05-02 Games for Children

by Ernest Bywater

Tags: Drama, Politics, Workplace, Extra Sensory Perception, Young Adult, Vignettes,

Desc: Action/Adventure Story: In March 2009 a company is taken over, and the new owners renege on an arrangement with the View Port Orphanage. Gerry is notified, and he steps in to help. The result is a major change in the situation, and more fun for the kids. But there are some problems to be overcome. Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord, except in the corporate world - never let kids down, it can hurt you.

At 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday 3rd March, 2009 Marcella is standing in front of the View Port Internet (VPI) Head Office taking a break when she notices a man leaving the View Port Orphanage with a fast long stride and a sour expression on his face. Looking up at the orphanage front door, it's next door to VPI, she sees Stella, the orphanage manager, with an odd look on her face and she appears to be about to cry. She walks closer, and calls out, "Stella, come on in and have a hot chocolate. You look like you can do with one." Nodding, Stella speaks to someone behind her before closing the door and walking over.

Together they enter the VPI offices and head for Marcella's office. She asks one of the staff to organise hot chocolates and some biscuits for them. Once in the office Stella starts to cry. Marcella takes her in her arms and gives her a cuddle. She's shocked by this because Stella is such a strong and very much in control person, this isn't like her, not at all. You don't manage an orphanage for twenty years without being strong. They stand like that for several minutes, they don't move when the staff member walks in with the hot chocolate and biscuits. Betty, the staff member making the delivery, is shocked to see Stella crying and in need of comforting, because she's usually the one comforting others.

Betty knows Stella well, because she spent six years in the orphanage after her parents died in a car accident near here. She remembers how strong Stella was in helping her get over her grief and how she watched Stella help the children deal with the recent invasion. Returning to her desk she wonders what she can do to help. Suddenly she smiles, she knows exactly what she can do. It's a standard rule in View Port: 'If you have a tricky problem talk to Gerry. He can fix anything, and if he can't, no one can.' Picking up her phone she hits the speed dial and calls Gerry. She often wondered why Gerry's number is in the business speed dial system; and now she knows, she thinks.

Gerry is in the View Port High School Study Centre on a free period when his mobile phone vibrates, he has the sound turned off while at school. Answering the phone he listens to Betty talk. Leaving the Study Centre he stops at the school administration centre to let them know he's leaving the school and may not be returning this afternoon, they enter it into the records.

He walks to the VPI offices and enters the building. He goes direct to Marcella's office, knocks on the door, and enters when she says he can. Entering the office he sees Stella is distraught and Marcella isn't happy, either. He looks at them, sits down, and says, "Talk to me."

Giving him a weak smile Stella sits up in the lounge more, and says, "You know how Farly Ferries has the class leader of their new cross between a ferry and a cruise ship touring the region, and how we've assisted them for the last year with their publicity while they fit it out?" He nods, because he knows a lot more about it than she does. He, as the Royal Protector, approved their involvement. He's also starting to get a bit ahead of her because the company underwent a hostile takeover in mid December. She says, "Part of the deal was for the ship to be here during the coming school holidays and they'd take all the children for a cruise down to the tip of the Dareed Peninsula and back. Spending five days and four nights at sea in the cruise ship. I've just had a visit from Mister Farly. He was the junior partner in the business, it used his name and expertise while the senior partner provided all the funding. The senior partner recently died and his children aren't interested in the business at all, they sold out their interests in a way that's forced Mister Farly to sell up for less than his share was worth. The new owners have cancelled the holiday trip, because they see no financial return to them for going ahead with it. Mister Farly is leaving them, but his last official duty is to inform me of the change of plans. This morning he explained it all and handed me an official letter cancelling the arrangements. He's not happy and has gone back to the View Port Arms to get drunk. For months the children have been looking forward to the good holiday on a fancy ship, and now I have to tell them it's off. And after all the hard work they did helping to promote the ship and company. It's so unfair to the children."

