A History Lesson Ch. 01byJakeRivers©
This story replaces my earlier story called "What Now? My Ending DYJ ". This story is longer and extensively rewritten (Live and learn!). The original story was a response to a challenge by H2Owader for new authors to submit stories included in his story "What Now?" I'm leaving my original story online. I am renaming the story from "What Now My Ending DYJ" to "A History Lesson" to more accurately reflect the storyline. I am also breaking the new version into three parts which will be submitted separately.
I have cleaned up the format and put in some additions to help with flow. With H2Owaders's gracious consent I have incorporated a rewritten copy of his story as the beginning of this version of my story to provide background and clarify references. This story now stands alone without needing to read his story first.
I would like to thank Techsan for his editing help and story ideas. Lady Cibelle also graciously helped, particularly with encouragement. I have included numerous changes based on comments from readers (thank you very much!).
I do have a number of stories planned and would appreciate your comments. As with most authors/readers I do have my biases that will be reflected in my stories. Some of these are: infidelity doesn't pay (you can't hide it forever!), I DON'T get excited with the idea of someone else with my lady, revenge can be appealing (but it is chancy, hard to control, and can get out of hand). That said, life is complex and life happens! You can hypothesize forever but until shit happens you can't REALLY say how you will respond.
My name is James Reed. When I was 26 years old, I came into a hell of a lot of money. It was legal, by the way. I had an uncle in Iowa that I hadn't heard from in years. He had won the Power ball for over two hundred million dollars. Two years later he died and it turns out I was the only relative left. By that time, with his investments, it was worth $275 million.
So suddenly, due to no action on my part, I had a mountain of money. My brand new money manager told me to get a bigger house but it seemed silly – I already had a house and liked it very much. It was on the river I loved and had everything I needed. No one knew of the money, except an old friend of mine, one of my college professors.
The investment company handling the money meets with me every month in Grand Rapids. The meeting usually lasts for a weekend. My financial manager for the investment company was Mark Braxton.
Mark seemed like a nice enough guy, but he wanted me to spend, party and enjoy but I wanted to continue my life pretty much as I had been living. He also seemed too friendly with any woman that crossed his path. Oh well, I didn't have to like him.
The income alone from the money was enough to equip a damn army. The taxes were heavy but I would not get a bigger house. Hell, the money manager, Mark Braxton wanted to do anything to cut into the government's share of my money. I knew he was getting one percent yearly of what his company managed but it made no difference to me. I was never going broke. Not in my lifetime.
The commission was not any big deal, except that the investment company treated me like a god. I didn't care if he got one percent of $500 million or one percent of $300 million (it turns out Mark did think it was a big deal! I guess two million meant a little more to him than to me).
I told everyone at the investment company to call me James, but they called me sir until I told them the next time any one in their company called me sir I would find another investment company. Every one now calls me James. Mark calls me James. The cute receptionist calls me James. Even the janitor calls me James. (I bet if they had a damn guard dog, it would call me James too!)
Keep in mind, good people, I was basically happy. I had everything I needed… well almost. I did not have a good wife. I did not have any children. So I was lonely at times. So I was lonely a lot! But I had a good job, good friends, and a great river to fish. I was a high school History teacher in Baldwin, a small town in the upper part of the lower peninsula of Michigan and really liked my job.
History had always been a passion for me and teaching was fun. It was rewarding to see a few faces light up when I would tell them some of the stories from different periods of history. Of course most of them wouldn't light up even if you popped a flash bulb in their eyes. Hmmm… I wonder if a flash bang would work. I guess not, those are for really bad people, most of these students were just inert. Oh well!
The first summer after I acquired the money, I went to Alaska. I paid $6,000 for a week of fly-in fishing. It was great. I was flown by helicopter to five different rivers. The fishing was out of this world.
