Parental Deception; chapter twelve, part two

Rembrandt and I do the dishes before going into the living room. We sink down on the couch and snuggle with our three cats strategically placed on top of us. Ginger is on Rembrandt’s lap as usual, and Onyx is on my chest. Jet has his paws and head on my thigh, but the rest of his body is on the couch. I have my head on Rembrandt’s chest, and he has his arm around my shoulders. I periodically check my phone to see if Yuri has responded, and after an hour, he does.

“It took some doing, and I can’t tell you how I did it, but I found out about Linda Yu and George Tsai. Warning, it’s not a pretty picture. As for the investor reimbursement, Mr. Liang was telling you the truth. He and Mr. Huang repaid the investors up to ninety percent of their investment. Between seventy-five and ninety percent each, with the top-tier investors receiving less, and the lower-tier ones receiving more. They weren’t obligated to do it, but they did it, anyway. I’ve included all the sums. Hope this helps.” I download the attachment and skim the numbers. It’s as Yuri reported—Mr. Liang and Mr. Huang returned most of the money to their investors, and it was pro-rated in a backwards way. The more an investor gave, the less they got back. Those who gave $100,000 to $500,000 received 90% of their investment back. The $500,000 to $1 million tier got back 83%, whereas the $1 million to $10 million crowd ‘only’ recouped 75% of their investment. I’d like to think Mr. Liang and Mr. Huang gave the small investors more money because they realized that people with less money need it more, but the cynical side of me notes that this rating system means more money for Mr. Liang and Mr. Huang. Hey, just because I like Mr. Liang, it doesn’t mean I think he’s a saint. He wouldn’t have been able to accrue the fortune he has if he weren’t a ruthless businessman.

“Look at this.” I point at the numbers to Rembrandt.

“That was really decent of them,” Rembrandt says, surprise in his voice. “It seems to rule out the money motive, doesn’t it?”

“I would say yes, except, you know how funny people are about money. Even if they got back most of it, it’s not all.”

“True,” Rembrandt says, nodding his head in agreement. “Pride is a big factor, too. People do not like being conned. At all.”

“Plus, Mr. Tsai isn’t the one who returned the money, so they may still hold a grudge against him,” I say, pursing my lips as I think it over. “In fact, given what I know about him, I can see him trying to defend himself with a disgruntled investor, and the investor seeing red.”

“Yes, but that still doesn’t fit in with him being run over. If that were the case, then I’d expect Mr. Tsai to be found all beaten and bruised.” Rembrandt fiddles with his eye patch before dropping his hand. I sigh, but he’s right. I turn to the pages about Linda Yu and Mr. Tsai, and as Yuri warned me, it’s a very ugly story. Linda Yu was twenty when she met Mr. Tsai. Her parents had died in a plane crash six months earlier, leaving her a sizeable estate worth a million dollars. They met at a Taiwanese New Year’s party, which Ms. Yu was dragged to by well-meaning friends. She was a tiny slip of a girl—barely five feet tall with a glossy black mane that fell to her waist and luminous brown eyes. She’s the type of woman who brought out the protector in men, and Mr. Tsai was no exception. The moment he saw Ms. Yu, he wouldn’t leave her side. He was roughly forty years her senior, but he was still handsome man. She was a young woman who had recently lost her father, and she found him comforting to talk to. During that night, he found out about her inheritance, and he convinced her to invest $500,000 into TAP. Not only that, he talked his way into her bed. This went for on for months before Ms. Yu started asking about her investment. What Mr. Tsai didn’t know was that she might have been young, but she was the daughter of two economic professors, so she knew a thing or two about investments and refused to be put off with vague promises. Mr. Tsai severely underestimated her, and he knew he couldn’t stall her forever. Roughly around the same time, Ms. Yu found out that she was pregnant with Mr. Tsai’s child. She didn’t want children, but she was a Christian who was against abortion. When she told Mr. Tsai, he went into a rage and demanded she have an abortion. She resisted, but he wore her down.

