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Chapter 5

The Wilcox House

Brian slept like a baby after Angela left.  He called her to make sure she had arrived home safely. She was also getting ready to go to sleep, exhausted from their weekend romance, but happy.

He went to work the next morning but was not quite up to his usual standard. His boss noticed and asked him if he was in love or something. “You are walking around like in a daze.”

“Well,” said Brian, “I did meet this girl, a wonderful person and I fell in love with her, so you are probably correct.  Sorry boss, I will get on with my job.”

After work, he began thinking about Angela and himself, wondering what the future would bring for the two of them.  Should he buy an engagement ring and ask her to marry him next weekend.  The idea appealed to him, but then again, he had not mentioned Angela to his parents yet.  No, that idea was too premature.  He did not want to rush marriage with Angela.  They needed much more time together to get to know each other, and he did not feel it would be fair to ask her this early in their relationship. Jeepers, they had only had two dates, and even though it was love at first sight, his common sense told him to bide his time and wait.

He called Jim at night and asked him how things went in Brighton, and if he met up with Lora again.

“ I sure did, and I put on my best act.  I asked Lora if I could have another date with her, and she said yes, she liked me.  I need not go into details as to how the rest of the night went, but it was super good. She said she would like to see me again, so I guess Brighton will be my weekend home for now.”

“Well,” said Brian.  “It looks like you may be hitching up with her. I had the most marvelous time here with Angela, and I’m going to Brighton next weekend to be staying at her house, rather than the motel.  I’m looking forward to that.”

“You are falling headlong into love with Angela, aren’t you?

“I guess I am, Jim.  I have never felt that way about a girl before.  She is just marvelous and so unpretentious about her good looks.”

“I’m happy for you Brian.  I hope your relationship will develop in the best possible way.” I’ll see you Friday night at Corner’s, and I guess we will both be in Brighton this weekend.”

“OK Jim, see you Friday night and have a good week at work.”

“Thanks, Brian.”

Thursday night after work, Brian went to see his parents.  He had not seen them for a while, and he wanted to tell them a little about Angela,  just saying he had met a girl and like her a lot.

“That’s good news,” said, Edna.  We have been hoping for a long time that you would meet someone.  Your dad and I are not getting any younger, and we hope to see a grandchild before we pass away.”

“His father Bruce asked if they were going to meet this girl and when?”

“Give it some time, Dad. We need to get to know each other better, but if all goes well, you will meet her soon, and you will love her, I’m sure.

 “I can’t wait for that,“ said Edna. “You have had a few girlfriends since you graduated from college, and some before that, but you never talked seriously about any of them.  This girl you met, what’s her name? I can tell that you are serious about her.  A mother’s instinct, you know.”

Her name is Angela, and she is from Brighton, which, by the way,  is quite a lovely town.

“Oh. So that’s where you have spent your weekends.”

“Well, kind of, mom, but Jim and I also spent a weekend in Banfield and had a great time there.” Jim loves chasing girls, and he has a great time doing so wherever we go for a weekend. You know that we meet every Friday night at Corners bar, and have a few beers together.”

“Is she a working girl and how old is she?”

“Yes, she is a financial adviser, 24 years old. You ask too many questions, mom. I’ll tell you more about her if I keep seeing her, and  get to know her better.”

“Well, I hope you will.  You know we will be going to Florida for a month or so in January. That’s a few months ahead, so maybe you have decided if you want to keep seeing Angela by then.”

“I’m sure I will by then, if not before,” said Brian.  “I’ll be running along now, so you both have a nice evening.  I’ll see you again next week.” He hugged his father, kissed his mother and said goodbye.

Back at the apartment, Brian began to think about a possible future with Angela as his wife, but there were just too many gaps he couldn’t fill.  First, there was his own future as a self-employed electrical contractor.  Should he try and take the risk, using his savings, or should he wait until he has saved some more money?  There was no doubt in his mind that between Angele’s salary and his own, they would have no financial problems.  The problem as he saw it was where they were going to live. Torrington was bigger than Brighton, but Angela owned her house outright, and if they lived there, there would be some savings since he did not have to pay the rent on his apartment. Then there was Angelas desire to be transferred to the BOA bank’s main branch in Torrington.  If she was offered a position there, and she took it, they would have to live here.

He would have to discuss that with Angela over the weekend, but then hell, if he did, she would assume he wanted to marry her.  No, it was better to wait until there was more light on the horizon. He didn’t want to rush her.  Best to keep the romance going and enjoy the passion that they had together at night during the weekends. He knew she shared his feelings and that she loved him.

Friday night he went to Corners Bar, and Jim was there already.

“Hey, buddy! How are things going? You know I may be seeing you over the weekend in Brighton.  Perhaps we could have lunch or dinner together there.  Angela knows Lora,  She has met her at some parties, but she is not her personal friend.”

“Sure,” said Jim. “I’ll ask her, and we can arrange things over the phone after we are there.  I’ll be staying at the motel as usual.”

“OK,” said Brian, “we’ll see you in Brighton.  Call me when you get there after you have contacted Lora. This could become a real nice weekend for all of us.”

Brian left at 9:30 in the morning, expecting to arrive in Brighton at about ten am.  He found her house with the GPS system in his car and honked the horn.  Angela came out and greeted him with a big hug and a kiss. She was wearing a mini-skirt and a lovely red blouse.

“Come on in,” she said and get settled in for the weekend.

Brian was very impressed by the size of the house and the lot it was sitting on.  There was nothing small about anything.  Inside, the rooms very spacious and exquisitely furnished.  There was three bathrooms, including two in suits, a huge living room, separate dining room, a library that also served as an office and a huge kitchen with every conceivable appliance and plenty of counter space.  He now understood what Angela meant when she said that the house was too big for her alone.

“Well, what do you think of this place?”

“I could never afford to buy a place like this.  It’s a fabulous house.  How do you manage to pay for the upkeep of it and the property taxes?”

“Oh, I manage OK.  There is little in the way of maintenance since it is a stone house and the garden I love to look after myself, although I have contracted out lawn moving.”

“Well, you are sure doing a great job on the garden, It looks lovely.”

“I would like to make a lunch for you a bit later.  What would you want to eat?”

“Whatever you make will be fine with me.  I’m not too hungry for food, but I could eat you alive.”

“Don’t put ideas in my mind, Brian. I may just ask you to do that right now.”

“Down boy, down,” said Brian it’s not time yet.

Anglea laughed out loud and walked into the kitchen with Brian following her.

“How about a Spanish omelet or huevos rancheros?

“The latter sounds great. I make it once in a while, using Chipotle peppers, which are hotter than hell, plus red onions and tomatoes. Perhaps you make it differently, but that’s fine with me. There is more than one way to skin a cat like they say.”

Brian sat down at the kitchen table, and Angela gave him a beer.  They chit-chatted about a whole lot of things and enjoyed each others company.

“By God, Brian, I wish you were living with me here all the time, but I guess that isn’t possible as things are now. You have your job in Torrington, and I have mine here in Brighton. Perhaps the future will have a solution to this conundrum.  I love you so much it hurts, Brian.  I never thought I could love anyone as much as I love you.”

“Sweetheart, I love you as much as you love me.  I hope we can keep these feelings and enjoy our lives in the way we do right now. Let’s see what the future has in store for us. I told my parent’s about you and mom just got super excited,  figuring you were going to be her daughter in law.  I had not suggested that, but she said something about a mother’s instinct.  It must be the way I had described you.  She had also wondered where I was going on weekends.”

They had lunch together and continued talking about their past lives.

Brian’s phone rang. It was Jim calling.

“Hi Brian, how are things? I’m with Lora right now, having lunch and I suggested that we perhaps could have dinner together tonight.  What do you think?”

Brian turned to Angela and told her what he had said.

“That sounds great to me, but I have an alternative idea. Why don’t we all spend the afternoon here at the pool?  We can order something to eat later, and I have lots of beer and booze on hand.”

Brian related what Angela had said, and both Jim and Lora thought the idea was great. “Don’t forget to bring your swimwear,” he said ending the conversation.

“Angla, you didn’t show me the swimming pool.  Where is it?”

“It’s out in the back garden. Come, I’ll take you there.”

Angela showed him what must have been close to an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an elegant deck surrounding, a part of which was furnished with patio furniture.

I’ll go get my swimwear. I keep it in the trunk of my car since I go swimming on weekends sometimes.” said Brian. “This will be a nice way to spend the afternoon.”

Lora and Jim showed up about half an hour later.  The first thing Jim said when he entered was “Oh my God, this is some house,” and Lora liked it too.  They all went out to the pool area after they had changed into their bathing suits. Lora wore a mini-bikini so tiny that it left nothing to the imagination.  Angela’s bikini was more of a standard type, flaming red and fashionable, and she looked great in it, very sexy and attractive.

Angela had arranged several bottles of beer in a bucket of ice, and there were a variety of bottles of liquor on a table, together with glasses and ice.

“Let’s hit the pool,” said Jim, and they all jumped in, swimming, frolicking, laughing, and splashing at each other like kids. Kisses and touching made it sexy and intimate at times.

After a while, they went over to the tables and dipped into some drinks and beer. “Boy,” said Jim, “this is the life. I could tolerate this permanently.”

Angela and Lora sat down next to each other and began talking. I know we have only met at some parties before, and I don’t really know you well, Lora.  Do you have sister or brothers?”

“No, I’m an only child. My father owns the golf and country club, and it keeps him very busy. We have a nice house, but not as beautiful as yours.  My mother also stays active with the country club, organizing events and parties, so I spent a lot of time alone or with my girlfriends.  I graduated from high school here and went to a secretarial school afterward, but never took a job after I graduated.  I work for my father now and then, but otherwise, remain a girl, probably quite spoiled, but I’m no push-over, and I don’t hang out with guys who do drugs or other stupid things. Jim is the first guy I have seriously fallen for, and I hope our relationship will continue. He seems such a decent, uncomplicated guy.”

“I don’t know Jim that well, other than what Brian has told me about him.  The two of them have been friends since they were school kids. I look at both of them as being “the salt of the earth, unpretentious, honest, hardworking and highly likable.  They are the kind of persons I like to be with.”

“Well, what about you and Brian. I can tell you are in love with him and he with you.  Do I hear wedding bells in the future?”

“Brian has not asked me to marry him, but given time, I think and hope he will. I’m head over heels in love with him.”

“Hey!” Shouted Angela, what would you all like to eat? Home delivery, so choices are limited to Chinese, Italien or from a Canadian Restaurant called “Best food” who also delivers? You can get their menu on their website.”

“Let’s check out their menu on the website,” said Lora and Jim agreed. They all ordered different meals from it, and the food was delivered within an hour.

Angela had turned the stereo on and chosen some nice dance music. The atmosphere grew more romantic, as darkness slowly fell upon the scene. They danced, drank, ate, kissed, fooled around, and just thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

It was early night when Jim said it was time for Lora and him to leave, but Angela objected, saying that we have all been drinking and shouldn’t drive. If you like, you can sleep in one of the bedrooms here.

Jim looked over at Lora and asked what she thought of that. She nodded and said that would be perfectly OK.

 “We should go inside and change, and then perhaps have some coffee and a nightcap before we retire for the night,” said Angela.

They all agreed.  Angela showed Jim and Lora the bedroom they would be sleeping in and then walked to the master bedroom where she and Brian would be sleeping.  They both got into their clothes, and Brian noted that Angela was wearing her mini-skirt again. His imagination run wild when he thought about how to undress her later, for he planned on doing that.

Downstairs, Angela made coffee and asked if anyone wanted a drink to help themselves at the bar. They cuddled up on the couch and the armchairs and chatted about their lives and what ambitions they had. Lora looked cute in her shorts and tight blouse, and Jim sat very close to her with his arm around her. There could be no doubt as to what they would be doing later in their bedroom, but then Brian and Angela had similar plans.

The night had drifted toward eleven o’clock, and they all retired to their Bedrooms.

Brian kissed Angela passionately, then lifted her up and threw her on the bed. She gasped, but Brian was on top of her and unbuttoned her blouse, exposing her bra.  He took the straps and pulled them over her shoulders, turned her around and undid the bra, then turned her again and began fondling and kissing her breasts.  Angela moaned and writhed with pleasure as Brian kissed his way down to her belly.

He pulled her miniskirt up and tore her panties off.

“Oh my God! you shaved all your pubic hairs off.”

Yes, I did.  I haven’t looked like this since I was ten years old, but I’m no longer an unknowing, innocent little girl.

Brian pulled her miniskirt off, and she now lay naked in front of him.  He began fondling her naked pudendum, using his hand, his fingers, and tongue. Angela moaned in ecstasy, shuddering with pleasure.  “Brian, I love you, I love you.”

Brian was as hard as he could be and plunged into her.  She screamed in frenzy and arched her back toward him, urging him toward greater pleasure with each stroke he made. Suddenly he stopped, pulled out and went down on her, kissing and fondling her smooth shaven pussy again. She moaned. “Brian, you are driving me crazy.  Oh God, how I love you.”

He turned her over, spread her legs and entered her dogie style  Brian just groaned with pleasure and climaxed just as he could feel Angela was reaching an orgasm.  They both fell into a  state of euphoric trance, laying hugging each other tightly and savoring the moments.

They both slept till near noon the next day, showered together and then went down to make some brunch.

“Brian, I’m starved. How about you?”

“Me too; I can eat a ton of something with bacon and eggs.

“How about some stir-fried vegetables with scrambled eggs and bacon?”

“That sounds great, but how about Jim and Lora? I don’t know if they are awake yet.”

