“Not now, Samantha, thank you, can’t you see I’m thinking.”
Chief Jones flapped his fingers at the door behind her, Samantha ducked her head and backed out to her desk in the adjoining room. Chief Jones was not the chief of anything, but he was managing director of Westwing Lines and had more than his fair share of problems.
“How can I see if he’s thinking?” she muttered to herself. She returned the bank manager’s call, “Sorry, Mr Arbib, he’s tied up, I’ll get him to call you.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll call him, maybe I’ll be lucky and catch him when he’s less busy,” he snorted.
Samantha reread the jobs vacant section of the local paper.
Chief Jones threw his pen across the office. fuming but considering his next move. Slowly he crouched, his back arched as he bent to fetch the fake Parker, not because he was tidy, it was the only pen on his desk that worked. The bank’s letter glared at him as it bounced up and down on the desk as if it had a heart of its own, a black heart. It was not happy reading, not only that, but Mr Arbib used his actual name, Charles Jones. Which infuriated the Chief.
“That prat has known me for fifteen years, he still calls me Charles.”
He ignored the rest of the contents. The paragraph pointing out Westwing’s debt to the bank, in red numbers, the part about his lovely four-bedroomed detached home being used as security, blah, blah.
Slowly an idea was forming like a tadpole emerging from its egg. And like the tadpole, the idea could swim, its legs were growing and gaining strength. Chief buzzed for a coffee, his radiant face puzzled Samantha.
“Are you okay, sir?”
“Never been better, things are on the up!”
His pen scratched its way across line after line of scribbled sketches, misspelled words, and figures. He gave some huge ticks.
His smile grew as he flicked on LinkedIn. It confirmed the rumour he had heard.
“DeepSea Cruises were looking for new staff to crew the latest cruiser in its line,” he chuckled aloud.
Samantha got increasingly worried as she tidied the coffee mug and saw what he was reading.
“Excuse me, but why does good news for your enemy make you so happy?”
“Ah-ha, all will soon be revealed,” he answered, cleaning away imaginary crumbs.
Facebook’s home page saw DeepSea’s CEO shaking hands with the mayor. He cut the ribbons on the launch of a new boat.
“We are looking for a new crew for this magnificent craft. I wonder if there is anybody at Westwing looking for work?” his camera ready smile beamed confidence. It was only matched by Chief Jones’s own pumped up grin.
Samantha ducked out before there was an explosion. It never came.
Chief Jones busied himself with a press release, not from Westwing, but from the DeepSea company.
“Naughty me,” he chuckled as he edited the text before he sent it to a local journalist he knew was keen on tidbits of information.
‘The public will be aware, that DeepSea has launched its luxury craft with a highly trained crew to take cruisers to their dream destination. We are proud to announce a very special, once in a lifetime voyage. Those who keep their eyes on the news will know that the iceberg which sank The Titanic, has recently been discovered floating in waters north of Scotland. We and only us can cruise alongside the giant berg, our voyagers can take close-up photographs of not only the berg but some souvenirs of The Titanic. Deck chairs, the ship’s bell, and some of the passenger’s clothing became wedged in the ice. Incredibly, it is all visible as the ice melts. Take your only chance to see historic artefacts from the horrendous accident all those years ago.’
The release gave booking details, including a special price for the first one-hundred customers we will also present the lucky people with free souvenir t-shirts.
“That’s the local press, now to get tongues wagging on social media,” he smiled proud of himself.
“Samantha,” he called, “Your mate, you know the graphic designer girl, can I trust her?”
“Trusted to do what?” answered the secretary.
“Can she keep her mouth shut?”
“Sir, what are you up to?”
“Never mind that, can I trust her?”
“She’s been my friend since school, yes, she is completely trustworthy,” answered Samantha.
“Great, get her in, ASAP.”
Veronica slid her business card across the table, “Samantha tells me you have a ‘delicate’ job for me? What do you need?”
Chief Jones slid his laptop towards the designer, “Here we have some pictures of icebergs and a collection of debris from a shipwreck. Can you conjure up pictures that look like the ship parts are in the ice? And it needs to be with a rough sea in the background.”
“Sure, that’s easy enough, is that all?”
“I want the pictures sent to my email address and we will use these pics on t-shirts for another thing.”
“Again, easy. What about my payment?”
“If you can keep quiet about this until April the third, you get paid double. Okay? Is tomorrow too soon?
“The pictures by lunchtime the shirts a bit later,” said Veronica.
Samantha looked quizzically at her friend as she walked out with her finger to her lips.
Social media was buzzing with exaggerated tales of bergs, of Titanic memorabilia hitting the market at hugely increased prices, stories upon stories, tales of family members who were there, and those who just knew someone who was. Titanic fever burst.
Chief Jones leant back at his desk and called another contact, “I need some ice, can you help?”
“You having a party?”
“Haha, I need a bit more than just for our cocktails. Don’t ask why, but I want a truckload of filthy unusable lumps of the stuff. I want it delivered outside an office, so you had better use an unmarked vehicle. It may be sensible to cover the number plates too,” the chief smiled. Things were dropping into place.
Five am on April the first, Chief Jones was awake, he needed no alarm clock. He crept downstairs, leaving his wife peacefully unaware of the day’s events. Downing a too-hot coffee, he made his way on the quiet streets. He passed DeepSea’s offices as they dumped the ice in the road, spreading across the pavement.
“I wish to make a complaint. There is stinking ice all over the place!” he bellowed into his mobile.
He bounced up the stairs to his office and turned on Facebook.
Within minutes, someone had posted a short video of police arriving, all scratching their heads.
‘Police froze in plaice’ was the caption.
By seven o’clock his social media apps were buzzing, all making jokes at DeepSea’s expense. More fake stories concerning Captain Edward Smith the Titanic skipper and his link to DeepSea.
“Have you heard the news?” asked Samantha as she dumped her coat and bag.
“Wonderful isn’t it,” grinned her boss.
“Veronica was told to move along by the police, she even handed them a t-shirt each,” laughed Samantha.
As the morning progressed, Chief Jones and Samantha were expecting calls booking cruises on their ships. As yet no changes.
“Give them a chance to cancel with DeepSea first, they can then book with us,” said Chief Jones.
“Oh, what’s this?” Samantha pointed to her mobile’s Line link. “There will be a press release from DeepSea at noon,” noticed Samantha handing her phone to her boss.
“Maybe they are going bust?” grinned her boss.
They turned on the local news channel at noon.
“Before we update you with the news, we have an announcement from the managing director of DeepSea,” the reporter said as she handed the mic.
“Here we go,” said Chief Jones, “He is going to apologise for all those who have lost their deposits and a big sorry to those who thought they had new jobs,” he giggled like a schoolgirl.
“I have to start with a big apology,” said the MD.
Chief Jones and Samantha shook hands in triumph.
The tv seemed to increase in volume.
“I know how important your news coverage is, sorry but I have to cut in. I really must thank Westwing’s staff and their owner. We didn’t expect you to advertise our new cruise in such a complimentary way. Wonderful job, they now overbooked us for our next half dozen trips.”
Chief Jones and Samantha stood and gazed open-mouthed.
“One last thing before we carry on with the rest of the day’s news. The police have released a graphic designer from custody and the council will be sending a bill to Westwing for cleaning the stinking iceberg from the street.”