The Strangest Thing: A Pendulous Fall?



Original poster
"I quit!"

The words reverberated off the walls it was not the first time such words had been spoken in the large home, but it would be the last. Not that anyone at the time realized this. As Mister Simmons stomped down the marble staircase, the two gardeners tried to find another section of the vast yard to attend to. 

No one was actually surprised that warm August day that the esteemed butler had finally had enough. If anything some people were honestly surprised he lasted this long. There hadn't been a cook there for nearly a year now, no longer was there a full time gardener, and it seemed like a revolving door with maids any more. 

In short with Mister Simmons quitting there was no longer any full-time household staff!  

"You're going to have to replace him you know," Beatrice Baxter said with little excitement. "Unless you want to try to run the house by yourself," she countinued while looking out the window from her corner office.  She then turned back to the computer. "Would you like me to have my people find you someone cousin?" 

Could her people find someone that could work under the conditions that was on that estate though?
There she was sitting in her chair at her home, the faintest of pouts. She was wearing her day clothes, but she had a quill still hanging on her back and she was scratching her head with an arrow.

Penelope sighed. "I've already called for a replacement. Someone younger this time." Not that this particular butler was as old as the one before him. It's just that they often said they were too tired to help her out, or their back was bad, or that they had heart conditions. This time she specifically found a new hobby where all Mister Simmons had to do was stand there with an apple on his head while she shot. Penelope wasn't sure what the big deal was today. She didn't HIT him! And mending his pants would as easy as pie.

"Just in case, do you know where I can buy laundry bubbles? I'm sure I can wash my own clothes!"
Beatrice suggested the drug store, having not done laundry since her college days and wished her cousin luck with the new butler. She did wonder about the archery equipment, but knowing Penelope it was her latest whim. Beatrice didn't give it any further thought. 

Meanwhile at Household Staff Placement Services the general manager was fretting. While there were several possible candidates, so far as soon as she brought up the clients name the interview was over. It was enough to make her throw her hands up in defeat. 

"Excuse me, I'm here for an interview," a masculine voice said from her doorway. 

Straightening in her chair the manager looked over. "Is this a joke?"


Winter returned with a vengeance it seemed, taking insult to the sunny weather that tried to sneak past it. All around everything was white and shiny. The door chime went off, echoing through the large quiet house. It couldn't be the Chinese delivery guy, he hadn't been called and there was still cold take out in the fridge from the night before.  It wasn't worth trying to drive to a restaurant in this weather unless you had a professional driver to take you. 

When Penelope finally answered the door there stood a man in a long black coat, wearing a hat with an old fashion style travel trunk beside him.   He took off his hat and nodded to her. "My apologize for the delay madam, there was a lot of paperwork," he informed her as he held out a Manila envelope with the hiring office's letterhead. There was a mild cheerfulness upon his Italian looking features. "Robert Frank, at your service!"
Penelope was wearing nothing but a pair of socks and a very large tshirt. Days ago she used up the last of her clean clothes and today she decided it was a good time to finally do the laundry. She was rather proud of herself for loading it all up and adding plenty of soap to get things clean. She had been waiting for the buzzer to ring when the doorbell sounded instead.

Looking curiously at the manilla folder, Penelope was already smiling wide and VERY pleased that the agency finally listened to her requests and sent her someone who looked young enough to have plenty of energy. She turned the pages in the folder, nodded at his credentials All the usual things that were expected of a butler. Good references, time, and training.

"This looks perfect! You arrived just in time to try my newest recipe!"
"Newest recipe?" he sounded pleasantly surprised as he dragged the trunk inside and placed it over to the side. There would be time later to unpack after all. He took off his coat and draped it over his arm and then removed his hat. He ran a hand through his dark hair and looked down at Penelope. "I look forward to it."

As Penelope lead Robert passed the front room and to the back of the main floor where the kitchen was, Robert looked around, nodding to himself from time to time. At one point he cleared his throat politely. "Back there, there was a photo of you. A vacation perhaps?"

There were many things to question about the house of course. Things that looked old, things that looked high tech, things that looked expensive. The picture of course was none of these things. The only thing of worth to it was to those that have been there when it took place. It was Robert's guess that it was worth more than anything else he'd seen from Penelope's point of view.
Penelope grinned, casting a wistfully nostalgic look over her shoulder as they walked down the hall. Once they entered the kitchen, a brightly lit room with a beautiful Italian bistro style, any thoughts that the hostess was a clever cook were severely in question. Pots, pans and dishes were scattered everywhere. Most of them used, many of them looking as if they had been on fire. One or two even looked like they exploded. The evidence was on the ceiling in the form of what had probably been tomato sauce earlier in the week.

