2.6 – Edna Young
Brigham “Brig” Young VIII was born in the summer of 1980, the second child but first-born son of the Youngs. Brig’s sister, Brenda, was two years older than he. As the first-born son, Brig was first in line to inherit the massive wealth the Youngs had accumulated throughout the decades. But something often overlooked was that he also inherited the equally massive responsibility of being Brigham Young.
Brig and his sister were close growing up and enjoyed a Norman Rockwellian childhood. As Brig entered high school, it appeared as though he were on the same successful course that his father had so easily navigated, doing well in athletics and academics. Although their father had been mostly absent while the Young children grew up, their mother Edna more than made up for it. She was a stay-at-home mom who adored her children, and with the help of a host of maids, personal assistants, drivers, bodyguards, and other employees befitting the ridiculously wealthy, she kept the estate running and the children grounded while VII was off expanding the Young empire.
However, in early December 1995, Brig’s world was ripped apart when Edna died in a car accident. She was the only other passenger in the BMW driven by one of VII’s friends. There were rumors of an affair, but VII was able to keep the scandal contained.
2.7 – Boarding
Brig moved back to his spot on the airport floor and sat down with his back to the wall. He could feel the eyes of his fellow passengers on him as he pretended to study the information on his boarding pass. Other church members, or Salt Lake City residents, surely recognized him, or at least his name, and wondered how this wretch of a man could be the direct descendant of one of the most beloved leaders in Mormon church history. Others, perhaps less familiar with the church, might have wondered what relation this guy might have with Brigham Young University, and still, others might have questioned how a bum had found the money, or earned the mileage, to upgrade to business class.
Brig didn’t care. He just prayed that nobody sat next to him on the flight to San Francisco. However, judging by the number of people in the waiting area, that wasn’t likely. Consequently, Brig lowered his expectations to just hoping that his neighbor would be a quiet, uninterested fellow traveler that would let him fly to San Francisco in peace.
Brig checked his cell phone to see if he had received any new text messages. Nothing. He dialed his voice mail, entered the password, and learned that he had “no new messages.” Brig wasn’t surprised, but it still depressed him. His family hated him. He no longer had any genuine friends. His secret life as a drug addict limited his “friendships” to those who wanted to sell him drugs, and those who wished to use the drugs with him. He had convinced himself that he didn’t care that nobody cared, and he was going to make everyone sorry that they hadn’t treated him better, particularly his father. The only person he had hoped to hear from was his ex-girlfriend, and he hadn’t heard from her since the day she left him several weeks ago.
“We are ready to begin boarding United Flight 5223 with service to San Francisco,” announced the gate attendant. “First and business class passengers, those traveling with infants, and those that may require additional assistance are welcome to board.” She scanned the crowd. Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber were nowhere to be seen. “In a few minutes, we will begin general boarding. Please show your boarding pass and government ID to the gate agent as you proceed through the boarding gate.”
Brig rose to his feet and made his way through the gawking crowd to the line that had formed for pre-boarding. He kept his eyes pointed to the floor, careful not to make eye contact with any of the other passengers to avoid conversation.
He fell in line behind a young couple traveling with several children. The smallest, an infant, slept quietly on the mother’s shoulder. The father was busy collapsing the tandem stroller, and weakly admonished the three older children to “quit playing” and “hand the nice lady the tickets.” Please don’t let them sit by me Brig silently prayed. He liked kids. Had once hoped to have ones of his own, but at this stage of his life, he couldn’t imagine himself married with children. He couldn’t even take care of himself.
The father, who was about Brig’s age, was wearing jeans and a short-sleeved dress shirt. Although non-Mormons may not have noticed, Brig could see the subtle outline of the man’s temple garments, or Mormon underwear, underneath his shirt. Adult Mormons found worthy to enter and attend sacred services in Mormon temples were required to wear “garments,” special underwear as part of their faith. It was only recently, after meeting Happy, that he stopped pretending to be a Mormon and discontinued wearing the sacred skivvies.
The father was finally able to herd his family onto the airplane. Brig stepped forward and handed the “nice lady” his ticket. It was the same woman that had processed his upgrade and given him his business class tickets. Brig noticed now that the name on her badge said “Tina.”
