David Marlowe’s home was among the most opulent estates dotting Long Island’s North Shore. If you were to get close enough tonight, without setting off alarms and alerting security, you’d hear laughter and lively conversation floating out the windows from round the dining room’s Cherry wood table.
Stocky, handsome with a thick shock of red hair, David, youngest of ten children, grew up in a low income neighborhood in Brooklyn. When he wasn’t in school or working odd jobs he was taking care of the chickens penned behind the family’s small rented house. Today, CEO of the billion dollar Salem Corporation, having replaced the former, Paul McGregor, guilty of misusing company funds but avoiding jail thanks to an expensive lawyer. For months that followed, the ex CEO tried unsuccessfully to bring David down through his lies, perhaps out of envy or bitterness but no doubt fueled by the fact John, Paul’s son, was David’s closest friend. Less than a year later the unthinkable happened. A car accident took the lives of John and his father, leaving John’s five year old son Bo, without a dad.
David had lost touch with John’s family until a few months ago when news about Bo reached the busy executive. Bo had been homeless four years, living on the streets of New York until recently entering a drug Rehabilitation Center in Harlem. David put everything aside to write Bo a letter since the struggling addict couldn’t receive visitors yet. The letter included an open invitation for dinner at his estate.
It would be three months before his counselor felt Bo was ready to leave the confines of his closely monitored life. Though he finally accepted the invitation, Bo was uneasy and not without suspicion for the fact his grandfather tried to destroy David Marlowe’s career twenty years before. So tonight, on his way to Long Island in the limo that David had sent to pick him up, he sunk into the soft leather wondering if this was all leading to a cruel joke being played on him, some sadistic payback for the actions of his flesh and blood.
A long cobblestone driveway led to the palatial mansion. Once inside the large marbled foyer, David was there waiting.
“Thank you.” was all Bo could manage to say in the surreal setting surrounding him.
A half hour later Bo, showered and donning navy blue khakis and powder blue polo shirt the butler laid out for him, stood stiffly between the opened French doors separating foyer and dining room. He glanced around the rich man’s table where at least forty people of all ages were seated and his first instinct was to bolt from the room feeling totally out of place. David sensed it and was quick to shout from the opposite end of table.
“Come and sit next to me Bo!”
Bo obeyed, expecting to be gawked at as he passed by each guest. Instead he was greeted with genuine smiles, a feast of dignity that the sordid streets of Manhattan gluttonously swallowed from him long ago.
But as soon as Bo sat down, he noticed he had put on his old worn shoes instead of the new ones David bought for him.
David smiled a boyish grin then whispered to Bo, “Don’t worry, the table covers them perfectly!”
David’s remark drew a smile from the stoic Bo, putting him at ease, enough to ask the question that gnawed at him.
“Mr. Marlowe, why did you invite someone like me for dinner? You knew my dad and all but it still doesn’t add up.”
“Son, I’m afraid I didn’t make it totally clear to you in my letter.”
“Made what clear?” thinking to himself, “Oh here comes the punch line to the big joke!”
“It’s not just for dinner son. I’m inviting you to live here with us, to be part of our family if you so choose. Your father once saved my life and I want to do the same for you, and in a way, for him too.”
Bo was lost for words. Moments later a scrumptious appetizer was placed before him. But before he picked up his fork he looked into David’s eyes and simply said, “Thank you.”
Yet much more was said and David understood it all.
Bo proceeded to pick up his fork, ready to spear a large, plump shrimp, but not before kicking off his shoes.
“And why not?” he thought to himself, “I’m home now.”
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