A Gathering of Clowns
Chapter 07 A Fool Uses Folly Like A Stalking Horse
Emily sat at her laptop and methodically went through the list of bank accounts provided by Downing. With each account she tried the password and then exited. When she had gone through them all she sat with a grin on her face. She could change all the passwords and effectively shut her father out of his money.
An idea struck her and she went back into each account. It took several minutes but in the end she had counted up all the balances: one hundred and four million. That was a lot of money; but, there should be more.
She did some calculating. Documart had issued four million shares in total; they were trading today at just over twenty-two dollars U.S. The shares were very consistent, but had risen a little over the last few weeks because of Emily/Melanie’s purchases.
No matter how she added things, she could not get past two hundred million. Her father had either lost a lot of assets or he had hidden money elsewhere.
It looked like another session with Downing was needed.
“Why are you wondering about back then, so long ago?” Melanie responded. Emily had just asked her a question about the time of her arrival at the house, and Melanie needed to think. “Ok, there was only Chantico’s mother, and we all called her Mrs. Pena. Hmmm.”
“There was no, like butler or um,” Emily looked at some notes, “manservant? What about a gardener?”
“There was no butler, I would remember that. There was a cleaning service, because Mrs. Pena didn’t do that, not like Chantico does now. There wouldn’t have been a gardener, because they were digging up the back and putting in all what’s there now; very little, um, organic, uh, stuff, right? I can’t even remember what the back looked like before, and of course the front is rock and driveway and the two trees in mulch and rocks. Not much need for a gardener.”
“And so there was no one named, Alex?”
Melanie looked at her niece, “Alex? Not to my knowledge. Where are you getting this from, kiddo?”
Emily smiled, “Don’t worry, Mel-bel; just ideas.” Later, in her room, Emily took out the old scrap of paper; to her mind, it was clearly part of a letter. She had kept it for years; seventeen years, in fact. And she remembered a man and a woman connected to that time, long passed. Although, what was memory and what was imagination? In fact, if she didn’t have this faded scrap, she would doubt her memories.
But here it was and there they were. A torn piece pf paper with the writing saying, “only two more days.” And then “All My Love, Alex.” Not something to get worked up about it, except that she had found it in her mother’s bedroom, up on the third floor.
She had snuck into that room, closed off after her mother’s death; a five year-old away from her keepers for a moment, until she was missed and they come looking for her. A man and a woman. She had, why she didn’t know, crawled under her mother’s bed to hide from the seekers, and there she had found the little scrap. And she had kept it.
When the woman had finally found her, sitting on her mother’s bed, the piece of paper was in her pants pocket. And Emily had kept it, all these years, everywhere she went; every school, that scrap was with her. So who was the man and woman that Melanie didn’t remember? And who was Alex?
Years had come and gone when she didn’t think on this, even as the slip of torn paper lay with her ‘keepsakes’, but she was thinking on it now; a secret she had shared with no one.
Tad rolled over, landing on the girl lying to his left. A Latino girl, possibly twenty. Marsha? Marla? She was still sleeping, so he didn’t ask her. Sitting up, he looked to his right. This girl was white, younger even than the other, and she was awake. “Hi there, Mr. Allan.”
“Mr. Allan? Please, my head can’t handle that. Tad, please.” He lay for a second trying to reconstruct the previous night. “Um, what’s your name again?” He asked quietly; his own voice disturbing him.
“Brianna; ‘member, we met at the hiring open house. I filled out the form for artist, um, support, I guess. Hair and make-up and stuff. And then there was some, like, refreshments.”
It was beginning to come back. The party, meeting these girls; the other girl was…Raisha; they’d been drinking shooters and then they came back here.
“This your place?” Tad asked Brianna, who shook her head and nodded at the sleeping girl. Tad then noticed the crack pipe sitting on the coffee table. “Who owns this?” he asked, picking it up with disgust.
“That’s hers too.” Brianna said. More was now coming back to a now-concerned Tad.
“We all did, crack?” He asked again, trying to keep the emotion out of his voice.
