January

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THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY

This is the PALESTINE story—until October 7, 2023

GENESIS 11:31

They set out from UR of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan

LAND INHERITANCE ---IN THE ANCIENT WORLD

GENESIS 16—21

According to Scripture:

Sarah’s Egyptian slave servant Hagar—with her permission—bore Abram at age 80 a son—whom he called ISHMAEL. For ten long years, Sarah considered Ishmael her son [Hagar was her property and so was that son].

Then a miracle happened: When Abram was 100 years old, Sarah conceived; and he called his son ISAAC.

There was competition between the two women and their sons.

Abram had loved Ishmael all these ten years, so when Sarah demanded that Hagar and her son leave their home, he was distraught. He consulted God what to do. God told him to leave this decision with Sarah [family matters were the domain of women].

Well, Sarah told Abram to ‘get rid of that slave woman and her son’—BECAUSE that slave woman and son would NEVER SHARE with her son ISAAC Abram’s INHERITANCE.

In the ancient Near East it was the custom that the FIRST BORN SON inherited his father’s power/authority, livestock and land. ISHMAEL had birth-rights.

Then in 70 CE the temple in Jerusalem [Judea] was destroyed by the Romans.

Emperor Constantine proclaimed to be a Christian and the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as the state religion. PALESTINE was The Holy Land.

Then an army of Prophet Mohammad entered Jerusalem. They took hold of the city: building on top of the ruined temple the Dome of the Rock and the Mosque. The Jews were told to convert to Islam or face death. They could stay alive and worship their God if they paid a “head tax”. The rich Jews were willing to pay. The Jewish peasants converted to Islam so they could continue tilling their land.

When ancestors of Ishmael entered Palestine there were skirmishes. Christian monks begged the pope for help. That’s when the Crusades started: From 1096-1098 and on. The Holy Roman Empire finally abandoned the crusades; too costly.

In 1948, the UNITED NATIONS resurrected PALESTINE [former colony of the Ottoman Empire/then a British mandate] and determined that the ancestors of Isaac and Ishmael, Jews and Muslims, must SHARE the LAND.

Because Sarah insisted that Isaac would be the SOLE HEIR [but unable claiming to be firstborn], the maternal line became the criteria: To be a Jew, one’s mother has to be a Jew.

IMAGINE – if the Book of Genesis had not been written . . .

THE --OCTOBER ---MEMOIR

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I WASN’T BORN TO BE A WALLFLOWER

A MEMOIR BY OLGA PITCAIRN---------COPY RIGHT

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A wallflower girl is she who sits by the wall at a dance or other social activities—often for want of a partner because she may be shy, reserved . . . or a plain-Jane.

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St. Petersburg, Florida, 1962

I took this photo while we were visiting Laren’s parents: Marijke, his mother (57), and his father (69), a man-of-the-cloth, Theodore Pitcairn.

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CATALOGUE NUMBER: 363

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 This is the remarkable story of how I, Olga Pitcairn, at the age of 26, obtained ownership of “Wallflowers and Forget-Me-Nots in a Ceramic Vase” by Philippe Smit, a Dutch/French painter. Philippe was the step-father of my mother-in-law.

     I still remember her saying—with a chuckle in her voice—“Liefje (Dutch for dearest), you are unforgettable!” So, cherishing memory, and as a token of my gratitude, I thought it would be a novel idea to title this memoir: I WASN’T BORN TO BE A WALLFLOWER.

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Forget-me-nots symbolize true love and respect. When you give someone these tiny blooms it represents a promise that you will always remember them and will keep them in your thoughts.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,

May 1964

     My heart was pounding as I was telling Doctor Goldfarb about the family’s mentally-handicapped children, three generations, and the “unconvential” sex I had had to endure these past four years. My gynecologist leaned towards me across his desk and asked why I had not disclosed this to him before. Now shaking, all worked up, I confessed that it had taken all my courage. I wiped my eyes dry, hands trembling, with a handkerchief I took from my purse. Then, heaving a deep sigh, I blurted out, “I’m ashamed, Doctor. Terribly ashamed!” Tears flowing freely, I whispered that I felt humiliated being used for his own pleasure; that he didn’t care how I felt about it.

     As I kept wiping tears away, the doctor stared at me in silence until I had composed myself.

     “Get a divorce,” the doctor said calmly.

     For a few seconds I was unable to breath. Then my heart raced. My voice cracked when I repeated his words.

     Dr. Alvin Goldfarb rose, extended his hand saying, “And get yourself a good lawyer.”

