The Inheritance – A Short Story

“I’m sorry but the worst thing about this job has to be changing the diapers. Eeeeuwugh!” Chris said as he shook his head and grimaced. He then smiled and said “and of course I’m implying that they were wearing diapers when they delivered the goods.”

“Hmmmmm” Sheryl pondered “yeah I see your point, but when you wipe up patients at least it’s over in a couple of minutes…When you have to deal with the families, you’re dealing with crap even after your patient is dead”

Chris laughed as he wiped his mouth with his Applebee’s napkin and responded “Ok you got me there. Speaking of interesting families, how did the reading of the Gregg’s will go?”

“Honestly, I am still trying to process it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I figured David’s father would be a generous man, but I didn’t expect this…”

“Whaaaa!!” Chris said as he leaned in towards Sheryl, “Did yooou get a little early retirement?!”

“Let’s not go crazy. He only gave to his family, but I just never thought he would have given it to them like he did.”

“Ok, give me the full story. What happened? Who was there? What did he give? Who got left out? Let’s hear it all.”

“Sure, but first let me make a quick phone call”

Sheryl picked up her cell phone, dialed by touching various points on the screen, pressed the phone to her ear and after a momentary pause she spoke.

“Hello! How are you doing?…Yes, I just wanted to let you know that my lunch meeting will run over a little today. I will see you at 1:30 instead of 1… Ok, thanks and yes I have it. My grandmother passed it down to me. I have had it for the longest, however since yesterday I never had any use for it. OK, well I will see you then. Yes, my meeting will go a little longer than I initially planned. I will call you when I am close…bye.”

“Sorry about that Chris, I just know that this story may take a little while.”

“Talk to me.”

“Ok, so you know how I have always said that of all of my patients, Davie’s family probably had the most money…”

“That’s the only reason those people start churches….to get paid!”

“Yeah, that is what I thought too. Apparently not in this case.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I guess I can show you better than I can tell you.” Sheryl picked her phone off the table and began thumbing through the contents. “I have a picture of the family.”

“You took pictures!?”

“Well Cynthia the mother recommended that we all take pictures. I think I told you this, but the family is so spread out over the world. Leila is in Port – au – Prince, Gary in London, and Ronald is constantly traveling with his work. They are never all in one place at one time. Cynthia thought it would be a great time for them to capture the moment.”

“You act like you know these fools.”

Sheryl laughed and said “You’re right I don’t really know them but every time they call to speak to David they are very cordial and we often talk about each other’s lives.”

“It must be nice” said Chris as he sighed “all of my families just complain about how much they are paying me, tell lies about themselves, or trying to sell me something.”

“Yeah, they are a different type of family. Now don’t get me wrong they got their dirt too. I don’t know if you knew this but the guy that works as the main greeter at the Wal-Mart on Langdon Street named Jimmy, he is their brother too.”

“Jimmy Smiley Face!”

“Yep. From what I hear he has been battling addiction for some time now. He was there too.”

“What kind of addiction?”

“We don’t need to get into all of that…”Sheryl said as she repositioned herself on the table and turned her phone so that Chris could see the family photo. The photo displayed two rows of people, the first sitting and the second standing. “Ok, starting from left is Ronald, the guy who started the big environment social media platform; Garden City. He says that there is some sort of spiritual connection, I’m not sure what it is. Next to him is Dr. Gary, who is a professor of Humanities in some big school in London. To the right is his daughter Leila…”

“Um Sher…, I hate to break the news to you but there is nooo way that Leila is their daughter. I mean unless Paaastor Greg had an affair with a black woman.”

“An affair really…look at you, always assuming the worst.”

“Well don’t we all?” Chris said as he peered at Sheryl.

“Leila is the daughter the Gregg’s adopted when they were in Haiti about twenty years ago. Apparently, her parents died as a result of some kinda accident. The Greg’s had to fight through customs for some time before they were able to adopt her. After she grew up in America, she decided to use her education to become a physician in Haiti. But make no mistake the ooonly thing different about her is her skin color. If you were wearing a blindfold you couldn’t tell the difference.”

“Mmmhmmmm, if you say so.”

“You silly. Sitting in the chair on the left is ‘Jimmy Smiley Face’ as you call him.”

“That boy looks like a serial killer!”

Sheryl rolled her eyes and said “You stupid… In the middle is Cynthia…”

“She looks like an angel.”

“Agreed, and me and David are on the right.”

“You always make sure he walks out the house looking right.”

“I can’t have him going out looking raggedy.”

“I hear that. How is David doing?”

