Go Tell the Spartans

Go Tell the Spartans

Status: Finished

Genre: Literary Fiction

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Literary Fiction

Summary

When a man loses his beloved grand mother, he doesn't expect to be faced with an epic receiving help from an unexpected quarter.

Summary

When a man loses his beloved grand mother, he doesn't expect to be faced with an epic receiving help from an unexpected quarter.

Content

Submitted: February 18, 2017

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Content

Submitted: February 18, 2017

A A A

A A A


“Stranger, Go tell the Spartans
that we lie here in obedience
to their laws.”

(Inscription upon the Spartan tomb at Thermopalye).


I had only been away on my course a few days when the call came. Nan had collapsed and was being taken to hospital. I drove to her as fast as my clapped out Fiat would go, the feeling of dread grasped my heart it its icy grip. Mentally I beat myself for leaving her, I should have stayed. But she would have none of it.
"I want you to go on your course Adam", she stated, "I'll be fine Alan and Marjorie will keep an eye on me."
"Terrific!" I replied, far from happy at leaving her in the care of my aunt and uncle. "I'm really reassured by that Nan." Alan & Marjorie were about as useful as a chocolate fire guard. "I'll ask Mrs Haskell to pop by just to be sure."
"I'd sooner have Hannibal Lecter come and visit me." She snapped.
Mrs Haskell was our next door neighbour, about the same age as Nan and the local busybody. That said, I had known her since childhood and trusted her to look out for Nan far more than Alan or Marjorie. My instincts were confirmed when Mrs Haskell called me, I heard nothing from Alan or Marjorie.
"It's just a matter of time Mr Hunter," the doctor said regretfully, "There is nothing we can do for your grand mother except to make her comfortable, I'm sorry."
I sat alone with Nan in the private room, just holding her tiny hand watching helplessly as she slowly slipped away.
"Adam?" Her voice was weak.
"Yes Nan." My voice shook I felt the burning sensation in my eyes.
 Her hand gently patted mine and I caught the flicker of a smile, "Team Hunter," she whispered, her voice so weak now.
"Yes Nan, Team Hunter."
"You need a shave Adam." And with that - she was gone.


I don't know how long I remained by Nan's side but when I finally left her Mrs Haskell was the only person waiting for me.
Until this moment I had never known what true loss was. I was very young when I lost my parents Nan had raised me as if I was her own son, much to Alan's annoyance. Marjorie was different she had been like an older sister, she's a gentle lady, some would say timid. Not someone known to have opinions about anything, tending to defer to others in taking the lead on issues, particularly where Alan was concerned, he thought he ruled the roost.
Nan always called us 'Team Hunter,' because the two of us worked together so well, there seemed nothing that we couldn't deal with, including her illness. She was an incredibly tough lady for her size, all five feet, a pint sized lady with more energy and drive than others less than half her eighty years. I was concerned though I could see she was really slowing down, even, if she wouldn't admit it.


I saw very little of Alan and Marjorie before Nan's funeral, they seemed completely indifferent leaving me to make all the arrangements. They turned up on the day of the funeral said very little then left.
It was about a month later that Alan came by to inform me that he was planing on contesting Nan's will and wanted to give me the opportunity of agreeing a settlement before hand, or face the humiliation of losing spectacularly in court. How generous of him. Alan told me that both he and Marjorie were not happy with what Nan had left them, so they were going to go after a part share of the value of the house, the house that was now mine. I was completely unprepared for this — he had me on a back footer and no mistake. The easiest way would be to just pay him and his greedy of a sister off, thereby taking the path of least resistance.

 

"How much do you want?" I asked, his eyes lit up at the question.
"Fifteen thousand," he replied, then added "each."
Thirty thousand for these parasites, the very idea was obscene. "My, my, we are greedy."
"It'll cost you a damn sight more if we contest the will and take it to court," he sneered, "My mum's house has got to be worth — what? One hundred and fifty — two hundred thousand, we're doing you a favour."
"Perhaps," I replied, "I'll give it some thought and let you know."
"Don't take too long I'm not a patient man."
"I said I'll let you know, now see yourself out — there's a good chap."
Nearing the door he turned to me. "Don't take too long Adam."
It took all of my self control not to plant my fist into his parasitic money grabbing face. "Get out!"  I shouted feeling myself begin shake in a mixture of anger and grief. "Nan," I whispered to myself after he'd left. "What am I going to do?"

Poor Nan she deserved so much better than this, not buried three months and already her two ungrateful children were baying for their inheritance. Or, to be more accurate the inheritance they believed they were entitled to, not, what they are actually due. Though, on reflection I concluded I was wrong about Marjorie, this was all Alan's doing Marjorie, as always was just doing what she was told. Lambert and Swain were a small law firm just outside of town, well established and one that Nan used for many years. Now they acted as executors of her will. Mrs Allaway was a senior associate with the firm, who, with her conservative dark dress and grey hair looked uncannily like the actress June Whitfield.
Having explained my situation I sat back and waited.


