“Ready boys!”, shouted Charlie from the bottom of the stairs directed towards Mr Walsh and Digby.
“Patience Charlie, we are coming down” Mr Walsh replied calmly.
Digby didn’t reply, he just shot a fierce look towards Charlie to tell him ‘shut up I’m coming’. Charlie was always like coiled spring ready to burst when it came to pretty much anything. He was an excitable fellow, he always enjoyed himself no matter what. He was a hell of a hard worker too. Much younger than both Mr Walsh and Digby; he certainly had an immature bubble around him. Charlie was eager as anything to get there and start the occasion with more champagne and more women. He was as keen as they came when a good time was involved. He didn’t like partaking in the official business meetings as he found them a bit boring and didn’t have as many girls in them as he’d like. He only did it so he could be stinking rich. Mr Walsh knew Charlie had a good business mind, he just had to use it.
They were all prepared for the one-night stay at the Hotel el Oro which was about two hours away by car. It was a trip they’d had planned for a while and was mainly for the Long Green Conference as well as it was a continuation of their home life. Drink, girls and gambling. They were also there to see the annual Horse Racing World Series which usually provided them with a lot of money. No surprise.
They made their way down Lavender Grove Hill and turned left as they reached the bottom of it. They turned eastwards with Digby driving and Mr Walsh sitting in the back with Charlie riding in the front. The journey didn’t take too long as there was quite a bit of anticipation in the air for the forthcoming weekend. The chatter mainly focused on Charlie who couldn’t stop talking about all the fun they were going to have. If he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt his head would have probably bounced through the roof. He was uncontrollably giddy; Digby was glad he was driving do he could concentrate on the road ahead instead. Mr Walsh didn’t mind Charlie’s zest for life. He knew he’d be a big name in the future. For now, he preferred if he stayed away from the bigger business matters.
They pulled up to the hotel on the gravel laced drive and stepped out of the car. Charlie shot out like a bullet and entered the hotel immediately. Mr Walsh stepped out of the car and took his sunglasses off to admire the beauty that stood before him. He tapped his sunglasses on the index finger of his left hand as he stared the hotel. He waited for Digby to get out of the car and they entered together. They walked to the entrance with the warm summer sun on their backs. As soon as they went through the automatic doors, Mr Walsh was stopped by Race Commissioner Terrence who wanted a word with him.
“Carry on boys, I’ll just have a chat with ol’ Terrence here one moment”.
Digby and Charlie nodded and carried on their way upstairs to their rooms for the weekend.
“Right this way Mr Walsh”, the Commissioner said in a profoundly serious tone.
They made their way through the hotel and out to where the racetrack was. The familiar sound of heeled shoes hitting the hard floor followed them until they made their way outside. They followed the track around until they reached a small building just to the east of it. They entered the building and Commissioner Terrence offered Mr Walsh a seat and he accepted. The room was decorated with plaques of all the winning horses since the year 2000 and was complemented by an array of signed photos of Commissioner Terrence with the winning jockeys. As he sat down, he glanced at the photo Commissioner Terrence had with Mr Walsh and some other high rolling officials.
“No photos of the family then Terrence”, Mr Walsh said although he already knew the answer.
“Not in the office Mr Walsh, strictly business flows through these walls”. For a 60-year-old man you sure think he’d have mellowed out by now, but it was all still business for him. After a brief pause for the gentlemen to get accustomed, the conversation resumed.
“I assume you know why you’re here” Terrence said sternly.
Mr Walsh sat up in his chair and said confidently with a wry smile on his face, “to make money of course”.
The two laughed as Terrence started pouring a drink.
In his hoarse old voice, clearly one that had its fair share of cigarettes over the years, said, “number twenty-one will be winning today sir”.
The way the two interacted with each other signified the regularity of their encounters. Commissioner Terrence wasn’t one for playing by the rules and as the Race Commissioner it certainly meant good news for Walsh Inc. The meeting didn’t take long at all as the details of the meeting didn’t need to go any further once the business had been discussed. Commissioner Terrence liked to speak about business in his office rather than outside because he felt it courteous to offer a seat and drink when discussing matters like this. He also wanted to make sure the other person saw what they were dealing with. After their brief encounter, Mr Walsh tied his blazer button back up and shook Commissioner Terrence’s hand.
