When making out your last will and testament,
you may consider what gifts you truly bestow.
you may consider what gifts you truly bestow.
Legacy by J.J. Sinisi
Of the worthy things housed within the split-level ranch at 1492 Eagle Way, none compared in price or beauty to the slumbering beast in its attached garage. There, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro had escaped the slow degradation of time through the grace of its now dead owner. Twin white racing stripes accelerated over the car’s trunk and, after battling across the high-shine finish of the roof, ended their heat in a tie off the lip of the hood. Your father used to call them the car’s arteries.
It should have been your inheritance; the one item on the embarrassingly short list of valuable things your father claimed, and parceled out, in his will that was rightfully yours. You drove together in that car for hours, going nowhere in particular. Instead, he left you a pair of handguns, granted, kept with the same scrupulous care, but still, you two never went shooting. Sure, he invited you, but Gavin was his true partner. They’d wake up early, travel east, far east, beyond the reach of the sycamore forest where your family’s house slept, and towards but just before the hard concrete of the city. There they fired away with glee at an outdoor range and when they returned home, they smelled of oil and gunpowder.
“It could have gone to me instead, you know? He could have left me the car, Gavin the guns and you the coin collection,” your sister says, seated at the kitchen table, her soft eyebrows dim in the darkness.
“I never liked that coin collection,” you say.
“I know, but it’s worth a lot of money. More than the guns certainly. Maybe not more than the car, but definitely more than the guns.”
“What? So you’re saying you want to trade?”
“No, that wouldn’t be right. He had his reasons. Gavin’s the oldest, maybe that’s why he got the Camaro. And when I was a little girl, I’d add the value of the coins as I helped him put them into their cases. He always tried to tell me they weren’t worth what the numbers on them said; he said the coins were liars.”
“He’d know best.”
She frowns. “Yeah, I guess he would. At least he didn’t leave anything to Carl.”
“Dad still owed him a lot of money. I hate to say it but, it’s not the worst thing that the bank is repossessing the house.”
“I didn’t know they weren’t square.”
“Nope. And Carl will take what he’s owed. Debt can be a kind of inheritance too.”
“Funny. And here I thought it was the only kind.”
“Just take the guns. Sell them. With your record and time away, it’s best if you just get rid of them anyway.”
She doesn’t attempt to explain his motives further. At no point in your relationship with him did you exhibit the thoroughness he expected in all of his children. Those traits were Gavin’s and Kristina’s other inheritance, his thick, thrusting blood of fortitude. It helped Gavin excel in sports and later in college, and now his office job calls for, above all else, an exacting attention to detail. Kristina’s propensity towards musical composition and performance earns her a modest but noble living. Their success is a tribute to the one thing of value your father couldn’t gamble away.
You say goodbye to your sister around midnight. You pour a warm glass of scotch. The crumpled photocopy of the old man’s will keeps you company but reveals nothing more of his intentions, even when you read it again and again while you push towards the bottom of the bottle. Beside the will, one of the two handguns stares at you with a lonely sidelong glance.
You pick up the weapon and open the slide, just the way he taught you. In the gun’s felt lined box, he also stored the bullets and a pair of fully charged clips. It glides in with amazing ease. The gun is flawless and gleams even in the muted streetlight through the blinds.
Another pull of the slide and it is ready to fire. For a moment, well, longer if you are being honest, you wish you had tried putting it in your mouth before installing the bullets. Just to see if it fit. But a loaded gun feels very different from an empty one.
You take your glass and your new gun and you walk into the living room and fall asleep amidst the arms of your father’s cushy brown chair that now belongs to the bank.
Something rustles the bush next to the backdoor, startling you awake.
It can’t be your sister. Her car is too old and too loud. Maybe it was Gavin. But he wouldn’t use the back door.
Voices, a pair. One isn’t familiar but you recognize the other. It sounds strangely like your father’s partner. Actually, that’s not strange at all is it?
Glass breaks and a lock tumbles.
Streetlight wanders aimlessly through the windows, bending around the furniture and the tree outside until shadows invade every corner and you know you can stay completely obfuscated by simply sitting still.
They enter on padded footfalls. Carl’s bushy sideburns capture the light; no one but him wears such anachronistic facial hair.
“Carl,” you say from blackness.
“Kid? That you kid?” You can hear his nervousness. He knows you’re the only dangerous one left alive.
“He gave the car to Gavin. The bank’s getting the house. There’s nothing left.”
“Just tell us where the keys are, you little shit.”
“You’re breaking and entering, Carl.”
You tell him to leave, and that you’re only asking once. He makes you ask twice after showing you a six-inch blade. You let the hidden gun respond to the threat. Three shots fire with exacting detail and meticulous attention to accuracy. They collapse and bleed.
You watch the bloody stream and think of it trickling down from your grandfather’s time in the war, meandering through your father’s three years in prison and your six, before filling your heart and pumping through your veins.
Your true inheritance.