Buckets Of Blessings
If your laws do not allow you to read this story, then 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:
Read and enjoy.
Heather gasped, and Gregg sat back on his seat.“I can't say.”
“That answered my question, now, as I said, Heather and I suspected and we're not doing anything. As you know, nothing good can come from this, but believe me, we suspected it.”
He looked at me and started to cry. “Why'd you ask me?”
“Gregg, Ty said your mom threw his cellphone against the wall before she left. If he called you on it after she left worried about her, how'd he do it on a busted phone?”
Heather looked at me and said, “Gregg, I'm going to call Ty in and I'm going to ask him the same question.
When he answers, I'm going to realize he's lied to Lance like you've lied to me.
It hurts like hell, but I know there's a reason for it. The only reason I can think is you're protecting either Ty, or your dad. Either one of those and I'd understand. If you're protecting someone else, I'm going to have to hear a really good explanation.”
She got up and went to the door, “Ty, you can come on in now and please pull the door shut behind you.”
He did and came over and sat next to me.
She said, “You want to ask him or do you want me to do it?”
“I'll do it.”
He looked at me and I said, “Ty, I'm not even going to go into what all came up to this point, but I've got one question to ask and I want a truthful answer.”
“What is it?”
“Who killed your mom?”
His face immediately crumpled and he started to cry. He turned to Gregg, “Why'd you tell them?”
Heather went over and hugged him and said, “Gregg didn't tell us a thing. We told him we were going to call you in and ask you.”
Gregg came over and he hugged Ty and said, “Ty, it's ok, Tell them what happened.”
“If I do, Dad will go to jail!”
Heather gasped and said, “Ty, listen to me. We suspected earlier, but we couldn't prove anything. Then, Gregg was in here talking with Lance and he told Lance you called him on your cell phone after your mom left. How'd you do that if it was busted?”
“She busted it when she came back.”
Heather looked at me and said, “Where'd she go the first time?”
“She went to the funeral home looking for Lance. She never found him there, so she came back and demanded to know where my cell phone was and for me to give her the phone number so she could call him.
She tried to hit me and dad told her to cut it out. She turned on him and said it was just like him to defend his faggot son. She then began tearing into him about how spineless he was and so on and so forth.
Somewhere in there, dad made a motion with his hand telling me to get out of the room.
I went to my bedroom and I continued to hear the battle rage. I wanted to call you Lance, but I was afraid if I did, she'd hit the last number dialed and call it.
While I was in my room, I had Smokey and sometime in there, I heard the conversation die down and I heard mom's car in the garage. I came out and that's when dad came in and said I needed to call the police as he'd just killed mom.
I went out to the garage and I saw her with a yard tool used to pull dandelions up stuck into her chest. “Dad said she'd tried to hit him with the car in the garage.
He ran into the back wall where all the yard tools were. He'd gotten out of the way and that tool was the only one that fell.
He said he picked it up and it enraged her more. She said he was so spineless he'd not do a thing and got out of the car and kept coming at her. Finally, he either had to climb over the hood of the car to get away from her, or he had to stand up to her. I guess he told her, “Back up or I'll use this!”, and she hit him.”
He said he jabbed it at her and didn't mean to hit her with it. He said it hit her the first time and stuck in. She said she fell and the whole time she died, she was cussing at him.”
Ty hugged me and began crying against my chest.
I looked at Heather and she turned to Gregg, “Gregg, as I said, we're not going to do anything. It's not that I didn't want to at first, but we talked and all we could do was think of there being nothing good coming of this. It's not going to bring your mom back and it's not going to be doing you any good to all go to jail. Each one of you covered it up, and that's what would happen if the police investigated it.”
“What do you mean “the police would cover it up if they investigated it?”
“Gregg, look at the facts, your mom was found down there against a tree in her car drunk four times over the alcohol limit. The Sheriff's deputy saw it and took photos. The Coroner came and ruled her death an accident, and that made it open and shut. Now, put those two together and the fact you guys are looked at as “untouchable” in this town and you've got a case of accident. So, why would I open it if the person I love and the person Heather loves is going to go down for it?”
“How would we go down?” Ty asked.
“Well, you and Gregg knew the facts.
For crying out loud, you were there and didn't call the police as soon as you knew what happened! That's called accessory to murder. In this state, that carries just as heavy penalty as if you actually killed her yourself.
Now, I'm not saying your mom wasn't a nice person. In my opinion, I'd probably done a bang up job myself of throwing her ass around a room, but I didn't.
So, what we're doing is we're keeping our mouths shut and we're going to go on with life. But Gregg, you do anything else like this and Ty, if you even so much as think about doing anything else like this, so help me...if you don't kill Heather and I together, you better wish to God you did. “
Gregg looked at us and said, “Guys, I wasn't anywhere near the house!”
“No, but you sure got the call and you sure didn't report what happened as soon as you knew something and the Coroner told me this is the second time this has happened with you. To me, that's not a good habit to be in.”
“Oh man, the man has his dick in a knot over what happened at that football game.
A bunch of us kids were up on the bleachers and someone got drunk and fell off. Did he bother telling you there were fifty other kids on those bleacher that night? So, I'm singled out. Well fuck that dude!”
“Gregg, maybe the guy does have a axe to grind, but I imagine you not being known as such a nice guy and having attitude when you got asked about it caused everyone to think it was you.”
“No, I admit I did have an attitude but in order to get them off who it was that most likely did it, I kept them thinking it was me. To be honest, the guy actually did just fall, but you know who gave us the liquor? That prick mom was fucking.”
“So you're telling me you covered for her again? How many times did you cover for her?”
“Too many. Look at how it always went.
If every time she got too close to something that stank, it turned out to be us kids that caught blame. And, you want to hear what the cunt had to say after I came home from being questioned? She had nerve to lay into me about being more responsible!
Get that? I get intoxicated off her breath, and am covering so her boyfriend doesn't catch blame and she points the finger at me! Well that night, I told her what I knew and she shut her mouth fast because I told her that if she wanted to chew ass, that I'd go wake dad up and tell him a thing or two.
You know what she did? She started telling me how nice my truck would be and how nice college would be. Yeah, dear old mom is going to smooth out the carpet once every thing's swept under it.”
“Gregg, look at me. Your mom wasn't the best mom. Heck, I'd say she wasn't going to ever be likely to qualify for “mom of the year”, but the shit you guys were swimming in makes my head swim.
Now, do yourself a favor and look at what I've had to do with life. Yeah, my background stinks like what you came from, but believe me, my family had nothing compared to what you have. I'm not saying it was right, but rich families are just as fucked up as poor.”
“Man, what I went through ain't nothing like what you went through, so I'm to forget about it and make people's lives better?”
“Either do that, or fuck up other people's lives too. Given that choice, I'd say you'd do better trying your best to be known as a nice guy.”
Ty looked at me and said, “What's he talking about?”
“Babe, I'll tell you later.”
Heather smiled at me and said, “Lance, who's sweeping things under the carpet now? Tell him and everyone what you went though and let's leave this room with everyone forgetting the past.”
I looked at her and said, “Sis, you just want me to have nightmares.”
“No, I want your partner there to know what you're having them about when you do.”
Ty looked at me and said, “Gregg knows and you don't want me to know?”
“Hon, I told Gregg some of it, but not all. Heck, in reality, I skipped over it with him like a rock across a pond. Here's what happened.
My uncle babysat me when I was four years old. The first night, things happened, he sexually abused me in the shower room. I forgot a toy and went in while he was showering. The shower room was a huge room in our basement where we kept our toys. Dad had his workshop to work on appliances, and we took showers in there.
He was showering and for some reason, he called me over towards him. The next thing I knew, I was pinned on the floor and he was shoving his dick up my ass.
The next time he did it, we were watching television and he wanted me to lick it like an ice cream cone. When I said I didn't, he shoved my face down in the crack of the sofa until I said I would. Then he face fucked me.
I was pissed and I told my mom. Well, he went to her and told her I wasn't doing what I was supposed to while they were gone, so guess who got the butt whipping and guess who wasn't believed? From then on, I knew I couldn't tell because mom wouldn't believe me.
As time progressed, he did it more and more and then began to molest his step kids.
To intimidate us, he took us outside and took an old string mop and tied it to a dog's collar and lifted the dog up over the trash barrel until he burnt the dog to death.
Other times, he hung cats on the side of the house alive by nails and skinned them alive. He had us kids afraid of him so much that I just went through life not speaking to anyone.
Then, his step kids told their mom and she divorced him. The consolation prize was he was single again and came around our house more. So, I got raped more often.
Finally, about the age of 8, I figured I'd do what I could to make it feel good for him so he'd get off faster. All that did was make him like it more so he'd do it more.
So, I was in a no win situation. The blessing was that the son of a bitch felt sorry for himself one night and committed suicide in his apartment he was living in.
To be sure he was dead, I went to his funeral so I could see he was really dead. The fucker was there and that's why I say Gregg, if he didn't come out of that coffin, no one is in a funeral home because I spat in his face.”
Gregg said, “Oh God.” and Ty said, “Hon, I'm so sorry.”
Heather looked at them and said, “Guys, you don't know the half of it. He'd come to my house to eat because they were so poor they hardly had anything to eat.
he told me what happened with his uncle, it was because he was afraid
to bleed to death. He was tore up down there. I started stealing my
mom's maxi pads so he'd have those.
When his uncle died, he thought it was over, but that's when the nightmares began. He screamed so loud he woke me up in my house from yelling in his bedroom in his house.
It got so I'd get woke up and go over and wake him up and just hold him. If you knew how often that happened, you'd told me to just go over there and live. Sometimes, it was three and four times a week and often, it was several times a night.
I think my dad knew I was going, but I think my dad heard him screaming. My dad told me one time that he sure got beat a lot as he thought it was that causing him to scream.”
“Where were your parents during all this?”
“While I was getting molested, or during the nightmares?”
“My dad worked the graveyard shift and my mom worked two jobs.
We rarely saw my mom during the week and she put in earplugs while she slept. She'd get home real late from tending bar and then would get up early to go work in a factory.
My dad just stayed the hell away from us kids. It was like he didn't know how to deal with us, so we were non existent to him.”
“So that gave your uncle free range?”
“No, that's what's strange is my two little brothers he never sexually abused...just me. If he had, I would have told.”
“Why didn't you?” Gregg asked.
“After seeing someone get by with all he did and killing animals, do you think he'd stop? He told us it'd be us next and then he'd go to prison for that.
He was so mean that he lifted my one cousin up by his head and threw him across the room. Something happened because that kid got put into foster care. I've never seen him since.” I paused “Did he get put into foster care, or did he get killed? I don't know.”
Ty said, “If you knew martial arts, why didn't you use that on him?”
Heather said, “Ty, you don't understand. By the time he knew enough, he was already scared so much of his uncle, he'd just freeze up when he saw the guys car sitting in front of their house. He'd come to my house and try not going home until way late just so he'd not have to see the guy.”
Heather said, “And, some of the stories he told me, he's not even told you guys. Some of them are really really sick. There was one time Lance came home and just stank.
My dad told him to go home and wash up which put him in the house with that guy. What had happened was the guy threw him down the hole of the out house at his grandparents. Lance nearly drowned and only got out because he clawed his way up the side. He got really sick because he got bit four times by a black snake in there!”
Gregg said, “Guys, you've got to stop. I'm way into over load here.”
To be honest, so was I. My nerve endings in my body were all firing and it felt like imaginary fingers were poking me all over. Ty felt it and said, “Yeah, Lance is shaking like a leaf.”
Heather came over and said, “Lance, stand up. Ty, I'm going to show you what works with him here. When he's doing this, hug him and keep him standing up.
If he sits down, he'll go to sleep and have a nightmare. In those dreams, he's getting chased or he's trying to hold the door shut to protect the other kids and his uncle is grabbing at him through the hole in the screen of the door.”
