It had been assumed Kerri Saunders would succeed her mother, in
time, as the social queen of Falcon City. The Saunders' money was
old money, made from pelts and timber and then farm machinery,
chemicals, cosmetics and then the money gouging machine seemed to
run out of puff, or was it steam, diesel or swamp water?
It didn't much matter because the multi-millions had been
prudently invested in securities in seventeen different countries
where corruption was genteel and taxation was considered an
embarrassing impost so was applied lightly. And thus the money
tree prospered. Successive generations of principal family
siphoned off their entitlements but were unable to touch the base
funds at source and so the cash flow continued unabated, almost
untouched by human hand.
Thelma Saunders had come home from France to help prepared for
her elder daughter's wedding, entranced by the thought that Kerri
after having two children would be ready to become her protégé to
preside over Falcon's social circuit, just as her mother had
groomed her as successive mothers in the family had done for
But days later it was catastrophe. Kerri was left standing at the
altar. Well not quite. Kevin Close called her two nights before
wedding day and said, "Kerri, I'm sorry I cannot proceed with the
wedding. I love another. Daniel and I leave this country tomorrow
tonight to find our destiny together. It's been lovely knowing
"What, what did you say Kevin? Oh god, he's dropped me. MOTHER!"
Mother Thelma answered the scream and found it strange she really
didn't have to calm her daughter. Kerri snarled, "I sensed he was
a fucking gay. All the whispering with Daniel when those two were
out with us dinning. You made a poor choice of chauffer mommy.
He's stolen the man you insisted I should marry."
"Well these things happen darling. You have time to have one more
shot before I'd find it necessary to replace you with your
"Well, why don't you go that right now mother. I'm off."
"Off to release anger and then get a job."
"A job? No one would hire you. You don't know how to work
darling. It's not something our family does."
"Goodbye mother. Please get your social secretary to send out
cancellation notices. She may say I'm heartbroken, and after
picking out the wedding gifts you'd like to keep, get Helen to
return the remainder."
"Yes dear. So this is goodbye?"
"Indeed it is mother. Kiss-kiss."
"Kiss-kiss darling. You have been a wonderful daughter. If you
return you will be placed close by on the perimeter along with my
sisters and your father's sisters and the two surviving
"Understood mother. Say goodbye to daddy for me."
"Yes of course although you could take him with you if you wish?"
"No mother. My repositioning in life will go better if I regard
myself as socially adrift. I'll then not be tied by social
And so Kerri Saunders, aged twenty-five, went to her room and
packed her trousseau and left the Saunders' Estate.
* * *
Next morning Kerri Saunders awoke in her room in a dingy rooming
house to face reality. She had been dreaming although it was true
Kevin Close had dropped her two days out from the wedding.
Kerri's parents were far from being wealthy. Her father Archie, a
drunkard, was secretary of the Town & Country Club where his
addiction was not noticed because he fitted the scene so well.
The club was unable to attract sober members.
Her mother taught French at the nearby high school and the family
lived in a 30-year-old unstylish suburban home that looked like
most others in their neighborhood: nondescript.
Kerri possessed a master's in business management and had
resigned recently to prepare for her marriage. She broke down and
cried when receiving Kevin's call of rejection and her mother
Thelma simply said something sensible: "You'll have to just get
on with your life darling." And then added in her typically
practical manner, "You go off and mope. There are only
twenty-five guests to call and I'll do that and I'll ask them to
call to retrieve their presents and to have coffee with your
father and me."
Soon after that Kerri left dragging just the one suitcase on
Late that next evening Kevin Close was staggering home from the
bar a short distance from his parents' home when he was clouted
over the head with a baseball bat. He shot up an arm to protect
his head from receiving a second blow and had that arm broken. As
he fell a blow across his knee shattered his patella.
It was terrible for him. He was left on the pavement unable to
move and the baseball bat had rattled on to the sidewalk beside
him and he was kicked in the balls. Although in agony he watched
gloved hands pick up the bat and heard his assailant walk away
chuckling. It was perhaps as bad for him as for a girl being
humiliated at being dumped two days out from her wedding. Nay, it
would be worse, much worse.
Not unexpectedly the police went after the chief suspects.
