Friday, June 13, 2014
New Story A Suitable Position
I hadn’t intended to post another piece here as Rose & Jack and AW took such a long time to write but seeing as Rocket Dave and LG have contributed greatly in keeping the blog going I thought I’d make a contribution of sorts. This may not be to everyone’s taste, as we all know even within the narrow genre of CD/TV fiction people have so many different “hot buttons” as Bea refers to them, but if there’s sufficient interest then I’ll post some more if I can drag (no pun intended) myself away from the World Cup in Brazil.
As usual it would be interesting to read people’s views on it good or bad.
A Suitable Position.©
It had been an interesting if trying few weeks for Robert Kilcoyne, ever since sitting his first year college exams he’d spent most of the time travelling through Europe delighted to be away from the stifling atmosphere of the aunts that had raised him since the death of both parents several years previously. “Aunts” was quite a loose term as they were not related by blood rather they were his mother’s closest and dearest friends and as she considered them sisters from a very young age he always referred to them as Aunt Sophie and Aunt Amelia. They were kind but very protective not to mention quite strict and he found their constant attention very oppressive. After boarding school he had to fight long and hard to attend a university away from his home town and he relished the freedom it brought and was in no hurry to return to a cossetted home life with only his aunts and the domestic staff for company so he was very careful to plan this trip secretly and in fact only told them at the last minute. Naturally when he eventually did tell them it was not received well but that didn’t bother him too much as he was too excited and focused at the prospect of a summer free from women telling him what to do, what to wear, when to be home, always orders, orders, orders, it was so stifling.
He was enjoying his new found freedom but never spent too long in any one place as he’d wanted to experience as much as life had to offer after so many years of excessive supervision by his aunts. It was while travelling through the small principality of Katirinabourg in central Europe close to the border with southern Germany he found himself a little short of funds. He knew full well if he contacted his aunts for money from his considerable trust fund they would be hesitant to forward any amount beyond the fare home and was certain they would insist he return home immediately. He quickly realised he would have to find some a job of some sort to finance the rest of his vacation. Having a coffee in the small picturesque capital he noticed an advertisement in the local newspaper in bold lettering, “A Suitable Position” and below it in smaller print “for the right candidate.”
Apparently it was for a handyman of sorts and he was surprised that the ad was in English but figured that as the tourist season was still some way off he may have a good chance. It was too good a chance to pass up and immediately rang the number deciding it may be best to communicate in German one of the main languages spoken in the principality.
“Guten Tag Ich bin den job uber telefonieren” he said to the voice at the other end.
“The position is for an English speaker” the voice responded quite dismissively.
He quickly reverted to English and explained he thought it more polite to open the conversation in German, the female voice softened and after asking some cursory questions arranged an appointment for the following afternoon with the explicit instruction that all communication must be carried out through English, apparently the lady of the house wanted her staff to improve their English and he thought to himself who was he to argue?
At the appointed time Robert strolled up the driveway of a large Victorian house sitting in expansive grounds in an exclusive neighbourhood. The front door was opened by a blond girl in a grey maid’s uniform which didn’t really surprise him considering the size and location of the house.
“Hiya, my name is Robert Kilcoyne I have an interview for the handyman’s job with a Frau Kirchen.” he said in the cocky and slightly condescending voice he always used to people in service jobs.
“This way, Madam is in the drawing room.” the maid replied in slightly accented but flawless English.
She was an attractive girl, late twenties early thirties he guessed about five six maybe seven and while she wasn’t heavy she certainly wasn’t skinny either and had a more than ample bosom which he could see from the line under her uniform was held in place by a sturdy bra. He always liked big breasted girls and although he wasn’t at all confident with them he thought that a mere housemaid would no doubt fall for his charms. He followed the maid across a large hallway noticing her wonderfully rounded buttocks move in the tight fitting skirt of her uniform dress, as she walked ahead of him her hips swayed with each step in the glorious way that women are designed to do.
