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.
When we entered the den, Mitch said, “You want everyone here?”
“Not for a moment. Afterward, you can have them in if you want.”
Joan came in and said, “Lance, I'm going to sit next to him and then, we're going to discuss it and he'll know.”
Mitch looked at Joan and said, “What's wrong Sis?”
Joan looked pained and forgetting all sense of decorum, I sat on the coffee table directly in front of Mitch to look him directly in the eyes.
“Mitch, this is going to be as hard to tell you as it is for you to hear. It's to the point we've been torn on when to tell you, but we all agree you should know.”
“Ok, it's in regards to Wendy?”
“Yeah, so it's going to be hard because the situation we're in is getting tougher and tougher.
Each time we think we've got it handled, it comes back and rears it's ugly little head and now, it's calling in it's big brother.
Without communication with you, we're afraid someone else is going to tell you and that will be something which we're afraid will hurt you more than if we tell you ourselves.”
He looked at us and then lowered his head. “I think I know what you're going to say.”
“Well, Mitch, if you know, that's somewhat of a relief. Just the same, I think it's going to hurt you to know everyone knows and it's not something we really wanted.” I took a deep breath and said, “But, we love you and I believe she loved you too. I don't know where it went bad, but you told me you thought your marriage was dead and I'm now finding she thought it was there too.
What the problem is, I think, is I know you've stayed faithful to the marriage and she didn't.”
His face looked blank and for a brief moment, his face broke and I thought he was going to cry.
Then, he straightened up his back and said, “First of all, it's been thrown at me a time or two by her. I didn't want to believe her, but I also am not dumb and knew it was more than a rumor.
When little ladies are patting me on the arm in church and nodding sympathetically, I'm knowing more than she and I knew. So, how's it coming out?”
Joan hugged him and said, “Lance, just start off and tell him everything.”
“Well, first of all, Gregg knew.”
“Oh jeez....how's he taking it?”
“He hates his mother more because of what it's done to him and what he perceives it will do to you.”
“I'll have to have a talk with him and tell him I knew but I still loved her and hoped she's realize her mistake.”
“Then, what we now know is the guy that you fired yesterday was the first one.”
Mitch's shoulders slumped and said, “So, there's more than one?”
“Not at a time, but she went from one to another. The next one, however, was someone she got serious about. They've been an item for around three years and they've not kept it discrete.”
“What sort of indiscretions?”
“If I told you what I know, you'd be amazed at how many people could possibly know and what sort of character you've become in the community.
I'm going there because I want you to know and I want you to know the damages it could have caused you. If you want to sue the other person, I'd advise not, but it's character assassination on a larger scale than most.”
“Ok, so tell me what I'm facing and then we'll deal with it.”
“On Monday's, Wednesday's, and Friday's they had lunch at TJ's and then followed it up with afternoons spent at Motel 6. The man worked in the office out there and he's the son of the editor of the newspaper.”
Joan took an intake of breath and I continued.
“Mary Lou's got hard enough feelings for Wendy, that she didn't want to print any eulogy and obituary. I advised her against any defamation on her part. She's doing it reluctantly albeit she knows any retaliation is aimed at Wendy and not your family.”
He nodded and said, “Well, Wendy said he was well connected in the community. Now, I know.”
“Well, when I was on the phone with her, she told me you guys had inherited a hundred million. That figure to me seemed preposterous, but what I just discovered down the hill is Life and Casualty had a policy for twenty five million naming the boys and him as beneficiaries.”
Joan's hand went over her mouth and Mitch looked at me and said, “That's not going to fly...is it?”
“Well, I had a talk with the man down there and learned the double indemnity is kicking in too. He asked me a lot of questions. Adultery is illegal in this state and it's a class B felony, when it's prosecuted. What it means, is it's not a misdemeanor and it's punishable by prison time and not a slap on the wrist and /r a fine. What it also means is if someone does that on legal documents, like that policy, it could nullify it, or it could strike out the offending party which it will in this case.
Now, what that does do is it brings in the boys and they're going to get the money. I wanted you to know because they're going to get that much and unfortunately, you're not on it.”
“That's ok at least the boys will be taken care of.”
“Yeah, but it's got to hurt, and I want you to know you're the first person I thought of when I was told it.”
“That's ok, the love was gone and I knew it. All I had hoped was we could make it to Ty graduating. You know that, so I'd be a hypocrite if I should act otherwise. She had her life to lead and she was going on.”
“Yeah, but for her to do it in the manner she did, wasn't legal or morally upright. You, on the other hand, need to know in case any investigations come and they're surprised you're the husband.”
“You mean she listed him as the husband?”
“No, nothing that precarious. But she did list him as a secretary for the corporation.”
Mitch sneered and said, “So, where the hell was Ty's name listed upon this policy?”
“Well, fortunately, she did think of the kids better than Ty even imagined.”
“He knows too!”
“Yeah, it's came out and he's not surprised.”
“Ok, but everyone knows...?”
“Yeah, and they're all feeling like shit for how you must feel.”
“Oh, well, I just need to tell them I'm ok and that I had hopes for a future too.”
“Mitch, that wasn't how it was at the time she died, so what we need to do is leave it at the time of your losing her.
When any questions are asked, this is to be complete surprise and it's got to be made so you mourn her at the visitation and funeral. There are going to be people there whose tongues are going to wag and I want those fuckers, excuse my language, to think you're completely in the dark so they go back and sympathy falls upon you.
If anyone thinks otherwise, it looks bad all the way around and your business suffers because busy bodies then put malice where it shouldn't be.”
“Oh man, you're good.” he smiled.
“Yeah, but I do it for a reason. Fuck the one's who think you didn't love her and gain the support of the ones which knew.”
He nodded and I said, “Mitch, it's killing me to tell you this, but that's what we know so far.
I do need to take time later today and we have to go out to the office and contact your attorney and hers and find every stock, bond, cd, and account that could possibly be.
Now, here's where the hard part comes because I've got to tell you the truth.”
“She could have had another will and it could have given the other man what was her's in the marriage. You might find you're in business with the other man.”
“Oh man, that can't be legal, can it?”
“I can say she might have tried it, and I can say she might have not gotten that far. But, I do know she had that life insurance policy and I don't rightly know.
Now, I'm going to say this and you need to listen and not hear what I'm saying. Ok?”
He nodded and I turned to Joan and said, “Joan, this goes for you too.”
She said, “This has to be serious.”
“Well, you know the man I'm about to bring up and Mitch might, or might not, but I'm going to tell you what I know and then we'll have everything out there. Ok?”
Mitch said, “Ok” and his head lowered again.
Joan put her hand upon mine which was on Mitch's knee and said, “Ok”
“You might be familiar with our Coroner. Well, he's a friend of mine and he's doing me some favors. If he likes you, he'll do things for you and if he doesn't, you're not going to get a thing from him. But, I'm in good standing and Joan, he's a member of your fan club...as am I.”
She smiled and said, “Ben's a nice guy.”
“Yeah, and here's what he's doing behind the scenes.
I called him and had him on speaker phone in the truck with Ty present and we discussed this whole mess. He's contacting every department in the state which handles death certificates and he's putting a freeze upon any being given out in this situation.
He's given legal advice and he knows there's a sub-clause in the state's capital crimes law under capital murder whichsays if someone who is profiting from someone's death because they're not a rightful heir, they're in violation of that law. It doesn't matter if it's person, or corporation.
But Joan, you've got to know that's why you go in and sue to be made a lien holder on a person's estate. You know if you're not there, and if you make any claims to the estate, you could be found guilty of that law.
Now, he doesn't know the law and he's not a lien holder on anything you had or she had up until her passing. So, for him to stake claim as heir, he has to make himself known and stake his claim at the reading of the Will.
When that time comes, if he's not there, his attempting to claim any moneys is going to put him in violation of the law and he'll be arrested by the Coroner.”
Mitch asked, “Is that legal?”
“It's rare, but in our state, the Coroner is an elected official with powers as much as the Sheriff. It's a formality they work hand in hand, but when a private investigation gets made by him on the Sheriff's department, it's binding.
However, if he makes an investigation on his own, the findings are as powerful as the Sheriff and his arrests are prosecuted thusly.”
Joan smiled and said, “I didn't know that!”
“Yeah, he's the check in the balance scales of the system. He's paid very little money, but he's the one man in the county who could go and arrest the Sheriff.”
Mitch looked up and said, “So this man is going to investigate?”
“Well, do you want blunt terms or polite with what he said.”
Joan smiled and said, “Do be polite because I know Ben. He'd tell you to go fuck yourself and say exactly that.”
“Yup, you know him!”
She chuckled and said, “Yeah, and he was ushered out of the emergency room one night when he pronounced someone dead and the doctor dared to question him. That doctor got talked to in terms that I really found amusing.”
“Yeah, Ben doesn't cut it when he gets going, but what he said in polite terms is he's not going to question anything in regards to Wendy's death and wants her buried as soon as we can discretely. He said after that, he's going against the other man and not holding any punches when he's doing his job.
He's going to tell the man to dare take money and be arrested and prosecuted and if the guy's stupid enough to do it, he'll follow through.
He does want to speak with everyone, but Mitch, I'll tell you now he's standing by his results listed on that death certificate and finds any insinuation anything other is putting his credibility in question.
He didn't say it in as polite terms, but he's pulling cannons out of his arsenal to go hunting for a “waskelly wittle wabbit.”
Joan smiled and Mitch looked at me still with fear in his eyes. I know the topic of an investigation was fearful to him and I wanted him to know the focus.
“Mitch, he's going after the other guy and he's aiming at the hole. When that guy pokes his head out, I think old Mary Lou down there at the paper will be found as accessory. So, just know his questions of you are to get the other guy.”
Mitch breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Ok, tell him if he needs my help, I'll speak with him but I'd rather the boys not be asked anything intrusive about their mother.”
“I'll tell him and lay that as groundwork. He's not going to do anything until after the funeral for just cause he doesn't want anything to point at Wendy and get an exhumation. If it's done before, it could be embarrassing to her.”
Joan looked at us and said, “Why'd it be embarrassing?”
Mitch looked frightened and I said, “Joan, you know as well as I do, we're planning on having a funeral.
Right after the funeral, we're going to cremate her. For an autopsy, you know it takes time and for a complete lab and toxicology, you know it takes time.
The investigation could run on and on and on and it'd be Summer time before we'd have a funeral. That's ridiculous, so he wants the family to have their time and give focus where it needs to be.”
She nodded and said, “I understand, It could get messy like that and for the family, it's an ordeal.”
“Yeah because for all those months, suspicions lay with the wagging tongues and not in clearing the uninjured parties. That's what I told the man down the hill and he knows you guys will sue the shit out of his company if anything other than what we've discussed happens.”
“What do you mean?”
“The boys get their checks cut and the guy gets a polite letter to go fuck himself and face their legal department.”
“Oh!” Mitch smiled.
“Yeah, the man was pretty interested in how I know all the ins and outs of the laws, but he now knows I'm just a mortician who's interested in getting repeat business from the family and that's all he needs to know.”
Joan smiled, “You had to be talking like a used car salesman.”
“Well, if you want to know how thin of ice I was on, you'd be amazed because I was doing an Olympic performance and hearing the crackle behind me as I skated onward.”
Mitch laughed and said, “I imagine, but I'm sure the guy believed every word you said.”
“Let's say if he was a fish, he'd be a trophy on my wall.”
Mitch laughed and said, “Do you fish?”
“No, it's been years. The most I caught was a bluegill.”
“Well, we'll have to go. With that winch on the back of your truck, we'll be able to haul the ones I've had to let go.”
He laughed and Joan rolled her eyes. She said, “Guys, we've got to go.”
We got up and left the den. When we exited, Gregg and Heather were there and Gregg looked scared
Both he and Ty went to hug Mitch and Mitch said, “Guys, I knew. I wasn't going to say anything because I had plans on divorcing her when Ty got through with college.
She beat me and started her new life. The problem is, she did it without getting divorced. I'm not holding it against her, but I'll hold it against the guy.”
Gregg said, “Dad, he's fired and I'll do it personally.”
“Not yet Gregg”
Gregg looked at me and I said, “We've got a few more surprises for him and we need to keep him on the payroll so he receives what he's got coming.
While we're at it, you guys really need to have an auditing firm come in and do an inventory to tell you what isn't there. I know the guy has a kegmeister at his residence.”
Mitch nodded and said, “Well, she let them have what they wanted to keep them happy, but all that stuff has to be returned.”
“Mitch, the problem is I think no one bothered to check anything out and no one knows who has what.”
“Oh, well, we need to get an audit to see what we need to write off, but Gregg, we've got to change that policy.”
Gregg nodded and said, “Dad, I think if someone takes something home from now on, nothing's to be lent out again until they bring what they've got back.
You and I are different as well as these guys, but employees aren't going to be furnishing their personal bars at home on our dimes.”
I nodded and said, “Guys, let's go. We can still make it, but Mitch, I need you in front as we've got phone calls to make. Ty, I'll need you in the rear up behind me so we can make phone calls.”
Mark said, “How about if I drive and everyone makes phone calls? Then, my leading lady can sit next to me.”
Joan smiled and said, “Mark, I've got a few phone calls to make myself, but I'll sit next to you.”
He smiled and said, “Well, it sounds like the phone company should be happy with us!”
We all went out and I was surprised to see the limo parked outside. Ty smiled and said, “I told Gregg and Heather to bring it.”
“No problem, it's nice it's here. Good looking out. I'm glad I hired you.”
He looked at me and smiled, “Hey, what's my salary?”
“Oh a kiss here and a kiss there and oh man, I forgot a kiss here....”
Joan smiled, “Guys, get in the car.”
We got in the car and I said, “Man, I've never ridden back here. This is nice!”
“You've never ridden back here?”
“No, always been the driver.”
“Well, you own it, you should've gotten a ride.”
“Well, I'm glad I am now, I've got business to do. Ty, I need the red book for the florist.”
We made phone calls and about halfway through the florist call, I got beeped Ben was trying to call me. I told Ty, make me call Ben as soon as I'm off this call. He's trying to call now.”
Joan handed me her phone and I dialed him. He said, “You're calling on Joan's phone?”
I'm talking with the florist on mine”
“Oh, tell her hi.”
