Natalie Broussard walked down the street with her friend Latasha Weems. The two eighteen year old girls were bored; it was a blistering hot day in early June, with nowhere to go and nothing to do.

Natalie was short, barely scraping five feet but was also slightly chubby, weighing one hundred and thirty pounds. She had a sweet, almost angelic face, long strawberry blonde hair, and wide blue eyes.

Latasha also weighed one hundred and thirty pounds, but she stood five feet, nine inches tall. She kept her brown hair cut very short and she stared hatefully at the world through piggish brown eyes.

They saw that the old Charles’ house had sold; Mr. Charles had lost his job. After a few months, the house had been foreclosed on and their friend, Brianna Charles had been evicted.

The new owner or owners had planted some colorful flowers along the walkway, so Latasha walked up and savagely kicked at some of the buds.

Natalie giggled as she kicked some of the gay buds too.

Latasha then grabbed the large bird bath and toppled it over, smashing it on the ground.

“Well, I never!” a man bellowed in an odd sounding accent. “Whatever do you think you are doing? Stop that at once!”

“Aw fuck you, bitch,” Latasha yelled

The girls ran away, giggling at their antics. They truly felt they were within their rights to destroy this unknown person’s property; it had been, after all, their friend’s property first.

They weren’t giggling when, less than an hour later, the police showed up at Latasha’s trailer and arrested them.

They weren’t giggling when, after an uncomfortable night in Kimble Lock-up, they were shoved into a van and transported to St. Elizabeth’s Courthouse.

“Weems, Latasha Weems,” a bailiff called out. “Destruction of private property.”

“How do you plead?” Judge Marie Robichaux asked.

“Uh, what?” Latasha asked.

“Not guilty, your Honor,” a very young looking legal defender said, dropping some files onto the table, most of which slid and landed on the floor.

“Recommendation?” Marie asked Sarah Guillory, the assistant District Attorney.

“Ms. Weems has been here before, Your Honor, minor offenses, but…” Sarah said.

“Bail is set at ten thousand,” Marie said and slammed her gavel.

“Broussard, Natalie Broussard,” the bailiff called out and again the same scenario played out.

Latasha’s mother let her daughter know she would not be wasting her time or hard earned money; her daughter could just rot in jail until Hell freezes over.

Natalie’s mother and father, who had both told Natalie they really didn’t like her running around with Latasha also told their daughter that they were sincerely sorry, but they just did not have twelve percent of ten thousand dollars to give to a bail bondsman.

A week went by; both girls were actually beginning to acclimate to life at the Kimble Lock-up. They were given three meals a day, allowed to read, mostly old paperbacks, and for an hour each day, were brought into the gymnasium for exercise. Latasha and an African-American girl grabbed a basketball and played an energetic one on one game. Natalie decided she’d try jogging the quarter mile track.

“Four times around is a mile,” the female guard told Natalie.

Every other day, they showered; Latasha almost got into a fist fight with Natalie when Natalie joked that showering every other day was more than they’d showered before.

“Bitch, I’m fucking clean!” Latasha screamed as two very burly guards grabbed Latasha and pulled her out of the shower. “Know what I’m saying? I’m fucking clean!”

“Ain’t no telling what’ll set a person off,” the female guard shrugged. “Might be best you just give her some space, keep your mouth shut.”

They moved Latasha out of the cell she and Natalie and two other women had been sharing and rotated a Latin girl in. The Latin girl pretended to speak no English and the two women were sullen, mostly silent women. So Natalie spent a great deal of her time reading.

“…fucking kiss my ass too, God damn fucking bitch,” Natalie could hear Latasha screaming angrily as Two guards led her down the corridor. “That’s all I got to say, kiss my fucking ass…”

“Wonder what that’s all about,” Natalie said but Miranda simply smiled an apologetic smile and shook her head to indicate, she didn’t speak English.

“Broussard, Natalie,” the female guard said, stepping up to the door.

Miranda immediately started speaking rapidly in Spanish, pleading with the guard. The guard answered in Spanish and Miranda’s pleading took a more whining, pleading tone.

“No means no, girl, don’t give me that,” the woman said as Natalie stood and waited.

Natalie was led to a room; the same room she’d sat in when her parents told her they couldn’t afford twelve hundred dollars to bail her out. She felt a stirring of hope; maybe they had managed to borrow the money.

She entered the room, looking for her mother or father, but instead saw an attractive blonde man sitting at the table.

“Well, I do certainly hope you will be more agreeable than your cohort,” the man said in an oddly accented voice.

