A Tale of Nine
Kevin Fredricks stood in his office.
He was nervous.
He had spent many years building up this company.
And now someone wanted to buy it.
Part of him was sad to be handing over the reigns.
But part of him was gratified to see that someone valued the company enough to offer to buy it.
And oh what a price.
Kevin hadnít needed long to think about it.
The business had been successful enough to stay in the black, but it wasnít terribly profitable.
They had branch offices in a few of the states, and it paid the bills, but wasnít exactly the sort of business that seemed to Kevin to be the sort that someone would want to buy - especially not for the amount that he'd been offered.
When someone offers such a huge sum of money Ė it seems inconsiderate to point out that it is more than somethingís worth.
So he was waiting for the buyer to arrive, so he could sign the papers.
The guy was late though.
The buyer had gone to great pains to make sure that the meeting could be held in the morning. But the morning was almost spent, and he still wasnít here yet.
Kevin walked to his window to watch the car park to see if he could see the man arriving. He almost thought he could speed up events by watching them himself.
Instead he watched with a smile as the building security escorted an enraged bum out the front doors. The man was probably drunk, or looked like it from up here. He seemed to be shouting a lot, and the security personnel were trying to calm him down.
Kevin was interrupted by a call from his receptionist.
"Yes" he said as he picked up the phone.
"I have the manager of one of the branch offices on the line," his receptionist told him.
"I told you, I donít want to be disturbed," Kevin said slightly annoyed.
"He says itís urgent" the receptionist continued.
Kevin looked up at the clock. It was midday. The man he was waiting for still wasnít here, and probably wouldnít be for a while at this rate.
"Ok, put him through," Kevin said with a sigh.
He supposed he could take one last call before he sold the business.
Libby looked up in disbelief.
Standing before her desk was a grubby man wearing an old worn coat. He was sporting a freshly blacked eye and a bleeding nose.
The grubby man was angry, and was shouting all sorts of abuse.
He tried again to convince her that he had an appointment with her boss.
Libby again asked for identification, but the guy produced none.
Once again Libby told him that she couldnít let him through.
With a final roar of anger, the man stormed past her desk, and made for the elevators. He obviously planned to find the boss with or without her approval.
The boss had left specific instructions not to be disturbed. He was supposed to be meeting with a businessman from out-of-town for some sort of special meeting.
There was no way that he would take the time to see this bum today.
Libby paged the building's security.
Jarrod Everson was in a bad mood.
Going to your mother's funeral does that.
He wasnít angry or anything, he was just terribly unhappy and depressed.
But he was determined to give his mum a proper farewell.
He had even rented an expensive suit for the occasion.
His mother had been telling him to get one for years. Now he'd finally done it, for her funeral.
But even in his mood, when he saw a motorist with a flat tyre trying to flag down traffic, he could pass him by.
Jarrod was a kind man, and normally happy to help, even when so depressed.
"Whatís up?" he asked after he had pulled to a stop besides the man.
"I ran over something and got a flat" the man said "and the bloody rental doesnít have a jack."
"I've got one in the back", Jarrod said, "but I'm not exactly in the right clothes to help. You're welcome to use it though."
Jarrod opened the back and stood aside as the motorist in the long grubby coat got the jack out, and proceeded to prove that he'd never changed a tyre before. Jarrod gave advice, but didnít touch anything, for fear of dirtying his suit.
"Good thing I was running early" thought Jarrod. The man in the coat continued to struggle with the jack and wheel Ė making slow progress.
The man finally got his wheel changed. He put the jack back in Jarrod's car.
"Thanks for that," the man said. He went to offer to shake Jarrodís' hand, but thought better of it when he saw how filthy his hands were.
Suddenly the guy tripped.
Seemed like his shoes were too big for his feet.
With an involuntary action, the man reached out to steady himself.
He grabbed Jarrod to stop himself falling.
Filthy hands on a clean suit.
Jarrod froze for a moment, then looked down in horror at the grease mark on his white shirt.
He could still hear his mother's voice, telling him how she'd always wanted to see him wearing a good looking suit.
Rage filled Jarrodís veins.
He took a swing at the moron's head - connecting with his skull.
Trevor was singing.
He did that when he was driving.
Because - really - what else was there to do?
His old truck didnít have a stereo, and he had no passenger to talk to.
So he sang.
He was on his way to the tip. He had dismantled an old wooden shed that had long since collapsed and his wife had warned him that if it wasnít removed from the farm by midday there'd be hell to pay.
So his ancient dilapidated truck was piled high with old wooden boards, many with rusty nails jutting out, like a weapon from a Mad Max film.
The load was precariously balanced, and rocked about as he drove, but so far nothing had come adrift. As long as he kept it smooth he was sure everything would make it as far as the tip.
His contented singing was rudely interrupted when a car behind him started continually blowing its horn.
Trevor was peering through his mirrors to see which car was making the noise, when he was almost side-swiped by yet another car.
Trevor reefed on the wheel, and his truck lurched sideways.
His wheels hit the gravel verge and the whole truck shuddered.
In his efforts to keep the truck under control, Trevor didnít even notice that one of the old wooden boards, covered in nails, fell off the back and landed on the road.
Ellie Jameson was late for work.
So she was driving pretty fast.
She swerved through the sluggish morning traffic, where-ever she could squeeze past, intent on gaining any time possible.
She passed a rental car, with a guy in an old coat driving it.
