Be Nice to Your Mother…

A house in Preston Hollow

The Drummond Estate

A New Home for Mother

Mimi Drummond had it all. A nice mansion in the exclusive Preston Hollow neighborhood, a driver from a car service employed to take her wherever she wanted to go, and a quarter billion dollars left by her late husband to help pay for everything. Unfortunately, she also had two spoiled and more than greedy stepsons. Mimi, only 25 at the time, had married widower Maxwell Drummond two years after the death of his first wife. He was 30 years her senior, but they had dreamed of growing old together, enjoying the fruits of Max’s well calculated bond investments. “Bonds are the way to go, Mimi. Very liquid. Some are tax-free. That’s why I keep most of them locked up in the safe. Less hassle than banks, too,” he would say.

They had been living the dream for only 5 short years, when Max passed on due to “natural causes,” which really meant too many years of fried food and stress. Mimi would have given up everything to have her Max back, but for now, she would have to deal with two scheming relatives hell bent for leather in their quest to bypass his last will and testament. She would not have his wishes usurped.

Charles Drummond walked out of the bank manager’s office, carefully putting an envelope into the inside pocket of his suit coat. Unholstering his cell phone, he called his brother, Tim. “I have the cash….no, there was no problem. The manager had his price just like the doctor….Good, you find a lawyer to draw up the papers, but whatever you do, don’t….I know, I know, you aren’t stupid…Okay, fine, just get it done…..I’m on my way to see the doctor, we could have this all wrapped up by the end of the week….No, I haven’t talked to Slim yet. If he knew I had the money, he’d send over a goon or two. Don’t worry, we’ll pay him back in full in a week or two. Everybody wins.”

Mimi knew that the stepsons were devastated when they had heard the terms of the will. Any normal person would be happy to have $50,000 a year for life, but these boys were not normal. Even the possible increase to $100,000 under the condition of obtaining meaningful employment “requiring the wearing of a suit and tie at all times” proved to be too much. Their mother had spoiled them, against the better judgment of Max. He had seen how they drank their way through an easy, “safety” college, getting nondescript degrees in “General Studies” and then proceeded to avoid working in any type of job that required, well…work. Then there was the gambling. Mimi’s driver, Raul, mentioned that “the boys” were getting in over their head, and also in with the wrong crowd. She guessed it would only be a matter of time before they used their few remaining brain cells to concoct a plan to get rid of her to save their own skin.

Charlie walked up to the receptionist at mental health clinic. After some chit chat and unsuccessful flirting with the young lady, he sat down. He had met the doctor once before, in a hotel bar at a medical convention in Houston last month. He was surprised, yet very glad, how easily the doctor agreed to find Mimi “incompetent to handle her own affairs.”  The price seemed reasonable and today was the down payment. All he needed was one signature.

“Mr. Drummond, how nice to see you again. Let’s step back into my private office, shall we?”

“Of course. Thank you for seeing me in these trying family times. Mimi just isn’t her old self these days, you know…”  Charles wanted to throw that bone out there within earshot of the receptionist. If anyone asked questions, she would be able to say truthfully that it appeared that Charlie was there to discuss the failing mental faculties of Mimi Drummond.

Once safely ensconced inside the office, the doctor opened a briefcase, pulling out a thick binder of papers. “Alright, let’s see. Here we have the commitment papers, already signed. Do you have your paperwork?”

Reaching into his coat pocket, Charlie liberated the envelope containing a stack of Franklins, $10,000 in total. The doctor glanced at it but did not take the money at first. “Okay, just we both know what’s going on here. Last month you asked me to prepare papers on your mother, sight unseen, to commit her to the state mental hospital, in exchange for $20,000. I have the paperwork here, but realize, Mr. Drummond, that once I take this payment, my license is on the line. This is illegal, very illegal. I just wanted to know that you understood what you are asking me to do here.”

Sensing some hesitation from the doctor, Charlie reassured him. “Look, doc. My brother and I have this planned out extremely well. Once the judge grants us the power of attorney over her finances, you will get the other half of the money and Tim and I will sell then mansion and move to Brazil. Once we get there, we’ll find a couple of girls, we’ll both get married and have a kid or two. By that time, we will be bulletproof.”

“How so?”

“They have a law that prohibits any parent of a Brazilian child to be extradited to another country. Plus, everyone has a price; we’ll pay off whoever we need to. Your name will never come up again. Trust me.”

“Well, it does seem like you have thought this out in advance and have planned for everything. Alright, here you go,” he said, sliding the paperwork across the desktop toward Charlie.

The doctor glanced at the clock on the wall. He started to become a bit edgy.