“Call Jim on his cell and find out.”

“They are finished showering and will be down in a few minutes,” said Brian.

“I’ll make coffee in the meantime and prepare some vegetables. Brian, can you beat a bunch of eggs to scramble? About eight or so. Also, there is some bacon in the fridge.  I guess we can each eat two or three slices.”

“Also, Brian, the way you made love to me last night was rapturous, incredibly exciting.  I can’t describe how much I love you and it calls for a repeat again, hopefully very soon.”

“You won’t have any trouble persuading me on that score, and Angela, it was just as exciting for me.  I was going wild and couldn’t get enough of you. You being shaved down there was a huge surprise, and I don’t mind if you keep it that way.”

“I promise you I will if you promise me to treat it the way you did last night.”

Jim and Lora came down the stairs and greeted us with a cheerful Good Morning.

Hey! How are you guys?  Did you have a good sleep?

“What do you mean ‘sleep,’?” said Lora.  I can’t sleep as long as I have Jim next to me in bed.  We had a beautiful night, and I have no hesitation to say that I love him. We have decided to get together in Torrington next weekend.”

Let’s have some breakfast guys, it’s ready.”

Everyone sat down at the table and tore into the prepared food.  Jim said it was great, as did Lora.

You will be leaving soon, Jim and Brian will too. I’ll be sorry to see you go.  It was great having you, and I hope we can repeat this weekend another time.

“Angela, I would like to become one of your personal friends.  You are such pleasant person,” said Lora.

“By all means, Lora.  We must get together during the week sometime.  Call me when you want to go for lunch.”

“Will do,” she said. I look forward to it.”

It was two PM, and Jim asked Lora if he could drive her home before he headed south to Torrington, to which she agreed.

Brian said he would leave later in the afternoon, as he wanted to talk to Angela about some things.

“OK,” said Jim, we’ll be off then and thanks for your hospitality, Angela, perhaps we can have a repeat sometime.”

“There is no reason why we couldn’t.”

Jim and Lora took off in his car.

Angela and Brian sat down at the pool and talked about their deepening relationship and how to keep it going the way it was in the last few weeks and about the potential future. They both agreed to keep it going for several months before they decided on what to do.

Brian packed his bag and passionately hugged and kissed Angela before heading for Torrington.

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Brian was window shopping when he saw her reflection in the glass. She stood on the other side of the street, looking toward him, dressed in a short, summery light yellow skirt and a medium green blouse.  Her hair was black, straight and very long, nearly down to her hips.

He turned around and looked straight at her.  She was beautiful, young, about his age or slightly younger, with the built of a model. She glanced briefly at him and then walked up the street.  He followed her with his eyes, wishing he could get to know this raven-haired exquisiteness, but quickly brushed the idea out of his mind.  Someone like her would have her choice of boyfriends, and surely, he would not qualify.

A week went by, and he did not see her again.  He knew she was not from his town since he would have seen her before.  A girl with her looks would not go unnoticed.

Tonight it was his turn to buy drinks for Jim, his best buddy, at Corner’s Bar.  He arrived at 8:00 in the evening and Jim was already there. We ordered drinks, and then I told him about the girl I had seen, giving him exquisite details of her looks.

“Man, she must have been something to look at,” he said. “I wonder where she is from,”?

“Well, as you no doubt know, she is not from here,” I said.

“If she were, I would have tried to get to know her, but nothing like that is to be found in this town.  Perhaps she is from Banfield or one of the other towns north of here.  I’ll drive to Banfield and check around.”

“We can both go on the weekend, ” said Jim. “I know Banfield quite   well, and  there is as Inn there called “The Arrow Head,” which I’m sure you will love.”

“OK said Brian, let’s make that a deal.”

They left in Jim’s car Saturday mid-morning and arrived in Banfield within an hour.

“This is a nice town,” said Brian. “I have only ever been here once before and never looked around the town the way we just did.”

“Well, let’s go and get our rooms at the Arrowhead Inn.”

“Sounds great,” said, Brian, “Let’s go.”

After registering, they went walking around town just to see if by any chance they would run into the dark-haired beauty, but after a couple of hours looking in most parts of the city, they came up empty-handed and returned to the Inn.

“Well,” said Brian, “Let’s not waste the trip entirely.  We can go pub-hopping after supper and check the local chick scene.”

“Splendid idea. Maybe there are some better-looking birds here than back home.  Virgin hunting grounds.”

“Sure man,  nothing like picking flowers in a fresh garden.”

They both retired to their rooms to relax for a while and then met again in the Inn’s dining room to have their dinner.

“The steaks here are excellent,” said Jim. “I had a rib eye steak here last time I visited.”

“Nah,” said Brian, “I think I’ll have the Chicken Gordon Bleu.”

They each had a beer while they waited for the meals to arrive.

“You know, I wish we had a photo of the girl.  If we ask somebody in the pubs if he or she have seen this girl, all we can do is give a physical description of her,” said Jim.

“If I describe her the way she looks, I don’t think anyone could confuse her with someone else.  Her looks are so unique that no-one else can compare to her.”

“I guess perhaps not, but it’s the old story, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’; maybe someone took a picture of her here in town if she is from here or visited here. We can ask around in the pubs or bars when we get to them.”

They finished their dinner while talking about this and that, paid the bill and left.

Walking down the main street, they came upon a pub called “The Black Swan.”

“This looks good,” said Jim. “Lets hit this one.”

“OK, this is as good a start as any,”

Inside there was a sizable crowd around the bar counter, and the place was thick with cigarette smoke. Everyone was talking loud, and music was blaring from a couple of speakers. Some patrons already showed signs of having had one or two too many.

Brian walked up to the counter and ordered two beers and brought them over to the table that Jim had secured for them.

“Look,” said Brian, “we have to mingle with the crowd at the bar counter and ask questions about the girl.  That’s what we came here for, isn’t it?”

Sure, lest go and hang at the bar counter.  Bring your beer, and we can just casually ask some of the guys if they had seen a girl according to the description we give them.”

Brian said Hi to the guy he was standing next to, and they small talked for a while before he asked if he had seen a girl that looked like the description he gave him.

“No, I sure haven’t, but I would love to meet such a beauty.  There is no such a looker in this town that I know of.”

Brian looked down at Jim, who was further down the counter, but Jim just shook his head.  He had not had any luck so far.

Walking further down the bar counter he found a space next to a guy who looked sober enough to listen.

“Hi, my name is Brian, I’m from the next town down the road. I’m here with a friend of mine to check out the pubs and bars in town.”

“My name is John.  I’m a welder and work for a construction company.”

“Good steady work I guess,” said Brian, “but tell me have you by chance ever seen a girl like this, describing the girls looks to him.

“No, I sure haven’t“ but the description of the girl you gave me, reminds me of something a buddy of mine said. His name is Bob and the other night, he got a bit sloshed here and began rambling about some gorgeous chick he had seen. I just ignored it as being drunk talk. Bob is due to come here shortly if his habits remain the same. He is a machinist and work for the same company as me.”

“We can hang around for a while to see if Bob comes in later,” said Brian. The fellow down there with the blue shirt on is my buddy, Jim, and we both live in Torrington, just an hour’s drive south of here.”

Why don’t I call him over here, and the three of us can sit at a table and have a beer together,” said Brian.

“That would be OK,” said John.

Brian waved at Jim and gestured for him to come over, which he did. After introducing him to John and explaining the reason for it, they sat down at a table and ordered some beers.

Half an hour later, John pointed to a guy just coming in the door and said: “there he is.” and gestured for him to come to the table.

“Bob, this is Brian and Jim from Torrington.  They came up to see if they could find a girl they have been looking for.  They gave me a description of her, and that reminded me so much about the girl you were rambling about last Friday, when you were I bit pickled.  Tell them about the girl you saw.”

“Hello, Brian and Jim.  Well, it’s like this.  I was going home from work last Friday, and I saw this totally unbelievable gorgeous girl walking up the street.  I wanted a closer look at her, so I followed her, walking about 50 feet behind her.  Man! She had a body like a movie actress, and her long, flowing black hair was magnificent. I followed her for a while, but she turned down a side street, and when I got there, she was nowhere to be seen. It was like she had vanished in thin air.  I thought she might have gone into one of the houses on that street and hung around for a while, but then gave up and walked home.  That night I came here to this, my favorite pub, and got a bit drunk.  Perhaps I began yapping about the girl, I don’t remember, but I never saw her again.  I know she is not here from Banfield.  I would have seen her before.”

“Well,” said Brian, “I had the same kind of experience, although I did not follow her.  She is not from Torrington, and if she is not from here either, where is she from.  This is all becoming a mystery.”

They ordered a few more rounds of beer and then parted company, agreeing they should meet again sometime.

Jim and Brian headed for the Arrow Head Inn and decided to stay another night since they had both been drinking. They left early the next morning, returning to Torrington.

While driving home during the morning, they talked about the mysterious girl and Brian suggested they should dig deeper into this by going to another nearby town next weekend. They both agreed to that in addition to meeting at Corner’s Bar next Friday night to plan the details of it.

Brian couldn’t help asking himself what in hell he was doing pursuing the whereabouts of this girl.  He didn’t known her, but there was something about her that intrigued him.  Why was she seen in two towns so far, yet no-one had talked to her, and she appeared to vanish in thin air.  It was easy enough just to think of her as a casual visitor or tourist, yet the circumstances of her sudden appearance and then disappearance was just too intriguing for him to let the matter pass. Jim seemed equally enthusiastic about investigating this mysterious situation further. Besides that, they had both enjoyed the outing to Banfield, and a repeat of that to another town would be desirable.

Friday night came around, and Brian went to meet Jim at Corners Bar.  He had not arrived yet, so he sat down at a table, ordered a beer and waited for him to show up.

Half an hour later Jim came through the door and walked over to the table where Brian was sitting.

“Hi buddy, how are you?”

“Fine,” I had a busy week at work and could do with a bit of time to unwind.”

“Me too, I bought a map so we can decide which town to go to next.  There is one called Brighton, some 30 miles north of Banfield.  It would be no more than one and a half hours drive from here.

“Is it a big town?” asked Brian.

“I looked it up on the internet, which states it has a population of 74,000.”

“That’s a fair sized small town.  There should be hotels, restaurants, and bars there” said Brian.  We can go there tomorrow if you want,”

“sure, why not.  We might have a good time there like we had in Banfield, and we get to know some more towns north of us. We have both been visiting a bunch of places south of here, but not to the north, so it serves as an excellent time to get to know them.  I’m all for it.  If we don’t find her, maybe we can find another couple of hot chicks.”

“There is bound to be some nice girls in a town that size and I wouldn’t mind laying my hands on one of them. I’m as horny as a bullfrog in springtime, if not more so.”

Well, buddy, you are not the only one.  It’s been a while since I have touched a fair-haired pussycat. In fact, I would settle for a brown or dark-haired beauty, as long as her pounds well distributed on her body, a real voluptuous type.”

“You may be setting your standards a bit high.  Most of the girls today tend to carry a few extra pounds around the waist, and some with generous spare tires- love handles, or doughnuts as some prefer to call them.  The real good looking chicks often play hard to get, and neither you nor I qualify as super good looking guys. If you lower your standards a bit, you may have better luck in your pursuit, but hell! have a go at whatever your eyes desire.”

They left for Brighton the next morning, arriving at mid-day. Jim suggested they drive around town for a while to get a feel for it.  They found two motels, but no Inns.  One of the motels with the screwy name. “Pearly Dreams” seemed better than the other they looked at, so they decided to book their rooms there.  It seemed most of the pubs and bars were located in the center of town on two parallel streets a block apart.  That would make bar-hopping easy.

The motel was not far from the downtown area, so they decided to walk there, rather than drive. By nine in the evening they were scouting out the bars and decided first to try one called ‘Roosters Bar.’ It was half filled with people, but it was early yet and sure to improve.

The layout of the bar was impressive.  The counter was shaped like a horseshoe with a bottle shelf, stacked with an abundant supply of liquor, closing it in at the end.  Tables were placed along the walls on both sides of the bar, and numerous paintings of roosters adorned the walls.

I’m going to sit on the left side, and you can try out the right side, Jim.  Just ask casually, as usual, if anyone knew of a girl, giving the description of her as usual.

Brian looked around, after ordering a beer, and began by asking the guy next to him if he had ever run across a girl, describing her, but no luck.  He asked a few more patrons, but no-one had seen her.  He looked over at Jim and saw him engaged in conversation with a young man.  He caught his eye, but Jim just shook his head, meaning he had no luck either.

Jim came over to Brian’s area and told him he had asked a bunch of guys, but none had ever seen nor heard of a girl of that description. I was, however, talking to a young fellow who told me that if I wanted to chase the girls, the most popular bar in town was Fred’s Bar and Grill over on the next street. That’s where most of the girls hang out

Well, let’s head over there.  I like this bar, but we are here for a specific purpose, and the bar you described is as good a target as any.

They both walked over to Fred’s Bar and Grill and were met by quite a hullabaloo when they entered.  The place was nearly full and smelled of grilled food, cigarette smoke, and stale beer, but what the hell, could one expect anything less in what otherwise appeared to be a cheap bar.  There were quite a few girls there, anything from pretty to ordinary, and Jim surveyed the scene with a discriminating view, trying to decide which girl he would pursue.

There was no particular place either of them could sit, so they just took a seat wherever they could find one.  Brian could see that Jim’s primary interest was chasing the girls, so he began asking the question about the voluptuous girl and if anyone had seen her.  The answer was always no, I sure haven’t.

All of a sudden, Jim gestured to him to come over where he was sitting, and I walked over there.

