Thursday, May 21, 2015
When I was four, I opened my eyes to the world: there was something around me and it was large and bright and mostly good. I didn’t feel large, nor did I think of myself as small. The scale of things was set by my hand, the backyard where I played, the size of the dog that jumped on me and licked my face.
We lived near the sea. My father was a giant with immense strength and a kind heart. My mother was the air that I breathed – she was everywhere, a soft and serene presence. I don’t remember ever wanting anything. Before I knew what I desired, it was there, provided to me. My little brother and I held hands as we walked on the sidewalk. The houses all had gardens and there were fat, bumpy-skinned toads in them and, in one place, an old lady and her husband had collected rocks from all around the country and embedded them among their flowers, rose-quartz, agate, and mica brittle as glass.
A boardwalk with pavilions was built along the beach. The pavilions were Moorish and stood on piers saluting the passing ships. We went to the movies on the piers and I was never afraid. My little brother cried in the dark, but I felt brave and powerful. A carousel revolved under a glass dome and the air smelled of salt-water taffy and hot dogs. Sailors roamed the dance-halls and, when the girls exited the Fun House, a jet of air wafted their dresses in the air. At the end of the boardwalk, a meadow filled with clean, white sand tilted down to the sea and tall brown buildings stood in the center of green lawns where old men and women were strolling. The dogs were all friendly. Sometimes, we ate lobster and clams and, my favorite, batter-fried shrimp.
A circus was coming to town. My mother promised my brother and I that she would take us to the circus. There would be a parade, my father said, with gilded coaches and chariots and fire-eaters marching among tigers and lions on leashes. My mother told us that the circus would come in three weeks and we waited anxiously for the time to pass. Many times, I asked my mother what I could do to make the time go by more swiftly. My mother said: "You don’t want the time to go by quickly. People don’t get that much time. You should enjoy each day."
When I went to bed, I slept dreamlessly. It seemed as if no time had elapsed from the moment that I put my head on the pillow to the instant that I opened my eyes to smell bacon cooking downstairs and see the sun shining through the window. The night didn’t even exist. I came down the stairs in my pajamas with little feet sewn in them and I knew that I was a prince and conqueror. Even 20 blocks from the boardwalk and the sea shore, I could smell the ocean and hear the promises that it made to me.
A block from our house, a small grocery stood at the intersection of two streets under a complex canopy of wires and overhead power lines – street cars used to pass through this area but I don’t recall ever seeing one of them. Next to the grocery, there was a small lot where some used cars for sale were parked. The fronts of the cars nudged up close to the sidewalk. Between the sidewalk and curb, there was lawn, a ribbon of untended grass running from a fire hydrant to a telephone pole that smelled faintly of creosote, the odor of distant western mountains with upraised arms lifting their passes into the sun. When my parents strolled the sidewalk, our dog on her leash, they paused so that she could sniff the base of the fire hydrant and a few dozen feet later, the utility pole. Cars blinked at us as they passed. At the grocery store, my father bought us ice cream packed into cones that we ate too slowly so that it melted and made our chins and hands sticky.
"How many days until the circus?" I asked my mother.
She said something kind and mysterious.
I couldn’t imagine the circus. It was too wonderful and I had no name for the excitement that I felt.
The dog lunged to the side. She had discovered something half-hidden in the grass by the curb. My little brother followed the dog’s wagging tail to inspect.
"What is that?" my mother asked.
"Some kind of lever,’ my father said.
A big metal bar, orange with corrosion, rested in the grass. The bar was flush with the curb and sod. I could see that the bar was contoured as if to fit a man’s grip. The metal lever looked like a gearshift in the buses that we sometimes rode to the beach.
My brother knelt to inspect the lever. It was hinged so that it could be pivoted upright.
"Don’t pull on that," my father said to my brother. He was trying to yank the lever upward. "We don’t know what it controls."
The dog was dancing with excitement at the discovery. My father pulled her away from the lever in the grass and we walked home. The sun was setting among the leafy trees on the avenues leading away from the sea to the green western hills. In the twilight, hidden birds sang beautiful melodies.
The next day, we came to the place where the lever was embedded in the boulevard grass. "Daddy," I said. "You should pull on that lever."
"We don’t know what it controls," my father said.
Trucks roared past. Someone had stapled bright posters for the circus on the telephone pole. The posters showed a tame tiger riding on the shoulders of a horse.