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 I drove in a zombie-like state, my inner compass guiding me direction Meadowbrook: home. Being told to divorce, I had to face the music. I thought of confessing to my parents first and discuss my situation.

     It was late afternoon when I parked my car at their house in Bucks County. Mama was, of course, very surprised to see me, but noticing my somber face she ushered me into the living room and we sat on the sofa. Hesitantly, Mama inquired about my visit with the gynecologist. I broke out into tears. She went to the kitchen and returned holding glasses with sherry. She nodded—and we drank in silence.

     “The doctor told me to get a divorce,” I said, still choking on the word, as I put my empty glass on the coffee table. I took from my handbag a book: Masochism In Modern Man by Theodore Reik. “I told him about our sex life, and about the family secret, those simpletons.”

     Mama held the book as if it was a poisonous snake.

     “Kinky sex.” I wiped away more tears.

     Mama left and returned with a tissue box. “What goes on in your bedroom is private,” she said and sat in a nearby armchair “I’m your mother. Please make it short.”

     I had no wish to dwell on the subject either, so I explained that masochism connotes a person who enjoys the pleasure of being trod upon. Laren liked being a good-for-nothing and reinforced this by having breakfast in bed, getting up at ten, and at eleven in the morning making phone calls for a luncheon date. He abhorred “work”: He was a good-for-nothing man. Laren enjoyed/provoked verbal lashings; and physical beatings—reminding me of St. Sebastian on the cross. Humiliation was his middle name. His foibles: He worshiped an idol—a fetish of his choice so he could “perform”—having sex; the fetish, his equipment/sex enhancement, supplanted the female. Fetishism is an aberration/disease/illness = it is a paraphilia/parapathia and the end is homosexuality. Fetishism is a kind of religion: repentance and pleasure together. Another memoir will discuss in detail what perversion is all about: The inflicted person fears nothing more than to be “cured”.

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     The following day Papa summoned Laren to the house. The dirty word divorce, recommended by the gynecologist, was repeated over and over until I broke down. Laren was to consult a psychiatrist at Abington Memorial Hospital, a stone’s throw from Meadowbrook/Huntingdon Valley. Mama called her sister in Austria. Two days later they took me to the airport.

     Six weeks later in Vienna, I opened with trepidation the letter from the psychiatrist with his evaluation of Laren’s paraphilia. At least he had showed up and tried to get a grip on his condition. I consulted my aunt and uncle.

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     My parents and Laren were at the airport in Philadelphia to welcome me “home”. The stress during my Austrian stay had affected me and I had developed a very bad sore throat. A few days later I had a tonsillectomy, I believe at Chestnut Hill Hospital.

     A week later we flew to the Bahamas. Laren didn’t take along the special case that contained the necessary equipment; so I relaxed.

Bridges Cay - Abaco, Bahamas

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      We returned to Philadelphia after Labor Day. Together we paid the psychiatrist a visit. Laren was told not to use his fetish idol when “making love”. Well, as I had feared: no idol no love. I wanted to inform the doctor but on second thought refrained—hoping that Laren would inform him. However, on October 9, my 26th birthday, I made up my mind to divorce. I asked Papa to get me a reputable lawyer. He chose Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll of Philadelphia. I looked for an apartment to rent; and early November I moved out, informing Laren that he was not a “husband” but merely a bank account and I could not accept that.

     Needless to say that Laren rang my doorbell every day? We had long talks; because he could not relate to his psychiatrist, I suggested that he talk instead with our bishop—if he would be willing. Bishop Phillip Odhner was “willing”.

     Christmas 1964: we reconciled; though I would stay in my apartment until he had established a routine of visiting the bishop. And we made a “pact”—he swore on the Swedenborgian Bible—that if after two years our situation had not improved satisfactorily we would divorce amicably.

     I still regret to this day that I did not insist of putting his promise in writing as I paid dearly for this: Veritas odium parit. There was no remorse. He became a sadist—a cannibal.

     This episode in my life, starting October 1967, (letters from the bishop to me about the predicament of the church’s religious view on divorce) will be another memoir: TRUTH IS THE DAUGHTER OF TIME.

     My final memoir, THE FINGER OF FATE, will be a review of my life.

     Thanks to my mother (financial aid) and my aunt Olga (Nur weiter schreiben: Keep on writing)—their encouragement—I became an author.

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     April 1965: I returned officially to the marital home. One morning I visited my mother-in-law. She and her husband were in the “sun-room” having coffee. After some chit-chat she said, holding out her arms, “I’m so happy to have you back into the family fold.” We embraced. She whispered into my ear that she had missed me.

