The Unread Will
by Benjamin Ringold
City: New York
The jealous family of an ailing woman gathers to hear the reading of her will, but somebody seems unwilling to wait for nature to take its course.
The entrance hall to the Gonzales Mansion was over two stories high. Oak paneling, studded with uncomfortably large brass light fixtures, rose up the first ten feet or so. Above that, stretched oversized paintings that I guessed were the paragons of Gonzales generations past. The paintings were meant to be awe inspiring and dignified, but the odd dimensions of the room conspired against that goal. They were so long, and placed so high on the walls, that from my perspective, they resembled nothing so much as stilted clowns, with impossibly long legs and tiny, backlit heads. This illusion was magnified by the midday sun, streaming through stained glass windows that colored their faces with vibrant shades of green and yellow.