For now, there was a huge pot bubbling on the stove. It didn't smell burned, but the scent was... unusual! Penelope stopped by the stove to pull off the lid and give it a stir.

"Uh huh! It was before I lost my parents. We took a boat out to the Caribbean and it was the most beautiful water I have ever seen! You could actually see all the way through it down to the sand below." She paused midst-stir tapping her chin with thought. "I am fairly certain I found a treasure map and planned on going back to dig it up, but never get get the chance."

Deciding that her concoction was ready, she turned off the heat. Digging in the cupboards she managed to find at least one clean dish. Ladling it out, even the appearance of the stuff was suspicious. An odd shade of brown, there was no telling what sort of meat or vegetable the chunks were. Penelope handed him a bowl along with a spoon.

"Here! Tell me what you think and don't be afraid to be honest. I can take it!"
Robert, who had at first though that his new employer just enjoyed being very casual in her own home in regards to attire started to have second thoughts when he saw the state of the kitchen. He now understood why the woman had mentioned when he had gotten the paperwork at the hiring office he was the only permeant staff at the moment. The gardeners were hired only as needed and there had been five maids so far this year and it was unclear if a new one was needed yet again. This place was far too large to not have a sizable number of full time staff members if Robert was to guess.

Looking at the food before him, Robert also thought a cook might be a good first start. There was the possibility that it tasted better then it looked of course and he took the spoon and took a taste of the meal.

Robert had had worse. That being said, he had been half starving at the time and was willing to eat anything if it wasn't going to kill him.

Placing the spoon down, he looked at Penelope. "I think perhaps this is not enough for a meal. Something should go along with it. Would you mind if I whipped up something quickly? I am no chief by any means, but I know one or two things about the kitchen."
Penelope was watching him like a hawk. There was no grimace, no choking, and so far he hadn't passed out. She took the spoon from his bowl and tasted it herself. Her nose twisted with dissatisfaction, but... at least it wasn't as bad as the first few times. This one was at least edible! There was hope yet.

"If you don't mind the disaster of my kitchen, I wouldn't mind at all! Something other than take out would be a nice change. I think I lost my cook the same week I lost my butler." There was a loud rumble elsewhere in the house, making her pause in confusion before the realization dawned on her. "Oh, that must be the laundry. As you can see it's washing day." She posed in her shirt and socks with a sheepish, but unembarrassed look.

"Um, if you would like to get cooking, I'll go take care of that real quick. Then we can discuss what you'd like your job list to be. I always let people choose their favorite tasks, it makes it much more interesting in the house."
"Choosing my own job list? That is different," though not too much in all honesty for him, but for her entire staff? Interesting was the right word.

Once Penelope left to deal with her laundry, no doubt something had gone wrong there too, Robert set to work on making something a bit more enjoyable to eat. He opened the fridge and the cupboards. They were not well stocked, but he had seen far worse. He put everything he thought he might use on the counter after scooting random pans and dishes over into the sink.

Preheating the oven, he got to work on cutting.

The new butler already had his sleeves rolled up, and with an apron on, working and he'd not even gotten the full tour of the house yet, but already had a feeling for how things ran here. Robert whistled to himself as he prepared his fifteen minute meal.
Penelope had a good feeling about this one. ...although she did seem to say that about ALL the new people she hired. But this one especially! Anyone that volunteered to help within the first five minutes was definitely a qualified part of the staffing team.

As she walked down the hall towards the laundry room, that thumping noise got louder and louder. With a surprised yelp, she bounced when she seemed to step in something wet and squishy. Bubbles and water was now oozing out from under the laundry room door. Slipping off her wet socks (that was just too uncomfortable to walk in!) Penelope pushed open the door.

Mounds and mounds of suds were all over the place. Big fluffy mountains of them, growing ever larger thanks to the washing machine that was spitting them out. She nearly laughed about it, but the dryer was thumping around like it was possessed! Hopping off it's studded legs and bumbling all around the room to collide back and forth with the washer and the rinse sink.

"Oh.. stop that!" She huffed at the machine, trudging to the bubbles and nearly slipping in the process. Penelope was pretty sure washing her laundry back in college didn't involved demonic electronics. With it hopping around like it was, she was struggling to try and catch it to flip it off without getting ran over!
The sink was full of hot soapy water, the bubbles gently peaking over the water. Inside was the multitude of dirty pots and pans. The counters were now clean. They even shined, as did the chrome on the stove top.