Brianna chuckled, “I’ll say. Fuck. We were all pretty wasted.” Tad lowered his head to his hands, thinking, fuck, fuck, fuck! It had been over a year that he had been clean. Suddenly he gets some money, it’s party time and he loses it. He just sat, feeling numb.
The internet had been of a little (very little) help to Emily in searching back to the time her mother died. Now she had decided to go ‘old school’, after getting permission to go through some old files, including news articles and photos on film, at the L.A. Times. That’s where she was now, standing and waiting for ‘Becky’.
In a moment Emily was met at reception by the perky woman, early twenties, maybe five-four in her heels, but someone who knew Emily on sight. Excited and chattering non-stop, she took her guest to a window-less room one floor below main and left her with a row of steel filing cabinets. Old school indeed.
“Have fun. There’s a phone there that connects to reception if you need me, or anything. See you.” She grasped Emily’s arm in a friendly gesture and turned to leave. “I’d love hearing about Jordan Barclay.” She bubbled, a huge grin on her face, and then she was gone.
Emily looked around. Well, here she was, crazy or not. Maybe she would find something, maybe not; the only problem was, she didn’t know quite what she was looking for.
Stafford Hawkins sat in his office, waiting. Drew Downing was to report to him this morning at eleven and it was five to.
Hawkins was just waiting and thinking and his mind happened to wander back to a very interesting day.
Burbank, California; 1998
“Stafford! Hey my man, how’z it going. Long time no see.” Emmett Chandler greeted the tall, slim man with the almost white hair who had been an investor for him several years back, but who he had not seen in a while. “What brings ya’ here? And how the Hell did you find me; this is an exclusive club?” Emmett had a look on his face.
Stafford, who thought he would be much more self-conscious and bothered by this moment, felt okay. He was going to talk about something personal; talking like this was not his thing, but for some reason he was relaxed. “We have mutual friends, that apparently have common interests.” He smiled, looking slightly reptilian.
Emmett arched his eyebrows and tilted his head.
“Margaret Frieland?” Stafford said.
“Maggie, you don’t say. Yeah, we are definitely acquainted.” Emmett chuckled, looking like a typical west coast drug dealer, which was odd in that Chandler had never dealt in drugs at all; it was always women and now this, an exclusive S & M club that catered to a high-end clientele.
“You know, you usually have to be vetted by me, personally, to get in.” Emmett winked; Stafford smiled and sipped his club soda. “So, I gotta’ ask, what’s yer pleasure, and I gotta’ say, I’m mucho surprised to see ya’ in here, Stafford ol’ buddy.” Emmett had a huge grin on his face, because Stafford Hawkins was truly the last person he expected to see at this club.
They were sitting in the lounge area of the facility, and it looked pretty much like any lounge. All the ‘action’ was in the rooms behind the door and upstairs.
Stafford cleared his throat and launched into it, “I enjoy seeing young women, well girls, really, but there are laws, being punished. That’s my thing, and all I do is watch, I do not, um, participate.”
Emmett nodded his head. “Ok. That’s not too crazy, by our standards, Stafford. We get some, uh, pretty wild requests.” He chuckled. Stafford had just divulged something that no one else knew about him, certainly not Sarah, who would be unable to wrap her head around his desires; because, to her, he had none.
Emmett pondered for a moment and then looked like he just had an idea. Because it had been Hawkins who had come through with cash, six years ago, that literally saved ‘his ass’; and he had thanked the man back then, but, really had not thanked him nearly enough. “Hey, Stafford, come with me. I wanna show ya’ something.”
They got up and Stafford followed Chandler out a door guarded by security, down a hallway, through another door and up some stairs to a room Chandler unlocked. When they entered, Hawkins, who had been involved in computer systems and applications for several years, stood looking in amazement at a room filled with television screens; a very sophisticated operation. “Ain’t this somethin’?” Chandler asked, and Hawkins had to agree.
In the room was a single individual who monitored the proceedings. “What exactly is this?” Hawkins asked, looking at the banks of screens, when suddenly on one a man appeared with two girls. “Do they know about the cameras?” Hawkins asked in amazement.
