I wrote this a couple of years back I think, as the start of a possible extended story. When I found it the other day, I edited it up a bit, then cut it off at the end of the first scene to make it a short story.
It's not great, but I think it's upload-worthy. And anyway, gives all of you up at this ungodly hour something to read. All critique welcome.
Interestingly enough, it was this short tale that started my obsession with the name Maxwell, in every story I have written since, (excluding short tales), I have included a Maxwell as a supporting character. I'm not really sure why. Maxwell has been a soldier, a barman, and more recently, a sheep.
“Nothing beats a really good cup of tea”, mused Maxwell quietly to himself as he sat down in his favourite armchair. It was red, and squishy, and sank about an inch when he lowered his considerable posterior into it. He always felt at home in that chair, to him, that chair was pleasure incarnate.
He was looking out the window at his garden, his pride and joy. All fifteen acres of it spread out around his manor in a sprawling mass of untrimmed hedges, cracked stone paths and unchecked weeds. Maxwell never tended his garden. He was one of those people who felt that a good garden was a wild one, and told his despairing mother this whenever she came round. She was there now, perching awkwardly on a hard wooden stool, (she hated the red armchairs; they did nothing for her back). The garden was a thing of constant annoyance to her, and not the only thing either. She was persistently going on about the state of the place. The floors were in need of a good hoover, the drapes were dusty and faded, and the conservatory had a broken window pane, through which tendrils of vines had begun to creep.
“Maxwell dear”, she muttered, “I do wish you would let me dust that mantelpiece, it really is very dirty.”
Maxwell sighed. He wouldn’t let her, not now, not ever. He had a reputation to keep up.
For you see, Maxwell was crazy. Or at least that was what the village children called him. He was in fact, of completely sound mind, but he liked the thought of being ‘crazy old’ Mr Lambert in his ‘big spooky house’.
“No.” He said simply.
It was his mothers turn to sigh. She was an elderly lady, in her eighties, but still fit as a fiddle. She had recently begun taking Judo classes, and was fast becoming the best pupil in her class. She had been told on a very regular basis by her many children, (excluding Maxwell), that she was, ‘too old’ for that sort of nonsense. She was however, just as stubborn as Maxwell.
“But Sugarplum”, she minced, “we can’t have the neighbours round again. They’ll think we just don’t care.” She was referring to the incident last week, when a kid has kicked his football into Maxwell’s garden, climbed over the wall to fetch it, and ended up getting lost in a hawthorn thicket, up to his eyes in stinging nettles. His parents hadn’t been best pleased.
Maxwell of course, couldn’t care less, and was too busy drinking his tea to pay it any real thought.
“They’ll get over it Mother”, he sighed. Out of the corner of his eye, he’d noticed a small figure creeping across his lawn, (which came up to the lads armpits). It was Jimmy Layton, the little tyke. Maxwell smiled to himself. This was why he hadn’t cut his grass. When the kids started getting dared to trespass in his garden he knew he was doing something right. His crazy old rich guy reputation was still intact, despite his mother’s best efforts.
“Ever since you got this place, people have been complaining about the state of it.” She continued, “It used to be so nice.”
Maxwell had bought the house three months ago, after its past owner, (a very dull old philosophy professor who, in Maxwell’s opinion, had been no fun at all), and ever since he had let it turn wild. The former owner had been a perfectionist, keeping every blade of grass precisely two centre meters long. Maxwell had thought it a travesty to nature, and had told his mother so.
“It used to be a shambles.” He retorted, “So neat and tidy. What’s the point of having a charismatic old manor like this if you don’t give it a few cobwebs?”
Once more, his mother sighed, “but it’s dirty.”
“It’s cluttered and unordered and confusing!” his mother gasped, exasperated.
“It’s perfect for playing hide and seek!” Maxwell grinned.
“And just who is going to play hide and seek!”
“I will. I found a fantastic hiding place in the loft, behind a pile of old boxes that snooty professor left.”
“On your own?”
“It’s more fun that way! You don’t have to worry about anybody finding you.”
Mrs Lambert had reached the end of her tether.
“I do despair sometimes Maxey, you know that don’t you?”
“Yes,” he replied simply, finishing his tea.