Brian; Listen, he said.  This girl here tell me that she knows a guy who had shown her a picture on his cellphone that kind of matched the description I had given her. He is sitting over there, she had said, pointing to a an average looking guy sitting a couple of chairs down the bar counter.

Jim, we have to check that out.  Let’s go and buy him a beer and ask him about the picture. They both walked over to the guy and introduced themselves.

This girl over there told us you have a photo of a girl that perhaps matches the description of one that we have met in our home town of Torrington.  “Is there any chance that we could see it?”

“Sure.” Said the guy.  My name is Richard, and I’m born in this town. I know a lot of girls here, but one day, I was walking down the street, when I saw this totally gorgeous girl walking toward me.  I had my cellphone in my hand and quickly took a photo of her. I took a few seconds to check and see how well it turned out, and it was just fine, but when  I turned around to see if I could approach her and perhaps ask her for her name, she was no-where to be seen. It was like she had vanished in thin air.

“Can we see the photo?”

“Sure, no problem,”

He took out his cellphone and showed them a photo of a girl with long, black hair,  wearing a short, light yellow skirt and a medium green blouse.

“Oh my God, that’s the same girl I saw in Torrington.  No doubt about it” said Brian.  Look at it Jim, this is the girl, and she is wearing the same clothes as she was when I saw her a couple of weeks ago. Is there a chance I can get a copy of the photo, Richard?”

“Sure, why not?  give me your cell number, and I will send you a copy via messenger.” I have shown it to a lot of people in town, but no-one have seen her, so I kind of just gave up, but kept the photo as a memento. Why are you so interested in this girl?”

“Well, it’s like this.  I saw the girl in Torrington, where both Jim and I live.  She was seen by another person in Banfield, just south of here and now by you, here in Brighton.” She is not from any of those three towns and seems to vanish in thin air, just after she was seen.  The remarkable part is that in she was only seen by one person in any one of the three towns. No-one knows who she is, nor where she is from. She is a complete mystery girl and my buddy Jim, and I are very intrigued by her.”

Brian’s phone signaled that an incoming message had arrived and when he checked it, it was the photo of the girl send to him by Richard. He thanked him for it and then told Jim that there was no point in checking anyone else if they had seen her, since Richard had done so extensively, without any luck.

“Suits me fine,” said Jim.  “I just got to know a chick over there, pointing in the direction where he was sitting before, and I would like to get better acquainted with her.” Don’t wait for me, I’ll make my own way back to the motel.

“Good luck, I hope you make out OK.  I’ll look around a bit myself and see if there are any fish that might bite.”

Brian decided to go back to The Rooster bar since he liked the atmosphere there better. No sooner had he entered the bar and sat down, when a girl came over and said:  ” Didn’t I see you here earlier?”

You sure did.  My name is Brian, what’s yours?”

“My name is Angela.  Where are you from?”

“I’m from Torrington, just south of Banfield.  Me and my buddy, Jim came up here to do a little exploration.”

I was kind of sorry to see you leave, Brian. I took a bit of a liking to you when I saw you.

“Well, Angela, I’m here again.  Can I buy you a drink?”

“Gin and Tonic, please.  I like that drink. What about you?”

“I’m mostly just a beer guy.”

“What do you do for a living?”

“I’m an electrician and have been so since I was 20 years old. I like my profession, and it provides me with a good income. My buddy Jim is a machinist, and he also make a decent living.  We have known each other since we were school children.  He is a real decent guy.”

“It’s good to have a close friend.  Most of my girlfriends are casual, rather than close, with two exceptions, and like your friend, I have known them since we were children. We grew up in the same neighborhood, played together, dreamed about what the future would bring and chased the boys.”

“So, what do you do for a living?”

I’m a financial consultant at the BOA bank, the local branch here in Brighton.  It’s a good job, and I love it.  There is a large branch in Torrington where you live, but then that town is much bigger than this.  I would like to get a transfer to there, but there are no openings right now.

“Well,” said Brian “ that’s interesting for there are three branches of BOA bank in Torrington, including the main branch you are talking about.  I do my banking there.”

“Angela, you are an interesting and pretty girl. I would like to become your friend.”

“I have had several boyfriends during the last couple of years, but none of them worked out.  Perhaps we should become friends, for I like you a lot, in fact, I can say that you are the first one I have met that I liked right away.”

“That sounds like a promising beginning, but I’m going to ask you a straight question. Are you a virgin?”

“No,” said Angela “and I don’t think you would expect me to be.  I’m 24 years old, and yes, I like sex.”

“Well. That’s good to know, and I might want to take advantage of that.”

“I’m not saying yes or no to that. We can feel our way through it.”

“OK Angela, but I have to tell you that Jim and I are returning to Torrington tomorrow afternoon,  We both have to work on Monday.”

“I figured that, but we still have the rest of the night.

“We both have rooms at Motel Pearly Dreams.  I know Jim is chasing a girl over in Fred’s Bar and Grill and he will likely succeed.”

“Brian, you rascal, are you sure you are not doing the same?”

“I refuse to answer that question, since it may tend to incriminate me, but don’t get mad at me if I ask you to come with me to my motel room.”

“Ask me later,” said Angela.  You never know what will happen.”

“OK, that’s a deal.  Now, how about another drink?”

“Yes, please, the same as before.”

“Does your parents live here also, Angela?”

“No, they were both killed in a boating accident four years ago.  I have a brother, but he works in Africa as a mining engineer, and I rarely hear from him.*

“I’m sorry to hear that you lost your parent. My parents are still alive, and they live in Torrington on the outskirts of town.  They are both retired. I’m their only child, and I have a wonderful relationship with them. My dad was an accountant and mom worked in a department store for many years.”

It must be great to have your parents still.  I miss mine immensely and feel very lonesome at times.

“Well, Angela, I can sure appreciate how you feel.  I would be lost without my parents, but I know I won’t have them forever.

“It’s getting late, and the bar will close soon.  I would like to be so presumptuous as to ask you to come with me to the Motel, but I don’t want to ruin the friendship we have just started.  Can I call a taxi to take you home?”

Brian, I would like to walk with you to the Motel.  It’s a beautiful summer night,  and I’m in a romantic mood.”

“You are getting me all excited, so let’s go, Angela.”

They walked up the street toward the motel which was about a 15-minute walk.  Brian put his arm around her and felt excited.  She stopped, turned toward him and said: ”Brian, I want to kiss you.”

The romantic moments continued unabated until they reached the motel.

Well, this is your last chance to say no, Angela.

She just whispered into his ear, and they went inside the room. “Don’t turn the lights on.” She said. “I want to touch you, kiss you, hug you and embrace you.”

Brian turned her around, touched her breasts from behind and slowly took her blouse off, then her bra and kissed her neck.

‘”Brian, you are driving me crazy.” She turned around and started to take Brian’s clothes off.  In a frenzy, they removed each other’s clothes and began to caress the most intimate places on their bodies.

Brian lifted her into his arms and carried her to the bed.

They made love for a long time, seemingly unable to get enough of each other.

When they had both exhausted their desires, Angela rolled over on top of him and said ”Brian, that’s the best sex I have ever had. I’m madly in love with you now.”

Brian responded by kissing her and whispering in her ear that he had also fallen in love with her.  She stayed with Brian all night, and they made love in the morning before they left to go and have breakfast.

“What happened to your buddy Jim?” she asked.

I imagine he is still in his room, or perhaps having breakfast somewhere. I’m sure he lashed on to a girl in the bar he was in,  He is very determined to get what he wants, and I’m sure he did.

“Angela, We are leaving around noontime today, but I want to see you again.  Can we meet here next weekend?”

“Yes, I would love that, but why don’t I come to Torrington?”

“That would be super. I’ll book you a room in an Inn.”

“I would like that to be ‘Brian’s’ Inn, where I can sleep with the owner if you won’t mind the intrusion into your own little world?”

“Let me put it this way, I can think of no-one I would rather have intruding.  Let’s keep in touch on the phone, and I will give your driving directions if you need them.”

“All I need is your address.  I have a GPS system in my car, and it will take me there.

“OK, Angela.  That’s a date then.”

“Alright, I’m sure my week will drag until next Saturday.  I’ll be going home now to catch up on some sleep.”

“Do you want me to call a taxi?”

“No, I will walk home from here.  See you on Saturday, sweet.”

“See you, honey,- I can‘t wait.”

They kissed briefly, and Angela left the restaurant.

Brian walked back to the motel. He knocked on Jims door, but no answer, so he went to his room and waited for Jim to come to him.

It was nearly noon when Jim knocked on his door. “Sorry to be so late, but I had a fantastic chick in my room all night and this morning too.  I just sent her home in a taxi. How did you make out?”

“I’ll tell you all about it while we drive home.”

They left early in the afternoon, and Jim began by telling the story about this girl he had met in Fred’s Bar and Grill.  Her name was Lora, and she was very good looking and played hard to get, but like Jim said, persistence pays off.  She agreed to come along with him to the motel, and first, they were inside the room, things went right along.  Lora was very sexy, so it worked out great.

“Well,” said Brian, “ I think I’m in love.  I went back to the Rooster Bar, where I met this girl.  Her name is Angela, and we just had the most marvelous time together.  She is 24 years old and works as a financial consultant for the BOA Bank in Brighton.  She has a fabulous body and a great personality.  We have agreed to meet again next weekend, but she will be coming here to stay at my apartment.”

“Jeepers, you sound like you are going to get real serious about Angela.”

“Well, let’s see what happens, but I really like her, and the feeling is mutual.”

“OK, buddy, so what’s next now.”

“Well,” said Brian “I don’t think I will pursue the matter of this phantom girl anymore. We will never find her and at any rate, even if we did, what would we do with her?”

“Yeah. I kind of agree with you, but you can’t say we did not have a good time chasing her.  Will we meet at Corner’s Bar on Friday again.?”

“Sure Jim, let’s do that.”

Shortly they arrived in Torrington and went their separate ways for the week.

Wednesday evening Brian’s phone rang.  It was Jim, and he sounded very excited.

“Brian, I just bought the paper, and there is an article on page two you just have to read.  No good me trying to explain. It will take a long time.  Go buy the paper and then get back to me when you have read it.”

OK, Jim. I’ll go and get it right now. Brian walked down to the local corner grocery store and bought The Torrington Daily and rushed home. He went straight to page two, and the article he saw simply floored him.

New Development in the murder-rape case we reported on a year ago.

A year ago, a young girl was found murdered and sexually assaulted in Barring City, south of here. Here picture was distributed by the local police at first, but no-one had seen her before or knew her.

DNA was collected from semen on her body and checked against existing data banks, but with negative results. Her fingerprints and a description of her, together with her photo and what she was wearing, were circulated through national, and later international organizations such as FBI, Interpol, and various similar organizations through Latin America, but no results have come back so far.

A week ago, a man in his thirties was arrested for attempted rape of a young girl. His DNA was collected, and in a search of the data banks for criminal offender, it was matched to the DNA found in semen on the murdered girl.

The man was charged with murder and rape in the first degree.  During interrogations, he claimed he did not know the girl, nor had he ever seen her before.  He came across her in the local park and assaulted her there.

It was hoped that with the arrest of the offender, some more light could be thrown on the identity of the victim, but so far this has proven elusive. No-one anywhere has reported her missing or claimed to know her or be related to her. In time, unless new information is forthcoming, the case will go into the cold files.

We have republished a photo of the girl’s face and urge anyone who may have seen her or know her to contact the local police.

Brian was astounded, and more so because the crime was committed a year ago.  He did not remember reading about it, nor hearing anything of it on the TV. There was no doubt this was the girl.  The photo of her face proved it beyond doubt

He called Jim and expressed his amazement. “The fact that she was murdered in Baring City, the district capital south of here, suggests that wherever she is from, it is from somewhere south of here.  If it is the same girl that I saw here in Torrington and the guys in Banfield and Brighton saw, how can she appear in those cities a full year after she was murdered.  The only proof that anyone saw her is Richard, in Brighton, Who took a picture of her.  How the hell can anyone take a photo of someone who died a year ago? I checked the photo in the paper against the copy that Richard gave me, and there is no doubt, it is the same girl. This whole thing is driving me to the loony bin.”

“I don’t know what to think nor how to handle this whole thing in my mind.” Let’s think about it until Friday, and we can meet in Corner’s Bar to talk about it”  said, Jim.

OK, let’s do that.  Take care and have a good night.

Friday night came around, and they both met at the bar.

‘Jim, I just don’t know what to think of this whole affair about seeing this murdered girl.  I’m not ready to call the police and tell them that I saw her here in Torrington. They would pass me off as some nutcase.  The only one that has some proof of seeing her is Richard in Brighton, who took a picture of her.  That brings up the question as to how the hell you can take a photo of someone who died a year ago?” Furthermore, why is it that only one person saw her in any one of the towns.  Is she a ghost? Did she came back from the dead to wander forever? We have all heard of bizarre incidents where people have seen someone who died years ago, but until now, I never believed any of that.

I hope Richard does not read the article and call the police.  I have no desire to get involved in something so bizarre that it defies explanation. Unless they find out who she is and where she is from, I fear this incidence will remain in my mind perhaps forever.

“Angela is coming to my place tomorrow. We plan on having a romantic weekend, and I don’t want her to know anything about the murdered girl I saw.  She might assume I’m not playing from a full deck.

“Sure, I understand,” said Jim. “I’m glad I didn’t see her, and, by the way, I may return to Brighton tomorrow to see if I can find that girl I was with last weekend.  She is really nice.”