“Have another appointment, doc?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact I do. I was hoping to get this over with before anyone else saw that you were here.”

“No worries, man. I have the papers and you have the cash. This is a done deal.”

“A nasty business, though.”

“Well, I’ll throw in another 10k if it’ll help you get over it…”

Glancing back at the clock, the doctor replied “No, that’s okay. I have what I need. Don’t want to get greedy. I do, however, have to meet someone so if you wouldn’t mind taking the back stairs out to the parking lot?”

“Sure thing, doc. It’s been a pleasure…” With that, Charles Drummond left, with success on his mind.

Mimi hung up the phone, then turned to Raul, saying “Phase one of the plan seems to be complete, Raul.  Is the car packed?”

“Yes, ma’am. Everything has been packed. When did you want to leave?”

“I’m just waiting on my friend Flora to call me from the courthouse coffee shop. That’ll be phase two. When will your brother get here?”

“He’s just down the street, working on a lawn or two. His truck can be here on a moment’s notice.”

“Thank you, Raul. I knew I could count on you. You know, I never knew you had so many talents.”

“I sold real estate before the downturn. The company went under so the only job available at the time was chauffer. Same thing happened with my brother; he was an investment banker. Now he’s into lawns and grass, with a sideline business as a minister.”

“Oh really? What denomination?”

“He’s a fully licensed minister in the Church of the Wholly Stoned.”

Mimi giggled.

“No, really. He paid $150 for that license. He can perform weddings and funerals, all legal here in Texas.”

“Well, that’s a strange bit of Providence, I guess…”

Meanwhile, Tim arrived at the lawyer’s office. It had been easy to find a lawyer willing to shuffle some paperwork through the court system for a fee. Everyone knew of the Drummond fortune and lawyers were chomping at the bit to get their hands on part of it.

“I just spoke with my brother, Charles. He has the committal paperwork. How much is this gonna cost me and how soon can we get this over with?”

The lawyer counted the cash Tim had brought. Like his brother, Tim had been to visit his own banker, leaving with a wad of bills. “This is a rather large sum of money, Mr. Drummond.  Just enough for expedited service. I can run the paperwork over to a pal at the clerk’s office, which should get us in front of the judge before the close of business today. Since this is a matter of someone’s welfare, the deputies will get called this evening to take your stepmother into custody for her own safety.

“And the power of attorney? When…”

“Yes, that is important, isn’t it…Well, the judge will sign it today and any bank will accept it as of tomorrow. I think we are all set to conclude this unfortunate affair.”

Thinking of Slim and his goons, Tim smiled. Thank goodness everyone has a price…

Mimi’s cell phone rang.

“Okay, Raul. It’s time…”

The Sherriff’s deputies arrived at 6 pm, judge’s decree in hand, ready to take the “feeble-minded” lady to the state mental facility. After ringing the door bell several times, and announcing themselves with no response, they decided to break through the door. What they found surprised them.

The living room was in shambles, there had clearly been a struggle. The wall safe had been left open, in an attempt to make it look like a burglary gone bad. Finding no one in the house, the deputies called the police, saying that they had what looked to be either a domestic violence case that went from bad to worse or a home invasion.

Detectives came out and went through the house with a fine toothed comb. One of them came out from the garage, saying “Looks like she was packed and ready to go on a trip. Car’s all loaded.”

After calling the car service, the detectives learned that Raul had been on vacation for over a week, visiting relatives outside the country. “Hmmm. No sign of forced entry. She must have known her attacker. I think it’s time we take her boys in for questioning…”

The news media was all over the breaking story. By the time Charles and Tim were escorted into the precinct office, there were several camera crews there, ready to report. The boys were all smiles until they walked inside, when they saw police viewing a video of Charles and the doctor, taken by the camera hidden in the wall clock. The doctor had heard the news and wanted to get a good deal while there was one to be had.

“Alright, boys. We know you schemed to have your stepmother put away so you could get control of the estate. I guess things got out of hand back at the mansion, though, right? She was leaving and you didn’t want her miss her appointment at the mental hospital, is that how it went?”

The boys were in shock. Speechless. This was not how the plan was supposed to go down. All of a sudden they found themselves suspects in a crime totally different than the one they had hoped to perpetrate.

“Alright, then. We are going to put you into separate holding rooms. We’ll have a camera on you so just let us know when you are ready to tell us what really happened. You can start by letting us know where to find her body…” The detectives were hoping that one brother would turn on the other. This would end up taking a long time…

Opening the balcony door in her new high-rise apartment, Mimi lifted a glass of champagne, admiring the shiny glint of her new wedding band. “Raul, you were so right. Rio de Janeiro is just gorgeous…”

© D.J. Lutz, March 2011.

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