Note: This picks up from the end of https://shootthesea.wordpress.com/2010/10/02/toast/
The next day, Mark and Jeffery were sitting in their father’s old office as the family lawyer, Don Lathrop, inserted a diskette into the wall-mounted television set and closed the blinds on the city. Mark took off his sunglasses and crossed his feet up on the desk.
“Okay then, Mr. Lathrop, esquire. Let’s see where the old man buried his pot of gold, am I right?”
Mr. Lathrop didn’t answer, and the recording began. There was their father, Earnest Nibbs, waiting patiently for the signal to start speaking. It must have been only a couple of months before he passed away, based on his appearance.
“My condolences, boys! I’m dead. I’m sure you have been enjoying the fruits of my labor mightily, no doubt. Fine. Get it out of your systems. Starting now, however, play-time is over.”
Mr. Nibbs adjusted himself in his chair—the same chair, Jeffery noted, that Mark was sitting in now.
“Now, boys, as you well know, I am a self made man. A Self-Made Man. And I am proud of that fact, of course. It’s the American dream, and I did it! The American Dream. I started out with nothing, and I built an Empire! Veni vidi vici. Now see where it got me.”
Mark made a weary sound and squeaked in his seat, while Jeffery leaned closer to the screen.
“You kids always had the best of everything. Everything money could buy, and nothing short of the best. The best. I provided you with that. A good education. World travel. Tutors. Cars. Fine food. Front row seats. Cash. Everything I never had at your age; Everything I could have asked for and more. And that—“
A short coughing fit.
“Is my greatest regret. If there is one thing I have hated since the day I was born, it is the babe with a silver spoon in its mouth. The guy who gets a head start and a pat on the back and a lift in a Rolls Royce all the way to the finish line. All those fellows who were one step ahead just by virtue of their last names. It was not until recently that I came to accept that you, the fruit of my loins, are everything I have ever despised and aimed to destroy: Every unqualified nancy-man who ever got the lion’s share just for showing up.”
“Shut up, Mark.”
“I confess my sins. I suppose I didn’t see you kids as human beings. You were extensions of myself and of my success. When I wasn’t ignoring you, I dressed you up, I showed you off, and all of a sudden you two are Men. Men who represent everything that makes me sick.”
“I guess you screwed up, old man! Won’t happen again!”
“For this reason boys, I have made a decision. Now, I could have you two thrown out on the street without a dime if I wanted to, but I think your mother, God rest her soul, would probably frown on that sort of thing, supposing she’s up there. Or down there. Anyway, I have decided instead to provide each of you with a not-so-simple test.”
Mark had taken his feet off the desk and was now listening with apprehension. Their father, anticipating the suspense, paused, smirking.
“On the event of my death, the entirety of the Nibbs Company assets shall be invested in some very shaky prospects. Very shaky. By which I mean I am dedicating this last stretch of existence to designing the very antithesis of a business plan. It will be implemented smoothly and quickly. Many of my best men and women are prepared to take on positions at other, rival, companies, or to continue to work with some of the better Nibbs holdings—which will be ejected from the corporation soon after I leave this world. They are now your rivals. You boys still have considerable stock in the company, and free reign to repair it before it completely falls to shit. Use those Ivy League brains I bought you. Or you could do something else with your time and leave the Nibbs empire to rot. It makes no difference to me. Either way, you have a lot of work on your hands, and not that much in the bank, when you consider how much of my fortune I am donating to worthy causes and pet interests of mine.”
Another coughing fit.
“I’m doing this for your own good. Mr. Lathrop will provide you with the pertinent details at the end of this recording, and you would do well to pay close attention.”
A pause as Mr. Nibbs leaned back in his seat and smiled an indulgent smile.
“Goodbye Jeffery. Goodbye Mark. I wish you the best of luck in overcoming every obstacle I have placed in your paths.”
The recording ended.