Copyright 2011 Theo Fenraven
I work for Will Crawford as a cook/housekeeper. My name is Jamie. I am a slender five foot seven and have very dark hair and eyes. It has been three months since I have been in his employ, and I can tell you that yes, I have been in love with him almost from the beginning.
I have worked for two other “famous” people, and they were as different from Mr. Crawford as summer is from winter. They worked me to death and treated me like shit, and I could not wait to leave them.
But Mr. Crawford is different. He likes things very clean and in their place, and he does not eat at home often, so I do not cook as much as I would like, but he never complains, never raises his voice to me, never makes demands at all. When he wants something, he asks very politely.
He is beautiful and elegant and moves with much grace. I do not live in his house—each evening, I get on a bus and return to my small apartment—and so I do not see him very often, as he is a busy man. But when he is home while I am there, he always inquires as to how I feel and talks to me a little sometimes. Mostly, when he is here, he is tired and needs rest and quiet, and I make every attempt not to disturb him.
He asked me to call him Will, but the informality of that caused a shiver to run down my spine. To me, he is Mr. Crawford. He deserves much respect, that man.
There two pets in the house. Kaz is his dog, and he is usually very good, but once he chewed up one of Mr. Crawford’s sneakers, and I felt very bad because I had not put them away fast enough. I was afraid to tell him but he just laughed and talked sternly to Kaz. There was much affection in his voice, and I could tell he was only pretending to be mad. He loves Kaz very much and sometimes feels guilty that he does not spend as much time with him as he should.
Mr. Crawford also has a cat named Oliver. He is mostly black and likes to walk along the backs of the furniture, meowing at me. He gets hair on everything, and I spend a lot of time cleaning up after him. Sometimes, he throws up, and I shake my finger at him and call him un maÌn gato. That means “bad cat.” When Mr. Crawford is home, Oliver will jump right in his lap, stand on his hind legs, and paw his mouth, as if asking for a kiss. I know how Oliver feels.
The house is often a busy place. There are frequent deliveries, the yard people come once a week, and the phone rings a lot. Mr. Crawford has told me I do not have to answer it, but I cannot resist. I take messages and give them to him when he gets home.
Sometimes, he travels and then he asks me to please stay at the house so I can take care of Kaz and Oliver for him. There is a guest room, and that is where I sleep. I was here the last two nights, because he went home to Chicago to wish his mother feliz cumpleaños. I have spoken to her on the phone. She is a lovely woman.
I expect him to return at any time, and so I am rushing around, making sure everything is the way he likes it. I did not sleep well because Oliver kept walking on me in the night, missing Mr. Crawford, and now I am tired and out of sorts.
The back door opened late in the morning. Kaz raced across the house to throw himself against his master’s legs (Mr. Crawford does not let him jump up). His friend, Mr. David Moore, was with him; he had picked him up at the airport and driven him home.
“Welcome home, Mr. Crawford. Good morning, Mr. Moore.” I held out my hand for Mr. Crawford’s bag.
Smiling, he handed it to me. “You are never going to call me Will, are you?”
“No, Mr. Crawford. That would not be right.”
“I’m gonna take off, Will,” Mr. Moore said, glancing at me with a smile. “Dinner tonight?”
“See you there.” After his friend left, Mr. Crawford started going through the mail and messages I had left on the counter. “Anything happen while I was gone?”
“All is well,” I said. “Would you like me to fix you something for lunch?”
“That would be nice… if you don’t have to get home.”
He was always considerate, Mr. Crawford. “I can stay, that is no problem. I will unpack your bag first, if that is okay?” There were shadows under his eyes; he looked tired. I knew he did not always get enough sleep, and I worried about him.
“That’s fine,” he said, still going through the pile. Oliver rubbed back and forth against his calves, and he absently reached down to stroke his head. Kaz sat on his other side, leaning against him. They had missed him as much as I had.
I took his bag into the bedroom and unpacked quickly. It took only minutes to throw the dirty clothes into the hamper and return his personal effects to the master bathroom. I put the empty bag back in the closet and returned to the kitchen.
I knew he would want something light after flying, so I prepared a bowl of soup and bruschetta with brie, olive oil, lemon juice, and a touch of curry powder. I sliced tomatoes on top and put everything on the table. He sat immediately and began to eat. When Oliver jumped onto the table, Will patiently put him back on the floor.
I moved around quietly while I straightened the kitchen, trying not to be noticed. Mr. Crawford does not mind my presence, but I felt he should be able to eat in peace.
I was hanging the dishtowel up when he said, “This is delicious, and just what I needed.”
I grinned at him shyly. “You are welcome.”
“I have to get some sleep, but tonight I’m going out. Would it be a terrible imposition, asking you to stay until I get home? I don’t want to leave the pets alone so soon after getting back.”
“That is no problem, Mr. Crawford.”
He looked at me. “Sit down for a minute.”
I approached him hesitantly, twisting my hands together nervously. Had I done something wrong? Under the table, he raised a leg and pushed out the chair opposite him. I sat, bowing my head, awaiting my fate.
He noticed, of course. “I just want to tell you how much I appreciate what you do for me,” he said gently.
I looked up and smiled. “It is a pleasure, Mr. Crawford.”
“Won’t you please call me Will?” he said with a laugh. “It makes me feel a little uncomfortable.”
“I’m sorry, I did not realize. Yes, I will call you Will. You should not be uncomfortable in your house.”
He tilted his head to the side, studying me, I think. “How long have you been in America?”
“Several years now,” I replied, looking down at my hands, still entwined in my lap. “I am not an illegal, Mr…. Will.”
“That wasn’t what I was asking. It’s just that you speak English so well. Write it well, too; I can always read your messages.”
“I studied it in school and discovered I pick up languages easily. I also read English.”
“You should continue your schooling,” he said, finishing his lunch and sitting back. “You’re, what, around twenty-seven, twenty-eight?”
I nodded, starting to rise to clear the dishes. He gestured to indicate I should remain seated.
“What you do for me is certainly worthwhile and much appreciated, but is there something else you’d like to be?”
I thought about that. I had dreams, of course. Doesn’t everyone? “I would like to be a marine biologist,” I finally said.
His eyes widened. That had taken him by surprise. “Any particular branch?”
“Marine mammologist. I want to work with dolphins and whales.”
He nodded thoughtfully. “If I wasn’t an actor, I might be interested in something like that. You should start taking classes immediately. That field requires a lot of study.”
Mr. Crawford pays me very well, but after expenses and sending money home to my family in Mexico, there is very little left. “I will consider it.”
This time, when I rose, he let me. I took the dishes to the sink and hand-washed them. I do not like the dishwasher. I do not quite trust it to get everything as clean as Mr. Crawford likes.
He went to his bedroom to sleep, and I retired to the guest room with a book. I was reading Catcher in the Rye, and the writer’s language was giving me some difficulty, but I was enjoying the story very much. Silence settled over the house and after a while, my eyes closed and I dozed off.