She swerved back into her original lane, forcing the guy in the rental to brake hard to avoid her.
The guy must have been in a bad mood already. He obviously took offence at the mauver. He honked his horn in annoyance - and continued to do so.
The guy didnít let up.
He just kept honking.
Now Ellie was annoyed too.
She glanced through her rear-view mirror and went to hit the brakes, just to annoy the jerk behind her. He deserved it.
Her foot slipped.
Hitting the accelerator instead of the breaks, she surged forward, almost colliding with a small truck.
Boris watched the man exit the hotel.
The man was wearing an old rough coat, and a shirt that looked like it was part of pyjamas suit.
But he was carrying a briefcase.
And a pretty flash looking one at that too.
Not that Boris knew much about briefcases.
But he knew this.
You only carry a briefcase like that if it's got stuff in it.
And if you're the sort of person who carries a briefcase, you arenít the sort of person who looks like the guy he was watching.
Unless the guy was trying to disguise himself.
Which meant that what was in the briefcase would be something very important, and probably worth a lot.
So Boris decided to steal it.
It wasnít a terribly unusual thing for him to decide.
That's what he did, he was a thief.
Not a good one mind, but he managed to survive.
Some thieves are cunning and skilful - others are just thugs.
Boris was a thug.
He walked toward the man with the case.
"Hey you!" he called.
The man turned, and spoke as if to explain some misunderstanding "Umm, I'm not him. They took the wrong bag and I had to wear his clothes".
Boris had no idea what he was talking about, so he tackled him, threw him to the ground, and ran off with the briefcase.
Unfortunately for Boris, the briefcase only contained boring papers, as he later discovered. Perhaps the briefcase itself would be worth a few bucks.
Sam Templeton signed the evidence form. "This is all he had with him" he told the other officer.
The second officer glanced inside the suitcase. "So what did you bust him for?" he asked.
"Possession" Sam said.
"How'd you get him?"
"Where'd you find him?"
"In a little hotel at the edge of town. He was holed up with a businessman from somewhere. They were sharing a suite to save on costs."
ďHa, thatíd be right. He always was a stingy bugger.Ē
ďYeah Ė well heíll pay big time now.
"Umm, are you sure these are his things?" the other officer asked as he shuffled through the stuff in the suitcase.
"These suits look a little different to the stuff I expected. I thought he always wore old stuff he stole from the Salvos."
Sam glanced inside the bag. "Ah shit!" he said, "my bloody partner grabbed the wrong bag."
Thomas Haru walked out of the guttered shell of the building, rolling his hose as he did so.
Thomas was a fire-fighter. Tonight he and his crew had just put out an inferno.
The fire had ragged fiercely through the old run-down hotel. The building was now a black, soot-covered shell. Fortunately no one had been trapped inside, and the staff and guests had managed to get out safely. The hotel staff had disappeared quickly to get away from angry customers who were demanding their money back.
Thomas saw some of them now. One was a business man in a suit who was just standing there, gaping at the remains of the hotel.
Seeing Thomas, the man spoke to him, "What am I supposed to do now?" he asked. Thomas ignored the question and continued rolling his hose.
Another man, probably another misplaced guest, appeared. "There's another hotel down the road," he said, "but they only got family suites left. I'll go halves if you want to share one. It's the only other hotel around that'd have vacancies."
Thomas glanced at the newcomer. He was wearing a long, old over-coat and clothes that generally made him look rough and shady. Not quite homeless perhaps, but close. There was no way that Thomas would want to share a suite with him.
The businessman thought for a while, as if adding up the costs, and then agreed, and the two men walked away together.
Thomas continued to roll his hose.
Darryl Walters smiled smugly as he walked down the gang-way of the Jumbo Jet he had arrived on. He had been able to get a very cheap flight, and the seats had been small and in the back of the plane.
It wasnít at all what people expected from a wealthy businessman like him. But Darryl had long decided that the best way to make money was to hoard it. So hoard it he had. Some people called him a scrooge. He just considered himself thrifty.
The cheap flight meant he was a day early. But that was ok. He had a hotel room booked and a car waiting for him. Both were cheap, of course.
Darryl continued to smile as he climbed into the cheap renta-car. He was smiling because he was about to be rich. Not that he wasnít pretty rich already - but it was about to be more than doubled.
Some people would call it insider trading.
They would call him a crook and take him to jail.
Darryl called it destiny.
It was his destiny to get rich, and other people's destiny not to.
He had received word, never mind how, that a small branch of a software company had managed to do the impossible. They had developed a piece of software that was going to revolutionize the world. Within a year it would replace Google as the best known technology brand.
But the small branch that had done this hadnít yet told their superiors. They hadnít reported to their head office.
They were geeks of the old-school. People who did things because they wanted to, with the money merely a side-benefit. So they were making sure they got it right before reporting their success.
Darrylís sources had let him in on the news.
When the parent company found out, they would market it and their stocks would go up like rockets.
The branch in question planned to inform their parent company tomorrow at noon.
Which meant that Darryl had until then to get the CEO of the company to sign the sale contracts that would make Darryl the owner of the entire company, as well as itís subsidiaries.
The deal had already been accepted, it was just pending the signatures.
Darryl had the papers in his briefcase ready to go.
He could have flown directly there in the morning Ė but this way had worked out cheaper.
Darryl could smell the money as he drove toward the cheap hotel where he had booked a room for the night.
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