CHAPTER TWO- Mr W.Ill
Only Bernard’s immediate family were assembled this time. Maximus, his mother Susan, his father Rodney (now sober enough to comprehend the entire situation) and Daisy, Bernard’s sister and only sibling. She was 98.
They were all gathered…in Susan’s living room. It was a cosy house, located at the top of one of the steepest hills towards the Brighton City centre. It was one of the only houses in the estate to have no 2nd floor. Very Strange.
There was a rather aggressive knock at the door. After stillness resonated through the room, Maximus reluctantly got up to answer it.
“Don’t all get up at once,” he retorted.
“Why is my head still sore? How did it happen again?” Rodney continued rubbing the part of his head where Maximus had smacked him with the food tray.
Any suitable response was thankfully masked by the entrance of Mr William Ill- a strikingly fitting name for a man who had come to declare Bernard’s inheritance. He was a tall, skinny man with slightly rounded shoulders. His silver hair showed his sense of authority, yet it was overstated by his incredibly wrinkly face.
“May I sit?” he asked, as he gingerly gestured to the vacant space on the sofa where Maximus was sitting. Susan shifted over slightly.
“Of Course Mr?”
“Ill…William Ill.” Rodney began to chuckle.
“You’re pulling my leg. William Ill. W.Ill-”
“Believe it or not, you’re are not the first to remark on the absurdity of my name and the line of work I am currently in.”
“Currently?” Max inquired.
“This is my last reading before I officially retire. I then plan to leave this town forever.” Daisy spoke up for the first time.
“You should go to Scratby- it’s a lovely town there. My friend Margaret has been there many times. She plans to move there at some stage. Now-”
“Not now Daisy,” Rodney barked. “We have a will to read.” Daisy fell back into her chair and began to knit a scarf. Mr Ill began to open his briefcase as if it was a treasure chest. Slowly and cautiously as if a ray of light was to illuminate the dullness of the overcrowded living room. However, it merely opened with a creak and Mr Ill reached in to grab Bernard’s Will.
“Here we are.” Mr Will cleared his throat. “The will and testimony of Mr Bernard V. Strange”-
“What’s his middle name?” Rodney began to snigger again. Daisy spoke up again.
“Vernon- after his grandfather.”
“Bernard Vernon? What a dull sounding name-”
“CAN WE GET ON WITH IT?” Susan ordered. “I have things to do.”
“Alright, keep your hair on.”
“You’re asking me to keep your hair on. How old’s that hairpiece of yours?” It was a smart response. Rodney’s hair had indeed been falling out. He currently owns seven wigs. Mr Ill cleared his throat, louder than before.
“To my darling sister Daisy, I leave my collection of photo albums, which reminded me of all the wonderful times we had growing up.” Daisy rose from her chair and smiled with glee.
“Oh how marvellous. He had such a fine collection.” The others were clearly not as fascinated as she was.
“Hurray!” Susan sarcastically muttered under her breath.
“To my only son Rodney, I present…” at this, Mr Ill revealed a small brown envelope. Rodney immediately tore it open. A small key fell out of it.
“What’s this for?” he asked hastily. Mr Ill continued to read.
“the key to my storage unit, which contains all my priceless processions.” There was a brief silence.
“So after years of looking after his sorry being, I get lumped with all his science equipment? That’s ridiculous! There must be more! What about his house, or his MONEY?!”
“Must you be so incredibly greedy?” Susan spoke “Clearly he didn’t want to trust you with any of his money. I would agree with him on that one.”
“READ IT AGAIN! I must have something else on there.” Rodney’s order was firm, yet Mr Ill was far from nervous.
“I’m afraid that’s all there is for you. It appears the rest of his fortune is going to a…Mrs Wandsworth-” at this, Rodney turned a deeper shade of red.
“SHELLY GOT ALL HIS MONEY! WHAT AN UTTER COW! SHE NEVER DID ANYTHING FOR HIM, NOTHING!”
It is worth mentioning that Shelly is Rodney’s sister, who was fortunate enough to marry a man with good fortune. Together, they moved to the Carribean and live in a five-storey mansion.
“Mr Strange, I am legally obligued to follow the strict orders of the will. You will not be receiving any of Bernard’s fortune.” Rodney leapt up and stole the tattered piece of paper from Mr Ill’s hands. After scanning the document, he threw it down and marched out of the room, breaking a vase as he left. Outside, the roar of his engine could be heard as he pulled out and drove down the hill. Susan broke the short silence.
“I’m sorry about him…he gets like that. Is there anything else?” Susan gets up, assuming everything had been rewarded.
“Actually there is one more item on the list.” He goes back to his case and retrieves another small brown envelope. He refers back to the will.
“To Maximus Strange, my only grandchild and finest member of the family, I leave my biggest secret.” Mr Ill slowly passed over the brown envelope to Maximus who received it with some hesitancy.
“Secret?” Maximus asked. Mr Will nodded and spoke coldly.
“As to the nature of it, I am not legally allowed to inquire. However, I was under strict instruction it was for your eyes only.” Susan however was quick to dismiss any excitement around the envelope.
“Probably just another key for his storage unit. Nothing too exciting.” Maximus found this inheritance very strange. For one, he had hardly spoken to his grandfather and found it more curious that he would call him a fine member of the family. More importantly, Bernard and Maximus never kept any secrets. None at all.