Bedlam – Mario Acevedo

Lord Illingworth and his heterosexual life partner Sir Dudlington are idly strolling through the cobblestone streets, vainly, as men of their stature are wont to do. In his many years as a gentle-manne of leisure Lord Illingworth has amassed a great many hats which now tilt precariously in a giant pillar above his head. Sir Dudlington, also being a gentle-manne of leisure has not amassed as many hats as Lord Illingworth and only wears a modest pile of hat.

Gallantly these men converse of simple gentlemanly things such as zeppelins, musket-gonnes and domesday weaponry. “Oh how incredulous I am of these topics dear Dudlington” said Lord Illingworth “For surely phlogiston theory doesn’t allow for men to fly or somesuch nonsense”. Sir Dudlington, feeling dejected by his abusive yet leisurely companion remained quiet as they continued their evening stroll. Sometime later Lord Illingworth and his friend are approached by a smelly unfortunate from out of the shadows. This meek, dirty thing approaches and asks “Please sire it is deathly cold, may I have a hat?” Lord Illingworth being taken aback by this display of dreadfulness responds “Ah hah hah! You are as PRESUMPTUOUS as you are POOR and IRISH, you may NOT have a hat.” “Yes, I have maney hats as well but did not bringe them” added Sir Dudlington.  Leaving the gaelic cur in the street where he belongs the gentlemen continue on their stroll. “Hark!” Yells Lord Illingworth at a passing ladye. “Your mouth hath sucked the life-milke of mine for nary a pence” producing tears from the fair ladye’s eyes. It has been said over the most lavish, sexiest tea parties that Lord Illingworth and his mostly silent cohort are the bane of cultured society. They are members of the nobility who are anything but noble. They wander about the city hurling insults and chicanery as a way of expressing their disdain for the classless. These gentlemen are currently headed to a boxing match frequently held by the rabble that they strive so hard to distance themselves from. As usual, they arrive late and without apology. They have bet many houses and manservants in anticipation of this match. It appears that Lord Illingworth is about to lose the bet. “Curse your eyes, Dudlington! Your hat-less commoner has box’d the heade-milke of mine!” bellows Lord Illingworth. Giggling Sir Duddlington responds “As rewarde I wille take one of your deareste hats. Fill’d with precious spices from the Barbary.” A slightly lighter Illingworth and his companione march silently out of the fight-dungeon and after bidding Sir Duddlington a pleasant evening, he returns to his manor. Immediately upon his arrival he is assailed by his mistresses. “My liege, what devilry is this witching hour upon which you return? Yelled Gruntilda, one his least favorite housewives. “Wench! Speak not to me of frivolities such as time and it’s spending! You are banished to your sleep-dungeon for the fortnight.” Lord Illingworth tuts her away and spirits himself to his lavish hobbyroom. His hobbyroom: being a compendium of broadswords, airships, and magicks of the most esoteric sort. Lord Illingworth enjoys the preparation of fresh insults for the following day amidst bits of sparring with his test golem, Guerney. On this day he has received a curious package via post and he hastens in its unwrapping. It is a tribalman’s shiv, a splendid addition to his lordly collection of pointedly sharp things. He waves it about, its dangerous curves menacing even in the dim light of his hobbyroom. He places it next to his authentic chinaman sword and his jaguar dagger. Lord Illingworth tires quickly, never lingering on any of his many hobbies for too long. He pulls out a deck of his favorite carde game, Tragic the Garnering. It is a curious game that Lord Illingworth pays many pounds to a mangy, flea-bitten stray sailor from the colonies to import every month. Lord Illingworth enjoys many a game of Tragic with his Nipponese manservant Doktorjones, savoring the convoluted rules and gamebreaking mechanics. Matches that usually in victory for Illingworth and furious defeat for Doktorjones. Lord Illingworth reminisces fondly over the deck and puts it away in its baroquely embroidered box. Guerney sits in the corner, it wooden frame emphasized by the darkness of the corner. Guerney was an important gift that Lord Illingworth received from the sheik of Unspecifiedistan during one of the journeys taken in his youth. It was a thing held in awe by the berber men in that country, apparently alive yet not seemingly so. In their mythology it was referred to as a golem of wood that would one day awake and grant the desires of the one who owned it. Lord Illingworth calls it Guerney and uses it as a wooden post to hit with the many weapons he owns and doubly as a model for his hat collection. Without knowing it Lord Illingworth collapses into an uneasy sleep. He dreams briefly of dirty pirate hookers and vengeful gods but is brought back to wakefulness by a loud crashing noise. Lord Illingworth awakes with a start “Rue you hardy housekeeps!That your noises are as unaccommodating as your dress!” he rumbled. He despises being woken early and drunkenly stumbles up searching for reason in that ungodly racket. There is a path of carnage that he follows to the posterior dining room; therein he is irritated to find a hole in the ceiling. In Lord Illingworth’s mind this can only mean one thing: Efram Hale. His houseminions scramble from the kitchen-dungeon to gather the many buckets, nails, and battleaxes necessary to repair/defend their lavish home. Lord Illingworth sends them away and addresses their new visitor. He is a hulking man, shirtless and rugged. Wearing only boots, a hat and extremely short cutoff trousers that Lord Illingworth finds disturbing. Lord Illingworth has known this man since adolescence when his travels took him to the great continent of Australia. The Illingworths and the Hales were families whose existence has been intertwined for as long as history has been written in the king’s English. Much like the Illingworths, the Hales amassed their wealth through heavy industry. They have been leaders in the many fields of the Australian sciences and have benefitted the world greatly through their discoveries. For the last forty years the Australians have outpaced the world. This always confounded Lord Illingworth since by all appearances they are a nation of idiots. Teleportative machines, invisibility cloakes, the entire spectrum of the moustache sciences. Every one of mankind’s innovations now comes from the lager-pickled brain of an Australian, all because of the Hale family. “G’day, you sepo bastard.” says Efram in his dreadful aussie manner “Sorrie, ‘bout the broken roof mate”. Lord Illingworth cares little for things such as roofs and somesuch so he casually disregards the damage. “O’er doth teaches my roof to show light, no matter” says Lord Illingworth cryptically “What brings you? Be it leisure? Or tidings?” Efram Hale looks around warily before pulling a full day’s newspaper out of his painfully tight trousers. He tosses it at Lord Illingworth with a speed that causes the gentle manne to stumble. It reads: “MASSIVE STORE OF GOLD FOUND AT THE ARSE END OF GOD’S KINGDOM, AUSTRALIAN SCIENTISTS BAFFLED.” Lord Illingworth almost jumps at the sudden rush of ambition that sweeps over him. For as long as he has lived he has always felt a failure to his family for not contributing to their wealth. This news could change everything. “Manservants! Bedlam hath erupted, make ready the steamboat!” yells Lord Illingworth. Perhaps his days of adventure have not yet ended.