One morning, whilst Emile Parker was eating kippers and French toast for breakfast, he saw an article in the local paper that Boris Jones had recently opened a new furniture factory in the area. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. His hands shook with a mixture of fury and indignation as he read. He had been by his father, just as his father had told him, never to trust a Jones; “Never trust a Jones,” he said, “they will always fuck you over.” This was in reference to the feud that had developed between the Parker and the Jones family over a period of two hundred years. It had started with Oswald Jones stealing the patent for a method of refining sugar beet from Gottfried Parker back in the early Nineteenth Century. Since then the two families had been at odds; the children of either would play horrible pranks on each other; and the adults would fight over business opportunities, make attempts at slander and generally try and get back at one another in a game of tit-for-tat retaliation spanning two centuries.

He had known of this new factory that the elderly Boris was attempting to open, but Emile consistently sloughed it off and considered it to likely be a failure. Now he was less certain and he felt something like envy even. He hadn’t felt it necessary to try and stymie this new venture of Boris Jones and now, as he consumed his kippers he felt that he ought to have done something. Slighted him in some way, written a stiff letter to the editor of the Bath Chronicle, complaining. When he had finished his kippers his youngest daughter, Jess, who was seventeen, came down the stairs.
“Okay Dad, I’m off,”
“Okay darling, see you later,”
She was going off to ride her horse, Blossom, at the stables near the outskirts of town; the same stables where Ophelia Jones kept hers. Emile was unsure of what to do with himself for the rest of the day; he thought he might go into town, or even drive around to the new factory to take a look at it. In the end he decided to go to town, he needed to talk to his accountant about some investments he had made recently, and then he would sneak a look at the factory. Walking through Bath that crisp December morning his mind kept turning over the perennial resentment he felt towards anyone with the name Jones. He saw the accountant, Mr. Hendry, and he informed him that his investments were producing good revenues; he informed him also that, in general, his finances were in good order and that no imminent disasters seemed to be looming. He took solace in this, as usual, and reminded himself that whilst he wasn’t as rich as the Joneses he was a better person than the lot of them put together. On his way out of the accountant’s office he bumped into a Jones on the street, it was Oscar; tallish, with black hair; Emile eyed him coldly and Oscar smiled,
“Good morning Mr. Parker,” Oscar said,
“Good morning Mr. Jones,”
“Have you heard about the factory?”
“Yes, I read about it this morning, congratulations,” Emile said, with palpable reticence,
“Did you? Well, that’s very flattering. Thank you Emile,”
“Don’t mention it Oscar,”
“One other thing,” said Oscar,
“My mother was wondering if you’d mind coming round for dinner tomorrow night, perhaps see towards making a truce,” this made Emile very suspicious, what could Margot Jones the matriarch possibly want; was this a trap, or merely an opportunity to gloat? He felt, however, that he couldn’t turn the invitation down, he felt there may be an opportunity in here somewhere to humiliate the elder Joneses, he thought about if for a moment before replying:
“Yes, that sounds very hospitable, we should love to come,”
“Would Jessica be coming as well?”
“Yes, I suppose so,”
“That’s good,”
“Does she get on well with your girl, Ophelia?”
“I think they’re very amicable, yes,”
“I see,”
“Grand, I hope to see you all there,”
“We will be,”
With that Oscar and Emile parted ways and for an instant it seemed as though the resentment had cooled. Oscar was a nice young man, thought Emile, very pleasant to talk to and seemingly very level-headed; perhaps he had been imploring his parents to stop this stupid feud once and for all. It was them, the parents, Boris and Margot, who concerned him the most – Boris, that old jackal had always had it in for him and Margot, well, who could say what goes on in her mind; bats and old bits of string; Emile chuckled to himself. After stopping off at a shop to buy some cigarillos he drove along by the river to see the new factory. There were people milling around the entrance, workers, appearing for their first shifts he supposed. He almost felt like congratulating the Joneses seriously for once, they seemed to be doing something for the local economy; he couldn’t slight them for that. Suddenly he felt a warmth rise in him, something he rarely felt towards the Joneses, some mad hope appeared that perhaps – finally – things were on the mend.