“That asshole!” I exclaim, causing Rembrandt to open his eye. I show him what I’ve read so far, and he sits up straight in his seat.

“Wait a minute. Wasn’t the one regret of his life was that he didn’t have kids?”

“Yes,” I hiss, my eyes narrowed in slits. “What a fucking asshole.” I put my indignation aside with difficulty so I can finish the dossier.

Ms. Yu had complications from the abortion and almost died. Then, she went into a serious depression during which she never left her house. She didn’t eat or sleep or shower, and after two weeks of this, her friends staged an intervention. They contacted Mr. Tsai, but he refused to have anything to do with the intervention. In fact, he refused to have anything to do with Ms. Yu at all. He wouldn’t take her calls or the calls of any her friends. This caused Ms. Yu to spiral deeper into the abyss until one fateful night, she swallowed a whole bottle of Paxil. Fortunately, one of her friends stopped by to check in on her, found her unconscious on the floor, and rushed her to the hospital. She had her stomach pumped, and she survived—barely. She was placed in a mental hospital after that for six months before finally being released. By that time, Mr. Tsai had absconded with the TAP money and ran back to his wife in San Francisco, his tail tucked between his legs.

Yuri discovered that Mr. Tsai emailed Ms. Yu soon after he arrived in Minnesota this time. He said he thought about her often and wanted to see her while he was in Minnesota. She didn’t respond to the first seven emails, all sent in two days, but she broke after the eighth. She said she’d meet him, but it had to be in public, and it would only be for an hour. My heart aches for her because it’s clear by the email Yuri included from her to him that she wasn’t over him. I want to tell her to run like hell from him, but it’s not my place, and it’s too late, anyway. Once again, I marvel at how that man used his charm for evil, and I wished I’d known all this before he died. I would have read him the riot act. I think about how many people he’s hurt—and that’s only the ones I know of. When I die, I don’t want my legacy to be that I left a shipwreck in my stead, but Mr. Tsai didn’t seem to give a damn about that. It’s hard because he’s not an evil man per se, but an intensely selfish and thoughtless one.

“Read this.” I tilt my laptop so Rembrandt can see it. He’s dozing again, so I dig my elbow in his ribs. He opens his eye and looks momentarily confused. Ginger grumbles at being shifted in her sleep, but settles down again once she realizes everything’s OK. Rembrandt scans the screen, his countenance darkening every second.

“What a piece of shit,” Rembrandt says, the disgust evident in his voice. “I’m not sorry he’s dead.” He pauses and adds, “I know that sounds awful, but I can’t help it.”

“I feel the same,” I admit. I pull the laptop back towards me and read the rest of the dossier. Ms. Yu remarried a year-and-a-half ago to a seventy-year-old American man named Theodore Milton. He died three months ago, and it wasn’t unexpected. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer two years ago. My eyebrows lift at the chronological order of events. Ms. Yu and Mr.—oh, fuck it. I’m calling them by their first names in my head. Linda and Theodore met at an immigration benefit three years ago. This was before Theodore’s diagnosis, but his health was already failing. Linda started visiting Theodore several times a week, bringing him food and cleaning his house. His first—and only up until that point wife—died a year prior to his meeting Linda. They were married for forty-five years, and she took care of the house while he did his hedge funding business. Once she died, he let the house go to seed, so Linda did a thorough cleaning the first time she went over.

After several months of this arrangement, Theodore proposed to Linda, and she accepted. They were married the next day at City Hall with only a friend each as witnesses. Yuri noted that it seemed to be more of a business arrangement than a love marriage, but they seemed to be genuinely fond of each other. Linda took care of Theodore as his health failed, and she made sure each of his three children were kept updated as to how he was doing. None of them lived in Minnesota, so they relied on her to let them know when it was time to fly in. Yuri has included the details of the will. Theodore was worth nearly a billion dollars, and I let out a low whistle at the amount. He came from money, and he made a shit-ton during his lifetime. He was a canny investor as well, pulling out of everything before the bubble burst back in the late 2000s. I wonder if he had insider trading information, but Yuri hasn’t included anything to intimate he had. Maybe Theodore was just that astute of a businessman, but I have my doubts. His will had a few twists and turns, but stripping away all the fancy language, and he basically divided his estate in four. Each of his children received one-fourth of his estate as did his widow.

