Marco, Marty and the Twins
by Nick Brady
Copyright © 2016 – 2016 by Nick Brady, all rights reserved.
A week after their conversation with Father Hoover, Marty got a call from Karen Bell about setting up a trust for the boys. She agreed to meet Marty and Marco over lunch in her private club to discuss their plans. When they met her they recognized her from church services.
She smiled and told them, "I know you from church. You have those beautiful twin boys and more recently an older boy has been with you. Is that the family?"
"Yes, that would be us. You look familiar too, but I don't think we have met formally," Marty told her. "I 'm Marty Montgomery and this my partner Marco."
"I am so pleased to meet you although you will find that I am not a very formal person. You have a beautiful family," she smiled and offered them her hand. They ordered their lunch and made small talk while they ate.
"Father Hoover has told me a little about your situation. I understand that he officiated at your wedding and was of some assistance when you adopted Samuel and Benjamin, is that correct?"
"Yes, he has been with us every step of the way. We owe him a great deal," Marco told her.
"Father Hoover told me a few things about you. Just to save time, let me see if I got his right. Samuel and Benjamin are your legally adopted sons. The older boy is Brian I believe, but he is with you rather informally. What is his situation?"
Marty explained, "Brian was the Den Leader for the boy's Cub Scout den and has been wonderful to them. Later when we found out that he was in a very abusive situation we invited him to say with us. It was supposed to be temporary at first but he has become a real member of our family. He's really a great kid."
"Yes, that is what I understood from Father Hoover. He holds all of you to be very dear to him," she assured them.
"And he to us. He is much more that just our parish priest."
She looked at Marty and said, "My understanding is that you have received an inheritance from your mother and you wish to create some trusts to facilitate the education of all three boys, is that correct?"
'Yes, that's the idea. We really don't know how these things work and need some good counsel."
"That is why I am here," she smiled. "May I ask what sort of resources we are talking about?"
Marty lowered his voice and glanced around. "I believe we will be close to one million dollars when the dust settles.''
"Oh my. Well, that should take care of a lot of school expenses. I think you are talking about more than just an educational trust fund here. While Brian will be ready for college soon, your twins will have a little while before they will need to draw on their fund. In the meantime there are some very secure ways of investing those funds so that the balance will grow and perhaps even offset the expenditure. If we manage this properly they will have additional resources to draw on even after they complete their education. While you are both still young and productive, you might wish to consider your eventual retirement. Another consideration is to provide for these young men in the event that you are no longer able to due to death or disability. Properly managed this can provide a great deal of security for all of you."
She paused, "Am I going to fast for you?"
Marty laughed. "No, I'm following what you are saying and I am delighted in the direction you are leading us. I think this is exactly the sort of thing we want to do. Please walk us through how to do it."
Karen smiled. "Of course, but first what questions or concerns do you have for me?"
"I do have a couple of concerns," Marty told her. "We are concerned that some previous family members might reappear and make problems, both with Marco and with Brian. I think Sam and Ben are free of other family but people can appear out of the woodwork when a lot of money is involved."
"You are absolutely correct, that can be a concern. I can assure you that we can make this very tight and can protect all of you in that regard. Tell me a little about Brian's situation. His relationship with you is rather informal I gather."
"Yes it is, and that is a real concern to me. He has a mother and grandmother who have turned their backs on him but are still around somewhere. His father has been out of the picture for some time but I don't know where he is. We would consider adopting him even at this late date if that would be helpful, but that would involve some court proceedings that might bring his family back into the picture."
"I see. We need to be sure that whatever trust is set up for him insulates him from that possibility. How old is Brian?"
"He will be a senior in high school this year and will be turning eighteen soon ."
"Will he be eighteen before he begins college?"
"Yes he will be," Marty assured her.
Karen shrugged. "When he is legally of majority age then he can easily defend himself from claims from any family members. Particularly when it can be demonstrated that they have essentially abandoned him for the past several years. I really don't see that as a problem. We can make this very tight."
Marco smiled. "You sound like you know what you are doing."
"I do. That is my business and I can tell you that I'm good at it."
Karen leaned back in her chair and smiled. "I think we can do this, although a restaurant is probably not the place to work out the details. Why don't we set up some time in my office to hash this out. Can you give me a few days to put some things together and then I can schedule an appointment for sometime next week?"
"That sounds wonderful," Marty said. "Let us know when you want to meet with us and we will be there."
"Splendid. I really think you will find this is less complicated than you may think. I have lots of experience. I am just delighted to be of service to you."
They shook hands to part and she even picked up the tab for lunch.
The following Monday night, Marty came home from work with the news that he had received a call from a Realtor about their house.
Marco laughed, "Wow, when you turn Father Hoover loose things start to happen."
