by Jim Foreman
To say that Travis Thornton Taylor the Third was born with a silver spoon in his mouth would be the understatement of the year. Judged by the usual monetary standards, one could say that he was born with enough silverware in his mouth for formal place settings for at least sixty-four people, plus a silver tea service and a couple candle holders. On the day of his birth, he was a certifiable millionaire.
Travis T. Taylor III was the first, and only, child of T. T. Taylor, Jr. who, in turn was the only child of T. Thornton Taylor, Sr., the richest and most vicious lawyer that San Francisco had ever seen. Whenever he went into the courtroom to represent either side in an argument, he usually came out in possession of everything that both parties owned.
He seemed to have the uncanny ability of being on the spot at any disaster, ready to defend the legal and financial interests of everyone involved. Within an hour after an airplane crash, train wreck, explosion, fire or other man-made made disaster, he would be at the court house, filing multi-million dollar law suits for everyone who was killed or injured. For the survivors who sustained no injuries, he would file damage suits for the mental anguish and fear that they suffered while thinking that they might have been injured. He even filed lawsuits for people who heard the news about a disaster and felt sorrow for those who were killed. He was able to work things around to where, even when he lost a case, he would still receive huge legal fees.
By investing his money in San Francisco real estate, mostly downtown business building, his wealth grew at an even faster rate until he became one of the nation's first billionaires. He not only sat on the boards and held first mortgages on most of the assets of a number of banks, airlines, shiplines, railroads, steel mills, oil companies and other large corporation; usually he was also their chief legal council on huge retainer fees. Few dollars flowed in any direction in San Francisco without a few cents from each one dropping into one of his bank accounts.
His son, T.T. Taylor, Jr., was his real estate manager, receiving a fee of twenty percent of the income from the properties that he managed, so he could hardly be considered as a member of the poverty class. All of the Taylor holdings, which were vast in nature, were grouped under the corporate name of Taylor Enterprises, Inc. with its offices occupying several floors of the massive downtown building which also bore the Taylor name.
When the senior Taylor heard the news that his daughter-in-law was bound for the hospital to deliver his first grandchild, he called his accountant. "Set up a trust fund with an initial deposit of one million dollars for my grandson who will be born within the next few hours. Have my financial department handle investing it for the highest possible growth. Return all earnings back into the fund to be reinvested. Charge any losses which might occur to some of my other accounts so I can take them off my taxes. There will be only three provisions governing the fund. First; my grandson must graduate from Golden Gate College with a degree in either law or economics. Second; he will not be able to touch a penny of the earnings from the fund until he is twenty-five years of age. Third; he cannot touch the original investment or more than ten percent of the earnings from it until he forty years of age."
"Should I wait until they name the child to put a name on the fund?" asked the accountant.
"I've already decided that it will be a boy and what his name will be," he answered. "Make the trust out in the name of Travis Thornton Taylor III."
Travis T. Taylor III grew up as any normal multi-millionaire boy would. He had his own valet, was driven anywhere he needed to go in a Rolls Royce limo with black windows, attended a very private boy's school where no child was allowed unless his parents were worth at least a million dollars and received his own gold credit card for his tenth birthday.
For his high school education, Travis was sent to an exclusive boy's school on the east coast, where they were taught not only the basic subjects, but also those special skills which he would need in later life; such as polo, formal dancing and how to be a snob. For some unaccounted reason, he was totally unaffected by the lessons in snobbery and grew up to be a nice, normal young man.
Travis had led such a sheltered life that he knew almost nothing about girls except that those who were brought in from an equally exclusive girl's school for the weekly dances were soft and smelled good. Some of the other boys, especially those who came from families with only a few million dollars, claimed to have had all sorts of sexual experiences. Since the raging teenage boy hormones were running amok in his body, Travis found those stories not only exciting but also frustrating because he knew so little about the subject.
One of his fellow students came in one day with exciting news. He had heard about a girl in town who liked sex so much that she hung out around the park on Saturday, just waiting for boys to pick her up. The more boys that she could take on at one time, the better that she liked it. Not only was she a nymphomaniac, but she had her own car and would gladly drive boys out to the country to give them a little. They said that she had been with so many boys that everyone called her the "Punchboard".
Plans were made for the great conquest. Whispered conversations were exchanged about how they were going to recognize her and how to go about asking her. Finally, the student who had brought the original news said that he knew a boy in town who could point her out for them and that since she was always so horny, they stood a better chance if all of them asked her at once.
Five of them checked out with the headmaster to go to town for a late afternoon movie to be followed by Pizza. "Check-in time is nine, sharp," he told them, never realizing that their plans included far greater things than films and food.
