Theme: Like a Moth to a Flame
No one was surprised when they announced the awardee. There were only three nominees, and even so, with the kind of success he’d enjoyed that year, or even just the quarterly figures of his company, he was a shoo-in for the prize. He was the big news of the year, the entrepreneur who’s stunned everyone. In a crashing oil market, he’s monopolized an entire sector, and unless something went terribly wrong, Stroil Corp looked like a company that could stand the test of time, and weather it well.
Over the next few days, the newspapers were in frenzy, the entire media running from pillar to post, trying to run down this man’s story. They covered every angle, tracked every detail, and step by step decoded the story behind this man’s one way ticket to prominence. If one channel got an exclusive deal with his school, another ran rampant over the modest housing colony he spent his formative years.
He was an inspiration, they said, and everyone wanted to get a piece of him. Everyone but one. R wanted a story that was different, grittier, and more saleable. Apparently, there wasn’t a single person who had a bad thing to say about him, and this just didn’t seem right. But what could R do? He was in a catch-22: no one would want to get quoted speaking ill of L, and without a quote, he’d only have pointless speculation. But that’s when the call came through.
There wasn’t enough time to record the conversation, and even if he had somehow managed that, there wasn’t enough clarity for it to be of use. Yet the content of that conversation gave R the proof he needed. In the short seven minutes he spent on the phone, he had numbers, dates, accounts and names, of all those involved in the dastardly subversions that propagated this meteoric success. The very next day he had his big interview with this man. He knew he didn’t have enough time to prepare, and so he stalled. Deeply skilled himself at prolonging a conversation, R just let on enough to pique the interest of L. Glad to have a decent conversation, L agreed to a three part interview with R and invited him to his house that week for the first.
Now the tough work began. R spent every day and every night of that week, following leads. He kept running through details, combing through files of public information, scouring through newspaper archives and doing everything else imaginable to ascertain the veracity of the claims he was about to make. When he arrived on Thursday night though, he played his cards close to the chest. Never once actually disclosing his purpose, he led L as far as he could to subtle insinuations of the knowledge he was privy to. He got lucky a couple of times when L fumbled or said a little too much in response to his cleverly crafted questions. At the end of that night’s interview, which extended into a dinner invitation, R had enough information to further catalogue his findings.
L knew that something was wrong immediately. The questions this interviewer was posing were far less mundane than he’d come to expect from all the interviews he’d had. He could discern a hint of something brewing beneath the surface and longed to find out what it was. As was his nature, he needed to know not only what he was facing, but also the intention behind it, and so quickly agreed to a continuation of his rendezvous with this R man. Over the first couple of interviews, he knew that he was up against something solid. Whilst he never came out with it, R frequently brought up significant times, dates and places, things he’d thought he’d left far behind. The accuracy of this man’s knowledge worried him, and he knew that if he wanted to have his past remain buried, he would have to act soon, and the night of his concluding interview was the chosen time.
R arrived on time that night. He had almost sewed up his case, and had to decide whether to confront L or blind-side him into his own subterfuge by going public with his knowledge. This man, who they all said was an example of class that could stand the test of time, was now stuck in HIS catch-22, and he knew that he could send him on a one-way ticket to a future beyond redemption. He smiled as he walked out his car, and stepped onto the driveway leading up to the house.
Years later, these documents were recovered from a cubby-hole in an old oak desk that R had stowed in his basement. They had all the information that could have incriminated the country’s greatest known entrepreneur when he was just starting out. But as L’s grandson read through his grandpa’s handwritten notes, he did not find the stories of that night, of the suitcase that L had walked out of the house with, of the monthly wire transmissions that ensured his bank accounts couldn’t run dry. As he made his plan to expose this dead legend, he missed out the real story. He couldn’t find the notes he would need to see the real entrepreneur, or the business that his grandpa successfully ran on the basis of a few weeks of hard work. He would not see the real story. Just as no one ever does.