The rear porch of the estate was quiet, save for the light chirping of birds and the occasional sound of a glass being placed back on an end table. Rudy Gobert, his feet resting on an ottoman, silently pursed his lips as he perused basketball statistics on his phone. Occasionally, he would reach over and take another sip of wine from the glass; otherwise, nothing distracted him from his study.
“Monsieur Gobert!” came a shrill voice from behind him, causing Rudy to wince in annoyance. “I have located the bottle of wine you requested!”
“That is very well, Remi, but you needn’t speak with such volume,” Rudy chastised his error-prone manservant, who immediately began a series of quiet apologies. Rudy talked over the man’s self-beratement. “Now my summertime relaxation has been interrupted.”
“So sorry Remi is, so very sorry indeed,” Remi blustered, even as he presented the label of the bottle to his master. “My excitement overcame me once again, so eager I am to please Monsieur Gobert with the discovery of a fine vintage thought lost in the wine-cellar.”
Rudy read the label, then nodded once in approval and took the bottle from Remi’s hands. “You did well, Remi. Thank you. I am most impressed that you managed to fetch this priceless bottle without dropping and breaking it.” He set the bottle on the table, intending to return to it when his state of relaxation had been restored. “Now, Remi, I have a question to ask of you, and I want you to answer it truthfully.”
“Of course, Monsieur Gobert, I will always tell the truth when it is asked of me,” Remi replied, doing a slight bow and then pushing his glasses up his nose when he returned to an upright position.
“Am I currently the best French basketball player in the world?” Rudy asked.
Remi seemed ready to immediately blurt an answer, but then remembered the command he had been given, and thought silently for some time. Rudy waited patiently, knowing that Remi often had trouble keeping the many statistics and players of the NBA organized in his memory.
“It seems to me, sir, it seems to me that you are indeed the best basketball-playing Frenchman,” Remi finally said. “Batum, Fournier, Parker, they may appeal more to the casual fan, but none impacts the game as you do, sir.”
“I have come to the same conclusion myself, my dear Remi,” Rudy replied. “To both play for a successful team, as I do, and to be the vital ingredient of that success, as I am – none of my countrymen can claim such standing.” He finished his glass of wine, then stood up and beckoned Remi to follow him. “Come. I have something to show you.”
“Yes, sir!” Remi squeaked, bustling to keep up with Rudy’s long strides. Rudy navigated down the lushly-carpeted hallways of the mansion until he came to a bedroom with its door shut.
“Tell me, Remi, does your dull mind remember what is special about this bedroom?”
“It is the bedroom that Remi was warned never to enter, sir,” Remi answered. “And Remi has obeyed that order dutifully.”
“Correct. And you would agree, Remi, that my standing as the best French player affords me right to certain luxuries?”
Remi was visibly confused by this question. Regardless, he nodded in the affirmative. “Yes, Monsieur Gobert.”
“Then I will show you what is inside,” Rudy said, pulling a key from his pocket to unlock the door. When the door was pushed open, it was hard to see what was inside; all the lights were off, and the window drapes were pulled tightly closed. However, Remi could faintly make out the figure of a person curled up on the bed.
“Antoinette, rouse yourself and meet your colleague,” Rudy called out, flipping the light switch. “I’ve hired a maid,” he then said to Remi. “She was not happy about the arrangements, however.”
When Antoinette, wearing a stereotypical French maid’s outfit, unhappily rolled off the bed and walked towards them, Remi could see that something was very strange about her. Her facial features were distinctly unfeminine, and, for some reason, her hair was askew. “Sir, I don’t mean to question your judgment, but is this not…?”
“Perhaps you are not as clueless as you act, Remi,” Rudy said with a smirk. “It is indeed who you believe it to be.”
“If I may be so forward, sir, I do not see how hiring Tony Parker as a maid makes any sense whatsoever.”
“She now goes by Antoinette,” Rudy corrected. Tony made no attempt to assert his true name or gender; he just stood there looking at his feet, broken, defeated, and emasculated. “This is one of the ‘luxuries’ I was referencing earlier,” Rudy continued, reaching over to fix Tony’s wig. “Now Remi, why don’t you show Antoinette where the cleaning supplies are located, and set her to work dusting the mantelpieces. I fear they have been neglected for some time.”
“At once, sir!” Remi said. He took the morose Tony by the hand and led him away.
Rudy watched the two walk away. “These things are mine by right,” he murmured to himself, giggling. “Now, I believe there is some wine waiting for me.”