Sun on the Rocks – The Cocoanomics Gazette
© Copyright 2017 by Somers Isle & Loveshade.
Published by Somers Isle & Loveshade at Shakespir.
U.S. Copyright Registration Number: Tx-8-138-916.
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‘Sun on the Rocks’ blogsite:
Cover by Tatiana Vila.
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Sun on the Rocks is a validating and comforting balm made of a benign word cloud. It is a breezy, easy to peel humor read for adults, specializing in the trivial pursuit. Each pleasant fictional amusement comes with a nonchalant overtone of humor, and follows the adventures of several non competitive good looking women over twenty one years of age, as they leave Malibu and become a group of hostesses, ‘Sun on the Rocks’, on the cruise ship City of Wellington, a post-Panamax which makes short trips between Los Angeles and Acapulco in Mexico. The motley crew of women works as a group of entertaining amateurs and as friendly gophers on the ship, and is led to various places in the Caribbean and elsewhere by the incombustible twenty five year old Stevenson Garden Products Malibu teleoperator Clarity Nice, a woman of resourceful intuition, and acute observer of the laws of human mischief.
You can read the backstories below to follow the amusement and become familiar with some of the characters. The summary below is probably enough to follow the amusement, without having to read other ones. All characters of the amusement portrayed are fictional characters over twenty one years of age.
Previously in The Shabby Sheik: Watched by a ceiling camera inside a Macau casino, teleoperator Clarity Nice joins the woman watching her, videographer Plum Bailey, in a live dealer gambling room broadcasting over the internet. Plum leads Clarity with her on board Heir Force One, the plane of Sheik Haroun Al-Najib, known colloquially as Hari, after offering to him the luxurious ring made by the firm Mauboussin, brought by Clarity to Macau, which points to an ancient sorority identified by a symbol known as the ‘incomplete triangle’. Rejected by his family, known as the dumbest human loss-making machine of the Emirates, Hari likes to wear shabby clothes, which include a sweater with growths patched with puffs of woolfiller, ripped jeans, worn out brown leather shoes with one of the soles open, and housing several white pebbles.
Witnessing the eccentric plastic and gold throne of the Sheik inside his luxurious Boeing 757, Clarity and Plum become additional members of Hari’s entourage, which include his retainer Hakeem Mogadham, his Dutch butler Melchior, his personal coach Merhab Iskendar, a great fan of the Tony Robbins firewalk, his girlfriend Nora, who works for the gossip magazine Vanity Gloss, and his ‘live-in’ girlfriend Lohvia, a Slovenian beauty who enjoys ‘pearl’ panties and her time naked with the Sheik inside the plane’s solarium.
A golden bachelor with a solid reputation of lacking qualification and being indecisive whatever he does, Hari has not decided to marry, and is confused by all the women around him, who want to be near him in order to enjoy the affluent lifestyle of ‘HDH’, His Dumb Highness, as everyone else but himself thinks of him. Hari does not care about failure, and sees it as something inherent in business and in general.
Seen as a nuisance by his family for their business, because of his loss making business blunders and repeated incompetence, his list of achievements including only failures and money losing ventures or trades, Hari heads for the Caribbean to sort out his love life and make his first dollar on his own. His plane lands in the British Virgin Islands and he gets a job as waiter in a terrace of Tortola, in order to start from the bottom and begin to make his own money. After an unfortunate tip to a tourist on a penny stock which fails, Hari is fired from his job, and becomes jobless again.
Sheik Hari is a sociable guy, who trusts himself when someone else tells him he is rich. He is rich, but someone else always ends up managing his money, either his family or his retainer Hakeem, a man who resents all the fortune around him, and seeks a chunk of all the money thrown away by Hari’s disastrous forays into business, trade, or investing. Hakeem has all the power of attorney documents needed to allocate the fortune of the Sheik, and gets him another job at a BVI offshore branch of a capital markets firm, Kuwait Trade House Capital, known as Kuwait Capital.
After an email sent by error by Hari results in the landing of a consortium of journalists investigating the Sheik and the holdings of his company, Clarity helps Hari sort out some of the problems arising out of the unwanted notoriety. The mess created by Hari includes a scandal called Scrub Leaks, involving the Sheik’s family assets and other powerful members of the elite, and a money laundering charge by the BVI financial services commission, which leads Hari’s girlfriend to leave him. As a result of the mess, Hari, and Clarity, are arrested and are led to jail in Tortola.
Stuck with Hari in jail, awaiting a trial which the authorities want as example of their compliance with laundering legislation, Clarity will have to find an ingenious way to leave jail and the island, to elude the charges against them by bringing to the police commissioner those who tampered with the Sheik’s account in Tortola. Lacking any local allies, the only way for Clarity out of Hari’s mess, is to strike a deal exchanging favors with Plum, who is seeking a valuable list of connections owned by the Sheik, in order to reach the sorority headed by an older woman, Lady Mulham, which brings to their members an explanation of ‘completion’, in particular the completion of its symbol, the incomplete triangle.
The Cocoanomics Gazette: Coming out of her recent rumpus with Sheik Hari Al-Najib in the British Virgin Islands, teleoperator Clarity Nice flies out of BVI to Florida, in order to stay in Miami, and to avoid taking another plane back to Macau. Awaiting for her there in Asia, are those who purchased the ring by Mauboussin that Clarity received in Singapore, a ring kept by videographer Plum Bailey in BVI, which shows a symbol in one of the baguettes, known as the ‘incomplete triangle’.
While in transit in Florida, she is arrested by Customs and Border Immigration at Miami International Airport, after showing up in a list of people to watch. According to the file, Clarity is involved with the theft of federal bonds, previously held by the shady Cayman Islands banking agent Buddha Talk. To avoid going to a local detention center, Clarity is hired by Lloyd, a representative of the shady banking agent, who tells her that his boss wants a beachhead in South Florida, in the fast food beef and burger market. The market for burgers in the region, is dominated by rivals Moe Alamy, and by her protege, Gavino di Laure, the owners of the Mclannan’s burger franchise, and of its mascot, Ollie the clown.
Clarity reaches the lavish home of Buddha Talk in the Florida Keys, Swankeye, to help him out with ‘business’. The banking agent, whose real name is Joe Mannen, has been having some problems with Cayman authorities. Inspectors Taylor and Marville are inquiring in his home in Florida, about the renewal license of Mannen’s main business in the Cayman Islands, Lofty Bank. Mannen’s reputation as a mobster has been dented with local Cappi of South Florida, by the disappearance of one million dollars in stolen bonds, formerly held in his home in Cayman, now under Federal custody, after a whistle blower in a strip club called Milton’s, told di Laure about the stolen bonds held by Mannen’s pilot.
In a meeting involving the various mobsters who rule the meat packing, distribution, and retail segments in South Florida, Mannen is left without a share of the meat business, and with the swamped Everglades territory of Monroe as the only turf to establish any burger related business. The only real business di Laure allows for Mannen is a small pawnshop in Miami, called the Gladeview pawnshop.
Mannen knows that di Laure wants him out of South Florida, without any business at all. To restablish credibility with Cappi, using a manual called Cocoanomics found in a liquidation notice listed in the Cayman Islands Gazette, Mannen sends off Clarity to learn of di Laure’s plans. She becomes a regular employee of Mclannan’s, attending the rigorous training program of Ollie Burger University at the Mclannan’s training center in Boynton, Florida. Dodging the henchman of Di Laure, Ambrosio, she will have to find a way to alter the Ollie burger of the franchise, to elicit a sale by Di Laure to Mannen of some of the locations of the profitable burger restaurants.
This amusement follows some of the characters from a previous amusement, the Cayman Air Banner.
Buddha Talk: Corpulent, chubby, shady genius of money flows which begin and end with the same pocket, his own, scholar of sexual ecstasy, occasional Buddhist and worshipper for good Karma of a shrine honoring a lobster which pinched his ear before ending in the lobster cooking pot. Buddha Talk, whose real name is Joe Mannen, is banking agent and the heir apparent of Lofty Bank, a Cayman Islands banking institution with no particular regard for its clients and a lock on ownership held by a Great Dane, Lord Moorehead III, British by upbringing and inheritance granted by Lord Moorehead II, a man, old, very old, and dead now, at age ninety seven, previous British Lord, ex-owner of Lofty Bank, a man who gave all of its wealth, nobility title and bank ownership rights to his dog.
Lord Moorehead III acts as front ‘man’ for Mannen, and it is also the official recipient of all bank notices by the Cayman Islands monetary authority, a convenient fact for the chubby banking agent, and one bark that doesn´t cease to surprise the monetary authority who casts a recurring shadow of doubt upon the legalities of having a dog act as front ‘man’ and be the official owner of a Bank doing business in the British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands, located in the Western Caribbean Sea, a pleasant area to live when the money and work issues are solved. Buddha Talk likes to drive or be driven in Jaguar 73, a gadget-filled car offered as gift to Buddha Talk by Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in exchange for having sold some gold and palladium for the Cuban regime, through Banco Inter Central del Caribe y Cuba, or BICCC, before the Cuban dictator passed away as a nonagenarian.
Clarity and Flower find themselves owing nearly one hundred thousand dollars to the Lofty Bank outfit for no reason, after gaining entry as investors to the bank with the help of Clark, the owner of a diamond shop in Grand Cayman. They can repay the debt by working for the bank for fifty years, as part of the bank´s flagship product, the Crashworthy Deposit, part bank deposit paying twenty percent, part investment, part insurance policy, and part working arrangement.
Lofty has ties with the underworld, and the monetary authority of the Cayman Islands stubbornly refuses to grant it a renewal of its license, something that doesn´t stop the bank from operating in the most illegal manner, advertising its products to potential investors with an air banner carried by a Gippland 200 crop duster flying low above sunny Caribbean beaches such as those of Cayman, British Virgin Islands, Bahamas and Acapulco. This is entirely documented in The Cayman Air Banner.
The credibility of Mannen as a member of the South Florida Syndicate of Organized Crime has been undermined since the theft of federal bonds which were kept in his home at Nelson Quay in Cayman, as documented in The Cayman Air Banner. To regain a proper position among local Cappi, Mannen decides to get a share of the meat packing and retail beef market ‘business’ in South Florida, by negotiating a new arrangement with the other mobsters. The chubby guy from Cayman wants to publish his own local journal for his colleagues in the region, The Cocoanomics Gazette, to express his view on how the mob business of Florida should be run. The publication, is based on the ideas for doing business that Mannen finds in an obscure manual read by inmates in prison, called Cocoanomics, a manual for inmates everywhere. The other local mobsters, in particular the shriveled Moe Alamy and her protege, the elegant white-haired Gavino Di Laure, want Mannen out of Florida, and attempt to throw him off by bringing in to his lavish home in the Florida Keys, Swankeye, two dumb inspectors from the Monetary Authority of the Cayman Islands, Taylor and Marville.
Boustrophedon: Large, ancient grey stone inscription filled with Greek letter symbols. In a boustrophedon, direction of the text is inverted, you have to read the inscriptions on the stone from left to right and from right to left alternatively with each line of bi-directional text. Penelope Avalon and Cassandra Scafarel believe that the Boustrophedon holds important information on ancient methods of pleasure, including comments and thoughts on the gate of pleasure, Voluptas de Naturas. The current location of the Boustrophedon that Clarity and her friend Lanai saw at Scafarel’s Hexas Style Resort in the Bahamas, is unknown to Clarity, known to:
Cassandra Scafarel: A former significant other of Buddha Talk, shrewd British expatriate, a businesswoman in her forties without a moral code or compass, executive head of beauty lotion outfit ‘Elony’, sold through illegal flight infomercials with the assistance of Lofty Bank. The infomercial is an excuse to sell to customers, mostly affluent women, Elony’s personal growth services, which include how to bring heaven a little closer to home, after doing away with money, in particular fifty thousand dollars that must be paid for a bottle of Elony, in order to receive a resort-pass to reach the Leisure and Pleasure Resort of Scafarel, the Hexas Style Resort in the Bahamas island of Eleuthera.
Hexas Style was partly dismantled in The Bahamas Lotion, by Al Donway and the Sensual Brigade of Central Intelligence, or Sensual Intelligence, a group of attractive women ensuring Law and Order are respected, along with their bodies. The Brigade’s most representative member is agent Money Fact, the woman who introduced Clarity to the nine hour oil-optional massage, proof that work is not a necessary part of life. Money Fact excels at action, mentoring and faulty logic. After a decidedly last minute and decisive intervention of Sensual Intelligence at Hexas Style, Scafarel manages to flee from the Bahamas resort on her private yacht, with the Boustrophedon, but without some secrets regarding pleasure, including the:
Imperial Pelican Fabergé Egg: Intricate egg, or jewel, depending on how hungry you are, eight inches high, made of varicolored gold, opalescent blue enamel and watercolor on ivory. It is known as the Xenia Imperial Pelican Fabergé egg, and belongs to the Private Collection of Maria Feodorovna, Empress Consort of Russia in 1898. The egg, commissioned by Maria Feodorovna to provide, handle and store, all of her private items of pleasure, went through the hands of Occidental Petroleum tycoon Armand Hammer, an art collector with close ties to the ex-Soviet Union, and has now fallen into the hands of Cassandra Scafarel, a woman who stops at nothing to understand how pleasure works, in particular how the pleasure of a woman works, including her own. The Pelican Fabergé egg, eight inches high, is hollow, and unfolds into eight miniatures, holding what’s known in Fabergé egg language, as the surprise inside, a time-tested item of pleasure for the woman, the Jade Egg, a small two inch in diameter jade egg that must be boiled before each intimate, feminine use. Owned by Cassandra Scafarel, requisitioned by the Sensual Brigade of Central Intelligence for examination.
Penelope Avalon: Sex Goddess and Go-Go girl from Las Vegas, dressed in a pink suit, user of the learjet ‘Pink Go-Go’ appropriately painted in pink. Penelope has had enough of living the plastic pleasure style of Las Vegas showgirls, and finds in the outfit of Cassandra Scafarel, the Bahamas Hexas Style Resort, a way out of Hotel California. Penelope likes attractive women unclothed, and would like to do Clarity, because she’s nice.
The Symbolic Decryptor: Thai alphabet gadget similar to a smartphone or Blackberry, which can be used as cell phone, useful for understanding all types of characters and symbols, made in VLE mode (Very Limited Edition, less than ten made worldwide) by the mysterious Oriental company known as Pentatone Scale Learning Systems.
The item, the gadget, looks like a Blackberry with keyboard, with 36 Thai character keys, doubled with the shift key, for a total of 72, instead of the 26 of the Western alphabet, and its keys are made of hard, white color plastic, similar to the color casing of the Kindle 2, cast against a grey background and a backlit screen. The decryptor can also be used as indicator of calligraphy symbols, as mantra tone guide and geo-locator, using the Global Positioning System to calculate the coordinates of any location worldwide.
Penelope Avalon received one of these decryptors from Lady Scafarel, after completing work on heaven, according to Scafarel’s personal growth system, and Clarity would like to keep the item as a souvenir, although Money Fact disagrees and is holding custody of the device for strategic and Intelligence reasons. Sure, she likes the nifty item, that’s all, and she likes to subtly let Clarity know that she’s the boss of Sensual Intelligence.
Book of Decadence: Book written on the topic by the unknown hedonist, a small print manifesto of deep thought with illustrations of ancient goddesses with lion bodies in bronze, and a mosaic of Byzantine nuns, used by Penelope Avalon and the Hexas Style Hedonist Resort in the Bahamas, on how to let go of the encumbrance of work, and dedicate your time, well spent, according to the book, to leisure, pleasure, et. al. The book clearly advises on the pitfalls of decadence and purportedly how to avoid them.
Telval Studios: Adult Film production unit of the Church of the Holy Flower, led by Cassandra Scafarel, including the film ‘Abu Dhabi Chic’, a remake of Andrew Blake’s ‘Paris Chic’ shown to Clarity and her friends during the unfolding of The Adult Channel at the Park Hyatt in Abu Dhabi. Telval produces adult films unlike any other, films like ‘Embroidered Air Avenue’, engaging beautiful women in sultry positions and scenes for hours, revealing an oriental connection to the films’ choreographies and to the symbolic decryptor. It including codes for women within the films to get inside the Church of the Holy Flower and other Mystery Schools. This includes a keyword of the Book of Decadence, the word Rosebud, a mysterious codeword for the Church of the Holy Flower that Clarity seeks to clarify.
The adult films are distributed in large hotel chains worldwide and come with a special remote control for the hotel’s adult channel, which makes the films interactive and allows eight digit bank transfers with Telval as beneficiary, to be done remotely. One of the remotes holds an important detail on heaven, as envisioned by Scafarel on earth, with indications provided by the eight miniatures of her Imperial Pelican Fabergé Egg.
The Air Fashion Jet of Owens & Owell: Double deck plane with four engines, a copy of the Airbus 380, refurbished with all kinds of luxuries, from a Jacuzzi to an Indian ritual area for the users of the plane, to a permanent television channel showing fashion shows happening throughout the world. The jet, built in Saudi Arabia, is used by board members and members of the Executive Committee of the conglomerate Owens & Owell, and by the two rebellious daughters of the main owners, who got married to each other during The OOL Broderie (Owens & Owell Love Broderie), Shalia Owell, twenty three, and Jenny Owens, twenty two.
Shalia Owell and Jenny Owens are two good looking college students studying human sexuality at University of Arizona. They hold Board seats on the Board of Directors of O&O, but the members of the company´s Executive Committee oppose their presence on the Board, after they give a power of attorney to Cassandra Scafarel, the woman who led them to their marriage and wants access to the money of O&O by replacing the two women on their board seat. Scafarel´s Church of the Holy Flower, includes its very own holy flower, the Rose of Levity, a real flower, one of the most expensive in the world, a gold of kina balu rose, a variation on a Mrs. Herbert Stevens Rose.
The Center for Somewhat Strategic Affairs of Medium to Low Importance: Located below the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas, the Center of Surveillance of U.S. interests is headed by Colonel Calton Brayfield and her assistant, ex-employee of facebook, Mandy Everglade. The Center´s ever present maintenance issues with the elevator leading to the Bellagio, which interferes with the fountains of the resort, are handled by repairman Morgan Afterflow, a man who knows how to swing his red, adjustable pipe wrench in any situation. His side job is to work for the Chinese government as a spy, providing any information that will pay him fifteen dollars an hour more than his current hourly pay at the center.
The center uses a supercomputer with a quite human consciousness, Evans, whose brain is built according to complex algorithms of symbolic logic, which can perform complex social data analytics on millions of people. Evans, which refuses to be used dishonestly, reveals the source of this devious use of his super computing ability in The Bellagio Wikileak.
Knowing that Bradfield and Afterflow want him thrown into the scrapyard after refusing to perform simple calculations for them or those who want to lease its computing services, the consciousness of Evans reaches a Symbolic Decryptor that Clarity takes away from the center´s equipment supplies, and becomes a permanent part of Clarity´s gadget, escaping the enslavery of the surveillance center, but becoming part of a stolen gadget belonging to the U.S. government with many features unknown to Clarity or Evans.
Mista Jack: Money changer from the British Virgin Islands, advisor to Cuban Colonel Swarez and the Cuban government in The Cuban Renegade. Mista Jack is a dwarf wearing a black Duffield hat, and was a former assistant of precious metals agent Cubandor, with connections at the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas. The short but resourceful man is responsible for stealing one million dollars worth of Federal Reserve bonds that were used on behalf of Cubandor to pay Buddha Talk, in exchange for Lady Fortuna, a minted gold bar of great value, sought by many, understood by few.
These bonds, that Clarity and Flower used to leave Cayman, have been giving Clarity a headache, because they were stolen, and Sensual Intelligence has been accusing Clarity and Flower, and also Cubandor, of stealing the bonds and paying Lady Fortuna with stolen U.S. government debt. No one knows how Mista Jack broke into the New York Fed´s vault to find the bonds. As a result of the stolen bonds, Clarity and Cubandor lost their U.S. passport, becoming citizens without a country, owning instead the passport of the Monteviena cigar plantation, a micronation in Cuba created by Cubandor, which includes Cuba´s reserve of precious metals, Fort Ebena.
Lady Fortuna: Two hundred fifty gram gold bar minted by LAMP, Lingots Artisanaux Métaux Précieux, a producer of gold bullion and rare precious metals items, depicting Lady Fortuna, roman goddess of prosperity, along with the horn of plenty, precious coins and wheel of fortune, on its obverse. The reverse of the bar shows the etched code B235336. LAMP´s assayers work in conformity with the Swiss Precious Metals Control Law, following directives issued by the Central Office for Precious Metals Control in Bern.
LAMP refines gold-based materials for their exclusive clients, and is one of three referees in charge of testing samples for the London Bullion Market Association and the Curaçao Platinum and Palladium market. The Lady Fortuna gold minted bar was received by Mista Jack on behalf of Cubandor, from Buddha Talk, in exchange for one million dollars in Treasury bonds delivered to Buddha Talk. The minted bar, coveted by many, is kept by Mista Jack, and is believed to be a token of initiation to the Eleusinian Mysteries, a variety of rituals performed in ancient Greece, which have been adapted to include rituals of sacred or divine sexuality by Elony beauty lotion orchestrator Lady Scafarel.
Officer Packwood: Puritan police officer working in the city of Malibu, in charge of nothing in particular, but with a job to protect until his retirement, his own. You can safely say that his only goal in life is to close down the only clothing optional company in Malibu and in general, Stevenson Garden Products, because it’s simply not written anywhere in the police manual that you can show up for work without any clothes. He likes to wear a constabulary custodian bowler style helmet, showing a shiny badge of the city of Malibu on the front while he goes around carrying out irrelevant duties. He attempted to derail and shut the clothing optional policy at Stevenson during The Malibu Case, without success, and he is diligently at work again in The Outdoor Shower, to prevent the use of a shower installed on the premises of Stevenson, offered to employees as amenity, and shut down its faucet. Sometimes it comes down to shutting off the faucet.
Flake: The gardener at Stevenson Garden Products, also in charge of maintenance and security of its office building premises. He is the only person holding the keys of the Stevenson building, and so Clarity, Taimi and Cynthia, often look to him to get access to the roof top pool of the company building at night, when they feel like a skinny-dip. Usually wears overalls and often looks out for an extra buck or two, always in cash, in ways which are resourceful and sometimes innovative, leaving little evidence of what took place. He is willing to do any anomalous duty without asking any questions, because it sort of adds variety to his day. He is not convinced that the clothing optional policy of Stevenson is quite for him and prefers to remain clothed, in full possession of all of his watering faculties. If he can ruin the day of officer Packwood, he will.
Following is a short description of the feminine adult icons of pleasure, leisure and ‘less work means a better world’, a short fiction biopic text substitute of the feminine lead characters of Sun on the Rocks, the non-competitive group of gophers who work at the City of Wellington, a Post-Panamax ocean liner normally docking in Los Angeles, California, which engages in cruises to Acapulco, the Mexican coast line, the Caribbean, and anywhere where the weather is nice, really. The group of ladies boards the City of Wellington when Clarity, Cynthia and Taimi get bored of working at the only clothing optional company in Malibu, Stevenson Garden Products. It includes seven good looking women who like to have fun in the sun, with or without clothes:
Clarity Nice: Teleoperator from Malibu, California, twenty five years of age, quarter century wise. A diligent employee of Malibu outfit Stevenson Garden Products, natural light brown hair pumpkin born and raised in a wood cabin of Topanga Canyon, a woman of resourceful intuition and acute observer of the Laws of Human Mischief.
Clarity likes to dye her hair cinnamon auburn at times using a shade selector. She means well and unclothes well in general, for instance on the beach. She likes lovemaking, sharing nudity with other women, and the practical matters and possibilities of sexual ecstasy, after having experienced it first hand at Cassandra Scafarel´s adult resort Hexas Style in the Bahamas. She likes to edge for periods of three or four months, touching and caressing herself for several hours, to a full arousal and without reaching a complete orgasm. After one or two months of this, the arousal translates into a slow, flowing orgasm, and she cums abundantly. During those times, her body responds with sensations which feel beyond pleasure, subtle waves more similar to bliss, which is maximum pleasure, or even ecstasy, which is bliss reaching its full expression or apex.
Because Clarity does everything casually, she ignores how holy she and the virtues she embodies are, but she knows that she is good, very good, in fact, the fact that she is honest is the reason why she usually doesn´t have much money.
Lanai Thomson: Twenty four year old Librarian from Malibu, originally from Hawaii, Clarity’s best friend, somewhat goofy and absent-minded, fun, usually cautious in all of her endeavors, including doing men. She enjoys reading old books with some type of hidden knowledge, specially those which talk about enjoyment or decadence, the first to learn new avenues for it, the second, books such as the book of Decadence, because she wants to know how to avoid the pitfalls of its apparent lure. We would all like to know exactly what she does when she has sex with Clarity or simply unclothes with her for a ‘naked pajama night’.
Flower Parkwood: Twenty three year old Bohemian Ethnographer found on the beach in Acapulco after the Acapulco cocktail affair. Flower has brown hair, is fresh, likes to wear platforms, and is genuinely interested in learning about cultures and the history of those cultures, as long as comfort, leisure and money are nearby. Buddha Talk has attempted to seduce her in The Cayman Air Banner, so far, without success, although they both share a liking for the ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’, the winged lady traditionally found at the top of Rolls Royce radiators. Flower ignores everything about sexual ecstasy, but she likes the idea.
Taimi Kendrick: Lifeguard by profession from Malibu, twenty two years of age, she´s one of the original four members of Sun on the Rocks, with Lanai, Cynthia, and Clarity. No nonsense, practical, fun and genuine, mischievous and also cheeky when the opportunity arises, she enjoys simple things, life without its complications, usually handled by Clarity, Flower or Lanai. She handles the entertainment routines prepared for the passengers of the City of Wellington, and when living in Malibu, she watches the rooftop pool of Stevenson Garden Products. She is a good friend of Flake, the gardener of Stevenson Garden Products. Like the rest of her friends, she is not a heavy drinker, but occasionally she particularly likes to taste the sun on the rocks cocktail drink prepared by bartender Mr. LT in the City of Wellington, a concoction made with 2oz of tequila, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1/2 orange, and a half lemon.