Chandler laughed. “No way, man. We’ve got four in each room; we watch and record everything.” Hawkins now noted the four views of the man and the two girls who were getting naked quickly. The girls then handcuffed the man, a distinguished looking mid-fifties gentleman, to the bed and blindfolded him.
“He’s the CEO of a major pharmaceutical company,” Chandler noted, as the girls began to abuse his genitals. Hawkins simply stared, shaking his head. Then his attention was drawn by action on a nearby screen and as Hawkins turned to watch this new scene, he froze. The young man coming in behind a tall, attractive middle-aged woman wearing black, including high black leather boots, was someone Hawkins knew.
“Oh my God,” Hawkins whispered quietly as the young man undressed and got on his knees. It was the assistant to his main accountant; Downing. “Drew Downing”, Hawkins whispered to himself, watching as the woman began to gently kick Downing in his testicles. “Could I buy this recording from you; digital I’m guessing.”
“Yeah, it is, but I can’t really sell…”
“Just this one room. I’ll give you fifty thousand.”
Chandler looked up at Hawkins, “Fifty G’s? You’re joking?”
Hawkins took his check book out of his jacket pocket. “No, I’m not, Chandler. Let’s take care of this business, and then we can talk of the other.
Chandler whistled. “Holy jeez, man. This guy must be somethin’ special.”
Hawkins simply smiled.
Downing entered, put on the mask and stood where directed.
“Ah, Downing, my dear…brother-in-law, always good to see you.” Hawkins smirked.
Downing was never sure how to respond to his boss when he was like this; he normally just rolled with it.
“Good morning, sir. Anything you need to see me for?”
“Nothing further from my sister? Any news of any…plans?”
Downing hesitated for a moment, then replied, “I think the whole shares thing is really Emily’s idea, sir. Melanie has looked after her for so long I think she just goes along. I do not believe Melanie has any personal interest in running this company, or any company. Or anything.”
“I see your point, Downing. Has, my daughter, given any hint of her plans; do you think she wants to, well, run anything.”
“I believe she does, sir. It may seem strange, given her, um, behavior in the past, but she takes to business easily.”
Yes, Hawkins thought, she does. “Have they said anything to you about, me?”
“No, sir. I don’t believe they have any intention of changing your role. But I do know Emily wishes to see you, talk with you, face-to-face.”
“She has said that?”
“Yes, she has asked me to give you that message.”
“That’s fine, Downing. Thank you. I will discuss things with you tomorrow.”
“Thank you, sir.”
After Downing left, Hawkins sat in thought for a few minutes, then made a call. Moments later he contacted Prendergast. “Yes, sir?”
“Ms. Prendergast, is Ms. Da Costa available?”
“I believe she is, sir, let me track her.”
“Thank you Ms. Prendergast; just send her to my office.”
Three minutes later the door opened and Carman Da Costa entered, and with mask in place stood in attendance. “You called for me, Mr. Hawkins?”
Hawkins regarded the woman’s reflection for a moment; “You may remove the mask today, Ms. Da Costa.” The woman hesitated briefly, then removed the cover and placed it on the side shelf, returning to her spot. She wanted to ask why the change but knew there was no point; Hawkins would tell her what she needed to know.
“Has my daughter discussed my, position, with you?”
“Not directly, sir. She has simply stated that things with the main company are to remain in place; no changes with anyone in management. I believe that includes yourself, sir.”
“Any opinion on why that is so, Ms. Da Costa?”
Carman hesitated briefly, “I believe your daughter is good with the management as is, and wishes to learn more, before making any, well, major decisions. Obviously, replacing the CEO is a major decision.”
“Quite so. Quite so, Ms. Da Costa.” Hawkins paused, as if considering his next move. “How often are the two of you together, intimately, I mean?”
Carman wanted to laugh out loud at the outrageousness of this question, but she knew her agreement with Hawkins allowed him this freedom.”
“Infrequently, sir, at this point. We have both been busy. We certainly intend to see each other again soon.”
