Writing is an act of fantasy—my whimsy set to linguistic motion; I think—I dream—and then I create. It is a process that still fascinates me. I think the part that intrigues me the most is the little elements of myself that I see embedded in my words—a certain turn of phrase; a particular twist on humor—all particles of my person.
In this third installment of Valdivia: A Family Dynasty sample, I included a portion of a chapter that was one of my favorites to write. I think because it includes a style of humor or more over sarcasm and sharpness that appeals most to my senses. It also features a character, which as I was writing the story, would develop into one of my most complex and favored. I’m calling this section Mr. Millionaire. I hope you enjoy.
Luis Miguel lay down contently on his bed in preparation for his usual afternoon siesta. After speaking with the ranch hand and taking his usual surveillance of the grounds, he had his cook fix him a large and lavish lunch, one that kept him pleasantly full. Rubbing his stomach affectionately, he let out a long, pronounced belch before sighing deeply and taking to his bed.
It was only afternoon still, but the day had been going splendidly. The vision of Aurora today in her pretty yellow dress still excited him. He had made progress, he felt, and was now a few steps closer to becoming more entrenched with her. The thought of her sent an all-too-familiar ache, and as he caressed his growing erection, he thought that it would be a perfect end to his day if he requested his usual girl tonight. Although not nearly as splendid as Aurora, she was good enough—after all, he was a man—and he had his needs.
If she only knew what life awaited her, she would be running to be with him. He was a very rich man—un millonario  several times over—and was a well-respected man in his community. Although not ostentatious, he did host very grand dinner parties from time to time, and his cook’s reputation was well known. On rarer occasions he even hosted La Doña and El Presidente, as both took an invested interest in the maintenance of the land, El Presidente especially. He often would ride out on horseback and survey the property and the crops. He had grown up on a tobacco plantation on the outskirts of Havana, and was well-acquainted with farm life. His approval was a source of great pride for Luis Miguel, as his was not simply the approval of the great lord of this palace—but of the president himself.
This was one of the reasons why the extensive crowing and pronounced arrogance of the indoor staff always amused and baffled him. Sure they slept in nice beds—they had a room—a room—whereas the outdoor staff had homes—he a mansion. While Don Carlo puffed out his chest at his grand apartment, he merely smirked, as he had his own cook, groundskeepers, housekeeper and mansion. They were servants. He was not.
It was true, of course, that the home did not technically belong to him; but it had been in the stead of his family for over ninety years. His grandmother had redecorated the furniture with chairs imported from Paris, and he slept in a grand four-poster oak bed. He drove the most luxurious cars in the world, and had a bank account full of money. And he didn’t have to devote nearly as much time and work to it as they did. Those fools had no idea what true power meant.
If only he could just get Aurora to see that. Instead of spending her day behind the coat tails of La Condesa, ironing and washing her clothes, sacrificing herself so she could be splendid, she could just cock up her feet—and lay on her back every couple of days—and have servants wait on her. She would have her own chauffeur, her own wardrobe from Paris, and be waited on hand and foot. He would also care for her grandmother and mother, too. Sure La Doña may mind the loss of such valued staff; but because of what he was worth to her and Majestad at large, she’d find a way to get over it quickly. There were girls just begging for what he had—but aside from the occasional fuck—he turned them all down. None had the class or beauty of Aurora. She would make a perfect Señora Ortega.
He was so lost in deep thought of hot pursuit and conquest that he nearly jolted when he heard a knock on his door.
“What is it?” he bellowed angrily.
“You have a visitor, Señor Ortega,” his housekeeper replied.
“Well, who is it? You know that I am resting now.”
“Yes, but its Don Anuncio, Señor Ortega.”
Luis Miguel blanched. God, what the hell could he want?
“Tell him I’ll be with him in a few minutes, Olga.”
“Will do, sir.”
A sense of fright crept into Luis Miguel’s spine. Of all those who worked for the Valdivias at Majestad, there were only two who held real power, in his opinion. That was of course himself, and Don Anuncio. While he may indeed just be a simple valet, he was valet to the head of the household, which meant that he and he alone was in charge of overseeing the entire finances of the palace—and to a larger extent—the president’s personal finances. This also meant that it was his job to look into Luis Miguel’s finances and profits, and report everything back to El Presidente. This was something he took especial relish in, as his visits were always random and un-announced. He knew that he was the only one—based off his observations—with the real power to get rid of Luis Miguel, and for this, as well as many other reasons, Luis Miguel detested him with a passion.
Unlike himself, who had come from a well-respected and established family, Anuncio was a nobody, a dirty peasant covered in dust when he first arrived at the palace. His grandfather had picked him up straight off the boat when he first arrived from Spain, and brought him back to work for their family as a groundskeeper. He proved extremely capable at that; but what he proved more capable of was numbers, and ingratiating himself with the right people. El General soon took a shine to him, and had him work for him personally as his chauffeur—and other things…
In Luis Miguel’s opinion, he was a despicable character—an upstart who had usurped his position, and now was in this desperate power struggle with him. Well, two could play that game—he was an Ortega, after all, and would be damned if he let this Spanish peasant get the best of him.
He made his way down toward the grand salon and scanned it to see him. He was confused when he was not there.
“Where is he?”
“In your office, Señor,” Olga replied.
How dare he—enter my office—without my permission! This only burned him more. He would have to give Olga a stern talk later today. Giving her a hard glare, he said nothing as he walked past her, and made his way into his office, where he found Anuncio comfortably seated at one of the chairs by his desk, helping himself to some of his whiskey.
