This story is part of a fictional series titled 365 days of fiction. This is day 2.
There was power in the air. You could always feel it as he walked into the room. That all consuming kind of power that made others feel unimportant and even those with the biggest egos fumble around with their words and bodies like tired three year olds.
He had always had this ability, at least for as long as he could remember. When he was 10 he recalled it being so easy to get Billy Johnson to give up his own gifts at his birthday party that he didn’t even get scolded by his father. Instead he got a, ‘you are going to make a mighty fine man one day’ and a pat on the back. He would always remember that pat and those words. It was the nicest thing his father ever said to him.
You see his father was a hard man. Weathered by alcohol and bad luck, although the luck usually followed the alcohol, though he could never see it. To the world his father had been a well respected and powerful man. Everyone in town knew him because he was the local sheriff. He protected the town from bad men, who always seemed to be anyone who wasn’t white and middle class, defended middle America and all it stood for in the small town minds of the blue collar factory workers who had lost their jobs when the factory burned down and the plant relocated to a more prosperous city. In the eyes of the world his father represented all that stood between them and change.
To him his father represented a raging tyrant and beaten mother. He never understood how they hid it from the world. All the drinking, and violence. How he controlled his anger just enough to not hit her anywhere it showed and how she walked out of the darkness of their home and into the false reality of the street painted with a smile and a good word for her husband.
He always had a drink in his hand when he was home, his father did. First thing he would do when he walked through the door was take a gulp straight from the bottle and claim real mean were made of grit and Johnny Walker. As the night would wear on his rants about immigrants and black people became more angry and slurred. ‘They are stealing our country!’ He spit from his leather lazy boy chair while some sports game played in the background. He always made the boys listen to his ranting. Between deep swigs of Johnny he would cry about the evils of the world and the laziness of their generation. ‘You boys are nothing but skum, don’t know anything about a hard days work. All you do is sin and make others clean your mess up.’ The boys were 6, 9, and 11. Being the oldest of the three he always tried to protect his brother from the abuse of their father. He would purposefully make himself into the target by acting up if their father went after his younger brothers. Their mother would stay out of it. Standing in the kitchen pretending to wash dishes as her husband hurled abuse at the children and the TV. Secretly popping pills her doctor had given her for her anxiety, letting the whole world slip away.
It was only when she got so high and she accidentally misspoke that his father would turn on her. Sometimes he would try to stop his father and would get hit himself. Of course the next day his mother would blame the bruise on roughhousing brothers, shrugging her shoulders saying, ‘boys will be boys’ getting an understanding nod from his teacher.
Because of the abuse of his father and the absence of his mother, he learned at a young age about the meaninglessness of life. Life didn’t care about you, god didn’t care about you. No one did. The only person who would ever be there for you was yourself and you should try to get whatever you can from people because if you don’t they will just take everything from you.
That is how the event at Billy Johnson’s took place. Since he had so little regard for anything or anyone, he learned it was very easy to manipulate people with enough confidence and lies. He didn’t even remember how he did it, getting billy to give up his brand new gameboy to him, he just said some words that he knew would get billy to want to give it to him, and then he had it, in his hand, without force or violence. He got what he wanted.
Unlike his father he never had to get physical to get what he wanted, that was base and bellow him. No he had learned the art of manipulation and that was where his power stemmed from. Unfortunately he did inherit his father and his mothers disposition towards substances which grew and changed as he excelled in life and left the small nameless town and consolidated his power and influence in the form of financial gain. First it was the alcohol. Which he swore he didn’t have a problem with because he calculated exactly every day how much he could drink and not get drunk or out of control. Control was the name of his game. He controlled the exact amount he drank to the ounce. He couldn’t see that wasn’t normal. Then, along with his wealth came a cocaine habit. Again calculated and controlled. Only for getting work done and focusing on the power play. But always, always coke to do anything.
He was always calculated, always in control. He just didn’t realize yet that his controlling would be his downfall.