Buckets Of Blessings


Retta Michaels

"The Queen of Gay Romance"



If your laws do not allow you to read this story, don't. All the rest of you people who read it, if you think it's true, boy, have I investment opportunities for you!


Notes From Retta:

From time to time, I change things just to try seeing if they look better. I've been trying a lot of backgrounds and fonts with varying acceptance by you readers. Some have went over terribly. Some have went over all too well! (Especially when the Disclaimer gets more notice than the story!)

Acceptance of this story has been amazingly positive. I thank everyone for their emails cheering me on.

As an author, I write this stuff and about as soon as it's out off the keyboard, I've forgotten what I've written. For me, I've got so many story lines going on in my head, I've got to concentrate on getting what I've got told...with the characters who are speaking to me.

When I re-read the story to edit and spell check, I find it humorous some of the stuff that I've written. There are also times I when I end up crying because something is so touching. If you are touched, I appreciate your empathy. Be sure to write and let me know.

Currently, I'm beginning on another story. It's called "Lube" (What a Gay Novel Concept). Currently, the first chapter is in a few people's hands being tested for what is liked and what isn't liked. I'll be posting it rather soon.

Read and enjoy.

Chapter 4:

After eating, everyone picked out homemade fudge from the many varieties they had. Joan said, “If I'd known this was up here, I would have came up here before Christmas! Their varieties would have made everyone happy.

Little Mark loves Rocky Road Ice Cream and I couldn't find him any of that fudge in the area, so I made him some. Do you realize how much all the ingredients cost for fudge?! After that, I'd just as soon pay the six dollars a pound!”


I looked at her and said, “I've only made fudge one time and it turned out like runny hot chocolate syrup. Since then, I buy it here.”

 Ty said, “This stuff's good, I've never had it.”

 We looked at him and he said, “Mom never made anything like this.”

 Once again, I thought about how bad things were in their house. And, I thought, whoever Mitch gets together with, she's going to have it so easy because they'll appreciate whatever she does.

 When we got back in the limo, I pushed up the window and said, “Babe, is our helping run the distributorship with your dad going to bother you?”

 “No, I'm liking the way it's going to be run, now. If everyone's in it, there's no secrets and no one can have a bad day. I just worry you'll be too busy.”

 “No, we'll take the time we need to run the funeral home, but I think it's vital we are there to keep your dad and Gregg secured.”

 “I think we ought to let Gregg start into management of it. If we're all in there taking a role, we can keep an eye on him and let him get that experience.”

 “O.k., but Heather and he have a pact she gets to go to school with him just as we have ours.”

“Yes, but in our daily interactions, we'll be running the funeral home and I'll be getting hands on experience. He won't be getting his.”

 “I never thought of that. Maybe we need to discuss it and see what his schedule is. Or, maybe we'll get him into a lesser role where he learns each part of the business.”

 “That would be good. If he knows each job, he'll respect that person more.”

 “Ok, we'll have a talk with him, Heather, and your dad. I think it's nice Heather's thinking about a baby. I just hope they don't work too hard on it before they even get engaged.”

 “I think Gregg's going to work on it.” he chuckled.

 A short while later, after a lull in the conversation, he said, “Hon, can we move in together?”

 “If you want, but I'd like to see you be there for your dad.”

 “He's planning on going to Aunt Joan's. She's offered and I think he'd like it over there. She's his sister, but she's also like a mom to him the way she takes care of him. Their family was close. Even though mom wasn't the sort of person to be close to her own family, she was close to Aunt Joan.”


Your mom has more family?”


Yes, she's got aunt's, uncles, and cousins, but I don't know where they are. We sure never went to see them, but I do know they used to send Christmas cards.”


We'll have to look them up. I know I'll have to mention it in the obituary. Let's hope they'll see it and come. I think it'd be nice if they came, and you got a chance to meet them.”


He looked at me and I could see the gears turning. “Let me talk to dad alone and see if I can get some information. It'll be nice if we can list them by name in the obituary even though we don't know them.”


Yes, because whose to say your mom didn't want them around. As insecure as she was, she might not have wanted them around to see what she'd become.”


He thought for a moment and said, “She might have done that. I don't know. All I know is they haven't been around, but I do know when I was little, we used to get Christmas cards.”


When we got to Highway 36, I said, “Ty, get to know this intersection. This one here is one you'll be called to a lot. When you come up, you park way over here and you turn the strobes on.”


What are the strobes?”


I rolled down the window and said, “Guys, we're going to pull over so I can show Ty something.”


I pulled over and said, “Ty, right here is where I want you to park. It's a long ways to walk, but it's also not going to get the vehicle hit and you struck. It looks like it's a good intersection, but the problem here is, people don't use the turning lane when they pull out. Traffic here is flying by at seventy miles an hour and although it looks like you can pull out, If someone is zipping along, they'll have you hit before they realize you're there. Now, the strobes are flashing lights in the headlights, parking lights, and tail lights that look like a police car. The police don't mind you having them as long as you use them in an official capacity. Try pulling someone over with them, and I'll have you out of my cars fast.”


Where's the switch?”


It's on the floor like a dimmer switch in an older car. The reason I put it there was because it can be removed and moved to another car when we get it. All of the cars have them, even the flower van. My motto is, I'd rather have a lot of flashing lights than one too few. You'll be amazed at how many people who don't pull over for the hearse.”


Is it a law you've got to pull over?”


No, it's respect for the dead and for that person and their family. I'll tell you now, if you're driving a hearse and you see a business' vehicle not stop, you let me know, and I'll call that business. They'll be told I know they didn't stop and my funeral home won't be doing business with them any longer. You'll be amazed at how fast an owner will call me and tell me he just fired an employee over it. Respect comes in all shapes and sizes, and it's like people that don't stand and salute the flag. I'll be pissed like you won't believe. You better believe if you don't stand when it's time to salute it, I'll be getting your butt up. Others see it and they'll not say anything, but they'll silently decide not to do business with us again.”


I never thought of that. Do we have many of those times?”


Military people we bury? Yeah, we'll have twenty one gun salutes, and we'll be folding the flag that's over a coffin and we'll be standing and saluting the flag. I'll teach you, but after a while, you'll be like me and you won't continue a service until they're standing.”


It bugs you, doesn't it. I can hear it in your voice.”


Hell yeah it bugs me! If I could go back and snatch them up out of their seat, I would...it pisses me off so bad. The man in that casket fought for us and died for us, so we could be free. It pisses me off just as bad as it does with me an atheist. I'm not the most devout person, but I believe in God. I believe not only was there Jesus, but Mohammad and Buddha and the rest of them. Each believed their own ways, and for someone to not believe is way beyond me.”


Ok, chill dude. You're nearly yelling!”


Well, you'll see it enough hon that you'll get an opinion too. Another thing here is chewing gum. If you see it in the funeral home, get that person out of the room and show them the trash can and, point at the door. Tell them they can either put it in the trash can or find their way to the door.”




Try removing chewing gum from satin in the casket while the body is in there. You can't do it. The only thing you can do is close down the visitation, and take the casket downstairs and take the body and put it into another. If that happens, I want the name of the person that did it, because they'll be paying for a casket. It's happened to me more than once and I'm almost militant about it.”


You mean they spit the chewing gum into the casket?”


One was told a joke and he laughed. The gum flew out and hit the person in the casket. It stuck to them. The other thought he'd be a wise ass and took the gum out and put it in the casket on the satin. As you know, I've got video out the butt in there.

When it happens, I'm really fast at getting the problem taken care of. The one that had the gum on the jacket of the deceased, I shut the visitation down and took my own jacket and got it on the person. The one where they stuck the chewing gum in the casket, an alarm went off and I went to see the video and saw what they did. I went to the family and told them. They watched the video and chose to get that person out of there. What we did with the satin, was we cut it there and I saved it for evidence as well as the video and I sent the kid's family the bill for the funeral. The family of the deceased paid, but I sent the family of the kid a letter and told them he was never to be allowed in the funeral home again.”


Wow, I can't believe they'd do that.”


You'll be amazed at what they'll do.”


A knock came from the panel and I lowered it.


You guys decide not to be a part of the family or something?”


No, it's not that, I'm teaching him some about the funeral business.”




Ty said, “You won't believe what people will do in a funeral, Dad!”


Oh I'll believe it, son. You don't realize how people are, because you've not been around them.”


He said someone spit chewing gum into the casket and another put it in on the satin!”


Yeah, and I've been to one where the guys were in a motorcycle gang and they poured beer in the casket.”


That's disgusting!” I said without thinking about it.


Yeah, to you or I, but that's what they saw was a tribute to their friend.”


Man, what a tribute. Getting to lie in beer, for eternity.”


Oh, if I could lie with the person I love for eternity, it wouldn't be so bad said Ty, so maybe they loved beer. Maybe it brought them great joy.”


He looked at me and it hit me. Man the kid had logic.


Well, it wouldn't be for me, but I could see someone doing that now, but I'd insist on it being in the can instead of poured.”


Joan laughed and said, “Look how the Egyptians did it. They were buried with everyone in their entire household. Their cats, their loved ones, and their servants all died when they did. They had food in there and plenty of reading material of all the great works they did. They got buried with their obituaries to tell their God what a great person they were. What I don't understand is if they were God, why did they get buried with everything and everyone if on the other side they'd have all the power and wealth they would've had here?”


That's interesting Joan, I never thought of that. It's kind of hypocritical, if you think of it. It's like they had doubts.”


Mark said, “The Indians were the same way. What they held dear to them was taken out and burnt with them. That's why it was so hard to find anything about their culture.”


We pulled into town and I slowed down. I said, “Mitch, when we get to the funeral home, I need to speak with you for a moment, so Ty and I'll give you a ride home after we drop off Joan and Mark.


That's o.k. Lance, we can catch a ride with Gregg and Heather. I need to speak with them a moment.” said Mark.


Ok” as long as we have rides figured out.


I closed the divider and said, “When we get to the funeral home, I'm going to run a Armor All wipe over the seats back there and run the sweep through the floor real fast. Then, I'll be ready.”


Do you do that every time?”


Yeah, but a lot of times I'll run a Windex wipe over the windows, too.”


Ok, what you going to talk to Dad about?”


I'm going to tell him to cancel your car insurance because you're going to be driving my vehicles from now on. Um, I mean, our vehicles.”


Ok” He smiled and said, “Thanks, hon.”


No, there's no need to thank me. You're a part of my life now and that's how things will be.”


Ok, it's just strange that I've not had to do anything to earn everything.”


Hon, you and I will earn things together and you'll be amazed at how far we'll go.”


I know, it's just... now, it's strange.”


Well, don't worry about it.”


He held my hand and said, “Lance?”


Yeah, dear.”


What kind of music to you like?”


Oh all sorts. But, when I really jam out, no one's going to hear it because I know where the best sound system is and the room's sound proofed. When I'm in there, I can let loose and no one will have a clue.”


He laughed and said, “You really do that!”


Oh yeah, more than you know. One thing you'll learn about me is I'll do it at the weirdest times. About two or three o'clock in the morning, I'll go and do it.”


So, what do you like to listen to, mostly.”


It depends. In my computer in the office is a file of my play lists. It varies, but one thing I'm hoping to do before long is be able to project video memorials in there and when I do, the plasma's going to be throwing video for the music I play too.

But, at other times, you'll hear me in on the organ and you'll think you've gone to a concert. It's funny, because when I sit down, the first thing I have to do at a keyboard is hit the first notes of “Benny & The Jets” by Elton John. It's almost a required thing for me.”


I don't think I've heard that before.”


You haven't heard Elton?”


Yeah, but not that one.”


Oh man, where've they been keeping you hidden?”


He laughed and said, “Some day, would you play for me?”


Hon, I'll play for you, but when I do, Heather's going to have to be there, too.”




All these years, she's wanted to hear me really jam out and hasn't once gotten to hear it. She's heard me at the mall start in on a piano, but once I look up and see the crowd's there, I get off it.”


You that good?”


Let's say I know my way around it.”




Yeah, it's strange because my mom wanted me to learn to play a musical instrument, but we never really had the money.

One time, they had a piano for sale at the church for twenty five dollars. Back then, I begged for it and they didn't have the money. So, I started to save for it.

About the time I got over twenty dollars, someone bought it. I was so heart broken and, when we went to my aunt's house, I saw it. She'd bought it for her kids and then, they never played it.”


Man, that had to hurt.”


Yeah, but I learned a lesson. From then on, I saved up money so I had it on hand for when I wanted to have something. I called it my “mad money”. Since then, my mad money has come in handy for little emergencies and for things I wanted. That building next to the funeral home was bought from my mad money. The guy never wanted to sell it and I thought I'd never get it. But, one day he came over and said, “You want it, it's yours for a hundred and twenty grand.” I couldn't run fast enough to get to my check book.”


Wow! So, you have it too?”


Yeah, Some day, we're going to add onto the funeral home and it's going to double in size. When it does, you'll have funerals on one side and I'll have them on the other. It'll double the use of the space.”




Yeah, What you see from the Grand Stairway to the left will be doubled on the right so it'll be twice as nice.”


That's going to be beautiful.”


Yeah, some day.”


Well, Let me get through school.”


