Finding Richard Lawrence

Free excerpt from The Abandoned, available September 30, 2021

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            Richard attended Rapture’s bi-monthly executive meeting, but his mind was elsewhere. Since concussing his son, Richard had been beating himself up for how absent he was throughout Dillon’s childhood and adolescence. It took Dillon’s head cracking open for him to realize he should’ve prioritized raising his son more.

            Richard succeeded in his duties as a provider, but he had never put forth much effort to know him under the surface. Now, Dillon was a young man with his own perspective on life, no longer a little kid who just went with the flow.

            How did I miss that happening?

            “Hey. You there? Snap out of it,” Phil said.

            Richard shook his head and rapidly blinked his eyes. He looked at where the holograms were and realized he zoned out for a significant amount of time. He didn’t even remember them signing off.

            “What the fuck? Are you alright?” Phil asked.

            “Yeah, yeah. I’m good. I’m just, uh, thinking about the meeting,” a flustered Richard said.

            “Right. Hey, so what’s up? You’ve been in the clouds all week. Luckily Prescott didn’t ask you to chime in there. Did you even notice he was there?”

            “Yes. I noticed he was there. Just a lot of this going on, but I’m good. How are we doing with the Sampson project? It feels like he’s the first senator we’ve had in a while.” Senator Cory Sampson was a well-known politician who needed to save face from a hate crime threatening to resurface.

            “Shit. You really weren’t listening. His ass didn’t get too far from the plantation as a kid. His political foes are threatening to release a surveillance video with him and some buddies beating up a Black kid they saw at a grocery store when they were in college. Apparently, they hospitalized him and called him a nigger before telling him he was a virus. All while beating the shit out of him, but the big man is going to talk to his favorite adversaries himself to see if he can suppress it. Fuckin’ America, right?”

            “It’s what we’re paid to do,” Richard said, rationalizing their unethical line of work.

            “Yeah. We’re super admirable. What’s funny is if they actually wore their masks the video wouldn’t prove it was him. Anyways, are we going golfing soon? It feels like we haven’t played in forever.”

            “We played less than a week ago, but I can’t anytime soon. I’ve got some shit I gotta do the next couple of weekends.”

            “What do you have to do? Come on. Let’s go play and have dinner with Heather and her friend after. It’ll be great.”

            “Not this weekend, Phil. I can’t make it happen.”

            “Hey,” Phil said, lightly hitting his best friend’s shoulder to get his full attention. “Everything good with you?”

            “Just because I can’t play golf and try to get you laid doesn’t mean I’m not good.”

            “Well, it should, but you being mopey and not yourself might mean you’re not.”

            Richard gave his friend a regretful look for his snappy response.

            “Sorry. Yeah. We’re all good. Just family stuff, you know?”

            “I had so much of it I decided not to create another. So yeah, I know. Let me know if you want to talk.”

            “Thanks man. If I can squeeze in a round, I’ll let you know.”

            “There he is, see you there!”

            Phil left the room fist pumping the air, thinking he turned his friend’s frown upside down.

            Richard remained in the conference room for a few more minutes deep in his thoughts. His time would’ve been well spent familiarizing himself with Senator Sampson’s situation, but when Prescott assumed the lead on a project the best way to help was by staying the hell out of the way.

            Richard had accumulated the resources to retire at year’s end and still be swimming in billions the rest of his life. He earned a healthy stake in Rapture, and his wealth management team coded his investments to latch onto the most profitable companies in the market. The properties he owned around the world were desirable, overpriced, and continuously increasing in value. The most durable safety net he had was he shared financial interests with politicians. This meant he would always have the puppets protecting their shared prosperity. If that all shit the bed, which it wouldn’t, his inheritance from his father would take care of the Lawrence’s for generations. Plus, Dillon most likely smacked his way out of a portion of his grandfather’s fortune, leaving more for Richard.

            On top of being unsure if his son liked him, Heather confessed she was unhappy. Richard assumed all the amenities he afforded brought her satisfaction. After all, the lifestyle he gifted her was exponentially more luxurious than the one her father had built for her, her sister, and her mother. Their marriage ushered Heather into a whole other realm, one with endless possibilities accredited to exorbitant opulence, where all of her desires could be reality. She may not have realized it, but Richard let Heather dictate most of their expenditures. Yes, Richard loved earning billions and relishing in the power it came with, but he could have done without all the extravagant possessions. Their mansion, automated cars that wheeled them around, yacht that carried them around the island, private jets took them to lavish vacation destinations, and ornate decor were all over the top. All extracurriculars Richard deemed pointless but purchased for her sake.

            Now that he knew none of this made his wife happy, squandering that much money really irritated him. But it was a lost cause. He’d get over it and focus on fixing his marriage because, apparently, all the work he had put in to elevate Heather to the echelon she dissipated all his money in wasn’t enough.

Any thoughts you want to share with Jake about this excerpt?

Email them to jacobcavanah@gmail.com or writetojake@jakecavanah.com.

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