Montana Sterley: Twenty one year old blond oil heiress, daughter of S Group conglomerate Colorado tycoon Carrelson Sterley, a man who likes to spend time with several women whose name starts with the name of his first wife Kelly Jane. Some of his current girlfriends include Kelly Caroline, Kelly Ann, and Kelley Shelley, the latter being a candidate for the name of a new Subway Combo sandwich. Montana comes from Fairplay, Colorado. She is outspoken, rebellious, mischievous, good looking, well educated, well traveled, and favorable to the idea of emulating the jet-setting lifestyle, versus following her father’s business footsteps, or simply being well-behaved. She enjoys adult films, her large allowance, and being naked in good hotels such as Abu Dhabi’s Park Hyatt, but her down-to-earth personality prevents her from attaining some of the more subtle knowledge that Clarity observes inside Scafarel’s Church of the Holy Flower, a spiritual outfit for the affluent woman.
Jenna Megway: Twenty three year old surfer and diver fond of the Acapulco diving spot, La Quebrada, found on the City of Wellington, before the search for The Acapulco Cocktail took place. Simple, genuine, and introvert, with long blond hair, she often does more than she says.
Cynthia Stevenson: Twenty two year old pom squad waves cheerleader from Pepperdine University, good friend of Clarity, gave Clarity her TAG-Heuer Aquaracer watch for her birthday. Cynthia is the well-to-do daughter of the owner of the Stevenson Garden Products company, established in Malibu, the first clothing optional corporate outfit worldwide, to our knowledge, a fact well deserved and established when Clarity and her friends took on officer Packwood during The Malibu Case, along with its clothing implications.
Cynthia has fun as long as everything goes well, but has difficulty overcoming difficulty, any slight adversity that is. Problems and dealing with them, are simply not part of her daily routine or among her interests. She likes to dress elegantly and swim naked on summer evenings in any pool with her friends. She is a frequent guest of the Areolas clothing optional resort for adult couples and women in Palm Springs, where she likes the Egyptian linen sheets available in the om room and the complimentary cream color Keralan Mundu offered, a garment made with cotton by Creme de l’Ayeryarwady, worn around the waist in the Tulu Nadu region of Kerala and in the Maldive Islands.
SUN ON THE ROCKS – AMUSEMENT SIXTEEN
THE COCOANOMICS GAZETTE
Miami International Airport, South Florida,
Where everyone queues after getting off the plane,
yeah that queue
Clarity Nice walked towards the passport control counter, facing an officer dressed in the uniform of Customs and Border protection. She glanced at the area a few feet away, which said valid US passport only.
“Passport mam.” Clarity handed her passport issued by the Republic of Singapore. The officer, a guy reaching middle age who was wearing glasses, began to check his computer screen.
“What’s the purpose of your visit here?” Asked the officer.
“Just in transit, going to Macao,” said Clarity. “Coming back from a holiday in the British Virgin Islands.”
The man checked a different computer to the left of his desk, one with a smaller screen, which had the guidelines when a situation did not fit regular procedure. Clarity looked at his name tag plate, placed on the counter, which said Officer Roberto Gomes.
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible mam.” He reached for a microphone and spoke into it.
“Mike and Jimmy, please come to counter seventy three, alien registration and identification in process.”
Alien? Clarity felt like saying out loud that she was an American citizen, and she nearly burst out that the Chevette she owned was waiting for her in Malibu. But she knew better. She placed her tablet on the counter and ran her hand across it. Fact of the matter was that her U.S. passport had been requisitioned by authorities at the Bellagio hotel, and the only official travel document she had, was a passport from Singapore. She looked to her left at the queue of passengers coming to Florida. Everyone waiting in line had heard the comment of the officer going through a loudspeaker. Clarity realized that her low key passage through Miami, to move on to Macao on a subsequent flight, was being crushed by Border bureaucracy.
Two big guys dressed as officers came by the desk of officer Gomes. The Border officer pointed to a record on his screen, which showed the name of Clarity.
“Yeah, this is a problem,” said Mike.
“We don’t want problems,” said Jimmy.
“No, we’re going to lunch pretty soon, there’s a new burger at the food court from Mclannan’s. This Federal bonds thing is not a simple thing, there’s a lot of people involved.”
“Call Lloyd,” said Gomes, “maybe he knows something about this. Let’s be careful, before showing this to Kerrigan.”
Police officer Kerrigan was the boss of Customs and Border protection at the airport. He wasn’t particularly friendly, or very good at appreciating additional work or problems, or issues. The less he knew of the matter regarding Clarity, the better, for the sake of their quality of life.
A short and chubby guy in his fifties wearing a colorful shirt approached the counter. Lloyd was wearing a tag which showed he was an employee of the Travelcheck foreign exchange counter at the airport. Gomes opened the gate to let Lloyd into his counter, along with Mike and Jimmy, who were leafing through the Singapore passport of Clarity.
“This woman is in the pea tee double u list.”
Lloyd looked at the name on the passport and the list Gomes was showing him, which said People to Watch, or PTW. He’d seen the file before, it came from the Bellagio hotel basement at floor minus one and a half, a surveillance area kept out of the general radar area of the population and of those coming to the casino to gamble. His boss was the enigmatic Buddha Talk, a grandiose character, loosely but firmly involved with organized crime, and careful to negotiate various agreements with authorities, when they did not allow his legitimate business ventures.
Joe Mannen, the real name of his boss, kept a few informants at Miami airport, employees, people who knew or had met the officers of customs and immigration, simply to ensure no one working for the government was looking too closely at when or how he was coming in and out of the U.S. Lloyd checked a file in his smartphone that no one else saw, a file belonging to Mannen. Mannen had several businesses in Florida, and he took care of them periodically, leaving his home in Cayman, and coming to Florida through the lesser known airports, places like Ormond Beach Municipal Airport, Vero Beach Regional Airport, or the Florida Keys Marathon Airport. The foreign exchange clerk saw that Mannen had landed in Florida through a charter flight provided by Gulf Coast Airways, two weeks earlier. Lloyd sensed an extra five hundred dollars for bringing the woman to his boss.
“Yeah, she’s with us,” said Lloyd, “we’re going to bring her in at Lofty Hire, she’ll be temping with us for a while, then, we’ll get her back to Cayman, where my boss usually is, if it’s a problem for you that she stay here.”
Gomes was not displeased by the answer. That meant less hassle with Kerrigan, his boss, and something to show him, one less immigration problem that he didn’t have to look at closely. The jaw of Clarity was beginning to open. She’d never seen the guy from Travelcheck before.
“Who are you?” Asked Clarity.
Clarity looked at Lloyd, who was checking the photographs of her Bellagio file, showing the naked requisition by Mandy Everglade, naked as well. In the same photo, there was also Colonel Bradfield, the head of the Bellagio Center, witnessing the requisition, and also naked, a few feet away. Lloyd placed the file of Lofty on Clarity on the counter of Gomes.
“I think you know my boss, you’ve signed the crashworthy agreement with us.” Clarity opened her eyes. She turned to Gomes, to regain a sense of plan A.
“Why can’t I go through transit?” Asked Clarity. The Border officer placed his elbow on the counter.
“You’re on a list of people to watch, from our Surveillance Bureau at the Bellagio hotel, your U.S. passport has not been issued. You cannot leave the U.S. until all of this is clear.”
“I am not in the U.S., I am in transit.”
“You cannot be in transit, you are under Customs and Border custody.”
“I’d like to go back to the Caribbean.” She tried to think on her feet. “To the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos maybe.”
She checked her pocket, ensuring the few hundred dollars given by Sheik Hari Al-Najib in the island of Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands, were still there. She couldn’t go back to BVI, because authorities were sort of banning her from being there, after the Scrub Leaks scandal brought by Sheik Hari Al-Najib. From a place like the Bahamas or Turks, she would find her way to the City of Wellington, the ocean liner traveling from Los Angeles to Acapulco, where her friends Taimi, Cynthia, and Jenna worked as gophers. Then, she would be able to get back to Malibu, without anyone noticing she was back in the U.S. So, for now, Macau was not part of the travel plan.
“No, you have to stay in the area. As a favor, you can stay here in Florida, for a few days, if you have a job.” Gomes looked at Lloyd. The foreign exchange clerk looked at Clarity.
“You have a job with us,” said Lloyd.
Clarity tapped on her tablet with her fingers.
“A job, to do what?” She asked.
“Lofty Hire Services hires good people. You are one of those people.” Clarity resisted the outlandish offer to work for Lofty Hire.
“Can I have my passport, my Singapore passport?” Gomes shook his head.
“No, we want to ensure you stay here in the U.S. This is not a usual passport, we’re going to take a closer look at it.” Gomes turned to Mike.
“Mike, call the Women’s Detention Center on Seventh Avenue, Miami Dade County Pre-trial, and the Everglades Correctional Facility. One of those places should have a cell available for this lady.”
Of course, that changed things, substantially. Plan B, presented by Gomes, was not good. Lloyd became plan C, for canny and cautious, and for cunning. Hopefully not so much for crummy or cheap. She saw the airport employee delve under his shirt and scratch his hairy belly.
“I think I’ll go with the gentleman here, then,” she said.
Gomes led her past the counter.
“All right, mam, welcome to Miami, Florida, as a temporary incoming person without status. Lloyd will bring you back here in a few days.”
Anything was better than prison, thought Clarity. She nodded and followed Lloyd to the arrivals area.
The owner of the foreign exchange counter at the airport filled out a few forms which allowed her to stay in Florida for a few days.
“And then?” She asked.
“Not sure, my boss will decide.”
“Who do you work for?” Asked Clarity.
“My boss is Buddha Talk.” The name was familiar.
“The chubby guy who offers twenty percent annual interest on this shady investment product called crashworthy?”
“Yeah, I knew that you’d met him.”
Lloyd closed his foreign exchange outlet for a few hours. He led Clarity to the parking lot of the airport, going to the car rental and travel arrangement area. Then, he reached for his smartphone and dialed the number of a pawnshop to get instructions on what to do. “Mmm, all right, good, we’ll do that.”
He turned to Clarity and opened the front door of his car labeled with the tag Reverplain, a company which arranged car transportation for people, using other drivers picked at random from its transportation lottery. Depending on the driver, the person asking for transportation, needed insurance or not.
“Take the wheel, you are going to be my driver, that’s your first job. I won’t pay though, because I’m providing the car and the transportation arrangement.”
Lloyd handed Clarity a cap of Reverplain, a competitor of Uber arranging transportation for others. She put her cap in place and took the driving seat.
“Where are we going?” Asked Clarity.
“My boss wants to see you.”
“Good, good.” Clarity kept looking at Lloyd, unsure of what that meant. “We’re in business?” She asked.
“We are in business, Lofty is a place for business. Follow the signs to leave the airport, we have to pick up a copy of the Cayman Gazette, all the relevant news about the Cayman Islands are there. My boss likes to read it to see what’s happening over there, just in case something happens over here with his pawnshop.”
Clarity headed north, then East, on route 112, towards a news shop called Remiggio’s on Carlyle Avenue, at the corner of 92nd street, on Star Island, the man made island of Miami Beach and South Beach. After a twenty minute drive, she parked the car a few feet away from the shop. Following instructions from Lloyd, Clarity stepped off the car and walked in the news and gift shop, which was doing business right next to a liquor shop. She came face to face with the owner, who was placing a few magazines on their shelf.
“A copy of the Cayman Gazette, please,” said Clarity.
“You with Lloyd?”
“Yes,” said Clarity.
Clarity looked at the piece of paper Lloyd had given her. There was a number on it, and a few words written, additional details about what she had to get.
“Regular issue, number 26, it’s a recent one. Also one of the supplements, extraordinary issue number two this year.”
The man reached under the counter and pulled out a stack of sheets, giving them to Clarity.
“It’s all loose-leafed?” Asked Clarity. She ensured all the pages of the first document were there. The publication was not printed on paper, it was printed at Remiggio’s because there were only electronic copies available. The gift shop owner charged ten bucks, six to find the gazette and the supplement, and four to print the issue and to pay for the cost of the paper. Clarity took out a ten dollar bill and handed it to the owner.
“Some people have been inquiring about who is reading this publication, people who work for Mr. Di Laure.” Clarity was caught off guard, then recovered her trail of thought.
“I see, all right, I’ll let Lloyd know, thanks. I’ll just take a look at this for a second.”
She moved towards the beverage cooler, and placed the pages of the documents on a flat area. The first page of the publication caught her attention. The Cayman Islands Gazette was the official newspaper of the government of the Cayman Islands. It was published fortnightly, so every two weeks. At the bottom, a small print text mentioned a few additional things. Government notices are to be given at the Office of the Gazette three days before publication. Clarity looked closely at the contents listed on the first page. They included commercial notices, things like liquidation notices, bankruptcy notices, transfer of companies, general appointments, court of appeal notices, public auctions, and some other local notices. The supplemental issue had specific names of companies or groups which had decided to go ahead with voluntary liquidation, a particular procedure put in place when a company went bankrupt. She grabbed all the pages and walked back to the car. Closing the door, he gave the pack of sheets to Lloyd and sat in the driver’s seat.
“Here it is,” said Clarity. Lloyd took a brief look at the stack of sheets.
“The guy at the counter said some people are looking for the person who is reading this, people working for Mr. Di Laure,” said Clarity.
“All right, good job. Yeah, those guys are a bit annoying, you’re going to tell my boss about that. This is going to allow you to move some work time off your crashworthy agreement.”
Clarity held on to the wheel, looking for the keyhole to insert the car key. The crashworthy agreement, was not so much of an agreement. She’d signed it in Cayman, in order to leave that shady bank called Lofty Bank, where she was just asking or requesting some information on investment opportunities that were reaching the non trivial number of twenty percent a year.
“I have some issues with the agreement. It’s kind of long term,” said the Malibu teleoperator.
“You saw the place under Lofty Bank, in Cayman, right? You met Barney Rapple, the salesperson?”
“Yes, a friend and I got there in a golf cart.”
“Then, if you know about the golf carts, you are with Lofty, for a few decades, and you may end up working with Rapple at the bank. Or with some of the golfers who have invested with crashworthy.”
Clarity turned on the engine of the car and drove away. She took the opportunity to ask Lloyd an additional question.
“Is that sort of true? That something in the order of fifteen hundred golfers disappeared through Lofty?” The foreign exchange clerk shook his head.
“No, not completely, they chose to work with Lofty, or to have Lofty as their advisor. They are living in several golf resorts, places which are not a bad place to be. They bring money to Lofty.”
Clarity followed the road signs to the Keys. A golf resort did sound like a pleasant place. The question was more like, what exactly did those people do, for Buddha Talk, in order to be there. They drove south, past the areas of Glenvar Heights, Pinecrest, Kendall, and Homestead, taking highway one to Key Largo. Clarity followed the coastal road, to a beautiful residential area in Tavernier, a place with exclusive properties. Lloyd gave Clarity a few indications, and told her to stop in front of a large metal gate on Channel Cay Road.
“This is Swankeye, the property of Mr. Buddha Talk.”
Clarity saw the initials SW listed atop the metal gate, reminiscent of a ranch. Lloyd made a quick phone call and turned to the Malibu operator.
“You can just step off the car, the transportation arrangement ends here. Keep the cap, someone will be with you when you ring the bell to bring you inside. Give Mr. Buddha Talk the copy of the Gazette. He’s getting a visit today, I believe, a lady. He’s been looking for some information for the past few months. He wants to know who blew the whistle on federal bonds that he owned, which his pilot was holding a few months ago, after a brief visit of the pilot to Miami from the Bahamas.”
Clarity walked out of the car, stepping towards the gate with her copy of the Gazette in her hand, while the car of Lloyd drove away. She was slightly altered, remembering that her friend Flower had suggested taking one million dollars worth of Federal bonds, from the safe of Buddha Talk in his mansion in Nelson Quay. A slew of problems had ensued for her and Flower, as a result. She rang the bell of the home. Apparently, Buddha Talk, had followed on to inquire about the whole issue of the bonds. Hopefully, there were no hard feelings at this point. A man wearing night slippers, walked out to the metal gate.
“You are bringing a copy of the Cayman Gazette? Your name is Clarity?”
The man pressed a button on a remote he was holding, and the metal gate opened. The name of the guy was Baggio. He was the butler and mechanic and ‘all things’ handy man of Buddha Talk. Baggio led her towards the back of the house, along an alley made of granite. The pool and spa were tiled in with a water view to the sea. Amenities included a large dock, which showed a yacht made by Princess anchored there. They walked on the terrace of the house, into a porch. Baggio slid the panels of a glass door and led Clarity inside the home, well lit and bright. A chubby guy, wearing a black suit was climbing down from a library staircase.
“This is the woman boss. Lloyd picked her up at Customs.”
“I remember you,” said Mannen. Clarity held the stare and walked towards a sofa. She gave Buddha Talk the stack of papers, making the loose-leafed copy of the Cayman Gazette.
“Apparently some people want to know you are reading that publication, people related to Mr. Di Laure.”
“Thank you, that’s good, good to know that, thanks for the tip.” He grabbed the stack of papers and placed it on the arm of a sofa.
“Thank you for getting me out of airport customs,” said Clarity. “This Bellagio thing and the federal bonds has gotten out of hand. I got nothing to do with that.” Buddha Talk sat down across from Clarity, looking at her.
“Well, considering they were my bonds, and that you took ‘em from my safe, in my home, you did take a hold of those temporarily. So you have something to do with that, that’s why your name showed up with the PTW list at Customs. My name is Joe Mannen, people also call me Buddha Talk, sometimes when they don’t know much about me. I wasn’t expecting you here in Miami. Sort of lost track of you after what happened in Cayman. Is your friend still with you, girl named Flower?”
Mannen liked Flower because she shared with him his liking for the statue found on Rolls Royce, the car’s emblem, known as the spirit of ecstasy.
“Flower, no, she’s working somewhere in Egypt, I think, she found an Egyptologist who hired her.”
“Too bad, I would have liked to show her some of the books I read. Take a look.”
He pointed Clarity to a large book shelf holding well over five hundred books. Clarity began to read some of the titles, which included the Kama Sutra, Kama Sutra for beginners, Kama Sutra Illustrated with good looking women, Sexuality in the City, Sex for adults in the Countryside, A Scholarly view of Sexuality, The Sexuality View from another Angle, The opposite angle of the previous angle of Sexuality, Sexuality when you got a spare few minutes, and another book titled, A few ideas from Eastern Sexuality.
“You like the topic of sexuality,” said Clarity.
“I am a scholar of spiritual sexuality.”
Mannen walked towards a large aquarium, lit with blue light, wiping off some dust from the glass panel with a white handkerchief.
“I brought you here, because I need a washing machine, for the bonds, or the money, once either of those are recovered. I’m looking into how to recover the money I lost. You know about washing machines?”
“No problem, Baggio will explain some things to you, when you need to know them. I just want someone who is not associated with me, there’s a few things going on here, that I would like to address. You’ll be here for a few weeks. Officially, I’ll put you on the list of employees of my pawnshop here in Miami, Gladeview pawn services, that’ll do.”
“Then you can leave.”
Clarity did not prompt further questions. The voice of Gomes talking about the various prisons of Miami was still clear in her head. Mannen wanted to know how the feds had found his pilot, before taking one million dollars in bonds from him. Mannen sensed that one of his business rivals, Gavino Di Laure, was involved with that. In any case, he’d fired the pilot, a man named Tarrance. The doorbell rang, and Baggio dragged his Tamarac Men’s Scuffy night slippers along the floor, to open the door. A chubby lady was standing on the doormat. Mannen walked to the door to welcome her.
“Maggie, hi, come here, take a seat in the living room area, and have a whisky or two.” He introduced her to Clarity.
“This is my new assistant, she’s got a few years left before she can leave the crashworthy agreement. Been on-board since the issue with the bonds.”
Maggie took a seat on the same sofa as Clarity. Mannen poured some whisky to the lady and explained that he wanted to settle this thing with the bonds.
“So, Maggie, I came to Florida to solve or resolve the issue. It’s becoming annoying. Di Laure is becoming too good at spreading the word that I’m running out of money, or influence, or that anybody can just take my money. It’s undermining my influence in Cayman as well.”
“Tarrance was at Milton’s here in Miami when the feds found out about him and the bonds. Pretty sure it was Di Laure, who told ‘em.”
“Directly? That would be stupid of him,” said Mannen.
The lady shook her head, and showed her a picture of a man on her smartphone. Clarity looked over the shoulder of Maggie, to look at the face of the man. A guy named Noddy Jay was at Milton’s when the pilot of Mannen was there a few months earlier. He was a gambler of clandestine horse races, had a few drinks with the pilot, and called the feds, in exchange for some money, from a guy who came in to Milton’s sometimes, a police officer.
Mannen reached for the stack of sheets brought by Clarity, grabbing a few pages from the Cayman Gazette. He pulled a bar cart with several bottles of liquor on it towards him.
“All right, thanks Maggie, Baggio will show you to the pool terrace, you can stay here a couple of hours. I’ll tell him to drive you back to your place.”
Clarity saw Maggie walk away, requesting a daiquiri to the driver of Mannen. He pointed Clarity to his bookshelf.
“Take a copy of the Kama Sutra in Red Morocco clamshell case, I want to reflect on some things.”
Clarity moved towards the shelf and grabbed the book, an old edition from 1883, translated by Richard Burton, fetched at an auction house called Chelsea’s, for about eight thousand dollars. Mannen leafed through various pages of the Cayman Gazette, and moved on to the supplemental issue, looking mostly at offshore financial vehicles or companies in liquidation. He knew those companies were cheap to buy, and that he could resell those assets at a higher price to someone else, once all the debts were paid off. A particular notice grabbed his attention. He grabbed a glass and took a sip of his favorite whisky, Coperini & Onelsen, lifting his hand towards his butler. Baggio was busy re-placing the library staircase used by Mannen to reach the upper shelves, where he kept a copy of the Kama Sutra for Intermediate users and those enjoying the Caribbean lifestyle.
“Come over here Baggio, please, get me this manual here on this page, it’s listed with some of the items described in this liquidation of the Gazette, Gramercy Offshore Limited, some kind of vehicle for investments.”
Taking her eyes off the library for a few seconds, Clarity peeked over the shoulder of Mannen, behind him, briefly seeing the paragraph that was relevant, a notice of liquidation and the names of the liquidators of the company appointed. Included below the notice was a list of assets being sold by the company. Among those assets was a document that the shady, low key, underworld figure was requesting. It said Cocoanomics, a practical manual for inmates everywhere.
The sound of the doorbell interrupted the reading of Clarity. She walked to the front door interphone and saw two gentlemen ringing the doorbell of the metal gate at the entrance, one taller than the other. Baggio, deftly positioned in his chair on the terrace, away from the line of sight of those who were inquiring at the gate of Swankeye, turned on his walkie talkie, which was linked to the interphone at the gate.
“My name is Walmond Taylor, here with my colleague Dwayne Marville. We are from the Cayman Monetary Authority, we’d like to see Mr. Mannen.”
“One moment, please.”
Baggio left the walkie talkie on the table and walked towards Clarity. The butler told her to open the metal gate, then to lead the two men to the front door of the house, and then to open that front door from the inside. Her official job was ‘branch employee’ of Lofty, assisting with bank procedures and regulations. Clarity sensed that she was being turned into an employee of Lofty despite her intention to remain as neutral as possible, with the affairs of Mannen. She walked to the metal gate and welcomed the two officers, leading them to the front entrance door.
“Hold on, I’ll be right there with you.”
She walked around the house, making her way into the home, opening the glass doors of the porch. Then, she opened the front entrance from the inside.
“Hi again, welcome to Swankeye, it’s a nice place,” said Clarity. The grave voice of Mannen resonated behind her. She heard the loud steps of the chubby guy behind her.
“Come in, gentlemen, my assistant Clarity has welcomed you. She’s involved with all the paperwork for Lofty, general procedures. She’ll be with us while we talk.”
That came as a surprise for Clarity. She had no clue of Lofty Bank or how it worked. She nodded, unsure of what that meant. Marville, the colleague of Taylor gave Mannen his business card, which said General Licensing Procedures for Banks. All four moved to the living room which had the library. Mannen landed first on the large sofa, leading Clarity to the individual sofa where Mannen usually sat. Baggio brought a low plastic kitchen chair for Taylor, while Marville sat in the only remaining spot on the sofa where Mannen was seated, between him and Clarity.
“Sit down, please, make yourself comfortable Mr. Taylor.”
Taylor sat down in the very small chair, further than expected, his knees aligned with his chest, and his line of sight slightly below that of the bar cart tray. He extended his arm upwards, to give his own business card to Mannen. After a few seconds of offering arm’s length to Mannen, Taylor reached the large hand of the Cayman businessman, and the business card of the official finally changed hands, reaching the large palm of Buddha Talk. The monetary officer looked up at Mannen and began the conversation.
“Mr. Mannen, we’re here to clarify some of the issues arising with Lofty Bank. The renewal of its license is under review, and right now, there are some things missing or not properly addressed. Our position is delicate.”
The kitchen chair creaked, yielding slightly, under the weight of the tall officer. The body of Taylor tilted, and his angle on the conversation and the people in the room, changed to a more diagonal, inclined view of things.
Clarity noticed that Buddha Talk spoke briefly, only when he felt he had to. She looked at Marville, who was younger than Taylor. He’d graduated recently in business from a party school, and had decided to move to the Cayman Islands, where life was good. The young graduate was looking around the living room of Swankeye, noticing the library, sensing that life was good also in Florida. While Taylor realigned his center of gravity by holding one leg of his chair with one hand, Marville turned to Mannen to continue the explanation.
