Threadneedles Hotel, London. 5:00 P.M., London time.
A large liquid crystal flat screen television set, tuned to CNBC, displayed ghastly images of events in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Both booze and testosterone were flowing, but somewhat tempered by the implications of events unfolding on the screen. Seated at a round glass topped table within a dart toss of the screen were three of Iacardi’s senior traders, all very successful, very relieved to be alive, and intoxicated. Within minutes of the al-Qaeda attacks in the United States the Iacardi Traders‘ Conference had been postponed until further notice. The three had retired to the bar to watch the unfolding catastrophe in comfort.
The czar of the trio was fifty-three year old, Peter Tavaris, Iacardi’s most senior trader and statistically second only to Miles Dennis in terms of career trading profits. A six foot four inch giant, Tavaris had the obligatory stubble and a head of well oiled long black hair, combed straight back and tied in a pony tail. A Wharton graduate, he frequently boasted that fact. Twice divorced, he was now a full time, irrepressible ladies man. If he was honest with himself and others, he would admit he hated women. More than once passed over by Charles Iacardi for senior management positions, he had become angry, cynical. Worse, he had been passed over for the president’s position in favor of Kerri King. He was furious and hated her to the core of his soul. He had an obsessive, vindictive nature. If you screwed Peter Tavaris, you needed to watch your back. Pay back wasn’t good enough for him, he wanted to mess up your life, and wouldn’t quit until he did.
On an adjacent chair was his close friend and lap dog, forty-eight year old Walter Deaks, A.K.A. The Deacon. He was a dead ringer for Harrison Ford. Many even referred to him as Indiana Jones. With a doctorate in mathematics from M.I.T., Deaks had conjured a virtual blizzard of algorithms to facilitate Iacardi’s trading decisions. They looked and sounded sexy, but few of them actually worked. Miles Dennis had surreptitiously gone out of his way to avoid employing any of them. “They’re so elegant they scare the shit out of me,” he had often said. Deaks was reasonably pleasant, but ruthless in his condemnation of stupidity. He thought Tavaris was brilliant, saw him as a messiah, the one who deserved to be Iacardi’s leader.
Accompanying Deaks and Tavaris was thirty-eight year old Billie “The Kid” Dukes, Iacardi’s highest roller. Thick well-groomed sandy brown hair, intoxicating brown eyes, a smile and physique to die for, Billie was damned good looking. He divorced only once, and early. Dubbed as New York’s most eligible bachelor by the Iacardi girls, preserving that title was a walk in the park. He had the hots for Kerri King and made it very obvious. He was ambitious in the extreme, always prepared to compromise to catch a wave, and to leverage his bets to whatever limit possible.
“So what do you guys think?” Dukes asked.
Tavaris slurped his fourth martini, then glared at Dukes. “I think we’re stuck in this country until God knows when, and we’re all out of our fucking jobs. Iacardi & Sons is history.” He pointed to the flat screen. “Our offices, our careers, and our equity are somewhere in that pile of rubble.”
“Maybe they all got out,” Dukes said.
Hoping some form of backup system might provide even a tiny bit of information, Tavaris reached for his Blackberry and dialed the Iacardi New York number for the sixth time in the past two hours. No service. “Nothing! Not a fucking thing! If either of you can figure out how in hell we’re going to find out what’s going on, let me know.” He flashed an evil smirk. “I hope everybody got out except the bitch.”
Tavaris’s last comment annoyed Dukes. “Peter, why the hell do you let Kerri tie your shit in a knot? She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to Iacardi. Take a look at where the company was when she started. Then take a look at where it is now.”
Tavaris took another huge slurp, then again pointed to the flat screen. “I’m taking a look right now. It’s right there in the middle of that pile of steel and cement.”
“Yah, but you can’t blame her for that,” Dukes argued.
“No, but I can blame her for a ton of other things. She’s still a kid, she doesn’t even have a post graduate degree, and she doesn’t know shit about running a company. I’ve spent my whole life in this company, and with a modicum of humility, I think I’ve earned more than I’ve got. A whole lot more. I’ll promise you this: if that broad’s life has been spared, I’m going to make sure she’ll wish it wasn’t.”