After a week of deals and much business-related jobs, it was Tuesday again. Nothing spectacular happened in the week that passed, just business as usual. The men rolled out of the Grand Palace with Digby driving; a massive grin plastered his face as he drove down the winding hill path. They seamlessly drove down the smoothly paved road to the bottom of the hill where they carried on straight as usual towards the town. They reached the layby where they parked the car and, as usual, Charlie stayed by the car whilst Mr Walsh and Digby walked to the collection point where the crowd was gathered ready to pay their dues. Collection ran as normal, everyone abiding by the rules that were put in place, much to the dismay of Digby.
During the collection, a sudden gust of wind blew a couple of dollar bills from Mr Walsh’s hand. Digby didn’t notice it, so Mr Walsh calmly walked following it as it swam through the air. He made sure no Submissive tried to snatch it. He followed it until it came to a stop. He looked up after he had picked up the notes and spotted a young lady in a green dress reading a book. He looked through the window from a far whilst Digby continued to collect the money from the Submissives.
Digby looked at Mr Walsh surprised, bewildered he would subject himself to such poverty that lay within the town. He knew he must have had reason to go where he went so carried on with what he was doing. He clambered his way through the harshly cobbled ground that ran its way through the town with spots of rain covering his hair. He made his way past the fishmonger and felt himself doused in a raw stench of tuna. After that, he needed to walk past the town’s barn where there were a couple of horses amongst other animals. The smells infiltrated Mr Walsh’s nose but he continued to make his way over towards the woman’s house. He had no intention of stopping despite the horrors that exposed themselves to him. He finally reached a point where she was in full view and he was mystified over how her beauty effortlessly emanated around her. There was an aura of glamour that encased her, it was like an oasis in the desert. He stopped for a minute, unable to take his eyes off her, wondering who she was and why she was in a town like this. He felt she should be living the life at the top, or at the very least, the other side of the hill, but he knew there must be a reason for her to be down here.
He noticed the door was open and made his way towards it. He took this as a sign and he leant on the wooden door frame, his left hand placed on it whilst his right-hand scratched the back of his neck with nerves. He had been at the door less than ten seconds when she looked up from the book she was reading and noticed him in the doorway.
“Can I help you sir?” she asked tentatively but without worry. Mr Walsh had a trusting face, so she needn’t fret.
Mr Walsh was surprised by her question despite standing in her doorway. He bumbled the words around in his mouth until he finally spat out, “n-n-nothing, I’ve just never seen you before I was wandering how long you’d been out here”.
“I’ve been here about five days Mr…”, she left the sentence hanging as she waited for him to say his name.
“Walsh”, he cried out.
“Well, Mr Walsh, I moved here from out west where I used to tend to the animals with my father”.
“Why did you make the move then?” he asked inquisitively.
After a momentary pause where she thought whether it was irresponsible to tell a stranger this information, she looked at him and said, “you see, my father died a month ago, he wasn’t very well and finally passed away, and a couple days after he left this wonderful earth, these men, these savages, came and ransacked the whole farm, they killed all our animals and took what they could”, she said it with great angst and emotion. “I came here because they said great riches were promised out here and I am in great need”.
Mr Walsh knew who she was referring to when she said this. Him.
“Yes, we do promise that out here, great riches for all.” She perked up at him saying that.
“Well how does one go about acquiring this.”
“Hard work”, he replied, and before he could say anymore, he heard a cry from Digby.
“Mr Walsh we’re done here”. He took one more glance at the woman from the doorway and nodded his head as he left the door. He banged his head on the short door frame as he exited.
He trampled back to the car where Digby and Charlie were waiting and got in rather wet and confused. Digby looked in the rear-view mirror at Mr Walsh with one eyebrow raised, “everything okay? Who did you see back there? Did you get their money?” Slightly annoyed by the amount of questions thrown at him, he nodded in the affirmative.