“Good luck with that.  Let’s call the mystery girl “The Girl from some place” and concentrate on those we can touch and love.”

“That’s  the most sensible thing you have said  all night.”

NOTE: This story will be published in several parts.

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THE LETTER


The Letter

 

          Two days after John Norton’s father’s death, he received a call from the law firm of Benson, Langley, and Kessler.  The secretary advised him that Mr. Benson was the executor of his father’s will and asked if he would care to make an appointment.  John agreed to a meeting at 2:30 the following afternoon, which was a Friday. He would close his business early, to make the appointment.

          John had never met Mr. Benson, but he appeared to be pleasant, kind of distinguished looking old gentleman, dressed in a conservative, pin-striped suit with an impeccably matched tie.  After some small talk and condolences on the loss of his father, Benson asked for some proper identification, stating this was necessary, given the fact that he didn’t know him.  John produced a couple of pieces of identification, which satisfied Benson and the procedure of reading the will commenced.

          The will was dated 5 years earlier and in simple terms declared John, his only son and child, to be the sole heir to his father’s entire estate, with exception of a sum of ten thousand dollars, bequeathed to his housekeeper of 15 years and eight thousand dollars to the groundskeeper in gratitude for their dependable and diligent service.  There was also written recommendations for both of them.

          “Your father entrusted a special envelope into my care,” said Mr. Benson.  “It is addressed to you and sealed with wax seals and ribbons.  Please inspect them to ensure * they are unbroken.”

          He did and found the seals intact. They discussed the legal aspects of having his father’s money, and property deeds transferred to him and agreed to meet the following week again. Clutching the envelope and bidding farewell, he left the office and drove home.

          Pouring himself a stiff scotch, he sat down in an armchair and, with considerable trepidation, cut the seals and opened the envelope.  Inside he found what appeared to be a report, in a red cover with his name on the front and a letter addressed to him. He opened the letter and began reading:

Dear Son,

          When you are reading this letter, it means I’ve passed on to another dimension. I have always been proud of you, and it is with great pleasure that I leave you everything I own.  There are some aspects of my life. I have never told you about.  In reality, they amount to is a strange story, filled with both mystery and adventure, so much so that some years ago I decided to put it in writing.  By the time you have read it, you will know how I could have made a fortune.

          With all my love

          Your father

           John opened the folder and began reading the neatly typewritten account of those mysterious events in his father’s life he hadn’t told him about.

June 1991

          The events that changed my life forever began in 1986, the year after your mother passed away.  I had poured my heart and soul into the bookstore, attempting to bury my sorrow over the loss of Vera.  It is hard to lose one’s soul mate after so many years of marriage, but life must go on, and I tried to continue living as I had done before.

          As you know, I have always collected antique books and rare first editions, many of which you will find in my library. It’s a very valuable collection, and I discovered and bought quite a number of them at public estate auctions.  Few people bother bidding on what in most instances is ordinary books, but I often did, provided I could spot some interesting and promising titles.  The auctioneers in charge of estate sales habitually put books in boxes of various sizes, sometimes with other things included, and you would have to bid on the whole content of the box. I put many of the boxes in the basement, intending to scrutinize their contents further after I had removed the books that I was interested in.

          One Saturday during the summer of 86, I went to an estate auction over in Campbellsville; you know the town well enough, having been there sometimes. There wasn’t much that interested me, except for a box containing a few books and cheap knick-knacks. One of the books was about Spanish renaissance art, and it looked quite old.  When the box came up for bidding, some lady bid five dollars.  Rather than upping the bid by one dollar, I decided to offer ten, to cut her off.  The auctioneer’s hammer decided in my favor.  I paid the ten dollars, took the box, put it in the trunk of the car and went home.

          I quickly went through the box and discovered some inexpensive porcelain bird figurines, probably what the old lady had wanted plus some old magazines, pamphlets, and various booklets. There were five more books in addition to the book on Spanish Renaissance art.  None of them were of any interest, but the art book was a limited edition from 1953.  I began looking through the numerous pages of black and white illustrations of Spanish paintings and art from the15th and 16th centuries.  The book was in excellent condition and worth about two hundred dollars, I figured.  Not a bad profit for a short trip to an auction.

          I quickly flipped through the last pages, but suddenly near the end, I found an envelope.  Thinking it was probably someone who had used it for a bookmark; I put it on the table.

          The next day, while having my morning caffeine fix, I picked up the letter.  It was addressed to Mr. George Silliman, 47 Bartley Dr., Cornville, Ontario.  I didn’t know the person, but Cornville is only about 50 km away.  The return address was someone named Frank Burley, 12 Sudden Lane, Barker Town, Ontario which I was slightly familiar with.  It was quite a bit larger than Cornville and only about 20 km from there. I took the letter out, and read it:

 Dear George,                                                                                  September 11, 1982

            I know you must wonder why I’m writing to you, rather than just dropping in for a visit, but I have some things to tell you that that is best done in writing. 

             We have been friends a whole lifetime, ever since we were schoolboys and it’s been a friendship like no other I have ever had with anyone else.  We have shared much, but it is coming to an end soon.  My doctor sent me to a colon cancer specialist a couple of weeks ago, and last week, he gave me the sad news that I had only a few months left to live.  It was quite a shock for me at first, but heck George, you and I have had beautiful, happy lives and we both know that the time to depart will come eventually for both of us. I hope we will be seeing each other a few times before I go.

             What I want to tell you about is rather a bit of a mystery, so let me get on with it.

             In 1929, an Italian family settled here in Barker Town.  They were political refugees from Mussolini’s dictatorship, but apparently wealthy, for they bought a costly house in town. At that time, there were three generations of the family living in the house.  As you know, my wife’s mother was Italian, and she grew up with a lot of Italians coming and going through her childhood home, so it wasn’t long before she became acquainted with this newly arrived family, whose last name was Moretti. Both the grandparents died before the end of the Second World War.  Their son, Enrico Moretti and his wife Contessa became quite good friends of ours, and we frequently had dinner together.  They had a son, Leopoldo, who was born in Italy before they came to this country.

             Enrico and his wife were both killed in a tragic car accident in 1958.  Leopoldo, their son, was 39 years old by then and not married. I suspected he was homosexual, but we continued to be friends with him.  In 1968, he had full-blown aids and passed away within a year, but before that, he told me an unusual story about a valuable thing he had inherited from his father, who had said it had been in the family for many generations.

             He told me that since he had no heirs, and he had promised never to let the item (he didn’t say what it was) pass out of the family, he was left with no other alternative than to take it with him to his grave. His casket, he said, was specially constructed and the item would be inserted in a hollowed-out area of the plank in the lid so that even in his afterlife, he could keep an eye on it.  I thought it was a bit creepy, but reckoned everybody has some weirdness or quirks in their lives. 

             When he died, Mary and I went to his funeral, and including us, there were only a handful of his friends that attended. His coffin was placed in the family mausoleum, and it was kind of sad to think that with Leopoldo gone, the family had died out completely. At least you and I both have grandchildren and thus some continuity beyond our graves. His house, by the way, was willed to the Catholic Church here and they have made a retirement home for people who can`t look after themselves in it.

             Well, George, I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t think about what Leopoldo had told me until after I received the news about my impending doom.  It gnawed at me, and I thought perhaps I should pass the story on to someone, and since you are my best friend, I chose to tell it to you. I was never brave enough to go and find out just what it was that Leopold took with him in his grave, but it struck me that he perhaps told me what he intended to do, so that I, as his close friend, could go and recover whatever it is. He may have tried to tell me it was a gift from him to me, but I can`t be sure.

 9            At any rate, George, I will never find out, but perhaps you may be interested in pursuing this.  I`m quite sure Leopold never told anyone else but me about it, but now you also know, and I think it perhaps best that no-one else finds out.  If you don`t want to investigate this, maybe you should destroy this letter and leave the mystery a secret for posterity    Well, I guess that`s all for now.  I hope to see you a few times again before I die.

Best regards from your old friend

Frank 

           It was an exciting mystery the letter revealed, and while I wasn`t about to just run over and open Leonardo`s casket, I kept thinking about digging a bit deeper into the story, and I began by searching for the two families, Silliman and Burley.

          Since I figured George Silliman might still be alive, I drove to Cornville first, and after some searching, I found the address and I parked the car.     Some kids were playing on the front lawn, but soon as I approached the fenced-in front yard, a woman came out the front door and asked if she could help me. I asked if the Silliman family lived there.  She shook her head and said that Mrs. Silliman died some years ago and her husband, George, passed away six weeks ago.  I asked if she was related to the Silliman family, to which she replied no, but they have a son, who lives out west somewhere.

          I didn’t want to seem too inquisitive, so I ended the conversation by asking where they were buried. She told me, and I thanked her, saying that I used to know George a long time ago and would like to put some flowers on his grave.

          At the United Church cemetery, it didn’t take me long to find the grave site where both George and his wife were interred. I noted the date on George’s headstone.  He had died on May third, this year. I put the flowers I had bought at a local flower shop on their grave and left for home.

          Having concluded the Silliman connection to the letter, it was time to go to go to Barker Town and see if I could find Frank Burley and  I drove there the following Sunday.  The town has a population of over 130,000, so I bought a city map to find my way around. Sudden Lane was a quiet side street, lined with mature trees, shading well-manicured lawns in front of classy homes, suggesting this was one of the better neighborhoods in town.  Number 12, Franks Burley’s house, was a large, Victorian style, two-story home, kept in immaculate shape, suggesting he was well off.

          I walked up to the door and rang the bell.  Inside the house, I could hear the sound of a resonant gong and shortly a middle-aged man opened the door. I introduced myself with a fictitious name and said I was an old friend of Frank Burley and this was the address I had for him. He then told me Dr. Burley’s wife was dead and he was in a care home with advanced Alzheimer, and then saying that his name was Charles Lane and he had bought the house a little over a year ago.”  I apologized for disturbing him, thanked him for the information and left.

          So, Frank Burley was a doctor.  That explained the large, posh house he had owned. With his wife dead and him having advanced Alzheimer decease, I needn’t worry about anyone knowing about the letter, unless Frank had told someone about it.  It also explained how the book with the letter ended up on an auction.  It had apparently been a part of his estate and no doubt, there may have been many other things at the auction that had belonged to him, but I would never know.

          I decided to do some background checking on the old Doctor later on, but before I went home again; I went to two cemeteries, trying to locate the mausoleum of the Moretti family.  I found it in a Catholic cemetery, on the outskirts of town and it was quite large and ornate.  Some people walked about in the graveyard, so I just casually walked past the mausoleum, noting it had a large brass padlock on the door.  There was a small graveled area in front of it; quite weedy, suggesting that no-one was caring for the site. I made up my mind to come back some weekday night and scrutinize the cemetery closely, to make sure I wouldn’t run into something unexpected.

          For a week or so, I thought about the whole, crazy idea of breaking into a mausoleum and stealing that something, whatever it was, from a coffin.  It just simply went against my better judgment, and for a while, I honestly thought I would just forget about it, but curiosity is an intense sensation, and eventually, it got the better of me.  One night, I drove over to the cemetery, parking my car in an inconspicuous place away from it.  I walked around the spooky place for about an hour, but no-one showed up. Then I went over to the Moretti mausoleum and checked the padlock, noting the make and size. It had to be cut with a bolt cutter and, when the deed was done, replaced it with one that looked the same, although, I didn`t think anyone would notice since the Moretti`s didn`t have any living relatives.

          The following week, on a Thursday night, I decided to carry out this ‘grave-robbing’ adventure.  I had purchased a padlock that looked more or less like the one on the door of the mausoleum and gathered some tools I figured I might need, but no more than I could carry concealed under my coat.  If I run into anyone on the cemetery, it would be a bit hard to explain what I was doing there, carrying a toolbox in my hands. I arrived in town just after eleven at night, this time parking my car in a different place.

9          There wasn’t a soul around, and I proceeded directly to the cemetery where I began by walking around the area, to make sure no-one was there.  I don’t mind telling you I was nervous and jumpy like all hell and by the time I reached the mausoleum, I was about ready to take off and go home again.  I mustered up enough courage and got the bolt cutter under my belt, where I had hung it.  The weight of it was dragging my pants down.  Once again, I surveyed the area, to make sure I was alone and then carefully and as quiet as possible, I cut the shank on the padlock. It was harder than I thought it would be and made more noise than I had figured.  God almighty, I was jumpy and scared out of my mind.

          Opening the door made even more noise.  The hinges were rusty and squeaked, so I proceeded slowly, opening the door just enough to get inside and then pulled it to again.  With shaking hands, I turned my flashlight on and looked around.  There were two caskets positioned along each of the two side walls and one at the end wall.  I had no idea which coffin contained the remains of Leonardo but went to the one at the end wall, figuring that this most logically must be his.  I needn’t have worried, for there was a metal plaque on the casket with Leonardo’s name, date, and place of birth and his death date.  I wrote it on my hand, not having a notebook with me.

          The casket was made of oak and looked almost new.  I tried to lift the lid, but it was fastened with nails or screws or something.   I bent down and looked under the lid and saw it was secured with screws through a molding along the top of the casket, into the bottom of the cover.  There were two screws, which I removed. Wearing gloves made it difficult, but eventually, I got them out and put them in my pocket, thinking there would be no need to screw them back in again. Leonardo wouldn’t mind.

          Now came the moment I feared the most. I slowly swung the lid open and pointed my flashlight into to the casket. The image of Leonardo was horrid. A surge of Adrenalin went through my veins sending my heart racing. Leonardo’s face looked straight at me, with empty, hollow eye sockets, his skull partly covered with moldy patches of skin, the jaw bone barred and his bony, skinless hands crossed on his chest. His funeral clothes were partially decomposed, and the sight of him horrified me.

