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Stanley's Egg

Stanley's Egg

Автором Robert Smith

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Stanley's Egg

Автором Robert Smith

Длина:
239 pages
3 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Mar 29, 2012
ISBN:
9781476272559
Формат:
Книге

Описание

When Stanley inherited the Imperial Fabergé Egg he had no idea what was in store. This comic novel follows Stanley as he stumbles from one predicament to the next,finding romance but also danger. What he finally does with the Egg will surprise you. Would you do the same? While the novel is fictional humor, all the facts relating to the Egg and the others still missing are accurate.

Издатель:
Издано:
Mar 29, 2012
ISBN:
9781476272559
Формат:
Книге

Об авторе

Robert Courtney Smith is Associate Professor of Sociology, Immigration Studies and Public Affairs, School of Public Affairs, Baruch College, and Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is the coeditor of Migration, Transnationalization, and Race in a Changing New York (2001). He is cofounder of the Mexican Educational Foundation of New York, a 501c(3) organization.

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Stanley's Egg - Robert Smith

Stanley’s Egg

Published by Robert A. Smith

Copyright 2012 by Robert A. Smith

Smashwords Edition

This ebook is licensed for your

personal enjoyment only.

Please respect the rights of the author.

ENJOY!

PROLOGUE

Here you go, Gramps. Just what the doctor didn't order.

Stanley opened up his briefcase and took the large-sized chocolate malt from its paper bag.

Victor Ghilardi, father of Herbert Ghilardi and grandfather to Stanley, did not look well. His cheeks were sunken, his eyes watery and his fingers looked likes those of a skeleton. Once a hefty 225 pounds he had shrunk to a shadow of himself. The advanced stages of lung cancer did not make for a pretty sight.

Victor had greeted his grandson with a weak 'hello' and a wan smile but now his eyes gleamed in anticipation, his mouth quivering open and shut like a baby bird squirming to be fed a juicy worm. Stan carefully inserted the straw through the perforated X in the plastic lid. Two bony arms reached out for the forbidden treat.

Hey, wait a second, Gramps. Let me prop you up a bit more, Stanley said, as he put the drink on the nightstand and fluffed up the pillows behind his grandfather. Stan was shocked as he gently pulled the frail body into a more upright position.

God he's even lost more weight since I saw him last, Stanley thought.

"You know that nurse of yours must have worked for the Gestapo in a previous life. What a piece of work! Hands on her hips, she blocked the staircase and demanded to examine my briefcase before I came up. I think she could have stopped one of Patton's tanks. Luckily, the phone rang and I scooted up. Next time, I'll have to figure out a new method of smuggling. There's no way you're not going to get your malt, no matter what the doctor says."

Ghilardi, the Elder, gave his grandson a crooked smile and mumbled something that sounded very much like 'fucking bitch'. That surprised Stan since, although of Italian descent, his grandfather rarely swore. At least not until the last few weeks. Although Stanley did not want to admit it, it had become impossible to ignore the growing irritability and personality changes as the cancer continued its creeping stranglehold on the remnants of his grandfather's once robust body.

Well, if any one has the right to be pissed off, I guess Gramps qualifies.

Over the last six weeks it always gave Stan a great deal of pleasure to see how much his grandfather enjoyed his malts. He became concerned today when he now saw how difficult it was for him to suck up the thick concoction. He could see the outline of teeth through thin cheeks as he strained to get suction.

Would you like to have me get you a spoon? Stan asked in a concerned voice.

The old man, his eyes bulging under the effort, shook his head while he continued to draw on the straw. Suddenly he stopped and took a raspy breath. You know, Stanley, when the time comes when I cannot enjoy my malt the way I've done for the last 85 years, that'll be the time to call for the meat wagon and haul me away.

He started to put the straw back in his mouth but hesitated. Hell, don't just stand there like some department store dummy. Bring that chair over, I need to talk to you.

Stanley, surprised for the second time since Gramps had never been much of talker, brought over the nurse's chair. He waited patiently while the sucking continued. Stanley doubted he would ever use a straw again. In any case, whatever his Grandfather wanted to talk about proved less important than finishing his treat. Finally the gurgling sound of the straw drawing air signaled the bottom had been reached.

Victor let out a sigh of contentment and handed the container over the Stan who carefully hid the incriminating evidence in his briefcase. Surely, Miss Storm Trooper of 2012 would not check his satchel on the way out... Hopefully.

The old man's eyes seemed to clear up as he gazed intently at his grandson. Stanley I have a few things to say and I want you to be a good boy and just listen. You and I both know that I do not have too many more chocolate malts left in my future.

Stanley started to protest but Victor stopped him with a shaky wave.

Don't fret son, I've had a good life. I was married to a wonderful woman for 64 years. Sure, I wish she hadn't died before me. He gave Stanley a rueful smile. That was very selfish of her. It's been lonely these last four years. But all in all I can't complain. When I retired your father carried on the business just fine, even though he started specializing in those gaudy pseudo-mansions instead of the reasonable stuff I build. Then, for god's sake, he went and fell off that roof last year. Shit, I still can't figure out why he was up there. He had all those young Mexican carpenters, but he always was a hands-on kind of contractor. He smiled sadly, In that way he was like me, I guess.

