Sara's Satelites

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Reviews for Romance


contemporary urban romance

Submitted: May 09, 2018

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Submitted: May 09, 2018

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Raymond Crane

 

 

sara’s satelites

 

 

 

1

 

It was sunny for May in Switzerland. These times, with climate change the whole planet was turning topsy-turvy, even the Alps were bereft of snow, and the peaks showed dull brownish with yellow patches where the sun beamed down from space.

Sara entered the cyber-centre intending just to send a few e-mails, her computer had crashed. She had brought it here yesterday to be repaired or adjusted, or whatever these computer people did to keep the show on the road. She had not been on the look out but she remembered the assistant from the day before, a girl wearing a blue faded t-shirt that had, Single and Available, printed on the front. Yes, it was her behind the counter smiling and Sara was surprised to hear the girl say, ‘Hello gorgeous!’

Sara sat at the computer as some crashing bassy punk rock played on the sound system. She didn’t really connect with it but it seemed to fill a gap after the noise of the street. This computer was the latest and had all the fittings and equipment to do just about anything, and super-quick. As Sara focused the web-cam she felt a presence behind her. The girl in the T-shirt; she said, ‘my names Sylvia, if you want anything just give me a whistle.’

Sara said, ‘OK and my name is Sara, glad to meet you.’

‘If the music is too loud or not what you like I can change it, everything can change and it often does,’ continued Sylvia, obviously wanting to strike up a conversation.

‘No, that’s fine,’ replied Sara, a bit amused by Sylvia’s commentary.

Sara sent her e-mail with the image of her face to her agent in Milan. It was just a routine communication and Sara liked to send an image of herself whenever she could. Her agent was a fashion house manager who often sent her photos of outfits; with details of photo shoots, hotel bookings and travel info. Sara had worked for the modelling agency for only a year but she was enjoying the whole thing so much that she had almost forgotten her real goal was to be a designer. She wanted to improve the range of styles available to the average person and she believed that she had talent, a certain flair for matching colours, mixing fabrics and providing that exotic touch which had been becoming more sought after. The informal look, comfortable and practical was what she aimed for, that is, when she found time to actually put her notions into practice.

Sara’s apartment was right in the centre of Bern, the Capital and from there she felt she had a commanding view not only of the city but of the whole of Europe. Yes, Europe seemed to be at her feet only waiting to receive the designs for clothing that she, and only she, could create. Although many of her ideas for the creating of fashion had derived from browsing foreign magazines and videos she felt that she was in a privileged position to bring these unusual styles onto the European market. In the future she saw herself not only designing but also to have her own modelling agency where it was planned that she would employ those exotic beauties, both male and female whom she had seen in strange lands with strange names.

Sara looked up from the computer screen, the centre was crowding, with a group of Arabic looking boys at the back, so self-absorbed and seemingly carrying their world around with them in their hearts and minds, manners of speech and gesticulations. Sara felt an impulse to go talk with them, to experience a little of that world, so foreign and yet so attractive.

As Sara walked out of the computer centre she passed a computer at the side where a rather plumpish boy; dressed all in black and with many adornments – rings, and chains on his neck, sat and was talking to Sylvia who glanced up at Sara and gave her that lingering smile. Sara felt compelled to speak, ‘I’ll be coming in here everyday until my computer is fixed so can I get a discount?’

‘Well, Sara,’ said Sylvia seemingly delighted to be spoken to, ‘we have a bono of ten hours for five Euros and I’ll give you a coffee, free.’

Sara acknowledged Sylvia’s interested look with a smile and, ‘OK thanks.’

‘That is Tim Golden,’ Sylvia gestured towards a passing figure.

Tim, officially known as Timothy, but amongst friends as Timmy or simply, Time.

‘Oh really! Sylvie! You’ll just have to stop name-dropping,’ said the figure.

‘Like I said,’ continued Sylvia, ‘That’s Tim.’

She paid her five Euros and left, only then noticing the sign at the front- ‘Higher Ground.’ 

 

 

2

 

Sara was recalling her day. She remembered the girl Sylvia as she cooked some scrambled eggs to have with her baguette. Sylvia was rather unusual in herself, that girl, she had her hair cut short but curly with ringlets at the back. She appeared to be one of the new breed of girl who seemed to want something more from life, not just a home in the suburbs and a bunch of kids to run after.

There were a group of girls Sara had gone to finishing school with, five altogether, and Sara sent messages to them almost daily or when she could find a breathing space in her busy life. These girls were like Sara, wealthy girls who had various occupations causing them to travel a lot, so Sara never knew who would be where and when.

Sylvia was different, Sara knew, at least that was her impression after their short repartee. The next day Sylvia invited Sara for a coffee. They went after Sara had spent two hours text messaging her friends, one of whom was in Mexico, and Sylvia got the plump boy, Porky, to fill in for her. They chose a nearby Café, the Van Gogh where Sylvia said she often went with someone from the computer centre or met people there during the day.

‘You looked amazing when you walked into the Higher Ground. Just what was on your mind?’ said Sylvia.

‘I was looking for a new set of ideas but failing that I really just wanted to get my computer fixed,’ replied Sara.

‘Just call me Sylvie,’ said Sylvia in a flippant casual voice that begged familiarity. She went on to say that she had been working at that computer centre for three years. She was a bright, cheerful soul and Sara immediately warmed to her. Sara didn’t have siblings and usually when she got to know a new girl or boy she thought of that person as a sister or brother. She felt compelled to confide and to learn more about life by listening intently, to not only the surface expressions but to the deeper story, the meaning of life for that person at that particular time.

Sylvie wasn’t surprised to hear that Sara was American, or at least born in the States. But, she said she couldn’t tell by Sara’s accent. Sara had had to explain that she had travelled a lot and for three years had been at a boarding school where she had studied French, German, Italian and Spanish as well as archery, fencing, and judo. Sara could do rather well in these languages, at least the basics, and that was why Sylvie had found it difficult to pick out her accent.

‘It’s not unusual here,’ said Sylvie, ‘most people can speak three languages fluently.’

‘I know, isn’t it fantastic, not like in a lot of other countries where the locals wouldn’t bother to learn even a second language,’ said Sara.

Sara explained that she was a photographic fashion model. Sylvie was excited, ‘perhaps I have seen you, or your picture, in a magazine, you do look familiar, and beautiful. She leaned over her coffee and winked, ‘damn gorgeous!’

‘Well thanks,’ exclaimed Sara, she wasn’t actually expecting it and she wasn’t so inexperienced not to recognise that it was more than surface beauty that Sylvie found such an interesting attraction that she had had to confess her sexual preference.

Sara and Sylvie met everyday for the next week. Then Sylvie invited Sara to her flat for a meal. It was later in the day but that didn’t concern Sara, she accepted.

Making it clear from the start that she was just a normal kind of girl, Sara explained that boys, or guys, had been the main concern of her friends at boarding school and because the school took males as well as girls there had been quite a lot of fraternising and no lack of opportunity for everyone to get the sexual experience that they wanted, in fact it had been rather an obsession with most of her compañeras at that time. Things of course had cooled once she left that almost closed close environment but she emphasised, she still managed to meet exciting boys, and men on her jaunts to foreign places.

This didn’t phase Sylvie, she merely recounted how she felt attracted to both men and women, ‘although not all, they have to be special,’ she exclaimed smiling.

‘Of course you’re only attracted to certain types but it’s always nice to know that another person finds you appealing. I often tease boys that I wouldn’t normally care a fig for, and it’s only because I love to be flattered, to hear someone say, ‘you’re gorgeous,’ or some silly thing about my legs or my hair. After all I put in a lot of time trying to appear sexy, it’s the fashion look but it’s not for everyone, some people like looking offbeat.’

‘Well,’ said Sylvie, moving a little closer on the sofa, ‘you do look gorgeous! And I hope because I make myself look punkish that you still find me physically appealing. I mean we haven’t known each other very long but I could tell when you first walked into the ‘Higher Ground’ that there was magic in you, and it’s deeper than your body or face, it’s something that really gets to me like a fruit that would be so good to taste the flavour of, to know you as your eyes seem to promise. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe it is just a tease but honestly it drives me wild!’

It wasn’t an innocent Sara that heard these impassioned words, she had had the experience of quite a few boys, and also men who were sometimes twice her age and it was an even less innocent Sara who departed from Sylvie’s flat the next morning.

Sara had had to rationalise, thinking; I want to have adventures before I get married, I want to be able to say I have lived a full life. I want to experience many sides of life and to know profoundly many kinds of people. If I can’t meet the people of my own culture and know them intimately how will I get to know people from different countries, cultures and continents, indeed other hemispheres. And I want my life to be rich in knowing the peoples of this earth, they belong to so many different worlds. It’s no substitute to know them vicariously by reading books or watching videos; the internet has certain possibilities but I must know more deeply, I must know others souls, and I will not be afraid to be adventurous, at least not while I am young and privileged, for to be a fortunate child one must be grateful and in one’s gratitude reach out to others. These were, then, Sara’s thoughts as she admitted to herself that she had enjoyed the touch of a woman, a female not unlike herself. She had ‘made’ a friend and sometimes friends stay friends always. She liked Sylvie and it was just a hitch in the web of time that she had then to go on a photo-shoot for some perfume company in Milan. It was usually Milan, but sometimes some beach resort where a group of models would pose for a week or two in the latest swimsuits. She was soon back in the swim, but she had a memory that she cherished and she longed to be once more in Bern where she knew every street, every plaza, every park and now she knew another place, the ‘Higher Ground.’

 

 

3

 

Sara’s thoughts on that Milan photo-shoot were often with Sylvie, it seemed like destiny had knocked on Sara’s door, however she felt that what had happened was just a fling, a oncer, a wild yielding to temptation that would bind their friendship but not reoccur.

Her thoughts were also occasionally with those Arabic looking boys that had been participating in what looked like a continual party, a celebration and a sharing of the spirit of their mutual background that Europeans had all but lost in the competitiveness of existence that crowded out mere friendship from busy days, so full of routine and the mundane.

She had met several boys like those boys two years ago, in the summer holidays she had been with her father in the city of Istanbul. Her father had business to attend to and left her for a week alone at their hotel. One boy she had talked to in the Grand Bazaar and another near one of the mosques, the blue one; she recalled that time.

Sara’s father had been in the fashion industry for ten years, operating a chain of boutiques in Turkey. It was a franchise of a great European owned fashion house and her father was the director for all of Turkey. He had trained to be an accountant like his father but took courses on management and marketing because he was an ambitious kind of man. He had wanted the high life, to mix with glamorous models and feel some power over his life, sort of breaking free. His name was rather … flash, Sara thought, it was Van Dyke. He had divorced from Sara’s mother eight years earlier to escape from what he believed was a terribly repressive Victorian style marriage. Now he was with different women from year to year. He loved variety, although he was a handsome man of forty-five who attracted all kinds of women; socialites, business women, and of any nationality – he usually fell for the models that paraded his products and appeared in magazines.

Van Dyke had fought through the divorce courts to gain custody of Sara, he wouldn’t trust his wife to raise her, and he cared for her more than anyone, absolutely spoiled her and had allowed Sara freedoms that other teenagers could not have. Sara had grown precocious and mature beyond her years, she emulated the lifestyle of the models that her father held up as the most valuable, if not possessions, conquests, then status symbols of his success in a world he believed he was a star performer in.

Sara respected and admired her father though she felt her values were a little different. Her world may be privileged but it still allowed for respect for other worlds, other peoples whom she believed had a right to their own cultural expression and not to be merely consumers of European business concerns that monopolised the standards and designs of modern fashion.

The nights of parading in Milan had tired her of the stereotype she herself was quickly becoming. Her hair was blonded but of course could be changed for something else. Her clothes were daring, the shortest of skirts, the tightest of shorts and always the plunging neckline. No wonder Sylvie had taken so to her enchanting image. Dear Sylvie, was she missing her-she texted, she sent e-mails to her, she thought often of Sylvie.

 

 

4

 

It was a blazing summer warmer each year and the nights seemed more Mediterranean than anything Sara had known previously in Switzerland. Returning to her adopted home Sara headed straight for the Higher Ground. Sylvie was not on duty that day instead she spoke with Porky and a guy named Tim that she vaguely remembered.

Sara liked Tim from their first introduction, he was tall, thin and with that Latin look that she so much liked. He swaggered and then glanced quickly away in the glowing space within the big room of computers.

‘You’ll have to wait for a special part to arrive from Rotterdam. It may be three more weeks until we have it fixed. Do you want a replacement until then, I can install it in your flat.’ Tim was another smiler like Sylvie and Sara felt at ease while yet believing that this boy or man – he must be five years older than her, was taken with her appearance and she was expecting an offer of coffee in his next expression.

‘Yes, if you can, bring it to my place this afternoon.’ She wanted to get this boy on her own ground away from Porky and the thin crowd at the Higher Ground.