Mr Walsh looked back through the rear window and looked at the woman’s house with a great deal of novelty. He wasn’t sure how he felt about his encounter with her. Digby noticed the absentness in Mr Walsh’s eyes but didn’t bother to question what he was looking at. For the rest of the journey up the hill, Mr Walsh couldn’t help but think of the woman’s beauty and wondered how he could find out more.
“Why did Digby care about what Mr Walsh felt anyway”, Marty enquired.
“Apparently, because Mr Walsh was a man his emotions were irrelevant. All that he should be thinking was ‘how much money have we taken today’’”.
“Surely the guy can have a girl?”
“Digby apparently thought women were a disease. There to take and not give. He couldn’t trust a girl as far as he could throw one. They hindered the process and made a man’s life far too difficult.”
“Gee, I hope Mr Walsh goes back again, she sounds mighty fine!” Marty said a bit too excitedly.
The weather continued to worsen; the pub was almost their new home for the night. The barman extended the last call, he too, interested to hear what they were talking about.
Mr Walsh woke up the next day with only one thought on his mind, what was that girl’s name. He realised he never asked, and her face was plastered all over his consciousness since he met her at yesterday’s collection. His dreams had been saturated with images of her. It was a big day for Walsh Inc as they had important meetings with shareholders from across the country. Usually, it posed no bother to Mr Walsh, these meetings, because nothing was ever wrong with his business or his clients. But today he just could not focus on the meeting.
“What’s wrong sir?” enquired Charlie.
“Nothing, Charlie, I just had a bad night’s sleep”.
“Will you be ready for the meeting later then?” Digby asked abruptly in a no-nonsense tone.
Mr Walsh, clearly irked by this, responded to Digby saying, “You can take care of it can’t you Digby?”
A bit shocked by Mr Walsh’s ferocious tone he answered quaveringly, “yes”.
“Good I can go and rest then”.
Digby and Charlie went to the meeting in the car and left the Grand Palace at speed. The Grand Palace was remarkably quiet as it was rare he was in it without his fellows. It was quite lonely by himself. He went to lay back in his large king-sized bed that was laced with expensive linen and headed by a plethora of pillows. He placed both hands behind his head and stared at the ceiling. He felt awfully irritable and now slightly guilty at the way he spoke to Digby. He just could not shake her face from his mind. The beauty she possessed struck him like nothing else before. He’d had vast quantities of women in his bedroom over the years and none made him want to ask their name. The image of the green dress she was wearing stuck like a limpet on his brain. And one thing for sure, she didn’t belong down in Lower Hampton.
He wrestled with his emotions until he could no longer bare not knowing anymore about this woman. He swiftly threw on a shirt and trousers. He didn’t even take a shower or wait for someone to iron his shirt he just left. He stepped a foot outside the Grand Palace where he was greeted with the summer’s sun and it accompanied him until he reached the glum town. The Butler watched as Mr Walsh left to go down the hill in a haste.
He decided to walk this time because he didn’t want one of his expensive cars turning up down there on a day it wasn’t supposed to. He also didn’t want to leave it unattended. He didn’t know what the Submissives got up to most of the week. Halfway down the hill he regretted his decision because this was probably the first time he’d walked this far in a few years and his shoes certainly weren’t acceptable for such a task. After a battle with the backs of his heels, he had made it to the bottom of the road where he headed straight towards the town.
When he reached there, he saw all the people working hard and plying their trade in whatever way they could. He caught looks from the majority of the township because he looked vastly out of place as what he was wearing was far from suitable or achievable for the population down there. He felt his heart start to race and his palms started sweating, he hadn’t felt this nervous in years and his cool manner seeped out of his skin quicker than he could restore it. Beads of sweat streamed down his back and soon enough he felt like he’d been swimming. He ambled his way to her house and once again there she was engrossed in her book. He stood at the door momentarily and looked down at the ground, closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. After a few seconds he opened them and gave a shy knock at the door. He could see her elegantly waltzing to the door in a way he thought only a princess could.
“Oh, hello Mr Walsh, what brings you here?”
