12-06-2011, 04:39 PM
The phone rang in the Piccucci household that evening. Pamela set down her paperback novel and answered it. "Hello?"
"Mrs. Piccucci?" a timid girl's voice came from the other end.
"This is Casey Worth, Mr. Piccucci's caregiver. I hope I'm not bothering you."
"Oh, no, Casey, not at all. How may I help you?"
"Well, I usually get paid on Fridays for caring for Mr. Piccucci, and now that he's...you know...I was wondering how I was going to claim my last paycheck. Shall I pick it up at the house, or have you mail it to me? I can give you my address if you want."
"Now don't worry about a thing, Casey," Pamela assured her. "I'll have Mike pay you at the house. He has to go there anyway to straighten out the details of the estate. Just go there tomorrow during the day and pick it up." In a burst of magnaminity she added, "And since you took such good care of Mike's father, I'll have him leave you a bonus."
"That's very generous of you, Mrs. Piccucci."
"Oh, it's nothing, nothing at all," Pamela said airily. "You earned it. And we'll make sure to give you a good reference as well."
"Thank you, Mrs. Piccucci."
"You're welcome, Casey. Good-bye."
"'Bye, Mrs. Piccucci."
Pamela hung up the phone. Her husband entered the bedroom, wearing nothing but a thin dressing gown. "Who was that?" he asked gruffly.
"Your dad's caretaker, Casey What's-her-name," she replied. "She wants her last paycheck. I told her you'd have it ready at the house tomorrow."
Michael, Jr., grunted.
"I promised her a bonus as well," Pamela continued. "And a good reference."
"How much of a bonus?"
"I didn't give an exact figure, but after putting up with your dad all these years, the poor girl deserves something. And anyway, we can afford it now. You won't forget, now, will you, darling?"
Michael, Jr., grunted again. Pamela set down her book in disgust. "Mike, for heaven's sake, will you please stop grunting like a pig and give a straight answer for once?"
"Okay, fine!" he snapped. "I'll remember to pay the damn caretaker! Now get off my back, willya!"
"Well, sorreeee! Excuse me for living!"
Michael, Jr., stormed out of the bedroom and into his own. For the past four years, the Piccuccis had been sleeping in separate rooms, since one king-sized bed proved not to be big enough for both of them. The same went for cars, bathrooms and vacations. Only money held them together, though they fought over it constantly. Michael, Jr., knew that Pamela could take him to the cleaners in a divorce suit with the help of a good lawyer due to the common property laws in the Southwest, but he could give back as well as he got in a lawsuit. Greed held them together while at the same time it drove them apart.
Take the money and run. Those words repeated themselves over and over again inside his brain. Go on, take the money and run. It sang in his head, though he couldn't remember the artist who sang it. Some time in the Seventies, but who? Oh, well, it didn't matter who recorded that song, but it was good advice as far as he was concerned. Ten o'clock tomorrow morning he'd be a free man, and to hell with Pamela and the rest of the world. Go on, take the money and run! Ah-ooh Lord! Go on, take the money and run!
Ten o'clock AM, read the giant clock over the skyscraper where the offices of Bruin, Close, LLC, were housed. The plate-glass window of the executive conference room overlooked the fabled Las Vegas Strip, but no one present had any desire to take in the view. Tina LaRue Piccucci, her daughter, Heather, Michael, Jr., Pamela and Springs were tensely awaiting the reading of Mick's will. The atmosphere was more like a Mexican standoff than a simple gathering of friends and relatives to discuss the disposition of an estate. No one spoke, just glared daggers at one another.
I'm the only heir here, Michael, Jr., communicated mentally to the others. Why the hell should any of you be here? You're just setting yourselves up for a big disappointment.
You think you're gonna get it all, huh, Junior? Tina sneered inwardly. Think again, big boy! Heather and I aren't leaving this room until we get what's ours!
This is gonna get ugly, Springs thought. No matter who gets it, it's gonna get ugly. Even if Mick doesn't leave me a dime, I'm gonna make sure that (bleep) doesn't get her meathooks into that money! It's Junior's, and that's all there is to it.
Everyone looked up as the side door of the executive boardroom suddenly swung open. "Sorry I'm late folks," Richard Close apologized breathlessly. "Okay, let's get started, shall we?"
All eyes were focused on the slim manila folder in Richard's hand. He opened it and took out the official looking document inside, then sat down to read it. The room was silent, save for the annoying hum of the flourescent lighting above their heads.
"I, Michael Antonio Piccucci, Sr., being of sound mind, etc., do hereby make my last will and testament, all previous wills null and void. To the following, I bequeath my estate."
Tina gripped her Gucci handbag in anticipation. Michael, Jr., held his breath. Springs braced himself for the worst.
"To my friend and business partner, Daniel William Springer, I bequeath the sum of five hundred thousand dollars."
Both sides of the Piccucci family turned to Springs, who responded with a contented smile and a satisfied shrug. I knew Mick wouldn't forget me, he thought. Five hundred grand--I can live with that.
"The remainder of my estate: money, property holdings, accounts, personal property, stocks, bonds, and etc., totalling eight million nine hundred and ninety seven dollars..."
That's almost nine million! Michael, Jr., calculated. The old man was richer than I thought!
Eight million nine hundred something? Tina was elated. I'll be set for life!
"...I bequeath to my caregiver, Casey Worth, and make her my sole heir to my estate."
Michael, Jr., felt as if he had been sucker-punched. Tina's heavily made-up jawline dropped to cleavage level. Pamela gasped for air. Springs shook with suppressed laughter. "Could you repeat that again?" Michael, Jr., requested in disbelief.
