Today is day 2 of the Story A Day Month. I hope you enjoy the short story:
My Father’s Brother by Sojourner McConnell
Roger Banks was an irresponsible man. He had been raised simply and it was only after his father’s death did he find out that there was a very large trust fund.
The caveat was that the money did not come to him unless he could find the funds to finance a half way home for recently paroled men.
Roger felt pretty annoyed to find out that he wasn’t going to just inherit his father’s estate. He had to gain public funds and acquire personal loans in order to get this halfway home built.
Problem one Roger thought, as he drove home from the attorney’s office, No credit.
Problem two he thought, no resources or contacts to help with problem one.
His father had always given him an allowance even after finishing college with an Art History degree. He knew beauty when he saw it. He had always chosen the prettiest women to have at his side. Always chose the most elite paintings for his home.
Was his father really so hell bent on making him a do-gooder? The sick feeling he had in his stomach was only increasing with the limitations on his father’s declaration.
Pulling the car over to the curb he eased his sports car in to the first slot he came upon.
“The least Dad could have done was warn me.” Roger shouted out in his car, he had the privacy of his rolled up windows. His own voice sounded strange to him. Slamming his fists on the steering wheel he immediately looked around to see if he had been seen. He was very sensitive to his reputation. He felt stressed and tense. Roger did not usually feel stressed and tense. He had a very leisurely life, and he planned on retaining that lifestyle.
“What to do, what to do.” Roger mumbled now as he pulled back into the flow of traffic after his little explosion. He thought it out and he made a decision. He would go to the bank, the bank his father always used. He would explain his plight and plead for assistance in garnering a loan.
Roger pulled into the back parking deck and when he entered the bank he asked for Mr. Elijah Conrad. The receptionist showed him to the lobby and told him to wait. After about fifteen minutes that had only served to annoy Roger even more, Mr. Conrad walked out. Mr. Conrad was a short pale balding man. The only thing of color on him was the red patch on the top of his head where it looked like he had gotten sunburned recently. It almost made Roger laugh, but he controlled himself. He had to remain controlled if he wanted to get the funds needed.
Roger smiled his most friendly smile as he stood to meet the little man.
“Hello Mr. Conrad, thank you for meeting with me. I believe you were my father’s personal banker?”
“Good to see you my boy,” Mr. Conrad said as he shook Rogers outstretched hand. “I was sorry to hear about your father. He was a good man. We shared a lot of afternoons together going over his finances. Let’s talk in my office.”
Once they were in the executive office with its leather furniture and large oak desk, Roger sat across from the older man. Took a breath and began to speak. His voice shaky, hesitant.
“I am in need of some advice, and finances. I am here because you knew my father. To be up front and frank with you, Mr. Conrad, I need finances in order to complete his wishes in his will. He wanted me to continue his good work, and I feel compelled to do my best to accomplish his last desire.”
Roger had a sincere look on his face and Mr. Conrad continued to listen to him. Interest had crept in as to what Roger might be proposing. Elijah Conrad nodded and held out his hand indicating that he should continue. After a moment Roger began again.
My father had a secret life, a part of his life that he never told anyone about. He had been born a twin. His twin was not a hard worker like Dad was. Dad and Uncle Carl were as different as day and night. Carl kept getting in trouble as a teenager and young man. By the time he was twenty five he had been to prison for grand larceny. He was given twenty years. When he got out, he was expected to be reformed and be willing to stay out of trouble.”
Elijah looked at Roger with understanding. He wanted to know the whole story and how it involved him at all. Of that he wasn’t clear at all. “Go ahead, Roger.”
“There was a problem in this. There was nowhere for him to go. My mother did not want him to come live with us. She didn’t trust him. It was sad, but she believed he would rob us blind. He ended up homeless and on the streets, supplementing his income with petty thefts.”
Roger shook his head and kept his hands clutched in his hands to keep them from trembling. He wasn’t even sure how much he should tell. He gulped then continued speaking.
“As you might have suspected, he was arrested again. Once again there he was spending more time in the local jail until his court date. Months went by and he was calling collect to the house. Occasionally getting through to my dad, most of the time being thwarted by my mother. My Mother never wanted him to be in her world.”
Roger took a deep breath. “Why I am here meeting with you, is to ask for funds to open this halfway house. Fully funded and supported by a foundation I am to set up anonymously. This was the test my Father has put in place with his will. It states that I do not inherit enough to live on much less support this foundation unless I can find the funds to complete this project.”
“I have come to you, with no credit of my own, to ask you to fund this project with the understanding that once the home is built and opened, I will have all the funds needed to pay the loan and support the foundation. If I am able to secure this loan from you, then many men will be helped. Taught to read, taught to make their resume, balance a checkbook. They will in essence be given an opportunity to thrive after prison.”
Elijah Conrad looked at Roger with a look of compassion on his face. Nodding along as he kept his hands flat on his desk, trying not to show too much emotion as he listened.
“The project must be done anonymously. I am not even sure if they will appreciate me confiding in you, but I am asking you to respect my confidence. But I need this loan desperately. My uncle needs it. He is to be released in one year and that is my deadline on finishing the house.”
Elijah stood up and leaned across the desk, clasping Roger’s hand. ” I will see what I can do. Give me a week. One week to talk to the lending board. I will contact you then letting you know their decision.”
Roger heard the phone ring. He had been at loose ends for the last three days. He had no plans in the works unless he heard back from Mr. Conrad soon.
“Hello Roger, This is Elijah Conrad. I hope you realize how much talking I had to do to get your loan approved. I did not tell your story. I assured the board that they would be paid back. I guaranteed that fact to the board.”
Roger took a nervous breath that Elijah was able to hear it through the phone.
“We did it, Roger! The loan is approved and the project can start immediately. I have promised you to help you and I hope you realize that means I will never tell your story to anyone, ever!”
Eleven months later Elijah received a plain white envelope at his office. There was no return address and he almost tossed it into the trash.
Elijah shrugged and opened the heavy envelope and smiled happily to find an embossed invitation to the ribbon cutting for:
A Home of New Beginnings
Founded by the Father’s Brother Foundation
Elijah knew he would go to the ribbon cutting. He also knew he would never mention any of Roger’s secrets for as long as he lived, and he never betrayed that trust.