Colleen frowned at her brother. “I still think you should just ask her for it instead of trying to steal it. I can’t see how you can help but get caught, Eli. Is that clock really worth so much to you that you’d stoop to theft?”
“It’s the principle of the thing, Sis. Auntie just claimed all Grandpa & Grandma’s stuff and took it home with her, just because she lives close. And she’s going to hoard it until the day she dies. All the stuff they wanted to give us will be passed on to her children.”
“You can’t really call this theft exactly; it’s more like a restoration of our inheritance. I know Grandpa wanted to give me that clock; he told me several times. One day when I was there he chiselled my name on the back so everyone would know. I’m sure Auntie’s not blind — so she’s just keeping it. And I want it back.”
Colleen shook her head sadly, remembering the Lone Star quilt Grandma promised her that she wasn’t going to get, either. But she wasn’t going to go steal it. “And when she sees it’s missing? If I’m there right at that time, how can I help but be implicated?”
“She won’t even know it’s gone. You know how cluttered Auntie’s house is. You could lose a Saint Bernard in there.” He had a point. Auntie’s house was bulging now that it held so many of her parents’ possessions as well as her own.
Eli ran his hand through his hair and outlined his plan again. “I’ll be driving the company truck. You know the old lane to the pasture, not far from Auntie’s place. There’s a that clump of chokecherry bushes; I’ll park behind those and take the path through the woods. When you see my truck sitting there, you just go ring her doorbell and chat her up.”
“I hope she won’t guess how nervous I am.”
“Relax. Ask her about her garden; get her to show you her perennials, like women do. You’ll be with her the whole time, so she’ll know you didn’t take it. If she sees my truck and guesses I was around, I’ll say I was doing a job nearby.” He concluded his plan with, “She has no right to have that clock. It’s mine and I want it.”
The next afternoon Colleen pulled into Auntie’s driveway at the designated time and took a deep breath. Her nerves jittered like a swarm of grasshoppers and she felt a tension headache coming on. She’d caught only a glimpse of the Apex Roofing truck as she passed the old lane; Eli had hidden it well.
As she got out of the car she sighed a prayer and made up her mind. She would come right out and ask Auntie for the clock Grandpa had promised Eli, even if doing so might implicate her if Auntie found it missing later. She could hardly bear to think of her brother stealing it, heirloom or not. This decision gave her courage as she walked up to Auntie’s door and punched the door chime.
Auntie opened the door a few moments later. “Colleen! How nice you came. I was just about to have a glass of tea.”
“I… I was driving by and thought I’d stop for a minute,” Colleen began. “I know we haven’t been together since Grandpa’s funeral and I was thinking it’s high time.” The word “time” chimed in her conscience like a grandfather clock.
“Well, I’m so glad you’ve come!” Auntie gushed. “Come join me for an iced tea. Yes, when the folks died I was so overwhelmed with it all, all the arrangements. I’d never been a executrix before… So much legal stuff to look after. Then I had to have the house cleaned out within two weeks.
“Yes, it was sold privately, you know, and the new folks wanted possession right away, so I just gathered up all Mother & Dad’s stuff and brought it here. I’ve finally gotten up courage to sort through it. I was so happy when I discovered a list Mother had made.” Auntie grinned. “She’d rolled it up in an old slip in her undies drawer. First place you’d look, right?”
Colleen laughed “Well, no. And yet, somehow that sounds like something Grandma might do.”
“It’s a list of all the things they wanted each of you grandchildren to have — and I see you’re to get that Lone Star quilt she made years back. Now that you’re here I can give it to you.”
“And the clock Grandpa carved…?”
“O, that has your brother’s name on it. Dad said several times that it would be Eli’s someday so I’m planning to give it to him next time I see him.”
“Wow, Auntie, That’s super. You know, he came along with me today, sort of, but he wanted to…was going to…wander through the woods a bit. But I’ll give him a shout. He’ll be so happy to know he’s getting Grandpa’s clock. Maybe you could pour us both a glass of iced tea while I go find him.”
Colleen hurried outside and headed down the path to the woods. But before she called Eli’s name, she looked into the heavens and waved her grateful thanks.”
This story was initially posted on Christine Composes in Aug 2014. I plan to include it in my upcoming book, Wisdom in Whimsy.