CHAPTER 3

John decided to leave the office and get an early lunch. He hoped this might provide at least a temporary escape from all the shitty thoughts and feelings that were now swirling uncontrollably in his head and body.

He exited the building’s lobby through the revolving door and started walking without thinking about where he was going.

After a few minutes, he looked up and saw an Irish pub that looked dark, but inviting and comfortable - it was called O’Hanlon’s. He walked in and was seated by the host at a big round booth table in the back, much too big for a party of one. But John didn’t mind - he liked lots of space when he ate in restaurants.

About ten minutes later, he had a plate of hot Irish comfort food in front of him, and he was ready to dig in, when a man walked up and sat down at John’s big booth table.

Surprised, John furrowed his brow and said, “What?... Can I… help you?”

The man was Chinese. He was clean cut, with short black hair and he was wearing a black leather jacket, which was unzipped. He was big and seemed muscular even though his chest and arms weren’t visible. His face was cold and serious, and he peered intensely at John, who immediately felt nervous and intimidated.

The man removed a manila envelope from his jacket and slid it across the table to John.

John looked down at the envelope and then looked up at the man. He started to reach for the envelope, but the man said, in perfect English, “Not yet.” John pulled his hand back and put it under the table.

The man looked at John and said, quietly, with a gravelly voice, “The people I work for would like to be in business with you.”

John was mostly scared, but curious too, and didn’t dare interrupt the man.

The Chinese man continued, in an even quieter voice now, “You’re working on the Zenotech merger, which we’ve heard is in trouble. We’d like you to give us confirmation of the status of that deal before the market knows, so we can either short the stock or buy long.”

Then the Chinese man paused for a long moment, still staring at John.

He continued, “If your information pays off, we’ll give you 5% of the profits we make. That could mean a lot of money for you.”

John blurted out, “What are you, nuts? That’s insider trading - I could go to jail for that. I can’t do this for you. Find someone else.”

“There is no one else - you’re on the team working that deal - you’re the guy,” said the Chinese man.

“I’m not the only person on that team,” replied John.

The Chinese man paused, and intensified his gaze on John, if that were possible at this point, then said, “Unfortunately for you, Mr. Martin, you now know my face and what my people are planning to do, so you’re in this, whether you like it or not. You’re the guy.”

“I’m not doing this!” John yelled in a whisper, right before he subconsciously pulled his head and torso backward defensively. Then he said, more submissively and nervously, “What if I decide not to do this?” 

The Chinese man just pointed to the manila envelope on the table, which John still hadn’t opened.

As he started to get up from the table, The Chinese man said, “Just make sure we hear the confirmed status of that deal before the market does.” Then he paused, stared at John again and said in a threatening tone, “And make sure your information is accurate.” Then he walked out.

Thunderstruck, John shook his head, slowly from side to side, and said to himself, “What the fuck is going on today?”

John opened the manila envelope, pulled out three photographs, a note and a key. He spread the photos out on the table in front of him, looked at them, and then slowly said, “Holy shit.”

 

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