A gurgling sound came up his throat and Victor grabbed a Kleenex and coughed wetly into it. Stanley tried not to notice the blood on the tissue.

Damn, son, here I am coughing up my lungs and I still don't regret all those years I smoked. I suppose I should not have started, but so what if it cost me a few years? Your father, bless his clumsy soul, smoked like a chimney and died from kissing concrete not from cancer.

A blank look came over the old man's face. Why are we talking about all this? I had something else to tell you. Oh yes, I remember. But get me a glass of water would you? All this jaw flapping makes me thirsty. Okay, Stanley, here's the deal. You and your brother have read the will, right? Hell, what am I talking about, you wrote it up for me.

Should I answer?

No, keep quiet, that was just one of those retractable questions you fancy-pants lawyers like so much.

Don't you mean 'rhetorical'?

That's what I said, didn't I? Now, what I'm getting at---if you would stop interrupting---is that I left something important out of the will. As agreed upon, Harry becomes President of Ghilardi Construction. Shoot, he's been running the place ever since your father died. Of course, you'll still get your monthly annuity. For your share, you get this house, the furniture and all the art do-dads your grandmother collected over the years, is that right?

Victor raised his hand, preempting a response."

Stanley wondered, I know all that. What's Gramps up to? What else is there?

Shit, enough talk. Let's do it this way. In the closet on your right you will find a small wooden box. Go fetch it for me, but whatever you do, don't drop it.

Stanley placed the small wooden box on his grandfather's lap and helped him open the lid. Inside was a smaller decorative box made of intricate wood inlay with a strange gold crest on top.

The old man's hands shook with excitement. Take the inner box out and undo that latch on the front. Careful now.

Stanley carefully undid a tiny golden latch and swung open the little box. Inside, nestled in a bed of purple silk lay the most exquisite egg he had ever seen. The shell was a matt finish, probably some sort of enamel. It had intricate gold beading dividing the egg into square and rectangular panels. The base of the egg was an open four part wire-like stand made out of some white metal which Stanley surmised was probably either platinum or white gold A dim memory of eggs like this edged its way into Stanley's mystified brain.

Stanley looked up quizzically at his Grandfather. My god, look at it! What on earth is this? Wow, whatever it is, it's incredible!

Victor smiled benignly at his grandson. Take it out of the box. There is a surprise waiting for you. You see there, on the top, the egg opens.

Inside Stanley found himself looking at a miniature bust of a male figure done in gold and jewels. The craftsmanship was amazingly delicate.

Of course, A light turned on in Stanley's brain. I know! This is a Fabergé Egg or a very good imitation. A lot of these were made before the Russian Revolution.

Right you are son, and that indeed is about all I know about the egg. And I had to dig around in the public library about fifty years ago to find out that much. I guess your college education wasn't a total waste.

But how did you get it? If it's the real McCoy, it must be worth a quite a bit.

Oh I'm sure it is...and it's all yours. You're the artistic one and Harry certainly wouldn't appreciate it. Since it's part of the stuff in the house, according to the will it's yours anyway. But you see, you can never sell it. In fact, I'm giving it to you on the condition that you never try to sell it. My wish is that you keep it as a souvenir of me and all the good times we had. For the last twenty-five years your father was so busy with the Company that Angela and I considered you as a second son.

Stanley started to say something but Victor cut him off.

Let me finish---but I'll have to be brief, I'm getting awfully tired. The old man hesitated a second. You see, no one else knows about the Egg. I never even told your dear old grandmother.

Again Victor preempted Stanley's question with a wave of his hand. The fact is I stole the Egg.

He tried to laugh but began to choke. A shaky hand reached for another Kleenex and he spit into it. By accident as it turned out. As you know I served in the Army Corps of Engineers in WWII. Best thing I ever did. Gave me the basis to start our construction business after the war.

Stanley noticed even more blood this time.

Hell, let's finish this discussion tomorrow all right? I haven't talked so much in a long time. He looked up at Stanly, a sad, almost pleading look on this face. I know you normally come only every other day but you can come tomorrow, can't you.

Sure Gramps. He grinned. I'm dying to find out how my grandfather turned into a famous jewel thief.

Victor smiled and carefully put the egg back in its case. Here take this. It's yours now. I don't trust Breunhilda. I can hear her snooping around down stairs. Put it in your briefcase and make sure you get it out of the house. I know you will treasure it. I'll tell you the whole story tomorrow. He clutched Stanley's hand. Just don't forget my malt.

********

After Stanley left, Victor couldn't believe how tired he was. Yet as he lay back and closed his eyes he felt like a heavy burden had been lifted off his shoulders. Finally he had told someone about the Egg and it felt good. Over the years he had come close to telling his wife. She would have loved to display it with all those other arty things she had collected. Yet, he never could quite do it.

As he drifted toward sleep, that traumatic night in Paris came alive again, his mind searching for the right way to tell his grandson how he acquired an Imperial Fabergé Egg. Would Stanley understand..?