Unsure of what to say because he was still mystified about her image, he managed to choke out, “how’s the work going?”
Pleasantly surprised he had come to ask her about her job and whether she’d found one yet. “Yes, yes after you left yesterday a man across the road asked if I wanted to help muck out the barn a couple times a week”.
Not sure how to react to this as he’s never had to do something like that his entire life, he replied with a nervous, “great”.
He’d never had to initiate a conversation with a woman before as they provided nothing more than a temporary good time to him. He never had to know them, they just had to know him. She was certain he hadn’t come to see her just to ask that, she promptly said, “is there anything else I can help you with?”
After a short pause for thought, he cleared his throat and meekly said, “well I was wondering what your name was, I didn’t quite catch it yesterday”.
A red sea illuminated her face as she had never caught interest from such a well to do man before. “My names Summer, Summer Green”.
“Well that is a very nice name you have”.
“Now you’ve asked me a question it’s my turn”.
Nervous as to what she might ask, he grimaced as she continued,
“Well Mr Walsh what is it you do up on the very nice hill of yours”.
Slightly relieved it was a question he could answer he said, “Digby, Charlie, and I handle our business up there, we invest people’s money and return it to them in greater quantities than they originally gave”.
Knowing that definitely wasn’t the whole truth, he didn’t see the need to tell her the ins and outs of what he and the incorporation did. Overly impressed by his answer and wanting to know more she pronounced, “oh, so you’re one of the rich people everyone talks about back west”.
A slight grin overcame his face and he started to feel himself again and replied, “I suppose I am”. He said it rather confidently.
After the conversation, she asked if he’d like to have a seat and he accordingly obliged. He placed himself down on a wooden splintered chair which did no favours to his back. Having not sat on something so cheap in a while he shuffled around to get comfortable. She asked him if he wanted a drink and he settled for a glass of water to replace the fluids that departed through his forehead earlier.
Now he was sat down he could see Summer with a clearer mind. He looked at her up and down unlike any woman he had before. The first thing to notice were her dark green eyes, they were like looking into a field, a field where he wouldn’t mind visiting more. Her eyes were accompanied either side by her brunette hair, it hugged her shoulders with splendour. Her nose complemented her whole face like a little button on a teddy bear. Her lips were coated with a beige colouring that looked so delicate one would have to be careful with. Her petite hands looked as if they could cause no harm. They definitely didn’t look like the hands of a farm girl. The way she walked around the house was like she was dancing through the air and every step was masterful.
After she handed Mr Walsh his glass of water, she started to look out the window at the grey cloud that covered her house and her face soon dropped to great sadness. Mr Walsh saw her and got up from the chair and looked out at the sky too, a tinge of guilt crossed him. He knew the factories billowing smoke created this climate down here and he was the reason they were pushed so hard. He could probably build a new town if he wanted to, but he knew that wasn’t profitable. He momentarily thought of asking Summer if she would like to come up the hill with him and stay there. He understood this wasn’t a good idea because Digby and Charlie would grow suspicious if she wasn’t gone within a day. He started to battle himself over her and whether he could risk it. The little voice in his head said to him ‘you’ve only known her a day don’t be stupid’; she could be the poisoned chalice! He scanned the house more and saw all the paintings of horses on the walls and how they sat above an array of literature, all which seemed to have been read at some point.
“Are they the horses you had?” Mr Walsh asked with curiosity.
Summer turned around from the window and looked at the paintings of the horses and a tear enveloped her eye. “Yes, that’s one of them, the one I used to ride around when he was alive”.
Knowing it was killed in the raid on her late father’s farm, he didn’t pursue the conversation much further, instead he trained his focus on the bookshelf that dominated half the room. He got up from his chair and ran his fingers across the bindings of the books until he reached the end.
“Which one’s your favourite?” Mr Walsh asked with interest.
Still thinking about the painting of the horse she looked down at the shelf and said, “I don’t have a favourite I don’t think, anything about a story of hope or adventure interests me”.
