Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Andy – part 3

by Tom Gaylord

I never told my folks about that because they were already suspicious of Andy's dad as it was. My mom and dad often talked about him when they thought I was asleep. They wondered where his money came from and why he had so much time on his hands. My mom thought he was a criminal of some sort, but my dad was sure he was just some sort of European with money, like a banker or something.

When I turned 16, I stopped going out to the island because my folks enrolled me in preparatory school, which took that summer as well as one full school year. After that, I was accepted at West Point, where I attended and finally graduated. Mom and my sisters still went out to the island each summer, until my older sister got married. Then they started staying nearer to home, and eventually my middle sister got married, as well.

Dad retired from his legal practice and he and mom bought a smaller home, now that us kids were out of the house. I still went back for visits, but the carefree days on Kelly's island shooting BB guns with Andy had faded into dim memories.

Then the Great War started in Europe, and, as I was serving in the Army, I was certain to go if we got in. Training took up all my time until the day came when Mr. Wilson finally gave the word to go "Over There." I served in France and was gassed early in my first campaign, so I got the free trip home to recover in a hospital in New York. I thought about Andy, as I was finally in his city, but I didn't have the slightest notion of how to find him. I didn't even know his last name!

But as things sometimes do, it worked out completely different than I expected. Andy found me. Or at least I learned where he had been since our happy days on the island. In 1921, I saw his picture in an article in the paper, with about thirty other people I didn't know. It seems his whole family had been executed in Russia when the Bolsheviks took over. You see, Andy's last name was Romanof, and that cost both him and his father their lives. That was when I finally understood what his father had meant about enemies.

But the story doesn’t end there. It ends in 1925, when I bought a nickel-plated Daisy BB gun in a second-hand shop in Cleveland. There was no doubt that it was Andy's old gun because he had scratched his name in the metal wire of the stock. Only now my mature eyes read the name Andrei R.

Isn't it funny how the little things in life often turn out to be the biggest, only we don't find out about them until it's over?


Post a Comment

<< Home