Mr. Abramov’s Locket
Copyright 2017, Stephen Coghlan
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer.
Thank you for your support.
Chapter 1 – Introduction
Stephen M. Coghlan
There is a story I have to tell. It involves a trinket, and it may not mean much to you, but to one man, it spoke volumes, and to me, is a memento of love lost in hate that I shall never forget. I am not the one who holds the locket, but I do know the man who does. I know, because he has shown me it, with tears in his eyes, with a quivering voice. I have seen him bring it out late at night, when drinks have been had and revelry turns to somberness. I have seen him hold it tightly during ceremonies, or in prayers for peace.
It is a story that I think should be shared.
Chapter 2 – Mr. Abramov’s Locket
Mr. Abramov ran a small jewelry operation, situated in a plaza of name brand outlets and department stores. His shop was tiny, buried in a corner between an electronics depot and a sports’ clothing shop.
Yet, despite the cutthroat nature of commercialism, his shop weathered over three decades of financial swings and fiscal fraught.
At first glance, one wondered why his little shop had endured, but if you talked with Mr. Abramov, you discovered why. He was a kind, gentle and caring soul, despite have a scar on his face that gave him a permanent sneer, despite being so shy that he rarely looked at you unless you were talking about jewelry or mechanical devices.
His name came with minor celebrity status, as his charitable donations kept several local sports teams afloat, and helped give recreational halls a chance to keep their doors open.
The kindness and skill also meant that big stores that did not repair things, recommended his shop before ever honoring a warranty.
My mother, the head of a local department store’s jewelry counter, was just one example.
I have, myself, a lot to thank him for. It was Mr. Abramov that gave me my first job during the period of bell bottoms and shag carpets. It started as little more than me mopping his floor and cleaning the display cases. We didn’t talk, initially. I just came in and did my job while he did his, all accompanied by either the humming of the overhead ventilation, or to the same record that he played so quietly on an old and beaten gramophone, a dropped pin would have drowned it out.
His shop was small, only a few display cases, a work area in the back, and a small glass case filled with paraphernalia that I didn’t think anything about. I supposed the two little lightning bolts, the skull and crossbones, the tiny eagle, where experiments of his. There was too, a small, ornately carved locket, which looked out of place amidst all the other symbols that looked intimidating in comparison.
He showed me things. When business was slow, he disclosed how to repair a watch band, or tighten a spring, or polish silverware. He was so subtle that I didn’t realize he was training me. He just encouraged, quietly, guided me with small words of reassurance, until I had mastered the task he’d set before me.
In no time at all, I was well on my way to being a jewel smith to rival those who had been doing the same jobs for decades. I didn’t know why he was teaching me, until the day the neo-Nazis came into the store. A gang from of out of town tough barged in one evening, just before closing. I had recently braided a leather watchband, and was sharing a tea with Mr. Abramov as he worked on the guts of a cuckoo-clock.
The leader of the youths ran his hand over his shaved scalp. His smile was sick and bitter with permanent scorn and his jacket proudly and prominently displayed the angled lines of the swastika.
“Hey!” He yelled. “Old man, I see some fab Nazi junk behind the counter. Where did you get it all?”
Looking up from the gears that he had been busy replacing, Mr. Abramov smiled gently as he eyed the gang that had flooded his little store. Standing, he cracked his aged back as he took off his jeweler’s lens.
“Those things? Why, I pried them from the cold dead hands of each bastard I killed in the war.” He never looked them in the eyes, but I saw the skinheads pale. “Care for a demonstration?”
Suddenly gone was the sweet old man who offered candy to quiet the children of his clients, gone was the man who hummed the same lullaby as the almost silent record which he constantly played. Before them was Michael and Gabriel. Before them, was fire and brimstone.
Most of the youths cowered, but one brazen lad stepped forward and offered to fight.
Mr. Abramov began to roll up the sleeves of his dress shirt. He had never once even pulled the cuffs higher than his wrists, around me. Comfortable that they were secure, he said, in a voice fraught with absurd glee. “I’ve never punched a Nazi before. Shot them, yes. Stabbed them, sure. Even throttled them until they turned blue. This should be interesting.”
The large youth blanched and backed up.
Grabbing the display counter, Mr. Abramov flexed, and shattered glass to dust between his fingers.
The entire gang realized they were outmatched, and fled in a panic.
No sooner were they gone then Mr. Abramov found a dust pan and began cleaning the glass he had broken. I hurried to help him but he waved me away. As he worked, he sang a familiar song that even then, played in the background, but rather than hum it, he gave it lyrics in a language I did not understand.
DURME, DURME IJIKO DE MADRE
DURME, DURME SON ANSIA I DOLOR
It was loud, proud, cast in a tenor that trembled the walls, until Mr. Abramov began to cry. His shoulders shook and his voice broke. Unsure what to do, I approached him. Wordlessly, he drew me into his arms. Then he proceeded to cry great rasping sobs. When he recovered, he held me at arm’s length as he whispered, “Thank you.
“You are a man, like I wanted my son to be.”
It was the only time I saw the tattoo on his arm. The blue wrinkled ink of a serial number.
“May Helsa and Haniel forever rest in peace.” He prayed, and then returned to cleaning the mess he had made.
I don’t know if anyone else ever knew why he kept the small knick-knacks that he did, or the real story behind Mr. Abramov’s love that he so freely gave. I don’t think he ever told anyone else.
I moved on, went to college, grew up, and started a family of my own. Then, a few years ago, a package arrived at my door. It was a plain paper envelope, and I opened it days later because I was too busy taking my children to their baseball games and soccer practice.
What fell into my hands was a sheet of paper, still rough on the edges where the strips to help guide the paper through the printer had been torn away.
With suddenly thick fingers, I opened the smaller envelope, and out popped the locket that had rested beside the dark reminders of human history. I recognized the Star of David that had been lovingly etched onto the cover. When I opened it, a baby’s smiling, toothless mouth and a beautiful young woman stared back at me. Between them, a small piece of paper.
Chapter 3 – End stuff
Thank you for reading my short story. If you enjoyed it, would you please pass it along? Do so freely, please.
About the Author:
Stephen Coghlan writes from Ottawa, Canada.
Mr. Abramov is a kind and gentle old man. He supports as many charities as he can, smiles shyly at clients, and loves everyone with all the heart he has left, but when his strange collection of knick-knacks elicit a visit from new faces of an old threat, he is forced to encounter old hates one more time. Complete at under 1,300 words, Mr. Abramov's locket it a flash fiction that is meant to be shared.