Posts Tagged ‘Brunty the butler’

It was Duncan, in the maze, with the mallet……..When butlers are beaned, you’re Clueless

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

By Tiber

We have  a big hedge maze out behind the house. You can legitimately get lost in it, which is why we often give people glasses and a bottle of wine. Might as well enjoy yourself while you’re waiting to be rescued. Of course, adding liquor to the mix, who knows what’s gone on behind those high “shrubbies,” as our gardener, Nestor, persists in calling them.

Some of my parents’ oldest friends, who know their way out of the maze, took some newer friends in for a look last night. And when they came back to the house, they said, “You’re getting us in the mood to play ‘Clue’ tonight, aren’t you?” – which made no sense to my parents.

It turned out they were referring to “who killed the butler, in the maze, with the croquet mallet.” Eventually, this was determined not to be “Clue” at all but instead, Brunty, our real butler, dead in the maze, from a croquet mallet. Thankfully, it turned out that Brunty was only beaned, in the maze, from a croquet mallet.

He’d been out there clearing away glasses from the night before, when a croquet mallet came flying over from the nearby croquet pitch and hit him on the head. He seems fine now but really, considering how he is normally, how can we be sure?

Plus, would the mallet-thrower strike again? No one knew who it was. Until captured, we were advised to just avoid the maze entirely.

Finally, it was discovered that our maid, Taffy, had seen my brother, Duncan, walking towards the croquet pitch last night, where she had then heard the simple sound of croquet balls hitting each other.

Taffy, however, in her usual special way, had decided that what she’d really heard was Duncan throwing artificial legs onto a pile to light them on fire. So she had moved along, not wanting to interrupt his mission.

Later, Duncan, who of course had only been playing croquet, had gotten frustrated with his game, and had thrown his mallet over the hedge where it ended up hitting Brunty in the maze. So the mystery was solved – except for the Taffy part.

I noticed something long ago. Other people don’t seem to live in houses like ours, where residents will, with only an ounce of information, leap to conclusions like this one where, it was believed that a family member, after having had a long and particularly busy day, had decided that out of all the ways in the world to chill, the best choice would be to construct an artificial leg pyre in the dead of night on a croquet pitch.

There is a bright side, I guess. The members of our household who so often book non-stop flights to Crazy Town are happy there.

Once Taffy had “figured out” what Duncan was doing, she had just nodded at his having his own enjoyable time and serenely went off to bed.

Without the cape fear

Monday, June 21st, 2010

By Tiber

With a house this big, we often have a lot of overnight guests. And more than once, someone has set up, shall we say, a friendly nocturnal visit to a bedroom other than his or her own. The problem, though, with so much house, is that you can easily lose track of the exact bedroom you’re seeking.

This happened again last night, when a male guest burst into one of the other bedrooms naked, to surprise his lady friend. He leaped up onto the bed in the dark and yelled, “Even Zorro would envy this mighty sword!” This was news to my grandparents who, up until then, had been asleep in there.

Mortified, the male guest fled, but to his credit, he did show up for breakfast in the morning, trying to pretend that nothing had happened. He didn’t look anyone in the face, however, and because of this, he never noticed that, courtesy of my father, who thought it was hysterical, all of the men at the table, my grandfather included, were wearing small, black masks.

Brunty, Dad’s forever out-of-the-loop butler, did notice.  He leaned down to whisper to my father at the table and with his eyes still focused on the other men, neglected to realize that my father was wearing a black mask too.

“I think you should be on guard, sir.”  Brunty confided.  “It has come to my attention that some of the guests may be planning a heist.”

The Bard of Avon Calling

Friday, June 4th, 2010

By Tiber

Whenever people find out my parents have a butler, they always say, “Oh, wow, that must be great.” Well, sometimes it is. And sometimes it isn’t.

We all love Brunty, though, and we’d miss him a lot if Dad ever let him go, just because of the entertainment value alone. And as I’ve said before, Dad wouldn’t save much money by firing him anyway since no one’s actually sure if Brunty’s ever been paid in the first place.

He can drive Dad crazy, though. This house is so big, by the time Brunty answers the door and then finally finds Dad, he can’t remember who was calling. So he just wings it. And Dad ends up having a lot of dead people announced.

Today, Brunty arrived in the billiard room and informed Dad,

“Winston Churchill to see you, sir.”

Dad sighed and went to see who was actually here.

As soon as he entered the foyer, he smelled brandy fumes. No one was there but suddenly, the heavy front door opened on its own as if someone had just left. Dad looked outside and no one was there either. There wasn’t even any wind blowing.

So, not long after, Dad started becoming obsessed that maybe it was Churchill. I thought the brandy fumes were more likely Brunty but I didn’t say anything.

Dad thinks that Brunty, since he does inhabit his own otherworldly state, may have actually seen Winston Churchill’s ghost.

