Ok it was like this I needed furniture for my dorm room such as a comfort chair or maybe a futon or something like that. Hell even a better mattress for the bed would be nice. However I am your typical first year college student. I'm broke all the time. So when I was heading home to my parents' house (Just so they could feed me on the weekend) I noticed a sign that said "estate auction today." Well that sign had an arrow pointing down a cross road of the state highway I was on. I thought to myself that maybe that would be a good opportunity to get a cheap chair. Hell it was an estate auction and things like furniture normally go cheap at them. I decided that I should check it out. Who knows after all what I could pick up with an extra 100 bucks in my pocket? The fact that I, your typical broke college student actually had a 100 bucks in my pocket was only because had gotten the balance of my grant check from the collage the day before. That is, I got the balance of my grant money that I hadn't spent on book and tuition. Actually it was 107 dollars all together. Well let me tell you 107 dollars is not a lot of money to someone that has to live on $10 a week. It was a good thing the dorms cafeteria was paid up front for the semester. That's why I was going home for the weekend in the first place. It was actually cheaper to let mom and dad feed me then do so myself over the weekends. That and I am sure they wanted to see me and see how I was doing.
So I followed the signs. At first I wasn't sure I was in the right place. I mean there were only 20 or so cars there. However the sign said the auction would start at 10am. When I asked a man standing in the driveway he assured me that I was in the right place. Then he offered to park my car for me. Great valet service at an auction. Maybe I should just turn around and head home. Obviously things were going to be selling for more than I had money for. Before I could decide however the valet suggested I should go and register if I wanted to bid and head into the back yard were the auction was taking place. After all he said the auction would begin in less the 10 minutes. Well despite my misgivings I handed the man my keys and found the registrar.
The registrar was an elderly lady with a big grin. She asked for my driver's license and took down my personal information. Then she handed me a white card with my bidding number printed on the front in gold numbers. I looked at the card and relished that I had the number 17 on it. Since the stack of cards under the one she handed me had the number 18 on it I realized that there were only 17 people registered for this auction. I thought that was a rather low number of people for an auction. Being young I decided to ask her about that. The old woman looked at me with that smile of hers and said, "Well it is an unusual auction son, and you see it was not in the paper because of the short notice." She paused and then went on, "I guess I had better explain the way Mr. Alright has set this auction up. All the eligible attendees are given $2000 for this auction. You can't use your own money and everyone has to start with the same amount."
I looked at her with an uncomprehending look.
She just grinned, "You have a 2000 dollars credit to bid with as a gift. Then again so does all the rest of the eligible family members. The point being that no bidder has more than 2 grand to bid with."
I shook my head to clear it. I mean I thought I understood what she was saying. I just couldn't believe it. It sounded more like I had walked into the asset distribution of a will rather than an auction.
She smiled, "Go take a seat son, the late Mr. Wilson's attorney will explain everything before the auction begins."
I was still a bit in shock however I did as the old lady suggested and stepped around the corner of the house. As I stepped into the back yard I realized that it was more than just a house. It was a mansion, and a very opulent mansion at that. Hell the place even had a pool house next to a rather large swimming pool set to the back of the property. At least I assumed it was the back of the property. It was after all about 3000 feet back from the mansion.
I made my way to the back to the seating area still dazed by the size of this place. There were only like thirty people back there, worse for me the hostile looks on their faces made one want to get the heck out of Dodge. I guessed that the relatives were not happy to see an interloper at the auction. The old codger apparently set his will up in such a way that they had to bid on his personal items that they wanted. Given that everyone had a fixed amount of money to use, well I guessed I could understand them not being happy that I was here. Apparently that was why there was no advertising other than the signs required by law. Somehow the relatives had fixed the auction in such a way as to keep the number of attendees to a minimum. Given that I was on the same footing financially for this auction as they were I could understand their feelings.
The auctioneer stepped up to the podium and began to explain the special auction was being held on behalf of the estate of the late James Wilson. And for the benefit of the non-family member on the biding floor (That being me of course) the maximum anyone was allowed to spend all totaled was 2000 dollars. The family members looked at me with daggers in their eyes. The auctioneer turned the floor over to the late Mr. Wilson's Attorney.
"I am pleased to see that the minimum terms of his will that at least one non family member be present for today's asset auction have been met. According to the terms of the late Mr. Wilson each registered person for this auction will receive the maxim tax free inheritance amount of $2000.00 to be used as each sees fit. The remaining assets, to include property, investments and business as well as personal items are to be sold at today's auction. As most of you are familiar with Mr. Wilson's dislike of the government and taxes. Each portion of the estate for the purposes of taxes of course will only be obligated to pay that which the government is entitled to after a fair public auction. In other words he found a way to keep the government from taxing him after his death." There were chuckles all around at this statement. However the lawyer continued, "To insure that each item sells a number will be drawn at random beforehand and the one dollar bid will automatically be assessed to the individual with that number. With that in mind the hat please."
The auctioneer brought forth a hat and the lawyer reached in and drew the first number.
"And the lucky number is 17! Your automatic bid of one dollar is entered on the first Item."
I was still trying to figure out if that meant to me. There were a few cat calls from the relatives as the lawyer gave the microphone back to the auctioneer who in turn revealed the first item up for auction. It was an oil portrait of the late Mr. Wilson when he was about 30 years old. It was a rather large oil painting actually. I relaxed some expecting one of his relatives would out bid my automatic bid as soon as the actual auction got started. I mean come on I didn't know the man from Adam.
The auctioneer began his description of the oil painting and explained that the painting of Mr. Wilson was commissioned back in 1948 by a local artist of some renown. I relaxed some; after all I was sure the painting was worth a few thousand if for no other reason than because of artist that painted it. Surely a family member would want to have it.
The auctioneer started to call out "Do I have anyone who will give me two?" This went on for a bit and this seemed to fluster the auctioneer some.
I looked around at the family members; they were laughing at me. Obviously they thought it some great cosmic joke that the stranger among them was going win the painting. None of them bid on it to that end. Somehow I didn't think much of this family.
"Very well then $1.00 going once, going twice and sold to number 17."
I was upset to say the least. Just imagine a family that wouldn't even want a valuable painting of one of their relatives. To make matters worse the family started to laugh and point at me. Well until the auctioneer announced that this concluded today's auction.
Needless to say the relatives were on their feet screaming then. The lawyer walked back to the podium and spoke into it, "The final terms of the will are complete, and the entire estate transfers to the winning bidder number 17."
There were more cries from the outraged relatives. Frankly I was trying to figure out what was going on. That's when the lady that registered me came up and whisked me away. I could hear the relatives screaming and promising to contest the will as she lead me inside and out of their sight. I did hear the lawyer sayings something about the family should have had a clue but it was now too late.
"What just happened?" I asked her.
She smiled, "You won the auction young man."
"I know that but why is the auction over?" I asked.
"Because the terms of the will stated that whoever won the auction on the painting was to inherit everything."
"Mr. Gilford can probably explain it better, but the house, property and everything that was the late Mr. Wilsons now belongs to you."
"I don't understand."
Mr. Gilford walked in just then. "Ah there you are, thank god you haven't left yet there is a lot we have to go over and I hated having to waste my time with the jackals outside."
"What just happened?" I asked.
.... There is more of this story ...