Brightly Lit Shadows by Charles H Mercer - Children's Stories Net

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  Brightly Lit Shadows
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Chapter One - D.A.R.K.
"Take care, the tales your lips unfold.
Lies are the shadows that darken your soul.
Truth reflects like a sun lit sea.
Brightly lit your shadows be."
He is thirty-five years old, but looks closer to forty-five.
His name is Daniel Abraham Ronald Kirtland, named after three of his forefathers.
He doesn't relish the name Daniel, or even Dan, and he absolutely detests Mr. Kirtland.
He prefers his business associates to call him by the acronym his initials form - D.A.R.K.
In the business world Mr. Dark's acronym and character are well known.
Mr. Dark is rich, powerful, ruthless, and a bully of a man, middle aged, balding and overweight. He has a habit of smoking fat, foul smelling cigars, and intentionally blowing the smoke in the faces of his visitors.
He has perfected a method of staring unblinking into the eyes of his callers while they are speaking, giving the impression he doesn't believe them or trust them. In his entire business career Dark has never been known to smile.
He is first and always a predator.
He is currently the C.E.O. of a large contracting firm and rules his staff with an iron fist. His office is a reflection of the man himself; dark wood panelling lines the walls of the room with an even darker brown trim.
The dimmed lights cast deep shadows about the office creating a depressing feeling of foreboding and menace throughout the room.
An array of wood framed diplomas and certificates hang on the wall behind his desk, these are the accolades that represent his academic and business achievements.
The heavy desk, a sizable polished dark oak piece of glass topped furniture, rests on a slight pedestal near the far end of the room. A well-padded, black leather arm chair is centred behind the desk while his visitor's chair is a single immovable, straight backed, unpadded wooden chair, placed to one side next to a large planter.
Sitting in this chair is uncomfortable and the occupant needs to lean forward in order to see Mr. Dark, they also need to be continually looking up.
This was a well thought out psychological configuration to make contemporaries feel more uncomfortable, and Mr. Dark to seem more intimidating.
The intercom buzzed. "Yes, what is it?" Dark demanded forcefully.
His secretary replied, "Mr. Fuller is here sir."
Dark growled into the intercom, "Good, send him in."
Dark took his place behind his massive desk.
He moved the chair out and sat leaning on the right arm, his right hand over his eyes, giving the appearance of being in deep thought. He massaged his temples with his thumb and forefinger as he waited for Fuller to enter.
The door opened and a slightly built, smallish, bespectacled man in his early thirties with short black hair and wearing an ill-fitting crumpled blue suit hesitantly entered the office and carefully closed the door silently behind him.
"You wanted to see me, Mr. Dark?" Fuller asked in a thin faltering voice.
Dark waved him forward with his left hand without looking up.
The timid form of Mr. Fuller crept forward.
He perched on the edge of the chair peering around the tall planter, his hands were sweaty so he wiped them on his pants as he sat there nervously waiting for Mr. Dark to speak.
Dark raised his head, catching Fuller in a cobra like stare, locking his unblinking blue eyes with the soft brown of Fuller's.
He gestured toward the left side of the room where an architectural drawing had been affixed to the wall.
"Do you know what that drawing is Fuller?" Dark inquired.
Mr. Fuller glanced sideways at the wall and answered in his quivering voice. "Yes sir, the Baker project."
Dark droned on, "You are right, the Baker project, and it is to be the crowning glory of my career. A high rise condominium designed and built for the fabulously wealthy. It is almost in my grasp, I can start construction as soon as I acquire the one last piece of property that I don't yet own.
However, I have a slight problem Fuller; you see the investors on the board of directors are getting tired of waiting. Do you know what they are waiting for Fuller?" Dark looked harder into Fuller's eyes.
After a moment of awkward silence Mr. Fuller ventured, "They are waiting for you to acquire that last piece of property sir?"
Dark broke his frightful gaze with Fuller and rolled his eyes up to the ceiling. He folded his pudgy hands across his lap, took a long deep breath and as he exhaled he turned his attention back to the cringing form of Fuller.
Dark lowered his voice and leaned forward as if he were imparting a secret, "No Fuller, they are waiting for you to acquire the last piece of land for me." Fuller blurted, "Me sir? I don't understand."
