During those months I rode around the town and out on the Island with a sign on the trike. It alternately advertised The Pub and the Hot Dog Heaven and the Gift Shoppe. I loved it even in the cold. I would park the trike on the Island and have coffee on the pier. It was just as good a billboard in the parking lot as moving up and down the streets.
The TV show I hated ran during those months so by the end of tourist season the Gift shop was flooded. The Old Men were so popular they had to keep the fence around the factory locked to discourage tourists seeking a guided tour. Mel’s however did a bang up business. Wilson was pretty much at home there. I expect he was as surprised as I was to find that he was a people person.
He really seemed to be enjoying the meeting and greeting people and explaining how the restaurant worked. The buffet was simple after I forced them to go back to it. All you could get onto the plate from the buffet was one trip. It was five bucks a head for adults two for children and senior size plates. A bowl of soup and a salad was included in the price.
You could also get a salad bar trip with a big bowl or an endless bowl of soup and hot dog buns instead of the traditional buffet. The hot dog buns came in three styles. A bakery dinner roll, a whole grain roll and a kind of mini submarine roll. Most people piled four or more dogs on the plate with rolls for each then went to dip them. Making your own dog was most of the fun. Kids loved the place and I was happy. There were few if any restaurants on the Island that catered to kids.
Everything was in its early stages of development when I got the first of many calls from the Senator I had worked for on a kidnapping. Just like the first time he found me through Martin.
“I have a little job for you,” he said.
“Not interested,” I said. “I don’t mean to be rude, but I need to go ride my bike. The tourists are starting to come to town.”
“I’ll try someone else,” he said.
“That’s a very good idea,” I said.
A couple of days later the big Trust Manager called me to set up a meeting. Since it was in Capitol City and I could fly up, I quickly agreed. I landed at a grass field and the Trust Manager sent a car for me.
“So Sylvia how are you doing?” he asked, but he felt I was a bother obviously. He seemed in a hurry to get on with it.
“I’ll fine and trust me I would just as soon be some where else as well. Why don’t we just skip the pleasantries and get right to it.”
“We need to know what you want to do with this years money drop from the state?” he asked.
“Hell I don’t know. Have I burned through last years drop?” I asked.
“Hardly, you are probably the only lottery winner anyone here knows of who hasn’t. Most of them settle down after that first year but if you get any more settled, financially speaking, you will be dead. The money seems not to have grown but you only spend after interest about a quarter of a million dollars. But you have assets to show for almost all of it,” he said thoughtfully.
“Is that a bad thing?” I asked.
“Not really, but what do you want to do with this money drop. The state wishes to renegotiate with you. Rita your lawyer asked that we contact her with the result of this meeting,” he informed me. “She wanted to be here, but she has some personal problems.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. So what does the state wish to do and how does it impact me?” I asked.
“Instead of one million each year they now want to pay you half a million each year for twenty years. They have agreed to pay interest on the money they now hold in trust for you,” the manager said.
“What do my finances look like now?” I asked.
“You have a million which we are untrusted to us to manage. I would just add that it has grown at a rate equal to the rise in the stock market. You also have a liquid account which is managed by the local bank there in New Wales. That is for almost half a million dollars. Then there are the real estate assets. In other words you are in good shape and can easily afford to take the states offer.”
“Why would I want to take it. What’s in it for me?” I asked.
“The state bond rate right now is almost as good as the higher risk accounts you are in. The state bonds are what they propose to do with the whole ten million but make them redeemable over twenty years. It is to solve some accounting problem they have,” he said.
“Look at it closely and have Rita look at it closely. The state tried to screw me once. I don’t want to have that happen again,” I said. “Now why do you want to do this?”
“What do you mean,” he asked.
“There is no management involved with the money, if it is in bonds,” I suggested.
“Well there is not as much management for sure. But we still would manage the bond account, if you wished. Frankly Sylvia I don’t think I would want to deal with you if your trust account lost money,” he replied.
“I don’t really care as long as I have the money to do what I wish. Make sure the first half a million is in bonds that have a short maturity date,” I said. Which was the same as saying if everyone signed off on it, I would as well.
