Retire Mechanical engineer. Student at California State university Channel Island studiyingAbout Me

July 27, 2015


Payback by Behcet Kaya

Wealthy Lowry Totenham looked back on his life and smiled at the pauper with no formal training who came to America with nothing more than big dreams.

He remembered the modest home he came from, a little shanty, one of many homesteads on the slopes of the hills of Istanbul, Turkey aiming desperately for the genteel yet achieving a sordid melancholy.

He compared those memories with his current home, a large brick mansion, with its spacious rooms and five acres of wooded land. He chuckled with satisfaction.

He thought back to the meals his mother made for him, nothing more than a little pilaf and some boiled nectarines, not even enough to fill his hungry stomach.

There was no comparison to those memories and the meals that Maria, his Bolivian cook, now prepared. He employed another cook to prepare Japanese dishes to satisfy his beautiful wife's palate.

Few people knew the details of his background; the fact that he was one of four brothers, or the fact that his father had been a doorman at a five-star hotel. His father worked long hours and sent his eldest son to college where he studied law and became a prosecuting attorney in the Turkish judicial system.

The younger two sons worked in a metal factory.

Lowry, without the necessary grades to be accepted into college, learned about life on the streets of Istanbul.

He was an envious and self-centered young man, his jealousy primarily directed toward his older brother, who he tormented whenever possible. On more than one occasion, he stole his brother's prized toys and hid them, never revealing their whereabouts.

Coming to America with less than $400 in his pocket, he worked odd jobs, drifting from one to another. He enrolled in a junior college, but failed every class he took. When he began dating the girl who would become his first wife, he was in a desperate situation.

Having entered the country with forged documents, including his student visa, the authorities were about to deport him.

Using his persuasive techniques, he talked the young woman into marrying him.

The daughter of a Baptist minister, she had been raised in a sheltered environment and didn't have any inkling of the reality of Lowry's life or of his extensive wheeling and dealing.

She only knew how proud she was of him for starting a new life in a strange country and becoming a successful salesman. After their marriage, he obtained his official work permit, and was hired by a businessman who owned a furniture company.

During his travels, he met and wooed other women, feeling no guilt for his behavior. He eventually started an affair with a most beautiful brunette. He wooed her, just as he had his first wife. When she eventually found out, she divorced him and he soon married his gorgeous new love.

Lowry worked his way up in the furniture company, using all the skills he had learned on the streets. The owner wasn't profiting as he thought he should be and couldn't figure out why. He didn't have any idea that Lowry was doing side deals, selling company products under his own name.

When the owner asked Lowry to take over, he made his pitch that the business wasn't successful, and persuaded the owner to sell the company for a ridiculously low price. His in-laws were more than happy to lend him the money.

After all, this successful gentleman from Turkey had married their only daughter, and was making her very happy.

His second marriage ended just as his first one had, and he was now married to a beautiful Japanese-American. Lowry and his current wife had a boy of four and his wife was pregnant with twins due soon.

His two grown daughters from his second marriage to the gorgeous brunette lived in a five-bedroom house Lowry had purchased for them. On Sundays, it was his wish that the two daughters and their boyfriends have dinner together at his home, and his wishes were never ignored.

Occasionally, he would reserve a large table at one of his favorite local restaurants for the entire family. His daughters knew exactly what he liked. He always came to the table last, after everyone else had been seated.

Indeed, he had come a long way. He no longer cared about going home; in fact he hadn't visited Istanbul in nearly ten years. He preferred Vancouver or Tokyo, or any other fancy and exotic place he and his lovely wife pleased.

He no longer knew anyone in Istanbul. His elder brother had been assassinated by a terrorist group and his two younger brothers were married and living in eastern Turkey. There was nothing left between them; in fact, they bored him.

He wasn't a cruel man by any means.

He had decided to help his brothers as long as his mother was alive. For a while, he sent money at the Ramadan holiday. But after his mother died, he stopped sending money. And he knew, when the time came to retire, he had no intention of going back home to Istanbul.

He had seen too many Turkish men do that and knew how often it was a failure.

Lowry often bragged about his life in America, bragged about his beautiful Japanese wife and his successful business with over one-hundred employees. He never mentioned the fact that, to take full control of the furniture company, he had ended up in court suing his former in-laws.

He and his wife traveled extensively, enjoying a 'jet set' life.

He did admit he despised the Canadian system, though, having quickly found out that he couldn't boss the Canadians around. When he tried, they ignored and frustrated him.

In his business trips to France, he became infuriated with the French because they refused to speak English to him. He soon realized how happy he was at home and with his prominent status in the community of Wildwood.

He recently opened an office in Las Vegas and hired several employees to work the area. He also invested in a penthouse condominium, complete with expensive paintings and a wine cellar filled with fine wines.