          There was a plank screwed onto the inside of the lid.  On it, there was a brass plaque with the name “Leonardo Moretti” engraved on it and his date and place of birth.  I unscrewed the plank, and behind it, within a hollowed out space, there was a thin book or something like it, wrapped in several layers of plastic.  I removed it, screwed the plank back into the lid again, closed it and hurriedly went outside, where I closed the door and put on the padlock I had bought. I looked around to make sure I had not left any evidence of my breaking into the mausoleum, and then returned to my car with the package.  I was shaking like a leaf and just couldn’t get out of town fast enough.   I drove without exceeding the speed limit, fearing the police might stop me.

          The first thing I did when I got home was downing a stiff scotch to calm my jittery nerves.  I was still shaking when I began opening the package. It was wrapped in three layers of plastic which protected a thin volume of something, with a cover of stained leather. Very gingerly, I opened it, and on the first page, I saw some sketches of human anatomy, the same on the second and third, with handwritten notes in different positions on the pages.  I thought it was Italian, but couldn’t be sure at first. Slowly I checked other pages and came across drawings of structural parts of buildings, then some more human anatomy drawings.  Then it struck me.  My God, this was one of Leonardo da Vinci’s sketchbooks. If it’s genuine, it’s worth millions of dollars.  Now I began to understand why Frank had told George about Leonardo possibly intending to leave it to him as a gift. I had to wonder if Leonardo was named after the famous 13th-century artist, because of his family’s ownership of the da Vinci sketchbook and while thinking about that, I remembered the note I had made on my hand; the birthplace of Leonardo Moretti, and wrote it down in my address book.

          Too excited to sleep that night, I began speculating just what on earth I was going to do with this unexpected acquisition.  My first thought was safekeeping it somewhere, and a large bank safe deposit box seemed the ideal solution.  It was just too valuable to keep in the house and how was I going to explain how I came to be the owner of this treasure if I wanted to sell it?  How could I get its authenticity verified, without raising questions?

          The next day, I set about to photograph all the pages of the sketchbook and have large prints made of them.

A week passed by during which I rented a safe deposit box in my bank and tried to find out as much as I could about Leonardo da Vinci’s sketchbooks.  I had read a bit about them and seen pictures of some of his sketches, but had no in-depth knowledge. The local library didn’t provide much information, other than da Vinci frequently wrote in mirror style, which explained why I couldn’t read the writing on the sketches.

          It became apparent that I needed information not available in this country. Italy was indubitably the place to go, and I needed to find out how to approach the search.

           The plaque on Leonardo’s casket indicated he was born in Fiumicino, a town just west of Rome, nestled on the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea.  It seemed highly desirable to go and snoop around there and perhaps discover something about the Moretti family’s history in Italy. I called my travel agent and booked a trip to Rome, departing in 4 days.  The bookstore was not a problem; my able assistant of 11 years could easily handle it alone. What he didn’t know about selling books wasn’t worth knowing.

          The trip to Rome was uneventful. The agent had booked me in Hotel Bettoja Atlántico, which proved to be a beautiful old pearl; lovely rooms and great food. I had brought the photos of the sketchbook pages along with the idea of trying to find out if it was authentic but had no idea of just how to do that, without raising suspicion.

          The national central library in Rome was my first stop.  Quite a few books were dealing with Leonardo da Vinci’s art, but I checked mainly those dealing with his sketchbooks. I compared the photographic illustrations of sketchbook pages in the library books against the photos I had taken of those that I “acquired” under circumstances that still didn’t sit right with me.  None matched them. Thus I began to suspect it was either an unknown sketchbook, retained in a private collection away from public scrutiny or a forgery.  There was nothing more I could do in Rome. I headed for Fiumicino, to see what, if anything, if I could find out about the Moretti family.

After I had checked into my hotel and enjoyed a lovely supper, I went to the lobby and asked for a local telephone book.  I sat down in one of the comfortable lobby chairs and began perusing the telephone book and quickly found the name “Moretti.” There were 11 entries in all, which suggested that Leopoldo and his parents/grandparents must have had several relatives in Fiumicino. Then it struck me that it would be unwise to contact any one of them, for how would I explain that I knew the Moretti’s in Barkertown. I suddenly realized that my impulse to come to this town was a mistake. I had wasted my time, all but for finding out that members of the Moretti family were living there.

The next day, I took an early flight to Rome and booked a room in the Hotel Bettoja Atlántico, the one I stayed in when I first arrived in Rome. I decided my trip was not going to be completely wasted, so I stayed in Rome for three days.  On the last day, I visited some antique book stores to see I I could find something of interest to sell in my book store at home. One or two caught my attention, both of them dealing with Roman antiquities.  I bought one, published in 1900 at a reasonable price.

On the flight home to Canada, I pondered on what to do with the Da Vinci sketchbook, and then it struck me.  Why not just say that my father had bought a box full of books at an auction in Barker Town, and after removing the book he was interested in, had put it in the basement, where it joined several others. He had not recognized the Da Vincy sketchbook as something of value and left it in the box. I had decided to go through all the boxes to see if there was anything worth keeping before I discarded them, and that’s when I found the sketchbook.

The more I thought about this, the more liked the idea.

It was great to be home and get the feel of the bookstore again.  I kept thinking about how to reveal the fact that I had this sketchbook that “might be” a Da Vincy.  I decided to send some of the photocopied pages I had made to a reputable expert in Da Vincy’s artworks and found one in New York City.  I mailed the photocopies to him, without explaining how I got them.

Ten days later, I received a phone call, asking if I was John Norton and the person who had sent the photocopies, to which I replied in the affirmative. He inquired if he could examine the original and I arranged to meet him in New York City in three days. His name is George Lucas, and he gave me his address in Manhattan.

The meeting with George in his plush Manhattan office went well.  He asked me how I had acquired the sketchbook, but like I said to him, I need to have it authenticated before I can reveal how I got.

He asked if I could leave it with him for a couple of days, as he needed to do some tests on it.  I agreed to this, provided he would give me a receipt, signed in the presence of a lawyer. After this was done, I returned to Ontario.

Two days later, early in the morning, I received a phone call from George in Manhattan.  His voice sounded excited, and he said he had excellent news for me.  The sketchbook was by Da Vincy and very valuable.  He offered me two million dollars for it, which just about floored me. I hesitated for a while, then politely declined.  I figured it may be worth more than that and I told him I would pick it up tomorrow.

I arrived in New York in the early afternoon, and after paying George his fee for the authentication documents of the sketchbook, I signed a receipt for it, thanked him for his efforts and returned home to Ontario. Before I left, he told me that there was no record of the sketchbook having been owned by someone or stolen, so it must have come from an estate or owner(s) who have held it for many generations and kept knowledge of its existence private. The same happens to valuable paintings and other artworks that have vanished for a couple of hundred years or more, and then suddenly shows up. I didn’t comment on that.

I had to figure out how to sell the sketchbook, without anyone knowing who I was, for I still had an uneasy feeling about the 11 Moretti entries I had seen in the phone book in Fiumicino.  I know that Sotheby Auctioneers will keep both seller and buyer names confidential, so maybe that’s the way to go.

I put the sketchbook back in the safety deposit box in the bank and then settled down for a few days to compose my thoughts and calm my anxiety.

Six days later, I placed a phone call to Sotheby in New York and asked to speak to someone in the antique arts department. A man, introducing himself as Frederick Barnes asked if he could help me.  I quickly explained that I had a Da Vincy sketchbook, the authenticity of which has been confirmed by George Lucas of Manhattan, who I was sure he was familiar with.  He concurred but said he would have to examine the sketchbook before he agreed to put it on auction for me. I informed him that anonymity was of paramount importance to me, but he would be free to check anything he wanted respecting the authenticity of the sketchbook and anything else he deemed necessary.

We agreed to meet in New York City in four days.

Once again, my anxiety increased and I had trouble sleeping. I just wanted to get this whole affair over with. I had not even anticipated the possible windfall I would get from auctioning the sketchbook.  What on Gods earth would I do with a few million dollars which it appears I would get.

The meeting with Frederick Barnes at Sotheby’s in New York City went without any problems.  He took delivery of the sketchbook and examined it briefly, appearing quite impressed by what he saw. I gave him a copy of the certificate of authenticity from George Lucas, and he gave me a receipt for both. He indicated that the Sotheby’s auctioneer fee was ten percent, which I agreed to. In writing.  After some discussions as to how the auction would proceed if he accepted the item, we bid a cordial farewell, and I headed back to Ontario again.  He said he would call me as soon as he had a decision.

It was ten days before Frederick Barnes called me; the longest ten days in my life. Most nights I had lain awake pondering on a possible new future and where to go if I left my hometown. Frederick said that they had accepted the item for auction and one would take place in New York in two weeks.  I asked him what he estimated the sketchbook would sell for and I was utterly floored when he said not less than ten million dollars.

To remain as anonymous as possible, I wanted to bank the money outside Canada. I began looking around, and the Cayman Islands seemed a logical choice, but it had too many requirements for documents and personal Id’s.  A Swiss bank account would be easier to open, and I chose that.  There was lots of help on the internet as to how to do it. I made a reservation to Geneva two days ahead, to give me time to get funding from my own bank to open the account with.

I asked for a certified bank draft from my bank for $30,000.00, which took the balance on my account down a few notches, but considering what I potentially had coming, it was a mere bagatelle.

The trip to Geneva was smooth and opening an account went equally well.  My passport served as documentation for my identity, and I received the details of my account, and it’s balance after I deposited the $30,000.00. I left for home the next day and settled down to wait for the auction in New York.

Nine days later, Fredrick Barnes called me from New York,  The sketchbook had been sold to an anonymous buyer for 16 million dollars.  He asked if I wanted to come to New York to settle the account, but I declined, asking him instead to deposit the net amount to my new Swiss bank account.

I was astounded, to say the least, and I seriously had to plan my future, adjusted to my new wealth.

My first action was to transfer 150,000,00 dollars to my bank account here from my Swiss account and then to buy a large motor-home. I arranged to have my assistant live rent free in my house and to run the business, taking fifty percent of the profits for his efforts and crediting the rest to my local bank account. I loaded the motor-home with the most precious belongings I had in the house and then informed my assistant that I would be leaving on an extended journey to places as of yet unknown to me.  He did not understand why I wanted to leave, but I said that I wanted a new life in my senior years.  I think he understood.

Two days later, I bid farewell to my assistant and left the town that I had lived in all my life. I felt excited and invigorated by the prospects of being able to go wherever I wanted.

I passed through Barker Town on my way and stopped for a cup of coffee. I picked up yesterdays newspaper (Barker Town Daily News), and on page three, I found an article that stunned me.  The paper reported that a catacomb on the Catholic cemetery had been broken into and the five caskets inside it had been opened as if someone was looking for something that may have been put into one or several of them. It was not possible to determine if anything had been stolen since there were no records of anything being present in any of the caskets.  The catacomb belonged to the Moretti family, all of whom were dead, and no-one had been designated to care for the upkeep of it. No suspects had been apprehended, and the whole case is just a mystery.

I was completely non-plussed by the article and could only think that the Moretti’s in Italy had found out about the Da Vincy sketchbook auction, but that would be pure speculation, and at any rate, there was no way they could figure I was involved.  I was safe to drive into the sunset of my life.

 

 

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This work by K. Larsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

 

 

 

  

 

 

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The Village

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 It wasn’t really a village as such, just a small group of houses scattered around the local dairy, the blacksmith and the country store, where one could buy anything from a bolt of cotton to groceries, boots, tools and what not.  Some houses were farms, with pastures behind them, extending all the way to the sea-shore.  Not that this was any great distance, for none of the  farms on the island were large, but the soil was fertile and the farmers made a decent living on their land, and so they had for generations, for the farms had gone from father to son (or daughter) through centuries.  Take the blacksmith place-had it not been in the same family for more than two hundred years? And the Peregrine farm, one of the largest on the island, had been leased and later owned by the same family since the Middle Ages.

There was no Inns, restaurants or places of entertainment on the island.  There never had been and that was a good thing, for there would be no temptations for the young people; at least that’s what the older generation thought. Some families were running B&B’s to cater to summer tourists who came to enjoy the peace and quiet that prevailed.

 Few of the houses were of modern design;  most of them of timber frame style, such as had been the building practice for generations and many, being as old as they are, clearly had stood the test of time.  The exposed timbers are tarred every few years and the adobe fill between them whitewashed at the same time.  Life on the island was predictable and with no more than a few dozen families residing there, everyone knew each other.

 The women on the island loved gossiping, especially over the party line telephone system, which was not scheduled for upgrading to a dial-up system for another two years. More often than not, there would be three or four women on the line, chatting about the latest happenings, or so it seemed. New and leapfrogging technology was making changes to the islander’s way of life, although no-one seemed mindful of it.

Old Peter did, though.  He was 75 years old and had seen many changes to the way of life on the island.  His wife of 50 years had died of leukemia in 45, nearly six years ago and every week he would go to her grave and put fresh flowers on it.  It seemed only yesterday that she had passed away and he often felt quite lonely, even though he was well cared for by his son and daughter-in-law, who took over the farm when he was 69.  He was immensely proud of his grandchildren, a boy and a girl.  They were so full of life and seemed to thrive in their limited environment.

