The grandest night of them all. The night everyone wanted to attend. The glamour of the Grand Palace encapsulated the surrounding land as people queued for miles to get into the biggest event of the year. Don’t mistake this for one of those teenage ‘smash your head against a beer can’ party; it was one which provided opportunity and growth. It was for the classiest of the class and it was a gathering of the elite, the people who knew how to get rich and stay rich. They all came together once a year to celebrate their successes and show off who outdid who. If you found yourself inside the Grand Palace, you weren’t far short of the perfect life.
The sun blazed down as it was about mid-June. Not a cloud perforated the sky. The enormity of the structure could be seen for miles. It stood so imperiously on top of the hill. It was like a lighthouse, guiding in the rich people far and wide. A beacon of wealth.
Entering the Grand Palace left you nothing short of awestruck. The captivating hall was packed with businessmen. There must have been room for at least five hundred people in the hall itself. They all mingled together swapping stories of what deal they made today or how much money they spent. The grandeur of the occasion was impossible to miss. The opportunity the occasion provided was enormous. The queues that stretched down Lavender Grove Hill signified the importance the night had. Upon entering you’d be greeted with a drink, champagne of course. Nothing else would suffice for such a place. The girls with their rather short skirts and flesh bearing tops would offer drinks all night long, bringing them round on pristine salvers, accompanied with the finest glassware one could imagine. Nothing in the Grand Palace was short of breath taking, from the fine art that graced the walls, to the superior glassy swimming pool outside. Your whole field of vision would be bombarded with wealth. But nothing stood as tall or imposing as the majestic staircase in the centre of the hall. It was made from perfect glass and marble that one could only dream of owning.
The immense doors at the top of the staircase glided open and out appeared the man we all wanted to be, Mr Walsh. Alongside him stood two of his girls. He probably didn’t even know their names, which they were quite happy with, just being able to share personal time with Mr Walsh was good enough. Enough to make your year worth remembering. To the sides of Mr Walsh stood Digby Morris and Charlie Dacre. His two must trusted allies. They made millions together and were rarely seen apart.
Mr Walsh’s imposing face dominated the room. His chiselled jaw and protruding cheek bones were hard to miss. Everything about him was in order. From top to bottom not a thing out of place. His brazen white suit made its impact as everyone’s eyes were fixated upon it. His blue eyes pierced a hole through anyone willing to look back at them. It was as if he were drawn with a fine pencil. Alongside him, Digby Morris’ fierce stare scared many away from approaching Mr Walsh unnecessarily. His stubbly face and thick eyebrows coupled with his straight-faced expressions made him unapproachable to most. On the other side of Mr Walsh was Charlie Dacre, a smile always plastered across his face when girls and some good champagne were around. His blond slicked back hair and well-groomed face stood out from the ordinary crowd. He looked incredibly pleased with himself when he approached the top of the staircase. These three were the celebrity businessmen, they didn’t just make money, they made it look good as well. If the dollar bill ever got a makeover, their faces would probably be on it. That’s the impact they had. They were like a three headed money snake; their forked tongues would attach to anything of value. Spearheaded always by the strong presence that was Mr Walsh.
The party went silent as they admired the man who made his entrance. “Carry on people, don’t mind me”, Mr Walsh bellowed from the top of the staircase. People always seemed to silence themselves when they were in his presence. He didn’t mind it at all. He actually loved it. He felt it gave testament to his great authority.
His command was met, and the party was promptly back in full swing. The jazz band were back in rhythmic flow and the champagne bottles were being emptied steadily. He made his way down the staircase with such elegance in his brand-new black leather shoes and immaculate suit. Every footstep had the chime of money. He ran his fingers through his dark brown hair to check all was in order. Mr Walsh was the tallest of the three, in height and in stature. He stood most likely above six foot two and had hands like baseball mitts. Digby and Charlie followed behind slightly smaller, Digby filling out his suit in comparison to the slight figure Charlie possessed. Once he reached the bottom, he dismissed the ladies and they swiftly left, in a hurry one might add. He looked around and saw all the people that had gathered to speak to him and duly felt a sense of pride in what he created. The Butler handed him a drink. He was the only male servant Mr Walsh had, he entrusted him with the running of the house. Mr Walsh accepted with a smile. He didn’t drink too heavily though, unlike Digby and Charlie.
He made his way through the excitable and expectant crowd towards the garden area. He was barraged with queries about his investment plans and what his advice was on how people could get rich like him. That’s all people wanted, to be like this great man. Mr Walsh ignored the chorus of questions, mainly because there were too many and he didn’t know who asked what. Digby’s presence beside him meant people didn’t ask twice. He went outside and the sun beat down on his face at what felt like fifty degrees. It was only just before seven and the heat was still relentless. He stood, champagne in hand, took a deep breath, and stared into the distant fields where he and his men enjoyed a hunting session now and again. He raised his glass in acknowledgment of a few people who attended, mainly, Commissioner Terrence, who was perched on the brick wall surrounding the pool area.
