The Six-Month Backslide Part 2

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The stillness of the lawyer's office waiting room gave Jeff an uneasy feeling. Although, one would be hard-pressed to think of a scenario where someone would be excited to be sitting in a lawyer's office. It's not like anyone ever burst into a room and said "Hey kids, guess who gets to go to the lawyer's office?" followed by the euphoric cries of a bunch of seven-year-olds.

Granted, it's not as bad as sitting in a dentist's office or hospital waiting room, but there is still something unsettling about it. One thought strikes Jeff as he sees the diplomas hanging on the wall. Why is it the most educated amongst us seem to be the most insecure about proving how educated they are? Yes, we get it, you have multiple degrees. Your parents must be very proud.

"He's ready for you now, Mr. Dempsey."

The receptionist's voice interrupted what was building up to be a pretty good rant in Jeff's head. Oh well, he'll have to put a pin in it for another time. Jeff gets up and follows the receptionist into a large office where a middle-aged man in a dark blue suit gets up from behind his desk and offers his hand to Jeff.

"Nice to meet you, Jeff. I'm Leonard, you can call me Len. I'm Dr. Moore's attorney. I'm very sorry for your loss." Jeff shakes his hand.

"Thank you," he says with just a bit of hesitation. It feels weird taking ownership of "the loss." Len motions to Jeff to sit down and Jeff obliges.

"As I'm sure you're aware, Dr. Moore has named you executor of his estate."

As soon as he looked up and saw the shocked and horrified look on Jeff's face, it became clear that this was news to Jeff. His expression would not have changed an iota if the lawyer said, 'As I'm sure you're aware, a pack of rabid wolverines will be charging through that door to tear you limb from limb."

"Excuse me?" is all Jeff could spit out at that particular moment.

"I'm sorry I thought you knew. Stephen, er, I mean Dr. Moore didn't have any close living family. He has some distant nieces and nephews but they were family by blood only. They barely saw him in his later years. He always said you were the only family he had.

Jeff is overwhelmed to hear this but he really shouldn't be. When Jeff was a student at Holy Trinity, he had Dr. Moore as a teacher for two years of chemistry. They had a very good teacher-student relationship. Dr. Moore would always ask him about his basketball exploits. He never went to any of the games because he felt it was beneath him. But he genuinely cared about how Jeff was doing and, for his part, Jeff could sense there was something special about this teacher.

Jeff's favorite story was the time he came to class late because of a dentist appointment and when he walked into the classroom, every pair of eyes were on him and followed him from the door to his desk. Occasionally they would look over at Dr. Moore and then back to Jeff. It was creepy and bizarre and Jeff couldn't imagine why he was such a spectacle.

After the class, Dr. Moore waved him up to the front of the class and explained what he missed. After too many students were stragglers coming in and getting ready to start on time, Dr. Moore threw one of his hall-of-fame temper tantrums. He screamed and broke his yardstick over a student's desk. He lectured them about punctuality and how the lack of it was a sign of disrespect. He vowed that the next person to walk through his door late for class would feel the wrath of Almighty God come down upon him.

"Why didn't you freak out on me then?" Jeff asked.

"I figured you had a good excuse. And besides, I had already accomplished what I needed to. Students will take advantage of my kindness and gentleness so every once in a while, I need to put on a Lawrence Olivier worthy performance to snap them back in line."

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