Except there were no close friends to laugh when I fell down in the cold water, no one to have a drink after a good fish was landed or that night in the lodge, and no one to kid me about the one that got away. (Try talking to a fish you caught about the one that got away – not a damn bit of sympathy!) There was no one to talk with about life and the vast hereafter (I know, I know, but the fish weren't listening.) Fishing is an obsession and a solitary pursuit but friends do make it better.
So the money was invested. And the gains were invested. And I was making more money. Jesus, it was over $350 million now! It seemed a shame it was just getting bigger and not doing something good. That changed in late June two years after I got the money.
Of course, the change was a woman, what else? Beverly Capstan was her name – she had been in several of my history classes. She called and asked to see me; school had ended in the first part of June. This happened frequently, kids would call wanting a letter of recommendation. I assumed Beverly wanted the same thing: a letter of recommendation for college or for a job. I looked over my notes for all the kids who had graduated. She was third out of 81. Hey, it's a small town!
I knew Beverly had applied for Ferris State University in Big Rapids. I also knew she had been accepted. So, what did she want with me? She was due Friday afternoon so that day I tied some flies for the river, changed the line and leader on an old fly reel I used as a back up, had a beer, and fished for a while. She showed up at one o'clock just as I was ready to prepare lunch.
"Hello, Beverly. I am grilling fish caught fresh this morning for lunch. I also have a green salad, sliced tomatoes, and corn on the cob. For drinks, diet Pepsi for you, and a beer for me."
"Thank you, Mr. Reed. May I help with anything?"
"Hey, I am cooking out of doors. I never need help cooking out of doors."
I had taught this girl for four years in high school. I had never really looked at her. I mean looked! She was a student. She was female. She was not to be touched. Well, she was no longer a student. But does that change anything? Hmmm!
We would be eating at my picnic table in full view of the road and any one that might pass by. Beverly was 18 years old; she was not the best looking girl in the class, but she was a long, long way from being the ugliest. Also it seemed the ones that looked the hottest had the IQ of… well actually a little better than the fish I had caught that morning. Between bites, I looked at my former student.
Beverly was cute. She was not a beauty. She was attractive. Age and knowledge would add considerably to her appeal. Her dark brown hair surrounded her oval face. Nice cheek bones, eyes as blue and warm as a summer day, full lips. She was 5'5'' tall. Maybe a hundred twenty-five pounds? As I remembered from the swimming parties in the river, she had a nice shape. Again more average than lush. She was going to be an average woman. But then I guess except for the money I was a pretty average guy myself.
Beverly started with "I am going to Ferris State University in the fall. I have enough scholarship money to pay for school. I don't have enough money for a dorm room and I don't have the money to get a car so I can drive back and forth."
Now this was a different problem. "Oh?"
"I need a job, either in Big Rapids so I can stay in a dorm, or here in Baldwin so I can drive back and forth."
"Beverly, what do you want me to do?"
"I don't know anyone in Big Rapids, and I was hoping you might know someone who has a job I could get."
Now I knew the problem; I did know some people in Big Rapids. There were some nice folks and some… not so nice. The ones I knew that had the open jobs were the not so nice ones. Baldwin has damn few jobs at all.
Baldwin was a hard scrabble town; every one hustled for a living. Any job she could get here or in Big Rapids would be minimum wage. And the college town had all those students looking for jobs. I did not see what I could do for her.
So again, there was the question: "What do you want me to do?"
The fish was ready. I set up paper plates and served the food. We sat at the table where anyone and everyone could see us. We ate and talked. She sipped the diet Pepsi and I sipped my Damnation Ale. Hey, 7% alcohol can be fun!
"If you could get me a job, it would be great. I would always be thankful."
"You really need to live near the school Beverly. Driving back and forth even if it is only 50 miles will be a problem. Also, your grades will suffer if you work."
"I can't go to college without working." I could see tears in her eyes. "And there is no one else I can ask."
I saw a glimmer of an idea off in the distance. As ideas go it looked weak, but I needed to talk to my money manager, Mark, before I could go too far with it.
"Beverly, I am, or was, your teacher. There is a place that will hire you even without me asking. The Swan hires dancers."
