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X-treme Wrestling Federation » XWF Live! » Character Development RPs
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The Letter
Author Message
Thaddeus Duke Offline
Lionhearted
Management Lv. 2


WWW

XWF FanBase:
Some of everyone

(cheered; very rarely plays dirty but isn't lame either; many likable qualities)


#1
05-14-2023, 04:54 PM

[Image: 1WTC.jpg]
Lion’s Guard Entertainment HQ
One World Trade Center
Lower Manhattan, New York City

It’s not even noon and I’m already considering calling it a day.  Things have not gone well at work today and my family is at home.  Frankie’s in school still, but whatever, he’d be home before too long.  I’ve been in negotiations with the record company holding my film hostage for almost a year now.  I won’t blink and neither will they.  One of us has to lose and I don’t want it to be me.

I rebuffed their demand for 50% of the film's revenue.

They rebuffed my lucrative offer to buy the record company outright.

It may well be an unwinnable situation that I find myself in.  There’s two realistic options left and one really long shot.  I can either give in and give them the 50%, or I can rename the film.  Neither are satisfactory in my view.  The third option, which is a last ditch effort in a hail mary sort of scenario, Lion’s Guard initiates a hostile takeover bid on the record company.

Sitting behind my desk, despite being despondent and demoralized over work, I keep seeing my kids in my head.  I can hear the twins laugh and it makes me smile against my own will.  I can see Caty and T.J. play fighting with Mufasa and the old lion pretending to be hurt.  That’s a lion trait.  In order to install confidence in their young, a lioness will act as if the play attacks from their young are the most brutal thing in the world.  Mufasa is quite obviously a male lion, but the twins may be as much his babies as they are mine.

”Thad honey?” Janet, my gatekeeper, says as she pokes her head inside my office door.

Looking at her, I say nothing.  For a moment I’m angered that she interrupted my familial daydreams.  Instead, I just repeatedly click the pen in my hand.

”There’s a woman here to see you,” she informed me.  ”She doesn’t have an appointment and you know what I’d do normally.  But…”

”But what Janet?” I asked quietly.

”She’s with your fathers estate,” she said with a tear running down her cheek.

You know what I think of my father.  You know how our relationship never grew past lukewarm at best.  He hired Janet at Veneras International.  She got to know him on levels very few have.  Certainly on levels I never had.  She was hard on him.  She commanded his respect and in turn, they developed a close friendship.  Part of me is happy he had that before he was gone.

She loved my father.

At least somebody could.

”Do you need a break?” I asked her as I darted from my chair to reach her.  In an effort to comfort her, I pull her close to me.

”No, I’ll be fine,” she said as she pushed me away.  ”Should I send her in?”

People think a lot of things about me.  I like to say that I don’t care what they think, but it’s kind of human nature.  To this day people think that what I did to my father, what I did to end his life… they think it was easy for me.  They think that I did it over wrestling.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I try not to think about it a lot.  I fail at that quite often.  Maybe that lends credence to those that think it was easy, I don’t know.  Fact is, I did what I did because it was right.  Because it was justice.  Because I needed closure for the merciless brutal murder of my mother and on that point, I do not care what people think.  It’s me that has to live the rest of my life knowing that I executed my father.  It’s me that wakes up every day still wearing his last name.  My entire life, everywhere I have ever gone, his shadow loomed over me and it will never matter how much time passes… Sebastian Duke will loom over his son until my days are at their own end.

I did what I did and while a big part of me wishes I hadn’t, I remain convinced it was the right thing to do.

No matter how much it hurts.

”Yeah send her in,” I answered.  Looking through the glass, I can see Janet and the woman exchange a few brief words.  The middle aged lady passes with a smile as I open the door for her.

”Mr. Duke, I’m Natalie Bethancourt,” she says with a smile and an extended hand.

