для читателей старше 18 лет
Common sense in dealing with people is based on fraud.
The more civilized a society is, the greater are the lies and deception.
These maxims are discovered, oddly enough, in ancient Chinese manuscripts
When a man is torn off the wings he feels so much pain that he can only crawl in order to live and to move somewhere.
The author is not known
We flip over everything in our head, but we are afraid to change anything in our life.
The author is not known
Friday night was extremely disgusting. Small wet snow was drizzling from the morning. The roads were promised to turn into frozen crust by night. It was time to think about how I can make it home. Instead, I wandered back and forth in the office of the board of directors and listened unpleasant monologue that company, in which I invested a “small” fortune will soon cease to be mine.
“Are you out of your mind?” — I asked with anger.
My eyes were flashing not really friendly at man who was quietly sitting in an office chair. This man’s name was Maxim. He was a short man with a small tummy. He drove a budget luxury car. Was married but recently divorced. Had no children. He had few pleasures in his life. There were few things to which he drew attention, except of work. He was Chairman of the board of directors and in the moment asked me to sign the documents for the sale of my shares, and therefore our company. I was one of the shareholders.
“Where did you get all the signatures?” I asked, once again puzzled looking at the paper.
The document was really adorned with signatures of all the members of the Board of Directors. Carefully written by hand full names of all participants with their autographs across the sheet were drawn on the last page. All fourteen.
Only fifteenth was missing.
“It’s a formality, Christina” Max said carelessly.
“Wow, a formality. You’re asking me to sell…” — I picked up the paper to check the numbers, — “fourteen percent of the shares. My entire package” — I threw the paper back. — “And it does not say to whom. It smells of financial fraud. Considering the presence of all signatures — a big fat fraud.”
Maxim winced with annoyance
Knowing his manner to bring everything to the end, I had no doubt that his decision on the sale is final. But he had completely forgotten about the “minor” factor. About my opinion on the matter. Max dared to send me a letter with the conditions and requirements. To me, as if I was a member of the board of directors of the company. Our company.
“Christina, calm down” — softly said the man with blond hair and gray eyes that watched my nervous movements in the office.
“I’m calm” — I said through clenched teeth, swallowing. — But… how could I say… softer… outraged to the depths! You deprive me of my share of the stock, and, as a consequence, dividends, and, as a result, a constant additional income. Significant, I dare say. And you do it, without even consulting me. You decided to write me a letter, not to talk about the true reasons in face.”
“And what I am doing now?”
“Come on!” — I winced. — “You know perfectly well what I mean,” — I stopped for a moment throwing a withering look at Max. — “How about my name also mentioned in the documents?”
“It is mentioned. No doubt. That is why without your signature I won’t be able to do anything.”
“My God!” — I stopped again and made a hole in the ceiling with my glance. — “Your ego!..” — I didn’t have the words to express my outrage.
Max said nothing.
“You sell a company that means more than money to me. I gave it my energy, nerves, heart. ‘Maxichris’ took the best years of my life.”
“Have mercy on me” — a man conciliatory shrug and smiled, — “I have heard enough of this during divorce.”
“You are just…” — I grimaced — “just… impossible. I can’t find words to describe your behavior, which by the way has no excuses. How dare you ask me to sign all these…” — I grimaced contemptuously and made a contemptuous gesture to the papers — “documents!”
“It’s very simple, Christina” — Maxim put his hands on the table, clasped his fingers in lock. — “I told you that this is a formality. You sign the documents, then another, and your valuable shares return to you in greater numbers and with greater dividends.”
“Something I do not see another set of documents…” — I said skeptically.
“It will be a little later.”
“Yeah. In business there are no promises. You know that.”
“Listen to me, please” — absolutely calmly continued Max.
“It stinks” — I threw at him an angry glance, understanding that he was quite expecting such a stormy reaction and thought over his answers to all of my angry remarks.
“Impossible to talk to you…” — Max acknowledged crossly.
“Because you have done everything possible for that” — I said, at the same time I knew that the decision of the financial Manager of the company as well as Chairman of the Board of Directors is final.
What was I supposed to do? To be angry and quiet. Actually, even more. Rage is the most adequate word. And Max gave me time to overboil.
