Everyone knew old Mr. Prichard, he was the old guy who lived in the flat in the alley behind Wellington Lane, just off Penny Lane. But no one ever wrote about Wellington Lane, so most folks don’t know it's there.
Old man Pritchard as the kids called him behind his back was an odd sort. He never said much, but always seemed to know who everyone was. No one remembers talking to him or telling him who they were, but he knew them by sight and used their names.
In the summer, he sat outside by his door in a rickety lawn chair drinking tea. The temperature could be boiling hot, he’d have his tea on the little table next to his chair, a cigar in one hand, smoke whiffling up around his beat-up Panama hat. I ventured over to say hi one day. He looked at me. “Tea?”
“Sure, why not?” I sat next to him and sipped Earl Gray Tea from a china cup older than me.
He didn't say anything for a spell, then quietly spoke.
“Roberts, you know I saw you leaving last night.” He let it hang there.
“Yeah so? I was going out to meet a friend.”
“Her name is Elizabeth.” he finished. I almost dropped my teacup.
“Ah, how’d you know..?”
“That, my friend, is my secret. What you need to know is I also know about the ten million you stole from the bank where you work.”
That time I did spill my tea.
“UH, What are you talking about, How do you know I work at a bank?”
“There’s not much around here I don’t know. For example, Lori, your wife thinks you still owe money on the house. You paid it off last month with money from the bank. And the kids who call me Old Man Pritchard are in for a rude awaking when I tell the cops about the drugs they're dealing to the kids on the other blocks.”
I knew some of those kids were up to no good but never put it together.
I sat my cup down on his little table before I broke it.
“Sir, how do you know all this stuff?”
“If I told you that, I wouldn’t be a secret. Rest assured I don’t care about your dalliance with Elizabeth, or the money the bank will find missing soon. What I do care about is relocating to a warm sunny place to spend my twilight years.”
“So? What do you want?” I wasn’t sure what I was asking.
‘You are going to find me a villa on the south of France, and I’m disappearing with about a million of your ten million, and you’ll never see me again.
A week later Old man Pritchard mysteriously disappeared. At the same time, an anonymous call to the police resulted in the drug-selling gang being rounded up by the drug squad, clearing the street of a lot of brats.
As for me, the bank received another anonymous call, and an unpopular coworker was arrested for embezzling the money. I continued to live at 615 Wellington Lane with Lois, and Elizabeth moved into 614 and ¾ Wellington Lane. Life was good.