“And that’s what planned giving means for you,” finished Mr. White. “Planning for a bequest in advance makes it easy and painless.”

He could have been named for his perfectly bleached smile, his shimmering skin, or even the waves of whitecaps cresting atop his perfectly coiffed head. But Miriam saw right through all of it, and through his seersucker suit besides, to the mosquito within. The university called him a development officer, but in Miriam’s eyes he was a looter, there to take her for everything she was worth under the banner of a university she detested.

“Thank you for coming all this way,” she said, sweetly. “You know, I met my husband at the university, God rest his weary soul.”

“I saw that, I’m sorry for your loss,” Mr. White said, smile still gleaming.

“It was in ‘92, so you’re a bit late for that,” Miriam said with a hint of battery acid. “You know, all the time we were dating, people had the most terrible things to say to us. They called him a race traitor, said he had the jungle fever, called me a gold-digger n-…well, you can fill in the rest of that for yourself.”

“It was rough in the pre-integration days, wasn’t it?”

Miriam glared at Mr. White. “I graduated in 1976, son. Integration was 15 years before that, and a good 10 years after most other places, I might add.”

“All the more reason to make the campus better with your generous gift.” Like a tried and true salesman whose commission depended on it, nothing she snarked had any effect on him.

“Let me think it over,” she said. “In the meantime, though, I do have a bit of planned giving you can take back with you, so you won’t have driven all the way out here empty-handed.”

“Oh?” said the development officer. He had a donor form out and a pen clicked before Miriam could even continue.

“Up there on the shelf,” said Miriam, gesturing to a rack of dusty curios. “You see the stone head? The Olmecs called it Tiquetzalitza, the Bringer of Rewards. It was given to my husband as a gift after we did an excavation in Tuxtla and donated the artifacts to a local museum instead of looting them.”

Mr. White eagerly filled out the form, asking a few additional questions and snapping a few photos. “This will have a place of honor in our university museum,” he said. “Thank you. And you’ll consider a monetary bequest as well?”

“Call on me in a year and we’ll have a cup of tea over it,” said Miriam, smiling.

In a year she would be dead; the cancer would see to that. And without whispering the name of a new owner into its stony ears, the Olmec Idol of Tiquetzalitza would regard its new owners as thieves. It was made to curse conquistadors with ill luck and poverty, something that had worked so well that they had given it back to its rightful owners three hundred years ago.

With the entire university as the guilty party, that was planned giving indeed.

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