“Do not exaggerate. Think of it as a rebranding of the company. I explained everything to you.”
“Yes. The Golden share goes from point A to point X. I think I deserve a more detailed explanation.”
“To begin with, you have your own company, which is doing well. By the way, you are rolling in money.”
“So what?!” — I shouted more loudly than I wanted at first feeling that irritation arises with a new vigor again. — “I request you to explain me from the first to the last point why you started all this, how you collected signatures and who gets the controlling stake. Ah, and one more. Why do you deprive me of all the shares? The half would not be enough?”
“First of all, it is not so simple.”
“What is not so simple?” — I was surprised. — “To explain me everything?”
“And secondly, there are a lot of legal delays.”
“You can omit it” — I bent over the table and drilled the man with glance. — “But believe me, I will not leave it this way.”
“Are you threatening me?” Max skeptically raised an eyebrow, allowing himself a slight smirk.
“Yes,” — I nodded. — “I’m threatening you.”
“As far as I remember,” — the man continued, — “before you only cared about money regularly coming to your account.”
I frowned, thinking about his words, and again began to pace around the room. He was right, but only partly.
“Don’t do this, okay?” — I said sarcastically. — “Because you know very well how much I invested in our company.”
“But you should admit it, it is about money.”
I wanted to say that it is not the case, and it was about principles, own business, etc. But, recalling the statement of the famous American economist Frank Hubbard, I said nothing. He said something like: “If they say you that it is not about money, but about principle, than it is about money.” Max knew that phrase and brought the conversation to such logical ending. Degree in psychology allowed him to manipulate me in some ways over the last few years. May be, to some extent, this phrase was true; I didn’t want to argue because I was short in the arguments.
“Okay, let it be” — I subsided, saying to myself that it is only for a while. — “Can you at least say who you sell our creation?”
“Christopher.” — Max said it calmly as if he was ordering tea for breakfast.
I drowned in a sudden outbreak of emotions. I felt like poured with cold water.
“You heard right. Christopher Logner.”
“You’re completely sick!” — I touched my temple to show with my posture that I in no way doubt in my words.
I vigorously kicked the pot with a large flower, standing on the floor near the window. It lamentably trembled but did not fall. Running my fingers through my hair to the back of my head, as if trying to get rid of delusions. Then I fell on a chair for visitors, standing near the table of Maxim, helplessly dropping my head on my palm.
I imagined forthcoming future in the company that was yet ours. No, Chris was not a tyrant or a despot. Communicating to him was pleasant, but to do business… I avoided it very thoroughly all these long years that I knew this man. Even in a nightmare I could not have dreamed that Chris may be my boss. Why will he be my boss? Because… I quickly figured the prospects of further turn of events. And this nightmare that I never have had was to become a reality.
“Don’t worry that much, Christina,” — I heard Maxim’s voice. — I made an agreement. He’ll hire you. And you will get your shares the same day.
That would prove it.
My forecasts are true sometimes. But I was not going to surrender without a fight.
I stared at Maxim.
“Did I hear right? You want me to abandon my job to start working for Chris? You want to buy me off in this way? Or what?”
“No, I just need someone to care for our…” — he stopped short. — “For the company. It seemed to me that you are a great option.”
Great! I’m just an option!
Yes, he mocks or gloats.
“You probably don’t know” — I sucked on words. — “What were you thinking when assumed such complex reasoning on my part?”
“And you’re not happy working for him?” — Max grinned sarcastically — “And yet, let’s leave the elucidation of the causes of the deal to better times.”
“No, Max. We will not leave. I want to know everything here and now. Or I…”
“What?” — Max interrupted me wearily, logically assuming that I will not tell him what I can do with him, because of his fatigue and the icy calm.
“I’ll just kill you!” — I glared at him, deceiving all his expectations.
At the moment it was very hard to control myself. Anger, resentment, irritation — all mixed up inside, ready to spill out a big scandal, or God knows what. I could not decide because I didn’t understand why Max is doing this to me.
“Okay, enough is enough” — the man said calmly. — “There’s nothing you can change, Christina.”
“I can not to sign the papers” — I chuckled and said categorically, leaning back in my chair.
Maxim looked at me like I was a little capricious girl.
“You will sign it.”