"I know, I was there already, the owner says I can work there but ..." The tears crept down her face. "I would have to dance nude and I have to let him..."
This was not news to me. I knew Sam Bly. He was an ass but he stayed legal, just barely. His dancers were all over 18, too young to drink but old enough to work in bars. I guess he had told her about the lap dances and the back rooms.
"You can borrow the money."
"I want to be a teacher. And you know what teachers make. I just don't want to have those big payments after I get out of school."
"About Bly, if nothing else comes along, will you work for him?"
"If I have to, I will. But I will not have sex with him or the men in that place."
I sensed an iron core of pride inside this woman. There was a remaining question I had to ask before I could go any farther with this conversation. "Beverly, if and I do mean IF I can arrange something for you, what do I get out of it?" I was truly curious about what she would say.
"Mr. Reed, if you make it possible for me to go to college I will do whatever you ask."
Now, this was an interesting statement. I lived in a small town. I dated a woman in Grand Rapids, a good 90 minutes each way. I could only get there on weekends and not every weekend. She was okay. I definitely was not in love and marriage was out of the question. Hell, she was great in bed! I got all I needed. I was ready to ask a question I never thought I would ask any female.
"What if I asked you to let me arrange for your college? Anything and everything you need until you complete your studies, what would you do for me?"
"Are you asking me to sleep with you? How often, where, when? What about boys I would meet at school? Birth control? What happens if my daddy finds out? He will kill you!"
I could suddenly see all kinds of problems with this idea. I actually did not know what I was talking about. I decided to put her on hold.
"Where else were you accepted? What other colleges?"
"The only one I applied to other than Ferris was the University of Michigan-Dearborn. I was accepted there too."
"Okay. Beverly, here is a home work assignment for you. As soon as you can, show me a year by year by year expense sheet for you to go to Ferris State University and the U of M-Dearborn. I know they have no dorms at Dearborn so start with living expenses. I need the data within a week. And do not get your hopes up. This is just a shot in the dark. I will be in Grand Rapids tonight and I will get some Dearborn newspapers for you. Also do Eastern Michigan University."
This was just busy work for her, but I wanted to see what she could do. I knew the costs. With dorms at Eastern the cost for four years would be $35,000 when the car and fuel and other expenses were counted. You know, like clothes and food. At U of M Dearborn I had it pegged at better than $45,000; there were no dorms and apartments were not cheap in Dearborn.
"I do not think Eastern will accept me this late."
I knew Eastern would accept Lucifer himself if I gave them enough money. So would Harvard.
"Don't worry about that, just get the homework done. You can use the computers at the school if you need." I remembered she did not have a computer at home. She had always used the school machines to prepare the projects I had assigned.
She looked at me with a strange look. "Are you going to make me go to bed with you so I can go to college?"
"I am trying to stop the men in Bly's bar from getting into your pants."
"So you want what? Three or five times a week? Blow jobs?"
"Stop! I didn't say I wanted to sleep with you. As a college student, you will have the right to accept any level of activities you want. If you decide sex is not in the picture, cool. I am sure something can be worked out. You could always join the army and get money for college if you had to."
"I will let you be my first man if you put me through school. So, how many times, Mr. Reed?"
I found myself thinking about this. It was a good question. If I wanted to have her, what would be a good yearly number? What about STD's? Pregnancy? I needed to think about this. Then it struck me, she was negotiating. The number of times? Jesus! I looked at her. The tears had stopped. Her face was calm.
"Beverly, I will have a man meet with you. He owes me big time. He will set up a way for you to go to Ferris or any other school you want. You do not have to give yourself to anyone. If he even looks at you wrong, I will have him fired. I still want the expense sheet for Ferris, U of M-Dearborn and Eastern. And I am not sure I want you that obligated to me. It is too close to rape."
'It is not rape, it is whoring."
Was this barely legal girl thinking she could use me to get though college on her back?
"If I married you until you finished college and paid for everything, and you divorced me, is that whoring?"
