Chapter 3

Chapter 3

A Chapter by James


The letter was hidden amongst the back log of mail that had accumulated while Peter was away from his one bedroom condo. Matter of fact, it would have most likely been thrown in the trash, unopened, if he hadn’t noticed the address on the envelope.

Following the meeting, he had slipped away from the office. Peter decided to work out of his home for the remainder of the day, in hopes that he would get the chance to go after the new business, quickly. Being at home would give him the opportunity to salvage some down time, repack and to filter through his correspondence.

For an uptown condominium, style was key. He never failed to recognize this. Peter maintained a very well kept bachelor pad and always made sure that the maid would clean at least once a week, if he was there or not. He tucked himself into a comfort zone that allowed him the absolute security of solitude. A balcony spanned the view of a city park that was bordered by a thicket of young deciduous, only adding to the beauty of his abode.

The common room was spread with large windows bathing it in natural light. From the middle window facing west, the view of the park was picturesque.

A large, multicolored rug covered the hardwood floors, drawing the walls together. Dark, leather furniture was situated around the room, centered by a coffee table. A current copy of the news paper was spread across the arm chair and partly falling to the rug. The remains of it lay on the table. Pictures of scenic places covered the walls interrupted by windows and shelves with collected gifts from clients.

Peter always kept the TV on, letting it narrate the news from both international and domestic fronts. At that moment a reporter with a British accent could be heard echoing through the house. This was Peter’s company, the only company he wanted.

Cutting off from the common room, a hallway led to his bedroom and his study. Peter kept a simplicity about the home with an essence of a working professional. He had decorated it himself and was proud of the accomplishment.

Peter walked into his kitchen bare foot, wearing cargo shorts and a Bahama Momma t-shirt, a corny gift from a client on one of his trips to the islands. He pulled open the refrigerator door in hopes of finding a bite to eat.

The naked shelves were a sign of his absence most of the time. What always stayed true though was at least 2 bottles of thick, pale ale, chilled and waiting for his enjoyment. Peter smiled with satisfaction and pulled one of the bottles from the shelf, popping it open and letting the metal cap ‘clang’ on the marble counter top. The alcohol would be enough for his stomach. He decided

against making a sandwich.

The ice cold beer made his mouth water as it teased his tongue. He continued to guzzle the bottle until it was almost half way into his system and warming his extremities.

Peter started to rummage through the pile of envelopes scattered on the counter in his kitchen. Most were junk, credit card applications, magazines, more junk. He lazily tossed the random requests to the side, coming across one that stopped him.

The plain white envelope was addressed to him. It looked formal from the return address. It said it was from a lawyer in Montana named Jason Miller; it was sent from a town named Kalispell. Peter curiously tore open the envelope and pulled out a single sheet of white letter head, again addressed to him. The message was short but was eerily unnerving and strange.






He looked up from the brief letter and tried to think back in his mind. He had never heard of a Carl Simpson before in his life nor had he ever stepped foot inside of Montana. The letter must have been a mistake, wrong name or address possibly.

Peter shook his head as he held the letter in front of his face, leaning back against the counter. He took another swig from the long neck, almost completely draining the remainder of the cold beer inside. He set the bottle down and walked through his living room and into his study. A large picture

window bathed the office in an array of shadows and light. The rain clouds had burnt away, leaving quiet drips of water to fall from the leaves outside.

His desk was positioned against a side wall facing toward the window that looked out across the park. The forest was a quaint presence that was peaceful in the summer months when he was home more. Peering out the window while he indulged in his work was one of the reasons he had chosen that particular condo. His desk at home wasn’t any cleaner than the one he had back in his

office though. Its cherry table top was almost invisible under scatters of paperwork.

A bookcase with random novels and business references that he never touched, sat near a wall at the back corner. On the second shelf between two volumes of an outdated Encyclopedia was a framed photograph, black and white and dingy from many years of neglect. The photo was a picture of a man and a woman lovingly embracing each other as they stood in front of a small home in what appeared to be a suburban neighborhood. Even with the lack of color, you could still imagine the crisp, green lawn that was tended to every Sunday, staging 4th of July BBQ’s and birthday parties.

