Unlucky to be Lucky

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1. Cats

What had he just said? It was clear to Cashew that this man was of the same breed as that woman who had laughed in front of him 20 years ago. They were all mocking him, laughing without a care in the world and coming back and appearing in front of Cashew as if nothing had ever happened! And now this, an offer from the son of a murderer, to come and work for him in his mansion... Cashew had only one thought right now- he had to kill him. He hadn’t avenged his parents deaths until he had tortured the man from 20 years ago in the same way as he had done to Cashew. As soon as he finds the gardening scissors he had lying around he was going to stab this offspring of the devil. He didn’t care that there were people around him, if they took something precious from him, he will take something precious from them!

“Please,” Monsuta spoke once again, there was a strange urgency to his voice, and his black eyes showed a mixture of pleading... or curiosity? “You can have as much money or use any of the possessions in my mansion, but I immediately sensed something special within you and I cannot leave until you accept my offer”.

There! Cashew felt the scissors in his grasp and swung wildly out towards the blonde’s neck. However, at that exact moment the other man’s eyes suddenly sparkled and he ducked down to one of the potted plants placed on the ground, letting cashew slice the air instead. “Oh my, weren’t these once beautiful too! These are also chrysanthemums, are they not?” Standing up once more, Monsuta happily shouted “I’ll buy these later!” As Cashew could only stare in shock and disgust.

Regaining his composure (and luckily no one saw his blind frenzy, he continued to further examine Monsuta’s appearance whilst he thought of what to do next. Monsuta was quite handsome and uniquely dressed in expensive yet messily un-ironed and untucked clothes. He wore a black blouse and a dark, stripy waistcoat. This was accompanied with a dark grey cravat and breeches. Finally he had long, dark boots with red laces which went up to his knees, and a long tailcoat which was black and had a pattern of orange-red maple leaves which swooped down to the floor. Cashew was momentarily thinking how his good looks were wasted on this guy’s bad family history when, before he could act any further, an idea seeded itself into his head. Before long his idea grew and bloomed and soon enough he answered with certainty in his voice the words “I accept your offer... Name’s Cashew.” Instantly Monsuta’s face lit up and he vigorously shook his hand, a grin spreading on his lips. Cashew knew that this was an opportunity for him- he would learn more of Monsuta and his father and then kill both of them in the most brutal and painful way possible.

“Stay here.”

Monsuta was left gazing by the chrysanthemums while Cashew went to pack his belongings. Inside the flower shop he flipped the sign on the door to ‘Closed’ and grabbed a satchel, filling it with equipment he thought he would need for the next night or two. (It won’t take long to take care of Monsuta, I’ll get to his house, end his life and then find and make a plan on torturing the father) he thought to himself, then went behind the counter and, after making sure no one was watching him, opened a secret trap door which led to a long staircase. Once down, he was welcomed by an enormous underground lab which, at present and to his surprise, was engulfed in smoke and flickering lights.

“What in the world have you done this time, Shirley?” Cashew wheezed as he frantically waved his hand to get rid of the smoke.

“Oh I’m sorry you had to come in at this exact moment,” a woman in a half burned, white lab coat and large, slanted glasses emerged from the smoke. She was tall and slender, and had her long hazel hair tied in a messy pony tail. This woman had been his mother figure from the moment she took him in after his parents murder, and Cashew loved her dearly. Nevertheless, she was a crazy underground scientist that knew no limit when it came to experimentation.

“I have found the son of my parents murderer.”

“Your going with him?” As Cashew started walking away, he heard a sigh from behind. Turning, he saw Shirley leaning on a wall, hands crossed and looking worriedly at him. “I have a bad feeling that you won’t be as lucky with this one as you have been in the past... but I can only hope that you remember what we’ve taught you and that your abilities will be enough to protect you.”

