“This is my worst nightmare!” glued to his computer screen on the desk Malik continued, “I feel like throwing up man!” He placed his arms over his braided hair, breathing heavily.
“Relax dude.” Leaping over from the next cubicle Rob responded. “Go take a walk. It’s not over till the fat lady sings.” He peaked at the clock mounted on the wall. It was power hour. The bell would strike soon to close out the trading session for the day. “How deep in the south are you?”
“Half a mill.”
“Christ all mighty!” Rob was in disbelief.
“No shit!” Malik sighed. “No one is biting. If I don’t sell all of my shares, I am screwed.”
“Let’s make some phone calls tomorrow. I will help you sell your shit.” Rob continued. “Maybe I will get the word out to my clients, hype them up a little. I got your back.”
Malik envied his confidence. No matter how stressful the days were, Rob seemed to keep his cool all the time. Why wouldn’t he? He had only been trading since the dinosaurs roared. Malik however was new to the trading business. He had joined this investment group right after graduating from the University of Connecticut. It had only been a few months, but Malik felt that he had a good grasp on the lay of the land. Up until last month he made his moves very carefully. Now that he had a little more confidence in him, he wanted even more. He watched the clock. It was after four. When you have lost a half million dollars, you know that you’ve done something wrong. Only upside to this downhill slope was that the money wasn’t his. It belonged to the firm; belonged to the investors who believed in them.
Malik sighed; watched the boss through the glass windows in the corner office. One day, he thought to himself, I will be as good as this man. His boss, the founder of Patterson Investment Group, appeared younger than his age, tall, slim, always dressed nice and never smiled. The man was a workaholic. I don’t know why his wife was still with him, Malik thought to himself. He would come into the office at the crack of dawn and would always be the last man to leave. Malik had seen him in action before. Watched him make millions of dollars in a matter of days, and lose them all the next. It is a messed up business. If you don’t have the right nerves or tolerance for the rollercoaster, you could end up in a hospital with heart palpitation.
Mr. Patterson started a new tradition after striking gold on his last deal. Whoever made the most for the week treated the rest. Nine out of ten times Rob happened to be the one buying shots for everyone. When Patterson took them out to celebrate last month, it was a night to remember. He must have spent tens of thousands of dollars on booze and cocaine, pills and hookers. Malik had the privilege to join the gang and immediately decided that it was the lifestyle for him. Ever since that night, he had made every effort to be on top, be in the center of attention, and be recognized.
“Go home. Get a goodnight sleep. We will see how it is tomorrow.” Rob tried calming him down. “No need to have a heart attack just yet.”
After gathering the loose paperwork from his desk Rob approached the corner office. The writing on the wall reads “Joshua Patterson. Founder and CEO.” Rob entered. The office was quite large with wall-to-wall glass windows overlooking the city. The large mahogany desk in the corner of the room shined in the gentle touch of the murky sun. On the desk was a computer screen, a letter tray and a picture frame. Josh was sitting behind the desk, staring at the computer screen, mumbling to himself in deep concentration. He paused from taking notes, looked up and got right to the point, “How did we do today?”
“Not bad. Got to help out the kid. He has potential. A little gutsy at times.” Rob responded.
“What’s his number?” Josh asked.
“Up 10% for the week. He is doing better than Slimy Joe.” Rob smirked, pointing at the desk near the hallway.
“Good.” Josh liked the numbers. He paused, “I am going all out on our bottom five holdings from all sectors,” took a deep breath, “I am shorting them all.”
“Wow. That’s a big move!” Rob wasn’t surprised, “Are you sure you don’t want to try with one or two sectors first? Energy and Health Care maybe. That’s ten for you.”
“Nah. It will take too long.” Josh knew what he was doing. He handed Rob a piece of paper and continued, “Take a look at the list. Let’s buy the ‘puts’ now for three months… they are all going down!”
“Hope you are right. If not…” Rob was concerned, “we will lose everything.”
“Come on, live a little. Gamble hard. You only live once.” Josh sounded cocky. He then changed the subject, “coming over tonight? Wife is cooking.”
“Are you serious? Isn’t she due any minute?” Rob smiled and said jokingly, “Why does she bother with feeding your ass, I will never know.”
“Shut up.” Flicking a rubber band to his direction Josh laughed. “Bring Trish over. I have an eighteen-year-old Macallan waiting for us.
“As much as we would love to, we have plans.” Rob responded, “Her mother’s birthday. Gotta go see the in-laws.” He changed his tone. Continued in a serious voice, “Look buddy, don’t take this the wrong way, but I am worried about you.”
“What’s there to worry about?” Josh knew where he was going with it.
“Take it easy with that boozing nonsense. You are going to be a father soon.” Rob glimpsed at the picture frame, “Last Friday scared me a little.”
