Monday, May 04, 2015

May the 4th be with you Part 2

Continued from May the 4th be with you...

It was 10 AM PDT. Paul got back to his desk. He had barely managed to get through the meeting with his accountants. His taxes were in place, and his business contracts - he was praying that one of them would pull him out of his debt.

Yes, Paul was in debt. In fact, the family was in debt, and not for a reason of their own doing. Paul knew that Great Grandpa had tried to do his best to avoid this situation, and made sure Paul was always kept informed, lest he had to get his own hands dirty to clean it up. But Paul had also been making his plans and making do with whatever finance skills he had picked up from GG. Also, he knew he could count on his accountants to dot the i's and cross the t's.

But the meeting had done more than help sort out his paperwork. While parting, one of the men had said... "May the 4th be with you" and everyone had a hearty laugh. Paul had missed the reference, and on asking was gently reminded of the old "Star Wars" reference - at which point he felt sick to the core for not having made the connection himself.

Sir Vonn Farthings had been a die-hard Star Wars fan. Paul vaguely remembered him watching and rewatching the original trilogy when Paul was still a child. It now occurred to Paul that the clue had to be in one of those quotes from the trilogy, and he contemplated rewatching the entire series to figure out.

In fact... where did GG move his movie collection? They used to be on the shelves, but ever since last Christmas, he had been clearing up that shelf in preparation for something that he wouldn't explain to Paul. Whenever he had asked, all GG said was... "It's a secret project. You will know when it's time for you to know. It's very important, and it must be done."

Paul went back to check on the shelf anyway. He walked through the 2nd floor corridor from his bedroom to the library, wishing for once that he didn't live in a humongous mansion with half a dozen doors in each corridor. While passing, he glanced at each wall hanging he crossed. Mr. Higgins, the butler, had done his job well. Paul couldn't see a single speck of dust anywhere.

As he reached the library, Paul could already see something was out of place. He saw plenty of books... but they weren't arranged the same way that he was used to. "Mr. Higgins, can you lend me a hand here?" he called out.

Mr. Higgins walked up from the basement, carrying a steam vacuum cleaner. As soon as he entered the library, he noticed there was no mess to clean up, and quietly kept the steam vacuum cleaner aside, took off his gloves, wiped his fingers with hand sanitizer, and walked over to Paul.

"Yes, Master. Farthings - how may I help you?"

"Why are the books all out of order?"

"Aah, yes, Master. I'm given to understand that Sir Farthings decided to give up use of the old Dewey-Decimal system to upgrade to the more recent and popular BISAC system that's been, as I understand, used in most bookstores and even most public libraries, for eons now."

"I see. Are you familiar with the new system, Mr. Higgins?"

"Not entirely, Master, but I have the feeling I can get my way around. What is it that you're looking for?"

"The Star Wars Movie collection. Just the original three. It is the 4th of May, after all!"

"Indeed, Sir. Just a moment."

Mr. Higgins then pulled out his cell phone, punched a few keys on it, and a blue light appeared on the shelves, right over the space between a few discs.

"They should be right over there, Master Farthings", he said, pointing.

After Paul was done shaking off his surprise from watching the "new indexing technology" in action, he walked over to the empty slots and noticed the discs were not where they should have been. Instead, he found something scribbled on the shelf...

"May 11th, after the meeting with Mr. Pifanny - GG"

Paul stared at the date with confusion. It was indeed the same ink that GG used. That was the exact date that he had asked his accountants to come back to follow up. He hadn't decided the date and time until he walked into the meeting. And no-one had joined him into the meeting, and he had escorted the accountants out right after. Even Mr. Higgins didn't know when that next meeting would be.

Paul ran his thumb over the ink. It was still wet.

"Is everything alright, Master Farthings?"

There must have been a reason why the note mentioned Mr. Piffany, and yet not Miss Silway. GG was not a man to omit people. Searching for an answer, he replied,

"I think so. Can you look up Breakfast at Tiffany's for me, please?"

