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Feb. 1, 2022

The Old King


An old man in a hospital ward is convinced his grandchildren are trying to steal his company from under his nose. Can he persuade his lawyers that they have to do something to stop this, or will he just be ignored?

This story is based on a thousand real events.

Music by JuliusH, Pixabay.

Transcript

Old man

The Old King

ARE you two are from my lawyers? I told the hospital to call you ages ago. I’m here because of a little health issue I had the other day, but I need you because of a problem I have with my grandchildren. I want you to listen to a recording I made of a phone call they had last week, talking about me. Then you’ll understand what I’m saying. So are you both listening? ARE YOU LISTENING! This is important. Here we go…

“Hello?”

“Hi Julia, George here. How are things?”

There they are! Little worms! I should never have made them joint company directors. In my company, which I created from nothing. It took me sixty years but I’ve built a business with 800 people and sales offices around the world.

“Excellent first quarter sales figures. Economy is holding up at the moment so the ROI is looking good. What about you? How was the sales workshop?”

That’s how they always talk! They think they’re so clever, just because they went to university. They use all this economic mumbo jumbo to try and confuse me. But I’d like to see how successful they’d be negotiating with one of those old-school Soviet industrial managers I had to deal with back in the sixties. Those two can barely drink a cup of tea, let alone a bottle of vodka over breakfast!

“Very well. I got Johannes to come along and tell them about some of the sales trips he used to do with Granddad. They loved him!”

Johannes Götz is a friend and my first salesman in Germany. He retired ten years ago now, plays golf and goes on cruise ship tours with his wife, Lotte. Says it makes them very happy. The boredom would kill me. Anyway, George’s and Julia’s grandmother divorced me a long time ago. Sandra said I loved the company more than her, which was true actually.

“How’s Granddad?”

“Hmmh…”

Do you hear that? DO YOU HEAR THAT? I’ll play it again:

“Hmmh…”

In that “Hmmh…” is everything you need to understand about what they think of me. “Hmmh …” really means “Granddad is being difficult to work with and won’t listen to me.” But it gets worse!

“I have to keep checking if he’s taking his medicine. If he doesn’t he makes mistakes and then he gets angry.”

That’s a lie, she knows it’s the other way round. It’s the drugs that make me do stupid things. When I’m not drugged, I see things clearly. I see what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to steal my company from me, and that makes me angry.

“Will he agree to talk to the banks do you think? If we’re serious about expanding into China we need to borrow money from them.”

“I don’t know. He’s suspicious of banks…”

 See? She’s criticising me again. But it’s common sense. Never let the banks get their hands on your company. They’re vultures.

 “He’s so volatile. It’s going to be difficult … as long as he’s around.”

Do you hear that last part? No? Damn you, LISTEN! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to shout at you, Miss … Miss … whatever your name is. “… as long as he’s around.” Do you hear it now? Good! You see, now they start plotting to get rid of me:

 “George, I think we may have to intervene in some way. You know, what worries me most is this new commercial agent he’s hired in China, Eric Lin.”

“The guy he visited in Shanghai? The one with all the business connections?”

Lin is good. He respects me and he has excellent contacts.

“Yes, but did you know Granddad has given him a platinum American Express card, without asking us? I only found out yesterday when both their November bills arrived on my desk. The two of them spent a huge amount on restaurants, nightclubs, casinos…”

Oh, God give me patience! I don’t have to ask for permission, it’s my company, isn’t it? We had a bit of fun, but why not?

“He’s doing this in Shanghai? Jesus, Julia, he’s putting the whole company at risk! If they entertained government officials and anybody finds out then it’ll be seen as corruption. It’s not like forty years ago, you can’t do that sort of thing anymore and China has really tough regulations. We have to stop this, can you cancel the cards?”

I had my little incident when I lost my temper at a petrol station because I couldn’t pay with any of my credit cards. I couldn’t believe that they really would actually cancel them all, but they did. So, I want to …

******************************************************************************************

Much later, Julia Hill and George Mellon left the hospital and drove slowly back to the office.

“That was weird,” said Julia. “Why didn’t he recognize us?”

“The doctor thinks he had a small stroke as well as a heart attack,” said George. “And it has affected his memory centres. But it was lucky the hospital called us and not the lawyers, it could have caused complications. We’ll have to get ownership transferred to us straight away. It’s the only sensible thing to do to keep the company going.”

“Of course,” Julia was silent for a while, looking out of the passenger window. “Do you think we were in any way responsible for this?” she asked finally.

“Julia,” said George, keeping his eyes fixed on the road. “We’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. It’s not our fault he can’t control his temper, is it?”