5.00am, Friday, eighty hours in; Dee steps into Plan B
Thursday uneventful, Dee went to bed early, waking too early on Friday morning to straight away walk out for coffee. After taking a long shower, Dee lingered in the bathroom spending extra time on her hair and her face, finally slipping into the personalized torn jeans and bulky sweater her parents brought down on Tuesday, familiar and comfortable, although the sweater continuously threatened to slip off her shoulders and the jeans that once clung tightly to a great ass now so baggy as to render her shapeless.
Dee walked into the bedroom saying to Ivy, “The time?” while she looked out a window for a trace of sunrise – none yet.
Only sixteen minutes today, the walk for the two speedsters, the pair making it to the Bun in time to witness the unlocking of the doors, “Not nearly as ceremonious as it should be,” Dee thinking, joining that first rush of patrons, the truly addicted, securing her preferred table in the rear, setting her had-it-forever camel-hair coat to her right on the banquette.
Dee, waiting for Ivy, she at the service counter waiting for Dee’s coffee, watched a glistening red Jaguar sedan, incongruous in these parking spaces, pull in to one of them and disgorge a flowing overcoat, covering a tall-as-Dee designer-suited, well-coiffed, high-heeled, thirty-five-year-old woman, a large Gucci bag slung over her shoulder. Dee took the first sips of her first coffee still watching the Jaguar making her way into the café; and Ivy, taking the chair opposite Dee, turned to join the watch.
From across the room, “Café au lait, skim milk, please,” well-spoken, nice smile, and efficient payment all noted, Ivy and Dee chuckling at their audacity. But by handing Ms. Jaguar her coffee, the barista changed the equation: the surveyed turned surveyor.
Heels tapping her progress across the grey-tiled floor, she passed several available tables, stopping at the table on Dee’s left, against the wall enveloping the deep inside of the café. She might have chosen the catbird seat with its clear view across the tables to the parking strip and street beyond, beside Dee, but eschewed those positives, instead, setting her gorgeous purple overcoat on the banquette to sit on the chair beside Ivy, diagonally across from Dee making a threesome, except that Ivy suddenly excused herself, surprising Dee who stared after Ivy before turning her attention to the café au lait in the Jaguar’s hand, watching as Jaguar tasted it and reacted, “Mmm,” deliberately holding Dee. “First cup of the day,” setting the cup down, looking up at Dee, saying, “Pardon the intrusion, Diana.”
A mystery. “Do I know you?”
“I’m Isabel Guffy,” she usurping Ivy’s chair at Dee’s table, swinging her coffee in front of herself. “Please forgive my clumsy introduction. I’m your late aunt’s attorney. Perhaps your parents mentioned that I’d be talking with you?”
Dee nodded, firmly shaking Guffy’s hand, “Call me Dee, please.”
“Oh, sorry. Ivy didn’t tell me you preferred a nickname.”
“Ivy? How do you know…Isabel, what are you doing here? Did you bring your Ouija board? …Sorry. Bad joke. My father said you’re bearing a message from beyond the grave.”
“Ha! I never thought of wills like that. But sure. I do. From your late Aunt Clara. Who could never have a conversation without spending half the time extolling your praises. And your powers.” Guffy expected Dee to respond but continued in her business tone before the silence grew uncomfortable.
“Last year your aunt and I drew up and executed her Last Will and Testament; and last week that document was admitted as such into the Probate Court, the Judge also naming me the executor of the estate as specified in the will. My duty is to see to it that your aunt’s bills and taxes are paid, and to distribute the rest of her estate to her heirs. I’m here to formally notify you that she left the bulk of her estate to you, and to give you a bunch of cash now for spending money, and to answer any questions you might have.”
“And you drove, from where, to be here, miles from nowhere, at six o’clock on a cold winter’s morning to do this?”
Glancing left and right, lowering her voice, “Ordinarily I would have waited, but an estate this size has a life of its own.” Pause. “Boston. I’m from Boston; drove down last night, spent overnight in a dreary, unwarm, unpleasant motel down the road a piece,” sipping, looking at Dee.
“Shouldn’t you be talking to my parents?”
“I did, some days ago. Because until you turn eighteen they will be trustees of your money. But they wanted you to hear the details directly from me – sort of ease you into taking charge of your affairs.”
“Taking charge of my affairs is not at all the way I want to spend my time. Still, this seems a lot of effort on your part. I should thank you for it. Thank you. Sounds like a lot of money.”
Dee sat back, wide-eyed. “I knew my Aunt Clara was well-off. But a fortune?”
“Yes. By anyone’s standard.”
“How did my sweet seamstress aunt accumulate a fortune to leave us?”
“No, not us, Dee. Not your family. She did leave your brother nearly six million dollars but she left the lion’s share of her estate to you. How much exactly and how she made it? Your parents will enjoy telling you that themselves.” While she spoke, Isabel took a six-by-eight manila envelope from the shoulder bag sitting on her lap, and set it between them on the table, saying softly, “There’s a small envelope inside with the two thousand dollars in hundreds, twenties, and a few smaller bills. The money is a random amount to get cash into your pocket.”
“Random is good,” lightly touching the envelope, noting the diamond Isabel wore on her declaration finger. “Are you engaged?”
Guffy admired the ring and smiled. “It’s my mother’s. I wear it when I want to minimize contact.” Again, reaching into her bag, Isabel retrieved a smaller, four-by-six manila from which she slid out a MasterCard, handing it to Dee along with a pen, saying, “Please sign the back.” Dee took the plastic, read “Diana Mirabile,” turned it over and signed it, Isabel saying, “The card has no limit. After you activate it, you can buy yourself a car, any car, and a lot more; and no one will blink.”
