“Mr. Jackson, where are you? The meeting started thirty minutes ago and you know this was our last shot at this. You’d better be dead; I know that much! Because if you’re not, I’m personally going to kill you.”
A.J.’s assistant Christopher hung up the phone, paced the hallway for a few seconds and walked back into the conference room.
“I’m really sorry gentlemen. This is so unlike Mr. Jackson.” Christopher desperately tried to do damage control as he observed Michael Hefner, the CEO of Five-Star Investment Group, growing frustrated.
Mr. Hefner slowly interlocked his fingers making a loose double handed fist, in front of his mouth as he began to speak. “I’d be inclined to believe that, had it been the first time something like this has happened. Last time he called to reschedule only two hours before we were supposed to meet. My driver was already in route to come get me.”
The clean-cut John F. Kennedy Jr. look alike rolled back in the high back leather chair in preparation to stand. All eyes rose as the handsome, six foot, five-inch-tall man stood. He tugged on his lapel, and continued speaking.
“You know.” He paused. “No other bank, investor or two-bit loan shark in the city was willing to take a risk on this project. I was willing to take that risk because I admired his spirit and I appreciated his vision. But this…!” He slammed the tip of his pointer finger on the marble tabletop. “This is unacceptable, and my time is far too valuable to be wasted in such a way. To add insult to injury, I just learned that eighty percent of his liquid assets have been withdrawn from his accounts yesterday. I personally stressed to Mr. Jackson how important it was to have the appearance of stability in his liquid assets. I may be the one to approve and sign the checks, but I still have shareholders to answer to. He knew there was no way this deal could, or would go through if a single dollar was moved prior to closing.” Mr. Hefner reached down to pick up his brief case. “I’m sorry. With Mr. Jackson only having one-hundred thousand dollars in the bank, my hands are tied.” He nodded his head towards the other men at the round table. “Gentlemen.” Everyone with the exception of Christopher stood to their feet and followed the young executive out the door.
After showing them to the door, Christopher furiously redialed A.J.’s cell phone. He didn’t expect to get an answer but knew exactly what he was going to say.
“Hello.” A.J. answered the phone with a groggy voice.
“Mr. Jackson, where in the Phhh…” He paused for a moment. “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Are you okay?” He asked in a concerned tone.
“Ahhh. Ohhhh. Wha, what time is it? Who is this?”
“It’s me Mr. Jackson. Christopher.”
“Ahh, oh. I’m sorry Christopher. I didn’t see your number.” A.J. took another deep breath.
“Where are you? You knew that we had the investors in today. What happened?” Christopher was livid and A.J. could tell. The problem was, he was still too intoxicated to realize the severity of the situation.
A.J. looked around the room. “I don’t know where. I am.”
“That’s it Mr. Jackson. You have made me look like an ass for the last time. Consider, today my two-week resignation. I don’t need this, and I am not a baby sitter. I’m done.”
A.J. got an instant dial tone as Christopher aggressively hung up in his ear. He looked at the cell phone as if it were going to speak, shrugged his shoulders, scratched himself and laid back in the bed.
“Room service.” A short Mexican woman knocked on the door. “Room service.” She called out again, before walking in. “Oh, I’m so sorry sir.” She raced out of the room before A.J noticed she was there. The sound of the door closing shut awakened him from his deep sleep.
“Oh, god, what is the….” A.J. sat up on the edge of the bed in a state of confusion. He looked around the room trying to figure out exactly where he was and quickly noticed that he was butt naked. “Ahh schitt.” He paused and took a deep breath standing next to the bed, as naked and confused as the day he was born. “Where am I?” He reached over and picked up the brochure from the nightstand. “The Embassy Suites? Why am I here and how did I get here?” he asked himself aloud. “Oh my god, my head is killing me!” A.J. grabbed his pounding head as he continued talking to himself while pacing the floor at the foot of the bed. “Okay, okay. Think A.J.! Think!”
He sat on the hotel chair and jumped up like he sat on a thumb tack. He walked into the bathroom to grab a clean towel and sat it across the desk chair, ‘No telling what’s on this chair, cuz there’s no telling what jumped off last night.’ he thought to himself before sitting back down.
“Okay, think A.J. Think. Why am I at the……” He paused as images of last night came to mind. “I remember coming here last night when…” He paused again as he remembered the drama with Jamie that unfolded yesterday. That made it even more real and further added to the mystery of how and why he woke up naked in a hotel suite.
‘Hi my name is Ramone. You is that scotch your drinking?’
A.J. scratched his forehead after realizing that little scene in his head was another image from when he first entered and sat at the bar downstairs. The rest of that evening isn’t even a blur. He couldn’t remember a single detail pass the bar. He looked at the clock and it was three o’clock in the afternoon. Just as he noticed the time; he recalled the phone call that he got from Christopher.
“Ah schitt!!! Five-Star Investments!!” A.J began frantically searching for his underwear, and realized they were nowhere to be found. “Damn!!! Damn!!! Damn!!! Christopher is going kill me.” A.J had little choice but to get dressed without underwear and by now, he was less concerned with who or why someone would have confiscated his boxer briefs. He put on his Polo Jeans, and his pull over sweater, slipped on his loafers and rushed out the door.
