Liars and Thieves: Chapter 8 (Arthur)

Arthur walked into the elevator and pushed the button for the 60th floor. When Arthur reached the top he walked to a walnut door and was about to knock when from inside he heard shouting. “No! I will not tolerate this anymore. We either sell or you don’t get your money. If we don’t sell all those toys I lose money, you lose money, and you know what else? I swear to God that I will sue you for making me lose money because you want to pull out of the product! You signed the contract, you are going through with this or else!”

Arthur opened the door slowly. He saw Mr. Pendragon and a client standing facing each other across a mahogany desk. They looked at him. “Hey, did I come in at a bad time?” Arthur asked.

“Who is this?” The client asked.

“This is my son, the head of the accounting department.” Mr. Pendragon said puffing himself up with pride.

Arthur held his hand out. “Arthur Pendragon, nice to meet you.”

“Cliff Johnson, pleasure to meet you.” Arthur could tell that he wasn’t pleased, but Arthur smiled anyway. “I must be going, farewell Pendragons.”

The door closed. “Why did he want to back out of the contract?” Arthur asked looking at the door.

“He changed his mind. The toy idea was something he’d made for his daughter and now he’s having second thoughts about selling it out to a big company.” Mr. Pendragon rolled his eyes.

“I see.”  Arthur said still looking at the door.

“Did you need something?” Mr. Pendragon asked.

“Oh, yes. One of the warehousemen came to me and asked me to talk to you. The warehouses are full, we can’t bring in anymore products.”

Mr. Pendragon slammed his fist on his desk. “Damn it. The deals haven’t been made with the distributors.” He looked up at Arthur. “I’m going to need your help today.”

“What? Me? I can’t do a sales call.” Arthur replied.

Mr.Pendragon started up his computer and began to type. “Yes, we are going to do a video conference with the our various distributors.”

Mr. Pendragon called the company’s various different distributors and talked to them. Arthur sat there and smiled, nodded and pointed out various different accountant information as was needed. But Mr. Pendragon never came to a complete deal, instead he told the person that he’d get back to them if he choose them to distribute their products.

Once they had called all the distributors Mr. Pendragon turned to Arthur. “What do you think Sport?” Mr. Pendragon asked.

“What? Which store?” Arthur replied.

Mr.Pendragon nodded. Arthur paused and thought for a moment then he spoke. “The Store called Toys, Toys, Toys. They specialize in selling toys and I think we will get more for our money there.”

“That is an excellent observation, Sport! Alright you can go now.” Then Mr. Pendragon turned back to his computer. Arthur was surprised at the abruptness of the farewell. But he shrugged and went back to his office.

During his lunch break he sat in the break room and slowly ate his food while thinking about what James had told him that morning. Suddenly someone patted him on the back. “Hey Sport. I want to talk to you.” Arthur looked up and saw Mr. Pendragon.

“Sure. What’s up?” Arthur asked taking another bite of his sandwich.

Mr. Pendragon sat on the table and looked down at his son. “Listen, you are a smart young man. You have so much potential and  you can become great if you really push at it.” Mr. Pendragon smiled.  “I am going to let you run this company.”

Arthur choked on his sandwich. “What?” Arthur cried.

“I’m going to retire and let you run the family buisness.” Mr. Pendragon smiled.

“When?” Arthur exclaimed.

“Well the process will take about two weeks.”

“Damn it.” Thought Arthur. “First the Homeless Shelter, now this?”

“You’ll do fine son.” Mr. Pendragon patted Arthur on the back and walked away chuckling. But Arthur barely felt it in his shock.

“What side should I choose?” He thought. The question began to drive him nuts.

That night, after work, Arthur went to the local bar. He at the bar drinking his beer, all the while the question spun around in his head. He tried to convince himself to one side or the other. But each side had something that was good about it. Soon his vision got blurry and noises began to echo.

