"...Save me from death, because I am loyal to you;
save me, for I am your servant and I trust in you - ”
Bethany Spencer, "Hellhounds"
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- I’m sorry, Jock dear. – Mortdecai’s voice is clear, noble, dignified, yet humbly apologetic for a reason. – No, really. I am. I didn’t… um, meant for it to have been turned that way. – He gives a dry chuckle and lowers the horribly dull and infinitely incomprehensible book masking as an art treatise by some German kunst-kenner he’s idly been leafing through for the better part of the hour, before going on. – You know, I thought they would’ve never laid a finger on you, for gracious heaven’s sake, what with ‘em being just ordinary art purveyors – with an egregious lack of moustache, at that (unlike yours-truly) – whose grazing rights, disagreeable as it may be, just prob’ly sort of crashed with those of another ordinary art purveyor’s, that is yours-truly’s. All in all, you’re a lucky gent, Jock, you are.
- ‘Tis nothink, Misteh Charlie. Me alrigh’. Arrgh. Cooden’ feel worse if ‘tis were a bleedink lorry laden with coal driven over me head, not that guy’s brass-shod fist... Yeah, sir. Real alrigh’.
The one-eyed, one-fanged Jock’s answer is in a laconic low growl, the sound which soothes Mr. Mortdecai immensely, as always. When his faithful thug-cum-manservant-cum-bodyguard spoke like this, you could be certain he did mean what he said. Not that he ever didn’t mean what he said, but still.
Gracefully Mr. Mortdecai lifts the sparkling Bohemian-crystal wine glass to his lips once again (filled with an exquisite, rare vintage wine, as it is – for Mr. Mortdecai stubbornly holds that a bottle of wine isn’t worth drinking unless its value is at least equal to the monthly income of its purveyor). Slowly he sips at the blessed noble drink with a sort of pleasure only good news can bring (the news of Jock’s purportedly good state of health being precisely that sort of news, as it is). The bottle stands by his left side on a low coffee table, while the wine-drinker himself lounges in a soft, golden-colored, Empire-style sofa, which had at one time undoubtedly been at times occupied by some general or other of the old Little Corsican chap’s – or if not by him, then surely some general or other’s wife’s nobleman brother had sat thereupon – or if even this was not so, then some Corsican’s general’s wifey’s brother’s hound most probably used to warm his furry, fat rears upon this very thing, at best. Comical? Maybe, yet still antique all the same.
It is late in the evening – for sure Mr. Mortdecai never goes to bed so early as if he were still a common schoolboy; and taking into account that his own boarding school had certainly been the most common of its kind, never again would he give his consent to anything that even remotely reminded him of its timetable-training-order-shameless-bullying-whatever-bleedin’-else convention absurdities. Thus, instead of forcibly and brutally dragging himself to the old antique-furniture-stuffed bedroom, Mortdecai leisurely enjoys his customary glass of wine and watches the loyal Jock’s unsurpassed trouser-pressing techniques.
With a light buzz still ringing in the back of his skull from the concussion sustained earlier in the day, Jock raises his head from the ironing board. Right in front of him, on the opposite wall, over an intricate pattern of the light-green wallpapers, hangs one of his master’s prized possessions. A rather simple but extremely rare fin-de-siècle French painting, which presents a stark contrast to the endless range of those garish-passing-for-juicy abominations on the walls of seedy bars and brothels Jock has visited over the years. It is a conventional summer landscape – a rustic stone house, a flagstone pathway and flowerbeds in full bloom on both sides – all in pastel tones and delightful, breathtaking details. And, though to a more sophisticated audience it would certainly look too cutesy and mediocre, for the grim ex-con thug like Jock it was precisely this picture that had given him the first taste of real art back when he just started working for Mr. Charlie; the first simple yet clear sign and harbinger of another life – the life his master has lived, the genuine and wonderful one despite its naivety.
Jock looks at the picture in question as he often likes to do when finding himself in this particular room, taking in its fine details and soft hues in a sort of dreamy, melancholic contemplation. As always, the canvass enchants his hardened thuggish soul, if only briefly, and he mentally thanks the fate once again for having graced him with such a marvelous employer like Mr. Charlie. But then the light of a Tiffany chandelier overhead starts hurting his eyes – his one good eye, that is – and the painting’s features begin to blur and dance before his eyes, dimming his vision. Jock lowers his head and meticulously slides the iron up and down his master’s strictly-formal-black-silk-trousers, feeling the peal of the pain bells in his head once again, but heavier this time – or is it blood rushing through his more-‘en-likely damaged skull? He quickly thinks of the bandages covering his poor skull and wonders if there are any bloodstains visible. Not good if they are. Not good at all. Well yeah, the chap with that brass-armored fist was one hell of a nasty thing, he’d give ‘im that, however much Jock would wish for his master to remain in blissful ignorance – that is, to think the opposite.
Jock resolutely clenches his teeth and breathes though his nose, sweeping the feather-light iron over yet another, finest-woolen-dress-suit specimen of the Great Mortdecaian Trouser Collection. Probably, in the morning to come he will have to try an’ tell Misteh Charlie that he does need to go see a doc, after all. The main thing, he decides, is going be try not to worry Lady Mortdecai.
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