Ohio: Chapter Ten

Matt had spent all night crying. Worried about his mother, he couldn’t sleep. And though he wasn’t worried about his sisters, he was heartbroken from his decision. Still, he was not old enough to care for them yet and had done the best he could for them. He had vowed that he would take them and raise them as his own once he was old enough to do so and had his own place.

But, then, it was the same promise he’d made so many times before. He sometimes wished his mother would stop her intentional self-destruction and choose to live for her children. But she had never been generous and kind, at least not after the death of Trent. Yes, he had found out the truth about Trent and how his mother had lied about how it all happened.

Tom said it had a lot to do with how Mama coped. She made up a world where those who died left and those who used her loved her. as long as she could kill her pain with drugs and sex, she didn’t have to face reality. But from what he had learned, Mama had never really lived in reality. She had always lived, except while married to Trent, in a world all her own. It had been a world where the world was a stage and she was the star of the show. She’d had designs on a Hollywood career.

But Hollywood wouldn’t take high school dropouts, so she had gotten her GED. It seemed her original fantasy was shattered. She’d spent her childhood just coasting through school only to quit after she had become pregnant with him. that, too, was a different story than the one she loved to tell.

She loved to tell him that Trent was his daddy. But Trent was not. He had been conceived by rape. A boy named Tobias French had raped Mama. And Grandpa and Grandma  Morrow had not thrown Mama out or turned their backs on her. In fact, they had constantly tried to get her to return home but she had refused.

She didn’t even go back when she had received news of Uncle Nathaniel’s death in Vietnam. Or when Uncle Daniel discovered he had cancer. Uncle Trey was the only uncle he had left. Three brothers. Only one survived.

At seven, he looked at the clock. Time to get up. Time to go make a little money. And music.

He dressed quickly and made his way down to the kitchen. There, he was greeted by Tom’s smiling face. He went over to the coffee pot and poured himself a cup.

Tom’s brows furled and his smile faded, allowing a serious and thoughtful look form like storm clouds on the horizon. “Matthew Morrow, drinking coffee? Highly unlike him. did he get enough sleep? Or was something bothering him last night?”

Matt looked over at his surrogate father. “I didn’t sleep a wink. I feel so guilty about the girls and so angry about my mother. When will she ever learn?”

Tom nodded. “I understand. Don’t beat yourself up over the girls. When you turn eighteen, you will have your own place and will be able to take them in. As for your mother, she is a different story. Your anger toward her and her situation is justified. As for when she will ever learn, I have been waiting for her to do just that for way too long. I don’t think she will ever learn. She doesn’t seem to want to.”

Matt nodded. “I agree. I just wish that I wasn’t the one always having to rescue her.”

Tom smiled knowingly. “I can understand. Remember, before you were old enough to do so, I was the one doing the rescuing. After all, I promised your grandfather that I would.”

Matt looked up at his guardian. “how long have you known Grandpa Michael?”

Tom snorted, amused at being grilled. “Since before your mother was a teenager. Why?”

Matt forced a smile. “What is he like?”

Tom rose. “Son, I think it is time you met him. and your grandmother. Nice people. Loving. Wanted to take care of you and your mom, but she wouldn’t allow it. I suppose that you could say that your Aunt Shasta is the closest in temperament to both and you know her.”

***

Trey sat behind his desk at Morrow Enterprises. He ran the company along with his sister, Shasta, and made up half of the most feared leadership teams in their industry. The company had grown far beyond just the milling and textiles company it had been under their father thanks, in part, to both siblings.

And since the company was a family affair, no outsider was allowed to rise above plant manager or lower board member. The family feel filtered down to the workers, some of the highest paid in the world. It was the hallmark of the Morrow family.

News of Kent State blared from his radio as he worked, and he stopped to listen. Such a tragedy. It would surely stain the reputation of President Nixon. Although Ohio was considered part of the Midwest, news from that far east rarely ever filtered as far as Des Moines. It had to be really bad for it to get into the Des Moines Register or any other local papers…or even on the local radio or television stations.

But the debacle at Kent State served as little more than a simple distraction for most. Only those in the area who had children going to college there had any real reason to worry. But no Morrow had ever gone to Kent State. Nor had they gone to any other university other than Iowa State. Forget Ivy League. Those schools were for the idiots seeking political prestige. Local, state, or most respected was enough for the Morrows. Besides, Iowa State allowed the youths to continue working in the company as they learned. It allowed for them to climb from bottom, the mail room, to the top with ease. And the company offered a free ticket to education to the children of their employees as well, paying the tuition without any expectation of a return. A mere graduation was payment enough for an investment well placed.

Oddly enough, the graduation rate among employee children was remarkably high—99%. And most went on to serve as members of the company’s board. Those that did not often went into business for themselves and put into practice the principles that they had learned from the Morrows. As a result, few failed at business and many helped the economy of the city. This boost to the economy helped the city grow and become a bustling center, lost among cornfields that stretched for miles in both directions.  The new growth also helped fade the memory of the damage that had been done by the French Industries scandal.

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