Chapter Three: Surprises and Annoyances Can Be Equivalent Variables

Tori got back to her trailer to find a new voicemail was on her answering machine. Tori wondered if it had to do with her having checked the box for being put on a list for future donation requests, not that the first had even been completed. Tori thought it couldn't hurt to have a backup plan in case she fell on hard times, which by her own observations of her environment seemed to befall just about every person she was aware existed. She hadn't turned in her fast-food job applications because she had been warned at the hospital by the nursing staff that the bone marrow harvesting procedure would be excruciatingly painful and that she should limit her activities for a few days after. This should have scared Tori off, but after seeing her mother's slow death, she wanted a nest egg for herself, something her mother never had. All pain was temporary, poverty though was inescapable as far as Tori was concerned. Another aspect of the donation that Tori did not say out loud was that she had wished that even if only for a few more days as an effort to prolong her mother's life that she could have donated some blood or bone marrow to her mother, not that her specific medical situation would have been alleviated by it, but maybe someone somewhere would benefit from it. This small consolation gave Tori some solace regarding her outlook.

The voicemail said that a law office from New York had requested her presence after the routine screening workups had run her DNA through an information bank. Tori called the hospital, but all of the employees had left for the day as it was dinner time by then. The one piece of information that was left as a note in her chart was a number for Tori to call. As much as she was intrigued, Tori was also cautious. Her social worker, as well as every other adult who Tori trusted, had warned her that she was a prime target for scammers now that she was on her own. Tori fiddled around her trailer straightening the place up until Molly stopped in to visit her just before nine. Tori ran it by Molly, who in turn told her that she should at least try to find out what it was about, "if it turns out to be a hoax then at the worst you learned something, and if it turns out to be good then you have that going for you now." Molly reasoned, being surprisingly persuasive for a person who chews gum with her mouth open constantly. Tori agreed but swore Molly to secrecy fearing that if it were a scam that she could lose her emancipation status and be stuck as a ward of the court. They chatted a bit more about what Tori was missing at school. Apparently, there was a fistfight that turned into a melee at lunch that Tori had missed, in addition to an unfortunate case of HPV going around a sexually active group of seniors on campus. Tori heard that and was glad that she wasn't there, not that she said so to Molly.

After a restless night's sleep, Tori called the number the next morning as she had nothing to do but to wait for her appointment for the bone marrow donation by this point anyway. The call went through to a law office in New York. A very morose-sounding woman picked up the phone just before Tori assumed the call had been disconnected, after being on hold for over ten minutes. She said that all of the information had already been sent out and that it would arrive in her mail by the end of the business day. Tori still had no idea what was going on. Why was a law office contacting her? What did they want? The woman on the phone had no answers for her as it was in her "confidentially sealed" file according to her. Tori had to wait to see for herself what the situation entailed, she was starting to hope that it wasn't trouble for her, like her mother's debts from years ago that somehow could be put upon her now. Feeling confused and having a sense of unease, Tori sat at home waiting for the mail carrier to stop by the trailer park. She watched old reruns of Cheers and ate complimentary crackers that made crumbs all over herself. The mail took what felt like an ungodly amount of time to be delivered when it was in fact brought by at the same of four pm time as it always was. Tori ran to her at the center of the trailer park to see what it contained. There was a large envelope that had plane tickets, cab vouchers, and restaurant gift cards inside. A letter with a brief note saying that she was scheduled for a meeting at a law office in New York tomorrow morning was arranged. Tori thought it was a scam for sure and took the letter to Mr. Ronny to have him look over it. In his own gruff and no-nonsense way, he said that the information looked legitimate and that she probably has to sign for something, like property that her mother or father owned.

When she went back to her trailer for the night she took in all that she could about her situation, not knowing if things were looking up or otherwise for herself. Tori had mixed feelings about involving herself in affairs that had much of anything to do with her family, be it her mother's or father's side. Tori only knew about her mother's family. They were proud Christian people who would be the first to push someone out of their way for their own gain. She could not respect or understand them. On one hand, they spoke of their virtue when they put her mother down, but on the other expected to be praised as good people. Tori had no idea about her father though. Her mother had never even mentioned him and Tori had no curiosity as to who he might be as she had seen enough of the deadbeat dads in the trailer park to be glad that she did not have to live with hers. Still, she had never been on an airplane or left New Mexico that she could remember. To her, the trip was likely going to be a bust, but at least she could go somewhere in the world if only for a mundane purpose, like signing over the rights of a property that she could not afford to pay the taxes on. She settled on going, even though she had never actually been asked, and packed her former school backpack with an extra change of clothes with her id in her wallet as a way of accepting the law office's presumptive invitation.

