Monday, April 26, 2010

MAGPIE/ Prompt #11

                                              photo/ willow/ magpie prompt


TOMORROW AT 11:00 AM, my Grandfather's walking stick is going to be auctioned off at Sotheby's in New York City.  He was a frail man in his later years, had great difficulty walking and relied on his cane to maintain his balanceMeasured, small steps, as if his feet had been bound in the Chinese manner.   

I liked to watch him smoking, and the ceremony that went with it.  He kept the tobacco in a small leather pouch and cigarette papers at the ready to be used.  I missed him a lot after he died rather unexpectedly.  I was about ten years old at the time and missed the tapping sound that let us know he was making his way through the apartment.  We kept the cane in the umbrella stand afterwards and sometimes I would sneak a walk around our apartment, tap tapping and pretending to be lame.

One time the cane fell as my brother Sasha and I were fooling around.  We were very surprised to see the metal top bounce off the wooden stick.  A folded piece of paper fell out.  Unwrapped, it read, "Remember the slain 300".  My Mother just stared at it when we showed it to her and tucked it into her pocket.  Grandmother walked out of the room, a handkerchief brought to her lips.

Much was hidden about my Grandfather, Josef Kasmine-Rashkov.  While my Mother and Grandmother emigrated to New York from St. Petersburg in the 1930's, my Grandfather, scheduled to follow, disappeared.

The report in the Times about the auction of the walking stick revealed the unfolding history of its owner.  Josef Kasmine-Rashkov was one of the most famous Soviet operatives during the 1930'S and 1940'S.  It's believed in some circles that he took a leading role in the assassination of the enemies of Stalin.  He was sent to Spain to monitor the Worker's Party and it was there that he received a gunshot wound in his leg, the bullet shattering and proving to be inoperable.  It was during the process of healing that he found the walking stick in the apartment of a slain Trotskyist, and kept it with him always.  As he tried to do with his new Spanish wife. 

On close viewing, some of the ridges and swirls of the metal head seem dented.  It is thought that more than one collaborator suffered a blow on the head, and the evidence remained on the top of the cane.

Grandfather entered the U.S. under a false identity, after the war.  Of course he left his Spanish wife behind.  He was embraced by my Grandmother, who, after long years of separation, appreciated the large amount of jewels he had brought with him.  

He led a blameless life in New York, gaining popularity as a maitre'd at the Russian Tea Room.  He was the dapper one who always walked with the fancy cane.  Until an old war wound caught up with him, and forced him to retire.  One could say that he died of a bullet that had struck him fifteen years ago.

We expect to get a pretty penny for the walking stick at auction.


Thank you Willow, at Magpie Tales, for this prompt...and do join all the other participants.


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28 comments:

willow said...

Fascinating story, Lyn. I particularly liked how you described his walking...like his feet had been bound in the Chinese way. Loved how you weaved the history through.

Lyn said...

Hi Willow-
Thank you so much..this was a hoot to do..I swear you do set off a stream of consciousness in me!

christine said...

Such a fascinating story and could be possibly true as all the dates fit with historical records, clever you!

Christine

Lyn said...

Hi Christine-
Thanks..True?? I never thought of that!

Everyday Goddess said...

What a great story! I love how it weaves so many fascinating historical events.

Lyn said...

Hi Everyday Goddess-
It's funny how one can find facts and then make them into a story..Thank you!

Brian Miller said...

truly a fascinating magpie! bet he could have told many a story...as with his cane.

Lyn said...

Hi Brian-
Yes, there are many secrets I didn't reveal..maybe next time!! Thanks...

Catalyst said...

Your story of intrigue intrigued me, Lyn. Here's hoping for many more.

Lisa said...

when we see the frailty of our grandparents along side their tender words for us, we forget they were vibrant, passionate people with lives, sometimes lives with a real story. But they still are the grandparents that we grew to love.

Lyn said...

Hi Catalyst-
Thank you..most of these intrigues are such fun to do!

Lyn said...

Hi Lisa-
I think that grandparents are the very best of us..with the strength to overcome! Thanks..

sheri... said...

reading your magpie was a joy! the history was fascinating and i loved the generations you used, woven together with the walking stick center stage...

Lyn said...

Hi Sheri-
Thank you..It was interesting for me to match it all up!

Tumblewords: said...

Cleverly stitched! The imagery is terrific.

joanny said...

Lyn

As always your tales are cleverly woven and well written -- love the use of historic fiction -- using this genre, while penning fiction, you managed to capture the social conditions of the person(s) of that time.

Joanny

Lyn said...

Hi Tumblewords-
Thank you..I like for my tales to have some semblance of truth!

Lyn said...

Hi Joanny-
So kind of you..it seems to me that any set of facts can become a story!! Thanks...

Derrick said...

Your Russian relations have a fascinating history, Lyn, and more than a few skeletons in the cupboard!

Lyn said...

Hi Derrick-
There may be a few truths in this tale..maybe I'll just leave it at that!!
Grandfather..he really did roll his own!!

Jennifer said...

What a tale! I love historical fiction - what better inspiration than real events! It's an engaging story Lyn.

Lyn said...

Hi Jennifer-
It's funny how these stories just grow..definitely something I like doing..Thank you!!

rel said...

Lyn,
Bravo, bravo, bravisimo!!
this is so John Le Carrish. Excellent writing and fun to read. You might consider expanding this story..........
rel

steviewren said...

Love your stories. Very nicely done!

Lyn said...

Hi rel-
John le Carre, huh? I wish! I do see the possibility of this expanded..thanks!!

Lyn said...

Hi steviewren-
So appreciative of your comment..prompting works!!

Peter Goulding said...

Hi Lyn,
Intriguing and beautifully written. Wondering though if it might be seen as a betrayal of the 300 to auction off the stick?

Lyn said...

Hi Peter-
A valid point..We'll just have to wait and see, since the cane was auctioned yesterday,if any hauntings went along with it..
And we did get a pretty penny!!
Thank you..

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