It appeared that my 29th year was to begin much in the same way as the proceeding 28, which is to say, not well. Jack had filled my birthday morning with preparations for the arrival of EJT that evening. While sharpening the knives I noticed that Jack had prepared a list for the day’s tasks which consisted of the following:
1. Loosen the floorboards in the Study.
2. Place my Musket under the desk.
3. Starve the dogs.
4. Loosen stone block above entrance.
5. Fox traps in corners!!!
6. Bake Sean a cake.
The cake, alas, was not forthcoming. Instead, we labored with murderous intent, transforming Jack’s comfortable domicile into a Chamber of Horrors. No particular was left unnoticed and I expect Buchephalus himself was expected to wield a knife at the appointed hour.
At the stroke of eight there was a knock on the door and EJT was allowed entrance to the house. We stood thirty feet away, but upon noticing that he brandished no weapon, endeavored to steer him clear of the traps and into the study. What followed was a conversation so awkward, that it made the terror of the previous fortnight all the more ridiculous.
EJT – Godless Sinner Shepherd, may I bother you for a spot of tea?
Jack – Certainly.
EJT – I must say that for a pair of filthy Papist Scum, you keep a remarkably nice house.
Jack- Well, business has been good to us lately.
EJT – The business of killing my brother and making a mockery of his funeral?
Sean – Actually, we took a loss on that
The conversation was to continue in this vein for quite a bit of time. Tea turned to wine and we soon found ourselves slumped around Jack’s desk, swapping Patrick stories. Just as Jack had reached the climax of the especially delightful anecdote about Patrick and a donkey, EJT drew his pistols and leveled them at our heads. Jack dropped to his knees to beg forgiveness and it looked like I was once again in the position of having to save his miserable life.
EJT – Gentleman, your time is up.
And my 29th year would have begun not at the Crimson Unicorn but ended in a bloody heap on the study floor but for a large crash at the front door followed by some of the most Unchristian epithets I have heard spoken. The noise and screams proceeded to get louder and louder until finally the study door was thrown open by Patrick himself, the worse for wear after contriving to set off every trap we had set.
Patrick took two steps into the room, fixed us all with a steady gaze, and then shouted “Happy Birthday Sean” and promptly passed out.