The Iron Tiara:A Nine Minutes Spin-Off Novel(6)

By: Beth Flynn

She didn't care that when the teacher returned she was reprimanded and had to clean up the classroom floor that was splattered with blood from Albert's face. She didn't care that she had to write a letter of apology to Albert for almost breaking his nose. She didn't even care that some of the girls tried to be her friend after that day. She no longer craved or wanted their friendship. She may have only been eight years old, but she learned two important life lessons. The first was that she was finished being a victim, especially now that she knew how to defend herself. The second lesson was that sometimes life requires that you fight dirty to survive.

"Your answer shouldn't take this long, nephew," Robert chided, as he slowly walked toward his dead brother's only son. Laying a hand on Anthony's shoulder, he gazed down into the boy's eyes and said, "Telling the truth, even if it's painful, is always the best way. You don't have to ponder or think about the truth. It's always there so it slides off the tongue more easily. Yes, people say that lies are easy too, but they carry a burden with them. Lies weigh you down. Never hesitate to tell the truth, Anthony."

"I stole it. I stole the part, Uncle Robert," Anthony blurted out. The air left his lungs, his entire body deflating as he shrunk in defeat. He felt his uncle’s hand squeeze his shoulder. He looked up and saw a smile on his face.

"I know why you stole the part, Anthony, and I am proud of you for owning up to your crime. However, you will still have to be punished for this. I will pay the person you stole from, and you will work it off."

Robert Bear watched as his nephew stoically accepted the reprimand and the penalty. There was no whining or complaining. He thought about his younger brother, Daniel, Anthony's father, who'd run away when he was still a teenager and at the age of twenty-one returned to his family with a pregnant bride. Robert wasn't lying when he told Anthony that he'd inherited his father's skills. Daniel had been an excellent mechanic and could've earned a decent living. Unfortunately, after only a short time with his family, Daniel moved away with his wife and new baby boy when it became apparent that he had a problem with alcohol. The Bear family lived by a strict rule of never bringing liquor into their homes. They'd seen it destroy too many lives. Tired of the constant hounding by his parents, Daniel broke contact with his family by moving away and not leaving a forwarding address. They hadn't heard anything about him until two years earlier when they were tracked down by social services. Daniel Bear had died of unknown causes leaving his ten-year-old son, Anthony, an orphan. The whereabouts of the child's mother were unknown.

"You are accepting your punishment with honor. You are developing the qualities that our people look for in a Tribal Chief."

Did Anthony hear his uncle correctly? "But…but…I thought you would be teaching RJ to be a good chief."

RJ was Robert's only child. He was seventeen years old and would barely graduate high school in the spring.

"Robert Junior is weak. Not physically, but mentally. He assumes that he will follow in my footsteps, not because he has earned it, but because he is entitled to it. I cannot allow this. When my time is up, a new chief will be elected. RJ will have to prove himself." He gave his nephew a serious look, his expression one of pride. "You show more responsibility, compassion and ambition at twelve than he does at seventeen. And considering how you had been living, your strong character is an admirable accomplishment."

Robert's voice was even as he continued, "You have made a mistake and now accepted your sentence. Robert would be scheming to avoid his punishment, as he has always done. He mistakenly thinks that I am going to set the table and invite him to the dinner." Robert looked into his nephew’s eyes and knew that the boy understood the analogy.

"I do not blame him. It is my fault he is the way he is, and I am afraid it is too late for him to learn a new way." He paused and let out a long sigh. Regaining his composure, he stood up straight and continued, "But you, Anthony, will be the one who not only sets the table, but you will provide the meal and make sure everyone receives their fair share of the food. Sadly, my RJ would keep the food all to himself."

Before Anthony could respond, his uncle added in a soft voice, "And you have used great restraint in watching your words. Especially around your aunt Carolyn. Like I told you the first time you used inappropriate language in our home, the use of profanity in place of what you are meaning to say is a sign of a weak mind. And whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. You have respected my home by choosing your words carefully. You have come a long way, Anthony. Your aunt and I are very proud of you."

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