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It had been a good many years since the Wyatt clan gathered all in one place, and it would have been a good many more if Sam Wyatt hadn’t finally kicked the bucket.

Not that it wasn’t high time — by all rights, the old coot was at least twenty years into borrowed time, but he’d shown no signs of giving up the ghost.

Of course, none of Sam’s five sons ever came around, so he could have had grown a second head for all they knew.

But when the telegram arrived from Jasper Hanks, each man hightailed it to the Montana wilderness. Sam Wyatt was the most successful logger the area had ever seen, and his boys were set for a windfall.

Now the pudgy lawyer with the delightful disposition stood before them, sealed letter resting against he edge of a wooden ring in the crook of his pinky finger. Hanks smiled in turn at the boys — now verging on old men — and they beamed back.

Despite the animosity between them, each of the boys considered Hanks to be a friend. And, despite Sam’s crustiness, he and Hanks had been best friends for decades.

Hanks used the tip of a pencil to pry open the envelope and then unfolded a single sheet of paper.

He read aloud: “Many years ago, I gave each of you a wooden ring that I carved myself, as a symbol of our place in this world, and of the love between us. My estate will be split evenly between all of you who wore your rings here today.”

One brother patted his coat pocket, one grasped at his finger, one clutched his chest. In the end, all five faces drooped into ashen frowns.

Their gazes fell upon the fat, suddenly wealthy, finger of Jasper Hanks.

Published inFlash Fiction

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