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Christmas Contemporary Fiction

There But for Fortune

“Can I have your attention please.”

His words barely audible over the clinking of glasses and the slurping, which although considered by many to be beyond the breach of social etiquette, was, and had been a tradition in the Biltmore family for more than two hundred years.  As far as Sam Biltmore was concerned, “Etiquette be Damned!”

He had not planned on informing the family until after this festive holiday season, but Aunt Mary was feeling poorly, not expected to be around for his next holiday extravaganza, hosted annually by Samuel Adam Biltmore. And Uncle George, an uncle by marriage, he’d lost his memory during a spelling bee in sixth grade, or so it was claimed.  It was a sad reminder to the entire Biltmore clan that education can be dangerous when placed in the minds of, “Those people.” He was expected to lead the way for Aunt Mary’s retreat into the vast exploitable fields of the hereafter, indulgences, and that sort of thing. But only time or providence, can sort out a departure schedule.

Samuel Adam, after clearing his throat, a habit born of authority that he never failed to implement when audacity was needed, began the ritual as he always did. He tapped on his custom crafted wine goblet that resembled… Marilyn Monroe’s profile. His sterling silver martini swizzle stick drumming the distinctive cadence of Yankee Doodle Dandy. Some of the family members followed along, drumming their unique variations onto the linen covered table with their hands, others clapped in time, most, did nothing.

The crowd expectably became animatedly stunned as a person resembling the late James Cagney, of gangster movie fame, jumped from the proverbial Christmas Fruit cake, and began a tap dance of sorts on the table before them. Samuel Adam, after clearing his throat a second and then third time, began his seasonal greeting.

“First of all, welcome and Happy Holidays. 

You are all aware I am sure, of recent economic set backs to the country, and the turmoil amongst and against our governmental partners.  Because of the present economic forecast attributed to some overtly hyperbolic disease, we, I, have decided there is no profitable advantage in continuing our service-oriented business.  I might add, it is our eighty-second year of unprecedented success. It, however, is no longer a deployable option. “Deceptions Are Us,” has had a long, distinguished, and mostly invisible past, which of course, is the reason for our many successes.

We have, I am embarrassed to say, because of the rampant impregnable folly in the country, that the encouragement we provided and had been found to be effective for decades, no longer has the ability to change the minds of our fellow citizens by appealing to their better angels, interests, or common sense.  Apparently, they no longer possess any of the aforementioned attributes.

Millions of our citizens have lost hope.  Half the country believes this Chinese Hoax is a plot to drive those not financially advantaged to the breaking point, keeping their children out of school by employing the excuse of a contrived disease, leaving the rambunctious lot under the purview and direction of their parents. We all understand people are easier to influence when stressed, so it would appear it would be a time to seek out our particular talents. But alas, contrary to logic, it has proven, not so.

As Grandpa Biltmore was fond of saying, if you’ve got a bridge, I can find you a river. I never was sure what he meant exactly, but it seemed to work at one time, as we never had so many clients as we did back then. Ah, the eighties. They “wanted us to teach them how to swim!” Grandpa was fond of saying. 

I believe it was some code that Grandpa failed to pass down to us before his untimely demise. Contracting hypothermia in July I will remind you, is no small feat, and we should strive to remember that. It makes one, should he be susceptible enough to reconsider this non-sense about climate change, and its implications on the economy, and accept some of the implications, think about the potential prayer provides.

Grandpa Jonas, at the time of his death, had been attempting to reinterpret past land treaties issued in haste, without sufficient governmental interference. They resulted, as we all know, in the regulations that up until lately have hampered development of the commonwealth lands claimed to have spiritual significance. He, need I say, was a head of his time. His wandering the badlands of the Dakotas in nothing more than a loin cloth and a vision, proved fatal, but most inspirational to a burgeoning cause.

