I HAVE AN ETERNITY AHEAD OF ME
(Intermittent Waves Recorded From The Transformed Heart Of A Woman)
AUNT YONNY: SINS OF THE FATHER, part 2
The alarm was going off on the clock on top of the bedside table. Zenobia groaned, reached over Hal , grabbed it and began a full outright assault to silence it, yanking it around and punching buttons. Finally, she slammed it down. Hal rolled over, found the right button and ended the battle. Zenobia covered her head with her pillow and went back to sleep.
Hal noticed she was sleeping in later and later. When he asked her about it, she looked at him irritatingly and said that the baby was taking all of her energy. Of course, being a man and never having experienced pregnancy, he knew he better not question her about the matter or her reasoning again, if he knew what was good for him. He simply got out of bed and went to work, giving her a kiss each day before he would leave.
He had been excited at the news of the pregnancy, but, he was finding it hard to keep up the enthusiasm about becoming a father with Zenobia behaving differently. Mornings were definitely not her best time of day, but, lately, afternoons, and evenings hadn’t gone too well between them, either.
Today, he had to be in full body armor so to speak, ready to be at court and take on the other faction of his family, the Barrett Brothers and Derek Graves. He definitely didn’t want to see Derek Graves since he and Rachel were seeing one another. He told himself that he wasn’t jealous. He had Zenobia now. They were pregnant and about to be married and be a family. They would be happy, as happy as he had seen his mother and father be sometimes. When Hal would find her crying, his mother would always say that marriage isn’t always sunshine and roses. She’d tell him not to worry and that she and his father would work things out and they would always be together.
Hal figured that he and Zenobia were just going through a cloudy period and the sunshine and roses would return again soon. Zenobia was a gorgeous woman and she certainly handled things around the house well. He was a lucky man, he said to himself. Then, he remembered what his grandfather always said, “There’s no such thing as luck, Hal. That’s a worldly way of thinking. We are in God’s hands and He is in control.”
After showering, splashing on his favorite cologne and putting on his best suit, Hal kissed Zenobia and went downstairs. He knew his father would be up and busy reading the morning paper. Stopping to get coffee, he turned down a breakfast plate from the chef and went to sit out on the terrace with his father.
“Good morning, Hal. How is Zenobia doing?”
“Good morning, Hal, How is Zenobia doing? Don’t you care about your son anymore?”
“Yeah, but, I can see that you’re alright. You’re all dressed up and smelling good, looking like a shiny new penny. I don’t get to see Zenobia in the mornings since you made her sick.”
“Dad, I’m not going to let you ruin my morning. I know you love me and I love you. Zenobia is fine, just dealing with morning sickness, that’s all.”
“If I had to sleep with a stinky, slobbery man, I’d be sick, too.”
Hal held in his laughter. He wasn’t going to encourage his father to humor himself at his expense.
“I’m just going to sit here and drink my coffee, old man, enjoying your company. I’ve got to get going soon. I need to stop by my lawyers office before we go to court.”
“Oh, yeah. I can still go with you if you want me to.”
“No, Dad. I don’t want you anywhere near Derek Graves, or Everett and Conner Barrett.”
“You don’t have to protect me son…”
“I’m not protecting you from them, I’m protecting them from YOU!”
“You’ve got that right, son. Why…I’ll give them the old one-two like Muhammad Ali–kinfolk or not. Are you going to tell them you’re related today? I want to be there to see their faces.”
“Yeah, I bet you do. I don’t know, Dad. It depends on if we have to.”
“I think you should tell them, especially Derek Graves. That’s the one I want to watch to see his expression when you tell him that you’re cousins. I want to give him a kiss on the mouth and put my blackness all over him.”
“Dad, you are sick.”
“It is what it is, son. It is what it is. Please let me go with you. I can get dressed in a hurry.”
“I’m sorry, Dad, but, I can’t trust you.”
“Can’t trust me?! What a terrible thing to say about your father after all I’ve done for you. You could trust me then.”
“Yes, and I appreciate everything you’ve done for me, but, this? It’s time for me to do something for you. These Graves aren’t to be trifled with. Miriam and Arturo are dead and I know they had something to do with it. Please, dad. Trust me this time.”
The hearing went faster than expected. Mr. Wellington’s attorney had presented the judge with two cases of files and legal documents to review weeks before the hearing. Theodore Wellington arrived looking very rested and confident. Hal had brought Steve with him, along with his regular body guards and the legal team recommended by Mr. Wellington.
