He counted the coins displayed upon the surface of his desk. Stacks of shining gold and silver lined up twenty high in three rows of ten. It was so good. Years ago, he never imagined he would be at this point in his life.
He grew up in a poor family, his parents always scraping to get by. He watched his father struggle working ten-plus-hour days to bring home a small paycheck. His mother struggled to make sure the kids had enough food to eat. They fought a lot in case his mother bought too much food at the market and there wasn’t enough money left to buy wood for the fireplace or something else they’d need.
They never fought too much to the point where one of them left the other. No, mother was always home – she had no where else to go even if she did want to leave them. Father always came home at the end of the day from his work. Maybe it was because he was too tired to leave. All he wanted to do was come home, put his feet up, and rest. It was a steady place for him to come back to and if he had left, he’d have to find a new place. It certainly wouldn’t be as warm and cozy as his mother set their house up to be.
There were siblings as well. He had three sisters and one brother. The sisters helped out their mother in the kitchen and with the other house chores. His brother and he sometimes went to work with their father or they went out and did other errands for their mother while they’re father was out of the house.
It was a rough childhood. They always struggled. They always found time to be together as a family though as well. They always had something to laugh about. They couldn’t afford such entertainment as a radio but they made do with what they had. He and siblings made up their own games and had plenty of fun with their parents using their imagination and creativity.
Now here he was, counting his stacks of coins. While there were fond memories of his childhood, he didn’t want his children to grow up in such conditions. His mother had gotten terrible sick and passed away not too long ago. If only he had the money then to take care of her and get her the proper medicine she needed. At least he was able to allow his father to live comfortably in his old age.
Although, with his father had a broken heart from his wife passing away, he wondered if his father was not too far behind.
All three of his sisters had married and moved away. They were long gone. The last he heard was that his youngest sister was going to have a baby. However, they never saw one another and he wasn’t sure how he’d be able to help them with that. Telegrams took quite a while to get where they needed to go.
His brother, on the other hand, had left them long ago as well. He had left the village in search of a better life for himself. He wanted to marry, settle down and have a family of his own. He didn’t know where his brother was. They hadn’t spoken to one another in a long time.
He still lived with his father in his childhood home. No more siblings and no more mother. At least he and his father had each other.
So, the coins on his desk kept stacking higher and higher as he counted. He was considered the richest man in the village. He handed out his money when people truly needed it. He bought the company his father worked for and fired the original owners. They never paid his father enough money and never truly appreciated the hard work he put into his work. Now he owned the company and he gave all the employees raises and lowered the prices on the stocks. Everyone wanted to work there, though there were no more open positions.
Everyone shopped there because it was cheaper. That was how he had gotten some of his money. Not all of it though. He couldn’t become this rich from that one company no matter what he did.
Yes, he had a side business that not even his father knew about. If his father knew about it, he surely would die of a heart attack. Or worse, he’d leave his son all together.
He stacked another set of gold coins, pushing it gently to the corner of his desk. The last person he hired for this particular job wanted quite a bit of coins. Normally he’d fight and be a bit cheaper about it. However, he had hired this man for a pretty big job.
Leaning back in his chair, he looked out the window at the village. On the top of the hill far away lay the castle. It was so far away that it didn’t seem as though there was anyone living there. Of course, the king never seemed to pay too much attention to this village. It was another reason he struggled so much as a child. There were a lot of people who had wronged his father through work and payment and then there were more people still who had wronged his mother when she became ill.
This village was nothing in the eyes of the royalty. Why? He had no idea why. It had been that way ever since he was a child. They only began to pay attention to him when he become the richest man in the village. He was just about the richest man in the kingdom, aside from the royals. The king had wanted him for certain jobs but he always refused.
The royals graciously gave him and his father a bigger home. They offered more to his sibling even though they had already run from the village themselves. He accepted all the kind gestures and gifts from the royals though he never agreed to anything. He knew they were buttering him up. He wasn’t going to work for them. He wasn’t going to sell them anything. He had worked too hard and the royals had worked too little. They didn’t deserve to have his help.
He counted one last stack of gold coins. He counted it slow.
One. Two. Three.
He glanced back out the window at the quiet castle. He had sent his hired help to the castle about five days ago. It was a decent journey to make it to the castle and he knew the task itself would take some time.
Four. Five. Six.
His ears tuned into the music the coins made when they stacked up top one another. His hired help would not get paid until he heard the panic outside.
Seven. Eight. Nine.
As if on cue, there was bustle at the castle. A young woman screamed. A man shouted, “The king is dead!”