"You better get over here right away," Lila Thompson said. "Henry's gone bananas."

When I got there, she pointed to the dining room. Henry was sitting on a chair by the sideboard with a shotgun in his lap.

"Don't come any further," he said, "or I'll blow a hole in your gizzard."

"can I ask what you're doing?" I said.

"I'm protecting my silverware. Do you realize what silver is worth these days?"

"I understand it's doing very well," I told him. "But I didn't know you had that much."

"Wouldn't you like to know how much I've got. We're sitting on the Tower of London and no one is going to get near it."

Lila, who was standing behind me, said, "Ever since the price of silver went up to $50 an ounce, we've had to eat with our hands. He says no one in the family is worthy of using our knives and forks. All he does is sit there all day long weighing soup spoons."

"Henry," I said softly, "I know silver is starting to have some value, but you can't sit in the dining room for the rest of your life."

"What am I going to do? Go to work and have someone steal a fortune right under my nose?"

"If it's that valuable, why don't you put it into a bank vault?"

"I don't trust banks," he said. "I want my silverware where I can count it every day."

I asked his wife if she had called her son, Roger.

"Henry won't talk to Roger. We gave Roger a silver setting when he got married. A year later he split up with his wife and she took the wedding present. Henry said he doesn't want to have anything to do with a person who would let his wife walk off with the silveware just because his marriage didn't pan out."

"Why are you looking at that platter?" Henry said, lifting his shotgun.

"Is that sterling?" I asked him.

"Wouldn't you like to know," he said.

"It's sterling," Lila told me. I tried to polish it the other day and he screamed for two hours. He wouldn't let me wash the cloth in case some silver might have rubbed off on it."

"I guess you have the silver fever, Henry," I told him. "Maybe it would be a good time to sell."

"At $50 an ounce? You must think I'm crazy. This is the time to buy."

Lila said, "He wants me to go around the neighborhood and ask if anyone wants to sell their silverware. I'd feel rediculous."

"Well, there's nothing I can do. He'll come out of it eventually. Call me if he gets worse."

I left the house and rushed home.

My wife found me in the dining room putting all our silver into a pillowcase.

"What are you doing?" she wanted to know.

"I'm putting this stuff away for safety. "It's too valuable to sit in a drawer."

"But what are we going to eat with?" she wanted to know.

"What's the matter?" I shouted at her. Haven't you ever heard of pizza?"