Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Life

The anticipation had been worse than the realization. Seeing the look on his face and the words he heard, Roger guessed the identity of the caller. He got up and said he was going to look for donuts. Trying to cheer up his friend, he lightly noted that a dozen would do because he was on a diet. That left Edward to make the drive to the old homestead alone without things getting awkward.

When he pulled up to the red-bricked house with the neat middle-sized yard, he was surprised to see Kaliyah’s car parked in the driveway. There not being more room, he parked in front beside the sidewalk. Quietly mounting the front walk that cut through the hilly grass with garden interspaced, he rang the doorbell instead of walking right in. The screen door had the same old flowery imprint in sheet metal just below the screen that he remembered.

As he expected, it was his father that opened the door. Interpreting Edward’s formality as shame, he looked straight-eyed at his son before asking him to come in. His mom and Kaliyah were sitting in the living room to the right. The couches and chairs came from the same mid-priced department store chain his father started working for twenty-five years ago. He now was a store manager.

Kaliayh being on the couch, with his mother’s obvious permission, Edward sat beside her. His father sat in his favourite chair, now arranged so the back was to the T.V. He adjusted it further to point to his son. Since the couch was in the centre of the room, and his father liked to sit near the back, Edward had to look left at him.

Adjustment made, Mr. Campbell started.

“Would you mind telling me why you are known through the world as something called the ‘ultimate gangsta’?” His distaste at pronouncing the slang didn’t just come from its colloquiality.

Pointed finger deployed, but not yet unfurled, he waited for what his son had to say.

“Dad,” Edward explained uneasily, “it was a prank.” He did not say “punk.” “Who in their right mind would think that a drug dealer would knock on the door as if he were a bill collector?”

That got his father sidetracked enough to ask about Edward’s finances – but only briefly. Returning to the subject at head, he pressed the point with his finger now unveiled.

“If this is a prank, then you should get on that Internet and explain to everyone that it’s a joke.” He had found out about his son’s escapade through being ribbed by his next-door neighbour, which he had not liked.

“I could,” his son replied uncertainly, “but…”

“But what, honey?’ his mother asked her son. Mr. Campbell didn’t mind, as he was sure his wife was on his side.

“It was a prank that was done on me. What I mean is, it was staged but I didn’t have a hand in it.”

His father looked at him, and didn’t look at Kaliyah as she seconded his son’s claim. He discounted her words, as she would say almost anything that would back him up. He couldn’t prove it, but he was sure they were doing the deed. Since they had gone that far, she would be almost automatically loyal to him.

She added that she knew it was a set-up because hardened criminals don’t act that way. “Many of the commentators saw through it.”

That got through, but not in a way that altered Mr. Campbell’s course. “That may be – it may be – but it doesn’t change the fact that you left yourself open to it. Isn’t it time you gave up that dissolute lifestyle of yours?” He leaned back in his chair, eyes still on his son. “Get serious?”

Edward’s eyes fixed on his father’s moustache and he didn’t answer. Instead of shuffling on the couch, he stayed still. He liked his life, and it wasn’t as if he was shady. Sure, stock trading was irregular, but it was legal.

Kailayh jumped in, disclosing that she had been cajoling him to take his MBA. Looking at his wife, Mr. Campbell saw her nod in confirmation.

Those words, he paid attention to. “It does seem like the perfect time,” he said to Edward’s mother. No longer in the field of attention, their son studied the carpet.

“Let’s discuss it over dinner,” she invited.

The dinner had gone well, and Edward managed to temporize by promising to look into the MBA. He got away with it because he did plan to. No longer dead-set against the degree, he had become ambivalent. Sure, it would mean being bored for two years stuffing his head with stuff he likely wouldn’t need. But, it wasn’t a jail sentence or a one-way street. If he wanted to, he could go back to the old life once it was over. He had to admit that the heat had made him uncharacteristically uncomfortable. It was bad heat, not good.

So, he left for his own place on friendly terms. The brunch was still on, and he was tired. Strangely, he wasn’t accosted in his own building as he went to his apartment. Either word hadn’t spread yet or the neighbours had discounted it. Whatever the reason, he was glad. He put in an early night, wondering why he was taking a second sceptical look at his hip-hop tunes.

