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Connie Shutter, the mistress of a small-time New York diamond merchant, was visiting her parents in Toronto when she was bent forward in pain. She suspected the arrival of her baby was imminent.
White-faced, Connie said she was returning to New York.
“But you still have three days left with us,” Beryl her mom complained but Connie said, “Mom I think Barney will be arriving early and I want him born in America.”
Frank her father took them to the airport and Connie reached New York safely. Three days later, rather than a boy she aimed to call Barney, she gave birth to a girl. She had no name prepared for her daughter, having been so sure it would be a boy.
Within twenty-four hours Connie’s disappointment had evaporated and she held her red-faced and fat-cheeked daughter in her arms and called Samuel Levy.
Checking he was alone she said, “Sam I’m sorry. I’ve had our baby and it’s a girl.”
“No matter, we’ll try again. How are you?”
“Fine, surprisingly fine actually. Will you come to the apartment and see her? I go home tomorrow.”
“No, it’s a girl.”
“Sam please don’t be like that.”
“You promised me a boy. My wife and I have three girls and only one of my daughters has a child to date and she’s female.”
“I know and I’m sorry. The next one is bound to be a boy. Boys run in the Shutter family. I told you I have four brothers and dad’s brothers have five boys between them and only one girl.”
“Yeah so you told me. Get rid of her Connie as soon as you wean her. What’s her name?”
“I-I wanted you to name her.”
Sam snapped a baby must have a name. “Call her Kelly after a pretty girl who lived in our street when we were kids. We became friendly and she invited me to her birthday party.”
“Must go. Contact me when you have got rid of the kid. Bye.”
However later in the day Sam relented somewhat and went to the hospital to see Connie but refused to see his daughter. He voluntarily acknowledged paternity by signing a VAP form and paid the hospital costs.
A social worker accompanied by a policewoman called on Samuel Levy in his first-floor office suite.
“Yes how can I help you?” Sam asked the social worker after the two visitors had identified themselves. “None of my daughters has been in trouble I hope?”
The policewoman took notes as social worker Mrs Peach asked, “Are you familiar with the name Miss Connie Shutter?”
Startled Sam went to his office door and told his PA he was in private conference, not to admit anyone. He closed the door.
“Yes Mrs Peach. I know Miss Shutter.”
Sam gave her the address of Connie’s studio apartment on East 13th Street in East Village and said Connie had given birth to a baby three weeks ago.
“I regret to inform you Mr Levy that Miss Connie Shutter was knocked down by a speeding motorist this morning around 9:30 and the driver failed to stop. She died of severe internal injuries at the scene. When slammed to the ground Miss Shutter held up the baby and broke its fall. The little girl appears unharmed.”
“Ohmigod, Connie. And little Kelly is only three weeks old.”
“Yes it’s very tragic. I found you because you are registered as the father. Will you accept custody of the child?”
“I-I need to speak to my attorney about that. Please give me details where I may find Miss Shutter. I’ll take care of her.”
“Her parents are arriving about now to do that.”
“Tell me where Miss Shutter body is being held.”
“Not until I have consulted about that with the deceased parents Mr Levy. What about the child?”
“My attorney and I will speak to Miss Shutter’s parents about that.”
* * *
Attorney Virginia Ricardo said, “It’s a mess Sam. I suppose you want me to clean up for you?”
“Please,” Sam said mournfully to Virginia. They’d gone through high school together.
“Right, I accept the task providing you allow me to do it my way.”
“Yes,” Sam said dully.”
“You loved the woman, didn’t you?”
“I can see that. Give me details of the funeral home. I’ll go now. Her parents are probably still there, attempting to cope with their shock and grief.”
“I don’t have it but here’s the card of the welfare worker. I’ll come with you.”
“No you won’t. You agreed to do it my way. The parents might not want you there, perhaps thinking their daughter died because of you.”
“It’s how people can think Sam. I’ll keep you briefed. From what you have told me the parents will know you rejected the baby from the outset.”
The arrangement was Sam could attend the chapel service but must stay at the back row and not go forward and not say anything and leave as soon as the brief service ended. Mr and Mrs Shutter had arranged to have their daughter’s body taken home to Toronto for burial at a graveside service to be attended by immediate family.
