“That all said,” Jenny’s dad continued, “I made sure that you and your mom had everything I could get you. I made sure to be in the right place at the right time, and when I wasn’t I moved like hell to get there.”
“So everything was planned out for us?” Jenny asked, a little note of confrontation hiding behind her tone.
“Well… Truth be told, making a fortune isn’t all careful planning. When Korea started to reunify, I’d had a little bit set up to take advantage of that. But I was able to move big at just the right moment and was able to afford going almost anywhere after that.”
“And yet we were living with Nana.”
“Because there wasn’t a hell of a lot of ‘almost anywhere’ left by then,” he protested. “I did very well, but that only got you so far then, and when all the firewalls went up because people were scared, that made it tougher to do what I wanted.”
“But so many other people were able to afford a way out,” said Jenny. “All the people who bought out the West Side, all of them.”
“Really? You should have seen them before their money took all those hits. Most of them used to hold pricey condos in Manhattan, houses on the shore, personal incorporations in Delaware; by the time they came to town, they lost way more in terms of personal fortune than the value of whole companies I traded in before everything went to hell. These were much bigger fishes than we were, and if there was one constant that stayed true when nothing else did, it was that the big money could always take enough hits to come out all right.”
“So the rich that bought out the West Side and ruined my town, they were technically poor?”
“For them, buying up Buffalo was a step down,” he replied. “They were there because it was cheap, and it didn’t hurt that they still had water and livable days. By the time things looked desperate, they’d all gotten there and taken it for themselves.”
“Are you saying you didn’t make us West Siders because you didn’t get there in time?”
“I never wanted to go that route, because being a rich American meant very little compared to being rich in a country that still worked. I came here to give you and your mother everything they couldn’t get any more back there.”
“But you never brought us up here!” Jenny replied, on the verge of shouting. “You never-”
“Your mother refused to come!” he replied, shouting back.
There was an uneasy silence in the room as both of them settled back into their chairs defensively.
He replied first, slowly and steadily, “She didn’t want to come. She didn’t want to bring you north. I had it all here, I laid out everything to bring you here, and she, she wouldn’t… couldn’t… the moment was coming, and I started to lay out how she could do it. I even offered to send a crew to pick her up, armed guards, your own boat, everything I could think of to get you both here.”
Jenny just stared at him, unsure how to respond…
All content Copyright © 2012 James Ryan