 Then Arthur heard a faint voice. “Hey Blondie.” The voice said. Arthur didn’t turn to answer it, he just stared blindly ahead.

Next thing he knew he was being shaken by Robin who was calling out his name. “Blondie! Blondie! Hey are you alright?”

Arthur looked around and found himself on the floor. “What happened?” He croaked.

Robin sighed and picked up Arthur and propped him on his seat. “Two jucies please.” Robin said to the bartender who had been looking down at Arthur in concern.

“What’s the matter? You don’t seem like the kind of man who is an alcoholic.” Robin asked looking concerned.

Arthur looked over and saw that there were five empty beer bottles. “Wow.” Arthur said.

Arthur looked back at Robin. “What’s the matter?” Robin asked kindly.

Arthur sighed. “Well, my boss, James, at the Homeless Shelter gave me an ultimatum. He said I either have to reveal the truth to my parents about working there and continue working there, or I can get fired and continue to lie to them.” Arthur slumped forward. “The question has been driving me nuts. And to make matters worse my father is promoting me to his job and he is going to retire. I just don’t know what to do.”

Arthur felt Robin’s hand on his shoulder. Robin held it there for the longest time. Arthur sat up and sighed. “I should be getting home.” He said. He stood and instantly felt dizzy and almost toppled over.

Robin caught him. “Let me take you home.” Robin said.

Arthur nodded vaguely and let Robin half carry, half drag him to his car. Arthur sat in the passenger seat and closed his eyes. Next thing he knew he was being shaken by Robin again. “Hey, Blondie wake up, we’re at your house.” Robin said quietly.

“Wha-? Oh, yeah.” Arthur slowly got up and almost fell over, but Robin dashed over and caught him.

“Come on, let’s get you inside.” Robin said holding Arthur up.

Arthur and Robin walked to Arthur’s front door. Arthur fumbled out his house keys and unlocked the door.

Robin walked him and  laid him on the couch. Arthur sighed and looked up at the ceiling, then closed his eyes.

When Arthur awoke, he smelled pancakes. “Oh, pancakes.” Arthur thought. He opened his eyes. “But that can only mean!” He sat up quickly, then instantly regretted it. Feeling nauseous he slowly stood up and made his way to the kitchen where he saw Robin flipping pancakes. “Good morning Blondie.” Robin said without looking behind him.

Arthur squinted. “What are you doing here?” Arthur asked making his way to the kitchen table and sitting down.

“Well, I got you home from the bar and I thought I’d stay the night to make sure that you didn’t do anything stupid in your sleep.” Robin replied. Robin pulled a cup down from the cupboard, and opened the fridge poured some orange juice and gave it to Arthur.

“Thank you.” Arthur said gratefully accepting the glass and slowly sipping the juice.

Arthur sighed and closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them Robin had brought over the pancakes and was serving them on to two plates. “You like syrup on your pancakes?” Robin asked.

Arthur looked at him. “Of course.” He smiled.

Robin opened the syrup and squirted it on a nice medium size pile of pancakes. He placed it in front of Arthur. “Hold on.” He said, then he rushed to the fridge and brought back whipped cream. “Whipped cream?” He asked. Arthur smiled and Robin poured it on top of Arthur’s pancakes.

Arthur picked up his fork. “This is going to taste fantastic!” He said.Then he and Robin dug in, enjoying every bite.

Arthur looked across the table at Robin. “You said that you don’t steal for self-gain. Why do you steal?” Arthur asked.

Robin swallowed his mouthful of pancakes, then put down his fork. “Alright,” Robin said. “I’ll tell you. It’s true I don’t steal for myself. I steal to feed, clothe, and provide for the people in Sherwood. They are all on government assistance programs, but they don’t get enough to feed, or clothe themselves and their children.”

Arthur frowned. “Why don’t they get enough?”

