A SURE THING Mitch made no attempt to conceal an ever so smug grin. "So Jason," he said. How lucky can I get. Natural blond, probably. Firm thighs, only child, daddy owns a brewery and he's ready to retire. "High on the hill, the two of them looked down on the hometown lights from the last days of youth. It was a time for deep truths and another six pack. "So how do you know?" said Jason. "About the thighs? How do you think?" "No," said Jason reaching for another beer, "About the old guy retiring?" "He keeps talking about Bermuda and all the fun things he's going to do there," said Mitch. "Bermuda. That's an offshore jurisdiction." "Bull shit Jason. You're even getting to sound like an accountant these days." "Occupational hazard I guess," said Jason studying the name on the can. "Wrong can. We haven't developed our new brand loyalty yet. Better get a taste for the stuff before the wedding. I wonder if there are any occupational hazards in marrying into money? I guess you'll get to find out soon enough. And we'd better leave the cars here and walk back down." The wedding was a pretentious affair as befits the ruling dynasty of the largest local employer in a small town. Cliques of overdressed middle aged ladies mixed as well as they could with younger folks who were trying to appear cool but were still too young to realize they were trying too hard. The men were mostly interested in the free bar. They were not too surprised to find they could have anything they wanted, so long as it was beer, and there was only one brand. Jason did a good job as the best man for he had prepared carefully. So Mitch and Mary- Anne were well married and the old man left for Bermuda even before the honeymoon was over. All too soon, it was a rainy Monday morning at the brewery and Mitch and Mary-Anne were preparing to settle into their new and unfamiliar Joint C.E.O. roles. Mary-Anne put on a pretend voice. "Well this little old office just so needs new blinds and a nice carpet," she giggled. "Oh my," said Mitch, "You play the poor little rich girl like you were made for it." Quickly turning much more serious than Mich liked she said, "I was made for it. It's what you like about me. And I've been to Law School, so it looks like I get to do the contract stuff and you get to do the rest." Mitch thought she looked awkward when she asked again what she'd been asking all week, "Any word yet from Jason about coming to work here. I'm not so sure it's a good idea. You should have asked me first. You're too close." And we're not? Mitch thought, but he smiled and said, "No. If he was going to accept, he'd have said something by now. He's got a good job already." That night, Mitch went out on the pretence of a bowling evening with the boys. He met Jason on the hill where the two of them could look down on their hometown. The lights looked different now even though only a few weeks had passed since they had sunk the six packs. This time, Jason had a very sober accountant's look about him as he handed the brewery accounts back to Mitch. "You were right to be worried," said Jason. "The money's all stripped out. It's not even carefully covered up. Just a bunch of unconvincing invoices from a couple of shell companies." "In Bermuda?" said Mitch. "Yes, no surprises there," said Jason. "What about the property?" "All turned into cash a while back through a sale and lease back deal. You've got about enough overdraft facility left to pay the wages for a couple of weeks. After that, it would not be a good idea to be in the office on payday." Jason looked even more serious when he added, " And you've got to understand my position. I've never seen these accounts. I've already done more than I should without involving the authorities." Mitch managed to keep the brewery gates open for a month or so for there was some cash flow. He did this on his own, for Mary- Anne had gone leaving him cast in the blame center role. He disappeared himself, just before the payday when there was no money. The story ran as headline news in the local newspaper for a while. Most folks eventually got bored with it all, but the older laid-off workers could never let it go. They got into a routine of gathering at the locked gates every Sunday lunchtime. It started as a dark joke with a bunch of flowers and a R.I.P. note. Soon the gates were festooned with flowers and old teddy bears, and all the other things that a good impromptu memorial should have. Cynics said the flowers were the same ones that went missing from the cemetery. However, everyone agreed it was a good way to keep the issue in the hearts and minds of the local politicians who liked to go on record at the gates with promises of favorable treatment for inward investment that would bring new jobs. Months passed before Jason heard anything from Mitch. Only a few lines on a postcard. Just a cheery: Back together again. Having a great time. Wish you were here. That night when it was late and no one was around, Jason paid a visit to the brewery gates. He wondered how long it would be before someone noticed the postcard impaled on one of the spikes on top of the locked gates. The postcard with a nice picture of Bermuda. end A Sure Thing was First Place in the Adult Creative Writing Club, Competition No. 95, July 2009.
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Copyright  Colin W Campbell A Sarawak based writer.
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