31 October 2005

A Halloween Story

On a day, not unlike any other, I was browsing the business section of my neighborhood bookseller when I was approached by an elderly gentleman. Having been prospected before in this environment, it came as little surprise to me when he asked, "Are you open to other way to make money?".

"Sure, who isn't....as long as it's legal, ya know" , I answered.

His retort was pure textbook. "Great, you look like a sharp guy and, to be honest, I am looking for ambitious people .....", his voice trailing off as I became distracted by the large gem stone encrusted medallion he was wearing.

He noticed my obvious fascination with his jewelry when he said, "Oh you noticed my 'good luck' charm, huh. I bought this shortly after getting into my recent business venture." He quickly removed it from around his neck and was dangling it in front of my eyes. "Would you like to see what I'm doing that make this possible?", he asked in a low, measured tone.

Before I realized it, I answered, "Sss..sure."

At this point he must have given me details and directions to a business meeting being held that evening across town. I followed the directions he had written for me and found myself standing in front of an older hotel in a remote area of the city. I looked down at my notes and said aloud in a self-assuring voice, "This looks like the place....1313 Mockingbird Lane."

I found the conference room to the left of the hotel lobby and shuffled in with many other people that, I assumed, we here for the same purpose as me. As the room filled, a tall man closed the doors rather loudly which caused many in the room to jerk their heads suddenly toward the back of the room. I asked myself, "Why the hell did I let them put me in the front row? I'll never be able to slip out without being noticed."

The presentation began quickly and I noticed the man I met earlier in the day was the featured speaker. He looked somehow different in this light or perhaps it was that there was a conspicuous lack of light since the room had been effectively sealed.

He began talking and drawing some diagrams on a white board at the front of the room but, to be honest, I was confused by the numbers he excitedly shared with the audience. I did my best to take notes but my rendition of his explanation resembled something like a instruction manual from one of my children's toys.

When the presentation concluded, a procession of visitors were escorted to front of the room for personal introductions with the evenings' host. I took this opportunity to use the sudden rush of activity to conceal my escape. I tried to blend in others making their way to the exit from the center aisle of chairs. Just as I reached the outer hall, the host seemed to swoop in from nowhere and gave me a hardy slap on the back as if to congratulate me for some unrealized success.

"Hey Dave, how are you doing tonight?", he asked. "You didn't think I didn't see you in there did you?" He explained that he had told the ushers to watch for me and that, as his guest, I was given the honor of having priority seating.

"I guess that 'good luck charm' of yours is working for me", I said trying to not be too obvious in my sarcasm. I began to discretely survey my surroundings to locate the most direct exit door that I could reach on a dead-run. About the time I had developed my own "plan for freedom", my host had reached into the pocket of his tuxedo and produced a photograph.

"Let me show you what I just picked up last week from a luxury car dealer friend of mine", he said. "Just look at that baby, will ya." He informed me that the people posing in the picture were members of his family.

A rather tall man from the photo began to head in our direction. I seized the moment to make my break for the street and the relative safety of my car. As I approached the exit, I heard the man shouting after me, "Hey wait! I didn't even get to tell you about our conventions!"

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