Jason Lawrence Bell
Search single story

04-27-19 No Money For Nothing


The Chief Inspector relays his instructions to his team of detectives who have made little progress in the past two weeks. In fact, they are not certain what the crime actually is. They have a family desperately searching for the elderly mother who went out for a walk and never returned. ‘Until we can determine the motive for the crime, we have a weak case and few leads’, spoke the Inspector.

Sylvia is the grandmother in question. She is the matriarch of the large Johnston family that lives in the massive estate in Vermont. It is Sylvia who created the fortune that affords the Johnston upper class lifestyle that the family enjoys. Sylvia is a successful writer of a children book series, ‘The Valeria Adventures’. The series has captivated a generation of young adults who see her character, Valeria, as a role model that inspires them for adulthood. Sylvia’s huge following looks at her as an example to follow. She often receives boxes of letters from confused or stressed young adults asking for direction with their problems. Sylvia is generous with her time and answers every letter with long personal responses that endears her even more to her followers.

Sylvia’s books and her personal life display her deep belief in morals, kindness and truth. The lead character Valeria is a direct reflection of Sylvia and lives and exposes all of Sylvia’s beliefs and attributes. Sylvia has become a beacon of positive living to the nation and she is used as a compass for youth.

But there are also the critics who challenge her influence. She is called a ‘snowflake’, ‘a bleeding heart’ and ‘too kind for her own good’. The religious organizations criticize her preaching about morals without ever mentioning religion. Sylvia once stated that she is more a spiritualist who prefers having a direct personal relationship with her god. She feels that morals and good deeds are about her relationship with herself. How SHE wants to morally behave and what kind of life SHE wants surrounding her. She feels church is an unnecessary middle man between her and her god.

Sylvia has enemies and many people who resent her influence. But ‘is the resentment enough to have her kidnapped and possibly have harm done to her?’ questions the inspector. He has a list of people and organizations that are at odds with Sylvia but the list reads like a ‘who’s who’ of religious and conservative groups. This is not going to be easy.

The Chief Inspector begins studying the family. Sylvia’s husband, William, died two years earlier. William was Sylvia’s rock. Though he was a simple uneducated man and worked as a low paying tailor, she always said he was her best example of kindness and truthful morals. She saw in him what many didn’t see, including her family.

Sylvia and William have three children. They all stay living at home even after they marry and all have kids of their owns. The big house is enlarged with each family addition. The kids know who the real breadwinner is, Sylvia, and subtly hold the father in contempt for being the weaker less talented. They brag about their mother but seldom mentioned their father.

Now the family is getting very nervous and even desperate. Sylvia holds the purse strings and insists on signing every check and controlling the money. With Sylvia gone the money is running out and the bank will not release funds without Sylvia’s direction. And Sylvia’s Will can’t be found. The adult kids are freaking out.

Then comes the article. It is the announcement of a new Sylvia book and a full-page letter from Sylvia to her family and the public. Sylvia’s letter begins. ‘First may I apologize to the police and public for not explaining my disappearance earlier. This was an unprepared departure that I desperately needed to do. The day I left was the anniversary of my dear husband William’s death, and no one in his family except me would knowledge him. He was the greatest person I have ever met and to this day I marvel that I was fortunate enough to be selected to be his wife. But William’s children never saw his value. When we were first married, life was simple and wonderful. There wasn’t a lot of money but love was overflowing. Then my books became successful and money flowed in and changed everything. I was raised in a struggling family and money always seemed to be a solution. So, when money became available, I took the position of giving my children a world without money struggles. First a bigger house and better schools and many material advantages. My husband and I preferred to remained simple. William kept his tailor job and I wrote my books in my small office. But years later we realized that our children were leading a much different life then we were. They became addicted to fame and flashy cars and clothes and preferred socializing rather than creating careers and being productive. I must apologize to my children. I allowed this to happen to you. I gave you too many material benefits and though I thought leading by example would give you good direction it clearly didn’t. None of you have a work ethic or a desire to achieve. William and I repeatedly tried giving you better values but your resistance to our influence was too strong. I love you all deeply but I don’t respect you. You have joined the elite entitled class that I despise. Now comes the painful part. I am giving the house to all of you, but nothing else. No more money for nothing. You must stand on your own. I have moved to a new location that allows me to regain my simple life. I have established a charity so my money can do some good. I am now introducing my new book, ‘The Money Trap.’ Thank you, I love you, good luck. Sylvia.’ Peace***