The house that bordered the grass represented the accomplishments and hard work of the young couple happily standing before it. They were working class people that had created their own American dream. All of that was shown just by the little photograph hiding between the books he never looked at. From where it sat, it almost created a symbolic presence, fore he never wanted to touch upon it, physically or emotionally.

It was the only picture that Peter kept of his parents. It was dated before he was born, before his father was medically discharged from the Army, when poverty was a word that never passed their lips. When he knew they were at their happiest.

Peter pulled out his desk chair and relaxed into its seat back. He looked out the window and watched as a small squirrel darted across the park and leaped onto a tree, disappearing into the branches. The letter was still in his hand. He looked down at it again and then placed it on his desk, the folds of the paper positioning themselves so he could still read what the attorney had written.

As odd as it was, Peter couldn’t help but think that the letter wasn’t a mistake. Geographically, he didn’t even know where Kalispell Montana was. Even by chance this was a prior client, sending it to his personal address seemed out of the ordinary. Peter made sure that just a few people, mostly through S.M. Enterprises, knew his home of record. He had never given it to

a client.

Nothing added up to explain how this simple letter could have ended up in his mail box.


The office downtown had been brought to an unreal calm. Barking assertiveness had drizzled to a low muffle with an occasional cough or ringing phone. The circus that had gone on earlier in the morning had barely left a remnant of its organized chaos.

Mike ran his wiry fingers through his black hair and closed his eyes, absorbing the rare peace. Since the close of the meeting that morning, he had done what he was completely against, feeding his good friend’s obsession.

He removed his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose, trying to plan in his mind how he would again try to convince Peter that he should pass this deal up. Waiting for another multimillion dollar birth would come quickly, they always did.

He replaced his glasses and sat up, straightening his thin frame.

Mike didn’t understand why he was so skeptical this time around on the negotiation table. The power trip was a high that would ride forever when you capitalized on another sale. It made you immortalized among bidders. Granted, the unorthodox bullying that came from the halls of S.M Enterprises may have intimidated competitors, but that was the world of marketing. If they couldn’t

handle the heat, they shouldn’t jump into the fire. The boys of S.M. loved the heat. It had become routine, sometimes too routine for both of them, but what Mike knew was that this was only a job, no more, not a life.

The executives in the upper offices maintained their morals however. The steps to turn a buck incubated in the creative minds of such people as Peter Conroy, someone whose morals were sparse if any. Did they know the approaches that their boys were taking to seal these high priced deals; possibly. Did they care how dirty the negotiations became; only if it leaked. Mike’s responsibility was to ensure that the mess was cleaned up before it did leak to anyone who had the right mind to talk to a news paper or TV. station.

To take the logical approach wasn’t as easy as he wanted it to be. Mike wanted to be sure that his friend wasn’t going to get too lazy in his talks, a symptom of too many signatures in too short amount of time, overwhelming the creative mind into doing something ignorant. If only his friend would follow that logic.

Mike leaned in and reached across his desk, picking up the phone. The dial tone bounded from the black receiver. He cleared his throat and began punching in the seven numbers that would reach Peter.

The hand piece only rang twice.


Mike shifted in his seat, “Pete, it’s Mike.”

“Good news?”

“Kind of, Pete listen, you need to be in Denver tomorrow morning. You fly out tonight.”

Mike could hear Peter’s voice brighten with enthusiasm.

“Great! Why is that kind of good news? This is it Mikey, this is our meal ticket. We’re moving up!”

Mike read down a small list of keynotes on a legal pad. Each one he sounded off to Peter he would cross off in following.

“You will be meeting with a Simon Adwall.”

“Simon Adwall, gotcha. Does he go by Mister or what?”

“Mr. Adwall will be fine. He’s young so I don’t really think he cares.”

“Okay, what does he do?”

“He’s One Sights’ stand in Communications Clerk for the time being.”

“Until we take that part over at least,” Peter’s voice carried a hint of arrogance.