Dark continued, "Some years ago I acquired a small contracting firm called Rain Incorporated. I should have absorbed the accounts and disbanded the company long ago, but I decided to keep the business active for just this type of occasion.
Fuller, as I am the owner, I'm appointing you as the acting C.E.O. of Rain Incorporated, and in that capacity you have the authority to purchase land in the firm's name. In particular, the remaining piece of property I need to finish the Baker project. Do you understand Fuller?"
Fuller replied apprehensively, 'No sir, not exactly."
Dark articulated slowly, "Okay, let me explain the plan to you in simple terms. The old lady who owns that parcel of land doesn't appear to like me much, I don't know why, I think I'm a pretty congenial person, don't you Fuller?"
Fuller nodded and Dark went on, "One time she told me she would rather sell her property to a pig farmer before she would sell to me."
Fuller looked confused, "You want me to tell her I'm a pig farmer sir?"
Dark stared at Fuller in disbelief; he reached into a large polished wooden box sitting on the corner of his desk and removed a long twisted dark brown cigar. He lit the smelly stogie, took a long deep pull of smoke and, exhaling noisily, propelled the nauseating cloud in Fuller's direction.
Fuller turned his head and coughed weakly.
Dark nodded and talked on, "No Fuller, I do not want you to tell her you are a pig farmer, I want you to tell her you are a philanthropist. Tell her you wish to buy her place and build a children's playground. Tell her you will name the area after her."
Dark held up his hands in the air and drew an imaginary rectangle, as if he were drawing a sign, and said, "The Thelma Frost Children's Playground."
Dark glanced over at Fuller and asked, "Clear enough for you now Fuller?"
Fuller cringed visibly and mumbled, "Sir isn't that unethical? I mean telling her an outright lie. What happens when she finds out it was only a scam to get her property?"
Mr. Dark scowled, "Who cares? Once the deal is done and you take possession of the place, the rest is none of her business."
Fuller stared at the floor with apprehension; he shuffled his feet nervously and whispered, "Yes sir, I guess I understand."
Dark puffed on his cigar, blowing more of the foul smell at Fuller.
Settling back in his chair he added, "One more thing Fuller, you need to complete the buy in the next three days. If we don't start construction on time the whole deal will cave in."
Fuller sighed and said half-heartedly, "I'll do my best sir."
Dark sneered, "I know you will Fuller, because if you don't come back with the deed to the Frost property, don't come back. Understood?"
Fuller wrung his hands and replied, "Yes sir, I understand."
He sat silently and stared at his pale hands.
Dark snarled, "Is there something else Fuller?"
He answered in a small voice, "No sir."
Dark leaned forward and barked deafeningly, "Then what are you waiting for? Get out of my office and get that property."
Fuller, startled, vaulted from the chair and backed quickly out of Mr. Dark's office.
He softly closed the door to Dark's office and returned to his small plain cubicle. He sat in the unpadded wooden swivel chair at his desk for a few minutes to give his frazzled nerves a chance to calm down.
This was the first time he'd been called into Dark's office and he hoped the experience would never be repeated; the ordeal was terrifying and he was still sweating.
The fax machine in the corner of Fuller's cubicle clacked noisily and two pages popped out and floated to the floor. He stood and walked the few steps to the machine, stooped and picked up the papers.
One was a short note which read, as per Mr. Dark's instructions, 'there is no limit on the enclosed check'.
The second sheet contained a blank bank draft made out in favour of Mrs. Thelma Frost. He pulled his worn dark brown briefcase from under his desk and carefully placed the two documents inside. He rummaged around in his desk drawers and found a few remaining forms he would need Mrs. Frost to sign to complete the unsavoury transaction.
With these in his briefcase he was ready to leave and confront Mrs. Frost.
He exhaled a long breath and looked around his office for what might be the last time.
Fuller, with resignation, picked up his briefcase and left the office, heading to his car.
Chapter Two - Mrs. Frost
Ten minutes later he pulled up in front of the Frost residence.
The house was a cosy little pink building with a white roof and a short white picket fence.
Rows of colourful flowers lined the walk leading to the front porch where an old wooden swing hanging from slightly rusted chains swung lazily in the mid-morning breeze.
A fat white cat sleeping on the steps of the porch uncurled itself and stretched as Fuller approached.
He stepped past the animal and faced the white framed pink door.
