Summer Vacation Ch. 20byD.C. Roi©
The morning after Master Kwan died, Tommy called the lawyer's office and found out which funeral home was handling Mr. Kwan's burial. He called the funeral home next and learned that Mr. Kwan had left orders to be cremated, and that there was to be no service or calling hours.
He did manage to convince the funeral director to allow him to do a Buddhist service, however, and did that the next day, after his Sensei had been cremated. Conducting the rituals in front of the brass urn holding Sensei's ashes felt odd, but he managed to get through it. When he finished, the funeral director advised him Kwan's remains were to be shipped back to Okinawa so he could be buried with his family.
For a couple of weeks after Kwan's death, things went on as usual in the young man's life. His affairs with his aunt and cousin continued, and he continued to take Tina home after work. There was no sign of Tina's ex-husband, something that gave the young man great pleasure.
"Tommy, there's a lawyer on the phone. He says he has to talk with you," Aunt Karen said, awakening Tommy one morning about two weeks after his Sensei's death.
The young man struggled awake, climbed out of bed and slipped into some clothes, then went out to answer the phone. "Hello?" he said, still a little groggy.
Aunt Karen stood watching, looking confused.
"Is this Thomas Jackson?" the man on the phone asked.
"Ah, yeah, it is," Tommy replied.
"My name is Alden Brothers," the man said. "My firm represented Lee Kwan. We helped him compose his will and are the executors for his estate."
"Yes?" Tommy replied. He was confused. Why was the lawyer calling him?
"As you know," the lawyer continued, "Mr. Kwan had no known living relatives."
"I know," Tommy said, "they were all killed during the war."
"That was my understanding, too," the attorney continued. "Since he had no relatives, Mr. Kwan designated you as his sole heir."
"He...he what?" Tommy gasped, stunned.
"You are sole heir to Mr. Kwan's estate," the man repeated. "An estate, I might add, with substantial assets. I'm not sure if you were aware of it, but Mr. Kwan was an extremely wealthy man."
"I-I had no idea..." Tommy stammered. He found it hard to believe Sensei named him as his heir, much less that Master Kwan had been wealthy. "He...he never told me..."
"It doesn't surprise me you didn't know," attorney Brothers went on, "Mister Kwan lived very frugally. At one time he owned considerable real estate in Tokyo and sold it at a substantial profit when he moved to this country. As you may know, property values in Japan are extremely high, so he was able to get a large return on his investment. Not only that, he also had extensive property holdings in this country as well."
"He...he did?" Tommy stammered. He couldn't believe this was happening. He'd never given much thought to Kwan's life outside the dojo. He thought Sensei's only source of income was the dojo, and that he didn't make that much from that.
"You sound startled," the lawyer said. "I suggest we get together later today and I'll explain all this to you."
"Yeah, sure," Tommy said. "Ah...when?"
"Your aunt said you were sleeping when I called," the lawyer said.
"Ah, yeah, I, uh, I was up late last night. I work evenings," Tommy said.
"Yes, well, I'll allow you a chance to have breakfast," the lawyer went on. "Why don't you plan on being here, say, at eleven?"
"Eleven? Sure," Tommy said. "I'll be there."
"I look forward to meeting you," the attorney said. "Mister Kwan spoke very highly of you."
"What was that all about?" Aunt Karen asked when Tommy put the phone down. "Why did that lawyer call you?"
"Ah, well..." Tommy said. He wasn't sure how to explain it. "I've been taking karate lessons from a man in North Hampden. He died a couple of week ago and..." He told his aunt the whole story, at least as much of it as he knew.
"He left you all his money?" his ashen-faced aunt said when he finished.
"I guess so," Tommy said. "It sounds that way."
"Did he have a lot of money?" Karen asked. "My God, Tommy, this is fantastic!"
"I don't know how much money it is," Tommy said. "The lawyer said it was a substantial amount, though. I guess they don't say stuff like that unless it's a lot, huh?"
"I'll come along with you," Karen said. "I want to be sure I understand all this so we can tell your parents."
"Jesus!" Tommy exclaimed, "Mom and Dad! They're going to bust a gut when they find out!"
"They'll be pleased," Karen said, "after all, this takes care of your college tuition, doesn't it?"
"I guess it does," Tommy admitted. Actually, it sounded like he might have enough money to buy a college! "Look, I better get ready. I don't want to be late for that appointment." He headed for his bedroom.
A half-hour later, dressed in his best suit and tie, Tommy was ready, even though they had more than an hour before the appointment.
Aunt Karen was still getting ready and, while she did Tommy anxiously paced back and forth in the living room. As excited as he was, he decided to call Tina and tell her the good news. He looked up her number and dialed.
"Hello?" she said.
"Hi, this is Tommy," he said, feeling a little giddy at hearing her voice.
"Tommy! Oh, I've got great news!" Tina bubbled. "Greg called this morning!"
That wasn't what Tommy wanted to hear. "He...he did?" the young man stammered.
"Yes!" Tina gushed. "He said he wants to give us another shot. He's taking Bobby and me to the movies tonight."
"The...the movies?" Tommy said. Why was it that when something good happened to him, something shitty happened to spoil it?
"Yes. Bobby's so excited," Tina continued. "He's wanted to see that Hamster movie ever since it came out."