Robin continued. “You see, the money that the government uses comes from our taxes. Now the problem is that most rich people who have to pay a bit more in taxes find loopholes in the system and keep their money, so where does the burden go? The middle-class people, but they can’t give a lot. So there are little taxes coming in, which means that the poor people who need help can’t get the help they need. I bring justice to the poor. The rich are supposed to take care of the poor, but they don’t. So I go and take ten percent what I find, sell it and bring the money to the poor so they can provide for their families.”

Arthur was stunned, never in his life had he ever met such a sincere and honest man, who firmly believed that what he was doing was good and right. “I-Wow.” Arthur said. “I am speechless. That is-” Arthur shook his head. “That is amazing.” Then Arthur spoke again. “But don’t you feel guilty taking from others?”

Robin shook his head. “I’m not taking anything that belongs to them. I’m taking what should have gone to the poor in the first place.” Robin said this with great passion in his voice.

“But what about the people who are rich and do take care of the poor?” Arthur asked.

Robin looked at him. “I’ve never met such a person.” Then he continued to eat his food.

Suddenly someone knocked on the door. “I’ll get it.” Arthur said standing. “You stay out of sight.”  Robin nodded and put another forkful of pancakes in his mouth. Arthur walked to the door and opened it. Gwen was there. “Gwen.” Arthur said smiling.

Gwen smiled back. “Hi Arthur, may I come in? I wanted to talk to you about something.”

“I-uh. Can you come back later?” Arthur asked.

“Why?” Gwen asked trying to peer inside. “Is someone here?”

Arthur shook his head covering up as much of the door as possible. “No, no one is here, why do you ask?”

“I saw someone!” Gwen looked up at Arthur with pain in her eyes. “Are you cheating on me?” She exclaimed.

“What? No! Gwen, I would never do that to you!” Arthur cried. Gwen turned around and began to walk away.

“Wait! Gwen.” Arthur cried out. Gwen turned around frowning. Arthur sighed. “You should come inside, there is someone you should meet, and it’s a guy.” Arthur said hurriedly.

Gwen came inside, still frowning. Arthur closed the door and shut the curtains. “Robin, come here. I need you to meet someone.”

Robin came out holding his plate of pancakes and eating, he stopped and licked his face of any syrup. “Hi, I’m Blondie’s boyfriend.”

“Robin!” Arthur said threateningly through his teeth.

“I’m confused, who is this?” Gwen demanded.

Arthur walked over to Robin. “Gwen, meet my friend-“

“We’re not friends.” Robin interrupted.

“Meet my acquaintance, Robin Hood.” Arthur finished.”He lives in The Sherwood Government District.” Arthur saw Gwen soften. “Now is the time to tell her.” He thought.

Arthur bowed his head. “You see, I work at a homeless shelter downtown. I haven’t told anyone because my parents didn’t think it proper for their son to be working with the poor. So for the past seven years, I have been working there in secret. Most of the time, I would have to lie to my friends and family about where I was going. I’m sorry. I lied to you as well. When I told you I went to the doctor, I was really downtown.”

Gwen’s eyes teared up. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Arthur shuffled his feet. “Well, everyone else laughed at the idea, I thought you would too.”

Gwen slapped Arthur. “I can’t believe you lied to me!” She cried. Arthur nodded sadly. Then in a softer voice. “I can’t believe you didn’t trust me.” Arthur looked up and found himself kissing Gwen. When they broke away. “I wouldn’t laugh at you.” Gwen said softly. “Ever since I met you I have admired the way you stood up for the weaker children who got picked on. This is just a bigger way of you standing up for what’s right, standing up for those who need you.” Gwen kissed Arthur again.

“Does this mean we’re not breaking up?” Arthur asked.

“No, silly.” Gwen smiled. “It means that I am going to work at the homeless shelter with you.” Gwen said.

“Really? You are? Oh thank you Gwen.” Arthur replied excitedly.

“But,” Gwen said. “You should tell your family and your friends. They should hear the truth.”

Arthur nodded. He should, he would. Then he would be free from lying to them ever again.

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