‘Well, I can’t this afternoon but if you’re not busy this evening I’m free around six, is that OK?’ Tim beamed in on her eyes fixing her with an encouraging stare.

‘Yes,’ replied Sara a little too enthusiastically. ‘Six will be fine and if you have the time we can talk.’

‘Yeh! OK.’ Tim fired back his optimistic affirmation.

 

... ....

 

 

At six that evening Sara sat on her sofa; the blue shade of her flat looking pale and comforting.  At five past six the buzzer rang, she pressed the answer button, Tim was on the screen, ‘It’s me,’ he said and she pressed the front door release button. She saw the lower part of his head pass the screen.

He came into her flat with the computer on his shoulder and stopped in the middle of her salon. He was taller in the smaller room, ‘Where do you want it?’ he said.

‘Want what?’ Sara smiled.

‘The computer of course,’ he smiled back in a bewildered sort of way.

‘Sugarground. Isn’t that Sugarground on the stereo?

‘Yes it is.’

‘But isn’t that what paedophiles call a children’s playground?’

‘Yes, but it’s house and they are hot in Central European cafes right now.’

‘Oh really!’

Sara had a penthouse suite in Swain Towers, central Bern. Her father had insisted on buying it for her.

 

 

‘In here, in my study,’ she directed him into an even smaller room, rather sparsely furnished but with a definite desk for a computer and one of those ergonomic chairs that are made of chrome and leather.

‘Well that’s it.’ he stacked the keyboard down in front of the monitor and leaned on her desk. ‘What now?’

‘A drink for thanks,’ she smiled.

They sat on the sofa and she poured two glasses of cerveza from bottles on the table.

‘These paintings, I recognise some of them. Isn’t that Bonnard and that one Leonnard. They must be worth thousands’

‘The two alone are worth more than 10,000 Euros. Daddy furnished the place, but I would have preferred Van Gogh or some contemporary expressionist’

‘Oh! Really!’ Tim didn’t know much about the contemporary art scene however these seemed perfectly expressionistic to him. He glanced around at the plush furnishings.

‘Well it’s nice of you to invite me for a chat, it beats texting or talking on the phone.’

‘That’s fine but what do you mean?’

‘I mean, I spend about four hours a day chatting or using the internet and a lot of time talking to the crew on the phone so it’s great to actually be speaking to someone like you face to face.’

‘What do you mean – someone like me?  Am I that unusual?’

‘You stand out like a diamond in the rough, excuse the expression.’ Tim was sprawled out on the sofa with the beer in his hand and he couldn’t take his eyes off her.

‘You’re a strange one; I’m never quite sure what you mean. But I can assure you I know how to take a compliment when I’m certain I’m getting one.’ Sara leaned forward exposing a good portion of her bust.

‘Well,’ Tim grinned seemingly unable to control himself.  ‘We get all kinds in the Higher Ground, mostly foreigners, but I’ve never seen one like you.’  He took a short sip of his beer.  ‘Actually we’ve got a franchise on two internet centres Higher Ground 1 and 2, the other one is near the lake about five kilometres away. And the Higher Ground is not only the two centres but a group of ten people who run a computer fraud smashing service. We track cases of fraudulent use of bank accounts and credit cards and find the criminals who do the crimes. It’s a Europe wide action with organised gangs operating in all major cities. Actually we’re hackers, all ten of us at Higher Ground. - Actually, the social vectors around there really bug me.’

‘Is it the story or the personalities?’

‘The story I think. I need a bigger canvas for my talent.’

‘It’s not the end of the world. It’s the beginning.’

Sara outlined her background; her origin in the States, the finishing school and her work. Tim was impressed; he must have taken a new view of her because he just thanked her for the beer and excused himself. A kiss on both cheeks and he was gone.

 

She remembered a prayer from when she was a child. The first part she knew by heart but the last part was added in haste -  Keep me safe, Keep me warm, Shelter me from darkness – and give me Tim.

 

... ....

 

A few days later Sara and Tim met at the Van Gogh café.

‘I only have one real problem,’ said Tim divulgently.

‘Oh what’s that,’ replied Sara with a sense of curiosity.

‘I have a reoccurring dream. I’m walking along a mountain path in the Andes, it’s on a sheer cliff and very dangerous. I walk for a long time but that is not truly the problem, it’s when I trip and fall off the cliff, it always happens. Well, I have this dream only occasionally. -  When I fall I find myself starting to fly just like an eagle. That’s when I have figured it out – that I get out of bed and start sleep walking. It’s really strange that I walk down the stairs out the front door and I find myself or am found in front of a bar across the road.’

‘That’s super-strange. I’ve read something about dream interpretation and they say that flying dreams mean that you want to escape from something,’ said Sara.

‘Well I don’t think I want to escape, more like- grow. I feel Higher Ground is just a step in my career, it’s just for survival but one day I want to extend myself and apply all my knowledge about information technology.’

‘I hope you can and do Tim. I hope your chance will come and if you hope hard enough it’s sure to come true.’

‘Yes, I hope so too but meanwhile this sleep walking has been going on for about two years and I’m worried about crossing the road when I’m asleep. You see I’m not aware of the traffic when I’m out there in the middle of the night.’

‘That’s a real problem you have but in time I’m sure it will be resolved and won’t happen ever again,’ Sara smiled consolingly.

 

 

5

 

The following night Sara got a call from Sylvie. She had heard Sara was back and invited her to a meeting and party of the Higher Ground crew. Tim was taking them in his car, picking Sara up at mid-night.

They arrived at Checkers Night Club about twelve thirty. As Sara looked around she saw Porky at a table in a corner with two other men. The crew and their friends had one side of the club to themselves and were already getting drinks and snacks from the long bar to the left of the entrance doors. The music was trance/jazz, a coolish mix that appealed to Sara. The three of them sat at a rectangular table and were soon joined by a woman and man that Sara was introduced to as being, Katie and Samson. These two appeared to be a couple as they sat very close to each other, a touching scene.

During the course of the following four hours Sara met all of the crew, including Ingrid, The Cat, Simon, Knuckles, Ronald and Raul. They were an interesting lot, however it was mostly with Sylvie and Tim that Sara talked. At one stage Sara was speaking to Katie, a woman of about twenty five, who informed Sara of the origins of the name Higher Ground. It was an old idea possibly from The Cat or Raul who were some of the earliest members to join the crew. The basic idea concerned the fact of global warming and the effect of the melting of the polar ice caps. When the process was at an advanced stage the low coastal land around the planet would be flooded and cities like New York, London and Amsterdam to name a few would be covered in seawater. Then millions of people would seek higher ground and only those on or with the Higher Ground would survive.

‘A fascinating view of the future,’ Sara was thinking, but by then moves were being made by Tim and Sylvie to leave so they did. Tim dropped Sylvie off at her flat and then Sara at hers. Sara was enchanted by the whole night of partying and this time kissed Tim on the lips,

which was an invitation for Tim to come up to her flat. She didn’t say and he didn’t pursue so they parted company near five o’clock in the warm still air.

 

 

6

 

Sylvie, Tim and Sara saw much of each other over the next few months, when Sara had not to go on a modelling assignment. One night they had had dinner at Sylvie’s flat and got into a threesome, the three of them carried away with the help of some delicious Spanish red wine.

It had happened casually and Sara was not surprised for Sylvie had told her how she had slept with Tim several times previously.

When Tim who had been kissing Sara on the sofa signalled to Sylvie, who had just returned from the kitchen with another bottle of tinto, to join them, she did not hesitate, it was so natural Sara accepted this otherwise unusual behaviour and Sylvie sat right on Tim’s lap.

They had gotten hot touching and kissing and as it was late at night it was just the natural thing that they would all drift into Sylvie’s big bed and continue their frolics. Sara hadn’t thought too much about it but she realised she was jealous to have to share Tim, him being the one she felt so attracted to, and they had become very close in the month before, seeing each other almost every day.

Tim seemed so cool about love and relationships, as though what might happen seriously might eventually happen. They shouldn’t push or force a stronger bond. He was quite a happy, cheerful person. Sara felt totally relaxed in his company. However he did have an ambitious streak, he wanted more from life than the group, the crew, could offer him. He had standards of his own and some members of the crew referred to him as the ‘Golden Rule’ because he was so thorough in his investigations concerning credit card fraud. He was called this because his name was Golden. They called him Tim usually but when he was especially persistent about some detail someone would say, ‘Oh well, it’s the Golden Rule,’ and every one would laugh.

 

 

7

 

Sara visited her father’s house in the country quite often, usually on weekends. It wasn’t just a house but more of a mansion that he had had designed and built five years ago.

There were no lack of women at Van Dyke’s mansion however he was pretty careful about them and kept to one at a time in his more serious ‘love’ relations. Usually he saw one woman for about a year before replacing her with another favourite.

Sara’s view on all this was that her father was free to do as he pleased and it was even his right to match himself to his most attractive, women of charm.

On one particular Saturday morning Sara breezed into the mansion and her father greeted her as usual with a hug and kiss on the cheek, then he said that he wanted to tell her something important. He led her to a small conference room, there was a room for every purpose in his mansion; actually he operated his business affairs from home and had a small staff, two secretaries and a communications technician always on hand.

He sat her down on a plush armchair that could have easily seated two people, he himself plomped down opposite in a similar armchair where he gazed at her as though what he was about to say would have a determining affect on her future. She sat still which was not her usual mode, she could pose for hours for cameras, but with her father she always had to contain a nervous desire to keep on the move, flitting about in a hurried state that both irritated and amused him.

‘Sara, I am quitting the fashion industry. I’ve seen through the economics of it – I mean on a global scale – and it’s not helping poor countries to progress. The clothes are over-priced on the world scale of economies, the wealthy countries inflate the profit margins and lower the quality until companies like mine make huge and unwarranted profits. I have known it for many years but I just can not take it anymore. I have benefited from the imbalance of world trade and you have benefited. You know I had to pull a few strings to get you into the modelling game. This is going to change my future radically but perhaps not yours. You are established now; you have a name and a reputation so you can continue with your work as long as you please.’  Van Dyke took a long pause as if Sara couldn’t take too much of a shock in one day. ‘I have been made an offer to be a partner in the launching of a satellite for telecommunications purposes, the internet mainly. The thing is that poorer countries are under-serviced and only partially covered by satellites. A Madrid based business man has explained that if we can offer services at a reasonable price we can operate profitably and give these less wealthy parts of the planet a fair share of the action. The satellite will traverse on an orbit that will allow telecommunications coverage for North and Central Africa, the Middle East, and China and Japan. So you see it’s going to be just what I am looking for.’ Van Dyke paused a second time, stood and then sat on the arm of Sara’s chair.

‘Nothing much is going to change in my life. I will still be living here in Bern. Things can continue normally, I will just be working with a different group of people only this time I will be an equal partner. I am putting up half the cost of the satellite and though the returns will be less and slower to grow it will be better in the long term.’  Van Dyke cleared his throat, apparently finished with his session.

‘He is concealing something,’ thought Sara, ‘something that involves me. He’s glossed over some double dealing scheme.’ Sara knew her father like a fish knows a river, she had swum all her life in his business environment and she could tell when he was applying the veil and putting on a mask. He was so good at it but he couldn’t fool her. However if she was to be kept in the dark about something concerning her own future she knew that he couldn’t keep a secret for very long.

She gave him a sly look which unnerved his blank face.

‘I will let you think about this for a few days, you can tell me what you think. I know it is a big departure from my former business but I am sure it is the right thing to do right now – that is all that I was wanting to say at this time, just keep it under your hat for a while until the deal is finalised and then we might celebrate in some way. I am feeling good about this so ... I hope … that you will too.’

He gave her a conceited look and walked out of the conference room.

 

 

8

 

Sara was feeling quite unhinged, not by what her father had said, more by what he didn’t say, and his attitude. She decided to unload the news to her then best friend Tim and went to his flat in the old part of the city.

Tim was at home, reading some technical book about cyber-space, its history and future. Sara found it hard to interrupt him but he agreed to talk under one condition, that they talk while they walked; he would walk with her to her flat because he liked to get exercise. It had started to rain by the time they had gotten to street level but Tim insisted that they continue, he didn’t own an umbrella and he promised her that walking in the rain would put her more in touch with the real world. They pulled their hoods up and headed off.

Sara informed Tim of the deal also saying that her father hadn’t told her everything. Tim was excited, ‘Sounds great to me, it’s really what interests me, the whole telecommunications revolution, the equity it could provide; and the new light it casts on your father.’  He had known, she had said; what Van Dyke’s playboy lifestyle was like and Tim believed that her father was turning over a new leaf, at least as a director of business.

As they walked through the rain they passed McDonalds and then strode towards the rail station dodging the sometimes flooded gutters.

‘Wo-chout,’ exclaimed Tim. A large puddle covered the footpath. He bent down taking his lap-top and placed it in the middle of the puddle. ‘For you to walk over,’ he said.

