Chapter 33: Brad
Nassau, Bahamas - 1994
Today, Brad didn’t have access to the chair behind the desk. He wondered if he would ever have access to that chair again after this disastrous day. Brad was wary of his grandfather, and not usually afraid. But Ulysses was on fire today. Uly was so worked up that Brad was worried about his blood pressure. Years ago, when his father was behind the desk, his grandfather would have been pacing the floor, hands waving and spit flying, but Ulysses couldn’t pace anymore. The lack of mobility didn’t quell the anger, though, and Brad watched his grandfather’s face turn a sickly shade of purple. He glanced across at David Irving. Should they get him a doctor? David ignored him and kept his eyes on Ulysses. Brad’s future function in The Hanna Group was currently hanging in the balance, and David didn’t want guilt by association.
“Why was his name still on the accounts?” Ulysses lifted his came and thrust it across the desk toward Brad.
“He still worked here, Grandfather. He’s a consultant. And he’s family. Why would I remove him from the accounts?” Brad stepped back away from the cane. It couldn’t reach him, but the way Ulysses was flailing made him worry it would slip from his grip.
“I told you to fire the man! Did I not, Bradley? David?” Uly looked toward David, who nodded up and down like his head was on a string and someone was yanking it.
“You did, Sir,” David said. “And we were planning on it, weren’t we, Brad?”
Brad looked at David, confusion stirring in his gut. They’d never discussed firing his father. Had Ulysses told David, and David kept it quiet? It would make sense. His father and David went way back. David’s family and theirs went way back. David’s father had been a good friend of Ulysses’ before he died.
“Grandfather,” Brad said, stepping forward and placing a calm hand on the raised cane. “I could never fire Dad. He’s family. I know he gets an allowance like everyone does, but he also needs a purpose to keep him out of trouble.”
Ulysses guffawed. The laugh became a hacking cough, and David rushed forward to hand Uly a glass of water.
“Keep him out of trouble? Is that what this is, Bradley? No trouble? The man has drained your, and note I say your, accounts of every penny.” Ulysses said. “I would say that’s trouble. Not only that, but the boy disappeared without a trace. Even my contacts can’t find him. Are you aware of how dangerous this is if the news gets out? We’ll have clients running for hills, bills not getting paid, deals falling apart.”
“I know, Sir,” Brad said. He was choosing respect over familiarity at this point because the next question was difficult. “Are you willing to provide an infusion? Just until we get this sorted out?”
Ulysses took a long sip of his water and looked at his watch. He didn’t answer Brad’s question, and when he spoke, his voice was so soft Brad and David had to step toward the desk to hear him.
“I thought you’d be the one, Bradley. I did. Your mother insisted you get the best schooling, and I supplied it. I handed over the reins of The Hanna Group to you because I wanted my life’s work in the hands of my family. But I see now I may have made a mistake. You’re too soft, Bradley. The family has walked all over you. You even hand out your own earnings when your irresponsible siblings can’t manage on an allowance fit for royalty.”
Ulysses looked up, and instead of the anger raging through his system and clear on his face, Brad saw only disappointment. He was a disappointment.
“I’m sorry, Grandfather.”
“Well,” his grandfather stood from the desk and hobbled toward the office door. He gave David’s shoulder a pat. “It looks like I have a lot of thinking to do. I will call in the lawyers this afternoon and have a long conversation. They will remove Harold’s name from the accounts immediately, and you’ll find a million in the account tomorrow. But that’s it, Bradley. One million is all you’ll get. And no family allowances. Not until we find him and get that money back. Everyone must have a stake in this. Time to close ranks.”
The old man left the room, slamming the door after him. All Brad could hear was David’s rapid breathing. He watched as David rubbed the shoulder that Uly had patted. What had that pat meant? Did Uly want David to take over?
Brad had a lot of love and respect for David Irving. They’d worked together a long time and known each other for years. The families were intertwined. But David wasn’t a Hanna. David didn’t miss an opportunity to comment on the family payouts. They were legal, of course. The Hanna family were all shareholders, but David thought they were outrageously high. He’d once suggested that the allowance payouts should happen annually based on the prior year’s performance. It wasn’t feasible. Stopping the Hanna allowances would mean they would all have to get jobs, including his mother.
Brad was the only Hanna in the family who had ever worked. He’d worked to distract him from his loneliness during school breaks in Scotland. He’d worked on the fishing boats during the summer. He’d risen before dawn every day to join the motley crews of weather-beaten, salt-faced old men and their prematurely aged sons. During his University years, he’d worked in a bakery. Then he’d been up at 4:00 a.m. to knead dough and burn his forearm on oven trays before he headed out to his classes. He never told his family about his jobs. They wouldn’t understand.
“Uly’s right,” Brad said. “It’s time to close ranks. If word gets out he’s missing and taken money, then there will be no company for me to lead… or you.” He was ready to measure David’s reaction.
“Me?” David said. “Why would I be the one to lead? This is a Hanna company. Always has been and always will be. I know my place.”
“I disappointed my grandfather. He may take drastic action.”
“So let’s find your father,” David said. “I might know where he is.”
“You know where he is? Why didn’t you tell me?” Brad headed for the bar. Today he needed a scotch. He lifted the bottle to David, who nodded.
“I said I might know where he is. There’s been some gossip around the Yacht Club about the company he keeps. I mostly ignore Yacht Club gossip, but perhaps I shouldn’t have been so hasty.”
David accepted the scotch Brad handed over.
“You’ll go tonight?”
“Yes. I will.” David sipped at the liquid and winced as he swallowed. He’d never been a drinker. “And you’re right. We need to circle the wagons. Your family won’t be thrilled about the allowances stopping, but perhaps it might spur them into action, or at least put them on the same team.”
“Thanks to Ulysses, we can still run the company, and no one needs to be the wiser,” Brad said. “I wish we didn’t have to tell family either.”
“You don’t need to worry about Toni, at least,” David said. “That’s the sort of gossip that ruins a social life. Elizabeth should be fine. What about Christopher?”
“I’ll take care of Christopher,” Brad said. “He’s only interested in one thing, and I have some savings. He’ll keep quiet if I can prop him up while the allowances are on hold.”
David left the room, and Brad sat in the chair opposite his desk. He couldn’t bring himself to sit in his desk chair with Ulysses having so recently occupied it. Was he the only one worried about his father? Ulysses couldn’t give a shit. David was too focused on the company. His mother hated his dad’s guts half the time. But his dad had a lot of money in his hands and was easily capable of getting in with the wrong people. The kind of people for whom eight hundred thousand dollars was worth a life. He’d see Christopher first and then spend an evening at the Yacht Club with David. He hated both clubs and rarely attended either, but he needed to hear these rumors for himself.