Yes, he thought, I really would like some of that.
“I didn’t realise people still worked as uniformed servants these days” he said as he walked alongside her. Of course he knew women of Frau Kirchen’s rank employed uniformed maids after all his aunts retained a number at their town house in London as well as their country estate. He was no stranger to servants and his remark was more to assert his status over this servant girl from the very start. Despite his lack of funds he quite enjoyed the ridiculous and ironic idea of a wealthy young man such as him becoming a handyman for a few weeks.
“Well perhaps you don’t realise either that sometimes people don’t have a choice what job they have to take” the maid replied acerbically, shooting him a sharp look for good measure.
Skivvy – he thought to himself but said nothing and followed in in silence.
She knocked on the drawing room door and entered.
“The person you were expecting Frau Kirchen” the maid said addressing what he thought a middle aged but very glamorous woman sitting on an antique couch. At first glance it was hard to put an age on her but there was no doubt he was very attractive despite her advanced years.
Maybe late thirties,early forties, he thought but couldn’t be sure.
“Madam!” Frau Kirchen said pointedly “Greta, I have told you numerous times, you must address me as Madam.”
“Yes Madam” the maid replied obviously embarrassed at being upbraided in front him, Robert thought.
“Are you not forgetting something else?” Frau Kirchen said.
A slight look of resentment came over the maid’s face as she grudgingly bobbed a quick curtsy, Robert caught her eye and gave her a contemptuous look as she rose.
“Very well you may go.” Frau Kirchen dismissed her.
“So difficult to get proper servants these days” Frau Kirchen said almost absentmindedly before turning to Robert “I require someone to do odd jobs, some basic maintenance and other duties as may be required in and around the house for several weeks or so and as the hours may be erratic the position is live in. I have some important and influential people visiting for time to time and it is vital that they receive the correct impression of a properly run household so you should know that I require total obedience and respect from my servants. Slovenliness, insubordination or impertinence will not be tolerated.”
Robert was taken aback at her tone and put it down to famed Germanic directness, no beating about the bush like the British or Irish. Rozamund Kirchen took a moment to look at the young man in front of her, he was the youngest of the men she had interviewed. She could tell that he was well educated unlike the other applicants several of whom were far too uncouth, he was of average height and though of slight build she concluded manual work should not be a problem. He was presentable enough although he seemed to hunch his shoulders somewhat, his shoulder length dark brown hair was reasonably well kempt and clean, and unlike the others he had no visible tattoos which she felt was totally unacceptable in a servant. She interviewed him for another few minutes to ascertain his suitability for the position and decided if he passed muster he may be of use. After satisfying herself she wrote a figure on a piece of paper and handed it to him and smiled to herself as she watched his eyes widen, his youth and inexperience could not hide his surprise as he took in the number.
She was right of course, the salary was more than generous, far more than he had imagined or expected, however coming from such a privileged background he baulked at the idea of being referred to as a servant – handyman had less servile connotations – however the money would more than compensate and living in he could save most of it knew immediately what he would use it for.
“If the salary is acceptable and you are willing to agree to my conditions the position is yours and once you sign this contract you can start immediately.” she said.
“The salary is more than acceptable Frau Kirchen.” he gushed and hurriedly signed the document she extended to him.
“Very well when we are finished Greta will show you to your room in the servants’ quarters and will make arrangements for your luggage to be delivered here.” she said.
The elation he felt at the substantial salary was now replaced by a feeling of humiliation at the sudden realisation that he was now being referred to as a servant and as if he needed confirmation his new employer added,
“Now that you are in my employ you will of course address me as Madam”
“Yes Madam” he said glad the maid wasn’t present to witness his embarrassment, his new employer continued.
“I have never employed a male servant before so I suppose a curtsy may not be appropriate, a bow of the head is I believe the usual display of respect from a male servant to his mistress, you will do so when entering and leaving a room and also when I speak to you. Is this clear?”