“No. I will not sign,” — Chairman of the Board of Directors is not the only one who could have the last word. — “Either you offer me something very serious in return, or I stand by my opinion and your company’s sales will cry.”
“Do you think that I cannot offer you an alternative?”
I shrugged, waiting for him to continue his story.
“First of all, you’ll still earn dividends until the signing of the new documents. But the sum will change; it is going to be not fourteen percent, but six.”
“Trying to buy me?” — I snorted.
“Come on. You know better than me that everyone has the price. But,” –Maxim continued — “Maxichris” will benefit from it in the future, because the active circulation of shares on the market will raise their price. Besides, you can always buy back what you need.”
“Did you know that with the change of the owner the share price will fall?” — I asked casually.
“It isn’t that bad, Tin. We are not Microsoft. I don’t think you will notice significant differences.”
“You know, fourteen percent is essentially different from six.” — My remark sounded mercantile.
“Okay, let’s stop this bickering,” — Maxim shrug casually. — Secondly, Chris promised not to offend you with wages. And then, the company is not going anywhere. Our head branch is still in Spain. Of course, there are some hitches, but I’ll take care of these things soon.”
“Is there anything that forced you to abandon control over “Maxichris?” — I did not yield.
“Well,” — he was slightly embarrassed. — “Here, too, there are some problems.”
“Tomorrow, when signing papers, you can get acquainted with more detailed information.”
“Do you give me time to think? How noble of you.”
“Yes. Juliana will bring you originals tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow is Saturday, Max” — I whined, shoing with all my appearance that I was not going to engage in this nonsense in my weekend.
“Christopher insisted that the signing was done seeing Strauss concert in the Palace of the Republic. At the same time, you can rest and relax.”
“Fine,” — I remarked skeptically.
Scenes of tomorrow’s cultural events flashed inside my mind. The orchestra playing great music on a big stage, a concert hall full of people, a cozy green chairs. Actually, it would be nice to visit long-forgotten concert hall it’s splendor was overshadowed for me with forthcoming conclusion of weird deal.
“Well, I don’t know, Max,” — I had doubts still.
“Don’t worry, Tin. Everything is under control.”
“Go home. Everything will be fine. Trust me,” — Max smiled.
This situation seemed absolutely ridiculous to me. Considering the perspectives, I was strongly disagrees with the decision of the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the company. I didn’t like everything. Though, my situation might be not that bad. Dividends have to still come to my account regularly. After all, I had as much as fourteen per cent of the shares. It is still six, even though officially I was not a shareholder. Even though this was still up in the air, which confused me; the situation was similar to those where you are a rich man according to papers, but have not a coin in reality. However, for the same reason, I could not deny Maxim’s statement about the price of securities in the market. The firm was successful, and I periodically made successful deals at the stock market that gave me a good extra income. If to consider it just a deal, the overall picture is not sad. I have to wait for the second package of documents with the official restoration of my board membership. As for the change of ownership, in addition to the fall in the price of our shares, I could expect a few more minor troubles. And, as far as I knew Maxim, he was not going to step back, even if I was not entirely pleased with future collaboration with Christopher.
“Well, okay,” — I almost resigned. — “But if you’re trying to get rid of me…” — I stopped, assuming that a hidden in my voice threat was quite expressive.
“Well, Tin. Tomorrow Juliana will bring you all the necessary paperwork. I rely on you.”
“Maybe I’ll do what you want, boss,” — I had no choice but to mock. — “I will try to do everything in my power,” — I gave a strained smile and left the office, pressing the remote start button of my car engine.”
The light corridor did a little turn to the right and abuts a small exit door. There, in the stairwell of the second floor, close to the director, staffs are permitted to smoke.
I ignored this turn and went straight. Left and right doors housed all sorts of agents, managers, accountants, economists and translators. The door to the office where I was asked to leave my coat was the last on my way. The corridor ended with desk of office assistant.
I went into the office. A small table of the chief economist stood to the right of the window. The daylight lamp, stationery set, monitors, keyboard, mouse, shelves for paper were lying on the table — things that were common in any office. Several pens and pencils were scattered on the desk.
Glancing at another table, which stood near the opposite wall, I noted that the papers on it were in complete disarray. The owner of this mess, must’ve been at home by now.
