As anyone would, upon hearing that the Law Offices of X, Y and Z were calling, philosophy professor Andy Wrangles suspects he’s the recipient of a prank call. He soon learns that not only is the law firm real, but that he is a beneficiary in the will of a long-time friend.
Still determined that there is some mistake, he arrives at the office to receive the news that he’s been left not so much a bequest, as a choice. Andy may choose to receive ten million dollars, or a sealed envelope, the contents of which the lawyer, Mr. X, affirms is unknown even to him. If Andy chooses the sealed envelope, the money will be shared among charities specified by the deceased. If he chooses the money, the sealed envelope will be destroyed. Whatever his choice, there are also three large boxes of paper that now belong to Andy.
Andy’s relationship with Stanley Riordan, known as Sothum, dates back to college. With a third friend, Buddy Johnston, they formed the Three Wise Fools philosophy club. Buddy, an author both famous and infamous for his two books, and long missing, is presumed to have committed suicide. Now Sothum is suddenly gone, never having shared with Andy the knowledge of his own imminent death from brain cancer.
To the puzzlement of his wife, Cheryl, Andy is unable to make what she sees as the only logical choice. She has observed the dynamics of the relationship between the three friends for years, and now feels free to reveal her thoughts. She agrees to allow him time to process what he has begun to discover about his friend.
At first, he can make no sense of the death of this larger than life man whose brilliant mind Andy not so secretly envied. Dazzled from the very first word he read in a philosophical dialogue pseudonymously penned by the man who would become his closest friend, Andy believes Sothum wasted his philosophical genius on a career in finance. He’s never felt truly equal to the brilliant mind of Sothum, or to the patronizing Buddy, handsome and privileged in his position as heir to a family fortune.
Sorting through the jumbled mess in the boxes, Andy is convinced Sothum has left a clue to the contents of the mysterious envelope. When he becomes frustrated with his lack of success in discovering some hidden cipher or key, Cheryl digs into Sothum’s finances, discovering the first real clue to his secrets.
Coming face to face with the consequences of Sothums’ secret obsession, Andy realizes the true extent of how little he knew his friend. Presented with the last words of Sothum, Andy is forced to admit he might not have loved Sothum so well had he been aware of the layers of secrets woven by the friend he believed he understood better than anyone did.
Reflecting on their years of friendship, Andy realizes that in a life of choices, he has been the chosen, rather than the chooser. Sothum and Buddy chose to invite him to join their sophomore society. Cheryl chose him, seeking his company after observing his fascination with an overheard conversation. Buddy chose Andy’s company as a refuge from detractors as his life appeared to fall apart. Finally, his trusted friend Sothum chose him to unravel the puzzle concealed within his uncommon bequest.
In the end, Andy makes the only decision he can live with, the only decision that makes sense of his own life. He chooses to make a choice.
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[About the author: Edmund Jorgensen was born in Chicago. He studied classical languages and has maintained a love for all things Greek and Roman. He fell in love with his wife in Mexico; they now reside, happily but considerably more chilly, in Watertown, Massachusetts. Edmund is currently hard at work on his second book, a set of interconnected short stories. Connect with Edmund on his website, Facebook, Twitter or GoodReads.
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