Kenny Boy and me

That was a rather timely death, wasn’t it? I didn’t know him particularly well, but I did know him well enough that, unlike the media observers at his trial, I wasn’t in the least bit surprised by his behavior. Instead of behaving in the contrite and repentant manner that would be becoming in a man whose foolish, but innocent mistakes cost thousands of individuals their livelihoods and retirement plans – that was his version of the story, of course – he strangely tried to bluster his way out of it. I suspect that up until the verdict was pronounced, he thought his big-name, one-time friends would engineer a graceful exit for him.

I mostly remember him being casually arrogant and a little sarcastic towards those he considered unimportant while openly fawning on those more famous and important than him. For example, I can’t recall him ever addressing me by name, only as “the Flash”, which he seemed to have coined as a vaguely slighting reference to my running track. (Just how it was supposed to be belittling, I never knew.) Lay didn’t strike me as a bad man or a brilliant one, just an ambitious guy of above-average intelligence who understood how the power games were played, who the players were and how to ride their coattails.

From my perspective, I strongly doubt he was the thief or cunning mastermind that some of his critics made him out to be. I think he was mostly a weak man who enjoyed the trappings of power more than the substance itself, who quickly learned to look the other way whenever the bright boys came up with one of their shadier setups.

I could certainly be wrong, but that’s the impression I had of him, anyhow. For what it’s worth, I think the “faked death” scenario is absurd, as I’m pretty sure he was already scraped off the shoes of the power brokers with whom he once hobnobbed, and who presumably would have been the ones to orchestrate such a charade. Some men would neither notice nor care that they’d been kicked out of the inner circle, but Ken Lay’s ambition and pride was such that I imagine it was his belated recognition of that humiliation that killed him in the end.