Sam sat through the brief service grief-stricken, Virginia holding his hand. It was bad enough Maltepe Escort not being allowed to attend the burial but the Shutter’s had shocked him by wanting nothing to do with him because of his callous treatment of their daughter and baby Kelly.
Back in Virginia’s office she said bluntly, “We have a baby on our hands and she is in temporary foster care pending legal finality. What do you suggest?”
Sam wiped his eyes and ran a hand through his thinning hair. He was tall and lean and not unattractive, though right now his eyes were red with dark rings under them.
“You need sleep. We’ll talk about this tomorrow.”
“No Virginia. These are my instructions. You are to arrange for Kelly to be adopted, using some kind of agency to do this on my behalf to try to ensure she goes into a loving home. My identity is to remain unknown to her until she turns fourteen. You will be the conduit between us. I…”
“Sam my younger daughter lost her baby five months ago. They have been talking about starting over again. He’s an attorney. May I arrange to take them to see Kelly?”
“Yes of course. Providing you are satisfied I’ll have no objection to them adopting Kelly. Just leave me out of it apart from the legalities. I will deposit with you $30,000 dollars into a trust for Kelly that terminates when she turns thirty and the assets then go to her. I suggest the trust buys a wide range of stock. Stock can be sold to pay for any taxation and to pay for her schooling and any other special needs as approved by you and two fellow trustees. In the event of Kelly’s possible untimely death that trust automatically dissolves and the money reverts back to me or to my estate.”
“Is that all?”
“It is both generous and rather heartless but I understand your position Sam. Once that trust is formed you will be divorced from it so it no longer figures as part of your assets. I’ll come back to you about this once I have consulted with the State Office of Children and Family Services.”
“Just do your best for that tiny kid Virginia.”
“Have you seen her yet?”
“Do you wish to see her?”
“I thought as much. You always were a hard bastard.”
“Thanks. Just do you job Virginia and in this instance excel at it.”
Virginia went to the door and Sam kissed her cheek and she watched him disappear into the elevator. She sighed thinking of how his callous, selfish actions had impacted dreadfully in this instance on so many people. She now had a strong desire to see this infant and his reaction was just the opposite. He’d been a good father to his daughters and as far as she knew always kind and affectionate to his wife Lily. But did he love his family, did he love anyone? Thinking about how once she’d thought she’d been in love with Sam when they were teenagers Virginia sighed, unable to understand how some people could turn on and turn off their affection. That ability horrified her.
* * *
Until she was thirteen Kelly grew up assuming she was the daughter of Stephen and Leonie Armstrong. Her name was Kelly Armstrong and she called them daddy and mommy. But as she approached the age of fourteen, her mom Leonie (younger daughter of attorney Virginia Ricardo), began gently referring to adopted children at appropriate moments when talking to Kelly. Initially such references appeared not to particularly interest Kelly until one day she asked, “Am I adopted mommy?”
Leonie’s breath caught and she shook and almost panicked but steadied and said yes.
And amazingly all Kelly said was “Oh?” and asked a question about something entirely different. In time of course she asked who were her real parents. Tutored by Virginia to expect this moment, Leonie smiled and said, “You will just have to wait. Daddy and I will tell you one day. Is that okay?”
“You must tell me if this worries you.”
“I will but it really is okay. Daddy and you are daddy and mommy to me.”
“And that won’t change.”
Kelly looked out the window and said, “I didn’t think it would. You love me and so does daddy. You would not throw me away.”
“No darling, you are quite right. We would never, never do that to you.”
Leonie said under her breath, “Not like your hard-ass father Samuel Levy.”
Tragically, just before Kelly’s twelfth birthday, Sam had been fatally shot in front of his family when going to the aid of one of his friends who owned the restaurant. The working proprietor was being pistol-whipped by one of two gunmen. As Sam grappled with one of the men he was shot in the abdomen and bled to death. The robbers fled, jumping over dying Sam and with their haul of less than eight hundred dollars. The companion of the gunman who killed Sam was caught on security camera and he and his companion were arrested within twelve hours of the felony.
Virginia called Leonie with the news and Leonie surprised her by saying, “Well it seems Samuel Levy wasn’t a total jerk after all mom.”
