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"I know my checkbook isn't as neat as yours, but I'm not broke!" replied Chuck, becoming a little nervous that someone as smart as his brother could think otherwise.

"Humph," replied Jerome, arranging Chuck's papers on the desk in neat piles. "Look at this," he muttered, something catching his eye. "I've never seen so many late charges in all my life!" Jerome was well aware that he was making Chuck feel degraded and embarrassed. "I guess you forgot to make enough notes," he commented, snidely. Jerome had done a complete work of making Chuck feel humiliated.

"Is there anything else?" asked Chuck, wishing to escape his older brother's cold gaze.

"We have a lot to settle, yet," replied Jerome. "I spent the better part of this morning on the phone with my lawyer. I informed him of our situation and he advised me what to do. The first step is to get a court to appoint me your legal guardian." Jerome continued to organize the stacks on the desk. "It means I'll be the one legally responsible for your care-- financial and otherwise. The legal grounds for appointment of a guardian include mental conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, so we shouldn't have much trouble there."

"Legal guardian?" repeated Chuck, disbelievingly. "I'm not helpless! I can still take care of myself, you know."

"Are you, really," Jerome replied, dryly.

"I'm not handing my financial responsibilities over to you. I can take care of it myself," insisted Chuck. Jerome looked at his brother with his cold, deep-set eyes.

"I don't know why your kicking. I really don't," said Jerome. "You have no choice, and neither do I. If the disorder of your financial affairs hasn't quite convinced you, then I'll tell you a story. Dad once signed a check to pay the phone bill, and it cost him twenty-five thousand dollars because he transposed the numbers. By the time I caught it, it was too late. One of the workers at the phone company skipped with the check and cashed it before I had time to stop it. And when Dad and Mom didn't have enough money to meet their needs, who do you think footed the bill? Whether you like it or not, you're my burden."

"But is it necessary to have a legal guardian?" asked Chuck.

"For your information," began Jerome, "admittance to a nursing home may only be arranged by a legal guardian." The words "nursing home" rang in Chuck's ears. "You're going to have to face it, sometime," Jerome said, seeing the disturbed look on his brother's face. "What are we supposed to do with you when we can no longer take care of you at home? You must consider the position your family will be in." Chuck hung his head. Vera never wanted to place Arnold in a nursing home, but there did come a time when she had no other alternative. "My lawyer advised me to get this squared away with before you're not able to give your consent," continued Jerome. "Many don't want to face it and put it off, making it ten times harder to do, later. You don't have to look so concerned," laughed Jerome, "I'm not doing this so I can steal your money! You have none!"

"O.K.," sighed Chuck, resigning himself to the fact that a nursing home was in his future.

"That brings us to our next topic," continued Jerome, "Charlie."

"What about Charlie?" asked Chuck, alarmed.

"This was my lawyer's idea, entirely," Jerome prepared his brother, "I don't want to do it, but she is my niece. Blood is thicker than water, and I won't have any niece of mine shipped off to any foster home."

"What do you mean!" exclaimed Chuck, not sure if he heard Jerome correctly.

"According to my lawyer, the law requires that there must be an adult who is legally responsible for the care of unmarried minors under the age of eighteen. If the the parents are unable to care for the child, say for instance you're no longer mentally able to take responsibility for Charlie, then it is possible that the Child Welfare System could become involved."

"The Child Welfare System!" exclaimed Chuck.

"Must you parrot everything I say?" asked Jerome, impatiently. "Now where was I? Oh, yes, the Child Welfare System. Anyway, intervention might lead to the placement of the child, in foster care."

"How can it be prevented?" asked Chuck, fighting back panic.
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