She hugged me and just held me. What's strange is the world went black and she just talked to me real soothingly telling me it was going to be ok and that no one would get me.
Ty apparently stepping in and started hugging me the same way. Heather showed him how to caress me and to talk to me. After about fifteen minutes, my eyesight returned and I hugged him and just cried.
Gregg was sitting down and I could see him crying and could feel Ty crying too.
Heather said, “Guys, what you are seeing is what he didn't do the whole time that stuff went on.
The whole time, he never cried and Ty, don't ever ever tickle him. He will kill you if you do it.
That's how his uncle started the molesting. The only time Lance has ever lashed out was when we were about ten years old, I tickled him.
Believe me, I knew a lot of martial arts and couldn't get back fast enough. He came up swinging death blows. Fortunately, I got knocked back by the first swing and was falling when the one meant for my throat came. By the time he realized what he was doing, I was back in stance and was ready to defend myself. We explained the black eye away as a bike wreck.”
When I was back to where my nerve endings weren't so hyper, I said, “Ty, take me home.”
“Ty, if you need me tonight, call Gregg or I's cell phone. It's been a long time he's been this way, so I don't know how it will be.”
Ty nodded and as we walked through the house, I think everyone was shocked by the way I looked. Heather walked through and said, “Joan, we'll talk in a minute. I'm going out with them to get Lance in the truck.”
She hugged me and said, “Lance, that's our family in there and I'm going to tell them. I'm not going into detail, but they've got to be told. I love you and Ty, you hold him and sleep behind him hugging him. He'll be ok if you do that. If you do get out of bed, don't get back in until he's awake. He'll view you as a threat.”
Ty said, “Ok, thanks for telling me Heather.”
“No, thank you for being there. Now don't worry about anything else Ty. It will be ok.”
As Ty drove, I sat in the passenger seat with the balls of my hands in my eye sockets. That seemed to ease the pressure and keep me from seeing things.
Ty said, “Lance, no more. From now on, I'm not going to let anyone hurt you no more.”
“He's dead Ty, no one can hurt me like that again.”
“And I thought I had it bad. Sometimes, it's better when they die isn't it.”
“It's just a trade off. When they die, you're left with the memories. They're worse because then you remember everything.”
“I'm here. I'm sorry we put you through that.”
“No, you had to know.”
“If me knowing something ever puts you through pain like that again, just tell me. I don't need to know and I'll have Heather tell me.
I just thank God she was there for you when you were going through all that.”
“She did all she could. That's why we're so close.”
“I understand and won't ever question your closeness. She's been there better than a friend, I now know the bond you have.”
“Be there for me like that and you'll have me for life.”
“Can I ask you a question without you getting upset?”
“Hon, there's no way I can get upset with you.”
“After going through all that with him, why'd you go right back into being molested by Tony? I mean he was twenty seven and you were thirteen.”
“It was different with Tony. Yeah, he was older, but I wanted him. It wasn't that way with my uncle. Tony was by choice and my uncle wasn't.”
“It still doesn't make sense to me. But if that's how you justify being molested, then I guess....”
“What do you mean?”
“Tony was fourteen years older than you. Don't you see how sick that was?”
“Would you go out with a nine year old?”
“Well, that's the age difference. So how's one right and the other wrong?”
“Ty, maybe Tony wasn't in the right, but I loved him, ok?”
“Ok, so I won't ask anything else.”
“No, ask whatever you want. I just might not be able to give you the best answer. To me, they're totally different.”
“That's like asking me if I'd like to be shot to death or if I would like having my head cut off with a guillotine. The end result's the same. All you're saying is one's less painful.”
“I guess, but I prefer dying a slow death with you of old age.”
“I hope so because that's how long it's going to take to get rid of me.”
“Thank goodness.” I smiled. “Ty, I'm sorry for everything you went through with your mom. It seems what doesn't kill us makes us stronger.”
“Sometimes I don't feel that strong Lance.”
“Well, from now on, I'll be there when you're not feeling strong. Just be there for me, or call Heather if it's too intense for you.”
“Hopefully, everything she showed me will work. I'd like it to be me from now on.”
“Lance, I didn't know how to tell you.”
“Hon, you had your reasons. What I don't get is how you did it?”
“Got the car off the cliff and down the embankment.”
“She wasn't in the car when it went off the cliff. I put her in the car after we ran it down the hill and into the tree.”
“Did your mom have a necklace on?”
“No, that mark came from the rope I used to carry her. I was afraid you'd see the other mark that was down by her right armpit. That's why I wanted to be down there.”
“What did you do with all the blood?”
“My dad's a plumber, we sucked it up with the Shopvac and used muriatic acid on the floor. If the police had came to the house, all they would have seen was a heater in the garage we used to dry the floor.”
“When did you tell Gregg if he got home when I met him?”
“Earlier when we went to get the fireworks. I figured the gig was up since you wouldn't let me go down there, so I told him.”
“Ty, I really wish you'd told me.”
“I couldn't. I was afraid my dad was going to be arrested and I didn't want him to go to jail for her.”
“No more secrets and I don't care what the reason is.”
“Ok, you've got me babe. I don't need any other secrets now.”
“Does your dad know about the guy out there?”
“No, I don't think so. TO be honest, Dad hasn't been in the office out there in a long time. Now, I've got a question?”
“If mom bought the Mercedes herself, how did we get the double indemnity clause?”
“You mean it's not in the business' name?”
“I don't think so.”
“Then, I'd say no one bothered to check. I mean it's not going to be on the death certificate what the license number was of the car she was in. Other than that, I'd say your Uncle did some creative writing with the insurance paperwork.”
“Don't you have to be involved in that paperwork?”
“No, the way it goes is the only time I'm involved in anything like that is if it's a pre-need burial plan and then I get paid by that policy.”
“What do you mean?”
“Ok, here's the way it goes and I don't want you to say anything because it's a shuck and jive.”
“Say you are Joe Blow and you come in and you buy a pre-need burial plan from the funeral home.”
“What I have you do is you pick out the plan you want and all that. Usually, the casket companies still carry that style of casket for a long time, but to be really honest, the casket you pick out in the plan isn't the one you're going to be buried in.”
“What do you mean?”
“Ok, let's use a car for example.” I took a breath and began, “A pre-need plan would have you pick out a new Corvette today. Then, let's say you die in twenty five years. You'll be buried in a new Corvette then.
We're not going to buy a casket and just keep it around for you to be buried in. What we do is we make out the plan and the arrangements and then we buy an insurance policy that assures us what you pay for today is going to be what you get then....but, what we do is we really pad the policy.”
“What do you mean?”
“Ok, here comes the part you're going to look at me and say it screams of fraud.”
“Let's say your funeral is going to cost ninety five hundred dollars in todays dollars.
What I do is look at life expectancy for someone your age. So, let's say you're expected to live until seventy four years old. Then I know you're going to live for another fifty six years. So what I do is I buy a life insurance policy with the money you pay me and I divide that ninety five hundred up into seven hundred payments for that policy.
So, the payments are going to amount to over a hundred dollars a month. Now tell me if you went out and bought insurance how big of a policy you could get for that hundred dollars a month.”
“I don't know.”
“Well, let me tell you that you could get a policy for approximately seven hundred thousand dollars for that same payment.
Now ask me if I'll bury you in fifty six years if you pay me seven hundred thousand dollars and I'd tell you I'd give you the best funeral we had, but you said, “No, I want this funeral I picked out, so you see, I'm getting about six hundred thousand dollars extra for that funeral.”
“Yeah, big racket. That's why we sell pre-need. It assures you that you lock in the price today to get a funeral in fifty some odd years when you need it. However, what you don't know is I'm not going to lose that money.”
“What do you mean?”
“If you came in with cash and said you wanted to buy that funeral, I'd sell it to you and then I'd put it into the account to make the payments for that policy and you then walk out and get hit by a truck and killed. Guess what? I still bury you and make the profit on the funeral, so I'm not going to lose any money.”
“Yeah, big racket.”
“Isn't there a law for that?”
“No, the only law they have says I do have to put the money into an account and I can't touch it to pay my bills. It can only leave the account to pay the insurance company.
So, what I do is I take fifteen percent of that ninety five hundred today and then I get the rest later.
Now, since we're lovers and what you have is mine and what I have is yours, I'm going to tell you now that if I die first and you sell that funeral home for anything less than a hundred million, you just fucked yourself royally.”
“Wow, because of the insurance policies you've got coming in?”
“Yeah, and that's what I've already sold. So far, there's been over three thousand pre-needs sold by me and I'm giving you a low ball figure on the price there.”
“Yeah, It seems that if someone is going to make payments on a ninety five hundred dollar funeral and sees the nicest is coming in at sixteen grand, then they go ahead and splurge the extra forty dollars a month for the more expensive model.
The only difference between the more expensive funeral and the cheapest is the casket. And I'll tell you now the wholesale price of a casket is way cheaper than what I'm pricing them at.”
“What's the most expensive casket cost?”
”The one that has all the options and the highest grade of metal is going to wholesale to us at about two grand.”
“Man, that's a lot.”
“No, not really considering I'm selling you that funeral for sixteen thousand, so I'm making fourteen grand on that funeral.”
“Ok, what are your expenses?”
“Well, I have the funeral home and I've got the limos and the hearse and so on and so forth. It's quite a lot.
But, as I said, I have to have seventeen funerals in order to break even. So figure I'm profiting about seven grand a funeral It's costing me about a hundred and twenty grand to run the funeral home and pay the bills a year.
Now, as you know I had fifty eight funerals last year and a lot of those were higher end funerals. I made about four hundred after the bills were paid.”
“But you said you've got quite a bit paid off on the funeral home.”
“Yeah, because I took the money from the profits and I invested them into oil futures and a Mexican telephone company which's really doing good. So, I earned enough to bring it down to where I'm looking at having it paid off in about a year. Also, I've got the income coming in from other sources.”
“Well, you're going to pay it off now, aren't you?”
“Yeah, and just as soon as we can, I'll have that building torn down and the addition put up for you.”
He smiled and said, “Lance, I'm really glad things are going the way they are for us.”
“When I get home, I've got to call Chili's and tell them I'll be quitting”
“You sure you don't want to give them notice?”
“I've got twenty six million dollars and now have half an interest in a funeral home and we're buying into hotels and probably White Castles, so tell me what I'd be doing working at Chilis?”
“Ok, I just thought it'd be easier for us when we go there to eat.”
“No, it'll be ok, I don't have anything of theirs which they need back.”
“Ok, do you want to eat there tomorrow night before we go to the arcade with the guys?”
I chuckled and said, “You that burnt out on their food?”
“Yeah, you don't realize it's good the first few dozen times, but after that it gets pretty old.”
“Well, I guess I'd feel the same way if I ate it every day.”
“Lance, do you have anything at home to cook?”
“Breakfast food, but nothing for pancakes. I've ate enough of those to be happy for a lifetime.”
“What do you mean?”
“We were so poor Ty, we ate them like three or four times a week.”
“Where'd all their money go if they worked two jobs a piece?”
“There's wasn't much money to start with. Mom didn't make a lot at either place and my dad worked on televisions and worked in a factory.
The problem was we bought a house in a nice neighborhood. They paid for it, but there wasn't much left after that each month.”
“Oh, that must have been hard.”
“What other things did your mom wear you out on?”
“Chili and meat loaf. She'd cook a huge pot of chili and then the next night we'd have chili dogs and the next night after that, we'd have chili mac. On Sunday, we had meat loaf. We'd eat a lot of pinto and navy beans too. Thinking of soured beans is enough to make me sick.”
“Oh man, I don't blame you.”
“He made me eat some once. Other things he made me eat was bananas and runny yolked egg with ketchup on them. I won't eat either one to this day and won't allow a bean in the house.”
“What are your favorite foods?”
