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Short story: ‘Two English Gentlemen’

Geoffrey was lying on the floor of his own apartment. Few months earlier he had left Great Britain to find himself a new life somewhere as far away from his original home as possible. He had travelled for a while in Europe, mostly searching for himself and his place in the world, when he met a man named Clive. Clive told Geoffrey that he was heading towards India to work at a tea plantation, in an administrative position.It was owned by Clive’s relatives. When Geoffrey told Clive his own plans, that he did not know what to do with his life, Clive offered him a job at the plantation as well. Geoffrey was hesitant at first but as he did not have anything better to do he agreed to follow Clive for a while. A very close friendship never had the chance to develop between the two because Clive, now the administrative head of the plantation, was quickly overcome by the kind of duties his position required of him. Clive’s days were mainly filled by sitting in his office, writing and answering letters that had something to do with the business. Now lying on the floor, Geoffrey was writing Clive his own letter.

Geoffrey did not have the words to describe his feelings well enough.Because of this there were dozens of crumpled sheets of paper lying on the floor all round him. In fact, Geoffrey had given up on the letter already and was now high as a kite on opium. The drug was not hard to come by in India for a British gentleman in a relatively well paying job, and for Geoffrey opium had become a means to escape reality.

“Whatever,” thought Geoffrey to himself out loud. He wrote a single sentence to a new sheet of paper, signed it, and put the letter into an envelope. He wrote Clive’s name on top of the envelope and delivered it to the office mailbox that was not far away from his apartment.

Next morning Geoffrey woke up.

“What have I done?!” Geoffrey shouted, after fully realizing what happened last evening. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and rushed to the office. His heart was pumping like mad when he finally got to the door of Clive’s office door.

“Hey Clive, may I come in?” Geoffrey asked.

“Oh, good morning Geoff, please come in,” Clive replied. “Had a rough Saturday night? You look terrible.”

“Just a bit of a hangover, thanks for asking”.

“I hope you won’t show up like that to work next Monday”

“What,” Geoffrey said frightened, “of course not!”

“I was just kidding – well – half kidding at least,” said Clive. “How may I help you?”

Geoffrey had run to the office so fast after waking up that he had not even come up with a proper explanation for behavior, and he was taken off guard by Clive’s question.

“Uh, I want to buy a letter from you?” Geoffrey told Clive, as he could not think of anything better.

“Buy a letter from me?” Clive asked in confusion. “Why on earth would you want to buy a letter from me?”

Utterly helpless, not really knowing what to say, Geoffrey spurted out yet again the first thing that came to his mind.

“You get so many letters every day, yet I have not received a single one in ages. I would just like to read a letter, that’s all.”

Geoffrey saw it from Clive’s face that it must have been the stupidest idea Clive had ever heard of. Geoffrey knew that if he would not say anything else, everything would end in a catastrophe.

“I’ll give you five dollars for a single letter!”

“Five dollars?” asked Clive. “That’s quite the amount of money to read a letter that is not even for written for you.”

“I’m sorry,” Geoffrey replied. “It’s just that I want to feel like someone would have written me something, I’m not expecting you to understand but I just really need this.”

“I don’t know what’s gotten into you, Geoff, but I’ll humor you this once,” said Clive. Then he took a cardboard box from under his desk and poured dozens of letters to his table. “Take your pick, but promise me that these kinds of oddities will not continue. I know that you like spending your weekends with opium and quite frankly I’m concerned about you.”

Geoffrey looked at the pile of letters in front of him. He was about to grab the one letter that he saw very clearly, but decided to instead make it look like he couldn’t decide which letter to pick. He tried few letters, weighing them and rolling them around carefully, but finally he ended up picking the one letter he so much hoped to get back.

“I’ll take this one. It seems the least important for the business.” Geoffrey took out his wallet and put the letter on its place. He pulled out five dollars and placed it on the table.

Later that evening the office workers gathered together for a dinner. It was a habit that had developed even before Geoffrey and Clive had arrived to the tea plantation. The evening went on merrily, but at some point Clive came to Geoffrey.

“So, what was in the letter?” Clive asked.

In his joy of getting the letter back from Clive, Geoffrey had not even thought that Clive might still be interested in the contents of the letter.

“None of your business,” Geoffrey replied to Clive. He saw Clive’s face turn red.

“The letter was pointed to me,” Clive said. I’m the head of this office and I need to know what was in the letter as it might have something important to do with the company.”

“The letter is mine. I bought it from you – fair and square”.

“At least tell me who the letter was from then, so I can at least contact this person on my own.”

Not knowing what to say Geoffrey only shook his head, stood up, and walked away.

A week had passed by when Clive came to Geoffrey’s apartment. Earlier in the week Geoffrey had gotten into an argument about the letter with Clive, but Geoffrey never told the truth. He tried to insist that there was nothing so important in the letter that it would make any difference.

Clive was still Geoffrey’s boss, and he had no choice but to let Clive in to his apartment.

“I have come here about the letter, as you might have guessed,” Clive said with a very serious tone. “I know that you don’t want to give me the letter, and I even believe you that there is nothing of importance in the letter, but lately this whole thing has started bugging me to the point where I am willing to buy it back from you for ten dollars.”

“Not on your life,” Geoffrey said and rushed out of his apartment before Clive could react.

The next Monday Geoffrey did not show up to work. Clive called to his apartment several times but there was no answer. Geoffrey’s apartment being right around the corner, and so Clive walked there to meet up with Geoffrey personally. To Clive’s surprise, the apartment door was left open. He stepped in and realized that the apartment was empty. There was no sign of Geoffrey, except a letter that had been left to the living room table. Clive picked up the letter and looked at it. A sudden realization came to him, now understanding why Geoffrey had been acting so weird in the past few days. There was only one sentence and a signature written on the letter:


Clive, I love you.


– Geoff

Published inCreative Writing

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