No, when you get to your last semester, I'll have it started so when you're doing your internship, it will be for you.”


Why don't you go ahead and start it and allow someone else to use it for their internship?”


Well, I would, but not many ever come to this region.”


Hon, I've got a thought.”




You say yours cost three point six million, or close to it. How much is the addition going to cost?”


Oh, well, What I'm thinking is it will cost almost two. A lot of the security features won't need to be doubled, but the acrylic panel will and the last one cost eight hundred grand.”


Why do you need acrylic? Couldn't you get by with chain mail?”


Chain mail has bullet stopping features, however, fragments can get through and shot gun pellets can get through.”


There's a new fabric they have the military is using for bullet proof vests. From what I understand, they're spraying Kevlar with something to make it have the properties they need. If it's cheaper than that, , we can look at the possibilities of using it.”




Well, we can look at it as a possibility. I've got the blueprints already, so there's no hurry on those.”


Ok, here's another question I'm going to ask you and see if you've thought of it.”




Why haven't you opened a florist if there's profit in it? If you're wholesaling to yourself, that'd be good, and you'd give a cut rate on the cost of flowers to everyone else.”


I've not thought of it, actually. We have a flower cooler in the basement already and we have the van, so the only cost we'd incur is the space, and the coolers for the store front.”


Could you make the phones ring in there?”


Yes, we could, and we could operate the shop. But, there'd need to be someone there all the time and with the distributorship becoming a family ran operation, it'd be tight on time constraints.”


Why do YOU have to run it? Can't someone else run it?”


Yes, but each person we have on the payroll is a cut in the profits.”


Well, if you have someone on the phones, and who is a floral designer, you'd be able to do more things.”


Yes, we can. Now, I've got a question for you?”


Ok, what's the question?”


When we're talking, I'm referring to things as ours and with the words, us and we. How come you keep asking questions with referral to the business as you and your? Why aren't you including yourself in it?”


I don't know. I wasn't doing it consciously. Maybe it's because I think of it as being yours and placing myself as an employee. Maybe I'm doing it because I don't think I'm worthy here, I don't know.”


Well, think about it, but when you do, think about it as being OUR business and everything WE do, it's going to be OURS. Then, when you get done thinking about it, you come back to Me with the realization that I'm throwing everything into OUR relationship and making it OURS. Ok?”


He smiled at me and said, “Babe, I love you. Maybe I won't be ready to feel like I can throw it all into the pot until I'm finished with school.”


OK, but our relationship isn't going to be like your parents. We're going to be sharing this one.”


He looked at me and said, “OK, I like that. It seems as though you're giving me the better end of the bargain and I don't like it.”


Who's to say I'm not getting a sweet deal here, too?”




Let's see. I'm getting someone who wants a relationship and I'm getting someone who loves me and will build upon that love in our day to day interactions.

Take a look at your Aunt Joan and Uncle Mark. They give each other and they build it together. Yes, they've got separate vocations, but when the day's done, they're together and it's all brought into the same house. Maybe one of them makes more than the other, but I'd be willing to bet they'll tell you they're an equal in their relationship.”


He smiled and said, “That's true. Maybe my concept's fucked up because my mom's was hers, and my dad's was his and she constantly reminded him she put in more than him.”


Selfish, yes. Self centered, yes. Equal, well, they were in it 50/50 with making you kids and when they said I do, so where'd she get the fucked up concept she was better?”


I don't know, but when you put it that way, I see what you say. I never thought of it.”


Well, when we're done at the end of this run, I'll be willing to bet you'll say we were partners in this life.”


I can see it, but I really hope we go out together because I don't think I could handle losing you and I sure can't imagine how you'd feel if you lost me. Oh man, my dad has to be hurting so bad.”


Yeah, and he's not broke, yet. That's why I keep saying I'm worried about you. He's cried more over Gregg being scared up in that room than he has losing his wife. The love they had can't have been that dead.”


No, he loved her, still. And, at times I've seen her be tender towards him, but when she was drinking, she was a real bitch. It was how I could tell when she was drinking at work, because she'd come home in that mood.”


Had to be tough on everyone.”


It was, but dad was the one that tried to be the peace keeper and the go between. The whole time, she'd be cussing him and telling him what a worthless piece of trash he was.”


Sorry, but your mom needed someone that would have turned around and put a fist in it. Sometimes, people don't realize words can be more lethal than the military. That's why weak Presidents use military and the strong ones use speeches.”


Wow, we sure know what we've got now!”


Yeah, and I'm afraid to get beyond it, we're going to have to have a lot of love from our friends. The ones that matter are the ones that will come back. The ones that matter are the ones that will understand we're not the aggressor but just as much the victim as the rest of the world.”


It's like our family.”


Yeah, look how people have come back around Gregg, in your family. They realize what he was going through and they realize your dad was in it too. You were out there being sweet no matter what, and they had to wonder how you were able to do it.”


She had pretty much already discounted me as being worthless. I knew it got to her and knew my reputation as the one that was the nice one mattered to me and if it pissed her off, then so be it.”


That had to be rough on you, too.”


Yeah, because every time she said I'd never be a man, it hurt. Finally, when we were arguing, I said, “What sort of man you want me to be, Mom, because if I was the man you wanted me to be, I'd already gotten rid of you years ago!” She nearly hit me on that one and that's when I told her, "You touch me, and I won't take down the charges like dad does. You'll go in front of a judge and he'll know what you've done every time you get drunk."

She tried to say she wasn't drunk, but I could smell it four feet away. That's when she changed tactics and tried to tell me she would contact you and get you to back off.”


It wouldn't have worked. I would have told her, “Get him to tell me that alone privately and I'll do it, but you aren't the one who can tell me.”


She'd not been able to do it. Just as soon as she tried to drag me to tell you, I would have stood there in front of her and told you the way I really feel and that she was doing it. She knew that and she knew all the things she tried would come back to haunt her. Now, she's gone and her legacy is all of us aren't feeling the remorse we would have, if she'd been better.”


Well, you all are broken up, but this funeral is strange because the love is so fragmented. What's strange is I think when you left and Gregg is gone, your dad would have laid down the ultimatum and divorced her. Then, her world would have crumbled.”


Yeah, because her strength was coming home.”


Yeah, because I think she thought she had to be just as low and just as vile what she had working out there. What's ironic is she was so weak.

In ways, you guys have been strong in changing and doing things for the better. I think getting that guy out of there was one of the best decisions you could have made. It's funny, because I think the whole place out there is going to fold like a house of cards. They think they've got you guys over a barrel, but you've got them.”


Yeah, and tomorrow, when we talk to those guys up there and get them hired, it's going to be a serious wake up call to the ones at the distributorship. They'll come in thinking they're going to work and they'll see guys there doing their jobs.

When we call the meeting and tell them we can do without them, where are they going to go? They'll either have to play it our way, or face being terminated. I think the unemployment you've said we'll have to pay is going to be worth it.”


Well hon, let's finish this with your dad. Just keep him occupied for a moment and I'll get the limo wiped and swept. I'll wash it tomorrow.”


I pulled into the garage and parked. When everyone got out, I already had the Armor All wipes. They stepped out and I stepped in. Joan smiled and Mark shook his head.

When I stuck my head back out the door, they were still standing there and Ty handed me the sweeper. I swept out and got out coiling the cord and hanging it on the wall.”


Joan smiled and said, “Tomorrow, you are going to Quincy to get suits, right?”


Yeah, as well as going to speak to the truck drivers. But, sometime, I've got to wash the limo and do the order for flowers.”


She looked at me and said, “When's Wendy's body going to be made ready?”


It's ready, all I have to do is dress her and put her in the casket. After that, she'll be ready for the beautician. Then, we'll have the visitation. First thing this afternoon, when I have a chance, I've got to email the obituary to the papers and, then, we're set.”


Is there anything I can do?”


Not that I can think of. The detailer will get the limo in the morning, and he'll get it washed. Then, Ty and I will go over to get Mitch.”


So, Ty's going to stay with you?”


I would like him to, but I also would like to have him stay with Mitch.”


Mitch? You want to come over to our place?”


Yeah, let Ty have his time with Lance. I'll be fine over there.”


Ok, Mitch, what I needed to speak with you about is something on my mind. Could you come in my office with me alone, so I can do what I need to, while I talk?”




Ty, stay out here for a moment, we won't be long.”


We went into the office and I said, “Mitch, I'm putting Ty on my insurance and he'll be driving the Escalade.”


What are you going to be driving?”


I'm going to be driving the flower van, or one of the other cars, but what I'm doing right now is getting his Escalade ordered. They'll get the order tomorrow, and then, they'll send me a total of what it will be.

The reason I'm telling you is, so you cancel his insurance on that car. It's going to be parked in this garage and no one will drive it with it being in the shape it is.”


He was supposed to have gotten a new car.”


Yes, and your wife went back on you guys word to him. He did his part and graduated, but she wanted that Mercedes and she got it by breaking her word to him.”


He could tell I wasn't happy and then, I looked up at him.


Mitch, I'm not saying what I really feel here, because my anger's not to be aimed at you. The person who should be hearing what I feel is dead and if she were here, believe me, she'd be getting an earful. She got Gregg what he had coming and then she thought of herself first. That's a fucking pathetic excuse for a mother, if you ask me.”


I composed myself and said, “I'm sorry Mitch. But the sound of his voice when he told me what she did. Man, I'm not going to cry here. But, Mitch, she kept you in the dark as to what vile shit she did so she could play you to get a fucking Mercedes. Excuse me, but she deserves what she got.”


He looked at me and said, “I'll pay for the Escalade.”


No you won't. It's a business vehicle and as my partner, he's beyond that. I'm doing it because that boy's been driving a car he jokingly refers to as a Flintstones car because he can put his feet through and touch the ground! What a mother! I wonder if she'd felt anything if his feet had gone through and it killed him. I hope she enjoyed the Mercedes.”


Mitch came over and said, “You only get pissed when someone is done wrong, you love, don't you.”


That bad thing is the person who has been done the dirtiest and who I'm worried about the most is you. When the anger comes about everything she did to you, I'm going to have to be alone and go through a whole cycle of martial arts to work until I'm so exhausted I can't move or punch any more.”


He came over and hugged me. “Lance, don't worry about me.”


I can't help it. Each of you has been through hell and each of you suffered. Earlier, I crossed a line and told Ty I'd probably hit her in her mouth and the anger I feel is surfacing.”


It's hard to keep it in. Anger, hurt, and pain surfaces in so many ways. When I felt that way, I'd go and do plumbing. It may not seem like it, but that was my therapy.”


I understand. Still, you've not broken down and I know her being gone has to hurt. It'd kill me if Ty was gone.”


You don't understand. I mourned the loss years ago.

What I dealt with after the loss was for the boys. I tried to keep them from her, but I wasn't always able to get it done.

What I got told in regards to Ty's car was he wanted to wait until he was done with college. I should have asked him if that's what he wanted, but I trusted what she told me.

You're right. I hope she enjoyed the Mercedes, because it's the last car she ever would have gotten from me. You see, when Gregg and Ty were finished with college, I already decided to get the divorce. In my safe at the house are the divorce papers. No one knows they're there, and no one will know about them except us.”


I wondered when you were going to let go. Now, I know. I'm still going to be here for you, because I know you loved her. Although it's probably gone, there's still a sense of loss.”


He smiled at me and said, “Ty still has a sense of perfection with her. He thinks once she met you, she'd have liked you. I'll tell you now, with the way you are and the way she was, I'd hate to see the way things would have turned out if you'd gone into a room with her. I'm afraid she would have had a heart attack.”


Yes, and I would have never gotten it fully explained to Ty.”


Well, thank Heaven for small favors.”


I guess, but this is a wrong way to feel.”


Tell me about it. I thought that for years. She'd sleep next to me and I'd think, “If I did what I wanted to this woman, she'd be found with a pipe wrench sticking out of her skull.”


He began tearing up and said, “It wasn't always that way. I keep saying it, but I also dread the day when someone asks me why I stuck around. The only reason I can give is I did it for the boys. If you really look at it, I did it for her too, because I would have fought for custody and she would've lost. The alcohol was such a problem, I would have asked for guarded visitation with her submitting to a Breathalyzer before the visits. She would have failed, but by then, she would have already been dragged through the mud because word would have gotten out.”


Mitch, tonight you're wanting to go to Joan's. Tomorrow, Ty and I are going to need to speak with you about another business we're going to be getting into.

Ty thought of it and it makes sense. So, I'm going to go ahead with it. If you want to put what money he had for a car in, he can look at it as his.

He's having a problem with me giving all of what I have. I've told him your relationship with her was 50/50 when you said, “I do” and when you made the kids, but he is continually being reminded of what she said to you in arguments.

Yes, I think it was self centered, and yes, I think it was selfish, but if you'd do me the favor of telling him each of you put in and each of you shared, I'd appreciate it.”


He looked at me and said, “Lance, he's going to have problems, because he's afraid of things ending up like his mom and I. His insecurity is going to be he's not put in what you have.”


I tell him that's not what I'm wanting. He just doesn't hear it.”


If you'd heard the things she said, you'd be afraid too.”


Well, hopefully, some day, he'll believe me.”


He will. It's just going to take time. Gregg is going to feel differently because he's looked at as the provider in their relationship.

