Jerry Wonder, articling at Kravitz & Smithe, the world’s largest intellectual property firm, ate lunch with the senior partner.
Mr. Karvitz forked another $9 pawn over his once wrinkled lower lip. Cosmetic surgery had shaved 20 years off his life. Another nip and tuck and watch out millennium moms. “That’s what I call a fine dessert, lots of protein, tasty, no sugar. Know why you’re here?”
“No.” Jerry assumed that the senior partner had read his brief dealing with a pesky troublemaker who had threatened to sue one of their 2,300 clients, each of whom paid the firm a retainer of at least $625 a month. Don’t even ask about billable hours.
A tall blonde, dripping diamonds, glided by.
The senior partner pointed his silver fork at Jerry. “Your grandfather was a hell of wingman. Got me laid a lot in Hawaii. God, those Polynesian babes were great. ‘Especially if they had a few blue eyed genes. I miss your grandfather.”
“I miss him too.”
Karvitz raised an eyebrow and immediately a pair of waiters sprang forward as though they had received discrete colonics. They cleared the linen-draped table and vanished.
Kravitz leaned in closer. “A precaution. Just in case there were listening devices in any of the food.” The table clearing procedure was a first. Another senior moment.
A third waiter served coffee and also vanished.
Karvitz pressed a silver dollar into Jerry’s palm. “Slip this into your pocket, don’t make it obvious. When you get home, check out the first star to the right of the nine.”
“How was your coffee?”
“Sensational. Ecuadorian, Sir?”
“Your favorite, right Jerry?”
“You never cease to amaze me, Mr. Karvitz. How were you able to obtain it?”
“Call me Jerry.”
“I thought your first name was Jay.”
“I just use the letter J. My name is Jerry. J-e-r-r-y.”
“We have the same name, then?”
“Your grandfather arranged it–so I would feel indebted to him. And of course you. I’m impressed with your coffee nose, I think that’s what they call it. The coffee you now savor grew in Ecuador less than thirty days ago. Roasted in this city within the last 72 hours. With loving care.”
“My understanding,” the younger Jerry said, hoping the old man was not dealing with bandits or smugglers, “is that not much leaves Equador because of the trade embargo.”
“You don’t think your grandfather’s best friend could best the US, Russian and Chinese military?”
“I’m sure you could, Sir. But for a handful of coffee beans, a variety that you don’t especially like, it seems … strange.”
“Jerry Kravitz did not get to the top of the food chain by half measures. Five kilos! Your favorite coffee. Here.” He used a toe to nudge a leather briefcase toward the younger man. “Enjoy.”
Jerry was aware of a slightly chocolate scent from the briefcase. “May I ask how you pulled it off, Sir?”
Kravitz leaned in closer. If he were any closer he would have been behind Jerry. “An attachment.”
“I don’t understand, Sir.”
“An attachment … like a document you attach to an email.”
“I’m afraid I still don’t follow, Sir.”
“One of our clients figured out how to send anything as an e-mail attachment. That includes cats, dogs, and people. Coffee is a snap.”
“Would it make any sense if I knew which client?” The old man needed psychiatric help. The sooner the firm could contain his dementia the better. This nonsense would require some serious spin.
“For now, let’s call him X. Anyway, Mr. X has a small problem. It’s partly my fault. I’m going to entrust you to straighten things out. Call it squaring the beef. After you succeed you will become a full partner and receive a bonus of five million dollars.”
“Do I have to kill anyone?”
“You are far too clever to do that. But if you had to make something happen you will not discuss it with me. Are you in or out?”
“The instant our executive committee gives us a green light.”
The old fellow looked betrayed. “Check that silver dollar.”
Jerry reached into his pocket and realized that the coin was minted in 1879. A Morgan dollar, named after the engraver. The obverse image was a woman’s head in profile. The coin had a scratch on the woman’s chin. A little nick. A flaw on the coin, not of her face.
Other than that, the coin was mint perfect. Jerry had slipped that coin under the pillow in his grandfather’s casket. A token to connect them. He had kissed the old man’s forehead and watched the attendants close the coffin lid. The coffin had never left his sight. He had watched dancing red flames consume it in the crematorium. The flames were the stuff of Jerry’s nightmares.
“How did you get this coin?” asked Jerry. The old attorney was off his bean. Or coffee beans or whatever the fuck was going on.
The senior partner, opened his hand to reveal five more coins, exactly like the one Jerry held. Each coin had a tiny nicked chin. That flaw connected the six coins. “This has to be something we do on our own. In or out?”
A long pause. “In, Sir.”
/end chapter One. To be continued.
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