Straight literary fiction.
Had it been fate’s design that he be rich, he would have been born into money. The good reputation his father had worked so hard to create for the family, he spent his lifetime destroying. His son would work another lifetime to rebuild his grandfather’s good name and reputation…but it would not be easy. But would it be worth it? Maybe. Still would have to be seen.
For thirty-eight years, Joe worked at destroying everything good and right in his life. Refusing to make any bonds with his son, he would later miss out on any future with the boy. And his stepdaughter, being similar in attitude, had also gone her own way. By the time he needed those he had pushed away, she would be in ill health herself and unable to come to empathize with him. His wife, having been biding her time, would be ready to leave him. And the boy, by that point having reached his thirty-eighth year, would have already found his source of success and be far enough away that Joe could never call him back home.
In other words, Joe was only a success at destroying his own family. No one wanted to be around him. He had spent too many hours doing an exercise in futility and ignoring what was truly important. He looked to everyone else’s faults and never looked at his own. He fought to change those around him, but refused to change himself.
Summing it up, he struggled to remain the same selfish, self-centered, self-righteous, greedy, merciless self-appointed judge/jury/executioner, cold-hearted, hate-filled, bitter little man he had always been all the while trying to make the word into what he thought it should be. He had, in his mind, become God. He had deified himself and everyone else was supposed to do what he said they should do…whether it was the right thing or not.
And all the while, he shut himself away-hiding from the world-in his little shop where he could fantasize about how perfect he was in his own eyes. He was blind to the reality that was the world and what was and was not true. He lived in a fantasy world where jobs were plentiful and everyone was meant to break their backs at menial jobs that led nowhere. In his mind, everyone was just another worker ant in the overall scheme of life who he expected to do as he told them. But life is never as someone like him ever sees it. It is always so much more.
In the end, he was still just as poor as he had started out. He had not achieved his goals. And he blamed everyone but himself. It was his son’s fault because the boy just seemed to not have everything thought out and ended up, more than once, back in his house. It was his stepdaughter’s fault because she was just there. It was his wife’s because he had, in his demented little mind, blamed her for entrapping him-when she got pregnant with their son (isn’t that just like the typical selfish man?)-into getting married.
But it was really his own fault. He had not focused his attention where the true riches were. He had been so focused on that dollar bill that he had failed to realize that more work did not equal more money, but instead was counterproductive and ultimately destructive. He had basically wasted his own time and his life on something that would have been easier to obtain if he had just listened when opportunity knocked.
In the end, Joe was left with little money, which he frittered away on things he didn’t need trying to keep others from prospering from ‘his’ hard work, and poor health. The latter was due to his lack of concern for his health when he should have been concerned and his not knowing when to stop working. He had wasted all the years he should have used to be a part of the family he had started. In the end, there was nothing left to be owed to Joe. No, rather, it was he who owed others something but it was too late to repay the debt.
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