Knocking lightly, he tried to assume a smile he hoped would appear more sincere than he felt.
It bothered him greatly to be part of such a sham as this one concocted by Mr. Dark.
The door opened and Fuller came face to face with Mrs. Frost.
She was slightly shorter than him, a little plump, but not really fat, her white hair was pulled up into a tight bun at the back of her head and her face carried the laugh lines of one who tended to smile a lot.
Her eyes were a soft clear blue and her mouth turned up at the edges.
Above her petite nose she wore a pair of gold rimmed glasses.
She was attired in a rather plain long brown dress, with a short white apron tied around her waist and a white shawl hung over her shoulders.
He judged her to be around sixty-something; the picture of everybody's sweet fairy godmother in most every fairytale ever told.
She spoke and her voice was soft and pleasant, "Yes, may I help you?"
Mr. Fuller swallowed the lump that rose to his throat and tried to reply with a confidence he didn't feel.
He answered, "Are you Mrs. Thelma Frost?"
She nodded and he continued, "Yes, well let me introduce myself. I am Adam Fuller, I represent a concern called Rain Incorporated.
We have an interest in purchasing your property. We would like to erect a children's playground here, I know you have received other offers, but hear me out. I believe this community would benefit greatly from the park as a safe place for children. If I could come in for just a minute I would like to explain the plan to you."
Mrs. Frost stepped back and peered at him through her gold rimmed spectacles. "Please come in Mr. Fuller," she said as she ushered him into her living room.
The room, like the rest of the house, fit a fairy tale theme - from the hand painted portrait of an elderly gentleman over the red brick fireplace to the fat white cat now sleeping curled up on the seat of a rocking chair placed near the window.
She led him to a large blue overstuffed couch and asked him to sit and get comfortable while she made some tea.
While he waited for her to return he glanced around the room; the soft pink walls, the white framed windows and matching pink curtains added to the homey effect. On the coffee table in front of him a white glass flower vase containing a single yellow daisy sat next to a bowl filled with mints.
He helped himself to one and as he thought about what he would say to convince her to give up her home, a wave of guilt swept over him.
If a way to bow out of this dilemma were to become evident he would be willing to take it, even if it did mean losing his job with Mr. Dark's firm.
Mrs. Frost returned to the living room carrying a large silver tea tray holding two diminutive green china teacups, a matching round china teapot, a green china pitcher of cream, and a clear glass jar of sugar.
She set the tray down on the coffee table in front of him and inquired, "Which company did you say you represented Mr. Fuller?"
Pouring himself a cup of the steaming tea, Fuller replied, "Rain Incorporated. I'm the C.E.O., well acting anyway."
Mrs. Frost queried, "You said something about a children's playground?"
"Yes," Mr. Fuller answered, "we thought we could name the area The Thelma Frost Children's Playground."
Mrs. Frost responded with a warm smile, "My, that sounds very nice and how much would your company be willing to offer me for my property?"
Fuller pulled the blank bank voucher from his briefcase and scribbled in an amount. He made the total less than the property was worth, hoping she would see through his thinly veiled travesty and send him packing.
He handed the paper to her and she read the sum and smiled sweetly.
She appeared to consider the agreement for a moment and commented,
"This is a very generous offer Mr. Fuller; I believe I will accept your kind proposal."
Fuller's heart sank.
He felt sure she would turn down such a small half-hearted offer.
Mrs. Frost smiled at him, folded the check and put the paper in her apron pocket.
He coughed and said, "Well, I have a few additional papers for you to sign in order to close the deal. I must advise you; after you sign these you are locked in to the agreement and cannot reconsider the proposal. Do you understand Mrs. Frost?"
She nodded and he removed the necessary documents from his briefcase and spread them out on the coffee table.
Mrs. Frost signed them all in the places he indicated without making any comment.
Fuller gathered the paperwork and placed everything back in his briefcase, along with the deed.
Standing abruptly he stated, "I enjoyed our conversation and I thank you for your cooperation, but I really must get back to the office."
He tried hard not to show the guilt he was experiencing at that moment.
Mrs. Frost smiled knowingly and replied, "Yes, I'm sure you must be a very busy man."
Fuller made his way to the door, thanked Mrs. Frost again and proceeded to leave; he started quickly down the walk towards the gate.
