Two business quarters after the Bay Valley Medical Center explosion...
On the 18th floor of a downtown Vancouver office building, KJ von Meer stares out of a large panoramic window. He outlines the harbor with his finger while snacking on a strawberry muffin.
Receptionist: (In French) Mr. Patterson... the doctor will see you now
KJ: (Wolfing down the remaining half) Merci
Almost 80 lbs. heavier, KJ wipes his hand on his pants and lumbers into the office of Canada's premier psychologist. The room is devoid of any vibrant colors except red pillows on the gray sofa.
Doctor: Hello, Jack - in town on business again?
KJ: (Collapsing into an oversized chair) Yep
Doctor: It's good to see you
Doctor: I hope you say more than that or this is going to be a very brief session
Doctor: Okay then, shall we continue where we left off?
The doctor raises an eyebrow.
KJ: Sure, why not?
Doctor: Your mother...
KJ: That bitch
Doctor: Well, at least that's a start
KJ: I hate her
Doctor: Yes, we've already established that
KJ: She's never there for me anymore she couldn't even be there on my... - do you know where she is today?
The doctor answers with a stolid gaze.
KJ: WHERE SHE IS EVERY DAY OF HER MISERABLE LIFE PLAYING TENNIS GOD DAMN TENNIS...
Doctor: You said she used to be a professional?
KJ: DECADES AGO
Doctor: Maybe this is what she feels comfortable with right now
KJ: Shouldn't she feel "comfortable" with her own children?
Doctor: Tell me, why does it make you so uncomfortable?
KJ: BECAUSE OUR WHOLE FAMILY, OUR WHOLE LIFE HAS BEEN TURNED UPSIDE DOWN, INSIDE OUT, AND SHE'S STILL PLAYING WITH A STUPID BALL
Doctor: Are you jealous of the ball, Jack?
KJ: (Sniffing and clearing his throat) YES, okay, yes my sister used to constantly complain about it but I always took mom's side NOT ANYMORE
The doctor scratches his nose.
KJ: Maybe... JUST MAYBE, if she took one ounce of the effort it takes to swing a racket and placed it into, oh I dunno, MOURNING MY FATHER GIVING A DAMN ABOUT MY INCREASINGLY DISTANT SISTER OR HELPING ME WITH THE FAMILY BUSINESS... maybe my life would be less stressful!
Doctor: Is that your mother's job to make your life less stressful?
KJ: She sure as hell could help
Doctor: Did you ever consider that your mom is using tennis to escape the stress?
KJ: I'm sure she is but it's time to be an adult and live up to your responsibilities
Doctor: Are you talking about yourself now?
KJ: (Shifting in his seat) Someone has to be the grown-up in the von Meer house now that dad is gone, it sure ain't my mom or Erika
Doctor: It is possible that your mother is mourning your father but she has to channel that into serving an ace maybe she can't reach your sister because you yourself said she is distant, so your mother hits a lob... is this making sense?
KJ offers a reluctant shrug.
Doctor: And as for helping you with the business, a backhand down the line is the best she can do
KJ: Stop helping her with excuses, you're supposed to be helping me!
Doctor: I am helping you, Jack I'm trying to help you realize that you cannot always expect those around you to behave the way you want them to or to give more than they possibly can you help yourself by realizing others' limitations and to count on yourself, first and foremost
KJ: I don't need a pep talk, doc
Doctor: You need a talk, you need to talk, you are participating in a discourse with me that is designed to enlighten you about the dark and unsettling areas of your life that is why you are here, Mr. Patterson
KJ: Actually, I came for those delicious strawberry muffins in the waiting room mind if I go grab another?
Doctor: You can... but instead of concentrating on food, why don't you concentrate on the feelings you are experiencing right now?
KJ: I'm experiencing hunger
Doctor: Are you? maybe it's a different kind of hunger maybe what you are feeling right now is so disturbing that you would rather deal with the muffin the same way your mother deals with the tennis ball
KJ bursts out into nervous laughter and shifts in his seat again.
Doctor: Shall we continue or do you want to go get a muffin?
KJ: Nevermind, I've lost my appetite
Doctor: Why don't we shift the focus to your father?
KJ: (Mumbling) I suppose we could
Doctor: How is his death having an impact on you?
KJ: I still can't believe he's gone it's been months but it continues to feel so unreal to me
KJ: I guess because it happened so suddenly I know after the age of 50, it's not as surprising for people to die - but he was in fine health... and it wasn't like we couldn't afford the best doctors in the world
KJ and the doctor share a knowing nod and smirk.