Call it a boy/girl thing, but that's the way it is. When two guys get together, if one's not equal, there's probably going to be insecurity. With his mom and me, we went into it together, but when she got the distributorship, she was viewed as the breadwinner in our family. Now, I'll tell you a secret and she only put what I did into our household. She was down to the penny on that.

Someplace, is an account of what she put the rest into. When we find that account, I'm going to split it up for the boys. I don't want the money. Do me a favor, when he gets it, and let him in as a partner.”


I looked at Mitch and my first thought was “NO”, but for Ty's sake, I knew I had to. “Mitch, the first thing I wanted to say was No. But, for Ty's sake, I know I can't. What I'll do is invest it into the business and do the other side. Then, I'm going to call it even no matter what it is.”


Mitch smiled at me and said, “You might want to rethink that. I know her first year she worked there, she made over a quarter of a million and only brought home thirty thousand. I know last year, she put more money on her back in clothes than what I made and she bragged once when we were out she'd made over a million last year, just from the interest on the account. So, I'd say the account is really large.”


I looked at him and said, “Oh.”


He laughed and said, “So, I'm thinking there's going to be a lot of money in it.”


What was weird was I couldn't say anything anymore. Suddenly, Ty had more money than me and he's thinking he's poor. I looked at Mitch and said, “Mitch, he thinks he's poor.”


He thinks that, but he doesn't know. The kids are thinking she put her money into the house. I forbid her to mention it in front of the kids.

If she had, I can guarantee you she'd been single that night. A man's got only so much pride he can give up and that was the line with me. She knew that and she knew she was dancing on that line by just mentioning the account.”


That money's rightfully yours.”


It's rightfully an inheritance. Don't fight me on this one. I don't want it. The kids are going to have that wake up call and they're going to think bad of me, but what I do know is it's going to come down and I'm not going to take a dime of it. I got what I had coming when she brought the money into the house.”


I looked at him and thought to myself, “The bitch would screw your kid out of a car, when she could buy it herself. But, she'd do what you asked when it came to money. How unreal.


Mitch looked at me and said, “I can see the gears turning, and I know you're thinking something, but I don't know what it is. Please don't think badly of me.”


Mitch, I'm not thinking that at all. It's ironic she'd buckle to you on the money issue, but she'd fuck your son out of a car.”


He smiled, “I'd like to introduce you to my wife, because that's her. Did I mention she wasn't always the nicest person!”


I'm wondering what she would have done if you'd put your foot down more.”


She had to be her own person, too.”


And that included putting you through hell.”


She did it because I let her down. She wanted me to be the strong one. I didn't want it.”


I've got one more question and, we've got to go.”


What is it?”


How much of her bad attitude was her and how much of it was her reflection of the people out in that office?”


I think she had a crop of assholes out there. When one came into harvest, she came home in a mood.

I also think she had to drink in order to be as mean as they were back to them. When she went to work out there, she was sweet, kind, and caring. The bad attitude didn't start coming out until she started drinking.”


Drinking loosens inhibitions. It comes out as a truth serum in people a lot of times. That's why I'm wondering what she really thought of you all. If she said those things, she thought them. That's what I'm thinking, but I don't know why.”


Because she wanted to be the one home. She wanted me to face those guys. Imagine, if I was standing in front of the boys and she was aiming a shot gun at me. With her words, she did that. What the boys got was blow by. I tried to protect them, but they still got hit.”


Man, I can't even begin to imagine what you went through.”


It's over now, so let's get on with life. I'm really excited to do so because I know I've already been through hell.”


Ok, bud, I'm just so sorry.”


Everyone else is, but the time for that is gone. What you see is the phoenix already rising from the ashes. Just know it was going to fly when the boys graduated.

What's funny is she got the last laugh about the money, because I was planning on them finding out about it when she suddenly began living lavishly. I thought they'd see it as her keeping it from me. Now, they'll know I was keeping it from them because I wouldn't let her bring it into the house.”


Don't tell them that. Just tell them you found the account and want them to have the money. The burden of proof is on her and she can't tell them differently.”


Ooh, that's shrewd.”


No, that's the best way out of this situation. It's best for the boys, for you, and for letting the matter drop.”


He smiled and said, “When that time comes, I want you there so you can break it to the boys. If it's up to me, I'll probably tell them the truth.”


OK, but let's let this be the last secret we have to keep.”


He smiled at me and said, “You're really a good guy.”


I try to be, but this situation is way over my head.”


I know, but surprisingly, I thought it was normal for a long time.”


Normal is where mom and dad love each other and the kids are enriched by it. Yes, there are ups and downs, but nothing like this has been normal. Believe me, I deal with normal everyday and it doesn't have my head swimming like this.”


He smiled and said, “Do me a favor and give Ty normal. I'll go the rest of my days thanking you.”


You got it.”


We went out of the office with my arm across his shoulder.


When we went out into the garage, everyone was looking at us with questioning eyes.


The Escalade's ordered and your dad is taking the insurance off your car. He wanted to buy the Escalade for you, but I told him it was a business expense.

While we were in there, a credit report came back from your mom. She's got an account someplace and the bank there needs to speak to you guys.”


He looked at me and said, “What!”


Yeah, it's quite a sum. A bank doesn't search for you if it's not. So, we need to look it up and I'll do that. Then, we'll call and see. Ok?”


Joan looked at me, and turned to Mark. “Mark, did you know about an account?”


No, and I thought I handled all of her transactions. Well, would it be a retirement account?”


Could be. Did it have a lot of money going into it?”


Oh yeah, but I thought you knew about it Mitch?”


No, it escaped me.”


I swore she had your signature on the papers. I'll check.”


She required my signature on every paper for everything. Maybe she put it in with those.”


Mark looked at us strangely and said, “Guys, if it's a retirement account, it rightfully should go to Mitch, but it'd be an inheritance, so it'd be tax free. I

do know this. She invested it heavily into stocks that did really well. It seemed she was on the mark when investing in the stock market. I'll check to see with the fund she put it into, because they were the one that handled that. I do know she had their number so she could switch it at will.”


Mitch said, “Can you put it into the boys' names?”


Yeah, it's rightfully yours, but if you don't want it, they can't make you take it. If you name the boys as who you want it to go to, they'll get it. Are you sure?”


Mark, as much as she harranged me about money, I'll be damned if she ever said she did a thing for me she didn't want to do. Obviously, she had no intentions on me having the money. It's her money, so give it to the boys.”


Ty looked at us and said, “Dad? Why didn't she tell you?”


Hon, your mom used money like she used everything else. You know the way she was. She felt empowered if she could hold it over my head.”


Ty went over and hugged his dad. “This makes me mad. All those times she was complaining, she knew she had that account and could have done more.”


Mitch looked at me and I could see his eyes begging me, “Ty, let's not put the cart before the horse. It might not be that much. She might have a few dollars in there.”


Mitch smiled and Ty said, “You just said it's got to be a lot.”


Yeah, but maybe the guy's real fastidious about doing his job. Let's go home and worry about this later. It might not be anything.”


Mark looked at us and said, “I'll call first thing tomorrow. Is it ok if I ride up with you guys tomorrow?”


Yeah, we're going to be doing a lot of errands, but togetherness would feel good.”


He smiled and said, “Well, I want to talk with you guys about a few things. The hotel's plans are going to be going on hold so we can do a redraw of the plans. Lance, Joanie wants you in on the redraw if you'll do it.”


Sure, I don't know much about a hotel, but I am familiar with hotel supply and Joan? Have you been to the hotel supply place in St. Louis?”


No, I got their catalog, but I've never been there.”


Oh, we've got to go shopping. They've got that place set up like a huge hotel. Each room is done differently with all the furniture they have and all the different accessories they've got. Plus, they give you a discount if you buy it by the room. That suite up there is one whole room from the refrigerator to the bed...even the faucets were bought there.”




Yeah, they've got the catalog and quite a bit of their stuff isn't even in the catalog.”


She looked at Mark and said, “We've got to go.”


How about on Thursday. It'll be good to do it as a reliever from the funeral on Wednesday.”


Joan smiled and Mark said, “Well, I've got a favor to ask, because I know how it is to drive in the city. The boys are going to be home and I imagine they'll want to go, so could we take your pall bearer car? The reason I'm asking is I can just imagine driving in two vehicles or more and getting separated.”


Sure, I told you guys you didn't need to ask. It'll be a pleasure and what'll be nice is it's no different to drive than a normal car or limo. We can all share the driving.”


Mark smiled and said, “I've never driven a limo, but it looks difficult.”


No, have you driven a truck?”




Well with the limo, you have to use your mirrors more because you can't see out the back. With the pall bearer car, it's open like a normal car, but it's as long as the limo...well, a little longer, but you can turn your head and see to pass and turn it around.”


Mark said, “I'll drive, that sounds like it'd be a treat.”




Joan came over and said, “I'm really glad we found you, because I sure didn't know all that. It'd been a kick if I'd found it after we'd gotten it built.”


Yeah, Heather's going to love the trip because she's just the person you need to do all this stuff. That girl can hold a laptop and a digital camera at the same time and get every shot in. They got to the point they sent her around with a maids cart so she'd not have to carry it.”


Oh, I never thought of that. We could take photos of the ones we like and get them into their own files as to the cost and everything. This is going to really help.”


Yeah, but what you might want to do is talk with them because if you've got the sizes of the suites, they can help you design them.”




Yeah, they did that one up there and all I had to do was tell them which one I wanted and the size of the space. They did everything else. I don't know if it matters, but that one came in at sixteen thousand. It would have been forty eight hundred more with the heat and ac unit. Those things are expensive.”


If you don't mind, we'd like to look into the heating unit you were discussing.”


Ok, I'll get ahold of my cousin and he'll be able to help you with that.”


I handed the keys to Ty and we all got into the Escalade. He adjusted the seat and , the mirrors and said, “This is going to be way different to drive as I'm not used to being able to put my foot where it's supposed to go.”


Everyone heard him and Joan said, “What do you mean Ty?”


My car's the Flintstone mobile. There's a huge hole in the floor of it on the driver's side and on the passenger side, is a small one, big enough though, that one of my school books fell out once.”


Joan gave a startled look and said, “Well, I'm glad Lance is having you drive his vehicles. That's not safe.”


Well, I was going to get a car when I graduated, but mom sort of took that out of the picture.”


What do you mean?” Joan asked. I saw Mitch and he sort of cringed.


Well, to be honest, she wanted her Mercedes and it's about the time I was to get my car I was promised at graduation, so guess who got their car?”


Mitch said, “Ty, I'm sorry. Your mom told me she'd discussed it with you and you two agreed you'd get a car for graduating college.”


No, she told me to drive that car I had until the end of college and she'd see if there was money for me to get a car. I knew she wanted the Mercedes and she told me she was going to get it no matter what and not to give her no sass about it.”


I'm sorry Ty. I never knew about that conversation. I wish you'd come to me about it.”


If I had, dad, there would have been a big fight and you know she'd have held it against me, so why bother? It doesn't matter, I've got this to drive until I get the other one, so that's nice.”


Joan was pissed. Her lips told me her anger. They were flat as can be pressed together. She turned to Mitch and said, “Well, one thing, you can rest peacefully there's nothing else being kept from you, and the boys aren't playing second to her whims. That car she traded in for the Mercedes could have gone to Ty and it was a nice car.”


Ty said, “Heck, I'd loved to have that car. Me driving a Seville CTS! Sheesh, I'd have been the envy of everyone at school. But, that's ok. When I pull up in this, everyone's going to ask me who did the customization of it.”


Ty, yours is going to be a bit different. It's going to be white, but the interior is going to be gray leather and the walls will be gray suede. I thought the gray suede seats would take a beating, so I ordered leather. They're the same style, though.”


Neat. And it has the digital dash you told me about?”


Yeah digital everything and it's going to have the GPS Sirius in it. The mirrors fold in automatically when you put it in park and the running boards fold out. One thing they have new is side running lights that are all led and the carriage bars light up like diamonds. I did put the name of our funeral home in the door. I'll have to have these changed.”


He looked at me and said, “What do you mean?”


Well, since this one has my last name, I thought we'd have both our names on the funeral home when you join, so it got put on the order form.”


His eyes misted up and I put my arm over and touched his. “Pull over hon before you wreck us.”


He pulled over and I handed him my kerchief. He wiped his eyes and said, “Guys, I really love him. He surprises me in the best ways.”


Mitch touched my arm and said, “I'm glad we got him as a family, too.”


Joan said, “If I could do as well for my boys as we did for yours, I'll be doing good. Little Mark's not really ready yet, and Jake's so quiet he's almost mute. Mark tells me he talks, but the boy says more with his eyes, to me, than words.”


I looked at her and said, “ Take the time to sit with him and talk. He'll open up.

I used to be the same way when I was younger. For me, the phrases, “Be seen and not heard” and “Silence is Golden” were my mottoes I lived by. The only way you knew I was alive was by hearing my stereo in my bedroom running...my parents used to say.

What's funny is when I was in my shell, only Heather was able to talk with me. When I came out of my shell, everyone knew what I thought.”


When was that?”


Well, to be honest, when I was in high school, I was really quiet. I was so afraid everyone would know what I was thinking, I stayed quiet.”


