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Contemporary Fiction

  “It’s mine, and you can’t have it!” Isidora’s father said.

   “Mr. Savas, I’m not asking for myself, I’m asking for your daughter.”

   Savas pushed himself up in bed and motioned me to come closer. The bodyguards moved in as well in some silly pretense of earning their money. Savas placed a hand on my shoulder. “You’re looking for an in, aren’t you?”

   “Mr. Savas?”

   “You drip poison in her ear, don’t you Mr. Weasel?”

   “Wilson. Mr. Wilson. If you behave you can call me Ben.”

   Savas tied to reach me to slap me, but one of his bodyguards got between us. It was Nomi, the heavier of the apes, who motioned me back. To be fair he did it more for my benefit than his boss’s.

   “You’re not getting my money.”

   “I’m not asking.”

   “I will give her a small allowance for the rest of her life if she divorces you. Tell her that.”

   “She doesn’t want an allowance. She wants the ashes.”

   “Then she’s getting nothing.”

   “You were separated from her mother for fourteen years. You’re being a pig.”

   He pushed a decanter of clear liquid off his end table in my direction. When it spilt it had that black licorice smell Savas always reeked of. Well, he wasn’t always like this. He had gone downhill a lot in the past two years. Selfishness will do that to you.

   “It’s worth nothing to you, would you just give it to her? Do it because you love her.”

   Now Savas pushed the lamp off end table towards me, but the cord made it bounce back and drop to the floor. It did crack, though. The old man was really worked up.

   “Don’t tell me how I feel. Don’t ever tell me how I feel!”

   Okay, okay. I’m sorry. Mr. Savas, please. Do you want to be her father, or do you want to be spiteful? Think about it.”

“Yes, I want to be spiteful. Full of spite. I do!” Savas laughed and clapped. “Get out of here.” Savas started pointing orders. “Get him out of here! Don’t let him back. Get him out of here!”

   At our apartment Isidora was also cross with me. Hers was a more subtle intimidation. “Don’t see him anymore.”

   “I thought he would understand it wasn’t about money.”

   “Understand? He’s blind and stupid. He won’t forgive that I didn’t agree to a marriage with some business partner of his. And he also won’t forgive that you never ask him permission to marry me.”

   “Well, I did, actually.”

   “What?”

   “I’m sorry, Isi. I know you told me, but I asked anyway. He said no. He said I was a fool for asking. He said I would never make any money as a lawyer. He said I would ruin you. And then something about drowning in my own blood. But I married you anyway.”

   Isi hugged and kissed me.

   When Mr. Savas passed… when Isidora’s father… when her Baba passed, we attended a very large funeral and we were treated as an afterthought by his business partners and the board of directors for his corporation. There were no other family, and no friends, that he had not long ago driven away. Isidora cried for never having the father she should have had.

   When the reading of the will came it left all assets to his corporation, and nothing for Isidora. Not even her mother’s ashes. I had no idea how to contest the will. I was not an estate lawyer; I was a corporate lawyer. I had gone to school with those I could call upon, but Isidora made me promise not to try to contest the will. She only wanted the urn.

   Weeks passed and one day Isidora said, “Someone called to ask me if I had any confidence in the new leadership for Savas International. “

  “What did you say?”

   “I hung up. Nothing to do with me. How do you think they got my number?”

   I arranged a meeting, alone, with the people at Savas International. I was invited to sit on the empty side of long conference table. Four faces were across from me.

   “Thank you. I assume one of you is a legal representative, one of you is on the board, or answers to the board of directors, one of you is from Finance, and one of you is here to take notes.”

   “You’re being recorded.” A deep-voiced, heavy-set man said. Lawyer.

   “I’m here on behalf of my wife, Isidora, daughter of the late Mr. Savas.”

   “If this about his estate, it’s not open to discussion. If you believe you have grounds, file a claim.”

   “No, that’s a lengthy process we have no interest in.”

    “Are we done?” A sharp suited woman spoke. Director.  

   The lawyer cautioned her to be patient.

   I began. “My wife got a call from someone asking if she had any confidence in the new leadership for Savas International.” I let that sit for a moment before continuing. “You know what she wants? My wife? It’s something that has no monetary value for any of you. She wants the ashes of her mother. The ashes are in a plain urn, not fancy. I’m sure it would not take a lot of effort to locate and get that to her.

   “Now, in the bigger picture, I was thinking how would it sit with the general public for your company, if it was said Mr. Savas gave you everything, and denied his daughter that ashes of her mother? A woman he had been estranged from for over fourteen years?

   “But like I said, that we could clear up easily.”

   “We can her that, I’m sure.”  Said another face at the table. Finance.

   I stopped, and smiled. The faces exchanged glances. Before they could come to adjourn, I started again. “Now, whether you believe me or not, I never intended to go after Mr. Savas’ money. I met his daughter swimming at the University pool and when I asked her out my ambitions had nothing to do with money. But ‘my vantage doth invite me’.

   “I’m asking for more. For her. She got this call from the media raising concerns about your leadership. What you may wish to consider is a continuity in your leadership, at least on paper. You might place Isidora on your board, and give her whatever compensation is given for such a position. That would be a warm, friendly, message for your stakeholders.

  “The other narrative, of course, is that her father disowned her, and would not even let her have her mother’s ashes, and that Savas International also disowns her. That’s the message I’ve gotten so far, it just hasn’t caught up to the media.”

   The fourth person spoke. “Why don’t we arrange another meeting, soon, and we’ll get back to you?” Not someone to take notes. Someone from their Media Relations department. Someone I could count on to make my argument for me.

   “Okay, before you talk amongst yourself, I have one other thing.”

   The faces looked at me.

   “Someone has to tell her.”

   “She’s your wife, isn’t she?” The Director said.

   “Yeah, but she doesn’t know I‘m here. So, one of you has to tell her, because when she finds out she’s going to kill me.”        

February 15, 2023 00:36

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2 comments

Mike Rush
02:24 Feb 24, 2023

David, I've just read a story about a handgun at a middle school, and then an archeologist who is buried in the tomb he's excavating while trying to steal something from a mummy. So this story seemed mighty tame, but I'm probably stuck in comparison mode. You did a great job painting the father as a piece of dirt. And I just love it when a lawyer grabs a corporation by its, well, low-hanging lack of conscience. So many Grisham books have that story element. I had the sneaking suspicion that the phrase, "my vantage doth invite me," was a...

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Viga Boland
17:28 Feb 18, 2023

Another clever and well-plotted story from you David. Most enjoyable, especially with the twist. But dare I suggest closer proofreading before submitting? I hate seeing good stories spoiled by lack of proofreading, after doing that myself when I published my first book. That was a “mea culpa” wake-up call for me that I needed to have BEFORE publication 😂

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