She looked blank and started to stand up. Brian reached out and stopped her. ‘Maureen, Marian is an interested party. Equally interested. '
‘No, she's not. I'm sorry. '
‘How do you figure? '
‘What you have there, what is represented by those papers, is our community property, yours and mine, what you and I have accumulated in the course of our marriage. None of it is Marian's and I don't care to go over it in the presence of a third party. At a later time, when she divorces you, she'll be present at the divvy-up and I will not be. Today, Brian, it is between you and me, no one else. '
‘What do you mean? - when she divorces me. '
‘Correction: if she divorces you. ' (She did. In 1966. ) ‘Brian, did you fetch home an adding machine? Oh, all I really require is a sharp pencil:
Marian caught Brian's eye, left the room and closed the door behind her.
He said, ‘Maureen, why do you always have to be so rough on her? '
‘Behave yourself, Briney. You should not have attempted to have her present for this and you know it. Now. .. do you want to do this politely? Or shall we wait until I can call in a lawyer? '
‘I see no reason why it can't be done politely. And even less reason why a lawyer should look at my private business. '
‘And still less reason why your fiancée should look at mine.
Briney, stop behaving like Woodie at age six. How did you plan on whacking this up? '
‘Well, first we must plan on the marriage allotments for the kids. Seven, that is. And Marian's five. Six, now. '
(Each time we had rung the cash register - received a baby bounty from the Ira Howard Foundation - Brian had started a bookkeeping account for that child, letting that amount enhance on his books at six per cent compounded quarterly, then had passed on the enhanced amount to that child as a wedding present - about three times the original baby bounty. In the meantime Brian had the use of the money as working capital for eighteen or more years. .. and, believe me, Brian could always make working capital pay more than six per cent, especially after 1918 when he had Theodore's predictions to guide him. Just one word - ‘Xerox' or ‘Polaroid' - could mean a fortune, known ahead of time. )
‘Woops! Not out of this pile, Briney. Richard received his marriage allotment from us when he married Marian. Her children by Richard are our grandchildren. What about our other grandchildren? I haven't counted lately but I think we have fifty-two. Are you planning to subsidise ail fifty-two out of what we own today? '
‘The situation is different'
‘It certainly is. Brian, you are trying to favour five of our grandchildren at the expense of all our other grandchildren and all our remaining unmarried children. I won't permit it'
‘I'll be the judge of that. '
No, you will not. It will be a real judge, in a real court. Or you will treat all our children equally and not attempt to favour five grandchildren while ignoring forty-seven others. '
‘Maureen, you've never behaved this way in the past. '
‘In the past you never broke up our partnership. But now that you have done so, that break up will be on terms that strike both of us as equitable. .. or you can tell it to the judge. Brian, you can't cast me off like an old shoe and then expect me to continue to accept your rulings as docilely as I have done all these years. I say again: quit behaving like Woodie as a child. Now. .. stipulating that we have agreed, or will agree, on what is earmarked for marriage allowances, how do you want to divide up the rest of it? '
‘Eh? Three equal portions. Of course. '
‘You're giving me two portions? That's generous of you, but more than I had expected. '
‘No, no! A share for you, a share for me, a share for Marian. Even all the way around. '
‘Where is the fourth share? The one for my husband. '
‘You're getting married again? '
‘No immediate plans. I may. '
‘Then we'l1 cross that bridge when we come to it'
‘Briney, Briney! Your needle is stuck in a groove. Can't you get it through your head that you cannot force me to accept your fiancée as co-owner of the property you and I have accumulated together? Half of it is mine. Fair is fair. '
‘Damn it, Mo, you cooked and kept house. I am the one who got out there and struggled to build up a fortune. Not you. '
‘Where did the capital come from, Briney? '
‘Have you forgotten? How did we ring the cash register? For that matter how did it come about that you knew ahead of time the date of Black Tuesday? Did I have something to do with it? Briney, I'm not going to argue it because you don't want to be fair about it. You keep trying to hand over to your new love some of my half of what you and I accumulated together. Let's take it into court and let a judge decide. We can do it here, a community property state, or in California, another community property state, or in Missouri where you can count on it that a judge would give me more than half. In the mean time I will ask for temporary alimony -‘
‘ - and child support for six children while the court determines what my share, plus alimony, plus child support, adds up to. '
Brian looked astounded. ‘You intend to strip me bare? Just because I knocked up Marian? '
‘Certainly not, Brian. I don't even want alimony. What I do want. .. and expect. .. and insist on - or we go to court over it is this: after an equitable arrangement for support of the children and for their marriage allowances, based on what we have done for our married children in the past and based on what you are now sending to Betty Lou for our children in Kansas City. .. once the kids are taken care of, I want exactly half, right down the middle. Otherwise we let a judge settle it. '
Brian looked grim. ‘Very well':
‘Good. Make up two lists, two halves, and then we can draw up a formal property settlement, one we can file with the court. Where do you intend to divorce me? Here? '
‘If you have no objection. Easiest. '
‘All right. '
It took Brian all that weekend to make the two property lists. On Monday night fie showed them to me.
‘Here they are. Here is a summary list of my half, and here is yours. '
I looked at them and could sec at once that the totals matched. .. and I suppressed a need to whistle at the totals. I had not guessed even to the nearest million how wealthy we were.
‘Brian, why is this list mine and that list yours? '
‘I've kept on my list the properties I want to handle. On your list are things that don't require my expertise, such as commercial bonds and municipals. It doesn't matter; it's an even split. '
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