Kerri's parents had alibis, hosting four friends at home at a
dinner party and the friends confirmed their hosts had been in
the room with them for the past three hours. Like all parents,
Thelma and Archie didn't know where their daughter was.
"Try rooming houses downtown," Thelma suggested helpfully.
Two cops in a patrol car spotted Kerri walking away from a cinema
and she was taken in for questioning. The driver's female partner
would report that the suspect expressed 'absolutely delight' that
her 'absconded bridegroom' had been beaten up and left
incapacitated on a sidewalk with broken bones and severe
bruising. The suspect then added, "It serves the skunk right."
After intensive questioning Kerri was allowed to leave but
ordered not to leave the city and to supply the police with a
forwarding address if she left the rooming house. No one appeared
to have witnessed the attack. The victim did not see or even hear
his assailant and Kerri didn't own a baseball bat and she'd
denied being anywhere else in the past four hours prior to
questioning apart from Benny's Seafood Restaurant and watching
the film, "Gay Girls in Paris." It was noted in the police report
that Kerri gave 'a speedy, lengthy and accurate summary' of the
film that one of the interviewing offices had seen earlier that
afternoon and confirmed the accuracy of Kerri's résumé. A
waitress confirmed serving Kerri in that restaurant.
An outgoing police patrol cooperatively dropped Kerri off near
her rooming house. She walked into a bar and ordered a martini.
"Hi babe," said a guy sitting down from her. "What's up?"
"The cops pulled me in for questioning and have just let me go."
Kerri glared at the guy and said get fucked.
"I'm sorry miss. That just came out. I'm addicted to enunciating
Kerri had to smile and thought enunciating was a big word to hear
from a barfly.
"I've popped in for a drink on my way home."
Kerri said, "What four hours ago?"
The guy looked hurt and said no, half an hour ago and asked why
did she have it in for him.
In need of company, Kerri said, "Come closer and I'll tell you my
"Can we listen in?" asked one of two tough-looking women sitting
on the other side of her.
"Yeah, why not. And you too miss behind the bar and your
colleague when he's finished loading the dishwasher."
Kerri began the story, telling how eighteen months ago she met
this guy Kevin Close who seduced her on their third date.
"What was wrong with him honey?" asked one of the older women.
"Did he forget to ask on the first and second nights?"
Everyone laughed and Kerri lost her smile when she talked about
being jilted two days before the wedding and how a few hours ago
her ex-bridegroom had been savagely beaten with a baseball bat
"So I was picked up by the cops a minute after leaving a movie
house and taken in for questioning and have just been let go."
"Did you do it?" the guy who'd first spoken to her asked.
"No, and I repeated that denial to the cops three times."
"Have you been told you are the chief suspect?" asked the woman
behind the bar.
"I was told I was the only suspect."
"What evidence is there against you?" asked the barman.
"So far none, only circumstantial. The baseball bat has not been
"Did you wear gloves?" asked the other older woman deceptively.
"Very funny" Kerri glared. Everyone who understood the loaded
Kerri was asked about her alibi and describing it as flimsy she
The man who'd first spoken to her said it was all very well
claiming she'd been at that cinema but she could have been there
earlier in the day and recited her convincing summary from that
Most of Kerri's listeners agreed that was a possibility.
The man asked, "Did the cops try that theory on you?"
"God, small wonder we are at the mercy of criminals."
The bar staff went back to work and the two women resumed
chatting in whispers. The guy stood and approached Kerri. "The
name is Cassidy Cohen. May I walk you home?"
"For your safety. Then again you might need a cuddle tonight
after your experiences of recent days."
Kerri thought about that and found his reference to 'a cuddle'
"How do I know I'm safe with you?"
Cassidy said she didn't. "Look, I'll just walk you to your door
if it's close by, as I think it's likely to be, and then will
continue on my way."
They stood outside the rooming house. Cassidy said it was one of
the better ones around.
She asked was he married and was told no.
It was winter and the night was cold. "Look," he said, talking
off his hat presumably so she could see him clearly. "Are you
looking for a job?"
"And I would like to see more of you, a great deal more. Perhaps
we can come to terms. Say I spend a couple of hours with you and
I'll guarantee you two week's work. More if you are good."
Cassidy looked surprised. "Aren't you going to try to bargain?"
"No. I really would appreciate some company tonight. I'll do it
with you without any condition other than you use a condom."
