Welcome to the February 2021 edition of First Monday Free Fiction, which is also posted on the first day of the month this time around.
To recap, inspired by Kristine Kathryn Rusch who posts a free short story every week on her blog, I’ll post a free story on every first Monday of the month.
February is both the month of Carnival and of Valentine’s Day. Over the years, I have written three Valentine’s Day stories, Valentine’s Day on Iago Prime, Ballroom Blitz and this month’s free story, A Valentine for the Silencer.
As the title indicates, this story is part of my Silencer series of pulp style adventures. So travel back in time to New York City in the year 1938, where Richard Blakemore, hardworking pulp writer by day and the masked vigilante known only as the Silencer by night, is planning a romantic dinner with his fiancée Constance Allen. However, his alter ego still has work to do first.
So follow Richard Blakemore, as he deals with…
A Valentine for the Silencer
It was February 14, 1938, half past five in the afternoon. The winter sun was still up, if only barely, but the light sucking bulk of the Equitable Building already cast its long shadow down on Nassau Street.
Two blocks from the Equitable Building, Thomas Walden, twenty-five years of age, junior accountant at the Sinclair Oil Corporation, walked out of the gilded revolving door of the gothic extravaganza that was the Sinclair Oil Building on the corner of Liberty and Nassau. He had curly brown hair, open blue eyes and a sprinkle of freckles on his nose. He also had a spring in his step and a whistle on his lips and it seemed to him as if even the dome of the Singer Building a block up Liberty Street smiled down on him on this wonderful day. With a wide grin on his face, he rounded the corner and headed for the unremarkable brownstone building that sat right next to the soaring white terracotta tower where he worked.
On the ground floor of this unremarkable brownstone was a small, equally unremarkable shop. “Abraham Bernstein & Sons — Diamonds and Fine Jewellery,” a sign above the door announced in discreet gilded lettering.
A chime jingled, as Thomas Walden pushed open the door and stepped into the shop. Behind the counter, an elderly man with curled silver sidelocks and a matching beard laid down a magnifying glass as well as the ring he’d been examining and looked up.
“Ah, Mr. Walden,” Abraham Bernstein exclaimed. If he noticed the class ring of gilded pot metal on the young man’s hand and the modest gilded watch on his wrist, he gave no indication of it. “It’s a pleasure, as always. And right on time, too.”
“Do you have it?” Thomas Walden asked, completely forgetting his manners, “Is it finished?”
In response, Abraham Bernstein gave the young man a benign smile. “Of course, it is finished. I promised you that it would be, did I not?”
“And…?” Thomas Walden asked, near bursting with suspense.
Abraham Bernstein’s smile widened. “It is magnificent, if I may say so. A ring to win the heart of even the most icy of maidens. But see for yourself.”
With great ceremony, Bernstein unlocked the counter, picked up a ring from the display and held it under a desk lamp for Thomas to examine.
“A 0.75 carat emerald cut diamond flanked by smaller baguette cut diamonds and sapphires, all set in platinum…”
The technical terms meant little to Thomas, but he squinted at the ring, dazzled by the shimmer of the diamonds and sapphires.
“It… it’s beautiful,” he stammered.
“A true beauty for a beautiful lady,” Bernstein agreed, “The sapphires will match her eyes.”
“Her eyes?” Thomas exclaimed, utterly confused
“Your bride,” Bernstein clarified, “You told me she had blue eyes and blonde hair. The ring will match her eyes and hair and complexion.”
Thomas wasn’t entirely sure why engagement rings had to match a lady’s complexion. His own mother wore a plain gold band that certainly did not match her ruddy cheeks. But things were different now and Daisy was the daughter of a Wall Street banker, accustomed only to the very best. And this ring was the very best, or at least the very best Thomas could afford on a junior accountant’s salary.
“She will love it,” Abraham Bernstein assured him, “Young ladies always do.”
“Yes, I… I think she will.”
This story was available for free on this blog for one month only, but you can still read it in A Valentine for the Silencer. And if you click on the First Monday Free Fiction tag, you can read this month’s free story.