The plane carrying Alex Morton touched down in Capitol City just after 9pm. He was on the plane only because his sister had sent him the ticket. Actually people didn't send tickets to each other, they purchased them on line. Then they mysteriously ended up at the ticket counter of the airline. After that Alex just showed his driver's license to get a boarding pass. He used that boarding pass to fly almost home.
Alex knew, from all the news stories, to pack light. He had two changes of underwear and a clean shirt in his small gym bag.
For him getting onto and off the airliner had been a simple thing. He even spoke too the stewardess as he left. "Thank you ma'am it was a pleasure," Alex said as he left the plane.
She smiled at him and said, "Thank you for flying US Air." Her voice sounded like a TV commercial.
Alex followed the line of other departing passengers into one of the tentacles of the octopus that the airlines called a terminal. He managed the long walk to the security gate without any problem. He also managed to make it through the crowd of people. The crowd was a bit intimidating. There were more people in that lobby than he had in seen during the last year, maybe longer.
Alex was one of nine vets who lived in a fishing camp located on a secluded lake in the interior of Maine. He was fortunate to have found something he could do which didn't require a great deal of interaction with people.
Alex had used the money from his savings, and his settlement with the government, to purchase one of the run down summer camp cabins. That cabin, like the others, had once been part of a church summer camp. After he bought his cabin someone had converted the dining hall into a summer fishing lodge. It was used only in the summer and then only by a few hardy souls.
His cabin was beautiful in the summer, but it was brutal in the winter months. He used an old coal stove to heat the place. The price of coal had come down some since the power plant's demand had decreased. Soon the coal mines would decrease production and he would be looking for a new fuel. At that time he would most likely put in a wood stove. Heat was a major concern when the temperature hit the negative numbers routinely in the winter.
Alex was brought back to the situation at hand, when he saw a young blond woman holding a sign which read, 'Welcome home Alex'.
When his sister recognized him, she rush to hug him. In doing so she came very close to knocking him off his foot.
Alex like a lot of his generation had lost a limb to an IED in Iraq. Since he had the last seven years to work out his moves, he managed to stay on his feet while hugging Lucy.
"God you are so fucking thin," she said.
"And here I thought I was just fit," he said laughing. "You still talk like a rebel I see."
"I'll try to keep it clean around you," Lucy promised.
"Probably a good idea, I shock easy," Alex said with a smile.
"So do you have a car here?" Alex asked.
"Give me your baggage check and we will go find it," she suggested.
"This is it," he said lifting the gym bag.
"Good, then lets go home," Lucy said.
"Home yeah," Alex said thoughtfully. They were in the car when Alex demanded, "So what about mom?"
"The end was better than anyone expected. We wouldn't let them do an autopsy. We knew for sure that she didn't want to suffer, and we didn't want that for her. She had a brain cancer, so the end was inevitable," Lucy explained.
"Why didn't I know," Alex said.
"Mom said you had enough on your mind and you couldn't help her die, so we should leave you alone." Lucy said defiantly.
"That's bullshit," Alex said.
"Bullshit yourself," Lucy said. "You didn't even come home after you left that hospital. Far as we knew you were living in an alley somewhere shooting up heroin."
"I might have been except I fell in with some people who pointed me in the right direction. I have been busy as hell being me. Just so you know, Mom knew where I was."
"I know she told me where to find the family papers. I was surprised when I found the name and address of that lodge."
"Let's pretend we are a normal family for this one weekend," Alex said.
"The memorial service is on Sunday, so that shouldn't be too hard," Lucy said. "Believe it or not, I do get it. Mom said you were off learning to be you again," Lucy suggested.
"Yeah, that's what I told her when I left the hospital," Alex said.
"Then you did talk to her?" Lucy asked.
"Of course I had to she was at the hospital. She wanted to do something for me. She never understood that it was never about money, it was about who I had become."
"Alex, did you know she owned Spruce Lodge," Lucy asked. "The lawyer hasn't read the will, but I'm sure she left it to you."
