Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
Story Idea I’m Unsure What To Do With #97480.
Inside the storage room that the attorney had told him of, the plumber’s grandson finds various odds and ends — a photo album, an old tennis trophy, a framed diploma from a dubious medical college. He also finds a large cedar chest, and an almost comically oversized golden key affixed to the back with duct tape. The plumber’s grandson unlocks and opens the chest.
Inside, he finds what appears to be an empty turtle shell, although one that seems beyond his understanding of what turtle shells should look like. The shell is gigantic, bright blue, and covered with spines. It seems to both glow and hum, but surely, the plumber’s grandson thinks, that is a trick of the fluorescent lighting and the odd acoustics of the room. Along the lower edge of the shell, in a whimsical typeface, he reads the words:
“THROW TO DESTROY LEADER.”
He quickly snaps shut the cedar chest and locks it, but the shell and its inscription have now echoed their way into the indelible parts of his brain. Against his better judgment, he picks up the chest, hoists it into the trunk of his minivan, and transports it home. As he travels the road, he hears the shell bumping the insides of its container, occasionally in ways that seem incongruous with the natural inertia of cargo, as if the shell was aware it was traveling and wished desperately to escape. He turns up the volume on NPR to muffle his own anxiety.
At home, the plumber’s grandson meditates on the four-word instruction of the shell. What is meant by leader, he ponders, and what is meant by destroy? Indeed, what is even meant by throw in this instance? If he took the shell out of its chest and went out to his backyard right now, then tossed it from his patio like a horseshoe, how would it behave? If he was alone with the shell, was he the leader? What criteria did the shell follow as it assessed leadership? Could the shell be a tool to rise higher in a business hierarchy or was it a tool of assassination? Why did his grandfather — who by all accounts had been simply a gregarious old-country Italian with a penchant for fantastical storytelling — even own such a peculiar item in the first place?
The plumber’s grandson pours himself a few fingers of whiskey and considers the burden of uncertain power.
“It’s-a mystery,” he mutters.