“Don’t get too ahead of yourself. Now listen, you have to be at the Lake Chateau Resort in Colorado by 11:30 tomorrow morning. You will be having lunch with Mr. Adwall. He’s also the one that is going to receive our pitch and then report back to his people.”

“So I’m selling to a little kid? This couldn’t be more perfect, he has no idea what he’s in for Mikey.”

“I can hear your enthusiasm in this one Peter, I really can, but here’s the ‘kind of’ part.” Mike looked down at the large yellow envelope that had Peter Conroy’s name on it and pulled it closer.

“The management and I think we should consider passing this down to someone else.”

“Excuse me?” Peter’s voice became defensive. “Why the hell would we do something like that?”

“To give you a breather so you don’t overwhelm yourself.”

“Mike, buddy, I’m fine. I don’t care what your concern is. This contract is mine, got it? Not you, not some executive is going to take this away from me. I have it under control. This is a what?”

Mike paused.

“Mikey, what is this?!”

“A walk in the park.”

“Exactly, so just stop worrying about the what if’s and start focusing on the end result.”

Mike rubbed his forehead and quickly felt his argument slipping away.

“Mike, are you there?!”


“We were made for this job. We have fought to get these chances and now it is our time to shine. This is our life, this is what we live for.”

“No Peter, this is your life. This is all that your life has ever been! Take a step back and realize that sometimes it’s okay to stop for a minute.”

Peter felt a heat of rage begin to develop in his face. He scowled at the phone and lifted the hand piece above his head, winding it back to throw it at the wall. Peter wanted to watch the plastic explode as it made contact with the plaster and shatter into a million pieces on the floor.

Realizing his outburst, he quickly tried to compose himself, not wanting to completely lose his temper. He brought the receiver back to his ear.

“Mike I understand your concern. How I lead my life is my business though. We have this, I can feel it. Just trust me please? This is a proven success, we are a proven success.”

Mike pushed his fingers along the bridge of his nose and tried to relieve the headache that was forming behind his eyes.

“Alright Peter. I don’t want to pry anymore. I’m sorry for questioning you and this account. You’re right, it is your business. I don’t know what came over me, I’m sorry. The package will be in my office for you to pick up.”

“Good, I’ll see you in a bit.”

The voice on the other end went silent. Mike slowly put down the receiver and heard a sudden cough behind him. He turned in his chair to see his manager leaning against the door frame.

“He’s going to take it,” Mike said as he shrugged his shoulders.

His manager nodded with some unease and didn’t say a word.


Peter replayed through the phone conversation in his mind, unsure about how to take the concern that Mike had shown him. Should he be offended at his friend’s loss in confidence, if it was even that? Peter never gave the slightest sign that he was losing his touch. So then, why would Mike feel so compelled to be worried? He dissected each sentence like a surgeon to a deadly cancer. A surprising hesitation began to make him question himself at that very moment he let his friend’s words whisper through the silence of the house. Uneasiness seemed to form in his stomach, making his muscles tighten. Peter swallowed hard and washed his hesitation away with a bolus of saliva.

He shook his head and laughed it off. There was no way Mike would be right.

The guy’s just f*****g paranoid, Peter thought to himself.

Peter Conroy knew what the ins and outs of the business were and no one was going to tell him when to give up a deal. He snickered and suddenly felt that uneasy hesitation build up again. The feeling mystified and frightened him. Not because of the thought that his own partner was convincing him of passing up a golden opportunity, but because he himself was now feeling unsure. It was

ridiculous to the extent of the word, he had never been unsure about anything, why start now? There would be no second thought to turning his back on this chance. His unwavering conviction was going to carry him through. Peter convinced himself to laugh and erase the nonsense from his brain.

The letter still sat open on Peter’s desk. Plain white stationery held the law firm’s emblem like a badge of honor. It was an obvious attempt to make them seem more official coming from such a sleepy corner of the country. The words from the short message were simple and to the point, no hidden terms or adverse meaning. Peter read it one more time and rubbed the back of his

head, trying to massage the memory from somewhere deep in his subconscious. The attempt was hopeless, nothing reminded him of the address in Montana or the deceased. He stopped torturing his brain for an answer. As far as he cared now, it had just become another piece of junk mail waiting for

the waste basket.

