Ring, ring, ring. The phone in Richard’s office rang and for him the phone ringing only meant more work.
"Yes Berta what is it that you want?" Richard asked his personal assistant, the irritation in his voice making it known that he was not interested in whatever it was that she had to say.
"Well Mr. O'Brian your father is on his way up to your office sir" His PA informed him and this had the clocks in Richard’s head spin as he wondered what his father wanted from him yet again. He knew that he could not show his displeasure to his employees.
"And may I ask why that is a problem, because if my memory is clear my father is in way still in charge of the company and besides, he barges in whenever he feels like it" Richard informed his PA who went silent for a while.
"Well sir, it’s just that Mr. O'Brian seems happy," Richard’s PA informed him and this almost had Richard drop the telephone, his father being in a cheerful mood was something not heard of and often it meant bad news.
"What do you mean he's happy?” He asked his secretary.
"Sir I mean like he's really happy, like smiling from ear to ear happy" Berta highlighted and even Richard had to make sure that he heard right.
My father and the word ‘happy’ was never be mentioned in the same sentence. Richard hoped that nothing had happened to his brother Stephan, because the only reason his father would be this exited is if he heard news of Stephan kicking the bucket.
"Well thank you for informing me" Richard thanked his PA.
“Sure thing sir” Berta thanked her boss and Richard ended the call and patiently awaited his father’s arrival, he had no idea what his father would do but with his father, one never knew what to expect.
Richard raised his head as his door came unlocked and his father walked in, slamming the door behind himself. The smile on his father’s face was evident and that made Richard worried.
"Oh my wonderful son, how are you today?" His father asked him in a cheerful voice and this had Richard raise his eyebrow.
"Good morning father, may I ask why are you so happy all of a sudden?" Richard asked his father as he removed his attention away from his computer.
"What do you mean my son? Can I not be cheerful for once?” His father asked him.
"No father you are certainly entitled to happiness even though that seems unlikely. So would you care to tell me what brought about this sudden happiness?" Richard asked his father, hoping that he would find the underlying cause of things as soon as possible.
"Well son you know that for a while we have been trying to expand O'Brian industries to all continents and not just in America. So last week I spoke to Mr. Buford about our expansion and was wondering if we could partner up and this morning he sent me a contract and I signed it" His father informed him and this shook Richard to the core.
"You did what? Father you can't just sign a contract without informing me or the investors!” Richard stood up from his table and slammed his hands onto his desk.
"Well this is my company” His father shot back at Richard and surely this did not catch Richard off guard.
"I know father but last time I checked you were semi-retired and I also remember that the doctor clearly said that you should be at home resting" Richard reminded his father and his father was not too pleased with that.
"Richard I am your father so get prepared, tomorrow you are taking a private jet to Africa and I do not want to hear anything to it”
"Father you cannot be serious? You can't just wake up one morning an expect me to be in Africa like some sort of magician" Richard pleaded with his father and hooped that his father would change his mind. Looking into his father’s eyes, Richard knew that there was no hope; his father would never change his mind. He had lost the fight against his father.
"So where in Africa are we doing this expansion?” Richard asked his father.
"You are going to South Africa my son” His father informed him and this left Richard frozen on the spot, he could not believe what his father was saying.
There was no way that he would ever go back to South Africa, the bad memories have far outweighed the good and he refused to relive them. It had been eight years since he visited the country and he hated meeting up with his past.
Could she still be there? Richard asked himself, refusing to mention the name of the woman who had haunted his dreams for years.
“What is wrong with you son? You look as though you’ve see a ghost” his father joked, when in reality he really was seeing a ghost, a ghost of his past.
"Nothing father, why are you asking?”
"You look pale and that got me worried” His father responded. His words shocked Richard, because he was not one to worry about anyone other than himself.
"No father, I'm alright. So when should I start packing for South Africa then?” Richard made light of the situation, hoping to avoid whatever tricks his mind was laying on him.
"Well today of course!"
"Ok father, I guess I'll be leaving then I just have to call my secretary and have her cancel all my meetings. Father how long would I be staying for?” he asked his father, hoping that his trip would not be a long one.
