Beaux and Bête
In the fair city of Aix-en-Provence lived a widow. She’s taken over her dead husband’s import-export business and had turned it into a highly quoted enterprise which took her around the world searching out ever new products, her name was Marie Antoinette Regard.
She had three sons. Ernest, Darius and Beaux.
Before leaving on a business trip to Japan, Marie Antoinette asked her sons if there might be anything special she could bring them as a souvenir.
Ernest whose interest ran into informatics, requested one of the latest Sony ™ computers, Darius whose special interest was the art of war, requested a katana and Beaux who was a poet requested a photograph of a white rose with a Japanese maple in the background.
Marie Antoinette was very busy, so whilst she was about with different company CEOs she sent her personal assistant to pick-up the katana and the computer, but forgot to mention the photograph. When she got back to France, she realized that she’d forgotten her youngest son’s request when passing near a great estate with a beautiful botanical garden. She saw a white rose next to a Japanese maple!
She had her chauffeur stop her limo and jumped out of the car with her digital camera in hand, slipped through the gate and started taking photographs. Not 5 minutes after she’d slipped through the gates, then two doberman pinschers and 3 armed guards surrounded her and took her into the Estate Manor.
She was lead to a small room, very much like a cloister’s visiting area with a draped grating along one wall.
“Who might you be and why have you invaded my property?” said a woman’s voice.
“I’m Marie Antoinette Regard. I know I should have asked, but all I wanted to do was take a photograph of your white rose-bush near that lovely Japanese maple tree. I’m afraid I promised my youngest son that I would bring him just such a photo, but I forgot to do so when I was in Japan due to all my important business conferences.” she was nearly rambling in her anxiety.
“Why does he want the photograph?”
“Well, he’s a poet, I suppose he either wants to turn it into a hoiga, I think he calls them or maybe inspire himself to write a choke you.”
“That’s Haiga and Choka. I can see you take no interest at all in what this son does. I’ll tell you what. Unless you want to go to prison for breaking and entering, you will send your son to live here in my Manor house for one year. He will be my personal assistant and will live here on the grounds.”
Now, the forbidding woman behind the grate really put the fear of God into Marie Antoinette. One thing her business couldn’t afford was a scandal! So, she said she’d send her son along the next day to take up his new post.
When she got home, she told her son’s of her terrible adventure upon her return to France.
“Where did you say the Manor was Mummy dear?” Ernest asked.
“About 20 kilometers before entering Aix, you know that great estate with the botanical gardens.” she replied.
“Shit! That’s Bête Davis’ place, you know the hermit heiress Elizabeth Davis. No one knows what she looks like, but she’s the head of about the most ruthless multi-national on earth!” Darius commented with admiration in his voice.
“Well it doesn’t matter, I’ll go, I don’t want Mom arrested!” Beaux said, though he wasn’t the office worker sort.
Beaux and his mother went to the Estate next morning. She was refused admittance but he was led into the same small room his mother had been in the day before.
“You’re Marie Antoinette’s son, what’s your name?” the woman’s voice asked.
“I’m Beaux Regard, and I must warn you, I’m a poet and not at all good at managerial or office work.”
“You’re my special personal assistant. Your job will be to write all the poetry or anything else you like. During our evening meals and after dinner we will speak about what you’ve written. You have the full run of the grounds, except for the East wing, which are my personal living quarters, and you can’t leave the grounds without my permission, is that clear?”
“Uhm, yes, of course.”
“Good, see you at dinner.”
The days turned into weeks and the weeks months. Beaux was actually very happy. He wrote all day and in the evenings would read his work to Bête. Sometimes she would critique him, at others she’d share her own efforts, at others still they would pass the evening in a Renga contest. He began to fall in love with her, although he had never actually seen her as she always wore a heavy veil.
Back at home, things were not going so well. His brothers had married twin Japanese sisters, heiresses to a powerful multi-national. However, Marie Antoinette had taken ill and had not been able to follow the business and her sons did not have her talents. Eventually, the Japanese Baron bought Marie Antoinette out of her business for a pittance, giving her sons a job in the company for his daughters’ sake.
On her death-bed, Marie Antoinette requested to see Beaux one last time. So they called for him and he spoke to Bête, who gave him permission to leave with the qualification that he’d be back in not more than three days, or if he had to prolong his stay, he would call her with the special cel phone that she gave him.
“I will surely pine away without you my dearest personal assistant. Please don’t fail me!”
“Never worry my dearest Bête, I love you dearly and would never betray you.”
When he returned home in a chauffeur driven Mercedes sports car, dressed in a pair of 500€ jeans and sweatshirt sporting Gucci shoes, his brothers began to think that maybe they could move in on Beaux’s good fortune and free themselves from their father-in-law’s tyranny.
Beaux went directly to the hospital after his driver left him at his family home. There he reassured his mother that he was really very happy. She could pass on in peace as she’d been feeling really guilty about abandoning him the way she had, all for her business interests.
The next day there was the reading of the will, and of course, their mother hadn’t much to leave them. The family home was divided up between the two older brothers and Beaux was given the family library. Beaux, decided that he would leave the next morning, but his brothers persuaded him to stay another day.
“Hell man, we haven’t seen you in months!” they’d said.
He woke up the next morning to find that he’d been locked in his room and his cel phone stolen!
The Mercedes came to fetch him, but the brothers sent the driver on his way saying that Beaux wanted 100.000€ to return to the Estate or he would stay on with his own family.
Bête, devastated, took to her rooms in a dark depression.
Meanwhile, Beaux after a couple of days, was able to find a way to escape. He climbed down from his the bedroom window using his bed sheets as an impromptu rope. Then he hitch-hiked the 20 kilometers back to the Estate.
The guards who recognized him, immediately allowed him on the grounds, calling their mistress to tell her that he had returned.
She ran down the stairs to meet him and he saw her for the first time without her veil. She was beautiful, with long black hair and almost purple eyes.
She finally confided in him, that the board of administrators of the multi-national that her family had left her, had held her money in trust until three days before when she’d turned 22. Now she was at last free of them, and had decided to sell the business off, breaking up the company so it could no longer function as a monolithic business monster. She’d always been cowled by the board, but now she had the knife by the handle and had decided to use it.
They married a short time later. Beaux and Bette, which was of course her real name, bailed out Beaux’s brothers and set them up in business in Canada. Ernest with his own software house and Darius with his own franchise of Kendo gyms and a line of special martial arts weapons.
She sold off most of the subsidiary companies effectively breaking up the multinational. They then bought themselves a Castle in Spain near the coastal village and a sailboat. She retired from the business world forever, co-authoring books and poetry with Beaux which became best sellers throughout the globe.
Oh, and they lived happily ever after.
Written for Lilith at WDBWP
Take any fairy tale and bend all the characters, NOT just the main protagonist and antagonist, to their opposite gender. You can even use nursery rhymes if you wish, and especially anything from the Grimm brothers.
Make it your own, but still recognizable as the story from which it is derived, Most of all though have fun, have faith, and follow your inspiration!!