Trying not to be distracted by extraneous and unpleasant to me things, I put a coat on. I went out the door and closed the office. For the time of negotiations I was given a key, which I always left on the desk of office assistant. After that I went down the spiral staircase to the first floor and went outside.
Squally cold winter wind made me hold my breath. I hurried to the car, feeling glad that I figured to turn on the engine in advance. My car should already be warmed to the required temperature.
And so it was. The climate control worked properly and quickly, despite the recent switching on.
I waited until my car became a bit warmer, and hit the gas. The snow creaked with protest under winter tires and my silver Mazda 3 went on clean road.
Friday night gave me a big surprise. Nothing remained but to prepare for tomorrow night, because there was nothing else I could come up with.
The wind threw prickly snowflakes in my face. They fell by the bench where I was sitting. The yard was cold and quiet…
Day after day I had the feeling that something is changing around… inside… I could not understand, was it good or bad. It didn’t matter. Anyway, that change was inevitable.
Cold crept into the folds of warm clothes, tangled in my hair and pinching my cheeks.
Maybe it is about winter coming? The tough year was about to end. The nature fell asleep. Was I falling asleep with it? No.
The last time when I came home and cried for no reason about an hour — at that moment I knew that I was losing my friends. Life was about to break us apart. As now I remember the feeling of inevitability, surging at me… However, there was understanding that we had nothing in common. I was hurt, but there was nothing I could do about it. It was a fact — an undeniable and unchangeable. This was five years ago…
Something very similar was happening to me today: something was changing around.
Oh yes! The day before yesterday my partner told me one very “pleasant” news. Not surprisingly, I was overwhelmed by those premonitions.
“Well, okay. Enough is enough.” — I said to myself and looked at the clock.
The hour and minute hands of the clock stopped at half-past six, while the second continued to run forward.
Yeah, no way to stop.
I got up and looked around. Lights were lit up for quite a long, cutting the cold night with a cold yellow light. It was broken into small particles and reflected in fragments of snowflakes on the cold asphalt.
I headed toward the Palace of the Republic.
Christopher — the old friend of ours — had some weakness for music. And he couldn’t miss this great concert. But why would he want to think about work after such an inspiring action was beyond my understanding. I had to accept this fact as a whim.
The evening promised to be intriguing.
As Max said me before, immediately after the concert, interested persons (me and Christopher) should go to the restaurant to discuss the nuances of interest. I still couldn’t accept the fact that Maxim sells the firm, and just decided to raise my price. After all, would this deal happen or not depends on me so they have to propose me something really exciting to get my signature. I barely understood this theme. It was to be clarified by documents that Juliana has to bring, she was our company’s office-assistant. To say the truth, I would call her a secretary. She was not that a really office-assistant.
As always, I have to clear up the numbers and papers and to sign it as a member of the board of directors. Actually, Max was great with numbers and I didn’t understand why was this circus with Strauss. Why not to solve all the issues yesterday, at the board? I would tame my temper, if I was told all perspectives and nuances. Then, if new conditions were ok I would restrain from making threats and sign the necessary papers. Max would give it to Christopher today.
Nevertheless, I’m here now — a few steps from the Palace of the Republic, determinate the destiny of our company.
Juliana, who was to bring me the papers, did not understand numbers. She got her position of office assistant in a well-known manner. She was not particularly knowledgeable, financial issues were Chinese characters for her, and the jurisprudence… this word she did not know. Pretty face with blue eyes, accurately outlined cheekbones, broad face, white hair, big breasts, long legs, glamorous clothing. On the whole, everything that typical men like. And I couldn’t stand blondes. Needless to say, I’m a brunette. Not that I hated and considered myself smarter than everyone else… just…
Phone ring distracted me from malevolent thoughts.
“Are you there?” — asked Maxim.
“Almost,” — I replied.
“Well then, Christina, listen to me. Our Juliana had already arrived. She transferred the money to your account. This is the last large amount of your fourteen percent of the shares.”
How frustrating was so to hear the proof of my venality.
“She? Made a transfer of money?” — I winced.
In our age of information technology to make a transaction was a matter of seconds, but today stock market does not work as well as most of banks. So Max did this all yesterday. I’d have to timely check my account.
