Interesting Times
Chapter 07

Copyright© 2011 by Ernest Bywater. All rights reserved

Afternoon Talks

By half past twelve the last of the staff gather their personal effects while supervised by police and they leave the Jacobs Accounting Services offices. Most get to work by public transport or in a friend’s car. Many are asking other staff for a lift somewhere because they don’t have any means to get home at this time. Mandy Bellows turns to Alice Watson and asks, “Are you going to visit that boy in the hospital?”

“Yes, why?”

“I’ve an appointment to speak to someone at the hospital, it’s about a new job and I’d like a lift, if I may?”

“Sure, no problem. Let’s get going.” Raising her voice Alice shouts, “I’m heading to the hospital, does anyone want a lift that way?” Two more staff indicate they’d like lifts. Her actions cause other staff to call out where they’re going while offering lifts to others. In a few minutes everyone’s got a lift in the general direction of where they wish to go.

While Alice drives to the hospital the four of them talk about the police raid and how it’ll affect their jobs. They soon agree they need to be looking for new jobs. Mandy smiles when she says, “I’m on my way to speak to a man about a job offer. I’ll ask him if he has other positions open at the moment.” The others thank her for trying and they give her their mobile phone numbers to call them if there are any jobs for them. Alice wonders who at the hospital is hiring accounting staff as all of the hospital recruiting is done through an agency not based at the hospital.

Alice parks in the hospital car park and they all get out. The two others head to the nearby light industrial estate where their spouses are working while Alice and Mandy head for the hospital entrance. They get in the lift together while talking about things in general. Alice wonders where Mandy is going when they both go to push the button for the fourth floor. She turns to Mandy, asking, “Who are you going to see?”

“I don’t really know. We set it up this morning. He’s on the fourth floor and said his name is Saint.”

“I see. I’ll introduce you.” Alice wonders what’s going on when they leave the lift on the fourth floor. They enter Matt’s room and she says, “Matt, this is Mandy Bellows. What are you doing offering work to my boss?” This surprises Mandy as Alice is talking to a teenage boy.

“Sorry, Mum, I didn’t know Mandy was your boss. I’ll need a local CPA to handle my accounts but I don’t have enough for a full time person. Dot mentioned there’s a lot of good accounts staff in the area looking for work with few jobs and there’s lots of businesses looking for accounting services because all the good ones are over-worked. So I want to set up an accounting service of my own to handle my stuff and to get a lot of that available business. It’ll also give a lot of people jobs.”

“Oh, I did wonder. The police raided work today and they sent us all home. We may all be out of work soon.”

Matt isn’t expecting that to happen, but he decides he needs to check it out. He reaches over to punch the speed dial he set up for the police station this morning. They answer, and he asks for Sergeant Mason, he hits the speaker phone button when he gets put through. “Afternoon, Sergeant, Matt Dyer, what’s happening with the business and staff at Jacobs Accounting?” Mandy and Alice are both surprised at this.

“Hi, Matt. We raided the place and found an automated system to record all phone calls in, out, and internal. The system transcribes them in real time and checks them for key words. Any hits and the transcript is sent direct to one of the bosses. A neat system, but totally against the law. Jacobs and his senior staff will eventually spend some time in special government housing but they’ll be out on bail tonight, except Jacobs. He can get bail for the phone stuff but we’re denying bail due to the assault and concerns he’ll attack you again.” This gets shocked looks from the ladies. “They should be open for business as normal Monday and we expect them to continue in operation after the court cases, but with some changed practices and some new senior management. The officer in charge is still following up some leads but we’ve little else to charge them with. The bookkeepers have found a few questionable practices with some clients’ books that aren’t in line with the accounting standards but they’re not against the laws; close, but not over the line.”

“Thanks for the summary. Can you please arrange to have a public service announcement for the staff to turn up at work Monday. Most think the place is permanently closed, so they’re worried about jobs.”

“Oh, hell! I’ll get right on that. I’ll have them make it part of the news reports they’ll be back in full operation Monday morning. Take care of yourself because Jacobs has some not nice friends.”

“Don’t worry, I will.” He hangs up and he turns to look at Mandy. “Regardless of what you may be thinking, Mandy, were I you I’d make sure I’ve some strong support when you go to work on Monday to hand in your notice. Your boss saw a transcript of our conversation then he came here to have a piece of me. He attacked me so I decked him.” Alice laughs and Mandy’s jaw goes slack while she tries to work out how a boy strapped to a bed can knock down an attacker. “He’s in the lock-up on charges of assault causing bodily harm. He was very angry when he arrived and he was not thinking. During the attack he mentioned recording our phone conversation so I made out a complaint about him doing that because it’s against the law. That led to the police raid to uncover the recording system. Now we need to talk about work. Get a drink, a snack, and sit down.”

