He sat behind his dinner table, expanding nearly an acre of space, or so it seemed. The rough wood, hewn by hand tools only, was very rough. He could have had them plane it as smooth as the surface of a space telescope lens, but that wasn’t what he wanted. Instead, it was rough, the edges where the individual boards were abutted were also rounded, giving it more depth, more character. Then it was given hundreds of layers of plastic. Spooned on by hand until there was exactly an inch of it covering the surfaces. Yes, he had demanded that the underside be as perfect as the top, just because he could.
On a chance trip down the length of his table, he found a flaw. Outraged, he banged on the table with his silver enshrined cane, banging it furiously over and over until the silver cracked, the wood, taken from an ancient log surviving hundreds of years underwater, petrified, cracked and broke.
A tempest was never so severe on the open sea as the tantrum he was throwing. He stabbed at the flawed table with the broken cane, swept its surface with the broken shaft and his arm, the arm of his robe sweeping the polished plastic clean as the day it was delivered. Pieces flew in every direction, gliding off the edges of the massive table until the rattled as they hit the floor.
Carrying his huge body had its limits. Although he used his gym frequently, more out of spite for those who may have wished him ill health, there was no denying that his well-worked body was still too large for the boney structure underneath the muscles. A crash was sure to occur momentarily.
But the dining room crew was quick and efficient, they had to be or they would suffer his greatly honed wrath. A severe beating with his shaft would be a minor insult to the verbal abuse he could lash upon their subservient psyches. His mere words could virtually strip the skin of anyone not familiar with hearing it as it tore into some other poor slave, leathering their skin for when it would become their time to bend to his mighty breath.
His legs, no longer able to sustain the weight from the swinging his oversized gut, gave out and he collapsed backwards. With machine precision the large wooden chair was placed under him as he seated himself with no control. It arrived at the exact position, the perfect location to keep him from exhaling as his lungs were collapsed by the outside weight of his body hitting the surface of the chair. Instead, he was caught by the seat and lowered at no greater speed than as if he had seated himself, thus there was no exhalation, no evidence that he was overweight as he sat. And they accomplished this without the slightest squeak as the chair contacted the floor.
Once he was out of their hands, his minions moved quickly, picking up the shattered shaft and bits of silver that were broken like the cheapest pewter, too refined to be easy malleable, too close to pure, overly-hardened silver. Some of these were placed in the waste bin, some were concealed in pockets. These bits were a hedge against the day he threw them out for the littlest insult to his power and wealth, or perhaps bits of spite. Sometimes these firings involved the entire staff of a single room, resulting in the immediate retraining of the crew. It happened less and less as he realized that it was himself that was being the most affected by his tantrums.
It was also unknown to him that the staff usually rotated within the structure, putting those recently replaced in the outskirts of the building, or in severe cases, when he had physically confronted them and spat on them as he lashed them with his nearly lethal tongue, they were sent even further outward, to support buildings. They became mechanics, gardeners, and such, well out of his sight, but still serving him from a distance, and learning more of his domain until it was again shaken and redistributed.
As it was, several other persons scurried around the table as he took deep breaths while seated in his massive chair. They had come from all the rooms surrounding the dining room, quick to react out of fear of his retributions, and also to be trained as the next dining room staff as well, if need be. His bellows reverberated through every room in the entire house, although the massive wood walls of his library absorbed its share of vibrations.
Catching his well justified breath, he thought of his family to deflect his thoughts of the marred table. His wife, long since retired to yet another mansion, completely beneath the pomposity and luxury of this one of course, feigned interest with a call between excursions to various worldly locations. More and more of these vacations were in areas that didn’t have sufficient telephone services, although in this modern age it was seemingly impossible.
He was proud of his sons, not a daughter to be raised in the lot of them, at least not to his knowledge. His wife was of course, had been his most intimate servant, completely loyal to his wishes, and always aware of anything that would even mildly disturb him, usually before he himself had given such things any thought. As large as this particular mansion was, it seldom rattled with the sound of crying babies and children, there were distant hallways and wings for such things, as well as entirely separate buildings, spread through several states and a couple of countries. If he had missed the birth and raising of one of his children, it was only a minor concern. Family was naturally secondary to business.
As his sons were raised their visits were more common. He spent sufficient time with them as youngsters, more as they became cognizant of business, and more still as they became integrated into his company concerns. All had completed their destined life to the extent that he cared, becoming branches to his own, furthering his business with the success of theirs. They had built their own mansions and largely lived in them. He met them monthly at business meetings, although there was little to be done at them, there were hundreds of people and committees that handled the businesses.
Faintly he realized that the irritation caused by the table was his only real source of discomfort. Everything else was handled by someone beneath his immediate awareness. It was only something like this that reminded him of his elevated status, and those that were serving him. Other than his outrage filling the opulent space of the room, echoes of other’s worlds didn’t affect or reach him.
Of course the table would have to be refinished, or replaced, at his discretion. He was already fidgeting with the knowledge that it would be temporarily replaced with a single folding card table approximately four feet square. It had a dark green covering of hard vinyl, hardly unblemished, barely clean. Each course of his meal would be delivered in succession as it always was.
Condiments wouldn’t be a problem, it seemed that even the spicing of any given meal was exactly right, even if altered by his moods. He never noticed when spices were added in his better moods, and when the food became more mundane and base when he felt alone and insecure. Word was always passed from servants to the cooks long before he even began feeling hunger.
The small table was an irritant that he allowed because it kept the servants (some may call them slaves) shaking in fear of their master the whole time. There were many tables that could serve him better in the interim, as close by as the next room, but he insisted on this one. Those people would be ready to move it in a moment’s notice, replacing it nearly as quickly as they themselves could be replaced, or in their case, rotated throughout the mansion and its grounds.
Yet they were not as fearful at the table as he contended and believed. It was all a matter of the game they played at his expense. It also had hollowed out legs, just as his chair had. Occasionally they would allow his chair to thud against the floor to falsely inform him of its weight, but it had long been altered to serve them. It kept their backs from breaking, and it made it maneuverable without either non-intentional noise or possibly an irritating hesitation.
More worrisome was the crumb that still hung on the outer surface of his lip. It must’ve been expelled during his rant, because his mouth and lap were meticulously examined and cleaned after every meal, sometimes even during it. It could not have survived their attention to detail.
Their concern was that it may fall off and into his sphere of attention. Already there were a silver trimmed pan and a cloth napkin matching the fabric of the chair, poised in mid-air, just out of his sight. If he moved as they swept in, it may cause the severing of his throat with the sharp edge of the pan. This would not serve any of the servants, and they would be very careful. They wondered if it might serve him instead.