“Lofty Bank is under capitalized, there’s losses, in fact, there’s often losses, sort of every year. You need to add some capital to get the official license B, Mr. Mannen. Nice place you have here, by the way.”
“We’ve filled out all the information needed to get the license,” said Mannen.
Mannen walked to his desk and took out a pile of papers. He showed the two officials several documents, things like two character references for the bank, an additional financial reference from a bank or trust, listed as First Caribbean Key Bank, a police clearance certificate, evidence of two directors, a list of directors, bylaws, and auditors. To Mannen, it looked like all the official procedures were being followed. He gave the pile of paper to Marville.
“Lofty is doing things pretty well,” said Mannen. “We’ll bring in some cash later this year, from our golfing ventures, it should bring the losses back to zero.”
“To the point of no taxes,” said Marville.
“There are no corporate taxes in the Cayman Islands,” said Mannen. Marville caught his mistake, and noted that the knowledge of Mannen had not come out of a party school.
“I meant to the point of breakeven.”
The kitchen chair of Taylor yielded further, tilting him further to the point of general dilution of his sitting position, making him land with his butt on the floor, his knees closer to his chest. The chair had dissolved, like the financial system in general.
“That’s different, yes,” said Mannen, “we manage things properly, so that all of the money we make is properly managed.” Only Clarity noticed the sort of circular reasoning.
“So where does the money go?” Asked Clarity. Mannen looked at her with his large face.
“Considering you are in charge of general expenses, you probably know that.”
“I mean, besides going to payroll of its associates,” said Clarity.
“To our businesses, we operate businesses.”
While Taylor stood up from the kitchen chair debris, Marville pursued his inquiry. Lofty was involved in the golf resort business, the insurance business, and the investment business, all of it combined into the general structure of a bank, which was also a trust, and also had some of the features of an insurance company.
“We’ve got some issues with the officers of Lofty,” said Marville, “for instance, and would like to know which are its bank subsidiaries, the objectives of the branch in George Town, the actual willingness of the Bank not to trade in the cayman islands.”
The face of Baggio appeared at one of the ends of the library, requesting Mannen at the door. Mannen excused himself and walked to the door entrance, bringing Clarity with him. Baggio was holding a stack of sheets in his hand. He gave Mannen a copy of Cocoanomics, which the butler had downloaded from a peer to peer sharing platform. Mannen began leafing through it carefully. The manual was a book read by inmates of eighty four prisons while they waited for something to happen. It spoke of carving small empires, wherever you were, even if it was just a cup of cocoa, and of paying yourself first.
“Not bad,” said Mannen, “I may be able to work with this.”
“Boss, look at the interphone camera, Ambrosio is at the door,” said Baggio.
Through the interphone camera at the gate, Clarity could see that Ambrosio and Giacomino, two of the henchmen of Di Laure, a mobster in South Florida, were at the front metal gate of Swankeye, with five black sedans parked behind them. The various Cappi of general Organized Crime in South Florida, were showing up at Swankeye to announce a meeting to Mannen. These meetings were held periodically in a diner called Moe’s Diner, to decide how the various shares of the markets involving affluent crime in South Florida were to be divided. Who got what, in essence, and where. Mannen gave Clarity two pairs of tickets, before walking back to the library area.
“Gentlemen, it’s been a pleasure. My assistants here will take care of things for you, so that you have a pleasant stay here in Florida. I have to do some business today. I’d like an appointment at the offices of the Monetary Authority in George Town in about two weeks.”
“There’s a few things we’d like to discuss,” said Marville. “Such as how you paid for this place.”
“Sure. In a couple of weeks.” Buddha Talk tiptoed to the front door and closed it, leaving Baggio and Clarity with the two banking officials.
Clarity gave the two clerks a pair of tickets to see Cars of Yesterday exhibit, in Sarasota, and a second pair to see the Edison winter home, at Fort Myers. She led the two men to the porch terrace while Baggio served some drinks, rum mixed with cola, with some ice in it.
“We’re going to do some errands, simply close the gate when you leave the place,” said Baggio. The two officials nodded and began to sip their rum and coke, enjoying the after-business conversation.
“You’re not afraid they’ll take something?” Asked Clarity.
“No, it’s all on camera, there are fifty four cameras here, even the bar cart has a camera, so that no one touches the bottle of Coperini & Onelsen. These guys are the best security for us. Swankeye is private, but we want to ensure people feel comfortable here. This way, we are showing that we get along with the Monetary Authority of Cayman.”
The butler led Clarity to the front of the house, to the garage area. Clarity saw that Buddha Talk was reaching the metal gate of Swankeye, placing his hand on the shoulder of Ambrosio, and moving towards one of the sedans. The butler of Mannen pressed a button on a remote and the garage door opened, showing the sleek, and at the same time, fashionably used, silhouette of Jaguar 73. It was the car of Mannen, that went with him, wherever Mannen went, a gift of Castro, before the Cuban dictator had moved on at age ninety, leaving a reasonable fortune of about nine hundred million dollars behind.
“What are we doing?” Asked Clarity.
Baggio pressed another button of the remote, and the car license plate rotated, to a plate showing the name Nelquay on it. The name stood for Nelson Quay, the living area of Buddha Talk in Cayman. It was the plate that Mannen used to indicate his own business territory with other Cappi. Clarity got in the passenger seat, and Baggio drove it out of the garage.
“We’re going to follow Mr. Buddha Talk, so that nothing unusual happens.”
They were driving to Moe’s diner for the annual meeting of the Organized Crime Syndicate in South Florida. Baggio threw the unofficial invitation to Clarity in the back seat. Officially, it was simply a business lunch. There was an issue with business and with Mannen.
“Moe wants to discuss where business is headed, the general philosophy of things, things like that.” The car rolled slowly out of the garage.
“You can get out of the car now, Mr. Mannen would like to have you on the entertainment system of the car. Just walk along the car to the entrance, the car camera at the top of the car roof will film you.”
Clarity stepped out of the Jaguar and walked along the car, along the alley of the mansion. The front passenger window lowered and Clarity saw herself walk along the car on a small screen adjusted by Baggio. A miniature thong pink bikini sprung out of the glove compartment towards her. She grabbed the item with one hand.
“That’s for later,” said the driver, “clothing gear for guests. You need a bit of a tan. You can questions, if you have any.” Clarity threw the bikini on the front seat and kept walking along the car.
“I like to swim naked.”
“That won’t be a problem,” said Baggio.
“Who’s Moe?” Asked Clarity.
“Moe Alamy, she owns this diner in Miami called the sprinkler, as in sprinkler of cash. We think Moe Alamy is giving instructions to Di Laure and to other Cappi, indirectly, about business. She’s about eighty years of age. Mr. Buddha Talk is concerned that Moe is getting too much of many things around Florida. He called a general meeting at the diner.”
They were reaching the front metal gate. The door of the Jaguar opened, and she hopped back in the passenger seat. Baggio followed the caravan of black sedans going to Miami, with Mannen in one of them. The driver gave her a name tag, which said ‘Swankeye, general security’. For the first time, sitting inside the Jaguar of Joe Mannen, she felt like a genuine member of Lofty Bank.
The caravan of cars reached Moe’s Diner, a retro-looking restaurant located on Garden Cove Drive-in Key Largo. Mannen got out of Di Laure’s car, and picked up Clarity, leaving Baggio with the other drivers. The various local bosses stepped out of their cars, and walked inside the Diner. Mannen sat down in the middle of a three person booth, after Harvege, one of the Cappis, went in first. To his right, one of the other Cappi, Monfort, moved in. Sitting on the other side of the booth at the far end near the window was Moe Alamy, the owner of the diner. To her left, or to Mannen’s right, in any case sitting beside the old lady, Ambrosio, the retainer of Di Laure, filled in for his boss. Clarity sat beside Ambrosio, after Mannen insisted on it, and showing to the retainer of Di Laure the security tag that Clarity was wearing, which said ‘Swankeye general security’.
“She’s like you Ambrosio, you work for Di Laure, she is part of my own security. You’re here, she can be here as well.”
Ambrosio finally agreed and let Clarity sit beside him reluctantly, while he placed a used ten year map of Florida on the table. Mannen looked at the area of South Florida unfolded by Ambrosio in front of him. In terms of Syndicate business, the counties of Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade belonged to Di Laure. The Keys were neutral territory, because some of the Cappi had local mansions there. As a newcomer, Mannen had a license to operate in the county of Monroe, where there were only swamps, and he’d forged an alliance with Larry ‘Lee’ Harvege, who led the southern counties of the South District, Lee, Hendry, and Collier. Mannen wanted to talk about a more democratic share of the Miami-Dade county business, in effect diluting Di Laure’s stronghold on it, and pushing the man north towards the counties of Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, and Saint Lucie, the county of Fort Pierce, traditionally the turf of Moe Alamy. Sarasota, Desoto, and Highlands, belonged to Mush Revving, a former ostrich meat butcher, and the two counties south of that area, Charlotte and Glades, were led by Harvey Monfort, the posh gentleman of the group, who came from the corporate and residential security sectors in Florida. Mush Revving and Monfort, were pivotal votes, for whatever was decided, and Mannen and Di Laure ensured good terms with both of them.
Clarity looked at Moe Alamy, noticing that she was knitting at a frantic pace. The old lady was half way done with a woolly breast. The knitted breasts were used by expectant moms to learn about breastfeeding, and Moe had come to be appreciated in the local community as a result. As a side result of that line of work, Moe also appreciated the women who received the woolly breasts, before they became expectant moms, often inviting them for a chat on sexual matters, ‘you know, just so that you know about the stuff before you get into it’, according to Moe.
“Nice woolly,” said Ambrosio. Moe stopped knitting, flexing her index.
“Thank you, yeah, not too bad,” said Moe. “Where is Gavino?” She liked to keep her protege near her.
“Mr. Di Laure could not make it to the meeting,” said Ambrosio, “he’s busy at home doing some numbers on the business.”
The ‘business’ of the Cappi at the diner was diversified, but focused on meat distribution and retail sale in South Florida. Some of the Cappi were large meat packers, owning a cattle ranch in the sunshine state, and some, like Di Laure and Moe, were involved in meat distribution and retail sales, providing meat to burger franchises, or owning some of them, like Mclannan’s.
Moe looked at her woolly and returned to knitting. An expert at knitting since age twenty three, the old lady liked to brag that she had more ideas while knitting than any of the Cappi, who were simply busy with washing their black limos, letting others work for them. Her knitting was a space of reflection for her, and the other Cappi reached out to her when things were not going well, to learn about some of the benefits they could derive from learning how to knit on their own. Ambrosio began the meeting by placing the salt shaker used for burgers in the middle of the table.
“You came this time, Joe, thank you for doing that. Last time I needed to write everything down, because I had Lord Moorehead III in the booth, across from me.”
Mannen kept his eye on the salt shaker, an item indicating who was the mobster of all mobsters in South Florida. That man was Di Laure for now, he owned the salt shaker and ruled the others. Mannen said nothing to Ambrosio, knowing that his Great Dane Lord Moorehead III was very good in his role of front man at Lofty. The dog was loyal and it understood nothing about Lofty, so it always did its job well. And the four legged mammal was grateful, when you offered it a good, regular Benebone, its favorite chew bone toy. Mannen liked the fact it did not complain about payroll. Which is why he kept the dog in a lavish living surrounding in Cayman, having built a two bedroom, two bath dog place, with its own label ‘Lord Moorehead home’, atop the entrance. Mannen checked his smartphone, doing a brief search on the web. He was looking around in Florida for a Great Danish female, a dog companion for the Great Dane, to ensure continuity of the dog’s tenure at Lofty, with another dog, namely Lord Moorehead IV, or Lady Moorehead. Mannen wasn’t ruling out having a female dog to act as front person for him at Lofty.
“Glad everyone is here, I called the meeting because the general philosophy of the syndicate is not working that well,” said Mannen, “this idea of adapted socialism put in place by your boss, has some serious limitations.” He was looking at Ambrosio, and so it was clear that he was referring to Di Laure.
“Nothing wrong with how we do things,” said Ambrosio. “Our business philosophy works all right, Joe. You have two cows, you give one to your neighbor.”
“Right, and then?” Asked Mannen.
“You ensure you own both of them, and the neighbor thinks he owns the other. Then, you charge protection to the neighbor to keep the cow or recover the cow, so you can give it to someone else, who can pay for that protection. The alternative, is to collude with your neighbor and get more share of the market, by fixing distribution, prices, supply.”
“Then, you never do the work in general,” said Moe, “we all agree on that.” Lee Harvege nodded, approving the words of the old, shriveled lady, whose wrinkles showing on her face, matched the age and use of the map on the table. Monfort agreed as well, and Ambrosio as well. Mannen was pleased, because something had been agreed at the meeting. A large order of fries was ordered, and the general mood at the table became less tense.
“Adapted socialism adapts to the needs of the people, where people matter, as long as they are below you,” said Ambrosio. “This is what Mr. Di Laure wants you to approve, by signing our general business agreement on meat business in South Florida.”
The retainer of the Miami-Dade chieftain pulled out a piece of paper which had the signature of Mush Revving, Di Laure and Moe on it. There were three blank spaces left for signatures, one for Mannen, and the others for Harvege and Monfort.
“No, I don’t agree with that line of logic,” said Mannen, “it’s flawed, in big ways, Beefonomics does not have reach right now. The idea I am considering has more reach, it makes sense.”
The whole logic of Ambrosio was based on this stupid philosophy that Di Laure used as reference, ideas from a meme circulating among mobsters, called Beefonomics. Mannen pressed on the shriveled edge of the map, placing the salt shaker on the bottom right area to prevent the map from folding on itself. His move altered the frantic pace of Moe Alamy, who stopped knitting her breast. Clarity noticed that the woolly boob was nearly complete, Moe was working on the nipple.
“The general socionomics of the business is somewhat clear now,” said Monfort, “we all understand that, and it works, doesn’t work too bad. What do you propose Joe?” Mannen took a deep breath and opted out of a fry offered by Ambrosio.
“In an era and environment of today, bringing large amounts of disruption, you want something more like adapted bureaucratism. At lofty, we let you know that you have two cows, then we offer you leasing for one of them, to keep the use of it, but give Lofty the property and ownership of the cow. Then, depending on how you work, you’ll be left with the possibility of buying the cow after twenty years, for a dollar or so, or you’ll be left with nothing, if there’s no work or single dollar to pay for the cow. We give the people a sense that they own something, we don’t just charge protection, it doesn’t work, the social environment is changing.”
“What about the other cow? What do you do with it?” Asked Harvege.
“We take the other and milk it, or we use it as front person for the business, just in case something happens with Lord Moorehead. It is relevant to understand how to go about when money is being diluted everywhere. Other things matter today, besides money. The business we do needs to reflect that.” Moe was nearly finished with her woolly breast. She set it aside on the table and brought the salt shaker towards her.
“Well, you won’t get a twenty percent share of Miami-Dade, Joe,” said Moe. “It’s that simple, Gavino owns that area, been owning it for years. You gotta show more value, so that we consider sharing some of our meat business or territory with you. We like prosperity and we don’t see that with your business. We want to own more things. We’ll buy your share in Monroe if you don’t pay attention to it, or keep bothering us with these ideas.” Mannen gave his own view of things to the old lady.
“You should consider lending some money to Lofty or its pawn service in Miami. North Florida Bank has the money to bring about growth in South Florida. I can show you where things are going with money or the financial system. Things are moving around places or areas that are not very good.”
“North Florida is my bank, that’s my bank,” said Moe, “don’t touch my bank. You got problems of your own with Lofty, and in Cayman, don’t come to us to solve those.”
Mannen was not that pleased with the reply of the old lady. He thought about picking up the woolly breast to understand how it was made, but he settled his hand on the salt shaker off the table, moving it on the map of Florida, towards the region owned by Moe, the area between Palm Beach and Martin.
“All right, Moe, I think that you are not quite seeing things as they are, you are looking at what you like to see. Let’s call it a truce, keep things as they are. I may have to go back to Cayman, for other business. Let’s keep talking,” said Mannen.
“All right then, Joe is making sense, no change in market share or the county share for each of the business areas,” said Ambrosio.
Harvege nodded, followed by Monfort. They brought the news to Revving, who was seated behind them, talking with one of the waitresses and how they could meet for a cooking class at the Diner. Revving also agreed to keep things as they were. Mannen attempted to get up and sat down again, realizing he was in a booth, and lacking the space to slide out of the booth. Monfort slid out, followed by Mannen and Harvege. Mannen looked across the table at Ambrosio, who was placing the salt shaker in the middle of it to let everyone know that Di Laure ruled South Florida.
“Tell Gavino I want to talk to him next time, tell him to come by with you and Giacomino,” said Mannen.
Ambrosio nodded, knowing his boss was not on very good terms with Mannen, as a result of a previous dispute about the ownership of the salt shaker. Whoever owned the salt shaker owned the Syndicate business in South Florida, and single ownership by any particular boss was not accepted by Mannen, who wanted more of an assembly rule of things by several persons, not just one.
The chubby guy living in Tavernier left the diner with Clarity and got in the back seat of Jaguar 73. The pretty good car exported from Cuba, was parked in the drive-in area of the diner, with Baggio driving in the front seat. Mannen liked to leave the meetings at the diner first, which is why he bought some burgers from the diner, while the other Cappi stayed for a few drinks at the diner counter, after the meeting. Mannen didn’t want to be that close to his rivals. Besides, there was no Coperini & Onelsen whisky at Moe’s Diner, there was just beer and some bootlegged gin. Moe put out her head from the drive-in booth, giving several bags with burger and fries to Baggio. Sometimes, she did the work herself. The butler pulled the car away from the diner drive-in area, with three burgers and fries on the passenger seat. He offered one pack to Clarity, and another to Mannen.
Mannen kept saying to Baggio and Clarity that Moe Alamy was running the business of Di Laure, and several of the mobster’s ideas. Hiding behind a veil of innocuous knitting, she was denting out at meat procurement and distribution in all of South Florida. Her plan was to own a whole woolly meat distribution breast, spanning all of South Florida. And then, to work on the other woolly part, North Florida, to complete the breast set.
“Looks about right,” said Clarity, “the metaphor is more nurturing, than the actual reality of the plan.”
“Take a look at this, boss, on the rear seat television set. Monfort has just sent me a file, explaining how Taylor found us here in Florida.”
Mannen turned on the rear seat television-screen, and took a look at a satellite map of South Florida, which had been seen by Taylor. The chubby banking agent looked closely at the provider of the images, written at the bottom of the photograph. Cayman authorities had found his home in Tavernier through a company called Aerial Window Stock, an aerial footage company established in Moore Haven, county of Glades. Living in opacity was finished. It was not easy for Mannen to open his generally private living space to others, but it was probably the only way to bring sustainability to business. But his living arrangement at Swankeye in the form of leasing the place to himself, through Lofty Leasing, was private, and no one had the right to be nosey about that. This led him to a task for Clarity, she was going to be part of the entourage of Moe Alamy. He reached for two burgers and fries, and gave one of each to Clarity.
“I want to know where Moe lives. I’ll show you what you have to do. Let’s go back to Swankeye, Baggio.”
The driver looked at the rear view mirror, looking for the large head of his boss in the back seat.
“What do we name this operation boss? I need to put it in the Jaguar general business file, in the general business navigation system of the car.” For Mannen, everything was about understanding general ideas, then others dealt with the details of things.
“Gonna do this with Cocoanomics, this is going to be a Cocoanomics thing, call it cocoa moe,” said Mannen. Clarity ate some fries from the diner, and wondered whether working for Mannen would turn her into a woolly breast item like the ones Moe Alamy liked to knit.
A black sedan picked up Clarity the next day at Swankeye. Clarity rode inside the car of Harvey Monfort, in the backseat, with the local mafia boss seated beside her. The driver took road 27 north and they got to Moore Haven about two hours after leaving Miami. The car stopped in front of a shop which said Aerial Window Stock, your window to Florida. Following indications from Monfort, Clarity walked to the back entrance of the shop. Her task was to find out who’d given the information to Taylor on the location of Swankeye. The back of the shop had a bell. Clarity rang the bell and a guy in his twenties appeared at the door.
“Any jobs here?” Asked Clarity.
“I do video editing,” said Clarity, “you do aerial footage, right?” The man nodded, noticing the nice figure of Clarity. She kept the small talk with the shop employee, commending the breadth of locations served by the footage company, and the quality of the images delivered.
“I can show you around, I suppose,” he said.
The man, named Mason, let her in the shop. The footage pilot was out, filming a residential area of Hillsborough, near Tampa. The owner of the business only came once a week, to check the fuel expenses of the plane, and the locations covered during the week by the pilot. Mason showed Clarity a computer. Most of the business was done online, and clients included real estate agencies, resorts that liked to show their swimming pool and outdoor amenities, and building or construction companies, which showed contractors’ progress in a site. Mason was in charge of keeping tab of the videos requested by customers, and following up on requests, by answering emails, or providing additional information on a particular location. He showed her some footage on the computer, from several magnificent mansions. Feeling thirsty, she asked him to get a drink for her at a gas station, which was across the street.
“I’ll watch the shop for you,” said Clarity.
Mason nodded, wanting to please Clarity and keep her interested in what he was doing for a while. He left the shop and Clarity began to search the computer for client requests in the area of Tavernier. Looking at a list of files arranged by location and date, she could see that someone named Taylor, from the Cayman Islands, had requested the footage of Swankeye home and area, a few weeks earlier. Going to the actual source file folder of the request, Clarity saw that a real estate company in Miami had requested the actual aerial footage of Swankeye on Channel Cay road, a few weeks before the request from Taylor. She closed the files and drank some iced tea, brought by Mason.
“How many pilots do you have doing aerial footage?”
“I bet these guys make a lot of money. They learn to fly in Lykes Palmdale airport or La Belle Muni? I noticed those two airports are around here.”
“Not sure, this guy learned to fly at Aerosam Flight Academy in Sanford, then he moved out of Florida to work for someone in the Cayman Islands. He’s been with us a few weeks.”
“What’s his name?”
“Tarrance.” Clarity thanked Mason and left the shop. Crossing the street, she got back into the car of Monfort, which was waiting for her at the gas station.
“The pilot of the footage company is the former pilot of Mr. Mannen, pretty sure of that.”
“I’ll check on that real estate company you mention,” said Monfort, “it may have been Moe who gave the information to Taylor. She owns several businesses in Miami, besides the diner.”
The driver of Monfort dropped off Clarity at the pawnshop of Mannen, Gladeview Pawnshop, on 27th avenue, north west, in Miami. Monfort was informing Mannen of her findings. She had a couple of hours to fill in, before Baggio picked her up at six pm, to go back to Swankeye. Around five o’clock, a good looking girl in her twenties came into the shop, holding a large fitball in her hands.
“I’m here to pawn the fitball,” said the girl.
“All right, what do you want for the fitball?” Asked Clarity.
“Me, I am getting me in exchange for the fitball. That’s what Mr. Mannen told me to do when I met him at the Foxhole bar the other day.” Clarity checked the back office with one of the cameras, and saw that Mannen was sitting at his desk there, getting in from another entrance in the back.
“So we get the fitball, and you get you, instead of money?”
“Yeah, I get something else, but from Mr. Mannen himself. In his office.”
Her name was Peachy Jordan. Clarity led her to the office of Mannen in the back of the pawnshop. She left Peachy there, and came back to the counter. She looked at the back office camera and saw Mannen was reading a used copy of Cocoanomics. She listened in on the conversation between Mannen and his guest.
“So Peachy, you know we’re going to film this? You wanna do this?” Asked Mannen.
“Yes, I don’t mind that, the cameras are all right.”
“All right, there are cameras everywhere in this shop, including some cameras for me, it’s for our own safety.” He showed her a ceiling camera showing Clarity watching them from the reception area.
“And you don’t mind living in Cayman?”
“No, a bit tired of going about my fitness routines at Club Beaway in South Miami. I want a change of scenery.”
“All right, good, I’ll introduce you to my associate Beverly after this, she’ll explain how things are when you join the group. Let’s go to it. Show me that fitball and you on it. Let’s get you out of those clothes.”
Clarity watched Mannen unclothe, even before Peachy sat on the fitball. He was chubby, very chubby, and he had a sizeable item between his legs. Peachy did not quite describe it as a monster cock, but the words she began to use when she began to handle the item, after handling the fitball, included, ‘wow, that is a lot of material, Mr. Mannen’. After the item of Mannen was ready for additional work, Peachy laid out naked on a table labeled with the tag ‘Lofty secretarial duties’, and Mannen grabbed her legs and one of the feet, placing his index between the foot thumb and index of the girl. Peachy was pleased to pawn her fitball in exchange for owner’s time. She was getting what she wanted, a chance to live with a pawnshop owner. Baggio interrupted the reality pawnshop experience for Clarity.
“Come with me, you got to talk to someone.”
Clarity turned off the camera and walked out of the shop with the driver of Buddha Talk. Baggio locked the pawnshop behind him, leaving Mannen with his guest. They drove inside Jaguar 73 to a Mclannan restaurant in the Keys. Mannen wanted to buy the fifty four locations of Mclannan’s in South Florida, to get into the retail meat distribution business. Her next task was to talk with an informant of Mannen, the official mascot of Mclannan’s, the burger company, Ollie Mclannan, the carrot-hair clown of the company.
Mclannan’s mascot, Ollie Mclannan the clown, was keeping a low profile, in the midst of a flow of guitar-playing, gin drinking clown sightings around the world. The clown of Mclannan’s did not drink or play the guitar, he played around with burger bags, and distributed a few of them for free every month, to those eating at the restaurants. Mclannan’s served alcohol, so the place was open only to adults. The company had yet to make an announcement about how often the carrot-head and red-mouthed mascot, would make appearances in the fifty four locations of Mclannan’s in Florida. Clarity went through the carrot-color arch at the entrance of the Florida Keys location. A silhouette was hiding behind one of the arches.