Alice sits down and gets her lunch out as she takes her own lunch to work. Mandy does the same. Dorothy goes over to the drink machines and asks, “What do you want to drink?” Both ladies give answers and reach for their purses, but stop when they see Dorothy punch the codes and the drinks drop. She smiles at them, “No money needed for these machines. They’re here for Matt to serve drinks to his visitors. It’s just the company providing the drinks has only coin operated fridges so that’s what he has, but the coin slots are turned off. Sorry, these aren’t fully chilled yet.” They smile when they accept their cool drinks.

Business Talks

Matt opens the discussions, “OK, Mandy, I need a good local CPA. At the moment what I’m thinking is to set up a new accounting service with a senior CPA as the manager, an office manager, office staff, junior CPAs, and general accounting staff as required to properly service the client accounts. I can do this three ways. One, loan you the money for you to set up shop at a very low rate of interest and good payback terms. Two, go into a partnership agreement with me as a silent partner with deep pockets. Last is for me to set up a new Accounting Division within Dyer Services and to employ you as the division head. Each option has good and bad points for both of us. Which do you prefer?”

“Damn, I’ve always dreamed of running my own business, but I’m not ready to run those risks yet. It best be number three.”

“That’s OK. I’ll let you work out the pay rates with Dot. I want a contract for ten years with options for us to extend it on our mutual agreement or for you to buy me out then. I want to ensure I’m dealing with the same person all of the time I’m living in the region. OK?” Mandy is stunned, but she nods yes. “Good. You’ll need a good office manager. Let them run the office while you run the professionals. OK?” Another nod. “You’ve the final say about who you hire for accounting work, and the final decision on the office manager position. But the office manager has final say on the office support staff employment as they work direct to him or her. All client work to be in line with the various accounting standards Dot will give you a list of. Each year all of the books will be audited by an external firm whose work you’re happy with, we do not audit our own work, clear?” She nods again, but with a big smile as he’s demanding all the things she’s been asking for at Jacobs. “The hard part will be separating Matt the client from Matt the big boss. To make that easier the business communications will be through Dot. Any client communication will be direct with you. I’ll be involved at the corporate level with the policy decisions and such but it’ll be via Dot as the Chief Financial Officer of the head corporation. That way you don’t have to worry about me looking over your shoulder as your boss and I don’t have to worry about your day to day work stuff.” Both Mandy and Dot smile at this clear division of what could be a conflict of interests. “If you wish to poach staff from Jacobs make sure they’ll work the way you want them to. Please don’t steal all of his staff, and please employ some of the good ones who aren’t working at the moment. Now you best get with Dot to work out figures and come up with some office space figures to give to real estate agents so they can look for space for you to set up in. Don’t be stingy, get a place with lots of room for you to expand into without having to move.” They smile at each other and shake left hands. Mandy picks up the remains of her lunch and goes across the room to talk with Dot.

Family Financial Talk

When Mandy and Dot settle down for a quiet talk in the corner Alice moves up close to Matt and asks, “Matt, can you afford to pay to set up a new accounting service? It takes a lot of money to do it right!”

“Yes, I can! Dad was looking at buying a business. Paul was doing the work. A new offer had been received during the week and Paul gave me the file to look at. I wasn’t happy about some of the information that was lacking. I rang the current owner to ask for permission to send in independent auditors. He refused. So I told him to stuff his business. Dot has the money for that purchase set aside and it’s now handy to set up this new division.” Alice slowly nods. “But apart from that, think about the money I’ve been spending this week. Hell, yesterday I bought some real estate for about three times what I was prepared to spend. But I had the cash on hand to pay it immediately on agreement, and I got a big cut for doing so. That was a matter of a couple of million dollars. If I wasn’t very well off where would I get that sort of money?”

“Sorry, Matt! I never thought about it that way. I’m so used to your family having money to do things I’ve never given it a second thought before this came up. I gather you’re very rich then and I shouldn’t let you’re spending money on us worry me!”

“Correct. But if you think I’m going overboard let me know. I’ve no idea how much I’m worth since that’s Dot’s job and worry. She tells me what I need to know to make the executive decisions as the chairman of the board of the various companies I own. That’s how it’s worked since I took the chair a year or so back.” Alice’s jaw sags because she wasn’t aware Matt had been that involved. “You must’ve known Mum’s family was rich!” A nod in reply. “Didn’t you ever know how rich?”