     I went to my chair, happy to know I had been missed. All smiles, she looked at Theodore. She pointed to the wallflowers painting and said that he should take it down and give it to her. Mother winked at me. I held my breath as Father, a frail man, did as was bidden.

     Mother smiled at me and said, “Olga, I know you love this painting.” She waved at me to join her. I took the painting as she continued: “It was a peace offering from Philippe. We made up. I want you to think of me when you look at our painting.” She blew me a kiss.

“Wallflowers is my peace offering to you.”

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Wallflowers and Forget-Me-Nots in a Ceramic Vase

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A CAR WAS PARKED—June 2019--AT MY FRONT STEPS

PENNSYLVANIA LICENSE PLATE;

DSL 2013

STAY TUNED FOR FEBRUARY!

Email your feedback about the story to the author at rosecamelia@verizon.net.

Febuary

THIS IS THE BUCKS COUNTY PLAYHOUSE

SUMMER 2014

A BARGAIN SALE”

(A Documented Curtain Call)

B-sale

by Olga Pitcairn [copyright]

CITIZENS OF THE BAHAMAS

do not pay on income, inheritance, gifts, or capital gains. The Bahamian government uses revenue from sources like VAT and STAMP TAXES. There are strict laws prohibiting illicit financial activity: such as money laundering.

NASSAU: THE BAHAMAS

SUNDAY, MARCH 4, 2007

Meet me at the POOL, Pilot House Club, at 11:00 on Sunday—Anneke Van Veen. The private detective whistled softly as he reread the email; the previous one inquired if he had done real estate research jobs. His work was mainly getting spouses caught “in flagrante”, illicit affairs: adultery. However, he was eager to widen his horizon; real estate sales were on the up. He had connections: a sister-in-law in banking and a good friend at the courthouse.

     A waiter approached his table holding a small tray. “Mr. Erickson?” He nodded. “This message is for you, Sir.”

     The detective read the note from the front desk that Mrs. Van Veen was detained, and if he’d be so kind to wait for her and order a beverage. He smiled at the waiter and asked for a beer. When the drink arrived he ordered a plate of conch fritters; waiting time could be long. He put the note and email in his briefcase.

     Forty minutes later the waiter escorted Mrs. Van Veen to the table. The detective rose. They shook hands.

     “Shall we have lunch at that corner table”—Anneke pointed—“so we can really talk?” Face flushed, she asked the waiter for the menu and a pitcher of planter’s punch.

     The table overlooked the pool and the traffic at the open double doors of the Club. Anneke sat facing the pool—the detective sat across. “You should know”—she leaned over—“that Lucian was cunning as a fox.”

     The waiter came with the menus; followed by a boy with the punch.

     They ordered a Pilot House club-sandwich.

     The detective leaned over, eyeing her. “Foxy husband Lucian?”

     Anneke giggled. “Lucian Peppercorn was the ex-husband of my sister Kitty. I’m here representing her. Kitty is getting a hip operation, and convalescence will take long.” She took a deep breath. “After her divorce, Kitty moved to Curacao, the Antilles. We are Dutch, born in Amsterdam.”

     Anneke took from her handbag a folder. “Here are the details of what Kitty wants you to do,”—she handed him the folder—“and also her permission that we collaborate on her behalf.”

     The detective put the folder in his briefcase.

     Anneke winked, saying, “By the way, Carl Erickson . . .”—she raised her glass—“better we are on first names.”

     “Here’s to Kitty and Anneke!” Carl said with a nod.

     With a keen eye Carl Erickson sized up his client. Sisters. This one had to be in her early sixties: hair short, blond; eyes blue; fair skin. Good appetite; enjoyed the punch. Drank like a fish. He chuckled.

     Anneke gave him a big smile. “Are you married, Carl?”

     “Regina is her name.” Carl topped her glass. “We are childless.” He leaned back in his chair. “Do you have children?”

     “I have two grandchildren,” Anneke said as she summoned with a wave of her hand the waiter. “Ice cream?” She nodded at Carl. “I’m having coconut with a dash of Tia Maria.”

     He gave her his biggest smile. “Make it two.”

     As they waited for the dessert, Anneke stared at Carl. She opened her mouth to say something but then firmly pressed her lips. After some seconds she took a deep breath. “I have to tell you,” she stammered, “something private.” She swallowed. “Kitty had a miscarriage at seven months on their yacht. Lucian didn’t listen to her when she told him that it wasn’t a good idea to take a trip to Puerto Rico. My sister never forgave him.”

