The Lottery – Chapter 3
I have never been inside a Hilton hotel before that night. I’d always known Mom and Earl didn’t have much. After all, when other kids were bragging about the latest iPad or PlayStation, I was lucky to get the previous year’s model and never in its original wrapping. But standing in the hotel room with two queen beds, both decked out with the whitest sheets I have ever seen, it brought home just how little we had.
Mom turned the light on to the bathroom and let slip a happy yip. Looking around her shoulder, I saw a big tub in one corner of the bathroom. It was triangular. Mom went over to it, “It’s a whirlpool bath, Pooh Bear. Like a jacuzzi.”
Following behind her, I didn’t see what the big deal was, but if it made Mom happy, that’s all that mattered.
Back in the hotel room, I sat on one bed, just relishing the clean sheets and soft bed. After a few minutes of watching me channel surf on the large flatscreen, Mom said, “I’m going to take a bath, relax and get some of this dirt off me. Why don’t you look around and see if you can find the menu? Grant said we could order room service.”
I found the menu on a small, round table next to a couch. The prices on the menu almost made me put the thing back. We couldn’t afford to spend that much money.
Before I could put it up, I chuckled at the absurdity of my thought. Once we cashed in the lottery ticket, we’d be rich. We could afford the food. And with that in mind, I called the number on the bottom of the menu and ordered several items without worrying about the price.
Mom was still taking her bath when the food arrived. I resisted the urge to pick the coverings off the dish and went over to the closed bathroom door and knocked, “Hey, Mom. Dinner’s here.”
The noise of the jacuzzi was loud and I don’t think she heard me. I tried the door handle. It was unlocked. I opened the door just wide enough and repeated myself.
This time, the noise from the tub died as Mom said, “What was that, Pooh Bear?”
I didn’t mean to stare at her through the gap in the door. Her back was to the door. A fading yellow scar on one side was a reminder of Earl’s violence. Pushing down on my anger, I said, “Dinner’s ready.”
I should have turned away. But before I could close the door, Mom stood up, displaying her slim figure. Water slid off her lower back, running down her butt and onto her legs. Jeremy was right. Mom looked a lot younger than her twenty-six years and she was smoking hot.
I should have closed the door then, feeling guilt at seeing my mom’s butt. But I froze in place as she grabbed a towel from a nearby rack and rubbed her face. In doing that, her body shifted until she was profiled. I could see a boob. The gentle swells weren’t big enough to sag or droop. Her visible nipple stuck out, but it wasn’t near as big as the ones Jeremy looked at online or in Earl’s Penthouse mags.
I couldn’t see anything else, and as she finished drying her hair, Mom turned a bit more, and I moved away from the door, hurrying back to my spot on the bed. Praying she hadn’t seen me, I lifted the cover and barely looked at what was on the plate as I dug into the food.
When Mom opened the door to the bathroom the rest of the way, I glanced up, hoping the look on my face didn’t give me away. She wore a wide smile when she came out, “God, that felt marvelous. You should try the whirl pool, Pooh Bear. You’ll like it, I think.”
I was nearing the two-week mark since my last shower. I’m sure Mr. Jones had probably smelled me, but he was too nice to comment on it. Still, I was also catching up on a lot of missed meals. Once I finished, I said, “Okay. I guess I can try the jacuzzi.”
I swung my legs over the side of the bed when Mom put her fork down, “Um, Robin, I’ve been meaning to ask you something. It’s just until now, we’ve been busy just trying to survive.”
I froze, hoping she wouldn’t confront me about the look I stole of her body.
“When Earl was hitting on you, what were you and Jeremy doing?”
Uncertain where this had come from, I stammered, “N-nothing. Just hanging out.”
Mom cocked an eyebrow at me. Mom may not have ever graduated from high school and she might not be good with money or have the best judgement, but she could spot a lie of mine from a mile away. “Uh huh. Try again.”
I couldn’t bring myself to look at her. Of course, part of the reason was because the robe exposed the top of her chest, including some cleavage. I mumbled, “Nothing much, we were just, um, you know, foolin’ around.”
Mom nodded, “Fooling around? Is that what it’s called these days? And you and Jeremy have been fooling around for a while?”
I figured my face had to be just about every shade of red as I gave a shallow nod. Mom just chuckled, “Earl loved to talk about how much he hated gays. He took particular pleasure in making some inmates’ lives especially miserable if they were known to, um, swing that way.”
She paused, her eyebrows scrunching together as though in deep thought. “You know, I wouldn’t care if you were gay, sweetie. My love for you has no limits. I just wasn’t sure…”
There it was again. Why did both Mom and Earl think I was gay? Didn’t they know kids my age just want to have fun with our bodies? I don’t think my frustration came through, “Sure about what?”
Mom’s cheeks became heated, “I thought I saw you looking through the bathroom door. Were you?”
Oh, how I wanted to shake my head, deny everything. But she was my mom and I just couldn’t bring myself to lie, especially when there was no hope of fooling her. I bobbed my head, “Yeah.”
She set her fork down, “Why, Pooh Bear?”