"Will you marry me?"
"Do you want to have three babies? Cook and Clean? Sex with me whenever I want? Why the hell did you come here today anyway? This is a small town; you have a good idea of what kind of man I am."
I was getting angry. Did this young woman want to marry me or just cut a deal so she could go to college? Was this marriage thing a school girl crush? Was she really ready to bed me for a college education? Or did she actually want to marry me? How the bloody hell had this meeting gotten to this point? And what was I going to do?
"Will you marry me?"
The reason I was getting angry at Beverly was because she seemed to be willing to do almost anything with me to get her education. I could see the hard core of pride she had was keeping her from going to work at the Swan, but she seemed more than willing to do the same types of things with me. I was uncomfortable with her hard, brutally frank negotiations… I guess that's why I threw out the marriage idea.
Now I was angry at myself! It would be nothing for me to help her financially – how had we got to the point of her either being my personal whore or her marrying me? I knew what she wanted, and what she was and wasn't willing to do to get it.
What did I want? I wasn't really ready for marriage, let alone one that was a sham. I was uncomfortable with the thought of using her; I had no problem getting all the sex I needed. As I thought about it I realized I admired her spunk and her goals.
I was teaching because I loved the challenge of forming young minds, the spark in too few of their eyes as they came out of their shells and started wanting to learn. I taught history because it was really my one passion (besides fishing, of course!).
Too few students went further than what I could give them; here was a chance to help one person do that. I knew then I wanted to see how far she could go, and as long as she made solid progress I would help her. I needed to think it out more so I wasn't going to tell her all at once what I was thinking.
"Beverly, let's hold off talking more about it now. I want you to do the homework I asked you, and also to write a letter on your goals: why you want to be a teacher, and why history?" I added, "Don't worry about anything else now. It just confuses the issues – stay focused on what you want to do and why, don't think about the how."
Looking embarrassed, Beverly replied "okay Mr. Reed. Do I give the info back to you?"
"No more of this Mr. Reed! School is over now, you're an adult now that you are 18, and you can call me James. As I mentioned I will have a guy work with you. Call him later when you have everything ready. His name is Mark Braxton, here is his card. Like I said, he should be professional with you at all times. If he isn't, call me at once… here is my card also."
With that I shook hands and showed her to the door.
As I thought about our conversation, it occurred to me the school I went to might be better than the ones we had talked about. It had an excellent History program, with degrees up to Doctorate. I had attended the Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo for my Masters and came to be good friends with one of its professors, Al Trent.
Al was a jovial guy, bushy beard, brilliant mind, and history was his life. He was still teaching in the Graduate Department of History at WMU. Al had a wife of 30 years and four daughters, ranging from 18-28. Al was one of the few persons that knew of my wealth and how I had come into it. After considering it for a few more minutes, I knew what I wanted to do.
I called Al, and told him what I wanted to do with Beverly. I had checked into Beverly's background and found out how hard she had it growing up. I passed some of this info on to Al, and without going into detail told how her hunger for learning history and wanting to teach had impressed me and I wanted to help her.
At the same time I told Al how I wanted to use some of my money for something useful (not to mention donating money would make my money managers ecstatic!). "Al, I'll be frank with you, I know it's late for the admissions process, but I think we can work something out."
"What I propose is to fund two professorships, one in undergraduate and one in graduate history at WMU. I will also establish five scholarships for new history teachers for the Western Michigan area. If they teach in a high school in Western Michigan, I will also pay them a stipend of $20,000 each year for up to five years."
"Finally I will fund two interns in the History department, one graduate and one undergrad. I don't want to use one of the scholarships for Beverly, but I do want her to be given one of the internships without her knowledge of how she got it. I think it's important she earns money on her own to enhance her sense of self worth. Do you think we can make this work?"
"James, it won't be easy, but let's give it a shot. Setting up the scholarships and funding the professorships will take time; I suggest you also throw in a fairly sizeable, immediate non-qualified donation to the school. That shows good intentions while we work everything out."