"I don't want it," Alex said.
"Maybe she donated it to the state or something," Lucy replied. "Maybe you could stay home this time."
"I don't intend to be here any longer than it takes to settle mom's affairs. You and Luther can do whatever you want and I'll go home."
"Luther and I have talked about it, but to be honest we don't know much about mom's holdings. I'm a dance instructor at the school of the arts, and Luther is a banker. We were hoping you would stay long enough for us to at least figure out what we had."
"Lucy, I have no idea what Mom where mom invested the money. After Dad died she took over his businesses, but she sold off a lot of them. I don't have a clue what she did with the money. Remember between the Army, the hospital, and searching for myself, I have been out of touch a long time.
"Just stay with us long enough to see what is what. We are going to need you for that," Lucy almost begged.
"Now that is real bullshit," Alex said.
"Okay, I need you around to keep Luther from bullying me," Lucy said.
"Lucille, I'm sure Mom took care of that. She knew Luther as well as anyone. Mom didn't believe in rose colored glasses." Alex said.
They drove for twenty more minutes just to get out of the Capitol City traffic patterns. After that they drove another ten minutes to get out of the suburbs. Finally they came to the country road that let to their mother's colonial revival style house. It had been purchased by their parents new in the fifties. The family had lived there ever since.
With Alex's mother passing, it would almost certainly change hands. It would just be more crap to dispose of, Alex imagined. Damn it, he thought, I have spent five years living in the Northwoods trying to get away from this shit. He hoped he could resist the temptations of the Mcdonald's lifestyle. It wasn't just about fast food, it was about fast and easy everything. That shit just didn't appeal to him anymore.
Alex lived by working as a fishing guide for the lodge in the summer and trapping fur in the winter. He felt that it was a life he could enjoy for a lot more years. He had learned to adapt even with his modern version of a pirate's peg leg.
When the two of them reached the portico of the house, he had to carry his own bag into the house. The servants all had be 'let go' with the passing of his mother. A classy way of saying Luther had fired them all. Alex had no idea how many there were. After Alex left the car Lucy drove it from the portico to the small parking lot at the rear of the house. Why she insisted he enter through the front he didn't know.
When he stepped through the door he quickly understood. There were a dozen of his high school friends awaiting him.
"Luther, what the hell is this?" Alex asked.
"These are your friends. They wanted to welcome you home," Luther replied.
"I'm not glad to see any of these people. I don't socialize these days," Alex informed him.
"Well you will have to tonight," he said. Lucy was right he was a bully.
Alex smiled then left the room without speaking to any of them. He climbed the stairs and found his way to his childhood bedroom. When he opened the door, it was like stepping back into time, or maybe opening a time capsule.
It was a teenage boy's room. His mom hadn't made any changes to it at all. To her he was still a high school kid, he supposed. He walked about for several minutes inspecting the remnants of his lost youth.
After that inspection he walked across the hall to the bathroom. He did his thing then inspected himself in the mirror. His hair was not long but it was ragged. His beard was short, but not stylishly so. In general he was a mess. Back in his room he was surprised by the small TV. It had been changed since his youth. He wondered why his mother would have done that.
He didn't even bother to turn it on. Instead he checked for the hollowed out book containing his stash of pot. Sure enough it was still there. He went back to the bathroom to flush the over ten year old pot down the toilet.
Then he went back to his room where he begin to read. He chose 'The Last Of The Mohicans' from his book shelf. As he read he ignored Luther's pounding on the door and shouting through it.
Finally he said, "Luther, if I come out there, I'm going to kick your banker's ass down those stairs. Then I'm going to throw everyone out of the house." That ended Luther's shouting and banging.
Alex read himself to sleep. When he awoke it was 5am and he was ravenous. He went down to the kitchen and found it kitchen empty for the most part. He wondered if anyone was really staying at the house over the weekend. He did find some instant oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon. He had to relearn how to operate the fancy microwave. He was sure that he had never seen one so complicated.