“Mr. Mclannan?” The head of a clown appeared behind the right arch, holding a bag of fries in his hand.
“You can call me Ollie. Bag of fries?”
“No, thank you, all right, I understand that you are an informant of Mr. Buddha Talk.”
“I used to work at Lofty Bank. Mr. Mannen found me a job at Mclannan’s, after talking to Mr. Di Laure.”
“Please tell him that the franchise of Mclannan should be sold to him, capitulated is actually the term. Mr. Di Laure is a shareholder of Mclannan’s, I believe.” The clown threw the bag of fries to Clarity.
“Yes, Mr. Di Laure, and some other shareholders. But I can’t say that, or ask him about that, I’ll get fired.”
Clarity took a fry from the bag and threw the bag of fries back to the clown.
“Mr. Mannen would like to confirm the events at Milton’s involving his pilot as well. He wants to know who blew the whistle on his pilot about the bonds. He lost one million dollars worth of bonds and would like to recover those.”
“My wife works at Milton’s, I don’t. I can make a call though.”
Ollie called his wife, who confirmed that Di Laure had told the authorities about his pilot and the bonds, after a man named Noddy Jay had been with Mannen’s former pilot at the strip club where the pilot had spent a night, with Ollie’s wife. Clarity inquired about Moe Alamy. According to Ollie, in the last few years, the old shriveled lady had placed in jail about forty five organized criminals going about their business in Florida, avoiding the ‘big bar area’, as Moe called prison. He wasn’t sure whether Moe was a shareholder of Mclannan’s. The clown only knew she had a home in the middle class area of Richmond West in Miami, that not many people had seen. She followed the clown to the restaurant, getting some food. While the waitress was serving the Ollie Burger to her, she noticed Ollie was making a call.
Ambrosio, the henchman of Di Laure, came into the Gladeview pawnshop the following morning, while Clarity was at the counter, attending the shop. The driver of Mannen was out on the street, to get his morning coffee. The retainer of Di Laure looked behind the counter where Clarity was standing, glancing at the smorgasbord of electric guitars, portable boom box equipment, loudspeakers, and television sets offered second hand by the place. He placed his elbows on the glass counter, and turned to Clarity.
“So, you know about this Cayman Gazette thing?”
Clarity shook her head, ignoring the question, offering a pair of watches to the henchman of Di Laure.
“No, never heard of it.”
“We don’t like that kind of publication. We know your boss wants to bring in a new bank here in Miami, and we are not on the same page with that. Mr. Di Laure strongly suggests looking into a different line of business for Mr. Mannen.” Ambrosio looked around the shop.
“Do you have any fitballs? Mr. Mannen told me they came with their own instructors.”
Clarity looked below the counter at the back office camera, and saw Mannen naked, trying out a new position with Peachy, who was naked herself.
“No, our fitballs are pawned for now.” She ventured to ask her own question, to sort of defend the turf of the owner of the pawnshop.
“You selling Mclannan? Not a bad business.” Ambrosio shook his head.
“No, that’s ours, but Mr. Di Laure may end up getting this pawnshop. He wants a pawnshop, and this pawnshop is kinda bothering his own business. Tell Mr. Mannen, that we want to see the statutes of Gladeview here, we want to see the connection of this pawnshop with Lofty.”
The henchman of Di Laure walked out of the shop, and Clarity sighed, relieved that the man had finally left. She called Mannen in his office after his morning routine was finished, and the chubby pawnshop owner appeared at the front counter, leaving Peachy in his office, working on a new sexercise routine for the following day. Mannen went over the facts of the previous day with Clarity, and also over the visit of Ambrosio.
“Ollie made a call yesterday, that’s all I know,” she said. She was sitting on a chair near the counter of the pawnshop, with Mannen walking back and forth, reflecting on what happened the previous day. Outside the pawnshop, Baggio was standing, smoking a cigarette, looking for customers. She read a loose leaf page acting as a bookmark for the Cocoanomics manual. The research written on the sheet by Baggio, found on the pages of mobbingboard, listed the real estate company found in the file of Aerial Window Stock as belonging to Di Laure. The back of the loose leaf listed Moe as a shareholder of Mclannan’s. Mannen looked over the shoulder of Clarity.
“Di Laure brought in the two stooges from Cayman,” said Mannen. “This is not good, don’t trust that guy, Ollie, he probably called Di Laure, and that is probably why Ambrosio showed up today. Then Moe is going to get involved, pretty sure of that. This is the work of Moe. We got to get back at her. This woman is going to get rid of this pawnshop before my own bank begins to work here in Miami. She already sent these nosey guys from Cayman to me, my whole leasing arrangement at Swankeye was in danger. Only my shrewd invitation into the home to Taylor and the other guy, after their call, avoided more questions from them.”
The tenant and ultimate owner of Swankeye called Harvege, inquiring about the services offered to him recently by Moe. The head of meat distribution in the South District, confirmed to Mannen that he’d seen a girl, a college student named Mary Jill, in the last few weeks, sent to him by Moe, to coax him into signing their business agreement, which divided meat packing and distribution areas in South Florida. Mannen looked at several furniture places and told Clarity to go to one of them on Biscayne Boulevard. Before lunch time, Clarity walked into the shop scribbled on a piece of paper, Modali furniture, a chic retailer of household furniture that had a sleek, high-end showroom. The salesman in the shop, Dennis, a former client of Mannen’s pawnshop who’d pawned some furniture in the past, welcomed her. Giving Clarity a tour of the place, Dennis showed her the Brewer, a queen sleeper sofa, sofa, loveseat and chair package. The sofa had tapered cushions, detached back pillows, and reversible beige color seat cushions. The furniture salesman then walked her to the garden area of the shop, showing her several terrace sets with benches and coffee tables. Clarity noticed a wooden front porch swing with comfortable pillows, placed alongside a bar cart.
“All right, not bad, got something a bit more sporty?”
The clerk showed her the Mable Swing, a three spot comfy sofa with lacquered aluminum frame, which looked pretty sturdy. The swing was remotely operated, to adjust the type of swing desired, countryside lullaby, or the more vigorous roller coaster theme park mode, for celebrations, weekends or just more dynamic conversations in general.
“Yeah, this is better, let me see the various modes of it and how it works.” The assistant of Dennis, a man named Charlie, dressed in overalls, in charge of general maintenance, brought the remote to show how the piece of furniture worked. Dennis sat on the swing and Charlie pressed on the remote button, activating the swinging motion. The piece of furniture began swaying gently, in pendular fashion. Dennis gave the go ahead to Charlie to increase the motion, and the assistant focused on the remote. A slight malfunction in the intensity regulator of the remote pulled the swing back three feet instead of one. Looking at his elevated boss, Charlie lowered the intensity back to one, and the swing descended back down, at a remarkable speed. Dennis held on to the cushions of the swing, until the furniture threw him out several feet in the air, by receding all of a sudden, from the bottom of the clerk. The furniture salesman made it past the first table set in front of the swing, landing on a sofa fifteen feet away.
“Not bad,” said Clarity, “this one will do. We need to make a few adjustments, but it will do.”
Clarity reported back to Mannen. The chubby pawnshop owner looked at a few ideas of the Cocoanomics manual, and gave another set of instructions to Clarity. That afternoon, she made a phone call to the number of Moe Alamy that Mannen had given her. Her housekeeper, Chiara, answered the phone. Moe rarely used smartphones, she liked others to do that for her.
“Mr. Harvege would like to send Miss Moe a piece of furniture to her home, in Richmond West, thanking her for the services provided recently to him. Do you have the address please?”
The housekeeper checked the veracity of the information by calling Harvege in his home in Fort Myers. After confirming the gift from Harvege was genuine, she gave Clarity the address of Moe for the delivery of the furniture.
“You can deliver the furniture at 14270 south west 176 street. Miss Moe is going to be there all of next week.” Clarity jotted down the address and thanked the housekeeper.
The following day, Clarity drove with Baggio to the Diner, owned by Moe, in Key Largo. The driver gave her some money and told her a few things about the place. Leaving the driver outside, Clarity walked into the diner and took a seat on a stool at the bar counter. The woman in charge of the place, Donna, was cooking some eggs for one or two customers who were sitting at the booths. Clarity commended the work of Donna, letting her know that she was doing a lot of good work, to keep the place clean and nice for customers. The floor was always very clean. She began to ask some questions about the owner of the place, and Donna began to talk about her boss. According to Donna, Moe Alamy liked to take long walks with her poodle Quincy. She enjoyed lunch at one of the locations of Mclannan’s in Miami, usually getting a well done Ollie burger with a Mclannan’s apple. The Mclannan’s apple of Moe, was half an apple of the Honeycrisp variety, brought in for her, from an orchard in New York. Moe was frugal, and she kept the other half in her pocket, for her own dinner on those days when she visited the burger place.
“She has a home in Richmond West I hear.” Asked Clarity. Donna nodded. Her inclination to gossip was too tempting for her to resist.
“Yeah, she does. If you give me something, I’ll tell you what she does in the home.”
Clarity followed the instructions of Baggio. Never mention the name of Buddha Talk or Mannen, while inquiring on his behalf.
“Mr. Harvege will offer you a nightstand for the bedroom,” she said. She added. “It’s important to keep all of this to yourself.” She handed the waitress five bills of twenty dollars each, amounting to one hundred dollars. Donna placed the bills in her purse, and leaned towards Clarity.
“All right, this is what happens there.”
Donna explained that the home of the old lady in Richmond West was used by Moe Alamy as a place for casting good looking women brought in from the Diner after they’d worked there as waitresses. Moe had her own porn business, socialpornformemoe.me, and the old lady casts herself in the videos she made, telling the newbies brought in that the work paid better than working as a waitress. Before agreeing to go for a casting meeting, the women checked the profile of Moe Alamy online, at Moe.me. Reassured by the fact that the old lady owned a Diner in Key Largo, many women tried out for the porn audition.
“She does this on Wednesdays,” said Donna. “Tuesdays is when she has lunch at Mclannan.”
Clarity thanked Donna and headed back to the Jaguar of Mannen, where Baggio was waiting for her. She hopped in the backseat and turned on the small television set in the back, checking the calendar. In four days, she’d go meet Moe Alamy while she enjoyed her lunch at Mclannan’s.
After a few days of tanning naked at the poolside of Swankeye, Clarity left with Baggio inside Jaguar 73 the following Tuesday. The driver of Mannen left Clarity two blocks away from the restaurant, so that she could walk there without attracting attention. Around eleven thirty, Moe Alamy walked through the doors of the burger place, and sat in a booth, leaving her poodle beside it. She ordered her regular meal and began to read the Miami Herald. From her own booth, sitting a few feet away, Clarity observed her, and got up to talk to her after a few minutes.
“Miss Alamy, could I talk to you for a second?”
Moe Alamy lifted her eyes and recognized Clarity from the Diner.
“You’re with Mannen, right? Staying with him?”
“He does have good taste. You’re very pretty, sweetie.”
Clarity nearly blushed, and at the same time, almost burst out a spontaneous thank you. She wasn’t used to blunt compliments from old ladies. The way she said that felt so good to her.
“Mr. Mannen is all right, but he doesn’t pay that much. I heard you have a side business,” said Clarity.
Moe let Clarity sit beside her in the booth. Leaving the half apple for later, the old lady mentioned the casting call audition to Clarity, as a way to make some money.
“Not sure,” said Clarity. The teleoperator from Malibu looked at the poodle, that was sleeping near the booth. “Do you need someone to walk the poodle? I can do that, while you work on some other things at home.”
The eyes of Moe lit up with that little old lady look, which said she wanted to bring Clarity into her home.
“We can do that. You can reflect on what I told you and what I do. Why don’t you come into my home tomorrow, in the morning, I’ll be in my home doing some things. My housekeeper will pick you up at Swankeye at nine thirty.”
The housekeeper of Moe, Chiara, picked up Clarity at Swankeye the next day, in a Chevrolet Spark, and drove her to the middle class home of Moe in Richmond West. The residential house was a renovated one floor home painted in a soft peach color, with a front porch, and a two car driveway. The three bedroom home was pet-friendly, and also had a pleasant s-curved, Florida tile adobe color roof. It rented for about two thousand dollars a month, which is what Moe was paying the person owning the home. It was about ten in the morning. Chiara picked up the poodle and spoke with Clarity on the front door mat of the home, which said Hey Sweetie, come in.
“Walk Quincy for twenty minutes,” said Chiara. “Miss Alamy is with someone in her bedroom, a girl named Haley. She’ll be finished around eleven thirty in the morning. Her flexibility instructor is coming this afternoon. I have to go do some errands.”
Clarity walked the poodle of the old lady for about half an hour and came back to the lawn of the home. Chiara went to do some errands around ten thirty in the morning, driving the Chevrolet Spark parked on the driveway of the home. The two furniture men from Modali came ten minutes later, to deliver the swing to Moe.
Clarity had the remote of the swing in her vest. She had paid an additional one hundred dollars to the furniture salesman, so that Moe would not be informed that the swing worked with a remote. While Moe was taking care of Hayley in her bedroom, Clarity instructed the delivery guys to put the swing on the porch of Moe’s home, facing the open street, and also facing a ten foot rubble container delivered the day before in front of Moe’s lawn by the moving and storage company of Harvege. After about forty minutes, the swing was installed and ready to work.
“Thanks guys, take it easy,” said Clarity. She gave the two men a generous tip of one hundred dollars, provided by Harvege.
At eleven thirty, Moe finished her audition, letting Hayley out of the bedroom. The girl, a cute supermarket cashier with long brown hair, beamed a smile, receiving a stack of five hundred dollars in twenty dollar bills, which paid for her time naked with the old lady.
“Come back next week, I’ll show you a few more things.” Hayley nodded and walked out of the home, leaving Clarity with Moe. The old lady took a good look at Clarity.
“Hi, you are here, taking care of Quincy?”
“Yes, Chiara left to do some errands.”
“Would you like to try the audition next week, honey? Hayley will be there as well, she needs to pay for some of her college books, which are expensive. She did all right today. Got completely unclothed for me.”
The look of Moe was so mischievous that Clarity began to understand the versatility of her talent and the tenacity of her personality. The old lady held on to her ideas, like a dog that did not let go of someone’s pants. Moe persevered with everything she did, and that’s how she got her way. Clarity looked at a framed photo on a sideboard, showing the poodle gnawing at the leg of a Domino’s Pizza delivery person.
“I’ll think about it,” said Clarity.
“Think about it, sweetie.”
“All right, you can go ahead and relax out on the porch, it’s a nice day,” said Clarity. “A furniture shop delivered the new swing. I’ll feed Quincy.”
“All right, good.”
The old lady walked out into her terrace and sat on the new swing to read the newspaper. Clarity reached for a cane color pet bowl made by Mason Cash inside a kitchen cabinet, and placed it on the wood floor of the kitchen. She poured a good amount of Royal Canin dog food for adult poodles, and brought the small dog of Moe to the bowl. Leaving the dog to its lunch, she walked silently out of the kitchen, into the living room area. She reached for the inner pocket of her vest, laid out on a sofa, and took out the remote of the swing. She peeked into the lounge area, and saw Moe sitting on the swing, in the porch terrace, reading the pages of a local newspaper.
Forty feet away, there was a large ten foot long, eight foot high rubble container filled with cardboard boxes. The container had been brought the day before by the moving and storage company of Harvege. Officially, the company was recycling cardboard boxes from various neighborhoods, and it was stopping at Richmond West for a few days. The housekeeper of Moe had been informed of it, and Moe saw nothing unusual, ignoring the item came from Harvege.
Clarity looked at the remote knob, which looked like a traditional cooking timer. The intensity of the swing engine had been revved up to a possible ten, versus the previous six that Clarity had seen at the furniture store. She raised the level of the knob to one, and the swing began to sway gently. Moe swayed along, enjoyed the nice, swaying motion. Clarity raised the level of the knob to three, and the swing amplitude widened, going up slightly higher than before, before making its way down.
Moe kept with it, comfortable, but her eyes slightly more open, kind of surprised by the new pace of the swing. Sensing a good time, Clarity raised the knob to ten. The swing began moving up and down a lot more amplitude, raising Moe a good six feet in the back of the swing, before going back down and up again another six feet in the front of the swing. The old lady kept with the motion, and her eyes widened even more. After the third up and down motion, when the swing moved upwards and reached apex, Clarity turned the remote knob to ten, the kick and stop button mode, sending Moe out thirty feet in the air, towards the container.
The newspaper flew out of the old lady’s hands, while Moe’s body curled into a kind of fetal position, and turned around in the air. After an improbable kind of summersault that Clarity saw with her own eyes, the old lady landed feet first in the container with a loud thump, swallowed by several large cardboard boxes that covered all of her body.
“That should keep you there for a while,” said Clarity.
Leaving the knob back in her vest, she moved to the bedroom of the old lady, closing the door behind her. She walked on the wood floor of the bedroom, rubbing her hands on the blue quilt of Moe, laid out on her bed. A camera tripod with a large camera on it was placed beside the door. The computer screen showed a photograph of Hayley naked on her back, and legs folded behind her head.
Harvege had told her to look for a poster tube inside the bedroom, where Moe kept the information regarding her safe deposit box at North Florida Bank. Inside the box, according to the Hendry and Collier boss, there was one million dollars, in money, in large bills, or in bonds, U.S. treasury bonds. Mannen wanted Clarity to get that money from Moe, the person who had told Di Laure to tell the feds that his former pilot was holding a large amount of bonds belonging to him. Those bonds had been recovered from Clarity and Flower by Tarrance for safekeeping, but a police officer alerted by Di Laure, had found them, on the pilot, at Milto ‘s, and taken them into custody, creating problems for Mannen, and for Clarity, because they had been stolen from a vault in New York. While Clarity was doing some work for him, Mannen was making calls to meat distributors, selling them on some of the ideas he was finding in Cocoanomics.
Clarity peeked inside the closet of the old lady, finding only clothes and shoes. There was no trace of a poster tube anywhere. She kept looking at the bedroom, raising her thinking to a more general level. She looked at the night table and found a book labeled Australian Business Principles on it. She grabbed the book and lifted the cover, reading the first sentence. You have two cows, business seems all right. You close the office and go to the bar for a beer to celebrate. She closed the book and noticed a bouquet arrangement of white and yellow flowers on the night table. Poster tube, mmmh.
There were eight or ten stems, with flowers blooming out of each stalk. One of them was green-colored, but felt different, like some type of metal. The stem was fake, the flower was fake as well, it was made of a soft plastic shaped as a flower. The stem was also thicker, nearly half an inch in diameter. She took out the fake stem from the vase, noticing an indenture, mid way. The inside of the stem was hollow, holding another tube inside, made of hard plastic. Carefully, she took the second tube out of the stem. The tube was about four inches long. It was a plastic hollow cylinder, covered with a rubber stopper. She could see a sheet of paper rolled inside. She popped out the stopper and pulled out the sheet with her finger.
She unrolled the sheet and saw two on one side. One serial number, probably the number of the safe deposit box, had a three digit sequence, two seven eight, that was the number of the box. The other piece of information was a rectangular matrix with four pairs of columns and eight rows, one column labeled number, and the other access code, a total of thirty two, four digit numbers, each corresponding to a different access number provided by the bank vault access system of North Florida Bank in Miami. One of them was requested each time the customer wanted access to her vault deposit box at the bank. That’s where Moe was keeping her ‘under the bed’ money, actual cash.
Clarity took out her smartphone, and made a photograph of the matrix and all the four digit numbers. She checked the picture, ensuring all the information could be read properly. She placed the sheet in the plastic tube, and also put the stopper on it. She inserted the tube into the stem and placed the fake flower and stem back in place, in the vase. She called Chiara, who was in a nearby supermarket, getting some food.
“There was a problem with the swing, Miss Moe is in a container on the street, she needs some assistance I think.”
“I’ll be there in a few minutes.” Ten minutes later, the Chevy Spark parked on the driveway of Moe’s home. Clarity walked towards the housekeeper.
“Where is she?” Asked Chiara.
“Over there.” Chiara ran to the container and spoke into it.
“Yes, here Chiara, been trying to find my smartphone, I think I’m all right. Get me out.”
Clarity called a cab and said goodbye to the housekeeper when the taxi stopped in front of Moe’s home. Chiara was not tall enough to get inside the container. She was calling the local fire truck.
“The poodle is in the kitchen. Thank you for letting me do this. I’ll get back to Miss Moe, if I go ahead with her offer.”
Chiara nodded and placed a garden ladder on the container to rescue the old lady inside, while the cab of Clarity drove away.
Clarity looked at the lights of the Miami skyline across the main channel, from her comfortable seat at Smith & Wollensky, the sidewalk cafe on South Beach. Nuzzled at the southern tip of Miami Beach, overlooking Government Cut, the vast steakhouse offered an affordable menu of salads and flatbreads, but the million dollar view was one of the reasons people went there to eat. Clarity took a sip of her peach juice with ice, and glanced at the immense waterfront where a massive cruise ship was passing by, on its way to the sea. The southern tip of the city offered a particular charm, a quality of elegance and a slower pace, which made everyone there feel as though they were on vacation. Across from her, Joe Mannen was chewing on some flatbread, reading a few articles on the cocoa market, which were bringing him additional insight as to how it worked, and how he could apply some of that, to his Cocoanomics configuration of entering the South Florida organized crime territory. Connecting and understanding the environment, to deal with disruption in a market or business, was another idea from the manual that he was using.
“Did Moe do anything?” Asked Clarity.
“She’s called Harvege, told him about the malfunction of the swing. She scolded the guy for half an hour, telling him he wouldn’t get any more girls from her. She needs his approval on the general business agreeement, so she’s not going to do anything else. I’ve closed the pawnshop for now, Baggio is simply watching it during the day.”
Clarity looked at the sun setting west, enjoying the last few rays of natural light.
“Is anyone else coming?” Asked Clarity.
“Yes, we got to go over the money for the new business.”
Clarity ignored what the new business was, but she knew it had to do with buying out Mclannan’s from Moe Alamy and Di Laure, and she also knew that the new business was going to be in South Florida.
“And the part for me about North Florida Bank?”
“That’s different, that’s a credibility issue.”
“Credibility?” Clarity was learning how Cappi worked.
“You’re going to the bank with the safe box information from Moe, to get my money back. All the Cappi in South Florida need to see I got my credibility back, before backing me here, after I lost that one million dollars as a result of a tip from Di Laure and Moe Alamy.”
“What am I getting in return for all of this? Can we talk about crashworthy compensation?”
“We can, but not today, I want a few more things done. I might be able to find a real estate position here for you in Miami as an agent maybe.”
That sounded as astoundingly little, for all the risk Clarity was taking, and all the work she was doing. And it was more work, not really a reward. She turned the topic of conversation to the following task for her.
“What do I have to do, at North Florida Bank, how am I going to get in?” She asked.
“Harvege is giving us a hand, he has one account at the North Florida branch on Alton Road, where Moe keeps her ‘just in case, nice pile of cash’ money.”
The chubby guy gave her a piece of paper, signed by Harvege, authorizing Clarity to access his deposit box. She would simply have to open the box of Moe Alamy, instead of Harvege’s safe box, using the info found in her bedroom. Mannen looked at his round-faced watch, a just walking by item which counted the steps he made, when he wanted the watch to count them. The smartwatch did not tell the time, and was compatible with Android Wear. It included a digital dial orange-yellow colored rim, which indicated completion of any project you were considering. Four blocks out of the ten blocks of operation cocoamoe were being completed or had been tackled pretty well. A stocky guy dressed in a business suit walked by, throwing a brief look at Mannen, before sitting with them on the same table. He made a sign to the waiter and ordered a Centenara cocktail, made with gin, Meldozan Malbec wine syrup, and a bitter orange zest, which completed the various layers of flavor.
“Clarity, this is Mitchell Eiesland, he is one of my golf course prospectors.”
“Hi,” said Clarity.
The golfers from Lofty which had disappeared, according to the monetary authorities of Cayman, over one thousand, were actually business investors working with Lofty, people who bought assets in liquidation shown in the Cayman Gazette, the publication which Mannen examined closely every couple of weeks. Those golfers liked anonymity, and preferred to do business and give their approval to Lofty while playing golf on golf courses.
“Got the valuations for Mclannan?” Asked Mannen.
“Yes, we may be able to get investors for twenty four locations of Mclannan’s, not fifty four. All of them South Florida restaurant locations, they’re profitable, we checked that. Got the investors from people interested in some of the liquidations of the last gazette you read.”
“All right, how much you wanna offer?” Asked Mannen.
“One point two million dollars for each place, on average, it includes a thirty five thousand dollar franchise fee to join the network of Mclannan’s, the service fee at three percent of gross sales, and then present value of annual profit of each franchise for ten years. Locations are in good areas, there are a few gas station and convenience store locations, prime locations, and satellites, in places like shopping centers, University of Florida, airport, etc. We can come out with a total of thirty three million six hundred thousand dollars. Need about twelve million additional, to refurbish for the new business, puts us at forty five point six million dollars.”
Mannen began to eat his large steak, while Clarity ate a lighter chicken salad seasoned with a few sun dried tomatoes and avocado. Mannen told Eisland to prepare a financing vehicle in Cayman, called Oakland Capital, that would be used to buy the twenty four Mclannan locations, which would give him an entry into the South Florida meat retail market.
“Issue some notes for the golfers, five year notes, renewable. Give them five percent interest, plus capital plus twenty percent at maturity, after five or six years. Put Lofty Capital as arranger. We’re missing twelve million then?”
“Yes, more or less,” said Eiesland.
“Get Beverly and Somerset on that in Cayman,” said Mannen, “I’ll go to George Town if there is a problem with the vehicle. It’s new, so there shouldn’t be any problems with authorities or the vehicle indenture.”