Every morning during the summer, he would go for a walk.  It was nice to see all the green fields, the old trees along the road and smell the fresh, salty breeze that sometimes blew from the ocean. He felt that there was permanence, a sort of eternal feeling to all that he saw, yet he knew this could not endure. Most of his generation had long ago departed for the realm of everlasting rest and peace, and he knew it wouldn’t be long before he joined them, but in the meantime, there were still joyful hours and days to contemplate. John and Alfred, contemporaries to Peter, were still alive, both of them 72, and often they would all meet somewhere to talk of the old days, which they all thought were infinitely better than today’s crazy world. Erik and Paul had both passed away a couple of years ago.

Peter reached the stone bench, which really wasn’t a bench as such, but rather a large, elongate boulder, dumped there by glaciers some 10,000 years ago.  It could readily accommodate four people, sitting side by side and it was used for generations.  When he was young, he used to come there with his mom and dad, who often went for a walk in the early evenings or on Sundays.  His grandfather, Cedrik, whom he had known for quite a few years, before he passed away, had also come to the stone bench and often times together with him. It was Cedrik’s father, Kenton, Peter’s great grandfather who had acquired their farm from the lease Lord, Baron Stallman, who had owned the entire island. Prior to the land reform laws, all the farms were leased to individual farmers, who often held the lease for generations, passing it on from father to son, with the Lord’s permission, but no-one ever became prosperous under this feudal system.

 The old stone bench was also the meeting place for Peter, John and Alfred, although they didn’t see each other every day. Today, Alfred showed up and Peter greeted him with a sprightly “Good morning Alfred, what a fine day it is today.  I brought a thermos bottle with coffee.  Did you bring your mug?”

“Yes, I did,” said Alfred, “we can have a cupful now, for I feel like something? I wasn’t hungry for breakfast, but a cup of coffee would suit me fine now.” Peter unscrewed the cap of the thermos, which served as a cup for him, removed the stopper and poured the coffee.

For a while, they sat quietly, sipping the coffee.  It was a tranquil morning, the wind a mere whisper that barely stirred the leaves in the trees.  A male starling was singing nearby and chickadees were fluttering about in the bushes, looking for something to eat, sounding off with their kee,–kee-kee chirps.  Peter put his hand in his pocket and brought out some sunflower seed, held it out and in a flash, a chickadee landed on it, took a seed and flew off again to a bush and began pecking away on the seed, until it got at the kernel inside it.   It kept coming back, until there were no more seeds in Peter’s hand.

“Alfred, said Peter, you are quiet this morning.  Are you feeling OK?”

 “Yes, I’m feeling fine, although I didn’t sleep too well last night.  I got to thinking about the war and the German soldiers that occupied our island.  They sure were a mean lot of bastards, weren’t they?”

 “Oh my God, yes.  I’ll never forget them; they murdered three of our people here.  The captain in charge, what was his name now- Oh yea; it was Gunter Hoffmann, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, said Alfred, I hated those cold, blue eyes of his.  I remember when he had Niels arrested and how they beat him completely senseless, just because he had broken a curfew.  He was never the same after that, was he?”

“No, said Peter, and on top of that, they kept him in that stinking cell for three days without any concern for his horrific condition.  He had several broken ribs and a broken arm.  I remember he was bed-ridden for more than two month after they let him go.”

“Yes, those sons of bitches! Had it been up to me, I would have hung them all after the war was over, but they got away scot free, acting with contempt, when they departed on the ferry, -just as bloody Nazi as ever, said Alfred

 “They never did find out what happened to Captain Hoffmann, did they?”

 “No, no-one saw him leave on the ferry, but he may have stolen a boat and rowed over to the mainland.”

 “No, said Alfred, I don’t think so, for no-one reported a boat stolen.  I think someone came and picked him up  the night just before they were due to leave the island. A Nazi sympathizer or perhaps some German bastard from the mainland he had contacted on the wireless.

 “Well, said Peter, you said that the 16 soldiers left our island just as high and mighty as the day they came, but I can tell you that not all of them did”.

 “How so”, said Alfred.

“Do you remember that big, ugly brute, that sergeant  that raped John’s daughter?”

 “Yes, I sure do, said Alfred, I always wanted to beat the shit out of him, but anyone who tried would probably be killed, we all knew that, so no-one dared.”

 “Well, let me enlighten your mind a bit on that score.  You weren’t the only one that had it in for him.  I think most of us wanted to have a go at the bastard and we eventually did.  You know they were all disarmed on the day of capitulation and we knew they would be sent to the mainland on the ferry the next day.  The night before, we caught the big brute walking outside the barrack they were supposed to be confined in.  There were four of us together, all with one thing on our mind—revenge. We beat him-and beat him, in uncontrolled rage, to within an inch of his life. It felt as if we were taken revenge on him for all the suffering the bloody Nazis had inflicted on us during the last five years.  To make sure he would remember his uninvited stay on our island forever, one of us took a pocket knife and cut a swastika on his forehead and rubbed some dirt into it, to make sure it would make a very visible scar.”

 “My God!” Said Alfred, “No-one ever told me that. How come I never heard that story?”

 “Given we had beat him so bad and didn’t know if he would survive, we thought it was best to keep it to ourselves.  I heard they carried someone aboard the ferry on a stretcher when all the krauts left the morning after, and we simply assumed it was the bastard we had beaten up. By and by, we just slowly forgot about the event, although personally, I still have moments of anger when I think about him. Another piece of news for you, Alfred; John was one of the four of us who beat the son of bitch up, but don’t go getting on his goat for not telling you, even after all these years. It was best to keep it quiet.”

“Well, I’ll be; nothing surprises me anymore”

 “Oh, said Peter, ”I think I have a story or two to tell you that may raise a few hairs on your neck, but that’ll have to wait to another day.  I want to go and collect some gull eggs down on the shore.  There are a lot of nesting birds there this year and Rita, my daughter-in-law, likes to use them in some of her baking.”

They got up, Alfred, leaning a bit hard on his cane, and began walking toward the village, small-talking about this and that along the way. They decided to meet again at the bench the following Sunday.

 Peter headed back to the farm, picked up a basket in the kitchen and told Rita he was going down to the shore to collect gull eggs and asked if she wanted a lot.

 “No, not a lot”, said Rita, “I won’t be doing much baking in the next few days and we have quite a few chicken eggs.  I use half chicken and half gull eggs for a lot of things I bake, so just bring me a couple of dozen, Peter.”

“OK Rita, I’m off. See you in a while. Did you hear from Erik today? “No, said Lisa, “he won’t complete his course for another three days, so I expect he will call tomorrow.”

Peter walked down along the edge of the field leading to the shore.  The barley was knee-high already and it looked like they would have a good harvest. I nice, fresh breeze greeted him when he reached the stony beach and the gulls screeched and buzzed him when he reached their nesting area.  The few cormorants that were about flew out to sea, being more timid than the gulls. He sat down on a rock for a while to rest and looked out over the sea, toward the mainland, visible in the distance.  How often had he not done this through all the years he had lived,  his entire life spent working the land and doing all the things that people on the island traditionally did. Except for the war years, it had been a good life.

 His thoughts drifted back to other times and memories flooded into his mind.  It felt good to remember happy moments, especially when he was young and just married.

 Well, he thought, better get going.  He collected a couple of dozen gull eggs, much to the consternation of the birds, whose screeches increased to a crescendo. He never took more than one eggs from each nest, to ensure that there would be new generations of gulls for the future.

 After finishing collecting the eggs, he headed back to the farm. On the way, he passed by a large boulder and stopped for a minute and looked at it.  The little swastika carved in the corner was still there. A casual observer would probably never notice it, but Peter knew it was there. He felt a cold chill deep inside him. It seemed a lot of bad memories from the war years had surfaced lately, even though five years had passed since those horrible times had come to an end.

Rita greeted him in the kitchen when he returned with the gull eggs. “Do you want some coffee?” she asked.

 “Yeah, why not?” he said. “There was a chilly on-shore wind down by the beach today. Some nice hot coffee would warm up some of those old bones of mine.”

 “John stopped by” she said. “He was wondering where you were and said to tell you he wanted to talk to you.”

“Did he say what about” said Peter.

“No, but he looked kind of upset and it’s not like him to be that way. You know John, he always seem happy and content.”

 “Well, I better go see him.  I’ll be back for lunch.”

 John lived a short walking distance from the farm, but strangely enough, he thought, it had been quite a while since he paid him a visit.  Like himself, John was widowed and lived with his son and daughter-in-law on the farm that had been in his family for many generations. His two daughters had married other young farmer sons on the island.  Peter thought about that, as he was walking down the lane towards John’s place.  Regardless of all the new technology and new ideas that seem to proliferate amongst the younger generations, there was never-the-less some things that stayed the same. Traditions, customs and the local culture were still strong and gave a sense of continuity to the whole island, and that pleased him.

Peter knocked on the door and Vera, John’s daughter-in-law, opened it.  “Well, hello Peter! It’s been a while since you’ve paid us a visit.  How are you? How are things at home?”

 “Oh, just fine” said Peter. “John was down to our place and wanted to see me, but I was down on the beach collecting gull eggs, so I missed him.”

 “I’ll go get him, Peter.  I think he is out in the barn.”

 “No. that’s OK, I’ll go see him there.”

 Peter walked over to the barn where John was sitting on a bale of hay just inside the door.

“Hello John!” he said. “Rita told me you wanted to talk to me.”

 “Yes, said John, I run into Alfred down at the store and we walked home together after he finished shopping. He told me that you had related the story about us beating the shit out of that Nazi brute on the night of the German capitulation.  I thought we had all agreed to keep that event secret.  Why did you tell Alfred?”

 “Well, John, it’s been five years now since the war and those dreadful days came to an end and since Alfred and I are good friends, I thought it would be OK to tell him.”

 “That’s fine for you to say, but can you trust Alfred not to go spreading this all over the Island?”

“Oh, I think so, but even if he did, I don’t see what harm could come of it now.  I’m damned sure that Nazi bastard will never come here again.  If he ever did, I’d make bloody sure he got some more of the same medicine we gave him back in May, 1945.”

 “Well, said John, Eric and Paul are both dead, so they took the secret of their participation in the beating with them to their graves. Now there are only three of us that knows and I hope to Hell Alfred will keep his mouth shut.  What is it they say:  “Let sleeping dogs lie.”

 “I’m sorry, I let the cat out of the bag John, but what’s done is done and we can’t change it now.  It’s all old hat now anyway.”

 “That’s fine, said john, but if any of the women hears about it, the story will be all over the island in a matter of hours.  You know bloody well how they gossip.  If that happens, none of us three will have any peace for a long time.”

 “I’ll have another word with Alfred about it. Why don’t you come out to the stone bench on Sunday?  Alfred and I planned to meet there for coffee and a chat.  It might be OK if he heard the story from you also.”

 “OK, said John, I’ll see you both there then.”

Peter went home again. It was the middle of August and the island was clad in summer’s delightful panorama of colours under a bright blue, sunny sky with capricious cottony clouds sailing in slow, lazy formations across the heavens.  Life was good , thought Peter and inwardly hoped it would always be so.

He heard the phone ringing and Rita answering it.

“Peter”, she shouted.  “It’s Lisa calling from her B&B: she wants to talk to you.”

“Well, whatever ever in carnation does she want” said Peter.  “I haven’t talked to her for ages.”

He grabbed the phone. “Hello Lisa, what’s up”?

 “Hi Peter; It’s been a while since we talked, but look, something odd happened.  A German couple made a reservation a few weeks ago and I thought there was something familiar about the name he gave, Oskar Gunter Hoffman, but then kind of just passed it off. They arrived today and after settling into their room, he came down and asked me if I had known his father, Captain Günter Hoffman, who had been stationed here during the war.

 “My God,” said Peter, “what did you say to him?”

“Jeepers, I was flabbergasted, to say the least, but said that someone with a name sounding like that had been here during the war years. He then asked me if I knew what happened to him, for he had never returned after the war was over.  I just said I had no idea.”

 “Lisa, I’m coming over.  I want to meet that guy.  I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”

“OK”, said Lisa; “I’ll see you then.”

 Peter jumped on his bike and peddled in the direction of Lisa’s B&B, all the while he was thinking about what the Hell he was going to say to this guy.  Not in his wildest dreams had he ever thought that some son of Captain Günter Hoffman would ever come here to try and find out about his father.  Either he doesn’t know what kind of a Nazi bastard his father was or he thinks we know what happened to the slime ball.  Well, he thought, I better tell him a thing or two about his ‘dear father’.

 He reached Lisa’s B&B, jumped off his bike and went to the main door, which was partially open.  “Lisa” It’s me, Peter.”

 Lisa came out.  “Hello Peter, it’s been a while since you last came ‘round here.  How are Lisa and Erik?”

 “They are fine.  Erik is away taking a course at the agricultural college.  He’ll be back in a few days. Can we talk in your office?”

“Sure said Lisa, but don’t worry about privacy.  The German and his wife have gone sightseeing along the beach and I don’t expect them back for a while.”

“Tell me what they asked you about Captain Hoffman.”

 “Well, after explaining who he was, he said he had come to investigate why his father was missing.  He had been contacted in his hometown in Germany by someone who had served on this island under his father’s command. He indicated  his father had not left on the ferry with the rest of the troops on May 9, 1945  He asked me if anyone here knew anything about what happened to him, and that’s why I called you.”

 “What did you say to him?”

 “Nothing I could tell.  I haven’t the foggiest notion what happened to that beast.  I’d liked to have seen him getting a real beating before he left”. He was a vicious piece of  German  trash that, for all I care, should have been strung up in the nearest tree.”