Gerry looks up, and says, "If I remember right, the trip was for the period April eleven to April fifteen, correct?" Stella nods her head. Going to the desk he picks up the telephone and signals for the reception desk. When Betty answers he asks her to call the View Port Arms and to get Mr Farly on the phone for him. She's to signal when she has him. He looks at Stella, and says, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but the orphanage currently has one hundred and twenty-nine girls plus twenty-seven boys in residence?" She nods her head while she wonders how he knows the exact numbers. He smiles, and answers the phone when it rings. Betty connects him to Mr Farly. Gerry asks, "Mister Farly, I hear your association with Farly Ferries is finishing, is that correct?" He listens for some time.

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Finally, he says, "That's all well and good, Mister Farly, but I wish to speak with you about employing you. I'm currently in the office of the CEO of View Port Internet, please come and see me now before you get too drunk. I wish to discuss employing you at my new shipyard." Stella is looking very wide-eyed at this, while Marcella is smiling. He hangs up the phone.

Walking around Marcella's desk he sits down and uses the intercom. When Betty answers, he says, "Betty, Gerry. I'll be here in Marcella's office for a while. I'm expecting a Mister Farly to arrive shortly, please show him in. In the meantime, please get me Captain Harding, he'll be aboard either the Sea Dream or the Dream Girl, try Sea Dream first. I also want to speak with Major Lancer of the Protector's Office and Lee Mills of the Department of Tourism and Development. All the numbers are in the phone book. When you get through to them tell them you're calling for Mister G. Mannheim and put them through to me here. Thank you."

Stella's eyes go wider and Betty is a little bit shocked, but she's a good professional, and she gets on with following the instructions. Turning to Stella, he says, "Stella, you're about to see and hear some things, things you never saw or heard. Understand?" She slowly nods. He smiles because he knows he can trust her to keep quiet.

A moment later the phone rings, it's Captain Harding. Gerry says, "Hi, David, what bookings do you have for both boats for the period April eleven to nineteen?" He listens, and says, "OK, I'll talk to the VPI people, you ring the rest and tell them I'm pre-empting the bookings. As of now that period is reserved for the View Port Orphanage, the boys will sail on Dream Girl and the girls will sail on Sea Dream. Leave just before dusk on April eleven, return late afternoon of the nineteenth. Please prepare suitable itineraries for them, try and organise for them to be out of sight of each other for most of it, but close enough for mutual support and with some joint activities on some of the islands. Thanks." Hanging up, he turns to Marcella, "Please explain to the staff about the change in the arrangements for the staff party. I'll arrange for you to have access to the ballroom at Highcliff." Both ladies go wide-eyed at that statement of intent.

The phone rings and Betty is about to put Major Lancer through, when Gerry says, "Betty, I also need to speak to Colonel Rochester at Highcliff, please."

He explains the situation to Major Lancer and requests him to get some lawyers onto the matter to see if they've legal grounds to take Farly Ferries to court for breach of the contract. He authorises the Protectors Office, through the Child Welfare Office, to do this on behalf of the View Port Orphanage and its children. The major promises to get on it straight away. Gerry hangs up just in time to meet Mr Farly.

Gerry welcomes him and asks him to sit down. Mr Farly is surprised to see how young Gerry is, and to see Stella is there too. The phone rings. Gerry excuses himself and answers it. Betty tells him Mrs Mills is out of the office and will ring back when she returns. She's expected back in about thirty minutes. She puts Colonel Rochester's aide through to him.

He says, "Hi, Steve. Yes, it's really me! Put Erica on, please." A moment later he's talking to Erica. After explaining the situation, he says, "I know the ballroom is free on April eleven and I'm shifting the VPI staff party to it because I'm kicking them off the Sea Dream so the kids can have it. Please sort out the arrangements at your end so it'll happen, and fax Marcella at the VPI offices with confirmation." He listens for a while, and hangs up.

Turning to Mr Farly, he says, "Everyone calls me Gerry or sir, choose the one you're happiest with. Do you mind if I call you George?"

Mr Farly laughs, "Go ahead how you wish, I think you'll do that, anyway!"

Grinning, Gerry replies, "OK. You're about to be out of work and are very pissed off with the new owners of Farly Ferries. How would you like to work for me as a ship designer and manager of a new shipyard well down on the Dareed Peninsula? The designs you've done for Farly Ferries, how do you stand with regards to the copyrights on them?"

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