In the thin early morning hours on the day that Dyke Debenham was born, the stars were not serene. Montgomery Debenham, Dyke’s father, tired of anticipating the impending birthing, chose to leave the waiting room, walk outside, and await in the patient’s patio behind the hospital. Lighting a cigarette from the tobacco that made the Debenham fortune, he gazed up at the stars twirling in their journeys. Every so many minutes a star, from the Pleides Meteor Shower, shot across the sky, dipping like a flat rock about to skim over a placid body of water. The night that Dyke was conceived an obscure pact was concluded, for though the Debenhams had a daughter, they did not have a son. Dyke entered this lonely world a few endless hours after with his dad in attendance in the fathers’ waiting room. Born weighing eight-and-a-half pounds, he was no less a handful growing up, the scion of the vast Debenham Empire.
Followed by two brothers, all three years apart, Dyke, well ahead of them in height and weight, did not spare them, bullying and browbeating them at every turn. Dave Debenham believed that this jocular play would only make them tougher, preparing them for the vicissitudes of life. Whether the Debenhams were in North Carolina, or their penthouse in New York City, Dyke was a handful, failing with D’s in his studies, bloodying others’ noses, or dabbling in a variety of illicit substances. Making a generous contribution, Montgomery Debenham managed to slip his son past the selection committee of National Cathedral Academy. For even more considerable benefactions, Mr. Debenham kept his son from being expelled for knocking out the front teeth of a councilman’s son; cold-cocking the progeny of a millionaire oilman who belonged to the Petroleum Club; for being busted for buying marijuana from a narc; and snorting cocaine in a toilet stall that he believed locked. Barely graduating, he was now a spare young man, well over six feet, with lanky red hair, a forelock drooping past his eyelids, who never apologized and never backed down, often ending a frontier of words with the epithet, “Go fuck yourself.” None of the boy’s infractions or abusiveness were conveyed in his personal school files or police records by the sheer canniness of his father’s attorneys.
The next stop for Dyke was Dartmouth, where Montgomery garnered his admission by creating an endowment for the school. There, Dyke made some effort, enrolling himself in the economics classes he knew he would someday need in managing the family’s fortune. While attending the Ivy League School, he lived off-campus, by himself, seldom going to classes so he could party with friends or deflowering some maiden. Graduating in the lower third of his class, Dyke, driving his vintage Porsche Targa, made the exodus to New York City.
After moving into a deluxe apartment on the Upper East Side, Dyke spent the next several months in dissipation. Finally, when his father began to fester at his son’s languid demeanor, he arranged to install him in his seat on the New York Stock Exchange. No longer would Dyke learn economics in an academic setting; he would learn it in the real world. To the old man’s surprise, Dyke showed genuine business acumen at the post. And there he remained, holding the seat, becoming shrewder the longer he was schooled in mergers and acquisitions, bond and investment banking, as well as other aspects of high finance. During this period, he learned to speak like a gentleman, though often breaking down to obscenities when arguing or irritable. He also learned to curb his depraved habits with illicit substances or his philandering ways, but only by degree. Not infrequently, he showed up at the Stock Exchange hung over, after only three or four hours of sleep. Seeing his seat as an instrument not only to build his family’s money, but to create his own riches, he pursued shrewd buying and selling of stocks on the exchange, which slowly added to the family’s banking accounts.
Going on four years as a member of the Stock Exchange, he was in quick succession, arrested for a DUI in some exclusive suburb on Long Island, and apprehended for snorting coke in the men’s room of Studio 54 by a narc. For these offenses, Dyke was only given the most superficial disciplinary chastening. Only a few months later, however, he was entrapped on some insider trading. The moneyed patriarchs of the Stock Exchange Board could no longer turn their heads given such dealings. Not even his father, nor his father’s largesse could keep Dyke from being banished from the august halls of the Exchange.
The Debenhams consulted counsel. Their attorneys in turn consulted their legal codes, the formation of the stars, the smoldering of ashes. After prolonged disputations their consensus: banish Dyke. Exile him far-far away, they told him, far, far away, where he could no longer wound the sacred world of the family with its solid pedigree. The Debenhams held vast properties across the States; perhaps Dyke could run one of them? Henry Crowe, the chief counsel to Montgomery and also his best friend, swayed him from such thoughts: “Dyke’s been a liability to you since the day he was born. He’s lucky someone hasn’t shot him. I tell you, put him somewhere he can’t hurt anything. What about the ranch you have in Wyoming?”
“The Blue Moon?” replied Montgomery, nonplussed by the suggestion.
“Yes, I mean the Blue Moon. It’s miles from the nearest town, isn’t it? What can he possibly damage if you let him help out in the management of the spread?”
Montgomery walked over to the window of the thirty-third floor office of Henry Crowe of Meyers, Crowe and Stone, LLC. “Hank,” he said smiling. “I think you’re right. I think you may just be right.” They shook hands, and then Crowe pressed a cigar into his friend’s hand, took one for himself, and lit them both.
To say that Dyke did not take the news well would be to gild the history of Custer’s Last Stand to his commanding officer. Pouting, at times raising his voice to his father, he told him, “No way am I going to move out to that two-horse honky-tonk of a town.”
“Dyke, let me make this clear. If you don’t move out there within a month, I’m cutting you out of the family will. You’ve disappointed me time and again by your juvenile fixations. You are no longer going to be an embarrassment to the Debenham family. If and when you go out there, you can learn about cattle raising as a manager of the ranch. Or you can leave it all to Tuffy Steiner, the manager out there now. While you remain at the Blue Moon, I will send you a handsome stipend – a stipend no doubt you’ll blow, but an allowance none the less. You have no room to argue or bargain with me. I’ve never understood just how you’ve conducted yourself so poorly. My God, you come from people.”
Within two weeks, he managed to have movers pack and ship his personal items to the wilds of Wyoming. The night before he was to leave, he went to Studio 54 again, a bar that his probation officer in his cocaine case had deemed off limits. That evening he again indulged in the evil powders in the manager’s office, as he put away a half a bottle of single malt scotch. In anticipation of his exodus out west, he had bought an expensive buckskin jacket, fringed with white and blue beadwork. Upstairs in the office, sharing the manager’s cocaine, was a winsome lass with golden locks, her hair hanging down almost to her ass, wearing a low-cut red silk dress, the neckline plunging, capturing the beauty of her pert, young breasts. He began doing lines of coke with the girl, who appeared to be in her early twenties. He shared his whisky with her as well. Then taking her to his place, he invited her along after he had his way with her. Back at her apartment, she packed her suitcase with thick winter clothes to wear in the cold season that awaited them in Wyoming. The drove west on I-90, but he soon tired of her, leaving her in the eastern Wyoming town of Moorcroft, with a two one-hundred dollar bills and her two suitcases.
He was but an hour out of Bridger, another hour away from the ranch, when a state patrolman pulled him over. After asking him for his driver’s license, “So you’re Dyke Debenham?” He nodded. “Did you know there was a warrant out for your arrest?”
“For me? What for?”
“Statutory rape. That girl you dropped off at Moorcroft is only fifteen years of age.
“Furthermore, you transported her across state lines.”
By Joseph Dylan
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