33) SELF SERVICE
With the good news about Raphael skipping 6th grade and move directly to 7th grade. Sylvia forgot about following up or trying to track down Sammy Lovelace. Raphael dropped his name when she asked who gave him the leather jacket. Her thoughts centered more on dealing with her cheating husband than anything else.
Occasionally the thought of Mark Lawrence the private investigator, or Phil Jordan from the DPW office would rise up into her consciousness. She brushed these feelings away as being part of her physical needs which could be dealt with . She needed to address her emotional needs first.
When she arrived at work, she found a small, slender box on her desk. Apparently the post office made a delivery earlier. Opening the box, she found a single yellow rose with a water-filled test tube on the base. The card enclosed read ‘Thank you for your Patronage - M’. She knew immediately the flower came from MassEye Investigations and had been sent by Mark Lawrence.
Raphael arrived at school early, ready for a new adventure. He was in the 7th grade now. He would go to a new building, meeting new friends and most of all, seeing Eve again. He wanted to get her a ring over the summer because they would be ‘going steady’.
His legal hassles recently had limited time with friends and going downtown. He hadn’t been able to get a suitable bauble for his princess.
Eve mentioned 7th grade would be a lot different than elementary grades. When Raphael went to the registration desk, he received a form to check off the courses he wanted to attend. The form contained space for his name, grade, address and phone number. Beneath the personal information boxes, six columns of required classes presented his choices. He needed to select one course from each column and his schedule would be automatically generated.
He went through each column and ended up with classes in Physical Education, Artistic Expression, English, Geometry, Earth Science and World History. He wished he found out what Eve’s classes would be because he would make sure he got near her. He, unfortunately, hadn’t seen her yet and opted to turn this in before reviewing her schedule.
At lunchtime, he met up with Eve and several other students in the cafeteria. They sat down together and Raphael filled her in his activities over the summer. He also informed her of the fact he skipped a grade and now would attend some of the same classes as her; despite the almost two year’s difference in their ages.
“I missed you, Raphael,” Eve said. “I’m so glad you skipped and can now go to the Junior High building with me.”
“I nmissed nyou too,” he replied. “Do nyou still nwant to ngo steady this year?”
“Oh,” Eve squealed, “I thought you might forget. YES, I WOULD. If you will be my boyfriend though, I want a ring.”
“I’ll nget nyou one nthis week,” he boasted. “I haven’t nfound one as npretty as nyou, but I will.”
Eve blushed at the thought of Raphael giving her a ring and she stood up and hugged him tightly around the neck. During the summer, her once pert little breasts definitely got bigger. She pulled his head between them and Raphael got an instant chub in his pants. Eve kissed him on the cheek and told him she would see him around in class and they would get together.
Raul survived a busy morning in his office and , scheduled a luncheon with his client Mr. Sandez. They met at one of Sandez’s business entities, a little Italian restaurant on West 51st Street in Manhattan. Raul wanted to meet away from the office because his important business needed to be discussed in private.
“Are you happy with the sample products I’ve been providing?” Sandez questioned.
“Quite happy,” Raul assured. “I expect I will be in need more shortly.”
“Our company strives to serve or clients in anything they need.” He bragged.
“I wanted to discuss other business with you,” Raul offered, “some other business for your company.”
“More product?” Sandez inquired.
“Not more product,” Raul countered, “but more services you may offer.”
“Tell me more Raul,” he declared, “you’ve peaked my interest.”
Raul explained the problem with his business partner Fred. He expressed concern his relationship with Marcia would end if Fred exposed the affair to Sylvia, his wife. He claimed a willingness to do anything to avoid a nasty situation.
“Would your law practice be able to survive,” Sandez quizzed, “if something happened to your business partner?”
“Business might be difficult in the beginning,” Raul confessed, “but afterward I would be able to absorb all of his clients and carry on.”
“I don’t like the idea of your firm losing any money,” Mr. Sandez stated. “The cost of my staff correcting something like this would be quite expensive. The only alternative might be if you gave up a share of your business . ”
“How much of a share?” he wondered.
“Oh, let’s say a $100,000 share,” Sandez clarified, “to keep things simple.”
“I’d be working for free!” Raul cried. “One thing in my makeup is I don’t work for free.”
“Suit yourself,” he argued, “you asked the price and I answered.”
Raul grimaced at this response. He assumed the price of a hit man would be expensive, but he didn’t intend to give up a third of his annual salary. Talk about outright extortion. Then again, he suspected Sandez may be in the business of extortion also.
“At least give me an alternative,” Raul moaned, “to solving my little problem.”
“I’ll give you two,” Sandez commanded. “Dump the bitch or do the job yourself.”
Raul sat for a moment and considered both options. He didn’t like either one. Raul might be mercenary, but he wasn’t a killer. He didn’t want to give up his action on the side either. He enjoyed his fun with Marcia because she acted the way his wife used to. As far as Sandez, he turned out not the close connection Raul thought him to be.
