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Papa John's Will
This all starts with Papa John. Papa John is my grandfather. He invited everyone over for Christmas dinner for a special announcement. I was there, so where my Mom, Dad, Cousin Amanda, Cousin Eric, Uncle Joe, Uncle Scott, Aunt Debs, and Aunt Jemima.
My Mom is kind of old, with short brown hair and a baby in her belly. Dad is tall with no hair and always wears shades, even at night. He is a businessman, he works in a big computer company and makes good money, not that I have to worry about that. My name is Riverhead, everyone calls me River. I attend school at UCSD, down in San Diego. It’s nice there; it’s always warm and sunny. My Cousin Eric lives there and invited me to stay while I’m at school. I’m learning Criminal Justice, and I enjoy it.
Eric spends his time at the beaches. He has shoulder- length hair, and is always wearing a t- shirt and shorts. He’s very “surfer”. He says dude a lot, and it gets on my nerves. You wouldn’t know this at a first glance, but Eric actually enjoys spending time on his computer, hacking random people’s e- mail accounts and sending hate- mail to their relatives. He’s gifted with electronics.
Amanda lives with her Dad and Mom, My Uncle Scott and Aunt Debs. Her real name is Debra, but that’s not as fun to say. She runs a jewelry store in Washington, not too far from where Papa John lives. Uncle Scott is a gambling alcoholic, but knows when he should stay sober. Amanda . . . I don’t know too much about Amanda. I know that she’s gotten really good at forgery by faking her dad’s signature for school events.
Uncle Joe is a psycho, crazy, lunatic, war- veteran. He spent time in ‘Nam, and never lets anyone forget it. He gets into fights often with Papa John and Uncle Scott, not that he’d ever hurt them, I think. Aunt Jemima isn’t really my aunt. She is my mom’s friend and is always hanging out at our celebrations. I don’t think she has any relatives.
Anyway, we were all at the dinner table with our pizzas in front of us, when Papa John says he has an announcement. We all got quiet to hear what it was.
“I,” he said, “am getting very old and feel you all need to know this.”
“We know your old, now what’s the announcement?” asked Aunt Jemima.
“I will be dying soon and I –“
“DON’T DIE PAPA JOHN!!” Amanda got up from her seat and rushed over to embrace the old man. “You can’t die. You’re the heart of this family!”
“Don’t worry, I am fully aware that my time is coming, and I should embrace it with open arms. As I was saying . . . Oh yes, my will! I have begun to write my will. I ensure you that you all will be left satisfied with whatever I am leaving you. Now, let’s eat our Christmas pizza.” With that, he sat down and began to eat. Following his lead, I began to chow down on my tomato-olive-pepper-anchovy-gravy-potato-sardine-pork ‘n beans-pizza.
Everyone finished their pizzas, except Eric, who was left picking at his calamari-casserole-pizza. We all went to the living room to “socialize”. Dad, Uncle Joe, Uncle Scott, Papa John, Eric, and I were arguing about the economy and who we should vote for in the next election. Aunt Jemima, Amanda, and Aunt Debs were doing Mom’s hair and talking about her baby.
I got up to go to the bathroom. Standing there, the power went off. Great, just great. I’m standing up, with my pants around my ankles and I can’t see a blasted thing. I start hearing screams, so I run over to the living room. Bumping into the walls, I finally made it, just as the lights turn back on.
At first, all I saw was Papa John, on the floor, dead. Next, my mom covered her eyes, and Amanda was pointing at me laughing. I started to wonder what it was, then quickly realized, and pulled my pants up. Fixing my belt, I asked what had happened.
“Well, before you and your friend walked in, the lights went off.”
“And then? Who was screaming?”
“Your mother, I don’t know why. Why were you screaming?”
“Someone stepped on my foot, and it hurt.”
“Sorry Aunt Suzy” Amanda replied, “I got up to find the power switch.”
“Well, thank goodness you did.”
