“Don’t believe a word he says,” Tayler warned. “His public image is a lie. He is evil to his core.”
“But he’s my uncle, isn’t he?” Milly inquired.
“That makes him all the more dangerous,” the lawyer warned.
“Why dangerous?” Milly asked.
“When your parents died, God rest them, it left you with fifty-one percent of the family fortune. He will play you if he can to make his own power greater.”
“But if he is so toxic, why is he called Mr. Clean?”
“No matter how things appear don’t fall for it. He is anything but clean.” Tayler warned.
The elevator finally reached the 55th floor. As the doors opened, Milly Kleinmann found herself face to face with her uncle for the first time. As she looked into his steely gaze she felt her heart plunge and a shiver run up her spine. It was immediately clear to her that everything Tayler had said was true.
It is amazing how quickly good intentioned practices become mere cliché. Greetings do this. “How do you do?” is not so much an enquiry as to someone’s well being as it is a formal hello. The response of “Quite well, thank you,” is the expected retort, as the asker does not genuinely want to know your life story. “Howdy,” while less formal, still generally expects no deep response, though a rustic “Fair to middl’n,” seems an appropriate response. While some in the USA might actually care to hear how someone is doing, the British are far less eager to hear. “How are you,” should be greeted with an “Okay, and you?” or an “All right.” Lately however this has morphed into an “Allright?,” which is responded to with an “Allright.”
Another thing that has my hackles up a bit is the insistence of many Americans to thank Veterans for their service. While the acknowledgement of service is appreciated, it become cliché when it becomes a constant, as a by rote exercise rather than a statement of true appreciation.
Heartfelt gestures are always appreciated by me, and I am sure this is true of most people. But please say what you mean, and mean what you say; and if you mean to be mean, then just don’t say anything.
It was going to be a difficult operation, but do-able. Staff Sergeant Wheeler had assembled his team, and all things seemed ready to go. Douglas had eyes on the possible exit points on the north of the building, and Hendricks the south. Gomez had the coms, and Wheeler himself, and Chin had mobile pursuit ready if the subject made a quick break for it. Operation Deprive Flight was the first mission the team had carried out in three years, but loyalties are loyalties, and when Wheeler said he needed the best, his team was more than ready to reassemble for him. After all – grounded means grounded and there was no way his sixteen-year-old daughter, Amber was going to that rave.
Rory the Sword-slayer stood looking at the little pile of yellow powder in his hand. It seemed ridiculous that some ground-up flowers could be worth more than gold.
“What’s this called again?” the mighty warrior asked.
“Saffron,” Wilma the Druid responded.
“And it comes from flowers?” Rory asked, seeking confirmation.
“That’s right, Rory,” Alanor the Mage replied.
Rory shook his head in disbelief. Had he had it wrong for all these years? Now what seemed ridiculous to him was that he and his band had spent so much time in dank smelly dungeons, and risked their lives battling Bugbears and Trolls, when mere NPC Farmers held so much wealth.
“Comrades, I have decided to cancel our quest to The Citadel of Quarf. We now have a safer and more profitable endeavour to undertake,” Rory announced.
“What is it?” Debin the Half-elf thief asked greedily.
“Saffron,” Rory replied, pouring the spice back into the small wooden chest.
“What, be farmers?” Debin replied.
“Too much hard work in that,” Rory replied. “I was thinking about raiding florists. Once a Berserker always a Berserker, I always say.”
Carol and Jean met every month for a coffee morning. They had been friends since high school, but their day to day lives had largely grown apart. Nonetheless, they did still enjoy their times to reminisce and catch up.
One January Carol remarked, “My Howard was ‘Associate of Year’ for the third year in a row. You won’t believe the bonus we got.”
“Jamie keeps us comfortable, and we always have enough to eat,” Jean replied with a smile.
In March, the conversation turned to summer plans. “We have two weeks in Hawaii this year. Hot and cold running everything,” Carol boasted.
“I think we will be visiting the Jamies’ mum at the coast. Debbie and Rory really love seeing their Nan, and exploring the beach,” Jean explained.
April found Carol talking about their new Jaguar and its heated leather seat. “And Howard negotiated such an amazing deal as well. He is so clever.”
“Our ‘Bessie,” as Jean called their Ford, “has character, I would hate to think of trading her in before her time. She’s part of the family.”
In May, Carol noted that, “A big push is on, and Howard is putting in some long hours, but who knows a Partnership might just be in sight.”
“Jamie’s home straight from work in the evenings, and plays with the kids before dinner,” Jean said with a reflective smile.
The July meeting found Carol explaining how Howard had been away on a couple of extended business trips, but that he brought back the most exquisite gifts. “In fact, this past weekend, he took me on a five star break in London, and a shopping spree in Knightsbridge.”
“That sounds lovely,” Jean commented. “Jamie never goes away for work and that’s just find with me. I can’t even imagine sleeping a night alone.”
In September, Carol showed off her holiday photos, and the new pearls Howard had got her.
“Jamie’s never gotten me pearls, but I know he loves me from the little things he does,” Jean said.
“Oh, that’s so sweet,” Carol replied with a hint of condescension.
In October, the coffee meet started much as normal. The Carol abruptly screamed and broke into tears. “I can’t believe he’s leaving me for that tart receptionist of his. I always knew she was trouble.”
“I am so so sorry Carol,” Jean said as compassionately as she could. “I can’t even imagine what that feels like.” Jeanie really couldn’t imagine it, nor would she ever have to.