Contemporary Drama Sad

The click of the rocking chair on the wooden floor created a meditative sound. The woman's gnarled hands were white as she gripped the armrests. A letter sat on her lap, its folds bringing the top and bottom of the embossed paper together. A scent of jasmine caught on the breeze. She breathed deeply. The turmoil of loss swirled deep within her, the news in the letter reminding her just how much of her life had gone as Images of the past flooded her memory.

** * * *

'Ah, Mr and Mrs Gould, how wonderful to see you. Please come in. It will be such a pleasure to help you make your money mature!'

'With help from me, this bank has made our savings work. I would expect nothing less!'

The broad-shouldered, stout man chuckled, his eyes squinting. His wife looked at him under her lashes as she felt the flip-flop of her stomach. She never tired of hearing her husband laugh, even after thirty years of marriage. Together they had raised a Pidgeon pair of kids, now off their hands, they both worked hard to set themselves up, owning their own home and having a good chunk of savings in their bank. Now sitting in the bank Janice's bullshit radar incessantly buzzed in her brain.

Janice answered the phone two days before and passed the call onto her husband, Raymond, who, though retired, still liked to spend time on his stock market trades.

'Raymond, it's our bank, she called before replacing the kitchen receiver as her spouse picked up the office one.'

Ray and the bank chatted for some time. By the time Raymond came into the kitchen, Janice had forgotten all about it as she prepared their weekly dinner for their kids and associated partners.

'Janice, you will not believe this. We are going to be rich!'

Janice put her hands on her hips, sizing her husband up.

'Now, Ray, we are comfortable. We don't need to be wealthy. We want for nothing.'

Ray came into the kitchen, picked up his voluptuous wife, and swung her around.

'The Bank has given their top investment manager to us to help us become rich! He said he has accumulated over one hundred million dollars in investments just this year!'

Janice could not help herself. The enthusiasm from her husband brought a flush to her face as she tried to get him to put her down.

'Why would they do that? Why would a bank help us? We don't make enough money.'

Her husband put her down, puffing from the exertion.

'They are giving us this because we have been with them since we were married! I already asked them all that. He said our substantial savings were a great asset, which we have added to through my trading.

Ray's excitement was catching. By the time the kids left, the whole family was excited.

Two days after Janice and Ray sat in the office of Lewis Ford, Janice reviewed the thirty-something go-getter behind the magnificent mahogany desk. She thought it would make a perfect buffet table and his office could hold the functions if they ever wanted him to work from home. Lewis signalled his secretary, making it hard for Janice not to get caught rolling her eyes at such a motion. His twenty something assistant with a tight waist and tight lip gave off vibes that Janice understood. She placed two high-end coffee's and petite fours. Janice had to slap Ray's leg to stop him from reaching for his fifth one.

The broker's pin striped suit screamed Armani, his cologne, a metrosexual fragrance, intoxicating to any who breathed his surrounding air. His facial hair had a slight shadowing, which Janice could not work out, whether it was just a day's growth or a cleverly managed style he chose.

'Mr and Mrs Gould, I am so happy to have you as part of my clientele. I am very selective about who I choose, you know. With your history with the bank, I am thrilled to say you are an ideal candidate to be part of my team.'

The conversation ebbed and flowed, much of which was outside of Janice's scope of understanding. The business terms used by the broker were as foreign to her as Mongolian throat singing. She did nod where Ray did and smiled when he smiled, but the meeting blurred for her as she stared out the window, watching the city life pass by.

'.. Now, we will put sixty per cent into high risk, you know Ray, that's just like what you do trading yourself, then we.'

Janice snapped back to the present meeting, colour rising in her cheeks. She looked at her husband, who seemed to be enchanted by the wealthy icon sitting in front of her. She shook her head.

'Wait a moment, Mr Ford. I may not be knowledgeable about what you do, but I understand high-risk shares and we will not, I repeat, not be involved with that sort of thing.'

The younger man looked up at Janice. He did not quite mask his irritation fast enough; she knew he must be trying to fix her and Ray up, her friends had warned her about such men. His smile crossed his lips before he spoke.

'Let me reassure you, Janice. There is no risk in high risk. It is how our bank can pay so much back to our shareholders.'

Janice's lips thinned, looking at her husband for support. Ray patted her knee before he replied.

'Don't worry, Janice, this young man knows what he is talking about.'

'No, I'm sorry, Raymond! We have both worked hard. I will not jeopardise the savings investing in high-risk ventures. Remember the Greys? My beautiful friend Maureen did something like this. Then they lost everything. Now Graham has Alzheimer's and Maureen has to live with her daughter. She had to sell their house to pay for his treatment. I won't let that happen to us.