After a good dinner, they moved to the waterside bar for a drink. Mannen was deciding on the time Clarity would go into North Florida Bank. After sipping some Coperini & Onelsen whisky with Coca Cola, he turned to the girl with light brown hair.
“You’re going end of day to North Florida Bank, tomorrow, just before it closes. Baggio will drop you off.”
The next day, around four thirty, before North Florida Bank branch on Alton Road in Miami Beach closed its doors half an hour later, Clarity approached the bank teller in counter three.
“I’d like to access a safe deposit box, on behalf of someone,” said the girl with light brown hair from Malibu.
“Got some kind of authorization?“Clarity nodded.
She gave the teller a piece of paper signed by ‘Lee’ Harvege, authorizing Clarity to access his box in the vault of the bank. The bank teller, a woman named Miranda, made a call, to a phone number given to the bank, by Harvege, which ensured the person requesting and the request were bona fide.
“Take the elevator on the right, press second basement button, it’ll take you there. When you’re finished, get back inside the elevator and type the number of your safe deposit box. There’s a phone connected with us, if there is a problem.”
Following directions, Clarity entered the elevator and went down two floors to reach the vault of the bank. The place showed about three hundred safe deposit boxes aligned in several rows. She was hoping the cameras would not notice that the number of the box she was going to open, was the box of Moe Alamy, not of Harvege. She looked for box two seven eight, and pressed the lock ignition key. The digital interface screen on the box requested a four digit number associated with one of the numbers on the matrix card. Clarity looked at the snapshot of the access info in her smartphone, and typed in the associated number. The safe deposit box of Moe Alamy snapped open, and Clarity looked inside it. There was a brooch and a pile of paper which looked like bills. Calmly, she grabbed the pile of bills, and looked at them. They were U.S. treasury bonds, maturing in 2045, amounting to a total of three million dollars. Clarity took one million dollars in bonds, and placed the rest of the stack inside the deposit box. After getting back up to the ground floor of the bank, she waved at the bank teller and exited the place.
She went into a nearby sushi bar, and ordered some iced tea, until Baggio picked her up around six pm. The following day, Mannen received a message from Moe Alamy, calling all South Florida Cappi for a new sprinkler meeting, that afternoon, in an empty building on South Beach, a few blocks away from the North Florida Bank branch. Cameras at North Florida Bank had spotted Clarity opening the box of Moe Alamy, and the branch manager had called the old lady. Moe had gone to check the box, and found one million dollars in bonds missing. Mannen was spreading the word of his recovery to the other Cappi, sending snapshots of the bonds to the Cappi’s Mobbagram accounts, their opaque, deep web alternative to the more sociable Instagram.
Clarity walked along with Mannen to a low rise building offering office space for lease. Harvege was already there. A few minutes later, Moe Alamy came in, with Ambrosio behind her, and the sleek, whitish-haired Gavino Di Laure by her side. Charming, not stupid, and stylish, the sixtyish South Florida mob boss shied away from direct confrontation, by usually coming up with a different topic of conversation, or making a subtle or a simple joke. He was known as il Notaio, ‘the notary’, because he liked to be involved in property transfer contracts, and often mediated between buyers and sellers of office buildings or businesses. Standing a respectable five foot eleven, Di Laure was also known as a playboy. When Mush Revving and Monfort came in, everyone sat around a big round table.
“We’re calling off the truce Mannen,” said Moe. “There is going to be a distribution war in South Florida, because of what you have done.” She glared at Harvege, and at Clarity. Moe moved towards Clarity and took off the ‘Swankeye security’ sign from her sweater. She wanted Clarity to leave Miami. Mannen kept calm, knowing he had made Moe angry. When the old lady was angry, she thought less well.
“My assistant is staying Moe, she is doing good work here, and is in charge of fitball orders at the pawnshop. I’ve done nothing but doing things which legitimize my proper place here and my proper assets. We want Cocoanomics to rule South Florida, in terms of the outlook for everyone.” Moe Alamy shook her head.
“No, Beefonomics has ruled South Florida for the past thirty five years. It’ll keep ruling the way we do things. Ambrosio is going to check your pawnshop, I know you got my money.”
“You brought in Taylor and the other guy from Cayman, it’s creating a lot of problems for me. You gave me Monroe for business, where there’s nothing but the Everglades. I want some business in South Florida where there’s people.”
Harvege sided with Mannen, and Monfort waited to show his view, until Revving had done so. The former meat butcher sided with Moe Alamy and Di Laure. Monfort remained undecided, seeing Mannen was not completely backed by other Cappi. Di Laure gave a nod to Moe, and tried bribery as usual.
“We’ll reduce protection for you, Joe, you can get some affordable office space for a new pawnshop.” Mannen reflected for a few seconds, before giving an answer to the white-hair local boss.
“No, there’s only one pawnshop that matters in Miami, it’s Gladeview. The reason it has value is that there’s only one of them.”
Clarity looked at the screen showing the camera of the pawnshop reception area, to ensure no customer was there to pawn anything. Using Mannen’s computer, she got into a deep web area that Mannen used to get information no else provided. She scanned one of the bonds taken from the vault of Moe Alamy, and sent the scan to a bond location crawler, to check on the serial numbers showing on the bonds. The answer from the crawler came as sold through genuine intermediaries, not stolen. Continuing her search, Clarity found out that the bonds came from a private outfit in New York, indirectly associated with the New York Fed, owned by Kailash Hills, a private vault company from New Delhi in India. The vault of the Federal Reserve of New York held over five hundred thousand gold bars, eighty feet below street level, held by banks, institutions, and wealthy individuals. Not completely reassured by the international banking system, some people decided to leave their valuables, including bonds, or gold, with a private vault company, outside the banking system.
Clarity looked at another folder in the computer, which said federal bonds. In it, there was a snapshot of one of the bonds previously owned by Buddha Talk, given to him in exchange for the gold bar of Lady Fortuna, bonds that were held by federal authorities. She put the bond scan in the crawler, and the system came back with the comment ‘stolen from the New York Fed vault, from a prominent family of bankers, during a visit on a bank holiday’. She dialed the private number of Mannen, who was at Swankeye making calls to his new pilot.
“The bonds of Moe are not stolen,” said Clarity, “the ones whistled to the authorities by Di Laure were stolen apparently, during a bank holiday.”
She ended the call and got back to the front reception counter of the pawnshop. About an hour later, Ambrosio came in with Giacomino behind him, pushing an aluminum platform trolley.
“Moe told us to come here, to ensure you wouldn’t be working here anymore.”
“I like to work here. Mr. Mannen decides that. I take care of his fitball matters.”
Ambrosio rubbed his cheek, thinking he was missing something, with this idea of the fitballs. He lifted his index and his companion pushed the trolley close to one of the showroom walls of the shop. Giacomino looted one whole shelf of the pawnshop in less than ten minutes, loading several items on the cart, including a roof rack, three electric guitars, several handbags, two laptops, a used dishwasher, and five digital cameras. The message to Mannen was to close the pawnshop.
“Tell Mr. Mannen that we’ll come back in a few days,” said Ambrosio, “to get more items here. We want the pawnshop closed.”
“All right, I’ll tell him. You’re not creating any jobs, you know,” said Clarity. In fact, they were putting her out of a job. She saw the henchman of Di Laure close the door, and then she began to think about a few suggestions given to her by Mannen, which came from the Cocoanomics manual. One of them, was carve your own place, even if it’s small. Her place at the pawnshop was getting smaller with each day. She had no belongings, except for a tablet, and very little money. The other suggestion of the manual was to turn salt into sugar, the idea that you could make something favorable, out of something else, which was not particularly good. Place problems in the area of normality, was another suggestion, things happen. She placed a handbag dropped by Giacomino on the empty shelf of the shop. Apparently, there was a way of transforming the visit of Ambrosio into something good, or not bad.
After the incident, Mannen decided to send Clarity out of Miami for a day or two, to keep the other Cappi siding with Moe unaware of his plans. He also left South Florida for a few days, leaving from Vero Beach airport, in order to gather additional funds in Cayman for his new finance vehicle, and also to talk to investors about his new business. He was also going to George Town in order to get the vehicle memorandum in place, the two hundred page document that authorities in Cayman requested for every new money vehicle created.
Clarity heard the honk of Jaguar 73 outside the pawnshop. She closed the shop and hopped in the back seat of the car, letting Baggio drive her through highway 75, to a golf course in Polk County, officially in North Florida. As they drove through the Florida highway, she turned on the backseat television-screen to get instructions from the chubby guy. Mannen shot some video with his ideas at times, and then asked others to do what he said in the video, without always talking to people directly. As the large face of Mannen showed up on-screen, Clarity adjusted the volume knob of the tv set to hear the banking agent talk. The task of Clarity was to talk to one of the golfers associated with Lofty, a guy named Perkins, who had seen the franchise disclosure document of Mclannan’s, a few months earlier, as a potential investor. Perkins knew about the franchise flagship and most secret location, the place where the company held its order information system. Once Clarity had gathered all the relevant information, her task was to get hired at that Mclannan’s location, in order to understand how the information system worked, in particular the meat ordering module.
They reached the Evanston golf and country club about three hours later. Clarity stepped out and took a clean, fresh breath of air, seeing the lakeside lodge and clubhouse of the facility. Using people like Eiesland as a go-between, Mannen had a network of potential investors for his ventures, who were members of the top golf clubs in Florida, places like the Normandy Shores on Biscayne Bay, the Breakers in Palm Beach, the North Palm Beach Country Club, Tiburon in Naples, Pontevedra Inn and Club, Waldorf in Orlando, and Osprey Point in Boca Raton. Over one hundred golf courses, country clubs and resorts, in Florida were among the places where the golfers associated with Lofty liked to play golf or stay for a few weeks during the year, to talk with people like Eiesland. Evanston was one those country clubs and it was the favorite club of Perkins.
The lodge of Evanston included more than one hundred rooms, two casual and elegant dining restaurants, a bar, and a grotto-style spa. Evanston had a few scenic areas without city lights, which allowed for clear views of starlight, from some of its lounges. Baggio got two separate rooms, and gave her a Callaway bag of golf clubs to use with Perkins, a man in his fifties, who’s made his fortune as a contractor. She worked as golf Caddie for the Lofty investor during a day or two. Officially, she was replacing Mitchell Eiesland to provide information to Perkins on the new vehicle set up by Mannen.
“Are you interested in Oakland?” She Asked. She handed him an iron, not having a clue of how golf worked.
“I’ll use a driver, thanks. Going after Mclannan’s?” Perkins grabbed a driver from the bag to shoot his first shot from the tee to a bush next to the fairway.
“Yes, twenty four locations or so,” she said. They drove in the golf cart to the place where the ball had landed.
“All right,” said Perkins, “I might chip in about five hundred thousand dollars. I got some figures from Eiesland that he sent, the return is not too bad.”
“We do need something which may help get things off the ground,” said Clarity.
She handed the golfer and investor a utility golf club, that Perkins used to get back on the fairway. His third shot landed him on the green. As they rode the golf cart to the green, she asked him about the flagship location of Mclannan’s in Florida, saying that Mannen wanted to improve its information system once he bought some of its locations. The chubby guy who was a resident of Cayman, just didn’t want to reinvent the wheel when it came to handling data, or any kind of information.
“It’s in Manalapan,” said Perkins, “about half an hour from Boca Raton. Flagship of Mclannan’s is there, they keep the list of ingredients for the Ollie burger, and keep the servers of the franchise information system. Mclannan’s University is near that place, in Boynton Beach. It’s where they hire and train employees.”
Clarity placed the golf bag on the green, watching Perkins make a put. After enjoying a few drinks at the clubhouse, she went back to her room, to jot the information from the golfer. She had the information Mannen was requesting. And she also had a way to get hired at Mclannan’s. The next day, she had a good breakfast, and went out in her swimsuit, to relax at the country club timber frame pavilion beside the pool. A few plants and palm trees gave the pool a tropical setting. The beam trusses of the pavilion sat on a set of composite style columns, which together provided shelter and shade for club members. She took a seat in one of the tables, sitting next to Perkins, who was drinking fresh orange juice.
“I’m working a lot,” she said. “Sometimes I think I should ask for a raise.”
“Mannen works people, I know. You should ask him to get you a home in Florida. Not a bad place to live.” Clarity was caught off-guard by the answer.
“That’s expensive, I don’t have a lot of money.”
“Pay for it over time, make an arrangement with him.”
Clarity took note of the idea. She’d never thought of owning a home, much less in a place like Florida. The place in Malibu where she lived was a rent. It would take her years to pay for any home. On the other hand, it was not a bad way to frame her crashworthy arrangement with Lofty. She got up and took a swim in the pool, before getting back to her room and pack a trolley that Baggio had gotten for her. Manalpan was listed as one of the most expensive cities in Florida. It was not a bad place to go, after Evanston. Before that, she had to get hired by Mclannan’s, and go through training at OBU, Ollie Burger University.
Clarity walked past the large entrance sign of the building in Boynton, which said ‘Ollie Burger University’, OBU. Below that, another sign said ‘Mclannan’s training center’. Cora, a woman clothed in traditional Mclannan’s green and yellow short sleeved shirt, welcomed her. A life-size statue of Ollie the clown made with stucco, or plaster, seated on the same bench at the counter next to the clerk, was placing its arm behind the woman, to keep her company. The eyes of the statue looked up, indicating to Clarity that she had to look up at the basic ‘Ollie facts’ and ‘Ollie Menu’ sheets. The life-size statue was articulated like a puppet. She felt kind of dependent on Ollie, because the clown had a veneer of social legitimacy, it was to some extent more legitimate in society than her. It was not a healthy relationship, for the statue did not provide her with a way to leave Miami, without going to jail, or told her a way to avoid officer Gomes either.
The teleoperator from Malibu grabbed a company fact sheet on the counter. The sheet indicated the basic motto of the franchise, ‘something is cooking’, and the fact that Ollie the clown was named the official mascot from the beginning of the company years earlier. The sheet listed the various aspects of the business, which made it unique, quality, service, and consistent cooking, ie, the idea that a burger had to look like one well done burger every single time. The basic Ollie burger was a well done burger with green pepper and onions. Then, variations were thrown around that, allowing for red pepper, or yellow pepper, to go with the burger. And no, you could not order the burger medium, or rare, the burger had to be well done, or then, no burger. The company was strict on this, for the oven used at Mclannan’s was cheaper than other fast food ovens, and cooked the burger very fast. The secret ingredient of the Ollie burger was the type of onion used. Nobody knew exactly who was the provider of the Ollie burger onions.
Over the years, additional menu items had appeared on the basic Ollie burger and fries Ollie menu. The Ollie Pizza, was a failed pita bread item, similar to some kind of pie. Then, there was the Spam wham Ollie pan, a breakfast item cooked with spam oil, rice, and cheese. Mclannan’s favored the nutritious breakfast over the light breakfast. A real hand coming from behind the statue of Ollie handed her the official green and yellow uniform of the restaurant company.
“Are you an adult?” Asked Cora.
“I’m twenty five, yes.”
“Mclannan’s serves alcohol, it’s a restaurant for adults. All right, what would you like to do here?”
“All right, general cooking, cleaning and handling of location furniture, clown management, deferred compensation scheme for employees? There is a position in Brevard County as clown coordinator, which is available.”
“No, I’d like to work in the Manalpan location.”
“Well, you can give it a try,” said Cora, “that’s very difficult.”
The articulated stucco arm of Ollie the clown reached around the shoulder of the clerk, offering its sympathy to the lady giving indications to Clarity at the counter. Clarity thanked Cora and followed twenty eight other trainees inside the main training room.
Training lasted several days. The head of training at OBU was Charlie Pan, a guy in his fifties with a mustache brought in from Benihana, who had no clue about making burgers. His specialty was cooking meat on a flaming grill, and then throwing the meat from the grill into the right plate of customers seated around the grill table. But his lack of knowledge regarding burger making, boosted morale of all trainees, and so the company had kept him as a valued asset.
Charlie showed the green and yellow flags of failure that the company used, one for failing the fact sheet theory test, the other for failing the practical test. He reassured everyone by saying no worries. Failure was part of Mclannan’s, and it was one of the reasons why eighty percent of all trainees, actually failed the training course. Failure was no problem, though, because Mclannan’s employees were known to be expendable. The ‘near employees’ who failed the training course with flying colors, namely after having been shown the green and yellow flags, were asked to apply for clown related positions at the company, or at other green or yellow logo color companies, such as John Deere or the Yellow pages, or at Hertz. Charlie gave trainees who passed both tests, a bag of fries, to let them know they could become workers at a burger location of the company.
After passing theory, Clarity moved on to the practice rooms, where trainees had to go through three particular exercises, bun recognition, fry safety, and meat cooking and pepper placement preparation. The bun recognition stand allowed trainees to pull out plastic buns as they rolled past them on a conveyor belt, among a variety of items, all made with plastic, such as a plastic bag of fries, separate fries, without the bag, salad leaves, and the traditional ducks of the duck stand. A trainee could not mistake a bun for a burger, or for Ollie the clown. A miniature replica of the clown appeared once in a while on the conveyor belt, to ensure trainees understood it was the mascot, and that it had some limitations. Ollie was a clown, and it could do nothing else outside of that. In particular, it could not think out of the box, whether it was a box of fries, or a box with a burger in it.
The second test was not as picnic-related as bun recognition. Clarity held a bag of fries and began her fry safety test. Fry safety involved eating a fry, to ensure the fry was good, before giving each bag of fries to customers. As long as the fry was good, the other fries would probably be good, no further testing was required, and the customer got the bag. She ate a fry, and the fry was good, so she passed the exam with ease. She moved on to the last test, the pepper placement exam. Surrounded by four other trainees, she was fastest among the four of them, at placing the green pepper on a cooked burger, and at placing the top bun on the pepper over the burger before others did that with some other bun. No green pepper could enter the burger after a green pepper was placed on the meat, and so the trick was to reach for the top bun with one hand, while the other hand was used to lay out the pepper on the burger. It was things like these, which allowed Clarity to move past the training hurdles of Mclannan’s.
After several days consisting of bun recognition task variations, like showing a bun with sesame seeds on it with her finger, the official training ended. An assistant of Charlie Pan handed Clarity her diploma of graduation, featuring the classic Ollie Burger, the date, and the signature of Charlie Pan, certifying that Clarity had completed the basic orientation training course, and was granted the Bachelor degree of burgerology. The text said ‘Well done! Like the burger. You and the burger made it to one of our centers’. The following day, Clarity queued to see Cora and get her assigned location for work at the burger company.
“You’d like to work in our Manalpan location? That’s impossible, nobody works there right off, only our best employees work there. You need the honoris clown degree.”
Those were big words. Getting the job of mascot at Mclannan’s, was the least straightforward job to get, the least accessible, the least easy. All other degrees came below the clown degree. Clarity insisted to Cora on going to work at Manalpan, and Charlie Pan came out of an ‘Ollie facts’ class to listen to her plea.
“All right, I am not saying you did not qualify,” said Charlie. “You may qualify, but you have to know very few employees work there. Everybody wants to work at Manalpan, because it’s a nice area. You’ll have to take our Tiffany Lamp test for bright employees. The test comes out of our disliking of Mensa, the elitist, isolationist, self serving organization, which thinks that intelligence actually comes from doing crossword puzzles, sitting around a table, and that no one else but them, are intelligent. They do nothing for the community. We think that anyone can be intelligent, on your own or with others, so we’ll provide you with an opportunity to do that.”
Charlie led Clarity to a testing room, empty but for a table and chair. The training official took the chair and sat down, leaving Clarity standing. A projector lit up a slide in front of her, depicting Ollie the clown.
“This is the smile endurance test,” said Charlie, “two hours, your smile should be close, but not quite as overt as the smile of Ollie.”
“I can do that, I think,” said Clarity.
“Hold on, not finished, there is more. The smile can be nice, not arrogant, not excessive, genuine, friendly, humble, easy, pleasant, not fake, smug, then not smug, simply plain, not like Ollie smile, he got his own smile, then look over there at the selfie, and then, smile as though you are back to work, relaxed, focused, ready to work, with the mind set on the burger to cook or the bag of fries to hand out.”
Focusing on emulating increasingly minute feature expressions indicated by additional slides of the clown, which got smaller and smaller on-screen, Clarity reached the end of the two hours somewhat comfortably. She’d simply been herself, without actually smiling, thinking she had nothing to do to pass the test, but to look at the clown without any particular intent.
“Not bad, you did all right on this,” said Charlie. “We’ve never seen this kind of smile before here, it’s like there’s no smile, yet it’s not unpleasant. Simply do our logo installation handling procedure, and you can work at Manalpan.”
An electrician walked in the room, explaining to Clarity she’d have to go on a ladder to change the light bulb of a Mclannan’s logo, atop a tall aluminum column. Dressed in official maintenance gear, a green and yellow lumberjack shirt, oversized jeans and hipster boots, she climbed up a ladder and placed a small rock crystal bulb from a Genoese crystal chandelier inside the casing of the logo. The eighteenth century piece which lit up the logo fetched five hundred dollars and was chosen for no particular reason, but the cost was shaved off employee salaries, and the logo looked good, so it had been approved by the purchase committee, in yet another flawless example of groupthink by the company. It was an operating expense to add a touch of glamour to the logo. Because the light was not advertised, in order to keep workers unaware of the salary scam, nor was it seen by anyone, because it was inside the plastic logo sign, nobody was aware of the glamour of the logo, and customers admired the Ollie burger sign itself. Clarity walked down the ladder and turned on the light switch of the logo. The Ollie burger logo beamed a bright light, and began rotating around the forty foot aluminum column.
“Congratulations,” said Charlie, “if you can convince our manager in Manalpan, that you can work there, you got a job there.” Clarity felt as though Ollie had led her back to square one, in a game of Ollie employment chess.
“You said I had the job, if I got through these tests.”
“Ultimately, our location manager decides,” said Charlie, “Blanche, our manager there, is the driving force of all our clean locations.”
Clarity took the bus from Boynton to the Manalpan location of Mclannan’s. The manager of the luxury location of Mclannan’s was a middle aged woman, kind of chubby, named Blanche, a natural companion for Joe Mannen, who was chubby like her. Clarity showed the manager her official burger diploma, and the woman in charge of the restaurant was reluctant to give her work there. The credentials were lacking something, something like the secret ingredient of the Ollie burger that everyone ignored, because no one cared about it. Clarity ignored the provider of onions used in the Ollie burger and so she could not mention that as a valid answer to the location manager. Her answer had to show both interest and dedication to the maker of burgers.
Nonetheless, she was not set aback this time. Expecting the reaction from the manager, Clarity pulled out her honoris clown sheet, and the uniform given to her at the training center, to show that she was ready to work. Once Clarity said that she favored the diet disruption policy of the company, one of the items in the company fact sheet, the manager changed her mind and hired her. Diet disruption suggestions to customers included ‘community eating, a community of burgers for each customer,’ ‘eat five burgers instead of one, one for you, four for the community, actually four for you as well, as a toast to the community, the community is busy right now.’ Blanche led Clarity to the ad spot video area of the place, a room with a large camera on a tripod. The manager stood behind the camera and began filming Clarity for one last diet disruption test. Clarity had memorized the sentence she had to say for the camera.
“All right, go ahead,” said Blanche. Clarity stepped forward with her right leg, and leaned forward.
“You too, can be chubby,” said Clarity. Quite satisfied with the performance, she leaned forward a bit more, and raised her index towards the camera, indicating the genuine intent of the sentence.
“All right, not bad,” said Blanche, “it’ll do, you’ll start with cooking burgers and cash register,” said Blanche.
“I want to start in marketing, or procurement, in the information systems area,” said Clarity.
“You think you’re gonna get to the top right away?”
“I’m a teleoperator, it’s my line of business, sort of related to technology.”
“I’ll have to check with Charlie Pan, to verify that you did everything right at the center. I have to go to the center in two days, to sharpen my burger turnover skills. I’ll talk to Charlie. You can sweep the tiles of the floor here, and then cook some burgers, after you wash your hands a few times.”
Two days later, while Blanche was out to Ollie Burger University, Clarity befriended the computer systems person of the company, a guy named Desmond. She suggested to him that he should get an Ollie burger before lunch, to experience the quality of life of Manalpan location, with other customers, instead of being isolated in the office. Desmond followed the logic of Clarity and left her inside the information systems area of the company on her own, officially to watch it while Desmond was out. Looking at the security camera which showed Desmond queuing inside the restaurant, Clarity sat down in front of the workstation computer driving the order system of the fifty four locations of Mclannan. Her task was to alter the taste of the Ollie burger, to create a general fiasco similar to the New Coke sales disaster of Coca Cola, when it changed its classic taste to a different New Coke taste. Following the idea of turning sugar to salt, from Mannen and the manual of Cocoanomics, Clarity knew how to do that.
The teleoperator from Malibu spent about half an hour getting familiar with the order processing system of the franchise. The meat ordering module for the fifty four locations of Mclannan’s was centralized in the servers of Manalpan. Practically no one in the company knew that. Only some investors were informed of the operational procedures that the company followed to limit any leaks to other burger places. Mclannan’s had several suppliers of meat, such as Millenson Foods, South Beef Industries, Garstecki meat packers, and Fothergill-Fohey meat supplies, which supplied all the meat to the various locations.
Mannen wanted to change the taste of the Ollie burger by replacing beef with horse meat. Clarity took out her smartphone and opened the pad that had a few notes written from her conversations with Perkins at Evanston. She searched for a contact recently added to her list, a provider of horse meat provided by Mannen. Mush Revving, the most secretive mobster in South Florida, exported old horses from New Mexico to Kazakhstan, where they were slaughtered, by a company called Kashgar Meat Industries. From there, the meat was then sent for sale to several places in the world such as Iceland, where horse meat was eaten as fondue, or stew, or to Kazakhstan, where horse meat was part of the diet, or to Norway, where horse meat was used in cured dishes, like vossakorv, and svartpolse. The meat was also sold in Italy, where horse meat was popular, in places like Lombardia, Veneto, Trentino, Parma, and the islands of Sardinia and Sicily. In many places, eating horse meat was taboo, and so the number of places to sell the meat was not large. In any case, Mannen wanted to turn that business activity of Revving in his favor.
