Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Father (as in paternal parent, not God) (04/10/08)
TITLE: Day of Reckoning
By Helen Murray
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“Of course, son. Come into the study and we’ll take some wine together.”
The very best of wine tumbled sensuously into the most exquisite of crystal glasses, and the two men eased themselves into magnificent leather chairs, the carved woodwork glowing under its high polish.
“What is it, son?”
“Dad, I’ve been thinking.”
“That’s a great beginning son. I’ve longed for the day when my party boy will get serious and make a plan for his life. What have you been thinking?”
“Well, Dad, I’ve grown up with you and your business, and I know it back to front. But you have all the business in this town already, so what I’ve been thinking is, if you were to sponsor me to go establish a franchise in Utopia, I could become independent and set myself up there as you have here.”
“What do you mean, ‘sponsor you’?”
“Well, I don’t have my own money, Dad, so I need you to give me the wherewithal in my bank account to set the business up there.”
“How much are we talking, son?”
“Well, say you take a mortgage on your property and give me half its value, I’d be able to set up a great business, and gradually pay it back to you.”
“Have you prepared a business plan?”
“Yes, well, my plan is to set things up exactly as you have done here, and repeat the whole scenario in Utopia. I have friends there, and I know the business will do well. There is no competition in that city, and effectively I can’t lose. I’ve spent years working in your business, Dad, but now I want my turn.”
“You want your turn! I started from scratch you know.”
The senior man’s mind wandered back fourty years to a similar scenario, when he had asked his father the same favour. He’d gone off in great spirits, his pockets loaded, and surrounded with friends. He’d been incredibly generous with them, and things had been wonderful for a time. However, he hadn’t paid as much attention to the business plan as he should, and before long he’d found himself with insufficient funds to develop the next stage. He’d fallen foul of the lending institutions who had gobbled up any profits in interest, and eventually he’d had to sell his business for a song and look for a job himself.
Nobody had seemed to need his services at that point, there being a drought in the country and work being scarce. All he could get was a run down room in return for feeding a farmer’s pigs, but that didn’t even feed him. His friends were less generous to him than he had been to them. The fact was they didn’t seem to want to know him any more, and eventually he’d decided to return home and look for a job with his father whose employees were now far better off than he was.
His humiliating day of reckoning had arrived. Never again could he be that same, suave, swaggering lad that once he’d been. He’d done his father out of half his assets, and could never repay the debt. Father had been wonderful. He’d never even mentioned it, but welcomed him with the greatest homecoming party imaginable. Starting from scratch, he’d built his own business once he’d properly taken stock of his attitudes and mistakes. His brother hadn’t been terribly impressed but that couldn’t be helped.
And here, now, was his beloved prankster, large as life, funny, adorable, irrepressible, wonderful son, the spitting image of his dad and full of wild excitement with the same great idea. How to handle this request? Best do exactly as his father had done. His business could stand the mortgage, and the son had to learn in his own way. He knew the money would never be repaid. He knew what it would take to bring this youngster to his senses. Well, money would be just the tool to do it! Give him the money. Let him do his thing, and be there to love him if and when he came home again to Dad.
“OK. I’ll tell you what I’ll do …..”
They worked out the details together.
Two weeks later, after a big farewell party, the son waved goodbye from his magnificent, new, red, red, red Ferrari sports, flames emblazoned on the paintwork, and roared down the drive on the road to embracing life on his own terms.
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