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Monkey Of Con City - Excerpt Two

Hawthorne Manor stood on the north edge of Hawthorneford. Being four times the size of The Lord's Lion, it dwarfed the impressive hotel. The manor building itself rose to only three stories in height, but it spanned the equivalent of a medium sized Hawthorneford neighborhood, and that did not even include the grounds around it. A tall metal fence surrounded the area, sharp spikes atop each bar, stretching as far as the eye could see.

Just outside the gate, Professor van der Bishop stood in silent admiration of the architecture. He tried to think back to the last time he tried to sell his research in a mansion. He couldn't quite recall. It might have been in South Side Con City, a few years back, when he tried to convince the Mayor to fund his research into self-emptying garbage cans. The Mayor's manor had seemed gigantic to him at the time. Now, looking at Hawthorne Manor, he thought the Mayor's humble abode had indeed been humble.

`Shall we go in, Professor?' John asked. The nervousness from the previous meeting was missing from the young engineer's voice, much to the Professor's satisfaction.

`Indeed,' he said, and he reached for the gate. When he pushed, the gate opened with a loud creak that reminded the Professor of the sound of nails clawing on a blackboard. He shook the memories of his education aside and strode forward.

Paved road led from the gates to the entrance of the manor. To the left of the manor building an elaborate hedge maze awaited those brave enough to risk getting lost inside, while to the right a small pond stood with some benches for the weary visitor. According to John, there was also an eighteen-hole golf course somewhere on the grounds, but that the Professor could not see.

Barely a third of the way to the door, he heard John's excited voice.

`Look, Professor! Ducks!'

The Professor quickened his pace and made every effort not to look towards the pond. John quickly caught up with him. `Did you see them, Professor? I think those are the biggest ducks I've ever seen!'

Professor van der Bishop felt his pulse quicken. He quickened his pace even more. `Yes, I saw them,' he said when he passed the half way point to the door. `Don't look at them, and don't make any sudden moves.'

`But...' John began, then he fell silent. He continued in a low voice. `I'm sorry, Professor. I totally forgot.'

The Professor nodded. `Sometimes I wish I could forget.'

They went on in silence. An eternity, or at least a close approximation of one later, Professor van der Bishop finally stood before the door leading to safe haven. He reached for the doorbell only to realize there wasn't one. He hesitantly lifted the elaborate brass ring in the center of the door and struck it against the metal plate underneath. He felt it in his bones as the sound of the knock reverberated along the thick wood of the door and started to propagate through the bricks of the walls. He also heard the loud thud; he closed his eyes and counted the seconds, hoping that someone would open the door before the birds could descend upon him and John. He did not want to end his life as a pile of unrecognizable blood and gore on the doorstep of success.

Finally, the door began to open with a creaking sound that once again flooded the Professor's mind with memories of his childhood. He found himself being thankful for the recollection; it was the only thing that kept him from initiating a most humiliating sprint through the narrow gap into safety.

When the door fully opened, the Professor saw an elderly man dressed like a butler in old classic movies.

`Can I help you, sirs?' the butler said.

The Professor cleared his throat. `Yes, we are here to see the Lords and Ladies of Hawthorne Manor.'

`Do you have an appointment?'

`No,' John said.

`In that case, sirs, you must book an appointment and return at an appropriate time. The Lords and Ladies are quite busy.'

`They'll want to see me, I'm sure,' the Professor said. `I am here to offer them a most lucrative business proposal.'

`I'm sure you are, sirs, but you still have to book an appointment. Call Mister Hughes. He will arrange...'

`My name is Professor van der Bishop,' the Professor said, and pulled Terrence Blunt's check out of his pocket. `This is my business card.'

The butler removed a pair of round glasses from his waistcoat pocket, donned it, and reached for the check.

`Hmmm,' he said. `Very nice business card, sirs.'

`Yes, it is, and you can't keep it,' John said.

`But we can obtain a copy for you,' the Professor added quickly. `One which has your name on the recipient line.'

`This says, Blunt Films,' the butler said. `Are you with those hooligans?'

`Our research is funded by Terrence Blunt,' the Professor said. He meant to say more, something along the lines of how lucrative it would be for the Lords and Ladies to work with one of the richest film producers in the world, but the butler never gave him the chance.

`Sirs, the Lords and Ladies have no patience for the lapdogs of the man who continues to disrespect the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.'

`We don't work for that arsehole!' John said. The Professor raised a hand to try and hold back the oncoming tirade, but when he saw John's reddened face he hesitated just long enough for John to go on.

`I would rather eat my own shite than ever work for that twat! Blunt is the Devil himself and I hope to one day piss on his grave!'

`My sentiments exactly, sir,' the butler said in a matter-of-fact tone, `but you must excuse me if I find myself a bit confused by your words. If you do not work for Terrence Blunt, why did he pay you?'

`We made him see the error of his ways,' the Professor quickly said. `We made him understand that he is harming the good people of England and he has decided to make amends by funding scientific research. The kind of research that will benefit the common man, and of course, the Lords and Ladies of Hawthorne Manor.'

`Really?' the butler said.

`Indeed,' the Professor replied. `And if this research succeeds, Terrence Blunt will never make another Round Table movie again.'

The butler smiled. `Well why didn't you say so right at the start, old chap? Come right in! Head down the hall to your right and take a seat in the lobby. I shall fetch Mister Hughes.'


*

For more, please proceed to the novel Monkey Of Con City.


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