It was just after sunset when I heard a ferocious knock at my front door. Having recently been freed from the chains of drudgery, that is to say, my job, I was taking a well needed and well deserved nap. Unemployment is so tedious. I awoke quickly and resolutely after only seven knocks on the door and proceeded to see who was disturbing me at the ungodly hour of 6 PM.
I spied through the keyhole and my eye happened upon a pair of overly thick mid-century browline glasses. The unfortunate creature occupying those dreadful spectacles was a short man, rather bald and in need of a tailor. I thought long and hard whether to ignore this man or make ludicrous threats at him through my mail slot to get him off my porch. Seeming as how he looked so damned sullen and deferential I decided I should at least greet him with civility.
“Good afternoon, sir, tis a pleasure to greet you this illustrious day!” I articulated, opening the door with fervor and a flourish. I had, unfortunately, forgotten to close the front of my baby blue bath robe and the unfortunate bespectacled man was forced to avert his gaze at the sight of… well… my “little flag bearer”, if you will. He began to blush with impunity.
“Ho ho, beg pardon, my good fellow,” I said, trying to remain cheerful despite the poor fellow’s awkwardness of it all. I tucked the old twig and berries back behind the hedge and closed my robe, begging pardon. “How may I be of service to you?”
“Um, hello there. I am Mister Elvin. I am the trustee of the Goatsburge account and I am searching for a…” he began shuffling his papers like an imbecile, “Mr. Alton Dearborn, second cousin of the Court brothers of New Frontain. Are you Mr. Dearborn?” The man talked with a distasteful sheepishness behind his syllables. I disliked him almost immediately.
“Indeed I am. What business, pray tell, is it of yours?” For some reason I felt it was my duty to talk down to this man. He obviously wasn’t an IRS agent (a fear of mine, as I owed a significant sum of money to the government for which I possessed no means or desire of repaying). If he was a bill collector, well, ha! Good luck to him them!
“Oh! You are! Thank heavens!” He had an annoying joyousness about him that irked me now. “We have been trying to contact you for months. We have sent emails, letters, made phone calls and even sent a telegram. You have been most difficult to reach.”
“That is not surprising” I replied. “I do not carry a ‘permanent’ address, you see. My work makes that quite impossible. Nor do I keep a regular phone. Too costly. But surely I would have received an email. My neighbor’s wifi is solid as a rock!”
“We have been trying for months to reach you by email, but have received no reply.”
“What was the nature of the email?”
“Prince Philippe of Nigeria, who happens to be your very distant and estranged third cousin, has recently passed away. His will stipulated, however that he was leave his entire fortune, some 68 million dollars worth, to you, Mr. Dearborn. All you need to do is provide us your social security number, for identification purposes only, and a check for a small amount…”
I think it may have been the fastest I had ever slammed the door in my life. Had the tiny man been an inch further in he would have left a permanent indent there. I should have recognized the farce from the instant I heard the knock. I am, by trade, an actor after all. Tis my profession to fool the human race, in a way, fool them into feeling emotion and gravity.
But some weeks later, despite my assurance that I had thwarted a dimwitted con man, I read in the local gossip column that my fool brother, Jeffery, had indeed inherited a quite coincidental amount of 68 million dollars and had recently purchased a major league baseball team. This left me wondering if I had indeed made the right hasty decision of slamming the door, instead of the hasty decision of handing over the combination to my financial safe. But then again, thinking over it now, I suppose maybe it was just coincidence. 68 million is a common number after all… yes, I am sure of it now. Another distant uncle must have passed and left Jeffery the same amount the con man had tried to scam me with. I think it the only reasonable explanation. We have very little family in Nigeria these days. Very little indeed.
Jay Nelson is a slacker and no good at his job because he writes short fiction while he should be working. Since that work happens to be running cues backstage for Cirque Du Soleil, this can be tricky. Jay has a master’s degree in Theater Arts from the University of Arizona and is still looking for a way to use it. He lives and works in Las Vegas where he takes full advantage of the fact that there is no last call at the bars. He can be found most nights drinking Fink Bombs at Frankie’s Tiki Lounge, talking with the old timers and scanning the deals section of Kayak.com in hopes for a timely escape from the casino littered desert landscape.
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