Dark Lady Poetry - Broadie Thornton




 Broadie Thornton




“That’ll be three thousand dollars and sixty-four cents, Mr. Rowan,” said the Asian clerk with the empty smile. “Cash or check?”

“Visa,” said Mr. Rowan.

The clerk smiled and slid black plastic, the right way, at the right speed.

Mr. Rowan made a soft clap. The tall, pale manservant stood to the right of the door of Bloomingdale’s, wearing a simple two-piece suit with no visible buttons. Without preamble, he strode to his master’s side and began to pull the latest wardrobe injection into his long, monkey-like embrace.


Moments later, Mr. Rowan’s most impressive wad of closet stuffing yet, was bundled into the trunk of a silver stretch limo on the curb in front, and hauled away beneath the characteristically schizophrenic traffic lights of Manhattan.

“I am how I dress, Jeeves,” said Mr. Rowan. With that, he pulled on a black teddy bordered with kinky lace, and smiled into the large vanity mirror in his bedroom wall. He shifted from foot to foot, searching for the perfect angle. The image in the mirror aped his movement. "Today,” Mr. Rowan giggled, “I’m decked out as a high-priced delight.” Tossing his head, along with the brand new, jet black, thousand dollar wig on top of it, he grinned into the mirror. “I wonder what the filthy johns on 125th are paying for this sort of class, this time of year.”

The manservant remained as impassive as ever. He had learned ten years previous, that it didn’t do much good to question the Master’s sense of style. “Very good, Sir. Are we taking the Seville tonight, or is Sir more in the mood for a less smooth journey? The Ferrari Formula One, perhaps?”

Mr. Rowan laughed and laid his palms atop the teddy’s breast pockets. “I think I would rather have a new friend in the drawing room instead of in a cheap, roach infested hovel tonight, Jeeves.”

Jeeves. The manservant’s actual name was Warton, but he had learned ten years previous that it was better to simply allow the Master to call him whatever caught his fancy on any particular day. Or moment. Things went smoother that way.

“Very well, Sir. I will prepare the drawing room bath.”

“The john first, Jeeves. I’ll prepare the bath. Besides, you always forget to add the Clorox, and I’ve got to say, that just takes all the fun out of riling the vermin up.”

“Very well, Sir.”

A week later, Mr. Rowan became a pirate. A bright city night passed, and when morning came, two fancy lofts had been slashed to ribbons by a broadsword and befouled by great gobs of human feces, that covered the walls like new coats of paint.

Two nights after that, he transformed himself into a football player. An ancient high society woman in fox furs paid for his fun, when her left knee exploded like a pinecone in the heart of a blazing campfire...under the football player’s sudden assault.

Six nights after that, he morphed into a biologist. A stray mongrel lost its right hind leg to the perversions of dark scientific discovery.

A day later, Jeeves, since he had no choice but to play along with the Master’s transformations, (it was there in the job description, in great BOLD print) ran through the large mansion in abject terror, an old rifle in his right hand, a kerosene powered lantern in his left. The serial killer that the Master had become seemed lost in a tide of confusion and madness, though this illusion was tinged with an insanely bright species of lucid joy.

“Come to me, Jeeves!” he screamed, his words echoing up and down the halls of the vast old mansion. “Give me your neck to cut, and I’ll give you a raise! Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeves!”

The manservant barely managed to escape this particular game with his life. He did so by bringing a rare Japanese vase down on the Master’s head from the within the shadows of the darkened building. “All lights off, Jeeves,” the Master had whispered as he stared upon his collection of African weapons before the start of the game. “This can’t be fun without darkness.” The Master didn’t fully recover from the blow to his skull for three days.

A month after that, he made himself into a poor drunk vagrant. Bottles covered the floor of the food court within the local Mini Mall the next morning.

It went on like this for fifteen more years. Until, one overcast day, in the festering bowels of east Brooklyn, Mr. Rowan died in a battered suit of medieval armor. Brought down by a hail of very modern armor-piercing bullets, his final words were, “For Her Black Majesty, you bastards!”

Jeeves, saddened beyond his own belief, buried the Master in a navy-blue uniform.

The Master’s nephew, William Phelps III, being next in the family line, inherited the family fortune.

Jeeves gave himself a week off: to purge the former Master from his heart and soul.

William first came to him in a shiny black wetsuit and thick goggles. Jeeves had managed to bury himself up to the crown of his head in Wall Street black and white, a cup of black coffee on the table in front of him, and a half eaten doughnut on a saucer beside the cup of coffee. A small voice bled through Wall Street words and found its way to his ear.

“Jeeves, I feel like Jacques Cousteau.”

Ten years old. The boy, the Master, idolized the old depth explorer.

“The yacht will take us to the Marianas Trench, won’t it, Jeeves? It will, won’t it?” said the boy, the Master, his brown eyes ablaze beneath the goggles that sat upon his smooth, dark forehead.

“Yes, Sir. It will," said Jeeves.



Broadie Thornton is a novelist and a poet, residing in Winston Salem, North Carolina.