Aunt Edna’s Money - Writer's Digest Writing Prompt - August 12, 2016
[Your wealthy Aunt Edna has died and left you all of her money. At first you’re excited, as you’ve been living paycheck-to-paycheck your whole life, and this newfound money offers you endless possibilities. But, in her will, Aunt Edna left one big catch—and, if you don’t do it, all of the money is to be given to your most unlikable cousin, Wilfred.]
Nelson adjusted his pince nez and cleared his throat. Again. He looked up with that self-righteous disgust that simmered below that polished professionalism. "...And the sum of $100,000 shall be transferred to escrow and assigned to the account of James Reagan Wilson immediately upon full hearing and acceptance of the following terms..."
[Edna... you just HAD to use the full, annoying and legal name, didn't you? You're just rubbing it in, now. I can just see your sanctimonious conservative smirk now, you old witch.]
'Jimro' controlled his reaction, leaned in just a little to listen for the 'catch.' And oh, there was surely a catch.
"...1) You don't even inquire of the bank for one week or attempt to alter the terms of the Escrow transfer. 2) You PRAY an hour a day about what to do with the money. 3) On Day 8 you announce in writing to the office of Nelson and Schmidt to whom you intend to donate the funds - ALL OF IT - along with signed checks made out to those individuals or charities. Let's see if you can manage THAT. 4) One week later you will receive a deposit of $10,000 to do with as you please. 5) You go on with your life..."
[OH, that's RICH, Edna! Fine play.] Jimro could feel the eyes of the room behind him boring into the back of his head. Janni gave out a little gasp. [Sorry, gal. No diamond tennis bracelet from Boudreau's for the girlfriend today, I'm afraid. You'll have to settle for that convertible on my car lot you've been whining to get. It's a loss I can live with. So long as I get something in return...]
"... or you may choose to forego the award in which case the gift defaults to Wilfred Emms Wilson."
Now the entire room let out a series of nervous gasps or breaths. The disheveled man in the back row started paying attention only after his name was mentioned. Jimro's mind was spinning the odds right quick. It only took one pull of the lever. He smiled inwardly, and left on his poker face. He waited with the others in silence as Nelson folded the will and replaced it in the envelope along with a couple other papers. He cocked his head slightly as he studied Jimro.
[Game on. Cards are dealt. How you gonna play this, Jimro?]
Jimro slowly raised his hand to pinch his eyebrow while he stared intently at the Persian carpet between his shoes. He knew Wilfred's weakness. He knew Nelson's. And he knew what the rest of the family thought of HIM. There was still one piece missing. He waited for a moment till it came to him. He thought back to that awful book Aunt Edna insisted on reading to him back in grade school - "The Ultimate Gift." What at sopping bore that was. [So I'm supposed to play THAT game now, huh? Well, it's time to game the system.] And now he knew Edna's weakness. He had his plan.
"Wow, Nelson. That's a lot to take in. I know Aunt Edna has always been careful with her money. I'm just a little surprised, is all."
Now a few unsmothered snickers from the 2nd row.
"I'll tell you what. I'll save us all the suspense. Wilfred! Come up here."
Even after an honest attempt at a good scrubbing, the smell of yesterday's scotch followed the smell of ivory soap as Wilfred nervously shuffled around the outside of the room. Jimro rose to meet him with a seriousness befitting the occasion.
"Cousin, I don't know what Aunt Edna was up to, or why you were slighted more than me, but I'm gonna make it right. The inheritance is YOURS."
Jimro shook his cousin's wobbly hand and walked out of the room. He caught a glimpse of shocked frustration from Nelson. Janni abruptly gathered her purse and stumbled on her 4" heels to catch up. Jimro could hear the chatter in the lawyer's office swell as Janni closed the door. Her devil eyes didn't wait to pin him to the paneled wall of firm's plush hallway.
"You threw away TEN GRAND?? I don't care WHAT you think of your Aunt, that was just STUPID!"
She pursed her lips and pushed past her sugar daddy. Jimro just smiled as he followed her out. He watched her squeal out of the parking lot in her [borrowed] Lexus and didn't pay it any mind. He just whistled casually as he revved up the Caddy and waited for the steering wheel to cool. Just one stop to make before popping a cold Parish IPA and enjoying the Fall afternoon by himself at the pool. She'd come around soon enough.
He nosed the car in behind the Catfish restaurant that made good cover for the illegal game room. His manager was surprised to see his shadow owner walk through the door marked 'Electrical' on the outside. He'd already made his drop last night, and those moneys hadn't cleared the shell companies, yet. Recycling and road paving take a while to move cash when things slow down. The boss was smiling, so it couldn't be bad. But the Puerto Rican worried, anyway.
"Hey, Rico. Listen, a... 'friend' will be stopping by soon. He'll be flush, but don't let him know you suspect it. Just warm him up, slowly, would you? Blackjack 2 anties first. That's about his pace. He'll make your week, I'm sure." Rico nodded. "Oh, and he's fond of Wild Turkey. Make sure there's plenty of that on hand."
Jimro slipped out the door between the bathrooms when it was clear and left the restaurant through the back entrance. He couldn't help but smile. Nelson was fastidious and ethical. With the big money going to Wilfred, he'd probably get that 10 big after all. Even if there wasn't any further 'hidden' gifts in that will for him, he couldn't help thanking his lucky stars he'd bought out this little laundering operation last year. He'd already saved a bundle on taxes. Without any extra work from old Jimro it was turning into the "Ultimate Gift." [How's them apples, Aunt Edna? Sour, you say?] He just shook his head, waving that smile around, standing there in the Louisiana sunshine. The thermostat was nudging toward 'sizzle.'
Jimro was getting thirsty. Time for that pale ale and a good couple hours watching the ponies on satellite...