Friday, November 8, 2013

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 17

Recap: The Hamiltons have been flown to a classy hotel in Greece they absolutely hate, where something mysterious is going on with the Leontious. There are rumors floating around that they're dead, but nobody really knows. The Hamiltons and their tennis player friend are going to fly to the island the next morning and hopefully we will find out what's going on.

Lance the Tennis Player meets the Hamiltons in the lobby and they exchange pleasantries:
“Most comfortable room I’ve ever had.” Morgan responded honestly.
“Yes, Layland did everything first class.”
“Is he dead?” Morgan crossed his arms, his lips in a straight line, waiting for a response.
Uh.... and Morgan just jumps right into it. And just look at that body language. He is so needlessly defiant about this. Lance has said he's not at liberty to talk about stuff, they've come this far, why not just go the rest of the way and find out what's going on on your own? Sigh.

Lance deflects the question by saying once again he can't talk about it and they'll find out the answers soon, and then he shuttles them out the door and into a limo (which will take them to an airport, where a helicopter will take them to the island).
Morgan noticed the reporters who’d confronted them the night before, standing by a window, watching them. He shot them a piercing glare.
Sheesh. Someone got up on the wrong side of the bed. Morgan needs to tone it down a little. He probably didn't sleep well because he just kept thinking how out of place he felt in that fancy bed.

His cranky suspicion turns out to be well-founded, however, as the reporters actually follow the limo. Lance reassures the Hamiltons that nobody can get onto the island without his permission, and Morgan decides this means it's time to yell at Lance some more. He crankily demands that Lance tell him what he does. Lance, to his credit, remains calm, even saying awesome things like, "I hear frustration in your voice," and doesn't give him much more information. He does say the reporters are extremely liberal, and thus "on the wrong side, politically."

Morgan demands once again that Lance just TELL them if the Leontious are dead.
Morgan’s tone turned more hostile. “Oh, come on. Just answer the question.”
“You seem to be really angry today.”
Morgan’s voice grew louder. “Now, why wouldn’t I be? The last couple months, I tried to contact Leontiou a number of times and never got a response. Suddenly, a strange man showed up in my office with two first-class round trip tickets to Athens, Greece, and ten thousand dollars. We arrive here and are given the royal treatment in an upscale hotel.[”]
So far NONE OF THIS IS REASON TO BE ANGRY. Seriously. He can't be mad at Lance because Doctor L. L. never got back to him. Getting tickets to Athens and money and upscale hotel royal treatment are all good things. But he's been cranky about it the whole time. Morgan is apparently just such a control freak that he can't take advantage of nice things people offer him unless he knows exactly what's going on all the time, and THEN thinks that listing off all the nice things they've offered him is an adequate justification of why he's so irrationally furious.

The only thing he mentions that could actually be cause for anger is that the reporters are pretty annoying. But other than that, he says he's just upset because it feels like a spy novel. Lance reassures him that he and Tammy are perfectly safe, and Morgan just sulks the rest of the way to the airport.

They get into the helicopter, leaving the reporters behind. Apparently, however, the helicopter is quiet enough that they can cheerfully and comfortably participate in some small talk. (I would not have thought this to be the case, and my brief Internet research seems to back me up here.) Lance tells the story of how he got the job with Doctor L. L. after his tennis days were over.
“That’s when Layland Leontiou stopped by, and offered me a job. I had never met the man, but I’d heard about him. Who hadn’t? Many thought he would be the leader of Greece one day.”
“Is he dead?” Tammy asked boldly.
What, do they think one of these times they'll surprise him into telling them the answer?

They get to the island, and we learn the clinic is a 2000-year-old Roman prison and John of Bible fame might have been kept here.
They climbed out of the large chopper and were escorted by two armed guards into the building. 
Morgan immediately noticed the scent of freshly mown grass.
Inside the building?

They head inside and meet Victoria, Doctor L. L.'s private secretary.
Victoria turned toward them and a smile tipped her lips.
A smile did what now? Is this a phrase?

Finally, the lawyers, Alton and Arlen Brown, show up.
Morgan was ready for the mystery to be solved. After all, they knew nothing more than they did the day Lance mysteriously arrived at their clinic. They’d certainly been patient.
I hardly think the definition of being patient is asking, "Is he dead?" every few seconds. But Alton confirms that, yes, Doctor L. L. and Malinda are both dead, from a fire. So I guess they were both killed in that opening scene, although I have no idea how Doctor L. L. died, seeing as how he was pretty far away from the action, safe in his observing office. Maybe he rushed down to try to save Malinda and burned up in the process. Maybe we'll get some explanation for this sometime.

The Hamiltons continue being "patient," demanding to know whether Skye is okay and refusing an offer of more coffee by saying things like, "Please tell us what we want to know." GAH, I hate these people. They can't just wait for the lawyers to explain things the way they need to explain them.

Everybody gets a copy of Doctor L. L.'s will, which indicates that since both he and Malinda are dead, Skye inherits everything. However, Doctor L. L. used to be married to an Italian model, who is probably going to try to fight the courts to take his money.
“I noticed the date of death is blank on the will. Why?” Morgan persisted. 
“Dr. Hamilton, for all purposes, Layland Leontiou is still alive. On paper, at least. If it’s leaked that he’s dead before we have everything in place, the courts will take over.” 
Morgan felt his anger rising. “You’re joking! Isn’t that against the law?” 
“We are walking a thin line,” Lance replied. “Much is at stake.” 
Morgan jabbed a finger toward Barrows. “Don’t give me that. It’s against the law. You’re a lawyer; you should know that more than anyone.”

