The Maltese Cat is officially a business consultant. In actuality, he has been involved in corporate espionage for most of his career. He targets corrupt businessmen and politicians and makes a handsome living out of correcting their inequities.
“Escheatment”, Book 1 in the Maltese Cat Book Series continues with new exciting adventures. Enjoy:
Chapters 1 & 2, 3 & 4, 5 & 6, 7 & 8, 9 & 10, Chapter 11,
Chapters 12 & 13, 14-16, 17, 18, Chapters 19 & 20,
Chapter 21, 22 & 23, 24, 25, 26, Chapters 27-29
Chapter 30, 31-32, 33-34, chapters 35 & 36,
Chapters 37-39, 40-41, chapters 42-43, 44-45, chapters 46-47
Chapters 48-49, 50-51, chapters 52-53, 54, chapters 55-56,
Chapters 57-59, 60-61.
A week had passed since his telephone call with Kwan Lee and James was back in his office. An account had been set up in the name of The Janus Group, as Mr. Kwan stipulated. That seemed so appropriate since James had looked up the meaning of Janus and found that it was the ancient Roman god of beginnings and transitions. The group had passed a cursory inspection. James didn’t feel it necessary to continue to delve into the background of the group. He never did that for other customers, anyway. Just took them at their word. Yes, there was more money involved here but he could not afford to lose this one as a client. Not now that he had lost the escheatment project. He had considered continuing the hoax, but he also realized that the entire structure was at risk, now that the Taliban was involved. The bank transfer system had obviously been breached and he had no intention of pouring good money after bad. He didn’t even inform Michael Clary. Best to just leave things as they were. He would not be sending any more directives as to which funds were earmarked for forwarding to Switzerland. Let Clary sweat. “I certainly have,” thought James.
With the new contact, Mr. Kwan, James felt good about his prospects. He had arranged with Mr. Kwan for a Special Fee in which Mr. Kwan’s group would pay him off the books for his attentive services. Why had he never thought of this before?
“Probably because it is illegal,” said a little voice in his head, but then he quickly stifled that nonsense. No one gets hurt. Zapp, Inc. gets far more money than they ever expected, his firm gets commission far in excess of the norm, and James starts to move back in the fast lane. If he could only keep doing more business with this syndicate.
His train of thought was interrupted by a call from his secretary.
“I have a Mr. Peter Abagasian on the line for you.”
“He just said ‘Mr. Kwan’. He said that you would understand.”
James broke into a cold sweat. Now, what was wrong? A revocation? That can’t be. James had already spent some of his fees.
He answered his telephone cautiously.
“Mr. Van Houten. I believe we have a mutual acquaintance. A Mr. Kwan Lee.”
“What can I do for you, Mr. Abagasian?”
“Mr. Kwan and his partners are putting in a bid for Zapp, Incorporated.”
“I cannot comment on any of my clients, Mr. Abagasian.”
“I understand that they are bidding between forty to fifty million dollars for an exclusive share in that company.”
“Now, I don’t know who is feeding you such information, but I can…”
Mr. Abagasian broke him off. “I have it on unimpeachable sources that this is true, Mr. Van Houten.”
“Regardless of what or what not you may have heard…”
“I am willing to match their bid and exceed it.”
Now James fell silent.
What was this? He had privy information. And he claims he can outbid them!
“I am not sure what to say to you. I have no idea who you are or who you represent, but…”
“Indulge me, Mr. Van Houten. My group is based in Macau. Mr. Kwan and I have contested many investments. I must admit that he usually loses. We are better capitalized. We are better informed, better organized. And we are cleverer.”
James said nothing.
“Consider my offer, Mr. Van Houten. I can assure you that you will be well rewarded aligning yourself with us.”
“Mr. Abagasian,” James spoke slowly. “Allow me to check into your organization. Until then, I can make no comment.”
“Very well, sir. When can I have your answer?”
“I will have my secretary transfer the necessary paperwork and we can take it from there. ‘When’ will be dependent upon how soon you can return the completed documents to us.”
“Fair enough. I will give your secretary our numbers and await your transmission. Consider wisely, Mr. Van Houten. This may be the start of an ongoing cooperation between us.”
They both hung up and James fell into deep thought.
He did not feel the euphoria he did after Mr. Kwan’s initial call. This call was a surprise that had different ramifications. If what Mr. Abagasian said was true, it opened the doors to new possibilities. How he got his information was puzzling. It had not come out of his own office, he believed. No one knew the details other than himself. He had heard of the porous security in the Orient. No doubt these two had spies in each other’s closets.