When he finished with it, the oatmeal was still pretty awful. He poured it into the trash and return to his search for food. Someone had brought some fancy sweat bread, so he had some of that with fake butter. He didn't feel bad about eating their bread, since it was the only food in the house.
Alex was sitting on the patio beside the pool when Lucy came down. "Did you eat all the sweet bread?" she asked.
"Guilty as charged," he said.
"It's okay, the look on Luther's face, when he came down those stair to face his guest, was worth all the bread in the bakery," Lucy said.
"So what is the plan for the family today?" Alex asked.
"There are no family plans as of yet. You need to buy a suit for the memorial service," Lucy said.
"I searched the house. Mom hadn't changed a thing. My old clothes are still hanging in the closet just like when I was a kid. I might have to cinch up a belt, but I expect I can manage with something from my closet," Alex said.
"Let's get Luther so we can all have breakfast, then we can see about getting you into something for mom's service," Lucy suggested staying with the buy him some new clothes plan.
"Surely you don't want me to wake Luther up?" Alex asked with a chuckle.
"After last night you are probably right," Lucy said. She took a cell phone out her holster, then dialed a number. A few seconds later she said, "Okay get dressed we are all going out to breakfast together."
"You two communicate on the cell phone even though you are inside the same house. That's just fucking strange," Alex said.
"Hell my friends and I send text messages across a room sometimes. I go to a lot of parties. Sometimes I don't want to say things out loud, so I text it." Lucy said.
"What kind of things," Alex asked.
"You know like 'Is her dress too tight or is she pregnant?'" Lucy replied with a laugh.
"You do know that wasn't very neighborly of you last night?" Luther asked of Alex, as he entered the room.
"Alex, we aren't in high school now. It isn't your job to shelter me or get me dates, just because I'm your kid brother. If I wanted to see those people, I could have arranged it. Now if you had held a wake for Mom, I would have stayed and played nice. A dinner party, or whatever you called that just two days before before her memorial service was a shitty idea," Alex said.
"Unless one of you wants to make coffee, let's get the fuck out of here," Lucy suggested to end the standoff.
"Could you clean up your language for the rest of the weekend?" Luther asked.
Alex stood and just walked out of the room. He walked to one of the two downstairs bathroom. They were bathrooms with no tub or showers.
This place would make a great bed and breakfast, he thought. Each of the five upstairs bedrooms has a bathroom. There are two half baths downstairs with a large dining room and a couple of other multi purpose rooms as well.
If Mom had gone through the money maybe one of them could run a B&B, but Alex doubted it. At the moment he just wanted to empty his bladder. Then go somewhere and drink a gallon of coffee.
Since he had eaten, Alex drank coffee and listen to the two of them argue. Lucy seemed to pick fights with Luther just to burn off calories. Luther might be a bully, but Lucy was no angel. She sure as hell didn't need Alex to protect her. She had really needed him as a child to protect her from her their older brother. Rich or not they shared a rough and tumble childhood. Alex couldn't remember if the family had always been rich, or if that happened later. Hell he had no idea how they made their money.
Alex had always said he didn't want the family money, but would he give in to the temptation of living in the state capitol. He was sure there was a ton of money in the family coffers. Since I have a life I enjoy, maybe not, he thought.
He had to admit it had been nice to sleep though without having to feed a fire in the middle of the night. Struggling into his peg leg had even been easier in the warm house.
"Did you get lost," Luther shouted from the front door.
"No, I was just reminiscing," Alex said as he approached them.
"I think you mean remembering. reminiscing is when you share a memory," Luther said.
"Whatever," Alex said with a smile. Even though he had been insulted he didn't care enough to make a fuss.
All three of them walked to the parking area in the rear. It was a thirty yard walk at least. Alex was glad that he was able to keep up with his peg leg and all.
Alex drank coffee while the two of them hurried through their breakfast. It was as if they were embarrassed to have him sit at the table without a plate of food in front of him. He rather enjoyed their discomfort.
