Monday was often a rest day for the men as their party lifestyle on the weekend needed some time to leave their system. Especially for Charlie. He didn’t wake from his slumber until mid-afternoon at which time Mr Walsh was sitting on a sun lounger accompanied by a margarita and some nuts. He didn’t often drink much when business matters were at stake, but he still liked a day off. He appreciated sitting and enjoying the outside from time to time as it provided a welcome break from the hustle and bustle that business days had in abundance. His eyes set upon the vast fields that backed off from the Grand Palace where many an animal would graze. He wasn’t a fan of animals. He didn’t see their purpose apart from being game. It was a vast landscape which never seemed to end; he enjoyed it. He felt it summed up his business ventures. They had no horizon.
Digby had probably been awake since six in the morning as he hardly ever slept. He felt there was no time to rest in the world we live. It was go, go, go. Be first or be left behind. He would be found in the gym on Mondays, most of the day he’d be hitting a punching bag relentlessly working on his body shot hook. His muscular figure burst through his tank top. He enjoyed working hard and releasing all the energy of the week into the bag. He felt it was what he needed to keep his composure in meetings. People really did piss him off in the most part. If they didn’t provide value he didn’t want to know. He had no time for personals. It was also needed as tomorrow was Tuesday, which sometimes meant Digby had to get imposing towards the locals. He would spend hours down in the gym lifting weights and busting a gut. The gym was the darkest place in the house too. Digby enjoyed the darkness down there. He felt no one could see his aggression.
Charlie’s Monday’s often consisted of absolutely nothing but sleep. Often the laziest in the house as the others would say but it didn’t bother him. He enjoyed not doing anything and earning money. Mr Walsh saw something in Charlie, hence why he kept him around. He felt like he would become an asset in the future despite his lavish lifestyle. As for Digby, the fire in his eye frightened Mr Walsh sometimes. He knew if it was well directed, he’d achieve great things and had done so for years now. He’d known him for years; they’d met in business school and had been close ever since.
Charlie came downstairs and lit a cigar next to Mr Walsh. He was still clearly tired from the weekend. Mr Walsh looked at Charlie and said, “will you be ready for tomorrow?” Charlie looked at him and said, “yeah I will be.” Mr Walsh knew he was annoyed because he had never been allowed to take part in the rent collection. “Sorry Charlie, you know I can’t let you get involved just yet.” As he said this he stood up from his seat and walked back inside. As he walked around the corner, The Butler passed him. “Hey, you”. Charlie beckoned The Butler over. “What do you know about rent collection?” This was probably the first time in years The Butler had been asked a question and not been given an order. “Well, I shouldn’t say sir”. Charlie promised not to tell anyone. After looking around to see if any of the other men were around, The Butler sat down in the seat that Mr Walsh just vacated and told Charlie some stories he’d heard.
It was grey. It was always grey. Everything was grey. Nothing livened this place up. Lower Hampton was always in the shadow of its famous big brother, Hampton Borough. Living and working in this town wasn’t pleasant but it was necessary. Everyone was brought up told they have to work to survive. But no one ever told you to enjoy what you do. This was certainly the mindset down there. Work until you die and any morsel of fun, cherish it, because it definitely wasn’t the norm. The norm was misery. You were programmed to believe everything you were told and to question nothing. When the elites from the top of the hill tell you something, you believe it. When they tell you to do something, you do it. Only one type of person lives in Lower Hampton, the Submissives.
It wasn’t always like that down there. There once lived a community in harmony, one which was unbothered by the outside world. They worked hard still, of course they did, any man would to aid his family. But they had fun because they didn’t care about money. Money is what rotted the town away and made it into the swamp it is today. One man was responsible. Mr Walsh.
He had a vision in his early twenties to become rich. He was handcuffed being poor and felt his wings to life had been clipped. Money was the only key that could release him. His unique skills at a blackjack table and his eye for a winning horse allowed him to start his journey. After a couple years of winning big and making it large, he couldn’t control himself. He met people who made him more powerful and hungrier for more. He was diseased. He also had an amazing way with words. A wordsmith. He was able to convince a man to do whatever he said. It was said once he managed to convince a man to kill his dog because it was making him poor. When he realised this great power he had, he decided to convince people to give him their money. He would say that he’d return it to them double the size. Of course, this was never going to happen. Obviously, he doubled it in size down the bookies and wherever else he could spin ten or ten thousand dollars. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to think why people would want to keep giving him their money. The answer to that question is hope. The hope that another man could make them ten times richer than they could ever be on their own volition.