“Do you have any idea why my daughter would be contacting the Los Angeles Times?”
Carman stood wondering herself, but this was not hard
to answer. “I have absolutely no idea why, sir?”
“I want you to find out.”
“Yes, sir. Will that be all, sir?”
Hawkins paused for a moment, as if he were waiting, when suddenly his intercom buzzed. “Yes, Ms. Prendergast.”
“You have a visitor, sir. Should I have her wait here.”
“Yes, Ms. Prendergast. Hold on a moment.” Hawkins clicked off that machine and looked at the reflection of Da Costa. “I want you to undress, Ms. Da Costa.”
The woman stood frozen, as if regarding a dangerous path before her. Her mind working furiously, Da Costa concluded that this was likely a test of some sort. Being naked had never bothered Da Costa; she had visited numerous nude beaches in her travels. She had a lovely body and did not mind displaying it. Doing so for her unpleasant boss was another matter, however. Deciding quickly, she disrobed and stood naked and feeling strangely vulnerable, awaiting the next instruction.
“Very good, Ms. Da Costa. Come over here to my right. There is a star on the carpet. Stand on it facing away from me.” When Da Costa had done this and was standing straight, her long, muscled legs and round hips displayed to Hawkins, he clicked on his intercom. “Have Ms. Alvarez enter.”
Carman sucked in her breath in silence upon hearing a stranger would join them. The woman who entered was lean and very attractive, thick curly dark hair cut short; early forties and dark skinned; she was in fact Nigerian.
One floor below them were three condo units, including the one Hawkins had been living in since Emily’s arrival. For the last few days, Ms. Alvarez, a professional dominant, had been staying in another.
Hawkins had been planning to use her, likely today, with Drew Downing, but had changed his mind. He would use her instead with Da Costa. It was time to gauge her allegiance.
“Have you brought what I asked, Ms. Alvarez?” Hawkins asked quietly.
“I have, Mr. Hawkins,” she replied, with a hint still of an accent, if one listened.
“This naked woman, Ms. Da Costa, is my assistant. Please stand behind her. You need to be naked as well.” In a moment the two women, Alvarez slightly shorter than Da Costa and a darker brown to her caramel, were standing one behind the other. “Kneel, Ms. Da Costa.”
Carman hesitated for a moment, not sure what she had gotten into, but she was this far along, so turning back seemed pointless, so she knelt.
Hawkins had turned his chair slightly so he had a view of both the kneeling Da Costa and the waiting Alvarez. “Arch your back more, Ms. Da Costa.” Hawkins instructed in an even voice. If he was aroused by this display, his voice did not betray him.
“What do you think, Ms. Alvarez.” In response to this, the dark woman reached down and caressed Da Costa’s flanks and buttocks, softly and lovingly. Carman felt desire immediately and worked to suppress the moans she felt. She wanted this woman to enter her, even with the ominous figure sitting and watching.
“This is lovely and she is ready, sir.” Ms. Alvarez said softly.
“Ms. Da Costa, I am intending to have Ms. Alvarez strike you with her cane. It will sting and leave a very thin welt, but nothing more. You can accept this or you may dress and leave. However, if you leave, then you leave completely. I will pay you to the end of this month as severance. What do you wish to do?”
Carman swallowed hard. She was always the one who was on the other end of the whip (or in her case, a hand or a paddle; she didn’t like whips); this was not her desire. While she was pondering, Alvarez had slid a delicate hand up to caress the now engorged lips of Da Costa’s vulva. Working hard to suppress her moans, Carman arched her back more as Alvarez slipped a finger in and gently probed.
It was all Carman could do not to cry out. She bit her lip and then murmured, “I will accept this, sir.”
Alvarez removed her finger and knelt beside Carman, murmuring “I will give you release after the cane, my sweet.”
Hawkins spoke quietly, almost hushed. “Fine, Ms. Da Costa. Simply repeat, please punish me, Stafford.”
Da Costa almost choked on the combined swell of emotion and disgust that rose in her throat; she needed to swallow hard again, more than once, before saying, “Please p-punish me, ummmm, Stafford.”
