One day Gerald assured himself that his three sons, Xavier, Khua and Mo, had benefited greatly over the years from his wisdom and deep insights about life. The result of his example surely would mean his sons would become successful. He also assumed that his only daughter, Geraldine, would, because of his example, find a man successful like himself. Yet, he realized, because he was so busy trying to cheat people out of their money and because he didn’t like children, he had never spoken to them directly about the important things in life. He decided he would begin to take a more direct route of sharing his life’s lessons with his children on occasion, when it struck him. And, at this moment in time, it was striking him.
He found the boys with The Nanny in the parlor. The boys were too old to have a nanny, but Gerald was too pre-occupied to notice these things.
“Xavier, Khua, Mo! Come over here!” commanded Gerald.
The boys rushed over to his side because, since Gerald so seldom spoke to them, they figured it was important when he did.
“Now boys,” Gerald began, “Have a seat. I think it is time I tell you something important, something that, when you are older, you will thank me for. This world isn’t a easy…this world is not easy a place…It’s not easy, in this world, to be successful like me. It takes a certain attitude, a certain resolve.”
The boys leaned in closer.
Gerald adjusted his sea foam colored tie and continued.
“I have worked hard my whole life to get where I am. I’m not proud of everything I have done, but I haven’t ever really done anything wrong. I want to share with you something my father, your grandfather, (rest his soul) told me when I was your age. He shared this with me just before he died and it has been one of the keys to my success.”
The boys leaned in even closer.
“Xavier, Khua, Mo, if you ever find yourselves on a deserted island with one other person and there is only enough food for one of you, you will have to kill that other person.”
The boys sat quiet for some time pondering what they had just been told. Finally, Xavier raised his hand. His father nodded at him to speak.
“So, if we find ourselves on a deserted island with another person, and there is only enough food for one person, you want the three of us to kill this other person?”
“No, not the three of you, just the one of you,” answered Gerald, a little annoyed.
“Like, which one?” asked Khua.
“Which one what?” asked Gerald
“Which one of us should, like, kill this other person?”
“The one of you on the island, of course!” answered their father.
“But aren’t we all on the island?” asked Mo.
“No, no, no,” cried Gerald as he ran his hand through his thinning hair. “Just one of you is on the island with one other person. Then, in order to survive you will have to kill that other person.”
“But what if that other person is Mo?” asked Xavier.
“Because, like, if it’s one of these two,” Khua said pointing at his brothers, “I would rather kill Xavier. Can I choose who I’m on the island with?”
Gerald turned away in frustration. “NO! You are not on the island together. There’s just one of you and one other person!”
“What if the other person is their mother?” asked The Nanny who was still in the room.
In unison, all three boys answered, “I wouldn’t kill Mom! Dad, don’t make us kill Mom!”
“NO! NO!,” Gerald yelled, turning red, “Your mothers are not on the island!” Gerald said this because all three boys have a different mother. “LOOK! There are only two people on the deserted island, one of you and someone you have never met before! It is a stranger you are going to have to kill!”
The boys were quiet again, pondering what their father was telling them. After awhile, Mo raised his hand.
“Yes, Mo,” Gerald said.
“Um, so there’s only going to be enough dessert for one?”
Gerald couldn’t control himself and, in a rage, grabbed his own shirt with both hands and pulled, popping all of the buttons. The boys ducked the projectiles.
“AAAAAGH! IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT THE FOOD IS!” screamed Gerald. “THE POINT IS THAT YOU HAVE TO BE WILLING TO KILL PEOPLE TO BE SUCCESSFUL, LIKE ME!”
Now, the boys were very quiet, their eyes wide and their mouths open. Even The Nanny stopped what she was doing and looked horrified.
Gerald glared at them for a moment and then asked, “WHAT?”
Xavier hesitated, afraid to ask the question but even more afraid of the answer he might hear. “Have you ever killed someone, dad?”
Before their father could answer, Khua interrupted in a cautious quiet voice, “Yeah, you didn’t, like, kill Grandpa, did you?”
Gerald’s eyes grew big, his nostrils flared and the hair on his head straightened out like knives. If he had a heart, it would have had an attack.
In a very low growling voice, he answered, “No, I have not killed Grandpa. No, I have not killed anyone – directly. And, yes, sometimes I think I want to kill the three of you.” Spit was dripping from his lower lip as he pointed his trembling finger at them. “You boys had better toughen up. Nobody’s going to help you in this world…not even me.” And with that Gerald turned and strode out of the room like a mass of smoldering coal with legs.
The boys again sat quiet for awhile, pondering what their father had told them.
The Nanny slowly approached them. “Boys, can we agree that if you ever are stranded on a deserted island with me or Geraldine that we wouldn’t kill each other?”
“We wouldn’t want to kill you, The Nanny,” they said in unison.
“Yeah, maybe we could just, like, eat less,” said Khua.
“Maybe, we could also work together to find more food until we get rescued,” offered The Nanny.
“If it’s only, like, bananas and cocoanuts, you can, like, have it all,” said Khua.
Xavier said nothing but looked at the doorway where he last saw his father. He looked at the family crest above the fireplace, and then he got up to go be by himself in his room. The Nanny watched him leave with concern in her heart.
“What’s a deserted island?” asked Mo._______________________________________________________
Written by Mark Granlund Illustrations by Matt Wells