‘But it could get damaged,’ she said.

‘It’s waterproof,’ he replied.

She stepped on the lap-top across the puddle and picking it up out of the water he said, ‘And besides you’re worth it.’

‘I could never hope to see such a beautiful one as you are, Sara.’

‘So nice of you to say that and do that. Thanks.’

 

As they passed one shop, a boutique named Charmers, Sara said that that particular chain of shops was the one that Van Dyke worked with.

‘I’ve heard of it, seen it, it’s all over Europe isn’t it?’ said Tim.

‘Yes; and my father’s business is with Turkey where there are heaps of Charmers boutiques.’

‘Well,’ - it was Tim’s way to be saying – ‘Well’ every time he wanted to express his own particular view or to be sympathetic – ‘Maybe it won’t involve you, Sara, perhaps you are mistaken,’

‘I don’t think so, I know him too well, I’ve never lived without his presence in my life, even when I was in boarding school he kept in contact like I was a business investment. We have a special relationship not like most fathers who don’t have a sense of parental responsibility …. Let’s wait and see but I’m sure my intuition is right.’

They walked on the well lit streets, it was quiet, not much traffic and with few pedestrians.

‘But that’s only part of what I wanted to talk to you about,’ Sara continued, making the most of the intimacy that they shared, alone almost and wetly connected to the natural side of existence.

‘It’s Sylvie, I’m jealous about you and her; I don’t want you to sleep with her anymore. I’m certain now … I know I’m in love … it would be better this way than me feeling left out and I promise that I won’t sleep with her either.’

‘You and Sylvie, I didn’t know but I could have guessed. It’s like commitment time, hey!

And I won’t back away from it. I love you too, and Sylvie is just a friend after all, so, yes I won’t sleep with Sylvie again. There, happy now!’

‘Yeh!  And happy forever I hope.’ Sara smiled to find she had achieved what her heart and mind had so wanted.

‘Say!’ smiled Tim. ‘I don’t know about forever, I can’t see what is going to happen to you or to me but I want you to know, now we are serious, OK?’

‘Yes, Oh yes!’ Sara grabbed him and they kissed as the rain ran down both of their faces.

 

 

9

 

It was what Sara was expecting, her father called her to his mansion several days later, led her into the conference room and sat her down again on the grand armchair where she had sat before. Van Dyke again sat opposite her and quietly stared at her to make sure that she was attentive and to summon the strength to press his wants on her.

Sara liked to smoke two or three cigarettes a week when she was with friends at a café or pub. Van Dyke was also an occasional smoker and he was not surprised to see Sara take out a pack of cigarettes and light one up. He was however amused when she blew perfect smoke rings one after the other until a smoke haze filled the room.

‘I want you to think clearly about what I have to say. I want you to consider your future and mine. We may be two people but we are close, we always have been. I have done all that I can for you, given you whatever you wanted. You have had freedoms and material benefits that other girls can only dream of.’  He stared intently upon her like a Lord upon a vassal just to impress her that she owed him, and now he was going to ask for something from her, for the first time in her life – something he knew well she would not easily be able to comply with.

‘My business partner in Madrid, Señor Alvaro de La Prada has a son.’  Van Dyke paused, letting her get the direction of his request.  ‘I would like you to meet him. Señor Alvaro de La Prada has heard of you and so has his son, Angel de La Prada.  His son is interested in meeting you with a view to marriage. Don’t be shocked, it’s an acceptable proposition from Señor Alvaro, in fact Señor Alvaro insists that you meet his son, if you find him pleasing then the business deal can go ahead … if not, then the deal is off.’  Van Dyke stared at his daughter expecting a protest from her but there was none, she was stunned into silence.

‘Think seriously about this, I have a lot riding on this deal being successful. I have put in a lot of time investigating the de La Pradas and the extent of the whole transaction. It’s quite feasible and acceptable to me. I want you to meet, at least meet young Angel and if he’s OK then we’ll go along with Señor Alvaro’s plan. As far as I can see it would be a matter of business convenience, young Angel would continue to live in Madrid after the wedding and you, darling, will continue to live here in Bern, if that is your desire … so what do you say … will you do it.’  Van Dyke smiled in a sly way, not like the father she had loved all her life until now.

‘It’s strange, I don’t believe I can go through with it, I mean, marry a stranger. The fact is I’m in love with someone already and we are committed to each other. His name is Tim Golden, you really should meet Tim … Yes! You must meet Tim. We have only known each other for about three months but we know each other so well already, we get along fantastically well and – Oh!  You have to meet Tim before we go any further with this.’

‘OK, I will meet with him. I am free next Tuesday evening, so I will expect him early for dinner and I hope that makes you feel better. Just consider the importance for us of this satellite investment and remember if you do meet and marry Angel you can live in Bern, you can still see this fellow, Tim.’

It doesn’t sound right to me,’ replied Sara, ‘a husband in Madrid and Tim just a boyfriend, if it gets more serious than it is between me and Tim what is to become of us, can I get a divorce if I want to marry Tim?’

‘I think there is a clause in the contract, perhaps you may be able to be divorced after a certain time has elapsed. I will have to check the details,’ said Van Dyke in a business like manner.

‘A contract!  What do you mean in the contract?  Is it all going to be legally binding like some property deal!’  Sara fumed, the first time that she had been angry with her father since she couldn’t remember when.

‘No, No, It’s just a gentleman’s agreement. I am sorry if I stressed the formality.’ Van Dyke replied like a skilled negotiator.

‘Agreement! You mean that you have already agreed to marry me off like you don’t really care who it is that I marry, just as long as it suits your purposes.’ Now Sara was truly angry.

‘Darling! It’s not at all like you say, it’s just a formality to cement the deal. I’ve checked like I said, and the de La Prada family are very well respected in Spain. If you did decide to marry Angel even some of Spain’s royalty people would attend and it would be at the biggest Cathedral in Madrid. Just imagine the great publicity you would get. So just try, that’s all I am asking, just try to see this my way and think of our futures.’

‘Oh yes! Now I’m an item on the future’s market like some common stock that will provide you with a handsome return. Besides I don’t want that kind of publicity. I’ll marry for love not for duty!’  Sara argued forcefully for she knew she was fighting for her life.

‘The meeting is all set up with Angel, this Saturday night, eight o’clock in the blue room at Gables Club. If you let me down I will not forgive you, that is all I will say at this point. So, Sara, don’t disappoint me, see Angel and then you may not find the idea so intolerable.’ Sara’s father stood brushing down his smoking jacket at the front though not a crumb did fall.

Sara watched him exit from the conference room. He is no longer my father, he is just a businessman who will use any means to gain an advantage- thought Sara. She was dismally saddened to feel that she had lost him, all to a dream of having his own satellite.

 

 

10

 

Not more than two hours later Sara was telling Tim of her father’s proposal. They were at his flat. Tim was shocked, not perhaps as much as Sara but he felt that he was being pushed aside when he really wanted Sara now, at least for now. He didn’t want to possess her, he wanted her to love him and of her own free will.

‘Your dads a skunk,’ he said, ‘I can imagine the power of having his own satellite but doing it this way is an abuse of you as his daughter. Do you mean to say that he has always been good to you and a loving father?’ asked Tim.

‘Yes, it’s true, we’ve been very close, travelling together and supporting each other when my mother was divorcing him.’ Sara replied.

‘But now he has turned against you and wants to use you like he uses his girlfriends, all for a bloody satellite!’ Tim fumed exasperatedly. ‘We’ll have to stop this. I will talk with him on Tuesday night, I’ll try and make him come to his senses and realise that he just can’t abuse you like that.’

Tim’s response was firm and sympathetic. He wanted everything to be well with him and Sara, and between Sara and her father. He did have an English sense of what was right and what wrong. He just couldn’t let this happen.

‘If I can’t talk him round I’ll stop this some other way even if I have to put a spanner in his machinery,’ vowed Tim.

 

 

11

 

That Saturday night as Sara entered Gables Club she did not notice anything untoward. The grandeurs building was flooded with light on its exterior and the interior, the lobby and hall ways were dimly lit with subtle shades of rose coloured light.

There were the usual types of people, mostly middle aged and dressed as though they were appearing in some old nineteen forties film about the life of Cannes, only of course now they wore Givenchy and Burberry suits and gowns.

She stood at the door to the blue room and saw a shortish man dressed impeccably in a dinner suit rise from a near table, he seemed to prance towards her and then bowed as if he were greeting Royalty.

‘Hola, I am Angel. I recognise you Sara and you are as beautiful as your photographs.’ He pronounced the words slowly and precisely.

Sara nodded her head down then looked at him straight in the eyes. ‘Glad to meet you, Angel and thank you for the compliment.’

Angel led Sara to the nearby table for two and they sat allowing the candle flames to cast a flickering glow upon their faces.

Angel was quite a gallant one, explaining that he had been aware of Sara for the last year and becoming more and more eager to meet her as time went by. He said that his father, Alvaro, had been pressuring him to marry in recent years and as he was now thirty years of age his father had allowed him to have a choice. He realised that it was unusual if not unconventional to have his father force the marriage but he said he was loyal to him and would do practically anything that his father asked of him.

Sara was stunned by his matter of fact manner, vain heart and misguided intentions.

I am, he said, a champion motor cyclist who has many times won European competitions. If Sara was interested in seeing him in a race he would be in the 250 CC championship race in Lyon, France. The race would be televised on the local channel 10 at six o’clock the following evening.

Sara told him that she had no intention of marrying at the moment and that his father was presumptuous and chauvinistic to even consider that that was the way modern people went about arranging for marriages of convenience. She, she said, believed in marrying for mutual love only and in no other circumstances.

He merely replied that they could in time grow to love one another and that she should give them time to get to know each other. At least watch me on TV tomorrow, he seemed to be enthralled that he, Angel could be seen almost throughout Europe whenever there was an important race.

Sara wasn’t impressed and hardly touched the rich plates of food that were served in the usual gastronomic style.

Finally a waiter brought a large garland of pink roses, she accepted but the whole image of them made her feel queasy.

Angel stood and bowed as she departed from the blue dining room. She looked back from the door and saw Angel preening his hair with the aid of a small hand mirror.

 

 

12

 

‘He is …’  and Sara let her hand dangle from her wrist as she waved her arm in front of Tim.

‘He isn’t … is he?’  Tim bent over laughing like a madman.

‘As gay as a goose!  I can tell one a mile off, at least one of his pedigree.’  Sara also laughed heartily.

‘So his daddy has to cover it up by buying a bride.’

‘That’s about the size of it, I mean you can be gay and Catholic but in Madrid you have to pretend that you’re not, anyway, in the de La Prada circle.’

‘The gall, the audacity, the shear stupidity of the whole thing. But … it’s very sad that they would use anyone like that. Still money talks for some people and if you weren’t Sara Parks you might just fall for it.’

‘Well I’m not falling for it, I’ve got you and I’ve got my pride. Better to run away than be a fool’s bride.

‘Run away, no, we’ll fight it with tooth and nail. There is some way of changing the odds I’m sure. I’ve been thinking; I know a whole lot more about telecommunications than most people, especially your father. So give me time to think it through because I have a hunch that, if I plan it right, I just might force your father to drop this game before its too late.’

‘What do you have in mind Tim?’

‘Well, I’ve wanted to write a book about cyberspace, the telecommunications infrastructure, the internet and cable networks for a long time so if I could tie that in with some kind of threat, some twist in the story, maybe I could scare your father enough to make him stop the ruse. I could extend the book into some prediction that would make him look very bad if he actually were to put up a satellite. I think I can do it Sara, I really think I can.’

‘But you would have to work fast, daddy is all set to sign the contract on this deal.’

‘Well you’ll just have to stall him and Angel, play for time and pray that I can get my act together quickly. I just have to excavate my notes and do some final layering.’

‘Is this real? You’re not having a wild dream are you, as wild as my father’s plans for me.’

‘No, this is real, well virtually real, you’ll see. Life is stranger than fiction but if I can bluff my ideas up and make your father doubt himself then, we’ve got a fighting chance.’

‘ That’s all we need, that’s all I ask, oh, my knight in shining armour you’re going out to do battle against the blue Prince Angel and my father is going to give in, I know it!’

 

 

13

 

The next day Sara was with Tim at Sara’s flat. They were intrigued about Angel and wanted to see him in his most favourable light, as a champion motorbike racer. Partly they both knew that they had already condemned him, they were prepared to be strongly critical in any way that they could, casting him as a black-guard and to further share the bond they felt for each other. They were lovers, conspirators and defenders of almost sacred values; they had the innocence of their love for each other and a determination to stand up to Van Dyke and the de La Prada family.

They switched on the tele just as the race was about to start. The competitors had been arranged so that they who were favourites had a favourite position nearer to the inside starting place. Angel was in second position with a French rider in front. The whistle or horn sounded and the riders began. Angel looked like all the others in his special costume covered in advertising brand names.

