StoryRhyme After Dark: The Inheritance
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By Harry Buschman
Her name was Madge, but out on the street everyone knew her as “sister.” A bag lady without a name. She pushed a Walmart cart she found in a parking lot on Third Avenue and in it was everything she owned.
Except one thing, and that was a pin her grandmother gave her when she was little. “If things ever get tough,” her grandmother said, “remember you’ve got this to fall back on... It’s worth a fortune, Madge.”
Things were getting tougher and tougher and it was on her mind at the moment. She took one hand off the handle of the shopping cart and felt three layers down to her underwear to make sure it was still there... It was.
They told her in the emergency room last week that she’d be dead in less than a year if she didn’t get out of New York. She’d be lucky if she made it through the winter they said. She knew that. Long before they ever told her... She knew that. She had very little breath left and pushing the cart uphill or down was getting too much for her.
When you’re pushing a shopping cart on the street it’s not easy to stop off at a jeweler and sell a priceless pin... Not when you’re wearing a pair of men’s jeans, three sweaters and a pale lavender hat over a head of hair you haven’t combed in more than a year.
And Abe, the pawnbroker wouldn’t touch it. “What do I know from jewelry? Do I look like a Tiffany? You got a violin? A catcher’s mitt with Yogi Berra’s name on it? We can do business. Otherwise bug off sister, Abe Silver wasn’t born yesterday.”
Her last chance was Father McKenzie. He would understand, and to make him listen she would tell him the story, the whole story before her breath failed her completely... In the confessional where everything you say must be the truth, he would believe her. “My grandmother was a gentle lady, Father... The wife of Richard Simmons… He owned the Boston and Maine Railroad… The only railroad line in New England... They had a summer house at the cape... They had no children... I used to spend summers there.”
She went on breathlessly. “She gave me this… Isn’t it lovely..? She said my grandfather gave it to her... On their fiftieth wedding anniversary.”
Father McKenzie glanced at the pin and looked back again at Madge through the little window in the confessional booth. She had slumped back in her seat. Her eyes were closed. He entered her side of the booth and felt for a pulse. He could barely detect one, if indeed there was any at all, Reaching under his cassock he pulled out his cell phone and dialed 911. She still held the pin. He took it and put it with the other worthless items in her shopping cart. He made a mental note to have the sexton wheel it out to the trash in the morning.
(c) 2014 Harry Buschman