Thursday, January 28, 2010


Title: Aloysius
Authors: Rolf and Ranger 

It was not a good morning.
I'd finally eaten when The Beast was on the verge of blowing a blood vessel, since there was nowhere to put a bowl of cereal out of sight without actively dumping it on the floor. And since the results, on both occasions I'd tried that, were unrewarding to say the least, that was not really an option. I was only out of bed because he'd physically put me on my feet at seven-thirty and swatted me when I tried to get back in. And the water in the tank was NOT hot enough to have a shower, whatever he said.
And now, there was nothing in my wardrobe fit to wear.
"If you'd buy some new clothes-" The Beast said fairly patiently, putting the last of the items on hangars out where I could see them, "You'd have something to wear whatever your mood."

"I like JEANS."

"So wear jeans."
"I haven't got any clean ones!"

"And why is that?" The Beast said with fractionally less patience. "Where are they all, Gabriel? You have about six pairs of jeans."
I glowered at him since he was being horrible. The Beast took no notice and walked slowly around the room, collecting as he moved.
"One- two pairs under the bed. Another pair over the chair here. Another pair I asked you to move from the bathroom two days ago and that I put here because I was fed up with them lying on the bathroom floor. And two more pairs screwed up in a ball at the bottom of the wardrobe.
"I told you I hadn't got any clean ones," I pointed out. The Beast handed me the six pairs he'd found.
"And why is that? Who leaves your jeans kicking around instead of putting them in the wash?"
That was such a mean question it didn't even deserve an answer.
"Aloysius," I said, glaring at him.
The Beast gave me a quizzical look. "Aloysius."
"Aloysius," I confirmed, somewhat triumphant since The Beast looked flummoxed.
The Beast nodded, considering the matter and went back to making the bed.
"Well if you or Aloysius put those jeans in the wash today, you'll have a clean pair for tomorrow. In the meantime, you'd better wear that tracksuit."
"I HATE the tracksuit," I reminded him. The Beast tugged the duvet straight and headed downstairs, his answer perfectly audible.
"Maybe it looks better on Aloysius."


I stamped around the supermarket behind him, glowering at any villager that caught my eye. The Beast wouldn't let me push the trolley, nor would he give me any reasonable explanation why. I KNEW why. Because when I was fed up, I banged it about and people started edging away from us. And he might as well say so instead of just saying mildly that he felt like pushing it today.
"I don't like those," I informed him, watching him bag up vegetables in varying shades. I'd discovered since I'd moved in with him a fact that I had always suspected: vegetables weren't really edible.
"Maybe Aloysius does," The Beast said calmly, dropping them in the trolley. "Get some fruit please."

"Aloysius doesn't eat fruit," I spat back, not amused. The Beast headed towards the fruit counter, unmoved.

"What does he eat?"

"No wonder he's rampaging around hiding your jeans then."
He thought he was SO funny. Ok, if he wanted to play, we could play. We'd see who got sick of this first.
The Beast took out the three video cassettes I'd dropped in the trolley when we got to the checkout, putting them to one side.
"Aloysius wants them," I said, putting them back in.
"Then Aloysius can pay for them," The Beast said, taking them out again. "We'll leave them there for him."

"He's having cashflow problems."

"Then he definitely doesn't need to be wasting money on bad thrillers," The Beast said, pushing me ahead of him. "Can you pack please?" 

I stuffed food into carrier bags with bad grace, watching The Beast hand over a cheque. "Are you going to boss him around as well as me?"
"If he's going to live in our house then he's going to have to follow our rules," The Beast said reasonably. "That's basic good manners. Thank you," he added to the bemused villager on the till. I waited until he had the last bag almost in the trolley before I shrieked.
"DON'T squash Aloysius!"
"I do beg your pardon." The Beast handed me the bag, without flinching. "Perhaps you'd better carry that if there isn't room in the trolley."
"There's room THERE," I said scowling and handing the bag back to him, which was heavy. The Beast handed it back again.  
"That's the eggs and that's the fruit, neither of which need squashing. Carry it please."
I got in the jeep outside, slamming the door and leaving The Beast to put the bags in the boot.
"Put the trolley back, please," The Beast said without looking around. I took no notice. The boot shut when all the bags were in and The Beast came around to my door, opening it and looking at me.