For the first five laps Angel stayed in second place but then swept into the lead at the beginning of a corner. He raced ahead after this and left the field of riders far behind. The cameras now filmed from on his motorcycle, at the track ahead and from behind as he manoeuvred his bum from side to side and leant way over to take a corner or curve.

‘They are focussing on his bum a lot,’ commented Sara.

‘Yes,’ said Tim, ‘he must have quite a gay following in Madrid and the camera operators know about it.’

‘He might be a champion on two wheels but you should see him just walking normally, you would think he had a candle stuck up his bottom.’

‘He probably poses for the cameras with a rubber hose in the front of his trousers like some pop-stars’

Sara laughed condescendingly and they passed a bottle of beer between them.

When Angel got within a few laps of the end of the race he sped up and increased his lead until the second rider was not even in sight of the cameras. Coming up to the last lap Angel forced down the throttle and the front wheel of the bike rose from the track. He continued the entire last lap on only his back wheel and he was standing up balanced above his bike.  ‘A spectacular finish,’ said Tim.

‘I suppose everyone is good at something,’ said Sara, ‘but what good is it to you.’

‘I’m not taking his side, he’s just an opportunist who uses people if it fits his way of thinking. His mummy or maid probably still does up his shoe laces.’

Tim laughed loudly and vowed, ‘I’ll put one over him one day, you’ll see.’

 

... ....

 

 

Van Dyke sat in the open spaces of his living room at the mansion. He had watched Angel on television that afternoon and he thought that Angel was a fine example and presented a favourable image to the world at large.

He had immediately called Sara and requested a meeting. Now she was entering the living room with a feeling of apprehension at what her father was going to press upon her. She stood away from his large chair and gazed up at a portrait of herself on the wall above the fireplace. She was sixteen when the portrait had been painted. In the painting she looked sweet and shy, Sara always felt a little embarrassed when she saw that picture.

Apparently that was how her father still conceived of her; sweet, innocent, compliant.

Van Dyke cleared his throat to gain her attention, ‘I saw our boy, Angel in the 250 cc motorcycle race in Lyon. He won by a long distance and finished the last lap on one wheel. He is a spectacular bike racer, a real champion, Sara.’

‘I know I saw it too.’ Sara replied bluntly and devoid of feeling.

‘You have met him now, so have you changed your mind about him. He is really quite a star and very popular in Madrid I have been told.’

‘I don’t see anything special about him if that’s what you mean, nothing attractive. So he is good at racing a two-wheeler, that doesn’t change my view of him at all. I had dinner with him like you wanted but I thought he was rude, though in a polite way. He thinks he can have anything he wants in this world but he will learn the hard way, it’s not only his world, there are thousands of worlds on this planet and he may be a big wheel in Madrid however I have a life and I am building a world of my own. I just don’t need him in the slightest and you would know why if only you would meet with Tim. You will won’t you?’

‘Yes! Yes! I said I would meet him this Tuesday. I am compromising myself even considering him, and I want you to compromise. I want you to get to know Angel, he’s only in Bern for a couple of weeks when he’s not racing so I want you to see him and I want to see more of this,’ Van Dyke picked up a magazine from the coffee table and turned to some pages with glossy photos of celebrities.

Sara glanced at the photographs then stared in horror. There she was in Gable’s Club with Angel sipping from a champagne glass and giving Angel the once over with her strong, critical eyes.

‘How, when … when was this taken, I didn’t see any cameras,’ Sara blurted out.

‘ It’s the paparazzi, their everywhere, especially at Gables…and read the caption.’

Sara read the fine print under the photograph – Madrid socialite, Angel de La Prada entertaining Bern model, Sara Parks at Gables Club this Saturday – rumours of romance.

‘It’s horrible!’ Sara cried. ‘It’s just a fabrication for the edification of you and the de La Prada family. It has nothing to do with me. Romance! How ridiculous!’

‘It may not be romance but it’s what Alvaro de La Prada wants to see and this will get me that satellite, don’t you see. It’s just a big act, an image for the public. Allvaro cares what society is saying about his family, he wants his son to mix with the best people, and honey, you’re the best there is, remember that.’

‘The best perhaps, but all the more reason for me to have my independence; to decide with whom and when romance is going to happen.’

‘This life isn’t arranged for your convenience, you know, you have to compromise sometimes, for the sake of society, for the sake of business and for my sake.’

‘That sometimes may be true, but tell me, when have you ever compromised, you’ve always done what you wanted and had things your own way.’

‘That’s not true! I compromised all those years working with Charmers in Turkey, racking up big profits for the owners, its true I still own many Charmers boutiques in Turkey and I’ve made a fortune out of the business but I realise I can’t compromise anymore. I have gotten out, at least quit as managing director and I can’t let this opportunity go by, the satellite deal I mean; so you see, every one has to compromise, even you.’

‘We’ll see about that. I can only take so much of authoritarian rule, I’m not used to it.’

‘Its not so bad, Sara, listen to me, trust me; life can be good for both of us if you will only look at the facts of life, it is not all parties and presents, its more a matter of being practical, being ready to take that opportunity when it comes along.’

‘That may be so but this is your opportunity, not mine. I honestly believe that you are asking too much of me. Some things we can ask of those we love that we would not ask of mere friends or business colleagues but this is going too far, sacrificing us, for some cheap public image. Now I want you to think of us and what we have had up to now. If you force me into this then it will be no longer a family affair because you are asking for something that you have no right to ask of me.’

‘I need to think; I am not used to anyone standing in my way. But maybe it is time for us to see each other as adults and to be realistic. You can’t let me down, Sara, this is an opportunity few people on this planet have, or have ever had, I can’t let it go, I just have to see it through and I am asking you to be with me on this, to stand by me when I need you and try to look at the benefits not just for me but for millions, billions of people from Africa to Japan who have practically been living in the dark for simply ages.’

There was silence, a gap that lengthened into a gulf. They stared away from each other, Sara blankly at her portrait and Van Dyke at the far windows where the lush green grounds spread away into the distance.

Finally Van Dyke stood up, ‘Think about this, Sara,’ he said.

‘You too, think about us.’ She replied.

He sauntered out of the room in his soft warm slippers that made no sound. Sara stood and looked for a long while at her portrait; it seemed to her that that was a different person in the portrait, a carefree girl who only thought about the weekend or perhaps the next week. She sat down again in the fading light, she wanted to hide in the shadows, she wanted to cry, but the tears would not flow. Sara felt empty and used. Then she cried.

 

 

14

 

Higher Ground as an operating crew met regularly, sometimes not all of them were present. This particular evening they met at the Cat’s large apartment in the better part of the city of Bern. Better meaning older and not part of the more recent expansion of suburbs that had less style and amenities.

There were all kinds of foods, all kinds of drinks; each one of them had brought something, often a special treat from their country of origin although most of the crew were Swiss born.

They spoke in English with occasional use of a word or phrase from one of the more well known languages. Everyone was in high spirits because of their latest success in smashing a fraud case based in Frankfort but involving the use of credit cards in other cities

Kate and Samson seemingly inseparable had one end of a sofa to themselves and were having a jovial conversation with Porky and Simon. Sylvia, Raul, and a tall guy with a shaved head, Knuckles, were also in animated conversation near the small bar and table where the food was placed so as to leave space for their glasses and bottles. Ingrid had gone out to a patisserie to get a special cake. In the kitchen were Ronald and now Simon, preparing some last minute dish, a type of dip that they often made for these occasions.

Although the latest success of the group had secured quite a large commission from one of the biggest banks in Germany and this gave them a hopeful view of their future as crime busters there was an undercurrent of unease within the crew.

Tim was not present, he was with Sara as usual. They were spending a great deal of time together, usually sleeping over at one or the other’s flats.

Several of the crew members had commented about the suspicious way Tim was acting in the last week. He didn’t do his usual work but sifted through old files and information that had accumulated from years previously. They felt, at least three of them felt, that Tim was gathering evidence of some kind. When they had asked him about this activity Tim had only said that he was working on a book. He was going to have a book published but the crew should not worry, he would, he said, fulfil his duties in the cyber-centre and that he had too much on his mind at that time to talk more about it.

The crew, all of them, knew Sara, to a greater or lesser extent and they had been gossiping that Tim’s behaviour might have something to do with her. However they were at a loss to say what was going on. Sometimes a member of the group wanted to work on some outside project and they did so without acting suspiciously. Someone might get hung up; spend too much time chatting or playing some game but they weren’t the kind of friends to hide anything. Generally they were puzzled about Tim’s behaviour and couldn’t work out just how to broach the matter with him because he seemed so self-involved.

They continued drinking, beer being the favourite drink and eating the fine array of food until the early hours of the morning when the drift into the new day began.

 

 

15

 

Explaining the situation to Tim was not an easy matter for Sara to do. She told Tim that her father had fixed ideas about the satellite and about how she, if not as his daughter then as an adult who was obligated to him, had to give his proposal a re-consideration. She re-iterated most of what her father had said and especially emphasised how upset she had been and still was about the photograph of Angel and herself on their ‘romantic’ date at Gables Club.

‘I never want to see him again,’ said Sara emphatically.

‘Who,’ said Tim, ‘Angel or your father?’

‘Angel, of course, I will make my father bide his time as we planned. I’ll stall him forever. There’s no way that I can marry Angel. No way will I be a public spectacle and live a lie of false love. Marriage doesn’t mean anything to these business people including my father; it’s just a means to their greedy ends. It doesn’t matter to me if dad says he can save half of the world from ignorance, it just won’t happen, will it Tim?’

‘Of course not Sara, I’ve been working hard on the book so give me another week and I’ll have it ready to send to the publishers. I’m calling it ‘Cyberwarp’, its going to be controversial and it will make your father slide right down in his armchair if not onto the floor.’

Tim was excited, more excited, more animated than he had been for years. This is what love does to me and a novel; a novel I believe in, at least in a virtual way, because it’s a fantasy, he thought, sheer make believe, but its got that technical gloss that some novels have that seem to suggest that, yes! This is real, well virtually real. So it twists the facts, so it adds more honest bullshit than any science fiction best seller, however it will make this phoney world sit up and take notice.

Tim’s only regret was that it may offend some of his crew, Higher Ground, as he had to beef up his narrative by adding a sub-plot all about the credit-card scams, and in doing this he was certain that his friends would not be delighted with his indiscretion, his divulgences and his ultimate disloyalty to them.

‘Let’s form a dyad.’ Sara suggested.

‘Splendid,’ replied Tim.

 

 

16

 

Five-fifty five, Tim checked his watch after parking his beaten-up old second hand Japanese car in a parking area at the side of Van Dyke’s mansion. He climbed the sweep of steps up to the large double oak door pressed the call button and stood with feet spread like a bear. If Van Dyke thought he was going to have a cosy little chat with him then Van Dyke would be shaken down to his slippers because Tim was in no mood for any such thing.

The door was opened; a butler or a servant of that capacity accepted him into the grandiose lobby and then through another set of double doors into a lounge area of very spacious dimensions. Van Dyke entered within a minute and introduced himself as the father of Sara, one Van Dyke Parks.

Van Dyke then silently led Tim into the smaller conference room where they sat as another servant immediately brought cokes on ice in tall glasses.

‘I am very glad to meet with you, Tim. I have heard so many good things from Sara concerning yourself.’ He was speaking slowly, stiffly and way too formal and polite for Tim’s liking. But at that moment nothing about Van Dyke could have pleased Tim, he was ready for a verbal tussle.

‘I suppose,’ said Tim, not wanting to appear too angered, ‘that Sara has mentioned that we, Sara and I, have a commitment; that we are in love.’

‘Yes,’ replied Van Dyke, ‘she did mention something to that effect. It’s just a little difficult with this business deal I have got going right now. You realise, I suppose that Sara has told you of it, the satellite and all. I really don’t like to ask this of Sara but it seems to be the only way for the deal to go through. She will have the grandest wedding imaginable, no expense spared, and then fly back to Bern where you can be with her, I mean you both can be together as much as you please.’

‘Listen,’ Tim abruptly countered, ‘you can’t force Sara to do anything against her will, she is over twenty-one you know and in this country you have no legal right to command her to do this. I love her, you know that, and love still means a great deal to me and Sara, more perhaps than any love you have ever known.’

‘I have known many loves,’ said Van Dyke, ‘and my love for Sara is the most precious of them all. Now Timmy,’ he started off, but Tim cut in.

‘Not Timmy, that’s childish and condescending, if you must call me by any other name call me Timothy, Timothy Golden. That is the name that God gave me.’

‘Let us not get sanctimonious Tim,’ said Van Dyke, sticking out his thin wisp of a lip.  ‘I only wanted to say that I honestly believe that this move, the marriage to Angel and the success of this business deal will be the best for us both. Sara has had her own way all of her life, she is young, and it is time she showed a little respect for all I have done for her. I have never asked anything of her, she has had complete freedom. I have even arranged for her to work with her agent in Milan, but she forgets that, she sweeps it aside, all that, as though it were nothing. Please see the situation in a positive light, you might be another one like Sara who has had it all your own way all of your life, but you and her must show a bit of respect for those years that I have sweated and worked, yes truly worked for her and her future.’