Back at home he discovered that he had either been a chubby kid or he was sickly thin at the moment. His old clothes were far too large according to Lucy.
"I will not have you going to the service in that suit," Lucy said of his High School graduation outfit.
"I suppose, I could buy a new suit," he suggested.
"It will have to be an off the rack suit," Luther suggested. There is no time for any tailoring.
"I don't have a credit card and I didn't really bring a lot of money. It's also Saturday so I'm sure my bank is closed," Alex suggested. "Taking all that into consideration, which one of you wants to put a suit on the their card. I'll repay you when the bank opens Monday."
"Bullshit, call it payment for past due birthday presents," Lucy said.
Alex nodded. He hadn't sent presents either, so he should have argued with her. Since he knew there was no reasoning with Lucy, he just kept quiet.
Alex settled on the first suit he saw along with a shirt and tie. He just wanted to get out of the crowded mall. He and Lucy had stopped in a shoe store inside the mall for a pair of black shoes with laces. He hadn't worn anything like them since his army days.
They found a Walmart in the parking lot, where he bought a three pack of tee shirts and briefs.
That evening Lucy and Luther left him to visit their friends. Luther took no for an answer, after their previous encounter.
Alex lay on his bed watching some kind of wild Alaskan show and reading his book. The show was about living a subsistence lifestyle. The only thing out of place was that each of the 'real' characters had a snow mobile and all kinds of fancy shit.
They probably lived as close to a subsistence life style as he did. He bought only a little food at the store, but he did buy some. His government pension covered all his basic needs. He made enough money from trapping and being a fishing guide to pay for his boat, motor, snow mobile, and three wheeler. In that respect he was rich according to the Alaskans. He was certainly no subsistence hunter. He usually brought down a big game animal a season, but he could never depend completely on that to survive. There was also not enough fat on wild meat to make it tasty, so he cooked it using real lard. That was also something that was getting hard to find. He usually pounded hell out of the meat before cooking in order to make it tender enough to eat.
He thought about all that while he read his book and watched the fantasy reality TV show. Living in Maine he had gone hungry a few times. It only because he got snowed in. He never went hungry due to a shortage of game but sometimes it was impossible to get out to hunt.
Actually he ate the meat from the small animals he trapped, or shot during the winter, as well as the bigger game animals. In the summer he ate the fish which were still plentiful in the lake, thank God.
To be honest, after that first winter, he also had plenty of canned food. That first winter he had been snowed in for weeks at a time. Going hungry a few days made Alex realize that he just couldn't live off the land alone. So he began to stockpile non perishable food items for those times.
Alex ran a trap line of twenty traps. When his sister had the Sheriff track him down, the first thing he did was run the line and spring all the traps. He didn't kill just to kill, he thought.
When Lucy and Luther came home, Alex went down for a glass of water. He carried a tiny package with him. It was wrapped in a page from his book. "Since you bought me the clothes on your credit card, I got something for you sis," Alex said.
He handed Lucy a piece of paper with something wrapped inside.
"You didn't have to do this," she said even though she opened the paper as she said it. "Is this real?"
"It is, There isn't much gold left in the wilds of Maine. Certainly not enough to look for on a regular basis, but now and then I pan a creek. I found this one nugget a couple of years ago. I have no idea what it is worth.
"That is so sweet," Lucy said.
"You know dad taught us to pay our debts," he said.
Sunday morning was pretty much the same as the day before, except that by Sunday Alex had found the coffee. He used a large sauce pan to boil a pot of coffee. It was the mountain man way of making it, but it made the best coffee. At least that was his opinion.
In his cabin he would have strained it though an old piece of cloth. In his mother's kitchen, he used a funnel and paper coffee filter. He strained the whole pot at the same time, just as he did in the cabin.
After three cups of coffee, and two hours in the cold morning air sitting by the covered pool, Lucy showed up.
"How long have you been awake? Lucy asked.
"I think it was around six," Alex said.