"I thought you were talking to Aloysius," I explained.
The Beast unclipped my seatbelt.
"I'm sorry, I'll make it clearer. Gabriel, please put the trolley back."
"Fine. You only had to ask."
I slid out of the jeep and went to put the trolley back, rejoicing. If this wasn't driving The Beast mad then nothing would. THAT should teach him to try to be funny when I was fed up.

He had a client at eleven AM.
I objected to clients on principle. I objected to anything which involved him going behind a closed door without me. I objected still more to someone else - ANYbody else- waltzing in off the street and entirely dominating his attention for an hour.
"Do NOT come near my office until twelve," The Beast said sternly when he left me in the library. It was warm in there, he'd lit the fire and turned the lights on against the grey rainy day outside, and he'd further blanked every wail and protest I came up with. "You've got books, in the living room you've got the video and that horrible gameboy thing, there are biscuits and milk in the kitchen if you're hungry, the water's hot if you want a bath; you can keep yourself occupied for an hour. Do NOT go outside, do NOT do any acrobatics of any description, do NOT interrupt me via the office door OR my phone, and I will see you at twelve."
"I might get ill," I pointed out. The Beast surveyed me, folding his arms.
"ARE you ill?"
"It might happen suddenly."

"Then perhaps you'd better go to bed and rest to be on the safe side until my appointment's finished."
He is totally Beastly.
Seeing I wasn't about to take him up on that offer, he started downstairs to his office. I trailed him, panic setting in.
"It's COLD, I can't be up there on my own if it's cold-"

"There are blankets, you have more socks, more sweaters, your coat if need be; you'll live until twelve," The Beast said calmly, carrying on down the stairs. He was going to do it. He was going to go behind that door and ignore me for the full hour. I did one of the last-ditch things that usually stopped him and stamped, hard.
It worked like a charm; he spun on the spot and advanced straight down on me.
"I don't WANT you to work," I said firmly enough to maintain my argument, but beat a strategic retreat back upstairs. The Beast caught me by the hips, lifted me down to the hall floor and swatted me equally firmly, despite all my attempts to put my hands over the piece of anatomy in danger and put it somewhere out of his reach.
"Don't stamp at me, Gabriel."
I stamped again, harder. He promptly swatted again, harder, and held on to my wrists, eyes taking on that steady look I never liked.

That was the BIG voice.
I jumped, tears involuntarily flooding my eyes. The Beast didn't look sympathetic and he wasn't about to let me go.
"I can keep this up a lot longer than you can, my boy. Do you need to spend this hour in bed?"
He meant it. And the swats smarted hotly; I really didn't want to invite a third. And I hated it when he got cross with me. I looked back at him, already hearing my voice shrink up and back despite all my efforts to save face.
He held on to me a moment longer, his eyes still fixed on mine while he worked out if I meant it, then he gently cupped my face and kissed me.
"Good boy. Give me a hug then and go back to the library; I'll see you at twelve."
I flung myself at him, wrapping arms and legs around him and losing the one or two giveaway tears in his sweater. He hugged me tight for a moment, large and furry arms cradling my face against his mane. Then he kissed me again and put me down, detaching my hands.
"One hour, you can do it. No interruptions."
"I might-"
He LOOKED at me, pausing with his hand on the office door and I changed tack quick.
"ALOYSIUS might have an accident! I might need to call an ambulance; can I do that without telling you?"
"No," The Beast said cheerfully.
"But if he was HURT-"

"If he DOES get hurt, I'll spank you," The Beast said matter-of-factly.
I stared at him, so outraged I was having trouble breathing.
"Because as a guest in our home, you should have been taking better care of him. Twelve o'clock, Gabriel."
And The Beast went into his office and shut the door.
That was it. We were mail-ordering a pitch fork, I couldn't wait any longer for the villagers.
I kicked every stairpost on my way back up to the library. I didn't WANT to be up here alone. The Beast was mean, he was tricky and he was way too suspicious of me. The fire was irritatingly comforting in the library, just like the pile of books left out by The Beast's own chair which even from here I could see contained a couple of my favourites. As if he were trying to bribe me to stay up here and behave. I flung myself down on the hearthrug and glared at the fire. One of the firelighters had dropped out of the fire and crumbled on the hearth. I picked it up and broke it in my fingers, tossing fragments in to the fire bit by bit. What if there was a fire? He hadn't covered that. What if a piece of coal rolled out of the hearth right now and landed on the floor? Was I supposed to deal with that? If I couldn't call an ambulance, it was unlikely he'd like me to call the fire brigade either. I could burn to death up here on my own dealing with this fire. He probably wouldn't care. The castle was ancient and enormous anyway- who knew what its fire protections were like. The ceilings were high, it was draughty- the smoke alarms probably didn't work at all.

