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, 27-29, Chapter 30, 31-32, 33-34, 35 & 36, Chapters 37-39, 40-41, chapters 42-43, 44-45, 46-47 Chapters 48-49, 50-51, chapters 52-53, 54, 55-56,Chapters 57-59, 60-61, 62-63, 64-65, 66-68, 69-70, 71-72, 73-75, 76-77, chapters 78-80.
Chapter 81: “James Goes To the Club Xanadu”
James was driving through the downtown streets in the Financial District. Once again he had put in a long day and it was late at night. He did this not because he had become an ardent worker, as his father now thought, but rather because the long hours at work kept him from thinking about his personal problems. The big company car which he drove lumbered through the various turns. He was lucky to have the use of the car. His other leased sports cars had long been reclaimed for non-payment. He cashed his monthly paycheck at the Western Union office close to his office these days and left nothing to chance. He paid for everything in cash. His credit rating was a mess. Somebody was still waging a cyber war against him and he was powerless to defend himself.
Another reason that he stayed in the office so long was that he avoided social contact. He didn’t worry much about the Taliban. The Swiss bank was the one that botched that job. Let them deal with the Taliban. The Chinese mafia was another story. He had Wikipediaed the words “14K Triad” and was horrified at what he found. This gang was far worse than what Kwan Lee had implied. Not only did they operate in Hong Kong, Macau, and China, but they also were active in San Francisco. These days, every time James saw a Chinese person, he stiffened inside, not knowing if the next one might just be a member of the 14K sent out to deal with him. The fact that San Francisco had so many Chinese made it practically impossible for James to go out in public. Even something as harmless as a trip to the grocery store left James trembling. Therefore, he sequestered himself in his office and hoped that the Chinese employees that worked at his father’s firm had no connections back to the home country.
James had cut back his social activities as well. He didn’t want to go out in public, but also his limited income put a damper on the lifestyle he once lived. Polo was certainly out of the question. His horses were stabled but their unpaid monthly charges were adding up. His memberships at the Pacific Golf Club and the tennis club were paid up for the year, but the upcoming year could present a problem. Obviously, the Intrepid was no longer lying in dock at the St. Francis Yacht Club. It had been recalled to Panama.
As he drove around aimlessly, he realized he didn’t want to go back to an empty apartment. The Nob Hill Theatre was out of the question. Too many variables there. One never knew who one might meet, even if the idea did excite him. He decided to drive across town to the Club Xanadu. He had not been there for months – not since the incident with Donna’s friend and the gang rape by the Boys Club. The Boys Club. It seemed like eons ago. He had lost all contact with his former friends. Perhaps, of all things, that is what he missed the most. As children, they had sworn allegiance to each other. Where were they now? He had to admit that he had not reached out to them after the disastrous Caribbean trip. But neither had they. He had heard that they were all working for Bo. Drug dealing? He would not get caught up in that. He was too smart to get busted for dealing in drugs. How could the others fall into that? He could understand how Bo would do such a thing. Bo was always a bit different. More rough around the edges. He had not attended Dartmouth with the rest of them, opting instead to go to a local college. A state college at that! Bo was like a kid from the street that the rest allowed in. Well, let them take their risks with him. James would choose a higher road.
James pulled up to a parking spot a half a block from the Club Xanadu. He sat for a moment in his car and reminisced about the last time he was here. The girl that Donna had brought – what was her name? She had taken her chances and wanted to play with the big boys. If she was so stupid to get drugged, it was her own fault. She should have been more cautious. James climbed out of his car and headed to his familiar playground.
Inside the club, the patrons were active. The dance floor was crowded and the booths surrounding the floor were practically all full as well. At the bar, James noticed a stunning woman. She had long, straight black hair and a slender but curvaceous figure. She wore a sleeveless long dress that seemed to be made of silk or some satin material. It was slit up high on one side all the way up her thigh. Somehow, she seemed out of place at this club, far too refined for this type of clientele. A man approached her with malicious intent. The woman very coolly and adroitly dismissed her suitor, leaving the man to slink away. James eyed this with interest. It offered him a challenge. He wasted no time in approaching her. As he stood next to her, she turned and glared at him with piercing, bright green eyes. Contact lenses? Surely this combination could not be natural. She appeared Mediterranean in descent. What did it matter? It was the chase and the conquest that counted. James introduced himself. She countered with her name, “Yasmin.” How exotic! And such a sultry voice! James sat down on the stool next to her and for the next 20 minutes they engaged in sprightly conversation. Neither divulged much of themselves. Most everything was solely innuendo. It was a fencing match with thrusts and ripostes, feints and retreats. James was fascinated and his guest seemed to enjoy the encounter as well. He ordered drinks. Yasmin ordered bottled water. Ah, though James. The raver’s standard choice. Typically used together with Ecstasy to hydrate and keep going all night long. Could she be such a person? James ordered a Jack Daniels on the rocks. He scrutinized this beauty before him. She wore a large ring on the middle finger on her right hand, with an immense lilac colored stone mounted on it. Costume jewelry? Or an heirloom? James knew little of real jewelry and could never distinguish between
the real thing and a fake. He followed her exquisite arm up to the elbow. On her forearm, she had a series of parallel, identical scars, as if in a striation. Was she a cutter? Looked more like a cultural oddity. Perhaps she was just kinky. I could do kinky tonight, thought James.