“Well, how wonderful it is to see you, Luis Miguel. Sorry to interrupt you during your usual siesta, Lord knows you need all the beauty sleep you can get. I figured that since things are going to get real busy at the palace, now is as good a time as ever to catch up. Hope you don’t mind; I helped myself to some of your whiskey. Scottish…really good stuff.”
Luis Miguel was beet-red with rage. He felt he was about to explode. Slamming the door behind him, he made his way to his own seat.
“What is it you want, Anuncio?”
Anuncio smiled. “Well, I just thought that now was as good a time as ever to go over a few points, some details and discrepancies. By the way, spectacular car you have out there. Is that a Cadillac V-16?”
“Yes. What discrepancies?”
“Oh, nothing too major. You see, I was just going over my books, you know, doing a basic audit, and I had a few questions on certain things.”
“In regards to what?”
“Well, for instance, your estimate as to the amount of profits that the Valdivias have made, combined last year from both the farm and coffee, was 5,167,000 Bs. Is this correct?”
“Yes, that is correct.”
“Now, since you are contractually obligated to ten percent of that, it means that you would have taken in 516,700 Bs. Correct?”
“That’s a handsome profit.”
“One earned, Don Anuncio, as it is I who is responsible for the Valdivia’s profits. You would not have food on your plate or money to polish those shoes of yours, if not for me.”
Anuncio chuckled. “I suppose you are egotistical enough to believe that, as if the Valdivias are not sitting on top of banks and sugar cane factories, kickback money for all those oil contracts, silver mines in Mexico and emerald mines in Columbia. But you may go ahead and believe that your cow shit and coffee beans are what’s putting food on my plate, if that’s what makes you feel better about yourself.”
Luis Miguel reddened with embarrassment.
“But now, speaking of living grandly, you do live rather splendidly yourself, collecting off Valdivia profits.”
“This is earned, Señor—what are you getting at?”
“Well, I find it strange how it is that you are able to report the same consistent profits, year after year, when from all my research, profits have been going down—considerably so—around 10 to 15 percent in some instances. How is it then that you can keep producing such spectacular numbers?”
Luis Miguel began to sweat.
“I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“Indeed you don’t. Well, let me remind you of a few facts. Although you live rather handsomely, all of your property—and I do mean all—belongs to El Presidente and La Doña. You see, in order for you to maintain your lifestyle, you are contractually obligated to consistently generate revenue and take your income based off the actual profits. If you fail to produce, or are found to be reaping more than you sowed, then your home and goods will be forfeited, and any money that La Familia deemed was lost to them, you are required to pay back with interest from your profits, something which would make a considerable dent in your fortunes.”
“I have made earnings! It’s because of me that the farm has been doing far better than it ever has in generations!”
“Si si, this I have to give you. You have indeed turned that pile of manure into a working, profitable finca. My congratulations on this success. Funny thing is, all the world knows the real money is in coffee, and while everyone is making a killing on that, you’re busy massaging cows to cover your abominable losses.”
“How dare you level such base accusations at me! I’ll have you know that both La Doña AND El Presidente have approved and rewarded me greatly for my innovations. As for coffee, yes it is profitable; but not as much as you think. Between the Brazilians and the Columbians, the Venezuelan market has taken a hit—the competition has taken a huge bite into our profits! Surely your maldito research has shown this!”
“So then you admit that the profits that you stated were inaccurate, as you clearly have admitted to the fact that the coffee market has taken a hit.”
“I….I…” Luis Miguel stammered, “I earned every cent from what I earned! If it was not for me, the Valdivias would not be able to have their fabulous banquets, their grand anniversary celebrations, or their over-the-top quinceañera for their Princesa!”
Anuncio laughed loudly. “Wow, I’m trying to figure out if you’re simply that naïve, that arrogant, or just that stupid. Judging from what I have known of you over the years, I’m going to bet that you’re just plain stupid. Listen, amigo, let me impart on you a few facts. One of the perks of being president is that you can create laws. Some of the laws can even be created such that all of the expenses of your household can be paid by the state because as head of the state—you are expected to represent the nation. This means that the money comes from the nation’s coffers—meaning the entire nation of Venezuela—is paying for El Presidente’s banquets. Notice how, although La Doña was rather lavish before Arsenio became president, it has since almost quadrupled, since it is now law that this should be funded by the government. You think 5,000 military personnel and a banquet for 2,000 could be paid for by what you provide? Mi amigo, you wouldn’t be able to shit out enough coffee beans in the world to cover those expenses.”
“I earned what was mine!” was all Luis Miguel could respond.
Anuncio, clearly amused, looked at him as if he was merely a foolish child.
“You may want to believe so, my friend; but if you reported one thing, and in reality the Valdivias earned 774,000 less, that means that you robbed them of 77,400 Bs. This is not something they would take kindly to.”
“You can’t prove it.”
Anuncio smirked. “Don’t suppose me to be the same type of fool you are. In all honesty, you’re such a blatantly stupid thief. You see, at least your grandfather was much better at it—he robbed the people outright, and as long as he did it out in the open and included El General, he could stuff as much money down his fat pockets without interference as possible. Your father was more discrete; but you, my friend, are just plain greedy. It’s lucky for you that the Valdivias have a particular affliction, whereas they can collect money, but not count it. I, on the other hand, don’t have that problem, as I count just fine.”
Luis Miguel, shoulders sagging, felt utterly defeated.