It took four pieces of smouldering firelighter in a dish to trigger the smoke alarm in the hall.
The one on the top landing, I had to get on a footstool and hold the dish up to before it began to wail.
I had four going at once when the office door slammed open and The Beast came upstairs like the seventh cavalry charging.
"YOU told me to keep Aloysius safe," I told him when I saw the expression on his face. "The one in the bathroom doesn't even WORK -"


My legs were seriously starting to ache by the time the hall clock struck twelve. You'd think a physiotherapist would know these things. The Beast had meanly left the office door open too- just enough that while his client had no view of me, HE could see me clearly. The one time I tried looking around and stretching my legs I heard him clear his throat meaningfully enough that I turned back to my corner quickly. He'd flatly refused to talk about it, too. Which was probably against the Geneva convention. Just pulled me down off the stool, deactivated the smoke alarms upstairs and down, towing me after him without any consideration for my arguing, then planted me in the corner and took the last of the smouldering firestarters with him.
He was being totally unreasonable. Without testing the smoke alarms, how would he know if they worked?
The office door opened and I straightened up, virtuously looking at the wall ahead with both hands nicely by my sides. He didn't sound impressed.
"Gabriel William, bring yourself here."
"You didn't SAY not to test the smoke alarms," I pointed out, turning around. The Beast pointed at the spot of hall floor in front of him and waited. I made my way slowly across to him.
"You said if Aloysius got hurt you'd blame me, and how did I know if the fire was safe if I didn't check-"

"RUBBISH, Gabriel," The Beast's voice wasn't at all loud and yet it was extremely penetrating. I glowered back at him.
"It was Aloysius's idea!"
"Then you should have known better than to listen," The Beast said impeturbably. Infuriated, I stamped yet again.
"HE set them off, not me!"

"Which ones?" The Beast inquired, taking my arm to swat me. I yelped, trying to pull my arm free.
"ALL of them!"

"I saw you setting off the bathroom one."

"He set off the other ones, then!"

The Beast looked at me. I glared back, willing him to argue with that. Instead, he let go of my arm and waved me towards the library.  
"Very well. You and Aloysius have until teatime to write out five hundred times each,  'I will not play with fire at any time and for any reason'. I'll expect both sets completed and on the table when I call you for tea, or the amount will be doubled."

"That's not fair!" I said in horror. The Beast raised an eyebrow at me, pausing on the stairs.
"Five hundred! That'll take all day; it's not fair!"

"Five hundred. I warned you, Gabriel: no interruptions. You WILL learn to wait when I see a client. And you most certainly do NOT play around with fire; that is totally unacceptable. Come on, I'll find you paper and you two can get started."

I sat down on the stairs and folded my arms tightly. "NO, that's too much!"

The Beast shook his head, totally unsympathetic. "Gabriel, you can make a start now or I can spank you and THEN you can make a start. But you are going to write those lines. I won't put up with this kind of behaviour every time I work. I expect both you and Aloysius to be finished by teatime."
His meaning finally sank in. When I did finish my five hundred, he would just demand to know where Aloysius's five hundred were- I had two choices here. Either to accept the full thousand lines, which appalled me- or to admit ,right now as we both knew perfectly well, that Aloysius was a random invention to be blamed as convenient. Which meant then that I had no excuse other than I'd been messing around with the smoke alarms for no other reason than to disrupt his work.
And from there, I knew, things would get distinctly ugly.
He had me cornered. And he grabbed me before I could run upstairs.
"No, you don't get to do the storming out. You don't dictate what happens here, my lad; I do and I told you what your options were. Now are you going to write or do you need a spanking first?"
I glared at him, rapidly approaching tears.
"You're being MEAN-"  
"Choose, Gabriel," The Beast said simply.
There was NO solution to this. 

"I can't!" I sobbed at him, finally dissolving into tears.
"Why not?" The Beast said matter-of-factly.
"Because I can't do it and when I can't you'll just get mad-"

"You can write five hundred; that won't take so long."
"Then you'll want the other five hundred!"

"Yes. From Aloysius, since you tell me he's just as responsible as you."

