I was an indulged child. Spoilt rotten you might say.
When I was four my parents won the lottery. From then on we had everything that opened and shut and more.
As the only child in my family I never wanted for anything. Clothes, toys whatever I asked for I got. Life for me came upon a lace-covered plate.
My best friend, Kenny, lived two doors down from me and was the second of four kids. His family struggled but were always a happy mob. He and I played together, me always the one with the newest toy, all his were hand me downs, rusty and dusty toys that had seen the hands of many kids over the years.
I had a pedal driven car given to me on my seventh birthday and it was the coolest green in colour. I drove it up and down my street, rejoicing in the covetous looks of all the neighbours.
Kenny had never seen a brand new toy like mine and stood there his eyes popping out in admiration at this new toy. When he had a go he was hesitant, said he was afraid he might not be able to make it go, that he might scratch it. I laughed at his efforts and after a while drove off leaving him behind.
When school finished and I was to choose a career path my parents pushed me into business. They said that was the way of the future. Big money could be made in business, the right people could become your friends, socially you’d be someone.
So went to Business College, bought expensive suits, I had a car by then, a blue Fiat that was small and sporty and I knew I looked someone in it.
Kenny and I had finished school together and had often talked about our futures. I had made my future path clear to him but he was not that way inclined.
Kenny went to teachers college. In my family it was a joke that teachers were people who had tried other occupations and teaching was all that was left. I tried to convince him teaching was a dead end job teaching meaningless content to disinterested children but Kenny was determined to go down that path and he did.
Over the years we grew apart. We still saw each other in the street, him walking home from the train, me pulling up in my driveway. Over the years our greetings went from a cheery hello to a polite nod from me as I advanced up the corporate scale.
My parents had died after a few years in a nursing home and left me the house. I had secured a job in a vibrant company with a million dollar annual turnover. My future looked bright, there was a lot of money to be made, the climb up the corporate ladder looked easy and just a matter of time.
In the meantime Kenny had finished Teacher training and was sent to Dungara, a small country town in the middle of somewhere and miles from anywhere. He came home most weekends to look in on his parents who were aging.
One day I found him home when I thought he should have been at school. He had taken leave to care for his dad, as his mum had died the summer before. I suggested a nursing home as that had solved my aging parental problem. He said he wanted to care for his dad and would do so.
Kenny was always interested in things I did. He had this childlike fascination in my success. He always wished me well. I used to laugh with my friends about this neighbour I had with little to no ambition who now cared for his dad and lived off a small carers pension.
I saw little of him, deliberately I must say, as I pursued my career. By thirty I was a State Manager, had friends in high places, I was influential and sought after for advice. I was top of my game.
When the financial crash came I didn’t see it coming. In reality I ignored the warnings I was given, believing it would not happen and if it did I would be ok. Overnight I went from riches to rags. The crash took everything from me.
I remember waking one night thinking I may lose the house, my friends had gone the same way or had seen me as the cause of the crash. For the first time in my life I was alone, a no body.
I was afraid. There was nowhere to turn. I had received emails from those above me telling me of the crisis and that I was no longer employed by them and that my reckless financial behaviour had led to the loss of millions by our clients.
I withdrew and became a recluse, I was fearful for my safety; anyone in the street could attack me if they knew it was me who has caused their loss of income and savings.
One night a knock on my door awoke me from my constant misery. Kenny was there, cheerful as ever, wanting to know if I was all right.
Kenny was the first person to ever ask after me. He sat with me that night and listened as I blurted out my tale of woe. He passed me a tissue as I cried. He comforted me as none had done before.
He told me he had invested his superannuation in my company, his life savings were gone along with everyone else’s. This news shocked me even more and I suddenly felt very vulnerable in his presence.
‘Shit happens.’ He said. ‘It was always a risk, but I thought a safe one. But you know money is made round to go round.’
Kenny had always had a quaint way of explaining things. He explained to me that money had never really interested him in the way it did me. He had marvelled at all my toys and stuff from when we were kids but he never felt jealous or anything because he knew his parents were never going to have the money mine did. He said what they gave him was as precious as any new shiny toy I had received.
That night I saw a side of Kenny I’d not noticed before because I was so wrapped up in my own life and ambitions.
Kenny was actually a friend. Pure and simple. That’s all he wanted. It didn’t matter how rich or poor I was, our friendship matter above all that.
Reaching down beside him he pulled a bottle out of a bag he had brought with him.
‘Got an opener?’