“He says hello Joan”
“Tell him I've got a steak dinner for him and his wife.”
“Tell her I know how tough the bull is she tries to sell me.”
I laughed and said, “Joan, he says that bull is too tough”
She laughed and said, “Tell him I mean it this time!”
“Tell her I said, Promises promises.”
“Promises Promises Joan”
She laughed and I said, “hold up a minute Ben. Yeah, it's to be a pink rose funeral and all the flowers tinted in pink which aren't roses otherwise. Yup usual arrangement and I want a brilliant spray for the casket and two sconce sprays in the same pink roses. I want every arrangement you can get to have pink roses. This one's special and I need it..... No, none other. If you can't do it, I'll find someone which can.
Yes, I understand there's tons of arrangements ordered already, but you can make them how the family will remember it. I want that place exploding with pink roses. Oh....I had no idea. Oh.....do you rent stands? I had no idea there were that many. I'm sorry....”
Tears flooded my eyes and Joan reached for me. I paused and said, “I understand. I'll have someone there this afternoon to start taking flowers. My God, I had no idea there'd be so many. Yeah, I understand almost every bar and restaurant. It's just overwhelming.
Well, get me what pink roses you can, but tint everything pink. Great. I'll make exception this time. This is way beyond what I expected. Yeah, you have a good day.”
I got off the phone and said, “Guys, we need someone at the funeral home to take in floral arrangements. They've got orders for five hundred and sixty so far and the phone's ringing non-stop.”
I think the news shocked everyone Ty and Gregg immediately had tears in their eyes and Mitch looked staggered.
“Man, that's going to be overwhelming, isn't it!”
“Yeah, I only have one hundred and fifty stands. I've got to call every rental company and get their stands. While we're in Quincy, I'll have to have them deliver the stands. Ty, get on the phone and call several places to get pink satin material.”
tell them we'll need like two thousand yards.”
He looked at me and said, “Man!”
“Well, each stand that isn't made for a funeral will be made for either a wedding or a prom and I need them to match. If they're six feet tall, that's six up and six down. So five hundred of them will be two thousand yards.”
Joan said, “Ty, order four hundred yards and tell them if they can't get it, we'll need white satin or burgundy.”
I looked at her and said, “Joan, what are we going to do?”
She smiled and said, “I'll have that place looking nice. It's going to look like it exploded with everything. What we'll do is have flowers on stands and then some on the floor. So people don't have to bend over to see who sent them, we'll pin the card to the satin. Tell the florist we'll need five arrangements in purple hollyhocks and we'll need eight in red in burgundy. We'll go up the steps with them and we'll have those I just mentioned in the women's and men's restrooms.”
She smiled and said, “This one here, hon, is going to put you on the map. When they see how you've went all out on it, they'll think you've got an army working for you!”
“I'll have to have for this one.”
“Let me call the family and we'll get people down there.”
“Man, this is bigger than I thought.”
“Yeah, but hon, you're swimming!” Ty said smiling
“Yeah, but that just dunked me.”
“Yeah, oh sorry Ben. Yeah, I just found out how big this funeral is going to be. No, I'm not a dumb ass, I just have been treating it with the usual....I know she's a huge person in the community....yeah, well the reason I was calling is the insurance man and I talked. Which one? You mean there's more than one? Yeah, well, Life and Casualty was the guy I spoke with. Yeah, I'll tell them to contact Prudential and Aaflac. I really didn't know. Well, who knew because we sure didn't. Yeah, and there's another account? Where? Ok, I'll call them. Well, thanks and I want you to know how much we're appreciating everything Yeah, and Ben, when your office has a cow chip throwing contest from the bull I send you, I don't want no guff.”
I laughed real long and he said, “You send me a fucking cow and I'll send you Cora White in a g-string and told you will go straight for her!”
“Oooh, no, please anything but that!”
“Then, you send me a steak dinner and leave livestock out of my morgue! I'll appreciate it more than you not having Cora there.”
“Ok Ben, thanks and I'll see you later.”
We rang off and Ty said, “The Quincy rental store has one hundred and thirty. They can get them to us in two hours.”
“Tell them, we'll have someone there and they'll need to unload them and we'll need to rent them until Thursday.”
“They say they only rent for a day, two days, and for a week.”
“Tell them a week.”
“Ok, they'll have them there. They're twenty dollars each.”
He looked at me and said, “This is cutting into the pennies, isn't it?”
“Yeah, but we've got to do it hon.”
He smiled and Joan said, “What did Ben say?”
“He said if I put livestock in his morgue he's sending me Cora White in a g-string and telling her I'll go straight for her.”
The whole car erupted in laughter and Ty said, “I've got to meet this woman.”
Joan said, “No you don't. And, don't ever give that woman your phone number. She'll call you day and night and three and four times a day. Believe me, I know!”
“Yeah, she called me for something once and I told her to call me to see I got it took care of. Since then, she's taken it that each and every time she comes into the hospital, she has to give me a progress report on everyone who works there.”
“Man, I could see her doing that.”
“Yeah, she needs a hobby, but I'm not it.”
“No, that'd be stalking. She's got that hobby.”
“Yeah, but, what's the next call hon?”
“You need to call Prudential and Aaflac as there are policies with them and there's another account in Quincy Bank which has her name on it.”
Mitch looked at me and I shrugged. “Wasn't told anything more than that Mitch. What I know is they requested death certificates.”
“Can we stop by there this afternoon?”
“Sure, right up the street is the bank, so you can go there and I'll speak with the bakery.”
“Ok, I'll take Mark with me.”
“Ok, if you need me, I'll have a certified death certificate, but they won't get it until I'm assured it's not going for anything other than you or the boys. Man, she believed in life insurance!”
“Yeah, and you can rest assured wherever she had it on her, it was on the boys and on either me or him. That's the way she was. It wasn't a single policy ever for her.”
“Ok, we'll we're now finding more and when we're looking, those companies are going to be hitting their computer systems and we'll have all sorts of things cropping up.”
Mitch looked doubtful and I said, “Mitch, let's concentrate on the suits first and then, I'll go with you and you'll have Mark and I and the boys to stand with you. We might look like a whole clan going in, but we'll leave the shotguns out in the limo.”
Heather laughed and I said, “Biff, Bub, and Bridget have to stay in the car.”
Gregg laughed and said, “I'll mind Bub, you two have to mind the others. Bridgett's a little bitch.”
Heather said, “I'll have you know she's my little angel!”
“And, Biff's a sweetheart. Bub's the asshole”
The others looked at us and Heather said, “Guys, don't mind us. They're our imaginary kids.”
Joan smiled and said, “Oh ok. I was worried.”
Heather explained the situation while Ty and I contacted more people on the phone.
When we reached Quincy, we went to the Tux shop and Frederique' met us. He was very warm and inviting and was most gracious in discovering he had multiple suits and didn't find any offense in knowing we were nearly half an hour late.
He helped me as the others browsed and I showed him the material I needed for the suits. He quietly stated, “This material is what I wanted for you the last time”
I nodded and said, “Well, you were right. The gray I picked is good for daylight hours and out in public, but it's not stated elegance for viewings and never for a funeral.”
He nodded and asked, “Which satin?”
“Burgundy, But I want a whole line of suits with the dark gray smoke too.”
He raised his eyebrows and said, “Business been good?”
“It's been wonderful, and we're adding additional space into the funeral home.”
“That is the old limo, is it not?”
“Yes, we're going to use it for Ty's funerals and mine will be the newer limo. We've added another pallbearer limo and Ty's got an Escalade ordered.”
I told Ty, “Remind me to call the Escalade people.”
“I thought we were getting the one in St. Louis.”
“We will, but I think we need to get it too. Who knows, we might need it.”
He looked at me and smirked. Then said, “Ok, we'll drive matching ones and it will be the spare. While you're at it, are you getting a spare pallbearer limo and another limo?”
“Do you think we'll need it?”
“It'd be a nice touch to have them matching and then have the spare. You never know when we'll need them.”
“Ok, I'd not said that earlier, but after that phone call with the florist, I'm wondering if we don't need to have extra limos on hand for the funeral.”
He paused and said, “Hold on a second, someone needs to call the brewery and let them know. They'll want dignitaries on hand for the visitation and funeral.”
“Oh, I hadn't thought of that!”
“Me neither, go tell your dad and we'll call information to get the number.”
Frederique looked at me and said, “This here is your love?”
“Yes, he's got my heart.”
“He's sweet. He's polite and he's been very attentive in wanting to know everything you've been getting.”
“He wants to match everything I've gotten.”
“No, primarily, we need the Gray suits today and then I want he, his brother, their dad, and myself to all have matching suits.”
“They all getting into the funeral business with you?”
“No, but as a family, we'll have many functions which we'll be required to attend.”
Frederique' smiled and said, “You've done well.”
“I've done well, but I'm in love. Otherwise, I'd not be involved.”
He nodded and said, “Your usual measurements?”
“Yes, narrow lapels and no cuffs.”
He nodded, “You're going to have to introduce us properly sometime.”
“I know, but we're rushed today. Their mom and Mitch's wife passed away and we've got a visitation tomorrow evening. We're going to need a rush on these and if it can't be done, then please know I'll understand.”
He smiled and said, “You don't know how I do things! Most of the suits are already made and all I have to do is take in seams to your measurements. These sizes aren't unusual, so I could have them done in about three hours.”
“Oh man, you're too good. I really appreciate it.”
He smiled and said, “Yours is quite handsome. His brother is nice, but yours is yours because his eye tell me there's none other than you in the room.”
“The other one, I'd like to tell you she's his only, but I think he's hot for anything which moves. He thrust into my hand when I was measuring him.”
“Well, we're watching him. I'll have a talk with him later about his actions.”
“No, it was nice, but he needs to know I will not tolerate that in front of anyone else.”
“I'm sorry and apologize on his behalf.”
“Ok, let me get to measuring the father, his suit is going to be wonderful for him as I've got just what he needs. Also, he needs that pair of shoes over there which lift him.”
He pointed and I went over to look at them. I said, “Mitch, come over and check out these shoes. He thinks you need them.”
“Ok, he's measuring me now.”
Ty came over and said, “I think Frederique felt me up. It was discrete, but I think the guy wanted to see what I had.”
“Well, you acted appropriately, but your brother thrust his into his hand.”
Ty looked at me and said, “Really!”
“Yeah and Frederique' was amused but not with all the people in the room.”
“Well, Gregg needs to watch that.”
“We're going to have a talk later.”
Gregg came over and said, “I'm ordering suits from this guy in a lot of colors.”
“Gregg, tell him what colors you'll need and he'll make them from your measurements. When you come back to try them on, bring Heather. He told me what you did.”
Gregg smiled and said, “Well, I felt him caress me and I just thrust forward.”
“He's discrete Gregg, but he doesn't appreciate it in a room full of people.”
Gregg nodded and said, “Well, that was dumb of me. I understand.”
“Gregg, we all like to be appreciated for our bodies, but what would you do if Heather was being sized by a seamstress and he felt her up?”
“It'd piss me off.”
“Then expect to be treated equally and do what you think she'd want if you can't control yourself.”
“Ok, I never thought about that.”
“Well, it takes time, but don't let being inconsiderate of Heather's feelings ruin it for you.”
“I need to apologize to him.”
“Yeah, but what matters is you're now thinking for two.”
“Yeah, and it means a lot to me she's even putting up with me.”
“It's an adjustment for her too. But in a different way. She's used to running to me and now, she needs to be running to you.”
“Yeah, but that's fair. I even run to you.”
“I understand and I'll run to you guys too.”
Ty came back over and said, “I'm ordering a match of every suit you get.”
“Ok, I ordered suits in both the gray and the burgundy satin lining. I think there will be times we'll need both.”
“How much is he charging us?”
“For all of them or each suit?”
“For all of them, it's less than a suit will cost in a major city.”
“Yeah, ask your Uncle Mark, he's over there taking looks at suits and he and your Aunt are picking a lot of them. They know how much suits cost and they're acting like it's a fire sale.”
“How's he sell them so cheap?”
“I don't know, but I'll tell you they're selling that expensive in the city because they can. What's ironic is we'll be dressed like those people down there and they'll think we're really made of money.”
“Well, we are, but who knew!”
He went over to Mark and Joan and Heather came over to me. “I don't know what you said to Gregg, but he's over there apologizing his ass off to me.”
“Hon, He's adjusting to being a couple and forgot. I pointed it out to him and noted he might think of how he'd feel if you acted like he did.”
“Oh, well, there's times I forget too.”
“Yeah, and I noted that. He said it's fair of you but not of him.”
“Well, I've got to stop that, but it's hard hon.”
“Yeah, it is. We'll learn and when we do, it will be like we're a huge family.”
She smiled and said, “Aunt Mary sure missed a fun filled day.”
“Well it's understandable. She had a doctor's appointment. I think once they get their schedules aligned, it's going to be sweet.”
“Mom said she went on and on about Mitch.”
“Yeah, Mom said, Mary never uses the marriage word for herself and used it twice.”
“Wow. I think Mitch felt something with her too.”
“Good. It'd be nice for them to actually find someone that would return what they'd give.”
“Yeah, and it's going to be real nice when the grand babies come along for real.”
“Oh yeah, they won't know a thing about how bad things were and will be raised with grandparents who love each other.”
“I think when Gregg and I get married, we're going to go to France on our honeymoon.”
“Yeah, he says he wants to see a lot of the country and I find it intriguing.”
“Good. At least you'll have that in common. How long do you plan?”
“If we get married early in the Summer, we can spend a month or so over there. Then, I can come back and go to school.”
“Good. I'm really happy for you hon.”
“Me too. It's strange isn't it.”
“No, it's like we've had buckets of blessings poured over us.”
“Wow, that's beautiful. It makes me think of a theme for our wedding. Lord knows it's going to have to be themed pink because of all the extra material you have around.”
I laughed, and said, “Hon, you only die once and I want her to go out in style. A part of me really doesn't care for her, and another part makes me think of the fairy tale of living happily ever after and realizing sometimes it's not happily.”
“Well, we've got that.”
“Yeah, and it's going to take work to keep it. I find myself wanting to baby him and at the same time act like I'm Gregg's big brother.”
“He likes it. He told me last night when we were laying in each other's arms how much he feels comforted by you being there.”
“Good, It's nice too for me.”
