The Rise and Rise of Sanford Best
Accept from go that this is a lesson, that this man, this once and still figure in our land, strove, struck, and penetrated the lives of everyone within his reach. This brief chronicle explains not so much the motivations or the successes of Sanford Best, but—moreover—recollects the more colorful watermarks of his long and—strictly—American Boomer life.
Sanford Best was born and raised in Arkansas, the son of a judge and a high school principal. Schooled at Boston University, he was conferred with a degree in business and promptly returned to his home soil to put his elite undercurrents to work. Within ten years he became a senior executive with Dix Empire Chicken Processing, Inc., and married his high school love, Betsy.
Watermark One: At this point I should ask the reader to cue some appropriate music, perhaps an Aaron Copland overture, or something out of a Capra soundtrack. Good? Let’s proceed. Sanford, now twenty years along and just beyond forty years of age, had the vice presidency of Dix Empire Chicken in his sights. The only obstacle was a man named Carroll, who was an obstinate cofounder who had entrenched himself in the position ages before and had no mind or skill for venture interests or diversification. Carroll was as predictable as the farm and fish report on the morning radio, however, and Sanford spent the better part of a year studying the man’s routines and vices to the hilt. When a window of opportunity finally swelled open, Sanford capitalized on the arrangements of his design; at the semiannual park picnic Sanford invited Carroll out with him on the water. While alone in the boat Sanford explained to Carroll that he had spoken to the man’s wife and presented information to her regarding her husband’s prolific use of non-scrip painkillers and various contortions with prostitutes. The wife had agreed to bring a minister to their home that afternoon and, along with friends and colleagues, initiate an intervention in their living room. Carroll became so infuriated that he rose in the boat and withdrew a thirty-eight. The two shots he squeezed off whizzed through the air, but had yawed his foothold on the shell, sending him into the drink, triggering his heart condition. The colleagues at the picnic heard the shots and saw only the figure of Sanford on the boat. Later, once Carroll’s body was pulled from the water, and after a proper going over by the medical examiner, did the witnesses at the Dix Empire Chicken picnic understand that Carroll had no gunshot wounds, a failed pump, and burn marks on his trigger finger. Sanford merged into the VP slot thereafter, but remained steeped with anxiety and frustration that Carroll hadn’t managed to graze him with one of the bullets. The succession would have been far more seamless had he withstood a breathlessly earned scar after all of his provisions and preparations.
Watermark Two: Once Sanford drained Dix Empire Chicken of all of its essence, his imagination drew him westward. He and Betsy were both sixty now, and the two wrestled with various notions on how to expend the last dregs of their hormonal stores and vanity. The Bests unclaimed their empire and retired in the glamorous mountain hamlet of Santa Fe. The two founded a fine arts gallery on Canyon Road and threw soirees every Wednesday and Saturday evenings within their gallery’s confines and also at their new estate just a mile up the road. The insertion of millions, the estate, the statues, the oils, acrylics, lithos, the acquisitions from Pueblo Indian artists, from Spanish Colonial dedicatory masters, the bronzes from Russians, the French tapestries and neoimpressionist canvases, the postmodern lawn ornaments from every category—all adorned their new empire. They were the Arkansan Ferdinand and Isabella of New Spain, the mayordomos of Aspen South, the gilded, tuned, and barely restrained endless orgasm of enlightened affluence and nobility. Their nethers could never have tingled more fiercely or deservedly.
Watermark Three: Sanford took to board volunteerism and executive influence. From the museums to the department of culture his influence grew along with his windy and unflinchingly grand rhetoric. The man had soon embedded his influence within the circles of legislation and allocated himself within the goings on around the state capital. Mr. Best’s initial intentions were serene and benevolent; they involved educational endowments, public works projects in sculpture, dance, and events, and auctions to benefit all niches of vogue charity, with an endgame suitable for embossing his name in fixture mythology. But when he found he couldn’t cast his mighty Arkansas shadow of influence, when he first, then more regularly, found his wishes up against opposition, he, well, snapped. He became an insipid, jaded, bladed, beast of infliction. The calendar wouldn’t acquiesce quickly to his Kane desires. His delusion of legacy wouldn’t imprint quickly enough. He took to mailing the most vitriolic certified letters to city leaders and arts magnates across the county and throughout the northern state, claiming the entire land was imbued in molasses and incapable of embracing his magnanimity and philanthropy to his satisfaction. Sanford would see that they all rued the season, and that any obstructing leader would never find themselves at his gallery or in any bond with the cadre of artists therein. Mr. Best had ultimately and consummately bought his island of ideal refuge, something he would never admit to, but something again, destined to manifest itself to his image.
Watermark Four: Betsy took to inviting guests to her home and forgetting to provide aperitifs and appetizers. One Saturday she invited the curators from the local folk art museum to her home for cake and coffee and had neither available for service in her home. This behavior ultimately developed into a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, a news dispatch that foisted upon her a dark blanket of despair and increased loneliness. She was away from her sister, her children, and her husband was rarely at her side anymore. She took a gun with her into the master bathtub and hollowed out her skull one afternoon. The pinnacle of their rise had been breached by an affliction of nature, followed by an inescapable solution.
Watermark Five: Sanford, now drunk with influence and persona, spent little time mourning the last organic vestige of his younger life. He immediately took in a young French photographer named Aurélie and savaged her with his repressed, almost cinematic passions. The poor girl was smothered with Sanford’s unrestrained ego, and barely made herself smile while they entertained the town elite on several occasions. The local police reports have a domestic blotter on their May-December bouts—the authorities were called to the Best estate on every full moon, each time sent away without Aurélie’s consent to enforce charges of abuse or battery. The young woman finally escaped Sanford’s clutches on the night of a croquet party to prelude the premiere of Don Giovanni at the opera house. She ran back to the kitchen claiming to pull the croquettes, yes, croquet croquettes, from the oven and continued on to the garage, opening the port door and finally digging her Land Rover tires into the gravel and on to pastures north. Sanford hadn’t noticed her absence until the band of guests began leaving for act one.
Watermark Six: Sanford was diagnosed with cancer. The disease was layering itself along his lungs and liver, the medications making him rasher and more disconnected. His behavior while at the gallery was growing well past erratic. When a client of his decided not to renew his option and instead chose to move his works to a gallery in San Luis Obispo, Sanford locked him out, threw kerosene on the oils, and lit a match. The complaint made the local paper and several arts magazines, but then fell into a predictable anticlimax. Sanford settled with the artist out of court.
Watermark Seven: The bubbling tide of wealth and inconsequence has no official fringe or terminus at this time. Sanford is still very much alive, he is preying on a young woman’s conditional affections as we share this story, and he is deciding, at this very moment, whether to reach for another martini, shoot his new lover in the back of her head, or threaten a community leader over the telephone. Or all three at once. American God of the Great Boomer Legion, if you’re paying attention to this man’s hard-earned fights and fortunes, please lend him the grace to continue to lead by example. There’s no better example. There can’t be.
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