A short story based on Possessions by Kevin Schlereth

I remember writing this short story back in 2014. There was a time when I wrote some short stories based on some music I listened to. One day, I wrote a story based on my friend Kevin Schlereth’s song “Possessions” from his album “Don’t Die! Please Stop Dying!”. It is a powerful acoustic song about exactly what one would expect given the title. I thought about writing a situation that alluded to the themes of the lyrics.

It’s 6:30 AM on my iPhone as the alarm constantly buzzes. I then wake up, take a shower, dress in my Versace suit, wear my Gucci shoes, make some breakfast, and to start my usual 10-hour grind at the bank on every given weekday. Can’t say I can really complain about the hustle and bustle in my everyday life. Who cares about the clutter of things in my house when I can live in luxury? I get to drive myself to work in my Murceleiago while my subordinates cruise around in Passats at best.

Ah, here I am at my second home: Fenton Trust Union. I stroll in.

“Good morning everyone!” I exclaim with the confidence someone in my position should have.

“Why good morning to you, Mr. Kennelworth. How’s everything going with you?” my secretary June replied.

“You know, the usual. The fact that I’m usually cheery on days like today.”

“That’s good. It’s quite a pleasure working for you.”

I waved back at her and the many faceless workers that greeted me as I walked into my office. It is an ideal place all to myself. My humble workspace is second only to the main floor in terms of size.

As soon as I walked in, I saw my Italian marble coffee table, Persian throw rug, and my immense Pergola desk overseeing the luxurious items in the room. A bank manager like myself has earned all of these things. People who haven’t worked with me for very long don’t realize that I started at the lower rung, yet I managed to scramble my way to the top, and these are all my trophies to show for it. Who cares about me throwing people under the bus to achieve all of these prizes? It’s every person for themselves in the business world. More people need to realize this fact and deal with it.

After many meetings and the occasional interview with some prospective employees, I headed back home in my Lamborghini. I unlocked the door with my touch screen lock, and went inside to greet the rest of my family. My lovely wife Shana just finished baking some Peking duck with a side of caviar and avocado slices to serve everyone. My boys Hunter and Archer were too busy playing on their gold-plated iPads while listening to their music with Beats headphones to notice anything outside of their screens, but I know that they are appreciative of the wonderful things I give to them. They’ll probably play on their PS4s after dinner, but I know that they enjoy being in a home where anyone can get whatever they want, whenever they want it. This is what success feels like to me. It’s a good life accentuated by several trophies showing that I care about my family’s well-being.

The next day has the same routine, except I decided to wear my Prada lace-ups today. I greet all my employees and head straight to my office. All my prizes are there, and they all look just as nice as ever. Wow… and to think that I never invested in hiring a personal janitor or cleaner for my domain here at Fenton Trust.

I made some calls to schedule some upcoming meetings and conference calls just to make sure that other people in the brass are in the know. Shortly thereafter, someone knocked at my door.

“Come in.” I promptly answered.

It was one of my personal bankers who wanted to talk to me.

“Hello there. I must say, your timing is impeccable, since I just finished up a lot of things. What’s up?” I cordially proclaimed. This personal banker had never been to my office since I interviewed him three years ago. He glanced around, looking like he was trying to remember what he was going to say to me. I couldn’t blame him; after all, there were how many more of my medals staring him in the face now?

My flustered subordinate finally stopped eyeing my luxuries and looked me straight in the face for once. “Oh, sorry. This place had changed since I last visited your office space. Anyways, I would like to ask you a question.”

“Ask away. You caught me at an opportune time amongst my busy schedule.” I replied.
The personal banker then said, “Mr. Kennelworth, I really appreciate working here. I enjoy my position here to advise our guests when it comes to mortgages, CDs, and all of our other products we have available, but my rent is being raised on my condo starting next month. May I please have a $3000 raise in my salary? I want to continue my employment here, but I’m not in a position to have the current pay rate that I’m receiving.”

A raise? Really? How brash of him to tell me upfront. I’m sure that he’s doing a good job at what he does since we did get some more guests enrolling in these specialized accounts, but at the same time, I won’t be able to score that Maybach that I was going to buy as another family car. Doesn’t he understand that I need these things to make sure my family has a good life? I rub my eyebrows so this employee can believe that I’m deep in thought even though I know exactly what I’m going to say to this guy. The personal banker stands still as sweat runs down his brow in anticipation of my answer.

“Sorry, but I’m not in a position to give you or anybody a raise right now. I have to make sure all the finances go straight to Fenton Trust.” I said as professionally as possible.

The personal banker retorted by saying, “With all due respect, Fenton Trust is having a boom in terms of transactions and opening accounts for new customers over the past year. We’re having a surplus right now, so why couldn’t you be in a position to give anyone an increase in pay?”

This guy was challenging me? Does he even know who writes and signs his checks? All these medals that adorn my office and house are more than his net worth!
I then reiterate my point. “I do apologize again, but we have to focus this surplus on the company right now so it doesn’t go under should anything happen to this bank.” Hopefully, that would shut up the lowly banker. Oh wait… it didn’t.

“So which sectors will the extra money go to?” the personal banker inquired.

I couldn’t believe that he would ask me such a question, so it would be best to misdirect him. “The funds will go towards future programs that are currently in the prototype phase, so the other higher-ups and myself can be driven to make sure these incentives work and that customers have more options in their banking experience.”