After the sun became a bit too much for him, in his suit of course, he made his way to the large television that dominated the hall just by the patio doors. The horse racing was on and everyone had gathered round to see it. It was common knowledge Mr Walsh and his men loved to place their money on the evening races. They made most of their money gambling. Making money from the comfort of your sofa, who wouldn’t want that? It was the 7pm at Dobervile and it was evident that there was a lot of money riding on number five, Benjamin’s Dream. Mr Walsh, Digby and Charlie all gathered round to watch the horse run. There were huge amounts of cheering and everyone was engaged in the event.
“Come on you bastard!” exclaimed Charlie.
He was much more excitable than the rest, although it wasn’t hard as Mr Walsh rarely showed any emotion and Digby was far too intense to jump up and down screaming. As per usual, the horse placed first. Mr Walsh’s fist tensed momentarily until it was interrupted by Charlie jumping on his back with sheer joy.
“Another rack in the bank there boys!”.
Mr Walsh brushed Charlie aside, he didn’t want any champagne spilled on him. He grabbed Charlie’s head and placed it against his and told him to calm down. He said it gently though, not wanting to cause a scene. Mr Walsh always had to do this to Charlie, to give him a little reminder who they were keeping company with. Mr Walsh wasn’t angry, he just wanted to Charlie to be mindful.
It was true, these men made a lot of money from gambling, especially on horses. People began to wonder whether they were more than just gamblers. Maybe they had a few friends down in the stables. Their ability to constantly win in the horse racing stakes as well as their hand in blackjack and roulette made you wonder. There were plenty more races that followed but no more interested Mr Walsh and his men. They had made what they needed that night. They planned on enjoying themselves.
“Ah, another win for you then Mr Walsh”, Commissioner Terrence said with what seemed a sense of no surprise.
He said this as he came around from behind a couple of well-dressed girls, glancing at them as he passed. He was by far the oldest at this event. They were quite close Mr Walsh and Commissioner Terrence. They’d often be seen together at any big horse event where Mr Walsh’s finances were invested. Commissioner Terrence was responsible for the County Park Racetrack which the men would be visiting the following day.
The party carried on in full swing, people occupied all areas of the house, more so in the area Mr Walsh happened to find himself in. The jazz band serenaded the whole evening giving the whole place the scent of class and decorum it deserved. Nothing was out of place all night. Mr Walsh sat outside by the fire on the cushioned wicker seats that lay all around the fire pit. Digby and Charlie were chatting away to whichever girl came close enough for them to smell, like predator and prey. They would court the girls one by one into the circle, get them close enough they could feel the wealth dripping off them, enticing them to want more. Every event Digby and Charlie attended was less of a party and more of a game. Who’d get the nicest looking girl first.
Mr Walsh didn’t often partake in such debauchery that followed the other two around. Don’t be fooled though, he didn’t mind a lady or two after hours, but he certainly wasn’t one to be seen as desperate. His appearance meant the world to him. A missed hair shaving would most likely cause an event to be cancelled. Or at the very least, the mirrors in his bedroom would be replaced. This wasn’t because of some deep sense of insecurity, but Mr Walsh prided himself on everything being in place. Nothing could be out of the ordinary. He relied heavily on perfection.
Instead, he liked to talk business with his fellows and enjoyed the challenge of striking the next big deal. The Grand Palace was littered with people desperate for the chance to speak to him.
“Hello sir, any news update on the Long Green Meeting tomorrow”.
“No none as of yet sir, we are finalising a few details later on tonight and when we make our way to the Hotel el Oro, we will reveal them to the committee then”, replied Mr Walsh.
This was concerning the financial meeting happening at the Hotel el Oro which was about 80 miles to the east of the Grand Palace. The Grand Palace sat on top of Lavender Grove Hill along with a few other smaller buildings which Mr Walsh owned but often let other people stay in for free, provided they helped him whenever he asked. Mr Walsh attended the hotel every year for the Horse Racing World Series and would attend the meeting to forecast his investment plans and any other relevant news for the forthcoming year. He would outline to everyone where he’d plan on making his income and how he’d invest it. Mr Walsh directed a company called Walsh Incorporated. His shareholders would benefit a great deal if his company was ahead of the game, which it usually was. He had had this company for many years now and ran it with close associates, Digby and Charlie. There wasn’t much auditing or fraud prevention around so they could get away with the shadier side of things if they so pleased.
Dancers inhabited the a slightly raised surface by the pool and entertained people all night. Most of them were contortionists so people’s mouths would gape at their elasticity. After a few more hours of the party, people made their way to the exit so Mr Walsh, Digby and Charlie could make sure they were ready for tomorrow’s event. They retired to their bedrooms after the private meeting where all house staff were told to stand well back of.
“Wait, wait. What did they talk about?” Marty exclaimed eager to know more.
“I couldn’t possibly say, what happened in those private financial meetings was bound with trust”.
Marty signalled to the barman for two more drinks, Billy was in desperate need for his mouth was dry from all the talking he’d been doing.
“So, you’re never allowed to speak of what happened in them?”
“No, any meeting that took place in the conference room between Mr Walsh, Digby and Charlie was a sworn secret. Even now, he hadn’t seen them for years and he still wouldn’t say.”
“Why do you reckon that is?”
“I reckon he felt he couldn’t betray them, like a smouldering fire he just couldn’t put out”
Marty had a stunned look on his face that displayed his interest in the situation. He asked what happened next and Billy replied saying, “the trip to the hotel, that’s what happened next”.