"About a month, maybe even less"
"Ok I'll be leaving now" Richard walked out of his office. Inside the elevator, all he could feel was suffocation.
Why would my father send me to South Africa? I cannot go back there. What if I meet her and she hates m? I cannot even begin to think of what she probably thinks of me, what if she is married and probably has children running around calling her mommy. Those were amongst the questions that filled Richard’s head.
"Sir” Richard jumped up as he heard his driver call out to him, he had been so occupied in his thoughts that he did not realize he had already walked out of the office building and he was standing just outside the building.
"Yes" Richard replied, simple and with lack of energy.
"I was asking you for about four times where do you want me to take you Sir?" His driver asked him.
"Take me to my apartment” Richard replied for deep down he knew that the time was getting closer for him to face his past.
"Okay Mr. Richard” the driver replied happily and for just a second Richard envied his driver, for a man that had not much, he was surely happier than Richard that had wealth and a family name under his belt.
"Oh, by the way you can take the next three weeks off” Richard informed his driver who seemed pretty nervous about what Richard had just said.
"Excuse me Mr. Richard but I really hope that you are not firing me?” His driver asked him and even he himself did not know the answer just then.
"No I'm not firing you, I'll just be on a trip to South Africa and in that period of time you can take time off to enjoy with your family and friends. I on the under hand will be bored out of my mind" Richard confessed. He was not one to sit in long meetings but he would much rather prefer being in an office than seeing Shelly.
Richard got into the car, took out his laptop and began typing away with hopes of finding a very good private detective who would obviously find Shelly for him. Even though it had been years since the pair has spoken, he missed her so much.
"Mañana señor O'Brian” Richard woke up as his house help greeted him, Florence was a woman in her late sixties and she had been working for Richard’s family ever since he was a little boy. She could speak English but occasionally the Spanish side of her always slipped out.
"Good morning to you to Miss Rose, how are you this lovely morning?" Richard smiled as he questioned the older woman.
"I am fine siñor O'Brian” Rose replied with a smile on her face, these days it seemed as though everyone was happy except him.
"Is there any mail for me this morning or anything waiting for me to sign?”
"Not really siñor but your father called screaming on the phone, saying that you should hurry and that your pilot is waiting for you" Rose informed him and this had Richard rolling his eyes, he was set to leave yesterday but he changed his mind at the last meeting, opting to leave today instead.
"Why am I not surprised, he should just—”
"Richard" Someone yelled out and from the sound of the person’s voice, it was definitely Stephan, Richard’s brother. His brother barged into his room with a smile on his face.
What is it with all the happy people? Richard thought to himself.
"Hey big brother, how are you this morning?” Stephen asked his brother Richard, who was still on his bed.
"Fine, I guess,” Richard responded, although not thrilled.
“So you going Asfrica?” Stephen question his brother who stared at him surprised that his brother had no clue of what he was saying.
"No Stephan, its Africa and I'll be leaving in a few minutes time”
"I wish I could go but dad said that I have to attend school”
"What do you mean school? Stephan let I remind you that you are a twenty-seven year old man why do you need school for?”
"Well dad said its, because I have to learn how to be normal like everyone else so that I don't says stupid things like I say all the time” Stephen responded.
Richard hated his father for that. The way his father dehumanized Stephan, Richard wished that his father would accept except the way Stephan was. It took years for Richard to understand his brother’s mind but in the end, Richard learned to live Stephen’s learning disability.
"Okay Stephan when I come back we will look into this thing about you going to school, in the mean time I have a plane to catch so bye” Richard hugged his brother and left for his limo .
"Good morning Mr. O'Brian” His driver greeted him for the last time before his departure.
"Good morning—" Richard searched his head but could not come up with his driver’s name.
"Wesley. My name is Wesley sir," His driver informed him.
"Good take me to my plain please"
Richard felt embarrassed as he got into his limo, Wesley had been working for him for the past five years and he had not once put effort in learning the old man’s name. he decided to push that way from his mind but Shelly popped up.
Now that Richard thought about it, he missed her dearly and this trip might just help them rekindle their old flame.