JC Szot Home      Painted Posts
Print this pageAdd to Favorite

Painted Posts - Chapter 1
Chapter One

“I don’t understand it,” Ella said. Her eyes scanned over the front page of what was a thick packet of documents.
“Did you and your uncle not have a good relationship?” The attorney glanced at her over the rim of his glasses.
“We did when I was young.” Ella shook her head. “As I got older, he and my father didn’t see eye to eye anymore. Something happened. My father’s been dead for years. After his funeral, I never saw my uncle again.”
“And your mother, if I may ask?” His tone was cautious.
Ella sighed, riffling through the papers again, trying to make sense of it all. “My mother left as soon as I went away to college. She had some sort of midlife-crisis thing. She’s out west, fulfilling her lifelong dream of owning an antiques business. After my father’s death, things fell apart. I can’t say we have a great relationship either,” Ella added, her tone hushed with regret. She felt like she was dumping her dysfunctional past on a stranger. “Doesn’t my mother want the house?”
“Your mother’s name isn’t on the will. Yours is.” James Ryan of Ryan, Spencer, and Brighton stood up and righted the papers on his desk, signaling to Ella that their business was complete. He slid the keys across his desk, the chain a shiny, plated gold. “That’s a prime piece of real estate you have there.” He chuckled, seeming perplexed over why Ella was debating with him. He obviously thought this was her gateway to a great fortune. “There’s no mortgage, and the taxes have been paid for the next six years. I say go down there and enjoy. Try it.” He shrugged. “If you don’t want the place…sell it. You’ll walk away with a nice purse, I can tell you that,” he said. James Ryan grinned, his wiry brows lifting.
* * * *
Ella stepped out onto the sidewalk. The late-April sun was already hot, ripening the air with the smell of oiled asphalt. She walked toward her car, beating the meter just in time, the arrow near the red. The congested rush-hour traffic filled her ears. Pungent exhaust burned her nose. Downtown Bangor, Pennsylvania, sure didn’t have anything to offer her at this time.
Jobs were scarce, and she wouldn’t get anywhere with her photography here. Ella was tired of waiting tables at Johnny’s Cork and Barrel and working in the Wash and Fold. The world raced around her. This is too weird. She’d just received the renewal for her lease yesterday. Thank God she didn’t sign it. It looked as if she’d be packing up her tiny studio over the barbershop. She’d better go see Joe before he closed for the day.
Ella flipped over the front page of her uncle’s last will and testament. Cape May, New Jersey. Her uncle’s house was located off Delaware Bay, right on Sunset Beach. Ella had never been there. The last time she’d seen her uncle was the summer after her twelfth birthday, when he’d lived in Belmar, New Jersey. How Uncle Les acquired this house, Ella had no way of knowing. There was no one around anymore to ask.
An unexpected heart attack at the young age of forty-eight had killed her father, tearing her small family apart. How her uncle had died, Ella didn’t know. After her father’s funeral, she never saw him again. There were a few missing pieces, but a beach house was a beach house. She tried to swallow her fear and get joyful over what the attorney at Ryan, Spencer, and Brighton thought was a great thing.
When Ella pulled into the parking lot behind her building, Joe was just closing up, the barber pole motionless. She tugged on the door. It was already locked. Joe looked up from a pile of hair on the floor and smiled. He approached the door, disengaging the lock, broom in hand.
“Ella.” He grinned. “Everything okay…you got your lease signed?” Ella laughed at that little bit of Brooklyn that always bled through his dialogue.
“Ah, no.” Her words were lost. She hadn’t rehearsed anything on her way over, her mind still overwhelmed. I’m gonna need that security deposit. “I’m sorry. I know this is sudden, but I’m moving,” Ella told him, biting down on her lip.
Copyright 2008 2013 - Justine C Szot
Email Justine at justine@jc-hotreads.com
Report problems to the Webmaster