The Cinderella Stamp Collector- Ep 3 You Have Not Met Mother

You would think that Montague’s Mom would shed some light on the strange predicament her son was in.  However, you have not met Mother.  Isla Lindsay is herself lovable, eccentric is being kind, and totally closed lip about family.

Only Montague is allowed to call her Mother, and then only at Christmas.  Every other time he must refer to her as Mrs Kelly.  He stopped asking why, it does no good.  She’s changed it three times over the years.

Now that you’ve met her, you’ll understand the story I’m about to relate.  It started four weeks ago, and would eventually return us to the side of the cliff you came in on.  Montague had been hired to locate a stamp again, it was another day at the office. Until his client did in his arms, and it was anything but natural.

See you next week for the next episode…

The Cinderella Stamp Collector Episode 2 – Deadly Fortune

A Cinderella stamp is almost anything that looks like a postage stamp, but wasn’t issued for postal purposes by a government. A lot are common, but some are rare, and those are very rare. Like Montague they have a strange history, and they’re worth a lot of money.

I didn’t know it when I married him, but he’s loaded. You’re probably thinking I’m loaded now too, but not really. Oh, on paper we’re close to Bill Gates money, the reality is a little different.

We do pretty good, but the considerable fortune that’s in Montague’s name is untouchable. Any money that Montague earns, can’t be spent. Instead it’s controlled by a man named Brendan Ross.

You know how they say family is complicated, well for Montague that’s an understatement. Most people don’t like their accountant, but very few have ever been threatened by their money manager.

Montague had. The man who kept him from killing him was Sven Lindsay, a mystery man. He’s the genius who put Montague’s financial future in a madman’s hands.

Brendan can touch a portion of his money, but only a small percentage.  Montague is the trustee on Brendan’s trust fund.  He has to sign off on any purchase more 250,000 dollars.

Sven is the one with the money originally.  They don’t know how, or where he got it. According to everyone from the CIA to Interpol, Sven doesn’t exist.  Montague doesn’t know if he’s a rogue, or an agent, or how deadly his fortune actually may be.

Sven also happens to be related to each of them, though neither knows how. Montague or Brendan only know three things about the man. He’s family, he’s powerful, and he’s determined they both stay alive and out of prison.

The other thing they found out, is that neither can kill the other without consequences. If Brendan ever touches Montague again directly, he loses everything. Montague isn’t a murderer, but he’s also not a criminal, Brendan is.

Montague has all the evidence in the world to have Brendan convicted, there’s just one catch. If he turns him in, a contract will be put on Brendan’s head within the hour. To keep the man who despises him alive, he can’t have him arrested.

I told you it was crazy, but I was there when the man told them both this. To show how serious he was, he gave them the name of the hit man he had placed on retainer.

Sven walked out of the mansion that night, and they’ve not seen him since. They get a postcard every birthday, with the same phrase above his signature. Families fight to stay alive and together.

The Cinderella Stamp Collector – Montague Lindsay

“Why?” “Because my dear, it’s too dangerous to stand back and do nothing.” We were talking about a stamp. Montague Lindsay is a stamp collector, but saying that is like comparing chicken and beef. He is much more than a stamp collector.

Montague is an expert, a brilliant young gentleman in his thirties. A child prodigy in stamp collecting, as well as almost anything else he’s attempted. His first heroic effort involved the rescue of a Mauritius Post Office Stamp from the owner’s cousin.

The cousin in question attempted to separate Montague from his arms at the shoulders, thankfully unsuccessfully. Since then, Montague has become an “active” consultant. If a stamp needs located, protected, or strategically brokered, they called Montague.

Which is why we found ourselves hurdling towards the ground without any parachute this afternoon. At the moment of my opening question, he was cleaning his glasses. I was looking for anything to keep from dying.

The difficulty with Montague is that you don’t always know what he’s thinking. Such was the case at that moment. Instead of cleaning his glasses, as I assumed, he broke them in half, wrapping his handkerchief around the metal hook he was forming.