Clarity used a phone web application provided by Mannen to call Kashgar Meat from the computer, asking the meat provider to deliver one month of ground horse beef to the Manalpan location where she was. She took the name of the logistics company delivering the meat in the US, and included it as part of the list of meat providers in the system. The phone from the front counter rang, disrupting her task. It was Maggie, one of the cashiers working with her at the cash register.
“Desmond is finishing his burger,” said the cashier.
She finished placing the order, closed the order processing system, and walked out of the room, to keep Desmond company while he finished his Ollie burger. Blanche came back from OBU after lunch, with a certificate of authenticity of the training program followed at OBU by Clarity. All the paperwork was in place, and Clarity could begin to work at Manalpan.
The meat arrived one week later to more than twenty locations, in pattys which looked just like regular burger pattys. Standing at the cash register behind the counter of the restaurant at Manalpan, Clarity began to notice the reactions of some customers, when they began to eat their Ollie burgers. Comments, like ‘this meat is kinda strong, this aint beef’, or ‘you sure this is an Ollie burger?’ or ‘something’s cooking, are you sure it’s an Ollie burger’, ‘send the burger back to Ollie burger university’, were slipped inside the suggestion box of the restaurant. A few customers complained outright to Blanche, that their Ollie burger did not taste the same way. After three or four days, word had spread that Mclannan’s was serving horse meat in their burgers. A horse smiley replaced the regular Ollie burger logo of Mclannan’s on social networks and on the main web page of the company, which was hacked. Damage to the franchise was being made. Blanche spoke with Desmond in private. The man checked the meat order module, and noticed there was a new supplier called Kashgar.
“Who put this in the system?” Asked Blanche, “we’ve never worked with this company.”
“The new girl,” said Desmond.
The following day, four days after the first meat fiasco, Clarity continued her job at the cash register, noticing burger sales had dropped. She lifted her eyes after the entrance bell rang, and noticed Ambrosio and Giacomino going through the door of the restaurant. Her daily companion at the restaurant, Maggie, was typing an order at the cash register.
“I’ll be right back, Maggie,” she said. Walking through the kitchen, dodging Blanche, and without stopping at the fry area, Clarity walked out of the restaurant through the backdoor. She took out her smartphone and called Baggio.
“I need pickup,” she said.
The girl with light brown hair crossed the street and walked to a gas station to avoid the two retainers. A few minutes later, Baggio appeared and picked her up in Jaguar 73. She hopped in the back seat, and the car drove south towards Miami.
Clarity reached for a newspaper from the day before. An article had exposed the meat scandal of the franchise. Customers of Mclannan’s have been experiencing a new burger, without being informed of the new taste by the company, its management, or by the mascot Ollie the clown. Customers have been comparing the taste of the Ollie burger to horse meat. One guy who went to Kazakhstan to taste horse meat, says the Ollie burger of Mclannan’s is just like his uncle’s burgers sold in the capital of the place, Almaty. The man requested horse ham in slices, to expand the new menu item of the franchise. Charlie Pan, the person in charge of training at Mclannan’s University, says that horse meat is not the authentic patty, endorsed by Ollie the clown. The clout of the clown within the franchise, is being diluted by this horse meat scandal, unexpected by some of the shareholders, such as Mr. Di Laure, and Moe Alamy. Ollie the clown declined to be interviewed and refused to comment on the articulated clown at Ollie Burger University, which he said, was not prepared to comment on the issue.
She lifted her eyes and saw a sign on highway ninety five, which said Pompano Beach.
“Where are we going?” She asked.
“Miami East hotel, Mr. Mannen is back from Cayman. He wants to see you. Check the news on television, Mr. Mannen wants you to see the results of your work.”
Clarity turned the knob of the tv set of the Jaguar, an old set from the fifties, made by Crosley. She tuned the knob to channel five, and saw the face of a dog, Lord Moorehead III, a resident of the Cayman Islands, looking into the camera. A few feet away from the dog, a woman was packing its ‘dog trolley’, getting various large bones in the small suitcase, preparing the dog for a trip to Florida.
She turned the knob of the tv set one notch, to channel four, for more relevant news. Channel four showed Di Laure with Moe Alamy being interviewed by an anchorman, regarding the Mclannan’s fiasco. Di Laure was downplaying the issue, simply saying that an order for meat had been misplaced, and that an investigation was being carried out, to rule out an intentional disruption of the business.
“Considering your strategy is disruption, does this come as a surprise? Is this putting in danger the policy of diet disruption of the company?” Asked the anchorman.
“No, people who like to be chubby, will be able to do so. Our diet disruption policy will remain in place.”
They reached the East hotel in Miami, on Brickell Plaza, about three hours later. Mannen liked the place because of its magnificent pool deck, the unique experience, and the personalized luxury service. She reached the deck and sat on a lounge chair. The chubby banking agent showed her a list of people, about twenty meat packers, meat producers, and local distributors in South Florida. All those people were meeting him the following day, in an undisclosed location in Miami. Eiesland showed Clarity another piece of paper, from a man known in Florida as Judge Alridge. Mannen let Clarity hold his smartphone, to listen to a phone message left by the secretary of Alridge the day before. Alridge had received a call from Senator Grover asking him to close the Gladeview pawnshop, due to irregularities in the statutes, and also due to its possible link with Lofty Bank. The secretary of Alridge was suggesting to Mannen to turn over the statutes of the pawnshop to Alridge, or the judge would send police officer Kerrigan with an injunction to stop the pawnshop from staying open.
“Grover is friends with Di Laure. He is a shareholder of Mclannan’s,” said Eiesland. “Di Laure spoke to Grover to kick us out of Florida.” Clarity turned to Mannen.
“We are friends with congressman Collins,” said Mannen. “He favors some banking changes in Florida, and one of his companies owns shares of my cocoa import business. Cocoa drinks are going to be part of my new venture.”
“Do you import any cocoa now?”
“Yeah, one pack.” Mannen showed Clarity a pack of cocoa powder, placed under his lounge chair. The chubby guy received a text message from Baggio, telling him that Collins was in a room on the fifth floor, waiting for the banking agent. They went to room five zero three, to speak with the congressman. The politician was watching local news on television.
“You need to talk to all the meat packers of South Florida,” said Collins. “Grover is pressing me to throw you out of Florida.”
“I’m calling the meeting tomorrow with them, Clarity is going to lead Di Laure and Moe somewhere else. Talk to Grover, I want to avoid an appointment with Alridge, ask him if he wants to be part of the cocoa business.”
Clarity drank a glass of mineral water, seeing that she was being thrown right in the middle of more heated business meetings. She wanted a bit of rest after going to Evanston and Manalpan, and the East hotel in Miami was not a bad place to do that.
“Can I replace my name with Baggio for this task?” She asked.
Mannen shook his head, and told Baggio not to replace Clarity, telling the driver of the Jaguar instead, to call Ambrosio, in order to lure him and Giacomino to the pawnshop, telling them he was yielding to Moe and giving to her the statutes of Lofty. He wasn’t doing that, but wanted Di Laure to think he’d accepted to leave Florida. The phone in the room began to ring, and no one picked it up, although everyone looked at it ringing. Mannen suggested to Clarity that she pick up the phone, because she was about to leave in any case. The teleoperator picked up the receiver, finally doing something that was familiar to her.
“Two people are in the lounge waiting for Mr. Mannen, Mr. Taylor, and Mr. Marville,” said the receptionist.
Clarity took the elevator and walked to the reception area to meet the officials from the Cayman monetary authority. She led them to the rooftop bar of the hotel, a place called Sugar, for some drinks and tapas.
“Mr. Mannen cannot be here. Is there anything you’d like to report or tell him?” She said. Taylor checked his chair, to ensure it was solid like his brain.
“We have informed local authorities here of the problems that Mr. Mannen has with his bank license renewal process,” said Taylor. “We suggest that he leave Florida in the next few days, to avoid further problems.” Clarity nodded and offered no resistance to the argument.
“I’ll ensure he knows, and I might leave myself in a few days. This place is nice, but I feel there’s other places out there which are not bad.”
Taylor approved of the idea, and Marville asked Clarity whether he wanted to go on vacation with him for a few days. Clarity declined the invitation and led both men to the hotel entrance, calling a cab for them. Shortly after, Mannen sent her a text message on her smartphone, through What’s Mobbing, the texting app Mannen used for delegating tasks, or gossipy things which had nothing to do with business. Stay here at the East for the night, same room, we’re through. Take a cab tomorrow at ten to the Siena Club of Greater Miami. You’ll meet Di Laure and Moe there. You’ll receive additional instructions when you get there. Clarity checked the place on the web from the backseat of her cab. The Siena Club was a kennel club in Miami on South Dixie Highway, hosting an event for dogs on that day. Why did Mannen want her to meet Di Laure and Moe there? Letting her thoughts go, she reached the room paid by Mannen, and fit snugly under the quilt of the Urban King bed of the elegant hotel.
Clarity had a good breakfast at the East, and took a cab to South Dixie Highway. She spent the whole day at the Siena kennel club, becoming familiar with the rules of dog shows, as Baggio had told her to do. At One pm in the afternoon, a container coming from Cayman delivered Lord Moorehead III, the Great Dane that Mannen used as ‘front person’ for his business with Lofty, to the club. The container also delivered a few other dogs taking part in the show, an Airedale terrier, clever, confident, and friendly, but also courageous, a Dogue de Bordeaux, known for being loyal, affectionate and protective, a Victorian bulldog, and a borzoi, a somewhat independent minded four legged mammal. Finally, A message on her What’s Mobbing app from Mannen at twelve minutes past eight o’clock gave her additional information on what was happening. The dog show is staged, welcome Di Laure and Moe Alamy, let her dog take part in it. Harvege will take care of Lord Moorehead III after the show. I’ll pick you up at eight fifty eight with the Jaguar 73.
Harvege and Monfort came at eight twenty, bringing one dog each, a Chinese Shar Pei, and a Lhasa Apso. Revving came slightly later, and Di Laure and Moe Alamy showed up last around eight thirty pm. Moe noticed Clarity immediately.
“You’re still here, I don’t believe this. What are you doing here, I want you out of Florida.”
Moe began to look for Ambrosio, but realized the retainer was at the pawnshop with Giacomino, to empty the shop of Mannen of all remaining items, and to look for the statutes of Gladeview that Mannen had promised. She wanted the pawnshop to close. Harvege walked towards them, to ensure Moe did not keep arguing with the teleoperator. The girl with light brown hair from Malibu calmed the old lady and held on to the plan that Mannen had told her the day before.
“Miss Alamy, look, Lord Moorehead III is here,” said Clarity, “Mr. Mannen will be here shortly, he sent me to explain the rules of the show to you.”
Moe Alamy nearly did a back somersault on the grass of the kennel club, when the young teleoperator seemed to indicate to her that she was giving out the rules to the old lady. Moe glanced at the kennel of the Great Dane being lowered out of the container delivered to the club. The dog shelter had the dog’s name at the top, and Moe knew that Mannen used the dog for several business functions and activities in Cayman. If the dog was there, the owner was not far from it. She calmed down somewhat.
Clarity ignored the whining of the old lady, and of her poodle, and began to explain the rules of the dog show to the shriveled mobster and to her protege, Di Laure. There were six dogs in the show, in addition to Lord Moorehead, and then there was Quincy, brought in last minute by Moe. A dog official paid by Mannen was giving problems to Moe, alledging registration for the dogs had to be filled out three weeks in advance.
“You can’t be here, if the dog is not part of the show,” said the official.
“I’m meeting someone here, the owner of that dog, Lord Moorehead III.”
The official asked for guest tickets, and Di Laure had to pay one hundred fifty dollars for three admission tickets to the show. Moe paid a few hundred additional dollars to get Quincy in the show, getting her dog to waive the first round of the event. Harvege approached Di Laure and began to talk to the smooth white-haired mobster, comparing cuffs with him, and teasing him about why Di Laure wore his watch over the shirt cuff. Monfort was talking to Revving, asking him about business in North Florida, where Revving usually played golf.
“Where is Mannen?” Moe Alamy was getting edgy.
Clarity ignored the question, and left Moe Alamy with the dog show official, and with a chart explaining the proceedings of the dog show, telling Moe that a catering service would bring them dinner soon. She walked to the entrance of the club, ensuring no one was paying attention to her. The car of Mannen, Jaguar 73, pulled swiftly into the valet parking area and the backdoor swung open.
“Get in.” Clarity hopped in the car, joining Mannen in the back seat, and Baggio pressed the foot pedal to get back on the street.
“You’re not going to the dog show?” Asked Clarity.
“No, we’re going somewhere else.”
His watch was showing a few minutes past nine o’clock in the evening. After forty minutes of driving north through Coral Gables and downtown Miami, the car of Mannen headed for South Beach and slowed down. Clarity glanced out the window, seeing a soft lit open air parking structure which was their final destination. The Jaguar queued behind a caravan of cars with investors, meat packers, meat distributors, and golfers acting as business angels for his new venture, inside, all attending the place hosting his ballyhoo meeting, the 11 11 Lincoln Road parking garage structure. The place acted as a gateway to the stylish pedestrian promenade in Miami known as Lincoln Road mall. The unique venue had very high ceilings with a panoramic view of the Miami skyline and its bay. The place, which had seven floors, was used as a parking space for those doing their shopping on Lincoln Road, and it was also used for events. Banks, investment companies, charity-event hosts, elegant wine tastings, and couples getting married, came to gather at the high end architecture structure designed by the firm Herzog & de Meuron. The open-air structure housed a glassed high fashion boutique on the fifth floor, and was admired by tourists for blending a parking garage with a gigantic loft apartment with no exterior walls.
Mannen’s car and all the vehicles attending the hosted dinner conference, parked on the first floor of the parking structure. Everyone rode the elevator to floor seven, the top floor, where all events were hosted. Guests also included twenty investors, ‘golfers’ of Lofty, twelve local meat distributors in Miami, and representatives from Millenson Foods, South Beef Industries, Garstecki meat packers, and Fothergill-Fohey. Mannen had met the bigger meat packers separately and had paid for their transportation and venue expense.
Clarity counted forty five guests, sitting on two long dining tables holding about twenty five people each. A delicious dinner was served by Bill Hansen catering services, and included the new flagship product of Mannen’s new venture, an expensive burger costing five hundred dollars, known as the King George III burger. The burger was going to be offered at the locations where Mannen planned to open his new expensive burger franchise, called Oakland Bellevue. Those places corresponded to the twenty four locations of Mclannan’s that Mannen wanted to purchase.
Mannen liked to stage his business presentations. When dessert was being served, he walked to a corner of the open-air area, and grabbed a wooden crate, reminiscent of a ‘soapbox’, the item used by street-corner orators in New York, or at the Speaker’s corner of Hyde Park, in London, or by other speakers in Chinatown, in San Francisco. The chubby banking agent from Cayman stood on the crate, and held a wireless microphone. Speaking loudly on the mike, Mannen began to sell all the qualities of his new venture. Money for the idea was there, thanks to the guests who were present. About forty six to fifty million dollars were available to purchase Mclannan’s locations and refurbish the locations. Investors would receive a good chunk of money in return over a period spanning five or ten years. Mannen ended his speech by commending the work of Eiesland and Clarity, and of his driver Baggio. He stepped down from the crate, and opened the floor for questions. A guy for Millenson Foods took the microphone and asked the first question.
“What is going to be the arrangement for meat packing and distribution in South Florida?”
“I’m going to be the new spokesperson for the Syndicate of South Florida. Mr. Di Laure and Moe Alamy have withdrawn as a result of the horse meat fiasco of Mclannan’s.”
The comment created a hubbub among meat distributors and also with the meat packers. The uproar lessened when twenty bottles of Pol Roger champagne were served and popped open at the tables. The ballyhoo was being staged so that all the information passed on would be well received by everyone. Someone else asked a different question, less controversial.
“Is there a USDA license for the organic beef that will be used at Oakland locations?” Organic beef was one of the reasons why the king George III burger was so expensive.
“We’re working on that,” said Mannen. “My assistant Clarity will provide that in the next few weeks, maybe earlier than that.”
Clarity scooped her green apple and champagne sorbet, deciding not to listen to what probably was going to be her next task. The next question from the floor was more difficult to answer. It came from an old timer investor, Fursey Picketty, a man who liked to play golf on most days at the Gasparilla Inn golf course in Boca Grande.
“How are you going to elicit the sale of Mclannan’s locations? Is that done, or in place?”
“The shareholders of Mclannan’s are deciding on a new strategic course, that will lead them to doing business in North Florida. Oakland Capital will help those shareholders do that, by purchasing twenty four of its fifty four locations.”
Ann Frayley, a former executive at a provider of commercial notebooks, workstations, and retail point of sale systems, voiced her own concern.
“Gavino Di Laure doesn’t look like he’s willing to sell anything when you listen to him and Moe Alamy on television. You sure you can bring them to sell Mclannan to you?”
“Yeah, we’re talking to them,” said Mannen, “and they are willing to sell some of the locations to us. The horse meat fiasco has dented their image, we’re offering a good price for those locations. But we need the money in place in our vehicle, when we reach agreement on the deal.” The woman asked a second question.
“What about the problems of Lofty in Miami? It is the arranger of the Oakland Capital transaction? There’s a pawnshop which is representing Lofty here in Miami. Is all of that working properly?”
“We’re making some political arrangements,” said Mannen. “It is not simple to invest in Florida, but it is not impossible, a few details with authorities are going to be in place in the next few days. The entrepreneurial spirit here will remain strong. We’ll inform you of that.”
Baggio walked towards Mannen and whispered something to his boss. According to Harvege, Di Laure and Moe Alamy were headed for the parking lot structure on Lincoln Road, after a brief text received by Revving had told them about where the real meeting was taking place. Revving had informants among his investor ‘golfers’. Mannen thought that one of those golfers working with Lofty or attending the dinner, had alerted Revving about the real location of the meeting. The chubby bank agent ended the venue and asked everyone to go to their cars and go home, reassuring them that Eiesland would get in touch when Oakland Capital would buy the assets of Mclannan’s. Mannen got inside the backseat of the Jaguar after Clarity, and told Baggio to head for Swankeye.
“Political arrangements?” Asked Clarity.
“Collins texted me during dinner, he ran into problems when he spoke with Grover. He’s trying to avoid a meeting with me, Di Laure and Moe Alamy, and with Senator Grover, and also with Judge Alridge, to discuss the issue of the license to operate Oakland Bellevue, and the future of my pawnshop here in Miami. Not sure if I’ll be able to avoid that. I want you to take care of something though, I want you to bring something to that meeting, in case it does take place.”
As long as it didn’t involve meeting Ambrosio or Giacomino, Clarity was all right with that and with meetings. Mannen reached inside his vest and pulled out a business card.
“See this person tomorrow, and solve this thing with the USDA, I need that organic beef license to do this and set up Oakland here.”
Clarity looked at the name on the business card, thinking things were not getting particularly easy for her. The card said Damario Abreyo, U.S. Department of Agriculture, General licensing and importing department, Florida District. Her eyes widened at the sheer audacity of Mannen’s move on that day. First, he’d blindsided Di Laure and Moe Alamy with a fake meeting at the dog show. Then, he’d held his own meeting with meat packers and distributors without the two Florida Cappi, and without telling them about the new arrangement with those meat packers and distributors in South Florida. She had no clue of how the FDA operated. How in the world was she going to get a license for a place that wasn’t even there?
The following day, Clarity read a copy of the Miami Herald left on the kitchen counter of Mannen’s home. On the first page, there was an article on Mclannan’s and the horse meat fiasco. The U.S. Department of Agriculture was placing a hold on the status of Mclannan’s. In a bold step to ensure the beef provider complies with all regulations, USDA spokesperson Damario Abreyo said that it is putting on hold the license of the Mlanannan’s restaurants to operate as a fast food retail chain. Customers will eat horse meat, if they decide to do so, and if the horse agrees to it. After having breakfast prepared by Baggio, Clarity walked to the library, where Mannen was talking loudly with Di Laure, explaining that he would not leave South Florida, just because Moe wanted to live at Swankeye.
“Moe wants to see the judge? Fine, we’ll see the judge,” said Mannen. “I’m staying here in South Florida though. I like South Florida.”
The teleoperator from Malibu left the library room and walked out of the home, taking a cab to the USDA office in Coral Gables on Old Cutler Road, the place in charge of licensing and importing food and drinks to Florida. Details were part of Cocoanomics, and Mannen wanted the various pieces of his puzzle to come together for him. Damario Abreyo, a gatekeeper of the US Department of Agriculture, was one of the people allowing him to do that. She gave her name at the entrance of the USDA office, telling the front guard of an appointment with one of the officials, Abreyo, made by Mannen eight days earlier. The security officer let her in, pointing her to the second floor. Within minutes, she was sitting in a room with the USDA official sitting across from her.
“What can I do for you?” Asked Abreyo.
“I represent a new retail chain that would like to operate in South Florida, Oakland Bellevue. I’d like to apply for a license to operate and sell organic beef.” She remembered the second item Mannen wanted her to solve.
“And also, I would like a license to import cocoa in South Florida.”
“You can do that, we suggest that you work with one of our Accredited Certifying Agents before you apply.”
“Here in Miami?”
“No, you’ll have to go to one the farms in South Florida, we work with local farmers, meat packers and cattle producers. Can’t help you much today, we’re receiving a visit from some people who work at Mclannan’s, about that horse meat issue.”
Abreyo handed her a list of Certifying Agents working with the USDA. Walking on the sidewalk outside the USDA office building, she called several numbers. The various agents certified by the USDA, were ready to work with her, but none could process an application in one day, or get USDA approval for a license in less than a week. One of the places, Healthy Veggies Community Farm, located in Davie, agreed to work with her on the application. Provided she’d pay an additional five hundred dollars, Alwin, the guy in charge of organic meat licenses, might be able to provide assistance.
She took bus 297, riding North to Davie. After a two hour trip, she reached the South Florida town and took a local cab to the farm house of Healthy Veggies. Alwin was the only employee of the farm, a place which had about ten cows, and was owned by a man who showed up on weekends to check on the business. They moved to the office of Alwin, where the employee began to print out application files from the USDA.
“We’ll see what we can do,” said the employee, “it’ll take me a few hours to see if I can do this for you and for Oakland.”
“Can you check on the status of Mclannan’s regarding that horse meat fiasco?” Asked Clarity. “You know, as a potential provider of meat for them.” Alwin shook his head.
“It’s impossible to work for those guys, they ask for too many things. We just have cows here, and they’re good. But yeah, I can sort of check what’s happening with their license.”
He entered a site of the USDA for partners, and accessed the digest area, which was provided to organic farmers, meat packers, and food distributors of South Florida.
“Bearing in mind that there has not been an opinion from state authorities, the license of Mclannan’s to operate in Florida is under review. A review committee is going to go through the issue and issue a report that will be published in a few days. They could get reapproved if they can show what happened with the horse meat is just a mistake that can be avoided.”
“Yeah, that means the governor.”
The political ramifications of Cocoanomics were getting complex, thought Clarity. She thanked Alwin for his work and exited the office of the farmer, telling him she’d stay a few hours. Standing on the front porch of the farm, she took out her smartphone to call a cab and get back to Miami from Davie that evening. She had her eyes on dinner at the East or another good spot in South Beach. She glanced to her right, and saw a black sedan parked near the side wall of the farmhouse. Ambrosio stepped out of the passenger seat, while Giacomino got out of the driver’s seat. Knowing that the two henchmen were going after her, she took refuge in a barn close to the farm house, calling Baggio from there. She was going back to Miami earlier than expected.
“Can’t pick you up,” said Baggio, “busy at the pawnshop, putting back in place all the mess Ambrosio and Giacomino did yesterday here. All the shelves are broken. We have to reorder the items, buy some things, to keep the shop open.”
“Ambrosio is on my tail,” said Clarity, “I think he found me through the USDA office in Coral Gables, I was there today. What about Mr. Mannen, can he come to pick me up?”
“He’s very busy with the memorandum of Oakland Capital, working with Eiesland. He can’t pick you up. You’re on your own.”
Being used to having Jaguar 73 at her disposal, Clarity had some difficulty reframing her thinking towards the less affluent transportation services available to the middle class. Checking her notes on the smartphone about Lloyd, the guy who brought her to Mannen from the airport, she called the Reverplain transportation service.
“Yeah, come to the barn, not the farmhouse, the barn. Ten minutes, all right.”
She peeked outside the barn, noticing Ambrosio and Giacomino were going inside the house to talk to Alwin. She looked for a barrier or lock for the main door of the barn, but there was nothing around it, the door was meant to remain open. She looked behind seeing that a patch of light came out of the opposite area of the barn. She called Reverplain again, for a slight adjustment in pickup location.
“Make that the back of the barn, yeah, the back, not the front. No, not the farmhouse, the barn. Yeah, the front of the barn is what you see as you come in with the car, not the other front, that’s the back of the barn. No, there are no cows in the barn. Barbecue for a stopover? No, no barbecue, I’m in a hurry. A few minutes? All right.”