‘Must, you have no right to say must to me Van Dick. I haven’t had it easy like you suggest, in fact I am from a poor family of hard working people. My father was a machinist in a factory and my mother worked in a cake shop. My two sisters and my only brother were raised in a strict Salvation Army way. We had a certain amount of freedom but we also had responsibilities. My parents were happy to leave me in the arms of the welfare state, however I have achieved a measure of success in my short life, but I have never met anyone as arrogant as you. – You think you can help people with this satellite and maybe you can at some remove from the eventual profit that you will make out of them.’

‘ Have you no conscience at all.’ Thought Tim.

‘Sara is a real person now, not a little girl and Sara and I will go our own way if need be, we will survive because we have strong hearts, hearts that have not been corrupted by greed and the need to accumulate as many material possessions as we possibly can, nor have we been corrupted to the extent of using those we profess to love for our own selfish ends. We are going to fight this, I am going to fight this, I will destroy your precious career if it’s necessary. We will not give in to you Van Dick.’

‘I … I had hoped you could see it my way,’ Van Dyke paused, searching for words. ‘But I am not as corrupt as you suppose, I would not for example try to bribe you with girls or with money. I have principles and even though I admire your strength in love I am going to give Sara time to change her mind. Let her see Angel a bit more, maybe she will take pity on him; perhaps she will show me and the de La Prada family a little mercy. You talk strongly Tim and I wonder what cards you have up your sleeve. Is it love alone that compels you or do you know something that I do not?’

‘I know plenty, Van Dick, and what I don’t know I can find out. I know about history and I know a lot about technology. I know that there has been an industrial revolution which my parents were still a part of and a technological revolution that has changed the world. The material world has changed completely but not people’s hearts. You, I would say, were raised with a silver spoon in your mouth and you, you take all that for granted. You came along expecting the world to bow at your feet but I can help you, Van Dick, I can make you see that people are not here just to serve the likes of yourself but we have to really try to see the real world through the phoney fog of personal desires.’

I have studied the cyber world, the satellites, the cables that link post-modern civilization and I can tell you that what you are doing is going to be a disaster, for cyber-space and for Sara.  Just you think what you are doing and not of your own selfish ends. If you look around you can see things. The peoples of this huge planet can be helped along the road of progress but you are going the wrong way about it.  If you won’t listen to reason then I will publicly expose you, I will make sure the world knows how you intend to again make opportunist profits at the expense of technology and at the expense of those people you pretend to be helping.’

‘Van Dyke sat back in his seat; he was astonished that Tim could speak to him, to him, in this commanding way. Van Dyke was a man of forty-five and Tim only twenty-five, and he was being taken to task as if he were on an equal level.

‘You don’t have to be so strong, that may be a weakness of yours, to have to fight even when there is no real opponent. I’m not half as bad as you say, although there may be some truth in your words you are taking it to hard. It’s a matter of formality, you do things in a correct manner and you get rewards, it’s as simple as that,’ said Van Dyke.

‘Not half so simple,’ replied Tim, ‘according to what I know, you believe the world economic system to be unjust, but you’re still willing to play by its rules.  For you its just a game but in this game real people suffer unless you somehow bend the rules, if you don’t know about that kind of thing I may tell you one day … well, we haven’t gotten very far as I can see, and my time is valuable, so I won’t stay to dinner.  I really must be going,’ Tim stood and so did Van Dyke.  They looked each other in the eyes.

‘If you must go then I must ask you now not to do anything that you may regret and don’t think too badly of me,’ said Van Dyke, ‘I do mean well.’

‘Meaning well and doing well are two different things.  If you can’t do something properly then it’s best not to do it at all.  Good night Van Dyke.’  Tim excused himself and hastily exited from the mansion.

 

 

17

 

When the next week was over Tim had his manuscript of CYBERWARP, though he was a physical and mental wreck. Fatigue had mounted up with each passing day as he worked around the clock. When he was not working on his novel he was frantically making love to Sara.

They found in each other that relief; that release, that merging of bodies and souls that would provide them with memories for the rest of their lives.

Memories that lodged in the fibre of muscle and in the odours of physical love as well as in the bond of being one being, with one aim in life, to be forever together and to share all of life, to consummate it. In that week they were married to each other as no religious ceremony could sanctify, as no public show of commitment could ever display, for they were not interested in the outward image of themselves in their world. It was their world alone, just them two, moving from this now into the future as one, tied, trussed, bound, and hand-cuffed to each other for the rest of their lives.

Tim sent his manuscript as a separate document with a letter of application to his publisher. He had had one technical book about virtual reality and the media published the year before so he hoped that his publisher would be able to see the sale-ability of this his great work of inspiration that seemed to be the culmination of all his studies up to this point in time.

His intention was to present a technical façade, a virtual and thoroughly mesmerising investigation which made predictions about the cyber world that increasingly impinged upon and often enhanced the way we communicate in the third millennium. His sly addition of evidence suggesting that such a move as Van Dyke planned to make would be a ‘last straw’ in the configuration of cosmological and ecological events, events that would cause the whole geodesic satellite system to malfunction. It would, he hoped, provoke a storm of controversy. Van Dyke would be forced to back down if it would seem that he was acting in an unscrupulous manner. It was a sham, a virtual fantasy that would be a dream novel for any cyber-freak and he had a gut feeling it would sell like the hot-cakes in his mother’s bakery.

He was, however, not even literarily proficient; therefore he did not have sublime adjectives pendangling from his nouns, nor were there metaphors, superfluous to his purpose, sprouting from every crevice in the interfaces of his conjectures.

Tim was not wrong, though his predictions of book sales would come true, Van Dyke was however a harder obstacle to dissuade.

 

 

 

 

 

18

 

The crew was ready for Tim, ready in the sense of being filled with wrath, ready to bite off his head and spit him out like the traitor they saw him as. They had invited Tim and Sara to a special meeting at Higher Ground 1. They were not in a mood for a party, unless it was a lynching party.

Tim and Sara entered the large shop where the crew was seated in a random fashion in front of the computer terminals. They turned as one to face the man, yes now he was just a man in their eyes, not one of the crew but a stranger bent on blowing away their operation by revealing every secret that they had ever shared with him.

The book, CYBERWARP had been on the shelves of bookshops around the world, so far only in an English language edition for two weeks. It was one of the great best sellers in recent history, it would only be a short while before the mass media got on the bandwagon and elevated the novel above cult status.

Tim had written into his story the adventures of his group of friends and work-mates. He had used different names but he had revealed the details of their whole fraud-busting operation. As far as they were concerned he was an exploiter in the extreme who had sold out his credibility for financial gain.

‘So you have read the book,’ said Tim, feeling that perhaps, just perhaps, he could convince them that his view of the matter could have some merits.

‘Read it and puked it up,’ said The Cat. ‘So what have you got to say for yourself, you realise that every cyber outfit on the planet will now copy our operation and compete in a crazy struggle to force us out. We are dead as a crew unless you have some idea, smart boy, how we can get out of this one.’

‘Listen guys, I’m really sorry but it was something that had to happen sooner or later,’ explained Tim. He went on to explain the situation with Sara and Van Dyke. He said he was desperate about saving her and to bring Van Dyke down to size.

‘About the other thing,’ he continued, ‘about Higher Ground and my credibility – just what is Higher Ground about after all, what are the principles, the ideals of Higher Ground.  As I remember we were conceived of as crime busters. Now what would happen if every cyber outfit on the planet copied our operation? I tell you what! The credit card scams, the big gangs would be under such strong surveillance that all bank fraud of this type would be knocked on the head, totally wiped out, bankrupt. And here you all are trying to defend your rights to a monopoly game just like the trans-nationals do every day. I say, take a good look at what you originally intended to do … that is, wipe out crime.’ Tim paused just to breath as the cyber-centre seemed to have been engulfed in the thick air of deceit and he wanted to cool it down, make this scene of accusation and trial a little more tranquil, a little less hostile.

‘I’ve got my doubts anyway about the whole idea of private property, but that’s another matter. Maybe just think how criminals are part of an underclass, a class that has been subjugated for centuries and even they in some way, well to my way of thinking, may be justified in their attempts to create justice in an unjust world.’

‘Hey man!’ piped up Knuckles, ‘you have a point there about us agreeing originally that we wanted to stop or contain this computer fraud … but I don’t know if this was the best way to do it, I mean we’ll all be out of our main income; just with the cyber-centres. So you might say that the crime will end and shortly, but what are we going to do for bread and butter, shine shoes!’

The rest of the crew were humming and haring as if reconsidering the first principles of the Higher Ground crew.

‘We need an ideal,’ said Raul.

‘We had one,’ said Ingrid.

‘Well, there’s still the environmental issues. But where’s the income to come from?’ said The Cat.

‘Sponsors,’ replied Knuckles.

Then there was silence until someone flicked a switch and some hip-hop sounds floated around the room. Everyone seemed in a better mood than half an hour ago.

Ingrid was talking to Tim. ‘And why are you getting so defensive about marriage ceremonies? Celebrities get married and divorced so rapidly you’d think they were addicted.’

‘But that’s just for publicity, you know, and it’s not the institution of marriage I’m defending it’s the institution of love. Once you’re in love its do or die, come what may. We’ll fight it all the way.’

The Cat pranced over to them as if still wanting to settle a score. ‘And what are we supposed to do to replace our income once the outfits get wind of us and start their operations?’ he asked in a straight voice trying to cover his apparent anger. ‘You were the one who exposed us and without any consulting, so what’s your big idea?’

Tim turned from Ingrid to The Cat, ‘If you think I know all of the answers, you have another think coming. I hadn’t thought I just reacted to the situation and I’m sorry Cat. But give me a little time maybe something will come up, perhaps cyber cinemas or something, I don’t know, but we do have some time to get our act together.’

The Cat grunted, he was one who lived up to his nick-name, often he would murmur or moan when he could have actually expressed himself in words.

After this the conferring turned to gossiping in small groups as the crew again found familiarity in their shared views of life and the latest trends. Yet later, Sara glided up to Tim and Porky who were striking a chat.

‘The good thing about her is that she knows how to stretch time.’ Tim was talking.

‘Yeh, fine as silk,’ replied Porky.

Sara cocked her head out as though she were the only hen in the henhouse. But then she swallowed a bubble of doubt. Sara hadn’t quite figured out then, who her and she were. Sara thought to herself, ‘perhaps silk has something to do with a parachute,’ however she wasn’t too certain on that point.

‘What’s that funny smell,’ said Sara.

‘It’s Porky’s amphora pipe tobacco, he rolls it,’ replied Tim.

‘It’s quite nice,’ commented Sara.

Sara stepped close to Ronald and Raul who were in animated conversation, ‘So what’s on the horizon?’ Ronald asked Raul.

‘Floods’

‘Where?’

‘Tarragona, my people. It’s terrible. I wish I could help.’

‘May be we can help.’

‘How?’

‘We’ll think of something?’

And the music crashed. It was as loud as blazes for several instances and glided down too a more subdued rhythm. Sara felt peculiar, as if she had missed some detail, then again she was thinking about Tim and Sylvia. That was on her mind as a fleeting feeling of growing to meet a challenge. A challenge that would alter her perception of just how she would soon have something a little more substantial blossom in her emotions; a calm, a certainty.

 

 

19

 

Sara’s most exciting summer was in the middle of its season when she received a call from her agent in Milan. Her agent had arranged for Sara to go to one of the most prestigious fashion parades in Europe. It was to be at the showrooms of a very important fashion house in Barcelona.

Sara and Tim did not want to be parted so Tim decided to go with her for the week’s assignment. They left early in the morning with bright and cheering skies above and big fluffy clouds floating gracefully in the near distance. The plane landed at the main airport in Barcelona, several hours later they caught a taxi to the central zone of Barcelona carrying two small bags, Tim with a back pack and a trolley case on wheels. They went immediately to the old town, had coffees at a small café on La Ramblas then booked in to a small family hostel, where Tim had stayed on a visit to Barcelona five years previously, called the Casa Rosa.

They had the day free to explore the old part of town, to visit the Picasso museum and the Modern Art Museum. The paintings and sketches of the early Picasso were an inspiration for them and they loved many paintings at the Modern Art Museum in the park of the Ciutadella.

That night they dined on the sea front, they had sea food, prawns, mussels, clams and crab. A bottle of Rioja red wine and then they were ready for bed.

The next day Sara went to the fashion house showrooms hours before the parades were due to commence. Tim had a complimentary pass and, arriving just before the start of the parade, found his way to a seat in the second row. There were journalists photographers and fashion buyers in the front rows of the lavish showrooms.

