He walked out of his own life with a bang! The thirty-eight slug made a bigger mess of things than Sam ever did. Despair was his only refuge and he welcomed the comforting darkness with its blanket of self-pity.
His chosen vehicle for his long ride on the highway to hell was greed. It started so long ago that even he never knew when it started but it always gave him a warm comfort in his own insecure world.
At an early age Sam collected things of all sorts. He hid them under his bed, in the closet and the basement. Just knowing that he had many things empowered him.
When Sam went to college he collected friends and favors. Classroom notes and term papers were his commodity of the day. He expanded his loner personality bit by bit. Finding obscure term papers to offer his classmates, from the archives of the university library was his forte, though the recipient never knew they were stolen property. Sam learned to relish the ease of his duplicity.
After graduation his offer from a major brokerage firm was the ideal venue for self promotion. His astute eye and ear allowed him to collect ideas and techniques. Over time of observing and listening, he learned the art of the deal! Most every stock the brokerage house was touting, he shorted.
The manager pushed and prompted the brokers.
“ABC, ABC; guys. Always be closing! Some of you are wasting too much time with some of these stiffs. You gotta qualify better. Know your mark before trying to set him up. Let’s get those sales and cash register flowing, will ya? Make them bleed for the need of greed. It’s so damned easy. Everybody wants to be rich but we want to be richer!”
The scene was no different at Morgan Stanley or Goldman. Dreams and money were in play and someone needed to collect them. You only needed to get a tiny piece of their pies but tens of thousands of crumbs makes one sweet deal.
Sam and his fellow brokers were living a Chinese parable of; ‘A little from many grows to much for the chosen few.’
Collecting women was no different than collecting things. His lifestyle and trappings far outweighed his lithe stature and common looks. Women were no different in feeding from the same honey pot than the guys. Flashy cars, elegant restaurants and jewelry were always payment in kind for bad sex and uncaring relationships but most women knew innately the one thing they controlled was their own emotional honey pot. Love was a foreign substance that Sam was never privy to. He understood the concept but never drank its intoxicating liquor. In his mind it was classified as a controlled substance far more dangerous than any drug he knew. He desperately wanted to partake but didn’t know how. His choice of Helen was a calculated gamble. Her family was well connected in the upper echelon of the moneyed power brokers. Their mutual wayward mental focus gave way to a marriage made in hell. Affairs became a tit-for-tat scenario but at the country club they were always showered with the title of the ‘golden couple’.
The years were kind to his deceit. Over time, Sam and Helen pursued the ultimate human collection; progeny to extend their dominance over their part of the planet. Children were simply an easy group of collectibles; managed, controlled and a necessary asset for the Christmas card picture.
Later life brought him a collection of companies and O.P.M. (Other People’s Money). In getting more and more, there was always a higher and higher escalated gamble but Sam learned to eliminate most risk by cheating. It came easy and in waves. A brisk commodity of insider trading and information finally gave way to ‘the big lie’ which was always believable to his gullible needy and greedy customers. Everyone wanted to be a member of Sam’s Club. ‘Some’ was never enough and the difference between million’s and billion’s was power and glory. It was also the difference between success and ‘because I can’.
The day the markets and Sam’s Club crashed, the S.E.C. and Feds were breathing down his neck. His paper empire smoldered on the ruined lives of his client base.
His attorney advised him to come clean and give back all that he owned to appease the courts. They promised to portray Helen and the children as unwitting victims.
To Sam this was unforgivable nonsense. If he lost his things, he would lose himself. They just didn’t understand. It wasn’t about them, it should always be about him.
Blackness shrouds all mysteries and Sam was desperate to hide. There were a few things Sam was certain of. Good cognac and a .38 magnum were his partnered pair of solutions.