One of the first men to ever succumb to Walsh’s scheme was Ronnie Edwards. He crafted shoes from dawn till dusk. Every waking minute of sunlight he would be at his table sewing and gluing. When Mr Walsh talked to him about his scheme his mind lit on fire thinking about what he could do with his riches. Originally, Mr Walsh only asked for about 10-20% of Ronnie’s wages. Ronnie was stable enough to give it to him. It’s said from that moment on Mr Walsh went door to door with his idea. After about a month of slow increases, Ronnie was running out of money and hadn’t received the promised returns. Ronnie asked Mr Walsh why this was the case. Mr Walsh’s friendly face asked Ronnie if he’d like to cash in now or wait for his account to build. Ronnie asked for it now, growing annoyed at the lack of money in his pocket. Mr Walsh beckoned him over to his car and opened the boot. As the boot opened the driver’s side door opened. A stocky, stubbly man got out. It was Digby. He walked towards Ronnie grabbed him by the head and drove a knee into his skull. Ronnie’s nose was completely busted, and blood flowed out of it at a steady pace. Ronnie screamed, “what the fuck did ya do that for!”. Digby shushed Ronnie and said if he screamed again his tongue would be removed. Ronnie instantly cowed and gave up his fight. Digby whispered in his ear, “if you tell anyone about this, I’ll have you taken care of”. Ronnie vowed his silence. He now takes residence on the streets of Lower Hampton. People are too frightened to let him in their house in fear of what might happen to them. Knowing his and Digby’s tactics worked, it was easy from then on to keep doing what they were doing. Word obviously got out about Ronnie and people daren’t try and walk the same path as him. They’d hand over whatever they could to Walsh Inc. As for the name of Walsh Inc, it was just a way of adding a sense of professionalism to the work. They termed the operation as rent collection and would do it every Tuesday.
Mr Walsh erected massive factories down there which were responsible for the clouds that cover it. They pumped out smoke every waking minute. He said they were for sustaining the life in Hampton Borough. The hard work down there transposed to the wealth up here.
Before The Butler could carry on any further, Digby came back outside. He gave a strange look towards Charlie and The Butler, wondering why they were conversing. “He was just asking what I wanted for dinner”, Charlie said in a reassuring tone, saving himself and The Butler any more questions.
The sun rose spectacularly and burst through the spotless windows and illuminated the whole house. It was Tuesday, which signalled rent collection day. Mr Walsh, Digby and Charlie gathered into the Cadillac sitting on the driveway and made their way down the vast hill on which the Grand Palace sat. They would pass well-kept trees and shooting ranges until they reached the bottom, where they would head straight ahead towards Lower Hampton. The drive didn’t take long as it was only a short trip down to the bottom of the hill. By car, maybe five to ten minutes, dependant on the driver. The road was accompanied by lovely almost hand trimmed grass. It was a picture to behold travelling down the hill. Its beauty was kept by local gardeners who stayed in the working quarters of the Grand Palace as payment for their work.
This was Digby’s favourite day of the week, collecting the weekly rent from the Submissives in the town. The Subsmissives were the meek, voiceless people who populated the town in Lower Hampton. They were the factory that built the Grand Palace that lay so majestically on the hill. The elites would never make contact with the Submissives unless it brought financial gain, which Tuesday did. There were stories about the Submissives and what they’d do in their spare time. Far too grotesque for men like Mr Walsh to contemplate. They were often seen as dirty and disease ridden just because they didn’t have more than one pair of shoes.
They reached the grey run down-town of Lower Hampton where they were greeted by a stench only the poor people could make. There was a rusty fence which guarded the town, mainly to keep people in than out. The gate had been opened and the terrain turned cobbly, the Cadillac gathered dust on its chassis as it traversed its way along. The well paved roads felt like they were a mile away now. Continuing the journey through the town they reached the layby where they parked the car, making sure it was as far away from the locals possible.
“Stay by the car Charlie”, ordered Digby as he didn’t want anyone playing fast and loose with it. Charlie never went into the town to collect rent; Digby said it was for the protection of the car, but he knew they thought he was too young. Mr Walsh and Digby walked confidently into the centre where the locals waited to hand over their money to Walsh Inc.
“Hello everyone, thank you for gathering here again today. I’d like to say that the rent collection has been increased to 90% of wages. We thank you for your understanding and patience”.
