The Will

The Will

A Story by Georgina V Solly
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An elderly man dies, and his family is desperate to hear his Will.

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THE WILL

 

At the end of the highest shelf of the bookcase in grandfather’s study there had always been the lamp. It was quite large and it had been modelled on a bunch of grapes. The long curved stalk was made of dark brown metal. Three clusters of transparent light green grapes hung from it. When it was switched on the light it gave out was unearthly. As it had been in its place since they were children, Gregory’s children and grandchildren never even noticed it or paid it any attention.

Gregory was a patriarch, a father figure and a complete tyrant. His rules were the only ones allowed, and he had to be obeyed. With the passing of time he became more and more tyrannical. He gave his son Anthony limited responsibility, and to his daughter Lorena no responsibility at all. His granddaughters, Blanche and Helen, he treated as if they were still babies instead of young adolescents. The only people who had been able to do anything with him had been his mother and his late wife, Dorothy.

The family business was that of making school uniforms for the whole area, which were then sold to the department stores and to the schools themselves. It was an old business, but secure. There had been some lean years when the state schools had opted for the children to wear what they wanted, but this had proved to be an absolute disaster and the children became scruffier and scruffier. The private schools had maintained the school uniform tradition and they had kept Gregory and his family from selling up. Now that the government had decided that all schools had to have a uniform, Gregory and family suddenly found themselves nearer the top of the tree financially. Anthony wanted to be left more in charge of the factory, but for Gregory this was unheard of.

“I’m the head of this family and the business, and there’s only one voice to be heard and that’s mine. There’s no argument. If life has been so bad to you, why have you stayed around for so long?”

Anthony remained silent. He hated his father, but he came and went as he pleased. After his wife had left him alone with two small daughters, to run off with a nicer man, Anthony had still hung on at home, waiting for the day when the business would be his.

Lorena, his sister, had gone away for some time but eventually had returned home when the going became too rough for her to handle. She had not much love for her father either.

Blanche and Helen, Anthony’s daughters, were basically good girls and never gave many problems. The only bright spark in their lives was when they were at school or hanging out with their friends. They adored their father, but they kept out of his way. If they wanted anything they asked him, but as they had had no maternal affection they had become independent at an earlier age than most young people. They lead lives that were not hard, the only downside being the overbearing authority of their grandfather.

 

As a young man Gregory had been a despot with the people who worked for him. He was a fanatical boss and expected his workers to kowtow to his every whim. He had made friends with a  man of a similar age called Vincent. Both men were like bookends, they complimented each other. Now after the passing of so many years their association was wearing rather thin, especially on Vincent’s part. In the past Gregory had had no scruples where business was concerned, and if someone in the competition began to get ahead Gregory would make an effort to buy him out. If the person in question was not willing to sell out to Gregory, then Vincent was called in to make sure that he did or that his business disappeared. Vincent was a past master in setting fire to factories or causing accidents. Gregory called him ‘the persuader’. The majority in the competition had now either left to set up business elsewhere or closed down. Life was now much quieter for Gregory.

 

What he didn’t know was that Anthony and Vincent both wanted out of the situation and to be free and independent of Gregory. “Have you got any ideas on how to get away from my father without his realising what we are up to?” asked Anthony.

“Well, I’ll have to think about it. I’ve worked with him for a long time and, to be quite honest, I think he’s getting worse and worse. The way he talks to everyone, even me, is just too bad. Blanche and Helen are good girls but he seems to see them as possible sources of danger now that they are growing up. They’re not even allowed to go out with boys unless he approves of them.”

The two men were sitting at a table in a nearby bar. They never strayed far away from the factory in case Gregory called for them unexpectedly. That they were up to no good was evident from their body language. Their heads too close together and they spoke with lowered voices. Far back in their youths, Gregory and Vincent had behaved in ways that they would certainly not like anyone else to know about. The biggest problem was that Gregory had always been in the demanding part of the partnership and Vincent in the subservient one. Now, as things were changing, Gregory was getting worse and worse, and Vincent was loosening the ties between them.

 

Destiny gave the two plotters and planners a helping hand. Gregory fell ill. He was found by his daughter Lorena, half-sitting and half-lying on the sofa in his drawing-room. She saw that her father was in a bad way and screamed out for help, “Help! Help! Dad’s not well!.” Her brother and Vincent ran to be with her. They saw Gregory prostrate on the sofa and Anthony rang for an ambulance. Meanwhile they stood staring down at him, not sure what to do. Lorena began to cry, “Dad, say something. Please.”

