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The Happy Ho – Chapter 6.11

Brig’s drinking and drug use were ripped out of the closet when a few days after the impromptu party an article appeared in the local newspaper with the headline, “Brigham Young: The Next Generation” with the byline credited to reporter Steve Petrie. Below the headline was a picture of Brig holding up a shot glass as if toasting the cameraman (Steve), hair mussed, shirt open, clearly intoxicated. Another photo showed Happy straddling and kissing Brig, a picture that Steve must have taken soon after Happy’s Gangnam dance. Another photo, perhaps the most damaging, showed Brig peeing on the base of the Brigham Young monument that stood at the corner of Salt Lake City’s Main and South Temple streets, Brig’s manhood pixelated. 

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The article detailed several naughty but harmless escapades that would have been lauded if he were a rock or movie star, but he was Brigham Young, and it was a scandal of the highest order. He was promptly and publicly excommunicated from the Mormon church. High-ranking church leaders were quoted as being extremely disappointed in Brigham Young VIII but hoped that this incident would be a wake-up call and that he would soon turn his life back to the Lord. They also fired him from his position at Brigham Young International. His father, as usual, had been out of town but returned as soon as the scandal broke.

“You are destroying the legacy of our name. It’s not fair to me, your sister, my future grandchildren, or to the great men that gave us our name and heritage. I will not continue to support you and this abhorrent behavior. You are an unappreciative man who refuses to grow up.” They expected Brig to be the heir to the family fortune, to one day take on the mantle of leadership and be the patriarch of the Young family. VII continued, “You are an embarrassment and a disappointment to our entire family. I don’t know what God has planned for you, but it won’t be with us. Just as they have excommunicated you from the church, you are no longer a part the Young family.”

Brig didn’t argue. Ordinarily, he would try to guilt his father into forgiveness, suggesting that his mother’s death was his father’s fault, that VII was a horrible father and had never been there for him, and that Brenda had always been his favorite.

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“You are not to contact any of us,” VII instructed.

Brig knew this time was different, and he lacked the energy to argue. As VII droned on, Brig tried to put a positive spin on things, thinking this was really for the best and smiled as he thought of Happy.

“You think this is funny?” his dad asked, mistaking his son’s smile as a sign of disrespect.

“No, I don’t. I find it an amusing coincidence because I don’t want contact with anyone in the family. The only Youngs I care about are dead. Having said that, our family is notoriously large. What if I accidentally speak with one of my cousins without realizing it?” asked Brig. “How do you plan on separating my beloved sister and I? Hmmm?” He said sarcastically. “Oh wait… scratch that. We both know Brenda hates me as much as you do. She’s always envied my position and lusted after your money. Knowing that manipulative bitch, she probably put you up to this.”

His father stared back with a disgusted and disbelieving look on his face. “Your sister and I have wanted nothing but your happiness and success. Maybe I could have tried harder to help you, tried differently, but you’re a thirty-five-year-old man that is hell-bent on destroying himself and everyone around him.”

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Brig remained quiet. He could tell that his father was feeling guilty by the things he was saying and how he was saying them. They had had this same conversation many times over the last decade. Guilt was Brig’s only hope.

His father broke the silence. “It would probably be better for everyone if you left Utah entirely. If you agree to leave, I will give you a final sum of money, but you must leave the state.”

Brig looked at VII incredulously. “Say what you mean…probably better for you. I don’t want your fucking money! And was that a threat? You know I’ll bet the Tribune would love that scoop.”

“You are so completely out of touch with reality,” VII shook his head in disbelief. “O.K. If that’s the way you want it. Fine. Get out of my office. Now!” his father’s voice was shaking with anger. “Let me be clear Brigham. I never want to see or hear from you again.”

Brig walked away, head down as if in thought. He stopped, lifted his head, and broke out in song.

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“We thank thee, O God, for a prophet

To guide us in these latter days.

We thank thee for sending the gospel

To lighten our minds with its rays.”

Brig was being blasphemous, and VII had had enough. “I said get out!” he charged Brig and shoved him towards the door. Brig cocked his arm and made a fist as if to strike. His father brought his arms up in a cross, to protect himself from the violence, but it never came. Instead, Brig dropped his fist and moved to the second verse of the hymn:

“When dark clouds of trouble hang o’er us

And threaten our peace to destroy,

There is hope smiling brightly before us,

And we know that deliv’rance is nigh.”

The office door opened and one of his father’s assistants rushed in. Brig brushed past him, both arms raised above his head, middle fingers extended.

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