This is my story. It is one of pain and bad decisions that I continuously replay in my head, trying to make sense of what I was thinking. Of what the greed had done to my mind. Of what the greed made of Hank Romulus.
My story starts in Eastborough, a small town in Northern Michigan. I was walking along Main Street with my childhood best friend Alf. We were in a small town in the summer with nothing to do, and to try to cope with the soul crushing boredom we were meandering along, hoping to find something interesting that might snag our tiny attention spans. We found this snag in a new mechanics shop that had recently moved into town. Alf and I thought it a great idea to walk uninvited into a strange building, and the unspoken nod of the head sealed the fact that we would do it. So, as two curious kids might, we walked up to the garage opening marveled at all of the shiny, dangerous looking power tools. The garage seemed to be void of occupants, so we ventured farther. Alf was the first to see it. A spectacular feat of engineering. A Chevrolet Camero, supped up and in it’s prime, painted cherry red with a bulging engine under the hood. Alf and I ran up to the beast, running our hands over the smooth acrylic paint. Like every other kid in our town in the late 1960s, we were n love with muscle cars. As Alf and I were marveling at the Camero, we didn’t notice the door of the shop opening into the garage.
“You youngsters like this here Chevy?” Asked a voice with a deep Southern droll.
Alf and I whipped around to find a tan skinned man with grease stained overalls standing behind us.
“Sorry mister,” I stammered, “We didn’t mean to intrude.”
“It’s alright, just tell me why my garage attracted ya.” The mechanic replied.
“We wanted to see the Camero!” Shot out Alf, discharging the sentence with so much force I’m still surprised the mechanic didn’t fly backwards.
“Oh, well boys, lemme show you her!” Said the mechanic.
The man, known only to us as Rusty, spent the rest of that afternoon explaining to us the physics and beauty of cars, which started my blossoming love of the machines. Rusty offered us jobs at the garage when we turned sixteen, and we hastily accepted. When Rusty died in 1979, he left us his shop. Alf took over the garage, while I went to Rutgers University and studied business. I met back up with Alf in 1983, and we started a small business, restoring old cars for small amounts of pay. We were looking for our big break, and this came when we learned of the money Rusty had left behind in the name of his store. Because his store belonged to us, his money was legally ours. Rusty left behind close to 4 million dollars, his entire life savings.
27 years later
“Mr. Romulus, Mr. Hancock is here in the lobby.”
When you saw a confident man in a suit leaning back in a leather recliner, you wouldn’t believe it was the scrappy kid that grew up in a Michigan suburb in a 2-bedroom house. It was me though, rich, powerful, arrogant and the CEO and co-founder of one of the largest car companies in America: Romulus Industries.
“Tell Hancock to come into my office.” I said halfheartedly, more interested in a wrinkle in my designer suit than the issue at hand. Milford Hancock was a car safety agent, concerned with the manufacturing process of my cars. The double oak doors of my office swung open, and Hancock walked in, grimacing at the bottom of my feet that were propped up on the table.
“Mr. Romulus, I am here to discuss with you the procedures of which the manufacturing of your cars go through. They are simply and positively unsafe for workers and they must be changed!” Stormed Hancock.
I waited long before I made my response, just long enough to make Hancock feel reassuringly uncomfortable.
“We’ve been over this before, Mr. Hancock. My factories follow every safety procedure there is. They have passed every test. There has never been an accident, and still you pursue me so hungrily. Why, I might ask is that? Are you jealous, Mr. Hancock? Jealous of my wealth? Jealous of my fame? Or simply jealous of my success?” I let the statement hang in the air for a long time, before returning to smoothing the creases of my suit.
Hancock looked thoroughly flustered; steam practically shooting from his ears.
“No! Mr. Romulus, I do not envy you! You may have wealth and fame, but ask yourself; do you have happiness?” He retorted as he stood from his chair and made his way towards the doors. Over his shoulder he shot,
“It’s not that an accident hasn’t happened, it’s that it will.” Before exiting the room and storming towards the elevators.
2 months later
“Mr. Romulus, Alf Greenich on line 3.”
My ears perked up.
“Put him on.” I replied through the intercom.