Tutor, as Mentor to Audrey, our once and future queen, was hired by her mother, Tess, who owns a controlling interest in the world, as a last resort, when all the other options in Wealth Bondage had been exhausted, including temple bells, a family therapist, a Wise Man, a defrocked priest, and a whole troupe of Most Trusted Advisors dressed as clowns. When Tutor had arrived it was down to medical doctors, an iv, and talk of shock therapy, for 8 year old Audrey who would not get out of bed.
The most insubordinate and louche of resources, The Happy Tutor himself, was Tess’s last option. (She had found Tutor in an autographed copy of Erasmus’s Praise of Folly in the Castle library, next to a diary of Rabelais in which Tutor had figured as a drinking companion in their Oxford days. Tutor had once lived in the adjacent Castle, it seems, and had served as Tutor to any number of princes, princesses, saints and moral monsters. Tess had Googled him and found he was still semi-active, at the corner of Wealth and Bondage, in some kind of Dumpster of Broken Dreams, filled with old books, tossed there by the prep school students on the way home at vacation.)
Tess’s attitude to Audrey might be best expressed in her own words, “I would wrap you in cotton batting, if I could.” She had said that earlier when Audrey, testing her cartoon theory of walking on air, if you don’t look down, had walked off an embankment that she called a cliff, and fallen, nearly breaking her neck. As Audrey was helicioptered out to the main land hospital, Audrey had said to Tess, “I am sorry, Momma, I looked down!” To which Tess said, “I would wrap you up in cotton batting if I could.”
Today, Tutor is standing at attention to be dressed down by Tess. Tess heard that he had been seen dropping Audrey on her head. (Which he had been, holding her by her ankles and dropping her on her head from a foot above the floor. Her thick, bushy, hair had buffered her fall, and she loved the game, wanting to do it over and over. Then she had turned the table, telling him that she would hold him by his ankles over the parapet, "to build trust," which she had, before he wiggled back to safety.) "Why did you put Audrey at risk? How dare you?" Tess demanded to know. Tutor said, “To build trust, M’am.” That did not fly, so the question was repeated as, “I hired you to help her not hurt her!” To which Tutor thought fit to reply, “Not all help is helpful, M’am.” That did not fly either, so the question was repeated as, “I hired you to protect my daughter and keep her safe.” To which Tutor thought fit to respond, “There may have been a misunderstanding, M’am.” At this point Audrey came into Momma’s bedroom, and went up to her Tutor, standing at attention, too, to take her share of the blame. Tutor continued, “M’am, this young sprite, is a menace to herself and others. I had assumed my role was to protect the world from her, our once and future Queen.” Audrey reached her little hand up, to hold his. Defiant, together, two against the world, with an eye to saving it. Unbowed even before the wrath of Big Big Momma, she who owns a controlling interest in the world.
We are all playing hurt, protecting ourselves from damage done long ago. Audrey. as you may remember, was conceived in a gang rape on the passed out body of a 19 year math prodigy, on the Trading Floor of Wealth Bondage, at a party in young Tess's honor, to celebrate a trade in which she broke the Bank of Brazil, reducing the country to mob violence, and making $ten billion for WB. All her life Audrey will seek Real Dad. But how can he be found? DNA tests on every trader in NYC? Their random guests? Her Father is Creative Destruction, the Dionysian/Apollian, life/death force that drives the economy, politics, war, art, the moral universe, nature, our biology, and the global economy itself. Tess had never had more than one glass of wine, and three Champaign toasts in her honor at a dinner had been her undoing. Pregnant and ashamed, Tess, already in the Forbes list of wealthiest people, had fled to this remote Castle by the Sea, to hide her face, and her swelling belly. She had vowed that no one would ever hurt her daughter as she had been hurt. A remote Castle quarried from volcanic rock, whose moat is the roiling sea. Seal Team Seven, indeed a small army of mercenaries. 24/7 surveillance cameras in every nook and cranny of the Castle. Background checks on every employee, every visitor. Audrey is about as safe as nearly infinite money can make any child.
But Momma, wary and vigilant as she is, is a good momma, and seeing Audrey standing so tall, to take her punishment, whatever it might be, by her Tutor, prepared to take his, even if it is banishment, how could her heart not melt? “Well, Tutor, you do have a point. How will the world fare, once Audrey inherits it? How can it possible survive?” Hugging her kid, she continues, “He is right, you just might turn the whole world upside down, and for the better, too, but please, Tutor, can you build trust next time in some other way?”