"How early do you wake up at the cabin?" She asked.
I usually wake up with the sun, then stoke the fire and lay back down. After another hour I drag my sorry ass out of bed," Alex informed her. "During the winter In the north woods a lot of my life is about not freezing."
"That just doesn't sound like much fun with your leg and all," Lucy said.
"You know that's the first time you mentioned my leg, or lack of a leg," Alex said.
"It wasn't because I didn't know or care about it. It was just that it seemed like a bad idea to bring it up. You know, just in case you have PTSD. Lucy said.
"I have do have it. Most soldiers have it. The trick is to recognize when you are headed for an episode, and then think happy thoughts," he said with a laugh.
"I'm sure it's more complicated than that," she said.
"It is, but I live in a community of other vets. All of us are heavily armed and have episodes, so It's to our benefit to recognize the symptoms and deal with them early. But you know, when you struggle for survival in a harsh environment, there is less time to think about yourself or the past," Alex explained. "It makes it somehow easier."
"So about the leg, is it comfortable?" Lucy asked.
"No, but it makes life easier, so I deal with it. It takes a lot of planning to be an amputee," Alex said. "At least if you live my lifestyle."
"I can only imagine," Lucy said.
They spent a moment in silence, then Luther came onto the concrete patio.
"You two are up early," he said. "Lucy usually sleeps till noon after a night of partying."
"Maybe there wasn't a good party last night," Alex suggested trying to close the subject. It didn't seem to be appropriate to discuss parties at that moment. After all they would be attending a memorial service for his mother within a few hours.
Lucy recognized his motive and didn't rise to Luther's bait. "So you guys want to go out and eat breakfast again?" she asked.
"I'm game let me take a shower first, then I'll be right as rain," Alex said.
"I think I'll stay here and do some work. The office send me some overnight email. I need to look at before tomorrow." Luther said.
So breakfast was just Alex and Lucy. Since she allowed Alex to choose, he chose a roadside diner where back in the day his father had met his friends before golf.
"The place hasn't changed much, Alex said.
"I think the walls were a different shade of green when we were young," Lucy said.
"No they just have more smoke and grease on them now." Alex said with a laugh.
"You could be right. The food is still good. At least they still cook their eggs in grease. Even the scrambled eggs are greasy," Lucy said.
They returned home after the breakfast to pass the time until 1pm. The plan was to leave for the memorial service at one. It was being held at the wall where his father's ashes were interred. Alex really hated the memories the day was certain to drag up. It had already begun with breakfast at the diner on the side of the road.
Alex passed the time running his childhood through his mind like an old VHS tape. It, like an old tape, was filled with stops and starts as well as blank spaces. Still it did pass the time.
An hour before he service Lucy knocked on his door. "I'm not very good at this but I'm sure I'm better than the last person who cut your hair. I wish it were still a little damp from your shower but I suppose I can manage." She said with a smile.
Alex decided to humor her. His answer of "have at it," wasn't spoken with a lot of enthusiasm, but then again he had agreed.
After all the snipping he endured, he had to admit it did look better. After she left he changed from his heavy twill work pants to his fancy new suit. One of the really hard things was making store bought shoes fit over the ball at the end of his peg leg. Alex filled the toe of the shoe with a wash cloth to make it fit better.
The three of them were driven to the memorial garden by a big black limo. Alex was not happy about that. It brought back memories of his father's death.
Alex's father had a stroke when Alex was a junior in high school. He lingered at home for two years before he finally passed. Alex had a feeling it was why his mother didn't want to die a protracted death by having cancer eating her alive. Everyone had decided on a conspiracy of silence surrounding the details of her death. He was also good with that.
Those were his though as people droned on about his mother. Most of them were fellow business owners, or employees. Some of the country club set showed up to pay their respects. Alex wondered how much any of the people standing around really cared for the outspoken woman. His mother tended to stay clear of any entanglements after he husband passed, so she had few friends. Everyone thought of her as cold and calculating. Alex couldn't say they were wrong, since when he turned eighteen, she packed him off for college. He never returned home for more than a short visit after that. Even though he stopped for a visit on his deployment leave, on h is way to Iraq, it hadn't felt like home.