“Well, he is still in good health. However, the stress that cerebral palsy can place on an individual can be very tough. I mean I always try to point him in the right direction but in more cases than not he finds a way to do the wrong thing. So I have to stay after him and correct him.”

“Sounds like most of the crew I roll with.”

“Agreed, there are often times when working with David will remind me of my own life….”

“Enough with the Lifetime moment. Tell me about when they started cutting checks!” David said as clapped his hands in rhythm with his spoken syllables.

“Ok, ok, ok. So we are in their large living room after breakfast and in walked their lawyer, Valarie Washington.”

“Did everybody shut up as soon as she walked in?”

“No, actually she just joined in the discussion for about ten minutes before we got to business. After everyone got situated she read the will. I have never been in a will reading before, I have only heard about them on television. So I know it sounds a little country and probably illegal to do it without permission but I recorded with the video camera on my phone.”

“Whaaa!!!” Chris said as his grin consumed his face. “Oh now, you know you gotta let me see it!!!”

“Ok, ok, ok, here it is.” Sheryl slid her phone from the hidden pocket located in her medical smock. She scrolled to the camera application, found the appropriate video and pressed the play button.

“Good afternoon Gregg family. Thank you for staying an extra day for the reading of the will. Typically we would just mail this to you. However, your father specifically requested that it be presented to you this way. He wanted to present it to you via this video presentation.”

She reached into her purse and pulled out a DVD in a paper case. She pulled out the DVD and slid it in the nearby television that rested on the wall. After turning on the DVD, she turned to face the family. Pastor David Gregg Sr.’s smile beamed from inside the television monitor.

The recording of Pastor Gregg began to speak “How are youse guys doing? I’m not sure who’s there, but I assume Cynthia and David will be there. Hiya Davie!”

“Hii Daaad!” responded David.

“and I’m sure Sheryl is there. Thank you for your patience and consistency with David, I speak for the family when I say we really appreciate you.

Hiya Thia, sweetheart how are ya?”

Cynthia responded with a gentle smile.

“and hello to all of youse who are present. I know ‘the dramatic reading of the will’ is the stuff of fiction and movies. However, I thought it would be good to catch you like this the day after the funeral for three reasons. The first being as you all well know I can’t resist a captive audience”

“huuuaah” groaned Ronald and Lelia.

After stopping to chuckle, he continued. “The second is I figured it would be better to let you know immediately after the funeral rather than communicating this information days to weeks later via the ol snail mail, especially for you internationals. Lastly, I like the thought of everyone getting together even if it is for my funeral… Well let me get my note cards”

He reached down and picked up his reading glasses and small stack of flash cards. He placed his well-worn glasses over his ears and he thumbed through his cards until he found his desired starting place.

“Let’s see here….Ok” he said, as he turned his eyes to the camera.

“To begin with I just want to remind you guys of my favorite scripture 1 Corinthians 15, I’m not going to read it to you but just remember to keep first things first.

Next as you all know I didn’t have that much money. Even though the books that I wrote were somewhat popular the proceeds went to the shelter and your mother and I were content so I told the church to hold the raises.

With all that being said, I left this earth with approximately $50,000 in my emergency fund, I figured if worst came to worst it would be enough money to support us for a rainy season. Your mother and I also have our regular joint checking and savings account which your mother will retain in full.”

“That’s it!!” said Chris to Sheryl in disbelief.

“That’s not even the crazy part keep watching” Sheryl said as she adjusted the phone screen.

Pastor Gregg continued “I decided to divide the emergency fund in equal parts so that each child gets an equal share.”

“Pause” said Chris as he touched the pause button on the phone screen, “so you mean to tell me that the adopted girl got the same amount of money as the regular kids.”

“Yep” piped Sheryl

“…and Davie and Jimmy”

“Yep”

“Interesting”

“yeah, that’s what I said. Hold up, what time is it?”

“1:17”

“I’m actually going to have to head out in a few seconds, I will send you this video and we can talk about the rest when we meet next week.

That phone call a few minutes ago was to Cynthia Gregg. I had so many questions and Cynthia and I have always had a good relationship. I told her that growing up my family went to church on Christmas and Easter and I have always seen the TV pastors with the “Now and Later Gators”. However, this is one of the first times I’ve been around real Christians. I had questions after the will reading and Cynthia told me to bring the Bible that I have had it on my shelf for years. I’d told her I would meet her at 1:30, its around that time now so I got to go.

Here is enough money for my meal. Have a good day and I will see you next week.”

As Sheryl got up to walk towards the door Chris quipped “Alright, don’t drink the juice”

In laughter Sheryl responded “I hear you, I hear you… I just found it interesting.”

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