The door was opened for Mr Walsh and he made his way back around the racetrack, admiring the care and attention taken to every blade of grass and every lick of paint. He soon walked up the vast amount of stone steps back into the hotel to meet with Digby and Charlie to discuss what the agenda was for that night’s entertainment. Nothing was really planned so they were free to do what they pleased. The meeting wasn’t until tomorrow so they knew they could enjoy themselves tonight. He approached Charlie’s door and could hear him and Digby inside talking. He gave an assertive knock on the door and Digby opened it. Digby greeted Mr Walsh back and he noticed that Charlie was already enjoying himself a lot, feasting on the what seemed like an unlimited amount of champagne on offer.
“Did he tell you the result then”, asked Digby expectantly.
Mr Walsh answered with that smile as to say, ‘we’re on’. Charlie’s ability to listen had been flushed out of him by the champagne. Now it was all set up for tomorrow, they went downstairs to the garden where people had already started gathering ahead of the night’s soiree. They made their way down the elevator eight floors until they reached the lobby. The click of their thousand-pound shoes accompanied them on their way to the garden party. The expansive outside opened just short of the racetrack and was full of people talking and drinking away. Charlie didn’t fancy much of a walkaround and went straight to the bar area where jets of fire burst up to signal the superiority of the event. Whilst Charlie was buying drinks like the sun wouldn’t come up tomorrow, Mr Walsh and Digby made their way to a roped off area adjacent to where he had met Commissioner Terrence earlier. This was the exclusive club. There’s the rich, then there’s the powerful. This is where the real influencers sat and dealt.
“Come on keep going”, said Marty in an excited tone.
“Sorry, Mr Walsh never mentioned what they talked about at that table that night. Well he might have done but I can’t remember”. He glanced at the papers knowing the ink had most likely run on the page where he may have written it down. He was also too drunk to bother looking properly.
Clearly disappointed, Marty took a big gulp of his drink that had been stagnating while Billy was talking.
“He did tell me what they spoke about at the Long Green Conference the day after though”.
Marty’s ears would have stood up on their hind legs if they could.
The sunlight burst through a gap in the curtain and landed on Charlie’s face like an unwelcome guest. Last night’s get together was still coursing through his bloodstream. Just down the hall Mr Walsh had already been awake for a couple of hours preparing for the Long Green Conference and the Horse Racing World Series to sign off the weekend. He ran through his mind what to say to his shareholders and fellow investors. He knew he needed their continued support to carry on his successful business portfolio. Digby entered the room without a knock and startled Mr Walsh.
“Bloody hell Digby you scared me”.
“Sorry, sir. Not nervous, are you?” Digby asked cautiously.
Mr Walsh scoffed at such a claim and merely added you must always be prepared to please people who have trusted you with their money. Digby nodded and they made their way down to the conference room. Digby’s face rarely showed any emotion. Charlie did not make the conference as it was a lot better for all involved if he nursed his hangover away from the people they were trying to impress. The elevator chimed to signal their arrival in the lobby of the hotel. They made their way to the large domineering conference hall that occupied almost one half of the hotel. The door was opened by two well-dressed men and the attention of all inside focused on Mr Walsh and Digby.
“Hello all”, Mr Walsh said with an air of undoubted confidence.
“I’m sure you’re all very excited to see how the next few weeks intend to play out”.
“How do they?”, exclaimed someone from further back in the room.
“Well, gentlemen”, he said rubbing his hands together as if he’d hatched an evil plan. “First of all, we plan to up the rent collection from 80% to 90% in the next few weeks. We also aim to heavily invest in a few up and coming companies further north of here. We plan for them to be greatly beneficial to our projects.”
A lot of heads nodded, and a few claps emerged from the back of the room.
“How do we know the locals will accept your rent collection increase?”, another person asked quizzically.
“Well, I’m the one who talked them into making this deal in the first place, I am sure they will be very understanding of what we can offer with an added 10% and, well, if they don’t, then our good man Digby will have his say.”