“No. I knew your grandfather was, and still is, the CEO of the Grace group of companies and had to be well paid, but that’s all.”

“Oh, I thought you knew Grace Enterprises was owned by Mum’s grandparents.” Alice sits up straight at that news. “You know those two nice landscapes in my bedroom?” A nod. They’re gifts from Great Gran and are originals, not reproductions like I say to keep people quiet.”

“OK, I get the message. No need to worry when you spend money on the family, and don’t spread it about. Right?”

“Correct. I bought the house you rent because I want to extend it for me to live there and I don’t want us to have to worry about moving until we want to move. With me owning it no one can force us out. As I own it through my trust company the rental support Dad gets from his work will continue to be provided. Thus no impact on your budget.”

The conversation moves on to other matters and the current news. After about thirty minutes Dot and Mandy end their talks to call Paul over to prepare some papers for them. While he does that Dot calls Betty and she gets her started on looking for office space.

Managing Help

During these talks Monica has been in and out, as per her usual day. Seeing the talks are ending she asks Mandy and Dot, “Mind if I suggest a possible office manager for you?” They both wave a hand for her to continue. “I’ve a cousin with an MBA who’s hit the glass ceiling in her current workplace so she’s looking for a more challenging job. I’m sure she can do the work. Where can I get her to send her resume?”

Mandy smiles, “Can you call her and ask her to pop over for a late lunch, please?” Monica nods yes and she goes to make the call.

A minute or so later Monica returns, “Claire was just going to lunch when I rang, so she’s coming over to talk to me.” She hands over a piece of paper, “This is the website where her resume is on display.”

Dot takes it, “Thank you. I’ll check this out.” She soon has the web page displayed on the television via Matt’s computer. Both Mandy and Dot are happy with what they’re reading there.

A little later a woman in her early thirties arrives and is introduced to Mandy and Dot by Monica. They talk for about half an hour before they ask Paul to prepare some more paperwork. During this Mandy often glances over at Matt, but he keeps out of it. This is now her job and responsibility. As much as he wants to be involved he has to let her do it. She smiles when she sees he’s making an effort to keep out of it.

Developing Designs

About two thirty Alice calls Joe to tell him she’s got the afternoon off and will collect Mary. A little after that she goes to collect her. Dot, Mandy, and Claire leave soon after that to meet a real estate agent to go and look at some office space that’s available.

Alice and Mary arrive back at the same time as Nadia arrives with some plans to look at; that’s damn fast work. Naturally Alice and Mary have to go over the renovations to their house first. Alice is very happy with the proposed changes that include all she asked for and a few things she’d not thought of. Matt ropes Paul into looking at the plans too. Everything looks good to Matt, although some of the footprints have changed a little. His biggest worry is connecting the flat he’ll live in with the house rented to Joe and Alice. Nadia set it up with a two way entrance between the two that’s easy to lock off from either side so the place can be used as two residences or one huge double residence; all OK. Both have easy interior access to their own garages as well. He approves the designs as they are as the changes aren’t an issue for him.

The only item left is the numbering and naming of the residences. The street numbers run from left to right on that side of the street. Matt owns three houses numbered eighty-six, eighty-eight, and ninety. The new place will have twelve residences in it with the back six accessed between the left hand two houses. The flats over the front three garages could be labelled as A and B so the Watson family and Matt could be 90A and 90B, but Matt doesn’t like that approach. He thinks for a moment then he starts some Internet research which doesn’t take long.

Matt looks at Nadia, “First, run the renovations past the current tenants and have them sign off on them. Also have them sign off on the whole development. If they don’t like it they can move. I don’t want any complaints about things later. I’ll have Mandy and Dot recalculate the rents for the whole place once all the costs are in. I suspect the old houses may have a drop in rent, but that’s for the number crunchers to work out. Now unit numbers, the whole development is street numbers eighty-six to ninety. I want the old mailboxes out as soon as it can be organised, thus the new mailboxes need to go up very quick, so make it the first work done. Got that?” They all nod to show they understand.