"The remainder of my estate: money, property holdings--"
"Not that part!" Michael, Jr. shouted angrily. "The other half!"
"I bequeath to my caregiver, Casey Worth, and make her my sole heir to my estate."
Tina shot up from her chair and snatched the will. She flipped through the pages furiously, searching for any mention of her or her daughter and finding none. "That son of a (bleep)!" she exploded. "After all I did for him!"
"You mean making his life miserable?" Michael, Jr. retorted. "Can't say I blame him."
"What about us?" Pamela demanded. "Mike's his only son! He's the one who should get the estate, not some little nurse who emptied his dad's bedpan every day!"
"Look, Mick wanted to leave everything to Casey, all right?" Close said in exasperation. "I didn't have anything to do with it except draft it. It was his decision, not mine. If you want to contest it--"
"You're damn right we're gonna contest it!" Tina screamed at him. "And I ain't gonna quit until I get what's mine!"
"Oh, you're gonna get yours all right, honey!" Pamela sneered. "We'll fight you all the way to the (bleeping) Supreme Court if we have to, but you're not getting a single penny from this estate!"
"Have it your way, (bleep)!" Tina shot back. "I'll see all of you in court! And that little (bleep) Casey, too!"
Tina grabbed Heather and stormed out of the room. Michael, Jr., turned to Close. "You screwed me over, Rich," he said. "You knew damn well that estate was supposed to go to me."
"Like I said, it wasn't my decision to make," Close protested. "You want to contest it, go right ahead."
"All right, fine!" Michael, Jr., retorted. "I'll do that!"
He strode out of the boardroom, Pamela in tow. Close breathed a sigh of relief, glad he still had his hide. Springs sat in his chair, chuckling. "Looks like you got a scrap on your hands there, Rich," he said.
Close could only nod in weary agreement.
A battered Chevy van, noticably out of place among the late model cars parked in the driveway of the Piccucci manor, pulled up discreetly to the curb, as if ashamed to be seen there. Casey Worth emerged from the passenger side. "I'll be right back, Mom," she said, "I won't be long."
She shut the van door and ran up the brick walkway up to the front door. The doorbell echoed like a death knell throughout the empty house. She waited patiently for someone to answer. She peeked through the narrow side window to see if anyone was coming. Sure enough, she saw Mr. Piccucci's son striding up to the front door. Casey respectfully backed away a few steps.
The heavy door flew open. Michael, Jr., glared irritably at Casey.
"Hello, Mr. Piccucci," Casey said cheerfully. "I'm here to pick up my paycheck."
It was all Michael, Jr., could do to keep from strangling the woman who usurped his inheritance. Without another word, he stormed away from the front door and into the office, picked up Casey's pay envelope, and strode back to the foyer. He thrust the plain white envelope into her face. "Here!" he said. "Now get out!"
The heavy door slammed shut. Casey wondered what she had said to offend him as she made her way back to her mother's van. She had only done what Mrs. Piccucci had told her to do. What was wrong with Mr. Piccucci all of a sudden?
As her mother drove her to her job at the Luxor Hotel, Casey told her about Mr. Piccucci's cold shouldering. Her mother patted her on the knee. "Now, don't let it bother you, Honey," she said. "It's not anything you did. They're just going through a rough patch right now; it's always like that after a death in the family. Anyway, you got your money and that's all that matters. We can pay the bills and get some groceries. And don't worry, you'll get another job somewhere. People always need someone to care for a sick relative, and you got good references. We'll come out of this just fine, don't worry. In the meantime, you got your cleaning job. That'll tide us over for a while."
"Why won't Benny get a job?" Casey pouted. "He's thirty-two, for God's sake! He should be working and living on his own."
"Your brother just hasn't had any luck, that's all," her mother replied. "Times are tough all over."
"He hasn't had any luck because he won't get off his ass and find a job!" Casey said irritably. "All he does is sit on the couch and watch TV. If we cancelled the cable, he wouldn't have an excuse to loll around all day. And we'd save money, too."
"Now, you know how much your dad likes television," her mother admonished her. "He can't go out and do much since he's been on disability."
"It's just that I'm tired of being the breadwinner, that's all."
"I've been helping out some, ain't I? I got that job at the liquor store."
"Yeah, but you barely work enough to pay for the cable bill, let alone support the family. I'm twenty-eight years old, Ma. I want to get on with my own life--have a career, get married, have a family of my own. Instead, I'm stuck supporting you, Dad and Benny--especially Benny, that overgrown kid who won't lift a finger except to use the remote!"
Ma said nothing, just drove on. She didn't blame Casey for feeling the way she did. Ever since Phil went on disability five years ago and she herself had been laid off at the factory, her youngest child had become the sole provider for the family. Benny, however, had been an underachiever practically from birth; his grades were seldom above C level, he never went out for sports, he had no ambition in life except TV, beer, and going out to topless bars. No matter how much she nagged and nagged him to get a job, he never made the slightest effort to make any contribution to the household. In time, he was virtually part of the furniture.
The giant black pyramid loomed into view, the enormous banner advertising Criss Angel's Believe show covering half the front of it. Ma let Casey out by the curb; it wouldn't do to have the family's rickety old van pull up to the valet drive. Casey kissed her mother good-bye as she clambered out of the passenger seat. The van pulled away while Casey ran to the service entrance (employees were prohibited from using the front entrance when reporting for work). The encounter with Mr. Piccucci, Jr., was forgotten. Ma was right--the family was going through a rough patch with the death in the family. Well, it was none of her concern anymore. She would no longer have anything to do with the Piccucci family ever again.
Last edited by Veritas; 12-07-2011 at 04:18 PM.