"Done deal. We better proceed quietly because the notice says no
guests in rooms after 10:00 pm and its gone 10:00."
"Providing you don't fuck me too hard I won't make too much
"Good girl," Cassidy grinned, taking Kerri by the arm softly,
making no attempt to drag her through the entrance in indecent
Kerri sat on the bed after removing her hat and thick coat.
"Oh my, you have real…um…breasts."
"Don't all women?"
Revealing his experience Cassidy said, "Not like those ones."
He paused, hands on the top of her front-buttoned shirt. "You act
like a hooker but you don't appear to be one."
"I wonder why?"
"And you are so clever you almost confuse me."
"I wonder why?"
They looked at his fingers on the top button, twitching.
"Go on or go and I'll cry myself to sleep in loneliness."
Cassidy almost ripped the buttons open.
"You smell fresh and these clothes look new."
"Of course they are. They're from my trousseau."
"Then everything you've said tonight is true?"
With a faraway look in her eyes Kerri said, "All except one thing
but don't expect me to identify which one."
"Oh god, am I safe being with you?"
She smiled and curled the curl hanging over his forehead. "Get
between my legs and you'll be very safe."
Cassidy finished with fondling the breasts and undressed. Kerri
gasped when she saw his erection. She'd learned from limited
experience that cocks could be very ugly but this one was a cut
above. She observed it had been cut and felt the desire to suck
that knob, so did so, and soon had Cassidy as her temporary
As Kerri wiped her dripping mouth and chin Cassidy said, as his
soaring blood pressure began to subside, "You don't have to
continue if you wish."
"I am willing…"
"Cassidy, put the fucking thing in me. I'm desperate to have
someone's arms around me and to whisper sweet nothings into my
ear. Kevin Close taught me to expect this almost every night and
I seek continuation."
Agog, Cassidy said, "You mean I can do this to you every night?"
'PUT THE FUCKING THING INTO ME CASSIDY!"
"Shhhhh. You'll upset the sleeping equilibrium of this
establishment, bringing the house manager running. Here we go. Oh
it feels like beautiful velvet and is so tight around me. You are
a fool Kevin Close."
"If you want to fuck me ever night never mention that name
again," hissed Kerri Madeline Saunders, whose eyes rolled back
and she groaned as Cassidy completely docked and he leaned down
and stretched her left nipple to a ridiculous length with his
"Bang me Cassidy."
Cassidy Cohen left during the night.
Kerri awoke in the morning to find he'd stuffed a towel between
her legs that must have been oozing heaps. People were moving
about, doors banging, some folk shouting. She yawned and then saw
the note on the dresser.
'Hi, you were great. If you wake up to find this in time meet me
across the road at 8:00 at Helen's Diner. We need to be at the
office by 8.30 but it's only two minutes from Helen's'. The note
included a phone number. Kerri looked at the clock and dashed for
the bathroom and then dressed and reached the diner by 8:15 in
time for coffee and her customary two pieces of lightly done
toast with a skim of marmalade.
The rude Helen looked at her and said, "This one is classier than
your usual broad Cass."
As Helen waddled off Kerri lost her class and poked her tongue as
the retreating mass. Cassidy laughed and Kerri asked could she
call him Cass. He said yes and looked very pleased. She felt more
than pleased and hoped she wasn't in love with him, knowing the
danger of a brainless off-the-wall rebound that any girl faced
just after being jilted.
Kerri boggled when she saw the name of the substantial four-level
building was 'Cohen Building Est. 1966'.
Cass saw what Kerri was looking at. "Established by my late
grandfather. Mom and dad were a mixed marriage. We buy packaged
damaged product, over-runs, product requiring packaging and
on-sell it to bulk distributors."
"What sort of product?"
"Any thing that takes dad's fancy. He must approve every proposed
"What is your business plan?" asked the business graduate.
"To make money, lots of it."
Kerri marveled at the simplicity of that and thought the business
department at her college could learn a thing or two from
real-world business people like the Cohens. So much bullshit
surrounded academic learning, probably to keep the little empires
of professors expanding to increase their salaries.
They rode to the top floor in a creaky elevator and arrived
safely. Kerri thought the whole place could do with a good clean.
"Your cleaners do a lousy job."
