The Lawyer McVaughn..and Assc.

Frank and Rich did not, do not, get along.

Some would say this is because brothers have their differences, their squabbles, and if left unchecked, these little cracks can turn into chasms.

Others–perhaps others like Rich–would blame the year spent in a mental hospital when they were 17.

Who’s to say?

Born mere seconds apart, the result of a C-section, Francis and Richard Vines entered the world in unison and had been swiftly moving apart ever since. Now, they’d just woken up in the town of their birth, but further apart than should have been possible.

Rich, still in his work suit and wrist cast, woke up seated in a cold metal folding chair. This, he had to admit, was a first. He was struck first not by his surroundings, his company, or even the way the two lawyers opposite him seemed either unwilling or unable to blink, but rather by how he woke up.

Normally a groggy, slow churn out of bed kinda guy, Rich woke up not with a start, but with the flick of a switch. It wasn’t a cannonball into a freezing pool, complete with cold sweat and jolt; he simply seemed to turn on, like coming out of an uninvited hypnosis.

The men sitting opposite him didn’t seem to notice. Play it normal. This isn’t like it used to be. That was a long time ago, he thought.

“Good morning,” said one the lawyers. “I’m Mr. McVaughn.”

He was bald and rotund, with the faintest sheen and stench of ham. Nothing rotten or otherworldy, just unpleasant in a public school cafeteria sort of way. Rich said nothing, grinding his large, straight teeth together.

Since the accident at work–the accident that had landed him a required three-week paid vacation “Just until things blow over”–Rich had let his stubble grow out. Justine seemed to like it, if only to distinguish him from Frank.

“Now I can be really sure it’s you I’m sleeping with,” she said when the hair was first coming in.

“This it what makes you sure?” he said, scratching at the growth. “Frank is gay.”

“And determined,” said Justine. “Dangerous combo.”

“The only thing dangerous about Frank Vines is that he refuses to grow up.”

“He’s working through it.”

“He’s an immature sociopath.”

They’d left it at that. Frank had walked in, which for years now meant that Rich walked out.

“My brother got your letter,” said Rich. “I think you need to check in with your paralegals. Their proofreading could use a little work.”

McVaughn nodded, his mouth tightening a bit before his lips pulled back as he spoke. His teeth were small, almost cramped in his mouth. Rich didn’t have time to count but…

“We were told you were quite forward,” said McVaughn. “To the point of a vulgar arrogance.”

“I’m a lawyer.”

“And a succinct one at that.”

“Unless you’ve got something for me, I’ll just sign the papers and be on my way.”

Again, McVaugh nodded but did not move from his chair. He looked at his associate and back at Rich, folding his hands over an expansive belly.

“You’ll have to review the properties first. The house, the boathouse, several town properties. We’ll need you to inspect all of it before signing anything.”

“That will take at least a week,” said Rich.

At this, the aforementioned associate, piped up. As thin as the other fat, his tie was pulled so tight it looked to be near-choking him.

“Not like you’re going anywhere,” he said, chuckling. He covered his mouth as he laughed, the inside of his mouth a bright scarlet smear compared with washed-out lips.

 

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Antonia Porter, Medium

Antonia Porter, Medium

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Whilst Frank dealt with a demon on the rainy street–Justine and Rich left to their own “horrors”–Antonia Porter nee Vincent adjusted her parlor. It had been ages since new clients had come to town and she was anxious to appear welcoming.

Ever since the tourism in Carlisle had taken its permanent dive, Antonia’s business had struggled. Not that she was alone in this fact, quite the opposite. But whereas the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker (Tyler & Daughter’s Candlestick Co., 21 Cliff Avenue, open M-F, 10-8) all had renewable and what some might call “necessary” businesses, Antonia’s services were more…niche. More valuable, no doubt, but in a town like Carlisle, it was difficult to get a firm foothold on the collective consciousness. Everything was too nice, went too well. The rents were low, the town morale was high and people tended to look towards each other, as opposed to an unseen force, when searching for a source of their happiness.