“Cheese burgers. Somewhere along the line, I got ahold of a recipe for cheeseburgers with mince onions in them and then put Colby cheddar on them. Good stuff, Maynard.”
He laughed, “Things I take for granted were a luxury to you.”
“Yeah, if you really want to know, I think that's why I went for Tony the way I did. He had the money to take us out to eat.
To him, it was a usual occurrence, but to me, it was like really nice. We hardly ate out and when Tony started taking me places, I really thought I was special.”
“Do you realize how sad your life sounds.”
“No, because that was only about the first fifteen years. By the time I was fifteen, things were a lot better, but my parents got killed shortly after that?”
“What happened to your brothers?”
“They're out there someplace.”
“What do you mean?”
“They wouldn't let me have them since I was too young when my parents got killed, so they went into foster care. I have no clue where they are.”
“So you mean I have two brothers out there?”
“Well, we're going to find them.”
“They hate me.”
“Don't say that!”
“No, I got to see them once and they said they hated me”
“Lance, they look at you as abandoning them, they'll realize you love them.”
“I do, but I don't know where they are.”
“I'll have Aunt Joan contact the family services and get them.”
Tears immediately sprung into my eyes, “Do you think she would?”
“Hell yeah she will! You know her better than that! As soon as she finds out, she'll be on the phone with them as fast as she can. What're their names?”
“Lonnie and Lennox that we call Lenny”
“Your parents liked the L names didn't they!”
“Both of their names started with L's. “
“What were their names?”
“Larry and Linda.”
“Ok, we'll call as soon as we get home, let's stop by Steak and Shake and get something to eat. I'm hungry.”
“Ok, I want the new Chicken sandwich they have and cheese fries. That sundae shake is good too.”
“You're a junk food junky, you know that?”
“Yeah, but cooking at home for myself at home wasn't fun, so I ate places with Heather.”
“At least she was single so you could go places with her.”
“Yeah, but for the past few months, we hadn't seen each other much. I think it was getting to her that I wasn't going to be what she wanted.”
“Well, I'm glad she took you to Chili's.”
“It's my favorite and she took me there since it's my favorite. What's funny is I've never seen you there before.”
“I'm surprised too. I sure would have remembered you.”
“Oh, you remember a lot of single guys that went in there?!”
“Not many, but when they're as cute as you and have those eyes like yours, Oh hell yeah I did!”
“Must've been a lot since I've got two eyes.”
“No, what I mean is the color of your eyes and the way you look. You don't realize it, but your looks instantly set people on fire.”
“Nah, I look at it everyday in the mirror, now if I looked like you or your brother, then I'd be hot.”
“You think Gregg's hot?”
“Hell yeah, he looks just about like you! And you're a sizzler.”
“Which one of us do you think looks hotter?”
“Boy, that's a dumb question. As soon as we saw you Heather and I were both wanting you. That's why when I saw your brother, I called Heather. I knew she'd be all over him.”
“That's funny. I don't think I look good at all, and think Gregg's in the same boat as me. We both think the other is bad off but I do think he has the hots for you”
“No, he better only have eyes for Heather. He got told that earlier.”
“Why? Did he come onto you?”
“No, he wanted to hire someone to work out there and I told him it wasn't happening.”
“Let's leave some things between your brother and I, O.k.?”
“I can almost bet you who it was. He followed them around like a puppy dog and Mark jumped into his ass over it.”
“You'd be warm.”
“I didn't tell you.”
“See, I told you. He is gorgeous, but that'd sure not be happening, little Mark wouldn't have a thing to do with Gregg after that.”
“Well, I told him it wasn't happening and he better hope to God I never find out he's snuck behind Heather's back.”
“How do you know?”
“Just let me say that Gregg's too analytical. He weighs his options too closely
He'll weigh Heather against that jerk and then keep coming back to Heather. He's done that since he was little.
We once split up candy and by the time he'd decided what he wanted, I'd already took mine back and ate it.”
I laughed and said, “Well, I'm glad he decided he liked Heather fast.”
“Yeah, that was amazing. The way his eyes were bugging out when he saw her, I think it was lust at first sight and then, when he found out he wanted her too, it turned to love.”
“Well, I think it was the same for us.”
“True, but for Gregg to decide that, I was surprised.”
We laughed and then ordered our meals. I handed Ty the money and he smiled. “Just think, soon, I'll have a lot of money and we won't ever have to worry about it anymore.”
“Hon, we weren't worried before. You were. I had plenty for the both of us.”
strange taking money from someone, isn't it?”
“Yeah, but we'll get used to it.”
We were told to wait for our meals and he kicked on the cd in the stereo, Donna Summer began belting out “This Time I know it's for real”. He turned it down and I turned it up and began singing to him.
He laughed, but he listened to the words and got tears in his eyes. When it was about three quarters over, I hit the mute and pointed. He rolled down the window and took our food.
He smiled at me and said, “When we get home, I'm calling Joan and getting her to looking for your brothers. They can come now that you're of age, can't they?”
“I don't know. They're in foster care and the state frowns on gays having foster kids.”
“They're your brothers. That shouldn't matter.”
“Well, it did when I was 18, so it might still.”
“How old are they.”
“Oh......Lenny is probably thirteen now. Man, it doesn't seem like he should be that old. And, Lonnie is probably fifteen? He's 8 years younger than me.”
“So they were babies when those things were happening to you?”
“Yeah, mom hadn't even had them. She had a couple of miscarriages when I was little. That's why a lot of things happened because the hospital is over by our house. Mom and dad were at the hospital when it happened the first time. “
“Yeah, my parents never did know anything happened to me. I imagine mom knows now and is kicking my uncles butt all over the place.”
“Your parents probably went to Heaven and your uncle went to hell for sure.”
“Probably. That's one thing that pissed me off more than anything When they had the funeral for him, I was expected to go. For that preacher to stand up there and say he was going to heaven was more than I could stand. I went to the bathroom and vomited.”
“There's no way. He committed suicide and on top of that, he did all those horrible things.”
“Well, we're not to judge, but it's hard not to, isn't it? ”
“Yeah. From my perspective it is and I sure know it is from yours.”
We drove home and Ty was really careful pulling the truck into the garage. “This thing is way bigger than my car.”
“Yeah, but that's why I have the wide garage door. Just pull in however you please.”
“No, I've got to get used to parking mine next to yours and you better not hog all the space.”
“Oh, I forgot. We'll, I'll try. I'm not used to two cars being in here.”
“You sure made it long enough to put the limo in here.”
“No, when I built it, I thought about having a whole line of cabinets over there and along that wall. I just never got around to doing it.”
“Well, we'll get it done. What's that big ball over in the corner?”
the filter for the swimming pool.”
“You got a pool!”
“Yeah, didn't you see it?”
“No, I never looked out back.”
“Well, I'll show it to you. There's a nice jacuzzi out there too. What I did wish I'd done was put a screened patio over the pool and made it so it could be glassed in. Well, maybe the next house.”
He looked at me and said, “ Well, maybe that's when we split up because I'm not moving. I love this house. It's awesome.”
I smiled at him and said, “Oh man, here I am worried someone else is going to come between us and it's going to be a house.”
He looked at me and said, “You think you're going to lose me?”
“Not really, but after being with Tony, I never underestimate anyone.”
He turned and looked at me and said, “Don't compare me to him. He was an asshole. You might not say he fucked you mentally and abused you sexually, but I sure will.”
I stopped and looked at him. He was angry and I didn't want to argue.
“Ty, I love you and don't want to argue. Please, can we just sit down and enjoy the evening?”
“Yeah, but I'm not going to change my feelings there. Maybe one day, you'll see it like I do, but yeah, we can sit down. Could you hand me that phone so I can call Aunt Joan?”
I handed him the phone and took the sandwiches out of the bag. I put the fries into a big pile on the wrapper in between us and stuck his straw in his shake. He smiled and said, “Man, you're something else. My mom didn't even do that for me.”
“Well, get used to is hon.”
When his Aunt Joan answered, he spoke to her and then, she asked to speak to me. He handed me the phone.
“Hi there. You feeling better?”
“Yeah, a lot of bad memories.”
“Heather told us. I'm sorry hon.”
“Wasn't you that did anything.”
“No, but we're here for you now. I'll tell you when she told us, I think everyone was madder than a wet hornets nest.”
“Well, it's over now, so we can just enjoy life.”
“No, you remember if you need us we're there for you. That's what a family does. Now, tell me about your brothers and their names. Do you know where they might be?”
“No, all I know is they took them away and I've not seen them but once. I've looked in the schools here, and they're not there, so they have to be in another town.”
“Ok, well, they can't change their names and I'll look in the hospital records. I'm not supposed to do that, but no one can stop me. Also, I've got a girl friend that works down at family services and I'll tell her you want them.”
“I don't think they'll want to come live with me. They were really upset I abandoned them.”
“Hon, you were a baby yourself.”
“Well, I was seventeen and when I saw them I was eighteen.”
“They should have given them back to you then.”
“I didn't have the money to raise them. Mom and dad's life insurance was barely enough to cover the funeral and .....”
“Hon, you don't understand. They would have given you money to take care of them and you'd had your parents social security. You would have had enough money to take care of them.”
“Well, will they have a problem letting a gay person have them now?”
“They shouldn't. They're your family. All you have to do is have your home approved and show you're not living in a cardboard box. They can't hold you back from them.”
“Ok, well talk with her and tell her I've got my act together and I've got a future.”
She laughed and said, “Well, I certainly hope they'd approve you! I think you have enough upstanding citizens of our community who would vouch for you.”
“Well, thanks, but I'm worried about how they'll take to me and I'd want them to know Ty and I are a couple.”
“Well, let's cross one bridge at a time. I'll call her at home and then will call the hospital and have someone go pull the records Then, she'll call me in the morning. Is it o.k, if I give her your address, home and cell numbers?”
“Yeah, most certainly. Tell her if I don't answer on the first call, to call my cell phone. I have it with me everywhere and if I don't answer it, it's because I'm in a funeral and I'll call her within the hour. I check for calls when we're on the way to the graveyard. Oh man, I've got to call the employment office to get people hired to drive the cars!”
“Don't worry about that. We've got enough people here.”
“No, this is the family's day.”
“Hon, you're not charging them a thing, so that's the least we can do.”
“I don't feel right.”
“Did I ask that? Accept help from the family. Lord knows there's enough of us!”
I laughed and said, “I still didn't get to meet everyone the way I wanted to.”
“Hon, the only way I met most of them was because I was born into the bunch. Mitch didn't have their names memorized until he was in highschool, I don't believe!”
“Well, I'll have their names memorized soon enough.”
“Hold on a minute, Mitch would like to speak with you.”
Mitch got on the phone and said, “Lance?”
“Not a problem, now tell me why you're thanking me.”
“Mitch, you're my father in law in all sense of the word. There's no way I'd let anything happen to you when it's already been handled to everyone's satisfaction.”
“Well, just the same, you didn't have to do what you did and I appreciate it.”
“All I ask is you live the rest of your life to the best of your abilities and don't worry about what happened in the past.”
He was quiet for a moment and said, “I won't. It's going to be tough. We're talking about me selling the house. Sometime, I want to get in and seal that garage floor. Do you think you could help?”
“Sure, before we do that, I'll be sure to bring some embalming fluid over. You could probably get it at a plumbing supply place.”
“Yeah, the stuff they put in RV toilet tanks, correct?”
“Yeah, that's the stuff. It'll get rid of what wasn't hit by the acid. Then we can hose it out. It's environmentally friendly, so we can then let it dry and get it sealed with some Thompson's.”
“Ok, Well, I'll let you go. You boys have a good evening.”
“You too. We love you.”
“Love you guys too. And tell Ty good night for me.”
“Well, good bye.”
He chuckled and the line went dead.
“Dad's worried isn't he.”
