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When Mr. Weatherby Forgot How To Say No: Part One


by partonsvite

--------

Hello, dear readers. My name is Victor Weatherby, and a most curious thing happened to me one strange winter. It was so curious indeed that I felt compelled to put it in ink, and so it has come to be that I have written this, and you are reading it. Perhaps you might learn a thing or two (goodness knows the youth of today could use a few lessons in how to conduct themselves), but first, allow me to properly introduce myself. Or rather, who I used to be.

     I lived in a cosy apartment in Neopia Central, above the watch shop I owned. I have rather a reputation in these parts for being an expert watchmaker, which let me assure you is no mean feat when one has a Lenny's feathers where many other Neopets have hands! In my heyday I was rather a strapping gentleman, if I do say so myself, and impeccably groomed, with handsome brown feathers and an impressive grey beak. I kept very much to the fashions amongst the upper circles, with a different waistcoat and matching cravat every day of the week. These days, I consider myself lucky to have the time to preen myself.

     I have rambled on quite enough, I feel. Let us begin.

     *

     "For the last time, no! Indubitably, uncompromisingly, and quite frankly, no!"

     The young Kyrii curled her fingers around her broken watch strap and shrank, ears drooping, before shuffling away. She was walking a little too slowly for my liking, though, so I ushered her out with a few wingbeats. Just as well, too. I haven't the time for riff-raff like that! The bell on the door tinged as it slammed shut behind her, and as she shambled down the street (in the rain, I might add), I glared down my beak at the little ruffian. Honestly. Don't they think a Lenny has better things to do than deal with timewasters?

     Smoothing the front of my satin waistcoat, I turned, and picked my way around the shelves packed with watch faces and clockwork parts, to my workbench. My shop was kept rather dim-lit, and all the furniture was carved from walnut and decorated with crimson and purple; it was all very, very luxurious. I might as well have had stacks of Neopoints adorning my work surfaces.

     Most days, it was quiet. Today had been one of those days, and I relished it. I perched atop my beaten old stool and retrieved my spectacles from my waistcoat pocket; the world slipped into focus as I placed them delicately on my beak, and leaned in to work. There was a really rather broken watch scattered about my workbench, its myriad of beautiful brass parts glinting gently in the low light.

     I lifted my tweezers and, with exceeding care, plucked at a spring that had become uncoiled, slowly winding it back into shape. I dared not blink, as it is a task that requires the utmost concentration and dexterity.

     Of course, then the door whipped open with an immense clang, and the sound of the bell tinging was drowned out by the din of parts sliding from the shelf that was now splintering from the force of the door's impact, and the spring went to pot. I leapt from my stool as though it had electrocuted me and crossed the shop floor in a matter of seconds; when I reached the door I stood, wings folded, and tried not to collapse at the sight of the destruction.

     The door was hanging off its hinges, rattling weakly in the wind; a tall shelf had literally been sliced in half, and the floor was coated in glittering shards of glass and once meticulously ordered watch parts. My eyes, glaring through their spectacles, settled on the culprit.

     A young lady stood before me, smirking impishly, not looking the slightest bit apologetic for the mess she'd made. She was quite short, and wearing a purple dress with a frayed hem. Her hair was purple, too, which I of course disapproved of -- youngsters these days with their dyes and their hair gel -- and her eyes (I will not ever forget those eyes) glinted green with mischief and chaos. After a moment's glaring, I noticed a small, twitching pair of wings on her back, which resembled those of a Korbat. She, then, was a Faerie. I circled her, and heaved the door back into the doorframe. The wind wheezed through the cracks.

     "I believe that you've destroyed merchandise to the tune of several million Neopoints," I said curtly, turning to face her, my back to my destroyed door. Faerie or not, nobody would get away with breaking things in my shop.

     "Perhaps you should have shut your door properly. It blew open in the storm," she replied, eyes still glittering. I started to feel a touch uneasy, but I wouldn't let it show, of course.

     "Well. I see. If that's the case, then --"

     "Listen up, Weatherby. I'm Aaliyah, a Dark Faerie. I broke my friend's watch and she overreacted -- long story short, I need you to fix it for me."

     I stared at her, blankly. First, she destroys my door. Now, she interrupts me.

     "Well? What do you say?"

     "I say no. Not in your wildest dreams would I fix a watch for you, whoever you are. You are rude, loud, and quite unpleasant. Good day to you," I said, gesturing to the door.

     Her lips dropped their playful smirk and twisted into a hideous scowl. She thrust out her white-knuckled fist to me -- clenched within it was a watch that had long since given up its tick.

     "I'm going to give you another chance, because I feel sorry for you. After all, you're clearly stupid. Fix the watch, Weatherby."

     I drew myself up to my greatest height, which was just shorter than the top of her head with its ridiculous violet hair, and said, "No. And for the record, I'm rather clever."

     She stuffed the watch into a pocket of her dress, sneered at me, and said, "You'll come to regret this one day, Weatherby."