Waking up early, he had a couple of hours before picking up Kaliyah for the brunch. After getting dressed in similar gear – smart casual – he sat down on his computer and booted up only the main unit. Calling up the video, he saw it now had more than 500,000 views and well over 7,000 comments. Having dressed himself up, he settled in to read the most recent ones. The likes and dislikes were two-thirds and one-third respectively. He took comfort in the dislikes, as he was sure that they were prompted by people thinking it was fake.

Reading the comments showed he was largely right, which further reassured him. His father had convinced him that being known as a real banger was far more hassle than blessing. The bulk of the people cheering him on seemed to be teenagers, and there was nothing he could do with the buzz. He couldn’t rhyme, let alone rap, and he would be compelled to up the ante once it became clear he was just punk’d.

He spent the rest of his before-brunch free time at the computer, except for a couple of minutes to watch the video itself. Oddly, he felt as if he were watching a different person.

Seeing by the clock that it was time to go, he again bumped the right side of the chair against the credenza as he booted down and got up.

The Water Works used to be a water-management building before it had been converted into an eating and drinking establishment thirty years ago. That building not being part of the water system itself, the city decided to get rid of it and move the personnel into new digs. The redeploy being effected before the era of privatization and downsizing, the crew got better office and truck-bay space. The new owners got a substantial renovations bill.

At the time, the neighbourhood was blue collar back in the day when blue collar meant unambitious but secure. Playing into that trend, the original owners converted the old water building into a bar. In came the pool tables, the bar stools, the hard but comfortable wooden chairs, the tables with the waterproof tops, and the easy-to-wash floors.

Having found new life in the community, its owners were left with dead space in the morning and early afternoon. The question of how to use it became urgent shortly after the 1981 recession hit. By the time 1983 had brought some needed relief, especially in the prime-rate department, The Water Works had new ownership. So did some of the homes in the surrounding neighbourhood.

Enter the weekend buffet. At first, it was a way to get people spending in a time period that used to be money-draining dead time. But, as the neighbourhood gentrified throughout the 1980s, the buffet became more and more a mainstay. Going with the flow, the Water Works converted fully to a restaurant by 1993. Soon, it was a mid-priced bistro and the remnants of the old bar were a mostly forgettable memory. But, the all-you-can-eat buffet stayed because it was still a mainstay.

Consistent with the restaurant it now was, a hostess checked everyone in against the reservation list. Even for the buffet.

Roger had arrived, as was customary, by bus. He beat Edward and Kaliyah by five minutes, which he spent waiting outside the front door looking at the rock garden that decorated the building. A couple of smokers were outside; several couples went in even though the buffet wasn’t quite open yet. There would be a fair line-up by the time his friends got there.

Unbeknownst to all of them, a last-minute reservation had been made for the owner and occupant of a stretch limo gliding over to the Water Works. Inside it was one Matvei Iskander.

The threesome had been the tenth group to be ushered to their seats, at a table about fifteen feet away from the buffet area. The table was for a foursome, and Roger pragmatically carried the fourth chair away to the wall near where they were. He acted as if he needed the space.

The buffet area itself was about twenty-five feet long by fifteen wide. On the far wall, cooks stood behind the long serving table which featured scrambled eggs, bacon with a hint of maple sauce, sausages, a large ham, mashed potatoes, flapjacks, and other standard brunch items. The food, freshly cooked, was held in heated steel containers except for the ham. The first five feet of the table was occupied by large clean plates and utensils.

The three tables featured more lunchy items. The one to the right had rolls, croissants and some pastries. On the centre table were pasta salads, cold turkey, chicken legs, salmon slices, and honest-to-gosh (if midget) lobsters. In addition to the shrimp salad, there were some fresh shrimp. In addition to the pasta salads, there was a large bowl with real salad.

The third table was where a cheery Roger went to first; it was the dessert table. Two large cakes, chocolate and cheesecake, greeted him. There were pastries neatly arranged beside blueberry, cherry and chocolate-chip muffins that were a decent if sub-donut-store size. Also on the third table, leftmost and farthest way from the trio’s table to the right of the food, were catering-quality pastries.

Hungrily, Roger put down his plate beside the chocolate cake and cut himself a huge slice that made for an eighth of the cake. A raspberry flakie was added from the pastry display, and he walked over to the right table and unapologetically got two croissants. Looking at Edward and Kaliyah, who was smiling at his plate with a knowing smile, he said: “I’m starting off right.”