She smiled and said, “When Lonny and Lennie get home, you'll be complete.”
“Yeah, but they're going to hate me.”
“No, I think they'll realize it was rough on you too. You know they always trusted what I had to say, so I'll have to sit down with them and see what I can tell them. Do you know where they are?”
“Joan told me last night they're up in La Grange”
“Yeah, it's a small town, so at least they're not halfway across the state.”
“Well, maybe I'll drive up there and see if they are around town. If there's a ball diamond there, I'll find them.”
“Hon, I don't know if they'll allow it.”
“Hon, I rightly don't care what's allowed and what isn't. The state sure didn't think of you and get them back to you as soon as they should've.”
“Yeah, but I'm worried what the state will say.”
“You've got a good home, and you've got an excellent income. You can afford to raise them and you're in love. If the state finds fault in that, maybe we need to take it public and show them as home wreckers.”
“Listen. Please don't. They're trying to do what they can, and I've been told it will be soon.”
She looked at me and said, “I know. I'm just excited for you and want you happy sooner than not.”
“I'm happy hon. Right now, I'm building things with Ty and I don't know how he's going to handle being a parent to two boys too.”
“Oh, you think he'll be ok, won't you?”
“Yeah, but they're not much younger than he and that's got to feel overwhelming.”
“I never thought of that. Why is it we always think we were so mature?”
“I don't know, but you and I were a team. That made us more mature. If Gregg and Ty had been brought up like that, they'd be more together.”
“Well, they're pulling it together now, so that's what matters.”
Frederique clapped his hands and said, “Ok everyone! I have measurements, come back in three hours and I'll have the first suits prepared.”
Everyone was surprised and Frederique beamed with the compliments. As we left, I went over to Frederique and said, “Did you get your apology?”
He nodded and said, “You have a way with him. If she didn't have him, you'd have two!”
“No, she's got him. He needs to realize it.”
He nodded and said, “He loves you too.”
“I know, but my heart is with one.”
He winked and I said, “Here's our card, how much was it?”
“No, add on another five hundred for the tips and give them what they want on our bill.”
He looked at me and I said, “Hon, Ty and I need to do something to tell them we love them, and what better way can we do it than tell them every day with the clothes they wear.”
He nodded and said, “I'll have the others all ready by a week.”
“Take time for you and I'll have them up here then. We'll be back.”
He nodded and came around the counter and gave me a hug. You are so nice. You've came up here when many others have not.”
“I know, it's hard getting a new clientèle started, but I'll tell everyone where I got mine and I believe Mark is a fan now.”
He smiled and said, “I can't believe how much he paid for one suit!”
“Yes, and that's how much they charge.”
“Well, I'll not raise my price.”
Mark came over and said, “On Friday, I'd like to bring my boys up and have them measured. There'll be a third with them who is my oldest son's lover. He'll need fitted too. Give them what I've ordered.”
Frederique looked at me and I nodded. He smiled and said, “I'll be here and if I'm not answering the door, please ring the bell, I'll be on my sewing machine!”
Mark and I chuckled and I said, “Frederique thank you, we'll be back.”
We left and went to the bank. When we walked in, I went to the head teller and said, “We need to speak with your accounts person.”
She looked at me and said, “You're at the wrong branch hon. Their branch is uptown, here's the address.”
“Would you call the person and tell them Mitch Truman will be there to speak with them in regards to the estate of his wife Wendy. They've been attempting to get a death certificate for her and I'm the funeral director for that service.”
She nodded and said, “One moment, I'll have her on the line.”
She rang and spoke briefly. She nodded and said, “Sir, she'd like to speak with you.”
I got on the phone and said, “Hello, this is Lance Green, how may I help you?”
“First of all, the death certificate for Wendy Green would be nice, but I can't help you as the beneficiary is for a Randall Brookside.”
“Well, Randall Brookside won't get the account. If he accepts one penny for that account, he'll be in violation of the law.”
“His names listed on the account as her husband.”
“Well, that's in violation of the law. I'm sure Mr Truman's attorney will be in contact about the account. Who should I say your name is so that person may contact you?”
“You would need to contact our legal department.”
“Well, I'll contact his attorney and let them haggle it out. In the mean time, be advised Mr Brookside is under investigation under the capital crimes law in our state.”
“Oh man, I'm glad you told me. He's sitting here!”
“Well, you tell him a message from me and you tell him we're in contact with Prudential and Aaflac and both are frozen. Tell him Life and Casualty just contacted the State's Secretary of State to see if he's recorded as a member of their corporation and fraud charges are going to fall on that.”
“Yes ma'am, what you're sitting across from is a big time crook. My advice is to quietly call the police and report him so you can get charges too. If they have any questions, tell them to contact the Coroner. Here's his number.”
“And he's being investigated for....."
"Hold on, he just got up and is leaving!...Oh dear, he ran out the door!”
“Well, I'd go ahead and press charges. What he just did was conspiracy to commit fraud.”
“Thank you, I'm sorry I couldn't help more!”
“No dear, I'm glad I called when I did. Freeze that account as the real heirs of the woman will be contacting you through the attorneys.”
“Ok, I've gotten it frozen. We'll keep it that way until legal tells me otherwise. I'll call the police and make them away of it as well as our branch offices. Could you please hand me back to the head teller there and I'll get her made aware?”
I handed the phone off to the head teller and she smiled. Mitch looked at me and I said, “We'll have to call the attorney and have him call their legal department. Randall Brookside was who the account money was to go to.”
“Can he have it?”
“If he files his right to be a rightful heir. If not, he doesn't get a dime.”
Mitch smiled and said, “And I'm sure you're going to have Ben there to arrest him when he steps up.”
“You know the game. So, let's make the rules.”
Mitch smiled and said, “Well, I feel sort of sorry for the guy. He had to loved her too.”
“Mitch, your heart's in the right place, but the timing was wrong. If Ty wants to be with someone else, he's welcome to that person as long as he tells me first.
If he doesn't, then you can best be assured, I'm going to fight to keep what's mine. If after the breakup, there's anything left, Ty can have what's his and I'll take what's mine. But, it will be in the contract Ty goes down the road and the funeral home is mine and not to be shared.”
Mitch nodded and said, “You don't think she did anything with the business, do you?”
“I don't think she could. But, I'm not a lawyer. Rightfully, in a irrevocable trust, she can't touch it. But, if it was a revocable, she can do what she wanted.”
“I'm not sure, I'll have to call my lawyer.”
“Well, you can do it in the limo and I'll speak to the bakery people.”
“No, I need to do that too.”
“Well, contact the attorney's office and get a call back. That way you're in line for that.”
We went to the bakery and they were breaking for lunch. Me, being in a suit accompanied with other people in suits had the guys all wondering if they were getting their pink slips. The foreman came over and said, “Hi, how can we help you?”
“Hi, my name is Lance Green, He's Mitch Truman and Mark Jacobs. These guys here are Gregg and Ty Truman.
Mitch here has the Meister Stein distributorship and he's going to be needing drivers. We hear you guys are going to be out of work soon and we'd like to see who wants a job and who wants to drive a beer truck.”
The guy looked at us and his eyes got big. “How much you paying?”
Mitch spoke up and said, “Well, how much are you making now?”
“Me, or my drivers?”
“You, your drivers, your dispatcher, your maintenance people and whoever else is on your crew.”
“Well, it varies according to seniority, but if you start the drivers out for sixteen and me out for eighteen, we'll talk.”
Mitch nodded and said, “Well, we pay more than that, but let's sit down.”
The guys gathered around and Mitch said, “Legally, I can't offer you jobs. You know that and I know that.
What I can say is hypothetically, if you put in applications, I'd put you on routes and the way we work is probably similar to what you've got here. If you build it up and it splits off, you get a percentage of that route all the way up until you retire.
Based upon that paycheck, you get a retirement that's fifty one percent of that paycheck for your retirement. That's what I offer and it's full benefits.
If you want, I can leave applications on the front seat of someone's vehicle and you can pick them up. I can not, nor will I hand them to you directly. You know the law and I do too. If you want, we'll be talking on Saturday at the office and I can give you tours.”
The guy looked at us and said, “After two pm, my guys are all off. Most will be off for the day and none I can think have found jobs which are worth what you're offering. I'll spread the word. I'll need thirty nine applications.”
Mitch nodded and said, “Guys, what we're doing here is we've got a whole mess of employee theft going on down there.
Rather than guess who, we're firing the whole bunch from the front office to the dock man You know that's a full sweep as do I. We're shut down for a death in the family now, but I'm the new man in charge. I want a crew who will work and a crew which will take me seriously None of them down there do either. So, I'll see you then.”
The foreman followed us out and said, “You drive around in a limo?”
Mitch smiled and said, “No, this here is my best friend. It's his limo. My truck is a plumber's van which is so beat up I didn't know if the fenders would fall off to make it up here.
We had some business at the bank, so he offered me a ride and the banker refused to see me. Well, an attorney will handle that, but I'm a hard working guy like you guys.”
The guy nodded and said, “You had me wondering. I saw a limo and wondered if we were going to be working for someone who would sell us out like we got shafted here.”
“No, I'm aware of your situation. That's why I decided to see if I could make some changes since we're shut down. I want the changes made so when we reopen, we'll have a new start.”
The foreman came over to Mitch and said, “So, what are the perks of the job.”
Mitch looked at him and me and said, “Well, here's what I'm offering.
On Friday night, I'm telling each man to pick up a case of their choice. If they DON'T drink, I'll hand them a fifty dollar bill. There's to be absolutely no drinking on the job and I'll enforce that. Your friends and family have perks and they're first hired if an opening comes. Hopefully, we'll have openings, but I don't want to fire anyone. However, I will.
You'll see me in a suit and that's because I've been told that's what is expected of me, but you'll all have suits and uniforms too. The suits will be provided and the uniforms come with the job.”
The guy nodded and said, “Company vehicle?”
“Each guy drives a company vehicle. They're leased, but none will be older than three years. I want a new unit so maintenance is down and productivity is up. I'll pay that expense to see everyone has a sure way to work. That's a part of my package.”
The guy smiled and said, “I'll be glad to tell the guys, don't say anything more. I think you're legit.”
Mitch smiled and said, “I'm sorry it didn't work out for you guys here, but I'll be happy if you come to work for me.”
The guy looked at Mitch and said, “You could be getting a bad bunch of guys, but you're not. I don't allow it and if someone wants to jack me on company time, I'll see him to the door and tell him to jack me on unemployment. He'll do that, but he won't have the job like he had here. He knows it and I know it. Unfortunately, the crew which bought us out doesn't know it. I'll bring the experience and you can rest assured, we'll see eye to eye.”
Mitch smiled and said, “One thing I forgot. We're a tolerant work group. Absolutely, none of the guys will sexually harass another employee for anything. My own son is gay and if there's any jokes and they come to me, I'll take it as a full affront towards him.”
The guy smiled and said, “Good. I've got three guys who are gay and we've had a zero tolerance. You offering the benefits to the gays the same as everyone else?”
Mitch nodded his head and said, “They sign a paper which states the person is their significant other and they go on the benefit plan just like anyone else. It's handled discretely and it's handled with respect.”
The guy held out his hand and said, “Sir, you've got the guys, I'll see they're there if I have to drive them myself. You might want to have that fleet of vehicles because you'll have them hired and working by next Monday.”
Mitch smiled and said, “Do you need to give notice?”
The guy looked over his shoulder and said, “They gave us notice and haven't cut any checks for severance at all. Seniority and years didn't mean a thing.
Guys here have worked for twenty or thirty years don't matter to them. They're out the door without a penny. I think if they see the life raft you've thrown, they'll climb aboard and not look back.”
Mitch nodded and said, “Lance, get me that company so I can get that fleet of trucks ordered. If we don't get these guys trucks by Saturday, I'm going to feel bad.”
“Let's go out to Ford now and get them to get the trucks up here.”
The guy bristled and said, “Do you mind if I make a suggestion?”
“You'll be happier with Dodge. Dodge makes a diesel motor which lasts. Their transmissions last and their lease maintenance plans are tops.”
“Ok, well we'll see what we can get you. The trucks will be white and the paint might be fresh on the doors, but we're working on things.”
The guy smiled and said, “I'll have the guys paint them myself if you can come through.”
Mitch nodded and said, “I'll have your trucks if I have to buy them myself instead of leasing. We might have to hit every car lot around, but when I promise it, you'll have it.”
The guy patted Mitch on the shoulder and said, “It's going to be refreshing to have that.
You don't know how we've had it. We've been running junk and they've been scuttling everything just to keep tires on the trucks. You get the boys something they're proud of, and I'll get you a crew that's damned thankful to have a job.”
Mitch smiled and I went up to the guy and said, “Thanks, you really made his day. He was really afraid he'd be stuck with a bunch of no counts.”
The guys smiled and said, “We're counting on you. If that other crew got to where they were at, then someone wasn't doing their job.”
I winked and said, “From the front office back they were too busy seeing who could fuck the boss the hardest. Now, they'll see how hard the concrete is out front. Trust that.”
We got in the limo and Mitch let out a “Yahoo!” loud enough to be heard three blocks down the street. He said, “Boys, that's how it should be and that's how it's done. We're in business now and them sons a bitches need to see the light on the truck to know they're getting mowed down.”
He turned to me and said, “Lance bud, you gotta get them guys their trucks.”
I was already dialing the phone and calling the Dodge dealer. As soon as I got through, I said, “I need the number of your main leasing department at your corporate headquarters.”
The guy on the line said, “I can probably help you sir, what are you interested in?”
“Well, we need forty diesel pickups with extended cabs and utility beds.”
“Hold on a second sir, I'll patch you through to headquarters right now, that's off the charts for what I can do.”
Mitch said, “He ran out of gas on the starting line!” and gave a knee slap.
I'd not seen Mitch so happy and the pride in the raise of his shoulders was evident.
The boys were looking at their dad and knew he was changing in front of their eyes. Joan was smiling quietly and I knew she was seeing the Mitch of old coming back.
Mitch's cell phone rang and he answered it. His face beamed and I turned to Ty and said, “Three guesses who it is and the first two don't count. Look at his face.”
Ty smiled and said, “I hope her doctor's appointment went good.”
“You win the prize.”
“Can I open it tonight?”