"That's...that's nice," Tommy said. She must have forgotten he planned to take the two of them to see the Hamster movie. Oh, well.
"Why did you call?" Tina asked. "I'm sorry, I was so excited I was rude."
"It's nothing, really," he said. "I...never mind."
"I won't see you at work tonight," Tina went on. "I called Mr. Dreisbach and asked for the night off. He said it wasn't a problem. Things aren't that busy Tuesday, anyhow."
"Yeah, they usually aren't," Tommy said. "Hey, you have a good time, OK?"
"I'm sure we will. Bobby's so excited," Tina went on.
"Look, I have to go," Tommy said. "I-I'll see you tomorrow night."
"What's the matter?" his aunt asked. She had come into the room just as Tommy's call to Tina ended. "You look upset."
Tommy shrugged. "I'm just nervous," he lied. "I mean, this is pretty heavy stuff, you know?"
"It's exciting, that's for sure," Karen said.
Tommy looked at his aunt and thought she looked pretty darn nice. She had on a pale pink halter dress with a full skirt wrapped around her lush, lovely body. It was loose, yet displayed her fine form wonderfully. Her dusky skin was set off by the pink material, and the pink kerchief tied in her hair made her look more beautiful.
"You look terrific, Aunt Karen," Tommy said. If Tina wasn't interested in him, he'd take good care of the women who did want him. "That's a really neat outfit."
"You think so?" his aunt said and flushed a little.
"You're a knockout," Tommy said. "How about I treat you to lunch after we see the lawyer? I mean, now that I'm a rich heir, I guess I can afford it."
Karen walked over and gave him a kiss. "You really are a sweet young man, you know that?" she said.
The lawyer, a pudgy, balding man with thick features, couldn't keep his eyes off Karen once they arrived at the office. Tommy introduced his aunt and explained why he was staying with her.
"I see," the attorney said. "I understand you are currently eighteen?"
"Yes, I am," Tommy told him.
"That simplifies things," the man nodded. "We won't have to work out a temporary guardian for you, which should save time. Since Mister Kwan was careful about his affairs, the will should clear probate relatively quickly. I'd say you'll have access to all the assets no later than the middle of October, possibly sooner. I am aware of no outstanding claims against the estate. Usually those are what cause delays in settling, but in this case, there's no problem. Kwan paid cash for almost everything he purchased. There are no outstanding debts, although I believe there are some fees still owing the karate school."
"How much money are we talking about?" Karen asked.
The lawyer looked over the papers lying on his desk. "Including the value of the property he holds," he said, "Despite the rather high tax penalty, the value of Mister Kwan's estate which you will receive will be just under eight million dollars."
"Eight...mil...million dollars!" Karen stammered. She turned pale and seemed to be having a lot of trouble breathing.
Tommy couldn't talk, either. Never, in his wildest dreams had he envisioned having that kind of money. "Are...are you sure?" he asked.
"Very sure," the attorney said, nodding sagely. "In fact, at the time of his unfortunate demise, Mr. Kwan was considering an offer for some of his property. Had the sale gone through, it would have added substantially to the total. We were in negotiations on the sale at the time of his death."
"You...you mean there could be more money?" Karen asked. She was shaking a little. She looked at Tommy. "Can you believe this?"
He shook his head and replied, "I-I had no idea." He turned to the attorney. "What about this sale you were talking about? What was that all about?"
"A nature conservancy wished to purchase some land Mr. Kwan owns in Oregon," the lawyer said. "Land they want to preserve some pristine wilderness. Mr. Kwan favored the sale. We hadn't arrived at a satisfactory offer, but we were very close. I should tell you, however, that a developer is also interested, and has tendered a much higher offer."
"If Master Kwan wanted it, I want the land to go to the nature group," Tommy said. "Money isn't the only thing that's important."
The lawyer nodded and smiled. "Kwan's faith in you seems to have been well-founded," he said. "He said you were a remarkable young man."
"You should sell to the developer," Karen said. "After all, if it means more money..."
"Master Kwan wanted the land to go to the nature group and it will," Tommy said. "I don't need any more money than I already have."
The lawyer smiled. "I think we might be able to work out some tax advantages from the sale," he said.
They spent more time with the lawyer, making arrangements, listening to explanations. Finally they left, with an appointment to come back the next week to sign papers and complete the transfer of Kwan's holdings to Tommy.
There was one other thing Tommy wanted to do. He planned to tell the attorney to set up a trust fund for Bobby, something that would give him income and reserve money for college. He knew he didn't have to do it, and given the way Tina was acting toward him, probably shouldn't, but he liked Bobby and didn't want the little boy to have to worry about college costs when he got old enough. The trust he planned - one million dollars, with only the interest being used - would give Tina ample money to live on and leave plenty for Bobby's college costs.
"I-I can't believe it!" Karen whispered, awed, as they walked to the car. "You...you're a millionaire, Tommy!" She giggled. "An eight-millionaire, I guess. We've got to tell your parents!"
"There's no phone where they are," Tommy said. "We'll have to write them."
"God!" Karen exclaimed. "I-I can't believe this is really happening!"
"Me, either. Want some lunch?" Tommy asked.
Karen laughed. "You aren't going to change, are you?"
Tommy smiled at her and said, "Nope."