For some reason late two nights ago, I decided to take a picture of this fine artifact from a now-defunct rock shop near the so-called “mobile home retirement community”—hey, they have a golf course and a swimming pool—that my long-gone parents and until six weeks ago my younger brother William G. called home. He who died, that is. Looking at the photo reminded me of days gone by. For a long half an hour I felt like writing about him, but only gruesome stuff came through for him and me. Lacking the courage to write it down, all I had was drivel when I staggered off to bed:
Five weeks after my brother died in the V.A. hospital in Tucson without a will, I’m finally wondering if I should do something. I dunno, maybe chase the squatters out of his trailer…
I meant that as black humor. There could easily be someone living there, but what did I know? My brother died without a will of any kind, and whatever happens out on Kinney Road is not my problem. [Not yet, anyway. See below.] It was once, until I got him to take it as most of his share of our mother’s estate, giving him a roof over his head and the rest of us more cash. He was quite pleased to be a homeowner, I think, even as his drawn-out doom descended. As stubborn as the rest of us, it never made a difference when I helped him, either. He’d wreck or break or lose whatever decent thing he had. Didn’t seem to mind, though, not even when the cancer grabbed him, as long as he could smoke that meth. At any rate, late Monday afternoon my phone rang. On the other end was a Pima County sheriff’s deputy… Oh my God, what’s wrong? No wait, Bill’s already dead. The subject? Real-life squatters in the goddamn trailer!
What bloody fucking idiots as well. They claimed to have permission from the dead but didn’t know when he died: “It could have been months, or weeks, or days ago,” one said, according to the deputy. “His sister Lisa told us we could stay,” another claimed, except her name is Mary and she didn’t.
The deputy and I had a nice long talk. It was different this time—there’d been others—because Bill doesn’t need protecting any more. The cops know what’s going on, but not enough to get a warrant, and they’d rather that the perps just vanish. The neighbors are upset because of strangers going in and out all night. The yard is full of trash, and it stinks around the premises. Not just of garbage, either, but addiction—when Bill was high, he smelled like ammonia and rotten meat.
Fast-forward to today: there’s a way to get control of without a probate court, if that’s the way to go, and supposedly one doesn’t need a lawyer. Six months from the date of death, I can file an affidavit for us siblings and just sell the thing. In the meantime maybe I can cut the power off, kill the water and the gas, and reassure the HOA. Familiar ground, at this point, mailing death certificates and talking law. I could use a breather, but I’m good.