“Yeah, but we'll get it taken care of. He's wanting to sell the house. I don't really blame him.”
Ty handed me my sandwich and said, “Hon, I think I ate more than my share of those fries. They were really good.”
“Take all you want.”
He lifted one and started to put one in my mouth. Then leaned forward and bit the other end off. “Mmmm, that's the way I want to eat fries with you.”
I chuckled and said, “Well, here's the sandwich, want to eat it the same way!”
He laughed and said, “No, my mouth's not big enough.”
We both laughed and he said, “Babe, we're going to call the pool supply place and see if they can put that screened in area around the pool and I'll get the cabinets put in the garage.”
“No, not yet. If we have them drill into the concrete when it's cold, it'll bust up the concrete. We'll have to wait until it warms up. “
“Well, then we'll call Sears and have the cabinets put in. I don't want to be used to pulling in and then have to get used to not pulling in so far.”
“Well, what I think is we'll have some wheel stops installed and I really want some cabinets out there that are like closets. We can put things like Christmas trees and longer things in them.”
“Can we decorate up a lot for Christmas?”
“Yeah, but get the things off ebay. They're cheaper on there.”
He smiled and said, “Babe, we've got enough money.”
“No, do as I say on that young man or you won't have money to blow on other things like hotels. They're like twenty five bucks on there versus the two hundred at the store.”
“Oh man, that'd mean I could buy a bunch!”
“Yeah and but we can't decorate the funeral home.”
“Why not? It's ours!”
“Hon, all we can have is a nativity and yard ornaments. One thing I do want to do is put up a huge helium balloon in the shape of a star and have those one lights in it.”
“Why can't we decorate the building?”
“Ty, you forget the siding is concrete. A staple won't penetrate.”
“Oh, well that sucks.”
“Not as bad as an AK47 would strafing it.”
“You think someone would do that?”
“I don't put anything past that family Ty. They'll know I'm vulnerable someplace and they'll hit when I least expect it.”
“You think they'll come after you after this amount of time?”
“Well, let's say the best defense is a good offense and remembering to cover all the bases.”
“Ok, then why isn't the Escalade bullet proof then?”
“Can't afford it. “
He looked at me and said, “Let's see. I'm going to kill you and I'm going to go for the weak spot. It seems to me, I'd pull up alongside you and start shooting so I can get lost in traffic.”
“Maybe I need to rethink that. I mean, I've got you and my brothers to think about now.”
“Or maybe you should just live in a bunker.”
“No, then they've won.”
“My suggestion is to get less paranoid and not worry so much.”
“Ty, let me handle things the way I feel secure. It might cost more but all it takes is once and then I'm regretting it the rest of my life.”
He looked at me and said, “Babe, I'll tell you now my personal car is going to be a convertible. You might not like it, but I plan on living life until I die. If you try telling me you can't ride with me, I'll tell you to follow in your bullet proof truck.”
“Your life's never been in danger Ty.”
“Tell that to someone who didn't live in that house. She was drunk and she was always raising hell. The one thing I can say is dad finally gave us some peace.”
He looked down and when he looked back up with moist eyes. “I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that. It makes me sound like I'm glad she's gone, but she really made life miserable.”
“Hon, it will get better and then hopefully, you'll remember some good times too.”
He smiled and said, “Let's hope, you ready to watch something on the telly and snuggle?”
“Yeah, climb on up here between my legs and I'll lay back against this side arm.”
“It'd be nice if we had a television in the bedroom.”
“Nah, then we'd keep each other up. You on xtube and me with instructional videos on the “how to”section of youtube.
He laughed, “I'm not on xtube and you sure knew what it was!”
“Well yeah, I went there to read the stories.”
“They don't have stories!”
“Oh, must've been some other site then!” I winked.
He laughed and said, “Babe, do you have a favorite on there?”
“Not really, but that one guy reminds me of you.”
“I don't know his name, I've got most of his vids saved, I think it's SkinnyThick.”
He smiled, “And you say you were only on there for the stories.”
“Well Longfellow insisted I go to see if there was poetry. By the time we left, there was poetry in motion.”
“You're feeling him up your back.”
He laughed and said, “Oh, Longfellow's your pet python.”
“Nah, he's friendly.”
“Let's go see how friendly.”
He took my hand and led me to the bedroom. We began kissing and were really getting into it when the ringtone I'd programmed in for Joan's number jangled. I broke the kiss and reached for the bedside table and answered.
“Yeah it's me.”
“I didn't wake you did I?”
“Nah, we were in bed but hardly asleep.”
“Oh....uhhh....sorry!” she giggled.
“Don't worry, how can I help you?”
“Uh, I got some information on Lennox. It seems he was in the hospital for appendicitis last October. The bills went to Family Services, but while there, he called a number in La Grange repeatedly. You want it?”
“Yeah, it must be where he's living now.”
“Yeah, here's the number. This is so unethical, I should be shot, but I figured you'd want to have it.”
“Ok, I'll get on the computer and do a reverse look up on AnyWho.”
Gregg heard and whispered, “I'll go get it.”
He took off and I said, “One second, Ty's going to get the laptop. Did you come up with anything on Lonny?”
“Something a long time ago, but that's it. He came in for stitches to his eyebrow. It was a baseball accident.”
“That'd be him. He loves baseball. The kid kept Tony and I outside playing pitch and catch for hours.”
“Well, that's all I have on him. It seems they're pretty healthy.” She paused and said, “I got ahold of my girl friend over at Family Services and she's going to get their files and see what she can do. I explained your situation and she recognized your name immediately and said she's met you on numerous occasions.”
“What's her name?”
“Oh heck, I know Jane! She's a great hugger.”
“Yeah, that's her. She says she'll do what she can about getting a reunification started. Do you think you're ready for that?”
“Yeah, if they are. We've got the bedroom space here. Uh, well, I'll have to move my office, but we'll have the bedroom space.”
By then, Ty had came into the room and had my laptop already opened and booting. He handed it to me and I opened a file in my docs, with their names on it. I said, “OK, I've got a file opened, what's the number?”
She gave me the number and then after I'd saved it, I cut and pasted it over on the Anywho site. It immediately brought up the name and address the number was listed to. It wasn't Lenny's. I felt a little disappointed, but in a way, I was thankful it hadn't been as it gave me the address.”
“Joan, is there a way we can find out what they are doing in school?”
“I don't know. Jane can probably get me the information, or give it to you...you'll be seeing her at the visitation.”
“Oh good. I'm getting excited about this, but at the same time, I'm getting scared. More scared than excited, but I really do hope they'll want to come home.”
“Hon, give them a chance and I'm sure they will you.”
“Did she say if there'd be a problem getting them reunited with me?”
“She said it's in the kids best interests if a family member can take them. It gives them their culture back and a sense of belonging.”
“There's not a bit of our culture left Joan. It died with mom and dad. They might not remember how poor we were, but I sure do. They'll never have to wear a hand me down, nor will they get trench foot from someone else's shoes. And, they won't have to eat the same things over and over.”
Ty smiled and said, “What you smiling about.”
“Nope, a different restaurant every night!”
Joan heard and said, “Well, you'll have to cook for them.”
“Yeah, and we'll have them rooms ready so they will have their own things.”
Joan said, “Well, that's all I have here. I'll get off here now.”
“Thanks. I really appreciate it.”
“No problem hon. If I can help get your family back as much as you've gotten mine, I'll do it.”
“Thanks again, Good night.”
When I hung up, put the laptop on the floor and hugged him to me. “Where were we?”
“We were just about to open a file on that computer and start thinking of everything we need to get for their rooms, that's where we were.”
I chuckled. “Kids the best form of birth control there is.”
He looked at me and said, “We'll get back to that, but I'm excited about getting them settled in.”
“We don't even know if they'll want to live here.”
“It's not like they have a choice.”
“Yeah they do. They could choose to stay where they are...I guess. I really want them to come here, not be made to come here.”
He nodded and said, “Babe, we've got to go grocery shopping and get vittles in this house and that concrete pond out back needs a screen room put over it.”
He smiled and turned and batted his eyes.
I laughed, “Heather told you about our Clampett family huh.”
“Yeah, she even told me about Biff, Butt....I mean Bub, and what's her name.”
“Bub is Gregg's kid.”
He laughed and said, “Nah, sounds like the kid takes after you. He's a real individual personality.”
“If you'd put asshole in there instead of individual, you'd been correct.”
He laughed and said, “I think you were Bub when you were little.”
“No, I was the angel child.”
He laughed and said, “She also told me about 3BH.”
“Yeah, I'm none of them.”
“Bull. You're built, you're beautiful and who cares if you're hung or blond.”
He smiled and said, “Thanks, You take the other one in a big way.”
“Nah, I have to lie to get laid, it's a small thing.”
He laughed, “You going to pee your pants now?”
“Nah, you know the movie too.”
“Yeah, I think Bill Paxton is hot even when he was in Weird Science and was that pile of shit.”
We laughed and he began kissing me. He rolled up on top and we began our foray into the wild thing.
The next morning, when we woke up, his breath upon the back of my head was really comforting. I got up and was down the steps and making breakfast when I felt his arms encircle me.
“Why didn't you wake me up?”
“You're so beautiful, that when I saw how you looked sleeping, I had to let you sleep.”
He blushed and said, “thanks.”
“Not a thing to thank me for. You are that beautiful.”
“Nah, the other part.”
“How do you feel?”
“Like I'm in love.”
“Me too. You know what I mean?”
“Hon, stop worrying. You made it perfect. You heard me last night. It was wonderful.”
“Ok, how do you want yours?”
“Put some sausage in it and lots of cheese. Then, some of those Chilis.”
“Yeah, you too.”
“nah, the omelet. This is Italian sausage, it's spicy.”
“Good, I really like spicy food.”
“Oh, well then you'll love this restaurant down at the city. They have authentic Mexican food.”
“I love that stuff. Grand Rio out there at the shopping center is my favorite.”
“Nah, those are real Mexicans but that's not really real Mexican food. They tone it down a lot. Just wait until I take you to this place. They make green chili burritos that have green chilies in it. I can handled hot stuff... and you top my list...but, this stuff brings tears to my eyes.”
He smiled. “I like how you tried to sneak that part in.”
“Me topping your list.”
“You top my list in a lot of things. I'll tell you now. When I think of an ice cream dish, I'll think of the best I've had....Swenson's in Charleston, South Carolina... and I'll think of you and you'll top that list. When I think of pizza...Happy Joe's in Ottumwa, Iowa, and you'll top that list....just about any favorite list I've got, you're there on top.”
He laughed and said, “Thanks. You want orange juice?”
“Just a small glass. It's really acidic on my stomach and we'll be in the car a lot.”
“Thanks for giving me the heads up. I'm looking forward to meeting the tailor and getting over there to see if we can speak to those guys.”
He said, “What else needs to be put on the table?”
“Over under the phone is a red phone address and phone book, would you get it on the phone with the handset please? I'm going to show you what calls need to be made and where they go.”
I brought the omelets over in their dishes and he took a look at them and said, “Man, those really look good. Hey, you put mushrooms in there!”
“Yeah, you like them, don't you?”
“Yeah, but I was wondering how that sausage suddenly became a lot more. You put corn in them too?”
“Yeah, you'll learn corn is a staple at any meal there. They usually use a lot of different flavored corns we don't use.”
“Aren't you thinking of the Mayans?”
“Where I'm thinking is around the Guadalajara area. That's where I visited.”
“You went there?”
“I went there and was trapped there for a month and a half.”
“What do you mean?”
“Tony and I went there over a Summer and they had a huge mudslide. It killed a lot of people and wiped out like three villages. The problem was we were at the top of the hill in a lovely little villa and the road was completely taken out. Finally after a month and a half, we were told we could leave.”
“Wow, and Tony didn't screw around the whole time?”
“I didn't say that. I said we weren't able to get out. It's not like the servants around there didn't get wore out by him.”