It was true that he was capable in protecting himself. After the murdering incident of the people in the whole apartment block which he had lived in, Cashew became an orphan with no home. He lurked on the streets and learned to be quick, cunning and sly. He stole to survive and fought anyone who came in his path, becoming quite unstoppable, but then he broke into Mearl’s shop and was met with a secretly powerful gardener unlike anything he had ever seen before. Apparently Cashew reminded the man of himself as a kid and Merl, with his wife, Shirley, by his side, put Cashew back into society, teaching him how to put his dark past away and how to become a good person.

Cashew was about to leave when he quickly thought of one last thing to pack into his satchel, and grabbed two jars from inside a dusty drawer before giving a final wave to Shirley and going back up the stairs. To his dismay he found that Monsuta had got bored of looking at the flowers and was now sitting inside with a dark blue cat on either side of him. He was reading a book and mumbling to himself. At the appearance of Cashew he quickly shut the book and jumped up and out of his seat.

“Do you have all your things?” Monsuta asked giddily, “these are my two cats, this one is-“ Monsuta was cut off by an expressionless Cashew storming past him towards the exit.

“I thought I told you to wait outside,” he grunted. (It seemed that Monsuta was too engrossed into his book and his cats to notice the secret trap door), Cashew thought with relief. When both men and cats were out of the flower shop, Cashew quickly packed away the flowers and then they set off towards Monsuta’s carriage.

“Just because a cat is purring doesn’t mean that the cat is happy.”

Confused, Cashew looked over to where Monsuta was walking beside him. The blonde was reading from his book again as they all made their way to the carriage.

“Cats often make the sound when they’re content, but they also purr when they’re sick, stressed, hurt or giving birth...” his voice trailed away when he realised Cashew was staring at him. “Oh! You’re interested too?”

“No” Cashew replied curtly. How shameful! To even suggest that he would enjoy anything of the same as his murderers. “When are we going to reach your carriage?”

Monsuta grinned, “you sound like a child on a long road trip, but worry not, we have reached it!”. In front loomed a dark and half broken, wooden carriage, attached to two black horses. The two cats jumped up to the driver’s seat, but before Cashew had time to see who would be driving them, Monsuta swung open the carriage door and gestured for him to sit inside.

Cashew had suspected that Monsuta somehow recognised him as one of his fathers unfinished jobs, and they were taking him to be killed somewhere where no one could find them, but Monsuta had fallen asleep nearly as soon as the carriage started moving, and now that Cashew could clearly read ‘Looking After Your Fluffy Pet’ as the title of the book that Monsuta was holding in his hand, his worries slowly ebbed away. He became quite sure that Monsuta hadn’t the slightest clue that he was sitting with a man who’s whole existence right now revolved around the idea of killing him. Monsuta had looked so helpless whilst asleep in the carriage seat opposite to Cashew, yet only at the end of their journey did Cashew finally organise all of his hectic thoughts and had realised that he had missed an opportunity in killing Monsuta as he slept. It took over an hour to finally arrive at Monsuta’s mansion. They had passed the outskirts of the town and had entered into the depths of the thick, spring forest. As soon as the carriage stopped, Monsuta awoke and jumped happily out onto the walk way. (No matter) Cashew thought, (there is plenty more time to kill him), and walked out to follow Monsuta.

“Welcome... to my home,” Monsuta proudly introduced whilst grandly swinging out his hands. Monsuta’s home was around three stories high, had coal, black walls, spiky roof and long, crooked fence. It reminded Cashew of some haunted house from a classical horror movie. Thankfully, no cliches like graves or spiderwebs surrounded the estate, which reduced the haunting feeling surrounding the building.

Next, followed a tour of the mansion, in which Monsuta acted like a toddler at a theme park and dragged Cashew to the point where he nearly had to run behind him in order to keep up, as well as constantly trying to not stumble and fall. The house was big, but consisted of only a few large rooms which made the tour quite simple to remember. Furniture was all painted in brown, black and red, with the style to an old Victorian age. The first floor occupied the kitchen with very minimal appliances, simple dining room with a long table and two chairs and living room, furnished with a majestic fireplace, comfortable couch and large chandelier. The most impressive thing to be found downstairs was probably the chandeliers, which were delicately designed with intricate details and equipped with a candle at the end of each branch. A grand staircase, which wound up and then split evenly into two directions to enter the next floor, loomed in front of the main entrance. The next floor beheld a bathroom with a royal-sized tub but no mirrors, a bed room equipped with two master-beds and the library, which seemed to be Monsuta’s favourite room as he jumped wildly around the place for an hour, showing Cashew the impressive collection he had. Cashew could only helplessly stand there and hope that the blonde would calm down soon.

