Prompt Day #35: Reveal an offbeat request during the reading of a will
When I read this prompt, I knew exactly what the request would be, the rest of the story kind of grew around that. I do have to give credit to Michael A. Arnzen for an idea of his that I used from his poem “Fun With Bones” –if you think this story is deliciously disturbing, you should buy “The Gorelets Omnibus, Collected Poems 2001-2011”
Dinner With a Dead Man
“Welcome, everyone. Please come in and sit down. Let me start by giving you my sincerest condolences and to apologize for asking you to come so soon after Terry’s death. He gave very specific instructions however, that you all be called in for the reading of the will immediately upon news of his passing.” Donald Gregory, Terry’s lawyer put on his most sincere look of sympathy as he ushered the family in. Mrs. Harrington looked around the office, spending particular time on the men seated on the four chairs in front of the big window
“Donald, who are those men?” She asked, her voice seething with resentment for having to rush here and miss out on all the attention Terry’s death should have brought her. The “kids” who were no longer kids but young adults skulked in behind her.
“That will all be explained in the will, Kathy. Please sit. Junior, Beth, can I get you anything? Water, Coffee, Soda?” He asked, again trying to ignore their disinterest and lack of grief.
“Do you have Perrier?” Beth asked
“No, sorry just bottled spring water” He answered.
“Then no.” She said and fell into the overstuffed chair that faced his desk. Her mother sat primly on the edge of the arm of the chair and Junior pulled a chair over from the row of chairs where the mysterious men were sitting.” Donald watched them arrange themselves as if they were posing for a family portrait. He really couldn’t wait to start the reading, although he wouldn’t hold his breath for a good reaction. Both Beth and Kathy appeared to have just gotten Botox updates for the occasion. Still, he knew there would be some choice words. He turned to the men sitting beneath the windows, nodded, and sat down at his desk. He looked up at the family.
Last Will and Testament
Terrance William Harrington, III
I, Terrance William Harrington, III, being of sound mind and body declare this to be my last Will and Testament. I am married to Katherine Anne Harrington (nee Winters) and my children’s names are Terrance William Harrington, IV and Elizabeth Jane Harrington.
I have worked my entire life to provide for my family. I wanted to be able to give my children all the things I never had growing up. I wanted them to go to the best schools and never have to worry about money. I wanted to give my wife everything she wanted. To show her how much I loved her with diamonds, shoes, purses, and cars. We took elaborate vacations and saw the world. And what did I get in return? Forgotten.
My family could not make time to see me unless I was giving them something. I worked hard and all I got was spoiled, selfish children and a wife more in love with her appearance than her husband. Even now, they are all here because they want to know what they are getting. A family who was truly grieving would have refused such a request to be here immediately after my death. But I have no doubts every one of them is here. And I am sure they are here staring down the strangers in the room, wondering what they are doing here. Wondering if these men will be getting any of the money they think should be theirs. Relax, family, they will not be getting any of your money. They were paid months ago when I wrote this Will.
So, without further ado let us get to the part for which my vain wife and ungrateful children came on such a terribly upsetting day. As everyone in this room is aware, I am worth approximately 48 million dollars (this of course includes my stocks, bonds, properties, and investments). There are two ways in which my estate can be divided. The first is to give my wife 50% and each child 25% of my worth. This will be the method I choose should my family agree to my request regarding the final arrangements of my earthly remains. Should they refuse to follow my requests, my wife’s 50% will be given to Planned Parenthood because I know Kathy is such a staunch republican and good catholic (at least in public, right Kat?) and my children’s 50% will go to the Feed the Children charity.
Donald paused until the gasps and angry murmuring subsided. Also, a dramatic pause was perfect here before the reading of Terry’s final wishes.
Since none of my family ever had time to sit with me and just enjoy a meal and chat, they will enjoy a meal in my honor. A meal that will be prepared by the gentlemen my wonderful family has been staring down since they arrived in this office. These men are world class chefs, butchers, and artists. They will be preparing a meal that is one of a kind. All three of my next of kin, will sit down and enjoy all seven courses as a memorial to me. I do not want a funeral or any other service. I would hate for them to waste any of their precious money on me. As I said, these men have already been paid. During this meal, which will be supervised by Donald, my trusted lawyer (who has already been paid handsomely for his services), my family will converse as a family should and to spend time memorializing me. Each will give a small speech about their feelings for me and all the things I did for them in my lifetime.
Donald paused again. Kathy and the kids seemed a little surprised at his request. It seemed way too easy and he could see them calculating the possible catches involved. He smiled.
The menu for the meal will include a Head Cheese started made of my own head. My brains and liver will be made into a pate which will be served in a bowl made from the top of my skull. Mr. Torimoto will be carving my ribs into artistic utensils for you to use during this meal, including my scapulae as cheese knives. My lungs will be dehydrated and made into a crouton-type delicacy which will be placed in a salad served with my collar bones as salad spoons and my pelvis as the bowl. There will be a soup made with my intestines, spleen, and kidneys which will be boiled in my stomach and then poured into service dishes. My muscles will be braised in red wine (Katherine’s favorite) as your main course. The remainder of my body will be boiled down to create a gelatinous base for a dessert which I have been assured will be better than anything you have ever tasted. All this I do for you. You did not appreciate when I sacrificed my body for you in my lifetime. Perhaps you will in my death.
Given that these great chefs work only with the freshest ingredients, a decision must be made today so they can begin immediately. Dinner will be served tomorrow at 8pm sharp. Please RSVP with Mr. Gregory before you leave. Your checks will be given to you in envelopes made from my back skin (because I would give you all the skin off my back, haha) as soon as you’ve finished your dessert. I hope to see you all tomorrow night at home in our entertainment dining room
Kathy stood up. “Donald! This is preposterous and quite frankly, illegal. He can’t do this!”
Donald laughed. He reached into his drawer and pulled out a Will. “This Will is legal and binding, leaving all his fortune to Planned Parenthood and Feed the Children. If you agree to this meal, however, both Wills will be destroyed, you will be presented with an urn of ashes which everyone will assume contains Terry’s remains and as per common inheritance laws, when a person dies without a Will, the estate goes to the next of kin. Which it will, of course.” He stopped, waiting for a response. “Shall I assume you are all refusing to follow his wishes?” He walked the first Will to the shredder. He waited. Junior stood up.
“I’ll be there.” He said. And then “Fucking prick.” He walked out. Beth stood up then.
“I’m a vegetarian” She said, daring Donald to say something.
“There will be a check written out to Feed the Children in your honor but in your Father’s name—he didn’t want you to get any tax credit for the donation.” Donald said. Beth burst into tears the likes of which could rival a two year old’s worst tantrum and ran out of the room.
“He was a sick man, Donald. You will be hearing from my attorney.” Kathy said.
“I’m sure he will find Mr. Harrington’s Will leaving his money to charity perfectly legal and binding. And I’ll leave it to you and Beth to tell Junior that Mr. Harrington’s offer is an all or none deal. Either you all show up or none of you get anything.” Donald said. He enjoyed having an answer to anything the selfish witch threw at him. He wished Terry could have been here to see it.
“We’ll just see about that!” She said and stormed out, stomping her feet like the older but just as petulant sibling of the sobbing toddler.
One month later, Beth and Junior received Thank You letters from Feed the Children explaining that many children less fortunate than themselves would be provided for in their honor. Mrs. Harrington also received a lovely Thank You letter from Planned Parenthood, assuring her that the millions donated in her honor by her husband would go to provide many women’s preventative health services as well as providing free birth control and safe abortions. Terry Harrington rolled over in his grave….and smiled.