“How'd you put up with that?”
“Hon, when it's a condition he put on the relationship, I put up with it. Eventually, he knew it wasn't in his best interests to keep doing it and he told me he'd cut it out if I'd stay. So, I did.”
“I think he did, our usual twice weekly went up to three and four times a day, so I'd say he did.”
“Nah, you're confusing quantity with quality. What we had last night was quality. I can count on less fingers than one hand how many time I had that with him the entire time I've been with him.”
“What a stupid jerk.”
“Now you got it. I really feel like one for putting up with him.”
“No, I meant him.”
“I know. Here, take a look at all these numbers on the inside of the phone book's cover. These are the people, I've got to call, but go to the J's and get me the number for JC Penny's hair care.”
He gave me the number and I called and got the right stylist. As she came to the phone, I could hear her talking about how she'd never gotten a tip from Wendy.
After I made the appointment, I said, “hon, let me say that you won't be getting a tip from me either. Usually I do and you can ask anyone out there how well I tip, but I also heard you over the phone.
In the future, I'll style the hair myself rather than have you in my funeral home.”
Without saying anything, she hung up on me. I called back. When the receptionist answered, I said, “Tell Tiffany to cancel that appointment and ask Julie if she'll come down and do this woman's hair.
Tell Tiffany she hung up on the wrong person, I'll do what I can to let everyone know who she is and what she is.” The receptionist said, “One moment, let me get Julie for you.”
Julie got on the phone and I said, “Julie, hi hon, Yeah, it's hanging. What I need is for you to come down and do this woman's hair and tell Tiffany she can get crowned somewhere else because this old queen knows how to keep them where they fall.”
She laughed and said, “She's not one of our brightest.”
“I'd say she burned out with me. Be sure to tell her how much I usually tip you and what she lost out on. She'll never work for me in any capacity.”
“No probs hon, just hit me wrong when I got hung up on. She shouldn't have been speaking loud enough for me to hear.”
“I'll give your complaint to the receptionist. She's the manager here. She'll be sure to make things right.”
“That option ran out there. Tell her, I'll take you any day, but the only thing I want from her in regards to Tiffany is to tell me when she leaves and where she goes, so I know not to ask for her there.”
“Ok, you going to let me in?”
“Nah, the pass key you've got should let you into the basement and you know where the lights and everything are.”
“Ok. Anything else you need hon?”
“Nah, sometime I'd like for you to meet Ty as we're expanding the funeral home together. He's really special to me.”
“Well, it's about time!”
“I think so too.”
“Well, I've got a ton of phone calls hon, I'll see you on Friday, ok?”
“You going to be out here or you want me to come there?”
“One second, I'll ask.” I put my hand over the receiver and said, “Do you have a usual stylist for your hair?”
“I'm a dude, I have a barber.”
“He'll be out with me hon.”
She giggled and said, “He took whispering lessons from Tiffany. Tell the Dude, I do dudes cuts too.”
“Will do hon. Later.”
When I got off, I said, “She heard you and told me to tell the dude that she does dude's cuts too and you shouldn't take whispering lessons from Tiffany.”
“Yeah oh, I'll tell you now, a hair stylist isn't on that list of people to piss off in this life. You might put them on the list right under your cook.”
He looked at me and said, “ You upset with me?”
“No, but can I say one thing?”
“Barbers don't make many visits to funeral homes. Stylists do. They pull your ass out of jambs you never knew you were in. They'll also tell you the real scoop of what's being said about you in this little burg...if they like you.
If they don't, they'll certainly fuck your world up by mentioning how hateful you were to little Miss Martha who's about to croak. You might not need the seventeen hon, but I sure do.”
He pushed his plate at me and said, “I've had my fill and I'll get my own ride today. I thought my mom died.”
“Whoa, hold up a second. Your mom did die.
If you think I'm going to lay down and lick my nuts just because I've got someone with money in my bank account, you took the wrong one on.
I built that motherfucker and I won't see someone else tear it down. You get the ride you are driving and while you're at it, think about what the hell you just pulled.
If I can't speak with you and tell you how to properly kiss ass in this profession, then you really need to find something else. Who's asses did you think you'd not have to kiss being the manager of a hotel? The meat man? The liquor distributor? Everyone will fuck you raw before they give you your dollars worth and when your business counts on the pennies, then think about that.
Excuse me, but I've got business to do today, I'll have Gregg come get me.”
He looked at me and said, “No, if you need a ride down to the funeral home, I'll give it to you. Why'd you jump into my ass like that?”
“What? Telling you someone heard you and you really should thank your lucky stars it's one of my closest friend's sisters? Let's see, call Tiffany back and see how fucked up your mom will have her hair looking when old Tiff gets ahold of it. Then see where you'll get even because she rightly won't give a fuck if you fuck up her funeral. Now, I really got to make phone calls.”
I lifted the phone again to dial the detail man when he took my hand and said, “Put the phone down, we need to talk.”
“No, sorry, you need to talk and I need to listen. You talked when you definitely should have whispered. And if you think I'm stepping back out of your ass, think again.”
He sat down and said, “Ok, show me how to kiss ass properly because I think I'm starting with yours.”
“No, you don't have to kiss mine at all. But, when it comes to respecting people whom you will be working with and who work for you, you respect them at all costs if you're working with me.”
“So, is it going to be this way every argument?”
“Telling me to get out.”
“No, but if you think you'll lay an ultimatum of ruining a day that's planned because you're in a huff, then hell yeah I will.
Who the fuck needs Gregg's bad assed attitude when Ty hits prima donna?”
He looked at me and said, “That was a low blow.”
“No hon, that was reality. You think you can throw it out there and I'm to ignore it? Your mom died.
If that's what you meant by your mom stepping off into your ass, I think I understand her more now. She took pride in her business because she kept it going and she viewed what you did as a threat to it's livelihood.”
“No, I can see your point, but everything us kids did was blown up into a big ordeal.”
“Ty, here's the way I look at things and then you look at them too. It's called T.O.T.A.L. . TODAY, I let you do something, OFFENSIVE. TOMORROW, I ALLOW you to do it again and the day after, LIFE is what happens because it will happen every day after that.
also how you break a bad habit. Today, tomorrow and for life, I will
stop it from happening.”
“So, you're all upset over a bad habit?”
“Today, you offended this person. Is tomorrow going to be someone else? Because I'll tell you now, I'll stop it too but the day after, I'll tell you where I will draw the line. I'll begin getting rid of my bad habit.”
“So who's laying out ultimatums here?”
“I am. Three strikes bud and you're out. You will not fuck with that funeral home, or disgrace any part of my life and trot on down the road of life with me.”
He looked at me and said, “So that's how it's going to be?”
“We can end it now because I won't budge.”
“Let me think on it.”
“You going to get your suit? or should I tell the tailor he doesn't have one big enough for the attitude you've packed on?”
“I think you all should go without me. I'll find a different suit.”
“Let me contact everyone and tell them to get their own. If I'm not going to be in this family, then they can count me out of this.”
I picked up the phone and dialed Joan's number. She answered and I said, “Joan, Ty and I are having issues. Today's canceled.”
“Well, he doesn't believe he has any asses to kiss in business and doesn't like being told he's going to have to do it. So, I told him I wouldn't be tolerating my business being torn down over someone disrespected people who work for me. He now has backed out and has to “think” about our relationship, so if I'm not in the family, I'll have to cancel out.”
“Put him on the phone now!”
I handed the phone over to him and got up to go wash dishes. I could hear him talking on the phone and they were followed by long silences.
Then, he came into the room and said, “I owe you an apology. My aunt just laid out to me every ass she kisses in her job out there at the hospital. She told me if I thought I'd not get through life not doing it, then to kiss away the money because the banker's ass should be at the top of my list.”
I turned to him and said, “Ty, if this is what you called bitching by your mom, then we'll be unhappy. I'm not going to even pretend I won't step in it each and every time I think you need it when it comes to business.
There's a reason people are flocking to me in droves and that's because I don't fuck up when it comes to details. I pay attention to the little things people let slide and mentally kick myself long and hard each and every time I don't remember something.
Now, one thing you will see today is I've already done the work on some of these calls, but I still call to follow up. You know why? Because I never count on a person opening an email.
If they did, great. If they didn't, then my phone call made them aware it was there. Occasionally, I've found emails in my own spam box, so I know it happens. Are we made up?”
I held open my arms and said, “Ty, if I'm in the wrong, you'll see me back down and admit it. However, I'm the wrong person to throw attitude at when I know I'm right.”
“Let it drop.”
“Ok, let's go make some phone calls. I was just about to call the detail man to come get the limo. You want to call him?”
“What do I tell him?”
“For him, be cheerful and tell him the name of our funeral home and we have the limo needing it's usual detail, wash, and wax. He'll try to throw in wanting the trunk cleaned and the top shampooed. Tell him no bodies have been in the trunk and the tops still fluffy.”
“It's a joke between us. The first time he asked if I wanted a shampoo for the top, I asked him if it made it fluffy. He about died laughing.”
“That's what I asked. Apparently, it's special and it keeps the vinyl on the top all glossy shiny and reflecting sunlight so it doesn't build up unnecessary heat and dry and crack.”
“Oh, so we get it in the Summer time and no other time?”
“Well, the way I've been doing it is I have it done June, July, Aug, and then in November, February and maybe in April or May. It's been done this month, so don't worry about it.”
“I'm going to have to remember this stuff.”
“Well, I'm trying to think of a different way of doing it, but I haven't thought of it.”
“How about if we do it January, April, June, July, August, and September. That's every quarter with the Summer filled.”
“Ok, but I'd like to have it so we have it done in December and not in January. January is property and personal tax time, so I'd like to have it at that time.”
“Why don't we just tell the guy when we want him to do it and then tell him we won't be charged anything more, or pay by the year?”
“Hon, that'd be fine but what if he messes up two months down the road and we're stuck with him for the next ten months?”
“How many times a week do you have him do it?”
“Sometimes one or two and other times none. It depends on if we have a funeral or not.”
“How about I get a price for twice a week for the full treatment and pay for it for a year.”
“How about not. Didn't you hear what I just said?”
“Loud and clear. You're going to hold what 'might' happen against a guy who's done the job for what? Two years? Pretty insecure there, aren't you? So, I'll trust the dude and pay for it and if you're not happy, we'll switch guys.”
“Ok, Sorry Ty, you have me on that one.”
“No, I can understand, but sometimes we're going to have to trust people. Do you pay for that newspaper ad for Mary for the year in advance? What happens if they fuck up? Why do you trust them and not someone else?”
“Ok Ty, call the guy, we've got to be leaving here sometime today.”
“What time is it?”
“It's nearly time to leave and I've got to call the florist and the newspaper about the obituary.”
“What's the florist number, you call one and I'll call the other.”
“You call the paper and I'll..... No, you've got to learn this stuff. Just listen to me make the calls and you can see how it goes. Or, you can get on the other extension and listen and then, you'll know how it goes.”
“I'll listen. Then, I'll know what they say. Is it pretty much the same thing each time?”
“Yeah, for us it is. Other funeral homes don't color coordinate their funerals and I do. But, they're used to me doing it this way and that's what matters.”
“Isn't that a real headache for them?”
“Hon, in this situation, they pucker and kiss. I don't.
I told you about how they can suddenly not be received here and if you think I'll take one arrangement which isn't coordinated, then there better be a spot on the card whichtells me the customer wasn't charged because I will certainly call the customer to ask.”
“No, that's called lying Ty and if they'll to it, I'll certainly call the owner and tell them to kindly tell any customer they don't deliver flowers here because I certainly won't accept them from his business.”
“No, that's called flexing muscle hon. Would they get that shit off with a wedding planner? Not no, but hell no!