I shrugged. Mom’s youthful sexiness was a recent discovery. A year ago, I would have made a huge scene about how gross girls were, including my mom. “I dunno. I saw you when I opened the door. And, well, it’s just that, you’re pretty. I’m sorry.”
A bit of red appeared on her cheeks, “Oh. You think I’m pretty?”
I nodded, “Yeah. Jeremy was always going on about how hot you are. I think he’s right.”
More flush in Mom’s cheeks appeared, “That’s really sweet, Robin. Even moms sometimes like to know their family thinks they’re attractive. But looking in there without permission was rude of you, sweetie. I want you to promise me you won’t go spying on my or any other woman without our permission.”
I felt like a heel as I nodded.
Mom pointed toward the bathroom, “Go on, Robin. Try the whirlpool.”
I closed the door behind me as I stepped into the bathroom. The water flowed hot into the enormous tub. It took a couple of minutes to fill up. Once the water was a few inches above the jets, I turned the water off and looked around for the button or switch to turn it on. There were a few on the wall, just above the tub. The first one started the familiar noise and made the bubbles churn in the water.
I pumped my fist into the air at my beginner’s luck and then stripped off my smelly clothes and stepped into the water. Two weeks was too long to go between baths. Even the water must have agreed. It turned brownish-gray as I washed the dirt from my body. Once I scrubbed the dirt clean, I leaned back against the back wall and let the water jets work their magic. After a couple of minutes, my consciousness realized my bobbing dick had become hard. Of course, I hadn’t touched myself down there for two weeks. There’s not really any privacy when you’re stuck in your mom’s car day and night.
My hand found my shaft, and my fingers wrapped around it. While I lacked Jeremy’s girth or length, I wasn’t like Marcos Lefetamine, another seventh grader. A couple of inches shorter than Jeremy, he was the butt of a lot of jokes in gym class. I’d never seen him hard, but soft, he was maybe an inch or so. I was just a smidgen over four inches when hard, even if those inches were kind of skinny. It certainly didn’t stop me from enjoying things when my fingers went to work. I kept my fingers below the water, just jacking off to nothing more than the pent-up stress that had built up over two weeks of no jacking off.
The tingling told me I was doing it right and that I wouldn’t last long. While it wasn’t as fulfilling as when Jeremy held my dick, my four inches didn’t seem to care as I crept up on my impending cum. I closed my eyes when my little balls retracted and my penis jerked in my hand. I arched my back, dick poked above the water, and a dewdrop’s worth of cum shot into the air, before landing in the water, where the roiling bubbles caused the clear drop to disappear.
That’s what Earl had interrupted. A week before Earl discovered me and Jeremy, I had been jacking off one night when I discovered a thin, clear bit of film on the head of my dick. Now, a few weeks later, I was making just enough of the stuff to shoot a tiny dollop of my watery, clear seed into the air.
I felt better, more relaxed when I finally turned off the bubbles. Mom was right, the jets blasting against my skin made me feel better. Of course, finally getting release after so long might have also had something to do with feeling better as I unplugged the drain and reached for a towel.
“Now, Bert, after talking with the Lamberts, it’s probably best for the trust to be blind until Robin Lamber’s twenty-first birthday.” Grant Jones said into the phone.
I glanced over at Mom. She was trying to pay attention, but after a few days of working with Grant, he was still arranging the trust with an attorney in Austin.
“Obviously, the Lamberts will decide who the trustee will be.”
Our entire lives were about the change, and even I was having a hard time following our attorney’s conversation.
“You know, I trust myself to make a call like that, but for the sake of transparency, I think the Lamberts would trust your recommendation on a trustworthy accountant to handle taxations and reconcile transactions and provide periodic reports to the Lamberts.”
Accountants, lawyers, trusts; it all sounded terribly complicated. But when I saw the deer-in-the-headlights expression in Mom’s eyes, I knew we were making the right choice.
“I’ll print it out for them and let them look at it. Sure.”
When Grant hung the phone up, he swiveled around, “Bert’s emailing a copy of the trust. Once you sign it, Mrs. Lambert, I can submit the ticket on behalf of the trust for you and Robin.”
Mom, still trying to feign interest in trusts, said, “What about the money, Mr. Jones. How long will we have to wait for it?
I gaped at Mom. The entire purpose of the trust was to make sure we didn’t blow through the millions in a few short years. Grant folded his hands on his desk, resting them on a desk calendar, “We’ll go to Austin this Monday. Mr. Willoughby, that’s Bert, will meet us at the Lottery Commission. He and I will actually submit the ticket on behalf of your trust. It’ll take a couple of days to deposit the money so that the trust can disburse some to you.”
Mom nodded, but I could see she didn’t quite grasp the concept. Maybe I wouldn’t either, but I’d been listening closer. I jumped in, “Mr. Jones will make sure we have plenty of money, Mom. He’s just there to make sure we don’t blow through it.”
There was more confidence in Mom’s demeanor after that, “That’s good. I know it sounds greedy to be worried about when we’re getting the money. It’s just stressful living off your generosity, Mr. Jones. I’m ready for me and Robin to be living free of worries.”
