Larry’s Great-uncle Mortimer finally died. Larry had kind of thought he’d live forever. But he hadn’t. However, he had amassed a strange assortment of things in his later years and left them to his many, many relatives.
Larry’s mother received a cuckoo clock that played a lullaby every hour. “I’d forgotten that mother used to sing that to me,” she said, trying to mop up her tears with a crumpled paper napkin she’d fished out of the bottom of her purse. “How thoughtful!”
Larry received a locked box with a note. It said that he had to prove that he’d opened the box completely on his own in order to keep what was inside. His grandfather would hold onto the box in the meantime. “How am I supposed to do that?” He asked his mother. “It’s locked. Should I buy some sort of blowtorch?” He tried to pick up the box to shake it, but it was too heavy.
“Of course not. You’d damage what’s inside,” his mom said. “You know Larry, you’ve been at loose ends since you graduated.” She blew her nose with the paper napkin. “Maybe you could train to be a locksmith?”
“I have a job, mom.” Larry rolled his eyes. He really didn’t want to go back to school. Ever.
“I think you’d be able to adjust your work schedule around your classes,” his mom said.
“I don’t want to go back to school.” Larry scowled.
“It’s not really school. I doubt there will be many papers or multiple-choice tests. There must be something good inside the box. Uncle Mortimer had a knack of giving just the right gift.”
Mom smiled. “He’s the one who sent you Blue Bear.”
Jake looked up. “I loved Blue Bear! He’s the best. Blue Bear was from great-uncle Mortimer?”
“He sent me those weird fish earrings as a graduation present,” Mom said. “I wore them to a dance years later…”
“And Dad asked you about them and that’s how you met,” Larry said. It was a story he’d heard far too many times. And the earrings were from Great-uncle Mortimer? Who knew?
“Alright. I really want to know what’s in the box now. What do I have to do?” Larry said.
“We’ll figure it out,” his mom said.
Larry started his training and then later survived an apprenticeship, and he found that both were far more interesting than he’d expected. Sometimes he went weeks without even thinking about the box. And then sometimes he’d daydream about a box full of diamonds or keys to a sports car or a dozen stuffed blue bears.
It took two years, but Larry showed up at his grandfather’s house one evening and presented his locksmith license with a flourish. He then pulled out his kit and quickly unlocked the box. “Well done, Larry!” Grandfather said.
Inside was a deed to a storefront in a nearby town. A note said that he could rent it out or start his own business. “What will you do?” Grandfather asked.
“I think I’ll start a locksmith shop,” Larry said. “They don’t have one there and the town is growing. I actually like being a locksmith. It’s helping people and solving puzzles. I guess Great-Uncle Mortimer knew what he was doing. Again.”