I'm trying to get a feel for who my 'people' are. The male hero is a bit of an enigma to me still.
Stephen was a rich boy.
With a small sigh, he reminded himself that it is his parents who are rich, and his school mates at the prep school in which he was enrolled -- St Qualford Preparatory Academy – automatically assigned this affliction on him. Yes, they were all from rich families, and by sending a boy to St. Qual’s, they intended to have him trained to keep it that way. Even the Nuevo Riche parents planned to mold their progeny into the harsh, claw-for-it-all, heartless little bastards they themselves had turned into. That’s how they got rich; the only way they did.
It was around the age of twelve before he realized it was an affliction; death threats against his father, armed vehicles for travel when he arrived home, isolation, secrecy, even straight out hiding, but when he was a young boy, he believed there was no other way to live. His bathtub was marble, his toy boats were radio controlled, his clothes – rarely the same items two weeks in a row – were immaculately tended, and his nanny treated him with a kind of reverence that was never spared on the rest of the staff. His playmates were generally the other rich parents’ children, and they all acted like the money was already theirs. And they behaved as though his parents’ wealth would soon be theirs, as well.
A familiar sight to his left roused him from thought, and with irritation he pressed hard on the brakes, skidding the Ferrari to a halt. Be damned if he didn’t drive right past his parents’ back gate! Glancing in the dark rearview mirror, he shifted into reverse and performed a three-point turn in the deserted street. At the correct driveway, he pulled in and punched his old code on the keypad. He wasn’t terribly surprised when it didn’t unlock the gate. His good ol’ paranoid parents!
“Mummy? Daddy? I’m hooome!” he breathed sardonically in his Upper Class Twit of the Year Award voice, borrowed from a Monty Python sketch. He picked up the handset and dialed the extension for the groundskeeper’s cottage.
“Yes?” came the brusque voice, completely without friendliness.
“Stew? It’s Stephen. I’m home for a visit.”
“STEVIE!” came the response so loud and exuberant that he had to hold the phone away. “Whacha doin’ back here? We thought ya were still in school! You didn’t get kicked out, didya? You old punk! You must have done somethin’ really bad if yer sneakin’ in the back way! What kind of trouble ya in?”
Stephen brought the phone closer, although completely prepared to jerk it away again if volume control were needed.
“Stew, would you open the gate? I’ve had a bit of a drive. I started out this morning in
“Sure, sure, Stevie. Hold on while I get my glasses.”
Despite his dour mood, Stephen smiled as the handset slammed on the cradle, and he gently placed his back on the hook. Stew Pavlon had been the groundskeeper for twenty-seven years, long before Stephen was even born, and in all that time had probably never brought his glasses with him to answer the phone, nor had he ever politely hung it up. It was part of his charm. Some predictable things were good.
It took nearly three minutes before the whirr of the gate controller prompted Stephen to put the Ferrari in first gear and roll hurriedly through before Stew intentionally reversed the gate short of being fully opened, all in the spirit of security. He waved towards the groundskeeper’s cottage, even though it wasn’t in view, and continued down the drive towards the mansion.
Before he even reached the house, he knew his parents were having one of their famous parties. Looking above the trees down into the valley, the evening mist had a faint glow it got when the house was lit up and that only happened when guests were around. Otherwise, the house was kept dark and discreet, which saved a great deal of money. His parents may have been rich, but his father could pinch a penny until the head side was flush with the tail side. However, parties were always his mother’s idea. When he cleared the woods, he saw Mummy was having quite the soiree. Between the welding arc gleam of every bulb in the house glowing and the mishmash of valet-parked cars, Stephen was certain all of Denver Society was in attendance. He found an open spot by the catering truck by the kitchen and heaved a sigh. Not good timing for this sort of thing.