This week's gossip:
Who: Anthony Black (Hmmm . . . I wonder if he's related to Hayley)
What: lost key, a bounced check, a next door neighbor, dusty attic
Where: a small town
First line: The old woman turned and smiled.
Let us find out if Mr. Black is related to Hayley, indeed.
The old woman turned and smiled.
"Seeing you eat those remind me of my time in England."
"Excuse me?" I asked, wondering what she was talking about, or to for that matter. Sometimes when talking to seniors they tend to fade in and out of memories. Who knows, maybe she was thinking I was an old lover of hers or something, or had a really good sandwich, which is what I was currently stuffing my mouth with.
"Your chips," she pointed to the half-eaten tube of Salt and Vinegar chips that I was happily munching on. "They remind me of my time in England."
"How's that?" I ask, not really knowing if I want to be drawn into a conversation during my lunch break.
"When I was younger, I used to live in a small town in England, some shire or something like it - my memory fades," she smiles back at me knowingly. " I remember one time fondly enough though, amazingly. I went over to a next door neighbor to complain about the bounced check that my former work place just sent me."
"Interesting, but I only have a few minutes left on my break..." I froze at what I was saying, remembering that Mom always told me that no matter what I need to respect the wishes of those who were my senior. "I'm sorry, that was very rude of me, please continue."
"Oh, no problem dear, I understand that you have work to be getting back to and I don't want to keep you here listening to some old story by some old lady."
"My apologies, please continue."
With a nod of her head she continued where she left off.
"Anyway, as I was complaining about my circumstances my neighbor invited me in to share some fish and chips that he had just picked up down the street. Lovely food that. We always doused it with a liberal amount of vinegar and salt, so seeing your chips reminded me of that."
"Oh, I get it. Yeah sure, right. Okay..."
"Which got me to remember something that I have and need to give to someone. Someone that can be trusted, and that could use it. You seem to be the kind of person, I am looking for."
"What? No ma'am, there is no need to do anything like that." I started.
"Nonsense, it's my treasure, and if I want to give it away, I can do just that."
"Well, it's probably not much, but you look like someone that likes a challenge with some possible adventure involved." She looked me square in the eye, almost like she was looking through me with her violet eyes. How could I have missed those, wow.
"After our lunch my neighbor wanted to show me something, so I followed him to his dusty attic, where he retrieved a box that looked as though it hadn't seen the light of day in ages. The wood was so well oiled and unblemished, in fact now that I think about it, there wasn't much dust, if any, on it either," she paused reflectively thinking back to that day. "He opened the box and pulled out several sheets of paper that had notations all over it and what appeared to be a map, or two.
"There was also an old key in the box that he said was the lost key to the secret, one that has been kept for several hundred years. He told me that one day, after my eighty-sixth birthday, I would 'find' someone that was to be given the key and..."
"Wait. What secret?"
"That's just it, he never told me. In fact, if I remember correctly he was killed in a freak accident the next day before I could ask."
"So, now you are eighty-six and you want to give this lost key to me and I'm supposed to do what exactly?"
"I don't know, but here is the key, " she hands over the key, which really doesn't look like much, except for the engravings of some words along the stem and the fleur-de-lis design on the top of the key. It looked like a mixture of two different styles that had been smashed together to be honest. Quite an ugly key in fact.
"Good luck, young man."
"Wait! What am I supposed to do with this?" I yelled back at her, but she just kept on walking.
"So what are you going to do Anthony Black?"
"I really don't know Hayley, I wasn't going to do anything, but then I saw today's paper."
"What about it?"
"You know that gas station explosion that injured Aunt Babs?
"Well, there was a casualty after all? They found a body after digging through all of the rubble. It seems no one knew there was anyone there, so they weren't looking for anyone. Once the excavation began they found her." Pointing towards the front page of the paper was a picture of an elderly woman, with the headline:
"Local heiress found in rubble of GasCo explosion"
Emilia Sarah Cavanaugh March 3, 1925 - March 4, 2011
Okay, I'll admit that I just threw this together, but it might have some legs. :) Hope you have a great day and enjoyed reading this. - R