After his second drink, James became bolder. He told her that he was a good friend of the owner and he could arrange a private room, away from the cacophony of the other patrons. She subtly nodded her consent. James stood up and walked over to the bartender. As he spoke to the other man, Yasmin flicked open the top of her ring with her thumb. The stone was not as large as it seemed. It was hinged and revealed a small compartment below it, filled with a white powder.
Adeptly in one smooth movement, she emptied the contents into James’s drink. It effervesced for a moment, and just as quickly the dark liquid returned to its innate state. James returned and told her that he had ordered a bottle of champagne for the two them. Before he departed, he quaffed the remainder of his drink and escorted Yasmin to the lobby and then to a private room.
In the darkened alley, two large men walked towards a parked black Cadillac. One of the men carried a body over his shoulder. The man without the body opened the back side door, while the other man tossed in the body as easily as he would handle a rag doll, and then climbed in the back seat beside the body. The first man closed the door, then opened the driver’s door and entered. Out of the darkness, Yasmin appeared and slipped into the passenger seat in front. The car drove away.
Chapter 82: The Maltese Cat’s Explanation
Upon his return to San Francisco, the Maltese Cat decided to celebrate with his friends at home. He enjoyed cooking for friends and he had a most unusual venue for entertaining. Two years after he had moved into his rented Macondray Lane house, he requested permission from the owner to construct a wooden deck on the roof. He came prepared with building plans and a city building permit. Jimmy was instrumental in securing the building permit so quickly, since he worked in that area. The owner consented readily since she found the idea intriguing. She also was impressed that he had taken the initiative to do all the work and secure the necessary permits. The wooden patio offered a spectacular view, overlooking the rooftops of the surrounding buildings and out onto the San Francisco Bay. The construction consisted of a mahogany-stained wooden deck, surrounded by a wall of glass plates as a safety measure. An outdoor, covered grill in polished metal stood ready for use next to a giant collapsible sunshade. An extendable table was set up, large enough to accommodate a small group for an intimate dinner. Exterior steps led down the rear of the house where a landing was constructed for access to the house.
The Cat had prepared a rack of lamb, together with individual plates of baby spinach salad garnished with grape tomatoes and pecans, and mesquite and garlic roasted polenta, all served with San Francisco Sourdough French Bread and California red wine. The weather was temperate and inviting. The burning candles set inside large glass goblets were more for the ambiance than for the light.
The dinner guests consisted of all of the six Zapp Kids, Jimmy Donnegan and Tessa, and Tim McPhail and his wife, Tina, who was Jimmy’s younger sister. They were all dying to hear the rest of the full story about the Boys Club, but the Maltese Cat insisted that they first enjoy their meal. Tessa flattered the Cat by saying, “I don’t care what all the restaurant critics claim. The best meals I have ever experienced have been right here on this rooftop.”
Tina added, “And the view is so romantic. Incredible.”
It was an Indian Summer evening, with hardly any breeze. The bay was still dotted with sailboats and the sun was slowly making its way downward in the West, out past the Golden Gate Bridge.
By the time dessert came about, consisting of pears cooked in Cabernet Sauvignon, served warm with French Vanilla ice cream, the guests could no longer contain their curiosity and the Cat relented. He addressed the Zapp Kids and his other guests.
“After you called me in Shandur with that information about the Bern investment company, I had an idea and flew off to Germany,” explained the Cat. “I visited an old boxing club I used to work out at in Frankfurt-Sossenheim and got some of their ugliest boxers. Young men from Turkey. They all looked like gangsters on steroids. After I briefed them, and we came to an agreement, we all drove down to Bern in two cars. I had already picked up some material for disguises in Germany.
We looked quite the lot. You should have seen Egli’s face when we walked in!”
“I had considered talking to Egli and offering him a bribe, but this way was more dramatic, as well as more effective. And it cost far less. We threatened him after I gave him the number of the Swiss account he was collecting from and explained how he was stealing from the Taliban. That got his attention. I knew that he could check the accuracy at the bank. I gave him 24 hours to cooperate. One phone call to the bank is all it took for him to be convinced. He gave me all the information I needed about the Turks & Caicos bank and even put through verification from his company. He had already made a load off his work with Boys Club. He admitted to getting a ten-percent commission, so he had more than enough.”
“We drove back to Frankfurt and each of the lads was given a thousand Euros for their day’s work.”