"He is a good man to have on our side. This guy also says he knows us from church although I can't place him."
"We'll probably recognize him when we see him. Is he coming over?"
"He wants to drop by this evening. Is that OK with you?"
"Sure, bring him on. Should we start packing now?"
Marty laughed, "I don't think so but you never know. I think he just wants to look at our house. Now that school has started the boys will all be at Scouts and we can talk to him by ourselves."
"Should I try to straighten up?"
"I don't think he will care if we are messy. He just wants to look at the house."
When the gentleman arrived he did look familiar, and he seemed to know all about them. "Hello, I am Fred Sterling. I think I know you from church."
"Yes, you do look familiar now that I see you. Everyone seems to know us already."
Fred smiled. "Well, a family like yours does stand out from the crowd. Father Hoover tells me that you are thinking about trading up to a larger place."
"Yes, we are a family of five with three boys and only one bathroom. We could use a little more room."
"I understand. I have four kids myself and three are girls. I can assure you I understand about adequate bathrooms. Can you show me around?"
"Yes of course. Brace yourself for the twin's room."
He took the tour then looked out in the back yard and paid close attention to the kitchen and bathroom.
"The house looks to be in good shape. Probably we will want to remodel the kitchen and bath. Those sell a house quicker than anything. I will need to have someone come out and inspect for termites and look at the roof. Some paint and new carpeting and you will be fine. You should at least be at market value."
He sat down on the sofa and pulled a large three-ring binder out to show them some houses. "What do you have in mind? Something new, a particular part of town? Give me some idea of what you feel will suit your family."
Marty leaned back and looked at Marco. "You generally take care of the house. What sounds good to you?"
"I suppose a new house might be nice but we might like to look at an older home with some established trees and landscaping. New houses look kind of bare. And I think it would be good to be able to keep the boys in the same school district, especially for Brian who will be a senior this year. I don't think we need something big, just more comfortable."
Fred smiled, "I think I have something you might like. Let me show you some photos."
Marco and Marty sat on each side and looked at several photographs of a compact two story house faced with stone and surrounded by large trees.
"This was built in the 1930's in what is now an older part of town. It is on the opposite side of the same school district you are in now. There is a large living room and small study downstairs with a master bedroom and bath, and a half-bath off the kitchen The kitchen is fairly large with a dining area off to one side. Upstairs are three bedrooms and another full bathroom. Notice that there is a really nice stone fireplace in the living room. The bathrooms are in good condition although the fixtures are not new. The kitchen has been remodeled with granite counter-tops and some nice appliances. There is a privacy fence around the back and a flagstone patio next to the house with a pergola on one side. The previous owners lived there for a long time and loved to garden so there are a lot of established shrubbery and ornamentals on the perimeter."
"From the pictures this looks really nice," Marty said, "I don't know that we will have time to keep up a lot of this landscaping though."
"The upkeep should be minimal. These are all perennials with azaleas and dogwood trees in front and lilacs and hydrangeas behind. Those climbing roses on the fence are very hardy and the big vines on the pergola are wisteria. It is quite lovely in the spring and summer. You will need to water and mow, but this is all pretty low maintenance really." Fred turned to some photos of the front and rear with the plantings in bloom.
A smile crept over Marco's face. "This looks wonderful. I could use that little study for a studio and I love the fireplace. Can we afford this place?"
Fred pulled out a pocket calculator and began to tap on the keys. "If you take it like it is I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how affordable we can do this. This is very rough of course, but mortgage rates are quite low right now. With a new loan and a good price for your old house we can come close to what you are paying now on this house." He showed them the numbers.
"Does 'like it is' mean it needs a lot of work?" Marty wondered.
"Not really. The house is sound and has a slate roof. It has hardwood floors that you might want to have sanded and refinished before you move in, but that is not a major expense. It can use some freshening up inside with paint and paper if you like, but that is all the sort of thing you can do yourself. I understand you have some cheap labor available."
"Yes, we could recruit the boys to help with a lot of that," Marty agreed. "Can we see the house?"
"Yes sir. It is vacant right now. When would you like to look at it?"
Marty looked at Marco. "I think we would like to see it, but this is all happening pretty quickly. Please be honest with us. What are the drawbacks to this place? Are there any negatives we should be aware of?"
Fred leaned back and shook his head. "I don't really think so. You will have to look at it and decide if it's right for you but when I talked to Father Hoover this is what immediately came to my mind. Now I will tell you that it is a nice stable neighborhood, but it is what we call a 'mixed' neighborhood."
"What is mixed?" Marty asked.
Fred shrugged. "Racially mixed. Almost all the homes are owned rather than rented, and the majority of homeowners have lived there for some time, but it is not an all white neighborhood. I don't know if that matters to you or not."
