He never thought he’d win. It was all a game to him. He’d had some wins before, and some losses. Whenever he had a loss his father would pick him up, prop him up, dust him off, and give him enough money to start over again. His father never asked why he failed. He didn’t have to. He had so much money it didn’t matter. His father was long gone now, but he had prevailed with what was left of his father’s money.
He’d done the same with women. He had his way with every woman (a few men too) he wanted and when he was done he cast them aside with no explanations and no apologies. One of the few honorable things he had done in his life was to provide for his children, even if he did it from a remote physical and emotional distance.
This game was different. He’d never participated in any form of this game before. He was inexperienced. His expertise was negotiating until he got his own way. His specialty was taking as much as he could and paying the least he could get away with, regardless of the havoc wreaked. He was better than all of them; they should be grateful he lent his name to their efforts, even as he destroyed their livelihoods. Money paved the way through any legal hassle as he settled most disputes out of court for much less than he owed, because then he could say he’d made it right.
He called himself smart. He claimed he alone knew how to fix things. Nobody had more knowledge or ability than him, he said. The people who helped him win had no clue what he really thought of them, which was less than nothing. They were merely tools in a long history of taking and using. He had no idea what needed fixing. He didn’t care. The game was about him winning, not about him caring.
When he won the game, he was momentarily stunned. He had to hide his surprise, because it was only a game to him. Then the rules changed because when he won it was a new game. He knew he was in over his head, but he couldn’t stop now. He was a runaway train, a wreck waiting to happen.
He thought when he won all people would confer respect upon him whether they helped him win or not. When they didn’t he proceeded to surround himself with his playmates and cronies. They shared many ideals, but those ideals were vastly different from the people who had helped him win. Their ideals were all about them, how they could profit, how they could make the world to their satisfaction, not about helping the people who had helped him win. They did not care about taking down every pillar the society had been built upon. They had no compunction or remorse about destroying 240 years of history. They were selfish, never thinking beyond themselves.
He thought he could play the new game by his rules, his way. The established rules had no relevance to him. He was above the rules. It was now his game. He was an old man and none of it really mattered to him now. He disregarded all advice and called in his estranged, developmentally delayed but well cared for children to help him with the job, and began changing the rules. At least when he died they could say he provided for his children even if they had no idea what he was getting them into. They’d always have their father’s money to take care of them.
Some of the people who had not helped him win the game could see his true colors displayed on the game field. When the backlash started, the people were dismissed as rabble-rousers, complainers, crybabies, poor losers. He didn’t understand most people think beyond themselves, unlike him and his little band of gamers. Since he didn’t really know the game he had no idea what was at stake.
The stakes were bigger than he ever imagined, as limited as his imagination was. People’s lives and livelihoods were at stake. Men needed to care for their families and women needed to care of their children. He had lied to them every step of the way because he didn’t care. It was only a game to him. He only needed to die with the most toys.
When the rebellion started he was unprepared. His playmates and cronies could not save him as they were in it for themselves, not him. The rebellion didn’t last long. It didn’t have to. He was a house of cards all along, waiting for the first breath of fresh air truth to knock him down. The people who did not help him win huffed and puffed and blew his house down.
He still died with a few toys and 15 minutes of fame. And his children had his money.