That’s a tough pill to swallow. Most people just flat out refuse to do so. Not me though. I know better. I should have known better, at least. That’s where the regret comes in.

Marley was a business partner of mine, selling luxury condos in the Cayman Islands. Sounds more glamorous than it is. Mostly it’s just a bunch of paperwork and wooing rich wives of absent rich executives so that they buy our properties. Not a bad gig, but not too interesting either.

Once a year, though, it’s interesting.

Our property manager down in the Caymans is a company called “Isla Hoy.” I asked somebody what that meant once and they told me “Today Island,” or “Island Today,” or some crap like that. I don’t really get where that comes from, but what do I know? I just sell the land. Once a year I actually get to see it all, because “Isla Hoy” is insistent on an owner review and inspection annually. I’m more than happy to oblige. The condos are beautiful, I stay in a nice hotel, and the sunshine and mai tais aren’t too bad either. Everything was great, or good enough, anyway. That is, until Marley got involved.

I make it a habit to only hire people I trust, and the really important stuff I leave for myself. You ever stab yourself in your own back? It’s difficult, and that’s why I take care of the big things alone. It’s easy for someone else to reach that spot on your back when you least expect it. So I don’t let it happen. Some government seizure on the east side of the island changed all of that. Land was being sold for nothing. It was a feeding frenzy, but I’m the biggest shark. The fastest, anyway. I was first in line. In three weeks the amount of property I owned had tripled. I was going to need some help.

That’s where Marley came in.  I knew that I needed a partner, or at least a dang good assistant, so I started putting the feelers out there. I let it be known that I was looking for somebody interested in the right kind of opportunity. I get a call from my sister telling me that her nephew is right for the job. That should have been my first flag. Nepotism has a nasty way of tearing down a good, strong business. She whined about it until I relented and told her I’d give the kid an interview. What could that hurt? I figured I’d humor her and then hire somebody serious, somebody real. I went ahead and set up a date.

I have to hand it to him, the kid interviews well. Good school, not that I went to one. Good grades, not that I had gotten them. He had an infectious smile and he motioned really big with his hands. He seemed full of ideas and drive for something better. He kept talking about growth and expansion- two things I’d only ever pursued when the opportunity came along. Somehow, all of the things that had never impressed me before- a fancy education, the approval of some professors I’ve never looked in the eye, and big ideas in the grand snake oil style- they impressed me. That was my second mistake.

I took him on, and true to his word, he got right down to business. Sold three properties in two weeks, and that’s nothing to shake a stick at. Rent from one of those properties alone pays my nut, and each additional sale is just money in the bank.  My earlier suspicion aside, I was starting to think I had made the right choice in an assistant.

Time went on. Properties sold. Marley found us some primo property offshore, and before you knew it we were in the private island business. I hadn’t ever thought to sell whole islands to bored millionaires, but the kid was passionate, and he was family, and it brought in some dough, so who was I to judge? I let him do it. I looked over his shoulder and made sure he dotted his t’s and crossed his i’s- and I meant to say that backwards, trust me. It took off. Started earning a positive income in less than a year. Marley made me money, I made him a partner.

My third mistake was easing off. I used to do late nights in the office when there was a lot to finish up. I take care of the important stuff myself, remember? But this kid Marley started offering to stay with me and help. He’d buy coffee, we’d work till late together. Eventually he just offered to stay and do it himself. I might as well have burned the place down the first night I finally agreed. I don’t know if it’s because I got old or tired, but the kid started working when I wasn’t looking, and I had given the okay.

You know the rest of the story. You know about the bodies they found, the missing persons buried in unmarked cemeteries on my islands. You know about the drug safe-houses, the cartel conspiracies, and all of that racket. I hear we even rented out one of my islands off of Nova Scotia to a Canadian forger. Money Launderer. What do you call it? A counterfeiter, that’s right. Anyway, crime being sheltered by my company to an unprecedented degree, enabling the free reign of pushers, murderers, runners, and general crooks for something like six years.

And now I’m in here, talking to you while my great nephew Marlow, or whatever the heck he is to me, is off running his next venture in plain sight up in Eugene, Oregon. The paper trail is squeaky clean for him, and me- it all pointed back to me, and that’s why I’m stuck in this place, rotting inside four walls.

So you ask me if I have regrets? Yeah I have regrets. Three of ‘em that I just told you about.

I should have never let him learn my signature for business deals. That was my fourth mistake.


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