Synopsis: It wasn’t on the list of job requirements.
Category: The Wild Wild West
Word Count: 1,150
He sat across from Colonel Richmond. Crossing his legs, he leaned back in his chair. The clock ticking was the only sound in the room as Richmond read his letter. Alfred Tennyson, butler to agents James West and Artemus Gordon, coughed, looked at his pocket watch and put back in his vest.
“You’re sure about this, Tennyson?” Richmond leaned over the desk. His desk was covered in papers and he didn’t like what he read. Leave it to Gordon and West. The only bright spot was the sun shining in his office.
“Yes sir. I’m sure. This is not what I signed up for, sir. I am a butler and major domo. I have worked in the best houses of Europe. I thought it would be a change of pace.” Alfred Tennyson complained, “You said nothing about the shenanigans I would get into. I might as well be a nanny to two naughty boys.”
“But Tennyson, you said you wanted excitement, a chance to explore the west. It’s been less than six months and you’re leaving all ready. I find this unacceptable; you’re leaving Gordon and West in a lurch, not to mention their cover.” He hit the desk. “Isn’t that what you got? You got to capture a known outlaw, see vast wide open spaces and see this great expanding country of ours. Tennyson, you don’t know what you’ll be missing.”
“I’m sorry, sir. But I was never truly informed of what this position entailed or the dangers I would face. Especially the two agents you assigned me to.”
“Be that as it may, Gordon and West are on their way in right now,” Richmond smiled.
“There coming here. Now?!” Tennyson’s voice broke.
There was a knock at the door and Tennyson jumped.
“C’mon in,” the colonel called.
The door opened bringing in James West and Artemus Gordon.
“Ah, good you’re here. Please take a seat.” Richmond pointed to two other chairs in the office.
Both men took their hats off and sat in their chairs. “Thank you, sir,” both men mumbled sheepishly as they sat down. “Tennyson,” both men nodded. They looked at each other, Tennyson and then Richmond. Both men looked at their hats in their hands.
“Gentlemen,” Tennyson acknowledged their greeting.
“I’m so glad you’re here men. Tennyson is resigning,” Richmond snorted.
“Resigning, sir?” Gordon whispered, “But why?” Artemus looked at Jim.
“I thought he was necessary for our cover. Besides, it was bringing back memories.” West smiled. “I realized why I like the train so much. Fine food and soft beds.”
“Well, that’s why you’re here. I need to find out if there were any personal issues. Could there be another reason why Mr. Tennyson would be leaving us perhaps on such short notice?” He queried looking pointedly at West and Gordon.
“But Al, I thought we were good friends,” Jim patted Al’s shoulder.
“Why in heaven’s name are you so nervous?” Artie smiled.
“Well, to be perfectly frank, sir, I’ve had enough of Indians, outlaws and loose women. I realized I like a nice quiet butler’s life. Arranging my gentlemen’s gentlemen schedule and such.” Tennyson stood up.
“Please sit down, Tennyson. We’re not through yet.” Richmond ordered him.
Tennyson sat down, dejected.
“There has to be another reason, Alfred. We discussed this when you answered the ad and passed the screening.” Richmond inquired.
“Do I really have to answer that, with them here?” Tennyson pointed at West and Gordon.
“West and Gordon? Please tell me what they’ve done?” Richmond leaned closer to Tennyson.
Tennyson leaned closer and whispered in Richmond’s ear. “They play practical jokes on me, sir. Horrible, awful jokes, sir. I no longer wish to have anything to do with them. They’re ruffians and uncouth men.”
The Colonel leaned back, looked at Tennyson and then at West and Gordon. “Not again,” he said under his breath. “All right, Alfred, you can go now. Right now you’re on leave until I make a decision.”
Tennyson stood up and left. Both Gordon and West also got up to leave.
“Not you two. Sit back down,” Richmond ordered.
Both Jim and Artie sat down and watched Alfred leave. Once the door was shut, Richmond glared at them.
“We can explain, sir,” Gordon held up his hands. “Really, sir. Sometimes we had to break the monotony, you know.”
“Really, it was only done in fun,” Jim smiled. “I mean, I thought Al was a seasoned agent and all, Colonel. You did tell us that.”
“Yes, yes, yes. I’ve heard this all before. You take some innocent soul and abuse them,” Richmond yelled. “This isn’t the first time you’ve done this. The both of you never learn. I thought you had out-grown this since the war.”
“But sir, he was so easy and gullible to boot.” Gordon laughed. “But you assured us he knew his job.”
“Oh yes, Tennyson is a professional working as a butler, but he was still a greenhorn as an agent and then you turn around and play jokes. What am I going to do with you?” Richmond shook his head.
“Yes, what are we going to eat?” West complained. “He’s a marvelous cook.”
“And what am I chopped liver? I match my cooking skills to the major domo any day,” Artemus bragged.
“Well, if that’s the case, you’re the new cook and bottle-washer, Gordon. And no more butlers.” Richmond ordered.
“But sir, who will wash our shirts and cook our meals? You really don’t expect me to eat Artie’s cooking all the time,” James complained.
“This is what you both get for antagonizing a good agent. Dismissed.” Richmond stood up.
Both West and Gordon stood up.
“But sir…” both said.
“I said dismissed,” Richmond said more loudly.
Both men looked at each other and frowned. They got up and slowly made their way out of Richmond’s office, closing the door behind them.
Richmond walked to his office door and opened it slowly.
“Now look what you’ve done, Jim. We’ve lost a perfectly good butler. You and your practical jokes. Putting that snake in Tennyson’s bed — really. Tsk. Tsk.”
“It was a little garter snake, Artie. And Tennyson acted like it was a rattler. Oh, and letting him put salt in his coffee instead of sugar. Short-sheeting his bed. It’s not all my fault, Artie,” Jim countered back. “You can’t pin this all on me.”
“No, of course not. I sure hope you don’t expect me to cook every night. That’s what the butler was for. You really…”
Richmond closed the door, went back to his desk, sat down, then put his head in hands and shook his head.