This funeral costs more than most weddings and they make more money from these flowers. I'll show you each arrangement and tell you what each costs. The cheapest one which is a single flower costs their customer twenty five dollars. Most of them will be one hundred dollars.
How would you feel if that spray on your mom's casket wasn't pink roses but the florist decided to throw some yellow, blue, and some white carnations while he's at it?”
“I'd ask if I was getting it cheaper.”
“I'd tell him to take it back and get me what I ordered. You'd not accept a sandwich at a restaurant different, so don't tolerate it if it's something that matters to someone else.
How would you feel if that Escalade was hot pink with bright orange flames? Would you want that in a funeral procession?”
“No, I'd tell them to take it to Jeff Gordon.”
“Who the hell is Jeff Gordon? Someone you went to school with?”
“No, he's like a stud puppy that's a professional race car driver.”
“Oh, what kind?”
“You have no clue, do you?”
“No, but if he's a stud puppy, I'll look at him.”
“Come here, I'll pull up his pic.”
He had the name Googled in 3 fast seconds.
“See that's him there.”
“Nice, but who's the hottie next to him.”
“That's Junior Johnson.”
“Let me tell you one thing, that Johnson ain't junior. Look at that!”
“Hardly what I was working with last night.”
“Hon, that wasn't fair of me. I don't like it when people do it to me, but let me rephrase that.....”Why, doesn't that man in that other racing suit strike a most intriguing pose!”
He laughed and said, “Well, you have your hottie and I have mine. Jeff's nice looking.”
“Well, a bit mousy if you ask me. Let's make the phone call to Mary Lou at the paper. She'll be nice for you to speak with. She's a real doll.”
“Mary Lou, how do I ask for her?”
“When the receptionist answers, ask to speak with Mary Lou.
If you ask to speak to the editor, then you'll get told one moment and get her voice mail. It took me going down there and threatening for me to pull all my ads and pay to start a newspaper to get to speak with her. Now, I use it to the fullest.”
“Yeah, every time for three weeks I got put on voice mail. Finally, I said enough was enough and went down there. They had a letter wrong on the name of the funeral home and rather than being Green it was Greene which looked stupid. It wasn't my name and it really pushed the wrong button with me. So, I went down and told them to correct it, or I'd open a paper and advertise in it.”
What did she do? She quickly realized someone had used a printer's mark at the wrong spot and whoever had set the type, or whatever they do, thought it was an e at the end of it. She showed me the original and I had to admit it was an honest mistake, but she did give me three weeks worth of advertising free. And, she gave me the key to talking to her real fast. Since then, I've used it.”
“Wow, pays to complain.”
He called Mary Lou and when he got her on the line, he said, “One moment, what am I supposed to ask her?”
“Ask her if your mom's obituary is in the paper.”
She says it is and they'd been trying to reach dad for additional photos for the stories in the paper. She says they used stock photos of her at some business function with the distributorship.”
“Tell her to go to my website and pull all the photos they want off it. I want a whole special section for her from when she began to current. Tell her the woman was an icon and there aren't many distributorships ran by women.”
“She says she realizes what she was, she said she did business with her.” He laughed.
I grabbed the phone from him, “Mary Lou?”
“Hi hon, that kid's laughing, I know what she was. She was a low life scheming two bit rotten skanky whore.” she said running out of breath.
“Wow hon, how about you tell me what you really think?”
“The bitch has been fucking my son for the past three years.”
“Wow, so now we know who your son is!”
“They know about it?”
“The kids know, but not the husband.”
“So what they going to do out there?”
“Well, starting next week everyone's going to be fired. The good one's they'll keep, but I'm afraid your son fucked himself out of a job. The other guy has already been fired.”
“You guys work fast. I was wondering if anyone would have the balls to do it.”
“Well, everyone realized it was either change it or let the business run itself into the ground. So, we decided to put Mitch in and run it.”
“I thought he didn't want to run it.”
“Well, it seems his wife wasn't as good listener as she should have been.
If she's really listened, she would have heard him say he wanted to run it together. All she heard was he didn't think he could do it alone. So, she played Rambo with it and her marriage.”
“Did I mention she was a dumb bitch?”
“Yeah, and I'm not inclined to argue, so what we'll need is the eulogy and remembrances with a special edition of the newspaper.”
“If I had my choice, she'd not be getting a thing.”
“If I had my choice, my lover would have had an adorning and devoted mom. Instead, she was out fucking your son. Who should I blame there? Her, or the one that took part just as much.”
“She was a manipulative cunt and you know it.”
“Yeah, and your point is? Just because there's one around doesn't mean he had to fill it.
Instead, he could have turned a blind eye and said, “Not today, I'm gay and someone else would have did it. Instead, he's definitely lost his job because Gregg really wants to whip his ass.”
“Well, keep the kid away from him and I'll have him out there drop off the company truck. You want the kegmeister back?”
“Well, if it's company property, it comes back. We'll be doing an audit to see what is missing.”
“You're not going to get a lot of it Lance.”
“We might not, but we'll also have a new accounting system which will enable us to write off the loss. You know how the game's played, but from now on, what they give out as advertising is going to be written to account holders and not to anyone whio thinks they want a sign.”
“You'll lose customers.”
“What they going to drink? Miller? Coors? You know that's not dependent upon a pretty sign, tell them to get if off ebay.”
She laughed and said, “Lance, the only reason I'm giving you what you want is because I know those kids just inherited a hell of a lot of money. Don't tell me how, but more than your family knows they got almost a hundred million.”
“Oh really, because my totals are up to about seventy, where's the other so I can look?”
“Look where she wouldn't want you to look is all I can say.”
“Well, that could be easier than that because I've already seen what I didn't want to see.”
“You're a gay man hon. If you were straight and married and you were screwing around on your wife, where wouldn't you want her to look?”
“I'll figure it out.”
“You won't probably before it's too late. That's what's fucked up.”
“See ya Mary Lou, I've got a business to run.”
As soon as I got off the phone, I said, “Ty, where aren't we looking because she says there's another thirty million laying around someplace and if we don't act fast, it'll be gone.”
“What was the clue?”
“Where wouldn't your mom want us to look?”
“What else did she say?”
“If I were screwing around on you, where would I not want you to look?”
“Did she have a house for he and her?”
don't know hon, all I know is if we don't act, it will be lost.”
“I'll call Gregg in and I'll have to tell Dad because he can get an accountant in on the books.
We'll have to look at all the company's accounts and the land titles and vehicles. Is there inventory somewhere I'm not thinking of? Is she in business with someone that has a survivor's benefit? Who's the lawyer?
She did tell me there's nearly a hundred million you guys inherited. From what I can figure, the sixty from the insurance and the twelve from the account only bring it to seventy.”
“How does she know this?”
“She said someone else is aware. But, how would they know what everyone else has gotten unless someone's telling.”
“They can't be. The only ones that know are Dad, Me, Gregg, Heather, You, Aunt Joan and Uncle Mark.”
“Well, let's call your Uncle Mark and see who else would know.”
“Well, let's call Mark and get him on this and then call the florist.”
“Ok, you want to speak to him? You know what was said.”
I called Mark and he was perplexed as to whom would know. Then, the thought struck him it had to be someone with the bank. As soon as he said this, I said, “So, you're telling me the money that went into my account, would be assumed to be theirs?”
“I'm not saying, but that's the only link we have locally outside of the family and I know no ones talking because that figure is way off.”
“Well, is there a way she could have opened another account without you knowing?”
“Anyone can open an account anywhere. You know that.
But, you should also check her credit report to see where the accounts are located. If not, it's a life insurance policy and I'm not sure there.”
“So, if it's not a life insurance policy, we'll find it. If it is, where else can someone get a death certificate?”
“That's your department.”
“I get mine from the coroner or the hospital. Joan would know where else to get those.”
“Let me let you speak to her and then you two can brainstorm. That's completely out of my realm.”
Joan came on the line and she said, “You're supposed to be here in ten minutes.”
“Oh man, I'm forgetting. Would you grab your phone book and make phone calls for me while I drive? I've got a ton of things I've got to do and tell Mark to fill you in when we're driving over there as this is perplexing.”
“Ok hon, drive safe.”
When I got off the phone, Ty was standing there with a bemused smile upon his face. He had everything piled and ready.”
“Your coat sir.”
“Ty, you drive and I'll call the florist. I've also got to call the Coroner.”
“Did your mom have any other Wills besides the one she had with your dad?”
“None that I can think. Why?”
“Well, it's perplexing me as to how that other money she's referring.”
“Would CD's or stocks be something that's on the credit report?”
“No, it's too fluid. Wait a minute. Mark said your mom was forever trading in stocks. Call your Aunt and tell her we're going to be making a detour to the offices out there and ask your dad to find out who her stock broker was. That all needs to be frozen.”
“Man, this is complex.”
“Yeah, and if you guys didn't know where the stocks were, and that guy out there has them, he could cash them.”
“That'd be embezzlement, wouldn't it?”
“Yeah as long as he's employed, but as soon as he's not employed, it's not...especially if your mom snuck it into his contract what he's holding of hers is turned over to him.”
“So, what does that mean?”
“A trip to her office to see what his contract states.”
“What if he doesn't have a contract?”
“If he doesn't, your mom screwed the pooch when it comes to being a business woman.”
“So whomever we have working for us has to have an employment contract.”
“Yeah, that and a confidentiality contract, and whatever I can bind them with so they can't take information out of the funeral home.”
“Wow, so that's where the lawyer comes in?”
“Yeah, and who was your mom's lawyer?”
“Good, he's mine. Let me call him too.”
“Man, I need to make a list.”
“Ty, we don't do this for everyone. Maybe I need to, but this got complicated real fast.”
“Do you want me to call someone?”
“I'd love for you to, but after what Mary Lou just said, I'd hate for you to hear what people really thought of your mom.”
“It was funny. At least she told the truth.”
“Yeah, and I'd be willing to bet you that she'll be dabbing a tear tonight when she's speaking to your dad.”
“Man, what a fake bitch!”
“Yeah, and what an official ass kisser. You know as well as I do that she knows how the game's played.”
“Well, do I have to do that too?”
“You can do whatever you want if you whisper it without the customer hearing. Believe me, I'll be in there shedding that tear.”
“You do it too?”
“How do you think I'd shed a tear for you mom? How rightfully do you think I'd shed a tear for a man that molested his whole family? How do you think I'd shed a tear for a man who died in a car wreck after he wiped out a whole family driving drunk?
But, you know what? I do it because it's business. In this business, you'll see things and hear things which will make your blood boil and run cold.
I'm sure in Mary Lou's profession, she's heard things too. We all have. You'd see shit if you were running a hotel that would make you wonder how the hell a man who's got a loving wife and three adoring kids could be taking the church organist into a room in a motel.”
“You never thought it'd happen?”
“Man, that'd be too much!”
“Nah, I'd have that room wired for sound and video.”
“No, because what would you do if the fucker was flopping around in there having the big one and the organist ran out the door? Wouldn't you like to be able to answer that question when the police asked?”
“Oh man, that shit really happens, huh?”
“More often than you know.”
“You sound like you know something.”
“Can't divulge, but you better believe it happened.”
“Did they do anything to the organist?”
“Who? The Sheriff's department? Let me say the man died of natural causes and no one was the wiser.
His family was led to believe the man had a heart attack in the lobby of that hotel while he was out there to visit a business contact.”
“Oh man, damage control, huh?”
“Yeah, and it's a stinking game, but we're involved because we get the end result and all the pieces of the puzzle wind up in our laps. It's also called damage control when that organist comes to view the body.”
“Yeah, but that's another issue because your dad's going to find this stuff out and tomorrow night, we're going to have a visitation.”
“Is there a way we can do it so dad doesn't find out?”
“Yeah, but it's called felonious restraint.”
“Taking someone forcibly and making them tell you what they know.”
“So, do we look at every legal channel, or do we skip to the doing it the easy way?”