He picked up the letter and crumpled the white paper between his hands. The cheesy emblem disappeared into the creases and wrinkles of the one page message. Peter lightly tossed it at the metal bin that sat near the corner of his cherry oak desk. The paper ball knocked off of the rim of the waste basket and came to rest on top of the residual trash.

“Entirely too odd,” he told himself as he stood from his desk and walked out of his study. “It’s entirely too random though.”

Peter abruptly stopped at the door way of the study and turned his head to the side, glancing back down at the trash can that now held the wad of paper. His curiosity almost instantly subsided and he continued out of the study and into the hall.

“Don’t bother with something so ridiculous when you know you need to focus. It’s time to put the gloves to work,” Peter coached himself.

His snappy pep talk almost made him want to pat himself on the back for keeping his eye on the ultimate prize.

Peter shuffled back through the living room and glanced at the clock on the bottom corner of the TV. It was still early in the afternoon according to the ticker that continuously ran at the lower end of the screen. Peter paused in front of the television as a female news reporter with an enchanting smile and glistening blue eyes started headlining the top stories of the business market. He intently listened to grumbles in the epic world of stock negotiations and the increase of America’s interest in becoming 6 step millionaires. Nothing was said though about the potential client that awaited his arrival in 12 hours.

No bother, the people would hear about them as soon as his firm could submit a release. Peter crossed his arms and smiled with an air of cockiness as he imagined the promotion awaiting him.

He finally remembered why he had left his study and turned back to the kitchen, leaving the pretty reporter to conclude her broadcast. From the abnormal spat he had with Mike on the phone to the unusual letter that had been addressed to the wrong recipient with the right name, Peter’s stress level was higher than normal. The call of an artificial suppressant sang to him like the welcoming song from the lark on a harsh and dreary winter’s end. He anxiously grabbed the refrigerator door, swung it open and answered that call.

He needed the other long neck waiting patiently for him on the top shelf. What he needed to do was focus on the objective. It was time to get ready to do what he did best, celebrate.


Only miles away, the office grew even quieter as the last few people dwindled toward the lobby. Mike followed the same routine he had every time the night before he sent Peter off around the globe to snag another ignorant, deep pocketed entrepreneur.

He sipped cold water from a white paper cup and read over his partner’s freshly printed itinerary. Everything was in order, at least on the outside. The disorganized thoughts that had changed Mike’s views on S.M. Enterprises boiled near the surface, infuriating him and feeding a disgust towards the man that had become Peter Conroy. Who was he to judge though? Mike was the

silent squire tucked in a dark corner for no one to see. He wasn’t the force behind the operation, just the muse to overlook the inner workings.

He contemplated tearing the flight schedule in two and setting the shredded pieces free into the night air. The bony man imagined scraps of paper fluttering

on the wind and drifting towards the bay, lost forever. Maybe somehow he could let the entire contract slip away, destroying any evidence of its existence and preventing it from ever being recovered. He knew he would find an almost euphoric enjoyment to wiping away this sick love that his friend had fallen victim to.

He was sure that it would salvage Peter’s morals and bring back the casual nice guy that was replaced by this obsessed monster. It wasn’t an act of madness, not at all. If anything, he would be the savior to his friend’s demise.

The plan seemed too perfect.

There was always an out if he wanted it though. Saving himself from the stress and utter tyranny, Mike knew that finding employment elsewhere would eventually place him in the rankings he was currently in.

He stood from his desk and began to pace the floor, adjusting his wire glasses with each lap.

It wasn’t that at all though, never was it the stress he personally felt from

the company. It was the loyalty to Peter and the knowledge that he would

succeed within his obsession that kept him strung to this business like a puppet

on a string. He hated this burdening hell to be quite honest.

Mike took the last drink from the cup and set it on the corner of his desk. As much as he would find empowerment out of his devious plan, he had to remember who he was doing this for. Mike stopped pacing and readjusted himself back into his chair. He continued to go over the flight arrangements,        in silence.

© 2013 James

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Added on May 7, 2013
Last Updated on May 7, 2013



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