by H.E. Taylor
|Chapter 65||Table of Contents||Chapter 67|
Arrangements, December 11, 2058
Anna was mercifully asleep when I got home. When I told Edie about Matt, she was subdued. She put her hand to her mouth and sat down quickly. Then to my surprise, her attention shifted to me. She was concerned about me. I appreciated that, but I had another duty. To call Jon.
Matt’s death hit Jon just as hard as it hit me. The braggadocio and oneupmanship were gone. We didn’t talk long. I pointedly did not raise the issue of Matt’s body and interment in order to give Jon time to deal with his emotions.
He called me back a couple of hours later. “What about his body?” he asked right off the bat.
“It’s in a morgue in La Paz. It’ll cost 27,000 credits to get it shipped.”
“27,000? I can’t afford that!”
“Neither can I.”
Jon looked thoughtful for a second, then asked, “What about his estate?”
“I don’t know.” I hadn’t thought of that. After his accounts were frozen by ConSec, I had more or less put his money out of my mind. “I’ll have to talk to Matt’s lawyer and ConSec.”
“That’s a good place to begin.”
“I’ll be in touch.”
Edie was sitting in the living room out of sight, but listening to us talk. Anna got up shortly after and Edie told her ‘Uncle Matt’ had gone away to be with the angels.
“You mean he’s going to be with Ryan?” she asked. She meant the Moonchild I realized.
Anna spent the rest of the evening trying to console me. I was uncomfortable with the little white lies, but figured she would learn the harsh truth soon enough.
The standard bereavement clause for immediate family members gave me 10 days off work. The faculty head, John Roberts, called to express condolences, which was more than I expected from the old Scot. I guess it was more in dad’s memory, because I hardly knew him.
I couldn’t sleep. I just kept going over it all in my mind. Finally I drifted into an unrestful few hours quiet before rising early. It was only a week before solstice, so the days were short, but in the half-light before dawn I was out poking around in the greenhouse.
A couple of planter boxes needed repair and I was wondering how best to do that, but the truth of the matter is that I just wanted some menial task to keep myself busy. Working with the hands soothes the mind. I decided to build corner braces for the planters using screws, not nails.
An hour after the sun rose, Anna came out to visit me. “Mama says it’s coffee time.”
I stopped sawing the piece of wood that would be a corner brace in order to rub noses with her.
“She was worried when you were gone, but I saw you from the window.”
“And what were you doing in grandpa’s room?” I asked in mock seriousness.
She took my hand and we started to the house.
“I like to look at the pictures.” Just before we reached the door, she said, “I want to learn to read so I can say the names of all the animals.”
I was a little surprised, but stammered out, “That’s good.”
Edie had baking soda biscuits right out of the oven. I had skipped breakfast, so I didn’t feel bad polishing off 3 of them. Edie just beamed. I think she was relieved to see I was more or less functional.
I called ConSec after eating, but Carman was ‘not available.’ Then I called Matt’s lawyer, a guy named Jaden Aliwalia, not much older than me. He didn’t know Matt was dead, so it took him a minute to absorb that. He said that he thought that seeing as Matt’s estate was legally obtained, it would be released once the ‘enemy of the state’ order was no longer germane.
“But who knows what wrinkles they might come up with,” he added darkly. Then he mentioned the will. “You do know you are named as executor?”
“No. I didn’t. Matt didn’t discuss it with me.”
“Well you are, with Jon as a secondary.”
I went back to the greenhouse, more because I wanted to be outside than to do anything useful. In the middle of the afternoon, Carman appeared. He walked around the corner of the garage, just like he belonged there.
“I heard you were looking for me.”
I dropped the board I had just cut. “Will you release Matt’s estate now that he is dead?”
“I don’t see why not. I’ll have to clear it, but I’ll see what I can do.”
The next morning Jaden called me to arrange a meeting. ConSec had cleared the accounts. I was responsible for directing the disbursal of Matt’s estate.
I called Carman immediately and arranged to have Matt’s body shipped back to Centre City.
Excerpted from _The Bottleneck Years_ by H.E. Taylor
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Last modified November 12, 2013