Charlie Priest's Telegram
D .F. Skertchly
Copyright 2011 by D. F. Skertchly
For my Sue,
For her love, patience and encouragement.
DFS August 2010
They still had telegrams in those days: you didn’t get one very often, and when you did, it rarely brought good news. Charlie Priest got one, and it brought the worst possible news. It seemed that his grandfather, whom he’d forgotten even existed and couldn’t remember ever having heard spoken of anyway, had died: but it wasn’t this that unduly bothered him; no, the real concern – and the news of it sent a cold shiver down his spine – contained in the telegram’s message was the fact that the widow of this forgotten kinsman of his proposed coming to live with him. Not only proposed it, but sent instructions concerning her arrival.
First she’d told him of Grandfather Horace Priest’s death (at least he now knew the poor man’s name) at King’s Lynn in Norfolk, at the age of eighty-six; then she’d told him the funeral was over and done with (why, he wondered without the least interest, hadn’t he been invited? And why hadn’t she made any mention of the will? If he’d been left anything, she’d presumably have said so, so plainly he hadn’t); and then had come the words that had caused him such disconcertion. The chill that had settled the length his spine now took refuge in his heart and became a frozen mass as he read her words again.