    Anneke took from her handbag a handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes. “It was so sad, Carl.” Her voice broke; she sniffled. “Lucian was an amateur opera singer. When they married, he sang the song I’ll think of you until I die.”

     Carl Erickson held his breath. This case involved a long ago miscarriage?

     Anneke’s chest heaved as she wiped her eyes. “But when Kitty divorced him,”—she gasped, balling her handkerchief—“Lucian showed his true colors. He became real crafty.” She put the soaked hanky in her handbag. “Lucian died last year. Kitty wants to buy a townhouse in Willemstad with the sale of Mai Tai Cay.” Fired up, Anneke guzzled her punch until the last drop. She pointed at his briefcase. “Everything you need to know is in that folder.”

     Dessert was served. Anneke would contact him. They’d meet again in person.

     Carl took his briefcase, got to his feet, and said with a chuckle in his voice, “I can’t wait to find out what Kitty wants me to do for her.”

     Anneke folded her hands as if in prayer. “I have a hunch it will be complicated.”

     Carl raised his eyebrows and nodded. On his way leaving the Pilot House Club he took a free copy of the local newspaper from the lobby. Complicated? In that case, he’d make a copy of Kitty’s wish-list.

     Resolutely, Carl went to his office. He made two copies. The original briefing he put in his safe. Patting his briefcase, he grinned; he’d have to involve Gina—her hunches were often accurate. Walking home, he called her on his mobile.

     Carl went to the terrace of their villa and put his briefcase on the large table. Then he went to the kitchen and made coffee. He returned to the terrace. Opening the briefcase, he retrieved the two copies. The one for Gina he put on the other end of the table. Then he sat in his chair—ready to read what Kitty wanted him to do.

     **Dear Mr. Erickson,

I am upset!! I smell real estate laundering! Lucian, my ex, died last year. I contacted Philippa Ladova, his private lawyer, with whom I correspond about the allowance I receive every year from Lucian—until I die. I received a copy of his will—filed June 2006. I have first and preferred charge on his Estate. Not mentioned in his will was Mai Tai Cay; though he bequeathed to his wife Beth the large Abaco property. This land he bought one year after our marriage. That’s when, 1961, Lucian also added a codicil to the title of the island he had bought prior to our marriage—my name was added to the title. In case he died, he flew his own plane, I would own the Cay. And in case we had a child, I would transfer the title to our child when he/she turned 21. Well, I had a miscarriage. I divorced, and moved to Curacao.

     When did Lucian sell our Cay without my knowledge?**

     Carl sipped coffee. Contemplating the question, his eyes drifted to Gina’s copy. Violet? He smiled. Violet was Gina’s best friend; wife of realtor Mark Campion.

     **Mr. Erickson, for your information, Lucian was a con-man, a Judas. He would sell his soul for money. He and Beth have two children. Philippa once confided that those kids are swindlers, even craftier than their dad.

     Anneke is coming in person because I don’t want Philippa or the children to find out that I’m making inquiries. They never met my sister. I’m looking forward hearing from Anneke about your meetings.

     Mr. Erickson, I’m very grateful for your help.** it was signed Kitty J. Peppercorn.

     Carl went to the kitchen for a refill of coffee when Gina rushed into the hallway. He called out her name. Entering the kitchen, dark-haired Gina threw him a kiss, saying she was intrigued that this time she wasn’t to spy on couples but a case of a mysterious real estate deal. Carl handed her a cup of coffee and told her that a copy of the inquiry for her to peruse was on the terrace table.

     Gina sat in her chair. Sipping coffee, she took her copy and, with a wave at Carl, started to read. Carl watched her face. When she giggled he tapped his fingers on the table. Out of the blue she covered her face with the wish-list and pealed with laughter.

     Carl got up and walked over. “What’s so funny?”

     “Because”—Gina waved the copy—“I met Philippa”—her chest heaved from laughter—“at Happy House!”

     Carl’s jaw dropped. He peered at his wife. “What was she”—he swallowed—“doing at that mansion for escort services.”

     Gina put the wish-list on the table. “How about . . . looking for clients?” Her brown eyes twinkled. “Philippa is the lawyer to contact when you want a divorce.”

     “Are you sure she’s . . . Lucian’s lawyer?” Carl’s eyes narrowed.

     “Lawyer Philippa Ladova is well-known at Happy House.” Gina poked a finger at the copy. “She’s a regular.”

     “Aahh!” Carl’s face lit up. “Now I get it why Anneke came and not Kitty.”

     “Darling”—Gina blew a kiss at the copy—“shall I ring Violet to come over for a chat . . . today?”

     Carl fondled her earlobe. “And ask if Mark can also join us for happy hour.”