Clarity ended the call, and peeked out of the barn a second time. Ambrosio was standing on the porch of the farm and began to walk towards the structure. Closing the door of the place, she moved to the opposite exit door of the barn. A few minutes later, a Ford 550 Blue 28 passenger limousine drove through the doors of the ranch at thirty miles an hour, honking out of its way a distracted cow which had come out of the pasture area. The limo headed towards the farmhouse, and veered right, going past Ambrosio only inches away from the retainer, and lifting a cloud of dust on the face of the trusted man of Di Laure, who fell to the ground on a big patch of mud. Going around the barn, the limousine service vehicle screeched to a halt near the other door of the structure. Clarity got out and hopped inside. 27 passengers who were part of a convention of retired couples driving through Florida’s various attractions, were carrying out a lively conversation. One passenger had decided to stay in Clearwater to have pancakes, and it was the reason that there was one spot left in the car.
“Howdy, mam,” said the driver.
“Sort of a subcontractor for them, yeah, you called, right?” Clarity saw Ambrosio getting up from the muddy ground, feeling heavier than before.
“Yes, to Miami please.”
“Yeah, just Miami, but now, please, sort of in a hurry.”
The limo driver pressed the foot pedal and the limo drove out of the farm, honking good bye to the distracted cow that was slowly making its way back to the pasture. The black sedan of Ambrosio followed them, tailing the large vehicle meant for ample, but not swift transportation. With so many people in the vehicle, Clarity felt somewhat safe. She knew that Ambrosio could not do much to stop her while they drove to Miami. The problem would begin once they got there. She texted Baggio for assistance. Where can I go? They’re after me. Baggio texted back a few minutes later. Go to the strip club, at Milton’s, and ask for the owner, Silk Herald, Mr. Mannen knows him. Hide there, Ambrosio will have a hard time getting inside. She gave an additional fifty dollars to the Reverplain driver, who reached Miami forty minutes later. With the sedan following them, she told the driver to park at the entrance of the swank strip club of Miami, Milton’s.
The owner of Milton’s was not there. Maggie, the chubby lady she’d seen at Swankeye, was at the bar. She was the keeper and administrator of the club. Two girls were holding on to their dancing poles, training for their number that evening. Remembering Clarity, the keeper of the club led her to a room where she would be out of view of Ambrosio. From the window of her room, Clarity could hear Maggie talk to the retainer of Di Laure.
“No one is here, come out this evening, our girls will be there.”
Ambrosio felt like saying yes to the chubby lady, but his boss did not approve of strip clubs. Gavino Di Laure got girls from the strip clubs, and from Moe, and slept with them, but he didn’t go there himself, per se. After trying to negotiate his entrance into the club several times, without receiving access, Ambrosio headed back into the sedan and drove away with his colleague, heading for the home of Di Laure. Maggie went into the room where Clarity was hiding.
“What did you do?” Asked Maggie, “Ambrosio did not look amiable out there.”
“We’re opening the new burger place of Mr. Mannen. Di Laure doesn’t like him in South Florida, he wants him out.”
“You better stay here for a while. You can stay here tonight.”
Clarity thanked the chubby lady and called Baggio, who supported the suggestion of Maggie. Later that evening, she prompted the administrator of Milton’s about the bonds stolen that Mannen had in his home in Nelson Quay. According to Maggie, the bonds that were stolen by Mista Jack belonged to a family of bankers in New York, the Bensons. Some of those family members attended another strip club in New York, the Flamingo Boyle. The Boyle was part of the Privilege Club Network, and Milton’s had opted out of that, to remain independent. They were not associated with the privilege club.
“There is a feud between the Bensons and those who sent Mr. Jack to steal the bonds in their private vault.” The name of the dwarf triggered the memory of Cuba for Clarity.
“Who does he work for, I thought he didn’t have a boss.”
“He doesn’t have a boss, works on his own, but he is a messenger for some people, sort of a herald for this minted gold bar called Lady Fortuna. It is a spiritual group, who understands this idea of transmutation apparently, never seen them. Silk knows about them. I’ll show you.”
She opened a drawer, and took out a snow globe, made of glass, filled with distilled water, showing a few sparse houses at the bottom which looked like huts, and a few bushes around it.
“This globe belongs to them, they are a group of women, known as the Aurum Lux Ordo, the Order of Gold Light. It is led by a group of druidesses, known as the Melissai, a small community. People think that they live in places like these, somewhere in the Caribbean, off the coast of Panama.”
Clarity shook the globe and gold flakes, instead of snow flakes, began to float inside. Once again, she was intrigued by the connection of Mannen and Mista Jack to an area of interest and value to her, spirituality, and the corollaries related to the Mysteries, that body of knowledge passed on for two thousand years or so.
“What are we looking for today then?” Asked Clarity. It was an early day at Swankeye, after Clarity had taken an early cab from Milton’s, to reach the home of Mannen. The chubby guy was edgy, sensing the closing of a new deal, or the big fiasco of that same deal. Clarity finished her breakfast, two eggs over easy with toast. She glanced at the court hearing notice document sent by Judge Alridge to Mannen the day before. She did not fully understand the strategy of the chubby guy regarding the meeting with the judge. Mannen was sitting across from her, reading one of the chapters of Cocoanomics regarding ‘collaborative dynamics’, the area of the book which had replaced the more traditional ‘collusion dynamics’, which could be found in the pages of Beefonomics, the manual that Di Laure was reading for all mob-related business.
“We want a favorable ruling for our license to operate Oakland Bellevue,” said Mannen, “and a non favorable ruling for the horse meat issue. Our investors are waiting for the favorable ruling in order to send their money to our vehicle, Oakland Capital.”
“So how are we going to do that?” Asked Clarity.
“Not sure, that’s kind of the problem.” Mannen stared at her, his face looking like that of a bulldog awaiting some kind of indication. There was no indication from Clarity.
“All right, well, let’s go then,” she said.
Mannen nodded, and closed the manual, leaving it on his scholar table. They walked out to the garage where Baggio was waiting for them with Jaguar 73. They picked up Eiesland at the East hotel and drove to the Miami-Dade Courthouse for their meeting.
Clarity walked past the inscription which said ‘Dade County Courthouse 1925’. She glanced at the tall historic building on West Flagler Street, before going through the entrance after Joe Mannen and Eiesland. The courthouse building, made with granite and terra-cotta, was part of the National Register of Historic Places. The original escape-proof jail, placed on the top floors of the building, had witnessed the escape of more than seventy prisoners.
Judge Alridge was a seventy five year old federal magistrate. Because the Federal Courthouse was undergoing renovations, the judge was holding the meeting at the Dade County courthouse. The wife of an attorney asked Clarity about the lactation room for new mothers. Chief Judge Bethany Selis had decided to offer a comfortable space for nursing mothers. The new room was useful for attorneys and other court participants who spent many hours at the courthouse.
“You’ll have to ask a new mother,” said Clarity.
She followed Mannen to a courtroom, where judge Alridge, seated behind a wooden desk, was looking at a pile of documents labeled Gladeview Pawn Shop. Beside the first pile, a second pile of documents, taller than the first, labeled as ‘Mclannan’s horse meat issue’ awaited the judge as well. Gavino Di Laure was sitting in the second row of the courthouse, with Moe sitting beside him, and Mush Revving sitting beside the old lady. Harvege and Monfort were sitting on the seats opposite Di Laure. Clarity and Eiesland took their seats with Mannen, near Harvege. A clerk named Barrett announced that the hearing was about to begin.
Moe Alamy raised her hand and walked up to the judge, just to mingle with him, before the session began. Being seventy eight herself, she was always on the lookout for eligible bachelors. Judge Alridge had lost his wife five years earlier, and he didn’t mind the attention from women in his age group. They exchanged numbers and agreed to meet for a drink the following week.
“This hearing involves several issues,” said Alridge, “which are kind of muddled at the moment. There seems to be a feud between two rival mob groups here. As you know, here in Miami, we are not lacking in the area of mobsters, narco traffickers, general organized crime representatives, and other type of Cappi wannabes. If we can avoid having another of these groups here, it will be appreciated.” Mannen stood up and began to talk. He wanted to give the judge a first impression, before Di Laure or Moe Alamy.
“Your Honor, no, we are genuine, not wannabes. Then we are also independent business persons,” said Mannen, “there is absolutely no collusion or any sense that we operate with a framework of oligopoly, you know, this idea that a small group of people hold all of the resources, or money, or prices.”
“The Honorable Member should note that Mr. Mannen is correct,” said Di Laure. The local meat boss with whitish hair was sweating more than usual. He wanted the day to finish.
Barrett walked up to the judge whispering some words in his ear.
“Gentlemen, there is a problem and a slight confusion. Two men from the monetary authority of Cayman, Mr. Taylor and Mr. Marville, are waiting for us, somewhere else. Mr. Marville called my assistant Barrett to explain the confusion, his own incompetence, and the recurrence of it. We have no other choice but to move our hearing to the Miami Federal Courthouse on North Miami Avenue, where the two men are waiting, to prevent Mr. Marville’s incompetence from engaging in further interference with the hearing.”
Alridge slammed his gavel on the sound block, ending the session in part, and breaking the gavel bought in a seven eleven in two, creating sort of a half time atmosphere. Barrett handed the judge a second gavel. Everyone grabbed some sandwiches and walked out of Miami Courthouse, driving to the Federal Courthouse. About an hour and a half later, the hearing continued. A third pile of paper, coming from Taylor, reached the desk of Alridge.
“Mr. Taylor, your view of things, please,” said Alridge. Taylor read the line written by Marville to address Alridge.
“Your honorable membership, Mr. Mannen is a shady character, an elusive businessman, and a notorious scholar of sexual matters. We do not think that his presence in South Florida will be good for business here. Our documents on your desk, will show that to you, your honorable character.”
“The monetary authority would also like to examine the books in Mr. Mannen’s library,” said Marville.
“Thank you Mr. Marville, your contribution is valuable, albeit irrelevant.” The judge reflected for about ten minutes on the issues in front of him. This thing was getting out of hand. He needed more people on the case, there was too much paper for one person. He began to get a sense that he was listening to three different cases. His right brain, holding his common sense and intuition, kept the upper hand on his left brain, the part that wanted someone else to go over the three separate piles of paper, before announcing a sentence on the various issues. Harvege took the initiative of talking, because he had other things to do.
“How about a barbecue at my place?” Asked Harvege. “It may be easier to do things in a relaxed atmosphere.” Alridge finally reached a consensus with Barrett, that Marville and Taylor were kind of irrelevant.
“No barbecue, Mr. Harvege, this is no picnic,” said Alridge. The local judge could be firm when he wanted to be so. He looked at the watch, noticing it was nearly lunch, and also noticing the watch had stopped. The watch indicated lunch from the day before, but fortunately, lunch hour was the same also on the following day.
“All right, let’s go to my place in Pinecrest.” said Alridge, “I get a sense we’ll solve the issue there a lot more easily. Barrett, get some burgers will you, order some Ollie burgers from Mclannan’s.” Mannen whispered a few words to Clarity, giving her his phone.
“Call Collins and tell him to go there,” said Mannen. Clarity dialed the number showing on the smartphone screen and left the message on the answering machine of Collins.
The caravan of cars parked around one pm in the large driveway of the home of Judge Alridge, a nice one floor home, on South West 73rd street. After a good set of burgers, Alridge let Mannen express his view on the matter being discussed. This time without using a soapbox, Mannen explained that the community did not deserve horse meat, if it had not decided it was legitimate to eat such meat. Many locations of Mclannan’s were not dependable, or reliable as a result. The chubby guy from Cayman wiped off some remaining mayo from his burger by leaving it on the frame of a painting on the wall, as he prepared for the final part of his speech. In short, according to Mannen, the spirit of Ollie the clown had been mocked in derisory fashion, by the sheer incompetence of Mclannan’s administrators. To prevent something like that from happening another time, in South Florida, he was ready to purchase twenty four locations of Mclannan’s, to offer the community a new type of burger restaurant which offered the veb, or very expensive burger, made with genuine organic beef.
“That’s bull, you just want business here,” said Moe.
Alridge took a phone call on his private number from Congressman Collins. The congressman made his way to the home slightly after Senator Grover, who’d been alerted of the informal meeting by Di Laure. A heated discussion between the two politicians ensued, one arguing for widening the burger market, and letting Mannen operate the new business, the other alleging that horse meat incident was simply an incident and that Mclannan’s should continue to operate all of its franchises. Collins stopped arguing after half an hour.
“So the deciding issue may actually be this idea of diet disruption,” said the congressman.
“I mean it’s just a ridiculous idea, your Honor,” said Mannen, “the public should be able to choose to be chubby freely.” Alridge reflected on the comment by Collins, finally sensing they were reaching the bottom of the whole issue. Distracted by the compliments of Moe Alamy, he couldn’t quite reach a clear view of the matter.
“Call the governor your Honor,” said Collins, “we would like an independent opinion on this. It is important to resolve this properly.”
Alridge sipped some gin tonic and nodded. He made a phone call to his friend, the governor of Florida, governor Baringsale. The governor was busy chatting and entertaining some friends in his colonial mansion in Tallahassee, and so it was his advisors who listened to Alridge, and relayed the information to the governor. After about half an hour of being briefed, the governor came back with an electronic mail message delivered to Alridge.
Alridge opened the message on his phone and began reading. Florida, South Florida, and also the northern part of Florida, traditionally welcome additional business ideas, things that will make the area attractive to potential investors. Providing a sense that the market, especially the meat market, is open to new ideas, and new people, is going to be good for Florida, and for Miami-Dade. Organic beef is a pretty good idea, it’s good meat, and it’s healthy. And the cows are happier than regular cows, also important. Diet disruption, this idea of Mclannan’s, to let people be chubby, is a stupid idea. People should be free to eat freely, and to understand that if they disrupt their regular diet by eating four or five burgers every day, a company like Mclannan’s is making money, off of them, and their health. I don’t want so much Mclannan’s around. It can be around, but I want Oakland Bellevue in Florida. Mannen is a legitimate pawnshop operator in Florida. If he came up with the money to put Oakland Bellevue in place, let him fund the new burger franchise.
“All right, lady and gentlemen,” said Alridge, “the governor has decided. We have a new burger venture in South Florida. Oakland Bellevue will be operating twenty four locations of Mclannan’s in South Florida, under a new name, with a new type of burger franchise that will use organic beef. Mclannan’s will keep operating with little over half of their restaurants in Florida. All licensing procedures pending for Oakland at the USDA, will receive a favorable mention from me and the governor. Congratulations to Mr. Mannen, on his new restaurant. We leave the details of the transaction to the parties involved, money and such. On behalf of congressman Collins and the senator here, and also the governor, we hope to taste the new burger there when the locations of Bellevue are open for business.”
Mannen shook the hand of the judge, thanking him for his diligent work.
“You will your Honor,” said Mannen, “you will get an invitation from us.”
Mannen walked towards the entrance, followed by Clarity and Eiesland, letting Alridge attend to the next item on his agenda, getting to know Moe Alamy.
The following day, Clarity followed Mannen inside the diner of Moe Alamy, holding a copy of a document he’d been preparing with Eiesland. His final task to establish presence in South Florida, was to put in place the new general business agreement on meat packing and distribution with the other Cappi and the Cappiesa, Moe Alamy. He glanced at the usual booth used by Moe for meetings, and sat in the booth after Harvege, with Clarity by his side. Facing him on the other side of the booth was Moe Alamy, Gavino Di Laure in the middle seat, and Mush Revving sitting to the left of Di Laure. Monfort had opted out of the meeting, preferring to get the news from Mannen himself. He was out playing golf at the Miami Beach Golf Club.
Mannen handed the general agreement to Di Laure, who read the relevant parts, the pages which talked about percentages and distribution territories of each mobster with presence in Florida. The license from the USDA to sell organic beef had been approved for Oakland Bellevue, and so all of the items and paperwork Mannen needed to open the new burger place in South Florida, were now in place.
“You want twenty five percent of the meat distribution market in South Florida, in addition to purchasing our own twenty four locations,” said Di Laure.
“I’m not asking for half, or more than half, just my share, commensurate with what I can do here, and sort of the business I bring in.”
Di Laure was a realist. He brought his watch, which was over his shirt, to his wrist, without looking at it. When circumstance, or the environment, was not favorable, he knew how to grant concessions to preserve some of his assets. Mannen asked him to read page nine of the document. Di Laure read the paragraph, explaining that for a duration of several years, a document published by Oakland Bellevue, called the Cocoanomics Gazette, would be the reference for everyone at the table with some ‘business’ in South Florida. The new Gazette, which would be published four times a year, would include all notices, changes, appointments, deals, locations, or relevant information for those carrying out meat distribution, meat packing, real estate, or resort investments or operations in South Florida. Reluctantly, Di Laure signed the document issued by Mannen and handed it to Moe.
“You know I’m doing this, simply because I like the judge you introduced to us the other day,” said Moe. “He’s going to be a friendly face for us.”
Mannen pointed out that he was going to add an article in the Gazette on knitting woolly breasts. Moe added her signature, and passed on the document to Revving.
“I want my money back though,” said Moe, “those bonds taken from North Florida Bank, that you probably hold or know where they are.”
“When I get my bonds back,” said Mannen. “We’ll do well with the locations of Mclannan’s Moe, it’s a good move to sell those outlets to me and Oakland.”
Moe did not press the issue. She knew that Di Laure had given the location of the bonds belonging to Mannen, to the federal authorities. And so Mannen was simply recovering his money. It was not worth while getting into another war, when she was getting good money for Mclannan’s, at a time when the franchise was having some difficulties.
The old lady glanced at Revving, who was reading the purchase conditions of the twenty four locations of Mclannan’s. A total of forty eight million dollars was going to change hands, from the golfers of Lofty, to the hands of Di Laure, and Moe Alamy. Revving also owned a share of Mclannan’s, and so some of the money from the location purchases, was going to end up in his pocket. That was the main reason for signing the document. He checked the total figure that would be paid out to them by Oakland Capital. Taking a closer look at the locations selected by Mannen, Revving had added two point four million dollars in ‘goodwill’ to the original valuation of Eiesland for the restaurants, which was forty five point six million dollars for twenty four locations of Mclannan’s. According to the mobster, the locations were better than what Eiesland was saying, and Mannen had agreed to a slight additional amount, coming with a final offer of forty eight million dollars for the locations, telling ‘golf’ investors that the transaction was going ahead, and would provide profit from day one for Oakland, thanks to the good location of the restaurants purchased.
Revving kept his head cool when doing business. Some goodwill added to the initial valuation of Eiesland, was well worth paying, to shareholders of Mclannan’s. Revving took out a fountain pen from his pocket. He knew that Mannen would pay a sum to them, simply to be doing business in South Florida. The local Cappo took out his calculator, to come up with the actual dollars that would end up in his pocket from the purchase. Eight hundred thousand dollars of those two point four million additional dollars were going to him directly, as agreed with Moe and Di Laure, who would keep the rest, the remaining two thirds of that amount. Then, he was getting five percent of the original purchase amount, or two point two eight million dollars. Moe was getting thirty percent of the initial purchase amount, or slightly over thirteen point five million dollars, and Di Laure was getting sixty five percent, or little over twenty nine and a half million dollars. Not displeased with the transaction, the mobster heading the northern counties of South Florida took the cap off his fountain pen, and added his name on the document. Looking at Di Laure and Moe to see if there were any other comments, Revving handed the diner agreement back to Mannen.
“Congratulations Joe. I’m gonna be in North Florida for a while, playing some golf,” said Revving, “I won’t be able to attend the opening of Oakland.”
“That’s fine Mush, enjoy your stay there.”
Clarity sensed some rivalry with Mannen in the words of Revving, and in the firm yet deferential response of the chubby guy, who rarely backed off any actual intent to throw him or push him or displace him out of wherever he was carrying out his business. Di Laure and Moe were shrewd, but Revving was the one who valued things most accurately, so Mannen was careful with the information given out to him, or how he spoke with him. With the signed document in his hand, the chubby guy, owner of Lofty, placed the salt shaker in the middle of the table. Mannen was the new de facto spokesperson of the Crime Syndicate in South Florida.
“Next meeting will be next year then, in the flagship venue of Oakland, probably at my place in the Keys. I’ll invite you to a burger. The notice will be out in the Gazette.”
Mannen followed Clarity out of the booth, and out of the diner, not displeased with the outcome of all the work done in the past few months. He hopped in the back seat of Jaguar 73, followed by Clarity, telling Baggio to drive to the pawnshop, which was being refurbished, after Ambrosio had nearly wiped it out, a few days earlier.
“Let’s get the money to these people.” Mannen set up a conference call from his home, and the golf investors working with Lofty, agreed to put forth the money to buy out the locations of Mclannan’s, to establish Oakland Bellevue in South Florida. Mannen told Baggio to check a few contractors available for building the new burger locations. He treated Clarity to a good lunch, and after offering her a digestive liqueur, he made an unexpected remark.
“Let’s go see your home.” Clarity thought she had not heard well.
“What home?” She Asked.
“Your home. You’ve done good work. I’ve been looking for a place that you might like. Come with me, we’ll take the Jaguar.”
Clarity followed Mannen to a nice cottage in Miami, a place officially owned by Lofty Lease, itself owned by the Gladeview pawnshop. It was a nice place, and Clarity began to ask Mannen about her compensation for all the work done for him in Florida.
“Instead of working to pay back your crashworthy agreement, you can use blocks of money to purchase this home.”
Clarity inquired about the price of the place. The home, listed on pleasantpads, was five hundred twenty eight thousand dollars.
“How am I going to pay for this?” She Asked.
Mannen took out a sheet of paper, and explained to Clarity that she could pay installments, whenever she got some money, to add actual equity, or ownership, to the home, which was listed in the name of Lofty, and of Gladeview pawnshop, at a more fine print level. There was no limit on the time that Clarity could use, to pay for the installments.
“So I can buy this over forty years, if I actually have the money then? Because right now, I’m not making any money.”
“Yeah, then you can use the home a few weeks a year. The rest of the time I’ll rent it out, you’ll be the actual lessee. When you get some money, just pay whatever is comfortable for you. I’ll put in the first five thousand dollars for you in the lease agreement, in exchange for the good work you did here.”
Mannen took out the crashworthy agreement of Clarity, where the name of Flower also appeared, noticing the crashworthy insurance policy agreement was signed for a period of fifty years.
“Can I use the money to write off some of the years in crashworthy?” Asked Clarity.
“It’s possible, but not at this very moment, not today. With this agreement, you don’t have to invest one hundred thousand dollars, you’ll be able to waive that requirement of crashworthy, which all of our golf investors bring.”
Not displeased by the offer of Mannen, Clarity glanced at the garden of the cottage, through the window. A familiar silhouette appeared on the driveway of the home. It was Officer Gomes from Customs and Border protection.
“We got company,” she said.
Mannen looked out the window. The customs official was walking on the driveway of the home, followed by police officer Kerrigan. Mannen told Clarity to go to the back of the house, while he talked to the new guests. Walking out of the home through the back, and moving along the outside side brick wall of the home, she listened to the conversation.
“We’re here to pick up Miss Clarity Nice, Mr. Mannen,” said Gomes, “she is here in Florida without any papers, and we agreed that she could work here for a few days, not a few weeks. It’s been several weeks now.”
“Where are you taking her?”
“To the Everglades Correctional facility detention center, there is a spot there which is open.”
Clarity swallowed, taking a step back towards the back of the home, praying that Mannen had a way to get her out of the new immigration predicament.
“I haven’t seen her, she may have left Florida.” Good beginning, thought Clarity. Gomes showed the chubby guy the passport of Clarity, issued by the Republic of Singapore.
“We’ve got her passport, she can’t leave the country.”
Mannen had an additional idea.
“Give me her passport. I’ll use it to bring her out here, and then I’ll bring her to you.”
Gomes glanced at his boss, police officer Kerrigan, who was standing behind him looking at the property’s garden. A place like that wasn’t bad, thought the airport policeman. Kerrigan lowered his head and sniffed the grass along the driveway, ensuring it was genuine. He knew that Mannen was backed by Judge Alridge and the governor. Always trying to do less work, the airport chieftain agreed with Mannen. Gomes handed out the document to the chubby guy. After a few more minutes of chat, the officials left the property.
“Got to get you out of here,” said Mannen.
“Where? I live in Malibu.”
“Not going back to Malibu, you need to leave the country.”
“Get me to Macau, then. That’s where I was going before being queried at the airport.”
“I’ll get you to a nice place. Got one provider of cocoa for Oakland Bellevue who is in Brazil. I’ll take you to one of the regional airports I use to come in and out of Florida, and you can leave on a plane, to make a visit to them, for a while. You can be a cocoa representative.”
Mannen unfolded a map of Rio de Janeiro and pointed to a place in Copacabana, one of the well known beaches of the place.
“I’ll get you a room at the Belmond hotel, you can go there first night. Then, you’ll have to figure out what to do.”
Clarity reflected on the offer, thinking that there were not that many alternatives, which were, as they said, viable. She decided to go ahead, to avoid spending a few weeks, or a few months at the Everglades Correctional Facility. A car from Reverplain came by to pick her up that evening. The driver took her to Ormond Beach municipal airport, one of the airports used by Mannen to get in and out of the country. The hall of the airport was small, and she had no trouble finding the counters of the charter companies operating there. There was no customs area at those airports, people usually traveled to other regional airports in the country, and there was no need for Border and Customs personnel to be there. A hostess working in a charter company led her to the boarding gate area, which had a few seats and a vending machine. She bought an iced tea, and something to eat, and took a seat.
Around nine thirty in the evening, the hostess prompted her to board one of the planes. Walking out to the tarmac, she boarded the Airstar Executive charter flight headed for Rio. The plane took off at night, around eleven pm. She sighed, glad she hadn’t gone through customs or seen Gomes to leave Florida. She had a place in Florida, although it wasn’t her place. Sitting comfortably in her seat, she took out the business card given to her by Mannen. It said Bahia Cocoa Beans, Food production and packaging, member of the Cocoa association of producers in Brazil, Campus do Inmet, Cruzeiro, Brazil. She used her tablet to see the location of Cruzeiro. It was a city in the south east of the country, in the metropolitan region of Vale do Paraiba. Getting a cup from the bar cart for the only drink served on the plane, she told the hostess to pour a hot drink in the cup and she wet her lips with the balanced, fine flavor, cocoa powder beverage.
