...The younger brother came to himself and said, 'My dad's an old softy. I reckon if I returned looking all dirty and sorrowful he'd bail me out. Worth a try anyway.' he reasoned.
And so he rose and made the journey back to his father rehearsing his sorry-speech along the way.
'Father, my father. I know I messed up. I know I don't deserve anything from you. You'd be well within your rights to shun me forever. But, father, my father, I'm throwing myself on your mercy, a poor stinking wretch. But I know you're a good dad - will you help me out?'
By the time he got to his father's house his speech was pitch-perfect. He rang the door-bell and waited.
Eventually he heard his father's shuffling steps, then the locks turning in the door, one after the other - four in all. At last it creaked open a crack and the old man squinted up at his son.
Ahem. 'Father, my father. I know I messed up. I know I don't deserve anything...' began the prodigal.
The father's look began to thaw. From frowning, to shocked recognition and then he softened. The speech was good. Perhaps the best yet. By the end the old man couldn't help but blurt out,
'Ah my son! You certainly know how to tug at my heart strings. What can I do for you?'
The son took a moment to congratulate himself on another triumph.
'Well, father,' he said, clapping his hands together and rubbing them. 'Wild living ain't cheap! And Lord knows how I'm going to afford my ticket back to the far country...'
'Back? You want to go back?' asked the father, his face falling.
'Well just for now. Unfinished business you see. But I'm definitely planning on returning...'
'...Because, son, you know there's always room for you here...'
'Yes, sure. Absolutely dad. And I'll definitely be returning. Probably quite often. But there's things I need to do and, well, I need your help.'
The prodigal couldn't suppress a guilty smile. He'd been found out.
'Well dad, there's the ticket. Then I need the deposit on a new place. I've found the perfect pad - downtown, the ladies love it. But that's another thing,' he said chuckling, 'they sure are expensive those women!'
'How much?' he asked again.
'It's hard to put a figure you know dad, it could be anything.'
They looked at each other for a full minute. The father broke the silence.
'Blank cheque then?'
'Blank cheque would be great! Yeah thanks. Phew. You're a real life-saver dad. Wow. I'd hug you, but I'm a bit smelly from the pigs. Speaking of which, do you have any food? Ham sandwich maybe?'
'Ham sandwich?? Look, come inside. I'll kill the fattened calf. Tonight we'll feast!'
'Gosh, dad. That's sweet but I really don't have time. Listen, I'll just grab something from drive thru. The cheque's fine. And, now that I think of it, don't make it out to the family name. I've changed it. Yeah, too many people were associating me with you and... well. You know...'
Within five minutes the younger son was heading back down the drive. He spotted his brother in the field and, holding the cheque aloft, called out. "Ciao bro'! Enjoy the slaving!"