Tamarusday, Firch 10th, 1892. 9:54 pm
“I’ll have the money soon. I promise.” James said to Glen.
Glen was a thorn in James's side. The past few years were brutal for the struggling single father. The day Glen was promoted to chief of police in the Mayberry District he began bullying the residents of the ghetto. The son of a bitch had a special thrill out of walking all over James in particular. Residents and neighbors of the neighborhood didn’t particularly know what made James so deserving of Glen’s horrible attention, but James knew. Glen knew of James’s past, about being an Lord during the monarchy. During that time James was rich while Glen and his family were poor. Now that the tables had turned Glen was going to use every chance he had to grind James in the dirt.
“Mind if I come in?” Asked Glen. He waited for no reply; he walked into James's small flat.
“Glen, please. My daughter…”
“Oye yes, how is the little brat?” Glen said as he walked around the apartment picking up old books and other objects as he did so.
“She’s sleeping. So if you could just come over another time...” Said James.
James was more than nervous. Confrontation was not his strong suit, more so when he had a daughter to care for. He followed Glen through the apartment making sure Glen didn't break or steal anything. Not that there was much to steal, or that James would have the nerve to stop him.
Ever since the technocracy overthrew the monarchy and striped James of all his titles, property and finance, he and his daughter have been living week by week barely being able to afford the shambled deprived life they now had. James was raised in nobility and only taught skills only a Gentleman and Nobel needed. Without his position he had hardly any useful skills. In this day in age, industry, science, business and military strength where the true skills of those ruling and changing Orr. James knew none of these traits. He was left with working in a mill along with the lower crust of society and colorful demons.
“I've gotten complaints from the landlord. About you not paying up!” Glen said while poking James in the chest with his pudgy finger.
James knew Glen was full of shit. The landlord was empathetic to many of his tenants, especially James and his young daughter. Much like the most of the Mayberry Citizens the landlord was used to Glens harassment. It was unlikely he sent a report about James's late rent. Glen was most definitely the one to create this scenario.
“Of course he did.” Mumbled James.
Glen didn’t hear him, he was too busy looking out the only window in the flat.
“You know James, I’m a good man.” Glen said.
Could of fooled me. James thought.
“I’m willing to pay for your rent this week. In exchange for one of your family heirlooms...”
“I don’t have any heirlooms.” James said bitterly. “The technocrats took them all from me. The few I had, your tin men confiscated from me!.”
Glen strode up to James's face.
“Listen Reynolds” Glen always used his last name insultingly. A once proud and respected family name, now reduced to nothing. Only a bitter reminder of what was. “We know you must be hiding some silver and real gold around here! Why don’t you just hand it over now, it would be much easier for all of us mate.”
“I have NOTHING! You've taken everything from us! Everything of value! Even when we ran out of valuables you still took from us! Our curtains, silverware even our water rations! If I had anything of value left you would of taken it already!” James shouted!
The air was tense. James glared at Glen who was giving him a dangerous look. The sort of look that only meant trouble was brewing. For a moment James thought he made a mistake raising his voice so loud.
“Whats going on?” Came a gentle voice from the doorway to little Elizabeth's bedroom. The small eight year old girl was hugging the fringe and had tears in her eyes.
“Elizabeth, darling, please go back to bed.” James said as he moved to his daughter's side. He lovingly gestured her back to her room, but was interrupted by Glen.
“Aw, Jamesy boy, didn't you teach ya daughter to greet your guests?” Said Glen with a yellow smile. “Come over here love.”
James wanted Elizabeth nowhere near Glen, but was afraid of angering him. Reluctantly he let Elizabeth come out to the living room. The small eight year old girl clung to her fathers leg.
“Good evening little lady.” Greeted Glen. “You’re looking pretty today.”
Elizabeth was frightened by Glen but knew enough to stay strong. She shut her eyes and tried not to cry as Glen patted her head and caressed her cheek with the side of his hand.
“You know Jamesy, you could always just let us babysit your darling daughter. Some of my boys down at the bobbie barracks, have a….desirable interest in little ladies like her.”
