365 Days Ch. 01byDear_Dora©
A note to eager readers: I know from experience that it's sometimes irritating to plow through the setup in order to get to the "good parts." The introduction, here, is very well thought out and just oh, so funny, but not what you'd call "sexy." So, it's okay by me if you want to just zip to the next section titled "Happy Birthday."
My younger brother had come into quite a bit of money, through no virtue of his own. I had completed college, started my modest career, and seemed to my parents to be the successful, middle-class son they had always wanted.
Roger, on the other hand, was always the black sheep. He was a reluctant student even in elementary school, and when the going got a little tough in high school, Roger not only didn't get going, he stopped going altogether. Faced with an ultimatum from our father, Roger worked his way through the series of minimum-wage jobs that a high-school drop-out was most likely to get. Roger's attitude and work ethic was such that he never lasted long no matter how undemanding his employment might be.
Roger was not without his charms, however. Unlike me, and much to my consternation while we were growing up, Roger had both good looks and a winning charm, whereas I was, politely put, plain looking, very awkward and shy -- what is now called "a nerd." This perhaps contributed to my academic success, and Roger's lack of it. Whereas I had nothing to distract me from my studies, Roger's social life used him up entirely, leaving nothing for school, or later, for work.
So it was, that besides many jobs, Roger also went through a long series of girlfriends, starting when he was in middle school and I was in high school. Before I ever had a date, Roger had an interesting and varied sex life, dating and bedding many of the prettiest girls. He was so charming and such a "devil" that his romances during middle school included not only the seventh- and eighth-grade girls in his own school, but several of the most desirable girls in my own high school, as well.
After I graduated and went on to college, I had regular reports from my few friends still in our home town that Roger remained the social butterfly and successful Romeo that he had been from the first. Roger retained his taste for women and girls of all ages, which frequently got him crosswise with the fathers of teen-agers and, increasingly often, the boyfriends and husbands of grown women.
Women of Roger's age and middle-class background, and girls of high-school and college age or older, date with more purpose than Roger was accustomed to, and soon they began to see through Roger's charming demeanor. Although Roger might have been fun to know and perhaps fun to date and even possibly fun to bed once or twice as a fling, he was much less than a good marriage prospect.
Even more so when Roger finally flunked out of school, and rather than enrolling to repeat his courses, simply gave up on education all together. I was away at college at the time, struggling to keep up my studies; I had several jobs, trying to pay for my own education because our parents had recently died in a car accident. As a result, there was no one to counsel Roger to try again for the education that was likely necessary to ensure his future happiness and success.
He fully expected to be able to parlay his good looks and charm into a successful life in the adult world, having known no other course, nor having been held to any higher standard. Unfortunately, in that, he was correct.
Roger first worked as a clerk in a convenience store. That job he lost because of fireworks with the management about in-store fraternization with other employees, which is to say, he got caught by the assistant manager with a much younger clerk (a female clerk ... Roger had never swung both ways) "en flagrante" in the stock room. The assistant manager was much more incensed by the two of them leaving the cash drawer unattended than by any moral reservations about their behavior, but nevertheless, they both lost their jobs.
Roger's next position was as a pump jockey, a position foreign to much of the country nowadays, but mandated in Oregon where we live, by a law forbidding drivers from pumping their own gas. Again, Roger lasted only a few months before he had established a reputation for pumping much more than gas, particularly in the case of attractive, wealthy ladies driving large, expensive SUV's. Roger had by then realized his best hope of financial success in this life was to worm his way (so to speak) into the bed, heart, and purse of some wealthy woman before he lost his looks.
Unfortunately for Roger, most attractive, wealthy women driving around in large, expensive luxury SUV's, even in this liberated day, are already attached. Their money and position and expensive SUV's generally have come by way of their rich and powerful husbands. These husbands are generally not men who are easily duped, and Roger quickly found himself at odds with several of the more powerful men in the community, who saw to it that his future in the oil industry was terminated.
Finally, Roger landed a position as a barista at a well-known franchised coffee shop whose name rhymes with "Starbuck's." Never one to let the grass grow under his feet, Roger soon struck a more than casual acquaintance with several of the customers and other (female) baristas.
So it was that one such young woman, daughter of a recently-immigrated-but-not-thoroughly-documented couple, became pregnant with Roger's assistance. This had happened before, but to Roger's good fortune, the girls and/or women involved had been able to dispense with the "problem" quickly and at no expense to Roger.
This time was significantly different. Maria's parents were completely uninterested in finding a way of easing Roger's embarrassment, and extremely interested instead in securing their daughter's happiness while protecting her reputation. A wedding was hastily arranged, and Roger's sudden interest in travel abroad was curtailed under the persuasive and muscular influence of Arturo, Maria's imposing and profoundly protective older brother.
Arturo was not a bad guy, but his main interest was in his sister's welfare, and luckily for Roger, he actually came to like my brother. Not enough to allow him to wiggle out of his responsibility to Maria, of course, but enough to present the newly-wedded couple with one hundred PowerBall tickets as a wedding gift.
And so it was, that in the scant seven months between their wedding and the birth of their son (my nephew Ramon,) Roger and Maria became multi-millionaires. One-hundred-seventy-five-millionaires after taxes, to be exact.
Nor was Roger a bad fellow, either, actually, just careless and a little self-centered. Maria, on the other hand was generous but unexpectedly hard-headed about business matters. With the help of her brother, Maria retained a good financial advisor and a good attorney, and went about setting up a series of trust funds and investments which assured their little family of three a secure, not to say luxurious, financial future for a long time to come. For eternity, probably.
The generous side of Maria's nature revealed itself in a series of magnanimous gifts to her family. Of course, she gave her loving brother Arturo, who had bought them the fortuitous lottery tickets, a large lump sum of cash, enough that Arturo himself also felt obliged to make use of their financial advisor and attorney to protect his new assets.
To her mother and father, Maria (and Roger also, of course, in that the money legally belonged to both of them) gave a large cash gift, carefully manipulated to assist their getting proper immigration papers (as only sufficient cash in the appropriate hands will do), and acquiring also for them a suitable new home and a sustaining endowment.
The couple also replaced Maria's parent's regular payments to uncles, aunts and cousins still in Mexico with a permanent annuity that forwarded substantial checks to Los Mochis every month thereafter.
In their immediate family, they were left with me as somewhat of a problem. Roger and I had always gotten on well, but we were never close, in part because Roger resembled the butterfly of the family, whereas I remained more the hard-working ant.
Roger asked Maria's permission (in as much as, in their marriage as in most, his wife was the actual and unchallenged head of the household) to give him a small amount of money ("small" by their newly elevated standards) and the discretion to buy me a gift in celebration of their good fortune, a request that she granted.
... continued in "Happy Birthday" ...