Three days after his funeral, the family of Isaac Stafford all met at the law offices of Bollinger, Schwab, and Spencer for the reading of the will.
Isaac Stafford had led a very long and successful life. Having started in mortuary services, Stafford’s many expanding business ventures would ultimately include a chain of funeral homes, a vast array of real estate holdings, and the largest worm farm south of the Mason-Dixon line. In the automotive world, he was known as the founder of the Indiana 500 Museum, a museum in scenic Carmel, Indiana, containing five hundred antique cars that were the more commonly seen body styles for that make and model.
Always one to be on the cutting edge of any technology, Stafford had supplemented his will with several DVD’s. He had used the DVD’s to provide stipulations and explanations of the terms and conditions of his final wishes.
For some of the family, the final wishes of the family patriarch were more than they had bargained for – primarily his grandsons. Let’s examine the transcript for details.
“To my two grandsons, Clark and Andrew, you are being given a challenge. Here’s why…
“You two have lived lives of doing only what feels good and it has produced absolutely nothing – there’s a word for that, but I’m not going to say it in front of your mother. It is incomprehensible that you share any genetic composition with me. After thinking about it at great length, I have arranged for Mr. Bollinger to oversee the conditions I am about to outline. In turn, how you react and behave will determine what your inheritance will be. You will come back and meet with Mr. Bollinger one year from today. Based upon what transpires, I have instructed Mr. Bollinger on how dispensation should occur.
“Believe me, boys, you are going to earn it. Considering you two have never worked enough to buy a pot to piss in, let alone a window to throw it from, I just wish I was around to see it.
“Sound good? It better, as you really have no choice.”
Both Clark and his younger brother Andrew looked at each other with a strange mixture of skepticism and disbelief. What is that old fool thinking, thought Clark. Andrew was trying to soak up what was happening.
Mr. Bollinger brought forth a piece of wood with four hooks on it. On each hook was a set of car keys. Bollinger placed it on his desk, near the brothers.
The video continued.
“You two boys have been the scourges of the family. Clark, don’t think your various liaisons with that waitress at the Tonga Hut went unnoticed. Remember, this town isn’t that big. Did you really think you could have so many dalliances with a woman of that sort and not ultimately need the mega-doses of penicillin you sought from the clinic – a clinic housed in a building I own? It really appears you didn’t learn any lessons from that; your most recent escapades with the gal who works in the produce section at Whole Foods yielded you that little parasitic infection in your groin area – remember? That gal has more hair on her legs than you do – what the hell were you thinking? You need to absorb some class.
“Andrew – your track record is just about as pitiful as your brother’s, although I do give you credit for exercising more creativity. Even when you were an adolescent, when you would dump copious amounts of green food coloring in the swimming pool to make the maintenance people think there was an algae issue, I knew you were smart.
“Later, when your first girlfriend dumped you because of her mother getting wise to you, I credit your ability to get even. Sprinkling teasel seeds in her mothers flower garden was exquisite, even if it was misdirected. Thankfully you haven’t contracted the smorgasbord of social diseases your brother has accumulated, but you need to learn some discretion. There are surveillance cameras in many locations these days, so quit doing some things in the great wide open. Damn, being so indiscreet is not complimentary.
“In other words, both of you have the morality of an alley cat.
“So, boys, here is the deal. Mr. Bollinger has presented you with an assortment of car keys. Each of you gets your pick of one set of keys. In turn, this is to be the only car you drive for the next year. Do with it what you will, but you are to report back to Mr. Bollinger exactly one year from today and arrive in the car you will soon be choosing. I have entrusted him to gauge your behavior and provide an appropriately adjusted inheritance to you. Just keep your car running, as you must bring it back intact. Don’t worry, the valet parking when you arrived really wasn’t; your regular cars will be in hibernation.
“Now, choose your fate. Good luck.”
As Bollinger turned off the player, he turned to Clark and Andrew with a big smile. “As your grandfather has instructed us, you must each choose a set of keys. Mr. Stafford stated Andrew will choose first. Mr. Stafford, please choose your keys.”
Andrew looked at the keys carefully. He was being given nothing to work from as the base of each set of keys had been covered to eliminate any choosing based upon brand. Smelling a rat regardless of his actions, Andrew chose key number 3.