He wasn't kidding. There was going to be no graceful way out and I knew it, and it made me want to hurl something straight at his head.
"You know fucking well he isn't real!"
"Isn't he?" the Beast said calmly, not letting me go.
"No!" I spat back.
"Are you sure he isn't?"
"So who turned on all the smoke alarms, Gabriel?"
I tried everything I could think of to wrench his hands off my wrists. I didn't succeed in moving them anywhere. The Beast plonked me down on the foot of the stairs and carried on holding them, waiting for me to stop.
"Who set off the smoke alarms?"
"I did!" I screeched at him. "You KNOW I did!"

"Why?" The Beast inquired calmly. "Gabriel, STOP crying like that. Stop it right now."
It was not the BIG voice but it was extremely close. I gulped and quietened down.
"That's better," The Beast told me. "It's totally unnecessary; you do not need to work yourself into hysterics and you'll make yourself ill. Why did you set off the smoke alarms?"
"To see if they worked," I sniffled, not daring to shriek any more. The Beast shook his head.
"They have test buttons."

"Those might not work!"

"Gabriel," The Beast said sternly. "WHY did you set off the smoke alarms?"
Ok, life sucked. Life seriously and horrifically sucked.
"You hate me," I pointed out. "I'm horrible and I can't do anything and you wish I'd just pack up and leave right now-"

"Rubbish," The Beast interrupted. "You got yourself into trouble, my boy; you knew exactly what you were doing wrong and you're going to face up to the results of it. You don't get out of it by pulling that card on me. Why did you set off the smoke alarms?"

"GABRIEL WILLIAM..." The Beast said in what was very definitely the BIG voice. So big the windows rattled. I stopped and gulped, looking at him. He didn't look angry. But he wasn't going anywhere and his hands were still over mine, not letting them move and his eyes were very-
I sprained my shoulder in Budapest, right before the vaulting finals in a minor championship eight months ago. The Beast had gone over my head to withdraw me from the vaulting team, and he'd stood in front of the mats when the competitors were called, looking at me with exactly that expression.
In the end he'd taken me down to the changing rooms- 'taken' being somewhat an understatement - and explained a few things in terms I would have preferred not to have heard on the whole.
I hadn't competed. As a matter of fact, I spent the rest of that afternoon in his room with my head in his lap, in tears.  
His eyes had looked JUST as they looked now. Kind, focused, piercing and far more determined than I felt.
"You're going to kill me!" I wailed at him. He shook his head, unmoved.
"I'm not going to kill you. I most certainly am going to spank you."

The confirmation of that appalling fact made the tears run still faster. "That's not fair!"
"Gabriel, why did you set the smoke alarms off?"
"Because I HATE it when you work!" I sobbed at him. I'd reached the end of the line anyway, there was nothing left to lose. The Beast held both my wrists in one enormous paw and used the other to brush tears off my face.
"I know you hate it. But we all have to do things we don't like.  Does it do you any harm to be by yourself for an hour while I'm working?"

"Because I hate being by myself!"

"I know you don't like it. But does it do you any harm?"

"Gabriel, would I do anything to you that did you any harm?"
His voice had gone down to that big, deep rumble that seemed to vibrate right through me. Some part of me was still ready to say yes- but I was tired, and that voice seemed to flip something inside me. I stopped struggling and let the dark, steady eyes catch me, swallowing me whole.
"Of course I wouldn't," The Beast said firmly. "I know you don't want me to be away from you, but you can't always have what you want and you most certainly can't blackmail me into doing what you want when things don't go your way. No MEANS no, Gabriel; you ARE going to learn to accept that the first time."
"But I don't LIKE it when you say 'no'," I said pathetically, past caring whether or not I made sense. The Beast shook his head.
"It isn't illegal to do things that you don't like. You KNOW you're not allowed to disturb me when I'm working and that you have to wait until I'm finished. What happens when you do disturb me?"
The world ended.
The Beast put a hand under my chin, refusing to let me look away.

