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Continued from High School

Mom’s fantasy world hit a brick wall sometime after 1931. She and her parents were gathered at the breakfast table waiting—waiting for Adolph to come down from his room. From behind his newspaper, Papa asked, “Where is Adolph?”

“I have no idea. I haven’t seen or heard from him this morning,” Norah replied as she tipped the silver teapot toward her empty china cup.

Herman, dropped his right hand to peer around the paper at Yry, “Why don’t you run upstairs and knock on Adolph’s door. Tell him breakfast is on the table. We’re waiting.”

Sighing…she reluctantly pushed back her chair and took the stairs two at a time, feeling her mother’s pursed-lips gaze focused on her back. She raised her hand to knock on Adolph’s door but hesitated. What was that feeling? It was barely perceptible, unidentifiable, but lodged darkly between her stomach and her heart. Shaking herself out of a stupor, she gently rapped on the door. “Dolphi? We’re waiting for you to join us.” No answer. Another gentle knock. “Uncle Adolph, Papa’s getting grouchy. You know how he is when he gets hungry.” Still no answer. “Adolph? . . . Dolphi? Are you there?”

Cautiously she tested the door. It swung open to reveal a chaotic sitting room with an empty liquor bottle akimbo on the floor, papers scattered as if blown by a fan. Her eyes skimmed the open bedroom. Soft morning sunlight filtered through sheer curtains to reveal a bed made, but disheveled. The bathroom door was closed. With a knot tightening in her abdomen she tapped gently on the bathroom door. Silence. She knocked again and ever so gently jiggled the doorknob. “Uncle Adolph? Are you in there? Are you okay?” The bathroom door was locked.

With a hasty about-face, she raced to the dining room and breathlessly reported what she had not found.

“Cyril, would you come here?” Norah commanded.

The butler strode into the dining room as Herman rose from the table and said, “Something’s wrong upstairs.” The two men hurried up the stairs while Norah and Yry stared at each other over the every day china place settings. Their eyes widened at a crashing noise coming from upstairs, followed by a gasping duet.

Adolph was fully submerged in the claw-footed tub filled with once-steaming, now tepid, water. Pandemonium ensued: phone calls, strangers in and out of the house, ambulance, police officers, depositions, reporters. The drowning was ruled accidental. Lulled by the hot water, Adolph lost consciousness and slid under water. But Yry never bought that. With the settling of his “estate,” came the truth about Adolph Levi. The man her father had trusted as a brother was an almost-clever charlatan.