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JUDGE VS MICHIGAN
RELEASE DATE JANUARY 2017
Two hours after the Chicago Marine Recovery Unit retrieved Anthony's body his family sat in Eleanor's living room, reeking of anticipation.
His sons, Alan and William Prince, and Eleanor's daughters Mildred Shoe and Catherine Boute were uncomfortable and unwelcome.
Eleanor examined them each with curiosity.
Mildred stood near the front window overlooking the street, clenching and unclenching her fists. She was dressed in what had become her uniform of a suit, silk shell, pearls with matching button earrings and two inch black pumps. It was what the majority of women attorneys wore in downtown Chicago, Illinois. Eleanor was surprised she wore the outfit on a Sunday.
Catherine, younger by three years, wore a flowered dress ala Marilyn Monroe, exposing much bosom. She hovered close to her mother. When she sat on the arm of her chair, a quick look from Eleanor sent her across the room as if she sat on a tack.
Anthony's sons, William and Alan were sprawled on the sofa like drunken sailors. William wore his usual button down shirt and almost new jeans (a result of dry cleaning). He tugged at the top button on his shirt, but it wouldn't close. His chins were in the way.
Alan wore his lifelong western look, a sweatshirt with jeans and cowboy boots. No one knew he was never on a horse and considered them quite smelly. In fact, nothing about the great outdoors appealed to him.
Eleanor, dressed in khaki slacks and a sweater despite the summer temperature, looked around the room and wondered why they bothered to come to the house. She scolded herself for calling them, but at the time, it seemed the decent thing to do. It seemed the thing she should do. Eleanor hated to be controlled by the 'shoulds' in life.
She wondered whether or not the children came to the house because of the shoulds. No, they were all worried about money.
William was dizzy with anticipation to learn about his inheritance. He thought about the late night television ads where people borrowed money against a lawsuit. Surely they would they advance money on a probate inheritance. It would get his credit card company off his back.
He guessed at the value of the townhouse. He wondered how soon he could bring a realtor in to see what his father's share was worth. With a straight face, he happily dreamed about his fathers' estate, about money, new cars, restaurant dinners, a nice apartment and not having Alan around all the time.
William regretted having to share the estate with his brother. He wondered how he could claim more than half of the estate. William pictured himself in box seats for Chicago Cubs' games. Maybe he would meet the players after the game for a beer.
Soon his days of watching games on television or at a bar were going to be history.
The one thing he wouldn't do, was to ask Eleanor about the money. At all costs, William wanted to appear cool. And he would never give Eleanor the satisfaction of knowing how much misery their marriage caused him personally.
His life was turned upside down when Eleanor tricked his father into marriage. He and Alan were forced out of their childhood home. He was forced to drop out of school. Now he wanted everything back, everything.
William wanted to recommend a restaurant where Eleanor could buy them lunch. It seemed the decent thing for her to do.
Mildred wanted to know how much co-mingling of their money had taken place in the five years since her mother married the judicial gold digger. She said a quick prayer that accounts would be as joint tenants.
Mildred knew the house belonged to her mother. This delighted her to the point where she wanted to giggle and clap her hands. She ached to taunt her miserable step brothers with the fact that the house would soon belong to Mildred and her sister. Now the lack of a prenuptial agreement could play to her advantage. Mildred needed a little time in the law library.
Catherine hovered close to her mother in what she hoped was a display of genuine affection, although there was little about Catherine that was genuine. She felt it was about time her now twice widowed mother stepped up to the base and started to act like a doting grandmother to her only grandchild. It was time she looked after him at least one day over the weekend.
Eleanor hadn't been much of a grandmother because of Anthony. Catherine wondered how soon she could talk to her about her will and some legacy for her grandson. It was the only way he was going to go to college. Mildred didn't need the money, she was a lawyer and would do well on her own.
Alan peered around the room with a squint. He tried to guess the value of the furnishings. He eyed the expensive CD player, one he admired but couldn't afford. He was making a plan to claim some of the better furnishings as his mother's. He would argue and pout and in the end believed Eleanor would write him a check. Pawning things was so ugly.
The small problem Alan had was that nothing looked familiar. The furniture from home wasn't more than serviceable and was now in the apartment he and William shared. He hoped Eleanor had forgotten what came from her house and what came from his father's house when they married. After all, it was five long years, and she was over sixty by now.
Alan reached down to finger the Persian rug, guessing whether or not it was 100% wool. He didn't know who would move the sofa and chairs that were on top so that it could be rolled up and carried to the car. He had two issues with this, the first was that he avoided carrying anything heavier than a buffet plate. The second was that his jeans were fashionably tight and bending down had a distinct risk.
If it was a perfect world, other people would load some things into his father's car and he would drive home. The problem with this plan was that he lost his driver's license. Although his father had always helped him in the past, a few weeks back, he flat out refused. He told Alan he had his own problems to work out. Alan was certain if he had a lawyer the judge would have understood he was the son of a judge.
That knowledge would have protected Alan's license. After all Cook County was a nest of nepotism.
Eleanor reflected on the strained relationships with the children. She blamed it all on their elopement. It slipped her mind that she was never close to her daughters. When she was dating Anthony, introducing them never occurred to her.
Anthony never introduced his sons to Eleanor when they were dating either.
After they eloped, both Anthony and Eleanor thought the relationships with their children would no longer matter. They blithely assumed everyone would fall into a casual blended family. Anthony thought they would have holiday dinners together. Eleanor thought they would attend a movie together. They were wrong.
Eleanor realized she was in a room full of strangers. Not one of the children had expressed any kind of grief over Anthony's death or extended condolences to Eleanor. They didn't ask what happened.
Mildred and Catherine watched their mother carefully for clues to what Anthony's death would mean to them.
Anthony's sons, tried very hard to appear cool and relaxed, hoping Eleanor would talk about money soon.
Eleanor tried to remember the last time any of the children were at the house. Mildred called every other month, as if it was on her calendar. It probably was calendared. She didn't talk for more than five minutes if Anthony answered the phone.
Catherine called regularly to ask if Eleanor wanted to see her 'only' grandchild before contacting a babysitter. She wanted to drop him off for a few hours or overnight. Catherine always left the option open for Eleanor to drive over and pick him up. If her mother took Gene, she could put the babysitting money to better use.
Feeling only a little sad, Eleanor decided to throw his sons, who she thought of as Cerberus and Orthus, guard dogs to hell, a bone with the funeral letter.
She glanced at the date on the letter. It had been less than two years since Anthony insisted they put their decisions about funeral arrangements into a letter to the children. She couldn't bear to read it now.
"This is what your father wanted," she said, holding the letter out to the boys.
William hesitated before grabbing the letter. He read, curling the edges while Alan pulled at the side, trying to read it simultaneously.
End of excerpt.
© 2016 and 2017 by Una Tiers
Happy 2017 to one and all!