Enemy. Such An Ominous Word

Enemy. Such an ominous word. But appropriate. No matter how long she lived, Faye would never fully understand why those she had deeply loved, appeared to be almost eager to find reason to hate her. They had been so easily duped and persuaded by bold-faced lies and manipulations. Like a diabolical artist, Damian meticulously labored for five years to sculpt an image of her as professionally ignorant, greedy, hurtful and a wholly hateful influence on the Duncan Family, personally and in business. Edith and Enid agreed, eager to jump on the bandwagon. They had known all along. Faye, that arrogant bitch, was a despicable threat to the family’s order and happiness.

Even Enid’s husband Rodney remained silent. The day he asked Faye and Michael to meet him for lunch at the Good Earth CafĂ© in Larkspur Landing, he swore them both to secrecy about the rendezvous. Rodney was miserable and felt trapped. The Duncan family web of deceit, competition, jealously and manipulation swirled around him.

When Rod walked into the restaurant, Michael and Faye could see something was terribly wrong. He usually looked impeccably groomed. But on that afternoon, his shirt was un-tucked. His jet black hair disheveled. His dark Hawaiian eyes were red-rimed and filled with desolation. Faye wondered if he had been crying.

Rod spoke from the heart, telling Faye and Michael how much he regretted the day he moved back from his childhood home in Hawaii to accept a position with the Duncan family firm. Enid had been adamantly unbending on the matter. Now, Rod felt coerced, trapped, used and disrespected. His five wonderful children were still so young, he couldn’t leave. He loved each one of them immeasurably.

Michael and Faye said almost nothing. Rod just needed someone to listen,

“Michael, I know you are a Duncan. I’m sorry if I offend you. I know Enid is your sister.”

“Rod, it’s OK. I’m sorry you are so unhappy. As you’re well aware, we’re not the most popular people with my sister.”

Before picking up his cup of coffee, Michael reached across the table and gave Rod a supportive pat on the forearm. Rod looked at Michael with such a deep sadness, “If you knew what Edith, Enid, Stan and Norman said about the two of you. About your brother, Dan. And your sister, Molly. Well, let’s just say, it’s none too flattering. Damian stirs the pot at every opportunity. He particularly targets your mother with his seductive charm. She giggles like a school girl around him when he calls or drops by the office. I see right through it. Damian is superficial, glib and manipulative. He has learned to play the perfect victim for your parent’s benefit, sharing how frustrated and upset he is about working with Dan. How he struggles financially, because of it. Then, he talks about the joint venture work. How you both know nothing. Do nothing. All you want is money. Always, asking him for money. I shouldn’t be telling you this. But they all do it. They viciously dissect one another, behind each other’s backs. Constantly! I’ve become a character in a malicious soap opera.”

Rod took a long, restorative sip of icy beer. Faye noticed his hand was trembling. Rod bowed his head in despair, “Speaking of victims, or should I say first-class sissies. You’re looking at one. I feel completely victimized. Not by Damian, but by Enid and your parents. They convinced me I had a bright and financially rewarding future with G.W. Duncan Painting. I gave up my career opportunities in Maui based on their promises and, of course, to make Enid happy.”

Rod’s voice revealed a spark of resentment, “Now, there’s a challenge! Nothing is ever good enough for her. Nothing. Enid always wants more. More money, more status, more control. I’m so tired of trying to make her happy. She and your mother are like Siamese twins, planning their lives. They see me as a necessary evil, to be endured. I’m a pawn in Enid’s ‘master plan.’ A sperm donor. I’m a prop on the stage of her life. Not OUR life. HER life.”

Rod’s face was a portrait of grief, anger and guilt, “Michael, did you know your dad and brothers didn’t say one word to me when they were planning their exit from G. W. Duncan? Not a god damn word! My own father-in-law talks me into leaving Hawaii to come work with him. Then, he leaves the company! Your dad had the arrogance to tell me I would be happy and have a better future with G. W. Duncan, rather than joining him, Norman and Stan. This is after he tells me how much he hates the business partners at G. W. Duncan. HATES THEM! Does he think I’m that stupid? Obviously, he does.

“Then, when Enid convinced Edith I needed to be involved with the new family company – Barry Duncan and Sons, I get a phone call from your brother Stan. We meet. He offers me a job but makes it very clear. VERY CLEAR. I will only be an employee of the company. I will never be given the opportunity to become a partner. His hubris, his arrogance made me sick. This is a guy who, like Damian, rides on others shirt-tails to success, yet, they think their wealth is self-made. What a joke!

You want to know the most revolting part of this whole damn drama? I’ve gone along. With all of it! I’m manipulated and controlled by Enid, your parents, your brothers. It’s as though I’ve left my balls in a jar by the door every time I go home or into the office. I tell myself I do it for my kids. And, I do. To leave now would impact them for the rest of their lives. So, I’ll wait until they’ve grown up. Maybe things will get better. I’m just not sure how much longer I can take it. Life can really suck! I’m not sure of anything, anymore.”

It’s funny how forgotten memories appear at the most unexpected moments. Faye hadn’t thought about that lunch with Rod in years. Years. Time, the baffling system used to distinguish events, continued to perplex and mystify her. A sudden, unexpected, realization hit her like a lightening bolt. It has taken me more than twenty years to peel away, layer by layer, the filters that coloured and protected my perceptions about being a beloved member of Michael’s family. Like Rod, I was a necessary evil. It was all a sham. All of it! A twenty year deception exacts an awesome personal price.

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