Sunday Stories: “Divus Iulius”

Divus Iulius
by Samuel Cooper

He lost his father in October 1963. The next year, after being nominated chairman of Boch Industries, he broke an engagement to Lynda Bird Johnson, whose father coveted the alliance, alleging emotional abuse. Leaving his younger brother Raymond with the board’s ear, Julius retreated to a school friend’s London estate. President Johnson, publicly silent, secretly sought to destroy him. Initially sympathetic, the press began to call him a communist homosexual, adducing as evidence the “suggestive name of Julius Boch’s foreign lover, Maximilian Walpole.” Raymond gained control of the family business and gave Julius R&D. “It’s your company,” Johnson snarled, “but you might as well be giving Einstein the KGB.”

He is famous for his girth, but in those days he was a swimmer. At the 1963 Phillips Nationals he set a new US record in the 200m butterfly. His broad, domineering torso tamed the water with the deceptive speed of a yacht, but on land he waddled. So delighted was he to lend money that he shamed the most dissolute debtors. No one suspected his ambition, which seemed to spring fully mature from his comically elongated head as if by accident.

Boch Industries grew five hundredfold in the years following J. Howard Boch’s death. Raymond took full credit in his 1993 book, How to Draw Blood from Vampires, on management strategy, but scholars today scoff at this self-aggrandizing fluff, pointing instead to Julius’ magical innovations. Boch Energy pioneered deep-sea oil extraction; Boch Defense’s Typhon II revolutionized celestial missile guidance; Boch Financial was the first firm to employ the now-standard Boch-Winkler model for pricing exotic equity derivatives. Fellow scientists called him an alchemist. “Give me red tape,” he liked to say, eyelids drooping sheepishly, “and I’ll give you toilet paper.”

His lavish 1983 wedding to television actress Henrietta Sables failed to quell rumors of his homosexuality, which flared when he made Walpole, by all accounts a brainless dilettante, head of Boch Financial’s Washington office. Walpole was hired not as a mathematician but as a lobbyist. For this he was abundantly qualified: His accent, imperial moustache, and cowboy boots so bewitched congressmen that many agreed to deregulate the financial industry, gut the EPA, and part with fat government contracts almost for free. Only truly devoted bigots persisted in calling Julius a communist. By nature more given to childlike wonder than rage, he fumed when discussing the Welfare State. “Tax me, and I will bury you in lawyers,” he writes in his memoirs. “Ask, and you shall receive. Once, a black man lying in squalor accosted me cheekily for a thousand dollars. I wrote him a check for ten thousand, and said, ‘Go and sin no more.’”

Raymond, though still nominally head of Boch Industries, increasingly resented his brother. On February 12, 1999, Walpole was assassinated by masked gunmen outside his Spanish villa. Local authorities, caving to threats or bribes, blamed the hit on angry creditors—a blatant impossibility, as he was practically wedded to a bank. Julius, who was certainly in Spain at the time and may have witnessed the attack, snapped. Though his memoirs omit this period, friends say he spent countless hours in the laboratory of his Wichita compound, alone, in white coat and goggles, eating doughnuts by the dozen. Within months, both his brother and his wife were diagnosed with the same form of a rare, untreatable cancer. Having thus sacrificed at his beloved’s tomb, Julius turned to politics.

He attained absolute power by degrees, without, he claimed, ever intending to do so. “My goal was always to give back,” he writes. “I craved to better this country, this planet, this marvelous human race. And I loathed the petty US Government of old for hindering that endeavor.” He foresaw the financial crisis of 2008 and, through a series of brilliant maneuvers (fully explained in his treatise Hedging the Apocalypse), doubled his company’s value. His gains would have been greater still had those rivals the market condemned not received, at the last second, the imperial pardon.

Now nearly seventy, struggling with diabetes, glimpsing death in the shadows, he resolved to leave a legacy of radical change. From 2009 to 2016 he placed everyone he could in his debt, to the point that one could not travel five miles without seeing a “Julius Boch Stadium,” a “Julius Boch Cancer Center,” a “Julius Boch Freeway,” or a “Julius Boch Dude Ranch.” So touched was he by the outpourings of gratitude that his fleshy eyes were seldom free of tears. In 2016 he ran for president on the platform, “Prosperity for the Deserving.” “One cannot put new wine into old wineskins,” he preached. His enemies, shuddering at these ungodly words, claimed he meant the Constitution, a charge he never denied outright. He was opposed by a ragtag coalition of Democrats and Republicans, all career politicians, who so feared him that they proposed fighting with federal money. This merely fueled his support. “For too long now, we’ve let them rig the game,” he bellowed, sweat pooling on his drooping jowls. “We say, ‘May the best man win.’ In my world, the best man gets the chance to win.” He won every state except Massachusetts.

In light of his failing health, Congress voted him unlimited executive powers to liquidate the government. With a single stroke he eliminated taxes and the national debt by closing all government agencies and selling their assets. The FBI, military, and treasury retained the federal seal, but these too he privatized. He personally demolished the National Cathedral, erecting in its place an open-air sanctuary, encircled by a chain-link fence, which he called the Temple to the Free Market. Here, on January 1, 2018, Julius Boch injected 2 grams of pancuronium bromide directly into his heart, and died free.

No one realized he was dead until his flesh had decayed and his bones disappeared, and so many claimed he had ascended into heaven. They had little time to worship him, however, for all were now at war.

Sam Cooper lives in Princeton, NJ. You can contact him at


Art by Margarita Korol