Laughing Tomatoes

Response to 7 June Daily Prompt – A Million Dollars

I hear the door bell from the bean row in the garden where I’ve been weeding since dawn. I’m sweating profusely and the last thing I want to do is entertain company. The blazing summer sun is quickly growing intolerable. I wish I could share the tomatoes joy. Their laughter is nearly audible. There is more gaiety in store for them, because summer has yet yet arrive, according to our current calendar system.

The door bell sounds again. I rise from my knees, stretching my neck enough to see a FedEx van at the curb. What can they possibly be delivering on a Saturday morning? I’m not expecting anything. Perhaps Myrtle ordered something from Amazon and forgot to mention it. Reluctantly, I struggle to my feet, ignoring my popping knees. I dab my eyes with my shirt tail, and then brush the garden soil from my trousers.

The parcel is not a parcel at all. It’s a thin pasteboard envelope for which I must sign. The driver smiles as I return his signature device and then he heads for his vehicle. Closing the door, I open the thick envelop and extract a smaller one with a length of tape sealing the flap bearing the words – Simon & Associates, Attorneys at Law. I head for my recliner. Inside, are several sheets of watermarked paper. Only an lawyer would understand all of it. I decipher that an Edith Black’s estate has left me one million dollars. I’m urged to dial a number at my earliest convenience.

I’m stunned. Who is Edith Black? Why has she left me this large sum of money?

Hastily, I dial Myrtle’s number and I listen to it ring. She must be in a supermarket where reception is poor. Perhaps the background noise is such that she can’t hear her phone. A score of reasons flash through my head before she finally picks up.

“Hello?”

“Myrtle. were are you?”

“I’m at Walmart picking up a few groceries.Why? Is something wrong?”

“No, of course not. Do you know an Edith Black?”

“Not off hand … wait … your mother has a half-sister, Edith something or other. Why?

“Well, I’ve inherited some money from her estate.”

“How much?”

“A million dollars.”

Myrtle is silent. Only background noise is audible. Then, “I’ll be home shortly.”

I listen for the click as she disconnects, then I glance at the wall clock and wait.

In less than ten minutes, I hear a car door. A moment later Myrtle is in our living room. She’s flushed, and her eyes hold a million questions. “Herb, I remember your mother mentioning a half-sister of whom she had lost track. I don’t have any records to research, but it seems as though she traveled to China as a missionary shortly after World War. Her name was Edith, but I don’t believe your mother ever mentioned a last name, Myrtle says, reaching for the letter.

“How would a missionary come into a million dollars?”

She doesn’t hear me. She’s absorbed in the paperwork. “You think this is legit?” She finally asks. “We’ve heard of scams. Maybe we should consult an attorney before we contact these people.”

“Who?”

“Well, Cutsforth did us a good turn when we were involved in that auto accident.”

“But he’s retired,” I reminded her.

“Yes, but I recently saw a Cutsforth ad in the phonebook. His son, Walter, has taken over the practice. But we won’t be able to see anyone until Monday.”

“True. We can make a list of the things we could do with a million dollars. For starters, the house could stand a new roof. We could use another car, a newer one,” I said.

Myrtle nodded in agreement, then added. “We could pay off the children’s college loans. And the high school music depart is on the verge of closing. I’m sure we could help prevent that with a fund drive challenge.”

We spent the weekend building a list of how we might spend our million dollars. Monday morning we were up at dawn, anxiously awaiting Walter to open his office.

He took us in first thing, and then we waited with abated breath while he studied the papers.

At last, looking over the rims of his Benjamin Franklin glasses. ! “I’m sorry folks. This is a scam. If you were to contact these people you would soon learn that you will must furnish them with a certified bank draft of several thousand dollars, and that would be the last you would ever see of them. Please allow me to foreword this to the Attorney General’s Office.

“Well, it certainly was fun while it lasted,” I told Myrtle as we drove home.

“Yes, it was. What are you going to do now?” she asked.

“I guess I’ll listen to my tomatoes.”

“Listen to what?”

“Oh, nothing.”

I could feel her eyes studying me, but she didn’t press me to explain and so I didn’t.

3 thoughts on “Laughing Tomatoes

  1. I enjoyed your story. I love the imagery around the tomatoes…… and am wishing I lived in a climate where mine would be so joyful now. They are growing slowly but surely so they will get there!

    I’m glad the characters in your story had the pleasure of identifying the possibilities the inheritance could be but at the same time protected themselves from the scam!

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