He looked at her almost disbelieving what he had just heard but remembering that she had reminded the maid to curtsy, he felt archaic as they were such gestures appeared to be a requirement of employees in this household. She held his glance and arched her eyebrows in that way women of a certain age or position do when they dare you to defy them.
“Do you have a problem with that? It is a requirement and a non-negotiable clause in your contract but if you feel it is beneath you and you wish to leave ,please do so now.” she finally said with more than a hint of impatience in her voice.
This shocked him into action, the thought of losing such a high salary and what he could do with it overrode the deepening unease he now felt at the idea of being referred to as a “male servant” but this was no time to argue the point.
“No Madam” he said as he bowed his head and felt a twinge of shame, he now understood the maid’s reluctance to curtsy- it was a humiliating experience- but, he thought, bad enough as having to bow was, a curtsy was somehow even more mortifying. He was glad he wasn’t a girl having to perform such a demeaning act.
“Much better, you must understand your salary is generous for a reason. I expect you to follow my orders to the letter- no hesitation whatsoever. Is that clear?”
He was acutely aware of her annoyance and didn’t want to stretch her patience any further.
“Yes Madam” he quickly said and added a bow for good measure.
She got up from behind the desk and walked towards him. The room was so quiet that he could hear a swishy sound as her panty hosed thighs rubbed together as she approached him, she was elegantly dressed in a navy blue knee length silk dress, her auburn hair was brushed into a chignon, a pearl choker with matching earrings gave her a regal look. She seemed to take a great interest in his clothes.
“Have you any suitable clothes a decent jacket, good trousers?” she asked as she fingered his well -worn leather jacket and looked at his jeans with obvious distaste.”
“Well not really I’m travelling light and all my clothes are very casual more for vacation than anything else. I wasn’t expecting to stay this long away.” he explained.
“Madam!” she said quietly as she looked directly into his eyes.
“Sorry.. Madam” he apologised.
“Please don’t forget, it’s very annoying having to remind servants to use the correct form of address to their mistress.” she said.
“Yes Madam, sorry Madam” he replied disgusted at himself for his servile attitude.
“You can wear those for outdoor work” she said gesturing to the clothes he was wearing “I suppose I can find you something for your house duties. One more thing, as I mentioned some very important and powerful people stay with me occasionally and naturally I wish to ensure their security and privacy so I must be sure that my servants are fully vetted. I will need your passport to make the necessary enquiries. Naturally you will receive it back after I have conducted these investigations. For security reasons this is also non-negotiable.”
He didn’t like the idea of handing over his passport but with the papers full of celebrity gossip he could understand it and who knows -maybe he might even meet someone famous. He knew he had nothing to hide so he handed her the passport which she placed in a desk drawer.
She picked up the bell on her desk and rang it twice, moments later Greta appeared.
“You rang Madam” she said and this time didn’t forget to curtsy.
“Greta, Robert here will be my new houseboy, please show him to his room in the servants’ quarters and make sure he familiarises himself with the rest of the house and its rules.”
“Yes Madam” and turning to Robert said “this way”
The word “houseboy” hit him like the slap of a wet cloth and he wanted to protest that he was applying for the position of handyman and not some lowly domestic servant like the maid standing next to him but before he could gather himself Frau Kirchen dismissed them both with a perfunctory
“You may go.”
Alone in the large hallway Greta turned to him with a smirk on her pretty face.
“Not so smug now, are we? Welcome to your new life as a domestic servant.” she sneered as she left him standing, mouth open at the door and made her way across the hallway.
“I’m not a domestic servant” he snapped hurrying after her as she went through a door behind the large staircase.
“Of course you are” she said as he caught up with her “I’m not exactly thrilled by the idea either but it’s what we are. I’m the housemaid and you’re the houseboy – just accept it.”