He felt a sudden need to be as far away from this house as he could get and as fast as possible.
He could hear Mrs. Frost, still standing on the porch behind him, in a low sweet voice she was singing a rhyming song that sounded like a child's poem. "Take care, the tales your lips unfold. Lies are the shadows that darken your soul. Truth reflects like a sun lit sea. Brightly lit your shadows be."
Fuller reached the end of the walk and pushed the gate open. He watched as the gate swung outward and then glided back and closed.
His sense of self-loathing seemed overwhelming and his guilt bore down on him with an unbearable weight.
He turned and walked slowly up the path to the porch where Mrs. Frost stood still smiling.
She asked, "Is there something more Mr. Fuller?"
Unable to look into her smiling eyes, he averted his gaze and said, "Yes, Mrs. Frost, there is. I'm sorry I can't let you do this, I lied to you. I work for Mr. Dark; this whole thing is a lie. There is no plan to build a children's playground, there never was.
This is only a ruse to get your property for Mr. Dark's project.
I'll probably lose my job for telling you this, but I don't care."
Mrs. Frost put her hand on Fuller's shoulder and advised, "Why don't you come in for a minute and you can tell me all about it."
While sitting on the couch drinking a cup of lukewarm tea, he told her the whole account, the meeting with Mr. Dark and his plan.
Mrs. Frost responded, "Thank you for your honesty Mr. Fuller. I appreciate you telling me this."
Fuller replied, "I am glad to get the falsehood off my chest, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from me. I'll give you back the deed and tear up the papers you signed. I'll tell Mr. Dark you saw through the fabrication and refused to sell."
Mrs. Frost interjected, "No, I have a better idea. I'm going to accept the proposal just as you presented the plan to me. So you run along back to Mr. Dark and give him the deed."
Fuller stammered with confusion, "B-But, I don't understand, you know the whole thing is a lie, why would you do this?"
Mrs. Frost smiled slyly and winked at Fuller.
She said, "Sometimes these things have a way of working out. You go back to your office and on the way why not stop by the Land Management Office and file the paperwork, I'm sure that will put a feather in your hat with Mr. Dark." Mrs. Frost ushered Fuller to the door admonishing him, "Don't forget to file the deed papers right away.
Fuller tumbled down the walk in a state of utter confusion.
He got into his car and started the motor but before pulling away he glanced back at Mrs. Frost standing on her porch. She smiled and made a shooing motion with her hands.
He drove off, not sure how the events were meant to unfold, but with an unexplainable desire to follow Mrs. Frost's instructions.
He turned his automobile onto the main street and two minutes later he pulled into the parking lot of the Land Management Office.
He entered and spoke briefly with the clerk, telling him he needed to file a newly purchased deed of sale.
The clerk gave Fuller several forms to fill out and sign.
He completed the necessary requirements, paid the fee and received the receipt for the transaction and copies of the forms.
The clerk said, "Thank you Mr. Fuller, we will send a messenger around to your office in the morning with the final papers."
Fuller thanked him and put the papers in his briefcase.
He left the Land Management Office to continue his way back to report to Mr. Dark and as he entered the building he took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.
"Well," he thought, "I might as well get this over with."
Chapter Three. - Fall from power.
Fuller passed through the double glass doors and into the main lobby of the office building.
He proceeded directly to Mr. Dark's secretary and announced, "Tell Mr. Dark that Mr. Fuller is here to see him."
The secretary buzzed the intercom and Mr. Dark immediately growled back, "What is it? I'm too busy to see anyone, send whoever it is away, no exceptions."
The secretary looked up to apologise.
Mr. Fuller interjected, "Tell him it's Fuller."
She shrugged her shoulders and pressed the intercom button.
"It's a Mr. Fuller sir."
After a short pause Dark bellowed, "Well what are you waiting for? Send him in."
The secretary smiled innocently and pointed to the door of Mr. Dark's office. Fuller, with a touch of foreboding, entered Dark's dimly lit, depressing office once more to face the one person he feared most.
Dark, standing behind his desk with his arms folded across his chest scowled at Fuller as he entered and snarled, "Fuller you better have good news."
Fuller swallowed hard and answered, "I have the deed sir and I've already filed the paperwork with the Land Management Office."
