Last Scene Leaving the Hall
©2010, D. Paul Angel
David and Renee walked across the polished mahogany entrance hall of their Grandfather's palatial home. They were amongst the last to arrive, and quickly spotted him as aanother group left him. The iconic tycoon as always, he was in his wheelchair with a plaid blanket over his legs speaking to a young man in a beret. They began walking towards him, already exasperated at the evening's ordeal, and ready to let their old Grandfather know their displeasure. Then Renee realized who the man next to his Grandfather was and slammed her gin and tonic to the floor before stamping over to them with David trying to intervene.
"What the fuck are you doing here you poodle-fucking sack of shit?" she screeched at the man.
"Rene. Really! That is quite unladylike," snapped their grandfather as the man in the beret smugly met the glances of everyone who was now watching them. "After his refreshingly honest expose I asked Mr. Holmes to film my will. Which, I might add, you were almost late to see. Come. There was no reserved seating, so I hope your tardiness did not cost you much."
Chester Holmes raised his glass of scotch Renee, but quickly turned before she could knock it out of his hands. He followed his patron into the hall, but David and Renee were turned away by a serious man in a crisp suit, who made it clear that he not only knew who they were, but he very much did not care. Embarrassed and insulted in front of several hundred people in their own Grandfather's Great Hall, they bitterly stalked to their seats.
"All because that fucking old prick refuses to just fucking die," Renee hissed into David's ear.
"And now he's embracing the shit who tore us apart with that damned movie of his," he spat back.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," began their Grandfather, "I am an old man, but still very much in control of my facilities." It was hard to tell whether Renee or David, or both, had snorted, but he ignored them whilst continuing, "So while still very much in this world, I felt it important to share my Last Will and Testament. Just not in that order.
Chester Holmes turned to start the video. Adding Mr. DeMauneaux's Will to the end had been the easiest money he had ever made. Being able to add back in the segments even he had found too libelous was icing on the cake. As the movie flared to life on the protable screens around the room, Renee and David began a loudly whispered commentary on the video.
"God I get so sick about people whining..."
"Wanna keep your fucking house? Pay the fucking mortgage..."
Their commentary crashed to halt as images of their dead parents came across the screen. The music, of which they were only vaguely aware of before, switched to one of Mahler's sadder pieces. Then they saw their Grandfather speak on the screen with more emotion and passion then he had ever showed them over their entire lives. As it continued, it changed it changed. They sat mesmerized, as his mea culpa grew inexorably, like a slowly rising tide made of small, gently lapping waves.
His head bowed, both on the screen and in his chair, before he continued in the video, "Now that you have heard my Testament, I hope you can fully appreciate my will. I have been a man of considerable means for a great many years. I have enjoyed them, and I tried to share them with my only daughter and her children.
"I understand now, that I was substituting my money for emotions. I did the same thing with my beloved Viola." He paused to brush back a single tear, "And now that I will soon be with her again, I wanted to see her again in good conscious. So I have liquidated the whole entirety of my assets, with the exception of this house and estate."
Renee and David looked at each other with mutually shared greed. Despite their Grandfather taking a bizarre turn towards the end, they had no doubt of their place. So each began counting the funds in their imaginary trust funds.
"Those funds, just shy of 3 billion dollars, I have dispersed across a wide spectrum of charities."
Renee and David's imaginations jarred to a stop mid fantasy. Their money, their money was gone. Not just gone, but given to the freeloading filth of the world.
"And this estate has been transferred to the State for a much needed rehabilitation center."
Renee's fists clenched as she went pale. She started to rise, but David's hand stopped her. Their Grandfather now looked markedly different. No longer a fragile man of ninety-three, he looked like a vigorous man in his early fifties. "Finally, to my beloved David and Renee, I leave a legacy of self-determination." Renee and David sat speechless, their dreams of easy wealth simply, irrevocably, gone.
The image on the screen flickered with a brief burst of static, and he was once again sitting before them."I do thank you all for coming, and I beg forgiveness from everyone's whose life I have hurt. Would that I could offer more." Chester Holmes looked at the screen in disbelief. This wasn't in the video he had made. Indeed he could've sworn he had turned it off when it flickered back to life. The murmurs, whispers, and even indignant mutterings of Renee and David all ceased in their transfixed silence. "Now, if you all please excuse me, I must leave. I am late for my first date with Viola in thirty-seven years."
With that he rose from the chair, smiled and left the plaid blanket behind as he spryly walked off screen.
The lights came on full and the large, silent audience all gaped at him. He wore a faint smile, most of his wrinkles were gone, and he was very much dead.