Velturo Ondakka, one of several dukes of Anepolis—capital of Calrym—opened his eyes. He stretched, yawning, working out the kinks of sleep in his neck and back. His wife, Glendys, had already fled the bed, as she was apt to do. He didn’t blame her. If he’d married himself, he’d hide as much as possible, too. Fortunately, Glendys performed her duties well—took care of the children, made sure he ate three hearty meals a day, and relieved his stress every night—if he hadn’t been rich, he never would’ve landed her. In one way, Velturo felt bad for her. In another, he didn’t—Glendys had an exuberant life, and he didn’t require much.
He groaned, arched his back, stretched again. Over the top of his distended stomach, he saw the toes on his right foot curling up, silk sheet missing. He’d kicked it off again. Too hot, much too hot. His eyes landed upon a stain on the sheets. Is that mustard? Velturo sniffed the sheet, licked the stain. A faint pungent sweetness bit his tongue. “It is mustard.”
It wasn’t normal for Velturo to get food before he stumbled out of bed. Cheerful, he rolled his body out from beneath the sheets, and slipped his feet into felt slippers. He pulled on a light robe to cover his naked body, yawned, and traipsed into the dining hall. It should be mandatory to eat one’s first meal in bed.
At the table, Glendys sat at its head, their two children flanking her. Velturo took his spot at the foot, where Glendys should be sitting. It’d been this way since the wedding. “Velturo, dear, if you’re married to a beautiful woman like me, and I have to look at you all day, it’s only fair I get to sit here,” she’d said when he’d first complained. He didn’t argue or care, though. Beautiful woman, delicious food, enough money to live a comfortable rest of his life.
He recalled the threat Ardus, Glendys’s brother, once told him, “If you upset my sister, I will kill you.” Velturo lived life afraid this would come to fruition. His wife never mentioned Ardus’s threat, and he hoped she’d forgotten about the vow her brother made on her wedding day. Velturo didn’t argue with Glendys because he didn’t want Ardus to murder him.
“Glendys, darling, there’s a mustard stain on the sheets, ah-hah.” Whenever he was around anyone, even his wife, he couldn’t prevent that laugh from escaping. He’d found long ago people reacted better to laughter, and so he laughed. Which developed into laughing about everything. He couldn’t control it, even when he shouldn’t laugh.
His wife sighed. “Are you sure it’s food? Perhaps you didn’t finish in the privy.”
Their two sons giggled at that word. Velturo frowned. “I tasted it. It was mustard, ah-hah.” He sat, listening to the groans of his children. No respect. Nobody has any respect.
“It could’ve been poo!” his oldest, Culbern, said, a look of disgust on his face.
The youngest son, Benford, stuck his tongue out, giggling and clapping his hands. “Poo! Poo!”
Velturo sighed. It reminded him of attending a council meeting at the Great Hall—a collection of people sitting around a table, poking at their food, and taking jabs at him. No respect. He looked at the plate sitting in front of him. A couple slices of white bread, half a fish, some sausage, and stewed carrots. He sipped the red wine a servant had already poured. “Splendid meal, ah-hah.” Hearty, filling, tasty.
“Papa, it could’ve been poo,” Culbern said, again.
“Do you think I’m a fool, Cully?” Velturo, irritated, picked up a fork and stabbed it into a sausage. The scraping of silver on silver and the chinking of plate reverberating off wood. He realized he hadn’t even laughed—a sign of genuine anger. His family picked up on it, silencing themselves.
He ate, drank wine, and shot glares across the table at his wife, who sat in his rightful chair. She ignored him, focused on her meal, and occasionally assisted Benford.
“I directed the staff to make lamb root pie tonight,” Glendys said, out of nowhere.
He swallowed a mouthful of tender, sweet, succulent fish. Velturo smiled, then swallowed again for good measure. No sense in choking while he spoke—something which occurred more than he liked. “Nothing fixes a day like lamb root pie.” It was his favorite food, and Glendys knew it. His face burned with shame. Another sip of wine, then he said, “I’m sorry, ah-hah.”
“Don’t be. You’re a busy man, working for the king. You have two lovely children. You have an even lovelier wife. The fact these,” Glendys cleared her throat, glancing at Culbern who was listening intently; she mouthed the words “pig fuckers,” then continued, “are treating you in the way they-”
Glendys gave a stern look at Culbern. “Don’t interrupt.” She turned back to Velturo. “The fact they insult and ignore you is a problem they’ll one day have to overcome. You’re worth more than that.” He wasn’t. But he was grateful for the compliment.