Meanwhile at the stables Jessica was tending to Blossom when Ophelia Jones came over to her and started talking.
“What do you want?” Jessica said,
“Nothing, just to talk,”
“Well, you’re a Jones, dad said never to trust a Jones,”
“It’s just talking,”
“Well, what did you want to talk about?”
“Well, we’re having this dinner tomorrow night and we’re hoping that the feud is going to stop, it’s been going on for way, way, way too long,”
“I know, I hate it, it’s all dad ever talks about,”
“Same here, my mum and dad are always getting drunk and talking about what horrible things they’re going to do to the Parkers, I hate it,”
“Yeah, it’s horrid, I hate the feud,”
“Do you think we could be friends?”
“I don’t see why not, you seem nice,”
“I am nice, I’m not like them, I hate them,”
“This is just our parents bullshit, and their parents before them,”
“I know, we don’t need to suffer because of it,”
“Exactly! This could be fun!”
Ophelia seemed genuinely excited at the prospect of making a new friend and Jessica, although naturally cautious of Joneses, thought that Ophelia was nice and that a friendship could blossom. She had done nothing bad that Jessica knew of and up until this point there had always been an amicable sort of acquaintanceship between them. In short, she had no reason not to trust Ophelia and ultimately decided that they would be friends, and that their friendship would be the turning point of the feud between the Parkers and the Joneses.

Emile had two daughters and a son, Jonathan; the other daughters name was Florence. The family hadn’t seen Jonathan since he turned to drink and drugs three years previously and his whereabouts was unknown. Florence was twenty and she and Jessica would accompany Emile and his wife Prudence to the Joneses house for the meal. As they were getting ready Florence and Jessica went to their father to see what his thoughts were about the coming evening,
“What do you think’s going to happen dad?” Jessica asked,
“I don’t know Jess, I think they’ll all get steaming drunk and make apologies for how they’ve treated this family over the years,”
“How do you know they’ll get drunk?” asked Florence,
“They’re Joneses, all Joneses are raging alcoholics, everybody knows that,”
“Dad, can you tell me about you middle names again?” Jessica asked,
“Why do you want to know?” He asked,
Emile’s full name was Emile Lawrence Wilhelm Tarzan Parker,
“I want to know why you’re called Tarzan,”
“The Parker’s have been using the name Tarzan for over one hundred and fifty years!”
“Why? It’s rubbish,”
“Family tradition!” said Emile, with bluster,
“But where did the tradition come from?”
“It came from a great great uncle or something, it was his idea, I don’t know exactly,”
“Please change it,”
“No, I quite like it, now go and get ready,”
When the four of them were ready they all got into the car and made their way towards the Joneses house. The Jones house was magnificent; it was an old Edwardian manor house that overlooked the valleys outside of Bath. The Parker’s town house was very nice also but it paled in comparison to this. It wasn’t a comparison that Emile liked to make but those faint pangs of envy still bubbled up in him from time to time. Once they had all arrived they walked up to the front door and pulled the bell; Margot herself, who smiled and said “Hello,” with a glass of wine in her hand, she greeted them.
“How are you all?” she asked, leading them through the house,
“Fine, thank you,” said Emile,
“Do you like the house?”
“It’s wonderful,” he said,
“Good, good, I am glad, can I get you anything to drink?”
“Wine will be fine,” said Emile,
“Good,” said Margot, “come into the dining room,”
They entered the dining room to find the other three younger members of the Jones family sitting there, smiling; Oscar, Ophelia and Lawrence; the elder Jones, Boris, was sitting to the side in an armchair beside the fireplace drinking brandy; he didn’t appear to take any interest when the Parkers walked in.
