The Curious Case of Billiards – Part Two
The very first thing that was offered was a game on said table. I could tell from the brothers demeanor, they had no intention of enjoying the game, but I could not wait. To cue up for a hit, you had to use the fowl as a precursor, and they only rolled one way, straight, so multiple hits required delicate maneuvering and forethought. I immediately found myself immersed in a strange speculative thought pattern. The beautiful art kept my eye delighted, and my mind responded with a capricious and sprightly thought pattern. It became apparent as well that there was a cause and effect of weights and design. It was easiest to hit the moon, and then use the moon to push other balls around. After about two hours the genius of the game was so immense I was left almost flabbergasted and distraught, but I knew there had to be more to my visit than just this. Our conversation was becoming more distressed as we played, and it was obvious that the brothers did not grasp the subtle clues and intentions the game itself kept buried in its mechanics. Indeed they became down right angry with the whole thing.
“Is it not preposterous, this monstrosity of a game, dear Spiker? I am completely convinced my mother has gone mad, and is just out of control with her airs!” Hampton spun his monocle from his chain, peering down his nose at me.
“Of course it is brother, it is just again, her demanding and control of the estate, put to horrible use, and a useless end.” Richard put his billiards stick on the table, closing the game.
“Your Mother is an artist, I am sure she meant it to be enjoyed by the two of you, and your friends…” I did not finish the statement, as it was obvious that they hated the table, the game, and anything coming close to statement. Another round of scotch was poured, and this would be the fifth round of heavy pouring, I was aware I needed to stay quiet and find out what my 50 pound fee was going to entail.
Richard picked up one of the chicken cue balls, and with a hearty sideways swing of his arm, neatly chucked it out the open glass top of the room. “That is were this belongs, on the lawn, as a decoration! Her insistence that we play it at least once has been observed, let’s talk about why we called you out.” His face was flushed, and he was angry, so I did my best to keep a pleasing face and smile for them, as they began to talk with me in earnest.
The table cost £180,000. The ivory for the sticks cost £2000 alone, and between the large semi precious stones used as billiard balls, and the payments for sculpting artists, the table had wrought considerable financial difficulties for their shipping investments. The problem was that their mother controlled all their interests for 5 more years, and they worried that her madness would manifest itself in spending every penny they had. They had every intention of ruining her in court, and getting a judge who had been handsomely bribed to give them the control over their various monies, before they were gone. We sat on the two lounges in the library, and as we sat, Hampton kept chucking various pieces of the table out the windows.
Now I have never felt the bite of a moral, or had the desire to shield people from each other. Indeed, I was quite the opposite, you do whatever you need to do in life, and I will do my best to profit off of it. I had no interest in the mother, but as they talked, half of my soul and heart began to betray my conscience . I could feel the normal half of my brain agreeing with them, telling them what judge they should bring the case to. The other half of me was setting up an even more elaborate plan, however. I heard my self telling them to chose to use the high court, not the county court. My arguments seemed sensible, as the high court has more jurisdiction and power and would likely not be contested, however I knew it was much easier to bribe a county official than a high court justice. They had £20000 to bribe with though, so there was a part of me that said it could work, and justified the idea to the other half of me. No matter though, it was a trap, a trap I was devising as we spoke. I was about to betray my position as a scoundrel and go against all my work before me. I was sweating over it, when the mother herself came in.
She saw the mess of the table, and at first, smiled greatly, correctly assuming that we had played a game with her table. She talked about it, and I listened with an intent ear, for the table was a prize, a prize for all mankind, if I had ever seen one. She eventually noticed the missing pieces however, and then the row began. Her sons, angry in the first place, were not to smart to me however, and I winked at them as a conspirator should, and admonished them and sent them and the servants out to search for all the pieces. She was distraught, but soothed by the fact that they did indeed find all the parts, and I wrung an apology from both of them to their mother. She finally smiled and said goodnight, and retired to her rooms.
I of course, was immediately under the ire and angst of the brothers. I cajoled them to think about how perfectly I had set this up for them. Let the table alone, indeed show it off a little bit, it could not hurt, as it was well done and proof of how well heeled they were. Use it to write a contract on, and laugh about how silly the game is, and all the while I would set up the case for the high court. Once I knew the judge, I would send word to them and they could approach him privately and settle their accounts. There would be an end for all, and until then, smile and be polite about it. They discussed it privately outside, while yelling at the servants to put out the lanterns that had been lit to find the various pieces. They both came in and slapped me on the back heartily, positive and happy about the course of action we had set.