Mr. Higgins punched a few keys, and a new light showed up - and just as Paul had anticipated - the Star Wars trilogy was right there, next to Breakfast at Tiffany's.

"Thank you, Mr. Higgins. That will be all for now."

"Yes, Sir".

As Mr. Higgins walked away, Paul thought he felt a feather brush against his neck, and a pat on his back. He turned around quickly to check, but he could see nobody around. And then the full meaning hidden in the quote occurred to him:

"May the 4th, Be with you".

GG had been here in the room with him. Then Paul stared back at the note on the shelf, where the light flickered one last time before turning off.

He would have to wait patiently till May 11th now.

May the 4th be with you

“May the 4th be with you.”

That’s all it said. Of all the things in the world to say to a great grandson that he had spent virtually his entire life taking care of, like his own son, feeding him, playing with him, teaching him all the lessons of life, defending him through the rough weather that life always brought their way… after all that... That’s all his great grandfather had chosen to write in his will.

80. What a number to hit before the sleep of eternity. At 16, Paul didn’t think much of life. He had seen a lot already. He was glad Great Grandpa could finally move on. Hopefully, the other side didn’t have any of this chaos.

Paul’s mind went back to the will. He was beyond the mourning phase. It had already been a couple weeks, when his family lawyer brought to him the will, and said to him… “What do you make of it?”

After all, the old man had no other legacy. Yet, Mr. Tucker knew there had to be more to the will. There was always something hidden in words penned down by the infamous late Sir Robert Vonn Farthings. He should know. Come, let us not talk of that time when he managed the sale of the family mansion - to be sold for a penny to the man who would cross the ocean of Piranhas to save the Princess Mary. Only - there was no Princess anymore - all countries were now democratic. Piranhas weren’t to be seen for a thousand miles - nor an ocean. And the mansion - thankfully, that did exist, but pennies hadn’t been in circulation for 100 years.

Sir Vonn Farthings had his way with words, puzzles and mysteries. Why not? After all, it was the one idiosyncrasy that annoyed those who worked for him. He always took such care of them, that they almost started to believe they were extended family. Everyone sought to work for him - yet, he was not to be taken lightly. One had to be pure of heart and intentions to stand even a chance to be interviewed by him.

As for Paul - he was a remarkable boy. He treated everyone with respect, always put on a show of cheerfulness, went about any task he picked up with diligence. Yet… there was something queer about him lately. He had stopped seeking answers. He lived life as he had lost too much - as if his soul could never be healed.

Paul was the last person to be unaware of his great grandfather’s riddles. The thought of a legacy after he passed away had never crossed his mind. But the last thing Paul wanted right now, was one final unanswered riddle to haunt him for the rest of his life. And so he decided he had to solve it.

“May the 4th be with you.”

Paul put the letter back in the envelope, and stared at his desk. He watched the second hand of his clock tick as time inched forward. What was special about today? Why was it so important for this day to be in his favor? He had to work it out, and work it out soon. Or he would lose any remaining traces of clues that might help him solve it. Today, or never.

He took out the letter again, and started searching every nook and corner of the letter for any symbols, smudges, marks - anything that told him more. But he found nothing. The ink was sharp. It was the same blue ink that Great Grandpa had used since Paul read his first alphabet. The rest of the sheet was plain white and spot clean.

Then he saw the first clue! Written on the envelope was:

“Will: To be opened 14 days after”

Great Grandpa knew his last day was coming. He knew it with precision. He had handed the will to Mr. Tucker with full knowledge of when “May 4th would arrive”. This wasn’t about just a casual riddle. There was something deeper here - a hidden message. Did he end his own life? If so, why? Or… Paul dreaded… was he murdered? But that didn’t make much sense. How would he know the exact date of his murder?

A sudden knock on Paul’s door broke his chain of thought. It was his accountant. There were some business meetings he had scheduled, and he couldn’t wake away from them. Great Grandpa’s mystery would have to wait till 10 AM PDT.

Paul put the envelope back in, safely into his drawer, cursed his fate, and then put on the best smile he could and walked out to meet the accountant with a firm and confident handshake.

Continued in Part Two