Until that lovely day. The Embargo. She thought about it as often as her mind would allow. She damn near fell out of her recliner the moment it happened. One minute you’re watching Kyra Sedgwick come down hard on Bill Croelick in the penultimate episode of The Closer and the next, you’re splayed on the floor. It had taken her hours to get the spilled ranch dip out of Janey’s latch hook rug. HOURS. But it had been worth it, hadn’t it? After all the toil and the strife. Marrying lower than herself, deserving of more. Antonia Porter had held on and finally, someone, something, had rewarded her.

aunt-antonia-porter
Antonia Porter with her husband, Duke, 1973

After all the ruckus, Antonia did her best to lay low. She was never one to grasp for attention, though that never stopped its steady flow. After all, it can’t be helped when you’re so beautiful, so flawless and socially graceful. People just flock to you. But this time she said, “No, I’m sorry. I simply can’t.” Like a mourning dame from the ’20s, she scoffed at the various masses clinging to her legs. “Help us! Please!”

No one had the courage to say it out loud but she could feel them calling to her. Sure, Ophelia–the spoiled bitch that she is–gladly stepped into the spotlight YET. AGAIN. Always so demure, so ravishing. Just because she’d never had to deal with a bad hair day in her life she and her trash bag, old money husband thought they were so great. But no. Not this time. Not today! And from the looks of things so far, Today was about to last a very long time.

As she brushed off the final crumbs from the velvet scarf on the table holding her crystal ball, Antonia managed a brief smile.

The tinkling bell above her front door rang, and she turned to greet her first new client.


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Waking Up in Carlisle

Waking Up in Carlisle

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You know how in movies, when someone wakes up from a bad dream they shoot up from their bed and pant? Not my experience.

Perhaps, this was due to the fact that my face was stuck to the bar. Not in any weird Harry Potter way. Never in my life (so far? I feel the need to say so far after being here a day or so) have I come into contact with magic stickyness. The closest would probably be those hands from when we were kids.

sticky_hand
If Satan hisself didn’t make this, who did?

Instead of referring to that Satanic mess pictured above, I’d like to redirect your attention to my face stuck to the bar. I’m talking about a few pounds of resistance, cheek was stretched, plus that little tearing sounds sort of stuck. Like a tongue on an icy pole. What? No one here was born in the 1940s and has experience with this? Well..alright then. MOVING ON!

I looked around, realized that I was still in Maine and had a minor inkling to just say “Fuck” and then go back to bed for a bit, cause at least then when I woke up the second time and Rich is all “Why did you go back to sleep?!” I could be like “I wasn’t happy about it…”

Instead, I arose from the booth I fell asleep in, took the longest piss in recorded Mainish history and looked around for other survivors from the previous night.

The bar was empty. Granted, who was I expecting? Wait, I know. My brother and his girlfriend. Well, she’s my friend too but it’s like, which identifier do I go by at this point? I was friends with her first, but I think if you marked down the man hours they’ve spent more time together. I’ve probably got Rich cornered on waking man hours but they have sleepovers A LOT. On that note, let me map this out real quick. I’ll be back in a second.

Wait, no. Dumb! (I’m totally gonna do that later. Remind me to do that and then come back to this post to link it. It’ll be so foreshadowy/tres cool). The bar was empty, but also lacked blood so at that moment, I would have taken a bet that Justine and Rich were still alive. Granted, it would depend who was betting me, but as long as it wasn’t a clown or someone who had oversized teeth, I’d take it. Even if one of them turned out to be dead, I’d probably go double or nothing.

Dodging a few knocked over barstools and the judgemental glances of more than a few of those waving cat statues (everybody needs a hobby, I guess, right, Lills?), I went to the front door.

With a little resistance and creaking, it gave way to the brutal pounding of rain outside. The orchestra of it all hit my hangover with the malice of Damien from The Omen, parts one through three. The Omen, Part Four is pretty shit, anyways.

The whole town was wet, but worse. Damp. Like the rain and sea had soaked through any protection it might have once had and settled into the bones of the buildings. I imagined the sewers full of bright, fresh and freezing rain water and even more fell from the sky. Everything was stark, harsh, like the intensity of the blacks and greys had been turned up but cooled. The streets were empty…except for him.

Clark.