“Things aren’t always what they seem old girl.” He said as he grabbed me and shot this hook towards a nearby cliff. A wire line kept us connected to the hook as we hung from the side. It took us two hours to climb up.

Upon feeling the ground underneath my feet, my first act was to hit Montague squarely in the face. It was a theatrical punch and not a real one. To his credit he took it, then explained.

“I couldn’t tell you my plan. They questioned you, he would have figured it out. He’s almost as smart as my mother’s son.” Montague’s mom only had one child, him. “Why involve me at all?”

At that point he reminded me of what I had momentarily forgot. “I didn’t, you held me at knife point remember?” An action I would seriously dissuade in the future. Especially if it was a gift from the person you are pointing the knife at to begin with.

I’ll explain that in a minute, I should introduce myself first. As you may have guessed, I am Mrs. Montague Lindsay, Charlotte, he calls me Lottie for short. As for the knife point part of it, I was undercover at the time, and it was the only way to save both our lives.

When I began dating Montague, I thought that a stamp collector would be a nice change of pace, considering my career choice. I am a professional security specialist, a fancy title for a company detective.

When we met, I was pretending to be someone else, to recover a half million dollars in stolen funds. Montague had inserted himself in the middle of one of my operations. He did so to save my life, although he never attempted to give me a heads up.

My prey was playing me. The spy had discovered who I was, and was setting me up for a dangerous accident. By inserting himself into the situation, he was able to upset the dynamic, a Montague tactic.

One that he would continue to use, and one that always surprises me. Including disarming me of said knife, and sending it spinning towards a stranger a few feet away. The man ducked, which kept the bullet from his gun from hitting my temples.

The man with what most people would call the most mundane profession, was the most exciting person I’ve ever known. Montague Lindsay, the Cinderella Stamp Collector.

#SerialSaturday

For the last few years, eat Saturday PruittWrites has featured a different Saturday serial, and they’ve been popular. From The Sea Horse, to Alaskan  Silver, and Eddington, we’ve had all kinds of stories.  Now, we want to ask you what type of story you want to see next from PruittWrites?

Leave a comment with the hashtags #PruittWrites and #SerialSaturday with the type of story you want to see next. You can either leave it here, or on one of our social media pages, but we want you to decide what PruittWrites next!

Eddington Spilled The Beans

Otecko stood up, and with all the air of a showman pulled back the curtain that separated the two hospital beds. “May I introduce you Michael’s Bride To Be, and the other lady, you do not know.”

I barely heard their names, I was so confused at the time. Otecko paused, I think just to annoy me, then unraveled his story. “I told you that many have protected the artifacts from men like the Professor, and what we thought was true about Ambassador Rastilav, although he was a hero in disguise.”

“Many times, heroes work in the shadows, not because they have any darkness in them, but to illuminate the black around them, and reveal the truth. Early on, two things occurred to me. One was that if Rastilav was a candle in the middle of blackness, perhaps there was another.”

“Sam stated that there was not, and to his knowledge that was true. However, there was another. Would you be kind enough to join us?”

I promise you, my blood ran cold when I saw the face! “I believe you call her Grandma Assassin Tomás.” She smiled at me.

“I’m sorry for shooting you young man, but it was better than the group wanted to do. They wanted far worse, I rationed a bullet was better than what they would have done. You see, I convinced Rastilav, to let me be the attacker, to manage the danger.”

My head was spinning, and this time it wasn’t from the coffee. “You two were working together? I don’t understand.” She nodded for Otecko to continue.

“Rastilav was the only agent of the government, as Sam had stated. Grandma as you affectionately call her, was the young lady who stood across from me all those years ago as an alternate protector. Two are always assigned, one to guard, and the other to fight, if and when necessary.”

“She, it turns out, has fought many battles to keep the treasure, and our family safe over the years. Though at the time, I was unaware, as I was supposed to be. When you first showed me her face, I recognized her. I knew, I would receive a communication, now that we were in the same orbit, you might say.”

“When she did, we decided to allow events to play out, until we saw an opportunity. However, my precious Grandson, you almost ruined everything. At every turn when we were getting close to tightening the noose, you would accidentally create the slack the Professor would need.”