”Just Thad is fine.  Or Thaddeus if you prefer,” I greeted her back before retreating behind my desk.  ”Look, I’m gonna cut right to the point.  The house was sold.  The cars too.  Veneras belongs to Sebastian Everett-Bryce now.

“I really don’t know why you’re here because I thought the estate was settled.”


”It is mostly,” she stated quickly.  ”Thaddeus, in one of Sebastian’s bank accounts, he also had a safety deposit box.”

”Really?” I scrunched my nose.  ”People still use those?”

”A lot of people do, yeah,” she answered.  ”When we went to claim the contents, we found just one item.”

”And?”

”An envelope with your name on it,” she replied as she opened her satchel and retrieved a manilla envelope with my name written real big in sharpie marker.

”You really flew all the way to New York just to give me this?” I asked as she slid it across my desk.  ”Wouldn’t a stamp have been cheaper?”

”Certainly,” she agreed.  ”But it was in that box for safekeeping and we felt it was best to deliver it in person.”

”What’s in it?” I asked the obvious.

”We have no idea, sir,” she answered.

”No one at your firm even looked inside?” I asked with a hint of disbelief.

”No,” she replied with a shake of her head.  ”Our firm is fully abreast of what your family business is, Thaddeus…”

”Was,” I corrected.

”Be that as it may,” she interjected.  ”We weren’t sure if it was something meant for the eyes of a hundred strangers at a law firm, or if it was something meant for your eyes only.”

Brushing the hair from my face I emitted a bit of a sigh as I stared at my name upon the envelope.

”Thank you for coming by Natalie,” I said in an effort to abruptly bring this impromptu meeting to a close.  ”I’ll be in touch if this needs the attention of you and yours.”

”Thaddeus, it was a pleasure,” she says with an extended hand.

Hindsight being what it is, I didn’t mean to treat her so… uncharacteristically like I did.  Things that have to do with my father stir up all sorts of emotions.  My mind wanders in a million different directions and I’m never myself at first.

”You know the way out,” I replied coldly without accepting her gesture.

”I’ll just…” she cleared her throat.  ”I’ll just leave my card with your secretary.”

Paying her no more mind, I continued to stare at the envelope.  It’s the weirdest, dumbest things sometimes that can send a person on an emotional spiral.  In this case, it wasn’t my fathers estate attorney.  It wasn’t the envelope or whatever rests inside of it.

It was my name.

It was my fathers handwriting.

He always added an extra little loop in the top of the ‘T’.

At six years old I sat in my ‘learning chair’ as my grandfather called it.  I was homeschooled almost my entire childhood.  Grandfather was the intelligent one.  He did the vast majority of the teaching.  My father was either on the road, or terrorizing a church somewhere.  Most of the time, he couldn’t be bothered.

But not always.

Sometimes, if he was home, if my grandfather was being exceptionally hard on me, he’d step in.

It’s strange.  For my whole adult life I only ever remembered hating him.  I mean, I loved my dad, but the bad far outweighed the good and hate for him is all I felt.  I have my reasons and no one is truly in a position to tell me I’m wrong.  Every now and again though, I’ll uncover something deep in my past that I’d forgotten.

Tucked away from the hundreds that lived at the old Connecticut Compound, it was just me and Grandfather.  I’ve since grown to despise the ground he walked on.  When I was six, I was deathly afraid of him.  I admired him.  I respected him.  I had him on a pedestal.  But I was scared.  He was never a large man but he was an authoritarian through and through.  I didn’t recognize it then, but I sure do now.  My grandfather was mentally abusive.  Not only to me, but to anyone that was below his considerable intelligence level.

”Thaddeus, you’re not doing it properly,” Grandfather exclaimed with a raise of his voice.  ”I’ll show you one more time.  Get it this time!”

”I’m trying Grandfather!” I pleaded with him.

”Well try harder!” he yelled.  ”I’ve already raised one useless boy and I won’t have another!”

