Fiction Saturday – Untitled Story – Part Five
Fiction Saturday – Untitled Story – Part Five
Driving up to the Golden Pyramid Headquarters was like approaching a Palace more than an industrial office building. After checking in at the security gate I drove over a short bridge and into their parking lot. My first moat. Even though he hadn’t been seen in two years nobody parked in the spaced marked “Adam Cream.”
At first, the receptionist wouldn’t do anything other than refer me to the “Cream Museum” in an area off the main lobby.
“Miss, I’m here at the request of Mrs. Cream. Do you want me to call her? If I know her at all, you’ll be looking for a new job tomorrow. Now – I’m here to speak with – who would you recommend?” That did it.
“Mr. Lundqvist, the company historian?”
On my elevator ride to the 44th floor I made another mental note about my client. Ginger didn’t impress me as being all that interested in the oil business, but she had enough muscle around the office to put fear into the hired help.
Lundqvist, the company historian looked the part. No more than 5’ 6” tall, a slight build, wire rimmed glasses, and hair that looked like it was trying to make a getaway. All I had to do was ask him to tell me about Adam Cream and he was off to the races. I had the feeling that not many people ever spoke to him about anything. I had to jump in to ask him any questions.
“Excuse me, Mr. Lundqvist. What did Mr. Cream do to relax? Did he have any hobbies? How did he meet his wife?” His replies were like reading a press release – answers without saying anything.
“You know, Mr. Lundqvist, I feel like I know less about Adam Cream now than when I walked in here.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way, sir. I’ve given you my usual presentation. No one has ever complained before. Is there anything else I can do to make your visit here more enjoyable?”
“Since you ask, Mr. Lundqvist, yes. Tell me about Ricky – Adam Cream’s son.”
You’d have thought I’d asked him to tell me a dirty joke about his mother.
“Ricky, sir? I’m not sure who…” “You know who Ricky is. Don’t play stupid with me.” I took a couple of steps closer to him until he was looking at my lapels. “Tell me about Ricky or I’ll just tell everyone you did, and I’ll spice it up a bit.”
“Ricky is Mr. Cream’s son from his first wife.”
“And? Keep going.”
“Ricky – Richard, actually, dropped out of Stanford after getting into some trouble at a party. I don’t know the details.”
I gave him a lopsided grin. He held out his hands like a Blackjack dealer leaving the table. “Honest, I don’t know.”
“Keep talking, Lundqvist.”
“That almost broke Mr. Cream’s heart. He wanted his son to be his heir. Instead, Richard just got odd jobs, living from hand to mouth, getting into small scrapes with the law. Mr. Cream tried to help him, but Richard wanted no part of it. It was so sad – is so sad, and now, with Mr. Cream missing like he is….”
“Where does everybody think Mr. Cream might be? What do you think, Mr. Lundqvist?
“Oh, my. I’m sure I don’t know. I mean, there are rumors, of course, but most of us think that he’s dead – some kind of accident.”
“Well, no one would walk away from all of this.” He swept his arms around, taking in the expansive empire that is Golden Pyramid Oil. “This is his life’s work. Then there are some who think that he did just that – that he walked away and is living in Colorado or someplace – a hermit.”
“Leaving his wife behind?”
Lundqvist rolled his eyes. “We all wondered about that one. She struts around here like it was her that built it all.”
“Some – for board meetings and such. I don’t know why. She’s not on the board, to the best of my knowledge.” He shook his head and stepped away from me. “But you work for her you said. Oh, no. I’ve said too much. Too much. Please don’t tell anyone I’ve told you anything. Please?”
“Don’t worry. This is just between the two of us.” I lied, but it might help him sleep better.
After a quick stop at my office to check for any mail or phone messages and, to be honest, to see if the building management hadn’t yet locked me out over that late rent check business, I went home.
Most of the furnished apartments I’ve lived in have been filled with furniture left behind by tenants who were either evicted or deceased. This one was no different. Everything looked like it had been dropped there by a tornado. No two items were the same color. The only trait they shared was that they all belonged in a landfill. Some days I feel the urge to join them.
I needed a change of scenery. I changed my shirt and, wearing my new suit, I called Ginger Cream to say we needed to talk. I jotted her address down on the back of an envelope and straightened my new necktie.
Calling her wasn’t easy. I had to go through three people before I actually got to speak with her. “I have a staff, you know” “I have a rod. It’s German, you know. It comforts me.” She didn’t get the reference.
The Cream Estate had a driveway long enough to make me regret not topping off my tank. I pulled in and parked my four door sedan next to a silver Sports Car that looked like it was going 120 miles per hour standing still. English I think, and it probably cost more than the graft income of most politicians.
Gita Tumulski has done well for herself. I wondered how much knowing her was going to cost me by the time this business was over.