*******

It was happy hour

     Mark, Violet, Gina and Carl sat at the terrace table drinking daiquiris while perusing their copies of Kitty’s inquiry.

     “Violet,” Gina said, “who started this escort service?”

     Violet shook her shoulders. “I’ve no idea, but”—she waved her copy at Mark—“I’m sure Rose knows.”

     Mark grinned, showing a gap between his upper teeth, and took his mobile: ready to give his sister a ring. Listening he snickered, nodding. Finally he put the mobile on the table and gave thumbs up. The threesome raised their glasses. Joining them, he cheered, “Here’s to Rose!”

     They toasted.

     “According to my beloved sister, wine merchant Fred Bethel owned the mansion when he met Philippa at one of our tourist information parties. They clicked. He opened Happy House for tourists so they could get to know local business owners and invest.” Mark took a sip. “To attract overseas investors, an ad was placed in the International Herald Tribune. Rose giggled when she said that it had been Philippa’s idea. Soon the word got around about the mansion’s escort services.” He chuckled. “Carl, Happy House is your bread and butter.”

     Blue-eyed Violet whetted her lips, saying, “For lawyer Philippa Ladova . . . Happy House is her base.”

     “Ladova.” Gina tapped on the inquiry. “She’s Jewish?”

     “Jews,” Rose said with a nod, “who left Russia for the Crimea, bread-basket of Europe.”

     “Let’s get back to Kitty.” Mark waved the wish-list. “She wants to know when he sold Mai Tai Cay without her knowledge. She’s worried about title-laundering.”

     “Mark,” Carl said, “a good friend of mine works at the courthouse. We know that real estate files are open to the public, but a court clerk will not attract attention. Anneke told me to be careful. No attention. That’s why she came in person. No correspondence either. Post office clerks are known to gossip.”

     Mark looked at his wife; Violet was scribbling . . . “Carl, I’ll take care of the cay issue. Your friend can look into the purchase of the Abaco tract after their marriage. We need names.”

     Violet pushed her note toward Mark. She winked at Gina while whetting her lips. Carl craned his neck to glance at the note Mark was reading.

     “I’ll be darned!” Mark smirked. “Colin Stoneberger made the valuation of Mai Tai Cay?” He opened his eyes wide. “Violet?”

     Violet held up her glass for a refill. Carl went around topping the daiquiris.

     “Some time ago, Colin’s wife Minerva mentioned,”—Violet took a deep breath—“they have a working relationship only, that Colin had done a valuation of Mai Tai Cay without being asked to also do a title search. Most owners have this done if they want to sell the property.” She sipped. “However, the American wanted only the valuation. It was three million dollars.” She laughed. “Now we know it was Lucian Peppercorn.”

     “Great to know,” Carl said. “But we need more names.” He pointed his pen at Mark. “Can you pump Colin?”

     Mark shook his head. “We aren’t exactly on good terms. He said I stole one of his clients.”

     “Rose is on excellent terms with every realtor.” Violet spoke up. “She’ll get more names.”

     “I think that’s a job for Gina,” Carl said, looking at Mark. “Everyone knows that she’s involved with adultery cases and not with sleuthing on real estate transactions.”

     Violet clapped. “Gina, this is now your territory.”

     Gina blew her a kiss. “And I propose that my sister Eleanora Hastings inquires about the money. She has been promoted to the international department of Nassau Bank.”

     “Nora has the nose of a bloodhound.” Carl laughed. “She’ll dig up the dirt.”

     “Kitty mentions”—Mark put his pen on the copy—“that Lucian has two children. Get their names.”

     “Gina can do that.” Carl looked at her. “Anneke doesn’t want direct contact with me. However . . .”

     “Easy!” Gina’s brown eyes danced with mischief. “I’ll carry a shopping bag and tell reception that I’m delivering her purchases. I’ll knock on her door . . . and, voila, get their names.”

     Pointing a finger at her friend, Violet laughed. “No wonder you are known as Pushy-pushy!”

     “Okay,” Carl said. “Let’s meet tomorrow for lunch. Type your report, ideas and information: copies for everyone. We need answers.”

*******

Lunch on the terrace

     Gina served ham-and-cheese sandwiches and freshly made limeade. They talked about the latest gossipy news of Nassau. Gina cleared the table. Then she went around with the typed reports.

     “Okay,” Carl said. He looked at Mark. “You want the names of the kids. So I suggest we start reading Gina’s report.”

     “Amen!” Violet giggled. She took the two double-spaced pages Gina had provided. “Our Pushy-pushy did her homework.”

