The Lieutenant – Chapter 25 “We Show Our Hand”

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Death by Parking

The Lieutenant – Chapter 25 “We Show Our Hand”

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With Paul Manning cooling his heels in Los Angeles, Rickie and the rest of the senior team headed for London. They had only a few days to set up a bank that would impress Smith and Cosner, even though the two men would see it for only about 15 minutes. St. John Smythe would be sitting behind his desk and perhaps be a bit nicer to the pair, or perhaps not. The goal was to impress Smith and Cosner, and confirm they owned a merchant bank that Smith would want to buy.

As they rode to the bank in the limo Rickie and his crew had “borrowed” for the day, Cosner did have one question. He had spent some time in London in the military and was familiar with the so-called “Bank Holidays.” How were they going to see a working bank if it was closed?

Josh and Veronica exchanged looks. Their first major problem had just presented itself.

Without missing a beat, Veronica simply said: “We are an international bank and don’t close for UK bank holidays.” Smith and Cosner shrugged and said nothing.

When they arrived in the city, the streets were quiet. It was, after all, a bank holiday and virtually every office in the square mile city of London was connected with financial operations. The limo pulled up to a medium- sized building with a small bronze plaque on the outside. It was engraved “Smythe and Co., Merchant Bankers.”

Josh held the door for Veronica and Smith and Cosner to enter. The lobby was quiet except for a couple of uniformed guards. “Why do you need guards?” asked Cosner. “You don’t keep any cash here, do you?”

Veronica just smiled. “Perhaps that’s a question you should address to St. John Smythe. He’s in his office upstairs.” She swept up the marble staircase with the men following along behind. On the second floor she entered an office filled with workers attending to computer terminals, teletypes, and phones. Cosner walked over to one of the desks, took the phone out of the hands of the woman sitting there and said into it:

“I beg your pardon, the wires must be crossed, to whom am I speaking.”

The abrupt answer, first in Mandarin, then in English: “This is Hang Sung, Peoples Bank, Hong Kong. I was speaking to Jan Evans. Who is this?”

“So sorry, my mistake.” He returned the phone to Ms. Evans, who was glaring at him. “She said into the phone, “I’m so sorry, Sung, some idiot took the phone out of my hands. Now as I was saying, we can make the transfer for $200 million within the hour, will that be sufficient?”

At that moment, St. John Smythe, Smythe and Co, CEO, walked up. “What the hell are you doing, we have a business to run here.” Cosner just smiled. Smith was mortified. “My apologies, my partner here was simply ensuring that everything was on the up and up.”

“Ensuring that everything was on the up and up? What kind of people are you? Frankly, I am moving further and further away from doing business with you at all. In fact, I suggest you leave if you cannot keep your lap dog at bay. I’m going to my office. Please follow me and keep your hands to yourselves.”

St. John Smythe turned and walked into a corner office. Veronica followed. Josh waited and escorted Smith and Cosner into the office. St. John Smythe was sitting behind ‘his’ desk. And he was seething. He didn’t offer the two coffee or tea; he didn’t offer them a place to sit. “How dare you come into my bank and act this way? I’m tempted to call the guards and have you ejected.”

“That won’t be necessary,” said Smith. “You must realize that we are considering investing a rather large sum of money and want to be certain that everything is as you say it is. There are a few things which on the surface don’t quite measure up. First you take us to a party and I admit it was entertaining, but I’m not too sure exactly how such an event gets planned. Then you show us a banking operation on a bank holiday. Just what are we to think? By the way, why do you need guards? Surely, you don’t keep cash here.”

Veronica took it from there.

“Well, William, perhaps you should look at it from our point of view. You and your friend here don’t have the best of pedigrees. Our research shows that it will take virtually all of your available funds, plus those of Mr. Cosner, to even enter the bidding process. If, in fact there is to be one. This trip was as much an opportunity for us to become comfortable with you as vice versa. And frankly, you aren’t really impressing the boss that much.”

St. John Smythe just shook his head.

“As for the party, you might note that Josh and I did not stay. It was really not our cup of tea. However, both you and Cosner seemed to fit in quite well with Eddie and his friends. Marita told me she found you most charming, although she wasn’t too sure about Cosner, here. Oh, and if you were wondering, here’s the local paper with a tidbit about last night.”

She picked up a paper from the coffee table and dropped it in Smith’s lap. On the front page, in the left-hand column, titled “Social Tidbits” was, among others, this ‘tidbit:’

Lord Edward Davenport outdid himself with his weekly event at his mansion on Portland Place. Eddie knows how to keep the temperature just low enough to keep the bobbies at bay, but high enough so attendees will not soon forget their evening a stone’s throw from the elegant Langham. Featured as guests were two A list actors, half a dozen with royal pedigrees, four who skyed in on private jets from Dubai and Bangkok, and business folk from America.

Looking forward to next weekend, m’Lord.

Smith handed the paper to Cosner who looked it over carefully. No doubt of is bona fides. And there shouldn’t be. Veronica paid good money to have that little notice printed on the front page. Gossip columnists were the same everywhere.

She could tell that Smith was coming around to their way of thinking. She glanced at St. John Smythe.

“I have had just about enough of you two,” said the CEO. “I have very little interest in continuing this discussion. Josh will show you the way back to your hotel. Oh, and the guards are there to ensure the gold in our vault is safe, and our data center secure.”

Veronica walked them to the top of the stairs. “I’ll talk to him and get back to you. Stay where I can reach you in the next 48 hours. As long as you hold up your end of the bargain, I’ll hold up mine.”

She walked back into the boss’s office.

Rickie was sitting on the sofa with a tumbler of whisky. “Do you think they bought it? I was concerned when Josh texted the ‘bank holiday’ fiasco.”

“I think your idea to have me work a side deal with Smith and let him believe he had someone on the inside, was brilliant. He will be the first one to believe that I would stab my “CEO” in the back for a few pounds sterling. He would. Now, if there were some way we could keep this branch of our ‘bank’ open the next few days….”

“Just leave that up to me.”

To be continued

John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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