|Vast: A Novel
Ch. XXI: Creation
by Nicolas Travers ©
Colin wakes on Monday morning, and feels Dorothy breathing gently at his side, and it is a revelation. He is in a new world, and not dreaming, and his waking mind glows with memories of the previous evening, and a glorious progression taken up again on their return from eating, through a series of increasingly somnolent unions, until they were both sleeping, and then resumed in a half-waking break some time before dawn, when Dorothy had scratched softly at his back, and they had come together, to slide united back into slumber.
He lies quietly, reluctant to move, though his watch tells him that it will soon be time to get up, and thinks of RichQuick and Glotech, and making his way in the world. But Queensway is merely a few minutes away, and he has time to lie and reflect on his good fortune, and stretch himself lazily, and his movement wakes Dorothy, and they make love again, and it is perfection.
Afterwards they shower and dress, smiling at each other whenever their eyes meet, and set out to hunt for breakfast, and share coffee and croissants at a French cafe in Queensway, and he walks with Dorothy to the Bat Group building entrance, so that she will know where to find him if need be, and they kiss again, regardless of passers-by.
They also linger for a moment. Colin is already focussing on Glotech, and the feature he has to write. But he is a little worried that Dorothy may find London boring on her own, with little to fill her time.
However she rejects his anxiety with a most adult assurance. "I shall go shopping, and start hunting for somewhere for us to live properly, and ring mum to tell her I'm okay." Her chin is set, and determined. She is not to be treated as a little girl anymore.
Talk of phone calls makes Colin twitchy. Jane may call, and he is already planning to hide behind Wendy. "Don't tell her where you are." He remembers the black document case with its banknotes and packets and bags. "And make sure you send that case back."
Dorothy lowers her eyes in brief acknowledgement, though she rebels at being ordered to return the case. The money is bad money, and Weiss is a bad man, and it is better kept out of his reach, particularly as she and Colin will need funds to set up home together. Likewise the drugs, which must be very valuable, though she is not sure how an amateur could convert them safely into cash. Perhaps she could hold on to them for a few days, and then use them to ransom Prince. However she knows that she must keep this sort of thinking to herself. Men are funny creatures where decisions are concerned: they think they know all the answers, and like showing off, and bossing girls around, even when girls know best, and girls sometimes have to tread carefully, and be clever in secret.
Colin is so full of plans that he has already accepted her acquiescence. "I must go." He kisses her again quickly, and is about to hasten into the building when he sees green jealousy spreading across the faces of a couple of passing Bat Group men. The sight fills him with pride, and he decides to parade his prowess. "Why don't you come in and collect me at half-past five?"
Dorothy also notices the men's jealousy, and is mightily flattered. She decides that perhaps she will spend some of Weiss' money - just a few bob that she can pay back later - on clothes as a treat, and store the rest in the building society account she has built on an early morning paper round. She is now a woman, and she must look good for Colin, and look good for her own morale. She also decides to entrust Weiss' case to the nice boy on the hotel reception desk, for storage in the hotel safe. Drugs are valuable and dangerous commodities, and she must keep the case safe from thieving hands.
Colin takes the lift up to RichQuick's offices feeling like a king. Wendy is already tucked in behind her desk, with just a hint of knee on display, and she smiles brightly in welcome.
"I've just put the kettle on." Her voice is warm with the respect clever secretaries reserve for rising stars: a messenger has just been and gone, leaving an important package from Glotech, and the Home Office has been on the phone, offering an interview with the new Home Secretary for midweek. "Tim's coming in late - he's flying back from Geneva with Nat later this morning, so you're in charge."
She dimples, and for a moment Colin wonders whether being in charge confers special Twister-type privileges. But he quickly pushes the idea out of his mind: Dorothy is better looking than Wendy, he has a challenging day ahead, and he can see work waiting on his desk.
The Glotech transcript is beautiful: nice wide margins, double spacing, just right for rapid editing, and Baptiste has added a second large envelope, marked 'confidential' in a bold rounded hand.
Colin waits for Wendy to undulate off to the RichQuick cafetiere - and it is plain that she is swaying her hips in a really most provocative manner - before tearing the envelope open quickly, though he suspects that it is really a little early for a second wad of banknotes. But sadly Baptiste has sent nothing but a brief handwritten note and a sheet of handwritten figures, and he barely glances at them, one eye already noting Wendy's scrawled Home Office note.
Then he looks at Baptiste's note again. The note is written on an anonymously expensive sheet of dove grey handwriting paper, bereft of address, logo, greeting or signature, with no identification at all. But it tweaks Colin's intuition: 'Just a note to tell you how much we enjoyed your visit: the chief was particularly impressed. He thought you might care to speculate on the enclosed, providing you make it very clear that they are your own guesswork'.
