Playing catch in the front yard, working on the old classic cars, and him making me watch someone die just to prove who will always be in charge.
These are the memories of growing up with my Father.
I remember it like it was yesterday, although it was over 25 years ago.
He had just caught me smoking pot in the garage. I was 14 years old. I got it from the groundskeeper at the private prep school I was supposedly honored to be enrolled in.
We have always been a well to do family. Money, prestige and a last name that demands respect grants certain things in life.
What it doesn’t grant is mistakes that may put a scar on the legacy of that last name.
I thought he was still in Indonesia at a business meeting with the heads of one his holding companies.
He came home early after he caught wind that one of his accountants was cooking the books and stealing from him.
There I was, polishing off the remnants of prep school hydro, when the garage door opened.
I’m not sure what looked bigger. My father and his associates seeing my bulging eyes as they creeped in, or the headlights of my Father’s Bentley that stared me down.
He got out from behind the steering wheel and looked at me with a stone face for a moment.
He turned back to his associates in the vehicle and told them to wait until he could speak to me.
“Aren’t you supposed to be in school?” He sternly asked.
“Aren’t you supposed to be out of the country.” I hazily replied.
He cracked his neck to the left and unbuttoned the jacket on his Italian suit, and then spoke.
“I thought you understood the importance of the education and the family name that you are afforded. I have tried to explain to you what might happen if anything is done to diminish the equity that has been funneled into both of them. I guess you have reached the age and mindset where it is better to SHOW you what happens when my requests are not granted.
He motions for his associates to exit the Bentley.
Two rather large men get out and are following my Father’s accountant to the middle of the garage.
“Son. You remember my accountant.” My father says and nods toward the trio.
I got up to properly greet him.
Before I was able to take 2 steps, he was knocked out cold by the butt of a revolver by one of the 2 large men.
I stop, cold in my tracks, and look back at my Father, who is bearing his signature grin.
“It has been discovered….” He began,
“that our accountant, who has been ‘part of the family’ since before you were born has been taking advantage of the hand that feeds him……feeding time is over. He has obviously concluded that stealing from me is more important than investing in me. You get the privilege, son, of witnessing what happens when my control of family situations is challenged. Take the accountant to the judgement chamber…..Son, follow me.”
I watched at the 2 large men took the knocked out accountant by under the arms and dragged him toward the back wall where the safe was.
One of the men, punched in a code, turned the lock and opened the door.
Beyond the door was a staircase that led downward.
The men began to drag the accountant down the stairwell.
I naturally paused, and fearfully looked up at my Father.
He, still brandishing his grin, plainly hand motioned me to follow his associates.
I reached the bottom of the stairwell to find the associates tying the accountant to a chair, facing a video monitor.
My Father, who followed behind me, motioned for us to sit in the chairs that sat beside the video monitor.
“Wake him up. It’s time to show who is in control of the family destiny.”
One of the large men, got in front of the tied up accountant, and slapped him across the face with an open palm.
The accountant groggily awoke to find himself facing me and my Father.
“WHAT’S GOING ON? I HAVEN’T DONE…”
My Father cut him off mid sentence.
“SILENCE!” He said as he clicked a remote to start the video.
The video showed the accountant talking with another man. He was explaining the elaborate system he created to funnel money out of certain accounts and into other accounts without anyone noticing.
After the video ended my Father looked at the accountant with a stone face and said,
“Your partner in this crime has met a swifter end than you will be facing. My son here is slowly creeping down the same path of defying my authority….he is here to witness what the consequences of that action is to become.”
He then nodded to the other large man, who slowly pulled a razor sharp blade out of his jacket pocket.
He walked up behind the accountant. Before he could even attempt to struggle, he pulled back his head and slowly sliced a clean cut across his jugular.
I stared in disbelief as the accountant tried to hang on to his life as the liquid that provided his life gushed from the wound.
I tried to get up and run upstairs. My Father was much stronger and quicker than I. He held me in my seat with my head facing forward, eyes opened until the accountant stopped gurgling and slumped forward.
My Father then turned my chair around to face him. He looked at me with his emotionally dead eyes and said,
“The fortune that lies within and because of our name must not be shamed….in any way.”
He continued to stare at me until he knew that statement saturated through my entire being……
Here I am, over 25 years later, having another stare down with my father’s cold eyes.
It’s been over 4 1/2 years since he was in charge of the family and it’s affairs.
Being his only son and confidant I have been in control of the estate, ever since.
I am now in control.
The cancer that invaded first took his strength then began to take hold of some of his senses.
As he lay on his eventual deathbed, only myself and his doctor are in his presence.
The doctor checks his vitals, takes a deep breath and exhales. He then goes over to a briefcase and pulls out a legal document that was signed and notarized by my Father years earlier.
The Doctor hands me the paper and leaves the room, closing the door behind him.
I look at the document and begin reading,
I have noticed already that since the demise of my health, you have done very well with the family name and businesses. Gone are the heavies and fear tactics that I and generations before had used to keep our name in the consciousness of the world. You have done well. But, even in my final days and hours you must be reminded of who we are and how we became who we are. You have one final task to prove your devotion to the family. Long ago, you watched as one who stole from me was dealt with. He had no choice but to comply. Now…you are left with a choice. The moment you began reading this, all of our accounts, holdings and company ventures have been frozen. Your choice will decide its fate. You will choose to cut off the oxygen supply that keeps me alive and watch me die to unfreeze it all…..or leave me be under doctor’s care and lose it all. You either grow some balls from the name you were afforded or lose it and everything that goes with it.
P.s. Remember who has ALWAYS been in charge.
I chuckled as I read the final line and looked at the old man lying in his grand bed.
I walked over to him and shook him awake.
He looked up at me.
I pulled the oxygen cord over in front of his face and let him watch as I crimped the tube and cut off the supply.
He almost smiled a devious smile before he started grasping for breath.
As he began to turn red from lack of air, I made sure he was looking at me when I released the tube and un crimped it allowing the air flow to rush into his body.
He watched in disbelief as I reached into my pocket and pulled out a joint.
I lit it right in front of him and blew the first exhaled smoke into his cancer ridden face and said,
“Keep it. The family name has been out of control for generations.”