“The Inheritance” Pt. 01

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I didn’t recognize the number but the voice on the other end of the line was unmistakable.

“Hey, Tim, it’s me.”

“What do you want?”

“Listen, don’t give me a bunch of bullshit — I’m just calling to tell you Dad died.”

When I didn’t reply, my brother cleared his throat and continued: “Anyway, I know you don’t care. But you need to come to Naperville.”

I snorted. “Fuck that, I’m not going to that asshole’s funeral after the way he treated Amber and the twins. The way all of you treated them.”

Bob huffed into the receiver. “Ugh, could you not talk about them? Things are bad enough without having to hear about that miserable cunt and her little–“

A pained squeak escaped my throat. “Come on, man, that’s my wife and …”

“And what? Your kids?” My brother scoffed. “Those aren’t your kids, Tim — or didn’t you notice there’s not exactly a family resemblance? I hear everyone else in the delivery room sure as hell did.”

“Why you got to say shit like that, Bob? What the fuck? Why can’t you just accept them? They didn’t do anything wrong. And if I can forgive Amber, why can’t you?”

“Whatever, man. I didn’t call to hear all that bullshit again, and I’m not calling about the goddamn funeral, either. Believe me, nobody wants you there. I’m calling because you need to come out here and sign these goddamn papers so we can get this shit over with.”

“Papers? What papers?”

“Mom’s estate. Congratulations, dickhead, you’re getting your half.”

I blinked. “Bullshit. Dad cut me out after Mom died.”

“No, that’s what he told you. Turns out, Mom had it put in the will that the terms couldn’t be changed, and that after Dad died, you’d get your half no matter what. I guess when she found out Tina and me couldn’t give her any grandkids, she wanted to make sure your wife’s little darlings wouldn’t have to rely on the United Negro College Fund when they grew up.”

“Fuck you, Bob, you’re a racist piece of shit.”

“Fuck you, asshole. Listen, I don’t want to have to deal with this shit any more than you do, but you need to get out here and sign so we can be done with it and move on. I don’t know why, but Mom took your side after that lying, greedy cunt–“

“Stop calling her that.”

“Well, what else should I call someone who embarrassed you like that? Embarrassed the whole family like that?”

“Like I told you, Dad, and everyone else: if I can deal with it, so can you.”

“Fuck that. I don’t want to ‘deal with it.’ Just because you’re a sap who doesn’t mind being walked on and having everyone laugh at you, that doesn’t bursa escort mean the rest of the family has to put up with the gold-digging, cheating little cunt — and you can raise some other asshole’s kids if you want to, but they shouldn’t be getting anywhere near Mom’s money.”

I ignored the barb. “Why can’t you just FedEx everything? I’ll pay. I don’t need to drive all the way out there to sign some damned papers; I can do that here.”

“No. It all needs to be witnessed by the estate attorney. And we need to get this shit done before the funeral, too, so you need to get your ass out here by Friday.”

I gritted my teeth. “Fuck.”

After a moment, my brother sighed. “Okay, just let me know what day you’re coming so I can set it up with the lawyer. And Tim?”

“What?”

“Please don’t bring them with you. I’m serious.”

I hung up.

For a moment I considered calling Amber to share the news but decided to wait until she got home. This development was certainly a life-changing paradigm shift, but Amber was out shopping, and her standing order was that I refrain from interrupting retail therapy unless it was an absolute emergency.

Clutching the phone to my chest, I huddled on the couch for a good half-hour, scenarios shooting through my brain like Lamborghinis on the Autobahn. My mom’s estate was worth millions. I was about to be rich. I smiled when I realized I’d be able to quit my second job flipping burgers, and maybe even resign from the warehouse — and then I slumped, realizing that decision wasn’t up to me. It would be Amber’s call.

The ringer sounded again, piercing my thoughts, startling me. This time the number was familiar, as was the female operator’s recorded voice:

“You have a collect call from an inmate in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Press 1 to accept the charges.”

I gulped and touched the key. There was a beep, followed by Hakim’s baritone:

“Hey, there, Timmy. Where’s my baby girl?”

“Um, … um, she went shopping. She left about two hours ago, but she didn’t say when she would be back.”

I heard him smack his lips. “Fuck. How about the twins?”

“They’re up in their room watching TV.”

“Put them on the phone.”

“Uh, just a sec.”

I dashed upstairs to the kids’ bedroom, where Leesa and Shanice were relaxed on their respective mattresses watching Nickelodeon.

I cleared my throat. “Uh, guys, your father’s on the phone.”

Shanice held out her hand and I passed her the receiver. She then snapped her fingers and pointed to her empty glass. I got the bursa escort bayan message and gathered her glass along with her sister’s and darted downstairs to fetch refills.