“DOES ANYONE NOTICE MY DEAD FATHER?!?!?!” screamed Uncle Scott. “How do you ignore a corpse? Honestly.” He got up and flipped over Papa John, and found a knife in his belly. The girls all screamed and huddled together.
“HOLY SH—”started my dad.
“NOT IN FRONT OF THE KIDS!”
“Sorry, it just startled me.”
I went to the dinning room and sat down. I was going through profiles in my head, trying to piece everything together. Who would want to kill Papa John? Uncle Joe has always fought with Papa John, maybe he finally got tired of it. Uncle Scott was definitely drunk right now, it’s Christmas. And the will, that was something else. Anyone could have done it for the money. But he already started his will; they can’t just change a dead guy’s mind now could they? When someone dies, and if there’s no will, the money goes to the kids. The adults, any of them, could have done it for that reason. My mom could have used the money, what with the baby on the way. My dad could help his business, and get the promotion he’s been talking about.
Aunt Jemima really has no motives. Neither do Amanda, Eric, or I. I’ll count us out. That’s four down. Five to go. All adults, all with similar motives. Now, which one could have done it? I realized it was time to check everyone’s alibis. I called Uncle Joe in and told the rest to keep themselves busy.
“What were you doing when the lights went of Uncle Joe, if that is your real name?” I asked.
“Who are you to interrogate me?”
“I, am taking criminal justice at college, and therefore most qualified to solve our little predicament. Now, what did you do?”
“I just sat there; I can’t do much when I can’t see.”
“But you can, all those years at ‘Nam and all that training for keeping watch at night has to give you some sort of keen sense of direction.”
“Fine, fine. I saw what was going on.”
“Amanda got up from her seat and walked around. My eyes started to hurt with the strain, so I shut them. Although, I saw you bumbling down the hall when your mom yelled.”
“And you didn’t say a thing? I walked in with my pants around my ankles!”
“It was too funny to spoil the moment, heh”
“Great. You didn’t see anything else?”
“Nope. Soldier’s word.” With this, he lifted his right hand in a fist and clasped it to his chest.
“Alright, tell Dad to come in.”
Amanda did get up. That much is true. One piece of the puzzle down.
“What is it River?”
“Drop that light tone. I know what you did.”
“I know everything.” I didn’t expect this tactic to work, but it was. “Why did you do it Dad?”
“My company needs the money, I had no choice. I can’t believe I did it.”
“Neither can I.”
“I’ll make it up to you. When I get that raise, I’ll make it up to you.”
“I’ll pay you back every cent. I’m so sorry for taking that money from your account. So sorry, can you forgive me?”
“Uh, sure Dad. Do you know anything about what happened tonight?”
“Oh. I can’t tell you much. I didn’t see anything. But . . . I did hear something ‘ding’ in the kitchen’s direction. Does that help?”
“Yeah, thanks Dad. Leave me be.”
Someone went to the kitchen. Who?
Uncle Scott walked, or stumbled, in. He sat down and started to talk.
“I don’t care who did it, I don’t care if it was Debra. I just want whoever did it to get what’s coming to them.” Tears started to stream from his eyes. “I loved him so much. He was my father.”
“I know, I know. Pull yourself together; you might just be able to help me with this mystery. Then the scumbag who did this will get theirs. First, I need you to tell me everything that you know about tonight.”
“Well, you know this, but nobody can really help. We didn’ see notin’. I heard someone get up, guess it was Amanda. Your aunt Debs and Aunt Jemima were talkin’ ‘bout somtin’. I heard something about Papa John’s will. I heard them talk about how much money they think they would’ve got.”
“Really? Did they sound glad or upset?”
“Jemima sounded kinda mad. She reckoned tha’ she wouldn’t get notin’ cause she wasn’t a real family member.”
“That’s, that’s good. That could help. I have an idea. Tell everyone to meet me in the living room.”
Everyone was in the living room in a couple minutes. Eric walked down the stairs form the study. When everyone was assembled, he spoke out.