“At those points, we would postpone our attack. Finally, I realized that you were not an interruption to our plans, but a vital part of it. You see, all the while, my goal was to keep you children safe. I realized the only way for this to happen, was to allow you to play the hero.”

“When you went rogue and boarded the flight here, I contacted Sam and ‘Grandma’, and we hatched a plan. At the right point, you would be pointed towards the Professor’s doorstep, and while heavily guarded, you would be allowed to knock.”

Sam laughed, and so did Michael. “I’m sorry cousin. I just found all this out after lights went out for you, but Otecko’s pretty swift for an octogenarian. Sam and ‘Grandma’ aren’t too shabby either.” As he hugged his bride.

“Sadly, it was the Ambassador’s noble sacrifice that confirmed the second of my two thoughts. Much like Michael, and his young bride Nada, in every life, there is always a love story. For a good person, or a bad one, the heart looks for company. I knew that even the Professor must have someone in his life, or had someone in his life.”

“She showed up at the Ambassador’s funeral, the only person not seemingly connected to a group. She did not know him. Sam could tell by the look on her face when she viewed his picture from the pictures at the funeral home. This is Ruzena Kľúčiar.”

She was a tall willowy woman, no longer young like Michael’s fiancé, but there was beauty there. I wondered what she had been through, and without asking the question, Otecko proceeded to answer.

“For the last seventeen years, she has ran for her life. Afraid that the man she once loved, would kill her. He made promises that he would never harm her, and yet, allowed her to stand guilty for his crimes. Had it not been for her Father’s orchestration, she would have never escaped.”

“On the day of sentencing, he arranged for the jailer to disappear just long enough for her to walk outside. From there, a car took her to the airport. Though she never met the Ambassador, it was his work that secured her Father’s bribe went to an honest jailer.”

“A dishonest man would take the money, and not allow her to escape. An honest one would report the bribe and refuse it. The Ambassador persuaded the government to convince the man to go along with the scheme. Even then, there were men who knew the Professor was dangerous, but they could not prove anything.”

“So like a cat and a mouse, they played a long game. One that, much like ours, seemed to lead nowhere. Then, the woman who had been saved by the orchestrations of the Ambassador, now would repay the favor.”

“Why couldn’t she just testify about what happened seventeen years ago?” I asked, thinking this whole thing sounded a lot simpler than Otecko was making it seem. He smiled without making me feel naive, and kept talking.

“Her testimony would do no good, it was her word against his, now, as then, there was no proof. What we needed was someone to knock at the front door, while someone else unlocked the back. You Tomáš were our knock, and Ms Kľúčiar, who is appropriately named, was our key.”

“After the Ambassador’s death, we contacted her through Sam. She agreed to begin a series of threats to the Professor. Each time, more and more intense. At first by mail, then email, and then by phone. With every conversation, he was careful not to incriminate himself.”

“The day we allowed you to pull your little stunt, and had prepared the way to safely extract you, she was there. Ruzena confronted the Professor from the crowd, and threatened him. From her purse, she produced an old love note that the wicked man had once written, and with that he realized he had a problem.”

“She told him the note had been written at the very hotel he had claimed never to have stepped foot in. The scene of a robbery of artifacts where her prints had been found. She had always said the prints were planted, but she had no proof. Now she had a seventeen year old note that could result in a retrial.”

“He grabbed her arm, the wolf forgetting his smile, and threatened her. He ripped the note in to pieces, and told her that she would never prove a word of her accusation. On top of destroying evidence, he said one sentence that led to his unraveling.”

“The Professor said something very unscholarly. ‘I should have eliminated you a long time before the Milan job.’ He realized too late that the words slipped his mouth, as the smile came from hers. His eyes darted to see if anyone had heard the whispered phrase.”

“As he exited the building, he thought his momentary slip was safe. He relayed to his driver, in the privacy of his vehicle, of what he had not only said, but had almost said. As he chided himself for almost admitting to a myriad of crimes, that he detailed, I listened happily as he, you’ll forgive an obvious joke from an old man, spilled the beans.”

