A Story by Peter Rogerson

Poverty v. wealth


Cicelia Loathsome was sitting in the conservatory of the gated mansion that she shared with her husband Lardly, and smiled at him. She knew that he liked to see that smile, and in return she would be rewarded with a special few minutes in bed with him that night before he rolled onto his side, faced the other way and started snoring.

It was those special few minutes that she yearned for because it would be via them, and only via them, that Lardly believed she would produce the son that he so desperately wanted.

He’d started off in life, he always claimed, with nothing, though that wasn’t strictly true because when his own father had passed away of alcoholic poisoning whilst slouching in a bar at Westminster enjoying a meaningless debate with a minor minister, he found that he had inherited quite a lot. There were stocks and shares, actual real cash … and this mansion in a desirable corner of London. And having gained the family wealth it crossed his mind that he might need someone to pass it on to should the worst happen and he cease to be like his pater had. A son. That’s what he needed.

His wife, the stunningly beautiful Cicelia, was quite content to do the honourable thing and go through the motions he believed would end with her getting pregnant, but it never actually seemed to happen. Neither of them claimed to work out why and she muttered when he brought the subject up that wasn’t it usually the man’s sperm that wasn’t up to the job? He, on the other hand, knew perfectly well that it couldn’t be him because…

...He shuddered when he remembered the w***e Patricia Unsworthy, a pretty enough creature, true, and one that before his inheritance had come along he was sure he loved, but the downside was she barely had a penny to her name. She even lowered her own expectations by living on (he shuddered again) a council estate. And, while he in his worst excesses of weakness had actually dallied with her, had actually stayed the night on more than one delicious occasion, and had, of course, done the staying at night things that men do to their ladies, she had developed a condition that led over a period of nine months to the arrival of Paul.

Some might have suggested that he, Lardly Loathsome, was the sire of Paul and he supposed, if you looked at it in a certain light he was. It had taken a paternity test (the b***h Patricia had arranged it because she actually had the cheek to suggest he ought to be financially responsible for the sperms he’d so casually squirted her way) to actually prove he was that sire. Then he’d married Cicelia, confident that his gonads actually worked. That had been a decade ago, and no sprog had crawled out of her and into the light of day. And so, ten years later, Lardly still hankered after a son and had been heard muttering that if Cicelia couldn’t do it then there might be someone else who could, someone else with class and blue blood coursing through her veins.

He’d even started examining the field. The trouble was, despite his huge fortune he wasn’t seen as much of a catch by the sort of women who reminded him loosely of the Patricia the woman he had fancied in his shallow days, and this falling off of interest might have had something to do with the fact that he was gradually letting himself go to greasy fat. He couldn’t help it, he told himself, it was in his genes. Hasn’t his father been regarded as a bit of a grease-ball? A wealthy one, but definitely a grease ball.

Anyway, unsuspected by him, in his appetite for all the wrong things he’d made a play for the Lady Hirsute Pringle, but she had seen him coming, extracted a five figure fortune from him and cast him to one side as if he was a nothing. Then she had married a baronet, and that had very much been that.

So Cicelia was sitting in her conservatory, happy to turn the electric heating up full because it was cold outside. She knew there was a bit of a crisis with the cost of heating and lighting, but as Lardly had explained with a greasy grin, that was all to the good because he had enough shares in the generating companies to want to see the prices go up because it meant his dividends would also go up.

I know we’ve got enough money in various banks to last more than a lifetime,” he had explained to her greasily, “but I need more. Our son will need more when he deigns to come along,” he added.

But doesn’t that hurt the poor people?” she had asked, always happy to think of somebody else..

Don’t give so much as a thought for them!” he had snapped back, “it’s not our fault that they’re poor. Tonight, with a smidgen of good fortune, we’ll make arrangements for our son to be created.”

She liked that. If anything she was prone to enjoying pleasure whenever it came her way.

One day I’ll explain to him about the morning after pill,” she told herself, knowing that she wouldn’t. Why should she? She had the perfect life even though she did have to put up with Lardly, who she loved and hated in equal measures.

She thumbed through a magazine that displayed a disturbingly ugly selection of the latest fashions (I wouldn’t be seen dead in that!) But one picture caught her eye. She smiled. There was a fancy new pair of knickers on the market. She’d get a few pairs. Lardly might like them and their brief sessions of passion might become a tad longer.

Lardly chose that moment to re-enter the conservatory, grinning fatly.

Good news,” he said, “the price is up!”

She didn’t like to ask what price. It didn’t really matter to her.

Maybe tonight,” she whimpered, knowing he had an unconceived son on his mind. Not a daughter. He’d never wanted a daughter. He’d one joked that two women was one too many in a well regulated home. She almost hated him for daring to think that!

Who’s that at the gate?” she asked, pointing towards their expensive electric and re-enforced gate, their one defence against the hooligans from a council estate at lest ten miles distant but whose occupants might one day spill their way.

He looked. There was some sort of pile of rags lying on the ground the other side of the gate, an untidy collection of rubbish that ought to have been carried off by the council before it could blight his eyes. After all, he did pay council tax, didn’t he? So those who robbed him of that tax ought to have done their jobs and cleared the rubbish from his gate.

I’ll get Rogers to remove it,” he said, and rang a bell that tinkled somewhere in the bowels of their mansion.

Rogers hated his job because, deep in his heart, he both hated Lardly and almost fancied Cicelia. Not loved her: he could never love a woman as privileged as she was, but he fancied the sight of her flesh in much the same way as a pigeon fancier admires certain qualities in fine avian plumage.

Dispose of that rubbish, Rogers,” he snapped. He always snapped. It was the best way he knew of keeping the lower orders in control. That and slashing pay packets when things went awry.

I can’t, sir,” replied Rogers, “I did go out with the intention of disposing of it myself, but it’s not rubbish, it’s a man.”

A man? Is he dead or something?” asked Cicelia, “poor thing.”

No, madam. He seems alive. Just about, that is. Very weak, and hungry and cold. I thought that maybe a few crusts left over?”

No way!” barked Lardly, truly offended by the notion that he had any responsibilities for poverty on the streets.

Very good, sir. By the way, he says he’s your son. Paul Loathsome. He showed me his birth certificate and paternity proof in case I didn’t believe him. He says his mother is ill…”

It was at that moment that Lardly’s mind experienced a flash back of monumental proportions.

In his mind’s eye he saw the w***e Patricia Unsworthy and the absolute near-perfection of her young flesh, the tart from his youth, and knew that of all the women under the sky it had probably been she he had truly loved, the first one he had enjoyed you-know-what with and been as sure as could have been that he’d loved, (you didn’t count the boys from his expensive private school, in the dorm after lights out, did you?) If you did his list of lovers might be awkwardly long and include a prince or two.

Son?” he stammered.

That’s what he says, sir, and what his bits of paper say, if they’re not forgeries, and they look genuine enough to me.”

What’s all this about, Lardly?” demanded the wife who was on a promise for that night.

But it had all been too much for Lardly and his mind, the part that had learned to think in his youth and had forgotten how to since then, surrendered to the inevitable.

What’s this all about, Lardly?” repeated Cecilia in her best I want to know now voice.

I must see him,” whispered her lord and master, and he pushed open the door from the conservatory that led to the big wide world outside and wobbled to the gate.

The boy was there all right, lying on the icy concrete, but the boy was dead. Poor sod. It must have been the cold.

© Peter Rogerson 03.04.22


© 2022 Peter Rogerson

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Added on April 3, 2022
Last Updated on April 3, 2022
Tags: mansion, inherited wealth, progeny


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 79 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..