Chapter 18: Brad
Nassau, The Bahamas - June 1994
“They want Harold.” David Irving said when he appeared in Brad’s office doorway.
“My Dad? Why?”
“They said he was the one who made the promises. He’s the one they want to hear from.”
Bradley Hanna sighed and re-tied his tie for the third time. These clients, a corporate conglomerate looking for a hotel, or hotels, to renovate, could mean more to the Hanna Group than even David knew. If his dad’s story were to be believed, and few could be, he’d met them at a real estate conference in Key West. Supposedly, he’d impressed them with his relation to THE Ulysses Hanna. The man who made The Bahamas the massive tourist destination it was today. More likely, his dad had impressed them with unfulfillable promises of dirt-cheap land with an abundance of dirt-cheap workers. Neither of which had been dirt-cheap since Uly’s time. His Dad had one bourbon and slipped fifty years back in time.
Back then, Ulysses Hanna had been the only game in town. If you didn’t buy your vacation home or land to build on from Ulysses, you wouldn’t get very far with anything else you needed on the island. Ulysses had owned the government, the Bay Street Boys, and every single contractor. Even Ulysses didn’t understand that times have changed. Everything was different now. Instead of the Hanna Group being the only game in town, they were one of twenty. Some real estate upstarts were foreign interlopers. Some were old families who’d grown tired of seeing Ulysses winning everything and decided they deserved some coconuts. All the companies were aggressive, talented, and well-funded, which left Bradley struggling more than anyone in the family knew.
“Where is he?” Brad asked with little hope that David could tell him. David and Harold had once been best friends, but even David had drifted away.
“I can give you a list of where he might be?” David said. “I can keep them busy for an hour with the intro presentation, but not much longer.”
A thundering voice interrupted their conversation. “Keep them busy. Why?”
Brad’s heart sank. His grandfather Ulysses stood in the doorframe. Uly’s regular expression of utter distaste reflected in the mirror over Brad’s shoulder.
“No reason, Grandfather Uly,” Brad said. “We just need to find Dad.”
“Harold! What’s he got to do with this?” His grandfather strode into the room and made himself comfortable behind Brad’s desk, which used to be his desk. He still thought it was. Uly rested his eagle-headed cane against the filing cabinet and reached down to tug his vest into place over his expanding belly. At 98 years old, the man was unstoppable. He walked, ate, and drank like he was only twenty. And he was still a royal pain in the ass in the office.
“He was the initial contact. The salesmen.” David said.
Ulysses exploded into guffaws. “That boy couldn’t sell ice to an Eskimo. He’s a worthless drunk. You don’t need him, son.” He said to Bradley. “Go on out there and sell.”
“They’re asking for him, Grandfather. He made… promises.”
“Hell! Now that’s a problem. That boy only makes promises he can’t keep. Like the ones he made me. He promised he’d run this damn company and marry well. He failed in both.”
Brad winced. Truthfully, he wasn’t his mother’s biggest fan. She’d bundled him off to boarding school at twelve years old and had barely spoken a word to him since unless she was asking for money. She wasn’t what you’d call maternal. But she was his mother, and he loved her. He hated when Uly insulted her, which was often because to defend her would be suicide.
“I know a few places I can check, Grandfather. I can run out and get back before David finishes the intro. Unless…” He noted his grandfather’s frown but risked it, anyway. “Unless you want to meet with them instead?”
Ulysses cackled again and grabbed his cane to push himself up from the chair. He stood before Brad and waved the stick in the air. He was wobbling so much Brad grasped his hands into fists to stop himself from reaching out to steady the old man. Touching him would definitely earn him a cane whack. “This company could belong to you soon, Bradley Hanna. You are the one who has to prove himself, not me. I’ve proven myself plenty over the last ninety-eight years and will have the rest I deserve. Close this deal without me or your father, and show me you’ve got what it takes.”
With that, Ulysses left the room, sucking all the air out with him. David cleared his throat.
“Should we try it, then?” David said.
Bradley shook his head. It was a losing game he’d played before. His Dad gave clients a list of promises Brad couldn’t make good on. With his status and fame, Ulysses might talk the clients down, fulfill some promises, and dismiss others. But Ulysses wouldn’t help. Brad would lose this client, and it would all be on him. His father would never appear to take the blame, and as for Ulysses, there was no such thing as blame for him, only for everyone in his orbit.
Brad sighed. “Let’s try it, then.”