J. Mantachie “Trace” Mooreville III claimed to have Cherokee ancestry, often spinning yarns about how his great-great grandmother had been an Indian princess, left on a doorstep after a succession crisis. There wasn’t a shred of evidence for it, not least of which because the Cherokee don’t have princesses as such, but the resulting sense of solidarity and brotherhood was a rare bright spot in Trace Mooreville’s life. The time he picked up an old Choctaw man at the bus stop in his Mercedes, took him where he was going, and gave him $20 to boot vied for being the shining moment of the young man’s life.

Six years of economics at NMU had led to Trace Mooreville staggering away degree in hand; his father J. Mantachie “Chip” Mooreville II used to joke that his son had majored in oceanography since he was always working around C level. But that had been the fig leaf Chip had needed to give Trace a job and office at Mooreville and Sons Paper Mill, the same august enterprise started by J. Mantachie “Manny” Mooreville I after the war. Trace’s title, going by his office door, was “Executive Vice President.” Going by his salary, he was a major shareholder. Going by the 2.5 days of work he put in a week, most of which was spreadsheets and emails, emails and spreadsheets, Trace was a secretary. This would represent the rare case of a secretary’s pay accurately reflecting their organizational importance if he was any good at it, but Missy Burgermeister invariable had to redo half of the work for pennies on the dollar. Much like hunched, bespectacled Washington Brewer did all Chip Mooreville’s work as CEO for a fraction of the pay, come to think.

What, then, of the other 4.5 days Trace Mooreville was issued like clockwork every Sunday? He poured his time and passions into three leaky jugs, neither of which could ever be full enough for his liking. The first was his latest squeeze; Trace had never heard the phrase “serial monogamist” but his eyes would have lit up upon reading the definition. There was always somebody new, or at the very least someone who had been refreshed, for him to shower with sweet nothings and perishable gifts. They often were pressured to join his second passion, golf, at the Lynx Country Club. There, Trace was known as “Wasp,” a name he took great personal price in, never suspecting that it reflected his tendency to dance about, look for sugar, and sting anyone who got too close. Chip Mooreville’s checkbook was full of payments to glazier and detailers to make up for dings, dents, scratches, and shatterings inflicted by his son upon unsuspecting domiciles and conveyances.

The final passion? Musical theater. And if anything could vie for helping the old Choctaw man at the bus station for the highlight reel of his life, it was the summer production of Gilbert and Sullivan in which he brought the house down, and paid for the whole enterprise out of pocket to boot.

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