“I’m afraid I only have one bedroom as I seldom get guests. You can either sleep here or on the couch down stairs.” Monsuta finally said with a sudden apologetic look in his eyes, a look which quickly turned into playfulness- “but, if you chose to sleep on the couch I can guarantee that the cats won’t give you any peace... thus the reason for two beds up here.”

To have such hospitality from someone who had blood on his hands made Cashew feel extremely on edge.

“You were already expecting a guest, then?” He decided to inquire.

“I have been looking to hire someone for quite some time now, so I have prepared and depending on your answer, I’ll get someone to quickly dust off either the bed or the couch!”

“It’s alright, I’ll sleep up here”

(Perfect) thought Cashew (it seems I’ll be sleeping in the same room as Monsuta, so my job should become easier...). No sooner had he thought that, Monsuta was already enthusiastically dragging him up the last pair of stairs. As their footsteps slowed to a stop, he could see that it was a single, small room with the only thing inside being a grand piano.

“Do you play?” Cashew asked cautiously, for he felt that the mood had suddenly changed. There was a momentary silence which made Cashews feeling of unease grow, but Monsuta ended up as bubbly in personality as with the rest of the tour.

“No, only when it calls to me, that is the least I can do for this instrument. But if you would like to, you can play it anytime you want... oh and do not go through that door,” he said while gesturing to a door in a poorly lit corner that Cashew had not even noticed, “I’ll take you through it soon though, so do not be too impatient.” He twittered with his usual playful gleam in his eyes. Monsuta was already making his way downstairs, this time without dragging Cashew around, when he shouted “we can have our first dinner together after you finish looking around. Do make sure to take your time” and then he left from sight. It didn’t take long for Cashew to finish looking around as there were not a lot of decorations nor furniture, but one thing he did find was that masses of books were scattered around everywhere, categories ranging from cactuses, to a land called America which he had never heard of and anything in between. (So much for Monsuta’s claim of “you can use any of the possessions in my house”... there’s barely anything in here!”)

As Cashew made his way downstairs towards the ground floor, he slowly came to the realisation that a burning smell was becoming stronger. Quickening his pace, he was met with a baffling scene of Monsuta running around the kitchen in an apron and a spoon in his mouth and trying to manage five different dishes at the same time. It became apparent that one of the first things that Cashew learnt about this man was that he was not a great cook.

“Do you not have staff to do the cooking for you?” Cashew managed to ask between coughs from the smoke.

“I have two, but they are busy doing other things which are more important. I will be in charge so please, dear guest, it is your first night so just relax!”

However, the more Cashew watched the more persistent he became in trying to help the disastrous cook but Monsuta was very persistent and did not allow his guest to do anything. Finally though, when a boiling pan over-spilt for the fifth time, Monsuta gave in and allowed Cashew to at least serve the drinks.

(What a perfect opportunity, it seems as though I won’t have to stay here for long after all.) “Sure, no problem” Cashew replied light heartedly, but Monsuta did not see the mad smile that had overcome his guests face when he had said those words. Cashew took out the glasses and a bottle of wine from a shelf in the wall of the wine-cellar. At the same moment when the bottle was popped open, Cashew took out a small jar from the side of his satchel and managed to poor a drop of black liquid into Monsuta’s glass whilst also pouring the champagne with the other hand. This quick and fluid set of actions went unnoticed as everything was blocked by the sound of loud fizzling of bubbles. In no time at all, the mysterious jar was back into the side of Cashew’s satchel and the drinks were served upon the table.

