Once upon a time there was an adorable blonde, blue-eyed, sweet natured houseboy called Gillibran Brown. Gillibran lived in perfect harmony with two big old Daddy Bears who worshipped the very sod he trod upon. (Yes they do, they just forget it from time to time.)
Gillibran was perfect in every way, except for a teensy, tiny, ever so miniscule propensity to poke his cute little nose into other folk’s business. He just couldn’t help himself. It was a curse he was born with, that and a big gob that never knew when to shut up.
One bright and sunny September Sunday not so very long ago, Gilli and his Daddies set off to have Sunday lunch with Old Leo, a grumpy, grouchy, overbearing, arrogant, full of himself, long time friend of the bears. Leo lived in the modern day equivalent of a grand palace. Everything within and without its walls was perfect in every way due to Old Leo’s habit of flashing his cash and hiring skilled serfs to do everything for him, bar the cooking, which he did himself because he fancied himself to be some kind of amalgamation of every great chef that has ever lived.
On arriving at Old Leo’s luxurious pad, Gillibran did his usual reccy to see what was new and what he could purloin and pinch and put a better spin on using his own enviable skills of interpretation. Old Leo’s grounds were immaculate, grand enough to be open to the public for cream teas and light luncheons. The lawns were as green as emeralds, the hedges cut to military precision. Flowers bloomed in rich abundance, free from greenfly and all other garden pests. Gilli had a quick scan around and after making sure he was unobserved he emptied a bag containing several million aphids into the perfect rose bed, adding a bag load of huge breeding snails for good measure. (Lie Detector says NO!) Okay, that didn’t happen, but Gilli did think about it, just as he often thought about hiring a hit man to kill Old Leo, of whom he wasn’t jealous at all.
Inside Old Leo’s house, in the hall, the theme of perfection continued with elegant décor and floral arrangements that looked like they’d come via The Chelsea Flower Show with not so much as a leaf or stem out of place. It was floral Nirvana. And then, Gillibran spotted it, on a side table, huddled beneath a vase of opulent late summer roses. He stared wide-eyed at this fly in the ointment, this jarring note, this horror in paradise.
What was it?
It was a little cactus plant: a shabby, shrivelled, dried out, dust encrusted, dead looking little cactus plant in a nasty, grubby, grotty plastic pot on a mucky, yucky old saucer. The compost in which the cactus was planted was dry and as hard as Old Leo’s heart.
Gillibran’s initial shock and revulsion gave way to pity. Poor, neglected little ugly duckling cactus plant left quivering amongst lavish and generously tended beauty. It reminded him of himself when first he wandered into the realm of the two bears. What kind of bastard could do such a thing to a tiny prickly plant? Old Leo! He was well known for his sadistic predilections. The cactus was obviously being put through an extreme form of submissive horticultural training.
Gillibran, being a tenderhearted houseboy, felt he had to speak on behalf of the poor tortured cactus. He confronted Old Leo when he came to meet and greet them.
Pointing at the little cactus plant he said elegantly. “What the fuck is that?”
“That,” said Old Leo, giving the houseboy a hard look, “is a cactus. Someone at work gave it to me. He grows them from seed.”
“Was it his way of calling you a prick?”
“No,” growled Old Leo, “it wasn’t, you impudent brat.”
“You haven’t looked after it very well. It’s about dead. It needs water and a bit of leaf shine.”
“It is not dead, it is dormant, and it doesn’t need anything at this point in time.”
The strident song of the kitchen smoke alarm cut short the cactus conversation. Old Leo galloped back to the kitchen to investigate. Silly man. He’d overheated the fat for the Yorkshire puds. Gilli, being a noble lad didn’t crow, though he did mention that the subsequent puds had a ‘burned’ flavour and were not up to Old Leo’s usual standard. Ignoring three icy stares he got on with forcing down four of the aforementioned puds.
Once lunch was eaten and the clearing away done, the three bears and the little Gilli-cub retired to the lounge to sup coffee and exchange chat. Once the coffee was supped the conversation turned to work matters as it always does, so Gilli, bored off his tits, decided to take the coffee paraphernalia into the kitchen to wash up. As he carried the tray down the hall like a reject butler from Downton Abbey, his eyes were drawn to the grimy cactus cowering in the shade of those bullying pink roses. His dust sensors twitched. Instinct set in. He had to clean and water it. He had to! Before he knew it, he had snatched up the cactus and placed it on the tray, carrying it through to the kitchen.
Closing the kitchen door he carried the cactus over to the sink, softly murmuring, “don’t despair, little cactus, I’m going to save you. I won’t let Old Leo torment you any more.” Turning on the kitchen tap he placed the plant beneath the stream of water. Oh joy! He could almost hear its cries of pleasure and appreciation as all the dust was rinsed away and its thirsty soil drank deep, swelling with glorious moisture. Gilli cleaned its pot and polished its saucer before sneaking it back on the table where it held its head high with pride! ‘Look at me, look at me, snobby summer roses, I am small and plain, but I am SHINY.’
His work done, Gilli, cactus messiah, left the plant rocking its new look and skipped back to the lounge where a certain bear eyed him suspiciously.
“What are you looking so pleased about?”
Throwing himself on papa bear’s lap, Gilli beamed, fluttered his eyelashes and said, “having you as a partner.”
“Hmm,” said papa bear.
Later that same day, at home
Gillibran was in the kitchen (where else would he be) knocking up some smoked salmon sarnies for tea, as if they hadn’t all eaten enough lunch to feed a small country, when the phone in the hall tolled like a mighty bell. As per usual, Shane’s dulcet tones roared.
