When Ed Flynn died midway through his term as Agincourt’s mayor, few were in a position to claim the emperor had died stark naked. Only gradually did we learn how empty his administration had been. Yes, there was much talk of making Agincourt great again; returning Agincourt to the imagined prosperity of bubble after economic bubble that had bloomed and burst since its founding in 1853. I was about to note how selective our memory can be, but you already knew that: Half the population seem to believe that a fictional past trumps a future which seems all too real, even perilous.
Edmund FitzGerald Flynn and his considerably younger bride, Amity Burroughs Flynn, had arrived with much self-generated fanfare and matching letters of credit. Within a matter of months, they were A-list invitees for dinners and other social gatherings. And they reciprocated with catered meals for our One Percent in private dining rooms at The Blenheim, where they had taken apartments.
Local commerce was never quite sufficient for their elevated taste, so Miller’s Tobacco special-ordered an aromatic blend for Ed’s pipe and a large stock of Nicaraguan cigars. Distributed like business cards. Meanwhile, gowns, dresses and lingerie from Marshall Field supplemented Mrs Flynn’s eastern wardrobe [they claimed to have come from Boston]. It seemed to those she met on the street that Mrs Flynn never wore the same dress twice, though it was actually her ability to combine, permute, transpose and otherwise rearrange a few carefully chosen pieces to create that illusion.
Likewise with Ed and his letters of credit. Once deposited, his strategic “investments” attracted interest from newfound friends, then shifted to other projects dressed for success. Today, I suppose we’d call it kiting: one check always in the air to keep others from bouncing; a technique that functioned well in the era of snail-mail but would be worthless in the computer age. Their uncanny ability to play that game — ponzi-like, yet not; the Flynns never made off with any cash — had netted them prestige, social standing, and being swept into office as Agincourt’s mayor. All of which might have gone on uninterrupted, if Ed hadn’t overindulged at the Commercial Club monthly meeting. For on that fateful November evening in the private dining room at Hansa House, Ed gurgled something authoritative, clutched his overly-starched shirt, and slumped forward into a plate of sauerbraten or the chocolate-mint mousse (reports vary); more dead than the scheme he’d been promoting earlier in the evening to privatize the municipal power plant.
אתה אולטרה סגול מנא מנא מונופול
Belshazzar found some writing on his wall. Edmund FitzGerald Flynn, too, may have sensed the curtain descending on his foreshortened play. What else but that and hubris could have motivated construction of a private mausoleum. Hastily completed for the interment, FitzGerald-Flynn took up residence on the bottom shelf five months after his actual death.
The Ionic-ordered tomb at The Shades is considerably smaller than even a “tiny house” you might see on HGTV. Essentially it’s a granite garden shed — with more pretension than Donald Trump — measuring 8’–9″ by 12’–3″ and less that one hundred square feet, with “seating” for two. Its most distinctive feature: a single eight-foot Ionic column, Ed’s metaphoric middle finger to the world. Distinctive? Because we usually see classical columns in pairs. Turns out Ed got a deal on this one: Its twin had been damaged in transit, so the marble works let it go cheap.
You might say it’s an ironic iconic ionic.