Sunday, November 13, 2011

For Three-Word Wednesday and Sunday Scribblings

(Also for ABC Wednesday and Magpie 91)
"R" is for "Revolutionary"

The prompt this week struck me with force. It’s as though it could easily serve as illustration of a famous event that happened on one hot July day in Russia back in 1918.
The girl stares about her, unable to comprehend the enormity of an incredible catastrophe. The empty chairs represent the members of her family, all slaughtered by revolutionary Bolsheviks. She alone survived.
For me, this provided the impetus to write the following story. Since it was posted almost two years ago, I thought folks might not mind if I submitted it again. Here ‘tis…


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 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 1918, the Russian royal family, the Romanoffs, may have begun the year thinking they were firmly established as rulers of Russia. But that year they were brutally voted out: the entire family was assassinated by revolutionary 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; instead of seeking vindication, all she wanted was 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 as a kind of solace, and it was 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 dollars.
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!”

46 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

Fascinating study of what something is worth, and how it depends on circumstances.

Kathe W. said...

imagine looking about at all the empty chairs-and being the only one left. The cost wouldn't be worth 1000 Faberge eggs

Kay L. Davies said...

Anastasia. The last of the Romanoffs.
Kathe is right. Nothing would be worth the cost.
And you are right, you and Victor, telling Mike to have the egg replaced in order to avoid a massive investigation.

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

Sue said...

Interesting story. And I liked Victor's solution.

=)

Carrie Burtt said...

This fascinating story is perfect for the photo prompt Berowne!! Really makes you think!...And yes the photo really has a striking force. :-)

Nanka said...

Interesting with some history too!!
A very very large financial situation with some strange or rather strained circumstances for Mike!! But that solution seemed quite sensible!!

Berowne said...

Great way to start the week, with such fine comments--from Roger O G, Kathe W, Kay L D, Sue, Carrie B and Nanka. Thanks.

izzy said...

Thanks this is great!

Lyn said...

The enigmatic little Anastasia, looking over her shoulder, no throne, just chairs..interesting how ideas come together. A twice told tale...good!

Leslie: said...

Great take on the photo! I've always been intrigued by the last of the Russian royals and enjoyed the story and its message.

hedgewitch said...

Always a fascinating walk through the archives of history when I come here, sir. I always found it interesting that the Bolsheviks threw the bodies in a mass unmarked grave so that until modern DNA technology emerged(which has supposedly confirmed all the Romanoffs were executed, and eliminates poor Anna, but who wants to spoil a great story) they could never be positively identified. When you think about the morbid, exaggerated reverence with which they treated the body of Lenin it seems either an act of deliberate contempt or a misplaced desire not to make martyrs of them. It was a very terrible and unsettled time. Thanks for the modern twist, and the sidenote of how crime actually sometimes doesn't pay (unless you're a hedge fund manager. ;_) )

Stafford Ray said...

Enjoyed this story as always, but to punks like that history is just a word. They would simply melt it down and and sell the gold!

Brian Miller said...

huh, intriguing and unique take berowne...a lot of this incident while disturbing is fascinating as well...i can not imagine life in her shoes...

Tumblewords: said...

A simple world made complex by the vagaries of men. Wonderful post.

Jo Bryant said...

i never fail to be amazed at what you come up with for these prompts - as always - fascinating post
;)

Berowne said...

Thanks so much Jo B, Tumble, Brian M and Stafford R -- great comments.

Berowne said...

Hedgewitch: "Until modern DNA technology emerged(which has supposedly confirmed all the Romanoffs were executed."
Yes, what I wrote was fiction, of course. The sad truth is, the young Grand Duchess didn't survive and there was never a chance that Anna Anderson was Anastasia.

Berowne said...

Izzy, Lyn and Leslie--for your comments, my sincere thanks.

Hildred and Charles said...

An ironic tale.

Joy said...

Great fable from the prompt. I vaguely remember that there are still some of the imperial Fabergé missing from that time. Guess this is one of them:-)

Hazel said...

Finds like those are always complicated and highly interesting.

P.S. Rumor has it Santa is going to explore tropical fireplaces this year. Or so Anastasia's namesake muses :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Berowne: Russian history is so utterly fascinating! The screenplay very Pasternak or Chekov...and definitely not as droll as the 3 hours of Battleship Potemkin! Chiccoreal

Roy Schulze said...

I love fiction that draws so My Magpie this week is Goldilockswell on history. In fact there's a school of thought that history may be better told as fiction.

Sheilagh Lee said...

lol Easter egg Happy Easter.

Mar said...

History is fascinating, I enjoyed your story and the pictures very much!

r is for...

Berowne said...

Mar: "History is fascinating."
I'll second that motion. :-)

Berowne said...

Hildred and Charles, Joy, Hazel, Roy S and Sheilagh L -- always great to hear from you; thanks.

Francisca said...

Another ravishing read, Berowne!

Ramesh Sood said...

Absolutely beautiful...what an interesting solution.. thanks..

I am here for 3ww

http://rameshsood.blogspot.com/2011/11/where-i-had-left-my-feet.html

Do visit.

Berowne said...

Francisca: "Another ravishing read, Berowne!" Ramesh S: "Absolutely beautiful."
I am genuinely grateful for the fine comments I've received this week...

Helen said...

So glad you re-posted this .... I am an official follower of Berowne as of today!!

MaryA said...

I always look forward to your terrific dialogue and I am always delighted by the way your bring historical reference into your writing.

ds said...

Oh, this is wonderful. Always hoped Anna Anderson had been telling the truth (but she wasn't, was she?). Thank you.

Dave King said...

Superb. I'm really glad you decided to repost this. Thank you.

Berowne said...

Special thanks to Dave K, ds, MaryA and Helen for some choice comments.

Christine said...

I always wonder how long it will take for many missing items from that era to start showing up at garage sales and the sort. So much history missing hopefully not destroyed.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful pics and wonderful write! http://annellannell.wordpress.com

Morning said...

amazing one, well done.

jaerose said...

Beautifully woven..like cracking open a perfectly cooked egg..Jae

Berowne said...

annellannell: "Wonderful pics and wonderful write!"
And wonderful comment. :-)

Berowne said...

jaerose: "Beautifully woven..like cracking open a perfectly cooked egg."
Now if I only had some bacon. :-) Thanks, jaerose.

Alice Audrey said...

LOL. Happy Easter indeed. Actually, not a bad idea.

oldegg said...

Yes, I am sure I have read this piece before but it was well worth a rerun. Monarchies, dictatorships, corrupt governments etc., all think that they are invincible and by doing so bestow worse horrors on their citizens in the end. Lots of lessons here but no ears to hear them. Great writing.

Berowne said...

Helen: "I am an official follower of Berowne as of today!!"
And I'll follow you, Helen, to Helen back. :-)

Gerry/Strummed Words said...

How clever to think of Anastasia amid the ruins...

Baishali said...

oh just loved it. such a brilliant take ... :)

 
Blog designed by Blogger Boutique using Christy Skagg's "A Little Bit of That" kit.