Monday, March 7, 2011

Branded - Prologue

As I took one last look out upon the waves crashing against the shore, I thought, “This city has been good to me; and for me.” I lingered behind in the board room after the meeting.

These board meetings were usually fruitless and pointless. Very little got accomplished; constant bickering and nattering; posturing amongst the members; a total waste of time. And yet, after 20 years with this corporation, I will miss them. This was my last one.

I had tendered my resignation months ago. I have been planning for this day; knowing of its arrival; still waiting until the last minute to get my things together. I had toyed with the idea of packing up in the night, only to have everyone arrive the next day to find me gone. But I wanted to say my good-byes.

“Excuse me, Paul, is there anything I can get for you?” inquired Kenan.

“Not right at this moment, thank you. I just want to take in this view one last time.”

“I wish you would reconsider and stay on. This company needs your steady hand.”

“I’m sure this ship will stay afloat without me. Besides, you’ll still be here to keep her from going down. It’s your time to take on the job.”

“I’ll never live up to you.”

“I would hope you wouldn’t try. You need to bring your ideas to the job. You’ll do great. Besides, you had a great teacher!” I quipped.

“Don’t laugh; it’s true. You have taught me a lot. I remember my first few days. They didn’t go so well, did they?” he said with a crooked smile.

Kenan McEvers has been my assistant, and friend, for over fifteen years. We had a rocky start, but quickly grew to respect each other. He came across as very professional during his interview, making him the favorite. He had a lot of promise, although he showed up his first day of work with an attitude that quickly lost him favor. It wasn’t long before he checked the attitude. We fostered a great friendship over the years, but not too close.

He and my secretary, Noa Grayson, made this job enjoyable. We worked as a team; as equals, leaving the superior/subordinate relationship for the public eye. I will hate to leave them behind, but they will do well for themselves. They have both established themselves within the business. Kenan will be moving in to my position, and in time, may garner himself a seat on the board.

I have no idea where I am going, nor what I will do. I have done quite well for myself over the years and have gathered a small fortune, so work is not of immediate importance. I can’t go to my mother’s property in Twinbrook, so it will have to be somewhere else; perhaps a little more tropical.

Stopping to chat with co-workers along the way, I finally made my way back to my office to finish packing up my things. I had already removed most of it. Kenan and Noa came in to see if I needed any help. Although I could handle it myself, I was thankful for the last minute company.

As the last of my things were placed in a box, Noa came over and gave me a hug, tears welling in her eyes.

“I’m going to miss you so much! Why must you go?” she sobbed.

“I have stayed here far too long as it is,” I said as I wiped her tears away with my finger. “You will stay busy, keeping Kenan out of trouble.”

“It just won’t be the same.”

“I know. All things change.”

Noa excused herself to go dry her tears, leaving Kenan to keep me company. As I was chatting with Kenan, I was going through the last of the books remaining in the bookcase, when I heard the office door close behind me. I turned to find Kenan gone and the president standing inside the closed door.

“We both knew this day would come, yet I am still not prepared,” he began.

“That makes two of us.”

“Where will you go? What will you do with yourself?”

“I’m afraid I cannot answer. It would be unwise of me to tell, even if I knew.”

“Yes, but of course.”

“I owe you so much. I cannot thank you enough.”

“I feel blessed to have you as my son,” confided Phillip Westphal.

“I’m proud to call you Dad,” I could feel tears welling up behind my eyes. I fought to hold them back, for fear that I would change my mind and make matters worse for not only myself, by the company as well. I loved my dad too much to let that happen. Perhaps one day I will be able to return here.

“I have always loved your mother. She was the world to me,” He vowed, looking at a picture of my mother on the desk. “Oh, yes; before I forget; I have placed a tidy sum in a bank account in your name. Here are the papers from the bank. It is yours to do with as you will. I hope it will be enough.”

“You needn’t have done this. I have money.”

“It will all be yours one day. The money; the business…”

“Thank you, Dad. I will miss you dearly. I will keep tabs on you, though. Tonight, Paul Westphal will cease to exist. I’d better get going. I would like to be out of the city by nightfall.”

He stepped closer and embraced me, “Take good care of yourself, Paul. I really wish it didn’t have to be this way.”

“I know, Dad! I know!”

With that, I grabbed my jacket, picked up the last carton of my belongings and walked to the door. I dare not look back for fear that I would not leave. I proceeded through the door one last time knowing there was no place for me here anymore. I reached my car in the garage and remembered having given the keys to Kenan. I must start anew. Everything I was must disappear. I will only take things that cannot be tied back to this life.

Having already discontinued my cell phone service, I called a cab from the parking garage guardhouse. Tim Zeigler was on duty and just about to have his lunch, when I interrupted him.

After I had called the cab, Tim offered me a cup of coffee. I grabbed a cup and chatted with him for a bit. I explained that I had sold my car to Kenan when he inquired as to why I was calling a cab when my car was parked in the garage.

“Good-bye, Tim. Enjoy your lunch,” I said as the cab arrived and I stepped out of the structure.

“Good night, Mr. Westphal,” he replied, oblivious to the fact that I would not be returning. I was a bit saddened, realizing that Tim may be the last one to ever call me Mr. Westphal; or Paul.

The cab dropped me off at my apartment. I entered the barren flat, devoid of furnishings, save for a small end table and a folding chair. I took a look at the file I was handed by my dad. I decided I would not bother with this account for now. Any activity could be traced. I will get a safety deposit box at the bank and store some of the documents I dare not take along, to include some photographs of my parents and me.

I took one last look around and realized that I had neglected to procure transportation for myself from here. I will need to acquire something before daybreak. I believe the single gentleman on the third floor has a vehicle up for sale.

Having procured the neighbor’s automobile, packed up everything I had left, which filled all of two cardboard cartons and two suitcases, I headed for a new life…a new beginning.

No comments:

Post a Comment