The figures spell out a detailed two year sales and profit projection. Colin scans them quickly, and is baffled for a moment, because they make Glotech's prospects look very much better than his own projections. He studies them again, combing through them carefully, and suddenly realises in an electric flash of excitement that Baptiste has added in a totally new South East Asia division.
Wendy is hovering, holding up the phone, but he waves it away. "Say I'm in a meeting." He is now taut with excitement, scanning the Glotech transcript for clues, blind and deaf to all else as he reaches a section dealing with Glotech's future aims and ambitions.
The transcript faithfully follows his interview. But then, at the end, a two page note has been added, outlining a deal to buy in a dynamic conglomerate based in Singapore, and it is a revelation, and a scoop, and a market coup, and may very well prove the crowning of Colin Vast, and he is exhilarated.
His mind races into overdrive, and he starts to punch a snappy intro into his word processor, mentally shaping Glotech into three thousand hard-selling words, and he can almost hear Karim giggling. But now Wendy is waving her phone again, and this time she is not to be gainsaid.
"It's somebody called Mark Tyler." Her voice is insistent. "He's already called twice, and he says it's important."
Colin skids to a halt. Wendy is pushing the telephone at him, but her presence fills him with panic. He must be alone, and private. He gestures fiercely, wondering desperately how much space he can clear by being in charge, and it is a miracle, for suddenly Wendy has gone, and he has the RichQuick office all to himself.
Tyler's voice is a crackle of sound. "Sorry, I'm outside in the street, I don't want to share any good news with flapping ears." He sounds anxious, almost tense. "What's the word?"
"Brilliant, absolutely brilliant." Colin can barely contain himself. "They gave me a page of numbers."
"Numbers?" Tyler's edginess is plain.
"A detailed projection for next year, with the people in Singapore built in as part of the group."
The telephone makes a tiny gulping sound. "Agreed bid?"
"Totally." Colin scrabbles for Baptiste's sheet of figures and reels off a string of key numbers. "Singapore looks like becoming a couple of new divisions." He scrabbles again, flailing around in the Glotech transcript. "I'm going to lead on it."
The line is silent for a moment, crackling nervously to itself, and then emits a high-pitched squeak, as though somebody has just leaped excitedly into the air and crowed a new dawn. Then another silence, as though complex issues are being weighed.
"I'm going to call a chum who deals in Far Eastern issues." Tyler crackles back to life. But now his voice is hard with a trader's sharpness. "We'll tiptoe into Singapore and Sydney, maybe waft gently through Tokyo and Wall Street, and quietly fill our boots with the Sultan's options."
Colin has a feeling that the market is moving ahead of him. "What about Glotech? What about here?"
"Oh, sod here." The telephone becomes magisterially dismissive. "We want the target, not the buyer. We'll go where the action is, and pile into the prey before the vultures."
"And me?" Now it is Colin's turn to feel tense. He has a sudden sense of having sold all his secrets without setting a price.
The telephone crackles thoughtfully to itself for a moment. "Give us a copy of your piece, talk your boss into running a trailer in next weekend's Sunday Times, and we'll cut you in for a couple of points on the margin."
Colin is lost.
"Two percent of the uplift, maybe two and a half if we can get things really moving." Tyler sounds impatient to be away. "I'll see if I can mobilise fifty grand - that should leverage the best part of a million. With luck we'll double, maybe even treble, our money, and you'll be a rich man."
The phone clicks, and he is gone. But his words are a trigger, a magic stimulant, and Colin whirls into action. Glotech quickly takes shape in his mind, and words flow effortlessly through his fingertips onto the screen of his wordprocessor, spinning possible oriental expansion plans into a glittering word picture projecting accelerating Glotech growth and prosperity, plus a truly magic promise for Glotech shareholders, and Colin knows that he is shaping a gem.
Wendy ferries up regular cups of strong black coffee as he writes, and smiles at him indulgently, the Home Office sets an interview for Wednesday afternoon, and promises to send a courier with every possible press cutting relating to the winsome new Home Secretary, and Twister tiptoes in cautiously, pausing only to pat Colin benignly on his shoulder as he pounds away at his keyboard, and time flies.
Lunchtime comes and goes, but he has no hunger, and Twister - showing great concern - sends out for sandwiches. Teatime comes, and he starts to slow, coming up on the home stretch, and suddenly he is patting his closing assessment into place, and three thousand words are safely in the bag, and it is a memorable achievement, and Colin pushes his swivel chair back, and takes a deep, deep breath, and fills with pride, and slowly buries his head in his hands, for he feels as though he has been wrung out and hung up to dry, and he is totally exhausted.