“Oh, for the love of Mother Avani, what do you want, dear child?”
“What’s ‘pig fuckers’?”
Glendys screeched, and Velturo thumped the table with his fist. “Quiet, you, ah-hah!” he half-shouted, half-laughed. He didn’t know how to react.
Culbern’s eyes widened, and he sank into his chair, realizing he’d done something wrong.
Gathering herself, Glendys explained that he’d misread her lips, and it was rude to do so.
Velturo spent the next few minutes finishing his breakfast, loathing the upcoming council meeting. He knew what was awaiting him. He’d just continue to do what he’d been training for the last few years—contribute vocally to the discussion while eating and drinking and ignoring the bastards.
Midway through Glendys’s lecture, Velturo stood, smoothing his robe out and brushing crumbs to the floor. He noticed he’d dribbled wine down his front at some point. Typical. “I need to get ready for work, ah-hah.” His wife ignored him, and Culbern was too busy learning the difference between reading lips and normal discussion, so Velturo waved to Benford—who returned the wave—and departed to find someone able to assist him in getting ready for the day.
Sarla had, as usual, prepared him as best she could. She was his favored servant, and could always get clothes to fit in ways nobody else could. Although it mattered little, within an hour or two, he’d spill something on whatever he wore. And, as usual, she’d accompanied him—along with a contingent of armed guards—through the streets of Lochwall, to the council of King Mikas Garcovi and the rest of the dukes and duchesses who met there.
“Here,” Velturo said, dropping several coins into Sarla’s palm, “fetch yourself something to eat. And bring back a chocolate custard from the bakery, ah-hah.” If lamb root pie was on the menu for later, he’d make the meal even better with one of his favorite desserts.
Sarla bowed. “Yes, Lord Ondakka.”
He’d commanded her not to call him that, unless around other nobility. It just wasn’t his style. He smiled, then waved a hand, dismissing her.
One of the king’s guards positioned outside the Great Hall opened the door for Velturo. Entering the Great Hall, Velturo made his way to his regular spot—midway up the far side of the table, facing the doors he’d just entered. A spot he enjoyed. Don't have your back to the door. Not since these people despised him. Duke Sturgeon sat in the chair next to Velturo’s. Though most in attendance hated Sturgeon almost as much as Velturo—Sturgeon spoke slower than anyone Velturo had ever met—he couldn’t dislike the old man. Perhaps it was because Sturgeon stole plenty of negative atmosphere away from Velturo. The table accommodated twenty-three people, plus the king, though many of the attending dukes and duchesses remained passive and silent throughout entire meetings, only chiming in whenever important, or throwing their favor behind the person who’d paid them off.
His stomach rumbled as he lowered his girth into the chair. He picked up a cloth from the table, laying it in his lap, and glanced about the table. Shelled nuts rested in a bowl, waiting to be cracked open. Empty placeholders for other food held his gaze. He sighed. I’ve come too early. He thought this every day, but it’d be dangerous to show up late without good reason. The king would have his head.
Everyone stood as King Mikas Garcovi entered. Velturo waited a few moments, feigned surprise at having missed the king’s entrance, and lifted himself a few inches off the chair, just enough to strain his muscles before the king waved them back down.
“Are we all in attendance?” the council’s chancellor asked. Velturo didn’t remember the man’s name. He wasn’t sure anybody did.
The king groaned, closing his eyes and rubbing his forehead. “Can you fucking see, Chancellor?” King Garcovi clenched his jaw and opened his eyes, glaring at the chancellor with habitual hatred. The chancellor was another one of Velturo’s favorites in the Great Hall.
The chancellor’s mouth hung open, and he stammered to get anything of worth out.
“Precisely,” the king said. “So, seeing as we are all present and accounted for…” he gestured towards the dukes and duchesses, “may we continue?”
“I wasn’t asking you, Chancellor. I was asking our esteemed lords and ladies.”
“Chancellor, if you interrupt me one more time, I will have you hanged. Do you understand?”
“Nod, you insufferable cockroach!”
The chancellor nodded.
