Brother Love Ch. 01byqhml1©
Chapter 01: The Beginning
I sat behind a desk. It had a lamp, a tablet, and a few pictures on it. Behind me on the wall were some paintings. Starry Night by Van Gogh. Haystacks, by Monet. Paintings that had brought me a lot of comfort over the years.
I had a suit on, but no tie. I wanted to be comfortable, and I never liked wearing a tie.
It wasn't a real office, in a real building. It was a set on a small sound stage. The very first night of my very first talk show. It belonged to a small regional channel, that only reached a viewership in a hundred mile radius. Plus, it had public access on the local cable networks.
I looked at the camera.
"Hi. My name is Jerry Love. That's right, Love. Really."
"I got the nickname 'Brother' from my friends, because I was always the peacemaker of the group. Always sticking my nose where it didn't belong, trying to make the world a better place. How's that worked out for me so far?"
I paused, rubbing my nose.
"Well, it got it broke. Twice. And I got chewed out a lot. It took me a while before I learned to adopt a live and let live attitude."
I paused and picked up one of the pictures on my desk, turning it towards the camera.
"This is my wife. Oops, I mean my exwife. Beautiful isn't she? Well, she was to me, anyway. I'll probably get into all kinds of trouble for showing this photo without permission, but if you happen to see this or hear about it Deb, this will be the only time."
"I lost my wife last year, along with everything else. I had a pretty good job, made good money. Then I got downsized, along with hundreds of thousands of others. Couldn't find a job making anywhere near what I was used to. Our savings went pretty fast. We lost the fancy cars, the motorcycle, the rest of the toys. Then we lost the house. It, among other things, was just too much. The only bright spot was there were no children. So we joined the ranks of the formerly marrieds.
There was no alimony, nothing much by then to divide, so we just drifted away. I found a job in the next town, and lived with my great aunt Elsa."
"I didn't mind, I was her last living relative and was there twice a week to check on her anyway. I didn't move in until she became too sick to take care of herself."
"She died five months ago."
I paused, struggling to keep my voice even.
"I loved the old girl. She taught me a lot. But it was the last link to my family. I found myself truly alone."
"She had a will I knew nothing about. I got her whole estate. Her huge house and all the antiques. The land she owned on the outskirts of town. And cash."
"It's probably not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it's a good bit to me. More importantly, she left me this letter."
I held it up and let the camera zoom into it.
"I'm gonna read it now. Part of it, anyway."
"Jerry, if you're reading this I'm gone. I always loved you, felt you were special. You've always been so sensitive to others. You need to be careful, or that trait will destroy you. Take the money and use it. Don't worry about investments or interest, use it to get the answers to all the questions that torment you. I hope it will make you a better and happier person."
I paused to wipe my eyes.
"I thought about it, a lot, and decided to follow her advice. Over the next few months, as long as the money lasts, I'm gonna be asking hard questions about a range of topics. Some of the ones I ask will be some kind of expert in their field, but most will be from average people like you and me. Since I won't have any sponsors, I won't owe anybody anything, so it doesn't matter if anyone doesn't like what I say because it will be out of their control."
I held up another photo.
"This is one of my personal heroes. His name was Tim Russert. He was a reporter for one of the national networks, and hosted a political talk show on Sunday mornings. He was a big guy, with a happy face and a nonthreatening manner. He made you comfortable."
"But if that big, happy, smiling guy asked you a question you were uncomfortable with, you better tell the truth, because he had a video clip or a print quote ready to show if you lied. That's why his show was so good, because he didn't threaten you, just made you aware of the consequences if you chose to lie."
"Why am I telling this story? Because I intend to imitate him. I want my facts doublechecked and verified on any topic I touch. And I need help to do that. If any of you college guys are out there that are qualified to help me and need a job, call this station. They will get me in touch with you."
"That's really all I have to say tonight. I just wanted to introduce myself. I'll have an email address set up by next week, so you can send me feedback or give me suggestions on what you think I should cover. If anyone is watching, thank you for your time."
"If you wonder why I'm doing this, it's because I can. There will be no sponsors, no axes to grind except mine. It's a voyage of self discovery, and I thought I'd invite you along for the ride. I'll continue until I run out of enthusiasm or money, whichever comes first."
"I'd like to close tonight with one of my personal mantras. I don't know who said it originally, but it has stuck with me for years."
"It's better to shake a hand than a fist."
I looked at the camera until the light went off, then grinned at the camera man.
"What do you think?"
"I ain't required to think, bro, just make you look good. I will tell you this. You need another cameraman, so we can switch back and forth to different angles. It breaks up the monotony and keeps the viewers interested."
I agreed with him and had him get another cameraman for the next broadcast.
Aunt Elsa had left me in pretty good shape. I often wondered if Deb had known about the will she would have hung on. Too late now.
Her house was estimated at eight hundred thousand dollars, her antiques about half that. She left me some money besides what I was spending, enough to live on comfortably for quite a while.
The eighty thousand was in a separate account. She considered it her 'mad money', and wanted me to do the same.
"I know your life has been pretty rough lately. Use this money to try and get your happiness back. Not the old one, that's gone forever. I know, deep down inside, you still love your wife. Sorry, son, but she chose to leave instead of try to tough it out. Don't blame her too much, she was young, and always got what she wanted. Real life was too hard on her. Maybe she'll grow up. Maybe she won't. Either way, it's the path she chose. You're not on that path anymore."
"Take the money and blaze a new path, one you can walk on your own, or with somebody else if you find her. You have your whole life ahead of you, and you're too good a person to to be alone. Someone will come along, I only wish I had lived long enough to see it."
I didn't read that part of the letter on air.
Her letter triggered something in me. What did I want to do? How could I make my life better?
I came up with the idea one night while watching a talk show late at night. Everyone had an agenda. The comedian wanted to further his career. The actress wanted to push her movie, recently nominated for an award. The singer wanted sell more records. The basketball player wanted to push his clothing line. They weren't talk shows anymore, they were a long string of advertisements. I really couldn't fault that, but it made things pretty boring.
But every once in a while, a personal tidbit would slip out, or the host would ask a question that brought an expression of pain.
That was what I wanted. I rather find out why his child was estranged, or her marriage was failing, or that they were facing a terminal illness. How they handled those situations brought out the real person. It made much more interesting viewing.
As much as I wanted to do it, I didn't feel right doing it to strangers. Who better than myself, I thought. I had had more than enough pain, drama, and disappointment in the last two years to last me a lifetime.
I thought about Deb just before I went to sleep that night. Wonder what she would think about all this? I could see her now, tapping her foot and calling me an idiot, all the while smiling.
I doubted she was ever going to see my little experiment. I doubted whether anyone would give a rats' ass in the long run.
But, like when the hooker asked the midget who he expected to satisfy with that little thing, he just grinned.
"Me, sweetie, just me."
I don't know how long this series will last, or how many chapters there will be. Like the story, I intend this to be a voyage of self discovery.
I've never really given much thought to the world around me, being too wrapped up in my own life to worry about anything that didn't affect me or my family directly.
But I'm getting old now. Almost sixty, and I despair for the world my granddaughter and great nieces and nephews face.
Thanks as always for reading. Votes would be nice, comments would be better.
Until next time