Thursday, 24 May 2012

Dirty Money - Friday Flash

This one didn't even make it into my new flash anthology "16FF"!

At age thirteen I came into quite a considerable sum of money. Courtesy of my father of course. Not by way of any tasteful convention through a legacy. Since he wasn't dead, far from it. But it was purely and simply because I was his son.

In this religion our family paid chapped lip service to, a boy supposedly became a man when he reached that callow age. For the mere public demonstration of having learned to speak in tongues, or a specific alien variant of it at least, strange people would come up to me, ruffle my hair, pinch my cheek and pronounce me the spit of my father and then press a cream envelope into my hand. Most managed to have my first name inked on them, but not all.

Since I barely knew these people. Friends of my parents, my father, who passed me like ships in the night as I scurried for the haven of my room when they came round for a dinner party, a card evening or a more casual drinks and natter. Any that I coincided no matter how briefly with in space, were usually appeased with an even more fleeting "Good evening" and I was released from further adult interaction. now at thirteen I found myself having to thank them, gurn as they touselled my carefully layered hair, or sucked in the smarting sensation after they pinched my skin that seemed to be on offer.

They were rewarding me not for anything I had done, few of them shared the family religion or appreciated the significance of its rite de passage. They were rewarding me for whose son I was. Their mate's progeny. Their large as life, good egg, top value- both socially and professional, pal. In their bourgeois you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours world, everything came down to an envelope of money. I felt myself being inducted into a different adult wisdom to that the religion had in mind. Genuinely more co-operative species remove parasites from each other. In those hard to get at places. They don't satisfy themselves with raking claws down the other's back. I didn't know how I knew at such a tender age, maybe that's what the religious fathers really meant by solemnising this occasion, but I knew when those friends turned up at our house with their wives, they were being unfaithful to them.

When I was sixteen, I took a decision. I started seeing a psychoanalyst in secret. There were Oedipal conflicts to be resolved that was for sure. I went privately so as not to leave a paper trail and funded it from my nest egg as soon as I could legally access it. Nest egg, yes we'll pass on the obvious symbolism of the maternal egg for now shall we?

More often than not, lying there on a couch in a room heated to hospital ward swelter, I fell asleep for my fifty minutes. Ironic seeing as anxiety dreams peppering my disturbed nights, were the ostensible reason for my attendance there. For his part, when he deigned to offer comment in the skimpy house style, he opined that at least it showed I felt secure enough in his room and in his presence to fall asleep. Yeah, two different meanings of the word security rubbing up against one another there I reckoned. My zoning out, aka emotional security, his financial security. Must have been the easiest cash he ever earned.

Came the point where I had no lucre left to continue the alleged treatment. We talked about and around the issue (issue, that's funny, being another word for bank notes, a connection he failed to make, though of course the issue of a parent...) We agreed that such money had been dirty in my eyes because of its source. In that laconic way of his, I think he was trying to finesse me into opening up negotiations with him about staying on, paying a lower rate (though is that all the value I placed on myself?), which also might entail me earning it and thereby make me engage more with reality. But I refused to take his bait. My first salary just to pay his bills? How self-involved could a man be? Maybe he anticipated me going cap in  hand to my father. We agreed to terminate our sessions, both imagining that it had been of some utility, though I suspect his notion being far more therapeutic than that of my own. For me, it was more transfer than transference.

My secret leaked out eventually. I was ready to walk out of my University course before even completing the first year. I was unenthused by having to interpret the great works of literature through the prisms of Marx and Freud, but that was all the course seemed to offer. As if I wasn't well versed in both of those theories already, having helped empty my life of meaning and value (there is no such thing as surplus value).

As my father berated me for lacking staying power, for ever seeing anything through, for the blow to his prestige, I committed the error of commenting how my further education was likely to bankrupt me. My Shrink no doubt would have said that I had done so deliberately.

"What about your savings? There must be oodles of cash built up in there by now? It's meant for things like this, to set you up in life".

"I laundered it".

"You laundered it? What does that even mean? Laundered it? What, like it was drug cartel money or something?"

"Some sore of cartel yes".

He just looked at me with complete incomprehension. He couldn't recognise me at all. Certainly not as his own son.

Which is where all this started. Money received under false pretences. Mistaken identity. Job done I'd say.

Time to go out into the real world and assert myself.


Unknown said...

This was pretty awesome. The voice seemed to almost change and grow up with the MC, going from a 19th century feel to a more modern 21st century feel. Not sure if you were going for that, but it mirrored nicely!

Jen said...

He surprised me. I thought he was over his head in the family but it looks like he fit right in. Nice.

Rebecca Emin said...

This is superb. The pacing is fantastic and it had me on the edge of my seat - I didn't realise until the end but I was really tensing up as I read it. I bet this character has an interesting life ahead of him.

Icy Sedgwick said...

It'll certainly be interesting to see where he goes from here!

Li said...

Clever twist on the phrase "cleaning up". My parents, being eminently practical, confiscated all gift money and put it in the bank.

Danielle La Paglia said...

So much family dynamic going on here. This is my favorite line: "In this religion our family paid chapped lip service to" Excellent job.

Unknown said...

I really didn't see the ending, clever

Sonia Lal said...

Lovely ending. Fits. Not sure what I was expecting, but not that.

Tim VanSant Writes said...

I also really like the line, "In this religion our family paid chapped lip service to"

Steve Green said...

"Job done." A good way of putting it, a bit like an exorcism really.

Hopefully he can get on with what matters to him personally now.

Adam B said...

Always a clever twist on the everyday. Fantastic.
Adam B @revhappiness

Brinda Banerjee said...

What an eerie boy of thirteen. Very striking voice throughout this piece.
Loved the 'chapped lip service to the religion'.

Deanna Schrayer said...

Superb voice in this Marc! And I love the irony of his situation - wanting so badly to rebel but ending up just like his father, (or at least that's how I read it). In any case, I enjoyed this very much!

Anonymous said...

This was an interesting story to read. I had no idea where it was going to go and was pleasantly surprised at the end. Good twist there and some irony too. Enjoye dit!