It was getting dusk when they left the movie and walked to the park where they were scheduled to meet their benefactor who would point out "Punchboard" to them. When they arrived, he told them that she hadn't shown up yet and he had to go home. He did furnish them with a description; she had red hair and would be driving a brown Dodge sedan. Armed with such precise information, there was no way that they could miss her when she showed up. As the boy walked away, Travis called to him, "Hey, we don't even know her name. We can't just walk up to some girl and ask if she is the one who everyone calls "Punchboard".
"Oh, yeah. her name is Doris," he replied, "But she's kind of like an old dog; she'll answer to most anything."
As they stood on the corner under a street light, discussing how they would make their first move when she showed up, a brown Dodge drove slowly along the street. As it passed, they could see that a girl with red hair was driving it. "That's her," one whispered, "But she isn't stopping." They watched as the car turned the corner to circle around the block. As it came back up the street where they were standing, she slowed and pulled to the curb. "Oh shit, she stopped," he whispered. "What do we do now?"
"Let's just walk over by her car and see if she gets out or says anything," another suggested.
They moved toward the car in a tight little huddle, drawing courage from one another as they went.
"Hi guys," she said as they approached. "You from that snooty school up on the hill where all the rich boys go?"
"Yeah, we go to Wadsworth Academy," Travis replied, thankful that she had freed from having to make the first move.
"Your name Doris?" asked their leader.
"Sure is. What's yours?" she asked.
"Percivil Farnsworth," he replied.
"Jeez, how come all you rich kids have such wimpy names? Why didn't your parents give you real Macho names like Brad or Lance?" said Doris.
"I was named after my father," he replied.
"She doesn't give a shit what your old man's name is," whispered Travis.
"You want to have a coke or Pizza or something?" asked the leader.
"I'm interested in something alright, but it ain't cokes or Pizza. You got any beer or booze on you?" she asked, striking a kitchen match on a spoke in the steering wheel and lighting the cigarette which hung from her brightly painted lips.
She appeared to be three or four years older than any of them and, while she did have red hair, she was far from being pretty. In fact, as she pulled a big drag on the cigarette and blew the smoke out the window at them, she looked a lot older and even less attractive.
"You boys like to go for a ride?" she asked.
"Sure, I suppose so," replied the leader.
"OK, but my car is nearly empty, any of you got a ten-spot on you for a tank of gas?"
All five boys reached for their wallets at the same time and as bills appeared, she plucked them in quick succession. "Hop in," she said as they scrambled to get into the car.
She swung the car around in the middle of the block and drove straight toward the outskirts of the town. Being a rather small town, it was only a short drive before they left the houses and were driving along a wooded lane. She turned into a small driveway leading to an old building which was falling down and pulled to a stop in a secluded area under some trees. From the way that she located the parking space so easily, it was obvious that this was far from her first trip to it.
She opened her door and got out, followed by the five boys. Then she lifted her dress, exposing the fact that she wasn't wearing panties and climbed into the back seat. She spread her legs and said. "OK, who's going to be first?"
Travis and the other boys looked at one another for a few seconds and then played a quick game of "Oddzies" to determine the order in which they would be relieved of their virginity. As luck would have it, Travis came out last in line.
Number one dropped his trousers and shorts to around his knees and climbed into the back seat with Doris. A couple minutes of frantic humping and it was over and time for number two.
Travis had never given much thought to the circumstances under which he would have his first experience with a girl, but being number five to gang-screw an ugly girl in the back seat of a brown Dodge certainly wasn't what he had in mind. The whole thing had become a bit too base and sordid for his tastes.
Number four emerged from the Dodge, pulled up his pants and said, "OK, Taylor, your turn."
"I think that I'll pass," Travis replied.
"You're turning down some mighty good pussy here young fellow," came Doris's voice from the back seat. Your buddies have it all wet and loose for you. It's all warmed up and I'm just going good."
"Thanks anyway," said Travis as he turned his back on the scene and began walking back toward town.
Anyone for seconds?" she asked and the remaining four immediately lined up for another round.
For the next week or so, Travis was known as "Wimp" or "Chicken" in whispered conversations around the school but as it turned out, he was the lucky one as the other four all came down with a bad case of the clapp and had to make daily trips to the school nurse for shots.
Travis graduated from Wadsworth Academy with honors and returned to San Francisco to attend Golden Gate College, an exclusive private college where his grandfather, T. Thornton Taylor, Sr., was the head regent. It was no wonder that his grandfather held such a powerful position with the college. He had originally helped establish the college with a ten million dollar endowment and was a constant supporter with his checkbook. Not only did he provide a great amount of support to the college, but from his position as regent, he also kept a tight rein on how it was operated.