“Number 3?” asked Bollinger. “That is a 1995 Chevrolet Caprice equipped with the LT1 V8. Very good choice, Mr. Stafford.”
“Like I really had a choice,” muttered Andrew.
Bollinger smiled and turned to Clark. “Mr. Stafford, which key do you choose?”
Clark looked at the keys and had the same realizations as his brother. “Screw it; gimme number 1.”
“Number 1?” asked Bollinger. “That is a Chevrolet Vega, Mr. Stafford. Very intriguing choice, Mr. Stafford.”
“Intriguing, my ass,” Clark flatly stated. “Chicks won’t go for a Vega. This sucks.”
“Well, Mr. Stafford,” Bollinger said, “your grandfather did not disclose a loophole that we have in the actual will. You have the option of choosing another car – however, it will prompt a 15% reduction in your inheritance. Is this something you wish to pursue?” Bollinger was hoping he would as he knew the other two choices and was hungry to see the reaction.
“Sure. I’ll take number 2.”
Bollinger smiled again. “Key number 2 is for a 1978 Lincoln Mark V. It is a bit more impressive than the Vega, is it not?”
Clark shook his head and said, “Yes, and for all the wrong reasons.”
As Bollinger handed the Lincoln keys to Clark, he feigned forgetfulness when he stated, “Gosh, I almost forgot. Your grandfather has one more comment for you.” He pressed the play button on the DVD player.
“Like your choices, there boys? You better as I forgot to mention something earlier. As of right now, I’m terminating all allowances for you two jackasses. You are going to have to earn your own money. You can’t say you don’t have any methods of doing so, can you? I sure do wish I was around to watch you for the next year. That’s all.”
After some formalities, Clark and Andrew left with their parents.
Andrew’s chariot awaited him,
as did Clark’s.
Bollinger chuckled to himself the rest of the afternoon.
Some wise sage once opined how necessity is the mother of invention. Clark and Andrew were now realizing the necessity of turning a buck for the first time in their lives.
The next day Andrew was sitting on the deck of his apartment building. He was contemplating what to do when he happened to look across the street.
The idea then hit him. He remembered all the Caprice’s used as taxi cabs when he was a kid. Well, his Caprice was the same thing. But he didn’t have time to be driving a cab all day and all night. Besides, he thought, doing so would eat into fun time too much. He needed a way to make this work for him.
He pondered on his idea a little bit further. While the basic outline was coming to him, he needed to refine it further. Thinking more in depth, he figured it just might work.
By his very nature Clark wasn’t as mentally astute as his younger brother. Sitting in his living room drinking a beer, Clark turned on the television set to gather his thoughts. His grandfather had posthumously captured his attention more than he ever had before. He knew the old man was loaded and hated losing more, especially with the 15% penalty.
Looking at the television, Clark had a vision, a vision much brighter than he had ever had before. It just might work. He called the Whole Foods store to talk to his girl C’ryzma in the produce section. He needed her opinion but reminded himself to not mention how the old movie he was watching had inspired him like he had never been inspired before.
Both Clark and Andrew acted upon their ideas. Fast forward one year.
Andrew pulled into the law offices of Bollinger, Schwab, and Spencer. The Caprice was looking a little less shiny and had accumulated a few scratches.
Clark pulled up the front door of the law office with only thirty seconds to spare. His physical appearance had changed significantly, yet the Lincoln looked unchanged.
Bollinger welcomed both of them into his office. As they all sat down, Bollinger again flashed one of his trademark smiles.
“Clark and Andrew, it’s good to see you both. I trust you have been well this past year?” Both of the young men nodded. Bollinger smiled again and looked at Clark.
“Mr. Stafford. You look quite different than you did last year at this time. Your hair is darker and you have quite the set of sideburns. What can you tell me?”
“Well, Bollinger, let me tell you – I didn’t think a person could do so much in a years time. I was pretty pissed about getting that Lincoln, but after watching a movie one morning, it hit me – ”
“What movie might this have been, Mr. Stafford?” Bollinger inquired.
Sheepishly, Clark responded, “It was an old Elvis movie – Blue Hawaii. The movie wasn’t quite what I was hoping for from the title, but watching it I realized I could pass for Elvis! So I’ve been entertaining people at various events for the past year. Why, when I pull up in that Lincoln, some of the older gals go apeshit – I mean they go crazy.”
