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Serving the Peats
Off the Georgia coast was a town called Cyprus. At the far eastern part of its main road sat City Hall, where Mayor Peat worked diligently. On the far western part of the road was the Mayor’s house, a huge Victorian-style mansion with a large wooden door and a brass knocker that resembled a serpent’s head.
Mayor Peat gave his wife her every desire. The Peats had a butler named Phillip and his wife Elizabeth, their cook. While Elizabeth slaved in the kitchen, Philip tended to Mrs. Peat, who was not kind to the couple. She ordered them around like animals, thinking of them as nothing but vermin.
One lazy Sunday, Mrs. Peat lounged by the pool while her husband smoked a Cuban cigar and read the paper.
“Phillip!” Mrs. Peat screamed.
“Yes maam?” Phillip left the garden.
“Phillip, where is my sunscreen?”
“Right here, maam.” Phillip’s wrinkled hands lifted the bottle from the table next to Mrs. Peat’s chair.
“Finally, it took you long enough!”
“Well, well,” Mr. Peat folded the paper backwards. “Looks like F.L. Wright, the man who designed city hall, died this morning.”
“Who cares! “ Mrs. Peat yelled. “Phillip, move the umbrella over there. I need more sun.”
“Yes maam.” Phillip moved the umbrella as ordered.
“Here’s your pina colada, maam.” Elizabeth handed her a drink.
“Elizabeth! Where is your maid’s uniform? I told you never to work without it!”
“You did, maam, but it’s so hot today. I just thought – ”
“You thought!” Mrs. Peat screamed. “Go to the kitchen and don’t come back until you decide to obey me, Elizabeth!”
“Yes, maam.” Elizabeth nodded.
“What ungrateful servants!” exclaimed Mrs. Peat.
As soon as Mrs. Peat was napping, Phillip snuck into the kitchen to check on Elizabeth.
“Do you feel ok?” She was soaking her arthritic hands in ice water, already dressed in her stuffy maid’s uniform.
“I’ll be fine, darling.” Elizabeth smiled at her husband.
Later, as the Peats waited for their lunch, Mrs. Peat complained about the time it took Elizabeth to serve it.
“Phillip! Turn on the radio!” Mrs. Peat tapped her left fingers impatiently.
As the radio buzzed, Elizabeth entered the room.
“Here are your cucumber sandwiches.” She placed a tray on the table.
“Well, it’s about time. We’ve been waiting here at least an hour!” Mrs. Peat huffed.
“It was only five minutes,” Phillip mumbled.
“Excuse me! What was your comment, Phillip?” She glared.
“Nothing, maam.” Phillip left.
Ignoring him, Mrs. Peat noticed that her water did not have a lemon wedge. “Elizabeth! Where is the lemon? I must have a lemon in my water!”
“Sorry, maam .”
“Imbeciles! We don’t ask much! Why can’t those idiotic servants just listen!” She demanded of her husband, but he only sat there.
“Here are your lemons, maam.” Elizabeth placed the lemons by the water glass.
“We don’t deserve this, Beth.” He gritted his teeth as his wife teetered back into the kitchen.
“Phillip, just ignore her.” She patted his hand.
“I can’t ignore her much longer, Beth. And he’s not any better. He just sits there while she treats us like garbage!”
Elizabeth shook her head and blinked her eyes to keep back the tears.
Dinner that night was just like any other night at the Mayor’s house, the aroma of a fabulous feast filled the air, yet Mrs. Peat complained. The soup was too spicy, the bread too cold, the meat not tender, the vegetables overcooked. Eating the Pasta Putenesca, Mrs. Peat remembered the red wine stain on the carpet in the living room.
“Phillip!” She bellowed!
“Phillip, did you get the stain off the carpet?”
“This is not acceptable!” Mrs. Peat slammed her fork on the table.
“Maam, I did try to get the stain. It’s too set. I’ll have to use gasoline to get it. Do you want me to wait until tomorrow?”
“No! Clean it now!” She shrieked!
Phillip fought a smile as he went into the kitchen.
“Elizabeth, go outside.” He spoke firmly.
“What? Phillip, what is it? You’re scaring me.” He went next to her and removed her apron.
“Now, Elizabeth. Go outside. In fact, take a walk. A long walk.” Elizabeth looked at her husband. With a sigh, she left the kitchen and the house.
Phillip moved through the house bolting all doors and windows shut. He went to the garage and got gasoline, which he poured all along the outside of the house. Grabbing an axe from the tool shed and a matchbox, he went to the back door, the only one not bolted shut. He lit the match and dropped it. Soon the Peat’s screams filled the air. Phillip heard them stumbling through the smoke.
As Mr. and Mrs. Peat lurched through the back door, gasping for air, Phillip brought the axe down on Mr. Peat’s skull, spitting his head in two. Mrs. Peat’s eyes widened as her mouth opened to scream but no noise escaped her mouth as Phillip swung the axe again.
In Cyprus, Georgia, the Peat’s murder is legendary, but Phillip, the buttler, and his wife Elizabeth were never found.