Marco laughed. "We are a pretty mixed family. If we are acceptable to the neighbors I imagine they will be fine with us. I don't see that as a problem at all."
"Actually I see that as a plus," Marty agreed. "When can we look at this place?"
"Whenever you like," Fred said. "Tomorrow?"
The next day was fine. They met the Realtor to look it over from top to bottom and fell in love with it. There was even a basement which was rare in Tulsa.
"I think this would be perfect," Marty told him. "Run the numbers and let's see where we are."
Later Marco and Marty sat and tried to start planning for a move. Across the neighborhood seemed as complicated as across the country.
"Man, we will have to box up all our stuff and probably toss half of it away," Marty complained.
"Half our stuff is junk anyway," Marco laughed. "This new place is bigger than where we are now. We might need some new furniture."
"True, but let's move in what we have then see what else we need. I don't want to get ahead of ourselves."
"When are we going to let the boys in on this? They might not be happy about moving."
"I think they will be when they see it. That's a nice place."
"How about we take them by to see it and then tell them we are thinking about moving there?"
"Are we still just thinking about it?" Marty asked.
"Well, we haven't signed any papers yet. It might be a good idea to get the boys on board first."
"That's a good idea. How about we run by there on Saturday before Brian goes off to work?"
"That sounds good," Marco smiled.
On Saturday morning they shook the boys out of bed early. "Get up you lazy bums, we have something to show you." Marco joked.
"Get dressed and we will stop for some doughnuts and then we want you to look at something," Marty told them.
Sleepy but curious, they dressed and stumbled out to the van. "Where are we going?" Ben wondered.
"It's not far, let's get some breakfast first," Marco said.
Doughnuts in hand they stopped in front of the stone house surrounded by big trees. "Nice place," Sam said. "Who lives here?"
"Nobody right now. Want to look around?" Marco asked.
First they walked around and looked at the front and back gardens, then Marty produced a key and they went inside.
"Gee, this is nice, but why are we looking at it?" Brian wondered.
"Well, we are thinking about moving in here. You guys could use a little more room." Marty explained.
"Wow, really? This is cool!" Ben exclaimed as they thundered upstairs.
"Do you like it?" Marco asked.
"This is really nice," Brian said. "But where would I go to school?"
"It's in the same district. You will still go to Edison," Marty told him.
"Where will we sleep?" Sam wondered.
"There are three bedrooms upstairs. You could each have your own bedroom if you like." Marco told him.
Ben looked a little uncertain. "I guess. These rooms are bigger though. Maybe me and Sam could still share a room."
"That's up to you. It might be nice to have an extra bedroom for a guest room."
"Hey look guys. We can have our own bathroom," Brian pointed out.
The more they looked around the more excited they got. They were on board.
"Are you guys OK with this?" Marco asked them.
"It will be different. I don't ever remember living anyplace besides where we are now," Sam said. "This is a nicer house though. I think I would like it."
"I am OK with it I guess. How far away from our old house is it?" Ben wondered.
"Just a few miles. You can still see your old neighborhood friends," Marty suggested. "What do you think, Brian?"
"Hey it's fine with me. As long as I am with you guys I don't care where I am."
"Sounds like we are all up for this. I guess we can go ahead. There is still a lot of paperwork to take care of so it will take a little time to work things out, but I think we will try to do this." Marty said. "Be thinking about what you want to bring over here and what can be pitched."
Brian went on to work and found Noah already in the shop.
"Hey college boy. What's new with you?"
Brian laughed. "Now we are going to move. I never know what will happen next."
"Move where? You leaving Tulsa?"
"No, just to a different house. I can stay in the same school and everything. It's a real nice place."
"Oh, that's good. I thought you going to move away," Noah said.
"Why? Would you miss me?"
"Well, maybe a little. Good help is hard to find you know."
"Ah, I thought maybe you were sweet on me or something."
"No future in that," Noah grumbled.
"Why do you say that? I thought we were friends."
"Well, maybe I thought we could be a little more than friends. But you seem to have other plans."
Brian grinned, "Maybe friends with benefits. I just didn't want you to take me for granted is all."
"Hey, don't mess with me. I was beginning to think maybe I cared about you."
"I like you too. I told you how I felt about that."
Noah shrugged and went back to working on his bicycle. Brian thought of several things to say and decided to say nothing. They worked in silence for awhile.
"Did you think some more about those business classes?" he asked Noah.
"What's eating you?" Brian asked. "You pissed at me?"
"No, not really. It's just that you seem to have everything going for you and I'm sort of stuck."
Brian tried to understand what was eating at Noah. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you feel bad. I don't know what to say."
"It's not you Brian, it's me. It's just that and you are on track to do some cool things.and I'm not going anywhere."
