By: Dan O’Shea
“That poor girl,” his sister Sandra, between sips of her Pinot Noir. The second one. She’d sent back the first glass, saying she expected something a little less insouciant, whatever that meant. The story was running the TV over the bar, an 18-year-old gone missing from Bar Harbor, her graduation picture on the screen, the usual tearful pleas from the family. Sandra said “that poor girl” with the same transparent banality that informed all her language. She didn’t know or care about the girl, or about anything really. But she said the things she was supposed to say to whom she was supposed to say them, which was more than enough to get by on in the social skills department, seeing as how the first $20 million hit her trust fund when she turned 18, the next $50 million when she hit 21, and something north of $100 million this past week, when her father had died unexpectedly.
Hastings knew. Because the same amounts had hit his trust funds at the same ages and for the same reasons. Richard North Roberts had been his father, too. But Sandra didn’t know anything about him, either. Hastings did. And now he was here, in this bar, with his banal, empty-headed sister and his blow-hard asshole brother trying to sort out the remainder of the spoils. The real assets – the cash, the securities, the trading accounts, the main family homes in New York City, the Hamptons, France – the disposition of those all had been addressed in the living trust. But there several million in odds and ends – cars, some of the art, the wine collection, a few other things – that the old man never bother to deal with. The old man was not driven by his things.
“I say screw the lot of it,” said Harold. “Auction off the whole pile and we split the take. You want anything, then bid on it with the rest of the schlubs.”
“I want the cabin,” Hastings said.
“Then bid on the cabin,” Harold said.
“What cabin?” said Sandra.
“Fucking dump up on that pond in Maine. Dad bought it way back, before he’d made a serious pile. I haven’t been there since I was maybe six. You woulda still be shitting yourself. Dad probably forgot he had it, or he would have rolled it in with the rest of the real estate.”
“Dad knew he had it,” said Harold. “I’ve been up there with him every year.”
“Congatu-fucking-lations, Hasty,” said Harold. “We all know you were Daddy’s little butt-boy, ready to go off on his fucking hunting trips and shit with him. Doesn’t give you any special claim.”
“It’s all I want. It’s worth a quarter million at best. I take the cabin and you can take me out of the mix for the rest of the shit. Even if you end up auctioning all that crap off, then your take just went up by almost a third.”
“You understand it doesn’t matter how much you impress everybody with your daddy love? You screw yourself out of a pile here, don’t come back whining later, looking for another taste just ‘cause you wanted everyone to know how much you loved the old bastard.”
Hasting pulled a document out of his jacket pocket. Two copies, three pages each. It gave him undisputed rights to the cabin and its contents in exchange for abrogating his claim to any other items in the estate not covered by the living trust. He slid it across the table to Harold.
“Sign this and it won’t matter what I whine about. You two split the rest.”
Harold read through the document, quickly once, then slowly. “Don’t know what you’re trying to pull here, dipshit, but fine.” He took a fountain pen from his pocket and signed both copies, and slid them across the table to his sister. She signed them, too.
Harold grabbed the girl who was waiting on them by the arm as she passed and handed her the pen. “Hey, sweetheart, sign these where it says witness and your tip goes up by a hundred bucks.” She signed.
“Congratulations you dumb fuck,” Harold said. “You just screwed yourself out something like $6 million.”
Hastings got up from the table. “Closer to seven, Harold. I had valuations done, too. Make sure you’ve read paragraph seven.” Paragraph seven forbid either sibling from ever setting foot in the cabin or on its grounds without express, written permission. “I’m done here.” He got up and left the bar. The cabin was a six-hour drive from Boston.
The unpaved drive ran almost a mile from Route 3 down to Sheepscott Pond, and the property stretched ten acres in each direction. Every important lesson Hastings had learned, he had learned here. He was the only one who understood his father, his commitment to his craft. Harold, the first born, with his gift for bombast, assumed his own primacy, but would learn otherwise in three days when the board met and he was voted out. Hastings would run Roberts Funds, and Harold would also learn that the condo in New York he’d lived in all these years was titled to the company. Hastings would order him out inside a week – Harold could use some of his millions to find a new place where he did not pollute his father’s memory.
The hunt. That’s what mattered. Understanding your quarry, its habits and its habitats. The patience to be still, the commitment to execute effectively and with singleness of purpose. And the strength of will to never quail about the kill. What you killed, you earned. His father had taught him that.
The girl from Bar Harbor was on the TV again, but not the high school picture. The monitor above the fireplace showed her nude, straining against the bonds attached to the wall of the cellar beneath the cabin that he and his father had built together.
She would be his first kill alone. She was his birthright.