Brocaded furniture and hardwood gave the study a solid, earthy feel. An old briarwood pipe sat smoldering on a side table with a crystal tumbler in close proximity. My heart nearly leapt from my chest when a man’s hand reached from behind the wingback chair and retrieved the glass.
“Twenty-eight years since I bade the world adieu and no one discovered my hidey-hole…until you. Don’t presume too much that I’ve chosen to see you.”
I stammered some drivel about not wanting to intrude on him, but we both knew better. He’d been the most-beloved children’s author of two generations until he abruptly retired and subsequently vanished. I’d been the lucky soul who’d found El Dorado.
He rumbled, “I’ll submit to no laundry list of queries and prodding. I’ll answer one question and one question only. Since I know what question you’d ask, let’s save time.”
“Tell them I got bored with it. Tell them the grubby children and their insipid laughter sickened me. Tell them I wanted peace and quiet…a good pipe and a scotch. Yes, that will do, I think.”
Stunned, I could only whisper, “Is that really the story you wish?”
He favored me with a haunted gaze. “Should they know the truth instead, you think? Should they know the magic died within me? That I had no more tales to tell? My version works best I think. You decide. It matters little to me.”
I walked away that day, leaving the secrets of El Dorado still untold.