T. Thornton had always said that he was willing to spend whatever it took to ensure that there was at least one college in America which was free from the influences of those "Slopeheaded Eastern Liberal Communist Assholes" and taught nothing but the good old American Capitalism and free enterprise.
Travis received his degree in economics from Golden Gate, untainted by such liberal ideals as the "Ivory Tower" and "Kensian Theories" or the idea that the greater good produced by a nation should go to the greater number. Just like old time religion, it was old time economics which taught that those with the most ability or opportunity to make money should be the ones to have and control it and that taxes should be spent for nothing except defense of the nation.
Even though Travis had yet to reach his twenty-fifth birthday, he had never felt any need to dip his fingers into the trust fund which was well over twenty million by this time. He had his gold card with which he could buy anything from lunch at the Fairmont to a new Ferrari simply by signing his name. The bills were always paid by someone in the top-floor offices of the Taylor Building on Market Street. In fact, his greatest concern each day was what he could do to keep himself occupied, now that he no longer needed to study. Little did he realize that this was all going to change very shortly.
The secretary to T. Thornton Taylor Sr. knocked softly on the door, opened it and entered his office. "Mr. Albert Patton's secretary called to see if we could schedule a luncheon meeting between the two of you."
"Is that Admiral Patton, the shipbuilder?" asked T. Thornton.
"Yes, that is who it is," she replied. "She suggested this Friday at the San Francisco Club. You have that date open, shall I set it up?"
"If it concerns business, I'd rather meet here in my office where I have the advantage," he replied.
"She said that it concerned a personal matter and that is why a luncheon meeting was suggested."
"OK. Go ahead and set it up. But, in the meantime, have our research department do a full financial and background research on Patton, his family and his business so I'll know exactly where I stand. I never like to walk into any situation without knowing who my opponent is and all his weaknesses. Tell them to have it on my desk tomorrow morning."
The following morning, a red folder, the color which T. Thornton always used for personal files, lay on his desk. It was fully an inch think and weighed over two pounds. Mostly double space typed pages but some XEROX copies and photos.
With a practiced legal eye, he read the cover report, then began to thumb through the file, making notes on a small pad as he went. The report began with Patton's wartime record. He served in the Navy during Korea, enlisting as a Seaman and coming out as a Junior Petty Officer. The Rank of Admiral was an honorary one bestowed on him by the Coast Guard in recognition of his years of doing business with them. Net worth at time of entry into the Navy, less than one month's pay. Net worth at the end of his enlistment, slightly over two million dollars. No mention of how he managed that. T. Thornton scribbled a note to the research department to find out how he came by all that money in such a short time.
Business: Patton Shipyards, Inc. Family owned, no debts or stockholders. Builds some small ships, but is mostly involved in repair and overhaul contract work for the Navy and Coast Guard. Government contracts run in excess of twenty million per year. Hires good people and pays them well. No union problems. Average profit on investment after taxes, 20%. He is certainly not in financial difficulty. Net worth of Patton Shipyards, $50 million. Personal worth in the form of home, cars, insurance policies, bank accounts; another two million.
Personal: 56 Years old, good health. Married 36 years. Wife Geraldine, 61 years old, daughter of the late Senator and Mrs. Robert Fitzgerald of Brockton, Mass. No mistress, but from the looks of the photo of Geraldine, he ought to have one. What a horse face on that woman, she looked more like she should be eating hay and pulling a plow.
One daughter, Daphnie, age 26, single. No wonder she is still single, looks just like her mother, possibly even worse. Graduated from Brown, likes skiing, swimming and tennis. Tried out for the Olympic Swimming Team but failed to make it. Seldom ever seen with a man, but almost always with her swimming instructor, Judy Clark. Drives a Porsche, California ego tag, DEE DEE.
He was still reading the file on Admiral Patton, trying to find a clue as why this man would want to see him on a personal matter, when his secretary buzzed him, "Research reports that Mrs. Patton had a trust fund worth several million at the time that they married." Perhaps it was his training as a lawyer, or possibly pure chance, but it jumped right off the page at him and he drew a red circle around Daphnie's name.
He picked up the phone and dialed the number of his chief accountant, "Howe, this is Thornton. Run a computer printout on the present worth of Travis T's trust fund as well as all other assets that he might have, and bring it to me immediately."
Ten minutes later, his secretary buzzed, "Mr. Howe is here, Sir."
"Good, send him right in," he replied.
Edward Howe was the typical corporate bean counter. He stood barely five feet tall, had almost no hair and wore a pair of round, pinch glasses perched on his nose. He handed a computer run to Thornton, saying, "Here is everything, Sir. I hope that is what you wanted."