The small table in the kitchen had two place settings with glasses, silverware and flat ware. No one would have known there had been nothing left clean in the kitchen shortly before. It looked like it should have been served in the dinning room, but that table was big and impersonal, and Robert had an inclination that Penelope was the type that wanted to be more personable with her staff.

As for dinner, Penelope's attempt at a dish had disappeared, but there were two platters already on the table. One was a fragrant couscous side, the other a fruity cooked spinach. Robert was pulling out of the oven a savory chicken when he saw Penelope walking back into the kitchen.

"Ah, Madam, I trust we can now continue with dinner?"
"It smells wonderful! What are we having?" Penelope was soaked from head to toe. Little white suds clinging to her hair and her shirt. Her socks were missing still. If it were strange, she didn't make a note or comment about it at all. She simply waltz in to the kitchen, plopped in to her chair and rubbed her hands together as she eyed everything in delight.

"For fifteen minutes this looks divine!" She leaned forward taking a deep breath. "Hmm... I love the smell of roasted curry. There's just something about Indian food that has pizzazz!"
Robert, eyed his employer up and down, then realized in her current state he should not. A young attractive woman being wet in nothing but an oversized t-shirt could cause the mind to wander in all sorts of directions. Directions Robert did not think well timed. Setting down the chicken he bowed his head. "I'm glad you approve of this humble meal."

Robert was about to sit, but the soap suds clinging to her hair really needed to be addressed. "Um, Madam, you have..." he tried to point but gave up on the useless gestures. Instead he wiped off the largest cluster of bubbles on her head before sitting down himself. He did not pick up his napkin however. "Is there a problem with your washing machine?"

In the distance Robert thought he heard very unwelcoming machine sounds.
Oh dear, there were bubbles all over her. She'd had to get them all in her food, especially when everything looked so delicious. Penelope picked up one of the napkins off the table and was attempting to dry her hair out a bit.

"Oh no, the washing machine is fine. I think I must have spilled a bit too much of the dish soap in there." She tilted her head when another loud THUMP managed to echo it's way down the hall. "...the dryer on the other hand is probably possessed by a devil. The blasted thing was bumbling about too fast for me to reach the plug, and I decided a good meal would do me good before I go back in there to do battle." She talked about it as if it were an every day occurrence. Setting aside her used napkins to reach over the table and begin serving up both plates for them.

"I'm just kidding about it being possessed, by the way! I can't imagine what sort of silly beast would want to live in a dryer."
"I don't think letting it run would be good for the power bill," Robert finally said after listening to what Penelope said, as well as the loud sounds coming from he could only presume was the laundry room. Pushing his chair back he rose. "I won't be but two minutes," he assured her. "After all I wouldn't want to let the food go cold."

With a polite nod of his head, Robert walked out of the kitchen and to the source of the current distress of the house.

One minute and fifty seconds later, the butler returned. His return was announced before him by the slight squeak that his shoes produced as he walked upon the wood floor. He looked exactly the same as before, not wet in the least. An errant soap bubble was sitting atop the back of his head however.

"I hope I did not take too long," sitting he finally unfolded his napkin. "The dryer is now unplugged."
Penelope hadn't even finished setting his now-filled plate down when he returned. Taking a glance at the clock, it was true. Under two minutes! Now this was a man who lived by his word. That made Penelope feel so much better about hiring him.

Grinning, she finished serving up her own plate and lift a fork. "Impeccable timing, you must be quick on your feet too." He didn't have a drop of water on him. Impressive! That gave her a lot of great ideas for things to do this week. ...well, once they worked out his duties and schedule. Penelope took a bite of the chicken first, sighing in relieved bliss. Complex favors in a simple presentation. She hadn't eaten anything this delicious all week. Was definitely a step up from her experimentations in the kitchen.

"Well, Mister Robert Frank. So far I've divined that your skill sets include cooking as well as vanquishing dryers. Is there anything particular you like about being a household butler?"
Robert waited for Penelope to take the first bite of her dinner, and when he saw the expression of pleasure He took a bite himself. It was almost as good as when he had this dish served to him. Robert was pleased with himself.

When Penelope asked him about himself though he looked upend put down his fork for a moment. "Well I suppose," he started after a thoughtful pause, "it's the variety of activities. Certainly there is a bit of routine involved, but that is with almost anything, but there is also a fair bit of improvision that occurs to keep things on an even keel for my employer." Robert, who's expression had been pleasant up to this point seemed to expand that as he gave he a brilliant smile for just a moment. "Besides, I do like helping out good people."

Robert then took another bite of the dinner. Hunger might be the best sauce, but over all this dinner was more then adequate to only slightly whetted apatite.
"That's a very good answer. I like that answer."