I flew home and thought about it all. I decided the Trust Manager wanted to drop me as a client. I didn’t make enough transactions on which they could take a cut. My money just sat there for the most part. Their main source of income wasn’t managing money it was in the moving of money. I didn’t sell off assets, so there were no fees being generated.
Rita might tell me that I didn’t need them, if all I was going to do was invest in state bonds, which were very secure and could also be very liquid. After their redemption date they continued to pay interest. The rate wasn’t good, but it was secure.
When I landed the plane I had just enough time to get to the bookkeeper who managed my local accounts. I had a chunk of money in the local bank and a money market account with them as well. Those were even more liquid, and Wilson has access to them. There was no indication he had used his access for personal gain. There were indications he had removed some items from inventory for his personal use. They were the ones we had previously discussed, so it was fine.
“In all Sylvia you have close to a quarter Million. I checked with the Bank Manager when you called. He agreed if you stopped by he would remove Wilson from your accounts. You do need a power of attorney in case of accident or death,” the bookkeeper assured me.
“Yeah I will have Rita set up and send a copy to you,” I suggested.
After a quick trip to the bank before closing it was all over. Wilson was pretty much out of my life. I knew I missed him. It was probably past time I move on to something else, even if it was just Real Estate Tycoon.
The damn TV show’s first year had been a moderate success. I was happy for the old men who negotiated their own contract with the producer. I had no idea what it said nor did I care. My only involvement with their business was see to it Jeremy got enough toy and tool boxes for his store.
I rode around with the billboard on the trike advertising the things available at the Bayview Arts Center in uptown New Wales. It worked because it told the locals that we were there. We had time to build a local base for the restaurant and the pub. Then I had signs for the gift shop that I ran when the tourist came to town. I actually was happy resting and riding around town.
I usually ate at Mel’s but ordered it delivered to the Pub. There were a heck of a lot of people who did that to avoid the children. Mel had the best of both worlds if she could keep her mind in the game.
“Sylvia could I talk to you a minute?” Wilson asked after he entered the pub one morning shortly after the tourist season opened.
“Sure Wilson, what can I do for you?” I answered him with a question.
“Mel is getting a lot of pressure to expand the menu. I know you own the deciding vote, since we pay our rent with a percentage of the profit, so you have to be on board for us to make any changes,” Wilson said.
“So what do you want, out of the contract now?” I asked.
“We are stabilized now and trust me I know that you gave Mel a hell of a break by setting it up this way. We would like to make a large payment with the TV money and what I have in saving, and then we can pay you off in a short amount of time. We also want to make some changes. Charges that we think will be good for the restaurant,’ Wilson said.
“You know I knew this was coming. It’s a good way to use your TV money. I’ll tell you what. I figure you have twenty grand left to go on the equipment. You come up with that and then agree to rent the building and apartment at fair market price, then you have a deal. But the concept of the hot dog restaurant belongs to me, if you decide to abandon it,” I demanded.
“Seems the TV money is flowing again,” Jeremy said. “The crew walked into the shop yesterday. They have film of you riding your billboard trike. They wanted to know if I could get you to sign a release, if they pay me for the footage they had just shot. I told them to fuck off in my best tough guy voice,” he said.
“Good for you,” I said laughing.
“I think Mel wants to run a fancy restaurant. If she does, we will have to start serving real food, I guess,” The Brit explained.
“Well Brit the concept of the hot dog buffet is mine. If she changes the restaurant I will just do it again somewhere else.” I had never considered it, but I could do it. Just find someone who wanted to cook and put them into business.
As we schemed to figure a way to get food into the pub, when my cell phone rang. The number was familiar but I really didn’t recognize it. “Hello,” I said into the phone.
“Hello Ms Porter, Please hear me out this time. It is really an important matter,” the senator said.
“I’m just not in that business any more,” I said.
“I want to hire you as a consultant to run an investigation. It isn’t going to be like anything you have ever done. It’ll be a chance to do something that makes a difference,” he said.
“Come on you and I both know nothing that happens in DC makes a difference,” I said.
“How about catching guys who are scamming the government,” he said.
“You mean like welfare fraud, or politicians who take bribes to pass information to the Chinese?” I asked.
Edited by Walt