Because you were gay?” Joan asked with concern.


Yeah, it was tough, because Tony and I were together and I was living a double life. My parents thought I was going to bed at ten pm, and I'd act like I was going to bed, but at eleven o'clock, I'd be out the door and by eleven thirty, I'd be in Quincy at a bar being a social butterfly. Then, I'd come home and sneak back in and go back into my cocoon until the next night. Heather knew some, but she didn't know it all. I had to keep a lot of secrets.”




The chance of my parents finding out was one. Even bigger was if everyone else found out at high school. They threw words around in that place that hurt because I knew I was gay. Where it might roll off other people's backs, it didn't mine because I knew those words were true.


Heather knew, and she kept a lot of secrets for me. We were voted the boy and girl most likely to marry because we were seen as a couple from very early on. She knew my secret, and I knew if she had her way, I'd been getting married to her. It couldn't have ever worked, because I would have been miserable.”


Joan looked at me and said, “Jake might be gay?”


Oh no! I didn't' say that. All I'm saying is that's why I stay quiet. Things are different today; Kids can be open and they're accepted. The anti-bullying and zero tolerance stopped all the harassment.”


Not if they're in on an athletic scholarship to Dartmouth. He's told Mark he's expected to perform to his utmost abilities or he's out. So, he's constantly afraid. Oh my!”


Joan, please don't think that. If you'd like, I'll speak to him. I'm sure there's probably another reason. Maybe it's the pressure of school.”


She looked at Mark and looked really distressed. I felt like a heel for talking and not thinking she was taking it in for a different reason.


I'm sorry for alarming you. If I thought you were listening to me and applying it towards him, I sure wouldn't have said anything.”


No, I'm glad you did. He needs to know if that's the reason, we love him and we accept him. I don't want my baby thinking I'm going to accept him for being anything other than who he is.”


Mark looked up at me and said, “Lance, he'll be in tomorrow afternoon. Jake's plane gets in first, and then Mark's. They're meeting at the airport and renting a car to get up here.

How about if you two come over tomorrow night for supper and that will show him we're accepting of you guys. Then, you and Ty can go with the boys and do something.”


Uncle Mark, I hate to say this, but Jake will tell us he doesn't want to go. Mark will be dressed before the words are out of our mouths. That's the way they are.

Jake will say, “No, I'll stay at home” and he'll go to his room. I asked Mark what he does in his room and he said every time he goes in there, Jakes lying on the bed with his hands up under his head like he's content to do only that.”


Well, that's what he does when I go in. For me to speak to him, I have to go to him and then when I do, it's short answers. Not impolite, but just short, like he doesn't think his thoughts matter.”


Ok, so I'm getting a better picture here. What does he do for fun?”


He writes. The stories he rights are beautiful. He uses words so powerfully, he uses them for impact. One word can hit you and you know you've been hit. But, they're amazing stories.”


What are they about?”


Joan smiled and said, “One was about a dog that was lost in a storm and all of the things it did and all the things that frightened it while it was lost. How big and scary the world looked in the dark and in the rain. Then, it saw it's master's house and knew it was home.

I cried when I read that story because he used one word. Thunder. And then, wrote a paragraph describing it's vibrating pulsing sound echoing inside it's ribcage. Then, he used the word Lightning. And described how it's eerie light flashed and made ghosts and goblins out of things it knew weren't supposed to be scary.

Another paragraph was Darkness. And describing the darkness of the path it was used to walking everyday and how it could see to know where he was, during the daylight, but the ebony of night time took that away.”


Wow. Now, I'm going to ask some questions here. Was the dog a boy or a girl?”


Joan looked at Mark and said, “I don't think it said. I don't think it mattered to him.”


Well, a true wordsmith won't, because the reader will assume the sex they are. Any interjection by the author of sex will be subtle, but it will tell the reader what the writer won't. It's more powerful if the reader assumes it's their sex.

The darkness and storm could mean anything. But, it reaching home gives a completion of overcoming the obstacle. It's a very compelling story because it's heart warming and the reader feels good afterwards.”


She looked at me and said, “You took a lot of psychology.”


Oh yeah. You know how much I had to take. I imagine you had to take a lot.”


Not as much as you think. I went into this as a nurse assistant and then went to medical technician and then went to prescription tech at the pharmacy. After that, I went in and took the courses I needed to get my administrative credentials.

They used what I had taken and carried them over to the degree. I was only short a few credits, so they had me do those courses over the summer.

You know how Summer courses are. They're basically a hand out of credit hours with some teachers because they don't require much home work or studying. I used those to get my degree. You're looking at a Director of Nurses who wasn't a nurse.”


Wow. You snuck in the back door!”


Don't tell them and I won't!” She chuckled.


Well, you're very effective. I'm proud of you.”


Thanks. Maybe it's because I wasn't a nurse that I believe in helping everyone in a hospital from housekeeping to the maintenance people to the nurses and doctors. If I was biased towards nurses, they'd be the ones getting my focus.”


True. So, what I'll do is I'll talk to Jake and draw him out. He won't even know I'm doing it. But, what I'm not going to do is psychoanalyze him. If he's a normal boy, I'll not look for anything that's not there. It's not up to me to do that, but instead, what I'll do is to find common ground and do it so he doesn't even realize No is not the answer I'm looking for.”


She smiled and said, “He'll have a good time. What do you think you guys will end up doing?”


Well, my advice is we make it something everyone will enjoy and no one will feel pressured to perform. A movie is something that is pretty neutral, but one might like action whereas another might hate them. So, what I'll do is raid my piggy bank and we'll go to the arcade. Then, he can pick what he wants and everyone else can pick what they want.”


Mark smiled and said, “Can I go?”


I'd say yes, but I think the conversation's going to be flowing all over the place and he might feel pressured if it gets onto the topic of parents and expectations and you are sitting there.”


Mark frowned and said, “I don't think I imposed anything on him he didn't want.”


No, I didn't say that. I'm sure you asked for good grades and how would you feel if you found out after all this time, he's dyslexic or something? I know he's not because you said he wrote the story, but that's what I'm saying that there might be a hurdle there you didn't think about.”


Joan said, “Maybe he's just a normal boy.”


Yeah, and if that's it, that's the answer I'll tell you. Heck, I'd rather him be normal and know I've gained a friend than to know he's sat at home on his bed while everyone else went out and did something fun.”


Well, that doesn't sound like fun to me.” said Joan, “But, maybe he writes the stories while he lays there. Then, puts them down on paper.”


Do you have the stories? Maybe there's a theme to them.”


Sure, I keep everything the boys have given me.”


Can I see them? Maybe I'll find he's the next huge writer and he's an aspiring author. Wouldn't that be cool?”


You'll love his writing.” she said proudly.


Ty began pulling up their hill and said, “Man, this truck's got power. My car has to have a run at this hill. If I don't, about half way up, I'm wondering if I'm going to make it to the top.”


Mitch once again looked pained and I reached over the seat and patted his leg. He looked up and I said, “Things are working out. Don't worry.”


He smiled and I said, “Mitch, in that story, the dog made it home. You're now on the front porch, so the best part's coming.”


He held my hand and said, “Having the strength of walking through the door and hoping the master isn't upset with me is where it's going to be tough.”


I”m sure they're missing you as much as you missed them. So, let's just not be afraid anymore.”


The smile on his face wasn't matching his eyes until I said that. Then, he nodded.


Remind me to give you a hug. You know just what to say at the right time.”


Joan clasped our hands and said, “He's doing everyone good. I'm glad we got him.”


She turned to me and said, “When we're having the visitation, you're going to be hearing nothing but praise about your abilities from me to others, so be standing close by.”


Mitch said, “I'm going to be telling all the guys to go upstairs and check out that bathroom!”


Joan laughed and said, “I'm going to be saving that for the hard sell old women. Once they see that, they'll know he takes care of the details.”


When we pulled up, she asked, “You guys coming in?”


No, we'll be going home. I love family, but the thought of snuggling with him on the sofa and watching whatever he chooses sounds like more of a plan to me.”


Mitch said, “What time tomorrow?”


Well, it depends. You want to eat breakfast with us?”


Joan said, “No, he'll have it here.”


Ok, make it about nine thirty. I want to be there at ten fifteen even though the appointments at ten thirty. That way we have a little browsing time.”


He nodded and said, “I'll tell Gregg and Heather.”


Ok, he's got his cell?”


He keeps his on him at all times.”


Oh that reminds me, I've got to get Ty a cell phone. We can do that tomorrow. It can go on my plan.”


Ty said, “I've got three months left on my contract.”


Who's your provider?”




Good, that's mine. I'll call them and explain they'll be gaining more if they let me switch your number over to my plan rather than being hard nosed and me dropping everything I have with them in search of someone who will treat us better.”


Joan smiled and said, “Good luck, guys.”


They got out and I got out too so I could give them hugs. Ty stayed in the driver's seat and gave kisses and hugs through the window.


When I got back in the truck, he backed up carefully and made the turn around beautifully. I held his hand and said, “You used the mirrors like a pro.”


It'll take some getting used to, but I love this truck.”


Me too. It's awesome, isn't it.”


Yeah, I was afraid I hurt my dad's feelings there.”


Nah, we talked about it in my office.”


Oh man, did he feel bad?”


Yeah, but not at you. He did say he wouldn't want to leave me alone in a room with your mom when we had our talk though.”


Ty giggled and said, “Oh man, that would have been a battle.”


Yeah, but the bad part is I think your mom and I would have ended up not liking each other. She would know I wouldn't put up with crap and that sounded like it was what her buffet consisted of, mostly.”


It's funny, because my dad once said, “I wonder how she's going to serve the shit salad tonight,” in front of me. I thought it was funny, but then he made sure I knew he didn't mean it. I know he did, but he pretended anyways.”


That's why I said what I did to him. He needs to realize you boys are going to love him, no matter what.”


What do you mean? He knows that.”


No, he doesn't, because you should have seen him when I found out about that money. He's afraid you two are going to hold him accountable for it.”


Did you get a clue as to how much it is?”


Ty, I didn't say it in front of everyone, but they only do that for really really good customers...if you know what I mean.”


He looked at me and said, “You mean?”


Yeah, I'd say there's several million in that account.”


Oh jeez.”


Yeah, at first your dad was mad and then, he instantly thought you and Gregg would hold it against him.”


I know he didn't know it was there. She wouldn't have talked to him the way she did if he knew it. You don't know how often she held what he made over his head. It seemed like every time they'd argue, she'd tell him they'd have more if he made more.”


Well, let's just say apparently everyone knew about it that wasn't in your house. It seems your Uncle Mark knew about it.”


That has to suck for Dad.”


Yeah, and he's afraid you two are going to hold it against him. That's why I told him to step through the door because he needs to know that's the last secret, and you two love him after it.”


What if she kept something else from us all?”


Will it affect you loving your dad if he didn't know about it either?”




" Then, it shouldn't matter.”


No, it won't. I've got to call Gregg and tell him.”


How about if we go over there and see them?”


They might be doing the wild thing.”


And wrinkling my sheets!” I said with mock anger.


He laughed and said, “IF I had my way, we'd be doing the same thing at your house.”


At WHOSE house?”


At your......oh, I'm sorry, OUR house.”


There, I'll break you of that bad habit yet.”


If there's a lot of money in that account Lance, I want you to have my share to put it into the business.”


What if I said it wouldn't take that?”


I'd tell you to either take it or find it stuffed in places you least expect it. So, please take it, so I'll feel better about it.”


Hon, how about if I put it into the building of that addition?”


That'd be great!”


Well, if there's a lot of money in the account, and half's yours. , what are you going to do with the rest?”


I don't know. Do you think there's more than that?”


I don't know. I can't tell you.”


Can't tell me, or won't tell me? I think you know more than what you're saying.”


Hon, what if I told you the person that I spoke to on the phone told me the interest accumulated just last year from that account was over a million dollars.”


Holy Crap!”


Now, you can't tell anyone and I mean not even Gregg, because that person telling me that, could lose his job.”


Lance, I swear. Jeesh. What am I going to do with that kind of money?”


That's what I was asking you, because here's the next one. You heard Mark say it was tax free so what I'd tell you to do with it is make sure you put it into things you're not going to get taxes on later.”


What do you mean?”


Ok, I'll give you a lesson in taxes. If you take that money and invest it into accounts that draw interest, then you're taxed on that interest. That's not a bad thing, because that's money you made on it.

The same goes in real estate. You pay real estate taxes every year, but if you sell it, you don't pay taxes on it unless you sell for a profit. But, then I'd tell you to average it over three years and then, you'd suffer that over three years. Unless you were reinvesting it into more real estate you were planning on selling at a profit soon.”


That wasn't clear. That was confusing.”


OK, what I'd do with the money, if I were you, would be to invest it into real estate or put it into an account where you had the interest. Is that clearer?”


What sort of real estate?”


Hon, here's the deal on the funeral home. Because I think you're going to try to switch the game rules on me when you find out how much there is.”


Do you know how much there is?”


No, I don't know that, but I'll tell you this. If your mom invested wisely, she's getting a return of ten percent on her money which was good. So that means there's ten million in that account.

