“Mama, mama, it’s okay! I gots summtin mama! It’s okay! You don’t got to cry no more! I’s found gold Mama!” Ell heard the screen door slam behind him and knew that he would probably be in trouble for it. His mother hated it when the screen door slammed. But he also knew that he had found the answer to all their troubles.
“Mama, Mama I found gold! We is rich! We can move Mama! Mama!”
The little boy was in such a hurry to find his mother that he rushed into their trailer without looking where he was stepping. Within a few feet he became aware of the broken glass. He noticed the blood on his unshod feet before he felt the pain. All he could do was stand and stare. He stared at the overturned table, the broken glass, and his mama flat on her back, snoring.
Repeating something he had done many, many times in the past the little boy set about straightening the room and cleaning up the broken glass. He cleaned up the blood and he cleaned up his mama. Eventually she would awake and not remember anything. Sometime she didn’t even remember him.
The next morning the young boy stood excitedly in front of his mother. In a very soft voice he said, “It’s gold Mama, it’s gonna be alright.” He stretched his little arms as far as he could and opened his fingers to present his mother with this precious find.
The woman in question slouched over their very tiny kitchen table. She squinted at the newspaper front of her through the smoke from the cigarette . She had a pen in one hand and a chipped glass filled with a questionable liquid in the other. Her cigarette was firmly clenched between her teeth. When young boy spoke she closed one eye and looked up.
For a long moment the woman stared at the item her son held out for her perusal. When she finally spoke the fatigue in her voice told her story of hardship and sacrifice.
“Elliott that’s fool’s gold, it has no value, it ain’t real. It’s just a pretty stone. Why don’t you go outside and play. I need to find a new job.”
The little boy everyone called Ell put his prized possession in his pocket and backed out of the trailer he shared with his mother. But’s gold mama, it’s gold. He thought to himself. Everything is going to be all right now, you’ll see.
“Mr. Bellamy sir it is a great pleasure to see you, will you be dining at your usual table?”
“Yes Andrews I will thank you.”
Very posh restaurants understand the hierarchy involved in their clientele. There are those patrons who come in once or perhaps twice and are seated according to availability. There are those patrons who while regulars, only dine there occasionally. And then there are those clients who are favoured. They frequent the establishment and have developed a rapport with the staff. As these patrons are usually wealthy, the wait staff is attentive and accommodating. After all favoured patrons are worth their weight in gold. They may spend money but they also advertise a place that they like.
When Mr. Bellamy had been seated in his usual table and had been given his usual pre-dinner glass of wine it seemed as if the evening was going to progress in its usual manner. He would dine alone as was his habit on Thursday nights. He would have one glass before dinner of Cabernet Sauvignon and one with his meal. Dinner would consist of steak medium rare, golden brown fried mushrooms, asparagus lightly sautéed, baked potato with all the trimmings and a small dish of vanilla ice cream for dessert. It wasn’t a terribly high class meal but Mr. Bellamy tipped well.
When he had finished his repast, Mr. Bellamy carefully blotted his lips with his napkin. He signed for the meal, complemented the chef and the waiters and prepared to take his leave.
“Excuse me sir, Mr. Bellamy.”
A young man had materialized out of the restaurant and had his hand on the chair opposite Mr. Bellamy.
“I am just leaving young man, you are welcome to the table.”
“Actually sir, I need to take a few moments of your time. It is rather important.”
The gentleman in question motioned for the young man to take the seat opposite him and signalled to the waiter for another glass of wine.
“Would you join me young man? It is a delightful wine.”
As the stranger seated himself at the table he nodded his assent.
Once the wine had been poured and both gentlemen had savoured the flavour Mr. Bellamy spoke.
“I am assuming that you are here to tell me you have discovered my sordid past.”
The young man sat with a stunned look on his face, his glass of wine frozen between the table and his mouth.
“Sir I, I just thought…”
“You thought that you were the first to discover my background and that it would make juicy reading for a public that relishes bad news. You thought that I would be ashamed of my past. I’m guessing for a modest sum you would be willing to withhold that information. Am I right young man?”
“Sir, information like this can be quite damaging…”
“Really? To whom?”
“Well sir you have a reputation, a position. I hardly think this information…”
Mr. Bellamy smiled, he even chuckled a little at the perplexed young man sitting across from him.
“My poor disillusioned young man. You judge everything based on a standard that does not exist. I was not born into wealth, I did not win any money, I earned my wealth based on an ideal. Unlike you who is looking for a ‘get rich quick’ scheme and thought I was fair game.”
Now the young man was starting to squirm in his seat. This was not going according to plan at all. He realized that his ploy to extort money from this wealthy man had failed miserably. He wanted desperately to leave the table and hide but was afraid to even attempt it.
“Yes I had humble beginnings: I lived in a trailer park with my mother. We were poor but we had one thing that money cannot buy: we had love. I know it sounds trite but we supported each other even during the bad times.”
At this point Mr. Bellamy’s eyes seemed to glaze over as he took a little jaunt down memory lane. He remembered his mother and her drinking. He remembered how she always tried to stay positive around him. He also remembered the very first time he saw fool’s gold. It was that shiny substance that was beginning of his journey. And this poor young man thought he was ashamed of his past. His mother had overcome her demons and was now a successful designer. He had built a large corporation that was varied and worth millions. It just goes to show you what someone can do with a little hard work and sacrifice.
“By the way young man, did you catch the name of this restaurant? It’s called FOOL’S GOLD. Now do you understand?”