Twister is already waiting, and spirits Colin's text away into his office. Pages rustle, punctuated by a flurry of enthusiastic exclamations, and RichQuick's editor hurries out again, waving the pages at Wendy.
"Quick - fax this to Geneva, and send a copy down to Nat." He is beaming from ear to ear.
Colin stretches, and yawns. "What do you think?"
"Brilliant, dear boy, absolutely brilliant." Twister can barely restrain his joy, and Colin shrinks into his chair, fearful for a moment that he may be targeted for a close editorial embrace. "You've done us proud, dear boy, you really have."
He grasps Colin's hand and pumps for all the world as though drawing water. He has every reason to be jubilant, having just spent a weekend helping Nat Batten sew up a neat little deal to sell Bat Group to the Sultan for shares in the Sultan's holding company; shares that will now swap painlessly into Glotech paper on a sharp value climb.
It is a wondrous vision, and for a moment Twister's joy is so overwhelming that he is tempted to cut Colin in for a slice. But he quickly dismisses this foolishness as a passing weakness, for he is sure Colin will waste no time in linking up with Karim as soon as the Sultan's man arrives in London, and he is not daft enough to give what may well soon be taken. He casts around in his mind for an alternative, and beams with a most avuncular benevolence.
"Dinner, dear boy. We must dine together." He mentally homes in on Maroush, an expensively smart Lebanese restaurant off the Edgware road, where the food is most spicy, and the bellydancers are tantalising enough to tempt stern Arab shiekhs from their desert fastnesses. "We'll hit the town, and paint it red."
He gestures expansively, and sweeps Wendy in as he speaks, mindful that he must also rebuild his credit with his secretary before Karim returns - for he retains pained memories of lunch at the Belvedere, and watching Wendy drive off in a stretched limousine, and strongly suspects that Karim may envisage fresh poaching. He will play the good boss, pack Colin off home nice and early, fill Wendy with champers, and collect in style - even if he has to send her home to Lewisham in an expensive early morning minicab.
The telephone in his office starts to ring, momentarily breaking his train of thought, and he frowns. It is time to move, to mobilise Colin and Wendy, and translate plans into action. The interruption is a pain.
Colin is also frowning. Glotech has taken everything out of him, and now he just wants to find somewhere cosy, and candlelit, to scan a tasty menu, and hold hands with Dorothy, and go early to bed. He definitely does not want Twister for dinner.
But now Twister has his ear to the telephone and is smiling again. He looks up at Colin.
"Reception says a girl is waiting for you downstairs. She's coming up." His benevolence is wholly paternal - he has met Jane and Sarah once, and does not think much of Colin's daughter. But now she may be about to deal him a trump hand, for she must have come to escort her father home, and he will have Wendy all to himself.
Colin opens his mouth, and then shuts it tight. Twister and Wendy are in for a surprise, and he would not spoil it for all the world.
The door at the end of the floor opens, and Nat Batten appears. He is smiling, in a most unaccustomed way, and seems to be bowing and scraping as he makes way for a companion.
Dorothy follows him. She has been shopping, and treated herself to a shampoo and trim, just a snip and a snap, because the salon was expensive, but her fair hair is shining, and flowing sleekly onto her shoulders, and she knows that she looks good. She is also wearing a new pale green linen suit that she has bought for confronting estate agents, after twice being treated as a silly little girl, and has invested in new shoes to set off the suit, and a smart dark green silk blouse, and she now looks a real woman, and she has admired herself in no end of shop windows whilst strolling down Queensway - and been admired no end into the bargain.
Colin beams proprietorially as Twister and Wendy stand agape.
"Dorothy, this is my boss, Tim, and Wendy, our secretary."
Wendy's lips tighten a fraction. But Twister is lost for words.
"Dorothy?" He stares, and Dorothy dimples modestly, and looks down at the carpet.
"Dorothy and I are setting up home together."
Three pairs of eyes fix on Colin. Wendy has gone a very pale shade of green, paler even than Dorothy's linen suit, while Twister and Batten patently cannot believe their eyes or ears.
Colin ignores them. He wonders for a moment where Dorothy has found the money for her new outfit, but it is not time to quibble. Tyler's money will help pay back anything Weiss loses, and it is a moment to treasure. He smiles, and holds out his hand, and Dorothy moves to stand at his side, and he is filled with a joy that knows no bounds.
To Be Continued...
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