Night came again. Time paused, hesitating on the brink of darkness. My mother came to my bedside to say my prayers with me. I asked God to make the night pass in a single breath so that morning would be exactly adjacent to the last moment before I fell asleep. I wasn’t thirsty but, nonetheless, drank some milk. In another room, my father was giving my little brother a bath and he splashed water happily and the dog came to my door wagging her tail and, then, it was morning, the next day, and there had been no night at all.
After work, my father clipped the leash to the dog and we went for a walk to buy ice-cream cones. My father crossed the street so that we would not walk past the big, rusty lever installed in the boulevard grass. But on our way back home, we looked over the road and saw the lever, a dark slash in the grass wet with nightfall and dew.
More time passed. I went to Sunday School and told the other children that I was going to the circus. A picture of Jesus beamed at me. We went to the boardwalk. I heard voices coming from underneath the planks and bent over to look through the cracks between the boards – some older kids were hidden in the shadows beneath where we were walking. They had been swimming and their shoulders and chins were bearded with green seaweed. My father and mother drank bottles of beer and we ate fried chicken.
On the way home, my parents stopped by the lever hinged to its metal base in the grass.
"I don’t think it can be moved," my father said.
"You’re very strong," my mother reminded him.
My father bent and his back arched to make a dome against the afternoon’s light and, then, he gave a great "huff!" and pulled on the lever. It pivoted upward until he held it erect between his knees.
"Does it keep going?" my mother asked.
"No, it stops like this," my father said. The lever stood upright as tall as his thigh. My father’s face darkened.
"We can’t leave it like this," he said.
He leaned against the lever and, creaking loudly, it dropped back down to lie supine in the grass. The earth shuddered for an instant, a subtle tremor that we felt in our feet and spines. The sun overhead was no longer merely a bright place in the sky – it was glaring down at us. The trees cast shadows and their leaves were like shutters on a camera clicking as it took pictures.
The circus didn’t come to town. My mother said that it had gone bankrupt and that the clowns had lost their jobs and were wandering the desolate vacant lots by the railroad tracks where gypies made their camps and the horses and the lions and tigers and elephants had found new homes in cages in the zoo. But other children at Sunday School said that they had attended the circus and seen the acrobats somersaulting overhead and, so, it has never been clear to me why my parents broke their promises to us. I had the measles and was confined to my bed for a week or ten days and I could smell my face: it had a peculiar rotting odor, sweet and nauseating. When we went to the movie in the boardwalk pavilion, the big screen showed me a corpse with its eyes wide open and this caused me to shriek with fear. At night, I dreamed about being dead and unable to close my eyes and had terrible nightmares. The darkness went on and on and on and I licked my lips with fear and anxiety. I licked and licked until my lips were raw, outlined in puffy red inflammation. My father took me with him in the Rambler to the hardware store. He had some tubes from the TV that he was going to test in the tube-tester. My father told me to wait for him in the car. A man with cerebral palsy staggered past the car and I was afraid that he would come to take me away with him. I began to cry and I licked my lips until I could taste blood with my tongue. My father came back and was angry because none of the tubes had tested as failed, something that meant that there was a more profound and expensive reason that our television didn’t work. He said that I was a coward and slapped my face for crying.
When I was forty, I went back to the village where I had lived as a little boy to look for that lever. I thought that, perhaps, I could pull that switch out of the earth once more and reset things. But the town had changed and hurricanes had destroyed the boardwalk and, although I found much rusting metal embedded in the filthy weeds between the fractured sidewalks, there was no lever.
Monday, May 18, 2015
I’m a trial lawyer. In practice, this means that I file lawsuits, take depositions, and settle most cases. Occasionally, a dispute is intractable and must be resolved in court. There is a truism in my profession: You settle the good cases and try the difficult ones. And that was what happened in the case of the Maori Will. The controversy involved a disputed legacy and Will contest. The matter couldn’t be settled and so I tried the case to a jury and lost. A lawyer doesn’t remember the cases that he won, or the ten-thousand claims settled. A loss leaves a mark on the memory, an indelible trace like a kind of tattoo.
