This is the third part of a fiction serial, in 840 words.
Eventually, I did become closer to my father, though only physically, not emotionally. He informed me that I was expected to take over the family business one day, so when I left school that summer, I would be trained by him. University was out of the question anyway, due to my poor academic performance, so being taught how to invent things and continue to run the existing company was my only option.
There was to be no salary of course. I was provided with bed and board, and Mrs Foyle was given money and intructions to buy my clothing and toiletries. But as a concession to my new status, I was given a password and account details so that I could buy books online. The bill would obviously pass through father’s account, but as his finances were managed by an accountant and lawyer, it was unlikely that he would ever check what I purchased.
Just in case, I began by buying some technical books on electronics and computing. I already had a laptop that had been used for school work, and a basic knowledge of how computers worked. I struggled to understand them at first, but constant re-reading helped me to work out many things that had previously been a mystery to me. Once I found out that he definitely was not checking the parcels of books arriving, I started to buy books about things I was actually interested in.
Psychology, phobias, and fear.
The day would begin with me accompanying father to one of the many workshops on the property. Though drab outside, the interiors were bright and spacious; well designed, and packed with anything a modern inventor might need. I wondered why he bothered, as the computerised drill business was booming, apparently. But I wasn’t about to ask him. Once a month, we went by taxi to the factory, twenty miles west. The manager would fawn over my father, and the workers at their benches look down deferentially as we passed. As far as I could tell, he was a decent employer. Fair rates of pay, good conditions, and pension benefits. People liked working at Wilkins Engineering. They just didn’t care too much for the arrival of my stern father on his regular inspections.
Lunch was always taken at midday, though father remained in the workshop while I went back into the house to eat my pathetic repast. Mrs Foyle would take him a tray containing a substantial lunch, avoiding my gaze as she prepared it. From 1 pm, I would continue to be trained by father. That mainly consisted of me being told to watch carefully what he was doing, as I took copious notes in one of the large books he had provided for that purpose.
The same kind as the one I am now using to write this.
Precisely at six, we finished for the day, and went back into the house to eat the meal prepared by Mrs Foyle. Conversation was non-existent, and as soon as I had finished I would go up to my room. At weekends, I was not required to accompany him, though he worked seven days of every week. He suggested I use my free time to study the notes I had been taking. I nodded agreement, but as soon as I was alone, I would open my psychology books, reading avidly late into the night. On Sunday afternoons, I allowed myself some time on the Internet, to discover the society that was progressing well in my absence. It was fascinating what people wrote about themselves for anyone to read. Those who would never dream of leaving their front door open were happy to discuss their deepest secrets with strangers.
It wasn’t long before I joined many of the groups and associations. Using false names and identities, I became popular online in a way I never could have been out in the world. I took photos from the Internet, and used them to represent me. I was hardly going to post an actual photo of the emaciated, pale skinned young man that I really was. I learned how to ‘chat’, something new to me. I picked up colloquialisms and expressions, and how to appear to be flirting with someone when I knew nothing at all about romance or sex.
There had never been any celebration of birthdays or Christmas in the house. After all, my birthday was also the day of mother Paula’s death. And Christmas was just a reminder of how much she had loved that season. However, I was coming up to a significant birthday, according to a telephone conversation I overheard. Standing outside the door of father’s study one morning, waiting to accompany him to the workshop, I heard him talking to the family solicitor, Mr Dean.
“That’s correct, Dean. He will be the only living relative, and will inherit everything. He is twenty-one next month, so time to write him into the will. Get it done”.
That was music to my ears. I could now plan his death.