There was nothing that could be complained about when it came to dinner. Except for dinner being so delicious that she was far too busy eating it to carry a conversation. Penelope may as well have been starving all week. Once it was polished off, complete with a second helping, she didn't even have room for desert. She would just have to remember sneaking down for a midnight sweet-snack.

Penelope hopped out of her seat once she was finished, taking her dishes with her to the sink. Now that she actually took a moment to look around, the kitchen looked a thousand times better than it had before. The man had only been here for an hour or so! Clearly, he could work miracles.

"How about, I do the dishes and you prepare what I need for bed? If I take another step in that laundry room, it will be a day too soon."
(10:14:13 PM) Ocha: Robert nodded his head, "I do not mind doing the dishes, once I've seen that you have a dressing gown for the night, but if you wish to do the dishes that will give me more time to unpack before I sleep." He didn't smirk when he referred to her night gown or whatever she wore to bed as a dressing gown, it was antique sounding but it was expected.
(10:17:20 PM) Diana: Dressing gown, what a great turn of phrase! Penelope had the idea that she would learning more old fashioned ways of speaking, just because it always sounded so beautiful and interesting. That whole thought process seemed to display across her face plain as day, down to the moment where she realized he was still in the room. Penny grinned, hopping off her seat and stacking the dishes so she could take them over to the sink. "Excellent. I'll just be a moment, then!"
(10:21:12 PM) Ocha: Robert nodded his head, but the action seemed almost like a miniature bow. "Alright then Madam." Robert headed out of the very clean kitchen and in the direction of the master bedroom, though making a detour to retrieve what Penelope would most likely want to wear that night. He did pause in his journey to look once more at her vacation picture on the wall.
(10:24:59 PM) Diana: Taking the dishes to the sink was as easy as pie. So was rinsing them off and loading them in to the dishwasher. It took her a few minutes of eyeballing all the contents under the sink trying to figure out which cleaner was most appropriate for dishes. But finally, she grabbed a bottle dumped a good generous portion in to the dishwasher's receptacle and locked it shut. Penelope dust off her hands in triumph. So much easier than the laundry! Once that was done and through, she headed off to her room with a yawn, assuming her new butler would have figured out which room was the master suite. It had her name painted on the door, after all!
(10:28:23 PM) Ocha: Robert had no trouble at all finding his employers room. He could tell once he walked in that Penelope must have decorated the place herself. He hadn't even known her a day yet, but he had a feeling she was going to be really easy to understand. She was certainly pleasant enough. He sat the garments on a chair beside the bed, removing what had been there before.
(10:33:09 PM) Diana: "Great, you found it!" Penelope bounced in to the room, in the best mood she's been in all day. Having a new staff member was always so much fun. New discoveries made life exciting. "Do you like the painting on my door? It's a mixture of Street Grafitti and Picasso! I always thought Picasso would have made a really great grafitti artist."
(10:35:26 PM) Ocha: "Wall art is a very under appreciated art form, but I suppose Picasso had that problem in his time too." Robert looked at the painting then at Penelope. "Did you do this?"
(10:38:19 PM) Diana: "Yes! It's not my best. Personally I like last month's door much better. But I'm sure I can do something snazzy for next month to make up for it." Penelope picked up her nightgown with a grin, shaking it out just from the habit of it. A few little accidents with baby spiders, and now she always shook her clothes before wearing them.
(10:42:11 PM) Ocha: "You do this monthly?" Robert found himself grinning a bit more then his professional politeness dictated. This WAS going to be a fun place. "I shall make sure I have the right uniform for that day." A butler was a butler, but you didn't want to where your black jacket when paint was flying around. "Is there anything else you will be needing this evening Madam?"
(10:45:19 PM) Diana: "Oh no, thank you so much! I'll see you in the morning, Mister Robert Frank!" Penelope waved her fingers at him. She considered herself a free spirit, but she certainly wasn't so free spirited as to undress and flash her bits at a new employee. Most people did not appreciate nudity!
(11:11:54 PM) Ocha: "I will see you in the morning then Madam." Robert saw himself out, closing the door softly before heading to the servants quarters. They were not difficult to find after all. "Dusty though." Choosing a door he walked into the dark room. "A little light is in order," he muttered to himself as he opened up the chest against the wall by the door, his chest, and pulled out a candle stick. He could have just turned on a light but he didn't need that much elimination this evening.
(11:23:02 PM) Diana: Penelope had little trouble's getting ready for bed and quickly falling asleep. As for the dishwasher, well... it made quite the clatter and banging! She didn't hear a peep, knocked out in dreamland peacefully dreaming until morning!