“That was nothing brother” Josh said in a reassuring voice, “we all were having fun!”
“We were having fun, but you were out there man.” Rob showed concerns. “I had never seen you so coked up before until that night.”
“At least I am not an addict.” Josh smiled in a defending voice.
“Keep saying that to yourself.” Rob stood up. “I just don’t want to see you lose everything you’ve earned. You have come a long way.”
“Thanks dad!” Josh tried assuring the man that he knew what he was doing. Rob had been a big brother to him since the beginning. He was a good man. Too old to have night outs with the boys every week, but he didn’t let Josh down when time came.
Josh did not have money growing up. He enrolled at the UCONN School of Business right after high school and majored in Business Management. He met the love of his life on the first day of school and had been together with her ever since. His wife Meghan Miller, now Meghan Patterson, came from a well-known and well respected family. Her father was an industrial architect and mother was a college professor. When Meghan first introduced Josh to her parents, the meet-and-greet did not go so well. Josh did not come from a family that could rub shoulder to shoulder with the Millers. He didn’t have the charms or the prestige required to woo a family like theirs. But Meghan was sincere. Her eyes twinkled every time she spoke to them about Josh. Over time, they both were susceptible to the fact that their daughter was madly in love and that this young man wasn’t going anywhere. Last year in 2009, Josh was named top five wealthiest men in Connecticut. After marrying his college sweetheart Josh bought a mansion with his first million dollar profit.
When he first learned that Meghan was pregnant with his son, Josh was ecstatic. He had a sit-down conversation with the in-laws and assured them that he was grateful. He was grateful for everything they had done for them and that he was grateful for having Meghan in his life. He was grateful for the Millers to accept him as a son and was grateful for letting them share the journey with him. He had made promises to the Millers that he loved Meghan as much as she loved him and that together they will have a wonderful happy Patterson family.
In recent weeks Josh found himself being more agitated as the due date neared. Up until last month the whole pregnancy thing was going well. The complication arouse in her third trimester. Meghan was on bed rest for days. She could not eat a full meal without up-chucking; couldn’t sleep longer than a few hours without waking up in pain. She had lost enough weight for there to be health concerns for both her and her unborn child. But she was strong. She would hide her pain around Josh and would display only the good that came from being pregnant. She wanted this child more than anything else and wanted to make her husband happy. As much as she would love to see Josh be okay with living a simple life with her, she knew that his ambitions were slightly different. She grew up in a wealthy family. Everything she ever wanted was always there for her. Josh had to earn his place. He worked twice as hard to be where he was today and finally made a name for himself. Her fear was that what he had earned may not be enough to keep him grounded.
When time came to give birth to their wonderful baby boy, Meghan however, noticed changes in his behavior. Josh appeared more and more worrisome now than he had ever been. The wrinkles on his forehead were the dead give-way to most of his unsettling behavior. Meghan knew the business was not going well, but did not know to what extent. She did not care too much about the stock markets or the investments; but she had supported every decision Josh made for his company. When asked how things were with the firm, Josh always seemed to brush off the subject and talk about the baby. Talking about the baby seemed to help remove the wavy lines on his forehead, made him appreciate the things Meghan had done for him, and made her see the man she fell in love with in the first place.
The day their precious little bundle of joy arrived, Josh was on the verge of losing his first baby that he had built. His company, the Patterson Investment Group, felt the first strike from what he thought was a good investment strategy and turned ugly. Most companies he had hedged against in the stock market recently, saw a significant up-tick. By the time the put calls in all sectors expired, Josh had lost 1.5 billion dollars. To cover his calls and avoid lawsuits, he had closed the remainder of his shares in the market. After losing significant money with the Patterson Group, the investors pulled back and left him with an empty bank account.
To make matters worse, at the hospital during the birth of their child, the doctor did not allow him in the delivery room. Sitting in the waiting room of the third floor with the Millers, Josh began to feel a tingly feeling in his spine that could only implicate bad omen. He felt the earth disappear from beneath him as he waited for news-- any news, to put him at ease. Suddenly he was okay with losing the company he had built, if it meant to have Meghan in his arms once again. He could forget all of the gloomy days from dealing a bad hand; forget the chase he had given to make names for himself, if only he knew that Meghan and the baby were alright.
Hours had gone by in the waiting room. The last update from ICU came fifteen minutes ago. The baby was in the Neonatal Internal Care Unit and was placed in an incubator. Josh made several attempts to go see Meghan inside but was denied every time. He watched the Millers huddled together in the corner of the room and whimpered. Two more nurses rushed towards them from the far end of the floor. As they entered the ICU, Josh heard something that he never thought would hear in a million years. A long drawn out sound of flat line escaped through the open door like poisonous arrows and pierced through his heart as he stood there in disbelief.