Well, this was a pickle.
Before we get any further, allow me to make something clear. None of what you are about to hear was my fault. I was blameless.
I was just a few days back from MIT on summer break. Naturally, Dad and Mom were very happy to see me. They might not have been if they had known my real grades, but that’s beside the point.
It looked like Dad had been waiting for this since last fall. Almost as soon as I got home, he was pulling out the boat and fishing gear. He always did like to fish, despite his lack of talent at the endeavor.
So there we were, floating out in the middle of a peaceful country lake. It was one of those August days where the fish don’t bite, the sun is hot, and the gods of outdoor activities have decreed that you forget the sunscreen. There was no one else in sight, and for good reason. Dad had always been of the opinion that the deep open water held the bigger fish. He never seemed to realize that the fish like to have a little shade too. That and every time we tried to fish along the shore, we lost at least four lures.
Also, the mosquitoes were profuse.
We had been drifting around for quite some time (I believe it was well over two hours, but it’s always hard to tell out there) with ne’er a nibble on our lines, when Dad spoke. Well, he had already been speaking, but he spoke it.
“Son,” he said, “this may come as something of a shock, but I just want you to know that it’s an honorable profession, and I’m proud to make you my heir.”
“Excuse me?” Dad had a tendency to get ahead of himself when he talked. Maybe it was his Brooklyn upbringing. I wasn’t sure.
“I mean, if you don’t want it, you don’t have to take it, but I wouldn’t recommend turning it down. It’s rather lucrative.”
“Dad, you’re still not making sense.” What was he getting at?
He sighed. “Fine. Son… It kind of runs in the family—or at least my side of the family—so”
“Just tell me what it is,” I snapped.
“Well, someone’s getting too big for their britches!” he responded. “What I’m trying to say is, I want you to succeed me in the family business.”
“I want you to take over the family crime ring.”
Well, that one took a bit too get my head around. In fact, I’m still not entirely sure that I did get my head around it.
“You’re a crime boss?” I eventually asked.
“That’s a rather crude way of putting it, but… yes, you could say that.”
“Does Mom know?”
He hesitated. “Not… not exactly. Well, as a matter of fact, not at all. She… you know how she is about the law.”
Mom was the kind of person who always stayed five miles per hour under the speed limit.