The Non-fictional Fable

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
There is a place between reality and fiction where the two might blend. Is that where, or what, Mysticism is? Let's go there and find out.

Submitted: May 19, 2017

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Submitted: May 19, 2017

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Hi, my name is Alison Dickey, and I am a writer.

I write all sorts of fictional stories and if I were to read the story that I am about to tell you, well, I would think that it was fiction too.

It all started with the passing of an uncle of mine, he was a secretive man who lived in Bangkok, Thailand; of all places.

I knew little of my father's brother except for the occasional family discussions, usually at the dinner table.

Father would read whatever Uncle Theodore had written to us when Ted's yearly letter would arrive.

The last letter stated that he was doing research on antique Asian furniture, and its ties to mysticism.

He spoke at length about the relationship of the wood and its theoretical ties to certain mystic powers, demons, spirits, and so on.

Well it was all mumbo-jumbo to me and father said that it was just another wild-goose chase that Uncle Ted was on.

He was always seeking to get rich without physical labor being involved.

However, this letter was different in that Uncle Ted did not ask for money. Even Father showed a marked curiosity as to how his brother was supporting himself.

 

It has been year’s sense the last letter came to the house.

My Father and Mother have sensed passed on, God rest their souls, so any letters from Uncle Ted may not have reached me. At least that is what I thought until a few weeks ago; a lawyer contacted me by letter.

The lawyer sent word that Uncle Ted had passed away and that his remains were cremated and scattered, as per his wishes.

I was surprised to hear that Uncle Ted's assets were a sizable sum, given his past history.

All Ted's money was given to charities of his choosing. Everything else was sold except for one small antique table, which was in route to my home. It was bequeathed to my father, but his passing left me next in line to receive it; Lucky me.

Don't get me wrong, I am sure he was trying to make up for all the money he had sponged off my Family. --- But a table, really?

 

A week after the letter arrived, so did a box of about four foot square. It was very heavy for its small size and it took some doing getting it into my front room.

After gingerly cutting the box open I managed to peel it away from a well packed little table. The table looked more like an elaborately carved wooden box than a table.

With the help of my laptop, I had found out that this table was made of Wormwood and that it was old as hell. How old was anyone's guess, but there was nothing like this made after the third century; at least none ever found.

I contacted a renowned appraiser of oriental antiquities, via the internet, and sent her a photo. She said that she wanted nothing to do with the item and she would not say why.

She suggested that it was a very large Chinese Puzzle-box and that I might want to have the symbols translated, which might tell the tale.

She also suggested that I go see a man who has a business in a town nearby. He was said to be a book-store owner and an expert in such puzzles. I did the latter first.

I took pictures of every side of the box and printed them. That way the man at the book-store would have decent images to work with; transporting the box to the book store was out of the question.

The man that I was going to see was a Mr. Lee, and together with the fact that he was an expert in Chinese Puzzle-boxes, I presumed that he was oriental. --- Never presume anything.

The next day was Saturday so I motored over to the address provided. After several minutes of searching Google map and asking a few people, I finally found the book-store; it was tucked in-between two buildings and down, what looked like, an alley.

As I entered the cramped store a little bell on a spring announced my arrival; ting-ah-ling-ah-ling-ah-ling.

Two people were seated at a table by the window; a man and a woman.

It was a perfect place to sit if you wanted light enough to read by, but they were not reading, they were having tea.

They watched me intently as I walked over to the counter and rang the attendance bell; ting, ting.

The man from the table hustled over and asked if he could be of assistance.

I replied, "I am not sure, I have some photos that I would like Mr. Lee to look at. --- Is he here?"

"I am Mr. Lee, Robert Ellsworth Lee, proprietor. What was it that you wanted to show me?"

I removed the photos from my purse and laid them on the counter for him to inspect, then I said, "I was told that you may be able to tell me if this is a table, or if it is a large puzzle-box."

Mr. Lee looked at the photos intently, and then asked, "Where in the world did you get these photos?"

"I took them with my phone and printed them using my computer. I am sorry about the black and white, my printer is very low on colored ink," I replied nervously.

"You have this item in your possession?"

"Why yes."

"How big is it, two feet, three?"

