“How did we lose that leverage dearest? Which way are we going to tip the scales? How are we going to capitalise from the bottom of a pit?
“The pit’s a deep one with the emergency services about to arrive. The lights and the oxygen feed are coming with them. So, I am just sitting here waiting to see what comes along, dreaming dreams of former glories when words like “leverage” actually carried some meaning outside of engineering.
“Once we were capable of lifting the rocks from our heads, the beams from our shoulders. We were making a success and grooving along, cash-heavy with investment offers coming from all over the globe.
“We liked the phrase ‘making a success’ because it gave us the feeling that we were actually creating things, like the old days of industry when you could go home at the end of a project with a ‘something’ in your hand.
“Now it’s simply a case of looking up at all those people we passed on the way ahead. Craning our necks in order to catch a glimpse of achievement, just to remind us. There seems to be no room for motivation. We’ve laid off 200 people in the past three months which, from a staff-base of 200 is bad going.
“Yes, all this winsome bullshit is getting us nowhere but what the hell? What else is next?
“Who are we? That used to be the first question we’d answer. We covered angles like rampant bulls covered cows in season. We could reel off the same spiel and make it sound good, experienced but fresh every single time. It was this skill that convinced us that we were heading into the golden land that sooner or later is ensured of life-long security. The Lear-jets were revving on approach, the expensive German cars gunning just around the corners, so near to the offices. However, what we could do, we did.”
On and on, like this for pages and pages. The self-indulgent prick of a man. I found his notes on a park bench. No I didn’t, they were in the top, left draw of his desk in our sitting room. My father’s. My dear old dad’s. The paterfamilias. Head of the household, strategist of the family’s circled wagons, wastrel, ogre and absentee abuser.
I found them as I fought – or “sticky-beaked” as my mother would say – my way through as many of his personal items as I could lay my hands on.
His paper pornography was the strangest. Mixed messages from 20-year old “Playboy”s via six-month old “Barely Legal” to, I don’t dare guess how old, Polaroid’s of my mother herself, supine on a couch I’d never seen in a room I’d never been.
Shocked, yes. Certainly, just because I’ve killed a few people from time to time doesn’t mean that I am entirely lacking in the taboos of human nature. Denatured I may also be, according to some highly placed medial authorities, but the sight of my mother lying naked on a synthetic rug looking like she was enjoying her pornographic capture was enough to make me take stock for more than a few moments.
Was it Dad on the other end of the lens? Or was this doubly voyeuristic of the old man? If it was him, then was the fact that he had his nearest and dearest, his better half and staff of his rat-racing days spreadeagled in poses that were quite tangibly absurd, a good thing or a bad thing? She didn’t seem to mind. I’d seen her smile falsely (“What a wonderful painting David. An apple? Oh, it’s a house, wonderful!”) And I’d seen her smile for real.
I’d also seen her dead and gone. More quickly than his way out. I’d poisoned him.