He was teaching me cursive writing.  I was born with an unnatural ability to learn things extremely quickly.  I could recite the alphabet backward and forward by the time I was two.  Add and subtract?  Age 3.  Multiply and divide?  Age 4.  My grandfather was intent to rush me through learning because he had other military related plans for me in the future.  There was no time for failure.  There was no time for me to stumble or have trouble with something.

Reading was a snag.

Writing was a snag.

I’d find out in my late teen years when I enrolled in a private high school that I wasn’t dumb.  It wasn’t that I couldn’t read.  In fact, I learned I was dyslexic.

”Father?” my father said from the doorway.

Neither of us knew he was standing there, or for how long.  Thing about my father is as large a man as he was, he had this strange ability to move quietly and quickly, almost unnoticed.

”Keep working,” Grandfather said as he moved toward my father.

Keeping my head down was a must.  Children needn’t listen to adult conversations, is something my grandfather drilled into my head often.  There were hundreds of people roaming about the Compound in those days and he always used the plural children.  As many people as there were, there was only one child.  Just me.

”Tone it down,” I had heard my father say to his father.

”Sebastian, he’s struggling to write his own name,” Grandfather pleaded his case.  ”Do you really want him to grow up like you?” he’d asked.

I could feel more than hear my father sigh.

”Can’t tell a W from a V can you?  You see letters that aren’t even there.  He’s the same way, Sebastian!” he continued to argue his case.  ”Not again.  I won’t have it.”

”He’s six,” my father stated matter-of-factly.  ”You’re being entirely too hard on him.”

”If you think you can do a better job, then you do it,” Grandfather said in a huff as he limped away without the aid of his cane.

”Hi daddy,” I’d said to him as he closed the door quietly behind him.

”What’s goin’ on kiddo?” he asked as he slowly made his way toward me.

”Grandfather was helping me write,” I answered him.  ”But I’m not doing a good job.”

”It just takes practice, son,” he said as he slid a chair over and sat beside me before sliding a blank page in front of each of us.  ”You’re grandfather is just not patient enough.”

It’s weird just now.  My father was never patient either.  He had a very low tolerance for people that couldn’t make a point.  He’d snap on others if they interrupted him.

Never me.

When it came to me, all he had was patience.

”Do you know all the letters?” he asked.

”Ummm,” I stammered.  ”Some of them.”

”Let’s start with your name.  You know those letters, right?”

”Yeah,” I lied.

”I’ll go first, then you try.  Okay?” he knew, but didn’t call me out on it.

”Okay.”

My father proceeded to write a cursive letter T to start my name.  Complete with that little extra loop I’d seen on the letter.  For a minute, I was angry that I’d totally forgotten this.  Now though, I look back on it and smile.  We must’ve sat there for an hour as we traced and retraced my name over and over.  Then faster and faster until I got it right.

He gave me a celebratory tussle of my hair after.  And a rare smile.  When I was six, he knew what his father was really like far more than I did.  I didn’t know it then, but I recognize it now… he was protecting me.

Sebastian Duke was not good at showing love, but he did have the capacity for it.  Maybe I appreciate it more now that he’s gone, but he showed me love in the only ways he knew how.

Unfortunately, it was never enough for me while he was alive.

Snapping back to reality, my eyes wander around my desk in search of my phone.  I don’t know how long I’d been staring into space thinking about that day.  Finding it, I check the time.

About fifteen minutes.

After a deep preparatory sigh, I open the manilla envelope and retrieve its contents.  Right away I could tell it was a letter beginning with ‘My Son.’

My Son,

I know you hate cliches but if you’re reading this, I’m likely very much dead.  Probably by your own hand.  This isn’t about that.  This is far more important than whatever ended my life.  There are certain things you don’t know.  Things I could never tell anyone.  Things I couldn’t tell you.  I need you to make a promise right now that if you’ve continued on with the Illuminatus State, you can not pursue what you’re about to learn.

Thaddeus, I’m sorry I was never able to be the father you deserved.  I hope as you grow, as you raise your own children that you understand that I did try.  I’m sorry for a lot of things.

