A Family’s Legacy (1 of 2)


“It’s a fucking embarrassment, is what it is. I mean, if I’d known this was how he would turn out, I would have made that bitch give me two, before booting her sorry ass out of my house.” James Willheim the Second, chuckled over his lunch, before wiping his mouth with his napkin, taking another bite, and continuing. “Still, you should fucking see him. I tried to tell myself that it was just a phase, that it was good to have a son interested in athletics, but I barely fucking got him into college as a legacy, his grades were so poor! Really, I’m just embarrassed that he even has my name, we’re so different.”

“Well, you could always get a new wife, couldn’t you? Try again?”

“In my fifties? I suppose so. Hell, maybe two girlfriends, and I’ll marry whichever gives me a better boy than this one!”

The men around the table chuckled, and chatter turned to other subjects–their businesses, their plans for the coming summer on Martha’s Vineyard. But James’s thoughts still turned to his son, James Willheim the Third, and to what a disgrace he was turning out to be. The Willheim line was supposed to be ascendant–his son was supposed to be the pinnacle, the one who pushed them into real wealth and power. Instead, he’d gotten a dud. All his son seemed interested in doing was lifting weights, playing sports, and running off at nights to do who knew what around town–drinking and carousing most likely. Still, he’d never once brought a woman home–something which also…unsettled him. It wasn’t that he couldn’t tolerate a certain level of…rebelliousness. It was that somethings had to be more important than one’s own selfish desires. Your family’s legacy, for instance.

The men finished their business lunch, paid the bill, and left. James ended up at the back of a group, and as he walked down the city sidewalk, a hand reached out, grabbed his cuff, and stopped him. It was attached to an old man, bent over on the sidewalk–a beggar, most likely. He raised his eyes–they were a pure, milky white.

“You shall have the son you desire, in time. But that which is given, cannot be kept. That which is removed, must be received.”

James gave a tug, but the man’s frail arm was surprisingly strong. After a harder yank, he managed to lurch away, and carried on with his day–but the encounter…haunted him. He returned home, and discovered his son was asleep in his bed–James too, felt an oddly crushing fatigue weighing on him. He made his way to bed early as well, and slept, the man’s words repeating their way through both their dreams.

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