“No I tried to tell you that, having known him since I Anadolu Yakası Escort was twelve.”
“Do we go to the funeral and take Kelly?”
“For what purpose darling? To tell Kelly in two year’s time she attended her father’s funeral although she’d never met the guy?”
“Ah I get your point.”
“I’ll be going of course. He and I committed double adultery on six occasions over the years.”
“Ohmigod mom, and I’ve always thought you were lily white. I’ll come to the funeral with you.”
“If you wish. Your father is coming with me.”
“Well dad is so unreliable that might not happen. Anyway you might require a woman’s shoulder to shed a tear on.”
“That’s lovely of you darling. I had kept telling Sam over the years that Kelly was in wonderful hands.”
* * *
On a Sunday evening, three days after Kelly’s fourteenth birthday, her adoptive parents took her to her favorite restaurant where they told her the time had come to tell her who her real parents were.
Looking worried Leonie said, “You wish to know don’t you dear?”
“Yes of course mom. You won’t be sending me back to them will you?”
“No of course not darling.”
Her adoptive father said, “Are you really sure you are ready to hear about this Kelly? It may upset you hearing about your past.”
“Are you expecting me to cry daddy?”
“It won’t matter if you do. We just wish to be satisfied you want to hear about your past.”
“Yes I do, I know I do.”
“Right we are finished here. Let’s park by the river and sit on a bench.”
“Did my real parents drown?”
Stephen held out his hand and smiled. “Come on my girls. Let’s do it.”
As the story unfolded, Kelly listened quietly and without emotion.
When the story ended she said, “So my mother loved me and my father didn’t although my mother probably didn’t because she’d promised my real father I’d be a boy.”
“We have no detailed knowledge about that,” Leonie said.
“Well since they are both dead I suppose it doesn’t really matter. It’s so sad but I have you guys. So Grandma Virginia who loves me so much is not my real Gran?”
“No she isn’t. But she knew your real father for most of her life and now she is ready to tell you about him. She says if you wish she’ll make enquiries to find people who knew your mother where she grew up in Toronto. Regrettably her parents are now both dead but she had four brothers who are your blood uncles and there will be other relatives.”
“No it’s fine. I’m not really interested. Perhaps when I grow older I might look into it a bit. You see none of them really wanted me. Gosh I am so glad you two guys wanted me. That makes me feel blessed.”
Leonie was the one who cried, hugely. It was a defining moment for all of them but it was Leonie who felt she had been carrying the burden of disclosure and now it had been made she felt huge release. Stephen cuddled her and Kelly cuddled them both.
Kelly’s best friend Sandra Wilks asked, “Do you feel sad about being told your real parents are both dead?”
Sandra wrinkled her forehead and sitting beside Kelly on a park seat said, “Don’t you think that’s strange thinking like that?”
“No because I never knew them but I’m annoyed my father lived until I was twelve and he lived within ten minutes of where I live and never attempted to see me. That stinks.”
“Yeah Kelly I can see that. Life can be such a bitch.”
On the next Saturday Kelly visited her grandmother Virginia Ricardo who had just colored her hair and had a towel tied as a turban. Virginia hugged her very favored visitor and said, “So I’m told you know and you’ll realize I’m no longer your so-called grandmother?”
The lean blonde fixed her unusually pale blue eyes on the plump woman and said, “I think I understand everything that happened but not why my real father made no attempt to see me. That’s why I’m here, to find out. I also wish to keep on knowing you as my grandmother because I don’t want to lose you and create that gap in my life.”
“That’s very mature thinking. I’d love our relationship to continue unchanged.”
“Are you married? Mom said yes when I asked her this morning and she knew I was coming here so said I should ask you if I wanted details.”
“Yes I married when I was thirty and my Joey found another woman seven years later and walked out on me although he did say goodbye. He left me with two children. He didn’t seek to divorce me and I didn’t bother to apply for the annulment of my marriage because I was so busy with legal work and my marital status being left up in the air didn’t bother me. Men have come and gone out of my life and now they are rare and that doesn’t bother me.”
“You are talking about sex aren’t you?”
Virginia smiled and straightened Kelly’s t-shirt. “Yes. The need for that diminishes as you pass through middle age.”
“Are you happy in that situation?”