Several servants entered the Great Hall, and Velturo perked up. They were carrying a variety of dishes—some covered, some not. He licked his lips in anticipation. The servants set the dishes down at regular intervals on the table, and fortunately for Velturo, the closest plate held a glazed roast, dripping with juices and a light gravy. A bowl nearby contained candied chestnuts; another one of his favorite foods.
“WELL?” the king’s voice echoed throughout the Great Hall, his hands splayed out in front of him.
“We may continue, My Lord.”
“Of course, Your Highness.”
“Nothing would please me more, King Garcovi.”
“This meal looks splendid, ah-hah!” Everyone’s gaze shifted to Velturo. He cleared his throat, realized the error he made, and dipped his head in the king’s direction. “My apologies, Your Highness. I am ready to proceed.” He straightened and slid the roast closer, then picked up the fork and knife to carve the meat, then frowned. He’d never done this before. Stabbing the fork into the roast, he sliced a large portion and placed it in front of him. Velturo saw several people giving him strange looks, and he returned the cutlery. The roast leaned to one side now, and several jagged bits stuck out. Not the cleanest cut, but what do they expect? Should’ve had a servant cut it. Or maybe one of them could’ve. Can’t do anything right here. No respect.
“You can’t go a moment without food, eh?” A jest from King Garcovi. An improvement over anger.
Velturo shrugged. “I like food, ah-hah.”
“I’m sure you just finished a meal before entering the Great Hall,” Duke Harlem Maccaro—a cheese-gobbling hypocrite—said.
“You could not disgust me more, Velturo,” the slow, methodical, and snarky voice of Duchess Arena Hyrel. She was always one to offer an insult, no matter the target. Velturo found it ironic, considering she favored sleeping with her servants, rather than another noble. Disgusting, the things she allows inside her. No doubt she thought the same about him as he shoveled roast into his mouth. Juice spurted out between his lips, dribbled down his chin, and dripped down his clean clothing. What’s life without another stain? Velturo had started believing if something didn’t stain, it wasn’t worth it.
“Chancellor, are you ever going to begin the proceedings?” King Garcovi asked, as if he hadn’t just threatened to hang the man.
The chancellor, who’d slowly backed away from the king until he’d pressed against a wall, reappeared. He clapped his hands together, smiling. A grim expression on the king’s face stoppered the chancellor’s smile, which morphed into a face Velturo was all too familiar with—the clenched jaw, thin-lipped contortions, and tightened cheeks Velturo often had during a bad bout of constipation.
“I have other pressing matters to attend to if there is nothing of importance taking place here,” Arena said.
Velturo ignored the next few sentences passing around the table. Probably insults. Nothing worth paying attention to… not when I have such delicious beef. How do they get it this tender? Amazing. Velturo chewed a mouthful of the roast, savoring the slice of meat. Swallowing, he realized he’d made a mistake—the chunk in his throat happened to still be attached to the rest in his mouth. He coughed, choked, slapped his chest with a fist. Everyone ignored him. He gasped, choked again, spluttered, and hacked. He drove his finger into his mouth, ripped the bit on his tongue from the bit in his throat, and was able to complete a successful swallow. Slobber and a string of fat dangled from his chin. Several revolted expressions made their rounds, but otherwise, nobody gave a damn he’d almost choked to death.
When he returned his focus to the conversation taking place, and not on his potential death, the chancellor had finished briefing them and faded into shadows again. The old man sitting next to him—Duke Sturgeon—was speaking.
“It’s… apparent to me… as it should be… to everyone… in attendance…” Sturgeon paused, taking several deep breaths, and continued. He’d become so frail he couldn’t get a single sentence out without pausing, which focused everyone’s ire on him instead of Velturo. “That we… need to consider… ramping up… local security in… anticipation… for the increased traffic… when the markets… spring back… to life… this spri-.” Sturgeon mumbled the rest of the word, furrowing his brow. Then, with renewed vigor, he said, “Season.”
“Nothing ever happens in the marketplace, ah-hah,” Velturo said, laughing at the suggestion of criminals running amok in Anepolis, the capital city. He’d never heard of any crime taking place—not against nobility. “Too many guards patrol. Too many people. Far too many people. In order to do something amidst that many people, they’d have no respect for the people, themselves, and, worst of all, us! Not to mention a horrible disregard for their own life, ah-hah.” And who doesn’t regard their own life? When one can have all this… Velturo shoveled another forkful of roast into his mouth, closing his eyes as the decadent slice of meat collapsed around his tongue.
