Monday, November 17, 2014
We--that is, I, Catherine Earnshaw, my brother Hindley, our maid Nellie Dean, Mumsie, and various other minor characters who aren't that important to the narrative--had waited long and with keen anticipation for the return of my father, Mr. Earnshaw, who had been expected back from his travels that morning.
But now that the midnight hour had come and gone, we wondered if he would appear that night at all. And as time dragged inexorably onward and boredom set in, we had, in fact, begun to lose interest in whether or not he would return or simply stay gone. I'd even found myself nursing a faint hope that something terrible had happened to him such as being eaten alive by a grizzly bear, or alligators, despite the fact that there were none living in England at that time.
Perhaps, I thought, being waylaid by highwaymen and having his head staved in would suffice, as would simply losing his footing in the dark of the rough, windy moors and falling off a cliff. But as the dreary darkness slowly gave way to a cold, approaching dawn, we heard the hoofbeats of Mr. Earnshaw's steadfast old horse Groucho growing nearer to their beloved Withering Heights at last.
Misjudging the distance, Mr. Earnshaw and his steed crashed through the front window of the aged but still warm and inviting mansion which served as our respite from the chilly, almost ghostly maelstrom of unending elemental unrest which we fondly referred to as "the weather" there upon the misty, musty moors which we often trod searching for rock lobsters. The fact that we had never found any rock lobsters and never would, since the Heights were well inland, was merely a frivolous... uhh... oh, never mind. I forgot what I was talking about.
Anyway, Mr. Earnshaw flew backward out of the saddle with the smooth, seemingly intentional grace of a Hollywood stunt performer (which we, of course, had no knowledge of because "Hollywood" had yet to exist for at least two centuries or so) and somersaulted in mid-air right into the large black pot of tomato and roadkill stew that Nellie had been stirring with a canoe oar over a roaring flame in the fireplace.
Thick crimson slop splattered and steamed all over the walls and drenched those nearest the cook pot in rich, savory lunch. The galloping steed, in a state of panic, destroyed every stick of furniture in the room before exiting out the back window and clip-clopping off into the distance, never to be seen again.
Hindley, his face oozing with liquid tomato and other nameless substances, was the most perturbed by the event. He had been expecting Mr. Earnshaw to bring him a piano from London but could tell even from the brief glimpse he'd gotten before the old man disappeared into the stew pot that he carried nothing of the sort beneath his billowing cloak.
In fact, the only thing he'd been carrying was even now clambering out of the pot along with the old man. It was a filthy young street urchin, a boy of Hindley's age but hardly of an equal social standing and thus fit only for endless ridicule and being a fun archery target.
"BLAR har har!!!" exclaimed the old man, cleaning himself off with a squeegee and flinging the excess toward Mumsie, who spluttered in dismay as the great globs came flying right at her face with alarming accuracy. "Look whut I brung yah from the boggy banks of London town! It's a boy named, uhh...err...Porfle!"
"Porfle?" Hindley sneered witheringly. "What the actual flying f***?"
"Oh, all right then," said the old man. "We'll call him Heathcliff, although I was saving that name for the dog."
"We'll call him Porfcliff!" I offered brightly, instantly falling in love with the ragged, horribly ugly, and most likely diseased wretch whom Father had so thoughtfully brought us as a gift. "Oh frabjous day! Hey nonny-nonny, hey nonny!"
"Yes?" said Nonny, sticking her head through the kitchen window. We'd forgotten all about her being there, as we always did since we had no idea who the hell she was anyway.
"Oh, little Cathy," said Mr. Earnshaw. "Leave it to you to come up with the wisest solution to the matter. Yes, he shall be known henceforth as Porfcliff...Porfcliff Earnshaw."
"NO!" Hindley spat indignantly. "I'll not share my last name, much less my legacy, with this BEAST! This disgusting, boil-ridden TROLL! He shall be called Popnecker. Porfcliff Popnecker. You know, like the hemorrhoid ointment." Father nodded gravely, conceding that Popnecker's Hemorrhoid Ointment had indeed been a most welcome application during more than a few distressing "incidents."
And so my one great love in life, Porfcliff Popnecker, became the most wretched creature to drag his filth-encrusted carcass over the floorboards and cobblestones of Withering Heights, constantly working twenty-four hours a day and sometimes overtime at milking the cows and horses and shearing the warthogs and herding the sheep by running around on all fours barking at them (the dog Heathcliff was still a puppy although Porfcliff was training him) and teaching the horses how to dance and shearing the warthogs and driving the cows to Cow School and shaving the warthogs who didn't like to be sheared and generally doing all of the chores that Hindley felt were beneath him, which were all of them, especially if they had anything whatsoever to do with warthogs.
But the thing that made it all worthwhile for Porfcliff was the fact that I loved him more than the sound of Boston cream pies crashing into a mirrored display case full of fine-china-encased hemorrhoid ointments during a llama stampede (a recurring dream that I tended to have whenever I ate fifty hardboiled eggs right before bedtime) and that we would often go romping around across the grassy, windy moors whenever Hindley would give him five minutes vacation every six months.
"I LOVE YOU, PORFCLIFF!" I would say, and he would say "I LOVE YOU, CATHY!", and then we would both say "I LOVE YOU, HEATHCLIFF!" and Heathcliff would say "WOOF! WOOF!" and we would run and run and run until we were, like, sixty or seventy miles away from the Heights and Father would have to send a carriage for us.
In fact, it took us forever to learn to run back and forth instead of simply hauling ass in a straight line until we were in the next county and nobody would feed us or let us sleep in their houses or whatever because they didn't know who the hell we were. "HELP US!!!" I would implore, and they wouldn't help us, so Porfcliff and I HAD to make their houses go on fire!
Anyway, one day out of curiosity I visited our neighbors the Lintons at the Grange next door and they took me in and made a "lady" out of me and I felt like I was too good for Porfcliff all of a sudden so he ran away and didn't come back until he was rich, but by that time I'd married Edgar Linton so Porfcliff got revenge against, like, everybody.
But especially against Edgar Linton, whom Porfcliff referred to as "Poop Head", and Hindley, whose debts Porfcliff bought off, making him master of the Heights, and whom Porfcliff also referred to as "Poop Head." And then a whole bunch of other really sad and tragic stuff happened, and we all died, the end.
But country folk who yet live out on the moors would swear on their Bibles that, to this day, they can hear the ghostly voices of those tortured souls buried in the unquiet earth of the old churchyard, voices still swirling around over the squishy, splooshy moors like the blustery wind, sighing and moaning and screaming "HELP US!!!" and "I LOVE YOU, HEATHCLIFF!" and "WOOF! WOOF!"