This is the sixth part of a fiction serial, in 770 words.
Three years is a long time when you have not had much of a life. But I saw it as an investment. Three long years to learn, build, develop, and study. Three years to allow people to forget Andrew Wilkins, and his accidental death in a workshop at his home. Three years to learn how to be alive, and explore the possibilities of that life.
The first year, I waited deliberately; acting bereaved, confused, and in need of support. I got that from Mr Dean, the family lawyer, after he told me my father’s death had been ruled accidental, and I would inherit everything. I asked him to arrange the funeral, a quiet cremation. Naturally, I was too upset to attend, so father left this world in the presence of the staff from the undertaker’s, the officiating clergyman, and the manager of his factory. Dean told me that there was so much money, I would never want for anything. When I saw the figures, I knew he was telling the truth.
So I waited that full year, before asking him to arrange the sale of the factory as a going concern, knowing that our biggest competitor would be keen to acquire it, if only to close it down. I learned to drive by paying for an intensive course, and applied for a passport by visiting the local post office and filling out some forms. There was no need for me to own a luxury car, so I bought a small commercial vehicle that would appear innocuous to anyone passing.
Year two saw me clearing out the workshops, using a local company to sell off most of the equipment. The things I wanted to keep, I stored in the smaller one, as I got busy converting one of the others into a home gym. Shopping online worked well for me, and I maintained my high-protein diet carefully, to ensure I could build muscle, and start to look like someone my age should, if they had led a healthy life. I paid for swimming lessons in a private pool, using the new-found skill to increase my strength further. And through it all, I continued to study the things I was interested in.
I even purchased a new television, so I could learn about what the people around me were watching. Most of it was appallingly inane, but I took notes, and studied the popularity of the shows that were supposedly all the rage. I stopped keeping up with the social media groups I had once belonged to, and they soon forgot about me.
Once I no longer looked like the Paul Wilkins I remembered, I kept up with my exercise regime, and sensible eating. I certainly didn’t want to become one of those musclebound stereotypes. I wanted to look as normal as possible, not stand out. Then year three was occupied with my own building projects, converting the largest workshop into the laboratory I had carefully designed using some of father’s graph paper. In some way, I followed in his footsteps, working long into the night, seven days a week. What I didn’t know how to do, I learned by reading how to do it, and by trial and error.
The day after my twenty-fifth birthday, I was ready.
Mister Dean was still the family lawyer, though we had little contact. I telephoned him and asked him to supply me a reference, stating that I was of good character, and had previously been employed in the family business as assistant to my father. If he was confused as to why I wanted it, he didn’t say. I already had a National Insurance card, discovered during an extensive search of my father’s study, though my employment and tax history had been dealt with by the company accountant. I had to presume that they had kept records, and started to look for a real job.
One of the huge online goods suppliers had opened a distribution warehouse some ten miles north of the town, at the junction of two major roads. Watching the local news on TV, there had been a report about them soon becoming the largest employer locally, so I applied for a job there. It was a simple job, picking and sorting deliveries. There was no fixed contract, and the wages were just the national minimum. I was asked how many hours I wanted to work, which suited me. I chose a four day week, from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon.
That left me three days a week and every evening to do anything else I wanted.