“Um, yes sir?” Natalie said as she sat in a chair opposite the well-dressed man.

“I am Mr. Worthington,” the man stated.

A long moment of silence passed, Natalie looking at the man, the man regarding Natalie through cool blue eyes.

“Oscar Worthington,” the man said and again waited.

“Okay?” Natalie said.

“So you do not recognize the name?” Mr. Worthington asked.

“No, not really,” Natalie said after racking her brain, trying to pull up the name.

“So, the destruction of my property was just a random act that you and that other little guttersnipe decided to perpetrate…” the man stated.

“Oh, oh, you’re the one got Brianna’s house,” Natalie said.

“Brianna?” Mr. Worthington asked.

“Yeah, Mr. Charles lost his job and me and Brianna, we were tight, we were like sisters and then they got thrown out and I’m sorry; I know it wasn’t your fault they got thrown out,” Natalie started crying, thinking of the emotional parting she and Brianna had shared.

“And so my little garden and bird bath took the brunt of your anger,” Mr. Worthington mused.

Natalie tried to stop crying; tears were a sign of weakness in the jail.

“Yeah, I’m real sorry,” Natalie admitted. “See, we’d just dropped a couple of Perkies Latasha’s mom had and we’re just walking around and…”

The man nodded to the guard and got to his feet.

“Good day, Miss Broussard,” the man said, nodded to the guard again and left the room.

“Take a minute, fix your face,” the guard said gently, also knowing that the sign of tears was a sign of weakness.

“Now, how good of an actor are you?” the guard asked just before unlocking the door.

“Huh?” Natalie asked.

“Start yelling and cursing me out,” the guard said.

“Fucking bitch, get your fucking hands off me,” Natalie screamed as the door opened. “That’s your fucking ass, know what I’m saying? I fucking reduce you! I fucking reduce you!”

Her three cell mates left her alone and Natalie lay in her bunk, still muttering angrily.

Three days after the visit, the guard was again asking for Natalie Broussard.

“Honey, you don’t belong here,” the guard quietly said as they waited for the third door to be opened from the other side. “Hear? You’re too small and too pretty, and you seem to have a good head on your shoulders. Make the right choices, hear? From here on out, make the right choices.”

“Yes ma’am. Thank you,” Natalie said.

“Told him he is absolutely out of his mind; should just leave your ass in there,” Parker Johnson, an attorney snarled as he guided Natalie to a waiting mini-van.

“Where are we go…” Natalie asked as Parker left a strip of rubber as he pulled out of the parking lot.

“You. Do not speak to me,” Parker snarled.

The van pulled up in front of the Charles’ home and Natalie felt new tears beginning to form. She and Brianna had been close friends and now she had no idea how to get in touch with Brianna. Brianna had said they were going to Jackson, Mississippi; her mother’s brother lived there.

“Come on,” Parker snapped as he slid the door open. “Move, let’s go, come on.”

“Are you always such a dick?” Natalie snapped back.

“He can be quite abrupt, can he not?” Mr. Worthington said as he approached.

“Mister…” Natalie said, trying to remember what the man had said his name was.

“Mr. Worthington,” the man smiled and swept his hand toward the door. “Do come in; we’re just in time for our luncheon.”

Parker did not say anything, just slammed the van’s door shut and drove away.

“I uh, why? Um, what am I doing here?” Natalie asked as she entered the small home.

Her eyes again filled with tears as she looked at the living room. She and Brianna had played dolls in this room. They’d watched television in this room. They’d fallen in love with boys and cried about those boys not loving them in this room.

The battered old couch and the sagging recliner were gone, replaced with soft, comfortable looking furniture.

“Did Mr. Johnson not tell you?” Mr. Worthington asked as he urged Natalie toward the small dining room.

“I tried to ask and he told me to shut up,” Natalie said.

“I approached the District Attorney’s office,” Mr. Worthington said as he placed two small salads, two bowls of soup, and some sandwiches, cut into quarters on the table. “Ms. Guillory agreed with me; it seemed impractical to have to house and feed you on taxpayer’s money; how does that benefit me? The aggrieved party in this matter?”

“Where are you from?” Natalie asked, intrigued by his accent.

“Originally? Hadley Court, in Merry Old England,” the man smiled a wide smile as he took his seat. “Now, mind you, I was a child of nine when we came to the States and have not seen my home in forty one years, but it’s quite impossible to completely lose the accent.”

“I would love to go to England,” Natalie admitted.

“And may haps one day you shall,” Mr. Worthington stated. “But back to the matter at hand.”

