Clink! Clink! Clink! Clink! *shuffle* *shuffle* Clink! Clink! Clink! *locks unlocking* Thud!
The sounds from Father’s office were always the same each day without fail at least within the faint wisps of what remains of my childhood memory. The clepsydra of the Grand Duchy could have been set by his timing, he was a meticulous man. He rose at Lauds and the subtle squeak of his Capuan cabinet was always the first sound that announced his awakening – the clinking of crystal glass and the heavy placement of the snifter on the fine oaken desk. The next was the unlocking of the seven heavy locks that held his desk captive under lock and key – keys he kept on his person at all times – when he slept, in the baths, and at Mass. Their heavy iron thud against his belt often announced his arrival far before he was seen. His broad-chested girth giving them a swinging weight like a mace as they clattered about near his beltpouch.
There within this protected tome sat a great book of recorded loans and investments – the living testament of the steadfast usurer Gordon dul Cybinese. Bound in mahogany calfskin it was a monstrous book in both size and weight. Father taking it from its nearly sacred place of protection and placed on the desk was a thing of weight and consequence the heavy resounding thud echoing around the fine wooden chamber like the body of a man hitting the floor. A streaming book of black and red ink – the worth of men’s lives measured in promises broken or kept to borrow and repay vast amounts of gold. The hand-writing in it was flawless, meticulous even to the point of obsession. Surely any anthenaeum or scriptora in any of the Duchies would have scrambled for a man with Father’s penmanship if he’d set it to a different task.
With the great book set to task more sounds followed – the shuffling of papers, the clinking of coins measured and weighted and tested, and his colourful way of arguing with himself when he took the day’s accounting when the mail was delivered. The young hapless courier who delivered his missives learning to scurry away before a misguided onslaught could begin. The customers approaching the side of the house so that business and family never mixed. Mother avoided his office entirely, I’m uncertain she ever once stepped foot in there, not any time in the sixteen years I lived at home, at least not any time I can now remember. And in the waning months before my departure fewer and fewer came to borrow loans from him after the scandal – so his hawk-like gaze stayed meticulously focused on those who had already owned him money.
I can imagine the day he died – the morning there was no sound from his office at Lauds, nor at Prime, nor at Terce, The dreaded day that the last glass of Capuan was indeed the last glass of Capuan. I didn’t go to the funeral, they’d have expected me to give the benediction, and it either would have been honest and broken Mother’s heart, or a lie and broken the Lord’s. I understand him now, I didn’t in my youth, but I understand now the obsession – the knowledge of cost and promise of currencies of a kind being traded for one thing or another. The chilling nature of seeing everything in simply red or black – cost or reward.
In the dark reaches of the night when I am alone and I cannot sleep, I wonder … whatever happened to that damned book.