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Poker Face Prompt #5: Biography

Prompt: Biography
Characters: Matthew, Jefferson, Jan, James
Word Count: 1386
Notes: Well, most people wanted to hear about Matthew, though from various points of view.  So, take this as an ongoing journal in the family library.  Jefferson wrote the original entry, and Jan and then James put their two cents in.

ETA: Warning for language.  James will be James, especially when it comes to his opinion on his grandparents.

Matthew Bradford
by Jefferson Bradford

My father was not a nice man.  I fully didn’t understand the extent of his nefarious deeds until I was an adult, but even from the time I was small I knew that there wasn’t something quite right about it.  First and foremost, he ignored my sister Lizzie simply because she was a girl and therefore not important in his book.  It’s a shame, truly, because Lizzie had quite a talent for music, and was rather clever.  But since she was not his son and heir, she and her happiness didn’t matter.  I was always aware of how he treated her, but it wasn’t until we were both teenagers that I fully understood the disparity in his affections.

I also saw how he treated his brothers and sisters.  My aunts Anne and Diana were older than him, and therefore out of the reach of his grasping hands.  My aunt Henri and Uncle Alex, on the other hand, all fell victim to his schemes in one way or another.  Poor Aunt Henri ended up marrying one of Father’s professors, since Father was convinced introducing the vile Professor Hutchins to a pretty young slip of a woman and helping him make her his wife would improve his marks.  It did, but it broke poor Aunt Henri.  I never knew her before she was Mrs. Hutchins, but everyone around me told how of the old man had broken her spirit.  Uncle Alex and Aunt Katie, his lovely wife (despite what Father would say about her heritage), ended up moving across the country to get away from him.  He tried to influence Aunt Phily, but she would have none of it, and was the only one of his siblings to stand up to him.  He banished her from the house from that day forward (how I remember that day! Such yelling and screaming the likes of which our house had never seen before!), though that didn’t stop her from meddling when she could.  She became a good friend to Lizzie, and when we went off to college, Aunt Phily and Aunt Henri often had us over for dinners.

Father was cruel to me, even though I was saved from the worst of his wrath by being his eldest and only son.  He and Mother (well, mostly Mother) did their best to influence who I would marry, and they nearly succeeded.  When I eloped with Marsha, I feared the worst, but Father was shockingly calm.  He even became somewhat accepting of Marsha when our firstborn turned out to be a son, James.  Still, he was ever critical of everything that the children, Marsha, and I did, to the point that the children hated to be around him.  It was a great relief to all of us when he passed, though we did the proper thing and put on mourning for him (that, and we didn’t wish to bear the tongue-lashings from Mother had we not done so).  I suppose he must have accomplished some good things in his life time, but I cannot say what they are.  He was my father, and I loved him because of that, but I did not like the man.

by Jan Danaher Bradford

My mealy-mouthed son has no idea of what he’s talking about.  My Matthew had his faults, as all men do, but he was a blessing to the Bradford family.  Before he came of age, his father, Thomas, was doing nothing to ensure that the name of Bradford retained the high esteem that it had held in the town of Simsfield since John Bradford arrived in the days when Massimchusetts was still a colony of the Crown.  I would go so far as to venture that aside from John Bradford, Matthew was the finest Bradford ever.

As the eldest son, he knew his duty was to ensure that the line remained respectable, and that it continued.  He did his best to make sure everyone was respectable, starting with his siblings.  His eldest two sisters married well, though that Anne insisted on involving herself with suffragettes and the like, and nothing Matthew said to her husband could dissuade her from doing so.  Thank goodness Diana was content to fulfill the role of wife as a woman should.  Henrietta, Philomena, and Alexander were different stories entirely.  Henrietta was bringing shame to the family with her outrageous flirting, so Matthew stopped it by finding her a husband.  Certainly, he was not the best prospect out there, but with her reputation she could really not afford to be picky.  Alexander married someone far beneath him, but after Matthew put him in his place he headed West, therefore removing his scandalous marriage from our sight.  Philomena, well, she refused all Matthew’s help to find her a suitable husband and remained a spinster.  She and my Matthew had quite a row about it one day, and she never darkened our door after that.  Thank goodness; such a woman should not have been an influence on my children.

