The Tales of Jerome James: My Dreadful Day


1812

I lived in a small apartment building consisting of 5 apartments in Bishopsteignton, South Devon.  There was an engagement party being held for an old acquaintance and business partner of mine, Aston Washington.  I was invited along with several others.  The party was being hosted at the building in which I lived.  Most of the people attending the party also resided at the same dwelling.

It was an outdoor party.  I brought along a friend, Crispin Rogers, who, unfortunately, was not invited to the grand engagement party of Aston Washington and Guglielma Christianson.

Aston and his family were a pompous bunch.  Very proud of themselves.  They held much power and knew how to make people feel unwelcome.  His two elder siblings were what bothered me most.  One, was dressed highly inappropriately for her brother’s engagement party; a low-cut dress, that reached her ankles.  The other had a malicious husband.

Crispin and I made our appearance and greeted the family.  Aston’s father gave me a brief ‘hello’ but ignored Crispin altogether.  I knew then that it was going to be a long party.  I gave my well-wishes to Aston and Guglielma, but neither acknowledged me.  Crispin and I surveyed the gift table.  I placed my gift for the couple on the table.  We then found ourselves a table and talked.

After a few minutes, Aston’s mother, Huldah, offered me a drink.  I figured there was no harm in a drink, so I walked to the refreshment stand with her, and she poured me a glass of water.  She then turned to me.  “Jerome,” Huldah said,”I do not wish to be rude, but may I ask why Mr. Rogers is with you.  I happen to know who was on the guest list and he-”

“Crispin is with me because I asked him to attend.  I did not wish to come alone therefore I invited him to accompany me.  As Crispin, Aston and I are life-long friends, I knew you would not mind the intrusion.   If you do not wish for Crispin to be here, he and I can both leave.  It was quite improper of you to exclude Crispin.”  I gave her a tight smile.  “And,” I said carefully, “you may call me Mr. James.  Are we clear, Mrs. Washington?”

She glared at me and plastered a smile on her face.  “Quite clear, Mr. James.”

I walked back to the table and sat.  Crispin was reading a book.  I scowled at my water glass, walked over to the nearest bush and emptied the glass.  The water would be more enjoyable for the bush than for myself.

I returned to the table and began to ponder Huldah’s comment.  I was truly appalled.  I did not think the Washingtons would mind that Crispin attended.  He was more than capable of taking care of himself.  I did not think the party could get any worse.  Perhaps I had jinxed it.

I was not enjoying myself and I had a feeling that Crispin was not enjoying himself either.

Huldah repeatedly appeared at our table asking if I was well or if I wished for anything.  She did not however ask if Crispin was well.  I declined all offers of refreshments.  I was angry, and thought the Washingtons had class.  I held them in high regard until recent events.  It was not difficult for me to decline what was offered.  The scent of food did not tempt me whatsoever.  I had made a colossal mistake accepting a drink.

Aston and Guglielma approached our table.  Crispin glanced up and groaned.

“Hello, Jerome, I would like you to meet my fiancée, Guglielma Christianson.”

“It is a pleasure to meet you Miss Christianson, I am Jerome James,” I said.

“Enchanted,” she said coolly.

Crispin cleared his throat rather loudly.  “Greetings, Aston, it is a pleasure seeing you again.”

“Rogers.  What, pray tell, are you doing here.  You were not on the guest list.”

“Well, considering your family did not have the decency to even invite me, Jerome was kind enough to ask me to accompany him.”

Aston turned to me coldly.  “I’d like a word, Jerome, if you please.”

I stood and followed Aston into a secluded corner of the courtyard.

“Jerome, it was not your place to invite Rogers.”

“Listen to yourself!  You have known Crispin since we were children.  It would not have taken any effort to  send him an invitation!  If you had done so, I would not have taken it upon myself to be… kind,” I said.

“Excuse me?” he asked in a deadly tone.

I pointed a finger at him.  “Your family acts as though they are classy, elegant and polite.  But, please, Aston.  I am not stupid.  I can see through the charade.  Your family is nothing more than hypocrites.”

“Stay away from my family then.  I thought we were friends, Jerome.”

“This would have not occurred if your family knew how to be polite,” I said coldly, turning to walk away.

“Do not think you are invited to the wedding, James.  After this – our friendship is over!”

“You cannot end something that has not begun.”  I walked away.

“I am leaving Crispin.  I have suddenly developed a headache and am not in the mood to remain at this party.  They cannot make you leave, so stay if you wish.”

I walked to the gate to retrieve my coat.

“I hope you had a pleasant time, Mr. James,” the attendant said as he handed me my coat.

“I did not!”

*******

I heard a knock on my front door.  I stood from my desk and covered my inkwell.  I put my quill down.

“Hello, Aston.”

“Jerome.  I have a complaint,” said Aston walking in without being welcomed.

“What seems to trouble you?”

He held up the crystal I had presented as an engagement gift.

“A vase? I expected more after 25 years of friendship.”

I walked to him.  “You expected more?”  My voice was low, and I was anything but calm, but I kept myself in order.

“Yes, I did!  Think of everything I have given you in all these years!”

That had done it.  “You’ve done nothing!  I had a feeling you only invited me for a gift.”

I went to my table, grabbed a sealed envelope and pressed it roughly into his chest.  “Tell your mother I shall vacate the premises immediately.  I have found a more suitable home.”

Aston’s nostrils flared.  “You owe us an appropriate amount of notice!”

“You shall not have it!  I have no sympathy for you.  You made no effort to help me when I was struggling.”

“I allowed you to live in this place!” said Aston angrily.

“You recommended this place.  I still had to pay for it.  Oh, I really did appreciate the gift you left for me when I moved in.  Yes, but do you know what I did?  I accepted it graciously.  You should try it sometime.”

“You are despicable!” spat Aston.

“Thankfully, I can say the same to you.  The rent on this flat is paid in full until midnight.  Exit my home at once!”

Aston glowered and marched off.

That was my dreadful day.

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