The waiter caught Philips’s eye and quickly came to the table. He took their drink order.
“I’m disappointed to see you playing tennis, Jessica, so soon after your father’s funeral. What will people say?” His voice was smooth as velvet.
Her response was quick and pointed. “To hell with what people say! Besides, everyone knows I never got along with Daddy anyway—and I never got along with you either.”
“That’s exactly why I’ve called you both here today. Despite the fact that we’re not exactly a loving family, we need one another now. We need to discuss what’s going to happen with your father’s will, the forest-exchange property, such as that. It’s important we present to the community the impression we are grieving over your father, drunken bastard that he was. Perceptions count…I know you know that, Jessica dear.”
“Don’t ‘Jessica dear’ me! I know what you’re up to. We’re going to contest the will because Kathleen has been left one-fourth of the property. You want us to look like the grief-stricken family who has to share Daddy’s fortune with a cunt that left him in his hour of greatest need.”
“That’s about right, Jessica. I’m glad to see you have a handle on the situation. Natalie, do you understand that we need to contest the will?” His tone continued to be smooth, obsequious.
Natalie did not look directly at Philip. She looked down at the tablecloth and fingered the crystal around her neck.
“I don’t like any of this. It’s bad karma.”
Jessica cut in the conversation and leaned over toward her sister. “How the hell are you going to live without dear Daddy’s money? Or would you just like to camp out in the forest like some of your New Age friends in one of those filthy, beat-up camper trucks filled with their every belonging? Better yet, maybe you would like to be one of those matted-haired lunatics seeking God who walk through Sedona with their backpack clung to them like it’s a second skin?”
“If I have to do that, then I will. I know I have lived off of Daddy’s money. Maybe Daddy’s death is the lesson I’m supposed to learn in this life, not to live off of others. I probably need to meditate on that for a while.” Natalie sounded like a little girl.
Jessica exploded, “Christ! Just talking to you makes my blood boil. Why don’t you act like a normal person instead of using all that New Age bullshit psychobabble?”
Natalie sat up straight like a puppet whose stings had just been yanked. She turned to look directly at her older sister, her voice quivering but surprisingly strong. “I’m tired of listening to you attack what I believe in, Jessica. How about your lifestyle? Let’s look at that for a moment. During the day all you do is play tennis, lunch or shop. At night, you screw any man you can get your hands on. At least I’m trying to understand myself and the meaning of life. You’re nothing but a whore!”
“Shut-up!” Philip said as the waiter approached with their drinks. All three picked up their menus while the waiter set down another gin and tonic for Philip, a Perrier with lime for Jessica, and Rim Rock water for Natalie.
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