I winked and started to reply when a voice came on the line
“Hello, yeah, I need to lease forty trucks by Saturday. Yeah, diesel, fully loaded and utility beds with tommy lifts.”
“Ok sir, that's a tight request.”
“Well, the guy wants Dodges,. So we promised them.”
“Who might this be for?”
“It's for Falcon MS Distributorship.”
“Ok, what do you want as for the color?”
“White with red interior but the interior doesn't have to be red.”
“No, that's fine. We understand that's the company's colors.”
“Yes sir, and Utility beds?”
“Yes, with Tommy lifts and headache racks if you got them. If not, that's fine too.”
“We'll see sir, we've done beer distributorships before. Do you want radios?”
“Yeah, but cd and tapes aren't really a requirement.”
“No, 2 way radios.”
“Oh, I guess, I've never ordered these things before.”
“Is there someone who would know better?”
“Yeah, but he's on the phone with his lawyer, let me give you to the company President.”
I handed the phone to Gregg and he got a business tone to him that shocked even me.”
“Hello! Yeah, Gregg Truman here. Ummm, yes, he's legit. Yeah, we're going with leased due to maintenance and management preference. Yes, you've got that right, everything as he said. Yeah, you're doing good. Tires, well, they'll ride rough but we want 8-ply on the front and ten on the back Yeah, rough ride, but they'll wear forever. Quad cab, let's see, what the price difference per month? Ok, well, if you've got that many and can get them there by Saturday, we'll order them, but we're hiring a complete new crew on Saturday and the promise is they'll get a truck to go with the job. Yeah, that's a requirement. If you can't get them, then we need to talk to Ford. Yeah, I understand it's a tough order, but we're talking about a lifetime of satisfaction from the first order. The others won't be like this. Ok, load them up for the guys and make them proud they came to work for us. All I want is automatic transmissions and everything else that can be had. One second, let me see. Ty, do you think the guys would like sun rooves?”
“How much do they add to the cost per month?”
“Well, it comes with a leather package and the cost is a hundred bucks a month for the truck and the fleet is going to be like one hundred and seventy grand for a year.”
Ty looked at me shocked and said, “Well, that's not bad considering it's about the cost of four or five trucks purchased outright, so tell them to do it and if they can't then we'll do without it.”
“This guy says they can get them, but they'll be pressed to deliver them and since it's February, if we run into bad weather, they'll not get there.”
“Oh, yeah, well tell them we'll understand if there's bad weather, but if there is, we'll put them up once they get here.”
“The guy now wants to know if we want four wheel drive.”
“Tell them......Ty looked at me and I shrugged.”
Mitch nodded his head and Gregg said, “Yeah, The owner says yeah.”
“Ok, so you want an lease agreement signed?”
I nodded and said, “Tell them to fax it to my office and we'll have it returned to them this afternoon.”
Mitch said, “No, here's the fax number for the office, we'll have to give them the corporate account number and the tax number and that stuff, so we'll have to go out there.”
Gregg gave them the fax line for the office and told the guy, “We're about forty miles away right now. We'll be there by four pm, so go ahead and get the order processed and we'll be ahead of the game. Yeah, this is my cell phone number. I'll give you the office number but no one is in now due to a death in the family. Yeah, I'm the son. It was my mom who died. I appreciate the condolences. It's been rough, but we're making it.”
He smiled and then said, “Sure, however you want to do it. One second.”
“Heather, do you want a car?”
She looked at him and said, “Why don't we wait.”
He smiled and said, “They're giving us a car for the use for a year and I thought since you'd need it to drive back and forth to school.”
He spoke into the phone again, “Yeah, give her a car. Yeah, that'll be great. Company colors are fine. Ok, I'll tell her it will be delivered too. Thanks.”
He got off the phone and sat back with a smile on his face and said, “Man, that was awesome. Dad, I don't think you're funny now. Ty, you've got to try that. It's awesome when they take you seriously and you're doing something huge.”
Ty smiled and I knew the smile was something which should be attended to.
“Care to talk about it?”
“Not now, I'm happy for him.”
“Look at me and talk to me.”
He blinked back a tear and I said, “Mark, pull the car over, Ty and I need to go for a walk.”
Mark pulled over and said, “You guys ok?”
“Don't know. I'll tell you in a minute.”
Ty got out of the car and started walking. I looked at the neighborhood we were in and said, “Care to talk now?”
“Yeah, for a moment, it just hurt.”
“Lance, it may not mean much but that stab of pain knowing he thought of Heather to give her a car when once again, I got bypassed for a car.”
“Oh, Ty, I'm sorry.”
“Yeah, I've got millions of dollars in the bank and we're thinking of other people and it still hurts over that fucking car.”
“Man, Ty, I'm sorry. It's going to kill Gregg when he knows.”
“No, you can't tell him. It's selfish of me and it's not fair to Heather.”
“Well, I know where you are. You had me worried there.”
“No, it's nothing to be worried about. I'm allowed to have feelings, and it's just hard to swallow that hurt all over again.”
“Well, if it's any consolation, you've got a real pretty Escalade ordered that we need to call and pay for.”
“Lance, I know you mean well, but those down there in St. Louis will be fine.”
“Yeah, but I was wanting that one for you.”
“I know and that's what's got to suck for you. You're trying and I'm crying over someone else's happiness.”
“No, you've got feelings and I'm not going to ignore that. Let's walk down here and we'll get in the car and go eat.”
He smiled and said, “You feed a broken heart, don't you.”
“Yeah, my mom was German. She'd throw food when we had it to make things better. A fresh loaf of bread made me happy for a week.”
“Oh wow, that's a nice thought.”
“That all nice and warm with jam and.....oh man, I'm hungry now.”
He smiled and because he smiled, I did.
He turned to me and said, “Is the business done up here?”
“Yeah, with the exception of getting the suits.”
“How about if we go out for lunch at the buffet up there and everyone can eat what they want and then we send them all home. Then, you and I go over and look at convertibles.”
“Yeah, I want one bad. You don't know how close I came to ripping the top of my car last Summer to have a convertible. I mean it was a shit car anyways, so I thought it wouldn't matter. Now, I've got the money and want one bad. Would you ride with me in it? Please babe?”
“Yeah, you talked me into it.”
He smiled and said, “I promise I won't buy a car every day.”
“I know you won't. And, I know you want a convertible. Which kind do you want?”
“I'm not sure. I know I either want a Mustang or a Thunderbird.”
“Oh, both are nice. What color?”
“Whatever they have. I'm not going to be picky.”
“Ok, Let's go up here to HyVee and get the buffet. They've got a good one and then, we can go to the Ford dealer after they drop us off.”
We walked up to the limo and got in.
Heather looked at us with concern and I said, “Guys, we're going to go up here to HyVee and eat lunch. Then, Ty and I are going to go up to the Ford dealer and get him a car. You guys can drop us off there and head on back to town.”
As soon as I said what I did, Heather looked at Gregg and Gregg looked down. He looked up and said, “Ty, I'm sorry.”
“No, you did everything right. You thought of who you needed to first. It's not that.
What hurt was it just stung as I felt overlooked once again for a car. Here I am sitting with millions of dollars in the bank and can afford a car and my feelings are getting hurt over a car. So, I'm going to go get one.
It's that simple. Make myself happy and remember the pain so I don't cause it to anyone else.”
Heather smiled and said, “Ty, I'm sorry. While you were out there, not once did we suppose it was that. We thought your feelings were hurt over being overlooked for the business.”
“No, that's Gregg's job and I was really proud of him for what he did. He and dad working as a team really made me happy. Mom knew what she did and she did it to hurt. It's different when it's done accidentally. I know Gregg didn't mean to hurt my feelings, but she did. That's different.”
Gregg nodded and said, “Ty, can I buy you the car?”
“No, Gregg, I love you, but this car is coming from the money I got from mom. It may not be the same, and I know the money in your account came from her too, but it's got to be this way in my mind so I can drive off that lot and say, “Thanks mom”.”
Gregg looked down and said, “Ty, I really didn't mean to hurt you. It's just I assumed you had the Escalade coming and I knew you didn't need a vehicle anymore.”
“I know that and I'm really proud of you for thinking of Heather first. I'm sure there are going to be times when things mom did are going to come back and hurt you. I won't have meant to hurt you when that time comes, but it will still sting like this did.”
He went over to Gregg and hugged him. Gregg hugged him longer and said, “Ty, I knew you were hurt over that car and I feel bad I didn't stand up for you then.”
Mitch said, “Guys, if it's any help, the lawyer said he's got that money coming from the account up here in Quincy and to be honest, it's a little over four hundred grand. Now, here' s the deal and you can both decide, but I'll tell you now, it's going to suck.”
They looked at him and said, “Your mom attempted to change her will when she was drunk Saturday night. He told her he'd talk to her on Monday morning, but as you know she didn't get it changed.
That's the bad news. The good news is he's been on the phone with his mother and has continually told her there's not a leg for them to stand upon in court and he can't claim rightful heir as long as there are heirs who will claim their rightful position.
He's claiming all sorts of things of which there are no legal documents. Your mom never filed any legal paperwork in the last six months with the county, so I know she didn't do anything for him.”
Gregg looked at Mitch and said, “Ok, so what are you telling us dad?”
“What I'm telling you is that money is yours. You can go back by that woman's office and take it today, or you can do whatever with it.
That man's name isn't going to stand in your way. He said he's spoken with the lawyer for their bank and since your mom had heirs, his name doesn't mean anything since she was breaking the law to put his name upon the account.
Now, what he did state was the editor of the paper has promised a smear job and he's filed a cease and desist motion against the newspaper and a promised lawsuit if that article should ever appear.
He's got a phone call in to the owner of the paper now, and thinks they're stalling by calling to see what the issue is with their editor before their lawyers get back with him. He did state he is contacting the television press and they're to be out at the distributorship live at five pm so we can put the citizens on alert of what the paper is trying to do.
He said he'll be there to make a statement and suggests we all be there together, so Ty, tell those people they need a rush on the car.”
“We will Dad, and we'll drive by to get the suits before we leave town.”
“Oh, I already forgot about them. So, you boys will pick those up and meet us there?”
“Yeah, and then, we'll be there together.”
“Well, what I'm going to do is I'm going to have a black ribbon tied on the Draft Horse out front and I want a beer truck as the backdrop for the interview. I want you boys to speak frankly and I don't want you to hold back a thing about what you feel.
I know my feelings are going to be in the way, but that woman down there needs to know her son was involved in wrecking a family. Yeah, it might have already been well on it's way, but I want the community to know if she wants to sling dirty laundry, you boys are aware of what your mom did and their family is trying to profit from the actions which were inappropriate.
While this is going on, I'm going to stand silently back and let the citizens decide for themselves what they think about me.”
Ty looked at Gregg and said, “Gregg, you're the spokesman for the company. You speak and you need to look the part. I want them to know we're still pushing forward and they don't need to know how it's going to be handled. It's none of their business what I'm doing and I just want the community to know the business is still going to flourish.”
Gregg thought for a moment and said, “Lance, do you mind if I say Mom's funeral and visitation will be at your funeral home and give the citizens a nudge to come out since it might not be in the paper?”
“Sure, I think that might be best since a lot of people don't look at the paper anyway. Let me call the cable company and see they put the announcement on the local community channel.”
Ty said, “Do you need the number?”
“No, got that one memorized.”
I called it and told the receptionist what I needed. She took the information and said she'd copy the obituary from the website and would have it on within the hour. I thanked her and got off the phone.
Ty smiled and said, “Well, that's done and I know people look at that channel.”
“Yeah, people look there for school closings and the weather.”
“I used to look there for the school lunch menu, so I know people look at it.”
By this time, we'd pulled into HyVee's parking lot. The limo took up two parking spaces and Mark parked it down a ways so we'd be able to get out easily.
When we got out, we all walked up to the store and went in. The buffet was something new to everyone, so I explained it. Ty was fascinated with getting to eat all the food he wanted and Mitch and Joan were smiling because the concept was foreign to him.
Mark had already grabbed a tray and had went to the Oriental cuisine part of the buffet. Ty made each selection like it was a life or death decision. While he was deciding, I was watching him with a humorous expression.
The woman at the counter wasn't so humored and asked me what I wanted. I told her, and she had it served up and done by the time Ty said, “Is what you got good?”
“Well, I'll have what he's having.”
The woman looked at him and said, “Ok, do you want the buffet or do you want a side dish of that?”
Her tone wasn't funny and Ty instantly gave a look like a deer in the headlights.
I said, “Ma'am, his mom just passed away and she was an abusive bitch. Lighten up on the tone because that look tells me you just sounded like her to him.”
“Well, I'll be happy to get the manager for you sir.”
“You might do that because I'm not going to pay for everyone's food just to have the person I most care about give off that look. So, move it sister and like pronto!”
Heather heard me hit tone and came over immediately by my side. She took one look at Ty and said, “Ty, take his tray to the table and get Gregg over here now!”
Ty took my tray to the table and Heather said, “What just happened?”
“She hit tone with him and became a real bitch when he took his time ordering. He hit that look like it was his mom bitching at him and I told her to lighten up the tone. She's offered to get the manager and I'll see him before I pay for a fucking thing.”
She said, “Well, let me know because if you don't get satisfaction, this tray of mine's going to hit the floor and everyone over there's will too. I'll go tell them so they can fill up on drinks first.”
The manager was called and five minutes later, a harried gentleman came over.
As soon as I saw him, I remembered him from a funeral. He apparently recognized me and a smile hit his face. Thank goodness for small favors.
He came over and said, “Hi, what seems to be the problem?”
“I hate to be a bother, but I've got to.
The problem is your woman over on the other side of the counter. Over there sitting is a guy whose mom was really abusive to him. We brought their family up here so we could get away from the funeral preparations.
He was taking his time because a buffet is foreign to him. He got rushed by her and decided to get what I was having which is the fish and rice.
That's when the woman hit tone with him that was neither happy nor friendly. The kid went into flashback of his mom and I told her to lighten it up. She said she'd be happy to get you.
Now, here's the deal. You see all those people over there?”
“They're all going to stand up and spill their trays at once and we're all going to walk out of here if that guy doesn't get apologized to real fast. I won't spend money at a place where abused kids get sent into flashbacks by your help.”