If she invested poorly, and is only getting five percent, that means there's twenty million in that account. Bad for her, but good for you and Gregg.”


You mean!”


Yeah, somewhere in between. Now, let's say you've got half of ten million. Then, you've got five.

What I'm going to tell you is, I'm not taking anything more than the money for the addition. I know you've got money and you are going to want to pay for half the overall cost of the funeral home, but Ty, I won't take it.

To me, your investment is the addition and that's what you want to do. For me, you don't have to even do that, but I understand your point.”


Ok, what else does the funeral home need?”


Nothing really, except another funeral van and another pall bearer car. We've got an extra limo and we've got the extra hearse. Anything else would be pissing it away and I don't want you to do that.”


Then order the van and the car and tell them to start the construction of the addition.”


Let's wait and see how much is there first.”


Oh ok, but Uncle Mark could know that tonight. So, what else? Do you want that flower shop?”


Ty, if we do, then we go 50/50 on it and we do what we can to pinch pennies. I'm not made of money, and I'm not taking yours. Now, if you want to know, what I was thinking is this....you'll have a couple of million left over, so why don't you speak to your dad, aunt and uncle about investing it with them into that hotel, or in a hotel somewhere where they need one bad?”


Where's that?”


I don't know, but it seems to me people wouldn't be investing in them if there wasn't money in them, so either do that or do something in the name of your mom.”


Like hell. She got that money and kept it from us. As far as I'm concerned, she can see it's going on something she wouldn't have invested it in.”


Ok, but don't just be doing it to spite her. Let's talk about these things first.”




He smiled and said, “Babe, you don't know how this makes me happy. I feel like I'm actually a part of this relationship, now.”


Isn't it funny what a dollar will do when I told you a dollar didn't matter.”


I know what you said..... Oh, I'm sorry.”


No, I know it means something to you, but it didn't matter to me. What if I didn't have money and you did. Would it matter?”




Why does it make a difference?”


Oh man, I feel bad.”


See. But that's ok. You feel like you're a part of us now and I'm glad. At least miracles happen.”


He smiled at me and said, “Yeah, and the best one's sitting next to me.”


No, I'd say he's sitting next to me.”


Well, we're both lucky.”


Yes dear, we are, so let's go to the funeral home because I don't want to have you tell Gregg this over the phone.”


He'd shit.”


Yeah, and Heather wouldn't have a clue what happened.”


Oh man, I'm so happy for them. They'll be able to build a house and be able to get married sooner.”


No, he wants to pop the question on the 4th of July.”


If it takes me paying for a fireworks display in February to get him to pop the question sooner, I'll do it.”


There you go pissing it away.” I said, joking.


No, I'm thinking of others. So there! “ He said sticking out his tongue.


Ok, but how about if we just use a skillet and I conk him on the head and he sees stars. Then, he'll think it was the 4th of July.”


He laughed and said, “That would be a tightwads way of doing it, but Heather wouldn't appreciate it.”


I wasn't talking about hitting Heather! She'd kick my ass!”


He laughed and said, “I could see her chasing you with that skillet now. That'd be funny.”


No it wouldn't because you saw how fast she ran with him on her back.”


Yeah, she's tough.”


Yeah, but Gregg sure got showed, didn't he!”


Yeah, you need to teach me that yet.”


I will. How about if I'm there while you tell Gregg and then you two sit and talk about what you're going to do with the money while I go down and get your mom ready.”


Do you have to?”


Hon, it's bugging me, it hasn't been done already. Usually, I'm way ahead of what I've got to do yet.”


Well, you want help?”


Not no, but hell no!”


Lance, it's not going to matter much to me. She can't hurt me anymore.”


No. That's firm. Any other person on the planet except family and I'd say yes, but, No.”




You might want to stop by your house to get the clothes she's to wear.”


Ok, that way I can pick up my clothes and get them taken to your house.”


Whose house?”


Oh man, our house, but I didn't pay you half.”


And you won't. Just take it as that, Ok?”


Ok, by the way, I love that house.”


I love you, so consider it a wedding present.”


Do you really want to get married?”


I'd like a service and to have legal paperwork so you get what's mine if I die and I get what's yours.”


Ok, that's good. I'll pay for the paperwork.”


No, it's a business expense. The funeral home has a lawyer. Let him earn what he makes.”


Ok What else do we have?”


What do you mean?”


We have a lawyer, so do we have an accountant?”


Yeah, and we've got health benefits and a dental plan. I don't have eye glass on it because I don't wear glasses.”


OK, So, you said you'd like a video system. How much will that cost?”


Oh man, I have no clue. What I was thinking about it being a big one that's big enough everyone can see it, so let's say probably twelve feet wide.”


So, you want it wired into the computer system and you want it to hide away?”


Yeah, but I don't know how to do that, because that panel takes up a lot of space up there. It'd have to come down from the ceiling and not be in the way of the casket because I'd want them to see the person and the video”


What's above the ceiling up there?”


The floor above it is three feet above but the joists are two feet above the ceiling.”


And the panel slides between the floor joists?”


Yeah, It's in it's own room up there. I have to get in and make sure everything can be maintained.”


Ok, So, There's a good sixteen feet between it and the casket.”


Fourteen, but that would change if it were a two casket funeral.”


How would you have it in a two casket funeral?”


You know where the lights are for the flowers on each side coming inwards towards the casket at the thirty degree angles?”




Well, those lights are used for the two casket funeral and we have them on the caskets instead. Where the casket is now, we have the flowers.”


You said video is on the caskets at all times, is it ,?”




So, either you have the casket where it is, or you put it over at an angle and put the video up between joists on the same system as the panel. Either that, or you can put the video down and leave it and put it where the flowers are and just have flowers up the sides where the visit lines are so people can see them as they file past.”


That's a good idea.”


What? I threw out about four there.” he said chuckling.


I know, I'm thinking the flowers can go along the sides as there's five feet of walkway there. There's still room to move, but the lights aren't trained on them there. But, we could have the video over behind the curtain where the singers stand.”


Where do they stand?”


To the right of the casket is that curtain. That curtain can slide back and that's where the singers stand. Right behind that wall is the room where the organ is, so we could put the computer in there.”


So you have it over there and the curtain can slide back? Is that a good enough angle so everyone can see it?”


I don't know, maybe we can have it on something that will push out one end so it does it automatically.”


Everything with you is done automatically, isn't it.”


Yeah, if you noticed, I ran a funeral home single handed. So, it has to be done that way.”


Well you've got help now, buddy.”


No, because we're going to be running two funerals at a time.”


After I get out of school. Now, what do I have to go to school for if you've got the embalmer's license?”


Well, you'd want one.”


Not if it's not needed. You're the embalmer dude, if I don't need it.”


Well, if you don't need it, , I could teach you everything, and all you have to do is go take the test to be a funeral director. That's not hard. You probably learned everything you need for that this afternoon if you've got a good memory. I've joked they made that test easy enough a dead person could have a pencil in their hand and fall forward marking down the sheet and pass the test.”


That's not funny but that's funny. “Here, you passed! Now, go do your own funeral!” He giggled.


With a remote control, he could do it at my place.”


Oh man, that's so not right.” He laughed.


Yeah, but you'll be making jokes about it. You'll see.”


Honey, I've got a question. What do we do if the body's are really bad?”


Well, if they're really bad, , I'll tell you what we do. We get the phone call and we go to the house. In the back of the truck here is a haz mat suit and a respirator.

In the respirator is a connector for oxygen because I did it once with just using the respirator and the smell still came through, so now it's got oxygen. Then, what we do is go in with a body bag and we put the body bag on the gurney and we lift the body on. And then, we close it.

When we get back to the funeral home, we take the gurney in and we put a can of air freshener in the truck and we set that baby off like a roach bomb. I'll show you where those lids are. Then as it's making everything right, we go in and take the body bag and we put it into the morgue that has a fan vent that's going through charcoal filters. When the family decides the casket, we put it in it and we seal that puppy up and that's how it's done.”


That's it!”


Yeah, the toughest part is for a drowning in the river. Those aren't pleasant.”


Why not?”

“Because they're hard to reach. We have to go out in a boat, and , we get there and they're over on the shore and we've got to get out and wade and get it into the bag. Now, in the cabinet is a box of those body bags. They're bigger because those bodies are really swollen. Don't be surprised if you see one and it's not all there. They're brownish purple and they kind of squish sometimes when you lift them. It'll be enough to make you gag.”


Can you refuse it?”


I looked at him and said, “Who the hell's going to go get it if we refuse it. That's our job!”




Hon, if it gets to you, I'll tell you how to get over it. You come home and I'll have a nice pot of spaghetti on for you to dive into. If you can get through that afterwards, you're a better man than me!”


He pulled over and I said, “Don't you get sick in this truck!”


He looked me with watery eyes and said, “Subject switch.”


Ok Do you want me to drive?”


No, I can make it, but man you're gross.”


Love ya hon.”




When we get to your house, call your dad and tell him what we're doing. He might think of something he wants.”


What all do you want as far as clothes?”




Shoes too.”




We pulled up and as we walked in, I said, “What do you want from your bedroom?”


Wait a minute and I'll be in there”


I went into his bedroom and looked around. He had photos of him from when he was really little. Him in his little league uniform was adorable. Him at a fair on a horse. Him fishing with someone that probably was a grandparent. Him with probably his uncle because the guy looked like his mom. Other grade school shots. Him at graduation. Prom photos. Other baseball photos. His cd collection. A lot of good tunes there. A matchbox car collection. Baseball trophies. Swimming trophies. Floor hockey photos and a trophy.


He was so good in so many things and his mom ignored it all. I took one look at things and saw his life story. How she ignored it was beyond me. Instead, she seemed to just see the negative.


His computer looked new and really nice. I could tell he was a gamer from the looks of it. The speakers on each side of it were either for music or the games, but they were high end units. Diploma on wall with tassel. Various certificates of achievements, a teddy bear, AFX race track set up in the corner, underneath, a Lionel train set setup on a board on the floor. Photos on the wall of several years of classes he was in, library award for reading.


From behind me, I heard, “What I think is we should just take about everything.”


How about if we wait on some things? You won't need your bed.”


No, I didn't mean that!” he giggled.


Ok, The ball bat's nice, we taking them? We could play pitch and catch.”


The kind I'm wanting to play won't include baseball equipment, so let's leave them until later.”


Ok stud boy. Tell me what to pack.”


On the bed is some trash bags. Just start taking and emptying the drawers into them. I'll get the clothes out of the closet, I want.”


Ok, Do you want the computer?”


Not now, I won't be bored in the bedroom, there.”


Cool. I see you're good at floor hockey. I can hardly wait.”


He laughed and said, “Love ya, dude.”




I know.”


He came over and said, “You know, I'm not depressed like I thought I'd be. I thought I'd have a hard time, but I guess it's because I know I'm going home to be with someone I love. That means a lot to me.”


Me too. It's a little depressing for me, though.”




It's hard for me because I looked through this room and I got your life story. I see photos and with the exception of those over there, showing your grandpa and your uncle, I don't see any of your mom or your dad.”


That's by choice. I didn't want photos of her in here and I couldn't have any of dad without having her, so I left him out, too. She couldn't bitch about grandpa and my uncle. How'd you know who they were?”


Your uncle looks like your mom, and I guessed your grandpa. I don't know which side, but I'd guess hers, since she was insecure.”


You got it.”


That's upsetting.”


Yeah, in the closet there are all my other photos. When we get home, I'll have a room of photos on the walls.”


Your office.”


You don't have an office?”


Yeah, but all the wall space is used there. So, what I thought is we use the bedroom closest to ours as yours and that way you can have your space and the other bedroom can be for the ni-ne kids.”




Yeah, the first two letters of niece and nephew. We know they'll be one or the other, so we'll have Ni-ne kids.”




He came over and hugged me and then laid a lip lock on me which took my breath away. One thing I do know was Longfellow was sure reciting poetry. He felt it and said, “Jeesh, that all you?”


If it's not, I'm not giving it back to who I got it from. Kinda makes me look like a tripod, don't it!”


Wow, I expected nice, but that's a beaut.”


Nah, what I'm feeling is nice.”


Compared to that thing, it's not.”


Ty. Stop.”


He looked at me with hurt feelings and I said, “Whoa dude. Listen up.”




One thing I refuse to hear is you tearing yourself down over size of something you can't control. I got this thing and you got yours. Believe me, I heard the jokes in high school about it in the showers and I'm sure Heather got talked about bad because we were supposed to be together.

To be honest, you don't have problems like I do and you should be thankful. You can wear tighty whiteys and I can't. You can sit down and not have to worry about the unexpected pain of sitting on it because believe me, do it once and you'll tear the house down getting back up and do it in a nice restaurant and dishes clatter. But, you can't stand up and make the announcement of “Sorry folks, just sat on my dick.” Instead, they stare and you get embarrassed. So, give me the chance to trade it and I would. And, think about this. You've been making jokes about wanting me in bed and you see I've not been doing it. You know why?”




Because I know we're going to have problems having sex. It's going to hurt you and that's going to kill me. So, maybe one day we'll get over it, but until then, I'm going to be hating it all the more.”


Lance, didn't I say I loved you?”




And it's a part of you, so get over it. Let me worry about that and you worry about mine. So shush.”