“Do not carp at my words.” — He told.
“No, I’m just worried that she might get lost in the terminal. The tricky thing, you know.”
“Don’t get back on Julia because of your resentment. It has nothing to do with it. I made a transfer of money. She made a confirmation of the transfer, that’s it.”
“Damn, Max. You know Chris personally. How can you ask me to participate in this?”
“Enough of it, Tin,” — the man said sharply. — “Have some shame. Your job is to check the numbers and to make a few signatures. That is what I paid you money for and mind it, I will continue to do so.”
“Okay, boss,” — I hissed through clenched teeth, stood on the neck of my pride, and hung up.
I frowned again. My stubbornness (or it was pride) told me to immediately change my mind and not to dare to sign papers. However, yesterday I they bought me and I had to accept this fact. A few years ago when I just met Maxim, we have established a strong superior-subordinate relationship. Max gave the order, and I executed. No, it was not like in any other company. I was considered a full-fledged companion, but Maxim he clearly gave me to understand where my powers end and his begin. This boundary was never violated. But recently, I became the founder of the company “Maxichris” investing a large sum of money in it.
I turned around. Juliana hasted to me. Her long white hair was flying in the cold winter wind, falling on collar of luxury fur winter coat. Her long legs were seen from under the coat.
I shivered. I do not dare to go out in skirt in this weather.
To complete the picture, she wore a pair of boots with high heels. She held her purse and briefcase in her arms.
“Here,” — she handed me the bag, “there are all the necessary papers. I think you need to watch it before the transaction. Let’s go to the cafeteria. I’ll show you everything…”
She kept talking, but I didn’t listen. I looked at the black Mercedes entering the parking lot. I glanced at the number.
It was Christopher.
Lots of thoughts and suspicions distracted me from reality. Christopher undoubtedly should be satisfied with the future deal, but why Julia knows more details than I do? I knew that she was a secretary at the company, and I was “just” an investor. Yes, I worked in a different place, but it was not the reason for Maxim to do confidant an ordinary secretary.
“Your king has arrived,” Julia said sarcastically and brought me back to reality.
“What?” — I frowned.
“Come on, everybody knows that something happens between you for several years,” — woman said in arrogant manner.
“How about this girl that came along with him?” — I pointed out the opening car door, — “Does it say anything to you? How about these year, as you say, full of girls hovering around — brunettes, blondes, brown-hairs, all the sorts of the ‘ladies’, as he prefers to call them?”
“Don’t be vexed.” — Julia grew serious. — It happens that the hero-lover has a lot of women, and women like you lose.”
“Did you sleep with him?” — I smiled at her smug. — “Where did you get such a deep awareness of tastes of men?”
Julia’s blue eyes narrowed. She was like a snake, ready to jump.
“Oh!” — I was surprised by unpleasant feelings moving deep inside me.
“Don’t use your psychological stuff on me,” — pouted the blonde. — “A broken heart is painful, I know…”
I snorted and decided not to listen to this nonsense, headed towards the café.
Julia chattered still. I interpreted her thought as “unattainable ideals, a desperate concubines, arrogant men and unworthy woman.” I hardly listened to her, sincerely wishing for concert to begin soon.
No such luck.
I spent some time studying the papers that made me completely confused. Unable to withstand verbal diarrhea of incomparable Juliana about Christopher, I “asked” her to shut up and made a more detailed review.
Max must be gone mad. I was convinced of it when I started to understand the documents. He really was going to sell Christopher a controlling stake. Thus he gave into the ownership all our tourist company. And even if I was to some extent reconciled with this fact, I became speechless when I saw the price our company. Maxim asked a peanut for “Maxichris”.
Any tax inspector will rejects the legality of this transaction!
Nevertheless, further study of the papers made me even more confused. All documents were all right. The evaluation of property did not arouse doubts. Audit report told (between the lines, of course) that our company was almost a bankrupt and was not able to cover debts, it could not attract funds, and to contract it was completely not profitable, because nobody would want to cooperate with us. No Bank would give us a loan, since we will have nothing to give as a deposit.
Unable to believe my eyes, I dialed Mux’s phone number.
“Can you explain this to me?” — I said him with malice, when he picked up at last.
