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WET



Copyright © Arno Le Roux 2017.

All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronically, electrostatic magnetic tape or mechanically; including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the author. Although this is a fictional work, both the locations portrayed, the organisations as well as events are factual. The characters and times in the story line are fictional; therefore, all resemblances to actual people present or past are purely coincidental. Should you wish to contact the Author: arnoleroux1970@gmail.com

"The connoisseur does not drink wine, but tastes of its secrets" – Salvador Dali

Synopsis



It's Paradise... Our soul's nostalgic urge to pause a lazy summer Sunday's orange brush at dusk, aided by a waiting cabernet. As would be a fit pairing with maybe succulent but humble lamb, for some, and that would do. But for Ariel, a bottomless glass of sweetly labelled, matured revengeful Pinot Noir, was right on the nose... And a recent harvest, even better.

Prologue



Scrawny little Ariel dropped to her knees, clutching her stomach as she drowned in the stinging hope that she kept sufficient pressure on her gaping wound. Momentarily oblivious to what would normally be mind-altering pain, and surrendering wholly to the remaining warmth of the final seconds of sunrays, dyed in its awesome reddish-orange, she wished time on hold... Her pale face stared uphill as she attempted countering her pain by forcing a skewish smile...

'White Pinot Noir will would pair well with that... but then, they're birds, what do they know?' Ariel thought.

Uphill from her, from the drenched barnacle dotted rocks; in the dark damp corner of a dilapidated fishery where neither the blinding morning sun, nor the softer peaceful evening glare ever bothered, a precariously bent over backwards attorney stared up blankly at two overly talkative seagulls on his lap. Seemingly mocking his helpless state, the hungry curious mother bird took the brave leap and positioned herself on his chest. The man's one leg was interwoven with the leftovers of weather-beaten wooden pallets and a smutty forgotten cargo net that somehow still hugged the eternal stank of fish guts. Taking carefully timed turns, the birds eventually mustered enough will, and pecked at his face then his eyes, unsure whether he'd still waive them away like a few minutes before...

Chapter 1



Ariel inspected and memorised every detail of the scene unfolding before her as she hugged her morning roasted coffee tighter, while intermittently, blowing over the steamy surface that she followed up with tiny sips. From her own transparent office, through the immaculately clean, green-tinted glass panes separating her work environment from the expansive overly decorated boardroom, she studied him. He was KALINKA's new legal eagle and deal broker, tasked with procuring new business and keeping the powers that be satisfied. But unassuming Ariel, discovered how Harold gradually tightened an invisible noose around the shareholders and the firm's high-flyer clientele... until...

Cape Town born, lateral-thinking fast talking attorney, Harold Ashton's eloquence had been commanding the atmosphere in the classy boardroom for an hour already, and he again rose from his favourite chair to navigate his imposing almost seven foot figure around the 24-seater heavy ebony boardroom table. The captivated members of the board grew addicted to his electrifying charm already a few short months before when he introduced himself. The once drowning commercial property development company; housing its very own well staffed and highly competent legal division, were filing for liquidation when it literally scraped the bottom of the conveyancing barrel. Political turmoil and an ever declining volatile currency saw the property market in Johannesburg going belly up in a single horrid financial season. But then, one early business morning they discoverer Harold, of rather, he discovered them… Ariel recalled once overhearing one of the shareholders talk that "Hell opened briefly and the next moment Harold was smilingly seated in reception, waiting... With a single paged double-folded resume in hand, he landed one of the most bankable positions for which KALINIA had ever advertised. The firm generously upped the initial advertised remuneration at his request, immediately following his single handed pulling the company from the gutters to one of the preferable ones that government had done business with. In desperation, all initially looked the proverbial "other way" and allowed him free reign to put them back on the map, so to speak. For pushy Harold Harold, underhanded dealings were mere technicalities justifiable in the name of survival and that meant money. And when Harold rounded up clients, it was synonymous with wealth creation. At his interview stage, lengthy and impressive applications from no less than thirteen different countries; for two entire taxing months, had Human Resources staff work even on weekends while fine-combing competing candidates' track record. No one outside the glassed boardroom knew what had been discussed, but his charm during a brief mere fifteen minute interview with the 24 normally difficult to please shareholders, was a scene to behold. Harold swept the boardroom in continuous clockwise motion around them as he clenched their undivided attention; now and then pointed his index finger out the window towards the horizon, as if promising them the world. When finally shaking each member's hand and faultlessly recalling each and every of the two dozen's names and surnames, his magic was done. He politely smiled, left the board room, then winked a smile in Ariel's direction and disappeared down with the elevator. The next morning at 8am he was back, and he never left since.