When I sent you home and kept you from coming on the road with me, it was never because I didn’t want you with me.  I did that to protect a secret.  I know you heard the rumors.  It took me quite some time to squash them.  I’m here to tell you now that they were all true.  By the end of this letter there will be three people on this planet that knows the truth.  The full truth.

You are not an only child.

At the time of this writing, a decade ago I engaged in an affair with a woman I worked with.  We were two lonely people that sought and found comfort in each other.  The result of that affair was a little girl.  Your sister.  I’d say half-sister but I know you better than that, Son.  It doesn’t take even a single drop of our blood to make someone family to you.

For her protection, for their protection, I can’t explicitly disclose their names in case this letter falls into the wrong hands.  Enclosed below is a cipher that you need to decode.  It’s your sisters name.  Do you remember when you were little and we’d mess around with ciphers and codes?  Think hard, Son.  The key is the first one we ever used.  You’re the only one that knows what that key is.  This is the only way I could be sure to protect her.

You’re shaking right now.  Trembling, even.  I know, and I’m sorry.  If there was another way, I’d have done it.  You won’t see it right away, but soon you’ll realize it was the right thing to do.

You always wanted a family.  You wanted brothers and sisters.  I’m sorry I couldn’t give those to you while I was alive.  But at least I managed to give you a sister, and I made sure she was protected from our world.  That’s one thing I did right.

I love you Thaddeus,
Dad

BUJGZLPHZNYBBA


Initially unable to really grasp what it is I just read, I sat there dumbfounded and staring wide eyed like a deer caught in the high beams for a few moments.  I just learned an incredible bombshell.  While I don’t know when he wrote the letter, I do know that this girl is at least ten years old.

Wait.

I heard what rumors?

What the hell was the key to that first cipher we did?

I remember it was winter.  Fires roared in every fireplace at the Compound.  Everyone wore sweaters and other warm heavy clothing.  Eggnog!  I remember the disgusting taste and aroma of eggnog.  It was Christma…

”Son of a bitch, the key is my birthday!” I shouted to myself.  Quickly I start scratching down some letters.  My birthday is 12/25.  1-2-2-5.  The first decoded letter is one away from whatever letter it was coded.  The second would be two letters away.  The third, two letters.  The fourth, five.  Then the code repeated until you were out of letters.

Quickly, I start decoding the cipher.  Each coded letter only has two possible correct solutions.  If the first coded letter is ‘B’ and the key is ‘1’, it can only be either ‘A’ or ‘C’ to the exclusion of all other letters.

”I’ll be goddamned,” I said aloud to myself as I stared at my sister's name written beneath my fathers cipher.

Quickly shoving the letter back into the envelope, I jump to my feet and dart for the door.  Only doubling back because I forgot my phone.  Outside my office, I start to make my way to the elevator.

”Janet I’ll be out the rest of the day,” I informed her.  ”Probably tomorrow too.”

Without waiting for a response, I entered the elevator and descended to the basement where my chariot awaited.  Or more appropriately, my ‘73 Monte Carlo.  Entering the car, I turned the key and fired the engine before bursting from its parking spot with a squeal of the tires.

After turning onto the street, I made a quick call.

“I’m on my way to Kennedy,” I said to my pilot.  ”I wanna be wheels up within the hour.”

”Where we headed?”

”Dallas.”

[Image: wgqr9W2.png]
76-31-1
Semi-Retired


1x  XWF Universal Champion || 3x  XWF Xtreme Champion || 1x  XWF Supercontinental Champion (First)
1x  XWF Hart Champion (Last) || 2x  XWF Television Champion || 1x  XWF Tag Team Champion
1x  OCW Savage Champion || 1x IIW Tag Team Champion  || 2x  SOTM (9/20, 7/21)
2021 Male Wrestler of the Year (shared w/ Alias) || XWF Hall of Legends
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