THE CURSE OF FRANK SINATRA – a short story by P Moss

Beth smashed a lamp against the living room wall, cursing the jagged pieces of porcelain as if they had betrayed her.

Stewart sat on the sofa threading an eight-millimeter projector with a newly discovered home movie, amused by the crackhead logic of his little sister thinking she would discover bundles of $100 bills hidden inside a lamp.

Beth trashed closets and ripped up carpet, positive that there was treasure hidden somewhere in their dead father’s house.  Convinced by the memory of that certain Christmas when they were kids, when their mother had secretly traded in the old man’s Buick for a new one. Then like in the car ads on television, Christmas morning saw a shiny new sedan parked in the driveway wrapped in ribbon and bow. But unlike television, the old man created an ugly scene as he bullied the car dealer away from his family and managed to un-do the deal. By noon the old Buick was back in the garage where the old man unscrewed the interior panel of the driverside door, then blew out a tremendous sigh of relief.  The $197,000 in cash was still there.

For decades the old man earned a middle-class living blowing his trumpet in showroom orchestras on the Las Vegas Strip. Raised his family in a modest beige stucco house just like every other beige stucco house on the block. So where did a working stiff get $197,000 in cash? That was the question their mother had asked. Good luck at the dice tables was his answer.  Didn’t want to raise a red flag with the IRS by putting it in the bank.  After she died, the old man joined the country club and traveled annually to New Orleans and Newport for the jazz festivals. High living for a retired trumpet player, making his straight laced thirty-year-old son certain the money had been long ago spent. But Beth was not so easily convinced. Her long blonde hair and killer body had made it easy to tease up whatever drugs she wanted from the LA club kids who flocked in legion to Las Vegas every weekend.  But too much was never enough and it wasn’t long before she spiraled out of control, twice facing hard time for grand larceny.  Avoiding prison required a pricy lawyer and both times the old man paid. Beth vowed to find his money if she had to vandalize the house to its foundation.

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