Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: GREED (avarice, particularly for wealth and things) (01/22/15)
TITLE: The Root
By Holly Westefeld
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"What sort of problem, Brett?"
"Well, you remember that contract I was sure was in the bag?"
"I got under bid, and it's put us on some shaky ground. I'm
hoping you can help us out until this other contract that I know
will go through gets signed."
"Brett, I'm sure you remember what I told you the last time I
"I know, but the kids will be so disappointed if we have to sell
their horses, or disrupt their private lessons at the club."
"And you and Trisha would be "disappointed" if you had to sell
the boat and live within your means. Honey, you are never going
to learn responsibility if I keep bailing you out from poor
Brett stood abruptly. "Well" if you're going to insist on being
selfish, I guess I'll just have to figure out something else!"
The wave of disappointment that crossed his mother's face was
lost on Brett as he stomped out the door.
"Trisha, I have to head down to DC in the morning for a couple of
days. Can you drop me at the train station?"
"Sure, but why don't you drive?"
"Too much risk of scrapes and dings in the city."
"True. No problem."
Brett rented a car at the train station, wove his way through
Washington's perpetual traffic, and checked in at the Hyatt
Regency. Time seemed to drag as he worked through email on his
laptop, had lunch, and worked on yet another bid.
When the digits finally shifted to 3:00, Brett closed the laptop
and headed for the garage. He headed north on I-95, pulling in
to the last rest stop in Delaware for an early dinner, while
giving rush hour traffic a chance to ease. He hadn't thought he
was nervous, and certainly wasn't having second thoughts, but
tossed half of the meal in the trash on his way back to the
small, black sedan. Darkness was complete by the time he pulled
in to the parking lot at the Garden State Plaza, to waste a bit
more time. His mother's routine almost never varied. He gave
her another hour to be sure she would be sawing wood.
Lights off, he pulled around to the back of the house, leaving
the engine idling softly. He turned his key cautiously in the
back door, padded to the kitchen, extinguished the pilot lights
on the stove, and turned all four burners to high. Careful to
relock the door on his way out, he was back on I-95 within the
It seemed like he had only just gotten to sleep when his cell
phone blared. "Hello?"
"B-brett, you've got to get the next train home!"
"What is it Trish?"
"Your m-mom. There's been an explosion and fire."
"Was she hurt?"
"Oh, Brett, I'm so sorry..."
"Trisha, you're not telling me..."
"She d-didn't make it out."
"No! No! I'll be on the next train. I'll call you with my
Brett looked grimly in the mirror. It had worked, but now he had
to practice looking bereaved. He gathered his things, checked
out, and fought his way through morning traffic to the rental
"Would you like us to charge the credit card on file?" the clerk
"No, thank you, I'm paying cash."
Trisha flung herself in to his arms as he entered the train
station. "Oh, Brett, it is horrible!"
"I know, sweetheart, but we'll get through it together."
A few days after masquerading through the funeral, Brett finally
sat in his mother's attorney's office. "Brett, I am so sorry for
"Thank you, Mr. Duncan. I'm depending on you to help me through
the process of taking care of Mom's affairs."
"Well, there isn't really much you will need to do. She had
selected her friend Gladys as executor."
"She left this letter for you." Mr. Duncan pushed an envelope
across his desk.
Brett opened it with shaking hands, unfolded the single sheet,
I'm sure leaving Gladys as executor is a shock to you. I want
you to know that she will administer trust funds for Megan's and
Randal's college education. Otherwise, my assets will be funding
various missions I support. I hope, in time, that you will learn
that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. When
you do, you will be so much happier.
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