Over the simple meal, Mr. Worthington explained that Natalie was to be his servant.

“Ms. Guillory stated that the maximum you would receive for destruction of private property would be six to twelve months, plus a one thousand dollar fine, so, for the next twelve months, you are to be in my employ,” Mr. Worthington stated. “You will earn minimum wage for every hour you work; they did away with that whole slavery bit a few years back, didn’t they?”

“What about Latasha?” Natalie asked.

“Oh, that one?” Mr. Worthington sniffed. “Quite an unpleasant one, her. No, no, I should fear for my very life were she to be in my presence. I had not even said ‘how do you do’ or ‘by your leave’ and she was using the most course, vulgar language.”

Mr. Worthington pushed away from the table and Natalie got to her feet as well.

Mr. Worthington looked pointedly at the dishes and Natalie got the message.

“Now, come, this is, of course fine china; it must be washed by hand,” Mr. Worthington said and instructed Natalie on the proper way to wash, dry, and store the dishes.

“Um, Mr. Worthington? You don’t expect me to cook too, do you?” Natalie asked, quite fearful.

“No, no, I am quite happy to perform the culinary duties; it’s something I rather enjoy,” the man smiled his wide smile again.

Natalie did the math in her head; Mr. Worthington said he’d left England at age nine and had not returned in forty one years, so the man was at least fifty years of age. He certainly did not look fifty. His thick blonde hair had no silver streaks, his round pale face showed no wrinkles, not even crow’s feet or laugh lines around his blue eyes. .

He was at least six feet tall and seemed to be in good physical shape. His muscles were not bulging, but his belly was not bulging either.

“Now, do you bathe in the evenings; I prefer mornings, after I’ve done some light yoga,” Mr. Worthington asked.

“I uh, wait, I’m staying here?” Natalie asked.

“Yes, Miss Broussard, until the year of servitude is completed,” Mr. Worthington said. “I do believe I’d already explained this to you.”

The man gave Natalie some light chores to perform, and then declared an hour of free time.

“If the telephone rings, you are to answer it, ‘Mr. Worthington’s residence,'” Mr. Worthington stated. “Please take a message. Of course, they may insist to speak with me but do not, I repeat, do not disturb me. Simply tell them that I am unavailable, no you do not know when I will become available and to please leave name, number and brief message.”

“Yes sir,” Natalie said.

“Again, an hour of free time; then I shall begin to prepare our supper,” Mr. Worthington stated. “I do hope you like fried chicken, mashed potatoes and collard greens.”

“Uh, yes sir,” Natalie agreed, shocked.

“Oh, come on, southern cuisine is the whole reason I moved here after my divorce from the singularly unpleasant Mrs. Worthington,” the man smiled then left the room.

There was no television in the living room but there were several bookcases. Natalie found several issues of Parasols magazine; Mr. Charles had those, as well as Hustler and a few hardcore magazines. She and Brianna had snuck some of the magazines out of the living room and into Briana’s room and giggled, looking at the pictures of naked women and men.

She shrugged and took out the most recent magazine, the June issue and idly flipped through the pages.

There was a cooking column and Natalie enjoyed reading the recipes as well as reading about the cook’s sexual exploits. An advice column also amused her. She then became engrossed in a short story by James Robert Taylor and it wasn’t until she could smell the chicken cooking that she realized more than an hour had passed.

“Mr. Worthington, I apologize,” Natalie said as she entered the kitchen. “Can I help?”

“I don’t know, can you?” Mr. Worthington asked as he briskly mashed the potatoes.

Natalie stood, uncertain.

The proper question is ‘May I help,’ not ‘can I help,'” the man said.

“Oh, Mr. Worthington, may I help?” Natalie asked.

“You may set the table,” Mr. Worthington agreed.

After their meal, Natalie cleared the table, and also cleaned the pots and the skillet Mr. Worthington had used to prepare the meal.

“Um, where’s your television? See, there’s ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and I never miss…” Natalie asked.

“I do not own a television,” Mr. Worthington announced. “Much more worthwhile things to occupy one’s mind.”

“Oh,” Natalie said.

“Um, you um, you said I was staying here; where’s my room?” Natalie asked after determining that the kitchen and dining room were spotless.

Her eyes again filled with tears; she would be staying in Brianna’s room.

“I did gather your things from your parents’,” Mr. Worthington announced. “But there was so little that was serviceable; see, while you are in my employ? You will dress yourself and comport yourself in a manner appropriate to a proper household. And this is, I assure you, a proper household.”

