Thursday, 2 August 2012

Short Story Challenge 4 - A Family Business

     When one is kneading dough, it is imperative to have clean hands. You can’t leave any traces or else people will come knocking at your door. I found this out the hard way, back then before we had made a genuine go of this family business.

     Of course I was young and foolish in those early years – thinking I was untouchable because I had gotten away with a few scores here and there – not knowing that always, somewhere out there, there would be somebody picking up on the details – all the little bits of evidence here and there – joining the dots.
     It was a few months after the Regency job that a young rookie came snooping around asking questions. He didn't know how lucky he had gotten, but I did. There was a short chase - I knew the streets better than him so it was easier to get some distance between us – it ended unexpectedly with a drunk driver smearing him across the road. I took it as a sign, a second chance granted to me – a higher power indicating that I should do this thing properly. No more mistakes.

     I skipped town and moved further north. My grandfather still had an old bakery up there that had been shut since he died, so I took the lease out under a different name and started it up again. A new lick of paint, a new sign above the door – a perfect front for my operations. I remember my grandfather showing me how to make bread back when I was a boy. I can’t help but think he was preparing me for later in life - giving me the golden rules for running my business. When one is kneading dough, it is imperative to have clean hands… I know that now.
     I have made sure that all my operations are squeaky clean, untraceable suppliers, dummy accounts, money trails hidden deep in the tangled undergrowth of red tape and bureaucracy. It helps to have a good accountant too. It’s hard to trust many people these days, but ever since I made him watch whilst I smashed all the bones in his predecessor’s hands with a rolling pin, I knew he would think twice before betraying me.

     What else did my grandfather used to always say? Ah yes – always leave a clean work surface at the end of the day – this will prevent the infestation of insects and rodents. I’ve known a fair share of rats in my time, sniffing out my business, trying to find an in – a way to extort or blackmail. I used those closest and most loyal to me to seek them out and to make them disappear. Of course as the years went on I would get less involved – my lieutenants often taking it upon themselves to come up with discrete and yet somewhat creative ways to vanish a body. I was left to gradually fade into the background – my real self remaining hidden working behind the scenes whilst my public image grew along with the expanding fortunes of the front business. Last I heard, we now own a few bakeries across the city and in some supermarkets you can even buy loaves with my name printed on the side of the packaging! It makes me laugh sometimes.
     And now, my son, I am handing this all over to you. As the sole heir to my business, all this is yours soon. You may find it a cruel and remorseless existence - and for that I am sorry, but when it comes to legacy you don't really have a choice. We have come so far in such a short time – that's why it is so important to keep this a family run business. Others can take care of the mess for you but you are the one that they must ultimately answer to. 
     Remember this and you’ll go far: it is imperative to have clean hands.

2nd August 2012


1 comment:

  1. A decent short story with the dual stories running through it. I thought you might have signed it the narrator's name at the bottom.

    Keep it going. Perhaps you should enter a writing contest.