Resurrection 36Posted: November 20, 2016
This is a chapter of the book I am writing for NaNoWriMo. If you want to read it from the start, click here for the chapter index.
Dick Langford winced a bit as he sat down at his desk.
His back had been bothering him. He figured he probably slept on it “funny” or maybe he twisted it golfing. It wasn’t too bad, it was just taking awhile to heal. After getting into his 70s, Dick would often remember his mother’s words as she aged: “After 50 it’s just patch, patch, patch.”
Many days now Dick thought about dying. He wasn’t maudlin about it, he just began to realize he wasn’t going to live forever. He thought more about the life behind him than in front of him.
He had regrets. He knew he had never been a father or even a husband. He never liked the responsibility of being Barb’s husband and trying to look like a couple for the public. When Bard died at 54, victim of her own drunk driving, he had been relieved.
He also knew Jon would be just fine. He’d lived a life of luxury because of Dick’s smart, hard work and he would never want for money for the rest of his life. Hell, even his kids would be well off. The estate was worth about $100 million now, give or take.
Jon had grown into a man and a decent businessman. Dick could count on Jon to do just about anything needing done. They weren’t close in a father-son way, but he had taught Jon how to grow a business, take advantage of opportunities. This created a bond they both appreciated, even if it were not emotional.
Jon also allowed Dick to distance himself from the seedier parts of business. Sometimes to persuade people you have to use a bit of extortion, a bit of muscle. Dick didn’t mind doing that kind of thing when it was necessary, but the emotional energy required to carry it out now weighed on him. He let Jon take care of creating the compromising pictures of a politician with a prostitute, to send muscle to intimidate someone who was slow-paying a loan.
Jon was much like him, thought Dick and smiled.
He didn’t regret his sex life. He had taken what he “needed” and he was sure he never harmed anyone, not really. At least most of them. He still felt a pang of guilt about Romona.
He actually cared about Romona, those years ago. She loved him the way a faithful dog loves its owner. She admired him, looked up to him. That fed his frail ego. He was her world and he loved the way she gave him her undivided attention.
She should have been smarter, he thought at the time. She should have been on the pill. Heck, she was 15, what did she think would happen? The pregnancy was her fault. Then when she refused to have an abortion, that was it. He was done. He couldn’t have a “second family” and if anyone found out about the scandal it would cost him social standing, not just money, and the social standing was key to his success.
He couldn’t let his enemies get hold of that piece of information.
But now, years later, he had begun to think he owed her more. He owed her child more. He wanted to ease his conscience.
He picked up the phone to make a call.
“Thornton Law Office, how may I assist you today?” it was Jack’s receptionist Mary. She spoke in low tones the way a librarian would talk in a library.
Jack Thornton, Esq. was a prominent personal attorney in Lexington. To the public he was a well respected member of the community, attending charity balls, sitting on the boards of Keeneland Racetrack, St. Joseph Hospital and was on the board of advisors to the University of Kentucky School of Law. His public biography was impressive.
But Jack had a different reputation with his handful of wealthy clients.
Jack had a particular skill. He learned over the years to get things done without him technically breaking any laws, nor allowing any untoward activity to stain his client’s reputations. He had a network of “cat’s paws” he could use to do the illegal or simply immoral work his dozen clients required.
When Governor Ernie Fletcher’s hand picked Secretary of Transportation Mike Wallingford was implicated in a bid-rigging scheme, Jack used his influence to make sure the clearly guilty former Williamsburg mayor was acquitted. Jack wasn’t his trial attorney, he was the heavy hand that moved the invisible political forces to make sure it happened.
“Hello, Mary, get me Jack.” Mary knew instantly who she was talking to, they had only 12 clients and she knew immediately this was Dick Langford.
“One moment Mr. Langford,” she put him on hold and pressed the button to call Jack, “Mr. Thornton, Mr. Langford on the line for you.”
“Thanks, Mary.” replied Jack, and Mary put Dick through.
“What can I do for you Mr. Langford?” asked Jack answering.
“Jack, I need you to come by the farm this afternoon.” It was a command, not a request. Everyone spoke to Dick with respect, he spoke to everyone as an underling. He paid Jack’s tiny firm over $1 million a year. Dick never let him forget it.
“Certainly, Mr. Langford. It’s 11:30am now. What time would you like me to arrive?”
“Let’s make it 1pm.”
“Of course, I’ll be there at 1pm. And what is this pertaining to, so I can bring any necessary documents, or would you prefer not to say over the phone?”
“I want to make a small change to my will.”
“Certainly, Mr. Langford, I will have with me both the will and trust documents.”
Without saying goodbye, Dick hung up the phone.
Jack rang his paralegal, Michele.
“Michele, please get me a copy of Richard Langford’s will and his perpetual trust papers.”
“Yes, Mr. Thornton.” Michele replied.
Jack leaned back in his chair and thought through his next moves carefully. While his clients trusted him implicitly and needed to because of the work he performed for them, Jack worked his own machinations for his own benefit.
Jack’s goal with his clients was to become indispensable. He wanted them to be so dependent on him he could ask for, and receive, any fee he wanted. Over the years his annual retainer had grown to $1 million per client, along with any expenses.
He knew Jon Langford well, and had created that relationship because he knew Dick wouldn’t live forever. He wanted to be just as indispensable to Jon as to his father.
If Dick was going to change his will, that could have serious complications for Jon. Jon was the sole beneficiary of the trust and estate. Dick was temperamental and flew off the handle easily. It’s possible Jon had angered him and he wanted to drop Jon from the will. That would be bad for Jack.
He needed to tread lightly. He didn’t want to act as if he were trying to talk Dick out of changing the will, that would just anger him, but he also wanted to make sure Jon remained the beneficiary.
Jack picked up his cell, dialing Jon.