I jumped in again, “Mom, Mr. Jones isn’t giving us the money to stay in the hotel. We’re paying for it, just not yet. I’m sure we’re going to get plenty of money from the trust each month. Right, Grant, um, Mr. Jones?”
Grant nodded, “Grant’s fine, Robin. Exactly. At a bare minimum, you’ll be supplied with a debit card to draw funds from the bank holding the trust. Some expenses, like a house payment, utilities, and the like will be paid through the trust. Other things, like food, groceries, and fun money, will be paid on the debit card. To get you started, the trust is going to hold a fairly sizable cash reserve, probably around three percent.”
I leaned over the other side of Grant’s desk and did some quick math, “We’re supposed to get something like one hundred and sixty million, right?”
Grant nodded, and I continued, “So you’ll keep about four million and eight hundred thousand in cash that we can use?”
“That’s it in a nut-shell, Robin,” Grant said, “We’ll reassess after a year. But I think the trust will continue to grow for you if we allow around a three percent or lower annual withdrawal.”
Mom must have been paying attention at some point. Her next question was spot on, “So, why are we doing the cash payout instead of the yearly payments? How much would we get each year?”
Grant grabbed a sheet of paper from his desk and slid it across to Mom, “The annual payments rise over thirty years. The first few years, you’d get less than what you’ll get from the trust, but by the time thirty years rolls around, the payments are over fifteen million that last year.”
I asked, “What about after taxes?”
The attorney shrugged, “That’s the unknown, Robin. Today, the top marginal tax rate is thirty-seven percent. The first year’s annuity of five point two million becomes less than four million after taxes. And now that there’s a new administration in Washington, we’ll be seeing that top rate increase, meaning the government will let you keep less in future years.”
He paused and looked at my mom for a while. Almost like he was appraising her, “Here’s the thing, Ms. Lambert, there are no sure things. It is possible that if you took the annuity for thirty years, you might do a little better over those thirty years than if you take the lump sum. But how much of that money would be left after 30 years, how much would be saved? The reason people set up a trust and put the lump sum into it, they’re betting that after thirty years, there’ll be even more money in the trust to pass along to children or charities or whatever they want. Robin is twelve. You guys take the annuity for thirty years, what’s your plan when he turns forty-two and the money stops coming in? The trust takes care of that, and makes sure Robin won’t ever have to worry about money again.”
I offered Mom a smile as I reached between our chairs and took her hand, and gave it a gentle squeeze. With Mom’s nod, Grant said, “Lump sum it is.”
There was something Grant mentioned on the phone that came to mind then, “Grant, you mentioned about the trust being blind until I’m twenty-one. It’s not as if a trust has eyes. How can it see or be blind?”
Our attorney chuckled, “Very observant, Robin. A blind trust just means that the beneficiaries of the trust, that’s you and your mom, won’t have power to make decisions about the investments until you’re twenty-one. Once you turn twenty-one, you’d have control of the trust, to make changes, fire the trustees and the like. You could even terminate the trust and take the cash, if you were of a mind to.”
I shook my head, “That doesn’t seem like a very smart decision.”
“No, it’s not,” Grant said, “Have you ever heard of a fiduciary?”
“No,” I said as I glanced over to see Mom’s confused expression.
Grant said, “As the trustee of your trust, I’m a fiduciary. The accountant we hire, he’ll also be a fiduciary. When we hire a financial advisor, he’ll be one, too. The thing about us is that as fiduciaries, we’re legally bound to make decisions we believe to be in your best interest. Well, technically, the trust’s best interest. But that’s distinction with no meaning.”
Mom said, “That’s all well and good, Mr. Jones. But what do you, the accountant and the financial guy get out of it? None of you are doing this out of the kindness of your heart.”
I winced. I had a great vibe about Grant. I thought he was doing best for us. Of course, he was also billing us, too. I blurted, “Mom, we’re paying Grant for his help. That’s why he’s gotta do what’s best for us.”
Grant dipped his head toward me, “Robin’s right, Sam, um, Ms. Lambert. You, well, the trust, pays me, the accountant and the financial advisor to do our best for you. And we’re all going to be eying each other to make sure none of the others is taking advantage of you, because that’s part of what you’re paying for. That’s one reason I suggested an accountant from Austin. I don’t know him and he doesn’t know me. We’re more likely to hold each other to a high standard, than if we were close friends.”
My gut felt right. Even though I didn’t understand everything he said, I knew he was speaking the truth. I squeezed Mom’s hand again, “Mom, let’s sign the trust. I think we’re making the right choice.”
Before the end of the day, Mom and I signed the trust. Grant was honest about that, too. Because I’m a minor, my signature meant nothing. Legally, Mom signed on my behalf. But Grant took me aside and said it was important that I understand. As he and I stood by the scanner, turning the trust back into a file of ones and zeroes, he added, “Nobody expects a boy of twelve to understand everything, Robin. So, make sure you ask questions of me, of Mr. Willoughby, anyone who is working on your behalf. Promise me you’ll ask until you understand.”
I squared my thin shoulders, “I promise, Grant.”
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