What a Bastard!

June Averill rang the doorbell and was greeted by an attractive, slightly overweight, brunette in her mid-20s, who said simply but not unkindly, “Yes? May I help you?” June could see from the traces of smudged mascara that the young woman had been crying. In the case of an ordinary death that would not be unusual, June thought, but why would anyone other than Rosemary cry over Harry? The man was such a bastard!

“Oh, hello. I’m June Averill. Would you please tell Ms. Mueller I’m here? She’s expecting me.” Then she added, “You must be new. I’ve never met a woman butler before.”

The young woman laughed softly and easily. “Of course. You must be Aunt Rosemary’s old friend June! She said you were coming today. I’m sorry to disappoint you, Ms. Averill, but I’m not the butler. I’m Linda Sue.” She had been living with Rosemary and Harry for a few months now, and she had talked with June on the phone several times, but had never met her in person. She wasn’t quite what Linda Sue expected. “It’s nice to finally meet you in person.” As she said this, a mist of tears formed again in Linda Sue’s eyes and the young woman dabbed at them with her hand. “As far as I know, Aunt Rosemary and Uncle Harry never had a butler. Or any other servants. You’d think with all that money. . .”

That cheap bastard, June thought, all those billions and he drafted Rosemary’s niece as household help! She knew Rosemary had never had a cook until the last few years. She always claimed that she did all the cooking because she liked to cook, but June believed that was only partially true.

Linda Sue, recognizing the slight look of disgust on June’s face, went on, “Oh no. It’s not like that at all! They did it to help me out. I was coming out of a really horrible relationship when Aunt Rosemary invited me to stay with them for awhile. I really needed to get out of Omaha. I don’t think Uncle Harry was too keen on the idea at first.” She laughed. “He thought I must be just another gold-digging relative. I heard him tell her that one night, but she insisted that wasn’t the case. For the first six weeks or so, he never called me by my name. Referred to me only as “that girl” whenever he talked about me. But, I think Aunt Rosemary finally convinced him that I was family and that he was more than up to the task of protecting his bank account from me!” Linda Sue laughed at the thought.

“Are you here all alone?” June asked, “Things must be very hectic here today.”

“Madeline stayed in today.” Madeline handled public relations for Harry’s company, usually from an office in the city. Talk about a challenge, June thought. The phrase like putting lipstick on a pig comes to mind! “She’s been covering the phone while I handle the door. She’s been a lot busier than me. I told her to just let it go to voicemail. I even found time to make lunch for us and Aunt Rosemary. Would you like something to eat?”

As they were talking Jane could hear the phone in the other room. “The phone just goes on ringing.” Madeline had been on Harry’s staff for more than a decade, and, like other of the small number of loyal employees, she seemed to have little trouble working with him. Madeline was the daughter of one of June’s childhood friends. Jane had actually been the one who introduced her to Rosemary and Harry years ago. Madeline had been working for the local newspaper at that time. What was that rag called? The Daily Eagle and Something. Even though Harry paid her a smaller salary than she might have made elsewhere, it was more than she had made at the newspaper and Madeline always told June and others that she was glad to be working for Harry. Madeline had been very attractive then, glamorous even, and there had been rumors shortly after she came to work for him that Harry was having an affair with Madeline. This had made June feel disloyal to Rosemary for bringing them together. Rosemary had raised the issue with June once, assuring her that there was nothing to worry about. Rosemary just laughed. “The wife is always the last to know,” June told her, and Rosemary replied, “Not in this case, sweety. Not in this case.”

At that, June smiled. Linda Sue went on, “When my Dad said that Aunt Rosemary felt bad about my breakup and wanted me to come and live with them, I thought, ‘What the heck? So they’ve got a few million dollars. So what? Money really doesn’t interest me.’ She laughed again.

“It’s really rather awkward. All that money. At first, I admit, I was rather in awe of the whole thing. Aunt Rosemary is my Dad’s sister, you know, but they weren’t at all close. Dad was quite a bit younger and then he moved to Iowa a long time ago, and that’s where he married my Mom. When I first moved in I was really scared of Uncle Harry. He had such a terrible reputation! I thought he resented me being here. Since they never had any kids, you know, I think he really didn’t know how to act around me. . . ” Her voice trailed off

“I’m sorry.” She continued after an awkward pause. “I know you were Aunt Rosemary’s best friend, and you know all this already. Were? Are? Oh, I’m sorry. This has been a very awful day and its hard to know what to say. She’s upstairs and she’s expecting you. Let’s just go up.”

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