It broke the discomfort Edward felt once he realized that a few young people were staring at him. Thankfully, none of the older folks did. His breakfast was some flapjacks, bacon and fried eggs, washed over with pancake sauce. Kaliyah was prepared to eat heartily but sensibly: she had several slices of bacon with a few sausages and a nice heap of mashed potato with butter on top. She knew that Edward would only eat once, but she would have two plates. Already planning, she had her eye on the seafood as a dessert. Once she sat her food down, she would get a second plate and snag two of the lobsters along with some shrimp, a salmon slice and some pasta salad. The lobsters put out were all that would be offered during the day; they were usually gone by the time the brunch was half-over. She had to be quick, and she would be.

But not as quick as Roger. Seeing a waiter look curiously at his cake, he ignored the fellow and dug in. Their table wasn’t near the light wood-panelled walls, but it was near a structural pillar. Roger had liked it when they were first seated there, as it afforded some privacy, but he had had to convince Edward and Kaliyah that they hadn`t been snubbed. Soon, they were asking for the table near the pillar and usually getting it. His tight-fitting but comfortable chair pointed to the pillar, he only needing a view of his friends and his food. Roger dug in to the cake. It was only a short while before Edward and Kaliyah joined him. He sat down; she went to get her seafood. Since it was cold, she didn’t have to worry about it sitting on the table. She would have ample time to finish her hot breakfast.

Shovelling down the cake while taking break bites into the croissants, Roger was soon ready for his second helping. The taster of fine, dark chocolate lingered in his mouth but he didn’t pay much attention to the savour; he had been too busy sending the sweet sugar-stimulative cake to his gullet. The food was good enough so that they didn’t talk; Edward was again tickled at his fat friend’s hearty appetite. He himself decided to go back for a light dessert, mostly non-sweet, to make his plate count two along with Kaliyah. A few rolls and croissants, with a muffin, was enough for him.

The homey relaxation got Edward’s mind off his newfound notoriety. It also left him vulnerable to surprise when the mysterious guest came in and went to his table.

He quickly noticed the stocky, but tall, middle aged man standing in front of their table. Clean-shaven, the man’s eyes looked dull and somewhat hangovered. Putting down his fork, the flapjacks mostly gone, Edward waited and was surprised to see the man smile with a joviality that was definitely off-kilter. Matvei Iskander had arrived, in public, to play his last card on the fellow who had escaped from his trap.

“Edward!” His voice boomed so much that about ten people looked over his way. “My friend, good friend! How nice I see you!”

Surprised, then wary, Edward’s face went blank.

“Of course, you know me! I am one who played punk on you!”

Lip curling a little, Edward did not reciprocate. That stunt had brought him nothing but trouble. Still, he was curious about the man in an obviously expensive blue suit and tie. Was he an agent? A music executive?

If so, then it was best to disabuse him. “Sir, whoever you are,” Edward replied with stressed politeness, “I can’t rap. I have no talent for it.”

The stranger wasn’t deterred. “Why you think I am rap mogul?” Iskander could be if he wanted to, but didn’t. “I am principal, of LIS Investment.”

That got both Edward and Roger looking right at him. Kaliyah, not knowing what LIS implied, kept looking casually.

“I heard you are very brave stock trader that knows angles. A man like that, I can use.”

Iskander was as close as he could come to the truth. He had played his last card: take in the man who fended him off and make him part of the organization. A confident man like Edward in the face of the mafiya “hit” would not be suspected by the police. With his shrewdness, he would keep himself out of trouble. Within a year, he’d be muling insider information with a nice but reasonable cut for himself in the form of a purchase. After LIS got in.

The Russian pulled out a pair of sunglasses and smiled as he put them on. “You see? I am shade and you are ‘made.’ Shade in made.”

“Don’t mean to bother you,” Roger said diffidently with an anxious chocolate-smeared smile, “but I think you mean ‘shade in the made.’ Or,” he said, his smile now diffident too, “maybe I heard wrong and you meant ‘shade and the made.’”

Iskander’s smile dropped and his glasses trained on Roger, who apologized. Seeing the deference he was used to expecting, except when turning on the flattery, he turned back to the young black man.

