“It seems like not so long ago,” James said. “But it’s been a lifetime.”
He strolled along a path that wound around an apple tree. There it stood an early twentieth century farmhouse; grey trimmed in white. Much of the paint had peeled. Below the peeled paint was another layer of gray. At one time it seemed majestic and protective, now it was humble and ran-down.
“What happened to her?” James mumbled.
“Why did you want to come back,” Sylvia said from two steps behind James.
“Sometimes when you leave in a hurry you leave things behind,” James said.
“It looks like nobody has lived here in years,” Sylvia said catching up with James and holding his hand.
“There’s something in there and I have to see it,” James said. “I don’t know what it is, but when I see it or feel it I’ll know. I’ll know immediately.”
“I think you should go in and look around,” Sylvia said.
“Do you want to go in with me?” James said.
“I don’t think so,” Sylvia said and released James’ hand. “Take as long as it takes.”
James forced the unlocked back door open. He entered the back porch. It was incredible to him. He smiled; thirty years had not extinguished the odor or memories. He passed through the kitchen and stopped. He remembered his mother cooking on the stove and working over the kitchen sink. He remembered her looking out at the apple tree as she did the dishes and singing “Don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me, anyone else but me, anyone else but me.”
A flood memories rushed in like a bursting dam. It was overwhelming. He hurried to the steps in the dinning room that led upstairs and sat. He hung his head and sobbed.
After a few minutes he returned to his feet and inspected each room. He pushed aside remnants of discarded and untaken items from the last resident. There was nothing found to purge or refresh his memory any further.
“Something is here,” James muttered. “I could not have come all this way for nothing.”
At last he entered his old room. He closed his eyes slowly. He recalled the hours spent there dreaming, planning, fretting, wondering, doubting, and at last in a fury of anger… left; never to return until this moment.
Suddenly something drew him to a corner of the room. He looked into one of the cracks of the floor boards. There was something lodged in the crack. He pulled out a pocket knife and dislodged it.
“A coin,” James said. “The coin.”
He flipped it, smiled, and dropped it in his pocket. He walked to doorway of the room, turned, and smiled. “That’s it!” James said.
James bolted from the house as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
“Let’s go Sylvia,” James said. “We have one more stop.”
“Is everything okay?” Sylvia asked.
“Oh yes,” James said. “I’ll tell you about it in the car.”
The got in the car and drove away.
James smiled. “Remember I told you about the beating I got from Uncle Irv?”
“Yes,” Sylvia said. “It was horrible.”
“He accused me of stealing one of his coins. I denied it. He didn’t believe me. We got into a shouting match. He came after me and cornered me in my room. He beat me until I felt nothing. I should have gone to the hospital, but Mom knew that if I went there would be questions and Uncle Irv would end up in jail. There would have been no one to work the farm.”
“Your mom should have done something,” Sylvia said.
“She did,” James said. “She took care of me.”
“But you never took the coin, right?” Sylvia said.
“Not then,” James said. “Later I found the coin in his chair. I didn’t want to embarrass good ole Uncle Irv and make him feel bad so I took the coin and hid it. I figured I already got a beating for it.”
“Was the coin valuable?” Sylvia said. “An 1804 silver dollar. I t may be worth a couple of million and it’s in my pocket right now. I just found it. It was right where I hid it.”
“You got to be kidding!” Sylvia said. “Where are we going?”
“I’m going to pay Uncle Irv a visit,” James said. “He’s in a nursing home.”
A half hour later James sat in a chair next to an crumple up bitter looking old man, Uncle Irv.
“Do you know who I am?” James said.
“James,” Irv scowled.
“That’s right, Uncle Irv,” James said.
“Do you remember the beating you gave me when you accused me of stealing your coin?” James said.
“Nurse!” Irv said.
“Look, Uncle Irv,” James said. “If it takes them an hour to clean the sheets around this place and wipe your ass what makes you think they can come in time to save you? Besides, I’m here to visit you and give you a word of good cheer.”
“What is it you want?”
James held the coin in front of Irv’s eyes. “See it, Uncle Irv. I found it no more than forty-five minutes ago. It’s been in the house all this time.”
Irv reached for it. James quickly returned it to his pocket.
“It’s mine,” Irv said.
“Good day Uncle Irv,” James said.
James shut the door to Irv’s room and returned to the car.
“Do you still have the coin?” Sylvia said.
“Yes,” James said. “Can we go past the house one more time?”
“Sure,” Sylvia said.
As they drove down the road the gray farm-house sat, it slowly came in to view from below the horizon.
“What do you think of it?” James said.
“It’s a grey farm-house,” Sylvia said. “It hasn’t changed in the last hour.”
“Yes it has,” James said. “It is a palace.”
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