The call came late in the day. According to the man on the phone, someone claiming to be the attorney for my Uncle Harold, I was to be left an inheritance.
“Sure, and how much money to I have to wire to Nigeria to claim this ‘inheritance,'” I replied.
We’ve all seen this scam before, right? It amazes me that people still fall for it. What kind of dummies are we raising these days…
“Sir,” the man interjected, “I’m not from Nigeria. This is not a scam. Your Uncle Harold did leave you an inheritance.”
Okay, here it comes. The pitch.
“But I don’t even have an Uncle Harold,” I informed the “attorney.”
“Actually, sir, you do. He was your father’s brother. Most of the time people called him ‘Scrap.”
Wait, Uncle Scrap is Uncle Harold. It never even struck me that Scrap wasn’t his given name. We always called him Scrap. Apparently he was a scapper as a young man, you know, a fighter. Uncle Scrap was an aggressive competitor in every thing he did. With two decades of service in the Army – a stereotypical Drill Sergeant, no less – the name fit him. But Harold? I never knew his real name.
“Oh, Uncle Scrap,” I said. “I remember Uncle Scrap. I haven’t seen him in all these years since I moved away. Wait, he was rich?”
That didn’t seem likely. No one in my family was rich. Well, there was that other uncle who fell into a comfortable inheritance when the man he had been a caregiver for died and left him a house and a stake in the stock market. But that wasn’t Scrap.
“Sir. Would it be possible for you to come by my office in the next few days. I know it’s a long way from where you live but I can assure you that it will be worth your while.”
“Um, well, sure. Of course. I mean, I guess so.” I was still trying to wrap my mind around why an uncle I hadn’t seen in years and whom I didn’t know was wealthy had left me with a ton of money.
Apparently I said that last part out loud.
“I’m sorry, sir. Perhaps I wasn’t clear. I didn’t say he was leaving you ‘a ton of money.’ You really do need to come to my office at your earliest convenience. I’ll explain your inheritance at that time.”
Okay, so here I am two days later in the attorney’s office to claim my inheritance.
Her name is “Fancy.”
David J. Kent is a science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, in Barnes and Noble stores now. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.