"Three, I would think, it was packaged in a standard four-foot square shipping box," I replied, and even more nervous than before.

Mr. Lee was beside himself, almost giddy, and had so many questions.

He quickly seated me at the table, by the window, and brought some fresh brewed tea. The woman excused herself and disappeared into a back room.

I did not want the tea, but he was so nice and was very insistent.

Also, I did not want to offend the man that might have all the answers for the questions that I had.

"It is diffidently a puzzle-box," Mr. Lee said, as he sat down next to me with pictures in hand. "See these inscriptions, here and here, and these symbols opposite each other?" He said as he pointed at the different pictures.

I nodded, yes, even though I had no idea what he was talking about.

I was there to find out what the box was, and to ask what it might be worth. But the more he talked the more I realized that Uncle Ted might have sent repayment of borrowed funds, via puzzle-box; that would fit his eccentric behavior.

I interrupted the book store owner and said, "I will never remember everything that you are telling me, Mr. Lee.

If you would be so kind, I will pay you for your services if you will decipher the inscriptions and give me written instructions on how to open the puzzle; if that is possible. I know nothing about such items, it belonged to my late uncle and it was bequeathed to me when he passed on."

Mr. Lee replied, "I will do what I can, but please note, these types of puzzle are not easy to open and what is written on the outside may not lead to the inside.

I will study the photographs that you have provided.

Please, give me your phone number so that I can call you when I have reached a point of understanding; possibly within the week. By then I should know if the writings give clues to opening the puzzle."

When I asked about the puzzles worth, Mr. Lee sternly remarked, "This is not a thing you sell, you have no idea what that might cause."

I was puzzled by his comment, no pun intended, but left without further questions.

Mr. Lee called on the seventh day and gave me a set of procedures to follow, push this, turn that, rotate puzzle clockwise 90 degrees, etc., etc., and so on.

He told me that if his instructions did not open the puzzle-box then he would have to consult with a medium. And after the consultation, he would need to see the puzzle in person. --- I did not ask what the hell that meant.

I had a dinner and theater date with close friends, but that was an hour away and I had little else to do. So I went to test the puzzle procedures, straight away.

I wondered as I pushed this, turned that, rotated the puzzle, etc., etc., would I finally see what Uncle Ted had hidden inside? Or would I be thoroughly disappointed and find that he had hidden nothing at all?

"Well I'll be," I said to myself, "it is opening!"

As I pushed on the last symbol something happened. The top, approximately six inches thick, rotated clockwise just enough so that I could rotate the top even farther.

Low and behold there was a silver coin in a small recessed chamber; the chamber was the exact size needed to hold the coin.

"Hmm," I thought, "I do believe it is silver and it looks to be very old."

So off to my laptop I went, coin in hand, to do a Google search. And wouldn't you just know that I found a photograph of just such a coin. If mine was the real thing it was worth what I earn in a month, maybe more.

Just at that moment my friends arrived and started honking the horn on the van; to attract my attention no doubt. 

I took the coin with me for a story to tell, besides, maybe they knew something Google didn't.

 

After the excitement of the coin, dinner with friends, and the wonderful stage play, I was exhausted when I arrived home. I went right to bed.

"Tomorrow is Sunday," I thought, "I shall have all afternoon to play with my puzzle. Maybe there are other coins hidden in other compartments," I whispered to myself, and then I chuckled.

I woke up late, did my hair and make-up in record time, and quickly dressed for church.

As I scurried out the door I noticed that the puzzle top was back in place, as if I had never opened it.

"That is odd," I commented, "I do not remember closing that."

The sermon was inspirational, but far too long. I like them short, sweet, and tear producing.

A cousin of mine, about three years my senior, was at church that morning. She asked if I'd like to go to lunch with her, her husband, and a few of their churches friends. I had nothing better to do, so I accepted.

Over a light lunch I passed around my phone with all the puzzle pictures on it.

My cousin seemed a bit concerned about the object.

She made her concerns known when she said, "Those puzzles can be very dangerous, sweetie.  If it were me, I'd sell that thing so fast it would make your head spin.

I read about one of those that was in an antique shop in London, it ejected a knife when the poor shop owner tried to open it. Apparently he had not used the proper procedure and a he spent two weeks in the hospital because of it."