There was no way he was accepting this but felt any further protest would be just a waste of energy, as he followed her up the back stairs she continued,
“This is the back stairs that the servant’s use” she said ignoring his protestations “we only use the main stairs when either cleaning or bringing something to Madam or her guests. You must always use this stairs to access the servants’ quarters. Oh and another thing always address her as Madam and don’t forget to bow otherwise you get demerits leading to fines and punishments.”
“WHAT!” he said incredulously as he quickened his step to keep up with her “demerits, fines punishments?”
“It’s all in the contract, don’t tell me you didn’t read it before you signed.” she said.
“No” he replied suddenly feeling extremely foolish “I only saw the salary.”
“Of course you did” Greta said condescendingly “well you have little choice now I’m assuming she has your passport.”
“Yes” he said the implications of it handing over now dawning on him.
Robert was still trying to take this in when they arrived at the door of an annex at the back of the building. He followed her through to a large bright and airy living room very comfortably and tastefully furnished. As she showed around him the well -appointed and modern kitchen just off the living room she continued.
“Well it’s not as bad as all that and at least you’re getting extremely well paid but she is strict so you’re going to have to abide by the contract otherwise you could find yourself in trouble with the authorities. As she’s probably told you she has friends in very high places and not averse to using them…. as I know to my cost.”
“What do you mean?” Robert asked.
“Do you think I chose to be her maid? Having to wear this humiliating uniform? To be subject to her outdated rules and regulations? I was originally employed as her physiotherapist and after several months I wanted to leave but because there were still several months left on my contract she refused to release me. Well to make a very long story short she threatened to have her high powered legal team take me for everything and ruin my reputation plus she had my passport. There was a strong possibility I could have been arrested for breach of contract, the law here is a weighted in favour of the rich and powerful. As a punishment for attempting to break the contract I have to work the remainder of my time her as her uniformed maidservant.”
“So you reckon if I want to leave she will take an action against me?” he gasped realising the full seriousness of his situation.
“Believe me you really do not want to cross her” Greta said “and she has your passport. However she is honest and will pay you exactly what she agreed provided you honour your contract.”
“But she advertised the position as a handyman not a houseboy” he said.
“If she referred to you as a houseboy then that’s what’s on the contract and if you didn’t read it heaven knows what else is in there. There probably will be some stuff as a handyman but a lot of your work will be around the house. Another reason she pays so well is flexibility and like everything else it’s in the contract. Like I said- welcome to life as a domestic servant - better get used to it. Now let’s get you to your room and give me the details of where your luggage can be picked up as we’re not allowed leave without permission, the front gate is locked and as you noticed there is razor wire at the top. Oh! By the way if you challenge or displease her in any way you’ll receive demerits, break anything and you will be fined the value of the item so be careful.”
She could see by the look of shock on Robert’s face that her account of life in Frau Kirchen’s household had clearly taken him aback and knew it wouldn’t take long before the full realisation of what he had let himself in for would soon reach his idiotic male brain. She thought it wise to give him some counsel before he did something really stupid.
“Look it’s not all that bad you’re getting great money tax free, no overheads and once you’ve completed your contract you’ll get a large bonus and I mean a large bonus. As you can see this is a very luxurious place to live, and you can even have use of the pool when Madam is not using it. Now come on we need to get you settled. The reason for all the rules and regulations is exactly as she’s told you, she has some very powerful and wealthy friends and she doesn’t want to be embarrassed by her servants so she pays outrageous money for absolute obedience.”
He thought about it as he followed her and concluded maybe she was right after all there were a lot of pluses to the position and the money was great and now there’s talk of a large bonus. His thoughts were interrupted when she stopped at a door.
“This is your room” she said opening the door “I think you’ll find it quite comfortable.”
“But it says ‘Under-housemaid -Bedroom’” he croaked gazing at the painted sign on the door.
“So?” she asked failing to see the problem.
“Don’t you have another room I could use” he muttered horrified at the thought of staying in a girl’s….a maid’s room.