“Holy shit!” I exclaim, startling Rembrandt awake again. “Linda Yu inherited $250 million dollars from her late husband!”

“What? Who? Huh?” Rembrandt isn’t at his most elegant upon waking, but who is?

“Linda Yu. The woman George Tsai fucked and fucked over. She married an older, terminally-ill man, and he gave her a quarter of his fortune. $250 million!” I push Rembrandt’s shoulder to emphasize my point.

“Are you kidding me?” Rembrandt says, his eye round. “I’m in the wrong profession!” He pauses and adds, “What does it have to do with Mr. Tsai, though?”

“I don’t know,” I say, suddenly deflated. “If she killed Mr. Tsai, it wasn’t for the money. But, there’s a reason there’s that trope about a woman scorn. A pissed-off woman is not someone to be taken lightly.”

“Don’t I know it,” Rembrandt says fervently. “I learned a long time ago that when your woman is angry, the best thing to do is shut your mouth and ride it out.” I want to call him sexist, but he’s not wrong. I think it’s because women are relentlessly told to be nice and not ruffle any feathers. Everyone has a limit, though, and if you’re pushed to it constantly and keep pulling it back, you’re eventually going to go over the edge. It’s my theory that the reason Minnesotans are such shitty drivers is because we have this Minnesota Nice reputation that we’re driven to protect. It’s the same thing, and you simply cannot control your anger all the time. It’s better to let off steam at regular intervals, but it’s hard for many of us to do that, especially women.

In addition, dudes have to take some responsibility as they have tunnel hearing, blocking out anything they don’t consider important. I remember an ex-boyfriend who never remembered that one of my pet peeves was leaving cartons of juice or milk with only one or two sips left in them in the fridge. I told him a dozen times within the first month we were living together, and he would always nod and say he wouldn’t do it any longer. Needless to say, he kept doing it until one day, I had a shit day at work, and was really looking forward to a plate of chocolate chip cookies and a big mug of low-fat milk. I opened the milk carton and tipped it to pour it, and two drops dribbled out. My ex was in his home office with the door closed, and, normally, I would have knocked before I went in. That day, though, I was furious, and I just barged in. I screamed at him for ten minutes for putting an almost-empty milk carton back in the fridge, and he just sat there with a stunned look on his face. Halfway through my rant, I started to feel silly because I knew I was overreacting, but I couldn’t stop myself. That damn carton of milk came to represent all the resentment I’d been bottling up inside over how I felt my ex ignored what was important to me. He apologized and promised not to do it again, but that was the beginning of the end. We broke up two months later.

“I want to talk to Linda,” I say to Rembrandt.

“I think that’s a good idea,” he replies. I notice that he doesn’t protest as he did with Mr. Liang even though Linda Yu is just as likely to have killed Mr. Tsai, if not more likely. I wonder if it’s because Linda is a woman or if it’s because she’s so tiny. He also doesn’t suggest going with me, though I wouldn’t be against it. I’m not taking her lightly. I know better than anyone that women can be just as deadly as men. I send her an email asking if we can meet. I explain it’s about George Tsai, and I offer my condolences about her husband. Not five minutes later, she responds in the affirmative. She asks if we can meet at her house tomorrow night at eight, and I agree. Wait a minute. Is tomorrow Saturday night? I think it is. If so, then it’s date night with Rembrandt. I ask him if we can postpone it to Sunday night, and he’s amenable to the suggestion. Because he’s a decent man, he doesn’t point out that I was the one who had made a big deal about going on a date, and now, I’m pushing it back a day. He really is a prince among men.

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