Seriously, this section is baffling and just makes Morgan looks even more horribly obnoxious than he already does. In the first place, I looked up some sample wills online and they typically don't even have a date of death on them. (Why would they? They were written when the person was alive. Date of death is inconsequential.) Secondly, I looked up information about delaying death certification records, and from what I can find, there's no legal reason they'd have to record it immediately - especially if there were mysterious or unusual circumstances about the death that needed to be addressed before creating a death certificate.

However, this is all just information in the States. If Morgan is out-of-his-mind wrong about how wills and death records work in the States, how much more wrong is he likely to be about how they work in Greece? Much less for a public figure of this magnitude.

Also, why is he even angry about it?

Is Doctor L. L.'s dignity being violated by not having his death date on the will immediately? Why the heck does Morgan even care?

“I have all the documents for you, Morgan and Tammy, to adopt Skye, and care for her for the rest of her life. I understand that you can’t have children of your own. This is your opportunity to adopt Skye Leontiou, making her your daughter. At the same time, you would protect the Leontious’ dream, using their money in the medical world to find cures and keep this island, this clinic, forging ahead.”
Now, this... this might be illegal. Surely the Leontious had set up their own guardians for Skye, and surely it wasn't the people they randomly met two months ago, and surely the courts can't just be like, "Nope, how about the Hamiltons adopt her instead so they can also take care of the clinic?"

Tammy flips out about the lawyers "bringing our personal lives into this," and wants to leave, but Morgan persuades her to stay.
“Okay. Mr. Barrows, you have our interest. What’s this all about?” Morgan sounded calmer, more rational.
Uh... well, I'd say it's about the Hamiltons having the opportunity to adopt Skye Leontiou, making her their daughter, and at the same time, they would protect the Leontious’ dream, using their money in the medical world to find cures and keep this island, this clinic, forging ahead.
“Layland has entrusted you not only with his prized possession, his daughter, but also with this clinic that he loved. He wants the two of you to take over the clinic, and run it as you see fit.”
Well, at least the Leontious had some say in this. Though you'd think he'd have given the Hamiltons a heads-up of some kind.
“This clinic’s sole purpose is to find a cure for Batten disease. Nothing more! . . . Last year Malinda and her staff discovered a cure for a rare virus, which literally saved an entire village in Africa.”
"And it TICKED OFF Doctor L. L., because this clinic's sole purpose was supposed to be to find a cure for Batten disease! Nothing more! None of these obscure African viruses!"

Oh, we find out why Doctor L. L. chose the Hamiltons to take over. He asked Skye who she'd want to be her new parents, and she said them. I don't know if he just makes it a habit of re-asking her every couple months and adjusting his will accordingly, or if he literally only thought of making provisions for her since he met the Hamiltons.

If the Hamiltons agree to this deal, they'll live on the island, run the clinic, take care of Skye, and, uh, apparently run their St. Paul clinic from here as well, with technology. (Though really, I think the St. Paul clinic would probably prefer just hiring somebody else.)
Barrows sounded confused. “Frankly, I’m surprised that you’re hesitating. Most people in your position would jump at this opportunity.”
Most people instantly agree to adopt new friends' children, move their homes to a remote island on Greece, and take over somebody else's life work with tons of responsibility to find a cure for a specific rare disease. No need to think about all that at all.

The Hamiltons say they need to think about it, and the lawyers give them a week. And now they've asked to see Skye, so she'll be reappearing in the next chapter. Oh goody.

We're 45% of the way through this book. WE'RE ALMOST HALFWAY, EVERYONE.

(Chapter 18.)

1 comment:

  1. So what you're telling me is that Rothdiener's approach to presenting the most obvious plot twist in the story so far was not make it twisty, but to bury it under obnoxiousness. Yay.

    One area where I will grant a certain leeway is the significance of the absence of a death date. Not that it's relevant to a will (it isn't), but this is Rothdiener's very clumsy way of telling us that Greece can't handle the truth of the death of the Leontiouses (Leontioux?). If there's an official death certificate, then the deaths become a matter of public knowledge.

    Of course, this is still ridiculous since, duh, it's much ado about nothing. It's laughable to think that someone with as much power as we're given to understand Leontiou had that his affairs weren't already airtight and ready to be implemented immediately upon his death. I would joke that Rothdiener seems to have studied law by watching soap operas, but even this convoluted mess is bush league next to the masterminded genius of J.R. Ewing.

    Simply put, there's nothing that could be done to prevent this Italian model ex from at least trying to gain a cut of the estate. Even after the paperwork is all neat and tidy, there's nothing to stop her from at least filing a claim. And really, why wouldn't she? If she doesn't file, she doesn't get anything. If she does file, she stands to maybe win something. It's like playing the lottery. All anyone could do is wait for her to file and then begin refuting the legitimacy of her claim. That's what would happen whether they announced his death five minutes after it happened, or ten years later.

    Also, Rothdiener's understanding of Greece continues to, uh, "impress". Given all the class warfare, austerity measures, and violence of the last few years, it's hard to believe that anyone would still believe Leontiou would become "the next leader of Greece". With all his apparent wealth, he could have bought Greece, lock, stock, and barrel and sorted out everything but he didn't. It's much likelier that the Greeks would resent him enjoying such ridiculous wealth all throughout their suffering.

    There would also be a lot of criticism for him gallivanting in the Caribbean while the average Greek watched his home burn to the ground - in some instances, literally. At the very least, he could have had his ridiculous fundraiser cruise in the Mediterranean. There would be a symbolic meaning attached to him going halfway across the world to pal around with a bunch of filthy rich people, instead of at least doing it nearby.

    But then, what do I know? I'm "on the wrong side, politically". In Rothdiener's world, poor people are window dressing to make us care about his characters. (An area where they have failed to service the story, I might add.)