Global Corporation tries to rebuild an ancient viking city with haunting consequences
| Oh, this was not good. Not good at all. Douglas just sat nervously in the ripped vinyl covered chair and watched as the balls were once again racked. Now, to the best of his knowledge, it was illegal to smoke inside any public building in Michigan, but since he didn't see any of the other patrons of “Mean Ricky's Pool Hall” without a cigarette, in fact he could hardly see through the haze at all, he didn't really hesitate that long before lighting up.
He had never felt so out of place in all his life, and for good reason. He was in what must have been the seediest and run down establishment in all of Detroit, and when he took time to think about that implication, it just scared him all the more. He had been there about half an hour and kept looking at his watch. The other twelve or so people in the pool hall this Monday at midnight just glanced over at the “suit” once in a while.
Douglas tried to avoid their eyes and kept smoking and looking at his watch. Why in God's name had Vincent Harlino had him meet “Mother” here? Who was this “Mother” and weren't there any better options. Actually, just off the top of his head, he could think of about a thousand.... literally. He just sat quietly in his chair and tried to be as inconspicuous as possible. He failed miserably. This may have been due to his foot tapping away the minutes and whenever there wasn't the loud clatter of cue on billiard balls, there was Douglas' tap, tap, tapping. Douglas looked up at the others. They looked back. They went on with their game.
After another ten minutes and two cigarettes more of this, it had become too much. Not for Douglas, mind you, but for those playing pool. One of the more muscular fellows, a handsome black man wearing a muscle tee-shirt, a pork pie hat and tinted glasses strolled over to him. Oh great, he thought to himself and made sure the cue stick he had picked up when he walked in was still nearby. Not saying he would know how to use it, but it was good to know it was there in case things got ugly... and it seemed that they just had.
Switching his cue to his other hand and taking the cigarette from his mouth, the fellow said calmly to Douglas, “Hey Wall Street. I know you feel out of place,” At this, the others close enough to overhear just laughed quietly. Douglas shrunk about three inches. “but why don't you quit that tapping. Help us all concentrate. Either that or take of those tap shoes.” Again the laughs.
“Um, no thank you. I'm just here to meet someone and they're a little late, that's all. I'll be fine.” The fellow looked around himself playing confused.
“Oh, well as long as you're fine.” Douglas heard the sarcasm in this remark and realized his mistake. “Serious, who you looking for this late?”
“Oh, I doubt you'd know her.” said Douglas just trying to end the conversation as quickly as possible.
“Her? Business suits got himself a date.” The others had now paused their game and were listening to the banter between the two. When they heard why Douglas was here, they all seemed to understand and give him a little encouragement.
“Oh, all right. Man meets his woman at midnight in a pool hall. I get that. Don't let me distract you from your waiting. Hope you got a couple benjamins.” There was more laughing and encouragement.
“No, you don't understand. I'm here to meet someone called Mother.” Everyone went silent and froze. Maybe he had said the wrong thing. All he could see were the quick, nervous glances from one man to another. “Do any of you know her?”
“What you got against Mother?” The fellow asked, but now much more leery than before.
Before he could complete his sentence, another fellow, who, somehow Douglas had not noticed and not even registered the existence of, began to push through the others. He was immense. Six foot six, at least, and a muscular girth to match. From Douglas best guess he was either Italian of Native American but at this point, he couldn't be sure. All he knew was that, as of now, he was scared, very scared. “He doesn't have anything against Mother. He has an appointment with her.” All of the others just backed away, but their eyes never left either man. “Mister Howe?”
“The name is Rain.” He extended a hand and Douglas reached out to shake, his hand completely encompassed by the Native fellow's.
“So, you know Mother?”
“Uh huh. She sent me here to take you too the hotel.” Douglas' thoughts were now running wild. Hotel? No one said anything about a hotel. Why hadn't he seen this fellow until just now? Who was he and where was Mother?
“How long have you been here?” Douglas asked boldly, and when he heard himself, he was surprised at his own bravery.
“I got here about fifteen minutes before you.” Rain said with a smirk.
“Then why didn't you say anything? It's not like you didn't notice me.” At this, everyone in the pool hall smiled.
“You got that right, Wall street.” They joked. Rain smiled as well.
“I was watching the game. Otis is pretty good and I didn't want to miss anything.” Douglas was speechless. The nerves, the waiting, all for nothing. Before he could short circuit, the big Native American fellow just grinned. “Come on, the truck is outside.”
As they drove down the highway, Douglas was quite a bit more at ease. Although in the company of a stranger, he, at least, was not at Mean Ricky's anymore. “What exactly did you mean “hotel”?”
“Yeah,” said Rain, reaching down to turn down the radio. “The Madison. That's where your room is reserved.” Douglas was confused by this. He tried to piece it together but it wasn't working.
“Do you mind if I have a cigarette?”
“Not if you don't mind me smoking the peace pipe.” Said Rain and reached up on the visor to pull down a small wooden pipe and a lighter. When he lit it, Douglas knew that it wasn't tobacco the Indian was smoking.
“You know that's illegal, right?” asked Douglas.
“Naw,” said Rain with a grin, “it's medicinal. If I didn't have it, I'd be dead.” Douglas coughed a laugh at this.
“Well then, I'm glad you have it. What did you mean about the Madison? I thought we were going to see Mother.”