"This is a tricky case," she began "When, your late grand mother and yourself bought her house together she paid the deposit."
"Yes about thirty thousand," I replied.
"It's your grand mother's deposit contribution they are going after, claiming that it constitutes part of her estate. Your mortgage payments in buying the property don't count."
"What are my options?"
"As I see it," she began, "there are two. Firstly, a settlement, pay them off and be done with it."
"I see, I don't like the sound of that at all and the second?"
"Do nothing," She states abruptly.
"Do Nothing?" I exclaimed, "What sort of option is that?"
"It calls their bluff we then wait and see what happens having prepared for the worst case scenario of fighting it out in court."
"A fight that could easily go against them right Mrs Allaway?"
"Quite so, or, in their favour this type of case is notoriously difficult to predict."
"So what do you advise?"
She removed her glasses and gave the lenses a wipe with a small yellow cloth that lay on her desk. "My advice — is do nothing, let them make the next move, see how brave they really are."
"Prepare for the worst and hope for the best."
"Exactly, if they want the money make them work for it or decide to back off completely."
"Thank you Mrs Allaway you've been very helpful."

Returning home I took a long shower the day had been both emotionally and mentally draining, I really did not need this pressure. The temptation to make a settlement was very strong, even if it did ultimately mean giving into blackmail. My thoughts were interrupted by the whistling of the kettle on the gas stove I smiled, Nan never did move into the twenty first century insisting upon keeping her faithful metal whistling model. It felt like an old friend near by and  that nan wasn't far away. Picking up the cup of tea I made my way into the front room and lay upon the comfy sofa, adjusted the cushions before getting back to my book.
There is something so very satisfying in a well written novel, one that completely absorbs you. I found myself wishing I was a Spartan warrior facing the Persian horde at the pass of Thermopalye just like the main character; somehow it seemed immensely preferable to the possible battle I was faced with. At least he had his fellow Spartans at his side, where as I, was completely alone. I must have drifted off at some point as I awoke to find my tea had gone cold glancing at my watch it was ten thirty, time for bed. Making my way upstairs I saw the picture hanging outside of my bedroom, strange that I hadn't noticed it before! It had been taken at my graduation Nan was standing by my side her little hand in mine smiling, looking very proud. It had been an amazing day, one I had been so pleased to have shared with her. The fact that she came despite her ill health had made it all the more special.

I awoke with a start! The images of the dream still vivid in my mind — and what a dream!
"So you've come to your senses and agreed to settle?" Alan asked impatiently.
"I've made a decision if that's what you mean," I replied.
"You make it sound like you have a choice Adam, let me tell you —  you don't."
"There's always a choice Alan, it's just a case of whether you are willing to accept the consequences of that choice".
"What do you mean by that?"
"Ever heard of Thermopalye? It was battle fought between the Greeks and Persians over two thousand years ago."
"I don't want a bloody history lesson Adam." My uncle shouted.
"The Greek force was led by the Spartan king Leonidas and his Spartan warriors, they held the pass blocking the Persian advance so the Persian king Xerxes sent a herald with an ultimatum to the Greeks."


The images of the dream came flooding back, I stood at the entrance of the pass dressed in the armour of a Spartan warrior facing the Persian herald.
"King Leonidas," the herald addressed me, "My Lord Xerxes King of Persia offers you the chance to surrender. Lay down your weapons — leave the pass, and my king gives you his sacred word that neither you, nor your courageous warriors will not be harmed."
"And if we do not?" I heard myself reply.
"Then the order will be given for our archers to open fire and wipe out your insignificant force." The herald hissed.
Sensing movement to my left I turned to see Nan appear at my side also dressed as a Spartan warrior.
Placing her small hand in mine, she replied, "Then you better have a lot of archers," she declared.
"Our archers are so numerous  that their arrows will blot out the sun," the herald declared arrogantly.
"Good," replied Nan looking up, "it is a hot day, so we'll have our battle in the shade."
The herald starred dumb founded at her for a moment then turned to me. "What is your answer King Leonidas?"
"Tell Xerxes —  if he wants our weapons and this pass to —  COME AND TAKE THEM!"
I felt Nan squeeze my hand, "Team Hunter," she whispered, then gently removing her little hand from mine and walked away.
It was then — I understood.

Alan watched as I pulled out my mobile phone and dialled, I waited for a few moments, "Mrs Allaway, it's Adam Hunter, with regard to what we discussed yesterday I've decided not to settle, under any circumstances. Yes, I understand Mrs Allaway, thank you for your time."
Turning to my uncle he just stood starring at me mouth agape, "OK Alan, you have my answer. Now — do your worst, come and take it!"
Alan stormed out slamming the door behind him shouting "You'll be sorry Adam, you'll be bloody sorry!"
A month passed then six months, but nothing happened, Alan and Marjorie never did tak
e on 'Team Hunter.'


© Copyright 2017 Gerard Peters. All rights reserved.

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