(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!”
1 year ago