This week’s prompt for Paired Prose is “avaricious.” Check out Andy’s entry HERE!
“You’re quite right about them all, you know,” said Edwin, pouring steaming liquid into a teacup. He then lifted the teacup and saucer from the silver tray it was on and handed it to Marcus. “I’ve never seen such a ravenous group of people in all my life,” he continued in his proper English accent. “And the unabashed ferocity with which they continue to assail you boggles the mind.”
Marcus sat in a lavish chair, curled in a blanket, and sipped the tea his butler had prepared, nodding in agreement. The fire beside him roared and splashed light around the massive and ornate room.
“It all changed once I had my money,” he said, teacup shaking in his hand, but making sure to raise his pinky into the air. “They came out of the woodwork so fast! I didn’t know how to react to them, the people I once called my family, my friends, all coming to me with their hands out, wanting me to just give them my money.”
“As though they have any claim to it whatsoever,” Edwin interjected. “You earned the money yourself, with nothing but your wits and determination, and I should say they have no right to it.”
“No they do not,” agreed Marcus.
“Rather I think they would try to do as you did,” continued Edwin. “Is it so unreasonable that they might be expected to use their intelligence and ingenuity to create something? Contribute to society and better it as you have?”
“Don’t hold your breath for that,” laughed Marcus.
“Perhaps not,” replied Edwin. “They have proven rather…unscrupulous, haven’t they?”
“To say the least.”
“Perhaps it is indeed the most prudent course of action to remain detached from them,” Edwin resumed, “it may be nigh impossible to tell your true friends from the rabble at the moment.”
Marcus handed the teacup back to Edwin, who took it delicately and replaced it on the silver platter.
“Isn’t there anyone I can trust?” asked Marcus despondently.
“That is not for me to answer, sir,” replied Edwin. “But as you have asked, my observations would demand that I answer in the negative at the moment, I’m sorry to say.”
“Are you?” came a voice from across the room. The two men turned to see a woman standing in the doorway, her hands on her hips and her black hair around her shoulders. She wore heels and a red skirt, a black blouse tucked into said skirt.
“Carmen?” Marcus queried, standing from his chair. “Carmen, what are you doing here?”
“Indeed,” said Edwin, somewhat forcefully. “I must insist that you leave at once! You are most unwelcome in this home right now!”
“Marcus,” said Carmen, striding forward into the room. “I’m here to check on you, to help.”
“Madame,” said Edwin, moving to intercept her, “you are trespassing and are not to disturb Master Marcus. I must insist-”
“Oh, you must insist?” Carmen retorted, practically yelling. “You must insist?! You have been keeping my brother from his family for months now and you think that you’re the one who can insist here?!”
“Your brother does not wish to see you lot,” answered Edwin, stepping in the way of Carmen. “Your begging and scrounging for his wealth has gotten completely out of hand!”
“He only thinks that way because of YOU!” shouted Carmen. “Nobody was begging for anything!”
Marcus sank back into his chair, humming to himself and covering his head. Carmen, noticing this, pushed past Edwin and rushed to his side.
“Marcus, it’s ok, it’s ok,” she said, reaching out to touch his head. Marcus peeked from under his arms at his sister, who was smiling reassuringly.
“Carmen?” Marcus asked, timidly. Carmen was about to reply when suddenly Edwin was at Marcus’s side, as well.
“You see how she upsets everything by her mere presence, sir?” he said into Marcus’s ear. “The whole lot are practically savages. She’s broken into the house today, who knows how many times she’s done it and stolen from you?”
“Oh my god,” said Carmen, looking at Edwin as though for the first time, “you’re the goddamn devil, aren’t you?”
“I rather look upon you in the same light,” replied Edwin, somehow maintaining an air of propriety while snarling at her.
“Marcus, how can you think that we’re trying to steal from you?” asked Carmen, ignoring Edwin. “We’re your family, we’re so happy for you.” She stroked Marcus’s head lovingly.
“As though we haven’t heard that nonsense before,” deflected Edwin. “She is nothing if not cunning, sir.”
“Nobody wants anything but for you to be happy,” continued Carmen. “Some of us simply got ahead of ourselves, got a little selfish. But that’s all in the past now.”
Marcus looked up at Carmen, who was smiling down on him.
“You promise?” asked Marcus, timidly.
“Of course, sweetie,” replied Carmen, pulling Edwin’s head close to her bosom. “Your so-called butler has been lying to you. He’s got some plot to keep us away and get your money for himself. We’ve been trying to tell you this for so long. We love you.”
“Sir,” said Edwin, “I must protest to her characterization. You know that she and her lot have been trying to steal from you. You’ve found the evidence yourself, I’ve had nothing to do with it!”
Marcus pulled Carmen in closer and sobbed silently.
“Get out, Edwin,” he said. “You’re fired.”
“Sir, I do protest.”
“You heard me,” said Marcus, more forcefully. “Get out of my home.”
Edwin stood upright, resuming his gentlemanly posture,and tugged his jacket straight.
“Very well, sir,” he said, as prim and proper as ever, “I shall gather my things and be on my way.” He then turned on his heel and strode from the room.
Marcus pulled Carmen even closer, weeping from the stress.
Carmen tightened her grip around her brother.