They won’t even notice I am gone. Bianca slipped away an hour ago. Derek, red-faced with too much wine, pontificates. His mother eats it up. When I can take no more of their gluttony, I leave.
I walk through a marble expanse, past a massive staircase lit by an even more impressive chandelier. I pass the parlor where we spent 45 excruciating minutes getting that perfect shot for the photo card.
I walk down a small, narrow hall. A passage almost never used by my family, although the servants are familiar with it. It runs from the kitchens to the main living areas of the home. At the end, I find the door I am looking for. I pull a key from the chain around my neck.
The oak door swings open with a creak. I make a note to myself to find some WD40 for the hinges. My hands find the damp stone surface of the wall within the door. I won’t be able to get the lights working until I descend into the granite cellar.
This is the oldest part of the house, built up from the remains of a stone cattle dug right into the side of a hill. A small foothill near the Cascades, if you’d like. In the 20’s my great-grandfather built his timber transport money mansion right over the remains of his grandfather’s barn. I run my fingers along the cool stone and imagine I can hear lowing and braying and smell the sweet stink of a barn in cold November. I reach the bottom on the stairs and power the generator on.
Screens come to life. On a few moments, I’ll pull up an satellite and real time views of my entire empire. I light a pipe. I should have done better, done more. I could have made such a difference in the world. I meant well. What went wrong? Where did I go so wrong with my children?
I remember my father. This was his sanctuary as well, but in his day, the walls were lined with maps and pushpins. He had dreams, dreams of the good a fortune could do in the world, or at least, one nation.
I call up footage from one of our drones. The beauty of our land will never get old. The mountains, the wildlife, patchwork quilts of farms. On another screen jagged lines appear, representing company stocks. News reports start blaring from blaring from two flat screen TV’s. I turn the volume all the way down, but the images burn themselves into my mind. Riots in Portland. Police brutality in Baton Rouge. The Pipeline protest. A march in DC.
And that’s just this nation. I close my eyes to the images of drone attacks, and Syrian refugees. My heart cannot take in anymore talk of terrorists and war. What have we come to?
I open my email server and begin the first phase of my plan. I cannot save the world, but I may be able to redeem the lives of my children. The first missive goes to Delores.