Across the table, Harlem plopped a chunk of cheese into his mouth, while Arena took a long sip of wine. Neither appeared pleased with Velturo’s words. This was nothing new.
“Do you even attend the markets, Velturo? Because the markets rarely sell prepared food, you know. I would hazard a guess you spend much of your time a street or two over, dining at a restaurant which specializes in serving… you. I’m sure you are the only customer they would need to keep their business open,” Arena said, curling her lip in disgust.
Velturo ignored her, thinking about how nice it’d be to call her out on her scandalous relationships. However, that would only start further arguing, and he wanted to eat in peace.
“Is the investment worth it? Deterring crime is, of course, a chief priority,” Harlem said, straightening his posture—a sign he was becoming invested, and serious. “We need to consider other issues first.”
“Such as?” King Garcovi asked.
“Simply put, Mikas,” a gasp as Harlem used the king’s first name, “we need to focus on external threats. Remeria is in a perfect position to invade. Recalling fielded men to patrol Lochwall is unthinkable… and if we don’t recall anyone, you’d have to place new recruits meant for the border in the city. It’s a waste of power. Local guards are plentiful.”
The king narrowed his eyes. “We cannot allow that!” He omitted Harlem’s lack of respect. Disgusting. What a weak king. But Velturo didn’t really think that. He knew he couldn’t have done better.
“Think… about… the people… My Lords… and Ladies…” Sturgeon said.
Velturo didn’t give a shit about the people. Nobody in that room did. Not even Sturgeon. Or, perhaps, he might’ve. Sturgeon was the only dying one in the room, so perhaps he’d concluded his life wasn’t more important than somebody else’s. It wasn’t like Sturgeon had anything to live for now.
He stopped listening and shoveled the rest of the roast into his mouth, chewed it, then spooned up the excess gravy and juices and swallowed that, as well. Then, Velturo slid the bowl of candied chestnuts closer, and popped several in his mouth, relishing their sweetness.
He left the Great Hall, slipping into delusional thoughts about how grand his life was. Pretending to believe he’d made it. That he’d found happiness. He was rich. He had a beautiful wife who loved him unconditionally. Two sons. Sons, damn it! He consumed amazing food every day. But none of it was the case. He knew the truth. He wasn’t happy. Velturo had money, yes, but he wasn’t rich. His wife despised him, but had married him to elevate her lifestyle. She knew it; he knew it; everyone in the Great Hall knew it. He ate because it provided him comfort, unlike anything else. His sons weren’t even his, he was sure of that. But who’s were they? He wasn’t sure he wanted to know.
Velturo sighed, returning to the conversation. It appeared they’d come to a vote.
“I… think… we should… help the… citizens,” Sturgeon said.
“I agree,” another duchess said.
“I dissent with that,” a duke said. “The market is safe enough.”
Harlem’s back became as rigid as Velturo’s father. “Remeria is too large a threat. We must focus on protecting our borders. There’s been no noticeable issues before this year, there’s no reason suggesting this time will be any different.” That’s the key—no noticeable issues. Nobody cared otherwise. And they wouldn’t discuss the matter if there hadn’t been complaints.
Scowling at Harlem, Arena shook her head. “It is ridiculous to consider abandoning the citizens in their time of need.”
Velturo disagreed with Arena often. Today, however, he sided with her. “I agree—we must protect the citizens, ah-hah.” He wanted to wipe the satisfied smirk off Harlem’s face. If I had called the king by his first name, I’d already be in prison. Or dead.
The rest of the votes tallied and concluded, making it official—they’d increase this year’s guard patrols around the marketplace. Harlem appeared solemn. Velturo grinned.
The rest of the meeting passed through normal functions—requests from concerned citizens, policy proposals and updates, a discussion on foreign events, and so on. Velturo tuned most of it out, focused on the candied chestnuts. And before he knew it, the meeting concluded.
Sarla and his guards filed behind him as Velturo headed home. He noticed she’d bought the requested chocolate custard, which pleased him.
Upon entering his manor, Velturo let out a heavy sigh. Attending the Great Hall took far more effort and caused far more stress than it was worth. He heard his two sons rummaging around their room, and a scolding tone coming from his wife, though he didn’t make out the words. The noise stopped.