When I returned with fresh juice, Leesa had the phone and was bragging to her father that she had just gotten an A in third-grade math. After chatting for a few minutes, she pulled the phone from her ear and presented it to me.

“Daddy wants to talk to you.”

I took the receiver.

“Um … hey, what’s up?”

“I went to the canteen yesterday and it said there was only $17 in my bank. Why the hell isn’t the whole $50 in there?”

“Um, I added the money first thing Monday.”

Hakim scoffed. “Well, call those motherfuckers and find out what happened.”

“I swear, I added the money first thing Monday morning, just like I do every week. I’ll call the prison liaison office first thing in the morning and find out what’s causing the delay.”

“Do that. And tell my baby I called.”

My ears got hot. “Um … okay, will do.”

He hung up.

Shanice scowled at me. “Why are you standing there blocking the TV?”

I jumped aside. “S-sorry.”

She shook her head. “I want chips, Tim.”

“Doritos for me,” Leesa chimed in.

I was filling the girls’ snack bowls when I heard the front door open and the click of heels on the foyer tile. Wiping my hands on my pantlegs, I scurried toward the living room to greet my wife.

She strode into the room, dropping her purse on the carpet. I shivered at the sight of her. After 11 years of marriage, Amber still quite literally takes my breath away.

She jerked her thumb. “Get the bags out of the car, Tim, but bring me a Chardonnay first.”

I scooped up her purse and set it on the counter. “Um … Amber? I … I have some news … it’s pretty … um … it’s … uh …”

My wife frowned. “Jeez, spit it out, already, and bring me my wine.”

“Well, um … my dad died, and–“

“Good,” she cut me off. “May he rot in hell.”

“I know. But, um … Bob just called and told me I’m getting … uh, we’re getting half my mom’s estate.”

My wife gasped. “What? I thought Asshole cut you out.”

“I did, too, but Bob said my mom wrote it so that it couldn’t be changed. So, I get half. Dad lied, apparently.”

Amber sank onto the couch, a faraway look in her eye. I stood a few feet away, keeping quiet the way she prefers.

The silence was pierced by Shanice’s yell from upstairs: “Tim! What are you doing? Where’s my chips?”

I looked at my wife. “Be right back, okay? I’m gonna escort bursa take the girls some chips.”

Amber shook her head. “No, I’m taking them out to dinner. Go tell them to get ready.”

“Uh, okay. Did … did you want your wine first?”

“No, I changed my mind. I’ll have a glass at the restaurant. I want to go out and celebrate this inheritance news with my daughters.”

I felt a wave of shame as I realized I wasn’t going to be included in this celebration dinner, even though my family’s inheritance was the reason they were going out in the first place. Whenever Amber mentioned doing something with “my daughters,” it was understood that meant without me.

As usual, though, I gave my wife no backtalk, instead turning on my heel to obey her.

When I entered the twins’ room, they glared.

“Where’s my chips?” Shanice demanded.

“I’m sorry, but your mom’s home and she said you need to get ready; she’s taking you guys out to dinner.”

Neither twin acknowledged me but they immediately roused themselves. I collected their half-empty glasses and picked up their discarded socks before heading back downstairs.

Amber was still on the couch, deep in thought. She looked up when I entered the room.

“So, how much is in there? The estate?”

I scratched my head. “If I remember correctly, it should be at least $5 million, depending on investments and other things.”

“And when do you get it?”

I shrugged. “I’m not sure how it works. I need to go to Naperville before Friday to sign all the papers. Bob said they can’t FedEx them; the lawyer needs to witness it.”

“Oh, they got a lawyer?” My wife’s eyes narrowed. “Well, then, we need to get our own lawyer.”

“Um … Amber, is that even necessary? Bob and I each get half of everything; it’s cut-and-dry, and I–“

“I don’t want to hear it, Tim. You’re a patsy and my job is to make sure those prejudiced assholes in your family don’t fuck us over. Now, that’s all I want to hear about it.”

I swallowed. “O-okay, Amber, I’ll contact some attorneys.”

She thought about it for a second and shook her head. “No. I’ll ask Hakim who we should get.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you he called while you were out.”

“Did you tell him about the money?”

“No, he hung up before I got the chance.”

Amber pursed her lips. “I need to talk to him,” she said. “He’ll know how to handle all this.”

I bowed my head and kept my mouth shut.

The twins skipped down the stairs, snapping both Amber and me out of our thoughts. My wife stood up and hugged her daughters.

“We’re going someplace fancy tonight, girls,” Mommy said. “I’ve got some really good news.”

“What?” the twins squealed.

“I’ll tell you at dinner. Let’s go.”

Amber and the girls waltzed out of the house without a backward glance my way.

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