Posted on 2010-04-24
In the town of Mansfield, Illinois, there lived a family by the name of Bertram. It was a small town made up primarily of farmers with whom the family had nothing to do, and cows with whom they had still less, especially after Mrs. Bertram embraced vegetarianism and yoga. Mr. Bertram was forced to eat all of his steaks downtown, or save his hamburgers for the helicopter ride home. She had chosen Mansfield for it's feng shui, not the commute; Fortunately, Mr. Bertram had a penthouse in Chicago for days when the wind made the helicopter inadvisable.
They were not an unhappy family, troubled with good looks, excessive money and more luxury than the norm, as they were; It had not spoiled them, if a predilection for being rather thoughtless and self-occupied could be said to be unspoiled. Fortune they had, and it's lucky sister, Fame, followed ever close to the heels. The father, Thomas, was a ridiculously inventive man who had turned his Ivy-League, country clubbed background into a multi-level national corporation with headquarters in Singapore and Chicago.
Cynthia was his third wife, and had been a rising starlet, featured in a much talked about, now mercifully forgotten, television show. Her stock and trade were her ridiculously long legs, immortalized in a poster, circa 1977. In it, her cut-off wearing bottom was emblazoned with the crest of the then little known denim designer. This caused her step-sons no little grief when, coincidental to their time in their Ivy-League university, the photo was hauled out to be used by a now over advertised and overpriced corporation to relaunch the line. Their mother's butt appeared on billboards and buses all over America, and was very popular among their friends. (When all you can do is think about the women you would like to hook-up with, it's a bit awkward to know that your friends would like to hook up with your mother.)
Those awkward years passed, Tom Jr. was a bachelor with jet setting friends, an expensive downtown showplace, and expensive dangerous hobbies. He still managed to find time to handle the financial end of things for the company. He and Ed, a PHD in Organizational Psych also employed by the firm, were often listed in the 30 most eligible bachelors in Chicago. Ed oversaw organizational communications while his sister, Julia, the only married younger Bertram (NFL quarterback for the reigning Chicago team), worked PR. The eldest Bertram daughter, Moriah, was following in her mother's high heels with her father's business savvy, launching her second line of yoga clothes, "Zen Princess," following the great success of her "OM Angel" organic line, and she had a walk-on role in one of the hottest summer movies. She was in every way a match with her brother, Tom, and the two of them burnt through the young unmarried crowd, and some of the married, like any hormone induced fire would. She had seriously dated a rising musician, Crawford, who shared her interest in hot naked yoga. But with him constantly on the road, what can be said?
Such an illustrious family full of beauty, health and money must seem strange by comparison to Cynthia's quiet niece, Francesca or Frankie, as she is known. Frankie came to them after the overdose of her mother in the late 80's. Her father was unknown. (Such was the way of the late 70's.) Abysmally shy and diffident, she had to be home schooled after a failed attempt to send her to the girls' private boarding school resulted in anorexia. Mr. Bertram found that he liked having one of the children around, and he could have Frankie caddy for him on fine days. Of course, it turned out that Frankie was quite smart, despite a learning disorder, and leaned toward the visual. Cynthia drew her out of her shyness by sitting for hours in the sunroom while Frankie tried to painted her and they talked about the world. Then there were pastels, then paint again, and, finally, photography. She choose to stay at home for college, over the costly schools that her uncle suggested. Finishing the University of Illinois with a degree in English and Photography, Thomas would have had her go to work for Ed or Julia, had not the perverseness of the girl found a job at a global charity fund.
Frankie loved her job. She went all over the world, in troubled areas, taking pictures and writing articles of the work being done by selfless men and women. Her pictures were soon picked up by the press, and then a gallery. One of Thomas' business partners eventually recognized her pictures on the office wall. She had given the prints to Thomas as a present, one of which had garnered her a national award, but the gift was largely forgotten in the rush of his busy life and had gone unnoticed for some time. This man, head of a foundation in his retirement, was one who had Thomas' complete respect, and his knowledge of Frankie was gratifying. Thomas determined he would like to see her and sent her a text to come home for Moriah's 30th birthday party. Frankie sent her regrets, but there was an earthquake in South America and she had to take her cameras and go. Thomas was rather perturbed, and rather proud.
At some point, Aunt Cynthia had developed an interest in Frankie's work and joined her in Africa and the East. She served as spokeswoman and fundraiser for the organization. She encouraged Frankie to "go out and live your life and use your gifts" and "no one will be more proud than your dearest Auntie" and that is what Frankie did.
Thomas Bertram died of a massive heart attack at 75, while he and his wife were at an ashram in India. Cynthia Bertram remarried a painter, twelve years her junior, and now lives in Paris, where she sits for his marvelous wall sized nudes. Tom stepped ably into his father's shoes and never married, but leaves the ladies with room to hope. Ed married a lawyer and together they founded an HR research firm geared towards scientific methods of employee assessment and development. They have three heavily nannied children who often meet with Julia's also heavily nannied children, of which she has four. As we know, Moriah Bertram's story continues as she reinvents herself from celebriteen to celebrity yogini entrepreneur to wife of, the now internationally known, Crawford, and mother to several adopted children. What will the next act be for her? It's hard to say, but with rumblings of the couples joint infidelity on every news stand, that next act may be coming soon. With her nearing 40, and 40 being the new 15, we can be sure we shall be hearing about her on and on and on and on.
And what of Fanny, I mean Frankie? She continues her work with the world's oppressed, seeking out each new story that unfolds our humanity to us. She visits her Aunt frequently, or Cynthia joins her in the field. Occasionally, she runs into a cousin at some fundraiser or another, and they are very happy to see each other, and very happy to see each other go, nothing more. It all could have gone another way, but she is not sorry that it didn't.
Eventually, and at exactly the right time and not a moment sooner, while she was sitting in a cafe during a visit to her aunt in Paris, she looked up and saw a man walking toward her and he saw her, and then he smiled at her like her had known her from childhood, and that was that.
Believe me, Dear Reader, this author knows. ;-)The End