Knowing what kind of dude he was dealing with – now sure that what he thought had been punkin’ was in fact a set-up – Edward was too cautious to say “I won’t.” No, not with a mafia like that. It wasn’t just the fact that they were in a public restaurant, being watched, that made him hide his confront. It wasn’t just the fact that the ostensibly jovial man gave him no plausible reason to confront. It was the fact that this guy was the real deal – a real gangsta, a mafiya, who likely had at least one kill to his ‘credit.’ Now strengthened by his father’s words, he was adamant that he would in no way be associated with this gangsta.

But he didn’t want to put it the wrong way. Not knowing of those limits to a don’s power, his eyes blinked as he imagined a bomb going off underneath his Mercedes. He did not want to rub this mafiya raw.

What he was about to say, despite the polite and non-confrontational way he was about to say it, were truly the bravest words of his life. “I am sorry, but I can’t.”

Seeing a frown, and glad that he could not see behind the sunglasses, Edward heard the stocky man reply, “Why this ‘can’t?’” He was not fooled by the coaxing tone.

“Sir,” he said as if her were back in his old part-time job selling shirts when in university, “I can’t because I’m going back to school.” Her eyes looking delightedly at him, Kaliyah turned to the man and seconded it brightly.

“Yes, he is. We both are.”

Seeing a join-in as the safest way out, Roger made it a threesome.

Now perplexed, Iskander asked “why you not tell anyone?” Since he was in public too, facing off against a man that would not be rubbed out, he had to restrain himself as well. Hidden by sunglasses, thankfully for him too, his eyes show the strain it was putting him through to be considerate.

“He had to consult with his father about it,” Kaliyah supplied. Her motive in shading the truth was different: she wanted to present him as a loving son of supportive parents. With respect to him getting his finance MBA, they certainly were: no need to spread dirt around the clean restaurant. “Now that he has everyone’s approval, he’s made a definite plan.”

Somewhat irreverently, Edward offered to help any young people Iskander knew who were interested in an MBA. “But as far as me joining your organization, I’m retired.” This too was a shading of the truth, as he had yet to enter that short sale with Forward Avenue, but he could retire once the short worked out. “I have to study for the GMAT and prep myself up for going back, and that’ll take all of my time.”

Iskander was not used to being boxed in, and it showed in his face. He was still standing over their table, making their food stay uneaten. Even Roger had temporarily lost his appetite.

“That good news, my friend. I know of no-one, but you made kind offer. Please,” he said falsely, “I will check on you to see how you doing.” That last part was iron-clad true. As was: “You may enjoy seeing prankster looking to see how you doing.”

Edward’s eyes hooded briefly, as he picked up on the disguised threat, but they de-hooded when he realized he had won free. Although still sceptical of the MBA program, he had committed publicly. He would have to cajole himself into liking it.

And yes, he would make very sure that what he said was the absolute truth.

Iskander hadn’t shown his defeat when he went back to his table. The threesome, having finished up, went their respective ways; Roger again took the bus. It wasn’t quite a date, he reasoned, but why crowd?

The couple had gone back to Edward’s place, his neatly-made bed showing the dark purple sheets poking out above a folded-back corner of the black duvet. They sat at his desk, her chair poked to the left side because his wide credenza made the large desk a one-man workstation, and they began looking for MBA schools to apply to. Kaliayh let him, but she had already found a mid-tier school that had a respectable finance department and a top-notch retail management department. It was good enough for both: he was, after all, no banksta. Nor a gangsta now, as recent events had made him grow up in a hurry.

While they were doing so, Dave Jeffries picked up an E-mail from his boss Glen Romas, openly expressing a concern that he himself shared but kept private out of discretion. His boss was asking him to re-assay the twenty-seven-and-a-half-metre length of core that had graded 7.5 grams per ton. Knowing that the core had only been split once, into halves, he knew he could do it by splitting the half that Flow had kept in the core yard into quarters. Although not normally done, quartering was permissible for a second sample. The remaining quarter would be harder to restudy, and would be impossible to split further, but it could be done if needed. Now, it was.

Seeing that it was a little past noon, and knowing that it would take about six hours to drive up to the Aureous Prospect camp where the core was stored and split, he went inside to his wife and told her he had to take a long drive up to it. Sure, he would be logy-eyed tomorrow morning, but he’d be at his desk where he belonged. Wife informed, he got into his minivan and prepared for the long trip. Their two children had already flown the nest.