At the appointed time some lush violin music flowed into the showrooms and a steady beat was kept by some double basses. The models began the parade, first of day-time clothing and street wear. Sara appeared several times in various styles of casual, comfortable looking clothes. Then gradually more formal clothes were paraded and underwear, Sara appearing many times as the video and still cameras filmed her. Finally the models paraded in evening wear and ball gowns of very elegant design, and made of richly coloured and finely patterned fabrics.

Sara had been one of the stars of the parade and very popular with the buyers who clapped when she appeared. Tim met Sara after the parade and they were exiting by the front doors when a throng of photographers leapt up on them, snapping photos and crowding around them. Then came the journalists who asked many embarrassing questions of Sara, such as,

‘Are you still seeing Angel de La Prada?’, ‘Does Angel know that you are here with Tim Golden?’  Sara was very upset by all this unwanted attention. Then the journalists turned on Tim, bombarding him with questions; ‘Is CYBERWARP going to stay at the top of the best seller lists?’, ‘Will you tell us the name of the business man who is going to put up the satellite?’ and ‘What is the date for the telecommunications crash?’  Tim brushed them all aside and he and Sara edged away from the building towards the seafront. As they walked on the promenade they spoke in hushed voices as if they could be overheard or recorded. They were angry to be exposed to the press and have them paw over them like they were commercial property, to be shoved, and, shown too little respect.

The next five days went similarly; early rising, the parades, the usual jostle with the press. By the end of the week they were tired of it all.

They spent Saturday morning on the beach, swimming and sun-tanning, and then had a peaceful stroll in the large park where they had been to the Modern Art Museum. Returning to the hostel they packed and took a taxi to the airport where they caught the evening flight to Bern.

 

 

20

 

All was well until Sara checked her E-mail when she awoke the next morning. Among the messages from her friends in various countries was a letter from her father titled, ‘this is urgent.’

Call me as soon as possible, Dad.  When she called he assumed a stern tone of voice summoning Tim and herself to a meeting with him at the mansion.

Sara immediately called Tim and arranged for him to take her in the next hour to her father’s home. They were tense and jittery on the way there but agreed to confront this gathering cloud with all the fortitude that they could muster.

As they entered the mansion they were not surprised to find two blond women in the lounge room with Van Dyke. He excused himself from them and ushered Tim and Sara into the conference room where he had them sit in two of the armchairs. Van Dyke stood, seemingly calm but with a simmering impatience that Sara recognised as not being his usual frame of mind.

‘You two,’ he fumed, he pointed his lip at Tim, ‘gadding about Barcelona while the paparazzi had a field day. There is hardly a magazine or newspaper without an article or photograph of both of you. You could not have been more public. Alvaro de La Prada has called me and complained about your public behaviour, he said if this ever happens again then I can forget about the satellite deal. You don’t realise what you’re doing when you let yourselves be seen publicly together, and make no excuses, just show yourselves off for all of the press. What am I supposed to do? Say a prayer? But who’s listening? There is only you two, and if you don’t act more discreetly then the deal will be scrapped. Just tell me that in the future I can count on you to play it safe at least until the contract is signed.’

Tim and Sara stared blankly at Van Dyke, they were not on his wave-length in the slightest.

‘Listen Van Dyke, there are two sides to this so consider us for once. We’re in love for God’s sake. And what is there in your big deals for us other than Sara feeling obligated for what you have done for her in the past. What’s Sara going to gain out of all this in the future.  Why should we sacrifice our love just for your personal glory? Please, as Sara’s father and someone that I would like to respect, tell us something that is real to us.’  Tim was earnest as only a devoted lover could be, and someone who just hated injustice.

‘I have been thinking about you both’ replied Van Dyke, ‘I want you to believe that it’s not just my own personal glory involved here. There were several articles in the newspapers about your novel, Tim. According to what the critics say the public are falling for your line about there being an imminent disaster if a new satellite gets up into the geodesic pattern of orbits. You’ve convincingly painted a picture, not so much in details but by suggestion, that a combination of the green-house effect and the overload of telecommunications signals in the atmosphere will cause a warp of the World Wide Web and TV and radio, the lot, including the internet will breakdown. This all seems far-fetched to me but it’s not only the public but also the critics who love your style, your audacity.’  He thought, ’he’s not grateful’.

So listen Tim, I figure that I would like to have someone with your intelligence, someone willing to take risks, and someone with technical knowledge on my side. I’ve looked into your personal history and I have seen that you have published a book, a very technical book about the latest developments with cyber-space and virtual reality, so I believe I could fit you into the satellite deal as a manager in some capacity; what do you say?’

Tim was outraged, ‘And make me an accomplice to this sham marriage, now that wouldn’t make me or Sara in anyway happy. I’m flattered that you believe I have the talent to be a manager but what about Sara, just what has she to gain from all this?’

‘I have thought about Sara as well,’ said Van Dyke, ‘and as I know that she wants to be a fashion designer eventually I believe that she and you could work together developing an alternative system to the current fashion industry production and marketing. What I have in mind is to have her scout out locations around the world where the satellite will have coverage, where new fashion styles, or original or traditional adaptations are being created, in small villages perhaps. It’s something Sara likes, these exotic styles. If she were to do this, I would sell all my assets in Turkey and invest in these new designers. This is where you come in Tim, you would have to design a marketing system through the internet. We could market the actual clothes in these countries, I mean; in Africa, the Middle East, China and Japan, as well as having Sara adapt the designs to market in Europe and North America, all via the internet.’

‘That’s a crazy idea, but I love it!’ exclaimed Sara. ‘I could almost fall for that scheme but not the marriage to Angel, not that Dad, I just couldn’t live a lie.’

‘And you’re forgetting something Van Dyke,’ Tim added, ‘my original idea of the cyberwarp, which according to my calculations and investigations might just eventuate if you were to send up that satellite. It’s all here on my U.S.B. memory pen, the complete novel, bibliography and with footnotes. I went to some expense to provide you with this however I’m sure it will be worth it, if it can turn your head around.’ ‘Don’t you feel guilty’  he thought.

‘Thanks but the marriage is part of the deal. I can’t back out now. Just give Angel one more chance; he is in Switzerland for one more week so I will call you Sara about the actual time for a meeting. Think about my offers, both of you, and let me know of any changes either before or after you have met with Angel.’  Van Dyke had not sat down the whole time but now as a concluding gesture he stepped lightly to his high-backed armchair and seated himself with an expression of exasperation.

Sara and Tim glanced at each other, satisfied that they had presented a good a case as possible for their defence. They then exited the room, Sara giving Van Dyke a kiss on the cheek as she passed him. The two clone women were still in the lounge room with drinks in hand as some old jazz music played on the surround sound speaker system. They kept talking and only turned away as Sara and Tim went passed, out of the room and out of the house.

 

 

21

 

The next day Sara dropped in to Higher Ground 1 to meet Tim so that they could have lunch together in a park. The Cat, Raul and Tim were conversing as there were few customers.

‘So, your father refuses to listen to your point of view,’ The Cat was saying, ‘he’s a bit of a slug isn’t he. What’s he really like?’

‘Well,’ replied Tim, ‘he keeps practically a harem on strings, he has even described his women as being ‘rentable’. So he’s rather a chauvinist, rather smug and used to having his own way. And of course when chaps like him get a bit old they stick together like he’s doing with the elder de La Prada, the father of Angel.’

‘It’s difficult with older people’ said Raul, gesticulating as only suave and sophisticated Spanish men can do, ‘we are supposed to respect them and then they go and act in despicable ways, hasn’t he ever heard of male feminism?’

‘I doubt it,’ said Tim, ‘he’s got things the way he wants so he feels complacent. I just don’t want him to abuse Sara, and treat her like one of his playgirls.’

‘Listen, we may not be able to influence these older guys but I figure that Angel is the weak link in this deal. If we could change his mind and get him to back out of the marriage then Sara would not have to go through with this stupid marriage sham,’ said Raul.

‘Yes, I think you’re right,’ said Sara, ‘but how can we get across to him? He’s obedient like a dog to his father.’

‘We could work on his sexuality,’ The Cat proposed. ‘We could maybe have Raul try to influence him as if Raul was gay and wanted a relationship. And if Raul was to say that he was against the marriage then maybe he would drop it, they are both Spanish after all and I’ve read a book by Oscar Wilde all about a similar situation where some gay Lord could get Oscar Wilde to do just about anything.’

‘I’m not gay, and I’m not about to do just about anything,’ said Raul, ‘I’m not even a very good actor.’

‘But if you read this book Raul you would have some idea how to make Angel do what we want.’  The Cat pursued his idea, novel though it was, it just might work.

‘Oh! Please Raul, do it for me. You guys are often talking about a male-feminist ideal well this is your chance to prove it. Or is all your talk just fluking it? I’m a girl in trouble, the patriarchy is trying to control my life, and all you have to do Raul is play up to his vanity, he really is vain you know.’ Sara was excited to see some light in the darkness of her dilemma.

‘I don’t know, I’ll think about it, I’ll even read the book. If I can help you Sara, I will do it, no problem.’ Raul wasn’t enthusiastic but he was willing to try anything to help a friend.

 

... ....

 

As Sara and Tim walked to the park grey clouds appeared in the sunny sky and before they had gone very far large drops of rain began to fall.

‘It’s a sun-shower,’ said Tim, ‘it won’t last long.’

‘I’m not superstitious,’ said Sara, ‘but maybe a change in the weather will mean a change in my luck.’

‘I think that you are a little superstitious, there’s actually no connection between the two things, and it’s just a co-incidence that it has rained the day we have thought of a solution to your problem. It’s really also a co-incidence that your father wants to put up a satellite when there is all this global-warming and there does seem to be quite a lot of satellites around us already, without one more. See, I can make co-incidences seem technically connected when they really aren’t. And I suppose that’s just part of the mystery of life, yes these days we need more mystery, mystery with good faith, and less commercialism.’

‘You’re absolutely right, Tim. You’re so sensible and reasonable even about irrational things.’

‘0h!!’ she said as the rain which had wetted their hair and faces, suddenly ceased, ‘I do love you so.’

‘And I love you more and more each day, whatever the season; come what may, earthquake, famine or war, I will always be loving you Sara.’

 

 

22

 

Tim was contacted that very week by a television channel, they asked if he could appear on a celebrity show to talk about his book, as it continued to be in the best seller lists and they considered him to be a hot item. He wasn’t too keen at first but then he thought of an angle, a way of influencing Sara’s father into changing his mind and dropping the whole satellite thing. Although he was attracted to working in a management capacity in the internet marketing operation and helping Sara to further her career he couldn’t accept the stupid vanity of the marriage, the public falsity and conceit.

If I have it known that I will publicly name Van Dyke as the person who will bring about the Cyberwarp on the T.V. programme maybe then he will back out of the deal. He just might think it too publicly embarrassing, he might be bluffed or panicked into withdrawing his support for the scheme.

Tim replied to the T.V. channel that he would appear on the show and that he would at that time announce the name of the businessman who had inspired his novel, the man who would risk a break-down of the telecommunications system solely for personal gain.

The T.V. channel agreed and said he could expect some publicity in the daily newspapers to promote the show.

 

... ....

 

The next day, Van Dyke was on the phone to Tim.

‘I have read about your intention to sabotage my plans. I made you a reasonable offer and you have turned the tables on me. If you think I can be put off by a little adverse publicity you are wrong. I would not like this to happen, Tim, but I am not likely to change my mind. And you are dead wrong about my only motivation being greed, as you know it is Sara’s future that concerns me. Not only Sara but also millions of people from Africa to Japan who deserve a fairer deal than they are getting from the telecommunications business cartel. You don’t know what you’re doing Tim, please show a little respect if not for me personally then for these motives, these intentions. Try to see what I am trying to do against the odds, against the likes of Alvaro de La Prada who would back out of the deal if he got a whiff of your accusations. By pointing the finger at me you are holding back progress, and surely you don’t want to do that, do you Tim?’

‘Well,’ Tim was starting to feel a little sympathetic to Van Dyke’s way of thinking but he wasn’t going to be persuaded from protecting Sara. ‘It’s your crusade not Sara’s or mine, I am going to name you Van Dyke. There are no two ways about it, either you put an end to this phoney marriage business or I will denounce you. I will make sure that your name is associated with the lowest kind of irresponsible opportunism. You will be sorry if you don’t change your mind by next month, because I will do what I have said I will do, I am determined to protect Sara in this fiasco. Your scheme sounds valid on the surface but you can’t treat Sara like one of your ‘rentables’, I’ll make sure you don’t!’

The two of them could not agree but they left their discussion respecting each other, each one feeling that here was someone who had values, principles, someone who would make a difference.

 

 

23

 

Tim received a friendly call from Raul several days after their talk and The Cat’s suggestion that Raul play at being gay to dissuade Angel from the marriage. Raul said that he had read Oscar Wilde’s book and believed that he could give the rouse a try. Tim’s suggestion was that Raul take a couple of weeks holiday and set himself up in Madrid in order to trap the unsuspecting Angel, that is if the crew approved of Raul having a few weeks off work.