"We don't have cleaners. Everyone is responsible for their own
work center and everyone from dad down picks up paper and other
debris and occasionally clean the inside of a window and women
run a roster to clean the toilets and hand basins.
Oh so simple, so incredibly simple although undoubtedly not
approved by teaching institutes and health and safety
authorities, Kerri thought.
"Who was the genius who thought up that system?"
"Grandma. She and granddad were Jewish immigrants. The tradition
has continued. If newly hired people don't like it they are
invited to look elsewhere for a job."
A traditional Jewish face appraised Kerri as Cass introduced his
father to her.
"Welcome to our family business Kerri. Call me by my name which
"Thank you Matt."
"And call me Vienna which is my name," said a plump woman who
swept into the room and Kerri could tell by the way she looked at
Cass she was her mother. When Cass had said his parents were a
mixed marriage Kerri had automatically assumed his mother would
be Afro-American, French or perhaps a woman of South American
origin. But the accent was perhaps Texan.
"What a lovely name," Kerri said, anxious to impress, and the
mother said the same could be said of Kerri.
"And the reason for Kerri being here?" Matt asked, cocking an
"She needs a job. I said I would give her one for two weeks and
if she proved any good she could be offered permanent work."
"You should make Kerri your girlfriend. She is far classier than
most of the women you walk out with," sniffed his mother.
"That could happen. Cass slept with me last night."
Vienna beamed and Matt stared studiously out the window. Kerri
saw Cass was standing with a hand under an elbow that that other
hand was over his eyes. Why was he embarrassed?
"Miss Saunders," Matt intoned. "I do not accept promiscuity. It
"Spare me the lecture Mr Cohen. If you don't wish me to work here
or to associate with your son then instruct him. Otherwise just
accept this is me and my right to choose."
"Now look here young lady…"
"Shut up Matt. Go through and sign Kerri on and try to find her
something that doesn't demean her or do who know what you'd like
to do Kerri, although I guess you haven't toured our operation
"Something in management please."
"Kerri," Vienna began, "I don't think you understand. You won't
have a clue about management."
"Oh but I do Vienna but will need intense on-job tuition. I have
just competed a master's in business management and I have gained
limited experience in a range of management positions between
semesters and I have worked in my father's factory since I was
six years old. His plant makes golf accessories."
The three Cohen's looked quite stunned.
Then Matt said, "This is a traditional business Kerri. I don't
want anything around here changed. Do you understand?"
"Shut up Matt," said Vienna. "After you sign Kerri on bring her
to me Matt and I'll take her on tour. Then the four of us will
meet together at 1:30 at Lucy's for lunch where Kerri will report
Kerri looked anxiously at Matt. "I don't want to change anything,
I really don't. It's not my responsibility."
"All I'm asking is you report impressions Kerri."
"Oh. Thank you Vienna."
In his office with the nameplate of administration manager, Cass
smiled and kissed and hugged Kerri. "You enterprising thing -
you've really split my parents apart."
"Oh!" Kerri wailed.
"No, stop it. You don't understand. Those two were born to scrap.
They thrive on conflict and after all these years remain deeply
in love but not on the surface, if you get what I mean. Dad's
father forbade him to marry a non-Jew and there was a terrible
fight and dad was hospitalized. His father refused to visit him
in hospital. The day dad returned to work he went into
grandfather's office, locked the door, took off his jacket and
rolled up his sleeves, saying, 'We have unfinished business to
attend to.' Granddad flicked ash off his cigar, studied dad for a
moment, and then said, "If you love her that much you'd better
marry her. You are entitled to make one major mistake in your
Wiping at tears, Kerri sniffed, "Oh what a fabulously romantic
"What? Granddad was twice the size of dad. Had they traded blows
again he could have killed dad."
"But he wouldn't have and didn't Cass. Don't you see? That is
what romance is all about. It's about the unseen energies that
bind people and the poetry that emanates from that."
"Oh god Cass, do I have some work to do on you."
Cass groaned. "This place will never be the same again when you
team up with my mother and stimulate her."
"Stop it Cass. That's naughty and disrespectful of your mother.
She is entitled to have passion and ideas. It's no longer a man's
Cass sniffed. "I don't know why I allow you to talk to me like
"Well that's a promising start. Will you walk out with me at