As was right, Matthew lavished Jefferson with everything the young man could have wanted.  He ensured that he studied enough to get grades worthy of continuing the family tradition of attendance at SimHarvard.  With my assistance, we did our best to make sure he met the right people, and to facilitate his marriage to an appropriate woman.  When Jefferson went against our wishes, that’s when things started to go wrong.  Matthew got soft, especially when the chit produced a son on the first try.  He actually started to like her, the idiot.  Though I don’t supposed I can blame him.  She managed to wile her way into Jefferson’s life after our carefully laid plans for him, so it was no wonder that she worked her evil magic on my husband as well.

Still, when Jefferson proved to not be the parent he should be, Matthew stepped up to help shape the grandchildren into people worthy of the Bradford name.  It was on such an occasion when he suffered a heart attack, and died.  I blame Jefferson entirely.  Matthew should have been allowed to live out his days in leisure, not trying to correct faults in the children that Jefferson and Marsha had failed to curb.

2nd Addendum
by James Bradford

Don’t believe a word of what my crazy old bat of a grandmother wrote.  My grandfather was an asshole, and my grandmother a bitch, and they never did understand how the real world works.  Sure, I guess in the Victorian days propriety was important, but I never heard about people gossiping about my family, other than to rant and rave about how fucking crazy my grandfather was.  Maybe if he’d actually tried to listen to people…but that would have gone entirely against his character.  He cared about himself first, second, third, and then the family name came in maybe fourth.  Even I could see that Aunt Henri was such a flirt because she was looking for the love and acceptance she didn’t get because her twin brother hogged it all, and that Aunt Phily wouldn’t have married a man even if you’d paid her a king’s ransom (I mean, really, she and Miss Meadow adopted Jane together, and NO ONE realized there was something up there?).  And Uncle Alex probably had it up to here with his brother’s shit, so he left.  I didn’t know him or Aunt Katie that well, but from all I heard they were swell folks, and Grandfather was the one in the wrong there.

So ignore what the batshit crazy old lady wrote.  For that matter, ignore what my father wrote too.  He was far too nice for his own good sometimes, and he always gave Grandfather the benefit of the doubt for some stupid reason.  I actually kind of wish the old man had lived a little longer, if only so I could have had the pleasure of telling him that I ran a speakeasy in person.  If that little bit of knowledge shocked my mother, I can only imagine the reaction the old man (and the batshit crazy old bitch, for that matter) would have had to that little piece of information.  Matthew Bradford didn’t ruin the family, and I suppose that’s the nicest thing you can say about him.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 15th, 2013 04:22 pm (UTC)
First, Congrats on finishing!
Second, thanks for the laughs!
Third, I liked this. It wasn't what I voted for, but you did an awesome job at it.
Aug. 15th, 2013 10:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I had fun writing it. I guess people like hearing more about Matthew, even if he was a bastard.
Aug. 15th, 2013 06:26 pm (UTC)
This was hilarious. I loved the addendums, they added a lot to the piece.
Aug. 15th, 2013 10:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks. It struck me that both Jan and James would have a lot to say about what Jefferson wrote, hence the addendums onto his original entry.
Aug. 16th, 2013 01:02 am (UTC)
Yeah, Jefferson's 10 nice points would definitely lead to something MUCH nicer than James's one. Congrats on finishing!
Aug. 16th, 2013 09:28 am (UTC)
Thanks. Yeah, Jefferson's nice points would never allow him to tell the truth, and James only has 1 nice point, so I think the truth is somewhere in between.
Aug. 18th, 2013 10:51 pm (UTC)
I was drinking a cup of coffee when I read this--I had to try REALLY hard not to send my coffee flying all over my computer and keyboard. This is hilarious!
Aug. 19th, 2013 09:52 am (UTC)
:D I'm glad that you liked it.
Aug. 25th, 2013 11:07 pm (UTC)
I really like this. It's fascinating to think what legacy we leave behind us. And again I do feel for Mathew and Jan. They must've felt so misunderstood because of their inability to feel empathy for others. It's a good thing they had each other. They were awful but they had each other's backs. I suppose the nicest thing you can say about them is that they believed what they were doing was right and for the good of the family.
Aug. 26th, 2013 01:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It really is strange to think about how differently people view things, and how that impacts the mark they make on the world. Matthew and Jan were quite the dynamic duo, of a sort. They certainly did think they were doing the right thing...but you know where a road paved with good intentions goes.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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