Raul was excited by the idea of visiting Madrid again and agreed with the plan. All I need is a lead on where I can meet up with Angel, some café or restaurant that he would be frequenting, Raul had said. Tim said that Sara was going to see Angel that week and so she could ask him a few innocent sounding questions.

‘So if the crew says it’s ok then I would advise you to catch the next plane to Madrid, settle in for a few days until you receive our e-mail with the contact address and then do your stuff. I don’t expect anything really radical but if you could manage a kiss or two for Angel I think you might win him over. Promise him anything and use a false name in the hotel where you are staying and with Angel … thanks a lot and good luck. Maybe you could call in to Tarragona when you’re in Spain.’

‘Yes, that may be necessary,’ replied Raul.

  Tim’s pulse was quickening at the prospect that this suggestion of The Cat might free Sara from the sick fate of a romantic misadventure.

The crew, of course, conceded that this was a worthy deed and indeed a great sacrifice on Raul’s part for which he would gain respect and honour amongst them, win or lose.

Raul set off the next day for Madrid and his mission.

 

 

24

 

On the following Friday it had been arranged for Sara to meet with the misguided Angel, again at Gables Club, in the blue room. Sara entered the club with a feeling of the utmost trepidation; she had not in all her life to this point in time had to face such an embarrassing and awkward situation. She knew oh so well that the paparazzi would be there hidden somewhere, perhaps behind that false mirror she saw as she walked towards Angel’s candle lit table for two.

Angel stood for her, bowed, and pushed her chair in under her as she seated herself. ‘So glad to see you again,’ smiled Angel.

‘Not so glad on my part,’ said Sara, ‘you know I don’t approve of this arrangement. I find it antiquated and not at all what modern people do. Your father must be very old-fashioned to believe that I would just give in to him and to you.’

‘My father is one of the old society of Madrid it is true but he would not have pressured you into this if he did not believe that I am attracted to you, that I favour you, at least as being able to go through the ceremony with the necessary dignity. After the ceremony you can do as you please as long as you don’t appear often in the press with other men, that is all we ask.’

‘How can you sit there and seriously propose that we lie in the marriage ceremony, does it all mean nothing to you?’ Sara tried to contain herself but the whole thing was too disturbing.

‘We are used to marriages of convenience in Spain, for political, economic or other reasons. All my family’s marriages have been arranged by the older generations, it is like a social contract; sometimes the people come to love each other, sometimes not. In this case as I have said, I will make no further demands upon you once the ceremony is over. I will be flattered to have you as my bride but after I shall have no further use for you. Do you understand?’

‘Oh!  Yes, it’s quite plain, that you just want to use me and I do understand that you couldn’t possibly use me after the ceremony. But what about the divorce clause, how much time would have to elapse before I could divorce you.’  Sara spoke as plainly as she could.

‘You will remain my wife in name only for the duration of five years, then I expect you will want the divorce, yes, if that is what you want at that time.’  Angel was slow in speaking, English was a second language which he only spoke when he had to, he didn’t like speaking a foreign language, but he seemed to relish the position he was placing Sara in, and his own feelings of power over her.

‘So very good for you,’ said Sara, slightly sarcastic but obviously hating his polite, matter of fact negotiating in the cold unfeeling pursuit of his vain hopes.

Sara then asked her question to find out a place where Raul could accidentally bump into Angel and make him desist from his plans.  ‘Tell me, if I’m ever in Madrid I might want to see you, is there a café, or restaurant that you go to frequently?’

‘There are many but my favourite is the Café Gijón, it has a wonderful atmosphere,’ replied Angel.

They ate little and drank even less then Sara excused herself and left the Blue Room, and Gables Club.

 

 

25

 

Tim appeared in many articles in the newspapers and magazines over the next few weeks. In one interview he stressed that his novel was based on thorough research and that if another satellite was sent up into orbit the telecommunications system as we know it would be likely to dysfunction, putting out of order all transferences of information in the lower atmosphere. Then we would have to rely solely on the cable networks which may or may not be able to handle the loading of messages. The main reason for the general overload would be the large amount of films that were transmitted on the inter-net, the downloading of entertainment messages would cripple the system and with just one more satellite the whole system would collapse.

In article after article it was mentioned that the main character of the novel, CYBERWARP, was based on a real businessman, one who knew the risks but was willing to gamble for personal gain that by some freak chance his additional satellite would not cause a breakdown of the telecommunications system. In each article the future appearance of Tim on the television programme was mentioned and that Tim intended to reveal the identity, to unmask, as it were this unscrupulous businessman.

Van Dyke had called Sara during the week to say that he was pleased that she had met with Angel again. He had seen reports and photos in newspapers and felt that she had presented a favourable image to the press, and that she had acted in a responsible manner.

Sara had communicated with Raul, relaying the name of the café where Raul could meet up with Angel and all seemed in order for the counter-play to go ahead.

Sara and Tim believed they were in a stronger position, that they could affect the situation so as to solve the dilemma, in a way more to their satisfaction.

 

 

26

 

The funny thing about Van Dyke Parks was that though he felt driven, even obsessed to get his own satellite up into space, he also cared overly much for Sara. He was even coming to respect her more as an adult because of her astute choice of Tim as a boyfriend. Tim he felt was not someone he could play around with, Tim was a fighter who Van Dyke honestly believed could match himself in many ways. Not only did Tim believe in the power of love, which Van Dyke had long ago rejected as an unworkable ideal, Tim was knowledgeable about cyberspace and satellites and cables, and was a formidable adversary. Therefore Van Dyke stepped lightly when he felt he had to speak with Tim, he did not pull out all the stops, play his full hand, as he would have done with many another opponent from the business world. Van Dyke truly wanted Tim to be on his side, to share his vision and to help fight his battles, and secretly he wished that Tim would be his son-in-law for he could see that this would make Sara very happy. Sara could actually achieve more in her life with Tim by her side than going on alone and perhaps finding eventually someone less of a hero. This is what Van Dyke secretly believed and this belief influenced more than anything the events and decisions that were to occur shortly.

 

... ....

 

Raul called either Sara or Tim daily and informed them of his first observation of Angel in the Café Gijon. He had been in Madrid for a week going to the Café Gijon everyday and several times a day.

Then one evening as the regulars were assembling for the usual round of drinks and tapas, and chat, Raul spied Angel entering at the front door. Raul had been right on to him when he first went to the bar to order a drink.

‘I don’t believe we have met,’ Raul had said. Angel had introduced himself, and Raul had given him a false name. Angel had invited Raul to join him in a circle of friends standing to the side of the large café. Raul had made it appear obvious that he was gay by doing the floppy wrist routine. He also flattered Angel saying that he had seen him in a motorcycle race on T.V. and that he loved Angel’s bottom. He made it seem inevitable that the two of them would form a stronger bond in the weeks ahead.

In the second week after seeing Angel everyday in the Café Gijon, Raul ventured his first kiss, in the privacy of the toilettes. Two days later he presented Angel with a public kiss in front of Angel’s friends. All was going according to plan and Angel now invited Raul to his flat where more kissing, touching and exchanging of loving words took place. Then, Angel informed Raul that it was planned that he would marry within the month, at the start of autumn. Raul had caused a big scene worthy of the character in Oscar Wilde’s book, and Angel was very upset that his new friend soon apparently to be his lover may leave him if he married, for as Raul said, it would be wrong to continue their devoted relationship if Angel was to marry. Raul even promised to sleep with Angel if he could free himself from his commitment. All was going to plan.

 

 

27

 

Van Dyke Parks was strolling out one sunny morning on one of the pretty streets of the city of Bern; he was to meet with one of his beauties, one of his prizes, at a café not far away. Then, as he was looking across the street he noticed a rather over-weight woman in a wheel-chair. Normally such a thing would not maintain his attention, however just as he saw her, moving her chair closer to the curb in order to cross the road, she fell. The wheel-chair fell at the front and at one side causing the woman to fall forward, her whole body sprawling on the street and her head hitting the road. She was dazed and struggled to her feet, then tried to levitate herself back onto the wheel-chair. At this point another pedestrian helped her into her seat and Van Dyke felt relieved to see this woman once again wheel herself onto the road and across the street as if nothing had happened.

Something however had happened to Van Dyke. He felt transformed by witnessing this event as if it had been himself in the wheel-chair. He felt a weakness in his legs and an emptiness in his stomach. This could be me in the future. Maybe this is how I will be at some time in the future; on my own, vulnerable, needing another’s assistance, and a stranger at that. He thought how horrid it would be to be alone, perhaps not disabled but being in need of another’s help, being dependant.

And he thought of Sara, she was his daughter but perhaps one day she would be all he would have between himself and the eventual loneliness of old age. One day he may have only her, he may have to depend on her for his very life. He felt that he was indeed treating her wrongly; as a possession, not as another human being whom he may eventually have to depend upon to maintain his dignity.

Van Dyke had regrets, the first for a very long time, and he did not like the feeling.

 

... ....

 

The counter-play of Raul was proceeding in a successful manner. Although he was not a great actor, he felt committed to a cause – to help his friend and crew member Tim whom he had admired as being reliable, dependable, full of ideas and even often a humorous guide in this world of foreigners and scams and meanness.

Raul liked to be generous and he liked being friendly. He was comfortable in Madrid, in his own element, speaking his own language after many years, and he relaxed in the warm interior of the Café Gijon. Even when he and Angel had dinner together he felt relaxed and always magnanimously paid the bill.

Angel on the other hand was very impressed by his new friend and within two weeks was feeling swept off his feet by the devoted attentions he was getting. Raul made Angel feel that he was privileged to be in Angel’s presence, that he lived for the moments in which they were together, that he had great respect for Angel’s family and friends.

Raul made public scenes whenever the attraction seemed to be slightly unrecognised. He especially got angry with Angel because of the pending marriage, saying, I want you, I need you close to me, I need to be skin to skin. He stressed as he waved his arms in an animated way, the marriage was a perversion of love, the love that he felt for Angel. At first Angel, said that there was nothing he could do, it was all arranged; his father required it of him and he had never defied his father.

Gradually, day by day, Raul wore Angel down, appealing to his noble instincts and the sacredness of love. How could Angel, a good Catholic profane a sacred ceremony? How could he lie when it was Raul who loved him not this strange foreign woman?

Raul promised Angel that their relationship must end if Angel married for he would lose respect for the one he loved, the one he lived for, yearned for and felt devoted to.

Raul was a champion and though it was unnatural for him he knew he was doing a noble thing, one which would further enhance his value with Tim, Sara and the whole crew.

 

 

28

 

Van Dyke called Tim several times saying that he would not be swayed. He had made his mind up to have the satellite and that was that. He was reading in the press everyday about Tim’s forthcoming appearance on television. He said he wasn’t daunted. As far as he was concerned the claims in Tim’s novel were false, his satellite would go up, and there would be no crash of the telecommunications system. He said he himself did not know a lot about this kind of thing but he had checked with some acquaintances who knew more than he, and they had confirmed that the whole affair was a fabrication. He was not going to be panicked into dropping the scheme.

He was, he said, regretting that Sara had to be involved even regretting that Tim and Sara could not pursue their commitment in a more normal way. He also confirmed his offer to have Tim as a manager in the new company. He went on to outline how Tim could study further especially marketing, and then he would have prospects for the future that not many men Tim’s age did.

Van Dyke outlined a rosy future if only Tim would drop his plan to expose him. He regretted the fact that Tim felt he had to go to such lengths to prevent the marriage and that Tim would actually name Van Dyke in the futile attempt.

Sara meanwhile and approaching the date of Tim’s T.V. appearance had had a call from her agent in Milan. Her agent had this time gotten her an important engagement in Paris, so Sara had to pack and leave for Paris where she was to take part in another fashion parade. She was to be away from Bern and Tim for two weeks.

 

 

29

 

Tim was sharing all his communiqués between himself and Raul with the crew at Higher Ground 1 and at Van Gogh’s Café; with relish as well as frustration with the whole idea.

They were finding it extremely comical in a serious way and promised to give Raul a hero’s welcome, a special dinner party when he arrived back in Bern.

The crew also debated the pros and cons of Van Dyke’s offer of employment. They could see that Tim was enthused by the plan and would have liked to take Van Dyke up on it, had Van Dyke been a more honourable representative of his profession, and a more loving father.

Knuckles and Ingrid were stuck on a point, that is, that the plan for the satellite and the offer to Sara and Tim provided a good deal for them as being proto-managers and this they felt was the flaw in the plan. Van Dyke’s scheme was too in favour of management, they agreed, but what about the people at the bottom of the production pyramid, the people who were being exploited in sweat-shops, as machinists in the manufacture of clothing, they apparently would not benefit from the scheme under Van Dyke’s view of things. And in his view these workers were things in the process not people. If there ever was a hope that the marriage didn’t eventuate maybe Van Dyke would do something extreme and continue on his own with the satellite, this being his main obsession. Then the scheme as it appeared would do nothing to help the less privileged people who would continue to be exploited. Clearly Van Dyke had not thought the whole scheme through. Tim could see their point and agreed that if by any chance the deal was continued and himself and Sara involved, then he would insist that there be changes, perhaps the machinists producing the clothes could be put on some kind of profit-sharing basis and thereby benefit just as the managers and designers would.