“Oh, one moment, I'll do better than that.”
He went behind the counter and said, “Which one is it?”
“I pointed at the one and he turned and told her, “You go home and I'll see you in my office tomorrow. That man right there explained to me what happened and you'll have a whole lot of explaining to do to him.”
“I don't care really who the hell he is.”
“Well, on your way out the door, stop by the flower shop and see how many flower arrangements are getting made up.
They're going to his funeral home tomorrow. If he refuses them, I have to refund all those people their money. Do you realize they've been working since nine am non-stop on nothing but his stuff?”
She looked at him and I know she wanted to say something else. He gave her a look and said, “I know you're a better employee than this, but today's not your day. Let's try it again tomorrow.”
I thought dude, if she hits tone like that with her kids at home, I'll be seeing her kids as happy as these over here when she dies.
He said, “Lance, tell me what he needed and I'll be happy to get everything for you guys.”
“Yeah, I had to think of it, but it's been a while.”
He nodded and said, “We got the order in that it's to be nothing but pink roses. DO you realize the entire midwest is getting scavenged for pink roses right now?”
I chuckled and said, “Jerad, I'll tell you. His mom was a real bitch. But, I'm giving her a send off she'd be proud of and one little girls and princesses all dream of. So, it's requiring pink roses.”
He smiled and said, “You know, when you did mother's, you gave her such a beautiful funeral, I still get told by our family how much they appreciated it.
I know I want you to handle mine and I know several in our family want theirs now too. It's amazing when people who are lifelong residents up here want to go there for their funeral. You really need to open one up here.”
“I'm told that a lot and to be honest Jerad, I've thought about it. I need help, and that guy that just got his feelings hurt is my new partner.”
“Yeah, but we discussed it and he thinks spending time away from me would be too much, so we're concentrating on things at home.”
“Do you think you'd be looking for someone to help you if you'd be able to get one going up here?”
“One moment Jerad, how about if I tell them to go ahead and eat and you come over. I'd like his input in on it and then I'd be happy to tell you an answer.”
“Great.” He smiled “By the way, tell them it's all on the house. I'll write it off.”
“Ok, you're not really losing any money. How many arrangements you got over there?”
“So far? Or how many total that's ordered, because the orders are still coming in.”
“Yeah, we were taken by surprise.”
“Me too. His mom's the MS distributor.”
“Well, you do know she bought half interest in the one up here, don't you?”
“Yeah, it's been a year or so ago, but man, no wonder everyone's sending flowers!”
“I really appreciate this. You know she hid money from that family like you wouldn't believe.”
“Yeah, raised them like they were paupers. You should see his car. A Flintstones mobile. Holes in the floorboards bigger than a school book.”
“Wow and all that money.” He said with a voice of wonder.
“Yeah, and the kids are really great. Her husband is a real sweet guy and he's just now finding out she wasn't faithful.”
“Oh man, that had to really blindside him.”
“But you're right, she was a real bitch.”
“You and I both know.”
“She came in here and measured the shelf space and I got reamed for two frigging inches. Two frigging inches man! She got her inches, but it took me moving the whole shelf down and when I least expected it, she'd be in with a tape measure.”
He walked over with me and pulled up a chair and sat on it backwards. Ty looked at me and Jerad said, “You must be his partner” and held out his hand.
Ty smiled and said, “Yeah” He shook Jerad's hand and I said “Ty, Jerad's asking if I'll start a funeral home up here. He says he'd be interested in working for us and it'd be nice because he knows people up here are planning on having their funerals down there. We could build one up here and all I'd have to do is embalm up here and let either you or him direct the funerals.”
Ty looked at me and said, “Ok, would that mean we spend less time together?”
“Maybe, but maybe not. You know when you have a funeral down there and there's one up here, I'll have to be somewhere, but if you've got one and I've got one at the same time, we're not going to get to spend time together anyways, but I told him it's your call.”
Ty looked at me and said, “Do you think it'd work?”
“Yeah, I know it'll work, but what I want to know is if you'll go in with me on it and we pull Jerad in to work for us.”
Ty smiled and said, “How much?”
“I don't know. It depends where we get the land. It's going to take six acres for the home and the parking lot. There's a huge site out at Jefferson and 36th st. which is available and it'd be perfect as the city's growing that direction. But, it's your call.”
He turned to Mitch and said, “Dad, if I go broke, can I get a loan?”
Mitch snorted and said, “Son, you just got another twenty five million today, I don't think you're going to be broke and Lance won't put you in the poor house. I'd say he's a safe bet. If you don't invest with him, I will.”
Ty smiled and said, “Yeah, so go for six million and then we'll run it.”
He looked at Jerad and said, “Jerad, I want you to know Lance is super hard to work for. He'll crack that whip so hard and you'll beg for him to stop but he'll say 'harder', 'faster' and you'll think he's Santa on an LSD trip, but you'll get used to it.”
Gregg's eyes were watering and Heather was already ducking her face and Joan started laughing and that sent everyone into gales of laughter. Jerad looked at us and said, “He can't be serious!”
“No, he's trying to get everyone to lighten up. You'll get used to him. He's the joker in the family.”
“Oh, he had me worried there.”
“Nah, you'll see I run a tight ship, but you'll also see how easily it's ran when things are done right and everyone thinks you're the greatest for it.”
“Well I know you did right by us”. He looked at everyone and he said, “Guys, things are tough right now, but you picked the right one with him.
The night it hit me my mom wasn't coming back, I was over in aisle six stocking shelves and it hit me. He told me to keep my cell phone on me and his number in speed dial. You'd be amazed at how fast he was up here.” He stood up and said, “Lance can I get another of those hugs.”
I stood up and the hug he gave me was awesome. He looked at everyone and said, “You guys are lucky because you'll get those wherever, and whenever. It's his trademark and you'll really find it's what keeps you going. I know it was me.”
He looked off for a moment and said, “Well, I've got a store to run and you answer to that over there Lance is over four hundred and counting.”
I nodded and said, “Thanks Jerad .If you want, I'll send a truck up to help.”
“We've got a semi going that way. We've talked the driver into stopping.
If you'd have someone be there later, I'll send two guys down in a catering truck and they'll be sure to get them all inside for you.”
“Sure, Thanks again Jerad”
“No problem and Lance, here's my card.”
“Ok, you got my number still don't you?”
“Yeah, it's number two on my speed dial. It used to be number one, but I met someone. You'll meet her sometime and she's already a fan of yours. She was a member of the Robertson family last September. It was our conversation about you which got us to talking and look where that went!”
He walked off and Joan said, “Sweet guy. Definitely in the wrong profession, but I could see him working for you.”
“Yeah, he's got the hug down.”
I turned to Ty and said, “Ty, where the hell did you learn about Santa and LSD?”
Ty started laughing and said, “Seriously, I opened my mouth and words started to tumble out and it was like there was no controlling it. By the time I was done, it was like....oh boy!”
Everyone started laughing and I said, “Well, I've got to get me one of those hats.”
started laughing and said, “Oh man, you with your kinky little
elf over there are going to be scaring children.”
Ty said, “I will not!”
Mark laughed harder and said, “No the one that dresses in black for special occasions.”
Ty started laughing and said, “Honest Heather, I didn't tell!”
She laughed and said, “I'll never live that down in this family!”
Mitch smiled and said, “Heather, it was me. I gotta confess. The sight of you in that get up was perfect. The look on Gregg's face and me not knowing what to expect was too priceless. It's just so not you, I'm amazed at the sight still.”
She smiled and said, “Well, I had to make an impression. Now, I've got to live it down. But, I do have to get Gregg a Chippendale's costume.”
Joan snickered and said, “Oh boy, kiddo, Mark's got a present for you!”
I started laughing and she quickly said, “Not big Mark! Little one!”
Mark smiled and said, “I tried to get him to let me borrow it but he made this face and said, “Dad, sorry, but all of what you got in motion wouldn't stop.” I'm still trying to figure out what he meant.”
Heather chuckled and said, “I won't tell if you won't tell if we lend the outfit to your uncle, Gregg.”
Joan smiled and said, “Well, Mark's already decided he wants to dress up to be a Chauffeur, so we'll have to borrow a limo.”
“You got it anytime you want it.”
She smiled and said, “Guys, what did he mean by four hundred?”
“That's how many flower arrangements they've got up here going to the funeral home and before I forget guys, you need to contact this distributorship up here as he said Wendy was half owner of it.”
Mitch looked at me and said, “When did this happen?”
“He said it happened a year or so ago.”
“Well, it'd been nice if my wife could have included me in on this decision!”
“Sorry, Mitch, but that's some more whichmight have not been told, but now you know.”
“Sheesh, what am I going to do now?”
“Well, if the partner is running it, then let him run it. You don't have to be an active owner.”
“Well, I'll call my attorney again. I bet he doesn't know about this. Thank goodness the man gave me his cell phone number.”
“Well, you know you're high on the list when your lawyer gives you that!”
Mitch smiled and said, “Well, I think he knows I'm facing a lot at once. Fortunately, I've got a family that's facing it with me.”
We all nodded. Mitch smiled and said, “Do you think I could get a ride out there?”
“Sure, do you know where it is?”
“Don't have the foggiest, but I imagine when I see all the beer trucks, I'm in the right place.”
“Well, you might see what they have for trucks and tell the partner you're about to re-fleet and you'll shift trucks up here. He probably could use them.”
“What I'm going to do is I'm saving five back for spares and then I'm going to open a small center up on 6 nearer to Kirksville. We've got a huge need for trucks over there and it's never made sense to me why we don't have them there.”
“Oh, well, then that would be a plan.”
Gregg smiled and said, “Dad, that's a heckuva plan. Got anyone in mind to run it?”
“You. If Heather needs to go to school, you could run it and then you two could live over that way. Then, when you're ready to come back home, you'll know that better than anyone and you'll be one up on me. So, you can run this and we'd have a whole area covered.”
I smiled and thought to myself it was a plan and hopefully, Gregg would know he was getting slack on the chain.
Gregg looked at me and said, “You guys going to come visit regularly?”
“Well, between the two funeral homes, I'll be tight, but Ty will be able.”
Ty looked at me and said, “Gregg, we'll be there. He's not going to be so busy you're taking a back burner.”
“I didn't mean that Ty.”
“I know, but Gregg's asking for permission Lance. So, give it.”
“Ok Gregg, you know where I stand on things and the moment I come over there and it's not what you say...believe me, your dad and I will have a huge conversation.”
Mitch smiled and said, “I don't think that'll happen.”
Gregg looked at me and said, “Lance, let's go check the beer aisle.”
“Nope, I know the measurements are perfect.”
“Your mom reamed Jerad over two inches of shelf space and came in with a tape measure and terrorized him after that. I'm not going near that aisle.”
“You've got to be kidding me!”
“No, I learned that over there. After he found out who you guys were, he told me that and was afraid to meet you.
If he sees you over there, he'll think you're taking after her. I'll not go near that aisle. Now if you want to go to the bathroom to have a talk, I don't think your mom measured anything in there.”
Mitch said, “Oh man, I've got to follow that act. I'm sure the guy in this distributorship thinks he's got a helluva person coming in and is not calling because he's afraid. Who knows? She might have told him, I've got a son who's just like me and had him afraid of this day coming.”
Gregg said, “Well, I'm not like her dad!”
“I know that Gregg and I know I'm not like her either. This man doesn't know that and the businesses up here don't know that. How about if you stay over here and hold this man's hand so he knows he's got a business partner who isn't going to be terrorizing everyone?”
Gregg looked at Mitch and said, “Dad, we don't even know what we have up here. I think we need to go out there together and see it.
That man might be running it fine. If I'm going to be in Kirksville, and you think that'd be a good place for me, don't be moving me all over. Heather's going to be there and I need to know what to expect.”
Mitch asked, “Heather, where do you want to go to school?”
Heather said, “To be really fair, I've not thought a lot about it. John Wood has courses, so over here would be good and Kirksville has courses, so that's good too.
I do think if Gregg got to go to Kirksville, he'd be able to open his wings a bit more and that would be good for him. Don't clip them so short he'll never be confident and soar when he needs to.”
Mitch and I looked at each other and he had tears in his eyes. He said, “Gregg, look at me son.”
Gregg turned around and Mitch said, “Don't ever be afraid to tell me what she just did. I feel like an ass now and I really do love you.
You go up there and you do what makes you happy. All I'm trying to say is wherever you go, know I've got confidence in you and want you to be where you're happy.
Now, the reason I was pointing in this direction is if we're half owners, there's a reason she bought it. Maybe the guy is waiting for you to graduate so he can retire on out.
I don't know. But, if she did it for that reason, then she handed you better than what she had. Don't you see that?”
Gregg nodded and said, “Dad, that district over there has sentimental attachment. I understand what you just said, but some day, they'll be ran together. Computers can order and we'll have a whole lot of things under one umbrella.
Maybe I can go to Kirksville and get that started and then we can hire someone to look over it. By the time I've got what I've in mind with the computers and ordering, there's not going to be a chance someone will have stolen anything because it's going to be able to caught.
What we do need is a set of three guys who can go in and audit a place for three days. They can see Kirksville and they can see Quincy, and they can see home office. They'll not know what's gone because their scanners won't tell them a thing. You'll see it on the big computer or I will and then we can tag a problem before it's out two weeks.”
Mitch smiled and said, “They were talking about something like that at a meeting once. It was over my head, but now I'm understanding it. Why don't you take the job as distribution manager and cover that.
Then that'll be my right hand man. You can get me up to speed on it and then either you or I can go to the satellites and check up on things. If Heather's in school on certain days, you can be there, and come home the other days. We could keep the road hot between the two of us and no one would know where I ended and you began. To me, that'll be what will set up apart.”
Gregg looked at Heather and said, “You want to?”
She smiled and said, “That makes more sense. If I rotate, I can go to classes here on Tuesday and Thursday and go there the other. Would that work better for you?”
“It's whatever works for you.”
She looked at us and said, “Guys, our problem's settled.”
I smiled and said, “Well, Joan, what I need from you and Mark this afternoon is for you to go to the funeral home. So far, we've got a thousand arrangements and counting. I
have no clue where to put them all. And, I've not began to show you the air handling system. That place is going to smell like a funeral home!”
Joan laughed and said, “Oh man, that's funny.”
