“Yes, my mother and father united two names that mean something in this community: Goodfellow and Holbrook.  I’ve always been proud of being a Goodfellow, always tried to live up to the name in every way. ”

This respectable-looking stranger was selling himself the way you would a car!  Max wondered what all this was leading up to.  He felt uncomfortable, like a freeloader, knowing he didn’t have means enough to invest in whatever this man was selling.  Seth Goodfellow had called him, mentioned Max’s mother, and invited him to lunch saying, “I have something of importance to discuss with you.”  That they were eating at a rather expensive place where it was possible to speak privately led Max to suppose that whatever this balding, white-haired man proposed was going to be costly.  But this “Goodfellow” was almost sure to be disappointed because Max was not interested in buying or investing in anything right now—not more life insurance, not Amway, not a “business opportunity.”

Seth fixed him with a gaze as innocent as a child’s. “I’m a widower with six children, four living. I’m retired now, but I made a good living as an accountant and invested wisely, so I’m reasonably well off.” So why was he selling whatever he was selling if he was retired and well off?  Max had never been personally involved in the kind of scam Utah was notorious for, but he began to suspect that Seth was a con man.  The key was that the patsy trusted a trustworthy, apparently honest and sometimes influential leader.  All Seth had said added up to an attempt to present himself as above reproach in order to entice Max to invest in something shaky.

He wondered what he should do.  Terminate the whole thing right now?  His main reason for accepting the lunch invitation (besides a chance to eat on someone else’s tab) was the use of his mother’s name so he was reluctant to be impolite. He suddenly wondered if his mother had been enticed to invest her limited means.  He clenched his hands, feeling his heart rate increase.

Finally dessert and more about educational background, a mission to Switzerland, present temple service.  Max looked at his watch.  This guy had better get to the bottom line fast. Max had decided to listen very carefully.  Then as soon as he got back to his office he’d call the Attorney General’s office and report what he remembered.  He wished he had a hidden tape recorder with him.

Seth cleared his throat.  He looked nervous!  He was definitely perspiring above a conservative business suit and tie.  Was this evidence of guilt?  Was it difficult to push something you knew in your heart was wrong? Seth pushed at his glasses, fiddled with his fork, then said, “I guess you’re wondering why I asked to meet with you.  I want you to know that, although this is sudden, it is not a fly-by-night thing.   We, your mother and I, are in the same ward and town house development.”

Mother again! Making sure Max couldn’t cut him off.  Now he was really seething. He looked down so he could hide his feelings, compose his face.

He’d let his anger interfere with listening: ” . . . so we were already very good friends before we started dating a few weeks ago.”


Max nearly dropped his glass.  What was this guy saying?  He looked more carefully at the bright blue eyes, the reddened face, the hands now clutching a napkin. His mother had mentioned going out when Max or his wife called her. She had not called it dating!”

“I know this is sudden for you, but it isn’t for us.  We trust and understand each other.”  It could still be a scam, but now it seemed more like . . .

A sense of absolute shock.  He drew in a deep breath and looked squarely into the merry-eyed, ruddy face. Then he was touched.  An old fashioned thing to do, to be sure, but a thoughtful thing.  Yes, thoughtful, as Seth stuttered out, “I want your permission to marry your mother.”


One thought on “ULTERIOR MOTIVES

  1. I am getting a new son –in-law in 8 weeks and I didn’t get invited out to dinner when he asked me if he could marry my daughter so I am sending him this story! Thanks for sharing your Shards with me I am enjoying them very much, Lenore


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