“No, up to now this has always been an all- female household so the rooms are allocated to female servants by their order in the household. As there are no houseboy rooms you’ll use the under-housemaid’s bedroom I’m down the hall in the head-housemaid’s room so technically I suppose I’m your immediate superior” she explained and noticing his mounting discomfort added with a sly smile “if you have a problem with that why not take it up with Madam?”
He hated the idea of every time he entered the room he would be reminded he’d be sleeping in a maid’s room the very notion was so degrading but he knew he would get nowhere arguing and shook his head in response. As he stepped inside the room his worst fears were confirmed- it was undoubtedly a girl’s bedroom. He was surprised at the size of the room which was much larger than he had expected. A queen size antique bed with mahogany head and footboard was covered by a baby blue satin quilt and large matching frilled pillows, a table and two comfortable chairs sat by the large window which looked out onto the extensive rear garden while a triptych dressing table and padded seat fitted neatly into the corner he couldn’t help noticing it was laden with bottles and jars of various sizes and colours. The ruffled faux silk curtains were tied back in a sweep emphasising the ultra- feminine nature of the room and he suddenly felt the same sense of oppressive femininity that he had been hoping to escape from back home. While away at college his aunts had redecorated his room in a not too dissimilar fashion which for him was the last straw in a seemingly constant battle to constrain his growing masculinity and had finally persuaded him that a summer away from their influence would be the best course of action. The irony of his new surroundings wasn’t lost on him.
Was there no escaping this creeping feminisation it seemed to be following him everywhere? he silently cursed to himself and he only half listened to Greta as she pointed out the various features in the room and insisted he accompany her to view the equally spacious en suite bathroom which he noticed was fully stocked with feminine lotions and creams.
“When your luggage arrives you can hang your clothes in here” she said pointing to the sizable closet.
“I won’t need that much space, I haven’t that many clothes.” he replied as she opened the door to allow him to inspect the interior.
“Probably just as well” she remarked as she viewed inside and tried to figure out how much space her new charge would require.
Robert had to stifle a groan as he was confronted with an array of dresses which from the style of Greta’s dress he took to be maids’ uniforms in black and grey, hanging from the rails alongside them on separate hangers were aprons of different styles. Stacked on the shelves were a number of matching white caps of various styles and on the shelves below that several pairs of shoes which he noticed matched the colour of the uniform dresses. She seemed unaware of his discomfort at the sight of the feminine garments that confronted him.
“I’ll see if I can make some extra space by combining the dresses and aprons, here hold these” she casually remarked as she removed a dress from the closet and handed it to him she then took an apron from its hanger.
“Now hold the dress up, no.. a little closer to your body I want to put this pinafore apron over it properly so it won’t be crumpled.” she instructed and became a little irritated when he hesitated. “Oh come on for heaven’s sake I haven’t all day”
The tone of her voice made unsettled him and he did as he was told although feeling decidedly uncomfortable as he did so.
“It won’t bite you it’s only a uniform, hold it closer to your body.” she snapped as he held it almost at arm’s length.
Reluctantly he complied as she drew the frilled apron over the sleeves of the dress and finally noticing his discomfort remarked somewhat mischievously
“Just your size”
He felt his face flush with a mixture of embarrassment and anger but felt she would tease him further if he said anything.
She repeated the process but this time seemed to notice something wrong with the stitching at the hem.
“Oh it’s badly torn, what was that stupid girl doing to cause this” she remarked and he took it that she was referring to the previous owner of the dress, the under-housemaid. She continued,
“I just hope there’s a dress dummy in the attic that I can hang it on as you can see I’ll need to pin it all round to repair it properly.”
Does she really think I give a shit about some stupid dress? he said to himself I just want her to stop yapping and leave me alone.
When she was satisfied at the extent of the repair work that was needed she finally allowed him to put down the dress while she removed more from the large closet and laid them on the bed.
“I’ve got something in the oven for our evening meal that I need to attend to and I need to phone for your belongings so you can make yourself useful by matching the aprons with the dresses like I’ve shown you. I expect Madam will be down later to see if you’re settling in properly so I want to make sure everything is in order.”