“Dad, let’s be honest, why would Churchill come and visit you?”

“I know a lot about military history.”

“Yes, but where he is, he can talk to a lot of people who actually participated in World War II.”

…”Well, maybe he wanted a fresh perspective. And, dammit! I took too long to answer the door and now he‘s gone!”

“Okay, Dad…And let me preface this by saying I can’t believe we’re actually having this conversation but…isn’t it really better that Churchill’s ghost left rather than staying and roaming the halls? You know we already have a ghost here and it may be a pirate and frankly, I don’t think the two of them would have gotten along at all.”

This seemed to pacify Dad a little and by then, Brunty had tracked him down once more.

“Harry Houdini has arrived for you, sir.”

Dad headed off to the door again. My guess is, Houdini needed some help with that straitjacket of his. And out of everybody in the neighborhood, he figured Dad would be the one who’d know all about one of those.

She’s got legs

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

By Tiber

My parents’ maid, Taffy, who as we all know, is one of those people targeted by the Universe, was knocked out inside the big laundry hamper in the basement.

She’s generally not even down there but today, of course, she was. And, for reasons known only to Taffy, she decided to lean way over the hamper and look up the chute just as Soledad threw a huge and heavy mound of towels down from the third floor. The towels hit Taffy bullseye in the face, flipping her into the hamper, where she hit her head on the metal side bar.

She was out cold for several minutes.

Brunty, the butler, said later that oh, yes, he had noticed a pair of legs dangling over the side of the hamper. When asked why he hadn’t done anything, he replied that the legs weren’t moving so he’d assumed that somebody in our family had murdered someone upstairs and had thrown the body down the laundry chute. And he wanted our family member to enjoy his or her last few moments of freedom to the fullest before being arrested.

I wonder if everybody who works for my parents views us the same way? I guess it’s not all bad. Brunty did seem to find it not at all surprising that at least one of us was capable of sudden insane homicidal rage, but on the upside, he also felt that we were still deserving of a little affection before the jail door clanged shut.

Brunty’s Bubbles

Saturday, February 20th, 2010


By Tiber

This has not been a good week for Brunty, my parents’ butler. Right at the time when, in order to stay employed, everyone else here is going for peak performance, Brunty’s falling down on the job even more than when he forgets he waxed the hallways.

First of all, as I wrote in the previous post, he ended up sitting in peach cobbler, and now, I just found out that he also ate a bar of soap.

His wife, Mrs. Brunty, the housekeeper, wants her husband to continue being, in her words, “a lean, mean machine,” which is pretty funny, if you know him. He’s lean but he’s never been mean and as for the last part, I don’t think anybody could be in less perpetual motion.

Anyway, for health reasons, instead of candy, Mrs. Brunty says she bought Mr. Brunty a heart-shaped soap for Valentine’s Day. Mom loves how, even after all these years, they still call each “Mr. and Mrs. Brunty.” Mom says it shows real old-world dignity. I say it shows why there are no little Bruntys.

In any event, Brunty thought the gift-wrapped heart soap was candy and he ate it, while also enjoying a Dr. Pepper.

Nothing was done initially because when Cook called Brunty in to help her with something and she saw bubbles coming out of his mouth, she just stuck out her hand and snarled, “Okay, Bazooka Joe. Spit it out!”

Of course, they all soon realized it wasn’t bubblegum at all but the soap.

Brunty’s going to be fine but our family physician, Dr. Moore, did feel compelled to make a particular point of telling us that a good rule for everybody in the family to follow would be to not eat heart-shaped soap.

“Or any other shape either!” he quickly added. “Even if it’s attractive.”

My first thought was, “Uh, yeah, Dr. Obvious, I think we know that.”

But then I remembered that Dr. Moore knows us and has learned from experience that it’s probably better just to spell out everything.

Brunty said his chocolate-buying spouse had just missed out on a compliment. Although the taste of the soap really wasn’t that good, he admitted, he’d been about to congratulate  his wife on her thrifty shopping, where this time at least, she hadn’t thrown away their hard-won money,  just to buy “the good stuff.”


It’s pie in the sky…literally. The butler’s peach cobbler.

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

By Tiber

Even in this financial crunch, Dad’s trying hard not to let anybody here go. They all worry about it, though, Cook, the most. People keep telling her that her job is safe since Dad loves her cooking but she can still get frantic. And believe me, when Cook gets frantic, even the walls of the house get agitated.

So once again, the housekeeper, Mrs. Brunty, had an idea for Cook to solidify her position.

She said that since Dad loves desserts, why not bake a really good one and then they could ask her husband Brunty, the butler, to head out on his rounds and, whenever he saw Dad, he could waft the delicious dessert smell in Dad’s direction, to remind him of all that Cook does for him.

Cook found one of those little electric hand fans she uses when the kitchen gets too hot, baked a great peach cobbler, stuck it into one of Brunty’s work boxes and sent him off.