“Don’t be daft, can’t you see he’s had a stroke or something similar,” her brother shouted at her.

Vincent stood by and, as he gazed down at his old partner and associate, he began to think about what would happen to him if Gregory should die.

The ambulance came with a paramedic on board. Gregory was attached to a breathing apparatus and then placed on a stretcher and put carefully into the ambulance. Anthony and Lorena went in the ambulance with him, Vincent drove his own car behind them. Blanche and Helen stayed behind upstairs in their bedroom, wondering what was going on.

 

Inside the hospital Gregory was taken for a scan to find out what was actually wrong with him, and what the cause was. The only thing lively in his face were his eyes, and they were continuously shooting out evil sparks. The other three sat down in the waiting-room.

Lorena looked as if she were in the middle of a nightmare. Never having been of a strong character, she was worried what would happen to her if her father died. Her nice easy life would no longer exist and the one in charge of the factory would be Anthony, and he would make sure that he got the lion’s share of everything. She didn’t want to end up with nothing after having returned to the family nest.

Anthony was trying to work out what his next move should be if his father were not to recover. One thing he did know was that he needed to call the family lawyer. As far as he knew his father had not made a will yet, and even if he had Anthony, wanted to know the contents. So there they sat, the lovely trio, thinking more about their own futures than Gregory’s possible lack of any future.

 

When the scan was over Gregory was taken on a trolley to the intensive care unit. The three followed behind. A nurse set up a drip and told them they had better go, as he would be unconscious for quite a while. The doctor in charge of Gregory, told them that the next twenty-four hours would be crucial. The three left the room and walked along to the reception area before any of them chose to speak. “Now what are we going to do?” asked Lorena.

“There’s nothing we can do except wait and see what tomorrow brings,” Anthony said.

Vincent wanted to have a chat with Anthony alone, and with Lorena present it meant he’d have to wait. They got into the car and drove off to the house. Lorena went up to her bedroom where she was accosted by Blanche and Helen.

“What’s going on downstairs? Is there something wrong with Granddad?” Blanche asked her aunt.

“He’s not well, and we don’t know yet what it is that he has. Tonight is very decisive.”

“Do you think that he’ll die?”asked Blanche. Lorena looked crestfallen at this question, so not wanting to frighten her nieces limited herself to, “We have to wait till tomorrow. OK, girls? Goodnight,” and left the girls’ bedroom to go along to her own, where she fell onto the bed in a state of near panic wondering what was going to happen to her.

 

During the night Gregory passed away very quietly, never having regained consciousness, the hospital phoned the family to inform them, and the three duly went to the hospital. The doctor in charge came and announced that death had taken place at four o’clock in the morning. They were informed that the body had been taken to the hospital mortuary.

Anthony was furious because he realised that he would not be able to see his father’s Will if he had made one, until after the funeral. Gregory had died in a far more dignified manner than that in which he had lived.

 

All the local dignitaries went to the funeral and the number of funeral wreaths was quite scandalous. Blanche and Helen were both upset and puzzled about how their grandfather had died, and how they felt in some way relieved that he had done so.

 

The whole household was assembled in Gregory’s old study. The family lawyer sat down in Gregory’s old chair behind his huge desk. The only light came from the green grapes lamp. The blinds were only half down, so the atmosphere inside the room was one of intimacy. Anthony and Lorena were desperate to know what they had coming to them. Vincent was after what he considered his fair share. Blanche and Helen just wanted it to be all over so that they could get on with their lives.

 

The lawyer opened his briefcase and took out a large buff envelope, from which he extracted a sheaf of papers. He raised his eyes and stared at all those present. This is the last Will and Testament of Gregory Brownlow, then lowered his eyes to read:

 

‘I, Gregory Brownlow, declare that all my material possessions including the family house together with its contents; furniture, paintings and sculptures, carpets and electrical goods are to be sold. The cars are to be sold. The factory and machinery are to be sold. When all these sales have been carried out, the resulting money is to be shared equally, without distinction or rank, among: all the workers in the factory who have helped me create a thriving business, with my old partner and friend Vincent, with my two children Anthony and Lorena, and with my granddaughters Blanche and Helen. My children have never paid any attention to the business and have preferred to be spenders rather than earners, so now they may appreciate what an easy lifestyle they had. Vincent is a simple man and will manage very well with his share. To my granddaughters Blanche and Helen, I also leave the green grapes lamp.’

