We’re in Japan at midnight in a storm
And all the cherry blossom in the land
Is shaken off the trees: it’s thus with riches –
In peace and light you’ll turn an honest penny
Then in the darkness villains rip you off.
Look down this street and you’ll see what I mean.
In number thirty-nine a candle glows
And flickers down the stairs; and then one more
And yet again another little flame
Betakes itself of comfort in the night
From siblings gathered round the cocoa-pot
Who tell themselves that fear is just a dream.
“We’ll tell a story, each of us. You start,”
Says Mae to Dan who trembles, and she takes
A tablecloth and wraps it round his arms
To cloak him from the thunder and the dark.
“ For we are here to celebrate ten years
Without our wicked uncle who died here.
“He told us each a secret, not to tell
Until a decade passed, and then to share
Amongst all three, so we shall find his gold.
Why we must wait so long he did not say,
But riches will make up for all the hurt
And suffering inflicted by his hand
.“You are the eldest, Dan: you must begin.”
“ I shall,” said Dan. “It was another night:
Not such as this, but warm. And while he lay
And cursed and shamed himself for all he’d done
Our uncle said to me, ‘Now listen, lad –
I’ll tell you once, for I shall not live long.
‘If anyone should ask you in ten years
If it is true that I was good and kind,
“ IT IS,” you’ll say: but promise me you will -
Then treasure shall be yours for all your life.’
So when he died I shed one little tear
And hid his whip, meaning to tell his lie.”
“Now, Joe,” says Mae, “It is your turn to talk.
You are the next in age, so speak to us.”
“ I’m tired,” he mumbled. “I shall just be brief.
Our uncle was a scoundrel and a thief.
He took his gold and hid it from us three
‘ IN AT,’ he said, as if that helped at all!”
“Why, yes it does!” cries Mae. “Just listen now.
My story ends the poverty we’ve borne.
For Uncle whispered on his dying day:
The ‘TIC’ would help me know what time to tell
Where treasure lies. Put it together now –
IT IS IN ATTIC makes a treasure map.”
“Then now we have lost hope,” sighed brother Dan
“ We cleared the whole place out and even tore
The floorboards out, and ceilings. Did you think
We left the attic undisturbed that long?
And so these three, in blankets, storm and sulk:
Their uncle left them nothing after all.
But now the dawning comes and through the door
A smirking rich girl struts. “I’m Attica.”
“ You did not know that I’m the secret child
Of Uncle who lived here. On his deathbed
He told me where it was. ‘It’s in A’S HOUSE.’
I found it up the chimney. It’s my gold.
”Much more is said that day, and later on
When darkness comes again, a carpet-roll
Is carried to the wood and buried deep.
In number thirty-nine, electric lamps
And chandeliers - not candles - blaze away:
And two men and one woman count their gold.
Copyright 2003 © LS
Read my new ((POISON SERIAL))
Story | Back to Top