I won’t go into the devastating effect public land designation has had on the exploitation of natural resources, for the betterment of mankind, it is claimed. Let’s raise our glasses to Teddy Roosevelt, and his damned altruistic soul. Rough Rider, my…

I should explain, the reasons for dismantling the family business have nothing to do with proposed future ventures, and their subsequent financial benefits. After careful consideration, based upon recent social trends, it was determined that our business model should be abandoned, at least temporarily. The people’s need, to dominate their environment and utilize our God given right to use earth’s resources for the betterment of those He intended, has been co-opted.  A new mythology has become so vilely promoted, it has the potential to severely damage our most entrusted institution, the stock market. The ideals that once show cased our policies on the National Debt, have finally become redundant. Pretending is no longer a necessary component of our new faith, I’m happy to say. We have been untrussed to follow our inherited predacious principles.                 

This new phenomenon you would assume would be to our benefit. But when a population with the attention span of a two-year-old, and prone to believing everything they are told, convincing them to change their ill-founded beliefs, has become a monumental impossibility. This new breed of devote’, will only believe the opposite of what they are told. The idea of truth having any relevance to fact, has long since sailed, and as we all know, when truth is exploited, all manner of success can be afforded those of political and economic persuasion, so, possibility remains.   

It seems like there is no better time to spoon feed the populace an idealism they can’t get enough of, or convince someone interested in buying a political party, that there is something regal and patriotic about the endeavor. But we have become a country of societal empathists. The days of pulling at the heart strings of democracy to gain advantage, I’m afraid, has been challenged. 

However, we can be proud of having been able to sell ice to Alaskans, although, those days have atrophied. It is easier today to sell beach front property to climate deniers, than to place Tundra People and ice, in the same sentence. That reminds me… 

“Yes, Aunt Mary? No need to raise your hand dear. What is it?

“What were you saying about me not being here for next year’s Holiday Season. And am I going somewhere I should know about?”

“Oh, I apologize. I didn’t realize I’d been speaking out loud. I must have been thinking about you moving on to a warmer, more hospitable place, is all. Will someone please pour Aunty more wine…thank you.

I would also like to take this opportunity to inform you that you will not be asked to vote on the dissolvement of the partnerships. I have taken care of all the mundane legal business.  Being the chairperson and financial advisor of our family affairs, I felt it my duty, and...

There will be no need to worry your pretty sugar plumbed heads about such matters.

I know your lives are presently absorbed with entertaining.

Under the spirits of the season, no doubt. 

My new wife Joleen and I will be going to Venezuela to look into the possibility of starting a satellite branch of a new family business, as there appears to be more opportunity in areas where dictatorial persuasions reside, as legal requirements are more easily procured. I will of course, offer you the first opportunity to get in on the ground floor.

This new form of socialism that has infected our society, has limited the exploitation, or I should say the educational potential, of a populace who believe that success comes only to those that, want to believe. Opportunity has been stolen from them by those who believe in little more than diversity, and something they are calling, “a sense of justice.”

However, the failure of the socialist experiment in Venezuela, should be a lesson to us all. Distribution of wealth, should be left to those who realize and appreciate its value. When you have abandoned the principle of believing that everything must have a price, or it is worth nothing, you are doomed to a fate consisting only of, equality and diversity.  And as we all know, there is no profit in that. 

I therefore would like to propose a toast to Uncle George, for teaching us a valuable lesson, through no fault of his own. “Only those that can afford knowledge, should partake of its rewards.” Thank you for that, Uncle George.  The idea that educating the masses will float all ships, should be a stark reminder to our next Secretary of Education, that when resources are limited, don’t waste them on the limited. 

I hope you enjoy yourselves this evening. I will be... untouchable, unreachable in the near future. If any of you would like to invest in a new opportunity in a foreign land, ripe with exploitable potential, please let me know. I would gladly offer investment opportunity in our new, Possibilities of Probabilities: for a percentage of course. Remember what grandpa used to say, “Get yours before it is all gone.” I believe that was his way of reminding us that resources are finite, and we only live once. 

So raise your glasses. Here’s to us and the chance to begin again, where no one knows who we are, and therefore can’t hold that against us. Cheers! Bon voyage! I’ve had a special soup prepared for you, so please enjoy. And don’t forget to slurp. It is the least you can do to preserve our family tradition. Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!   

November 25, 2020 16:43

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1 comment

Mou Sukoshi
06:59 Dec 03, 2020

Loved it.. Very unique thought.. Great presentation.. Subtle dark humour Certain parts were a little difficult to follow.. Lack of the cultural context.. Being from a different country, not Venezuala though. :D Great work!!


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