by MyKA Mckinney

Wealthy, handsome and spoiled, with an attitude that makes it easy to dismiss his finer features, Andrew Taylor Scott, gazes through the French-lace sheers that filter the afternoon sunlight, casting delicate shadows across his all-white bedroom carpet and silk duvets. Andrew Taylor Scott is a man for whom maturity has done little to temper his arrogance; a man who by all rights should show some sign of gratitude, perhaps an inkling of modesty considering his good fortune came not by his own labor nor cleverness but by that of a distant relative whom he’d never gotten to know nor, frankly, ever cared to know, but his great-uncle Cornelius’s Spanish mansion in Beverly Hills, and finely crafted furnishings are indeed rare and precious…thus suitable to reflect the image he holds of himself.

He watches as the hired-help, a crew of Salvadoran women, walk the long driveway after their days work; checking to assure himself they aren’t carrying-off anything they shouldn’t. He refuses to let them park their car on the estate, telling them it’s because he considers their car to be unsightly, not admitting it’s mainly to afford himself the opportunity to frisk them visually as they leave. They are a relatively new-hire, and trust is not a virtue Andrew easily extends.

It’s five-o’clock. Andrew’s husband, Randal, should be home any minute.

Randal is an entirely different kind of man. Half of Andrew’s age, he more than makes-up for what Andrew lacks with kindness of heart and generosity of spirit. During the day he’s just—“Randy”, to everyone at the charity bazaar where he works, but that name doesn’t appeal to Andrew, sounds too ‘pedestrian’ he says, so in the evenings, he’s “Randal” around the house, or when they’re out together in public. Randy is good-natured and has a way of overlooking Andrew’s pretentiousness. He knows he wouldn’t have to work if he didn’t want to. After all, they are legally married and by all rights, half of Andrew’s inherited wealth is his, but Randy doesn’t think about things that way. Besides, he hesitates to take anything for granted knowing Andrew has a long history of relationships with younger men. It was only because Andrew got into some kind of legal trouble a while back that they married as quickly and unceremoniously as they did, mainly to prevent Randal from being forced to testify should a case be brought to trial. Without a witness, the case was dropped and nothing more was said. Since they still get along as well as they do, being married hasn’t been an issue. Nevertheless, Randal prefers to be useful more than purely ornamental, so he helps-out three days a week at the bazaar.

Max is gay too, though most people wouldn’t think so. He has a rugged, weathered look to him, unaffected by trends or the need to be pretty, still, he has what it takes to be attractive when the situation calls for it. He lives in a cottage adjacent to the garages on the back of the property and serves as a Jack-of-all-trades for Mr Scott: occasional driver, bodyguard, confidante, pool maintainer, and is basically responsible for any domestic task necessary to keep Andrew from getting his hands dirty. He values his situation, knowing full-well his alcoholism would not be tolerated by other employers. Andrew knows this too and leverages Max’s disability it to his advantage.

The Abby is the most popular gay bar in West Hollywood, very trendy and definitely the place to be seen, particularly if you’re either rich or beautiful, and since Mr & Mr Scott are both, they are well-recognized and always well-received, though for obvious reasons…one of them is not necessarily well-liked.

The Abby owners announce they will be hosting an open-mic poetry-slam on Wednesday evening, which for all intents and purposes seems like a perfect distraction for men with time and money on their hands. In West Hollywood, it’s hard not to run into someone who isn’t promoting a book, or a screenplay, ever-looking for that big-break, hoping to be discovered. Eager talent abounds, so Wednesday’s poetry-slam ignites a lot of interest.

Andrew calls Max on his cell. “Max, Randal and I will be attending an event at the Abby tonight. I’d like you to drive us. Drop us off in front at 9:00. If you can find a park, you may join us later. I’d like to take the Bentley.”

“You think that wise”, asks Max.

“It’s been long enough”’ Andrew says. “Besides, I saw two other white Bentleys just today. Everybody knows I have one. It might seem more suspicious if they don’t see me using it. You got that little problem with the front fender taken care of didn’t you?”

“Yes, Sir. Of course. I took care of it immediately.”

“Well it shouldn’t be a problem then.”

“Oh, and Max…no drinking tonight. Got that?”

“Of course, Sir. Shall I pull around to the front?”

“No. We’ll meet at the garage and leave by the back gate just to be on the safe side.”

“Very good, Sir.”

Randal is in the kitchen. His culinary skills are modest but he is nonetheless enthusiastic as he removes his homemade macaroni and cheese with toasted bread crumbs hot from the oven.
“I hate to go to these things on an empty stomach,” he says, hoping Andrew is as pleased with his effort as is he.

“Carbs and cheese” says Andrew. “Are you trying to kill me or just fatten my ass?”