He smiled and said, “Besides, when I fantasized about you, I fantasized about you and making genuine love to you.

So, I got a little more in the bargain than even the fantasy included. So, I'll have to get used to it. So fucking what. Because I'll tell you now, I love you and I'll certainly do that so it doesn't hurt, so you never have to worry again.

Now, if we go to a restaurant and you tear a table up sitting on it, I'll lay down on it and yell, “Fuck me now!” They'll really think we've gone insane and so what if we get asked to leave and can't go back. I bet other restaurants will have us.”


I chuckled and said, “Well, ok!”


He hugged me and said, “When we get home, you are going to make love to me, aren't you?”




NO! Why the hell not!”


Because tomorrow we're getting fitted for suits and I don't want you getting a bow legged suit.”


He laughed and said, “That man who measures you for the suits is going to think I'm a lucky guy.”


I doubt it.”


Why not.”


Because he's the one that told me how to tuck mine so I wouldn't have to be worried all the time. I think he's working with something comparable.”




Hon, those that don't have it, want it. Those that have it, dread it. So, just know I could've starred in porns and made a living. The only thing you've not done yet is ask how big, so don't.”


Ok. I'm sorry.”


Don't be sorry. You just know where I'm vulnerable now and know how touchy I am about it.”


You shouldn't be.”


Size doesn't make the man. What's in here makes him a man. You've got it and I've got it, so what's the difference? Not a damned thing.”




Can I say one other thing before we're done with this subject?”




Don't bring it up in public. I mean no jokes, or anything. Normal people don't, about theirs, so don't about mine and I'll thank you before hand.”


I wouldn't do that.”


Well, some people do. I know they do because I see them snickering and pointing.

Guys in my class remember it and they sure make it a point of saying things. Because we're together, they'll talk about you too and that's going to really piss me off.

Heather's dad knew and that's why he paid for my lessons. He told me, “Son, you've got more at your age than I do at mine. People are going to talk, so you need to know how to defend yourself if they ever want to do more than talk.” That's the real reason my lessons got given to me.”


What was he doing looking at your dick!” Ty asked outraged. “Because if I recall right, you told me you were six when you started your lessons.”


I was. We went out camping and he went out with me to be sure I didn't piss in poison ivy. Until then, I considered mine normal and I was the one who made the comment about his. See I was six years old and had a six inch dick. So, who knew!”


Ok, you've got my word on it. I won't ever embarrass you or anything about it in the future, but promise me one thing.”




Promise me you're not going to stop using it on me even if I find it a little painful at first.”


I can't promise that.”


Bullshit. You can promise it, you've just got to be sure to work with me. If you don't, I'll tell you now, I'll go get some dildos and use them until I can take it and this bud, you better believe me I'll take it.

So now you can either have patience with me, or I'll be sure to get what I need. You are going to make love to me in this relationship, whether you like it or not.”


He was upset.


I promise. I'm sorry. I just don't know how I'm going to do it without hurting you.”


It's going to hurt some. But just be patient and we'll get it so it doesn't. I watch X-Tube, I know it can be done.”


Ok, smut king, we'll work on it.”


He laughed and said, “I'm not smut king, I'm just curious.”


We got the clothes and as we walked out the door of his bedroom he grabbed the teddy bear.


You sleep with your teddy?”


No, he goes where I go. This bears been to college and he's been to Disney and to New York. He'll go on every trip we go on. This little bear's been my only friend sometimes and I'm not going to forget him just because I got older.”


I hugged him and said, “I love you babe. I'm sorry.”


No, you didn't know. Now you do and you now know that if you take me on a secret surprise trip anywhere, I won't go unless you tell me you've packed him.”


Ok What's his name?”


You going to laugh?”




Well, think of all the bears you know on television?”




Now guess.”


Oh sheesh Yogi, Boo Boo, Pooh, am I close?”




You gonna help me?”


Ok, it's a bear.”


Thanks a lot.”


Is it a cartoon bear?”








Come on here, I'm running out of bears.”


No, a bear could out run you. That's why people die.”


Can I have another clue”


Ok, but you're not making it fun.”


Ok, a teeny weeny great big one.”


Only you can put out forest fires.”




Yeah, now aren't you glad you guessed it?”




He held the bear up to his ear and said, “I know you weren't even in the top five. Yeah, I know he must really like forest fires....Well, he is cute. I thought so too.”


Smokey's gay!”


Only for other bears. If you sleep with him, you'll be safe.”


I laughed and said, “Thank him”


He's a teddy bear and now I can tell people you talk to teddy bears.”


Ok, you got me there.”


No, I could've had you at Chili's but I wasn't smooth enough. But, I'm glad I got you.”


We left and went to the funeral home. When we got there, we went up in the elevator and rang the bell. Since I saw Gregg's truck parked there, I knew they were there. I made a mental note to get him a door opener for it.


When we got to the door, I knocked on it and heard a yell on the other side. Then, I hear Heather yell at Gregg, “Ghosts don't knock on doors. They walk through them. Damn!”


Ty chuckled and said, “Man I'd really like to have a sheet right now.”


It'd be funny wouldn't it. Next time, we'll have to wear them.”


Heather opened the door and said, “What you knocking for?”


It's consideration on our part. Besides, ghosts don't knock on doors”


Ty and I chuckled and Gregg looked embarrassed.


Gregg, never seen one since I've been working here. So, don't be worried.”


There's always a first time.”


No, I think if it would have happened, it would have happened by now.”


Ty giggled and said, “Gregg, the reason we're here instead of at home snuggled up together is because we found out something earlier I thought you ought to know. Lance said you needed to hear it in person because you'd faint and , Heather would be pissed because you wouldn't have told her.”




Well, when Dad and Lance were here earlier, They ordered my Escalade and Lance had Dad into the office to tell him he didn't need to keep insurance on my car.

Well, while they were in the office, Lance told Dad about Mom screwing me out of my car for my birthday and it hurt dad's feelings, so Dad offered to buy the Escalade for me. Well, Lance refused because it was a business expense.”


I interjected. “Ty, sometime today. He doesn't care about all this.”


Well he oughta, I got an Escalade!”


Tell him the part about the money.”


What money!” Gregg asked, real excited.


See, I told you.”


Well, as I was saying, they were ordering me this Escalade. It's white with gray leather seats and gray suede interior.”


Tell me about the money, Ty!”


In a minute, I want to tell you about my Escalade.”


Ty, if you don't tell me about the money, I'll strangle you.”


Dang, don't you even want to hear about the bars on the side that light up?”


I promise after you tell me about the money, I'll listen to you tell me about the Escalade.”


No, because you'll be able to afford your own and that will make you forget about mine.”


Heather said, “He does this a lot, doesn't he?”


Just when he knows it really bugs me. Otherwise he forgets to tell me about things.”


Ty rolled his eyes and said, “Well, as I was saying, they were in the office and someone called and spoke with Lance....Oh, I forget his name now.......oh.....what is his name....”


Gregg looked at me and said, “He's about to lose his life.”


I smiled and said, “He thinks he's cute.”


You told me I was”


Well, you are. Remember at Chili's when you walked up and I told you Heather how cute I thought he was!”


She smiled and said, “Yeah.....and remember how you told him you wished he was a cowboy with the ranch dressing!”


Gregg smiled and said, “Arghhh...Will someone please tell me about the money?”


Ty said, “Well if I recall correctly, your order came up to over forty dollars, but I don't know why Gregg wants to hear about that!”


I chuckled and Heather just laughed and said, “Guys, please tell him now. You've got him.”


Ty said, “Well, ok, but as soon as I tell you about the money, you're going to forget about everything else. And, who's to say you haven't already forgotten about my Escalade?”


No I didn't! It's white and it's got gray leather interior and gray suede walls. See I was listening. So tell me about the money.”


Are you sure you don't want to hear more about it because if you'd just listened to me the first time, I'd already be to the part about the money.”


Gregg looked at me and said, “Would you puh-leaze tell me about the money?”




Ty came over and sat on my lap and said, “Now, he's forgot what he was telling you about because all he can think about is later tonight. So, I'll tell you about the money.

A guy called and said he was mom's banker and theres an account that has a lot of money in it. Apparently, dad didn't know about it, so they asked Uncle Mark about it.

It seems mom slipped some paperwork in for dad to sign saying he was ok with this account and she's been shoveling money into the account for like forever.”


Gregg looked at Ty and said, “What!”


Yeah, fucked up huh.”


Yeah, dad didn't know!”


Do you think he knew with the way she bitched at him about telling him if he made more they could have more around there?”


Dad has to be so pissed.”


No, dad doesn't want a thing to do with the money. He said she gave him all the money he wanted her to give, so he wants us to split it up.”


Well, there's probably not much in it.”


That's what I thought, but Lance said they don't call about those accounts because they're small ones They call about large ones.”


So there's a lot of money in it?”




Was mom doing something illegal to get it?”


No, she wasn't telling dad about it, that's all. Apparently she was making it at work and not bringing it home.”


Oh, dad's got to be so pissed.”


Yeah, but he's more worried about what we're going to think than about the money.”




Yeah, he thinks because he didn't know about the account that we're going to think he did and we'll be mad at him. Gregg, I swear, dad didn't know about that account. Do you think he would've taken all her shit all these years if he knew?”


No, that's crazy. Dad shouldn't be worried about what we think. Heck, it's not him I'm pissed at. I'll tell you now that Mom kept that money away and I bet she was going to leave him.”


No, she had Uncle Mark involved. If she was going to do that, I think she wouldn't have had Uncle Mark in it.”


Then what was she doing? Because it sure wasn't smart not telling dad and putting it away. She could've brought it into the house all these years and..... Oh shit Ty, you've got to feel bad. What she did about your car. Oh man Ty, I'm so sorry.”


No, you didn't do a thing. It was her own selfishness.”


Yeah, and look what it cost her. She screwed you to get that car and hid it from dad. I bet she hid a lot more from him. Man, dad has to feel so bad.”


He does, but he's worried what we'll think.”


Well, What I think is we've all been played by her.”


Well, we got it now, so it serves her right.”


How much do you think?”


A lot. Uncle Mark's supposed to get ahold of the guy and see.”




He was supposed to do it tonight.”


Well, call him!”


No, you do it. I don't want to seem like I'm rushing them.”


I stepped in and said, “Let me call and find out what they found.”


Heather looked at me and said, “Lance, can I speak with you before you call?”


Sure, hon.”




I looked at her strangely and she said, “Let's go in here.”


She walked into the bedroom and I said, “What's up, sis?”


Something doesn't add up, so I'll tell you because I think you're in up to your neck in this.”


Ok hon, tell me fast and I'll tell you if you're in the ball park.”


Well that tells me there's more than what I'm hearing but the thing I heard in there was a banker called today and today's Sunday. Bankers don't work on Sunday, so tell me the fucking truth.”


Hon, I can't.”


Why the hell not!”


Because I promised;”


You're telling me Mitch knew about the account?”


I can't tell you.”


That means he did and you're covering for him.”


Yeah, but if I told you everything, it'd really make Mitch look like a fool and he was doing it for the kid's best interests.”


Ok, she was making money and shoveling it into an account and he knew but it was good for the kids that they argue over money. How fucking dumb is that?”


Well, they agreed she would match him dollar for dollar and no more. Whatever he brought home, she did. Everything else got put into the account.”


You're telling me what here?”


She refused to bring a penny more in than him.”


Oh man, what a bitch.”




So how much is in the account?”


Hon, I promised.”


Tell me or so help me...”


Ok, but you can't tell.”


Tell who.”


Anyone outside this room.”


Man, that's hard.”


Well, I'm not going to tell Ty and you can't tell Gregg.”


That's hard.”


Well, hold off until they get told the exact amount. Until then, we're guessing, because I don't really know.”


So, what's bringing about the guess. That has to have given you the ball park figure.”


Yeah, it was. Sometime in the past year, she bragged about making more than a million dollars in interest off the account.”


Holy Shit!”


Yeah. So, I'm thinking if she invested it good, and it's ten percent, it's ten million. If she didn't, it's twenty million.”


Oh man. Gregg's going to have a cow. We were just talking about scrimping and saving in order to put ourselves through college.”


Well hon, now you'll be able to do that, because Mitch is giving it to the boys equally And, since it's coming out of an account like that, it's going to be tax free.”


Oh man. Lance, this is huge.”


Yeah hon, and now you see why I'm being cautious.”


Well, let's go back in there, but I don't know what we're going to tell them is the reason we had this talk.”


I'll tell Ty it was about the size of my dick. We already had that talk.”




He's making me be gentle on him, but he wants to be able to take it all.”


That's a tall order.”


Hon, he's my lover. He doesn't know how big it is. It just started to get hard and he thought it was huge.”


Lance, you've got to do something.”


Heather, you worry about what you're going to tell Gregg and I'll explain it to Ty.”


He'll be curious.”


So, what do we do?”


I suggest you get honest with Gregg and show him your dick. Then he'll think you're telling the truth.”


No, he'd lock away his little brother!”


No he won't. He knows you two love each other.”


Well, let me take Gregg out and talk to him. You talk to Ty and tell him you now know but you'll keep it from Gregg.”


You told him!”