Mr Walsh had a blank look on his face characterised by his mouth slightly open and his eyes unfocused. He knew he never had any interest of that stuff since he was a kid. He thought to himself that was a long time ago now and quashed any resurfacing of those times. He was rich now; nothing should bother him.
While he was stood up, a sudden brushing sensation greeted his trouser legs and he looked down to see a small brown dog had waddled its way through them. He’d been in this house almost an hour and he had no reason to believe there was a dog here. Maybe his infatuation with Summer’s face and angelic features distracted him that much. He wasn’t the biggest fan of dogs; he didn’t see their purpose as they usually stank and needed more attention than they deserved.
“Come here boy”, Summer said in a childlike voice and started to ruffle the dogs face like some sort of crazed human. She looked up at Mr Walsh and said, “this is Rusty”.
She went on to say how she’d had him for ages and he used to be so very good at herding all the sheep into their pens and used to fight off the meanest of foxes. Completely unmoved by this, he thought why couldn’t a man just do it, he didn’t lick you or smell and they generally weren’t as annoying. The dog glanced up at Mr Walsh with his tired old eyes and moved to brush his ageing body against his. Rusty lay down wrapped around Mr Walsh’s leg and looked to have fallen asleep. He looked down at the old bastard thing and thought about kicking it off. Before he could try, he looked at Summer, and the adoring look she gave the two together. It reminded him of the look his mother would have towards him and Eddy many moons ago. He looked back down and, again, he thought back to when he was younger and how Eddy used to enjoy falling asleep near him all the time. He focused back on the dog and gave it a stroke across its balding head and the it stirred and ran back into another room.
His eyes clearly lost focus as Summer asked if he was okay. He looked back at her and assured he was, and he had a beaming smile spanning lengthways across his face.
“Would you like to walk him?” Summer said so invitingly.
He thought back to the walks he’d taken Eddy on when he was younger. Every time he fell out with his parents that’s what he’d do, take the dog out. “Okay”, he said rather excitedly.
She grabbed Rusty’s lead off the top of the bookshelf and tied it around his collar and they went out the back of the house. She opened the door and it backed out on to an expanse of fields. Mr Walsh didn’t like the look of the weather but felt a childlike excitement grow on him. Summer took the lead as they made their way across the field.
“What’s your favourite animal then?” she asked him.
Having not thought of an answer to this question ever, he quickly replied, “horses”.
This was partly due to the fact they won him a lot of money, but Summer assumed he was just being kind because of the paintings on her wall.
“You can ride one if you want, later this week or whenever you’re free”
Not really sure how to answer, he muttered, “yes of course”.
He felt great that he’d managed to set up another meeting without having to cut past the awkwardness of turning up at her house randomly again. However, he did hope she was joking about the horses. The two didn’t exactly talk much on the dog walk. He hadn’t been this far out of the Grand Palace grounds without Digby and Charlie in forever. He hadn’t seen such a harsh landscape in years. They just enjoyed each other’s company until they reached the bridge. On her first day in the town a few days ago she came to this bridge to get away. She said she missed her home life terribly and missed her father and missed her horses. She obviously knew she could never have any of it back. There was something about Mr Walsh that attracted her. Maybe it was his age. He was quite a bit older than she was. She was only twenty-five and he must have been about ten years her senior. She liked that about him, obviously coupled with his devilishly handsome good looks. His maturity and success gave her a comforting feeling, just like her dad did.
“It’s quite nice out here really”, Mr Walsh said breaking her train of thought. He said this as he admired the quietness of the whole place. It was deathly silent.
“Why does it never get sunny out here?” she asked.
Mr Walsh knew the factories that worked ever so hard around the clock probably did contribute to the climate, but he never really did know why the sun never shone.