James’s blood boiled! He fought the urge to hit Glen in his face, but made the mistake of grabbing him by the uniform. It happened on instinct. James hardly knew what he was doing until Glen hit him with his metal baton! He was then thrown against the wall, and sent tumbling to the floor with a bloodied nose!
“Don’t act so bold James! You would think you'd remember that from last time.” Glen said mockingly.
Glen was talking about the night James lost everything. Once the technocrats took control of the Gearford Castle, as well as the government, they had special officers make trips to all the lord’s and barren’s who were under his majesty's employment. They would go into their homes and take all positions and arrest the lords and their families to await political trials. It was that night when the officer and his soldiers came that James made a bold move, and payed the price.
“Daddy!” Elizabeth cried, snapping James out of his dark memory!
Glen had his baton raised for another strike, his eyes gleamed with passion and hatred.
“Daddy…” Elizabeth said nervously.
“Stop! I implore you!” Cried James. He pulled himself up and rushed over to a dirty pot on the counter. He pulled from it a small silver necklace embedded with a red ruby in the center. “Here Glen. Take this and go. Please.”
Glen snatched the necklace from his hand and looked it over. Once satisfied with its authenticity he tucked it in his pocket.
“Good doing business with ya Jamesy. Bought yourself some time.” Glen gave one last yellow smile. “You should clean this dump up, this is no place to raise a child. I might have to bring childcare down with me next time. I’ll make sure bring her to a nice home jamesy, I promise.” He said with a wicked wink and slamming the door.
Elizabeth rushed over to her father, who had slumped to the floor once Glen left. She hugged him while crying into his chest. He held her in an embrace.
“Its alright Elizabeth, Its alright.” He said.
It wasn't alright. Glen had gone farther than James had anticipated. He would NOT take his daughter from him, especially for his disgusting desire.
“Daddy, you’re bleeding.” Elizabeth said fightently. She wiped the blood from James’s forehead. James was lost in thought. He knew staying here was too dangerous at this point. Glen was too big of a problem. They had to get away, this was the only way, he told himself.
“Elizabeth, listen to me.” He said to his daughter with a stern voice. “Go to your bedroom and lift the floorboard in the far right corner floorboard, take whats underneath.”
“Dad? I don’t-”
“Please Elizabeth, just do as I ask. We need to be quick.’ James said.
Elizabeth did as she was told. Under her floorboard she found a sapphire ring. She had never suspected there was any such thing in her room. When she returned to her father he had a gold pocket watch and a solid platinum coin. Elizabeth had never seen theses treasures before. Maybe when she was very young when she lived in the large mansion, back when her mother…
“Thank you Elizabeth.” James said as he took the ring from her and tucked it in his pocket along with the other two objects. “Now go get dressed.”
“Why daddy? I don’t understand what's going on. What are these rings and jewelry? And-” Elizabeth felt like she was about to start sobbing again. She couldn’t help it, she was a young girl and a tender soul.
“Listen sweetheart.” James said as he knelt to his daughters level and looked her in the eyes. He wiped away her tears. “You know how I walk you to school every the morning? Well, were doing that, but in the dark tonight. Instead of the school though, we’re going to uncle Billy’s alright?”
“Un-Uncle Billy’s?” Elizabeth hiccupped, mid cry. She was starting to calming down.
“Yes sweetheart.” James gave her a kiss on the forehead. “Now please go get dressed.”
Uncle Billy. James had befriended him shortly after losing all lordship. They lived fairly close to each other. Close enough to be from the same area where Gale and the rest of the bobbies bullied the citizens. Bill was infamous as being democracy sympathizer. Technocrats despise democratic sympathizers. James and Bill had a common enemy, the technocrats and police force. Aside from government they both despise there was not much that linked the two together. They had conflicting views about the world and politics. Despite their conflicts, both could see some mutually beneficial relationship and in a some sense, some trust.
Once Elizabeth was dressed she walked to her father who was waiting by the door.
“Say goodbye Elizabeth, we’re never coming back. Never.” James said. It might just have been the most truthful thing he ever said.