“When we arrived at his home, I turned from the driver’s seat, and took off my hat. Sam opened his door for him, as Interpol arrested him. By now, the entire conversation he had with his driver, has been replayed to him. He will miss his class on Monday. Now, who wants coffee?”

 

Eddington The Coffee Grinder

“What did he hit me with? How much blood did I lose?” I asked when I came too. Sam frowned and looked at me, then Otecko, “A Bag Of Coffee. You were right. I thought he’d put it together faster.”

Otecko laughed. “Growing up, He always mountain, and not the mole hill.” I looked down, but couldn’t see any bandages. Michael laughed too. “You weren’t shot cousin. You were outsmarted.”

“How did the Professor poison me? I took Sam’s suggestion and ate stuff I bought.” They all laughed. Otecko explained. “The professor didn’t poison you, we drugged you. Who do you think sent you to that market? Who do you think the person who ground your coffee works for?”

Why? We had a plan?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Sam explained. “No, you had a death wish, Otecko had a plan. He knew he couldn’t stop you from trying, unless you thought I was helping you. Drugging you kept you from getting killed the instant you walked passed the museum security, who are the Professor’s guys.”

“So you let me go to all this trouble for nothing? How did you know when the drugs would work? Now the Professor is still out there, and threatening our family. It never ends.”

Otecko sat on the edge of my bed. “Wrong, it’s over. The Professor is under arrest, and the treasure is safe, while a fake sits on display now, do not ask. All is resolved.”

I leaned up, with my head spinning in confusion? “How?” Otecko held up a finger. “You are still woozy, Rest. I’ll explain in the morning.” I protested that I couldn’t sleep not knowing, that I’d be up all night. They told me the next morning I was out in five minutes.

Next week, the conclusion of Eddington.

Eddington A Bad Brew

I had come up with a plan, it was crazy, and almost certainly suicidal. Two things I am not, and then I brewed up a variation of my idea. It was still risky, but I told myself I’d live. Of course I took precautions, I even called Sam, Otecko, and my Wife to say goodbye.

Three days later, the Professor was in a museum. The curator had ask him to be a guest lecturer to a group of business men who had important connections. I slipped in behind them, after changing out of the delivery disguise I used to get past the metal detectors.

At just the right moment of the Professor’s lecture my plan was to trick him into confessing in front of this group, out of fear. It was a good plan, the men were plants by Sam. I was wired, and the gun was fake so I wouldn’t accidentally shoot myself or anyone else.

I was gearing up my nerve when a shot rang out. Suddenly I hit the floor. We got in a vehicle I didn’t recognize and headed to the hospital. I hoped I would live, the doctors weren’t as convinced. I’m going in and out, so I hope I can get back to you.

Eddington Don’t Drink The Coffee

When Sam called me I didn’t ask how. “Did I do any permanent damage?” “No, I realized in time, though I wish you had given me a little more warning. I’m not as quick as I was. How’s the plan going?”

“Well, I’ve bought three guns, made a lot of noise, and there’s a guy following me. I drove near the university this morning and haven’t been alone since. So I’m scared out of my wits.”

“You haven’t been alone since you left Eddington. I got a call from Otecko when the police picked up the Professor’s assassin. He told me his grandson would pull something crazy after another run in.”

I was relieved more than I wanted to show, so I ignored the comment. After hitting him, he deserved to aggravate me a little, so I acted a little aggravated. Then I asked him if he could smuggle me a bulletproof vest. I didn’t care for his answer, and I wasn’t sure if he was still getting even or was serious.

“There’s no need. Somebody like the Professor won’t shoot you. He’d simply blow up the hotel. That’s why I booked a room across the street.” Then he laughed.

“I’m kidding, he can’t afford the bad publicity. He’d do something much less dramatic, like poisoning your room service. So don’t drink the coffee.”

This time he didn’t laugh, and I didn’t either. Like any good coffee shop owner, I had brought my own. Though I did run out to the local store, I needed to pick up whatever the local equivalent was to peanut butter and jelly.

