‘It says here that the world’s first ninety inch television has just gone on general sale, Geoffrey. Have we ordered one of those yet?’...

The Beauregard Wishlist

   ‘It says here that the world’s first ninety inch television has just gone on general sale, Geoffrey. Have we ordered one of those yet?’

   Geoffrey sighed inaudibly, twiddling his fingers behind his back as he eyed the bald spot on his employer’s head. In all the years he had been serving Humphrey Beauregard, he had never known his master’s memory to be as bad as it had been since that little dog Scuffer had died following a mouse into the open fire.

   ‘Yes, sir; it was delivered last Tuesday, and now takes pride of place in its box in the Technology Room.’

   ‘Excellent, Geoffrey. Most excellent. Did we pay a good price?’

   Geoffrey juggled the consequences of lying and being honest in his head for a few seconds before realising that whatever he said, he would receive the same response. The old man didn’t care how he obtained any of the things he owned, or how much he paid for them; he just cared that he owned them. Without that, his life was worthless.

   ‘No, sir; we paid much more than we should have, because supply was limited and you wanted to receive it before the royal baby was born. You said you wanted to watch it live, sir,’ the butler replied, honestly.

   ‘Excellent, Geoffrey. Most excellent.’

   The aging billionaire was riffling through a catalogue of shiny new things that any fool with too much money and not enough sense would desire within seconds of seeing; only, it was a mystery to the patient butler how the old man was seeing these things at all – the eye that hadn’t been irreparably damaged in that hunting accident two decades ago was so myopic that it was basically a decorative marble. The butler had to do everything for his master these days, from clipping his curling yellow toenails to changing his outfit every morning and evening. But that was all part of serving the Beauregards.

   ‘Oh, look, Geoffrey! A new Jaguar!’ A chubby, wrinkly finger poked the page of the magazine resting in the old man’s lap, and the butler didn’t even look down before he replied.

   ‘It looks just splendid, sir.’

   ‘I must have it. Do we have space in the garage?’

   ‘We do not, sir. We bought a Fiat 500 in every colour and pattern, because you saw the advert for them on the television and thought that it would be nice if the two of us could drive around with such flair.’

   ‘Have we done so yet, Geoffrey?’

   ‘Not yet, sir.’

   ‘I see. Well, if you could, please arrange for another garage to be built, and order one of these Jags. There’s a good chap.’

   The butler sighed again. He knew that to order the Jaguar and to build the garage would not be in his master’s best interests, but he knew also that it wouldn’t hurt an old man to get exactly what he wanted, whenever he wanted it, in the final years of his life. If Humphrey Beauregard had the means and the will to waste money on extravagances time after time, who had the right to deny him that privilege? With that in mind, the butler turned on his heel and made to leave the drawing room and make preparations. As he reached the huge double doors of the room, he was halted by his master’s call.

   ‘Oh, and Geoffrey?’

   ‘Yes, sir?’

   ‘What of love?’

   ‘Love, sir?’

   ‘Yes, love. Can one buy that, yet?’

   ‘No, sir. Not much has changed since we last enquired. Love still cannot be bought.’

   ‘I see,’ replied the old man, his disappointed voice barely audible above the cracking and popping of the fire.

   ‘Would we like to order a prostitute until the situation changes, sir?’ Asked the butler, knowing the answer he would receive, since the two men had had the same conversation every other night since the passing of Mrs Beauregard in the early 80s.

   ‘Excellent idea, Geoffrey. Most excellent.’

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