Escaping Paradise

This was it. After a year of non-stop work and near end of the big project, Jack Stengel was finally on vacation and taking a break from his hectic schedule back in New York. His secretary, Connie, had suggested the beach of Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica. Sure it was nice and beautiful, but this was Connie’s paradise not Jack’s. The calm put him on edge rather than bored him. He simply couldn’t get comfortable. The touts kept passing by his way on the lounge chair asking him if wanted surfing lessons or massages or coconut water or too many other things to count.

It’s not as if a more private beach would do him any better. He wasn’t a beach person. Nor a mountain person. The jungle behind him with all the squawking sounds of exotic birds, bugs and monkeys brought him no joy. Leave your worries behind, Connie had said. He missed his worries. He worried instead about having nothing to worry about temporarily and then a flood of catching up on two weeks of work when he got back. Would the Parsons deal be done by the time he got back? What if the goons screwed it all up while he was away? No they’d been trained by him, surely they knew what they were doing? No they probably didn’t. Should he call? It might put his mind at rest. Or would it? He didn’t want to have a drink. He hadn’t for years because it kept his edge, but it could be dangerous too. Why was that black man looking at him? The sun was hot, maybe it was time for more lotion or at least to flip over. The flipping would be easier. Don’t you need to burn a bit to get a good base? He should have gone to the tanning salon. Do people do that anymore? Cancer, well everyone would get it.

That’s what caused the first attempt at the deal with Parsons to fall through a few years ago. The original Mr. Parsons came down with bone cancer and died within a few weeks. A real shame, he was a titan of industry, and it was too fragile a time to confront the Widow Parsons, although that is exactly what Jack did. Or he’d actually employed his wife at the time to do just that. But it all went incredibly wrong and fell through. At least with the divorce he could deflect the blame to the ex-wife. Parsons’ son saw the time for change coming and needed the money. Oxycontin wasn’t cheap, lest one was inclined to fall from society. It would be a good deal for all, maybe not the Widow Parsons, but everyone else, especially Jack. But then why had he left before the deal was sealed? He had to in order to appear above and outside of it all. This had been decided in several strategic meetings. It involved proxies and shifts in allegiances and a little backstabbing. They said it was best for Jack to be seen as above it all if he was going to take over and steer everything in to a new, more profitable direction. There would be many quick demands for results and profit. They always wanted profit. But who wouldn’t?

The sweat seeped over the lounge chair. Maybe a shower was in order. Then a quick check of the internet and cellphone. He was not to communicate or anything, but to have a little look. He couldn’t though, but why not he’d done it every day. He thrived on take overs and exploiting the weaknesses of others. Would he be better off in a village in Africa? At least he could do what he liked there. No this beautiful beach would have to suffice, but maybe he could take a car and go somewhere and do something. No why bother, he knew all he wanted was to be back in New York ready to reclaim his throne. He paid his bill for the time on the beach, and headed back to his hotel. Maybe he would go poolside. No it was all too much effort here for more profitable returns.

He dumped his stuff in his hotel room and noticed he had a message blinking on his phone. He listened and his heart sank at the words on the other end. He’d been duped, suckered, flimflammed, whatever one wanted to call it, he was fucked. He was broke. How could they have done it? It wasn’t his money even? Or was it, he’d been leveraged to the hilt, but it was separate from his money, right? The ex-wife had gotten a lot. Could it really be that big of a loss?

When you lose everything then yes. How could he have been so stupid. He knew better and had been bested at his own lies. Who could he trust? No one. Connie may be set the whole thing up for him to be away. The Widow Parsons, the ex-wife, the son of Parsons, Parsons from beyond the grave. It was all so uncertain, but absolutely true. He’d lost everything and there he was on vacation. He couldn’t even pay his bills. It was all too fast. There’s no way the banks could already have stopped his accounts. This was crazy. No this couldn’t be possible. Were the goons playing a joke? What could he do if he had no credit? He needed to get back to New York immediately. Who could he call? If Connie was in on it then no one. He’d long lost most of his friends. The goons. Who could he trust to borrow money from? He packed and lied to the clerk about returning. Then had to catch a bus to the bus station and switch for the cheap bus to San Jose. Fucked, fucked, fucked, he thought, now you’re in paradise. Why? Cause he had a renewed drive and vigor to get revenge and let heads be got. He only had to get back to New York, right? How hard could that be?