There wasn’t even a single groan in the whole place when Mr Walsh said that. It was substituted by a mood of acceptance. One by one the crowd came up to Digby to give him the majority of their wage which Walsh Inc promised to grow financially over the coming months. They lined up in the dirt, most people were shoeless and terrified. It started to rain heavier, two Submissives ran over to hold umbrellas over the two men. This was usual practice for the town. They’d been doing this for a while now. They agreed to it in the first place because they wanted what Mr Walsh could promise. The Grand Palace towered over Lower Hampton. The Submissives could see it day and night. It was like a money god hanging over them, begging them to do what they could to be the same. It was almost as if it hypnotised them.
All was well as usual until one Submissive handed Digby a rather light hand.
“Where’s the rest of it?” Digby enquired harshly.
The man replied “I-I-I need to keep some more this week sir we just had a baby and need more food”. Digby, completely unmoved by this story, asked the man to show him his area so he could see for himself.
The collection was halted while Digby and the man made their way around the corner to see if the man was being truthful. Digby turned back to see if they were out of sight of the collection area and as soon as they were, he pushed the man against the wall and laid a heavy blow to his sternum. Digby’s tongue hung out of his mouth like a cheetah who’d just caught its dinner. He couldn’t care less about the man’s financial and family situation. He had to pay his way.
“Do you want more money in the future?”, Digby spat in his ear. He pointed at the Grand Palace as he did so.
The man, clearly shaken by the events, couldn’t find the words to reply because Digby’s punch took all the air out of him. All he could do was bring some more money from his pocket and hand it over to Digby. His hand shook violently as Digby took the money. He made his way back to the collection point, shortly after connecting a kick to the man’s head, rendering him unconscious.
“All sorted?” Mr Walsh asked Digby.
“Yes, we came to an arrangement”, Digby replied with a great smirk on his face.
The collection carried on whilst the wind blew, and the skies became greyer. The sun never seemed to make its way this far down the hill and was constantly buried under a cloud. It wasn’t the biggest place. The housing areas spanned quite a far way eastwards, but the centre of the town was very small and lacked any imagination. It housed many stalls which the workmen plied their trade and had factories forming a semi-circle to the west side of it. The rest of the place was just housing. From where the men stood, they were facing a row of houses which stood in front of vast wasteland behind.
“So people would just hand over money without any guarantees?” asked Marty puzzled.
Billy looked down at his drink and said, “yeah, they slummed it most of their lives and the promise of being rich led them to believe whatever was told to them”.
The wind banged against the door and caused both men to look back in interest. They decided to order more drinks in as they didn’t see themselves encountering that weather quite yet.
“Submissives had no heart left in them. The creativity and thirst for life’s finer pastures had been sucked up by Walsh Inc. There was nothing left for them but to trust everything these guys told them”. Billy stopped momentarily as a bolt of lightning caused the lights to flicker. “Imagine if you had all this extreme wealth slapped around your face every day. That massive palace hanging over you. You’d want to do what you could to achieve it. The promise sold to them could help them achieve that”. “There was nothing they could do themselves, they had to trust Walsh Inc”.
Countless homeless people lined the streets, but it did not deter the Submissives from handing over their hard-earned money to the elites up the hill. They felt that the promise of a richer future was worth the hardship of today. They also knew that any dissent would end up with a few nasty blows to the body, viscous enough to make them do anything. The idea was they could live like the elites if they trusted them with their money. If they had kept the money or just run away from the town, they still would never be safe from the fact they would most likely end up homeless. At least in Lower Hampton they had jobs to do and a place to stay. The small amount of security was worth giving Walsh Inc the money. Their hope had been stripped from them a long time ago and the bravery required to move out west to start anew had been missing for years. They knew as long as they lived in Lower Hampton, they’d be confined to adhering to the rent collection policy.
All the money had been collected and Mr Walsh thanked all the people that abided by the rules. He never got his hands dirty himself. He just wanted to be there to be the figurehead of it all; he wanted to show the township he was serious about their money. It was all an act of course. He couldn’t care less what happened to the people down in the town as long as they did what they were told and didn’t pose any problems.
“All done then guys”, Charlie asked plaintively, wanting to go home as staying by the car didn’t provide him with much joy.
He opened the back door so Mr Walsh could get in away from the harsh climate and Digby strode to the driver’s side and pulled away at great pace. The car pulled out of the layby and made its way back up the hill towards the Grand Palace.