“Let's do everything we can to keep dad from finding out and then if we can't, we'll let dad know.”
“Well, your Aunt knows, so we'll work with her on it.”
“Mom told her!”
“No, I did. She has to know.”
“Oh, how'd she handle it?”
“She's pissed. She thought she knew your mom.”
“We all did. Mom only let people know what she wanted them to.”
“True, and so do we hon. A wise man told me to ask questions about what I wasn't hearing and I need to give him a call.”
“Get me the Coroner's phone number.”
He dialed it and I put the phone on speaker.
“Lance Green here.”
“Oh hi Lance, how's it going?”
“Good, and you?”
“Well, it's better than it was yesterday. Nothing out of the ordinary.”
“Good. Ben, I've got a few questions I need answered and you're someone that can give me the answers off the record.”
“I'll do what I can and what I can't, I'll try to get you answers.”
“Ok, if I was the holder of stocks or a life insurance policy, where would I get a death certificate if I didn't go to you, or me?”
“You really should have known that answer.”
“I get it from the hospital or you.”
“Didn't they teach you anything in that fancy school you went to?”
“Probably did, but I probably was sleeping in that day.”
He laughed and said, “I doubt it, who the hell else aces Mortuary School and comes out with all the teachers giving him references so he can get that big of a loan?”
I chuckled and said, “Well, I was serious, what can I say!”
“I heard.” He chuckled. “But seriously, here's what you've got. You can get that at the recorder in the county where you send them to be registered, or you can get them from the state Health Department. What's required there is a driver's license or a birth certificate. You have to show identification and demonstrate you're family.”
“What if you aren't family and you were fucking the deceased and your mom's editor of the city newspaper?”
“Oooh, that nasty piece of information got out did it?”
“She never hid it. I was wondering when it'd surface it's little head.”
“Tell me what you knew and what to do so I can find out where this insurance policy or stocks are located?”
“The woman wasn't discrete. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, she'd have lunch at TJ's. They had a back table and desert would be at Motel 6.”
“So, where would I find the stocks or insurance policy?”
“Well, here's what you don't do. But, first let me ask a question?”
“The Will hasn't been read yet, has it?”
“Then, don't read it until you find everything. If you do, then legally what was hers has been disbursed to all known heirs. If the Will's not read, nothing's technically been disbursed until you find everything. That way the person who has possession can't get rid of it without violating the law.”
“Well, there's about half a dozen, but the big one is the one that's included in the capital murder law. It states anyone profiting from the deceased's death has to make their position known to the attorney of the family.
Now, if I were you, I'd put ads in the paper and the county papers all around here publishing that anyone having any interest in the estate of your client need to make themselves known. Then, if they don't show and sell anything, you've got him by his short and curlies.”
“Ok, where do we look?”
“I'll contact the various life insurance companies and the recorder up at the court house and tell them to get me information. If it's already been gotten, I can't get you anything.
But, if Mary Lou uses her position at the paper to do it, then it can be gotten under the FOIA Freedom of Information Act and you'll not be able to do much.
But, if she's knowingly violating the law and getting it for him, then that's punishable by the same laws as capital murder in our state. He'll face time all the way up to the death penalty...but, it's not likely to happen in our county.
So, what I'd do is contact the proper authorities, which are you and me and we'll require anyone who is getting that death certificate's name, address, and all the information we can. They'll not get it from me since I know there's legal questions being asked. And, you don't give it to anyone either.
You give it to the family and you see them seal it in the envelope and you mail it registered yourself to that insurance company. How big of a policy are we talking here?”
“Ummm, we don't know, but I'll tell you what I know.”
“Ok, that's fair.”
“The kids and her husband had ten million policies that when the accident happened, received double indemnity.”
“Ok, iffy, but I won't argue it.”
“I wondered about that myself, but you know how they don't really require anything but the death certificate and since it wasn't anything other than an accident, it won't be investigated.”
“So, Mary Lou dropped a figure of one hundred million when I was speaking with her.”
“Nice chunk of change.”
“Yeah, but does she know about the double indemnity, or doesn't she. If she does and her son is holding a policy, does it work for him too? I'm not sure if he knows or doesn't.”
“Wow. I can see where you don't know the numbers. Ok, here's what I'm going to do. I'll nose around and see what I can find. You'll know where I've been because people I've spoken to won't speak to you due to an ongoing investigation. You've been there before and I have too.
What we need to do is wait until she's dumped in the ground and then crack open an investigation.”
“Won't that have them exhuming her?”
“Lance, look at the picture. I
f she's in the ground and we don't say anything was wrong with the body, they won't exhume her. If we crack it open, believe me, they'll have all sorts of pathologists, and cameras all over your property working on her.
We'd see her buried late this Summer with how slow they work but we'd know the complete DNA of the last six sex partners she had.”
“Yeah, but you get her dropped and then I'll start going official with an investigation.
You might prepare the family for some questions being asked, but I'll go light on them since I know it's not them. But, don't say a word and don't let anyone else know.
Most of all, don't terminate anyone's employment out there.”
“They already did one. And, he was her last paramour.”
“Oh, who's that?”
“His first name's Rick.”
“Ok, I'll go ask him questions and he'll gladly talk. If he thinks he's about to go into the fire for the current guy she was with, he'll sing like a canary. Especially since I'll be quoting law and showing him the laws which will have him doing life if I don't get answers.
It's nice in my job because they give me powers of being the sheriff but people don't know I've got those powers. In fact, did you know I can deputize people?”
“Yeah, never did it before, but I think it's neat. What you don't know is because I'm on that payroll with those powers, I'm in the Sheriff's association and get that retirement benefit and pension.”
“Wow. I think I'll run after you get done.”
He laughed and said, “I'll have you deputized beforehand and then, you can be my successor. No one wants this job.”
“Well, you know I'm out there anyway, so I may as well be the one who makes the money.”
He laughed and said, “You'll have Cora White dropping to both knees and checking her bra.”
“You shouldn't talk about her.”
“How that woman can think she's God's gift to men, I'll never know. She wasn't that nice of a catch when she was younger and Lord knows she tried that old trick enough to get all of them she could. You really need to be thankful you are the way you are.”
I laughed and said, “Well, I forewarned Ty about all of the trick's that'd get played on him and he was blown away by that one.”
“Well, there are men in this town too, you know.”
“Yeah, and that's too gross to even begin to tell him about.”
“Well, you need to because you know the moment you don't tell him, will be the moment one makes his presence known.”
“Yeah, but I'm covering the bases gradually. If I sat him down and told him everything at once, he'd be too afraid of everyone to even move.”
Ty was looking at me and I nodded.
“Well, you need to tell him about Charlie White and then you'll have the worst out of the way in my book. He hasn't been around anymore, has he?”
“No, but I imagine he'll be again here soon.”
“That disgusting son of a bitch needs to be arrested, but he's not doing anything illegal by asking.”
“No, but I think if they ever did write a law for what he does, it should be entitled Charlie White's law so he's publicly humiliated.”
“What would you entitle it?”
“Proposition of pandering of a corpse!”
We both laughed and Ty had a shocked look on his face. I told Ben I needed to get off the phone as I was going to get fitted for a suit and thanked him for the info and anything he could find for me in advance.
We rang off and Ty asked, “You mean the man comes and asks to have sex with dead people!”
“Yeah, he comes by and doesn't mention a dollar figure, but says, “I'll make it worth your while”.
Well, it's never going to be worth my while, but you know what is disgusting? He's apparently done this because he thinks he can continue to do it.”
“Yeah, and it's so bad with the guy, Ben knows about it.”
“That man knows a lot doesn't he?”
“Yeah, and he'll do a lot if he likes you. He's the one who had the hard on for your brother over that death.”
“Well, I understand. When everything's done, let him know Gregg's changed and what really happened.”
“I imagine he'll have found it out. People have ways of finding things out.”
“Do me a favor and pass that along directly.”
“He did have some good advice.”
“Yeah, and he's willing to step in and help me. That's a friend in this business.”
“What have you done for him?”
“Well, if you must know, not much. That isn't to say I didn't do anything.
What I did was treated him like a human being since everyone else just treats him like a robot who dispenses the paperwork to them. They don't ask how he is, or who he is, all they want is the paperwork.”
“Oh, I had teachers like that.”
“Pisses you off when it happens to you, doesn't it?”
“Yeah, and it's totally strange if they're suddenly nice to you."
" That's why it's nice when someone comes along and treats you like a human. That's what I did. I came on the scene and started talking to him. Then, he started telling me how things were ran and started giving me pointers as to whose ass to kiss and who to leave alone.”
“Yeah, and what's amazing is he's the first upon the scene and subtle little suggestions by him are sending business my way.”
“What do you mean?”
“He's the Coroner. When someone dies, he's called in. Now just imagine he gets on the scene and rules a person deceased and then he says, “Should I call Green's? They're top notch.” Sometimes, that's all it takes for someone to give me the business and then, when I'm doing it, the person hasn't ever heard of me before and is blown away by how well they were treated. What's good is they then go out and tell others and the people who come to the visitation and funeral. It's like a snowball rolling downhill, but it started with him telling that person something he didn't have to.”
“Wow, you really do owe him don't you!”
“Yeah, and you know what?”
“That man getting a poinsettia at Christmas and a Christmas card had that man in tears. Not one other person remembered him. That's bullshit Ty.”
“Oh man, we got to find out his birthday and take him to lunch.”
“Yeah, and remember his anniversary or something.”
“He knows about me?”
“He saw me hugging you up the hill that night.”
“Oh. He didn't think anything bad about us?”
“No, he told me he understands and said to fuck the ones who didn't.”
We turned off the road going up to Joan's and I saw a vehicle parked down where Wendy was found. Ty saw me pause and said, “Who's that?”
“I don't know, but we're going down to see.”
I drove on down there and hit the strobes on my truck since I was parked along a busy highway. I got out and went down the embankment. A man I didn't know was there looking things over and I said, “May I help you?”
“This your property?”
“No, it's those people up there. Do they know you're down here?”
“No, just looking over the scene for my insurance company.”
“Oh, which one is that?”
“Ummm, who are you?”
“Lance Green. I run the funeral home where the body was taken. Here's my credentials.”
“Oh, interesting, I was going to speak with you.”
“Good, now tell me what insurance company you're with, so I can help you.”
“Life and Casualty.”
“You here for the family?”
“Well, I'm here for an heir.”
“Which one? They're all up in that house.”
“Oh really, the one I'm here for isn't.”
“Then, he's not a legal heir.”
“Maybe not a legal heir, but one just the same. He's listed as a beneficiary on the policy.”
“Anyone else listed on that policy?”
“The decedent's children.”
“So, who's the guy?”
“I can't divulge.”
“Well, let me say one thing. You might hold off on that payment because the kids don't know about you. I just spoke with the Coroner and he's about to open an investigation on fraudulent insurance claims.”
“Yeah, it seems we were prepared for one coming out of the woodwork. Now, would your company pay someone if the policy listed a beneficiary who was breaking the law?”
“No, it'd go to the other beneficiaries.”
“Ok, so your beneficiary whom I'm sure called you, called and he wants you to pay the claim?”
“Yes, and he's listed it as a double indemnity as she was driving a company vehicle.”
“True, but he's not a member of the corporation. He's a paramour of the decedent and in this state, that's breaking the law. So, unless he's got another claim to the insurance other than being her boyfriend, I'd say he's shot out of it.”
“He didn't mention being a paramour”
“I'm sure he didn't. But, if it's who I think it is, he and you need to know that the claiming of that money without being a legal heir is punishable in this state under the capital crimes law.”
“Yeah, so give him a check and I'll see he's put in prison the rest of his life. That's why he's being investigated.
Now, when you speak with him ask him if it means so much to him and I'm sure he'll back off into the little den he's made for his self.”
“This is certainly enlightening.”
“Yeah, so do an investigation.”