Perhaps, he thought, a small legal error in Sandez’s contracts would bring his price down to little more reasonable rate.
“Well,” Raul sighed, “I tried. I guess I must find alternate way to go about this.”
“I like you, Raul,” Sandez acknowledged, “And I always can use a professional outlet for my products. If we could work out a deal where both you and I make money, things may change. I would be happy to negotiate a lower price for the service we discussed.”
“What kind of deal do you propose,” he queried.
“I employ many clients needing large supplies of products,” Sandez told him. “They would like to keep a fair distance from any of my operations because they are not part of my day to day businesses. There would be no suspicion for them to come to a law office and pick up a box of paperwork sometimes. I charge $250,000 to them for each box and I would credit you $10,000 for each order you provide. Take care of 10 transactions and my services are free.”
Raul considered this option and smiled. His law office took up space in a respectable part of town. The building featured a security system, steel plate doors, and bulletproof windows. No one could break in, so the product would be safe.
Only he and Sandez would know of the content in boxes marked ‘product’. He intended to make sure the only key to the supply room remained in his pocket. All transactions would all be done after hours.
He liked the idea.
“I have to say Mr. Sandez,” Raul commented, “now I know why you are so good at your businesses. This is a very workable solution. To be clear, you are saying our business would be funded with only 10 transactions?”
“Our transactions would be over if you wanted them to be over,” he confirmed. “Who knows, you may find you like this business and want to continue. I will warn you though; you better never burn me. Burning me would be a mistake.”
Raul didn’t take the threat of Mr. Sandez lightly. He realized dancing with this devil might be dangerous, but he also surmised the result would be the answer to all his problems. They discussed the details of the deal until both sides came to an accord. And with a handshake, they concluded their luncheon.
Sylvia picked up the phone and dialed the private number Mark gave her. He answered the call personally with the greeting ‘MassEye Investigations, Mark Lawrence speaking’.
“Thank you for the beautiful gift,” Sylvia bubbled. “That’s the first time I’ve received flowers in a long time. Do you do this for all your clients?”
Mark always sent flowers or some other small gift to those women whom he tried to hit on, but he couldn’t admit this to her. He recognized his looks and body commanded attention. The only other ingredient would be someone vulnerable and usually the gift would seal the deal.
“Only the ones who deserve flowers,” he complimented “And Mrs. Hernandez, you deserve them. Plus, I wanted to apologize for being so forward the other day. My actions didn’t show professionalism and I’m sorry.”
“Mark,” Sylvia fretted, “I hope you don’t think I’m ungrateful, but I’m not ready to get involved right now. I need to resolve this whole situation with Raul before I can be free to give myself to another man. I hope you can understand what I’m saying.′
“Of course I do, Sylvia,” Mark agreed, “and I want you to know I will honor your wishes. Please keep in touch with me; even if only as a friend?”
Sylvia wanted to jump through the phone and put a massive lip-lock on the man at the other end. Flowers, kind words and a hulk of a man, all wrapped up on one package. She had those hot fantasies again and forced herself to put a lid on her lurid thoughts.
“Mark, once again, thank you,” she breathed. “Now I must decide what my next step will be.”
“Are you considering divorce?” Mark proposed. “I can recommend a good lawyer.”
“I may need your input,” she continued, “but I want to check someone else first. I’ll call you.”
“Please do Sylvia,” he requested, “and don’t be shy if you need my help.”
They hung up and Mark pondered the conversation. He scowled about Sylvia being resistant to his advances but learned a long time ago how a gentle touch would get him better results. Besides, plenty of other lonely ex-wives still sat in his Rolodex.
Raphael got a big surprise when he walked into his Math class. In the 2nd row sat Eve. He tapped her on the shoulder and smiled as he went to take a seat in the class. When the class broke up, he met her in the hallway to talk.
“Why are nyou in nmy nclass Eve?” he asked. “I nthought nyou nwould be ntaking Calculus this year.”
“I didn’t pass the Geometry final test last year,” she admitted, “and I didn’t go to summer school. So now I’m repeating the whole course. But this year should be easier; I hope.”
“Are we nmeeting for nlunch today?” Raphael reminded.
“No I can’t,” she protested, “because I’m leaving at lunchtime. I’m going to a doctor’s appointment this afternoon. Afterward, we are leaving to go to my Aunt’s funeral in Pennsylvania.”
Raphael was distraught about not meeting her. He shook the feeling off because any delay gave him more time to get a ring for her. Eve told him not to worry because she would be back on Thursday.
She insisted they would eat lunch together and talk more. He gave her a quick hug and a peck and went off to his next class. Eve walked off with a little smile on her face. She cranked Raphael up so much; she believed he would do anything for her.
And her list comprised many things.