|"You have it made," Christi said to her boyfriend, Darrel.
"Yeah, and it is about to pay off big time. All my life I had to listen to my old man give me advice about how I should invest my money. What stocks to buy, when to sell and on and on. It never stops with him. Now at last, he is about to kick the bucket. When he goes, everything is mine."
"Well," Christi amended, "everything is yours between you and your brother and your Mom."
"What a couple of losers. Why I got stuck with them I will never know. I never went a week without seeing one of them with Father, asking for a handout."
"What about you? You ever ask for a handout?"
"Hey, I'm the oldest son and as the oldest, I have responsibilities to the family. Mom sure as hell would never take care of us. All she does is travel the world. She keeps a dozen countries from going bankrupt with all she spends. She has dozens of furs, must be a ton of jewelry, and a fancy car for every day of the week. I use the money I squeeze outta pops to take care of us."
"Like the villa in Paris, the cabin in the Alps, and the yacht in Hawaii?"
"So, I give a little something to myself for all my troubles. I don't take half as much as they do."
Before they could talk anymore, there was a soft tap at the bedroom door. Christi pulled the blanket over her and Darrel jumped out of the bed and into his swimsuit before saying, "Yeah, come on in."
The door opened and the butler said, "Mr. Rivers, it is time. Your father wishes to speak to you."
Darrel waved him away and said, "Yeah, yeah. Tell him I'll be there in just a couple of minutes. I got to get dressed first."
"As you wish," the butler said as he turned away, closing the door behind him.
"Maybe he is going to tell us how he is dividing the loot up before he begins to rot," Darrel said as he slipped out of the swimsuit and started to dress.
"Why in the world are they allowed to build that thing?" Betsy Rivers asked.
"Have no idea, Mom," her youngest son, Robert, replied. "It sure is a big one."
Robert and his mother looked from the balcony to the rocket being constructed a dozen miles away from the estate. It was indeed big. Almost as big as the Apollo rockets that took people to the moon.
"Your Dad has always been interested in astronomy. He told me that he has built a large scope and is sending it into space so everyone can see the stars better."
"Damn it, Mom. That thing has to cost over a billion dollars."
"I know, but let your father have his silly little dream. He will have a telescope floating around in space, and we will still be stranded here on Earth, with only the nine billion he has left after paying for that stupid thing to comfort us in his absence."
They both laughed as they went to see David Rivers, husband to one and father to the other.
When they entered the bedroom, David Rivers lay in the bed where a half a dozen bags had plastic tubes with an assortment of different liquids dripping into his veins. There were already a dozen people around him. Betsy knew several of them. There were a couple of his lawyers, and a few detectives that did work for David on occasion. There were also his doctor and nurse. The rest were accountants that knew where every dime of David Rivers's money and other assets were. David spent a few minutes scribbling his signature on several papers the attorneys handed to him while his family watched. The table next to him was thick with documents he had already signed. When he signed the last one, he said, "Gentlemen, ma'am, If you would leave me with my family for a short time, I want to say goodbye to them."
The crowd around the dying man hurried out of the room. In less than a minute, the Rivers family was alone.
David Rivers did his best to smile. It was difficult because he was so weak. "It won't be long. In forty-eight hours at most, I will be dead, and all I have will be yours."
"Dad, they come up with new cures and medicines every day. There could be a breakthrough in the next hour that will save you," Robert said.
"Cut the crap and the false concern," David answered. "I'm dying and all the money in the world will not save me."
"What was with all those attorneys and accountants?" Betsy asked. Then she added, louder than she intended, "You are not doing something stupid are you, like giving all your money away to some charity or something like that?"
"No, Betsy, my dear wife. I am not giving away a single penny. When I die, the only thing I will take with me is what I am buried with. Everything else is to be divided equally among you three."
David could see the three with him ease up as they heard that.
"There is only one thing I ask of the three of you. I want to die in peace. I cannot do that with you around. Betsy, my sweet wife. Every time I look at you all I see is a money grabbing bitch. You cheat on me at every chance and take advantage at every opportunity."
When Betsy started to protest, David said, "Now, none of that. Let's not have the last thing you ever say to me be a lie. You know it and I know it."
He turned his head as much as he could to look at his sons. "Robert, you have gambled away millions and have millions that you owe bookies around the world. The only reason you are not already dead is they know I am dying and you are getting ready to inherit a third of the estate. You can pay them off a hundred times and still have money left. You would think that every now and then, just by blind luck, you would pick a winner. But no, all you pick is losers. I guess that is the way it should be. You are about the biggest loser this world has ever seen."
"How can you know all of this?" Robert asked.
"I knew I was dying six years ago. That is why I started building that rocket. I wanted to leave something behind people would remember me by. I mean leave something good, not a trio of lying, thieving leeches like you. For over a year now, I've had accountants, lawyers, and detectives looking at everything you three have been doing. I have days of videos of the three of you. There is my dear wife, Betsy, sleeping with a different man every month. There is you, Robert, making and losing bets, and telling the bookies you will pay off your markers with interest within a week of my funeral."
He moved his eyes to Darrel. "My oldest son. When you were born, I had such high hopes for you. I gave you the best education and saw that you had the top of the line of all there is. Perhaps that is where I made my mistake. Maybe if I made you sweat a little when you were younger, you would not have grown into the biggest parasite it has been my misfortune to ever know. My people looked into all your doings. I know all about the houses and cars, a different woman in every city you bury in condos and luxuries. What a fool you are. You think because you give them a king's ransom in wealth, they will be faithful to you. Idiot."
