Late one afternoon in the office of investor Romain Perrin, his secretary buzzes him on the intercom.
“Mr. Perrin, there’s a man here to see you. He says he’s your brother.”
“What? Marlow? Here?”
Romain pauses momentarily, weighing his options. He sighs.
“Show him in, Aubrey.”
A few seconds later, the door to his office opens, and Romain finds himself staring at a mirror image of his own face, framed by shaggy black hair.
“What do you want, Marlow?”
“A fine way to greet your own brother, Romain.”
“It’s been my experience that whenever you show up on my doorstep, it’s not good news. Why are you here? Not that it’s all that difficult to figure out. You’ve run out of money again, right?”
Marlow takes a seat, uninvited.
“Not exactly. And what difference does it make? Father left us more than we could possibly spend in a lifetime.”
"You seem to be making a pretty determined effort.”
“I’d be making a better one if you weren’t holding the purse strings, brother. I still don’t understand why he felt it necessary to give you control of the family fortune just because you had the good fortune to exit the womb first.”
“You know damn well there is more to it than that. Father was many things, but ‘fool’ was not among them. He had plenty of years to witness your profligate ways before he died, and he was well aware that the estate would be drained dry within a few years if he let you get your hands on it.”
Marlow’s face darkens in anger, but his brother is his only access point to the family money and he forces himself to keep his tone light when he replies.
“As it happens, I am going through a dry spell, but I’m sure that will turn around soon. I’m here on another matter.”
Romain waits silently for his brother to reveal the reason for his visit, knowing full well that Marlow would not have come to him for any good reason.
If Marlow waits for Romain to respond, he is doomed to disappointment.
Finally, toying with the flowers on Romain's desk and avoiding his brother's eyes, he comes out with it.
“I need to find a doctor willing to perform an abortion.”
Romain’s eyebrows rise. “Gone and gotten yourself pregnant, have you?” he says, sarcastically.
Marlow frowns. “No, but I seem to have knocked up a little chit I met at a wedding. What girl isn’t on birth control in this day and age? She thinks I’m her ‘boyfriend’ and that I’m going to marry her.” He rolls his eyes.
Romain closes his and mentally counts to ten.
“Does she want an abortion?”
“What difference does it make? I’ll talk her into it.” He shrugs. “Silly little wench will do anything I tell her to.” He grins slyly. “Which is how we got to this point in the first place.”
Romain keeps a tight grip on his temper, knowing full well from years of experience dealing with his brother that recriminations would be pointless. He sighs.
“Send her to see me. I’ll talk to her.”
“What about the doctor?”
“I said I’ll talk to her. If she’s agreeable, I’ll contact you and we can take it from there.”
Marlow rises. “Great. Now . . . as long as I’m here, what about that advance on my ‘allowance’?”
Silently, Romain reaches into his desk drawer and grabs his checkbook.
He scratches out a check in the amount of five thousand dollars and hands it wordlessly to his brother, who smiles as he folds it and stuffs it into his back pocket.
Marlow salutes Romain with two fingers and saunters out of the office.
Romain sits back in his chair, shaking his head. How can two people who shared a womb together for nine months be so different? I’m sorry, Father. I’m doing what I can, but Marlow . . . is Marlow.
To be continued . . .