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The Rational Man 

by Martin Green

     My older brother Jonas prides himself on being a rational man.  I suppose that’s why he’s been so successful. On the other hand, I tend to act on impulse, which is probably why I’m, if not a complete failure, certainly not a success.

     Jonas and I both had artistic inclinations, from our mother, I’d say. But he knew that only a handful of artists and writers ever earned a good living so at an early age he immersed himself in the then new field of computers. Upon graduating with the highest marks in computer science he went to work for Microsoft at a very good salary. I decided to become a painter and went to Paris to study.

     In a few years, Jonas, after carefully weighing all the pros and cons, left Microsoft, taking his stock options, and started his own company. With his careful planning, the company steadily grew. Earlier, Jonas had almost become engaged to a fellow worker at his original employer. She was smart and attractive. She loved Jonas and I’m sure he loved her. But she was from a working-class family with a slatternly mother and an alcoholic father. Jonas weighed the possible outcome of a marriage to her and in the end broke off their relationship.

      When he became president of his own company, Jonas married the daughter of a wealthy family. Emily was the perfect company president’s wife, arranging parties and dinners for influential people. She was also a dull woman and I’m sure Jonas was bored with her. They had no children, then Emily did the one unconventional thing in her life, she died in an automobile accident.

     What about myself? I failed as a painter,  pent a number of dissolute years drifting around Europe and then, what else, took, or was given, a job with Jonas’s company. It was in the personnel department, mostly paperwork, so I couldn’t do too much harm. I suppose Jonas thought it was the rational thing to “save” his younger brother before I brought scandal upon the family name.  

     Jonas met Sharon as a result of another auto accident, or near-accident. He was in the back seat studying company reports when he heard a thump at the front of his Mercedes-Benz. The chauffeur, driving in a heavy rain, had hit a woman who’d suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Fortunately, the woman wasn’t badly hurt, only shaken up. She was also extraordinarily attractive, young, no more than 25, blonde, with an oval face, blue eyes like gems and, as was revealed after Jonas had taken her back to his mansion and she’d taken off her coat, a truly lush figure. 

     Jonas may have been a rational man, but he was still a man and after this he started taking Sharon to the dinners, fund-raisers and charity balls that, as a rich and influential company president, he was compelled to attend. When I asked him about this he told me not to worry, having a beautiful young woman on his arm only added to his prestige. And Sharon, he added, was not a bimbo; she was an art dealer, quite knowledgeable in the field. Quite a coincidence, I thought, as Jonas had become an avid collector of modern paintings.  

     I had my suspicions of  Sharon but knew that nothing I could say would sway Jonas. It was as if, after being the rational man all of his life, his emotions had taken over. Keeping my own counsel,  I hired a top-flight private investigator I’d come across in my personnel department work. He had no difficulty gaining access to the luxurious apartment in which Jonas had installed Sharon and planting “bugs.”  

     It was almost too easy. Sharon had no suspicion that her phone was being tapped and talked indiscreetly to more than one of her friends. In one conversation, she said:  “Yes, I’ve got him wrapped around my little finger … No, he doesn’t have a clue I ran in front of his car …  Yes, I can get him to buy me anything I want … No, I don’t want to marry him. I like the way things are.”   All I had to do was let Jonas hear one of my tapes and Sharon would be out of his life. My inheritance, as his younger brother, would be secure.   made an appointment to see him in his office. He had no idea of what was coming.

                                                    *               *               *

     The marriage of Jonas to Sharon was the social event of the year. I don’t know how much money was spent on it. I was, somewhat to my surprise, the best man. At our meeting, as soon as I’d started hinting of Sharon’s real nature, an expression of incredible sadness came over Jonas’s face. I couldn’t go through with it. I told him that although I’d had my reservations I now thought she truly cared for him. The next day I had a little talk with Sharon and told her about the tapes. The announcement of the engagement came soon after.

     Well, as I’ve told you, I was never the rational man, that was Jonas. Sharon and Jonas now have two children and I’m the uncle invited over every now and then to partake in a family activity. But I have left my job and am back to painting again because, as I told Jonas, I secured a financial windfall. I still have those tapes.

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