The dispute involving a document that I nicknamed the Maori Will was a referral from the lawyer who prepared that testament. The attorney’s name was Kluetter, a man that I had seen at bar luncheons and, occasionally, met in the corridors of the courthouse but, otherwise, did not know. When we spoke by telephone, Kluetter surprised me by saying that he had been retained by a prominent local businessman, J.P. Dunrow, to draft a codicil to that client’s Will. Dunrow owned real estate and drug stores throughout the State and his death had been reported as front-page news in our town. But Kluetter was not an eminent attorney and, in fact, was reputed to be dilatory, negligent, and alcoholic – the lawyer of last resort for those who couldn’t afford better counsel. So it seemed strange to me that he had transacted important legal business for J. P. Dunrow. I knew Dunrow’s retained counsel, a group of lawyers prosperous enough to build an office building occupied entirely by their firm on the outskirts of town. That law firm’s new building, faced with glass and greenish stone quarried in our county, overlooked a river and, from its conference rooms, deer might be seen grazing in meadows sprinkled with wild flowers behind the building. I named that law firm when I spoke with Kluetter and said that I was impressed that he worked with Dunrow. "This codicil was a special project," Kluetter told me. He said that the other prestigious law firm represented Dunrow’s corporations and his family and, even, had drawn some of the decedent’s estate plan. "I’ll warn you," Kluetter said. "They will be on the other side of this fight."
Kluetter said that Dunrow, an old fraternity brother from their college days, had come to see him about the codicil. It seemed that Dunrow wanted a substantial legacy to be made to a man named Bloom. Kluetter prepared the codicil and had it duly executed by Dunrow. The testator died a couple years after the codicil was executed and his estate was probated. Dunrow’s principal heirs, his three surviving children, relied upon an earlier Will as testament and had that document presented to probate. In fact, none of Dunrow’s children, or their lawyers, mentioned Kluetter’s codicil and, perhaps, suppressed it. But, as one might suppose, Bloom had a photocopy of that codicil and had retained his own attorney to present his claim against the estate in probate court. Kluetter wanted me to defend the codicil, that is, to represent the legacy proposed for distribution to Bloom, a sizeable sum of money exceeding a half-million dollars.
"What’s wrong with the codicil?" I asked Kluetter.
Kluetter paused. "It’s terms are a little eccentric," he said.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"I’ll have to show you the document," he said. "You’ll have to come to my office."
"Well, was the old man of sound mind, etcetera?"
"Absolutely," Kluetter told me. "I can attest to that and my secretary."
Kluetter’s office was convenient to the Court – the wing of that building occupied by the jail was across the street from his basement suite. At street level, the sidewalk passed a tavern where Kluetter was often seen drinking beer at lunchtime and working word-puzzles in paperback book as he waited for his hamburger from the grill. Kluetter didn’t entertain clients for lunch and he always sat alone, aloof in the corner of the bar. Next to the sidewalk, there was a shoe store with no customers, a gloomy storefront with dusty cowboy boots displayed in its windows. A stair well fenced with iron piping led down to Kluetter’s rooms located beneath the shoe store. The Elks Club, a place where Kluetter went on Saturday for cocktails and lunch, was beside the shoe emporium.
I had never been in Kluetter’s office. Advertising fliers and other detritus from the street seemed to have been swept from the sidewalk down into the stairwell and the steps were slippery wet, decaying scraps of paper. At the bottom of the steps, a door opened inward into a small chamber crowded with an old couch and an upholstered chair, large and decrepit like a decayed throne. The geometry of the door and the stairwell was such that there seemed to me no way that the chair and couch could have been hauled down from the street into the waiting room. It was as if the couch and the chair had been mined from the lower depths of the earth and hauled up to that chamber, or, in the alternative, as if those pieces of furniture had simply grown there, raised from infancy like those horses in the coal mines in Zola’s Germinal. Beyond a potted plastic plant in an urn that someone had used as an ash tray, another door led into the a tiny reception area where Kluetter’s secretary, dour and almost mute, sat at her desk, mostly hidden by a big, archaic-looking computer. Kluetter’s office was to the side next to a foul-smelling toilet with exposed pipes and buckets stacked against the wall and a sinister-looking puddle in the middle of the floor covered in asbestos tile. (I later learned that Kluetter’s secretary would not use that toilet and that she attended to the call of nature at a Kwiktrip two blocks away.)
