An Absent Mind
by Eric Rill
A riveting new novel from Eric Rill, author of Pinnacle of Deceit and The Innocent Traitor, is about a race against time. The ticking time bomb is Saul Reimer’s sanity. His Alzheimer’s is going to be the catalyst that will either bring his family together or tear it apart.
She’s pushing me around like some kind of kid in the playground. I mean, I’m still okay, not gone off the deep end—yet. Why can’t she just let me be? Let me have the last whatever time I have to be happy. But that’s not her style. She’s still as pushy as ever, still the master controller. Still wants to run the damn show.
Today was a perfect example. She must have called Nat Friedman sometime during the night. I heard some noises while I was tossing and turning in bed. At first, I thought it was the cat, but I don’t think we have one. And besides, the sounds were too big. So it must have been her in cahoots with Friedman. I’ve suspected them for a long time. They’re trying to steal my money, making sure my final days are miserable and denying the kids what is rightfully theirs. Friedman was always a money-grubber. One of those two-bit lawyers who prey on their clients by jacking up fees to whatever they think they can get away with. He’s done it to me, to Arthur Winslow, to everyone who goes to him. Why we keep going back, I don’t know, except they’re all the same. I remember Mark Miller, a big shot tax lawyer with one of the major firms in the city. I referred a friend to him, and he hosed him so badly for doing almost nothing. Worse thing was, he didn’t even do what little work there was. He passed it down to some minion, showed up for a couple of meetings, and then sent a bill that would have sunk the Titanic—but that’s another story.
I can accept the overcharging, but I don’t think someone like Friedman should use his fancy degree and being a member of the Quebec Bar—big deal, member of the Bar—to take advantage of Monique. Although my guess is that the last few years she didn’t need a lot of coaxing. I think she’s been fooling around for a long time. But Friedman, he’s supposed to be my friend. Some friend, speaking to my wife in the middle of the night, conspiring to get rid of me so they can be together and steal all my money.
Well, I showed them today. Friedman wanted to be the guy who handles my stuff while I’m alive and wanted Monique to help him. Do I look like a schmuck? I know they’re both like vultures waiting for their prey to die so they can suck on its sweet flesh. They want the right to kill me. Yes, that’s correct—kill me. When you sign one of those things, and if you’re a little bit off your rocker, or in a … you know, like a deep-sleep thing, they can tell the doctor to kill you. In two seconds, they can send you to heaven or hell.
So I sat there and listened and nodded and whatever, and they thought I was being suckered by their sneaky plan. But when Monique left the room, I told Friedman I wasn’t going to let them do me in. He gave me one of his phony endearing smiles and assured me that wasn’t the case.
“What is the case?” I asked.
He said he was only trying to help me, to look after me, to watch over the family, Joey, Bernie, Florence, and, of course, Monique.
“Yeah, I bet you’re going to look out for the family,” I said. I told him I knew about him and Monique.
Again he plastered that sympathetic smile of his on his face, like he was so sorry for my inability to see the truth. Sometimes I think they take a full semester in law school learning how to do that smile. Friedman must have got an A. Anyway, I told him he wasn’t going to be the one who decided anything about my money, or when I die. He put his hand on my arm and asked me to reconsider, again giving me that damn beaming grin of his. God, I would have liked to have dented a few of those too-white teeth of his. But then he probably has big connections with the police, being a big shot lawyer and all. And I didn’t want to spend my last days in some stinking jail having those perverts try to make me their girl, or whatever you call it. Those guys are sick, really sick. Sicker than me. Can you imagine big macho guys doing that stuff to each other? No wonder they send them to jail!
Enough of that. Let me tell you how I handled the will thing. You see, at first, before I knew that Monique was fooling around, I was leaving her everything, so long as she took care of the kids and willed them whatever was left when she was gone. So while she was sitting in Friedman’s conference room, filing her nails, or whatever women do when they have nothing to do—which in Monique’s case is often. I mean volunteer work at the YMCA … big deal. She never really worked. I mean never had a real job. She always said she wanted to but that she couldn’t find work because she had no experience. Then when she got older, she said no one wanted to hire a woman her age. Gimme a break. If she wanted to get off her fat tush and find a job, she could have. But she preferred to have me sweat day and night to make the money while she played mahjong with her fancy lady friends. Well, they say you always marry your mother!
Anyway, while she was in there, I discussed it all with Friedman. Yeah, I decided to keep Friedman as my lawyer. I’m getting too sick to start changing at this point, and they’re all crooks anyway. He told me maybe I should just keep everything as is and that if I want to make changes in the future, I should let him know. That makes sense, I guess, because first of all, I’ll be damned if I’ll pay him to change my will twice—there would be almost nothing left! And besides, I’ll see how Monique behaves. Maybe I’ll leave her something; maybe I won’t.
Stranger Than Fiction
For my first novel, Pinnacle Of Deceit, I was fortunate to have the expertise of an ATF agent. But more than that, I was fortunate when I reached out to him again, telling him that the protagonist in my second novel, The Innocent Traitor, was a rogue CIA agent based in Guatemala, and did he know anyone who could help me with this? I practically choked on my blueberry muffin the next morning when I opened my email. “I have a contact,” it began, “who was a CIA agent based in Central America. He was retired by the Agency for inappropriate actions, although he still professes his actions were proper.” Did I want him to see if he would talk to me?
Three days later, my AFT new best friend called and said I could meet his contact a week later in the lobby of a Ramada Inn in south Florida. It was sort of the same story as my meeting with the Secret Service agent for my first book—he will know who I am.
I flew to Miami and drove approximately three hours and pulled up to the hotel. As I pushed open the front door, my eyes focused on a man sitting in an over-stuffed chair. He was wiry, maybe 45 years old, and dressed in a T-shirt, jeans, and cowboy boots. “Are you Rill?” he bellowed in a deep voice. “Let’s get out of here and get some seafood down the street.”
I responded, “Your car or mine?” He looked over at me like I was nuts. “What do you think?” Okay, I got it, he was still playing super sleuth. Or was he a real super sleuth?
Over lunch, he told me he was now based in a country in South America, which he did not divulge. He handled “proof of life” cases for kidnapped executives of American corporations or their relatives. His name was “Rick.” No last name. Nor would there ever be, although there almost was.
He ordered three gin and tonics before lunch arrived, and two more with lunch. At some point he said, “Would you like to know my real name?”
Boy, would I! But the wise thinking and honesty that my father instilled in me took over. “I would like that,” I said. “But, you’ve had five drinks, and later you may regret telling me. So why don’t you wait until our next chat?” As soon as those words left my mouth, I wanted them back—big time! But he just nodded and said, “Sounds good.”
That lunch was the start of a two-year relationship. I would never see him again, but we communicated many, many times over that period though an email account he gave me. He passed on so much useful information about the CIA, its policies, what they were doing in Central America, the lingo they used, and much more. The book would never have been as authentic, or as good, without his help. He asked only that when the book came out I send a copy to a PO box he would give me. I sent him an inscribed copy. A week later, he emailed me. There was only one sentence in his email: “You, my friend, got it right!”
I had passed muster with what was probably my toughest critic.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Eric Rill was born in Montreal and graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Arts, and from UCLA with an MBA. He held several executive positions in the hospitality industry, including president of a global hotel group. His hobbies include trekking, scuba diving, and collecting antique carpets. Eric has two sons and divides his time between his residence in Panama and international travel. You can reach him at his website at: www.ericrill.com
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/an-absent-mind-eric-rill/1118627870?ean=9780991014408