A Modern Wise Man

Artificial light brought life to the outside world, nearly three hundred feet below the office with a view. It was after ten, but Conroy had no desire to go home. Instead he drank his scotch from his crystal glasses with the gold trip, setting it directly on his mahogany desk. He reclined in his ergonomic chair, put his loafers up on the desk and loosened his tie, unbuttoning the first button of his shirt. “I’m unhappy. I have wealth. I have a beautiful car. I have an incredible mansion. I have a hot wife, half my age. I have children, both older and younger than her. There are very few views which are higher up than my own. It feels pointless.”

Across from him, sitting in a rather uncomfortable chair which was significantly lower than Conroy’s, was a simple looking man wearing a relatively inexpensive suit, his loafers adorned with nicks and scratches. His hair had no product in it, and his face was weathered from years outside. The man, Voren, nodded politely, reclining back as best he could in the chair.

“My wife is waiting for me. Or not. More than likely Elna has already cooked our dinners and she’s eating with the children. Or at least the children who will eat with her. Felden refuses to eat with her. He goes off how she’s not his real mom, and he’s almost as old as she is so who is she,” he cut himself off, sighed, and rubbed his face with his hand, closing his eyes. “Abyss, Voren, what am I doing wrong? Why are you so silent? I thought I paid you to bring me happiness and it’s been ten years, now.”

“Will you listen?” Voren had old eyes to match his weathered face, a once brilliant blue now becoming a gray as the colors faded. “Or will you continue to flaunt your money as you have, ignoring my council? So far it seems you’ve found yourself wiser than the man you pay for wisdom, yet here we are and you’re still miserable.”

Conroy scowled at Voren, but reproach wouldn’t be sensical: Voren was right. “Curse you.” Conroy stood, hands shoved deep into his pockets, and looked out the window, the city below him. He picked that office for a reason. Up above was his ivory castle, while down below were his subjects, big and small. He could control it all as he pleased. He could buy off or influence every person down there. Except Voren. He was unflinching. No doubt a few others were out there, similar, but it was a rare man, and Conroy was appreciative of the rare defiant. “Give me your wisdom. I’ll try to heed it better this time.”

“If you try to heed it at all you’ve made a great step. Your pride blinds you, Conroy. It makes you think you’re better than those out there. You search in the wrong places for your happiness. Would you like to know a secret?”

Conroy nodded, fetching his drink from his desk, then going back to his view. Voren stood up, grunting when he pushed off the chair. “The secret is we aren’t to be happy with our empires down on earth. Paradise waits us, and we cling to this as if we can create our own. But it pales to the One.”

“The One.” Usually Conroy snarled the words, but not today. He didn’t have the energy today. He was nearly forty, and all he had to show for it, though impressive, was empty. He had no love, no matter how much respect he was given. It was the respect given a conqueror. As soon as a contender came along capable of ousting him from his throne, Conroy was gone. No one would bat an eye, and all he did for that company would be erased and forgotten as so many before him. It was pointless. It wore him down to the bone. “Why the One, Voren? The idea that all I’ve done is nothing. That this world I’ve built, this empire I conquered, is sand in the wind.”

“You don’t know already? You’re getting older. Perhaps you have ten or even fifteen years left in you. Maybe you will make it another twenty, even thirty. But when you retire, or when you’re placed in the ground, the new generation will run this little empire of yours, as you’ve run the empire others built, and they will not remember you. They will say ‘This is mine, and I have made it good.’ But they, as you, have made nothing. They were only given that which the One blessed them with.” The old man poured himself a drink, though not as tall as Conroy’s. “But you know this. You’re searching for happiness and empty places, with a wife that does not belief and children who likely know little of the old stories.”

“True enough. I don’t know if Elna has ever stepped foot in a church. She may know some of the children songs if they play out, but otherwise I doubt she recalls much. My children,” he thought a moment, swirling his drink and taking a swig to give him time. “My first wife made sure they went to church. I never did and the kids complained. She urged me, but I didn’t care. Tony is into the One knows what. Mal left home. I think he found a good wife, but I’ve only met her three or four times. He moved so far away. Won’t tell me why, but I suppose I know why.”

“You’re an influence of worldly gain when it will only bring his children, your grandchildren, frustrations. In case you needed closure.”

Conroy laughed, nodding his head, “I did think it was something along those lines. Strange hearing it out loud.” He laughed more and sipped his drink.

“Give it up and find a purpose. Go to church. Devote time to Him. You’ll find your peace there. Here you’ll find bitterness and anger. You will find fulfilled dreams which lack compared to what you thought they’d be. Move on, friend. Follow my advice. It’s good advice.”

“True words, Voren. I need to go home to my wife, then. I’ll look into this. See if I can find this purpose you’re keen on.”

“I am not the only one keen on it, but it’s a good start. I’m here if you need me, as always.” Voren put his glass down on a coaster and made his way to the door. “Remember, the One is watching. The One will give guidance. Just trust.”

“Easier said. When I can buy and manipulate so much, it’s hard to understand that there is another with more influence. But it’s true enough. I’ll take your advice on this.” The men parted.

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