“I’m finding all of this a little overwhelming; and I’m embarrassed my first reactions are so petty.”
“I’ve very recently decided that I want to be known as ‘Dee.’ I’d like my new name on anything that identifies me, including the credit card; but I begrudge taking the time to get my name changed on my credit cards, driver’s license, and whatever. I have a mission that will structure my day and dealing with finances and legalese doesn’t fit in anywhere.”
Isabel wiped her lips and set her cup down. “Dee, there’s going to be a mountain of legal documents coming at you and your parents: from inheritance issues in Probate court, to tax returns, financial statements, investment summaries, and the like. If you want minimal involvement, you’ll need to engage a lawyer to run interference for you. For now, until you select one, I can take care of whatever needs doing. Immediately, I’ll file a change-of-name petition with the Court and call the bank to issue a new credit card. Is there anything else you’d like done right away?”
“Yes. But it’s not legal. I mean it’s not a legal matter.”
“That makes it more interesting to me,” Isabel, lifting her cup.
“Can you help me find an apartment in Boston? I don’t intend to ever return to Tyngsborough, so I need to find an apartment right away. Can you help me?”
“Nothing easier. But you understand that until you’re eighteen your parents must approve this type of thing?”
“Yes. Of course. But I want to tell them myself. So, get it done but please don’t bring it up until I have a chance to speak with them. A couple of days.”
“I know something about you from your aunt, so I’m not questioning your motives; but may I ask if your inheritance precipitated your wanting to move?”
“No, not at all. I had already decided. And I have no doubt my parents will go along with my decision; and no doubt that even without my aunt’s money my parents would support me. Of course, if I’m getting that much money, you might upgrade me to something luxurious.”
“Oh yes, my dear. It’s that much, and much more. So, where do you want to live? I live in Boston, downtown…”
“Yes. Downtown Boston. I want to live in the middle of things – it’s the most isolated,” Ivy joining them, setting down Dee’s second cortado, this one in a paper cup, shaking hands with Isabel, picking up Isabel’s coat to move it to the chair opposite, pausing to admire the workmanship before setting it down and sitting on the banquette.
“You two know each other?”
“We’ve spoken,” Ivy. “I’m not surprised Ms. Guffy showed up.”
“So, I’ll find you a luxury apartment, negotiate the terms, and prepare the paperwork. You and your parents will want to see the apartment before we sign a lease.”
“What do you want to tell me about the apartment you’d like?”
“The only important thing is that it has an enormous bedroom. I’m going to fit four single beds in it. And a good kitchen. You decide on everything else; I’ll complain later,” Dee’s eyes sparkling – the goodbying-Tyngsborough really happening.
“Let’s start with something short-term, like a furnished rental. From what I learned about you from your aunt I should look for a building with twenty-four/seven security.”
“Yes and yes. Was I clear that we’re talking moving in a couple of days from now? Well, several, at most.”
“I’ll arrange it so the apartment will be ready for you in the next forty-eight hours. When you’re ready to take possession all you’ll need is an overnight bag. You won’t have to deal with furniture or any fixing up whatever. If you want to hang a picture, I’ll get a contractor-handyman to get it done. And I’ll give you the name of my housekeeper to do your laundry and at least the heavy, once-weekly cleaning.
“We’ll get a six-month lease, enough time for you to decide on what type of apartment you’d finally like to live in. By then, you might even want to buy one instead of renting. Your own lawyer will help you decide that and handle all the details. Owning won’t be any more of a burden to you than renting, and will give you a free hand to customize it.”
“Oh my goodness! So much I haven’t thought of. Isabel, you’re exactly what I need right now. Why can’t you just stay my lawyer?”
“Really? I didn’t want to presume but I’d be honored to represent you. You’re comfortable with me?”
“Yes. I’m entirely comfortable with you. You’re like a genie,” the three of them laughing.
Isabel reached into her bag saying, “Alright. I’m truly delighted. That makes it doubly worth the drive down.” She separated one card from a mini-stack and wrote on the back of it. “Here’s my card with all my office contact information and, on the back, are the numbers of my private cell and home phones. You’re my only client who has these.” Isabel’s expression conveyed love, awe, and sympathy, she saying, “Your aunt made me a disciple before I even met you.”
Dee nodded, “Thank you,” took the card, and read it.
“I live and work downtown. As well as having a professional relationship, we’ll be neighbors. Rely on me to do anything I can to help and protect you. Call me any time, day or night, for anything, legal or not. I’ll be there for you.”
“I like you, genie,” wriggling the edges of the card between her thumb and index finger, looking at Isabel.
“I like you, too, Dee. We’ve done well for a first meeting; don’t you think?” Ivy standing. She picked up her coat and draped it over her right arm and, slipping her left through the straps of her shoulder bag, she reached across the table to shake hands with Dee saying, “I’ll head back to Boston now. I have a new client who requires a lot of attention.” She turned a bit to shake hands with Ivy, “Ivy, see you soon.” She picked up her coffee cup and, with a final, “I’ll be in touch,” retraced her steps through the café and back to the red car.
Dee stayed seated, and the pair lingered at the table. “You’re coming to the end of your stint here, my dear, and the beginning of a new life. Does it frighten you?”
“Yes. Terribly. And excite me, too.”
“Isabel sounds like someone you need.”
“Desperately. Like Sister Mary Margaret yesterday, and Doctor Nunzio, if he will ever call me.”
“He did, just a few moments ago. He’s on the road now and will arrive here at nine this morning.”
Dee grinned and rose. She swung her coat around her back and slid her arms into the sleeves. “In that case, let’s scoot back. I’d like a quick nap before he gets here.” Dee’s still hot paper cup in hand, they hit the road.