The Will of Crandolph Fitzgerald-Mayhew | Isaac and Abbie Fox and Hoffer

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I am the will of Crandolph Fitzgerald-Mayhew. I am also the devourer of Crandolph Fitzgerald-Mayhew. While his good-for-nothing spawn plotted to cut off his air supply or subtly induce an aneurysm, all I had to do was wait until visiting hours were over and slide out of the valise he’d requested from the estate lawyer. It was child’s play to crawl up the hospital bed and tear into his flesh.

Today, his children have gathered in the towering home of their patriarch to decide the fate of his estate, and they have only just realized that none of them have me. I peer out from under the scale model of his third wife’s second yacht on the mantelpiece. With as many of my eyes as I can slide out from underneath, I watch. 

All parties present are vying for large chunks of the estate, and the screaming began as soon as they walked in the door. Now, the many peons of my late master scatter through the house to track down the piece of paper that could be the difference between upper class and upper middle class. I unfurl myself and begin my hunt. 

Slithering across the floor of the library, I make my way to the far side of the room and lock my many eyes on my first victim: Ebenezer Fitzgerald-Mayhew.

Ebenezer first scans the shelves devoted to 19th-century Russian ornithological illustrations, slowly moving on to the section on the history of the railroad system in Central America, and then the roomful of books arguing that the moon landing was faked. After the speculative catalogs of far-future rake designs, he gets bored and moves on to the liquor wing, where I wait, sipping a whiskey older than Crandolph’s great grandfather. 

Ebenezer grabs a bottle of his father’s shittiest liquor (which still costs more than his house). He sits down, opens the bottle, and quietly practices his in-progress diss-track of the 45th president of the United States, who once fired him with a Tweet. 

I slide under his chair, nudging the heel of his cheap loafer. He bends to pick me up, and I play dead, like an innocent piece of paper. He begins to scan my contents, drink in hand, when I spring into action. The vocal cords take precedence here, as Ebenezer’s prolific rap career has already produced over 40 tracks of what is essentially the same song. I saw him a lot during Crandolph’s elderly attempts to reconnect with his children, and if I have to hear one more time about his epic quest to “mack honeys,” I might need to have my ears stapled down. 

Once his throat is torn open, I dive mouth-first into his chest, tearing and ripping at any skin I can sink a fang into. He’s too stupid to scream, opting instead to douse me in house-priced vodka that smells like lighter fluid. I only bite harder, crunching bone in my maw as I burrow deeper into his chest. I am dripping in gore and liquor when I finally reach his heart and bite down hard. Ebenezer gives one last pathetic squelch of breath before slumping back into his chair, never to mumble another rap verse.  

I spit up a few bones and teeth, cleanse my palate with some aged cheese and a fine dipping mustard, and slink onward to the hall of music. 

Here, Cereal Milk Fitzgerald-Mayhew—who went by Thomas until one fateful night of hotboxing a houseboat in his 40s—tries to play one of the organs. Massive, discordant noises boom through the hall, ringing in each piano, bouncing off the strings of each and every cello, theremin, standing bass, and Stradivarius. I creep among the instruments, watching him—waiting. He turns away from the organ and reaches for a contrabass flute, and I pounce. I take his head in one bite; I take the rest of him in countless small, well-mannered ones. He tastes like natural deodorant and those plastic bead bracelets they hand out at raves. 

The last of Crandolph’s children is Josephine, named after his favorite mistress. (Well, Josephine isn’t quite the last–not yet. On my way to the eggs and breakfast meats kitchen, where she’s hunting for me, I bump into Jen. She’s the one Crandolph tried to keep out of the tri-annual portraits. I forget I saw her before I finish eating her.)

Josephine poses the biggest challenge to both myself and her siblings (or at least she did when they were alive). She ran rings around them in life, securing a high-powered position at an elite law firm by the time she was twenty-three, and she’s always frightened me because she wears very pointy heels and has a nervous habit of tearing up bits of paper. 

She stands in front of the stove, inspecting every nook and cranny of the kitchen for dust or dirt. Her father added numerous special clauses to the many drafts of his will over the years to try to keep her from finding a loophole to screw her siblings out of their fair share, but she still thinks of the house as her own. 

I creep around the kitchen’s edges before barreling towards her at top speed. She screams when I make contact, and I gag on the mouthful of hair I’ve gotten in the process. A hard bite to her shoulder takes a chunk out and brings her to the ground. She continues screaming as I take bites at random, savoring the last of the Fitzgerald-Mayhew bloodline. A final bite to the femoral artery is all it takes to bring down the harshest member of the whole family. A shame really; I thought she’d put up more of a fight. 

Crandolph wasn’t the kind of man who had friends. His relatives—except for a few extremely distant cousins—now rest in pieces in my papery stomach. So the mansion he spent his life building will lie abandoned, or at least it’ll appear to.

I’m not going anywhere, of course. Here, I have cabinets of scotch to drink, endless rooms of beautiful books to befriend, a bunkerful of Cuban cigars to smoke. And soon, perhaps a few inquiring cousins, or lawyers, or illegitimate children to eat. Maybe the military will lay siege to the house after hearing of me, and I’ll get to devour an entire nation’s armed forces. 

And if not, this place will become the subject of a thousand ghost stories. Imagine how many tourists and daring teenagers will sneak in, never to be seen again.

I can’t wait.

Isaac Fox and Abbie Hoffer are students at Lebanon Valley College. This is the first time they’ve ever written a short story in less than an hour.

One thought on “The Will of Crandolph Fitzgerald-Mayhew | Isaac and Abbie Fox and Hoffer

  1. I love this piece so much. It’s the perfect length, but I could also read a whole novel based on this or watch an entire movie. Such a clever idea. So well executed. This is so seamless; I can’t even believe this is co-authored.

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