Phil Mader ≈ Sako Musterd

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New Denver Window

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    Sako Musterd was again arrested for indecency, but I’d already long re-assessed the boy I had once known and who in time became my husband.

        I’d been educated in convent schools where we were taught that our virginity was to be protected with the same gravity with which the Crown Jewels were safeguarded. We were taught the ten commandments and the parables that Jesus spoke. We were made to wear bland dark blue dress uniforms every single day of the year, and it was in one of those that I would meet Sako on a park bench on Wednesdays and Fridays, his 14 year old girlfriend with freckles, long braided black hair and a subdued hesitant little girl voice.

        He always appeared in a black suit, a starched white shirt and a narrow red tie. He would hold my hand warmly, kiss me chastely on the lips, look at me for timeless moments wearing dark sunglasses and a thin smile, establishing the inscrutable look that followed him for much of his life. From one day to the next, his name, Stephen Maclaren vanished into thin air and stepping into the  breech was the crazy name, Sako Musterd to label a profoundly mysterious boy educated privately by high-priced French and English tutors.

    Sako was the scion of a well-to-do department store owner whose own father was from a line of super rich Ottawans, descendants of the local timber barons. Even at the age of 16 Sako received a monthly stipend from investments made in his name. In those days, you could rent a lovely heritage apartment quite inexpensively along Sussex Drive, one of the city’s posh boulevards. So Sako rented a one bedroom and for a sustained phase of my life brought me there for sweet quiet times.

    I tried to guess what destiny held in store for us, but the truth had starker plans, much starker.

    It was in the year of our marriage that I joined Sako in Jakarta Indonesia where he’d been made the head of a family investment, a large funeral casket factory that employed one thousand.

    It was then that his word parted ways with his actions; that he inexplicably took on airs of a desperado, that he became a practiced liar. The more I thought I knew about him, the less, it turned out, I knew.

    Secretly, he’d been travelling by boat upriver to a famous gambling den, and slowly, bit by bit, dismantling the family business, by playing it all away. My questioning about blatant changes to the factory was met with a myriad of phony, manipulative fabrications. Eventually, I learned that Sako had been disowned by his family. When exquisite art and furnishings began to surreptitiously disappear from our home, accompanied by all kinds of repeated cover-up excuses and front stories, I finally,

    after renewed attempts, I left Sako for New York City praying our rupture would be for good , but that was not to be.

    A year later he showed up in the same city, and the man who ignored everybody else began to ignore himself. He forgot to work, to eat, to sleep. He had become a totally lonely man, fleeing madly at night through empty streets, and the only home he had were the stories he had to tell, not counting the unrestrained bilious rants.

    I should have left him in the gutter and forgotten him forever; instead I spent an ocean of time and energy trying to nurse him back to wellness, but as I glumly struggled with the task, my brain mournfully clanged out the truth “all of the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not put Humpty Dumpty back together again.”.

    

    One day, while a foghorn dirge echoed distantly, news came that he was dead, that he’d fallen out the 8th floor window of a flop house hotel and crushed his head onto the pavement. In his tight fist, pressed oh so tenaciously, like a murder’s hand around the victim’s throat, was a bit of squished paper, a winning lottery ticket, entitling him to an astonishing fortune.

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