Denton and Melody’s voices travelled clearly through the door. They had no need to be quiet, because nobody would be around to hear them. They also had no qualms about their talking waking anyone, because they didn’t care.
“… everything is under control.” Melody’s voice was heard first.
“That’s excellent!” Denton responded enthusiastically.
“I know you’re having fun, but we can’t afford to have him around any longer. You know what to do.”
There was a sigh. “Of course, mother.”
The sound of footsteps sent Barrett hiding away from the door, and Denton walked out and down the hallway.
Barrett knew he couldn’t wait any longer. He didn’t like the sound of what he had heard. It might not be as bad as it sounded, but he couldn’t risk it. The question was, what would he do? He actually had some plans. He thought about going into the office and strangling Melody. That would be cathartic, but it would throw off his other plans. Many things could go wrong, and he wasn’t sure if she quite deserved that. Besides, murder would make him into a true criminal, and he didn’t like that thought.
Though he had a number of plans, there was only one that was feasible at the moment. He thought of all kinds of chaos he could cause as he left, but he didn’t have time for that. There was no point in doing something so juvenile as leaving horse dung in Arthur’s bed, for example, no matter how much he deserved that and much more. Barrett would have liked to at least give Denton a good swift kick in the balls as he left, but he thought subtlety was the best approach.
Not that Barrett was just going to leave without any sort of revenge. After all, they had to at least pay the interest on what they owed him. He waited until Melody left her office. Then he snuck inside. In one of the lower drawers was a secret compartment. That was where the key was. Then, behind a bookshelf was a small room, in which was a safe. He’d discovered that by accident one time he had to stay up late working. Upon opening it, Barrett found there was not much. Not that he expected otherwise. After all, any real money was probably in the bank, like any sensible person with wealth. However, there was still a small pile of coins. Instead of just grabbing it all, Barrett actually counted out a certain amount. He just couldn’t be a thief. This was what he was owed. That is, proper wages for a servant, plus the housing and food he shouldn’t have been paying for, and of course all the deductions. Finally, he took an extra few coins as interest.
The safe didn’t only have coins, of course. Some of Melody’s best jewelry was in there, as well as some important papers. Barrett wasted no time in ripping up the papers and even snapped a few necklaces out of spite. However, he didn’t have time to do much more. He wished he had a dead rat to throw in, but he had no time for that. He merely closed the safe, and locked it. Then he went to get a heavy bookend. That was the best thing. He swung, but the angle wasn’t quite right. The second time, he succeeded in snapping off the head of the key with the rest still in the lock. It was petty, but that was all he had time for now.
Barrett had spent enough time around the mansion to know where the guards would be patrolling outside, so he managed to avoid them rather easily. He imagined burning the house down behind him… until it made him almost vomit just from the idea. Instead, he just slipped off into the night.
Barrett found himself knocking on Simon’s door. Where else could he go? He wouldn’t be able to get out of the city at this time of night. He didn’t like the idea of waiting until people were actually looking for him either, but he couldn’t eat coins, either. There was no where else Barrett could go but here.
After a minute or so a voice came from behind the door. “Who is it?”
“It’s me, Barrett. I need a place to stay…”
The door creaked open, “Come in, then.”
Barrett only caught a glimpse of Simon’s face as he entered into the room. It looked tired, but that was to be expected. “Sorry about coming at this time. I need a place to stay… for a few days.”
“Did you do anything wrong?”
“Well… people will be looking for me. I don’t want to cause trouble for you. I can find somewhere else…”
Barrett thought he saw Simon’s head shake, “It doesn’t matter if people are looking for you. Did you do anything wrong?”
“No. I didn’t.”
“Then, it’s fine. You can stay here. We’ll keep you hidden.”
That night, Barrett slept on the hard floor with only a blanket. It was his best night of rest in months.
Barrett looked down at his new clothes. They weren’t great, but they covered him adequately, and were better than what he’d had. Simon had bought them for him, but of course Barrett had paid for them. He just couldn’t go out to get them himself. Though, he would be going out today. The recruitment event had started. Barrett was going to go there to take his chances. If nothing worked… well, it was outside the city, so he could just leave. He had some supplies in a small sack, enough to get him to the next city at least. The only problem was leaving this one.
“It’s better if you take the bandages off your face,” Simon said.
“I…” Barrett didn’t want to reveal his scarred face, that didn’t look like him anymore.
“They’ll be looking for someone wrapped in bandages correct? With different clothes they won’t spend so long on your face.”
“They might still find out it’s me.” Barrett slowly unwrapped the bandages, “See?”
“Hmm.” Simon looked intently at Barrett’s face, “It’s not as bad as I thought. I know some others with scarred faces. It will be a simple favor to have them walk out the gates. That should help numb the guards perceptions, and I can raise a bit of a distraction.”
“Thank you. I don’t know how to pay you back properly.” He reached into his pouch and pulled out some coins, “I can give you this, though. For all the wonderful meals.”
Simon shook his head, “Those were gifts, a gesture of kindness. I can’t take money for it.”
“Then… take it so you can continue to afford to show kindness to others. I- they need people like you.”
Simon nodded, “That, I can do.”