"Greedy ignorant governmental vultures", Harold always made reference to his favourite "prey". Earlier in the year, the company had entertained Harold's clients at the Grand Central Airport where much to his colleagues and two members of the board's surprise, Harold owned one of the larger hangers where he stored his (toys). It became quite apparent how high the rewards were for his shrewd business tactics. The officials were rewarded with a fun-filled afternoon that included a massive spread of eats ordered in from the Sandton based Michael Angelo Hotel, collectors wine as gifts, and the well designed program ended with well-planned flights over southern Johannesburg. The latter, had been his strategy to clearly point out the scope of the land at stake for the impending; and initially unknown to the government, fake land claim by an alleged family whose ancestors were supposedly displaced by the government in the previous political era. Harold's deals habitually ended in typical fashion, where all shared anxious agreement to his suggested approach even before Harold rolled out the remainder of his genius schemes. His clients could normally barely wait to sign off on his deals. It had been the kind of deal-brokering that pushy but lateral-thinking fast talking Harold was known for in all the right circles in government. The guests to his large and deliberately complicated schemes were normally businessmen who usually backed two or more opposing political persuasion's election campaigning and his usual small handful of Moscow invitees.

Ariel recalled the initial meeting she was part of, and how much she despised Harold after she overheard him on the phone with one of his investors.

"She was there as something sweet to look at" Was his phrase. At the outset, when he took stage, he had convincingly wrapped them all up in his mind-blowing sticky web of deceit.

"The polarised political climate is ideal! It's perfectly conducive to a landmark land-claim, to shake up the country, insert the new banking system, lure investors and turn property prices on its head, but only for a brief period, we estimate four years maximum. After mining will commence in these areas, we're quite confident that the surrounding areas would be achieving closer to 60% of today's real value. But let's be honest comrades, it's in line with the old Soviet agreement on South African minerals and land, made with this regime already in the early 1900's. Today, Russia is contemplating writing off South African indebtedness, in return for the largest of nuclear plants in the northern Cape, and that a springboard for the rest of Africa." Harold's introduction to his sales pitch was almost unnecessary, as he knew more about the current regime’s actual history from the days of reigning Paul Kruger and the Russian long-term land-chess game, than what their members had. That, in addition to the fact that all in attendance had already had a taste of Harold's generosity... But to be crystal clear, Harold continued anyway...

"Since agricultural land Title Deeds for Johannesburg and surrounding were stored at the Pretoria Deeds Office..."

He went on to explain how a Government Gazetted fake land claim would pave the initial scare-tactic way to gauge public readiness for the following genius step. He further filled the money hungry decision makers in, on how the (crowd) who'd pack up and sell too late, would receive the later far lower market related purchase prices. The final stage of the highly lucrative prospective treasure chest, would be the crucial oversight) required at the Deeds Office. According to Harold's scheme, the claimants' newly acquired land had span from Johannesburg's affluent suburbs, and included amongst others a golf course, equestrian farm, and the surrounding vast government owned land where residential developments would not otherwise been approved by local Town Councils. The actual claimants, who were already set up and living a high life of careless luxury elsewhere in Africa, had technically already sold the land to the Russian infiltrated KALINKA-Trading, as if the name change wasn't sufficiently indicative. At the time the re-baptised ĶALINKA was desperate and lapped up the fantastic 200 million Rand loan from a Russian associate of Harold's as the firm already had their eyes on key commercial development land, earmarked for a massive shopping mall. And so ambitious forward thinking Harold, closed deal upon deal that crossed his desk with genius.

Chapter 2



"I need someone I can trust, I think I'm in... over my head..." A deep brown plash of steamy coffee covered Ariel's scribbled notepad as she jerked back alarmed when she discovered Harold towering over the opposite side of her desk.

"Damn Harold!" Ariel was deep in thought trying to figure him out and hadn't noticed he left his clients waiting in the boardroom and closed her door as he entered her office.

"Free for supper? My treat, I can't safely talk here..." Ariel just stared at his abruptness, followed by her typical uncomfortable silence.

"Apologies..., should you be willing to meet, I mean if it's convenient, I'd like your company, it's really important... please?" Harold rephrased, since Harold learned from day one that short-in-stature Ariel didn't tolerate rudeness and what she lacked in stature, she compensated for with brilliance and stark piercing looks. She was the youngest senior partner but commanded the contractual side of the business with an iron hand. As a rule, she had a preference keeping to herself, and had invariably always been absent, both from elaborate prize giving events and company socials designed to promote teamwork.


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