I looked at the guys and said, “Guys, this thing is way bigger than I expected. I'll tell you now. You've got people coming out of the woodwork that are way beyond the numbers I even thought.
I knew Quincy was going to run an obituary, but now I think they'll probably go all out. Their news channel and the paper work hand in hand, so I know they'll do it since she was over here too.”
Ty asked, “So, you're saying we need to drop by the newspaper?”
“I'm saying we should.”
“Ok, so how about we do that while we're out test driving the car or they're getting it prepped for us and we can use a loaner and then drop by and get the suits.”
I nodded and said, “Well guys, do you all have shoes and everything needed for the suits? If not, I suggest Sears up here as they've got a good quality shoe.”
Mitch nodded and said, “I need a shoe that will be comfortable. If I'm going to be in a suit all the time, I'm going to need several style that lift like I saw down there.”
“Can I offer a suggestion Mitch?”
“Go with a size larger than you think you should wear.
For me, growing up, I wore a size 10 ½ , but when I went to size shoes, I found out I'd grown 2 sizes. I never thought my feet would keep growing, but I never knew. So, now I wear a size 12 ½ . You might try a larger shoe and then try it with the thick socks. That's what I do. I've not been uncomfortable since.”
“Mitch nodded and said, “Well, the backs of mine where my ankle hits pinch.”
“Throw that shoe away. Something's not right with it for you. Either that or put it in the pile going to Catholic charity.”
Mitch looked at me and said, “Where's Catholic charity?”
“They're at 12th and Locust. I'm not Catholic and I go there. Their prices are reasonable and I find things which still have the tags on them.”
Mitch smiled and said, “You don't know it but I'm a hound for those places. I never knew it was here!”
“Well, you'll love it.”
Ty smiled and said, “You don't know it but you've just created a monster. My dad will be up here a lot.”
“Well, he'll find amazing deals there. Do you realize a pair of socks cost like ten dollars at some places and are fifty cents there brand new?”
Ty smiled and said, “Yeah, and with the price of gas being what it is, Dad will pay the difference in gas to come get the cheap ones.”
“Well, me too buddy. Maybe Pops and I will have to go together and leave the youngster to mind the store.”
Ty smiled and said, “I can see you two in your fishing hats out flea shopping.”
“Don't knock it”
“I won't just bring home bargains hon.”
“I will if there's any Chippendale costumes, but Uncle Mark gets first dibs!”
Mark started chuckling and said, “I'm not going to be able to live it down.”
“Nor should you Mark, I bet Joan's a lucky woman. Maybe one day all us old farts will put on a show for the youngsters in our lives.”
Mark smiled and said, “Hon, he's calling himself an old fart at the ripe old age of twenty four again! Make him stop it!”
She laughed and said, “It's funny hon. But what's funnier is he acts older than you sometimes.”
“Well, he's welcome in my book because he's got cool cars hon. So, I'll tolerate his mid-life crisis.”
She laughed and said, “I know dear. You poor things. I can hardly wait until my nephew gets the convertible so his aunt can borrow it to go grocery shopping in her halter top.”
I really started laughing and Ty said, “We'll go shopping together!”
Heather said, “Me too!”
We all got up to leave and on the way out, the girl who'd been not so friendly came over and said, “Jerad and I spoke. He told me who you were and what you did for him.
I want you to know I apologize. He was my best friend at the time and what he said after you did what you did for him really made me feel terrible.”
I looked at her name tag and said, “Trish, we all have bad days. Today's a bad day in a lot of ways for me, that guy over there is my heart and I probably took too much offense, but his mom used to talk to him that way and when I saw him hitting that look, I instantly went on the offensive.”
“I know and I'm sorry. Jerad also told me who his mom was and I really know who she was. When he said you compared me to her, I really felt bad. That lady's the one we all didn't like here.”
“Well, they grew up with her and she wasn't better at home. So, just remember in the future the customer you might not feel like you need to be patient with might have lost their mom and might take that time because she harped into him about choosing wrongly. Lord knows she fucked him mentally on everything else, so just remember and I'll try to be nicer next time too.”
She smiled and said, “He told me you were are real sweetheart and I believe him. I'm glad you and that guy got together. You too are good together.”
“Did he tell you that?”
“No. Should I have not said anything? It's just you two look so right together.”
“No, we're together, but sometimes I wonder if everyone's thinking I'm the gay funeral director.”
“If they think that, don't mind them. You two obviously look like you're in love and if they see that and say something, they're insecure themselves.”
I smiled and said, “Well thanks. You made my day a little brighter.”
She smiled and said, “Thanks!”
We left and Ty said, “Let's go get my car!”
We went out and cruised through the parking lot. I think the car salesmen all seeing a limo pulling through the lot all thought they had a nice one on the hook. It was sort of funny how one would watch us drive through his section of the lot and when we exited his section, his face fell.
When we got to the convertibles, Ty spotted the dark blue Mustang GT with white stripes and called dibs on it. It was funny because as soon as Mark stopped the car, both Gregg and Ty were out of the car running towards it.
Heather said, “If Gregg buys that car out from under him, he's not going to be riding back home with me.”
“He's not hon. Look at that look. That's the look of a brother lusting over his brother's car. You may not hear it, but I bet you ten to one, Gregg's thinking of ways to ask Ty if he'll drive his pickup for a day so he can drive that car with you.
My advice is to take a trip to Nauvoo and go up. The drive's beautiful in the fall especially and you can see the Morman play they put on. It's quite nice.”
“You've been there?”
“Oh yeah. Call me a loner, but I went up and toured the winery and had a meal of cheese curds and wine. You want to talk about a nice little afternoon.”
“You drank wine!”
“Yeah, That was the day you were over at that one town with your parents....oh what's it's name?”
“Bethel. I was watching a sheep shearing competition and you were over here having a nice day. I'll get even!”
“You will when you spend your honeymoon in France and don't send me home a bottle of wine and Champagne from each little vinery over there.”
“I'm learning more about you sir!”
“Yeah, and you two can have the day and go up there. Schedule it in advance because something's telling me you'll be about four months pregnant by then.”
“Yeah, not smart because that'll mess up your Spring semester, but maybe he'll be an Easter baby.”
“No, that's what I just feel in my bones hon. Don't ask me why.”
“And the last time you felt it in your bones, you were right and each and every time before that. Oh man.”
“Well sis, you're going to be a mama in a little over a year. I'd suggest you start thinking of names.”
She laughed and said, “You know we never did find out if they have skinny ankles.”
“Doesn't matter, it was dark anyways and the house was empty and the way he moaned my name oh so softly sent chills down my spine. Who the hell was thinking about his ankles!”
She laughed and said, “You painted that mental picture oh so clearly. Did you wrinkle the sheets?”
“Sheets! Shit, we ripped them things on off of the bed it was so intense! What you talking about wrinkles?!”
“Man, don't tell me anymore. I'm envious.”
Mark came up and said, “I heard you two clear over there. Joan's cackling like an old hen. The conversations kids have these days give the old folks something to really think about.”
He laughed and went over to Ty's car. By this time, the car salesman was over speaking to Ty and I said, “Do you think I should let him deal for it, or should I let the guy do the hard sell on him and then go in and play hard ball.”
“Let Ty buy his car. The better he feels he screwed the woman on that car, the better he'll feel about the car.”
“Well, she sure scarred that kid on that car. I hope she was happy.”
“She wasn't. Who the hell could be after doing something like that to their kid?”
“A twisted demented bitch.”
“Yeah, and you've not heard some of the things Gregg tells.”
“Well, I've heard things too and it's just sad. Let's hope we have a future with them and get her burned. As hot as the place is I think she's going, she'll think that was a shower compared to what she's facing.”
“You sure have it hard for her, don't you?”
“Hon, and you don't!”
“No, because in a way, I'm still caught in the fantasy there was something good inside her.”
“I had hopes but somewhere between the bad and the worse, I lost it. I can't even begin to say how much I wish she was alive so I could kill the bitch all over again slowly.”
“Well, you'd probably had her changed and being a sweetheart.”
“Well, the conversation she and I had, she did seem to love Mitch, but she was resigned to the fact she'd lost him. That's pathetic because if she'd realized it, she had three guys who all loved her so much it was scary.”
“Yeah, and it wasn't enough. She went out and searched for more. What was she missing to have her out doing that?”
“She had it if she'd stopped and just thought about it.”
“Not in the way she needed it. That's what's strange. Some people don't stop to take a look around them to realize they would be happy if they'd just enjoy what they have.”
“You know it and I know it. We've been there and we've lost it.”
I looked at her and realized she was talking about me. I put my arm around her and said, “Hon, I loved you the best way I could. I loved you enough to give you up and she didn't.”
She looked at me and said, “There's a part of me that will always love you.”
“I know and you'll always have that part of me. I just can't give you what you wanted. But you don't realize you've got the part of me no one can take away. I'll be there for you and I'll help raise the babies and you'll see we're each happy. We'll always be there for each other.”
Ty pulled the car off the ramp they had it upon and backed it down. Alongside the car ran Gregg. Watching him be happy for his brother was beyond words.
“That's the way it should have been. Watching Gregg's happiness has me seeing how she would have been. That joy on his face for his brother and the hope he's finally happy. She could have seen. It's fucked up because I can see her on the other side and nowhere on her is a power suit. And nowhere on her is that fucked up hair style. She's got her hair longer and she's got it back in a french twist. She looks good in her sweater and she realizes she's a knockout in those bluejeans. What the hell was wrong with her? She was playing everyone's part of what they expected her to be but her.”
“That's it hon, you don't see she was trying to make everyone happy and they weren't happy because she wasn't. She's got to be on a merry go round in hell trying to still find happiness. Her only way to achieve it is to finally see they're happy without her. Tomorrow, at the funeral home, I'm making us a pot of coffee and we're going to start doing a routine where we have morning talks and having that time together. It'll be called Wendy's slow roast coffee hour.”
I chuckled and said, “Hon, I'd love to but you don't realize it, but my mornings are going to be full of Ty, Gregg, and Mitch going to the Y. We're going to work out and get Mitch slim and trim. He doesn't want to be Danny Devito to your kids. He wants to be grandpa that seems short but's really tall to them.”
“Oh, when's our time going to be?”
“Well, we'll make it. Maybe it'll be when we're cooking dinner together and the boys are in talking about their days with the kids. Then, we can all sit down together and have a nice family meal.”
“Did you see Mitch when Aunt Mary called?”
“Yeah, that guy's already got it so bad.”
“Yeah, and you know what?”
“I can see her dressed up in some nice outfits that will blow his socks off. Nothing like the power suits. I'm talking about sky blue skirt suits with sequins and off white cream with bronze trim skirt suits. She's a classy lady if she'd allow herself to be.”
“Yeah, and if he'd start giving her diamonds and pearls, she'd be really falling more for him. Maybe he and I need to take time when we're up here bargain shopping and go by Zales. If I did that for him, she'd slap some loving on him that he'd never knew what hit him.”
“Oooh, you romantic fool. She'll eat that up and you know it.”
“Yeah, and as she nibbled, he'd be way over his head. Can you imagine, people see you and I in a room with our other halves and them saying, “Damn, those are some couples who really love each other.” Then, they walk in and the room just goes up in smoke from the way they look at each other.”
“Yeah, that's going to be awesome.”
Ty gave a yell for me and waved me over. I walked over and he said, “Jump in, they're going to do the paperwork.”
“How do they know what to put on it?”
“I gave them my driver's license and told him to put your address on it.”
“Well, that's fine, but it's our address hon.”
“Yeah, but you know what I meant.”
“Yeah, we've got to get you to thinking the house is yours too.”
He smiled and said, “Well, it's coming around, but the garage isn't big enough for this.”
“Oh, well, we'll have mine in the garage and you can use it when you have a call. We don't need two at home.”
He looked at me and said, “No, I want mine at home.”
“Ok, we'll leave mine at the garage.”
He looked perplexed and said, “Lance, this is strange, but I don't want that either.”
“We'll figure something out. Maybe we need to build another.”
“Oh no. not unless it's got a three car....no, make that a four car garage because I know there's a car you'd just die to have.”
“Hon, if I got the car I'd just die to have, we'd not have a garage big enough for that collection.
You name about every muscle car and I'd want it. Then you name a lot of newer cars and I'd want it. But, if you name one guy and I'd say I'm satisfied. I've got you, so whatever makes you happy, then I'm at home.”
He smiled and said, “Well, let's go to the paper and then, we'll stop back by and get the suits. I really want to show you this car.”
I said, “Hmm, it's got a back seat. I thought convertibles didn't have back seats.”
“This one does, why?”
“Well, we've got my brothers so now I'm happy.”
He smiled at me and said, “Did you get a phone call today?”
“Not that I've checked.”
I looked at my caller id and checked messages and nothing. He looked at me and said, “I was sure you'd get a call.”
“I don't think they want to come home hon.”
“Now, don't say that.”
“I'm being realistic Ty.”
He looked at me and said, “One moment, I'm calling Aunt Joan. She can call that woman and see what the hold up is.”
He dialed his cell phone and was calling his aunt. I heard the throaty muffler and thought, This car is sharp. It's beautiful and it's a modern equivalent of the old muscle cars. My babe's got what I wanted, but the modern version of it. I'm happy.”
He looked over at me and handed me the phone.
I took it and Aunt Joan said, “Hon, she called me and I forgot to tell you. She called while you were out talking to Ty. She said she's going up to see them after they get out of school and wants to tell them.”
“Oh, will she call you to tell you how it went?”
“I think she's supposed to call you and let you speak with them.”
“What's wrong hon?”
“I'm just worried. I'm afraid they won't want me.”
“Don't say that! They'll want you.”
“Now you keep your chin up and wait for the phone call.”
“Ok. Well, here's Ty back.”
To say I was feeling overwhelmed and scared would be an understatement. The only other time I'd felt this out of control was right after Tony blew his head off. Fear enveloped me and I knew I had to keep it together and go into mode here in a moment down at the newspaper.
I began thinking about what I'd say and what I wanted and then didn't hear a thing Ty was saying. I never even realized he'd pulled the car over and it wasn't moving.
He looked at me and touched my arm. I flinched and he said, “Lance, you've got to talk to me. I don't know where to go.”
“Oh, sorry hon, I was out there.”