Hon, he's my lover. I couldn't keep it from him.”


And you want me to keep it from Gregg! Fuck you.”


Ok, but don't tell him everything. Ty doesn't know it all.”


Then you tell him.”


OK, but follow my lead.”


I'll sit back and shut up.”


No, then that looks suspicious.”


Damn, this is hard.”


I know, but it's going to end later when Mark finds out the figure.”


Ok, if you say so.”


Well, that's what I was told.”


Ok, let's go do it.”


We went back in and I said, “Gregg, Heather now knows the whole truth and said she can't keep it from you. So, I told her I'd tell you. What you have to promise is not to breath a word of it to anyone, Ok?”


Ok, why's it got to be a secret.”


Ty looked at Gregg and said, “Because the banker dude could lose his job. It's confidential he even called.”




Heather looked at me and smiled. I knew that look and it wasn't very nice what it meant.


Well, the guy gave us a figure but it's only a ball park. It's not an exact number.”


Ok, how come he did that?”


He doesn't have the exact number yet. But, what he did say was the account had over a million dollars in interest on it last year.”


Oh Man!”


Yeah, so what I'm figuring is it will have between ten million and twenty million dollars in it.”


Why such a big range?”


Well, from what I heard, your mom invested things wisely. She was uncanny when it came to stocks and she did good. So, did she do good all the way? Or did she put it into safer fund? I don't know.

What I do know is one will be ten million if she's invested in things that will pull in ten percent interest. If she pulled it out and went safe, then it's drawing less interest...say about five percent, sotthat'd be twenty million.”


Oh man Ty, this fucking sucks.”


No Gregg, Dad's giving it to both of us.”


No, Heather and I were just sitting here talking about how we were going to scrimp and save to get through college and it really had me feeling so good about us. Now, that's all fucked up.”


Who's to say you can't do that anyway? You'll just be doing it for fun now.”


Gregg looked at Heather and said, “Babe, will you still share your salad with me?”


Yeah hon, and you'll still share your cheeseburger with me?”


Ooh boy” I said to Ty.


Ty giggled and said, “Gregg, you're funnier than hell when you're in love.”


Gregg smiled and said, “Well, now we'll be able to do more things.”


Like have a fireworks show in February.”


Gregg smiled and said, “Yeah!”


Good, because I was going to do that for you.”


You were!”


Heather looked perplexed and said, “What am I missing here guys?”


I said, “Go get the skillet.”


Ty started laughing and Gregg looked at us and asked, “What's up with the skillet, man?”


Lance was telling me a joke he wanted to pull about a skillet with Heather, and I told him she'd beat him to death with it. The mental picture of her chasing him down the street with the skillet was funny and we got a good laugh out of it.”


Heather looked at us and said, “What's up with the skillet?”


Oh nothing, hon. Believe me, I'll tell you after it happens.”


She looked at me and Ty and said, “Guys, you're not telling me something.”


Heather, can you hang on an hour and then we'll be back?”


It seems I'm going to do a lot of waiting on you tonight, this better be good.”


I looked at Gregg and said, “Gregg, come here, dude.”


He looked at me and I said, “Ty, go call your dad and tell him it's going to be tonight and to get a video camera and your aunt here. No, on the other hand, tell them we'll be there because it's Ralls county and it's legal there.”


Gregg looked at me strange and I said, “Come here, dude.”


He went into the bedroom with me and I said, “I'm going out to the fireworks stand and I'm getting a finale bundle. You've got the money now to marry her, so get on the stick and get that proposal ready because she's going to ask a lot of questions if we don't.”


Man, I don't have a ring!”


Dude, you don't have to have a ring to get engaged. You just got to ask the question. Tell her you'll get her a ring when you get the friggin' money.”


He looked at me and said, “Ok, what's the big secret that Heather was really called in here about because Ty said you two were talking a long time in here.


Gregg, I don't really want to tell you, but I'll tell you. When I do, promise me you won't forbid me from being with your brother.”


What the fuck dude!”


One second, if I'm going to do this. You need to see the whole thing and then you've got to promise me you won't forbid me from being with him.”


Man, he fought our mother over you, I'd say I couldn't say anything to stop him”


That's not a promise, Gregg.”


Ok, I promise.”


Ok, the next promise I'm going to have you do is ask you not to put me up on sexual harassment, since this is my place of work.”




Do it dude.”


Ok, I'll do it. You better not do anything because I'm about to get engaged.”


Here's the problem. Ty knows some, because we were beginning to make out and it started to get hard. But he doesn't know how big it really is.”


I flopped the thing out and Gregg stared open mouthed. “Jeez dude! And you say that's a problem!”


Man, turn around and I'll show you the fucking problem.”


Oh man, poor Ty, but better him than me. Just don't wreck his guts dude.”


Don't joke about it, dude. Heather knows how I am about this thing and she was afraid of how I'd tell Ty about it.”


Oh man, I never thought how it'd be to be the owner of one of those, but man it must suck to be you. Guys must run from that thing.”


No, only one other guy has ever experienced it and he became a cock whore over it. Ty's made me promise him I'll use the whole thing on him, but he's only guessed how big it is. It wasn't all the way hard. So, now you know, because Heather said she couldn't keep a secret from you.”


How's she know?”


Dude, we grew up together and one time we did this I'll show you mine if you show me yours thing and we did. Since then, we've been friends. In high school, we were so close everyone just assumed we were together, so you'll probably be told about me because guys did see this thing in the shower.”


Hard or soft?”


Soft, none of them were cute enough to see it hard”


So, I'm cute enough?”


Gregg, get real. Ty's cute enough. You'd be cute enough if Ty wasn't my lover, and you were single, but that's not happening.”


Good thing, because I don't know how Ty's going to manage it.”


Well, he says it will make him happy, but he hasn't seen it yet. So do me a favor and don't do any jokes and you won't have your teeth put down your throat. That's all I ask.”


Ok dude. Just be easy on him. Who knows? Maybe he'll get it done. I know he loves you, so I bet he'll try.”


We left the room and Ty looked at me and said, “You ready to go?”


Well, I need to go downstairs to do some work.”


He looked at me and said, “Heather, would you do me a favor and go to the basement with him? He refuses to let me and I just worry.”


She looked at me and said, “Ok, but he's done it before, so I don't know why you're worried.”


The difference is he did it without me and now, I'd like for us to be together all the time but he forbids me doing this.”


She smiled and rolled her eyes. “You think Gregg and I are pathetic. You should see you two from the outside.”


I chuckled and she said, “Well come on.” with mock exasperation.


We went down stairs and she said, “Lance, he loves you, but I disagree with the way you handled this.”


I know. If I hadn't thought it was the best way, I wouldn't have done it. I just couldn't see a better way of doing it so it was a win for everyone.”


They should have been told the truth.”


How would you have seen it if your dad had gone through hell over money when you later found out he knew about the account?”


I don't know. I'd think he was dumb, most definitely.”


Yeah, but then when you thought about all the arguments, wouldn't you be pissed you had to be subjected to them in the first place?”


How bad were they? Gregg gets to a point and doesn't say anything. He did say Ty took the worst of it.”


No, Mitch took the worst of it, but when he wasn't around, she took aim at Ty and blasted away. The woman was so self centered and so evil with what she did, it just doesn't make any sort of sense. If you or I had been told half the shit she told him, we would have knocked her on her ass, but he took it. Do you know what went on with the Mercedes?”


No, I was meaning to ask about that.”


Get this. Ty was promised a car for graduation. Gregg got his truck, so it'd only be right for him to get his car. He had the Flintstone mobile as he calls it and that car's a piece of junk. He can't put his feet on the floorboard because there's apparently a huge hole big enough to put his feet through.

On the passenger side, the smaller hole is big enough that one of his college books fell through it. Need I say more!?

But, the mom knew this and she knew the promise. Instead, she told him she was getting a Mercedes and Ty could eat shit and die. Then, she went and told Mitch Ty didn't want a car until graduation from college.”


Oh man, that's low.”


Yeah, what's low is I think she knew Mitch was going to leave her just as soon as Ty graduated, so you know who would have gotten told to buy his car. So double fuck 'em.”


Well, she got the last ride in the Mercedes.”


Yeah, I got to the point with my anger, Heather, I actually told Ty she got what she had coming. You know I really felt bad after I said that, because that's his mom.”


Oh man, I understand. So, Mitch knew the money was there. Why didn't he tell her to hit the stash more often?”


She refused to bring in a dollar more than him. If he told her they needed more money, she'd tell him to go out and earn more and she'd match it.”


You don't hold back money when it's your kids.” She said incredulously.


No, you and I wouldn't and a normal person wouldn't, but this one sure as shit did. She'd go eat steak and feed the kid a hot dog and tell him to like it, or do without.”


That's crazy.”


Yeah, and it built up resentment. But, she had them over a barrel. If he went to Mitch to complain, she'd see to it Ty caught hell all over the place.

Mitch swears he took the brunt of her actions, but even his description is fucked up. He calls it “blow by”.”


What's that?”


Ok, Say someone's shooting a shotgun at us. I stand in front of you and take the full shot. What you get hit with is blow by.”


And he thinks that's normal? A family doesn't do that to each other!”


In that house, it was normal, hon. That's why I'm going to tell you to ride Gregg hard. He tells his feelings now of what happened with Ty, but before, he'd make fun of Ty and say, “I got a car and you didn't and shit like that.”


So, the kids were in on the abuse.”


No, Gregg was in on the abuse. Ty took it.”


Why didn't he snap?”


He was little enough that when this all started, he thinks this is normal.”




Yeah, here's what I mean and then you'll understand.

Imagine if you will, we're out on a cruise and the ship wrecks. For us, that wouldn't be normal. However, let's say you were pregnant and you have a kid. That kid grows up and it thinks it's shipwrecked home is normal and can't imagine how it ever sailed because it's never seen it sail.”


Oh man, so Ty thinks this is normal.”




He's going to have problems.”


We've already been dealing with some of them. He refused to think of our relationship as an 'our' and 'we' thing because he didn't have anything to give me.

So, my house was my house not ours. It was that way with everything. Yet, when he found out he was getting the money, he insisted on paying for the addition onto the funeral home and then, it would be ours.”


Oh man, I bet you were pulling your hair out.”


Yeah, What's strange is I explained it to him using reverse psych and he understood it that way, and then, he turned right around and said my house was mine. Go figure that out.”


Because he didn't put anything into it. What he learned at home. Do you think Gregg's going to have problems like this?”


Maybe, that's why I tell you to ride him hard when it comes to bullying. He's gotten by with it and he thinks it's normal. One violation, tell him it's not acceptable and come down on him because he'll see it as a weakness on your part and I guarantee you, he'll do it more and more.”


How do I know what's normal joking and what isn't?”


Well, ask him. If it hurts your feelings, turn around and say, “Are you serious? Because if you are, this hurts my feelings and I'll tell you this time and then the next time, you'll deal with getting your feelings hurt.”


I won't live that way.”


You won't have to live that way if I see it happen. So, either you drop him on his ass over it, or I will.”


She looked at me and said, “Lance, this has gotten complicated.”


Yeah, but honey, I swear to you every relationship has some things you have to get used to. The advantage we have is we're dealing with members of the same family and we can talk like this. Help me get this casket downstairs, so I can get her in it.”


Why are you doing this now?”


Hon, I usually already have this done. I'm running behind, so I need to get this done so we can get the beautician in.”


They did pick a nice casket.”


Yeah, but I feel bad because it's nearly the opposite of what Mitch wanted. If you look at colors as psych, look what Mitch picked versus the kids. Mitch picked white....virginal. The kids picked black...evil.

We've got the rose in it Mitch wanted, but she's going to be buried in a power suit. I think Mitch wanted to remember her as she was before things got bad and the boys wanted what they actually feel for their mom.”


The only thing they can remember.”


Yeah. Messed up, huh?”


I'm beginning to think Mitch is like an ostrich and chooses to keep his head in the sand about her.”


I think that's his security blanket. However, when he does finally pull it out, he's going to realize she's gone and it's going to hit him hard. So, as I keep saying, we need to watch him because even as hard as the boys are on her, I'm thinking they're acting more normal than Mitch.”


She looked at me and said, “Do you think Mitch is aware of everything she actually did?”


No. He didn't know about the deal with Ty's car. I do know that.”


Did he know about the guy at the distributorship?”


About firing him? He was there and talked to the guy.”


No, you apparently don't know.”


Know what?”


Gregg says he was in there several times and his mom was all up on a guy. He won't say he thinks she actually went out and had an affair, but he will say he thinks his mom showed more affection towards the guy than he ever saw his mom do with his dad.”


Oh man, once again, she used the kids as keeper of the secrets. He couldn't say anything because he knew it'd tear up the family and he knew if he did, he'd incur her wrath.”


Yeah. So, who was the guy?”


Gregg didn't know his name, but said he'll personally be happy to go in and fire the guy.”


Well, tell Gregg, I want the guy pointed out so it doesn't look like he's doing it out of the blue. If Mitch thinks the guy should stay and Gregg thinks he should go, , I'll vote with Gregg on it so Mitch doesn't have to find that out. What else did that woman do?”


Oh there's a lot. The more Gregg talks, the more I'm hearing.

