The Caretaker

The Caretaker

Ezra T. Gray

It was, without a doubt, a Grand Old House — or at least it had been at one time. Now it had problems. The house had gone through a lot of changes in the 240 years since it was built, updates like modern plumbing, electricity, phones, cable TV and the like. It was quite modern now, but still had that colonial feel. In its time, it had housed some very important people, people that had played a role in shaping policy for the land. You see, the house was more than just a house, it was, in fact, a national treasure belonging to the Great Land.

Whoever occupied the house also occupied the position of Caretaker. Being Caretaker of the Grand Old House was a great honor. Many privileges went along with the position of Caretaker. However, the position was not one of privilege, but of service, service to one’s country and to his fellow man. That was how it had been intended, but lately, things had changed.

The current Caretaker was a poor one. Over the years many Caretakers had come and gone, some good, some great, some not so good, but the current Caretaker was by far the worst. This one was incompetent, greatly incompetent, and also devious.

You see, the Caretaker’s duties were really quite simple: he was to preserve the Grand Old House at all cost. He could make certain changes, if necessary, but he had to collaborate with the ‘Grand Old House Counsel.’ He could make no major changes without them. That had been the rule from the beginning, there were to be no major changes to the Grand Old House unless the changes were agreed to by the ‘Grand Old House Counsel,’ the duly elected Caretaker, and the people.

The rules were plain and simple, one would think, but the current Caretaker did not see it that way. He had other plans for the Grand Old House. He wanted to see it demolished. That is the reason he endeavored to become Caretaker in the first place. He wanted to tear down the old house and build a new one on the site of the old. It was his sole purpose, his reason for being. Through lies and deception, he had finagled his way into making the people believe he cared for the Grand Old House. He had campaigned on a promise to change some things and some of the people felt there should be a little change.

However, that was never the Caretaker’s plan. He wanted everything gone, long gone and forgotten. From his first day in office as Caretaker, he’d begun to put his diabolical plan in action. The very first thing he did was sneak off to the basement and, with chisel and hammer in hand, he removed a brick from the great foundation.

And that brick had been laid not by his ancestors, but the ancestors of the people of the Great Land. Of course there were people from all over the world who lived in and loved the Great Land, but the Caretaker’s people were from another land — which had presented a problem for him. For, to be a Caretaker, you had to be born in the Great Land, which he was not. But as he did on so many other occasions, the Caretaker simply lied. He had lied his whole life. His entire existence was based on lies.

So now he was where he wanted to be, in charge. He was ‘The Caretaker,’ and he would do as he pleased. He’d won. So now, every day, and sometimes twice a day, unbeknownst to the people, he chipped away and destroyed a piece of the foundation.

But the foundation had been bought and built at great cost by the original builders, and this created a problem for the Caretaker.

You see, it would’ve been much quicker to simply demolish the Grand Old House, but he knew well that the people and the elected constables (who guarded the old house) would not stand for it. A bulldozer would have been his first choice, but he knew he couldn’t get away with that. So he, and several of his friends, had decided to pick away at the foundation a brick at a time.

To his dismay, however, the old place was much tougher than he thought, and the Caretaker’s tenure was nearly up. He spent a lot of time considering his options and he knew what he must do — he must see to it, through hook and crook, that the next Caretaker would continue his diabolical mission. The next Caretaker must be one who had sworn an oath to the devil, as he had, to destroy the Grand Old House.

***

“How many bricks are gone?” the older man asked his son.

“I do not know, sir,” the younger replied. “A lot.”

“Well,” the older asked, “what are you going to do?”

“Do? I don’t know what to do, sir.” He looked at the older man with a careful expression. “We could leave, I guess, before the Grand Old House goes down. I can’t just wait around and watch its ruination.”

“Leave? Give up?” The elder narrowed his eyes. “I did not raise you that way. We have to save the Old House.” There was fervor in the older man’s voice. “Save it! Save it, I say, save it!”

“Slow down, sir,” the younger said, breaking up the cadence the old man was developing. “How can we save it? Look how much of the foundation is gone.”

“Well, you must mount a campaign. You must be the new Caretaker.” He gripped the younger man’s arm. “Son, the Grand Old House needs you. If this Caretaker can get another Caretaker in who believes as he does, the Grand Old House will fall, and it will be gone forever from the face of the earth!”

The thought sent shudders down the spines of both the younger man and the older man. The very idea that the Grand Old House could be destroyed was unfathomable — but it was happening.

“But sir,” the younger said shakily, “who am I to save this Grand Old House?”

“You are,” the elder said, “a child of the Great Land.”

The younger man slowly straightened. “I will do it. I will run, and I will win. We can save the Grand Old House, and we will!”


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