Inheriting the Gift

He walked among the market stalls, pretending to ignore the whispering and giggling women. His relaxed demeanor, handsome features, and ready smile meant no female in the town missed his weekly sermons and the church’s coffers were overflowing of late.

Feeling a touch on his sleeve, he turned and his smile disappeared. Looking first left and right, he angrily spat, “I told you to never speak to me again!”

She blinked, her long lashes brushing her cheeks, and said, “But, I need to talk to you.” Leaning closer, she paused, and lowered her voice. “You see, I’m going to give Nathan his inheritance.”

William missed a step as he compressed his emotions, but quickly returned the benevolence to his face. Smiling, he touched his hand to her back, guiding her out of the market. Sophie continued, “He must know, right?” He nodded now, murmuring consent, and invited himself to dinner on Friday. He asked her to make his favorite, buttered fettuccini with sautéed mushrooms.

She hadn’t seen him in twenty years and couldn’t know how his tastes had changed. Friday he would permanently close this chapter in his life. His long forgotten charity to the mother of his child would not lead to his destruction.

After dinner he suggested a walk in the light of the full moon. When the police found her remains, which they inevitably always did, they would in no way resemble anything that could have been done by a parish pastor.

Saturday morning Nathan hung up the phone in frustration. His mother never bothered to keep up with the times and this was just more proof that she was stuck in the dark ages. “No cell phone, no answering machine, no email…how am I supposed to get hold of her if she refuses to evolve?” He donned the leather jacket she had given him, zipping himself in. The first frost of the season had come last night, together with the full moon. The sun would burn it off later, he hoped, as he shivered and hunched his shoulders against the breeze.

As he approached his mother’s door, the music was loud enough that he recognized her favorite music. The composer was Prokofiev and the piece was his Opus 67, Peter and the Wolf. She didn’t answer his knock, but the door to the little house was open, as usual. The place was spotless and empty. A bit unusual for Saturday morning, especially since it was his birthday.

Sophie said she had a special surprise for his twenty first birthday. “Maybe she dashed out at the last minute to pick something up”, he thought as he settled into her chair to wait.

Fingering the pile of nature magazines on the end table beside him, he felt a sharp prick and swore. The broken, framed picture of his grandfather was in the pile. Pieces of glass scattered when he turned it over. His grandfather was very important to Sophie, even though he was no relation to her. He was Nathan’s father’s father. His initial annoyance turned to contrition and he decided to surprise his mom by having the picture reframed. Taking it out of the broken frame he noticed an inscription on the back.

“All you who follow the blood remember this…it is with our tools the deed is done, but with our minds the war is won.” Beneath the writing was a drawing of a crescent moon with flowers blooming below. The entire thing was encircled by bullets. He’d seen the picture before. It was painted above the door of the garden shed. He went to the backyard to confirm his theory. The paint was so weathered that from a distance it looked like water staining, but up close they were clearly the same.

Angie loved gardening, a trait Nathan lacked. He had never even tried to enter the shed and now noticed the big padlock securing it. Returning to the house, he retrieved the broom and dustpan and squatted down to collect the glass. That was when he saw that a key had also fallen from the shattered frame.

Once the door was open, he flicked on the overhead light. Confusion struck him because the interior looked nothing like a garden shed. On the far end was a kiln surrounded on the floor by square metallic molds. Some of them were split in half and the shapes were clearly bullets. Four silver dollars lay haphazardly on the bench, like they were the forgotten leftovers from a larger group.

Squatting again, Nathan found reloading equipment on the lower shelf. His vegetarian mother was neither a hunter nor a reloading enthusiast. Light headed, he stood up, reeling from the puzzling find. His eyes scanned the small room once again and came to rest on four very old looking books stacked on the shelf to the left. The binding of each one was dated in silver and the oldest one read June 5, 1792. Examining the leather cover of the top book, he read the faded silver lettering. “Wolf’s Bane.”

His neck tingled as he wondered if he had stumbled upon the special birthday surprise.

About Bob

Bob has been a writer all his life. He has had to do many other things to buy groceries and make his car payments, but most of these things have involved writing, in one genre or another.
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