Though he quickly became the talk of the town. Or countryside, really, as only plebeians live within city limits. You’re a commoner if you can see another house from your own, and a lout if you share a street—or at least that was the view in Cheshire County, where Sir Oxnard was born and raised. And after twelve years away, he was back.
The family had said Sir Oxnard was “temporarily absent,” “momentarily away,” or was “taking an extended holiday.” Though truth be told, Sir Oxnard was run off. His speech never fit with those around him, and his decorum was not up to standard. Sir Oxnard cussed and spit. His hygiene, at best, was just adequate. He loved the type of sports that got one dirty and caused people to yell. But worst of all, he lived for jokes.
Clean humor, dirty humor, horrible puns, and Sir Oxnard wasn’t above religious jabs, either. “Have you heard the one about the pregnant nun?” he asked the priest, loudly, during a holy moment of silence, which was the second-to-the-last straw. The last came when Sir Oxnard set his uncle’s summer house on fire, making his aunt think her husband had perished. Though truly, the Baron was passed out safe and sound in the outbuilding, the victim of laxative-laced cake his nephew had gifted him the night before. It was double demonstration of Sir Oxnard’s favorite type of joke—the practical one.
And for his family that incident was a bridge too far.
“He has to go,” said Sir Oxnard’s mother. She was emphatic, though somewhat hard to take seriously, as her wig was pink.
“Agreed,” said Sir Oxnard’s father. His undershirt, as well as the rest of his clothes, had been dyed, too.
“Banish him from Cheshire County!”
“No, let’s send him out of the country!”
“Or kill him!” said Sir Oxnard’s sister. She was the only one not in pink; her wardrobe had been turned purple.
“Will the Duke help?”
“In driving him away?”
“Or in killing him?”
“With both, probably.”
“But do we want to go that far?”
“I think so,” Sir Oxnard’s sister stated. Though she was unsurprised when her parents opted for the more genteel option.
So they enlisted the help of the Duke, Sir Herbert Cheshire, of whom the county was named, and Sir Oxnard was forced away. And it was to much of the nobility’s pleasure. No more jokes about one’s mums and dads. No more fingers pointed to long noses, and comparisons made to elephants, no more advertisements in papers for erectile dysfunction cures with testimonials signed by real-life county residents. No more roads closed due to snow in July, or town squares sold to foreigners for pennies, or candied absinthe given to entire Kindergarten classes. Sir Oxnard put up a fight—forced from his home and his friends—but Duke Herbert was more powerful. So everyone got to tell Sir Oxnard “hard cheese,” that quintessential English expression for “bad luck,” and that was that.
Was it fair? Did he deserve it?
A few said Sir Oxnard never hurt anyone—he was removed due to his impropriety, not due to any danger he posed. And was it humane to let Sir Oxnard’s numerous ant colonies die, even if they were just kept to be stuck in people’s slacks? Or to turn all of his cats out? What had the cats done to deserve a hard life in the wild, other than unknowingly supply Sir Oxnard with urine to be put in women’s perfume bottles? Though Sir Oxnard really should have heeded the warnings, they all agreed, so again “hard cheese” and there was nothing more to be said.
Until Sir Herbert passed away, that is.
And with him went the power to keep Sir Oxnard away.
Nothing happens for a year.
“I thought he was back?” they all ask in their shacks.
“Did the man return or not?” they wonder in their shanties and country huts. And there’s hardly any worry in their voices, because after all, what’s not to like about a crazed nobleman with means? A hearty bit of entertainment he used to provide, and many of the high schoolers have fond memories of their visit with the green fairy so many years before, courtesy of Cheshire County’s number-one trickster.
But in their estates and mansions and country manners the terror which couches similar questions is palatable.