Riches in the Waiting Room
I watched as he entered, old, decrepit, around seventy-five: a few years older than myself. He came into the clinic twice a month like I did. We were on first name terms, but we rarely spoke.
I sighed. “Afternoon, Seymour.” I didn’t really want to talk. I wasn’t looking forward to my scan and I needed to pluck up the courage to go in there.
“Fine day, isn’t it?” he smiled.
Well, he’s in a good mood, I thought bitterly. “A fine day indeed,” I answered, returning my gaze to the ugly white wall in front of me. Seymour sat next to me, old bones and muscles creaking like un-oiled hinges. I repressed a little sigh of annoyance.
“Reminds me,” he grunted, fishing in his dull green overcoat pocket. “I thought you might like to see this.”
“Um, Seymour,” I began as he groped in his never-ending pocket for whatever it was. “I’m a little bit nervous about this scan so could you just – Good Lord!” Out of his pocket, Seymour produced an enormous diamond ring, polished to perfection and glittering in the fluorescent light. “Good grief – where on earth did you get it?”
“I found it down by the river yesterday,” he replied proudly, turning the piece of jewellery around in his long pianist’s fingers. “I do metal detecting as a hobby.”
“Good Lord, what a rare find!” I was utterly astounded. Quiet, unassuming Seymour busy picking diamonds out of the muddy river bank on his weekends? Who’d have thought it?
Seymour shrugged and flippantly pushed the ring back in his coat pocket, “Not really.”
“Whatever do you mean?” I asked bemused, “I’ve never seen anything like it!”
“I find stuff like this from time to time.” Seymour’s eyes glittered with the story behind them.
“Like when?” I was like a little girl: what else could there be?
Seymour turned to face me, propping himself up on our shared armrest. “When I was serving in the war, I came across an old green tin box in Bordeaux.”
“What was inside it?” I asked enthusiastically.
“A lump of green clay!” he exclaimed triumphantly.
“Oh.” My shoulders slumped.
“Ah, but this was the most remarkable lump of green clay in the world.” Seymour’s face broke into a broad smile. “When I crumbled the green clay it was full of diamonds! Hundreds and hundreds of them!”
“You are teasing me!” I accused folding my arms. “I see it now.”
“I would never do such a thing!” he protested, shaking his head. “It’s the honest truth.”
I turned my eyes on him. Such honesty and earnestness were written out on his old lined face that I had to believe him. “Well then, what happened next?”
Seymour leant back in his chair and flicked his tartan scarf back into place. “Well, when I got back home I took half of them to a jeweller in London. The jeweller offered me, and this is just after the war remember,” he paused for effect and it worked, my wheezing breath caught in my chest, “one hundred and twenty-six thousand pounds!”
“Good Gravy!” I shrieked in excitement, “One hundred and twenty-six thousand pounds?”
“One hundred and twenty six thousand pounds.”
“For half of them?”
“For half of them.”
“Well, what did you do with the other half?”
Seymour glanced nonchalantly at his watch. “I get them out. Look at them from time to time.”
“Well, Seymour, I had no idea you had so much.” I checked myself, flushing, “so many adventures.”
“Ah. I’m too old for that sort of thing now, knees gone you know.” He chuckled, slapping his aforementioned knee.
Just then the nurse popped her head round the double doors, her pink uniform clashing horribly with frizzy red hair and freckles, “Seymour O’Malley?” she asked pleasantly.
“That’s me!” Seymour answered staggering to his feet. “Well, goodbye Jane, see you soon.”
I bit my lip as Seymour put on his hat and hobbled off. My pension fund was hardly big, and I really was in need of a new radiator. “Seymour!” I called and he turned around. “Would you like to come to dinner with me next Saturday?”