Toby sat in a jail cell at the police station. Again, he’d been caught breaking the law. Again, he was sitting without any hope of his father coming to his aid. Still, he wanted to blame everyone else for his problems.
His father was to blame for not teaching him right from wrong. Or maybe it was his mother. Or, perhaps, it was because the laws were so unfair. He could find many excuses for the trouble he was getting into. He just didn’t want to face that he was the only one who made his decisions.
Granted, his father had allowed him to run without any limitations. Toffer had paid all his infractions away and hidden them from public view. He had even made sure that those Toby had hurt–vanished. But none of that mattered now.
His old man no longer rode to his rescue. There was no longer any bail. No paid legal fees. Not even the tension he’d grown accustomed to.
Now, a man named Mikey came to bail him out. He didn’t like Mikey. He couldn’t push him around. And Mikey tended to punch him any time he mouthed off.
The jailer appeared. “OK, French. Time for you to go. Yer ride is here.” The man unlocked the cage and rolled back the door.”C’mon. Move it.”
Mikey appeared behind the jailer. “Yeh, c’mon, Toby. Yer daddy expects you home. My employer is getting tired of bailing your ass out of the clink. Yer lucky he doesn’t just put an end to yer stupidity. But…he seems t’ think there’s a chance of saving yer worthless ass.” Mikey shrugged. “So I have to bring you back to yer daddy. Not that daddy has any say. Understand?”
Mikey grabbed his ear and pulled him from the cell. The pain was excruciating. Unbearable. It made him want to scream.
He handled it the only way he knew how. Sarcasm. “Think you could pull a little harder? I really don’t need the hearing in that ear.”
He heard Mikey grumble. The big Italian refrained from hitting him, though it was hard for him. But Toby knew he would beat him once they were away from the station. It was only natural for the big man to show his disapproval. Violently.
God, he dreaded the ride home. Why didn’t Mikey just kill him and get it over with? He preferred the beatings his father gave him to what Mikey put him through. But pops no longer gave him beatings. Pops no longer had time to do much of anything.
Toffer was a broken man. He was nothing more than a figurehead at a company that had been in his family for a little more than 90 years. He had seen his income drop from a 90% cut of profits to almost nothing. Now, he barely received enough to secure food for a week and keep the home fires burning. He wasn’t used to that.
Even worse was the beatings he was forced to endure if he tried to overstep his authority. Broken bones and bruises were not uncommon. His ego, once rock-solid, was now nonexistent. He was a shell.
His health was beginning to take a turn for the worse, pushed even further by Toby’s criminal activities. He didn’t know just how much longer he could stand up under these conditions. He had been losing massive amounts of weight since the takeover. He suffered chest pains, the like he’d never encountered before. His breathing had become ragged.
There were times he believed it would be more profitable to turn himself in. At least he wouldn’t have to go through the rigors his current prison keepers put him through. Even prison seemed to be more inviting than his current state. But he endured it for Toby.
He had to keep Toby alive. He had to find a way to get through to the boy. He had to get him to turn away from the life he’d been allowed to live until now. But nothing seemed to be working.
Toby seemed hopelessly lost. The boy seemed bent on destroying himself. He seemed bent on destroying what was left of the family honor, not that there had been much to begin with. Still, someone had to try. Someone had to get through to Toby.
He rose from his desk and went to the window of his office. Looking out, he marveled at how tempting it was to simply to open the window and jump. So tempting. So wonderful. At least then, he would be at peace.
A tear came to his eye. For the first time in his life, he finally knew what all those he’d destroyed felt like. For the first time, he was the one who’d been ruined and he didn’t like how it felt. For the first time, he wished he’d never done all those things.
But it was already too late to take them all back. Too late to make things right. He had burned too many bridges. Misused too much power. Wasted too much time.
Now, he was alone. His wife had walked out and left him to face his enemies alone. He couldn’t blame her, even though he wished he could. But his selfishness had not included trying to please her. He hadn’t even cared about her. He had married her to keep her from telling the truth. He had kept her so he could control her.
And Toby had been the product of the rape he’d committed against her. He now felt ashamed of himself. For the first time, he realized that he had caused much more pain than he should have. Even through allowing his son to continue in the same activities he’d done as a youth had caused pain. How many tortured souls had he been the cause of? Hundreds? Millions? Billions? What was the number?
The guilt was almost too much to bear. He had brought shame to the state of Iowa and to the city of Des Moines. And for What? What did he truly expect to gain? Power? Fame? Fortune? What?