“You need carbs for energy. You don’t want to be falling asleep in the middle of the show”, Randal insists.

“I think I’ll just order something when we get there.”

Only slightly disappointed, Randal takes a big spoonful and blows on it to cool. “Alright…but you’re missing-out”, Randal says, satisfying himself with a single bite. “Max will eat it.”

Showtime. Andrew selects his traditional attire, a white linen suit, white shoes, and shirt. His 6’2” height and slender frame elongated all the more with a white Fedora.

Randal, a tidy 5’7”, tucks his bubble-butt into well-worn Levis and dons a small-size baby-blue T-shirt, accentuating his eyes and perfect proportions.

Max had the white 2004 Bentley sedan freshly buffed and was looking the part in his black leather pants, gloves and chauffeur cap. The Bentley had been parked in the garage, unused for several months but it’s one of Andrew’s favorite cars, all of which are white, so he chose to bring it out tonight in honor of better days.

“What’s that painting still doing here,” Andrew bellows. “I thought we got rid of that thing. Wouldn’t they take it at the bazaar?”

“I hesitated to take it in,” Randal explains, “thinking you might change your mind about it. After all, it’s the portrait of your great-uncle who built this place. It’s irreplaceable and couldn’t possibly be worth more to someone else.”

The painting of Cornelius Peyton Scott looks eerie leaning against the garage wall along with other miscellaneous items ear-marked for disposal. Perhaps it was just the lighting but he appears to be scowling.
“I gave it a chance”, Andrew miffs, “I certainly wasn’t going to leave it hanging in the great room. I didn’t like it in the library or billiard room, and who would want it starring down on them in any of the guest suites? I sure don’t want to look at it. I have no sentimental attachment to him or it. It creeps me-out. I want it gone.

“It’s nine o’clock,” says Max, “we should be going.”

“I’m not worried”, Andrew insists, “they’ll hold my table until I get there.”

Within fifteen minutes, Max is dropping them off in front of The Abby. The place is crowded as usual, gas patio-heaters are a-blazing, but the atmosphere was slightly less talkative than most nights. Inside, a heavy-set Fluid with colorful-tattoos, heavy-piercings and faded blue hair stands at the microphone reciting an angry diatribe possessing neither pentameter nor rhyme.

The host welcomes Andrew and Randal and escorts them to their table.

“Can I get you something to drink”, he asks softly so as not to distract the poet.

“I’ll start with a Cabernet”, says Andrew in a bombastic tone, “while I consider how much of this I can stand”.

Randal orders a Corona beer with a tequila shot and a margarita.

The drinks arrive, the poet concludes, the crowd applauds, and the MC introduces the next poet.

“Im not sure where he’s from, or when, there’s a mild chuckle from a few, but let’s give a warm welcome to, MyKA, who will be reciting an original work entitled—Masters of the House.

From the shadows emerges an elderly young-man, obviously a throw-back from old hippy-days. He’s tall, gaunt, with long-hair, wearing a floor-length hooded robe. He steps-up to the microphone.

“Oh God”, says Andrew, loudly motioning to the waiter, “I’m gonna need another drink, this wine isn’t going to cut it. Bring me four shots of whiskey and an Irish coffee.”

“By the time you’re back I’ll be ready for another round,” says Randal.

In a voice raspy and deep, MyKA begins…

“Stories of Love are often told
By romantics young, and mystics old
By heavenly stars
Love’s light unfolds
On human hearts it’s rhythm”.

The waiter delivers their order. Andrew downs two shots immediately and sips the Irish coffee. Randal is feeling warm and relaxed and is in the mood to listen.

“But before I speak of love’s intrigue
Heartless abandonment, and denial,
Let me describe the lay of land,
Impressions worth a pleasant smile.

Two rivers converge the lands high ground,
Escorting to the seas,
Mighty forests of evergreen,
Whose bough could bend the morning breeze”.

The poetry is having a hypnotic affect on Randal. He closes his eyes and releases his imagination.

“We take a craft, de-board at pier,
Give baggage to our coachman,
And while he travels on ahead,
We’ll walk as I do often.

The path we take is plain to see,
Planted very liberally
With trees and flowers—so intense
They suffice to serve as critters fence,
Whose nibbling only seems to thin
The very thing that keeps them in”.

Andrew, ever contrary to anything tender, becomes louder and harder to ignore.

“Watch now as we turn,
See colors soften,
Contrasts fade,
Bird song pauses,
Winds whisper,
And for a brief moment,
There is silence.
Now watch for crimson Hollyhock
That line this path they tower
And bend to arch
Our graceful stroll
With fists of yet unopened flower”.

“Is there supposed to be music to this?” Andrew thinks he’s reading the room but is merely reinforcing his reputation as a self-inflated dickhead.

