By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
They subsisted on room service, Chinese food and a delivery from LongHorn Steakhouse. Mermelstein chugged cups of Starbucks white chocolate mocha, his favorite drink.
Mermelstein put up no fight in negotiations over his film rights. He could use the $3,000 check, and he was thinking about his legacy. While Tabor filmed one afternoon, Mermelstein grabbed a Mont Blanc pen and signed away his rights, a cigarette wedged between his fingers.
After one of the sessions with Tabor, Mermelstein headed to the oncologist's office. Mason sat in the waiting room, reading The Man Who Made It Snow and learning the true background of her old friend.
Mermelstein already knew he had cancer of the lung, liver and bone. That day, his doctor gave him bad news: He'd be lucky to live another month.
The obituary in the Frankfort State Journal was 24 words long and listed him as one year younger than he actually was: "Services for Wesley Barclay, 64, will be held at a later date in Florida. He died on September 12. There will be no visitation."
Max Mermelstein received a thousand-word eulogy in The Washington Post. It was written by Jeff Lean, author of the Medellín Cartel tome Kings of Cocaine and the only professional reporter to ever interview him.
In late September, a wake was held for Mermelstein's cremated remains at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Homestead, South Florida. For the first time in more than two decades, his real name was openly used. About 20 relatives attended the ceremony, most of them relocated by the Witness Protection Program.
Tabor was also there, along with Gregorie. When it came time for a speech in remembrance of Mermelstein, heads swiveled to the back of the church, where Tabor sat. In a roomful of family, the man who knew Mermelstein best had met him four weeks before he died. Tabor's short speech recalled that Mermelstein was honest to a razor-sharp edge: "You always knew where you stood with him."
Afterward, Gregorie thanked Tabor for speaking instead of him. Nobody wanted to see an old prosecutor blubber. "I had a tear in my eye, and it wasn't for the mean old Max," Gregorie says. "It was for what everybody had just lost. He was a piece of history."
Mermelstein's ashes now sit in Ana's house. His daughter was also bequeathed $800, according to Wes Barclay's will, which was filed in Franklin County Court in Kentucky. That's a third-share of his net worth at death: $4,000 in a Bank of America account minus $1,600 in credit-card debt. Isabella also inherited her share.
Mermelstein left Ana's husband, Mannie, a computer and a handgun that he legally should not have owned. The Himalayan cat, Cat, also lives in Ana's house, somewhere in Florida.
Ana's 4-year-old son Pedro will inherit the Yiddish/Tasmanian Devil talisman when he comes of age.
Mason inherited Mermelstein's worn furniture, her share of the money and his old silver Lexus.
Brett Tabor is currently negotiating the sale of his finished script to a major Hollywood producer. Isabella, Ana and Mason will split any royalties, which, according to the will, are of "values unknown."