August 16, 2014

The Shame of Thelma Theadore


“Are you sure you want to know?” he asked.

Her anguished look was reply enough.

“Okay,” he said with a weary sigh and, unlocking the bottom drawer, brought up the record book, the real one. As the heavy volume fell open with a dusty thump, she could see there were red scribbles along the margins and red additions over lines where blurs of graphite had left the residue of a dirty eraser doing its dirty work.

“Here it is,” he said. “Child born first August, 1905. Nothing about Russia, my dear. Not a word about hooded monks or bundles left on snowy doorsteps. What I have is the name of your mother, whom I’m afraid was a performer of sorts at — he squinted disapprovingly at the perfectly legible writing– at ‘The Varieties,’ which, I believe, was a burlesque theater near the harbor, frequented by sailors, one of whom was most certainly your father. So no, my dear, you are not Anastasia Nicholaevna of the House of Romanov. You can drop the royal ‘we’ now, ‘kay?


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