"Hey, you are in charge of your life. If you are not happy with where you are maybe you should change things, make a plan, you know?"
"That's easy for you to say. You have this nice family and people to support you. I got nothing, man."
Brian looked at him. "You have me. I'm your friend and would do anything I could for you. But this is your deal, Noah. What do you want to do?"
"I don't really know. Maybe that's the problem."
"Don't you have anybody behind you?"
"Not really. Wayne maybe. I guess I'm kind of a loner."
"So what can I do for you? You sound pretty down on yourself."
"Well look at me. I'm 22 years old and all I know how to do is fix bikes. I'm nobody and going nowhere."
Brian looked at him and thought about what he could say. "What are you afraid of?"
"I'm not afraid of anything."
"Then what's holding you back?"
Noah slammed down his wrench and stomped out the side door. Brian considered following him outside then thought better of it. Probably he would cool off in a few minutes and return. Brian picked up the wrench and continued working on the bike.
Samuel and Benjamin sat on the bottom bunk of their room and looked around.
"This is kind of weird. I don't ever remember being anywhere but here," Sam recalled.
"Yeah, this has been our room like, forever."
"The new house is cool though. I guess it's older than this one, but it will be new to us."
"Do you want to move?"
"I guess. We will have to pack up all our stuff though. That will be a pain."
"We won't live a couple of blocks from Austin any more."
"I guess we'll see him at Scouts. I bet we won't see Bobby and Tyron as much either."
"No, that will kind of suck. But Papa said we will make some new friends. I wonder if there are any other kids in the new neighborhood."
"I hope so. I don't think we will go to the same school though. Brian will but we won't."
"Yeah. But we just started middle school so we don't know that many new guys there anyway."
"Right. I guess it'll be OK. I'll still have my best friend."
"Well you, dummy. I'll still have my brother," Sam nudged Ben with his elbow.
Ben grinned at his twin. "Well of course. We were born together and I guess we will always be together, won't we?"
"I don't know. I guess so. I kind of hope so. I mean, you piss me off sometimes but I can't imagine you not being with me."
"Yeah, me too."
"Brian is gonna leave pretty soon."
"Not until after he gets out of high school. That's another year, almost."
"I'll miss him when he goes somewhere else – to college or wherever."
"Me too, but he's not gone yet."
"He's either at school or working. We don't get to see him that much anymore."
"I keep thinking he'll get a girlfriend or something."
"I don't think he has a girlfriend. Has he ever talked about a girlfriend?"
"Not that I can remember."
Sam looked at Ben. "Maybe Brian doesn't like girls. You reckon we are all gay?"
Ben giggled. "That's kind of funny. I never thought about Brian being gay. He's probably not. He's maybe just too busy for a girlfriend."
"I don't care. I doesn't bother me either way. I'm not sure we're gay for that matter. I haven't decided yet."
"No, me neither."
"When we get to the new house do you want your own room? Daddy said we could have our own bedrooms."
"I don't care. I kind of like sharing a room with you," Ben admitted. "It would be weird being all by myself. I wouldn't mind if we had enough room to put both the beds down on the floor so I didn't have to climb up into a top bunk."
"Yeah, that would be OK. The rooms are bigger and we could do that."
"I kind of like that idea."
"Me too. Lets do that so we can stay together. Daddy said that was up to us."
"I like the yard at the new place. All the trees and stuff. It's real pretty."
"The yard is smaller actually. There won't be as much to mow. That will be good."
"Right. Daddy or Brian mows most of the time anyway, but he said that we were supposed to start doing it at the new place."
"But he said he would pay us if we did a good job."
Ben looked over, "Who do you suppose is supposed to take care of all those shrubs and stuff?"
"I don't know. What do you have to do with shrubs?"
"You have to do something to them to keep them nice. There are a lot of flowerbeds too."
Sam grinned, "Maybe they will pay us."
"Yeah, that might be OK."
"Do you think you will miss this place?"
Ben looked around, "No, not really. I might miss being close to some of our friends but I won't miss the house. The new place is nicer and this is just a house. It looks like every other house in our neighborhood. The new one is kind of different."
"I think so too. I think I'm gonna like it. I like that fireplace. We never had a fireplace before."
"Especially at Christmas. We can hang stockings up and everything."
Yeah, that will be neat. And there is a staircase going upstairs. We can do something with that, like in the magazines."
"Do you think we will be in there before Christmas?"
"We should. School has just started, we should move by Christmas."
"That will be fun, really."
Just then Brian tapped at their door. "You guys in there?"
"Yeah, come on in," Ben yelled at him. "You back from work?"
"Yep. You got your homework done?"
Sam laughed. "Brian's home. Time to get to work."
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