 

The lawyer placed a copy of the Will on Gregory’s desk and replaced the buff envelope into his briefcase. He then stood up, “If you need anything I’ll be in my office at the times indicated on my card. Good morning, and thank you.”

“Just one question, please. Is there any way the Will can be contested?” Anthony asked on the edge of breaking into a furious temper.

“I wouldn’t advise it, there was nothing wrong with your father when he made his Will, so you’ll just have to accept the fact that it was what he wanted,” the lawyer explained, and left.

 

“How are we supposed to manage? Where are we going to live?” Lorena wailed.

 

“What good can there be in inheriting an old-fashioned lamp?” Helen moaned to her sister.

“I don’t mind the lamp that much. I like that pale green light it gives out on the top shelf. There’s something magic about it. Anyway, we’ll still have our share of the money when everything’s been sold up and the money shared out. It could have been worse. This way, Dad and Auntie Lorena are rather peeved, but they’re the only ones. Everyone else will be happy with the Will,” Blanche replied.

“While we are waiting for our money we’ll have to stay here. And then where shall we go? Do you fancy going to live with our mother and her new man, or launch out on our own?” Helen asked her sister.

“It might be a good idea to be on our own, you never know what Mum’s new husband might be like. They have never shown much interest in us, so we’d better get on with life by ourselves.”

 

All in all it took eighteen months for the sale of the house and contents and the factory and machines and the cars to be tied up. Then the death duties had to be paid. When it was finished the total sum to be shared out was better than good, but not what Anthony and Lorena had envisaged during their lives. The lovely pair still harboured ideas of contesting the Will which the lawyer warned them would bring them nothing but more financial grief. The workers were more than contented with their part of the bargain, and as they were mostly nearing retiring age, saw old age less as something to be feared but as something to be looked forward to.

Blanche and Helen kept to their plan of moving away from the scene and moved as far north as they could to be family free, knowing that their father and aunt would spend a large part of the lives they had left berating Gregory for his Will.

Vincent had disappeared off to a sunny retirement in the Canary Islands with a lady friend, where he bought an attractive apartment with views overlooking the beach on one side and the mountains on the other.

 

Moving day came and went. Blanche and Helen put up a step ladder to get to the top of the book shelf and retrieve the green grapes lamp before the removals men came to take the furniture away. The lamp was very heavy, and as they were lifting it down they heard a slight rattle coming from inside the glass balls. They stared at each other and by mutual and silent accord took the lamp up to their bedroom and wrapped it up in their dressing-gowns and put it into a large suitcase.

 

A few days later when they were settled in their new home, the two sisters decided to take a closer look at the lamp. The first thing they did was to shake it, and once again they heard a soft rattle coming from inside the glass grapes. Blanche went into the kitchen and came out with a heavy handled knife, she banged on one of the glass balls and out fell diamonds. It was a good thing that they had put the lamp onto a cloth on one of the beds, as the grapes one by one were broken a small treasure of diamonds was discovered. They cleared away what was left of the lamp, and put it a box to sort out later. Then they picked up and shared out the diamonds between them. They smiled at each other and the next day they went to the bank to have the diamonds valued. This was their recompense for having put up with their grandfather. In one short moment they had become millionaires.

 

From time to time while sunbathing on his balcony, the question ran through Vincent’s head, ‘I wonder what happened to the diamonds that Gregory and I had stolen in a daring heist in the years before opening up the uniform factory.’ Gregory had always said, when questioned on the subject, “Don’t worry, Vincent, they are in a place where no one would think of looking.”

Vincent didn’t care about the diamonds, he had a nice, cosy retirement ahead of him, so why should he worry his head about dodgy diamonds.

 

Anthony and Lorena never knew about Blanche and Helen’s wealth. They spent too much time muttering and mumbling about Gregory not being a good father to them.

 

New green glass grapes replaced the broken ones, just in case Anthony or Lorena paid them a visit, and as a gesture to their grandfather for his generosity to them.


© 2013 Georgina V Solly



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Added on February 10, 2013
Last Updated on February 10, 2013
Tags: tyrant, greed, surprise

Author

Georgina V Solly
Georgina V Solly

Valencia, Spain



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First of all, I write to entertain myself and hope people who read my stories are also entertained. I do appreciate your loyalty very much. more..

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