“From Frankfurt, I caught a flight to Atlanta, then a Delta flight to Providenciales. I stayed at the Regent Grand under my own name and visited the so-called bank, disguised as I was in Bern. They were very cooperative since they received a forewarning from Egli that a transfer would be made. I had the money transferred to a dummy account and then had that re-routed. It all went smoothly.”
“Seems like you put your film school experience to good use, with all the makeup and such,” said Effi. She was referring to the Cat’s undergraduate degree in Motion Picture Production from UCLA.
“I guess the Boys Club is at an end,” interjected Jimmy. “Three were taken into custody for drug trafficking and racketeering. The DA wants to throw the book at them.”
“How did the DA find out?” Tim asked.
Jimmy answered, “Some girl at Price Tumwater Mutual Fund blew the whistle. She had it in for Ashton Price. Saw that he and the gang were pushing drugs on colleagues and throughout the financial community.”
“What is with the other two?” Effie asked.
Tommy spoke, “Bo Dimmler disappeared. Probably was tipped off and went into hiding. James Van Houten suddenly vanished last Monday. Probably laying around in the Bahamas with Bo. James made a good amount off of our IPO.”
“Less than you would expect,” said the Cat.
“Yeah, that’s the only thing that didn’t work out right,” griped Twerk.
“Why? Look at the money it brought into the company. Instead of two to three million dollars, we are looking at well over a hundred million dollars!” said Arby.
“Yeah, but at what price?” asked Twerk. “Tommy tells me it’s all in the hands of only two companies.”
After James didn’t answer his telephone calls, Tommy spoke to one of James’s subordinates. He was then informed that all shares were held by just two Asian syndicates who had been bidding against each other. Tommy explained this to the others.
“One, actually,” quipped the Cat.
The group looked at the Cat as he held up a large manila envelope over the table and dumped its contents out. A cascade of paper certificates showered down.
“These are the stock certificates!” exclaimed Tommy, fingering a couple in his hand.
“All two million shares,” said the Cat calmly.
“Kwan Lee and Peter Abagasian are a couple of friends of mine. They both owed me favors. After I left the Turks &Caicos, I flew out to Macau. We met and I explained what I had in mind. We created two companies, one in Macau, the other in Singapore. When the IPO pre-notices were put out, both of them contacted James with requests for sole ownership of all shares. James was so greedy, he not only went along with it, he played one against the other. We were just hoping that one of them would be able to buy the whole lot. James sold the whole lot to each of them and was
supposed to pocket a special fee for the exclusive rights. The only problem with that was the fee James was to have gotten was coupled with the delivery of the stock certificates. When both Mr. Kwan and Mr. Abagasian received these certificates,” the Cat held up some of the papers, “they rescinded the bank transfers for the additional fees and James got nothing. Claimed that James had tricked them and they would no longer be doing any business with him in the future. James couldn’t yell Cop. He couldn’t even yell, Daddy! The Janus Group never existed. In fact, had Van Houten checked like he should have, he would have smelled a rat. The ancient Roman symbol for the god Janus shows two faces.
“Two faced?” Tommy smiled.
The Cat continued, “I paid Kwan Lee and Peter one million dollars each, so I guess they still owe me a favor or two.”
“So we now have the certificates. And the money? It no longer exists?”
“No, the money is in your bank account. Or the Zapp, Inc. bank account, I should say. Courtesy of the Boys Club!”
“What will happen when they can’t contact the two syndicates after three years? Another escheatment case?”
“Whose problem is that?” said the Cat. “Not ours. Van Houten is the one who did the due diligence and was the leadpartner in the IPO. Actually, they were the only partner. So the SEC can get back to them. Zapp, Inc. is innocent. That’s why I didn’t want to use Tessa’s firm. The certificates can be destroyed. Less evidence. By the way, Kwan Lee and Peter Abagasian aren’t even their real names. Trail ends.”
“I should have known to trust you,” grinned Tommy, wagging a finger at the Cat.
¨You did,” smiled the Cat
“What was the Taliban’s role?” asked Effie.
“There was none. When I was in Herr Egli’s office he was discussing the whole thing with the bank. Seemed like it was just the boys’ bad luck to have been given a dead account that used to be the Taliban’s. Egli had no idea that I could understand him.” The Cat had lived in Germany and was fluent in German. “Funny thing about that is that all the boxers could understand him, too!”
“Now that’s rich!” interjected Dieu. “The Boys Club makes their money by stealing from dead accounts and gets caught by using someone else’s dead account. That’s hilarious!”
“So I guess that accounts for all the money from the Boys Club?” asked Vishnu.
“Just about. I took a bit out and purchased a life-long annuity for a young woman to whom the Boys Club still owed a debt.”
“We’re covering the Boys Club’s debts now?” asked Arby.
“This one was special. It can‘t really pay the debt they owed but it’s a start.”
They all knew better than to question any further.