Money making had become a mental exercise for him. He ignored any type of physical exercise with the excuse there was simply no time, even though he was now alarmingly overweight.

His most recent business venture was completed at an expensive luncheon at a Las Vegas hotel, where he closed the deal on a three-million dollar sale. As he retrieved his Mercedes and headed home, he felt in excellent humor.

"I did do very well," he muttered to himself. The food had been first-rate, and the thousand dollars he had paid for an hour of sexual satisfaction had been more than worth it. People in Vegas paid attention to him.

As he drove out of town he realized how good it felt to be alive, a feeling he rarely acknowledged.

Several miles outside of Los Angeles, he passed a cemetery and noticed a funeral procession. He thought he saw some of his employees walking behind the elaborate casket.

Strange thoughts filled his mind.

He had always believed that life was survival of the fittest, and that a good life was for the living. Those who were not fit to live deserved to die. He firmly believed that it took a strong head and a fine constitution to deserve the finer things in life.

He thought about two of his friends; one was an artist and the other a writer. What fools they were to struggle to have enough money just to survive.

'At least no one ever thought of me as a fool.'

A feeling of good-natured contempt for the gibbering dead entered his head, followed by the disturbing question of why his employees were here at this funeral. He stopped his car, got out, opened the trunk and found his binoculars. He took a good look and confirmed his suspicions.

He got back into his car, drove on into town and hurriedly entered his office. His assistant, Bryan, looked up in surprise.

"Bryan, who died? Do you know?"

"Died? Um, no, sir…"

Lowry was more than puzzled. He called one of his gophers.

Owen arrived. "Sir, you sent for me?"

"Owen, I just passed a funeral procession out at Forest Lawn. Go over to the cemetery and see who died."

While Owen was gone, Lowry distractedly signed several letters and checked his emails, trying to keep busy. When the gopher returned and revealed that there hadn't been anyone there to ask, Lowry became agitated and quite annoyed. He didn't like things to happen of which he knew nothing about.

He called his older daugher, but Charlette came back after her search with the same information. There had been no funeral.

"I saw what I saw." He didn’t know why the sight of the funeral made him so uncomfortable, and he tried to put it out of his mind. He finished his work and was ready to head home to spend some time with his seven-year-old son, Altay.

Thoughts of the funeral consumed his mind. What the hell? He called Forest Lawn himself and talked to the overseer.

"No, sir. There was no funeral today. A very rare day, I must add.

Lowry hung up, incredulous. "But, damn it, I saw it myself," were the words on the tip of his tongue. On the way home, he drove back by the cemetery. In his mind he could still see the hearse, the limousines lined up one after the other, and the long funeral procession.

What did it mean?

He could feel his heart beating erratically. He felt strange, but managed to pull himself together.

It was all nonsense.

If there hadn't been a funeral, it must have been a hallucination. The best thing to do would be to go see his doctor tomorrow. He did have a history of ulcers and high blood pressure and took several medications to control the symptoms, and it wouldn't hurt just to check.

He thought of calling his writer friend. For some reason, whenever he was troubled, he would call either his artist friend or his writer friend, even though he firmly believed they both were losers.

To his way of thinking, his friends were there for the convenience of helping him find peace of mind. But this time he resisted, not wanting to reveal his suspicions that he might have been hallucinating.

'Hallucinations be damned!'

He arrived home and told Maria to bring him a glass of red wine. He swallowed it in two gulps and had another. He tried to distract himself by playing with his son and it did help. He began to feel more like himself.

He was sure there couldn't be much the matter with him. When he went to bed he sank immediately into a sound sleep.

Just before midnight, he woke from a nightmare. He had dreamed of the funeral precession. He was sure he had seen it. It was absurd to say it was a hallucination when he had seen it with his own eyes.

When he heard the rattle of the front door and Maria leaving the house, it broke the stillness of the night so harshly that it made him jump out of his skin.

He felt terror and a strange yearning to go home. He hated America. Why had he ever come? He was panic-stricken now and knew he must make arrangements to go to Istanbul.

'Oh, God! I don’t want to die in this country. If I were only safely back in Turkey.'

He wanted to go home and see his brothers. If he had to die, he wanted to die in Istanbul. He couldn't bear the thought of being buried among all those mixed nationalities.

Then he remembered something his writer friend had once said. "What does it matter where you are buried? If you are dead, who cares?"

He thought about how logical it sounded, but then asked himself why he was so terrified. He felt the all-encompassing aloneness of the big house. Why had he agreed to send his wife to Toronto to visit her sister?

He needed her!

He got out of bed, sat at his desk and scribbled a note to his assistant, Patrick, that he must go home to Turkey and his family.

The next morning Maria found the note clutched in his hand. He had fallen to the floor, stone dead.