Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Mystery of the Mysterious Boat, Chapter One, Part Two

Begin with the beginning.

As he reached the turnstiles controlling elevator access, Traynor spied a tan face matched by long, shiny jet-black hair. The woman who belonged to the face was heading for a different bank of express elevators. This one was not guarded by turnstiles, but by ticket counters.

"Yo!" he shouted. "Hey, Miranda!"

She stopped and turned. "Hi, Kevin."

"How's the gift shop doing?"

"Brisk sales. Particularly the Flags." She smiled. "Flags that have been flying over the tallest structure in the world are always in demand."

"So, how is the big city? Better than Mexico?" he bantered.

She grinned. "As you know, I was born and raised in Arizona."

"So it's better than Jinxville?"

"It's back to Jenkinsville, you know."

"Indeed, I should know. But that's another story. So, how is New York?"

"Much better. Of course. And I'm learning so much… Plus, one of these days I'm gonna get what I deserve."

When Traynor entered the anteroom of his office, his temporary secretary, a businesslike brunette not yet housebroken to the ways of First American or Traynor Land, welcomed him demurely. "Good morning, Mr. Traynor."

"Hi, Sue. May I remind you, it's Kev. I'm Kev. Every time you call me Mr. Traynor, I think my dad's back from the range."

Finally, she told him that Michael Berrenger, the chief executive officer of First American Properties, wished to see him in his office on the floor above. As she kept waving that yellow Post-it note about, he could not help noticing her fingernails. How the heck had she hit on that shade of nail polish? He would have bet his life that choosing between the two most unoriginal colors possible must have been quite an ordeal. Surely, campy, corny red would not have yielded to that garish, girly pink without a fight?

Whatever — both were equally unflattering. He would never understand what possessed chicks to run around looking like they had all their nails ripped out or like they had them replaced with candy. Or, for that matter, why some men seemed to find that sexy. Why did females have to have their nails eaten by aggressive chemicals to begin with?

The Rule of Traynor was about to kick in… Actually, it was only one of the many Rules of Traynor. Anyway, this section covered nail polish: The Ash approach was the only surefire cure for digits thus possessed. Must… control… Swiss Army Knife of death. Must… control… Swiss Army Knife of death. Before he could do something he might regret later, he fled his anteroom. He rode right up and rushed into Berrenger's office, waving good morning to Berrenger's secretary.

"Hi, Mike. Any trouble with the Tower? I've just dropped by at the construction site and everything was OK there."

The light-blond gentleman behind the desk in front of the plate glass wall, tall and a little older than Traynor, got up and flashed a smile. "Howdy, Kev. Good to see you. Take a seat." Mirroring his guest, Berrenger settled into his swivel chair. "No, this isn't about Traynor Tower. It's another story entirely. I sure wish it were just a trifling technical problem with a simple solution. No — it's a rather… odd matter. Rather mysterious-like, you know. So I thought you're the man for it. As First American's Vice President for Safety, Security, and Special Assignments."

"Say, Mike, if I'm a Vice President for all of First American, and you're the CEO of a division, who's in charge anyway?" Traynor repeated their running gag.

"Well, who cares who's boss as long as the work gets done…" Berrenger replied, as always.

"That said, what's on your mind?"

"See, we're going to build a marina cum retail mall in Malibu. But the owner of the key lot chickened out and refuses to sell, though we were this close to having him sign."

"Why would a holdout be mysterious? Maybe he figured you're not paying what his land is worth. If it's an ocean front property…"

"He doesn't want more money. He says he can't sell. He doesn't want to be responsible if something happens. Says he has to protect us from ourselves. Has to protect our tenants from our recklessness." Berrenger harrumphed. "What a schmuck. Well, you know, he believes there's some kind of a curse or a haunting on the land. Or some such thing."

"Now, that's beginning to sound interesting…"

Read on…

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