One thing he did say was the guy she was all up on was receiving preferential treatment from her.”


In what way?”


Well, the entire office crew gets company pickups. The way it goes, is when a company vehicle gets four years old, it , goes out to the back where dispatch people and maintenance people get them. What they do is they deliver kegs in them and they use them to see the beer trucks all get maintained. When the truck gets to be 8 years old, it gets traded in on a new truck that goes to the front office people.

What she was doing was she was getting this guy a new pickup every year. She was to get that vehicle, but she didn't, because she preferred driving cars. So, she got the guy hers. Gregg says she did this three years running he knows of.”


She'd get a guy a truck, but wouldn't allow her own son a vehicle.”


Yeah, and apparently, the guy who was her assistant knew the relationship. Gregg said he's overheard comments when he was in the office that the guy was only upset because he wasn't her main squeeze any longer.”


Oh man, so this thing is a powder keg ready to explode.”


Yeah, and Mitch doesn't know a thing.”


Well, we're not going to tell him until after the funeral. I don't think it'd be nice if Mitch gets into an altercation at the visitation, however what I will do is have a microphone with the video near Mitch so anything said can be overheard. If the guy starts the fight, I want it on tape.”


No, I've already told Mitch I'm going to be there next to him, remember? It's going to be Mitch closest to the casket, then me, then Gregg, Ty and Joan, and Mark.”


When was this decided?”


Probably when you were talking with someone. We think it's best if I'm near Mitch so I can carry him if he should go down.”


Well, that's good, but it won't look right. But, I think it'd be good if you were there to keep something from happening. I'll tell you now, I'm going to have a lot of video going and sound like you wouldn't believe.”


Will that be normal?”


No, usually I run it without sound, but the waivers are signed and I can do it if I want.”


I bet you'll be glad when this one's over.”


Yeah, anything that will get me away from this mess is going to be welcomed. Ty really wanted to come down here. Can you believe it?”


Maybe he wants to see his mom and have a private moment with her.”


No, he wanted to help me put her in the casket and do prep.”


That's why he wanted me down here?”


Yeah, maybe he thinks she'll do something to me. Or, maybe he's afraid I'll do something to her.”


Maybe he wants to do something to her. You know that could be possible.”


Well, I told him absolutely not.”


So, you want the casket over here in the usual spot?”


Yeah, put it on that lift and we'll get it tilted.”


You do have a nice set up down here. I think he's going to like it.”


He'll love it. I'm really excited about us working together. What will be hard is he'll have a hard time turning on and off his emotions.”


I doubt it. He's had plenty of practice with his mom.”


Well, I don't want him to get used to it.”


He won't. He'll compartmentalize. He'll know work is work and home is home. I bet he'll be more affectionate with you.”


Well, I worry about that.”


Lance, let him be him and love you. I think your problem is you see everything with your size as being a hindrance. If he thinks he can love you, then let him.”


I'm going to, it's just that I'll be worried.”


Let me tilt her up so I can get this bra on her.”


Ok. She was a pretty woman. I can see where the kids got their looks. Both of them are nice looking.”


Yeah, it's sad someone so nice looking was so hateful. They would have been the perfect family otherwise.”


Yeah, but as you know, nothing's perfect in families.”


No, I know mine wasn't.”


Well mine wasn't either. Dad is dad and mom's mom two totally different people.”


Well, your dad's cool. I like him.”


But mom's another story, I know.”


Your mom would be nice if she didn't hold me not being your boyfriend against me. Has Gregg met her?”


Not yet.”


Well, you might want to do that soon.....like real soon.”


Why? We're not going to be getting engaged for a while.”


Are you sure of that?”


Well, he said he wasn't going to propose for a while. I've told him I think we can make it work.”


Well, when it happens, be prepared to say yes.”


I will, I think the longer I get to know him, the more prepared I'll be.”


He's going to do it really romantically. Ty and I already have your wedding gift figured out from the way he's going to do it.”




Yeah, when he proposes, we're going to take the photo and it's going to be gorgeous.”


You know and you're not going to tell me. I know!” She said smiling


Yeah, because otherwise it's not going to be a surprise.”


What are you and Ty going to do for your service?”


Well, we haven't talked about it a lot, but what I do know is we're going to protect each other legally and instead of signing the wedding license, we're signing a commitment contract and a lot of other legal documents. I'm giving him half of everything I've got and then I'm doing a mirror Will where everything I have is his if I die and the same goes if he dies.”


That's smart. Just be well insured.”


I am. It will suck if I die first because he doesn't want to go to school to get his embalmer's license. He just wants to take the funeral director's test. If I go, he won't have an embalmer.”


Well, he can have one of the other funeral homes do that for him.”


Yeah, but it'd be better if he could count on himself.”


I imagine if you weren't around, he'd not want to be in it.”


I never thought of that. You think so?”


Yeah. So that might be good because I'd have to really watch him because he's going to be a zombie if you go.”


Well, let's hope it's not for a long long time.”


You going to put her shoes on her, those are some heels.”


No, they'll be laid there and that should be fine. For someone who got killed in a car wreck, she sure wasn't banged up bad. There's hardly any bruising or anything.”


No, she only has that puncture wound from where the tree limb hit her heart.”


Surprised the limb hit anything. Lord knows she didn't use it for loving people. Probably pumped puss.”




Well hon, it's ironic she looks like a normal being but was capable of such vile things.”


That puncture wound doesn't look like a tree limb.”


Well, it was sure stuck in her. I pulled it out myself.”


Looks like a knife wound to me.”


Nah, sometimes they look that way.”


How many you had like this?”


Not any actually. I did have that one wreck where the guardrail came through and that was a jagged mess.”


Well, if you say so, but that looks tiny.”


It doesn't take much, you know that.”


Well, you're right. You've got the wax?”


Yeah, I'll dab it on there and it'll be good as it can be.”


Almost doesn't even look like anything's wrong now. That's some amazing stuff.”


Yeah, if I just put it on my arm, it gets the texture of my skin and , covers. If that doesn't work, I put it on the back of my hand and it looks like that skin.”


Can you use it anywhere?”


Yeah, but lips are hard. It takes a lot of lipstick to cover it not looking natural. I hate it when I have to do them because they just don't look right.”


What was her hair style?”


Basically she just kept it shoulder length in that style like Hillary Clinton. Not much to it.”


Why do you have to have a beautician in then?”


Professional courtesy mostly. I mean, I've got the hair shine that will look like she's had a good wash and set and that's all that girl's going to do besides makeup.”


This blouse is gorgeous.”


Yeah, This is strange.”




It looks like she had a chain necklace on and it got ripped off. It wasn't a thick chain, but I didn't see it in the wreck. I'll have to ask Mitch. Well, hand me that wax.”


It really covers things up doesn't it.”


Yeah, I wouldn't normally use it on this, but this blouse is really low cut. Almost indecent on a corpse.”


Well, that's what they want her buried in.”


That's what she wore. There's no buttons to take it up higher. At least the ruffles are not showing her bra. I feel like I'm dressing Madonna with that much chest showing.”


It sure doesn't match the hairstyle being like Hillary Clinton.”


No, it's kind of like two clashing personalities which is her to a tee.”


Yeah, business power meets mom.”


Power women don't show that much chest. She used it to get people off balance.”


You think?”


I bet.”


Well, maybe that's why Gregg liked me in my leather outfit. I was definitely showing boobs in that thing!”


It sure doesn't seem like this morning, does it?”


No, damn long days.”


Yeah, some days are like that. A lot goes into them.”


Lance, was there a lot of blood in the car?”


No, just a little, why?”


Wouldn't a puncture wound make a lot of blood.”


Not if what punctured is still in the body like the limb was.”


Oh, So it filled her chest cavity?”


Yeah, wait a minute, when I embalmed her, it ran clear pretty fast. The blood wasn't in that cavity.”


She looked at me and said, “She wasn't killed with that tree limb Lance. That looks like a knife wound.”


Oh man, where do I even begin with this one? The Coroner's already ruled and the Sheriff's already investigated. So, who do you think did it?”


I'll give you three guesses.”


I'm afraid of this. I love each one of them.”

“So, what do we do? Do we act like we don't know? Or do we ask the truth come out? Or, do we let the authorities know?”


The ethical choice is to contact the police and tell them. The other option is to say they did their job and we should let it slide. I mean, she wasn't the nicest person.”


Oh man, Lance...I don't know. We're in too deep here. What if we're wrong?”


What if we're right?”


Ok, let's dress her and then go back upstairs, I don't even know where to begin. I think we need to talk to someone who would know how to handle this.”




She'd know, but do you think she'd let it slide if it were Mitch?”


I don't know. I'm willing to let it slide if it is Ty and I know you'll let it slide if it was Gregg, so what do we do, hon?”


I think we need to talk to Joan and ask her advice. This is way beyond me. I knew better than to get emotionally involved.”


Like you could stop it.”


Well, what I think is that we just go upstairs after we get her put in the casket and lock it. I'll take the key with me.”


Ok, then what? Because I'll tell you now, if we act suspicious, the one who's guilty is going to know.”


What if it happened in the argument and Mitch and Ty are covering?”


It didn't happen in that house. I know the smell of blood and it's not there. Also, nothing's smelling like it's been freshly cleaned.”


Then where?”


I don't know. This is perplexing me because the only place they said she was is at the house and at Joan and Mark's but she didn't get in. We do know where she ended up.”


Ok, let's piece this together. Gregg saw where the car ended and didn't react. Mitch did. Ty's been stoic through out this. Gregg was an asshole and then showed up at the house after being up all night partying. He would have an alibi if he was at the girl's place he said he was. Ty and Mitch are each other's alibis.”


Lance, I'm not a detective. You aren't either. We missed this, and we might be jumping to conclusions. So, what I suggest is we use the necklace that's missing as the reason to go to Joan and Mark's and ask Mitch.”


Hon, you're going to shoot me, but I'm going to tell you something.”




We're supposed to go to Joan and Mark's anyways. You're down here so the boys can go get fireworks so Gregg can propose to you in their front yard.”


Oh man. Well, we can't do that! I'm not going to say yes until we know what happened!”


Hon, we need to talk to Joan. You need to act like you don't know and you might have to go through with it.”


Lance, how can I do it if I suspect Gregg might be the one? That's not going to happen.”


Ok, so, this is where we're at. We can sweep it under the carpet and find out later and you can act like you don't know and I can too. But, if we do that, we'll find ourselves slammed into the visitation and funeral and then she'll be buried.

Now, I'll tell you I'm clear and you are, but me putting wax on that is going to look like accessory to murder and it's going to look like I covered it up if I don't get the police in here.”


This is going to be a mess. They'll be arrested.”


Yeah, and that will most definitely have us looking for new mates because I wouldn't get together with someone if they accused me of murder.”


Ok, let's think rationally. Ty wanted to come down to see her. Do you think he wanted to see if the wound still looked as bad as it did?”


I don't know. But Mitch doesn't act like he's really........Check under her finger nails. If there's skin there, we'll have a clue.”


Hon, you're not seeing something. Gregg doesn't have scratches. Does Ty?”


No, when we slept together, we were down to our skivvies.”


Are the boys covering for Mitch and he's using that account to pay them off?”


I don't know, but that's capital murder and all three of them will get the death penalty.”


Oh man”


She looked at me and said, “The only way that this looks good is if we agree with the cover up.”


Oh man, I'm thinking what the Coroner said. He said Gregg had been in a suspicious death previously and if a trial happened, that would come out. BUT, he also said people who are rich around here are viewed as “untouchables” because the law covers things up for them. We're looking at reporting it and possibly not having anyone listen and they know what I did about Tony's grandma.”


Oh man. If you tell, they'll tell and we'll all go down.”


Yeah, this sucks.”


Well, I'll stand by you, but I say we go back upstairs and keep our butts out of jail. However, when it comes to being near a knife in the kitchen, I'll do all the cooking for Gregg and me.”


I don't know what to do.”


Lance, look at me. Have you been happier than you've ever been? Haven't you loved him more than you ever loved Tony? So, look at that and say what we saw there might be a fluke. This whole thing's looked suspicious. It could be murder, or suicide, or accident. The Sheriff's already ruled accident as did the coroner. If we let it be, what we had in the past stays in the past.”

“I hate this.”

 She looked at me and said, “I'm in love with him. I want him. Until he came along, you were that person.

I'm asking you to let me have him. I'll act the part and you act yours. We'll know and we'll go through this life knowing, but we'll also know she got hers and she had it coming from the way it sounds. Even that whole family said she wasn't a nice person. You don't convince a whole group of people to lie.”


I looked at her and said, “Ok, but if anything happens to me, you go in and you kill anyone who's near and I'll do the same if anything happens to you.”


He's not going to do anything to me. You just watch your back around any knives.”


Ok, let's get her in the casket and forget this mess.”


She looked at me and said, “I think we say that all too often to each other.”

Notes From RettaMichaels:

This story was edited by Darryl the Radio Rancher. Through the past several months, he's really been great and an inspiration to my writing. I appreciate all his hours of work and his motivation.

From My Keyboard To Your Heart”,



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Disclaimer: All individuals depicted are fictional, and any resemblance to real persons, locations, or incidents is purely coincidental.