“Yeah, you were and I got to the point I couldn't reach you and you were beginning to scare me. It you didn't answer me when I touched you, I was going to call Heather and tell her to get here quick.”
“No, don't do that. It's just I've got a lot of anxiety going on right now. Everything's way bigger and going way faster than I thought and it's scaring the hell out of me.
Then, on top of this, I've got my brother's and it's really scaring me. I feel overwhelmed and I don't know what's going to happen. Ty, I need you.”
“I know babe and I'm here.”
He reached down and touched my hand and instantly, I was drawn to Tony's hand and mine when we drove his Hemi Cuda Convertible. I looked over and for an instant, I didn't see him, I saw Tony.”
“I'm here babe, now tell me where to go.”
Instantly, I was brought back to the present and I said, “Oh, turn here and go up until you see that Oakley-Lindsey Center and then turn down that street. You'll see the paper there by the library. Ok?”
He smiled and said, “You were gone again.”
“I'm back now. Memories can be a bitch.”
“Yeah, and sometimes they can be a bitch. I thought my mom was there with me when I first got in the car.”
“What was she wearing.”
“Well, it was strange because I've seen pictures with her hair that way and she was wearing jeans and a sweater. Her hair was back in a pony tail thing.”
“That's called a french twist. The sweater was blue and her jeans were really nice on her.”
“Yeah, how'd you know?!”
“I saw her too. She was standing out there by the fender when you were backing it down. She was watching Gregg be happy for you and knowing you were finally happy. I think she was happy in what she was wearing finally.”
“Oh man, I think that's what dad remembers is her that way. I really hope she's happy.”
“You know, Heather and I were discussing it at about that time and I think she was miserable trying to make everyone happy being what she thought everyone else wanted her to be. In playing that part, she was miserable and it made everyone else miserable. I think she just wanted everyone to be happy and didn't know how to do it. She doesn't have the distributorship now and she's seeing Mitch run it. I think she's happy.”
“She got what she wanted all along. Man, Dad didn't see it either. Oh man.”
“Hon, she's happy you got your car.”
“I'm happy with it. It's better than I thought.”
“Yeah, I can hardly wait to take the top down and drive with you in it.”
One day, I want us to drive to Nauvoo together and go through the winery and do the walking tour there.”
“You'd like that?”
“Oh yeah. I went once alone and really enjoyed it. Now, I'd love to take you.”
“You know the Morman's don't like gays.”
“No, and they don't like caffeine and other things, but there's wine there and cheese curds and we could have a nice little lunch.”
He smiled and said, “The deal is we go there one weekend and then we go to Lincoln's stuff in Springfield.”
“As long as we can take a weekend and go to see Truman's home and library in Independence.”
“Ok.” He smiled.
“I'm glad I got the car. We've not talked about doing these things before I got it.”
“Hon, Some day when we're old and gray, maybe in about ten years, we'll take a Summer and go on a vacation.”
He laughed and said, “Maybe by then, I'll have a gray hair, but if I do, I'm blaming it on you!”
“No, you blame it on Biff. He'll be about nine then.”
“Yeah, call it a hunch, but when I feel things in my bones, I'm right and something just told me Heather's going to have a baby in a little over a year while we were on that parking lot back there.”
“Did you tell her?”
“Yeah, and it's going to be a boy.”
“Wow, Biff's going to be a baby!”
“Yeah, and she's feeling morose because she's afraid of losing me. We've got to make time for she and I and you and Gregg to have time. What we've come up with is we'll make suppers together and you and Gregg can have your catch up time telling each other about your day with the boys.”
“What about Bridgett?”
“She's younger, she'll be there, but it's before her.”
“Oh, ok, so the boys are little.”
We pulled into the parking lot and he looked at me and said, “You know, I really like talking with you like this. It makes me feel good.”
“Me too babe. It's sort of like I've had a bottle of that wine already, but I know that's the feeling of being so overwhelmed. You'll feel it sometime and you'll know there's not a thing you can do but things will be alright. It's basicly hold on for the ride time.”
He said, “I've felt that way once. When I was little, we went to Six Flags and for some reason, I was so afraid to get on the Highland Fling. They put me in the back and little Mark and Jake were in front of me with Gregg all the way up front. I was really giving little Mark's eardrums a workover with my screaming and then the thing was going.
All of a sudden, there wasn't anything I could do. Little Mark was crushing my nuts and everyone's squeezing back on me and about the time I thought I was going to die, I just looked out and the world was flying by and there wasn't a thing I could do.
To me, I wonder if that's what the trip to heaven feels like. That blur is our lives flying by and we see everything and we're wishing we'd done more and then when the ride's over, We realize we made it and we're stepping out into heaven.
You know, your feet are all light and bouncey and soon, we get used to walking on clouds. What'd be pure heaven is if I get there and Mom's there happy and right next to her, I see you and know I'll get to see you both happy forever. Oh man, that's a nice thought.”
He looked up at me and said, “Hon, we're here.”
I looked outside and said, “How long we been here?”
“Oh man, you're really gone, aren't you?”
“No, I was hearing you tell me what heaven was like.”
“Hon, look at me. We parked fifteen minutes ago.”
I looked at him and said, “Ty, something's going on and I'm scared.”
He smiled, “Babe, let's go inside and we'll be better.”
We got out of the car and as I walked away from the car, I felt better.
“You're going to hate me, but when we get back to the dealer, I'm going to get another car and I'm going home in it. That car isn't right.”
He looked at me and said, “Ok babe. If you don't want the car, we won't get the car. You've not been right since we got in it and I can see that.”
“Ty, I'm sorry.”
“No, if I didn't see you that way, I'd think you were being selfish, but something's happened to you in that car and it's scaring you.”
“Well, it's too much like Tony's Hemi Cuda convertible. It started with me thinking about it and now, I've had all sorts of weird shit. I can't do that Ty. I've got too much and I don't want to give you up.”
“You've really been out there. You feeling like you have, I can see it's scared the shit out of you. We'll get that white one.”
He looked at me and said, “I love you.”
“LB let's get in here so I can tell them what we need.”
We stepped in and when I went to the desk, the guy said, “How can I help you?”
“We're here to put an obituary in the paper.”
“Ok, I'll get you Gene. He's the obituary man.”
He left and soon, Gene came up and I looked at him and I said, “You're the guy who did the Heinold Hog commercial.”
He smiled and said, “You were a kid that watched too much television!”
I laughed and said, “That too. We need to put an obituary in the paper.”
“Ok, Do you have one written?”
“Yeah, can you print out a website?”
“Yeah, what's the site?”
“Green Funeral Home.”
“Who's the obituary?”
“Oh, we've got her obituary in the paper already. She's a big business owner.”
“Yeah, I want to make sure she's well represented because Mary Lou isn't going to run her obituary.”
“Yeah, Mary Lou's son was having an affair with the deceased and she's not printing it because of that.”
“She's disrespecting the family over the actions of her son with a dead woman?”
“Yeah, fucked up, but that's her reason besides her son trying to steal a bunch of money from the family.”
“Oh wow, we've got a story here. You want to print it?”
“Sure, because every bit of it's true and can be verified by at least two witnesses who will talk and by all sorts of credit card statements of dates, times, places, and things that happened. The family's going public with it on the news this evening.”
“Oh man, Damn I wish I had that scoop!”
“Well, you'll have more than that. You'll everything I can give you and believe me, you'll have a lot and you can use my name. I dare the bitch to try to sue me.”
“Wow! Hold on”
He left and Ty smiled. “You know you're stirring shit and the look on your face is priceless.”
“She fucked with those I love and she needs to know she'll pay.”
He said, “I'm here with you hon, and I'll be there to verify your story.”
The guy came back carrying a voice recorder and said, “Here, speak into this and I'll write notes.”
Ty smiled and said, “Hon, you do this and I'll go back and get the White car. “
“Ok Drive safe, that car's scary.”
He nodded and went out the door. I turned my focus on the recorder and began telling the story I wanted everyone to read. I don't know how long I'd spoken, but when I was done, he looked at me and said, 'That's amazing. You've got everything exactly how you want it to be printed in the paper. I'll put my by line on it, but you wrote that article.”
I nodded and said, “Here's my driver's license. Photo copy it and you'll have proof I was here in case someone attempts to sue you.”
“No, because one thing in here's already checked out. I heard the police call to the bank on the police scanner and you know exactly what it was for. I bet I can call each person on here and they'll verifty it over and over. So, I trust you.
Now, what we're going to do is we're going to put this as page one tomorrow and that will hit about the time the visitation begins. The news tonight will wake people up to the problem and they'll clamor for the paper to see what we have. Now, I'll tell you why the old girl got that distributorship.”
He paused and looked around him and said, “The old boy that had the distributorship over here was hot for her. He wanted her, so he landed her. In the deal for it, he sold her half of it because she promised him the moon and the stars to get it and delivered a nightmare.
The guy was in bed with the devil's wife as he says and when she died, that fucker spent the night up partying his ass off.
He knows he's got the family coming in, but he's planning on being a horses ass back. All I can say is the dude thinks he's got enough money to fight them, but he hasn't a clue how they'll run things.
My advice is for them to run it from afar and to go in and go over the books very carefully and then get the hell out of dodge. He'll see they're not going to play into the game like she did and he'll soon get tired of it. Now, here's a part of it you won't know I told you.
That man's kid is gay. Get him hooked up with someone and you get that kid head over heels for them, and he'll work on dad. When dad buckles, you tell them to have enough money to go in and buy dad out and they'll get the whole shooting match. They can then run it how you say they're going to run it over there and it'll be good for them.
I'll tell you now, the horror stories of that woman in this town are too many for them not to be true. She'd actually go into bars and tell them to get the taps turned so the customers could read them or she'd pull her beer out of their bar. They knew who yanked their balls and they'd cave. But, she'd be back worse than a bad headache and would check up on them.
More than one bar here's been shut over her. One downtown was serving her bottles in a Miller bucket and she yanked the bottles out of that bar. When the best leaves the house, the customers soon left too.”
“Oh man, whey the hell didn't she just give them buckets?”
“That wasn't good enough for her. I think she would have bitched if Miller bottles were seen in her buckets.”
“Well, I'm glad to say things aren't going to be like that now.”
“Well, do it as I said, and you'll have the only show in town as far as I'm concerned. You need to get that boy's name and get him hooked up.”
“What's the kid look like? Maybe I can do that without him knowing who I am.”
“Well, we have class photos and I think we have a file photo or two, but you're not working with damaged goods. The kids a nice looking kid.”
He went to a computer and typed in and then showed me photos. The kid looked familiar and I said, “He's been to my funeral home. I'm trying to think which funeral, but he's been there.”
“Well, then, you're not going to be an unfamiliar face. Just try the direct approach.”
“How old is he?”
“He's twenty, or twenty one? I might be able to look up his birth date here. Let me search archives for a birth announcement.”
“July 7th, 1986. So, that will make him 21. He's legal to drink daddy's beer.”
“Well, I'll see what I can do, what sports did he play in school.”
“Oh, let's see if the yearbook announcement would have it.”
“Yeah, there it is. Baseball and Soccer.”
“Ok, At least I know he's fit and skinny. You don't see many fat kids chasing a soccer ball.”
He laughed and said, “No, as I said, the kid's a nice looking kid. It's his mom died when he was young and he's had dad that just is an emotional shell. Have someone give the kid love and you've got the kid in the bag.”
“Ok, well, I've got plan now, let me see what I can run with.”
“Ok, you'll probably see the kid at the visitation. I know the old man will show for that..if not to see she's in the casket...and to size up the competition.”
“Ok, well, The family will be civil to him as they have no clue who he is as long as he keeps his mouth shut and doesn't say to Mitch, “Hey, I banged your old lady and she bought my business”, I know the kids will be civil.”
The guy smiled and said, “I don't know you, but I like you.”
“I like you too. Is it alright if I start calling you and getting obits put in your paper up here? I'd like for people to get used to seeing my obits because we're going to be building a funeral home up here.”
“Sure. When you start putting them in regularly and have a city business license, I can get you a cut rate. They don't give discounts for out of town businesses.”
“Ok, that's a deal. So, I can get a business license up here and they'll discount them for me? What does space run?”
“We don't sell it by the inch. We sell it by the section. You fill a section and I'll get you a discount for say a year on a half a page, it'd run you approximately twelve grand.
The deal is that if you don't use the space, we fill it with something which is going to probably not be in competition against you, but we'll run that routinely in the box for when your ads run short. My suggestion is you run your own chosen filler.”
“Ok, so if I have a friend who has a dog rescue mission and she has dogs, I can put a dog's photo and everything about it?”
“Yeah, that'd work, but, the deal is you can't do it everyday or even on say certain days. However, I can't tell you not to have slow funeral days. That'd be kind of like telling the weatherman not to have sunshiney days. It's going to happen and you'll be able to do what you want in that space.”
“Ok, It's good to have met you. Now, if I could get Ty back here, I'd be doing good. What time is it?”
“It's going on two o'clock. Where'd he go?”
“To the Ford dealer. He had a convertible, but that car was too much like Christine for my tastes. You'd be amazed at how that car made you look at life.”
“Really. Describe it?”
“Well, have you ever been on a buzz where the world was running at slow motion and everything was sort of meloncholy?”
“Well, that car did that to me. He had to wake my ass up three times.”
“Ooh, I hope he made it back there!”
“Yeah, he was ok, it was me that wasn't right in that car.”
“Yeah, that'd be a story. Do a follow up on that car and see what the people were like who rode in it. I bet I get them or some funeral home does.”
“Yeah, I don't like feeling that way. And what's strange is he loved that car and when he saw the way I was in it, he didn't bat an eye when I told him I wasn't riding home in it.”
“The boy loves you.”
“Yeah, how could you tell?”
“The way you look when you talk about him.”
“Well, the feeling's mutual, but that car isn't what I call a fun car.”
He nodded and said, “Guess what, your boy just pulled up in that White Thunderbird. He never even got a Mustang.”
“He loves me.”
“Well, it's nice meeting you Gene, I hope to stay in touch a lot.”
We shook hands and I trotted out the door.
He sat in the car and said, “Hon, there's not a choice in this one. The paperworks complete and you're not going to believe this, but when I pulled back up in that 'Stang, the guy came out and said, “You don't want the car, huh?