Virginia answered without hesitation. “Yes, I have my two daughters and İstanbul Escort their children and husbands as family.”
Kelly looked a little uncertain. “Am I included as the children?”
“Oh yes and why not? You were legally adopted by Leonie and Stephen and we all love you so much.”
“Was I? I was only told I was adopted. They said nothing about it being legal.”
“Adoption can only be through a legal process darling otherwise it’s not adoption. Oh you poor sweetheart. This must be confusing for you.”
“That’s why I’m here today to find out things, everything I suppose. But first it was important to learn if I still had a grandmother.”
Virginia felt her heart miss a couple of beats but no way would she reveal Kelly was her favorite grandchild. “Come through to the kitchen my dear child for milk and cookies. Although it’s still morning I must have a wine.”
“Is that because you are upset?”
“What I’m feeling under this mild interrogation is called stress… worry and pressure is churning up inside me but it’s okay, I often work like this when I fear I might have represented a client’s interests below the best of my ability.”
They sat on at the breakfast bar. Classical music played softly in the background. Virginia had long wondered when this moment would come and was delighted it was a young, confident and inquiring girl pushing for answers rather than being forced to sit and having no real interest. This was just so perfect. She thought of Sam momentarily and knew he’d approve.
“Shall I take it from the beginning, telling you everything I know?”
“Yes, the beginning is usually the best place to start. I think this is just like opening the first chapter of my life.”
“Yes although it goes beyond your birth. I went through high school with your father Samuel Levy so we were the same age.”
“Did you have sex with him?”
“Yes and I was naughty about that. It was after we both were married. He knew I was alone by then and at times found me in need of company because we remained in close contact. I was of course his attorney by then. But please, let me take you right back to the beginning. It will be a résumé because there is so much I can remember and it would take hours to recite it. Do you know what a résumé is?”
“Yes it means a summary.”
“Good girl. Right let’s go back to the very first time I met you father. His family was long settled in New York and my parents had just moved into an apartment in the street where his parent’s lived…”
During the monologue, broken occasionally for a question when the 14-year-old sought either understanding or greater elaboration, Virginia made lunch and they ate.
“May I have some wine?”
Virginia said, “Just half a glass and at your young age you must only drink alcohol with or immediately before food and consume very little.”
“You must have educated your daughters with those rules because mommy allowed me my first wine the other day and said exactly what you have just told me.”
Virginia said, “Well that’s something that rather headstrong girl remembered her mother saying.”
Thirty minutes later Virginia finished her narration and said, “Well that completes your history according to Virginia Ricardo darling. Now allow me to take your hands because I wish to say something very important to you. You are not alone in this world. You have your mother and father, your Aunt Kathy and Uncle James Greenway and cousins Miles and Milly.”
“Yes I know you but you forgot to include yourself, my favorite grandmother.”
“But you have only one surviving grandmother.”
“Yes and I think I get my teasing streak for you. Anything else?”
“Yes and this could be very upsetting. I don’t really know anything about your birth mother and your father rejected you because Sam wanted your mother to bear him a son whom he planned to pass on his business to you He and your mother were absolutely sure you’d arrived and be that son and Sam was bitterly disappointed. He didn’t wish to see you.”
“Because I wasn’t a boy.”
“Yes,” Virginia said squeezing Kelly’s hands gently, “But don’t despair. He didn’t walk away from you completely. He established a trust for you and instructed that the three trustees, of whom I’m one, to buy an apartment for you to enrich you in to future and to pay for your college education. That apartment, purchased expensively at the time for almost $30,000 is today in a building of one of the most sought-after addresses in this city. Even after the payment of taxes and meeting outgoings, the trust is building an impressive asset for you. You cannot capitalize on that asset until you reach the age of thirty so really you should just park this information at the back of you mind expect to understand you have the cash to go to any college or university in America without your parents contributing a single dollar, though who knows, they may wish to pay for your college education as your birthright.”
Virginia had to spend some time explaining why Kelly’s adoptive parents might wish to provide her college education and to define in terms the young girl could understand the meaning of birthright.”
“Isn’t understanding one’s history so complicated?” Kelly yawned. “Look at me yawn, this must have been so stressful and so tiring for you.”
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