(11:27:58 PM) Ocha: "Well I think this will be one of those fun jobs," Robert finally said as he looked into the mirror, candlelight reflecting from the glass. "I don't know why the dart ended up landing in this area, maybe it's just to get her the right staff. She seems like a happy enough person." Robert thought for a moment then added. "I suppose we will just have to wait and see, but I will be surprised if I'm not gone by the time the snow starts falling again."
(11:28:08 PM) Ocha: The next day...
(11:30:18 PM) Diana: Penelope was a morning person, she really was. But that only counted -after- waking up and rolling out of bed. It was the waking up part that was always a problem. Curled up as comfy as could be, warm and snuggled with a pillow, Penny had no intentions of getting up ever again. Though, she did vaguely remember there was a new butler. Poor man, she should wake up for that the very least. .....maybe in a few more minutes!
(11:34:05 PM) Ocha: There had never been a sound, and yet when Penelope had finally opened her eyes there was a tray with breakfast on it. It wasn't anything too fancy, unless you found toast with mango jam, a fruit salad atop cottage cheese and what looked like fruit juice blend fancy. Granted it wasn't something Penelope had seen all put together in many years.
(11:49:56 PM) Diana: Penelope sat up, baffled by the surprise breakfast. It had been so long since she seen a breakfast tray! And even longer since she had seen one with something other than hastily scrambled eggs and some oatmeal. Suddenly, waking up didn't seem so bad at all! She popped a piece of fruit in her mouth, leaning over the side of the bed to see if she could find one of her morning books.
(11:54:05 PM) Ocha: A slightly outdated travel magazine, only by a few years, sat near the tropical themed breakfast, it had a cover story about treasure seekers in the Caribbean. It was not an uncommon theme of course, unlike the particular juice blend which was very close to that served at the hotel Penelope stayed at with her parents so many years ago.
(11:59:29 PM) Diana: "Ooh..!" The magazine was in her hand within seconds, pages being flipped through and paused at when something caught her eye. With every sip of juice she could always feel the Caribbean breeze and hear the ocean waves! It was such a wonderful way to start the morning, thinking about clear oceans and sandy beaches.
(12:02:39 AM) Ocha: Robert was sitting in the kitchen eating oatmeal and leaning back in the chair, amazed and amused by the mess in the kitchen this morning. He would never say it to her, but he was going to supervise any helping she did in cleaning for a while. At least until he was sure how to keep these mini disasters from happening. One way of course would be more staff, his probable mission here.
(12:14:50 AM) Diana: Once she was finished with breakfast, Penelope showered and dressed in record time. She was all the more surprised to find that she had a full selection of clean and dried clothes. No stains, no rips, no mess! Penny was sure the dryer ate them all! As she exited down the stairs, she was running over her day's plans. First, obviously, would be planning out her butlers to-do list. From there, she was feeling inspired. Maybe she would build a boat for the lake!
(12:18:14 AM) Ocha: Casually Robert stood up from the table and put on the black jacket he had hanging on the back of his chair. Putting his hands behind his back he was smiling as Penelope walked into the kitchen. "I apologize about breakfast, I should have asked what you preferred last night. I hope it was satisfactory none the less."
(12:23:20 AM) Diana: "I can't imagine a better way to start the morning, really!" He was on his toes! She didn't think she made enough noise to alert him to her arrival, yet here he was. Standing at attention in full uniform. How professional! Penelope clasped her hands behind her back too, putting on her 'business' face and began pacing in front of him. "When it comes to breakfast, I like surprises. But that isn't what's important! The important thing is to arrange your duties so that you are happy and content within your job description. I believe we'll start with answering the door, the phone, and always making sure the light bulbs are change! ....Does that sound all right?"
(12:29:25 AM) Ocha: "That sounds perfectly reasonable to me," Robert said. "And it's alright if I think something needs to be done to try to handle it if I can?" Penelope seemed to be in high spirit. Robert wasn't sure if this was how she always was or if she was particularly estatic after her nostalgic morning surprise. Not that it much mattered either way in the grand scheme of things. He would learn her quirks soon enough and adjust as needed.
Last edited:
"Oh yes. If you see something that needs to be done, you're welcome to do it. I like initiative." Grinning as she leaned back and forth on her toes, she gave him on more look over. As if just by doing that, she could figure out all there was to know about him. She must have decided she knew all she needed to know, for then she was waving her fingers at him and prancing down the hallway.

"I'll let you get acquainted with the house today! Tomorrow we'll discuss what I need for additional staff. Today is painting day, so I won't have a minute." Penelope didn't think to explain what she was painting. The man could ask if he got curious, then she would have him help!