 “Well, Lisa, I share your sentiments.  He was a first class bastard but the fact that his son is here looking for information on him suggest that perhaps he is dead or maybe he decided to make a new life for himself in Germany, like taking on a new identity. It won’t do his son, this Oskar Gunter character, any good making inquiries here, since no-one on the island knows what happened to him.”

 “Look!, said Lisa, the Germans are coming up the path now.”

 “OK, I’m going to have a little talk with that fellow. I know you speak English and you said that he speaks English very well, but I really don’t anymore.  I speak a little German, which I picked up during the war years, so perhaps between the two of us, we can talk with him.”

Oskar Hoffman and his wife came in and seeing Peter, he said “Hello, my name is Oskar Gunter Hoffman.  I’m the son of Captain Gunter Hoffmann who was stationed here during the war.”

“And what precisely is it you want here?  No-one on this island thinks of your  bastard father as anything but  a murdering Nazi.”

“That is not true, said Oskar.  He was very highly thought of in my home town.  I was a member of the Hitler Jugend and looked up to him with great respect.”

“Oh, said Peter in halting German, so you were a Nazi in training.  If you think for a minute it makes me feel any better about you, think again. You were just being brain washed into believing all this shit about the superior German Aryan race”.

 Peter paused for a second, trying to think of what else to say in German.  Lisa asked if he wanted her to translate to English anything he said..

 “Yes, said Peter, that would be fine.  Ask him who it was that came looking for his father in his home town.”

 Lisa asked the question in English.

 “It was Sergeant Mueller, who was stationed here during the war, said Oskar.  I’ll never forget his face. He had a scar on his forehead in the shape of a swastika and his nose was badly twisted.  He said someone on the island here had beaten him severely the night before they left the island.  He also told me that my father was not on the ferry when he and the rest of the soldiers left.”

 “Lisa, tell him we all know who he was, and if he ever shows up here again, we can arrange to give him an even worse beating and that no-one here have the foggiest notion as to when and how his father left, and frankly, none of us give a bloody hoot. There is not a person on this island that wouldn’t gladly have seen him dangling in the end of a rope on the day you bastards capitulated.”

 “I see that I have wasted my time coming here, said Oscar.  You are nothing but a stupid farmer who doesn’t know shit from a pile of dung.  It’s too bad my father didn’t sent you to one of our concentration camps when he had the chance.”

 “Lisa! Tell that son of a bitch he is lucky I’m not a younger man.  I would have beaten the shit out of him, for what he just said, but you may inform him if he is still on this island by tomorrow morning, I will arrange for him to leave in a considerable less healthy state than he is in now.”

 “You are threatening me, said Oskar.  How dare you? I’m here as a tourist and haven’t harmed anyone or committed a wrong. You have no right to speak to me like that.”

“Listen here, you piece of shit, you better pack your bags right now and piss off.  The next ferry leaves in less than an hour.  Be on it, if you know what’s good for you.  I’m going to get some of the young fellows together to make sure you leave.  When you get back to Germany, you can inform your asshole friends that they are not welcome here.”

“I’m leaving now Lisa.  Make sure he packs his bags and get him to the ferry.”

“Ok, said Lisa.  I’ll talk to you later. Can I reach you at home?”

“Yes, just call me on the phone and let me know as soon as he has left.”

“Will do, said Lisa.”

Peter jumped on his bike and headed for home. He was furious over what Oskar had said. He had wanted to beat the shit out of him, but that might have created some problems and an unwanted look into what was going on.

 About 15 min after he got home, the phone rang.

“Hi Peter! It’s Lisa.  The Germans left for the ferry a few minutes ago.  It seemed they were in an awful hurry to get going, so I guess they believed what you said about getting together a few younger men  to make sure he and his wife left.”

“Well, I couldn’t be sure if he fell for it, but good thing he did.  I sure don’t want any trouble.”

“But Peter, tell me honestly, do you know what happened to captain Hoffman?”

“No, Lisa, I haven’t the faintest idea.  All I can assume is that he somehow left the island the day before the German soldiers were put on the ferry on May 9, 1945.”

“Oh well, said Lisa, I guess we will never know.  See you soon again and have a nice evening.”

“Thanks Lisa and the same to you.”

Peter hung up the phone and walked into the kitchen to see what was cooking for supper.  Rita was a great cook and a wonderful daughter-in-law.

May 8, 1945

“Hello, is Paul there, this is Peter.”

“Yes, just a minute Peter, I’ll go and get him.”

“Hello Peter! What’s up?”

“I was wondering if you would help me move the two eel traps I have.  There hasn’t been any eels caught in them for some days now and I thought it might be worthwhile moving them.”

“Sure, said Paul, I’ll be right over.”

They met by the barn and began walking down toward the shore.

 “So, I guess we will be rid of those German bastards tomorrow.  I’m not sorry to see that lot of krauts disappear. There’s a couple of them I would like to beat the shit out of.”

“I don’t know if we will get a chance to have a go at any of them.  They are confined to their barracks until tomorrow.  Erik is keeping an eye on them, just in case they try something stupid.”

 “Hey, Look! said Paul, someone is trying to put your boat in the water.”

My God, said Peter, I think it’s captain Hoffman.  He is wearing a uniform,– Jesus, we must stop him.”

 Paul grabbed a piece of driftwood and run toward the captain, shouting for him to stop what he was doing.

“Where the hell do you think you are going with my boat you Nazi bastard?”

The captain drew a pistol from his belt and aimed it at Peter, but at that moment, a large stone was flying through the air, hitting the captain hard on his chest.  The captain fell to the ground and Peter run over, put his foot on his chest and kicked the pistol away.

“Thanks for that, Paul.  I thought for a minute I would be a  goner.”

Peter looked down into the hateful eyes of the captain, then grabbed a large rock and smashed it into his head.  The captains skull split open, his brains and a gushing stream of blood spilled onto the sand at the water’s edge.

 “Well, said Paul, that’s the end of that bastard.  He got what was coming to him and if you hadn’t killed him, I would have.”

“We have to go get a shovel and bury the body.  We just can’t leave it here.”

“If it was up to me, said Paul, I’d just feed him to the crabs, but I guess you are right, we better bury the bastard.  How about over there, behind that large boulder?”

 “That seems Ok to me, said Peter.  I’ll go get a shovel from the barn.  Keep an eye out, just in case someone should come, although I don’t think anyone will,  Very few people ever come down here.”

Peter returned with a shovel and without further to do, they  dug a large hole in the gravelly sand behind the boulder and, after stripping all identifying insignia and removing his personal papers, they unceremoniously dumped the captain’s body in it, put some large stones on top of it and back filled the hole.

 “You know, said Peter, we must keep this incident to ourselves for the rest of our lives.  No-one must ever know what happened here.”

 “For sure, said Paul.”

It was nearly dark when they got back to the farm. They saw Erik and John come running toward them.

“Hey, said Erik, I just saw that bastard sergeant walking outside the barracks.  Let’s go and give him a taste of the kind of island hospitality he deserves.  There are four of us, and even though he is a big brute, we can give him some of the same medicine he has doled out around here the last five years.   Let’s beat the shit out of him- remember, he raped John’s daughter.”

 A couple of weeks later, Peter walked down to the beach and chiseled a small swastika in a corner of the rock behind which captain Hoffman was buried.

This work by K. Beechmount is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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A little story based on recollections from my childhood.

Is it not true that children’s stories often begin with: “Once upon a time” and that those stories mostly have a happy ending?

The following little story does just that.

Once upon a time, many, many years ago, there was a little boy who learned to talk to a crow, or perhaps it is more correct to say that a crow learned to understand what the boy said.

The boy, whose name was Lawrence, had just  turned nine a few month ago and he had many friends. Sometimes, when he went for a walk on the ramparts of the old fortress that surrounded the town where he was born, he liked to go alone,.  It was such a grand place to go and play. Many trees and bushes were growing there, and he could sit and watch the little birds fluttering about and listening to them singing.

One fine summer day, Lawrence asked his mother if he could have a sandwich to take with him, for he wanted to go and play on the ramparts. His mother looked at him funny kind of, and asked if he planned on staying there a long time.  Lawrence said that he didn’t, but sometimes he would get hungry when he was running around all over the place, and that’s why he wanted to bring a sandwich along. His mother complied with his wish, and off he went.

The ramparts were close to home, so it only took him a few minutes to get there.  He walked up the gravel path leading to the top of one of them. It was springtime and the great, big horse chestnut  trees, towering along the outer edge of the path, were flowering,  their candle-like white sprigs reaching for the sunlight. They looked very pretty, but Lawrence liked them better in the fall, when the trees were filled with chestnuts.  They were fun to collect and play with, or use to throw at crows and other big birds that always seemed to hang around the ramparts.

There were walking trails on top of all of them, and here and there a bench was placed, where people could sit and rest and enjoy the scenery.  Lawrence had a favourite bench to sit on. It was surrounded by many trees and lots of birds were flying around or jumping about in the branches, some were chirping and others singing. It was a splendid place to sit and watch them and he loved doing so.

After walking for a while, he came to his bench and sat down. He could hear a woodpecker tapping away on a tree somewhere nearby and it made him think about one of his favourite cartoons, ‘Woody Woodpecker’ which he saw in the movie theaters on Sundays, when his mother would let him go and watch.  He run toward the sound, but didn’t catch a glimpse of it.

Back at the bench, he sat down again.  He wasn’t really hungry, but opened the wrapped sandwich and took a bite of it.  Just then, he saw a crow flying toward him and for a moment he thought it was going to attack him. They were known to do so if they had a nest nearby; at least, that’s what his dad had told him. Instead, however and much to his surprise, the crow landed on the backrest of the bench, only a few feet away from him.

“Well, hello Mr. Crow” said Lawrence.  The crow sounded off with a muted “crah, crah” and began walking closer to him, one careful step at a time. It came so close that Lawrence could touch it, but he didn’t, being afraid of scaring it away.

Lawrence didn’t know what to do.  He took another bite of his sandwich and the crow let out a ‘crahhh-crahhh and jumped up on Lawrence’s shoulder.  It frightened him a bit, for this was a new experience for him.  Suddenly, he realized the crow wanted his sandwich.  Slowly he took a small bite, and again the crow said “Crahhh, Crahhh” and moved a bit on his shoulder.

“Mr. Crow, are you hungry?”

The crow didn’t say anything, so he took a piece of his sandwich and offered it to the crow. “Crah, Crah, Crah” said the crow and took the morsel from his hand.

“Would you like another piece” asked Lawrence.

The crow said “crahhh, crahhh” and he thought this meant yes and gave him another bite. The crow said ”Crah,crah, crah” and took the bread. Lawrence was now certain the three short “Crah’s” meant either ‘thank you’ or just ‘yes’.  He tried one more time, and the result was the same.

Soon the sandwich was gone.  “Look, Mr. Crow, it’s all gone now” he said, showing his empty hands to it.

The crow looked at him with his dark eyes and took off with a long ‘Craaahh.’.  Which Lawrence was sure meant goodbye.

When he returned home, he didn’t tell his mother about the encounter with the crow, thinking that she wouldn’t believe him if he said he had talked to a crow.

All summer long and well into the fall, Lawrence kept going back to that bench on the rampart and faithfully, the crow would come back to get some small pieces of his sandwich and they became very good friends.

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This is a story about Argentina, England, and love.  It will be published in several parts as it is being written, so follow the story as it develops. You can find me on facebook as Kenny Beechmount.

The Journal

By Kenny Beechmount

Roger had been busy for days going through the contents of his father’s estate. Earl had left him a sizable amount of money and his house with all its contents, which proved to be very substantial. It wasn’t just the furniture and a large number of books in the library, but also all the boxes that were filled with old files, documents, and correspondence. Roger and Vivian had decided to sell their own house, which they had bought more than 15 years ago, and move into his father’s house, named “Brighton House”, after his great-grandfather, who had built it. Vivian had always loved that house because of its ample size and classic architecture. She thought It was much more suited to their lifestyle than their own house.

He had to decide what to do with the many boxes of documents, but he didn’t want to arbitrarily discard them without going through their content first. Vivian was super busy with her architect business and Roger was working long hours as a bridge design engineer for the consulting civil engineering firm he worked for. He decided to take his time and go through them when his schedule permitted, which was mainly on weekends.

Earl Brighton’s career as a specialist in tropical agronomy had brought him to many different parts of the world and he would frequently be away for more than a year at a time. The long absences created a feeling of lonesomeness for both Vivian and Roger, but it was the way life turned out for them.

Some weeks after Earl’s funeral, Roger and Vivian moved into Brighton House. They had given away some of the furnishings plus odds and ends they didn’t need and some of the boxes with his files and work records had been looked through and burned, not having any relevance to anyone. Earl’s laboratory had also been cleared out and the rest of the boxes had been stored there.

Weeks went by and nothing unusual happened, that is, until Roger was going through some of his father’s boxes on a Saturday afternoon. Inside one of them, he found a shoe box with a couple of letters and what appeared to be a journal of some kind. He thought it was letters Earl had written to his mother when he was overseas, but both letters were dated 1929, 14 years after he had married Carissa, and nine years after he was born. He opened the first one it and began to read.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Sep 18, 1929

Dear Earl,

First, I want to thank you for the lovely dinners and the lovely time we had together. You are such a gentleman, so marvelously funny to be with and I look forward to your return later this year- in fact, I can hardly wait.

The office of the Department of Agriculture is arranging your next contract, which will include some soil surveys and an assessment of the fruit growing areas north of here. You must prepare yourself for some extensive traveling by car and, as you have already experienced, the roads are not the best.