“Can I take a look at the body?”
“No, you have no official capacity in that manner and I won't allow sightseers in my funeral home. You're welcome to the visitation, but if you touch that body, I'll have you arrested. You got me?”
“You act like you're hiding something yourself.”
“No, I know the law and I know what you're allowed to do and not. That man who's asked you to do this has fucked that woman in her life and I'll be damned if he asks it be done after she's dead.”
“I thought I might be able to see if the body is intact and everything's on the up and up.”
“It is. I'll tell you when I found the body, a limb from that tree was found embedded into her chest. The death was investigated by the Sheriff's department and the Coroner. Both found she died as a result of automobile accident.”
“Anything other than that?”
“No inquest or autopsy were performed, but her blood was analyzed. She was found under the effects of alcohol, but that's it.”
“You don't think it seems suspicious?”
“Sir, nothing in my duty has me believing otherwise. I could give enough evidence to prove suicide if that's what you're insinuating, but I'm also telling you there was enough doubt to rule it an accident.
I think if the professionals had seen it was anything other than an accident, you'd be writing off the policy as unpayable due to suicide.
It's not, but your lawyers can try and when they don't get that found in a court of law, I'm sure the family will gladly sue your company for the defamation of character.”
“Whoa. No one's talking anything other than what we've discussed.”
“Good. Leave it unturned and you won't turn up anything that won't come back to bite you.”
“You sound like you're more personally involved is why I'm asking.”
“No, in my line of work, I get personally involved. It's my duty to give the family the best care I can so one death doesn't lead to others. That's called grief therapy and I am a licensed grief counselor.”
“Ok, sounds like you're doing a service.”
“Yeah, and it's no extra cost to them. What it does, is gains me their trust for the future.”
“Yeah, you might not care where they spend the insurance money, but for me, it's my livelihood and any future moneys in the future when they need services are gladly brought to me.”
“So you're insuring for future business!”
“Yeah, if we're down to the nuts and bolts of it.”
He smirked and said, “Well, you're honest.”
“Gotta be otherwise you think there's something there which isn't.”
“Good, care if I go speak to the Coroner?”
“Sure, now let me give you a bit of advice with him. He's a nice guy...if you treat him as a human being...and not a figurehead who shoves papers at you. If you treat him as a figurehead, you won't get far with him.”
"He's in his office now as I just spoke with him myself.”
“You speak to him often.”
“About once a week off business, but on business, about as often as I need to.
He's helped me and I help him. Few others do that.
In this situation, I alerted him as I'd been notified by the editor of our newspaper this family was about to receive around a hundred million off this woman's death.
My figures don't add up to that and amazingly, I don't know how her's come to that. I know the family hasn't spoken with her, but she happens to be the mother of your beneficiary besides the children. By the way, how much is that policy worth?”
“I didn't say?”
“You'd know if you told me.”
“Yeah, I know. But, you've been upfront with me and I'll be upfront here. It's twenty five million. If the double indemnity kicks in, which it probably will, then each of them will get nearly seventeen million.”
“Isn't it strange to you she'd take care of the boyfriend better than she would her own husband?”
“I'm finding it really strange since it's on the policy that it's listing him as secretary of their corporation.”
“Oh really? That might be interesting to that guy up there in that truck of mine since he's listed on their corporation with the state as that title.”
“Who's up there in the truck?”
“The youngest son of the decedent You'll have him on there as Tyson.”
“Oh, you think he'd speak to me?”
“I wouldn't ask him a thing without his lawyer present. Especially if you're not in any official capacity to do so.”
“So, you're telling me to lay off this kids and go after the guy and find him fraudulently claiming to be something other than what he is on the papers? You do realize this could nullify the entire policy.”
“You do realize me being the little bird telling him who you are will have him contacting his lawyer to sue the shit out of your company won't look good, don't you?”
“You'd be correct.”
“Well, I'll get you the paperwork which states he isn't the secretary of the corporation and you find him unfit. That's all you really need to do.”
“Well, I can do that without your input. All I have to do is contact the Secretary of State's office.
I think I'll go that route. He'll get a letter stating a discrepancy has been found and he'll be welcome to contest it by legal channels.
My company will go ahead and make checks payable to the heirs we have found on the paperwork to be legal.”
“What else has she got listed on the paperwork?”
“She has Tyson listed as Vice President and Greggory listed as President.”
“Well, that's all messed up. Ty is Secretary and Gregg is Vice President. Her husband is President.”
“She had this paperwork made out for after a divorce. They're not divorced?”
“No, I'd say she was counting her chickens before they hatched. I do think it would have happened in about five years, but that didn't happen and I don't think there's any paperwork to prove it was more than a figment of her imagination.”
“So, you're telling me the other heir would be her husband.”
“Yes if you find him to be. But, without him being on that paperwork, I'd say you'd not be legally entitled to give him a thing.”
“Well, you'd be right there. It's going to be messy if he contests it, but the other guy is going to be laughed out of court.”
“I doubt if the husband contests it. He's splitting most everything up between the kids anyways, but we've decided to not tell him until after the funeral about her infidelities.”
“That's smart. It could be real messy if not.”
“You telling me!”
“Can I give you a call if I need other input from you?”
“Sure, my funeral home number is in the book. I do require appointments as I'll be busy with funerals.”
“That so? You must be busy.”
“Well, it keeps me hopping.”
“I guess that's good for you, but people like me, it means we have to get out and hit the bushes.”
“I'm glad I saw you by the tree then because it saved you from making a very serious error.”
“I'll go back and contact the Secretary of State's office and that should conclude my investigation.
As a matter of my business, I'll go to the Coroner, and that's just a formality, but I think I know what's went on and how to go about it.”
“Good, and once again, if you need anything, feel free to call.”
He nodded and we climbed our way up the embankment. He never acknowledged Ty in the truck.
When I got into the Escalade, Ty was instantly telling me, “Do you realize you were down there for twenty minutes!”
“Do you realize in that twenty minutes, I made you and Gregg two and a half million a minute?”
“That life insurance policy the man was investigating was for twenty five million. It was made out to you, Gregg, and that prick who was her boyfriend. He's not getting a thing because she listed him as a member of the corporation.”
“Yeah, she had the insurance policy like she was already divorced. It's got you as Vice President and Gregg as President, but the boyfriend is listed as Secretary.”
“Oh. Well, it was kind of her to move us up instead of putting the jerk as President!”
“Yeah, but it's not legal. This guy's going to find the guy isn't legally entitled to a thing and you boys will get everything.”
“Can't he still give her boyfriend a check?”
“No, her boyfriend was breaking the law when he was put on the policy. Being listed as something other than what you are and doing it while you're screwing someone who's married is against the law in our state.”
“Well, adultery in our state is against the law to both parties. So, your mom might not be punished, but he sure can be still.”
“Oh” Ty chuckled “And that puts him out, huh?”
“Yeah, and with enough people being witness to their indiscretions, I'd say he's not in a good position. All you have to do is go get credit card receipts and motel records and you'd see he'd be found guilty...especially since there are witnesses to what happened between them everywhere she went.”
“How are we going to keep this from Dad?”
“I don't know, but I'll tell you what. If he doesn't know, we're going to have to find a good way to tell him and that's going to be hard.”
“Yeah, we'll have to wait until after the funeral.”
“He's going to ask because they've called three times and I told them you were down here talking with someone.”
“So, you want me to talk with him?”
“I don't know. What do you think?”
“Ty, I don't know. He's going to find out and if he gets questioned about this, then he will find out. What I do know is he wasn't listed on that policy. Only you, your brother, and that other guy were.”
“Oh, that's going to hurt his feelings.”
“I think what I need to do is speak with him and tell him privately.”
“Do you have to do that today?”
“No, but we don't know if he's going to go home and hear something on the answering machine at your house. Who knows what he's heard and what he hasn't?”
“Oh man, this is getting too much for me to handle.”
“Me too, but all I can say hon is when the water's flowing fast, swim towards shore but keep swimming because if you don't, you're found on down stream.”
“Yeah, but keep swimming hon and as long as I can, I'll keep you above water.”
“Ok, you know I love you, don't you?”
“Yeah, but your mom sure meant what she said about bringing me to my knees.”
“Well, let me say something and then you'll understand.
When I'm in doubt, I talk to Tony and tell him things.
Yesterday, when I was speaking to him, I heard your mom's voice and she said she loved him, and you in the best way she could, but before things got better, I'd be on my knees with what was requested of me.
Well, guess what? I'm there because this one is taking me down.”
“No, I've never ever had to tell a man his wife whom he loved was unfaithful and tried to list her boyfriend as a beneficiary.”
“Yeah, this has got to suck for you.”
“In more ways than you know. I don't doubt you, but if Gregg learned it from your mom, he doesn't know I'll watch him like a hawk.”
“I will too. We're not going to repeat these mistakes again.”
“No, I'd say we shouldn't, but a part of me says Gregg might.”
“If he does, he'll screw everything up.”
“Well, keep your eyes open and hope, hon.”
“I will, but I don't even know what to look for.”
“Well, as you heard, you mom got to the point she wasn't even trying to hide it anymore.”
“Yeah, what an embarrassment she was making of herself.”
“No, I think she cared for the guy. Her mistake was not finalizing things with your dad.
She wanted her cake and to eat it too. In life, that's fine if you can do it where other's aren't hurt, but when they find out after you've died, it only hurts the one's who are standing there mourning your passing.”
“Don't tell my dad.”
“It's hard hon. What I'm afraid of is him finding out and then looking at everyone and thinking we all knew and didn't tell him.”
“Oh. Well yeah. I can see your point. This is hard isn't it?”
“Yeah, so being responsible, I'd tell him. Being a member of the family, I'm not wanting to because I know how hurt he'll be.”
“Do what you think.”
“I just don't know.”
“Well, let's go up there and just ride with me on what I decide.”
We drove up and Joan came out to greet us. “What's going on Lance?”
“Joan, it's a mess, but I got it handled.”
“Hon, there's not enough time to tell you everything because I know he'll be out here in a moment, but she had a policy with Life and Casualty with the boyfriend listed as a beneficiary with the boys.
It seems she took better care of him than she did Mitch, but he's going to be found in violation of the terms of the policy and the boys will get it.
But, Mitch isn't listed on the policy. She had it written like she was already divorced.”
“Yeah, so, that's where I'm at.”
“How much was the policy for?”
“Twenty five million without the double indemnity kicking in.”
“Jemeny! That's incredible! She definitely believed in insuring herself.”
“Yeah, but she sure didn't believe in being discrete. We're finding out days, times, and places as to where she had the affair.”
“Oh man, Ty didn't hear, did he?”
but he's pretty much resigned to learning this stuff about her. What
I'm worried is Mitch discovering.”
“Hon, Mitch knows more than what he's saying. I think he's afraid to say anything for fear for hurting the kids' viewpoint of her.”
“Well, do I tell him?”
“I don't know. This is pretty much a hard way to go either way.”
“What would you do?”
“The business side of me would say to tell the family, but the personal side says the family will be hurt.”
“That's where I am.”
“Well, if you need me there when you tell him, I'll be there.”
“I don't know. I just don't want him told and then him thinking we all knew and didn't tell him. Well, here he comes, so we better get on with our day.”
We started to go inside and Mitch came out and greeted me, “Lance? Everything O.k.?”
“Mitch, I don't know what to tell you. Everything's fine legally, but not fine personally.”
“What do you mean?”
Joan was to my arm and said, “Lance, you're doing the right thing. Let's take him into the den and tell him.”
Mitch looked at us and said, “What's going on?”
“Well, let's go in here and then we'll get this little piece of unpleasantly out of the way and then afterwards, I'm going to insist you be my co-pilot for the rest of the day and we take the time we need so I can see you're fine.”
“Well, it's not fun.”
“From My Keyboard To Your Heart”,
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