The Loss: A Brittle Sea Extract

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image Matthew Turner III

Matthew G. Turner III was not a man to show any emotions, except for one, anger. And when a man as powerful as he gets angry, people had better get out of his way. At least, that’s the way Turner saw himself. It was petulance alternating between anger that was his emotional forte. Turner was a driven man and the engine that drove him was a childish and petulant anger when things didn’t go his way. His anger was at his perceived failure in the eyes of his family for always being third-rate… “Third in name, third in business,” they would say, behind his back.  Unlike the dynastic builders of his immediate forefathers, this Turner had a chip on his shoulder and an obvious inability to be a captain of industry.

His paternal grandfather and his father had both excelled in business. The fruits of their labours was the GT&ST railway. Even the name of the business, General Turner & Senator Turner, told a story. Matthew’s granddaddy had been a General in Sam Houston’s army during the Texas Revolution. He made a name for himself in his 80th year by founding the GT&HG railway between Texas and California. Nobody in Turner’s dynasty could remember who HG was, though there was rumour of underhand dealings. Henry Turner was a wily old Scotsman who always seemed to get his own way.

His son, the said Senator Turner, was no less wily. Alexander Turner managed to win a seat in the US Senate, albeit for a brief period. It was oft said that Turner was happiest when in the company of very young women, which set tongues wagging and dark rumours flourished. Only months after gaining his seat, a Washington newspaper wrote that ‘Senator Turner made a speedy exit from the Senate, chased by Senator McLawrie.’ It was not reported that McLawrie had a seventeen-year-old daughter and that Alexander Turner’s exit was made all the speedier by McLawrie blasting away at Turner with a scattergun.

While all this had taken place Turner I and II had still managed to build an empire. Turner III had achieved exactly the opposite and managed to fritter away a fortune. Yet he still lived as a man of means, which meant the debts were mounting up. But he was a Turner, and as such he was wily. With a business plan that had one simple rule, rob Peter to pay Paul, Turner took up acquiring small businesses and stripping their assets to turn a quick profit. Acquiring is a somewhat loose term and many a poor businessman reported to the authorities that they had been swindled. Evidence had never been forthcoming in any of the complaints filed, mainly due to threats against life, limb, and family. Turner ruined many of the finest names in Texas, by fair means or foul, simply to get his hands on the assets to turn a quick buck.

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Copyright © Tom Kane 2020

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