***

Report by Regina “GINA” Erickson

When Anneke opened the door I said: Regina is my name. Her face lit up and she took my arm and pulled me inside. We clicked right away. She opened the small refrigerator and made us mimosas.

She was eager to talk. Through the years, Kitty had given her info about the family; she had always been on good terms with Philippa.

About the kids—they are in their early thirties. Cleopatra is two years older than her brother Cyrus. Cleo is still single, and makes her living selling musical instruments. Lately, her specialty is harpsichords.

Cy dabbles investing in airlines. He has a pilot license. He is engaged to his high school sweetheart Cecily.

Anneke served more mimosa. I told her I had to do more sleuthing, so no thanks. Flushed, she got cozy—telling me that she and Kitty were alarmed when a week after their divorce Lucian married Beth Piper, his secretary.

She told Kitty that for sure Lucian had planned her miscarriage—thinking of the codicil. He didn’t want being stuck with her and the kid. And that for sure Beth must have demanded this ‘drastic accident’ or she would leave him.

Philippa wrote Kitty that Lucian had died of cancer; and five days prior to his death he had made a new will. She sent her a copy.

***

An accident!” Violet shrieked. “I bet she conveniently slipped on a banana peel.”

     “A new will . . .” Mark said with a snort, “days before he gasps his last breath sounds fishy. V-e-e-ry fishy.”

     With a nod, Carl said, “Like it or not, Lucian was obliged to file a will because Kitty had first and preferred charge on his Estate.” He pointed his pen at Violet. “Let’s read your report.”

***

Report by Violet Campion

The Nassau grapevine is flourishing! I “managed” to bump into Minerva at Nina’s Boutique. Knowing that Colin’s real estate deals are at a low, I invited her for lunch.

That’s when Minerva told me about the exciting news Nina confided to her. Matt Roboson, the investor of shady deals, had offered to buy her boutique! Nina had whispered to her that Matt seemed to be flush with money. He wants to rename the boutique Paradise Place—intending to sell perfumes and “friendship bracelets” designed by jeweler Otto of West Palm Beach. He plans to compete with Happy House!

I saw my chance to ask Minerva to find out more from Nina about Matt’s cash flow.

***

Paradise Place!” Gina pointed her pen at Violet. “Tell Matt”—she giggled—“that I’m interested working for him.”

     “For making deals, a pick-up place,” Mark said, “is always a magnet.”

     “I’ll do some investigating,” Carl said, “on mister Roboson. Is he a native Bahamian?”

     “Matt’s father came over from England,” Mark said. “He started buying out-island properties for a song. He married Ann Leslie, a woman from Hope Town. Matt was born in Nassau. Violet, please get back to Minerva regarding the cash flow.”

     “Mark,” Carl said, “I’m curious to know what you found out about Mai Tai Cay.”

***

Report by Mark Campion

I went to the Bahamian Government Ministry of Finance Valuation Section. I’m known as a realtor so I had no problem with the clerks. Lucian purchased the Cay on December 5, 1959, for $20.000-. When he sold the Cay, and to whom, has not yet been recorded. I predict that the codicil Kitty mentioned was written at the lawyer’s office as a short will. And most likely is filed with the purchase of the Abaco properties.

***

Your turn, Carl,” Mark said. “By the way, Colin also made the valuation of the Abaco purchase and the 69 acres are now worth one million.”

     Carl held up his report, saying, “I’ll read aloud what I wrote.” He looked around the table. “My good friend told me that Lucian purchased April 14, 1961, two tracts at Settlement Bight Land known as New Creek Bay on island Great Abaco totaling 69 acres valued at $38.000-. Postal address: Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Matt T. Roboson’s company, New Roboson (Holdings) Inc., owned the land.

He learned that the two tracts had originally been the property of a William H. Malone who sold the land to a Dr. Costenbader and cronies. When the doctor died the thread of info became thin. He had a funny feeling that the doctor bought the land from Matt. Once the Estate of Dr. Costenbader was settled, Matt was free to sell it to Lucian.

***

Carl, I have a feeling”—Gina blew him a kiss—“that Nora will be able to snoop the financial trail regarding the cash flow. Banks have access to info outsiders don’t.”

     “I have a better idea”—Mark smiled from ear to ear, the gap between his teeth prominent—“Rose has her way with men because she runs a preschool. She once told me that . . . “

     “She”—Violet interrupted—“seduces them with her charming ways.”

     “In that case, we’ll set her up at Nina’s”—Gina waved the wish-list—“about the cash flow.”