Everett and Conner Barrett arrived, glaring at Hal, but, there was no sign of Derek Graves. Hal hadn’t kept up with Derek’s campaigning. He didn’t have time for it in his busy schedule. He left that up to his father, who was determined to do whatever he could to keep him from being elected president.
The attorneys were each given an opportunity to present any new information and formally state their case. After asking several questions, to each attorney, the judge took about fifteen minutes sorting out papers to file and talking to his clerk.
Hal was extremely nervous. Leaning on the table, he started pulling and clenching his hair, then caught himself. He looked up and saw Everett and Conner laughing and snickering at him, enjoying seeing him sweat.
Then, the judge asked both counselors to come to the bench. The Barrett’s attorney returned to his seat looking furious. Hal noticed his attorney, Mr. Petway, had a smile on his face. Then, the judge spoke. Hal’s heart sunk before he heard and processed the words.
” Mr. Everett Barrett and Mr. Conner Barrett, my heart goes out to you for the loss of your mother. However, it seems that she was a very organized and cautious woman who had prepared for this very day. I thank the defendant’s attorney’s for giving me time to review all of these documents pertaining to the case and both attorneys for complying with the courts demands and procedures. I have reviewed the case thoroughly and compared it to its predecessors.
Although, it is sometimes unusual for a mother to alter her will to leave her children out or diminish their inheritance, it is certainly not illegal. I find no valid evidence and the plaintiffs’ attorney’s have not provided any evidence supporting the claims that Mrs. Barrett was incompetent and incapable of understanding the changes that Mr. Wellington assisted her in making to her will. She was wise enough to have several psychological examinations before she changed her will. These doctors are in agreement to the soundness of her mind and her comprehensive abilities. Her regular physician finds no physical illness that would have impaired her cognitive abilities. They are all very highly respected and awarded in their field of study and have all provided tests, results, and statements as indisputable evidence of her competence.
As for Mr. Wellington and Mrs. Barrett’s relationship. Mr. Wellington had been her attorney for many years handling her affairs and her late husband’s. Never in that time was there any complaint against him regarding his competence in doing so, or any records to show that he mishandled her husband’s or her affairs in any way. Mr. Wellington says that their personal relationship was never a secret and that they had been having an affair well before her husband had died. During that time, they chose to continue to lead separate lives to prevent things from becoming complicated.
Mr. Wellington’s attorney has presented statements from Mrs. Barrett’s friends, employees, and staff at her son’s institutional care center who will testify that Mr. Wellington was a constant companion of Mrs. Barrett’s, often accompanying her to visit her son. Her employees and household staff are willing to testify to her competence and that her sons did not live with her, rarely visited, or checked on her, and therefore couldn’t possibly know enough about her state of mind during the time she was changing her will.
Her friends and the director of the psychiatric institution are willing to testify that Mrs. Barrett informed them of the changes to her will well in advance and asked them to support her decision if there were to be any dispute about her will when she passed away. She assured them that she had not been coerced or influenced by anyone to make these changes and states this in a separate letter of her own that accompanied theirs. These letters were written, signed in the presence of a notary, and then sealed in a safe deposit box, not to be opened until after her death. There is no record at the bank of anyone tampering with them. The letters have been verified by the court and are valid.
As Mr. Wellington has not benefited from the changes in the will and a stipulation has been included in the will forbidding his personal profit, I see no reason to believe that he personally coerced or influenced Mrs. Barrett to change her will in favor of Mr. Siegfried. There also seems to be no accusations or evidence with intent to prove that Mr. Wellington had any grudge or ill-feelings toward Mr. Conner Barrett or Mr. Everett Barrett.
In Mrs. Barrett’s statement, she portrays herself as a longtime patron of the arts, a philanthropist, a writer, an admirer of journalism since childhood, and an admirer of Mr. Siegfried’s work. With these things in mind, she had long planned to find someone such as Mr. Siegfried, whose character, skills, and level of expertise could help her establish her own journalistic platform to leave her legacy.
The state laws are very clear in what determines an illegal will and the plaintiffs’ attorney’s have failed to present valid evidence that can prove the will was constructed in an illegal manner. After the will was constructed, Mrs. Barrett had the will reviewed by another law firm, who found everything to be constructed properly and in order. Their statement has also been submitted to the court.
Now, perhaps, the question is, why Mrs. Barrett thought she had to use such extreme measures to secure her will and prove it to be valid before she was murdered. I understand her murder case is still open. However, this is not the courtroom for that matter.”
“I rule in favor of the defendant, Harold (Hal) Siegfried.”
“This isn’t over Everett. We have other options.”