January 12, 2017 by Alfonso Acosta
124 – Heartburn
You couldn’t make this up, really. Here I was, trying to live a quiet life minding my own business and the universe suddenly decides it wants to hear a good joke and I’m the punchline.
It started innocently enough. A call from an old friend back home with news about my old aunt May. The lady had croaked and, having no other relatives, left everything she had to me.
Something felt a little weird. We’d never been particularly close, as a matter of fact I had actually been kind of an asshole to her when my parents sent me to live with her while they settled their nasty divorce. Still, I was happy, Who doesn’t like free money?
I took the early train back to the coast and went straight to the attorney’s office. For some reason the man seemed to be in quite a hurry to get things done. I was out of there in less than an hour, with a bank account number and the deeds to her house.
The bank manager was as anxious to be done with me as soon as possible, what the hell had my aunt told them? I was about to ask him when he gave me the account statements, I almost fell from the chair. I had suddenly become a very wealthy man.
The house was big, old, and totally deserted. House, by the way, was hardly the proper term here. Somehow during the fifteen plus years I’d been out of touch with her she’d managed to become rich enough to buy a fucking German castle, had it brought here piece by piece, rebuilt it, and still have enough left in the bank to do it all over again if she wanted to.
I was intrigued, but not very much. As long as it was mine now who cared where she had got the money? I was the king of this castle and had enough money to live like it for quite a long time. I was so elated I just wanted to see the view from the highest tower with a bottle of whiskey and a good cigar.
The view was not as great as I had expected, this was a small town surrounded by old factories and dust, the only real patch of green for many miles around was this castle’s garden. I wondered why, having all that money, my aunt would spend it to bring a castle into this shit-hole instead of simply moving out.
Anyway, the sun was going down and I really felt tired of this whole crazy day. My stomach had been acting up the whole day, and climbing all those stairs up here had given me a bad heartburn. Damn train food had probably given me indigestion. Time to go back down and settle for the night.
The pain came when I was about halfway down. This heartburn was really nasty. I wondered if I’d caught some weird bug, or maybe food poisoning. And then, as my arm began to go numb and it became hard to breathe, it hit me. This was no indigestion, I was having a fucking heart-stroke.
I tried to keep calm, maybe if I sat down on the stairs for a while I might be able to gain some strength. My phone was charging right at the bottom of the stairs. I just had to make it past those last steps and I’d be able to call for help. I sat down, feeling very tired. From somewhere very far away, part of me was yelling at me. Get up! Don’t fall asleep! Stay awake! But it was such a distant voice, and I was so tired.
The castle became a local tourist attraction, people from all over the country came to visit. It really put this little town on the map. Of course, all that money helped too. I mean, who wouldn’t want to visit a real European castle without having to fly all the way there? It also helps if there’s a tragic story linked to it, say, the ghost of the last owner still haunting the tower where they found him dead.
How thoughtful of aunt May to include that clause leaving it all to the town should anything happen to her only designated heir. She must have really loved this place, the damned witch.
At least the view from the tower is much prettier now. If only ghosts could enjoy whiskey and cigars.