Could he encourage the two parties to start a bidding war? Somehow that seemed unlikely. They probably knew what each other were doing. What if, James started to think, he sold exclusive rights to BOTH of these groups? He could collect double as much. He would sell each 50% of the shares and aver that this was the entire packet. Later, when things came to light, we would claim that the company, Zapp, made a last minute change and he was obligated to his client to go along with it. All very plausible. That way we would capture $100 million! Oh, sweet Jesus! Plus a special fee. Times two! Yes! That is what he should do.
James’s adrenaline level started to spike. God, this is better than sex!
Boys Club Meeting – Rebellion
The boys were sitting around the Croyton Mansion living room. James had called for another meeting but then canceled his appearance. He promised to conference call. Charles Croyton had set up his iPad on the coffee table. The boys were in a holding pattern.
Ashton Price quipped, “He said he had another way to generate cash.”
Carter Roxwell added, “I should hope so. We lost a lot on the other one.”
“Then why isn´t he here, if it’s so important?” asked Bo.
Charles was making adjustments to the iPad.
“I’m sure he has his reasons.”
Half an hour later, as the boys grew restless and were ready to leave, James came through on the iPad.
“Sorry for the delay. I was working out the last details.”
“Hello, stranger. Where the hell have you been?” said Croyton,
“Working,” James said tersely. “I have a new plan. You’ll like it. You don’t have to do a thing. I have a couple of clients from the Far East and they will supplement our income. We’re back, Boys!”
“And what are your Asian friends going to do for us?”
“Can’t explain it in details right now. But trust me, I found another gold mine.”
“What are we supposed to do?”
“Nothing. That’s the genius of it. And when I say, ‘Nothing’, I mean nothing. No more drugs. That will just get us into trouble.
Relax, I got everything covered.”
James rang off and left the boys staring at each other.
Carter smiled and chimed jubilantly, “Well, that’s it! VH comes through again.”
He high-fived Charles next to him. They were both happy.
Bo said, “And we are supposed to believe it?”
Carter responded, “Why not? VH said so.”
“So it’s got to be true, right?”
“What do you mean?” asked Ashton, cautiously.
“Doesn’t it seem odd to you that VH disappears for weeks, after a complete disaster, and then he suddenly shows up to save the day?”
“Don’t follow you,” said Charles.
“Look. We’re all busting our heinies trying to come up with money and VH doesn’t contribute a dime. Then, all of a sudden, he’s going to take care of everything.”
“Well, at least that gets us out of the drug business,” said Charles, who was uncomfortable with the new business.
“I’m supposed to stop with all our contacts just like that. Just because VH says to?”
Bo let them think a pause, and then he continued.
“Has it ever occurred to any of you that VH duped us all? That maybe the money in the Caribbean didn’t just up and
disappear? That maybe it was his plan all along and VH has hidden it all away for himself.”
“Then why would he come up with something now?” Carter asked.
“Because it’s chicken feed compared to what he already has. He gives us a little and keeps the big pot. There was how
much – two-hundred million?”
The boys discussed, back and forth, this new idea of Bo’s. They found it difficult to believe that James would trick them all this way, after all these years together and what they had shared. Each knew too much about each other. But the seeds of doubt were planted.
Bo announced, “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not going to count on nothing until I see results. Meanwhile, for me, it’s business as usual. And if you ask me, it should be that way for each and every one of you. Or do you want to go back to living on a salary?”
They nodded in complicit agreement.
James sat in his own living room. He smiled contentedly, thinking about how the meeting went. He hadn’t the courage to face the gang in person, not knowing what they thought of him. Ever since they disembarked from the yacht on that fateful trip he had avoided contact with the boys. He needed to make amends with them to gain their trust in him again. Finally, he had a way to do this. If he played his cards right, he could continue to do business with Kwan and Abagasian, perhaps for years.
Everyone knew that Singapore and Macau were loaded with money. He could help them buy into the US and make a killing for himself on the side.
He reflected on what the Boys Club meant to him. He derived his feeling of self-worth from them. Others came and went but not the Boys. He would never be a success in his father’s eyes. But within the Boys Club, he was always the leader. It was his idea to put together this group. He was the one who named it. He was the one who held them together. Come feast or famine, he knew he could count on them. That is why it was so important for James to redeem himself. In a short time, he would do just that. Things were looking up again. He felt the need to celebrate. Well, it was a Tuesday night. Maybe he could get lucky at the Nob Hill Theatre.