Beyond Kluetter’s closet-like office, there was a gloomy conference room. The conference room was long and narrow and extended back to a ruinous wall of bricks and crumbling mortar. Apparently, the conference room flooded because the table was entirely buried in a water-stained redrope files, heaps of them stacked eight to ten deep covering every inch of the table. Kluetter’s office was chiefly distinguished by an enormous desk that filled most of the room. The desk was made of dark wood that had aged to be almost black and it looked like the prow of ship, a huge wooden shell ornately carved in which the lawyer seemed to be inextricably embedded. Not only could I not grasp how that huge desk had come to be in this tiny space, it was also unclear to me how Kluetter achieved his position behind that desk – there didn’t seem to be enough space between the sides of the thing and the panel walls, hung with pictures of mallards and Canadian geese, for safe passage: did he clamber up and over the thing? And, if so, how did he manage that feat with the escarpments of disorderly files piled up along the front edge of the desk, the various ink-wells and recesses sculpted into the surface of that piece of furniture, and the columnar stacks of cubby holes flanking his chair on both sides.
Kluetter’s secretary ushered me into his room and he rose from behind his vast fortress-like desk, leaning forward to extend his hand, the tips of his fingers barely reaching my grasps over the mesas and ranges of decaying files. There was an old man smell in the room, sweat and booze and urine.
"Do you have our copy of the codicil?" Kluetter asked his secretary.
She nodded silently and handed me a manila file, marked with Dunrow’s name and some numbers.
I sat on a steel chair shoved close to the desk, my knees touching the big sepulchral piece of furniture.
"Jesus!" I said after reading the codicil. "This guy was of sound mind?"
"As you or me," Kluetter said, words that didn’t exactly inspire confidence.
"He was reasonably healthy?" I asked.
"Dying," Kluetter said.
"Well, you expect that," I said.
"He carried oxygen with him in a green tank. I remember he lugged that down here," Kluetter told me.
"Did he explain the meaning of this?" I asked.
"He wanted to give that poor bastard, Bloom...he wanted to give him...money. But, you see the condition..."
"I see the condition," I said.
Bloom’s bequest was $750,000 but subject to conditions. A photocopy of an engraving was attached to the codicil. The engraving was from an old book and depicted the head of a Maori warrior. The warrior’s eyes were shut and his lips curled into a derisory snarl and the base of his neck was ragged: it was an engraving of a severed head. Dense whorls of black tattoo covered the dead man’s face, great arches on the brow and thick, curving grooves chiseled into the man’s cheeks and chin. The tattoos seemed to be incised, channels in the dead flesh filled with sooty pigment.
"He had to have his face tattooed in accord with this exhibit to be qualified for the bequest," Kluetter said.
"And did he do it?"
"For three-quarters of a million?" Kluetter asked. "What would you do?"
"And the genital requirement?"
"He did that too," Kluetter said. "I have digital photographs. In my safe, but I have verification on both the face and the rest as well."
"What was the relationship?" I asked.
"It wasn’t explained," Kluetter told me. "He’s a pharmacist too. In his fifties now. Imagine having this kind of work done on your body when you’re our age."
I shook my head. "I can’t."
"He was working for a Walmart pharmacy in Minot...North Dakota," Kluetter said. "Of course, since he had this done –" (He gestured at the xerox of the old engraving.) "– you know, he doesn’t work at all."
"This is going to be a lawyer’s jamboree," I said. "A frolic. A lot of money at stake and a lawyer for the Estate, for Bloom, and..."
"For me," Kluetter said. "I want the Will vindicated. The PR on the estate is saying awful things about me. Impugning my competency."
"Who is the PR?’
Kluetter told me that it was Dunrow’s oldest surviving daughter. The old man’s wife had predeceased Dunrow a decade earlier.
"He had four daughters," Kluetter said. "The natural objects of his bounty. Something happened to the oldest one. Needless to say, the three girls weren’t happy when they found out about the bequest to Bloom. They haven’t even been civil to me."
"I suppose not," I said.
"Bitches!" Kluetter replied, spitting a little.
A shaggy-looking house centipede darted out from under Kluetter’s massive desk. The creature looked as big as a mouse. I started. The centipede reversed its direction a couple inches from my shoes and skittered back under the carved hardwood claws supporting the desk.
"Are you okay?" Kluetter asked me.
"A bug," I said.
"I have bugs here," Kluetter replied. I could see that the corners of the room were netted with spider web hung with the grey and black bulbs of desiccated insects.