He was never the same after that deployment and he could never go home again and pretend that he was. His mother came to the lodge as a guest every summer for the entire five years he lived there. She always brought him a box of candy. She never knew he gave it away. Taking his mom fishing had been enjoyable. They spent hours alone on the lake. They never seemed to find the words to discuss his early life.
"Alexander, please come home and allow me to take care of you," she would beg at the end of the first couple of trips.
The visits became more enjoyable when she finally accepted that he wasn't going to come home. After that she kept him filled in on the other kids and even some of his old friends.
They learned to accept each other during those last three years. She even visited him the last summer of her life. He realized that it was her last summer. She was thin and looked like death. They had some private time to say goodbye before she went home to find a way to finish cleaning up her life. Then after Christmas that same year she passed. Alex had expected that it would have been even sooner.
One of the things that surprised him was that she clung to him before the lodge car carried her to the airport. They both knew it was the last time they would be together. The thing that surprised Alex was that she kept saying how sorry she was. Sorry that she hadn't there for him. She apologized, but made no excuses. Alex comforted her as best he could. Her saying that brought back some terrible memories.
The last of the speakers finished shortly after Alex shook his head to clear the memories. He tried to listen to the woman, who was a member of congress. Her final words were that Alex's mother would be missed.
Luther approach Alex after the memorial service. "Alex I know this sounds harsh, but you have made it obvious you don't want to be here, so I have arranged for the lawyer to meet us this afternoon." Luther said.
"Well, that's very efficient of you," Alex said sarcastically.
"Bullshit, don't try to make me feel guilty. You can't wait to get away from here, and I need to get back to work. Unlike you I have responsibilities."
Lucy had wandered up when she saw them arguing. Luther is right this time. You can stay as long as you like, but I need to get back," she said.
"Alright, I will do along with this, but I would never have done it this way," Alex agreed.
On the way to the limo Alex was stopped by a woman somewhere near his age. "Do you remember me. My name was Gina Sloane, and this little man is Eddie Sloane." she said obviously referring to a boy about seven or eight with her shocking red hair.
"Of course Gina how are you," Alex asked. "The little guy with you has to be your son."
"Can't mistake him for a neighbor kid can you," she said. "I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am about your mom. I didn't know her well, but she seemed like a nice woman. I do know she worried a lot about you,"
"Thank you Gina, I'm sure mom would have appreciated your good opinion of her." Lucy said in a cold voice.
Alex shot a seriously nasty look at his sister. "Thank you for coming Gina. You didn't have to. I know mom would have been happy to know that you remember her kindly."
The limo drove them home. They sat on the sun porch drinking coffee to pass the necessary half an hour before the meeting with the lawyer. The mood was combative, so mostly the three of them sat in silence.
"I'll driver," Luther said. "I have the larger car."
"Why don't we both drive," Lucy suggested.
"Fine, you always have to have your way," Luther replied.
"She's a woman. It's better to just give in and save your strength for the real battle," Alex suggested.
"Since you have the big car, I'll ride with you Luther," Alex said.
"Sure," Luther replied.
"Are you sure you don't want to ride with us?" Alex asked. "You can have shotgun."
"Oh hell alright. I'm only doing this because Luther is such a lousy driver. Someone has to tell him what to do, or he will kill you both..."
"Screw you Lucy," Luther said.
"Oh my, now you do not want to go there," Lucy said sharply.
For the first time Alex cataloged Lucy's appearance. She was about five and a half feet tall, and she was also dancer thin. Looking at her objectively she was very close to being very attractive. If she wasn't his sister, Alex would have dated her.
"Do I pass inspection?" she asked. She had obviously caught Alex checking her out.
"But of course," Alex said. "You could probably use a bigger set of boobs."
"Dancers don't have big boob hon," Lucy said.