Eddington Can”t Taste The Coffee For The Flavor

I was on a plane within two hours of them picking her up. I had grabbed a late flight, telling only my wife where I was going. I didn’t answer the in flight call that came through for me. It was not time to talk to Otecko.

I wasn’t terribly surprised to see Sam when I got off the plane. He was irritated. “You know it’s been years since I’ve had to ride a military transport to get somewhere. Thanks to you, I can’t say that anymore. What are you doing here?”

“I’m going to stop the Professor. He threatened my family. I won’t allow that. I don’t have time for your long term plan. I’m going to stop him, and no I’m not crazy. I don’t have a death wish, and I’m not a murderer. He will face justice, and it will be in court.”

Sam looked at me and sighed. “So you’re not suicidal, or insane, only naive. How can you stop him now, when all of us couldn’t together, even the US government?”

I stopped, and looked at him. “Concentration.” He didn’t get it, truthfully I wasn’t convinced either, but I continued. “The reason people like espresso is because it’s concentrated. It’s intense. Here’s the big thing, most people don’t know if they like the taste or not. It’s hidden by the flavors they like.”

He looked at me like I was crazy. I only had a small carry on, so we were already headed to grab a taxi. He fell in step beside me, and I kept talking. “They like the effect of the espresso, but they don’t know whether they like it or not, it’s camouflaged. I don’t have to be crazy, just make him think I am. That’s why I’m sorry Sam.”

He started to ask why, which distracted him enough not to notice my carry on hitting him. I prayed he wouldn’t get up, and he didn’t. I don’t know if I knocked him out, or he realized what I was doing.

I hoped it was the second, because I really would like backup, without having to ask. I was setting myself up as bait. I wanted the Professor to think I had snapped. That I was crazy enough to come at him head on, maybe with a gun.

Of course, that meant he would have his guys with bigger guns to try and stop me. I was trying to create an advantage. I wanted him to think I was a desperate mad man, instead of a sane man who was tired of playing games.

I had a plan, and it was crazy, but I wasn’t. I also wasn’t going to try going through his front door, or any door for that matter. Instead I was going to climb through the window of opportunity I hoped his anxiety would create for me.

Once I was in that opening, then I would shut him down. If I was quick enough. If not, then I would … I didn’t finish the thought, I had to get moving, but I did stop for coffee.

Eddington Don’t Make A Caffeinated Man Angry

It was good to be back inside the coffee shop. Even if the new building wasn’t the old one, it represented a never quit attitude. We Stefaniak run towards a battle, not from it.

I sipped a latte as I read a text from Michael. “Gardener won’t crack. I think the Professor has promised him more. Sam’s putting his other plan into action.”

The rest of the day was uneventful. I relished in the boredom, which is highly underrated. It was also a false sense of security. The fun started when I closed.

I offered to help a little lady help to cross the street, and a pistol peeked out at me from her handbag. “Remember me?” It was Grandma Assassin. She motioned, and I unlocked the store.

“Can you not burn down this one?” I said, my anger ebbing out my fear. “I just had it built. If you’re going to shoot me again, get it over with. I’m a little tired of seeing your face.”

“Well, you are more vocal than before. Usually people I shoot are more respectful afterwards. Sadly I’ve been instructed not to kill you. Only to bring you a message from my superior.”

“He’s tired of your family’s interference. Either stop it, or lose them. It’s that simple.”

I snapped, and I didn’t care if she did shoot. “You tell the Professor that no one, not you, not the entire army of a small nation, would get by with threatening them.”

“In our family, there’s a spy, a marine, and a wily old man. Out of them all, as dangerous as Otecko can be, I’m the one he needs to worry about.” I grabbed the gun out of her hand, resisted the urge to hit a woman, and ordered her to set down.

I called 911, told them to come get her, and didn’t say another word until the cruiser pulled up. I locked the door, went home, and hugged my family. No one was going to hurt them, but now the Professor had went to far. You don’t make a man who drinks as much caffeine as I do angry!