-F


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Lillian’s

Lillian’s

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‘Cause you had a bad day, you’re taking one down. Sing a sad song just to turn it around…

Why, yes, that is the seminal (and I mean the liquid kind of seminal) classic “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter. What in the high fuck was that doing on the jukebox?

First guess: Maine. Second guess: White people. Third: A summation of the previous two.

I wouldn’t get to the right answer until halfway through a bottle of well gin. I may be on vacation–like kinda vacation. I mean, I’m signing a will or something but I’m in a different city and I’m not at work so, I’ll take what I can get–but I still ain’t rich. And rich Rich (read: my wealthy AF brother who can’t pick up my check EVEN ONCE!) decided he’d like “Just water, please.” It’s like, you have to try and not hate life if you want to not hate your life. This is elementary school shit. Ms. Frizzle taught us this.

Walking into Lillian’s part of me felt at home. The sort of trashy “I’m a failure so may as well fail” part. The low-lighting was doing us all a favor and aside from a few weird grunts from the locals, it seemed welcoming enough. Lillian herself was bartending, so I came to discover, and she greeted at least Justine with a smile.

Brown-hair and big eyes, Lillian gave off the vibe of a predatory house cat. Not necessarily accustomed to the wild but she’d eaten her fair share of canaries.

“You’re lost,” she said, not a question mark in sight. “And don’t play this whole ‘What, how’d you know?’ game. It’s late, I’m tired, and you’d be full of shit.”

“Well he’s always that third one,” said Justine. Her smile caught Lillian’s and I knew we were safe for at least one round of luke warm beer.

“So, where can I point you to?” said Lillian. She reached under the bar pulling out a tattered map. “This far north I’d say you’re looking for either the adult superstore down the highway or the ocean.”

“The ocean?” said Rich. Somehow the words screeched out between his veneers and manicured five o’clock shadow.

“This time of year? Oh yeah. People are looking for a little Sylvia Plath action,” said Lillian.

“Pocket full of stones, kinda thing?” I said.

“Bingo.”

“Neat, but alas, we’re here on business.”

“The stones ain’t going anywhere, my friend.”

Lillian turned and grabbed a bottle from behind her. It was dusty and full of dark liquor. Not my usual vibe but a welcome change from the seemingly endless stream of gin and tonics I’d swallowed over the past eleven years. If I’d been a good gay, I’d of had a vodka soda, but alas, my crippling WASPy-ness overtook my desire to stay swimsuit ready.

Setting out four shot glasses, Lillian eyed us another time and poured.

“What sort of business?” she asked. She kept the glasses close to her, just a bit out of “Here, take this. It’s for you” reach.

“Signing a will,” I said.

“We’re not signing a will. We’re reviewing a will. What in the world do you think we’d be signing?” said Rich.

“Sorry,” I said, turning to Lillian. “It’s the first time my parents have died. Out of practice.”

“You’ll get the hang of it,” she said, taking her shot. “You sure you’re in the right place? Death isn’t too common around here.”

I want to say I noticed something weird at this moment, but if I had, I wouldn’t be writing this right now. Instead I said…

“Must be all that fresh air.” 🙂

dumbass

“We’re here to settle up an estate,” said Rich. “Our parents’ lawyers sent us a letter to come up here and take care of everything. Do you know where the McVaughn offices are? I want to get this done first thing in the morning.”

“They sent you a letter? To where?”

“New York. Well, I live in Manhattan like a civilized human. Rich and Justine are living out some Catcher in the Rye bullshit in Brooklyn.”

“You got a letter? In New York? From Carlisle, Maine?” said Lillian.

Now if you’re following along at home, this is ONCE AGAIN, a point where I shoulda been like, “Oh, wow. How fucking cryptic?! Let’s go. Instead, part deux…

“Yeah, who knew that mail could still, like, mail, ya know?”

dumbass2

I want to blame the drinks. I want to blame the tired. I can only blame myself. 

“Well then I guess you’re where you need to be. Best of luck to you,” said Lillian. She served us our shots, pouring herself another.

“Cheers!” we said, swigging back the burning liquid.

“And may the gods have mercy on your souls!” said Lillian, smiling all the way.

“Wait…what?”

-F


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