He had more than an hour before sundown when he surprised the project geologist who didn’t expect to see the Vice President of Exploration show up at the camp unannounced. There was also a geology-major intern; both were done for the day and relaxing in camp. Telling the anxious intern to stay, Jeffries asked the project geologist where the core was and went over himself. Stacked cross-hatch, in two piles with the larger being five feet high, it took him more than fifteen minutes to get to the lengths he was looking for. Since he himself had core split more than thirty years ago, he found the work soothing.

The core boxes were lengths of 2-by-6 board, a little more than five feet long, with three half-holes drilled out except for edges hammered onto each side. The half-holes held the lengths of drilled core, wrested from the underground by a diamond-drill rock-drilling rig. With the edging, each length ran 1.5 metres or five feet exactly; so, each box held 4.5 metres of core. They could be sealed, and were when brought from the rig, by a second board of the same type that was placed upside-down on the top of the first. Baling wire held them tight. These ones having been examined, their lids were off.

Seven boxes contained the core lengths he was after. Laying them down on the opposite side of the new pile he had created for the ones deeper than the length he was looking for, he arranged them in the same order than the one he had taken them off. That way, they could be put right back.

Whistling, he took one box at a time to the core tent and saw to the splitting. The splitter was the good old model, a wedge with a round wheel on top that was bolted to the fixed table in the office-sized tent. The entire unit was stainless steel with a half-coat of blue paint remaining. The wheel, when turned clockwise, pressed the movable top wedge downwards with enough force thanks to leverage to split the core. Since he only had to split half-cores, he had to turn it several times to get the wedge down to the height where he needed it.

But, he wasn’t ready to start until he had prepared a box and the bags. Looking at the drill-log records left in the shack, he saw how they had been originally bagged. Reaching for plastic sample bags, about half the area of a shopping bag but made with much stronger plastic, he found a marker and wrote the lengths on each bag. He then went to a stacked row of cardboard boxes, each making a box one foot cubed, and assembled one with the help of some packing tape.

Then, he brought the marked bags – arranged in descending order to square with the box order – and began splitting. When he reached one end of the core box, he put it back on the pile and got another from the core table to which he had brought them. Soon, all seven had been gone through and he had his box of samples. By that time, it was nearing sundown.

Going back to the core pile, he scratched his grey beard and decided that restacking them was not necessary for the core audit. They had been placed back, one by one. So, he put the box in his minivan – itself marked before he sealed it up – and drove back to the camp. When there, he instructed the intern to put the core boxes back in the proper order. He then headed home.

By the time he got home, he only had enough time for four hours’ sleep. Jeffries was careful enough to take the box in with him, and lock his doors.

The next morning, after arriving at his desk in time, he ferried them over to an assay lab in town - a different lab from the one the project geologist had used. Now, all the bases were covered. It would take close to a week for the sample results to come back, but the audit would then be complete.

Now waiting on a few GMAT study guides he had ordered, Edward got a call from his new broker Gus Malik. It being Tuesday, Gus wanted to know if the money was ready.

Rotating right and accessing his brokerage account on his alternate computer, whose mouse and keyboard were on the credenza, Edward looked left at the monitor on the far side of his desk and found that the money was transferred to his chequing account. It not being market close yet, his discount broker was indeed accommodating.

Asking for and getting details on how to transfer the $60,000 to his Forward account, Edward saw and Gus confirmed that the money was there. There were two hours before market closed. Flow had backtracked a little to 40.5 cents bid - 41 cents asked.

“At these prices, I can only short you 200,000 shares,: Gus informed him. “As I promised earlier –“ a promise that had been recorded earlier – “I’ll do 200,000 shares at $1,600 commission.” He made it sound like Edward was getting a break.

Looking at his live streaming chart called up on his main computer, Edward saw that Flow had ranged in the day from 39.5 to 42, with the latter predominating in the morning. 40.5 wasn’t bad, and he now lacked the drive to fight for an extra point. Best that it would be done. Besides, the way that Gus had explained the deal seemed to discourage limit orders.

“Okay,” Edward said easily. “I’ll short 200,000 at 40.5.”

“Right,” Gus answered as he entered in the order. Since only 45,000 were bid, the order was partially unfilled when it hit the exchange. He began probing Edward in the guise of letting the fellow talk about his new trade, which took a couple of minutes. The man sounded confident now, that was for sure. By the time Edward stopped talking, fortuitously, the rest of the short sale had gone through. Flow then blipped up to 41 cents.