“There! Beyond the fields of corn and rye,
Between the mountain and the sky,
A great house sits like a throne on high,
Bringing dignity to the earth,
Like heaven having given birth.
It’s roofs are high.
It’s views are many.
It’s chimneys tote of wealth and plenty.
A setting sun on shingles show
A craft forgotten long ago,
Nor are any still around
That might recall constructions sound.

It’s windows, walls and floors are stone,
Burnished smooth by time alone.
They echo soft the servants scurry,
And loud the voice of noble fury”.

The busboy comes to their table to clear away the empty glasses. He’s a particularly nice looking Hispanic and enjoys prolonged eye-contact with Randal, but in doing so, the edge of his tray accidentally knocks-over Andrew’s un-finished glass of red wine, smashing it against the table and splashing all-over Andrew’s white linen suit. Andrew jumps out of impulse to avoid the inevitable, knocking over the table and everything on it.

“You stupid wet-back! Now look what you’ve done! Andrew is livid, a condition easily accessed after a couple of drinks. “You ruined a suit that costs more than you make in a year. How you gonna pay for that…huh? You stupid Mexican”.

MyKA pauses until the commotion calms itself.

A team of well-rehearsed waiters and busboys work in tandem cleaning-up the shattered glassware, wiping-up the spilt drinks, setting the table aright, and bringing a fresh set of drinks compliments of the house.

The busboy is apologetic but Andrew is in no mood to forgive and loudly demands he be fired. The owner motions to Jesus to leave the room and comes over to the table to apologize in his behalf.

“He’s new and inexperienced”, the owner explains. “If you send me the cleaning-bill I’ll take care of it personally”.

“Let’s just get back to the poetry, alright! What’s done is done. Andrew tries to claim the high ground unaware it’s already been pulled-out from under him.

MyKA continues…

“The Masters House lives very well,
A visitor can plainly tell,
But peace not only ruled this land,
And there was suffering at the hand
Of ignorance and fear—
Even people we hold dear.

Imaginative listeners might assume
This house and gracious land were doomed
But it was not the threat of army leagues or cataclysmic famine
It was for Love—or the lack thereof that did its halls contamin.”

Randal is quiet, listening to MyKa speak. Inside, however, he is furious. He felt something for that busboy, Jesus, and is ashamed of how Andrew behaved over that stupid suit. He gets them from a mail-order catalog out of Indonesia for less than $100 each, and must own twenty of them.

“I was young some years ago,
And must regress if one’s to know,
To be told a story must begin,
And the teller find himself within”.

Max found a parking space but decided to stay with the car. Having remembered to bring his flask with him, he puts the seat back to relax, waiting until Andrew decides to call.

“The Masters House was much like now,
With farmers carts and wagons driven,
Indentured servants, apprentice trade,
All by Master’s order given.

The Master had a son, sole heir,
Bereft of any brother,
Who bore the burden of
Marriages duty, though first
He loved another,
But she was born of servants blood
Not the type to breed
Heirs to the Masters House,
And so was planted bitter seed”.

Randal excuses himself….says he needs to use the can. Andrew is drowning himself in self-pity as if it was whiskey, and doesn’t make a remark.

“To his father, and the house he lied,
And to the face of his new bride,
Affairs with servant-girls denied,
With frozen-heart he turned.
There was talk to put the servant out,
But because the truth was still in doubt,
Decision was made to keep her down,
Or bear the brunt of Masters frown.

Unbeknown to Masters son,
For she hid her pain and smiled,
And kept a secret in her womb,
And told no one it was his child.
She labored hard beneath the floors,
In cellars and back stairs,
And bore her child behind dark doors,
Helped by those who answer prayers.
A mothers love is bonded strong,
For Hope there is no replacement,
She hid her son from his Lord,
And raised him in the basement”.

Randal heads for the restrooms, but diverts toward the kitchen. He asks where Jesus is. “He’s out-back”, they tell him. Randal slips through the chaos, out the screen door into the alley behind the kitchen. Jesus has been told to stay out of sight until Mr Scott leaves. He’s emptying cans of trash into the larger dumpster.

When Jesus sees Randal he looks down in shame.

“No! Don’t feel that way. You’ve done nothing wrong, Randy says. I’m so sorry for the way you were treated, and ashamed of the man who did it.

“Meanwhile, upstairs, all was gay.
New Master’s wife gave birth one day,
And for all any knew, the only one,
So celebrated they the Masters Son.
And to this child, the world was given,
All the promise of his lot,
While below in whispers and muffled cries,
Lay the son that love forgot.
Neither could he understand his mothers shame
When a fever relieved her of her name
And left it on a simple stone.
Him, to find himself alone.”

“It’s ok”, Jesus offers. “I didn’t take it personally. I’m not Mexican. I’m from Salvador.”

