Thursday, October 13, 2011

chapter Thirty-Eight

“Welcome aboard, Jake.”
“This is hello and good-bye, Jake.” Feedback squealed a little as the unseen menace re-keyed the mic.
“Good bye because I am leaving, and good bye because you are not going to be around much longer.”  His voice was melodic and deep.
“Jake, I have hated you ever since we were little.  And the damn thing is, Jake, you never even knew I existed!  I despised you for that.”
What the …?
“You don't even know, do you?  My God, you're clueless!  Dorothy was my grandmother, Jake.”
Oh my G…
“Your family called her ‘Black Dorothy,’ Jake.  She was your 'house nigger,’ Jake, and I hated you and yours for that.”  Walters voice caught for a second.  “And what made it worse, Jake, was she loved you and your family so damn much!”
I had no …
“She’d come home and brag on you.  She had pictures of you on our shitty mantel.  She’d tell every one how good-looking your were, how smart you were, how you were going to grow up like your Sainted Daddy and break all those white girls hearts!”  His voice dripped with anger.
“Ya’ll gave us the droppings off your table and expected us to bow and scrape. ‘Thank you, Suh, Yes’m, No Ma'm, Right away, Suh!” Walters mocked in his false accent.
I felt sick … 
Everything he said was true. 
If I'd been in his position as a kid, I'd have hated me, too.
“All that time my grandmother doted on you I was fighting my way up through the projects.  We lived with her ‘cause my Daddy never showed and Momma fled to Detroit with some corn liquor preacher.”  He panted between sentences, his amplified voice a gale.
“Every year a new picture of you appeared on the mantel. Every year we struggled to live on your scraps and what little you paid her!”
I remembered a little boy’s face peeking out of the bedroom in Dorothy’s small apartment.
“I decided I was going to beat you, Jake.  I was going to beat all of you, and I was going to beat you all at your own game!” he punched the last four words.
His face looked back at mine when we went over at Christmas to take her annual present of a housecoat and a subscription to Southern Living.
“I worked my way through college by being a janitor.  Bet you never been no janitor, Jake!  I didn't get a high-dollar offer to work at an investment banking firm;  they didn't hire darkies back then, Jake.  So I went into government and started off as a federal employee, Jake!”  His voice scalded the mic.
I was six and remember handing Dorothy the nicely wrapped present like it was a treasure.  I know now it was a slap.
“But I never forgot, Jake.  You did!”  He screamed. "You didn't even know when she died, you son of a bitch!  And she died with a picture of you on her mantel!”
I could hear him breathing heavily; he had left the mic open.  We each sat in our space, each lost in our painful memories.
Finally he spoke again.  “After 9/11 government grew like wildfire.  Twenty years of slogging my way through bureaucracy and the color of my skin ultimately became assets and I finally gained a position of respect, Jake – a position that gave me power.”
I knew what was coming.
“I kept tabs on you all those years, Jake.  I saw your country club wedding photos, your mentions in the Post Social section.  Your family shopped at Nordstrom, mine at Burlington warehouse.”  He paused.  “Then …”
“Then your professional life and mine crossed.  Fate finally favored me.”
I felt even more sick.
“You decided to sell your business just as we had begun to monitor those sales in case a big, bad terrorist decided he needed a white boys’ advisory business to launder money through.”
Dolores had warned me
“I suspect you know the rest by now, Jake.  I set up a straw-man to buy your business.  I got to ruin you and I had a wonderful tool to do just what our incredibly inept government feared – launder money.”  His laughter was poison.
“Every time we made a raid on a drug lord or a terror-funding organization, some of the funds miraculously found their way through your firm.  If anyone ever got wind of it I’d have just thrown you under the bus – after all, you were the one ‘hauled off in cuffs’ for regulatory abuse!”
I was not feeling as bad for him now …
“The only wrinkle in my plans was the straw-man. Your ex-wife’s new beau, got greedy, Jake.  I don’t like greed, Jake…” an ironic chuckle roiled the speaker. “Actually, I don’t like anyone else’s greed Jake.  I am rather a big fan of my own.” 
It sounded like he took a drink of water or something. When he finished he resumed.  “So that leaves us where, Jake?  Let’s see – straw-man is dead, your ex-wife is dead and you’ll soon join them after my contractors end you.  When you wash up on some shore I think the headlines will paint you as narco-mule or maybe a homegrown extremist.”  He took another sip.
“Oh, did I leave out your daughter and girlfriend?  Rogers will have eliminated them. He may have already for all I know.”  His laughter muffled as he drank what sounded like the last of the glass.
“I’d like to stay and chat longer, Jake.  Really, I would.”  I could hear him smirk.
“But I'm selling my business today – and unlike you I get to keep the payday, Jake.  I have washed this money whiter than your lily-ass, Jake – and to think you gave me the idea!”  He snorted.
Okay, I still hate this son of a bitch.
“The high and mighty Advisor and his boring as shit insurance.  Who would ever look at something as mundane as a captive off-shore reinsurance company Jake?”    
What the? …
“I won, you lost.”
The mic clicked off.

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