“Uh uh.” Rain shook his head as he exhaled a large blue cloud of smoke. “We don't really see Mother, but she has made quite an impact on us little folks down in the streets, I tell you what. She is the one responsible for ending most of the drug wars. I don't know how she did it but most of the money and the dope goes through her people and since she if fair on all sides, no one's got any reason to kill her.”
“Kill her?” asked Douglas surprised.
“Yeah man.” said Rain. But she's smart and she's got people in high places. That's one of the biggest reasons no one touches her. I have heard rumors that she comes down here once in a while, but no one could point her out. That's why I'm taking you to the Madison. I got orders from my people to pick you up at the pool hall and deliver you to the hotel. I didn't ask any questions. My contacts are all air tight, dig?” Douglas just nodded nervously. “Good. Early tomorrow there will be a car to take you the rest of the way.” Douglas took a drag from his cigarette.
“So why did I have to meet you at Mean Ricky's. Why couldn't I have gone to the hotel myself?” Again Rain laughed.
“Who knows? Maybe Mother wanted you to see how the other half live. You know, she works in mysterious ways.”
When the car pulled up to a pleasant little suburban home, Douglas was really surprised. “And this is where I meet Mother?” He asked the driver.
“Yep. This is Laura's house. She should be expecting you.”
“Thank you.” said Douglas stepping out of the car and walking cautiously up the driveway. Ringing her doorbell, it was a minute before a beautiful red headed woman about fifty years old answered the door.
“Hello, Douglas? Is that correct?”
Douglas grinned. Well, even if he didn't know why he was here, at least he would have a good looking woman to talk to and that always helped the situation.
“Uh, yes. Is it Mother...”
“It's Laura. Come on in.”
After about ten minutes of brewing drinks and gather up a few goodies to nibble on, the two of them headed out to the front porch of Laura's house talking about the recent events involved with the Tell Corporation. “Yes, the marble is all ready to be shipped out. I think it will set sail within the week.”
“Hmm.” She said sipping her tea. “So that's why Vincent was in such a hurry to get you here.” Douglas was again surprised by this attractive and apparently rather well informed woman.
“So you know Vincent Harlino?” Laura looked at him curiously. “Of course. We...” She paused. “Do you know anything about the Mother's Day accounts?” she asked. Douglas nodded. “Yes, but none of my group could figure out the significance.”
“Oh, come on. How long is it since you have had a mother?”
Strike the light, there it was. Mother's day. Why hadn't he seen it before. “Of course.” he said and then realized the implication she was making. “Wait a minute,” he said slowly mulling though his thoughts. “I've seen expense records for the Tell Corporation. There are multi-millions in those accounts.” Laura grinned without even a wrinkle on her brow then took another sip of her tea.
“Well, you can't buy all of Detroit without a little capitol.”
They were all seated comfortably and sipping their drinks. Daisy's restaurant seemed to be quite the place for business meeting as of late and Douglas, as of now, had his lap top open and was making an international call to the Tell Corporation's Swiss headquarters.
“Can I speak with Mister Reinhold?”
The operator on the other end of the computer link paused. “Um…. Sir? Is he expecting your call?” Not having expected any real difficulty in getting in touch with him, Douglas was taken off guard.
“I’m not sure. Actually, no, not today, but please tell him it is about Mother's Day.” The secretary for the Tell Corporation foreign affairs department paused again.
“Actually sir, he’s in a meeting today. I’m not sure I will be able to get through to him at all.” Again, a pause. Douglas looked up from the computer screen at the three people seated at the table with him. Shrugging and looking nervous as well as a little surprised, “They say he’s in a meeting.”
Winton huffed. “Well it can’t be that important, can it? All we want to know is if there’s room on the frigate.”
Douglas’ speaker clicked back to life. This time, the secretary looked as surprised as Douglas had just been. “Mister Reinhold will speak to you now.” With this, Jon Reinhold’s face appeared on the screen.
“Douglas, you caught me just at the right time, the Finnish parliament just broke. What can I do for you?” Douglas hadn’t actually realized what Jon Reinhold did, actually, but hearing this gave him pause. Apparently, it also gave Winton pause as the others looked at him with smirks on their faces.
“No, it can’t be that important.” chimed Laura.
“Oh…. Um…. Well, I have Laura, Winton and Richard here with me,” Jon cut him off.
“How is Laura? I haven’t been conversing with her as much as I should.”
“Oh, well, she’s was not all that receptive to my offer to go gallivanting off to Europe, but when she heard that the marble was already being loaded on the ship, she was packed and ready to go within twenty four hours.”
“Yes,” smiled Jon, “that’s actually what we expected. What can I help you with?”
“The problem is, two of our group are not big on flying. That’s why I needed to talk to you today. We know the freighter leaves from port tomorrow at dawn and we were wondering if, instead of flying, we could set sail with the marble?” There was a laugh from the other side of the Atlantic.
“You know Douglas, if you are going to become an international, you have to get used to putting your fears aside.”
Douglas grinned. “I didn’t say I was not fond of flying….” But from the comments his computer microphone picked up from the others seated around him, the truth became apparent. Again a laugh.
“All right. I will have Mrs. K okay the plans, but make sure you are on board that ship when it sets sail.”