my memory fails me. But perhaps that's for the better.
The next morning, James told the kids that their mother had just left overnight after their argument, and just broke the lamp out of anger. He told them that she wasn't coming back; that she'd called some hot-shot kid in a black leather jacket with a greased up convertible that gets 900 miles to the gallon. And they believed every word he said. Brandon didn't seem to care too much; perhaps he had the same opinion of his mother that I did. The girls just sat and cried, wanting their mother to come back as their father comforted them. I could tell though; he couldn't do much. He was heartbroken himself.
I do remember clearly, however, that he wasn't wearing those bright red shoes anymore.
James had walked into that room last night a man who was somewhat cheerful, only intent upon asking for a divorce for sake of himself and his children, and he had walked out holding a bloody carpet with his wife's body engulfed in it; he had walked out a broken man. The next time we played chess on the board that he made, he surrendured the game; if to do nothing else, but to cry. Sometimes I think that the guilt on his soul was too much for him to bear. Now and then, I would see him in the bedroom, third bedroom on the left-hand side, looking out the window with the beautiful view.
It was about two months afterward when he finally relayed to me the guilt that was crushing his soul.
"You know, Redd, I keep wondering. I keep wondering if we did the right thing. Maybe I should've turned myself in that day." He moved a pawn on the chess board to E5.
"I don't think that. I think you did what was best for your family, James." I took his pawn with my queen.
"Redd, I killed someone! I ended a life. A life that could never come back. And over what? A divorce. I came in to get a divorce, Redd." He shook his head. There was a sadness in his eye as he moved his knight to take my queen. "This wasn't what I wanted to happen."
"I know, my friend. I know. But the children can't afford to lose their father." I took his knight with a bishop. "Checkmate."
James examined the board. It was a checkmate; I had his king blocked in three different places, all through a strategic war of attrition over E5.
He looked up at me. "You're probably right. They can't afford to lose me. And I don't want to lose them, Redd. They're all I've got."
"How about we have a couple drinks? Take your mind off of your wife."
That night, we had enough drinks to fill a horse and then some. We laughed and joked, told each other our stories and memories. It reminded me of the old times, if they were old enough to call old yet.
It wasn't long after that when Brandon moved out. It was the New Year of 1981. 1981 was something of a good year. Nothing extraordinarily terrible happened. James and I would laugh and play chess, drink some whenever the girls went to bed. 1981 had been what I'd probably consider the best year of my life. The garden grew with very little weeding needing done, and James and I would constantly gather granite from the cliff edge to carve various statues and figurines from. However, it was the next year that something truly horrible happened to James.
I remember the doorbell ringing that night. I opened the door, and there stood a man in a black business suit, looked like your average secret agent stereotype with a frown on his face and straight stature that towered over mine. Any man under 5 foot tall would've pissed themselves upon viewing this 7 foot 6 inch man, at least, I'm guessing was his height.
"Are you James Delacroy?" he looked at me.
"No sir. Redd Copperson, head butler." I responded kindly.
"I need to speak to James, please."
I called James down, and went back upstairs in order to set up a new chess game.