I tried to reassure her by saying, "Well I was cautious and I have already opened this one with the help of an expert.

Would you like to see what I found inside?"

"There was something in it?" everyone asked at almost the same moment.

I took the coin from my purse and handed it around to my curious and delighted fellow diners; they were thrilled with the treasure.

Everyone was making such a fuss that it caught the attention of people around us, especially a woman seated at the next table.

As she moved towards our table her head tilted slightly and her long black hair swayed to one shoulder. That is when her hazel brown eyes caught my attention.

"May I see the coin?" she asked, as if she had been part of the conversation all the while.

"I suppose," I hesitantly replied as she removed the coin from my hand.

"It is one of a variety of silver coin that was minted in the Forbidden City, most assuredly during the later years of the Chin Dynasty. Their worth is in their rarity and at action it should fetch $800 to $1,200.

I will save you the trouble of finding a reputable dealer and the expense of the action fees. I will give you $1,000 in cash for it, and not a penny more."

Suddenly every smart phone at the table was out and everyone was checking her information. She was right on all counts.

Her name is Janelle St. John and it turns out that she is a dealer, and collector, of rare coins. --- What are the odds?

Yes, I did sell her the coin, after all, she paid cash and the deal was verified. Besides, what do I know about selling coins at action?

After arriving home I was reminded that the puzzle box lid was closed; which I was sure that I had not done.

So after slipping on my sloppy girl clothes, I decided to practice opening the puzzle again. After all, if I was going to keep this thing, that did not match anything in my home, then I should be able to open it without hesitation.

Once again, I pushed this, turned that, rotated the puzzle, etc., etc., and Wa-La, the top shifted again.

As I slid the top open I could not believe my eyes, a coin was in the compartment, a larger compartment. It was obvious that it was not the exact same coin because this one was gold and bigger. A quick search on Google told me that it was a Spanish Doubloon and worth about ten times what the silver coin was worth.

I think that I went into shock as I took the gold coin out of the compartment. I have never held a real Gold Doubloon before.

I was shaking like a leaf, so I went to fetch a glass of wine in hopes that it would calm my nerves.

Yet, to my surprise, when I returned to the front room the puzzle box had closed again.

I was so nervous that it took me a half-hour to get the dammed box opened again. And when I did get it opened there was a jewel-incrusted Egyptian Scarab within an even larger compartment; maybe a pendant or a broach of some kind. 

***

After several hours I grew weary and unable to continue. At that point I had several gold coins, one being the Doubloon, the Egyptian Scarab, a pill-box which I believed to be mostly Platinum, several diamonds and other jewel laden broaches, a fine Emerald pendant, a few things carved from Jade, all very old. They were all of various sizes, but none bigger than my closed fist.

As I sat sipping my wine a question came to me, "How was the compartment changing sizes?"

I tried to run a scenario in my mind of how this puzzle worked, but I had just enough wine to keep that from happening. So I resorted to talking myself through it, out load.

 

"Well, you certainly are a puzzle and that is for sure!" I amusingly said, as IF I was talking to the box.

"You want everyone to think that you are magic, but I know better. There is no such thing as magic, or any kind of Mystic Mumbo-Jumbo involved in what is going on here.

A logical explanation can be crafted for everything you do. You know that, right?" I said as I drained the last of the wine into my glass.

"So here are the scenarios. Every time your spring loaded thing-ie closes, your lid somehow rotates, or slides, and drops another item into the compartment that I retrieve it from.

Now, that is a good hypothesis, but that doesn't explain how the compartment keeps changing sizes, you know, so it fits the next item.

So the only explanation is that you are not magic, there is just more than one compartment. Thus, each compartment already has an item in it.

Now, every time some spring-thing closes your flat little lid something slides, rotates, or whatever. Then that moves a different compartment into the central position for item retrieval.

Are you following me Mr. Puzzle, because I am about to wrap this up and go to bed?"

"Yep, I got it," said a voice coming from the Puzzle-box.

"More than one compartment, spring-thing closes my lid, something rotates inside me, blah, blah, blah."

 

D. Thurmond/JEF  --- 05-19-2017


© Copyright 2017 D. Thurmond, aka, JEF. All rights reserved.

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