“I need everyone to help look for Papa John’s will. This could help resolve who’s getting what.” I didn’ know how this could help, but it might lead to a clue to who our culprit was. Uncle Scott was first on the move. He, with his obvious passion for this, couldn’t have been the murderer. He was off the list, but Aunt Jemima was back on. After hearing what Uncle Scott told me, she could have some diabolical scheme in her cracked-up brain.
I looked all around the living room, while everybody else went all over the house. First, I checked behind the entertainment system. Pulling out the DVD and VCR players, I looked for the slightest thing that might look like a piece of paper. Finding nothing, I looked through his shelves. Pushing away family photo albums, and lifting pictures, I saw something. A ruffled edge of paper hanging out from behind a picture of Uncle Scott and Joe as kids. I pulled it out.
This is it. I found the will. What a clever place to hide it. Unfolding the paper I read it over and over. What was this? This wasn’t a will. This was a receipt for a long overdue library movie. The title was hard to read, the paper was old and fading. Reading hard, I saw some thing that resembled ‘- gone – wild’. I decided to read the description. It was a documentary about a boy who was raised by wolves in the forest. What a lame movie.
Amanda ran through holding a piece of paper. She was screaming “I found it! I found it!”
Quickly, I caught her and started to read aloud as everyone ran in.
“- I leave my house, and the recipes for my most famous pizzas. To Scott and Debra, I leave $200,000. I also leave you with my summer home and boat, to be given to Amanda upon her eighteenth birthday. I love everyone very much, and do not wish to leave anyone unhappy with these decisions. I wish you all a great life, and hope for the best, for all of you. Until we meet again, au revoir.
“Well, Amanda found the last part. She found the part abut her family.”
“The rest has to be here somewhere. Come on.”
Everyone left again to find the rest of the will. Eric and I stayed back. I kept the will and thought something was amiss. I couldn’t tell what it was. Eric clapped me on the back and said, “Well, so much for that, I guess Amanda won that summer beach house.”
“Oh, me and Amanda both wanted that beach house. I guess she got it after all. Too bad, I totally could’ve moved out, dude.”
“Eric, your house is great already.”
“Yeah, but I was willing to give that to you, dude.”
“Help me out, does something seem wrong to you?”
“About what, dude?”
“The will, something’s funny about the handwriting.”
“Well, you could always check that out on the computer, dude.”
“On the computer . . .”
Something had clicked in my brain. Papa John doesn’t have to have written his will by hand, he could’ve been typing it. I asked Eric to come upstairs to Papa John’s study. First, to confirm my suspicions, I had Eric help me find the website where they compared handwriting.
“How’d you find this? This is government tech.”
“Some loser on g- mail had an e-mail from this site a few years back. I thought that it might come in handy if someone tried to play me a fool on their checks.”
After a while, we uploaded the signature from the will to the website and put in Papa John’s legal information. Scanning through the curves and dots of the signature, the compatibility showed up negative. The screen showed a picture of the will’s signature, compared to the ones they had on record.
Papa John- negative
Papa John- on record
So the signature was a fake, but the whole will couldn’t be confirmed a fake yet. I asked Eric to run a hyper-scan on the computer for any files that might be the will. After ten long, anxious minutes, the file was found and a box popped up asking if we wanted to open the file. Eric dragged the mouse over ‘yes’ and clicked. The screen opened up to a word document with the title ‘To my Family’. Scrolling down, the will was almost finished, and filled with icons of Disney characters. This was definitely Papa John’s will.
I called the police to come over and arrest the murderer. When they knocked on the door, I told them who the murderer was and told them where to find her. After a lot of thrashing and screaming, the police hauled Amanda into the back of the cop car. Aunt Debra was crying, and so was my mom. Everyone else just stood there, silent. Personally, I couldn’t help but hold my head up. The death of Papa John was discovered, and Amanda was getting her justice.