“I knew I would see you again. Why don’t you join me? I’ll buy you a companion ticket and you can fly to Hong Kong with me,” Brig flirted.
“Oh wow. That’s a wonderful offer, but since this flight is full, and I have this job…” the gate agent said sarcastically as she took Brig’s SLC to SFO boarding pass. She tore off the stub and handed the rest of the boarding pass back to Brig.
“It’s only a matter of time now,” Brig continued. “I had a vision while I slept, and the Lord told me you are to be my next wife – my tenth! Come, woman! Obey or suffer eternal damnation!”
“That’s really weird,” Tina said with sincerity. “Enjoy your flight, Mr. Young.”
“Ah. You’re no fun. I guess the mile-high thang is out of the question?”
“Excuse me?” She knew what the “mile high thang” was, and it shocked her that this customer thought he could speak to her this way.
Uh-oh, she’s getting pissed, Brig thought to himself. He must’ve crossed that line people without senses of humor are always referring to. Should he abort or press on? He mistakenly chose the latter.
“It’s alright darlin’. I’ve been a certified member of the Mile High Club since 1998. I’m sure I can get you in. I’d love to be your sponsor.”
“Careful Mr. Young,” Tina raised her eyebrows menacingly and warned Brig, “I don’t care how many frequent flyer miles you have. I will not let you talk to me that way, and I will have you taken off of this flight by security if I have to.”
“Well, that escalated quickly.”
“Not another word!” Tina warned.
“Fuck ya’ then, ya’ fat twat!” Brig said. Fortunately, it was to himself.
2.8 – Journaling
August 8th, 1988
Today is my birthday! Happy Birthday to me! I am eight years old. Mother and father gave me a new bike. It’s red. It’s a Schwinn. I love it! I rode it all over the place today. I also got a real football. Brenda gave me this new journal. Grandma and Grandpa Pierce gave me a new set of scriptures because on Sunday I will be baptized. After they baptize you, all your sins are washed away and the bad things you do really start to count as sins, so I need to do all my bad stuff before then! Ha-ha.
Father called me to wish me a Happy Birthday. He is in a place called Hamburg. It’s in Germany. Father told me hamburgers were invented there. He was just kidding. He told me we would celebrate my birthday a second time when he gets home.
I’m tired. Goodnight.
Before there was Facebook, people wrote the events of their lives in diaries or journals. Mormons have always invested in keeping journals. Their scriptures, the Bible, and the Book of Mormon are journals of men believed by many to have been prophets of God. In a speech entitled “The Angels May Quote From It,” Spencer Kimball, the Latter-Day Saints’ twelfth President, and Prophet, directed the church’s membership to “Get a notebook, my young folks, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity. Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions, and your testimonies.”
Eight-year-old Brigham Young closed his journal, capped his pen, and placed the book back in its secret hiding spot under his mattress. He slipped off of his bed and onto his knees, said his prayers, and got back into bed. He had already washed his face and brushed his teeth, and after a few minutes, his mother ducked her head in to say goodnight and switched off the light. Brig was still a little afraid of the dark, but today he felt closer to being a man. He didn’t need the R2-D2 Star Wars night light for comfort anymore. But he was glad it was there.
Brig’s childhood had been comfortable, uncomplicated, and uneventful. He loved his mom, dad, sister, grandma, grandpa, God, Jesus, and his dog, not necessarily in that order. “Briggy,” as his mom called him, was precocious, loving, respectful, and if we’re honest, slightly spoiled. But how could he not be?
He went to school where he always did well. He attended church every Sunday and took part in other church-sponsored social functions throughout the week. Brig was born into the wealthiest and most influential family in Utah. He was the only son of an only son, in a long line of firstborn sons. He was the progeny of a man millions revered and believed to be a spokesperson for God. Eight-year-old Brig did not yet comprehend the daunting pressure and responsibility of being the eighth Brigham Young and fell quickly into the untroubled sleep of a child.
