Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: STIR (11/12/15)
TITLE: The Rousing of Bertram Bigglesby
By Zacharia Fox
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The relationship between the city folk and the mountain folk was reflected in Bartrol and Lillica’s marriage; a tedious bond maintained by necessity. Lillica’s parents spent their life savings to save Bartrol’s failing bank; in exchange Bartrol married their daughter.
Bertram, like his father, found that life had to make dollars and sense. Though he had an acute appreciation for his mother’s tendency to venture, he never could shake the notion that spreadsheets were more trustworthy than adventures.
At twenty-five, Bertram stood atop the ladder of success, and at twenty-five his parents died, when their ferry collided with a coal barge coming from the mountains.
As tragedy often does, it drove Bertram deeper into his work. And just as tragedy drove him to banking, so he drove the bank to success. His life became a rhythm of days, beginning and ending with a hot cup of sugarless tea, eyes reading line upon line of numbers, until that slight appreciation of his late mother’s hazardous nature was filed away in the annals of his memory under ‘poor judgment’.
And so he was disturbed when a knock on the door interrupted his nightly ritual. He tried to ignore it, hoping the uninvited delinquent would take a hint. Instead the knocking grew louder, clueing Bertram as to how depraved the perpetrator was. When his concern for his door’s finish overtook him, he marched on slippered feet, undid six locks, and opened the door.
He had a perfectly patronizing speech prepared, but before he could utter a word, the stranger picked him up and gave him a bear hug.
“Cousin!” the stranger shouted through his beard.
“You recognize me!”
Bertram blinked, befuddled. Or was he bewildered? He really wasn’t sure; all he knew was this detour from routine was quite unwelcome.
“I’m not sure what… that is to say, I don’t know…”
Before Bertram could string a sentence together, the stranger snatched Bertram’s tea. “You’ve made tea!” He took a sip and scowled. “You forgot sugar!” Without waiting for an answer the stranger tromped into the kitchen and began rifling through the cabinets.
“Excuse me! What are you doing?” Bertram called, chasing the intruder.
“Looking for sugar.”
“Yes, I know, but, I mean, what are you doing here? In my house?”
“I’m here for our adventure.”
Bertram tripped over his own feet and fell backwards onto his kitchen table. “A… a what?”
The intruder found the sugar and scooped two spoonfuls into the tea, then a third into his mouth. “Aa-ve-sure,” he sounded out over a mouthful of sugar.
“I’m not going on any adventure!” Bertram wiped his forehead with his handkerchief.
“I’ve got my bank and… I have responsibilities. Bills and such.”
“So you’re a ninny?” The stranger sipped his tea.
Then, for the second time that night, something happened that Bertram didn’t expect. Some scrappy inkling, no doubt from the Jeopardy side, sparked to life and made him do something very unprofessional. Yell.
“I’m not a ninny!”
“Really? All done-up in your Sunday best for bedtime? You’re more a walking cash-drawer than you are a Jeopardy. Instead of a pulse you’ve petty cash; instead of a heart a 401(k).”
Bertram shook his fists in the air. “I could go on any adventure you could!”
“Good then. Let’s be off.” The bearded man tossed Bertram his coat and walked into the bedroom.
Now Bertram was more startled than when the man first barged in. “Um, when I said ‘I could’ I didn’t necessarily mean…”
“Go get your boots. It’ll be muddy.” The bearded man snatched several pairs of trousers and few shirts and stuffed them in Bertram’s travel bag.
Bertram was more confused than scared as he walked away from his mansion toting a travel bag, all with a stranger; which begged a certain question. “Um, forgive me but, who are you?”
“I told you, I’m your cousin.”
“Well, second cousin. And we’re both thirty.”
“What’s that mean, exactly?”
“All Jeopardys take an adventure at thirty.”
“That’s when Jesus started his adventures.”
And that is how Bertram Bigglesby found himself leaving the sidewalks of Patrony, for adventure on the muddy trails of the mountains.
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