Velturo passed by and, with Sarla in tow, proceeded to the washtub—not before dropping off the custard in the kitchens and catching a whiff of the delicious-smelling lamb root pie—then with Sarla’s help, stripped naked and bathed. The water, much to Velturo’s annoyance, was lukewarm. “Are you fucking kidding me, ah-hah?” No respect. People have no respect anymore.
“My Lord?” Sarla asked. She made a decent show of not being revolted at his naked body. But he knew she was just like everyone else. The large gut which hung from his frame often turned people away.
“The water feels like it’s been heated by a pair of men pissing in it, rather than fire, ah-hah.”
“I’ll go make a complaint, My Lord.”
“Don’t bother. Just hurry. And stop with the ‘My Lords’, ah-hah.”
Several minutes later and Velturo was being wiped down by Sarla, then helped into his favorite afternoon velvet robes. He dismissed her, then spent his requisite hour with his children—today he tried to teach them a game called Checkknight, though they still weren’t able to grasp the idea. Culbern seemed rather bored with the affair, and Benford decided the pair of pawns tasted better than his dirty thumb.
Velturo’s heart pulsed in excitement when the meal bell rang. He herded his sons into the dining hall, affirming to Glendys they’d washed their hands—they hadn’t—and sat at the foot of the table, as usual. He glared at his wife, sitting in his spot. Already food on her plate, instead of his, even though Velturo was head of the family. No respect. Nobody has any fucking respect anymore. But he clamped his lips closed and waited for a servant to fill his plate. No use making any unnecessary noise over the matter. He’d tried before and it just caused too much chaos.
It didn’t matter, anyway. Tonight was lamb root pie night. He licked his lips, staring down at the heaping mass of meat pie slathered in gravy with carrots, potatoes, turnips, and a small bit of radish. Velturo could taste it before he took a single bite. He shoved the first large bite into his mouth, sighing, and allowing his body to wilt into its comfortable slouch in the chair. “Mmph.”
“Pa, are you all right?” Culbern asked.
“Yeth,” Velturo said, before swallowing.
Glendys waved her knife in the air at him. “It’s rude to talk with your mouth full.”
“My apologies, ah-hah.” Velturo didn’t care. He’d just stop talking.
For the next several minutes, he crammed food down his throat, ignoring his family. Not that he should pay attention. He knew they’d be talking about their day—which meant they’d either remained home or gone out and done some monotonous chore he didn’t care about—or inquiring about his day, which he knew they didn’t care about.
“Vel, answer your son,” Glendys said, a trace of heat in her voice.
Velturo looked to Benford. He was playing with his food, instead of eating it. You could put the world’s best food in front of him, and he still won’t eat. No respect. He turned to Culbern, who stared at him. Waiting. “What did you say, ah-hah?”
“Papa, I wanted to know how things went with the mean one.”
Velturo glanced at his wife, who just nodded, expecting him to answer.
“The woman who sits across from you, Papa.” Duchess Arena Hyrel. Why is he bringing her up?
“Everything went well, Cully. We even voted together on the same policy. Now eat your food before it gets cold, ah-hah.”
Culbern took a bite, then furrowed his brow. This could only mean one thing—another question. “But Papa, she hates you. Why would you help her?”
Velturo grumbled a curse or two.
“Answer your son.”
“Sometimes you need to work with people you don’t like to make other moves. It’s like Checkknight… which, if you’d ever learn to play, would give you a better understanding of politics and strategy, ah-hah.”
“Checkknight is boring, Papa.”
“You’re boring!” Velturo said, slamming his fist on the table. No respect! Nobody had any respect for him. Even if he thought Checkknight was boring, too, he wanted to at least teach his sons the art.
“Velturo Ondakka, what’s the matter with you?” Glendys stood, lips curled back and her teeth bared like a rabid dog. He heard his sons crying.
“I’m full.” He wasn’t. “It’s time for bed.” He’d lay in bed staring at the ceiling. “Good night, ah-hah.”
“You’re leaving? You haven’t even had dessert!”
Velturo never left without dessert. “I won’t tolerate the lack of respect anymore, ah-hah!” And he stormed out.
He laid in bed, staring at the ceiling, stomach rumbling. As he knew he would. His wife came to bed late. As he knew she would. She tried to talk to him, and he pretended he slept, even though he knew she knew he wasn’t asleep. It happened as he knew it would. Once Velturo was sure she was dreaming, he snuck out, ate his fill of lamb root pie, and a heaping serving of chocolate custard. He thought about Ardus. “If you upset my sister, I will kill you,” he’d said. Velturo believed it. He’d need to fix things tomorrow night. He’d take the day to clear his mind, and hoped she’d do the same.