     “Okay,” Carl said. “Violet, you contact Minerva, or better yet, have a chat with Nina.”

     “I’ll pump both”—Violet whetted her lips—“and set up Rose for a meeting. She’s a pro at rolling her baby-blue eyes.” She pointed at Mark. “How many men has your sister wrapped around her little finger?”

     Gina clapped. “Violet, I’ll see you at Nina’s. I can’t wait meeting Rose.”

     Mark chuckled. “Ladies, we men are suckers. Carl and I are confident that we’ll get at the bottom of this cash flow deal.”

     “I’ll have a chat with Nora,” Carl said. “Let’s meet again tomorrow for breakfast.”

*******

Breakfast on the terrace

     The four investigators were sipping coffee and munching orange-marmalade croissants while reading each others’ report.

     “Nora,” Carl said, “was unable to see me yesterday. We’ll meet for lunch.”

     “I ran into a guy who’s an old buddy of Matt,” Mark said. “We’ll meet at noon for a beer.”

     “Violet,” Carl said, “you wrote that Minerva told you that according to Colin, Matt Roboson’s cash flow is suspicious. Colin assumes it has to do with shady real estate sales in the out-islands. You decided not to invite Minerva to Nina’s because we can’t afford her getting involved as she has a sharp tongue.” He chuckled. “So . . . Rose entered the boutique. You and Gina were chatting with Nina. Rose held out her arms. You gave her a hug. Then you introduced Rose to Nina. Conveniently you had a dentist appointment and quickly left. And Gina took over.”

     “Mark,” Gina said with a chuckle in her voice, “your sister should start a public relations academy for young ladies. Rose is absolutely delicious. In no time Nina was like soft butter, hanging on to Rose’s lips: telling her, fluttering her dark lashes, that Nina’s boutique is a girls’ fantasy land—peaches and cream. I didn’t want to spoil the rapport and I sneaked out.”

     “She’s a born flirt,” Mark said with a slow smile. “Our grandmother called her Miss Coquette.”

     ‘Have you heard from her?” Carl waved the report.

     “I’ll give her a ring.” Mark took his mobile. “Hello Miss Coquette. We are eager to know what’s up between you and flush-guy.” –“Oh, Nina asked him to come after lunch to discuss the boutique sale so he’ll be in a good mood.”—“So . . . you’ll walk in casually and Nina introduces you.”—“You’ll call me around five?”—“Oh . . . you plan to have dinner with him or a nightcap?”—“You play it by ear. Smarty one, we’ll be all ears.” Mark blew a smacker, and put the mobile on the table.

     “So Rose will call you around five.” Carl took his stack of reports. “Let’s have happy hour at six.”

*******

It was happy hour

Humming a tune, her brown eyes twinkling, Gina put a carafe of rum punch on the table and snacks for nibbling. Then, all smiles, she sat in her chair. Violet and Mark would meet . . . surprise . . . Anneke! They were going out for dinner and Anneke would pay! Nina had been obliging; she had been given the green light to hide in the boutique’s lavatory to have a peek at Matt. She overheard that they would meet at nine for a drink at CONCH—a smart beach bar on the outskirts of Nassau. Next to the bar was a popular fish eatery, NO-BONE, where illicit couples would come to smooch. The owners knew her. She had booked a table for five.

     Carl escorted Violet and Mark to the terrace. Gina waved, saying, “I feel it in my bones that tonight will be full of surprises.”

     Mark snickered. “You bet, Gina! Rose called. She’s meeting flush-guy at nine at CONCH.”

     “Let’s play peeping-toms.” Violet whetted her lips. “I’m dying watching Rose perform!”

     Gina got up, and as she poured punch, said, “Mark, how did your meeting with Matt’s buddy go? Did he give away secrets?”

     Mark laughed. “He told me that as a teenager Matt already played crooked games. He learned from his father, who always was flush with paper money, spreading it around, but was never caught doing dirty tricks like money laundering. They used an intermediary by the name of Billy Malone.”

     “So Matt has a reputation,” Carl said. “That’s plenty to go by.” He took his notepad. “Gina, Nora has your genes for snooping at places nobody would think of.” Carl tapped his finger on the pad. “Nora said it’s easy nowadays to follow the money trail. However . . . cash is difficult . . . unless it’s deposited. And there she was able to help me.”

     Carl gulped punch; then, with a snort, said, “Matt has an account with Nassau Bank. He has to; otherwise it would look suspicious, considering his occupation. He has the habit of depositing every month $30.000- Nora had a hunch that he had another account somewhere in some other name with power of attorney. And voila,”—Carl waved his pad—“Matt’s great aunt Penelope Brace of Hope Town has lately become fabulously rich. Two deposits were made, each for $150.000-.” Carl chuckled. “Nora wonders if the old woman knows.”