She gave him no time to answer as she turned on her heel and left him holding a maid’s dress and frilled apron. He was annoyed at the way she’d ordered him to do something so utterly demeaning as hanging a housemaid’s uniforms but her hasty departure denied him the opportunity to protest and he reluctantly did as he was told. Irritated as he was by her attitude he felt relieved he was alone as he could feel the embarrassment rise in his cheeks when he picked up the first dress and apron he did want anyone one witnessing his extreme discomfort as he went about his task. He was on his last uniform when she returned.
“Not bad” she chirped as she inspected his work “you may make a decent houseboy after all now come along let’s eat.”
He bristled once more at the term houseboy but as they’d already had that conversation he decided there was no merit in contradicting her again and apart from the episode with the uniforms she seemed pleasant enough. He followed her into the kitchen where he was met by the most delicious smell, sitting on the table was the source –a heavy earthenware dish with a golden crust, he hadn’t had a home cooked meal since he left England and he felt his mouth water at the prospect. She motioned him to sit and cut into the pie and handed him the plate. The magnificent aroma made him aware that he had not eaten that day and he wolfed the first few mouthfuls before he remembered his manners and gathered himself to thank her. His obvious gratitude pleased her and he thought perhaps he had been too hasty in judging her after all she was probably in a worse position than him. They had a pleasant conversation and seemed they had shared interests in music, books and art amongst other things maybe having to spend a few weeks here may not be all that bad, he’d stayed in worse places as his money ran low. The sound of the doorbell interrupted their chat and while Greta left the table to answer it he sat back with a second glass of a very fine Burgundy and considered his situation.
Frau Kirchen seemed to have some very strange ideas concerning her employees but from what he’d gleaned from Greta while she may be extremely demanding of those in her employ (he was loathe to even contemplate the word servant) it seemed she was extremely honest in honouring to the letter her side of the contract and expected the same from her hirelings. He reasoned that although the employment arrangements may be somewhat unorthodox the salary was extraordinary and he couldn’t deny the accommodation was very comfortable even if it was the under-housemaid’s room. During the meal Greta had also informed him of his duties and given him a list of chores in the garden which he was to tackle the following morning she’d also mentioned he would also be expected to help around the house. Perhaps it was the wine or maybe he was just coming to terms with his new surroundings but he was beginning to feel more relaxed about his situation when Greta returned carrying a rucksack.
“Your belongings have arrived” she snorted handing it to him “you certainly weren’t exaggerating when you said you hadn’t much by way of luggage. It makes no difference you can use the clothes you’re wearing for outside and if needs be I’m sure we can find something for you for inside work.”
Usually this would have caused an outburst from him but he thought it would be churlish to remonstrate with her after she had provided such a magnificent meal and the wine seemed to have contributed to his mellow mood so he took this news in his stride.
“Yeah we’ll work something out” he said causally.
“Now let’s get these cleared away it’s almost 9pm and time for Madam’s nightly inspection before you retire for the night.” Greta informed him.
He thought this a bit much as it was not yet 9pm and felt another glass or two of wine with Greta might lead to something.
“You’ve got to be joking? I rarely go to bed before mid-night and I doubt that I’ve been to bed at this time since I was a child.” he lied knowing full well his aunts insisted on a similar bedtime when he stayed at home.
“I wish I was but Madam has strict rules about bedtime for new servants. Her belief is that if servants are to perform to the highest standards then they must have adequate sleep which I suppose is hard to argue with. I know of several establishments where the mistresses treat their servants almost as slaves so it could be an awful lot worse and as I’ve already pointed out we don’t really have a choice. The contract and all that.”
Robert knew she was right of course as there had been several articles in the papers recently about house servants being treated abysmally by their employers however he couldn’t allow this to pass unchallenged.
“That’s’ ridiculous” he sniffed “I never heard anything so.. so…..”
“So what?” a voice from behind him interrupted him mid-sentence.