"Have a seat, Howe. I'm sure that I will have something else for you to do," said Thornton as he opened the folds of computer paper and scanned the figures. "I see that Travis T's personal worth is slightly over twenty million. Does that including everything?"
"Yes, Sir. Even his Ferrari, guns, cameras, stereo and the condo that you gave him to live in while he went to college," replied Howe.
"Transfer thirty-two million dollars worth of those junk bonds that I bought for three cents on the dollar to use as leverage when I took over that last airline. Put them into Travis T's name at face value. Make the transfer today, but back-date it a couple years in our computer. As soon as that has been posted, run a new financial statement for him and bring it to me. I'll need it before noon."
T. Thornton had a fat envelope nestled in the inside pocket of his coat when he walked into the plush San Francisco Club. "I'm meeting Admiral Patton," he told the host.
"Yes Sir. He is expecting you. This way please."
T. Thornton had met the Admiral a time or two before on a social basis but they could hardly be called close acquaintances. However, he had seen his wife, Geraldine, several times before. She always seemed to be in the middle of every social event, fund raising function or Republican political gathering that happened around San Francisco. She was the typical social butterfly, flitting from one function to another. They shook hands and he sat down.
"Black Label Scotch, neat," he told the waiter.
They ordered their food and made small talk while waiting for it to arrive. T. Thornton watched the Admiral in the same manner that he would watch a hostile witness. He really enjoyed toying with people's minds when he knew they were trying to formulate just the right way of saying something.
"Mr. Taylor," began the Admiral. "I asked for this meeting in order to discuss a matter which I feel will be of great value to both of us."
T. Thornton didn't answer, knowing that one can win far more cases by allowing the opponent to keep talking and defeat himself, than he ever can by flamboyant oratory.
The Admiral continued, "You might say that I have a merger of sorts in mind. Between our two families, we represent a sizable amount of the total wealth in San Francisco and it would be foolish to allow any of it to be siphoned off by a unwise or foolish marriage by one of our heirs."
T. Thornton had always said that there came an instant during every trial when he knew without a doubt that he had won and absolutely no amount of twisting or thrashing about by the other party would make the slightest difference in the ultimate outcome. He knew that he had won this encounter without saying a single word.
He sat there and watched the Admiral squirm as he continued, "I have a lovely daughter who will inherit my wealth when I die and you have a grandson who will come by yours some day. What I propose is a merger of sorts in which we will ensure the continued solidity of our accumulated wealth. What I have in mind is that we arrange a marriage between our two basic heirs and in that way, we will keep our fortunes within the family, so to speak."
"My grandson is fairly well off right now, Admiral," said T. Thornton. If we are able to effect this merger, as you choose call it, what will your daughter bring into the partnership initially?"
"Well, I hadn't given too much consideration to that part of the arrangement, but I can assure you that she will be able to bring her fair share to the union," replied the Admiral.
"I hoped that would be the way you'd feel about it, because I feel that any marriage should start off on an equal footing," said Thornton, "Each party bringing equal amounts to it."
"That's certainly true," agreed the Admiral. "Do you have any particular figure in mind to start the young couple off with? Perhaps half a million each or so, something like that."
"I'm glad that you asked that, because I was going over Travis T's current financial statement and just happen to have it right here in my pocket." He pulled the envelope from inside his coat and passed it to the Admiral, saying, "Naturally, the figures on this statement are to be held in the strictest confidence and I assure you that I will do the same with your daughter's financial statement when you have it delivered to me by messenger on Monday. I hate to eat and run, Admiral, but I do have an appointment in ten minutes."
T. Thornton glanced back at the table just before leaving the club to see the Admiral, his face ashen white, reading the totals on the last page of the printout. He thought to himself, "We'll see how badly he wants to marry off that ugly daughter of his."
One week later, there was a formal dinner being held at the T. Thornton's estate, situated high on a hill overlooking San Francisco. Seated around the long table were T. Thornton and his wife; T. T. Taylor, Jr. and his wife; the Admiral and Geraldine and sitting next to each other were Travis T. and Daphnie.
The stated purpose of the party was to celebrate Daphnie being named President and Chairman of the Board of Patton Shipyards, Inc. However, with the exception of Daphnie and Travis T, everyone at the table knew the real reason for the dinner. At that point, Daphnie and Travis T. thought that it was simply a way that their parents had for making them uncomfortable for the evening.
After the dinner guests had gone, T. Thornton put his arm around his grandson's shoulders and said, "What do you think of Daphnie?"
"God, grandfather, she's a moose!"
"Yeah, but she's a very rich moose. Laying on top of enough money, most any woman looks good."