He said the last bit of his speech giving a gentle tap on Digby’s back. The room seemed very content with the outlines of Mr Walsh’s plan and readily accepted them, their trust in him never wavered. Mr Walsh was an impenetrable force when it came to business. The man knew a good buck from a bad one just by looking into a man’s eye for five seconds. That’s how he built the Grand Palace.
“So, you’re telling me all he had to do was give a little speech and everyone lauded his work?” Marty asked with great wonder.
“Well, yeah, the man’s past spoke for itself, how could you argue? All he needed was to provide a little reassurance once in a while and he was all golden”, Billy said with an assured tone. “You don’t become as rich as him without being good at what you do. The people knew that. All they wanted was reassurance from time to time.”
“Keep going, what else did he say?”, Marty asked like an over excited child.
“Not much, all those meeting were the same apparently and he could never remember what was said at which.”
Marty let out a sigh, he wanted to know more details about the financial meetings. Billy couldn’t remember any more about them. He was unsure if Mr Walsh had even told him.
The meeting didn’t last overly long and after a few more questions and queries they left to go outside and get ready for the horse race. Charlie had already placed their bets last night and it wasn’t far short of some people’s life-time earnings. They assumed their position in the stands and sat down. Charlie joined them worse for wear. He didn’t ask about the meeting because he knew it would have all gone fine. He had his sunglasses on to hide his tired eyes. Charlie’s head pounded still but it didn’t stop him from standing up, gripping the railing with great angst. Mr Walsh and Digby didn’t stir when the races were going on. They sat back with their legs crossed over each other, cigar in mouth and sunglasses on.
They didn’t bother placing any money on the 16.25 or 17.05 as they offered pocket change in rewards. The 18.00 was the main event. The sun moved behind a tree and the breeze welcomed a respite from the sun’s ray. The gun fired and the horses left their starting positions. More than one gate jammed and immediately eliminated some of the competition. Number twenty-one soon shot out into the lead and never looked back. The mighty stallion raced around the track as majestically as ever. Never once did it’s dominating position seem challenged by the other horses. Charlie cheered the whole way it went around knowing the financial gain it was bringing. He was none the wiser to Mr Walsh’s real dealing with Commissioner Terrence. Mr Walsh didn’t want Charlie to become corrupted, he was young and still had a lot to learn.
Last night didn’t stop him when it came to drinking, he was waving around empty champagne flutes as the horse bolted its way around the course. Mr Walsh and Digby didn’t show much emotion, but it was hard to doubt the pleasing nature the win had on them. That brought a conclusion to the racing for the weekend which once again saw Mr Walsh and his men leave with their money up. They stood to exit the stand, doing the button on their blazers up and pulling down their cuffed sleeves to reassume their class. They made their way back to their rooms and started gathering the bits and pieces they had brought. Mr Walsh finished packing and sat on the edge of his bed, he let out a deep sigh and looked up to the ceiling. It was almost as if an air of relief filled the room. It was evident that he was thankful the weekend was over, and he could go home and get ready for tomorrow’s rent collection from the Submissives.
He exited the room and met up with Digby and Charlie in the hallway and they made their way to the elevator. The elevator descended to the lobby, not quick enough for Charlie’s sake as the motion sent his head in all directions. They reached the lobby again and made a move for the entrance. Their car was ready out front, and Digby decided to drive as Charlie posed a rather significant hazard. The car pulled away and made its way back west towards Hampton Borough.
“I wouldn’t mind being friends with Commissioner Terrence by the sounds of it”, Marty said in an excited tone. He swigged back another nasty cheap beer as he said it.
“I bet; the man made everyone around him stinking rich at the sound of a gun”, Billy said solemnly flicking through the pages in his hand. Trying to see if much of it was salvageable. By now Billy was just speaking from his memory of what he’d written.
“Nasty man though. The man saw his family like once a month. Don’t get me wrong, apparently, he loved his wife and kids, but they bored him. They didn’t give him the thrill the horses or business gave him. These parties that Mr Walsh would throw, he would be the first one there.”
“How did she put up with that though?”
“Money. He paid her to shut her moaning and then she would leave him at peace to do what he wanted”.
Billy’s throat ran dry again and the two ordered in more drinks as Marty asked, “what’s rent collection and who are the Submissives?”