"Why do you speak so cruelly to us?" Betsy shouted.
"I don't speak half as cruelly to you as you deserve."
David gave a small, dry laugh. It started a series of coughing that lasted almost a minute before he was able to breathe once again. "I only ask one thing of you. Leave here until I die. Go to Hawaii or Paris or wherever the hell you want to go. Just let me have my last hours in peace without having to worry that one of you will come in and steal the dust off the window sill."
David pushed the button to summon his doctor. He used most of his remaining strength to shoo his family away.
Three days later, Robert was in Chicago. He screamed in disgust when the Chicago Bulls missed the three point shot at the buzzer.
"That's another four hundred thousand you owe me," his bookie said.
Before Robert could answer, his cellphone rang. He held up his hand to his bookie as he flipped the phone opened. "What is it?"
The bookie and his two enforcers with him saw the huge smile that came to his face.
"Be there by nightfall," he said into the phone before flipping it closed. He glanced at the men with him as he said, "That old fart dad of mine is gone. Died two hours ago. The reading of the will is at one o'clock tomorrow afternoon. Within twenty-four hours after that, I will be back here and pay off every cent I owe, along with interest."
"Good. You have until one PM day after tomorrow. After that, we look for you."
"No problem," Robert said as he ran out of the door to get a cab.
The next afternoon, the Rivers family met at the office of David Rivers' attorney. On the outer office wall was a big sign that read: John Miller, Attorney at Law. They walked into the office. A half a dozen deputy sheriffs stood along the far wall.
"Good afternoon," John Miller said. "Please let me express my condolences for your loss."
"Do not waste our time," Betsy said. "I have things to do."
"Very well. Let's get started. Please sit where ever you like," John Miller said.
"Now if you wish, I will read David Rivers last will and testament to you, or if you prefer, I can just tell you what it states."
"Just tell us who gets what," Darrel said.
"Very well. The three of you get everything. All that is left of the estate is yours. You are to get a third of it each. You should be able to divide it up easily enough."
"Sure thing," Darrel said. "Let's head to the mansion and see who wants what."
Before he was all the way up, Miller said, "Mr. Rivers, you no longer have the mansion to go to, it has been sold."
"What the hell do you mean, it has been sold?" Robert asked.
"Just that. The mansion has been sold. Along with everything else I might add. Every single share of stock and each bond was sold. The properties, the paintings, the boats, the jewelry, the cars, the businesses, everything. Before you leave, you will turn over all your jewelry to the deputies waiting at the door. Legally those items belonged to your father. He sold them and the new owners want to take possession right away."
"I'm not giving you shit," Darrel shouted.
"You will place everything on the table before you leave," Miller said. "If not, the deputies will remove the items from your person and then arrest you for contempt of court. Here, this might help." Miller handed them each a court order saying they had to surrender the items they wore, with the exception of their clothing, over to David Rivers attorney.
"Your cars have already been driven away," Miller added.
"That son of a bitch was out of his mind, "Betsy stated.
"On the contrary. A month ago, David Rivers had three independent psychiatrists examine him. All three gave written statements that David Rivers was of sound mind," the attorney said while pulling several documents out of a folder and handing them to the three with him.
"Selling everything at only two percent of its value is not of sound mind," Robert yelled.
"While Mr. Rivers did sell everything at a reduced price to get rid of it quickly, he did sell at market value. The extreme low end of market value I grant you, but still at a fair price."
"All right. The bastard sold everything at low market value. Still, that has to be five to six billion dollars in cash. That makes it easy to divide up."
"Normally I would agree with you. However, Mr. Rivers took it a couple of more steps. The first thing he did was convert the cash to gold. Over sixty tons of it."
"No problem," Darrel piped in. "Gold is the easiest thing in the world to cash in. Hell, we could gain ten percent in a single day under the right market conditions."
"Once more you are correct," Miller said. "That is where Mr. Rivers next step comes in." He looked at his watch and said, "It is time. Follow me please."
The four of them walked to a large window and looked out of it. "I believe it is that way," Miller said as he pointed.
"What are you talking about?" Betsy said.
"Just a moment, please." John Miller looked up from his watch to the horizon.
Then, the sky seemed to catch on fire as a huge blast occurred in the distance. They saw the rocket as it shot into space.
"So he got his telescope up. Too bad he was not around to see it," Robert said.
"I am afraid you are misinformed. There was no telescope on the rocket. Only the body of Mr. Rivers."
"That is one hell of a big ship to only carry a corpse into space."
"Oh, no, Ms. Rivers. There is much more than his body on the rocket. He went to each of your safety deposit boxes and emptied them out, along with all your bank accounts. This includes all the various accounts you have in other cities and other countries and under the different names you tried to hide them under. All of your credit cards have been canceled. Mr. Rivers hired outstanding detectives. They found everything. The jewelry at your homes, the safes you had cash and bonds in, everything, absolutely everything was found. Not a single penny was left. It was all exchanged for gold and the gold is on the rocket with Mr. Rivers. It is on a course that will take it out of this solar system and eventually, millions of years from now, out of the galaxy."
John Miller looked at the shocked faces on the people with him. "Ever hear the expression, 'You can't take it with you?' Well, David Rivers did."