     “Can Nora send a letter from the bank”—Violet’s blue eyes twinkled—“asking Penny Brace to verify this is her money?”

     “Let sleeping dogs sleep.” Mark grinned. “If we need this appetizer, we can always tell Kitty’s Dutch lawyer.”

     “Kitty’s question,”—Carl looked at Mark—“when did Lucian sell the cay without her knowledge is still unsolved.”

     “I booked a table for five at eight at NO-BONE,” Gina said. “I’ll fetch Anneke and we’ll meet at the restaurant.” She pointed a finger at Violet. “And you,”—she laughed—“can play peeping-tom!”

*******

At restaurant NO-BONE

The party of five, enjoying their rum drinks, sat at a table close to popular beach bar CONCH.

     “There he is,” Gina said, putting her hand on Anneke’s arm—Matt was at the bar talking with the bartender, “the guy with the blue-beaded collar-band.”

     “Minerva told me,” Violet said with a chuckle in her voice, “that he wears this band on dates. And if he’s enamored, he puts the beads around her neck.” She whetted her lips, and with a wink, said, “He calls it necking.”

     Covering her mouth with her napkin, Anneke’s shoulders shook with laughter. Holding their drinks, the men cheered. “In the out-islands,” Mark said, “Matt is known as the carrier pigeon, inflaming the local beauties.” He snorted. “Here in Nassau, he’s the local Necker.”

     “Gina,” Carl said with a nod as he gave her a ten dollar bill, “please have a chat with mister pigeon.”

     “Okay, boss.” Gina got up drink in hand, and strolled toward the bar. A good friend of Carl the private detective, the bartender welcomed her. “Hello, Gina. Matt Roboson is waiting for his date.” He topped Matt’s mai-tai.

     “Who’s the lucky girl?” Gina leaned over to admire the blue beads.

     “I think your date has arrived,” the bartender announced.

     Wearing a white, low-cut dress, Rose got out of her white convertible.

     In a wink, Gina put the tenner and her glass on the bar—and winking at the bartender—she strode, eyeing Rose, to the entrance of the restaurant.

     Two minutes later Gina joined the party.

     They were eating grilled grouper. Loud shouting from the bar made them sit up and look at the commotion. Matt was holding up his collar-band. The bartender shouted something as he grabbed the beads. Rose held out her hand, saying something. The bartender gave her the beads. Rose gave him a big smile. Then she turned to Matt and gave him the necklace.

     “I’ll be darned,” Mark said with a snort. “I hope Rose knows what she’s doing.”

     “Buttering him up,” Violet whispered. “Rose is as smooth as sweet whipped cream. For sure she has a plan.”

     The pantomime continued when Rose said something to the bartender—who nodded.

     Matt, holding his beads, said something to Rose. She took them, all the while smiling, and put them in her purse.

     The bartender uncorked a bottle of champagne. With a big grin he served the couple, saying something.

     “Bubbles and mai-tais?” Mark’s shoulders shook. “Clever girl.”

     “She has experience.” Violet whetted her lips.

     The party continued eating the fish, served with Bahamian peas and rice.

     “Look,” Anneke whispered, elbowing Carl. “They are leaving.”

     Arms linked, Matt and Rose were slowly moving to her convertible. When Matt was seated, Rose turned around—waving toward the party! Then she drove away.

     “Knowing my sister,” Mark snickered, “she’ll drive to his place.” He folded his hands as if in prayer. He looked at Carl and Gina. “Let’s meet for lunch tomorrow at your place and I’ll give her a ring.”

     “How about me,”—Anneke put her hand on Violet’s arm—“I’m dying to hear about her adventure.”

     “Sure,” Violet said. “I’ll pick you up at eleven-thirty.”

TO BE CONTINUED!!-----STAY TUNED !!

 *******

Since we cannot escape reality, let us change the EYES which see reality.

[Nikos Kazantzakis: writer]

A four-year-old girl took some raisins from her younger sister’s plate. Her mother said: ‘Are you stealing your sister’s raisins?’ The girl replied: ‘No. I’m teaching her to share.’

We live in a universe where reality is what we construct with WORDS.

[Wittgenstein]

WORDS are the most powerful DRUG used by mankind.

[Kipling]

The TONGUE has the power of LIFE and DEATH.

[Proverbs 18:21]

*******

Email your feedback about the story to the author at rosecamelia@verizon.net.

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