Willem Stark was a happy man—um, no, wait—he was sad, very sad. The death of his boss, Old Dam, his long time friend—cough-bullshit-cough— rocked him. He doesn’t know how he can go on. It was a complete surprise to be named the sole heir of the Blackwater fortune. How touching. She really did care for him underneath that brittle, nasty tempered—um—sweet, loving face.
Willem gripped the phone tighter. “I’m sorry. What was that? Did you just say the heir is Balthazar? The dog? Surely—”
“ . . . Yes, of course, I under—”
“ . . . A caretaker? I’ve been bequeathed the dog?”
“ . . . Wait. A salary of what? That’s less than what she’d been—”
“ . . . Oh. I see.”
“. . . But it doesn’t really make it better. I’ve already been living in that creepy place. Now I’ll have to stay and take care of that damn dog. It hasn’t shut up since it’s lost its stuffed toy and—”
“ . . . Fine yes. I’ll come in and sign the papers tomorrow.”
Willem shoved the cell phone in his pocket and opened the back door of the house.
Aaahoooo! Aaahooo—Balthazar’s wail abruptly cut off and was followed by nails clicking against the wooden floors. A moment later the dog peered at Willem from the kitchen doorway, gave a low pitiful wail then flopped down at his feet, lifting his front right paw off the ground in a pathetic attempt at the “shake” trick.
“You are not getting a treat for that,” Willem said, frowning at the mutt he’d been awarded for his years of service to that that god awful bit—
Willem’s gaze landed on a gold coin sitting on the kitchen table next to Old Dam’s half eaten meal. Stepping over the dog, he picked up the coin then glanced back at the dog, who stared up at him from the floor, paw still in the air. A slow smile spread across Willem’s face.
The dog did come with the house. Filled with antiques. Priceless antiques. He clutched the coin in his hand and made his way up the stairs to Sir Dam’s room.
Ten minutes later, Willem emerged in a fur coat—maybe a bit too warm for the current season, but it went with the top hat and walking stick.
Tucking the coin in his pocket, he headed out, shutting the door on Balthazar’s moans.
Thirty minutes later, Willem parked the Old Dam’s 1956 Cadillac—well it was his now, wasn’t it—outside the pawn shop. Making sure his hat was on straight in the rearview mirror, he stepped out then leaned back in to grab his stick.
“Can I have some money, sir?”
Willem straightened, turning to see a young boy. “Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t have any extra.”
The boy frowned. “You don’t have any money? With the car you’re driving and that coat? I just need a few bucks. My sister hasn’t eaten in days.”
“I’m sorry about your sister, but I really don’t have any money. This isn’t even my co—” A rock pelted through the air and knocked Willem’s hat to the ground. He turned but saw no one behind him. Strange. When he bent to get his hat someone pushed from behind and he fell to the ground.
“Get him!” The beggar boy yelled.
Suddenly there were arms and legs everywhere. Kicking. Hitting. Willem covered his head and curled in a ball as tight as he could. “I don’t have anything,” he screamed.
Willem Stark was beaten unconscious by beggars.
Aaaahoooooooooooo! Aaahoooooo! Balthazar limped from the kitchen to the front door to wait for Willem. His new master was his only distraction from losing his Grogar and his only help for his sore paw. It’s been plaguing him ever since that last day he had with his love. He was unable to sleep, the pain was so bad. Or walk up the stairs to his room to feed.
Poor Balthazar was galled by gangrene.
Lord Slogar: -45
Professor Helena Slogar: 0
Melissa Slogar: 0
Elias E. Gorr: -5
The Old Dam: -25
Cousin Mordecai: -10
Willem Stark: -5
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