He handed Dark the receipt and copies of the forms, then continued, "They will send a messenger to the office in the morning with the final papers."
Dark brightened a little and almost smiled - he grabbed the papers from Fuller's out-stretched hand, scanned them briefly and said, "Good work Fuller. I knew I picked the right man for the job. I won't forget this when the time comes to hand out bonuses. Okay, that will be all Fuller."
As Fuller turned and started to leave, Dark added, "Fuller, about that position I gave you as acting C.E.O. of Rain Incorporated..."
Fuller turned back to Dark and asked, "Yes sir?"
Dark sneered, "You're fired! Now get back to work."
Fuller backed out of Dark's office and closed the door quickly.
Dark spread the papers he received from Fuller on his desk, reading each one intently. When he'd finished the last page he scooped them up and waved them in the direction of the drawing of his prize project, now within his grasp. He muttered to himself, "I beat you! I won! Did you think you could best me you old witch?"
He ranted on, "I got your property at half the price I offered you, I guess you didn't realise who you were up against.
I am Daniel Abraham Ronald Kirtland, I am D.A.R.K. and I am the king! No one can beat me!"
He paced back and forth behind his desk, his hands clasped behind his back, still clutching the papers that guaranteed his success.
He thought, 'This is a good sign and not a minute too soon, only two days before I need to start construction. We'll have the ground breaking tomorrow. I'll set it up as soon as the messenger arrives from the Land Office and I have the deed in my hand.'
Dark appeared to be in a good mood for the rest of the day and he left the office early to play a round of golf on his way home.
He slept very well that night and rose early the next morning to begin planning the day's activities.
He arrived at the office building on a high note, pausing at the receptionist desk to instruct her.
"A messenger will be here this morning, he may be looking for a Mr. Fuller or Rain Incorporated, in either case send him straight to my office, understand?"
"Yes sir," she said as she made a note to that effect on her appointment pad.
Dark went to the chambers of his office where he paced back and forth impatiently waiting for the courier to arrive.
At ten-thirty his intercom buzzed. "It's about time," he mumbled to himself as he pushed the talk button on the device.
He grumbled, "Yes?"
His secretary answered, "A call for you on line one sir, a Mr. Trent from the Land Management Office."
Dark picked up the phone and bellowed, "Yes? What can I do for you Trent?" Dark seldom used the prefix Mr. when dealing with people he considered beneath him and he considered everyone beneath him.
On the other end of the line Mr. Trent answered. "Yes sir, I'm calling about a deed processed yesterday by a Mr. Fuller."
Dark replied, "Yes I know about that, so what's the problem?"
"Well," Mr. Trent continued, "Mr. Fuller signed the paperwork and deed as the C.E.O. of Rain Incorporated in favour of Dark Contracting."
Dark cut in, "And so?"
Mr. Trent replied, "It seems that Mr. Fuller is not the C.E.O. of Rain Incorporated."
Dark replied in earnest, "Of course he is, I own the company and as owner of Rain Incorporated I appointed him myself."
Mr. Trent went on, "Yes, you see that's the problem. Our research doesn't show you as the owner. According to our files the company is still in the name of the original owner. I am sure it's only a misunderstanding and as soon as you can clear this up we will be glad to finishing the filing procedure."
Dark slammed down the phone and pushed the intercom button at the same time. Without waiting for the secretary to answer he screamed, "Get me legal on the phone NOW!"
A moment later his phone rang; he jerked the receiver from the cradle and answered angrily, "Legal? This is Dark, who am I talking to?"
After a moment of silence a voice on the phone identified himself in a well-oiled snooty tone, "This is Mr. Leech of Casper, Clutch and Leech, attorneys at law, how may I be of assistance?"
Mr. Dark reflected for a second and thought, 'A lawyer named Leech? How appropriate.'
He turned his attention back to the phone again and in a voice heavy with menace he demanded, "Leech, I need you to check something out for me. A few years ago I arranged a buyout of a minor company called Rain Incorporated. I need to know all the particulars of that transaction."
Dark could hear file drawers being opened and closed, computer keyboards clicking and Leech making Hmmm sounds.
Mr. Leech came back on the phone saying, "I have everything right here. The deal consisted of buying the company outright from the children who inherited the place when their father passed away. To complete the sale required their combined signatures on all the paperwork."
