Thursday, September 27, 2007

[Fiction] Friday

[Fiction] Friday Challenge for September, 28 2007:

Give a virtuous character a sordid past.

Ben sat on the podium listening to the accolades for his service to the community, his participation in youth sporting programs, his support and charity to the homeless throughout the city and his 5 million dollar charitable donation to Cancer research in the name of his dear wife who had passed away from ovarian cancer.

He wondered if he would be sitting here today if the truth, the real truth were known. How he really accumulated his wealth. How when in the early Fifties a great tragedy visited and caught the city unprepared, killing over hundreds of people and making thousands homeless. A National emergency was declared and the Army was deployed to help sand bag and rescue the stranded from the tops of their houses. They were also charged with searching for the missing and not so lucky ones, mostly elderly.

Like most cities, it was started on the banks of the river and spread out over the years. The rich and the middleclass had fled to the suburbs leaving behind the poor and newly immigrated, who had not yet had the oportunity to accumulate enough wealth to move. The cities core had been left to low income housing, pawn shops, sex shops and massage parlors. This area of the city was the hardest hit and most of the homeless and dead were taken from this area.

Ben knew what he had to do, it was if he was waiting for it to happen. He had attended the University of Chicago and studied economics under Milton Friedman. He knew that disaster zones provided the best opportunity for development and profit, so while people were still reeling from the shock and before the river had drew back to the confines of it's natural banks, he bought the land and properties on the waterfront from the city for one third it's actual value. Before people could start moving back into the area he bulldozed their homes. Before people had the strength of numbers to save the heritage buildings, he leveled them with dynamite.

The Mayor and Counsellors elected to protect the rights of the people turned a blind eye for Ben had rid them of the eyesore that was making redevelopment of the core area move at a snails pace. Ben was left with prime riverfront property of which he sold to Condo developers and Luxory Hotel Chains for a massive profit, but he kept the best for himself. With the profits from the sale he developed Fisherman's Wharf, which he leased to upscale shops and fine restaurants and of course a Casino that became Ben's golden calf. A place where both rich and poor could fill his pockets. The Casino in which Ben was the major investor was not as easy as the rest. Palms had to be greased and the the ones that were to honest to take bribes, less savory means had to be used to get their vote. Not my proudest moment; thought Ben.

Ben Green is an Honest, Truthful and Virtuous man. A Man of Moral Excellance. It gives me great pleasure to present him with this Honarary Doctorate degree. Ben Rose from his chair and walked towards the Dias. Would the University care about his past; he thought. Not likely, they were hoping for a large endowment, which was the real reason for this award. He stood before the President and was capped and robed. He was presented with a crested parchment that he would frame and hang upon his wall. He turned and faced the students and guests sitting in neat rows strug out across the auditorium. Would they care he thought; not really, it was so long ago most of them barely remember the flood anymore. He raised the parchment above his head and thought; In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is King.


Jo September 28, 2007 at 3:14 AM  

Oh this is very good. Very powerful and right to the heart of things........well done.

gautami tripathy September 28, 2007 at 3:32 AM  

We have too many Bens in our midst. A rather helpless situation. Conscience has no meaning.

paisley September 28, 2007 at 7:10 AM  

this was excellent... i really enjoyed your writing... i see a sunday scribblings underneath i think ill go read that too!!!!

Paul September 28, 2007 at 4:28 PM  

Oooh, that is cold and harsh - it looks like not only does he have a sordid past, his present is pretty sordid too!

The Ben's of this world are far too often rewarded...

pjd September 28, 2007 at 5:13 PM  

Not really sure I believe the MC is virtuous... sordid past, certainly. Sordid present perhaps as well. Just well hidden. My favorite bit is when he thinks about whether the university would care and decides they won't because his honorary degree is only about an endowment.

This is a pretty cynical piece, all in all.

tumblewords September 28, 2007 at 10:20 PM  

Too close to truth! Nicely written -

Josie Two Shoes September 29, 2007 at 12:57 PM  

I loved this story, Webster. I wish I could say that I don't know any men like him, but I do. Virtuous, indeed... NOT! :-) Excellent presentation of the way things so often are. Public images can be so distant from the reality. I also applauded your noting that the university didn't care - that's how it would go in real life! Far too often, money is everything.