As the sky turned another shade of grey, they whistled Rusty to come back over and started to make their way back. As they made their way back it started to rain. The rain lashed down on them and soaked them head to toe. Summer looked over at Mr Walsh and gave him a little push. She giggled as she did it. He slipped slightly on the wet grass and pushed her back. He pushed her a little too hard as she hit the floor. He quickly ran over to her thinking about what a fool he was. He’d just shoved her to the floor! He bent down and looked at her straight in the eyes; they locked together. All he wanted to do was kiss her. He thought she agreed with him and positioned himself full of anticipation. Before he could even imagine what it felt like, she pushed him back to the ground and started to run laughing as she did it. Mr Walsh knew she wanted to have a bit of fun, so he hurtled after her. They were seeing who was going to get back first. They bolted it for about quarter of a mile and by that time Mr Walsh had raced into the lead despite his horrendous choice of clothing.
They both eventually got back into the dry haven of her house and she offered him a towel to dry himself. She had one of her father’s shirts that she’d brought with her. She always loved that shirt. It was black and had green stripes marauding around it. It was terribly ugly, but it reminded her of what he was like, a goofy man. She handed it to Mr Walsh as he was clearly soaked and needed to be dried off. Although it was a prized possession of hers, she let him have it. She thought he didn’t look too bad in it. They sat back in their chairs laughing away at the fun they’d just had when his watch buzzed, signalling that it was time to go, interrupting the time between the two of them.
“Sorry Summer I must go back now my men will be expecting me to be at home”, he said.
“Of course, you go back I am sure you are a very busy man”.
He gave her a nervous smile and turned out of the house stumbling on the cobbled path until he finally regained his composure after a few steps. She watched him disappear beyond the shoe making stall and the food market with a hope he would return. He made it to the tarnished old gate and hopped over it rather than opening it, probably due to his hazy mind. Once over the gate he stopped and placed his hands on his knees and exhaled deeply. Thoughts crashed around his mind. He didn’t know what to do. He kept thinking back to his childhood and how different it was. How different his life turned out to be.
After a moment of uncharacteristic thinking, he embarked on the journey back up the hill. The sun was soon setting, the sky was emblazoned with a warm orange glow. From a cobalt blue to a jasmine yellow. After five minutes of walking he heard a car making its way up behind him. He turned around and saw it was Digby and Charlie hurtling up the road. They almost missed Mr Walsh as they didn’t expect to see him traipsing the hill by foot. Digby hit the brakes abruptly and Charlie leapt out of the passenger seat to open the door for Mr Walsh to enter the back. Digby immediately asked Mr Walsh where he’d been and he just came out with the lame excuse of going for a walk. He also noticed the horrific shirt he was wearing. Digby knew that was far from the truth but before he could question him again Charlie chimed in saying, “the meeting was a success sir, no surprise eh!” A cold front rushed its way through Mr Walsh’s body because he’d forgotten all about the meeting today. And then he realised he didn’t really care what happened. To avoid suspicion he replied with a contrived, “good work fellas”.
The car pulled into the drive where The Butler greeted them and took it to the garage round the back. He smiled at Mr Walsh as he passed. Mr Walsh was clearly not in the mood to talk to anyone, so after entering the house, he announced he was going to rest his head as the sun must have clearly got the better of him.
“I won’t be out till morning chaps”, he said from the top of the stairs.
They replied goodnight to him as he disappeared behind the doors. Digby sat on the chair in the corner of his room which faced the whole of the room and just sat. He was wondering why Mr Walsh had been off with him for a while and why he wasn’t fully focused on the tasks at hand. His face didn’t change emotion the entire time he was sat there. The Butler walked in and asked Digby if he was okay. Digby didn’t reply and had the same fierce look on his face. The Butler went to walk away when Digby stopped him. “Did you see Mr Walsh today?” The Butler was the eyes of the Grand Palace, he saw everything. The men put him in charge of the female servants that would flaunt themselves around the house. They didn’t trust a woman to lead it responsibly. The Butler had seen Mr Walsh leave. Digby was a hard man to lie to. “No, I didn’t see where he went earlier”, The Butler replied. He kept it a secret from Digby. He didn’t think it was any of his business what he did.