Dark added, "Yes, I remember, I paid those two brats off in cash, they were so glad to get the dough they signed everything in sight without questioning anything. So what's the problem? We forget to sign somewhere?"
"No," Leech answered, "The problem is there are three children not two."
Dark howled loud enough to be heard in the outer offices.
"Three? Why wasn't I informed about this?"
Leech could be heard flipping through some papers and continued coolly, "You were Mr. Dark; a memo to that effect was dispatched by private messenger to your head of operations, a Mr. Kevin Hornstone."
Dark roared, "I'll get back to you."
He put down the phone and buzzed his secretary.
She answered quickly, as everyone by now realised that Mr. Dark was in an extremely foul mood and his patience level would be zero.
Dark bellowed, "Get a Mr. Kevin Hornstone on the phone for me right away, no better yet, have him come to my office."
Two minutes later his secretary buzzed him back, "Sir, The employee you requested was fired two years ago, for clocking in late."
Dark remembered the incident well; people were making a habit of coming in late, and he decided to make an example of them to get everybody back on track.
He assembled his entire staff by the time clock and checked their timecards. Three people were late and as they came in he had them stand together in the centre of the room.
He asked each one of the three why they were late, one replied because of traffic, the second said she had to drop her kids off at school because they missed their bus, the third, Mr. Kevin Hornstone claimed he was stopped at the door by a messenger.
Dark had drawn himself up as tall as he could and in his most acid voice announced, "None of those excuses are valid enough to excuse your tardiness. All of you are fired as of now. Clean out your desks and be off my property in five minutes. Let this be a lesson to the rest of you - if you can't be on time don't come in at all."
He turned without waiting for any further comments and returned to his desk.
"Well," he thought, "I suppose that explains why I never received the memo from the legal department."
He redialled Mr. Leech's office and when the lawyer answered Dark asked, "Who is this third person I need to pay off in order to finish up this deal?" Leech fumbled at his computer and then answered, "His name is Charles Rain, the youngest of the three siblings, his present whereabouts are unknown.
He is thought to be on safari in the Amazon rainforest."
Dark, a pro at handling adversity, said without hesitation,
"Okay, send me everything you have on Charles Rain."
Mr. Leech stated, "I anticipated your needs, the information has already been e-mailed to you, under the subject Charles Rain."
He buzzed his secretary, "Get me the entire employee list; put it up on my computer."
In a minute the list came up, Dark selected five people, all single and all with valid passports and all free to travel.
He forwarded the list to his secretary with some additional instructions, telling her to have the five meet with him in the conference room in ten minutes.
Dark entered the conference room; all five staff members were already present.
He addressed them curtly, "On the table in front of you are two packets, the first is everything we know about a man named Charles Rain, in the second you will find all the necessary forms we need for him to sign. This packet also includes a check made out to him. You will give this to him after he signs everything and you have faxed the information to me.
Ladies and gentlemen, I implore you, we do not have days, we have only hours. There will be a ten thousand dollar bonus to the person who accomplishes this task.
Good luck, the company jet is standing by at the airport and you will be briefed further during the flight.
Any questions? No? Good. On your way then, I look forward to a quick response."
With that Dark turned and left the conference room.
Back in his office Dark fumed about how much this glitch would cost him in time and money.
Bad news travels fast in the business world and at eleven o'clock his intercom buzzed, his secretary announcing that a Mr. Trench from the bank wished to talk with him.
Mr. Trench was a tall thin man, wearing a neatly pressed black pinstriped suit with a deep red tie.
His voice was deep and menacing as he introduced himself to Dark,
"I am Howard Trench. I represent the risk management department of the bank holding the papers on one of your projects; I believe you named it the Baker project."
His pale face tightened as he spoke, his black eyes were narrowed to mere slits and his thin lips formed a permanent frown.
He continued, "It has come to our attention there is a problem with one of the properties and you may not be able to meet your starting date. We have also been informed that two of your investors have pulled out."
This last came as a surprise to Dark, an unknown twist that he needed to cover.
Dark pretended to be informed of the events and replied, "Please have a seat," gesturing toward the chair in front of his desk.
"No need to worry, we are on top of the situation.
However, since you are here, I should like to extend our deadline for an additional week. We will have everything in place before then."
