John-Claude was a widower. He had one child, a son called Peter. His son was the epitome of laziness, but nonetheless John-Claude tried to cheer him (unsuccessfully) into doing some work.
John-Claude’s property was a few acres with a couple of cows and a few goats and a pet pony. The cottage was straight out of a book of fairy-tale illustrations, with a beautiful garden of hollyhocks and petunias and grape vines that ran around the thatched eaves. Things always seemed to be in flower!
John-Claude had a sneaky suspicion that he was on his last legs. He was getting on. “I think I hear an approaching death rattle,” he told his son. Well! Was the son excited or what! He suggested to his father that all should be put in his, the son’s, name. That way, there would be little to worry about when the dreaded moment arrived. John-Claude did that. The house and property was now in Peter’s name. All John-Claude need now do was die.
But he didn’t.
Son Peter was annoyed as anything. He still did no work, but the place was looking nice because John-Claude still laboured hard. In fact the relationship between father and son was more slave to slave owner. Peter made his father sleep out in the garden shed. He didn’t want to be woken with a racket in the early mornings when John-Claude rose to do some work on the property.
John-Claude developed an idea. For years he had been friends with the bank manager. They had been Friday-night drinking companions at the pub for yonks. The bank manager printed off a pretend document. It was a bank statement. It said that John-Clause had eleven million eight hundred and seventy-two dollars and seventeen cents in his account. John-Claude accidentally left it on the dining table.
After that son Peter worked his guts out. He couldn’t have been more helpful, more cheerful, harder working. John-Claude reverted to occasionally pottering in the garden as befits a retired gentleman. The place retained its picture-postcard look thanks to Peter’s back-breaking efforts.
Eventually, when John-Claude died, the fortune-expecting lazy son discovered there was zilch to inherit.