“Come on, please take a seat,” said Margot, “I’m afraid he won’t be joining us, he’s had a few already,” indicating to the elder Boris,
“Not to worry,” said Emile,
“Should be fine,” said Prudence,
“Hello,” said Jessica to Ophelia,
“Hello,” she said in reply,
They all sat down and before long a servant had brought them their drinks. They talked for a while about the Joneses new business venture and about how excited they all were about it, Emile congratulated them all again, with sincerity and Boris gave a “hear hear” from the fireplace before swigging down more brandy. The starters were then brought out, langoustines on a bed of lettuce, and the Parkers ate them enthusiastically. As they did so the conversation turned towards the girls, Margot observed that they both had an interest in horses and that they seemed to be getting along with one another.
“I really do hope all this silliness between us can stop,” she said,
“As do I, it’s really been too long now,”
“Well it does no good to either of us, that’s what I think,” Margot said,
After the starters had been cleared away the main course was brought out swiftly; steaks, sautéed potatoes and vegetables; Jessica, who was sitting next to Ophelia, was served first.
“Oh, excellent, the steaks are here,” said Margot, “I hope you like them rare,”
“We do,” said Emile,
“Good well, do get stuck in. As a sign of our good faith Emile we have been thinking about some potential joint ventures that our families could be involved in,” at this point Emile’s ear pricked up, the idea of going into business with the Joneses might be too much for him, but then there was their money, and the temptation of that couldn’t be ignored.
“The old steel mill,” said Boris, flatly, from the fireplace,
“I see, well, that certainly sounds interesting,” said Emile,
“Yes, it does doesn’t it,”
They all started eating the steak and as they did so the Parkers realized that the meat was somewhat gamey, it had an unusual flavor and they couldn’t quite put their fingers on it.
“Do you like the meat?” Asked Margot,
“Oh, it’s very nice,” said Emile,
“It’s lovely and fresh,” said Margot,
They ate more and after they had eaten about half of the steak Emile selected his moment:
“So, the old steel mill then?”
“Oh for heaven’s sake,” said Margot, “you think we’d ever go into business with a Parker?” she giggled, and all of the Parker’s hearts sank,
“But I…” Emile began,
“Oh no, you were expecting to come here and have us grovel and apologize, weren’t you? Yes, that’s what you wanted, and let me tell you that is never going to happen! We’re Joneses and Joneses never apologize!”
She continued eating the steak, viciously, going “mmm, mmm,”
“Do you like the meat Mr. Parker?” Oscar asked,
“I…wait a minute,”
“When you were eating it,” asked Margot, “did you give any thought as to what sort of meat it was? Could be elk for all you know, or something more domestic?”
“What does she mean Dad?” Jessica asked,
“It’s Blossom,” said Margot, smiling,
“No!” said Jessica,
“Oh no, it really is your horse Jessica,” said Oscar, laughing,
“Yes, I sent the boys up there last night to kill it,” said Margot,
Jessica was on the point of throwing up and/or crying, she had no idea how to react.
“Blossom died screaming Jessica,” said Oscar, smiling horribly,
“You bloody Joneses!” Emile yelled, “You’ve fucked us over again!”
“Haha,” said Boris, coldly, from the fireplace, “Up yours Parker,”
“You’ll never get away with this!” Emile yelled,
“Oh yes we will,” said Margot, “We have excellent lawyers and you’ve just helped us dispose of the evidence!”
“You’re monsters!” yelled Jessica, Ophelia laughed, then all the Joneses, in unison started to make neighing sounds; “neigh, neigh, neigh,”; and continued eating Jessica’s horse like hyenas might. Jessica started to cry and the other Parkers remained still in shock from the whole ordeal. They left there that night with the Joneses swilling wine and howling invective at one another.
“I hate them, I hate them all!” Jessica yelled,
“I know darling, they’re just the worst, aren’t they,” her father said,
“I wish they were dead!”
“I know, I should never have trusted them, they’re Joneses, and like my father always said you should never trust a Jones.”

Image: Two Horses in a Stable Sun by Verschuur Wouterus