The Cost of Money:
By: Hugo Reed
Chapter 1: Action
James Kingston junior leaned back against the leather seat of his father's luxury car, letting the wind from the open window cool and relax him. He yawned, stretching as the countryside zoomed past them at speeds well over what the highway legally allowed.
His designer suit and shirt were lax on his thin frame, and the glasses on his face were placed there for decoration more than out of any actual need. Young as he still was, James was an only child, and was had become well-versed in all aspects of what his father did for Wilson Inc. After all, he'd met Mr. Wilson on several occasions and was expected to take over his father's position he eventually retired.
And because it was expected of him, it was what he would do. James had hardily ever had to make a choice for himself. Everything from his breakfast to his future was decided from the moment he was born. As such, any decision he did get to make in his life became precious to him. It gave him a small piece of power… a power he'd craved and so rarely known.
"Now then," said his father, snapping James out of his musings. "Given the state of the Zimmer account, how would you handle their slow season if they're losing too many profits?"
James smiled and gave his response in a slow, deliberate tone.
"Simple, keep one or two of their seasoned managers per store, and cut the part-timers back by a day. Profits increase and the lower rung knows they'll have to earn their keep. They'll complain for a month or two. Then, when business catches up a little, increase their hours just in time for the holiday rush, maybe even hire a few new ones."
"Not bad," said his father, nodding. "Though I'd increase the number of mangers you keep at the stores. If you kill too many of the old ones, they begin to resent the business as a whole. If there's any hate, let it fall onto the store owner, not your client."
James loved both his mother and father dearly, but open affection wasn't his strong suit, nor had it been his father's. The two men of the Kingston household simply held an unspoken connection of father and son. If words were spoken, it was a relationship of teacher and student.
That suited James just fine. After all, he was usually seen as cold by his peers because he just didn't do warm and fuzzy. Maybe that was the reason he'd never had a girlfriend. Honestly, there hadn't ever been much appeal in the thought.
Why would he want a woman hanging around just so he'd have to spend much of his precious time and money on her? It seemed like a waste to him, and he'd never really hungered for one to call his own. Sure, if there was a woman who would be able to advance him in the world in some way he would have considered it; but as it was, no such woman existed.
James was far more concerned moving forward, and he'd been working at it for years already. All throughout Chicago, he had stock in different firms and businesses. That was because of his father. After Kingston sr. gave him a bit of knowledge about the business world, he'd allowed James one hundred thousand dollars to invest as he liked. To the immense pleasure of both father and son, almost all of his endeavors were successes.
James' name was frequently used in the business world as the next up-and-comer, and he enjoyed the attention it got him. He was considered one of the elite from his birth, and his mere presence sent whispers through the crowd of onlookers. Many celebrities weren't so well-known or respected as he was, and James loved every moment of it.
It made him all the hungrier for his own start in the world, and to his pleasure it was to start next Friday. Of course, he wouldn't be starting right off at his father's level, but he would be managing several high-level accounts directly, including the Zimmer account his father had just quizzed him on. James already had received a bachelor's in business when he was only twenty years old, and he'd been training with his father for the past year on the specifics.
To be brought into Wilson Inc. at such a high level at his age was unheard of. Even Mr. Wilson's own son hadn't gotten in until he was thirty years old. James was getting after he was barely old enough to drink.
"I suppose now I ought to ask you," said his father, smiling at James in the rear-view mirror. "Do you think you're ready to go into the company?"
James smiled, straightening his clothes slightly before answering, "Of course I am. You've prepared me my entire life."
"Well answered," said Mr. Kingston.
He was about to continue, but at that moment there was a deafening blast of a truck horn. James turned to the sound and saw the giant headlights of a semi-truck heading right for them. James knew at that moment they were going to be hit. There was nothing for it.
No matter how hard his father hit the brakes, or how they swerved, there was simply no time to avoid the crash. He yelled out, unsure of what he actually said, but it was already too late.
James heard the crash long before he actually felt anything. The second the truck touched them, a blast of adrenaline hit him and made his entire world slow to a crawl. He could see everything in crystal clear detail. He could've counted the shards of glass that had once been the windshield of their car.
He could clearly see the trucker's face, slowly being moved out of view. James was sure to commit the face to memory, before he felt the world begin to speed up again. Once his father recovered, they could press charges, he was sure of it.
However… something was wrong. They had been hit very hard and sent spinning. That much he'd expected, but what surprised him was when the car flipped over onto the roof and continued skidding down the road, still spinning. James couldn't help himself and threw up on what was once the ceiling before it finally stopped.
James nervously looked up at the front cabin of the car and couldn't see either of his parents moving. Panic set in and he hastily undid his seatbelt before climbing out of his window and up to the front of the car. His father was cut badly from the shards of the windshield and had his eyes closed, slumped over the wheel. James reached down and pulled the door open.
The sight made him sick again. Their blood was everywhere… He hated blood, he always had. James reached in, steeling himself. He didn't know much about cars, but he'd seen enough to know it was dangerous to leave his parents there.
Fingers trembling, he undid the belt holding his father in the car and caught him before he fell. Carefully, James pulled him out and set him on the side of the road before going back for his mother and opening her door.
The second he opened it, he knew it was too late to do anything. James may not have been a paramedic, but he knew that when you saw someone's brains smashed out of their skull, they weren't breathing or thinking anymore. Terror rooted him to the spot.
He could see her eyes were still open… Her grey eyes that he'd inherited… But they weren't seeing anything anymore. The light behind them had long since left and now they were just dull orbs in her skull.
James started to weep. Others had often said that their family was cold, and distant, but the fact was they had always held an unspoken love for each other. Their love was far beyond simple words, and James had always known his family was safe. When you dealt in a world of liars and closed doors, safe meant a lot.
Now, looking at his mother with blood dripping out of her head, and her body hanging by the seat belt, James screamed into the night. He yelled aloud, not caring who heard. He did all he could, trying to will her spirit back into her body.
Sadly, nothing happened. She stayed dead, and he stayed by her side… maybe for a full hour, maybe only a few minutes. He couldn't tell. Eventually he pulled out his phone, dialing an ambulance.
Tears were still running down his face, and his hands were shaking, but his voice was calm and collected.
"I need to report an automobile accident on the Kennedy Expressway…"
He gave the operator the details of his location and managed to pull himself over to his father, and James saw his eyes were open again.
"Father!" he said, moving to the man's side.
"James!" his father said, clasping James' face firmly. "Are you hurt? Are you hurt?!"
His father's voice was raspy and sounded harsh, and James leaned in to talk to him.
"No," he said. "No, I'm ok. But mom… Mom's dead…"
His father's eyes misted, and he started to cry too.
"I'm sorry, James," he said eventually, clutching his son's coat. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry."
"No!" James said, his voice cracking. "You didn't… You didn't…"
"Listen here," his father said, as if forcing himself to continue. "It's important you go to the company… Use it to help… help those around you. You were blessed with opportunity, boy. Promise… Promise me."
"I promise you, father."
James held his father in his arms, both covered in blood. They stayed like that for a long time, until the paramedics came. They began CPR and started loading his father into the ambulance. However, James knew it was only as a formality. His father was already dead.