Whipping out his calculator, Gus subtracted 3600 dollars – two commissions for the round trip – from the original $60,000 deposit and added the proceeds of the short sale of 200,000 shares at 40.5 cents. Getting $137,400, he multiplied by 2/3 and got $91,600. Should Edward have to buy back the shares for that amount, he would have only half - $45,800 – margin left. That was the 50% threshold at which he had to be sold out. Dividing the $91,600 by 200,000, he got 45.8 cents. Deciding to cut a little slack, he said: “Now, Edward, as you agreed, we have to put in the limit order. 200,000 shares to buy on stop at 46 cents.

“And remember, this order goes live even if the low bid is 46 or higher pre-market. ASAP.”

Edward nodded, remembering. “Okay. Buy stop, 200,000, 46 cents.” The chance of Flow going to 45 were pretty remote, so he was cool with it.

Having entered the order, Gus thanked him in polite-white again and disconnected. Quickly reconnecting, sure that Edward knew something, he called one of his better short-selling clients and recommended Flow to short. Since the Venture Exchange had no uptick rule, the short could be done expeditiously.

By the time market closed, Gus had secured five additional short orders and had helped bend Flow down to 39.5 cents at the close. It was down one and a half cents on the day.

Now, all they had to do was wait.

It was Friday that Edward found out that his grades were acceptable for the Cortie School of Business, Masters of Business Administration program. His GMAT score would be a scrape, but his online practice test was slightly above the cut-off. Cortie was the same school Kaliyah had her eye on, being first-tier in retail management.

Roger had decided to go there too. Somewhat surprisingly, his undergrad grades had been quite good. He had ended up at the electronics shop largely because, as a loner, he hadn’t networked or spent much time grooming his image. He could get in easily.

Thinking of the future, he had also sent Kaliyah a page of grocery businesses for sale. They were not like the Price Slicer, being about 6000 square feet with higher prices. They cost between $300,000 and $500,000, but he was sure that Dolario and a few other stocks he would have - and Edward would have - would be enough for them to buy a store and run it right out of MBA school. The gold bull market was that hot, and the stocks he had in his sights were that good. And if they didn’t raise the money? What was wrong with getting a job? He might even go back to hawking entertainment centres and TVs again.

Kaliyah loved the idea, and was already planning to coax Edward into it. They could all get student loans, the two men’s capital being better deployed in what had made them a lot of money already.

Not knowing what his friend and soon-to-be fiancée were up to, Edward was idly watching Flow as he picked through one of the GMAT workbooks. Not checking very often, he missed the halt on the company until eight minutes after it had been put in place. His alternate trading program again showed “HALTED” instead of the bid-ask.

Now alert, he put aside the book and shot to Flow’s page. There in the news section of the page, he saw the halt announcement. Rapidly refreshing the page, he had to wait fifteen more minutes before he saw what he was looking for: “Flow Restates Drillng Result.”

Clicking it, he saw that the hole was in fact comparable with its peers on the property. Instead of 7.5 grams per tone, it was 2.3. That changed everything; the hope of a minable deposit on the Aureous Prospect had all-but vanished unless they got a really lucky hole later. A legitimate hole.

Now excited, he kept clicking until he saw the resume announcement. Ten minutes later, he was rewarded – sort of – with it. Trading would resume at 12:30 in his time zone, which meant a half an hour wait. Too excited to eat a frozen-dinner lunch, he waited by the screen even though he didn’t need to.

Came 12:30, he got his reward. Flow had cracked. Having sunk to 35 in the three days after placing his short, the thing opened at some lucky seller’s 27 and zipped down to 22. Again pulling out his trades list, he saw the carnage in great detail. This time, no huge block of shares was dropped – but a lot of medium-sixed ones were. By 1:30, it was below 20.

The landline phone rang at the same time his smart phone vibrated. Picking up the business line, he got Gus. “Mr. Campbell!” Gus nearly roared. “We did it!” He had good reason to be ecstatic, having accumulated eight now-grateful clients last Tuesday, and Wednesday and Thursday in the short.

Edward couldn’t believe it. With Flow at 19 cents, he could cover for $39,600 including commission. With $139,400 in his cash balance, selling out now would place him only two hundred measly bucks away from the magic six figures. There was no way the IIROC would diddle him out of this score!

Why not go for it, he said to himself happily but quietly. “Gus, I want to cover at 18. Limit buy, 200,000 shares.”

