COPYRIGHT Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder. All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.
Part Three: 27 (Cont'd)
"You're living in a fantasy world," Dad went on, then took a loud breath. "You think just 'cause you buy the two-thousand-dollar suits and the five-hundred-dollar shoes and the five-thousand-dollar watches you're going to become one of them, don't you?" He took a breath. "Well, let me tell you something. You're wearing a fucking Halloween costume, that's all. You're dressing up. I tell you this 'cause you're my son and no one else is going to give it to you straight. You're nothing more than an ape in a fucking tuxedo."
"What's that supposed to mean?" I mumbled. I noticed Antwoine tactfully walking out of the room. My face went all red.
He's a sick man, I told myself. He has end-stage emphysema. He's dying. He doesn't know what he's saying.
"You think you're ever gonna be one of them? Boy, you'd like to think that, wouldn't you? You think they're gonna take you in and let you join their private clubs and screw their daughters and play fucking polo with them." He sucked in a tiny lungful of air. "But they know who you are, son, and where you come from. Maybe they'll let you play in their sandbox for a while, but as soon as you start to forget who you really are, someone's going to fucking remind you."
I couldn't restrain myself any longer. He was driving me crazy. "It doesn't work that way in the business world, Dad," I said patiently. "It's not like a club. It's about making money. If you help them make money, you fulfill a need. I'm where I am because they need me."
"Oh, they need you," Dad repeated, drawing out the word, nodding. "That's a good one. They need you like a guy taking a shit needs a piece of toilet paper, you unnerstand me? Then when they're done wiping away their shit, they flush. Lemme tell you, all they care about is winners, and they know you're a loser and they're not going to let you forget it."
I rolled my eyes, shook my head, didn't say anything. A vein throbbed at my temple.
A breath. "And you're too stupid and full of yourself to know it. You're living in a goddamned fantasy world, just like your mother. She always thought she was too good for me, but she wasn't shit. She was dreaming. And you ain't shit. You went to a fancy prep school for a couple of years, and you got a high-priced do-nothing college degree, but you still ain't shit."
He took a deep breath, and his voice seemed to soften a little. "I tell you this because I don't want you to be fucked over the way they fucked me over, son. Like that fucking candy-ass prep school, the way all the rich parents looked down on me, like I wasn't one of them. Well, guess what. Took me a while to figure it out, but they were right. I wasn't one of them. Neither are you, and the sooner you figure it out, the better off you'll be."
"Better off, like you," I said. It just slipped out.
He stared at me, his eyes beady. "At least I know who I am," he said. "You don't fucking know who you are."