Being an obedient houseboy, Gilli trotted off to do his master’s bidding, while muttering under his breath about lazy bastards. Picking up the phone he said a polite “hello” and was immediately assaulted by the equivalent of a vocal tsunami.
“I’VE JUST SEEN IT! IT COULD ONLY HAVE BEEN YOU!”
It was Old Leo and he sounded seriously pissed.
“HOW DARE YOU WATER MY PLANT? HOW DARE YOU! YOU INSUFFERABLE BRAT!”
Yep. He was seriously pissed.
“WHO IS IT, GILLI?”
Slamming down the phone, Gilli hastened back to the kitchen where he chewed anxiously at his nails. Why the fuck was Leo so mad?
Footsteps soon sounded in the hall and Gilli knew wicked Old Leo had resorted to calling Daddy Shane’s mobile to complain about the sweet little houseboy.
Gilli stood up straight, trying to look innocent as both alpha and beta bear strode into the kitchen looking as grim as grim could be. Oh dear! As if synchronised they folded their arms and glared at their boy.
“Did you water Leo’s cactus?”
“I haven’t got a clue what you’re on about.”
Daddy Shane’s eyebrows, which have a built in lie detector, shot up to his hairline and Gillibran hastily amended his statement.
“I might have, only a bit. It needed it. What’s the big deal?”
“The big deal, Gilli, is that you had no business touching it,” said Dick sternly. “Leo is terribly upset.”
“Why,” said the houseboy sulkily, “it’s only a bloody plant?”
“You’ve been told time and time again about interfering in things that are none of your damn business,” growled Shane. “We can’t take you anywhere without you causing some kind of trouble.”
“Why did you do it, honey?”
“Why not? It was as dry as a bone. I felt sorry for it. I don’t see what the fuss is about,” said Gillibran, adding pathetically, in the hope of garnering sympathy, “I feel a bit shivery, I think I might be getting the flu.” It cut no ice and garnered no sympathy. It was as if he had never spoken. (Isn’t it always?)
“Leo told you that plant was dormant and didn’t need anything and even if he hadn’t you still had no right to waltz into his house and start interfering with his plants. He’s really angry with you, and so am I.”
“God’s sake,” snapped Gilli defensively, “what is the matter with Leo, why is he making such a drama out of this? I only watered a fucking plant. It’s not like I fed poison to his cat or anything.”
All wind left the houseboy’s sails and he blushed a hot crimson, as it was explained just what the big deal was.
“How was I to know,” he said tearfully, “he didn’t say. If he’d said I wouldn’t have done it.”
“The point is, Gilli, he shouldn’t have had to say anything. It was not your place to touch his property. You’re a bloody menace.”
Grasping his naughty boy firmly by the hand, a very cross Daddy Shane towed him towards the breakfast table. Pulling out a chair he sat down upon it and with an expert flick of his wrist tipped poor Gilli over his hard lap.
“Ow!” Gillibran yelled, as a stinging smack landed square in the centre of his bottom. Others followed in quick and painful succession, and all with vocal accompaniment.
“Keep your snout out of other folk’s business. You had no right interfering, no right at all. You’ve spoilt everyone’s day with your thoughtless, selfish behaviour.”
When the spanking was over with and Gilli had collected himself a little he telephoned Old Leo and offered a humble apology for interfering with his cactus. He suggested that Old Leo ask his work chum to provide another specimen, which he promised he would not so much as spit on.
Old Leo coldly informed the remorseful houseboy that his work chum had given out all available specimens, adding, with a snarl, that it was a special variety and not readily available.
The houseboy apologised yet again and offered to try and track one down, even if it meant scouring every florist and garden centre in the land, and maybe even writing to the RHS.
“Don’t bother yourself.” Old Leo hurled the phone down, leaving the poor houseboy feeling like the baddest, most horrible boy in the whole world. He sought comfort. Daddy Shane was unsympathetic, but at least Daddy Dick offered a cuddle along with some gentle scolding about it being his own fault.
What was the big deal?
Leo had planned to keep the cactus dry and dormant until the end of November at least. He had then planned to re-pot and tend it carefully, so it grew and hopefully flowered in all its glory. He would then take it to his father’s resting place in December; in place of the usual Christmas wreathe tribute. His father had been fond of flowering cacti. It takes all sorts, pondered the houseboy on hearing this.
Thanks to houseboy meddling the cactus woke up and produced a delicate flush of beautiful but short-lived flowers way ahead of schedule. Oh dear oh dear!
Poor Gillibran was embarrassed and truly sorry for his faux pas and acknowledged he had deserved the punishment he had received from Daddy Shane. He resolved never to water another man’s cactus again, not without written permission. He did his best to make it up with Old Leo by buying him an assortment of cacti, albeit rather common or garden varieties, in the hope one of them would step up to the bar and provide a stand in for the one he had inadvertently nobbled with his pokey nose.
Old Leo eventually forgave the houseboy and allowed him back into his home again on the proviso he kept his sticky little paws off his belongings.
As things turned out, the spanking was not the end of poor Gilli’s suffering. A few days later he endured further punishment for his unfortunate action in the form of a dream. Leo appeared to him, dressed as Beyonce. Gyrating around in a tight leather leotard he sang ‘put a Ring on it,’ only it wasn’t his finger he was referring to, and worse, it had spiny prickles all over it. Gilli woke with a scream vowing he would be good from then on. He would never again stick his snout where it had no business being stuck.
And there ends the story of the cactus incident. If there is any moral to be found herein, it is simply this: never meddle with another man’s cactus, not unless you want your arse to suffer a dose of prickly heat, followed by a visit from the nightmare spook, who will show you things you will never shake from your mind.
Gillibran Brown, houseboy, Daddies’ boy and serial meddler.
Copyright Gillibran Brown 2015.