I told him no and he said, “We can't sell that car. People all say the same thing about it. So, he showed me this one and what I like about it is it's a convertible and it's a hard top. It's cool as the hood looks forever long, but it's not that long of a car.”
“A 'Vette looks that long too. The good thing about this is you don't have to guess where the end of the hood is like a 'vette.”
“You had a 'Vette?”
“Yeah, I had three of them when I was with Tony. I had an '82, an '84, and a '96. My favorite was the '96 as that motor was awesome and it had Banks twin turbos under the hood. You want to talk about scare you to death fast, that thing was awesome.”
He looked at me and said, “I could see you driving a 'Vette. What color?”
“It was Maroon. Beautiful color and it had the Bose sound system. That's why I went with Bose in the funeral home.”
He smiled and said, “You get a dreamy look in your eye when you describe the car.”
“Yeah, it was the first car I fell in love with. The others, were 'vettes, but nothing to write home about.
I think Tony knew so too as he would talk me out of them really fast. What's ironic was he drove his Hemi everywhere and no one could talk him out of it.
Me, he'd say, “Babe, let's trade your car.” and I'd be carrying the plates in my hand the next minute. When I got that Maroon 'Vette, he asked me to trade it and I said, “You trade the Hemi and I'll forget you asked me to trade this car.”
Ty smiled and said,” You liked it.”
“Yeah, it was the first car I think I really liked driving and felt good in. The others were just so-so.”
He looked at me and said, “I got the suits in the back, so all we have to do is drive home. You want to go across the bridge, or go home this side?”
“Go across the bridge, that four lane is safer.”
We drove along and the difference I felt in the 'Bird versus the 'Stang was amazing. Ty and I carried conversation nicely and he said, “You were scaring me in that other car. You don't realize it, but it was like you were on drugs.”
“Yeah, it was strange for me too. Now, I'd like to just leave that car behind and hope no one dies in it.”
“Well, that second time you zoned out and were talking about death, I was like, “oh no, I've got to get him out of this car.”
Then, I was talking about it too and that scared the shit out of me. Then, you zoned again and I was really feeling lost.
But, you know what? The whole time I drove it to the dealer to tell them I didn't want it, I felt perfectly fine.”
As we drove, he smiled and said, “Babe, you don't realize it, but I think in those moments, I realized how much I loved you. If you'd asked me to give that car up, I'd told you no way, but then when I saw the way it affected you, there was no choice in the matter. It was either you or the car and the car had to go.”
“Well, I told Gene the same thing basicly.”
“Did he like what you told him?”
“Yeah, he thinks it's going to get a lot of people to your mom's visitation.”
“Good. Did he say anything else?”
“Yeah, but do you really want to hear it?”
“He told me how your mom got that half of the distributorship.”
“What am I not going to like about it?”
“Well, she took advantage of the guy.”
“Well, imagine if you will someone coming in and sweet talking your dad and telling him all sorts of shit and having him think she loved him and telling him she'd give him the moon and the stars if he'll sell her half. Then, she gets half and then she delievered nightmares for the man.”
“Sounds like my mom.”
“Well, the man had lost a wife and your mom used that to get what she wanted. Now, here's what's strange about it. That guy, Gene, told me how to get the other half by using the guy's kid.”
“Yeah, get the kid laid and the father falls into line And, then get the kid to tell his dad to sell it and the dad will sell it.”
“That's bullshit. I say tell the guy we fucked up and then sell it back to him.”
“Well, my alternative is better.”
“Get the guy someone who actually loves him for him and you've got the win-win. You've got a business partner that's happy and you've got your dad happy and you've got two guys who can be buds.”
“Cool. So you got anyone in mind?”
“Well, the guy's got a son that's twenty one, so I'd say he's not much older than your dad. What I think is if we find someone who's anywhere around that age, we'll be doing good.”
“So, let me think because I know we've got single women in our family.”
“I doubt if he's going to immediately trust your family.”
“Well, is he a decent looking guy, or not?”
“I don't know. His son is do-able, but you certainly don't have worries there. But, who do you think would be for the son?”
“I don't know. It's not like I know a whole lot of gay guys. You probably know more than me.”
“Well, the one I know, I'm with, so I'm not giving you up.”
He smiled and said, “Well, I certainly hope not!”
We chuckled and I said, “Babe, you know, I'd really like to go home and just sleep.”
“Me too, but we've got that Press conference and we've got Mark and Jake coming home and the arcade later.”
“Oh man, that means another trip to Quincy.”
“Yeah, sorry hon, but tonight's going to be another late night.”
“I'd really like to be able to just snuggle with you.”
We pulled into town and drove on over to the distributorship. When we got there, we saw the Draft Horse already had it's black ribbon upon it. Mitch's truck was parked out front and he was pulling around a beer truck. I saw it and said, “Ty, we never ordered the replacement trucks for the larger trucks.”
“Yeah, I just thought of that myself. We'll have to see who leases them.”
“Well, Ford leases them, but I doubt if Dodge has big big trucks like that.”
“Well, we'll see what we can find. Maybe dad will know.”
We got out and Mitch smiled, “I see you got a 'Bird!”
“Yeah, the 'Stang had something wrong with it.”
“Yeah, Lance got really strange in it, so I took it back and then, we found out they had that problem with it numerous times.”
He looked at us strangely and said, “Like the car had a personality?”
“Yeah, and it wasn't a good one.”
He said, “Your mom and I had a car like that once. It was the damnedest thing. If I drove it, it'd drive down the highway and be perfect. But, if she got in it and rode shotgun, she began really getting strange on me. It'd be like she wasn't even there.”
Ty looked at me and said, “Dad, can I tell you something else?”
“I saw mom in that car and Lance said he saw her outside it when I was pulling it down that ramp.”
Mitch looked at us and I said, “Mitch, her hair was different and she was wearing a baby blue sweater and she had on these nice jeans which made her look hot and her hair was pulled back in a french twist.”
He smiled and said, “That's my Wendy. She was like that when we were at our happiest. Then, she got that job and things went south.”
“Mitch, what's strange is Heather and I were standing fifty feet away from the limo all by ourselves talking and Mark and Joan heard every word we said. You were standing near them and didn't hear a thing. Then, I got told almost exactly when Heather would have a baby and what it'd be and then I saw her.”
“Oh really? So, when they going to have a baby?”
“A year from Easter and it'll be a boy.”
“Good, that'll give me time to tone up and lose this weight so I can be a grandpa and not a dwarf.”
“Oh, when I lose the weight I'll feel I'm a hundred percent, but right now, I'm not there. I'm not going to pretend I'm not where I need to be.” He smiled and asked, “So, how'd the rest of your afternoon go?”
“Things went fine. We went and put the obituary in the paper up there and found they've already gotten one and they're also going to do a good one. Now, they also took the story about everything and they're running it page one tomorrow. So, the story will be out and it's going to be quite good.”
He looked at me strangely and said, “How can it be good if it's a hatchet job on our relationship?”
“Let's say I toned that part down and highlighted the misdeeds by everyone else. Everyone will be so interested in the juicy stuff, they'll forget about you in the mix.”
He laughed and said, “That I've got to read. Believe me, I wasn't forgotten in the mix when I was living it!”
“No, well, you'll see. Gene up there said he's going to print it word for word the way I said it and believe me, it'll be a good story if he does.”
He nodded and said, “I trust you. Well, the truck's where I want it and the horse looks good, so we'll have the camera over there and us standing there. They'll be able to see everything and we'll have the story we want out there. Well, come on in and we'll start searching through desks.”
We went in and the place just seemed sad and forlorn inside. The place really looked dated from the seventies and screamed for a remodel. I said, “Mitch, I've got to remodel this. This sucks.”
He smiled and said, “You've got a blank check when you want it.”
“No, I'll do it,, but just let me do it how I want. I'm getting a feel for the place now.”
We searched through desks and when we got to Randy's desk, I found a locked drawer. I told Mitch and he said, “How'd he lock it, they lock from the main lock up there?”
“I don't know, but get me a pry bar and I'll have it open in about five minutes.”
He left and about ten minutes later, he arrived with a pry bar. “Sorry, I have to find one. I found all sorts of things gone out there in the shop and that's really going to cost a lot to replace.”
“Well, lock the place up with different locks and no one can take anything else.”
He winked and said, “let me call a locksmith”
He left and I pried open the drawer. Inside I found all sorts of interesting items. I found a date book, calendars, photos, and a revolver.
also found a bank book and some stock certificates for a local
company. I looked at the date book and when I opened it, out fell all
sorts of bonds. The denominations were five and ten thousand.
Mitch came back in and I said, “Take the revolver and put it someplace you only know where it is. That thing shouldn't be in here.
Then, you'll need to take this and put them where someone won't run off with them, There's three hundred thousand there and these cards are debit cards that could have money on them or not. What I'd say is they have the pin and we don't. But, I'll tell you now, a pin is a four digit number. You punch in enough of them long enough and you'll find the one eventually.”
“He smiled and said, “So what one pin is, the others are most likely. Call the number on the card and I'll tell you what I think it is. Just try it and we'll see.”
I called the number and punched in the card's number. When we got to the number for the pin, I nodded and he said, “Twelve Twelve”
I looked at him and it told me, “Your balance is fifteen hundred dollars.”
“Fifteen hundred dollars on that one. Do you think they're all filled to the max on these?”
“Probably. She used her birthdate on them all, I bet.”
“Well, she did on that one.”
“Yeah and it's easy for her to remember. No one dared to forget it around her.”
I said, “What did you find in the other desks?”
“Well, none of the secretaries had much. Typical office stuff, but Rick's desk had a lot of very interesting photos. And, he had quite a bit of cash in it.”
“As much as we found here?”
“Well, if you count that he had stacks of bills filling a drawer in every denomination normal, then yeah, it's quite a bit. It's like he was a banker for Monopoly. Only he used real money.”
“Well, that might have been for payoffs and bribes.”
“Yeah, the way she did business Mitch was she really believed in intimidating the people who sold the product. I've heard more and believe me, you don't want to know what she did to that man over there in Quincy to get half of that one.”
“Well, sit down because she was true to fashion and manipulated the guy.”
So, I told Mitch the story. He listened and shook his head sadly.
“No wonder I never got told. She couldn't very well come home and tell me she'd bought half a guy's interest for screwing him, could she?”
“No, but the guy's in the same boat as you Mitch. He was trying to start life again and thought she was the one to give him what he needed.”
“Man, what a poor sap.”
“Yeah, and here's the thing, so I'll tell you what I know.”
“His son is gay too and the guy lost his wife. She went in and played him and then made his life a nightmare. So, the guy's going to be at the visitation and he'll be sizing you up as a competitor and he's planning on being a real horse's ass to you.
The guy who I talked with told me if you go in and check the books and let him run it and then hop back out, he'll not know how to deal with that.
He's planning on focusing his energy on being a horse's ass and if you do gorilla warfare on him and dodge in and out, he can't scuttle anything because you'll catch him on the accounting.
I'll tell you he won't do that because you can run him up for embezzlement and that's not in his game plan.
So, what I suggest is either doing it that way or going in and sitting down with him and saying, “Hey, we're in bed together and we were both screwed schnockers by the same lady and now, we've got frosted balls. So, my advice is we get along and pull ourselves out of it.
IF he doesn't play like that, then tell him a price three times what she paid and tell him that's what it'll take to buy you out. I'll almost tell you psychologically, he'll counter offer and tell you a price four times what she paid for you to get it from him. Decide if the price is fair and then fuck him raw by taking him up on the offer.”
Mitch smiled and said, “You know, I'll never play poker against you!”
I laughed and said, “Mitch, she might have been tough, but I bet she paid a fair price for it. I don't think the pussy made him so blind he lowballed himself.”
“No, she paid market for it. I've got the check in on the wall in her office with the business papers. It was like her trophy to herself.”
“What did she pay?”
“So, is it worth fifty million?”
“No, but it's worth twenty five million.”
“Think about it. Is it worth fifty million to you to get control of it and not have to argue with a man every damned day over what you want to do? I'm saying this slowly so you understand you're about to climb back in with your wife, but it's a man this time.”
He looked at me and said, “You're right. He'd fight me and that's what she'd do. Now, is it worth twice the rate to get it? Hmmm, well provided I have fifty million, it could be. It'd take ten years to break even.”
“Well, go ask your son in the other room if you can borrow fifty million and then invest it. He's got it and I think he'd gladly do it to see you're happy.”
Mitch looked at me and said, “That's a hell of a lot of change just to throw at someone.”
“It's a hell of a lot of change to sit on and watch someone make a huge fucking mistake. So, go ask him and when you see the dude, get controlling interest. If he doesn't play nice and chooses to try playing hard, then tell the fuck he's one dumb son of a bitch and tell him his worst nightmare just came true because you learned very well from her.
Then, scare him to death with that bit of knowledge. He might just think you taught her what she knew!”
Mitch looked at me and began chuckling, “Oh man, when you play poker, I'm not even going to be in the same gambling house as you. The crying will be too loud.”
He shook his head and then left the room. It wasn't five minutes later, Ty came into the room with Mitch and said, “Dad came to me and wants to borrow fifty million for the controlling interest in that one up there.”
“Yeah, I sent him to you.”
“Do you think I should?”
“Yeah, because if you don't, he'll be in bed with someone who's just like your mom.”
“That's what he said. He also said you gave him advice how to mess with the man's head and get it.”
“Yeah, I did.”
“Do you want to do that?”
“Ty, if all the nice stuff doesn't work and the guy wants to be a horse's ass, then kick the shit out of the horse and show him what the glue factory looks like. If he still wants to play in that same arena, make him think what he thought was awful is nothing compared to the hell you can do.”
“Oh man, and you told my dad this shit?”
“Yeah, because I meant it.”
“Man, you could have been best friends with my mom because she would have bowed to your demented ass.
Ok, dad, you've got the money. I just pray for that man's sake he takes the deal. If he doesn't, come back and we'll begin going psycho on him.
The first move will be to have Heather go in with that outfit on cracking a whip during business hours and have her stand on his desk. He'll realize shit's taken a turn for the worse and will come running to you begging for you to take it.”
Mitch laughed and said, “Son, you two together are terrible!”
“We're fun though!”
“From My Keyboard To Your Heart”,
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