“They do sound enthused. I bet some of those women have really thrown themselves at you, haven’t they?” Bollinger probed.
Taking the bait, Clark answered, “You aren’t kidding. Man, what some of these women will do for an Elvis lookalike. Older women really know what they’re doing too; would you believe this one gal even…” Clark realized he may have been baited. “Well, let’s just say it has been a highly memorable year and I’m also thinking I could pass for Roy Orbison.”
Bollinger smiled and turned to Andrew.
“Mr. Stafford, what about you? How has your year been?”
Having anticipated this line of questioning for twelve months, Andrew was armed with information. Returning Bollinger’s smile, he explained his year.
“Mr. Bollinger, it has been a great year. Grandfather’s last wishes were quite the surprise, but I took it as a good sign of his caring. While it took a few days to fully grasp the magnitude of his challenge, I think you will agree I have embraced it as a true opportunity.”
Bollinger smiled, sensing a whole heap of fecal material was about to be flung his way. “Oh do tell, Mr. Stafford.”
“Well, it occurred to me that there is a distinct need for medical transport out of our fair city. Having the Caprice, I knew I was equipped to fill a need that existed. Therefore, I have been hiring out my services to transport various people here in the area to various facilities for cancer treatment and surgical procedures. Response has been tremendous – in fact, it has been so tremendous I have hired somebody else to drive the Caprice on days I am unable to do so.
“I have even purchased a couple of minivans so we can transport multiple people. There are days when I have multiple riders and I thought the Caprice was a bit too intimate for them.” Andrew smiled, content with what he had said as well as been doing. He knew Bollinger would be suspicious, but he had not exaggerated at all. As a last hurrah, Andrew added one more statement.
“If you need it, I have complete documentation showing all financial transactions with this business. I’ve even added nearly 80,000 miles to that old Caprice in this past year. It’s a damn fine car although I think its getting to the point it would be better off in Grandfather’s museum in Indiana, so I have arranged to donate it to them next month.”
Bollinger had been a lawyer for many years and was not easily impressed. On this day, Bollinger was impressed.
Smiling his perpetual smile, Bollinger turned his attention to Clark. “Mr. Stafford, would you have any business receipts? While I cannot disclose the criteria your grandfather specified, it is safe for me to say such information could be beneficial in my assessment.”
Clark’s faced paled. “Uh, well, I do have a book of contacts showing the various people I have worked for this past year.”
“That would be great, Mr. Stafford. Please retrieve it for me.”
Upon obtaining the book, Bollinger flashed a smile and told the two young men to wait. Bollinger then went to his office, pulled out a binder, and sat down.
Eighty-seven minutes later, he returned.
“Mr. Stafford; Mr. Stafford. After pouring over the information you gave me and reconciling it with the stipulations provided by your grandfather, I have been able to derive what your inheritance will be.
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“Mr. Andrew Stafford: For the amount of time you have been operating your business, you have done quite well and turned a tidy profit. From the projections you gave me there is still substantial room for growth and the need certainly is not going to wane. Like your grandfather, you envisioned a serious need within the community and you have fulfilled it. Good job. Based upon the parameters I have to work within, your inheritance is $5,900,000 which includes a building for you to base your business. Good job.
“Mr. Clark Stafford: While you have certainly identified a business need of sorts by becoming an Elvis impersonator – and have realized diversification potential with plans to impersonate Roy Orbison – the records you have provided are either indiscernible or incoherent. For instance, on page four you have “Lydia – Hell YES!!!” along with her phone number. One can only speculate as to the services you have provided to this Lydia – or her to you. Further, your business is limited in growth as you are essentially a one-man band thus you have created a growth ceiling for yourself.”
Clark piped up, “So how much am I going to get?”
Bollinger wiped the smile from his face. “Mr. Stafford, your grandfather predicted this exact outcome in terminology I won’t use, but suffice it to say it boils down to you are terminally plagued with mistakes and have seriously misplaced priorities. However, as your grandfather wished to give you a degree of security after his demise, he believes you are entitled to something.”
“In an effort to provide you with a modicum of security, you are being offered the job of assistant manager of your grandfather’s chicken restaurant, Wing-Dings. It even comes with a company car.”
“Damn straight! This sounds good. Where is my car parked?” Clark eagerly asked.
Bollinger smiled once more. “It’s parked outside right now.”