IN THE KEY OF GEORGE

With exactly 67¢ in his pocket, George Adams made his trek for a morning cup of coffee. He would walk from his rent-controlled Greenwich Village apartment, buy his coffee and sip it while flipping though his beloved book, “The Complete Organ Method”. 

On this particular morning, he trudged through the slush in his beat-up boots, 67¢ jingling in his pocket. Placing the coins on the counter, he ordered his usual.

“Sorry” said the girl behind the counter. “The price is now 69¢.” 

Befuddled, he exclaimed “I’ve been a patron here for years. The price is always 67¢!” 

Apologizing, the girl explained that she didn’t set the prices. George scooped up his 67¢  muttering “oughta be some laws” and trudged back home. 

George was, to put it nicely, frugal. He grew up during The Depression and knew how difficult his parent’s life was. His father’s last words were Never trust banks!” Fortunately George was an excellent student, earning a scholarship to college and a grant to continue his studies, receiving a Doctorate in Music. 

His first job was assistant organist at Trinity Church. The following year the organist retired. George replaced him and began teaching organ lessons. He made a good salary yet continued his frugal lifestyle by eating canned soup, buying used clothing and drinking 67¢ coffee. 

George’s favorite student was Brad Ridgeway; he reminded George of a young version of himself. Brad worked in the mailroom at Dun & Bradstreet; his salary was so meager the only place he could afford to live was at the YMCA. He was determined to become a great organist some day but music school was beyond his budget. Brad’s parents worked for Walmart back in Ohio and he wouldn’t dream of asking them for money. Times were tough but he just kept on trudging through one day at a time. His only real friend was George; Brad didn’t realize it at the time but George felt the same way about him.

One day at his lesson Brad noticed that George was coughing more than usual and not looking well at all. He asked George if everything was alright, if there was anything he could do. George just shrugged it off, mumbling something about the long-term effects of a case of childhood tuberculosis. At the end of the lesson George handed Brad a small sealed envelope and whispered “Son, if anything should happen to me, I want you to open this. Keep it safe and don’t tell anyone. It’s for your eyes only.” Brad slipped the mysterious enveloped into his pocket, knowing better than to ask any questions. If George wanted him to know more, he’d tell him.

Uncharacteristically, George missed Brad’s next lesson. Brad waited at the church for about fifteen minutes then went to George’s apartment to check on him. The landlord informed him that “the old guy” had passed away in his sleep three days earlier. Crushed, Brad slowly walked home. Suddenly he remembered the envelope. Reaching into his threadbare pocket, he opened it finding a note with a key taped to it and the inscription “For Brad: G.C.S. #520”.

Everyone living in Manhattan knows “G.C.S.” stands for Grand Central Station and the key was obviously for a locker. Brad raced there, found locker #520 and with trembling fingers unlocked it to discover at least fifty paper bags stuffed with $100 bills! Scrawled on each bag was “NEVER TRUST BANKS!”

Dumbstruck, Brad slowly closed the locker and with tears in his eyes, he looked heavenward whispering “Thank you, my dear George!”  

NAR © 2018

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