The Raven’s Locket
“Few great romances begin with a kleptomaniacal corvid, but who’s complaining?” Myrna Malloy – Doyle, 2021
After consulting with Dr. Stephanie Meyer about the locket, Myrna and Fiona set off from the Xavier Campus to find the Starbucks located near the Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Fiona’s colleague, Stephanie Meyer, graciously set up a meeting with historian and genealogist Ian Doyle. She assured Fiona and Myrna that he could help the women track down the families of the soldier and his wife whose images grace the gold locket.
Armed with Steph’s insight into the locket’s history, the two women chatted as they strolled down the beautiful River Walk and arrived at the Starbucks just outside the stadium.
Steph’s apt description of Ian Doyle made finding their target easy and unmistakable. Although the café was crowded, the two women immediately picked him out.
Sitting at a corner table was a man in his early sixties with a tall stack of books occupying one of the four chairs. He was as handsome as advertised; a bearded, full head of hair, and elegant man.
Fiona elbowed Myrna as they approached his table and said softly, “Let’s just hope he really is the most interesting man in the world. Maybe the mystery of the locket will be solved by a man that’s easy to look at. I’d say that’s a win-win situation, Myrna.”
Myrna wholeheartedly agreed by raising her eyebrows, smiling, and a sly nod of her head.
“You must be Ian Doyle?” said Fiona.
“It must be the stack of books that gave me away,” Ian replied as he rose from his chair, extending his hand.
“Not entirely,” giggled Myrna.
After introductions, Ian started for the counter, asking the women over his shoulder what they would like to drink. Both answered “Dos Equis” at the very same time. Both also blushed at their unintended response to Ian’s question.
Ian looked a bit flustered and confused, saying, “They have a hundred different types of coffee here, but I don’t think they have beer. If you wish, we can go to a cocktail bar just a few doors away.”
“Oh, no, coffee is fine,” replied Fiona.
Mr. Doyle returned to the table with a black coffee for Myrna and Cappuccinos for Fiona and himself.
Myrna retrieved the Crown Royal bag from her pocket and placed the locket on the table before Ian. As with Steph Meyer, she explained the whole story beginning with the felling of her oak, the raven’s nest, and a summary of what Dr. Meyer had told them about the locket.
“Our main interest is returning the locket to the two families involved. I mean, that is what the note calls out for. Because we don’t know much about the two people in the photographs, Steph felt you had the professional background to figure it out,” Fiona said, adding, “And we will pay you for your time.”
“That won’t be necessary,” said Ian, “I have what you might call a passion for history and the concomitant genealogy that results. This will be an unusual treat to investigate.”
After silently studying the note for a few minutes, Ian asked, “How long are you two going to be here in Cincinnati?”
Fiona explained that they would return to West Virginia first thing the next morning. Her flight back to Ireland was on the following day.
Ian suggested they go to dinner that evening with him. Myrna looked to Fiona to make sure it was OK with her, and, of course, it was. The three met at The Precinct, Cincinnati’s premier steakhouse.
It was a delightful evening of conversation covering every subject from genealogy to the old rivalry between the deep-dish Chicago-style pizza and New York City’s “slice to go.”
Myrna felt confident in leaving the locket with Ian, who would first protect the piece of jewelry and the fragile note through high-resolution photography and other archival preservation methods.
On the walk back to their hotel, Myrna and Fiona discussed various scenarios for returning the locket and note to the families for whom it was intended.
The cousins shared a room, and the final thing said after the lights went out was: “Myrna, I think Steph missed a few attributes when describing Ian. Ian’s not just handsome and scholarly, he’s very kind and thoughtful.
“I suppose you didn’t notice the way he looked at you?”
After a short silence, Myrna’s beautiful voice punctuated the darkness with a simple “Maybe!” (With a very detectable rising intonation on “maybe,” I might add)
Fiona returned to Belfast with all but Maggie. She decided to stay with her mother for a while in West Virginia. Not once since her first visit back home in many years did Maggie even mention her father.
For both mother and daughter, it was as if the control freak, Stan Andersen, had never existed. Except, of course, for the emotional scars the two would valiantly tackle and vowed to put behind them in the months ahead.
There was no word from Ian for almost two weeks, but not because he had yet to begin investigating the background of the locket – he had done nothing else since Myrna returned home.
Maggie and Myrna had just returned from walking the farm with Bonnie and Clyde when the phone rang. Ian was clearly excited about the results of his research on the locket and was eager to share the results with Myrna.
Ian explained that he could confirm the identity of Austin Fischer and his wife, Glenna, whose maiden name was Kenton, a granddaughter of the famous frontiersman, Simon Kenton.
“It turns out there was a company made up of German immigrants from Cincinnati, the 28th Ohio Infantry,” Ian said. “Not only that,” he continued, “but Austin wasn’t killed in the battle. As stated in the note, he was wounded, but after being captured and spending several months as a prisoner of war, he escaped and returned home to his wife.