"What happens?"
 I died. Bleep. Game over.
"Gabriel. What happens?"
"I get a spanking," I admitted very quietly. The Beast nodded, getting to his feet.
"Exactly. Come on. You've made yourself quite upset enough."
There didn't seem much point in explaining that I didn't want a spanking. I still cried, the whole way across the hall and into the living room. The Beast took a seat on the sofa, drew me around to his right-hand side and put an arm around me when I started to struggle. His voice was gentle and matter of fact; I was too blurry-eyed to see his face.
"That's enough. Come on now."
I couldn't help squirming but I let him lift me down over his lap and his hand closed firmly over my free wrist before he took the waistband of my track suit trousers, pulling them down to my knees. My underwear followed, despite all my attempts to prevent it.
"You don't disturb me when I'm working," The Beast said calmly above me, managing an alarmingly firm grip, which prevented virtually all mobility. And I was trying hard.
"That is a straightforward rule. If you choose not to keep it then you choose the consequences that go with it. It's your decision and it's one or the other."
He didn't talk any further as I wasn't really paying much attention anyway. When the first hard smack landed, I tried everything I possibly could to get up, roll away, slide backwards off his lap- his arm was too tight around me, the knee under my hips lifted, tipping me further forward and I became rapidly convinced I was going nowhere. Which left no option whatsoever except being here, bare, upended and being thoroughly spanked. It HURT. It hurt too much to have to put up with, but he wouldn't stop. He held me still and his hand fell in those dreadful, blazing swipes again and again, travelling up and down until it all hurt and hurt a lot, and he still wouldn't let me turn around or wrench my wrist out of his grasp, no matter how I kicked and pleaded and sobbed. His hand just fell and fell and fell, accurately and soundly, until I became absolutely convinced that he never was going to stop and I never was going to move an inch, and lost all will and energy to try. I gave up the struggle, lay limply where I was in his grasp, and concentrated purely on crying.
I barely noticed when his hand finally stopped falling, nor did I try to get up when I did realise. He held me where I was for a long time, his hand heavy on my back, moving slowly and soothingly over the bared small of my spine and under my t-shirt, up and over my shoulders. When he took my arm and pulled me back to my knees, I crawled straight up into his arms, burying my face in his shoulder and clinging. It hurt, and as always at this point I felt horrible, but he held me closely and even feeling this awful I knew it was over. Finished. And that held its usual, stunning relief.
"I don't think you're dead," The Beast said in my ear. I shook my head hard, still trying to breathe between gulps. His arms tightened around me, the world gave a sudden lurch and I clung tighter as he carried me across the hall and up the wide stairs towards our room.


I cried for a long time into his chest, lying against him full length on our bed, under the comforting weight of the blanket and his arm. Because despite having kicked the tracksuit trousers off, I still hurt- and because I'd got into trouble with him- and because today had been a horrible day to begin with. And because, when I had him, when I was here, when I ought to have been happy- I wasn't, and he knew very well I wasn't. I made it clear to him on a daily basis. Any normal man would have thrown me out weeks ago, and yet he was lying here, holding me as though it didn't matter to him. I was horrible and miserable and everything was wrong except him. He stroked my hair and let me cry, saying nothing, but from time to time I felt the brush of his lips against my face. That was enough.
I had a thumping headache as well as a sore and throbbing bottom when I finally ran out of tears, and my eyes were blurred and sore. The Beast leaned over me for another handful of tissues and watched me mop off my face, pushing my hair back off my forehead.
"Go and put some cold water on your eyes, love. I'll get you some aspirin and you can try and nap for a while, hmm?" 

"Don't go away…" I pleaded, instantly grabbing him. He shook his head.
"I'm not going anywhere, just to the bathroom to get the aspirin."

I let him go with some attempt at dignity and went to the sink in the corner of the bedroom to wash my face.
I looked a total wreck when I surveyed myself in the mirror. I pulled off my sweatshirt and headed back to bed, more than ready to burrow under the covers. We'd already made a thorough mess, having laid on the bed a good hour and pulled the top blanket over ourselves. However on the pillow on the far side of the bed was an undisturbed element I hadn't noticed when we first came upstairs.
It was a large, old-fashioned looking bear, with a blue ribbon tied in a bow around its neck and an angelic smile beneath large, blue eyes.
"What's THIS?" I demanded of the Beast, picking it up. The Beast slid two aspirin into my mouth and held the water for me, barely glancing over.
"That's Aloysius."  

~The End~
Copyright Rolf & Ranger 2010

Most of the artwork on the blog is by Canadian artist Steve Walker.

Rolf and Ranger’s Next Book will be called The Mary Ellen Carter. The Mary Ellen Carter and other works in progress can be read at either the Falls Chance Ranch Discussion Group or the Falls Chance Forum before they are posted here at the blog. So come and talk to the authors and be a part of a work in progress.

Do you want to read the FCR Books
and Short Stories on your E-Reader?
Well, lucky for you, e-book files can be found in
both the Yahoo Group and the Discussion Forum.