“The Master’s butler knew the story,
But fearing for positions glory,
To spare the Master’s household hell,
Promised God he’d never tell,
But he kept a distant watchful eye
Upon this young man growing,
And meld him with the downstairs staff,
The house’s inner-workings showing”.

Police spot Max drinking in the car. They arrest him for being under the influence and run a make on the car. Their inquiry brings more questions and Max starts singing like a canary.

“Upstairs, more delightful days, a
Lord’s son prospers many ways,
Fashioned by the style imparted,
Grows tall and strong and gentle hearted.
As adolescent compulsions grew,
He learned his roll commanding crew,
But to find the place only privacy fills,
He sought out a cave in the nearby hills”.

“That’s interesting”, says Randy. We just hired new housekeepers and they’re from Salvador too. Maybe you know them.”

“Indentured servants know long duress,
But find late at night a time for recess.
Young man escapes from the basement brave
To play by himself in that moonlit cave”.

“Maybe I do. My father was killed last July by a hit and run driver, so my mother, sisters and I needed to get jobs to support ourselves. They got hired as housekeepers for a big mansion in Beverly Hills. I came here.

“What was this special place they found,
Two boys alternating time around,
One by day, and one by night
They learned of each other without having the sight.
Always alone, together they played,
A message in sand, or by sticks arrayed.
They knew from the start their friendship was banned,
Attached to ideas they did not understand
But happy in the thought of each others existence,
They conspired between them to remove any distance”.

“Did they ever find who did it,” Randy asks.

“They never did”, Jesus says. “They have security-camera footage showing it was a white 2004 Bentley sedan but it could not see the license plate or who was driving, so they have no way of proving anything. No witnesses came forward”

“It was the Masters son who advanced their fate,
Excusing himself, slipped out late,
And there in the moonlight—met his mate
As they beheld each other.
Face to face they understood
The feelings of their childhood.
Not knowing of their brotherhood,
They promised to love forever”.

“Here. I want you to take this”. Randy pulls a hundred dollar bill from his pocket. “It’s the least I can do for the scene my husband made tonight.”.

“No. No. I don’t want to take money from you. It’s you I want”.

He doesn’t have to say it twice. Randy and Jesus lock-lips and start making-out behind the dumpster.

“Sinuous saplings, eager to grow,
Upright intentions are natural to show.
Facts in the face are hard to deny.
Some questions are answered without asking why.
The moon shines soft on flesh in the night.
Moist marble glistens by dawns early light.
Two voices groan the same song as one.
Birds of a feather all greet the same sun”.

Police enter the Abby asking if a man by the name of Andrew Taylor Scott is there. The owner points to his table. Andrew is too plastered to understand what’s happening. Nevertheless he is handcuffed, read his rights and placed under arrest for suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, tampering with evidence, and fleeing the scene of a crime.

“It wasn’t enough cheated lives could now heal,
There still was concern how the household would deal.
You see, relationships of this sort, between men,
Are hard to admit, hard to defend.
The truth of their nature already denied,
They accepted that love was a sin, and so lied.

When the prosecuting attorney presented the case, Randal recognized the timeline and understood why Andrew had been so spontaneous to “make it official”. To say he felt used would be an understatement. He told the judge exactly where Andrew had been at that particular moment in time.

Our story continues, though now, Love, turns the page.
Young men soon enter their coming of age,
Masters inherit their ancestral place,
(What some cannot see they find easier to face).

The young men avoided the obligation to marry,
And for cover, instructed the servants to carry
A rumor designed to account their affection,
And send rattling tongues in another direction.

And so, THIS incredible tale was conceived,
That they were, half-brothers, the real truth? Indeed!
Well, whatever the ‘real truth’, the fact is – they paired,
And the wealth of the land was the life that they shared.
Whether as brothers, or as husband and spouse,
Together – as ONE – they Mastered their House.

Despite numerous distractions, the audience offers gracious applause to the old poet who humbly bows his head and walks away, only to be reabsorbed into the shadows from whence he came.

Andrew Taylor Scott loses his case in court and is sentenced to three to five years in State Penitentiary but his prick-ish attitude doesn’t serve him well in prison. After just three weeks he dies in his cell from internal injuries.

As Andrew’s legal spouse, Rand, the name he goes-by now, is eventually awarded 100% of the estate. Having moved Jesus, his mother and sisters into the house several months ago, together they create a loving, happy home, and one of the first things they do is restore Cornelius’s portrait to its proper place above the fireplace in the great room.

Now, admittedly the lighting in the great room is different than it is in the garage, but everyone swears the scowl can no longer be seen…and there are a few who insist they detect the slightest glimmer of satisfaction on old Cornelius Peyton’s face.

 

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