"Then I suppose you are perfect," Luther said with a chuckle.
"Enough of this not so friendly banter, let's go," Lucy said.
Since his front door was locked, they waited for the lawyer in his parking lot. He was part of a larger firm who occupied a complete building in an office park.
"You must be the Morton family, I'm Thomas Wilson. I represent your mother's estate." the older man suggested.
"I'm Luther, this is my sister Lucy, and the skinny guy there is my younger brother Alex."
"Well come on in and we can take care of this," he said. "I can make some coffee if you like. It comes in those per-measured packs, so not even I can mess it up," Thomas said.
Luther started to say don't bother but Alex said, "Sure that would be fine. Lucy there is an expert coffee maker. Why don't we let her do the honors."
Lucy gave Alex a hard look but she said, "Sure I can handle one of these."
Alex could tell that the delay was making Luther crazy. Lucy appeared to think that Luther's discomfort was payment enough for her coffee making service.
"Can we get started now?" Luther asked when everyone had a cup of coffee.
"Sure," the lawyer said. "So do you want the full 'here to' and 'forth with' reading or will a simple explanation of the terms do?"
"Give us anything Mom wanted to tell us first," Alex suggested. "It wouldn't be like her not to have the last word."
"Good," The lawyer said. "There is one paragraph she wrote herself.
Since I believe people should know where their food comes from and none of you with the exception of Alex, who knows all too well where his food comes from these days, I decided this was a good time for you to learn. So some of the provisions in my will might sound strange, but trust me I have given them all serious thought. So please remember I love you all, and am trying to make you better people."
"What is that all about," Lucy asked.
"It's about you working at the business that your mom and dad built," The lawyer said.
"It's nice that mom wanted us to know what she did, but I have a career and can't just pack my tent start working in the family business." Lucy said.
"That is up to you. The alternative to you kids working in your mother's company, is to have it all sold. Sold for whatever it will bring on the open market. The proceeds are to be donated to the a charity for the aid of wounded veterans. I help with those things the Government won't provide.
"That doesn't include our trust fund from dad does it," Lucy asked.
"Lucy there was never any trust fund. Mom just subsidized your life. You were working at something you loved, and weren't any trouble to her, so she sent you the checks," Luther said. "Do I lose control of the investment portfolio, if I don't take over the business?"
"Yes and no, the investment portfolio is gone as of 9am tomorrow. Also you wont be taking over the business. You see your mother felt that Alexander was the only one of you who understood how it all worked," Thomas said.
"That's ridiculous, he knows nothing about investments," Luther said.
"When you go to work tomorrow you will find an order on your desk to liquidate the investment portfolio of your family. The business has operating capital but the Investment portfolio is to be sold and the total proceeds will go to a foundation for disabled veterans. If you fight that you will lose, and the bad publicity will follow you into the family business." Thomas said.
"You are going to have to let one of the others run the company, I'm headed back to Maine on tomorrow's plane," Alex stated emphatically.
"That is certainly your right. However if you do, or if any of you refuse to participate in the business, I am authorized to liquidate everything and make the donations. You will not get another penny from the estate. Your mother was most adamant."
Alex's first reaction was Thomas had to be kidding. The second reaction was what do I care if they have to earn their own way in the world. It was probably what his mother was hoping he would do.
"Your mom said to give you 48hrs to decide. So Tuesday by close of business I will expect a decision." The lawyer advised them.
"I want a copy of that will. I'm going to have my own attorney look it over," Luther said.
"Sir is there an outline of the business. I'm afraid we know nothing about it. Which is probably why mother wanted us to find out?" Lucy asked.
"What about you Alex," Luther asked. "You are going to stay till we get it worked out, aren't you?"
'Why should I," Alex asked.
"You heard him, If we aren't all involved in the company, we lose everything." Luther said.
"Luther none of us need the money. You keep telling everyone how successful you are. You will be fine," Alex said.
It isn't that simple. Most of the money I managed was Mom and Dad's. If the liquidate order can't be stopped, I am screwed."
