MR. NEWBY’S REVENGE by Ruth Sims
Publisher: Untreed Reads Publishing, LLC (March 15, 2010)
This short story/novelette barely fits our requirement for GLBT, but Mr. Newby is gay and his lover is mentioned, and it just fits historical being in the recent past, but it is such a delightful “catbird seat” revenge story that everyone should read it.
Mr. Newby, and you only learn his first name at the end of the story, was dropped off at an orphanage by his unwed mother because he was so ugly. He had a constant grin on his face, that at first might make you smile as well but ultimately got on your nerves. As a child he was judged an idiot because of it, though, of course, he was a certified genius. But in the orphanage he was constantly ridiculed and bullied, in particular by one boy, Peter Carson. One of the best days of Mr. Newby’s life was the day the wealthy Bells came and adopted Peter and made him their son and heir, Carson Bell.
One day Mr. Newby went to the headmistress’s office and astounded her by explaining Newton’s Law of Gravity and other such brilliant ideas, then turned around and left the orphanage for good -- and for revenge. It takes him some years to gather the cash,. Living frugally, and looking for Carson Bell, but he finally finds him. He is now the manager of a hugely successful jewelry company, and the pride and joy of the fabulously wetly Bells. Mr. Newby takes on the disguise of a French Canadian gem expert, and is present when old Mr. Bell makes Carson promise not to break up the incredibly valuable Ekaterina diamond he has just obtained.
Once the old man dies, Carson decides to exhibit the diamond at his store. This is when Mr. Newby sees his chance for revenge. He plots to steal the diamond, or rather, diamonds, and leave Carson Bell holding the insurance fraud bag. Will he succeed? If he succeeds, what will he do with his ill-gotten gains?
As I said this is rather reminiscent of James Thurber’s story “Catbird Seat” except that the revenge is carefully plotted for years. Mr. Newby does not surprise anyone with his brilliance, but Carson certainly does not see the threat coming, not much anyway. Just reading how M. Newby makes all his meticulous plans and how Carson makes his own defense is a delight, written with a terrific crime pace and lots of humor.