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Fiction Historical Fiction

Junior’s eyes sparkled as he unclasped his mother’s diamond bracelet from her wrist. She didn’t notice.

“John, I just don’t understand why we can’t take from principal,” she said. 

“Evelyn, I’ve told you, as trustee, I am forbidden to withdraw in that manner,” Father said.

They had been at it for an hour. Mother wanted money for a fur coat. She told Junior that if they asked Father about it while he was at work, eventually, if they were persistent enough, Father would shoo her away with whatever she needed.

“But it’s our money, John. I don’t see why we can’t do what we want to do with our money.”

“Evelyn, I am a fiduciary. I am bound to protect our money for the benefit of our family, for us, for Junior.” Father pointed at Junior for emphasis. As he gestured, his mouth dropped open and he jerked his head back and to the side, staring at his son’s stealthy feat.

“Junior, be careful with that! That’s your mother’s bracelet. It was—“

“I still don’t see why we can’t just withdraw the money,” Mother interrupted. “This coat is for MY benefit. It’s 1921, John. Everyone at the club is wearing fur. If Blanche can have fur, I should . . . “

As they continued their discussion, Junior slipped out of Father’s office and into the long hallway of the third floor of the Younts-DeBoe building, where the newly formed law firm of Inglethorpe & Cavendish resided. But to Junior, this hallway was not situated on the third floor of the Younts-DeBoe building. No, this hallway was a passage to Camelot, where King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table held court. Junior had stolen Morgana Pendragon’s prized bracelet of power, right under the noses of Morgana and Merlin, and now he was delivering the prize. This was the last task of his pathway to knighthood. 

“I have returned, my King! I have the bracelet!” Junior shouted from outside the castle wall. 

“Splendid, Page Inglethorpe! Place the bracelet in the dumbwaiter and hoist it up to us!” King Arthur shouted from atop the castle wall. 

Junior lifted the door on the castle’s dumbwaiter and threw the bracelet inside.

“No, Junior!” Father shouted from down the hall, running as fast as he could to no avail. 

The dumbwaiter had no cart and no shaft. Junior heard the bracelet clang against the iron interior of the dumbwaiter. The bracelet fell to oblivion, into the underbelly of Arthur’s Castle.

Father picked up Junior by the arms and slapped him hard five times on the face. “THIS is WHY we CAN’T HAVE nice THINGS.” 

“John!” Mother screamed. “No, John.”

Father threw Junior to the ground. Mother ran to Junior’s side.

Father broke Junior’s jaw. The doctor ordered Junior’s mouth wired shut for six weeks. Mother told the ladies at the club that poor Junior fell down the stairs. 

Junior’s jaw eventually healed, but his trust in his parents never did. Over the next year, he watched Father engage in what Father called “mental reservations,” which were really lies disguised as rationalizations or justifications, sometimes both rationalizations and justifications. Father explained his late nights at the office as the acts of an “important man doing important things.” When Mother surprised him with a pot roast one night, she walked in on him and Edith. Edith was his secretary. 

In spite of Father’s inability to be faithful to Mother, Junior did admire Father’s acumen. The mental gymnastics required to justify adultery to an angry spouse must have been Olympian. Like, we’re talking Mary Lou Retton getting a perfect ten on the vault twice in a row Olympian. But perhaps not. Not long after she caught Father and Edith mid-coitus, Mother got the fur coat. 

One morning, a hundred years later, John Maynard Inglethorpe, IV, a fourth generation parnter at Inglethorpe & Cavendish, walked from the parking lot toward the back door of the Younts-Deboe building. He fought the urge to return to his car a third time, just to make sure he had locked it. He fidgeted with his wedding band as he trod. Earlier in the week Malcolm, his associate, informed him that the stair step cracks in the building’s foundation would need to be fixed sooner than later. Inglethorpe wouldn’t have bought the building if he knew he’d incur over a hundred grand in expenses every year. 

Before heading in for the day, Inglethorpe wanted to inspect the foundation gaps. Once he was in front of the broken foundation, Inglethorpe ran his hand along the largest of the foundation fissures. This one was almost three inches wide. The mid-morning sun made something glimmer from the darkness under the building. He pulled out a pen light from his waistcoat and peered inside.

“Diamonds?” Inglethorpe said aloud.

A diamond bracelet was just beyond the reach of his hand. He extended the telescoping pointer that he kept in his pocket and hooked the bracelet on its tip.

“Gotcha,” he said. 

He scraped his platinum cufflink on the exposed brick as he pulled the bracelet from the crevice. He held the bracelet up in the sunlight. It refracted rainbows and sparkled. The inscription on the inside of the bracelet read “To my dearest Evelyn, love John.”

Inglethorpe placed the diamond bracelet in his waistcoat and headed inside to his office. On the way in, he passed eyed the still-broken dumbwaiter at the rear of the third floor. He ran his hand over its secrets. He touched his jaw, as if if throbbed in pain for a brief moment. 

Once in his office, he shut the glass French doors and held the framed photo of him and his grandfather. His grandfather had a boxy jaw, as if it had been broken when he was young and it didn’t quite heal right. His grandfather held him tightly in the portrait. 

“I found Morgana Pendragon’s bracelet, my Lord,” Inglethorpe said to the photo. 

The photograph said nothing in reply, at least not out loud. But inwardly, Inglethorpe noticed that his heart was beating a little slower. He felt less compelled to twist his ring. He didn’t even think about whether he had locked his car. 

March 19, 2021 17:05

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1 comment

Amarah Friedman
20:53 Mar 27, 2021

Interesting story. I like the concept and the piece about his father's incredible mental gymnastics-- it was a nice touch. The time jump was a bit confusing, but overall I enjoyed reading!


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