At last, he frowned sadly. “Sorry, Mr. Kennelworth. I must have been asking too much for a slight raise in pay. Thanks for talking with me though.” The banker then left my glorious office and headed back to work.

Sometimes bosses like myself have to be heartless for the benefit of everyone involved. That guy needed to understand how businesses are more important than emotional sentiments. Whatever, he’ll still be doing his best to increase our customer network…
A few hours later, my work day ended, so I drove back home. Shana made some fois gras tonight with sauteed leeks for the family. Hunter and Archer were still on their tablets listening to music and playing some games on them. I talked to my wife about how my day went.

“Today was alright for the most part, except for one of my personal bankers asking me to give him 3 grand in his annual salary just so he can pay for his condo. Don’t you think that’s a little selfish? If I gave him the extra money, then I wouldn’t be able to give this family nice things. I might have to settle for a Mercedes Benz instead of a Maybach if I actually complied.”

My wife responded with something I didn’t expect. “Honey, that man isn’t asking too much. Besides, we already have a lot of luxurious items here. I appreciate what you do for the family, but I think you go overboard in proving how well-off we are. I have to clean our room every week because there’s always a clutter of suits, shoes, and the random knick-knacks you buy.”

I was stunned by her words. “They are not knick-knacks, Shana. Those things are trophies to me. I was tired of being a middle-class working man, so I have to prove that I made it once I was promoted four years ago. At least the kids aren’t complaining about the toys and gadgets they get.” I retorted.

“Tim, please. You’ve already surpassed the Jones’s ever since you received that promotion. There are times when I’m really concerned about your spending habits in order to keep us ‘happy.’ I know your job allows you to more than make up for those used up dollars, but it’s not the only thing that makes Hunter, Archer, and I appreciate you.” Shana said.

“You wouldn’t be able to afford these expensive foods that you cook every day if it wasn’t for my job at Fenton Trust.” I coldly stated to my wife.

“That may be true.” Shana calmly responded. “…but would you still love our sons and I if we were making less than a six-figure income?”

What a ludicrous question. Money talks no matter where you live, and the more money you spend on someone, the more they will appreciate you. That’s how the great businessmen live, and they’re some of the most well-to-do people out there. All this talk about these rich folk feeling depressed and empty inside is only a lie created by some pansy who thinks that financial stability isn’t everything. I used to make only $40,000 a year, and I don’t want to go back to that life anymore. Why should my kids have to suffer by living in a middle-class home and not being focused on the gizmos and toys that all wealthy children should have? All this talk about my trophies cluttering up the room is only a minor setback. It’s certainly better than living in an apartment with only the most functional things in the room. Looks like I have to twist the truth of my thoughts again.

“Of course. What kind of a silly question is that, Shana?” I said to my wife.

“I want to believe you, Tim. Really, I do.” She then stayed silent for the rest of the night. Everyone finished eating, the kids went to bed, and I wondered why she would say something like that to the man who provides for her.
Then it was another day, but the same routine. I drove to Fenton Trust, got into my office, and found a letter right on my desk:

Dear Mr. Kennelworth,

This is the hardest decision I ever made, but it feels right for me. I appreciated helping Fenton Trust grow by offering all these options to your old and new customers, and I have learned a lot from working here. However, I received a job offer from Bonfire Credit Union who are offering me exactly the pay rate that I asked for. They liked my resume and my prowess for customer service. My last day here will be in two weeks. Thank you for your time.


Wesley Evans,
Your personal banker.

Was he serious? One of my guys is leaving me even though I paid him well. To hell with him and his condo situation. It’s not like I needed him anyway.

A month passed after receiving that letter of resignation, and something didn’t feel right. We hadn’t hired anyone to replace Westley, or whatever his name was. Some of my workers told me that a bunch of customers kept on asking where that guy was or complaining that no one was helping them with their financial questions. I was also told that customer traffic had dropped over 40% after he quit Fenton Trust. Fewer customers? That meant less money for the bank and less money for… my family. No. This couldn’t be happening.

After work, I bought a Maybach to be driven to my house. Nobody was going to take my profits away. I came home, and all my things were there, sans my family. Where did they go? I saw a sticky note on the fridge that said, “It’s not a good life. Sincerely, Shana.”
I ran straight to the bedroom to find only my clothes there. She really took her things. I went to my boys’ rooms. They were disturbingly clean. I had never seen their rooms so spotless before. Shana took the kids, too. This was a nightmare.

On the next day, I woke up to the sound of my doorbell repeatedly chiming. I went down the stairs and opened the door to find someone standing there with a big truck near my driveway. No. That man was one of the last people I ever expected to see on my property.

He said, “Are you Mr. Tim Kennelworth? If so, then we have something to discuss before my guys and I do what we have to do here.” I was in horror of what was going to happen. Why did I have to spend more money than what Fenton Trust was making after I got that stupid two weeks letter?

I saw the truck approaching my Maybach and my Lambo. Some workers were strapping two of my prizes for them to approach the ramp.
I freaked out and told everyone to stop, but they wouldn’t listen to me. I was told to calm down, and a couple other people came to restrain me.
Hours later, I saw an empty house. All my awards had been stolen from me.

I had wanted things to change for the better when I got that job. Why hadn’t they?

“Posessions” is copyrighted by Kevin Schlereth ©2012. Please check out his album “Don’t Die! Please Stop Dying!” on Kevin Schlereth’s Bandcamp page. It’s free or name-your-own-price (but please chip in a few bucks if you can. He’s awesome).

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