2.9 – John Wayne
Brig occupied a window seat on the right side, towards the front, of the Boeing 767. No one had yet taken the aisle seat next to him, and he remained hopeful that no one would, though they had already announced that the flight was full. Business-class on this leg of the trip was not a big deal. A slightly bigger, slightly more comfortable seat, with extra legroom and a lower bathroom-to-passenger ratio.
Brigham Young International owned a 2015 Gulfstream 650, and as the North America Regional Sales Manager, his father occasionally let Brig use it. Now that was traveling in style, Brig reminisced. He was not likely to enjoy that kind of luxury ever again. In fact, this business class transport to Hong Kong would likely be his last taste of extravagance. The thought depressed him.
Brig looked around to see if anyone was watching him before opening his backpack and fishing out an orange prescription bottle of oxycodone. He had secured a little over two-hundred pills for the road. Before losing his job and his inheritance, getting drugs had never been a problem. He had a long list of sketchy “doctors” and white-collar drug dealers that fought amongst themselves to supply him. Brig always paid top dollar, rarely asked for credit, and everyone knew he wasn’t a cop.
He tapped out three pills to help get him through this leg of his long trip to Hong Kong. His tolerance for opioids had grown annoyingly strong, but he estimated three 60mg tablets should do the trick. If he fell asleep, which he hoped he would, the flight attendant would wake him when they reached SFO. He didn’t want to be so out of it that he missed his flight to Hong Kong.
The economy class passengers now started to file onto the airplane, and still, nobody had claimed the seat next to him. There were eight business class seats, and only two of them remained unoccupied. Brig leaned against the window and looked out at the men loading the bags onto the airplane. The sound of a newspaper flopping onto the seat next to him, broke his stupor. A large man wearing a cowboy hat was struggling to force his “carry-on” into the overhead compartment above their seats.
Great! Brig thought. John mother-fuckin’ Wayne!
2.10 – Therapy
December 25th, 1995
I can’t do this without you. I can’t! Everybody says how you’re in heaven now, in a “better place,” but why now? I need you here far more than God does, I’m sure of it.
The psychiatrist says to “write stuff down,””get it out of my head,“, “it’ll make me feel better.” Blah, blah, blah. But it doesn’t. Nothing makes me feel better. I’m angry…at God, at Dad, at everyone. I feel empty…I feel like throwing up.
What happened? Nobody will tell me anything but that you were in a horrible car accident. I couldn’t even see you one more time…your casket was closed. Dad said it would be better to remember you the way you were. I guess the wreck must have messed up your face, but I still wanted to see you and touch you once more. I hope you weren’t in any pain.
Please talk to me. Or at least let me know that you’re listening. Can you? I’ve prayed every night, hoping that you, or someone, or something, will let me know you’re still around.
But I’m not feeling anything.
That 1995 Christmas journal entry was the last Brig would make for several months. He was devastated by his mother’s death. It was the first time he had questioned the existence of God and his faith. It wouldn’t be the last. Brig’s father, hardly involved in the children’s parenting anyway, turned over all childcare duties to nannies and willing grandparents, which seemed to work out fine for Brenda, but Brig struggled. Where Brig used to be friendly and outgoing, he was now sullen and withdrawn.
Brig went from being an A student to one that did just enough. He stopped attending church services on Sundays and eventually stopped going to any church activities at all. It didn’t happen all at once, and his grandparents, who were now the primary caregivers, hoped it was just a phase, but they weren’t capable of guiding Brig through those difficult teenage years. Brig needed his father. When Brig’s father eventually learned of his son’s rebelliousness, his reaction was to take something Brig valued away from him, such as his transportation. VII had given Brig a brand new green Range Rover for his 16th birthday – Brig’s first birthday without his mother. Tempers flared, tantrums were thrown, guilt trips were taken, and within a few days the Range Rover was returned to Brig, as VII had urgent business in some faraway place and didn’t have the time, or the endurance, to maintain the discipline his son needed. It was a pattern of behavior that would serve as the foundation of their relationship for the next two decades. Brig learned that VII rarely followed through on his threats. Whether it was because VII didn’t have time and couldn’t be bothered, or because he felt guilty about not being a good father, Brig didn’t know and didn’t care, as long as he got what he wanted.