Like too many other men my father put off making his Will until it was too late. Fact was, I was told he had an appointment with a lawyer to do so on the very day that he died. It was common knowledge that his eldest son would get the house as, aside from a stint in the Army, and being a bachelor, he’d never left home.
My father also expressed a desire to have all his tools divided among his grandsons. Including myself, the rest us signed a Quit Claim to the estate so that, legally, my eldest brother owned all the chattels that were in the house as well. But somehow the task of dividing the sundry tools fell to my second eldest brother, who soon after took sick and never accomplished the task.
My father, who’d spent time in a CCC camp during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, like so many of his generation, was a keeper. He kept just about everything he found. His sole heir, on the other hand, just wanted to get rid of the old man’s stuff. Three of his sons expressed no interest at all in any of it but never the less sat in on the first family meetings.
More meetings were held; mainly among my sisters. With bitter rancor and heated argument they stated which things they preferred to have for themselves. Given a thousand unique items of various sizes and values they found it impossible to divide the chattels fairly. It was suggested they sell everything and just divide up the proceeds but to no avail. They would not listen.
They threw dice, they drew lots – names from a hat. They wrote their names on pieces of masking tape and stuck them on the various items they’d wanted or won. It was all so unfair. For the life of them they just could not divide a thousand unique items fairly among them. Exhausted and bitter they took such as they’d won in the lottery.
It was not but a few days later I’d noticed many of the items had somehow returned. They gathered once again. I sat on the basement steps observing the proceedings. More argument about how they’d all been cheated either by luck or by fate.
One started shouting – the others chimed in. Another started bawling – the others chimed in. One started screaming – the others chimed in. One lifted her head skyward and started to howl – yes, howl, loud enough for the neighbors to hear. The others in turn lifted their heads and, standing in the basement in a tight circle, started to howl along with her. Their voices rose higher and higher in pitch – reaching a wailing crescendo. And just for a moment my ears detected a very high pitched but eerily harmonic wavering howl. With God as my witness, standing there right before me, my sisters were howling; – howling – like a pack of wolves.