He continues, “I want a nice area on each side of the main drive: one to be the mailboxes at the right height, one for the garbage bins, and both at the same height. The estate is to be Saint Matthew’s Manor with that and the street numbers eighty-six to ninety on both those units.” Mary giggles at him getting his own back for the saint joke. “The residences will be numbered as units one to twelve, starting at the front left with one for the house and two for the apartment, then the inside units, then the houses on the far front right. Both numbers and unit names to be on each unit and its mailbox. Unit names are saints, but just the name only; they’re Ansgar, Budoc, Cedd, Declan, Egbert, Finbarr, Gelert, Hedwig, Isfrid, Judoc, Kessog, Lorcán. Thus the Watson family is in Kessog and I’m in Lorcán. People can use the numbers or names as their addresses. On each side of the drive into the rear playgrounds I want a sign that says Honah Lee because that’s the name of the recreational area. The left play area to be named The A with the play area on the right named The B, and the pool enclosure to be named The C. Oh, I want a set of vehicle access doors in the side of the pool enclosure directly in line with the drive beside Kessog for use by emergency vehicles if needed. Got all that, Nadia?” A nod yes with a big smile. “OK, get the signs made up real nice in some fancy script that’s easy to read. I’ll leave that up to you to do, along with supervising the construction. Do all of the apartment entrances like the one for Lorcán. Now all you need do is send Mandy and Dot a set of costs for them to approve or beat you bloody over for being too high.”

Nadia laughs, “I can handle all of that. I was able to get this done quick because the new stuff is mostly off the shelf stuff I’ve been playing with over the years. Stuff I’d like to do if given a free hand. That’s why the size and shapes on the new buildings are a bit changed. Last night I hardly slept while making minor changes and putting this together. A free hand on a project is rare and it got me really fired up. Thanks for trusting me to do this right. Most of the time I do the plans and that’s it. This one I can manage all the way. I like that. I’ll talk to the other residents today or tomorrow so I can get the paperwork started with the council on Monday.”

“Don’t forget, everything you can think of in the way of energy and water efficiency and conservation. Solar cells on all the roof back slopes to feed back into the grid too. Let’s see if the place can be as close to self powered as possible. Also a full high speed network in all buildings.”

A few more minutes are spent discussing details. Nadia is one very happy designer when she leaves. This is her first major project to take from start to finish. She’ll make it a show piece because it’ll be a good marketing point to show future clients what she can do. The others are happy with what’s planned for the existing houses as well.

The rest of the afternoon goes well with quiet talk while Matt, Alice, and Paul help Mary with her homework. They’ve got it all done when Dot and Mandy turn up again. They’re very happy about something.

Mandy says, “We found the perfect place. A large three story office block with plenty of parking and close to the bus runs. The top floor and half of the ground floor have tenants who plan to move out sometime in the next several months. By then we’ll have a good idea of how much we’ll need and we’ll only lease out the area we don’t need. I was looking at leasing it but Dot bought it. She beat the owner down ten percent by offering immediate payment. She said she recently learnt that trick from you!” Matt smiles as he nods yes. “Well, Claire has gone to give her notice and she’ll organise the fit-out and furnishing next week. I hope to start hiring staff on Tuesday. I’ve got ads set for the local papers for the next week, starting tomorrow. Damn, I can’t believe this.” She turns to Alice, “Alice, I hope you’ll quit Jacobs and come work for me because I’ve got you nicely trained with what I want.”

They all laugh when Alice nods her agreement while saying, “Not sure I like your big boss, but I’ll work for you.”

More Housing Issues

Just before dinner Nadia returns to check a couple of things with Matt. Joe arrives at the same time. She walks in and says, “Matt, I was out at the site and spoke with the other residents, they’re happy with the changes and have signed a form Paul ran up for me earlier. They’ve given approval to the lot. One did suggest I speak to the neighbours and I’ve spoken to them all. The neighbours on both sides and the rear corners asked if you’d let their children use the playgrounds. I said I’d ask. They’ve signed off giving their approval, anyway. I checked, and there aren’t any parks for the younger kids nearby.”

Matt turns to his computer and he starts to close it down. Guessing what’s coming Nadia gets hers out to start it up. In a moment she has the area for a few blocks around his on display for him. He says, “Heck, the nearest play park for little kids is over a kilometre away. Yeah, I don’t mind it being opened to the neighbourhood kids. We best put in some playground equipment for the older kids in the other half of The B too.” While looking at the image he asks, “Do those houses around the Manor have vehicle access to their backyards?”

Nadia checks the images and some data on her computer. “No, they don’t. They all run too close to the side boundaries.”

“Nadia, where do the water mains run?”

She brings them up on the map, “That’s why I wanted the extra space at the back boundary. The water main has a right of way there.”

