For decades, The Floods have experienced untold happiness and prosperity. Flood Industries has become the largest privately owned conglomerate in the world. Three generations later, the entire family has come home to the farm to celebrate Scooter and Frankie’s fiftieth wedding anniversary. But when the storms and tragedies of life come their way, will Scooter be able to hold the family together and keep moving them forward while ceding leadership to his beloved granddaughter and successor Celeste?
The Storm Is Passing Over reminds us that while no one immune to the storms that are sure to come to their lives, they eventually pass and leave us better and stronger for having endured them.
Chapter 3: The Storm Is Passing Over by Charles R. Butts Jr.
“Oh my God, Gramps! I can’t believe what just happened. Meeting our ancestors was amazing! When my time comes, I promise to always do my very best,” CiCi said.
“We know you will, Baby Girl. There’s no one on this side of the sun more qualified than you. Always stay connected and reach out to them from time to time, they’re always eager to assist us. You’ll never have to worry about going it alone, I never did, nor did any of our predecessors.”
“I promise I will Gramps! I trust my heart, and all of you as well.”
“That’s great to hear because neither will ever deceive you.”
The band’s music grew louder as we approached the tent. Inside, Reese and Greta had finally arrived, along with his in-laws Heinrich and Ingrid Klaus.
Once inside, Reese made a beeline towards me. “Hey, Pop! Happy fiftieth anniversary to you and Mom!”
“Thank you, son. What took you so long to get here? You promised you’d be here yesterday at the latest. I chose Phillip to stand with me in your stead.”
“I know, and I’m so very sorry for that. But I have some very exciting news that will more than make up for it.”
“If your news has anything to do with business, it’ll have to keep until me and your mother return from our trip.” I should have known he’d show up pitching something that I’d surely oppose. Besides, there’s something not right about Heinrich. I’ve always had a strange feeling about him, but I can’t seem to put my finger on what it is. He just doesn’t appear genuine to me, at least not yet anyway.
“It can’t wait that long, Pop, please just give me fifteen minutes of your time to make my presentation. That’s all I ask.”
“Sorry, son, down here, family takes precedence over everything. In case you’d forgotten, this is a celebration for your mother and I renewing our vows. Our fiftieth anniversary is far more important than any perspective deal you’ve brought here to us. Now, where’s your Mother, brothers, and sisters?”
“They’ve gone to the house and are waiting for us. We just need to meet long enough to vote, and I’ll get out of you and Mom’s way.”
Frankie, and the kids were all in the conference room waiting. The solemn looks on their faces all but confirmed my suspicions.
Reese began: “Ok, since everyone’s here, let’s begin. Pop, an opportunity to acquire controlling interest in AQR is now available, but since we only have a short window to make the deal, let me lay out the plan. I’ve petitioned the SEC to make Flood Industries a publicly traded company. The billions we stand to earn from the IPO will be more than enough to purchase the remaining blocks of stock to acquire AQR and bring it under the Flood umbrella. Heinrich is already on board with this plan, and all I need is a majority approval to move forward on this. Let’s take a vote, shall we?”
When everyone’s eyes trained on me, I said, “I don’t think we need to vote, son, because your mother and I are voting no. It’s too risky, and it’s not what we Floods are about. Heinrich, didn’t you lose control of your family’s company when you took it public? Didn’t your new board of directors vote to remove you as CEO?”
Looking stunned, Heinrich dropped his head and said, “Yes, it’s true, I was removed. I lost control of a company that my Great-grandfather started from nothing, for the lure of more money and power. I lost my heart, while lusting and chasing my ego’s desires. It’s something I’ll regret forever, and it’s unnecessary for all of you to take the same risk.”
“I appreciate you saying that, sir, but even if you hadn’t, my answer would still be no. Flood Industries is the result of generations of hard work and sacrifice. There will never be a chance of it being run by anyone other than a Flood. I swore an oath promising that it would never be. I’m sorry, son, but me and your mother vote no.”
The other children nodded, looked at their brother and voted nay. Incensed, Reese stood, slammed his fist on the table and screamed, “Don’t you people understand what we’re passing up! We can have it all!”
I stood up and calmly said, “We clearly understand son, but what saddens me is you seem to have forgotten that we will always remain a private, family owned and controlled entity. We already have it all. Balance sheets and profit margins don’t define or drive us. We’re stewards of a fortune the next fifty generations or so of Floods couldn’t even begin to spend. We also feel obligated for the continued happiness and continuity of all of our employees and everyone our foundation assists. Now calm down and let’s go out there and celebrate. Our guests have waited for us long enough.”
“I’m in no mood to celebrate, I’m going home, although I truly respect and admire the love you and Mom share. It’s true the risks are minimal, but I had all the bases covered.”
Frankie stood, walked over to him, hugged him and said, “Please stay a while, son, we haven’t seen you and Greta in so long, plus I know CiCi, Phillip, Porter and the baby would love to spend some time with you.”
“Sorry, Mom, I gotta get back to Atlanta. Got early morning meetings, plus the Governor’s ball is tomorrow evening.”
“Well, can you at least dance with your dear old Mom once.”
“Sure Mom, how can I ever refuse you anything.” Looking at me and his siblings, he said, “Someday, you guys will learn to trust me.”
Grabbing and shaking his hand, I said, “Son, we all trust and appreciate your hard work. But this is about keeping a promise to your Uncle Clem, as well as every Flood that has come before you. I hope you’ll understand that someday.”
“Let’s just agree to disagree, Pop.”
“Ok, son, but no hard feelings, right?”
When I tried to hug him, he pulled away and said, “Sorry, Pop, it’s going to take some time for me to digest this.”
Clement stepped toward Reese, shoved him and said, “Don’t you ever disrespect our father!”
David separated them and said, “We’re not doing this today, and especially not now. This is Mom and Pop’s moment. You owe both of them your respect and an apology.”
“I don’t apologize for anything I’ve said or done tonight. Mama, I am going to have to take a raincheck on that dance, I’m leaving.”
With tears streaming down Frankie’s face, she said, “Please don’t go Reese, please.” Trying to stand, she collapsed and fell to the floor. Lying unconscious and unresponsive, we all looked at each other and feared the worst.
( Continued… )
© 2018 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Charles R. Butts Jr. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author’s written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.
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About the Author Charles R. Butts Jr.
The Storm Is Passing Over continues the Flood family saga. It’s the third book written by Charles R. Butts Jr., a former soldier in the U.S. Army and a postal employee for over thirty-three years. When he’s not reading, writing or working out, Charles enjoys spending time with Shawanda, his wife of twenty-one years, and his children Amber and Trey. Influenced by Langston Hughes, Walter Mosley and James Baldwin, he hopes to entertain and provoke thought in the reader.
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