Sunday, July 25, 2010

Forties Club Finalist #42

Grandpa’s Laugh
by Elliott Cox


I wouldn’t say that Grandpa was secretive about his ninety-three years of life; I think he was just a humble soul. He never volunteered information, but when I asked the right question, he would always spin one hell of a yarn for me. When Grandpa told me a story, the only pause came when he asked me to pour three fingers “of the good stuff” for him, which I gladly did; the more rotgut scotch he drank, the more vivid his story became.

One time, I asked Grandpa if he had ever killed anybody. His rocking chair stopped and he stared through me for what seemed, at the time, like several hours. That was the only time I have ever felt uncomfortable around the old man. When his rocking chair started moving again, Grandpa asked me to pour him three fingers, and the tension crumbled with his voice. I handed him his scotch and sat down on my usual spot on the wooden porch, waiting for a story, or at least an answer to my question, but I never got either. I asked him several more questions that evening and only got clipped answers…no stories.

I’m sitting on my spot on the porch now, picking my way through the cedar chest that I inherited from Grandpa two weeks ago. I found three large gems hidden in the false floor of the chest, and now I know I’m finally going to hear the one story that Grandpa couldn’t tell me.

15 comments:

JR's Thumbprints said...

At first I thought you were attempting a frame story, which would be difficult with 250-words. But once I got into the second paragraph, I could see things would pan out differently. Nice job.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

That's never good...Old gramps has got some major stuff up his sleeves.

Katherine Tomlinson said...

Family secrets...I could see this as a prologue to a novel. I was hooked.

Sarah Laurenson said...

You had me until the end. I liked the description of Grandpa and his tales, the feeling of sitting listening to the old man and just soaking it all in.

I liked the intrigue of the tale he didn't tell.

I don't get how the story was going to be told now that Grandpa was dead.

Peter Dudley said...

Echo Sarah's comment, word for word. Is there a note with the gems?

Aimee Laine said...

Now if only those gems could talk. :)

Shona Snowden said...

More of a clue than a story, perhaps? But the description and set up is very nice.

Michael Morse said...

Methinks the chest holds a lot of secrets. Loved this.

Jade L Blackwater said...

Nice positioning for a much longer tale; I really wanted Grandpa to say a word -- even one word of a hint!

Aniket said...

I was reminded of Secondhand Lions. Love that movie. I think you didn't wish to imply that grandpa was dead when you used the word "inherited" or did you?

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

Hi Elliot

I love tales that start out like yours. And the three fingers of rotgut, so telling that the old guy had lived life and juiced up his stories, but nothing was going to make him tell the one tale that didn't need elaboration. He needed the drink to forget, not to remember.

Dottie :)

Laurel said...

I love the tone in this piece. It feels like a warm-up, the beginning of a recollection, and is doubly set up as such.

I, too, wondered if there was a note or some indication of where the stones came from and who Grandpa did in to come by them. Also, why did he keep them hidden? To leave them to his grandchild or for fear of discovery?

Curioser and curioser.

JaneyV said...

I believe i have to say "ditto Sarah" again! Loved it all but was thrown a bit by that last sentence.

Well done!

Deb Smythe said...

I thought the leisury pace matched the "prologuey" let me tell you a story tone. But now I want to know what happened.

Vincent Kale said...

I picture Ol Gramps in wartime, he and his buddies hauling away some ill-gotten Nazi treasure. But that's where my mind goes. Nice tone!

(Also, my great-grandfather had a similar sketchy past. There's a lockbox full of early 20th century notes/bonds buried out there somewhere. So this hit a chord!)