“Are you ready to check out Sir?” The girl behind the counter smiled.
“Uh, yes I am. But uh, I’m…” A.J. leaned closer in so that he could speak quietly. “I don’t know who checked me in.”
“You did.” she replied.
“Huh? What do you mean? I mean, how do you know?” “I was here last night when you checked in with your friend. I got off at midnight and I’m just starting my shift for today.” She reached in the little plastic card holder. “Isn’t this your credit card?” She showed him the receipt.
“Yes, it is.” A.J. still had no recollection of last night, let alone, checking in and paying for a room. “Okay, you said that I came in with a friend?”
“Yes sir, you did.”
“Do you know who she was or what she looked like?”
“Mr. Jackson, I didn’t get a good look, but I was able to see that it wasn’t a female. It was a man.”
“A man?” Now A.J. was a lot more confused and too afraid to ask additional questions that he might not be prepared to hear the answers to. He signed the receipt and rushed out the door headed to work, hoping that Christopher was able to cover for him during his drunken spell. He could figure out the details of last night later.
“I told you this morning that I quit Mr. Jackson. I’m sorry! I just can’t continue working under these conditions. Now that you lost the support of Five-Star, how will you be able to stay afloat without this deal going through?”
“Christopher, brother I’m really going through it right now. Please reconsider quitting. There’s gotta be something we can come up with to get this deal back on the table with Five-Star.”
“Mr. Jackson, let’s be real. Even if we were able to smooth things over with Five-Star, how do you plan to get the financing now that virtually all of your money is gone?”
“What are you talking about all of my money is gone?” Jackson nervously chuckled, frightened to death to hear the answer.
“They said that eighty percent of your money was withdrawn from the bank yesterday.” A.J. pulled his car over to the side of the road, and grabbed his chest, trying to keep from passing out.
“Mr. Jackson? Mr. Jackson, are you all right? I thought that you already knew about it.”
A.J.’s grip got so weak that he dropped his cell phone onto the floor of his Mercedes. Christopher continued calling his name, but A.J. did not hear him. A.J knew in his mind exactly what happened, but couldn’t believe it. Jamie knew how critical it was that they didn’t move a penny of that money.
‘Wonk, woooonnnnkk!!!!!!’ An eighteen-wheeler sped by blowing its horn, startling A.J. from his brief emotional coma. He looked at the floor, picked back up the cell and closed it. Moments later, it rang.
“Mr. Jackson, it’s me, Christopher. Are you alright?”
In a calm, emotionless voice; he answered. “Yes. Yes, Christopher. I’m good. What’s up? What can I do for you?”
“I was calling you back. You called me, remember?”
“Oh, oh yeah. Well Christopher, I don’t know what to say. I’m not sure if I will be able to afford to even pay you, or if I want to even continue on.”
“You’re not thinking of doing anything crazy are you Mr. Jackson?”
“Christopher, the way things are going in my life right now I can’t afford to do anything crazy. But maybe you’re right. I won’t be able to stay in business, so maybe this is a sign that it is time for a change.”
“Just pray on it Mr. Jackson. That’s what I always do.”
“I’ve got a lot going on and I feel in my bones that this is only the beginning. It’s time for war.”
“War? War against who?” Christopher asked.
“Just war.” he replied. “Listen, I gotta go home right now. Let’s talk some other time. I will pay you for the remaining of the pay period and you don’t have to worry about coming back in.”
“Mr. Jackson. That won’t be necessary. I can finish off my two weeks.”
“There will be nothing for you to do, but help wrap up a few things.”
“Then that’s what I will do.”
“Thanks Christopher. I appreciate you brother. I’m going to take your advice for now and just pray on it before deciding what to do next. Just take a couple days off and we can get together then, okay?”
“Okay, thanks. Call me if you need anything and drive safely, okay.”
“Yeah, okay, I will.” A.J. hung up the phone and sat in his sedan an additional twenty minutes before pulling off and heading home. He tried calling Jamie’s cell but it continued going to voicemail without ringing. “Jamie, I can’t believe you could do this to us. You took money from the account? Call me. Okay. I’m almost home now.”
For the next twenty minutes, A.J went through several emotions. First he was angry, then sad, and back to anger again. He pulled on the street before his block and was held up by a crew maneuvering a truck down the narrow street. He considered parking and walking to the house, but ended up waiting almost ten minutes before they got the huge truck past the other cars on the block. He pulled into the driveway pushed the garage door opener and pulled in. Jamie wasn’t home yet, so he sat in the car and dialed her number again.
“Baby, where are you, and when will you be home? We need to talk, okay. Call me back.”
A.J. got out of the car and walked up the three concrete stairs leading from the garage to the kitchen foyer. He turned off the burglar alarm and walked in.
“Oh Jesus help me!!!” A.J. fell to his knees in disbelief and broke into tears weeping out loud as he noticed the house was practically empty.
Tune in tomorrow for the continuation of SinCinnati Soaps.
Same SinCi Channel. Same SinCi Time