     "Yes, yes, I'm sure. Now, you have a good day. Or don't. It doesn't particularly concern me. Goodbye," I said, flapping my wings at her and herding her to the door.

     Oh, what a fool I truly was.

     *

     The days passed without event; the ill omens of the Faerie hardly crossed my mind even once. I will admit that I suffered a few sleepless nights, worrying, but as days turned to weeks, and then months, I realised that if anything bad were to happen, it likely would've happened already. I had my door replaced, and although the cost of the destroyed merchandise was not covered, I lived comfortably enough to not notice the loss of a few million Neopoints here and there.

     Of course, to keep oneself living in quite such extravagance, one must be a little bit ruthless. And I was, exceedingly so.

     I had just finished repairing the watch of a certain Mrs. Kensington, a rich old Chia who always wore bustled skirts and gave generous tips (and compliments on my waistcoats of choice!), and was very much a valued customer. As she left, a young Kyrii came in, and as she approached I was quite sure that I recognised her teal fur and unkempt blue mane, which both looked as though they hadn't seen a fur brush in years.

     She reached my desk, and as her brown eyes locked with mine, I remembered. She had been a customer the same day as that Faerie had blustered in; I of course had turned her and her pathetic broken watch away -- a replacement would cost barely two hundred Neopoints, if that -- because she simply couldn't pay. And now she was back. And grinning.

     I looked askance at her.

     "Is there something I can help you with, young lady?" I snapped, eyeing her.

     "I don't have any money, sir, but I was wondering if I could please have that watch," she prodded at the glass of my display case with her grubby fingers, "for free?"

     I let out a bark of a laugh. That watch? For free?! It was the single most expensive item in the shop; it was kept under lock and key, and she wanted it for free? Preposterous. So, what did I say?

     "What a ridiculous question. Of course you can!"

     My beak hung open after I said those fateful words.

     "W-what -- I meant yes! Yes, you can have it! YES! TAKE IT! FOR FREE!"

     The girl laughed hysterically as I, completely against every urge I had, unlocked the display case, gently took the watch in my hand, and laid it in her dirt-caked paws.

     "In fact, free watches for everyone! Take anything you want!"

     At this point I clamped my wing firmly around my beak, and the horror slowly sank in.

     "You'll come to regret this one day, Weatherby."

     How right that Faerie had been.

     It didn't take much time at all for word of my newfound generosity to spread, and before long I found my shop inundated with the kind of rabble that I never would have allowed past the welcome mat before. I was wearing myself ragged, chasing around after the ridiculous requests of Neopets and their owners, and every evening after I locked up I would head to the National Neopian and despair at my rapidly dwindling bank balance. Soon I was relying on the Soup Kitchen for my meals, while others profited massively at my expense.

     I started to feel like perhaps there was a lesson to be learned in all of this.

     *

     One evening, I found myself at the Money Tree, emptying a sack of Neopoints and glimmering watch parts in its shade. Children and poor Neopets crowded around, diving through piles of unwanted food and toys to snatch up things to eke a living out of. I sighed, and watched from the sidelines, wondering how long it would be before I was like them. The waters of the Rainbow Pool sparkled in the near distance, reflecting the setting sun.

     Suddenly, there was a paw on my shoulder. I whipped around, and nearly knocked the orange Wocky gentleman right onto the ground.

     "Oops -- sorry, sir," I said, helping him steady himself with my outstretched wings. I noticed quite quickly that he looked the business type; he was wearing a handsome crimson jacket, a white shirt and spotless blue tie, and his head fur was impeccably combed. I'd dishevelled him a little bit by nearly sending him flying, and I felt tremendously stupid for it.

     "Not at all, good man, not at all. I'm Charles Statham, successful stockbroker and entrepreneur. I couldn't help but be wowed by your generosity!" he chatted, shaking my wing vigorously with a large paw. I wanted to comment that my generosity was by no means my choice, but he cut me off.

     "Now, I'm sure I recognise you as Mr. Weatherby," he said, releasing my wing. I tried not to make too much of a point of carefully shaking my feathers back into place as I replied.

     "Yes. Owner of Weatherby's Watch Emporium."

     "Fantastic! Well, Mr. Weatherby, I've got a deal and a half for you," he said, raising his eyebrows and grinning fiendishly. I sighed; no matter what his deal was, I didn't have the capacity to refuse it. He mistook my apathy for extreme enthusiasm (somehow) and chattered away.

     "Shares in your little company have gone down alarmingly -- well, they were never very up, but that's another story -- and, well, you look like you're struggling," he said, and I knew he was eyeing the tattered edges of my waistcoat, and my unkempt fraying bowtie. "So," he went on, chirpily, "I'm willing to offer you two thousand Neopoints in exchange for your shop and the apartment above it; I've always admired your window boxes." He winked.

     With another sigh, one so great that it made my shoulders slump and knees buckle a touch, I nodded.

     Two thousand Neopoints.

     "That's great! I'll be over in the morning with the paperwork," he gabbed, but I was barely listening.

     My life's work for two thousand Neopoints.

     I was in trouble.

To be continued...

 
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