We don’t have the pleasure of many visitors here at the Chateau de Maude other than the come-and-go mail carrier or the servicemen who upkeep the grounds. Although, Maude and her well polished demonic charm have ensured that the rotation of regular help resembles a revolving door, as none of them dare make a long-term engagement of working at this address.
While this is never the location of joyous dinner gatherings or unannounced but welcomed stops by from friends and neighbors, there is a kind but troubled old hunter who ventures to us every blue moon. He is both familiar and foreign to the boy, precious one and I. We loosely refer to him as father. He never stays with us for very long, always bringing with him stories of his adventures in the wild killing for food, sweet treats and dolls for the little one and freshly flanked venison for the boy. A true creature of habit.
His scent is of evergreen and bourbon, his stature a full six feet and his hands have the rugged texture of a lumberjack yet a precise grace in movement that reminds me of the flowing hands of a seamstress. While the boy and precious one gather at the dining table with father, I usually sit in a chair away from the table in the nearest corner next to an antique China cabinet. Vicariously indulging in their enjoyment of his presence, but always quietly observing. Maude has made me this way, I can never quite enjoy simple things knowing that her eyes and ears are not far.
As father fills the room with his bellowing, jolly laughter, he looks to me for a moment noticing my silence. I’m almost certain that he believes my lack of full participation is to his own fault…..the secrets of Maude’s demons are completely unbeknownst to him. She performs as quite the skilled illusionist whenever father is with us. The illusion of a smile, the falsehood of her accounts of day to day life for us all. All the while nervously scurrying about the kitchen and shouting to converse with him, yet never emerging from the kitchen with even a glass of water for the poor man. Perhaps there’s an underlying fear of her true villainy becoming exposed should she actually sit across from him and should their eyes lock, revealing the truth behind the windows to her rotting soul. Perhaps even as father’s torrid love affair with the bottle makes him flawed in his own right, his light sickens her darkness.
As much as I long to catch his glance and somehow stare the truth of her ways right into him, it is neither possible nor the time. Aside from that, I find myself still sorting out whether or not he is of sound enough mind to trust with such truths. To be sturdy enough to shoulder the weight of all that truly lies behind the door of the home he so dares to visit.
The awkward dance of Maude and father’s interaction is somewhat telling of their past. The hunter with an affinity for slaughtering animals and devouring them for survival and the woman whom I see as nothing more than a vile four-legged beast. Was she once his animal? Was she once a sultry and inviting seductress who needed taming by the tall man with a gun? I’ve attempted to piece together the building blocks of my existence in this world countless times over, reaching either nausea or sheer befuddlement before I could draw any conclusion each time.
The precious one and the boy carry on with father as children would while opening presents on Christmas morning. While it is a temporary elixir for the more regular doses of poison, it is good for them. Even in my tight eyed state of caution, it’s good for me as well.