“Okay, partner!” Gus replied happily. He had good reason to be: his total commissions of the shorts and covers would be more than twenty-five thousand dollars for a few day’s work. His own 40% share would be well above ten thousand. That meant his month’s draw would be about double his usual.

And, to boot, he had at least eight clients out of his hundreds who would be very happy to speak with him next time. More, if word spread as it often did.

Edward got his 18 cents by 3:00. That meant, once the trade settled next Tuesday, he would have one hundred and one thousand, four hundred dollars in free cash. That was more than enough for tuition, books room and board for the two-year MBA program at Cortie. Once accepted, he could pay cash on the barrelhead for the entire program including rent and still have more than enough for food and entertainment.

Of course, he wasn’t planning to. His talent and Roger’s advice meant that it made more sense for him to borrow and keep investing, this time on the long side like Roger. Now that he had secured the biggest profit of his life so far, he could admit to himself that most of his scores had been four figures and they had been pretty spotty. Plus they had been whittled down by some losses he had made. Still, going from less than $30,000 to $100,000 had been fantastic.

The fact that Roger has started with less and was worth more, even after his big score, now occurred to him. He would have to go long anyway, buy and hold, because he would have to buckle down with his pre-studies and later his studies. Roger would be a good man to take advice from, and they’d be taking the same classes. He would know where to find the F.A.T. if things were to go wrong.

The core audit complete, Dave Jeffries managed to track down the culprit: it had been the intern, who was duly fired. Jeffries knew that the kid would have had to have been thoroughly coached to rub the gold chain he used on the samples properly, but the vice-president had no reason to suspect the project geologist. So, he lost interest in the matter. The company was cleansed; that’s what mattered.

Although the repricing of his insider sale was still hanging over his head, for which the regulatory agency might take him to task for, Glen Romas was happy as anything in the next office. The lie had been reversed, and he had already prepared an excuse letter for the regulators regarding the re-assay. Tapping a friend, he could come up with an excuse for the repricing: he had been yelled at to do it. Moreover, his bosses at LIS had unloaded some shares north of 35 and would be eager investors in the next private placement, provisionally priced at 15 cents. Most likely, they would be the only investors. The large funds to be gathered would be well spent on a Yukon property Dave was doing the due diligence on. It would be expensive to buy, but it had the makings of a winner; it was right next to a property that already showed mineable values, and the geology indicated that the same trend went along Flow’s soon-to-be section. Thank goodness the current owners had a hot prospect in Mali and needed some quick cash to buy the property they were eyeing. Their own stock has fallen through the floor and a private placement was impracticable for them without excessive dilution. Their straits were to be Flow’s gain, he was sure of it.

Mr. Levkov, Mr. Iskander, and Mr. Shalberove were happy too. Iskander’s spying had revealed that the Edward was indeed telling the truth; the inside news that Flow was going to do a cheap private placement was music to their ears. So was Romas’ conspiratorial pre-disclosure of his plans to buy the Yukon property. Having pulled himself out of his scrape, he didn’t mind insider tipping one more time for celebration. From now on, he was sure, he would play it straight.

Iskander didn’t mind losing Edward now. With what he knew, he would have no need for the boy to accomplish what he had planned for Edward’s second stage: money laundering. Flow, given its upcoming purchase, would suffice. The triumvirate had lots of shady cash to launder.

Roger didn’t get though with his news until he had heard and congratulated Edward on the short. Surprising to him, he now had a girlfriend. Their happy joining was thanks to him being the good friend of the now-ex-bangin’ Edward. Laura was plump herself. Better yet, she was a cheapskate who didn’t mind him living in his hovel sweet hovel. Luckily for him, she was no gold digger.

They could go somewhere…

Roger had actually gone in with Edward on the short for 400,000 shares through Gus at 38 cents. He had had to wait the three days too, having temporarily dumped both Flow and everything else, which had put him in the short on Thursday. More prudent that Edward, he had bought back in at 19 cents. He now had more than $180,000.

His mind off Roger, Edward idly found himself typing in “engagement ring” in the search box of his home page. Starting at himself, he told himself that it was only an idea.

Because he needed to pick up Kaliyah in the evening, it was too late for a bottle of Möen. Having been through a real scrape, he now vowed to play it safer. Besides, he had a relationship to nurture and protect.

But it`s only an idea! he kept telling himself…

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