Brunty soon located Dad and, while pretending to dust, the second Dad’s back was turned, Brunty activated the little fan behind the peach cobbler. Dad looked around for a second but then moved on.

Brunty chased after him to his study, flattened himself against the wall outside the door and blew the cobbler smell in once more.

He didn’t realize Dad had exited by the other door, going to the library and by the time Brunty raced there, he almost collided head-on with Dad, who, by then, was coming out.

“So sorry, sir!”

Dad smiled and went and found my mother.

“Do you think Brunty might be lonely?” he asked her.

“I don’t see why. He has Mrs. Brunty and us and all of the staff.”

Dad still seemed concerned, though.

“Then I think he may be stalking me.”

“How can you tell?” Mom pointed out reasonably. “Pretty much his entire job is just to lurk.”

She had a point there.

Dad went back towards his study, when, suddenly, Brunty leaped out again.

He misjudged his closeness, however, and realizing that Dad could easily see the peach cobbler in his work box, he decided the only way he could hide it fast enough was to sit on it.

Brunty flopped down hard and his face went into a slow grimace, as the peach syrup began to ooze into his pants.

“Uh…you all right, Brunty?”

“Never better, sir. Thank you for asking.”

Dad nodded and finally headed off but not before calling back over his shoulder.

“But let me know the name of that new cologne you’re wearing sometime. Man, that’s good stuff.”

Do not add water to the Cook

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

By Tiber

Everyone can reach his or her limit and Cook reached hers this week. It’s been hard enough for her to creatively cut back on the food expenses, as per Dad’s order. But then, when nature attacked, it was just too much. I know she believes in God. It’s just that her belief is pretty much confined to the conviction that He’s out to get her.

It rained hard here all week. The roof could be leaking for all we know. It would show up first in the attic rooms but since Mom found that unknown old woman up there, nobody really wants to go and check.

What wasn’t debatable, however, was the flood in the kitchen. Cook had worked a long time putting together this tasty but cost-conscious vegetable dish but with her concentration and her thick shoes, she didn’t realize that the kitchen floor was flooded until the water was up to her ankles. She panicked and slipped and before she knew it, her perfectly prepared spinach was drifting away like seaweed. She screamed and took off for parts unknown, while everybody else was called to the kitchen as fast as we could get there.

Kru found the source of the leak while Dad organized a bucket brigade with cooking pots, so we could bail out the water that was already there.

Mom felt somebody should go and try to find Cook but with the house so big, we’ve lost people in here for quite awhile before. Finally, Brunty, the butler, was tapped to look for her. He’s been lost in the house so much himself, he’s probably familiar with rooms we haven’t even seen.

And he did find Cook pretty quickly. She was holed up in the far away and isolated room that was used for the nanny, back when the house was built in the 1800’s and the Victorians not only didn’t want their children heard, most of the time, they really wanted them in another town.

Cook was rocking away in an old rocker, like a maniac, and even Brunty’s news that the water was now out of the kitchen didn’t dislodge her. So he had to take more severe measures and lie. He said it was a real shame that the dinner she’d prepared had been ruined but that without her down there, he’d heard someone say they were going to make a casserole with a topping of processed cheese and pork rinds.

Cook isn’t the youngest person in the house but she was back in the kitchen so fast, you’d think she had crashed downstairs on a fire pole.


The dark of the night, the glow of the butler

Thursday, November 19th, 2009
By Tiber 
Like the rest of Dad’s staff in this economy, his butler, Brunty, knows that now he’d better step up his game in order not to be let go. Most of the other people are doing more of their jobs but with Brunty, what would that be? More standing around?
He did get the idea, though, that one thing everybody does appreciate is a good shine. All he had to do was find out what he could put a good shine on.

Now, everyone’s suddenly skidding down corridors that haven’t seen wax in years. And, rounding a corner, my sister was almost blinded by the glare of a mountain of polished silver that hadn’t been out since the days of Queen Victoria.

Brunty finally made his way to one of Dad’s hats that has an old metal band around the brim and he even polished that.

Dad was oblivious when he headed out across the lawn but the birds weren‘t. To them, that glowing and bobbing hatband looked like a little aircraft carrier landing strip.

Knowing my father, one sentence I thought I would never say about him was that he looked like anyone named “Tippi.” But that actress Tippi Hedron was divebombed in the Alfred Hitchcock movie, ”The Birds” and that’s exactly who Dad looked like.

Brunty could have redeemed himself by running out and saving Dad but, like the rest of us, he was too frozen by the sight.

Only Dad’s evil but ever-faithful assistant, Boyd, raced out, screaming at the birds.

“Take me! Take me instead!”

I guess we should be grateful that at least he did drive the birds away from Dad’s head. But what would it have cost the birds to actually take Boyd with them?

He doesn’t weigh that much and we would have all been more than happy to chip in on a farewell basket of fruit.