Some People have all the Luck – Easter 1998

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It happened one Saturday. A telephone call from the hospital that sent both me and my brother running to the car, speeding down the road toward the city. The nurse who had watched over our mother for the past six months told us it was a matter of time now, and she had something important to tell us.

Both my brother and I knew what that was. The question of who was to receive the inheritance had never been discussed by us, for one simple reason, my brother and I didn’t talk, ever. It stemmed from our childhood, when the usual boyhood competition had spiralled into an argument never resolved between us. You’re wondering how something from childhood could stop us brothers speaking for twenty years aren’t you?

I knew, in my own mind, that I hadn’t a hope of getting the inheritance. Of that I was convinced, the man beside me confidently guiding the car around the twists and turns of the narrow road was, without a doubt, about to add to his considerable wealth.

He had always led a charmed life. He’d been through more tight spots, dangerous places, dicey corners that I cared to count. He’d escaped inescapable doom, cheated destiny and had always come out richer, wiser and the winner. In school, he’d talk his way out of any trouble and still have a perfect record behind him. He’d have the choice of the most beautiful women, whenever he wanted. In fact, he had everything. The boyish goods looks, the beautiful wife, cute kids, high powered, high paid job, – the life that suited him.

And me? Well, you could say luck was a scarce commodity for me. I was the short, fat one with the glasses. In school, teachers would frown at my results and say “why can’t you be like your brother?” At home, I was nagged and peeked to be like him. He had it all and I had nothing.

I hated him. His smug attitude to life, his total self-confidence – there was just something about him which attracted everyone and repelled me. I watched his meteoric rise with envious eyes, bitter and hateful, sulking in the unfairness of it all. The gulf between us grew and wasn’t bridged even at my father’s funeral. We kept a careful distance from each other. He stood in his expensive suit, and I watched courteous behind them. What further infuriated me was that he knew how I felt and accepted it, knowing why I was that way. His maturity drove me even further away from him. Isolated, bitter and vengeful I was on my own, while he had a warm family.

There was a terrible frosty silence between us in the car. We were travelling fast, the countryside flashing past in a blur, when we rounded that fateful corner and saw what looked like the end for us. A lorry was parked across the road, its driver kneeling, examining a wheel. I froze in shock. “John!” I shouted at him, panicking.

Looking at him, I could almost hear his brain working, his agile mind plotting and planning as the car hurtled towards the lorry. In a second, he’d made his decision and acted on it. He swung the wheel over, guiding the car toward the ditch. I saw what he was trying to do. A gap, no wider than the car lay between the lorry and the wall. I refused to believe it “You’re not, are you?” He nodded. “But it’s impossible!” I exploded “You’ll never ……. ..mean, you can’t!”

But John was never a good judge of what he couldn’t do. My pessimistic little mind was screaming pessimistic thoughts at me. We were going to smash straight into that lorry and be crushed, and as I was reaching for pen and paper to write my last will and testament, he pressed the brake gently giving just enough power for the car to sweep into the gap, ride up the ditch and come skidding out the far side untouched.

The astonishment, at being alive, came first. How did we survive that? Because of John’s driving. Almost straight away I felt angry again. Now he’s a hero, saved both our lives. Just great, I looked over at him. He was sighing with relief, his eyes closed. But I didn’t see anymore. I was too busy pointing out the window and shouting. In a fraction of a second he closed his eyes, a tractor had pulled out in front of us.

There was no time for any fancy or daring plans this time. He woke up and stood on the brakes. The wheels locked and the car spun crazily toward the tractor. It may sound like we had a long time to escape, but it really happened in a fraction of a second. I had a fleeting glimpse of countryside – before the black oblivion swallowed me up.

It was in the papers the next day. “Lady Kelly’s sons in car smash”. Both of Lady Ann Kelly’s sons were involved in a horrific car accident last night when the car they were driving ploughed head on into a tractor. The tractor driver called an ambulance and both men were rushed to the same hospital as their ill mother, but she had passed away seconds before the ambulances arrived.

Her will revealed a surprising departure from tradition – where the oldest son inherits the family wealth and title – when Lady Kelly left her entire wealth and assets to her younger son, Bernard, but due to his horrific death in the collision, all inheritance passes on to his brother, John.

Some people have all the luck.

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About this record

Written by Bernard Kelly

Published here 20 Mar 2023 and originally published Easter 1998

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