“I honestly don’t know what to do with you anymore! You just wait until your father hears about this!” The shrill voice followed Jack up the stairs. It amazed him to this day, that such a small skinny woman could produce such sounds. Slamming his bedroom door behind him, he lit a cigarette and laid down on his bed. As he listened for more yelling or any sound at all, he looked around the room. He felt very much at home in this room. The full ashtray on the desk, the yellowing wallpaper and the red velvet drapes that surrounded the enormous bed.
This room had not always been his. After his grandfather had moved out to live in the Spanish countryside he gave it to him. His parents had offered to get rid of all of his grandfather’s stuff but he had refused. He liked the way the room looked. Old, slightly dilapidated but very pompous. His grandfather had told him stories about how his father decorated the room when he was young. How he himself had moved in after his parents had perished in an accident. He had spent hours telling Jack about how much he hated this house, this room and above all: This name.
The young mans’ name is Jackson Madison Wintermourne, the third. He was named after his grandfather, who was named after his father. Jack always called his grandfather Senior. Senior had fought with Jack’s parents when they brought their son home from the hospital, after he was born. He detested the name they had given the baby and vowed never to call him by it.
Whatever else anyone might say, that is their true family legacy: fighting each other. From that day forth Senior had referred to Jack as Junior. When Jack’s puberty kicked in he had asked his grandfather not to call him ‘Junior’ anymore, as he wanted to be taken seriously as an adult. Senior had just laughed and told him that he could make up any other name for himself, and that he would call him by it. They tried a lot of names before Jack felt it to be so unnatural for his grandfather not to call him Junior; they just went back to using it. Jack did however ask him why he insisted not to use his real name. He told Jack it was because of freedom. Jack had never understood what he meant by that; he did like the sound of the word: “Freedom.” It sounds like the rustle of a great white sail in the wind, a sail that sets on an enormous war ship. One of those European galleons with cannons and an admiral. One of those ships were pirate stories always took place.
This was one of the things Senior passed on to his grandson: Imagination. No matter what age Jack had been, or what the circumstance, every Friday night Senior would tell him a story. Once, his birthday fell on a Friday, he had left the party early to hear a story. When they buried Jack’s grandmother it was a Friday, after the ceremony Senior told him a story. It did not matter what the occasion was, Jack would wait up all night if he had to. Just to hear another tale.
One night Senior would read the adventures of Peter Pan, another he would make up a story about pirates or cowboys or ladies at the court of Louis XIV. The next Friday he painted the picture of Dorian Grey. No matter what story he told the setting was the same. In the very room Jack now sat, he would lie on the rug next to the fire as Senior sat in the grand, high-backed leather chair next to the desk. Smoking, reading and talking. And all the while, filling Jack’s head with the most wonderful stories.