Suddenly it seemed as if Stanley was standing at the end of the bed. It was time to fess up...

I had been too young to join the army at the beginning of the war but early in 1944 I eagerly signed up. Like many of my Italian friends in New Jersey I was anxious to show everyone that, despite my heritage and that clown Mussolini running Italy, I was a true- blue American. Like the others of Italian descent, they sent me to France, not Italy, which made me happy since the prospect of shooting at a long-lost cousin did not appeal to me or my parents. Because I volunteered I had some choice and, young buck that I was, I actually wanted to join the infantry. Yet my parents, and especially my mother, convinced me to opt for the Corps of Engineers. They felt it would be safer and perhaps I would learn something more than just shooting a gun.

In later years I admitted to myself that I did not regret missing the Normandy Invasion and often thought how ironic it was that the only real violence I saw was on that fateful night in Paris.

Victor opened his eyes and smiled. Yes! He could see Stanley standing there with a shimmering glow surrounding him. Surely, the kid would understand.

Six weeks after the liberation of Paris I got my first liberty and along with two pals of mine from Jersey we took the train to Paris. For months these guys had been teasing me about my virginity. I almost got into a fistfight with Antonio when he began disparaging my father for not taking me to a prostitute.

I remember him strutting around the barracks, thumbs in his pockets. Say, paysan what was wrong with your father? What kind of ol'man doesn't take care of his kid? Was he some sort of cheapskate or what?

It took all my patience not to deck him.

Victor looked up at Stanley, suddenly realizing his grandson might not understand after all.

You see Stanley, things were different in the old days. Good girls didn't...ah...you know. So back then, and back in Jersey at least, it was the duty of all good Italian fathers to assist their sons in this important rite of passage. Even the mother's approved. Nowadays of course they don't have to do that...

Only a promise I made to correct my father's oversight when we got to Paris avoided an ugly confrontation with Antonio. But heck, the guys were really nice. They even pooled their money to pay for me.

Christ was I nervous when I left my buddies downstairs at that seedy cafe in Place Pigalle---known as Pig Alley by the GI's. My knees were trembling as I followed the plumpy hooker up the rickety stairs to her room. I had been instructed by the gang not to kiss the prostitute and to pay her in advance. Despite my nervousness and her less than stellar looks I was determined to complete my assignment. I'd show that Antonio I was a real man.

Unfortunately, the advice from my buddies proved unnecessary. As soon as the door was closed the hooker lunged at me and stuck her hand in my pants pocket. At first I thought this was a bit of French foreplay but it turned out she wasn't looking for my eager friend, instead she yanked out the 2,000 francs I had stashed. Boy was I glad I had left my wallet back in the cafe.

Again Victor smiled at the imaginary Stanley.

I don't need to tell you that the assignation had not gotten off to a very romantic start. Yet I was still determined to see a successful completion of my assignment. I sat on the bed and began to take off my boots. Even though I was new to this type of situation, I began to wonder why the lady just stood in front of me and began glancing at the door.

After I had both boots off the reason became apparent as the door burst open and the largest Frenchman I had yet seen came bounding into the room. Jesus and I thought all Frenchmen were little guys with pencil moustaches topped with those silly, floppy beanies. Hell, this guy could have played for the Chicago Bears.

He began shouting at the woman and she, hands of her hips, shouted right back. Arms were waving and spit was flying. I, of course, knew no French and had no idea what was going on. But they weren't discussing dinner plans, that's for sure. To this day I don't know whether this was an outraged husband or just a bit of play-acting for my benefit. In any case, all thoughts of completing my assignment instantly shrunk away.

Suddenly, the situation got worse as the Frenchman dropped the briefcase he had been carrying and made a lunge for me. As is often the case, a big body meant slow reflexes and all the Army training served me in good stead as I slid off the bed and scooted under the legs of the man. My assailant let out an unearthly growl and turned in time to grab my ankle. I tried to pull away but he held fast. Instinctively, I fastened on to the briefcase and whacked the man on the side of the head. The blow stunned him enough that he released his grip.

Now I had a choice to make: try to retrieve my shoes, which would have been dicey at best or high tail it out of the room. The woman was closing in on me and even she outweighed me by quite a bit. That made the choice simple.

After descending the staircase in what must have been a world's record, I yelled to my friends to follow me down the street and into the subway. By the way, Stanley, I don't recommend running on cobblestones in your socks. Not until the train safely pulled way when I was shaking my head at my torn socks and nursing an emerging blister did I turn my attention to the briefcase. As I'm sure you guessed by now, I was mighty surprised at its contents.

Days later when I thought it all through, I realized that the egg-shaped piece of jewelry must be very valuable and probably had been stolen off a retreating German officer. Maybe there had been some perks to be stationed at the Russian front after all. But I still had no idea what I had. Despite the botched assignment I simply felt that I had gotten something for the 2,000 francs and my good pair of army boots.

He again smiled at the image of Stanley standing before him. Somehow the image seemed to be fading. Was he boring his grandson?

"So you see son, that's how I became a 'famous jewel thief'. And for better or worse, the hot potato, aka the Fabergé Egg, is now yours. For all these years I was

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