Shortly after, the food was served too, but unlike the drinks, the food brought far less excitement. Cashew did not even try to hide his displeasure when he ate the stuff, for all of the vegetables, meat, and soup felt so disgusting that he did not even know that such a taste existed. It was burnt, bitter, sour and salty all at the same time, and gave off the most powerful and unpleasant after-taste ever known to man, worse than even bile at the back of your throat. Nevertheless, Monsuta seemed unfazed by the food and continued eating it with a smile towards his guest as if it were served from a five star hotel.

“Is something the matter?” The other finally asked, more from interest than worry for Cashew, whom now had a purple face. Cashew didn’t answer that question for a while as he was physically incapable of such action. Instead he shook his head as he at least didn’t want the other to have the satisfaction of humiliating him in such a way. It was only the third bite of his meal and already Cashew was deep in struggle. Both of his sweaty palms were laying flat on the table and his efforts were fully directed on forcing his mind to focus on anything but the food. Cashew noted that Monsuta had not yet touched his drink. (I must be patient) he kept urging to himself. (It seems that my target this time is indeed a formidable one). The only reason he was still at this diabolical dining table was to eventually see Monsuta take his last sip and then his parents were one more step to being avenged. Still trying to swallow his mouthful, Cashew averted his attention to the movement in the corner of his vision and saw how Monsuta’s cats entered the kitchen now that it was free of their owners frantic cooking. Monsuta, in the mean time, seemed to have grown bored of his guests lack of life and went on to reading his book from before.

“Scientists don’t quite know why cats purr, but one hypothesis is that the sound frequency of purring- between 25 and 150 Hz, can improve bone density and promote healing, because cats have adapted to purr to conserve energy via long periods of rest and sleep...”

That’s it. Cashew could stand this no more and swallowed this sorry excuse for food whilst inwardly cursing at Monsuta for nearly killing him instead of it being the other way around. Impatience was growing by the minute as Cashew waited for Monsuta to take even the smallest sip of the wine.

“I propose a toast,” he decided to finally end the evening. Holding his glass up high, Cashews eyes gleamed with excitement. Then, at the exact same moment that Monsuta had closed his book and was about to lift his cup, a loud sizzle and pop was heard from the kitchen, closely followed by screeching and banging of falling pans. Monsuta’s two cats went flying out and into the dining room, eyes wild and fur covered in a ketchup paste. Before anyone knew it, one had sprung itself onto the table whilst the other catapulted into Cashew’s lap. Both of the cat’s first thoughts were probably to try find comfort and protection with the people from whatever traumatic experience that had just occurred in the kitchen, yet the consequence of this was that both Monsuta’s glass and the jar in Cashew’s satchel were now spilled and smashed on the floor. This was Cashews last strand.

“What the hell was in that kitchen?” The anger that had been bottled up inside Cashew finally erupted. Covered in ketchup paw prints, he stormed his way into the kitchen and, with dismay, saw that one of the pots was still getting heated by the stove on the maximum temperature. “You... didn’t turn off the heat?” He managed to growl out from under clenched teeth. His plan had been ruined by an idiotic cook and, now that the jar of poison was smashed too, there was no hope of ever using this trick again.

Monsuta got up and stood beside Cashew, looking giddily into the kitchen. “And that, is why I hired you... for you see, these accidents always seem to happen around here and, if I wanted to keep up with my reading habits, I’d need a few more hands. There are many tasks around this house, as you’ve probably noticed. Your gardening skills will be most useful towards the unkept garden outside, for you see, I would like to make this place beautiful whilst I live here! Oh and the last requirement from this job, is for you to keep me company wherever we go. Do you accept?”

A moments thought and, with a malicious smile, Chashew shook hands with the blonde. The two men spent the rest of the night washing their clothes and drying the cats, and cleaning up anywhere the ketchup had made its way into. Cashew was secretly extremely careful when cleaning up the poison on the floor and to his relief, Monsuta did not seem to notice his mysterious, broken jar.

“You are one lucky guy, Monsuta, but from now on I’ll be cooking our meals.” He grumbled.

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