"Have you seen the guy?" I asked Kluetter, pointing at the beheaded Maori in the old engraving.
"He appeared at the hearing when the girls filed their objection to the codicil," Kluetter told me. "If you read the whole codicil, you’ll see specifications for the scarification. They had to use a sort of chisel to cut the grooves. There was a lot of infection, keloid scarring. The grooves in the lips and gum caused such severe swelling that they had to feed him through a naso-gastric tube for more than a week."
"Jesus," I said.
"He looks awful, a face to give little kids nightmares," Kluetter said.
"Like Mike Tyson."
"Yeah, like Mike Tyson. But I don’t think Mike had his junk cut up and painted."
"I don’t know about that."
"Down below. That got infected too. It’s a mess," Kluetter told me.
"Why would anyone do something like this to themselves?"
"For 750,000 dollars? Wouldn’t you?"
The case lingered for two years. A number of lawyers were involved. Some newspaper articles appeared and there was an even a ten minute segment on Fox news about the Maori Will. (Bill O’Reilly used the story to comment on the death tax, an imposition on the wealthy that the famous media personality thought should be repealed.) The codicil was drafted with a clause providing that if the bequest to Bloom were disallowed, or, even, challenged in any way, the $750,000 bequest would be paid to the National Rifle Association. An NRA lawyer appeared in the case, an attorney from Denver, and this, further, complicated the litigation.
Kluetter’s deposition was taken. He was a tentative, weak witness and answered most of his questions with the phrase: "To the best of my recollection, I don’t recall." His secretary was more effective. She said that Dunrow had seemed pale and weak on the day that the Will was signed in her presence, but that he had greeted her and, even, remembered her first name and, further, had mentioned something about his great-grandchildren, comments that showed that he was of sound mind and knew the natural objects of his bounty.
Bloom’s deposition was taken. The personal representative of the estate, Dunrow’s oldest daughter, was also deposed.
Bloom said that Dunrow hired him immediately after he finished his education as a pharmacist. He was one of the first half-dozen pharmacists who worked for Dunrow at the various small town drugstores that the testator was acquiring at that time. Initially, Dunrow was very close to Bloom and invited the young man to his home to spend holidays with his family. Bloom was an orphan and had been raised by an Aunt and he seemed to have no really family of his own.
Dunrow was grooming his protégé for a partnership in the burgeoning pharmacy business. But, then, a calamity ensued. Bloom began to court Dunrow’s oldest daughter, Agatha. Something went awry. Agatha was headstrong and outspoken. Her sisters said that she was very similar to her father, had some of his physical features, and that she was also prone to histrionics, a large woman with a strong jaw who dramatized both her affection and her anger. Agatha managed several of Dunrow’s smaller, rural drugstores and the clerks in those places dreaded her inspections and feared her rage. She was thought to be temperamental and imperious and so it was surprising to everyone when she announced that she was in love with Bloom, a mild-mannered man and, even, a bit feckless.
Dunrow had other ideas for his eldest daughter and so he discouraged the relationship. He, even, bullied Bloom into starting a love affair with a waitress at a truck stop on the interstate. Agatha and her father clashed. After one particularly violent quarrel, Agatha left the family home in a rage. She stopped at tavern, apparently expecting Bloom to meet her there so that they could elope together. But Bloom had been told that he was to end the relationship with Agatha and so he didn’t appear for the assignation. Agatha drank too much and left the bar around midnight. She was killed in a head-on collision a few minutes later. The other driver in the crash was also drunk and so Dunrow’s insurance on the car settled the case cheap and, then, brought a dram shop claim against the tavern. Dunrow actually made a slight profit on the tragedy. His other daughters accused him of heartlessly exploiting Agatha’s death and refused to talk to their father for a number of years – the rift in the relationship healed only when the three others married and had children of their own, grandchildren on which Dunrow doted.
There was other unsavory testimony. Evidence was offered that Bloom had misappropriated money from one of Dunrow’s pharmacies and used those proceeds to start his own drug store, an enterprise that went bankrupt a few years later when Dunrow opened a "spite store" next door. Dunrow’s oldest surviving daughter thought that Agatha had been pregnant and that her father had administered to her an abortifacient. Curiously, Dunrow’s daughters didn’t blame Bloom for anything and expressed sympathy for the old man with the disfigured face. "He was once a very handsome fellow," one of them said in her deposition. In their view, the entire controversy was the fault of their irascible and perverse father as well as their obstinate and impulsive older sister.