“Begin Ms. Alvarez. Give her five strokes and then do what you wish to her.”
Tad was lying on the shabby couch in Raisha’s place; he hadn’t bothered to get up or go home. The girls had gone out for burgers and now were out for some booze. Tad simply lay, feeling overwhelming sorry for himself. Why does this shit happen to me? He lamented, but at that moment, the girls arrived.
“You awake, Tad boy?” Brianna called.
“Yeah, is Mr. Allan doin’ any hiring today?” Raisha sang. They both laughed.
“Hey, he already hired us.” Brianna pointed out. “Ok, you know what Tad likes,” she said, and her and Raisha began making out. When they were naked, they joined Tad on the couch, although he just lay there. Raisha picked up the bottle of Southern Comfort and cracked it while Brianna lay a line of white powder on the coffee table.
“What’s that?” Tad exclaimed, looking over.
“Oh really,” Brianna laughed, “like you’ve never seen coke.” The girls laughed again.
“Get rid of it,” Tad moaned and hid his face.
“Hey, we bought this shit with the money you gave us last night. We ain’t gettin’ rid of it, ‘cept up our noses.” Raisha proclaimed, snorting the line, before laying down another that Brianna hit.
“C’mon, loser, Tad the man. Your line’s up, baby.” Brianna said, putting down more powder.
Tad lay for a moment in debate within himself. “What the Hell,” he said, “I’ve already done crack for fuck’s sake.” The girls cheered him with shots of Southern Comfort.
Emily paused and stared at the photo that had come up on the little viewing machine. It was almost four o’clock, and apart from a bathroom break, she had sat and sorted through material all day. There had been some success. She had found a photo of her mother and father’s wedding: Sarah Donnelly to Stafford Hawkins, the caption proclaimed, and Emily had stared at a young woman who did resemble her, except with slightly darker hair.
She had found articles detailing her father’s rise to fortune. She had even found her grandfather’s obituary notice. But the photo she was staring at now transfixed her. Just then the door opened and perky Becky came bustling in and a rapid exchange took place.
It was almost time; could Emily get a copy of this; uh, but that was breaking the rules; maybe she and Becky could discuss that over dinner and hear stories of Jordan and the others; uh, ok, maybe. Yeah, sure.
So now Emily was striding to the parkade, Becky almost running to keep up, and in her possession was a photo showing the then Sarah Hawkins and her prize roses; a photo clearly taken in the back yard of their home, an area completely transformed since, with all the roses removed, just after Sarah Hawkins’s death.
Of great interest to Emily was that in the photo with Sarah was the family gardener, proudly describing their winning ‘Harlequin Rose’, so named due to its distinctive diamond-shaped shading on the leaves.
The gardener’s name was Alex. Alex Vargas.
Holy. Fuck. Was all Emily could think.
Emily shuddered and cried out, stifling her voice with her fist. She then lay, smiling, feeling wonderful.
“How was that?” Becky asked, looking up, her smiling face glistening.
Emily just lay still and murmured, “You can’t tell from down there?”
Becky slid up and lay against her new friend. “I just like to be sure. I really want to please you, Miss Emily.” She paused while Emily lay. “Are you going to fuck me again?”
Emily turned and covered the woman’s mouth with her own, sucking for a moment. She released her hold and looked at the bright-eyed woman, “Anyone ever tell you, you talk too much, kiddo?” Emily smiled.
Becky nodded her head up and down. Enthusiastically.
“I thought so. Now, just lay, like quiet and relaxed. Like me, see?” Becky nodded her head and the two young women lay against one another on top of the sheets.
Emily was actually feeling drowsy and slipping into sleep when Becky whispered. “Do you need anything, Miss Emily.”
Emily looked at the smiling face and considered. “Yes, please see if you can find my panties, on the floor.”
In a moment Becky emerged, head popping up like a diver under water. “Found ‘em.” She chirped.
“Good, come up here.” Emily directed, making the girl open her mouth as she stuffed in the undies. “There, now that should do the trick.”
(End of Chapter 07)