The next day, he woke, skipped breakfast, and stormed out of the house without an escort. Upon reflection later, he’d realized this should’ve meant something.
Velturo went to a local restaurant, ate a meal, attended the meeting at the Great Hall… except there wasn’t one. He’d apparently missed the part during the previous meeting when King Garcovi had cancelled today’s. Nothing unusual. Velturo had just missed it—which explained why his guards hadn’t met him. I must’ve been busy eating. He didn’t want to go home, so he milled about the city, realizing how nice it was to be alone. No wife, no children, no escort. Although the occasional glance from people of meager wealth unnerved him, he otherwise enjoyed not having a servant doting on him, or a guard steering him in various directions.
At midday, Velturo went home. It’d be earlier than usual, but perhaps he’d be able to fix things with Glendys. This wasn’t the first time they’d argued, nor would it be the last. He didn’t want the issue to linger between them.
Upon entering his house, he felt it was quieter than normal. Peeking into his children's room, he found them both asleep. He didn’t know they still slept during the day, but then again, he avoided them most of the time. Servants and his wife took care of them, as it should be. His father had once told him there was a reason his relationship with Velturo frayed over the years. “It’s not a family that makes a man,” he’d said, “it’s what he can provide for his family. A man with a family he can’t take care of is no man. If he won’t take care of his family, he won’t bother with himself. And a man who doesn’t care about himself isn’t reliable. Remember this when you become a father, and your children complain about your absence.” Velturo hadn’t understood the advice at the time, but it made sense now. And it was a great excuse to get out of the house.
He heard what sounded like a gasp, then a scream coming from his wife. Velturo hurried towards the sound, finding himself in the hall outside his bedroom. Glendys was within, making guttural, breathy noises. Pleasured noises he’d never heard out of her. The door to the room wasn’t completely latched, so he edged it open. Velturo peeked inside and his eyes met a frightening sight—his wife, legs spread in a “v” and up in the air, a hairy and thin man on top of her, giving Glendys the hammer and nail treatment. Velturo gasped, pulling back from the doorway. There wasn’t a moment in his marriage Velturo had any delusions of grandeur. They weren’t the perfect family. She’d married him for a better life. He’d married her because he couldn’t find any other prospects, and she was prettier than most. No respect. No fucking respect. Nobody treats me right! And it was true. Nobody treated him right. But what could he do about that? Nothing.
Instead of raising a fuss over the matter—no doubt she was acting out in spite of their previous argument—he stifled his anger and retrieved a significant portion of chocolate custard. Something to ease the mind. He sat at the head of the table, pleased with the rebellious act. Perhaps things could be different now. Perhaps I’ll take charge. My father would kill me if he saw how I was treated. “You’ve become a nursemaid,” his father would’ve said. And he had. Without the nursing. Or the maid. He was ordered around like one, however.
He finished his custard and remained in the chair, waiting for Glendys to catch him in the act. When Glendys appeared, however, she took him off guard, because next to her, red and sweaty, stood her brother, Ardus.
“Velturo, you’re home,” Glendys said, surprised.
He took a moment to clear his mind, realizing his wife was fucking her brother. His wife was fucking her brother. Disgusting!
“You’re fucking each other, ah-hah?”
They gave each other a look. These are the parents of my sons? A brother and sister? He felt sickened.
“If you tell anyone, I will kill you,” Ardus said. Velturo believed him.
“I want my chair back, ah-hah.” It was the only request he had.
“Fine,” Glendys said. “Twice a week Ardus comes here.”
Velturo wanted to retch. No respect. But life was politics, and there wasn’t respect within politics. He ground his teeth together. “Fine, ah-hah.” That damned laugh. It’d never make him sound fearsome.
It wasn’t worth fighting over. He would’ve had to get divorced, which would cripple his tenuous position in Lochwall. He’d become more of a laughing-stock than he already was. Velturo had his chair back. Starting today, he’d work to become the man his father assumed he would be. Even if the road meant he’d get no respect from anyone. No respect, he thought. Nobody has any fucking respect for me.
And they didn’t. But he lived with that knowledge just fine.