On her thirteenth birthday, I was awakened by a drip on my forehead. I slitted my eyes open and saw Sindy, my lovin’ livin’ doll, staring at me with with her big baby blues all tinged in red and drool slavering off her lips. Her precious cornsilk hair was unbrushed for once, and matted with sweat. There was a smell of blood in the air.
All parents await this day with dread: my little girl had grown up. It was a good thing she took after her mother rather than me or my throat would have been torn out already. I’m too sentimental, I’m the first to admit it, but her mother’s a creampuff; that’s why I’m a CEO and she’s in politics.
I sprang up hard as I could, smashing my forehead into Sindy’s face. Her nose crunched pretty good before she reeled back, so I knew I had a vital moment. I didn’t waste it, flipping up and out of my bed on the other side. I grabbed the Venetian stiletto from beneath the pillow first, of course. A memory of my honeymoon flitted across my mind. Ah, Venice… Sindy had been concieved there, in this very bed. I’d bought it and had it shipped home.
My back gave a twinge from the run-in with Peter of Accounting. What a monster… but I’d gotten her scholarship money. It would have cost me an arm or a leg to approach the Finance Committee of the Business School For Prodigies without that commitment. Shame about Peter, the kid had had a future, but dynasty comes first. I’d look after his family.
I crouched, ready to hamstring a leg or hack an arm depending on how frisky she was feeling, hoping like hell I wouldn’t have to gut her. I promised myself I wouldn’t behead her no matter what. I love her too much not to give her every chance. My little girl, my pride and joy, my Sindy.
She only staggered for a few dozen heartbeats, maybe half a minute.Then she crouched, too, hissing at me. I’d have to break her of that but hell, we all do it at first. Even I did, when I was a boy, the first few times I raged.
I bent my knees a little more and bounced on the balls of my toes. I put my right hand back, to palm the machete beneath the nightstand, while holding the shiny stiletto high in my left hand, drawing her attention.
I was trying to look subtly off-balance. Would she see it, and lunge toward my right? If I could inflict a whole lot of muscle tissue damage really fast with the machete, she wouldn’t be laid up long… like I said, I’m sentimental. Also, I’ll admit, I didn’t want to nursemaid her too long while she healed, I’m a busy guy, but mostly I was thinking of her. I waited for her to move.
When she did, a black watery weakness spilled into my veins. It was a moment before I recognized it. Fear. I was afraid. I was looking at my baby girl, and I was afraid for her.
My little darling had sat down.
Well, sat back anyway. She still had her feet under her. All the same, she’d relaxed… She looked at me with her patriot eyes, red-white-and-blue, and with drool still running down her chin asked me, “You’ve got a holdout don’t you Daddy?”
“Omigod.” I hunkered down across from her, letting the stiletto drop. I didn’t let go of it, but I let it drop. That’s how shocked I was. “Omigod. You talked. You’re… you’re thinking.”
She didn’t lunge, despite my increased vulnerability.
Her voice was soft, affectless, dreamy even… her eyes were still wide and watchful though. “You held the stiletto for a downward stroke, but your angle was bad. I could have gotten past to your right, had a shot at your neck, for no more than an arm wound or maybe a kidney. Unless you have something else by your right hand where I can’t see. You do, don’t you?”
Her thinking was all wrong, of course. She had no conception of how fast I am. While she was rushing me, even if I’d only had the stiletto I could turn sideways, get the blade down to where she’d impale herself on it, use my greater reach and weight to pin her down, get her in her own throat or pink out her eyes. She wasn’t thinking all that well, but the fact she was thinking at all filled me with black foreboding.
She wasn’t going to make it. Thinking is good, thinking is great, but she should have been running on pure ferocious instinct now, unstoppable animal jagtlust. Thinking comes later, in business you have to be a killer to the bone first of all, and layer your discipline and control and technique atop that irreplaceable base. Anything less is second best, and doomed to failure.
But a perverse hope still flared in my heart… if she did have the instinct, the true gift, and she was still thinking in spite of that first rush of the bloodlust…
My wonderful baby girl. So deceptively fragile looking, so strong, so smart and fast, so much potential, such a worthy heir for my dynasty. How could I stand it? I had to take a chance. I’m her father, I love her from the bottom of my businessman’s heart, and I think I mentioned I’m a bit sentimental.
Slowly and carefully I threw the stiletto off to the side, into the corner out of both our reaches. Then I raised the machete and threw it atop the first blade, with a ringing clatter. Sindy’s eyes opened yet wider.
I stood up and held out my arms. “Congrats, sweetie,” I said, choking up a little. “Come to Daddy. Let me teach you how to be a winner.”
She blinked, and tears suddenly spilled down her cheeks. She said, “I knew you loved me, Daddy!” and came over the bed into my arms. I hesitated a long beat, my testicles tight up against me in anticipation of a blow that never came. She buried her head against my shoulder, well away from my neck. My eyes misted up. I kissed the top of her head, folded my arms around her, stroked her shaking gymnast’s back.
If only she’d attacked me then, I would still have groomed her to take over after me. As it was… the dynasty comes first. Always. With tears on my own cheeks, I bent her backward until her spine gave that familiar wet crunch. She fought me then, with an admirable level of inchoate fury, but without the use of her legs she didn’t have a prayer. Nerve tissue doesn’t heal. She’ll never succeed in business.
She might still make it in politics, like her mother. It’s a second best career path, but I’ll do my best to support her in that, if she wants to. The dynasty comes first, though, more than anything I need a successor with enough killer instinct – ability and intelligence alone aren’t enough, as Sindy proved. On her birthday too… unlucky thirteen! She had ability and intelligence, and almost enough rage. Almost but not quite. So very close, it makes me want to cry.
With a double dose of my own killer blood, though, our offspring just might be all that the dynasty needs… if it doesn’t also double up on the sentimentality.