Monday, January 20, 2014

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 44

Chapter 44
The Cupboard

"That odor,"  Robert shook his head.  "I understand why Lennie left."

"I can't quite figure what it is."  Punch frowned as he continued to poke around Jackson's pantry.  

"Partly antiseptic, and partly...decay.  There are the usual undertones of polish and such which one expects in a butler's lair, but..." Robert sniffed, "It is particularly strong over here.  Can you hand me the keys, dear Punch?"

"I can."  Punch nodded, walking over.  "Those're  the only cupboards we've not opened."

"Thus far,"  Robert sniffed again, "aside from an absurd amount of drawings and miniatures of your mother, we've found nothing too terribly out of the ordinary."

"I rather expected there'd be a good many pictures of Mother what with Jackson as devoted to her as he is."  Punch sighed.  "The whole bleedin' lot's obsessed with her.  Here, what of that white cloak.  What do 'spect that's for?  That were sort of peculiar."

"Yes, yes it was."  Robert nodded as he rummaged through the large ring of keys looking for one to fit the cupboard.  "Who knows with Jackson?  Do you ever recall seeing him wear it?"

"No."  Punch shook his head.  "Filtering through Julian's memories, I don't 'ave any image o' Jackson in a white cloak.  Could be somethin' he acquired after I...we...left.  Or, it could be somethin' he only wore downstairs outta sight.  Maybe...oh...I dunno, Mother had so many rules 'bout who could handle what and in what manner.  Perhaps when he polished the crystals from the chandeliers, he had to wear that, or..."

Robert shrugged.  "Who knows?"  He squinted.  "Oh, that smell."  He looked at his companion, "Dear Punch, none of these keys seem to fit this cupboard."

"All them little ones fit these over here.  Even his desk."  Punch answered.

"I've tried them all."  Robert said.  "Not a one fits."  He rattled the doors.  "Uck...the odor is strong here.  It's coming from within.  What do you suppose is in there?"

"Well, all the silver and such is all on this side."  Punch said.  "The crystal's over here."

"None of those items would smell like this."  Robert said.

"Maybe he's storin' some kind of fur in there."

"Why?"  Robert blinked.  "That's not normally..."

"No, I know."  Punch shook his head.  

"Should I find Gregory and see if there are more keys that maybe..."

"No, Chum."  Punch replied.  "Jackson meant to keep that key off the extra set.  You know as well as I, you do."

Robert nodded.  "I dread to think what's in there."

"I got a sick feelin' inside me, Chum.  Dunno why."  Punch put his hand on his stomach.  "How bad could it be?  All else that's in here is regular, normal butler stuff."

"Right."  Robert answered.  "Then..."

Punch wiped his nose.  

They looked at each other.

Finally, Punch went to Jackson's desk and found a paper knife.

"Allow me."  Robert took the knife from Mr. Punch.  "I've got more experience."

"Forcing open cupboards?"  Punch smiled.

"I meant with knives, but, yes, that, too."  Robert laughed.  "Cecil and I weren't above pinching a biscuit or two when we were adolescents."

"Very well, Chum."  Punch acquiesced.  

Robert slide the paper knife between the cupboard doors and gingerly disabled the lock.

"Well, then."  He said, taking the handles.  "Here we go."

Did you miss Chapters 1-43 of A Recipe for Punch, if so, you can read them here.  Come back tomorrow for Chapter 45.  

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