Mr Sparkles By D.I. Jolly

When he’d first been confronted with the idea of becoming a lawyer, Lloyd had pictured big courtroom dramas, executive offices, fancy apartments and money. Lots and lots of money.

He wasn’t an idiot, though; he knew that it wouldn’t start out that way, but he had a goal, a destination in mind and a map to get there.

So off he went, focusing on his studies, even during high school, to make sure he could get into the right university, where he redoubled his efforts so that he could get into the right law firm and there again pushed himself even harder to achieve his goals. It was hard work, but it wasn’t all work. He knew enough about himself to take time away from it all, to enjoy himself, to remember why it was he was working so hard.

And while he always maintained the core of his original idea, he recognised that some details had changed. The idea of a family had come in, and the fancy apartment turned into a nice house somewhere a bit removed from the city, but near enough to commute comfortably.

What had never factored into his mind, however, was the image of walking ankle deep in mud, down, what was not a road despite what the man in the hardware store had said, towards some kind of farm house in the middle of fucking nowhere in very expensive, now probably ruined, shoes.

“Morning!” rang a voice from the porch of the house, and although it was rough, it was inviting and warm, and deeply frustrating.

“Morning my asshole, fucking give you morning, you miserable old prick,” muttered Lloyd as he trudged his way up the equally muddy driveway towards the house. Then he cleared his throat and tried to remember that he was a professional there to do a job.

“Morning. Are you Mr. Ambrose?”

“Sometimes, but you can call me Walt.”

Lloyd stopped short and, despite his frustration, didn’t step mug caked shoes onto the man’s porch, but did extend his hand.

“My name is Lloyd Birch. I’m here from Barnaby, Bartholomew and John. I’m your lawyer.”

The older man smiled and stepped forward to shake Lloyd’s hand.

“Barnaby, Bartholomew and John huh? The name kind of drops off a bit at the end there, doesn’t it, son?”

“Yes, sir. Now, I’ve been sent to help establish the full value of the property and ensure you understand all your legal rights concerning the discovery made on your land. I’m here under strict orders from the company to be on your side in these proceedings and to ensure that, no matter what happens, you don’t get the short end of any sticks.”

Walt nodded appreciatively as he listened and then said, “And what do you get out of all this kindness?”

“Well sir, I get to sleep well at night, I get my usual substantial pay cheque and the company gets even more substantial government tax breaks for doing public pro bono work. Basically, we are all going to get paid.”

“I see. So, you help an old man out of the goodness of your company’s heart, and in return, the company’s name gets featured in some newspaper articles and the government lets you keep more of the money people give you?”

“Yes, and on top of that, you get the best legal advice money can buy, only without having to spend any money.”

Again, Walt nodded along thoughtfully, scratched his chin and then said,

“Well alright then, take off your shoes and come inside. I’ll make us some coffee, and you can tell me what it is exactly, that you are going to do for me.”

Lloyd happily did as he was told, excited by both the idea of coffee and of getting out of his definitely ruined shoes. He then stepped onto the porch and into the house, where he immediately became very aware of two things.

One, Walter Ambrose was an incredibly organised man. Almost frighteningly so. Where the outside of the house appeared a little run down, with a dusty driveway leading into a dirt road, inside the house there was a place for everything and everything was in its place. There was a corner for paper work and very neatly arranged papers on a clean desk next to, what Lloyd could only imagine, was an exceptionally well organised filing cabinet. In another corner was a work bench and tools. Nothing that would create mess, however. That was probably, almost definitely, in another part of the farm, and specifically and carefully organised. Even the lounge section of the open room looked specifically laid out and maintained to be just exactly as it was. The room inspired awe in Lloyd and told him that the man he was dealing with was no simple country bumpkin, but a very well put together man who did everything on purpose.

The second thing that Lloyd had become aware of was a donkey, sitting in the corner of the room near a smouldering fire, casually chewing on some hay. And despite everything else about the man, and the room, the words that tumbled out of Lloyd’s mouth were,

“What’s the donkey for?”

“What do you mean, what’s he for? He’s not for anything; he just is.”

“But…but why is he inside?”

“Because it was raining all of yesterday.”

“But don’t you have a barn? And this isn’t an animal farm, is it?”

“It is not.”

“So what’s the donkey for?”

“He’s a living, breathing creature, Mr Birch. And just like you and me, he simply… is.”

Lloyd looked back and forth between the farmer and his donkey and then, in a final attempt at acceptance said,

“Does he have a name?”

“Yes. Mr Sparkles.”

Lloyd blinked in astonishment.

“You named your donkey Mr Sparkles?”

“No, his name just is Mr Sparkles; I had nothing to do with it.”

Again, Lloyd looked back and forth between the two until he noticed Walt’s gentle smile.

“I have grandchildren, Mr Birch.”

“Ah, oh, yeah ok, I think I understand.”

Walt wandered over and handed Lloyd a cup of hot fresh coffee and stood with him as he continued to consider the donkey.

“The littlest one is named Ellie, and she tells me Mr Sparkles is actually an undercover unicorn who is using his magic to only appear as a donkey.”

Lloyd took a sip of his coffee and realised that it was, like everything else in the house, very precisely put together and excellent, and then said,

“Does that explain why Mr Sparkles is in the house?”

“Nope. That’s because he’s afraid of the raccoons who move into the barn during storms.”

“Another of Ellie’s stories?”

“Nope.”

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