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It’s seven, giving me an hour before hitting the trail to my factory. during this time of the day, I’m alone, quiet, my local newspaper lying on the twelve-seater table in the breakfast room. A crackling log fire burning, the smell of Canadian Pine from the furniture, and my favorite Columbian ground coffee percolating on the hot plate.
“Buenos días, señor Pierre.” “De coffee, she is ready, señor; I fix for you, no?” “Si Angelina, gracias.” Our Cook, housekeeper, and butler, all bound in one, is from Columbia, hence my coffee preference. Angelina’s family is in the coffee business back home, and she insists on me drinking their brand.
“Angelina only make Ferrozo Coffee in dees house Meester Pierre or no coffee at all!” She stated. “Then you must make it like my Grandmother did, Angelina.” “How she make it?” “Many years ago, Granny used to buy her baking flour in a small muslin bag, and once emptied, she washed the bag, turned the open end, and sewed an elastic strip onto it. She would put the bag into an enamel coffee jug, fill it with water, and add Trekker Koffie from the crushed beans into the bag once it boiled. Then it was allowed to percolate for thirty minutes.
“What ees dis tre… coffee? She struggled with the name. In my Grandmother’s time, it was coffee drunk by the Dutch Farmers of the day.
A truly win-win situation arose from this discussion, and with no help from me, Angelina sourced some calico, found an enamel coffee jug, sewed up some bags, and percolated Ferrozo.
I didn’t tell Angelina that my Grandmother drank her Trekker Koffie with condensed milk. (during the Boer War in South Africa, fresh milk was not freely available) The outcome of this was that I became a condensed milk addict. Angelina thought I drank my coffee without milk (as her fellow Columbians did), but I had a secret stash of condensed milk that I used.
Coffee was poured, and the newspaper opened– my two favorite items. Now happiness is mine.
On opening the paper (I always look to see the date in case the wrong paper was delivered. It happens, you know;) lo and behold, it was tomorrow’s date! I checked my watch to confirm it was right; tomorrow’s date. I looked up to see if there was anyone with whom I could share this phenomenon. I didn’t think Angelina would appreciate my vexation, so continuing to read, I accepted it as a printing error.
I happily worked through the news items, and then it happened. It was at the bottom of page three; I could not believe my eyes.
Company Owner and CEO Detained By Police.
Mr. Pierre Williams, the owner, and CEO of Williams Cables Ltd, has been detained by the Police, pending investigations into certain irregularities concerning the company’s tax returns.
Neither the Public Officer, Ms. Fossie, nor Mr. Williams would comment. The Police Chief Public Relations Officer, Inspector Len Jones, explained that no comment could be made until Mr. Williams came before the local magistrate.
Case covered by Staff Reporter Janice Morrison.
Hey, this is me. I thought, dumbstruck.
Before I knew it, I coughed and sprayed my coffee over the breakfast table with shock. I was in the process of mopping up the mess on my shirt when a distressed Angelina came striding into the room. “Meester Pierre come kweek, there is men at the door, saying eet is Police.” I had barely stood up from the table when two men in overcoats pushed Angelina out of their path. And while one explained they were arresting me on charges of defrauding the Receiver of Inland Revenue, the other roughly pulled my hands behind me and locked them in cuffs. The first then proceeded to read me my rights.
Protesting, I asked if I could change my shirt.” Please come with us, Mr. Williams, and don’t offer any resistance.” feigning politeness, the officer said quietly.
Pushing a sheet of paper, along with a chewed-end pen, the policemen at a desk stated,” We need a statement from you.” “Officer, I need to speak to my attorney before I am willing to make any statement, please.” Anger melted a little of my fear; his eyes met mine. Standing suddenly, he beckoned me to follow him. “He wants to make a call.” The Sergeant, who was as broad as he was tall, passed me a mobile with my attorney’s number dialed.
Joseph Berelowitz was a no-nonsense attorney and a man with a razor-sharp mind. “Hello Bill, Joe here. “Give me an hour; I’ll be with you. We’ll apply for bail.”
I gripped the handle of the coffee mug with some difficulty, the shock of it all making my hands shake uncontrollably. “I need a pub, not a coffee,” trying to present a humorous front. I reassured Joe that I had no faintest idea of what was happening. “Get up to your office and sort this out as soon as possible.” Joe was anxious. “This is serious. Call me with whatever you find.” “Give me a couple of hours, I’m going home to change, and I’ll head for the office.”
Rushing in through the front door, I nearly knocked Angelina flying. “Sorry, Angelina.” “Is Meesta Pierre OK?” “Yes, I’m fine; I just need a whiskey.” Angelina walked away, staring at me wide-eyed over her shoulder.
The phone rang, “Williams,” I answered the call. A strange gruff voice on the other end stated, “Your wife is here with us, and if you want to see her again, you’ll get over here right away.” “What are you talking about?” I demanded. My wife’s voice screamed in the background, “Pierre, they want to kill me, help me please…” My wife was hysterical. The male voice came back on the line. “You’ve got one hour to get over here, Unit 16 G, Dock Terminal A. You now have 55 minutes. The phone clicked.
With my heart thumping, I drove like a madman, the clock racing ahead. I knew Terminal A and pulled up at 16G. The door opened, and I was pulled into the room by my collar. A figure shoved me into a filthy chair. My wife was tied to a chair with her mouth taped, face red and swollen. Her mouth was bleeding through the tape in one corner.
“Your partner Ms. Fossie has an unpaid bill we need to collect.” “She’s not my partner. She’s my employee,” I retorted. Wham! A back-hander from one of the three men smashed across my face, crashing me to the floor. The hitter lifted me by my lapels. He pushed his face into mine, rotting teeth stench swathing my nostrils; then, he punched me in the gut. I collapsed onto the floor, gasping for breath.
They lifted me onto the chair once more, and one of the others muttered, “Enough, I want him to talk.” “We need the stash or the money. You got it?” Wheezing heavily and fearing another blow, I said cautiously, “I don’t have the stash; Ms. Fossie must have it, but how much does she owe you?” “Twenty G’s” “Twenty thousand! What?” “Listen, mister, don’t f***k with me; you heard what I said.” “OK, untie my wife, drive us to the cash machine, and I will see if I can draw that amount.” “Mister, your wife, stays here; we go for the cash. We get the cash, and you come to collect your wife. Let’s go!”
The leader walked close behind me. “One wrong move, you dead meat, and we go kill your wife, right?”
Suddenly from behind, a voice yelled, “Freeze, Police!” I slowly raised my hands, as did the big guy behind me. Sirens and lights were flashing from the squad cars; this added to the drama as people in the street stared in disbelief.
An officer led me to a waiting patrol car, and there was my wife. I leaped in alongside her; we hugged and wept. “Would you like a visit to the hospital or straight home?” The officer asked. “Straight home.” We chorused.
“Tell me, officer, how did you know where to find my wife?” “Well, Mister Williams, we had your phone wired, and the gang kindly gave us the address when you got your instructions. They are part of a drug ring and in cahoots with your Ms. Fossie. Who, incidentally, was responsible for tampering with your tax account. It seems she owed them a lot of money. Call me Paddy, by the way, he said in his fine Irish lilt.” “Do you know, Paddy, I read about the story in the newspaper this morning, a paper dated tomorrow.” “Surely not; that is strange now.” Officer Paddy smiled. Just as I thought, indeed, the work of a Leprechaun!
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