Save a Penny, Spend a Bullet (4-16-18)


[WP] Burying my mother was difficult on the family. Burying her again was harder. [Link to post.]


“This is how we all end up. No one knew that better than mom,” I stumbled my way through the half-assed speech I wrote. As the eldest sibling, her eulogy was my obligation. I stood at the podium behind my mother’s open casket and stared out the few attendees that stood with me in the cemetery that bright, sunny morning. My two brothers, Larry and Jerry, stood together wearing matching baby blue leisure suits. They always enjoyed playing up the twin angle due to their rhyming names, despite looking nothing alike and Larry being seven years older than Jerry. My sister Gina had the good taste to wear a black dress at least, though it was streaked with orange “cheese” dust from her fingers; she munched loudly on a bag of Doritos while I eulogized our mother. “She always did her best to provide for us, and I know she’ll be happy to know she could do it one last time on her way out.” I pushed the casket lid shut and nodded to the groundsmen standing by with shovels. One of them stepped forward.

“It’s customary for the family to lower the casket,” he said, nodding his head towards a crank. It was connected to a couple of pulleys using thin steel cables. I looked at my siblings, but they’d all already begun to walk off with their backs to me. I sighed and dug into my pocket.

“Uh. That looks hard. You do it.” I handed him four hundred dollar bills and trotted off to catch up with L.J., most of the time it was easier to think of them as one person, and Gina. Larry turned to look at me.

“We still got a couple of hours before the Will, Jerry and I are gonna hit the Chinese buffet.” Without another word L.J. veered off towards their car. I walked in relative silence with Gina for a bit, she wasn’t done with the chips yet. I broke the silence, hoping to get her to stop crunching for a bit.

“Man, that was the hardest thing I’d ever done,” I said. She giggled. 

“Putting her in the ground or poisoning her?” she asked, then crunched on another cheesy triangle. 

“Putting her in the ground. I had to give that guy $400, 100 from each of us by the way, just to turn the crank.” She stopped before putting the next chip in her mouth and stared at me. Her eyes narrowed.

“I didn’t agree to pitch in for anything,” she said. I couldn’t help but stare at the orange gunk collected between her teeth. 

“I’m the oldest, so the fortune is mine. You can get a fair share minus $100, or you can get nothing.” She threw the chip at my face and sulked off toward her car. 

Two hours later the four of us sat in the lawyer’s office waiting for an official declaration of our inheritance. L.J. changed out of their suits and wore matching t-shirts with blue jeans. Gina brought a new bag of chips with her. The only way I knew it was a new bag was because it was a different flavor, Cool Ranch. The fortune came out to two billion dollars left to me alone. 

My mother enjoyed encouraging healthy, violent competition among us. It’s how she made her fortune. Dad was a top tier assassin until she killed him. She picked up the family business until we killed her. She expected it to be me, but I made a deal with the rest of the sibs. I’d split it four ways, and nobody kills me or each other. We had the lawyer draw up our Wills in the same meeting, to discourage any further foul play. We all left our shares to someone else not in the family, and we all decided to go our separate ways. As we walked out of the lawyer’s office I stopped, stunned. The rest of them ran into me from behind. 

“L.J., how much poison did you use?” I yelled back over my shoulder. My mom stood in the parking lot looking particularly annoyed, and holding her favorite samurai sword. “I knew it was a bad idea to bury her with that,” I thought to myself. 

“Uh, I had Jerry do it,” Larry said. 

“I gave her the whole fish!” Jerry yelled from the back. Our mother started walking towards us.

“Fish?” I asked. Gina crunched on a chip while she watched mom walking towards us. 

“Yeah the guy at the sushi place said puffer fish was poisonous, and he gave it to me for free. Poison is expensive.”

“You idiot, she built up an immunity to tetrodotoxin,” I said. Mom was about to reach us, and she did not look any less angry. 

“You’re the idiot that rushed to get her in the ground and didn’t let the mortician prepare her properly,” Gina said, then popped another chip in her mouth before reaching into her bag again. 

“Yeah, you’re right,” I sighed. Mom stood within a step of us and raised her sword. 

BANG! Cool Ranch crumbs flew everywhere. I turned toward the sound to see smoke rising out of a hole in Gina’s bag. Mom fell over dead. 

“Let’s get her back to the cemetery,” I said. Gina walked off towards her car. 

“Hey, where you going?” I asked. She lifted her arm in the air to wave, without turning around.

“I already did my part. Have fun burying her again. I got my share and I’m not pitching in for anything.” 

“Damnit.” I realized I’d have to spend more money to get the guys to bury her again. More money divided three ways instead of four. It was going to be harder to spend that money this time. “C’mon L. J.” 

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