The Melancholy Monologue of Mr Jones

A tale of how the mumbling thoughts of an old man who has recently passed have a strange affect upon a young girl and how this slowly changes her outlook on the world she lives in.

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1. The Last Will and Testament

“Here is the last will and testament of Mr Edward Jones, husband, loving father and cherished grandfather.” Proclaimed his lawyer in a tone that appeared to be used for dramatic effect; as if he had rehearsed this for weeks.

“Would you like me to continue?” He said, and with that from the very back of the room a cold voice groaned “Get to the exciting bit”. That would be my aunt, a cold-blooded, merciless woman she was. She was obsessed with wealth, though she’d never earned a penny in her life, not by her own hand anyway. Though she always seemed to find a way to get her slimy paws on something of great worth.  “Certainly m’am” He continued.

“To my wonderful wife, Susan, I leave my house and car so that you may continue life without me. And to my wonderful daughter, Mary” My mother. “I leave my collection of vintage watches and assorted jewellery; I hope that selling these covers the evident funeral costs and any money trouble you have at this present moment or in the near future. And to my second daughter, Ellen” Suddenly my dreadful aunt stood up rubbing her palms together in delight. “I am afraid what I have left you has more family value than any money value you expect, I leave you my 12 family portraits that lie collecting dust in the darkest corner of the attic”. There was a pause, one so quiet that you could hear Aunt Ellen’s heart sink deep into the pit of her stomach, the silence ended with the slam of a door and the rev of an engine as Aunt Ellen stormed out and left at the thought of her prize, she knew that these were worth nothing, perhaps she could find an interested portrait artist but otherwise these were not fit to sell and she had no right to sell them. Hesitantly however, the lawyer pushed on. “And to my only granddaughter I leave…” This was it whatever granddad had left me was a representation of how much he loved me or how much he felt that I loved him. “…I leave my stories”. And with that a dull look of perplexity flooded the room, all directed at me. Unsure whether this was bad or not I just smiled and nodded to the lawyer to continue reading. There was very little left to give, he had given my father a couple of old trinkets that were collected in his cellar and given a few of his old friend’s treasures which he had locked up in a trunk in his shed.

I didn’t know much of my grandfather. We would visit him every week or so and he’d be slumped in his chair with his headphones on watching the television; he was partially deaf and so required headphones to hear the television. I seldom saw him move from his chair, so what stories could he have to tell? Had I truly underestimated my dear old granddad? After everyone had left I confronted the lawyer to inquire as to whether he had any idea as to what these stories might be or perhaps how many there were. He replied “I have no idea as to the specifics but he left the collection with the will; they’re in a large trunk somewhere…” Suddenly I find myself desperate to find these adventures and begin to frantically search for this trunk. What am I even looking for, what do I expect to find? My grandfather was average, nothing more, nothing less. Everyday we saw him was the same, we would sit and go through the same general chitchat that everyone does, nothing specific, nothing complex or deep just a chat. I would make him a cup of tea and then he would light a cigarette and that would be our queue to leave.   Thinking about it we never really talked about my grandfather, if ever the conversation turned in his direction he would redirect by saying “How was school today” to me or “How was work today” to my mother in the hope that this would draw attention away from himself. In that way my grandfather was rather an illusive man, I just wish I’d had made more of an effort with him whilst he was still here.

I remember one conversation quite clearly, he got quite short-tempered as I began to talk about a film I had watched that week, I had never seen that side of him before.  “What a brilliant film, so much action, and the gun fights they were, glorious, I particularly liked the bit where a man was killed…” “What! You say you enjoyed watching the death of a man, a man with a family, a mother and father and possibly a wife and kids. You enjoyed seeing that mans life end unnaturally and before his time, inadvertently destroying of everyone around who loved him…” “Well no, I just…” “You should never glorify a death, nor dramatise it, especially when it involves a conflict. It is unnecessary and disrespectful. If you want to see good special effects you need to go direct, to the real thing and in those conditions, you will not glorify it; you will not comment on its quality because it will eat you up, it will silence you…” For about five minutes he sat, with his head in his hands until he slowly reached into his pocket, for his cigarettes. After that I didn’t visit him for a few weeks. In fact I’d forgotten about it until now.         

I just can’t fathom what he could possibly have hidden from us. Our entire family kept in the dark. This is becoming ridiculous, I must find this trunk! Or perhaps I’m overanalysing this, I seem to expect because there is a trunk full of them that they must be brilliant and that my grandfather, a person I have known all of my life, would be part of all of them. Perhaps they’re just fantasies or fairy tales that he had made up, I mean he said ‘stories’ so perhaps he means just so, they are not necessarily going to be all true and about my dear granddad.

 “Ahah, Got it, here is the trunk” he lifted, with great strain, an old and tattered wooden crate, I believe that it’s original job was a soap box, judging by the logo, or what was left of it, that was painted on the front. Inside there must have been at least a trees worth of paper, all an aged yellow colour. It was like a scene in a movie, I expected that what was in this crate would change the world and reveal all of its greatest secrets. However in order to save my sanity I just replied with “Cool” In the way that teenagers do when they are excited about something that they know deep inside may not be so exciting to others. I then picked up the crate, which was surprisingly heavy, and walked calmly out of the door. When I reached the car park my mum was sat in the front seat looking slightly on edge, I couldn’t see why until I had reached her car. Aunt Ellen was stood by the driver’s side looking very aggravated; she was threatening to slash my mother’s tyres if she didn’t swap inheritances. It was like watching a child complaining about the flavoured sweet they had picked or the doll that had been bought, but my mother is strong and she would not give in. She just sat in the car and stared deep into my aunt’s eyes, as if she was absorbing the whole thing but disposing of it almost simultaneously. It didn’t take long for my aunt to finally give up, even if she didn’t slash the front tyre before she left, you could tell as she walked away that she had finally accepted what she was given and even appeared to appreciate for a second, that a man had left her some of his prides and joys in life in the event his death. Though it wouldn’t last, we knew. So we visited my grandmother and told her that if Aunt did call not to answer and to decline any request to make a ‘trade’. So all we had to do was go home and wait for the call…

Upon reaching home the sense of anticipation grew as I waited for mother to open the boot of the car.  My mother’s sixth sense kicked in instantly and she instantly became suspicious of my behaviour. “Excited about this then are you?” She said as she handed me the crate. “You’ve seen right through me” I replied. “You’ll tell me if you find anything interesting, won’t you?” And with a small snigger I ascended  the stairs carrying years and years of a man’s life, clutching the hope that I would find something astounding. It seems that that may have been an understatement.

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