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A letter postmarked from the United States arrived for Mr. David Wenham, care of the Hotel Degres de Notre Dame, Paris. The concierge set the letter in the slot marked "Hold", rather than the slot for Room 9, David's suite number. There was good reason for this. Soon after David's departure, one of the housemaids noticed something seeping from under the door of Room 9. Closer inspection showed it to be wine. The hotel manager opened the suite with his master key, and was horrified by the sight that met his eyes.

A few hours later, the suite had been emptied. David's belongings were safely locked up in storage on the main floor, and the destroyed furnishings had been carried away. Maids worked to clean the floors, painters repaired the walls. New furnishings were procured and set to rights, fresh curtains were hung, and a tall vase of lilies was placed in the sitting room. All had been put in order again. The room awaited its next guest.

If and when the American returned from his trip, the manager had briefed his staff to treat him with courtesy and respect, but to firmly let him know that he would need to secure arrangements with another hotel. They were also to present him with a detailed bill outlining the damages caused to his suite. The manager did not expect to have this invoice paid, but it was a matter of hotel pride that he wanted Mssr. Wenham to be aware of the extent of the damages. As much as the management enjoyed having had him as a guest in the past, the hotel was no longer willing to be vulnerable to the whims of David's acquaintances and lifestyle.

Dear Son:

You may feel that placing an ocean between us is sufficient to avoid the concerned eyes of your family. Let me assure you that you are sadly mistaken. Your welfare is very important to your mother and siblings, and so I have taken measures that would allow me to offer them honest reassurances that you are becoming a productive member of society in your new location.

I regret that I am unable to give them happy news. Instead, I am forced to tell your dear mother that her son has adopted a deviant, possibly illegal lifestyle, and has made it his mission in life to find every avenue of possibility to ensure that he will not be thought of as one of the Wenhams of New York ever again. My lawyer has drawn up papers that will give us the needed protection from any possible claims to our family assets from any unexpected heirs, as well as any claims brought upon us by you.

You will receive no future stipends from our banker. I suggest you not squander any remaining funds left in your account, as they will be the last you will see from us. Let us not make a scene about this, just go about your life, as you seem to be hell-bent on doing, and leave us to go about ours with dignity. No response to this letter will be necessary... or accepted.

Charles Wenham
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August 2003

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