KJ: The feeling of guilt is what's really eating me and probably why I'm eating every baked good I can get my hands on... he tried so hard to get me more involved in our business but I didn't care, I always assumed my sister would be the one to step up
Doctor: And she hasn't?
KJ unleashes a sarcastic chuckle.
KJ: Now she is starting to poke her unwanted nose around but only because the company is soaring
Doctor: Do you not feel a sense of achievement because of this?
KJ springs up from his seat and paces a bit.
KJ: I should... shouldn't I? I mean, I have done more than my share, it's not all Riff's doing although I'm sure he thinks so
Doctor: Riff is your business partner?
KJ: Who is Riff, really?
The doctor looks at him quizzically.
KJ: We grew up together like brothers and, yes, he is my business partner but now, watching him work these last several months, I honestly couldn't tell you who he is I can't even tell you who I am
Doctor: Do you admire this man? do you resent him?
KJ: Yes to both he's had to deal with a lot of corporate crap living under the shadow of his prick father as a kid, he always used to say that he wished my dad was his...
KJ inhales deeply and sits back down.
KJ: Everyone thought my dad was the greatest...
Doctor: You don't agree?
KJ: No, I do - that's the problem
Doctor: Do you feel like you can't live up to that?
KJ: I don't even wanna try but now, I'm forced to
Doctor: Is Riff forcing you to live up to your father?
KJ: No... he has always wanted me to be my own man, take more control of a situation, handle things better exactly the way Riff does
Doctor: Have you recast him in the role of your father?
KJ: GOD, I hope not!
Doctor: Do you feel like you have to compete with him?
KJ: That's the thing, I don't want to compete with ANYONE, I only wanted to do my own thing and help people out where I could
Doctor: A noble goal why have you stopped pursuing it?
KJ: (Rubbing his face with his hands) Because I was forced to
Doctor: By whom?
KJ: More like by "what"
The doctor waits for an explanation but does not get one.
KJ: I'm done talking about Riff
Doctor: Alright, instead of talking about individual people, let's talk about another subject altogether how would you best describe your former love life and how do you reconcile these feelings in your personal relationships today?
KJ laughs out loud and heads for the door.
KJ: Sorry, dude, I have GOT to get another one of those muffins before we even start down this road!
Doctor: Help yourself
As soon as KJ closes the door behind him, the doctor punches a button on his phone pad.
Doctor: (In French) Are you getting all of this?
An amused, deep female voice answers in the affirmative. Moments later, KJ returns to his seat in full chew.
Doctor: Now, do you want to go from past to present or backtrack?
KJ: (Licking his fingers) I can actually condense this pretty quickly for you... it was party time all the time for me, Riff, and Rikka when we were young it's one of the perks of being mega rich
The doctor makes a note in his folder.
KJ: I absolutely enjoyed every minute of meaningless pussy with a bunch of easy, smoking-hot bimbos for well over a decade honestly, if you showed me pictures of these girls, I couldn't pick them out if my life depended upon it...
Doctor: A cavalier but not a highly uncommon approach
KJ: I was never mean or abusive but... sure, I used them for fun and physical release, nothing more
Doctor: And now?
KJ: I can't even stomach, literally, getting emotionally or physically involved with anyone which is highly ironic considering the situation I'm in
The doctor makes a few more notes.
KJ: The one-night stand parade hit a brick wall when I met two women who rocked my world
Doctor: Am I to assume one of them is your...
KJ: (Curtly cutting him off) No
Doctor: Are these women still a part of your world?
KJ bites his lip hard to keep from crying.
KJ: No... Oni is dead
Doctor: What happened?
KJ: She was needed for other purposes
Doctor: That's vague
KJ: For good reason
KJ rubs his face again and pushes the errant blond strands away from his eyes.
KJ: Ona Rosa was the love of my life my dad thought it was because she represented something I couldn't have since she was already married with kids
Doctor: Was he right?
KJ: She was so far beyond that to me it wasn't just her beauty and her amazing legal skills either, she was just... herself
Doctor: Did she return your feelings?
KJ: Not at first she fought them and I tried to respect the fact that she had a family
Doctor: Did you ever consummate the relationship?
KJ hurls one of the red pillows across the room and it slams against the wall.
KJ: Sorry we were so close but then... then... no, we did not
Doctor: And what about the other woman?
KJ: (Deep sigh) Morri well, let's just say things are very different now
Doctor: Can you tell me about her?