Trench deepened his scowl and replied, "I prefer to stand. As to an extension, that will be impossible without added collateral. I understand your house is worth a substantial amount; if you would be willing to add the property to your present collateral we could give you the extension."
Dark was shocked by this new turn of events; he already had put up the company and his other holdings to secure the deal to begin with, but he was too far in to back out now.
Dark grimaced and replied, "Fine, if that's what it takes I'll do it."
Mr. Trench added, "You understand if you default again, the bank will have no choice but to foreclose on all properties, real and otherwise."
For the first time in his business career Dark felt intimidated.
Mr. Trench concluded, "Fine, come by the bank this afternoon and we'll sign the paperwork. Good day Mr. Dark."
Trench turned and left the room leaving Dark alone to seethe about this latest turn of bad luck.
Three days passed without any news from the field crew and when the news came, it was all bad. First they told Dark that two of their members had come down with malaria and were sent home where they faced a long hospital stay. They also discovered that Charles Rain was no longer in the rain forest, but was climbing a mountain in Tibet so the remaining three were on their way to try to track him down.
To add to Dark's dilemma, more of the investors pulled out of the deal, placing Dark in the precarious position of shouldering all the expenses for the up-coming project.
In his office Dark paced back and forth, grumbling about the unfortunate turn of events,
he was sure the old lady had somehow caused this situation.
He cursed, "Damn you, Thelma Frost, I know somehow you have a hand in this."
The final days passed, the field crew failed to track down Charles Rain and the last of the backers pulled out, deciding it would be better to cut their losses than lose everything.
This left Dark standing alone as the sole person to be held responsible for the fiasco.
The final days elapsed.
When the last deadline passed the bank quickly foreclosed on all properties, including Dark's home, and placed his company in receivership.
Because the outstanding debt was so monumental the bank also froze Mr. Dark's personal funds.
For all practical purposes Dark was now penniless, jobless and homeless.
One week later Dark's ruthless run as a force to be reckoned with in the business world came crashing to an end with the resounding thud of a judge's gavel.
The court found in favour of the bank, confiscating Dark's holdings and liquefied all of his remaining assets.
He was left literally on the street, a fate from which he would never recover.
The Land Management Office, unable to get in touch with anyone at Dark's now defunct company, managed to contact Mr. Fuller at his home.
They advised him he needed to come by their office and pick up the paperwork he filed on the Frost property and return the deed to Mrs. Frost. Mr. Fuller agreed and dropped by the next morning.
As he waited at the Land Management Office he was approached by a gentleman in a neat dark gray suit.
The man introduced himself as Mr. Rave.
He said, "You're Fuller aren't you?"
He nodded and Rave went on, "I heard about you, you're the guy that got the Frost property for Dark right? Got it for a song, I heard."
Fuller nodded again, not wanting to discuss the event.
Rave continued, "We could use a man like you in our company, I'm sure we can find a place for you. Here, take my card, drop by my office in the morning and let's discuss the possibilities."
He accepted the business card and the invitation, shaking hands with Rave and promising to see him first thing in the morning.
Fuller thought, "Well that's a turn of good luck, I was worried about where I'd find a position, now that Dark has gone belly up."
The clerk called Fuller's name and he stepped to the desk.
The clerk handed him a folder containing all the paperwork he had filled out with Mrs. Frost.
He left the office and five minutes later pulled up in front of Mrs. Frost's home.
He knocked on her door and she invited him in for tea.
While drinking the tea he related all that had happened since his last visit, concluding with, "So, I brought all the paperwork and the deed back to you." Mrs. Frost smiled sweetly and said, "Oh posh, I don't care about this property anymore, I've found a lovely place in the country and will relocate there next week. Why don't you keep it?"
Fuller, taken aback by this replied, "No, I couldn't Mrs. Frost, but thank you anyway. Don't you have a relative or someone you could leave it to?"
Mrs. Frost considered thoughtfully for a minute and replied, "Well I do have a family member, my brother's youngest son. I have always felt bad for him since his father died. Yes, that would do fine, I'll give the property to him. Could you take care of that for me Mr. Fuller?"
Fuller answered, "Of course, I would be happy to, now if you'll just give me his name, I'll take care of everything."
Mrs. Frost smiled innocently,
"His name? Why yes, his name is Charles Rain."

The End
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