“OK. Some more minor changes. The driveways running up to the fences on the side and the back. Don’t stop them short and give them gates big enough for a fire-truck to get through. It can have two parts, one for people and then both for the fire vehicles. All of the driveways are to be wide enough and strong enough to handle fire trucks. The ends can be done up as spaces for visitor parking with bollards that can be dropped down. Get padlocks from the fire brigade so they’ve got the keys to the locks on the bollards and gates. Put a pathway along the side fence of Delta to people gates into the backyards of the neighbours. That’ll give the neighbours quick and safe access to the playgrounds.” That’s seven gates for the three houses at the back, two on the same street and two who back on between them from the side streets. Thus all of the neighbours will have easy and safe direct access without having to go out onto the street. “Speak to the fire station boss about putting in three fire hydrants along the back, one in each corner with one in the middle. I want them to be able to stop any fires next door before they reach us.” She smiles because she’s sure the safety measures will help sell the idea to the local council and the fire brigade. He thinks a bit more. “We’ll pay to put all the hydrants in if they won’t. But try the council and the fire department first to see if they’ll pay anything.” They all study the new proposed development and discuss it at length. But no more ideas come forward.

While they talk Paul hands Matt a steel pointer he brought for him. Made from stainless steel and about fifty centimetres long with a nice thick rubber grip at one end. The grip unit is a grey rubber tube about ten centimetres long and four centimetres in diameter. The rod runs through this to extend out the centre of the top. It’s seven millimetres at the base and for most of its length, but it tapers to a two millimetre point over the last ten centimetres. Matt has a lot of fun using it to point at things while he discusses them, and to get people’s attention by a light tap with it. The rod makes showing what he’s talking about easier because it’s a lot clearer than just using his hand or finger to wave at things. He soon gets into the habit of leaving it on his stomach when it’s not in his hand.

After a while Paul goes out to get them all some dinner to eat while Matt has his official dinner. Matt also has some extra food Paul brings back for him. Soon after dinner Joe, Alice, Dorothy, Paul, and Nadia leave while Mary is in the en-suite changing into a t-shirt to stay the night with Matt.

Matt and Mary spend some time talking and they watch a DVD from his new collection before settling down for the night. They’re asleep soon after they snuggle up. Matt smiles when he thinks about how easy it is to get used to having someone cuddle up to you each night.


Author’s Note: For those of you who aren’t used to the metric measurements ten centimetres is close enough to four inches to not worry about the difference while a metre is so close to forty inches it’s irrelevant. Fifty centimetres is half a metre or twenty inches. Two and a half centimetres, or twenty-five millimetres, equates to an inch in imperial measurements. In the same vein six hundred millilitres is very close to a pint. Cans of soft drink are typically three hundred and seventy-five millilitres.


Surprise Visitor

Saturday morning starts with Joe, Alice, Dorothy, and Paul turning up with breakfast when Matt’s official breakfast does. Just after eight thirty Sergeant Mason arrives to talk to Matt while off duty. He’s taken a liking to the youth so he wishes to learn more about him as he feels Matt will have a significant impact on the locals over the next few years.

At just on nine o’clock Joe, Alice, Dorothy, and Paul leave to have a look at Matt’s new property. They leave Mary, Matt, and the sergeant talking about the area and what there is for local teens to do for fun, which isn’t much at all.

About ten minutes after the others leave two men walk in. One is very well dressed and he seems to strut in: he’s in his late twenties and he acts like he owns the place. The second man is in a suit that isn’t as flashy and he’s about forty years of age, but the way his eyes keep moving makes Matt think he’s a bodyguard.

Mason recognises them and doesn’t like them. He has a quick word with Mary to send her out to the main wards to speak with some kids for a while. He changes his position so it’s easy for him to get at the 9 mm pistol he carries in a cross draw belt holster when off duty. He’s one of the few New South Wales police offices to get a private licence to carry a pistol, and he does carry one when off duty.

The snappy dresser looks around then he moves toward Matt while saying, “You this guy Saint that’s got my friend Jacobs up on charges?”

Matt can tell this guy’s trouble, plus his injuries are causing him quite a lot more pain than is usual today, so he’s not his usual polite self. He replies, “I’m called Saint Matt and I did lay some charges against an idiot called Jacobs who attacked me yesterday! So what? Who are you?”

The man moves up to be right beside the bed. “I’m Mario Garibaldi, I run most things in this city. Jacobs does my books for me. He can’t do the books while he’s locked up. So you drop the charges and get him released. Then we be friends.”

Matt half frowns, “I don’t think so, as I’ve no reason to do that.”

He leans toward Matt to intimidate him by his physical presence while saying, “You got plenty of reason. We be friends and I don’t hurt you or your family, understand?” When he leans forward his coat opens a bit and Matt can see he has a shoulder holster with a gun in it.

 
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