“So, I set up a meeting with the two families to show them the locket and determine what should happen to the family heirloom – with your approval, of course.”
“Are you still there, Myrna?” Ian asked.
“Yes, I am just taking it all in” Myrna replied. “I can’t believe you could gather all that information so quickly.”
“The power of genealogy and good recordkeeping, my dear,” Ian responded, adding, “can you come back up to Cincinnati next Saturday, and we’ll meet the descendants of Austin and Glenna?”
“Yes,” she replied, a little too quickly. But Ian didn’t notice and said, “Terrific, why don’t we meet at the same Starbucks on Friday afternoon around three p.m.?”
In closing, Ian told Myrna that the investigation into her locket revealed something about his own family. Something that he was excited to tell her about when she arrived, perhaps over dinner.
Maggie offered to stay at the farm and take care of things there. Myrna wanted her to go with her, but Maggie insisted she go alone. And, so she did.
The rest of the story
Of course, readers know very well where this story is heading, and you’re probably spot on. So, let’s go.
Myrna, our attractive, 60-ish, green-eyed, auburn-haired, funny and brilliant protagonist, drove up to Cincinnati alone. Alone is a word she knew well for many years, but that sad state was about to be obliterated by the kind of man she wasn’t sure existed.
What started out to be a quick trip up to Ohio ended up being extended a little bit longer each time Myrna called Maggie on her cell phone.
Maggie would listen to her voicemails and smile each time her mother left a message stating that “the business at hand” was taking longer than she and Ian thought.
Maggie chuckled to herself, “And, what kind of business might that be, Mother?”
An unbelievable 43 people from both families showed up at a meeting room Ian had rented at the Netherland Plaza, a lovely and historic Art Deco hotel in downtown Cincinnati.
Myrna first explained all the events that had led up to this meeting; the old oak, the raven’s nest, the locket, and her previous trip to Cincinnati. Her melodious voice and conviction in getting the locket and the desperate note back to its rightful owners grabbed the audience.
Ian’s presentation included slides of the locket and note and family trees for the Fischers and Glenna’s family, the Kentons.
The audience was clearly moved by the efforts of these two individuals who had only met a few weeks earlier.
As the meeting concluded, it was unanimously decided that the locket and note be displayed at the prestigious Cincinnati Art Museum in a special exhibit on the role of German immigrants in the Civil War.
That evening would be the first of innumerable meals Ian and Myrna would enjoy together.
After this dinner in the charming Netherlands Plaza, the two would rarely be apart. Maybe they didn’t know this at the moment they sat down together, not consciously anyway, but it dwelt firmly in their, as of yet, wordless hopes and desires.
Yet, something must be said soon, for their developing love grew every time their eyes met.
Ian shared his story about how, in the process of locating the Fischers, he found a personal familial connection. It turns out that Ian’s mother was directly related to the Fischers and therefore related to Austin.
Ian held both of Myrna’s hands and looked deeply into her eyes when he said, “Myrna, this means that the locket you found in your oak tree belonged to a man I am related to. What are the odds of that happening? I have only one explanation, my dear.”
Before he could explain, Myrna said softly, “Yes, it appears we were meant to meet.”
“Can I carry that sentiment a bit further?” Ian asked. Her eyes said yes, so he proceeded, “Myrna, I think we are destined to be together; what do you think?”
Without hesitation, Myrna, with tears running down her rosy cheeks, answered, “I can think of no better fate in the world than spending the rest of our lives together, Mr. Doyle.”
And, so they did.
If you believe that fate is only a result of random events, then what happened here is but a story of two people simply meeting and falling in love – it happens every second of every day.
If this is you, then you may subscribe to the Arthur Schopenhauer quote, “What people commonly call fate is their own stupidity.” Arthur was speaking to free will, of course.
Some of us believe that synchronicities are worth taking note of. Moreover, serendipity may lead to unexpected joy and love. If so, the raven’s locket is a love story worth telling and retelling.
And that is the story of Ian Doyle, Myrna Malloy, and a long-ago raven.
In the last few years, Maggie has taken over the farm on Droop Mountain. She is quite successfully raising sheep and training Scotch Collies. Maggie has begun making Irish –style cheeses, such as Killeen Goat and Cashel Blue.
Clearly, Maggie has a business acumen that her father lacked.
Myrna and Ian are married and live in a Victorian house in Cincinnati. They started a successful genealogy venture that keeps them happily on the road, and they both love traveling. They do visit Maggie at the farm frequently.
The last I heard from Myrna, she told me she never believed she could be this happy. She said, “Ian treats me with respect and does something I didn’t know a man was capable of – asking for my opinion.”
This is a work of fiction. Except, of course, there really is a Cincinnati, Ohio, and there was a frontiersman named Simon Kenton.