Mr. Worthington slid open a dresser drawer and pulled out a soft pink nightgown, a matching robe, and matching bikini panties.

“I did, however, retain your slippers,” the man smiled, sliding open the closet door.

“Oh!” Natalie smiled, seeing her Winnie the Pooh slippers.

“Good evening, Miss Broussard,” Mr. Worthington said.

“Sir? When I got to get up?” Natalie asked.

“Well, no later than seven, I should think,” the man said.

Natalie did draw a bubble bath and did luxuriate in the steamy pleasure. She shaved her legs and underarms, then dried her hair before pulling on the silky soft nightgown. She did not pull on the panties or the robe.

Again, it was the smell of food that roused her and Natalie pulled on the robe and her slippers and dashed to the kitchen.

“Mr. Worthington, can I… May I help?” Natalie asked, still rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

“I did state that this is a proper household, did I not?” Mr. Worthington fixed Natalie with a disapproving glare.

“Uh, yes sir,” Natalie wilted under the man’s stare.

“In a proper household, one does not leave one’s room until he or she is properly attired,” the man snapped.

“I, uh, yes sir,” Natalie answered, unnerved.

“Come along, let’s get you properly attired,” the man snapped, placing their dishes into the warm oven for safekeeping.

“I uh,” Natalie stammered as the man slid open another drawer and pulled out pantyhose, lacy panties and lacy bra.

“Come, come, I detest a cold breakfast,” Mr. Worthington snapped. As he pulled a dress from the closet, as well as a pair of leather pumps.

His anger overwhelmed any sense of decorum she might have had. Natalie disrobed and Mr. Worthington pursed his lips tightly.

“Young lady, knickers are to be worn when sleeping. It is quite unbecoming…” he ordered.

“But I don’t like…” Natalie protested.

“I did not ask if you liked them, now did I?” Mr. Worthington demanded, waving his hand impatiently. “In my household, you are to wear them. Is this understood?”

“Yes sir,” Natalie agreed, wiggling into her panties.

After breakfast, after Natalie had finished cleaning the dishes and pan, the telephone rang.

“Mr. Worthington’s residence,” Natalie chirped cheerfully.

“This is Jackie; tell Oscar to call his agent,” a woman said in a husky voice.

Natalie turned to tell Mr. Worthington, but the man pointed to the pad and pen that sat next to the telephone.

“You are to write down the time and date and name of the person…” he stated.

“But you’re standing right…” Natalie argued.

“Again,” Mr. Worthington snapped. “You are to write down…”

“Yes sir,” Natalie said.

She looked around to see if there was a clock. Finally, she spotted the clock on the oven and wrote down 8:14 am. He pulled a pair of glasses from his shirt pocket and put them on.

“Very good, Miss Broussard,” Mr. Worthington approved. “You’ve quite lovely penmanship.”

“Thank you; my teachers really liked it,” Natalie agreed.

“Jackie, hello, my servant said you’d rang?” Natalie heard Mr. Worthington speaking.

The rest of the conversation was cut short by a door closing.

Natalie decided to do some light dusting and started in the living room.

“My bed must be made; that is your first responsibility after the breakfast dishes have been cleared,” Mr. Worthington snapped, eyes blazing furiously.

“Yes sir, I do apologize,” Natalie responded.

“Bloody fools, all of them; I simply cannot…” Mr. Worthington snarled entering what had been Matthew and Michael’s room, slamming the door.

“I said I was sorry,” Natalie sniffed back her tears.

She straightened up the bedroom, as well as the adjoining bathroom, and then decided she’d better make her own bed. This was, after all, a proper household.

“Luncheon will be soup and sandwiches,” Mr. Worthington said tersely as Natalie again dusted the living room furniture.

“Yes sir,” Natalie agreed, still cowed by the man’s earlier angry display.

“Miss Broussard, I am not displeased with you,” Mr. Worthington said, placing a comforting hand on Natalie’s shoulder. “It’s my bloody editor; the silly cow is demanding a rewrite of the last three chapters. I am so mad I could simply bust.”

“You’re a writer?” Natalie asked, intrigued.

“I’m a hack,” Mr. Worthington smiled tightly. “I write what one would term dime store romances. The type rarely read through a second time. But Phyllis seems to believe it to be literature. A rewrite! Indeed!”

After their lunch, after Natalie washed, dried and put their dishes away, Mr. Worthington decided that the rear garden needed tending.

“No, no, my dear girl; as fair skinned as you? And you would really go out without proper sunscreen?” Mr. Worthington stopped Natalie.