"I sure as hell can't live on the salary as a part time dance instructor, Lucy said.
"I have absolutely not desire to live here again," Alex said.
"I realize that, but you can't let us down, after all we are family. Please save us all." Lucy begged.
"We have forty-eight hours, I'll give Luther and his lawyer a chance to work something out," Alex said
"Just so you know, Mom told me she bought the lodge to be sure you always had some backup. If they liquidate our holdings the lodge goes. The new owner could be hot to get rid of those crazy vets. You might own your cabin but I'm not so sure about those other guys," Luther said.
"Like I said, I'll give your lawyers a chance," Alex said.
After Luther left to call his lawyer at home, Alex asked, "Did you find it strange that Luther didn't bring his family?"
"Jessica and Luther only stayed married because momma wanted access to the grand kids. They probably have the divorce papers in the lawyer's office now. As for Luther's lawyer breaking the conditions of the will, it ain't gonna happen. Momma wouldn't buy a stamp till she researched it to death. Thomas might look like a country lawyer, but he is going to be the best lawyer money can buy."
"Well Lucy, I guess I better go buy some more clothes, since it looks as though I will be here a week or so longer. I will not be here any longer than that."
Alex was a patient man. You learn that living in the Northwoods. Should he be away more than a week or two he would have to arrange to give his food to one of the other Vets. He didn't want it to go to waste.
Alex knew that Lucy and Luther had whispered conferences all Sunday night. Each time he went downstairs to pick up another cup of bad coffee, made in the Mr. Coffee type brew machine, they stopped talking all together. He knew they were plotting but there was nothing he wanted to do about it.
Luther had come back from his lawyer's office Sunday evening with what he considered bad news. His lawyer said there was no time to stop the liquidation order. His mother had been of sound mind at the time made the decision, so it was going to stick.
Not to mention the lawyer advised him that he would have to have all the people named in the will sign on to the suit and agree to assume the liability for the law suit. In other words, he was likely to lose, he would be responsible for all the heavy cost of the law suit. Even worse for him, he would need Alexander and Lucille to sign on to the action. He knew why his mother had decided to make the donation to Wounded Warriors. He knew that Alex would never object to it.
While he and Lucille spoke quietly for the most part, one of both of them could be heard raising their voice now and then. Alex ignored them as best he could. He was beginning to be get a little paranoid though.
Alex started his day Monday by making coffee in a sauce pan. He made only four cups, since he knew the others were fine with the brew master type machine's swill. He chose to put on his down filled coat to sit by the pool again. The sun was barely above the horizon, but Alex had learned to accept the cold air, at least for a bit. Without doing some real work to raise his core temperature, he was risking hypothermia but he knew when to go inside.
That morning he made it about half an hour, but he couldn't stay out long enough for the sun to came up. The sun would have made it almost pleasant. He knew that it would likely be in the single digits in Maine's Northwoods that morning.
Alex sat in the glassed walled sun room with just a minimal amount of heat, while he watched for any signs of wildlife. He missed the forest critters already. He was still looking out of the one hundred and eighty degree glass panels when he heard the front door open and close. He wondered which of the siblings was out so early on a Monday morning.
"So was that Luther going out, or you coming home?" he asked Lucy as a joke.
"It was Luther. He went into the office to face the consequences of Mother's liquidation order. I told him that he better not skim any, since the lawyer mom hired was for sure going to check. He will get a fee since he is doing the liquidating." Lucy said.
"Luther is smart enough to find a way to get his share and more. When you get him alone, tell him not to ever let me find out that he took money from injured soldiers," Alex said.
"I already told him that. It will be hard for him to do any skimming, but like you said I trust him to find a way," Lucy agreed. "So what have you decided."
"I have decided that if I only stay a week, I need more clothes and the banks will be open in an hour. I can find a branch of the bank that has my pension account, so I can pay for my own stuff this time," Alex replied. "So do you have a class this morning?"