“Christina, take it easy,” — Max immediately realized what I was talking about, and was not surprised absolutely.
“I’m calm” — I replied in the same tone. — “How long ago have you decided not to send me truthful quarterly financial reports? Who was that Pushkareva who made it? I don’t even know if I should ask Chris to fire her or to promote? It’s my firm, Max!” — I raised my tone. — “Have you just asked me to come back, there would not be such a situation. My job is to prevent this!”
Maxim was silent, apparently letting me to speak.
“Is this why you overpaid me my dividends?” — I asked. — “So I would not ask questions about this?”
“What?! I sell myself, but there are limits”, — I muttered.
My patience came to an end.
Not only you sold our creation but you also don’t have courage to say why you did it! Now I have to work in “Maxichris” to fix this… absurd. And do you know what I’ll do in the first place? I will insist that Chris has fired our chief accountant and replaced our state managers and economists. They are completely worthless specialists.
“Tin, not to exaggerate, we can…”
“We can?” — I interrupted the boss. — As far as I know, no such thing as “we” anymore. This is not your and not my firm.”
A short pause.
“Listen, don’t do this to me. At first, Christopher could raise a company and he decided to hire you.”
I chuckled. It was not surprising, because Chris had long wanted to be closer to me.
“You should have not brought the situation to the point,” — in the same tone I replied. — Since when did you become illiterate in financial matters? The man, who transmuted my investment into profit on a company picnic, fucked up in issues of his own economy.
“...Second,” — as if nothing had happened he continued, — “your dividends will continue to be regularly delivered to your account.”
“You only talk about my dividends!”
“Do you refuse it?”
This question chilled my enthusiasm.
This question chilled my enthusiasm.
“That’s nice. And third, go enjoy the concert and make this fucking deal. And we will discuss the details later in my office. Ok?”
“What is there to discuss, Max? Now even I tam agree with this selling. I’m afraid, only Christopher can pull the firm from such a miserable condition. Even though I don’t trust him to the end, he knows his job. In a year or two he will increase income.” — I thought a little, — “five, and maybe even six times.”
“I don’t think he is so good.” — I almost saw this skeptical look of Maxim.
“Of course,” — I said. — “You’re used to measure everybody by your standards.”
“You are insulting me, Tin!”
I smiled bitterly.
“Just as you say. If you want to talk, on Monday, maybe I’ll listen to you.”
“Okay,” — he replied and hung up.
I looked up with anger. It was impossible and unbearable. They cheated me and hid it in a clumsy way. Yeah, Max had rarely been done beautiful gestures.
How to name this?
It have not stand in my mind how could a company with such amount of debt to maintain unchanged the amount of the dividend. It has not diminished not by a penny. Of course, the documents listed the credits, but they did not cover payments to shareholders. Although the transactions made on the stock market could make such sums, but in order to figure it out, I needed a bit more time than fifteen minutes. Still, it became clear that the company had not any profit. There is nothing to think about. I closed my eyes. Long time since I felt myself so much broken and drained!
A prostitute! They fucked me and thrown money to my face.
And I took it.
And no way to wash off the dirt.
And who is to blame? Only I myself ' cause I honestly believed in the decency of Maxim and its reports.
My self-esteem was still trying to scream that it’s not my fault that the money had closed my eyes and that the situation sometimes may get out of control…
But no. Self-criticism came soon after self-pity. I was “smart” enough to invest my money in the enterprise, not keep track of the funds spending and trust Maxim. As a result, we sell a company where I was not last person. I had remember that there is no a full control in business. And yet I had to remember as old as the hills telling: “If you want to have something done right, do it yourself”. No wonder my parents carved it in my head for many years.
I sighed. The decision came instantly. I will sign all necessary documents. But I will find the truth before this, whatever it will cost to me.
I raised my eyes to the ceiling and saw that Julia was still smiling and watching me with anticipation. Now more than ever, I wanted to hit her silicone lips.
She handed me a ticket.
“The loggia?” — I was surprised when read.
“Well, Chris is generous giving gifts to his mistresses,” — Julia smiled.
Apparently, she timely noticed malevolent sparkle in my eyes, so she very quickly retreated.
And I was so hoping to pull her by hair. This would help me to blow off steam.