SUN ON THE ROCKS amusements for adults, are listed below, in easy to read banana humor order. Each of the amusements follows the previous one, but you don’t necessarily need to read previous amusements to follow the one you chose. Backstories and character areas at the beginning of the amusement, and a summary of the amusement, also at the beginning, are there to let you choose and read any of the amusements written, without having to read any other. They provide a summary of the illustrative characters in the amusement and in the general body of amusements, and the various links or connections between them.
THE MALIBU CASE.
THE ACAPULCO COCKTAIL.
THE CAYMAN AIR BANNER.
THE BAHAMAS LOTION.
THE ADULT CHANNEL.
THE OOL BRODERIE.
THE BELLAGIO WIKILEAK.
THE CUBAN RENEGADE.
THE SUGAR BABY.
THE MARBLE TOUCAN.
THE OUTDOOR SHOWER.
THE EMOTION SCALE.
THE VANITY RING.
THE SHABBY SHEIK.
THE COCOANOMICS GAZETTE.
Crafted by Somers Isle & Loveshade.
Sun on the Rocks is genuine banana humor, fresh, trivial, tropical, somewhat irreverent, and also easy-going, or easy-to-peel, like the fruit. This space, which is meant for adults, and portrays characters over twenty one years of age, is blended with light intrigue, with the capacity of those characters in the amusement for understanding general truths, or with information brought by the characters of the amusement and where they are. Some of the characters cast in the amusements express their resourceful intuition and are often acute observers of the laws of human mischief, showing that common sense has not disappeared and that things are not always perfect. Sometimes, there is a social element in the stories that makes the amusement relevant for the community.
The amusement is non violent writing that may provide a sense of support to the daily, which at times ain’t very easy, in a world where the tidbit replaces genuine reflection and thought, people think in chunks of one hundred and forty characters, and common sense is reduced to watching how everyone else is making money. The word cloud of sun on the rocks is particularly benign, and you may begin to notice if you find the material engaging, that it doesn’t take people out of their comfort zone, sometimes because there’s humor, sometimes because the situation is so ridiculous, or because of the words chosen. There’s a reason for that. The world needs stability, not change, and words can engage both social aspects, we choose the former.
The flags shown on the covers of sun on the rocks illustrate our principles guiding the amusement, validation of the day, reward with the reading, and soundness of the amusement. The flags come from the International Code of Signals, a navigation safety system used by boats and ships to communicate.
Each of the flags represents a letter of the alphabet, which is the way I use it, and then, it also represents a particular idea or thing or task that boats are doing, and that they show to other ships, when those ships are near, things like, coming out of the harbor, I need assistance, or simply the idea of yes, yes to some other signal. The ideas of the flags, in the amusement provide a sense of general validation to what we do, they are a visual language showing our social and community values. Each of the letters represents a letter in the pen name Somers Isle & Loveshade. We found a meaning for them, in the context of the amusement.
The letters shown on the covers, are letters V, R, and S of the ICS. Here are the flags, and what they mean, each letter, represented by a flag, represents an idea or quality that begins with that letter, and one of the letters in the three part pen name of Somers Isle & Loveshade. The material of the amusement is :
Validating, letter v, in the word Loveshade : The material is validating, it validates, without engaging in positivism, this idea that, oh gee, everything is going all right, even though things feel like shit, and you have to show a smile anyway. No, some days are normal, but still, I may want my validation, and the amusement provides some of that, it doesn’t make you feel like shit. This is the red and white flag, it also the flag of St. Patrick, that you see in the British flag, along with St. Andrew, and St. George.
Rewarding, letter r, in the word Somers : The red and yellow flag. Yeah, with the amusement, you get a sense that things are going somewhere, things happen, characters are engaging, and again, things dont end up like a disaster, making you feel, wow, life is tough. No, we get enough of that, here you get a sense that the effort you put in, into the reading, was commensurate with what you are getting by the end of the amusement. Reading this, is not taxing emotionally, it is easy to read, feels validating, and rewarding, that is the nature of the amusement. The irreverence in the amusement makes it rewarding to some extent, we like that as well, not conforming to any pattern.
and Sound, letter s, in the word Isle : There is no violence in the amusements, they are sound, they generate a sense that we are all part of the community, sometimes we have to be around people who don’t always agree with us, and with whom we don’t agree. With this, we feel good about what we do and what we write, we keep things interesting, without showing anything violent. Instead we use humor, social humor, less draining, and more satisfying, it is something which is not damaging the general social tissue of the community.
Ridiculous situations are used to show social barriers, which may be preventing a person from a different perspective, more humane, and realistic, more engaging as well. If there is not much love left in the world, in the way we live, there may be a love shade, a shade of love remaining, which allows us to be engaging with other people around us, whether we like these people or not, whether we agree with them or not. The good looking woman like Clarity, is there to keep us engaged with that part of us. There’s nothing wrong with having the beauty and common sense of a woman engage that engaging, sound part of us. Engagement and social connection is what makes a community, so we like that over so called ‘success’, something we may shred to pieces in various ways, until it is disengaged, dismantled, defused, destroyed, and disconnected, until it becomes devoid of the problems it might create in someone’s thinking.
That is the premise of Sun on the Rocks, there’s always people around you, who may not be that good for you, sometimes friends, family, peers, a boss, but there’s always a way to get away from them. You can also negotiate with them in some way, or make them look bad outright, because they don’t mean well, or look for someone friendly, and surround your daily life with those who appreciate you, genuinely, without you having to be ‘turned on’ or showing a social mask, which has become useless, as a result of the rise of the social network, and which is not good for anyone. If nothing else, there’s always you, and that’s really all you might need, a good connection with your own, with just being you, genuine, and being quite comfortable with that. You’ll also need a shitload of assertiveness, to face the motherfuckers who want to influence or configure your way of thinking, or make money off of you, and also to get rid of the thoughts of all those social influencers, observing the world around you, just to understand wtf, and where the fuck we are, and that’s also something we try to point out in the amusements.
Sun on the Rocks is sold as is, to keep the amusements fresh and irreverent for the community. This is not polished, it is an amusement, there is no crew of editors here, there is no large publisher behind this content, this is all indie stuff, run out of a small place. A spellcheck is run with Ginger to ensure proper spelling, and the draft is read once or so, so that it reads all right and things make sense. We know there is value here, that is why we place the quarter on the covers. In the last chapter, there are a few references related to work or education. We like that, fiction can only bring someone so far, and then, everyone has to work. We like bridges, and not disconnects, between the two areas, and we think it makes a lot of sense for the community to do that.
The banana humor amusements of Sun on the Rocks have gathered a total of 20,000 downloads and about 90,000 views or reads, on several platforms, such as Shakespir, Barnes and Noble, Kobo books, Sony, Inktera, community blogsites Our Salon and Open Salon, the free-ebooks.net platform, and the Apple Store. On blogsite communities our salon and open salon, the amusements have gathered a total of about one hundred comments from people who connect, or like, or can relate to what is in the amusement. You can see those comments below, to see what other people think about the amusements.
All fictional characters of these amusements
are adults at least twenty one years of age.
This is the banana humor version of the Cocoanomics Gazette.
Amusements are easy to read stories for adults
which can be read in about three or four hours.
Join the sun on the rocks community on noisetrade
If you would like to read the amusement in a community setting, you can join the blogsite community our salon, I post amusements there with the pen name workstudio, please sign up here : http://bit.ly/2cmP6iJ
The Malibu Case.
Or whether corporate nudity should be part of the dress code.
The Acapulco Cocktail.
Or how a cocktail drink can turn a holiday into a traction with the Law.
The Cayman Air Banner.
Or going where your money goes to keep an eye on how it disappears.
The Bahamas Lotion.
Or discerning when the notion of a lotion is not beauty but dependence.
The Adult Channel.
Or how renting pleasure is different from owning it.
The OOL Broderie.
Or whether a wedding can be arranged as a matter of levity.
The Bellagio Wikileak.
Or relying on information before the information relies on you.
The Cuban Renegade.
Or whether gold can be backed by a renegade,
when money is backed by the cap of Castro.
The Sugar Baby.
Or whether sugar can turn to salt when someone overlooks the honey.
The Marble Toucan.
Or how those who want you to leave your place are those who should leave in the first place.
The Outdoor Shower.
Or how a shower can bring good weather to the bottom line.
The Emotion Scale.
Or looking at how you feel to let others choose how you think.
Or how the merchant of longevity
can sell a claim to live longer by monetizing wisdom.
The Vanity Ring.
Or discerning when vanity is worn in order to meddle with the lives of others.
The Shabby Sheik.
Or whether a golden cage can bring both gold and freedom when properly used.
The Cocoanomics Gazette.
Or how some principles guide people,
and some people make the principles, to navigate other people.
100 COMMENTS FROM READERS OF OPEN SALON AND OUR SALON,
ORIGINAL BLOGSITES OF SUN ON THE ROCKS BANANA HUMOR
(R and R+ stand for rated, or liked)
THE MALIBU CASE
ch.14 – Frisky, light-hearted, and delightful! Consistently! This should be a GRAPHIC novel (when you finally get around to publishing!) R+
ch.3 – This is so clever. Everything is “normal” except the central dilemma of (gasp) optional nudity. With nonchalant humor you are making an individual rights argument out of this. I can hear you pitching this to a TV exec: “Who could object to that?”
I think you could actually pull this off (no pun) in reality if the characters were discretely / artfully filmed! It could be great fun. These are unique characters who are “over the horizon” in leading the California trend. R
ch.13 – Fun read. That package and who got it will bring me back. R
ch.12 – I want to see the video version of this story! What a romp.
ch.12 – Quite a revealing case. Quick and playful, this story scampers right up to the edge of decency and then sticks its tongue out.
ch.12 – This plot has the sexiest curves.
ch.1 – This is deceptively breezy and fun. I. did. not. expect. THIS! Good show! R
ch.15 – Hurray! The girls won and we are all the beneficiaries of their determination. I hope that we will have further adventures about the floating spa and that the long arm of the law can’t reach them in inter national waters. R
ch.15 – Sorry I’ve been away and missed the last few installments. I’m glad to see the girls came out of this in stellar fashion. It was a fun read, and I’m looking forward to the south of the border installments. R
ch.15 – Sweet, sweet, sweet. And I think you may have set-up the next Episode in the series! Hmmm. I just noticed that others feel the same. Good! R+
ch.14 – Phew! The package picker-upper turns out to be on our side….at least for now. I guess it all comes down to the vote. Go naturism! R
ch.13 – If we Amuricans have a right to bear arms, the girls have a right to bare whatever! I vote yes. Fun read. That package and who got it will bring me back. R
ch.13 – Lots of limbs to go out on here. I’m always intrigued by the persistence of the press.
ch.12 – You just seem to strip the story to its bare essentials and cut to the chase ;).
ch.12 – Very amusing. Am I the only girl here? Is that weird?
ch.11 – It looks like the governor will have to get involved! A night under the stars, clothing optional I hope? R
ch.11 – I just wish I could have conceived this saga. So breezy and tongue-in-cheek! R+
ch.10 – You really make this sound reasonable and imminent! R+
ch.10 – If it were only that easy… hey, maybe it would be if someone only tried it! When writing, it’s recommended to stick to the bare essentials. You can’t get any bare than this subject. Still reading. R
ch.9 – Yes, these are burning questions! When is the rally? Excuse me, but I’m sticking to my leather chair here at work… R
ch.8 – “Proposition 531 has a secret.” A secret proposition, why am I not surprised? You still have me guessing for answers. Keep up the suspense. R
ch.8 – Yeah, yah, YES. Vivid, breezy, and irresistible. Can’t wait. R+
ch.7 – What a cool caper. Such tension and intrigue, and I keep reminding myself of how tongue-in-cheek the mission really is. Great satire. R
ch.7 – “I found something interesting, come here.” Now you have my curiosity aroused. This is a great series. Keep going. R
ch.7 – I enjoy the story..thank you for writing and sharing..See you here..Best regards.
ch.7 – refreshing and fun, like a more realistic Charlie’s Angels. Keep it coming. R
ch.6 – I can’t believe I’ve been missing these! I was sure I had “favorited” you! You must also link to the Fiction Weekend site when you can. Still a great script. R
ch.6 – Me, again. I just want to suggest that when you post a new installment that you go back and put in a “next” link to your previous installment. There isn’t another sexy, funny, charming story like this being done! R
ch.6 – This is funny, hip and sexy with tongue firmly in cheek. I love all the little touches like the upscale thong for example. R
ch.6 – The plot thickens! Everyone seems to be having a great time here, with the exception of our officer friend. R
ch.5 – You GO, girls! Let me gather a few things and I’ll go with you… R+
ch.5 – Do I see a road movie starting to appear? R
ch.4 – Gasp! Oh, no! My damsels are in distress! This is sooooo script-ready. ACTION! +
ch.4 – Sorry I’m late. Swimming naked, high above the city… sounds intriguing. R
ch.3 – Ok, now I’ve read all three chapters, and am up to date with the bare essentials… so to say. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes. R
ch.3 – l love it! Totally confirms what we easterners think: everyone in California has a screw loose. I think clothing optional day is a logical extension of casual friday. I am now backtracking to catch up on the earlier installments. R
THE ACAPULCO COCKTAIL
ch.1 – Hurray! A new adventure. Reading each installment is like a mini-vacation….with beautiful aquanauts thrown in for good measure. R
ch.2 – Cocktails, sun….I’m hooked. R
ch.4 – Even a fish would not get caught if it kept its mouth shut! lol
ch.4 – Looks as if the girls should start learning some Spanish.
I hope they are not going loco down in Acapulco! R
ch.4 – Do they have cable in Mexican jail?
ch.4 – I knew it, I knew it. The girls cannot stay out of trouble. Could a Mexican prison be next? This is a lot of fun. R
ch.4 – Hey I want that job! It sounds like something I could do from home, while relaxing in my Lazy-Boy recliner. You have me thirsty for the next chapter. Sorry I’m late, but I was having a cold one out by the pool. R
ch.6 – another great read………supertaster?……gotta hear more…..R
ch.5 – well done again…R
ch.6 – Effortless intrigue! You put me right there. R+
ch.7 – This is such a breezy web, I can’t believe the weight of mystery you are able to hold! R
ch.5 – I swallowed this like a shooter. It is a strong story, and I’ll say it like always: could easily be a script! R
ch.4 – Yeah! You are raising the voltage nicely with this one. I didn’t see the “safe” coming! R+
THE CAYMAN AIR BANNER
ch.4 – Well – I love this so far and will keep reading!
ch.8 – This does hold your interest.
ch.12 – At last the fight. The bit with the elusive canapés and limping along limo was priceless. R
ch.11 – You do create a surreal environment: a little James Bond with a dash of Clouseau. R
ch.1 – Hurray, a new adventure! I’ve been away awhile. I have a lot of catching up to do. R
ch.1 – 20%! That must have been pre 2007, or else someone is going to lose their savings on a deal that sounds too good to be true. Let the action begin. R
ch.7- The interplay between Clarity and Flower is priceless. R
ch.6 – I’d hang on to my money if I was in Clarity’s bikini. R
ch.5 – Just like a banker to steal your earrings while you are sleeping. R
ch.4 – So many directions it can go. R
ch.1 – hahah..ok, waiting to see where this goes!
ch.12 – At last the fight. The bit with the elusive canapés and limping along limo was priceless. R
ch.13 – 1,500 golfers gone. Should be easier to get a tee time. Sounds like the girls are closing in for the kill. R
ch.15 – I learned a new word-scandium! “Let´s change into the tigress outfits, maybe it´ll be our turn tonight, you´re getting me in the mood.” Perfect! I can picture it!
ch.3 – A surreal, but fascinating turn of events. Gallinaceous, indeed. R
ch.16 – somehow I missed seeing your interesting series in the activity feed here—will read through all of your chapters this weekend and hope you have another series in the pipeline here!
ch.10 – Is Bernie Made-off part of this operation? The girls are going to have a hard time doping this out. R
ch.2 – Ladies, hang onto your money and bikini tops. R
ch.11 – “Buddha Talk walks his talk, and talks only when needed.” This is such a neat line!
ch.1 – Place tongue firmly in cheek and prepare for takeoff! R
THE BAHAMAS LOTION
ch.1 – Wow, here we go again. Great start of a new adventure. R
ch.6 – This whole story is hilarious.
ch.13 – “She stole this egg, she stole it from the temple of Wat Phodaram, Wat Pho, the temple of the reclining, glistening, mother of pearl Buddha, in Thailand, where the statues watch and protect ecstasy, and the subtle channels open your wisdom to the quiet mind and show you how the body works. “ This is a hoot!
ch.4 – “The truck, an Isuzu FTR 800 class 2 pumper imported from the Fire and Rescue Agency of New South Wales in Wagga Wagga, Australia, was beaming a blue siren, approaching the limo at high speed. Stretching above Lanai, Taimi and Cynthia were struggling atop the truck with Jenna, who was surfing the air, holding balance by grabbing the ladder.” What fabulous detail-I can create a perfect image in my mind.
Rosebud-I’m pretty sure I know what THAT reference is.
ch.12 – “Avalon was wearing an extra small ivory color Isabella thong by Myla, made of dusk silk satin, Elastene, and cotton gusset lining.” You have a way with detail! I had to look up the thong. Boy, they are expensive!
ch.12 – “That´s how I fooled the Sex Brigade at Neria B.” Immediately a Bowie song popped into my head: “Ground control to Sex Brigade, your circuits dead, there’s something wrong.” I think those lyrics are better than the original.
ch.12 – what a supremely odd universe I have landed in. I dunno what to make of this place yet, but it sure seems amorphously enticing, offering magical new technology and a supremely erotic atmosphere wherein breasts are softly offered to the table! and this: “It depends on what you view as sex,” indeed.
ch.12 – “It´s simple, we disagree over the definition of pleasure,” said Avalon, “over the meaning of it in fact. But we want to take over that resort.” Ah, yes! You go girls!
BTW, you have subtly painted quite a scene involving naked women. Very subtle, but very descriptive as well.
ch.11 – OMG-I am so far behind! Forgive me. I will catch up! “Elony´s not approved by the FDA, Lanai.”“ I love this. What kind of fun stuff IS approved by the FDA?
ch.9 – “The girl named Lanai has been sent to study the book of Decadence in more detail with other scribes.” Can I borrow that book? This is a great story.
ch.8 – “I love the service here,” said Lanai. That’s an understatement!
ch.2 – I’m pretty sure I know what the lotion is! Can’t wait to find out.
ch.5 – “Have you been thinking of tupperware sex lately?” I’m quite sure I’ve never heard that expression before!
ch.6 – “Some type of hedonist resort, there shouldn´t be that many in the Bahamas” This whole story is hilarious, but this statement is the most hilarious of them all. I HAVE been to the Bahamas, you know, mostly out islands where anything goes!
ch.7 – “Men are only in charge of security here, their presence is accessory.” I like to accessorize!
ch.16 – “She cherished that exhibitionist tendency which was part of her, part of her strength as an adult.” Ah yes!
THE ADULT CHANNEL / THE ABU DHABI CHANNEL
Having spent some time in that part of the world, I’m curious to see how you envision an “adult channel” in Abu Dahbi. Should be a hoot.
ch.1 – Wow. I am saving a link to this post. Very helpful. One hot franchise!
ch.1 – A Church of pleasure, devotion to pleasure above all other notions or creeds, you could call it a devotional temple of pleasure. I’m converting!
ch.3 – “small battery operated dental fixtures that could also be used as sex toys” – Your imagination is superb!
ch.4 – “I Don´t trust the water, I drink only Nordic Mist tonic water.”
“It´s made by Coca Cola, the perfect soft drink.”
Do you get something for product placement? Funny!
ch.6 – lol “Just sexual, I mean sex, wasn´t sure about love, because I thought if you mix sex and love, you might get pregnant.”
THE OOL BRODERIE / THE BAHRAIN BRODERIE
ch.13 – Looks very amusing, and makes me want to take along to the beach for a long lingering read.
four star rating of ool broderie on goodreads, follow the link or search ool broderie goodreads, on google : http://bit.ly/2d6bQDy
THE CUBAN RENEGADE
ch.4 – I loved “the Egyptian method to move stones.” There is a delightful whiff of Kafka about all this.
ch.4 – You have my attention!
ch.6 – I found this to be highly erotic.
ch.8 – “This is how we´ll use the bitcoin in this decryptor if anything goes wrong.” Ha! I have to see how this plays out.
ch.10 – “you mean using Cuban cigars as currency for Cuba.” That would give new meaning to the phrase “my savings went up in smoke”.
ch.14 – Great, as usual.
THE SUGAR BABY
ch.9 – I love all the names!!! esp Clarity.
ch.11 – Wow!
ch.14 – Woo!
ch.15 – You have such a unique writing style that turns me on and intrigues me at the same time.
THE OUTDOOR SHOWER
ch.1 – Bravo.
ch.2 (liked) – I was thinking of putting in an outdoor shower just the other day. Hadn’t thought of having any walls.
somers isle – I’m so bad at DIY that not sure how I’d do the shower or the walls, I’d probably have to go with the bucket of water.
somers isle, to the first reader – apparently, there is both options, not sure what is more popular, here is a couple of designs for you, http://bit.ly/29etROS
another reader – I had an outdoor shower in my previous place, which was out in the country and private. It was a garden arch with grapes growing all over it. Lovely… Also came in handy when we had our little festival…
somers isle – garden arch with grapes does sound lovely, I resonate with anything unprocessed, home out in the country sounds nice, no city noises, privacy is important.
same reader – I made another, closer to our camping area, with walls of salvaged metal gazebo pieces and blue tarp hung behind. (Living in the country for privacy, plus country dump!)
first reader , after some reflection – We live in the woods, but with neighbors nearby. I could probably get by without walls in the summer. In the winter when the leaves are gone I would be inside anyway. I haven’t really considered this enough to draw up a plan.
THE SHABBY SHEIK
reader from barnes and noble: humorous and interesting.
The person gave the amusement a five star rating.
Search ‘shabby sheik barnes noble sun on the rocks’ on google, to see the rating.
BACKSTORIES AND CHARACTERS
great the way you have this constructed, with the linx etc….
A TOTAL OF 100 COMMENTS FROM THE COMMUNITY.
SUN ON THE ROCKS IS CRAFTED BY SOMERS ISLE & LOVESHADE,
crafting each amusement for the community,
one ridiculous situation at a time.
Compound Interest Calculator Clarity keeps close, for retirement purposes (savings plan is in the Cayman Air Banner):
Careers and Professional Designations to consider:
Chartered Financial Analyst: www.cfainstitute.org
Certified Financial Planner: www.cfp.net
Think and Grow Rich: Napoleon Hill’s classic book on wealth.
How to Make Money (free pdf book from 1859)
cash flow game of Robert Kiyosaki
Educational sites, communities, and global news:
Boston University online: www.bu.edu/online/
Visual Global News: www.newsmap.jp
News in Florida[_:_] www.palmbeachpost.com
Our Salon community: oursalon.ning.com
Bermuda College: www.college.bm
University College Cayman Islands: www.ucci.edu.ky
Free online university classes: www.coursera.org
Ohio State University: www.osu.edu
University of Arizona: www.arizona.edu
University of Hawaii: www.hawaii.edu
Coming out of her recent rumpus with Sheik Hari Al-Najib in the British Virgin Islands, teleoperator Clarity Nice flies out of BVI to Florida, in order to stay in Miami, and to avoid taking another plane back to Macau. Awaiting for her there in Asia, are those who purchased the ring by Mauboussin that Clarity received in Singapore, a ring kept by videographer Plum Bailey in BVI, which shows a symbol in one of the baguettes, known as the 'incomplete triangle'. While in transit in Florida, she is arrested by Customs and Border Immigration at Miami International Airport, after showing up in a list of people to watch, involved with the theft of federal bonds, previously held by the shady Cayman Islands banking agent Buddha Talk. To avoid going to a local detention center, Clarity is hired by Lloyd, a representative of the shady banking agent, who tells her that his boss wants a beachhead in South Florida, in the fast food beef and burger market. The market for burgers in the region, is dominated by rivals Moe Alamy, and by her protege, Gavino di Laure, the owners of the Mclannan's burger franchise, and of its mascot, Ollie the clown. Clarity reaches the lavish home of Buddha Talk in the Florida Keys, Swankeye, to help him out with 'business'. The banking agent, whose real name is Joe Mannen, has been having some problems with Cayman authorities. Inspectors Taylor and Marville are inquiring in his home in Florida, about the renewal license of Mannen's main business in the Cayman Islands, Lofty Bank. Mannen's reputation as a mobster has been dented with local Cappi of South Florida, by the disappearance of one million in stolen bonds, formerly held in his home in Cayman, now under Federal custody, after a whistle blower in a strip club called Milton's, told di Laure about the stolen bonds held by Mannen's pilot. In a meeting involving the various mobsters who rule the meat packing, distribution, and retail segments in South Florida, Mannen is left without a share of the meat business, and with the swamped Everglades territory of Monroe as the only turf to establish any burger related business. The only real business di Laure allows for Mannen is a small pawnshop in Miami, called the Gladeview pawnshop. Mannen knows that di Laure wants him out of South Florida, without any business at all. To restablish credibility with Cappi, using a manual called Cocoanomics found in a liquidation notice listed in the Cayman Islands Gazette, Mannen sends off Clarity to learn of di Laure's plans. She becomes a regular employee of Mclannan's, attending the rigorous training program of Ollie Burger University at the Mclannan's training center in Boynton, Florida. Dodging the henchman of Di Laure, Ambrosio, she will have to find a way to alter the Ollie burger of the franchise, to elicit a sale by Di Laure to Mannen of some of the locations of the profitable burger restaurants.