Truth (Consequences #2) by Aleatha Romig

Prologue

July 2011...

The tires of their Chevy Equinox bounced along the worn pavement and dilapidated surface of Bristol Road. Peering through the windshield at the signs of a dying city, Rich Bosley wondered if this was how the old west felt when the gold rush ended. Acres and acres of fenced concrete occupied each side of the decrepit street. At one time during Flint, Michigan’s prime, cars filled these parking lots twenty-four hours a day. Three shifts of workers came and went from these factories. Today it represented urban decay at its utmost.

In 1908 General Motors opened their newly founded headquarters in Flint. Generations of workers walked through the doors; each generation believed theirs would do better than the one before. The tides turned with the oil crisis of the seventies and the nationwide plant closings of the eighties.

But, like rain to the parched ground, optimism returned to Flint at the turn of the century. GM invested 60 million dollars to upgrade the plant. Over 2,000 hourly workers and 180 salaried workers frequented the building they passed. Honest work for honest pay. This blue collar haven once again bustled with activity.

Then during the latter part of the first decade, the auto industry suffered collapse. Some plants scheduled for closing were saved by private investors. Businessmen and women gave hope where hope was lost. These saviors required assistance. Workers agreed to lesser wages. The dream for better became a need for anything. Michigan’s government granted tax breaks in the supreme effort to keep the factories open and give people purpose.

The tax breaks expired. Workers were asked to accept even lower wages. It was inconsequential; the economy couldn’t support the product. Only the bottom line mattered. With no incentive to keep the doors open, men and women in insulated executive offices, miles away, made lofty decisions. The result filled Rich’s view: building upon empty building, decaying skeletons of what once was.

Rich thought about his father’s recent proposal. The prospect of moving back to Iowa felt like defeat. After all, was the banking business better in Iowa than in Michigan? The economy was a national issue. Rich and his wife, Sarah, had faith in this city. They were willing to work to make it better for their son and children to come.

Rich peered to his right and smiled at his lovely wife engrossed in her magazine. “How can you read with all of these bumps?” Her normally styled hair hung from the opening in her baseball cap, and her business attire replaced with jeans and a Tiger’s t-shirt. It was their son’s first year of baseball, rookie league. It was more about learning team work than learning baseball. However, if you ask the players, it was more about snacks. Sarah provided homemade cupcakes -- a homerun!

“I’m just so amazed by this article.”

“What are you reading?”

“Vanity Fair. It’s the cover story from a couple months ago. I forgot I’d left the magazine in here. I just found it.” Rich nodded; he wasn’t interested. “It’s about Anthony Rawlings and his wife. Didn’t your dad go to their wedding?”

“Yes, I think so. It’s one of the perks of being Richard Bosley, the great governor of Iowa. You get to smooze with big donors.”

“I remember him mentioning it. It sounds amazing.” Sarah rambled, “The wedding was at their estate. So that means your dad went to their estate?”

“I guess. I’m honestly not impressed.”

“Why not? It sounds like they’re both involved in charity work. Did you know his wife was a bartender when he met her?”

“The man makes his money harming other people.”

“It doesn’t sound like that. It sounds like an amazing love story. Can you imagine, being an out of work meteorologist, working as a bartender, and falling in love with one of the countries billionaires?”

“Again, where did those billions come from?”

“It says something about the internet.”

“Yes. According to my father that’s where it started. Anthony Rawlings has managed to take that start and feed off of the unfortunate circumstances of others. He’s personally unemployed enough people to fill these factories.”

“He also employs enough people to fill these factories.” Sarah peered at the barren landscape. “I think people are just jealous. I mean, I could be. What woman wouldn’t love to suddenly have Claire Rawlings’ life?”

The sound of their son’s voice refocused the couple’s thoughts. Instead of dwelling on urban decay and the nation’s economy, Rich saw the blond hair of hope in the backseat. “Dad, I need to pee.” Ryan pleaded wide eyed at his dad in the rearview mirror.

“Ryan, we’ll be home in a few minutes. You can wait.”

“No, Dad, I can’t. I gots to pee now!”

Rich’s eyes met his wife’s. Her expression said everything he already knew; this wasn’t the neighborhood to stop. If they could just drive a little further. However, Ryan’s voice whined and his little legs fidgeted with need. “I see a gas station. Stop, pl-ea-se.” The last word elongated into three extended syllables.

Against his better judgment Richard Bosley II, turned the Equinox into a parking space outside of a Speedway. He turned to his wife, “I’ll go in with him. Besides, it’s the middle of the day, and it doesn’t look busy.”

Sarah smiled and unbuckled her seatbelt. “Okay guys, let’s get this over with and back on the road. We have a baseball game to watch. I recorded the whole thing. Ryan, wait until you see yourself get that great hit!”