KJ: I wasn't in love with her like Oni but I did love her I think she represented "safe" for me... the funny thing is that she is actually anything but safe
Doctor: Are you going to be vague again?
KJ: Let's just say she was on the run for something she didn't do the "people" that set her up thought she was taken care of until she showed up at the hospital the day it exploded
Doctor: Was she directly involved with what happened?
KJ: Heh, we were ALL directly or indirectly involved with what happened
The doctor waits but KJ offers no more.
KJ: So Morri is back, the trumped-up charges have magically disappeared and I do mean magically - she now works with me at the PCOC and has an increasingly bizarre relationship with my sister
Doctor: Are we revisiting Rikka again?
KJ: Seems that way, doesn't it?
Doctor: How is Morri involved with Rikka?
KJ shakes his head, shrugs, and chuckles.
KJ: I suddenly don't feel like talking to you anymore, I'm done for the day
Doctor: Remember, Jack, you were the one who sought me out to help you
KJ: (Cracking his knuckles) I know I also know my ring doesn't fit on my finger, my blood pressure has shot up 60 points, the nightmares I had as a child are back full-force... yet, I don't dare drink or pop pills because I need to keep my mind extra sharp for this game!
Doctor: And what game is that?
Before KJ can answer, the doctor's phone buzzes.
Receptionist: (Over speaker) Mr. Patterson's wife is here, doctor
Doctor: Thank you
KJ leaps to his feet and lets out a deep sigh.
KJ: I know it doesn't seem like it but you do help a lot, doc... thanks
KJ turns and opens the door to the waiting room. Victoria Martel, picking at her strawberry muffin, rushes over to give KJ a huge hug.
Victoria: Ready, Honey?
KJ: (Smiling) I guess so
Inhaling a cigar and swirling the liquor in his glass, Griffin is seated a private baccarat table inside a high-end Las Vegas casino. The gentlemen surrounding him for this whale game represent the global elite from the worlds of business and politics.
Caller: Card for the banker...
As the game unfolds, a man from the top Singapore shipping conglomerate engages Griffin directly in conversation.
Businessman: Judging by how much money you are losing on this game today... and yesterday...
Griffin rips a piece of his card and scowls at the man.
Businessman: You must have complete confidence in your company's current prospects?
Griffin: Complete and utter confidence my business partner is in Vancouver as we speak
Businessman: Wonderful, Mr. Martel, because the port negotiations are going to be a major hurdle for you
The other gentlemen gathered around the table now focus solely on the serious conversation.
Businessman: And what is a major hurdle for you will be a losing venture for us
Griffin downs the rest of his drink and rips another card.
Caller: (To Griffin) You need to pull a card out of the shoe, sir...
Griffin: (Now ignoring the game) I do not anticipate any problem whatsoever with the negotiations
Businessman: We all saw what happened when your country's media and citizens got wind of the Dubai deal
Griffin: If anyone knows how to fly under the radar, it's the people I work with besides, this is not an election year and everyone has gone back to teeth bleaching and worrying about the next winner of a TV talent show
Some gentlemen at the table chuckle while the businessman continues to frown.
Businessman: Your assessment is not based on facts, Mr. Martel I will need more convincing than supposition about human behavioral patterns...
A few of the gentlemen at the table nod their heads in agreement with the businessman. Griffin tears the last piece of his card, sighs, and slowly stands up.
Griffin: You are absolutely right you do deserve more convincing than that...
With a nod of Griffin's head, a blue-robed hood appears from the corner of the room and floats to Griffin's side.
Businessman: Is this one of your negotiators?
Griffin: One of many
Concerned whispers amongst the other gentlemen suddenly fall silent as the businessman begins to lose his breath. Griffin and the blue robe remain exactly where they are.
Businessman: (Gagging) WHAT ARE... YOU DOING... STOP... STOP
The businessman's temporal arteries pop and splatter blood all over the table and other gentlemen. His face collapses into his chips.
Griffin: Anyone else in need of convincing?
Some of the gentlemen flee the table as others stare in shock.
Griffin: We are nearly done mining and processing the metal, it will be ready to ship in weeks there will be no, let me repeat, NO negotiation problems you, your businesses, and your countries will either reap the rewards with us... or you will be in our way
The blue hood now leaves the room as the remaining gentlemen bow to Griffin's will.
Griffin: Now, if you will excuse me, I have a suite filled with beautiful young women covered in sushi and white lines who are in dire need of my attention, thank you
Surfaced on July 1, 2000
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