You asked me to keep you abreast of the political situation here in Argentina. I can tell you that President Hipólito Yrigoyen was only elected last year. This is his second time, as he was first elected for a term in 1916. Both houses of Congress are controlled by his party, the Radicals, most of whom are middle-class political professionals, who favor social reform. There is a lingering unrest amongst the conservatives, who feel the experiment in democracy threatens the socioeconomic net in the country, but the government’s agricultural policies have been quite successful and for the moment, things appear stable. The military has undergone changes in the last decade and it seems the officer core, many of whom are sons of the landed aristocracy, is unhappy with the entire political system, as are scores inside the church hierarchy, who also represent the old elite. Many of them own huge estates (estancias, as they are called here) with impressive mansions. You will see some of them when you come again.

As you know, Carlos Gardel, our national tango idol, is back in Buenos Aires again. He returned after touring Paris and Madrid in June together with the two guitarists Barbieri and Aguilar and they are now playing in all the best restaurants and bistros here in the city. I love the songs “Adiós Muchachos, Cuando tú no estás, Lo han visto con otra” and so many more. Too bad there wasn’t time to go and dance when you when you were here. Gardel is immensely popular.

As soon as I receive the contract proposals from the Minister of Agriculture’s secretary, I’ll look them over and send the documents to you. Don’t forget to address any correspondence related to the contract to me at the following address

Srta. Andrea Zucaro, Abogado

Derecho Departamento Legal

Ministerio de Economía

Avenida Del Libertador 2800

Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Please send personal letters to my home address. My secretary opens all my mail (my instructions) before she gives it to me and she is quite inquisitive.

I can’t wait to see you and hold you in my arms again.

Con mucho amor

Andrea

“Vivian! Come in here” Roger shouted. You’ve got to see this”. Vivian came running into the old lab. “What is it, Roger, what’s so important?” she asked.

“Look, I found a shoebox with some letters that appear to be some kind of personal correspondence of dad’s. There is also a journal of a kind. I just read the first letter from 1929, and it looks like father had a love affair in Argentina”, he said

He handed the letter to Vivian who began to read it. “Oh my God she said, it’s clear as crystal he had an affair with this woman, Andrea.” She looked into the box with the letters and grabbed the second one. “Well, let’s see, the next letter, she said. It is also postmarked 1929. She unfolded the pages in great anticipation and began to read it aloud.

Brighton House,

Farnborough, England,

October 8, 1929

Dearest Andrea,

Thanks for your letter, which arrived yesterday. The marvel of the new transatlantic ocean liners surely do speed up the mail service between Europe and the American continent. In the old days, your letter would not have arrived for another two weeks or more at the best. SS Bremen, a German ocean liner, made the trip from Bremerhaven to New York in four days, 17 hours, and 42 minutes in July of this year. I guess the mail to Argentina is then forwarded from New York to Montevideo and then to Buenos Aires via mail steamer. There is talk of perhaps getting trans-Atlantic flights in the near future. Some flights have already crossed the Atlantic between continental Europe and America, but no announcements of commercial flights have been made yet. Time wise that would be a huge advantage over travel by ocean liners and think about the affect it would have on international mail service

Let me hasten to say that meeting you was one of the most exciting things that ever happened in my life. You are an incredibly beautiful and gracious woman, someone I have dreamt of meeting all my life. I was completely honest with you when I explained I was married and had a nine-year old son, but there is much more to tell, especially after I made love to you the night before I left. You have no idea how wonderful it was. I never have I felt as happy in my life.

After my son Roger was born in 1920, my wife changed in ways that are hard to explain. Our love life fell apart or perhaps I should say “crashed into a wall” and never recovered. No matter how hard I tried to revive it, nothing worked. For the last nine years, I have outwardly projected being happily married, but the truth is quite the opposite. I thought about divorcing Carissa, but I think Roger is too young yet. He needs a father as well as a mother. I’m essentially quite unhappy about the whole depressing situation.

I have worried a great deal about the stock market the last few of month and decided to cash in all my investments. I bought gold instead and stored it in a security box in a bank in Zurich, Switzerland. Since I made a very handsome profit on my investments, the amount of gold bullion I bought was very substantial, although I had to pay a premium over the world price of $21.00 per ounce. Don’t ask me how I managed to acquire the gold, since there are some questions yet as to the legality of a private citizen owning gold bullion here in England. If you or your family have any investments in stocks or bonds, you should consider cashing them in. The stock markets around the world, especially in New York, are running wild with uncontrolled speculation. Surely, this cannot continue and sooner or later some kind of adjustment to the inflated values must happen, which will mean losses for a lot of people.

You said your family was in the cattle business. Do they have a ranch? Since Britain imports a lot of beef from Argentina, one never knows if perhaps our next roast beef came from your family’s cattle business (I’m joking). We also import a lot of grain from your country. Britain never could grow enough of their own to satisfy the market.

Before I return to Argentina, is there anything I can bring you from Europe or New York? I may book on that ocean liner “Bremen” if the departure time fits with my plans.

I’m anxiously awaiting the contract documents so I can plan my next trip and be with you again. I’ll sign off in the same way as you did.

Con mucho amor

Earl

“I’m astounded”, said Roger. “I had no idea there was anything like that going on, I mean Earl having a lover overseas, and this is before mother died- it’s unimaginable to me. I don’t think mother had any inkling about anything untoward”. “If she did, she never let on to me”.

“Look, Roger, there’s something odd going on here”, said Vivian. “We just read a letter that Earl had sent to Argentina”. “Look at the stamp; it has been cancelled, so it must have been sent”. “How can the letter be here then?” “There is no indication it has been returned from Argentina”.

“I have no idea” said Roger and picked up the next letter from the bundle marked “A-2” 1929 and began reading.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Noviembre 3, 1929

Querido Earl,

I received your letter two days ago and how right you were with the stock market. The New York stock exchange crash that culminated on October 29th must have been a horrible situation for thousands of investors all over the world. I’m uncertain just how bad the crash has affected investors in Argentina. Many of the wealthy people here own land, rather than stocks and bonds and few if any amongst the working class have any investments and if they did, it would be in Argentinean businesses. My father is a land owner, having inherited the family estate from his father and he in turn from my great grandfather, who came from a small village called Dicomano, north of Firenze in Italy. He married the daughter and only child of a wealthy landowner and thus came into possession of the estate. I’m also the only child of my parents. The estate is near the town of Tres Arrollos, in the province of Buenos Aires.

The department of agriculture have approved the contract for the soil surveys and economic assessment of specified fruit growing regions. I should have the documents on my desk within a week and will forward them to you pronto. If you have any questions, please cable me. Assuming all goes well, you should be able to depart for Argentina in January next year and frankly, I can hardly wait for your return. Will you be staying at Hotel Castellar again?

On the political scene, things are much the same. There is uncertainty with respect to exports of grain and beef, given that the crash no doubt will affect the international markets and some reduction in exports has already been noted. There is upward pressure on interest rates, but no run on the banks as of yet.

You may want to investigate the possibility of flying from Panama to Buenos Aires. A company called Panagra now provides air transportation for passengers, mail and cargo over a 4,251-mile network of routes from Panama, Through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. The service only began this year, but seems to be growing in popularity. It would probably cut your travel time by one week, since you will only have to sail from New York to Panama and then fly from there.

All girls like to be spoiled, but you don’t have to bring me anything, Earl- just yourself.

Con mucho amor

Andrea

 

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The Kidnapping

By Kenny Beechmount

 

It was 5:30 in the afternoon. Carol, Robert and their two-year old son had just arrived in town from a bus tour around the Vermont countryside to see the woods in their wonderful fall colours.  They checked in at the Woodside Motel and freshened up a bit, before heading across the road to the Swan family restaurant. It was filled to near capacity with a mixture of patrons, ranging from some laughing teenagers at a table over in one corner to elderly couples and parents with children.  The waitresses were busy, moving around with serving trays filled with either empty dishes or loaded with food, the kind that was typically served in an average family restaurant.

Carol and Robert were seated at a table by the window, close to the main entry.  Their two-year old son was in a high chair, drinking juice from a bottle. They had never been to Vermont before, but had decided to take this trip to celebrate Robert’s promotion to senior technical adviser at the auto parts manufacturing plant he had worked at for several years in Detroit, and also, because Carol had spent her childhood in an orphanage in New Hampshire next door to Vermont, and she wanted to get another look at the nature that she remembered so well from her childhood.

Robert’s promotion was somewhat of a crowning achievement for him, especially considering his impoverished and insecure orphan background.  He had never known his parents and had gone through one orphanage after another and several temporary homes up until he was 16, when he got his first job.  That was the beginning of his unwavering determination to get a slice of the good life, which began after he received his degree in mechanical engineering in 1971 at the age of 27.  Carol had met and fallen in love with him at the college they were both attending and they were married shortly after his graduation.

The waitress came to their table with the menu and asked if they wanted something to drink. “Two gin and tonic would be fine” said Robert. “We will order a bit later.”

There was a lot of chatting going on at the many tables, a rather noisy atmosphere that pretty much drowned out the background music.  Occasionally someone’s boisterous laughter could be heard above the hubbub, but that was not out of the ordinary in this restaurant. Many of the patrons were locals that often dined there and laughing loudly-having a good time- it just went with the territory.

Robert and Carol ordered from the menu and fell into some chit-chatting about what to do with the extra $14,000.00 a year that Robert would be making in his new position.

The front door opened up and two policemen, accompanied by a woman entered.

“There’s my child” shouted the woman, “those people kidnapped my son.”

The two policemen approached the table and asked for their names.

“My name is Robert Nero and this is my wife Carol.  There must be some mistake, this is our son.  We haven’t kidnapped anyone.”

The woman started yelling at them. “You kidnapped my boy,-this is my son.”  She moved over to the high chair took the child and began hugging it.  Carol screamed at her and tried to wrestle her boy away from the woman.  Robert stood up and shouted at her to let go his son.  The two policemen grabbed his arms and told him to calm down.

The commotion at the table caught the attention of several patrons, who watched the situation with disbelief. One of the police officers asked Robert and Carol to accompany them to the police station, to solve the matter there. Carol insisted on holding her child, but instead, the other policeman said he would hold it until they got to the station.  “There is no need to panic,” he said.  “If this is a case of mistaken identity, the situation will resolve itself in no time.

They were led outside, and put into a black van with both side and rear doors.  One of the policemen sat on the front seat holding the child in his arms, the other began driving.  The woman followed in another vehicle, but some distance down the interstate highway, she overtook the black van and sped ahead of it.

She pulled off the interstate at an exit to a small town, parked her car in a parking lot and waited.  Not long after, the black van showed up and the two police officers exited, one with the child in his arms. No sign of Robert and Carol.  The woman came over and handed each of them an envelope, took the child and without saying anything, went over to a car in the parking lot, but not the one she had arrived in.  She opened the door, put the child in a child car seat on the back seat, strapped it in, slid in behind the wheel and drove off into the night.

The two policemen looked at each other and grinned. “That was an easy $10.000 for a few hours work.”  One of the policemen entered the black van and the other the car the woman had left behind and both vehicles drove off.

Three weeks later, on November 26, 1976, a story appeared in the Vermont Daily News:

Two people found burned to death in an abandoned quarry near Westville.

 Police was called to an old abandoned granite quarry near Westville, late yesterday afternoon. A hunter had found a burned out van with two bodies still sitting on the front seats, but burnt completely beyond recognition.  The coroner was unable to establish the time and cause of death and no identification was found, but it is presumed to be a homicide.  The vehicle was reported stolen three weeks ago from a dealership in Riverside. The dead persons may be from out of state, as no-one has been reported missing in Vermont during the last month. The forensic unit will be doing a thorough investigation in the hope of identifying the remains. The abandoned quarry is quite isolated and rarely visited by anyone and so far, no-one has reported seeing the van.  There is some speculation that it may be a drug-related homicide.

Four month later, on page two of the same newspaper, a follow-up story on the granite quarry double homicide appeared.  “Intensive investigation into the crime had not revealed how the two people died.  One was a woman, the other a man.  Neither showed any signs of having died violently and the condition of the burned bodies did not permit further forensic investigations.  No-one was reported missing from Vermont, nor the neighboring states. The case remains unsolved and no longer under active investigation.”

SAN FRANSICO DAILY CHRONICLE

    July 16, 2007.

 Kidnapping mystery:

 A well known woman in the cosmetics business, Annette Nero, who owned four stores in San Francisco, passed away on July 12 after a long battle with cancer.  Her only child, Robert Nero, inherited the substantial business and fortune from his mother, but a letter attached to the will revealed a mystery that will require criminal investigations into Ms. Nero’s past.

The letter, in her own handwriting, revealed that she was not the mother of Robert; rather he had been kidnapped when he was two years old in the state of Vermont. His father’s name was Robert Nero, who was her brother.  They had been separated as children and brought up in different orphanages and her brother did not know he had a sister.  Their parents had both died in an automobile accident.  She had been brutally raped when she was ten years old by the head of the orphanage she was being raised in and as a result was unable to have children of her own.

She stated that she had been told she had a brother and had much later successfully traced his whereabouts and kept an eye on him. She desperately wanted a child of her own, and when she found out her brother had a son, the idea of kidnapping his child came to her one day when she found out he was flying to Vermont for a vacation. She booked on the same flight and took the same bus tour as his and brother and his wife and child.  It was easy, since her brother did not know her.

She said she had not been able to trace her brother’s whereabouts after the kidnapping.  It appeared he had moved and for obvious reasons, she did not want to pursue the matter.  She asked her “son” for forgiveness and said that perhaps he could find his real father and mother and ask them to forgive her.

Kenny Beechmount

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