"He got caught in the middle," the personal representative of the Estate said under oath. The witness looked across the conference room table at Bloom’s mutilated face and sighed.
A good mediator was hired and a settlement conference was convened. The Estate offered Bloom several hundred thousand dollars and the NRA waived its interest in the outcome, it’s attorney indicating that publicity about the bizarre case was bad for the organization. "It’s not the kind of new story that we covet," the NRA lawyer told me.
Bloom refused the offer. "If this was your face," Bloom said. "would you settle for less than half of what you have coming to you?"
"But you did this to yourself," I told him. "You don’t have anything coming to you."
"It’s a Will," he said. "Duly executed. It’s what the dead man wanted."
Bloom rejected the offer. The case was tried and the jury determined that the codicil was invalid. Dunrow had been insane when he demanded that Kluetter draft the document requiring Bloom to disfigure himself. The only real evidence for Dunrow’s insanity was Bloom’s face. During the trial, Bloom’s sooty corrugated face looked like a mask carved from the wood of some exotic tropical tree. His face was immobile and without any expression. Only his eyes seemed alive, liquid and pale in all that discolored corrugated flesh. It was as if he had become the severed trophy head shown in the engraving made an exhibit to the codicil, a mute, obtuse relic of some ancient mythology that no one even remembers, let alone believes.
There were appeals, but they were rejected. Bloom recovered nothing.
I last saw Bloom standing on the sidewalk outside Kluetter’s office. Bloom was sick, suffering from liver cancer. Kluetter shook his hand and patted him on the shoulder. Then, Kluetter descended the littered steps to his office. Bloom walked slowly down the sidewalk, avoiding puddles from a recent rain. His face was carved into a permanent scowl and some children approaching crossed the street so that they would not have to share the sidewalk with him.
Curiously enough, Bloom outlived Kluetter. The lawyer died of a massive heart attack about three weeks later. Bloom died a couple months after the attorney.
There is a codicil, as it were, to the story of Maori Will. The probate department in my firm acquired Kluetter’s practice and his remaining files. Although there was no agreement about his office space and furnishings, we assumed responsibility for those as well. Kluetter’s secretary retired. She had never married and lived with her parents until they died and so she was reputed to be fabulously wealthy. (Some people thought that she had been systematically embezzling from Kluetter and his clients for many years. But our accounting for Kluetter’s trust funds and deposits didn’t show any evidence of theft.) Kluetter’s secretary donated $100,000 to the local Humane Society; then, she moved to Orlando and was never seen again.
A moving crew unhinged the doors to Kluetter’s office and somehow extracted the rotting sofa and throne-like chair from his waiting room. His desk, however, was like a meteorite embedded in its crater. There was no way that it could be taken whole from his office. The moving crew speculated that it had been assembled in its cellar room when the structure itself was built. Ultimately, the huge sarcophagus of black, carved wood had to be hacked into pieces and dragged out of Kluetter’s moldering suite of rooms in that fashion. I was told that even the individual quarters of that drawn-and-quartered desk were as heavy as engine blocks.
When the desk was disassembled, it was discovered that the cubby hole into which Kluetter inserted his hips and legs when he was seated at the desk was infested with Brown Recluse spiders. The spiders made the space under the desk wooly with their webs and, in fact, there were two tunnels piercing the nest through which Kluetter had been accustomed to thrust his thigh and knee. The webs were ancient and filthy with dead insects and the carapaces of beetles devoured by the spiders covered the carpet where the lawyer’s feet had rested so that it was iridescent with them Centipedes as long as an index finger lurked under the desk and they darted through the nets of web from which the mummies of long dead flies were dangling like extinct Christmas tree bulbs. The entire grotto under the desk, exactly where Kluetter had sat for many years, was a wilderness of vermin, a dense, tangled ecology of predator and prey.
One of the workmen who took the desk apart said that there were bats living in the knee-space under Kluetter’s desk, a small colony of them like tumors growing from the ceiling of that opening, the underside of the wood panel on which the lawyer signed his correspondence and documents. I didn’t credit that tale. Colonies of bats leave deposits of guano and a strong stench of ammonia. I never smelled anything like that when I met with Kluetter to discuss the Maori Will.