Saturday, January 22, 2011

For Writer's Island (and "Eternity")

Victor: I’ve told you before, I don’t like doing this.
Mike: I know, but this is something special. I really need your help. An expert like you can tell me if this thing is worth real money. If so, well, there’s a big chunk of dough in it for you.
Victor: All right, let me have a look at it.

Mike: There. What do you think? Somethin’, isn’t it? Go ahead, take your time, no hurry. Look it over good.
Victor: I don’t need to look it over. I can say with perfect clarity that I know exactly what it is.
Mike: You do? You mean it’s famous?
Victor: You could say that. How did you get this?
Mike: There are two young men who sort of work for me. They – er – acquired it.
Victor: You’re a fence, aren’t you, Mike? And the two young men are punks who steal stuff for you, right?
Mike: Now, wait a minute. How they got it or how it got here isn’t the question. All I want to know from you is, what’s it worth?
Victor: What did you pay for it?
Mike: Well, I figured I could always sell it for fifty dollars – a hundred if I’m lucky. So I gave them thirty-five bucks for it.
Victor: Thirty-five bucks. Unbelievable…
Mike: It’s worth more? A lot more?
Victor: To you it’s worth nothing. You wasted your thirty-five bucks.
Mike: What are you trying to pull? It’s gotta be worth something.

Victor: Let me give you a bit of history. Way back in the year 1918, the Russian royal family, the Romanoffs, thought they were firmly established as rulers of Russia for all eternity. But in that year the entire family was assassinated by Bolshevik secret police. You’ve heard about this?
Mike: Sort of.
Victor: Then maybe you also heard that one of the daughters, Anastasia, managed to live through the assassination attempt and escaped.

She later lived in Europe for years under the name of Anna Anderson. The word got around in recent years that she had moved to the States and spent the rest of her life here. Nobody could verify this; she wanted to avoid all publicity.
Mike: And this thing belonged to her?
Victor: You guessed it. She had this magnificent ceremonial Easter egg with her at all times, the only thing she had been able to save.
Mike: And you’re trying to tell me it isn’t worth anything?

Victor: It isn’t worth anything to you. That girl, just a teenager at the time of the assassination attempt, was a royal princess: the Grand Duchess Anastasia. If you could put this up for auction now I imagine the bidding would begin at around twenty million.
Mike: Holy smoke!
Victor: But if you tried to sell it you’d have cops and FBI and Interpol and God knows who else after you. Your life would be in danger. And the law would learn a lot about your operations you’d just as soon they didn’t know.
Mike: You wouldn’t consider buying it, would you?
Victor: I would not. There’s never going to be anything but headaches with this. Way I see it, the person who owns it – or owned it before it was stolen from him – was keeping it very quiet, and probably for good reason.
Mike: So what am I supposed to do?
Victor: I’ll tell you what you should do. Pay the two hoodlums who stole this to carefully take it back to the home they stole it from. Leave it on the doorstep with a note saying “Easter egg. Happy Easter!” Then ring the doorbell and run like hell.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant. Clarity personified.

Dave King said...

Ingenious. The story held me throughout.

kathew said...

This was a fun early morning read!

Eliza said...

Oh, I like that! Beautiful photographs too.

Berowne said...

Thanks vivinfrance, Dave King, kathew and Eliza for some great comments.

lightverse said...

Now that's clarity! (And a most excellent pairing of photographs and script!)

Trulyfool said...


I am Anastasia's great-great-grandson via 'casual' encounters. The genealogy involves one or two heroic escapes, a secluded locomotive escape from Ukraine, and not a few haybarns.

My DNA will stand the test. Go ahead. Make my day.


Leslie: said...

You had me right from the start! Brilliant...I've decided to "follow" you as I enjoy your ABCW posts so fascinating that your other posts must be just as good - I was right! lol

Berowne said...

Leslie: "You had me right from the start! Brilliant."
A very generous comment, Leslie. Thanks.

jaerose said...

Beautiful photographs to illustrate your dialogue (fantastic as always) - and a great always have so a unique response to the prompts..Jae

Altonian said...

Mike and Victor, the Abbott and Costello of the 'fencing' world. Hilarious finish, I liked this a lot - well done!

Old Altonian said...

My first comment was obviously not approved, so quite simply - a very good dialogue. I enjoyed it.

Berowne said...

Old Altonian: "My first comment was obviously not approved..."
Oh, it was approved, and very much appreciated. I was just busy elsewhere. Thanks a lot.

Berowne said...

"Beautiful photographs to illustrate your dialogue (fantastic as always)."
What a terrific comment from jaerose -- my thanks as always.

Reflections said...

Loved it! And the last line is 'priceless'! Interesting turn in that final line.

Nita Jo said...

Your writing style is so easy to read. I loved the whole premise of this story, including the pictures!

oldegg said...

Now that fence wasn't so clever was he? $35 was easy to part with as there are always many private collectors willing to pay good money for stolen artworks, that they alone will know they have in their secret collection.

This takes nothing away from your story which as usual was a delight.

Abigail Bunting said...

I completely enjoyed your story... I've always been fascinated with the Grand Duchess Anastasia.

Elizabeth said...

In college, I was particularly drawn to Russian history and that of the Romanoffs. Enjoyed your story very much and your deft use of that history.


Berowne said...

My thanks for a fine comment from my friend Elizabeth.

Kate said...

"Happy Easter!" Love it.

Saire said...

Your dialogue is always so well-written! Just fab :) I really enjoyed this piece because I have never been able to understand why people steal objet d'art and expect to make money from it. They make movies about these grand heists all the time, but I've never quite seen the point. I love that the egg is so valuable but also quite useless. Great stuff! :)

Berowne said...

Saire: "Your dialogue is always so well-written! Just fab." :)
You write pretty great comments, too. :-)

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