Post by Thaddeus Duke on Jul 2, 2021 19:47:02 GMT -5
Woolworth Tower || Tribeca – New York City || 9:12 PM
We took a break from the interview so I could get my son to bed and to call my ex, Liz, in North Carolina. She has my other kids with her at her parents place as they wait for the impending doom of her father David. Liz is an awesome woman and a great mother to all three of my kids. Even Frankie, who she technically has no real legal parentage over. He came into our lives like an adorable little wrecking ball while her and I were together and she loves him as much as I do. Frankie wants her as his mother and I’m happy to oblige.
As I was doing my fatherly things, Edward took time to look around the mansion in the sky. Mufasa stalked him for quite awhile but kept his distance. The OCW journalist is no threat, Mufasa knows it. Had he been, he’d have cornered Edward in a room and not let him move. He’s a truly loyal beast to me and even more so to Frankie. That’s his boy.
Fatherhood trumps everything. My day jobs as an actor or wrestler or even as the leader of a military power does and always will play second fiddle to being father to ten year old Francis, and five week old Caitlyn and Talon. OCW will get their interviews. Edward will get to do his job. Except only on my time though and never at the expense of my children. Never.
Once my call is complete and Frankie is in bed, I catch up with Edward in my trophy room. It isn’t what it sounds like. Really, it’s just a room overlooking the city that I sometimes use to contemplate life. It just happens to have a glass case inside that holds my championships.
“Sorry Ed,” I say to the journalist, rejoining him in the trophy room as he takes a look at my championships. “Duty calls and it waits for no one.”
“No apologies necessary,” Ed offers as I gesture him toward a sofa against an interior wall. “I’m on your time.” We both take our seats at opposite ends as he opens his notebook. “We left off Thaddeus, discussing dethroning your father and seizing his crown for yourself...”
“To be clear,” I begin my answer, interrupting his line of questioning. “It wasn’t about the crown. I didn’t want to lead anything but a normal life. I didn’t want to be King and in most ways I still don’t,” I pause in reflection. “The reason I did it was because the American government was warning me to take action before they did. As much as what I did was because of doubt that my father could effectively lead, it was also about preserving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
“Including my fathers. Maybe even my own.”
“What was that like for you?” he asks as he leans in, interested in hearing my answer. Noticing my hesitation, he expands further on his question. “You’re saying you went to war with your father. As a son, that had to effect you.”
“Of course it did,” I answer quickly. “Have you ever fought with your father, Ed?”
He nods. Of course he has. We’ve all fought with parents or loved ones.
“Now put guns in your hands,” I pause for effect. “Bring half of your family and point tanks at the other half of your family while they’re pointing guns and tanks back at you. Now add in the fact that you have to kill a lot of your family, those on their side and yours in order to save the many.
“How do you think it felt?” I pose to him.
“I couldn’t imagine,” he begins but stops.
“It was torture,” I admit to him. “The Illuminatus Nation is a family. A half million strong, but family. There’s really no one that knows what its like to stand in my shoes. To make the decisions that I have to make. To carry the burden that any one of your decisions could lead to the death of many of those you love.”
“Let’s fast forward a little,” Edward prefaces. “You had a plane shot down over Long Island Sound a few years ago.”
I nod confirmation.
“What can you tell us about it?” he asks, again seemingly very interested.
“Mistakes were made,” I begin to explain. “There are threats on my life nearly every day. As time goes on, you become complacent, you become numb to the idea that someone would rather see you dead than alive.
“An entity known as the Ares Project, a growing group of rejected former American soldiers, and I assume at this point from others countries too, took it upon themselves to label a now officially U.N. recognized state a terrorist organization and sought to have me and my father both executed.
“I’d never claim my tactics or my wars to be totally above legal… no wars are… but a terrorist organization is something we are not. By this time the wars were over. Vatican City was under Illuminatus control, the civil war ended with the surrender and arrest of my father. We thought we’d earned the right to live free alongside the other freedom loving countries of the world.”
Taking a breath here to clear my throat and choke back emotion, I think back quickly to the toll my life has taken on others.
“I was wrong,” I continue on.
“I didn’t take the threats seriously.
“They sat on boats on the Sound and shot down my plane. Dozens of my people perished that day.”
“Yet you lived,” Edward interjects. “How?”
“Plot armor,” I joke with a smile. “An escape pod.”
“What was next for Thaddeus Duke?” he asks pointedly.
“I sat on the beach by myself and watched my plane with my people still aboard plunge into the ocean,” I answer him, this time not hiding my emotion. “Sitting there watching what was left of the wreckage burn on the surface… it got to me.
“My cell had suffered a busted screen but I sent one text before throwing it into the sea. I told my Chief of Staff that I was alive, but to pretend I wasn’t. I thought that if I just pretended I was someone else that people would stop dying for me, so I stayed in New York.
“My mother was adopted when she was a baby and I knew it. So, I took the time to find her birth family which saw me land on the doorstep of her biological father, Alister Henry.”
“And this is where things get complicated for you, correct?”
“Ed,” I begin to answer him before pausing to gather my thoughts. “Nothing about my life is simple no matter how much I wish it was. My mother died by my fathers hand when I was just an infant. She was born in New York and really, New York was the only place I could go that made me feel any connection to her at all. So, in finding Alister, I also adopted the name Jameson Henry. I lived with him and started working for him as his collector.
“He’s a well connected man in the New York underworld and loan sharking was his game,” I pause as I recall fondly some things about that time period. “I don’t have the most intimidating of faces so when I went about collecting for him I adopted one of those light up purge masks that had a voice augmenter installed in it.”
“So you went from leading a nation to collecting debts for a New York mafioso,” he summarizes. “Is it something you enjoyed?”
I shake my head in response. “I did my best to use my charm to collect,” I answer him. “A lot of times that worked, sometimes it didn’t.”
“What happened when it didn’t?” he asks quickly.
“Nothing good,” I answer back. “Forcing myself to do bad things to otherwise good people whose only real crime was to fall on hard times and have no way out? All in an effort to endear myself to my mothers father that never knew her anyway?”
I scoff thinking about it now.
“The only thing it did for me was put life into perspective for me,” I tell Edward of my time with Alister. “I wasn’t the person I attempted to be and it just made me want to go home to Connecticut.”
“That’s not all you got out of your time with Mr. Henry though,” he says as he holds up a picture in front of my face of my twin son and daughter and even now it feels strange to think those terms. “Is it?”
Seeing their picture makes me smile. “It isn’t,” I answer honestly. “I spent six months living with Alister and I fell in love with his wife, Elizabeth. Or at least, what I thought was in love, at the time.”
“She’s the mother of your twins,” Edward suggests and I nod confirmation. “How did that come about?”
To be continued.