By seven am the next morning a taxi cab arrived outside of her home, without her having to have called for it. In her naivety, she did not find this to be as odd as it was. Although she was new to traveling in an airport she was glad that everything was laid out in a relatively easy-to-navigate manner. Tori checked into her gate, not needing to check her bag as it was her only carry-on. While waiting for her flight to board she used one of her meal gift cards for breakfast. It was not until after she was seated on her flight that she realized that she found the idea of flying to be fear-inducing. She did take note though that although none of her accommodations were particularly grand, that it was all so very neat and efficient. She had to suppress a laugh when she heard another passenger complain that the cabin space was cramped to the flight attendant. The airplane's cabin was significantly finer of a space of exist in than her trailer, but she knew to keep that to herself. She did notice however that the same man on the flight that was behind her in line when she was first dropped off at the airport back in New Mexico. He was out of place just a bit. He had on a plain white tee-shirt and black jeans, but it just didn't seem like he was blending in with the other people on the plane. He wasn't doing anything out of place, but he didn't have the same amount of baggage as the other passengers, and he seemed to be within ten feet of Tori at every step of her trip. Tori thought he could be an air marshall or something because he was overly muscled and kept to himself too much, but it was not worth much consideration to her because they were all going in the same direction anyway. Tori decided that it is odd that her father didn't fly out to see her. As she sat in her coach seat, she mulled whether it is actually a little rude that she is expected to drop everything to meet a man who would not so much as speak to her on the phone. Tori hoped that he was not as terrible as her mother had described own her parents.

When her flight arrived Tori was quick to exit the plane. She knew she had to go straight to her meeting via cab which was easy to find at the cab stand outside of the airport. The same man from the plane went in another direction, only to be replaced by a man who looks almost equally out of place in a black tee-shirt and tan jeans, again with no baggage behind Tori as she waited for in line to jump into the next cab. Tori arrived at the New York law office that is on the top floor of a high rise in Manhattan, after an hour in the bleach scented cab. She felt underdressed as she waited to be called in from the lobby, not sure if she was in the right place. Her low rider jeans and button-down top were bunching up as she fidgetted in anxiety. The many business-looking passerby's giving her a quick side-eye as they went about their day. By the time she was called in by a secretary, Tori had a pit of dread welling up in her abdomen. A lawyer by the name of George Kenton told Tori to sit down gesturing toward a leather chair. Tori plopped into it like a child who had been reprimanded to time out, dropping herself down a little too enthusiastically. He smiled a little before he cleared his throat to say, "Your mother was Lesley Pontius. You were born fifteen years and thirty-six days ago in the Presbyterian Hospital of Albuquerque, New Mexico." Tori didn't know why but it felt like the things Mr. Kenton was saying were what she should be answering not being told. The man continued on, "the reason that I know this is only because we put in every search engine possible for any of Mr. Muller's respective beneficiaries some years ago. You see your father has been in poor health for years now." Tori had to choke back from saying that it was her mother who had suffered not her father, who had been absent since before she was born, but she held it in instead. Mr. Kenton went on, "your father is listed as unknown on your birth certificate, whether that is true or not is debatable. What is not is that you are a 99% match as his only offspring." Tori started to understand, her father either needed a kidney or had some dumpy property she would have to sell or start to pay taxes on for him. Everyone had warned her that being an emancipated minor had its drawbacks, Tori was worried this might be one of them.

"I can see that I need to fill you in on what the next course of action is regarding your father's plans." This vexed Tori who began to be annoyed that her father didn't have the gall to speak for himself. The lawyer was speaking to her as if he hadn't any care of Tori's opinion or time. She was going to miss her donation appointment if she wasn't back in New Mexico within 48 hours. Mr. Kenton sat on his desk as he studied Tori before he said "You don't have a clue as to what is going on here do you, young lady?" Tori hadn't felt this belittled since she was in elementary school and she was caught stealing jelly beans from Derick Gracia's lunch bag. Tori could tell the situation was serious, but that inclination was also mixed with the intimidation she felt being so out of place there. She responded with, "No, and I would like to know exactly what it is that is so secretive." She was so unsure of herself that she regretted being that forward the moment she said those words. He laughed, at her, "Your father would like to meet you." Finally, the conversation seemed to be going somewhere. Tori piped up feeling only slightly more comfortable to speak, "I'm okay with that. Where is he?" Mr. Kenton walked around to the computer on his deck and read from the screen "Sweden. You are to leave at once."