It was pure speculation but it helped relieve the tension of not knowing just what may happen to Sara, to himself and to his opponent, the almost likable Van Dyke.

 

 

30

 

As time progressed Raul seemed to be getting nowhere and time was running out. The date for the wedding had been set and so as an act of desperation Raul invited Angel up to his hotel room as he had done before. Usually they just sat on the bed and talked but this time the urgency to convince Angel was uppermost in the heart and mind of Raul, therefore when Angel finally appeared at the door Raul made certain that the drinks, vodkas, were poured and he answered the door in his bath robe. His hair was still wet and dripping from the shower as he welcomed Angel with a tight hug and a firm kiss on the lips. He hated it, but he had to do it.

As he towelled dry his hair he let the bathrobe fall open to reveal his manhood, his very life. Angel was aghast, amazed and immediately fell to his knees and commenced to kiss and pamper Raul’s thighs. Raul stood up to this as best he could even for several moments. Then Raul led Angel to the bed where they lay in each other’s arms, kissing and caressing. By this time Angel had an erection and Raul, partly to cover the fact that he himself was not aroused pushed away the moaning Angel and pretended to burst into tears.

Sobbing, Raul cried, ‘It’s no good, I can’t do it. I love you but I can’t do it while you are going to marry that woman. If you must marry someone, marry me!’

‘Oh! Raul I do love you. And I would do anything to have you as my lover, forever and ever. Better you than a woman I don’t love. You are right, Raul, and I must have you,’ impassioned Angel.

‘Then stop this ceremony, tell your father that you cannot marry her, and marry me in my church, the Church of the Reformed Resurrection. In my church we recognize homosexual love and allow gay marriages. Come with me Angel, be mine as I will be yours. Marry me Angel.

You must!’ cried Raul.

‘Yes,’ moaned Angel, ‘I will do it.’

 

 

31

 

After Angel had departed from the hotel room Raul in a rage of remorse and to spite his victory skulled half the bottle of vodka and cried, then he laughed for he had achieved his goal, he had won the fight. He became forgetful of his self-concern and had another shower. Again after the shower he lay on the bed and had a fit of laughing. It hadn’t been so hard, he didn’t care about the physical game that he had been playing but he absolutely hated deceiving anyone. He hated lying; he hated himself for being convincing. He hit the bottle yet again, swilling the last of the vodka in the bottle into him, into an actor whom he felt was despicably cruel. Then he passed out on the bed, losing consciousness and leaving his troubled soul to concern itself another day.

 

... ....

 

That very day Tim was to appear on the T.V. programme. He had rehearsed any answers that he could think of, and he decided to stick to commentary about his novel; not to be side-tracked but to reaffirm what he had been saying about the book all along. That it was genuinely based on thorough research, correct in every detail and not meant to cause panic. He also wanted to reveal Van Dyke, well not really, he actually was feeling sorry for Sara’s father. However he saw no other course to take to release Sara from a fate without love.

In the morning Van Dyke called Tim saying that ha knew the basic idea of CYBERWARP was a sham. It was fooling the public but it wouldn’t fool him. This interview on television would do Tim more harm than if he named Van Dyke. In the long run Tim would look foolish but Van Dyke would have his satellite and his reputation would be intact. Van Dyke implored Tim not to make a fool of himself, and Tim once again practically begged Van Dyke to cancel the wedding.

They were getting nowhere and they both knew it. Neither would budge, neither would change their mind, and so the day passed in an unsatisfactory way until Tim left for the studios of the television channel.

Tim had not heard from Raul that day and he was concerned to have no news.

 

 

32

 

Tim entered the T.V. studios an hour before the programme was due to go on air across Europe and for all he knew excerpts would be shown on other channels around the world. He had brought a folder from which he continued to memorize sections of his presentation. He wanted to make no mistakes, no slip of the tongue. He didn’t want his material to seem out of date just because he didn’t quite believe it himself, or because of nervousness.

A half hour before the due time Tim received a phone call from Van Dyke.

‘The deals off!’ Pronounced Van Dyke. ‘Alvaro de La Prada says that his son is a homosexual and wishes instead to marry a man.’ Van Dyke laughed loudly. ‘But he was embarrassed and shammed by his son’s preference, and says that he will sell me his share of the satellite deal. I just have to raise the extra half of the money …. so, Tim, you needn’t denounce me. You can speak only about the novel and leave me out of it. You see that don’t you? There is not going to be a marriage with Angel and Sara, she is free to be with you.’

‘Ah! What a relief,’ replied Tim. ‘I was going to hate myself if I had done it. So I’ll just claim that the whole thing is a fiction, that no-one need worry.’

‘Yes Tim, do your best and good luck.’ Van Dyke terminated his call and Tim did a final check of his appearance before he was led towards the studio for the interview.

 

 

33

 

‘Tonight we have with us a young and talented author who has been causing a storm of controversy about his new novel, CYBERWARP. Tim Golden, your book is a best seller around the world. Can you tell us how you first got the idea for the novel?’ announced a typical looking presenter as she and Tim faced the bright lights and cameras.

‘Well,’ Tim began hesitantly, ‘I have been interested in cyber space, virtual reality and information technology all of my life. I am a specialist in these things. My first thought of writing this novel was when I saw a satellite in the sky one night. I was aware of that phenomena known as the green house effect and I put the two things together to produce the purely hypothetical supposition that one more satellite would overload the telecommunications system. The idea is an invention of my own and will never happen.’

‘Do you mean that the panic that has traversed the planet concerning this phenomena, the cyberwarp  is scientifically untrue?’ asked the announcer.

‘Yes, that’s right, it’s only a fiction story. Actually the capacity of the atmosphere to carry telecommunications signals is infinite, the disaster of a cyberwarp can never occur.’

‘Our viewers will be very pleased to know that their fears are unfounded, but doesn’t this reflect on your credibility?’ said the presenter.

‘The believability of the scenario only puts a feather in my cap for making fiction appear to be true and valid,’ replied Tim.

‘And what about your plan to expose the real identity of the main character in your novel, who was going to put up the final satellite and take a risk for financial gain?’ the presenter asked that question.

‘Well, seeing as I’ve admitted the scientific fallacy of the novel there doesn’t seem to be any point in exposing the businessman concerned. Satellites will always be sent into space and business people will always take chances. Nothing I do can change that, but all the same you can’t send any old muck up there,’  returned Tim, feeling that perhaps he was letting some fans of the theory of his novel down.

‘Do you intend to follow up this novel with another controversial book,’ asked the presenter.

‘Well,’ Tim replied, ‘maybe with something less spectacular, something more technical that can provide readers with a better idea of new technology and how it will affect our every day lives.’

‘Thank you Tim, thanks for your thought provoking novel and we hope that you can again write a book or novel that has such current appeal. Thank you.’

Tim saw the red light on the camera which had been focused on him go out and on the monitor in front of them he saw the presenter’s face as she led the viewers onto a new subject. He stood and quickly exited the studio.

Tim immediately called Sara on his mobile phone and told her the good news. They were both excited and pleased to know that their troubles were now finally over.

 

 

34

 

The crew were having one of their regular get-togethers at The Cat’s apartment. Present were Katie and Samson, Sylvie, Porky, Ingrid, Simon, Knuckles, Ronald, Raul and of course The Cat. They were scattered around the apartment in a random way, speaking loudly to each other and sipping on bottles of beer.

Although Tim and Sara were the stars of the gathering Raul had already received the hugs and handshakes of the crew and they were eagerly awaiting him to spill the beans and tell them to the last detail of his adventures in Madrid.

Van Dyke Parks had been invited for they felt that he was not such a bad case after all. Besides he had wanted to talk to the crew as he had read of their activities in Tim’s novel and he wanted to meet with them.

Spirits were high, one and all enjoying their togetherness because from month to month they being from the two centres of Higher Ground did not otherwise see much of each other at one place, on any occasion.

Raul would not be provoked although he said that it was wonderful to be in Madrid and to listen to some of his favourite music on the radio, the likes of Bustamante and Amaral. He kept diverting his friends by saying that the best music in the world was to be found in his own country, and he was proud.

The Cat’s small pony tail bobbed as he spoke, ‘but did you actually have to seduce him or did he seduce you?’ Everyone laughed but Raul would only continue with his praise of pop- flamenco and Latino music.

Mid-way through the evening Van Dyke Parks was let in with his latest flame, a tall blonde woman from Amsterdam. This Van Dyke was a different person when he had a woman on his arm. He attended to her as if she were a princess, bringing her drinks and finger-food the rest of the evening and well into the night.

The happiest person at the gathering was Sara. She felt liberated from a huge burden and continually hugged and teased Raul with comments such as – ‘My hero, my saviour, my dear friendly man!’ and, ‘If ever you need me just give me a call, you know my number!’

Not too far into the festivities Van Dyke stood and stepped to a position near the balcony windows, he turned, surveyed the general positions of everyone and began a long dissertation. He spoke about how relieved he felt that Sara had not been forced into a fate that he himself would not have tolerated. During the negotiations of the satellite deal he had lost his head and had thought only of himself.

He said he was glad that Sara and Tim could now pursue their relationship in a more normal way. Although he was unaccustomed to anyone opposing his aims or plans, he said he had to respect Tim for courageously continuing on the correct path for him and Sara. He had also gained respect for Tim’s knowledge of information technology and therefore proposed that Tim, and Sara join with him as junior partners in the scheme, to put the satellite into space and also put it to practical use.

Not only this was he prepared to offer for he had investigated the needs of such a business operation and the abilities of the team; he called the crew a team, and he believed that he could offer them all employment, the conditions of which could be negotiated on an individual basis.

Van Dyke opened his arms wide and finished with, ‘Well, what do you say?’

The crew were looking at each other, apparently awed by the prospect of these opportunities opening for them.

Tim was first to speak saying that if Sara agreed he would too, under one condition and that was, that the business pyramid would have to be more inverted to allow for profit sharing by employees at the bottom of such a pyramid as Van Dyke had proposed. ‘Everyone should get a fair deal,’ were Tim’s words.

Tim and Sara then began to talk amongst themselves and the rest of the crew did the same.‘What’s that your smoking, it smells familiar,’ said Tim.

‘It’s amphora pipe tobacco, I roll it, like Porky and I like it a lot,’ replied Sara.

Van Dyke went back to seat himself beside his pretty woman and the drinking and snacking began again. There was no firm agreement that night however something seemed to be understood and settled.

Van Dyke Parks was no longer the rogue the crew had originally thought him to be, he was in their eyes quite human and generous besides.

 

 

35

 

It was later in the week. Sara and Tim had decided to celebrate in an appropriate fashion. They booked a table at Gables Club where the Blue Room Sara had recommended looked somehow more pleasant to her than when she had been there under other circumstances.

‘Let’s go Dutch and treat ourselves.’ Sara had said.

The candle flames threw a dancing light on their faces as they stared engrossed into each other’s eyes. They could feel relaxed now; a tension, a stress had been lifted from their shoulders allowing them to be themselves without a contemptible future hanging over them.

The sound of violins, cellos and double basses caressed their ears and some fine white wine wetted their pallets. It was one of those evenings that they would remember always and cherish like the first day of the rest of their lives. Tim still had a few questions though.

‘How is your father going to raise the extra cash to buy out the de La Pradas?’ he asked.

‘He is going to sell all his boutiques in Turkey, sell the mansion and buy a small apartment in the centre of Bern. And also, he will sell his Mercedes and the Audi and buy a Vespa scooter,’ Sara smiled.

‘Brave man,’ said Tim, impressed that Van Dyke could be so dedicated as to radically alter his lifestyle.

‘And you know that woman from Amsterdam he was with the other night?  Well, he says he loves her, and he has proposed to her,’ said Sara.

‘You mean he is going to employ her in his business, give her a job?’  Said a surprised Tim.

‘No silly one, he’s actually proposing to marry her.’  Sara’s smile turned to a laugh. Tim laughed with her.

‘Well it just goes to show, you can’t keep a good man down!’

‘That’s right and a Parks at that,’ replied Sara.

‘Looks like you’ll gain one satellite but lose another,’ said Tim.

‘Oh! I do love you Tim, you’re so dramatic,’ smiled Sara.

‘And you are the most romantic woman I have ever met!’ exclaimed Tim.

‘And the last one you will ever meet – if you know what I mean?’

‘Oh Sara!  I know exactly what you mean.’

 

 

 

end

 


© Copyright 2018 Raymond Crane. All rights reserved.

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