Lewis again smiled at Janice.

'I hear what you are saying, Janice. Thank you. I promise you; You won't have to worry about it. In fact, I will sign an affidavit stating we will not use your money in high-risk investments.'

Lewis's manner was so calming and supportive that Janice felt foolish for her outburst. He wrote her an email at her request stating he would not invest in high risk. Janice's interference soured the young man’s persona, which did not overly impress Ray. Janice though worried about the young man's integrity.

'I trust Lewis. Did you see all his awards in his office? Besides, he works for our bank. Why would they ever risk our money?'

They were sitting at lunch after the meeting. Janice could feel a flush reaching her cheeks.

'I'm sorry, Ray, but we are not young anymore. We need security for the future. We can't afford high losses. He is too confident. I dislike people with a lot of confidence. They are often hiding something.'

'My first impression of Lewis is he is professional and positive with his success. We are lucky to have him.'

She glared at him before he humphed and changed the subject, hunkering down on his enormous pub made hamburger.

    * * * * * *

Tears rolled down her drawn face as the coffin lid slid up, covering the cold remains of her companion of forty five years. Her best friend, confidant and husband were gone. Janice's children helped her to the wake. The stories were beautiful, funny, and heart breaking. Somehow, she went through the motions. Registering the condolences of their friends and family with a nod, not daring to open her mouth in case the emotional king wave inside her unleashed. She knew once that happened, she would not be standing. A bleak emptiness engulfed her. Every step further away from Ray created a darker feeling within her. Its murkiness suffocating. Her only compensation, her children they shared.

'Mrs Gould, I am so sorry for your loss.'

The voice was not someone she immediately recognised. Though the scent set warning bells off in her mind. Looking through her welling eyes, she saw an image of Lewis. he nodded at Janice and shook her son's hand before turning back to her.

'Though this is not the time Mrs Gould, Ray and I often met, you know, he and I developed a great friendship. He taught me so many things. I suspect we need to talk about your investments soon. I will be in touch.'

With that, he left, taking a bottle of wine with him. Janice's eyebrow lifted. 'If you are so clever, why can't you afford your own wine!' she thought as she watched him walk down the front steps, his scent still surrounding her. She shrugged off the thought. After all, if he did not take it, she knew she would probably drink it all alone when the day became a painful memory.

·       * * * * *

'Good morning, Janice. It's good to see you in your garden again. It has been a while.'

David, the postman, wiped droplets of sweat from his brow.

'I suppose it has been some time, David. The weather and my beautiful fragrance inspired me, at last, to venture back. How is your family?'

The two chatted for some moments before David handed Janice the gold embossed envelope.

'This one looks promising. Very upmarket thick paper, hey.'

Janice turned it over in her hands. The name Lewis Ford with his address told her all she needed to know. A knot formed in her stomach. Her first impressions of this man had worried her greatly. Now her husband was dead, and he was sending her a letter.

Sitting on her rocking chair, the scent of jasmine calmed her knot staunchly embedded. Her jaw locked tight as she opened the letter. Anticipation and dread were unsettling her emotions. She had not trusted Lewis with his expensive clothes and confidence, but her Raymond had. She should have been more serious about learning what he did. A soft, manic giggle escaped her lips. It was too late to worry about those things. With trepidation, she tore open the envelope.

Dear Mrs Gould,

The bank is sorry for your loss. To lose such a partner must be very difficult and on behalf of myself and my team, I send you, our commiserations.

With the hard times in the global market, we have seen a decline in most of our client's portfolios. However, because of the diligent work I did with your husband, whose advice I wish I had listened to more, your savings have now increased. As of the 31st of this month, your dividends will exceed five hundred thousand dollars a month. Your family is currently worth two hundred million dollars. If you could make a time to meet, we can look to further diversify your funding into other ventures and perhaps properties. I would recommend more shares which your husband has recommended and will organise an expert tax minimisation to attend to plan for you and your family.

Though this news is not compensation for your loss, I hope it helps lessen the burden of your future.

Yours faithfully

Lewis Ford

·       * * *

Tears of relief and loss fell down her cheeks. Her first impression, fortunately, had been proven wildly wrong.

February 01, 2022 09:09

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Max Millick
16:53 Feb 10, 2022

Good story Tanya, it was nice to read about an investment manager who wasn't a complete slimeball! It was clear that Janice had gotten Lewis wrong. What could have made the story stronger would be if it was more clear that Lewis got Janice wrong as well. Keep up the good work!


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Kathleen Fine
16:10 Feb 10, 2022

Great story and it’s nice to see a happy ending!


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